Friday, December 23, 2011

Living in a Sugar Driven World Especially During the Holidays

We all like to indulge once in awhile - right? Maybe a little piece of chocolate, a cookie, and heck it's the holiday season so maybe all the above, everyday! In my house we don't keep many sweets "in stock", but we have been frequenting my mother's house since we've moved back to the Midwest. To clearly paint an accurate picture of her food selection it's like visiting a mini-carnival. Treats, cupcakes, twinkies, chips, cheetos, sugary cereals,  - a sugar haven for my husband who unfortunately is stricken by grief that I refused to make sugar cookies for the holidays. Hey, my daughter still has no idea what sugar or candy is and I am going to keep it that way as long as I can.

So how do you keep your child from the sugar madness at holiday parties and gatherings? For me, I carry raisins at all times. Apples with peanut is also a great runner up and let's not forget grapes. They are sweet, shaped like round candies (like peanut m&m's) that maybe everyone else might be eating. Trickery? Why yes, for now at least.

So let's hear from you -  what do you give your kids instead of the sugary treats during the holidays?

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Aresenic Juice, I mean Apple Juice.

Have you heard about the controversy with apple juice? I was sitting back, relaxing, putting my feet up today - just kidding I am a mother of a 17 month old and no longer know the meaning of relaxation. The truth is I squeezed in a few minutes of reading while my daughter was running around torturing the dog, but she was safe; promise.  In those few minutes I read an article in Health Magazine titled "Is Apple Juice Dangerous or Not?". My instant reaction was "shut the front door, another study resulting in more issues in our food - urg!". Plus I am a mom who gives her child apple juice frequently so my mom antenna automatically went to alert status red: danger!

To paraphrase the article, Dr. Oz did an independent analyze of 36 samples of five store-bought apple juice brands and released the results in September of this year. Roughly 27% of the the samples came back with higher concentration levels of arsenic than allowed in drinking water. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) is fighting back and saying Dr Oz's accusations are "irresponsible" and the apple juice companies are also refuting the allegations. Now the real question is - is Dr Oz's study putting a magnifying glass on an over looked issue that that FDA and juice companies are trying to sweep under the rug?

Something else that is interesting - if you didn't already know - arsenic occurs naturally in soil and frequently shows up in our food and water. The FDA regulates arsenic levels here in the U.S, but the article reported that the majority of American apple juice are made from apples from other countries such as China, who may very well still use arsenic in their pesticides. There already has been quite a bit of controversy over the last year about lax FDA regulations on foreign produce and this might just be another case of that. The jury is still out.

It is also unsure what arsenic in our food and water does to our bodies over time, even if ingested in small doses. To me, arsenic is a dangerous chemical and there is no way I would pick up a bottle and take a sip, let alone willing allow my kids to ingest it. So what can you do to ensure your children are getting safe products? Start with buying organic apple juice made from apples raised in United States. Dr Oz also recommends that, in case you are a Dr. Oz fan. Plus if you are an avid reader of my blog, you would know that apples are on the dirty dozen list so try and make it a point to buy organic apple everything - sauce, fruit, juice, etc. No pesticides (or at least less) means more natural.

To add more fuel to the fire I found another article written in March 2010 on FoodSafetyNews.com stating the very same problem and they call out the companies in question. Take a look if you have time.

Well, like I said, the jury is still out on this subject, but I am going to bet we haven't heard the last of this. What do you have to say about all this?

Recommendations:
I posted this blog yesterday and didn't give any recommendations on good apple juices - sorry about that. I have a couple, one for sure and the other one I am still investigating.

Martinelli Organic Apple Juice - this is a fabulous product; tastes great! We just started drinking this brand in the last couple of months. It's both organic and made from US grown apples - Jackpot! The best part it's sold at major grocery chains. Click on the link and select store locater and find it near you.

Santa Cruz Organic Apple Juice - My husband and I drank this for years and Ellery had been drinking a watered down version for a few months prior to our switch to Martinelli's. It is produced in California and is organic, but the origin of the apples are in question. When I spoke to the company, they told me they sourced apples in the United States and "other countries". I am still waiting to hear back from their corporate office. I will make sure to update you all. It is a great product that tastes great, but I am not sure where the apples come from. To be continued...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter Cold Remedy

Well here we go, the winter months. For some of you it might already be in the thick of cold weather and others of you are sitting pretty in 70+ degree weather all winter long. Regardless of your geographic location, the winter flu and colds make their way around the country. For my family we have a simple yet highly effective way to reduce the length of a cold and make sure a cold remains just a cold. Last year we were faced with an infant in daycare and without fail a cold turned into an ear infection. Then without fail, I got sick too. Double whammy! Well after 4 months of ear infections, I finally figured it out and the remedy really works! Colds stayed colds and we moved through them easier. VICTORIOUS!

Step One: Foot Hydrotherapy
This step is critical in healing faster and relieving respirtory congestion. Foot Hydrotherapy is a simpler treatment from constitutional hydrotherapy that optimizes circulation in the body, detoxifies and purfies the blood, and stimulates and enhances the immune system. There are different methods of Hydrotherapy, but this is by far the easiest for kids.

1. Soak your child's feet in warm water for 5 minutes (if child is young and especially under 12 months, skip this step)
2. Soak a pair of cotton socks in cold water, ring out water, and place on your child's feet. Cover the wet socks with dry wool socks or dry cotton socks if you don't have wool. Leave the cold wet socks on for 20-30 minutes. Turn on the TV or read them books to get them to sit down for 20 minutes.


Step Two:  Vitamin C, Echinacea & Elderberry
Hands down this is my favorite product, Sambu's Guard for Kids for my sick little one. This combination liquid vitamin consists of C, Echinacea and Elderberry. Vitamin C supports the body against daily stresses, while Echinacea is known to boost your overall immune system, and Elderberry extract helps support respiratory function and lungs - all of which your body needs while fighting off a cold or enduring the winter months. When my child shows symptoms of a cold I start using this immediately. I now carry a couple of bottles in the house at all times since I can't run down the store and pick it up any longer. Make sure your child is over 12months old before administering this supplement or consult your pediatrician.

Step Three: Clean out that nose!
Alright some kids won't let you use the little noses spray because they are kicking, screaming, and floundering around like a fish out of water. So in that case, turn the shower on in the bathroom, let it get really steaming and then go play a game in the bathroom with your child. That will move the mucus, but make sure you child does NOT have a temperature. Never steam a child who has temperature!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A daily mineral everyone in the family needs: Magnesium!

Alright, I have read about the benefits of omega's, vitamin D, vitamin C, but Magnesium, really? About a month ago, I received an email from Dr. Dale, founder & dean of the California College of Natural Medicine, about magnesium deficiency. I don't typically read every newsletter email I get,  but I was intrigued to learn more about magnesium since I didn't know much about it. While reading the article I noticed I had several of the symptoms for magnesium deficiency. That didn't surprise me because my eating habits have been sub par for the past couple of months since we started our process of moving across the country; though Ellery still eats extremely healthy.  Why can't I just eat what I serve my child? I guess that is another story another time.

If you don't know much about Magnesium, like I didn't, what I am about to layout for you might just blow your mind;at least it did for me. As I read more and more about the benefits and importance of Magnesium I was shocked I haven't been educated on it before! 

Why Magnesium? (In General)
The National Institutes of Health says, “Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis." That's a lot of functions and that's just a part of the list!

Here is the real kicker about magnesium - if you don't have enough magnesium in your body and you are taking other supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, etc., your body isn't getting the full value of those vitamins without having the correct amount of magnesium in your body. Think of it this way, magnesium is the foundation of your house of vitamins and minerals; without the correct foundation you can't build a strong stable house, no matter much you try.

Who needs it?
EVERYONE! Magnesium is a mineral your body needs for optimal health. And, unfortunately, the majority of Americans aren't coming close to their needed daily intake. The reason being: processed foods. As parents we know know life gets busy and it's easier to pop in a TV dinner or go through the drive through than take the time to cook a hearty meal full of protein, grains and veggies; which means we are getting the correct minerals and vitamins needed to maintain healthy - including the much needed magnesium. So much so, the National Institute of health reports that 60% of Americans are magnesium deficient and other experts report up to 80%.

Why you need it?
The Benefits of Magnesium for Children
  • Reduces hyperactivity (even those with symptoms of ADHD)
  • Aides with temper tantrums (terrible twos helper)
  • Helps children with Asthma (reduce swelling of airways)
  • Reduces stress/anxiety/depression

The best solution is to feed your children a well balanced diet of whole grains, greens, and fiber. Junk food depletes the body's magnesium storage. You can also add a multivitamin to your child's daily routine to support their balanced diet. Try Natural Vitality Kids Calm Multivitamin; it's all organic and is gives your body an extra punch of magnesium.

The Benefits of Magnesium for Parents (Us):
  • Reduces Stress & Anxiety (no parent ever get stressed, lol!)
  • Prevents osteoporosis/ bone loss
  • Prevents Heart Disease
  • Regulates high blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Treats migraines, insomnia, and depression
  • Aides in preventing diabetes (along with balanced diet)
  • Reduces PMS/Hormone Imbalance
  • Relieves chronic body pains/Fibramalgia
  • Increases bioavailability of calcium
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Helps make proteins
  • Encourages proper elimination

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency (Adults & Older Children): 

  • Body aches
  • Leg cramps
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Restless sleep
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle twitches
  • Chronic constipation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Severe PMS

How to Increase your Magnesium Intake
Remember changing your diet is always the better option than taking a supplement and talk to your doctor before making radical changes to your diet. But to get you started here are some magnesium rich foods to incorporate in your daily diet and recommended supplements:


Magnesium Rich Foods
  • Kelp
  • Green vegetables (like broccoli)
  • Whole-grain wheat, rice, oats, and ry
  • Almonds
  • Banana
  • Artichoke
  • Cashews
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Molasses
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Buckwheat
  • Peanuts
  • Beans, white, navy & black
  • Pecans
  • Tofu

Supplements
To learn more please vist:
http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org

Eat healthy & Be well!!



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazing Contest - Win $245 Worth of Baby Products, IPad and More!

My Blog is apart of the 25 days of GiveAWayz hosted by Coupon Cabin. Here is the deal, just click on the link above [CouponCabin’s 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveawayz | Win $245 of Organic/Natural Baby Products, Enter Below! ] and be directed to my designated page and learn how you can enter to win the grand prizes by Coupon Cabin, then scroll down and see how you win  $245 worth of Organic/Natural Products for your Baby from Raising Kids Healthy, sponsored by Organically Cute.com and Julabug.com. Prizes include: $150 Gift Card to Julabug, Four Organic Bibs from Organically Cute & Baby Care Products (Shampoo, Lotion & Bubble Bath) by Dolphin Organics.This is a great gift for a friend or for your baby! Entering my contest is super easy.

 
And get this, at the bottom of the page, there are links to 95 other blogs who are running contests in addition to Coupon Cabin. Click on their sites and see what they are giving away and enter to win on their sites as well. You have a lot of chances to win some great stuff right before the holidays!
Good luck Everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Easy Solution for Babies Who Won't Drink Milk From a Cup!

My daughter was bottle-free at 14 months old, but with that came a child who would no longer drink milk because it wasn't in her beloved milk shrine. She was a terrific milk drinker from her bottle, but as soon as I got rid of it all bets were off. She absolutely refused to drink milk from a cup; no matter how much I tried she just wouldn't do it. My only saving grace was she would drink anything else from a cup. So I just needed to find away to make her milk different enough that she would think it was something other than milk. That's when the light bulb went off - strawberries, her favorite fruit!! Take a little milk, add a little fruit and "Viola" a little fruit paradise in a cup. 

As a side note, after I had my epiphany with the strawberries, I tried buying the Horizon flavored milk and tested it out myself before giving it to Ellery. It was so sugary that I decided I was going to need to make this myself, and it's super easy. All you need is organic milk, organic strawberries (or your child's favorite fruit), and a blender:

1 c. Strawberries
1/2 c. Milk
Blend and serve

The goal is to use less and less strawberries over time. For my daughter it took two months before she would drink regular white milk at dinner from a cup without any strawberries.

Good luck, it does work!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Understanding Organic Food Labels

I was walking around the local grocery store picking up some odds and ends and I stopped at the applesauce - one of Ellery's favorites. I got looking at the organic applesauce verse the natural applesauce, primarily because the natural one was on sale. But I immediately start thinking "buy the organic - apples are on the dirty dozen list", but at the same time I am thinking, "seriously what is the difference between made with organic, organic, natural, etc." All of these labels have marketing written all over it. And trust me, I spent 10 years marketing, so I get it. Well, I did a little digging around and found out some interesting information on this topic. Here is the short of the long of it.

Organic
"Organic" - Products must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients and will carry the USDA seal on the package "Made With Organic Ingredients" - Products consist of at least 70% organic ingredients and must follow the USDA production standards. The USDA label can not be used on the packaging.

"Some Organic" - Any products that have 70% or less organic products, can not use the word organic in their packing, but they can call out the organic ingredients used on the ingredient list

Natural
To me this is hands down the most confusing. Packages that state "Natural", "100% Natural, and "All Natural Ingredients" is actually misleading because it isn't unregulated by the USDA unless it is meat or poultry according to the Food Marketing Institute.

The term "Natural" applies broadly to foods that are minimally processed and free of synthetic preservatives; artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and other artificial additives; hydrogenated oils; stabilizers; and emulsifiers. Most food labeled natural are not subject to government controls beyond the regulations and heath codes that apply to all foods. So the term natural is loosely used.

Even though the USDA regulates the term "natural" with meat that only means the meat doesn't contain artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed - it has nothing to do with how the animal was raised. Minimally processed means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed"). Animals can be given hormones and antibiotics, except poultry - FDA regulates that one, and still claim "Natural" on the label. So if you can't find organic meats, look for labels that say "raised without the use of hormones and antibiotics"

All in all, "Natural" really doesn't mean much more than the product doesn't have added preservatives and isn't regulated. If you want to know for sure you are buying natural food, stick with products that have the USDA seal of approval on it - or look very closely at the ingredient label!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Babies That Read - Hype or Hoopla?

Have you heard of the program "Your Baby Can Read"? One of my best friends told me about this when my daughter was two months old. I thought, sure why not, I will give the program a whirl. I watched the infomercials and YouTube videos of babies reading and remember thinking "really?". So, I bought the program and started Ellery on it when she was three months old.  She watched one video for about a month, two times a day, with a total of five videos in seven months. At ten months old, she could recognize the words and point to the correct word.

video
The videos taught her basic words like: Hi - Car - Animals - Pets, and classic children's songs like the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Row Row Row Your Boat. Then before Ellery went to bed, we  read her favorite children's books (and still do) along and one of her program's book which reviewed the words from the video. If anything she seemed to really like it, but can you call this reading?

The Today show did an investigative report on this in November 2010 and the top University's all agree this isn't reading, but rather memorization. You are shown the same words over and over again and before you know they are recognizing the words and even "reading" them. This is exactly what my daughter did and by twelve to thirteen months when her vocabulary really kicked in she was actually "reading" the words to us.
video

I do have to agree with the Universities. This is memorization rather than reading because there is no phonics involved. But, I do think the program helped Ellery accelerate her learning and understanding of concepts faster.  I can't prove that since this might just be who she is, with or without  my help or any program. But, I do know she can tell you almost every part of the body (taught to her by the program), count up to ten (that's me), and talk mini sentences "Come On", "Down Please" "Just a minute" (my short phrases around the house)- by 14 months.

Only time will tell if this program will prove to be a valuable reading foundation for the future until then we continue to read her favorite children's books everyday because she loves them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"The" Reference Book To Help Parents Raise Naturally Healthy Kids - A Must Buy!!

How many of you have had a sick baby? Or better yet a sick baby along with sick older siblings and you too? Not much fun, I know! Now, I can't tell you how raise your kids in a germ-free bubble, but I can share with you an amazing resource I found that teaches you how to keep kids healthy before they get sick and what to do naturally if your child does get sick. This is especially important now that school is back in session and our little ones are back to sharing germs!!

So about six months ago, I stumbled upon a book that changed the way I cared for Ellery when she got sick. Now mind you, she is only 14 months old and I have always been reluctant to use homeopathic remedies on her because I wasn't sure what her reaction would be, so I trusted my MD. And, as much as I love my MD, he eventually just gave her antibiotics, after antibiotics and I needed that to change. I am not an MD by any stretch but from what I have read and researched your body can create an immunity to antibiotics if taken regularly and your body suppresses the illness making you more susceptible to get sick again. That is what happened to us, for five months straight. Every month around the same time Ellery got a cold and without fail it turned into an ear infection - like clockwork, amazing!

But that all changed after I bought the book Your Vital Child, A Natural Healing Guide for Caring Parents by Mark and Angela Stengler. After I bought it, Ellery had two more colds. I used some the recommended remedies and both colds remained a cold with NO ear infections. VICTORIOUS!! So if you ask me this is a must buy for any parent and you can snag one at Amazon.com for $2.50 - used of course. I can't help that Ellery picks up germs but I can sure help her body heal when she does. 

Disclaimer: Always consult your homeopathic practitioner or MD before giving your child herbs or medications.