Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sauage and Rice in a slow cooker

I LOVE my slow cookers. I have 2 of them in fact. Today, I’m going to share a very easy, and YUMMY meal idea using a slow cooker (and it is gluten free if you use the right ingredients). The only bad thing about this recipe is that it is not an all-day recipe, so it’s not good for starting when you leave for work in the morning and not having to think about all day.

First, all you need is your slow cooker, a package (or 2) of fully cooked smoked sausage, a box (or 2) of rice mix (I usually use Jambalaya mix) and some water.

Pour your rice mix into the bottom of your slow cooker.

Cut the smoked sausage into slices. If I have time I like to brown it in just a little canola oil but it isn't mandatory.

Add the sausage to the rice and cover with water. Do not stir! Turn slow cooker onto low for about 4 hours or high for about 2 hours. 

Since the sausage is already fully cooked all you are really doing is cooking the rice. Times may vary depending on your slow cooker. After about 2 hours I usually check the rice to see if it is done. If it is done you can just turn the slow cooker on warm and leave it until you are ready to eat! 

Once you make this once you will know what setting/time combo work best for your slow cooker.

There you have it, a very easy, quick meal with very little work! This is a little spicy if you use the jambalaya mix like I did but you can use any boxed rice mix you want and can adjust the quantities to fit your family.

Another day I will share how I use this basic recipe to make chicken with herbed rice.

What are your go-to quick and easy meals for your family?

Little Books on the Prairie

Today, I am just quickly sharing a link for my friend Sarah's blog, Little Books on the Prairie. Sarah is wife to a small town librarian and Mama to 4 gorgeous little ones. You can visit her at where she reviews books she reads to her little ones. I hope it gives you some ideas for books for your littles!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Little Bee Co. Bee Changed Diaper Review and Giveaway

Today I am reviewing The Little Bee Co. Be Changed Bamboo diaper. 

I came across this diaper in my search for a nighttime solution for R.  He was doing very well not leaking at night in his cloth diapers until he started sleeping on his belly with his butt up in the air.  He is a VERY heavy wetter and that combined with gravity and his chosen sleeping position was resulting in wet jammies and sleep sack EVERY morning, right on his tummy.  So I started searching for a diaper that was big enough to stuff (a lot) and that had tummy elastic to hold the diaper snuggly against his belly.  I found several brands and bought 1 or 2 of each to try out. 

I must say I LOVE this diaper.  It is bamboo lined, which means it absorbs very quickly, with elastic in front, back AND on the pocket opening!  I really like that the pocket opening elastic means I don’t have to worry about a slack pocket opening slipping out the top of the diaper like many brands do.  I also love that it has 2 rows of snaps, which means I can adjust the leg opening and waist size somewhat independently.  The craftsmanship is great!   It comes with a large insert and a smaller booster insert. I got the standard microfiber inserts but you can get hemp/organic cotton inserts as well. 

Being the cautious person I am I decided to try the diaper out for daytime first, with just the large insert.  I must say, it worked GREAT, even through a nap!  No leaks and the fit was great (I tend to just unsnap one-size diapers these days.  I like the higher rise).  I have tried this diaper multiple times at night now, with both inserts, and we have had about 80% success, which is as good as the only other diaper we now use at night and way better than ANY others we have tried.  This is with a baby who also leaks out of overnight disposables.   

Not only does Little Bee Co. make a great diaper but they also have a great mission.  For every diaper purchased they donate a diaper to an orphan in need.  I have come to look forward to their updates about their “diaper drops” on their Facebook page.  I find this diaper to be VERY worth purchasing.  Little Bee Co. also makes a newborn diaper, the Bitty Bee Changed Bamboo (I plan to add it to my list of must-try newbie dipes for my next baby) as well as their one sized pocket in Microsuede for those who need that “stay-dry” aspect. 

How can you get your own Little Bee Co. diaper?  Well, you can buy one from their website, or you can use the rafflecopter below to win one!

Please let me know if anything goes wrong with the rafflecopter widget, I'm still not a pro at this blogging/giveaway thing
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy National Beef Month!!!

Holy Moly…Where has the month of May gone?!  We have been BUSY and I have not had much time to blog but I NEED to get in some posts about National Beef Month.  I thought to start out I would pass on some information about Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), recently dubbed by some celebrities and media outlets as “pink slime”.

LFTB is a nutritious, safe product that is included in beef products for multiple reasons:

1) Because it is SAFE.  One of the biggest misconceptions about LFTB is that it is produced by dumping liquid ammonia into meat.  That is simply false.  LFTB is hit with a puff of ammonium hydroxide to reduce/prevent bacteria growth.  The ammonium hydroxide causes no change to the meat.  The thing most people don’t know is that ammonium hydroxide is a compound found naturally in ALL proteins we eat, animal and plant based, and is used in the production of baking powder, cheese, chocolate and many other foods.   

2) Because it is nutritious.  In fact, it is a very low fat (~95% lean) source of beneficial proteins.  LFTB is produced by taking small meat pieces that accumulate from large beef cuts being cut into smaller cuts that are more desired by consumers and centrifuging them to separate the lean meat from the fat.  The centrifuging doesn’t affect the composition or safety of the meat but does provide a very low fat product that can then be mixed with other meat. 

3) It is affordable.   Because it is a way of using a product that would otherwise be difficult to sell because of the size of the pieces, LFTB is an affordable addition to meat products. 

Most of the photos that have circulated the internet and many media outlets of a product that looks like pink soft-serve ice cream is in fact, not even LFTB!  Here is a picture of what LFTB actually looks like before it is included in items like ground beef, bratwurst, etc:

The storm of misinformation about LFTB resulted in a direct loss of 650 jobs and removed an affordable, safe product from many store shelves.  I hope this post helps you know more about LFTB and feel confident eating products that include it.  Please contact me if you have any questions!  

Keep an eye out for more Beef Month posts and maybe even a beef related giveaway!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Scarlet's Naturals Winner

And the winner of the Scarlet’s Naturals giveaway is….Julie Baker Lintz!  Julie, watch your email for info on how to claim your prize!  THANK YOU to everyone who entered. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Easy, Fast Dinner!

May is National Beef Month!  While beef often gets a bad rap, it can be a very healthy part of your family's diet.  I will be writing a longer post about the benefits of beef and its nutrition facts with maybe a little myth-busting about beef production practices, but its been a busy week and our community-wide garage sales are today and I'm missing out on deals that will have to wait a day or 2.  Instead, today, I'm going to show you how I make a delicious, very easy meal for my family with a very affordable cut of beef. 

How I make slow cooker beef roast.  First, find a beef roast of good size.  I used 2 small chuck roasts today that probably added up to around 5lbs.  Each year we save back a few calves from our herd and feed them out and have them processed locally so we always have beef in our freezer but if you have to get it from the grocery store/butcher's shop look for something like a chuck roast, round roast, a brisket, etc.  It can be bone-in or boneless.  Try to find one that doesn't have a TON of excess fat but a little bit is ok.  You don't need to trim the fat or anything. 

Place your roast in a slow cooker that easily fits it.  I'm gonna be honest and tell you my roasts were frozen when I put them in because, like I said, yesterday was a busy day, but you really should have them thawed at least partially. 

Cover or very close to cover the roast with water or beef broth, whichever you prefer.

Add minced onion or fresh onion, garlic, salt and pepper or whatever spices/seasonings you prefer. 

Now, here is the hard part!  Put the lid on, turn the slow cooker on high and leave it alone!  You can turn the roast occasionally if you want but its not really necessary.  I usually cook mine 9-10 hours but I've left it in as long as 12 hours before. If it is falling apart and cooked before you are ready to eat just turn the slow cooker down to low.  I'm not sure you can really overcook it.  If you want, about 2 hours before you want to eat you can add large cubed potatoes and/or carrots.  I don't like cooked carrots so I just use potatoes.  When you are ready for dinner just scoop out the meat!  It will be SUPER tender.  You can serve it just as it is, season with additional spices, shred and add BBQ sauce or whatever you want!  I always make enough so there are leftovers and then use the leftover roast for chili, beef and noodles, BBQ beef sandwiches, enchiladas, etc. 

Happy Beef Month!!! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Scarlet's Naturals: Review and Giveaway!

***Please let me know if the rafflecopter widget dosn't work or isn't showing up, ths is my first time using it!***
Before R was born I had quite a few ladies in one of my Facebook cloth diaper groups recommend Scarlet’s Hiney Honey from Scarlet’s Naturals as a great cloth diaper safe rash cream.  I also heard great things about their Honey Bites for making wipes solution.  So I ordered some of each of those and some Honey Wash and Honey Lotion. 

We started using the Honey Bites right away when R arrived and we got him in his cloth diapers to make wipes solution to wet down our cloth wipes.  It is very easy, we just lay our wipes flat in a square “family size” GladWare container, heat up 4 cups of water in the microwave and drop in some Bites.  They dissolve and then we stir it up a little and pour it over the wipes.  Our wipes always smell AWESOME and we never have any trouble with them getting “musty”. 

We started using our Hiney Honey when R started getting rashes from his acid-y poo.  He has reflux pretty bad and his poo was literally burning his bum.  The Hiney Honey is AMAZING!  It smells wonderful, goes on great and clears rashes right up!  And, if you cloth diaper you don’t have to worry about it causing build-up.  I recommend it for my cloth diapering and disposable using friends.  It’s all-natural, wonderful for baby’s skin and made by a work-at-home-mom right her in the USA!

We also have Scarlet’s Honey Wash and Honey Lotion and love those just as much as their other products.  The only thing I would like to see changed is to make the Honey Wash a tad bit thicker, it comes out very quickly and sometimes I feel like I’m wasting some. 

Because I love their other products I’ve tried so much I recently placed an order for Scarlet’s BugBEEGone, Lip Honey and SunBlock.  I just received those in the mail this morning so I will post another review for those later. 

How can you get your own Scarlet’s Naturals products? 

Buy them:  You can order from 


Win them!!! Enter our giveaway and we will send the winner their choice of 1 Scarlet’s Naturals’ product (excluding SunBlock and Gift Set).  If you choose the Honey Bites or Lip Honey will throw in an extra!  Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter!  *Giveaway is open for residents of USA and Canada only*

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Delaying First Foods

*Warning, this is a bit of a rant post, read at your own risk (there isn’t any bad language though).*

When I became pregnant (and honestly, even before that) we began discussing some of the big parenting decisions we would make and I began researching a lot of baby care topics.  I have an MS degree and know how to find reliable, fact based information.  This research has led me to parenting decisions that many support and many don’t.  NONE of these decisions were made lightly, even the ones that seemed obvious. 

One to the decisions we made was to EXCLUSIVELY breastfeed (EBF) R until 6 months of age as long as he was growing well, healthy and meeting all of his milestones.  He is now 4.5 months old and has not had any sort of nourishment except breast milk.  He is growing perfectly (he started at the 50th percentile for weight and height and has stayed within 2 percentage points above or below that).  He has exceeded his 4 month milestones, met around 90% of his 6 month milestones and a few of his 8 month ones.  He is happy and healthy.  He generally wakes once per night unless he has had an off schedule day or is seeming to be teething or like the last couple days, has a little cold.  But despite ALL of this, at least once a week someone tries to feed him something OR acts like I am abusing him when they find out he isn’t on cereal yet.  In fact just today D’s grandma informed me that she despite the information I told her about WHY we were delaying introducing R to foods she thought it was ridiculous and went on to tell me that her started her one child on a mix of Karo syrup, whole milk and water at less than a month old because he “obviously needed more than breast milk, he was waking up every 2 hours to eat!”  She followed this homemade concoction with oatmeal before he was 6 weeks old.  Now, I might take this woman’s criticisms thoughtfully except she is overweight, in poor health, and her children are far from the picture of health.  So below are my reasons (based off of fact supported information, NOT wives’ tales and “that’s how we did it” advice) why he will not be eating anything besides breast milk until AT LEAST 6 months of age as long as he continues to grow, is happy and is developing on or above schedule and why “cereal” and vegetables will not be his first food.  If this choice is not the same as yours, that’s OK!   These are just MY reasons.

*Prior to 4 months of age a baby’s intestinal lining is “open”, meaning that the cells are very widely spaced and they are not selective about what they allow through to be absorbed by the body.  They are designed this way to allow particles from digested breast milk to easily be absorbed and used by the baby’s body.  SOMEWHERE between 4 and 7 months the lining begins to “close” and the cells become closer together and they begin to secrete a protein that “coats” the baby’s intestinal wall and helps the cells “filter” what gets through the intestinal wall and into the baby’s bloodstream.  By 6 to 7 months the baby’s intestinal wall cells are much more capable of filtering than at 4 months.  If non-breast milk foods are introduced too early the body may be more likely to develop allergies because molecules are entering the bloodstream that the body doesn’t think should be there and it develops antibodies against them.

*Each specific type of food requires certain mechanism to digest it and break it down BEFORE it gets to the absorbent intestinal lining.  Babies’ bodies need time to develop these mechanism and most EBF babies do not have them for foods other than breast milk by 4 months. 

*Babies instinctively have a “tongue-thrust” mechanism that helps them avoid things that shouldn’t be in their mouth.  This is usually gone by 6 months of age.  Also babies’ swallowing mechanism transitions from suck-swallow to chew-swallow somewhere between 4 to 6 months. 

*Once foods are introduced the potency of the 50+ known immune factors found in breast milk diminishes.  Babies that are EBF for an extended time have 40% fewer ear infections than their counterparts who are introduced to foods earlier. Babies who are EBF for 6 months or longer also have lower incidences of respiratory illness over their entire lifetime. 

*Infants who are introduced to foods earlier than 6 months have a reduction in their iron absorption efficiency.  Research has found that delaying food until 7 months results in less cases of anemia than earlier introductions of solids. 

*Early introduction of foods has been associated with higher childhood body fat indexes and weights. 

*Early introduction of other foods has a negative effect on the mother’s milk supply and often leads to earlier than expected weaning due to lagging milk supply.

*The American Academy of Pediatrics now advises waiting to introduce other foods to EBF babies until 6 months or later. 

Our first food choices; R will likely have avocados as his first non-breast milk food.  Why? Avocados are high in carbohydrates, good fats, and vitamins and mineral.  They are naturally smooth and creamy.  They are yummy.  They are sodium and cholesterol free.  Avocados will likely be followed by bananas, sweet potatoes and yams.  We will get around to “cereal” eventually. 

Whatever you decide about you child PLEASE base it off of solid information and not go with what other people tell you that you should do!