Tag Archives: natural living

Thank YOU! And a Giveaway with Handmade Yoga

A Giveaway with Handmade Yoga | Faith and Composition
Last week I wrote about those moments when mothering is hard and no one sees. And friends, I was overwhelmed and humbled by your response to that post. Over the weekend more than 21,000 of you hopped onto this little space to read that piece. I never imagined that the Lord would allow my words to garner such a readership. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for contacting me and letting me know how the post has impacted you!

As I wrote—and as so many of you have agreed—mothering is a selfless act of service to our children. And the nitty-gritty, day-in-day-out tasks often go unseen by human eyes. It’s a job that rarely receives any applause, but it always demands our all.

It’s no wonder then that as mothers we constantly set our own needs aside to meet those of our children. It often happens without a second thought. I know, because I can be the worst at it.

A Giveaway with Handmade Yoga | Faith and Composition
So today I’ve got a great little giveaway that’s going to help one of you put a little bit of emphasis back onto your own physical health.

Erin Burt, creator of Handmade Yoga is giving away one green houndstooth yoga bag (value $50) to a lucky F&C reader. Featuring a classic design in vibrant green and ivory with a triple-stitched strap, the heavyweight bag also comes complete with inside cotton liner with patch pocket and grosgrain ribbon for easy closure. If you’re a yoga devotee, this bag will quickly become a necessary part of your workout gear. And if you can’t tell a downward dog from a warrior pose, this sweet bag may be just the impetus you need to grab a mat and try out a pose or two.

A Giveaway with Handmade Yoga | Faith and CompositionA Giveaway with Handmade Yoga | Faith and Composition
Simply follow this blog (you can follow by submitting your e mail address and clicking “I Want to Follow F&C” on the right sidebar; or follow on BlogLovin); then like the Handmade Yoga Facebook page. (If you already follow F&C, that’s great! Just like the Handmade Yoga FB page.) Then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did just that.

For extra entries, you can follow Faith&Composition on Instagram, like F&C on FB and share the contest to your own social media accounts. Just be sure to come back here and leave a separate comment for each entry!

The winner will be selected at random using Random.org. If for some reason you have trouble commenting (some readers encounter trouble when trying to comment via their mobile device), just hop over to the F&C Facebook page and leave a comment there letting me know. This contest will close on Sunday, February 16. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 17.  

Best of luck to you, dear friends!

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is announced here


A Quiche Recipe and a Book Review {French Kids Eat Everything}

A Review of French Kids Eat Everything and a Quiche Recipe | Faith and Composition
Open the first chapter of Karen LeBillon’s French Kids Eat Everything, and these words from the first paragraph jump off the page: “Ask my children what their favorite foods are, and the answer might surprise you. Seven-year-old Sophie loves beets and broccoli, leeks and lettuce, mussels and mackerel—in addition to the usual suspects, like hot dogs, pizza and ice cream. Claire, her three-year-old sister, loves olives and red peppers, although her all-time favorite is creamed spinach.”

I’d barely cracked the spine (err, fired up the Kindle) of French Kids Eat Everything before I was hooked. The book is a heartwarming manifesto-of-sorts that tells how Karen and her family moved to France and cured her children’s picky eating habits. For one, the book is honest, witty and a few times chuckle-out-loud funny. But it also provides some fantastic take-aways, ideas that can readily be implemented in any home with young, picky eaters.

The food culture in France is radically different from that of the food culture in the U.S. (obesity rates attest to this; whereas France’s rate of childhood obesity is one of the lowest in the developed world, the U.S. boasts some of the highest.), and there’s a lot to be learned from the French methods. Lucky for us, Karen gives some honest, you-can-do-this-too advice for busy moms and dads who want to get their kids to not only try their beets but to enjoy them as well.

During her year in France, Karen perceived a set of unstated, commonly understood rules that set the groundwork necessary to guide young French kids into a healthy relationship with food. These rules form the framework for the habit of eating in France, and Karen suggests that these rules can be applied to help establish healthy eating patterns in North American kids too. From the very first rule—“Parents, YOU are in charge of food education”—the book empowers parents with the confidence and the methods they need to help instill healthy eating habits in their little ones.

And perhaps the best thing about the rules? They’re not ironclad. In fact, rule number 10 (the Golden Rule, as Karen dubs it) states that “Eating is joyful, not stressful. Treat the food rules as habits or routines, rather than strict regulations; it’s fine to relax them once in a while.”

In short, the book is a witty how-to manual that gives advice for curing young, picky eaters with word pictures of the provincial French countryside dotted throughout. It’s a joy to read, and you come away from the pages thinking: I can do that. So if you need a little more help in encouraging your kids to eat and enjoy whole foods, check out French Kids Eat Everything (get the Kindle version here). You’ll be both pleasantly informed and entertained!

A Review of French Kids Eat Everything and a Quiche Recipe | Faith and Composition
The back of the book contains several simple French recipes that parents can whip up in no time. I asked Karen if I could share one with you, and she was happy to oblige. I’m choosing to share this Quick No-Pastry Quiche with you, because quiche is a meal we serve once every couple weeks, if not once a week. I especially love quiche for its versatility; we often throw in an assortment of veggies (broccoli, zucchini, greens) or a handful of herbs. It’s also great with a little ham or bacon. I sometimes double this so we can have a quick breakfast or lunch the next day. In Karen’s quiche recipe, she deliberately leaves out the pastry, which reduces the prep time and allows busy parents to have dinner on the table with less fuss and in no time flat.

Quick No-Pastry Quiche | Faith and Composition

Quick No-Pastry Quiche
Reprinted verbatim with written permission from Karen LeBillon  

Preparation: 5 to 7 minutes
Cooking: 30 to 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 small adult servings

Easy and quick to make, quiche is a classic French recipe that pleases adults and children alike. Quiche is also one of the most versatile recipes in the French household, as it can be eaten hot or cold, for lunch or for dinner, and works well with any combination of vegetables that you can think of. French families often make it in advance, as it lasts well for a couple of days in the fridge (or even a few hours in the cupboard—my mother-in-law tries to avoid refrigerating her quiche, arguing that it changes the texture). In a pinch, I find that quiche freezes fairly well, although most French people don’t do this. The recipe presented here is the children’s version, which uses a higher proportion of milk and a smaller number of eggs than a quiche intended for adults. The resulting dish is fluffier, less dense, and less eggy, and so more likely to please young palates. For older children or adults, reduce the milk by a half cup, and add one more egg (or play with the ratio of eggs and milk until you find the texture that your family prefers).

Most French cooks have their personal twist on this dish. For a while, my favorite was a ratatouille-style quiche, with eggplant and tomatoes. A quick survey of our extended family turned up as many recipes as there were cooks: zucchini, broccoli, carrots—almost any vegetable you can think of. Chopped or grated finely, most vegetables don’t even need to be cooked in advance.

8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (or 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup cream)
Salt and pepper, if desired
1 cup flour

Filling suggestion (These are some of our favorites, but feel free to make up your own.):
Quiche lorraine: 1 cup cubed or sliced ham and 1 cup grated cheese (Gruyère works best, but Cheddar will also do)
Quiche aux légumes: 1 small onion, finely diced, 1/2 cup thinly sliced greens (I use spinach or chard, but not kale, which is too chewy) 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
Quiche provençale: 1 cup ratatouille (this is a great way to use leftovers)
Optional: dried herbs such as parsley or oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, beat the egg; add the milk (or milk and cream) and mix well. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, if desired. Stirring constantly with a fork or a whisk (to avoid lumps), add the flour a little bit at a time. Mix in the cheese followed by the fillings you are using.

2. Pour the mixture into a greased 9- or 12-inch pie plate and bake for 30 minutes, or until the quiche puffs and starts to brown on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving (the quiche will settle, and you’ll be able to cut it more neatly).

Tip: Changing your quiche ingredients is also a great way to introduce new vegetables: the reassuringly familiar look of the fish may entice even the wariest of eaters.

Note: Take care not to overfill your pie plate, as the quiche will puff up as it bakes. I place mine on a baking sheet in the oven, in case of spills. The quiche will deflate after you remove it from the oven: this is normal! Kids like watching this soufflé effect.

Enjoy, and au revoir, friends! I’ll see you in the next few days with a sample week-long whole foods meal plan, and next Monday I have the first F&C guest post featuring a simple, yet effective work-out you can do at home with the little ones underfoot!

How to Make a Whole Foods Lifestyle Work for Your Family

Tips for incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your family's meals | Faith and Composition

As I sit typing this post, there’s a bowl of cookies and cream ice cream keeping me company. It’s not organic, and if I read the ingredient list aloud, some whole food purists would certainly scoff. Now why in the world am I telling you that when we’ve been deep in the middle of a series on whole foods? Well, I confess for two reasons. First, because I want to be honest and transparent about our own whole foods journey, and that means letting you know that although we eat unprocessed, organic food nearly 85% of the time, we have our own shortcomings too. We’re not perfect in all of this; we still have quite a bit of ground to gain.

And secondly, I share this confession because it provides a real example that directly corresponds to point number 1 in my list of top tips for making this lifestyle work for families. So here you go. Without further ado … my tips for making a whole foods diet both manageable and attainable for a busy family with little ones underfoot.

Tips for incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your family's meals | Faith and Composition

  1. Give yourself some grace.
    If you’ve been eating a diet that relies in part on processed foods, making the switch to unprocessed options can seem like a daunting task. Don’t expect to dive into these eating habits overnight. It’s certainly possible (and kudos to you if you can do it), but I don’t recommend it. Rather allow yourself some grace to take it slowly, and don’t get discouraged if it’s one step forward, one step back for a little while.
  2. Make one change at a time.
    This could operate as an extension of number one, but I think it’s important to make it a separate point. Choose one thing you’re going to change, get comfortable with incorporating that new food (or process) into your family, and then make another change. Our first step in this lifestyle was joining an organic produce co-op. Shortly after that I began making homemade whole wheat bread and a few pantry items. Then I slowly replaced store-bought salad dressings with homemade, and we just recently started purchasing raw milk. But had I tried to do it all at once, I would have felt so overwhelmed that I would have been defeated from the start. Little steps and small successes (like culturing yogurt at home) have made the entire lifestyle  that much more doable.
  3. Meal plan.
    This was also one of my money-saving tips, but it’s an especially important (perhaps more important) component of making a whole foods lifestyle work for busy families. Feeding your family an unprocessed diet isn’t hard, but it does require some foresight. Things like dried beans and some grains require soaking, chicken broth needs to simmer for several hours (I usually simmer mine overnight in the crockpot), pizza dough needs plenty of rise time. Thus I find that meal planning really is crucial in helping to alleviate a lot of the stress associated with mealtime prep work. If you need a little meal-planning inspiration to get you started, I’ll be sharing a week’s worth of whole-food menu ideas next week, so be sure to check back!
  4. Make double batches and freeze.
    Because a whole foods diet does include a bit more planning and a bit more work, it just makes sense to reduce your workload by making extra and freezing it for future use. My aunt’s bread recipe makes three loaves, which means two go in the freezer for the another time. And I usually double a batch of granola and freeze one. Also learn what entrees freeze well, and then double those recipes so you have an easy dinner option when you’re in a pinch. Things like browned ground beef and cooked black beans freeze well and can be easily defrosted to whip up tacos in no time.
  5. Let the kids pick a recipe.
    A great way to get the kids excited about a transition to whole foods is to let then help you with your meal planning by picking out one recipe for the week. You choose a few options and then let them make a selection. That way they have some input, and it’s perceived as a team effort, rather than you trying to force changes.
  6. Let the kids help with meal prep.
    This one is hard for me (with my type-A, desire-for-order personality and all), but I do think kids are more apt to try something when they’ve had a hand in creating it. Homemade whole wheat pizza is always a good option for little hands. They can toss on freshly shredded cheese or any other topping. And when we’re baking bread, my older two like to help with the mixing. Even a one-year-old can help with the salad spinner when washing fresh greens.
  7. Reduce (or eliminate) snacking.
    This is one of the French Food Rules that author Karen LeBillon details in her book, French Kids Eat Everything, and I think it’s crucial. Kids have a tendency to fill up on snacks when they’re offered. And if their bellies are full at mealtimes, they’re going to be a lot less likely to try that unprocessed, whole foods plate you just set in front of them. Reduce snacking, and your kids will eat more of the goodness you’re serving at breakfast, lunch and dinner because they’re legitimately hungry. We usually eat one small snack in the afternoon (fruit, a piece of whole wheat toast with nut butter, stove-top popped popcorn). It’s enough to satiate their little tummies till dinner, but they’re still hungry once the meal is on the table. (On a side note: I’m reviewing French Kids Eat Everything in the next few days, and Karen has given me permission to share a few recipes from her book, so be sure to check back then!)
  8. Find a few ‘keeper’ recipes.
    No matter how intentional you are about meal planning, you’re still going to have those moments when something unexpectedly arises and the planned meal just isn’t going to work. In those instances, you need something that you can whip up quickly without much thought. Thus, I recommend having a few tried-and-true whole foods recipes that contain ingredients you always have on hand so you’re never without an excuse. My keeper recipes include lentil soup; quiche; and sweet potato, black bean and egg mash-up.
  9. Do advance prep work.
    Prep lunch during breakfast, prep dinner during lunch. Simply put, plan ahead. If you’re going to have an egg salad for lunch, go ahead and hard boil the eggs while you’re making breakfast. If you’re having roast chicken and veggies for dinner, chop the vegetables while you’re busy preparing lunch. A little advance preparation goes a long way, especially when it’s 6 o’clock, your family is hungry, the dogs are barking and the baby is pulling on you. I’ll be honest, I’m not always able to do this (I do it a lot less than I’d like), but when I do, I’m quite thankful!

That’s it … my top tips for making a whole foods lifestyle work for your busy family. Now it’s your turn! Let me know what tricks you’ve discovered for getting unprocessed foods to your table. And put those whole-foods skills to good use with this FREE 5-day meal plan, click here

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 {Sourcing Animal Proteins}

If this is your first time here, welcome! We’re currently in the middle of a series titled Whole Foods for the Family Table. You can catch parts 1 and 2 here and here.

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 | Faith and Composition
It’s been more than four years since I started serving our family organic fruits and veggies from an organic produce co-op, but making the switch to organic, free-range animal products (including pastured eggs and raw cow’s milk) took us a bit longer. Why? Because there’s less availability for the consumer, which makes it more difficult to find reputable sources. Now, however, when my kids reach for a glass of milk, they drink raw, non-homogenized, full-fat milk from a nearby local farm. When they eat meat, it’s the beef from a pastured cow who spent his life grazing grass in my uncle’s pasture. Eggs? They’re from a flock of hens tended by personal friends of ours. Our honey comes from a local beekeeper, and our wheat came straight from my aunt and uncle’s farm.

As I re-read that paragraph, I realize that it sounds like we’re living on a homestead in some rural area. But the truth is, we live smack dab in the middle of a major metropolitan area, and our little yard boasts less than a quarter acre. So how do we do it, and why go to the trouble?

Let’s start with the “why,” because there’s no need for the “how” if conventional options are   comparable. First of all, let me start by saying that we’re not on the low-fat bandwagon. We certainly used to be, and my poor hubby despised skim milk, but now he gets whole milk, full-fat yogurt, real butter and more (within moderation, of course). Why did we make the switch? Because more research is beginning to show that maybe fat isn’t the villain we once thought it was, and all those so-called healthy vegetable oils (high in omega 6) may actually be causing harm. For more reading on the subject, click here to read thoughts from a heart surgeon, and check out some of the links listed in this informative post by Deliciously Organic.

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 | Faith and Composition

Once I decided to switch from processed, low-fat proteins to their unprocessed, full-fat counterparts, I wanted to get the healthiest animal sources available. And study after study is showing that organic, pastured animals yield a more nutritious food product. Take eggs for example, a study done by Mother Earth News showed that pastured eggs contain four to six times more vitamin D, one-third less cholesterol, one-fourth less saturated fat, two-thirds more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene than conventionally farmed eggs. Regarding beef, this article suggests grass-fed beef and dairy products are leaner, lower in omega-6 fats, and higher in beneficial omega-3 fats and conjugated linoleic acids.

As for raw milk, A Campaign for Raw Milk indicates that studies have shown that children who consume raw milk have greater resistance to disease, better growth and stronger teeth than children consuming pasteurized milk. Animal studies indicate that raw milk confers better bone structure, better organ development, better nutrient assimilation, better fertility and even better behavior than pasteurized milk. And when it comes to the safety of raw milk, evidence has shown that illness attributed to raw milk over an 11-year period was only less than .0001%. To put that into perspective, a 2003 government study suggested that deli meats are ten times more likely to cause food-borne illness than raw milk. Kind of makes you question your turkey sandwich, doesn’t it?

Apart from these studies though, our family has personally experienced some great results since switching to raw milk. My son has a grass allergy, and his legs break out in bright, red, irritated spots if he’s spent too much time in the grass. Since switching to raw milk, the rash on his legs has almost completely cleared. I don’t know if he had an unknown allergy or sensitivity to milk that was worsening the rash, or if the beneficial enzymes in raw milk have strengthened his immune system so that he can fight the grass allergy, but whatever the case, we’re believers. My niece has also experienced a respite from eczema since switching to raw milk. The poor girl would have a pretty bad eczema flare-up whenever she drank pasteurized milk, but she’s symptom free when drinking raw milk. When it comes to your own family though, don’t take my word for it. Read the studies and enter into a decision that’s best for you with thought and research. If you’re considering raw milk, I highly recommend browsing A Campaign for Real Milk.

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 | Faith and Composition
Now that you understand the why, let’s move to the how. As I mentioned in the beginning, sourcing organic, free-range animal products is a bit more difficult than sourcing organic produce, but it’s certainly doable. Depending on your state’s laws, many of these products are available at local farmer’s markets. This option is great, because it allows you to ask questions directly of the supplier. You may even be able to find out about the existence of an egg/beef/raw milk co-op just by asking the right questions. And speaking of asking, sometimes a conversation with a like-minded friend can be the best source of information. Talk to others who eat a whole-foods, unprocessed diet to see where they source their animal proteins. And if you see that a restaurant serves food from local growers, ask about their suppliers. The supplier likely sells direct to the consumer, in addition to the restaurant. Before finding my source for raw milk and pastured eggs (which I discovered via word of mouth), I considered sourcing low-temp pasteurized milk from a dairy that supplies the milk needs of one of my favorite local coffee houses.

If these products aren’t available at your farmer’s markets, or conversations with friends don’t yield any results, check out the following site for extensive state-by-state lists of local, unprocessed, whole-foods suppliers:

A Campaign for Real Milk, milk finder
American Grassfed
Eat Wild
When considering a raw milk supplier, Mother Earth News has a great checklist of things to look for in a reputable dairy.

If you happen to live in or near the Dallas/Fort Worth area, check out these local famers and their products:

Burgundy Pasture Beef
Dominion Farms
Dry Valley Dairy
Homestead Farms
Hudspeth Farms
Lucky Layla
Rosey Ridge Farm
TexSax Ranch (they sell their own products, as well as operate a raw milk co-op with milk they pick up from Nors Dairy Farm)

Since local, organic, whole foods usually carry a higher price tag, I’m going to tackle the issue of cost in the next couple of days. We’ll discuss ways to stay on budget, as well as some more applicable tips for getting into the habit of preparing and serving whole, unprocessed foods at your family’s table without losing your mind in the process.

What about you? Do you source local, organic animal proteins? If so, what are your favorite local sources? If not, what is hindering you? 

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 4. For a FREE whole foods, 5-day meal plan, click here

My Water Birth Story {A Guest Post at FWMB}

My water birth experience | Faith and Composition
Greetings friends! Today I’m guest posting over at Fort Worth Moms Blog about the water birth experience I had with number 3. If you’re even remotely curious about a water birth or perhaps considering one yourself, hop on over there! They’d be thrilled to have you on their site, and I’d love to share my story with you. Also be sure to check back in later this week, since I have my first giveaway coming your way from the lovely ladies at Edit, a Kansas City-based lifestyle boutique! I think you’ll love it!

Have a blessed Monday!