Baby on your back – part 1

One of my friends had some questions about how I wear Milan on my back, so I thought I’d do a video to show you. The wrap that I use in the video is just a 5 yard long, 30 inches wide piece of woven material. My friend bought the material and it was 60 inches wide. SO she just cut it in half and gave me the other half. Very inexpensive, but very good.

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Marscapone Cream Sauce

While at Trader Joe’s, I saw some lobster ravioli. Of course I snatched it up. But when I got it home, I really didn’t know what kind of sauce I should use with it. After several days of deliberation, I decided to do a cream sauce. So back to Trader Joe’s I went…

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup mushrooms, diced
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 8 oz Marscapone cheese (in a tub)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 slice of provolone (this is optional, I added it to add a little bit of saltiness)
  • Milk as desired

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan on low to medium heat. Once oil is heated, add mushrooms and onions. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the salt, pepper and Marscapone to the pan. Make sure you do not have a high flame or the cheese will break down. If it is low enough, the cheese will just melt into a thick cream.

Once the Marscapone has completely melted and before it starts to boil, turn off the burner. Add the parmesan and shred the slice of provolone into the sauce. Continue to stir until the cheese has completely melted. If the sauce seems to thick slowly add a little bit of milk to thin it out. You can also use heavy cream, but I find the milk works perfectly fine.

Serve immediately or in my case pour over lobster ravioli.

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Pitocin and Autism

I was watching the news and there was a teaser about a jaundice and autism link. After reviewing the “study”, it is inconclusive and also contradictory to several other studies that have previously explored this link.

After reading up on the “jaundice link” I continued to to see if I could find any more information about Pitocin and Autism. I came across an interesting article: A Possible Link Between Childhood Autism and Pitocin | Houston Birth Doula.

While I was pregnant, I came across some preliminary research that showed there could be a link between Pitocin and Autism. All of the top scientists do agree on one thing, many cases are genetic but there is such a steep increase in Autism that it can’t all be related to genetics.

Yes, it is true that we have much better testing thus many more cases are being diagnosed. But that doesn’t account for the sharp incline. It also doesn’t account for why it is much more common in boys instead of girls. Of all of the theories I have heard, the Pitocin link seems to make the most sense.

Whether or not you think that Pitocin is the sole cause of Autism, I do feel that just like all medications, the risks should be assessed. There are of course some really good reasons to use Pitocin, but it shouldn’t necessarily be given out haphazardly. There just isn’t enough research to prove that its harmful or to prove that its 100% safe.

Obviously, this is all just my own observations and I haven’t done any major scientific research to back up these conclusions. I just feel that Autism is a genetic disorder that is triggered by some environmental factor. I think Pitocin could be one of probably several.

No one would argue that clean food (free of pesticides and preservatives) and a clean environment (don’t even get me started on chemicals and our environment) is beneficial to everyone.  Why is there always so much push back when we, the public, question the chemicals that are being put into our children? Our modern medicines are chemically based. Is it so wrong to wonder if they could be causing a problem?

The medical community has made mistakes in the past when it comes to pregnancy. Just take a look at x-rays, Thalidomide and Cytotec. Pitocin was never approved for the majority of the current doses that are being administered now. More is not always better.

Melissa of the Mothers of Change blog wrote about this subject, too  – If you found this article interesting, you’ll definitely find hers to be, too. Mothers of Change: Pitocin and Autism. Is there a link?.

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Frozen chopped celery looks bad but it isn’t

Recently in my article about prepping your vegetables ahead of time, I mentioned that we have chopped frozen celery on hand. I think its important that I emphasize that most vegetables and fruits are not the same after being frozen.

Celery is one of them. Its mostly made of water, so it looks like a discolored green slush when its frozen. They will never really be crunchy and crispy again. But for soups, stews and other slow cooked meals (what else do you use celery for anyways?) they are perfectly fine.

I find the same thing to be true with berries. Frozen strawberries, blueberries and blackberries will never be the same as fresh. But they are great in fruit smoothies and so easy to use when you want a yummy fruit topping for pancakes. My husband likes to heat them up in a pan and mix them with a little bit of maple syrup or honey – yum! In fact, we’ll probably have some on our pancakes tomorrow.

So just a reminder – Do not freeze your vegetables and fruits if you want to eat them in a raw or nearly raw state after you thaw them.

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Mercury, lead and placenta used in some makeup

The Skin Deep Cosmetic Database is awesome source whenever you’re thinking about trying a new line of beauty products. While I was on there trying to decide between the Korres Mascara & the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Natural Mascara, I saw a link to a special beauty report – “What Not To Buy.”

Apparently, some companies use mercury, lead and placenta! Yes, placenta! How gross is that? Luckily, it wasn’t in any of the products I currently use or was thinking about using, but ugh!

The report is interesting. It also mentions the problems with fragrance, nanoparticles and phthalates. I’ve been using fragrance free products for years so that’s not new to me. I’ve also learned quite a bit about phthalates. But I didn’t know about nanoparticles. Those kind of scare me. Just like GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) we really don’t know what the long term effects are. Its alarming to see how many of these known problem causing chemicals are used in baby products.

There is more and more research coming out about the negative impact of GMO’s (Dr. Mercola has an article about the dangers of GMO’s on his website). I try my best to keep them out of my family’s diet. But I’m sure that they get in there, especially when we eat out.

It bugs me that industries just haphazardly use new technology and products without the research. It is very reminiscent of x-rays and pregnant women. Once x-rays came out, they used them on everyone without checking to see if there were any potential risks or long term damage. We now know that there are.

I would never just enroll my son in a new study to test a new medicine. Why do we all have to be the guinea pigs for the long term testing of GMO’s, nanoparticles and other chemicals without us evening knowing it? I hope that some day things will change. But for now, the best thing I can do is spread the word and hopefully enough people will realize the inherent dangers of consuming first and testing later.

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Easy Lasagna

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been making lasagna for years. My mom taught me when I was about 10. I’ve varied my recipe throughout the years but this is my basic recipe that I follow.

I use all of the optional ingredients to make a super healthy, yummy meal. My son has been gobbling this up since he was about 10 months old. It is definitely one of his favorites. My husband even likes it and he doesn’t like broccoli – except in my lasagna.

Ingredients:

  • Package of lasagna noodles
  • 24 oz of pasta sauce (you can make your own or buy it)
  • 8 oz of pasta sauce reserved
  • 16oz package of shredded Italian cheese (blends work great – I love the Quattro Formagio from Trader Joe’s) divided into 2 parts
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 1 cup milk

Optional

  • 1 lb meat (beef, turkey or veggie)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 8 0z mushrooms, sliced
  • Frozen package of spinach
  • Frozen package of broccoli
  • 1 cup Carrot puree

Instructions:

These are the directions for using all the optional ingredients.  You can eliminate any or all of them for your desired flavor.

Heat oven to 350°. If your spinach and broccoli are not defrosted throw them in a large saute pan and heat until all the ice has melted.  Add the meat, onions and mushrooms. If you already defrosted your broccoli and spinach, then add them in at the same time as the other items. Saute until the meat is cooked through. If you’re using the carrot puree, add it in.

If your saute pan is large enough, add the 24 oz of pasta sauce and mix.  Turn off the burner.

Mix the cottage cheese, 8 oz of Italian cheese and milk in a bowl.

Now you begin layering into your 13 x 9.  Start with the 8 oz of pasta sauce. Put a layer of lasagna noodles on top.  You don’t need to cook the lasagna noodles ahead of time. Spoon and smooth ½ of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Now about a third of the pasta sauce. Repeat layer of noodles, cheese mixture and sauce.  Follow with a layer of noodles and the remaining third of pasta sauce. Top it off with the rest of the shredded Italian cheese. Cover with aluminum foil

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted to the consistency that you like (my husband LOVES the cheese when its really crispy so we bake it a bit longer).

Enjoy!

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Chicken and Dumplings

I’m really on a crock pot kick these days. Last night I made chicken and dumplings. It was my favorite thing that my grandma used to always make. I searched for a good recipe, but couldn’t find one that I liked. So I merged a few of them and came up with my own. The funny thing is, it tasted exactly like how I remember my grandma’s tasting. My husband was happy. He told me to write this one down, so this is for him.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ lb chicken on the bone or 1 lb boneless chicken
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 3-4 stalks, chopped celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • small handful of fresh parsley (probably 1½ tbsp dry)
  • 1 sprig of thyme (probably ½ tsp dry)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Dash of paprika
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp water

Dumplings:

  • 2 cups Bisquik or other pancake mix that has a recipe for biscuits on it
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions:

Put all of the ingredients in the crock pot except the 2 tbsp of flour and 1 tbsp of water (you’ll use that later). I put the chicken in last since it had the skin on. You shouldn’t put your meat in first unless its cooked otherwise the fat from the meat can cause the bottom to heat unevenly thus sometimes burning. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Longer is better.

About an hour before you want to eat, carefully (using tongs or long fork) remove any bones if you have them in the pot. Then mix the flour and water together in a separate bowl to form a non-lumpy paste. You can add more water if you need it in order to get out the lumps. Stir it into the crock pot and turn it up to high. As for what kind of flour: you can use all-purpose, whole wheat, oatmeal, garbanzo or pretty much any kind. You can even just use cornstarch. Its really just about thickening it up.

Mix together the Bisquik (or other mix) and milk. Drop the dumplings into the liquid. The dumplings will need about 45-55 minutes to cook. You’ll know they’re ready when they’re a bit dry and not looking like dough.

Enjoy!

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Crock Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers

I’ve been playing around with stuffed bell pepper recipes for quite awhile. I normally cook them in the oven, but recently I’ve been trying to use my crock pot more often. As a mom, I find it to be absolutely indispensable. You can prep it either the night before or in the morning and then forget about it.

Most of the recipes call for cooked rice, so I’ve been on a mission not to figure out how to do it without cooking the rice ahead of time. After all, if I wanted to spend so much time over the stove, I would’ve done them the traditional way in the oven. Luckily for us, I got the recipe right this time.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 bell peppers (I prefer red, orange or yellow) – whatever will fit in your crock pot
  • ¾ lb ground meat (turkey, beef or veggie – makes a good vegan meal)
  • ½ cup uncooked rice
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning or equivalent (basil, thyme, marjoram)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ cup pasta sauce

Instructions:

Start by cleaning your peppers. Cut off the tops and chop up any edible bits. Clean out the inside stuff and remove all of the seeds. Put the peppers standing up right in your crock pot.

Brown the meat in the pan, if needed. You don’t have to with a lot of veggie meat, or if you’re like us, your meat will already be cooked. I buy large amounts of fresh ground turkey, cook it and then put it in freezer safe containers for a later date.

Once the meat is ready, mix the meat, bell pepper pieces (from the tops), onion and the rest of the ingredients except the pasta sauce in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into the bell peppers. If you have remaining mixture, I normally just put it on the bottom of the crock pot in between the peppers. Pour the sauce over the peppers.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Its ready when the peppers are soft.

Hint: if you’re ever short on time, you can pop the peppers in the microwave for a few minutes while you’re prepping the mixture. I find its the peppers themselves that takes the longest.

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Another way to recycle styrofoam packing peanuts

While talking to a friend of mine about recycling plastic, we got on the topic of styrofoam. In particular, recycling styrofoam packing peanuts.

She had a brilliant idea that she got from her mom (you see – her mom recycles, too)… use the peanuts in bean bags.

How many times have you seen a very sad, deflated beanbag? Well, they’re normally filled with polystyrene (yes, that’s the same stuff as most packing peanuts). So my friend’s mom would fill up the bags about once a year (or whenever they needed it). To help make the peanuts softer, you can insist that the kids rough house for a few minutes to soften up the peanuts. I don’t know too many kids that wouldn’t want to do that.

Just think, your kids can get what they want, you get what you want and you help do your part by reusing.

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Crying over the “Biggest Loser”

As I sit here watching this week’s episode of NBC’s the “Biggest Loser” and tears are rolling down my face, I’m always surprised at how emotional it makes me. But when I stop to think about it, its not very surprising.

What my surprise you, is that I used to be a fat girl. Luckily, I wasn’t “Biggest Loser” fat, but I was around the 200 lb mark. Being fat sucks.

But the fat is just a symptom of what sucks. I have never met a truly happy fat person. And I don’t think I ever will. If you love yourself, you wouldn’t let yourself be fat. I know that I didn’t love myself when I was fat or while I was getting fat. I only learned to love myself as I lost the weight.

Yes, I loved the way I started to look in clothes. Yes, I loved the way I felt as I started lose the pounds. But it was the changes I made within that were really important.

I’ve had a lot of personal battles to fight. I was fortunate that when I was 17, I was court ordered to see a therapist (although the event that caused the court order was not good, the end result was). It has not been an easy fight. Inner demons are quite tricky to overcome. If they weren’t, everyone would be happy, balanced, center and living a life that they love.

Back to the “Biggest Loser“…

When I watch it, all I see is a whole lot of unhappiness. Those people did not put the weight on overnight. Just thinking about the collective amount of unhappiness is overwhelming.  How many nights did each of them sit eating things they knew were bad for them? How much guilt and self-hatred went along with each of those bites? Then comes the subsequent looking in the mirror in the morning and the self-loathing ensues. Then of course comes more eating… what’s more comforting than food?

Underneath all of those pounds that need to be lost is a whole lot of repair to the spirit. All of those moments of doubt and self-loathing take a long time to undo. I remembering reading or hearing (it might’ve been in a group therapy session – can’t remember exactly where I heard it) that it takes about 6 compliments/apologies to make up for 1 bad remark.

So if you had a self-deprecating thought at least once a day while you’re fat, it will take 365 days * ? years * 6 self-assuring, self-confidence boosting thoughts to make up for the damage already done. That’s a lot of inner work that needs to be done.

Its great that these few people have the support of Jillian and Bob to help through through this very tough and rough, uphill battle.

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