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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Baby and Toddler Snacks Review~ (Lots to Review)


Since my little one is enjoying more and more snacks, I thought maybe I could write my first review blog post for toddler snacks! After all, I am beginning to become somewhat an expert on the matter, with the amount of snacks and baby foods we have went through.

So, we will be reviewing baby and toddler snacks, including in the article which ones are her favourite's and also listing the costs, but I definitely advocate making your own snacks from scratch if you have the time.  First off, it's a healthier snack for your child with no chemicals and you know what you are feeding them, as well as it's more economical. While every child's preferences are different, healthier snack choices tended to be a win-win with her and when she enjoyed them that made it easy to give her more nutrition at snack-time.  If you have a fussy eater, as mine can be at times, then it really is great when you can pack in nutrition with a snack.  With that being said, I will be posted an awesome recipe I tried and made for my little one.....we both loved them!

So far, we have tried a variety of puffs, and more of the individually wrapped bought snacks are for the "road", so I try to serve other snacks if we can such as toast and peanut butter or cottage cheese or even more small salads and fruits.  But for the on the go snacks, I can put them into the front pocket of the diaper bag and load  a bottle of water for the side pocket and know I have something to serve in a jiffy if we don't stop anywhere there is food, or if we are somewhere and decide to sit and enjoy the weather for a bit of time, well then I have something to let my little one munch on.

To start with, we tried more fruitful tastes, and that is the "Parent's Choice Little Puffs- Blueberry, sweet potato and also she has tried the apple flavor.  She dislikes these, anytime -but once she ate some when offered.  These are not organic, and so perhaps she has advanced taste buds to know this, because they get spat on the floor.   At $1.97 each plastic bottle container, sorry Parent's Choice.  In fact, they were thrown away because they just became another thing that went stale in the fail section.  More on Puffs here for the health conscious parent's to review: Puffs Guide courtesy of "Gimme the Good Stuff" website.  Noticing there are healthier options than I may have found or listed, then perhaps you can try and review some for yourself., such as Sprout brand's quinoa puffs.

 Also sorry, to Love Child Organics brand because this wasn't a great snack in terms of taste. These are not a puff but a similar size for snacking, the organic banana "Toodle-O's" by this brand went wasted.  I tried them too and it was indeed an acquired taste.  Unfortunately, the price wasn't very cheap, now listed at $3.47 (Walmart), I found that price has since lowered since I purchased them to try, and my little one didn't prefer them at all so it's a lot of pennies down the garbage.  Now that isn't to say she may like them now, if her tastes have change or something else made by this brand.

Gerber Lil' Crunchies cheese or vegetable puffs, which should be sort of healthy as they are baked and it is a toddler type cheezie, at least in my mind but try telling that to my little one.  Needless to say, she did not like these too much but still would eat some of them if nothing else was offered.  To be honest though, I had given her awhile to try them out and even after sometime she shunned them and wasted them on the floor, and I had tried the mild cheddar and also offered her the 'veggie dip' flavor. Both flavors could just be better, as they are sort of bland and there are certain additives in this brand's crunchies I prefer not to feed my child.  Priced at $2.77 for a tub is not bad though, perhaps your little one would like them.

PC Kale and Broccoli Organic corn puffs, similar to the cheese puffs, but have more vegetable taste. She loves them!  She had already polished off 2 containers. I must get more, since they are organic and healthy with greens in them- so to speak..  So these are a huge win in my books! Recommended for 1+ years old.  $2.89 last year at the No Frill's store.

Yogurt bites, one of the more pricier toddler snacks in my budget seem to be a hit, since my child loves all brands we tried.  I since stopped buying them though since, natural yogurt purchased from the grocery store has the more beneficial probiotics in it and is a cheaper deal.  We add different flavours to the plain yogurt, according to how we feel.  Sometimes some cinnamon and maple syrup or other times we may add some sweet fruit jam.  So that becomes a better snack and is multi-use. There wasn't a pack that was wasted and including Parent's Choice mixed berry, Gerber mixed berry, although we don't like chemicals in it, and the prices were not cheap for a small pack so we opted to only try these a couple times.  Gerber's is around $3.87 per pack and Parent's Choice is about a dollar cheaper.

Rusks, including Baby Mums (Rusks) at $2.67 and Parent's Choice at $1.98 each box, both brands come in a box and inside are the individually packages.  Great for on the go snacks and can be eaten easily without choking; but that's not saying don't watch your kids when they are eating.  They do need monitoring. My daughter loves flavours but more so the kale and vegetable ones.  She has had a lot of other flavors like the apple, banana, plain or pumpkin ones.  We are finishing up the last pack of these today actually, and I won't be buying anymore since they seem like a very young baby's snack now, though there are "Toddler Mum Mum's".  I may see if I can find them and now I had a couple left, I had been putting peanut butter on them being kids need extra protein and iron and such.  So my little one can enjoy a bit more protein and taste.  Those 2 snacks, peanut butter and milk and most times a half banana, and she loves it!

In the animal crackers category, we have tried Mr. Christie Original Arrowroot cookie biscuits priced at $3 (which in the last while since starting this post have been recalled in Canada), Great Value Organic Animal Cookies which are sold in a box priced at $2.77,  with six individually wrapped packets, and finally we have yet to try the Parent's Choice Kid's Organic Animal Cookies.  Those seem more suitable than either of the previous animal cookies brands we have tried.  Our box of Mr. Christie Arrowroot cookies were tossed to the fail section since they were not one of the dates that were recalled per say but very close to it.  Better to be safe than sorry, and we did have some before we were of the aware of the recall of which  I gave her some to try in small pieces and broken in more than two, but I am always fearful of her choking.  I didn't think the texture was so great for a little one.   The Great Value Organic Animal Cookies are even more hard to chew, even for an adult and so I did not give her any of those and they became my snack to gnaw away at after she went to bed.  Similarly, I had a bright idea to buy Great Value Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies in individual packets as well, similar style as the animal cookies.  They were very tough to eat, small and could break a tooth, in fact I do not think they were supposed to be that hard so needless to say I did not give those to my child at all and ate some myself but had to throw some out since they were inedible. It was not worth my while to take the time out of my day to take them back.

Some cookies were just fine but still most were hard as a rock, and some of the best in my opinion were the Mi-Del Gluten Free Arrowroot cookies which were about $3.97 and mostly I ate them.  I bought them a little bit prematurely and realized my child wasn't quite ready for those, at around 8 months old.  I may have also tried the Great Value Gluten Free Animal Cookies priced at $2.27 but I forget what we thought of those, if I recall they were pretty good actually.

But out of all those brand name snacks, plain unsalted crackers; with some butter lightly spread on or peanut butter is still a good go to for my child.  She loves that and so sometimes, it is the simple things in life that become the ones you win with.  Lately, it's been all about Joe's Tasty Travels brand Roasted and Hulled Sunflower Seeds for $3 per bag.  No salt, which is good and this is the only approved "nut" my child can have at her age.  Don't feed them whole nuts they can choke on, but I find these are small enough for her to manage and packed with iron and Omega-3's.  It's also a good predinner snack that should not ruin their appetite since I give such a small amount.  Kind of an appetiser and it gives her something to do in the high chair so I can finish getting dinner altogether.
I personally have always loved those along with the almond or walnuts, I purchase them every where such as in the bulk section if their is a sale on for organic ones.  But yes, mostly, I find them easily at Walmart in a little metal rack section where you can find all kinds of snacks of different proportions.   Like I said, she likes peanut butter on the plain rusks as well and I cut up cheese into bites of any sort of eating cheese we have in the fridge.  I buy a good cheese at the Farmer's Markets, like a Swiss or Gouda and then also always have the Farmer's marble readily available.  A different combination of snacking plate would filled with various types of crackers, oysters, small snacking veggies or grated carrot and avocado, maybe to the side cottage cheese- it depends on how my daughter is feeling. Sometimes she will not eat cottage cheese and now she is growing partial to it and loves it.  None the less, cottage cheese is a great toddler snack in my opinion and paired with some else to make it a heftier snack is always great.

Currently, we are trying some cereal bars by PC brand and also Walmart.  My little one is eating both types, but because I find them quite sugary, I only give half at a time with some water in her cup. This I hope washes the sugar down off her teeth, as well as sustains her need for water.  Generally at about $2-3 per box, they are mostly not that healthy so I would recommend if you can toast and jam before those.  But they are individually wrapped for an easy portable snack.

I include some type of side veggie dish like a small salad of baby  greens, avocado, fresh diced tomatoes and home house dressing., or maybe I put some avocado and grated carrot on the side or a small dish of apple sauce, and sweet pickles on a plate for me.  :)  Hey we all need a snack to keep away from being 'hangry'!  That being said, in the last six months there has been little time for anything else BUT preparing food and meals.  I have neglected the blog posts and have done other things that are better suited for my time but I will make a more dedicated announcement in the near future as to what I have decided to do and how I plan on amalgamating my on line presence in a more streamlined way!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Favorite Smoothie

Years ago,  I started making smoothies and juices to improve my health and energy.  As long as I kept making them, I noticed my health and energy level improving.  It was also to supplement my health while eating a vegetarian diet in case I was requiring so much more vitamins than I was getting.  So, I became a fan of blending or juicing, and all the while I ate seasonally and mostly locally.  I loved the foods I was eating and I began getting creative to make different recipes and smoothie blends.

I found a lot of juicing and making smoothies information on You Tube.  So blasting together juices, at first took a long time to obtain a juicer, until I was gifted a Jack Lalanne's power juicer.  It was fantastic to start off with.  It required a lot of cleaning though, but I was happy to have a juicer and then I bought a new blender to also add in smoothies to my regime.  So, I started on my blender smoothies full-time and it eventually replaced juicing, due to mostly time limitations of cleaning time, budget and kitchen space.  Honestly, a large juicer on the counter when you only have 2 small counters seemed to be a large machine that can hamper the small space I have.  If I want a special juice, I can always still make it but for the most part smoothies are quick and easy.

Another thing, is I was always dealing with pulp from the fruits and vegetables when I was juicing.   It became a whole pulp project trying to make it into foods, so as not to waste it.  So, I made my own pulp crackers, muffins, shaker salad spices and more. When ever I could implement some of the pulp, into recipes, that is what I did.  And I had to use it up quick so it didn't spoil because unless I froze it. Before I knew, I had pulp overload!

 Like I mentioned, I ended up freezing some and would store small baggies of pulp in the freezer to use in recipes and still,  I would make muffins.  I was starting to really like the recipe I made work, so I had some delicious apple pulp and bran fibre muffins with raisins and nuts in them.  They were so healthy too, but there were just too many for me to eat since no one else at work or at home cared for the healthy food, (they preferred cupcakes with coffee in the morning, not muffins with a smoothie or a juice- ha ha), I couldn't rely on anyone to help me eat them and there was usually more than a dozen to plow through.

So, that is where smoothies became more the normal around here, as I found a break from finding ways to use pulp, or having to clean all the parts of the juicing machine.  I don't have to find any ways to cook or bake to use the fruit and veggie pulp, and I don't want to be in the kitchen any more than I already am these days.


Not all smoothies are created equal.  Some mixtures of smoothies taste very strong, green and healthy, or even like "hay," I have heard.  So it's important to balance your flavors. Smoothies that taste like a tropical drink or chocolate milk can be made.  Choco Mada Smoothie's look good, and I also blend a couple pitted dates in my smoothies.   Use bananas, apples, mango, pineapple and more sweet fruits to liven up a green smoothie.

My absolute favourite fruits or vegetables to add to smoothies are pears.  I like it in green or in fruit smoothies.  I also like to add fennel which is a fresh licorice taste to the smoothie and is great with green apples.  Beets give a red and vibrant colour, which I love using the sweeter small beets and blend up a sweet and refreshing combos. Personally, I wash and peel my fruits that are not organic, otherwise I will just scrub and wash an organic piece of fruit.  I do not peel it when adding it into smoothie either unless it's something with a hard-skin.  You can chop you fruit and veggies to make it easier on your blender.

I love to make different combinations that are not to complicated, such as blueberry and spinach, or banana and pineapple, or green apple and kale or other greens even using lettuce at times in place of the kale.  I give my growing toddler grape and banana smoothies with hemp seeds in it.  I find this is a great way to make sure she is getting more fruit in her diet, and as for grapes being a choking hazard with little ones they are not when they are made into a smoothie. I also use some bagged frozen fruit which blended with an orange works out great.  Practically anything can become a smoothie and it makes a great supplement drink to the day, while using your produce so there is not waste!


A past favourite smoothie of mine was pineapple, apple, fennel and a carrot, topped with Lotus Flower pollen.  This combo is amazing, and I also like the ginger in that smoothie or with an apple and carrot combo altogether.  But, if you got this far along reading all my recommendations, then here is MY ultimate smoothie that I cannot get enough these days.  It is super alkalising and detoxing for your body and gives me so much energy.  It is half a green apple, a large handful from a bushel of cilantro.  Then I blend it with either my Brain ON Nutrient Dense Aqua Botanical powder supplement (I call my gunpowder) or a couple teaspoons of pine pollen which is also green.

This is my green elixir, and while it can be modified according to what greens you have on hand, for instance a leaf of kale or the leaves of organic cauliflower or even lettuces, I gotta say cilantro is what makes it taste so fresh.  Brian ON is what gives me energy and  helps me to think better, and pine pollen is rich amount of amino acids, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins it contains.

So it depends what I am feeling like, or if I am trying to use things before the expiration date.  As of lately, I have been saving some avocado pits to add into my smoothies.  I peel them, chop them up and then they go into the blender, but to conserve the blade of your blender you can "grate" the peeled seed.  It turns out the avocado pit is just as nutritious as the flesh of the fruit itself, if not more and can be used for your health when added into a smoothie drink.


Smoothies can change your life if you are suffering from different ailments such as fatigue, chronic conditions, to strengthen your immune system and overall keep you youthful.  If you are new to making smoothies and eating fruits and veggies, I recommend looking into smoothies, especially green smoothies as they are super for your health!
 Here's a start: Green Smoothie 101







Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Green Cleaning

If you read my Current Affairs blog post, which outlined a bit of what I am doing lately you would have read that I am more into using  natural products for green cleaning.  So it started as part of cleaning up my eating a bit more, and in line came "cleaning up" the way I clean my home.  It's better for your family too, especially babies as they tend to absorb much more chemicals and toxins than adults. I thought I would share a little about some of the things I am doing.

Not only have I been using items from my pantry in cleaning agents I make, but also I have implemented them into my own beauty routine.  I currently use raw local honey to wash my face and also as a facial mask.  I have been using baking soda as a facial mask and gentle exfoliant for all over my body.  I mix together grape seed oil, baking soda and then a few dashes of tea tree oil.  Then blend well in a little jar (I use an old clean baby food jar with a lid) and keep it in the shower.  It is a good antibacterial body wash, and also can be used for your face if you are having a break out.  I prefer to put a little bit of tea tree oil (skin oil) directly onto any breakouts as well.  

Then I mixed a new DIY facial together which is amazing!  Now, I would prefer all organic, but I am not sure it's necessary as this mix worked wonders.  So, using olive oil for natural skin tightening,  I mixed extra-virgin olive oil with lemon juice (no particular amounts, but less lemon than oil) and spread it over my face and neck. I didn't have fresh or organic lemons on hand but I did have lemon juice from a bottle which did sting a bit.  I know, it's probably NOT even lemons but rather a slurry but let's hope not so I did use only a little.  I think it would obviously be better to use real lemons and extract the juice.  So anyways, it's that easy and put it into a clean spare old container (I used an old vitamin bottle with top) and leave it on your face for 15-20 minutes or less, if you have very sensitive skin.  There is a lot of tingling action going on.  Then rinse with lukewarm water and voila!  Literally you don't have dry skin and my pores looked a lot better for a couple of days.

Brushing your teeth and cleaning your pearly whites needs some toothpaste.  I have skipped using fluoridated toothpaste around here.  I have a tube in case of company ever needs some, and I wouldn't want them to think I was a totally natural right?  Or they may think I am striving to be a lemon sniffer! They may think of me as a conspiracy theorist if I didn't have fluoride chemical in a tub around here.  But on the down low, I mixed together coconut oil, baking soda and instead of expensive mint essential oils, I used peppermint extract from the grocery store to give it a fresh taste. I required it for a couple recipes I was working on anyways, so it made sense to use it for making a minty fresh DIY natural toothpaste.  Now, I was running low on coconut oil and tired of buying smaller amounts for what still adds up to be a lot of money, so I tagged along with a friend to Costco!  Yes, we stocked up on a 2.3 L of virgin coconut oil and I price compare everywhere here in Calgary, and it was the best price next to ordering from online. So I needed to stock up and  in the meantime I was using a salt and baking soda mix together which is a formidable whitening toothpaste.  It seems to work a lot better than whitening toothpastes with fluoride in them!  One thing that is happening though, is I have quite a few more canker sores than usual, as well as a bit more sensitive teeth.  I am not sure it's from the toothpaste though or eating more medjool dates that I so love. Ya, and bye-bye fluoride.


Something else I use baking soda for, is putting it into my favorite shampoo and it turns it into a clarifying shampoo.  I mean I add it into the palm of my hand and my shampoo to it, that way I still can use either or both when I need.  I also use tea tree oil on my scalp to eliminate dandruff, but I have only tried it once when I had time.  I also use some coconut oil on my scalp when it's dry to avoid a dry unhealthy scalp, plus you can spread a bit on the ends of your tresses and a light amount to fight fly a-ways.

Back to home cleaning though, vinegar and water is my mainstay to keeping things looking shiny and clean around here.  With a toddler getting around and smearing food on the computer keyboard or on tables, chairs and walls, I feel I need a utility belt loaded with paper towel and spray bottles of vinegar and water. I made my own DIY antibacterial surface cleaner in an older plastic container with lid (one I don't use anymore since it's not BPA free) and add regular salt, lemon juice and vinegar.   Mix equal parts of salt and vinegar and a good dash of lemon juice, and you can use a natural cleaning cloth made for all purpose cleaning.  If you need something on the go, add a half roll of paper towel although it's not as green of a cloth than microfibre or reusable cloths.. I Make sure there is enough lemon juice and vinegar, in fact more than the amount of salt or you will have wipes that leave a salt residue around.  Trust me I know from experience and ended up using my first batch on my outside deck chairs only, due to this issue.  But that aside, if you don't like the smell of vinegar, then lemon juice is your best bet, but keep in mind vinegar's smell does disappear in no time.  Lemon juice and vinegar, both are good for softening hard water deposits and dissolves dirt that is built up.

Vinegar goes a long way everywhere in the home, especially when cleaning your dishwasher.  It should be done once a month to avoid mold and mildew buildup.  Put a cup of vinegar into an empty dishwasher and turn it on for a cycle.  It should smell a lot fresher as well and helps your dishes to come out cleaner.

To wash tubs and also for fresher laundry, I am using a lot of baking soda.  I cannot say all the things I use it for, because I am always grabbing more for something such as in the oven sinks, bathtubs, counters, and even deodorizing fabrics and carpets.  It can be used to clean grout by mixing 3 cups of baking soda to 1 cup of water and mix into a paste.  Use an old toothbrush you kept around and scrub the paste into the grout and then clean off with a wet cloth.  I also use it to help keep my stainless steel Cuisinart pots and pans, clean and maintained.  After all, even though I got it on sale I still want to keep them looking great.  One can also use coarse salt for scouring them clean.



I put tea tree oil in my floor pail with hot water, and sweep my floors and wash the floors with that.  It left a clean smell and no harmful chemical residue and with a little one crawling and dragging her toys on the floor, I felt safer to think it was naturally clean.  I use my vinegar and water mix to do quick cleaning on the counter tops and tables, and also if there is something sticky on the floor and need it wiped up.  And of course vinegar and water is great for cleaning your mirrors and glass, but I had not previously known to add cornstarch specifically for streak free glass cleaning. Combine 1/4 cup of full strength vinegar, then 1 tbsp of cornstarch with one quart of warm water.  Pour into a spray bottle and then if you don't have coffee filters to use, you can use crumbled up newspaper.  I have tried making my own natural furniture polish too.  Mix 1 cup of lemon juice with 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Apply very lightly to your wood furniture and use a soft cloth to buff.  This is a nice way to complete and protect cleaning your expensive wood furniture.  

Some essential oils that are disinfectants and anti fungals are clove, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, thyme and tea tree oil.  I absolutely LOVE eucalyptus essential oil around my home as it cleans well, smells absolutely fresh and lovely, so it is very aroma-therapeutic, as well as it helps to keep the air non-toxic and clean.  It also cures headaches, so there are just many uses for this stuff!  I mix 5 ml of eucalyptus essential oil with a carrier oil and put it in a recycled roller ball perfume bottle, and I had kept that used bottle for a purpose such as that.  Tea tree oil, is also essential around the home.  If you want to make a natural fungicide, mix 2 teaspoons of essential oils with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, and keep mold and mildew away.  Similarly, using some hydrogen peroxide also works well. It prevents and inhibits mildew.  If spray it on the affected area, such as mildewed grout in your shower, and leave it on for 10 minutes, scrub and wipe down apparently the results will sparkle.  You can use it on your feet as a foot fungicide, but let's just hope you don't get any fungus on your feet!

I am just starting to try to learn how to make all kinds of natural cleaning concoctions around my home, but it doesn't end there!  Pick up some more ideas for natural cleaning on Wellness Mama .
Have a great week!




Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Jack Hanna agrees with zoo's shooting of gorilla


Regardless of your stance on who is to blame or how the Cincinnati Zoo should have handled this situation, the fact it's not the first time a child had fell into a zoo's gorilla enclosure is surprising and maybe there could be something corrected in the design, as it's evidently flawed.  I mean yes, children could obey their parents better these days too.  I just feel sad for Harambe the gorilla, for it seems his life was cut short at 17 years old and that's all I have to say on it.