Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rules and FAQ for the Six Ingredient Challenge

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonWe're glad you're following along with us on the Six Ingredient Challenge, which starts February 1! You still have plenty of time to link up to let us know you're up for the six-week challenge to eat more whole foods. See the intro post to find out our schedule for upcoming posts and grab a Six Ingredient Challenge button.

Today we're laying out the nitty-gritty rules of the challenge and also presenting the first writing prompt at the end. Muse about your answers to the prompt, and come back next week to link up your posts or leave a comment with your answer.

Why six ingredients?

The idea of lowering the amount of ingredients in the foods we buy and eat is that our bodies do best with foods that are close to what humans have been eating for millennia. The fewer the ingredients, generally the less processed and more natural the food.

However, the reason for six ingredients exactly? Frankly, Sam and I made up the challenge to suit ourselves. We'd seen various "real foods" and whole foods challenges that suggested limiting foods to five ingredients or fewer, but when we looked at a selection of the items we loved and that seemed wholesome (enough) to us, they had more. (Ha ha!) So we worked backwards until we found a level, along with the rules we also gradually came up with, that allowed us to eat the variety of foods we were used to and limited the amount of non-processed foods we would need to replace. Six it was!

In trying this out ourselves, we determined that six was a pretty reasonable number. It cuts out most processed and a lot of packaged foods, but it still allows for some condiments and treats, as well as homemade versions of what would otherwise be processed foods.

Here are the rules we came up with for ourselves. If you want to be stricter or less so, that's up to you (honestly!) — do what works for you and your family, and make some strides toward eating more traditionally. If you're not using our rules, I'd just urge you to come up with your own concrete guidelines and then stick to those for the challenge.

What counts as an ingredient?

We decided early on that some elements should not count as ingredients, and there was some debating back and forth on what to include on this list. We wanted to preserve the spirit of the challenge (eating more whole and natural foods) without either unduly restricting wholesome foods that just had a bunch of yummy parts to them or making the guidelines so broad as to be meaningless.

It's easier to tell you what doesn't count:
  • Water
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits (this was a sticking point for us — we finally decided whole fruits and fruit pieces could be excluded, but fruit purees and juices could not, since they were primarily sugar)
  • Spices and herbs

In other words, if a food product had any of those in its ingredient list, we'd skip over them when counting. If a soup was "Water, vegetable broth, carrots, beef, green beans, vinegar, garlic, black pepper," for instance, it would pass because it would count as just two ingredients: the beef and the vinegar.

If sub-ingredients were listed in parentheses after a single ingredient (for instance, "milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin)," we would count all the ingredients in parentheses and skip the parent ingredient in our count.

That's what we came up with, and you're free to alter the list to fit your own preferences or beliefs.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Two new loves

cat hiding in cat beach house
Peek-a-boo! There's someone new at our house.

cat sisters curled up in fur circles on the couch
Two someones.

cat looking regal
We adopted two Maine Coon mixes (big and friendly furballs) from a rescue.

cat looking at camera
They're not from the same litter, but they consider each other sisters, and so do we.

cat keeping a sick boy company on the couch
How are the boys taking to them? They love them.
Here is one keeping poor sick Mikko company on the couch.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reclaiming "healthy": On intuitive eating & ditching diets at Anktangle

Have you signed up for the Six Ingredient Challenge yet? There's still plenty of time, but Amy of Anktangle and I are already getting started talking about whole foods.

wordle cloud diet slash

Over at Anktangle today, Amy is talking about her journey with intuitive eating. She's reclaiming the word "healthy" from the diet industry, and sharing some insights she's learned about what works best (and what doesn't work at all) for her body.

Head over to Anktangle and join the conversation about listening to our bodies' wisdom when it comes to what each of our individual bodies needs to feel truly healthy.

Read more at Anktangle »

Monday, January 28, 2013

Join us for the Six Ingredient Challenge!

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonAre you interested in eating more whole foods but don't know where to start? Does the thought of eating naturally make you fear an increased cost, or inconvenience, or shopping at some weird hippie store? (Not that there's anything wrong with that…)

Amy of Anktangle and I have a simple and fun challenge for you for next six weeks. It's easy to follow and will give you a baby step into the world of more wholesome eating. Ready?

Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer.

That's it, honest.

Look at the label on the back of packaged foods and count: Six ingredients or fewer? You're golden. Is it something that doesn't have a label, like a pineapple? Then you already knew you were golden, because that has ONE ingredient! Score.

There are a few more rules to it than that, to help you sort out what counts and what doesn't, but that's all of it in a nutshell.

Does that sound doable? Excellent! Sign up with us and follow along as we blog each week (at both Hobo Mama and Anktangle, as well as some shout-outs to some partner blogs) about how to choose your foods, where to shop, how to make your own replacements for ingredient-heavy products, why eating this way is a good idea, recipe ideas, and more!

Just enter your name on the linky below to let us know you want to join, and grab our button for your sidebar or any post you'd like to write on the topics. For the bloggers among us, Amy and I will offer some writing prompts each week so you can write and link up your own posts about your progress and share some of your recipes and tips. (This is not required for anyone to participate, just a fun bonus for all of us!)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Surf: Sick days and a giant octopus

Welcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

sad sick boys next to sixgill shark sign at the seattle aquarium
Here are the two saddest boys to stand next to a shark sign.

big octopus at the seattle aquarium
Mikko had been sick for several days. It's actually been about two weeks (and a half? I've lost count at this point) of a sickness round-robin in our house, one person falling after the other. So we've all been feeling cabin fever (in addition to the regular kind), and Mikko was determined that we would go to the aquarium that day, despite my suggestion that it didn't seem like the best idea — he was still recovering, and danged if his little brother didn't seem to be coming down (again) with something new.

cuddly boy at the seattle aquarium
But off we went. I figured I'd wear Alrik when we were around people or walking, and that Mikko would manage a short outing. Well … he lasted ten minutes. The second I sat down on this bench, Mikko curled his big five-year-old body right up onto my lap and chilled out there for awhile while Alrik explored within eyesight.

sad sick boys cuddling with mama at a restaurant
So we abandoned the aquarium and tried to go get some food instead. Neither of them ate (well, Alrik took some liquid nourishment, as you see!), and both of them snuggled with me the whole time. Made it hard to wield a fork, and I do feel sorry for exhausted little boys, but I have to admit I loved the surfeit of snuggles.

Some reading for you!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Off my needles: Ribbon lace scarf

pattern in the sunlight - knitting ribbon yarn lace scarf

I finished a lovely and easy lace pattern scarf, and I wanted to show it off to you.

color variation - knitting ribbon yarn lace scarf

I knitted it from "Simple Lace Scarf Pattern" at Golden Bird Knits.

pattern of lace - knitting ribbon yarn lace scarf

I pinned the pattern here if you want to repin it. I love that it's the same row after row so I can set it down and come back to it and not have to try to remember where I was.
Knit? Purl? Which row was I on, again? (Anyone else?)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Stick-to-itiveness

toddler boy with stickers all over his shirt
Any stickers at our house end up like this.

toddler boy with stickers all over his shirt

toddler boy with stickers all over his shirt
All your sticker are belong to me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Surf: Sandy days & feeding choices

Welcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

two boys digging in sand at indoor beach at Sandbox Sports Seattle
A day at the beach in 40˚ F weather … but indoors, at Sandbox Sports!

boy making sand angel at Sandbox Sports Seattle
Great chance for digging & sand angels!

Some reading for you!

  • They Are All of Me: Breastfeeding Advocacy and Women Supporting Women 

    Breastfeeding advocacy doesn’t need to start and end with the timespan of actively breastfeeding one’s children. This is a rousing article from Destany calling everyone to support breastfeeding.
    When I was a breastfeeding, I didn’t know many women who nursed. […]

    I had decided, therefore, that my days as a breastfeeding advocate would not be limited to the days that breastfed my children. I know that when we wean, it sometimes feels that it’s not our battle anymore. I have indeed found myself in situations, vehemently arguing (over the internet) about the rights of breastfeeding mothers, and when I mention that I am not currently lactating, my argument seems to lose validity and I am left in the lurch as the person I am arguing with smugly stalks away. 

    I continue to argue and to stand up for nursing rights, however. Why? Because one day, I may have a daughter who breastfeeds. Or my nieces. Perhaps one day I will nurse again. Perhaps not. But my friends do. And my sisters and cousins. And so do many, many women who I do not know, but should not have to stand up alone. As women, we must support each other, even when standing up for things which don’t affect us directly in the here and now.

    I want to make it clear to women (and men) that we do not have to be a nursing mother to stand up for the rights of others to breastfeed. Even if you have never breastfed. Even if you do not have children yourself. Even if you’re not a woman, but a man who supports not only a woman’s right to breastfeed, but infants right to nurse and to eat when they are hungry.
    If you’re a non-lactating breastfeeding supporter, grab one of Destany’s buttons! (code on the post)
    Non-Lactating Breastfeeding Advocate Women Supporting Women
  • I’m Coming Out | Baby Dust Diaries 

    Paige writes movingly and honestly about her journey away from a Christian faith. Since I’ve shared a similar path, I found this incredibly meaningful.
  • 10 Conversations On Racism I’m Sick Of Having With White People | People Of Color Organize! 

    Not a new post, but I appreciate how this brings together a lot of the specious arguments seen over and over whenever the topic of racism comes up.
    I don’t usually share things with a lot of rough language, so be forewarned if you’re sensitive to that.
  • Getting Your Kids On Board for Eating Paleo–Toddlers & Preschoolers | The Paleo Mom 

    I really like these suggestions for getting kids to eat a different way (specifically paleo, but they can be adapted to other eating styles as well).
    I’ve been looking for some good resources on transitioning kids to a different way of eating, as it’s always been a struggle with Mikko (5.5) to encourage him to eat the foods I wished he ate (there’s a much longer story behind that, but I’ll keep it there for now), and now Alrik (1.5) is getting his own pickiness. Due to some reading I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been convicted that grains aren’t doing us any favors and Sam and I have cut them out, but we’ve had differing opinions on whether the boys should also lose them (I’m in favor; Sam’s on the fence) and just how to do it if so. I like the general idea of a gradual, kid-friendly approach, taking it slowly and in phases. (We’re not eating strict paleo, and I think the idea of gradual transitioning could work for any diet, except when immediate health concerns force a sudden change.)
    Her own story was also interesting.
    Yea! It feels more doable. Wish us luck…

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paleo cocoa – almond butter cookies

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of the New Year and Healthy Starts, we're sharing recipe ideas for healthy, nourishing recipes or anything you would enjoy this time of year. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.

A few months ago, Sam and I decided to try out a new eating habit: no grains, limited sugar. It's been a trip — one I never thought I'd go on, and one that has been surprisingly easy (!) and satisfying (!!). Like, not satisfying in some sort of holier-than-thou superiority-complex asceticism, but satisfying in the sense of tasting good and being kinda fun. I know! No one's more shocked than I am.

But at the risk of boring y'all talking diets (blah blah blah) and setting myself up for ridicule if in another two months we've moved on from it as a fad, I'll just present one of the dessert recipes we've tried out recently. This is still a treat, but it's not quite so sweet, so if you're in the mood to kick your own sugar habit as a resolution, here's a good, decadent choice to start with! If you feel like you overindulged over the holidays, enjoy the subtle sweetness, rich nutty taste, and cakey texture as you tell yourself they're "health cookies." Yeah, that's it.

Paleo cocoa – almond butter cookies == Hobo Mama

This cookie is chewy, chocolately goodness, with all-natural sweeteners, and is grain-free. Mikko's favorite cookies are rich peanut butter cookies, and this is a nut (almond) butter version of the same. (Note: He will not eat this version. More for me.) These cookies taste good even if you're not into being paleo, so anyone can enjoy them (except Mikko). Plus, they're gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar-free so are safe for people with those sensitivities. They still contain sugars in the form of honey, but you can use less or substitute with stevia as you need to — you'll likely have to play around with the recipe somewhat, since the honey adds moisture; maybe add in some coconut oil?

(In the title I'm using the word "paleo," since this recipe is paleo-centric. Our eating isn't strictly paleo, since … it isn't. I've also heard the terms primal and primarian kicked around, as well as good ol' low-carb. These are all loosely related, and the recipes we use now fit under one or more umbrellas.)

Cocoa – almond butter cookies

Paleo cocoa – almond butter cookies == Hobo Mama

Based off Paleo almond butter cookies at Intentional Consumption with thanks


Dietary/allergy notes:

Vegetarian, vegan if maple syrup is used in place of honey, gluten-free, paleo/primal, low-glycemic.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: What a polite young man

boy sticking his tongue out at the camera

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happiness, not greatness

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Continue your reading read on at the bottom of this post by clicking the links to the other participants' posts.

happy baby in playsilks cape
You don't have to be a superhero to be happy.
There are a lot of things that simple living means to me, but that's not very simple. So I'll go with one aspect that's occurred to me recently: I'm happy being happy.

I used to feel a driving need to be great, to make something of my life … and I've downscaled my own expectations. And you know what? It's fine.

All my life, I've had this inkling I should be somebody. Maybe because I was really smart as a child, I felt bad that I wasn't in fact a child prodigy. I felt sheepish thinking about Mozart (the overachiever!) or even fictional protagonists like Doogie Howser (a doctor at age 14! how can I compete?). I remember watching Jennifer Capriati play tennis at 16 or so and finding out this teen phenom was my age and hearing my parents josh that I hadn't accomplished anything so epic — and taking it to heart, even though I stank at tennis.

I was awarded all sorts of minor scholarships and honors when I graduated high school, but one that stood out to me was a music scholarship. Out of all the highly talented seniors in my musical groups, why had I gotten the music scholarship? I wasn't even planning on a career in music; was I worthy of such a prize? (Clearly no.)

Then there were the teachers and professors (and my mom!) telling me over and over again that I had it in me to be a writer, that I shouldn't let that gift go to waste. So as birthday after birthday passed without a novel on Oprah's list or a multi-million-dollar movie deal, I felt disappointed in my own stagnation.

It was all a sort of megalomania without a purpose: a lot of narcissism without much sticktoitedness.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Do something for you

Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Recovering from the Holidays

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over.

I wasn't sure I wanted to write what I actually did to recover from the holidays. See — the pre-holiday rush was tremendous. Not only did I have presents to prepare and wrap, Christmas activities to take the kids out to, and festivities to attend and plan, but I also had a long list of holiday-themed blog articles I wanted to race to get posted before the timeliness expired (and of course I missed out on half a dozen, and of course I do this to myself every year so should clearly start scheduling some posts now!).

When the holidays were over, what I most wanted to do — all I wanted to do — was play The Sims 3.

mama playing sims 2 computer game
An earlier time, with a very young Mikko and Sims 2
Yup, just hole myself away with my computer and ignore my real family for the sheer joy of raising a fake one. To his eternal credit, Sam let me.

I was thinking about how we as mothers (parents, but especially mothers) often think we don't deserve me-time. And not only me-time but wholly decadent, completely pointless, impossibly immature me-time.

So I'm here to tell you today: Find something you want to do, something that makes you happy, today, and if you have any space at all, do it.

Maybe it's retiring to your sewing nook and dusting off that old project you've been itching to get back to.

Maybe it's stealing the Xbox controller from the kids and racking up a few levels on your favorite game.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Surf: Boy entrepreneur

Welcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

entrepreneur boy with cake stand
Mikko desperately wants to set up a lemonade-stand-style business because he loves when people give him money. In addition to a peanut-butter stand (at which you got a taste of peanut butter for 25 cents or a whole jar for 20 dollars), he decided that this sponge cake he bought should be sold at a cake stand for $10 a chopped-up piece. He never actually takes his business outdoors and doesn't seem to understand that fleecing us isn't going to work. Still, I have to admire his self-employed spirit!


And a touching video:

Thalasso Bain Bebe par Sonia Rochel (by Rochel Sonia; via Whoz Your Doula)

This seriously could not be a more beautiful bathing experience for a newborn — you can read the bliss on the baby's face of reentering the familiarity of the womb. Oh!

I'd say it would be lovely to have a bath just like this as an adult, but that makes me think of a recent episode of New Girl and start laughing.


Pinterest screenshot for tutorial

Easy ways to make your blog Pinterest-friendly

Here are my top three ways to get pinned and repinned on Pinterest!

Carnival news:

Lots of carnivals posting this week, so stay tuned! And, make sure you sign up for the Parenting Blog Carnival Calendar and check out the upcoming due dates:

The parenting blog carnival calendar

Check out upcoming carnivals in the calendar below, and click the "plus" button at the bottom to add it to your Google account.

To add carnivals to the calendar, see the static page with an email form that takes you step by step through submitting your carnival information. Any carnivals on topics of interest to natural parenting bloggers are welcome.