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 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.

 

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.

Overnight Pumpernickel French Toast Bake

This hearty breakfast is perfect for a busy weekday morning or a relaxing weekend. Either way you can prep it the night before and just pop it in the oven when you wake up. L

Ingredients

6-8 cups of diced pumpernickel bread

2 cups coconut milk

3 cups cartoned egg whites

2 Tbsp. Maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Instructions

1. Place bread cubes into a large glass Pyrex.

2. Beat together coconut milk, egg whites, vanilla, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Then pour it over the bread pieces.

3. Cover pan with foil and place in the fridge for 4-24 hours.

4. When ready, bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes or until all the liquid has cooked through.

Serve with your favourite yogurt and fruit and a sprinkle of hemp hearts or blend with a smoothie such as the one pictured here which has coconut milk, frozen blueberries, spinach, banana, and hemp hearts  💜

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Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

To kick off the first day back to school/work routine I am sharing these moist and incredibly flavorful muffins. They are a source of antioxidants, probiotics, and omega3 fatty acids to help keep your family’s immune systems strong for cold and flu season! I used the new Sneakz Organic for an extra boost of nutrition. You can find more about it here.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Bobs Red Mill steel cut oats
2 scoops Sneakz Organic Chocolate Protein Powder
1/4 cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts
1 cup Silk coconut milk
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup Garden of Life coconut oil
1/4 cup honey (or coconut sugar)
1 banana
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (or other berry)

Instructions
1. Mash banana, then add honey, applesauce and coconut oil and blend until smooth. Set aside.
2. In another bowl mix together dry ingredients. Add in coconut milk and banana mixture and mix until moistened.
3. Add berries and pomegranate seeds then mix again and pour into muffin tin.

Bake at 375 F for 20-22 minutes

Crock Pot Thai Chicken Stew

I love making warm and nourishing meals in the winter time. This stew meets both of those goals perfectly and my boys all love it. This recipe is wonderful for a busy work day or a cozy weekend day. My kids love cutting veggies for soups and stews. For this tecipe they cut the peppers and green beans and measure the quinoa and rice. Getting them involved increases their interest in a meal every single time! I hope you and your family enjoy it too!

Ingredients

12-16 boneless, skinless Chicken thighs OR 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts diced

1 cup sodium free chicken broth

3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp. honey mustard

1 Tbsp. puréed ginger (or 1 drop Doterra ginger essential oil)

1 Tbsp. puréed garlic (or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced)

1 Tbsp, honey

2 tsp. tumeric

2-3 peppers, diced

1 onion, diced

20-25 green beans, chopped into 1” length pieces

1 cup cooked red quinoa

3 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup diced pineapple (optional)

Instructions

1. Mix broth, soy sauce, honey mustard, ginger, garlic, tumeric, and honey together.

2. Place chicken thighs or diced chicken breast, peppers, and onions into crock pot and add broth mixture. Turn crock pot on low and start cooking. (You will need 5-8 hours of cooking on low overall.)

3. After 4 or more hours of letting the chicken cook (and ideally at least 1 hour before you plan to eat), open the crock pot to shred the chicken apart. I like to do it on a cutting board, but you can also do it with two forks right in the crock pot if you wish too. Once done this, add the green beans, cooked quinoa and rice, and mix everything together. Continue to cook on low until you are ready to eat.

Hope your 2018 started off with a wonderful family day.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Small Shop Gift Guide

Last week I shared my SMALL SHOP STOCKING STUFFER GUIDE  This week I want to share some latger small shop products that I know you and your little ones would love

1.The LITTLE PARTNERS LEARNING TOWER will give the gift of joy for you and your children all year long! It is an incredible means for getting kids involved in the kitchen which has been proven to help increase their interest in food. It is also great for craft time and for homeschooling through experience and conversation. For my full review as well as locations to purchase it with in Canada, click here.

2. The MIFOLD BOOSTER SEAT gives your child a more independent and “big kid” feel in the car while creating space and ease for you. For my full review of this innovative option for booster seats, you can look here.

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3. Travelling this holiday season? Pulling out a brand new REGALO TOT COT could be a neat way to announce the trip or surprise your child when you arrive. I think pairing with a new pair of Christmas pajamas would be a neat touch too! We love to travel to see family but we have grown tired of taking play yards, blow up mattresses, and bedding in tow everywhere we go. The REGALO TOT COT came in super handy this year and relieved us from the extra hauling. Not only that but the kids absolutely love them. They call them their travel beds and sometimes ask to hang out in them for weekend quiet time at home! You can find more information on our experience with them working this post from the summer.

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4. We have been using our PLANET BOXES for a few years now and the twins love them. They like to help me pack them. They find them easy to open. And they enjoy seeing all food options at once to be able to go back and forth between foods instead of choosing one container at a time. I like that they are super easy to pack and clean. They cut down on our use of packaged foods. And they offer a variety of food colours, textures, and flavors all at one sitting. We purchased two Rovers a few years ago and that is what is pictured here. This is Clay’s and has a “no dairy” label from Mabel’s Labels in it since he is allergic to milk. MABELS LABELS personalized name labels would be a cool “bow” on top of a wrapped Planet Box. I also mentioned these in my Stocking Stuffer Guide.

 

5. DYLBUG PERSONALIZED PLATES are a perfect way to make your child feel special at meal time while also inspiring creativity with food and boldness to try new things. This is a wonderful approach to eating and establishing a good relationship with food and meal time. The alphabet series takes learning during meal time to a whole new level. We love to use our “L is for LION” plate at LUNCH time. See what I did there 😉😉

6. I fell in love with the look of OS AND OAKES shirts and beanies the first time I saw them but it wasn’t until I felt the quality that I wanted to overhaul my entire children’s wardrobe with this line. My boys love the little ostrich on the back and the slogan “catch me if you can” will make any child’s eyes light up. Honestly moms, this is a clothing line worth investing in!

6. A VEGGIE BUDS CLUB SUBSCRIPTION would be a great gift that gives all year long. Each box is full of recipes and activities to do with your children. It is a subtle and fun way to engage your child more with foods that they are less familiar with. This past month Rhett and I had a wonderful time making the Broccoli Nuggets from the November Broccoli Kit on a few occasions.

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8. Learning can be so fun when the approach is creative. Use of the KINDERGARTEN TOOL KIT has supported incredibly fun learning in our home for a long time. From letters to site words to numbers to shapes…this tool kit has it all! My older boys love using the white board, marker, and eraser for fun “spelling bees” and math games while Rhett likes to find shapes in the house that match the shape flash cards. We also love to use the letter cards when we bake to make our kitchen time learning time too.

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There are many other wonderful shops that I would like to highlight, but I will stop here for now. I hope this has given you some ideas for your little ones of gifts that will be useful for you and exciting for them at the same time while supporting a mom entrepreneur. Later this week I will be sharing my “Expectant/New Mom Gift Guide” and next week you can watch for “This Mama’s Favourite Things”.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance Between “the Cookies and the Carrots” of the Holiday Season

I am often asked how I handle holiday treats with my children so I decided a post was in order. The reality is that my main goal to create a healthy relationship for my children with food. So the choices I make surrounding food always go back to that. Here are a few things we consider when it comes to this topic.

  1. We want our boys to remember that their bodies still need the same base of nourishment that they need in all other seasons of the year. Treats are special and cannot cover the nourishment their bodies need. They are not to be consumed all day everyday. We talk about the fact that a treat is something “extra” we choose to enjoy. We encourage them to savour and enjoy treats rather than rushing through them. We also remind our chidren that they may not feel well if they have a lot of treats as they are not the main fuel for our bodies.  I often use the phrase “having more of that may cause your head, tummy, or teeth to not feel well”.
  2. Our boys are not given a treat or restricted from a treat based on if they are “good” or finish the food on their plate. The treat food is planned from the start as long as they feel like it. They are also given full option to save it for later if they are too full at the time it is served. It is not a “now or never” but rather a “when you wish to enjoy this”.
  3. We use “Division of Responsibility” to determine when and how much of a treat will be offered. The boys can decide if they will eat it and how much they will eat of it. If we are at a social gathering we chat about all the treat options and we let them know that they are welcome to choose one favourite OR share a few favorites with each other.
  4. We love to make and offer healthy, fun treats. Red and green fruit and veggie platters, berry cakes, green (spinach) waffles with red berries and yogurt, and snow men made out of pancakes and yogurt can be really fun and exciting for young children and yet still offer great nourishment. Involving them in the preparation takes it to a whole new level of excitement.
  5. Creating a fun food craft is another way that our children enjoy Christmas treats. They love to bake and decorate gingerbread men and cookies and although they have been known to take a few bites here and there, they tend to enjoy the decorating more than the eating. The reality is that creating joy from experiences rather than food sets them up much better in the long run.

These are just a few thoughts on the topic that I have. I hope it is helpful. Thank you for reading.

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Feel free to share your thoughts below. I would love to hear your ideas on this topic.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Small Shop Stocking Stuffers

I love finding stocking stuffers that will truly be enjoyed all year long. And while a small toy or book is wonderful to include, I also wanted to give you a few other ideas for your children’s stockings this year that would support small shops and be of use to both your child and you throughout the year.

1) Baby Buddy
The Brilliant! Kids Sonic took dental care to a whole new level in our home in 2017 and we could not be more thankful. You can read more about them here. Our boys absolutely love these toothbrushes…especially the fact that they light up and offer more autonomy in tooth brushing. They are the perfect size for any stocking.

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2) Mabel’s Labels
We use these phenomenal labels on everything from sweatshirts to lunch boxes to backpacks to boots to hockey helmets. There are several kits to choose from depending on your needs. You can find one of the kits we have here. Our boys LOVE helping to add a new label and call that item their very own. Sticking a personalized booklet out the top of a stocking would be very special on Christmas morning.

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3) Kiddo Bloom
As you know, I am all about supporting autonomy in children. We love how Kiddo Bloom cutlery does exactly that in our home. This stainless steel cutlery looks the same as the adult cutlery at the table but is the proper shape and weight for little hands. I also LOVE that they are one piece making for a more sanitary option compared to two piece cutlery.

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4) Kindergarten Tool Kit Flash cards
If you have a child between the ages of 2-5 these flash cards would be a really special gift that includes time together as you help your child learn their letters, letter sounds, numbers, shapes, and/or site words. In out home, we use the flash cards as part of cooking/baking as well as games and set learning times.

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5) Meals with Milton
Milton arrived at our home this summer and has been a welcome part of family meals, baking time, and more. Most recently he enjoyed watching us do some Christmas baking. We have Milton participate in the fun times AND in the “food trial” times so he is not anxiety provoking but rather a friendly face at all times. If you have a fussy eater or a child who struggles with trying new foods, I would consider having Milton peak out of your child’s stocking on Christmas morning.

6) The Original Squeeze

It’s not a bottle, its squeeze! And it is the perfect, mess free, easy to clean option for smoothies and purees for school lunches or on-the-go snacks. These come in a variety of colours and sizes. I chose my kids favourite colours when ordering and they use them almost every day. You can see my fill review here.

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I hope that this gives you some fun new ideas for stocking stuffers this year. Watch for my Small Shop gift guide for young children coming soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!