Light Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

With snow in the forecast this week, Simon and I wanted to take advantage or our last true days of fall.  It is definitely fall here.  Do you know how I know?  Our lawn has all but disappeared.  So we took a walk, crunching through the leaves, taking in the last days of fall, and freezing our butts off.

No joke, it is cold out there, I can’t believe the little guy needs a hat in October.  He is also wearing fleece footie pajamas over his regular clothes.  He was actually pretty happy, besides some cold hands (knitting baby mittens is next on the list).  We had just moved to Missouri this time last year, and I remember going to for walks and it being really warm.  Not so much, here in upstate New York.  Winter comes fast and hard, and I’m a little surprised that fall has even lasted this long!

On our walk home, I had my mind on hot beverages.  How could I not?  When you come in from playing in the cold, you want something warm to drink.  I was specifically thinking about a few recipes I had seen on Pinterest (as I do so often these days) for pumpkin white hot chocolate.

Have you ever had white hot chocolate?  I don’t really care for it, as it doesn’t really taste like white chocolate.  So I figured, why bother?

That’s right, this hot chocolate has no chocolate.  But Warm Pumpkin Drink doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?  So I whipped up a super simple, vegan, under 100 calorie Pumpkin Hot No-Chocolate.

You Need:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp cornstarch (optional)

You Will:
1.  Heat the milk, pumpkin, spices, and maple syrup in a small saucepan.
2.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
3.  Optional, if you want it a little thicker, you can dissolve the cornstarch in a few tsp of cold water, or milk.  Add some of the warm liquid to the cornstarch mixture, then add the cornstarch to the pot, and stir until thickened.
4.  Drink!  Try and let it cool a little first.

I calculated this out to be 97 calories.  Score!  And I’m pretty sure pumpkin counts as a vegetable, so really you could almost call this healthy.  Make sure you use pure maple syrup (the Northern New York sweetener of choice, of course) and not pancake syrup.  If you don’t have maple syrup, you could use agave or even just brown sugar.

Yummy yummy.  Warmed us me right up.  Simon didn’t have any, but only because he can’t really drink liquids very well yet.  I would have felt fine letting him drink this.
Okay, let’s be honest, I just wanted to drink it myself.  He’s actually gotten quite proficient with a straw cup!

Enjoy your last days of fall!  We’ve got a lot of chilly raking to do this weekend.  Probably with Pumpkin Hot No-Chocolate to follow.

Why We Are Vegetarian

When I was about 13, I remember eating lunch at Friendly’s with my mom and brothers.  I had some kind of bacon supermelt.  No, not a BLT, no trying to fool you that you were eating vegetables, it was all about the bacon.  Bacon, a slice of tomato, some cheese.  The end.  When I went to eat it, my little brother started “Oinking” at me.  I ran into the bathroom and cried, and didn’t eat any pork at all for years.

I’m pretty sure that’s where it began.

I stopped eating meat in 2007, a year after I married my husband.  There was no sharp impetus, just a myriad of events throughout my life like the one mentioned above, that always made me feel a little creepy crawly for eating it.  When we were living in Hawaii we went deep sea fishing, when my family came to visit, and that was the final push I needed.

I am not in this picture.  I was to the right hiding out behind a van on the dock, not wanting to watch what would happen next.

It was shortly after this that I approached my husband about me not eating meat anymore.  He didn’t have a problem with it.  As long as I didn’t force it upon him.  I didn’t force it, but I didn’t cook any meat, and didn’t have any meat in the house after that.  My husband is a great guy, he really is, and he has never ever complained about missing meat at all.  He ate meat out of the house, and while he was in Iraq he ate plenty of disgusting things that I don’t even want to know about.

When he came back, I had been vegan for about a year.  It was something I felt very strongly about, and talked about a lot.  At some point during our numerous phone conversations, he decided he would do it as a 30 day trial.  Before the 30 days were up, he just decided to stick with it.

Together, we were vegan until I was pregnant.  I am aware that you can have a perfectly healthy vegan pregnancy.  Before I was pregnant, it was something I expected, something I wanted, but in less than 12 weeks, it all went out the window.  Not only because of cravings, but my husband and I sat down and had a serious discussion about what the best decision for our family would be.  And we decided to be vegetarian.

For my own benefit, and for anyone who cares to know, I want to lay out why I am vegetarian.  Like most things in life, there are multiple reasons:

First, I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons.  I am not going to argue whether or not people are “supposed” to eat animals, but I do think that the way animals used for human consumption are raised is despicable.  Everyone has seen the videos (if you haven’t, try here or here), the conditions they live in are horrible, the lives they live are horrible, what they die for, and the way that they do is unnecessary.  At the heart of it, that is why I am vegetarian.  The other reasons are more happy coincidences.

Second, I am a vegetarian for the environment.  I do try to be an environmentally friendly person, although that has grown out of my being vegetarian, rather than the other way around.  We put so much energy and resources into creating animal flesh for people to eat; energy that could be going to much more important venues.

Third, I am a vegetarian for my health.  Saturated fat and cholesterol come from animal products.  Ergo, the fewer you consume, the healthier you will be.  Hooray!  You’re doing good something good for yourself, while doing something good for someone else.  If you are wondering about protein, or vitamins, others have said it before, better than me:  Where do you get your protein?Don’t you need Vitamin B12?

Some questions I get about being vegetarian:

Will Simon be vegetarian?  Simon already is a vegetarian.  Will he be a vegetarian for the rest of his life?  I don’t know.  I am raising him in a way that I feel is the best for him.  I will teach Simon all about why I don’t believe eating animals is right, but he will be able to make his own decisions, have his own opinions, and I will love him.  Because really at the end of the day, I want him to always know that

What about free range meat?  Free range meat, is not better.  I actually posted about this on my other blog, when talking about Whole Foods.  Any demand for meat, is still a demand for meat.  Free range meat would not be an option for me.  I can appreciate what people who try to buy free range are trying to do, but I personally do not think they’re actually accomplishing much.

Do you feel like a hypocrite?  Honestly, every day.  Now that I’ve linked to my past blog, you can see that being vegan was something I felt strongly about, and lived completely.  Will I ever go back there?  I don’t know.  In the meantime, I still try to follow a vegan diet as often as I can.  We had the best vegan Mac and Cheese recipe ever for dinner tonight.  I just can’t label myself that way anymore.

Is your husband vegetarian?  Yes, he is.  That really surprises people, I guess because he is a fairly large person, and because of his job.  He says that he is mainly vegetarian for health reasons.  While I’ve never pushed it on him, I think he is mainly vegetarian because I am.

Where do you eat out/buy your food?  Vegetarian food is anything other than meat.  There is plenty in your grocery store that is not meat, right?  I’d say more than 3/4 of the store, in fact.  The whole produce section, for example.  You definitely learn to cook differently, and that was one of my favorite parts about the switch to vegetarianism.  Eating out can be trickier depending on where you are, and even more so with a baby.  Incidentally, we eat at Friendly’s a lot!  It is very kid friendly, and you can swap out any burger for a vegetarian or vegan option.  And they don’t even bat an eyelash when you do.  When we were living in Missouri it was a little harder, but there are definitely options at places like Ruby Tuesday, Olive Garden, etc.  And there is always pizza.

 

Since I stopped eating meat, my mom, youngest brother, husband, and best friend have followed suit.  I’m really happy to see so many people in my life that I care about making such an influential decision.

I get asked why I am vegetarian fairly often, and while I will answer that it is for ethical reasons, I definitely try to redirect the conversation.  I’m working on trying to be less intimidated by other people’s opinions, and on being able to think on my feet.  My hopes are that having written it out for the world to read, I’ll have an easier time verbalizing my reasoning when someone asks me to speak it.

*All of these pictures were taken at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY.  I took my mom there for a trip last year for her birthday.*

As always, if you have a question I didn’t address, a personal question, something you want to discuss, or a comment about something I wrote, please shoot me an email at oatsandbeansandbabygrow@yahoo.com!

‘Taste This’ , October

One of my favorite thing about having a blog, and specifically one that caters to food, is finding new foodstuffs and talking about them.  While not always exotic or foreign, its still fun to say “Look what I found” and either “Go try it!” or “Stay away!”.  I’m going to try and hoard it all for one big post at the end of the month.  This is that post.

First, can you believe it’s the end of October?  I almost have a 9 month old!

Anyway, I had two new tastes this month that I wanted to share.

The first is, technically, kind of foreign. I’ve heard of this before, but couldn’t believe when I saw it on a shelf at Hannaford.


Looks like peanut butter.

But is definitely not made from peanuts.

This is seriously a jar of ground up cookies.

Is it delicious? Yes. Can I think of anything to eat it on besides fruit? No. I mean, if I have to choose between European spreads that are fairly common in the US…I’d choose Nutella. And I like Nutella (as well as nut butters), on Nilla wafers. With this…I don’t know, cookie on cookie sounds a little risque.  If you can think of something you’d like to put it on, then I say go ahead and try it.  If not…you’re probably better just sticking with your PB.

But wait, there was another discovery this month!

You are most likely at least somewhat familiar with Laughing Cow cheese. Either the mini wheels coated in red wax, or the triangles wrapped in foil. Today, we are talking about the latter.

I saw that they had come up out with flavors about a month ago.  I put it off and put it off…but I finally gave in.  I had to try at least one.

 

 

 

So I tried two.

You know how  it goes, full of flavor, delicious snack, only 35 calories a wedge, yada yada yada. What’s the yada here? Okay, so these might be low in calories, but they’re not good for you. They’re full of sodium, and well…they’re a shelf stable cheese-product for goodness sake. Eat in moderation please. And you can believe Simon won’t be having them for a long while.

But you will want to enjoy in moderation, these are good!   The packages I picked up were Blue Cheese and Queso Fresco with Chipotle.  I wasn’t sure how well these specific flavors would come through in a little wedge, but they’re pretty intense. So I made stuff with them.

I had bought dates and (real) blue cheese last week, with intentions of making some stuffed dates. If you know me, you are thinking “Uh, why? You hate blue cheese.” Yeah…that is mostly true. I really like that salad…you know, with the cranberries, and the walnuts, and the blue cheese. Sure, I pick out the big chunks of cheese and give them to whomever I’m with, but the general flavor is still there. When I saw these wedges, I was actually hoping for a milder blue cheese flavor.

I was let down. This packs a blue cheese punch. I used it to make my stuffed dates.

First, plain. 1/3 of a wedge per date works nicely.

Then, with a walnut, for some crunch.

If you’re a blue cheese fan, this is perfect (my husband liked it).  Personally, I would cut it with a little low fat cream cheese.

The other variety, Queso Fresco and Chipotle, I can eat straight out of the package. Maybe on some crackers, if I were to be more ladylike (but I’m not). But it also reminded me of something I made a few years ago with some black beans, and I decided I would give cooking with it a shot and made Creamy Chipotle Black Beans.

You Need:
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco and Chipotle Cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup vegetable broth

You Will:
1. Heat a pan over medium high heat with cooking spray. Add the onion, garlic, and cumin, and cook until soft.
2. Add a bit of vegetable broth, and the beans. Simmer until warmed through, then add the cheese and the rest of the broth.
3. Stir until the cheese is melted and well incorporated, then simmer for about 10 minutes, until beans taste done.

You shouldn’t need any salt. There is already enough in the cheese. This is not spicy though, if you want a kick, you could add some chipotle powder, plain chili powder, or a few pinches of cayenne.

We had this over some sweet potatoes, and it made for a pretty quick and filling dinner. I really like this cheese as well. I don’t know how strong the queso fresco taste really is, since it is a mild cheese to begin with, but you can definitely taste the chipotle.

No picture of my messy messy baby, but he loved his sweet potato.  It was all over his face, his hands, his tray. Tasty to eat and fun to squish.  He also adores broccoli, so if you ever wonder why you always see him eating broccoli, that’s why.  It’s always been my fall back veggie, and now its his too.

So a pretty good start to the week!  Simon and I have a busy week planned, but we’ll be sure to check in again!

Tofu Shrimp

I have a love for Alton Brown.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he thinks science is cool, and on his show (“Good Eats” on Food Network) he actually ends up doing a lot of stuff that is vegetarian.  Or easily adaptable.  I have one of his earlier books, “I’m Just Here For the Food”, and it is not so vegetarian friendly.  Yes, there are vegetable recipes, and sides recipes, but there are magnets of the parts of a cow, sheep, chicken, and pig in the book’s appendices.

I really only have this book still because I like Alton.  I have only ever made one thing from it.  And that is his shrimp scampi.  Of course, without shrimp.  He has a footnote on the recipe saying that “of all things”, firm tofu makes a good substitute for shrimp in that recipe.  Thanks for throwing us vegetarians a bone, Alton.  Or…a tofu container?  Carrot top?  What’s the vegetarian equivalent of a bone?

No bones in here, just veggies, pasta, and tofu. I doubled the sauce ingredients, just to cover the pasta enough.

Alton’s Scampi v2.0
You Need:
4 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp chopped parsley
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 container of water packed firm or extra firm tofu
4 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
Salt
Pepper
2 Tbsp butter
Juice of 1 lemon

You Will:
Cook tofu in a dry pan, on medium-high heat. Cook on one side, moving as little as possible, until golden brown. Flip, and do the other side.
Chop up the garlic and parsley as finely as possible, until almost pastelike.
Reduce to medium low, add oil to the pan when the tofu is done.
Add tomatoes, cook for about a minute
Add garlic and parsely mix, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

After this, we tossed with angel hair pasta and spiralized zucchini, and served.


This is really good, easy, and pretty light way to dress up pasta.  And its especially good if you like garlic.  We visited my parents recently and my dad was helping me cook, and I asked “it’s normal that however much garlic a recipe calls for, I automatically double it, right?”.  His response?  “Yes.”  I like that answer.

Now, I’ve made Alton’s recipe before, but this time I thought, if tofu is a good substitute for shrimp in scampi, why not elsewhere?  Why not something like coconut shrimp?

So I looked again, and this time I found a Rachel Ray recipe that didn’t require me buying anything out of the ordinary.  And so tonight, we had Coconut Tofu.

I went and broke out the countertop deep fryer for this recipe.  Hers calls for just a shallow pan fry, so don’t feel like you need to get fancy.

You Need:
 One package of water packed firm tofu
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
a few pinches of cayenne
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
egg white
oil for frying (peanut or canola)

You Will:
Heat oil to 350 degrees.
Put tofu on its side, and cut down the middle. You should have two blocks that are the same shape as the original block, just half as tall. Cut each block into three long strips. Then you can cut each strip into 4 pieces. Pat down the tofu, just to take off some of the water.
Mix breadcrumbs, salt, and cayenne.
Mix coconut throughout breadcrumb mixture.
As you are ready to fry, roll the tofu in the egg whites (I just used a splash from a container of all egg whites), then cover with breadcrumb-coconut coating, pressing it on firmly to each side.
Fry until GBD*

Coconut shrimp makes me think of Red Lobster, which only makes me think about cheddar biscuits, so they were obligatory here. The recipe was ridiculously easy, and came from Pinterest. I used parsley instead of oregano, and salted butter and garlic powder instead of garlic salt.  Added snap peas sauteed in garlic as well to add some green.

This tofu was surprisingly light. This was my first time using a deep fryer, and I thought it would feel heavy and unhealthy, and it really didn’t. Of course, this is still a bit of an “evil twin” to the scampi recipe, but the biscuits are actually heavier than the tofu. To keep it light, I made a quick dipping sauce. I would have just used Sweet Thai Chili sauce, but I didn’t have any, so I improvised, and it came out very similar, except in consistency, this was not as sticky. We went to a wedding in Louisiana once, and visited the Tabasco factory. I brought home Sweet Tabasco sauce, exclusive to the factory. I thought it’d come to the stores at some point, but nothing so far. But this reminded me a lot of that.

Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce
You Need:
1/4 cup Agave
1 tsp Lite Soy Sauce
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp Red Curry Paste
a few splashes of hot sauce

You Will:  Mix it all together.

This was the perfect topping for the tofu.  I preferred the thinner sauce, it added to the lightness, while still adding a lot of flavor.

Simon was awake for this one!  If he skips his afternoon nap, he is usually in bed before dinnertime.  But he took a two hour nap this afternoon, so he had three solid food meals today.  He is actually ingesting very little right now, so it isn’t too important how many times he sits down for meals.

He had a great time!  He loves snap peas, its so funny to hear him crunching on them.  The texture is similar to celery, which he also loves.  Tofu has appeared for him a few times now, and not much of it gets to his mouth.  I think he likes the way it feels in his hands, and he prefers to smoosh it around.

I’m going to take the ending here to apologize for the crappy picture thus far.  I’m working on it, but we end up eating so late now that I have no natural light.  I’m working on the graininess and lack of lighting.  Hopefully it will improve soon, because its driving me crazy!

With that, I hope that the lure (haha) of Tofu Shrimp is calling you!  Stay tuned, I hope to continue to update this often, it has been nice to be on here more this week!

*Golden Brown and Delicious. Sorry, couldn’t let an opportunity for an Alton-ism go unused.

Cloth Diapering Part 2 – How

So after thinking about my last post, I realized that someone who really didn’t know anything about cloth diapering wouldn’t have learned much about “How” to cloth diaper if they read that.  So I decided  I would make a part 2.

I do get the question “How do you cloth diaper?”.  It is always met with a kind of blank stare because it is so general.  I could go on about it for a good long time.  Obviously though, people who are asking, just don’t know what to ask.

So, this is my answer to “How do you cloth diaper?”.

There are basically two options when cloth diapering; you can use a diaper service, or you can buy and wash them yourself. I didn’t look into a diapering service at all. There wasn’t one where we were, or where we are now. Jillian’s Drawers is in Syracuse (but wouldn’t deliver to our area), and they charge $22/week, just for the prefolds. You still need to buy the covers yourself.
You can buy a pretty decent cloth diaper for $22, so if you just plan ahead and bought one diaper every week leading up to your baby’s birth, you would definitely be spending less.

Everyone that I know who cloth diapers, cleans them themselves. And they also own a wide variety of diapers:

Types of Cloth Diapers

Prefolds and Covers: This is what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers; a piece of cloth, usually cotton, hemp, or bamboo, that has been folded, and sewn together to provide extra absorbency (if you were to buy flats, they wouldn’t be pre-folded, you would fold them yourself. Even cheaper.). Then the wonderful invention called the Snappi keeps the prefold together, and you put on a cover over it.
Pros? The least expensive option. They’re easy to clean, they dry relatively quickly.  If a cover doesn’t get dirty, it can be reused.
Cons? They are a bit more complicated than some of the other diapers out there. They probably present more of a learning curve for dads who aren’t changing them all day. You also need to buy different sizes as they grow, and they can be a little bulky.
Brands: Green Mountain Diapers, Swaddlebees, Babykicks

All-in-one (AIO) Diapers: This is probably the easiest type of cloth diaper to use. They are exactly what they sound like: everything is already sewn in, all in one diaper. They look and act just like a disposable (besides the throwing it away part). You just sit the baby in the diaper, close it up, and he’s crawling around. When baby is done with the diaper, you take it off, and throw it in the pail. No snapping in inserts, no stuffing inserts, no snappi-ing prefolds. These are becoming a popular option for newborn diapers.
Pros? Ease of use. Especially easy for those people in your life who aren’t used to cloth diapers. They’re also one of the trimmest options.
Cons? Expensive, and tend to take longer to dry than any of the other options.  Also no option to reuse covers.
Brands: Bumgenius Elemental; GroVia AIO, Bottombumpers

Pocket Diapers:  These diapers have a cover with a pocket inside where it is stuffed with an absorbent insert.  The inserts tend to be made of microfiber, hemp, or bamboo. Some people prefer to use natural fibers, but the microfiber dries very quickly.  When baby is done with the diaper, you need to unstuff it before washing the diaper.

Pros? They dry pretty quickly. The microfiber dries especially fast. Pockets keep baby the driest, because the pocket provides a barrier. There are a lot of options, since they’re one of the most popular types. You can also easily add or remove absorbency layers.
Cons? They have to be stuffed and then when they’re wet and/or poopy, unstuffed.
Brands: Fuzzibunz, Bumgenius 4.0, Kawaii Baby

Fitteds and Contours: The most basic way to describe a fitted diaper is that it’s kind of like a prefold that has been fitted to fit the baby. It has leg elastics and a closure that are snaps or aplix like a pocket or AIO diaper does. You could also think of it as an AIO diaper without the cover. The difference between a fitted and a contour is that a contour diaper doesn’t have a closure, you would use a Snappi, like with a prefold. It also needs a separate cover.  Some have options for adjustable absorbency.

Pros? Breathable, especially depending on the cover you choose. Fleece and wool covers are popular choices used with a fitted for overnight absorbency and breathability.  If you’re at home and its warm, you don’t even need a cover; ultra breathable just change when slightly damp to the touch.
Cons? They are also a little bulky, and aren’t the quickest to dry. You also need to put on two pieces, fitted, then cover.
Brands: Kissaluvs, Sloomb, Thirsties

All-in-Two (AI2) Diapers: This is closest to my heart, as it is what we use. There is an insert that is either snapped or are laid in a cover, so covers are reusable unless they are pooped in. When it’s wet, just unsnap and snap in a new soaker.  Most of the versions also have the option to use a disposable insert instead of the cloth, which is why they’re often referred to as hybrid diapers as well.

Pros? Covers are reusable, so you don’t have to buy as many. Quick to assemble and disassemble. Trimmer in your diaper bag because there are fewer covers to pack.  Also pretty dad-friendly (my husband has specifically mentioned that he likes them).
Cons? No stay dry layer, unless soakers are stay dry.
Brands: GroVia, Flips, Softbums

Some Other Things to Consider

Sized vs One Size
Beyond the type of diaper you’re using, this is probably the biggest decision to make. One size diapers typically say they can be used from 7-35 lbs. In addition to the waist closures, there are also snaps going up the rise of the diapers that you will unsnap as baby grows. A sized diaper ranges in size from XS to L or even XL. The benefit is that you don’t have the rise snaps, and they are supposed to provide a more precise fit. Obviously you need to buy a lot more sized diapers than you would one-size diapers. But, sized diapers also tend to cost a little less. Decisions…

Snaps vs Aplix
Right now we are using aplix diapers, and I love them. They are the easiest to get a good fit with, especially when baby is small, and for people who aren’t used to diapering your baby. Snaps are a great option too though. When baby gets bigger, its a lot harder for them to pull off. They’re also more durable. There are laundry tabs for aplix closures, but the aplix can still crack, or wear out a little. We have been using ours for 8 months and they’re still in great shape. This is one of the plus sides of options where you don’t need to use a new cover every time, the covers don’t get washed as often, so aplix doesn’t get worn out as quickly.

Liners
I mentioned keeping baby dry in some of the descriptions above. If you aren’t using pockets or something stay-dry, you might end up wanting to use some diaper liners. These are commercially available, either cloth or disposable, but you can also buy microfleece (microfleece, not just the fleece you buy from JoAnns to make blankets) and cut it up. The idea being that the urine will travel through the liner, keeping baby a bit drier. They also can protect your diaper if you need to use a diaper cream that isn’t safe for cloth diapers. Some people also like using liners, especially disposable, so that they can easily lift poop off. The disposable ones can just be flushed.
Disposable: GroVia, Kushies, Imse Vimse
Cloth: Bummis, Kanga Care

Diaper Cream
You can’t just use any diaper cream with cloth diapers. Think about it. Diaper creams are meant to repel urine. If you get repelling diaper creams on your diapers, they are going to start to repel urine. Not the point, right? Here is a comprehensive list of what is safe, and what is not. We also really love powder, especially California Baby Calming Non-Talc Powder.

Staining
Diapers do get stained. Breastfed, formula fed, or toddler solids. Put your diaper in the sun, and it will take out most poop stains. They need to be wet when they go into the sun, but they do not need to dry. So, it’ll work even if its cold out.

Wipes
You can use disposable wipes, but that doesn’t make sense to me. You’ll need to have both a receptacle for your cloth and your disposables. You also can’t just roll up a poopy wipe in a poopy diaper and throw it in the diaper pail. Cloth wipes are easy. You can put a bunch of wipes in an old disposable container with wipe solution, you can use a cloth wipe warmer (in the winter, we do), you can just spray your baby’s butt with water, and swipe him down. But it all just gets thrown in and washed with the diapers.

Storage
You have a couple of options when it comes to storage. I talked a little about what we do in Part 1. A dry pail with a liner, in my opinion, is your best at home option. Everything has the chance to breathe, and it doesn’t smell up your room. Your other decent option, is a large wetbag. Don’t be deceived, there is nothing wet about a wetbeg besides it holding wet diapers. It is just a cloth bag with a PUL lining that is zipped shut. When traveling, use smaller wetbags.

When baby is young, if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t need to do anything to diapers before they go into the wetbag. Breastmilk poop is completely water soluble, so it just washes away. Really. If you are formula feeding, or baby has started solids, you have a different story. The solids do need to be washed away before it can be washed. You can use a liner to make that easier, as I mentioned above. You can dunk and swish in the toilet, or you can use a diaper sprayer.

Washing
There are many websites with detailed information on washing cloth diapers. Make sure you are using a cloth diaper safe detergent; this is a good list.

How to Convince Your Partner
Chances are, if you’re considering cloth diapers right now, someone thinks your nuts. What I did for my husband was make him a slideshow of all the information I just compiled into this and the Cloth Diapering – Why post. The best thing you can do, when trying to convince someone to see your side of something, is to educate yourself on it. Then educate them on it. That way, even if they disagree with you still, at least they are making a decision that is equally as educated as yours.

I hope that if you have cloth diapering questions, that might have answered some of them! If you think I missed something, or want more clarification of something, or think I need to add another category, leave me a comment, or email me at oatsandbeansandbabygrow@yahoo.com.

*Just for the record, if it isn’t clear, we use and love GroVia hybrid diapers!*

Cloth Diapering Part 1 – Why

“Why the cloth diapers?”

Of all people, my son’s doctor asked me this at his last appointment. He caught me totally off guard, since he seemed to mildly disapprove, and I feel like I’m just doing the best by my baby. My response to him was some mumbled, non-committal explanation about the environment.

For some reason, I just lose it when I’m put on the spot without any real time to construct a response. So, Dr K, if you are ever searching the web and find this, here is your answer:

1. Environment
2. Baby’s Health
3. Cost
4. Adorable-ness

About the Earth: Concerns for the environment was definitely what got me started on thinking about cloth diapers. It seemed obvious that they would be a better option. When starting to do research on that, you will hear plenty of disagreement there. At the end of the day, you have to decide if its better to be using a little extra water and electricity, or to have hundreds of diapers piling up in a landfill.

Disposables are Expensive!: That pretty sums it up. Disposables are costly. Sure, there are people out there who are super couponers, and maybe they can get them really cheap. But I am definitely not that person. Cloth diapers are an larger initial investment, but they are so much less expensive in the long run. Especially if you get to use them for more than one baby! There are tons of breakdowns on the cost difference of disposables vs. cloth, this one even accounts for energy costs. Simon wore disposables the first week or so after he came home, and Dad commented that he could see how much we were going to save by using cloth.

Too Cute:

2 weeks old


Do I really even need to say anything?

For My Baby: I didn’t look into how our diapering decisions could affect his health until after we had already been using cloth for months, and my neighbor mentioned how horrible disposables might be for their health. Then I did some research, and was pretty surprised with what I found. Yes, there are bad things everywhere, and I can’t protect him from everything, but I can keep the dioxins, as well as some other nasties, away from his most sensitive parts.
There are other claims of it causing infertility, asthma, etc. I don’t know how credible that is, but hey…why chance it? Its not like cloth diapering is that difficult anyway.

Cloth diapering doesn’t get quite the eyebrow raise that I imagine it probably got about 10 years ago, but it does still get a lot of questions. Some that I get a lot are:

How do you do it?: Really, I get that question a lot and it is so vague.  I wrote a follow up to this post, Cloth Diapering Part 2 – How, where I went into great detail on how you cloth diaper a baby.

Doesn’t it take a lot of time?: It surely does not. Three times a week, I do a load of diaper laundry.

Isn’t is messy?: Well sure…but not any messier than changing a disposable diaper! I would think it’d be a little extra messy if you are using cloth diapers and disposable wipes, because you can’t just roll up the wipe in the diaper. Cloth wipes are much easier, in my opinion, when using cloth diapers.

Isn’t is hard to travel?: If we are going away for a weekend, it isn’t necessarily harder, but it does take up more space. We just got back from visiting my family for the weekend, and Simon’s diapers took up more space than Simon and my clothes. If we are going away for more than four days, we’re going to need to find a washing machine. As far as dirty diaper storage, we just use wetbags when we are traveling, larger ones for longer trips, small ones for everyday use.

Doesn’t it take up a lot of space?: Of course. A whole stash of cloth diapers takes up more space than a pack of disposables. But it all fits on the changing table easily.
*Flash warning, there is no light in his room!*
I know some cloth diapering moms do complain about the space it takes up in the diaper bag, and I’m not sure if my diaper bag is just big, or if our diapers are smaller than most, but I don’t have an issue with that either.

Isn’t is smelly?: Honestly, not at all. You can see in the above photo a white garbage can to the right, and that is where his dirty diapers go (with a pail liner) until they are washed. No, there is no lid, and no, his room doesn’t smell. If you want to go stick your nose in it, of course they have a scent…he has been peeing and pooping in them. But just walking around the room as you would in normal everyday life, nope.

Some other things to like about cloth diapers:
– babies in cloth tend to potty train sooner
– diaper rashes are less frequent
– fewer “poopsplosions” (he wore disposables when we moved, and I know this is true)
– no running to the store for diapers when you run out

All in all, cloth might not be for everyone, but it is a decision I’m quite satisfied with. So far no complaints from Dad or Simon, so we won’t be trading them in anytime soon!

Need to convince someone that cloth diapers are a good option for your family?  I went into more detail in my “How” post.  If you have any questions I didn’t address, leave a comment!  Or send me a message at oatsandbeansandbabygrow@yahoo.com.

French Toast Muffins

What a beautiful weekend it has been!  Especially since my husband was home for a lot of it with 4 days off.  He had to work one night but, such is life.

Sunday morning was spent with friends, and I got to cook for them, so two big plusses there. I like having people over for brunch, it is a non-threatening way to have people who aren’t vegetarian sit down and eat food without them worrying about what they’re going to be served. Everyone can think of what a vegetarian would eat for breakfast.

But you wouldn’t think it would be French Toast Muffins, would you?

                                                       Cooling in the sun

I don’t know what came over me, I normally make waffles. But I was thinking I’d make a french toast casserole. You know, one of those things that sits in the fridge overnight? Then I thought, that might be good as muffins. A search led me to this recipe for French Toast Muffins.  One of our friends sat down, looked at them and said, “I love these!”, and I kind of gave him a look because I thought they were pretty unique, and couldn’t imagine he had them before.  He clarified that he loved them just by looking at them.  After eating one, he deemed himself correct.  I would make these again, they were that good.  A little dense, but moist enough to carry them.

Drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, they are probably even better than french toast. The husband is a big french toast fan, and let’s just say, these didn’t even make it a full day in our house.

Time to add Simon into this picture though. What could be worse than sitting around watching a bunch of adults eating delicious French Toast Muffins? Well not this baby.

 Looks like he is enjoying himself, no?

Okay, so he isn’t eating the muffins. But he is already well into finger-food land. We skipped the puree stage, and if you want to give it a name, we are doing baby-led weaning with him. Normally he just east fruits and veggies. But I had a little extra time and some extra baby ingredients laying around. We went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and Simon stayed with his grandparents.  He won’t take bottles, so we bought baby cereal to mix with breastmilk.  Didn’t work.  So we thought maybe he would just drink it from a sippy cup.  We bought some pear juice to make it a little more enticing.  Didn’t work.  So now we have a box of organic baby rice cereal and pear juice lying around. So I made him Baked Baby Rice Cereal Pancakes.

1/2 cup of baby cereal
1/2 cup flour (I used spelt)
1 cup 100% juice (pear, apple, prune, etc)

Mix it all together, bake it on a greased baking sheet at 350 for as long as it takes, around 20 minutes.  We greased our baking sheet with coconut oil. Babies need more fat than us full sized adults, so rather than just use cooking spray, why not add a little healthy fat for him?

Not so attractive. The flip side, you can see, are a nice golden brown, but upon tasting them..ick. As you can imagine from the ingredients, very bland. But, Simon is a baby, so I cut them into strips…

A little taste...


YUMMY!  He clearly dug these, big time. He’s had more since, and he can’t get enough.  He also has some fruit on that tray, and he’ll eat any fruit so far.

This is the first thing that I’ve actually made for him, so I’m pretty pleased that he liked it. It’s been really cool seeing him actually ingest more and more of what he puts in his mouth. Although one day (pretty far in the future), I’m sure he’ll enjoy some French Toast Muffins as well.

Bananas and Berries and…

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I’ve been in a bit of a dessert rut lately. Ice cream, cookies, repeat. I don’t even really like ice cream, but it keeps finding it’s way into our shopping cart. Then into my dessert bowl. And subsequently, into my belly. The scale this morning, seemed to notice. Since I’ve been breastfeeding Simon, I’ve either been losing or maintaining my weight without even trying. No longer.

Everyone knows the old standby healthy dessert. Fruit. Yes, fruit is delicious, fruit is sweet, but when it comes to dessert, it leaves you wanting more. Something silky, something creamy, something…from a spray can?

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Okay, if you haven’t tried Fat Free Redi Whip, you’re missing out, for real. It is 5 calories for 2 tablespoons (the while can is under 200 calories) and it somehow manages to taste yummy, and be a lot more rich and decadent than anything fat free should be. Layer that in a bowl with raspberries, and a sliced banana, and you have something way better than just plain old fruit.

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Just as satisfying as ice cream, plus it’s pretty darn good for you. Not a bad way to start our four day weekend!

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The Bon Jovi of Bedtime

“I feel like I am in a band, and I really want to play my own stuff, but you just keep screaming for me to play some Bon Jovi”

Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi!

My husband said that tonight as he was reading Simon his bedtime stories.

And what exactly is the Bon Jovi of bedtime stories?
Why, it is none other than “Cat”, by Matthew Van Fleet.

We know all the words.

He is also cool with some Van Halen:

And likes to end with Lynard Skynard (please Dad, please just read ‘Freebird’):

 

We read to Simon a lot. He gets at least 3 stories every morning, and the same at night.  His little library is growing quickly!

As you can see in the picture of him, he is 8 months old today! I don’t know where the time had gone, and I know everyone always says they grow fast, but I can’t believe he is already 2/3 of a year old. Its freaking me out a little. But, one of my favorite things to see is him developing his own preferences. He really does love ‘Cat’. His Dad was reading him another book, and he was fussing and squirming, and…as soon as he put that book down and opened up ‘Cat’, he was mesmerized. Just wait until he gets older and realizes that those furry tails are cool to pet and he can push the squeaky toy himself. It will clearly be timeless.

When I was pregnant, my dad asked me all the time if I had started reading to him yet, and what I was reading him. Apparently, my mom read to me before I was born, and they swear I recognized ‘Goodnight Moon’. Simon heard ‘Goodnight Moon’ and ‘The Cat in the Hat’ quite often while he was in utero.  He also listened to a lot of music, via my Lullabelly. I don’t think he heard Bon Jovi though, Dad must be playing that in the car when Mom isn’t around…