Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Classic Soup for the Fall and/or for the Sick

Declan has been at school for 3 days and has already brought home his first cold. I can't remember the last time he had a cold. Or any of us for that matter. The boys' sickness is usually limited to a high fever that goes away within a day or two – but rarely ever runny noses and coughing. So, as soon as I realized that this will not be going away over night I went to the store and stocked up on supplies! $100 later ... I now have an abundance of natural & herbal remedies along with several that are not so ... Drastic times people, drastic times.
• Kleenex until your nose falls off
• Saline solution
• a new nasal aspirator
• thermometer for not only home but the diaper bag as well
• antibacterial hand solution
• quick disinfecting wipes for the bathrooms, toys, and living area.
• baby vapor rub
• daily multivitamin
• 500mg of Vitamin C
• and a super duper container of Emergen-C packets for Keith
• garlic Garlic and GARLIC!
• Essential Oils :: Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus
• Chamomile tea
• Pregnancy tea
• cinnamon
• Local Raw honey
• humidifier

• AND the ingredients for one remedy that is a proven, tried and true, never gonna let you down, sickness must-do, Chicken Noodle Soup! Not from a box, not from a can, but good ole country cooking – homemade from scratch soup! SO! I kept Declan home from school this morning (because why get the rest of his class sick if it can be avoided - seriously people, keep your kids home) and we are going to do just that! So, Lion King is keeping the boys company while I get to work.

First things First - gather your ingredients and get that chicken in the oven!
Place your chicken (mine is 5 pounds) in a roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet and then stuff the bejeezes out of it with all of the lovelies you can gather in your kitchen. I went with lemon, garlic, onion, and thyme. After it is stuffed past capacity - drizzle with olive oil, and dust with salt & pepper. Nothing crazy, nothing special - just the classics.
Then pop in the oven at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and cook for another hour or so. After the hour you will have a golden brown and delicious roasted chicken.
Let it cool down a bit and then pick the dickens out of it. I separate white meat and dark meat out of habit but you don't need to :)
and for the love of all that's holy - DO NOT DISCARD CARCASS! While waiting for the chicken to cook I took the time to cut up my vegetables. Small diced for the soup (on left) and large chunks of veggies for the broth (on the right).
After you have picked the ever loving out of your chicken (and burned off your finger-tips in the process), throw the carcass into a pot with some olive oil and brown it on medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
[side note :: I'm starting to like the word carcass ... Carc.Ass. fun!]
Add your celery, carrots, onions, thyme, bay leaf, pepper corn & garlic to the pot. Remember : these don't have to be pretty... big pieces that can be easily pulled out are optimal.
Then let that sucker get good and simmered for an hour and a half. After your time is up ... remove your carcass and veggies.
Return broth to a simmer and add in your diced up celery, carrots and onions & of course I added some garlic. Garlic makes everything better.
After simmering your veggies in your delicious broth for a good hour or so they should be nice and soft! Now's the time to add your chicken (white and dark meats) to your soup, and get the noodles started. The hubs came home around this time and I got severely distracted so I stopped taking photos & just continued making my soup. ha! I read that the only noodles that should be used in a chicken noodle soup are Kluski noodles.
And because this was my first time at the rodeo I didn't want to stray too far. So where i would normally replace for a whole wheat version I went whole hog enriched Kluski noodle! I made half a bag of the noodles and added them per bowl rather than adding them all to the pot of soup because I wanted to freeze the soup that was left over. And if you've ever reheated a noodle soup - blech, no beuno. But it was perfect the way it turned out! Hubs and the boys gobbled it up no problemo!
Doesn't that look simply divine and everything you are looking for in a soup?! My thoughts exactly! Another helpful hint that I did follow were these all natural liquid flavor packets. I was against it in the beginning but after adding two little packets of all natural flavor enhancer - it did make a lot of delicious difference. You can find them in your chicken broth isle of your local grocery store.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP!

ROASTING CHICKEN:
• 1 Roasted Chicken (4lbs+)
• 1 onion
• 1 lemon
• 1 clove garlic
• Fresh thyme
• drizzle of olive oil
• salt and pepper

CHICKEN STOCK:
• 1 large chicken carcass :)
• 1 large Carrot, cut into big peices
• 1 large Celery Stalk, big pieces
• 1 Onion, big pieces
• 4 cloves of Garlic
• 2 sprigs of fresh Thyme
• 1 Bay Leaf
• 1 teaspoon of Black Peppercorns
• 12 cups of Water

FOR THE SOUP:
• 3 medium Carrots, sliced
• 3 medium Celery Stalks, sliced
• 2 Yellow Onion, diced
• 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
• 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
• 1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme
• Shredded Chicken of 1 roasted chicken
• 2 cups Kluski Noodles
• 1 teaspoon+ Sea Salt
• 2-4 Packets of Natural Liquid Stock Concentrate (optional but encouraged)

Directions:
Stuff your chicken with aromatics and roast your chicken at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, then back the oven down to 400 degrees for another hour or until cooked through. (a 6lbs chicken took an extra 20 minutes). After the chicken is done and cooled down a bit begin pulling the meat away from the bones. Put to the side or in the fridge until later.

In a large stock pot with the heat on medium, add in the chicken carcass and brown for 5-10 minutes or so. Then add in the roughly chopped carrot, celery, onion, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. Pour in 12 cups of water and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Cover and bring up to a simmer with the lid on, for one hour and thirty minutes or so.

After the hour and a half is up – drain the stock through a strainer and add back to pot. Discard the remaining bones/vegetables.

Bring the stock back up to a simmer and add in your carrots, celery and onions. Add in the sea salt, the black pepper and your thyme. Let simmer until the vegetables are tender.

When vegetables are soft ... Add your chicken to the soup (along with all natural flavor packets) and let simmer until chicken is warmed through. In the mean time, bring a smaller pot of water to boil. Season with sea salt and drop in the noodles. Cook according to package directions. When the noodles are finished, add into bowls and top with your soup – or add the noodles directly to your soup!

ENJOY! and if you're sick - feel better soon! :)

Based on a Chicken Noodle Soup recipe from Simply Scratch

Friday, June 28, 2013

Homemade Diaper Rash Ointment

Now that I have just about entered my second trimester and this third pregnancy is becoming more and more real I've been starting to think a lot about diapers and what I will need to stock up on. Because I didn't start cloth diapering with Cullen until he was 3 months old, I have never used cloth on a newborn so I will need a good number of those, as well as cloth diaper friendly rash ointment. Over the past three years i have sworn by Triple Paste Ointment for Diaper Rashes. I depended on it, it made me calm just to know it was there, and although it was rather expensive and wasn't natural by any means it was considered safe to put on those little tushies.

With Declan and his disposable diapers I slathered it on like spackle … the 'three finger dip' as my cousin Amy refers to it. His diaper rash would clear up in a matter of hours and I was over joyed. With Cullen and his cloth diapers, I did the same thing for the occasional diaper rash (which was fewer and farther between) but learned rather quickly what that triple paste would do to do my diapers. Short of just about destroying them, the triple paste would repel moisture from the diaper rather than absorb it, and ruin the cloth lining leaving a white residue behind. I wasn't ready to give up on my cloth for a pain in the butt diaper rash (pun intended) so leaving my beloved Triple Paste Cream behind I started looking into a Cloth Diaper safe rash ointment. While there are quite a few out there, I wasn't entirely sold on their effectiveness and I found it much more cost effective to create my own.

This diaper rash cream is not limited to the diaper rash variety, but helps rashes of all kinds including yeast rashes because of the tea tree oil which is a natural anti-fungal oil. I store mine in tiny lidded mason jars but if you buy baby food it's a great way to re-purpose all of those jars. Store it on your changing table, & make an extra batch to throw into your diaper bag!
Diaper Rash Ointment (recipe originally found on the examiner)

• 1/4cup of Coconut Oil
• 5 drops of tea tree oil
• 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
• 10 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil

~ add to your container of choice and mix it up. Put the lid on and it's ready to go!
ENJOY!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Making Bubble Bath!!


Not only do we feel like the only family in America without a dishwasher … we were also the only family without a bathtub. The family that owned our house before us, redid the main bathroom to only include a large bathroom stall (we don't know why!). I purchased a plastic little baby tub for when the boys were babies up until very recently, but it was awkward at best, and the boys have grown to the point where they can't fit in the tub together anymore. and of course ALL they want to do is play in the water Together. So, we had our bathroom redone a couple of weeks ago to accommodate a tub! This has been 5 years in the making (not sure what we were waiting for!) so, we are, of course, ecstatic with the results!! And the boys … in heaven. Do you know how much fun is in a bathtub? We play, we splash, we color on the walls with bath crayons, and the Bubbles. OH the bubbles! Bubble mustaches, bubble beards, bubble cookies and bubble tea … an endless array of bubble fun! Though, when going to the store to purchase bubbles the options are either limited, toxic, or organic but Super Expensive. So, we here at the House of Trout decided to make our own!

I was happy to find out that making your own bubbles is so stinking easy! I don't think I will ever buy bubble bath again … and you can make it whatever flavor you want! I tend to stick with your traditional lavender scents when it gets closer to bedtime … but I can imagine when the boys are sick and need some eucalyptus to help with congestion. Or peppermint to invigorate the senses if we adults are feeling tired or a bit rundown. I can't wait to experiment! But, for my first batch I went classic lavender and it smells wonderful!

Homemade Bubble Bath Recipe!


• 1 cup of mild shampoo (i used burt's bees bc I had some on hand) or 100% castor oil soap would work well too.
• 1/3 cup 100% vegetable glycerin or liquid glycerin. I found Vegetable glycerin at whole foods!
• 2-3 tablespoons of Water
• and 10-20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil or your favorite bath time scent!

::Mix it all together in a handy-dandy mason jar (of course!) and Shake well before adding to your running water ~ Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Drink Whole Milk! & educate your pedatrician!


My oldest son, Declan, has just recently turned three years old! And with all children's birthday milestones comes the annual well visit with your pediatrician. According to the doctors and their handy-dandy charts his vitals are great, his height, weight, and general growth is great - everything perfect and right on target. (a little braggy but as a mother you are always thrilled to hear how well your child is doing! :) But in our doctor's closing statements we were advised that Declan can now switch to low fat milk, it was even written on their visit handout … and I had to disagree. I understand that there is an epidemic of childhood obesity, and of course, I sympathize and would love to protect my children against obesity that could lead to diabetes, heart disease, etc. But I'm pretty sure that it's not the milk that is causing a vast amount of children to be overweight. I, likewise, told our doctor that we drink organic and local Whole Milk, not only because it tastes better, but also because it is much less processed. I listened to her points, she listened to mine, and in the end we parents are going to do what we think is best. But it got me thinking/researching and it appears that while organic Whole Milk is healthier than regular store bought, there is actually something even better …

First things first, there are several reasons why we should drink Whole Milk instead of low fat dairy products. Most important point being that our bodies can't absorb the calcium or digest milk proteins without the natural fats found in milk. Secondly, Vitamins A & D are fat soluble so they can't be absorbed from milk if the fat has been skimmed off (This included fortified skim milk, your body can't absorb the vitamins if there is no fat in the milk). Science has recently revealed that fat-free and low-fat diets will not prevent against heart disease. In fact, eating saturated fats has shown to raise your good cholesterol. And lastly, (my favorite new discovery) is that you want to drink non homogenized whole milk. Our whole foods carries local organic milk in glass bottles and sometimes when they don't have the regular (homogenized) Whole Milk, I will purchase the cream line whole milk. But as soon as the regular whole milk is back in stock I switch back, this is apparently not correct. Homogonized whole milk is Not whole milk. Homogenization is crushing the milk fat so that it is too small to rise to the cream layer. It allows the dairy industry to a) package milk in a more convenient, disposable container instead of traditional glass. and b) allows commercial dairy companies to calculate, and remove the fat from the milk and then add it back in at their desired proportion. Homogenized whole milk has had it's fat removed and injected back in at an amount less that what appears in nature. (3.25% as opposed to raw milk with milk fat between 4-5.5%)

Not only is it important to purchase non homogenized whole milk, but it is doubly important to by organic and local if you can. I know that that ticket price is a little bit of a shocker at almost double the cost of your standard grocery store gallon of milk. But when raising children, especially girls, regular milk is full of growth hormones, harmful pesticides, and antibiotics, where as organic is grass fed, free to roam, and everything in the cow's environment is harm-free. To read more on the differences between Organic and Regular Milk please visit Care2 and this article on HubPages. They are a wealth of information and can help you in your decision to choose Organic and Whole Milk products. So, at the end of the day, while I understand why the pediatricians recommend switching to low fat milk – I don't believe that it is the best choice for ourselves or our children.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Protecting Children from the Sun!


While your skin does need a bit of sunshine to absorb ample amounts of vitamin D, you should not be exposing yourself to the sun to the point of burnt. And with young children (or teenagers) that is a very fine line. I "try" and keep the kids in the shade or with a hat on at all times, but that doesn't keep All the sun away. I've considered making my own sunscreen but it is not water-proof and you would need to reapply several times a day. With my two little ones I'm lucky if I get them pinned down and lotion'd up ONCE before they are running out the door. So, while I Do plan on getting some zinc oxide and trying a little D.I.Y. Sunblock for myself, until I can experiment with it and see just how protective it is, and how tolerant my kids are of having sunblock put on them several times a day … we'll stick to store bought. But what kind??

In purchasing a sunblock form a store there are three important things to look for and avoid …

Retinyl Palmitate can be found in 1/3 of all sunscreens and is said to slow skin's aging, but with an increased amount of Vitamin D it is suspected to speed the growth of skin tumors.
Oxybenzone, known as a hormone disruptor, this hazardous ingredient has scientists warning parents not to use it because of the affect it has on children due to toxicity concerns and has been linked to low birth weight in babies.
Spray or Powder Sunscreens should be avoided due to the danger of inhaling harmful nanoparticles of the sunscreen. Apply a cream form of sunscreen and limit the risk.

In our house we lend towards the organic and all natural sunscreens. Two of our favorites are BabyGanics (affordable at $11.99 per 6oz bottle) and a personal favorite - Badger Balm Anti-Bug Sunscreen (a bit more expensive at $17 for 3oz bottle) My favorite thing about the Badger Balm is that it's got Everything going for it :: Safe, effective, Certified Natural & Organic and best part - it repels bugs at the same time! And if you are a "lake person" like I am, keeping the bugs at bay is uber important! But BabyGanics is perfect for backyard fun in the sun to keep the sun off of your back. I would love to hear what tried and true sunblocks you've used on your babies or if you've made your own! and Remember :: 'Pale' is the new 'tan'! ;)

Keeping the Mosquitos Bites Away!


Maybe my kids are just unusually sweet (ha!) but if there is a mosquito within a mile of where they are playing it will inevitably find them. And while mosquito bites are not enjoyable for anybody – children tend to have an especially tough time because they just don't know When. To. Stop. Scratching. From the moment I put them into their bed at night until they wake up the next morning … those small little ittybitty bites turn into red, painful, open wounds. So, I try as often as I can to stop them BEFORE they get to this point.

To rid the yard, porches and decks of biting insects, the boys and I have put together a big beautiful planter in front of our house filled with mosquito repelling plants. As well as several small planters wherever we could. A few Great plants that you can find at any farmer's market or even a home depot that will not only help to get those pesky bugs under control but can also be used in the kitchen (bonus!) ::
• lavender
• eucalyptus
• citronella
• maidenhair fern
• Geranium
• thyme
• lemongrass
• Rosemary

This foliage will not all together cure the mosquito epidemic that is unavoidable in the summer months but it will help considerably. So, what to do when you or your family get those irritating little bumps... Most anyone will tell you to reach for the cortisone cream or calamine lotion - but since it's always better to turn to the natural way of healing before hitting the pharmacy where the creams and lotions are packed with steroids and antihistamines try a few home remedies first. The classic oatmeal bath (just grind up 1/3cup of oats) is always a winner. Have your child soak in an oatmeal bath for 15-20 minutes then pat the skin dry with a towel. At this point you can dry dabbing a bit of vinegar or lavender essential oil on the affected spot to dry it out and relieve the itch. A couple other options are chamomile baths (just a few teabags in the bathtub), aloe vera gel, and witch hazel.
Good luck with your bug bites and I'd love to hear what works for you and your family!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sidewalk paint! Non-toxic and Homemade.




Now that the weather is warmer and we're outside more doing outside things – my boys love to play with sidewalk chalk. And by "play" I mean "eat" … the little ones will put just about anything into their mouths and that includes : crayons, colored pencils, markers of all kinds, and last but not least, sidewalk chalk. So whether I'm gardening, mowing the grass, or sunning myself with a nice book and a cocktail (ha!) I like to know that the boys are playing, having fun and creating masterpieces on the concrete - not ingesting them. So this mama came across a craft on Pinterest for Sidewalk Paint. And We LOVE it! I used sponges instead of paint brushes and let the boys go to town … and I didn't have to worry about my babies chewing on the chalk ~ not to mention that painting is So much more fun than drawing!

Sidewalk Paint (per color)
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 corn starch
• several drops of food coloring

~ mix together water and corn starch, then add food coloring! SO EASY!

I cut up sponges to paint with, and i think next time I'll cut the sponges into shapes and let them "stamp" the paint on the pavement rather than sponge it on. Of course the painting turned to science experiment when they started mixing up colors - but the paint is non-toxic, homemade, cheap, and fun! Looking forward to those 90 degree days when I can set them out in their bathing suits and let them go nuts! :)

... because this tends to happen ...