Sauerkraut – how to make it yourself

Submitted by Kristin Urdiales of naturehaditfirst.com

Raw fermented sauerkraut is one of those foods that once you have it in your life you don’t want to live without it. As a powerful digestive tonic, it is the go to in our house for hiccups, upset tummies, indigestion, and a myriad of other ailments. With anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, sauerkraut juice is the first medicine I give my kids in times of diarrhea and vomiting.

We have taken it to the Dominican Republic, because going on vacation without it is unimaginable. For our upcoming family trip to Florida, my mother-in-law has already requested that I bring 4 jars, enough to get the entire family through a week of consuming uncommon fare.

It is also one of those foods that if you have it bought from the store, you may not agree with a word I have just said. Store bought raw sauerkraut is often not organic, expensive, mushy, and a faint caricature of the powerful medicine I am talking about. Continue reading

Locavore – A Documentary

Locavore is a documentary about local food. It is a documentary everyone should see. A locavore is someone who eats locally. It is more than a trend, it is the future of a sustainable food system. What we eat is the building block for every cell in our body. In addition to the health benefits, local food is also a solution to our global environmental issues and food crisis. As illustrated in Locavore, for thousands of years, the human diet was whole organic, local food. In the last 60 years our food has become highly processed, genetically modified, with mass produced food components – deconstructed and stripped then re-animated for consumption.

Locavore begins with the excitement of kids picking their own food to great folk music. Then the documentary urges the viewer to ask the question, where does your food come from and is it safe? Our great grandparents (and some of our grandparents) ate fruits and veggies that came from their community or personal gardens. We simply don’t. As one interviewee states, “the food in the grocery store isn’t food, it only looks like food.” Locavore also explores the questions: Where did food grown locally disappear to? Where is the local butcher and why can’t we eat like our ancestors?

Local food tastes better, is better for you, it is better for the planet and better for your community. A hard hitting point in this documentary is that organic soil is full of life, with millions of organisms. Flavour is a sign of nutrients and life in the soil. Sadly, the current mass-produced food system degrades the soil through pesticides, herbicides mono cropping and soil erosion…we are killing the very life in the soil. This is a problem because plants harvests micro nutrients and trace minerals out of the ground which gives food its health value. Instead of eating food grown in healthy soil, we have created a soil that is a dead medium just pumped up on nitrogen, potassium and prosperous. Flavour is an indicator of health. Dead soil has much less flavour and less health benefits. Sadly, many people don’t know how much better their food should taste, because they do not eat locally or grow their own. Continue reading

Sunscreen for Your Little Ones

By Breanna Rothe from sustainablemommy.ca, Photo: Tricia Hong

“A consumer advocacy group has a warning for parents who think they‘re protecting  their family with sunscreen: You may be getting burned. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit, has released an investigation of nearly 1,000 brand-name sunscreens that says four out of five don‘t adequately protect consumers and may contain harmful chemicals.” (Mercola)

With so many different sunscreens on the Market it is hard to decide which one is  right for your little ones. Beyond deciding on the brand and SPF, there are some other important factors to consider, such as the fact that many new studies such as the one mentioned above, have concluded that most of the ingredients in popular drugstore brands of sunscreen, contain chemicals that can be very harmful to your health, potentially cancer causing, and therefore not something you want to put on a baby or young child. Two main ingredients to avoid when purchasing a sunscreen for your family is anything containing Oxybenzone and Retinyl Palmitate. Continue reading

Cubit’s Organic Seeds Give Away

To kick off the growing season we met up with Laura Watt from Cubit’s, a Canadian organic seed company. Laura is excited to offer a seed-give-away on naturalmommy. Keep reading for details of how you can win her fabulous seeds for your 2012 garden!

Laura is from Toronto Canada and she has a passion for organic gardening and helping others to grow healthy, natural food. Cubit’s offers organic, rare and heirloom seeds on-line and they have a special interest in urban gardening and local food because they believe that anyone can easily grow their own produce. It’s fun, healthier than non-organic-store-bought-produce and good for the planet too!

Laura’s passion for gardening and helping people get passionate about growing food themselves is infections. Laura’s website, cubitsorganics.com, offers fun recipes and tips for what to do with all those delicious veggies and herbs after you’ve grown them! Check out her recipe for Canada’s Best Sandwich, found [here].

Some of Cubit’s seeds are truly unique, like their organic watermelon radish seeds which will turn any salad into a conversation piece. What is a watermelon radish you might be wondering? It is a radish that looks like a miniature watermelon! We also love Cubit’s organic carrot seed blend called Rainbow Carrots (featured in first image) and their beet seeds that create mouthwatering organic early-wonder-tall-top-beets (featured in second image).

What to win some of these incredible seeds?

All you have to do is like us on facebook, then, send us a message letting us know what your gardening aspirations are this year! Simple, eh?

Once a winner is chosen, Cubit’s will send them 6 packs of organic seeds to help them achieve their organic 2012 garden!

Winner will be announced at the end of May.

The Best Birth Aid Recipe

The Best Labor Aid recipe. By midwife and childbirth educator Elizabeth MacKay, creator of the Peaceful Birth On-line Course found [here].

You will want to eat and drink light, healthy foods during labor. If you eat and drink during labor, then you don’t need an IV. Labor is work, calories are needed for your body to work effectively, and in order to have the energy you need to give birth.

Starving yourself and becoming dehydrated during childbirth can lead to complications. If you have to get an IV, It will keep you from moving freely during labor, but it is movement that helps you give birth faster and easier. The use of IVs can cause other complications, such as fluid overload and hyperglycemia for both mother and baby. And you can find yourself in the “cascade of interventions”, where one intervention leads to more interventions.

But don’t drink sports drinks or energy drinks as they can actually make things more difficult for you in labor.

The Ingredients used in these drinks can affect you and your baby’s heart rate and blood pressure. As these drinks contain very high levels of caffeine. Some brands have as much as 8x the amount of caffeine as 1 cup of coffee. Continue reading

Fresh

Chef John Bishop’s cookbook titled Fresh is centered on seasonal recipes and local foods.

Bishop states that his cookbook was inspired by Gary and Naty King, owners of Hazelmere Organic Farm, a sustainable family-managed organic vegetable farm in Surrey BC. The Kings supply much of the food for Bishop’s restaurant. The farm is about nourishing and educating the community about real, healthy food with a focus on healthy-lifestyle vs. a for-profit-business.

An excerpt by Gary King writes, “By late May…the Farmer’s markets begin, and we start to see dramatic increase in customers. I always look forward to this time, the sharing the food grown with love, effort and dedication and respect for the wilderness from which it comes, so that it can sustain our bodies and our communities.” (32)

The pictures Bishop has included about the King’s farm capture a way of life that is in-tune with nature and about respecting each other. They are having fun while looking after the earth. Continue reading

Babies & Kids with Eczema; no fun for anyone!

By: Jessica Carfagnini, ND, tbaynaturopathic.ca

Have you ever parented an itchy, unhappy child with an angry red rash? Perhaps your child had the rash with little bumps weeping fluid, or maybe she had the dry rash that cracked when she scratched it?  Eczema is an increasingly common health issue among babies and children and can be an endless source of frustration. What is eczema anyway? There are two main types.  Contact Dermatitis is an allergic reaction to laundry soap or another irritant in the environment.  This type of eczema can be usually be “cured” by removing the irritant. The other type of eczema, atopic dermatitis, is an itchy red rash that may be inherited from one or both parents. Allergies and asthma are linked to eczema so you may see any of these conditions occurring in members of the same family. Eczema, asthma and allergies are genetically linked and are all the result of a malfunctioning immune system. For this reason, they are sometimes considered autoimmune conditions. Continue reading

Give Away & Interview with Worts + Cunning Apothecary

WORTS + CUNNING APOTHECARY is a purveyor of quality, handmade herbal products as well as natural products for moms. The Apothecary is currently in Mesa, Arizona and run by owner, founder, and herbologist Alexis J. Chapman.

Alexis chose the name for her apothecary by blending two words: Wort, meaning plant and Cunning meaning artfulness. In other words her focus is on working with plants in new artful ways, while retaining the ancient art of creating herbal remedies for health and healing.

We were so excited when Alexis agreed to offer a give away for our readers! She has chosen her Organic Bundle of Joy Postpartum Kit (featured in picture) which includes Herbal Sitz Bath, Sweet Nectar Milk Tea Blend, Blue Skies Postpartum Courage Blend, Labor & Postpartum Belly Balm and her Sassy Mama Tea Blend.

How does this give-away work? You must nominate a special pregnant woman in your life by sending us an e-mail or facebook message letting us know who you are nominating and why. It is as simple as telling us what you think is special about her and why you want her to win this special postpartum gift-set. We will be selecting our winner on Mother’s Day.

Want to win yourself? Get a friend or family member to nominate you! Once we announce our winner, Alexis will send out this amazing gift direct from Worts + Cunning Apothecary!

We also had the chance to chat with Alexis about her work and love of plants. Please read our amazing interview with her below.

Natural Mommy (NM): Alexis, how did you get started working with plants/herbs and what do you love about it?

Alexis: My story with plants begins with a koala – a real koala that I had the opportunity to hold and have my picture taken with when I was about 5 years old. For the next few years I knew that I was more than just a little girl, I was, in fact, a koala and set about exploring the world as I thought a koala would. I rode my tricycle around the city and in parks, picking leaves off trees and bushes and eating them. I figured out pretty quickly which plants tasted good, others that were not so palatable, and my parents (bless them) realized that they could not stop my koala-ness but began to educate me about poisonous and non-poisonous plants. We would move to a new place and my mom would take me around the yard, showing me what I could and could not eat. So it began, my lifelong journey with plants from koala girl to herbologist (though there is still a bit of koala left in me). Continue reading

Birthing Centers in Ontario Canada

New to Ontario, but not new to Quebec or Manitoba, is the opening of two birth centers – run by midwives and acting as a pilot project, which if successful will likely change how women give birth in Ontario.

“On Tuesday, Ontario women moved a step closer to having that third option when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans to launch the province’s first two birth centers.” (Toronto Star)

A birth center is a place where women can give birth with a midwife, aimed at expectant mothers who want to give birth naturally within a community setting. Many women do not want to be in a hospital, but are also not comfortable giving birth at home. A birthing center would offer another option for them to consider. Continue reading

Safely Ever After – A Safety Resource for Parents

Safety is a subject that all parents worry about. It is also a subject where most of us need some guidance or at least a refresher. Having some safety tools in your parenting tool-box can relive some of the tension and offer empowerment. This is why we had to introduce you to the amazing web-site, Safely Ever After by mom & certified prevention educator Pattie Fitzgerald. She offers practical, down-to-earth strategies for keeping our kids safe.

As she says, “there is more to keeping kids safe than just teaching the stranger-danger concept.” She takes a positive, no-fear approach and challenges traditional safety-strategies. One of her tips is to teach kids which strangers are safe: “If you kids get separated from you at the mall, tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.” In other words, other moms are safe strangers. Another thing to tell kids according to Fitzgerald: safe grownups don’t ask kids for help!! (They go to other grownups if they need assistance). Good one!

Fitzgerald’s web-site offers tips and safety rules for kids. She also has a “did you know?” section which is devoted to teaching parents about predators. Importantly, she helps parents know what they should tell their kids and encourages open dialogue between parent and child. She also encourages parents and kids to go with their gut feelings. When you get a bad feeling about someone, trust your instincts! Also, listen to your kids when they get a bad feeling because they might be picking up on something that you’ve missed.

Check out Safely Ever After [here].