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My new blog about juicing for pregnancy written for this fantastic new website resource for those interested in having a more healthy and raw pregnancy

30 Apr

My new blog about juicing for pregnancy written for this fantastic new website resource for those interested in having a more healthy and raw pregnancy

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Mama’s natural cures: environmental allergens and mouldy nightmares

5 Apr

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Spring time, a beautiful time of year when nature wakes up and displays it’s beauty. The sun begins to shine more and the buds burst with new life. On a less joyful note the pretty flowers and fresh green shoots also bring with them an onslaught of environmental, airborne allergens such as pollen and mould spores.

if you have a child who is either highly sensitive, has a leaky gut or challenged immune system there is a possibility they may also suffer from allergic reactions to airborne particles that can be a harmless threat to others.

i have personal experience of coping with a child from newborn to toddler with a severe allergy to mould spores and the most challenging aspect is accepting that you can run but cannot hide from these invaders.

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Here’s a list of common symptoms of an airborne environmental allergy such as mould in young babies:

  • Frequently swollen tongue accompanied with excessive dribbling.
  • Frequent red, runny  eyes.
  • Difficulty breastfeeding, often making a loud gulping sound to suggest restricted passage down the throat.
  • Extreme red skin rashes similar in appearance to burnt skin.
  • Intense cradle cap followed by hair loss.
  • Asthma attacks/ breathing difficulties such as frequently gasping for breath.
  • Excessive sweating during nap times, often with an odour of mildew. Frequent night terrors, even  during day time naps.
  • Unexplained prolonged crying episodes, especially during the lung time of 4-6pm/am, liver time from 1-3am/pm nd also from 9-11pm when the energy accumulates in the body.
  • Ongoing colic accompanied often by chronic constipation.

As baby turns into toddler some of the more severe symptoms may lessen such as asthma and skin rashes. With our little one the breathing attacks calmed down and only returned during intense emotional stress. Although dry painful stools cleared up, the irregular passing of bowel movements has continued due to mental rejection and fear of past painful passage. Furthermore, strong emotions of irritability, anger and dis-combobulation often re-appear during those healing times of day mentioned above, especially if the weather has been particularly damp with a lack of sun. Also, mood alterations increase during the mouldy seasons of late autumn into winter and early spring.

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During an unexpected 2 month trip to the mediterranean island of Gozo during our little one’s first year we discovered a welcome reprieve from all symptoms and sleep difficulties. In an ideal world we now know the ideal climate in which to raise a child with such sensitivities. As the Mediterranean climate is so hot and dry most of the year, this makes for a perfect environment where mould cannot proliferate. If like us however, you find yourselves residing in drearier climates like the UK here are some natural remedies and practical tips you can use to help manage the problem.

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  • Stock up on CLOVE OIL, dilute some in a spray bottle with water and clean your surfaces with it daily. Use an oil diffuser, especially during the night with a few drops of clove oil
  • Feed your child raw MUSHROOMS, even though they are a fungus they  work on a ‘like treats like’ basis. Lion heart herbs company does an amazing chocolate tasting super smoothie mix which tastes great and is packed full of medicinal mushroom extracts and anti-fungal, immune boosting herbs.
  • When the immune system is shot and there is mucus overload, add super loaded vitamin c CAMU CAMU berry powder to fresh apple juice for your child.
  • FOODS good for healing the lungs, the intestines and clearing up damp, fungus and mucus in the body include fresh, organic and raw: apples, beetroot, turmeric root, ginger root, cinnamon, olive oil, coconut oil, lemons, oranges, berries, dark leafy greens, garlic, pink or grey/brown sea and rock salt, seaweed, flax seed, plums/prunes and celery.
  • AVOID peanuts as they can contain a mould toxin. Limit dairy, especially cheeses as this can aggravate a mould sensitivity. Also bananas and wheat can be mucus producing.
  • Use pure PAW PAW ointment and fresh ALOE VERA to sooth even the most red raw of skin rashes.
  • Exposure of skin to SUNLIGHT without sun screen barriers is deeply healing for clearing mould out of the system. Make sure to limit direct exposure during the hottest hours 11-3pm.
  • Ease breathing attacks with HOT STEAM SHOWER BLASTS to create a steam room atmosphere which will help open up the lungs. A few drops of eucalyptus oil will help further
  • Invest in a DE-HUMIDIFIER for each room your child spends most of their time in.
  • Adapt to a more OXYGEN RICH living environment in your home. Make sure air can be re-circulated in all rooms especially the bathroom. Incorporate plenty of green plants (Peace Lilly is good for combating mould spores) round your home and ensure fresh air is replenished daily, ideally in the mornings by opening all the windows for a while.
  • Avoid living in MOULD HAVENS such as damp basement flats, rotting buildings and residences without enough windows or any outside space to dry damp washing.
  • Take REGULAR DAILY WALKS in nature with your child to oxygenate their bodies. A walk by the sea is especially helpful to heal lungs, also a salt lamp in the home can be beneficial.

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Finally, remember that allergens challenge the liver. Considering the fact that all drugs also tax the liver you may want to consider whether it is worth administering these to your child as a first resort.

All these natural remedies have come as a result of being challenged with learning how to bring back balance to my little one’s health in a way that respects the body’s natural delicate ecosystem. Even though this experience has been emotional and at many times overwhelming, I thank it for the lessons it has bought me to pay attention to what’s going on around us, inside and out.

 

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner and do not give medical advice.)

A look inside the raw kid’s lunch box

4 Apr

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Looking for some healthy ideas for kid’s lunch boxes? Here is a raw, vegan and allergen free * selection of child friendly yummy delights. Enough to fuel your kid through even the most physically or mentally challenging day out and about. You needn’t include every single option, not only can a fully raw lunch box work out quite expensive but your child may not be ready for such a drastic dietary change either. Experiment and remember the more raw you can add the better for maintaining energy levels and increasing nutrients.

*(except macadamia nuts, tomatoes, miso/tamari (soya based)

Here’s a list of what’s in the raw kid’s lunch box:

  • Pizza flavoured dehydrated kale chips made with Inspiral’s ‘pizzeria’ seasoning available from Infinity Foods, Brighton
  • Trail mix: banana chips, coconut, hemp seeds, goji berries, mulberries, sunflower seeds, currants
  • Cheezy dip made with macadamia nuts, miso, pepper, onion, tomato, garlic and paprika
  • Raw onion dehydrated cracker breads with flax seeds and tamari
  • Olives, vegetable sticks: celery, cucumber and celery. Other options include broccoli/cauliflower florets and slices of pepper
  • Apple (always try to put fresh fruit in that does not need to be pre-cut to avoid nutrient loss)
  • Vanoffee raw cacao bar from The Raw Chocolate Company available in Infinity Foods, Brighton
  • Vita Coco coconut water available from Waitrose

Word of caution: for children prone to dryness in the skin, especially those of a slim constitution; limit the amount of dehydrated and dried raw foods or counter the effect of the drying effect of these foods by adding fat/oily foods alongside them. E.g. avocado or creamy dips with cracker breads and dried chips. You can make the trail mix more hydrating by soaking for at least 30 minutes in water and then draining the dried fruit, nuts and seeds before mixing the ingredients together.

For more information on full recipes of raw food snacks for kids, see the book’ Evie’s Kitchen’ by Shazzie

 

How to boost your family’s health with raw living foods

1 Apr

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Are you a chocoholic? Do you crave sweet and fatty foods? Can you absolutely not live without convenience food?

Great! This makes raw, living foods a perfect addition to enhance your family’s health without having to give up the cravings you yearn for.

Confused how you can achieve such a healthy diet whilst still satisfying your cravings?

I bet the type of foods that came to mind when you read the words ‘living and raw’ were boring salads and vegetable sticks, the kind of foods your kids wouldn’t touch with a barge pole right?

Imagine how easy it would be to get your family eating more healthy if you could give them foods which were sweet, tasty and satisfying as well as being packed with nutrients, reaching over and above the governments recommended ‘5-a-day’ in just one sitting.

What exactly is raw food you may wonder?

Raw food is most commonly defined as non-animal foods consisting of fruit, vegetables, plants such as herbs and greens, nuts, seeds and grains.

Raw food is not necessarily served cold, but has not been heated over 42 degrees Celsius, just above body temperature. This means you can still eat a nice warm dish just as you eat a plate of cooked food that has cooled down and this is still considered raw.

Heating raw food without cooking it above 42 degrees is achieved using high-speed blenders and dehydrators or even ovens on the lowest setting.

Making sure food is not heated above this temperature ensures all the enzymes; vitamins, minerals and nutrients remain intact for optimum digestion and assimilation.

Although comforting and pleasurable to eat, cooked food is recognised by the body as a foreign substance that causes the immune system to launch an attack of white blood cells as if it were an invading toxin. This is why you often feel lethargic, heavy and drained after eating a cooked meal without any raw food added.

You don’t need to go 100% raw all the time to feel the health benefits of living foods. Furthermore you don’t have to dramatically cut out all of your existing comfort foods in one foul swoop. Instead why not try crowding out the ‘baddies’ in your diet by adding in more wholesome raw ‘goodies’ on top.

In this way you will find those undesirable foods will phase out naturally without you having to battle the addictive impulse.

The biggest bonus of adding in more enzyme rich, living foods is the convenience factor. As a vegan, high raw family we now spend far less time preparing food from fresh in the kitchen than most cooks do, perfect for those rushed mornings and exhausted evenings with the kids. When the kids complain they’re starving and just can’t wait, raw food is the answer!

As for those green salads and veggies you can’t get your kids to touch, why not try disguising them in a sweet, freshly juiced green juice. By using apples as the base and adding in a few green vegetables on top such as celery, cucumber and mint leaves, you can make sure they get their vegetable intake without a fuss.

Raw food also offers other clever ways to disguise vegetables such as blended sauces and dips. The most anti-green child has been fooled in to eating avocado by disguising it in an irresistible chocolate dessert!

As for snacks, what better food to have on the go than raw delights which need neither heating nor refrigeration such as a dried fruit and nut breakfast bar.

Here’s a list of my top 5 kid friendly raw delights which are perfect for all dietary needs including allergies to dairy, soya and gluten (with the exception of nuts):

  • Raw banana and strawberry ice cream

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  • Raw fruity cheesecake

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  • Raw chocolate mousse

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  • Raw cheezy spread

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  • Raw pancakes

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Here are a few simple ideas to add in raw food to your existing diet:

Breakfast:

Add a banana with freshly blended coconut milk smoothie using fresh coconut meat added with water to a high-speed blender. Flavour with carob powder and dates for sweetness. (In addition lion heart herbs super smoothie mix will add a super nutrient punch)

Lunch:

Add a rainbow-grated salad to your meal consisting of fresh and grated carrot, beetroot, fennel and yellow courgette. You can also mix and match fruit in the salad such as sultanas with the carrots and apple with the beetroot. There seems to be something special about grating up these sorts of vegetables that makes them more appetising for kids.

Dinner:

Add a sweet green juice as a starter with apples as a base and any selection of green leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach, celery, cucumber and carrots. Juicing a small amount of beetroot (one-quarter of a beet) will add a nice deep red colour to disguise the green colour of the juice.

There you have it, don’t take anything else out of your diet. Simply try adding in some of the suggestions and watch what happens!

(If you want to read more on the amazing benefits of raw food for kids and learn how to create naturally healthy treats for your children, I recommend reading the following book: Raw food 4 kids by Sarah Nolan)

Natural language learning: simple ways to help your child become bilingual

17 Mar

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Not many parents out there would be against their child Growing up bilingual. Did you know that the best time to learn another language is alongside the first language and that the brain at the age of <18 months is perfectly capable of processing more than one language without confusion?

What a great talent to add to your child’s repertoire with many bonuses such as  making them more culturally sociable both at home and abroad and making them more attractive in the work place later on in life. Furthermore, studies have now shown that bilingual children have increased attention and cognition abilities.

(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201211/bilingual-brains-smarter-faster)

Children and adults alike ideally need immersion in the language for more than just a few hours every week in order to become fluent and competent in their speaking abilities.

Here are some simple tips which you can integrate into everyday life to help your child pick up another language without having to move away to a whole different country:

  • If you intend on sending your child to an educational establishment or childcare facility, look for the ones which provide more than just one or two language sessions per week and last less than a few hours in total. In many places more and more opportunities are popping up to gain greater immersion. Where I live in East Sussex there is now a bilingual spanish and english playgroup for toddlers, a bilingual nursery and even a bilingual government-run school. In these establishments at least half the curriculum/activities of the day are conducted in the foreign language. bilingual school
  • If you choose to home educate your child you can always hire some home help in the form of a native speaking cleaner or nanny to increase your child’s exposure to the language and ask that they only speak with the child in their language. If living on a tight budget remember that once your child turns 3 years old you can use child care vouchers to pay ofsted registered child care and some childminders will come and work from your home.
  • If your child likes screen time, pick the foreign language option on dvds, type in your child’s favourite programmes in to youtube alongside the name of the language in it’s mother tongue e.g. ‘Mickey Mouse francais’. This is how many European kids end up becoming so proficient in English.youtubeicon
  • Make friends with people who live near you and are native speaking so you can provide play date opportunities for the kids to hear both languages simultaneously.

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  • Play music in your chosen language, dance and sing. Songs are often the most affective way to learn and store new information in the brain.

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  • Buy or loan from your local library some dual language reading books to get them use to seeing the language as well as speaking and hearing it at the same time. Popular titles such as “Walking in the jungle” come in many dual language options.

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  • Finally, learn the language alongside your child so you are able to recognise and reinforce just as you do with teaching them English. You do not have to be fluent to do this with a young child. Connect to the internet to start learning the basics for free today http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

My top 5 natural baby brands

7 Mar

1. BEAMING BABY: wipes, disposable nappies and baby toiletries such as body wash and shampoo suitable for even the most sensitive skin.

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2. TOTS BOTS: washable nappies made out of bamboo, naturally anti-bacterial material and soft on the skin. I personally recommend the bamboozle stretchies.

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3.BECO: eco-friendly and 100% biodegradable potty, step stool and meal set. No ugly chemicals (including BPA) can be fond in these products.

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4. SOPHIE LA GIRAFE: toys for babies to hold, squash and chew on, all made out of natural rubber and free from toxic chemicals.

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5. LENNY LAMB: slings and baby carriers made out of 100% natural materials and designed with careful consideration to maintaing correct positioning for both baby-wearer and child.

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These are just a few of the products I consider to be closest to nature as possible and also ones I have personally tested. I would have liked to included a babies clothing/bedding brand which are made from organic and natural materials although I have found that those websites offering such products to be over-priced for most parents. Therefore I recommend shopping for baby clothes at a store such as M&S where, although not organic, many of the baby vests and grows to be worn directly next to the skin are at least 100% cotton and can be made safer still for baby by giving them a pre-wash before their first wear to ensure any growing or manufacturing chemicals are removed first. I also found a lovely 100% bamboo blanket and matching hat for my newborn in Australia under the brand name ‘babyjo’.

Karma kids: introducing yoga to your children

2 Mar

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Yoga has become synonymous with the goal of achieving peace and calm, something many parents believe is lacking in their children’s lives. Unless you have studied and practiced Yoga yourself you may not be aware that the practice of Yoga, as we know it in the west, one of physical stretches, postures and relaxation is only one out of the 8 limbs of Yoga as a holistic system devised to help bring health and peace to both body and mind.

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The Yoga postures (asana) with which we are most familiar with in the west today were developed over 5,000 years ago in the east when the ancients observed nature and the movements of animals. The close link with postures, animals and nature is exactly what lends Yoga to being an ideal practice for little ones to get involved with. Much like children, animals are deeply connected to the present moment and live in harmony with their environment.

Nowadays, more and more children have become caught up in the over-stressed and disconnected way of life that has been created since life became industrialised. Now the disconnection with an ongoing, loving parental presence alongside the use of electrical and artificial over-stimulation have become the new pillars of society. There is little time left over for children to explore and play in nature, connecting with the wonders of the great outdoors amongst a trusted tribe from whom they can learn. All of this has created much dis-ease and dis-harmony in our little ones.

Despite all of this, the majority of babies and toddlers have retained their natural flexibility and a care-free curiosity to explore the world, two perfect ingredients for introducing them into Yoga. For the first 2-3 years of a child’s life learning is achieved predominantly through observing those closest to them. This is why you are likely to find that your child develops a keen interest in whatever you as the parents engage in most often, even television unfortunately for some!

When is the best time to start yoga with children? The answer is as soon as possible, through practicing that which you wish to teach, your own Yoga practice. As a new mum you can begin practicing post-natal yoga as early as 6 weeks after birth if there have been no complications. If however you have had a c-section then it is best to wait 12 weeks. Following that you can then participate in one of the many classes designed for babies who are not yet walking (usually during the first year of the child’s life). Or if you prefer there are some lovely DVD sets which provide post-natal and ‘baby and me’ yoga such as Tara Lee’s collection.

If you choose to maintain a self-practice at home this will encourage your child to observe and explore Yoga even if the sessions you manage are only 10-15 minutes. You are not only giving your own body and mind some much needed TLC but also inspiring your little one with entertainment that does not require a battery or a plug!

Once the child reaches the age of 2 and a half to 3 years there is a wonderful opportunity to use Yoga as a tool to enhance play and make story time more interactive, providing a fun and loving way to connect with your child on their level.

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Many popular children’s books can be turned into a basic and fun yoga routine. This is how yoga was taught to children traditionally in the east, through story telling. As long as the story has animals or nature incorporated then yoga postures can be included. Familiar postures to Yoga practitioners include downward dog, dancer, snake, mountain, sun salutation, camel, bridge and many more. To create a balanced and flowing routine for kids you do not have to be a yoga teacher, you should however get acquainted with yoga routines by practicing yourself to become familiar with the components of a yoga class.

Below is an example of a routine based on Eric Carle’s ‘The hungry caterpillar’. Notes for each posture are numbered below the photos and correspond to the order of the pictures from top to bottom.

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1 Begin in child’s pose (egg)

2. Raise up on to all fours ( breaking out of egg) and begin to move in cat, cow pose like a caterpillar, after several repetitions jump up to standing and say hello to the warm sun by reaching up to the sun one arm at a time, repeat a few times.

3. Begin to look for food using the eyes around the clock exercise in both directions.

4. Come up into tree pose and pick 1 apple from above your head, climb the tree using opposite elbow to opposite knee movement and pick 2 pears, repeat climb, pick 3 plums and so on until you reach 5 oranges.

5. Transition down to floor using a basic sun salutation or any other way you find fun then jump through to sitting ready for forward head to knee or ‘sandwich’ posture. Go through different foods and spread, chop and throw them down your ‘leg sandwich’ before closing the sandwich top ( bend forward and reach towards your toes).

6.  Now lean forward to grab foot in ‘bow and arrow’ pose and bring foot towards mouth as if reaching to pick a leaf off the branch and then eating it, repeat on other side

7. As caterpillar gets fat, spread legs wide to make room for his bigger tummy and curl down in to ‘turtle’ pose to build and go inside the cocoon.

8. Bring feet touching together in butterfly pose and make flying movements with your wings (legs) either rocking from side to side on bottom or pushing knees gently up and down in unison. You can also add hand movements as extra wings or antennas. You might even raise one leg in the sky and balance followed by the same on the other side. Also if you’re brave enough, both legs raised together can be added in. A song can also be sung at this point such as ‘fly like a butterfly’ by Shakta kaur Khalsa.

A few general points for practicing yoga with 2-6 year olds: Don’t hold postures for too long (no longer than 10 seconds), keep it flowing. Children learn best when as many of their senses are engaged as possible so engage their visual sense by demonstrating the posture, use verbal description of the posture to engage their audio sense and make silly sounds to go with the posture (especially for animals). If necessary, gently help guide their body into the correct position. You may also like to include soft music alongside the Yoga story and end the session with a 5 minute lying down relaxation accompanied with a guided visualization CD (Relax kids do a great selection). Furthermore, placing a scented eye pillow to cover the eyes will help the child to draw their senses inwards and enter into a deeper state of relaxation. If you wish to explore practicing breathing with the child to develop a deeper breath, a soft toy or bath duck placed on the abdomen will aid in providing a visual cue to the rhythm of the breath.

Once kids reach 7 years plus, yoga can be used as a great tool to help with homework. For example, triangle pose to help visually illustrate angles in the equilateral, isosceles and scalene triangles. Also on the subject of Maths, the warrior series can be used to illustrate the different angles: right-angle, obtuse angle and acute angle.

Partner work with either kids together or an adult with the kid will aid in learning interpersonal skills such as co-operation, communication, relating and sharing.

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At this age instead of integrating story books in to the routine which can be quite lengthy, you may wish to pick a theme of interest such as olympics, around he world or outer space and base the postures around this topic. Using their creative  imagination they can weave their own story. Be sure to keep criticism out of Yoga for this age group as they are particularly sensitive to judgements. 

Sharing Yoga with children helps them to connect with themselves and their body, learning to trust their own instincts. Unlike most physical activities nowadays, Yoga is non-competitive and all-inclusive no matter what the child’s ability level. Children will have an opportunity to acknowledge and nurture their own special talents in a fun and physical, non-pressured way. Affirmations can be added alongside Yoga postures to boost self-esteem and confidence.

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Yoga can teach us to open up to change, asking questions and finding our own answers along the way. Aside from the obvious benefits of maintaining flexibility and muscle tone, on a physical level, Yoga can help children connect deeper with the breath which brings in more vital energy, decreases stress hormones and aids in detoxing and re-vitalizing the whole body.

Ultimately though, Yoga allows children to find a safe space deep within which is quiet and calm and provides a welcome retreat when the changes, challenges and confusion of the fast paced world of growing up becomes overwhelming.