Love Child Organics: Nourishing for First Foods to Growth Spurts and Everything in Between

This post is sponsored by Love Child Organics. All the statements, thoughts, and opinions are my own and not altered in any way for the sponsoring company. 

I have loved the squeeze pouches from Love Child Organics for years. The puree squeeze pouches have always stood out to me because they are more than just “applesauce”. They have kale, beets, carrots, pumpkin, quinoa, and more. They are a great “on the go” snack or a value add to a rice or chicken dish that needed a little more moisture for my children’s taste. It wasn’t until recently that I started using several more of this amazing companies products. If you are not familiar with the brand, I highly recommend that you check it out. Here are my families top 3 favourites right now in addition to the fruit puree pouches.

1)Snack Food Alternative: My children often ask for goldfish cracker but it is not something that I am willing to serve them. However, I have been purchasing an alternative for their lunches recently that meets their tastebud desires and my dietitian standards. They are the Love Child Organics Owlies. These are Organic Spelt cookies that are dairy free and nut free so all my children can have them and they are school safe. They are very low in sodium and sugar which I appreciate for a snack food. The boys get a few in their lunch once or twice a week. They know that these are not meant to take the place of fruits, but rather are a healthy additional snack in their lunch. To be honest I enjoy them with a cup of tea in the afternoon sometimes too!

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2) Nutritional Boost: A few months ago my youngest son, Rhett was going through a bit of a “low appetite” phase. While continuing to offer small meals and snacks throughout the day, I also offered him a lil’ shake from Love Child Organics after nap most days. This gave him a little extra boost compared to a glass of milk and was also very easy if we were headed to get his brothers from the bus stop at that time. His appetite soon returned and I reduced my use of the shakes but he continues to enjoy them now on days when we need a “grab and go” or if I think he needs the nutrition boost. The reason I like these over other brands of supplements is that Love Child uses organic milk as a base and the ingredient list is short, readable, and packed with items I want my children to have such as pumpkin puree and coconut oil.

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3) Iron Add-on: Adequate iron status for young children is vital for brain growth and development. I am always looking for ways to add a little extra in.  Lately I have been adding the Love Child Organics Oats and Chia infant cereal to baked goods in our home and it has gone over very well! Keep an eye on the Love Child Organics Blog for a Breakfast Cookie Recipe that is iron rich great for the whole family!

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If you have any questions about these or other Love Child Organics products, please feel free to ask in the comments below. Until next time…stay healthy!

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Golden Chicken (Four Ways)

Have you heard of Golden Milk? It is a blend of plant based milk, turmeric, maple syrup and black pepper. When I was introduced to it I loved the flavour and wondered how I could use the power of turmeric and this awesome flavour combo in a meal recipe. From this, “golden chicken” was born and has become a very common meal in our home.

You can make Golden Chicken four different ways: crockpot with boneless chicken thighs or breasts, oven with boneless chicken thighs or breasts, as a casserole dish, or as a stove top “one pot meal”.

Here are the three recipes:

Crock Pot (per 4-6 people): Combine 2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth with 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 cup honey mustard, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 1 peeled and pressed clove of garlic (optional). Pour this mixture over 8-12 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) or 4-6 chicken breasts (whole or diced). Cook on high for 1 hour and then turn to low for an additional 4-6 hours. Serve with quinoa or brown rice and your favourite fresh or roasted veggies!

Oven (per 4-6 people): Combine 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. honey mustard, and 2 Tbsp. maple syrup. Pour this mixture over 8-12 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) or 4-6 chicken breasts (whole or diced). Cover and bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Serve with quinoa or brown rice and your favourite fresh or roasted veggies!

Casserole (per 4-6 people): Make as descried above but add 1 cup of dry brown rice, 1 additional cup of liquid, 1 cup of diced baby carrots, and 1 cup of mandarine oranges to the pan. Then allow for an extra 15-20 minutes of cooking time. Always check to ensure that everything is cooked through as ovens vary.

Stove Top (per 4-6 people): Combine 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. honey mustard, and 2 Tbsp. maple syrup. Set aside. Dice 4 chicken breasts and place into non-stick pan. Add a small bit of water and cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Add broth mixture, 3 cups of cauliflower rice and 2 cups of diced vegetable of your choice (ie. diced carrots, peppers, peas, and corn).  Let simmer on medium heat for a few minutes then turn to medium low and cook until the broth as steamed off.

This is a wonderful dish to”cook once/eat twice” or cook enough for your family AND another family that could use help with meals.

What is Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, what are the signs, and how can we manage it with small children?

There is a lot of attention given to Type 2 Diabetes these days but not nearly as much awareness is raised around Type 1 Diabetes. I have partnered with Americord to talk about what this type of Diabetes is and the symptoms and signs to watch for in case your child is affected.

There are three types of Diabetes: type 1 (DM1), type 2 (DM2), and Gestational Diabetes (GD). Type 1 DM has also been labelled as Juvenile Diabetes as it usually is diagnosed before the age of 18. However, this alternate title has faded in use as we have more and more children and adolescents diagnosed with DM2 and DM1 can be diagnosed in adults, although rare. DM 1 has a strong genetic link but may also result after certain type of viral infections.  When someone has DM1, it means that their immune system has mistakingly attacked the beta cells in their pancreas resulting in little or no insulin available to help their bodies use the glucose consumed. As a result glucose builds up in the blood stream which can lead to low energy and damage many areas of the body.

So how can you tell if your child has DM1? The main signs/symptoms are:

  • excessive thirst, especially for juice
  • frequent/excessive urination
  • weight loss/trouble gaining weight
  • low energy/asking to rest or sleep all the time
  • frequently sick
  • cuts and bruises take a long time to heal

Remember that any one of these in isolation may be related to other causation factors, but it is always worth a conversation with your pediatrician if you are concerned.

If your child is diagnosed with DM1 then they will need insulin provided for all carbohydrates consumed. The frequency and amount will be determine with your child’s health care team and eventually your child may be able to move to an insulin pump instead of injections. One of the biggest challenges with small children who have DM 1 is determining how much they will eat at a meal. A diagnosis of DM1 does not exempt our child from “food jags” or fussy eating. In fact, these normal developmental stages may be even more extreme. If you are struggling with this, please remember that the Division of Responsibility still applies. However, you may need to alter it slightly. If you have given your child insulin for a certain amount of carbohydrates and your child is refusing supper, it will be tempting to offer juice or candy to ensure their blood sugar does not go low. However, this can lead to development of poor habits. Instead try to always add a nutrient-rich and carbohydrate-rich food to the meal that your child likes along with exposure to one they don’t love. Also don’t be afraid to talk with your child to to help them understand how they might feel if they don’t eat enough. Setting them up for success and offering the “why” behind nourishemnt can reduce meal time stress and battles and leave your child developing habits of choosing nutrient rich foods over quick fixes like juice. If you find that this is a daily challenge then be sure to speak to the Registered Dietitian on your child team for more strategies that are specific to where your child is at.

DM1 is a lifelong disease and the best approach is to teach and guide your child to make healthy choices that support their overall health and blood sugar balance as best possible. Also remind your child that this disease does not define who they are. They are 100% whole and able human being with the potential to do anything they put their mind to! If you have any further questions on this topic, feel free to comment below or speak to your local health care team.

The Value of Meal Assembly at the Table

Children love to show what they can do. They love autonomy in choices, independence in tasks, contributing in the home, and creating things. As parents and caregivers we are to decide what a child is offered to eat and when, but the child is to decide if and how much they will eat. Offering children the opportunity to create their own version of a meal follows this division of responsibility while also allowing for independence and contribution from them to the meal.

I have partnered with KiddoBloom to bring you a fun lunch (or snack) option that your children may enjoy assembling. It offers representation from 3 food groups and is packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, and healthy fats.

Place a pita, wrap, or whole grain crackers on a plate along with cucumber slices (or alternate fruit or vegetable) and a scoop of hummus or mashed avocado. Then let your child decide what is next. They may choose to dip the pita and cucumbers in the hummus or they may choose to build a stack, wrap, or sandwich.

And even if they don’t eat it all, remember that exposure is key! Even food sitting on a plate or touched but not consumed is an important exposure that contributes to increasing interest in and variety of food consumed.

What is Celiac Disease and why is a Gluten Free Diet Essential for it ?

This is a question I am commonly asked as a dietitian. I have partnered with Americord to bring you answers to this controversial area.

First of all, let’s talk about what gluten is, then how it relates to Celiac Disease, and steps your family can make to accommodate a family member who has been diagnosed with this disease.

Gluten is a form of protein found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and many other grains  it is also found in many condiments via addition of grains such as most soy sauces, BBQ sauces, and salad dressings.

Celiac Disease (CD) which is an autoimmune disease which includes an allergy to gluten. If someone has CD, then it is essential they follow a strict gluten free diet. Even trace amounts of gluten can evoke a negative reaction. Individuals have usually had less than optimal vitamin and mineral absorption prior to diagnosis so it is always good to have a proper assessment done and determine if any supplements are advised to help with any deficiencies. In terms of food preparation, here are a few tips to keep your home GF if a family member is diagnosed with CD.

  1. Read ingredient lists well. Watch for words that indicate wheat, rye, barley, or any other grain that may contain gluten. A common one is “hydrolyzed wheat protein” in many salad dressings and other condiements. Even soy sauce contains wheat and a GF version must be used.
  2. Have a toaster that is dedicated to GF bread only. Label it and set it in a separate area than you regular toaster.
  3. Switch out wheat based pasta for rice pasta, lentil pasta, chickpea pasta, cauliflower rice, or spiralized zucchini
  4. Always have quinoa on hand that can be offered hot or cold.
  5. For oatmeal try Bob’s Red Mill GF steel cut oats. Their GF pancake mix, pizza crust mix and other mixes are also great options for a quick and easy meals
  6. For baking use a mix of GF flours as one kind alone may lead to a dense baked product but mixing a few together can be quite nice. If you are looking for a GF muffin recipe you could try this one that I have been making for years.
  7. If using luncheon meats, be aware of any fillers that contain gluten. 
  8. Offer lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as these are always free of gluten.
  9. Be sure to ask at restaurants if they offer GF options and if they ensure proper preparation techniques of these away from any products that contain gluten.
  10. If travelling, take your own GF snacks from home to ensure adequate nourishment along the way. We really like taking fruits, veggies, GF hummus, GoGoQuinoa biscuits, and BohoBars in our home.

Also, remember that consulting an RD upon diagnosis is a great idea. You can contact your local College or Dietitians to find one in your area. And as always, feel free to leave questions in the comment section below.

 

Almond Butter Chicken

Last week my boys were having bananas and almond butter as an after school snack and they asked if we could have almond butter with supper. I was already planning to make chicken but had planned on Chicken Feta Bruschetta. I love when the boys are involved in meal planning so I quickly agreed that including almond butter would be a great idea and through this recipe together. It was a huge winner all around and I decided it was definitely one worth sharing so here it is!

Ingredients (per 6-8 servings)

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or water)

1/2 cup natural almond butter

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

1 tsp. tumneric

1 tsp. garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Mix broth, almond butter, soy sauce, honey, and spices altogether.
  2. Place chicken in an oven safe dish and pour mixture over chicken. You may also wish to add a little extra broth or water around the edge of the pan for extra moisture.
  3. Cover chicken with lid or foil and bake at 375F for about 35-45 minutes (until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.)
  4. Serve with any sides your family enjoys and put any leftovers away for quick and way lunches or suppers later in the week.

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Choosing Lactose Free Milk Alternatives for Children

This post was sponsored by Americord. All content was written by me, Noelle Martin MScFN RD.

We recently chatted about the Breastmilk and Lactose Intolerance in Babies. Today I wanted to take this one step further and talk about how to handle lactose intolerance once a baby stops nursing to ensure that their GI system is happy and they are well nourished.

Ideally children 2 and up will drink 16 oz. of milk per day for the nourishment they need…but how can we reach this goal for a lactose intolerant child?
The first thing to consider is the age of the child. If they are under one year of age, then a lactose free formula is best. From 12-24 months there are two main options. One is to continue with the lactose free formula. The other is a lactose free whole milk. Whole milk (or homogenized) is 3.25% fat. This is the best milk choice for children age 12-24 months who are no longer breastfed due to its high fat content. Fat is essential for brain and eye development in children and choosing a lower fat milk product at this age would take away from the fat in their diet. For lactose intolerant children ages 2 and up, lactose free 2% milk is a good choice as it has sufficient fat. So how does this lactose free milk work? Let me explain.

Cow’s milk contains lactose which is a sugar made up of glucose and galactose. During digestion our intestinal villi secrete lactase, an enzyme, to break down lactose back into glucose and galactose. Lactose free cow’s milk has lactose added to it so the breakdown occurs in the milk rather than our guts. There are many micronutrients that naturally occur in cow’s milk such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12 (among others), and then vitamin A and D are added as per government regulations. The nutrients in milk work together to help us build and maintain strong bones and teeth, but also serve many other purposes as well. For some children they may have further restrictions, such as a casein allergy. From there it gets a little more complicated.

Here are a few important points about milk alternatives:
Soy milk: Soy milk has the same fat percent as 2% milk so it is a suitable option for children over 2 years of age. It is recommended to avoid soy formula and soy milk for infants. Soy milk also provides the same amount of “complete protein” as one cup of cow’s milk. It does not, however, contain all the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as cow’s milk. So if you are choosing soy milk, then please ensure that you choose one that is fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 at least and ideally others as well. Because the micronutrients are added, they do not stay suspended in the milk very well so it is best to shake the carton of soy milk very well before pouring it to ensure that you are actually ingesting what you have paid for. Some people do not want to consume soy milk because of its estrogenic properties, so then we have to look at other milk alternatives.
Coconut milk: Coconut milk is the next best option for children as it has the same fat content as 2% milk and soy milk. However, that is where the similarities end. Coconut milk is not a source of protein or any micronutrients. If a parent is choosing coconut milk for their child, then they need to replace the 16-18 grams of protein that would be provided by 2 cups of cow’s milk or soy milk each day AND ensure that the coconut milk is fortified and (as I said above) shake the carton well. A nice way to add a complete protein into coconut milk is to blend in hemp hearts. These are packed with complete protein and omega 3 and just add to the creamy nutty flavour that is already in coconut milk.
Two other milks that are commonly considered are almond and rice milk. These milks are not a source of fat or protein and are only a source of micronutrients if fortified. These milks are not suitable for young children unless they are mixed with higher fat and protein sources such as hemp hearts and chia seeds.

Breastfeeding and Infant Lactose Intolerance

This post was sponsored by Americord. All content was written by me, Noelle Martin MScFN RD.

As mothers we often feel guilty that we are to blame for anything that occurs negatively with our children. We wonder if we could have done something differently before pregnancy, in pregnancy, or after they were born. But the truth is that some things are out of our control. This is the case with a lactose intolerant infant. The great news is that there are great strategies for moms who wish to breast feed and have a lactose intolerant baby. Let’s go over a few important points in this area.

FACT: The main carbohydrate in breastmilk is lactose.

QUESTION: Can a mom breastfeed an infant that is lactose intolerant?
FACT: Yes! A mom can breastfeed a lactose intolerant baby by removing the lactose containing food and beverages from their diet.

QUESTION: Is there anything a mom can do to prevent lactose intolerance in infants?
FACT: No. There are a few reasons behind lactose intolerance in infants and none of these can be traced back to anything a mother has done. It could be due to a premature gut, congenital occurrence, genetic condition, or secondary to a gastro virus or illness. Whatever the reason, it must be managed effectively.

QUESTION: Does maintaining a “Lactose Free” requires a breastfeeding mom to give up all cow’s milk product?
FACT: No, “Lactose Free” requires a mom to give up all lactose. This does not mean all cow’s milk products. Let’s look closer at this….

Cow’s milk contains a sugar called lactose which is the combination of glucose and galactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when one’s body does not have the enzyme lactase to break the bond apart between glucose and galactose. If we add this enzyme to food products, then we have glucose and galactose already freed in the presence of all other nutrients still available. This is the case with lactose free cow’s milk alternatives. In these products the enzyme lactase is added to the milk or milk product allowing for lactose to break apart into glucose and galactose. This leaves a slightly sweeter taste in the food, but no alteration in nutritional composition. All the same levels exist of protein, fat, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and D, and all other vitamins and minerals usually present too. So a mom is left with a product that meets her nutritional needs while not bringing any distress to her infant. There is a wide array of lactose free milks, yogurt, cheeses, cottage cheese, sour cream, and ice cream available throughout markets in North America. Over time a mom may try to add a small portion of lactose containing foods to her diet to see if her infant reacts okay. If infant appears to be okay, then they have likely “grown out” of their intolerance. If they have gas, bloating, irritability, reflux, and/or loose stools, then returning to a lactose free diet would be advised. It is also important to note that lactose may exist in hidden places. Milk may be found in bread and other baked goods, salad dressings, and other condiments. These trace amounts may be tolerated by some infants but not others and it is best to use caution.

In the end the goal is to reduce baby discomfort and have a happy, healthy, growing baby and you as mom know your baby best and what is working for them and you!

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Fitness Friday: Hydration

Ladies! Did you know that the first sign of dehydration is thirst??? That’s right! If you are thirsty, then you are already dehydrated. Okay, grab a sip of water and then keep reading.

Today I want to talk a little about water needs for everyday life and when we are active. The reality is that everyone is different as to how much water they need. We can get water from beverages and food and our body actually makes a bit of water called “metabolic water”. The recommendations we have are for the amount we get from beverages which is meant to meet about 80% of our goal needs. For women this is 2.7 L per day. However, there are many factors that increase our need for hydration including activity. In general, adding 2-3 cups of water per each hour of activity helps to replenish our bodies. That is, if we are well hydrated first. Below are a few tips to consider, but as always, consult your health care provider for more individualized recommendations.

1. Aim to drink 4 oz of water for every hour you are awake. In addition to this enjoy milk/milk alternative and herbal tea for additional hydration. This will allow you to head into a workout well hydrated.

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2. For every 8oz of coffee add an additional 4 oz of water. For every alcohol beverage do the same…add an additional 4 oz. of water.

3. Drink 8 oz. of water before your workout; 8-12 oz. during your workout; and 8-16 oz. after your workout (in addition to 8 oz. chocolate milk as we talked about last week).

4. Notice signs of dehydration such as thirst, irritability, fatigue, headache, and nausea.

5. If you live in a hot climate, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or work in a forced air environment, your needs for water are higher than described above.

Until next time…stay healthy!

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Toddler Backpack Essentials

When we head out for the day there are certain things that I always like to have packed in Rhett’s bag. Whether we are headed to preschool for him and work for me or to a play date or run errands together, the fact remains that toddlers needs are high! Lol. Rhett has a new back pack from Gabby Box and it truly fits everything perfectly!

Here are some of things we have been taking with us lately.

3FA9231C-0B01-4E61-99A6-70993408CD741) Snacks…all the snacks! I like to take some fresh fruit or veggies to offer first and then have some healthy prepackaged options as back up. Pictured here: halved grapes in a Wean Green container; whole grain chia cookies from My Super Foods, and a box of Sneakz Organic vanilla milk.

2) Spare clothes (and underwear). Rhett does not have many accidents and is a pretty clean eater, but if I don’t have back up on hand then I could be in trouble if anything happens. You just never know! Pictured here: shirt from The Blue Envelope and pants with elastic waist from Gymboree. Not pictured: spare underwear.

3) Indoor shoes. This is for the winter months. When we arrive in wet boots I like him to have a clean shoe option. Pictured here: shoes from StrideRite.

4. Books and activities. I never know when we will need to wait somewhere or if I will need Rhett to be occupied for a few minutes. I like to takes books that he can look at or we can read together, flash cards that we can work on our letters, numbers, and colors with, and a boogie board that he can draw on or practice his writing skills. Pictured here: flash cards from Kindergarten Tool Kit  

I hope that is helpful for you if you are entering into the stage of toddler back pack time. 💙