Fighting A Cold Naturally (plus K’s Honey Lollipops recipe)

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Ugh! Being sick is no fun at all…especially when your little one is sick with you! It’s one thing to fight a cold on your own but watching your little one suffer can be unbearable at times.

I can count the fingers on one hand how many times K has gotten sick in the two and a half years of her life, and this past week was the first time she’s had to fight it on her own. I used to be able to nurse her through those rough days and nights and help boost her immunity. But those nursing days came to an end earlier this year. So…what was I to do?

I went through my “how to fight a cold” checklist in my head: homemade bone broth, lemon, raw honey, garlic, turmeric, coconut oil, probiotics and lots and lots of sleep! Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and…well, we’ll see how the sleep goes! I felt prepared to help both K and I win this battle!

So with my crockpot filled with some ACV, water and pasture-raised knuckle beef bones on high for the first few days, K and I managed to hang in there during the day between her coughs, sneezes, sniffles and her shouting “boogs” (short for, “tissue Mama!”) every few minutes. We constantly drank hot lemon tea, bone broth infused with garlic, turmeric, coconut oil and lemon juice and ate Bubbies’ sauerkraut (her favorite). Thankfully she was chipper all day long, filling our time with imaginary play, painting and playing basketball by making slam dunks in our laundry basket.

As for nights, the first few were a huge struggle. Tossing and turning, being waken by her congested coughs and stuffed nose, and running a high temp of 103, all poor little K could do was cry and try soothe herself back to sleep. The nights were miserable for all of us. I rubbed some garlic oil onto her feet and covered them with socks and turned up the humidifier on high, hoping to help draw the toxins out of her body while opening up her lungs. And as she slept for increments of 20-30 minutes at a time, I would lie there and pray, asking God for healing and for her fever to break.

With two almost sleepless nights, I felt like I was losing this battle. My health wasn’t getting any better (mainly due to the lack of sleep) and K’s didn’t seem to be progressing either. But thankfully, things turned around on the morning of day 3.

K woke up with a temp of 98.7 and while she looked a lot better, her raspy voice and congested cough said it all. She had a sore throat and was miserable. At that point, I took out my jar of organic raw honey and after giving K half a teaspoon that morning, I quickly realized that it did make her throat feel better…almost instantly! But…and here’s the BUT…it also made her HYPER!!! She rarely has any sort of sugar to begin with, but a full on gulp of it made her CRAZY!!! She ran around and her slam dunks in the laundry basket became SUPER slam dunks with loud shouts and squeals that I’m sure my neighbors loved to hear at 7am. “Honey, honey, more honey Mama!” was all I heard for the next hour or two.

At that point, I had to think of a more practical way to help soothe K’s throat opposed to feeding what was turning into a honey monster with spoonfuls of more honey by the hour. Ah ha! What about a honey lollipop? I googled “homemade honey lollipops” and came across a ton of great recipes. At this point, all I wanted was a quick and easy recipe I could whip up in 5 minutes. So I simplified all the recipes out there, gave this one a try and LOVED it!

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K’s Honey Lollipops
Paleo, refined-sugar-, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, gluten-free

This recipe takes about 15 minutes (5 minutes cooking plus 10 minutes cooling time) and makes about a dozen pops

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
small pot
metal spoon
parchment paper or silpat
lollipop sticks
candy thermometer

Ingredients:
1/2 C honey

Directions:
1. Place honey into the pot and put it on a medium-low flame
2. Stir and wait until your thermometer reads 300 degrees F and remove from heat
3. Allow to cool until honey is somewhat gloppy and formable when poured
4. Using your metal spoon, pour small 1″ diameter round dollops onto paper/silpat and place lollipop stick on top, rolling it to make sure the top is covered in honey
5. Wait until pops are cooled before removing and then begin licking! Wrap extra pops in parchment paper, seal them in a plastic bag and store in the fridge for later enjoyment!

After a few more days of more bone broth, lemon tea, ACV water, honey lollipops and R&R for the two of us, I am proud to say that K and I finally beat the cold!!! Today was our first full day out and about and both K and I were able to enjoy every minute of it ~ tissue free!

So…what to make of all this? Well, I’m thankful I haven’t yet had to give any meds to K with all the natural home remedies available and God’s healing hand. But when that day comes, at least I can say we fought the battle with all we had…and at least enjoyed K’s honey lollipops through it all 🙂

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Cupcakes, Balloons and the Birthday Girl (My New Favorite Chocolate Cupcake & Frosting Recipe)

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Towards the end of August, Baby K began counting down the days until early September…a very exciting time for her…K’s 2nd birthday. Each day, K would ask me to help cut off and read one of the birthday links on her colorful paper birthday chain (made by friends and family on her first birthday). Each message brought joy and smiles to both K and me as we read sweet notes that read something like “You make me smile” and “I’m so proud of you.” We glued each link into her notebook and counted how many days were left until her birthday.

Everyday she would sing, “Happy birthday to K, happy birthday to Mama, happy birthday to Dada, happy birthday to (everyone she knew),” followed by “Make a wish. Blow out candle. Take it off. Eat it. Yaaaaay!” (while clapping her hands). She couldn’t wait to celebrate! Everything in our house was a cupcake, a candle or birthday related. Her plastic strawberry toy was a strawberry cupcake. Her straw in her smoothie was a candle. Her play telephone was meant for calling her Nana, Papa or Grandma to invite them to her party.

Fingers crossed she wouldn’t request anything extravagant, I asked K, “What would you like for your birthday?” Without even thinking, she simply stated, “Balloons and cupcakes.” Grateful and relieved, I assured her we could have balloons and cupcakes for her birthday. Balloons and cupcakes? Easy peasy! Right? Well, the balloons were easy as she named the colors of the rainbow, all of which were available for purchase at our nearest party store. Cupcakes, on the other hand were a bit of a challenge once K described what she thought was a cupcake fit for her birthday (more like a queen!). Everyday she would ask me, “Mama make cupcakes for K’s birthday? Cho-lit (chocolate), raw-berry (strawberry) cupcake with ra-berry (raspberry), cho-lit frosting and sprinkle coconut on it.”

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Finding a gluten- and grain-free cupcake without refined sugar was the first obstacle, and then to create some sort of frosting? Just researching alone took more time than I thought. After about three days of browsing through recipes, I found this Chocolate Cupcakes recipe on Elana’s Pantry, tinkered with it to make them just right (used organic virgin coconut oil instead of the oil called for and used 25% less honey than called for). And boy, were these babies AMAZING!!! Light and fluffy yet moist and chocolatey…I could eat one a day for the rest of my life…especially when topped with the buttercream frosting I whipped up. I thought…butter…cream…well, that’s easy! I literally creamed softened organic butter with my electric hand mixer and then added some cocoa powder and a drizzle of raw honey for the chocolate frosting and some fresh raspberries and a drizzle of raw honey for the raspberry frosting. Heaven in my mouth…and K’s! Once she tasted these (topped with coconut), she was more than satisfied with our flavor selection for the party.

We were only days away and K’s anticipation and excitement level grew. Her friend, baby M, gave K her first birthday gift of the year and it could not have been more perfect…a Melissa & Doug Bake and Decorate Cupcake Set! Now K was role-playing her birthday song and making wishes with these cute frosted wooden cupcakes in liners, even topped with candles! She was SO ready for her birthday celebration!!!

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A dozen rainbow colored balloons, party decor and 100 frosted cupcakes later, we were ready to PARTY!!! On her big day at her favorite Clover Park in Santa Monica, all K hoped and dreamed for on her birthday came true. That morning she picked out her pink, fluffy birthday dress (a hand-me-down we received only a few days before ~ what perfect timing!), our matching sparkly pink TOMS and proudly wore the birthday party hat I put together the night before. Family, friends, balloons, cupcakes and being surrounded by her loved ones singing “Happy Birthday” to her, K felt so special and overwhelmed with love. Her face was full of joy and minutes after her birthday song, chocolate and raspberry buttercream frosting! She couldn’t get enough of it…even after all five cupcakes she devoured (apparently some friends and family decided to sneak them over to her, all of which I thought was one of the two cupcakes she originally had)!

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It was a very special day for K and thanks to her friends and family (and her Grandma’s videoing of the birthday song and K eating her cupcakes), this day will always be remembered by the birthday girl.

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**Santa Monica Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Zoodles of Fun With Octopus Friends

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I was at the Virginia Park Farmers Market with my family last weekend and was thrilled to see all the fall vegetables starting to come in! As I scanned the rainbow of organic produce on the tables, I couldn’t help but stop at the beautiful zucchini and yellow squash, just picked the day before. Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins…Squash Fritters…Zucchini Pancakes…my mouth began to water. The dark green and deep yellow skinned squash were calling my name! So I walked over, asked for a few samples and all I could hear was crunch, crunch, crunch followed by, “Mmmm, Mama. Soooo dee-lish-ish!!! May I have more please Mama?” So I picked up a handful of zucchini and yellow squash, already excited to make something yummy for K and the family!

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Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a recipe e-book collaboration with a company and they asked me to create 10 toddler/kid-friendly dishes, one of which I will share today: Zoodles of Fun With Octopus Friends – Octopus Hot Dogs & Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) With Peas. I hope you and your little one enjoys this gluten- and grain-free pasta!

Here’s what I did:

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Took two hotdogs and carefully sliced them into little octopi..

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I carved cute faces on them with my knife and a toothpick and then adored them for a few minutes…

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Until K found a few, got hold of ’em and the fun began! She had a few minutes of play while I heated them up on the pan…

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K turned the vegetable spiraler and laughed as the Zoodles came out of it…

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After sautéing the Zoodles with some butter, I threw in some frozen peas and then topped the dish with the friendly octopi 🙂

While I loved eating this tasty noodle dish (one of the few I get to enjoy with my eczema/allergies), I savored the HUGE smile on K’s face as she giggled and then smiled back at the octopi on her plate!

Octopus Hot Dogs & Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) With Peas
Paleo, refined-sugar-, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, gluten-free

This recipe takes about 15 minutes and makes 1 adult-sized serving, 1-2 kid-sized servings or 2-3 toddler servings (all depending on their appetite).

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
Cutting board & knife
Vegetable spiraler  or Julienne Peeler
Small bowl
Small sauce pan & spoon
Toothpick
Serving dish/bowl

Ingredients:
1 hotdog link (I use Applegate’s organic nitrate-free 100% beef dogs)
3-4 Tbsp filtered water
1 medium-sized zucchini squash
1 Tbsp grass-fed butter or coconut oil
1/4 C frozen peas

Directions (Hot Dogs):
1. Using your knife, slice the hotdog link in half so that you have two half sized links.
2. Leaving 3/4″ at the end of each link (where the casing ends are), slice the rest of the link in half, making two long tentacles.
3. Slice the two tentacles in half again making four tentacles on each octopus.
4. Slice each tentacle in half so that each octopus has 8 long tentacles (if your little one doesn’t eat a full-sized hot dog, you can save the other octopus for later or make smaller sized ones like I did).
5. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of filtered water into your sauce pan so that it covers the bottom and put it over a medium-low flame. Once the water starts to bubble, place your octopus hotdogs in and rotate until they are tender.
6. Once ready, remove and let cool. Using your toothpick, poke holes to make little eyes and using your knife, carefully carve out smiles!

Directions (Zoodles WIth Peas):
1. Rinse and dry your zucchini, cut off its ends and use your “pasta” tool to create Zoodles (if you’re using the vegetable spiral, get your little one involved by turning the handle and placing the Zoodles into your small bowl).
2. Cut Zoodles into an appropriate length for your child (1 1/2″ is just right for K).
3. Rinse your saucepan clean, put your butter or oil in the pan and place over a medium-low flame.
4. Saute your Zoodles until they are al dente and then remove and let cool.
5. Put peas in the sauce pan, stir them around until tender and then remove from heat.
6. Once cool, lay the Zoodles onto a dish, sprinkle some peas on top and joyfully pop in your happy octopi for your little one (or yourself) to enjoy!

**Santa Monica Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

My June Gloom, July Trials and August Miracle (long post about my recent eczema journey)

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I am writing this post not only because I now can type with both my hands, but also to provide empathy and hope from my experience to those who are suffering with hand eczema (Dyshidrotic Eczema or Pompholyx).

Jack Johnson’s song “With My Own Two Hands” brings tears to my eyes as I reflect upon my journey with eczema over the past year and a half. This beautifully written piece uses the simple phrase of “I can…with my own two hands,” to illustrate the positive impact one can make upon the world and an individual.

My right hand has been through a traumatic journey over the past 18 months. This past June, however, was the worst it has ever been, not only keeping me home during some of the most beautiful summer days and off the computer (which explains why I haven’t posted these past few months) but also holding me back from taking care of my family in the best ways I knew how. Here is how my journey began…

Only months after baby K was born did I experience one of the worst cases of eczema in my life (I’ve dealt with this horrible skin problem since I was little – dry or red itchy spots of skin that turn into swollen unbearably itchy red bumps when scratched which turn into open wounds when scratched A LOT, taking months to heal before the cycle begins again). In late January of 2013 during a very stressful time in life, I noticed a few teeny tiny bumps appear on the left side of my right index finger. I figured they would just go away but little did I know that these tapioca-like blisters would spread, eventually erupt and leave my entire finger dry and blistered over the course of a few weeks. Watching my finger day to day and carefully observing to discover why this was all happening, I quickly learned that anytime my finger was exposed to water, the bumps would spread. I also noticed that keeping it covered in a thick layer lotion was the only way to keep it from getting dry and cracked.

So what did that mean for me? Complete torture! Having a very active 5 month old who constantly needed diaper changes and required to be swaddled tightly and rocked to sleep every few hours, it was definitely not easy to care for baby K. Thankfully my husband graciously took on the role of giving K a bath in the evenings and helped me a ton with making sure all the pieces for my breast pump (yes, there are at least a dozen) and bottles were practically sterilized when he washed them throughout the day (pumping mamas, you know what I mean!).

After a few months of getting used to living without using my index finger, things only became more difficult when the bumps began spreading around my entire finger. Great, right?! It was red, raw, bumpy and cracked all over…and I could not expose it to water which was especially hard when I primarily did the cooking and the dishes. So on went the disposable plastic gloves every time I needed to use my right hand. It was at that point I started doing a lot of research…A LOT of it! I felt like I was glued to the internet as I read through hundreds of blogs, forums and medical articles where tons of eczema sufferers shared similar stories. It really was the strangest thing finding out that there were other moms who developed this type of eczema (which I found is called Dyshidrotic Eczema or Pompholyx). Not only did I find comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one in the world facing this daily battle, barely making it as a mom, wanting to so badly take care of her baby, but it brought me hope after hearing that some of the moms were on the road to recovery.

Wanting to go the natural route, I tried a lot of the home remedies recommended by other Pompholx sufferers. This included warm salt water soaks, apple cider vinegar soaks, covering my finger with coconut oil and applying zinc based baby rash ointment. While the bumps/rash didn’t seem to spread, it didn’t seem to get any better. It was, however, taking over my life! Before I could go anywhere, I would spend up to an hour taking care of my finger and then covering it with the right bandages.

In the midst of my attempt to heal naturally, I was peer pressured into going to the doctor. I’ve never had a positive experience with doctors in my adulthood when it came to looking for a cure, but at this point, I just didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. And if there were a doctor out there to help shed some light on what I was supposed to do, I was hoping I’d find the right one. Recommended to visit this doctor in my neighborhood, I went in and he took a glance at my finger. He told me it was just plain old eczema and prescribed me a mild steroid cream and an ointment (Bactroban/mupirocin) to apply for the next week. I mentioned my concerns about Polypholx and shared my thought on “natural remedies” and he quickly dismissed that route, assuring me this was what would allow my hand to heal. So, over the next week, I diligently did as I was told and and towards the end of the 7 days, I noticed a complete difference. My skin started to clear up and new skin was beginning to form ~ a MIRACLE and HEALING!!! (or I thought).

After stopping the use of the ointment and steroid cream, my finger seemed to be great! Why didn’t I go the doctor’s sooner? I wouldn’t have had to suffer so terribly over the last few months! A week later, the bumps started to return. And they began to spread…rapidly. Within a few days, my fingers looked almost as they did before using the medications so I immediately called the doctor. When describing what was going on, he assured me that I hadn’t used the ointment and cream for the entire period of time it needed. He highly recommended I start over and continue using them for two weeks to make sure everything was completely cleared up. Satisfied with his recommendation, I started the routine again, this time with high hopes because I was able to see the difference it made the last time. After about five days, my finger looked great but I continued to diligently apply the medications. At the two week point, I was so happy to stop using the creams (especially because I learned that one of the side effects of the steroid was skin-thinning and I did NOT want my fingers to have any sort of problem again). I was thrilled, relieved and couldn’t believe my finger was better!!! Even though I still kept my finger out of the water, I was able to hold baby K with my two hands again, enjoy swaddling her before nap time and shake people’s hands when I greeted them.

I wish I could say that the story ended here and life was all good since then, but it was only the beginning…

A week later, the bumps came back and this time new bumps started to appear on my ring finger of that same hand. And it was only in time that they spread and looked worse than before. Now my entire right hand was basically out of commission and I was extremely upset, especially with the doctor. I didn’t even want to pick up the phone and ask him about it again because all I knew he would do was recommend a longer use or a stronger steroid. So, I went back to the drawing board and researched and researched and researched on the internet. After HOURS and HOURS of research, I began to find patterns and similarities with those who have seen healing in their hands (those which were a lot worse off than mine to start with). What I noticed was that true healing started from the inside out. There was no cream, medication or even natural remedy that one could apply to their skin to fully heal their eczema. They could all help, but it was all in addition to what was going on inside the body and the healing that took place there.

You are what you eat. I’ve heard it a ton of times, but this was the first time I actually really thought about the phrase and took a deeper look at it. I’ve always tried to eat healthy and stay fit by exercising and staying active on a daily basis. But I never thought about how that could affect one’s skin. I learned about inflammation and how sugars have that affect on the body/skin and how there are certain foods like tumeric that can help with that. I learned about the positive affects of collagen-rich bone stock and the importance of eating healthy saturated fats like grass-fed butter, virgin coconut oil and pasture-raised meat fats. I feasted my eyes on great knowledge about how our body’s cells could be restored through eating raw dairy and foods prepared in traditional ways and the impact fermented foods and probiotics have on one’s digestive system. And the main thing I learned is that if you make a change in your diet, it will take a LOT longer to notice a change in your body but it will be one that leads to true healing.

So where was I supposed to start? It was around this time the Paleo diet was claiming its name and after reading on it, it was probably one of the most easy-to-follow diets out there. I understood the diet as simply no grains, no starches, no beans, no sugars, no alcohol and no dairy. I decided to go for the challenge and with the exception of raw dairy (I became a fan of Weston A. Price during my early breastfeeding weeks) and I couldn’t believe how great my body was feeling. I not only lost a few pounds (weighing less than pre-pregnancy) but never found myself craving sweets (hard to believe since I have such a sweet tooth!). I kept this up for several months and felt on top of the world! Well, except for my fingers. They were just the same. But this time, I had hope. There was something inside of me telling me to believe that if I stuck this out, I would start to heal.

Over the next few months, I added Bragg’s Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar into my diet (a few teaspoons taken with a cup of water), fresh ginger added into my morning green smoothies, raw crushed garlic (left out for 15 minutes before adding it to my veggies or bone stock) and a few tablespoons of coconut oil added to my salads and soups. Come November 2013, I began to realize a huge change in my fingers. New skin was regenerating, my skin was hydrated and they weren’t red and raw any more! I couldn’t believe it ~ there was no turning back!

Until…Christmastime came along. With Christmas parties, special baked goods made just for our family and freshly baked gingerbread cookies calling my name, I let my diet slide a little bit here and there. And the first time I had a teeny tiny bit of sugar back in my diet, it led to immense cravings for sweets! And the availability of sweets (ones that were made with flours and gluten) were everywhere which made it extremely hard. On top of that, there were all the delicious homemade dishes that only come around once a year. December was definitely a setback for my hand and me. What was almost healed gradually began to transform into what it was only a month before.

With the new year ahead, I made a commitment to myself that I would get back on track with my diet and do whatever it took to help my hand heal. My fingers for the first time were swollen and cracked with tiny fluid-filled bumps all over. I could barely squeeze my hand into a fist so I resentfully resorted to applying a little bit of the steroid cream (just to get a head start on its healing). After applying it for a few days, the inflammation went away and I began to watch my skin heal. Remembering how it made it worse the last few times, I stopped applying the cream. Inevitably within a few days, my fingers got even worse. And with the cold, dry weather, the cracking just became worse. They were so bad that I had to apply Neosporin ointment every time skin broke so that it could heal before getting infected. So the next few months were a cycle for me: formation of bumps, bumps drying out, skin cracking, Neosporin, more bumps plus inflammation, steroid cream, healing for a few days, and then it would start all over again, getting worse every time.

Even with me getting back on track with my diet, my hand barely survived and seemed to get worse. I really didn’t understand! Changing my diet worked the last time and the only difference was that this time I applied the steroid cream. So, come May of this year, I began reading on the effects of steroid cream on ones body and how it could lead to horrible effects beyond the physical which includes steroid psychosis. It was at that point, I decided I would NEVER use the steroid cream again. Not only was it making my eczema worse, those mental effects really scared me.

JUNE GLOOM
From that day on, I did not resort to using the cream. When my fingers got at its worse (I learned that once you withdraw from the steroid treatment, your skin gets at its worse before the real healing can begin), I decided to let it ride out (which I never had before). I didn’t think my fingers could have been worse, but they were. They became unsightly, really. Especially when they became infected. They were so sore, raw, puffy, blistered, had an unsightly honey-like crust on them and I could barely move my fingers. I seriously did not know what to do besides not use the steroid cream. At this point, I just tried my best to keep them away from anything and everything and back on the internet for more research I went. For the first time, I discovered Manuka Honey and its benefits (Google it if you have the time!). I tried applying that for several weeks. After two weeks of sweet, sticky, gloppy fingers bandaged throughout the day, I learned that while it helped me regenerate new skin, it did not allow my skin to breathe which I found was needed for the eczema to heal. So, I was basically home all June, dealing with my hand. Not only did Baby K and I spend a lot of indoor time together while we made up games to play, she learned a LOT about honey, bandaids, gauze and paper tape.

JULY TRIALS
Next up, I decided to give apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s brand) a shot, this time diluting it with some filtered water to make sure it had the positive anti-bacterial/fungal and moisturizing effects without burning my skin. With almost no hope that this would ever go away, with lots of time, patience, ACV and prayer, I noticed the bumps on my fingers began drying up and once the scabs/crusts came off naturally, new beautiful skin was restored under them. At the same time, I decided to do an elimination diet so that I could pinpoint if any of the causes of the breakouts had to do with the foods I were eating at the time. Doing this diet wasn’t too hard since I was already on the Paleo diet and home all the time. But I sure missed my tomatoes, dairy and citrus (they were in season). After a few weeks of cutting most everything out of my diet, I began to add in a new food every three days, watching for any effects it had on my body. Quickly, I learned that I was allergic to foods in the Nightshade family (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers). A few weeks later I discovered my fingers broke out when I ate anything with citrus or gluten in it. I was so bummed but grateful to know that it was the foods that were causing the breakouts (in addition to touching water). Thankfully my body was fine with dairy and all the rest.

AUGUST MIRACLE
After a full month carefully observing how my skin responded to different foods, keeping a strict diet, applying ACV and praying for complete healing, God provided a MIRACLE and healed my hand from the inside out! Friends and family who saw my hand months before could not believe the healing that took place. My hands looked and felt brand new! They were smooth, hydrated and back to my regular skin tone. Not only did they look great, I was able to do things that I did over 18 months ago! I was in disbelief when I took a normal shower and was able to wash and scrub my hands together under running water. Giving baby K a bath for the first time in over a year brought so much joy to the both of us as we splashed, scrubbed and played in the water. And what I still am trying to convince myself that I was not dreaming was when I went swimming in the pool and was able to hold baby K in the water as she swam from my husband to me! Still amazed to this day, I have never been so appreciative of having two whole hands.

While this past year and half has been a rough journey, I have learned a lot about health, diet and how healing starts from the inside. On a deeper level, I’ve learned how to persevere through trials as a mother for her child’s sake, gained a deep compassion for those who are going through physical trials and learned not to take anything for granted, whether it’s my two hands or my pinky toe!

Since last August I have slipped up in my diet here and there and have been able to recover quickly with the new knowledge about how my body responds to various foods and environmental conditions. As I continue to deal with eczema and learn from my experiences, I will add to this post and hopefully this will help encourage someone who’s on a similar journey.

Chocolate Pudding (Paleo, refined-sugar-/dairy-/nut-/soy-/grain-/gluten-free)

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It’s extremely HOT out here in Santa Monica! We’ve been trying to beat the heat with icy cold treats like Coconut Sprinkled Chocolate Covered Bananas, Homemade Shamrock Shakes, and Coconut Pear Avocado Popsicles. One of K’s favorites that we enjoy making together is our Paleo, refined-sugar-/dairy-/nut-/grain-/gluten-free Chocolate Pudding! I remember someone telling me that you could make your own pudding so that it fits your needs (no refined sugar, additives, preservatives, etc.) so I thought I’d give it a shot. After doing some research on Paleo puddings and several tries with a few ingredients and my Vitamix, I think I figured out a perfect recipe (at least for us)! I LOVE how this recipe only needs a few ingredients and could be prepared within minutes. I like to make a large batch, divide it up in glass containers and place them in the fridge/freezer to serve later in the week. K especially likes it when I place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes before serving on a hot, hot day like today!

I have MANY versions of this pudding using a variety of spices and fruits but two of my favorites are coconut milk based and strawberry based…

Here’s what I did (coconut milk version):

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Gathered the ingredients and pureed them in my Vitamix for about 15 seconds…

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Had K slice and then chop some strawberries to use as a topping…

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Served about a half cup to K and she LOVED it, licking the bowl clean!

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I stored the rest in glass containers and placed them in the freezer for later.

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I also saved the pit, placed it in a water-filled mason jar with toothpicks and watched it grow in the windowsill (this is the one we just planted ours in a pot after 5 months and it’s now thriving outside in the sun)!

I hope you have a fun time experimenting with different versions of this chocolate pudding…please include your version in the comments below. We’d love to try a new one!

Chocolate Pudding (coconut milk-based)
Paleo, refined-sugar-, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, gluten-free

This recipe takes about 3 minutes and makes 2 servings (or 3 for a toddler)

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
blender with spatula
serving bowl & spoon
knife & cutting board (optional for fruit toppings)
glass (freezer) containers (optional for storage)

Ingredients:
1 peeled organic banana (the greener the healthier)
1 pitted organic ripe avocado
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 C coconut milk
fruit or coconut flakes for a topping

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients (except toppings) into the blender and puree.
2. Use spatula to remove putting and place into bowl/storage containers.
3. Slice/chop fruit and then sprinkle over pudding.
4. Enjoy immediately or place into the freezer for about 15 minutes for a frozen treat!

Chocolate Pudding (strawberry-based)
Paleo, refined-sugar-, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, gluten-free

This recipe takes about 3 minutes and makes 2 servings (or 3 for a toddler)

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
blender with spatula
serving bowl & spoon
knife & cutting board (optional for fruit toppings)
glass (freezer) containers (optional for storage)

Ingredients:
1 peeled organic banana (the greener the healthier)
1 pitted organic ripe avocado
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C organic strawberries (I use frozen ones)
fruit or coconut flakes for a topping

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients (except toppings) into the blender and puree.
2. Use spatula to remove putting and place into bowl/storage containers.
3. Slice/chop fruit and then sprinkle over pudding.
4. Enjoy immediately or place into the freezer for about 15 minutes for a frozen treat!

Coconut Avocado Pear Popsicles

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Looking for a healthy frozen treat for you and your family (baby included)? Or maybe something to help with your teething baby? I just discovered these icy creamy treats on The Spunky Coconut’s blog the other day and with organic avocados and pears in the fridge, I thought I’d give it a try. And for an added bonus, we just had to dip them in coconut flakes just like in my last recipe I posted. They’re not only rich in healthy fats and are full of fiber, they taste DELICIOUS!!! Baby K enjoyed her first popsicle this morning and we all LOVED them! I hope you (and/or your little ones) do too!

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Coconut Avocado Pear Popsicles
Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free
Adapted from The Spunky Coconut’s Avocado Pear Baby Food Pops

This recipe takes about 45 minutes or however long your freezer takes to freeze popsicles (10 min. prep & 35 min. + in the freezer)  and makes 4 popsicles

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
blender or food processor
popsicle molds (I used these Mickey Mouse ones) OR small Dixie cups, aluminum foil & popsicle sticks
thin spatula or teaspoon (for filling molds/cups)
small bowl

Ingredients:
2 ripe pears with skins removed (I used organic d’ anjou pears)
2 ripe avocados pitted and scooped
1/2 C finely shredded coconut flakes (I use Let’s Do Organic Coconut)

Directions:
1. Puree pear and avocado in blender/food processor.
2. Fill popsicle molds with puree (try to fill all the air pockets) .
3. If using cups, fill with puree 3/4 full and cover the with foil. Push popsicle sticks through the center of the foil, making sure the stick is 2/3 of the way down (make sure it does not touch the bottom).
4. Place into freezer. While waiting, pour coconut flakes into small bowl and set aside.
5. Once frozen, defrost for a few minutes and then remove popsicles (I ran some warm water over the molds for a minute before removing).
6. Dip popsicles into coconut flakes, using your fingers to coat them. If coconut flakes are not sticking, quickly run cold water over your pop and try again!
7. Serve immediately and enjoy on a hot day!

**Santa Monica Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

“CREAM!!!” (ice cream at Kippy’s that is)

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It’s been a reeeeally hot the last few days or so here in Santa Monica and thankfully we are able to beat the heat with our new ice cream shop discovery and some of my favorite homemade frozen treats (stay tuned this week for recipes)! Today’s blogpost will be all about K’s new favorite place to eat at…Kippy’s!

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Ever since our first visit to Kippy’s Ice Cream Shop celebrating K’s molars coming in at the end of April, K’s been begging for more “cream” as she calls it. Whenever she sees a picture of an ice cream cone, she shouts out, “CREAM!!!” with a huge smile on her face, followed by “moh, moh pease Mama!” (more, more please Mama!) As mentioned last February, K has been eating “ice cream” pretty much since she’s been born. She enjoys my frozen fruit, vegetable and herb-infused sorbets/ice creams that I whip up when experimenting with seasonal organic produce and my Vitamix in the kitchen.

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About a month ago, K’s Uncle Matt told us about Kippy’s and once I looked it up, I was excited to see that they are an ice cream shop that features organic non-dairy ice cream made only of fresh coconut cream, coconut water, raw honey, fresh fruit from local farms and/or cacao (no refined sugar, GMO’s, additives, etc. found here!). And as mentioned on their site, they drain, crack, and shred over 1000 organic coconuts a week and none of their frozen treats contain dairy, soy or nuts. They’re not only gluten-free and vegan but Paleo-approved (and I like that!!!).

Being a grain-free, real food Mama who makes her own organic coconut milk, coconut flour and uses coconut oil for baking and now oil-pulling, Kippy’s sounded like a dream come true. And after my first visit there, it was definitely a DREAM COME TRUE!!! (HEAVENLY as a matter of fact!)

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This adorable shop is located on Lincoln Blvd. on the border of Santa Monica and Venice, only a block or two away from my favorite workout spot, Cardio Barre. If you’re driving down Lincoln Blvd. from Santa Monica towards Abbott Kinney, you’ll see Kippy’s on the left with cute pictures of bees on its window. Outside its shop, you’ll see a chalkboard with Kippy’s colorfully written on it and inside you’ll find decorated with chalkboards bringing even more color on the walls with descriptions of the ingredients, health benefits and fun facts about how Kippy’s makes its ice cream.

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With flavors like Dark Chocolate, Coconut Honey, Strawberry, Orange Pop and Cappuccino (which tastes like coffee but really is caffeine Guatemalan Ramon dust ~ perfect for a nursing mama who misses her coffee like me!), you’ll want to try them all (with a silver spoon)! After picking out a few flavors to “mix & match” in one of their ceramic bowls, you can then top it off with a “magic shell” (coconut oil/cacao/honey), whipped (coconut) cream, nuts or even some fresh bee pollen…absolutely delish!!!

So…you’re probably thinking…is it as good as it sounds?!?!

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I’d have to say EVEN BETTER!!! The generously scooped ice cream was creamy, the flavors…well exactly as you know ’em since you’re literally getting the freshest organic fruits blended into sweet, heavenly coconut. We enjoyed our Coconut Honey Yogurt and Dark Chocolate ice cream. It was the PERFECT ice cream for K and me (and I’m sure for the 10-15 people in line out the door!).

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Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that Kippy’s also offers their homemade coconut cream, coconut water, chocolate truffles (similar to the truffles I like to make) and other vegan snacks to take to go.

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All in all, we fell in love with Kippy’s and ended up going back last weekend and took the family! This time, K even got her very own “kid-sized” scoop of fresh strawberry and chocolate chip ~ “Mmmmm! Cream!!!” is all she said between her smiles, bites of ice cream and licking her lips.

I hope you have the chance to visit Kippy’s when you’re in the area on a hot day! 

*photos that do not feature Baby K are from Kippy’s Facebook mobile uploads