Feeling the Burn

heartburn

If you have ever suffered from heartburn, then you know just how uncomfortable and painful it can be. Heartburn during pregnancy is no different. With my first pregnancy I started getting heartburn sometime in the middle of my second trimester. It was pretty bad (my son did come out with a glorious full head of hair though – old wives tale or what?). And, for someone who didn’t even know what heartburn felt like prior to this it was, at times, unbearable. Little did I know that it was gonna be nothing compared to the heartburn I’ve experience this time around.

 

The heartburn started much earlier and has escalated to “severe” status. And I mean a constant, unrelenting, sleeping pretty much sitting up severe kind of situation. How do you deal with this kind of heartburn? I’ve definitely had to come up with some much more fancy relief techniques than popping some tums and avoiding coffee.

 

It would definitely help to understand the reasons behind pregnancy heartburn, for starters. For those of us in the baby making way, heartburn can have some different triggers than for the average joe.

  1. Hormones.

    Yay! Another reason to love those hormones. Progesterone is responsible for relaxing muscles in your uterus, but in the meantime also relaxes the muscles that keep that stomach acid where it belongs. So, it’s much more likely to just back up into your esophagus whenever it feels like.

  2. Sluggish digestion.

    Progesterone is also to blame for this one (along with a large uterus blocking things up). This can cause back up of stomach acids.

  3. You are carrying a baby inside you (obviously).

    The larger the baby gets (and therefore your uterus), the more likely it is to cause you all sorts of discomforts. When it comes to heartburn specifically, it can mean baby + large uterus pushing on your stomach just pushes the acid up and out.

 

So, as you can see sometimes avoiding heartburn is probably just impossible. I mean how do you prevent a growing uterus from pushing stomach acids up? There are some things you can do to at least help prevent it from happening as much as possible and (hopefully) keeping it from reaching severe levels.

 

I have found after dealing with it twice that the general “how to avoid heartburn” guidelines are less than effective during pregnancy, but they do have some merit.

 

  1. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn. I’m sure you’ve heard the list before (coffee, citrus, chocolate, spicy food, etc), and this is only been slightly true for me. Some of these foods do definitely trigger heartburn, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been able to scarf down all the chocolate and spicy food in the world and feel fine. I would adjust this recommendation to – figure out what your triggers are and avoid them. On the flip side, I find some foods help to ease the burn. Bananas work wonders for me. So, also, figure out what those are as well!
  2. Don’t eat big meals. If you are super pregnant, you probably aren’t anyways. But, this definitely helps. Several small, more snack like meals a day help keep the burn away. I actually find if I get too hungry heartburn starts to creep into the situation, so this helps from both ends.
  3. Stay upright as much as possible. That includes while sleeping. I sleep with a few pillows to keep me propped up. This helps IMMENSLY.
  4. Eat something soothing close to bedtime. This goes against everything they will tell you about heartburn! But, if you’re anything like me you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night hungry, so this has you covered in more areas than one. Like I said bananas work great for me, so close to bedtime, I eat a banana and have a glass of water. This seems to keep me from getting middle of the night heartburn and waking up hungry. Win/win if you ask me.
  5. Take natural digestive enzymes. You can general get these at a health food store or any pharmacy really, but things like papaya and pineapple contain digestive enzymes that help you digest faster and more efficiently. If you don’t want to buy the pills just eat some papaya!
  6. Take probiotics. This is in no way a fix it quick solution but more of a long term, mild helper. Probiotics = better digestive = less heartburn.
  7. Stomach soothing teas can also provide some relief. Ginger and chamomile are both good at helping keep your stomach acids calm.

 

I find that trial and error is the best way to deal with heartburn. Find what works and go with it. Everybody is different. I definitely find myself popping tums once in awhile. Severe and constant heartburn can cause permanent damage to your esophagus so, if at the end of the day you are still severely suffering after trying it all, I suggest talking to your doctor/midwife.

 

~ Written by Nicole

Crab Apple Pepper Jelly

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My neighbour has a crab apple tree, and he told me I was welcome to pick apples if I wanted some. When it comes to crab apples, they are pretty much good for one thing – canning. Crab apples have excellent natural pectin, and set up to a gorgeous jelly!
When I first made this recipe, I put it into pint jars, and ended up with only 3 jars. So I recommend to use the 4 oz jar, so that you can give more as gifts, or enjoy it in smaller batches. Or just to feel like you didn’t work your butt off for 3 jars.
Homemade jelly makes a great gift, paired with a bottle of white wine and some nice crackers. It says “I love you enough to slave over a hot stove AND buy you wine.”
This jelly isn’t fiery hot. If you want more spice, use hotter peppers (not more peppers, just the hotter variations). I used banana type peppers and ended up with a full flavoured, but very mild jelly. Colin said it was good, but he would have loved for me to use something hotter. Some varieties are jalapeño, serrano, or habanero if you are brave enough. I’m not. I am, admittedly, a total wuss about spicy food.
This jelly is delicious with cream cheese on a cracker. I’m sure it is great on chicken, or other uses, but I will likely eat all of it on a Triscuit with cream cheese.

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Crab Apple Pepper Jelly:
This recipe makes 6 of the 4oz jar size (that’s the smallest one)
2 lbs crab apples
1 1/2 cups water
Red wine vinegar, as required
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup yellow or orange bell pepper
1/3 cup hot pepper (as desired for flavour and heat level)

Instructions:
1. In a Dutch oven, bring crab apples and water to a simmer. Make sure to remove stems. I also cut them in half to speed up the cooking time.
2. Cook until the crabapple are very soft.
3. Line a colander with cheesecloth (the more you fold over the cheesecloth, the clearer your jelly will be). Place colander above a bowl (preferably glass).
4. Pour the crabapple mixture into the colander and weigh down with a plate and heavy can on top.
5. Let stand until dripping stops. Discard the pulp.
6. Pour collected juice into a liquid measure. Add enough vinegar to make 3 cups.
7. Combine in a saucepan with sugar.
8. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
9. Add peppers and boil for 8-10 minutes or until set. (How do I know if it is set? Insert link)
10. Stir for 7 minutes to avoid floating peppers.
11. Pour jelly into hot, sterilized 4oz canning jars.
12. Seal with 2 piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (adjust as required for elevation).
13. Let the processed jars sit for 24 hours undisturbed. Check for the seal to stay down when pressed prior to storing.
Enjoy!
This recipe is originally from food.com

 

 

The Mush Ends Here!

I couldn’t wait for my oldest to start solids! I was sure it would mean longer stretches of sleep and who can argue with that right? My only concern was the amount of work that seemed ahead. I had friends who spent entire days, roasting, pureeing and freezing ice cube sized portions of baby food for their little ones, and honestly, it didn’t look like a lot of fun to me!

When my daughter was about 5 months old, I came across a pin on good ‘ol pinterest about “Baby Led Weaning”. Intrigued, I clicked on the pin and it linked me to the book: “Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater” by Gill Rapley. I pinned it onto my own board and a friend of mine commented that I should definitely look into it because she used baby-led weaning for all three of her kids and LOVED IT. I ended up e-mailing her, and asked her a few questions and when we were ready started using the method and LOVED it. I was so happy that I didn’t have to invest in a food processor, and those ice cube trays or those little glass food containers! It was also WAY less work .

I’m certainly no expert on the matter, but I do have a little bit of experience now that our second is ten months old and eating solids. So, how does it work? At about six months, most babies are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food, in other words – no more mushy peas! Hooray! You just hand them the same food that you’re eating in an appropriately sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. (But they do…trust me). That’s all there is to it! No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no food mill, no expensive organic baby rice, or weird fruit and vegetable combos in pre-packaged baby food jars! Just you, your baby and the food that you’ve prepared for the entire family! Because, let’s face it, the more time you spend preparing baby food, the less likely they are to eat it, right? As I mentioned before, I have friends who would spend days steaming, roasting and freezing food for their babies, only to have them refuse it *insert bitter tone.* The best part of Baby-led weaning is that there is no pressure on your little one to eat. There really is no opportunity for mealtimes to become a battleground, so issues such as food refusal and food phobias are much less likely. I think it’s because there is no such thing as baby or kid food anymore. Everyone eats the same thing, so you don’t have to worry about introducing “real food” when your child is 4 or whatever. This method respects babies’ decisions what to eat or what not to eat and when to stop eating, so there is no need for battles to ensue. I LOVE IT!

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The question I get the most from parents who are interested in baby-led weaning is: “So, what do you feed your baby?“

To help you out, here is what we had to eat today at our house:

Breakfast

  • Toast, yogurt, granola, fruit

Snack

  • Fruit, crackers, cheese

Lunch

  • Soup, quesadillas, cut up peppers and Cucumbers

Supper

  • Beef and vegetable stir fry, rice

Dessert

  • Fruit

For our baby, we just cut the food into smaller pieces and allow her to pick what and how much to eat. Remember, when babies first start to eat solids, they probably won’t eat too much (unless they’re like my girls who practically gave up nursing as soon as we starting giving them “the good stuff”). Your little one decides how much solids they can handle and then supplement the rest of their nutritional requirements with milk (breast or formula).

Here are a few tips to help you along:

1. Forget baby food. It was really hard for me to wrap my mind around this at first, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to give your baby so called “baby food”. My oldest daughter’s first meal was chicken, potatoes and peas. She LOVED it. We just cut the chicken into finger-sized pieces and she ate it. (She didn’t have teeth until she was 10 months old and still managed to eat it just fine!) My second daughter’s first meal was spaghetti.

2. Expect a mess. Put a few pieces of food (not too much food) on your baby’s tray and let them go to town!

3. Relax. With our first daughter, I was really nervous about choking. Remember, gagging is ok. It is a safety response to prevent choking. Babies seem to have very sensitive gagging reflexes, and that‘s good!

4. You know your baby best! Remember that!!!

So, what do you think? Will you give it a try? I promise if you do, you’ll love it!!

~Written by Andrea

About Face – All-Natural Face Cleansing

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Skin. It seems such a trivial subject. If you are one of the “lucky” ones, you have a clear complexion and rarely think of it. But if your skin has any amount of issues: acne, uneven tone or texture, dryness, oiliness, and the list goes on, you probably think about it a lot! In the morning when you first get ready, each time you are in front of a mirror throughout the day, washing up at the end of the day. If you have major skin problems, it has likely led to self-consciousness, embarrassment, and in some cases even depression.

I wish I could tell you I have the miracle 5 second cure. I don’t. Skin is complicated and everyone’s is different. What I do have is an arsenal of natural options and tips to help you clear up most issues. It may take some playing around and testing what makes your skin happy. In the long run, it is so worth it, I promise!

At the top of this post are 2 photos of me “before.” This was a little ways into my natural skin routines, and let me tell you, it has been much worse in the past. I only show you my photos “au naturel” because I love you. This is filter and edit free (so are my “after” shots)!

I had never had bad acne, just the odd breakout, and small whiteheads along my forehead. I have always followed the more is more approach to skin care. Scrub twice a day, use toner, exfoliate a couple times a week. Now, this in and of itself is not the issue, per se, but rather the products used to achieve it.

One stupid decision to try a certain highly televised acne brand left me with cystic breakouts along my jawline. They were nasty to look at, impossible to cover, and hurt like the dickens. Enter a dermatologist. He informed me said acne routine was too strong for my skin, and prescribed a topical gel with an unpronounceable name. It stung like crazy, but seemed to dry up a few zits. But the breakouts kept bubbling up, and I knew it was more than just the result of me being so “proactive.”

A few years later, and I was in full Eco Housewife mode. So wouldn’t it make sense to find out the natural options for my skin?
I tried the trusty health food store, but wasn’t 100% satisfied. I was sure there was an easier option. Enter the Internet. Apparently there is thing thing called the “OCM” or “Oil Cleansing Method.” Here is the general idea: facial soaps over-dry the skin, irritating it and leaving it susceptible to contamination and causing it to over-produce sebum, therefore breaking you out. Similar to the scalp in Nicole post here, all I needed to do was help restore my skin’s natural moisture balance and it would look after itself!

The other tenant of OCM is that like dissolved like. What this means is that oil dissolves oil. So using oil to “wash” your face actually helps to break down the clogged and hardened oil breaking out your skin. I think of it like paint – if you have ever used oil-based paint, there are two ways to clean your brushes – stripper or oil – which one damages your brush more? The chemical stripper! The oil will not only clean your brush, but soften and condition it!
Now, since this post gets into more than just OCM, I will direct you to two websites that lay out the “how-to” beautifully: Crunchy Betty and This Page.

So – did the OCM fix it all? Not all at once. I have to admit that it is time consuming and on days when I hadn’t worn makeup, I often skipped it. So I stopped washing my face. I left it alone. If it felt dry, I used a little of my OCM mixture as moisturizer (this works wonderfully by the way!), and I use a little toner in the evening to keep it happy and remove excess dirt. Once a week I exfoliate with a honey scrub to remove any dull, dry skin, and that is it! And my skin has never looked better! The photos of my extremely improved skin are at the bottom. (Recipes for all of this goodness below)

But here is the clincher – I am eating healthy! The husband and I are majorly cutting back on grains and white carbs, we have all but eliminated processed food, and also stopped eating dairy.
WHAT? NO DAIRY? I know, I know. But here’s the thing – my naturopath long ago discovered that I am allergic to dairy (casein, specifically) and it was causing my runny nose, earaches, digestive upset, and quite possible BREAKOUTS. So if you have chronic acne, I highly suggest a visit to your local naturopath, as you may have an allergy that is the underlying issue.
Ok-back to diet. Since we cleaned up our act, I break out less, and I notice that I am more prone to breaking out on our “cheat” days. So as much as I miss ice cream, I love being able to put on less makeup before heading out in the morning. And I love that my skin care routine is really so simple!
So here are my personal concoctions – so easy to make and not expensive at all (the oils can be pricey at first but a little goes a looooong way!)

Aubrey’s OCM Mixture:
2 parts castor oil
1 part sweet almond oil
5-6 drops tea tree oil (the husband and I like the extra zit-fighting power here)
*all oils are organic and high quality – this is going on your face, right?!

Daily Toner:
1/8 cup witch hazel
1 Tbsp organic thyme (the fresher the better, but dried is ok)
Soak the thyme in the witch hazel for 2-4 days. Strain out thyme. Place witch hazel in a bottle and add desired essential oil. Lemon oil brightens, but can make skin more sensitive to sunlight in summer. Good ol’ tea tree for acne ka-pow!
Soak a cotton pad with mixture and wipe over the face. Witch hazel helps to balance skin’s moisture and other lovely things. Thyme fits blemishes too! See why this is working so well? (PS – Crunchy Betty has a recipe similar to this too – so I’ll give her some props, credit where credit is due and all that)

Another great toner is a simple mixture of 1/3 apple cider vinegar and 2/3 water. It works wonderfully on breakouts.

Weekly Exfoliator:
1Tbsp baking soda
Drizzle raw honey
2-3 drops lemon essential oil
Stir it all up to avoid clumps. Scrub before getting into the shower. Shower off, or wipe off with a warm washcloth. I make this one in small batches because the baking soda fizzes up a bit and doesn’t feel as nice a few days later.

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Do Some Sprouting!

I love this time of year! If you were on the ball you might already be harvesting goodies from your garden! In our neck of the woods,   cherries are almost ready and we are on our second crop of yummy leafy greens like kale, lettuce and spinach. However, if you hate gardening or if you have a black thumb but still want to enjoy fresh, raw, nutrient dense greens in  your diet you should try sprouting. It’s so simple and you only need a couple days before you can enjoy the harvest!

Sprouts are a superfood for so many reasons. They are excellent sources of essential nutrients, high in protein,  great sources of enzymes, easy to digest and good for weight loss. I usually sprout lentils, beans and fenugreek, but broccoli, radish and clover are also  yummy options. Just be sure to avoid alfalfa as it is mildly toxic and also inhibits the immune system.

I usually get my sprouting seeds from Mumms. I love Mumms because they are a Canadian based business out of Saskatchewan and all their seeds are certified organic.

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Now to the good stuff….How to sprout.

There are several ways to sprout seeds, but I will tell you how I do it. All you need is a mason jar. Dump about 2 Tbsp of seeds into the jar, add water, swirl and drain. Refill the jar with about a cup of water and soak your seeds for about 2-6 hrs. Drain the water. Rinse your seeds twice a day by refilling your jar with water. Drain the water and lay your jar on its side so that your seeds don’t mold in water. You could also cover your jar with mesh and keep your jar inverted to prevent mold from growing, this also makes the rinsing easier!

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You can eat your sprouts whenever you want. I like eating them with longer tails, but some people enjoy them sprouted with no tail. They are perfect in sandwiches, tossed in salads or you can just grab a handful and enjoy!

So, who wants to add sprouts to their diet?

If you do, just comment here and we will send one lucky reader the “Get sprouting jar” from Mumms.

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Share this post and let us know you did for an extra entry. Winner will be chosen June 19th.

The Great Microwave Challenge – Update!

So – the Great Microwave Challenge. Here I thought I was being such a go-getter, ditching my microwave. Only to have a bunch of friends comment that…they had ditched theirs ages ago. OK – so maybe my idea wasn’t a new one. But I still think it was a good one!

And the overall concensus – I don’t need, or want, my microwave. For the first few weeks it sat with a huge ugly sign on it. Then I had to make sure my visiting in-laws knew that although there was a big ugly sign, they were allowed to use it.
And I am proud to say – I only broke down and used it ONCE! We had made BBQ’d ribs, but I had to leave for book club before they were done (insert me wailing and gnashing teeth here). So I got home from book club late at night. And I wanted. RIBS. NOW. So I did it – I nuked them. And it ruined them. I should have eaten them cold…or later…or watched some PVR’d Real Housewives while they heated in the oven. Moral of the story – microwaves suck the big one.

Ever since the ribs, we haven’t touched our microwave. There are times when I think “HOW WILL WE MAKE NACHOS?” and then I remember that oven nachos are actually tastier. Crispy, warm chips. No raw cheese in the middle and burnt cheese on the edges. It doesn’t seem so desperate anymore.

So my microwave has been dethroned. It is unceremoniously waiting to be sent to the thrift store. There was a large empty space on my counter that now holds my coffee maker, which used to be squished up tight to the microwave. There were crumbs in that section of counter that deserve to be carbon-dated. I felt very good about myself while I wiped that part of the counter. Go me. All “ditching the microwave and cleaning stuff too.”

I am also ditching those nasty plastic covers made for preventing splatter in the microwave, but dripping BPA into our food. Next on the docket is the piles of plastic containers we own. There are some that haven’t seen the light of day in months.

If you are still hemming and hawing about ditching your microwave, just do it. You will survive. Your husband WILL get over it (I bribed mine with a toaster over). Your inlaws will even be ok. Your nachos will never be better.

PS- Completely off topic…but someone told me this week that “my hippy was showing.” Apparently you can’t say “hemp hearts” out loud without that happening…

Giveaway!

Well, The Ecohousewives and Little Black Cat Organics have teamed up to do a Giveaway! There are two prizes:

1st Place is a prize pack that includes:

  1. One size Bamboo/Organic Cotton Fitted Diaper – fits approx. newborn to 35+ lbs
  2. 8 Bamboo/Organic Cotton Cloths Wipes – measure approx. 9″x9″
  3. Medium Pull-up Recycled, Felted Wool Soaker – fits approx. 10-22lbs
  4. Rose Water and Lavender Hemp Baby Lotion – 4oz bottle
  5. Green Bum Balm Diaper Rash Salve – 1.7oz jar

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2nd Place is a $15 Gift Certificate to use towards anything from Little Black Cat Organics

Enter on our Facebook page, Little Black Cat Organics Facebook page or at a Rafflecopter giveaway directly and don’t forget to share, share, share! Contest runs until 11:00am Pacific Time on Friday May 24, 2012.