Tag Archives: health

Stressed? Yeah me too… 

Stress, stress, stress. Can I just move to an island and grow my own food and let my kids run wild… and not watch them fight over the ipad, or who wore the other ones socks, of whether or not I remembered to pay the rates bill, or fix the doorbell, or clean the potty OR spray stain remover on the kids’ clothes? Every morning, we go from the breakfast table/floor/kitchen counter to the slog of dressing (when noooo ooooone wants to remove pj’s), to nappies to noise to lunch boxes and school bags and lost water bottles, trying to remember to pack swimming togs and food for extra play and whether or today is a Fit Kids t-shirt wearing day and and aaaaaaaaand.

Once I have lost almost every ounce of patience, self control, and brain space, I make a mad dash into work, realize I left my lunch at home, forgot to give my kid a ‘show and tell’ item, and then see that there is dried oats on my pants.

Not stressed at all.

Enter – stress relieving essential oils. Ahhhhh. Essential oils. If you aren’t quite clued in, essential oils are the highly concentrated fragrant essences found in plants. The leaves, flowers, fruits or roots of the plants are usually steam distilled or cold pressed to extract this aromatic liquid.

I love SOiL Essential Oils because they are organic and Ecocert certified. This means that the herbs, shrubs and other plants that provide the oils are grown on land that is not exposed to herbicides, pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Winning all round.

I feel like essential oils are a bit like the ocean. Strange comparison – but stick with me here. When I look at the ocean (from, say, the top of Chapman’s Peak), I see this beautiful vast gorgeous sheet of water, but only when I have a chance to stop and think, can I begin to imagine the intricate ecosystem below, its vast depth; from the tiniest fish and piece of coral to the hugest and most majestic blue whale.

Essential oils are the same (kinda). They look cute in their neat little bottles and smell nice when opened, but once you dig deeper, those powerful little drops of oil can greatly contribution to ones life, health, healing, and restoration.

Here are the top 6 essential oils for stress relief:

Frankincense 

Frankincense, also known as Olibanum, is obtained from steam distillation of the gum resin. It has been used for 1000’s of years as incense in religious ceremonies. I know of Frankincense from the birth of Jesus :). Its centering aroma slows the nervous system and promotes a feeling of calm and introspection (Mary probably needed it), and a few drops in an essential oil burner can aid concentration and meditation. R100.00 (5ml)

Safety Information: Do not use during pregnancy.

*Frankincense smells similar to eucalyptus to me. I love the ancient heritage and how it can contribute to effective mindfulness.* 

Rose Geranium

Geraniums originate from South Africa and were introduced into Europe in the 17thC. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and branches of the plant. Geranium is known to lift the spirit and relieve anxiety. It is useful in treating PMS and menopausal problems. R115.00 (10ml)

Safety Information: May cause skin irritation in some individuals

Lavender

Lavender is the most popular and versatile oil in aromatherapy. It’s a must for the first aid box – a great oil for skin conditions where there is inflammation, burns, scarring etc. Lavender is also well known for its relaxing, antidepressant and calming properties, and for treating headaches and insomnia as well as benefiting throat infections, colds and flu. R70.00 (10ml)

*I love Lavender – it is SO versatile! I literally keep a bottle in my bag and give it a sniff when I need to chill out. This is my go-to in my home diffuser.*

Ylang Ylang

Originating from South-East Asia, Cananga odorata is a fast-growing, tall evergreen tree, which produces large yellow-green, strongly scented flowers. Ylang Ylang has an intoxicating floral aroma. It is calming and soothes mentally, physically and emotionally. Traditionally used as an aphrodisiac. R80.00 (10ml)

Safety Information: Excessive use may cause nausea or headache are must be taken to always keep the oil away from children.

Melissa

Melissa oil is steam-distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. It is sometimes referred to as the bee balm. It has anti-depressant properties and is indicated for insomnia, hysteria and irritability. It is also an anti-spasmodic and is reputed to regulate the digestive system, relieving stomach cramps and nausea.  R220.00 (2.5ml)

Contraindications: A possible sensitizer and dermal irritant

Vetiver

Vetiver is a tall grass, native to India. It is sometimes used to prevent soil erosion due to its network of roots. It is these fibrous roots which are cleaned, dried and distilled to produce the sweet earthy smelling oil. Vetiver is often used in perfumery and is a valuable oil for relieving anxiety and depression due to its grounding nature. It is suggested as a good oil to strengthen the skin as well as being beneficial to the musculo-skeletal system due to its ability to promote blood flow. R150.00 (10ml)

*Vetiver caught me off guard with its potent peppery/earthy scent*.

Book a massage, grab your oils, take some time out, diffuse, sniff and relax.

*If you are not sure about certain oils or have not used them before, please contact your health practitioner before use. Please be smart and educate yourselves on the dangers of essential oils before using them. Using essential oils in conjunction with carrier oils is encouraged.

*Essentail oils are not recommended for pregnant or nursing mums, or on sensitive skins such as babies’ skin. All preggos must be very careful when using essential oils. 

*If you are not keen on using an undiluted essential oil directly on your skin (which many aren’t), you can dilute it with a carrier oil – such as almond, apricot kernel, grape seed, rose hip etc. 

Feaured image: www.aromasense.co.nz

A GYM… for your KIDS!

As a mum to three kids (two busy boys who are play-school going) we all know the importance of gross motor development and the scary stats about the number of kids in Occupational Therapy. I think partly, it’s due to the fact that we can’t just allow our kids to run up the road to their friends house or let them cycle to the nearest park to play until we call them in for dinner (sigh…). Facing the reality of OT can be a scary and intimidating thought for many parents. While neither of my kids are in OT – I have left a meet-the-teachers appointment with a sheet of gross motor exercises in my hand. Best I get on it then…

So I was PUMPED about this! A couple weeks ago we were invited to the launch of The Kids Gym, a brand new and FANTASTIC first-class gym space, designed with only kids (aged 0-15 years) in mind. KIDSFIT size treadmills & bicycles have been imported from America, and it has everything you can dream of in a gym – barring weights – on purpose (that could get dangerous). There is a range of specially designed equipment for age appropriate movement activities to improve balance, coordination, strength, flexibility & rhythm.

My kids had a BALL! They could’ve played for hours and hours and hoooooooours. I’m not over-exaggerating when I say that I had to drag them out of there. The range of exercise/play equipment is so vast, you’ll need a few visits to enjoy it all.

A gym with HEART:

This is not another ‘money making activity’ aimed at parents who feel the need (guilt) to take their kids out somewhere fun. This gym was created by a father whose daughter was born with a neuro-muscular disorder. He struggled to find a place to go to help her. It ignited his passion to create a place where kids can go to build muscle tone, strengthen their bodies, develop stronger gross and fine motor skills all while have a ball and building their self confidence at the same time.

I can’t help but think how PHENOMENAL a place like The Kids Gym will be for kids who:

a) need a place to get their energy out (or can’t stop moving),
b) need help with gross motor strength,
c) want to build self-confidence,
d) want an awesome adventure day out, or simply
e) a place parents can take their kids instead of plonking them in front of the tv.

The Kids Gym offer’s a non-competitive, non-judgemental environment for ALL to find their own “zone”.





But don’t be fooled – this is not a place where you dump your kids and hit up an awesome flat white at the Ninja Bean Cafe (…and there are AWESOME flat whites at this cafe). No one ‘works out’ alone – there is always a trainer to teach and supervise.


The gym is safe; with turn styles, a top notch security system, cameras and linked tv screens and an impressive number of trained assistants constantly watching and helping. Guys. I mean!

Price you ask? Take a look at the incredibly reasonable membership options below:


Check them out:

Address: Sable Square, Cnr Bosmansdam & Sable Road, Century City, Cape Town
Email them: fun@thekidsgym.co.za
Cell: 082-900-4480

Get social with them: www.thekidsgym.co.za, Facebook, Instagram.

With Sincere Gratitude…

I can’t believe it has been a year since this… together with Pure Beginnings, we launched Debbie’s Pure Beginnings Pregnancy Journey.

And, as we’ve wrapped up this journey, I’ve become so nostalgic looking back over the past year. Pregnancy and parenting is such a mish-mash of excitement, stress, fear, trepidation, anticipation, joy, tears and leaking boobs.

Together with the incredible Team at Pure Beginnings, we created these videos, spoke at national Childbirth Educators Forums, and opened up many, many everyday pregnancy and birth related topics for discussion.

If you missed any posts – you can find them here:

I love this world; this crazy, frantic, joyful, intense, scary, emotional ride. This busy, tear-filled, beautiful, messy role of Motherhood. And I’ve felt so privileged to walk this road with you all, and the Pure Beginnings Team. What an absolute privilege.

And finally, in wrapping up, I can’t help but give you some inside scoop on who exactly it is, behind the brand. They are a family. But really, they are a real family. A husband and wife team (and some awesome extras), convicted to start Pure Beginnings when their own kids were born. Even with them living in Durbs, I’ve met them on numerous occasions, and been hosted in their home and have been incredibly inspired by their hard working ethic, their gentle and beautiful natures, their humility, care for people and their product and determination to do and be better and provide better alternatives for US.

You want to support that family sending their kids to soccer and/or piano lessons? Those are the people behind Pure Beginnings.

Thank you Kate and Bruce (and Amanda) for allowing me to start this journey with Brea in the best way possible, with a Pure Beginning. xxx

Aluminium under your armpits, anyone?

There was this amazing underarm I used to buy overseas. It was made by a popular store brought brand, and it smelled like watermelon. I LOVE anything watermelon and so this had my name all over it. With coupon culture as it goes in North America, I often used to get it half price, so… I was stocked up, on watermelon underarm.

I must now ask myself a few questions:

  1. WHY ON EARTH would I want my underarms smelling like watermelon?
  2. Surely there is nothing attractive about watermelon smelling underarms.
  3. (The glitzy sticker on the tube should’ve given that away)
  4. There is nothing normal about ones underarms smelling like watermelon.
  5. Oh, and… aluminium.

I will extend myself some grace as a then-ignorant-20-something, who just loved all things watermelon. But really, wow, how I’ve grown.

I had no idea that 99% of underarm/roll on/deodorants (call them what you will) have aluminium in them. Aluminium. ALU-MINIUM. Did you know this?

Most antiperspirant concerns center around the active ingredient – an aluminum-based compound that temporarily plugs the sweat ducts and prevents you from perspiring. Typically, antiperspirants are coupled with a deodorant, which contains the pleasant scent that stops you from smelling.

That pleasant fragrance comes with it’s problems too – often accompanied by the endocrine disrupting phthalates. A number of studies in recent years have clearly linked aluminum-based antiperspirants with the increase the risk for breast cancer. Source

Right then. Fresh perspective. We need an alternative. We need to be more careful.

Here is it. Pure Beginnings have 4 different natural deodorants which do not contain aluminium. Their amazing different scents include Monsoon, Forest, Sahara and Fragrance Free (for super sensitive skins).

These eco-deo’s are awesome. They are safe, natural and smell amazing. While I do still perspire when I use it, I’m okay sweating. I know it is our bodies’ natural way to cool ourselves down. What makes me more concerned is when I don’t sweat. And so this deo ticks all the boxes for me.

Give it a go, and tell me what you think? You can order it online here and it retails for only R59.85.

Is Your Toothpaste Safe?

I bet you’ve never actually questioned it.

One more thing I had to rethink after I had kids was which toothpaste to buy them, and given the amazing number of options overseas, it was easy to make the best choice. Flouride or no fluoride? Cute organic brand, or cheap grocery store kind? Being a fresh greenie at the time, the choice was obvious.

Again, coming back to South Africa, I had to re-look at my options. Is it such a big deal which toothpaste you use? What is the big deal anyways? Have you ever really thought about it?


Well, turns out we DO have options, and they’re pretty straightforward.

This big deal around FLOURIDE?! Let’s dive into that a little more. According to Pure Beginnings, here’s why we consider it a big NO-NO.

Water flouridation and the use of fluoride in toothpaste has been questioned for years. The practice continues because proponents of its use argue that the doses are too low to effect us. The facts remain however that fluoride is a toxic chemical and various studies have linked its consumption to reproductive problems, lowered IQ, early puberty, abnormal thyroid function, arthritis, osteoporosis and even brain damage. Since children rarely spit all their toothpaste out (don’t we know it!) it is really important that they use a fluoride-free toothpaste to ensure they aren’t ingesting the toxic ingredient. Research reveals other ingredients, such as Xylitol, are safer, but equally effective, as fluoride in combating tooth decay. Pure Beginnings believes that using natural alternatives are a much better choice for your family.”

I agree one million percent. The safer alternative is out there and it is better for us. So what’s stopping us? My kids LOVE both the baby and kids flavours – berry (in the baby care range) and vanilla mint (in the kids range). In fact, they love it so much I have to hide it in between tooth-brushing sessions, or else they’d eat it all up.

Because these toothpastes still foam, you only need a little. Oh guys, I feel so safe and happy and confident using this product on my boys, and now our new little person. You can order some for yourself right here!

One Step to Reducing Chemicals on your Skin

With all the talk around chemicals and our exposure to them, I’ve had to take time to rethink what I do automatically, every day, without thinking, and if it’s a good or bad move on my part, especially during pregnancy. You know that saying ‘Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding a disease or fighting it’… well I think the same rings true for what we put ONTO our body.

every-time-you-eat-or-drink

One of my New Years Resolutions for this year was to find homemade recipes for all the make up I use and l have it be all natural by 31st December 2016. Then I got pregnant, so let’s not be holding me to all that right now. I used to make my own mascara in Vancouver (with raw egg yolk – not even kidding!), and it was awesome, and EASY, but I feel like I now need a bar fridge in my bathroom to store all my homemade products. Regardless of my lack of research into natural make up over the course of this year, I do stop and think, and pick my battles wisely.

One of these automatic, sub-conscious things I do each day, is wash myself in the shower. Having reconsidered what I use on the kids, it was only appropriate that I reconsidered what I used on myself (and hubby, who really just grabs whatever I put in the shower for us to use). I tried making homemade soaps, but the ingredient list got too long and I always found them a tad oily, and arghhhh, was just never happy with it. I prefer a good (foamy) scrub using a liquid gel, and once I tried out Pure Beginnings’ Body Wash with Organic Baobab and Ylang Ylang I was sold. There is a fair amount of exposure around their baby and kids ranges, and so has been great to see their Organic Care range expand over the years, with products such as these.

organic-care

Small steps guys, small steps. You don’t need to change EVERYTHING you use in one huge tidal wave motion. Small changes that can be maintained are where it’s at. I love how this body wash foams (unlike castille soap, which I really like, but have found some frustrations with), and how it smells and how clean it makes me feel. Also, we love a pump bottle – quantity control. It really can last much longer than squeezy bottles. I’ve even let some friends use it (I’m generous like that :)) and while initially critical, they’ve been pleasantly surprised and well impressed!

pb-care-wash

“Suitable for the whole family, this natural SLS-free body wash infused with community sourced organic Baobab fruit extract will leave skin feeling soft and clean. The natural citrus and ylang ylang fragrance combine to make bath and shower time a delightful experience”. 

Also, don’t be fooled. This is a bigger issue than you might think. This natural body wash is not just eliminating the BAD stuff (SLS, parabens, etc.) but it is using and introducing the GOOD stuff.

It optimises environment for beneficial microbes:

  • Includes inulin, a prebiotic, to create a healthy micro-climate for beneficial bacteria.
  • pH balanced to avoid stressing the skin.
  • Gentle surfactants to ensure natural skin oils and beneficial microbes are not stripped and skin is not compromised.

It defends agains environmental stress:

  • Baobab Fruit Extract and Vitamin E, both strong anti-oxidants, fight free radical damage from pollution, the sun and the environment.

It hydrates and nourishes:

  • Natural plant oils such as Jojoba, Coconut, Argan and Sunflower oil deliver essential fatty acids to hydrate and nourish.
  • Inulin provides moisturising properties.

It soothes and calms:

    • Aloe Vera acts as a natural anti-inflammatory to soothe irritation and calm the skin.

And so just like that you have more than enough reasons to stop, rethink, and reconsider what you are putting on your skin each day, reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals you are exposing yourself to and be properly awesome at the same time.

If you want more inspiration, and have conquered step one by changing your body wash, why not go wild and rethink your toothpaste, deo, shaving cream and hair care?

Why not try Spring Clean differently this Year?

Try explain to a 4 year old what chemicals are. It’s tough. “Buddy, don’t touch that, or lick that, or put your hands on that – it is full.of.chemicals“.

I never cared too much about this kinda thing, so have been wracking my brain as to when I made the switch. Maybe it was when I baby-proofed our house when my eldest became more mobile and thought (as I looked at the emergency number for Poison Control on the fridge), ‘hmmm, a vinegar, lemon, bicarb combo seems like a pretty good idea round about now’…

Either way, it has become a bigger and bigger issue to me. I remember my company back in Vancouver wanting to send me home from work one day (when I was pregnant) because the offices next door were being painted and they didn’t want me breathing in the fumes. First world. But something to think about. As we have been renovating recently, I haven’t done a stitch of painting – personal conviction, but still, rather safe than sorry (in my mind anyways).

Let this kick you in the stomach: Did you know that your home may be the most toxic place you encounter each day?

vintage spring clean

Here’s the problem… (source)

Since the 1950s over 72,000 synthetic chemicals have entered our food supply and homes, and the vast majority of them have never been tested for human safety.

The average person comes in contact with over 6,000 of these chemicals on a regular basis and babies are now born with hundreds of them already in their system (and we wonder why we are seeing such high rates of chronic disease!)

The EPA reported that indoor air can be up to 70 Times MORE toxic than outdoor air. These chemicals are more likely to cause cancer than synthetic chemicals found outdoors.

Cancer rates have doubled in the last half century, but due to chemical exposure, moms who work at home are 54% more likely to get cancer than those who aren’t at home all day.

You would think that following the warning labels on household chemicals would be enough to protect your family, but unfortunately, this is not the case! Many of these chemicals can enter the air of your home, even if they are in tightly sealed containers. On top of that, the Poison Control Center reported that as much as 85% of warning labels on household products did NOT adequately identify the dangers of the products or list proper first aid instructions.

Some of the most common chemicals like formaldehyde, phenol, benzene, toluene, xylene have been found to cause cancer and are often found in indoor air. Other problems like fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and hormone imbalance are also linked to chemical exposure.

Since children consume more water, breathe more air and eat more food proportionate to their body weight than adults, they are MORE at risk from these chemicals.

(Preach over)

kitchen sink

So WHAT do we do about this?

Should you find the time, inclination and inspiration, you can (dare I say) make your own cleaning products. I’ve played around with a few, but honestly, life has taken over recently and I’ve found it easier to buy them. Here are some homemade options I’ve tried and written about: Fruit and Veggie Wash & Laundry Powder.

IMG_2202-0

There are a gazillion natural cleaning product recipes out there and I do encourage you to find them and try them out – some people swear by them and others are left disappointed, but go for it, and have fun. Unfortunately in South Africa, we do not have access to a wide range of the raw materials often needed to make effective cleaners, and sourcing from overseas can be expensive, but you can keep it as simple as vinegar, lemon and bicarb. Voia la.

I’ve blogged a bit about a couple of my fave natural cleaning product brands, such as nu ecoBetter Earth, and Earthsap, and I’ve also written a comparison on natural Dishwashing Liquids here. There are a GOOD number of affordable natural products out there – you just need to find them. And please, please, pleeeeeease read the ingredient labels. I hate to bad-mouth Pick ‘n Pay and Woolies, but their ‘green’ ranges are not nearly as green as you’d like to believe they are. Do your research, and read the labels.

Better-Earth

So I’ve delved quite considerably into this, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is something we neeeeeed to re-think. And since most of us outsource our home cleaning anyway, we think about it even less. With a baby on the way, I’ve stocked the cupboard (really, with 5L’s and all – nesting!) of natural products so I know our vulnerable, straight from the womb newborn won’t be smacked in the face with no good nonsense.

Please don’t let this overwhelm you. Be inspired by nature, and what it has provided for us. You don’t need to chuck out every scary-looking cleaning product in your laundry cupboard and get on your hands and knees with vinegar and salt. Start with one change. All purpose cleaner? Bathroom cleaner? Laundry powder? …And go from there.

Do you have a favourite natural cleaning brand or homemade recipe? If so, please share! And be INSPIRED!

Image credit: www.ohlief.com, www.greengoods.co.zawww.brayandscarff.com.

About being Reprimanded by a ‘Gynae’ at Woolies

So here’s a funny story. I like coffee, right? And while I stayed away from coffee in my first pregnancy, I relaxed a bit in my second, and now with my third – well this one loves it. Pick your battles and everything in moderation are things we need to tell ourselves, daily.

So I’m standing in a queue at Woolies this morning with a Vida in my one hand (which could have been anything – hot choc, decaf, anything)  and a chocolate croissant in the other, and I hear this voice say “you know that’s not good for your baby?”. And in a sure state of shock and ‘did I actually just hear a stranger say that to me?’, I lifted to my head to hear the voice once again… “You’re talking to a gynecologist”.

I think I stammered some kind of response like “I’m fine, thanks” and “can I please pay for this croissant?”, to which the (supposed) gynecologist asked “don’t you feel your baby kick much more after a cup of coffee?”. At this point I’m trying desperately to a) wrap my head around if I’m really living this and am actually being publicly judged, b) get out of this conversation I really don’t want to have with a stranger at 9am on a Friday morning, and c) just pay for my croissant.

Said gynecologist then wished me well (I think with the seemingly small amount of social awareness he possessed, he had picked up that I was not interested in having this conversation about my bad parenting with a stranger in a public setting) and he went on his way. The very sweet cashier and I exchanged a brief conversation with lines such as ‘each to their own’ and ‘at least I’m not smoking dried paint and drinking petrol’. And that was that. Funnily (hang on, horrifically) enough, my pregnant colleague experienced a very similar thing recently.

be kind flowers

Whether or not you agree with drinking coffee or alcohol, eating cupcake batter or dying your hair while pregnant, that’s not really the point. Each person has their own story, and their own convictions, and while maybe I’d choose to use natural products and cloth diaper my kid, doesn’t ever mean that I should judge or condemn anyone who does something differently to me.

IMG_8963-1.JPG

It got me thinking, as I sipped my evil coffee and nibbled on my wheaty, starchy, gluten, vegetable fat, and fake-flavour-filled croissant about how quickly we naturally judge others who choose different ways of doing things to what we do. Even as I blog about our greenISH life, I hope you never think I’ve got this down and that I’m all high and mighty. My story began from a personal conviction, NOT from wanting to tie a noose around my neck and label myself as perfectly ‘green’. I’m definitely not, and I’m happy to say so here. I write to inspire others, NEVER to make them feel judged. I’m failing miserably (and I sincerely apologise) if that has ever been the outcome.

So around all things pregnancy and birth (because that’s where my head is currently): I love this quote:

deer

I know of a beautiful, mixed, vastly different cultural group of friends who have never had a sip of caffeine and those who have had numerous (but safe) alcoholic drinks in their pregnancies. From HypnoBirthing, to elective cesareans, to un-medicated home births. I have dear friends who have had cesareans which have saved their and their babies’ lives. Those pro vaccine, and those anti. Those who eat strictly paleo, and those who live on quick, sneaky convenience food. Those who exercise excessively throughout their pregnancies and those who glue themselves to the couch from Day 1. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding; stay-at-home moms, back-to-work moms. Last night you would have caught me listening to positive birth affirmations, on repeat, in a candle-lit bath; and ask my hubby, each night we are currently listening to Marie Mongan’s Rainbow Relaxation CD as we fall asleep (after the Olympic Artistic Gymnastics of course). Oh, we are all so very, very wonderfully different.

And so while I’ve spoken to many gynaes, midwives and birth professionals about the yes or no to coffee, let’s all just hold our tongues a little quicker before we think our (personal and unasked for) advice is what every stranger in the queue behind us wishes to hear. I’m not saying we should live in a society where we can’t offer our opinion (please no), but let’s make sure it’s within relationship, it’s healthy, encouraging, and loving, even if it does involve rebuke. Okay? Awesome.

Happy Weekend you beautifully different, and equally wonderful people!

Let’s Talk Baby Food: Part 2

Here we are – the much anticipated Part 2 of Let’s Talk Baby Food with Deidre Lindeque, who is a Nutripaeds Dietitian and Lactation Consultant, (check them out on Facebook here). If you haven’t seen Part 1, you can find it here.

I promised we’d tackle the topics of Baby Led Weaning and the The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Grab a coffee – it’s another long one. Let’s dive straight in!

Baby Led Weaning:

(Personally I did ‘normal’ weaning for my first (you know, it felt like I was ‘sticking with the rules’), and then significantly more baby led weaning with my second. I’m imagining continuing the baby led weaning with number 3 – almost more for ease of eating times than anything else…)

Many moms ask if they should do “baby led weaning” or “normal weaning” – and Nutripaeds does not believe that one should practice one OR the other but ideally an amalgamation of both. For soft foods e.g. yoghurt, oats, nut butters etc. spoon feed as you would be eating such things in the same manner as an adult. Important however is not to underestimate an infant’s ability to self feed non-pureed foods much earlier than what was commonly practiced, so there is no problem with incorporating principles and ideas of Baby-led weaning into “traditional” weaning routines.

baby food yoghurt berry

Baby-led weaning is, it must be said, a somewhat cheesy term for just letting your infant self-feed. You cut food up into manageable sticks and offer it, they eat. It’s really pretty simple.

The key difference between BLW and traditional weaning, when you think about it, is in the order that children learn to eat. With a puree, they learn to swallow first and then chew, which works fine until they meet a lump. With BLW, the babies learn to chew first and swallowing might come sometime later.

It’s ‘baby-led’ in the sense that you let them do what they need to do while they’re learning, and as the parent you resist the urge to get wound up in knots about how much they’re eating, whether they like the food you thought they’d like and whether it’s mashed into the nearest carpet. The main thing is… it’s all good clean (messy) fun.

Some Simple tips for getting started: (How great is this advice?)

  • Forget ‘baby food’. Food is food – as long as you’re not adding salt and sugar. To start off with, think chip-sized because it’s an easy shape for little 6-month- olds to grip, but you’ll soon move on to smaller pieces as it’s more interesting for a child developing a pincer grip.
  • No bowls, they’re just asking to be flung heavenwards. Put the food on the highchair tray or table and remember, it’s all a learning experience for the baby at this point.
  • There will be mess! If you are weaning in summer don’t be afraid to eat outside or semi-naked. For winter invest in a great cover-all and pelican bib.
  • Putting a wipe-clean tablecloth under the highchair is a good idea if you have carpets and some people find that a crinkle cutter is handy to make food extra-‘grippable’.
  • Experience suggests that the more effort you put into making something special for the baby, the less likely they are to eat it 😉 Give them what you’re having. If they hate it, that’s okay, they’re getting their calories from milk anyway.
  • Of course it would be perfect if we ate every meal as a family but this isn’t always possible. Try to keep your ‘social activity’ head on, though, even if it’s just you and your baby sharing a sandwich at lunch. Keep smiling, keep enjoying, keep paying attention. It’s just good manners at the end of the day, something it’s never too early for a child to learn.
  • Don’t get too hung up on three meals a day, it may take a while to work up to that. Whatever’s convenient and enjoyable for you is best.
  • And don’t put too much on the highchair tray at the one time, just a couple of pieces of food will stop them feeling overwhelmed.
  • Actual hunger can be frustrating for the babies when they’re still getting to grips (quite literally) with things. Timing ‘meals’ to between milk feeds seems to be best, and because it’s just finger food you aren’t limited to staying in. There’s no reason why you can’t pack a wee Tupperware with some carrot or cucumber, buy a banana when you’re out or just pull some bits out of an undressed salad.
  • Never put food into a child’s mouth, let them put it in by themselves so that they can control it as it moves backwards.
  • Nappies and their contents will soon fascinate you in ways you never thought possible. Raisins re-hydrate, little pieces of still-green broccoli sneak through the digestive system and bananas produce poo with strange black threads.
  • Have a camera ready to capture those first gummy, carroty smiles because as daunting as it may seem, weaning is a very short time in your child’s life. So remember to enjoy it…

Finger Food Ideas:

  • Steamed (or lightly broiled) whole vegetables such as green beans, baby sweetcorn, mange-tout/sugar-snap peas).
  • Steamed or lightly broiled florets of broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Steamed, roasted or stir fried vegetable sticks such as carrot, pumpkin, butternut, potato, aubergine, sweet potato, parsnip.
  • Raw sticks of cucumber (great when straight from fridge to ease the gums of teething babies).
  • Thick slices of avocado (not over-ripe and they become very soft and squishy)
  • Fruit such as pear, apple, banana, peach, nectarine, halved grapes, pawpaw, mango – either whole or as sticks.
  • Cheese – sticks of firm cheese e.g. cheddar or gouda and well as cubes/triangles of full fat cream cheese.
  • Dried fruits such as mango strips. Baby sweet corn and fingers of peeled cucumber and avocado are all yummy and easy.
  • Starchy foods are nice ways to incorporate energy especially into fussy eaters, some fun finger starchy include: balls made of cooked rice or quinoa and small pieces of toast fingers.
  • Rice cakes, rusks and dry breakfast cereals such as all bran flakes and multigrain oatees.
  • Mini brown bread sandwiches cut into triangles, fingers or squares – suitable fillings include mashed banana, hummus, grated cheese, cream cheese, mashed avocado, nut butters.
  • Falafels, lentil balls and mini meatballs – beef, chicken, ostrich and lamb mince variants – one can also cook it as a meatloaf.
  • Cubes of firm cooked fish, fish balls made with minced fish.
  • Cubes of tofu, slices or quarters of hard boiled eggs or strips of well cooked omelette.
  • Fishcakes or fish fingers (not processed variants).

NB: You do not need to use recipes designed especially for babies – just keep salt and sugar (and heavy spice) to a minimum.

Don’t be fearful of choking, as long as you are always present when your child is eating and as long as food is soft and pieces are small, your child will learn to chew and navigate his way through his finger snacks. Remember practice makes perfect and if you never allow your baby to practice with new foods and foods that need to be chewed then he won’t become an expert at chewing and he will be a choking risk. So relax and keep it simple and nutritious and watch as your baby enjoys this new feeding experience.

THE DIRTY DOZEN and the CLEAN FIFTEEN.

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The dirty dozen and the clean 15 refer respectively to the fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Why do we care? Pesticides are toxic by design! Different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including hormone disruption, cancer and brain toxicity (and many, many more). But for most people, switching to organic produce is a gradual process. Because organic foods tend to be more expensive than their counterparts, making informed choices in the produce aisle helps minimize pesticide consumption while keeping the budget in check!

Should you avoid the dirty dozen? Absolutely not! Fresh fruits and vegetables are always a healthier choice than processed foods. Besides, non-organic processed foods are sure to contain loads of chemicals too. Instead, let the guide dictate your allocation of organic vs. non-organic purchases.

Why eat organic food? All of this opens up a bigger discussion about the choice to eat organic food — and the reasons that not everyone does. Often, the decision comes down to bottom line. Non-organic foods usually cost less money. But there are other costs — hidden costs — that have to be considered too. These include abstract factors like the cost of demanding more from the earth than it can produce and the long-term health costs associated with ingesting chemicals.

There are also ways to offset the increased out-of-pocket expenses incurred by prioritizing organic foods.

Committing to cooking whole foods from scratch – alongside careful meal planning, home gardening and food preservation – can largely counteract the cost of organic food purchases. The process is gradual. Change takes time. And all of us have to work within our budgets.

Which is where the dirty dozen and the clean 15 come into play. The list is a resource to help you make the best choices for your health and for the earth, whatever your current budget or state of ‘greenness’. If eating from the dirty dozen list (non-organic) be sure to wash the fruit and vegetables well before consumption. (Find my handmade fruit and veggie wash here)…

The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)

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1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Sweet bell peppers
4. Peaches
5. Strawberries
6. Nectarines
7. Grapes
8. Spinach
9. Lettuce
10. Cucumbers
11. Blueberries
12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen (in order of least contamination)

1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Cabbage
6. Sweet peas
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Eggplant
10. Kiwi
11. Cantaloupe
12. Sweet potatoes
13. Grapefruit
14. Watermelon
15. Mushrooms

Avocado

…and that’s a wrap – WOW! Be sure to screen shot the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists for next you visit your local grocery store – or you can use this information to inspire a fresh change, and find a Good Food Club/Organic Drop off/Collection food system (such as Think Organic) in your area. I’m finally in the groove of ordering all my animal products (dairy/meat etc.) from local farmers and so bub number 3 is in for a treat.

Please don’t feel overwhelmed by all this info – one small change is how everyone starts, and often leads to the next small change and before you know it, life is looking a little different. Encourage the change, prioritize and go for it! Good Luck.

A HUGE HUGE thank you to Deidre and the Nutripaeds Team. They are fantastic and so inspiring! Visit them on Facebook here and online here and please give them some love.

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xxx

Have I introduced you to the Lara Ball?

If you’re in any Paleo/Whole30/Vegan circles, no doubt you’ve heard about the Lara Ball? And if not, well then, let me enlighten you.

This is quite simply one of my all time fave snacks for when you’re trying to be good (so you’re not spontaneously making fudge, or homemade custard to eat out of a mug, or tackling that tub of Haagen Dazs in your freezer – yup – been there). I hadn’t made them for a while and then when a group of girlfriends were keen on a month of paleo, I remembered my long lost friend and made some last night. And I’ve eaten about 24 in the last 8 hours.

So Lara Balls. So good, so sweet, so healthy, satisfying and ah, they just hit the spot when you need it most.

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WHAT YOU NEED: 

  • 1.5 cups Almonds (I know they’re expensive at the mo, but trust me)
  • 1.5 cups Dates (pitted, always pitted)
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons soft/melted Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Raw Organic Cacao Powder (optional)
  • However much you feel like adding Chia Seeds (optional)
  • Again, however much you feel like adding fresh Coffee Grounds (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Easy as. You throw your almonds into a food processor and switch on FULL BLAST. It’s loud. Really loud. So switch it on and run out the room. Once it calms down and those nuts have been crushed into small cous cous-like prices, add your dates. Then your coconut oil and then the optional extras. And blend blend blend. (My hubby loves the coffee ones, I’m not such a fan, but cacao and chia seeds – YUM!)

Once everything is nicely mixed, grab them in your hand and squish them into balls and pop them in the fridge. If you find they’re too dry then add a touch more coconut oil so they hold firm when you make balls. On the flip side, if they’re too oily, no harm, you can simply use less oil the next time. And when I say ‘next time’, I mean the next day because you’ll probably finish them all today.

Enjoy xxx

Image credit: www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com