Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Symptoms

41 Weeks Pregnant with Franci

41 Weeks Pregnant with Franci

After experiencing a few weeks of relief from pregnancy symptoms, I’ve started up a whole new round. Since I try to avoid all medication while pregnant (foregoing even “safe” medications like Tylenol and Claritin), I’ve been trying out a few natural remedies for what ails me. Always consult your doctor before starting any natural remedies, just to be sure they are safe for your pregnancy.

  • I wrote about consuming ginger to help with morning sickness and nausea. It turns out that ginger is also good for gas and joint pain (my current complaint) caused by relaxin.
  • Another natural remedy for joint pain is turmeric. You can brew it into tea, add it to smoothies or coconut water, or take it in capsule form.
  • To help keep my energy up, I’ve been consuming plenty of iron-rich foods. I try to eat red meat regularly and eat beans and eggs on days in between. For lunch, or an afternoon snack, I’ll have a spinach salad or spanikopita (spinach pie).
  • Magnesium has been shown to reduce the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome, which has been a problem in both of my pregnancies. The recommendation for pregnant women is to consume 350mg daily. Luckily, it is also found in spinach and beans. But when I’m having a bad RLS day, a supplement is a good choice. Better yet, Natural Calm is fast acting in case the RLS is keeping me up at night.
  • One last natural remedy I keep on hand is Chlorophyll. It provides more oxygen to the cells, which can help alleviate dizziness and boosts energy. As an added bonus, it is an internal deodorizer. Try the breath freshening liquid or the gel caps.

What are your favorite natural remedies for pregnancy symptoms?


A Good Reference

Last month when Franci came down with her first illness ever, we tried to stay calm about it. Since she’s not a newborn, or even an infant any more, we weren’t too worried. Still, like all medical “emergencies”, it didn’t get bad until late at night on a weekend (have you ever noticed that things never get bad when it’s actually office hours?).

While we were contemplating the necessity of heading to the ER, I remembered I had a copy of The A to Z of Children’s Health: A Parent’s Guide from Birth to 10 Years sitting on my shelf. Since she hadn’t been sick before, I hadn’t had the need to check it out until that night. It proved to be a valuable resource that assuaged our fears and gave us good indicators to watch for. We were able to quickly formulate a plan based on the information provided about fevers.

Having a sick kid is not only un-fun, but scary. I realized, after consulting The A to Z of Children’s Health, that it’s a good idea to come up with a plan before things get serious.  With the book’s help, we came up with “red flags” that would mean it was time to seek medical attention.  In this case, we watched for her rashes, checked that her temperature did not exceed 104F, made sure she would drink water when prompted, had no difficulty breathing, and that she continued to interact with us and her environment and did not become unresponsive. Armed with this list of things to look for, we felt empowered and less worried.

The A to Z of Children’s Health actually covers all health topics from A (abdominal pain) to Y (yeast infections), but who’s counting. There are tons of color photographs that accompany each entry, and most have “red flag” warnings that help you figure out if it’s time to see a professional.

This is by no means an alternative medicine type book, but for general information about what ails your kids, I recommend it.

Stockpiling Redux

Let's get cooking!

Let’s get cooking!

We bought an upright freezer during my first pregnancy so I could prepare a bunch of meals ahead of time.  By the time Frances was born, we had 100 dinners and at least as many lunches stashed away.  Just over a year later, we finally finished them off.  

In retrospect, it was actually more helpful the older Franci got. When she was a newborn, I could just strap her to my back and cook away. It wasn’t until she got more active, and I went back to work, that the freezer meals really came in handy.

Now that I’m just over half way through the next pregnancy, it’s time to get down to the business of filling the freezer up again. If I thought it was nice to have prepared food at hand when we had one kid, how about when we have two!

If you’re wondering my secret to having enough pans to hold all the meals, I do have a trick up my sleeve. I line each pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray before filling it up. Once the dish is frozen, I use the parchment handles to pop out the meal. Next, I peal off the parchment and slip the meal into a food saver bag. I vacuum and seal it, and the meal is ready to store in the freezer for up to 2 years! Then I put the greased parchment back in the pan, and fill it up again for another round. I usually fill 4 pans at a time, so it can take two or three days to get the whole batch frozen.

Some of the meals I made were more popular than others, so I’d like to make a bigger variety this time. Maybe a dozen different meals instead of 8. Here’s what I’m planning to make: Chile Verde, Shepard’s Pie, Pasta Sauce, Black Bean Soup, Tortilla Soup, Lasagna, and Chicken Pot Pie. As you can see, I’m short a few ideas.

What’s your favorite meal to make ahead and freeze?

Celebrating a Green 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July! Whether you are at home or with friends, here are some green ideas to help you celebrate:

Have a picnic: Pack up some sandwiches and finger foods, grab a blanket and find a nice spot in the shade. You don’t have to travel farther than your backyard, if you want to avoid holiday traffic. The best part is that you don’t have to turn on your stove or oven.

Make your own giant soap bubbles: The general consensus is that Dawn dish soap is the best, and don’t forget the secret ingredient: glycerin.

Enjoy homemade popsicles: If you don’t have popsicle molds, just use a dixi cup! For an extra-patriotic treat, try these Red, White and Blue Creamsicles.

Have a watermelon seed fight: Be sure to buy a seeded watermelon, so you have some ammo. Pinch the watermelon seed between your thumb and index finger, aim, and squeeze. With a little practice, you’ll be hitting your mark in no time.

Cool off in a kiddie pool or sprinkler: Or if you’re feeling fancy, a Slip N Slide

Have a backyard movie night: Pop some popcorn and get out the blankets!

What activities do you have planned for Independence Day?

Sick Babies, Sick Parents

Where's MY soup?

Where’s MY soup?

I was prepared for our normal routine to get tossed aside while Frances was sick, but I wasn’t prepared for how disruptive it is to be a sick parent.

Franci spent a week with a high fever and another 5 days convalescing. She had little appetite and no energy, so we spent her few waking hours snuggling on the couch and trying desperately to find food she would eat. I tried everything, even resorting to ice cream (which despite loving on a normal basis, wouldn’t touch while sick). Since she was sick, I felt no guilt plying her with processed foods and fruit juice. I held her when she was fussy and indulged her every whim. After all, I believe in coddling sick members of my family.

After she started to feel better, I’m the one who took a turn for the worst. Our daily schedule broke down even more than when she was sick. For example, Franci doesn’t get to eat between mealtimes but while I was sick she got a cracker every time she started to bother me. Anything to keep her quiet while I moaned and rocked and ran to the bathroom.

I had no energy to try out 10 different healthy foods until I found one she would eat instead of spitting out or tossing on the floor. So once again I plied her with processed food in various shades of white (minus the ice cream). TV was watched in abundance and, at one desperate moment, she even got to hold my phone.

Whatever guilt I didn’t feel while babying my sick baby returned tenfold as I let her run wild during my own illness. We maintain a fairly strict order around here, but how does one manage when sick? More importantly, how am I supposed to deal with it once I’m out numbered??

How do you maintain household order, and your own sanity, when sickness hits your home? Do you call in reinforcements? Let it run its course and hope it doesn’t take too long to return to normal? Or do you have a contingency system in place?

Recipe: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Puffs

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Puffs

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Puffs

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Baby Puff recipe that was pretty filling. It also required a bit of chewing (with gums at least, teeth not required).  In fact, they were really more snacks than they were your traditional puff.

Sometimes you want a snack that isn’t going to ruin your baby’s dinner. Or maybe you want a puff that melts in your mouth like the store-bought puffs. Here’s a recipe that will dissolve in your mouth and not fill you up:




Melty Puffs (adapted from Mommy-Opinion)

  • 2 C multi-grain baby cereal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 C apple sauce
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Optional additions: 1 tbs Berry Superfood Powder, 1 tbs cocoa powder, or 2 tbs nutella or cookie butter

Mix all ingredients together to form a dough.  One handful at a time, roll dough into long, pencil sized ropes and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Bake at 325F until they begin to brown.  They will be soft, not dried out.

Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for longer.

*Try not to eat all of these yourself and save some for baby!

Product Review: Kiddie Pool

Fun in the Sun!

Fun in the Sun!

Summer arrived a little early this year and the temperature has been way above the historic average for our area. I’m glad I remembered to buy a kiddie pool this year before they all sold out!

If you haven’t spent $10 on your molded kiddie pool yet this year, I highly recommend heading down to the nearest big box store and dropping that tenner before it’s too late. The last thing you want is for the 4th of July to come around and not have a pool for the kids (and dogs) to cool off in!

Granted, you will always be able to find an inflatable pool, but one sharp rock and the fun is over. Not to mention this kind of pool is not even an option for families with dogs.

If you have a lot of children or a cheap water supply, you can always get a Snapset pool. You have to keep it pretty full to keep the sides from collapsing, but it folds up nice and small when the season is over. Ours has held up to our dog’s explorations, but other reviewers weren’t so lucky. Still, if you are looking for a large-size kiddie pool that is easy to store, a Snapset pool is a good choice.

If you want a luxury molded kiddie pool complete with seats, an umbrella and a water wheel, spring for the Step2 Play and Shade Pool. The materials are higher quality than your standard molded kiddie pool and it sports its own shade, but you can buy 7 cheapo pools for the price of this Cadillac.

We bought our molded kiddie pool for $8 in the garden section of our local big box store, and it’s a big hit with Frances. Although she has to be supervised, lounging next to the pool reading a book is a pretty nice way to spend an hour!

Dealing with Tantrums

The Many Faces of Tantrums

The many faces of tantrums

About two months ago Frances started throwing tantrums.  They are your garden-variety tantrums that occur when you try and change her diaper or take away something she wants to play with that is off limits (like a phone or pill bottle) or offer her food she doesn’t like.

While it may be possible to reduce certain triggers, like baby-proofing tempting cupboards or only offering her food she likes, leaving her in a dirty diaper is not an option. Plus, I believe it’s a bad habit to give into her every whim, so sometimes she just has to put up with not being picked up as I finish my blog post.

Understanding that her tantrums are a result of not being able to communicate and being frustrated, tired or hungry doesn’t make dealing with them any more fun. The only thing we can do is whether the storm and not get too frustrated ourselves.

I think the hardest trap to avoid falling into is not using punishments or rewards. It’s not fair to take away something just because Franci is too young to communicate. And I don’t want to get in the habit of bribing her for good behavior. Especially since she probably doesn’t understand that concept yet any way.

For me, the worst part about tantrums at this age are knowing that she is so desperate to be understood, but just can’t figure out how to communicate. The emotions she is experiencing, like pain from teething, are hard to verbalize. I can show her the sign for pain a million times, but I don’t think she understands what pain is.

In an effort to get past this phase (that will inevitably last several years) I am turning to the internet for advice. BabyZone had a good primer on tantrums, and Baby Centre had some good tips, but the best advice comes from parents who have gone through the same thing. Of course, I have to wade through a bunch of less useful comments to find the gems.

What tricks did you use to get through your child’s tantrums? I’ll try anything!

Recipe: Homemade Baby Puffs

Confetti Size vs. Hand-rolled Size

Confetti Size vs. Hand-rolled Size

Frances started daycare this week and she will be there for lunchtime. The kids have to feed themselves, so I’ve been trying out different finger foods for the last month. It is not going well. Aside from fruit and cheese, everything else gets handed back to me: chicken, pork, tofu, vegetables. Basically, anything good for her that isn’t sweet.

I’d like to send her with something more substantial than just fruit, and more exciting than puffed grains (which she starts to throw like confetti when she’s bored of it). I’m not a big fan of store-bought baby-puffs, even the good kind. They are made using a process called extrusion that destroys most of the nutrients, and contain preservatives and fillers like white rice.  Plus, they’re more of a snack than a meal and I wanted something that would fill her up, if necessary.

So I set about finding a recipe for homemade puffs that would be filling, nutritious and tasty. After a little adaptation, here’s what I came up with.  They happen to be gluten-free and paleo, if you’re into that:

Coconut Bites (adapted from Coconut Mama)

Combine all ingredients and mix to form a dough. One handful of dough at a time, smush into a long rope about as thick as your pinky (or smaller). Cut into bite-sized pieces and scatter on a baking sheet. If you want tiny little puffs, use a clean Play Doh Confetti Maker like I did.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, tossing half way through to redistribute, until they begin to brown.  Turn off oven and let puffs sit in oven 5-10 minutes until they have dried out.

Franci loves to put a couple of these in her mouth, get them all soggy and then swallow. If she sees a jar of them on the table, she won’t eat anything else, so beware!

Creative Feeding Ideas

Pureed vegtables, dried to a crisp!

Pureed vegtables, dried to a crisp!

About a month ago, Franci decided she had had enough of my super-purees. This was, of course, after I had made a fresh batch of each variety (chicken, lamb, fish and vegetarian). Now I have a couple months worth of frozen baby food that she will hardly touch. One or two bites at a sitting is all she will put up with.

I hate to waste food, but I’m not willing to eat it myself. (I can’t believe she even ate them to begin with). Rather than toss it in the trash, I’ve been exercising my creativity trying to come up with ways to sneak the food into Franci’s mouth.

I have tried a lot of different flavorings, like curry paste, marinara sauce, bbq sauce and even teriyaki sauce. None of these were a hit. I tried vinegar, salad dressing and coconut. Still no home runs.

It turns out there is no magic flavor that peaks her interest, but I’ve narrowed down a few that almost always work (although some days she refuses even these). If I dip the puree in salsa one bite at a time, she will eat a whole bowl of it. The spicier the salsa, the more she likes it. On days she won’t eat the salsa version, I dip the spoonfuls in greek yogurt. The trick is to dip the spoonfuls instead of mixing the flavor in.

Another success resulted from desperation. I had tried diluting the puree with butternut squash, a finger food that she will sometimes eat. She was having none of it. The salsa trick wasn’t working, and we were out of yogurt. Since the puree was already thawed and I didn’t want it to go to waste, I spread it out in a thin layer on a lined baking sheet and put it in the toaster oven on 300F. “Who knows?”, I thought, “Maybe she will eat it if it’s crispy.” Yes, yes she will. So instead of snacking on puffs and granola, sometimes she snacks on nutrient packed “veggie crisps”.

I know that our food journey is long from over, and I would love to have a few more tricks up my sleeve.

What creative food successes (or failures) have you tried?

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