Sunday, January 29, 2012

Raw Chia Seed Pudding

Once upon a time I had no clue what chia seeds were.  A friend had posted a picture along with a pudding recipe a while back that peeked my curiosity.  Then when at my first birth as a doula, my client's husband and sister were preparing some chia seeds in water.  When he saw that I was interested he offered to make me some too.  They were good, but I knew they would taste better as pudding.  

I admit that I didn't think my son would be up for trying the pudding.  Still, I decided to offer it since he likes honey, almond milk and vanilla.  The chia seeds were the only new thing.  Left alone, the seeds are like any other seed.  Add them to liquid though and they take on a new form.  Kind of similar to the texture of tapioca.  This was the part I wasn't so sure of.  This would be my son's first time trying anything of this nature. 

Pudding ingredients: 
4 tablespoon raw chia seed
1 cup milk of your choice (I use almond milk)
1-2 tablespoon raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together. Let it sit in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Near the end I took the pudding out to mix it again.  My son immediately became curious.  So I took a bit from the batch and encouraged him to try it.  First he tried a taste with his finger, and decided that it was good then went for tiny bites from there.  After the spoonful was gone he kept bugging me for more.  :-)

 The finished product:

My son enjoying the pudding:

He ate about half of what is in the picture, which is a huge step in the right direction.  I'm hoping that he'll be open to having more in the future.   

Have you ever tried chia seeds?  What ways do you prepare them?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How I Added Raw Fruits and Veggies to the Mix

Late last year I was at my wits end trying to think of ways to add more raw fruits and veggies to my son's diet.  While his eating had improved, he was still missing out on the healing nutrients and enzymes that a variety of raw veggies and fruits contain.  This was especially important to me since my son became prone to asthma and bronchitis earlier last year.

Around the same time, I was seriously debating cutting juice from his diet.  Setting a clear boundary as far as how much was okay was a struggle, and I suspected it was contributing to him not having an interest in the real stuff.  One night while sharing my conflicted thoughts with some friends it dawned on me that juicing would solve both issues. 

We didn't get a juicer as quickly as I would have liked.  A good one is not cheap, and from my research it's important to get a quality one.  The size of the chute, ease of cleaning and level of noise were common barriers to use mentioned by many reviewers.  Also, I learned that low quality juicers reach temperatures that can destroy nutrients, similar to what happens during cooking.  We wanted to set ourselves up for success so we decided to hold off until we could get the right one for our needs. 

Good thing we did, because we ended up being gifted one for Christmas.  My husband's mother even got us the one we had our hearts set on; a Breville BJE510XL.  When Christmas came it was love at first sight.  Our juicing journey was finally beginning. 


At first the kids weren't interested.  The texture is different than processed juice which I suppose is why they turned their nose up to it at first.  By the second week of water and almond milk my son began requesting that we make him apple juice from the juicer.  Once he was accustomed to that, he asked me to put an orange down the chute.  Then one day he had me add a lemon. 

Taking notice of this pattern, I decided that I would wait for the perfect opportunity to sneak other fruits and veggies in.  I didn't want to destroy his trust, so I decided that I would go with produce of a similar color and start with small amounts.  First I added in fruits like pineapple and strawberries.  Then I got brave and added a carrot.  The progress I was making was wonderful, but I doubted that I would ever be able to add greens in.  Then one day the door opened.  Logan started asking that green apples be added to his juice.  I took this as the green light and added a kale leaf to his juice.  He drank it down without hesitation!  I had found a way in.  Sweet victory!  

Now I use green apples as the base, and add in small amounts of whatever greens I have.  Spinach, swiss chard, kale and collards all work well.  The lemon that he insists on actually works to cut the taste of the greens.  The apple and orange sweeten it up making it an enjoyment to his senses.  I just pay attention not to add too many greens as he is particularly sensitive to the texture.  My husband made a blend last night that got pushed aside because the texture was too thick.  So it's been a bit of trial and error for us.   

Do you juice?  What blends are your favorite? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Almond Butter Banana Smoothie

I've come to learn that often it's the small steps that have the best results in our home.  My son has a much easier time trying something for the first time if it is only slightly different from what he is already used to.   

One such example is the almond butter smoothie I now make for my kids.  It started out as a basic recipe that I learned about through "What's Eating Your Child".  My son can't tolerate milk, and making this each day gave me the peace of mind that he was getting some nutrients. 

The idea to add in other ingredients came after I tried an almond butter smoothie from Whole Foods.  It dawned on me that a number of the ingredients on the order board are a staple in our home.  I even thought of some other items that I keep on hand that would go great in it. 

The basic way I make his protein shake is with:

2 cups of almond milk*
1 scoop of Metagenics Ultracare for Kids 
Contents of a probiotic capsule.  
*Coconut, rice or soy milk can also be used.

To make the smoothie, I put the above ingredients in the blender and add 2 tablespoon of almond butter (peanut butter is fine), two bananas (this blog recommends frozen), ice and a touch of maple syrup.  Blend until smooth.   
Other things I will add if I have on hand:
Sliced almonds
Flax seeds/meal
Chia seeds

*For thinner consistency use less seeds/nuts.  For thicker, use more.

Once done, I top with cinnamon.  Sliced almonds too, if desired.

My kids love this drink.  They ask for it often.  That's the great things about kids.  They encourage healthy routines even when we don't feel like it or forget.  :-)   Which is a good thing since this smoothie has the potential to provide a number of healthy fats and nutrients. 

Here's a shot of them enjoying the finished product. 

Do your kids like smoothies?   What kind do you make?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Overcoming the Frustration and Getting Creative

The solution to picky eating seems simple enough.  Set specific expectations, and follow through with consistency.  At least it seemed simple to me until I had a picky eater sitting at my table. 

In my experience, it has been more than the child not wanting to try something.  With picky eaters, the experience of the food before them is more than they can bear.  Bold colors, strange smells and odd textures all complicate the situation.  There's also a physical aspect to it, as a zinc deficiency can alter the smell and taste of foods.  In addition, prior power struggles color the perspective of the child in the moment.  A child can feel powerless in the daily decisions being made, especially meal time, with food consumption being the one thing they can control. 

Before becoming aware of all this, I had a hard time overcoming my own frustrations concerning my son's picky eating.  The most common thought that would come to mind was, "not again".  I also struggled with pushing down the doubt that my son might never overcome his food aversions.  The fear that fueled these thoughts only exasperated the situation as my son sensed it like a blood hound.  Every time I would reach my limit he would buckle down even harder. 

It wasn't until I came to terms with my own fears and hopelessness with the situation that I was able to get creative.  I believe that creativity has been the harbinger to the successes that have followed.  Creativity is rooted in love, and is hard not to get on board with when done authentically. 

Over the next few posts I will share the creative ideas that have helped to encourage and empower my son to eat better.  They've worked well for me, and hopefully will spark some ideas for others too. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's Eating Your Child?

Given this is the first official entry of this blog, it makes sense that I share what started me down this road of food sensitivities and nutrition.  I had been toying with the idea that dairy might be having an undesirable effect on my son, when a friend recommended the book, "What's Eating Your Child" by Kelly Dorfman.  The author is a seasoned food nutritionist with 30 years of clinical experience.  Further adding to her credentials, she specializes in food allergies and sensitivities. 

The book is a compilation of information and case studies.  First, Dorfman's aim is to educate parents about nutrition and sensitivities.  Then she offers a variety of situations so that parents can pick and choose potential causes as it relates to their unique situations.  

The premise is that the digestive system is the hub of the body.  All other systems require a specific set of nutrients to function properly.  When deficient, each person reacts in their own individual way.  The reason for deficiencies is different for each person too.  Some have food sensitivities, and some are just not getting enough variety in their diet.  The author's aim is to arm the reader with information so that they can figure out exactly which one, or combination of is causing issues in their body.

She also delves into other areas such as sensitivities to pesticides, GMO's and dyes.  She doesn't make too many assertions.  Instead, she shares information and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions about the potential side effects of these modern changes to our food.  

I highly recommend this book to parents who are seeking to learn more about this realm.  If you are frustrated with all the dead ends, and are ready to start down the path of discovering your own individual truths then this is the perfect book to start with. 

Introduction - Why Another Blog?

I'm starting this blog because I feel a strong need to share my experiences as they relate to my son's picky eating.  Since I can remember, my son has limited himself to foods that are white and simple in texture.  Which has translated to lots of processed and whole foods that lack nutrients essential for growth and healing. 

Consequently, earlier this year my son experienced some pretty serious behavioral issues such as aggressiveness and social anxiety.  He also started having more chronic episodes of asthma and bronchitis.   

Through my own research and the help of compassionate doctors, I have pinpointed nutrition and food sensitivities as the underlying reasons for what our son has been experiencing.  We initially cut gluten, then additional processed foods and now are on the path of adding more whole, healing foods to his diet.

There have been many ups and downs, and I feel that the insights I have learned along the way through trial and error might come in handy to other families struggling with this vicious cycle that can lead to a whole host of physical and emotional challenges.  I also welcome readers to share insights via commenting. 

If you can relate to any of that then follow me as I share what has worked for us, as well as what we learn as we go forward.