Monday, February 25, 2013

Mama's Yogurt

A few years ago I heard someone say they made their own yogurt. I thought that was just crazy cool and probably something that I couldn't pull off. During my pregnancy, I started drinking smoothies daily for breakfast and my main ingredient was Greek (organic) yogurt. If you haven't priced this lately...well its just insane! I was spending almost $2.00 a day on yogurt (thats $60 a month). I decided I would HAVE to pull off this homemade yogurt if I wanted to continue my smoothie drinking. I found a couple of different recipes on pinterest and around the internet. It only took me a few times to really master it and have an end product that I was happy with (actually more satisfied than what I was buying).

Since Dino eats yogurt too and needs full fat, I have been buying the large (32oz) Stoneyfield Organic Yogurt (Whole Milk) and using some of that to make my lower-fat Greek version. I can usually get about 48oz (about 6 cups) from my recipe.
I have had several people ask me how to make it, so I wanted to share my recipe and tips.
What you will need:
A crock pot
1/2 gallon of milk (I use non-fat or 1%)
6 oz of yogurt (any kind will do...I typically use just plain organic)
3/4 cup dry powdered milk
Vanilla extract (optional)
*Since making yogurt takes several hours, one of the most important tips is to start late afternoon. I have found around 5:30ish works the best for our schedule.
What to do:
  • Pour milk into the crock pot and turn on high. The milk needs to heat to 180 degrees (which takes my crock pot about 2 1/2 hours).
  • Once the milk has reached 180 degrees, unplug the crock pot and allow the milk to cool to around 115 degrees.
  • Once the milk has cooled, add in the yogurt and the powdered milk and stir until completely blended.
  • Wrap the crock pot in a towel and place in oven (make sure oven is OFF) overnight. 8-12 hours in the oven seems to be optimal, so the timing should work out for it to be ready when you wake up.

The next morning...
  • At this point the yogurt is ready. If you are like me and prefer a thicker yogurt, there are a few more steps.
  • Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl to catch the whey (the liquid that comes off the yogurt).
  • Scoop the yogurt into the lined strainer and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (allowing this time to cool and strain will make the yogurt very easy to remove from the cheesecloth).
  • Remove yogurt out of cheesecloth (sometimes it just falls off and sometimes I have to scrape it with a spatula).
  • Vanilla can now be added if desired (about 1 Tbsp). The yogurt is also great with fresh fruit or preserves.

What about the whey?
I can't stand to throw anything away! The whey can be used in several different ways. My favorite thing to do with it is to "water" my plants with it. The nutrients are great to help the plants grow and thrive. Here are some other great ideas!

Happy yogurt making!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Omnivore Moves to the Country

OK, I really slacked this time! Well, can you really call it slacking when there is a move (with a baby) involved? We have been in our new place for about a week- just in time for my birthday and Christmas! December is typically a crazy hectic month, and this year was no exception! We packed up our house, found a new place, moved 100 miles, unpacked, unpacked some more, and then some more. Two days before Christmas, we realized we had not purchased one gift yet! Needless to say, our lives have been chaotic lately.

100 miles south landed us in a small country town. Away from Whole Foods Market. Away from the organic groceries at Kroger. Away from Target. Away from the city life. I ventured out to grocery shop a few days ago. Exploring new grocery stores is one of my favorite things to do (really)! Here, you can either shop at a locally owned grocery, Piggly Wiggly, or Walmart. I was very excited about the locally owned option, so that's where I headed! I strapped little Dino in the Ergo and off we went to explore. Although I could not find one organic food in the entire store and everyone stared at me as though I was an alien wearing Dino in the Ergo, I did find some awesome deals on local produce (example- 4 lbs sweet potatoes for $1). I actually got so excited about the sweet potatoes that I loaded the plastic bag too full. It broke and the potatoes went everywhere! After picking them all up and rebagging, I quickly left the produce section. Since I was unable to find half the things on my list, I (reluctantly) headed over to Walmart. It went pretty good and I was able to find some of my "normal foods". I think next week I will drive to the next city about 20 miles away to shop at Kroger.

Through all the craziness, Dino has really come a long way with his eating skills. He has mastered straw drinking, can easily pick up very small pieces, and refused his first food- asparagus! He loves food more and more everyday. He gets beyond excited at the sight of food. His absolute favorite is still sweet potatoes (the reason I loaded up on them at the store). I tried a new recipe yesterday with him that was a big hit! It was simply 2 eggs beaten with a mashed banana then cooked like a pancake. We have also bought a few of the baby food pouches that he can drink through the straw. They are pricey but very convenient.

Since they don't have to be kept cold, I have been keeping one in the diaper bag in case we end up somewhere that doesn't really have options for him. I am finding the most challenging part of BLW when eating out or at someone else's house is avoiding salt. It's in everything (stay tuned for post on sodium).

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We are excited for the new year and all the changes it will entail...and hopefully more frequent blogging!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wheezy Fishy

"You are giving your baby salmon?!?" That's what I heard the day after we decided to let Dino share our salmon with us at dinner. Honestly, I didn't even question it when I gave it to him, but after others questioned it, I sort of panicked! So of course I hurried to Google to make sure Dino wasn't going to have a crazy reaction and die! I was quickly reassured he was going to be ok and apparently my search was timely. A new study was just published November 12th in the journal, Pediatrics entitled, "Fish Consumption in Infancy and Asthma-like Symptoms at Preschool Age."

So according to this study, not only was the fish ok for Dino to eat, but we may have decreased his liklihood of asthma! The study was done in the Netherlands with over 7000 children. The results showed that when fish was introduced between the age of 6 and 12 months, there was a significant decrease in asthma-like symptoms compared to prior to 6 months and after 12 months of age. NBC's news report (When Babies Eat Fish) stated, "Between 40 percent and 45 percent of parents of children who did not eat fish until after their first birthdays said their children wheezed, compared to 30 percent of children who first ate fish when they were between six and 12 months old. That, the researchers said, works out to about a 36 percent decreased risk of wheezing for the children who first had fish between the ages of six months and one year."

Of course, this is only one study, so more research should be done to verify these findings. Meanwhile, we will continue to include fish in Dino's diet while I continue trusting my instincts of what he should and shouldn't eat.

Spoons, Spoons Everywhere!

Oops! I must confess that I have been a slacker lately with my blogging! Don't worry, little Dino has been eating- I just haven't been documenting as well. We have tried all sorts of new things lately! Last night he even got to taste some crab legs. His favorite food by far has been mashed cauliflower. I am not sure if its because of the taste of the cauliflower or the garlic or because he gets to use a spoon. A few weeks ago, we went to purchase a few spoons and noticed most were sold in large packs. We were unsure why, but bought them anyway. We now have a theory why you might need more than one spoon at a meal.
He lets us know he's ready for another bite by throwing his spoon on the floor.
Such a natural with using the spoon!

So, the mashed cauliflower. It is not only Dino's favorite, but his parents are loving it too. It is such a nice substitution (much healthier) to regular mashed just requires a little more clean up than other foods. I would highly recommend anyone trying it! Here's the recipe:

Little Dino's Cauliflower Mash


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste (no salt for baby's portion)



1. Boil a large pot of water over high heat.
2. Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done.
3. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower very dry between several layers of paper towels.
4. In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor (I used our Kitchenaid stand mixer), puree the hot cauliflower with the Parmesan, garlic, butter and pepper until almost smooth.

After a dinner of cauliflower, avocado, and crab legs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CPR and Safey Course "Date Night"

Last week Dino's grandma came and kept him while Dino's daddy and I had an "Infant CPR and Safety Course Date Night". Well, besides the frozen custard we picked up on the way home, I guess it doesn't truly classify as a date night, but it was a rare time alone without Dino. Although we realized that Dino has about a 1% chance of surviving childhood (at least that's how we felt afterwords), this course was well worth our time! We were one of the few couples in the classroom that was not currently pregnant, and I am not quite sure how these ladies coped with the stressful thoughts this class provoked!! We learned what to do if little Dino starts choking as well as how to perform CPR if ever needed. We also learned all about infant safety. Needless to say, our conversation the entire way home (and the rest of the night) revolved around everything we need to do to "baby-proof" our home and keep little Dino alive and well.

Ok, now to the food part! We had a really great eating week. Dino is really progressing with his eating skills and gagging very little now. He absolutely loves food and has not refused anything yet! Our independent little Dino tends to get pretty frustrated when he cannot get the food to his mouth and then again when all the food is gone. He has mastered picking up the food and bringing it to his mouth, but he is still working on opening up his hand to release the food.

Dino tried several new foods this week including salmon, butternut squash, peppers, meatballs, eggs, pickles, lemon, apples, tomato sauce, blueberries, meatloaf, and spinach.

When we went to a sandwich shop this week, we thought we would let him taste the pickle to see his reaction. Surprisingly (well not really), he loved it and did not want us to take it away (I was concerned with too much sodium in it). Then Dino's daddy decided it would also be great to see his reaction to lemon, so we offered him a lemon slice. He definitely made a funny face, but he wanted to keep eating it.

We will continue to try several new colorful foods this week! Here's a few of our dinners for the week:

 Baked chicken with sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts
Salmon with spaghetti squash, Italian spinach, and cornbread
Pesto chicken pasta with green beans and mixed veggies
Tuna patties with cauliflower mashed potatoes and black eyed peas

A few snacks/lunches include:

Spinach, cheddar and dill quiche muffins
Baked apples

Monday, October 29, 2012

Color Your Plate

Meal planning. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes its just another chore to be completed for the week. After a few years of going to the grocery store and wondering around the aisles trying to figure out what we should eat that week, spending too much money, and throwing away food that went bad before it could be eaten, my husband and I came to the realization of just how beneficial meal planning can be! It saves money and time, discourages eating out, decreases food waste, and encourages a healthier diet.

Our priorities when meal planning for our family include:
1. Making use of what we already have on hand
2. Making the most cost effective choices
3. Limiting processed foods (especially high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring/flavors and choosing mostly whole foods- sometimes organic (more on that later)
4. Trying out new foods and recipes
5. Buying produce that is in season (and local if available)

Now that we have Dino, I will add another priority to the list. #6. Including foods of all colors to ensure a variety of nutrients are offered throughout the week.

To do this, I have made a list of common fruits and veggies in each "color group." We will choose at least one food out of each color to include on our weekly menu. This will be an easy system to include Dino in as he gets a little older. Since we all eat meals together, this will require my husband and I to try some new foods as well! Our menu this week includes:

Red: Tomato sauce, red apple, red pepper
Green: Spinach, green pepper, green apple
White: Banana, onion
Yellow/Orange: Butternut squash, sweet potato
Blue/Purple: Blueberries

Below is the list I created for us to use.

Color Your Plate!

Lycopene, anthocyanins

Lutein, Folate, Indoles
 Allicin, potassium 
Carotenoids, vitamin A and C, folate
Red apples

Red peppers

Green peppers

Butternut squash

Green beans
Red potatoes



Green onions
Purple grapes








Pink Grapefruit



Red Grapes

Brussel Sprouts






Yellow peppers

Green apples




Yellow squash

Sweet potatoes

 LycopeneReduces risk of several types of cancer (especially prostate). 
 AnthocyaninsAntioxidant- protects cells from damage as well as keeping our heart healthy. Reduces risk of stroke, cancer, and heart disease.
 LuteinHelps to keep eyes healthy- reduces risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. 
 FolateReduces risk of birth defects. 
 IndolesHelps to protect against cancer. 
 AllicinCan lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. 
 PotassiumLowers blood pressure and cholesterol as well as reducing risk of stroke. 
 CarotenoidsReduces risk of cancer, heart disease, and can improve immune system function.  Can decrease risk of macular degeneration (which can lead to blindness). Also, good for your heart- may reduce chance of heart attack and death.
 Vitamin AHelps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, tissues, membranes and skin. It also promotes good vision- especially in low light. 
 Vitamin CProtection against immune system deficiencies, heart disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mama Called the Doctor and the Doctor Said...

As I began my research on baby led weaning (BLW), I read several moms talking about their babies gagging a lot in the first few weeks of learning how to eat solid foods. I had already accepted the idea that Dino would gag and make terrible noises, but this was normal and how he would learn to eat. I watched videos of other babies gagging so I would know what to expect. We signed up for infant CPR and safety class so we would know what to do if he started choking. I was prepared. I thought.

On the menu for the evening was steamed carrots along with the Southern traditional dish of chicken and dumplings. He was loving the taste of the carrots, and then it happend! Gagging noises- eyes watering- Dino crying-Mommy crying (almost). He then worked the carrot out and all was great again. This happend a few more times, but it did not stop him from eating. Later on that night, he started making this crazy noise like something was caught in his windpipe. He would do it every few minutes and started getting his mom and dad a little (ok... a lot) concerned, so we called the doctor. We described what was happening and she said it sounded ok and not to worry about it but just keep an eye on him...which means no sleep for mom and dad! He did fine through the night, but in the morning he started making the terrible noise again. We made the executive decision to take him to the doctor to get everything checked out.

Dino's dad took him on in to see the doc. While waiting to hear the doctor's verdict, crazy thoughts were running around in my head. "I should have never fed him this way. I am going to have to take my blog down. I will just breastfeed him forever and never give him real food. Will I go to jail if something happens to him since I chose to feed him a not "normal" way? Why do I do weird things like this??" Finally the phone rang. Dino's dad was calling with the news from the doc. Apparently we have a "super healthy little boy" that is learning to play with his voice. What?? Seriously?? The doctor said he probably got a reaction when he made the crazy noise ( would she know that?) and kept on doing it. So now what?

Back to plan. He had broccoli and sweet potatoes last night and all was well. My sanity is slowing returning.