I am the vampire of vegetables

I’m always surprised and a bit concerned when someone takes my advice. I guess I should be flattered, but usually I’m just like, “What’s wrong with them that they are actually listening to the shit I say. Should I even be friends with someone who is taking advice from me?”

So, call me crazy (ok) but today I look around and suddenly everyone is wearing their baby in a sling and talking about the many uses of baking soda and using mason jars on their blenders and not washing their hair…. weird. Maybe I’m more brilliant than I had previously imagined. I think I’m actually a bit like Jesus. Here I am just doing my thing, trying to make sense of my suffering and I end up shining a beam of inspiration into the lives of my people…. Wow. I’m awesome.

Anyway, if you are going to be inspired by anything I do, you should copy this one: Juicing (=drinking the juice of raw vegetables). It’s kinda like being a vampire of vegetables. Like I’m sucking the juice/blood out of the vegetables. And then I sparkle in the sunlight. (sorta)

I became enlightened to the pleasures of green juice a few months ago through a store in my new neighborhood. At The Raw Juice Company, I drank amazing delicious juices and learned so much from the owner Tony and all the helpful staff.

Once I had spent about $500 buying their juices daily, Tony (the owner) told me that I should probably start juicing at home. This is how much he believes in his business. He is a really nice guy. I still buy from him but now I’m not relying on him for my daily fix.

Once I started feeling the benefits of juicing, I fell in love. Personally, I feel much more energy, able to think much more clearly, happier (which is a lot for me to say), healthier, my skin is nicer and my joints don’t hurt anymore (I was having carpal tunnel and symptoms of arthritis). And…. I’ve finally lost weight. I feel so great when I drink the juice that I just don’t have the appetite for the unhealthy stuff (except for the chocolate… I’ll never give up the chocolate.). I actually emotionally miss my coffee but some days my taste buds just don’t want it.

Remember Jack Lalanne? The really old guy jumping around in the infomercials making all these crazy claims about how juicing keeps him young and strong and healthy. Well… I think he was right.

Juice is not a smoothie. When you juice a vegetable or fruit, you are extracting the vitamins and minerals without the fiber. (You will still get your fiber from your regular healthy diet.) This is important because your body can easily absorb all of the good stuff without having to work so hard to pull it out of the fiber.

Juicing is also amazing because in addition to making the vegetables more easily absorbed, you are consuming much more than you would otherwise. While it is possible to eat an entire raw kale plant, half a celery, a bunch of spinach, three raw beets and two large raw carrots in a day, I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it every single day.

But juicing is wasteful. Isn’t it? I had to come to terms with this one. When I thought of the idea of throwing away so much of a perfectly good vegetable, I felt really uncomfortable. But then I read that it takes almost 3 litres of water to make 1 litre of coca cola. That’s a lot of waste for something really unhealthy. But we (well, not me, I’m perfect) drink it without considering the water wastage. Also, Tropicana seems to be doing pretty well juicing all those oranges. eh?

So, I throw the pulp in my backyard compost and hope that I’m not hurting anyone by getting really healthy. My extreme privilege to be able to get all these extra nutrients is not lost on me. But I enjoy a lot of privileges, as a middle class North American, of having an excess food supply, so why not enjoy it in a way that is healthy?

But juicing is so expensive. Not really, my juicer works very well and is easy to clean. It cost us $100. The produce we buy at No Frills (I choose not to feel shame for not buying organic). A typical juice will use about .75cents of produce. Less than a cup of coffee.

But the juicer is so hard to clean. So are the pots and pans but you still cook dinner. Once you understand the pieces of your juicer (mine has 5), you can quickly clean it. I try to clean mine as soon as I’m done juicing but sometimes I leave it and clean it the next day before I juice. Like anything, with practice, you get better. I can now make a quick juice in the morning for myself and my husband and quickly clean the juicer and not be later than usual for work.

More questions:

There is a lot of helpful information about juicing on the Raw Juice Company website. Here:

http://www.therawjuicecompany.com/whyraw.html

http://www.therawjuicecompany.com/userguide.html

Getting started

Now that you’re committed to being just like me and juicing. What do you actually have to do?

Step 1: Buy a juicer. Any old juicer will do. Once you get into it, you’ll decide how much you want to invest in a high quality machine. But it’s okay to start with a cheap one (because I’m still using mine).

Step 2: Open your fridge and make some juice.

Part of making the juice taste really amazing is figuring out combinations of fruits and (mostly) veggies that you like. You can google ideas or look at the menus of other juice bars- the recipes are really just written on the bottle. Making your juice taste good is a matter of playing around with mixology and finding the right proportions of each.

But, really, as Tony said when I didn’t like the cabbage and carrot juice, “It’s healthy, just drink it.”

Here is the menu for the Raw Juice Company.

Below are some recipes that I like.

I try to think in terms of green juices (with primarily leafy greens), red juices (beets) and orange juices (carrots). I aim for one green and one other each day. This is an ideal. I also tend to keep it to 3 or less ingredients because I find it simpler. It’s also fun to name drinks.

Bloody mess  beets, strawberries, apple
ABC  apples, beets, carrots
#pound beets, apple, lemon (peeled)
Chicken soup  carrot, celery (equal parts)
The carrot standard carrot, lemon, apple, ginger
Carrot bliss carrot, lemon, apple, ginger, tumeric root
Cabbage soup  carrot, cabbage, green apple, orange
My Evergreen  spinach, celery, lemon, Himalayan salt
My other Evergreen romaine, celery, lemon, Himalayan salt
The Barney  kale, grapes
Morning nourish  pear, kale, apple, celery
Green giant celery, any leafy green (kale or spinach or romaine), apple
Elphaba 1 bunch spinach, 1 green apple
v8 reboot tomato, celery, cucumber, carrot, parsley, green pepper, spinach
Wake me up before you go go celery, apple, lemon
Wellness shot (This is really gross… but it works) garlic, ginger, carrot, tumeric *juice the garlic and ginger first to let the carrot pull them through the juicer. stir in the tumeric powder after. warning: you won’t be able to kiss anyone for three days.
Fire shot cayenne pepper, orange juice
Tay Zatar (this isn’t juice but I swear by it. This tea will soothe your stomach, fight a cold, help with menstrual cramps and help bring on your period so don’t drink when you are pregnant) Put oregano in a tea ball. let steep in boiling water 3 mins.  drink.

Making love to big pharma

Yesterday I did something super stupid. Like so stupid it’s really funny.

I was trying a new recipe for making a week’s worth of baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner (obviously). It said to mix a tablespoon of each with a cup of hot water (separately) in two squeeze bottles and shake. So, I put the kettle on, took out two glass jars and mixed away. But when I picked up the jars to shake, they were really hot (because they were full of boiling water). So, I wrapped them in a cloth, shook them and carried them to the shower with me.

Then, I got into the shower and got ready to wash my hair. But the baking soda shampoo bottle was still too hot to hold so I held it carefully by the rim of the jar and proceeded to pour boiling water over my head. I’m such a friggin idiot.

(I probably shouldn’t tell you that I proceeded to do the same thing a few minutes later with the ACV conditioner thinking that it had cooled off enough.)

So now that we have established that I am someone who always looks for alternative remedies, I have to say that I feel an immense gratitude today to Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.

Now I know lots of people have a lot of problems with ‘big pharma’ and there are many legitimate complaints. But these three companies, together, are saving my life. Not saving, giving – they are giving me a life. They are giving me back myself.

Sometimes I doubt that I really need these medications. But recent experiences have proven to me their worth.

A few months ago I added a microdose of 5 mg of Seroquel to my daily cocktail (of Lamotrigine and Zoloft) and it has made a huge huge difference in my ability to think clearly without knocking me out entirely (like the higher doses did).  Then we started bringing the Zoloft down from 45 mg by 5 mg increments because we weren’t sure if it was adding anything and my doctor didn’t want me on too many different meds. I was feeling great and functioning really well (relatively) for a while. But I guess we went a bit too far down with the Zoloft. So after a few weeks of really bad rage, anxiety and a bucket of tears (mostly mine), I added another 5 mg of Zoloft each day and – wow! Huge difference.

This weekend, I was able to do fun things with my kids and breath at the same time. My son was feeling safe with me and I was able to be there for him. My daughter told me that I was doing a great job not losing my patience (which still makes me sad...). And last night, my husband put his head on my shoulder. These people are the yardstick that tells me how I’m doing.

So, I know that these medications are not right for everyone, and I think that they are over-prescribed and poorly monitored too often. And maybe these companies are exploiting the sick for financial gain or not acting ethically.  But right now, they are saving me. They are giving my children a mother. And for that, I want to say thank you for every single person who works at all of these huge mega conglomerate faceless companies. Thank you.

Thank you to the scientists for developing Zoloft (Pfizer), Lamotrigine (GlaxoSmithKline), and Seroquel (AstraZeneca). Thank you to the research study coordinators for getting these medications approved and making sure that they are safe (enough) for me. Thank you to the project managers and others who made it possible for me to get these medications in Canada. Thank you to the insurance company that pays over $200 each month to buy me these pills. Thank you to the Canadian health care system for giving me free access to a highly qualified psychiatrist who specializes in helping (and balancing medication for) women in the postpartum period.

Thank you to my husband for hanging on while I sort this shit out. And thanks for not minding while I give these companies blow jobs.

Love you. xoxo

 

addendum: 

I had lunch with my sister today and she commented that my hair looked particularly soft. Then I told her about my burnt scalp experiment and she was like “okay, I’m going to do that tonight – but I’ll let the water cool off first”. Then she said, “So I put one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of baking soda and mix them together with a cup of hot water?” And I was like, “That will make a volcano on your head.” (I think the smarts run in my family.)

There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long... poem by Shel Silverstein

 

I am Kanga

I’m not shy about my babywearing obsession…. After people stop teasing me about how they have never seen my child’s torso, they always ask me for advice on which slings they should buy. Here is my two cents. (please send $5.99)

keep calm and carry oneI find them totally practical and comfortable and a good way to keep my baby nice and happy and close while my hands are free (bonus right now because I’m also chasing a toddler around!).

Here’s an overview of the main types of carriers and where you can get them.

The Moby wrap is a great first sling for the baby. I put Crosby in one when he was three days old and it’s really my ‘go to’ sling right now. Having a baby napping in the Moby is so delicious…it’s like they are giving you a big hug and the fuzzy little head under your chin….  Check out www.mobywrap.com . Some people are intimidated when they see the wrap because it is just a long piece of fabric- but if you watch the instructions, it’s super easy to wrap.

The second sling that I’ve also been using is called a Ring Sling. I use this with Crosby now and will use it a lot more in about a month when he can hold his head up better. I used this almost every day with Soni from 3 months old until I got too pregnant to carry her on my hip.  I bought a Maya Wrap (www.mayawrap.com) and I am still really happy with it. I usually wear it in the hip carry position and always find it really comfortable and easy to use.

As far as structured carriers, I would highly recommend the Ergo Baby Carrier -it is really soo sooo comfortable. I just got it last month and my husband and I have both been wearing Crosby in it, as well as wearing my almost 2 year old daughter on our backs and fronts in it.  It’s not the best for newborns but it’s definitely the best for older babies and toddlers. The Ergo is far superior to the Baby Bjorn, in my slightly obsessive opinion. It is very comfortable and easier to put on and holds the baby against you in a more natural position, similar to the way they sit against you in a sling. The Ergo is great for front carries and also is great for wearing baby (or toddlers) on your back once you are ready.

Please note. If you would like to reimburse me for my endorsement or advice. Please send cash or chocolate. Thanks. xoxo

Poop Catchers

When I originally thought about writing a blog, it was to focus on talking about babywearing (I am the expert), natural products, and cloth diapers. All the things that would make Dr. Sears proud of me. (even though I had no idea who he was until my daughter was a year old- I’m that instinctive.) This was when my OCD (actually diagnosed by a real psychiatrist) was in charge and all I could do was over-think my babycare decisions.

Now that I have antidepressants and new topics to over-think, I’ll just write one posting (for now) about cloth diapering.

I never used cloth diapers until my second child was born and I must say, the modern cloth diapers are among the best things ever. For the first few weeks I thought it would be cool to be old-school and I started using prefold diapers with fleece diaper covers. I liked that my baby boy’s precious new package wasn’t squished into a chemical laden sponge all day (read- disposable diapers) but really, these old style cloth diapers made no sense. As soon as he pee’d, he was soaking wet, so I couldn’t let him nap in them and really, what else does a newborn do? They leaked consistently and were just silly. I even tried putting an extra fleece cover on him under the prefold, covered by another fleece cover. And by the time I got all those on, if he hadn’t pee’d on me, I needed a nap!

Then my friend introduced me to FuzziBunz (I wish they would pay me). These AI2 diapers are amazing! They are just as easy to put on as a disposable diaper, they never leak, they are ‘one size fits all’, and they are super cute. I have ten diapers and I wash them every night or two. Because I am still exclusively breastfeeding, there is no rinsing poop or anything, I just dump the dirty diapers into the wash for a cold rinse, hot wash and then into the dryer. They still look new. Really, just as easy (difficult) as taking out the garbage. (I know how this sounds… I hate me too…but it’s true!)

We use one disposable diaper every night so that I can sleep for as long as my kids and not have to get out of bed. But now that I am used to the soft cloth diapers, I am so aware of how scratchy the paper diaper feels on my son’s butt each night.  One day soon I will  ‘double stuff’ the FuzziBunz and try it overnight. I haven’t done this yet because he sleeps right beside me – I will be really annoyed if I wake up in a puddle. Please chime in if you have experience with this. (I guess I’m not the expert of cloth diapering…yet!)

I appreciate that my sweet little boy does not need to spend his first year on this earth creating a mound of garbage that would overflow my home. I also love that my son has never had a diaper rash. I also love that I’m not wrapping  his body in cancerous chemicals and leaching plastic all day. I also love that I’ve spent $250 on diapers and won’t spend much more…ever.

Which leads me to my next bragging point: my daughter has been toilet trained since  about 16 months. Wouldn’t you like to know how…

Ok. This is apparently still a topic close to my heart- it may need to spill into another posting…or two.

clothDiaperBum

Boob Food

I suppose my cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering persona would seem incomplete without a full discussion of breastfeeding. But, to be perfectly honest, I don’t have much to say because that seems to be one area of parenting where I’ve never second guessed my decisions.

I breastfed my daughter for one year. There were no notable complications, other than having to take my shirt off in every Starbucks in Toronto (but maybe I would have done that anyway). I introduced solids, starting with cooked vegetables, around 7 months and we stopped nursing at a year because it felt like the right time.

I am still exclusively breastfeeding my son (he is 5 months old) and I can’t really imagine taking care of him any other way.

Breastfeeding is so clearly the ‘way to go’ as far as I’m concerned, that I’ve never even bothered to really articulate why. I could tell you about respecting my baby enough to feed him the baby equivalent of a “whole foods diet” as opposed to a “protein shake diet”. I could tell you about the frequent recalls on baby bottles, bottle nipples and formula. I could tell you that until ten years ago baby formula didn’t contain any DHA (which is vital for brain development) and now it does (and is causing illness due to differences in the synthetic forms).

I could make the analogy that choosing breastfeeding is like choosing to feed your child fresh whole foods that you would feed yourself, versus feeding your baby every meal from a box or jar. But maybe you will also put your baby on the “gerber diet”. And then I would just never stop ranting about the evils of basing a diet on over-processed, packaged foods and the core problems in our societal views towards food but maybe you would feel like I was getting too preachy.

Besides, it is no secret that many women seem to have trouble getting started breastfeeding and they just don’t see any other options.  I attribute this to a lack of logistical support and onsite help from other women. Basically, I blame our stupid society for not creating opportunities for women who know things well to teach women who need to know them.

I know how to breastfeed, maybe I can help. I’ve now added “Lactation Consultant” to the list of careers that I am considering for when my maternity leave and sick leave and carried-over vacation time run out I enthusiastically make my ‘comeback’ into the working world.