Organically Raised – Conscious Cooking for Babies and Toddlers

Ever tried the little jars of baby food from the store? Yuck! Even before I knew much about whole foods I knew that those little jars were nasty. Not only do they taste quite bad IMO and not at all like the like real foods they are imitating, they are not fresh foods and they are packed with preservatives usually. From the beginning of my career as a mom I bypassed those jars as much as possible and opted to feed my babes what the rest of us were eating… pureed of course. I have a video of my youngest eating his first real meal at about 8 months old (breastfed before that). He devoured a puree of 13 bean stew… and I mean devoured. On the video he is trying to dive into the crock pot and he screams when the food is out of his reach. This is significant because this was just after my cancer diagnosis and my release from the hospital. My family was taking care of the little guy while I couldn’t and the breast milk bank was now permanently closed. They tried to feed him some store bought baby food and he did NOT like it. But the 13 bean stew? The boy was screaming (literally) for whole foods.

Recently I was sent a copy of the book Organically Raised – Conscious Cooking for Babies and Toddlers and I can’t say enough good things about it. Not only is it a beautiful book with tons of gorgeous pictures that had me drooling for baby and toddler food… the concept is so important for parents of young ones to grasp. Chemical laden baby food from jars is not really easier and more convenient than making wholesome organic, baby food yourself from whole foods. In my experience the opposite is true. I also believe that the BEST way to get your kids eating healthy whole foods, and tons of fruits and veggies as kids is to start by feeding them these foods as a baby in the freshest forms available. Is it any coincidence that my kids all ate REAL food as babes and that I now have zero problems in the getting kids to eat veggies department? I don’t think so. We went to a buffet recently and attracted much attention when my kids filled their own plates with broccoli, green beans, peas, mushrooms, and various fruits. Around me I saw several kids eating Jello and drumsticks for dinner… nuff said.

Also because they are so little and vulnerable, they benefit greatly from organic foods. They don’t need any more chemical exposure than they already get from their environment. This book gives lots of advice for feeding kids consciously with many delicious recipes. The toddler food is also great for encouraging adventurous eating. Greek falafel bites with cucumber-dill dipping sauce and quinoa primavera are healthy foods sure enough but they are also FAR from what kids who eat the SAD (Standard American Diet) are used to and that is a very good thing. Kids who are exposed to many different and unique foods as children will try more foods overall and have a more diverse diet as adults. That is code for saying they won’t be picky eaters. We all know those picky adult eaters don’t we? The ones who think anything but meat and potatoes is exotic and foreign.

I can’t wait to make some of these tasty toddler dishes for my youngest and thankfully there were lots of non meat recipes in the book because the boy isn’t big on eating things with faces. I know we will all love the food and I especially loved reading the book. The pictures alone made me sad that my young kiddo days are almost gone. If you are prone to baby fever you may not want to read it… the pictures of the babies and toddlers are just as delicious as the food ones.

This is THE cookbook for parents who want to feed their babies and toddlers organic, real, nourishing, whole foods. Thank you Anni Daulter for an amazing book!


Farm to Table or Why I LOVE Summer

by Tiffany in Eating Local

Farmer’s market produce, herbs and veggies from our own garden, grass fed butter, apple pie, Amish egg noodles, and homemade blueberry or peach frozen yogurt. Can summer be any more delicious??? Ask me again in Fall when I may just be singing the praises of apple butter, cider, and pumpkin pie… but for now summer is the yummiest season ever.

What are you eating this summer?


Green Home Energy Savers

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Just a few energy saver projects this week. When peak summer and winter electric bills come in I always get on a kick like this. I am going through a big box of goodies sent to me by a great sustainable goods company called Practecol. You can find their products at Target starting this month.

I started with a big energy hog… my bad ass pink computer. This lovely lady was custom built for me (she whose fingers are lightning fast and must have a computer that is equally fast) and is attached to other gadgets like a high speed router, HD monitor, iPod, printer, back-up hard drive, speakers, etc.

All the cords were plugged into a Foot Switch – 6 Outlet Surge Protector.

Nice bit kind of ugly… so I pushed all the cords behind the desk and left out the Foot Switch.

Nice! This product was made to help reduce energy costs by allowing you too turn off power going to all electronic products at once AND make the area less cluttered looking by giving you the nifty foot switch. And not having to reach down under the desk each night to flip the switch is nice. The foot switch has a green light that you can see in the dark so when all is shut down you just tap the switch with your foot and go to bed. Viola! Practecol estimates a savings of $84/year by cutting standby power to power sucking electronics. Even though I am good about turning stuff off, the groovy green light is a reminder for me to flip that last switch.

Next up I put the Practecol dryer balls to use. I have used dryer balls before, though not in awhile. Here they are posing next to my husband’s stinky and not-so eco friendly dryer sheets. Aren’t they pretty?

These heat-resistant dryer balls lift and separate your clothes to better circulate heat, reducing drying time and lowering energy costs. The company estimates that these save you 15% (or $20 per year) on energy costs. If you currently use dryer sheets, then the savings would be more.

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

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What is Baby Sign Language?

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

Baby sign language is American Sign Language, only cuter. And there’s often some drool thrown in for effect.

Seriously though, American Sign Language is the official language of the deaf community in the United States. You probably learned the American Sign Alphabet at some point in school.

The baby version of American Sign started in the 70’s when Joseph Garcia observed that the hearing babies of deaf parents learned to talk at an earlier age than the hearing babies of hearing parents. This intrigued Garcia, and prompted him to start a program that trained hearing parents to teach their babies sign language.

And Garcia’s original observation held true. Babies who learned to sign learned to speak at an earlier age than those who didn’t learn to sign. But that wasn’t all. Many other, unexpected benefits popped up. Babies and toddlers who signed showed less frustration, seemed to enjoy closer bonds with their parents, developed larger vocabularies early on, and even learned to read faster and more easily than their non-signing peers. I know, crazy right?

And it’s so simple! It is easy to teach your baby to sign. You don’t have to be fluent in American Sign Language. You can take it one sign at a time (or two, or three)!

A baby’s cognitive development is always ahead of his speech development. Many babies show proof of understanding what we say long before they are able to speak. Baby sign language can bridge this developmental gap. Signing with your baby will help her to communicate her thoughts long before she is able to verbalize them.

Many parents and caregivers choose to only teach a few signs, and that is fine! Some parents teach their babies to sign “diaper,” “down,” “eat,” and “milk” and stop there!

Imagine how much easier it would be if every time your baby wanted to nurse, she simply signed “milk.” She could sign before she cried. Wouldn’t that be great?

And many parents and caregivers teach their babies dozens of signs, so your baby could actually sign, “More applesauce please!”

Speaking of which, baby sign language is a great way to teach manners early. The signs for “please” and “thank you” are very easy to teach, and just as easy for your baby to learn.

A popular misconception is that babies who learn to sign will have no need for speaking, but this just isn’t the case. Study after study has shown the opposite to be true. Baby sign language encourages a baby to communicate, and fosters the skills and builds the confidence that he needs to do so.

It is easy to teach your baby sign language. The signs are all available for you at Baby Sign Language. If you are even thinking about it, you should give it a whirl. Your baby will thank you. She might even do it with a sign.

Guest post by Misty Weaver, Chief Editor, Baby Sign Language


Let the Children Lead the Way

by Tiffany in Tidbits

I am a big fan of child led learning. Many school principals and I have squared off over this issue. For some reason they just don’t like it when they come to you to complain about how your child doesn’t want to work on the assignments given to them and you say in return… “Well, perhaps it is boring them to tears. Have you tried reaching them by finding out what THEY want to learn about?” Often this is met with a sigh and look of pity about my apparent naivete. But I know it in my heart to be true. I know it because when the words “let’s go the library” are uttered in this house my children scream in happiness like wild banshees. Why? Because they are in charge. They get to follow their passions. For some bizarre reason adults think that kids shouldn’t have that right. But I delight in seeing what my children are interested in and then doing what I can to facilitate that learning.

My nearly ten year old son has been on a big time history kick for long while. Part of our recent trip to DC was to facilitate his learning about American history and the political system. At the library this week he got books about September 11th, The Perfect Storm, military tanks, and his biggest passions currently… Titanic and WWI. They boy can spend hours poring over books about these topics and on the rare occasions when he watches TV, it will almost always be the military channel.

This weekend we took the kids to the local science center, COSI. I spent hours in this place as a kid and now my own kids do too. The husband kindly took the two youngest kids to the play center and my oldest son and I got our boarding passes with White Star Lines for our journey on the RMS Titanic. Unfortunately they do not allow photos in the exhibit but it was quite awesome. On our boarding passes we got new identities as passengers who were actually on the Titanic. I was a 48 year old chicken farmer and mom of 5 from Sussex who was jilted by her husband and decided to go to the US to live with an older daughter. My son was a two year old child who was kidnapped by his father and was running to America.

We walked the halls of Titanic… seeing the first class and third class state rooms, looking at people posing as passengers and White Star Lines employees, seeing artifacts that were at the bottom of the ocean for decades. There was even a complete replica of the grand staircase. As you entered the dining Hall the music from the movie Titanic was playing. It was an awesome experience and my son was in heaven. At the end of the exhibit we perused the names of the passengers. My son, Master Edmond Roger Navratil, survived the sinking… I did not, Mrs. Edward Ford. All of the stuff he learned that day will be with him forever because he is passionate about it. Maybe what he learned is not important in the eyes of government or prospective employers but it is important to him and what is more important in life than to persue our passions? NOTHING.