1/9/2021 0 Comments
Breastfeeding: often the most natural and yet complicated journey for a woman and her baby. Today, I want to talk about the quality of your breastmilk and how that can be elevated to further benefit your baby’s development. We’re going beyond lactation cookies here (although, sign me up for some of those too). Let’s take a deep dive into the production of highly nourishing breastmilk through the use of breastfeeding superfoods.
Many of these suggestions are supported by The Weston A. Price Foundation, a not-for-profit nutrition organization that advocates for traditional foods and their scientifically proven use to support health. Below are a few of the recommendations given by WAPF to support pregnant and nursing women:
“These recommendations are scientifically geared to nourish a nursing mother with all of the minerals, enzymes, immune factors, vitamins, antioxidants and fat soluble activators she needs for herself and her baby,” (Super Nutrition for Babies, 2018).
But wait… there’s more!
There should be specific attention paid to the amount and kinds of fats in your diet, particularly when breastfeeding. Breastmilk is made up of mostly saturated fats and cholesterol. Much of baby's brain tissue is also composed of fat and to support optimal brain development, adequate fat is required in mom’s diet. Focus on incorporating a variety of fats, like grass-fed butter, eggs, cheese and meat from pasture-raised animals (when/if available to you). Medium chain triglycerides in the form of coconut oil or coconut milk feed probiotics and support thyroid health. And then, of course, clasic fat sources like oily fish, nuts and seeds will also provide you with those essential fatty acids.
Avoid consuming too many highly processed fats, like seed and vegetable oils. Outdated messaging can still be heard circulating, for some reason, leading some people to believe that these oils are not only ok to consume, but good for you. That is far from the truth. They are extremely inflammatory and can be a source of disease-causing free radicals. Look for oils that are cold-pressed and unrefined. Great examples of these are coconut, avocado and olive oil.
Now let’s talk carbohydrates. It probably isn’t surprising to know that you should be eating a variety of green vegetables, fruits, sprouted grains and some high quality starches. They are full of nutrients and fibre and don’t cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar. When talking fibre, look for some good resistant starch sources, like cooked and cooled potatoes and green bananas. Beans and legumes are another good source, but ensure they are properly soaked and cooked to remove any lectin. Resistant starches resist being digested, but feed our good gut bacteria.
Of course, the diet described above is the ideal scenario, but we can’t always get those foods in, even though we know they’re important, because…. life. To offset this, you can of course use supplements to fill in any gaps. I want to preface this list by saying that you should always work with your personal healthcare team before starting any supplement regime to make sure they are right for you. That said, here is a list of supplements you may wish to explore to optimize your breast milk production and overall health as a nursing mama:
And there you have it! The ideal foods to incorporate into your diet when breastfeeding. Being a mom is hard, and at the end of the day, we’re all just doing the best we can. So if this doesn’t seem doable to you, if you’re just not there yet, I encourage you to pick one or two items that you could see yourself incorporating into your daily life and start there! Small changes can go a long way when it comes to the long-term health of you and your baby.
And maybe yours didn't either.
Maternity leaves are sacred and and more than once I questioned if 2020 stole this experience from mothers. Over the course of the year, I know I wasn't alone in hearing several versions of the following phrase, “Oh--I’m sure this wasn’t the mat leave you envisioned, huh?” usually said with a sigh and look of sympathy. And it’s true--if you had told me a year ago that my maternity leave would turn out this way, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, regardless of what your plans were this year, I can almost guarantee you didn’t spend the last 12 months the way you thought you would.
When COVID came barrelling down the the line in March like a freight train on fire, it felt like the world was instantaneously flipped upside down and no one knew which was was up. My cozy, quiet days at home with Austin were suddenly met with a closed daycare, meaning my two year old was home as well. Organized activities came to a screeching halt, parks were closed and we were told to see no one. And because no one understood what we were up against, we complied. So, along with having absolutely no idea what was happening in the world and what kind of risk our health was facing, we also had to figure out how to parent our children, all day, every day, without support. The maternity leave I assumed I would have for the next year quite literally vanished overnight. There was no camaraderie to share with other mothers, no quiet breaks in my day during nap time, and no support from loved ones. I was devastated.
And here I sat in devastation for a few weeks. Maybe longer. And then, as the stages of grief continued, I found acceptance. I molded something that resembled a routine for our days at home. And, eventually, I found enjoyment. And just as I figured out how to find the joy in these unprecedented times, the heavens opened. And by heavens, I mean daycare. As quickly as she was pulled out, my extroverted toddler was back at school, embracing days with her friends once again. And Austin and I were back to our quiet days alone. It felt like maternity leave had returned--albeit, looking a little different than I had once imagined.
As challenging as this year has been, sometime during those three months of isolation (probably nearing the end), I decided that I refused to look back on my maternity leave with regret; that I would choose gratitude for all this year has brought. We don't get this time back, and regardless of what it looked like or when it fell, one year at home with your baby is an incredible gift. To witness your child’s first year of life, a year where the rate of change seems impossibly fast, to feed the innate connection you have with this tiny human by staying so close to them--I am incredibly thankful. So thankful that timing doesn't matter. It is irrelevant. This is why to view my maternity leave with gratitude, rather than regret, hasn't been that hard.
Here’s the thing: this year wasn’t great. I know we are all trying to choose joy and live at a higher vibration (and for the most part, I have to actively work on these things too), but when it comes to my baby and my mat leave? They have been a gift amongst the turmoil. Almost like a completely separate entity of 2020. Welcoming Austin into our family, experiencing the newborn days as a more experienced, less-anxious version of myself (compared to my first run at it), being at home and spared the chaos of my workplace as my coworkers navigated the COVID waters--these were all gifts in a year that could have been (and was for many) much more challenging for me and my family.
For some new parents, they really felt the effects of isolation as they brought their child into the world. They were denied support in a time they needed it most, as well as many “firsts” they had likely envisioned in their head, and for those individuals, I am truly sorry. As wonderful as it can be, having a baby comes with many challenges, even in the best of times. I spent a lot of time this year thinking about new moms in particular, trudging through the fourth trimester while figuring out how to care for their baby. To say this is no easy feat is a massive understatement. Although there were certainly times when I could have used some extra hands, I had the advantage of knowing (kind of) what to expect. I think this was helpful (although if you asked me back in March when I also had my two year old home from daycare, parks were closed, and we were all stuck at home… I might have been singing a different tune). These sentiments are also extended to women experiencing their first pregnancy during this time--attending appointments and ultrasounds solo, not being able to share this experience with their partner. This feels incredibly unfair for you too. My only words of comfort are, know that they will be there for the finale, and what a finale it is. Worth the wait.
My mat leave meant joy and laughter in times when we all needed a little lift and distraction from the happenings of the world. Not even a global pandemic could take away the simple joy that a new baby brings to one’s life, and for that, I am so thankful. Because the love you have for a child is above all else. Nothing can rob you of that. So, no, I am not regretful that my maternity leave fell in the year 2020. I am grateful for the simplicity it allowed in a time when my life would have most certainly been more complicated. I am grateful that, during days that I felt resentment, sadness, anger, and confusion, I also got to feel the deepest love. And I think that’s pretty lucky.
If you welcomed a baby into the world in 2020, I know the experience wasn't what you had pictured in your head. And you might need to mourn the loss of that vision. That’s ok. Take some time to do that. Sit in your sadness and, when you’re ready, release it. Then, reflect on your time at home with your little one. How incredible has it been to feel like the world slowed down enough for you to really take it all in? To watch them change every day, right in front of your eyes? To enjoy lazy afternoons on the couch while your babe slept peacefully on your chest? To feel so much love in a time that has never needed it more? What a gift. So, rather than regret, choose gratitude. You and your baby deserve it.
This year, Canadian fast-food restaurant, A&W, announced it would source 100% grass-fed beef from right here in Canada. Traditionally, a lot of grass-fed, or at the very least grass-finished beef, would need to come from Australia or New Zealand, but it seems that Canadian farmers are starting to see an opportunity in this market and changing up their model to take advantage.
A&W CEO, Susan Senical, said this initiative was developed because customers were demanding higher quality meat, fast-food or not. First of all, to this I say: Bravo, Canada! Changes like this give me hope that society is shifting to a more health-conscious collective. Sure--just because one is eating grass-fed beef doesn’t mean they are the picture of health (because, let’s be honest: that burger is coming with a side of fries), but it’s a step in the right direction. It means people are getting thoughtful about what goes into their bodies. And I like it.
I have to admit, when I first heard that A&W was providing grass-fed beef, the skeptic in me immediately went on the defensive. What’s the catch? Some of it is grass-fed? It’s fed some grass among other things? It’s fed a bit of grass, but not grass-finished? I figured, for sure, this was a huge marketing ploy, but that ultimately we weren’t really being offered true grass-fed beef. But the more I read, the more it seems that, in fact, consumers are getting 100% grass-fed beef. Cattle purchased cannot be fed any grain or feed additives. This model is also in support of the regenerative agriculture movement, something we know is extremely important for the health of our planet and food sources.
So there isn’t any catch? Well, that depends on how you look at it…
Grass-fed is great. It’s definitely what you want your beef to be, if you can swing it. But that doesn’t mean that the cows haven’t been injected with growth hormones or antibiotics. It sounds like the Canadian restaurant chain has good intentions though, and will do their best to source their beef free of these things, but if you truly want to know what your beef is eating, purchasing from a fast-food chain is likely not your best bet. Try a meat subscription service that works with small, local farms, like NIKU, True Local, or Butcher Box. Services like these make it so much easier to get the nitty gritty on your meat. You can often go right to the farmer’s website, if available. Plus, you feel good knowing you are supporting small, sustainable farms with your purchase.
That said, if you’re looking for a fast-food hamburger from time to time, I”m going to have to get on board the A&W train and say, well done. Let’s hope we see more chain restaurants thinking beyond convenience and dollar signs in the future.
For many, choosing clothes for their kids isn’t complicated. Whatever is available and inexpensive is the name of the game. Maybe those are the only considerations they have the luxury of making. But, for others, there are a few more factors that come into play: How long do I need it to last? What kind of value am I getting for my money? Is style important to me? How do I want to show up and support this industry?
Having dressed two kiddos of my own and experiencing, first-hand, how quickly we jump from size to size, as well as what brands feel good while standing up to toddler play, I am becoming more and more aware of clothing waste, quality and source.
This week, I had the pleasure of completing a guest post for Pingo Apparel, one of my favourite sustainable, eco-friendly clothing stores for children (plus some great pieces for mom and dad--check out the adult panthera sweater I'm sporting below). Head over to their site to learn 3 Reasons To Go Sustainable When Outfitting Your Kids. This year, more than ever, let's support businesses doing it right--who follow fair and ethical production practices and consider the long-term health of our planet. And, of course, support local when you can. Small businesses need us now more than ever.
+ One For The Grinch
It's not even December yet, but sign me up for some early 2020 Holiday cheer. I love me some Christmas baking, and I definitely have some in the calendar, but why stop there? There's no reason why we can't bring festivity to breakfast! With the classic combination of chocolate and mint, this chia pudding recipe is so simple and yet nutritious with a hint of decadence.
Chia seeds are full of fibre, so if you (or your kids) are struggling with constipation, I love recommending making chia seeds a regular part of your diet. You can enjoy them as a pudding, like I am here, you can throw them in a smoothie, in oatmeal, in pancakes, or even in your water bottle. That gelatinous goodness is a great way to get those bowels moving! They are also a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Truly a superfood.
To create the mint flavour, I used Doterra peppermint oil, which is one of my most-used oils. It's amazing for baking, but I also diffuse it on the regular and use it as an afternoon pick-me-up by putting a drop in my palms, cupping my nose, breathing in deeply and then rubbing the rest on the back of my neck. It wakes you right up! I used this trick all the time when I was pregnant and limited to a small amount of caffeine. It's ironic because you could never use an extra coffee more than when you're growing a baby. The exhaustion is like nothing else, but of course, only a very small amount of caffeine is suggested. So, peppermint oil is a great tool to have in your back pocket when you need a little kick to get you through the day. For this recipe, 1 to 2 drops max is all you need.
Ok, so this recipe isn't actually for The Grinch... just someone who doesn't like peppermint. And by someone, I mean Dave, who assures me that a dislike for peppermint is a thing. I didn't want to leave him out of the chia seed goodness, so I came up with another classic chocolate combination, using almond butter and banana. I have to admit, if we're talking day-to-day, this would definitely have to be one of my go-to chia seed pudding recipes. You really can't go wrong. The best part is that I was able to make the chocolate chia seed base, let it sit over night and then separate it into two servings and top them according to the varying preferences of my family members (even though I felt strongly that we should all be indulging in the festive recipe and maximizing the joy opportunity).
Don't feel like holiday decadence needs to be limited to dessert (although this chocolate chia seed pudding is so good, it could totally count as a healthy dessert). Add a little festive cheer to your morning and give this recipe a try!
Eczema is a common skin condition that many people can relate to. And more and more, we are seeing it show up in our children. In fact, Authors, Kathrine Erlich, M.D. and Kelly Genzlinger, M.Sc., C.N.C., C.M.T.A. of Super Nutrition for Babies say that, now, 1 in 2.5 (40%) of children have allergies (often presenting as eczema), compared to 30% of adults.
I started to do a deep dive into eczema treatments when my son turned two months old and broke out in eczema from head to toe. It was an extreme case that, like it would any parent, caused me extreme stress. I worked very closely with my naturopath and paediatrician to get to the root cause, as well as treat his immediate symptoms.
Today, Austin is 10 months old and is clear skinned and thriving. We still deal with a few patches of eczema here and there, but it is nothing compared to the case we were managing several months ago. And we did it naturally. So, how did we get here?
First, it’s important to address how common eczema is today. Why is that and what can we do about it? The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care notes that there has been a major shift in disease patterns over the course of just two generations. Genetically, it would take thousands of years to change as much as we’ve seen. The authors attribute this shift to the many dietary and lifestyle changes that have occurred over the last 50 years. Children spend far less time outdoors, exposed to fewer germs and less dirt; they have fewer close encounters with peers and animals and live in highly sanitized environments. As a result of this shift in lifestyle, our immune systems do not get to flex their muscles as much as they need to fight microorganisms when they come along. We are far more likely to experience a negative immune response because of this.
Using soothing oatmeal baths to help control inflammation.
Most people, when faced with the challenge of eczema, immediately turn to a cream or other topical treatment to heal a flare up. And although this can be helpful in the short term, it’s so important to understand that skin inflammation is a symptom of something bigger that must be addressed. Otherwise, you will forever be treating the symptom--a band aid solution to a larger issue. If a person’s gut flora is not thriving, due to things like a c-section delivery for babies, poor diet, a high amount of pro-inflammatory foods, additives in vaccinations not properly detoxed by the body, use of antibiotics, chloride and fluoride in water, etc. the cell-to-cell junctures of the gut are weakened. The villi become damaged and flattened and can’t do their job. Healthy villi produce enzymes called disaccharides, which break down foods like grains and milk products. Without them, digestion of these foods becomes difficult and the body gets run down with immune system dysfunction, allergies, rashes and asthma. We see holes or leaks in the gut lining, which allow allergenic proteins into the bloodstream. The immune response to these foreign bodies in the bloodstream can show up as--you guessed it-- eczema.
This helps us understand why going deeper than the skin outbreak is important in solving the problem of eczema. First, we must figure out why the body is having an immune response and begin there.
For many people, this will be a trial-and-error process, as it was (is) for us. This can be frustrating, but a necessary part of the journey.
If you’re experiencing eczema with your little one, know that your journey might look different than ours. But by sharing our story, you may have some fresh tools to try out or to talk to your healthcare team about.
"It’s so important to understand that skin inflammation is a symptom of something bigger that must be addressed. Otherwise, you will forever be treating the symptom."
Austin was born via emergency c-section, meaning he didn’t get that push through the birth canal that I had hoped for him, which helps populate a baby’s gut with healthy bacteria. So, even before his skin issues came about, I put him on a probiotic. I used this one. When his eczema began to flare up, I worked with my naturopath who also put him on a second dose containing additional bacteria strands.
He was exclusively breastfed, so knowing that what I was eating may cause him inflammation, I removed all dairy and eggs from my diet, common inflammatory foods. If your child is older and experiencing eczema, removing pro-inflammatory foods is a great place to start. These include: dairy, eggs, gluten, refined sugars, and bad fats like hydrogenated oils. Specifically in the case of foods like dairy and eggs, which may be a big part of your food culture, try removing for at least a month and then slowly reintroducing one at a time, to see if a reaction occurs. In Austin’s case, he still seems to have minor reactions to both of these foods in prolonged doses and will break out in a new (although, thankfully not severe) patch of eczema. So I continue to cycle them, trying small amounts at a time every few weeks.
Since we know gut health plays a primary role in healing eczema, I put a lot of emphasis on feeding Austin nourishing, gut-healing foods. From the day he began food, I made meat/bone broth to feed him on its own, as well as mixed it into purees. By slow cooking organic bone-in, skin on chicken legs, it draws out important nutrients and minerals that are incredibly nourishing to the gut. He still loves my homemade broth and eats it regularly. I also use fermented foods and high quality oils to nourish the gut and skin, like flax seed and coconut oil, and use supplements like cod liver oil. With these protocols in place, we watched as Austin's healing began.
A common dietary treatment for intestinal dysfunction like what I have described above is implementing the GAPS diet. This is a great place to start if you’re not sure where to start.
The Weston A. Price Foundation lays this concept out well:
“Whether we are talking about foreign food antigens (food allergies), or auto-immune reactions, the issue is not so much stopping the toxic skin reaction that results in the eczema, but rather sealing and healing the gut in order to stop the leakage of foreign proteins into the blood stream, either from food or other sources. Healing the micro-flora of the gut, healing the micro-villi of the gut, and stopping the absorption of antigenic proteins is the key to stopping the vicious cycle that results in chronic eczema. All of this points to the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet), the modified traditional diet, to start healing the gut and restoring the micro-ecology in our GI tract. From a epidemiological perspective, when we moved away from our traditional diet, with its emphasis on lacto-fermented foods, good fats, bone broths and properly prepared grains, we created the situation that has allowed chronic illnesses like eczema to flourish.”
There are other treatments you can try to help the body detox like giving sea vegetables in capsule form, which bind heavy metals and other toxins and promote excretion through the bowels. If your child is vaccinated, you can use supplements that help boost the health of the body's systems and decrease inflammation from additives in vaccines that very commonly lead to eczema outbreaks (we use this one). Additionally, the authors of Nourishing Traditions suggest using a topical that includes Sephora as the primary ingredient, a shrubby plant used as an herb in Chinese medicine to counteract allergies by stabilizing the mast cells.
And although many people turn to treatment options like steroid creams, although they control the symptom, they will never heal the individual suffering from eczema or fix the root of the problem. They may also lead to other negative side effects that complicate health later in life. Personally, we do keep a very low dose of cortisone cream on hand for any outbreak emergencies, but we use it sparingly and very infrequently with Austin’s long-term health in mind.
Homeopathics are another option to incorporate into a treatment plan. We tried sulphur pellets with Austin, and although we didn’t see much improvement, others have had great success. You can also explore psorinum, graphites, and arsenicum album.
In terms of treating the immediate symptoms (because no one wants to see their child in discomfort), here are a few topicals that we tried with varying degrees of effectiveness:
Again, this will be trial and error in order to find the topical that provides your little one with the most relief, but the key to comfort is to keep the skin hydrated and prevent any open sores. In the case of open sores in the height of Austin's outbreak, we used Correct-X by Doterra. This was a natural solution to prevent any infection and promote healing.
If you or your child has eczema, know that you must begin the healing process from the inside out. Otherwise, you will forever be chasing the symptom. Gut health is paramount for long-term health and we all deserve to achieve this.
If you are currently on this healing journey and would like a little more guidance, reach out to me. I would love to support you.
Plus: tips to manage Halloween sugar consumption
Pumpkins are aplenty and the grocery store shelves are stocked with mini chocolate bars. That can only mean one thing: another Halloween is upon us. Personally, I find this occasion a little tricky. On one hand, it's a ton of fun--the costumes, the parties, the excitement. I love it. But on the other hand, the sugary foods that tend to come along with all of the festivities can leave parents cringing a bit. So, I try to take a balanced approach here and not let myself spiral out of control around... well, control. Luckily, my oldest isn't even three yet, so although I know the harder years are ahead when it comes to Halloween candy stress, I'm going to revel in this bubble of her naivety while I still can.
That said, this is the first year my daughter may need a few household guidelines in place to manage the Halloween sugar rush. She's aware enough that if I throw out her candy after she goes to bed (like last year), she may have something to say about it in the morning. Luckily, her limited candy experience means even a couple of pieces saved for the week will leave her feeling like she won the lottery. So this year my strategy will be to have her choose five pieces from her loot (read: allows her to exercise control by offering choice). I will explain that she can have one piece each day until the five pieces are gone. Hard to say how many years this will fly for, but I think it's important to note that you set the standards in your own home when it comes to Halloween candy practices. So, whatever you're comfortable with--maybe it's eat until your belly hurts on the 31st and then choose one piece for the next day; maybe it's give all of the Wunderbars to mom and dad and you can keep the rest; some families like to employ the Switch Witch and trade out the candy for a toy, etc.--whatever your comfort level is, remember that you are the boss.
Whatever model you choose, I like the idea of incorporating choice somewhere, because, like I mentioned above, putting some control in your child's hands is key, but remember that you are ultimately the decision maker.
We love to host our friends and their littles (although, if you're reading this in 2020, that looks different this year) and one of my favourite things to do is find healthier food hacks while keeping the theme and spirit of the day in mind. Food can easily be considered "treats" or "festive" without being void of nutrients. I've chosen five fun Halloween food ideas to include in a party menu or even in your chid's meals on the 31st to make the day extra special. I've used real, whole food ingredients, and also incorporated a few more "treat" foods that we don't see often in our house (like marshmallows!), making them extra special in my almost-three-year-old's eyes.
We don't use the worlds "good" or "bad" around food. It's important to monitor your use of these terms to support children's development of a healthy relationship with food. But I don't mind using words like "nutritious" or "special treats". It's teaching our children to tune into how different foods make their bodies feel, as well as how different foods help our bodies do their jobs better than others. It teaches them that sometimes food is just meant to be enjoyed. It's teaching them intuition and balance.
"It's teaching them intuition and balance."
So, let's get into these fun (and easy) recipes that you can try with your kiddos this Hallow's Eve!
Starting off with this cute little dish, because I think it could make for a lovely breakfast or morning snack. Simply layer some pineapple and clementines (or mandarines) and top with yogurt. I've used coconut yogurt here but you could also use whipped cream if you want to make it a little more decadent. I also topped with a few chocolate sprinkles to make it extra special for the littles. (Sidenote: I used vanilla coconut yogurt and, combined with the pineapple, it gave me serious pina colada vibes. Grownup bonus).
These cantaloupe and blackberry kabobs could not be easier, but don't they look festive? They are perfect for a halloween party or to send with your child to school. Fruit in Halloween colours? You can't go wrong.
I love the look of this plate. The green apples with the spooky sauce... so good. You're already winning with apples being the main ingredient, but the star is my sneaky healthy(er) caramel sauce. Ditch the corn syrup and follow along:
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 maple syrup
pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan except the vanilla. Bring to a boil for 4 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce to simmer for about 45 minutes (until liquid has reduced by half), stirring as needed. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and let cool for about an hour. Cover and store in fridge overnight to allow for further thickening.
These are just the cutest darn ghosts I have ever seen. Plus, who doesn't love chocolate covered strawberries? I grabbed an organic white chocolate bar, melted it on the stove with 1 Tsp of coconut oil, allowed it to cool and thicken slightly before dipping my strawberries with lots of excess chocolate for a more "ghostly" shape. Let strawberries sit in the fridge on parchment paper for about 5 minutes before using small chocolate chips to make the eyes and mouth. Return to the fridge and allow to set fully before serving.
Apples + peanut butter + marshmallows = these adorable monster mouths. With three ingredients and about 5 minutes of prep, you can't go wrong throwing these on your party table. Also: how stoked was my daughter when there were marshmallows on her apples? Made her whole weekend. The sweetest part was when she saved one on her plate for a little later. After she played for a while, she went back to the table, made herself comfortable and enjoyed every moment of her third marshmallow.
Happy Halloween, friends! Tag me on instagram if you try any of these (or other!) healthy Halloween snack ideas!
I am always looking for fun snack recipes for Ayla. I want them to have a good nutritional profile, but they also have to be tasty for her to show any interest. I had seen lots of cookie recipes that used chickpeas in place of flour and thought that sounded like a great place to start for a winning, healthy snack. But as I began looking around, I couldn't quite find a recipe that I was happy with. So, taking ideas from a variety of sources, I got to work on my own creation. This hasn't always worked out for me in the past, so when I gave my first batch the official taste test, I was shocked that they were actually quite tasty!
To make things even better, these cookies are packed with fibre, and are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free.
But none of this mattered if the ultimate taste tester didn't approve. Luckily, Ayla gobbled them up! Huge mom win. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent in the kitchen coming up with what that I think will be great dishes for the babe, only to have her turn her nose up at them. I needed an ego boost.
What I love most about this recipe is that you throw all of the ingredients in a blender at once, making the prep work really quick and easy. You can have these cookies prepped and cooked in less than 45 minutes. They really do resemble the peanut butter cookie of my childhood, but with more nutritious undertones. I wanted them to be baby friendly, which means low sugar (natural or otherwise) but if you are making them for yourself or an older child, there a couple of alterations you can do to make them a bit of a sweeter treat. I used 2 tablespoons of 100% maple syrup as my sweetener, plus a banana. You could up the maple syrup for an extra kick of sweetness (perhaps 1/4-1/2 cup), as well as stir in chocolate chips just before scooping them onto your cookie sheet. Chocolate chips tend to go a long way in elevating most cookie recipes. The first batch I made definitely had a more "rustic" look to them. The second time around, I used damp hands to create more uniformed shapes and pressed down on the tops with a fork to resemble a more traditional peanut butter cookie.
As our environment becomes increasingly more fragile, low-waste (or zero-waste) living is gaining momentum--and thank goodness for that. According to The World Counts, there is over 1 billion, 600 million tons of waste dumped globally each year. That is a staggering number and one is left thinking… where will it all go?
People are starting to get the hint that their daily actions matter when it comes to preserving what environment we have left, and maybe (MAYBE) even seeing some regeneration if we act quickly and wisely.
Over the past few years, primarily after purchasing my own home, I started to become very aware of waste--specifically, mine. The garbage can towering with bags mocked me as I struggled to get to the end of the driveway on garbage day. I was conscious of the amount of plastic coming into my house on a regular basis and didn’t like it. I was working on reducing the amount of chemicals that were used in our home and realized that many were coming in disposable, plastic bottles.
Every single-use plastic item that I used regularly left me with a growing amount of guilt and maybe a little shame.
I knew I could do better.
A lot of people become paralyzed by the idea that if they aren’t doing something with 100% effort and accuracy, they might as well not do it at all. But when it comes to low-waste living, a little can go a long way. As the saying goes, a lot of people doing low-waste living imperfectly is better than one doing it perfectly. So, with these words in mind, I slowly started to shift a few habits in my home that reduce our overall impact on the environment, and quite honestly, on my wallet.
When I say I no longer buy these things, in some cases that’s a bit of a stretch. What I mean is it is very rare for me to buy these items anymore and when I do, they last a very long time. I’m not perfect and, although sometimes I wish I was, by no means an extremist. I’m just a gal trying to do the best I can. But sometimes I just need to use a piece of plastic wrap, ok?
These changes were not made overnight. Like most long-term shifts, I started slow, replacing one item at a time with a more sustainable option, and grew my list over time.
So, without further ado, here are 10 things I no longer purchase and--more importantly--what they have been replaced with: quality, sustainable products.
1. Ziplock bags
I had been feeling guilty about ziplock bags for a while. It was just one more single-use plastic that I did not need to be using and contributing to our landfills. Luckily, Stashers are an incredible replacement for plastic baggies. They are made of non-toxic silicone, have an incredible seal and can be used over and over again. I have a deep love for these bags and every time I use them, I feel proud that I will have nothing for the garbage can when I’m through. They come in multiple sizes, which is very helpful. I use the large size to freeze items or even defrost meat in (seal chicken breast in the bag and then pop it in a sink of warm water). I also love the regular size for snacks. They’re fantastic for travel because they’re zero-waste without the weight or bulk of a container. For some, the price may be a deterrent, but if you consider the fact that they are a one-time buy (and you would otherwise be continuously purchasing boxes of plastic baggies), and that you only need a few in your drawer, it's a money saver in the end. Financially and environmentally beneficial? Sign me up.
2. Plastic wrap
Let’s just keep the single-use plastic ball rolling here. I really struggled with plastic wrap. It’s just so good at what it does. And the convenience kept me coming back for more. But I couldn’t ignore another easy swap for a single-use plastic item, and so entered beeswax wraps. This genius invention is made by infusing cotton, food-grade beeswax and oil. Together, these form a breathable, moldable paper that can fit over any bowl, dish or container. They come in various sizes or can be cut to your preferred size. These wraps solve the problem of covering food while also eliminating the issue of plastic waste. They are easily washed, dried, folded and put away in the drawer until next time. There are a ton of companies out there to choose from, but being a Canadian gal myself, I highly recommend Abeego or Nature Bee, which originated right here in the Great White North.
3. Dry Shampoo
Let’s be clear--this doesn’t mean I am washing my hair every day. Hardly. My swap for store-bought shampoo actually didn’t originate out of a desire to reduce my waste (although the elimination of aerosol bottles is a huge win here). I was actually struggling with a dry scalp and found that traditional dry shampoo exacerbated the issue. I was also making a move to more natural, toxic-free hair, makeup and body products at this time in my life. When I found out how easy it was to make your own dry shampoo, I couldn’t not try it. I am a blonde, so making dry shampoo is as simple as pouring tapioca or corn starch into a small glass jar, mixing in a couple of drops of lavender essential oil (optional) and putting the lid on. That’s it! I apply with a clean makeup brush and it works great. If you are a brunette, and don’t like the white residue this (and most other dry shampoos) leaves behind, simply add a bit of cocoa (obvious bonus: smells like chocolate). Another application option is to save an old spice bottle with the holes in the top and put your mixture in it for easy sprinkle application.
So I find that most people (in my circle, anyway) are getting on board with the concept of natural deodorant. More and more information is surfacing cautioning people from using the chemical-laden, aluminum-filled store-bought brands. Heavy metals next to your breast tissue all day, ladies? Run for the hills. But when I tell them that I actually make my own deodorant, I usually get an eyebrow raise or two. But let me tell you--I tried countless natural brands and, being the sweaty person that I am, none of them could get me through the day without grossing myself out with my own stentch. A girlfriend actually made this deodorant for me first. That was two years ago and I have never gone back to store-bought. Not only does it last forever, but it’s super easy to make, 100% natural, incredibly inexpensive and plastic-free. I am a hard sell, and I promise you this homemade version comes out on top.
Grab the recipe for this homemade, easy, effective and natural deodorant by filling out your email below. I'll send it right to your inbox. Bye, chemicals and heavy metals. You can't sit with us.
5. Plastic hand soap bottles
My solution to the never-ending stream of plastic hand soap bottles came to me when one of my favourite shops moved in down the street. The Kind Matter Company is an eco-friendly, sustainable living store that boasts an array of household items mostly made by Canadian companies--many local. They hooked me up with hand soap from The Bare Home, a non-toxic, environmentally friendly soap that arrives in a glass bottle, which you are encouraged to refill. You can order boxes of refills directly from The Bare Home, or--and this is my preferred method--visit a refill station like The Kind Matter Co. when you run out.
Are you an Eat. Move. Live. subscriber? If so, you'll see a discount code for Kind Matter Co. in your inbox this week! That will allow you to shop 24/7 in their online store and snag some of the incredible products I've mentioned here (plus so much more) for a great price. Not signed up? No problem. Fill in your info below to access the code now.
6. Plastic dish soap bottles (and dish soap, for that matter!)
Keeping my love of The Kind Matter Co. going, when I figured out I could make my own dish soap using a toxic-free concentrate, I ran over to the shop, snagged myself a large glass pump bottle and, just like that, eliminated my need to buy any more plastic dish soap bottles. I use my concentrate (Doterra brand), mix it with water and I’m done. These bottles can be used for so many things over and over again, so be sure to grab that discount code if you haven't already and pick yourself up a couple! They also look a whole lot nicer on your counter than store-bought plastic brands. Im a minimalist at heart, so this is something I really appreciate.
7. Coffee filters
I’m not going to lie--I loved the convenience of throwing my morning grinds and filter right into the compost bin daily. But eventually I decided, even though it was composted, it was one more item I didn’t need to be buying. My coffee maker came with a reusable filter that I could easily rinse out with each use. If yours doesn’t come with one, take a look at this one and see if it would work with your pot. It’s convenient and economical and prevents those, “Shoot--I’m out of filters!” moments.
8. Cooking oil spray bottles
For convenience, I prefer to have a spray bottle of cooking oil above my stove. But we know aerosol cans aren’t our best option, and even if they’re a pump bottle, it’s one more bottle that eventually ends up in the trash. Enter this glass oil dispenser. I love this little gadget! Remove the top, fill it up with your favourite oil (I recommend avocado, fractionated coconut, or extra virgin olive oil), and you’re done.
9. All-purpose cleaner plastic bottles
This is a favourite of mine for a few reasons. For one, I love having a cleaner I’ve made (again, using my concentrate), knowing it’s safe for my home and my family. Secondly, putting your cleaner in a pretty amber bottle means you don’t mind having it out on your counter, making it even more convenient. If you don’t have a concentrate, you can totally make your own, effective, counter spray. Here’s a recipe you can check out from Crafting The Good Life, but there are a ton out there that you might want to play around with. Don’t feel like you need to purchase an all-purpose cleaner from the store to get the job done. Marketing is a powerful tool. But you can do a great cleaning job using a couple of household products you likely have in your kitchen right now.
10. Water bottles
Finally, if you are still using a plastic, disposable water bottle on a regular basis… get your life together. No excuses.
And there you have it: 10 things I don’t buy anymore! Not only did this shift make me feel good about what I was doing for the environment, but in many cases, supported the health of my family in a big way. I am saving money and planet Earth through very little effort at all, all the while creating a low-tox home environment.
If you haven’t already, I challenge you to pick one thing on this list and make the switch this week! Start small and see where it takes you. My bet is you never look back.
It’s apple season, which means my family was like most this past weekend and hit up an apple orchard. Particularly during these strange times, families are jumping on board with any and every outdoor activity available this year! Apple picking was no exception. We packed our picnic basket and trekked 45 minutes north of the city to one of the few organic orchards in our area. Apples are one of the dirty dozen foods, meaning they are one of the highest scoring fruits and vegetables in pesticides, so buying organic is important.
We headed straight for the honey crisp rows and got to work. Although many of the trees had been picked over already (despite being there one day after the honey crisps were deemed ripe enough to pick), we were still able to get a good haul. We weren’t above picking up decent looking apples off the ground. In fact, these are referred to as “wind apples” and it usually means they fell naturally--a sign they are ripe and ready to be eaten. So I was all for the ground apples, as I liked to call them.
As soon as we got home, I got to cooking, mostly because I didn’t have anywhere to store 5 dozen apples. First, I made a couple batches of home made apple sauce, my absolute favourite. I steam the apples with skin on for added nutrients, and blend them up using the Vitamix. Sometimes I add some cinnamon, but it’s optional. If any extra liquid is needed, just grab a few tablespoons from your steaming pot. If you make a few batches, it freezes really well and means you can enjoy homemade applesauce any time of the year.
After that I obviously had to whip up an apple crumble. Gluten-free was a no brainer for me, but I also decided to keep it vegan by omitting any butter. Easy.
The ticket to a crispy crumble is to make sure the mixture is entirely coated in oil before adding it on top of your apples and then also throwing the oven on broil for a couple of minutes at the end of the cooking process. Just make sure you are watching the clock like a hawk, or you’ll end up with a burn crumble… and nobody likes that. It’s a risky game, but I think the reward is worth it.
I don’t add any sweetener to my apples, like many recipes suggest. Most apples are sweet enough and if you’ve included maple syrup in the crumble, like my recipe uses, it provides just enough added sweetness. I recommend cutting down on the sugar content by letting the apples do their thing. This recipe actually has so much goodness packed in, you could use it as a dessert or breakfast interchangeably. And what’s better than that?
If you’re looking for a last minute Thanksgiving dish, I’ve got you covered. Otherwise, this makes the perfect fall comfort food and what a fantastic excuse to eat seasonally and support local.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Apple Crumble