Parting Gift for my Midwife

Placenta Painting

Placenta Painting

So, the 6 week postpartum appointment with my midwife is fast approaching. I am so sad that this journey together is quickly coming to an end as Dr Wendy has been an amazing friend and resource. I really wanted to get her something unique and special as a parting gift – as opposed to a restaurant gift card or another cookie-cutter gift. So – because I just couldn’t help my crafty self – I had my favorite placenta painting printed on canvas for her. Hope she likes it!

Printed Canvas wrapped in protective plastic from shipping

Printed Canvas wrapped in protective plastic from shipping

Raw Goat’s Milk Ice Cream

Raw Ice Cream

Raw Ice Cream

The Bean has a sweet tooth and I love to indulge him in sneaky-sneaky-good-for-you-ways. The afore-pictured “ice cream” is one of his favorites and is healthy enough to serve as a meal. Technically, this is an ice milk but no need to explain the difference to the little ones…

4 C raw goat milk
5 egg yolks
1 tsp liquid stevia
1 tsp pure almond extract
Strawberries

Whisk 1 cup milk with the egg yolks and bring to just boiling. Be sure to rapidly whisk as to keep the egg from “cooking”. Immediately mix in the rest of the milk and remove from stove.
At this point, I add the stevia & extract and then put the mixture back in the fridge. When the mixture is chilled simply pour into ice cream maker (I use an attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer). When the ice cream is finished serve with sliced strawberries. Delicious and something you can feel good about serving to the kiddos!

Tree of Life

Etz Chaim - The Tree of Life - Placenta Prints

Etz Chaim – The Tree of Life – Placenta Prints

Yes, I saved my placenta. No, I didn’t eat it or encapsulate it. Yes, I made art with it.
I gave birth to The Sprout 2 weeks ago, but painting with my placenta was not high on the priority list so I froze it. After a good thaw, I mixed some black and green acrylic paint with water and “bathed” the placenta.

paint mixture

paint mixture


I used a sea sponge to dab excess liquid off the placenta. I used 140# watercolor paper and would gently set the placenta on top of each piece.

Printing with the placenta

Printing with the placenta

Placenta Print with acrylic paints and natural fluids


Placenta Print with acrylic paints and natural fluids

The resulting prints are beautiful, unique, displayable pieces.

Shortcut for whey and Greek yogurt

Plain Nancy's Organic is a good choice

Plain Nancy’s Organic is a good choice


So the boys and I plan on making some ‘kraut this week a la lacto-fermentation. Well, rather Beans and I are gonna make it and the little Sprout will watch…enraptured by our skills, I am sure….. I don’t have enough milk right now to shake it down for its whey so I chose a cheap and easy alternative.
Taking a carton of organic plain yogurt (I use Nancy’s), I plopped the contents in some fine cheesecloth and suspended it over a stainless steel bowl for the afternoon. It’s important to use a yogurt with live probiotic cultures.

Separating the whey from the yogurt

Separating the whey from the yogurt

Once all the whey (or most) has dripped off the yogurt just pour the whey in a container and, likewise, scoop the resulting greek-style yogurt into a dish of its own.

The whey

The whey

Greek-style yogurt

Greek-style yogurt

Now, while Beans isn’t a huge fan of plain yogurt I can sweeten this stuff with stevia and fruit; super-duper thick and yummy.

And we now have some way-easy whey with which to make our sauerkraut!

Man, I love puns….

Kid Crafts

Fun and easy projects

Fun and easy projects

Today was a quiet day. It was Shabbat, so it was perfect for a low-key indoor activity. The Bean is finally on the mend from this nasty sickness and the baby is just super-easy, so I though some painting would be fun. Beans painted a wooden “J” with a hook, a kitty cat that I had primed black and some garden plaques. When he was done with the garden plaques I painted the names of his respective grandmothers and great-grandmothers. We will send them off on Monday. Once again, a cheap, easy pastime for a three-year-old.

Garden plaques for the grandmas

Garden plaques for the grandmas

Letter hooks for the boys' rooms

Letter hooks for the boys’ rooms

The Sprout’s Med-Free, Intervention-Free Home Birth

Hello World!

Hello World!

Ah! Its been a little while since my last post, but a LOT has happened. I was all gung-ho to get labor going ASAP well over two weeks ago. Enter the crud. Yes, my poor little Bean (who is NEVER sick) began to come down with something the day before Valentine’s Day. It started with a cough at night and progressed (or rather digressed) into a full-blown cold/fever/flu thing. Just horrible. Of course, I was due to have this baby any day and here is my three year old sicker than I’ve ever seen him. I was praying that labor wouldn’t start till Beans was on the mends.
After several VERY sleepless nights taking care of him, Sat night Bean’s fever broke and he started getting a little energy back. I went to bed that night feeling pretty crampy. Sure, I totally had the thought cross my mind that I could wake up and be in labor, but I was too tired to entertain the notion to the fullest.
At 5am Sunday morning I woke up to more cramping and Husby leaving for work. He used our bathroom and turned the fan on. The fan is super-loud and the noise was prohibitive of me falling back to sleep. It seemed like he was taking forever in the bathroom – so i started watching the clock, thinking he might have fallen asleep in there (for reals). It was only then I noticed that my cramping was coming exactly 5 minutes apart and getting stronger. I finally got out of bed to check on Husby, only to discover that he was long gone and had just forgotten to turn off the fan.
I had the gut feeling that this was “it” and decided to get some birth-prep & housework done while the Bean was still sleeping. I made up our bed with waterproof mattress protectors and an old set of sheets, made sure the birth supplies were organized, did laundry, dishes and vacuumed once Beans woke up. All the while the cramps had become contractions and they were starting to become distracting. At 8am I let my parents know that I was pretty sure this was gonna be the day and I gave my husband a heads up that he would need to come home soon. At 8:30am I let my midwife, Dr Wendy, know that I was having contractions with increasing intensity and that I would keep her posted.
My husband came home right away (He is a worrier about stuff like that) and my mom showed up shortly thereafter. The contractions were strong enough that I really needed to focus when they came on and I would just breath in and out quickly between them. At 11:15am I texted Dr Wendy and let her know that the contractions were 3.5 minutes apart and I could no longer talk through them. She said she would head over and she arrived around noon. My contractions continued at the same level for about an hour but moved to about 2 minutes between by 1pm. Dr Wendy took me into the bedroom and checked my cervix. I was dilated to a 3. Almost immediately after she checked me the intensity of the contractions kicked up a notch. Instead of just breathing through the contractions I started vocalizing more of an “ooh, ooh, ooh”. That went on for about an hour. I was sitting in the living room with everyone and would just get up and go to the kitchen to be alone every time a contraction would strike. I’d hold on to the top of the refrigerator and sway back and forth. All this time it was so great in between contractions. I was very restful and peaceful – I got to cuddle with my son and eat a sandwich. I absolutely LOVED laboring in my own home. Somewhere between 2pm and 3pm the contractions turned themselves up to hurt-like-hell mode. At this point those “ooh, ooh, oohs” changed to “Oh, Comeon! Comeon! Comeon!” with the occasional “shit” for punctuation. I went and tried to lay down on my bed and had Husby turn on Abbey Road for me. My son came in and snuggled me so I held off on the “shits”. We had talked for months about how when mommies have their babies they make a lot of noise but that they are OK. He was curious but not frightened. At one point my son even told be that I was doing a good job and that I sounded good!
Dr Wendy, observing the change in the sound of my laboring checked me again. I was at a 7. My husband and son started filling the birth pool. This was at 3:30pm. Again, almost immediately the contractions got more serious and Dr Wendy started setting up her birthing supplies in my bedroom – as she was afraid that we might not have time to fill the birth pool all the way. Dr Wendy also called the other ND, Katie, who was her assist for my birth. Dr Wendy had felt my waters bulging and advised me to put on a pad if I wanted to spare my light carpet. I hid in the nursery for my contractions. I was now “Ahh, Ahh, AHHHH”ing through the contraction and my occasional “shit” became a little more frequent “f*ck!!!!!!” At one point my husband came in and just looked at me – you know the look – that he desperately wanted to do something for me but was powerless to do so. I told him not to look at me.
My water broke in the nursery and I went into the master bath and let Dr Wendy and Dr Katie (who, by now, had arrived) know. Katie helped me out of my skirt and panties as I stood in the bathroom and (what we thought) were the rest of my waters gushed out. I was starting to feel pushy so I asked if it was all right if I sat on the toilet. They obliged me and BAM! More water poured out of me; like someone had turned on a faucet!
After sitting on the john for three or four contractions I stumbled to my bed and just wanted to lay down between the gut-wrenching waves of pain. I was feeling so pushy! Dr Wendy checked me again and I was still between 7 and 8 but my body was bearing down. At this point I started pushing. I was screaming during contractions but feeling exhausted but oddly peaceful between them. I remember the afternoon sun was coming through the shades of my bedroom and it was beautiful.
The midwives had stacked all my pillows up at the head of the bed and I was laying the top of my body over those pillows. I was on all fours. It hurt (even between contractions) to bend forward at the waist. With each contraction I pushed. It hurt something fierce. Finally, I felt the baby moving down and suddenly the relief was tangible while pushing. Nothing had ever felt so good as in that moment feeling like my pushes were taking us somewhere – I’m not sure if that makes any sense to those reading, but it *was* physical relief….Till that damn ring of fire.
When my son crowned it hurt like hell. It was taking every iota of physical stamina I had to make sure he STAYED crowned and didn’t slip back up the birth canal. Between the contractions and the screams, I was excited enough to ask if he had hair and what color it was. (Black, by the way) All I wanted to do was to push that head out the rest of the way, but Dr Wendy coached me to slow it down to avoid tearing. Now, THAT sucked. I think I laid down some serious whining over that, but I held off – I didn’t just push him out. I held off as long as I could and then pushed with all my might. I felt that head pass through and had – for a nanosecond – the thought, “OMG! the pain is OVER!” But then i felt his shoulders slip through and that just took my breath away. I didnt have but a fraction of a second to contemplate the pain of passing his shoulders before he was out. And even MORE waters gushed out! I half turned around and said, “Give me my baby!”. It was 4:28pm.
Dr wendy told me to turn back around and she would pass him to me. She handed me me son and he was SO amazing! He was curled up like a little ball and just wanted to snuggle. My husband looked so proud! We let the Bean come in to meet his little brother and it was pretty magical. The Sprout weighed 9lbs 12oz and was 21 1/4′ long. He is the SWEETEST little baby. All he does is eat and sleep and snuggle.
It was an absolutely wonderful experience birthing at home. I would never want to birth in a hospital again. And this experience exceeded my most positive expectations!

Filling the birth pool

Filling the birth pool

Weighing the Sprout

Weighing the Sprout

Our beautiful boy!

Our beautiful boy!

Wheat-free Eggplant Parmigiana – the kind that’s supposed to induce labor…

Wheat-Free Eggplant Parmigiana

Wheat-Free Eggplant Parmigiana


So everyone has an old wive’s tale about how to naturally induce labor. In the middle of my 39th week of pregnancy I am not above non invasive attempts to start things along by eating inordinate amounts of fresh pineapples or watching the whole Series 0ne of Downton Abbey while walking on my treadmill. Enter the Scalini’s Eggplant Parmigiana….
Scalini’s is an Italian restaurant in Georgia who’s claim to fame is an eggplant parmigiana dish they say will get labor going within 48 hours of eating. If you can’t make it physically to their restaurant they are awesome enough to post a copy of their recipe on their website. Here is their original recipe.
Because I thought their original recipe was just too much for my household, I cut it roughly in half. I also made some revisions to the ingredients to make the parmigiana wheat-free as well as choosing organic products and produce.

Scalini’s Marinara Sauce (REVISED)
1 Tbs Chopped Garlic
3 Tbs Olive Oil
1 32 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 Large Yellow Onion – chopped fine
1c Fresh Italian Parsley – chopped
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1c Fresh Basil – chopped
Pinch of Rosemary
Pinch of Ground Thyme
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper

eggplant1rm

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients except the crushed tomatoes. Saute for another 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and allow to simmer for an hour.

Best marinara EVER!

Best marinara EVER!

Scalini’s Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe (REVISED)

1 Large Eggplant
1c Brown Rice Flour
2c Almond flour
1/4c “Italian Seasoning”
1/2c Romano Cheese
1/2c Parmesan Cheese
12oz Mozzarella – shredded
1c Ricotta Cheese
Marinara from previous recipe
Olive oil

Wash eggplant and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on paper towels and allow to dry out for at least an hour. Mix Italian Seasoning with almond flour. Heat olive oil in skillet. Coat slices of eggplant in rice flour, dip in egg and then coat with almond flour mixture. Fry in skillet until each side is golden brown. In a baking dish layer eggplant, cheeses and marinara until about a quarter inch from the top of pan. I had some seasoned almond flour left over so I sprinkled that on top of eggplant slices as well. Top the parmigiana off with remaining mozzarella. Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 10 minutes.

I ate this eggplant parmigiana over 45 hours ago – No sign of labor yet. However, The parmigiana is incredibly delicious and the marinara is perhaps the best sauce I’ve ever had. I may not have had my baby but I was one very satisfied pregnant lady. Nom Nom.

Easy Cake Pops

cakepop10rm
My best friend is hosting a sprinkle for the new baby and I though I’d try my hand at making a little something special that I had never made before: Cake Pops. I know these hardly qualify as “real food” but we’ll try our hand at converting to a crunchier alternative once we get the fundamentals down! I watched about a dozen tutorials on how to do it and this is what I came up with to make it the most simple experience. I completely ruined the first half of my cake pop batch through trial and error, so it looks like there won’t be enough pops to take to the event. But, hey! I know how to do these puppies from here on out.

You need:
One boxed cake- baked
One tub of pre-made frosting
30 pop sticks
2 bags of Wilton’s Candy Melts
Piece of styrofoam
Mini ice cream scoop

Start with baking and cooling the cake.
Once the cake is completely cooled use your fingers to crumble it into a fine grain.

hand-crumbled cake

hand-crumbled cake

Next, spoon in a little less than 1/3 of the container of frosting. This is essentially two giant spoonfuls. DO NOT use too much frosting. Mix in the frosting to the crumbled cake with your fingers. It becomes a dough-like blob that you can shape.

Frosting and cake mixed

Frosting and cake mixed

Now use the mini ice cream scoop to measure out uniform amounts of the mixture. Use your hands to roll into tight, solid balls.

Cake balls

Cake balls

Melt about a quarter cup of the candy melts in a glass cup.

Candy melts

Candy melts

Melted candy

Melted candy

Dip about 3/4 of an inch of the ends of the pop sticks in the melted candy.

Pop stick dipped in melted candy

Pop stick dipped in melted candy

Insert into cake balls. Freeze for half hour. This will keep the sticks from coming out of cake balls when you candy coat them.

Cake balls with sticks

Cake balls with sticks

Melt a tall glass full of the candy melts. I did this in the microwave – took about a minute and twenty seconds. I did this in twenty second increments. I originally tried to use white chocolate chips and this was a disaster. They melted too thick and thats how I ruined half of these cake pops.
Remove cake balls from the freezer and dip one at a time in the melted candy.

Dip cake balls

Dip cake balls

Dip them down far enough in the tall cup that the candying on the stick is covered. Gently twist the cake pop as you bring it out of the melted candy. Poke the cake pop stick into the styrofoam block and allow the candy to harden. Super easy cake pops! The next time I make these I plan do do so baking a cake from scratch with Real Food ingredients and using stevia-sweetened cream cheese for the “frosting”. I’m at a loss for what to do to reduce the refined sugar content in the candy melts. I’d love to hear ideas on good substitutes!

cakepop10rm

Rainy Day Art Project

The Bean's finished painted horse

The Bean’s finished painted horse

The Beans and I are usually pretty active. We love to hike and garden and go on grand adventures as well as undertake all sorts of projects. But lets face it. I am one LAAAAAAZY pregnant lady. So even though my precious, active son really, really wanted to go somewhere and “do” something today, I just couldn’t bring myself to get us going. So I pulled out the bag of “rainy day” projects. This is a bag of easy, fun art & crafts material I horde for days such as this. Beans decided that he wanted to paint a birdhouse and a horse. Awesome. Plant the kid at the kitchen table with his little wooden (and did I mention cheap?) items and let him have at ’em with some (equally cheap) acrylic paints. It had been my intention to prime these wooden paintables and then spray paint them with a solid color BEFORE the Bean got to them…but I just never got around to it. I promised him I would take him to Michael’s and let him pick out some more things to paint tomorrow – I’ll try to get right on top of those and paint a base color on them as soon as we get them home – It just tends to make them look so much more finished…. So, Beans painted a horse and a birdhouse: it killed an hour, cost less than $3 and satisfied my son’s desire to “do” something. Win, win, win. AND he’s going to give them away as gifts. Whatta sweetie!
paintedhorse2
Beans with his birdhouse

Beans with his birdhouse

Real Food Snacks – DIY Trail mix

Organic pumpkin seeds, almonds, date pieces, raisins & dried apricots

Organic pumpkin seeds, almonds, date pieces, raisins & dried apricots

With a preschooler you always have to have snacks on hand. You never know when they are going to get hungry, and a healthy, energy-giving snack can mean the difference between finishing your errands and having to deal with a DEFCON 1 meltdown. In my family we LOVE trail mix. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits produce a tasty pick-me-up that never fails to make my Bean happy. We have found that by purchasing our trail mix ingredients separately from the bulk natural foods section of our local supermarket or co-op we not only get to customize what goes into our trail mix – but we wind up paying a lot less. The trail mix we blended in today’s pictures are made from all organic ingredients and cost less than $5/lb. The only prep required was cutting up the dried apricots. The next time you want to stock up on portable snacks, consider making your own trail mix blend.

Beans loves his trail mix!

Beans loves his trail mix!