Category Archives: Natural Remedies

Baby Birds No Longer

Today is the 17th and my Baby Bird is 17 months old. She has been a toddler for quite some time. Running, coloring, eating PB&J and saying “no!” (All at the same time.) I suppose it is past due that she get a promotion. From this point on she will now be called “Little Bird.”

She is not our only baby bird growing up. With the passing of Steve, “Bebe,” the chick in our banner and Facebook profile picture, who we watched hatch from an egg, is now our senior hen. She is a proficient layer, laying a large, light brown egg daily.

Bebe, all grown up

Although we don’t have any roosters, we were lucky to watch Bebe and her sibling hatch and grow. A few years ago my husband noticed that one of our hens, Butters, a sweet and social Buff Orpington, was broody. “Broody” hens sit on the eggs all day trying to hatch them. In the wild this is obviously a necessary characteristic in order for the eggs to survive. However, most laying hens have the trait of broodiness bred out of them as it can disincline them to lay more eggs. For the purposes of egg production they simply need to lay the egg and move on.

When picking up our organic, soy-free, Modesto Milling poultry feed and scratch from White Mountains Ranch, Papa Bird chatted with the owner about how to get Butters to stop being so broody. She surprised us by suggesting that we let her! She graciously gave us four fertilized eggs to take home and let her sit on. Butters was a wonderful foster mom. She sat and sat and sat and sat…

And finally, one day in the spring, we had babies!! Two of the eggs hatched. Give me the meanest, grouchiest person, put newborn chicks in front of them and I guarantee they will just melt. There is nothing cuter.

Token and Bebe

One chick was strong and healthy. Since the baby bird had black feathers, well black fuzz, Papa Bird kept the South Park references going and named the chick “Token.” The little one we called “Bebe.” Unfortunately, little Bebe was born with a club foot. Her foot curled in and didn’t open up properly. She couldn’t put weight on it or walk properly. I imagine that back in the old days, on a large farm, such a deformed chicken wouldn’t get the chance to survive. Then again, in modern, large scale egg production the chickens live in cages and aren’t really allowed to walk around. So who knows what they do.

Papa Bird did a little research and decided to try to splint her foot. I was so proud of him and his All Creatures Great and Small skills. As I played nurse and lent extra hands, he experimented with various splints for Bebe. First he tried a little piece of cardboard and some medical tape. Unfortunately, Butters kept pecking at the white cardboard. We were worried she would hurt the poor baby’s foot. Eventually we found that what worked best was just a bandaid or two. Fortunately, after about a week her foot worked well, if a little smaller at first. Now you can’t even tell!

Bebe's BandAid Foot

Token, on the other hand, had a different problem. You see, he ended up being a “he” which is illegal in the City of San Diego! We took him to White Mountains Ranch later that year so he could enjoy the spoils of country life.

Click on any photo in the gallery to enlarge.

 

Mama Bird’s Belly Butter

When I found out the winner of our first contest was pregnant, I couldn’t resist making her some of my favorite homemade belly butter in addition to her prize of a wedge of homemade Humbolt Fog-inspired cheese. I made up this recipe for stretch mark preventing belly butter when I was pregnant. I used it daily and credit it for sailing through pregnancy without a single stretch mark. Like my Iced Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Recipe (another natural pregnancy remedy) I have been wanting to share it for some time and figured this was a great excuse for sharing it without fear of triggering pregnancy rumors in my extended family.

Photo credit: Kari Pfeiffer

Researching stretch marks, I learned that the biggest risk factor is genetics. Since my mother did not escape her pregnancies unmarked, I was extra motivated to try to prevent them. The second biggest factor is simply dry skin. This formula uses all natural ingredients, many of them food grade, to nourish, feed and hydrate the skin. I believe this allowed my skin to expand as needed and bounce back better afterwards. I am sensitive to artificial perfumes, and was all the more so during pregnancy, and I had an aversion to the smell of all the stretch mark creams that were commercially made. Like all mothers, I wanted my growing babe to have the best start, so turning to natural ingredients, instead of rubbing chemicals into my bump, was a no-brainer. You could easily add a drop or two of essential oils to add a scent, but I preferred the butter as is, smelling like chocolate and coconut–yum.

Mama Bird’s Belly Butter Recipe

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan on very low heat. Heat just until melted. Whisk and remove from heat. Pour into a jar or covered bowl. Chill in the refrigerator until solid.

Instructions:

The butter will most likely stay a solid at room temperature (unless the room temperature is very hot, i.e. over 80-85° F). Melt a small amount by rubbing it between your hands and massage into the belly (and anywhere growing). The butter is most easily absorbed by damp skin, so after a shower is ideal. Use at least once a day and more often as needed when skin is starting to feel tight or itchy. Although the vitamin E can help preserve the shelf life, I prefer to make small batches frequently. (This amount usually lasted me two weeks.)

Variations:

If you do not have one of the ingredients, other options to substitute in include Olive Oil or Argan Oil. You may notice that your finished product is more solid or less solid depending on the products you use and the brands you use. One tip is to keep in mind the relative hardness of the oils/butters. Here’s what I have found, listed from firmest to runniest: Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Vitamin E, Avocado Oil. Don’t ever add water to your mix to make it runnier as this can speed up molding, but add a little more Avocado Oil or Olive Oil if you would like it softer. Conversely, if you want it harder, use a little more Cocoa or Shea Butter. Feel free to experiment!

About the Ingredients:

Coconut Oil has fatty chain acids that work to regenerate and rebuild the connective tissues that cause stretch marks. Massaged daily into the skin, it can help keep the skin on a growing belly supple and flexible. Purchase unrefined coconut oil as it has more of the healthful properties (it also smells more “coconuty”).

Cocoa Butter contains natural antioxidants and is one of the most stable fats. Although a recent double blind study did not find it better than placebo in preventing stretch marks, it was found to be moisturizing and soothing and daily use prevents dry, itchy skin. Depending on the brand, it can smell quite like chocolate.

Shea Butter originates in Africa and has been used for ages for all kinds of skin care concerns, including dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, burns and stretch marks. Shea butter enhances the skin’s natural barrier function, increases the moisture levels, and helps with cell regeneration. It also helps with capillary circulation, helps sooth irritated skin, helps protect against UV rays and helps with restructuring effects on the epidermis. Try to purchase it unrefined.

Avocado Oil is my new favorite cooking oil. It can be used up to 500° F, as opposed to olive oil, which really shouldn’t be heated above 325° F, or it scorches and coverts to trans fats. Avocado has a mild, neutral taste, making it a great replacement for vegetable oil. Used topically on the body, avocado oil is wonderful for moisturizing and is rich in vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants, including vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a very powerful antioxidant that prevents the formation of free-radical particles. Free radicals break down skin cells and create aging and depletion of nutrients. Vitamin E is known as a natural scar remedy when massaged into the skin. It stimulates the collagen in the skin, which can provide a noticeable difference when it comes to texture and strength. The antioxidant also promotes cell growth and is also a natural anti-inflammatory. Although not a preservative, vitamin E, as an antioxidant, can also help prolong the shelf-life of the belly butter.

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Red Raspberry Leaf Iced Tea

With the weather heating up I have been enjoying a drink I first made last summer. Raspberry Leaf Tea (Amazon link) is well known for it’s uses during pregnancy*, especially during the last trimester. Among other things it supposedly tones the uterus, so that when it is time to push, it is strong and fit. I never liked the taste of pregnancy teas, but sometime during the dog days of last summer, I decided to try Raspberry Leaf iced. This time last year I always had a pitcher in the fridge. It is delicious! I sweetened it and it tastes remarkably like Sweet Tea, but without the caffeine.

Red Raspberry Leaf Iced Tea

Baby Bird is 11 months old today (happy month birthday, sweetie!) and I am down to my pre-pregnancy weight, thanks to breastfeeding, our regular diet, the Bar Method and genetics. But I notice that my internal guts are just a little stretched out. I look thin in the morning but eating even a little food makes for a 20-week-looking food baby. Natural, I know, but it made me start wondering if Raspberry Leaf, as a uterine toner, would be helpful postpartum, as well.

The answer? Who knows?! But it tastes delicious on a hot day.

Red Raspberry Leaf Iced Tea Recipe

Step 1: Bring at least 3-4 cups of filtered water to a boil.

Step 2: Place four bags of Raspberry Leaf Tea in a pitcher.

Step 3: Pour boiling water over the bags and a little less than halfway filling the pitcher.

Red Raspberry Leaf Iced Tea

Step 4: Let steep 20-30 minutes.

Step 5: Remove the tea bags and compost them.

Step 6: Add sugar, to taste, or a sweetener of your choice. (If you are looking for alternatives to sugar check out this Article with options for alternative sweeteners.) By mixing in the sugar while the tea is hot, it will dissolve easily. Sometimes I forget to do this before chilling. In that case I use a liquid sweetener, such as agave.

Step 7: Add a lot of ice to the pitcher and some cool water until it is full.

Step 8: Chill longer in the fridge if needed, and enjoy!

Note:

Raspberry Leaf Tea should not be confused with Raspberry Tea, as in tea flavored with the fruit. The latter is usually sweet and doesn’t really have the same health benefits. I usually use the Traditional Medicinals brand.

*Click here for a peer reviewed article on the safety and efficacy of Raspberry Leaf Tea. The study found that RRL can shorten the length of labor without side effects. It also suggests that the tea can be helpful in reducing both pre- and post-term babies and may reduce the need for interventions, including forceps, vacuum and cesarean section.

Updates:

1. I think it has definitely had a beneficial effect. I have lost 2.5″ off of my waist just this summer.

2. We have just added a store of products and supplies that we love. You can purchase Raspberry Leaf Tea on our store page, which will be fulfilled by Amazon, or directly from Amazon, here.



Raw Energy Bites

In the last year I’ve grown tired of packaged energy and cereal bars. Even the ones that have a short ingredient list of “real food” ingredients. So when a friend pinned this recipe on Pinterest, my interest was piqued.

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Usually I make a batch on the weekends and then keep them in the fridge. They are sweet with honey but have never given me a sugar crash as they are filled with protein and fiber. I also like to experiment with various superfoods, like chia seeds and cocoa nibs, in addition to the chocolate chips and dried cranberries or cherries. I use local honey when I can. As an added bonus for the milkers out there, the rolled oats are also a great galactagogue.

My husband munches on them, too, but I eat most of them. I grab three or so to eat in the car on the way to work in the morning with my coffee. They are substantial enough that I have plenty of energy to work out, too, before a full morning of work. I also find them very helpful to have on hand when I am home with baby and find myself all of a sudden starving. I can better focus on preparing food for her if I pop one in my mouth. Instant nourishment! :)

Raw Energy Bites Recipe

Recipe from gimmesomeoven

5.0 from 1 reviews
Raw Energy Bites
 
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy Snack or Breakfast
Serves: 20-25 walnut-sized balls.
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. This will make it easier to work with.
  2. Once chilled, roll into two-bite sized balls or whatever size you would like. If it still isn't "sticking" together, add a little more honey or peanut butter. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Notes:

I don’t usually measure ingredients too closely, especially sticky messy nut butters and honey, but I highly recommend doing so for this recipe. The proportions definitely need to be right in order for the batter to stick together. The previous poster has some great ideas for substitutions, but recommends keeping the honey as it is the “glue.”

Captain Obvious points out that these are NOT a good snack for babies under one year!

captain obvious