UNprocessed UPdate

I joined the  October Unprocessed Challenge mainly because it seemed to make sense.  I was already doing a weight loss challenge and needed to get get a grip on what was going in my body.  And… as luck would have it, I had just restocked my pantry with whole grains, raw sugar and as much fresh food as I could fit.  I’m particularity relieved to have done this challenge as it served as the jump start I needed to get myself back to what I know to be best for myself and my family.
I was worried about doing this challenge because my toddler is absurdly picky.  I say absurdly because I did everything “right”.  I made his food, we went grocery shopping together, I’ve had him in the kitchen with me since he was a newborn.  He wants applesauce and Cheerios.  It drives me batty.  I wanted to figure out a way to get more nutrition in him without battling so much.  In the month of October, I introduced brown rice, falafel, pureed vegetables hidden in almost every meal and honey instead of sugar.  He’s eaten pretty well.  I let him keep his beloved goldfish crackers, but cut out all the other snack foods that he liked.  And when we made cookies, I added pureed organic chickpeas.  Not only did he eat them just as well as he would have “normal cookies”, he didn’t ask for very many.  They were filling and he was contented with a cookie that was nutritiously sound for once! 
My 6 month old started solids in the month of October.  We decided that she would only eat organic and homemade foods, so I made a lot of applesauce, roasted sweet potatoes like a fiend and sliced lots of avocados.  I let her feed herself as much as was realistically possible.  She loves food and also the general experience of sitting with us at the table, partaking the social connections.  I am still nursing her quite frequently through the day and night and I noticed that once I cut processed foods and therefore soy products and food dyes, she became happier and started to sleep moderately better.  It has a stark reminder of how harmful a little thing can be, even though filtered through another body.
I was slightly concerned that my husband would  complain about the food changes.  On the contrary, he’s eaten everything I put in front of him without complaint, even the vegetarian options!  I wound losing a total of 8 pounds in the month of October, for a total of 9.5 during the 6 week weigh loss challenge.  It feels like my body has been detoxing, though.  My skin suddenly started to break out angrily and there were days when the only thing I could eat was rice and broccoli.  On the upside, I did notice a clarity in my mind despite my current lack of sleep that I can only attribute to my elimination of food dyes and preservatives. 

Another benefit for me from doing this challenge was that it kicked me back into great with making my own foods.  I returned to making my breads and learned how to make pitas, roast red peppers and replaced canned cream-of-whatever soups in my monthly cooking with a homemade version that worked just as well.  Now that I’ve gotten in the routine of making things food with a purpose, it’s comfortable again.  In the end, I’d say that the October Unprocessed challenge has left me grateful.  I’m grateful because in addition to the wonderful benefits for me and my family, it’s opened the door for me to talk to other moms in the area and find women who have like goals for their families.  And really, it’s that the way it’s supposed to be?  The connections I’ve made in the last few weeks have soothed my soul in place of snack foods and mindless nibbling.  I’ve come out of this energized and inspired.  Oh.  And November is just going to have to be unprocessed, too.  Once you start, it’s hard to stop.

Cloth beyond the Diaper

We live in the kind of home where people spill something and when searching for a paper towel are confused as to why there aren’t any.  When I hand them a rag, they tend to blink in confusion before asking me if it’s actually ok if they “ruin” my rag.  Ever since my husband and I got married, there’s been cloth in this house.  We use cloth napkins I made from fabric scraps lying around from unrealized projects and rags that came from set of jersey sheets.  Everything else that we use to clean the house is reusable cotton or microfiber.  So when we chose to do cloth diapers, it made the most sense for us.  I then went one step further and added cloth wipes to my laundry piles.  
Last spring after almost a whole successful year of cloth diapering, I was really getting used to not throwing anything away in the house.  We were able to switch to a smaller trash pickup and with the money we saved, I put that into a recycling pick up from our home so that I didn’t have to haul my piles of recyclables to the next town over.  Then, I made an investment in plates and cups that we could reuse for all our parties.  A few months later, I found myself sewing reusable produce bags and birthday decorations.  Successes from both of those endeavors inspired me to try new food preservation ideas, baking more of my foods from scratch and learning to be less wasteful by relying more on myself than on conventional products.

Cloth diapering for me has been just a continuation of a frugal lifestyle.  I’m always on the look-out for new, green options for our home and I’m hoping that by keeping them in the forefront of our minds it will always be a part of our lives.  I’m proud to raise my children in a home with cloth.  Be it wiping up spills, covering a heiny or washing windows, cloth makes my life green and frugal.  Just like I like it.

Beyond the Diaper – Inspiration and Resources for Reusables

  • Cloth wipes are a perfect addition to your diapering routine.  I had a few extra receiving blankets that were worn to the perfect softness and in a mere 10 minutes trimmed those blankets into a pile of wipes.  I kept mine super simple and just cut squares out of the fabric, but you can bind the edges with contrasting thread.  Simple Organic has a wonderful tutorial on how to make and store your new wipes!  Not a lot of time or spare flannel?  Head on over to Etsy for a wide range of styles and fabrics.
  • If you’re interested in making the leap to cloth wipes for the whole family, Crunchy Chicken is responsible for everything I know about reusable wipes in the bathroom.  
  • Once I was fully invested in bringing my own bags to the grocery, I thought it was time to cut out the produce bags as well.  I found good inspiration and ideas in this post from Mindful Momma, but in the end, wound up making something more like what I found on Etsy.  I was able to find cotton mesh fabric and used scraps from a misguided attempt at curtains to make them stand out in my cart.
  • There are a lot of tutorials out there for UNpaper towels, but I’m here to tell you it’s as easy as finding some absorbent fabric and cutting to the desired size.  You can serge the edges if you’d like or leave them free.  In my case, I had a jersey knit sheet set with a giant hole in it thanks to my dog.  Instead of throwing the set away, I cut both the sheets and the pillowcases into large squares and have them stashed all over the house in baskets just waiting for a spill. 
  • If you’re looking for a way to ditch the plastic baggies as you head out on your picnics this summer, here’s a great tutorial for sewing reusable wrappers that will add some fun to your lunches!