Amazing vegan carrot soup

vegan carrot soup

vegan carrot soup

 

I’m usually really bad at making soups- they usually turn out really flavorless or not creamy enough, but this carrot soup turned out so good that even my non vegan husband loved it! It’s pretty easy to make too, and I was able to keep Jack occupied “washing” carrots for me while I chopped some veggies and put things together in the pot.

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 potato

2 pounds of carrots (about 8 large carrots)

2 cloves of garlic

liquid- either vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, or water (I did mostly almond milk plus water because I was out of broth)

salt plus any spices you like (I added a bit of ginger and turmeric)

 

Directions:

Chop up the vegetables and saute them in olive oil in the soup pot until they start to brown

Then add the liquid and spices and cook for 20-30 minutes on low

Lastly puree (I used an immersion blender but any blender type thing should work)

 

It’s really pretty easy and is so amazing that I ate like 3 servings per day for a few days in a row until I ran out!

Where to find organic toddler clothes

Now that Jack is a toddler, it’s a little more of a challenge to find him organic clothes because a lot of places stop carrying organic options after 12 or 18 months. I hope to keep having him wear organic clothes until he decides he doesn’t want to though because of all the chemicals on traditional clothing (which have given me hives sometimes!) and the fact that cotton growing uses so much pesticide which is bad for the environment and the workers as well. I have been able to find a bunch of places to shop from, most of which I order from online.

  • Frugi is pretty expensive but great quality and has really cute organic options for boys and girls through age 9! The fit runs a little on the large side.

 

toddler organic clothes H&M

shirt from Frugi

  • H&M has a “conscious” line which has mostly shirts made of organic cotton. They are really inexpensive and go up to 10 years old. They fit a little large, and the store near us often has a small amount in stock so we go there to see what size is best and often order online.
toddler organic clothes H&M

Wearing a shirt from H&M

The tangerine tree has cute shirts and other items that are often on sale on amazon like the one Jack has on below that we got for $9. The one we have doesn’t have snaps at the neck but it is easy to put on and Jack likes the elephant on it which is printed on so it’s not itchy. They go up to 24 months but the sizes are a little large.

organic toddler clothes tangerine tree

tangerine tree shirt

  • Hanna Andersson also has some basic organic options and the non-organic clothes are oeko-tex certified at least which is nice. They always get rated as having great comfy underwear and their clothes go up to teen sizes.
  • Kate Quinn has really cute and more stylish options. They are generally a little pricier but often have $10 sales. The sizing is a little more random, running either true to size or small in our experience. The sizes go up to at least a 4.
organic toddler clothes kate quinn

kate quinn shirt and pants

  • Burt’s Bees is priced in the middle range and has some basic items as well as some cute things that are classic looking but not just solids or stripes.  They go up to a size 7 and run a little small. They have many hoodies and sweatshirts if you are looking for warmer clothes.

wearing a burts bees shirt as a 12 month old

wearing a burts bees shirt as a 12 month old

If you are on a budget, you can often find organic clothes on ebay, or join a facebook group for b/s/t of your favorite brand

Montessori board books

 

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I am always on the lookout for board book that have realistic looking illustrations for Jack which is in the montessori style. I think that having really cartoon-y pictures might be confusing once kids see the animals in real life, and I also prefer books which are not too busy if possible. 

  • My and Jack’s favorite book is the animals one by bright baby which is a great company in general. Jack learned many of his animal noises from the real photos of animals on the pages. It’s also relatively long and has lots of different animals.

  • Baby woof woof was one of our most read books as well. I liked the realistic photos and Jack liked that it was lift-the-flap style, and also that there was a picture of a ball which was his favorite object for a long time

  • Even though Where is Spot is more cartoony than I would like, the animals look pretty realistic, and Jack really loved the easy to lift flaps that were easier for him than the woof woof book above. It’s also nice to help label household items and to show the concept of a mommy and baby dog.

  • This first numbers book has realistic photos of different items and is lift-the-flap. I wish that two of the items weren’t a cupcake and candies, but Jack loves the balloon pictures. He also surprisingly loves to trace the large numbers.

  • We got this set of 4 bright baby books for our airplane flight across the country and Jack enjoyed them because they are touch-and-feel. They also have basic photos of items he knows like balls, cars, cats, and dogs. They are each fairly short but are a cute set.

I think that when your kid is in the board book age, it makes sense to also get books that won’t be annoying to you as a parent, so I appreciated that these books had few words and no annoying rhymes that get stuck in your head or characters doing things that don’t make sense :) Since we have a lot of books about animals, I’m excited to take Jack to the local animal sanctuary sometime so that he can meet more animals in person!

Vegan cucumber yogurt soup

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My mom used to make a cucumber soup that I really liked growing up, but it was definitely not vegan since it had yogurt and sour cream. I tried a few variations on vegan versions and liked this mixture I came up with.

Ingredients:

4 cucumbers (I didn’t peel them, just tossed them into the blender after cutting them in a few chunks)

about 10 ounces of plain yogurt (I used so delicious cultured coconut yogurt)

1 avocado

2 heads of chopped garlic

a tablespoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste (can also add dill)

water as needed (I like thick soup so I didn’t use any water)

Directions: blend everything together and taste it and adjust the ingredients as needed

 

One thing I love about this cold soup is that you don’t have to microwave it, so you can eat it while your baby is napping and not have to worry about making too much noise in the kitchen :)

Jack also enjoyed helping wash the cucumbers and put them from their bowl into the blender.

Typical schedule at 20 months

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I can’t believe Jack is already 20 months old! In my mind when I thought of him being two or almost two he would be saying sentences and sleeping all night… haha. It’s more like saying about 20 words half of which are not super useful (like bee) and still waking up every 2-3 hours. Oh well, this way if we have another baby sometime I won’t even miss the 8 hours of sleep! Jack also still breastfeeds a lot more than most kids his age, but I enjoy it- it’s one of the only times I get to lie down during the day and rest. In general even though some times are hard, I love being able to stay home with him most days and am so so thankful for the help I also get from his dad and my dad.

Here is what a recent day looked like for us:

 

7:30- J wakes up and wants to pee on the potty

-I get changed and change him

-I might have 5-10 minutes to work out while stopping to throw balls for the dog or help J with a toy

8-put breakfast in toaster oven to heat, put laundry in, get everyone ready for a walk

-walk the dog around the block with J

8:20- have breakfast and feed the dog

8:40 J wants to go to the bathroom again

8:45- I try to finish eating while J plays/makes a mess

8:50- breastfeed

9- get ready to go to the library storytime, put new load of laundry in

-clean up dishes, clean up toys, make a snack to bring

9:30- leave for library

11:15 get home and put stuff in dryer

-breastfeed

-try to nurse or wear J to sleep for an hour

12:45- I can finally sit down and relax and watch a TV show while J naps

2-J wakes up, I nurse him

2:20 make lunch and J eats lunch

2:40 clean up from lunch

-errands around the house

3:20 Brian watches J while I write up notes from work and clean up

5- my dad watches J for an hour which I really appreciate! I get to eat in peace and do some clean up

5:45- J is back and breastfeeds

6- play with J, make him a snack, read books

7- nurse

7-8 walk with Bear and wear J in the carrier to get him to sleep

Dealing with ammonia in cloth diapers

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Jack “helping” with the diaper laundry

 

Ever since Jack became a toddler, we have been dealing with ammonia issues in our cloth diapers… Thankfully nothing bad ever happened like him getting a rash from it, but the diapers smelled really strongly right after he peed in them, although they smelled clean out of the washer. Our favorite diapers are these Bumgenius 4.0s which we use with organic cotton inserts (after having tried wool and giving up because you can’t really launder them).

Here is a list of everything I tried (unsuccessfully) to fix the ammonia issue:

  • Different eco friendly detergents like Rockin Green (and their special ammonia bouncer), Molly’s suds, and Eco spouts
  • Boiling all my diapers on the stove
  • Using Oxygen bleach
  • Bac-out stain remover
  • Soaking the diapers for 1 hour to overnight
  • Doing extra rinses
  • Running inserts through the dishwasher on high heat (!)
  • Sunning them
  • Tea tree oil added to the wash

On facebook groups I often saw people saying that non-eco friendly detergents worked better, but my family has super sensitive skin, so I was thinking about it but ended up not trying it.

The solution I ended up using when I found some at my dad’s house and decided to try it was sadly: horribly un-eco-friendly Bleach! I saw that they had it so I figured at least I wouldn’t be buying a whole bottle of something toxic, and I put in about 1/4 cup with the wash cycle, and it completely worked. Plus, the inserts were so bright white which I never got with all the eco friendly methods (not that it matters how diaper inserts look). I was obviously sad that I had to end up using something so bad for the environment and possibly your health, but I made sure to do extra rinses to get it out, and Jack didn’t have any reaction to the diapers. Hopefully we won’t have to use it again too soon!

Jack has been doing great with letting us know he needs to poop on the potty at 19 months now, but with peeing he still often prefers to play and doesn’t want to go to the bathroom. Hopefully by the time he is 2 we can get him signaling for pees more often and I can stop doing laundry every few days!

Whole wheat vegan microwave cookies

cookie

I love the convenience of making cookie-in-a-mug type things because you can have a nice warm cookie after just microwaving it for a minute. I tweaked some recipes to make a slightly healthier version though, with whole wheat flour and I used cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips, although either would work. This recipe makes about 4 cookies the size of your hand, so you can keep it in the fridge and use some of it each time instead of having to mix the ingredients fresh each time.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup vegan butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

a capful of vanilla extract

a sprinkle of salt

2/3 cup almond milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Put the butter in a glass storage bowl and microwave for about 20 sec to soften it

Mix the rest of the ingredients in and store in the fridge, covered, until you want a cookie

To make a cookie, spread a few spoonfuls of dough on a plate and shape into a circle, and microwave for 1 minute

 

Dealing with tantrums using positive parenting

Jack at the park

Jack at the park

Jack is 19 months old now, and he is starting to have his own opinions about things more and more. Yesterday he had his second ever big tantrum, and I thought I would share how we deal with it in a positive parenting way. I got most of my ideas from The book Peaceful Parent and her web page ahaparenting.com that has a free email list you can sign up for which is great. I also joined a few facebook groups about gentle parenting which are nice to read other people’s suggestions.

So yesterday at night Jack was overtired which was my fault- I should have tried to get him to bed earlier. He wanted to play though and get really upset when I told him he couldn’t play with the water in his learning tower because it was bedtime. What I try to remember with discipline is LOVE and LIMITS. So I set limits and am firm with them (he did not get to play with the water) but I am empathic and supportive and loving. This looked like my husband coming over and us carrying Jack into the bedroom. I asked Jack if he wanted a hug but he pushed me away and was screaming. So I sat next to him and said that I would be there for him and love him. My husband tried to get closer too but Jack was too upset, so he also said that he was there if he needed him in a calm voice. I verbalized Jack’s feelings saying “it looks like you’re really sad and frustrated.” “I bet you wish you could play with the water, and we can play with it tomorrow.”  He screamed and cried for almost 30 minutes I think, and I would intermittently say things like “it’s ok to be sad,” or suggest something like “do you want to pet your fabric animals to see if that makes you feel better?”

For a long time he didn’t want to do anything or have anyone touch him and just cried, and my husband and I stayed nearby and calmly said something every few minutes. When Jack finally started to calm down we offered some ideas and he said he wanted a snack and water, so we brought it over. He independently came over to hug me while my husband got the snack which made me feel really good. It really reinforces that dealing with his big feelings in a supportive way lets him know that we love him no matter what. I’m so glad I read about positive parenting instead of thinking that punishment or ignoring is the best way to deal with tantrums. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a toddler to get left alone or punished for there scary feelings he has which already feel overwhelming and make him feel out of control.  Going through this with my husband also made me fall in love with him even more- seeing how patient and gentle he could be with our son who was having such a hard time.

Review of Pedoodles shoes and age-by-age shoe guide

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I recently bought Jack some pedoodle shoes because they are pretty eco friendly. They use recycled leather and rubber which is nice and are supposed to have flexible soles. They also have velcro which is really easy to use and are pretty wide which is good for baby feet.

I think that pedoodles are great for people who want a more structured shoe, and would be better for slightly older toddlers, maybe at least 2-3 years old. I think at 18 months Jack still needs shoes that are more flexible. The leather upper part is not very flexible, so I think shoes like the Soft Star ones with very soft leather are ideal for where Jack is now. He was also able to pull off the velcro tabs but I imagine that’s the case with most velcro shoes. From my shoe experience so far (we’ve tried a lot of brands!), this is what I think worked best for us and what I’d do with a future child:

0-12 months: no shoes until baby starts walking. We just used socks with the skid-proof bottoms.

12 months-15 months (starting to stand/walk until they are really confident walkers): very soft shoes with leather all around (no rubber which while it can be described as “flexible” is never as flexible as leather or cloth). For the very early walking months I love BabyPaws which is formaldehyde-free leather and has velcro to have an adjustable fit. Leather shoes that are mocassin style with elastic closure like Robeez or the more nontoxic version, Bobux are adorable but didn’t fit Jack’s feet and aren’t adjustable. We kept Jack in all leather shoes for about 4 months. The shoes got holes after about 2 months, and also aren’t waterproof, but they are amazing in the learning to walk stage.

15 months-24 months (confident walker to runner):  Soft star classic shoes (ideally with velcro closure). They have a rubber sole which is flexible (but not as much as leather) and have a very soft leather top. They last a lot longer than the all leather shoes and don’t get wet when walking through puddles. We used these sometimes around 12 months if it was wet out but Jack was clearly more comfortable in the soft shoes until he became a proficient walker. The soft star company is my all time favorite for shoes- they have formaldehyde-free leather and are hand made in the US.

24 months plus: Stick with soft star, or try other shoes with “flexible” rubber soles and a more structured leather upper like the Pedoodles. The pedoodles are eco friendly and use recycled materials but they don’t use formaldehyde-free leather. FYI neither does Livie and Luca whom I also emailed.

Some favorite food products

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*This post is not sponsored, it’s just my honest recommendations*

Since it’s summer, I’ve been really into eating sandwiches and burgers which are pretty quick to make. I recently discovered seitan, and I love the products from the Upton’s Naturals brand I got at whole foods. I bought some of their traditional strips and fried them in some olive oil for a few minutes until they browned, and then I stored them in the fridge. When I wanted to make a sandwich I put them on bread in the toaster oven to warm it all up, and added mayo, avocado, lettuce, and maybe some vegan cheese. It’s really delicious!

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Another product I’ve been loving is the healthiest brand of veggie burgers ever- Hilary’s. They are sold in the whole foods freezer section in packs of 2. So far I tried the traditional flavor and root veggies and they are both good. I love that it’s vegan and gluten free, and isn’t made of weird ingredients I don’t use at home like textured soy protein. They also taste amazing even microwaved so that’s a plus for a busy mom!

I’ll admit that now that Jack is trying to climb all over the kitchen if I’m cooking, I’ve been relying a lot on frozen foods. We are on the lookout for a learning tower on craigslist so that he can safely stand at the counter with me, so maybe that will help. He loves playing in the sink even though he always ends up all wet. It seems like with toddlers you are always letting them make some kind of mess in order to buy time to get things done around the house!