Archive for June 2011

New federal crib rules go into effect today

Starting today, anyone manufacturing or selling baby cribs in the United States must meet new crib safety standards approved by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in December 2010. These rules are meant to help keep children safer in their cribs, and include a ban on drop-side cribs and more rigorous safety testing by manufacturers. Drop-side cribs have caused the death of more than 30 infants and toddlers since 2000.

Child care facilities, infant Head Start centers, hotels and motels have until December 28, 2012, to use only cribs compliant with the new standards.

Visit the CPSC Crib Information Center for more information, including an updated questions and answers document on the new crib standards.

Washington warms up to Race to the Top

As we await federal guidance on how to apply for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant announced in late May, DEL has set up a web page where we will post updates on RTT-ELC.

You also can share your ideas, input and questions by emailing

Guidance is expected in July for this $500 million competitive grant, which is meant to help states raise the quality of and integrate their early learning programs and services.

There’s still time! Please comment on the draft purpose and guiding principles for the early learning guidelines

Our state is reviewing and redesigning our early learning guidelines to make sure they are culturally relevant; link to the K-12 system; and reflect what we now know about how children grow and learn. It is important for our state early learning system to have a set of early learning guidelines, which serve as a resource for common understanding about how children learn and grow and what everyone can do to support that.

We need your input!

Please go to our early learning guidelines section to learn more about this redesign process, and how you can give input on the draft purpose and guiding principle statements. On that page, under “Redesign,” you will find:

• A letter from Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde on this redesign process.
• Fast facts about the redesign process.
• A list of individuals on the redesign steering committee.
• A form for you to send your comments on the draft purpose and guiding principle statements.

Later this summer, draft early learning guidelines will be available for comment.

housemate smoothie redux

okay I looked up the word redux and I might not be using it right, but the English language is ever changing.

For the longest time, I've been making housemate's smoothies in big batches on Sat. morning.  This week I was gone on the weekend so just made them in smaller batches and decided I like that!   This is partly because I changed my schedule.  I decided to work 75% time this summer, and boy is it nice.  It allows me to do my food prep in the mornings and mosey on into work at 10 am.  So there's time to make fresh smoothies every other day and freeze the second one.

These smoothies are good for SAD (Standard American Diet) guests who are used to eating sweet food.  They are too sweet for me.  I'm not sure I'd call them healthy because they are so sweet (too much fruit juice), but they are nutritious.

Ingredients for 2 smoothies (16-20 oz each):
18-20 oz (550-600 g) frozen fruit/berries
12 oz grape juice
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds or other seeds or nuts
3 oz spinach
supplements if desired (better than swallowing pills)

Blend the juice, nuts/seeds, spinach and supplements.  Add the frozen fruit and blend until smooth.  Pour into two tall cups.  I give one to housemate and freeze the other for tomorrow.  Note:  don't use flaxseeds or chia seeds if you are freezing.  They give it a jelly-like consistency when thawed.

Channa Saag (sort of), and some blathering

This is an example of how using a recipe as a guide, but not following it exactly, makes life much easier.  And this turned out great.  I decided I eat so much raw food during the week, I want to start cooking more on the weekends.  But it's summer so I only want quick and easy things.  I gotta get outside and play!   If you a member of Dr. Fuhrman's website, you get a weekly recipe (or you can see them all at the recipe center).  So I went through a bunch of those emails and picked out about 15 recipes that looked good and easy for this time of year.  This morning I went grocery shopping and bought the kale, collards and spinach because they are local (around here, local tastes way better!).  I also made my weekly pot of beans--didn't even bother to add anything to them because I figure I can flavor them as I go.  So I did my usual thing of picking 2 packages of beans (1 lb each) from my rancho gordo stock--I usually go for a big one and a small one of different colors, or else just pick random.  Today's was a big white bean and a little orange one.  I soaked them last night, and cooked them up this morning--can't get any easier than that.  By the way, that cooked up into about 9 1.5 cup servings that I put in tupperware bowls and froze for the week.

Okay, so time to pick a recipe.  How about Channa Saag (Spicy Chickpeas with Spinach).  Now all the substitutions start because no way am I going to work hard at this, it's just lunch!  And since I made so many substitutions I can call it a new recipe and post it.

Ingredients for a 1 large serving or 2 small:
1/2 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1-2 medium tomatoes or 1/2 can
1 green chili or other pepper (I didn't use any, don't like them anymore)
1/2 tsp garam masala (the recipe called for tamarind powder but my co-op doesn't have it, and I didn't want to buy a big jar of concentrated tamarind for one lunch recipe, so I used garam masala and boy was that good!)
1/2-1 tsp curry
---(the recipe called for coriander powder which I don't really like so I didn't include it)
8 oz of spinach (wo that's a lot!  amazing how it cooks down though).
1.5 cups beans (recipe calls for chickpeas, who cares what kind of beans you use!)
cayenne pepper if you want (not me!)
herbs from the garden (not in the recipe, optional):  I threw in a lot of cilantro and chives, and a little dill and rosemary (because they were there).

Water saute the onion and garlic until tender.  Add the spices and herbs and peppers, cook for a few minutes.  Add the spinach, cook until it wilts, a few minutes.  Add in the beans, cook until heated.   Serve.

It was a great meal after a hard mountain bike ride.  Really yummy!

Child care licensing fees increase on July 1

The 2011-2013 state operating budget raises annual child care licensing fees effective July 1, 2011. This money goes directly into the state general fund, not to the Department of Early Learning.

The new annual fee structure is as follows:

Child care centers and school-age programs
• $125 per year for the first 12 children; and
• $12 per year for each additional child up to the facility’s licensed capacity

Family home child care programs
$30 per year

This fee increase will be reflected on the invoice licensees receive 90 days prior to the anniversary date of your license. If you have already received an invoice because your fee is due in July, August or September, a supplemental invoice will be sent to you with details on how to pay this fee increase.

Please contact your local DEL licensing office if you have any questions.

Great food in Springfield, IL!

Thanks to one of the members on the Fuhrman forums I got great advice for getting good produce while in Springfield this week.  The grocery stores are not especially memorable but the farmer's market is excellent!   And the season is further along down here so I got things I don't usually get in Wisconsin until July.  Awesome.  At this stand,

I got lettuce, kale, kohlrabi (yum!), lots of sugar snap peas (yummier!), and spring onions.  

And here I got strawberries!

I also got some mushrooms at another stand.  That plus my current stock of beans, seeds, carrots, and fruit will get me home tomorrow.

I have to remember that on my next trip.  Find the farmer's markets!

Some updates

I went to a conference a few days ago for fun, called the Big Learning Event.  There were some things that I didn't like about it, but one of the speakers blew me away.  She was the one I least expected to identify with, Lily Yeh, an artist--here's another link describing her work.  Her story is amazing, what she has done is amazing, and, even more amazing to me is she has inspired me to start painting--me, who has always said I have no aptitude or interest in art.   But not only that, she showed me how we can save the world.  I knew already that I have the knowledge to save the world (nutritarianism!)  but I didn't know how to proceed.  I've been stymied by this for the past 2 years.  This has led me to be unfulfilled in my job because it didn't seem as important (astronomy compared to saving the world).

Here is what I'm going to do:  free nutritional counseling.  I can only do it for 10 hours a week, but it will be my community service project.  I hope to target people without health insurance and with limited income.  But I will gladly advise anyone interested to improve their health, time permitting.  I'm going to start with a website.  I'm hoping this will allow my 10 hours per week to benefit a larger number of clients.  How will this save the world?   If we all become nutritarians, we help halt global warming (eating lots of meat is our biggest contribution!), we prevent bankrupcy of governments and people due to health care costs, and we improve our lives dramatically.

So I will be distracted for the next few weeks working on the website.  Does anyone know if you can get free web-hosting for community service projects???

Also, the reason I want to paint?  Because sometimes it's emotionally very difficult for me to be a nutritarian in a non-nutritarian world.  It's not an emotion I feel compelled to express in words or music.  but painting or drawing?  I can definitely see that.  I just need to let the emotions out.  I don't need to share them with anyone or process them.  I just want to release them.

What do you think of my counseling/website idea?  Good, bad?  Your feedback on the website will be valuable!

Oh yeah, my other update is, I decided I shouldn't make deals with the devil.  That's not good nutritarian behavior.  It's one thing to slip up, or be in a rare situation where compromise is a reasonable option and well within Dr. Fuhrman's "Life Plan" (10%) parameters, but I don't think I should plan to eat SAD food just for the fun of it, should I????

usual trip salads

I'm on a mini-vacation at a Golf tournament with friends.  Fortunately I have my awesome Coleman electric cooler since we couldn't get a fridge in our room (oops sorry about the bra in the picture, ha):

It plugs in both to the car and the wall socket.  

I contacted a nutritarian from the Fuhrman forums who gave me the scoop on where to get good produce in this town.   It seems the farmer's market is best.  I brought enough fruit to get me through the trip and will stock up with greens and veggies tomorrow at the farmer's market.   

Here are my salads the last few days.  The greens are lettuce and spinach.  For the breakfast salad, just add seed mixture, balsamic vinegar, 1/3 can of beans, and fruit of the day.  Lunch and dinner salads also have onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, tomatoes (along with the lettuce, spinach, beans, seed mixture, and vinegar).  Oh, you can see my roommates' food to the top-right of the salad.  They are SAD eaters.  

I also am eating carrots and sugar snap peas.  Most of the produce ran out today so my new salads will be whatever I get at the farmer's market.  My fruit is super yummy:  Strawberries on Thursday, blueberries, and raspberries today, cherries and small peach tomorrow, and grapes and orange Sunday.  I had some grapes for dessert tonight and maybe will tomorrow too as there are more than enough for Sunday.

Seasonal Child Care program available again July 1; new application process in place

Families will be able to apply for the Seasonal Child Care (SCC) subsidy program again beginning July 1. The program had been suspended since December due to lack of funding.
DEL has made some changes to the program rules, including limiting entry to the program to help ensure the funding lasts through the year.

Also starting July 1, families will apply for SCC through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), rather than through local organizations. DSHS will not begin taking SCC applications before July 1. Click here to read more about the new application process.
SCC provides subsidies to eligible seasonally employed agricultural families to help ensure their children are in safe, licensed care while parents are working.

Motivation recommendations

I was asked what my latest book recommendations are for motivation and positive psychology/happiness.  I have the books listed in my "Recommended books" section at right.   At the top of the list are the why and how-to books on eating for health, then cookbooks, and at the bottom are motivation/positive pyschology books.  I just updated that list with a new one, Get off Your But, by Sean Stephenson and Anthony Robbins.    So now what do I recommend in what order?

If you don't want to read any and just want a 3-sentence summary it is this (see below for another useful take-home point #4):  1)  There are no excuses.  2) Just do it.  3)  Happiness comes from overcoming challenges, not from pleasure-giving activities (such as watching tv or eating ice cream).   Regarding point #1,  Get off your but has lots of inspirational stories.  Regarding point #2, You can read all the books you want but it finally has to come from you.  Regarding point #3, you will be very happy when you do make the changes.  It is very hard, no doubt about it, but you will overcome and that will bring you GREAT satisfaction and ultimately happiness.

If you want to read just one, I think I recommend Get off Your But.  It is very inspirational and has lots of activities to help you on your journey.

If you want to read more, I have them ordered by how I liked them but it is very personal, so you may not agree with my ordering.  I also would like to point out The Pleasure Trap, which is more science and psychology but it shows why we desire processed foods and why we should avoid them (this is available in both book and DVD).  It helps you understand that this isn't about you being weak and bad, but about the food being bad and dangerous.  Let me emphasize this as take-home point #4)  The food is bad, not you!

If you like to learn and to stay motivated, then I recommend all of these books.  What I do is buy the audio versions and listen to them on my ipod while doing my food prep.  I think this is fun.  And then I save my other enjoyable books for my night-time reading.

My deal with the Devil

I made a deal with the devil (devil-barbie) on Mar. 13.  We agreed that if I could eat perfectly for 12 weeks, I could have a day of eating SAD (Standard American Diet) food---well, in my case, that's vegan SAD food since I'm a vegan for other reasons than health.  By eating perfectly that means following Dr. Fuhrman's 6-week plan without overeating.  I outlined my program in this post.  I just realized I didn't quite make 12 weeks.  Wo, devil-barbie is clever--she miscalculated and told me 12 weeks was last weekend.  Okay, so I made it 11.5 weeks.  I'll double-check my calculations next time.  Also,  my SAD day turned into 2.  Then I had a hangover day yesterday, and today I feel great again and ever so happy to be back.  As usual, I don't think the lack of sleep and feeling yucky was worth it.  I'm amazed at how high I get from eating a white-flour tortilla (that was from a vegan burrito).  It really is true that processed grains have the same effect as sugar.  I also get high from decaff coffee and chocolate, not that I need to remind myself of that!   One of my treats was an oil-free granola and soy milk.  That's not even that bad, except for a relatively small amount of maple syrup, so I'm glad for that.  I could definitely make a healthy version of that with dates instead of maple syrup.

Will I do this again?  Well, I was chatting again with devil-barbie and we decided I should try to last until December 31, and have a SAD day then, and then join everyone else on Jan. 1 on having a hangover and starting over.  

I don't recommend this because you and I both could never return from SAD-land once we venture out, just like an alcoholic on a binge.  But it does make it easy for me to say no now and I hope for the next 6 months, knowing that it's not forever.  I find it much easier to say no to all SAD food than to figure out how much I can eat and still be healthy.  Plus it's much easier to train everyone else if the answer is always no.  But I guess I also like thinking that it's not forever.  I'm hoping this planned slip will go the way alcohol and caffeine did for me, just less desirable and less frequent over time until it just was no more.  Or maybe I'll just plan healthier and healthier slip-ups until they just become healthy treat days.  That's my hope!

Anyway, like I said, I am not presenting this as a behavior for you to emulate.  I'm just sharing that I'm not perfect.  I want to be honest about my successes and failures.  And if you want to give me advice for a better way, I welcome it!   I'm like you, just trying to eat healthy in an unhealthy world.

Update a week later:   I've had this feeling the last week that this deal with the devil idea is a really bad idea.  First there's the obvious reason that each time you eat SAD food, you may never return from it.  Talk about a slippery slope.   And second, it's just not good nutritarian behavior.  I think we should not give SAD food to ourselves as a reward.  I'm not saying I won't ever slip up in the future, but it should be my aim to not slip up.  I shouldn't plan to slip up.   I've also realized that you have to say no a lot, even in the nutritarian universe.  You have to say no when you've eaten enough, you have to say no to too many dates and nuts and fruit and beans, and even carrots.  You can eat too much of anything.   Once you have been off SAD food for several weeks, I'm not sure it's any harder to say no to that than to say no to too many pieces of corn on the cob, or cherries, or strawberries.    My SAD deviations the last few times started out as nutritarian deviations--too much of a good thing.  

DEL moves forward with Washington Quality Rating and Improvement System

Earlier this week, DEL sent information to some members of the early learning community about next steps for Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

QRIS is a systemic way to improve quality of child care with a focus on child outcomes and school readiness. The model does this through supporting quality environments, effective teacher-child interactions and meaningful family engagement.

For the past two years, 80 participants from five communities participated in the Seeds to Success field test, which was led by our partners at Thrive by Five Washington, and will end on June 30. DEL will now begin moving toward statewide expansion by inviting up to 60 field test participants to become “early adopters” of the final QRIS model. Early adopters must meet certain requirements, and commit to helping with the development of a sustainable QRIS model that is child-centered and family-focused.

Early adopters will continue to receive coaching, scholarships, training and incentives to support their quality improvement efforts during the first year of the system.

Early adopter applicants must meet these requirements:

  • Participated in the Seeds to Success field test
  • Have spring 2011 follow-up evaluation data
  • Serve a minimum of four children ages birth through 5
  • Have an active state child care license (no suspensions, revocations and not currently on probation) with no pattern of non-compliance (cannot have two or more valid complaints of the same type within the past 12 months)
  • Serve children receiving state child care subsidies, or offer scholarships or a sliding fee scale for low-income families

DEL will send field test participants an information kit later this month, including an application. We expect to launch activities with providers in late August 2011. We aim to expand QRIS to new facilities statewide in summer 2012 (depending upon available resources).

Competition for additional federal home visiting funding announced

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced up to $99 million in additional competitive grants to states to enhance home visiting efforts.

About $66 million of this funding will be awarded in four-year grants to between seven and 10 states who already have made significant progress in building a high-quality home visiting program as part of an early learning system.

Washington already has received a $1.3 million grant through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Programs (MIECHV) for fiscal year 2010. An updated state plan will be submitted by June 8 as the final step in accessing funds for program implementation.

States must apply by July 1, 2011, for these additional dollars. DEL will post more information about this application process as it becomes available.

To learn more about home visiting efforts in Washington, go to the home visiting section of our website.

The MIECHV is part of the Affordable Care Act. For more information on MIECHV, visit the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration online.