Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kids & Pasta

Yes kids are messy, but so is pasta. Combining these two wonderful things may actually make your life far easier. Who cares if the pasta is cooked Al Dente, the kids certainly don’t and unless you forget to prepare water with your pasta, follow the tips below and you can’t possibly fail.

Foolproof tips for working with Pasta and Kids:

Tip #1: The slimier the better, kids love slimy things that they can squeeze in your hands, Pasta like Ditalini, kids find hilarious with their short tube nature. Make a little warm tomato dip on the side for dipping fun.
Ditalini Tomato Dip:
200g of Canned Italian tomatoes (or mashed fresh herbed tomatoes)
2 tablespoons of Brown sugar
2 teaspoons of Worcester sauce
¼ cup of finely chopped red onions
¼ cup of finely chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Heat butter and oil in a pan, add garlic, red onions and celery and fry for a couple of minutes, add brown sugar, and once dissolved add the remaining ingredients, simmer for up to 10 minutes and its all done.

Tip #2: Ravioli is by far my favourite to cook for the kids. 3 pieces of this with the right filling is the most nutrition the kids will get for the week.
Variations for filling include:
Pureed vegetables with lentils
Cheese and lean mince with tomato sauce
Chicken and asparagus

As long as it is able to fit in the ravioli, it works so let your imagination run wild.

After the ravioli is cooked you can make little tomato sauce faces on them or if the kids are old enough, let them go for it.

Tip #3:  
Fusilli bucati is the coolest pasta around. Of course you can use any springy, coiled pasta but this is my personal favourite. Make a wee pesto with crushed cashews and parmesan and they will be entertained for hours.

The last tip is a quick reminder that might save you a carpet cleaner, ALWAYS put a mat down when working with pasta. Failing any of these tips, just remember kids love entertaining food, grab out some food colouring and make it exciting. Make sure you remember to enjoy it after all that, just don’t expect the pasta to be Al Dente!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Postnatal: Don't worry, Be Happy

“Welcome to Motherhood” They said only a few days, sometimes hours before they push you out the door of the hospital. No manual, no 24 hour support, yet somehow you wake up after 6 months from the first ‘through the night sleep since baby’s birth’ and realise that you did it! You took on motherhood and won (even though you certainly don’t feel particularly victorious). Sure you worried about them constantly through the first months of their life but you were far too tired to let it form into any ideas.

If you find yourself starting to get more and more anxious everyday they grow, have a quick look at your diet before heading for any medication from the doctor. Of course if it is serious, by all means, don’t hesitate in seeking help but if you just feel generally worried and anxious about your baby’s wellbeing or motherhood in general, spend a few days working out the kinks in your diet by taking some of these tips into account.

Tip #1- The “No No Foods”: fried foods, unrefined sugars, and alcoholic beverages. I know it’s all the fun stuff and I am not saying to drop them all together but when some worry in the pit of your stomach starts to appear don’t overload on the KFC or McDonalds that sounds crazily appetizing.

Tip #2- I could simply tell you to eat more wholegrain foods but the first thing you might do is pop to the store and pick the most highly commercialised ‘Wholegrain’ bread. Instead of chucking it in because the label says it “wholegrain”, ignore the screaming child in the trolley, and quickly turn over for the ingredients- scan for more than 20% Wholegrain content guaranteeing that not all of the health benefits have been taken from the bread in the production process. Wholegrain food is scientifically proven to provide chemicals that become a calming neurotransmitter aka “your anxiety levels will decrease.”

Tip #3- Sushi!!! That’s right when you are feeling taken over by worry, head out to your favourite sushi bar and get some seaweed into you. If your magnesium levels are low, this can cause increased anxiety levels, seaweed will get that magnesium content right back to the level it needs to be. Who doesn’t love treating themselves to some Teriyaki chicken. Yum!!!

Tip #4- Drink!!! No this isn’t where alcohol makes a reappearance, however Water is the key. In fact dehydration is the main cause of stress or worry in 25% of cases so carry a bottle with you on those days that you just can’t handle that worry or those busy days where your diet habits may be lacking.

Tip #5- Reward yourself- I didn’t want to mention this any earlier but chocolate without the added sugars and milk reduces the stress hormone in the body. Just remember the darker the better.

Being a mother is the most terrifying job in the world but just remember that even though your baby might cause you so much worry, exclude the anxiety and you will realise how rewarding each day is with them. You are doing a fantastic job!

Postnatal body - Dieting

So pregnancy was a blast for everyone involved and suddenly you have a newborn appear in your arms. There are so many decisions to make, a little person attached to you 24/7 and not to mention the financial burden of only having one income for the oncoming months. Eating healthy or even feeling slightly good about yourself hasn’t even made it on to your priority list yet. Making little changes in the now will make you feel better in the long run and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. 

There are three stages to having a baby in my books:

Stage 1- PREGNANCY: The constant weight gain you become accustomed to which is “all baby” when you secretly know what foods you may have added to the menu. Cravings or not, pregnancy is always going to make you heavier, sluggish, and generally feel bleh.

Stage 2- NEWBORN: (For the purposes of my stage breakdown we are going to call this 0-6months) Whether breastfeeding or not, sleep seems like a dream, you eat chocolate by the block, find the nearest empty drive thru for lunch and eat irregularly (if at all). No energy and lack of motivation means you could be sitting in this lull for quite sometime missing the most “precious” baby moments of your wee bubs life.

Stage 3- POSTNATAL DELIGHT: (6months+) You just looked in the mirror for the first time since baby was born. This is the Aftermath, the 15 months of hell you just put your body through. Saggy, iron deficient, sticking out in places that make every outfit you put on look frumpy and you just resign yourself to the fact that this is the new you for the rest of your life.

There were so many times I wanted to change everything but sourcing information that was quick, easy, healthy AND affordable was like looking for a needle in a haystack of commercialisation. I wanted to help other mums so I set about collecting some experiences and tips suitable for the everyday mum with no time on her hands.

Tip #1: For an energy boost instead of reaching for multiple blocks of chocolate try a wholegrain cracker with low fat cheese, this has the best combination of carbs and protein to sustain energy for longer without packing on the pounds or heading for a sugar rush.

Tip #2: Always eat Breakfast- If you miss breakfast and you’re looking at your clock, eat a decent brunch. Just get a substantial high-carb, high-fiber breakfast/brunch meal in and your body will thank you for it.

Tip #3: Appetite fillers- Everyone knows that specific nuts can help you feel fuller for longer, but who actually grabs the right ones from the supermarket. If you can be bothered with nuts, which also carry other health benefits, then by all means add some pinenuts, almonds etc into your diet. Personally I find them ridiculously expensive and unnecessary when you can reap the same health benefits from foods already in your cupboard. Studies show that eggs alone can help you control your appetite for up to 36 hours, leafy greens help (start up that vege garden you have always meant to get round to) and who doesn’t love a Granny smith every now and then, chomp down an apple to get all the nutritional benefits of those awesome fruits.

Tip #4: Don’t take these tips as gospel, if you manage to get out of bed, wash that bottle, and open your eyes long enough to feed your baby, you are doing a fantastic job!

Check out our next post for tips on changing your diet to reduce anxiety.....