Deliciously Sweet Ice Coffee

Ice coffee can be so expensive... or it can be $1 at the local McD's, but either way, the stuff you buy from the take out place is definitely full of questionable ingredients and syrups. I've been told that the ice coffee for one giant chain just sits in open vats for days and they scoop the coffee out of it as they go.... not so appealing. So, in an attempt to make fantastic, cheap ice coffee at home, I've discovered this amazingly good ice coffee concoction. It uses a cold water over-night soak which really helps cut down on the old-coffee bitter taste that hot brewed and cooled coffee can cause. It is really quite simple.

**First fill a large pot or container (a coffe pot will work) with 8 Tbsp of coffee and 8 cups of filtered water.
** Let this sit over night.
** In the morning, strain it through a coffee filter into a pitcher.
** Add 1 cup of half and half, or to preference and also 1 small can of sweetened condensed milk.
** Blend in a blender.
** Serve over ice packed glasses or store in the fridge for later use.

Father's Day Geekery: Books

If you have a geeky man in your life like we do (the dad in our fam is a Chemical Physicist who works with lasers and loves video games, comics, zombies, caffeine, and bacon...TOTAL nerd!) then Father's Day is a fantastic opportunity to spoil him with some of the awesome geeky dad inspired reads that are out there.

Here are some excellent choices for geeky dads and kids alike to promote bonding (both human and chemical)

This one brings out the pyro, explosion loving side of every true geeky dad and helps him share this passion with his like minded progeny. I figure it's safer to build a potato cannon than to make napalm, which is the last explosive project hubs and son did together!

And  here is a History geek's alternative to the above (son and I would love this one)

Here's a great answer to those hellicopter type parents out there. Geeky dads are usually the complete opposite... I'm not sure just how many times I've heard hubs say to Kaden "try licking that battery!"

Now for some personalized geeky books, just for dad:
For the Comic Book Geek:

For the Zombie Lover:

For the Video Game Junkie:

For the Bacon Connoisseur:

and bonus cookbook...

For the Star Wars Fanatic:

and bonus cookbook (wtf!):

For the Trekkie:

For the Caffeine Fiend:

plus a cookbook :p...

There's lots more for techie type nerds and computer nerds too...  but those ones are too boring for me (yawn)  so if that is your kinda daddy-nerd, I apologize!
Remember to whip up some bacon, eggs, and coffee for your geeky guy on Father's Day, then let him relax with his new reads or send him out with the kids to terrorize the neighbour hood with a potato cannon!

My Favorite Pregnancy and Birthing Books

There are relatively few pregnancy and birthing books that actually give me any valuable information that I feel personally complies with my beliefs and interests. However, there are a handful of authors that I return to again and again because I know that I can rely on them for down to earth, practical, and compassionate information that meshes well with the practices I hold. For instance, I prefer authors that encourage natural nutrition, herbal remedies, and most importantly, a less medical view of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. At the end of this post I will also include a list of my most detested least liked books in this category. Ones that over-medicalize, over-stress, and over-do the advice related to their field.
Oh and yes, I've actually read all of these books. I'm sure there are many more great ones that I'm not mentioning, but I've chosen to only cover those books that I've actually read myself.

Best Pregnancy and Birthing Books:

Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Ina May is a world renowned midwife who originated from the Farm community in the 1970s. She provides a natural, alternative view of childbirth. Although hospital birthing is also discussed throughout the book, I find that this excellent source is especially geared towards those considering home or birthing center births. However, her advice and techniques for labouring without much/any medical intervention and without fear are unlike anything else out there and are so incredibly empowering. This book will help you take the birthing process back into your own hands. Above all, she stresses that birth is a natural process and not a medical one. Women have been doing this for millenia!

The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm

I absolutely adore Aviva Jill Romm's books. There are so many great ones but this was the first one that I've read. It's so refreshing to get health advice from a book that covers natural options. Advice and remedies for anything from anemia to hemorrhoids are included in this book and the suggestions Romm makes are extremely valuable to all pregnant women looking for prevention or relief from common pregnancy symptoms. Romm also gives excellent advice on nutrition, maintaining a healthy phychological state, and physical exercise. There is even partner-directed advice that you can slip to your mate!

Wise Woman's Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed
Renowned herbalist Susun Weed wrote Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year as a more direct herbal advice book than Romm's. Weed focuses more on herbal remedies than on general pregnancy advice. If you are really interested in herbal medicine and natural remedies, this is the source for you. I love this book because it provides so many great alternatives to mainstream medicine and puts the power back into your hands as a woman, to care for and nourish yourself without potentially harmful chemicals and side effects.

Birth Your Way by Sheila Kitzinger
Sheila Kitzinger has written many books on pregnancy and birth. I like Birth Your Way as a great introduction for those who are perhaps questioning the mainstream way of birthing (in a hospital). She presents arguments for different types of births including home birth, and birthing centers. Kitzinger is great at bringing to the fore many topics and debates that are certainly overlooked in traditional pregnancy and birthing books (you know, the ones that assume everyone wants to give birth in a hospital and question nothing). Kitzinger also has a fantastic book on Homebirth.

Labour Pain by Nicky Wesson
This bluntly titles book is actually a fantastic resource for women looking to control their pain in labour naturally. There are so many great suggestions and remedies provided in this book. Many options are available to lesson the pain of labour and Wesson does a great job in providing easily accesible and simple measures to aid in labour pain. She covers aromatherapy, herbals, visualisations, homeopathics, music and more.

One more book I will mention that is less of a pregnancy and birthing book and more of a post-partum book is
Natural Health After Birth by Aviva Jill Romm
I am currently still reading this book, but it is another fantastic resource for natural health. The post-partum period is so ofter overlooked in literature but it is also so very important. Proper post-partum care is very significant in reducing post-partum depression, medical issues, and bonding. Romm thoroughly discusses modern and past practices of the post-partum care within other cultures as well as our own. She argues that not enough is currently done to help women during this time and that the focus is always on the baby, leaving the mother to struggle on her own. Romm also provides herbal remedies and practical natural health advice that is expected of her books. This is an excellent and rare resource that I strongly encourage all pregnant women to read.

Books that I Cannot Stand
I apologize in advance if this offends anyone, but these views are entirely personal. I admit I adamately read some of these books during my first pregnancy and even glanced at them during my second. This time, I really cannot stand to look at them. The advice is so mainstream, force-fed, and over medicalized that I just do not relate to it at all. Here is my short list.
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
If you feel at all confident, at ease, or peaceful about your pregnancy and health, just read this book to change all that in about 2 seconds flat. You will now worry about so many different medical problems that you apparently cannot do anything about save go on antibiotics or some other medication, or, better yet, do nothing about! The nutrition information is terrible and will make you feel like a bite of ice cream now and again will make you a horrible fetus-poisoning monster who will forever have stretch marks and extra fat. This is the classic fear-mongering pregnancy resource. Please avoid the hype and avoid this book!
The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas
Pretty much the same as above!
The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy by Vickie Iovine
Wow. This one is bad. Iovine is so centered on body image it's crazy. She even goes so far as to discourage exercise! Mainly because you will feel bad that you look fat in your workout clothes! Really!? This book is very negative and dose not discuss any options but instead assumes everyone has a traditional hospital birth and questions nothing (in other words, doesn't think for themselves). Not only that, buy Iovine actually discourages the use of midwives and encourages the use of c-sections and epidurals handed out by request of the mother (with no medical reason)! It isn't too hard to see why this is by far, the worst pregnancy book you could read...ever....!
In short, I feel that it is so very important to educate yourself. Read everything you can get your hands on but make sure to think for yourself and keep an open mind to alternatives. There is nothing worse than following the mainstream out of fear. Trust me. You will run into critics, including family members, but the power and confidence you will get out of taking charge of your own education, health, and mind-body wellness is very much worth the cost.

Yummy Tostadas From Scratch

I've come out from hiding (sort-of) since the first couple of months of my pregnancy were pretty rough with the nausea and the tiredness and all. I thought I'd share a recipe with you that I made quite a while back when my family was visiting. I originaly planned this for my baby brother to show off my culinary skills (ha ha), and to delight his taste buds (hopefully) after a long solitary bus ride to my house (he didn't fit in the car).

I made the tortillas and refried beans from scratch. However, you can buy corn or wheat tortillas and fry them in hot oil until they are crispy. Corn ones might work better for store bought.

Tortilla Recipe (for 18 tortillas):

Stir 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, and 4 cups of whole wheat flour in a bowl with 2 tsp. of salt. Mix in 1/2 cup of shortening with your hands until the mixture is crumbly, not gooey. In the center, pour in 1 and 1/2 cups of boiling water and mix all until evenly distributed. Sprinke your hands and surface with flour and knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky.
Make 2" size balls, cover with a dishcloth in a warm, draft free place and let rise for an hour minimum, but can be left out over night or through the day.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface until very thin and fry in hot oil in pan until you see bubbles on the surface, then flip, cook for 15-20 seconds, then flip again. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Also, I'll include my favorite refritos (refried beans) recipe that I make in my slow cooker. I usually don't measure, but I'll take a guess. You can adjust ingredients to your preference for spiciness, etc.

Refritos: (approx 8 servings for tostadas)

2 cups dry pinto beans, soaked and cooked in boiling water
2 Tbs. olive oi1
1 minced onion
6 or more cloves of garlic, minced
4 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1 small jalepeno (optional)
1 small bell pepper (optional)

Saute onion, 3 cloves of garlic, cumin, and salt in olive oil until onions are soft. Add peppers and saute a few minutes longer. Add the rest of the garlic and black pepper. Add the beans and mix, them mash with a fork and cook a while longer. Can be stored in the fridge and reheated. Another option is to add the sauteed vegetables to the beans in a slow cooker and cook on low overnight or through the day (this is what I usually do), making sure to add some extra water to the beans first.

Tostada Toppings (suggestions):

chopped olives
grated cheese
chopped tomatoes
diced avocado or guacamole
sliced jalapenos
sour cream
shredded lettuce
hot sauce
nacho cheese sauce
sauteed onions and peppers

Hyped Up Infant Formula: Marketing Vs. Nature

"A recent study concluded that children who consumed infant formula fortified with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA had higher cognitive function than children who consumed unfortified formula. Breastmilk was not included in the study, and the formula used in the study was provided for free by a manufacturer.

Miriam Labbok of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill said she was doubtful about the study's findings.

"It might be reasonable from these industry-funded studies to consider that this would be a good additive to formula if you are forced to stop breastfeeding," she said. "However, 1) none of these studies compare to continued breastfeeding, 2) you could also get these [nutrients] from other sources if you stop breastfeeding, and 3) there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other components in human milk that cannot be replaced."
(Taken from article Infant Formula Study Just a Marketing Gimmick to Push Formula Over Breastfeeding 02/03/2010)

Have you ever noticed how even though everyone knows that "breast is best" infant formula ads continue to push their product as a 'healthy' and 'effective' alternative to breastmilk? We don't see any breastfeeding advertisements and can you guess why? Because breastfeeding doesn't make any money for greedy corporate businesses! It still astounds me that people buy into the marketing schemes of formula companies that push their "DHA added" and "iron-fortified" fake powederd crap to consumers. It's not surprising that they forget to mention that the DHA and iron added to these formulas is not effectively assimilated into an infants body. All they have to do is label their product as containing these fashionable terms that symbolise health and nutrition and they have their target market wrapped up in the B.S. they're spouting. I'm still not quite sure how consumers can actually believe that the powerdered "food" they are mixing up is at all comparable to human milk. It is as simple as the old adage claims: "human milk for human babies".

Let me get a little more into the biology of this argument. First off, no other animal in the world besides humans drinks another species' milk. Not only that, but cow's milk is specifically designed to raise calves. Is your child a calf? Does your child need to grow fat and strong and walk soon after birth? No. Human's have evolved mainly as a superior intellectual species. Do you think that cows can claim this same advancement? No. Cows are built to grow big, hence the large amount of protein found in cow's milk. Human milk contains a large amount of fat, which is what the human brain is made of. See the pattern here? It's quite obvious once you begin to think of it from a natural point of view.

Now don't get me wrong, formula has it's place. For example, formula was developed as a medicinal aid to save infants whose mother had died in child birth or afterwards. Formula has saved lives in this manner. But, the problem lies when parents begin to believe that formula is an acceptable stand-in for human breast milk! Studies have shown that approximately 1% of women have a biological impediment that prevents breastfeeding. I know that many more women that that are both alive and do not fall into that 1%. The question is why are they not breastfeeding? Well, I have even heard parents claim that formula was "just the same as breastmilk"! I actually cried that day, I couldn't believe the distance that some people's belief systems had fallen from nature and into the corporate marketing scheme of these formula companies. I do understand that there are sometimes financial or other reasons that women do not breastfeed, but I also believe that the decision not to nurse is made much too lightly these days without really understanding the consequences.
I really hope that women will wake up and recognize that replacing nature has so many consequences,  both recognized and unrecognized. The more that we study infant development and nutrtion, the more clearly our fall from nature has been criticized. These formula companies will pull rabbits out of hats to maintain their customer base. Please, don't fall into the trap!

For more information on the far reaching benefits of breastfeeding please go to,, or

Cleaning out the Closet

So, I went three days without eating. I know that's not a big deal to many people who routinely fast or cleanse, but I'm a huge foodie and I usually eat small meals or snacks like every 2-3 hours. So, I thought I would be dead starving for three days, but the humongus amounts of liquid I had to drink for the cleanse definitely kept my stomach full enough! I have to say, I feel great. I felt headachy and sick for the last couple of days, but I'm sure that had something to do with the lack of caffiene. An avid coffee drinker like myself is bound to feel at least a little withdrawl! This was a great start for me because I wanted to stop drinking coffee anyhow as I am trying to concieve bean #3.

Regular detox cleansing is important because although humans may have been "made to eat meat and dairy" (I hear this statement ALOT), we were not supposed to eat it in such large quantities. Especially when it is packed full of growth hormones, antibiotics, and pectides and was fed corn in a factory farm. Nor were were designed to eat processed foods and inorganic sugars and starches. As well, many of the chemicals we come into contact with in our environment come from the air around us or are slathered on our bodies such as off gassing from various plastics, cleaning supplies, and toiletries/beauty products. Cleansing gives our bodies a chance to eliminate some of these toxins and to rebuild an strengthen tissues that have been damaged. It also helps to get rid of built-up waste in our colons which, according to Dr. Christopher and the School of Natural Healing, causes 90% or more of all diseases.

So, now my two children are on a detox cleanse as well. This one is a little different (and much more expensive). I couldn't bare to put them on a juice fast so I bought an herbal detox that allows raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. All dairy, chocolate, candy is to be completely eliminated and grains are to be avoided if possible. How do you get a 6 year old and 1 year old to eat only fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts you ask? Well I was prepared for a battle but I explained to Kaden how this cleanse was going to make him feel better and help to rid his body of toxins. It will also help with any medical issues he's having such as enuresis, which was a big motivator for him. Seeing as how the cleanse will also help Mikhail's asthma, he was on board. It also fit in with our current unit on Healthy Living (immune system, vitamins & minerals, foods, vegetarian food pyramid, etc.) that we've been studying. Now this is a kid who cooks himself eggs and toast every.single.morning. He also loves cheese and eggs, things which I've been wanting to cut back and maybe eliminate. Surprisingly, Kaden has been excellent with the strict diet. He has been happily eating raw carrots, salads, smoothies, nut bars with peanut butter, freshly made juices, and low heated veggie soups every day! The cleanse I purchased is specifically made for children and can be used from the very young to teenage years. It consists of 4 seperate herbal formulas: Lungs and Respiratory; Lungs, Gallbladder, and Spleen; Kidney, Bladder, and Adrenals; and Colon and Digestive. More information about this cleanse can be found on

After doing some research in both published medical journals and information from natural health practitioners, I discovered (quite accidentally) that milk can actually cause or exacerbate asthma and enuresis. I was surprised! Apparently with enuresis, doctors frequently suggest eliminating milk products to see if it helps. Same goes for asthma as approximately 50% of people have some degree of milk intolerance or allegy. I'm not just talking about lactose intolerance, I'm referring to the protein casien in milk which causes many problems with children who are sensitive to it including acid reflux, asthma, intestinal problems, acne, enuresis, adhd, etc.  In fact, many families who have tried eliminating milk from their children's diet have noticed a vast improvement with their child's symptoms, whatever they might be. I am now considering continuing with the no-dairy diet after the cleanse is complete to see if any symptoms improve.

What I can say is that we are now half way through the cleanse and Kaden's behaviour has been amazing. He is already a great kid, but he seems much more compliant now. I mean, he's eating salads with homemade vinegar/oil dressing everyday with no complaint! In fact he smacks his lips! Amazing!

Next I would love to try one of the many cleanses that Dherbs offers. I am ready to step it up and complete a longer (21 day or so) cleanse. Of course, on one that long, I will be able to that's sounds great to me!

For more information on detox and for the Children's Cleanse I mentioned, plus many others from Fertility Cleanse, to Green Cell Cleanse, please visit

Sprouting With Kids

Happy New Year everyone! This post will provide you with a fun new project to jumpstart your healthy New Year resolutions :-)

A fun idea to try with your kids that I have been attempting with Kaden, is to grow SPROUTS. This is a great activity for Spring, although sprouts can be grown any time of year. Kids will love watching the little sprouts start to grow and then be able to eat them. This also may encourage fussy eaters to try a very nutritious treat.

Sprouts are a very nutrient dense food which provides an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and protiens. Since they are a living food (such as breastmilk, yogurt, etc.), they continue to gain more nutritient qualities even after they are harvested. This does not occur with food that 'die' after they are picked such as fruits and vegetables.  This 'living' factor also contributes to a more easily digestable food source. That is why breastmilk is easy for babies to digest and yogurt is often touted as a food that is excellent for digestion (we'va all seen the TV ads for that 'active' yogurt!).  Sprouting at home is an easy and frugal way to produce an excellent nutritional food source.

You can sprout many many things from nuts to beans (dried), just make sure that they are not too old or they wont sprout. This can be done inside using very simple materials and only requires you to rinse twice a day. Also, since kids can be impatient, sprouting is great for them because you will yield results in a couple of days and the sprouts should be ready in 3-4 days or longer, depending on the kind of sprouts.

The steps for sprouting can be found at these websites:

There are many ways you can use your sprouts in recipes. However, I realize that sprouts may not entice your children since they have a funny texture and acquired taste, but maybe, just maybe, they will try them if they helped grow them. Even if they don't eat them, this project can help teach children about plant growth and beginning to garden, as well as the responsibility of remembering to water them.
Try these links for recipes using sprouts once you have your harvest:

Sprout People
Canadian Living Sprout Recipes

Good Luck Sprouting!

The previous post has been adapted from "Sprouting with Kids" written by me in 2008 on my old blog "Generation Global" on