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Monthly Archives: June 2013

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How to Avoid Bringing Toxins Camping

toxin-free

toxin-free

In a previous post I detailed the food we ate on our first camping trip since I fully committed to eating real food. When I decided that was the way I was going to live, I also began cutting other toxins from my daily routine. I changed the soaps and shampoos we use, the detergents and cleaners and even beauty products to non-toxic versions and started making some of them myself. This posed a bit of a problem when packing for camping. What should I use for sunscreen? What about bug spray? What about the plastic water bottles we used to bring? How do I pack my coconut oil and baking soda deodorant that melts at 76 degrees? So many things to think about.

I got creative. Some of my ‘solutions’ worked. Some didn’t. Here’s a rundown of what I did and how it turned out.

1. Bug spray

Commercial insect repellent has so many chemicals in it I am surprised they can fit them all on the label. I’ve been buying natural bug spray for my husband for years but didn’t think much about it for me and the kids. We just used whatever was cheap and worked. In my effort to go non-toxic, this was now a major concern. I looked up recipes and found a couple using essential oils. I was skeptical because the mosquitoes around here are HUGE and persistent and last year they ate me alive even with commercial bug spray on. I looked up the ingredients of a popular essential oil blend for insect repellent a friend had given me a sample of and mixed up my own. It is similar to this one from Thank Your Body. Not all the ingredients were listed, but I smelled vanilla and added it to mine. I tested it out in the back yard and it totally worked. Mosquitoes would dance around and sometimes land but them fly right away. We used this while camping and it worked just as well. It also repelled flies, which were more numerous than mosquitoes.

bugspray

2. Insect Repellent Lotion Bars

Because the spray worked so well, I decided to make some cute repellent bars that I found at Homemade Mommy’s site for my son so he wouldn’t run from me when I tried to spray him. The bars were SO adorable. I used Lego Mifigure molds and made myself an army. bugarmy

My little guy was thrilled to rub that minifig all over his arms and legs and face. He ran off to play and came back covered in dirt. Normal for him, but now he had streaks everywhere where the dirt stuck to the lotion. Oops. I think we’ll keep these for the backyard or grassy park situations. (Or for ME, if I can sneak them out).

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3. Sunscreen

I meant to make these sunscreen bars. I really did. I didn’t order the zinc powder in time, so that was out. I searched the health food store for the best alternative. I knew we’d be high in the mountains which means closer to the sun. The rest of the family likes to hike (I’m not there yet) so I knew they’d need something strong. We brought hats and sunglasses but I knew we’d need more. I got a spray that is spf 50 from Kiss My Face It isn’t the very best option,(for a list of safe and effective sunscreens, click here) but it worked for what I needed. We forgot to put it on the first day, so we were all a bit pink by the end of the day. Sunscreen only works if you apply it! My husband used coconut oil, which usually works great for him while out doing yard work, but it didn’t give him the protection he needed in the mountains in direct sun. He was pretty red most of the trip and opted for shade wherever he could find it so I gave him a job as my cabana boy.
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4. Personal care

There were no showers. FIVE days. No shower. Last time I brought baby wipes and wiped down the little guy and myself every evening. I’m not using those any more, so this time I brought a stack of wash cloths. The ‘little guy’ is now almost 7 and is not thrilled with mom washing him down, so I pretty much let him ripen. Clean clothes and underwear every day was good enough. He even protested washing his hands and face. After reading about dirt, I only insisted once or twice a day. You can see how that turned out in the image below. (BTW, that’s not snot under his nose, it’s his scar from his repaired cleft). For myself, I used the wash cloths with warm water from the camp stove and washed them out and hung them to dry. The last day I was itching for a shower, but it wasn’t bad. I had my hair back in a ponytail and wore a hat and it was all good. I decided to forego the makeup and it was LOVELY. I plan on doing more of that.

dirt

5. Cleaners and Soaps

Washing all the dishes used in making real food camping meals was a bit of a chore. The cast iron pan my husband brought was ideal because it just needed to be scraped out and rinsed. The other dishes needed a good wash and with no hot water or sink it wasn’t fun. I ended up heating water on the camp stove because the DIY dish soap I brought left streaks of oil in a cold water wash. The foaming soap was great for washing hands, but in weighing how it worked on dishes and the effort involved, I think next time I will give in and pack the Scotch-Brite Soap Pads I brought last time. I wouldn’t use them at home, but this was a short period of time and we only had a few dishes to use. It would have been nice to get them clean in-between.

For cleaning surfaces I brought a spray bottle of natural homemade cleaner. I added a couple of drops of lemon oil to it and it worked very well to clean up after cooking. It was a nice air freshener for inside tents, too.

cleaners

6. Water Filtration

The water at the campground was said to be clean and safe and if we didn’t have other options, it would have been fine to use. It’s a little cloudy and has a film on top, though so we’ve always brought our own. Last time it was a 5 gallon water cooler bottle with a manual pump. That worked well, but that was before we got our beautiful Berkey. This time, the Berkey had its own seat in the van. It took up a lot of room, but so would two 5 gallon bottles. We set up the Berkey in the outdoor ‘kitchen’ and filled it up. It was convenient for cooking, washing hands and filling up water bottles. Everyone brought a water bottle. The kids had regular Camelbak bottles or stainless steel, I had a Camelbak with a filter and my husband brought a Berkey sports bottle that has a serious filter. He boasted that he could probably drink right out of the lake with it.

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7. First Aid and Medical

Luckily we didn’t need much in the way of first aid. We brought an assortment of essential oils just in case. I used peppermint and lavender one morning for a headache(probably from not drinking enough water). My oldest son used the same for congestion due to seasonal allergies but ended up taking a Benadryl one night so he could sleep. We brought clove and frankincense for bug bites (which we didn’t have many of). The bug spray doubled as ‘thieves’ oil when I got sneezed on by a sick kid. The one we used the most, though was coconut oil. The air was dry and so was our skin. After a day in the sun, coconut oil felt great. My little guy’s cheeks were chapped and it worked well on that. It helped with chapped lips, too. The great part was that it was already packed to use for cooking and was readily available. We had a couple of extended family members ask to use some of the oils for various things and we were happy to share.

oils

It might have taken more thought and preparation, but it wasn’t hard to avoid the toxic products we used to use. It was really nice to be out in nature and know that the products we were using were clean and natural, too.

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In case you were wondering what I was doing while the family was hiking…I’m the big dot under the red umbrella.

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Keep the Chlorine OUT of the Kiddie Pool!

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A while back I wrote a post about neutralizing chlorine in your bath water. Now that it’s summer, we’re filling up the kiddie pools, most likely with the same water we use to fill our bathtubs. The kids are splashing around having a great time…and absorbing chlorine through their skin.

[stextbox id=”bl”]WHY is that a problem?
As I wrote in my previous post, “Chlorine is a chemical that kills living organisms. Unfortunately, it is not selective, so along with killing pathogens in our water, it kills beneficial bacteria and cells and tissues within the body. Inhaling chlorine byproducts in the steam from chlorinated showers and absorbing chlorine through the skin can trigger the body to produce free radicals, which cause damage to cells. Chlorine byproducts have also been shown to cause cancer and are a factor in heart disease .” (Read more about why we avoid chlorine in my previous post.)[/stextbox]

The good news is that the same way you can clean up your bathwater, the chlorine can be wiped out of that kiddie pool in seconds VERY INEXPENSIVELY. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been proven to neutralize chlorine in water. Just one teaspoon can neutralize the chlorine in 200 gallons. Sprinkle it in the little pool, swish it around and you’re done! The water should be drained often to prevent bacteria build-up. (GET VITAMIN C POWDER HERE). OR…you could wait 24-48 hours for the chlorine to evaporate on its own, but who wants to wait to play???

Unfortunately, you can’t go around neutralizing the neighbors’ pools or the public pool. Luckily, vitamin C will also neutralize chlorine on the skin after swimming. There’s a great topical spray for hair and body that uses the same method of neutralization (get it here).

Keep the chlorine out of the kiddie pool this summer with safe and natural Vitamin C!

Camping with Real Food

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Last week we drove away from our cushy home and all of its’ amenities to spend 5 days in the middle of nowhere with no cell service or internet for about 15 miles. We set up our tents facing a beautiful lake and I sat and stared for a while. Then my kids reminded me it was about time for dinner.
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In years past, camping was one big excuse for junk food.

Hot dogs, marshmallows, packaged snacks, roasted Starbursts. Whatever sounded good. This time, there was no way I was giving up my newly-stable digestive system and functioning joints for a few morsels of junk. That meant planning. A LOT of planning. I came up with a few tricks that I think are worth sharing.

In planning the menu, I asked for suggestions from readers and got some great ideas.

Stew, burgers, steaks, fish.

I took some of those ideas and planned the menu so that I could have each meal ready to go and some of the cooking could be done while making the previous meal. Before we left, I filled a half gallon jar with potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and seasonings. I filled another with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, tomato sauce and seasoning for the chili. They fit in the cooler nicely with room to spare.
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How was I going to cook all this ‘real food’ while in the wilderness? 

I decided it would have to be on a camp stove. Fire pit cooking is unforgiving and I am already somewhat of a novice, so I planned my meals around the little camp stove we have. I also planned them around the little space we had in the van with 5 of us and all of our gear. The stove has 2 burners so I brought my Cuisinart Green Gourmet griddle. It worked well for everything but the soups. For that, I brought a stainless steel stock pot.

Dinner the first night was grass-fed beef steaks and fried potatoes. I reserved one steak for the stew planned for the next night’s dinner. campfood2web

campfood6web I added beef bone broth and water to the pot and dumped the rest in. It was ready in about an hour with no babysitting. If you had a fire going most of the evening, you could put this on the grate and let it stew longer.

campfood7web

Lunch the day after was burgers. I chopped up two patties for the chili planned for the next night’s dinner. Coconut oil, Real Salt and pepper were the main cooking staples I used, which made it really easy to season the food without bringing the whole kitchen along. There wasn’t anything we cooked that DIDN’T go well with coconut oil. Any seasoning I used besides salt and pepper went in the jars beforehand.

campfood5web

I did the same thing for the chili and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I did not get an after pic because we took it down to the family pot luck lunch.

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I kept breakfast simple with bacon and eggs, granola and yogurt and oatmeal. The same griddle I used for the steaks and burgers worked very well to scramble eggs and cook a pound of bacon. campfood4web

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My husband cooked up some left over salmon for breakfast on the last day. He likes the cast iron skillet he uses every day for his eggs, so he brought it along.

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Cooking with real food while camping was a bit challenging. Washing all the pans afterward was harder than charring the hot dog roaster in the fire. We did use paper dishes because there was no way I was washing a full load of dishes after every meal when I was supposed to be having a nice relaxing time. I will admit that even with paper dishes, it was a lot more work than hot dogs and marshmallows, but it was worth it. I felt great the whole time and my stomach was happy! Which was nice, because the fewer trips to the outhouse toilets, the better! More time to do what we really came for…enjoying the great outdoors. (Yep…this is how we enjoy.)
reading

Here is the menu I came up with. Hopefully it can give you some great ideas for good food in the wilderness. If you have some tips for ME, feel free to comment and share! And be sure to come back and see my next post where I will let you know how we fared at steering clear of toxins while camping. Sunscreen, bug spray, soap, water filtration and more. Some worked well…some didn’t. Check back soon!

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Real Food Camping Menu

Day 1
Dinner: Grass-Fed Beef Steak and Fried Potatoes (w/coconut oil) Reserved 1 steak

Day 2
Breakfast: Eggs & Bacon
Lunch: Grass-Fed Beef Burgers on Sprouted Wheat Buns – Reserved 1/2 lb. cooked ground beef
Dinner: Grass-Fed Beef Stew

Day 3
Breakfast: Yogurt and Granola
Lunch: Extended Family Pot Luck – we brought chili
Dinner: Extended Family Hot Dog Roast (We used Applegate Organic uncured beef hot dogs on Ezekiel sprouted Wheat Buns)

Day 4
Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ fruit and bacon
Lunch: Leftovers (Stew, Chili, Hot Dogs) and canteloupe
Dinner: Salmon cooked in bacon grease,  tomato & avocado salad

Day 5
Breakfast: Eggs, leftover salmon, bacon and hash browns
Lunch: Snacks in the car – applesauce, granola bars, fruit leather

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This post is also shared at: Our Heritage of HealthNourishing Simplicity– Small Footprint FamilyButter Believer

Can Cleft Lip and Palate Be Prevented?

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cleftwebDecember 18th 2005, I sat holding 5 (yes, FIVE) pregnancy tests, amazed that they were all positive. We had been trying for another baby for 5 years and I thought it might never happen. The poor OB didn’t know what to do with me when he confirmed the pregnancy and I burst into tears. They were good tears! Everything looked great and the pregnancy progressed as expected. Then, during the routine 18 week ultrasound came the unexpected. The tech was great and said “You know how some babies are born with a lot of hair and others are totally bald and some are long and some are not? Well, this baby will be born with a cleft lip and possibly a cleft palate.”

My initial thoughts were not really complete thoughts. A what? I *think* I know what that means. Do I know what that means? What does that mean??

The tech said he’d pass the information on to my doctor and he’d be in touch. When the doctor called, though, I asked what this all meant and what I needed to do. He told me there was nothing to do until the baby was born and not to worry about it. WHAT? NOTHING to do? For 22 more weeks? I don’t think so!

What I did was allow myself a few minutes to grieve the idea of the perfect baby and then I got to work being the most informed and prepared expectant mom of a baby with a cleft I could be. I read everything, looked at every image online (and freaked myself out a little), visited with the cleft/craniofacial clinic coordinator at Primary Children’s Hospital, insisted on a genetics specialist visit to determine if there were any other syndromes suspected along with cleft lip and palate. I was on it! I learned as much about cleft lip and palate as my brain could handle. Feeding, surgeries, speech, cosmetics, etc.

But, what I learned about the cause of cleft lip and palate was that there weren’t many answers. What they knew was that 1 in about 700 babies in the US are born with clefts. In Utah, that number goes up to 1 in about 470. The suspected cause as explained to me by the specialist at the time was a combination of genetic and environmental factors. But, really, there wasn’t a lot to explain because even scientists still didn’t completely understand.

Our son Joshua was born in August of 2006. He had a unilateral incomplete cleft lip (the cleft was on only one side, some tissue connecting the lip at the nose) and a unilateral cleft palate. He was beautiful to me no matter what and after 5 years of trying, it didn’t matter that he had something different about him. After a couple of days the whole family kind of ‘forgot’ and would wonder what people were looking at when we were out. It was just our life. Joshua would eventually have surgery at 3 months to correct his lip and soft palate. Later, at about 18 months, his hard palate was corrected and he will have one more surgery at age 8 or so to fill a gap in his gum line. He’s a spunky, BUSY boy who loves school and will talk your ear off if you let him. It’s been fun being his mom and the cleft is just part of his great big personality. josh6

A couple of months after Joshua’s birth, we received a letter in the mail giving us the opportunity to participate in a study to see if they could zero in on why clefts occur more frequently in Utah and what could be done to prevent them, if anything. We were very willing and received a kit in the mail soon after. We swabbed our cheeks and answered a few questions and sent the materials back to the university doing the study. Using our DNA and the information provided by lots of cleft families and families of typically developed children, the researchers are finding answers.

 

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So far they’ve learned:

Mothers’ healthy dietary patterns may be important in cleft prevention.

Maintaining a healthy body weight and control of high blood pressure and diabetes are important.

Mothers of a child with a cleft may have a higher risk of diabetes and other medical problems later in life.

Mothers’ exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip or cleft palate.
(source)

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Those details were HUGE to someone who, just 5 years ago still hadn’t found much information on what could be done to prevent cleft lip and palate.

One of the thesis papers from the study found something VERY interesting to me:

[stextbox id=”bl”]“We found that a lower whole grain intake of mothers was associated with a higher isolated OFC [cleft] risk in their children. The strongest finding was that increased intake of whole grains were associated with a reduced risk of isolated OFCs in a strong dose response manner. Furthermore, higher intakes of sweets were weakly associated and more statistically significant among case mothers than that of control mothers… These findings indicate that increased intake of whole grains along with decreased consumption of sweets during pregnancy may reduce the risk of OFCs in the offspring.”[/stextbox]

 

But, what about Paleo and GAPS and Grain-Free everything? What about Gluten intolerance and Celiac and Crohn’s Disease? Unfortunately, all this study does is show that whole grains are important to a healthy pregnancy. It doesn’t tell us WHAT grains made a difference or how they were prepared. In her book Beautiful Babies, Kristen Michaelis of Food Renegade explains the perils of refined grains and details the proper preparation (soaking, sprouting, souring etc.) of whole grains as they were traditionally eaten. This is a great resource for those who are looking for the best way to incorporate grains into their pre-conception and pregnancy diets.

In the 5 years that I was trying to conceive, I had been on a few different ‘anti-carbohydrate’ VERY low grain diets. I was advised that the over-production of insulin as a result of eating too many carbs was a factor in my secondary infertility. While that has been found to be a valid medical argument, it may also be argued that the lack of whole grains in my diet contributed to the maldevelopment of my son’s lip and palate. The contradictory advice is confusing and could make the nutritional decisions of those trying to conceive even more difficult. If I were trying to conceive now and wanted to lower my risk of having another baby with a cleft lip and palate, I would lean toward a balanced diet of plenty of good fats and proteins from grass-fed pastured animals (meat, eggs, raw milk, butter and cream, etc.), local organic fruits and vegetables and PROPERLY prepared whole grains as suggested in Beautiful Babies,

The findings of this study do support the thesis that proper nutrition can contribute to the prevention of clefts. There is no question that not enough is understood about the causes of birth defects like cleft lip and palate. Likewise, not enough is known about why mothers of cleft babies are at a higher risk for diabetes and other health problems later in life.

When another letter came in the mail last week asking if I would further participate in the study I filled out the form and checked the YES box and stuck it back in the mail in the hopes that someday the samples and information I provide might help in finding the answers to how cleft lip and palate can be prevented. Until then, I will kiss and hug on my cute cleft boy until he won’t let me any more.

This post is shared at Frugal By ChoiceReal Food ForagerHealthy Roots Happy Soul

Father’s Day Gifts for the Real Food Dad

rfdadweb2Father’s Day is June 16th! I actually ordered Father’s Day gifts more than 2 days in advance this year. Yay for me! Way less stress.

My husband has typically been hard to shop for because he’s picky about what he wears, eats, does, uses, etc. It’s always been hard to step out of my ‘normal’ eating, wearing, doing, using life to imagine what he could possibly want. This year, choosing his gifts was SO much easier! I FINALLY understand and live the Real Food lifestyle, so I think I know what he wants. We’ll see if his reaction is any different this year. (Photos and update to come!)

For a couple years I’ve just had him choose his own gifts. Last year, we got him a Fiskars 9210 Long-Handled Swivel Grass Shears and The Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp Max Push Reel Lawn Mower. He loves that he can go out and mow the lawn early and enjoy the quiet at the same time. And it doesn’t use any fuel except the energy of the pusher. He picked it out himself though, and that’s not much fun.

snipperMEN-ON10-gazette-fiskars

Here are some of the ideas I had for gifts for the Real Foodie Dad: This year there were a bunch of things I thought he’d like. I settled on a couple, but I won’t say which ones. (Shhh!! It’s a secret!)

We make real ice cream from raw cream a couple of times a week, but he would like it to be MORE. Making a big batch in our regular ice cream maker takes a lot of cream. Plus, he doesn’t like chocolate so the rest of us ‘SUFFER’ with fruit flavors! 🙂 The Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker would let him make his own when he wanted. It comes with two bowls. The blue version is only $14.99!!
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Something else I know he would want is a food dehydrator. We have an old ‘infomercial’ dehydrator that works OK but it is huge and bulky. He’s been wanting one that’s easier to dry nuts and seeds on. And maybe some homemade jerky.
The EXCALIBUR 3900 would do the trick.

excalibur-2900-food-dehydrator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been talking about Earthing lately, so I think he’d appreciate some kind of device. Shoes, sheets, straps…there are all kinds of fun things to ground you to the Earth when you’re not running around barefoot. I loved these Pluggz flip-flops and kind of want them for myself.  If I were buying something for ME, though, I’d get the sheets. 8 hours of uninterrupted grounded-ness!

pluggz Earthing-Sheet

 

 

He takes his water to work every day in an Aquasana glass bottle. Sometimes it gets banged around a bit. This water bottle holder doesn’t curve up at the top like a lot of them do, so it would fit perfectly on his glass bottle to give it a little protection and keep it from sweating on his desk.

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Sometimes Real Foodie dads are Real Foodies because of Real Foodie moms. He may eat the good food willingly but not necessarily know why his wife is filling him full of yummy grass-fed beef steaks and butter and ice cream. In our case, I was the last to know, but if the Real Food dad in your life needs some good reading for the summer, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price is the perfect gift.
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Whatever Father’s Day gift you decide to get your Real Foodie dad, you’d better get it soon! It’s just around the corner!