Free Downloadable Book: The Organic Baby Food Guide

Erika Jones of Organic Baby Resource just came out with a FREE downloadable e-book: The Organic Baby Food Guide.  What a valuable tool for new parents . . . and you can’t beat the price!

Here’s what she has to say about it:

The Organic Baby Food Guide profiles 35 of the leading brands of baby food around the world so you don’t have to go out hunting for nutritious, organic options. Instead, we tell you where to find the foods in your area so you can comparison shop without leaving your home.

Just go here and you’ll find a link to get your own free guide!

Vegetarian Pregnancy, Vegetarian Baby

Is it possible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby on a vegetarian diet?  I have been a vegetarian for about twenty years and have lived to write about it on the Green Baby Guide.  Still, many people seem surprised that I’d continue living meat-free once I had a baby on the way.  Why do I do it?  Here are two reasons:

It’s cheap.  We are full-time vegetarians and rarely spend more than $150 a month on groceries for a couple and a toddler, allotting $60 to organic vegetables and the rest to whole grains, nuts, cheeses, and fruit.  A family our size would shell out $368 on the USDA’s “thrifty plan.”   Instead of relying on coupons and other cost-cutting tricks, we save by skipping the meat. 

I’m conserving resources.  Aside from my thriftiness (and childhood pickiness), I’d always told people I avoided meat “for the environment.”  I knew that eating lower on the food chain was more efficient, but didn’t look into it much further.  I was surprised to learn that livestock (and the grain to feed livestock) takes up a whopping thirty percent of our land’s surface, taking over what used to be wilderness and Amazon rainforests. [1]  Most of us are aware that cars are big polluters–livestock creates eighteen percent more greenhouse gasses than all of our transportation methods put together! 

What are your reasons for avoiding meat?  Did you have a vegetarian pregnancy?  Do you plan to raise your kids as vegetarians?  Raising my daughter vegetarian has worked for me (so far, anyway).  For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

[1] According to a 2006  report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

Yumm Sauce Recipe Imitation

First of all, if you don’t know what the amazing Yumm Sauce is, you’ll have to check last week’s post for details.  It is a magical liquid that makes young and old alike beg for bowls of brown rice and beans–seriously!

Now I like to support our local Cafe Yumm just because I believe in their business and want to contribute, but some of you live across the country and will never be able to experience the wonder of Yumm Sauce for yourselves.   Hence, the reason for today’s recipe imitation.

This recipe comes from the site Chick Chat, written by a local mom right here in Eugene.  I can take no credit whatsoever for the following recipe or its authenticity, but I hope it’s as delicious as the real thing!

Original Yumm Sauce:
1/2 cup oil (she recommends canola oil)
1/2 cup almonds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (available in bulk at health food stores)
1/3 cup garbanzo beans – drained (you can use a bit more)
1/4 cup soybeans (or use 1/2 cup silken tofu if needed)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder

Blend nuts, beans and oil in food processor. Then blend in yeast and liquids one at a time. Puree until smooth. Voila!

Although this sauce does contain nuts which can be an allergen for little ones, it’s otherwise a wonderfully safe and healthy food.  It’s free of eggs, wheat, gluten, and sugar.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about cholesterol since there are no animal based ingredients.  You can take Yumm Sauce beyond the rice bowl to use as a dressing, dip, soup topping, sandwich spread, or a meat marinade.  Enjoy!  (and thanks to Chick again for the recipe!)

Why is this a Thrifty Green Thursday post?  Because eating meatless meals saves you time, saves the planet and saves you money.  Plus, it’s great to get kids hooked on rice and beans since they provide a complete protein and are packed with fiber.  If you make the sauce yourself, you’ll have loads of family meals that cost just a few cents per serving!

For more eco-friendly, budget friendly tips, check below.  We love hearing from our contributors and seeing how our community comments on one another’s sites.  Feel free to join the carnival today just by reading the directions here.  Thanks for visiting us!

Café Yumm: Baby-Friendly, Budget-Friendly, Earth-Friendly Fast Food

It’s winter, it’s cold and let’s face it—grease and salt is mighty appealing.  But fast food is loaded with packaging, unhealthy ingredients, and expense.  So how can we avoid it despite our cravings?  Enjoy a hearty bowl of brown rice and beans with a signature sauce from Cafe Yumm.

Brown rice and beans, you say?  How can that possibly be marketed to my family?  Here’s the truth: My husband loves beef, pizza, potatoes fried in a variety of ways, and everything else that passes as fast food, but he loves Café Yumm even more.   My son breaks down crying (often!) begging for “beans and rice please!” 

So what is their magical formula?  It’s their sauce! (Which you can buy or even make at home.  Keep reading for more details!)  At Café Yumm they spoon steaming heaps of brown rice into bowls, layer them with black beans, salsa, cheese, avocados, olives and the most amazing sauce I have ever tasted.  It was actually developed by a mom who was trying to get her two-year-old to embrace healthy food.  After years of experimenting and serving her bowls to the general public, she ended up with a very successful chain of restaurants.   You can read more about her story here.

The Yumm Bowl is vegetarian and provides a complete protein since it includes beans and rice along with plenty of whole grains.  There are several varieties of sauces and combinations of ingredients on their menu, but you can bet that every one of them will be healthy and nourishing for your child. 

Not only do we visit Café Yumm, we also buy their bottles of Yumm Sauce to prepare these delicious meatless meals at home.  The sauce is a bit spendy at twelve bucks a bottle, but since the rest of the ingredients are so overwhelmingly cheap, it’s worth it.  One bottle provides us with 20-25 individual bowls, which ends up being a great value. 

If you’re looking for a Café Yumm in your area, check their website. They have restaurants in Beaverton, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, and Springfield. (All in Oregon.)   Stay tuned next week for a recipe which attempts to imitate the brilliance of real Yumm Sauce! 

Thanks for joining us week for Thrifty Green Thursday!  If you have an idea about how to save money and the planet, please read this page to see how to add your link below.  

A Recipe for Nutritious Brownies: Enjoy a Guilt-Free Valentines Treat

Chocolate and wheat germ?  Who knew they could be so good together!  When I was little, I savored the smell and taste of these yummy brownies and now I’m making them for my son.  They’re full of wholesome ingredients but they don’t taste like it!  The recipe is from a cookbook for parents entitled Feed Me, I’m Yours.

Nutritious Brownies:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup powdered milk
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup dry cocoa or 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

Mix together all ingredients except the dry milk, baking powder and dry cocoa.  (If using squares of chocolate, melt in a double boiler and add here.)  Sift the dry milk, baking powder and cocoa through a sieve into the other ingredients and stir well.  Spread in a very heavily greased 8×8″ pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Turn out of pan immediately and cut into bars while still warm.  

That last direction is VERY important!  If you don’t remove the brownies immediately from the pan and cut them they’ll get stuck together.  They’re wonderfully chewy and delicious, but they do solidify if you don’t remove them from the pan and cut right away.  Mmmm..  I’m off to go make a batch of my own!

The Saturday Question: What was baby’s first food?

Many pediatricians recommend rice cereal as a standby, but conflicting information is emerging about making homemade porridge or feeding baby pureed avocados.  What did you first feed your little one and how was it received?  Did you get lots of advice from friends and family?  What seemed to work best?  Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

The Saturday Question: Did You Use Organic Baby Food?

While most families want to feed their baby organic baby food, cost can sometimes be a barrier.  Did you splurge on organic meals for baby?  Did you find a way to offset the cost by making your own organic purees or harvesting produce from a family garden?  If you did buy prepared organic baby food, where did you find the best deals and the best quality? Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us this weekend!

Saving Money on Holiday Groceries

My life has become a bit easier this year with the addition of a freezer and makeshift pantry in our garage.  What a difference!  I’ve cut my grocery shopping trips down to one or two per month and been able to stock up on sale foods at peak times.  Our membership to a CSA fills in the fresh food gaps with local organic produce each week.

Since my state of mind has shifted toward stocking up, I realize that now is a great time to purchase sale priced products that will last for months.  After studying a few grocery store flyers, I’ve found myself stocking up on the following items:

Baking supplies: It’s a great time to load up on flour, spices (although they are cheaper and eco-friendlier if you can get them in bulk) , and chocolate chips.  Even baking sheets and pie pans are available at a discount over the next month or so.

Turkey and Tofurky: Both of these items can be purchased at fabulous prices at this time of year,frozen, and used later in the winter.  According to Turtle Island Foods, makers of the tofu-based tofurky roast, it can be frozen for up to a year before being used.  Trader Joes has some excellent prices on natural turkeys and  a few local grocers even have free range birds at great discounts.

Seasonal produce: Squash, sweet potatoes, onions and apples are all on sale now and can be stored for months in a cool, dry location.  If you store them separately (so that they aren’t touching one another) they’ll last much longer.  Also look for cans of organic pumpkin and jars of applesauce which both work as cheap organic baby food too!  

What are your grocery shopping tips for holiday savings?  Have you already purchased your groceries for the big meal next week?  Are you in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year or can you happily just show up with an adorable baby at someone else’s table?  For your sake, I heartily hope it’s the latter.   

Thanks for joining us this week for Thrifty Green Thursday.  If you have a simple tip for saving the planet and a few bucks, please click here to jump right in.  We’d love to have you! 

Don’t forget to post a comment before Friday for a chance to win a Natural Pod organic t-shirt or onesie!

Brown Rice Protein Powder Boosts Nutrition in Baby Food

Back when I wrote my Fattening Baby, Naturally post, I was searching for alternatives to Pediasure.   Although Audrey’s pediatrician wanted her to drink Pediasure in order to gain some weight, I hesitated giving her something with non-organic dairy products, artificial flavors, sugar, and maltodextrin.  I ended up doing all sorts of things to boost the calories and fat in her diet, and I also made a discovery: MLO brown rice protein powder.

A 24-oz container of the powder costs about $10.  I found it in the health food section of my local grocery store.  It’s gluten-free, vegan, and contains two simple ingredients: rice protein concentrate and rice bran.  As rice is often a first food for babies, it seemed like the perfect thing to add to her food without bombarding her with unnatural or unhealthful ingredients.

Two rounded tablespoons contain 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 15 grams of protein, as well as some calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.  Back when I spoon-fed Audrey, I usually just put a tablespoon in her daily allotment of oatmeal.  Recently I added some to some popsicles I made out of oranges and bananas.  The back of the box has a smoothie recipe, but I find it too gritty for smoothies.

Now, I’ll issue the standard disclaimer that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist.  I’m just a mother who wanted to find some natural ways to plump my baby up–and this brown rice powder ended up being a great little discovery.  For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Organic Formulas–Worth the Price?

We’ve written a bit about breastfeeding and introducing cow’s milk, but what about infant formulas?  If you chose to feed your baby formula, how did you pick the brand?  Did you go with conventional formula or decide on an organic formula?

With so many organic products on store shelves, I was surprised to find very few organic formulas on the market:

Nature’s One Baby’s Only Organic Formula ($8.99 for 12.7 oz container–$.71/oz.) Note: This product claims to be a “toddler formula” and is not recommended for babies under twelve months old.

Earth’s Best Organic Formula ($14.95 for 13.2 oz container–$1.13/oz.)

Similac Organic Formula ($29.99 for 25.7 oz container–$1.17/oz.)

Bright Beginnings Organic Formula($149.95 for six 25.7 oz containers–$.97/oz.) Note: This brand appears to be available only online by the case.

There’s no doubt organic formula costs more than conventional formula.  A 12.9 oz. can of regular Similac costs $14.99 at Walgreens ($.86/oz.), and if you buy generic brands, it’s even cheaper.  Is it worth it to pay more for  formula that isn’t made with pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals?  If you, our readers, have had any experience with these or other organic formulas, please post a comment and let us know what you think!