Posts Tagged ‘natural’

Post-pregnancy Teas

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

post-partum teasThe first three months after giving birth are known as the fourth trimester. It is a time when baby is getting used to being out of the womb and in the world. Just as we do our best to nourish our bodies during the first three trimesters, the fourth trimester is just as important. Nutrition is still going to be important, and adding some herbal teas can be very beneficial as well. These are my top picks for postpartum teas.

Red raspberry leaf. If you started drinking it through pregnancy (or even if you didn’t) it’s a great idea to keep drinking it. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and especially high amounts of vitamins C and E as well as calcium and iron, which is especially important after giving birth. It also helps some women increase their breast milk supply because of its naturally high mineral content.

Nettle tea. This is a wonderful restorative tea that helps get rid of new motherhood fatigue by boosting energy and even helping to calm anxiety. It has a deep, rich flavor that I think resembles the earthiness of coffee. It gets its dark color from green chlorophyll, which helps create rich blood and is said to strengthen vitality.

Lemon balm. One of my very favorite teas it is an antiviral, which can help keep you from getting sick but it is also a wonderful calming herb. It has a mild delicious flavor and you can drink it throughout the day to help calm your nerves or before bed to help you sleep. My favorite way to drink it is to make a large batch, mix it with some honey and store it in the fridge to drink cold.

Chamomile. Known as one of the best relaxation teas to help before bed it also serves many other purposes. In the same way as lemon balm you can drink it throughout the day to help reduce stress, tension and nervousness. It is also great to help reduce gas and bloating making it a great post meal beverage. Try mixing some chamomile leaves with lemon balm for an even more delicious tea.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their groove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

Making Baby Food is Easier Than You Think!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Making Baby Food

The thought of making your own baby food may seem daunting and maybe even pointless since there are so many packaged baby food options on the market. If you’ve thought about it but feel like it might be too much work, I promise it’s not.

It is actually really easy! And it’s totally worth it. Just like eating fresh food is better for us as adults, fresh, homemade food beats a can or pouch any day of the week for kids, too!

You don’t need any fancy equipment or special “baby food makers.” Really the only things you need are a food processor, some ice cube trays and if you’re sending food to daycare some little glass containers to put the prepared baby food in.

First you have to decide if you feel more comfortable with baby led weaning, where babies gnaw on larger chunks of food, or if you want to stick with purees, or maybe do a combination of each. Purees tend to be the best option for daycares since so many don’t want the liability of possible choking.

My favorite guide to making baby foods are a cookbook by Tyler Florence called Start Fresh it begins with purees and works through toddler foods and all the way into family meals. I’ve probably made every recipe in the book and have not come across one the whole family didn’t love. One of my daughters’ favorite purees from the cookbook was a combination I would have never thought of on my own: carrot, mango and apple! Another great resource is the Wholesome Baby Food website which is jam-packed with helpful information.

As babies get older and they start eating more complex foods they can start eating the same things that you eat. Eventually you’ll need to puree less and less until you don’t even need to puree at all. While you are still pureeing though I suggest preparing everything in large batches! Then simply scoop the puree into the ice cube trays and freeze. Once they’re completely frozen you can remove the individual frozen cubes and transfer them into a large freezer safe bag and lay them flat to save space. That’s the bulk of the work!

If you’re getting food ready for daycare just take a few cubes out the night before. Put them into a small glass container in the fridge and let them thaw overnight. If you’re eating at home,
I recommend heating them on the stove top rather than the microwave. You can even add some breast milk to the sweet flavors or some bone broth to the savory flavors. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Staying Healthy During Flu SeasonWith flu season coming up, it’s time to start talking to the kids about being healthy! We try to explain to our oldest (3) what germs are and how they can get you sick. We use very simple terms, of course, but that doesn’t stop him from touching dog poop at the park. No, really. He picked up dog poop and asked, “Mama, is this dog poop?”

With that basic lack of understanding about germs, we really rely on other methods of staying healthy.

We place a heavy emphasis on washing hands in our household. Not only because of things like the dog poop incident, but because the kids instantly touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after handling germy things. It’s almost instant. In an attempt to instill some sort of good hygienic practice, we wash our hands when we come in from outside, after play time is over, before helping put dishes away, etc. This, of course, on top of all the times you would fully expect hand washing (after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, etc.).

Other things are a bit more “behind the scenes.” We can only do so much to get our kids to follow hygienic practices at young ages, but we can help them boost their immune system. Offering foods like garlic or barley can help lessen the likelihood of getting sick. Many foods can offer antimicrobial properties, so it’s a great idea to read up on different foods and try to incorporate them into your family’s diet. Heck, oats and barley not only boost immunity, but they can help antibiotics work better if you do get sick.

There are also lots of herbal supplements that people take to help with their immune system. I’m not big on trying to push things like this on my children, but I am a big believer in Sambucus (elderberry) in helping the immune system. Not only has my (asthmatic) son had less episodes that require him to use a breathing nebulizer since taking elderberry syrup, but when he does have to start nebulizer treatments, they don’t last as long. Instead of a week, we see a day or two. He also really enjoys the taste of elderberry syrup, and we mix it in with some almond milk and sometimes keifer, too.

If you’re not too keen on store bought supplements like Sambucus, you can always make your own syrup using fresh, frozen, or dried elderberries. Our local health food store has dried elderberries in the bulk herb section. There are a plethora of recipes available online with a simple search, so you can find a recipe that would suit your family’s needs (taste and dietary) best. Just a little elderberry a day helps, and a few times a day if you happen to get sick.

Also, if we happen to get sick, we keep coconut water on hand. Not only does it have electrolytes and no artificial sweeteners or dyes, but it has extra calories in it which you could really use if you’re sick and quickly losing whatever you eat (regardless of the method).

Finally, laughter! Yes, really. Laughter can help boost your immune system, improve your blood flow, regulate blood sugar levels, and is simply contagious. Who doesn’t love laughing? With colder days around the bend, we like to get some good shows or movies queued up to watch. Some for the kids, some for us when we have child-free time. Everyone enjoys smiles and laughter, and hey! It just might help you beat the flu.

Christine Kangas is a mom of two trying to lead a greener life. She lives in the mid-western U.S. with her family and three cats.

3 Toxic Chemicals Lurking in Baby Products

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

3 Toxic Chemicals in Baby ProductsWhen we buy baby products and see labels claiming safety for our loved ones, we want to believe that they really are safe. Unfortunately there are many ingredients in common baby products, even those labeled natural or organic, which may actually be hazardous.

Just last year Johnson & Johnson, one of the most trusted companies when it comes to baby products, announced that it would be removing many toxic chemicals but would continue to use some of them, even though they have been found to cause cancer. Here are three to avoid:

Phthalates are a man-made chemical typically used to make plastics flexible. They are also used in many fragrance oils since they prolong the scent and are commonly found in lotions, powders and shampoos. They have been linked to hormonal changes, birth defects, reproductive abnormalities in baby boys, and damage to the lungs, liver and kidneys. A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that even young infants frequently exposed to phthalates are vulnerable to these adverse effects.

Parabens are often used as a preservative that prevents the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast in cosmetics, foods and pharmaceutical products. They can be found most commonly in deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotions and shower cleansers. Parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, have been linked to breast cancer after being absorbed through the skin.

Perfumes give many products their lovely baby smell but it’s really nothing more than a mix of chemicals trying to cover up the smell of even more chemicals. Artificial fragrances are known for being one of the top five allergens and a frequent trigger for asthma. Unfortunately the fragrance industry is allowed to regulate itself so they are allowed to determine what is safe without an outside agency to test for safety.

Always be sure to read labels and avoid these ingredients whenever you can. Since there are so many other chemicals being used in baby care products your best bet is to choose products with an ingredient list you can pronounce. Your next best option is to search the Environmental Working Groups website Skin Deep which lets you search for safe products or type in a product and find out how it ranks for safety against toxic chemicals.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.