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Recommended fertility and reproductive health books

Taking charge of your fertility – I read this book like 4 times. It really helped me to understand my reproductive cycle much more than plugging my data into an app. Because I finally understood my cycle I was able to trouble shoot potential problems and get pregnant.

It starts with the egg – this book emphasizes your reproductive health in terms of your external environment, lifestyle, and internal environment (body & mind)

Tao of fertility – Eastern traditional medicine approach- broken down easily for the Westernized woman. I got several good tips from this book which incorporated into my self care plan

The fifth vital sign – another book that dives into the reproductive cycle with lots of good tips on ways to increase fertility. The author also has great podcast called Fertility Friday.

Nourishing Traditions – explores traditional approaches to healthy diet with plenty of whole, cooked foods, nourishing animals fats, section on preparing your body for pregnancy

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My thoughts on bed sharing

It was not easy to make the decision to bed share, in fact I didn’t decide for sure until the day Billy was born. The books and internet, your parents, doctors, & friends are armed with very strong opinions on the subject. Below I’ll share why I choose to bed share, how it’s going for me, and some tricks/hacks that have made me feel like it’s safe so far and very ideal for me and Billy. Even if you don’t bed share, you may want to nurse in bed, allowing you to nurse baby to sleep during the day for naps without moving them. Either way, I hope some thing in here will click and help you on your journey.

I mentioned I didn’t decide to bed share until Billy was born. We had an unplanned, on the fly home birth and right after he was born 8pm, I nursed him on our bed, spent an amazing 2 hours with him. But then I left him at home with Dad to get a tear repaired at the hospital. Finally home at 2am, and we were alone with my angel. And I nursed him to sleep beside me – and there was just no way that I was going to try to pick him up and transfer him to bassinet. He needed sleep, I needed sleep, but I also needed him next to me to watch him sleep, to watch him breath, to soak it all in.

Before giving birth I had read most of “Sweet Sleep” from La Leche League. There are several “rules” to safe bed sharing. Before reading this book, I just couldn’t piece together the advice I had gotten from people – but this book made bed sharing seem approachable, safe, & possible. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about having baby even nap in their bed.

Unlike the stories I hear from a lot of parents about sleep deprivation and exhaustion, I love the nights with my baby Billy. I share a queen size bed with him. He sleeps in the middle I sleep on his right side, Dad sleeps downstairs in another bedroom on another bed. My baby usually sleeps on his back or on his right side facing me. Sometimes, I put him to sleep in beginning of the night in the bassinet and then once he wakes up he spends the rest of the night in the bed. I love nights, they are the cuddliest. He wakes, we nurse, do a bedside diaper change or potty opportunity and back to sleep, repeat until the early morning when he’s a little more alert and wants to vocalize and hang out before taking another nap. I can’t imagine nursing baby, and then waiting another 20-30 minutes each time until he is dead asleep to put him down into his crib, sometimes having to start all over if he startles awake. The side lying nursing position keeps me in a semi sleepy state so that I can go back to sleep once he does.

I’m not saying it is possible or the right choice for you! There is a lot of information out there stating the dangers of bedsharing, and putting children to sleep on their sides or stomachs. You need to decide what is right for you, your baby and your family.

Tip! When babies sleep on their right side they are able to relieve pressure from gas, spit up, and even fart -something about how the body is designed and their airways. This means baby will be more likely to relieve discomfort, and less likely to wake up from gas.

Below is a pic of my set up and some “essentials” that have made my bed sharing easier.

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Baby & mom product favorites

Bottle and breast feeding

Dr. Browns Bottle Warmer and Sterilizer

Dr. Browns Bottles

Drying rack for bottles

Pacifiers – at least 4 because they are always getting dirty and you want them in strategic locations (especially the car). This link is for BPA free ones

Pacifier holders – to keep the pacifiers clean!

Baby Bliss Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads

Haakaa Manual Breast Pump

Dr Browns Breast Milk Freezer Storage Bags

Baby Wares

Sun Hat

Velcro Swaddles 0-3 months

Love to Dream Swaddle – hands up position 8-14lbs

Baby Diapers, Hygiene & Medical:

Pampers Pure Newborn

Pampers Pure Size 1

Baby wipes – seventh generation

Wet bag for diapers on the go

Weleda diaper cream – I heard several recommendations for this specific one. I like it so far. I use it when he starts to get a little red and it goes away by next day.

Nasal Aspirator this is a must have on hand. I haven’t used it yet, but you need it for emergencies.

Electric Nail File I love this one. I use it while nursing baby he doesn’t mind at all. I use on myself too while nursing 🙂

Wellements Organic Teething Oil – won’t need this until 4 months or more.

Wellements organic gripe water– I was hesitant at first because it had agave in it- but it helps immediately with hiccups! (Which may bother us more than baby but still. I’m on my second bottle – they only have 1 month shelf life in fridge.)

Wellements organic vitamin D drops – most pediatricians will have babies take Vitamin D- I don’t know if they prescribe or not because we haven’t gone in for his check ups (covid surge). My midwife said not really necessary- but Vitamin D is crucial for beating covid so I’m giving to baby – can’t hurt!

Sleep stuff

Hatch White Noise Machine

Waterproof baby pad/blanket– we’re bed sharing and We have a lot of leaks! A) I must be horrible at diapering.. B) I think he’s a “heavy wetter” C) we’re just so sleepy at night we don’t wake to change diaper enough D) he sleeps on his side and it leaks sideways instead of getting absorbed… anyways!! I’m so glad i finally got these. I have 3 as they take a while to dry. Also great for naked time- airing out the butt for prevent diaper rash

For mom

Perineal Ice Packs – I only used these for 2 days – BUT I used them for 2 days straight every hour on the hour. I don’t know what I would have done without them. And – they can be used as just regular ice packs after. You could also just get the Frida Mom disposable ice pads similar to what the hospital will give you or the Frida Mom post partum pack

Earth Momma Nipple Cream – I didn’t end up needed but many women do – good to have on hand!

Sitz Bath Basin – I thought maybe I wouldn’t really need this but I got a lot of use out of my before and after baby.

Nursing Bras – Good to have a few types and a few different sizes on hand for when your milk comes in because your boobs will get even bigger, you can return what you don’t end up using. I got a few from target during my pregnancy as I out grew my sports bras. But my favorite so far is this Kindred Braverly one. The fabric is very soft. Great fit and easy to pull down. I bought several more including a 5 pack I wish I hadn’t. I tend to wash the same 4 bras every other day.

The Big Stuff

Car seat – I think getting a straight up infant car seat is better than a convertible. Because it fits more snugly for baby, making it safer (less bouncing around) and because you can remove it from the car if baby is sleeping. You can get car seat adapters for different strollers as well. I got the Nuna Pipa from Nordstrom and added it to my Amazon registry because they had free shipping to Hawaii over a certain amount. The Nuna Pipa was one of the least toxic car seats I could find for a reasonable price. It is flame retardant free. So far, I really like it. It is easy (1 click) to put in and take out of car. I wish I had gotten a stroller that worked with it out of the box – by the time I decided I wanted the adapter for my stroller they were sold out.

Stroller – I went with the Joovy Zoom ( not currently on Amazon). It’s a less expensive version of the industry standard “Bob” because of living in Rural Hawaii, we decided a regular stroller was no use, we’d need something that could handle uneven terrain. I assembled it but I’m waiting for Billy to hit the 3 month mark until I can use it.

Bassinet or crib – This was one of the hardest decisions. I did way to much “research” without getting any where. For traditional cribs and bassinets, I had a hard time finding one that was non-toxic, without chemicals in the finish, or glue etc. Or one without horrible reviews.

I also had feedback, that we may use it very little and baby may just end up in our bed most of the time. Or that it just becomes a place to throw the toys. We eventually settled on the Lotus Crib – Guava Family Portable Play Yard and Bassinet Conversion Kit (I bought this part second hand on Poshmark). So far I am pleased with it. I think once baby outgrows the bassinet, I’m not sure if the playyard will be his sleeping spot because it is on the ground.. but you never know. Maybe we’ll just move him to a regular mattress on the ground and use the play yard as it was intented for travel.

Glider/rocking chair – this is a must! I spend 1/2 my nursing sessions on the glider. I had a hand me down Glider of this type (cannot attest to this exact link). Definitely good for rocking baby gently when your energy is low and for just hanging out with baby while he smiles at you.

Swing – Most of my friends recommended a baby swing. It is known for calming infants and babies down. Billy doesn’t love this yet but he has accepted it a few times and even fell asleep in it once. I do expect him to get more use out of it as he gets bigger as I’ve heard older babies love these. This one I linked to is the one we have, it is basic and affordable.

Changing Table – plus contoured pad, cover)

Baby carrier – I really am liking the Baby Bjorn Mini! I also have an Ergo I am waiting to try out. The Moby wrap is an industry standard for wraps, I liked it but with the newborn hold. BUT, the first time I used it, I went for 1 walk, 2 weeks post partum, and it put all of his weight on one side of me and I ended up hurting my back. Plus, I was using it in summer & it was a lot of fabric for the heat & humidity.

Baby bath – I got a hand-me down regular baby bath like this that fits in your regular tub. It works great for our needs. Billy loves it without the infant sling, I put him in it, and just hold his bottom up with my hand while he floats around. I use my other hand to bathe him. After about 4 minutes my back is over it. But it is worth seeing his smile floating. There are lots of other models out there. I know for a c-section – this type would be very difficult and you’d want something that fits over the sink or on the counter.

What I didn’t put on registry that I should have…


Baby car seat head bumper (also good for using with swing)

Stroller Adapter for car seat – wish I had bought a “travel” system or gotten the car seat adapter for my car seat. 

Large Waterproof pads/blankets – for taking naps on your bed, diaper leaks, diaper free (airing out) time. I have this one I love it.

More diapers – newborns pee and poop a lot. You’ll fly through them

Changing table- I thought I’d just change him wherever but realized it would be easier on our backs to have table. Diaper caddy or 2 for other rooms (can use any basket but fun to be organized) 

More cloth prefold diapers- great for diaper free time and to put under their butt for changing them. The ones linked here are super soft.

Toys & books – I thought that little babies didn’t really need toys. Luckily I was gifted second hand items. I read to billy as we nurse and there’s a few toys that he loves. Sometimes he stares are them for up to 15 minutes calmly! Early on they like contrast and also bright color stuff animals with big eyes and mouth.

I got Billy these contrast soft books and he loves them. Stares at them for up to 15 minutes quietly!

A bouncer – I skipped bouncer and put a swing — but was gifted a baby bjorn bouncer anyways. So far baby no like swing but he tolerates the bouncer while I eat breakfast sometimes.

I still expect the swing to work out eventually

Diaper pail

I had too much:

Onesies! – I do laundry every or every other day. We only rotate thru 5 onesies tops. Sometime more just to switch it up.

Baby swaddles we’re bad at it- plus it’s way too hot here. I put some on registry n then got some handme downs. I’m swimming in swaddle blankets I never use. My midwife showed us how to do a too half swaddle for his arms/Moro reflex. This works pretty well with cut in half(triangles) swaddles- I do recommend the Velcro swaddles, and the hands up swaddles. It’s a little too hot in summer for us to use… so the sleeveless sleep sacks are also good.

Hooded towels- I only put one on registry but apparently ppl that don’t order off registry love to gift these – I have like 8 now and only rotate through my 3 favorite.

Burp rags- I hardly ever remember to use them anyways. But anything will work as burp cloth I usually use the cloth prefolds

Newborn diapers. Billy was a big boy grew out of those quickly! 

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Growing, harvesting, and eating guavas

Latin Name and family: Psidium guajava L. Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)

Other names: common guava, apple guava, yellow guava, or lemon guava, goiaba (Portuguese) and guayaba (Spanish).

We grow several varieties of guava on our Big Island fruit farm. The most notable ones are the “Indonesian White Guava” and “Ruby Supreme”. We often sell the seeds when they are in season. Check out our website ainaexotics.com or our etsy shop.

Guava fruit Characteristics:

The fruits of the guava tree are fragrant, and globular or ovoid and usually around 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in diameter and can weigh from a few ounces to (more uncommonly) a pound. There are several varieties, which differ slightly in shape, skin, flesh color, taste, water content etc. Usually, the skin ripens from green to pale yellow and can range from thin skin to thick depending on the variety. Furthermore, the guava flesh can be pink, yellowish and even white. Inside there are many small hard seeds, but again depending on variety some guavas have less seeds.

The most two popular types of Psidium guajava are white and pink guavas. Pink guavas have thicker pulp, more water, and are not as sweet as white guava. And surprisingly white guava is higher in Vitamin C.

Guava Taste and Culinary Uses:

The short shelf life, propensity to pests like the fruit fly and ants, and the amount of seeds in guavas, has directed it’s culinary uses. They aren’t often sold fresh in markets. Instead, they lend really well to processing into juice and pulp for flavoring a large variety of edible goods. Additionally, guavas are very rich in pectin and are often used to make jelly, jams and juices on a commercial scale. To extract the seeds out of guavas, the fruit is often boiled and the seeds are strained, resulting in a rich juice and pulp. The pulp is then used to flavor desserts, chutneys, pies, relishes, bread etc.

Guava harvest and Storage:

While some Psidium guajava may fruit almost year-round, most often fruit matures in the summer. However, in some climates or some trees may fruit a various times of the year or even multiple times a years.  You can tell it is time to pick guava when the skin color changes from green to yellow and the fruit begins to give under light pressure of the fingers. Guava has an extremely short shelf life. And is also hard to harvest before bugs have gotten hold of it. For the home grower who doesn’t treat with pesticides, it is best to stay on top of harvesting. Harvest every day and avoid letting over ripe fruit rot on the ground. This encourages higher populations of pests. Storing in the fridge can extend its shelf life a few days, but processing ASAP is preferred.

Guava health benefits:

Guava is very good source of Vitamin C (350 mg per 100 g).  The pulp is rich in fiber, and the fruit itself is high in minerals like manganese, vitamin A, folic acid, potassium. Phosphorus, iron, and  calcium.  Additionally, they contain a high amount of antioxidants. The leaves are also widely used in traditional medicine to treat inflammation as well as digestive disorders.

Growing guava:

Guavas are relatively small evergreen trees. They are native to the American tropics but spread and naturalized to many tropical and subtropical areas. In some areas, as in Hawaii, certain varieties are considered a weed and have displaced Native forests. One reason why they are so weedy is because they adapt to a range of soils and can grow almost anywhere where it isn’t too cold. At first guava grows quite slow, but then explodes with a growth spurt and can fruit in as little as 2 years.

Various insects pollinate guava, but the most common insect is the honeybee.

Propagating Guava

Seedlings are the most commonly used method of propagation for guavas, although guava seed does not reproduce a true to type child plant. Other methods include air layering, grafting and propagation from leafy cuttings. Trees made from vegetative propagation may take 2-3 years to produce fruit (from planting out), while seedling trees may take a little bit longer.

How to save guava seeds

The best method we have found of saving guava seeds, is to remove the flesh from the guava, place in a plastic baggy with water and let ferment a few days. During this process the flesh falls from the seeds.

Germination of guava seeds:

In general, seeds can take 2-12 weeks for germination, but more likely will take around 4-8 weeks. For guavas, plant seeds 1/4-1/2″ deep in moist soil. For best results, use sterile potting media. The soil needs to be warm, ideally between 70-85F. If the soil is much cooler, and the seed germination time will be increased or inhibited all together.

Improving germination:

There are several methods you can try to increase germination rates and speed up germination time. But, the most common hurdle is not allowing enough time to pass and not keeping soil moist during the germination period.

scarification with gibberellic acid or sulphuric acid

Paper towel method: Place your guava seed on a wet paper towel and fold the paper towel over the seed. Place the paper towel into a sealable plastic bag. Poke holes into the baggie with a toothpick. Take a plate and add a bit of water to it. Place the baggie on top of the plate. Set the plate in a dark place and wait three weeks. Add water to the plate every four to five days. Additionally, by allowing the seed to remain moist while in a dark place you will help to speed along germination.

Soak the Seeds:

Place the guava seeds in a bowl and cover with 2 to 3 inches of warm water. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm, dark location for two weeks. Add more water if necessary to keep the seeds wet. After two weeks, the seed coating is soft enough for the inner embryo to germinate.

Place the seed-starting tray in a brightly lit, warm location or on a seed heating mat set at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Guava seeds germinate at temperatures between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the seeds stop growing. The guava seeds germinate slowly, requiring between four and 12 weeks before the tiny sprouts appear above the surface. When the seedlings appear, remove the plastic cover to prevent damping off.

Resources:

 (Essien, E. (2004), Breaking of seed coat dormancy in guava. Trop. Sci., 44: 40–42. doi:10.1002/ts.130, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ts.130/abstract)

https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/guava.html

http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/kbase/crop/crops/i_guava.htm

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Magnesium for fertility and pregnancy

I started my baby making journey at 35, just 1 month before Covid-19 hit. With limited knowledge and access to fertility clinics, after 6 months of trying, I decided to REALLY focus on how to achieve optimal hormonal health. My nutrients were somewhat depleted from many Covid afternoons of beer and wine drinking, coupled by morning filled with coffee, and an inconsistent unfocused diet. My stress levels were high from being under-employed with little vision of how my future would unfold. And all I really wanted for my future was to become a mom. So, the studious part of me started cracking the books.

There are several several factors that affect fertility, your menstrual cycles, and I truly believe you need to get the basics right first before you rely on “magic pills”. However, my clock was ticking so I simultaneously made attempts in spiritual, behavioral, stress, diet and supplements to help boost my fertility. To see breakdown of the basic MUSTS of fertility, see my article on: Lifestyle changes for fertility 35+.

I read several different articles and books and even scientific journals to try and self-diagnose my fertility issues. I’ll include a list of my favorites and references at the bottom or in the text as necessary. And really I do believe you should have a very healthy, varied diet to achieve optimum nutrition, and in addition to taking supplements, I have focused on improving my diet to include more of these specific nutrients, but I’ll save the food lists for another article.

OF COURSE EVERY SITUATION IS SPECIFIC, CHECK WITH YOUR CARE PROVIDER ABOUT EVERYTHING YOUR PLANNING ON TAKING OR ALREADY TAKING WHILE PREGNANT. I HAD ALL MY SUPPLEMENTS CLEARED BY BOTH A HOMEBIRTH MIDWIFE, AN OBGYN AND A MIDWIFE IN THE CLINIC.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a “miracle nutrient”. It supports so many bodily functions necessary to achieve balanced hormone levels meaning, an optimum menstrual cycle. And 80% of people are deficient in magnesium.

  • Magnesium supports sleep and relaxation. Taken before bed, it helps you to achieve a restful night’s sleep and combats stress.
  • Magnesium balances your sex hormones: it 1) balances Estrogen and controls FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which stimulate the ovaries to release eggs, 2) balances low-progesterone – a common symptom of short luteal phases (which I was having problems with) 3) relieves PMS symptoms because magnesium naturally drops before your period.
  • It reduces inflammation – increasing chances of successful IVF
  • Magnesium is necessary in several cellular processes that combat the effects of aging (like lowered fertility)

My story – I listened to a podcast on Fertility Friday called, “The Magnesium Miracle” by Dr. Carolyn Dean, which is also a book. Since I was having problems with short luteal phases, I decided it was worthwhile. I had a supplement in the house called MegaMag by Trace Minerals that my husband bought but never took because he didn’t like the taste. Every evening sometime after 7pm or so I put a dropper full of it mixed in with a splash of juice, soda water and stevia. And couldn’t taste a thing other than my yummy drink.

I think Magnesium reduced my changes of morning sickness

When I ran out of MegaMag I bought Sun Warriors Magnesium. I liked them both equally. I did this for about 2 months before I got pregnant. Of course, after successfully conceiving I had to look up all my supplements and decide along with my midwives, which ones I should still take. And to my very very big surprise, I had ZERO morning sickness. Upon researching this a little, magnesium is actually indicated to help reduce nausea in early pregnancy. So – I decided to thank my lucky stars that my magnesium levels we so high from taking the supplement.

Magnesium for Constipation (especially in early and late pregnancy)

Magnesium is also known for being a laxative (think epsom salt). However, most dietary supplements are now made to avoid this side effect. In the case of constipation (like in pregnancy), you may want to try a type of magnesium that helps relieve constipation (like magnesium citrate). Magnesium citrate helps pull water into your intestines from other areas of the body. So make sure you are getting extra water and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. It is also recommended by some to only take it as needed (try not to become dependent or take it every single day).

My story – In early – mid pregnancy, I became constipated. When my caregivers put me on Ferrous Sulfate – Iron pills, this became worse. Right away, I started taking liquid Calcium Magnesium Citrate with Vitamin D3, available at my local health food store, under the brand name Solgar. They have a few different flavors like blueberry and strawberry which are pleasant. I take 1 tablespoon at bedtime most nights. This specific combination of nutrients is great for pregnancy since Calcium is a key nutrient your baby needs to grow bones. The magnesium citrate helps with the transportation of calcium. It also stimulates a hormone called Calcitonin, which aids in the flow of calcium into the bones. Vitamin D3 also helps with the body’s absorption of calcium. So this supplement is 3x – helps you sleep, relieves constipation, and increases calcium stores and absorption.

Non-constipating iron supplements:

I’m going to write a quick post of avoiding & treating constipation in pregnancy, but quickly let me mention the wonders of taking Floradix. This was recommended to me by my homebirth midwife instead of my midwife at the clinic. It is a liquid, highly absorbant and non constipating iron supplement safe for pregnancy. I switched to Floradix Iron & Herbs in the middle of my second trimester and was no longer regularly constipated. On my follow-up iron level tests, my midwives said I was doing great iron wise for pregnancy and to keep doing what I was doing. Although floradix is more $$ than the iron supplements prescribed to me ($25/month v. free) I would gladly pay $1 a day to be regular! I’m now in my 3rd trimester and starting to get constipated again – so the magnesium is circling back into my weekly routine. Hope this helps!

Resources:

Magnesium and Fertility

https://www.uconnfertility.com/2020/02/boost-your-fertility-with-this-essential-mineral/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28869206/

Magnesium and male fertility

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-009-0057-8_69

Magnesium and morning sickness:

https://www.foxnews.com/health/preventing-morning-sickness-through-diet

Magnesium citrate:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322588#is-it-safe

More articles to come on the benefits of:

Zinc 8mg/day

Vitamin C

Fish Oil (Krill Oil)

L-cartinine

Acetlt-carnitine

L-arginine

CQ10

Vitamin B Complex

Green Drinks 1-2x a day – Spirulina, Chlorella

Yellow Maca

Men

CQ10 – sperm motility 100mg 2x/day

Vitamin C

Fish Oil

L-carnitine – 2g/day

L-acetly carnitine 1g/day

Lycopene

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My sourdough starter journey

I’ve caught the sourdough bug. But the problem is, I still haven’t wrapped my head around it completely. So I’ve been doing some experimenting. And this is basically my notes, journal, blog. Hopefully at some point, I’ll re-write this all to be instructional but for now. It is what it is.

How do I feed my starter?

At the moment I have a starter my friend gave me, which I keep in the fridge for a week at a time. It needs to be fed (which you can do when you bake a batch of bread) reserving some active, fed starter for next batch. But this week I still have bread left over from last week. So I’m trying to figure out how to just feed it enough to make sure it retains it’s activity enough to hibernate in my fridge another week. There are far too many conflicting ideas on the internet. So, I’m documenting my journey, my dough ups and downs. And I know soon I’ll figure it all out.

What is discard, when do I get it and what do I do with it?

To try and get the hang of it, I’m feeding them 2x a day, and observing them until they obviously double in size within a 4-8 hour window. Which is when they are supposed to be “ripe” for leavening bread. Each feeding so I can keep the amount of starter in the jar manageable, and not just growing exponentially, I have what is called “discard”, or less than fully active sourdough starter. Meaning, it contains wild yeast, it is sour, but it’s probably not in the state where it can leaven something by itself. Which is where – sourdough discard recipes come into play! You need to “discard” some of this flour & water mixture, so that you can replenish the remainder of the starter and keep a manageable amount of material in the jar, with minimal flour waste. Once your starter is active enough, and you use most of it for your recipe, you don’t really need to discard anymore. Unless you have too much to store.

How often and how many times do I have to feed my sourdough starter that was refrigerated?

What happens with different types of flour?

Feeding #1: Monday AM: My first step was to take the starter she gave me out of the fridge and separate it into 2 starters, one fed with equal parts by weight whole wheat flour and another fed the same ratio 1:1:1 with plain white flour. I did this because I’m curious how it reacts to whole wheat, and also because I want to make more whole wheat breads. After feeding them both, I noticed that they were active, but using the rubber band method, they rose, but didn’t double in size. Now I thought maybe it’s because I fed it 1:1:1 when the recipe she gave me calls for about 1:4 (flour):6 (water). This larger ration is supposed to give the starter more food for a quicker rise. Also maybe it didn’t double because I didn’t let it come to room temperature first? But there were no starter maintance articles I saw that talked about letting it come to room temperature before “counting” the hours to doubling.

Feeding #1.5 so after about 8 hours, discarded all but 1/2 cup of each (and made blueberry sourdough muffins with the discard). The strange thing was the whole wheat starter was more active than the white starter. So I decided to just add a little more water and flour to the white starter (feeding 0.5) but not the whole wheat starter – and I let them sit out over night (in the draft free oven) to see if they would rise more. It looked like they had, but they caved in over that time period and we’re back down in size.

Feeding number 2.5 Tuesday 8 AM: So in the morning I feed them again 1:1:1 by weight, but I always add a little extra water just because it the starter seems really stiff when do 1:1:1. This time they rose again nicely, but again didn’t quite double in size by the time 8 hours went by.

Feeding # 3.5 Tuesday 4pm: So I discarded all but .5 cups or about 100 grams of each again. And then fed them again 1:1:1 by weight. At this point I have almost 2 cups of discard. So I made up a delicious banana bread recipe (based on this recipe) to use the discard in. I put them back in the oven with the pilot light on intermittently and a thermometer. It’s between 70-80 degrees in there. After about 3 hours it rose to almost double, but not quite, and then fell back down again. Does this mean it peaked? Should I feed one more time?

This article talks about needing to feed up to 3 times every 8-12 hours to reactivate a refrigerated starter enough to leaven bread. But, the recipe my friend gave me, just has me remove 1/2 cup from fridge, has me feed it 1:4:6 (or 1/2 starter, 2 cups water, 2 cups flour) for 6-12 hours until that doubles or triples, and then has me build up a bread recipe from that the next morning. And it worked fine.

Observation Tuesday 9pm – after 5 hours into the 2nd feeding… Both failed the float test. They havent risen again. Do I leave them over night? It’s too early to feed them again? What are my next steps.

I left them out overnight Tuesday, fed them again first thing Wednesday around 8am. By about 11:30 they both passed the float test. 1 teaspoon in warm water! Hallejuah! I finally get it. It looked like they had risen almost half but not exactly. So I realized, “double” is not an exact. Almost double works too. I left them out, this time for 24 hours (since this is all an active starter needs) before the next feeding. The next morning, Thursday, I fed them one more time, let them sit out fot 1-2 hours and them put them in the fridge because I knew I couldnt keep up with feeding schedule for this weekend.

Saturday night, I took them out of the fridge to get ready to bake with them the next day. Within 1 hour of warming up they were already showing signs of life with no feeding! Hopefully I wont have to reactivate them with 3 feedings before they are ready to leaven bread. I am having a hard time with all this discard. I just want to keep baking!

So tonight, Saturday, I discarded all but 200 g from my white starter and 150 from my brown starter and fed again. Tomorrow I am hoping they are active and I have enough volume to make whole wheat buns and bread. (hopefully I have enough flour). And then I experimented with discard again.

I’m trying to make this recipe for cinnamon buns, but 1/3 discard is all it called for! That’s crazy because I am swimming in discard from my experiments last week. I doubled the recipe, and then replaced some of the flour and milk with more discard.

I am using this rule of thumb from King Arthur on substituing flour for starter in a specific recipe….

I’m using 8 ounces of ripened sourdough starter. So that means I need to reduce the flour by 4 ounces (to 8 3/4 ounces); and reduce the liquid by 4 ounces by eliminating the water (2 ounces), as well as 2 ounces of the milk

So for the double cinnamon bun recipe, I used these proportions. I will write out the recipe later if it is bomb.

So instead of 5 cups flour and 2 cups milk, in addition to starter, I used 3 cups white flour (18 ounces), 1/2 cup whole heat flour, 1.5 cups milk, 10 ounces whole wheat starter discard. well see how it turns out!

Sunday 4/11

Fed starters at 8pm Saturday night. For buns need active starter by 7pm, a total of 2 cups stater, feed white starter again at 3pm. For whole wheat bread recipe, need active starter around 2:30pm. Feed whole wheat starter around 10.

How long does discard stay good for?

up to a week in the fridge, indefinitely if frozen.

My goal is just to intellectually and tactically understand this process so I can use any recipe with confidence.

Resources:

https://www.breadandbasil.nyc/sourdough/sourdough-starter#discard=

Sourdough banana bread

This is a delicious recipe using active sourdough discard, ripe bananas, wholewheat flour, oat flour, flax eggs and coconut sugar. With stevia sweetened chocolate chips and farm grown macadamia nuts, this recipe is addictive. I made two loafs pans, and 3/4 of one was gone the first night, just me (6 months pregnant) and my husband.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Bread, Dessert, Snack
Servings 2 loaves
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 4 flax eggs each "egg" is 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water,
  • 500 g ripe bananas about 10 small, 5 medium/large
  • 1 large splash vanilla
  • 2 cups hydrated, active sourdough starter
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted, or liquid
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • macadamia nuts and chocolate chips to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl or stand-up mixer break apart bananas by hand. Add sugar, vanilla, and flax eggs and cream until well combined.
  • Add starter, oil, flour, salt, baking powder and mix until well combined.
  • Fold in nuts or chocolate chips.
  • Pour into 2 oiled loaf pans
  • Bake in preheated oven at 350° F for 60 minutes until knife comes out clean. If the tops start to get too dark, cover with foil.
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Vegetable and Salmon Chowder

salmon and veggie choder

This Garden Vegetable and Salmon Chowder is an excellent way to use up some of that gallon of milk in the fridge. It is also tasty way to incorporate affordable and nutritious frozen salmon, and use up some of those garden veggies! I used to think making chowder was sort of… hard and that chowders had to be unhealthy because they contained lots of cream. But I’ve recently discovered that I can make a yummy chowder with just a little flour and milk. The flavor comes from the butter and the fresh herbs.

Is there any such thing as too many veggies?

Whenever I make soup, I have this tendency to want to throw in as many vegetables as I can in. As much celery, corn, veggies, and onion as possible, and peppers and and and! I always ask my husband, “am I allowed to add in red pepper to the salmon, now corn chowder?” I meant to add our green beans in this one too but I forgot! If my leeks were ready I would have included them too. And if he let me, I’d sliver some kale in there, but I know I’d get complaints. In short, I have to fight myself to fit more veggies in, but still honor the delicate balance of ingredients.

Will this salmon chowder recipe be good without fresh dill?

I love that I’ve finally figured out it is easy to grow fresh dill here in Hawaii. And now it just self-seeds in my garden, I don’t even have to keep a rotation. I’m sure this recipe would be good without the corn, or the peppers, or the onion, leeks, etc. But I don’t know how rounded it would be without the dill. Dried dill should work ok. If you don’t have either, my next step would be to try it with fresh thyme (or dried). Without those two, I’m sure it would still be yummy, lots of black pepper and make sure your broth flavor is robust.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Of course you can! Try whatever gluten-free flours you have on hand for thickening. BUT, thicken at the end instead of making a “roux”. Remove some of the broth (1/2 – 1 cup strained with slotted spoon), and add a 2 or so until mixture becomes a loose paste, add back to soup. I would try the finer flours first as opposed to grainy gluten-free flours. I’d start with potato starch or flour. If I didn’t have that my next bet would be tapioca starch, rice flour, cassava flour. Just be careful to add less than you think because sometimes gluten-free flours can be “gluey”.

So how is this recipe healthy?

I’m 6 months pregnant this week and in my opinion this soup is the PERFECT way to spend my calories. It is full of the 3 most important nutrients: Protein, Calcium and Iron. The omega-3 fatty acids from the salmon, the protein and calcium from the milk, along with vitamin C from the red peppers. Add in some fiber from the celery and corn and you have a really nutritiously packed meal. I could eat 3 bowls of it (and I sorta did!)

salmon and veggie choder

Salmon and Garden Vegetable Chowder

An easy and delicious soup made with several ingredients you are likely to have on hand. Pair with some yummy homemade bread for a filling and delicious meal.
No ratings yet
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large onion
  • 4 medium celery stalks
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped red pepper about 1 large or several small
  • 2-4 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 ½ cups corn frozen or garden fresh
  • 4-6 cups broth whatever you have, fish, veggie or chicken
  • 1 – 1 ½ pounds Wild Caught Salmon cut into 1/2 in pieces
  • 2 cups milk skim, 1%, 2%, whole, whatever you have on hand just not dairy free in this recipe.
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh dill chopped about 3-4 tablespoons and extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat large pot to medium and melt butter
  • Add celery, onion and pepper and saute about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile peel and chop potatoes
  • Once the veggies are soft, add broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are soft. ~15 minutes
  • Add corn and salmon cut into 1/2 inch pieces (be careful of bones)
  • Simmer for 5 minutes or so until corn and salmon are cooked.
  • Add milk and dill, bring back up to a hot but not boiling temp.
  • Strain some of the liquid off (about a cup or so) into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons or more flour and whisk until you get a thick liquid without clumps. Add back into soup and stir to incorporate.
  • Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and turn to low or remove from heat (once flour is added you need to make sure you still frequently to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Serve hot with a piece of fresh sourdough bread!
Keyword Corn, Milk, Salmon
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Moist, oil free, healthy zucchini muffins with walnuts

I used to make zucchini bread when I lived on the East coast. Unfortunately, zucchini doesn’t grow well (at least for us) here in wet Hawaii. But Costco has organic ones every once in a while so I get them to augment my garden veggie harvest. The recipe for zucchini bread my step-mom and I used to make called for 1/2 of the amount of usual oil in applesauce. It also called for a fair amount of zucchini as we always had a bumping harvest in CT. (I hate those veggie muffin recipes that call for 1/2 cups!)

I adapted this recipe for muffins and replaced all the oil with applesauce as an experiment. Why? Because I’m really trying to hone in on my diet. I get a lot of healthy fat from avocados, nuts, and coconut. So I figured not all my muffins need to add refined oils. Super moist muffins that are reminiscent of the taste of zucchini bread but with texture of moist banana bread. These are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber with whole wheat flour, oats and omega-3 rich walnuts. Perfect as an addition to a whole-foods well balanced diet.

Healthy Zuchinni Muffins with Walnuts (oil free, dairy-free, vegan option)

No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Servings 15 jumbo muffins
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 4 small apples cooked and blended to make 1 cup applesauce
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk unsweetened, or other milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2⅔ cups whole wheat flour
  • cup coconut flour
  • 1 ⅓ cup quick oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups shredded zuchinni
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions
 

  • mix the wet ingredients in medium bowl (eggs, apple sauce, maple syrup, vanilla, milk)
  • mix dry ingredients in large bowl (flours, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and soda)
  • mix wet into dry, without over mixing
  • fold in zucchini and nuts
  • bake in an oven preheated to 375° F for 30-40 minutes, and let it cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy warm but my favorite is cold.
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Blueberry muffins with Greek Yogurt and Oats

This is a quick and dirty recipe dump! Looking for creative ways to satisfy my sweet tooth while getting healthy carbs and protein! It is also low in fat (comparatively) and has whole grains! I based this recipe off of Cookie & Kate’s Healthy Blueberry Muffin Recipe. Hope you enjoy. IF you like this recipe you may also like my Gluten-free chocolate Yogurt Muffins or my Blueberry Banana Spelt Muffin recipe.

Blueberry Muffins made with Greek Yogurt and Oats

No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 12 jumbo muffins or 24 small muffins
Calories 271 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Mix flours, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and bone broth powder
  • Mix eggs, oil, yogurt, maple syrup and sugar.
  • Fold in blueberries
  • Baking in line or greased muffin tins, or in silicone muffin molds for ~30 minutes at 375° F

Notes

Vitamin A 1% DV
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 55%
Iron 3%

Nutrition

Serving: 12jumbo muffinsCalories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 12gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 398mgPotassium: 141mgFiber: 4gSugar: 21g
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Gluten-free Chocolate Yogurt Muffins

This was one of my best muffin recipes yet! Super moist muffins, slightly sweetened. While warm the tasted like a blend between brownies and cake. Yum! I’ll finish the instructions soon!

Chocolate yogurt muffins

No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Calories

Ingredients
  

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cup oat flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup baking cacoa powder

Wet ingredients

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp ground flax (mixed with 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened) or any milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar or more to taste for sweeter muffins.
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 small bananas mashed
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs

Instructions
 

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
  • Add the wet into the dry and stir until combined
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and enjoy warm, cold or reheated.
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