Jenn

Sep 012015
 

apple1Well, it’s no secret that autumn is my favourite season and I am not sad to see summer go. Things I love about fall:

  • Cardigans
  • Changing leaves
  • Perfect weather
  • Fruit flies are no longer spawning in my compost!
  • Apple picking

I love apple picking so much that I got married in an apple orchard. Apple picking is one of the first dates Papa took me on. We also picked up a pumpkin and went home to make pie! There’s a first and last time for everything.

We’ve returned to pick apples every year since that first date, which means Babe and Bug have never missed a year. A beautiful family tradition.

We will always have a soft spot for Charbonneau, which is where our (amazing, beautiful) wedding took place, but the one thing we don’t love is that the apples are not organic.

apple4

last year

A couple years ago, we discovered les Vergers Bio d’Oka, and fell totally in love. The apples are organic, so I feel okay about wiping them and munching as we go. I also love that you bring your own bags and pay by weight.

The beauty of this place is its simplicity. It’s big, there are a variety of different apples, but it’s one path all the way up to a beautiful lookout. The path is lined with wild flowers who are doing their job attracting the bees.

This year, we went to Verger Oka on August 31–not even September. That’s how excited we were to pick apples. Paula Reds were perfect and Lobos were on their way (not too sour  for us!)

We were at the orchard for two hours before we even started picking apples. We had a picnic and the kids amused themselves with the bikes, little house and cars. We also took our sweet time walking up to the Belvedere (lookout). The kids collected rocks, and were on a mission to find grasshoppers, which they did. We also saw different colours of dragonflies, beetles, bees and even a snake.

This is the kind of place, where you always feel welcome and taken care of. One of the owners, Dominique or Francis will be there to greet you and explain what’s what. There’s homemade soup and cookies, and lots of room to eat if you bring your lunch.

apple2We took advantage of the distance and stopped at a farmers market to get beets, pickling cucumbers and plums, as well as going to the big Oka store where we got too many cheese curds and Oka cheese at a discount.

As we were leaving, Dominique asked if we’d be back. Yes, I said, as soon as we get through our two gigantic bags of Paula Reds. We got home and made two big dishes of organic, gluten-free apple crumble. What a treat.

 

Aug 252015
 

teeth

The kids are getting older. I’m getting wiser. I’ve started taking time to take better care of myself. One of the simplest ways is taking proper care of my teeth. God knows I take care of Bug’s teeth!

I hadn’t been to the dentist since I was pregnant with him. Appointments came up and I cancelled because I couldn’t justify spending the time or money to get my teeth cleaned.

When I went a few weeks ago (I kind of panicked because a good friend just went through a few root canals) I thankfully had no cavities but unfortunately had lots of plaque. Was I flossing? No! To be honest, there were many nights in the last two years I didn’t have the energy to even brush my teeth. My mouth, my health, was not a priority. But you could be sure those kids had healthy gums!

Around that time, I’d also met with Ayurveda Practitioner and Lifestyle Consultant, Dominic Tambuzzo, who brought my attention to the icky white coating on my tongue (indicative of toxins in the body). My mouth was not in good shape!

If I wasn’t going to change things, who was? Here’s what I’ve been doing to take care of my mouth and teeth.

Every morning, after breakfast,

– I use a spoon to gently scrape the yucky stuff off my tongue.

– I brush my teeth with homemade toothpaste.

– I swish coconut oil in my mouth for at least 10 minutes. (oil pulling). It’s 10 minutes where I don’t have to talk to anyone. The kids understand my sign language. (It’s important to spit outside or in the garbage, as the oil will clog drains and the toilet.)

Before bed, I floss my teeth, scrape my tongue, and brush my teeth. Sometimes I even shut the door and do it privately. Peace.

At Dominic’s suggestion, I also started taking the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha, which is supposed  to help me detox (icky white tongue thing!) and give me energy since cutting my coffee consumption from 4 to .5 cups a day! (That’s a post for another day!)

This little routine represents so much more than cavity prevention. It’s the three minutes a day that I spend doing something for myself. And I like it so much, I’m thinking up other ways to take care of the rest of my body. I’ll keep you posted.

 Posted by at 5:20 pm
Aug 182015
 

carrot We’ve been making our own fermented foods for years. I started with yogurt and made it weekly for a very long time. Kombucha is a huge favourite around here. Water kefir was never popular but milk kefir was. We don’t really eat dairy these days, so I started looking for other types of ferments that had the awesome probiotic properties without dairy.

There are many ways to ferment all kinds of foods. Our favourite these days has been “Magic Carrots.”
Bug woke up at 2am Monday morning and was full of life and joy, so while I was severely annoyed, we got up together and got  to work, making three different flavours of cultured carrots. Ginger-fennel, cilantro and garlic dill. I’ll be bringing them to carrot2sample at my upcoming Fermented Foods Workshop coming up August 29 at Espace Shanti in St Henri.
If you’d like to join us to learn more about the effect of probiotic food on gut health, and go home with your own Magic Carrots, please email me at Jenn.hardy@gmail.com to secure your place.
 Posted by at 2:06 am
Aug 122015
 

avacadoBabe was going through some things. Something. No idea what. 4.5 and she was feeling all the things. Tantrums, which had seemed to have disappeared, returned with a vengeance. And started to become pickier with food. I guess she’s still going through some of these things, but the picky eating, we “fixed.”

As a couple, Papa and I did some quick thinking and changed our perception, reversing the two week-long picky eating problem by the next meal. Here’s how–it’s easier than you can imagine.

You know I’m a big believer in Baby Led Weaning– the child is in charge of what food and how much she wants to eat. One of the amazing results being the child, after experiencing many different textures from Day 1, develops a very adventurous palette. We definitely saw this with both the kids. Bug can eat most eight year olds under the table. So when Babe started refusing certain foods, it felt a little weird.
We’d seen people force their kids to eat and it makes me very uncomfortable for many reasons. It becomes a power struggle. Kids will eat when they’re hungry, and if all the food they have available is good food, then if they eat later than the rest of the family, does it really matter? I would never force my husband to eat if he wasn’t hungry– how insulting and disrespectful. Why do this to my kid? She knows if she’s hungry. This is why we nurse on demand and this is why Baby Led Weaning is so awesome.
 If we catch ourselves begging the kid to eat “just one more…” We can ask ourselves why? What is one more carrot going to do other than reinforce to both the parent and child that the parent is in charge of what the child eats? The parent should not be in charge, the person eating should.
If we feel like we have little control in  our lives, we begin to control the things we can. For many, this is the food we eat. Whether we’re 4, 14 or 42. Something told me this might be what was going on for Babe.
So we went back to the idea we had when she was 6 months old, when we offered food to her and she decided how much she wanted to eat. Back then, we didn’t force a spoon through her closed lips. We didn’t threaten her with, “If you don’t eat this then you can’t have that.”
We decided not to serve her at dinner time. We gave her an empty plate and put the food at the centre of the table, and let her choose what she wanted and how much she wanted.
Our “picky eater” served herself a generous helping of Cesar salad, asparagus and chickpeas. She didn’t want the sausage or sweet potatoes and I was more than alright with that.
The trick is, of course, to only have food on the table (and in the house) that is good, real food.
We also became even more aware of the little decisions she could make that would allow her to feel more power. Lots of, “Would you rather this, or this?” Which park did she want to go to ? Did she want to buy the green apples or the red ones?
If it’s a power struggle, it’s one I’d like her to win.
 Posted by at 6:28 pm
Aug 052015
 

Christmas in July? Yes please!

santa  Papa and I have always been conflicted about Santa and the commercialism of Christmas. We’re very honest with our kids about everything, so why lie about this? But last year, when Babe, at the age of three said, “Mom, I wish Santa wasn’t just a legend,” I backed off. She wanted the magic of Christmas. And that’s the part that Papa and I care most about.

Last week, we all went to Village du Père Noël in Val Morin, QC, we found some of that magic. We were all super surprised at just how big the place is.

There are water slides, a waterpark (huge Christmas tree and igloo in the centre) pony rides, go carts, bouncy castles, a train ride, rock climbing, a petting zoo, and a phenomenal daily magic show. The kids got to take home a magic wand after the magic show, and a week later, Babe is still asking how the magician turned “all those things” into birds.

Bug loved the potato sack slide and petting zoo, while Babe said the magic show was her favourite activity. She also spent a really long time go-carting, visibly proud that she was actually doing it herself.

santa2We were there for six hours and easily could have stayed longer. We didn’t even have time to do all of the activities, but by 4 pm on that very hot day, we were ready to go home.

Santa himself isn’t really the main attraction. He’s there in a little cabin, chatting with the kids who line up to see him–he looks like the real deal! He offered a Sophia the First toy to Babe, so I’m going to have to figure out what that is.

It seemed weird to do an activity with  a Christmas theme in middle of summer, but it turns out it was the perfect family day.

santa3We brought a packed lunch and there were picking tables in the shade where we could eat. There’s also a casse-croute with sandwiches, cheese curds and cold treats if you don’t bring a lunch.

It cost $20/person over two to get in. Infants are free and Grandparents get a discount (maybe one reason we saw so many grandparents the day we were there!) The $60 season pass is a great deal if you’re going to get out there a few times. You can bring a coloured picture printed from their site, for an easy way to get $2 off a child’s admission.

Thank you to the Elf in Chief, Claude, who hooked us up with this visit.We can’t wait to go back this winter, where the pool becomes a skating rink and there are ice slides!

Merry Christmas!

Jul 292015
 

fish2I never loved eating fish. There are all kinds of ethical and political and environmental and spiritual reasons one might not like to eat fish. That’s some of the reason, but I actually don’t like that “fishy” taste. I don’t even like vegetarian sushi. But I discovered that fresh, white fish, doesn’t have a fishy taste. Even more so when you douse it in coconut and curry! This recipe is good for people like me and all the toddlers who also don’t love the taste of fish. Like all my recipes, this was an experiment that turned out so awesome. I use it every couple of weeks, and it’s pretty much the only way I cook fish any more.

 

Ingredients:
5T coconut flour
3T curry powder
3T shredded coconut
4 filets MSC cod, haddock
Coconut oil for frying

How to:
Mix flour, coconut shreds, curry powder
Heat a generous amount of coconut oil. Think shallow deep-fry!
Press each filet into the mix, covering both sides really well
Fry each side for 5-7 mins, being very careful when flipping
This recipe has just enough curry for parents to find it interesting and enough coconut to tone town the spice so the kids can enjoy it too.
Please let me know how your family likes it.
Jul 272015
 
Babe's offering, a crab!

Babe’s offering, a crab!

We recently took a family trip to the beach in Maine. We packed hats, a parasol, UV suits and Green Beaver sunscreen. We had planned on being on the beach for most of the trip, but I was also hoping to beat the heat and find somewhere to go hiking. With the huge Lyme disease panic in the media these days, and knowing how upset Babe gets when a mosquito “eats” her, I also (thankfully!) packed our new Dr. Fedorenko True Organic Bug Stick.

We never made it into the woods, but the Bug Stick sure got used. On this beautiful beach, there were pesky horseflies and black flies– pretty unexpected. Dr. Fedorenko to the rescue! Everyone, including our extended family, was very pleased with how effective this 100 percent natural, organic, DEET-free product is. We’d almost panic if it got forgotten or misplaced. It really was a lifesaver, and was nicknamed “the magic stick.” Never had I felt more useful.

There were four kids on the beach with us, who didn’t seem to be as interesting to the bugs as the adults were, but the parents felt good about putting the Bug Stick on the kids who were between the ages of two and five (although the company says it’s for ages 3+).

As soon as the stick, which comes in a deodorant-shaped container, was applied to our skin, the bugs bugged off. The product is supposed to stay on for up to four hours, which I’m sure it would have if we didn’t keep running into the ocean. We knew the product rinsed off because we were like fly paper again. Proof of the stick’s efficacy.

Not only is it DEET-free, it’s free of parabens, phthalates, and synthetic colours, fragrances and chemicals. Free of dairy and soy, and smells good enough to eat!

Magic Bug Stick!

Magic Bug Stick!

The yummy smelling essential oils, which are responsible for the repelling of annoying bugs, are catnip, geranium, citronella and, peppermint, rosemary, clove, vanilla and atlas cedarwood. The Bug Stick is also made of shea butter, jojoba oil and beeswax.

These oils also have other helpful properties, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory. It feels hydrating and not sticky.

There were 10 people using the Bug Stick while we were in Maine. It covered a LOT of skin, and there’s still over half left. We’re taking it camping in a couple weeks and I’m quite sure they’ll be more than enough for my family and the friends that we’re going with.

This product comes in two formats– a balm, which retails for $20 and $30. Please don’t let the price deter you. Yes, OFF or Deep Woods is way cheaper, but you don’t want that crap on your body or the bodies of your precious babes. Am I right? As I just mentioned, the product goes a very long way.

Dr Fedorenko is giving one lucky Mama Naturale reader the chance to win a Bug Stick. Just comment below and tell us where you’d use your Bug Stick this summer. Get a second entry by sharing and leaving the word “share” at the bottom of the post on the Mama Naturale FB wall. You can also

Follow on twitter: @drfedorenko

A winner will be picked next Monday. Good luck!

 

Jul 232015
 

Guest post by Bill Boland and Anita Halton at BodyFix Method

breathYou’re excited to feel your baby growing inside you. But you also feel the physical stress that extra belly weight is causing. Your body is constantly adapting and not always in good ways. You feel it in your back, your neck, and your legs. These aches and pains are the result of postural changes caused by the developing fetus. Along the way, your body’s natural alignment is being compromised.

Here are 4 potentially damaging postural changes to be alert to and a few simple exercises you can do to correct them and avoid pain.

 1. Swayback (Hyper-lordosis)

This is excessive curvature of the low back spine. We all have a natural amount of lordosis or curve in our low back (lumbar) spines, but when this curve becomes exaggerated, or hyper-lordotic, we are at risk for lower back pain, disc herniations, or sciatica. Pregnancy exacerbates the natural lordosis or curve of your lumbar spine. The added weight of your baby in your belly is pulling your pelvis into a forward pelvic tilt; this puts the back into a position of hyper-lordosis.

In order to keep your spine in the most neutral curve possible, focus on these things alignment principles and try these exercises:

a. Butt Strength.  A strong butt is critical to keeping your pelvis from going into more of a forward pelvic tilt. Muscles in front and in back need to balance each other and keep the pelvis level.
b. Thighs Too Strong. The big thigh muscles, known also as quadriceps, are the strongest muscles in the body and they will easily pull the pelvis into a forward tilt if they are too tight. The tendency is going to be for your quads to get tighter and tighter as your baby grows and as you gradually gain weight during pregnancy, so you need to stretch them!

c.  Supple Hips.  Hip flexors are muscles that bring the knee to your chest. The psoas is a deep hip flexor, the only muscle that connects your lumbar spine to your legs. It gets tight when your knees are turned out and you walk with your hip and thigh muscles instead of your leg and butt muscles. It’s easy to do when you’re pregnant. When the deep hip flexor, the psoas muscle, is tight, it will pull your pelvis into an increased forward tilt, making delivery more difficult. It is very important to stretch those deep hip flexors.

This Simple Lunge is safe to do all the way through your pregnancy.

 

2. Abdominal Separation

Abdominal separation (diastasis recti) is a separation between the left and right side of the muscle covering the front surface of the belly (rectus abdominis). Pregnancy puts so much extra pressure on the belly that sometimes the muscles in front can’t keep their shape, causing a separation of the abdominal muscles. You’re also more likely to have the problem if you’re over 35, or if you’re having a heavy baby, twins, triplets, or more.

This condition can occur if your abdominals are either too weak or too tight. What’s your best strategy? Avoid compression in the abdominal area (no crunches!) and keep your abdominals long, strong, and supple. Avoid planks, or sit-ups, swimming or any positions on all fours.

Do these exercises, instead:

a. Standing Overhead Arm Extension

b. Hero’s Pose (Virasana with block)

c. Backbend over Bolster

d. Abdominal Corseting: Imagine that you are wearing a corset and practice engaging your abdominals and holding them while breathing for 10 breaths. Then release. This will gently strengthen your deepest abdominal, your transverse abdominal.

 

3. Rounded Shoulders, Forward Head Posture & Shallow Breathing

Forward Head Posture is a postural condition that affects millions of North Americans and pregnancy only increases your chances of suffering from it. The added weight of your growing breasts can begin to create a tendency to round your shoulders and sink your breastbone. As your shoulders come forward, your head follows and you wind up slouched. There’s a lot of fatigue in pregnancy, but sitting in a slouched posture will only add to that when you diminish your ability to breathe. Oxygen is a primary source of energy. You need more energy now than ever, and you will need more energy after your baby is born for sure, so here are some exercises to help you stand and sit tall, breathe more easily, and relax.

These exercises will keep your chest open and your breath deep and powerful.

a.  Standing Chest Opener

b. Standing Arm Circles

c. Seated Shoulder Blade Squeezes

 

pillow

Seated knee pillow squeeze

4. Turned-out Feet and The Waddle  

Because your belly is growing out, there is less room for the legs to find the ground straight ahead. Your legs and feet will have the tendency to point out or “evert”. This alignment habit will result in a gait pattern of the pregnancy waddle.

If you are accustomed to walking straight ahead, you will now somewhat roll side-to-side because your toes are no longer pointed forward. This alignment pattern will tighten the hip flexors and contribute to a sore low back. A waddle is also inefficient way of walking. It can be avoided.

Do these exercises daily:

a. Seated Knee Pillow Squeezes

b. Walking in Place

The Body Fix Method creates custom plans for therapy clients. If you’d like the full descrption and photos from this post, Anita has offered to send you a copy. Just contact her at anita@bodyfixmethod.com
Jul 162015
 

okra3Okra is a pretty cool veggie. It’s appearance alone is an entire blog post. The texture, a second post. It’d had been a while since I used okra and was honestly a little worried my non-picky kids would dislike it. It can be slimy. So before introducing them to this new vegetable, I took slime-reduction measures, and soaked it for a while in some water and apple cider vinegar.

The kids loved to hold and feel the okra before I chopped it– we decided they looked like ogre fingers and named the recipe ogre stew. Of course, no ogres were harmed in the making if tonight’s vegetarian meal. I love the way it looks when cut open– like little mandalas.
Not only did they not hate it, the whole family loved it. I hope yours will too.
Ingredients:
okra23tsp ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped

okra13 cloves garlic, chopped
One small onion, chopped
Coconut oil or replacement
1t cumin, turmeric
1T curry powder
1 big can diced tomatoes
2 cups chick peas, soaked and cooked, or one can
Handful of kale, washed and broken in bite-sized pieces
Salt and chili flakes to taste
A few cups of okra (I had 30 pods) chopped in less than one centimetre rounds
  2 T ACV
How to:
Wash and chop the pods. Leave them to soak in a big container of water and add the ACV. If you can do this ahead of time and let them soak for at least an hour, great.
okraMelt oil, fry onions, garlic and powdered spices
Rinse the okra. Rinse it again and again and again. I wasn’t able to get rid of all the slime. Babe watched it oozing out of the strainer. Definitely added to the ogre factor!
Add to the pan and fry a little while
Add tomatoes and chickpeas and let everything simmer until the okra is desired consistency
Add kale in at the very end and steam it until it wilts
Enjoy!
Jul 132015
 

The Best Baby Food, 125 Healthy & Delicious Recipes for Babies & Toddlers
By Jordan Wagman & Jill Hillhouse, BPHE, CNP
Published by Robert Rose Inc. 

Guest review by Pascale Buist

I am not a big recipe follower. I mean, I love recipe books, with their beautiful pictures and the promises of exquisite scents and flavours that come with them, but I rarely follow a recipe when cooking. Just because I am a free spirit!

babyfood1My son is now seven and a half months old. He started eating (or shall I say, experimenting with food…) two months ago. It was supposed to help him (us) sleep. It totally failed in that aspect (still sleeping 2h at a time); but he loves eating and is willing to try whatever I fancy to introduce.

I have been making my own purees, thinking it is pretty simple: fruit or veggie, water, simmer or steam,then puree using an immersion blender. But after a while, I started thinking this was bland and boring. Yes, he eats and seems to like it most of the time, but there doesn’t seem to be such an evolution in his eating because I have made large quantities of frozen purees, so the same flavours and textures come back in rotation frequently…

And then I received this book to review and it opened a new world of possibilities! The book is built as a guide for a journey of taste buds stimulation and palate awakening. Elements can be introduced alone, then combined, then seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon… It all makes sense!

As your baby grows up, soups, chunky dips and sauces replace smooth purees. It is suitable for those who spoon­feed their baby; but also works for those who prefer baby­led weaning (don’t puree, serve soft). The recipes are simple, do not require a lot of preparation and dish washing, and the results are fresh, vibrant, full of taste and colours.

Let me start by saying the book is beautiful. The pictures are gorgeous, mouth­watering gorgeous (how’s that for a book on baby food?) The sections are relevant, user­friendly and timesaving. There is a section on general nutrition facts to consider while feeding a baby; one on equipment and storage and then the recipes. Starting Solids (6 to 9 months); Establishing Preferences (9 to 12 months); Food for Toddlers (12 months +) and guilt­free tantalizing Snacks and Desserts final section, with smoothies, ice pops, macaroons and the likes (notice no age recommendation… It is totally okay to eat them yourself!)

With each recipe come nutrients per serving info and a few tips.

Here is a sneak peek: Apple and Fig Brown Rice Cereal; Peach, Chive and Basil Puree; Chicken with Butternut Squash and Leeks; Soft Polenta with Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli; Oven­roasted Duck with Red Cabbage and Frozen Mango Mousse…

babyfoodThere are additional great sections on:

  • making your own whole grain cereals
  • fruits and veggies that contain the most and the least pesticide (so you know which you should buy organic if you are on a budget)
  • healing properties of herbs and spices
  • raw and vegetarian options (with lots of beans, lentils, peas)
  • good sweetening options (to replace white sugar elsewhere)

The only (minor) disappointment: although nutritionists emphasize the need to introduce meat as soon as possible, there is only five recipes with meat (three of them using chicken) in the section Starting Solids… And there is no option to introduce fish before 12 months.

Altogether, a great book that I recommend you buy before the baby is born. Why? Because then you will have plenty of time to read everything, mark pages, plan ahead, dream a little dream of love while looking up the adorable pictures of babies with puree all over there sweet cheeky faces… Because if the baby lottery of life gives you a non­sleeper like mine, you might fall off-schedule and end up buying a large quantity of bottled purees before you manage to find the time and peace of mind to cook, let alone read…

Congratulations on the little(s) one(s); hold on to people who make you feel you are the best parent ever, even when you feel lost at sea… Stay guilt­free as much as you can and enjoy the ride!
Pascale Buist is an International Project Management Consultant from Montreal. She is also the single-mother of one awesome little 7 month old baby boy. She is currently managing her biggest, most challenging and most rewarding project EVER… one sleepless night at a time! 😉