Product Review: I Love My Prenatal Vitamins

*This is not a sponsored post. I received no money or even a free sample for writing this.*

My nutritionist didn’t give me a list of prenatal vitamins, she just told me which bottle to buy: New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal. And something about the chemistry of it all means I also have to take their Bone Strength supplement, too. I don’t know exactly why, but I trust Jan. And she knows that we don’t have tons of money.

  • The downsides?
  • I have to take three a day. But I can take two with dinner, so it’s really just morning and evening. And I take medicine three times a day anyway.
  • They’re on the expensive side. About $25/month when I bought a big bottle (192 pills). Plus about $20/month for the calcium. And that’s after a heavy discount from on the prenatal and on the calcium supplement. BUT! I did just find a whole trimester’s worth of prenatal pills (270) on Amazon for $54.65. Let’s hope that price lasts, because I’ve still got half a bottle from my previous purchase.
  • The glass bottles break if not shipped properly. sent me a brand new bottle immediately, though, and I didn’t need to even show them the pictures of the broken bottle.
  • I have to clip my nails more often. I supposed that’s a good thing–they’re strong, more calcium, etc. But I’m not a manicure girl.

Here are the positives (warning–this may contain too much information if you’re squeamish):

  • No smelly pee. This is super important, actually. Smelly pee after swallowing a vitamin means that you are not absorbing your vitamin/supplement. As my friend’s doctor likes to say, “You’ll just have really expensive pee.” If I need to take three pills a day to actually absorb this stuff, then that is just fine with me!
  • No burping. If you’ve ever swallowed a pill and then burped and tasted the pill later, you know why this is up at #2. GROSS!
  • They’re small! Seriously. My anti-depressant capsules are bigger. No horse pills, here.
  • They are made of food. For real. Organic food! I try to eat as much organic food as possible and will up my game on that while actually pregnant. So my prenatal should be organic, too. It is going into my body three times a day, after all. This is how New Chapter puts it:
    • Organic Formulated with Organic Ingredients
    • Probiotic Cultured with Beneficial Live Probiotics
    • Whole Bioavailable, Easy-to-Digest Food [Easy-to-Digest = no burping up vitamin taste]
  • Probiotics. These are mostly good bacteria that help us digest food. They are expensive if you buy good ones separately. They are soooo good for the tummy. My tummy is happier since I started taking these.
  • They come in glass bottles. No plastic, no BPA.
  • Naturally Gluten Free & Vegetarian. I don’t care about keeping gluten or meat out of my diet, but neither gluten nor meat belong in my vitamins.
  • Between the Bone Strength supplement and the prenatal vitamin, I’m getting enough Vitamin D3 to stop taking the extra supplement I started when the blood test came back low in June. Same with iron.
So, if you are in the market for a good prenatal vitamin, I highly recommend this one. I’m pretty sure it’s actually healthier than a lot of the actual food I eat. But let’s not get into that today…

Disordered Eating Without An Eating Disorder

I do not starve myself, but I sometimes eat less than one meal’s calories during the course of an entire day. I stop eating not because I hate my body (I love it, in fact) but because my anxiety disorder attacks my appetite. The minute stress hits me, my appetite runs and hides. Even before I parted ways with the baby’s family this week, the conflict between me and his grandmother was so stressful that I often had no appetite until I was done at 5:30 or 6:00. I don’t know how, but I managed to take care of an infant and even take the baby and my dog to the dog park without having eaten at all. But this last week in September was full of conflict; its events pushed all the wrong buttons.[hr]

[ordered_list style=”decimal”]

  1. Inter-personal conflict. On Monday, I had to say “no” to a woman unused to hearing the word. I stood my ground despite her attempts to bowl me over. I stared her dislike for me in the face. I am not used to being disliked, and my instinct is to bend over backwards to convince everybody that I am likable. Giving in would have felt wrong. Standing my ground guaranteed that this woman was not going to change her mind.
  2. Money changes. As I mentioned in my last post, I lost a job this week. Stressful for anyone.
  3. Schedule changes. I suck at transitions. I do best when I have a routine that sticks. Since I’m more of a freelancer than anything else, that’s just not my reality right now. Losing this job was a big schedule change and a sudden transition.


I schedule my meals and snacks around things that I have planned for my day because if I’m stressed, I tend to ignore the “I’m hungry!” signals from my body. On Tuesday and Thursday, the kids I’m with eat every couple of hours and it’s easy to make myself some healthy food to eat with them. This Wednesday, my first day not going to my second job, I had no schedule at all and don’t even remember what I ate. I don’t know if I ate anything real until dinner.

The biggest message my anxiety sends when I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack is that I need to take care of everything else before I take care of myself. I become convinced that if I can just do everything that everyone else might need, I can contain the demons. Before I know it, I’ve run out of energy because I haven’t eaten and don’t even have the energy to make myself something to eat.

Anxiety disorders have an element in common with eating disorders–an effort to exert control over life’s crazier emotions by exerting control over food, which comes up every single day and often goes unnoticed. I will also refuse to answer certain emails or answer the phone (sorry if your email or call went ignored!) but I can catch up on that. I can’t catch up on food. When things feel overwhelming, I sabotage myself by ignoring my body. I’m working on it, but what can I do when the idea of food just turns me off? Does anyone else forget or choose not to eat?

Day 3?! Come ON.

It is only Day 3 of the Lower Klonopin Dose. It feels like it’s been a month. It is only half a milligram less than I was taking, but that’s a 30% decrease. Which means that these things happen:

  • I get so stressed out about choosing an ice cream flavor and then about the ice cream melting in the car that I ask Nathan why it is fun for him to stress me out and decide that we will not get any ice cream at all.
  • I try to ask Nathan for help finding the yogurt-covered raisins and instead stutter something incomprehensible. I have to take a deep breath and a long pause before beginning again and actually succeed in ask the question. I do not have a stutter. Never have. Until today, apparently.
  • I am annoyed because I have finished my soda and the grocery store has no recycling in the parking lot. I am so torn up about what to do with the empty can that I forget to take it out of the cart.
  • I contemplate calling some sort of health department over the mold in the bathroom ceiling.
  • I accuse Nathan of laughing at me at once every hour.
I hate this process. I hate it. I hate it. And I apologize to anyone and everyone if I have bitten your head off recently. BUT. I did go out to Sunday brunch with Nathan. We had a really lovely time.

Yummy! Smoked Salmon!

Let Them Eat Yogurt!

The point of this post is that if you want to do something to improve the quality of what you put in your body, just read the list of ingredients on the things that you know in your heart should be simply healthy. Like yogurt. It applies to everyone, but especially to children, pregnant women and couples who want to conceive a child.

Yoplait makes this stuff called Go-Gurt that really makes me angry. Why should yogurt make me angry? Because Go-Gurt not yogurt; it’s adulterated yogurt. I encountered this stuff most recently during playgroup while babysitting and, not being a parent, felt that I shouldn’t say anything. So I’m saying something here. I hate this stuff. My friends at Fooducate hate it too. Get this. “A friend was strolling through her local supermarket when she came upon the yogurt section. A mom was there with her kids, and she gave them choice of several yogurt flavors. They picked cotton candy Go-Gurt. Cotton candy ?!!? As if all the stuff put into kids’ yogurts isn’t enough, now we’re encouraging them to look for spun sugar in their yogurt.” Seriously. Cotton candy. Can I just repeat this author’s ?!!? and add my own #@%^ you, Yoplait! As Fooducate cleverly points out, if this were in the “treats” section, rather than the “yogurt” section, everyone would be much clearer on what this stuff actually is. Sugar. A treat. Something your body can probably handle once in a while. It is not the same as yogurt.

Don't even get me started on how I feel about putting commercials on FOOD or about kids sucking on plastic. I hate this product in every possible way.

(A note on the incredibly useful Fooducate iPhone appit uses the camera on your iPhone to scan any bar code in the grocery store and then tells you important things like “NOT 100% whole grain!” or “Minimally processed food!” It also gives each product a letter grade based on how the nutritionists they asked would rate it as well as the entire range of grades given to the products in that category. In “potato chips” a B might be as good as you’re going to get. In “dried fruit” just keep looking for an A or an A+! LOVE THEM.)

While Fooducate objects, rightly, to all the sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, and all the artificial flavors and color that go into making yogurt taste anything like cotton candy, I’d like to add my own objection: it’s got carrageenen in it. My nutritionist told me to avoid anything with carrageenen in it, and, overwhelmed by things to add to my diet, I didn’t get around to researching why until today.

What is carrageenan? It’s a bit like gelatin. For many years, probably centuries, the Irish made it by boiling a certain type of moss to get out the stuff that made the plant cells so strong. Sounds better than most ways of getting gelatin-like ingredients! Unfortunately, most companies don’t use that method. It is now chemically extracted. I want to believe Tom’s of Maine that what’s in their toothpaste is safe, but I don’t eat toothpaste, I spit it out. Plus, the other toothpaste brands scare me more. Props to the company, by the way, for going into each ingredient in such detail on their website! But that’s a side note. Point is, I don’t believe that all “food-grade” carrageenan is safe. [You can read more about that and how the extraction process/production of carrageenan changed in this (technical) paper I found in the UN Fisheries and Agriculture Dept. archives–thanks for being awesome, Google.]

Why do I think it’s unsafe? There are just too many doubts, and when the evidence is inconclusive at best, why not just avoid it? It may cause cancer. It may give you stomach aches. One researcher is looking into a link to breast cancer. It’s not a necessary ingredient in anything unless you are a 19th century Irish lady trying to make a specific kind of desert. It’s easy to avoid the stuff–the name is easy to remember, and it’s listed on anything you might consume, from supplements like multivitamins to almond and soy milk to, well, “yogurt.” This is a concise explanation with good sources for why it’s best to avoid carrageenan. I’m not a big Dr. Weil fan (the beard kind of creeps me out… but in this case his evidence is good.) Supplements, almond milk and, now, Go-Gurt, which is specifically marketed to children and parents, are the products I have personally come across that sometimes include this additive. It makes me angry that the box tells me that this is “all-natural” and/or “healthy” while the ingredients list tells me that companies like Yoplait and Blue Diamond are adding this unnecessary stuff that just might be unhealthy or, at the very least, uncomfortable, if it gives you a stomach ache.

But I wouldn’t write an entire post that’s just about one food additive I find objectionable. The point is this: food is good. By itself. Yogurt already comes in single-serving packages that only contain real food! Don’t let companies convince you that you can’t handle carrying a spoon. Don’t let them convince you that kids won’t like yogurt unless it tastes like cotton candy. Don’t let them convince you that you should want yogurt that tastes like cotton candy. (Or pie, for that matter–why are there so many pie flavors? As this smart post points out, if you’re not careful you could end up with yogurt as sugary as a candy bar.)

You know what’s great? Yogurt with raw honey. Maple syrup. Agave. I have a sweet tooth, so I don’t like it plain. But I don’t want high-fructose corn syrup! Honey is delicious. Raw honey is more delicious (to me, anyway). Let’s teach our bodies and our children’s bodies to crave real food. Please. Vote with your hard-earned cash until Yoplait stops trying to pass chemicals off as food. And think about what’s in the package before you put that brightly colored box into your cart.


Baking and Whole Grains: A Love Story

I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest about my new ugly parent policy that I’m going to write something light, flaky and delicious. Oh, wait… that’s my pie crust. This post is light, though!

I have always had more than a passing interest in baking. Cooking has just never been my thing. But watching dough rise, pie crust smooth out under a rolling pin or cookies fatten in the oven has always fascinated me. When I was teeny tiny, my mom and sister would use extra pie crust dough to make a little flat circle that browned in the oven and sparkled with cinnamon and sugar. It was just for me, and it was ready hours before we could eat the pie. I learned later that they were following in my maternal grandmother’s footsteps; she did the same for the little kids when she made pie. And there were always little kids–she had fifteen of her own! If she were alive today, she would have 52 grandchildren and no one knows how many great-grandchildren.

I made my first pie crust from scratch when I was still in elementary school. It was awesome, and I didn’t know why everyone made such a big deal out of it having turned out so well. The pecan pie filling was from a box, after all. It wasn’t hard–I just followed the directions! Okay, I’m bragging, but I get to, because my first ever pie was amazing and memorable. I now know that pie crust is hard to get just right, so that’s something to brag about. Also in elementary school, I bought a cookie press at a garage sale that hadn’t been opened since it was purchased in 1965. I taught myself how to use it and we had beautiful, tiny, star-shaped Christmas cookies in July. When I found a little counter-top deep-fryer at another garage sale, I begged until Mom bought it and spent an entire day with me making doughnuts. I invited friends. It was a whole day of fun. Thanks, Mom!

So that’s why I love to bake (and leave the cooking to Nathan) and why I’m still determined to do so, even though I’m trying not to bake with white flour. Once I stopped to think about it, I understood why less processed ingredients like whole grain flour require a bit more thought and add richer flavor. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Slow. Down. Baking does not cooperate with your need to hurry. When I hurry, I spill things, skip ingredients and generally make a mess of everything.
  • Follow the chemistry. Essentially, all baked goods come down to what Kim Boyce calls “wet mix” and “dry mix.” Keep them separate until you’re ready to mix it all up! The interaction between your dry ingredients and your wet ingredients starts the chemistry that transforms a batter or dough into flaky crust, fluffy muffins or moist cookies. If you’re using honey or agave instead of sugar in a recipe, but the honey in with the eggs and other wet ingredients, even if the recipe says to add the sugar to the flour in an earlier step. Sugar is dry. Honey is wet.
  • Stir, mix or process only as much as you need to, no more! Once you get flour wet, you start to activate the gluten. Gluten comes from the latin word for “glue” for a reason–mix that batter too much, and you’ll end up with hyper-active gluten gluey, chewy muffins, cardboard cookies or rock-hard bread. Even brownie mixes tell you to stop mixing after a minute or two, even if you still see little lumps of flour.
  • Temperature matters. If it says “at room temperature” then make sure it is at room temperature before you add it! Heat and cold make a huge difference. Melted and slightly cooled butter added to muffins means less mixing, and less mixing means that less risk of agitating gluten in your flour too much. Yeast goes crazy in the heat, which is why bread dough doubles in size and then doubles again during rising and then again during baking. Making a yeasted bread takes me half the time in the summer because our apartment isn’t air conditioned and heat makes yeast super active, causing the dough to rise a lot faster. Did you know that the key to making a good pie crust or biscuit dough is cold butter? Dough is flour, liquid and fat in varying quantities. Flaky crust happens when those little pieces of butter melt in the oven inside little pockets surrounded by flour. It all sticks together because of the liquid, which could be anything from orange juice to water to eggs to milk. So if it’s hot, I’ll mix in the fats as fast as possible and then put the dough in the freezer for five minutes to make sure they stay solid. Otherwise, it all melts together, becomes too uniform a texture and turns into cardboard in your oven.
  • Know your ingredients. I promise, you will have better results if you know that shortening is made of vegetable oil and less fat means a different chemistry from butter (or lard!) not just a lower calorie count. Whole grains are especially important to get to know because they complicate the chemistry much more than, say, switching to a different type of sweetener.
Which brings me to the section of this post on whole grains and why I am so in love with them. How they taste, how they work, how they grow, how we make them into flour, it’s all totally fascinating to me. The (illustrated!) basics:

This is a wheat kernel.

All-purpose flour is made from just the endosperm part of the wheat kernel. Why? It’s easier to grind into flour. If you were milling your own, you’d want an easier path from grain to flour, too! After centuries of choosing the wheat that’s easiest to make into food, we’ve actually created strains that are easier to thresh, which means that the outside parts come away more easily from that kernel of carbs in the middle. Unfortunately, as you can see in the chart above, that means we also got good at taking out the nutrition. Look at all the protein, fiber and iron we’re taking out!
Protein and iron complicate baking chemistry. And if you’ve ever had raisin bran cereal, you’ll know that bran has a unique taste. Wheat germ can be purchased on its own, and I have the toasted variety in my fridge right now, so I can tell you that it most definitely has a taste all its own. And keep in mind that we’re just talking about wheat. Good to the Grain covers whole wheat, including wheat graham (can someone explain graham flour to me? I haven’t gotten around to researching that yet), amaranth,  barley, buckwheat (which is not wheat and is actually more closely related to rhubarb), corn, kamut, oat, quinoa, rye, spelt and teff. Each has it’s own distinct flavor and, in my desire to learn everything all at once, I was overwhelmed at first. I quite like this wikipedia page for its thorough but not overwhelming coverage of whole grains.
I started baking with spelt flour, which has a tangy flavor reminiscent of a sourdough. Last night, I made muffins with oat flour, which is soft and nutty and, has a taste reminiscent of, well, oatmeal. I’ve used a lot of whole wheat flour in my time. I have recently fallen in love with injera, an Ethiopian spongey bread made from teff, but put off playing with teff flour in my own kitchen when I discovered that it is really, really expensive. So my collection now includes spelt, oat, rye, whole wheat and whole wheat graham flours, in addition to my (unbleached! never buy bleached flour! why would you want your food bleached?!) all-purpose and white flours. One can also buy cake flour, pastry flour, whole grain pastry flour, bread four and whole grain bread flour. All of these have different textures and flavors and all for good reasons. But unless you’re really, really serious about this, buy the flour you need for that recipe only. Store your beautiful flours in glass jars that seal tightly (to keep out crawly things). You can get really neat vintage-looking jars at Ikea for as little as $3 a piece. My mom stores her bags of flour in the freezer, which serves the same purpose of sealing them away from bugs and other things that find flour as nutritious as we do, but you know how I feel about temperatures. Flour must be at room temperature before I will use it. And once I get all those jars cleaned and labelled, you will see just how pretty they look on display!
Back to baking: here’s a really simple rule to remember about whole grains–because they are whole, and have all those parts listed in that picture above, they are heavier. They fill you up and stick to your ribs in a way that refined flours never can. (Try steel cut aka “Irish” oatmeal, if you haven’t, and tell me it’s not better than plain old Quaker oatmeal!) But remember, baking is all about chemistry. And heavier flour and you get heavier muffins. Not good. Unfortunately, we can’t just add extra baking powder or yeast to give it the same boost. That’s why Good to the Grain‘s recipes almost always contain some all-purpose flour. As does Heidi Swanson’s amazing Greek Yogurt Biscuit recipe. You can use only whole grain flour, but you end up with a heavier baked good and a wheatier taste. Even butter and baking soda just can’t make whole grain flour light and fluffy. But when I made Swanson’s biscuits (from Super-Natural Every Day), I used a little more spelt, a little more whole wheat and a little less all purpose and the result was delicious, light and beautiful. I probably compromised a little height and a little flakiness, but three of us finished off about 15 of those things (I ate more than Nathan or our guest… I admit it) so I’m calling it a success.
There’s one more increasingly popular way around using refined flour–use leftover cooked grains like oatmeal and quinoa. I adore, and my nutritionist contributes regularly. There are many recipes under the “Eat Healthy” section, and most are tailored to kids. If a kid likes it, you can bet it’s tasty.

I Am Not My Uterus, II; or, Make Up Your Own Mind Because The Liberal Approach Is Also Bonkers

First, a small clarification: I am using the terms “conservative” and “liberal” in the quantitative sense; i.e. a conservative or liberal amount of something. My last post was about a “do as little as possible” approach to preconception health, while this one is about the “try to do everything” approach.

So, what are we supposed to do? Cut out everything that is not healthy, including everything from processed foods to artificial hormones (The Pill, forever) and, not least, we should eliminate all unnecessary electronic devices from our homes for fear of “electrosmog” (electromagnetic pollution). I’m getting this from the folks at Foresight, a British organization devoted to preconception health. Much of the information on the sight is actually pretty great. My nutritionist recommended that I check it out, and I have found much of it very helpful. Besides its unfortunate name, which I still think rightly belongs to some group protesting circumcision, what I find most objectionable about this group is, again, all in the language. Why, I keep asking myself, does it seem necessary to couch some good advice (fear of electricity notwithstanding) in all of this fear?

Foresight defines their approach to preconception care as a comprehensive plan aimed at “improving natural health in both parents [in order to] enhance fertility and successful pregnancy.” So far, pretty good. We’ve got both parents involved, here. And since my husband’s gender actually produces sperm daily, while my eggs were made in utero, I think we ought to be concerned about the male side of this conception process. I take issue with what comes next.

“The preconceptual approach of Foresight can help with overcoming some of the issues in connection with conception, pregnancy & birth:

  • Infertility
  • Low Sperm Count
  • Secondary Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Birth Defects
  • Low Birth Weight
  • Premature Birth
  • Post Partum Depression
  • Breast Feeding”
Why should I have to worry about all these things immediately? I can’t help but feel that their message is that if I don’t follow their program, then I haven’t done enough to prevent the grave misfortunes on that list.
And then there’s this lovely sidebar: “Vaccines – The Truth! Vital information regarding the adverse effects of vaccinations” which is not separated by more than a small space from the statement “Treating Autism: Because Autism Is Treatable.” I’m all about knowing what’s in a vaccine and the potential risks behind a vaccine, so I do like that “Vaccines – The Truth!” is actually a list of research about vaccines and links to that research. (Although some of it could be more accurately characterized as “research.”) But no causal relationship has been established between vaccines (MMR specifically). Not receiving vaccines is dangerous. In fact, it’s a lot more dangerous than the small risk associated with vaccines. And kids are now getting the measles again. I’d also like to remind everyone that the man who first “studied” the “link” has now admitted to fraud.

What’s my point? Why am I listening to anyone discussing preconception care if they’re all nutcases? Because they’re not all nutcases. What I’m trying to do here is find someplace in between these two infuriating points of view.

I’ve got to take what I want from both sides. I want vaccines for my kids, because I don’t want them to get the measles. I’m trying to cut out processed foods, because the additives scare me and real food tastes better. I always have eaten whole grains (thanks, Mom and Dad!). I don’t take The Pill anymore because it gives me migraines. I avoid plastics I’m not sure about because I’ve read the science, and it’s good science–bisphenol A causes serious damage. I am keeping my electronic appliances because, well, they’re useful, and I don’t believe in electrosmog. When it came time to buy new mascara, I bought some that looks great and is made without parabens and other scary chemicals. I clean my bathtub with baking soda and vinegar because it looks whiter and scrubs easier and doesn’t burn my lungs. It really is not about fear. I refuse to add fear to my life. It’s about doing what feels good and healthy for my family.

Maybe I will have trouble conceiving and we will get our hair tested for heavy metals, throw out the XBox and wear those pollution masks to filter out most of the air and any passing cigarette smoke we might encounter. I’m not counting on it. The women on both sides of my family have a serious history of fertility. Mom has seven brothers and seven sisters, for crying out loud, with no sets of twins thrown in there. That’s fifteen babies. Yeah. Take a minute for the courageous lade who was my Grandma Celia.

But a lot of things can and do go wrong in pregnancy, and we don’t always know why. We do know that I have a history of anxiety and depression. So I want to do what I can to decrease the odds that something will go wrong, especially psychologically, when we finally decide to try for a baby. It’s also about increasing the odds that things will go as smoothly as possible, in body and in mind, in a way that actually enhances our daily lives. Who doesn’t love the smell of bread baking? I have the luxury of time to bake bread from whole grain flour that is actually soft and yummy. Who doesn’t want a happy digestive system? My husband’s acid reflux has improved so much since we started paying close attention to what we eat. Anyone who has ever had a migraine will understand why it was easy to throw out my birth control (and switching methods! Sorry for TMI but I don’t advocate just throwing caution to the wind!) We’re taking our friends’ advice and ignoring people or instructions that seem crazy. Apparently, this is only the beginning of all that. Bring it on. There’s plenty of common sense in our house. Oh, and thanks for being my rock when I do completely lose it, Nathan. It’s a very good thing that you don’t mind having good sense for the both of us sometimes. I love you.

Mmm Mmm GOOD… to the Grain

Last night, I needed something sweet. Plus, after being sick all week, I was feeling itchy to do something. For me, that often means baking. Last night, that meant going back to Good to the Grain (by Kim Boyce) for Ginger Snaps!

My new favorite cookbook.

Oh, cookbook, you are so beautiful! Everything I make from you is so delicious! How do you explain everything so simply, Kim Boyce? Can I come to your house, please?

Whole wheat flour makes these cookies complex–if I think about it, I can taste the nuttiness of the wheat under the spices and molasses. But they’re so light on the outside and so chewy on the inside that I can see why Boyce kept it half and half (half all purpose flour, half whole wheat flour). These are loaded with sugar, so they are definitely my kind of treat. But they’re beautiful and fill the house with a gingerbread smell that makes even August feel like Christmas. Good to the Grain, you win 2 out of 2. Kim Boyce, you may find me on your doorstep one day soon, begging for whatever divine knowledge you possess!

These three are the only ones left after the first batch!

Light and Delicious Whole Grain Baking

I recently purchased a cookbook called Good to the Grain: Cooking with Whole Grain Flours, by Kim Boyce. It’s beautiful and a project I can get behind, since I know much more about rising times and proper muffin textures than I know about cooking quinoa or marinating vegetables. That’s Nathan’s territory, and he’s so good at it that I have no desire to start cooking (sorry, Honey). The book is organized by flour, with a chapter for each kind of whole grain flour available and one on a multigrain flour the author herself developed. I decided to start with the chapter on spelt flour, because it says in the introduction that this is as close to all-purpose flour as it gets in the whole grain world. In fact, if you adjust your flavor expectations a little, you can apparently substitute spelt flour for all-purpose in just about any recipe.

Within the chapter on spelt, I settled on a recipe for Ricotta Crepes and began gathering ingredients. Whole milk, raw honey, two eggs, organic spelt flour, fresh and local ricotta cheese. [My research suggests that because ricotta is not aged it does not contribute to migraine headaches the way cheddar and mozzarella can.] It couldn’t have gotten any easier–combine the first four ingredients in the blender (yes, blender–good thing I got a new one!) and let it sit for an hour. Stir in the cheese. Start cookin’ crepes!

I have loved crepes since I was a little girl, when my big sister learned how to make them in France and came back toting her recipe and some Nutella. Yummy! This time for my filling, I sauteed some peaches in clarified butter just until they began to release liquid, added a little honey and some spices and let them sit overnight. Boyce recommends something savory like wilted greens, but I just couldn’t resist the peaches/ricotta combo.

It’s been awhile since I turned a crepe, but they came out very prettily, if I do say so myself! Oh, and the taste? Out of this world. I am spelt flour’s newest fan. Bonus perk: four grams of protein in just a quarter cup of spelt flour, not to mention all the vitamins B2 & B3 and other goodness.

My pile of crepes and bowl of peaches.

Sorry about the photo, but the light was bad and we had eaten a few before I remembered to snap this. Not reading the recipe in advance meant crepes for dinner, because I didn’t have time to wait an hour on that batter in the morning. Worth the wait, though! These were light as air, but filling and hearty. The crepes we didn’t eat are in the freezer, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, a sheet of parchment separating each one. They’re super easy to pull out and toast up! A+, Kim Boyce!

Pre-Conception Confusion

I had never heard of “preconception planning” before this summer, but when my mother put me in touch with a nutritionist who specializes in preconception, prenatal and pediatric nutrition, it seemed like a brilliant idea. The idea seemed brilliant because changing our eating habits *after* a baby would obviously be impossible. We eat pretty well, but hey, an expert opinion sounded pretty good. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I am so glad that I accepted help as early as I did.

Our baby plan, before I ran headlong into this preconception planning world, consisted of the following: talk about it in 2012, probably in March. If we decided “yes,” we’d get try to get pregnant. If we decided “no,” we’d talk about it again in three months. Why 2012? That is a story for another day, but, basically, there are some prescription medications that I would really like to live without before I get pregnant.

So what’s our baby plan, now? Eat, learn, read, buy even more groceries, eat even more things I have never heard of, try to get used to swallowing lemon-flavored cod liver oil (with extra vitamin D). That covers THIS WEEK. Maybe this month. Next month? I don’t want to think about next month.

Why am I overwhelmed? As it turns out, and I’ll be posting more about this, I could potentially manage my chronic migraine headaches as well as my anxiety and depression with food. *This applies to ME, to my lifestyle, to MY SYMPTOMS, and is NOT general medical advice!* So there’s a lot of information about why and how that works. Then, there’s the baby. I thought I had already made my eggs, Nathan had already made his sperm, done and done. Not true?! What we eat 100 days before conecption has a huge impact on the fetus?! Whoa, do I need time to understand *that* science.

My goals for this blog include:

  • Record my thoughts and experiences, which seem to be speeding by far too quickly, so that I can go back and look at them later.
  • Share my thoughts and experiences with anyone else trying to make sense of this mountain of information–chances are, you could use a “friend” to confirm that, yes, this is really that confusing.
  • Learn even more from anyone willing to read and comment here.
One more thing: I want to post a Nutrition Question once a week. Please keep in mind a few restrictions placed on my diet because I suffer from chronic migraines–no nuts, no cheese, no chocolate, no alcohol. Also, I hate raw tomatoes, beets and peas (unless they’re still in the pod). This week’s Nutrition Question is… Can anyone add to my list of protein-rich foods? I’m trying to cram protein in at every possible opportunity, so I’d like as much variety as possible.
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Steel cut oatmeal
  • Grass-fed beef, organic chicken
  • Salmon, cod and other cold-water fish
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Pumpkin seeds (roasted, no salt)
Thanks for your help! I hope my questions can help anyone else out there with baby-related confusion. If you’re looking for professional help (with nutritional questions) by all means, read this lady‘s book and get in touch with her! She’s amazing!