Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Recipe: Organic Quinoa Pizza Patties


Today I made some organic quinoa pizza patties.  They turned out well but I was experimenting so some of the measurements will not be exact.

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1/2 cup Organic Quinoa
    • 3 Tablespoons Organic Chia Seeds
    • 7oz. Organic Cheese
    • 1/2 cup Organic Broccoli
    • 1 Tablespoon Organic Onion
    • Italian Seasoning/Pizza Seasoning
    • Garlic Powder
    • Sea Salt
    • Red Pepper Flakes
    • Organic Olive Oil




    • Wash, drain and cook 1/2 a cup of organic quinoa according to the directions on the bag.
    • Steam the broccoli
    • Add the broccoli and chia to the quinoa while hot.
    • Finely chop the onion and add it
    • Shred the cheese and add it to the pot.
    • Season to taste
    • Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet and heat it to medium/medium high
    • Make your quinoa mixture into small patties by hand.  I made 25 1.5" X 1" patties.
    • Cook the patties in the cast iron skillet, flipping when brown.
    • Serve hot, with or without organic marinara sauce.
    Makes 25 1.5" X 1" patties.





    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Play Food Tutorial: Pizza

    DIY play food is all the rage these days and it isn’t that difficult to make, even if you’re a sewing novice.  I put my beginner-level sewing skills to use this year making play food for my son, and as gifts for friends and relatives.

    Materials:

    1.) A needle and good thread in various colors.  I like the quilter’s thread from JoAnn Fabrics because it is often on sale and it is strong enough to hold your creations together.

    2.) Wool Felt.  Unlike regular felt, wool felt is made from 100% wool.  While this does mean it is more expensive than regular crafting felt, wool felt is much tougher than synthetic felt and it will maintain its shape without falling apart when you cut it.  I buy my wool felt online from Weir Dolls andCrafts.

    3.) A sharp pair of scissors.  Fiskars Razor Sharp scissors have a locking mechanism to prevent kids from cutting themselves if the scissors accidentally fall into their hands.  Available at Amazon and craft stores, they make cutting a breeze but they are incredibly sharp so be careful.  A few reviewers mentioned cutting themselves by mishandling the scissors while opening the package.

    4.) Cotton fabric.  I didn't bother ironing it before sewing, as the wrinkles made the pizza slices look more realistic.

    Directions:

    I cut out triangles from cotton fabric to make my slices.  On one side of a triangle slice, I sewed on yellow and red wool felt for my cheese and sauce.  I then took the pairs of triangles and sewed them together, inside-out, leaving an inch opening.  I turned them right-side-out and sewed a line an inch from the top to make the crust.  I then stuffed the slices with fabric and sewed the opening shut.

    I cut mushrooms out of wool felt and used a brown thread to embellish them.



    I cut banana peppers and bell peppers out of wool felt.

    I sewed green and red wool felt together to make a hot pepper and green olives.

    For my earlier tutorial on play Indian food click here.
    Check back for more play food tutorials, including tacos, sandwiches and pasta.
    New posts every Monday and Thursday.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    Making Felt Toys of Your Kids' Favorite Book Characters

    When my son really likes a book I like to make him tiny felt toys of his favorite book characters using wool felt.  Here are Mother Bird, Baby Bird and Snort from Are You My Mother:



    And here's Maisy:
    Charley and Eddie:
    Maisy and Tallulah:



    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    Klean Kanteens


    Klean Kanteen makes great, environmentally friendly stainless steel products for the whole family.  They are lead, BPA and phthalate-free and are responsibly made in China.  Unlike the metal bottles easily available in stores, Klean Kanteens are not lined with any plastic that can leach into your food.  They're just pure stainless steel, a far better option to the aluminum bottles that can leach aluminum into your drinks.

    1.) The 12oz water bottle is a great size.  It fits in most car cup holders, as well as in purses and diaper bags. When I was pregnant, I would carry one around in my coat pocket and I always keep one in my diaper bag or when we go to restaurants for my son.  He doesn't know how to drink from a straw yet and never used a sippy cup so it is an easy way to give him water when we are out to eat without wasting a plastic kid's cup from the restaurant.   I prefer the non-painted Kanteens because the acrylic, lead-free paint can chip over the years.  This bottle is available for purchase in stores like REI, at online retailers like Amazon and from Klean Kanteen's website.

    2.) The 16oz tumblers are great, although I do wish they came in smaller sizes.  When I contacted Klean Kanteen they told me they do not currently have plans to make the tumblers in smaller sizes.  The tumblers come in a four-pack.  They can seem a bit expensive but because they're stainless steel, they will last you for years if taken care of properly.  We also use these cups to serve my son and his friends their water.



    3.) The 18oz Kanteens are quite a bit taller than the 12 oz Kanteens (see the picture above) but they are good for longer trips or outings.  They do get a bit heavy when you're carrying several in a bag but it isn't that inconvenient.  These can be found at the same retailers as the 12oz Kanteens and also a few times a year on sale at Zulily, although you do need to pay shipping so this isn't always the best price.

    4.) The insulated Kanteens are great ways to carry your hot or cold drinks.  They keep hot drinks hot for 6 hours and cold ones cold for more than 24 hours.  They are unlined, relying instead on a double wall of stainless steel and vacuum insulation.  These can be found at the same retailers as the 18oz Kanteens and I've gotten great deals on them in December from Klean Kanteen's website, with free shipping on orders over $20.  These are the only Kanteens I get that are painted, since those are the only ones I end up finding on sale.  The mouths of the bottle do not have any paint though so you are only coming into contact with the stainless steel when drinking.  Other family members have had some issues with the bottles retaining the odor of coffee but after a vinegar wash (see below for more information) the smell does go away.

    5.) Klean Kanteen makes a sippy cup too, with a BPA free sippy cup mouth that goes over a 12oz bottle.  My son never ended up using this so I just purchased an extra loop cap from Klean Kanteen's website and used that instead of the sippy cap.  But I have several friends whose older children use these bottles when traveling or at school.  In fact, Klean Kanteen now has a whole line of products for babies and children, which can be found here.

    Here is more information from Klean Kanteen's FAQs page.  If you feel like your bottle has a metallic odor when you first get it, they have a section in the FAQs that tells you how to easily remove the smell by soaking the bottle in vinegar and water overnight.  I do this to all my Klean Kanteen products after first washing them with a non-toxic dishsoap like Seventh Generation, before their initial use.

    Click here for my older posts on other ways to decrease your exposure to BPA and Phthalates.
    And remember to check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts!

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Jack n' Jill Toothpaste, Bio Toothbrush and Storage/Rinse Cup Review


    Note: I received complimentary products for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

    When my son was old enough to need toothpaste, I searched long and hard to find a natural, non-toxic toothpaste and toothbrush.  I was thrilled when I found Jack n' Jill.  An Australian based company that specializes in natural toothpaste that is safe to swallow, Jack n' Jill has been in the non-toxic dental care business for decades, and a couple years ago, their products became available in the United States.

    Lucky us!  Jack n' Jill toothpaste gets a 0 from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database. That's the safest rating a product can get.

    The products are free of:

    • BPA
    • Phthalates
    • Animal Testing
    • Flouride
    • Sugar
    • SLS
    • Color
    • Preservatives
    In addition, the toothpastes are flavored with food grade, certified organic, kosher, vegan, gluten and allergen free flavors, and contain organic calendula, whose natural healing and anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial to teeth and gums.

    We had been using Jack n' Jill's Natural Calendula Toothpaste Strawberry Flavor to brush our toddler's teeth.  He loves the taste and I can see why.  It's flavorful without being overpowering.

    Jack n' Jill provided one of their other flavors for this review: Blackcurrant.  Like all their toothpastes, the blackcurrant flavor comes in a clear gel and is full of fruity flavor.  My son immediately took to it and loved the Blackcurrant toothpaste as much as the Strawberry one he had been using since he first started having his teeth brushed.

    Jack n' Jill toothpaste is available in the following flavors:

    • Raspberry
    • Banana
    • Strawberry
    • Blackcurrant
    • Blueberry


    I also had the opportunity to try out one of their Bio Toothbrushes.  Suitable for baby's first teeth, and for children of all ages, these adorable toothbrushes come with either a hippo (pictured above) or a bunny on the handle.  Both options are equally adorable.  The handle is made from 100% non GMO corn starch and the soft rounded bristles are made from nylon.

    My son thoroughly enjoyed his new toothbrush with the hippo on it.  The bristles were gentle on his teeth yet cleaned them well.

    The toothbrush is to be replaced every two months.  But unlike other children's toothbrushes with the same lifespan, this one won't just sit in a landfill because the toothbrush handle is compostable and biodegradable!  You can find the instructions here.


    And finally, I had the chance to review Jack n' Jill's Storage/Rinse Cup.  The cup is the perfect size for storing the toothbrush and for kids to rinse with.  Available in a hippo or bunny design, it can even be used for a late-night drink of water.  Made from rice husks and bamboo, the cup is BPA, PVC and Phthalate free, and like the toothbrush, it is biodegradable and compostable too.  What's not to love?

    I was already a fan of Jack n' Jill but these new products make me love this environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, non-toxic company even more.  I highly recommend you try them out too!
      
    Where to Buy Jack n' Jill Products:
    Jack n' Jill products can be purchased directly from Jack n' Jill's website or online from retailers like Amazon, Babyhaven.com, maisondrake.com, shopatcloth.com and coming soon to abesmarket.com


    Connect with Jack n' Jill here:

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

    Naturepedic Organic Kapok/Organic Cotton Pillow Review


    Note: I received a complimentary product for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

    As regular readers of Wading Through Soup know, I'm a huge fan of Naturepedic.  This is a company that is all about being environmentally friendly and providing our kids, (and us), with non-toxic options for sleep supplies.  Considering how many hours a day babies and toddlers spend sleeping and napping, I always make it a priority to get non-toxic mattresses and protectors from Naturepedic.

    We use two of their organic crib/toddler mattresses, which are free of PBDEs and other flame retardants, since they are filled with natural fibers, and we own several of their fitted mattress covers and pack 'n play waterproof pads.  These are waterproof without the use of harmful PFOAs, unlike most waterproof pads and covers.

    So when I was offered a chance to review their Organic Kapok/Organic Cotton pillow, I was ecstatic.

    But first I needed to know what kapok was.  Turns out kapok, also known as "silk cotton," is the lightest natural fiber in the world, with a density that is almost five times as light as regular cotton.  It allows Naturepedic's bedding to feel light and fluffy, and since the fibers are hollow, they can function as a thermo-regulator.  Resistant to water, it can wick away moisture, something that can help if you child is a sweaty sleeper.  Naturepedic's kapok is certified organic, ensuring fair treatment of workers while being free of synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, chlorine bleach, endocrine disruptors, plastisols, non-biodegradeable detergents/degreasers/surfactants, and carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic chemicals.

    That sounds good to me.  The pillow is filled with a 50/50 blend of organic kapok and organic cotton.  The certified organic cotton is also free of the toxins mentioned above.  It is grown with natural fertilizers, innovative weeding techniques and beneficial insects.

    The outer cover is made from 300 thread count organic cotton.

    My first impression was how soft the pillow is.  I've generally found organic cotton to be softer than regular cotton but the combination of the 50% kapok filling and organic cotton outer lining of the pillow seemed to really help in that department.  Of course, I covered the pillow with a cotton pillow protector and an organic cotton pillowcase so, unfortunately, I didn't feel feel the softness of the outer lining of the pillow when I slept but I was still able to enjoy the luxury of the plush pillow even with the protector and cover on it.  As a side-sleeper, I also found that the pillow remained supportive and comfortable through the night.

    Unlike the Naturepedic Organic Cotton/PLA Pillow, which is machine washable, this pillow is spot clean only.  While I wish I could just toss it into the laundry, I'm sure with a pillow protector and pillowcase, we will be able to keep it clean in the long run.  And if it is a concern for you, you could always use two pillow protectors.

    In conclusion, if you're looking for an environmentally friendly, non-toxic pillow, I highly recommend the Naturepedic Organic Kapok/Organic Cotton pillow.  I plan on getting a low-fill toddler size for my son, who is a back-sleeper.  The pillows may not be machine washable, but I will sleep better knowing my child is sleeping in a non-toxic environment.  And based on my experience with the Naturepedic Organic Kapok/Organic Cotton pillow, my son will be sleeping quite soundly with his new pillow too.

    The pillow is available in the following sizes:
    Toddler Size (14" X 20")
    Standard Size - Low Fill (20" X 26")
    Standard Size - Regular Fill (20" X 26")
      
    Where to Buy Naturepedic's Organic Kapok/Organic Cotton Pillow and Other Naturepedic Products:
    The pillow and other Naturepedic Products, (like their mattresses, pillowcases, and waterproof liners), can be purchased directly from Naturepedic's website, online from retailers like Amazon, or click here to find a store near you.

    Connect with Naturepedic here:


    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    DIY Toys: Cell Phone


    I don't let my son play with our phones or tablets since babies' bodies are so small, their skulls so much thinner, and there isn't a lot of information that states these devices do anything positive for small children who are more susceptible to radiation.  But like most toddlers, he is very interested in our phones and tablets.  So after he kept pretending the tv remote was his phone, I made him one out of the leftover wool felt I had.



    There are icons to call family members, including the dog, and icons for Facebook, Google, a web browser, calendar, text messages, camera, and his phone book.  The date on the calendar is my son's birth-date and the time on the clock is his time of birth.  It's a cheap, easy to make toy that provides hours of entertainment.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    DIY All Natural Air Fresheners


    1.) One of my favorite DIY air fresheners in winter is done on the stove.  I keep a jar of cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans that have already had the insides scraped out, and cloves in my pantry that I reuse in this mix.  I dry organic tangerine or orange peels overnight just by leaving them out on a plate and then add the peels and mix to a pot of water.  Boil the water and your whole house will be filled with the aroma of cake.  Since I'm a little more easily distracted now by my kids, I never boil this air freshener without putting a timer on to remind me to turn the stove off.

    2.) I sometimes use a plastic spray bottle made from a safer plastic (#1, #2, #4 or $5) and put a little water in it.  If you have hard water you may want to fill it with filtered water.  I then add several drops of essential oil or a mixture of essential oils.  I like mixing cinnamon with orange or eucalyptus and mint.  This is a quick air freshener that can be spritzed around the house for a great substitute to the chemical alternatives out there that are filled with phthalates but I just pour in what I want to use that day because I don't want to let standing water grow anything since there is no preservative in the mix.

    3.) Baking soda is a great deoderizer on its own but if you want to add a few drops of an essential oil to it it can help absorb and mask the odors in a garbage can.  I usually just pour loose baking soda or baking soda and essential oil mixed together into a trash can but you can add essential oil and water to baking soda to make it into cakes as well.  I used a bpa/phthalate free molding tray to do this.  Just put the mixture into your mold and allow it to try.  Depending on our weather it has taken anywhere from a few days to a week to dry for me.  Then pop the cakes out of your mold and put them in the trash can and they quickly mask odors.

    I don't like to keep lit candles in the house with little children running around but if you really want a phthalate-free candle you can find several recipes online like this one, or if you don't want to make one yourself, you can buy a natural candle like Aroma Naturals, which uses plant-based waxes and only uses essential oils to scent its candles.