Monday, May 27, 2013

Elias's Morning Juice Recipe & $1 Items Fun4Kiddos

Well it's no secret that Elias has become really obsessed with making his own juice.  I'm not sure if that's because he has a genuine love for cooking/creating tastes or because he's so particular about his own food!  He doesn't even like eating/drinking something unless he was there to witness it being made --he's like a paranoid little spy or something lol.  Because of this love of juicing, we do it at least 3 times a day together.  The first juice he has is the same recipe each day.  Good thing too because it's hard to write down these juice recipes when it's usually a little of this, a little of that!  We've gotten so used to this one in the morning I've been able to put actually put it into the blog.

#1-The Recipe!

This recipe is done first because it undoubtedly has the most calories and sugars (if there's any time during the day that it's best to consume the most calories, carbs and/or sugars, it's in the morning!) but of course these are natural, plant-based carbohydrates.  Don't discount those fruit sugars though!  They are still high in calories and if your child is at risk for being obese or has diabetes, tweak the recipe a bit to include lower-carbohydrate fruits.  This recipe includes low-carb fruits/vegetables as well as high, so it's decently-balanced, but as someone who tries to keep off weight, I'll put an asterisk next to the fruits that should be used in limited amounts to reduce carbohydrate-intake.  If your child is not at risk for obesity or has healthy blood sugar, don't worry about these fruits.  I've always been told if your child is getting healthy calories and isn't at risk for being overweight, don't count those silly little numbers!  Elias is certainly not in any danger of becoming a little husky, we have quite the opposite problem :P  It's in the genes.  I was wiry and short as a kid, my mother was wiry and short, and all the way to my great-great grandmother.  We're just a pack of short, skinnies until we hit our 30s.  You will know better than I do what your child should or shouldn't eat, so always take your motherly instincts into account when making recipes with your little girl or boy!

Morning Burst-o-Fruit

-1 medium-sized Gala, Braeburn, Jazz or any other crisp/sweet apple*
-5 ice cream scoops of fresh watermelon
-20 large, dark or black grapes (the darker the grape, the more polyphenols/phytonutrients, read "Drink a Rainbow" below for a link to why darker/more vibrant fruits/veggies are best!)*
-5 strawberries with tops sliced off
-Big 'ol fistful of baby spinach or baby kale (the "baby" varieties are sweeter/more tender)
-Large peeled, organic carrot (more on why organic carrots are important in an upcoming article)

Now you'd think that the order in which these go in isn't that important and while it's not essential that you follow this order, it does make it easier to get more juice because some of the fruits/vegetables clog the fine strainer inside the machine than others.  Also, getting juice from spinach is difficult unless you have what I call a "buffer fruit" on either side.  We start with the apple because these particular varieties of apples aren't very "mealy" so they tend to strain easily through the inner sieve; grapes come next because the skin --instead of clogging the strainer-- just falls into the back part of the juicer with other pulp discard.  Strawberries next because nearly all of the strawberry makes it into juice except, of course, the seeds.  Now, with the watermelon, we throw in 3 pieces but save two for the spinach.  After you've juiced the watermelon, place one piece of watermelon inside the chute then cram the fistful of spinach into the chute until tightly-packed, then place the second piece of watermelon on top.  Turn on the machine and use a tad bit more pressure to extract more juice instead of the spinach/kale leaves whiffing their way to the back of the machine instead! haha.  Again, this isn't totally necessary, but it does give you more juice from your spinach leaves.  Lastly comes the carrot which does surprisingly create a lot of pulp on the sieve and in the back chute of the juicer. You'll even see some more spinach juice come out!

It sounds horrible but it's really good.  Oh!  Here's a great tip --you know how on the infomercials the people just leave the machine on and keep throwing in fruits/vegetables?  Yeah, don't do that.  It won't mess up your machine, but it's not good for the machine's longevity and you'll probably get little spritzes here and there of juice to the face!  So here: turn off the machine between fruits and vegetables.  Plus, when your child is helping you make juice, he'll always get a pretty big kick out of turning the machine off and on for you!

Super-Cheap, Easy, & Fun way to get your kid to drink more juice

24 for $1?? What?! YAY-UH!
Well, it's "fun" for your child because anything made "kid size" is always more entertaining to them!  I'll tell you what I mean: You know those little plastic shot glasses you can find anywhere from Walmart to any $1 store?  Well they look like the picture and they're never usually more than $1.50.  Disposable, tiny, and you 
can find them in whatever color your child fancies the most!  Elias thinks it's funny to drink his juice by pouring numerous "shots" of his juice into his "baby cup" and drinking the whole thing that way.  This isn't an intro to college life, little ones just like things that make them feel big ie. tiny glasses :P

Crazy straws, funny-shaped ice cube trays, Luau cups, faux & real coconut cups, these are all things that will make your kid want to drink more "juicy" :)

Drink a rainbow!

Everyone knows it's healthier to eat darker, more vibrant fruits and veggies.  Read my article, The Rainbow Connection: A Nutritional Color Chart, about what certain colors in fruits and vegetables mean. ie. Orange: Generally means high in vitamin A & other carotenoids and vitamin C.  It's an easy-access, easy-to-understand chart to help you get the most out of shopping for fresh produce.  Bookmark it for your next grocery trip!

As always, just get your child involved in what you're doing!  If you keep your child out of the kitchen or stress that cooking/preparing food is a "mommy only" zone, the more likely your child will have issues with eating like being picky, not trying new foods, outright refusal to eat.  Having your child involved in safe grown-up activities boosts confidence and that confidence leads to independence and a desire to learn.  Letting your child do what mommy or daddy does lets him/her know you trust them enough to help and that's also a great way to bond.  Now I know it's difficult cleaning up a mess here and there --and if your child continuously or purposefully makes messes for you, maybe he/she just isn't ready yet-- but kids learn from making mistakes and I'll bet you after a couple of tiny spills (if you've got crazy reflexes like mine... That is the one thing I will brag about. I can catch a cup midway down to the floor!) your child will learn to stop them before they start :)  It's not all about juicing, but it's a darn-good start on the right track to learning-at-home and eating healthy!

Happy juicing, y'alls!

*These fruits are higher in carbohydrates/fruit sugars.  Use caution with children who are at risk for obesity or have blood sugar disorders like diabetes (hyperglycemia) or hypoglycemia.  If you have any worries about your child's weight or he/she is showing signs of low/high blood sugar, always consult your doctor.  I am not a doctor (clearly) but just a mommy enthusiastic about nutrition and food!
Most, if not all, new/better-quality juicers have safety features that make it impossible for your child to be hurt by the blades in the juicer. ALWAYS monitor your child when using electrical appliances.  It's not worth walking away for even a minute.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pulp Fiction: Homemade Juicing & "Juice Fasts"

Don't be fooled, adding a whole
apple to any juicer is going to
taste pretty gnarly... It's possible,
just not tasty or practical.
Okay, so recently the husbo and I acquired a juicer from Walmart.  We wanted to go with something that was mid-grade in price so a.) if it didn't work we wouldn't feel as bad about the purchase and b.) a lot of the more expensive juicers have that hefty price tag because of the brand name --or because they're commercial juicers and don't belong in your kitchen (though I have to say the hand-cranking wheatgrass juicer looks pretty sweet...  But not $75 sweet for a unitasker) We went with the Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel "Big Mouth Juice Extractor".  It was found at our local store which barely carries anything, so I'm assuming it's easy to find, but you can follow that link to order online or see if it's available in your store.

"Juice Fasting" & Why? That sounds really unhealthy
On the contrary!  It's actually really healthy as long as you're getting a good variety of juices into your system.  The whole idea behind "juice fasting" (the recommended time for beginners being 7-10 days) is to give your already-ill body a rest and let the juicer assist you in absorbing nutrients straight from the fruit.  "But I'm not sick?" Technically if you follow the diet that most busy moms, Americans, or just hard-working people follow, your body isn't going to be in the greatest condition.  Even if you're the healthiest person you know, this is a good way to begin a new diet regimen because you're clearing out all the bad stuff and just holding on to the good stuff.  The question I had was "Why not just eat a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables and forego the juicing?" Well the first answer to that is that we just don't do that. I don't know a lot of people who actually sit down to 10 pounds of fruit and vegetables a day. However, if you do actually do that, here's another reason: it takes our stomachs about 30 minutes-2 hours to digest plant-based foods.  In that time you're losing valuable nutrients from your stomach acids and enzymes breaking down the food.  Also, for people who are ill it takes their bodies even longer to break down those fruits and vegetables and it can add to fatigue (I'm talking people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Cancer, anything that has stunted your normal bodily functions)  When you drink juice it empties from your stomach in about 15 minutes.  That means the juice --and all those awesome nutrients-- enter your small intestine faster.  Your small intestine, covered in millions of finger-like extensions called "villi" to create more surface area for maximum nutrient absorption, is where our bodies begin to obtain the nutrients from what we eat whether it's fruits, vegetables, animal, or breads.  So the faster your small intestine gets a hold of this juice, the faster your body will get nutrients.  It's also broken down in a way that your body will end up absorbing more than if you just sat down to a giant plate of fruits and veggies.  This isn't hype, this is actual science.

        Stay Close to a Bathroom!  Yay!
Don't be embarrassed!  If you ever notice
a stark change in your bowel habits or just
don't feel comfortable with them, tell your M.D.!
Since you're digesting these plant-based foods at such a faster rate than normal, it stands to reason these fibers and juices are going to be hitting your large intestine faster as well.  Someone asked me recently "Well does it give you diarrhea?"and I said "Well no, but we're all so used to going once a day --or, God forbid, once a week-- that if we end up going to the bathroom once, twice, or even three times more than usual, we think there's something wrong.  As long as you're not passing watery stools each time it's totally normal.  You're clearing yourself out!" Yes, that's incredibly graphic, but when you're going to go on a drastic diet change, no matter what kind it is, you'll expect to have changes in your bathroom habits! It's all normal, we're all human, we've been doing this since even before we came out of our mom's bellies.  That's just another benefit to juice fasting.  I'm not personally going to talk about my bathroom habits on here, but anyone who is going to be doing nothing but drinking juice is going to clear out, but not in a crampy, painful way like taking a laxative (those cramps are caused by stimulants in laxatives and gas.  Unless you're using fruits or vegetables that you are sensitive to, you shouldn't experience gas or cramps.)  You've heard it here, you've heard it from Oprah, you've heard it from Oz, you've heard it from that weird, pencil-mustachioed guy who does infomercials: overall bodily health begins in the colon.  If you have an unhealthy lower digestive system your immune system is probably compromised, you may be more susceptible to allergies or hay fever, you may have an overall feeling of tiredness and sluggishness, etc.  It's all because that part of our body is an all-natural septic system and if it's not taken care of, you can become septic.  In the worst cases you can even end up in the hospital with painful problems like impaction, infection, and if you have a diet that consists mostly of animal tissue and you're not going often enough, you could even end up with a perforated colon, septic shock, and maybe even death.  Who knew the part of the body we laughed about so much as kids could kill you??  I had a friend who ended up in the hospital from impaction and it was scary as all get-out.  In the end, it's what you put in there that counts.  Colon health from not eating animal flesh is for another article, but you'd be surprised how much better you feel if you cut out meat. I digress...

So is it a true fasting?
Some people can handle a 100% juice fast.  That means replacing any meal and snack, or even any pang of hunger, with a juice drink.  You'll be very surprised how quickly you'll be satiated with a big glass of juice.  It's not like drinking even the best store-bought bottled juice.  There's so many pulpy bits of goodness in there that your stomach becomes full of the fiber and you're not hungry anymore!  I was just thirsty for orange juice the other day and it was the first time I had orange juice that actually made me feel FULL.  I'm not drinking these huge glasses of juice either, just a normal 6-8oz. serving.  The only thing I can say is do not ever start a juice fast if you have any doubts on how it will impact your health.  Especially if you are diabetic.  If you feel you are healthy enough to start the regimen, by all means go ahead, but a friend of mine is diabetic and I'm urging him to talk to his doctor first.  I do not want to be responsible for anyone's blood sugar spiking because they drank too much fruit juice and not enough vegetable juice, or the opposite.  Not because I'm afraid of a lawsuit, no one gives a crap enough about this blog to sue me, but because I don't want anyone to get sick because of advice I gave.

Who will probably feel a little crappy the first few days of the fast
*Coffee/tea/caffeinated beverage drinkers: for obvious reasons you're going to feel a little sluggish. This is why I didn't totally cut out caffeinated soda (which is terrible for you, I know) but I'm slowly weaning as I go along with juicing.
*High-sugar, high-fat eaters: Let's face it, fatty foods and sugars are addictive.  It's a fact.  Even something as innocuous as a slice of cheese releases Casomorphins in the brain to give you a "high" after eating it. (Does Casomorphins sound familiar?  Well, "Caso" is like "Queso" ie. cheese.  "-morphins" are like "endorphins" and "morphine."  A-ha!  These hormones attach to the morphine receptors in our brains to create that "food high.")  Processed sugar has a high all its own so even if you're drinking high-sugar/high-carb juices throughout the day (there should always be a balance) refined sugar is very addictive and your body WILL crave it.  I know mine has!  Where the hell are my donuts???
*Dairy-lovers: for the same reason mentioned above about the Casomorphins.  Good news though, you can actually make your own alternatives to milk with a juicer!  Soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk, they have the recipes!  These will probably be the most complicated things you make with the juicer, but they're still pretty darn easy!

Same goes for any refined, processed food-lovers.  White breads, fried potatoes, etc.  However, if you're a meat-addict, you'll probably feel better than you have in a long time! :)  We just have to accept that even though we're not on the street corner begging for spare change for a Coca-Cola, we're still caffeine, sugar, fat, processed-food junkies.  Some of us all the time, some of us just a little bit of the time, but once it's gone your body will feel withdrawals.  Food is a powerful thing!  It's our body's gasoline, and with an organism as complex as a human being, even slight changes in its normal routine are going to be felt.

What do you recommend I put together for a juice?
The best part of juicing is that you can put anything together that you think will taste good.  Do you love grapes, apples, oranges and cantaloupe?  Throw them all in there!  While you're at it, throw in a big 'ol fistful of spinach and you won't notice a thing!  Or, do what Drew and I do, take a big 'ol bunch of spinach and make "spinach shots" in the morning.  We bought small plastic shot glasses (Actually bought for the Ballard Center at first, but then we got some for ourselves once we started this.  Good idea!) and we'll take shots of straight spinach juice in the morning.  Does it taste good?  Well, it doesn't taste terrible!  We use baby spinach too, so the flavor is a lot milder.  It does take a LOT of leaves to make juice though.  It also takes a lot of leaves to make one serving of cooked spinach, so that's why you always see greens in these ginormous bags at your produce section.  Throw carrots into fruit juice and you definitely won't notice a thing. I actually made a drink strictly for its high-volume of vitamin A and the carrots cut the sweetness so it tasted a lot better.  It had cantaloupe in it, very ripe I might add, so the carrots made it less cloying.

Also, some things aren't going to taste awesome.  Like if you're trying to get in your vegetable fix and you're not used to eating a lot of veggies raw, just chug the crap out of it.  Those kinds of recipes I just call them "chuggers" because it doesn't matter if they're not super-delicious, they're there to get you through the next juice serving and they make sure you get those vegetables in.  You can't just drink fruit juices.  Sorry, it's just not good for you!  Too much sugar, not enough iron and B vitamins, yadda yadda.  Even if you just stick to berry juices (berries have the lowest levels of sugar of all fruits) it's still not enough to maintain a balanced juice diet.  Remember to use the most colorful fruits and vegetables possible, because just living off of apple or pear juice isn't going to help you at all!  This is your chance to get in all those fruits and vegetables you don't have the time to eat all day long, so make it a good one :)

Holy crap, she's finally about to stop talking...
So, in summation, it's a really good idea to either get you back into shape, clear you out before a major diet change, make you feel healthier and happier, and hey, it might even cure diseases you've been fighting for years! Some hard-core juice fasters have lost so much weight they are no longer dependent on insulin or they've not had flare-ups of certain autoimmune disorders like psoriasis or even Lyme disease.  Some no longer need to take pain medications... I've torn my stomach to shreds with NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Mobic, all to alleviate my daily joint/muscle/back pain.  Even when I used to go to the chiropractor 3 times a week.  Plus, it will give you more energy to actually exercise those creaky muscles and joints. I thought I was getting enough exercise chasing after a toddler, but just because someone is losing weight doesn't mean they're getting enough exercise or are in shape.  I really, really want as many people to try this as possible.  Healthy or not, it can benefit a variety of people.  You don't even have to fast and you'll see results.  Elias loves it.  He thinks it's the coolest thing in the world to make his own juice and he'll drink down that juice before you can even ask if he wants a straw.  He'll throw strawberries, watermelon, spinach, cantaloupe, carrots, anything he can get his hands on into the machine and he gets so excited he jumps up and down when he switches the "on" button.  So if your kids don't like to eat anything (like my son) here's a good way to get them involved.  A kid will always eat more if he made it himself, period.

Any questions leave in the comments and I'll answer them!  I'm planning on making another blog full of recipes once I actually write them down. Until then I've just been tossing things in the juicer and seeing what happens haha.  They've all gone great so far!

Happy juicing!

P.s. If you're not enjoying the taste of your juice as much, ADD ICE.  It makes 
a world of difference!

*Note: I'm not a nutritionist, I'm not a doctor, I'm just overly-enthusiastic when it comes to health products and whatnot so, once again, consult a doctor if you feel like this may hurt you in any way.  If your doctor is hesitant, do your own research beforehand so you can show him/her the statistics because a lot of doctors aren't trained in holistic therapies, they're trained to write prescriptions (Not all doctors!  I repeat: not all doctors!) If you have Netflix, check out "Fat, Sick, and Nearly-Dead" for what I believe is the most dramatic change in two peoples' lives as far as juice-fasting goes.  It's incredible and will also answer a lot of questions I may not have addressed.  It's really very interesting!  If you're on a Netflix kick while doing chores, may I also suggest "Vegucated" by a documentarian who was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana!  Awesome!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Lazy Vegans Part I: How Elias's Potty Habits Changed Us All

Drew and I have always been flip-floppers in the way of vegan/vegetarianism.  We'll try it a few days, maybe a week, at most a month and have some indulgences in between.  We've been this way for years and it's never really stuck.  I guess that's where the title "the lazy vegans" came from.  That and because I want people to know that you don't have to be perfect when it comes to what is essentially a major diet change.  This time though, we're going to stay this way.  Why?  Well here's the beginning of our final vegan turnaround.

Elias's poo habits: a story of laughter, tears, and lactose sugar betrayal
Now he's happier than ever!

Some people are annoyed by seeing too many photos of other people's kids, and even more annoyed by parents who overshare, but if you have a kid you've already heard/seen more about poop in the first few weeks than you've heard about poop in a lifetime --even more than an episode of Dr. Oz.  We've always fed Elias rather healthily, actually a lot healthier than we feed ourselves which we've always known we need to change before our horrendous eating habits really rub off on him.  He was already starting to notice the shape of my donut boxes in our grocery bags and freaking out for one if he saw it.  Ouch.  However, no matter how healthy the little guy ate he a.) never gained weight and b.) always had some form of constipation and c.) because of his constipation he would continually hold in his poop, actually physically clinch his little butt so he didn't have to poop, making it that much worse.  We'd been told by everyone, including doctors, that he was just a small little boy like I was a small little girl when I grew up.  The constipation, at its worst, could be treated with suppositories and Miralax.

Miralax:  Miralax is not your typical laxative.  It's non-stimulant so it doesn't make you go.  It's what manufacturer's call a hygroscopic laxative, and if you remember anything from chemistry or bio, hygroscopic means that the substance absorbs water.  Sugar is hygroscopic, certain fibers are hygroscopic, and Miralax is made up of a hygroscopic fiber that brings water into the stool to not only make it softer, but to bulk it up so it can push out what's already in there. The effect on Elias:  Miralax would take a couple of days to work, but we would still hear the whining and crying before his bowel movements only to result in small stools, hard stools.

Suppositories: They were effective, but with "normal" people those things normally take like 5 minutes before they have the urge to get to a toilet!  Little Elias could actually nap through his suppository dose because he was so intent on holding it and his poop in.  Seriously, toddlers are very perceptive when it comes to potty behaviors.  If they feel like it's going to be uncomfortable in the slightest, they aren't going to do it.  Period.  It would take a little over an hour for one to work, but after he had held in his poo for so long, it was painful and of course a massive poo.  Poor little guy.  We had to hold him, kiss him, hug him, and soothe him in any way possible as if he had a boo-boo.  When he would finally go, we cheered, danced, clapped our hands, gave him a popsicle or some other kind of treat, anything to show him , that not only was pooping normal, but it was GOOD to poop!
Figure 1

Month after month his movements would be in either the 2 or 1 category on the Bristol Chart (see figure 1) As parents, it was agony watching him in pain.  Especially when his favorite phrase to describe the pain was, in his teeny little guy voice, "Ouch-chee-chee, it huuurts" accompanied by the saddest face you've ever seen :(  There is nothing sadder than seeing your child not be able to do something everyone does every day!  Okay, I promise you this blog isn't entirely about his poop.

"What in the hell does this have to do with veganism???"

Okay, this is why, and it will undoubtedly be the most graphic part of the story when it comes to poop.  Sorry guys! lol.  Eventually Elias started to show these little white pieces in his poop.  Of course I absolutely freaked when I saw this because I have this extreme phobia of worms whether they be intestinal or just regular old earthworms.  I immediately thought that's what it was.  So I contacted a ped. and they asked a whole bunch of questions first and other than the white stuff in his poop, there were no other symptoms.  He was skinny, but he wasn't lethargic, he didn't itch, he wasn't sick, and he would be more likely to have diarrhea than constipation if he had some kind of intestinal parasite.  Plus, we don't have animals and he only comes in contact with them when he visits family.  It was also the time of year where we didn't go outside that much.

Still terrified we talked about what the poop looked like and the doctor said that sounded more like bits of food fiber --it looked like cooked oatmeal pieces in his poop, no matter if he'd had oatmeal or not-- and that with the constipation it just was more visible in the super-solid poops he was having.  I accepted that answer because even though it still plagued me every time he had a bowel movement.  I seriously can't explain my irrational fear of intestinal parasites that was instilled in me by my late grandmother (I still love you, memaw!) because he always told us kids we were going to get worms if we didn't wash our hands before eating, if we didn't clean up after touching the animals, and I'm pretty sure she used some kind of anti-worming treatment on my sister and me when we were kids even though we didn't have worms and my mother went ballistic lol.  It was a different time...  I digress....

Months go by and still no change, still the occasional spongy, cottage cheese-like deposits in his poop, not wanting to eat anything, but still such a happy, healthy, well-developed boy we just tried to accept that this was his life and we just had to assume his constipation was from his sheer will NOT to poop. Feed him even more fiber than he was already getting, cut back on all the protein, flood him with water even more, honestly just do what we've always done but more!

"No, really, when does this turn into VEGANISM??"

Alright!  Here it is FINALLY!  After so long of being so distraught over Elias's condition, as well as his aunt Emily, uncle Drew, basically anyone who came into contact with him during his poo time, I finally went on yet another research spree after reading up more on veganism.  I watched every documentary, I read hours worth of articles, and so much of our health and wellness depends on digestion health, and how animal products make our bodies work so much harder to expel waste (more on that in another article)  Then somehow I came across an article about intestinal yeast.  The more I read about an overabundance of intestinal yeast (a.k.a. "thrush" in the colon) the more all but two of the symptoms lined up with Elias (nausea and lethargy) and, of course, since Google has everything, I was able to find actual photos of toddler poop that had an overabundance of candida.  It was as if they had gotten photos of Elias's poop!  It looked exactly the same over and over again.  I couldn't believe it!

Most articles said many of the intentional yeast infections were caused, or made worse by, dairy products.  Lactose, the sugar naturally-occuring in dairy milk, feeds these yeast cells (since yeast eats sugar.  Think about making bread and how yeast needs sugar to "bloom.")  But why was this lactose not being digested well enough that it was able to feed yeast that far into his digestive system??  We learned in the process Elias has lactose intolerance.  So the intolerance to lactose was making him constipated, and the lactose sugars were feeding intestinal yeast he may have acquired just by the sitting sugars in his gut or when he was using a pacifier (mind you, we have never seen a sign of thrush in his mouth or diaper area in his entire life and neither has a doctor, so that's what was determined) So every single time we were giving him milk --his absolute favorite drink of all time-- we were feeding his constipation.  We knew dairy could get him constipated, so we doubled up on water, but nothing worked.


We switched him to soy milk immediately after the yeast discovery.  Soy milk and lots of acidophilus in soy-based dairy products.  Soy was our first choice only because there was no coconut milk available at the time and almond milk, surprisingly, doesn't provide very much protein at all.  Within 24 hours we had gone through our first day without hearing "Ouch-chee-chee, it huuurts" and that was enough to make us tear up. Then in 48 hours he had his first poo that wasn't hard and rated more like a type 4 on the Bristol chart (figure 1)  We didn't even hear him strain!  We just smelled something, saw the potty, and there it was!  We were so excited, Elias was so excited!  He jumped around, clapped, laughed, slammed his potty shut like he had conquered the darn thing :)  Within days of starting the process, we saw no more signs of yeast in his poop.  None.  He finally sleeps throughout the night, even though before he was only waking up a couple of times with gas.  He is a totally different little boy!  He's always been happy, but now he's elated.


Like I said about 200 years ago when this article first started, Drew and I tossed the idea of veganism around but after we saw the near-immediate change in Elias after we stopped giving him animal products (we're off of red meat, chicken, eggs, fish may be last) we've been able to alleviate him of an almost year-long problem.  An excruciating problem.  A problem we feared would have caused him 
permanent damage, even psychologically, but as soon as we threw out the dairy he's "BM'ing like a rockstar" as Liz Lemon would say.  If a change in diet this simple can change Elias's entire life it can change ours.  We always knew it would be healthier, but we never thought it could be something that could work so fast.  So now we're starting it out again.  But we'll always be the "lazy vegans" because we're not going to picket Burger King for using casein in their veggie burgers, we're not going to preach to people they have to be vegan, we don't have time for that!  We won't, however, be "Dorito vegans"*
Sooo much better!

Plus, after years and years of being omnivores we're not going to expect a change as quickly as Elias's so we'll adapt ourselves gradually.  Thankfully Elias is at the age where it's easier for him to try new things.  Just one way in what will eventually be a looooong list of things Elias will teach us instead of us teaching him :)


The next article will answer more questions, explain more about the vegan diet, why even with the most humane of conditions meat still just isn't that great for your body in general, how you can go vegan if you want to, and if you've got any questions about veganism or why you're opposed to that lifestyle change, I'll answer that one too!  This was just a crazy way that our kid's POOP was the final push into starting a vegan diet.

If you've finally made it down to this point, congratulations!!!  Thanks for reading ^_^  I promise questions will be answered because I'm sure there are a lot after all of that rambling lol.  Drew and I are just so excited in this huge change in Elias's life that we want to share it with everyone.  Also, since starting this diet we already are starting to feel better so we want everyone to feel better too!  No point in finding something good and not letting other people in on it :)  Oh, and if it seems like Elias has been allergic to everything, next article we can talk about how his digestive health had a lot to do with them and we're already seeing a vast improvement!  Crazy!!!

Peace & Love!

Having fun without hurting!
*Dorito vegans: people who eat stuff that is technically vegan, like Doritos and Oreos, but not fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Totally guilt-free children's popsicles!

It cracks me up when I have to tell people my son is just too "busy" to eat.  My experience with my son's eating habits is nothing new.  When he was a baby I breastfed as much and as long as I could, I made nearly all of his baby food, even on Valentine's and Halloween I take all of his candy (hey! It's the perk of being a parent, right??  I don't eat them in front of him.  That's cruel and confusing!  "Why does mommy get to eat that stuff but I can't??")  But no matter how hard parents work to keep their child's diet healthy, when they hit those glorious toddler years you begin to learn that eating is more of a process of trial-and-error all over again, but not like when they were babies.  In this age along with refusals to eat certain foods --like when they were babies-- toddlers have developed a sense of self and a definite sense of rebellion, so they feel they decide just how feeding time is going to go.

The Busy Little Bee
When he's not playing, he's "helping"
in the kitchen.  He's too sweet!
My son thinks he's everything from a train conductor, a car detailer, an artist, a computer analyst, and a modern-day Ashton Kutcher in Punk'd.  In a nutshell, he's what all mothers and grandmothers call "busy."  It's such an absurd term because what could a child possibly be "busy" doing??  Well to them everything they do is 100% the single-most important thing they'll ever do in their lives, and 5 minutes later the next thing is the single-most important thing they'll do in their lives... Strangely enough, these actions are some of the most important things they'll ever do because it's totally invaluable learning time, but when food is presented in such a loving, home-cooked way, why on Earth would they not want to sit down and eat it??  How food not on the forefront of their minds like many other children?  It's a toss-up every meal time whether I can manage him to sit at his little table for longer than 5 minutes before he's distracted by his next "project," so to cope with this I try to make some of his favorite foods but I load them down with healthy items without his knowledge --or sometimes

One of his favorite foods...
Would definitely be popsicles.  What kid doesn't like popsicles??  No matter how tempting it is to buy the "100% fruit" popsicles, they're still loaded with sugar, stabilizers to keep them smooth, and there's no telling how long they've been on the shelf.  I'm not saying they're the DEVIL, I'm just saying their packaging is so alluring you'd think you're doing something good for your child when in reality it's almost like giving your child a snack.  In fact, many pediatricians say things like fruit cups, even in their own juices, are considered a "snack" because they lose so much nutritional value being cooked, pasteurized, and processed, and also packed in a fruit juice that is solely there for sweetening, not for nutritional value.

So what do I do to make popsicles on the cheap and easy?  First you go to your local Walmart store and on nearly every aisle you'll find these Crayola crayon-shaped popsicle molds. They're always hanging around, begging for an impulse-buy, and I finally give in.  They're inexpensive, they are really nice, hard plastic, no BPA, and there's seriously nothing cuter than the giant crayon shape.  Of course you don't have to use these particular molds, but that's what we have in our house!  So there's the first super-cheap step.

Secondly, I have a blender.  A food processor (even a mini prep processor) works just as well.  Blenders for this kind of work are super cheap so you don't have to break out your $1,200 Blendtec.  You can easily get away with a $20 Rival brand for these popsicle recipes.  It's crucial though unless you like to endure the pain of a mortar and pestle every night --and I do make these every night.  Here are the recipes I make the night before and you'll see some repeating ingredients, but that's because they've always been shown to work wonderfully.  BIG PLUS: A lot of the ingredients I choose are because my son is underweight, so I've got some fatty, yet healthy, ingredients in what would otherwise be a zero-fat snack!

Recipe 1: The Orange Creamsicle, revamped!

1 container Activia regular vanilla yogurt (not "lite") or Greek-style
2 T heavy whipping cream*
Approximately 4 oz. fresh-squeezed or Simply Orange juice (can be fortified)

Thicker & More Protein!
Mix together yogurt and cream, take a regular cereal spoon and put in a layer of the yogurt, then a layer of juice, and alternate until the mold is full to manufacturer's specifications.  You should have nearly nothing left over since each popsicle holds about 2 oz. of liquid.  Freeze, enjoy :D  They really taste like creamsicles!  Unlike creamsicles, however, they pack a good source of protein (especially the Greek-style yogurt) antioxidant vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, and even more calcium if you buy the calcium-fortified orange juice.  This isn't just for kids, folks.  I genuinely enjoy these popsicles myself!  Oh, and since it's Activia, you can rest assured your kid is going to have a nice trip to the potty ^_^

Recipe 2: "Fudge"-sicle

Approximately 1/3 cup of whole milk
2T heavy cream**
Quarter of an avocado (check out my article about avocados! Holy Guacamole! Article)
1/2 cup Carnation Instant Breakfast Chocolate (of course has a lot of sugar, but in moderation, and it's loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that definitely can't be found in a traditional fudgesicle!)

Blend all together in blender (easy enough!) Fill molds according to manufacturer's instructions, freeze, and
enjoy!  I even find this popsicle to be mighty tasty... I've even added peanut butter to this recipe once for a nice kick of iron, fat, and protein.  These are a great source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and Instant Breakfast is crammed with vitamins and minerals already so it's fortified with more good stuff.  That doesn't mean you can skip out on the fresh ingredients!

Recipe 3: The "Poop-sicle"

Wow... Really should have thought through that title...

1/2 container Activia vanilla yogurt or Greek-style yogurt (NO LITE!)
1/3 cup "Plum Smart" juice
Tastes more like cran-grape!
This is quite possibly the easiest one yet!  It's surprisingly tasty and you just blend these two ingredients together and fill the molds according to instructions, then freeze.  You can even skip the Activia, but since I'm is prune juice, has been formulated so that it's much tastier and it doesn't have that super-heavy prune juice taste.  I for one love prunes, but prune juice?  It's not too wonderful.  Boo me!
not using whole fruits in this recipe I like to supplement it a little bit with some protein and calcium so I don't feel quite as bad about just freezing juice.  Either way you do it, it's a winner in this household because "plum smart," though it

Recipe 4: Banana-Berry Spinach??

Whole container of Activia regular Vanilla or Greek Style (Again, no "lite."  No artificial sweeteners.)
Half sliced banana
Palmful of blueberries (fresh is best, frozen is still great!)
A few baby spinach leaves (make sure you blend until they are merely teeny flecks!)
2T heavy cream*

Blend together until the spinach leaves are nearly undetectable.  If your mixture is too thick, feel free to add in watermelon or a tiny smidgen of fruit juice --whatever you have on hand.  Mix to your desired consistency, fill the molds.  You know the drill!

Notes: You can add just about any ingredient you can think of with these recipes, these are merely "starter recipes" and ones I use most often.  Encourage yourself to go nuts with them!  Some recipes I add silken tofu, some recipes I add sweet potato puree, sometimes I even throw in very-finely shredded carrots.  The key here is to pack in as much healthy stuff as possible!  A lot of these recipes are considered a half serving of fruit, dairy, vegetables, lean protein, and good fats.  Another important thing to know is that "fresh is best" and though these are horrendously-convenient and you can feed them to your child every day without feeling guilty, you should never entirely substitute fresh fruits and vegetables with popsicles.  Not only is that giving their bodies less of a chance to process their own foods, it's letting a toddler "win" by being rewarded with popsicles instead of a piece of fruit.  So if you have a busy little man like I do, it feels good to give him a snack he can carry around while he's pretending to be "Sir Toppam Hat" or calling relatives on our phone :)

Also, these recipes can be put in an ice cream maker and turned into a nice, soft ice cream.  Your child will never be the wiser :)  It also helps letting your child get involved when you make the popsicles the night before.  It can become a new bonding routine!  Every night, pull a chair up next to your "workstation" and let your child pick out what goes into their popsicle the next day.  Chances are they'll come up with some pretty creative combinations and eat them regardless of taste and feel proud about what they've created, rather than balk at the idea of having to eat... Again. This really goes for all food preparation, really.  Within safety reasons, let your child get involved!  Let him/her make a mess, it'll all come out in the wash, and soon you'll have your own little chef you never knew existed :)  Who knows?  Maybe one day he'll cook your dinner! haha.  That's not happening any time soon with me, but Elias does clean his dishes and with great relish!

Happy eating, y'all! xoxo
-Elias's mommy
Contact me!

*Can be omitted; I use it to add extra fat because my son is very petite, just like I was, and in combination with his extremely-active lifestyle he burns a ton of calories.  I don't feed him junk, so it's hard for him to pack on the pounds.  Plus, it does add a bit of creamy-dreaminess to it.  If your child is lactose-intolerant, you can skip this step.  Yogurt usually doesn't upset tummies of lactose-intolerant children, but always talk to your doctor if you are unsure about a particular ingredient.

**Again, can be omitted.  In this recipe it does "double-duty" because not only does it add a good amount of fat, it ads a bit of a creaminess that is reminiscent of fudgesicles.  If your child has a lactose sensitivity, feel free to replace this and the whole milk with yogurt.  If the recipe is too thick, add a teensy bit of fruit juice, or just don't use Greek-style yogurt which is much thicker than regular yogurt.