Saturday, February 2, 2013

Say Cheese!!

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Yay, a non-baby post!! It seems like the world of babies has taken over my life. I still have such a huge interest in nutrition though, so I'd like to start blogging more about that. I have a ton of topics on my list. Let's start with cheese.

The world of convenience food was brought to another level when pre-shredded cheese was readily available...and cheap! I think grating cheese is evil to most people (especially my husband). It takes forever, you're pretty likely to get a little skin in there (ha!, but yuck), and what do you do with the ends? Then there's sliced cheese. There's not much that seems wrong with this cheese, well except the fake Kraft kind that feels more like plastic than food. Brick cheese to me just seemed old fashioned. Something we bought we were children.

I've recently started looking closer at the cheese we buy. The first thing I wanted to get rid of was the artificial coloring. What cheese is yellow or orange by nature?? Why do they feel they have to add color? SO Weird!! My choices are usually Monterrey, Swiss, Mozzarella or White Cheddar.

Second, I started researching shredded cheese. The ingredients included a few extra items, and what is that powdery stuff that coats the shreds? Cellulose. Manufacturers use cellulose in shredded cheese to prevent clumping.

Cellulose is an difficult thing to discuss and even research. In the end I've found that it's actual wood pump. Not exactly saw dust, but enough like it to make me want to stay away. Okay, okay so it's a natural plant fiber (insoluble). However I don't usually go chew on a piece of bark, and I especially don't swallow it. The interesting thing about it is a lot of nutritionists and the FDA is they do not consider it toxic or harmful. Meat is the only food that has a limit on cellulose content-3.5%. So in the end, yes it's 'okay' that cellulose is in our food. It's even debated that it's good for us. We need insoluble fiber right? While I agree, I'd rather get it from FOOD. REAL FOOD. Not wood.


*These photos were taken before I went to WHITE cheese only.
So we decided to stay away from cellulose in our cheese (and hopefully other products). With that we had to rely on shredding it ourselves. Oh the life of a real foodie. Luckily, I have my handy-dandy food processor. It shred's a 2 lb bring of cheese in minutes!! I then bag it and throw in the fridge or freezer and presto! It even taste better.

What about sliced cheese? I never buy the cheap plastic kind. If I want the convenience of pre-sliced cheese, I'll get the natural kind, check the ingredients to make sure there's nothing added and done. Usually I'll just take some of my brink cheese and slice it myself. Again, my food processor comes in hand-it also has a slicer. I bag this separately and we have sliced cheese ready to go for my little guys grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and he doesn't even notice the cheese isn't orange!

*These photos were taken before I went to WHITE cheese only.
So that's where I'm at right now... we shred and slice our own WHITE cheese. It actually wasn't a hard change to make. I actually enjoy it. It makes me feel all domestic and such.

I do have one more step that we haven't accomplished yet-organic and grass fed. Because of budget and availability issues, this is one goal I'm still working on. I feel it's important to buy organic and grass fed cheese. Just as important as it is for milk. Organic cheese will be free of the hormones and antibiotics that is so prominent in most dairy.

Cheese from grass fed cows will have more Omega-3's than factory farm cows since they eat a natural diet of grass, insects, and soil.

One last thing to think about when selecting your cheese is fat content. I buy mainly full fat cheese since my baby loves his cheese and needs the fat. Plus it tastes better. I will admit though that I am a fan of low fat or non fat cheese. Not ideologically of course, but when it comes to losing weight-it's just hard to buy the full fat versions!!  However, I do believe that full fat dairy is the least processed and contains the most nutrients. I think buying the full fat dairy is a great choice, and if you are trying to lose weight, just cut back a little.

Well I hope this helps you choose how to buy your cheese. Baby steps is my motto in the real food journey. If you want to take it step by step try this:

1. White Cheese Only
2. No Cellulose-sliced or brick cheese only
3. Full Fat
4. Organic/Grass Fed

Even doing one of these steps is making the change to REAL FOOD.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Wipes, Diaper Creams, and More

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This is the 'other' category. There's so much to talk about with CD, we of course need an 'other' page. A few things I didn't want to forget to tell you:

Diaper Cream
Diaper Cream is usually not recommended by cloth diaper manufacturers. I think it can even void some warranties as with detergent and additives. The cream will get on the diaper, cause build up, repelling, and stains. Three of the offending ingredients are Fish Oils, Zinc Oxide and Lanolin. All three are great at repelling moisture-but will cause your diapers to do the same. Fish oils will make the diaper smell like fish!

There are quite a few CD safe creams out there though. Check out this page from Pinstripes and Polkadots for a list of safe diaper creams. I personally use California Baby. I used it before with disposables so I was happy to find it on this list. I also love that I can grab it at Target. There is Vitamin Grade Zinc in it, but I'm guessing that's better than regular Zinc Oxide which is why it's on the approved list.

If you do want to stick with a regular non-CD approved cream use a liner or a wipe in between the bum and the diaper. Make sure to wash it separately though. I still place a dry wipe in between my LO's bum and the diaper though, just in case.

Wipes
I wasn't sure I would use cloth wipes. The idea seemed even ickier than cloth diapers. I'm here to say I LOVE CLOTH WIPES. There's something about them being thicker and the wipe solution is better and wipes cleaner than disposable. I'm not sure. It just feels better to use. Weird huh?

We used disposable wipes the first week while I was still figuring out our wipe solution. It was messier. I would have to throw away the disposable wipe in the garbage, then spray out the diaper. Then of course I hated the idea of a poopy wipe sitting in my garbage so I'd make my husband take it out. It really isn't that much harder or ickier to use a cloth wipe. Most diapers with a 15 month old won't leave much waste on the wipe anyway, at least anything to spray off. I will say though my LO has been sick lately so has had 3 really gross diapers today. I had to spray off a few wipes (probably the worst it's been in months), and honestly it wasn't that bad. I was spraying off the diaper anyway. Bahm. Done. Plus while I'm reducing waste and keeping chemicals away from my baby I may as well do it all the way right?

So for wipes, I just got 2-12 packs of wipes from Cotton Babies. I don't think I've even touched the second pack! Here's the wipe solution recipe I got from a friend:

-1 teaspoon baby soap (Dr. Bronner's was suggested, however I'm using my sons California Baby Bath Soap).
-1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (the cooking kind)
-Really warm water

I put the coconut oil and the baby soap in my peri bottle (just the one I got from the hospital).  I filled it with really warm water. Hot enough to melt the coconut oil. The soap will keep the oil emulsified. The oil will help clean the bum more (plus coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, and it's very soothing on the skin). Make sure it's cool enough before you use it on your baby or wipe. Once it's cool the coconut may harden a little, just give it a hard shake and you should be good to go. This will stay good for a week or so.

When I'm ready to use the wipe, I like squirting a little water on the wipe (sometimes on baby) then wiping down. Most diapers I'll use only one wipe. A really dirty one, I use three. Some people like to place all their wipes in a warmer and cover with the solution. I like this idea, but I'm not sure how much I would use and I wouldn't want it to grow mold.

I've also just started wiping down at all changes, even just wet ones.  I didn't before because I didn't want to add extra wetness. Last night I found a hilarious forum post HERE, and read that most boys have what we call stinky butt syndrome (SBS). After reading (and crying from laughing) this forum, I started wiping at each change and SBS is gone.

-----UPDATE-----
Just a quick update on the wipe solution. I ditched the peri bottle because it kept getting clogged. Now I use a small glass jar. I put in the coconut oil first, really warm water, then shake it up until the oil is melted. Then I add a squirt of baby soap to it. I used to add the soap before, but it would foam when I shook it. Then I just dip the wipe in the water and wipe the baby bum.  Still easy peasy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Laundry Additives

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Another area of Cloth Diapering is laundry additives. These are products that can help your cloth diapering laundering process.You don't need to start out your cloth diapering with additives. Usually you only want to use these if you start noticing problems.

Keep in mind that using too many additives or too much of it can cause build up very quick! It can also damage the diaper or cause rashes. Additives can be great, but use with care.

Additives
Bac-Out-This product is great to get rid of bacteria or ammonia. Enzymes work by eating away at waste products (poop and pee). This is great for diapers, but not good for your babies bum. If the enzymes are not rinsed out well in the wash, they will attack any residue on your babies skin causing rashes. This could void your warranty for a lot of diaper manufacturers. I was concerned about bacteria left on diapers, so I decided to make this a small part of our diaper regiment. I give each dirty diaper (or over night wet one) a small squirt after spraying off and before putting it in our wet bag. If you're using enzymes, make sure your wash temperature is around 130 degrees (check with diaper manufacturer on maximum temperature). This should deactivate the enzymes.

Baking Soda- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine, softening and stains. 1/4 C per wash will work to soften your water. I've read if you use baking soda, make sure to add a little vinegar to the rinse in order to re-establish the PH of your water or else the baby could get a rash. Using baking soda too often will create build up on your diapers.

Vinegar- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine and softening. If you notice your detergent isn't rinsing well, try adding 1/4 c to the rinse cycle (after the wash). If your using vinegar to disinfect, add 1 cup to the HOT wash cycle.

*Smelly Diapers??-Add 1/2 C of baking soda to your wash (in addition to the detergent). Then add 1/4 C vinegar to your rinse cycle. Before the water drains out, stop the cycle and let it soak overnight. Finish it up the next morning.

Chlorine Bleach-Most diaper manufacturers will tell you NOT to use bleach. Some CD moms will tell you once a month isn't that bad. If you feel you need to use bleach to disinfect your diapers I would first contact your diaper manufacturer for other ideas or directions. Certain care needs to be made on AIOs and pockets because the bleach can damage the PUL. If you do decide to use bleach fill your washer up to the max, add 1-2 Tablespoons of bleach, let it dilute, then add your diapers. I would follow up with a hot water wash and a few rinses to make sure no bleach is left on the diapers to get on your babies skin. BumGenius actually suggests doing this once a month.

Oxygen Bleach-This can be used for diapers, inserts, and wipes safely on a regular basis. For covers or fitteds it is suggested by Thirsties to stick to once a month. This is good for odor, urine residue and stains. I believe a lot of people just add in an average of 2 TBSP in each wash anyway. You can also soak your diapers with 1/2 a scoop and HOT water for about 1.5-2 hours to disinfect. Make sure to follow up with quite a few rinses (about 6?).

Tea Tree Oil (Melaluca Oil)-This oil is a natural antibiotic. It also has anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. There is some debate about using TTO too much and it creating resistance. I saw quite a few people use this in their wash routine. I would rather use it on occasion. If you want to get rid of the yuckies (maybe after a stomach virus), add a drop or two sparingly to your wash and rinse well about 3 times. Here's a good article I read about TTO: Robert Tisserand. To use this topically, dilute with olive or coconut oil.

Grapefruit Seed Extract-This is a disinfectant. Yay!! My friend who helped me get into cloth diapering had a huge problem with yeast. She now uses 10-20 drops of this per wash and everything is peachy keen! I bought a bottle of this right away. I plan on using it once a month as long as there is no problems. You want to add it to your rinse cycle-which now I need to purchase a downy ball so I don't have to babysit my washer.

Essential Oils (other)- You can use a few drops of lavender, chamomile, or TTO in your wipe solution. You can also add a few drops to your diaper pail/wet bag. Oils can stick to your diapers so be careful adding to the wash. I suggest researching more-sorry!

Calgon Water Softener- These can be used on all products and helps soften the water. Soft water helps the detergent work better by suspending the residues and mineral deposits in the water and prevent them from being re-deposited until they are rinsed away. Add this to the initial hot wash and following rinse.

Dawn-Dawn is recommended to help strip diapers. A small squirt does an excellent job removing stinky residue or detergent build up from diapers. If your diapers are repelling liquid try using Dawn. Fill the sink with warm water and 2-3 drops of Dawn. Hand scrub like crazy, then rinse really well until all the soap is gone. Toss in the washer and rise a few more times to make sure all the soap is gone. Make sure this is only for a waxy or oily buildup. Also keep in mind that dish soap in your washer can damage it, so rinse, rinse, rinse before you throw it in the washer.

Sunshine-I can't wait for summer. Sunning your dipes (hanging in the sun) not only sanitizes, but gets rid of stains too.

Lemon Juice- I haven't researched this too much, but I've read that adding 1/2 C. of lemon juice to your wash will help whiten your diapers. You can also spray it (mixed with water) to your diapers before sunning them. This can get rid of stains.

Wool Dryer Balls-Don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener. They work by coating your laundry and this causes repelling issues. Switch to wool dryer balls for all of your laundry. This will help you save power ($$), reduce dryer time and reduce static. Some are even lightly scented but diaper safe. These work by bouncing around in the washer (great for AIOs) which gets more air circulated. This is known to reduce dryer time 20-45%. You'll want 4-6...oh and they get better with time. Check out the ones my friend The Graceful Mom makes: Etsy Shop.

For a useful chart about what additives are safe for Thirsties diapers see this link: Thirsties Safe Additives

Where to Buy
So now you need to buy a few things; preferably all in one place. I usually shop at www.Vitacost.com for my coconut oil. They had a few of the items I needed but not all. I also went to Amazon, but again, they only had a few items. After a quick search I found www.Iherb.com. They had everything I needed and at a cheaper price! Feel free to use my referral or promo code to get $5 off: DPN078.

I decided these were my laundering items I would buy from the start: Country Save Detergent, Bac-Out, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Dawn (to keep on hand just in case), and Wool Dryer Balls. Luckily I have OxyClean, chlorine bleach, baking soda, Tea Tree Oil and vinegar on hand before I ever knew they were considered additives. Hopefully I'll never have to use these. 

I had to do quite a bit of my own research to finish this post. I think I'm even more confused! There are so many opinions, directions, warnings, and encouragement out there! I haven't had any problems with my diapers yet, so I don't know how to use the above by experience. I would love to not have to! I hope this helps you at least begin your research on additives. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

When in doubt, contact your diaper manufacturer. The pain thing about having a variety of dipes is each diaper is made of different materials-which makes cleaning a little more complicated. Remember the best advice for laundering your cloth diapers is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Don't make it too complicated if it's not necessary.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Index

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After beginning my new adventure in cloth diapering, I've realized how dang confusing it is to begin. Give me a few months and I'm sure I'll have no idea what you're talking about when you tell me beginning CD is confusing, stressful, and frustrating. I'll think you're crazy because I will of course be a pro ;)!

For now though, I'm only in week 2. I feel like I'm getting the hang of it, but there is still a lot of trial and error I'm in the midst of. Just now we realized that my babies weird smelling bum and diapers may have to do with CD...off to research what I already read about that. Maybe I need more detergent...maybe less.

While I'm in the beginning with you, I'd thought I'd write my own beginners guide. Everything I wish I could have found in one place or had someone tell me. As you'll find, I've basically write a book so I understand that no one could have told me ALL of this. Hopefully this helps you as it has me. Even writing it has helped me! Feel free to comment with any questions or answers (I could always use answers). Also, I know you can't believe everything you read on the Internet (WHAT!?!?), but from what I've researched the information is as accurate as possible (for now ;). I'll come back and correct if I find something different.

Oh and before you start, you'll recognize a theme. There is no one right way to cloth diaper. It's all trial and error and very personal. I can tell you something works great for me and it may not work for you. Or vica-versa. Enjoy!

1. Reasons We Went To Cloth
2. Choosing Your Diapers
3. The Process
4. The Detergent
5. Washing & Drying
6. Laundry Additives 
7. Diaper Cream, Wipes & More