It's Easy Being a Green Mama


Feeding my family…on the go
August 13, 2017, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I meant to write a blog post earlier this week, but things have been hectic.  I got back from my weekend away Tuesday morning, just in time to help the kids get ready to go back to school.  For some people, having two kids in school might make for more free time, but for me, I get busier than ever.  Now I have to rush everyone to where they need to be, in addition to all the regular chores, like walking the dog, cleaning, volunteering, and trying to find time for the baby to nap.

Somewhere in all this busyness everyone needs to eat, and we eat on five different schedules.  It’s easy to reach for the nearest food option, be it fast food or a bag of chips. This kind of eating quickly gets expensive, and often isn’t as healthy as the food I would prepare at home. The trick  of avoiding fast food is having a routine of food preparation.

Like many moms, I do a lot of my meal prep at night.  I make everyone’s lunch the night before, and sometimes get breakfast and dinner ready as well.  My oldest eats lunch at school, and almost always brings her lunch.  I pack her a bento style box, and a reusable water bottle.  The two girls both bring snacks to school.  I use cloth sandwich bags to put different snacks in.   I also pack snacks for the baby and me to have on hand while we’re out running around the next day.  My daily snack, which I usually end up sharing, is air-popped popcorn, with a sprinkle of grapeseed oil and nutritional yeast, mixed with some raw nuts and dried fruit.  I take that and two water bottles with me in the car.  I also like to bring kale chips, energy bites, fruit, and usually crackers for the kids.

I prep the next day’s dinner.  I have been making lots of slow cooker meals, which I get all ready the night before.  Everything is ready to go, so all I have to do is take it out of the refrigerator and turn it on in the morning.  If it’s not a slow cooker meal, I make dinner during the baby’s morning nap while the girls are at school.

Finally, I get my breakfast ready, by getting my dry ingredients for my smoothie next to my blender for the morning. I like to get up before everyone else.  Some people have their coffee, but I like to make my smoothie and sit for five minutes of calm and peace before the craziness of the morning.

Of course, realistically, I get a snack or meal on the go frequently.  I try to eat food that is minimally processed, but it can be hard to find.  At home, I tend to frequent the same few places.  This past week, I spend time in Bend, Oregon. I went to Next Level Burger for lunch, and I had a vegan burger there.  They reused or composted everything.  It also made it very easy to stick to my no disposable straws/bags commitment, because neither was offered.  I also got a smoothie, which was great, but I felt very guilty, because the cup I drank it out of was a one-use cup (made out of corn, but still).

Usually, eating out, especially with kids, even if I remember to bring our own bottles from home, there’s all the paper napkins that get used with my messy kids.  Plus, they tend not to eat everything (at least my two daughters) and we have to bring it home in a container.  I try to wash those and re-use them when I can, but often they get tossed out.  There’s also plastic forks, knives and spoons that get tossed after one use.

I’ve already gotten into the habit of bringing my stainless steel straws with me.  I usually have my water bottle.  So my next step, for this week’s challenge, is to bring my own utensils and take home containers, so those don’t get wasted, either.  If I bring my own things from home that I’ll have to wash, it will force me to think twice if I really need to buy that food, or just eat what I already have.



Shopping for food as a green mama
August 4, 2017, 12:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

My priority for feeding my family is a plant-based, whole food diet as much possible.  I find that getting most of our nutrients from plants is cheaper and it saves energy.   Our family rarely eats meat, so when we do, I usually get organic.  It makes it more feasible for me to spend the money on it when we don’t do it often.  I try to make most of my meals from scratch.  If I can’t make all the food from scratch, if at all possible, I try to buy food with ingredients that are simple.

In a future blog post, I plan to go into the reasons of why I eat the way I do.  I am not the strictest at eating this way, but I try to stick to it.  It is much easier to grab goldfish and veggie straws, especially with the amount of time I get to prepare snacks and meals.

I love food shopping, honestly.  I try to go without the kids when I can.  Sometimes my husband lets me go run errands on the weekends by myself, which for moms of young children, is like a vacation.  When this happens, I get to go to some of my favorite places (multiple ones) to get ingredients.  I love going to smaller, family run businesses if I can.  I like to see what interesting, seasonal items they have.  I have a weakness for exotic food and produce that I’ve never seen before.  Being a green mama, this can get me into trouble, and I don’t buy it if I can’t justify it.  When the kids are with me, I usually end up at the supermarket with them, grabbing things as fast as I can, giving them cookies and taking deep breaths.

Like many mamas, I plan my meals, make a list, and then try to stick to it.  I’m not much of a couponer, to be honest.  I have tried it, and I’m not good at finding the time to look for coupons that I’ll use.  I love when our local grocery chain sends me coupons for fresh items, like dairy or fruit, which they do because I joined the baby club.  I also love when my favorite smaller businesses send me a coupon through e-mail.  I try to buy bulk of items, or get them when they’re on sale.   I also try to get produce when it’s in season, it’s usually cheaper, and then freeze it.

Other options for buying fresh local produce is going to local farmer’s markets and belonging to a co-op.  I have tried both of these things, but haven’t done it lately.  We also have had a garden in the past.  While labor intensive, I love having a garden.  When kids contribute, they definitely are more excited to eat their food.   Plus, you have complete control, and you know exactly what pesticides were used on your food.  The best broccoli I’ve ever eaten was picked that day.

When I go shopping, I sometimes come home with so many plastic bags.  I reuse some of them for trash and for my dog, but they easily fill up in our closet. Sometimes I remember to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store.  So this week’s challenge is to say NO to plastic bags.  I will bring my reusable bags every time I leave my house, including to go to the book store, toy store, and clothes store.

Plastic bags contribute to the plastic floating around the ocean.  Leatherbacks, which love to eat jellyfish, mistake them for the favorite food, and mistakenly eat them.  Read more about it here:   https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

I’m giving myself a second challenge.  I’m going to try making sure the produce I get is local.  I’m going to check out the farmer’s market across the street.  I’m also going to sign up for a box from Space Girl Organics.  I’ll let you know how it goes very soon.  This is the organization I’m going to use:  https://www.spacegirlorganics.com/

I have so much more to say on the topics of feeding my family.  It is so important to me, and it is a labor of love!



It’s still easy to be a green mama
July 27, 2017, 12:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Like it usually does when you’re raising children, time has flown by.  It’s been nearly five years since I wrote in this blog.  A lot has happened.  I now have three kids, not just one.  The oldest is about to start first grade, my middle child will be in preschool, and my youngest will continue to hang out with me.  I have gotten to do other creative projects, I’ve tried working part time outside the home, and I’ve learned a lot about parenting.  I have explored different methods of being crunchy and frugal.

Having three kids has kept me on my toes.  These three kids are individuals with different learning styles, different motivations, and different personalities.  For example, my oldest has had to overcome a lot of sensory sensitivities, and it’s only now that she is not overcome by loud noises. Whereas my youngest is a sensory seeker; he encounters most things as an adventure.  It certainly makes introducing new foods to him much easier.

I always knew parenting isn’t easy.  And having three hasn’t made it harder, just more challenging in an exciting way.  I’m never without love, and rarely alone.  As I write this, my wiggly one year old is in my lap, and he is trying very hard to help type.  His two big sisters are having “quiet” time.  As good a time as any for writing.

Having a chaotic home, with lots of busy bodies, and a hectic schedule can make it more challenging for me to pay attention to what really matters.  But also more rewarding.  I need to provide a bright future for these children.  I want them to have a beautiful planet to explore.  I want them to have their needs met without clutter.   I have stuck to the core of being green, but some of things have gotten away from me.

I have returned to writing this blog for many reasons.  The biggest one is, I want to be held accountable.  I have ideas for new ways to be green and if I make it public, I feel like I’m much more likely to carry through.  I still believe, very much, in all the things I’ve set out to do.  With three kids, being green is so important.  I don’t think zero waste is realistic for our family, but I can help minimize it.

Challenge 1:

NO PLASTIC STRAWS

We live very close to the ocean, and very close to a unique and important estuary.  I hear constant reminders to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  My first step in reducing my plastic consumption is to stop using disposable drinking straws.  Say no thank you, and when I really need a straw, to use my brand new stainless steel straws. My family goes through so many straws, and I, as the mom, influence the kids in what they consume.  So, as a family, we’re saying NO to disposable straws.

I hope you’ll accept this challenge with me.  I know it’s small, but if more and more people join me, we can slowly reduce the amount of plastic being thrown away.

The straws I bought:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Drinking-Reusable-Ecofriendly-Silencers/dp/B01N233PEG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501116556&sr=8-1&keywords=stainless+steel+straws+rainier

I plan to introduce a new challenge every week, and get rid of as much of my wasteful practices as I can.  Check back here soon, to see what is next.

To read more about how plastic is impacting the planet, visit this site:

http://plastictides.org/gclid=CjwKCAjw2NvLBRAjEiwAF98GMRTeGXC0eec1b1Qazo9WhXzmqh_tM28I6X1EFyAVEv2YzhkJon-OMxoCp00QAvD_BwE

 



Cooking for Your Baby Part 2: The Basics
August 4, 2012, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Cooking for Your Baby Part 2: The Basics.



Cooking for Your Baby Part 2: The Basics

I learned a lot about feeding children from Bread and Jam for Frances.  If you’re not familiar with this classic, it was written in a time before organic yogurt melts and worrying about egg whites, but also before high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  The sack lunches these fictional kids from the 60s eat make them seem like gourmands compared to kids today.  In the story, Frances only wants to eat bread and jam, but she learns to love a variety of foods.  “I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,'” she said. ‘”And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with.”  By the end of the story, she’s enjoying all these wonderful meals, not just eating her favorite treat.

Frances has learned the secret to a happy and healthy life: everything in moderation.  Don’t skip your favorite foods, just include them with all these other foods.  And you don’t see Frances eating French fries or a Happy Meal.  For babies, getting them to eat healthy food should be a piece of cake.  When you first introduce food, give them something delicious and jam packed with nutrients, and build from there.  As a green mama, it seems hard to feed your family in a healthy way and still stick to a budget.  The key is to make it yourself.  To make first foods, it is so simple.  Make a big batch using a food processor, and store it in your freezer.

To make a wonderful first food,  sweet potatoes, peel a sweet potato, then steam it in a steamer basket over boiling water until it’s tender.  Next, Process it until smooth.  Finally, divide it up into a bpa-free ice cube tray and store it in your freezer.  Thaw them as needed.  For avocado it’s even easier: mash a ripe avocado.  Most early foods follow these steps.  And if you’re on the go, get yourself some small jars and a cooler, and bring it with you.  When you make it yourself, you know that no preservatives went in it.  When you start researching, you may find out how laden with extras your baby’s prepared food is.  If money is no object, you can buy organic baby food and most of it is preservative free.  But your organic baby food still has a shelf life of 3 years, meaning that it has been heated to an extreme degree.  Some people believe this means that many of the nutrients have been lost in the process.  I prefer not to have to worry about it.  I don’t mind spending a few minutes pureeing some bananas so that I know she’s eating only what I intend and nothing more.

It can be frustrating when I lovingly make her food and she rejects it without really trying it.  As a green mama, I hate wasting food, and I want my daughter to have a healthy attitude towards eating.  I follow the lesson of  Bread and Jam for Frances and keep offering it. In the beginning, eating is more of a learning experience than about nutrition.    Sometimes, the sensory experience of eating can be overwhelming; new textures, smells, and colors can be a lot to handle.  Follow their cues.  If they’re not ready, take a step back and wait.  Sometimes you may have a precocious eater who’s ready to move on to more complex foods, and that’s ok, too.  Just make sure you supervise your child at all times.  My daughter really didn’t eat baby food for very long before she was eating table food.  It may have been because she got her teeth so early or because she wanted what her parents had.
Which leads me to another very important point, perhaps the most important of all: be a good example.  Model the behavior you want your child to have.  This is so important in just about every facet of your role as a parent.  If you want your child to be green, you have to be green.  If you want your child to eat healthy, non-processed food, then you eat it, too.

Don’t wait for your child to be old enough to understand reason to start explaining why they need to eat an apple instead of a cookie.  It’s much harder to get them started on healthy habits then.  Get them full on the good stuff, and then give them a treat if they still have room.  For snacks, give them fruit or veggies.  Always have something healthy on hand, wherever you go.  If Frances can learn to love to eat good food, so can anyone.



Cooking for your Baby; Part 1. Learning the Hard Way

There’s a lot of pressure on parents and caretakers to properly feed infants.  Besides the fact that their brains and bodies are growing rapidly, they are forming lifelong tastes for food.  Like most parents, I wanted my daughter to enjoy eating, and learn to love healthy food.  I also want her to be open to trying new things.  I have learned that the hard way that the  experience of eating is not just about food, but also about textures.

Offering solids to an infant is fraught with peril.  When to offer, what to offer, how much, how frequently-there’s so much to take in.  And the answers to these questions is different for each child.

Introducing new foods has definitely not gone according to my plan.  As hard as it is, I’m glad I learned early on.  I had this idea, that I would introduce foods on a schedule, and that it would be predictable.  We started off so well.   She loved everything she tried, and would eat things like crazy.  My husband and I would make big batches of baby food, so we always had enough.  Then we hit a snag, when at seven months, my precious girl would not touch any solids at all.  It was back to square one.

I got creative.  I learned to be flexible.  I have learned a lot of tricks, which I would love to share someday.  One of the most important lessons for new parents to remember is what works for my child might not work for yours.   They’re individuals; mine is independent, stubborn, and sensitive.  Wonder where she got those traits from?

Throughout this process, I’ve been cooking for her.  It takes a few extra minutes, compared to buying ready-made food, but it’s so worth it.  I have control over what she’s eating, and I can ensure that what she’s getting is exactly what I’ve intended.   It seems like the next logical step, after breastfeeding.  I want to continue to offer her the best nutrition possible, and nothing more.  Plus, there’s the cost.  Buying organic jars of baby food is much more expensive than doing it yourself.  And it’s incredibly easy to make most purees.  My biggest example of this is yogurt intended for very young children.  Most of it is fruit flavored.  I would love it if the ingredients were yogurt and fruit, but there’s always “natural flavoring”.  So I buy plain yogurt and add my own fruit.   It really ends up being a heck of a lot cheaper too, and so easy.

I don’t like to eat natural or artificial flavors, so I try not to feed them to my rapidly growing child.  This is such a crucial time in her development.  Even before I became a mother, I had become something of a food nut.  I didn’t start out this way.  When I was a child, I pictured myself eating ice cream and french fries for three meals a day, with candy for snacks.  When I was in college, I ate the worst junk food in the world.  I have nothing to say for myself, except that I am reformed.  As I got out on my own, I gradually shifted away from processed food.  Today,  I follow Michael Pollan’s food rules for the most part, which means I eat a mostly vegetarian diet.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am constantly eating, and that I love to eat.  I really enjoy fresh, whole foods, and I am able to do it on a budget.

The hard part of eating well is making the time to do it, but I make it a priority.  Often, when my daughter is napping, I’m prepping food.  I spend Sundays making large batches of things for later on.  I also take her with me to farmers’ markets and produce stands.   Children learn by example, and I want her to eat real food. Part of eating well is being connected to your food; knowing where it comes from.   I can spend years talking about eating real food.  I just want to emphasize how important real food is to our lives.  Everyone needs to eat, no matter what your occupation or passion in life is.   Why not fill those meals up with healthy food?   I find that making food yourself, from whole ingredients, pretty much takes care of the healthy part.  You won’t need to worry about calories, cholesterol, or fat, if you make it yourself.  It’s true, just because you made the chocolate eclairs from 100% fair trade organic cacao doesn’t make it good for you.  But it takes quite a long time to make that eclair, so it’s a big treat.  And this green mama believes firmly in the motto, everything in moderation.

Green mamas definitely want to feed their families well.  We need to get our babies started on the right path, and that means, if it all possible, cooking from scratch.  And if you make it yourself, it’s so much easier to do it cheaply.  It’s especially easy in the beginning, and so next time, I’ll talk about first foods.



Worth every penny: Part 3 of Everything Cloth Diapers
May 21, 2012, 1:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Worth every penny: Part 3 of Everything Cloth Diapers.