Sugar-free dairy-free frosting recipe

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I’m trying to make a sugar-free and dairy-free frosting for my baby’s first birthday, so here’s a recap of what I’ve tried so far.

  • I took a jar of full-fat (not light) coconut milk and opened it and refrigerated it overnight.
  • The next day, I scooped out the more solid top parts with a spoon carefully, leaving the watery bottom part (I removed 1/3rd to 1/2 the contents)
  • I used the whisk attachment for my immersion blender and whisked it for a minute until it looked like whipped cream, and added a capful of vanilla extract.
  • This created the bottom right blob on the following picture. It tasted like whipped cream, but more coconut-y and not sweet. Not bad if you need a light and fluffy topping for something though- the texture was nice!

 

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  • Next I added about 2 tablespoons of dairy-free cream cheese and a teaspoon of lemon juice, and whisked again.
  • I ended up with the top left blob, which had a more frosting-like consistency but tasted too tart
  • For the top right and *winning* blob, I added dates which I had previously food-processed until I got a light caramel color. It was SO good! It tasted sweet, and thick like frosting, and spread well on a cake! The next day it didn’t look as good on the cake though, so I would do the process the day of.

I was so happy to discover that you can make frosting that tastes good without a ton of powdered sugar! I definitely have a sweet tooth, and this is so much less sugary but still fulfills that creamy sugary craving. Oh, if you are soy-free, I think coconut oil may work as well as cream cheese to thicken the frosting (you can’t store it somewhere too warm though).

Now I just have to try some different cake recipes!

Planning an eco-friendly 1st birthday party

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I can’t believe Jack is turning one is less than a month! I used to think that I would be excited for him to become a toddler so that he would be more interactive and we could do fun things like go to museums, but I am loving the baby stage and am really sad that it will be ending! I’m trying to appreciate all the snuggly times now, and how Jack loves to be worn in the carrier and take naps right next to me.

We are planning a small party for his 1st birthday at our apartment, and this is what we are thinking:

  • I ordered some organic cotton fabric to combine with some I already have and make a birthday bunting! I’m nervous about it turning out well honestly because I’m an amateur sewer, but I love the idea of it being handmade and starting a tradition of using it for all birthdays in our family. It’s also no plastic and obviously reusable, which is very eco-friendly (more than balloons or even flowers).
  • We’re using real silverware instead of disposable plates etc. (I think napkins are the only thing we don’t have enough of since we only have 4 cloth napkins)
  • We asked for no presents. Hopefully people will really not bring anything!
  • No plastic favors. I may have some kind of edible favor, but I’m not sure yet.
  • I considered making or ordering from etsy an ecofelt birthday crown, but Jack usually does not enjoy hats, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it if he will likely remove it within seconds.
  • We used evite instead of paper invitations.
  • Jack is wearing an organic cotton outfit, and it’s something cute but that he can wear again (not a special “1st birthday” shirt)
  • There is no theme or other decorations. Just mostly home-made organic food and some eco-friendly toys for the babies to all play with
  • I am making a healthy cake at home with only date paste as a sweetener. Definitely better than some store-bought one with trans fat or GMO corn syrup etc! I just hope it tastes ok :) I tried one “apple spice” recipe so far which was good but too ginger-bread-y and had molasses, so I’m going to try some more until I find a good one. I made a coconut frosting with dates which was amazing though!sugar-free cake

Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diaper review

Jack at 22 pounds wearing a bumgenius 4.0 diaper

Jack at 22 pounds wearing a bumgenius 4.0 diaper

Before a month or so ago, I didn’t understand why people liked pocket diapers. You have to wash the whole thing (the cover and insert) each time, instead of with covers and prefolds which we mostly use where you only sometimes have to wash the cover if it gets dirty. With wool, you really only have to wash it rarely when it gets poop on it.

However, Jack is really sensitive to being wet (hopefully means he’ll be out of diapers sooner than later!) so using cotton prefolds meant changing his diaper A LOT, and him getting upset in the car for example if his diaper got wet. When he was a few months old we started using eco-friendly disposables (the Bambo Nature brand which is even compostable) when we were driving more than a few minutes or other people were watching him who didn’t want to check if a diaper was wet every 5 minutes.

Once I thought about it, I realized it makes more sense for the environment and Jack’s chemical exposure to use pocket diapers instead of disposables. Pocket diapers (or stay-dry all-in-ones like bumgenius Freetimes) are really similar to disposables in that they have a stay-dry layer (it’s polyester based in the 4.0s) so Jack doesn’t really feel wet. I’ve tested it, and it works really well! You can leave them on for longer like a disposable and they almost never feel wet. Obviously it’s not as nice as organic cotton and wool, but better than disposables. I also tried the Bummies stay-dry liners, and they were way smaller than a trifolded prefold, so they didn’t keep everything feeling dry. 

What I like about the Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diapers:

  • They are one-size, so I could use them on a newborn in the future
  • They fit pretty trim-ly and stay on well
  • They have cute colors and some adorable patterns 
  • They are made in the USA
  • You can adjust the absorbency (we use organic prefolds, and put 2 in if we use them overnight)
  • They have good resale value if you change your mind about them
  • They really stay dry!
  • I haven’t had a big issue with leaks 
  • You can wash them in a machine unlike wool which is usually by hand
  • The tab area is stretchy so that it gets a really good fit around the waist

Negatives about them:

  • They are polyester inside and the outside part has PUL which is not as nice as natural fibers
  • Because of the PUL they are less breathable than wool, so we use wool part-time too in order to make sure we avoid diaper rashes
  • They can be expensive, and even if you buy used (try diaperswappers.com) they are not that discounted
  • The velcro ones get pilly, and they dug into Jack’s thigh and made him all red. The snaps are great though

Overall, they have been a great middle-ground between the most natural option (organic wool with organic cotton prefolds) and disposables, and I am kind of addicted to the adorable patterns!

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Pumpkin quinoa recipe (allergen-free)

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This is a great way to use up leftover pumpkins from Halloween! It also stores well, so you can make a bunch and use up your entire pumpkin and then eat it all week.

Ingredients:

Quinoa (about 3 cups)

3 Apples

a smallish pumpkin

1/2 cup raisins

optional- 1/2 cup pecans or other nut

I used organic red quinoa from Trader Joe’s and followed the package about how to make it.

For the pumpkin: I cut it in half, scooped everything out, and then cut it into 8 slices like a watermelon. I roasted those until they were soft at 350 degrees, about 45 minutes.

Then I cut the pumpkin in cubes and sauteed it with the quinoa, cubed apples, raisins, and pecans if you want to add them. To make it even better I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar before serving. The vinegar really made it great!

Comparison of the Orbit infant and toddler car seats

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my Toyota Corolla with a toddler seat on a base in the middle seat, and the infant seat next to it for comparison

 

We recently bought the Orbit toddler car seat for Jack now that he is almost a year old and seemed to want to look outside and be more upright. We used the infant Orbit seat up until now, so I wanted to compare the two seats.

Like I’ve said before, we got the Orbit brand because they are the only brand with NO brominated flame retardants (Britax is working on reducing them which is a good step too). Orbit is also the only Oeko-Tex certified nontoxic car seat.

Thoughts on the infant seat:

  • I liked the cloth-like handle which was more comfortable to carry
  • It seemed pretty heavy
  • In my Toyota Corolla, it took up a lot of room, so I never really pivoted it and removed it because it was wedged in there
  • After about 6 months it got annoying to lift the baby up and over the side into the seat, but that probably also makes it safer
  • It was easy to take off the cloth part and machine wash it

Thoughts on the toddler seat:

  • If you put it on the base, it’s SO easy to install- we had it up and running in 2 minutes
  • The way to adjust the harness length is the same as the infant seat so it’s easy to figure out
  • On the base, it decreases the visibility in my Toyota Corolla by almost 50% vertically in the rear window
  • That also means the baby gets to sit up really high and have a good view out the window
  • It’s HEAVY!
  • it’s a lot easier to put my (now 22 pound) baby in and get him out since you don’t lift him over the side
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view out the rear mirror of my Toyota Corolla with the toddler seat on a base in the middle seat

 

Overall I was really glad that the toddler and infant seats can both fit in my little Corolla, so that if we end up with 2 or 3 kids they could technically all fit. It would be hard with 3 to get the middle kid in their seat I guess, but not as bad if you put the infant seat in the middle and didn’t have to reach over it.

In general, I really like the Orbit seats and it makes me so happy that my baby isn’t breathing toxic fumes in there! He also seems a lot happier now in the toddler seat since he can see more, and sit upright more.

Dairy-free stuffed mushroom recipe

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They had really nice looking portobello mushrooms at the farmer’s market this week, so I got some to stuff and bake in the oven. They are a great alternative to meat if you’re vegetarian, and can easily be allergen-free for an elimination diet.

Recipe:

Sautee your filling until browned (I used the mushroom stalk, and a little spinach, garlic, herbs, and olives. You can add breadcrumbs if you want)

Meanwhile, bake the mushroom for 15 minute at 350 degrees on a baking sheet. (You can brush olive oil on it if you feel fancy!)

Remove the mushroom and fill it with the filling. I topped it with daiya cheese too which melted nicely

Bake the whole thing for another 15 minutes at 350

 

I served it with quinoa and it was delicious!

 

Eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas

Jack’s birthday and Christmas are coming up, so I’m trying to think of gift ideas. We’re going to ask family to contribute towards the new Orbit car seat which is expensive. We try to keep toys to a minimum, especially since Jack seems to really prefer household objects to toys right now, but I’m coming up with a list of a few non-toxic toys that might work well for a long time.

Some things I’m thinking of are

1. Organic clothes (some for now and some for summer)

2. A walker-type toy like this one by plan toys

3. Something musical like this tambourine that seems safe without exposed metal

4. An nontoxic picnic blanket like these below on etsy, but I’m looking for a cheaper version that still doesn’t have toxic chemicals.

5. Some wooden puzzles with animals or letters like this Hape one that is solid wood and with nontoxic paint

Halloween

10.31We didn’t do a lot for Halloween this year because Jack is only 10 months old. I dressed him up as a bear with an organic Jacket I bought used on the natural toys B/S/T facebook group which I love. I also got some cheap white organic pants and made a little tail out of white fabric I already had. I was glad I could re-use all the parts of his costume and that they were all organic!

We ended up just going over to my dad’s house and not going to this street fair we planned on because everyone had things come up last minute, but hopefully next year will be more fun! I can’t believe Jack will be almost two then, and will be running around and have an opinion about his costume!

 

Easy dairy-free vegetable casserole (can be gluten-free too)

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I made this really quick casserole the other day that turned out well, and gave me enough meals for several days which is a plus when you’re chasing after a crawling baby all day and don’t have time to cook! Now that Jack is crawling (quickly) he gets into everything, so it’s harder for me to make my usual healthy foods. This meal can use some frozen veggies if you have them on hand, and the leftovers taste great.

Directions:

I layered sliced small potatoes, carrots, peas, spinach, and olives in a baking dish.

Make a bechamel sauce either whatever way you want, or by using

3 tablespoons of vegan butter

5 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (or rice flour for gluten free)

1.5 cups milk (I use almond milk)

salt, pepper, and spices (I used basil, garlic, and oregano) to taste

-melt the butter, then slowly add the flour and then milk until you get a thick sauce

(honestly if you are really in a hurry I’ve made this by just microwaving the milk for 30 seconds and adding the flour and some olive oil and it’s not as great but it’s ok)

Pour the sauce over your veggies

Sprinkle with vegan cheese if you want, pine nuts, or whatever topping you have at home

Bake for a long time until the root veggies are soft- about an hour at 350

 

 

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