The recent articles claiming “Organic Foods not Healthier” like this one, are completely misleading and frustrate me beyond belief. It’s almost as if these publications are trying to deceive you. I’m not even sure what the point of this study HERE was. The abstract states “However, current evidence does not support any meaningful nutritional benefits or deficits from eating organic compared with conventionally grown foods, and there are no well-powered human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or disease protection as a result of consuming an organic diet.”
To this I have to say, “yep”. I haven’t read anything where people claim that foods sprayed with pesticides are a different nutritional make up than organically grown foods. Why did we need a study to know this? What distress me is that the public is being misled to believe that organic foods aren’t as healthy as conventionally grown foods. How can anyone claim that spraying pesticides doesn’t effect the “health” of your foods? The articles reporting on this study completely disregard the effect pesticides have on our health.
So, incase there has been any confusion. Conventionally grown food IS NOT as healthy for you as organically grown foods. Organic foods make no promises to prevent disease or somehow magically infuse higher quality nutrition. Organically grown food simply gives you food without added carcinogens and hormone disruptors. THAT is better for your health. See the EPA’s site on the effects of pesticides HERE.
It was an imperfect but amazing day. The sun was out and a breeze kept us holding onto our cups and plates but the kids all seemed to have a great time! I have a hard time coming up with birthday themes that are fun for both a boy and a girl and the twins are not old enough to want to have separate parties. (Neither do we!) Their first birthday I found some pretty generic baby’s first birthday type plates, napkins and invites and didn’t get carried away with the theme. I was pretty overwhelmed just having two one year olds, let alone prepping for a party and feeding a house full of people. When DD and DS turned 2, we had their birthday at a local farm with a petting zoo and pony rides and made it a farm theme with plates. That year I made about two tons of organic mac&cheese with veggie noodles. It was a lot of work. This year I felt up for putting more effort into their party. It was appropriate because this year they “got” it. They appreciated all the decor and fun Cat in the Hat related goodies. Like I said in the beginning, it was imperfect but amazing!
I focused the theme on Thing 1 and Thing 2 but we had all kinds of Dr. Seuss decor. To start I went on line and searched for similar themes to get ideas from other creative people. Two ideas stuck out to me. The first was Thing 1 and Thing 2 inspired cupcakes with blue cotton candy topping to mimic Thing 1 and Thing 2′s hair. The second was 1 Fish, 2 Fish gelatin. The version online had blue jello with swedish fish in them and they were adorable.
Of course I have to complicate things…. I made the cupcakes out of an organic vanilla cake mix and frosting. I bought vegetable food coloring from whole foods in an attempt to make red cupcakes which I would top with the blue cotton candy. Well, the cake batter just wouldn’t take the food coloring and they turned out closer to tan than red. Apparently it is pretty hard to get red, even with regular food dyes. (See THIS link as to some of the health implications of artificial food coloring and dyes.) Even the icing was more of a tan/pink than red. Oh well, it was covered with blue cotton candy so you could hardly tell! The thought of all the crazy additives in the cotton candy made me wince as well so I was on a mission to find some organic blue cotton candy. I found a business in Santa Monica that would ship cotton candy to me so I decided to get enough to top our cupcakes and add a little to the goodie bags we would give to the kids. (If this is of interest to you, check out the Tasty Clouds website.They have some cute party ideas!)
Next was the One Fish, Two Fish gelatin. Again, the thought of using blue dye and plain old jello did not appeal. (Ever since I learned that jello is made from animal collagen I’ve avoided it completely. Yes, it’s pretty gross. Read HERE for details.) So how could I pull this one off? I found a great product at Whole Foods called Pomona’s Universal Pectin. It gels stuff. You can use it to make jellies, jams and gelatin. I made this gelatin by starting with a white grape juice, bringing it to boil and following the directions that came with the pectin. I attempted to use my vegetable based food coloring to color the gelatin blue to no avail. No matter how much blue I added, the result was pinkish red. This was somewhat disappointing. Had I known this would be the result, I would have left it the juice color which was almost clear. If you are trying to avoid synthetic dyes I suggest using a clear juice and getting a blue marker to make a water like mark around the clear cup you put the gelatin in. (I’m kicking myself for forgetting to take pictures of the gelatin!) The inspiration for this concoction had Swedish Fish candies poked into the blue jello. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I didn’t want to use Swedish Fish either, right? Yeah, lots of candies have all kinds of crazy things added to them so this project led me on a hunt for an organic gummy fish candy. What did I find? Not a whole lot. I did find an organic shark shaped gummy candy! They are called Sharkies and they are for adults and kids. Everyone ate them right up even though they didn’t exactly look like fish in water. At least they tasted good! (Note to anyone attempting these, put the candies in at the last minute. I added mine when they were partially gelled and they melted overnight. Good thing I had extra!
Aside from these two food projects, I ordered a few yards of Dr. Seuss fabric from Amazon to decorate tables with along with some Dr. Seuss watches for goodie bags. I made some crayons from broken ones as well as crayons we had collected from restaurants over the years. I got some wonderful stickers from the website that I ordered the invitations from and put those on the crayons and the goodie bags. I ordered adorable invitations from Amy’s Card Creations. She has a bunch of twin cards and made a custom banner just for our party! They turned out very nicely.
I especially love having “spa water” available for everyone whenever we have a gathering at our house. It is super easy to make and is very relaxing and refreshing. Just cut up an orange, some cucumber and add some muddled mint to your water jug! Yum….
DD & DS had great fun wearing big Cat in the Hat hats as well as Thing 1 and Thing 2 t-shirts I ordered from Amazon. They enjoyed playing Cat in the Hat memory game and all the kids loved playing out back with the mini parachute! Loved this party and theme!
Did you know that you can use coconut oil for diaper rash cream? It can be used for dry or irritated skin in general. This last weekend I used it as lip balm on DD’s poor cracked dry lips. (She is sick again and is mouth breathing.) Her lips were totally repaired by day 2. Coconut oil is cloth diaper safe. Using coconut oil also means I’m not worried about putting a petroleum based product on their skin. Added bonus * it helps keep the frizzies out of my hair!
I bought this large tub of coconut oil at my local Sprouts (you can also get it at Trader Joes for about $5). It stores as a solid but it warms into a clear liquid with the heat of your hands. In order to keep our jar free of contaminants, I filled several old glass used baby food jars with the oil using a butter knife. I have one upstairs, one down stairs and one in my diaper bag. I also keep a separate jar just for use on the face or lips. As long as you don’t double dip and wash your hands before and after every use, contaminating you small jars shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m not the only one using the coconut oil so I’m careful. (Yes, nursing school does a really good job of teaching you sterile technique which pretty much makes you think of everything in life as being contaminated.) Whatever, due to my “paranoia” my kids actually ask to wash their hands so I’ll count that as having done something right.
Here’s a link to a site that lists 80 Uses for Coconut Oil. Um, yeah, it’s pretty amazing stuff. It’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and improves nutrient absorption according to this article. Here is another site list benefits of coconut oil as well, Health Benefits of Coconut Oil. Happy healing!
My husband and I have chosen to feed our children (and ourselves) organic foods when they are an option. We haven’t gotten obsessive with going organic. We don’t insist that every food that goes into their mouths has an organic label on it. We don’t WANT to pay more for their food. We have decided that feeding them healthy foods is worth the extra effort and $acrifice. I have recently learned that canned foods expose their consumers to BPA, and this has sparked yet another change in our diet. I put the extra effort (most of the time) into cooking beans, roasting tomatoes, and buying tuna in tetra packages, instead of preparing these foods from a can.
What’s the struggle and why? If you set two strawberries (one organic and one littered with pesticides) side by side, I won’t tell you that the organic one will taste better. I will tell you that I’d rather avoid the strawberry that may lead to cancer, negatively
effect my nervous system and/or endocrine (hormone) system, or irritate my skin and or eyes. I surely wouldn’t hand one to my developing baby or child, knowing that it could damage them. (For more information about the ill effects of pesticides please see this link to the EPA’s page on pesticides HERE.) I painfully submit to my children’s pleas for fruits of all kinds when we are out to eat or at a friend or family’s house – but only if I haven’t packed an alternate fruit of my own. Grapes and strawberries are some of the most treated fruits out there and I will often steer my kids clear of the kind gestures to share non-organic ones.
I think our society will look back at pesticides with disgust in the near future, similar to the way I now see smoking. It makes me think back to when I was a kid. Women smoked while pregnant, so what if it led to lighter birth weight – less for them to push out!- right?! Uh, no. Family members smoked around kids. It was all over TV, the movies, and restaurants. When I travel to states that still have a smoking section I feel like I traveled back in time 50 years. I have friends and family members that smoke. I’m not condemning them. They have made a personal choice and it led to a hell of an addiction. But I try to avoid second hand smoke like the plague. I don’t even mean to wrinkle up my nose and make the coughing sounds I do when walking past someone smoking. My point is, I try to avoid exposing my children to things that MAY harm them.
Why then, is it such a struggle to get others on board? No, I don’t expect my playgroup moms to purchase all organic ingredients for the muffins they have so generously prepared in celebration of their child’s birthday. What I do expect is if you are going out of your way to buy my kids some melon, pick the organic one or just bring a big hug instead. Please don’t tempt them away from the wonderful well rounded meal I have set in front of them with tales of dessert. My kids don’t know that word yet. As a general rule I don’t give them candy. They have had a few organic lollipops and a few cupcakes and a few cookies. They don’t get a sugar filled treat after dinner right before bed every night.
I’m trying to instill a healthy diet in them early on. I want them to crave an orange instead of an OREO when they are 10 years old. Sure I expect them to indulge once in a while but if they learn how to love eating veggies now, maybe while they are in college eating nothing but pizza, they will miss the garlic salt and parmesan roasted zucchini of their younger years. Maybe they will suffer less migraines, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or out of control blood sugars that the rest of their elder family members struggle with.
Raising kids is HARD work. I struggle to keep from raising my voice at them during this “terrible twos” stage (which really starts at 18 months and lasts until 3 or 4, right?). I’m trying to grow them into considerate, kind, loving people by setting boundaries, rules and schedules. I talk to them and explain “why?” as much as I can. They are learning in every moment! I remind myself to tell my husband thank you and please and give kisses in front of the kids so that they learn from example. I’m no where NEAR perfect and have raised my voice at them, taken my own momma time outs, and set poor examples as well. I’m trying. Support is always welcome. I love when my mother’s helpers (past and present) observe the way I redirect the twins, explain right from wrong, or give time outs, and then they remain consistent with my methods in their interactions with my children.
I hope that you have support in your parenting choices. It can be daunting to make “unique” decisions when it comes to your kids. Many people have looked at me strangely after revealing that we have chosen to cloth diaper (no we don’t use diaper pins), not spoon feed our twins baby food (responses went from “What?!? They’re gonna choke!” to “Wow, they really eat well for their age!”), eat mostly organic, grow some of our own food, keep the kids on a nap and bedtime schedule – even when it means that we don’t get to do some things that we would like to do. That’s life as a parent right? You sacrifice some of the things you want, so that your children can have what you hope will be a better life than you had. Hugs to all you parents doing the best you can. That’s all we can do.
Is that an oxymoron? Fast food tends to be on the, shall we say, less than healthy side. Still, I like to have a nice place to take my kids for a healthy meal – other than my house. I figured I’d share my favorites in case you were looking.
We have several favorites, but the first two are big chains that are doing a lot about making “fast food” better in quality and taste.
Sharky’s is one of my favorite restaurants. They have organic options as well as low calorie options. They also have a kids menu that isn’t limited to chicken fingers or grilled cheese like most others. We like to get a half power plate for the kids to share. This includes a protein (chicken, steak or tofu) and two sides. They have some great sides to choose from also. We like to get black beans and yams. Their yams are supper yummy. They are basically like mashed sweet potatoes. They also offer brown rice, pinto beans, and veggies like broccoli. I’m so glad there are restaurants out there that value growth hormone free, preservative free, steroid free, and antibiotic free meats. THANK YOU SHARKY’S! Sharky’s also has plenty of highchairs for us to eat in the restaurant with friends who have toddlers as well. They are always friendly, helpful, and never give us dirty looks for the inevitable mess that follows toddlers consuming food.
Chipotle is another favorite. They also offer hormone free meats and dairy products. They use local, organic ingredients when “practical” and keep the big picture in mind. They consider not only people (family farms), but animals (many free range animals and naturally raised animals), and the environment (recycled napkins and local produce when practical). Did I mention how good this food is? We usually get a chicken quesadilla with cheese and a side of black beans for the kids. I’m a big fan of the burrito bowl. Have I mentioned how good it feels to know that the chicken I’m giving my kids is from chickens that eat arsenic FREE feed? THANK YOU CHIPOTLE! Chipotle employees have also been very kind and have highchairs for several kiddos.
The Natural Cafe has been a healthy favorite for some time now. We have plenty to choose from here! Our 26 month olds LOVE “The Natty Cafe(‘s)” (as we call it) soups! They are pretty tasty. We all enjoy sharing a carrot shake as well. (It might sound strange, but it’s flavored with nutmeg and is SO GOOD!) My kids like the grilled tofu and almost anything they can reach from my plate, including lots of veggies. I think their favorite Natural Cafe meal is a shared soup and side of hummus. They have eaten veggie soups from this place that I never thought they would. Cream of asparagus? YES. Ate it and said “Yummy mommy!” The Natural Cafe is also very environmentally conscious. They have water glasses for you to fill yourself (so as not to waste water you don’t drink or water to wash a glass you don’t use), and recycle containers for glass bottles and cans. (Why don’t ALL restaurants recycle? It seems like a no brainer to me…) The Natural Cafe has plenty of highchairs for us to meet with friends to eat and not have to bring our own portable chairs.
I hope this has inspired you to look into some of your local favorite places to eat. I think it’s important to support places like the above listed. I’m proud that they are trying to make a difference in the world while continuing to produce great food!