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My Homemade Kombucha Recipe

After 7 years of spending way too much money on GT Dave’s Kombucha (which is delicious, but in Hawaii is almost $5 per bottle), I decided to take the plunge and started brewing kombucha myself.  Kombucha offers an extensive list of health benefits including but not limited to hormone balance, cancer prevention, detoxification support, and even improvements to bone and tooth quality.  I personally drank it through both pregnancies to prevent nausea (which I never had, thank goodness!) and when not pregnant would drink it for the week prior to my period to prevent migraines and PMS during that time.  At $5 a bottle that really adds up!  To be brutally honest, I was resistant to brewing my own kombucha because in my mind the next step after entering the world of home fermentation is Birkenstocks and hairy armpits (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things!) but I realized I was being ridiculous and my resistance was costing me money that could instead be spent on practical, important items like stilettos and waxing (okay, now I’m really being ridiculous but I’m too hopped up on coffee and homemade kombucha today to have a filter and I’m perceiving myself as funnier than I actually am).  But back to the point – making kombucha at home was shockingly easy to do and my very first batch (pictured above) turned out well so I wanted to share the recipe with all of you who may also be skeptical of home brewing.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Find a SCOBY (the starter – stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast).  I recommend checking on for someone in your area (just type in “SCOBY” or “Kombucha”) or contacting your local Weston Price chapter leader.  If you can’t get a SCOBY from either of these places, you can get them on Amazon, but this tends to be the most expensive option.  I found someone through Craigslist here on the North Shore of Oahu (relatively far from me) who referred me to their friend in Waimanalo (close to me) who was nice enough to meet up and gave me a free SCOBY.  Here’s what they look like:  While it may seem a little disturbing to meet up with a total stranger and leave with a ziplock baggie full of something that looks like an alien organ suspended in a solution of brown liquid, it is totally worth it.
  2. Get a half gallon glass jar (or gallon, or any size glass container really, but my recipe is for a half gallon because that’s the biggest jar I have), fill it with purified water, and then dump that water into a pot and bring it to a boil.  Stir in approximately 3/4 cup sugar, but don’t dump it in all at once or it might boil over.  White sugar is actually the best (and cheapest) but you can use any type of sugar you have on hand – white sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar, I’ve even heard of people using molasses.  The sugar is just to feed the fermentation so the bacteria and yeast should eat most (if not all) of it anyway. Just don’t use honey since it has antibacterial properties.
  3. Remove solution from heat and add 2 black tea bags (any type of black tea, I used plain old Lipton’s because I had it in the cabinet but since then have started using organic black tea from Vitacost).  Steep for 10 minutes to brew a strong tea.  (You can also use an equivalent amount of loose tea, you just have to strain it and that’s 5 seconds I’d rather spend doing something else.)
  4. Cool to room temp.  If you’re in a hurry you can throw in a few ice cubes and put it in the fridge to cool faster, just make sure you stir well to avoid any “hot spots” that might kill the bacteria in the SCOBY.
  5. Once the solution is cool enough, add your SCOBY along with 1-2 cups of kombucha from a prior brew (use storebought kombucha if you didn’t get liquid with your first SCOBY, or if storebought isn’t available add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to make the tea acidic enough for fermentation) and cover loosely with a cheesecloth or other breathe-able cloth (I used a thin dishcloth, but Gerber diaper cloths work well also) and secure with a rubber band.  Place this in an area where the temp is around or slightly warmer than room temp (between 74 and 84 degrees F) and leave it alone.  Here’s how my first brew looked:
  6. Depending on how sour or bubbly you like your kombucha, you can let it brew for a minimum of 3 days up to a month.  My first brew I fermented for 5 days (it was sour and tasty, but not too bubbly), my second brew I fermented for 2 weeks (more sour and tasty, and more bubbly) and my third brew is in the works now.  You can check the fermentation process by gently dipping a clean spoon into the mix and tasting to check how sour and bubbly it is.  Also, one of the fun things to notice as your kombucha is brewing is that the SCOBY “mother” produces a “daughter” which starts out as a thin, clear film on the top and eventually turns into a perfect little disc the exact shape of the top of your brewing container.  Mine looked like this:
  7. Once the kombucha has fermented to your liking, you can pour off what you want to drink and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy it!  Be sure to reserve at least 1-2 cups of your brew as the starter for the next batch, which you can store at room temp if you’re going to use it in the next few days or in the fridge if it’s going to be a while before your next batch.  You can drink the kombucha straight, or add juice or fruit for flavoring.  It is sweet on its own so doesn’t require additional sweetener but I find that it mellows nicely when you add something tart for balance, such as lemon juice or frozen berries (but I personally don’t recommend adding these to the fermentation unless you really know what you’re doing – I would wait until your brew is complete to add them to the final product).

Obviously, after 3 batches at home I don’t consider myself a kombucha expert but I did want to share this info with you to let you know that you don’t have to be an expert to make your own! For more practical tips, I recommend visiting the SustainabiliTEA site on kombucha.  I did not read the entire site (yet), but what I did read was very helpful and concise and explains some important issues such as how to avoid and detect mold.

TURD IN THE PUNCHBOWL ALERT: For the sake of full disclosure, I must confess that the frozen berry mix used in the beautiful picture of the finished kombucha at the beginning of this blog is the very same organic antioxidant mix that was recently recalled from Costco for containing pomegranate seeds from Turkey that were giving people Hepatitis A!!!  Luckily I only used it once to flavor that particular glass of kombucha.  I didn’t like the flavor (maybe my body could innately taste the Hepatitis A – but more realistically it’s because I didn’t like the flavor of the variety of cherries used in the mix) so it stayed in my freezer untouched until it ended up on the news.  Now it’s still in my freezer until I can take it back to Costco and exchange it for something with a little less communicable disease.  I don’t have any hepatitis symptoms and thankfully my kids and husband didn’t have any of the berry mix, but just to be safe I’m taking milk thistle herb (for liver support) and eating lots of coconut oil (for its anti-viral activity).  In the future I will try to stick to flavoring my kombucha with fresh fruit that I have washed myself.

June 5, 2013   9 Comments

7 Tips for Natural Childbirth

Well, I went and had a baby!  He came a few weeks ahead of schedule so it was a major surprise but we are both doing great.  I had another fast labor with no medications and a few friends have asked for advice on how to do the same so I thought I would share a some ideas that may be useful to other expecting moms out there.  Even if you plan to use medication during birth, hopefully these tips can help you get through the beginning part of labor with the best possible outcome!

1. Have a small baby.  This is the part where I disclose the fact that both of my kids were under 6 pounds and both were born prior to their due dates.  I share this because I want you to know up front that I am not a rock star mom with a high pain tolerance – I think if I were one of these women on the news having 14 pound babies the title of this blog would probably be “How to Schedule a C-Section”.  However, if you do all that you can during your pregnancy to  make sure that your baby is a size that is appropriate for you it can make labor easier.  The most important key here is to keep your blood sugar under control so that your baby doesn’t get bigger than they should be.  You can do this by avoiding sugar; eating a nourishing, traditional diet that is rich in healthy fat, protein, and vegetables; getting regular exercise; and keeping stress levels under control as much as possible.

2. Immerse yourself in positive birth stories.  Part of this is also to not let yourself watch reality tv shows about birth that just show women stuck in hospital beds, unable to move freely, experiencing difficult births that end up with all kinds of interventions!  I highly suggest reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, the first half of which is all positive birth stories (the second half is full of really helpful medical info).  Or if you have friends or relatives that had a positive birth, ask them to tell you about it in detail.  That way when you are in the throes of labor you can have in your mind positive and reinforcing images rather than the fearful and dramatic images that are projected on television.

3. Put the pain in familiar context.  This may not work for everyone but it really works for me.  I think part of what makes labor so scary is that women are inundated with statements like “it’s the worst pain you’ll ever feel.”  For me, prior to birth, the worst pain I thought I ever felt was my first bikini wax!  But to most women a bikini wax isn’t bad at all, so it’s really all relative.  Open ended statements like “the worst pain you’ll ever feel” leave a lot up to the imagination when you’re going through a new experience.  What worked better for me, rather than imagining that the pain was going to just get worse and unimaginably bad, was to take each contraction and realize that it really just felt like a bad stomach flu or really intense gas.  So the pain wasn’t a huge mystery to me, it was something I had felt before in the form of stomach pain and it was something I had already survived in my life.  Other women describe labor as feeling like bad menstrual cramps, while others say it feels like intense lower back pain.  And, not to be crude, but to me the pushing phase feels like you’re pooping a tiny bowling ball with a small wooden log attached…maybe not a familiar feeling but at least something you can imagine!

4. Make water your friend.  Hang out in the shower or bathtub (whatever is comfortable for you) and if you are not feeling nauseous, be sure to drink plenty of water between contractions.  Hydrated muscle is able to operate much more efficiently to get that baby out.  For my first child I spent about 4 hours in the shower at home (thank the good Lord for a large hot water tank!) letting the warm water run over my stomach and back which greatly eased the pain of contractions.  For my second baby labor happened very quickly and we had just enough time for me to get into the whirlpool tub at the hospital for a short time before I got to the pushing phase.  When we arrived at the hospital I was already 6 cm dilated and having very intense contractions every 2-3 minutes.  As soon as I immersed my belly in the warm water, it took all the pressure off and I actually had to send my husband into the other room to check the monitor (they put one of those waterproof mobile monitors on me) to see if I was still having contractions because being in the water took all the pain away!  Sure enough I was having regular contractions of the same intensity as before even though I could hardly feel them and within about 15 minutes I was ready to push.

5. Keep moving.  As mentioned above, the way birth is pictured on television is that a woman just lays there, yells a lot, and a baby is born.  Having been through two unmedicated births in 3 years (yes as I was pushing out the most recent baby I vividly recall thinking “how am I already back at this place in such a short time???) I can think of nothing more ridiculous or more painful than the thought that we are supposed to just lay there and magically push another human out of our bodies.  If I had been prepared, I would have had someone video me during labor so that every time The Learning Channel puts on another birth special showing a woman lying in a hospital bed I could hack into it and instead broadcast myself in labor with my first son pushing against the wall as a contraction started coming and then when the contraction was in full force running naked through our tiny studio apartment yelling “It hurts it hurts it hurts!” at 4 in the morning while my husband sits on the bed timing contractions and staring at me with wide eyes.  Somehow running and yelling helped to discharge the pain and let it move through me.  With this most recent labor, what felt right during intense contractions was to grip the bathroom countertop with my hands, stand up on my tip-toes, and quickly sway my hips back and forth like an overcaffeinated hula dancer.  I do think that this movement helped the baby get into position faster and was part of what cut my labor from 8 hours with my first boy to 3 1/2 hours with the second.  I think that this point is one of the most important even if you plan on eventually having an epidural because if you can stay in tune with your body and what feels right as far as movement you will help your baby get into the best position before the medication is administered.  As a side note, when you are driving to the hospital or birth center and obviously can’t move around then singing can be really helpful.  Keeping your neck and mouth muscles relaxed with singing or humming or deep breathing actually helps to keep your pelvic muscles relaxed and open.

6. Choose your own position.  Birth is an adventure and you should be allowed to choose what feels right to you.  Be sure to discuss this in detail with your healthcare provider so that you know that when you give birth you will be allowed to do what feels right to you.  The midwife I have been visiting with was very lenient and would basically let you give birth while swinging from the chandelier as long as it posed no harm to you or the baby.  However, when I actually went in to the hospital the doctor that was on call was one who preferred to assist birth with the woman on her back.  For my first son I gave birth in this standard position (slightly sitting up, leaning back, both legs pushed back) and I recall feeling like I needed to be on all fours but I just didn’t feel free to move because everything was happening so fast (he was almost born in the car because his stubborn mother waited until contractions were less than 2 minutes apart to go to the hospital) and I was overwhelmed.  It took me half an hour to push him out in this position (I’m not complaining!), I ended up with a second degree tear, and something was not right in the way I was pushing so I went through 6 months of pain that only resolved with pelvic physical therapy.  Yes, such a thing as pelvic physical therapy exists – it’s like a tiny gym for your nether-regions – and I highly recommend it for any woman who has lasting pain after childbirth.  With my most recent birth, after I got out of the tub I was brought to the hospital bed (no water births allowed in hospitals here in Hawaii yet) and I told the nurse I wanted to be on all fours with one leg on the ground to push into the ground.  She said I had to be completely on the bed and that I could be on all fours but when the doctor came in I would have to turn over.  Of course in my head I was thinking that if the doctor also had a bowling ball with a log attached coming out of her body then she could decide how I would be but since she did not then she would have to figure out how to physically make me turn over.  Plus a few swear words.  So, I hunkered down on all fours, face in the pillow, bare butt still swaying quickly in the air and just kept thinking over and over “animals do this every day without dying and without pain medication”.  I vividly remember one push…two pushes…the nurse next to me telling me to breathe and try not to push because the doctor was not at the hospital yet…three pushes…another nurse saying “she’s not going to wait, get the ER doctor”…four pushes…and then I looked down at the bed and there below me was this perfect little boy and the nurse was saying “turn over Jessica and hold your baby!”.  I was completely in shock that he came out so fast!  I know your second one is supposed to come faster but I honestly think that the position I was in was right for my body and how he was positioned in me and that is why he was so incredibly fast and easy to deliver and why I felt completely fine and had no pain after the birth (though this was partly due to the endorphin rush that goes along with childbirth) to the point that I didn’t even need Motrin.  Some women find that standing, kneeling, squatting, laying on their side, or another position is best for them to help their baby make his or her entrance into the world.

7. Stay flexible.  And I don’t mean physically, though that is important for helping with all the movement and positioning items mentioned above!  I mean stay flexible mentally and spiritually in your expectations – there is no other time that is such a life and death moment as the process of giving birth.  While I generally tend to be anti-medicine simply because I respect the intelligence of the body more than the intelligence of the medical realm, there is a time and a place for modern medicine.  If you went into birth hoping for a natural birth and ended up with every intervention known to man but at the end of it all you took home a baby then in my opinion it was successful and you should be proud of yourself!  Childbirth can be both exhilarating and traumatic and then add to that the huge hormone fluctuations and the lack of sleep associated with having a newborn and all I can say is…wow.  If your birth didn’t go exactly as you planned, talk about it with someone who loves you, cry about it, let all of the emotion out and let yourself move on.  And if your birth did go exactly as you planned, please do talk about it and help those around you reprogram their thoughts and expectations about childbirth!

If you have labor tips of your own please share them in the comments section – I would love to learn what helped you!

March 21, 2012   1 Comment

Starting the Year with Thankfulness

As the new year approaches, many people start focusing on what is to come and putting together their lists of resolutions and other things they want to do differently in the coming year.  I personally like to take a moment at the end of the year and make a list of things that made me feel thankful over the past year.  I find it to be a calming and encouraging ritual during the craziness of the end-of-year holiday season.  While there are many things I’m thankful for personally, this is not my personal musing blog – it’s my nutrition blog!  So I thought I’d make a list of a few things in the world of health and nutrition that made me feel thankful this year.  Hopefully they make you feel the same!

I am thankful:

  • That the human body is much smarter than we realize and it is always looking out for our best interest.  One example of this over the past year was learning that candida (the type of yeast that grows in the body) eats heavy metals.  So, for people who have stubborn candida problems that won’t respond to anything else, sometimes the body is allowing the candida to grow in excess because that is helping to relieve their body’s burden of heavy metals such as mercury (and in some cases, copper).  People in this situation may benefit from having a mineral profile test done by their doctor to see if they have an excess of toxic metals and/or a deficiency of healthy minerals and how to deal with it.  This knowledge helped me give hope to a few clients who were struggling with candida and angry at their bodies for letting it overgrow!
  • That a fetus feeds off of the yolk sac for the first few weeks of life, which means it gets the nutrition it needs (as long as mom was building up her own nutrition prior to pregnancy) and is not as directly affected by what its mother eats the way it is later in pregnancy.  This is such an amazing adaptation that I am so very thankful for because in those first few weeks of life a woman may not know she is pregnant and may decide to go on an exciting party date with her husband while on vacation in California because their toddler is with grandma for the evening, and maybe the restaurant they ate at had a $5 martini special and maybe she had too many lemon drop martinis and then found out a few weeks later that she was not alone in her body!  Not that this ever happened to me personally in the last 6 months…
  • That plastics are being recognized as a significant source of health problems for men, women, and children – especially those containing Bis-phenol A and phthalates.  Maybe this seems like something to be sad about, but I am actually thankful that the knowledge is getting out there and more and more people are making changes to avoid plastic exposure.
  • That the FDA recently conceded that raw milk can be transported across state lines for personal consumption.  This doesn’t mean raw milk is becoming legal for sale, but it is quite encouraging to finally have the FDA not persecuting people for ridiculous things such as drinking milk from their own healthy cow.  Yes, there are many other things I am not happy with the FDA for approving (Splenda, aspartame, pesticides, the list goes on) but this is one small victory.
  • That the CDC is working with hospitals and taking steps to encourage women to breastfeed their babies at least through the first 6 months of life.  This is still much less than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 2  years or more, but it’s an encouraging step!

There are many other things I could list, but these are the first that come to mind.  When you have a minute, I encourage you to make your own list of things over the past year that you are thankful for and tuck it away somewhere – it’s always fun to come across lists like that later on and read them again.  It’s also a great exercise that acts kind of like a mental “feng shui” treatment – clearing out the clutter of stress and worry and helping your mind focus on the things that make you happy.  I have found that being thankful for what I have helps to bring more things into my life to be thankful for.  Happy new year!

December 30, 2011   1 Comment

Postpartum Hair Loss: “When did my stylist give me bangs?”

The other day I was talking to a friend when suddenly, just like Jennifer Lopez, a luxurious lock of hair that was fabulously cut to cheek length fell across my face.  And of course, I – again like J. Lo – swept it away deftly and gracefully and kept talking.  And then I realized that I don’t have bangs and haven’t had them since I was about 6 years old.  This realization prompted me to flash back to the months right after Mr. Muscles was born a little less than 2 years ago when I would look in the mirror and see little sproutlets of hair standing straight up all around my hairline like the awkard feathers of a silkie chicken.  My luxurious movie star bangs are just the remnants of the hair shed during the postpartum days, those magical days when your body hurts, you feel like a milk cow, you’re exhausted, and you still look pregnant enough for people at the grocery store to ask how far along you are even when you’re holding your newborn.  And oh yeah, your hair falls out.  Any man reading this post – single or married – should make a mental note at this time to be absolutely certain to tell ANY woman in their life who just had a baby how beautiful and wonderful they look, while also remembering to never ask them why their hair looks like that and never ever offering to buy them hair gel as a gift to keep their weird hair spikes down as my wonderful, loving husband did (he is in fact wonderful and loving and luckily he made this comment when our son was about 6 months old and I was far enough past the post-partum months to think it was funny).

But enough about that!  Let’s talk about why postpartum hair loss happens and how to keep it as under control as possible:

  • In a non-pregnant woman, about 90% of hair is in a growing phase and 10% is in a resting stage.  The resting stage hair is what tends to fall out with brushing and every day activity.
  • During pregnancy, estrogen levels get very high.  Estrogen is the hormone that (among other things) encourages cell growth, so it makes sense that high estrogen levels would encourage more hair to stay in the growing phase and discourage hair from falling out.
  • After baby is born and breastfeeding begins, estrogen and progesterone levels fall as prolactin levels rise.  This abrupt change in hormones is what makes some women susceptible to postpartum depression and it is what is responsible for the bulk of hair loss after pregnancy.  It’s not so much that MORE hair is falling out, it’s that all the hair that was delayed from falling out when estrogen and progesterone levels were high starts to wake up and realize it’s time to fall out.  And most unkindly of all, they decide to all fall out together in those months after baby is born.
  • Other factors contributing to postpartum hair loss include stress (but new moms are never stressed so ignore that one), low iron levels (check with your midwife or doctor to see if you need to take iron after the birth), insufficient protein intake, insufficient vitamin and mineral intake, and hair being pulled too tightly by hair clips and/or baby.
  • To help keep hormones in balance during the fantastic transition after birth, I highly recommend drinking red raspberry leaf tea up to and after the birth.  I actually kept drinking it all through the nursing phase and now that I’m pregnant again it’s another regular part of my tea rotation.  At the rate I’m going, I will probably be drinking red raspberry leaf tea for the next ten years and beyond!
  • Nutritionally, it’s also really important to take iron if your healthcare provider recommends it.  This would usually be the case if you were anemic during pregnancy or you had a lot of bleeding during or after the birth.  You can also include iron-rich foods such as grassfed beef and blackstrap molasses in your diet.
  • Since low protein levels contribute to hair loss in everyone (not just pregnant women), it’s important to make sure that new moms get adequate protein in the postpartum months.  Since it’s not always easy to sit down and eat 3 square meals a day with a newborn, I encourage moms to keep protein-rich and easy-to-eat snacks handy, such as nitrate-free cold cuts, yogurt or cheese from grassfed cows, hummus or other bean dips (if your baby is ok with beans), nut butters, deviled or hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, and protein bars made with whey or rice rather than soy.  If you have friends or family nearby that can help with cooking, enlist their help in keeping your fridge stocked with protein-rich meals and snacks.  In addition to preventing hair loss, eating protein in the postpartum months helps to prevent postpartum depression and accelerates the rate at which you’ll be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans!
  • I also usually recommend that nursing mothers take a double dose of their prenatal vitamin for the months following birth, since it’s such a time of transition.  Depending on the vitamin you’re taking, you may want to double check this with your healthcare practitioner.
  • Another thing that is obvious to some people but not to others (like myself) is that you want to avoid pulling on your hair in the same spot.  When Mr. Muscles was born, I had my hair back in a bun or pony tail most of the time pulled straight back from my face which is probably why most of my postpartum hair loss happened around my forehead hair line.  Most women lose hair from the front and sides of their hair rather than the back, so this is normal, but looking back I could have varied the natural part of my hair and tried braiding it into pigtails once in a while to reduce the weight of my hair always pulling on the same spot.
  • If you feel your hair loss is extreme and you see visible bald spots after having a baby, be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife about it.  They can run tests to see if your thyroid needs support or if there is another underlying imbalance that needs to be addressed.

Above all, if you’re experiencing postpartum hair loss, try to remember that it’s a normal thing that will eventually stop.  And in a couple of years you may be lucky enough to have surprise movie star bangs without having to pay your stylist!

November 7, 2011   5 Comments

Natural Tips for Jet Lag

Last weekend I had the privilege of flying to Iowa to speak at the Iowa City Yoga Festival, which was quite a fabulous occasion.  It was my very first overnight trip away from Mr. Milk (boo-hoo) so I made it as short as possible by arriving Friday afternoon and leaving at 6 AM on Monday.  Quite a fast trip to get used to a 5 hour time change!  In addition to this, I happened to be finishing my first trimester of incubation for baby #2 (that is a whole separate story, but I blame my husband’s Hawaiian ancestry which is biochemically driven to procreate despite all barrier methods of birth control used).  Thankfully I have not had any pregnancy symptoms – which is partially why I felt like one of those ladies from the “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” show when the ultrasound showed a fully formed little creature doing the Team America “It’s Me” dance (warning – bad word at the 11th second!) and we had just figured out I was pregnant a couple weeks earlier.  But I digress.

The point of this blog is to share with you the fact that despite traveling over 5 time zones and lecturing 4 hours a day within the first day of landing AND being pregnant I did not experience any jet lag!  Many people take melatonin to help them adjust their sleep-wake cycles while traveling but that was not an option for me since due to the pregnancy (melatonin works with pituitary gland hormones).  It actually surprised me how quickly I adjusted to the time difference, so I wanted to share with you what I did.

  1. I made myself stay awake until a normal bed time on my arrival day.  Truthfully this wasn’t hard to do, since 10:00 in Iowa is 5:00 in Hawaii but I had flown all night on the red eye so was a little tired.  The way I got around this was to stay busy.  I ran a few errands, had a late lunch with my two little nieces who are really hilarious and were giving (loud) social commentary regarding other people at the restaurant (they are 4 and 8 years old), went to a meeting with the other speakers, swam in the hotel pool with my nieces for a long enough time that the chlorine burned my eyeballs (not necessarily recommended), and then ordered in Thai food.  Basically, do anything you can to stay happily awake, which means avoiding hanging out in your hotel bed watching TV at all costs!
  2. I drank a ridiculous amount of water.  One of my errands mentioned above was to buy 2 gallons of water at the local store, enough for me to drink a full gallon for each day of lecturing.  I didn’t quite make that amount, and drank closer to 3/4 of a gallon each day, but I do think that this made the most significant impact for me in adjusting to the time difference.
  3. I took 1 or 2 warm baths each day.  Maybe this had nothing to do with it, but I feel like it really made a difference because I’ve traveled a lot and tried to drink water and done well but never have I felt this good.  And no, it wasn’t a pregnancy hormone high – I was 14 weeks pregnant with the Little Mister (he’s in the late stages of weaning so I have to stop calling him Mr. Milk – maybe Mr. Muscles can be his new name since he’s a meaty little boy) when I left Iowa to move to Hawaii and I was 14 weeks pregnant when flying back to Iowa (the state requires that of me I guess) and this trip was definitely different as far as fatigue.  So, you can throw this point out if you want but I really think that there’s something to soaking in a tub of warm water that helps you adjust to the magnetic field of the time zone that you’re in.  Either that, or the hydrotherapy of the bath helped me detox and feel great, or the bath was just relaxing and refreshing enough to get rid of any fatigue that would have set in.

So there you have it.  Not exactly rocket science but I find that the simple things seem to make the most difference!  And in this case it sure made a crazy weekend into an enjoyable experience.  Oh, and how did Mr. Muscles do with my absence, you ask?  As you can see from the photo below – taken on Friday while I was still traveling – he really had a miserably hard time with it.

October 14, 2011   1 Comment

Low-Allergy Baby Formula Recipe

This week I received several requests from friends with babies asking for help finding something to supplement their breastmilk supply, which may have decreased since they returned to work or may not be enough to keep up with their babies’ growing needs.  The priority for these mothers and for me is to help them get their supply up by making that they are drinking enough water, eating enough healthy fat, and using herbal teas or tinctures to promote milk supply.  In addition to this, they may want to take their baby in for an osteopathic or chiropractic evaluation to see if any cranial work needs to be done to improve the sucking reflex – I actually had a miraculous experience with this recently that I hope to blog about in the future.  If after these two measures there still is a need for a supplemental source of nutrition, I would recommend the recipe below.  I created this by looking into the chemical composition of human breast milk on the USDA nutrition website.  Interesting reading!  From there, I put together a list of ingredients to mimic the composition of breast milk as closely as possible while using healthy, low allergy, and easily obtainable ingredients.  I also added an infant probiotic to supply healthy bacteria, one of the most important things a nursing child gets from its mother.  The base for the formula is coconut milk, which is very low allergy and supplies brain-boosting fats as well as lauric acid, a fatty acid found in breastmilk that protects against infection, especially from viruses.  This is by no means a recipe that should be a child’s sole source of nutrition, but it makes a great supplement to babies who are breastfeeding or on formula and also to toddlers in place of other milks.  If you are a parent looking for formula recipes that can safely supply everything your baby needs (but that are a little more complicated to make), I suggest visiting the Weston Price Foundation’s formula recipes web page.  Here is the recipe, I would love any feedback from parents out there who try it!  Some of the ingredients in it are practitioner-only supplements so if you have a hard time finding them, feel free to contact me and I can help you find a practitioner in your area or if you are a client of mine I can just have it drop shipped to you.

Low-Allergy Baby Formula Recipe

In a sterile quart-sized Mason glass jar, combine the following:

  • 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk, preferably Native Forest brand (they don’t use BPA in can lining)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp unsweetened, unflavored whey protein Dairy free babies can use an equal amount of unflavored rice protein or pea protein
  • 5 Tbsp. Lactose A note about lactose: Lactose is the primary form of sugar in breastmilk and it has special nourishing qualities for the brain and the healthy bacteria in the gut.  Lactose also has the benefit of being one of the least likely sugars to promote tooth decay.  Many babies who are allergic to cow’s milk formulas can still handle pure lactose as long as their gut bacteria is healthy because the most allergenic item for a baby in cow’s milk is the casein protein.  I know 5 Tbsp seems like a lot!  But if you’ve ever tasted breastmilk you’d know it tastes like melted ice cream :).  For toddlers this amount can be decreased to 3 Tbsp.  Parents of babies who are truly lactose intolerant can use 4 Tbsp of Grade B maple syrup instead to supply the carbohydrate content – this is a much better choice than the white sugar and corn syrup used in many dairy-free infant formulas.
  • 1 tsp Standard Process Calcium Lactate Powder (preferred) or 1/2 tsp KAL brand Dolomite Powder
  • Contents of 2 capsules Allergy Research Group Dessicated Liver from grassfed cows
  • 2 tsp Udo’s Infant Probiotic powder
  • 2 tsp liquid Cod Liver Oil, either Nordic Naturals or Carlson or 1 tsp Green Pastures Brand
  • 1 large egg yolk (for children over 4 months only) from a healthy chicken that has been raised on pasture.  This supplies cholesterol, arachidonic acid, and other nutrients that are extremely important for brain growth.  I boil the egg for 3 1/2 minutes (just long enough to harden the white but not the yolk) then peel, and release just the yolk into the formula.  This is optional and can be omitted for egg-free babies as long as they are getting healthy cholesterol somewhere else, such as in grassfed butter or meat.
  • Distilled or Reverse Osmosis water to 4 cups

Shake to combine (using one of those springs that comes with protein powder shakers
can be really helpful).  Will keep in fridge for up to 48 hours.  Formula will separate, so shake before pouring into bottle or cup and gently warm to drinking temperature in a warm water bath or bottle warmer.


LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This recipe is intended to supplement a nursing or formula-fed child’s diet.  It is not intended to be a complete replacement.  This blog does not replace the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner.  Jessica Stamm assumes no responsibility for the reader’s interpretation of the contents of her blog.

September 9, 2011   39 Comments