Another Boobie Update

I’ve talked about it time and time and time and time again (probably more times than that, but those are my main rants). But I realized a few days ago that we’re nearing our end, so I’d better get my thoughts out (just in case anyone else is dealing with the ups and downs of breastfeeding and happen to be following my little journey).

When I say “nearing our end” on breastfeeding, that’s actually an unknown…as with most things in life. He’s just over 16 months old and still nurses (albeit for a shorter amount of time) early in the morning and just before bed. I pump once at work now — sometimes I add it to his cow’s milk to drink at the sitter’s, and other times I test to see if he’ll just eat the cow’s milk. Unfortunately, he’s become a sporadic milk drinker, so he doesn’t always drink it very well. Other times, he downs it like a champ.

But, when I do pump, I’m to the point of getting — get this — only about an ounce to 1 1/2 ounces. ONCE a day.

Wow.

I’m reminded of a year ago when I used to get over 28 ounces a day, plus feeding throughout the night. Consider this cow one hay bale short of being put out to pasture.
 
Then there are those random times in the middle of a Saturday where he comes to me and gestures to his chest — his little “sign” that he’s hungry — and we nurse for a minute or two. I don’t know if he’s REALLY hungry, or if he just wants some snuggle time (since he really doesn’t snuggle unless you get silly and tickle him; he loves to laugh), but I’ll take it. I’m sure I don’t “give” him as much as he may want since demand begets supply, but he doesn’t fuss, so it’s all good.

I’m sure I’ll do one final update when he finally kicks the habit, but for now, this is how life seems to be going. And, on a terribly personal side note, I think this up and down of breastfeeding is throwing my hormones (hence my “cycle”) totally out of whack. So not cool. 😛

And now you can go about your day knowing a tad too much about me. You’re welcome.

Perfect Pumpkin Cookies

I know you guys are jonesin’ for some sweetness after last night’s candy overload, am I right? No? Well…too bad. 🙂

One of my favorite cookies as a kid were a super moist pumpkin one that my mom crafted masterfully. They were generally accompanied by a super sweet cream cheese frosting (which I LOVED, of course, since I had a sweet tooth…now, I don’t find it necessary), but I wanted to keep these as natural as possible. They’re low on the “real food” scale, but I wanted something close to the original…and, at least the ingredients were 95% organic. 🙂

But, most importantly, they taste insanely close to the original. Yay! And these are super baby-friendly. Double yay!

The recipe I started with came from Live Renewed, but I made a few small changes. Like, teensy tiny.

Pumpkin Cookies
(Makes between 36 and 42, depending on how big you like them. That’s what she said.)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1- 1 1/2 cup sugar (depends on how much you want; I used raw organic)
1 egg
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1/2 cup yogurt (we used Stonyfield whole milk plain…yes, whole milk)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (we used unbleached organic all-purpose whole wheat…there’s a mouthful for ya!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a couple of cookie sheets.

In a stand mixer (or using a hand blender; use whatchya got), cream the butter and sugar together. Any kitty assistance you can conjure up definitely helps; even if just some moral support.

Pardon the crappy iPhone pics. My camera’s on the blink.

Add the egg…

…and blend. (Earth-shattering stuff here, people.)

I then added the vanilla, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda…

Then the flour. Try not to over-mix.


Drop by teaspoonful onto the greased sheet pans and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet for 10+ minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. (Confession: I don’t have a large enough cooling rack to actually make cookies; just a tiny, round one. I transfer to a paper towel. I know, I’m naughty.)

Finally, take beauty shots of the moist, bouncy, only-needs-frosting-if-you-want-it deliciousness. Or not. Your call.

Happy Halloween Hangover day, everyone! Time to hang up our hats and capes for another year…unless you’re dressing like a Pilgrim for Thanksgiving. To which I say — “Way to commit!”

Mini Revolutions

I was fully intending to celebrate Food Revolution Day last Friday in a small way — dragging the baby to a local farmers’ market, since Dave was out of town for an awesome workshop. The illnesses floating around school put a stop to that.

So, while I did do a quick grocery shopping visit (one of my Aldi/Hannaford runs), I felt like the day was a dud. I ate locally for a meeting I attended in Utica, but the food was far from healthy. At Hannaford, most of my purchases were organic, though, so I told myself that would have to be good enough, as I tried to get my nose to stop running. (Side note: I bought fiddleheads (I was ECSTATIC to find them at the store…and I think people thought I was nuts) and kale for the first time!!! Can’t wait to try it.)

However, Saturday afternoon as the baby napped in my arms, I decided to hit up our Wii for some Netflix streaming. I can’t even guess the last time I did this. My hope was that “Gilmore Girls” would finally be available (what else can a girl wish for with her husband out of town??), but since it wasn’t, I typed “food” in the search area in hopes of finding a cooking show. Instead, I found my re-education and a way to celebrate Food Revolution Day, delayed though it may be.

A French documentary named “Food Beward: The French Organic Revolution”, yes in 95% sub-titles, showed me that the organic craze isn’t just a fad, and isn’t just an American trend. The rise of cancers, particularly among French children, were the origins of major concerns of the state of food production in France. To take a progressive, proactive approach, a rural mayor decided to change the school menu to organic and mostly local foods.


Here’s the IMDB movie description: Food Beware begins with a visit to a small village in France, where the town’s mayor has decided to make the school lunch menu organic and locally grown. It then talks to a wide variety of people with differing perspectives to find common ground – children, parents, teachers, health care workers, farmers, elected officials, scientists, researchers and the victims of illnesses themselves. Revealed in these moving and often surprising conversations are the abuses of the food industry, the competing interests of agribusiness and public health, the challenges and rewards of safe food production, and the practical, sustainable solutions that we can all take part in. Food Beware is food for thought – and a blueprint for a growing revolution.”

We get to sit in on school lunches (“Organic bread tastes better.” And, Philippe! Eat your damn carrots!! Sheesh.) and follow students to a garden, which their teacher uses as a learning tool, from teaching science and the enjoyment of nature to math (“use your rulers to measure the lettuces’ growth” “that’s impossible!”) and cooperation (“Hugo gave me his parsley. Here, you can have some.” Awww.), as well as the evolution of adult thinking on organic.

At one point, the mayor meets with local farmers, calling it something of an occurrence (rather than something more aggressive…a fight?) and a chance for organic farmers and more traditional farmers to discuss methods and reasons for doing what they’re doing. I found this to be an interesting example of the fact that adults are able to debate an issue in a respectful manner, in addition to the fact that the information they were sharing can be directly linked to similar views in the U.S.

Overall, I was dismayed, informed, entertained, and finally uplifted by this flick. Often, the American-made docs tend to be downers (or so aggressive that it does nothing but inform and upset…and enrage…and then come the tears….), so this was an awesome reminder of our renewed reason to work on eating organically and locally — Hadley.

Next year, I’d like to have a bigger Food Revolution Day, with the hubby in town and the baby old enough to eat, like, EVERYTHING (he’s already a little foodie, I can’t get him to stop trying to devour my food; don’t get me wrong, I love that he loves food and I don’t mind that he wants to eat off of mine (after all, I’m a mom!), but his diet is still relatively restricted at this age). So, whether it’s a foodie get-together with friends or just a family visit to a farmers’ market followed by a special meal, I’m looking forward to it!

No matter what it is, it’s all about the mini revolutions, isn’t it? The small attempts at better things on a boring ol’ normal day?

Hannaford v. Chobani

From healthforthewholeself.com

I’m a general fan of our local supermarket, Hannaford. Heck, you can read how much I love it here, here and here. But, upon recent trips to the store, I have become dismayed…then downtrodden…and eventually pissed enough to jot down an idea for this blog post on my shopping list. (Yes, I even called it “Hannaford v. Chobani”.)

In case you’ve never heard of it, Chobani is a locally-operated producer of high quality Greek-style yogurt. It happens to be de-lish. They’re notorious for two things: #1) Donating lots and lots of their yogurt to great causes; just two that I’m aware of were for the runners and walkers at this year’s “Heart Run and Walk” and to my high school (both to send to a school in Louisiana for a cultural exchange as well as to our school for the kids to try) and #2) Being the fastest-growing yogurt seller (and now #1! Past Dannon and Yoplait!!) in America. Seriously, they’re awesome – and all-natural – AND they support local farmers. Check out their site, it’s worth it. I discovered that they now have kid-friendly yogurt options, which is awe-some!

Clearly I’m excited about the stuff. I tend to purchase the large (32 oz.) container of strawberry (classic), which I bring to school and toss with Kashi Go Lean Crunch  (thanks for teaching me about it, Missy!). Delicious.

So, why am I so upset? I was frustrated to see that the usual $1 price for a 6 oz. container of Chobani (they have so many delicious flavors!!!) has been boosted, not by a few pennies, but to $1.19. A 19% increase?!?! Man! I used to grab the occasional blueberry for Dave to enjoy (gotta be nice to our spouses, y’know…especially when we’re in the doghouse ;-D j/k)…now it’s going to have to be a huge special occasion to do so.

It became immediately clear to me what caused the jump in price: the Hannaford brand, Taste of Inspiration, had released a new Greek-style yogurt – priced at $.85. Not only did they introduce competition at an already-lower price, but they upped the always-steady $1 price of the Chobani product. Call me Communist, but this bugged the heck out of me.

I understand the concept behind competition. Well, sure, I may understand a lot of things. The rise of big business. The shift from rural to urban lifestyles. The advancement of technology. Yep, I get it all…but it doesn’t mean that I agree with it. And this is one of those cases.

A local product made by honest folks who have gotten tons of press nationally that you couldn’t keep on your shelves, and you, Hannaford, simply had to get in on the action. Seriously, there’s a sign…wait, it looks kinda like this:

From mealsandmovesblog.com

This stuff is popular, as it should be. Good people doing good things, providing healthy, high-quality goods. Gee. There must be money to be made off of it. *grumbles* Sorry, that’s not a professional way to vent, but sometimes “GRRR” is all one can say.

How can I (or we?) combat it? I don’t really see a way, other than continuing to purchase my luckily-same-priced 32-oz. stuff, and possibly the occasional “whooooaaaaa, that’s ‘spensive!” 6-oz. stuff (with, perhaps, the odd coupon here and there, nudge-nudge, wink-wink). There’s a little part of me that says “Hey, cool, there’s a cheaper option for folks who can’t afford it”, but the sentiment behind what Chobani does is much grander, in my mind, than that. Hopefully the genuine fervor which has skyrocketed the company to such great heights won’t wane with the introduction of new competition. Here’s hoping!

And, if you don’t have Chobani in your stores yet, talk to the manager and write a letter to Chobani. It’s spreading like wildfire, so be proactive and a part of the “movement”. Support any company that cares about its customers and gives us high-quality, all-natural options. (Jumps off soapbox.)

What Makes a Salad

Dave’s a salad guy. He oftentimes goes back for a second full salad after we finish our meal. I call it a dessert salad, although there’s nothing fancy schmancy (like strawberries) on it. He comes from a family that eats one before every dinner, and the salads usually cover the entire dinner plate. They also shake ground black pepper atop their salads, which I thought was insane at first, but have since come to also use. It does make it less bland!

So, we eat a lot of salad in our household. We often purchase the organic pre-washed salad mix (I know, but they’re just the right amount to get us through the week without wastage) or the organic romaine heads, and add various fixins. (We live in CNY – “g”s get dropped a lot.) Since I’m trying to eat more seasonally, at this time of the year I don’t have a lot of extras around — so a little sliced onion’s all I need. Dave likes to load his up with stuff.

Oh, and every couple of weeks I roast some nuts (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts) with some egg white and turbinado sugar, which makes an AWESOME topper to salads…or, apparently, a snack, since they often don’t make it to the top of the “main event.” And, I must admit that our croutons aren’t organic (I’ve tried some and they’re not even worth it for their crunch factor), but they’re as close to all-natural as possible. Once in awhile, I get ambitious and roast my own out of local Italian bread, and they are the best EVER, but during work weeks with theater responsibilities and stuff happening, fuhgettaboutit.

During the summer, our salads are frickin’ awesome. This time of year, not s’much, but when it’s nice out? Nice. Seriously, we regularly will eat just huge salads for dinner and feel completely satiated and happy. The fact that 85-100% of the stuff that’s IN those salads come from our own back yard is probably an additional reason that we love these salads so much. The lettuce, peppers, tomatoes (for Dave…), herbs, and stuff I’m probably forgetting taste completely different from your own garden. We’re also known to throw in some more gourmet things when it’s nice and warm out, like strawberries (which I’ll DEFINITELY be growing this year). Add a balsamic reduction and some walnuts and you’re done.

But, what really MAKES a salad? You’re probably expecting me to say that the ingredients need to be fresh, local (or homegrown), organic, blah blah blah. Not really. For ME, what makes a salad is the dressing…and, in my mind, the only dressing I’ll ever need is Thousand Island. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s a tad it vinegary — and it’s versatile as a dressing, dip, sandwich spread, or even on tacos. (Don’t puke, seriously, I tried it this week — insanely good if you don’t have taco sauce around.)

So, I’d been eating Dave’s version of a “dressing” for about a year (id oil and any vinegar on hand — sure, it’s healthy, but sometimes just too simplified), shouting profanities in the aisles of Hannaford while I awaited for an organic or all-natural or FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD at least an HFCS-free version. I’m pretty sure Dave was embarrassed to go near the condiment aisle with me for awhile there. It just ticked me off. My blood boils now to think about it.


Instead of continually risking ejection from our favorite supermarket, I decided to get proactive. I found a few recipes online, purchased my organic pickle relish (which I’ll gladly use on any nitrate-free hotdog, any day!) and all-natural mayo, and got to work. Storing it in a mason jar in the fridge, I now have a dressing that’s not only way better for you than the ones in the store, but that TASTES 10x better. It’s cheaper, too, since I use all the other ingredients for other uses, anyway.

Here’s the recipe that I took and how I tweaked it a bit:

All-Natural Thousand Island Dressing

– 1/2 c. mayonnaise (there are name brands now that give you all-natural — I prefer the taste, but you can also try Vegenaise or whatever you’re into)
– 2 Tbs. ketchup (I use organic)
– 1 Tbs. white vinegar (or extra juice from the relish)
– 2 tsp. turbinado sugar or agave nectar (or white sugar, if you’re into that…not judging ;-D)
– 2 -4 tsp. sweet pickle relish, to taste (I’m such a pickle fiend that I’m considering growing cukes just for this purpose next year — but, for now, I bought organic)
– 1 tsp. finely minced onion (whatever you want — I’ve used red onion every time, but the original recipe called for white)
– 1/8 tsp. salt (eyeball it)
– dash black pepper

Stir it all together and store it. It’s better the longer it sits.

I know that there are a lot of people (such as my dear, sweet, better half) who despise the thought of this dressing, which is fine. But, I think I’ve always liked its subtle sweetness since childhood.

There are still others of you who are asking “Crap! How unhealthy is THAT?!” But, y’know what? I feel that we’re a part of the whole foods movement, so this is my gateway drug into the world of more natural living. There are a lot of pre-packaged or over-processed foods that we’re cutting off of our “we eat that” list. So, if I want more wholesome eating and living, I’d rather know how the food I’m eating was prepared and that I used the best ingredients I could to make it.

Maybe someday we’ll be eating 100% naturally (we’re getting there, but not to THAT extreme yet), with nothing but raw milk and local fruits and veggies in our systems, but for the time being, I think we’re doing just fine. 🙂 And I’ve got my dressing, so I’m happy.