Baby food for the lazy, crunchy mom

IMG_5826.JPG

Food before one is just for fun! It’s true, it is very fun! It’s fun to experiment and expose your baby to a wide variety of flavours and textures. We are doing mostly baby lead weaning (blw) because it can offer baby a variety of texture right out of the gate, and it has been said that children are less picky if they were introduced solids via blw. In addition to blw, we are bringing some mashes and textured purees into the mix to get a bunch of flavours in there. Without much of a plan I decided to venture into the world of solids for my exclusively breast fed five month old. My only real rule was that I was going to stick with mostly vegetables ahead of fruits but incorporate some pears and other easily digestible starter foods at first and then work our way up.

I was browsing the baby food isle the other day and I decided to see what the store bought baby food had to offer. I was thinking about offering some jars or pouches to see what flavours my little one might like and to have on-hand for days I want to give him something quick to try. I realized very quickly that not only are there different store food brands but also that not all of these brands are created equal.

My top choices for store bought baby food are:

  1. Love Child Organics
  2. Baby Gourmet
  3. PC Organics

I like these brands because their ingredients are clear and straight forward. Some other brands offer products with an exorbitant amount of salt in a small jar of strained carrots, for example. Seriously, this is not necessary and could be harmful to baby! I am not sure why there is such a large discrepancy but I would strongly advise anyone to read the labels before purchasing. That said, I am not opposed to store bought food at all. I think it’s good to have a variety of flavours and textures and sometimes that’s easier to do with store bought food if you are a busy family and need a quick snack, just make sure you choose wisely!

Going into introducing food, I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I really liked the idea of baby led weaning and still do but I also realized I need to start slow and for me introducing some textured purees as well as offering some chunks of avocado, sweet potato or butternut squash was the way to go. I ended up purchasing some pre-made food from the above brands and I am trying out different flavours as well as offering my own organic produce and food from my plate. Like anything, there are so many different approaches to introducing solids. Some people like to space out offering different foods to make sure there is no reaction and offer foods that are easy to digest, initially. I am opting for a more trial and error approach as we don’t have any food allergies and baby is still mostly exclusively breastfed, I just didn’t want to offer too many sweet fruits right off the bat.

One book that I find super helpful is Sprout Right. It really gets into the nitty gritty of baby’s first foods and offers some great tips, suggestions and recipes.

I also stumbled upon this great article from Joyous Health. I was really debating whether to make any of my own baby food at all but, I am so glad I tried out some of the recipes that she recommended. I was also reminded by my friend over at http://www.northofbloom.com that there is a lot of nutrition lost from the store bought foods and so much more is in your control when you make your own. I decided to make some of my own after reading this Joyous Health article and let me tell you, the zucchini basil puree was a huge hit! I also like and as the article states, because zucchini has a high water content it can help prevent constipation in baby which can become a problem when introducing solids.

When I decided to try my hand at making some initial purees, I bought all of my ingredients for the baby food from my local farmers market from an organic and local producer. I found my immersion blender to be really helpful for this task. I wanted to make baby food that still had some texture so that he gets used to different flavours and textures in food. The zucchini basil puree has been the biggest food success so far.

IMG_5983.JPGIMG_5984.jpgIMG_5987.jpg

Other foods we have tried:

  • Avocado – This was the first food I offered and I offer this one quite regularly. He likes it mixed in with some baby oatmeal which i like to give periodically for some iron. He is still a bit unsure of eating is as chunks just yet. Avocado is the perfect first food for babies, because they are high in the good kind of fat (monounsaturated). 
  • Butternut Squash – I baked some butternut squash is small, square chunks, and he absolutely loved it. According to Sprout Right, butternut squash is one of the best first foods for babies.
  • Sweet Potato/Yam – I offered my babe some sweet potato oven “fries.” He enjoyed sucking away on the crispy/soft disks of orange goodness. I wouldn’t say he loved it just yet but he was definitely getting used tot he different texture and I will continue to offer this to him.
  • Zucchini Puree- This has been the slam-dunk of all the solids we’ve offered thus far. He absolutely loves it! It was so simple to make!
  • Pear Puree – Went down fine but he wasn’t that interested in it, probably a little bland.
  • Raspberry – I gave in and offered him a little treat with the sweet fruit. His reaction was quite interesting but, I think he enjoyed himself. I just gave him pieces of the fruit softened in a bit of water. He sucked on them and played around with them but was eager to have more.

This is just a start and we will continue offering these and other foods as well as he gets older.

The following is a very helpful guideline to introducing solids:

According to the article BABY FOOD INTRODUCTION on joyoushealth.com, these are some of the foods that are great for first baby foods:

• Chicken bone broth
• Mashed avocado
• Sweet potato
• Winter squash purees: sweet potato, acorn squash, butternut squash
• Mashed green peas
• Apple and pear sauce
• Pureed spinach and kale
• Banana
• Apricots
• Pureed steamed broccoli

And, some foods that should be introduced early on:

• Peanuts (as soon as is safe, using a natural peanut butter)
• Potatoes (as soon as is safe)
• Carrots (as soon as is safe)
• Cabbage (as soon as is safe)
• Meat (as soon as is safe)
• Oats (as soon as is safe)
• Wheat (as soon as is safe)
• Rye (before seven months)
• Fish (before eight months)
• Eggs (before ten months)

All organic/non-gmo of course!

Joyous Health is a great resource!

The bottom line is as mothers, we are all just trying to figure this whole thing out. I am no expert but my goal is to expose my son to a variety of healthy foods so that he *hopefully* will enjoy healthy foods as much as possible! And while its so exciting to try new foods, it’s so important to remember that food before one is just for fun! Realistically, it’s probably all a crapshoot anyway and by the time they reach four they’ll mostly be interested in mac n’cheese… LOL.

What were your baby’s first foods!? 

Quick and simple snacks I always have on hand

IMG_5598.JPGI have always been a grazer but, in recent years I have had a hard time remembering to snack between meals, especially when I am busy with work and other things. Now that I am breastfeeding I am finding myself even more hungry, more often. There are a few simple items that I try to always have on hand so that I can always have something healthy to fuel my body.

Nuts – most nuts are full of good and healthy fats and are great for a quick pick me up in the mid afternoon. Many nuts offer protein and I find a little goes a long way in terms of filling me up. I will grab handfuls of raw walnuts, almonds or cashews. If you are trying to watch your weight be mindful of how many you are eating as they are high in fat but, a small handful is great beneficial snack which is super easy and quick! It is important to get a variety of nuts in your diet because different nuts have different health benefits. To learn more about how nuts can help your health, check out this article.

IMG_4042.JPG

Energy balls – I love a great bite of superfood goodness. There are endless combinations you can try and they are generally very simple. I have a favourite recipe from Oh She Glows that basically tastes like raw cookie dough but they are made with healthy ingredients.IMG_4115 I also, for a healthy treat,  will buy some locally from a shop called Little Tucker as they have a great variety of options, packed with super healthy ingredients to help boost your energy throughout the day!

Here are a few links to my favourite energy ball recipes. Oh She Glows Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Joyous Health Sexy Maca BallsPeanut Butter Cup Energy Bites – Minimalist BakerClassic Almond and Cacao Energy Balls – Deliciously Ella. 

IMG_0095.jpg
Avocado – I always have avocado on hand and seem to eat it with breakfast lunch and dinner.For a snack, what I like to do is scoop out an avocado onto a plate and season with a bit of sea salt and eat with some crackers. A lot of times I add a nice slice of aged white cheddar, when I want to indulge. Avocado is such a healthy fat and it also contains about 458mg of potassium! You really can’t go wrong!

IMG_5711.jpg

Granola – I love making granola bites. I eat granola on basically everything including toast and yogurt. Lately, I have found an awesome way to enjoy it as a quick snack. I mix some granola with coconut oil and peanut butter and press into an ice cube tray. I place in the freezer for 15 min and voila, a quick and convenient snack! Granola is great because it combines so many healthy ingredients into one pot. Just use whatever your favourite granola recipe is.

Raw Veggies and Hummus – You can’t go wrong with any type of veggie. I also like making my own hummus (it’s super simple) and using that as a dip for veggies like carrot sticks, red peppers, celery, broccoli, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. I like to have some veggies cut up and on hand ahead of time so that it’s a quick and easy snack!

What are your favourite fast and easy snacks? Comment below! 

The one skin care product I cannot live without

FullSizeRender

I am a pretty low maintenance person. I don’t like to make too much of a fuss and generally value sleep more… (I really need a hair cut though…) But, I am also extremely cautious when it comes to what types of products I put on my skin and therefore into my body (the skin is the largest organ). I have talked about this company on Thoughts in a Moment before and, I still cannot get enough of this product line!

While there are a tonne of products I love from Eminence Organic Skin Care, the Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer takes the cake. If I have nothing else, I will have this on-hand. I discovered it after going for regular skin-maintenance facials at The Natural Art of Skincare in Calgary. They sell the lot of Eminence products, use them in their skin treatments and are experts! I have always had skin issues and in particular, I have been plagued by clogged pores and blackheads. This stuff has done wonders for those issues! I use it every other day after my Eminence routine (i’ve been slacking lately) but this stuff seriously saves my skin!

According to the Eminence Organic Skin Care web description:

Use this ultra-light daily moisturizer to detoxify and clear the appearance of problem skin, while leaving behind the appearance of irritation or clogged pores. Cucumber and tea tree help prevent the appearance of blemishes and reduce the appearance of inflammation while probiotics exfoliate and soothe the complexion.

The best thing is, it is made with all natural and organic ingredients, as are all Eminence products! It smells amazing, like fresh cucumber water, and my skin quite literally feels like it is able to breathe better after I use it. This moisturizer works to sooth and moisturize your skin while detoxifying your pores! It is so amazing! Some of the ingredients include; cucumber juice, willow bark, calendula, and Eminence’s own BioComplex™ which is a booster of antioxidants, vitamins, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid.

So, if you are looking for that added boost to your skin care routine, I highly recommend adding this product! It also works great for me with the Eucalyptus Cleansing Concentrate and the Lime Refresh Tonique, both Eminence products.

I’ve added a photo below of me without make-up. I am a bit freckly from the sun and I look tired #momlife but, I am happy with how much Eminence has helped my skin. And while I do have some insecurities, I go in public without makeup and I don’t stress too much about it. I still have some scarring and small blemishes but Eminence and the Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer have really improved my skin’s overall appearance.

IMG_5872

 

 

 

Toxic pads, tampons and even diapers. Do you know what’s lurking in your products?

design

There are many things in life that we just have to deal with. As women this list includes periods, and if you are a parent, poopy diapers.

So, as humans, over centuries we have found ways to make these products better, more absorbent, cheaper, and nice smelling. But, at what cost to our health?

This is something that I have questioned for some time now and have found others looking into the same things.

According to womensvoices.org, most feminine care products have chemicals and ingredients that can be harmful to our health.

Tampons: Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash.
Pads: Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. Studies link pad use to allergic rash.
Feminine Wipes: Hazardous ingredients may include methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, parabens, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, Triclosan and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns include cancer and endocrine disruption. Studies link wipe use to allergic rash.
Feminine Wash: Hazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, DMDM hydantoin, D&C Red No.33, Ext D&C Violet #2, and FD&C Yellow #5. Exposure concerns include endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and asthma.
Douche: Hazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals and the spermicide octoxynol-9. Studies link douche use to bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, low-birth weight, preterm birth, HIV transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, ectopic pregnancy, chronic yeast infections, and infertility.
Feminine Deodorant (sprays, powders and suppositories): Hazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, and benzethonium chloride. Exposure concerns include reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and allergic rash.

Feminine Anti-Itch Creams: Hazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylisothiazolinone and an active ingredient, benzocaine, a mild anesthetic. Exposure concerns include endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and unresolved itch.

Source: 

http://www.womensvoices.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals/feminine-care-products/products/

Here are my top alternative brands to traditional organizations:

1. Naty – I love this company! They have a wide variety of products and I don’t feel like the quality is compromised. The company was started in Sweden by a mother who wanted to have safe products for her sons. They started of with baby products but now they include feminine hygiene products as well. Their feminine hygiene products are made of a GM-free corn product and are all chlorine and fragrance free.

2. NatraCare – This one is the most readily available. They offer good options and the quality is pretty good. Sometimes I find they aren’t as absorbent and I have to use more pads, thus costing more money. Unlike Naty, NatraCare’s foucs is on feminine hygiene. Their products are all made of organic cotton, and are chlorine, plastic and fragrance-free.

Other products that are good are the Diva Cup or a sea sponge. I have not tried either of these but I have heard they are really great alternatives and way, way less wasteful.

Also, if you are interested in more eco-friendly options – check out this article, Have an eco-friendly period, which discusses reusable options.

Now, on to diapers…

This is something that everyone should be aware of. Much like feminine hygiene products, diapers contain similar ingredients that can be very harmful to children. Disposable diapers can contain chemicals such as Dioxins, VOC’s and Sodium Polyacrylate. This article explains the dangers. 

My opinion is, babies don’t have the ability to choose what they wear day in and day out so it is important to make sure they are wearing the best options. The best for them and for the earth is cloth diapers and there are some great products on the market that can help to make this easier. Using cloth diapers isn’t only good for the earth, it is good for your wallet as well. Some estimates put the cost of diapers at $3,000 over the 2-3 years your child spends in diapers, where cloth diapering costs around $300.

Here are some great brands to check out:

My personal favourite, Omaiki, I find their fit and style (all in one) is the most like a disposable. IMG_4744.JPG

Some of my other favourite cloth diapers include:

Apple Cheeks 

AMP

They all have good qualities it’s just about what works best for your baby! It has been a lot of trial and error but for us the Omaiki seem to work the best!

 

Also, if you are in Calgary, I highly recommend checking out Babes in Arms, in Bridgeland for cloth diapers and all your eco-frieldly needs. They are a great resource and have great products!

But, there are many times when disposable diapers are a handier option.

Here is a great resource for non-toxic options:

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 9.42.19 PM copy

I personally really like the performance of Naty diapers but, the Seventh Generation baby and Earth’s Best diapers are more readily available in my area and at a better price point.

Five months in: Baby products I cannot live without

IMG_5859

The baby industry is a big industry and it seems like there is absolutely something for every need a baby would have, and then some! There are many baby products out there and many are completely unnecessary. There are a few however, that make my life so much easier! One of the biggest things that I have learned being a mom is that all babies are so different, I mean, it makes sense right!? What works for some, may not work for all. There are a few things though that make my life so much easier and they may work for you too!

  1. Aden and Anais bibs and muslin blankets – I was gifted the muslin blankets by my good friend over at www.northofbloom.com. These are seriously the best blankets that can be used for literally everything. The bibs are large and super soft too. I couldn’t live without these two items!
  2. Camilia Teething Drops – We hit the teething major early. At five months we have two teeth but he has faired pretty well pain-wise. I find the Camilia Drops are a great natural alternative remedy for teething. The drops are a solution of diluted German Chamomile and have really helped to calm Gabe down. Read more about these drops and their ingredients, here. 
  3. Sophie – So, I had avoided buying the Sophie for as long as possible. I was thinking that this piece of rubber made to look like a giraffe couldn’t be all it’s cracked up to be… well, everyone I talked to said their babies love it! I was skeptical and cringed at paying $30 for this teething toy. Well, I must say if you are going to buy any teething toy, buy this one, they love it! There are a few different Sophie models, some which are easier for younger babies to hold. I got the original Sophie and while it’s a bit difficult for him to maneuver at the moment, he really loves it!
  4. Antilop High Chair – The Swedes do everything better, don’t they? This is a super inexpensive option for a high chair, from Ikea. It is compact and does the job. You cannot beat this price point!
  5. Exersaucer/Play Mat – Babies at this stage need to be entertained and don’t have a long attention span. It’s been important to have a variety of activities. I recommend a large play area where they can move around freely (yes, they get around quickly at this stage).
  6. Soft toy with many textures – Like the previous point, a soft toy with many textures and crinkly sounds can help keep babies at this stage entertained. Toys like this are a life saver in the car.
  7. Coffee/Drive Thrus – Yes, I need my coffee. Also, I never understood why people always needed drive thrus – I always went in. Now, I get it!
  8. Mesh Feeder – Mesh feeders are great for introducing solid foods and new textures. They also work really well for breast milk ice cubes for baby to chomp and suck on when they are teething.
  9. Rocking Chair – I never really used this when he was a newborn as he wasn’t much of a fusser. Now, it’s taking a lot more to get him to go to sleep, especially if he is overtired. I have the Poang chair with an ottoman and it works well, put me right to sleep!
  10. Carrier – I currently use the Ergo but, I would love a Tula. I like the soft structured carrier as I am a baby-wearing newbie but I am hoping to try a woven really soon!

There are endless items that you can buy for baby. I buy a lot of my items used, especially clothing because they don’t use items for long and it’s more environmentally friendly. These are just a few things that I find extremely helpful day-to-day and maybe you will too.

 

What baby items make your life easier?

\

Favourite foodie spots in Calgary

IMG_1662.JPGIMG_0966.jpg_MG_2619.JPGIMG_2115.JPGFullSizeRender.jpgIMG_3540.jpg

So, I love food, I mean who doesn’t? Really? In recent years, Calgary or, yyc as it is now more readily referred to as, has become quite the culinary hub. There are so many fantastic places to eat and I thought that I would share a few of my favourites.

From top to bottom:

Village Ice Cream, a local ice cream shop with a great story and even better ice cream! It doesn’t get much better than this folks! I dream about their salted caramel flavour, pictured above. All of the flavours are extremely accurate and true and are perfectly presented in this creamy, locally made ice cream. They even have a great selection of sorbets! I highly recommend stopping in here whenever you get the chance!

Wild and Raw is a superfood and juice bar located in the inner city community of Kensginton. They have a jam-packed menu of superfood filled elixirs and smoothies. They also have healthy snacks and meals to go! Check out this article for more information on this awesome Calgary superfood stop! Pictured is the “chaggacino” – my personal favourite!

The Coup, an amazing vegetarian restaurant located in the heart of Calgary serves up healthy, mouth-watering vegetarian meals. Organic, ethical and locally sourced ingredients go into these amazing dishes and I challenge anyone to find a dish they don’t like, even if they are a carnivore. They also offer take-out! I have a few favourites here, including the tempeh shawarma (pictured above) or the bun-me Vietnamese inspired sub, but, everything is amazing!

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery  is absolute perfection. I can say nothing bad about this place, well, except the fact that it’s not in the same area of the city as me so I can’t eat it daily (probably a good thing). When I lived in Sunnyside, I was a regular customer. Every baked good from Sidewalk Citizen is to die for. My favourites have to be their cinnamon rolls and the cheese sticks! I also recently tried the pizza (you can order it!) and omg, I have dreams about how good this pizza was (pictured above). Like, I can’t even describe the goodness of these baked goods without my mouth salivating and my stomach rumbling. My inner glutton comes out when it comes to Sidewalk Citizen, and I think it would be hard for anyone to refrain from buying copious amounts of baked treats from this place!

Last but not least, Analog Coffee is on my list as one of the best coffee shops in Calgary. I could probably drink 10 of their lattes in a row because the coffee is that smooth. Their array of treats is also super tempting. If you are looking for a Starbucks alternative and want high-end specialty coffee, I highly recommend this place!

 

 

 

My new favourite: the veggie bowl

FullSizeRender

We are a mostly vegetarian household with the exception of some fish in our diets. It has been difficult for me to make something filling without meat or fish and one that also satisfies all of our taste buds. This dish has hit the jackpot! It is super simple and you can basically use whatever veggies you have on hand at the time.

For this particular veggie bowl, I typically bake a yam or sweet potato in coconut oil for about 20 min in a 400 degree oven, prepare a green veggie (raw or cooked, typically I use broccoli), make carrot or zucchini noodles with my spiralizer for a nice raw crunch, prepare lentils, and rice.

To build the bowl I layer some brown rice in the bottom, surrounded by my veggies and lentils. I finish the bowl off with some avocado and fresh sprouts.

What really makes this veggie bowl come together is the sauce. While there are many sauces that go well with fresh and local organic veggies, my favourite is a peanut-tamari sauce in which i use about 2tbsp of peanut butter, 2tbsp of sesame oil, 1tbsp of tamari, salt and pepper, the juice of one lemon or lime and one minced clove of garlic. That’s it! The sauce is amazing and just the right amount of salty and sweet over the crisp veggies.

I hight recommend this dish as a quick weeknight recipe as it is easily adjusted to the preferences of picky eaters and with the peanut sauce on top, it is sure to please!