Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A paleo buttery spread?

If you're like me, you probably shunned "buttery spreads" years ago. Country Crock, Promise, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter ... all are chock full of junk. Yuck.

Last week, however, I learned that a new buttery spread is on the market. And this buttery spread, the company tells me, is probably paleo compliant. By 'probably' I mean that they didn't call it paleo -- they just suggested that it might be and sent four giant tubs of the stuff so I could come to my own conclusion.

Meet Melt® and Honey Melt® Organic Buttery Spread.

Melt is made up of an organic oil blend, with virgin coconut oil taking center stage. It is soy free, gluten free, trans-fat free, fair trade, Kosher and non-gmo. All good things.

But is it paleo? Let's take a look at the facts ...
  1. It has an eight-month shelf life.
  2. It contains canola oil.
  3. It is processed.
  4. It contains 'natural butter flavor.'
For me personally, this adds up no -- primarily because of the canola oil, which I avoid (for reasons explained by Diane from Balanced Bites). However, paleo does not have to be a rigid set of rules/standards -- we are all on our own health journey and need to make food decisions based on our own experiences, needs and goals. Some people are low carb, some are not. Some enjoy occasional 'reminder days,' some do not (someone on Twitter introduced me to the phrase 'reminder days' -- I can't remember who it was, but I love it!). Some are OK with canola oil, some are not. So, even though Melt isn't OK for me ... it might be OK for you.

Anyway, despite seeing canola oil on Melt's ingredient list I went ahead and tried it so I could give my assessment (I'm not going to experience any major issues from a wee amount of canola oil, after all). The verdict: it tastes pretty good! Especially the Honey Melt. You know how coconut oil sometimes seems overwhelmingly tropical? Melt does not. The other oils in the blend (palm fruit, sunflower, flaxseed and that pesky canola oil) seem to balance it out. Melt also has a smooth/creamy texture, and it works well in recipes (yep, you can make a direct butter/Melt swap).

Nonetheless, it is still a packaged buttery spread and I firmly believe that we are all better off using real butter and/or unadulterated coconut oil. High quality butter is not 'bad fat' (as stated in Melt's marketing materials) and coconut oil (believe it or not) actually spreads pretty well on its own (without help from other oils and/or processing).

With all of that said, Melt is by far the healthiest buttery spread out there. If you have family members who are still suspicious of saturated fat and paleo, this might be a good transitional product as you work toward getting them on board with better nutrition. They might not be willing to give up bread right now -- but perhaps they'll spread Melt, rather than soy-laden Earth Balance, on their toast? That's a start! In fact, I used Melt to bake a loaf of (organic) wheat bread for my non-paleo husband. He loved it! Melt worked very well with our standard bread machine recipe.

How do you feel about butter? Would you rather use the real stuff or a buttery spread like Melt?

Monday, March 26, 2012

If I could turn back the clock ...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about all the things I've learned over the past few months and how much easier my baby's earliest months would have been if had only know x, y, or z about life with an infant before she was born. So, starting right now, I'm going to write a series of posts about some of the things I would do differently if I had the opportunity to turn back the clock. First up: diapers.

Diaper do-over
During my sixth month of pregnancy, I was obsessed with diapers. For some reason, I felt a huge sense of urgency when it came to establishing a diapering system. I had to have all the diapers we would need for the first few months, and they all had to be the same brand. The whole trying-out-various-diapers-to-find-the-one(s)-we-liked-best thing seemed annoying and inefficient to me. Well, live and learn. I wound up investing a few hundred dollars in Thirsties and I don't love them. They were OK for a while, but now they leak. And the quality is just "eh." We are currently using Earth's Best disposables while we decide on a new brand of cloth (we're leaning toward gDiapers). In hindsight, I would have started her off in disposables while I sampled a variety of cloth diaper brands. I mean, you can read and research and talk to all kinds of folks about diapers -- but until you are actually using them on your baby, it is impossible to know what you will like and what will work for you.

What was your experience with cloth diapers for your newborn? Did you stock up on a particular brand in the beginning? Did you start with disposables? Do you wish you had done things differently?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not so tired.

Me and my baby girl at the end of January (photo by my talented sister-in-law, Sheryl). She's grown a lot
since this photo was taken, and I can hardly believe she'll be five months old in a few days!

When I wrote my last blog post on February 8th, I was so tired I could not think straight. Months and month of sleep deprivation (dating back to last summer, really) had taken its toll. A few times, I was so tired I could barely muster the energy to snap the baby's diaper ... I remember just standing over the changing table, waiting for Carl to come in and finish the diapering job. I even missed a physical therapy appointment because I was too tired to drive. I needed sleep badly, and if I didn't catch some ZZZZs soon I was going to lose it.

Good news -- I am doing much, much better! I still haven't had an uninterrupted night of rest, but we're getting there. Life is starting to feel normal again. A new normal, but normal nonetheless. Thanks a ton to those of you who chimed in on Facebook with great advice on helping my baby sleep. Especially fellow blogger One Fit Mom. Her advice was a complete game changer for us. Now, instead of a baby who stays up until midnight and wakes up every two hours to eat, I have a baby who goes down easily around 7:30pm and sleeps until 7:30am (with just two feedings during that 12-hour stretch). She even takes two fairly-predictable naps per day. What a relief.

Now that I am more rested, I'm able to see things a little more clearly. Especially my fitness ambitions. In short, I realized that my approach was a little off. I was way too eager. Even after my physical therapist told me to dial it way down, all I could think about was dialing it back up again. This didn't do anything for me other than leave me feeling frustrated and annoyed. I think I've finally moved beyond this stage, though. I spent the past several weeks focusing more on rest and nutrition and less on working out, and it seems to have payed off. And now, I feel healthy, I feel strong, I feel satisfied with the progress I've made toward achieving the goals I set at the beginning of February, and I'm excited to get back to a more consistent blogging schedule. Thanks (again) for sticking with me as I adjust to all the new things motherhood brings to my life!