Going Grain-Free

Paleo’s been around for a good few years now and so has the gluten-free buzz. Personally, I don’t really believe in completely cutting out a whole food group for prolonged periods of time. Recently, I tried to do paleo and I succeeded for a good three months. But then real-life got in the way and I decided I loved food too much to stick to it 100%. Over my years as an athlete, I also tried the Zone diet (high protein and low carb), we went through phases of carbo-loading, for a while there I lived on protein shakes and carrot sticks (light-weight rowing was tough!) and we also did whole foods, high fats.

Since then, I’ve tried to find a happy medium where food doesn’t consume my thoughts (in a negative way, where you’re always thinking about what you “can’t” eat) and I’ve now got a nice 80/20 balance thing going on. For myself, I find that if I have less gluten, the better I feel. So, I opt for things like buckwheat, quinoa, kumara and my grain-free bread (recipe to come!). If I add in good quality olive oil, avocado and nuts (the good fats) I feel even better.

Because I feel better when I have less grains, I wanted to find out more about why that might be – surely my digestive system isn’t that different to my 6-month-old’s? Might he fair better with less grains too? This search lead me to Dr Julie Bhosale’s book “The Nourished Baby” which she released last year. In it, Dr Bhosale talks about baby’s digestive systems and the fact that they don’t produce the enzyme amylase, which splits the starches in grains, until they’re about 10 or 12 months old. Her blog here provides all the details.

What she said made sense to me and rightly or wrongly I chose to follow it, not introducing grains until he was about 10 months old – although he still only had 1 tooth, not exactly any molars coming through like Julie mentions! Because of this, I had to learn to be a little inventive when it came to breakfasts. Well, inventive from a traditional Western standpoint anyway. Dinner and lunch were vegetable and/or meat purees with olives, cheese or fruit as finger food. So those meals were naturally grain-free already.

mac n cheese 1
A simple mac’n cheese wasn’t on the menu for a while!

What I found really helpful was mashing some kumara/butternut/pumpkin every 4 – 5 days and keeping that in the fridge. I would use this as a base for breakfasts. Adding in scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, avocado. Some days it was banana and kumara with cinnamon or when we felt like toast we used store-bought paleo bread. This is really expensive, so I adapted a recipe I’d been using for years (look out next week for the recipe!). I also made some grain-free muffins (another recipe I’ll share) which were super quick and easy to feed him in the morning.

If you choose to do it, don’t be put off by thinking you won’t have any options for breakfast. Babies don’t know what we are ‘supposed’ to have at particular times of the day, so they’ll be open to almost anything. Get some mashed kumara out and literally add anything to it! Or go for some pureed fruit and yoghurt. We got in to smoothies for a while too, which is a nice summer breakfast option.

Give it a go! And let me know how you get on; I’d love to know.

Winter Chills

It’s definitely winter now in the Southern Hemisphere and that often means colds and sickness going around like wild-fire. Little man started day care a few months ago so we are well and truly feeling it.

Last winter was our first with a little baby and we don’t live in the latest state of the art house – in fact I’m talking like, probably no insulation in the walls. The consequence is that the cold isn’t a dry cold, it’s generally quite damp. So when I looked in to humidifiers or vaporisers for his room, I got quite confused by it all and ended up not getting one. Surely, I wouldn’t want to make my already damp house, even worse by putting up humid air with one of these vaporisers? I probably should have done more research. Anyway, we survived and only got a runny nose every now and then – we escaped pretty easily!

This winter is very different. Being at daycare will do that to you I guess! We have head cold after head cold, a horrible cough that lasted for what seemed like ages and a relentless runny nose that doesn’t seem to stop! So I did more research and more talking to my fellow mama friends. According to google, “the basic difference between humidifiers and vaporizers is that humidifiers disperse cool mist into the air, and vaporizers heat the water to disperse hot steam.” How is this supposed to help me make a decision?! However, I did read that cool mist vaporisers which don’t require a heat source, means that there’s no (or less) condensation. This was for me! Anything to help that cough at night, right? So we went ahead and bought this one. We also got the essential oil for nose and chest and I can honestly say that it seems to help his breathing. Perhaps a placebo effect but then again so many other people vouch for these things too.

I also double-whammy’d it with Vicks VapoRub. I’d grown up with it, remember sticking my head under a towel over a steaming bowl of Vicks when I had a head cold (the old-fashioned vaporiser/humidifier!) I’ve been putting a little bit on his chest and steaming up the bathroom when he’s in the bath with it too. But then I came across Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment. Oh my goodness, you guys have to try this stuff.

Winter chills1

Vicks is actually a petroleum-based product with the active ingredients being camphor and menthol (both are a cough suppressant and topical analgesic) and eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant). It also has cedarleaf and nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil listed in it’s ingredients.

Rawleigh’s is similar, but it’s a lanolin-based product with its ingredients being camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, lanolin and paraffin and ceresin wax. This stuff can not only be used as a decongestant but is also great for when your grub has sore ears (trust me, this stuff works!) and is good for cuts, bruises and headaches too. So, it’s much more versatile than Vicks. I’m always rubbing this on the entrance of Grub’s nose during the day and at night to help him breathe and I find it definitely makes a difference.

I didn’t get paid for this nor was I asked to write about either products here. I’m simply sharing because these are what worked for us and Rawleigh’s is something I think should be in everyone’s first aid kit at home. For the full list of “how to’s” visit this website, where you can also purchase the product online.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Nutritionist Natalie Brady

Natalie Brady is a Registered Clinical Nutritionist based in Auckland.

LG: Nat, tell us a bit about yourself and your philosophy to health and well-being

I have a holistic approach to health, which means when working with clients I address health goals and concerns by looking at all aspects in their life with nutrition as well as lifestyle factors (such as sleep, stress levels, exercise habits). I help women and men create a healthy, balanced and sustainable lifestyle one step at a time through simple diet and lifestyle changes. My approach isn’t about delivering a quick-fix, I want my clients to make lifelong habits and empower them to take their health into their own hands. When it comes to eating, I like to encourage people to focus on whole foods, which are as close to their natural state as possible and remove/limit processed and packaged foods.

I’ve been through my own health challenges and understand how difficult it is to break old habits, resist temptation and make lasting changes. I’ve suffered with asthma, eczema, sugar addiction, IBS, leaky gut, hormonal imbalance (PCO), low immune system, food allergies and intolerances, restrictive diets, fad diets, over-exercising as punishment from binge eating. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. This is the reason why I became a nutritionist, and the reason I started my blog. I want to share my experiences and knowledge with others to empower women and men to take control of their own life so they can feel like their happiest, healthiest, best self!

LG: As a new mum, I know I struggle to find time to have a hot cup of tea, let alone really focus on my well-being. What’s your advice for us time-poor people? Any tips to ensuring we’re still getting adequate nutrition?

  • Keep meals simple! Simplicity is key, this is my motto! Choose just a few healthy ingredients to create a simple meal. For example, smoothies or overnight oats for breakfast are a quick and nutritious option. One pan meals such as a roast chicken with roast vegetables, stir-fry with vegetables chicken/fish/prawns/tempeh/beans.
  • Meal prep.Spend one hour in the kitchen on the weekend to prep 1-2 healthy snacks as well as some meals or prep some ingredients for your week ahead instead. This will save you lots of time and reduce stress during the week. This could be a pot of soup, bolognese, freezing smoothie ingredients in packs, cooking and freezing quinoa in portion sizes ready to add to meals or making some snacks for the freezer. A pot of mashed kumara makes a great base for a lot of meals too.
  • Batch cook.Cook recipes that you can make in bulk so you can freeze portions (see LG’s blog here on this too!). Cook once, eat twice. This is a personal fave! Make extra serves when cooking for the next day’s lunch, dinner or freeze for another night. You can also make meals where you can serve it two ways, such as cook a big batch of soup or stew in a crock pot, or a bolognese sauce and serve with zucchini noodles one night and the other night serve it on top of baked sweet potato chips for ‘nachos’.
  • Have breakfast for dinner – try my super green omelette, or simple toss chopped tomatoes, capsicum, mushroom in a pan with eggs and top with sliced avocado or pesto.
  • Be kind to yourself and take care of YOU! When you take care of yourself it is much easier to take care of someone else.
  • Do your best, that’s all that counts. Take pressure off yourself and do what you can within your means. Give yourself permission to not have to be perfect.

LG: Sometimes it’s a struggle to get one meal on the table, not many have time to cook different versions to suit everyone! How might we incorporate healthy changes in to a family situation?

Get the kids involved. Give them a few dinner options to choose from each week and let them pick their favourites out of your healthy list. Encouraging your kids to be more involved in home meal preparation could be an effective health promotion strategy. Kids who help prepare healthy foods are more willing to give them a try.

LG: What’s your “go-to” weeknight dinner if you have to rustle something up very quickly?

Salmon and greens one-pan-meal, or a quick prawn stir-fry (I always have frozen prawns in the freezer) with whatever vegetables are in the fridge, and cooked quinoa drizzled in sesame oil. It’s ready in 15 minutes!

LG: We’re often told iron is important for babies from about 6 months old. But, what about us adults? I’ve heard it combats fatigue, what are some good sources of iron and how much is enough?

Iron is important as it’s vital for oxygen transport along with energy production. When red blood cells are deprived of iron they become contracted and smaller. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen, the consequence of not having enough oxygen in the body is constant fatigue. It can take up to 3 months to increase depleted iron stores as each red blood cell that carries iron has a life of 120 days.

There are two dietary forms of iron, heme (found in animal products) and non-heme (present in plant foods). The type of iron that’s found in grains and vegetables is not absorbed by the body as well as the iron found in meat. This means that even though a vegetarian might be eating decent amounts of iron, the body can’t process it as effectively, therefore, you’ll require more non-heme iron to maintain a normal iron store in your body. If this is the case then consider safe supplementation through your doctor or health practitioner.

 Best sources of iron: red meat, dark leafy green vegetables, spirulina, legumes, lentils, dried fruit such as medjool dates, black strap molasses. When you’re looking at portion sizes, try and incorporate a few of the above, almost every day and then you know you’re doing your best in this regard. Also remember; caffeine reduces the absorption of iron!

Check out our iron boost recipe for your little one.

 LG: “Good fats.” Something I read so often, but what are they and why are they important?  

Good fats are vital for great health and wellbeing and are important for bone structure and fuel. Fats plays a large role in keeping you satiated and help improve brain function, while also playing a key role the absorption of fab soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). They’re also great for keeping those sugar cravings at bay!

Good fats help to reduce inflammation in the body, support healthy cholesterol levels, make hormones, help to manage moods, keep you alert, protect organs, help to maintain healthy skin, provide structure for cells.

LG: What are some examples?

The best sources of fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut cream/milk, coconut yoghurt, coconut flakes, nut and seed butters, pesto, hummus, dairy products such as butter, greek yoghurt, cheese.

LG: Sugar, sugar, sugar! They say it’s as addictive as cocaine… why is it so important to ensure you’re not eating too much? What IS too much? How can we begin to reduce our intake and what/how might we keep those cravings in check?

 Sugar increases inflammation in the body, inhibits the immune system, feeds the bad bacteria in our gut, increases the risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity, mood swings, anxiety and sends our blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. The World Health Organisation suggests keeping our daily sugar intake to roughly 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men for optimum health. If you really look at what you’re eating, you will probably find it’s a LOT more than that!

To reduce sugar intake make simple food swaps, such as swapping fruit juice, energy drinks and fizzy drinks for water, or soda with slices of lemon. Swap white sugar for brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, pure maple syrup or raw honey. Swap cereal with rolled oats, chopped nuts and seeds and a piece of fruit. Swap simple carbs (white bread/pasta/muffins/bagels) with wholegrain options such as wholegrain breads, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potato, pumpkin.

To reduce cravings ensure you’re including fats and protein with every meal and snack, this will help to balance blood sugar levels. We have a great recipe for sugar-free bliss balls here!

LG: Some people might think eating healthy is expensive? What would you say to them?

Being sick is expensive too! Yes, snacks with nuts in them can be expensive. But have some rice cakes with pesto or vege sticks with hummus instead. A lot of people buy a coffee a day. Have one at home and you’ve got about $25 extra week to add to your grocery bill. Buy your veges at the local store rather than the supermarket, buy seasonal. You’re investing in your long term health and preventing serious illness later on.

I do advocate for organic where you can. The “clean 15 and dirty dozen” is a great way to focus your spending – you don’t have to buy organic for everything!

LG: Lastly, what are some snacks that we are easy to make and can be eaten on the go, suitable for everyone in the family?

  • Bliss balls are super easy to make and are a great nutrient rich satiating snack. You can make a large batch in under 10 minutes and keep them in the freezer. Check out Little Grub’s sugar free bliss ball recipe here!
  • Portioning out nuts/seeds into a zip lock bag, ¼ cup per serving.
  • Homemade protein bar – the nuts, seeds, coconut oil, tahini make it nutrient rich, higher in protein and healthy fats to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Boiled eggs, these make great finger food for babies.
  • Fruit smeared with nut butter or a handful of nuts.
  • Brown rice cakes with hummus/pesto/avocado and sliced tomato.

If you want to take charge of your health and have someone show you how, contact Natalie Brady here. Or, just have a browse of her website.

 

 

Introducing Meat

It’s recommended to introduce meat (or vegetarian iron sources, like tofu and lentils) at around 6 months old as this is when babies’ iron level requirements increase a lot more than what can be provided through breast milk or formula. But, I wasn’t sure how to actually introduce the meat. What do I cook it in? How do I feed it to him? I like my steak cooked medium rare, but is that okay for babies? Do I start with chicken or fish or red meat?

We ended up starting to introduce vegetables at around 5 months as we had a hungry little grub. So, when it came to introducing meat we had already established an eating routine and it just meant slipping it in to some of his vegetable combos that we had already tried.

I started with chicken first and then some beef, as chicken is slightly easier to digest than red meats. We didn’t do baby-lead-weaning, so it was a matter of pureeing meat…. What?! The concept of that was a bit weird for me. Perhaps a stupid question, but, how on earth do you do that? I thought about frying the chicken, but that might’ve been a bit dry, so I ended up sort of poaching it in some water instead, until it was cooked through. I then pureed it in with some steamed kumara and spinach. And… he loved it!

With beef, I fried some sirloin steak in some butter and pureed that; I didn’t bother with poaching it. I also fried it in some garlic too which little grub loved. When he got a little more dextrous, I also gave him strips of cooked steak or the “tail” end of lamb loin chops to snack on after his main meal. This was a massive hit!

One trick we tried (with both red meat and chicken) was to chop up some raw meat in to smaller chunks, freeze it in a snap lock bag and then if you’ve got some vegetables all ready to go, you can grate some of the frozen meat in to whatever vegetables you’re cooking. This is an alternative to pureeing cooked meat.

When it came to trying fish, I have a great salmon recipe (here’s the link) for you guys to try; this was the first fish dish he had and it went down very well, in fact he still loves it – make sure you check it out.

salmon kumara 1

For those of you who are vegetarians, you’ll be proud to know I tried a tofu, broccoli and pumpkin puree. I fried the tofu in some olive oil and then pureed it with some roasted broccoli and pumpkin. I’ll be honest; the tofu doesn’t blend to a smooth texture, it stays quite lumpy. But he still ate it with no complaints! If you guys have any tips on serving tofu to little ones, please let me know! Lentils are great; they can be cooked in a few cups of water and then pureed or mashed quite easily with any other vegetables. I have a great lentil curry recipe which I’ll share soon.

So what are my tips for introducing meat?

  • Start with chicken or fish for the first few times and then move to red meats
  • If you’re pureeing food, it’s much easier to puree meat together with a starchy carbohydrate vegetable (like kumara or pumpkin) rather than on its own
  • You can fry the meat in some butter or oil or you can poach it (basically fry in some water) until cooked through
  • If poaching, reserve 1 or 2 tablespoons of the water and include in your puree’s; it’s full of the nutritious juices from the meat
  • Don’t forget to try giving some strips of meat too; they love to gum the meat

Look out for some meat recipes to try over the next few weeks – your little grub will thank you!

 

What to pack…

…IN YOUR HOSPITAL BAG

This one’s for my soon-to-be-mama-grubs out there. If you know any, make sure you share this with them! When it came to thinking about hospital bags, I got quite excited. And then I felt a bit overwhelmed – it was all becoming a bit too real. And it was really confronting; it was actually going to happen. This baby was going to come out one way or another! Yip, I’d kinda buried my head in the sand for the past 35 weeks or so; concentrating on the pregnancy and then having a baby afterwards. Can I eat feta cheese or not? What type of cot and pram do we need? I’d missed out a crucial step – actually having a baby.

I’d never thought about the birth and the hospital, and everything that goes along with it, until I really had too. And that was when our antenatal class teacher suggested we get our hospital bags sorted. I picked up some good tips during that class on what to pack, and I’d asked around a few close friends who were seasoned pros at this.

I guess it depends what sort of person you are as to whether or not this applies to those having home-births. If it were me? I would want to have a bag set aside for everything I’d need, even if I was staying at home. I had my grub at a hospital, so what I may suggest in this post will exclude extra towels or whatever else you might need for a home-birth.

First things first. I would suggest having two bags actually. One smaller one that has the most important things in it (we will call this, “labour bag”) and a second bag that’s more of a suitcase (we will call this “hospital bag”). Think of this one as more of a “going away for three days” type suitcase. In most cases, you’ll be staying in either hospital or an after-birth care facility for a few days post-delivery. The main reason for having two bags is that you may need to grab the smaller bag as you rush through the hospital doors fully dilated (yes, this can actually happen even if it’s your first, trust me! But my labour story is for another day…) The second bag can then stay in the car and come up once little grub has arrived.

baby feet in hospital
The best part is meeting your little bundle and marvelling at how tiny their fingers and toes are!

The key thing to think about when packing these bags is what makes you comfortable? Do you have a favourite pair of track-pants you lounge around in on Sundays? Do you live in your dressing gown in the evenings? Do you have a candle you light when taking a bath to relax? If the answer to any of these is yes, then bring these things! One other thing I needed after only one day in the hospital, was a breastfeeding pillow. I didn’t have one yet as I didn’t know how I’d get on with breastfeeding, but honestly this will help your ability to breastfeed more easily in the hospital – their pillows don’t cut it. Oh and… definitely take your OWN pillow!

I’ll share with you exactly what I packed in my bags (even though I didn’t get to use any of my stress balls or lavender oil during labour – I was straight in and grub was straight out!) and I was very comfortable during my stay in hospital. Note, I never made it to Birth Care (you never know how your delivery will go), so don’t rely on your after-birth facility to provide things you’ll need.

Labour Bag:

2 x foam stress balls (from the $2 store) | 1 x face cloth | 1 x hand towel | Lavender essential oil (the idea here was that hubby would run the hand towel under hot water with lavender oil and put that on my back or belly) | Snacks (chocolate, nuts, Cookie Time bumper bars) and a lime flavoured pump bottle (my antenatal teacher suggested a flavoured water as you might not feel like plain water) | Ipod with a small blue-tooth speaker | Sudoku book and pen | Lip balm (your lips will get dry!) | Hair ties | Breast pads and maternity pads | Toothbrush and toothpaste | Postpartum spray (for that sensitive area. This I made myself and is so nice! I used 10 – 12 drops each of calendula and lavender oil and 4 drops of clary sage oil, mixed in with 30ml of water. Keep this in the fridge and chuck it in the bag when you’re leaving) | Togs or a bikini (if you don’t feel like going completely naked in the water, if you have that option) | Underwear including a thick pair of socks (your feet can get really cold) | 1 pair of track-pants | Maternity/breastfeeding bra | A t-shirt | Full bodysuit, a long-sleeved onesie and a cardigan for grub.

Hospital Bag:

Baby book | Many pairs of granny undies (I bought some larger sized ‘bikini’ style underwear from the Warehouse – amazing!) | 3 – 4 maternity bras | 2 x track-pants or loose fitting pants | 4 x Breastmates clip-on-cami’s (honestly, I LIVED in these things for 6 months. They meant I could wear all my normal clothes without buying special breastfeeding tops. You can lift your top up without exposing your belly as you’ve got a singlet!) | 3 lose fitting tops | Dressing gown | Toiletries (body wash, facewash, moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, mascara, foundation and many more pads!) | Slippers or comfortable shoes | 4 full bodysuits for grub, 4 long-sleeved onesies, a beanie, socks, cardigan, 2 x swaddles, a blanket or two for the car and a “going-home” outfit if you have one.

Oh, and one KEY tip is this: don’t take any really cute outfits to the hospital for your little one. Colostrum stains! Big time! If I did it again, I’d take onesies that I didn’t mind if they got ruined.

Do you guys have any other ‘must have’s’? I’d be interested to know!

PS. My bag is a Budu baby bag and I love it. It’ll turn in to a weekend getaway bag when we have the money and time to do that! It was a splash out when I found out I was pregnant (our journey wasn’t easy, perhaps more on that later) and I do not regret it. Go on, treat yourself.