Monday, 9 May 2016

Healthy Snack Ideas for Toddlers

Not long ago Archie started being increasingly active. He's still mainly crawling but he doesn't stop going all day. In turn, he's become extra hungry during the day. I've built up a large list of ideas in terms of snacks for him. I've also tailored a few recipes I've found along the way.

Date Balls

150g of dates.
1 tablespoon of low sugar/salt peanut butter (or any nut butter).
A tiny bit of agave nectar or honey if over 1.
1 tablespoon of chia seeds.
1 tablespoon of linseeds.
A dash of cinnamon.

  • Soak the dates in boiling water for 20 mins and drain. Save the drained water.
  • Put the dates and all the other ingredients into a food processor.
  • Add in a small amount of the date water until you're happy that the mixture can be rolled into balls
  • Roll into balls and keep in a airtight container, they usually last 5 days.

Optional: If you add less date water to the mixture, you'll have a stiffer consistency which can be pressed into a tin and cut into bars. You can also add more water and add half a cup of porridge oats for a change.
Archie absolutely loves these. They're a sweet treat and he only occasionally has them. However they are high in iron and really convenient for on the go.

Spinach, tomato and cheese flapjacks

100g of butter.
250g of oats.
2 large eggs.
250g of mature cheddar.
6 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters.
A handful of spinach leaves.

  • Preheat the oven to 180c and chop the spinach, tomatoes and grate the cheese.
  • Melt the butter in a pot and add all the ingredients. Make sure everything is evenly mixed through. 
  • Flatten the mixture into a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Leave to cool and cut into cubes or bar shapes.

I love these flapjacks as they don't create a huge mess when Archie eats them. This means they're ideal for car journeys.

Here's a few more of Archie’s favourites;

Cheese on crackers
Half a boiled egg
Cheese cubes
Whole grain toast with hummous
Rice pudding
Dried fruit
Quiche cut into cubes
Roast sweet potato sticks
Shredded wheat cereal
Bran cereal
Chicken breast cubes

I've tried and tested these and they're all super easy to pop in a lunchbox and bring on the go. They're cheaper than buying a lot of the snacks out there aimed at toddlers and I presume healthier.
I've only included two recipes. These two are by far the easiest and require little time or effort. Do you have any other snack ideas?

Thanks for reading,

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Comforting Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is a classic dish which I grew up eating. I never thought I’d be able to make one as tasty as my Mum’s. But, my word this recipe make the scrumptious Cottage pie! It’s been jazzed up a bit by adding a kick to the mash with chili!

1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
1 large carrot
450g of round steak mince
1 tbsp of plain flour
400mls of low sodium beef stock
1 tbsp of ketchup
1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of tomato paste
Some pepper to season

Mash potato
1 large sweet potato/ 5 small ones
A large knob of real butter
1 tsp of chili powder
Parmesan to top

  • In a large pan fry off diced onion, garlic, celery and carrots.
  • Add the mince and continue to fry for 10 minutes until it’s cooked off.
  • Now add your tablespoon of flour and cook for a minute or 2 (don’t worry, there won’t be any lumps).
  • Add the beef stock and stir well.
  • Throw in the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
  • Allow it all to simmer for at least 15 minutes. This allows the flavours to develop and the sauce to thicken.
  • As the mince is simmering, go ahead and steam the sweet potatoes. These take about 15 minutes if you chop them into small lumps.
  • Mash with butter, chili and pepper until smooth.

Now simply assemble the pie by chucking the mince into a pyrex dish and layering the mash on top. I grate some cheddar and Parmesan on top (don’t judge me, I really love cheese!).

I usually make this early in the day and come evening time just preheat the oven to 180 degrees and cook until bubbling. This takes less than half an hour. I usually serve with salad or steamed broccoli but it’s plenty on it’s own if you pack in more veggies.

So there you go, a simple scrumptious and quite cheap meal. This is a huge hit in our house. Archie goes crazy for it and it’s a great way to sneak in the hidden veggies! It freezes well and I sometimes save a bite for lunch the following day.

Thanks for reading!

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                                                             Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup

Friday, 19 February 2016

Should I give my baby probiotics?

Recently I had to take antibiotics for a kidney infection. I always take probiotics while taking antibiotics and this time I decided to pick up a bottle for Archie. I’m not fully sure why as I hadn’t heard any benefits before then. I actually had a lot of research to do when I got home from the chemist!

I purchased the Sona BabyBiotic and they cost €19.95. This particular brand contains 1 billion Bifidobacterium.

Why should I give my baby probiotic?
During the first few months of your baby's life gastrointestinal disorders are very common. These include colic, constipation, diarrhea and acid reflux. This can be distressful for baby and parent alike. Probiotics may be beneficial in managing these disorders.

Probiotics may also help reduce eczema flare ups. My baby is sensitive to milk protein so this is especially useful for me. Other benefits include;

Overall, probiotics help build your baby’s immune system and some studies have proven, babies who take probiotics are less likely to pick up a stomach virus/bug.

How does it work
Think of a probiotic as a shield of armor for your little ones immune system. Probiotics help make the digestive tract strong by restoring the natural digestive flora by adding ‘good bacteria’ to it. This stops bad bacteria from entering into the bloodstream. This means it can even reduce the chance of your baby catching the cold or flu!

So what is the evidence to support probiotics for baby’s?
Studies have been carried out on children in Finland and Israel which found evidence to show that children who take probiotics are less likely to catch an illness than those who do not. There is also a great deal of evidence to support probiotics benefits to the digestive tract and prevention against infectious diarrhea. The most researched probiotic is LGG (Lactobacillus GG).

I hate seeing my little guy ill and I’ve decided to continue giving him probiotics. They’re quite pricey but for me the benefits are well worth it and it really is a great immune system booster! Make sure to begin the dosage low and then continue to build it up. I simply add the drops to my baby’s food and he doesn’t notice.

Have you tried probiotics for your cherub? Did they help?

Thanks for reading!


Monday, 15 February 2016

My experience with Fenugreek

As baby A began to enjoy his solid food, my supply began to dip slightly. I knew this was bound to happen but I really wanted the chance to build a freezer supply and I thought, ‘what can I loose, I’ll give fenugreek a shot!’. From what I read online it seemed to work wonders and had very few side effects other than making your pee smell of maple syrups!

Fenugreek is a galactagogue, which means it promotes or increases the flow of a mothers milk. It has been used for centuries, however very few studies have been done on it and the results are mixed. It’s widely available in capsule, tea and seed form. It’s recommend to begin taking 3 capsules, 3 times a day to start off with.

I bought mine from here and they cost €16.10 for 100 capsules. I began taking them straight away as I was eager to see if the results lived up to my expectation! So I popped 3 tablets with a glass of water and thought no more of it (it’s reported results shouldn’t be expected for 24-48 hours).

I woke up the next morning to a shock! Two huge boobs, I needed to feed my son ASAP, it was so uncomfortable! I hadn't been this engorged since baby A was a few weeks old. Not to complain, I loved it really. The more milk the better. I fed baby and then pumped 6oz after. Success!

I continued taking fenugreek at the same pace for the next 5 days. I then began to notice that without fail half an hour after I taking the tablets I would get a splitting headache. This is really strange for me, I generally don’t get headaches. I ignored the headaches the best I could as my milk supply continued to increase and I was building up a great freezer stash at this stage. I didn’t want to stop.

Then I began to get nosebleeds, probably one everyday. This worried me but I was in denial and refused to agree with my partner when he pointed out the cause could be the fenugreek. It was nearing 2 weeks and I felt awful. I was bloated and the headaches were really getting me down. Not to mention that I stank of maple syrup! I started to change my mind and I realised risking my health just wasn't worth it.

I stopped taking fenugreek for 2 days and my doubts were confirmed. I stopped getting headaches immediately, I was less bloated and it took all of 5 days to get rid of that god awful smell! My milk supply kept up for another week or two.

It wasn’t until afterwards I realised I should’ve stopped taking fenugreek immediately when I began to experience side effects such as nose bleeds. I dug a bit deeper and discovered that fenugreek can cause low blood sugar and it’s also know to thin blood. That’s nothing to mess with.

As there are very little studies on fenugreek it is not fully know what harm it may do. In my experience it definitely had a positive effect on my milk supply, however it really wasn’t worth it. My advice is to speak with your doctor and proceed with great caution before taking any medication while breastfeeding, even if it is herbal or natural.

Do you have any experiences with fenugreek? What do you use to increase your supply? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!


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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Parenting Book Haul

I spend most evenings researching and googling anything and everything about parenting. I find it extremely interesting. Last week I had an urge to read from an actual book, so I settled one which I heard great reviews of called how to feed your child well. It’s by Irish authors and seemed like a must have. I may have ended up purchasing a few more as well(whoops, don’t tell my partner!).

  1. How to feed your child well
  2. The calm and happy toddler
  3. Mothers raising sons
  4. Raising boys

Feed your child well by Valarie Kelly,Therese Dunne and Phyllis Farrell. €17.99 at Easons.
This is a guide for parents to explain the major stages of your child's nutrition. It’s factual and informative and the perfect go to manual to dip in and out of. This strangely reminds me of my home economics book from school and I reckon it’s one I’ll keep for life.

The calm and happy toddler by Rebecca Chicot. €19.50 at Easons.
I’ve flicked through this book and it seems easy to read and understand. It’s a mixture of science based facts and stories from real parents with toddlers. It’s the type of book which you can read from start to finish or if you’re experiencing a particular issue it has a go to section to target the problem.

Mothers raising sons by Nigel Latta. €10.99 at Easons.
Do you ever wonder why boys are so noisy? How they have so much energy? This book promises to answer that for you. It’s a psychology based book filled with useful and practical ideas. I’ve read a few pages and it has a supportive tone throughout. This I especially love as it makes it particularly useful for stressed Mamas!

Raising boys by Steve Biddulph. €19.50 at Easons.
This is one of the bestselling and most successful parenting books. It’s divided up into three sections depending on age. I’ve read section one which is appt to me. The author, steve seems to have a great sense of humour which keeps things light hearted. This book is written in a way which makes it extremely easy to understand and i’ve learnt a lot so far. The ideas are quite powerful and revolutionary for the time and I can see how it’s a bestseller!

I’m looking forward to reading all of these books, however some parts won’t be useful to myself for another couple of years! Do you read parenting books? Which would you recommend?

Happy reading guys!



Monday, 8 February 2016

Tips for sleep deprived parents

When Archie was born, everyone would ask me ‘so who is he sleeping?’ or ‘you must be shattered!’ and I honestly didn’t know what they were talking about. Archie slept for most of the day and occasionally would wake up once during the night! I thought this was great and thought it would be like that forever!...Ha, yeah right! Fast forward 8 months and a different story can be told all together!

Whether it be teething or wanting to adventure, Archie seems to be waking up earlier every day! I cope with lack of sleep quite well but my partner doesn’t so it’s been a bit of a change for us.

Here’s my tips for coping with lack of sleep!

  1. find a routine that works and stick to it. Maybe bath, feed, story bed? For the first night or two of the routine, make sure baby is extra tired. This will help baby get the idea of things and it’ll be heaps easier for you.
  2. Take turns with the morning shift. As much as I miss lie ins with my partner, this is the most invaluable tip. On a saturday I wake up early with baby and give himself a rest. The next day it’s my turn!
  3. Get outside. Fresh air is the greatest medicine to get a baby to sleep. To get Archie to nap during the day I bring him for a quick walk in the buggy up the road. The fresh air also helps me to wake up too!
  4. Drink up. It took me so long to figure this one out. You always hear people lark on about how great water is for you. I didn’t want to believe them. Water is boring and I always forget to drink it. However, it’s the number one thing which helps me feel more awake and have more energy.
  5. Coffee...This is probably a bad recommendation and it does more damage than good in the long run, but what the hell! I need my mug of coffee in the morning or the day just is’nt happening.
  6. Learn to breastfeed lying down. This is an invaluable skill. It means I can basically stay semi asleep while feeding Archie during the night. My partner brings Archie back to bed and everyone sleeps better because of it.
  7. Remember, this too shall pass. It won’t be like this forever. least not until you have another one!

Happy sleeping!!


Monday, 1 February 2016

Study reveals lowest breastfeeding rates in Ireland & The UK

An interesting study has determined that low rates of breastfeeding are costing the state 800m a year. This is due to the shocking low number of Mothers who attempt to breastfeed within the first 48 hours and continue for 12 months.

When we nourish an infant we motivate future economic growth and lifelong health benefits. Breastfeeding is known to increase IQ and prevent obesity in later life. Along with the economic link it also increases life expectancy. And that's not even beginning to mention the health benefits to us women (reduced chance of cervical and breast cancer).

The information on breastfeeding is clear and it leaves no doubt in mind that it is a resourceful investment which holds the key to a brighter future for our children.

However, only 55% of Mother have attempted to breastfeed within 48 hours and a shocking 2% continue until the 12 month mark. Younger Mothers are notably less likely to ever attempt it.

Ever breast fed
Any breast feeding at 12mths
Czech Republic

Source: The Lancet

This is an immense contrast compared to our counterparts around the world. Look at Australia and Japan for example.

When we nourish an infant we motivate future economic growth and lifelong health benefits. Breastfeeding is known to increase IQ and prevent obesity in later life. Along with the economic link this increases life expectancy. And that's not even beginning to mention the health benefits to us women (reduced chance of cervical and breast cancer).

But why such low numbers?

All major health authorities around the world say it. Breast is best. However, saying it is indeed easier that doing it. In my country, breastfeeding has been a lost tradition for a long time now. I was formula fed and my Mother was too. Whether this is caused by marketing reporting formula to be more beneficial or the catholic church's message to shame woman's body. Whatever it is, breastfeeding clearly isn’t the norm in my society. I am part of the minority.

We need to commit to expanding breastfeeding and aim to normalise within our country. I believe it will involve supporting women in the following ways:

  • Increase in maternity/ paternity leave
  • Qualified lactation consultants in all hospitals
  • Designated pumping times for working mothers
  • 24 hour lactation hotlines
  • Free nursing equipment (pumps, lanolin cream)

This wont be easy but it's obvious it will be worth it.

Lets get every nation making an effort to protect our children's future and securing the benefits of breastfeeding.