Green and Clean Mom reveals that baby carrots are dipped in bleach to prevent those pesky white spots. It looks like switching over to full-size carrots might be the way to go.
Also at Green and Clean Mom, I found a discussion about paying for trash: how do you pay for it? If trash pick-up is paid by taxpayers, there is not much incentive for people to recycle or reduce the amount they toss each week. Some people have to pay extra for recycling–yet pay very little for up to four bags of trash a week! I guess I am a bit of a stickler about this issue. I think the system should be set up so that recycling and community composting is mandatory and people have to pay for how much heads to a landfill.
This whole garbage discussion originated over at Enviromom, who issued a One Can a Month challenge last July. Even if your city offers no incentives for reducing the amount of trash throw away, you can still find ways to reduce the amount you consume. Enviromom has several ideas for cutting down the amount of garbage you generate, room by room.
And speaking of Enviromom, The Green Baby Guide was proud to be featured along with this great Portland-based website in the special baby issue of Metro Parent. You can read it online–we’re in the article called “Growing a ‘Green’ Baby.”
Despite my claim to hate buying in bulk, I was intrigued by Call Her Blessed’s post about making a HUGE vat of salsa. She divides it up into dozens of jars and keeps it in her fridge for months. You could also can the salsa, but she says this changes the flavor a bit. I am now inspired to whip up a cauldron of salsa of my own!
Maybe Joy’s Thrifty Green Thursday “Using a Pantry to Save Time, Money, and the Planet” post has influenced me just a bit, because I found myself reading Happy to Be at Home‘s Freezer Cooking 101 tutorial with interest. Very strange, considering my twin dislikes of bulk buying and thawed out food. (I discussed this a bit in my Eco-friendly and Budget-friendly Alternatives to Takeout post.)
Please let me know what you think about any one of these issues by posting a comment!
I like to make these pumpkin bars in the fall because they seem a bit more nutritious than normal cookies yet still taste delicious. These soft pumpkin bars have just four tablespoons of butter and ¾ cups sugar–you’d need two sticks of butter (16 TBS) and 1 ½ cups sugar for a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Plus, these contain a vegetable! I’ve made them with different winter squashes and even carrots, with good results.
1 ¾ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
4 TBS butter
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cups pumpkin puree (home-cooked or canned)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan.
Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, beat in the applesauce and pumpkin until well-mixed. Add the dry ingredients and combine well.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.
To make this recipe relevant to the Green Baby Guide, I would like to note that if you puree your own pumpkin, little waste will be produced in the creation of this treat. Also, babies will like them.
Before my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding for all the usual reasons: breast milk is nutritionally perfect for a newborn and helps promote bonding between mother and child. I’ve got to admit, though, that a big motivation was the idea that it was free! For that reason alone, I’m glad that breastfeeding ended up working out for us.
A couple days ago I became aware of something I’d never thought about before: the hidden costs of breastfeeding. Now, breastfeeding is generally much cheaper than formula, which can set parents back $1000 to $2300 in baby’s first year–but it isn’t exactly free. Working mothers may need to pay for a breast pump and bottles out of pocket if insurance doesn’t cover it, which can cost hundreds of dollars. My hospital had lactation consultants that were paid for by the county, but some women spend upwards of $1000 for lactation consultants if they’re having trouble with their supply or the baby’s latch.
Then there’s the food. A breastfeeding woman needs to add 500 calories to her diet to keep up a good supply. How much do 500 calories cost? Well, a huge five-ounce serving of plain pasta costs $.31. At about $1 a pound, that’s one of the cheapest foods around. If you supplement your diet with 500 calories of pasta every day for a year, you’ll pay $114 more on food that year. Not bad–except who wants to eat that much pasta? (Me. Maybe.) Adding 500 calories of lean proteins and organic vegetables to your diet will end up costing much more.
I know exactly how I got those extra calories while I was breastfeeding: lattes and pastries. Practically every day I would stroll on down to the coffee shop for a coffee drink made with whole milk and some little treat to tide me over. While I should have been eating salads and whole grains, I craved carbs, sugar, and butter! Moreover, I craved the little bit of social interaction my coffee shop jaunts provided. Okay, so let’s say I spent an average of $3 a day on coffee and pastries–that’s $1095 on food I needed to nurse my baby. The amount is staggering, especially considering how proud I was to spend under $800 on baby gear, including diapering costs!
So what are some ways to defray the hidden costs of breastfeeding? Here are some ideas:
1. Check with your insurance company to see what kinds of benefits you may be eligible for as a nursing mother. Also, look around for free breastfeeding resources. Kelly Mom has great information online, and La Leche League holds meetings all over the world.
2. Ask your hospital or birthing center if they rent breast pumps, which may be cheaper than buying one yourself. Joy borrowed an electric pump from family members and bought her own tubing.
3. As for the added calories you’ll need as a nursing mother, just being mindful of the extra expense can help you budget for the food and nutrients you need. I could have easily baked my own treats and limited my coffee shop expenditures. Even better, I could have tried to keep more cheap and nutritious snacks around (like wholegrain toast, carrot sticks, or homemade muffins) so I didn’t resort to pastries in the first place.
Now that I’m aware of the hidden costs of breastfeeding, I feel fortunate for the nursing support I received as a new mom. Also, I can’t really complain about needing to eat an extra 500 calories a day. Ah, how I miss the days of lattes and pastries!
Blackberries ripen in the August sun, cherries plop onto neighbors’ lawns, and squash crops overwhelm backyard gardeners. There is nothing I love more than taking advantage of summer’s opportunities for hand-picked fruit—especially when it’s free, organic, and grown locally.
Here are my favorite food finding tips:
Wild berries: Blackberries seem to be a national favorite but huckleberries, salmon berries, and thimbleberries are just a few of the other choices available here in Oregon. I usually call our city maintenance department to check about which areas are being sprayed, ask about berry hot spots, and end up picking loads of free organic berries! I slather my clan up with sunscreen and scramble out the door in the morning hours before the sun zaps our enthusiasm. Then we freeze the berries or make them into jam to last through the winter months.
Fruit trees: My goal is to load up with fruit from a neglected apple tree this year. When I see a tree with rotten fruit under it, I shall screw up my courage, knock on the door and ask if I can pick some. (My son’s charm might help.) Even if the homeowner wants to use the fruit, chances are he or she will reach a point of saturation with fresh cherries/apples/pears. Also, here in Oregon, we have the Portland Fruit Tree Project, which helps save urban fruit from rotting away on city sidewalks. You can check out their website to donate to their cause or to join a local harvesting party. A large portion of the fruit they save goes to vulnerable people who need healthy, organic food. In other areas, try to call city maintenance to see where city-owned fruit trees are located.
Tomatoes, zucchini, squash and other garden faire: Although it’s wonderful to grow a prolific garden, slogging through twenty pounds of summer squash in a few weeks is no easy task. On the first days of September, my fellow teachers often leave heaping boxes of squash, tomatoes and zucchini in our staff room for the taking. It’s worth it to let your friends and family know that you’ll welcome their garden overflows and then sit back and enjoy the unique flavor of a homegrown food. You may be inspired to grow your own garden next year!
Damaged fruit: According to Parade Magazine, grocery stores toss an estimated $20 billion worth of food annually. While it might be tough to get large chain stores to offer you a discount on imperfect produce, independent grocery stores sometimes have a damaged fruit and veggie section. If not, ask the manager if you can get produce for free or for a discounted rate when it needs to be removed from store shelves for disposal. You can always cut away the bad sections and use the rest to make soups or sauces.
By picking the food yourself or saving it from the grocery store dumpster, you’ll be cutting your costs and ensuring that local food doesn’t go to waste. Instead of buying kiwis from Chile next January, you can happily pull those local blackberries out of the freezer for a low-emissions, no-cost treat!
Every week the Green Baby Guide will be hosting the Thrifty Green Thursday Blog Carnival. If you have a blog and some thrifty green ideas of your own, please join us! See this post for details.
Oats were one of Audrey’s first favorite foods. I’ve written a few times about the porridge I made for her as a little baby when I needed to fatten her up. Once she was about fifteen months old, I started making her normal oatmeal for breakfast. She has astounded me with her capacity for oatmeal. Today I gave her a full adult serving (1 cup cooked) and she ate the entire bowl! Normally, though, I will cook ¾ cups of dry oats for us both. That will yield about a cup of cooked oats for me and a half cup for her.
So what is thrifty and green about our breakfast? I buy oats in the bulk section. Organic oats cost about $1.00/lb. I can sometimes find conventional oats for $.50/lb. on sale. That means our ¾ cup (2.25 ounces, according to my scale) of organic oats cost just fourteen cents! I add some dried apricots and a little brown sugar, which boost up the price, but oats still end up being much cheaper than most other breakfasts. And, by resisting convenience foods such as instant oatmeal packs, freezer waffles, or toaster pastries, we’re avoiding wasteful packaging.
Oats for Two
¾ cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 ½ cup water
Four or five dried apricots, cut into pieces
Put the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and zap for two minutes*. Stir. Cook for 1.5 minutes longer and stir again. Spoon a portion of the oats into a smaller bowl for the baby. Top with brown sugar and eat!
*Note: our microwave is not very strong. Cooking times will vary depending on your microwave. You can also cook the oats on a stovetop, of course.
For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer. Bon appétit!
Joy’s popsicle post provided me with a burst of inspiration: Could I sneak vegetables into my daughter’s diet by disguising them in a tasty frozen treat? The answer is yes. Here’s my groundbreaking recipe:
Pint of very ripe strawberries (overripe is okay)
2-3 cups of carefully washed spinach leaves
1 TBS honey (or more, to taste)
Place the strawberries in the blender and fill the remainder of the blender with spinach leaves. Add honey and puree until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. (Yields 2 cups liquid)
I invented this recipe and gave the strange-looking brown popsicle to my daughter. She took one lick and said, “Yum, yum!” Then she ate the whole thing, making quite a mess in the process. Of course I sampled this brown concoction myself. It really does not taste of spinach at all-it’s just pleasantly strawberry-flavored.
Now, I know that disguising vegetables in other foods is controversial. When Jessica Seinfeld’s book Deceptively Delicious came out, I read reviews from critics who claimed that lying to children about what they were eating would result in bitterness and mistrust in their parents as they grew older and wiser. This seems a little far-fetched to me. Besides, I did not lie to Audrey; I just handed her a popsicle and she ate it. I hope she grows to love normally-prepared vegetables very soon, but in the meantime, I’m glad I found a way to sneak some greens into her summer confections.
This week’s Works for Me Wednesday is all about easy recipes that use five ingredients or less, so head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more simple cooking ideas.
The sun’s out, your baby’s teething and it’s time for a soothing summer treat. So, how exactly do you concoct the perfect popsicle?
Popsicle molds: There are several plastic molds on the market (I have to confess that I own a set), but there are other options available around your home. You can make mini-pops with icicle trays or individual used yogurt cups. Crate and Barrel made BPA-free popsicle molds earlier this year but they appear to have been discontinued. I’ve written to our friends at The Soft Landing about their safest choice for popsicle molds and will keep you posted on their response. If you prefer to avoid plastic altogether, you can use paper cups, carefully washing them out and reusing them each time. You can also try small juice glasses, ensuring that you gradually cool the glass so that it doesn’t crack with extreme temperature change.
The perfect recipe: Growing up, my mom made homemade popsicles out of fruit juice, but they were always extremely dense. We longed for those soft store-bought brands that seemed to melt in your mouth. If you’d like to get that texture at home, try blending in whole fruit or yogurt. The thicker mix will also make it easier for your popsicle sticks to stand up if you’re using ice cube trays or cups. If you’re up for using gelatin, (which vegetarians might not be) it will create a softer popsicle that doesn’t melt quite as quickly.
Natural Dripless Popsicles: These are a great way to recycle half eaten fruits and get healthy food into your child. Pictured is the momentous day that that I served Roscoe his first dripless popsicles. He ate four in a row in one sitting. When I asked him what he would dream about right before bedtime he said “sicles.” Luckily there was no reason to feel bad about his popsicle obsession since I used organic plums, my son’s half eaten bananas(tossed into the freezer over the last few weeks) and a bag of organic frozen blueberries. He loved them even though he’s usually picky about eating any of these fruits by themselves.
Heat water, gelatin and sugar in saucepan over low heat until gelatin dissolves, for about 5 minutes. Then toss gelatin mixture in the blender with fruit and puree. Pour the mixture into cups and wait until frozen. Enjoy!
A chocolate dream: I found a recipe for Berry Fudgy-cicles on vegan-food.net. and modified it just a bit. Honestly, these are completely amazing and taste way better than anything this healthy should. The secret ingredient for these homemade fudgesicles is silken tofu which provides them with plenty of nutritional prestige. I’m not sure if this treat will be more exciting for my son or for me!
Toss the following ingredients in a blender, puree, pour into molds, and freeze.
Baby-sized options: If baby is too little to handle her own popsicle stick, consider using one of the products that use a tiny mesh bag. You can put frozen fruit chunks or ice in the mesh and then let her gnaw away to her heart’s content. This link shows Muchkin’s Fresh Food Feeder (which is BPA-Free according to their website), but you can usually find one of these in a local store if it’s easier than ordering online.
What are your ideas for summer treats? Please add your exotic recipes to our post!
When I was still pumping at work and crawling out of bed for nighttime feedings, I clung to the dream of weaning at one year. Although I loved my amazing ability to create food for my infant without a second thought, there were times where I longed for freedom.
It came as a surprise to me that I wasn’t ready to give up breastfeeding after my son’s first birthday. Luckily, the decision to continue had many benefits for my son, for the environment, and for my own health.
For baby’s health:
For the mother’s health:
For the environment:
Roscoe started to wean at 20 months and is now finished breastfeeding, but I have to say that I really do miss it. If I was a stay-at-home mom I would probably have gone a bit longer, but Roscoe was starting to want less and less so we just followed his lead. For more detailed information on why extended breastfeeding is such a great option, check out this article from Mothering magazine.
I’ve recently realized that the foods that thrive right here in my local community gardens have somehow become more exotic to most families (including mine, until recently) than mainstream items like oranges or bananas. My grandparents generation regularly ate homegrown cabbage or beets, but today these are somewhat of a culinary rarity in many households.
Our family’s vegetable vocabulary was much smaller until just a few months ago. Since joining a CSA, I’m humbled by just how ignorant I was about the range of produce available. We ate the same ten types of veggies most of the time and rarely tried anything outside our repertoire. Then we got a rutabaga.
Of course, I had no clue what this alien veggie was even called until I looked it up on our CSA website. Previously, I had only used rutabaga as a nickname for my infant, but I had no idea how to prepare it.
After looking in the Joy of Cooking for a simple recipe, I found that it was easier than I imagined. I peeled, sliced, and sautéed the rutabaga with a bit of red wine vinegar, a few herbs and some salt. The result was incredible! The rutabaga flesh was buttery and smooth, with a taste that my toddler loved.
After that first success, I’ve learned that there are so many simple ways to prepare the veggies outside my comfort zone. I’ve thrown red cabbage, kale, leeks, and potatoes into frittatas and stir fries with great success. There’s really no recipe required! Just chop veggies, sauté them and season for stir fry or toss in eggs and cheese for frittatas.
My best adventure was making homemade pizza with sausage, leeks, and red chard. It was a great success and everyone loved the veggies I slipped in! So, if you’re wanting your toddler to develop a healthy palate, you can take the lead by throwing some unique produce in your cart or planting them in your raised beds. Enjoy!
As soon as my daughter turned one, I wanted to introduce her to whole milk. Like many other parents, I wanted her to have hormone-free milk, so that meant paying more and buying organic. Right? I like to save money, but organic milk costs a lot more than conventional milk–sometimes up to twice as much. There was also something else I wondered about: all the organic milk I found on the shelves came from other states–some as far as Ohio! Part of the reason I tried to buy organic foods was that I wanted to help the environment, but buying something that needed to be ultra-pasteurized and taken on a thousand-mile road trip wouldn’t be any better for planet Earth than buying conventional milk from a local dairy. In fact, it would probably be worse.
Ideally, I’d be able to find milk that was both organic and local. At the time, this was not an option. I had to choose, and I ended up deciding that supporting a local, non-organic dairy was a better choice than buying organic milk that came from far away, considering my local dairy did not use hormones. Plus, at under $3 a gallon, it was more affordable than many of the other brands on the supermarket shelves. Now, just one year later, Alpenrose dairy has gone organic, so it’s possible to have local organic milk here in Portland.
Of course, not everyone plans to introduce cow’s milk to baby’s diet. Joy’s son, Roscoe, has some food allergies and intolerances. She continued to breast feed him after a year and offered him soymilk as an additional beverage. Now that he’s older, he can tolerate cow’s milk, which Joy buys from an organic dairy. Because Audrey is so small, I was glad she took to whole milk, which comes packed with vitamins, fat, and calories. (Read my “Fattening Baby, Naturally” post for more baby-fattening ideas.) Although cow’s milk is not an environmentally or nutritionally perfect food, I opted to introduce it to my baby’s diet over alternatives such as soy or almond milk.
Some questions for our readers: Do you plan to introduce cow’s milk when your baby turns one? What alternatives to cow’s milk, if any, have you tried? What are your thoughts on conventional, organic, and local milk products?