Mommypotamus 2015-03-25T16:30:21Z http://www.mommypotamus.com/feed/atom/WordPress Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Natural Tick Repellent Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34214 2015-03-25T16:06:48Z 2015-03-25T15:55:58Z Ticks can really suck the fun . . . Out of a beautiful morning spent planting elderberries, taking a walk by (or rather, through) the creek . . Or watching my four year-old, Micah, swoon over Daddypotamus’s newest acquisition. And of course I literally mean suck. Because ticks are more than just a nuisance – they can [&hellip

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tick-repellent-recipe-essential-oils

Ticks can really suck the fun . . .

Out of a beautiful morning spent planting elderberries, taking a walk by (or rather, through) the creek . .

tick-repellent-recipe

Or watching my four year-old, Micah, swoon over Daddypotamus’s newest acquisition.

mommypotamus-farm

And of course I literally mean suck. Because ticks are more than just a nuisance – they can carry serious illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

As part of our plan to wipe them off the face of the earth create a safe space for the potami to play, Daddypotamus and I are in the process of adding diatomaceous earth and garlic spray to their play area. (About 1 pound DE per thousand square feet of yard, in case you were wondering!)

We’re also adding to our flock of tick terminators – aka guineas and chickens – and because there’s no way even two dozen birds will catch every single tick, we’re making good use of our homemade tick spray as well.

Why Not DEET?

N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) is the usual go-to for commercial bug spray. It’s incredibly controversial, and for good reason. Recently Dr. Abou Donia, a Duke University pharmacologist, found that “rats treated with an average human dose of DEET (40 mg/kg body weight) performed far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks requiring muscle control, strength and coordination.” (source)

In the same study, Dr. Abou Donia found that DEET caused “neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration.” (source) The pharmacologist says that children are at a higher risk for brain changes after DEET exposure because their skin absorbs it more readily.

Fortunately, there’s a natural alternative. This study found that the geranium oil I use in the recipe below works comparably to DEET in repelling ticks. Geranium oil is kid-friendly and safe for pregnant and nursing women – how great is that? But first, you might be wondering . . .

Should I mix my essential oils with oil or water?

It’s really up to you. Water-based formulas can be sprayed on skin or clothing without causing oiliness. On the other hand, oil-based formulas require fewer applications than water-based versions because they last longer. Lotion lasts longer than water-based formulas and is less oily than oil-based formulas, but it’s not as easy to apply. I’ve included options for all three below.

natural-tick-repellent-recipe

Natural Tick Repellent Recipe

This recipe is targeted specifically toward ticks, but is also helpful with mosquitos. Like my all-purpose homemade bug spray, it’s safe for children over two and pregnant/nursing mamas. (Note: Though I don’t apply this directly to my 16-month olds skin, I do spray his clothes when we are going outside.)

Water-Based Version

Ingredients

To Make

Because essential oils don’t mix well with water, start by adding your geranium oil to the apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or vodka. Add a squirt of castile soap if desired and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes before giving the mixture a stir. This will disperse the essential oil in the liquid. Add water and pour into a spray bottle, preferably one made of glass or PET plastic. (Essential oils can leach chemicals from some plastics, and we don’t want that!)

To Use

Shake well before use. Spray on skin or clothes before going outside.

Lotion-Based Version

Ingredients

To Make

Mix oil and essential oils together and add to a spray bottle, or better yet an oil mister that is less likely to clog. Store in a cool, dark area when not in use. Should last 2-3 months.

To Use

Spray directly on skin before going outdoors.

Oil-Based Version

Ingredients

To Make

Mix oil and essential oils together and add to a spray bottle, or better yet an oil mister that is less likely to clog. Store in a cool, dark area when not in use. Should last 2-3 months.

To Use

Spray directly on skin before going outdoors.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Constipation Candy]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34190 2015-03-24T16:07:52Z 2015-03-23T15:58:10Z “WHAT’S THE PASSWORD !?!?!?” I peek around the corner and find my son shouting at the toilet, apparently miffed by its inability to suck giant swaths of paper into the vortex under our house. Of course I grabbed the plunger and voila! No big deal. If only all potty struggles were that easily solved, right? [&hellip

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Constipation Candy

“WHAT’S THE PASSWORD !?!?!?”

I peek around the corner and find my son shouting at the toilet, apparently miffed by its inability to suck giant swaths of paper into the vortex under our house. Of course I grabbed the plunger and voila! No big deal.

If only all potty struggles were that easily solved, right?

Unfortunately, issues like constipation can be quite the challenge with small children. I’ve written about several research-backed natural constipation remedies before, but recently my friend Robyn shared one with me that I thought was genius, and today with her blessing I’m going to share it with you. (Thanks, Robyn!)

What Causes Constipation?

Before we get to the recipe, though, let’s talk about the very important difference between occasional bouts of constipation and chronic issues.

Constipation can occur for a variety of reasons (holding a bowel movement because you’re feeling shy in a public restroom, a change in diet, stress, dehydration, etc). However, research suggests that chronic constipation may indicate a more serious underlying issue such as gut flora imbalance, inadequate levels of trace minerals, allergies, or hypothyroidism. (source1, source 2, source 3)

If one of the potami were experiencing chronic constipation, I’d take them to a knowledgeable practitioner for help. Of course, if they suggested Miralax instead of working to identify and address the root cause, I’d personally find someone else.

Why Not Miralax?

Good question. According to pediatrician Dr. Scott Cohen, Miralax is often prescribed to children for months, sometimes years. “We literally give it like water,” he told the New York Times.

This is shocking to me for two reasons:

1. Miralax is not even approved for children.

2. It’s only supposed to be used in adults for a maximum of seven days.

Even more concerning is that fact that a growing number of parents have reported psychiatric and behavioral side effects – including tremors, tics and obsessive compulsive disorder – after their children took Miralax. In 2011, the FDA listed “neuropsychiatric events” as a possible side effect and asked researchers to take another look at safety. Initially they said no action was required, but recently they requested additional research.

At issue is whether the active ingredient in Miralax, PEG 3350, is absorbed differently in “children who are constipated, have underlying intestinal disease, or are very young.” (source)

The safety of PEG 3350 hinges on whether or not it is absorbed systemically in children – something we simply don’t know due to a lack of research.

“Every pediatric GI physician, I would guarantee you, has told a family this is a safe product,” Dr. Kent C. Williams, a gastroenterologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital told the New York Times. Now, he says, “it may not be true.”

For me, the bottom line is that parent have reported serious adverse effects from this drug, and no research has been done that proves it is safe for children. I personally would avoid it.

Miralax is NOT approved for children, and the FDA has said that it should not be used in adults for more than 7 days.   Parents have reported tremors, tics and obsessive compulsive disorder after giving children Miralax, so the FDA is taking another look at its safety.  This recipe for "constipation candy" is a kid-approved way to support normal bowel function.

Get Things Moving With Constipation Candy

Fortunately there are alternatives, including these delicious constipation candies from my friend Robyn. Here’s her explanation of how they work:

“The theory is that since the medium chain triglycerides that make up coconut oil don’t cause a person to store fat, they have limited absorption in the small intestine and tend to pass right through the digestive tract.” This unique feature of coconut oil is thought to improve function and efficiency in the digestive tract.

“Just two ‘constipation candies’ and then anywhere between 8 to 18 hours later, total relief without tears,” says Robyn, adding that “For kids I’d stick with 2 pieces and wait a day before increasing how much they can have. For adults I’d start with 4 and try adding an extra each day to see what your body likes the most. “

Constipation Candy Recipe

Ingredients

* Mommypotamus note: I also made up a batch with pureed fruit that was pretty good. Just make sure that if you’re using fruit from your freezer that you allow it to fully thaw before mixing it with the coconut oil.

Equipment

1-2 Silicone molds (You can use the same mold and make two batches, or use two molds and make one batch. I used this one)

Food processor or immersion blender

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or with a handheld mixer and pour into the candy molds. Taste as you go along and make it as sweet or sour as you like. Everything has to be very well mixed into the oil, so make sure as you’re pouring the last bit in that it’s not sugar or honey-heavy.

Tip: My first batch separated, so the second time I made them I put my silicone mold in the freezer for about 10 minutes prior to pouring. When it was time,  I let the mixture whir in my food processor for sixty full seconds before pouring it into the molds, then set it in the freezer for an hour.

Store in the fridge and enjoy as needed. No one in my house is constipated but we ate a few anyway – so good!

 

Other Things That May Help

In addition to the remedies I suggest here, you might also consider aloe vera juice and slippery elm bark powder. It’s slightly sweet so kids usually enjoy taking it.

Also, though it might seem a little odd, you might also consider getting a squatty potty if your child is old enough to use it. Dr. Bernard Jensen once wrote that “one of the bowel’s greatest enemies in civilized society is the ergonomic nightmare known as the toilet.

The stool allows for a more ergonomic approach – putting the body into a natural squatting position over the toilet. When positioned correctly, their body may be able to eliminate more quickly and completely Squatty Potty’s come in two sizes: 7″ for standard toilets and 9″ for higher toilets.

Do you have a tried-and-true remedy for constipation?

Please share it below!

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Kristin Marr http://livesimply.me/ <![CDATA[Almond Flour Pancakes On A Stick]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34165 2015-03-23T21:51:40Z 2015-03-20T15:27:06Z Take a look at any TV commercial today, and you’ll soon learn that kids aren’t supposed to eat food unless it’s fried, shaped like a dinosaur, or comes with a toy.

Or at least that’s the way it appears.

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Gluten-Free Pancakes - Can be enjoyed immediately or made in advance and frozen, then warmed in a toaster for a quick and delicious breakfast!

Note from Mommypotamus: Today’s delightful take on almond flour pancakes comes from Kristen Marr of Live Simply. Serve them up for a leisurely Saturday brunch or freeze them and pop them in the toaster for a quick weekday breakfast – either way, they’re sure to be a hit! Thanks for sharing your recipe with us Kristin!

Take a look at any TV commercial today . . .

And you’ll soon learn that kids aren’t supposed to eat food unless it’s fried, shaped like a dinosaur, or comes with a toy.

Or at least that’s the way it appears.

My oldest child, Piper, recently turned five. I must say, I think five is the very best age! My former preschooler is now a big boy with questions and explanations for everything. Piper wants to know how everything works, how much stuff costs, and how to use various gadgets and ingredients. He’s inquisitive to say the least, and I love it!

On Saturday morning Piper enjoys cartoon time, much like I did as a child. Along with cartoons come commercials, and with commercials come food advertisements and lots of them! In the past, these commercials haven’t really caught much of Piper’s attention, but recently he’s become inquisitive, “We should make bread sticks and dunk them in syrup! Ooo…look at that yogurt, it’s different colors and comes in a tube.”

My initial reaction was pretty natural (at least for me) and irrational, “No more cartoons! Let’s build a cocoon and live in it forever!” Okay, more like irrational and impractical. Once I sat down with a homemade chai latte and came to my senses, my rational side woke up, “Wait! Piper’s going to be exposed to this kind of food the rest of his life. I need to look at the positive and find a solution.”

After much thinking and a few more sips of my latte (seriously, a homemade latte can bring clarity to any issue), my lightbulb moment arrived: Piper isn’t asking to buy this food, rather he just wants to make it! Bingo!

Now, hear me out!

My idea was not to turn everything Piper eats into a dinosaur shape or yacky-colored (naturally-dyed) yogurt. I still firmly believe in serving “family food.” I always take into account, based on my Family Favorite Meals list, what the whole family wants to eat each week when I meal plan, but specifically catering to kid-tailored food isn’t usually my mission, nor did I want it to become my goal.

Rather, I wanted to start creating fun food memories and recipes with Piper, teaching him that real food isn’t just about a bowl of broccoli or pastured butter (although I’m pretty sure all would be right with the world if real food was just about butter). Real food can also be about specially made treats like homemade bread that’s turned into homemade french toast sticks and dunked in real sweeteners (honey or maple syrup). And while we still enjoy deliciously-creamy plain homemade yogurt from the crock-pot, we can also use fruit to create naturally-dyed, nutrient-rich yogurt sticks.

Gluten-free pancakes on a stick are one of the many fun meals Piper and I have started to create together, based on his inquisitive Saturday morning cartoon food requests. Piper helps mix the simple pancake ingredients together while I chop the berries and bananas. Once the pancakes are cooked and the fruit is chopped, Piper and Londyn (my two year-old) love gathering around the table to create skewers of nutrient-rich pancakes and fresh fruit, then dunking them in pure maple syrup. Of course, these almond flour pancake skewers may also be enjoyed as a regular ol’ stack of pancakes, but what’s the fun in that? Trust me, Mom, go for the skewer because real food can be fun and nourishing!

Almond Flour Pancakes On A Stick - Can be enjoyed immediately or made in advance and frozen, then warmed in a toaster for a quick and delicious breakfast!

Gluten-Free Pancakes On A Stick (Made With Almond Flour)

Makes 18 individual pancakes

Ingredients

Note: I don’t add sweetener to this recipe because my kids like to dunk the skewers in maple syrup. If you’d like sweeter pancakes, add 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup to the pancake batter.

Directions

Preheat a griddle to 325F (a large greased skillet may also be used). Cut the skewers in half and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Let the batter rest for 3-5 minutes.

gluten-free-pancakes-almond-flour

Pour the batter on the hot griddle and cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes, until the batter begins to bubble. Then, flip and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Note: I use the top of a mason jar lid to achieve perfectly round pancakes for the skewers. Place the mason jar lid on the griddle and pour the batter inside. Once set (about 3 seconds) quickly remove the mason jar lid and repeat.

Assemble the pancake skewers as desired and dunk in maple syrup or honey.

Gluten-Free, Paleo Pancakes On A Stick - Can be enjoyed immediately or made in advance and frozen, then warmed in a toaster for a quick and delicious breakfast!

Prep Ahead Tip

The almond flour pancakes can be made in advance and frozen. Warm the frozen pancakes in a toaster.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Grow Elderberries From Cuttings]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34100 2015-03-18T17:54:13Z 2015-03-18T16:05:53Z Have you ever gathered . . . Plump, juicy berries into your apron and whisked them to the kitchen to make medicine, wine, or jam? Yeah, me neither, but I will! I’m no Julie Andrews and I don’t (usually) twirl and sing in my kitchen, but gathering food and medicine from my yard does make things feel a [&hellip

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how-to-grow-elderberries-from-cuttings

Have you ever gathered . . .

Plump, juicy berries into your apron and whisked them to the kitchen to make medicine, wine, or jam? Yeah, me neither, but I will! I’m no Julie Andrews and I don’t (usually) twirl and sing in my kitchen, but gathering food and medicine from my yard does make things feel a little more magical, and some singing may be involved. 

As I mentioned on Instagram a few days ago, Daddypotamus and I are preparing to plant an elderberry patch to go with the other culinary and medicinal plants that grow on our homestead. Like the common backyard weed I use to make our “first aid” ointment, elderberry has a variety of benefits and uses.

Benefits Of Elderberry

Elderberry syrup has long been revered for it’s ability to support immune function through cold and flu season. One study found that flu patients who received elderberry syrup recovered about four days sooner than those who received a placebo, while another on suggests it may help open nasal passages. (source)

I could go on and on, but what you really need to know is this. Word is getting out about elderberry, and that is AWESOME!

Except when it’s not, because all of a sudden elderberry retailers everywhere are out-of-stock due to high demand. Yikes. 

Fortunately, elderberry bushes are both beautiful and easy to grow. Several of you asked for step-by-step instructions on the Instagram thread, so I put together this post. I’m not an expert on anything garden-related, so I enlisted the help of elderberry expert Rodger Lenhardt to make sure this post is accurate and helpful. (Thanks Rodger!)

Will Elderberry Thrive Where I Live?

Elderberry bushes are very hardy and do well in zones 3-8. You can type in your zip code here to find out what zone you’re in. You have just a few more weeks to gather your cuttings, so it’s best to get started as soon as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Get Berries?

This summer you’ll get elderflowers, which you can use to make syrup, tea or lemonade. (See step five for details.) And by next summer you’ll have juicy elderberries to use in homemade pies, jam, jelly, wine, and syrup – hooray!

how-to-grow-elderberry

How To Grow Elderberries From Cuttings

Step 1: Find Your Elderberry Bush

If you know of a friend or neighbor that has one, ask them if you can get a clipping. If not, chances are good that if you ask around someone will know where to get one. You might post on Facebook to see if anyone in your extended community has a bush they’d be willing to let you take a clipping from.

If you have difficulty finding elderberry bushes in your area, you can order from Norm’s Farms. Daddypotamus found Norm’s through his permaculture mentor, and ordered three different types of elderberry cuttings to maximize fruitfulness. According to this article, “Cross pollination is not required to produce fruit, but flowers that are cross-pollinated will produce larger fruit–it is beneficial to have two cultivars of elderberry in close proximity.” In other words, if you plant two different varieties within 60 feet of each other you increase the fruitfulness of both.

Worried You Might Pick The Wrong Thing?

When I first started looking for elderberries in the wild, I was terrified I’d confuse it with Pokeberry or Water Hemlock, which are poisonous. Fortunately, if you know what to check for they are VERY easy to tell apart.

Here’s the difference between elderberry and water hemlock.

And here’s the difference between elderberry and pokeberry.

Still worried? Rodger from Norm’s farms gave me a tip that makes exposure to pokeberry even less of a concern. Apparently once a winter frost hits, pokeberry stems collapse and disintegrate. They’ll grow back later in the spring/summer, but for now they’re probably not even out.

Once you’ve identified your elderberry bush, you can cross-check it by cutting it down the center. Elderberry has a hard, woody stem with a soft center that Rodger describes as “like styrofoam.”

Step 2: Gather Your Elderberry Cuttings

While the bush is dormant – usually January through March – use pruning shears to cut a 8-9 inch section of elderberry cane. (That’s the hard, woody stem I mentioned earlier.) You want the cut to be slanted to improve the canes ability to draw up moisture.

According to this article, it’s best to “focus on stems that are very green in spring, those that are sturdy but thinner than the older canes at the center of the clump . . . Choose ones that are about as big around as your little finger and located on the edges of the thicket.”

how-to-grow-elderberries

Step 3: Encourage Root Growth

And by encourage, I don’t mean grab your pom poms and cheer. (Though you can totally do that if you want to.)

There are two main ways to help your trimmings establish roots.

Water Method

Place your trimmings (cut side down) in a mason jar and add water until they are halfway submerged. Place the jar in a sunny area for 6-8 weeks, changing the water often.

Spritz with water occasionally – elderberry bushes love a humid environment. Roots grown in water are more fragile than ones grown in soil,  so wait until they look sturdy before transferring. When they’re ready and there is not risk of freezing temperatures, plant the elderberry bush into quality soil – the kind that you’d use in a vegetable garden – with good drainage.

Soil Method

Place your trimmings (cut side down) in a mason jar and add water until they are halfway submerged. Allow them to soak for 12-24 hours and then transfer them to pots filled with good, organic soil. (Again, the kind you would use in a vegetable garden.) Keep the pots moist so that the cuttings don’t dry out. They need a humid environment to encourage growth, so either:

  • Place them in a greenhouse
  • Place a plastic bag over the top to trap moisture and create a greenhouse-like effect, then set the pot in a sunny area. (Thanks for this tip, Rodger!)

The trimmings will send out leaves and then grow roots – it can take six to twelve weeks to see significant root growth according to Rodger. Once it reaches the 6-8 week mark, gently tug on the cutting to assess root development. Once they’re well established and there is not risk of freezing temperatures, plant the elderberry cane (roots intact) into the soil.

Should I Use A Root Stimulant?

Most of the experts I’ve read or talked with say that a root stimulant is not necessary for elderberry bushes, but you can certainly use one to speed things up if you’d like. Most store-bought ones contain synthetic chemicals, but thanks to Hayley of Health Starts In The Kitchen I recently learned that willow water is a natural alternative. She doesn’t have a tutorial for making it on her site, but I did find one here.

Step 4 Planting Your Elderberry Bush

“Transplant the elderberry cutting into the landscape in the spring following rooting. Pick a spot that gets full sun or part shade, with humus rich soil and good drainage. Dig a planting hole and place the new elderberry shrub into the soil with the base of the stem level with the soil line.” (source)

Elderberry bushes can grow to be 6-8 feet wide, so space your bushes out by 6-10 feet.

Step 5: Make Elderflower Lemonade!

Seriously, this is a step. During your elderberry bushes’ first season you want to pinch off the flowers so that the elderberry can devote it’s energy to developing a strong root system. Use them to make syrup, tea or lemonade.

Next season you’ll be harvesting elderberries!

What’s growing in your garden this year?

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Gelatin Hair Mask Recipe: The Secret To Shiny, Strong Hair]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34068 2015-03-18T17:15:06Z 2015-03-17T15:58:21Z “So, what do you wash your hair with?” “Mud.” “I’m sorry?” “Well, technically it’s clay.” If you want to have an entertaining conversation with your stylist, try that as an opening line. Then when they ask how you’ve managed to get your hair so smooth and shiny, tell them you put Jello on your hair. (Or rather, [&hellip

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gelatin-hair-mask-strong-shiny

“So, what do you wash your hair with?”

“Mud.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Well, technically it’s clay.”

If you want to have an entertaining conversation with your stylist, try that as an opening line. Then when they ask how you’ve managed to get your hair so smooth and shiny, tell them you put Jello on your hair. (Or rather, gelatin, the stuff that Jello is made of.)

Of course, if you haven’t tried these things, do that first!

Gelatin: The Secret To Shiny, Strong Hair

If your stylist has ever told you conditioners like Pantene might wreck your hair over time, here’s why:

Many store-bought conditioners contain silicone, which coats the hair to make it smooth and shiny. Unfortunately, this only makes the hair **look** healthy – in reality it’s doing the exact opposite. Silicone blocks moisture from reaching the hair shaft, which can cause strands to become dry and brittle over time.

A far better option is gelatin, which contains keratin proteins that actually bind with hair to strengthen it. Unlike whole proteins such as egg yolk, which have difficulty bonding with hair, the partially cooked proteins found in gelatin bond easily. Gelatin adheres especially well to damaged areas, but also nourishes the entire strand as well. It helps to smooth the hair cuticle, boost shine and reduce breakage.

Those with wavy or curly hair also report that it reduces frizz.

Something to keep in mind is that, when it comes to protein treatments for hair, you can get too much of a good thing. See the Tips & Troubleshooting section below for info on how to get the best results.

Because I’ve been using gelatin in my hair for awhile now, I couldn’t get a true “before” photo to share with you.  Fortunately I had an adorable little volunteer that was willing to help me out. The photo below is of my daughter, Katie, before and after her first gelatin hair mask.

gelatin-hair-mask

gelatin-hair-mask-afterHer hair looks a little oily in the photo on the right, but it’s actually not at all. I’d just run a large-tooth comb though it, which made it separate in a funny way. Oops!

The photo on the right is my hair after the same treatment. My hair is a weird blend of straight and wavy when it air dries, but you can see that it’s not oily or greasy. It is super, super soft though – I love gelatin masks!

Back to my daughters before and after: The light is a little brighter in the second photo because the sun was higher, but the increase in shine is real. The photos were taken about two hours apart because I let her run around outside while her hair dried. Both are completely unretouched.

Gelatin Hair Mask Recipe

Ingredients

Optional Add-Ins

Coconut Milk

Moisturizing. (Note: If you use homemade coconut milk, make sure to strain it through a coffee filter or you may end up with white flecks of coconut meat in your hair. Store-bought coconut milk will work fine – no filtering necessary.

Herbal Tea

Peppermint, rosemary and nettle – which add shine – are suitable for all hair types. Sage, marshmallow root and elder flower tea are helpful for dry hair.

Moisturizers

If your hair is very dry, you might try adding 1-2 tablespoons of avocado or banana to your mixture. Give it a whir in the blender before use to ensure even application.

Another option is to add a little bit of oil. A few drops may be enough, but some people add as much as one tablespoon. Oils to consider are olive, coconut, almond, and argan.

Essential Oils

Rosemary adds shine, chamomile is helpful for dry hair and tea tree is helpful for oily hair. For the recipe below, use 12-15 drops.

Gelatin Hair Mask - The keratin proteins found in gelatin bind with hair to strengthen it, boost shine, and reduce breakage.

Making Your Gelatin Hair Mask

Add liquid to a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle gelatin over your liquid while whisking to prevent lumps. Place the pan on your stove and allow the liquid to heat until steaming, stirring often with a spoon to prevent the gelatin from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the mixture is steaming, remove it from heat.

When the mixture has cooled down somewhat – it should be warm but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable to touch – add in the honey, vinegar, and any optional ingredients.

Using Your Gelatin Hair Mask

When the mixture is warm but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable to touch, apply it to clean, wet hair. I like to dip the ends of my hair into the jar, then pour a little bit on one side of my scalp and work it down from roots to tips before moving to the other side.

Allow the mask to sit for 10-30 minutes. If you’re planning to let it sit for much longer than 10 minutes, cover your hair with a shower cap so that it doesn’t dry out. When the time is up, rinse very thoroughly, follow with conditioner, and allow to air dry.

If you find that your hair feels crunchy or brittle, see the “Tips & Troubleshooting” section below.

Tips & Troubleshooting

When it comes to protein and hair, you can get too much of a good thing. Healthy hair is both strong and flexible, but hair that has too much protein hardens, loses flexibility, and begins to break.

On the other hand, hair that is fragile is also prone to breakage. The trick is to find a balance between the two.  If you find that your hair is feeling stiff or crunchy after a treatment, gently rinse your hair again just to make sure all the excess was removed, then follow with conditioner and rinse again. Then next time you do a treatment, use about half the amount of gelatin you used before.

Experiment with how much you need. Shorter hair may need only half of what the recipe calls for, while very long, thick hair may need more.

Do this treatment no more than once a week – once every month is best for most people.

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Renee Kohley http://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com <![CDATA[Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34023 2015-03-18T18:08:12Z 2015-03-13T15:57:27Z Note from Mommypotamus: Did you know that buckwheat is not a grain, but a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb? If you’re avoiding grains – or even if you aren’t – you have got to try these blueberry buckwheat pancakes from Renee of Raising Generation Nourished. Welcome, Renee, and thank you for sharing with us!  [&hellip

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Buckwheat Pancakes

Note from Mommypotamus: Did you know that buckwheat is not a grain, but a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb? If you’re avoiding grains – or even if you aren’t – you have got to try these blueberry buckwheat pancakes from Renee of Raising Generation Nourished. Welcome, Renee, and thank you for sharing with us! 

Do you remember weekend breakfasts as a kid?

Boy I sure do. Nothing beat a bowl of sugary cereal and Looney Tunes after a long week at school. (Yes I am dating myself, but you know…the real cartoons. The ones they used to show. My kids are so deprived!)

In my quest to create the same relaxed, fun Saturday mornings I remember as a kid, but keep the food real and nourishing, I have perfected my pancake game. Pancakes are fun and fast, but can be finicky, especially when you have to be a gluten-free house.

I keep a few different pancake recipes up my sleeve so that we can rotate different seeds/grains and get plenty of variety. My staple simple and quick pancakes make great toaster pancakes right out of the freezer and I use them frequently, even for school morning breakfasts. I also like the texture and taste of using soaked oats for pancakes.

But it’s almost like buckwheat was just made for pancakes. The deep, almost nutty flavor of buckwheat is a match made in heaven with blueberries, and the texture of these pancakes feels just like “regular” pancakes.

 

buckwheat-pancakes-blueberryMy kids are crazy about blueberries, and with the 60-70 pounds we pick every July, we are swimming in them for most of the year. They make the pancakes even more fun and super delicious without a bunch of sugar.

Blueberry Picking

I like using coconut butter or real butter to top the girls’ pancakes. A drizzle of our real, local maple syrup also makes them pretty amazing, although we tend to prefer spreading our blueberry jam from our summer picking on them. Get a couple strips of pastured bacon or fried eggs on the side and those kiddos will forever remember their fun Saturday mornings too!

buckwheat-pancakes-blueberries

Soaked Vs. Sprouted Buckwheat: What’s The Difference?

In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon Morell recommends soaking nuts and seeds in a saltwater solution to reduce phytates and enzyme inhibitors that can cause digestive issues.

Another way to increase the digestibility of nuts and seeds is to sprout them. This is accomplished by soaking them in water, then draining the water and setting them in a colander. The nuts and seeds are then rinsed several times a day until they begin to grow little sprouts. If this sounds too labor intensive for you, don’t worry! You can buy buckwheat that has been sprouted, then dried and ground into a flour.

Long story short, soaking and sprouting buckwheat are both methods for improving the digestibility. I’ve included instructions for using both kinds below.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes - Did you know that buckwheat is not a grain, but a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb? If you're avoiding grains - or even if you aren't - you should totally give these a try.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

This batch makes enough pancakes to feed my family of 5 for 2 breakfasts. I usually freeze half!

Ingredients

Instructions (Soaked Flour Version)

  1. The night before you want to make the pancakes, put the buckwheat flour, water, and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Leave the bowl in a warm area of your kitchen (I do under the light in my oven since it is so cold here) with a towel covering the top.
  2. The next morning add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the blueberries and blend together with a hand mixer. You can add more water if you want thinner pancakes, or add more flour if you want them thicker
  3. If you are using fresh blueberries you can fold them into the batter. If you are using frozen blueberries you will want to just drop the berries onto the batter once it is in the pan or your batter will get really purple!
  4. Cook the pancakes in a medium heat skillet until they bubble on the surface before you flip them – just like “regular” pancakes.

Instructions (Sprouted Flour Version)

  1. Add all ingredients EXCEPT the blueberries and blend together with a hand mixer. You can add more water if you want thinner pancakes, or add more flour if you want them thicker
  2. If you are using fresh blueberries you can fold them into the batter. If you are using frozen blueberries you will want to just drop the berries onto the batter once it is in the pan or your batter will get really purple!
  3. Cook the pancakes in a medium heat skillet until they bubble on the surface before you flip them – just like “regular” pancakes.

Talk to me about your weekend breakfast memories!

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Pain Relief After Tongue And Lip Tie Surgery]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=33946 2015-03-21T19:48:08Z 2015-03-11T16:54:43Z I didn’t know about the secret language . . . Of nursing moms until my daughter was born, but soon I was laughing over niplash stories (ouch!) and occasionally NAKing (nursing at keyboard) with the rest of them. There is one phrase I didn’t hear, though. One phrase which, given the opportunity, would be the [&hellip

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Natural pain relief options after lip and tongue tie surgery

I didn’t know about the secret language . . .

Of nursing moms until my daughter was born, but soon I was laughing over niplash stories (ouch!) and occasionally NAKing (nursing at keyboard) with the rest of them.

There is one phrase I didn’t hear, though. One phrase which, given the opportunity, would be the one thing I’d tell my pre-parent self. In fact, if I could write a simple note and hurl it back in time, it would say this:

Research Tongue Ties

I mean sure, it’s great to have funny stories about washing my son’s new clothes with the tags (and hangers!) still attached. And leaving the house with mismatched shoes? Definitely snort worthy.

But really, I would have preferred to know that the level of sleep deprivation my son and I were both experiencing was not normal. I wish I’d known that he was waking so often to nurse because he couldn’t fully drain my breast during a feeding, and that eating more frequently was the only way he could compensate.

I wish I’d known he was tongue and lip tied

When I shared our story’s happy ending and followed up with this post on how to identify tongue and lip ties at home, I never imagined that it would reach as many moms as it has. Fortunately, word is getting out with your help, and I receive a steady stream of messages from moms who’ve had an “aha moment’ that helped them on their breastfeeding journey. THANK YOU for that. Seriously.

This post is for those of you who have written to ask about pain-management after the procedure. As I’ve said before, I’m not an expert on this, but I will share what worked for me. If you’ve had the procedure done, please share anything you found helpful in the comments!

Before we get to that, though, let’s discuss two often-asked questions:

Do Babies Feel Pain?

It seems silly to even wonder about this, doesn’t it? And yet it’s what medical professionals used to believe, which is why they performed procedures like open heart surgery without anesthesia or pain killers. (source 1, source 2) Newer research contradicts this, and so does common sense, but occasionally I still hear it said.

When I considered whether or not to have both of my sons’ tongue and lip ties revised, I was very concerned about the discomfort it would cause my boys. Fortunately, the frenulum – or the skin that attaches the lip or tongue to the mouth – has very few nerve endings. The nerve endings of newborns are particularly underdeveloped – a fact I took comfort in when I had my second son’s ties revised just weeks after he was born. (Source: Personal conversations with Dr. Kotlow, a leading expert on tongue and lip ties, and conversations with several lactation consultants)

After weighing the risks and benefits, I felt certain that both my boys would benefit from a revision. Looking back, it made a huge difference both times, and I’m so glad I did. If I had the choice to make again, I’d definitely do it. Of course, I’d use the natural pain management techniques I’ve listed below, too.

Why Not Conventional Pain Relievers?

Though there is still a lot of research to be done, some evidence suggests that tongue ties may be more common in babies who have a MTHFR genetic mutation. I’ll be writing more about MTHFR soon, but for now the important thing to note is that people with MTHFR mutations may have low levels of glutathione, a master antioxidant that is essential for cellular redox homeostasis, detoxification, immune function, oxygen transport, protection of DNA and other processes. (source 1, source 2)

Acetaminaphin – aka Tylenol – depletes glutathione from the body. (source) Given the range of illnesses in which low glutathione levels may play a role – ADD, autism, colitis, Chrohn’s, depression and eczema for example – my personal approach is to avoid Tylenol unless a person’s MTHFR status is known. (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6,  source 7,)

So what about ibuprofen? have not been able to find much information on it’s use in individuals with MTHFR, but some people I have spoken with think it’s a better option. However, the benefits still need to be weighed against the risks.

According to Dr. Claire McCarthy, “Researchers from Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis looked at medical records of children admitted to the hospital, and found that of those who had kidney damage, a significant number had been taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen (Aleve). Some of the kidney damage was serious.

This isn’t news to doctors; we’ve known that along with possible bleeding problems, NSAIDs can damage kidneys. But we think of it as rare and we don’t always mention it to parents. Which is our bad. But since medications like ibuprofen and naproxen are readily available without a prescription, we don’t always get a chance to talk with parents about it either.” (source)

Fortunately, I found that boy of my little ones did very well with a more natural approach after their revisions. Here are some suggestions based on my experience:

 Natural pain relief options after tongue and lip tie surgery

Pain Management After Tongue And Lip Tie Surgery

Before The Procedure

Chiropractic and/or CranioSacral Therapy – Because the mobility of the tongue has been compromised, tongue tied children may experience whole body tension. It makes sense if you think about it – if for some reason you had to clench your teeth for an extended period of time you’d soon be feeling tension in your neck and shoulders. A visit to the chiropractor 1-2 days before the procedure may help release some of that tension so that a child goes into the procedure as comfortable as possible. Massage prior to the procedure may be helpful as well.

Rescue Remedy For Kids – About ten minutes prior to the procedure, I gave my youngest son Rescue Remedy For Kids using the dosage instructions on the label. He had been fussing a lot and I was worried that he’d be really upset about the procedure, but he immediately calmed down and went to sleep. Most of the time I notice a difference after giving Rescue Remedy, but it’s not typically that dramatic. However, my experience with the grown-up version is that it does have a calming effect even when it’s not outwardly obvious.

After The Procedure

Within 48 Hours

During this period I used Rescue Remedy with my son seemed uncomfortable. It’s also important to follow-up with chiropractic care and/or CranioSacral therapy if at all possible. According to Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC, who is the lactation consultant who first educated me about ties, CranioSacral therapy administered by a skilled practitioner seems to consistently improve recovery and overall oral function following the procedure. (source: personal email)

With my older son I was able to follow-up with CranioSacral therapy, but when my younger son was born we found that the closest practitioner was a 5+ hour drive. We opted to see a skilled pediatric chiropractor instead, and saw excellent improvement.

And of course, it’s important to follow-up with a lactation consultant following the procedure. If your LC can’t meet you within 48 hours don’t stress, but do schedule a visit as soon as possible.

During Stretching Exercises

This was actually the part that both of my son’s seemed the most bothered by. With my youngest son I finally realized that it wasn’t so much due to discomfort, but due to the fact that he didn’t like my husbands huge fingers pressing around in his mouth. For that reason, we started waiting until he was asleep to do them. We gave him Rescue Remedy with a dropper as he slept, then waited 10 minutes and did the exercises. He fussed a little but didn’t even wake up most of the time.

Other Suggestions That May Help

Acupressure

A book I’m reading right now – 12 Acupressure Points For Pediatric Sleep & Wellness – says that stimulating the “heart point” on the hands can be helpful for tongue ties. I emailed the author to find out how acupressure could be helpful for a structural issue like ties, and she wrote back and said that it helps the area to relax.

Ice Water

According to Mellanie, whom I mentioned earlier, babies seem to tolerate stretches better when parents dip their fingers in ice water so that they are very cold prior to stretching.

Coconut Oil

Another tip Mellanie shared with me is to dip your fingers in a little coconut oil before massaging/stretching the area.

Do you have a tip for managing discomfort after a tongue/lip tie release?

Please share it below!

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Eat Better And Spend Less]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=33938 2015-03-13T17:56:56Z 2015-03-09T15:48:37Z You know you’re low on cash… When your favorite place to rent movies is the public library. That was us. As newlyweds, Daddypotamus and I made a game of stretching our entry level salaries in every way possible. We bought the cheapest foods we could get our hands on – thirty cent ramen noodle packets, canned tuna and mac [&hellip

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weekend-1

You know you’re low on cash…

When your favorite place to rent movies is the public library. That was us.

As newlyweds, Daddypotamus and I made a game of stretching our entry level salaries in every way possible. We bought the cheapest foods we could get our hands on – thirty cent ramen noodle packets, canned tuna and mac & cheese in a box. We refinished furniture found at garage sales and thrift stores. Our dates consisted of playing croquet in our backyard. (And yes, the fence behind us just keeled over one day. We did fix it!)

The True Cost Of Cheap Food

We thought we were being smart. But as I wrote in my post on eating real food on a budget, we quickly discovered the true cost of cheap food. Soon after we said “I do” my health was wrecked, and we were told not to even try starting a family because I was too weak.

So we changed. With every pay increase, we bought better food. When we got raises no one could even tell, because our house, clothes and cars looked pretty much the same. Mr. Budget knew, though. He saw our grocery bill climbing like a sherpa with his pants on fire.

And it was worth it. With every mouthful, we brought ourselves closer to healing. We got that family that we dreamed of – though in our dreams we weren’t constantly fishing credit cards out of nut butter jars – and we got each other back. (If you’ve ever been chronically ill, you know the toll it can take on relationships.)

Getting sick was the best worst thing that ever happened to me, because it woke me up and motivated me to prioritize my family’s health.

It also inspired the mission behind Mommypotamus, which is to help you do the same for your family.

Unfortunately, you’ve probably noticed by now that the best available ingredients and products cost double or triple the price of what we grew up using as kids. If you’ve ever wished you could waive your magic wand and make real food and non-toxic products more affordable – maybe even LESS than conventional brands with dubious ingredients – read on.

I’ve shared some of my best tips for eating real food on a budget here, but recently I came across something new, and it’s this:

thrive-market-real-food-discount-prices

Thrive Market: Wholesome Food At Wholesale Prices

You guys, it’s Whole Foods meets Costco, only you don’t even have to leave your house. For less than $5 a month ($59.95 annually), you can shop 3,500 of the world’s best-selling natural and organic products at 25-50% below retail prices.

Thrive Market delivers real food, supplements, personal care, beauty products and home goods from brands like Dr. Bronner’s, Spectrum Naturals, Bob’s Red Mill, Real Salt, and Navitas Naturals straight to your door at wholesale prices, and you get FREE shipping on orders over $49.

Thrive carries non-perishables, so they don’t compete with local farmers. I still buy my meat and produce from farmers I know on a first-name basis, but I stock my pantry with items from Thrive.

Is This For Real?

Now, just because something is sold at health food stores doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy, so I was a bit skeptical about Thrive. But when I logged in for the first time, I discovered several of my favorite pantry staples for sale, plus items like pastured lard and potato chips fried in coconut oil.

Best of all, my order only came to $59.85 – on Amazon it would have cost $120.39!! (And I have Amazon Prime, so that’s even with free shipping.)

And just like that, my membership paid for itself in just one order.

Here’s what I stocked up on:

Coconut Aminos

At Whole Foods, this item costs $6.69 – it’s  $12.99 on Amazon. At Thrive Market, it’s $4.45. That’s a 33-66% savings.

Real Salt (26 oz.)

At Whole Foods, this item costs $7.69 – it’s $8.72 on Amazon. At Thrive Market, it’s $5.65. That’s a 26-35% savings.

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour (16 oz.)

At Whole Foods, this item costs $11.99 – it’s $14.15 on Amazon. At Thrive Market, it’s $8.45. That’s a 29-40% savings.

Water Kefir Grains From Cultures For Health

My grains died last summer when our A/C died and my kitchen got overheated. They’re sold on Cultures For Health’s website for $16.99, but I ordered them through Thrive for $9.45. That’s a 44% savings. (Note: To simplify the comparison of Amazon vs. Thrive I pretended that these grains can be purchased through Amazon with free shipping. However, in reality they have to be purchased through Cultures For Health and shipping is not included. So actually, the Amazon figure should be a little higher, but I didn’t want to overcomplicate things.)

Dr. Bronners Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap

I use this to make tooth soap and as a gentle baby wash. At Whole Foods, this item costs $15.99 – it’s $19.49 on Amazon. At Thrive Market it’s $11.45. That’s a 25-41% savings.

Navitas Naturals Organic Shelled Hemp Seeds

At Whole Foods, this item costs $11.99 – it’s $11.49 on Amazon. At Thrive Market, it’s $8.45. That’s a 30-40% savings.

Vitamin K2

I wrote about why I take Vitamin K2 here. At Whole Foods it costs $23.99 – it’s $13.69 on Amazon. At Thrive Market, it’s $11.95. That’s a 13-50% savings. (And don’t I feel silly, I’ve been paying 50% more at Whole Foods!)

Other Staples You’ll Want To Check Out

  • Grass-fed gelatin (They have both Great Lakes and Vital Proteins, though Vital Proteins is out of stock right now)*
  • Bulletproof Coffee
  • Dr. Bronners Castile Soap (bars and liquid)
  • Olive Oil (the real stuff!)
  • Coconut EVERYTHING (oil, flour, flakes, sugar)
  • Organic Tomato Paste In Glass Jars
  • Organic, Fair Trade Chocolate Bars
  • Grass-Fed Beef Jerky
  • Nuts
  • Epic Bars
  • Cacao
  • African Black Soap (I sometimes use this as shampoo)
  • Argan Oil (amazing for skin and hair)
  • Rescue Remedy
  • Diva Cups

Not everything at Thrive Market is stuff I’d personally buy, but with hundreds of items to choose from I’ve found more than enough to make shopping with them a huge money saver for my family. If it’s non-perishable and Whole Foods worthy, you’re likely to find it there.

* Also, if you notice that something you want is out-of-stock, make sure to check back in a few days. They just moved into a larger warehouse so that they can meet all the orders that are coming in.

My Approach To Shopping At Thrive Market

One of the things I love about Thrive is how it helps me stay organized. Next to every product there’s a little ♥ symbol that you can select to add items to your “favorites” list. Here I am adding castile soap to my list . . .

thrive-market-1

And here’s my list . . .

thrive-market-shopping-list

Using my favorites list, I can quickly double-check my pantry and replace staples. All I have to do is run through my list and add to my cart as needed.  I order in bulk about once a month to keep things simple and make sure I get free shipping.

Thrive Gives: Making Real Food Possible For EVERY Family

And here’s the part that I love the most: Thrive doesn’t just want to make healthy living affordable for your family, they want to make it affordable for EVERY FAMILY.

When you purchase a membership, Thrive Market donates a free membership to a low-income American family. With this membership, items like chlorine-free diapers can be purchased for less than Huggies – that’s a big deal!

I believe Thrive Market is a tipping point for us all right now. Farmers are showing an increasing interest in switching to non-GMO crops, and big companies like Hershey’s are pledging to return to simple, easy-to-understand ingredients. (One press release also suggests that two of their most popular products may be going GMO-free, too.)

Why are they doing this? Because they’re following our dollars. If we can help more people put their dollars toward real food, we can make even more of an impact. Imagine if struggling families could afford to eat well and use products that DON’T make life more difficult due to heavy toxic loads. It’s a game changer. I really believe that.

Free 2 Month Membership + An Additional 20% Off Your Order

If you’re ready to see how much you can save with Thrive, click here for a special 2-month membership plus an additional 20% off your first order. Yes, that’s 20% off items that are already priced 25-50% below retail. Also, don’t forget that if you spend more than $49 you’ll get free shipping, too. Happy shopping!

Click Here For Your Free 2-Month Membership & 20% Off Coupon

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Coconut Lime Chicken Curry Soup]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=33781 2015-03-21T19:54:22Z 2015-03-06T16:56:44Z   “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine I’d love to be a bohemian world-traveler, but realistically my adventures are limited by my budget, the availability of goat babysitters, and the number of hours I am willing to try to entertain the potami in [&hellip

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 Coconut Lime Chicken Curry Soup Recipe

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

– St. Augustine

I’d love to be a bohemian world-traveler, but realistically my adventures are limited by my budget, the availability of goat babysitters, and the number of hours I am willing to try to entertain the potami in an enclosed space, whether it be a car or plane.

And that’s okay. Someday I hope to check a few more exotic places off my bucket list, but for now raising my little family is it’s own adventure. For now, I’m content to let my tastebuds to the traveling for me with mediterranean falafel, cajun creole, risottoSpanish rice, and other dishes from around the world.

This simple Thai-inspired soup melds tangy lime and sweet coconut with warming ginger and fresh cilantro. It’s one of my favorite ways to use leftover roasted chicken and homemade bone broth, and it’s easy enough to make on a busy weeknight.

Coconut Lime Chicken Curry Soup #paleodinner #paleosoup #bonebroth #chickenbroth #turmeric

Coconut Lime Chicken Curry Soup

Ingredients

Instructions

Add chicken broth, coconut milk, coconut butter, salt, curry powder, ginger, minced jalapeno and peas to a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in chicken, lime juice and lime zest, then ladle into bowls. Top with cilantro and onion, then serve.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Natural Remedies For Tummy Aches]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=33726 2015-03-06T03:42:43Z 2015-03-05T15:21:01Z “Mommy, my tummy hurts” Have you ever heard those words, asked where it hurts and watched your child point to their WHOLE tummy, plus maybe an elbow and an earlobe for good measure? Yeah, me too. With such vague information, it can be incredibly challenging to figure out how to help them feel better, and when call a doctor [&hellip

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home-remedies-stomach-aches

“Mommy, my tummy hurts”

Have you ever heard those words, asked where it hurts and watched your child point to their WHOLE tummy, plus maybe an elbow and an earlobe for good measure?

Yeah, me too. With such vague information, it can be incredibly challenging to figure out how to help them feel better, and when call a doctor if needed.

After awhile, I put together a checklist that has made the process easier for me, and today I’m going to share it with you. Please keep in mind that “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official as things get for me professionally.  I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, and they are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. As I say in my full disclaimer, I’m just a mom sharing what’s worked for my family.

Ready to dive in? Good! Before we go over the checklist, I thought you might be wondering . . .

Why not use the pink stuff?

I’m talking about the sweet, ooey-gooey liquid most of us took as children, of course. I loved the flavor of that stuff, which is why I was surprised and saddened to learn that its active ingredient is bismuth, a heavy metal.

And we’re not just talking about a little bismuth. According to this Popular Science article:

“Most modern medicines are carefully synthesized organic molecules so potent that each pill contains only a few milligrams of the active ingredient. Pepto-Bismol is a fascinating exception, both because its active ingredient is bismuth, a heavy metal commonly used in shotgun pellets, and because there is a lot of it in each dose. So much, in fact, that I was able to extract a slug of bismuth metal from a pile of pink pills.” (emphasis mine)

Ironically, bismuth is known to cause some of the very symptoms it is used to treat – constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting – plus others such as seizures, depression, muscle weakness, uncontrollable flapping movements of the hands, and ringing of the ears. (source1, source 2)

While these effects are generally associated with excessive dosages, I personally wonder if there could be negative effects of ingesting heavy metals even in small amounts. Even more worrying to me is the thought that children who are drawn to the candy-like flavor of this medicine may consume more than is advised when a parent is distracted.

For those reasons, plus the fact that it’s loaded with artificial dyes and other ingredients I want to avoid, I use time honored (and research supported) home remedies when the potami have a tummy ache. Now let’s get to that checklist!

My 6-Question Stomach Ache Checklist

These questions were inspired by this wonderful article from Scholastic – I’ve matched them up with some home remedies I’ve found helpful along with a couple of additional questions.

Question #1: Does it hurt to go potty?

If so, it may be constipation. When this is the case, children sometimes complain that it hurts to go to the bathroom, or experience “Crampy pain that occurs an hour or two after a meal.” (source 1, source 2)

Remedies That May Help: Magnesium, Probiotics, Massage, Acupressure

Question #2: Do you have diarrhea?

According to the Scholastic article, “Having the runs occasionally is common in kids. But when kids pass loose stools three or more times a day, it’s most often brought on by gastroenteritis, a viral infection of the stomach and intestines (a.k.a. a stomach bug). Certain meds (like antibiotics), food poisoning, bacterial infections, and parasites from contaminated food or water also bring on the runs. ‘Diarrhea is very common,’ says Dr. Rosen. ‘If it happens a lot, it could mean food allergies or a gastrointestinal condition like celiac disease.'”

Remedies That May Help: Probiotics, Acupressure, Bentonite Clay or Activated Charcoal

Question #3: Are you tooting a lot?

This may indicate gas or bloating.

Remedies That May Help: Probiotics, Massage, Herbal Tea

Question #4: Are you feeling upset or scared?

“Vague belly pain is something a lot of kids between the ages of 2 and 8 say they have when they need attention or they’re feeling stressed, says Dr. Kligler. ‘That’s the place where they experience worry.'” (source)

Remedies That May Help: Magnesium, Massage, Acupressure, Herbal Tea

Question #5: Do you feel like you might throw up?

If the answer is yes, there are several herbal teas that have been traditionally used for nausea.

Remedies That May Help: Herbal tea.

Question #6: Do you feel any burning? Where?

When I ask this, I’m checking to see if indigestion/heartburn might be an issue. I keep following with clarifying questions until I’m sure it’s not simply a sore throat. If I think it’s indigestion, I might try a digestive tonic.

Remedies That May Help: Digestive tonic such as apple cider vinegar.

home-remedies-stomach-aches-kids

Home Remedies For Stomach Aches

Magnesium

May Be Helpful For: Constipation, Emotional Upset

According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, low magnesium levels can slow down the bowels and cause constipation. Because it is not absorbed well via the digestive tract but is absorbed well through skin, many care providers suggest improving magnesium levels with epsom salt baths or magnesium oil.

Magnesium is also often referred to as the “Relaxation Mineral” and the “Ultimate Chill Pill” because of it’s ability to promote relaxation and help the body adapt to stress, which may be helpful if a stomach ache is due to emotional upset. (source 1source 2)

Probiotics

May Be Helpful For: Constipation, Diarrhea, Gas/Bloating

According to Harvard Health Publications, researchers at King’s College in London reviewed 14 well constructed studies and found that probiotics reduced “‘gut transit time’ by 12.4 hours, increased the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped soften stools, making them easier to pass.”

Several studies have also found probiotics to be helpful for infectious diarrhea / antibiotic associated diarrhea, and some studies related to IBS have concluded it is helpful for reducing gas and bloating. (source 1, source 2)

Massage

May Be Helpful For: Constipation, Emotional Upset, Gas

Kids + Love + Acupuncture has a wonderful tutorial that demonstrates the benefits of Tuina massage for helping the bowels move – plus tips on how to do it – here.

Also, here is a more general tutorial on how to massage constipated babies and children, and here is a tutorial on moving gas bubbles through the gut.  Of course, massage is also helpful for soothing and calming children. I love to massage my little one’s hands or backs while we talk. (They giggle too much when I rub their feet, unfortunately.)

Acupressure

May Be Helpful For: Constipation, Diarrhea, Emotional Upset

A book I’m reading right now – 12 Acupressure Points For Pediatric Sleep & Wellness – has protocols for both constipation and diarrhea that may be useful.

Though acupressure and acupuncture are not often embraced by western medicine, the World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as an effective modality for a variety of conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, knee pain, periarthritis of the shoulder, facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders), headache, dental pain, tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, induction of labor, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting, postoperative pain, stroke, essential hypertension, primary hypotension, renal colic, leucopenia, adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy, allergic rhinitis, including hay fever, biliary colic, depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke), acute bacillary dysentery, primary dysmenorrhea, acute epigastralgia, peptic ulcer and acute and chronic gastritis. (source, emphasis mine)

Acupressure also has a long history of use as a calming technique.

Bentonite Clay And Activated Charcoal

May be helpful for: Diarrhea

If eating clay sound crazy to you, consider this: Until it was reformulated in 2003, one of the main active ingredients in the super popular OTC medication – Kaopectate – was kaolin clay. They’ve since replaced it with subsalicylate bismuth, possibly to compete more directly with the pink goo that’s so popular. (source)

But they weren’t the first to use clay in this way. A phenomenon called geophagy (eating dirt or clay) has long been practiced in many cultures around the world. In a meta-analysis published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, researchers concluded that the most likely reason for this practice is that it “protects the stomach against toxins, parasites, and pathogens.” (source)

“This clay can either bind to harmful things, like microbes, pathogens and viruses, that we are eating or can make a barrier, like a mud mask for our gut,” study researcher Sera Young of Cornell University told Live Science. (source)

In a similar way, activated charcoal is used in emergency rooms to treat certain kinds of poisonings due to it’s ability to absorb toxins. (source)

According to the Natural Medicine Journal, “Research suggests that activated charcoal may benefit people who have diarrhea. However, it is not considered standard care for nonspecific diarrhea. Studies report that activated charcoal may be effective in preventing diarrhea in people undergoing chemotherapy. Experts warn against using activated charcoal with other agents used to treat diarrhea.”

Please keep in mind that we are not talking about the charcoal you grill with, but rather a form that has processed with oxygen and either calcium chloride or zinc chloride. You can find it in health food stores or online.

Herbal Tea

May Be Helpful For: Nausea, Emotional Upset, Gas

Chamomile – According to this analysis, “Chamomile is especially helpful in dispelling gas, soothing the stomach, and relaxing the muscles that move food through the intestines.” The researchers also noted that it may have a calming, sedative effect as well.

Ginger – According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Children over 2 make take ginger to treat nausea, stomach cramping, and headaches. Ask your doctor to help you find the right dose.”

Peppermint – The University of Maryland Medical Center also states that “Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence.” The article also cautions that peppermint should not be given to babies or small children.

Fennel Seeds – These seeds have been traditionally used for “various digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants.” (source)

Caraway Seed – According to WebMD, “Caraway is used for digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines. “

Apple Cider Vinegar

May Be Helpful For: Indigestion

In The 30 Day Heartburn Solution, Craig Fear, NTP, suggests that many cases of heartburn are due to low stomach acid rather than excessive amounts. Apple cider vinegar, which raises acid levels in the stomach, has long been used as a folk remedy for indigestion. Find out more about how it is used as a digestive aid here.

Warm Compress/Hot Water Bottle

May Be Helpful For: All Types Of Tummy Ache

Warmth sometimes has a soothing, relaxing effect, so it might be worth trying.

When Should I See A Doctor?

Of course, there are times when it’s important to seek help. Here are some guidelines I found helpful:

“Some conditions, like ulcers, rarely strike kids before puberty, while others, like celiac disease (an immune system reaction to a protein in some grains), often hard-to-miss symptoms like prolonged diarrhea and weight loss. Dial your doctor if your child has any of the following symptoms:

Under six months old

• fever
• diarrhea (abnormally frequent, watery stools that may contain mucous or blood)
• extreme fussiness
• sunken fontanelle (soft spot)

All ages

• weight loss
• bloody or black stools
• abdominal pain that awakens child at night
• difficulty swallowing
• pain when urinating
• belly pain lasting longer than 24 hours
• vomiting that continues for four to six hours or longer
• vomiting dark green material
• symptoms of dehydration: decreased urination; dry skin, mouth and tongue (look for stickiness under the tongue); no tears; sunken eyes; greyish complexion; extreme drowsiness or lethargy” (source)

Do you have a favorite home remedy for stomach aches? Please share it below!

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