Thankful for Kids in the Kitchen

During the holiday season life can be hectic and it can be easy to ask children to step aside and find something to do while we make holiday recipes and meals. The truth is that they LOVE to be included and truly can help woth many things. Here are five ideas of ways that your children can help prepare holiday goodies around your home.

1) Prepare Vegetables. Children can husk corn, pull the ends of beans, pull romaine lettuce apart, add ingredients to a salad, and wash any vegetable in the sink that you ask them too.  I like to use our Little Partners Learning Tower and put it right up to the sink and let them wash potatoes, beans, broccoli, and more! And you might be surprised how often they want to try what they have helped prepare…yes even vegetables!

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2) Pour, Mix, and Stir. Children LOVE to combine and mix. Try measuring out the ingredients for a recipe and then ask your child to come over and pour them altogether. And then allow them to mix the ingredients together. This is great for can sauces, casseroles, cookies, salads, and more. Sometimes they may mix more than needed, but a little extra mixing of mashed potatoes never hurt anyone;)

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3) Sprinkle. Are you adding grated cheese, hemp hearts, raisins, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, diced apples, nuts, seeds, or coconut to any dishes? If so, this is a really awesome activity for children. It may not seem like much to you, but to them it’s really special!

4) Knead. If you are making any recipes that require kneading or separating of dough, this is a great one for sensory play and development. Children love to explore new textures and get their hands dirty. So whether it’s gingerbread or your old family Christmas bun recipe, get them right in there. Baked goods made with the love of a child’s hand ALWAYS taste better.

5) Pull Apart. If you are making a turkey dinner, you are likely making stuffing. Children can pull bread apart so easily and will love that they are actually allowed to do so! Lol. Once you have a big bowl of cubes bread, this is a great teaching moment as you can show them the other ingredients you add in. Then as children get older, they can help with that part too and eventually can declare that they made the holiday stuffing! This is something my mom has always done a wonderful job of. She let me help out from a very young age and I know my confidence in the kitchen stems from that.

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This is just a few ideas for you as you create new memories and traditions with your little ones this holiday season. At the end of it all you will likely feel a touch more frazzled than if you had worked on it alone, but your heart will be much fuller and the memories you make will last much longer than any of the food you bake.

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Until next time, stay healthy!

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Peanut Butter Hemp Cookies

When your three year old suggests making peanut butter cookies you can’t say no. But if you are like me, you try to think of a way to make them a little bit healthier than your gramma’s old fashioned recipe. 😉

From that exact scenario this recipe was born. And if you have a peanut allergy in your family then Almond Butter would work or if want to send these as a treat in your child’s lunch then WowButter or SunButter would be just great too!

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup melted Garden of Life coconut oil

1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts

2 eggs

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

Instructions

1) Mix together peanut butter, coconut oil, eggs, hemp hearts, coconut sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

2) Once this is a smooth mixture stir in baking powder and whole wheat flour.

3) Take 2 Tbsp. portions and roll into a ball then flatten the dough down a bit onto a baking stone or sheet

4) Bake in 375 degree F oven for 18-20 minutes.

5) Once cooled, serve with a glass of choice of milk or yogurt and a sliced banana.

Note: Because these cookies have hemp hearts in them they should be stored in the fridge or freezer. And trust me that this is a good thing. If these little goodies sit out on the counter they  are WAY to tempting to overeat.

Hope your family enjoys these as much as ours!

Until next time…stay healthy!

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The Innovative and Amazing MIFOLD Booster Seat

This post was made possible by a collaboration with MIFOLD. The thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% mine.

This past summer my husband and I were chatting about how hard it is to travel with large car seats and how expensive rental cars are. We wished there was a way to take an uber or a taxi when we arrive on holidays but it seemed unrealistic to take car seats in and out all the time. We wondered if there was a more portable booster seat for our twins to at least to cut down on all we need to carry. We started researching and came across the mifold. This genius invention would meet our desires perfectly. The only issue that we could see was that it was certified for the USA and we live in Canada. With a few more minutes of research, we found that the mifold had recently been approved for use in Canada too. This meant that it would work for travel as well as everyday life at home. So now that I have explained how we became interested in the mifold, let me explain what exactly it is.

The mifold is a booster seat that allows for your child to be securely buckled into the car without the traditional bulkiness that a traditional booster seat brings. The mifold is a booster seat that weighs 1.6 pounds (yes, you read that correctly…the same weight as a small water bottle) and is about the size of large book (folds up to 10” by 5”). It easily fits in a backpack or large purse and can conveniently be transported from vehicle to vehicle.

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How does something so light and small and transportable keep your child safe? It’s quite simple actually. The mifold securely holds the seatbelt down to the child’s level. It rests on the bones of the hips, off the delicate stomach area, and on the shoulder, off the face and neck. This varies from traditional booster seats which raises the child up to be in a position of an adult.

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We have had our mifolds for about a month now and even though we have not gone on holidays with them yet we have used them several times for “everyday life” activities.
Here are three things that love about the mifold so far:

1) Easy to move/creates more space. In our van the bucket seats can now be used for the twins or adult passengers without the fuss of lugging heavy car seats in and out. In our car, we no longer need to jam the back seat with three car seats. We can fit the mifolds on either side of one car seat leaving more breathing room. Also, we can use those outer two seats for other things very easily between times that the children are in the vehicle. Once our youngest meets booster seat requirements then we will be able to have all three in mifolds across the back seat. The MIFOLD is designed for children 4 and over and is for the weight category of 40 to 100 pounds and height range of 40” to 57”.

2) Easy to transport. If we need someone to pick the twins up from school, we send the mifolds in their backpack. They easily fit and are light weight so are realistic to add to the twins load. We no longer need to add a car seat to anyone else’s car. Installation of the mifold can be done by the alternate caretaker and only takes 1-2 minutes unlike a car seat which can take 5-10 minutes (or more if it’s me installing!).

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3) Easy to clean. We like to give our children snacks on the go to ensure that they are well fed when arriving at various activities. Crackers, raisins, and other crumbly or gooey snacks have been banned from car seats in our home because of the awful mess they create. With car rides with the mifolds, we are back to offering these types of snacks. The mifold does not have little pockets that food can get caught in and are easy to wipe down with a little mild soap and water if needed.
Whether you have travel plans or just day to day booster seat needs, I would definitely recommend checking out the mifold for your child.
In Canada the Mifold is available for purchase at Canadian Tire (www.canadiantire.ca/en/mifold-booster-seat.html) and on the Mifold Canada website (www.mifold.ca/en/products). For addition information about the Mifold, please see the Mifold Canada website (www.mifold.ca) or the Mifold Canada Facebook Page: (https://www.facebook.com/mifoldcanada/).

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World KINDness Day

In my opinion, Emotional Intelligence is more important in terms of “success” in life that any IQ score. In light of this I strongly desire to teach my children about compassion, kindness, grace, and overall empathy for others. I want them to think of others needs over their own and love with a servants heart. Are you with me? If so, in honour if World Kindness Day, I have created a list of 10 activities of kindness that you can do with your children year around.

1) Each time you grocery shop ask your child to pick one non-perishable food item that they think a child would enjoy having whose family may not have enough money for food. Purchase this food item and have your child place it into a bag or box at home and at the end of each month deliver these items to your local food bank or a food bin that is designated for your local food bank.

2) Take your child to a local coffee shop and ask them to ask the person behind you in line what they would like to order. Then pay for that persons order and explain to your child the concept of “pay it forward”.

3) Sit down with you child and ask them to pick out a few toys or books that they would be willing to donate to Goodwill or an alternate donation location for others to use.

4) Talk to your child at breakfast and ask them if there is something they could do today for their teacher or a friend that would be kind/helpful.

5) Have a discussion at supper or bedtime and talk about ways that each person either was kind or experienced kindness that day.

6) Have your child help you bake muffins or cookies or a meal and take them with you to deliver it to a neighbor or friend in need or even “just because”.

7) Think about the words used in your home and talk to your children about how some words build people up and others bring them down. If there is a negative phrase or situation, take time to talk about how the other person feels and how the situation can be resolved to help everyone feel built up not torn down. Tell your children you love them. Hug them. Kiss them. Pray for them. These are ways that seem so obvious but truly are “acts of kindness” in the home. Creating a safe place with example within our homes of what we hope to see in the world is one of the strongest ways that we can lead our children to be kind and empathetic as adults.

These are just a few of many ways that you can work with your children in honour of World Kindness Day but truly on any and everyday to help raise a generation that values kindness and empathy above self serving behavior.

Untile next time…start healthy!

Seven Lessons I Learned from my Mom

I had the honour of being my mom’s maid of honour last Saturday. I am in awe of her zest for life as she is jumping into the phase of “newly wed” life all over again. This week has been a time of reflections for me. I am filled with joy for her new beginnings, but also have had moments of sadness as I will miss her. You see, she has lived with us for the last 5.5 years. She has been part of the morning rush and the evening conversations. Morning tea parties and happy hour spritzers. She helps the twins practice piano and lets Rhett play in the kitchen while she bakes. Her presence in our home was greater than I ever realized. As I reflected on this I was thinking of what I have learned from her that I hope I can pass onto my children.

  1. Turn to Jesus…especially when you don’t feel like it. Whether in the dark moments of life or the highest of highs, my mom always modelled for me and reminded me to take time for the Lord and turn to Him first for wisdom, protection, and love.
  2. Every little thing to me was a big thing to her. Whether celebrating a small milestone or looking for the back of an earring…my mom has always made me feel like her main priority. I want my children to know that too. I want them to know that in the small times and the big, I care about the finest of details. I pray that I will show up for them the way she shows up for me!
  3. There is always time for one more hug. Before leaving the house or going to bed, my mom has always taken time for “one more hug”. She lost her dad at a young age and I think this impacted her to never want to leave someone knowing there could have been just one more hug. If you ask my children what I say when they ask for a cuddle, they would say “there is always time for a cuddle”. This is truly a testament to the fact that my mom always had time for a hug and I want my children to take that into their life too. The idea that there is always time to ensure that those around you feel loved. That is more important than any task at hand.
  4. Pray with and for your children. My mom always prayed with me and I am sure I don’t even know how often she prayer FOR me. To this day she prays for protection for our whole family: “From the tip of their head to the tip of their toes, their eyes, their ears, their mouth, their nose. For their skin, and all the organs that are within. Bless and protect today please Lord”. I have adopted this and pray it with my children each day too. It is a wonderful reminder of all that can go wrong, and all we can be protected from.
  5. Give graciously. My mom has always modelled serving others. She does not look to her own needs, but rather to the needs of those around her. This is something that I struggle with. I am A-type personality and I like to make sure I get everything done on my list. But thinking back on the example my mom has set I realize how often she let her agenda go to help me reach mine. Perhaps this is the best type of leader a mom can be. perhaps I could spend more time ensuring my children’s agendas are met before my own.
  6. Listen more and speak less. My mom seldom had to ask me questions to hear about my life. She was just always ready to listen. I have learned even with young children how much they have to say if I just listen. Lately I have enjoyed evening chats with my one son and morning ones with the other. They have different times of the day that they wish to open up and I am learning to be ready for that and plan accordingly.
  7. When all else fails…bake and sing! If someone asked me what I picture in my mind when I think of my mom, I would say it is her standing at the counter humming a tune and making muffins. She LOVES to bake and I will be forever thankful for the hours she spent teaching me all she knows and that now I can pass it along to my children. grew up to have the same passion. I love getting my children.

I hope this provides you with some heart warming inspiration on this chilly autumn day that the choices you make now truly do impact your children. They may seem insignificant. And your days may seem like ground hog day. But someday your little girls will be moms and your little boys will be dads and the choices you make now are molding who they become. So, with that said, more recipes and food related posts to come soon. Until then…go cuddle your sweet babies. They are only little for so long.

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Tips for Dining Out with Kids

I don’t know about you but heading to a restaurant with young children can be a little anxiety provoking for me. When they were babies I used to bring everything but the kitchen sink with me to cope, but now that the boys are a little older I prefer to travel lighter. Over the summer I found that three strategies really helped me cope with creating a positive experience for eating out. If you are planning a little outing as a family after the first week back to school, I hope these are helpful for you!

1) Children tend to behave better once food arrives so the sooner you can get food in front of them, the better. There are two things that you can do in this area…

a) Look ahead at the children’s menu and order for your children as soon as you arrive at the restaurant.

b) Bring a small container of veggies and hummus with you for the children to enjoy before their meal comes. Some restaurants (like Tony Roma’s and Boston Pizza) provide veggies and dip but if they don’t, then this is a way to offer nutritious food while your kids wait.

2) Use the experience as a “teaching moment”. Talk to your children before going to the restaurant about your expectations for inside voices, manners at all times, and staying on their seat. Children like to know what is coming and what is expected…even if they need a few reminders along the way 😉.

Also, let your children use the napkins, utensils, and plates that are offered once they are old enough. This is great way for them to know that this is a unique and special experience which is a great reinforcement for those manners that we request on the way. Beyond the age of three a bib isn’t realistic, but messy hands and clothes are still very likely! My boys LOVE to use a napkin at restaurants, but I find they are hard to keep on them…leaving me with stained clothes and requesting way to many new napkins from our servers…anyone relate??? I was thrilled to find clips recently that can be used to hold a napkin in place around my boy’s necks or on their laps. The clips are meant for baby blankets but are perfect for this job too! They can be found here.

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3) Don’t worry if your child does not finish all their food  sometimes restaurant portions are enough for three toddler or preschooler meals! Allow for them to listen to their satiety cues and just take the rest home for another day. This is how we teach our children the art of not overeating….by never forcing them too. Also, you can order one meal per 2-3 children to save on money and food waste. If you do this and they are still hungry at the end of the meal, you can always offer fruit or an alternate healthy snack at home before bedtime.

I hope that these tips and ideas are helpful the next time that you head out with your crew. Eating out as a family is as much about the experience as it is about the food. And somehow with that perspective, it seems a little easier to handle !

Until next time, stay healthy!

 

Five Tips for Travelling with Young Children

We have had the opportunity to travel with our children several times since they were born and each time there have been things that stood out to me as significant in our success. I have chosen to share the top five tips that seem to hold true in all vacations that we have taken, whether for 3 days or 3 weeks, by flight or by car.

 
1. Be as efficient with space and time as possible.

  • When packing, have 1-2 back up outfits that are for the actual travel days stored in Ziploc bags at the top of one of your bags so they are easy to locate. Make up a complete one for each child with a diaper/pull up/or underwear and socks. The reason for the Ziploc is to prevent you from rooting through your child’s main bag to find a diaper or underwear and new clothes if they have a diaper blow out, accidentally can’t wait for the next bathroom break, or get car sick along the way. You need a new option as fast as possible. Also if room permits, pack a towel that can be sued to clean up any bodily fluid that has come out of the child at a less than opportune time.
  • When packing your child’s main bag, pack in outfits so that you aren’t bringing clothes that you won’t use. Bring one outfit per day with 2-3 extra tops in case one gets dirty mid-day with a spit up for babies or at a meal for older children. I plan on sleepers or pajamas to last for 2-3 nights. If these get soiled, then they are easy to wash in a sink and hang to dry if needed. For bathing suits, it is nice to bring two so that you have a dry back up.
    Side note: Bring a small container of clothing detergent just in case there are laundry facilities or if you need to do a sink wash for anyone. If you do not bring detergent, you may be left without a good cleaning option OR using one that causes a reaction to your child’s skin. Children get used to the detergent we use and vacation is not the time to play with that.

2. Set yourself up for successful sleep.

  • Ideal beds: Determine ahead of time where and on what your child will sleep. There have not been enough beds for whole family in most places we have visited. For several years we travelled with three play yards which worked well. Then when our older two outgrew them, we started bringing air mattresses. They were time consuming to set up, took up a ton of space, and Clay slipped off of his several time each night making a huge THUD on the floor. I was determined there had to be another way. Recently I found the Regalo Tot Cots. I was thrilled when they sent me two cots earlier this summer and we have used them on several occasions over the summer including sleepovers at grandparents, “camp” nights at home, and most recently a two week vacation to a family cottage. The boys honestly LOVE them. They find them comfortable and very special to sleep on. They have slept over 12 hours each night that they have slept on them and truly no complaints going to bed. Wes has had a few mid-day naps on his as well. Each cot comes with its own sheet and we let the boys use their favourite blankets over them. I have washed the sheets and dried them on low heat and they came out really well. No change at all! My husband and I were also incredibly thrilled with the compact carrying case and the 3 minute set up and take-down. The cots accommodate up to 75 pounds so we will be using them for years to come yet and will be investing in one for Rhett soon too!
    If you have any questions about these cots, please feel free to comment below or email me. I would be happy to answer them.
  • White noise: Houses/cottages/hotels all have their own unique noises. Children are used to the ones in their own home, but may find foreign noises alarming. Using an app such as NoiseBox on your iphone or ipad works well to help drown these out. I actually use it when I am away at my bedside too!

3. Young children like “the familiar”. It is beneficial to bring along a few things that remind your child(ren) of home. For example, have them choose 1 stuffed animal, 3 small toys (and I mean small!), 1 book, 1 blanket, and 1 cup. When they are involved in this process, they can feel secure knowing they will have these things from home in less familiar or completely unfamiliar surroundings. Depending on the age of your child you may also consider bringing their usual bowls, plates, and/or cutlery. This is something that I always do.

4. Bring toys and books for the travel time and the “down times”.  This tip will not eliminate the “Are we there yet?”, but hopefully it will help reduce them. A few days before you leave, head to your local dollar store and purchase several small toys/activities that your child will enjoy. Wrap them up individually and offer a new one every 20-30 minutes. It takes them a few minutes to unwrap it, and then they enjoy playing for a while. It helps to occupy them and keeps you feeling sane. These are also great for down times on holidays between planned activities or when you are trying to keep children quiet in the morning before other people are awake. When we are visiting the boys grandparents I find the mornings to be on the long side and this is one activity that I use to keep them quiet. I usually take wrapping paper and just re-wrap some items from the car/plane ride. I also like to visit the library either before we leave or at our destination to offer the boys new and exciting stories.

5. Be prepared for adequate nourishment. The tips for this point vary based on your vacation. Here are a few ideas:

  • For a road trip, pack plenty of bulk snacks with small containers on hand to distribute little bits at a time. These small containers can then be used on the remainder of the holiday. I also always take our PlanetBoxes with us. I can use them in the car if we travel over a meal time or as a picnic option as part of the holiday. For a plane trip, space is a little more limited, so packing each child with a small multi-section container works well or a trail mix in one container. KIND snacks are a great compact option for travel as they are lower in sugar than most other packaged snacks, shelf stable, and offer satiety for children and adults alike!
  • When you are arrive at your destination, head to a grocery store to pick up healthy snacks that are ready to eat such as whole grain crackers, almonds, yogurt, Babybel cheese, apples, grapes, baby carrots, baby tomatoes, snap peas, etc. If you do not have access to a fridge, then investing in a “plug in” cooler is a great idea. We have one that we use in the car and in most places we stay that are part of a road trip. If you do invest in one of these, you can also do more grocery shopping at home which saves money if you are heading to a cottage/tourist town which can save a significant amount of money and also ensure you have any specialty items that you need. For our most recent trip, I made up a two week meal plan and purchased most of the groceries from Costco before leaving. We transported them using a plug in cooler and one additional cooler bag. I will be sharing this meal plan and the grocery list that goes with it in my next post.
  • If you need to eat out as part of your vacation, seek out any Groupon deals or “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants. There are several sites for this information. Here are two that we have used:
  • If you are at an all-inclusive, then that part is a little more straight-forward.

As I said at the start, there are many other tips that have worked on various vacations we have taken, but these are ones that really stand out to me. I hope that they are helpful for you on your next trip with your children. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below. We are all in this together and I love learning from you too!

 

 

 

 

 
Until next time…stay healthy!

Banana Chia Muffins

The boys and I were in the kitchen today coming up with a yummy new muffin recipe. It’s a twist on their favourite banana muffins with added protein and omega 3.

Ingredients

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup chia seeds

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

3 large bananas, mashed

1 cup coconut milk (or your milk of choice)

2 eggs

2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Blend together dry ingredients in one bowl.

2. Blend together wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them to dry ingredinets and stir until blended but be careful to not over stir.

3. Spoon into muffin tin and bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes for mini muffins and 22-25 minutes for standard muffins.

Serve with a smoothie or glass of refreshing milk of your choice.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

Its National Registered Dietitian Day…so what exactly is an RD???

I am often asked what the difference is between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian. I decided that Registered Dietitian Day was a perfect day to chat about this.

The bottom line is that Registered Dietitian is a qualified and regulated health professional with a regulated title, and just about anyone could choose to call themselves a “nutritionist”.

Okay, so why does that matter?

Well, an RD is registered with a College of Dietitians…similar to the College of Physicians or College of Nurses, etc. We are held accountable for our actions and also required to go through an assessment and set goals each year and follow up each year to ensure we are staying on track with professional conduct and development. We also are required to have malpractice insurance. A nutritionist does not have anyone that they are accountable to. If they were to give inappropriate advice, there would be no recourse.

What is the education requirement to become an RD?

RDs must complete a 4 year Bachelor of Science followed by a comprehensive dietetic internship and/or obtain a Masters of Science. Following this, the individual must write an exam and pass this exam to be registered with their college. I am a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario. If I were to move to Alberta, I would need to re-write the exam to be accepted into the College of Dietitians of Alberta. The same would be true if I moved to any other country in the world. I would need to write the exam for that country’s College of Dietitians.

Dietitians are experts in nutrition and have guiding principles for counselling and overall conduct. Nutritionist is more likely to suggest more extreme measures and typically will not have as broad an understanding of overall health, as they are not truly a health professional.

I hope that this helps to clarify if you have ever wondered about this topic. Feel free to email me anytime if you have further questions.

Until next time…stay healthy!

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Butter…or Margarine…or is there another option???

I am often asked if I recommend butter or margarine and the truth is that I recommend neither. If someone wants to use an added fat, I recommend that they choose oil. Butter is full of saturated fat and margarine is super processed. Going back to the basics of oil is a consistent better choice. Then the next question is…which one should I buy???

Well, truth is having a few in he home can be helpful. Here is a quick rundown of the uses of some common oils.

Avocado oil: This is a great one for cooking at medium to medium high temps on the stove or in the oven. It has a nice light flavour and a higher smoke point than olive oil.

Canola oil: This one can also be used in the oven or on stove too and is great for baking  . It has the lowest concentration of saturated fat at a 7% concentration

Coconut oil: This is one that has spiked in popularity of use over the past few years  truth is, it’s uses are endless!!! As far as ingestion goes, it works well for baking or as a spread. It is quite high in saturated fatty acids which gave it a bad reputation for a lot of yeas, but with the unique structure of its fatty acids, they are not as harmful as the fatty acids in butter, and when consumed in moderation, coconut oil can be a very healthy component of a well balanced diet. So the next time you make pancakes or toast or even rice…and reach for butter or margarine…try this as your spread instead! It also adds a lovely flavour…if you like coconut 😉.

Flaxseed oil: Although packed with nutrition, this one is not good for cooking. It is at high risk for oxidation in the presence of heat. Use this one in small amounts as a supplement or added to salad dressing or oatmeal.

Grapeseed oil: This one is similar in its properties and uses to avocado oil but has a slightly heavier flavour…although it’s not a significant difference.

Olive oil: This is likely the most popular oil in homes; however, many people are misinformed on its ideal uses. Olive oil is not the best oil for use when cooking. In fact, it is recommended to aboid heating Olive oil beyond a low heat. It is at high risk for oxidation, which means when it is heated it can become harmful to the body. Ideally olive oil is consumed fresh as part of a salad dressing or bread dipper. It can also be added to oatmeal, rice, or mashed sweet potatoes for children that are struggling to gain weight.

There are are many other oils I could discuss, but I’ll stop there at the “more popular ones”. If you have questions about others, feel free to let me know.

Until next time….stay healthy!