Thursday, February 28, 2013

Challenges & joys of the #6IngredientChallenge

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: What has been the easiest part of this challenge for you so far? The most difficult part?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Next week's writing prompt is at the end of this post along with posting instructions.

To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!


My answer:

The easiest part of the challenge was probably how quickly Sam and I adapted. I also was so glad he was in this with me, because I think (I know) trying to eat in a different way from my partner would have been really hard. Especially since he does the cooking!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Science & lapdesks


The kiddos and I went to meet some friends at the Pacific Science Center.
We hadn't been in awhile, so it made for an interesting unschooling day.

toddler busting moves on dance floor - pacific science center outing seattle unschooling
Alrik busted some moves on the dance floor.

boy tugging rope pulley - pacific science center outing seattle unschooling
Mikko investigated all the pulleys.

pushing buttons - pacific science center outing seattle unschooling
And both of them pushed lots of buttons.

climbing a baby slide - pacific science center outing seattle unschooling
The toddler room was a hit.

pleased with himself at the bottom of the slide - pacific science center outing seattle unschooling
Alrik was very pleased with his experience on the slides.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Side-lying nursing at African Babies Don't Cry + #6IngredientChallenge shout-out


cosleeping side-lying breastfeeding tutorialI'm so chuffed to have a guest post at African Babies Don't Cry about how to manage the tricky but needful art of side-lying nursing. It lets you breastfeed but sleep at the same time! How cool is that?

I'd love to chat with you in the comments over there!

As long as you're going places, I'm also pleased that Reduce Footprints picked up our Six Ingredient Challenge as their Change the World Wednesday Challenge this past week! Glad we were inspirational. How's the challenge going for you?

Back to my breastfeeding tutorial:

I want to put a tutorial out there for how to breastfeed lying down, because it makes such a significant difference to how enjoyable cosleeping and breastfeeding will be for most mamas. If you want to get the best sleep while breastfeeding, I recommend cosleeping. And if you want to get the best sleep while cosleeping and breastfeeding, I highly recommend learning side-lying nursing early on! It can take a little time to get the hang of it, but once you've got it down, you can pull your baby in for a feed and then both of you can drowse, safely, back to sleep.

Read more at African Babies Don't Cry »

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kid-friendly bread recipe with whole grains, oats, and flaxseed


Can you believe it? We're already into the fourth week of the six-week Six Ingredient Challenge! How's it going for you? Amy and I posted our answers to the third week's writing prompt, and the linky there is still open for you to link up your posts about why you felt inspired to be a part of the Six Ingredient Challenge. Remember to post your answers to the fourth prompt sometime before Thursday. Even if you didn't start the challenge with us on February 1, it's not too late to sign up and join in now!

Today I'm bringing you a guest post from Sam, our family's resident breadmaker. He's sharing an easy recipe for making homemade semi-whole grain bread. It can be nearly impossible to find any store-bought grain products with six ingredients or fewer, and processed breads often have a lot of questionable additives, hydrogenated oils, and even high fructose corn syrup. Here's a healthier version that kids will eat — maybe because they don't realize how healthy it is! It's a family-friendly mix of white flour, whole wheat flour, whole oats, and whole flaxseeds. It takes just six ingredients (not counting spices), and it helps use up the whey from the homemade ricotta recipe Sam posted before.


Homemade semi-whole grain bread

cooking homemade easy bread recipe

Guest post by Crackerdog Sam

I'd been making the basic white loaves from the stellar book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for a few months when Lauren suggested switching over to at least partially whole-wheat flours. Unfortunately, my first attempts were too dense and dry and I gave up.

It wasn't until I got into homemade ricotta and had all this whey to use up, reading in various places that whey gave bread a "fluffier crumb" (the interior of the loaf), that it occurred to me that I might salvage the whole-wheat option. I've added flaxseed and whole oats for more whole fiber, and more hearty flavor. Mikko eats it up without complaint.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup + 1 Tbsp room-temperature whey
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 Cups unbleached white flour (7.2 oz)
  • 2/3 Cup white whole wheat flour (3.6 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp whole flaxseeds
  • 1/4 Cup oats
  • Optional: dill, tarragon, finely diced garlic, etc.

Note: Breadmakers actually weigh their flour instead of measuring it, because you can get different amounts in a cup depending on whether you sift, sweep, or pack the flour. The cup measurements I've listed are based on my typical method of reaching a scoop into the bag and pressing lightly against the side of the bag when filling it, which slightly compacts the flour.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Surf: Seafood


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

brothers sitting on each other's lap - showing food in mouth
Mikko specifically wanted me to show off the food in his mouth with this photo.
You're welcome.

Time for some weekend reading!

Guest posting:

I'm happy to share my post on "Side-lying nursing: A breastfeeding tutorial to give you more sleep" at African Babies Don't Cry!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Calling for submissions for March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

We continue to be delighted with the inspiration and wisdom our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in March 2013! (Check out January 2013, December 2012, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January, and a summary of all our 2011 posts if you missed any.)

Your co-hosts are Lauren at Hobo Mama and Dionna at Code Name: Mama.

Here are the submission details for March 2013:

Serious conversationsTheme: Tough Conversations: How do you address challenging topics with your kids (death, race, sex, injustice, etc.)? Recall a tough conversation you had, share your thoughts or tips on how parents can handle these challenges with grace, or find your own way to tackle this topic.

Deadline: Tuesday, March 5. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at} NaturalParentsNetwork.com

Carnival date: Tuesday, March 12. Before you post, we will send you an email with a little blurb in html to paste into your submission that will introduce the carnival. You will publish your post on March 12 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on March 12 by noon Eastern time, we will send out a finalized list of all the participants' links to generate lots of link love for your site! We'll include full instructions in the email we send before the posting date.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Homemade Butter at Anktangle


Here we are already, at the end of week three of the Six Ingredient Challenge! Remember to link up your responses to last week's writing prompt and read and reflect on the fourth writing prompt sometime before next Thursday. Even if you're joining in today, it's still not too late to sign up and participate!

Today at Anktangle, Amy shows us how simple it is to make another cooking staple: butter. Making homemade butter is easy and fun — a great project to involve your kids in the kitchen. Plus, you know exactly what goes into it, unlike many of the "butter-like" products you'll find in your grocery's dairy section.

Continue reading at Anktangle »

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New foods and recipes inspired by the #6IngredientChallenge

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: What new foods or recipes have you tried or discovered?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Next week's writing prompt is at the end of this post along with posting instructions.

To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!


My answer:

One thing that's been a plus during this challenge is how much we didn't have to replace. It's lovely to keep your comfort foods and feel like you're already taking a lot of strides to be healthy.

That said, it's been an adventure to try out new tastes, and here are a few of the ones we've discovered:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Valentine's fun

We don't usually make much of holidays, but I caught wind that Sam had gotten me something for Valentine's Day (five-year-olds are crap for secrets), so I decided to make a bit of effort. I'm glad I did, because we had fun!

scavenger hunt letter n magnet - valentine's day 2013
We started off the day with a scavenger hunt I'd prepared the night before.

scavenger hunt in sunflowers - valentine's day 2013
Sam had brought home sunflowers, perfect for hiding one of my clues.

blase boy holding gifts - valentine's day 2013
The treasure, le sigh. You know the ennui that overtakes you when you find a big pile of unexpected presents and then have to open them all? Yeah…like that. So sad.

so unimpressed with pile of presents - valentine's day 2013
It's a hard knock life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chewy Fruit & Nut Granola Bars at Anktangle


It's already week three of the Six Ingredient Challenge! Are you learning new recipes? Trying new foods? Amy and I want to hear all about it, so remember to read and reflect on the third writing prompt sometime before Thursday. Even if you're learning about our challenge for the first time today, it's not too late to sign up and follow along!

Today at Anktangle, Amy is sharing another great whole foods recipe, this one sure to satisfy even the most tenacious snack attack: chewy fruit and nut granola bars! These granola bars are rich in protein and high in fiber, so they'll fill you up with wholesome ingredients. Plus, unlike many of their store-bought counterparts, Amy's granola bars are completely free of refined sugars, gluten, soy, and corn!

Continue reading at Anktangle »

Monday, February 18, 2013

7 ways to turn sick days into fun days

7 ways to turn sick days into fun days with sick toddler babyOur sickness tally this month has risen. I finally caught the illness the boys had, and then we went on a trip with sniffly friends, and Alrik succumbed, again.

The good news is that having a minor cold doesn't have to mean being miserable. I'm pleased to be writing a
three-part series on the topic of sick days and kids for Children's Mucinex. My first post offered my go-to tips for helping your family survive cold and flu season, and this post and my next one will share some of the fun home activities we've indulged in while under self-imposed quarantine. The bonus to these activities? They make the kids feel better, too!

1. Snuggle and nurse

snuggle and nurse - baby on dad's lap

I have to admit, I eat up all the cuddling I get in when the kids are sick. There's nothing like a loving parent's lap and a gentle hug to make little ones feel secure and comforted — and it boosts my serotonin, too! Mikko's not always the cuddly sort, but during his recent bouts of illness, he would willingly crawl into my lap and even (gasp!) hold hands as we walked outside (something he wouldn't do even as a baby).

sick boy snuggling with mom at aquarium
On an ill-advised outing before the kids were well, Mikko climbed into my lap at the aquarium, all the limbs and heft of his five-year-old self curled into a little ball.
sick boys snuggling with mom at restaurant
We gave up on the aquarium and went to a restaurant. Only I ate — both boys just leaned against me (hard to wield utensils, but I tried…), and Alrik nursed. I love that the word "nursing" has a double meaning that's perfectly suited to seeing little ones through a minor illness: comforting supply of fluids along with Mama's antibodies!
sick toddler snuggling with dad
That's one sad baby, but at least he feels comfortable and loved!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Surf: Demand photos

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

These are demand photos. You know, the kind you take when your kids insist?
boy with arms outspread on floor of bouncy castle
This is Mikko posing dramatically on the floor of the bouncy castle.
Because of course that's how one poses in a bouncy castle.

smiling dad waving at restaurant
This next series is titled "Keeping Alrik Happy" because we kept taking pictures of
everyone at the table to show him the results.

smiling dad waving at restaurant
Hi, Alrik!

Let's get reading!


Friday, February 15, 2013

#6IngredientChallenge: How to make your own ricotta cheese


homemade ricotta cheese recipe

We're nearing the end of the second week of the six-week Six Ingredient Challenge! Amy and I posted our answers to the second week's writing prompt, and the linky there is still open for you to link up your posts about how the Six Ingredient Challenge is going. Remember to post your answers to the third prompt sometime before Thursday. Even if you didn't start the challenge with us on February 1, it's not too late to sign up and join in now!

Today I'm bringing you another guest post from Sam, our family's chef extraordinaire. He's sharing an easy recipe for making homemade ricotta soft cheese. Some cheeses have a lot of ingredients, but this one has only three — and it's simple for you and your kids to whip up at home and flavor to your liking.


Homemade ricotta cheese

homemade ricotta cheese recipe

Guest post by Crackerdog Sam

Making homemade ricotta cheese is extremely easy and fun. Traditionally, ricotta is made from the whey left over from other cheesemaking recipes (the word literally meaning "recooked"). This simpler version is great for making with kids, or for using up larger quantities of milk in your fridge that you think you won't finish before it goes bad.

The only ingredients you need are lemon juice, salt, and milk (whole milk yields more cheese, but you can also use 2%). Hint: Save the whey when you're done for a bread-making recipe coming shortly.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice (the juice from one large lemon)
  • 6 Cups whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt

Equipment:

  • large pot
  • kitchen thermometer
  • cheesecloth or strainer
  • large mixing bowl

Dietary/allergy notes:

Vegetarian, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free. Contains dairy!

Directions:

1. Pour milk into a large pot and turn the heat to medium-high.

milk in large pot - homemade ricotta cheese recipe

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How is the Six Ingredient Challenge going?

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: How is the Six Ingredient Challenge going for you so far?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Next week's writing prompt is at the end of this post along with posting instructions.

To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!


My answer:

I'm going to answer as if I'm back in time, one week into my first foray into the world of Six Ingredients. (I have a time machine, so this is totally legit.)

I've found that eating the Six Ingredients way is mostly just dandy, which is great. There are a lot of substitutes for things we used to eat that had more ingredients, and I really like the way we're cleaning up our food sources. I also love that Mikko's gotten into the program and understands that we're shopping a new way.

Downsides and challenges, though:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to bake healthier soft pretzels

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of Valentine's Day, we're sharing recipe ideas for "love foods" or foods to share with loved ones. 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.



plated - cooking homemade soft pretzels

This is one of Sam's recipes that makes Mikko very happy. He has no idea that these pretzels are made with half whole wheat flour, and, even though he usually makes us cut the crusts off bread, he doesn't seem to notice that pretzels are pretty much all crust.

Sam and I aren't eating grains anymore, but Mikko hasn't gotten the memo. I like that these have a healthy dose of whole wheat flour and not a lot of other questionable ingredients.

If you're following along with Anktangle's and my Six Ingredient Challenge, you'll be happy to know these pretzels weigh in at exactly six! (Remember you count out water and salt.) There's a tiny bit of sugar, but these make for a more whole-foods version of the type of pretzels you'd get at the mall for quadruple the price. Plus, you can choose how salty the final product is.

If you don't usually bake bread, this can be a fun challenge. The dough stretches out quite easily, and figuring out the knot is simple once you've done it twice. A beautiful handmade pretzel makes a lovely presentation for a special day or a special kid.


Guest post by Crackerdog Sam

Ingredients (for six pretzels):

dough:

  • 1 Cup plus 1 Tbsp room-temperature water
 (neither hot nor cold to the touch)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Cup unbleached white flour, pushed slightly against side of bag when measuring (5.4 oz)
  • 1 Cup white whole wheat flour, pushed slightly against side of bag when measuring (5.4 oz)

wash:

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Cup warm water
  • large-grain salt (kosher salt or rock salt)

equipment:


Dietary/allergy notes:

Vegan, vegetarian. Contains gluten.