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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Key Ingredients!

It's important to have a good list of things for your "safe" list when going grocery shopping.  As a rule....I try to make sure that if I can buy organic I do and I also look for the Non-Gmo Project label as well.  I have found a few items that we use and can rely on....and it's good to have that list for yourself as well.  I have found that Central Market items are organic and non-gmo.  The key for us is to maintain a balance and not completely eliminate all snack foods, so some of the foods on this list may not interest some of you...but that's ok. We are all different!  I am just providing a list of things that I keep on hand or in my mind when I go shopping.  The key to a successful shopping trip is to plan ahead of time and know what you are looking for.  It is easier to buy based on your needs if you map out a gameplan first.


I can't say enough about Lärabar!  This is a great product!  Check out the link above to see their information on special diets.  Always make sure to check the individual bars to make sure they meet your needs...but know that this product is always organic and the ingredients are raw....meaning they haven't been cooked.  They are great for a snack or an addition to a small meal!

Kettle Potato Chips- You can check out their "Natural Promise" here:

When we want to snack on a chip (in moderation of course ;) ) and we are tired of corn chips....these potato chips provide a great alternative!  I have also incorporated them into recipes as a substitute for bread crumbs. :)

Earth Balance Products-

We currently use the "butter" but I will be looking into their mayo as well.  We don't use a lot of butter...but it is very handy for recipes!  Earth Balance is non-GMO and dairy free!

Pacific Natural Foods-

Check out the above website for a variety of soups, broths, beverages, etc.  Pacific has a great selection of dairy free, gluten free, kosher, vegan, low sodium and fat free options.  The above link will take you there!  There are a few soups that are dairy and wheat free...and we really enjoy those.  Plus, Pacific is organic! :)

I will be adding to this list as I find more "staple" items. We are still searching for a non-GMO hummus and if you have any gluten free, dairy free and non-GMO suggestions....send them my way!  I welcome your ideas and would love to see what items make your list.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baby Bites!

I have recently been trying to come up with creative ideas for finger foods for my 10 month old daughter as we move away from pureed food. She has picked up finger eating so quickly that I am struggling to keep up with her. I am trying to keep her mostly on fresh fruits and veggies....but I want her to have a variety in her diet so I decided to use the puree that I have been making in the Baby Bullet and combine it with her Organic puffs to create little baby bites!  Thus far I have done different combinations with sweet potatoes, brocolli, grapes, asparagus, carrots, apples and pears. 

First, I like to use Happy Baby Organic Puffs or Plum organics, which I am able to find at our regular grocery store, HEB,  as well as the Natural Grocer that we also use.  These puffs are organic, non-gmo and the plastic used in the container is BPA and PVC free.  Also, of the five varieties of puffs from Happy Baby, two of them are gluten free for anyone avoiding gluten. 

1. Cook whatever veggie you have chosen and puree it into a texture that you are comfortable with. For this example I used carrots and sweet potatoes.  The first few times I did this, I used the full puree, but you can use whatever texture your tiny one is eating. :)

2. Place your puffs in the blender, food processor or baby bullet.  If you have a Baby Bullet, you can use the milling blade to blend it up into a fine powder.

3. Slowly add the puff powder (you can using anything for the powder that you have milled**) to the puree mix until it creates an almost gummy substance. 

4. Make bite size balls and you are done.

**You can mill quinoa, rice, oatmeal, wheatgerm, etc and use in place or in combination with the puff powder.

Let me know if you try this out! I'd love to hear what combinations you tried and how this worked out for you. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Products I Love!

Nutiva cold pressed Coconut Oil is a must have.  I use this in lots of things! From cooking to toothpaste...coconut oil is awesome! I prefer this brand because it is cold pressed, not expeller pressed. Cold pressed oil maintains more of the coconut flavor and I prefer the texture as well. It is also organic, unrefined, unbleached, chemical free, undeodorized, unhydrogenated, contains no solvents and guaranteed non-GMO.  I was turned on to coconut oil as a treatment for stretch marks after my pregnancy and I was shocked to find that it completely erased the few stretch marks that popped up after I had my daughter....I was hooked!

Yes To Blueberries face wash.  This face wash is paraben, petroleum and SLS free. It also contains coconut oil.....of which I am obviously a big fan!  For those of us used to using a SLS face wash, body wash and shampoo, we are used to that "foaming" to feel like we're getting clean.  This face wash does not do that because it is SLS free.  SLS is used in most products because it is inexpensive and it dries out the skin and can cause irritation.

The Natures Gate products are great as well and I use the shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste as a backup when I am out of my homemade coconut oil toothpaste. The shampoo, conditioner and body wash are all organic and sulfate free!

I'd love to hear what products you use and I welcome all suggestions. We avoid parabens, sulfates and we try to get organic when we can!  I will probably have many "Products I Love" posts as I find more things to add to our collection!  I am still guilty of using my typical Secret deodorant...mostly out of fear of being smelly or sweaty at work.  If any of you have a suggestion....I would love to hear it and test it out. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Welcome to Zoë's Garden.

It has been a big year for our family. In January we welcomed our daughter into our home, lives and hearts...and with that addition, our whole world has been turned upside the best ways!!!  As a first time mom to a baby, I could be accused of being a little bit neurotic and protective but only with the best intentions.  I started to read EVERYTHING that I could get my hands on about feeding my daughter only the best!  As I had decided to strictly breastfeed, I also realized that if I was going to avoid feeding my daughter certain things, I would need to avoid those foods as well. Now, not only am I avoiding them to keep the "junk" out of my milk....but one day, sooner than I can probably imagine, I will be setting an example for Zoë and I can't very well tell her to eat healthy food as I shovel Cheetos and Hershey bars into my mouth. 

My daughter is my inspiration to be a better person from the inside out.  She has given me the strength to walk past the junk in the grocery store and stop putting that extra chocolate bar in the basket at the last minute before checkout.  She makes me want to take better care of myself, so that I can maximize the amount of time that I have with her.  I hope this blog will help others to inspire them to be more careful about the food that they put into their body....because let's face it...we only get one body, we should take better care of it. 

The purpose of this blog is to share, through trial and certainly our family adapts to a new diet and attempts to eliminate things like high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified organisms, gluten and dairy from our food.  We are trying to eat more fresh food and cut back on the packaged and processed items.  We also strive to use as many organic items as possible. I hope to share recipes, ideas, gardening tips and many more things as we adapt and change our lives to be as healthy as we can!

On that goes my first post and the launch of Zoë's Garden.  I hope you enjoy the journey...and please feel free to give me tons of input!  I welcome new ideas and can't wait to hear from everyone!