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Fait Ensemble

Ginger-Spiced Pumpkin Bread

With Fall here and Halloween approaching, it is the perfect time to bake up a loaf of our delicious pumpkin bread. This time we added ginger spice for a twist. And it’s so good that we decided to share.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Sucanat (dehydrated cane juice) or other natural sweetener
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup high-quality oil (coconut, sunflower, grapeseed, etc)
  • 2 eggs (we used one duck egg we had on hand)
  • 1 ¾ cup puréed pumpkin or 1 can of pumpkin
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 3 – 4 cups flour (adjust depending on amount of moisture in pumpkin)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Pumpkin slices ready for boiling. Once boiled, we scrape the pumpkin from the rinds and mash to create puréed pumpkin (pictured below)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350° & grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.
  2. Mix sweetener, oil, & eggs, stir until smooth.
  3. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, salt, and baking powder.
  5. Mix dry ingredients with wet, stirring just until all ingredients are mixed.
  6. Divide the batter between the 2 pans.
  7. Bake @ 350° until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (about 1 hour)
  8. Allow to cool, then enjoy.

The perfect snack for hay rides, apple picking and, of course, pumpkin carving.

As seen on:

NaturalMothersNetwork.com

Book Review: “Screamfree Parenting” by Hal Edward Runkel

Screamfree Parenting carries with it one major premise: you take care of your children best when you take care of yourself first. It states that when you scream, you are in essence saying, “I can’t handle this and I need somebody to calm me down!” Instead, be scream-free: “Becoming a Screamfree Parent involves a growing self-awareness, a greater sense of self-direction, and an increased willingness to take personal responsibility for your actions, regardless of the actions of those around you” (pg. 21).

Runkel writes that you take care of yourself first by focusing on your own feelings and emotions, keeping your cool no matter what stressful or upsetting situations occur. You focus on your own feelings and the fact that what others do is outside of yourself. You stay self-aware and in control of your own actions.

What I found really valuable about this book was the author’s emphasis on ensuring everyone in your family has his/her own personal space. First, you and your spouse/partner need your own space. This gives you both the time to turn inward. Meanwhile, your kids also get their space: “Since coming out of the womb our children have been on a journey to separate from us” (pg 91). Giving them the individual space they deserve as human beings facilitates them on their way to adulthood.

Giving space is the means by which the author recommends solving conflict. Don’t try to control your kids, and don’t focus on whatever they are doing or saying that is getting under your skin. Instead, keep your attention focused on yourself and your response to their behavior – how does it make you feel, what is your best response to their behavior? You cannot make your children (or anyone else, for that matter) feel a certain way or to act in any way you want them to, so it just makes sense to keep your focus inward and take care of your own emotions. Keep your distance from any sort of conflict.

How do you go about doing that? By giving your kids their space, setting limits on what that space is, and letting the (natural) consequences of their actions teach them about life (rather than you try to do it with your words). The author encourages imposing consequences to your children’s behavior. For example, if they do not get the dishes washed, then they cannot watch TV for two days. I do not agree with that logic; I think consequences should be natural, a genuine result of choices that are made. Like in the instance of the dishes not being done, perhaps there are no clean dishes available to the child. And if she/he wants a clean glass it will be necessary for her/him to wash one. (If it isn’t obvious, this example refers to an older child. This should not be expected of a small child.)

Runkel finishes the book by talking about loving yourself and building good relationships. He mentions that it is not selfish to tend to one’s own needs – your life is not bound up in tending to the needs of your child(ren) and spouse/partner. You have your own needs, and they matter just as much. He concludes that you should love yourself for the benefit of others: “A person operating at this level says: ‘I love me, work on me, and build myself up so that I can come to you from a position of wholeness, a position of fullness. I take care of me so you don’t have to. From fullness I can then empty myself, my gifts, my love, my actions, for your ultimate benefit. I am the only one in charge of me, and I am the one ultimately responsible for me and my well-being. Therefore, as a steward of my greatest gift, my life, I need to take steps to ensure my health, my calmness of mind, my sanity, and my own validation as a person in the world. Thus, I can free you from having to provide those things for me, Thus, I can truly serve you without needing you to serve me’ ” (194-95).

After reading ScreamFree Parenting I learned that the best way to be a father is to, first of all, be good to myself. That made the book worthwhile.

Sunday Surf: Lacto-Fermented Foods & Beverages

This week my interest in lacto fermented foods and beverages was reignited and, of course, I found plenty of information and links for the taking.

First up, A Year of Slow Cooking shows how to make yogurt in your crockpot. This is one of the easiest methods I’ve found thus far. I look forward to trying this in a few days.

Something else I plan to do soon is grow a kombucha SCOBY. I didn’t know it was possible to grow a SCOBY, so this was a very cool link to find.

Next up, I was in the mood to make Beet Kvass, so I went hunting on the internet for a recipe and came up with this one. Which reminded me that there is a recipe for it in Nourishing Traditions. I went with the one in NT instead since it meant not needing to have the laptop in the kitchen to follow a recipe. But the one on Beth Stedman’s site is the essentially same thing.

I happened upon this recipe for Coconut Oil Mayonnaise and was instantly impressed. I’ve not been completely satisfied with the mayonnaise recipe in Nourishing Traditions, so I will definitely be making this version.

This very simple recipe for water kefir gave me a reason to dust off my water kefir grains and try again. Apparently, I was missing the last step of the process, the second fermentation.

“One day” (I’ve been wanting to do this for 3 yrs. now) I must give lacto-fermented salsa a try. I’ve read that it bubbles and fizzles from the fermentation. Yum. Can you think of anything more delicious than having carbonated salsa on your corn chip? Yeah, neither can I. ;)

Both Cultures for Health and Yemoos are fantastic places for buying kefir grains and other cultures.

Happy fermenting!

Natural Pest and Weed Control In the Garden

In this post we’ll share some of the steps we’ve taken to protect what’s growing in our garden from the bugs and animals that want our food as much as we do, as well as our methods for eliminating and preventing weeds.

Gophers and Moles

A mole wiped out our potatoes last year. A few months before that, when we were preparing the melon patch, I dug into his den – a massive tunnel big enough to fit a large shoebox in. He had to go. But we didn’t want to kill him – after all, he’s just another living thing fighting to survive, just like the rest of us.

So we found and installed this windmill. Mounted on a rigid 8-foot pipe, the spinning of this windmill sends vibrations down the pole and into the ground. These rodents don’t like this at all and choose a more peaceful environment to call home. The windmill is only $19.95, and the pole is simply a ½” metal plumbing pipe that we had cut at our local hardware store for about $12. Assembly and installation took about 20 minutes. And there haven’t been any gophers or moles since. So we have an all-natural and permanent solution to garden rodent pests for under $40.

Bugs

A few months into our Summer gardening efforts, Mexican bean beetles started eating the leaves on all our bean plants and leaving holes behind.

Among its ten thousand other uses, diatomaceous earth will help keep pests off your plants. But I learned through experience that you can’t just sprinkle it on – it’ll fall off. Get out your water hose and get the leaves damp. Then sprinkle the DE on the plants. The DE is so lightweight it’ll turn sort of muddy on the leaves, then dry in place.

We get diatomaceous earth from our local farmers’ coop – try calling yours and see if they carry it. Our local food coop carries it, too, but the price isn’t nearly as good. And if all else fails, you can order from Amazon or Nitron (the company that distributes ours).

Weeds

Mulch helps prevent the growth of weeds and it helps hold moisture in the ground. And most insects hate the smell of cedar. So we put a layer of cedar shavings around most of our plants. And it works great. A local craftsman makes cedar furniture and sells huge bags of cedar shavings at our local hardware store for less than $3 per bag. Shop around your area and you’ll probably be able to find a similar deal. Each bag weighs about 5 pounds and will cover about 40 square feet if it’s spread out somewhere between ¼” and ½” deep.

If cedar shavings or mulch are not available or not affordable in your area, try using a good-quality mulch and sprinkling some cedar essential oil on it.

Getting Picky

Clearing away diseased or damaged crops and pruning away dying vines and branches gets rid of temptation for pests. Keeping the weeds at bay gets rid of their habitat. Weeding is very labor-intensive of course, especially in this heat.

What do you use in your garden for natural pest and weed control?

Post-partum Depression? Eat the Placenta!

Eat the placenta?! I must be joking, right? Nope, not at all. And here’s why:

My oldest was born in October 2007. The months that followed were a very difficult time for me. I consistently sensed a dark cloud above me and felt panicky at times. Things appeared really bleak and hopeless to me. I couldn’t even fully enjoy the baby. I didn’t begin to feel any relief at all until he was around 6 months old.

My youngest was born in January 2010. I made the decision long before his birth to eat the placenta. I so much did not want to face that time of darkness again. About two days after his birth I started making and drinking placenta smoothies.

For the first whole week after his birth I was on a “high”. That was a major switch from what I felt with my oldest during the first week. I eventually felt a bit of sadness set in, but there was just no comparison to the way I felt with my first. I would describe it as emotional. It wasn’t hopeless and dark – just a little weepy here and there and it happened only in the evenings.

I continued to drink these smoothies daily until he was around a month old. In the weeks that followed I had maybe one or two more. After that I no longer needed the helping hand of the placenta. I enjoyed and savored those early months with my youngest son. As I mentioned earlier, I had PPD for the first 6 months of my oldest child’s life. Which caused me to wish away much of what should’ve been precious time together. So there was definitely a huge difference.

My youngest got thrush a week after being born and had it until he was about 3 months old. It was a very rough time and despite that I still felt so much better than I did with my first (who has never had thrush.) It was wonderful to not have PPD there sucking away the strength I needed to be there for my little one during his bout with thrush. Yet another benefit of eating the placenta.

As an important side note, the placenta needs to be refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible. We kept it in the fridge for about three days (while we were adjusting to having a new baby) before I finally sliced it into ice-cubed/quarter-sized pieces. I then wrapped the pieces in wax paper and placed them in a resealable freezer bag. Each time I needed a piece of placenta I simply retrieved one from the bag.

So, what causes PPD and why does eating the placenta prevent this rather common form of depression? Hormones. The early months of pregnancy can be a bit of an emotional time because the body is stocking up on hormones. After the baby is born these hormones begin to leave the body. The sudden loss of hormones causes a lot of strain. Eating the placenta allows for one to ease into it, slowly adjusting to having less hormones in their body because the placenta is loaded with hormones. It provides sort of a buffer while the body is adjusting and returning to its normal, pre-pregnant state. To put it a bit more simply, here is a quote from the Placenta Benefits website:

The placenta contains your own natural hormones and is perfectly made for you, by you. Experts agree that the placenta retains hormones. Reintroducing them to your system is believed to ease postpartum and menopausal hormonal fluctuations.

With that in mind and in light of the false impressions that are being given about placenta consumption, it should be pointed out that eating the placenta is not for nutritional benefits, but hormonal benefits. Big difference. ;)

Here is how I made my placenta smoothies.

I placed all of the following items into a blender:

1 piece of placenta (about the size of a quarter)

1 half cup of blueberries

1 half cup of raspberries (that way I wouldn’t know if the red pieces were placenta or just raspberries…since I’m bit squeamish about those things. Plus, it added to the deliciousness.)

1 cup of apple juice (any fruit juice will suffice)

You could also add half a banana if you wanted.

Blend together, pour into a glass and drink. In the midst of placenta smoothie drinking I would sometimes come across a tiny piece of placenta (no bigger than a penny) that was missed by the blender. I swallowed these whole and never tasted a thing. And speaking of taste, the smoothies were delicious.

There are other ways of consuming the placenta. Some people dehydrate and encapsulate their placenta and take it in pill form. I have also heard of some people simply swallowing ice cubed/quarter sized pieces of the placenta when needed.

When taken with white wine it is said to “help disperse the energy of the placenta throughout the body.”

I still have the placentas from both births in my freezer. Obviously, the placenta from my last birth is smaller since part of it has been eaten. My current plan is to eventually bury them and plant trees on top.

Links and Resources (in addition to the ones scattered throughout this post):

Preventing PPD:

Eating your placenta to prevent PPD

How to Prevent Post-Partum Depression

Benefits:

Placentophagia: Benefits of Eating the Placenta

Placenta Benefits

Encapsulation:

Placenta Bakery

Happy Pills!

Placenta medicine…my story

Swallow Your Baby’s Placenta One Pill at a Time

Directories:

Placenta Network

Placenta Specialists National Directory

Placenta Specialists International Directory

Traditions, Rituals and Recipes:

Placenta Traditions

Placenta Disposal Suggestions, Rituals & Recipes

Placenta Recipes (not for the squeamish)

 

Photo credit: VBOT on Flickr

As seen on:

NaturalMothersNetwork.com