Have you ever met someone and felt an instant connection only to find out you’re totally different . . . and then discovered that you like them anyway? That’s what happened when I “met” Anni Daulter, author of Organically Raised: Conscious Cooking For Babies and Toddlers.
When Anni emailed me about the opportunity to review her book I was star-struck. Gywneth Paltrow, Gwen Stefani and Ricki Lake are just some of the big names that have given glowing reviews. Not that I am really into big name endorsements, but maybe I would be if they were for my book (that I haven’t written)!
When it arrived Katie tore open the package and together we pored over the vibrant pages. Warm colors, beautiful food and photos of little faces mixed in felt like an invitation to see cooking in a whole new light: To let love for those we are cooking for be our inspiration.
It was an invitation I wholeheartedly accepted.
Clash of Ideals
Before I tried the recipes I read through each chapter to better understand Anni’s nutritional philosophy. She started off by gently introducing the idea that breastfeeding should remain the central focus up to at least a year, and then went further, saying:
The average age worldwide for weaning a baby from breast milk is between years 5 and 7. Mothers around the world choose to wean at different times; breastfeed your baby as long as both of you feel comfortable.
What an unexpected and welcome way to start a book on feeding babies! But then things got sticky. For example, if breastfeeding is not desired/possible, Anni recommends using DHA enriched formula. I disagree. DHA and ARA obtained from natural sources like a mother’s milk and/fish oil are vital to healthy brain growth, but the substances made in labs can be toxic. A recent report, Replacing Mother: Imitating Human Breastmilk in the Laboratory,
details research questioning the alleged benefits of adding “novel” omega-3 fatty acids, produced in laboratories and extracted from algae and fungus, into infant formulas. The additives raised health and safety red flags during preapproval testing while aggressive marketing campaigns by some infant formula manufacturers appear to have encouraged new mothers to give up nursing for the questionable infant products.
“When I worked in the hospital’s neonatal ward, the nurses all called it “the diarrhea formula”,” says Sam Heather Doak, LPN, IBCLC, from Marietta, Ohio. “We’ve seen infants, tiny little humans, with diarrhea that just wouldn’t stop after being given this formula.” For infants, virulent and long-term diarrhea is considered a serious and life-threatening medical episode. Source
I don’t want to blow one little statement out of proportion. My reason for even bringing it up is this: While I don’t agree with every aspect of her nutritional approach (more details below), one thing is sure: Anni knows flavors. She’s a culinary genius. Of the handful of recipes I selected to try with my family, two shot straight to the top of family favorites that we will be making again and again. So this is my disclaimer: If you buy (or win!) this book, please substitute ingredients and methods where you feel it is appropriate. If you’re interested in what adjustments I would make they are listed at the bottom of this post.
Now to the Good (REALLY GOOD!!!) Stuff
But rather than review the outcome of each recipe we tried, I’ve decided to share with you our absolute favorite. Hot weather, cold weather, rain, sun, or monsoon. It doesn’t matter. I will always love this soup!
Kael’s Mexican Rice Tortilla Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 6 cups vegetable stock (we substituted chicken stock)
- 1 cup rice (we soaked and cooked ours Nourishing Traditions style)
- 28 ounces whole tomatoes
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 chile pepper, seeded and chopped (This made the dish much too spicy for Katie. We all loved it but will use less next time for her benefit.)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon wheat germ (we omitted this)
- ½ lemon
- ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges
- Blue corn tortilla chips, crushed (we used homemade spelt tortilla chips)
- ¼ cup cilantro
- Pour the oil into a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, cilantro, corn, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is tender. Set aside.
- Combine the stock, rice (we cooked ours using NT practices and added it at the end), canned and fresh tomatoes, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and wheat germ in a large stockpot. Add the reserved onion mixture. Stir together. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked well.
- Serve with your choice of garnishes.
How Good Is It Really???
This is one of those meals Daddypotamus couldn’t get enough of. In fact, he was eying the leftovers greedily while I typed this post. He’ll eat this one again and again, because it feels like comfort food! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Are you still reading? Fantastic, because now I get to tell you that Anni has generously agreed to give away not one but TWO Organically Raised cookbooks! The goal of the contest is to make new people aware of the Mommypotamus blog, so…
- Find a Facebook friend who hasn’t followed Mommypotamus
- Get them to “like” the Mommypotamus page
- Tell them to leave a comment on the page wall that says something like this:
“Hi there! [Your Name] just introduced me to Mommypotamus!”
This Sunday, I’ll draw a name from the new people who have both liked and commented on the wall, and if your person is picked, you will BOTH win a copy of the cookbook!
For more information on Anni and her passion for food, check outwww.consciousfamilyliving.com and http://www.organicallyraisedcookbook.com.
Here are the ways I would adjust recipes to fit my nutritional philosophy:
- While several recipes call for soy or soymilk I would avoid these products at all costs. Unfermented soy has been linked to so many diseases and disorders I won’t try to list them here. Check out this article for more info. Depending on the recipe I would substitute chicken or another similar ingredient. When soy sauce is called for I always make sure to use brands that are “naturally brewed,” which means fermented.
- Substitute coconut or olive oil when canola oil is called for.
- Substitute sprouted flour for regular flour and sprouted breads for refined white breads.
- Substitute honey for agave nectar. Although it is marketed as a healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, agave syrup has a higher fructose content than high fructose corn syrup and it is usually processed using toxic chemicals.
- The cookbook begins using cottage cheese and yogurt in recipes for children 8-12 months. The proteins in cows milk are too large for a baby that age to digest and could lead to leaky gut syndrome and subsequent allergies. I would wait well past one year to introduce these products and then I would only use raw, unpasteurized versions. Because the proteins are smaller, goat milk, cheese and yogurt can be introduced earlier. For the same reason I would only serve recipes that call for cheese to older toddlers and use it raw and/or melted at low temps where possible.
- I would soak all the breakfast cereals and other grains according to Nourishing Traditions practices and serve to only older babies.
- I believe it is healthy to consume more healthy fats and proteins from pastured animals than the book recommends.
- Anni devotes an entire chapter to special diets and includes vegeterianism and veganism as viable options for babies/toddlers. While I believe that a diet that includes pasture raised meats is ideal, a vegetarian diet that regularly incorporates pasture-raised eggs and raw dairy truly is a viable option. However, in my opinion veganism is not. Lilla’s post about transitioning from veganism to vegetarianism is a great primer on the subject. In a nutshell, vegans are typically deficient in fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K as well as B-12 vitamins (the latter three can only be obtained naturally through animal products). The only way to somewhat get around this is to supplement like crazy. In my opinion the fact that we need these vitamins means we were meant to eat the foods that contain them.