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So it seems that people either love rhubarb or actively despise it. I’m one of the rhubarb lovers and have been happily stewing rhubarb for the past few days. I’m the only one in my household who likes it, so, all the more for me! Here’s how I make it:

Go in the backyard with a knife and hack off 3 stalks from our plant lovingly named “Ruby”. My kids make me apologise each time I cut her up. Jeepers. You can also buy stalks of rhubarb at the grocery store or farmers’ market.

Wash off the stalks then chop them up in 1/2 inch slices.

Throw them into a saucepan and pour a small amount of water into the pot. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t burn. Not enough to cover the rhubarb.

Turn the stove top onto minimum heat and cover the chopped rhubarb.

Get distracted by the millions of things.

Recall that I’m cooking rhubarb when it starts to smell delicious. I think a better way to do this would be to time it. So let’s say after 20 min, check on the rhubarb and give it a stir.

Add honey. You can add 1 tsp if you like it tart or 1 Tbsp if you like it sweeter.

When is it done? When you stir the rhubarb and it all falls apart into a stringy sweet gooey mess, it’s done.

You can add it to granola, toast, ice cream, whatever you like. Or eat it out of the pot.

Rhubarb is very high in fibre and high in vitamin K and contains vitamin C.

Enjoy!img_1382.jpeg

 

 

 

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Here is the link to the Environmental Working Group’s guide on sunscreens for kids:

https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/best-kids-sunscreens/

Hope it helps!

Kim

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Here is the link to the Environmental Working Group’s list of moisturizers with sunscreen – the good and not good.  As a sunscreen hater, I’m doing my best to cover up with non-rashy, non icky sunscreens myself.  I’m finding the one by the Body Shop easiest to find and not too icky.  Good luck to you!

Moisurizer with Sunscreen

And here is the link to list of sunscreens which aren’t bad according to their criteria.  I’m still using Badger for me kids and while it’s pretty icky, they’re both tolerating it.  Phew!

Sunscreens

Hope you’re enjoying the summer!

Kim

 

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I’m a big believer that kids want to do what feels good for their bodies but, let’s face it, sometimes things taste bad or feel icky.  Here are excerpts from an email from a mom who read my previous blog post, “Natural Remedies for Acute Cough”, and the game she and her boys played to fight those viruses!

Here’s the email:

Thanks for the call yesterday. I’ll let you know as soon as we get in to see the MD. In the meantime, this should make you smile.

Picture the kids and I sitting with mugs of tea in hand.
“This is a new tea that will help to kick the last of your coughs out of your chest.” says I bravely, knowing that the crushed garlic and honey water will most likely be rejected.
The 5 year old willingly takes the first sip… “ooooh it’s spicy!” he says wrinkling his nose

The 7 year old looks at his cup suspiciously…

I frantically cast my mind about, searching for strategies… and then I remember the beginning of your blog post!

“We’re going to play a game – the ‘Take That’ game!” I say triumphantly.

Now everyone is listening…

“Think of something in you body that is bugging you and/or makes you feel unhealthly and take a big sip of tea and yell ‘TAKE THAT'”

Needless to say they were hooked immediately (the yelling was an important component of the game) and the garlic tea disappeared in mere seconds.  Long after the tea was gone they continued gleefully verbally abusing their coughs, itchy bums, runny noses, etc.

Thank you!

So, here’s to a rousing game of “TAKE THAT!” for all of you.  No more colds, flus, viruses, bacteria, worms, lice, whatever!

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1.  EAT VEGETABLES.

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it?  Before I was a mom, I thought my kids would eat 10+ servings of organic fruits and veggies every day.  I was sure they’d grow up thinking kale was wonderful and broccoli delightful.  Well, of course, I was wrong.

I do find that they consume more veggies using these tricks:

  • cutting veggies into fun shapes eg. carrot circles for eyes, red pepper slices for eye brows spinach for hair, beets for ears
  • playing “who can make the loudest crunch”
  • adding dips (hummus, balsamic vinegar and olive oil)
  • making smoothies with veggies or greens powder
  • blending veggies in soups
  • making vegetable based baked goods like pumpkin bread and zucchini cookies

And, while processed “kid food” cuts out vegetables all together, most children will eat a few veggies if they know the veggies help kill germs that cause colds and coughs.  It’s a treat when a child comes for a follow up visit bursting to tell me that they’ve been eating green beans or swiss chard!

2.  AVOID PROCESSED SUGAR.

Sugar slows down the white blood cells responsible for attacking bacteria.  Once again, I find that kids make great choices when they understand the reasoning.  If you eat sugar, you’re more likely to get sick.  And stay sick longer.  Keeping sweets as treats for once in while helps the body stay strong to fight infections.  You can read labels with your children to check if there is added sugar.  For example, I never remember which tomato sauce is free from added sugar.  The kids love reminding me.

Click here for a link to video of a white blood cell engulfing some bacteria.  The bacteria are the little dark ovals in clusters.  The white blood cell overtakes them in a process called phagocytosis.  My kids love to cheer for the white blood cell.  And we talk about what foods will make it strong and fast.  We boo for which foods will slow it down.

3.  EAT HONEY.
Honey contains antimicrobial properties that help the body fight infections.  It has been shown to be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical cough syrup and topical antimicrobial for burns.  It soothes sore throats and helps prevent viral and bacterial infections from taking hold.  Local honey is best and the less processed, the better.  Babies under the age of 1 year should not consume honey.

4.  SLEEP.
Again, I was certain, pre-children, that mine would go to bed early, sleep peacefully, and generally regulate themselves with rest.  Hilarious.  Home from after school care / daycare, dinner, homework, reading, bathing, lice prevention combing, after school playdates and activities – it’s next to impossible to fit it all in.  As parents, we need to be mindful that children need loads of sleep.  Not only to recharge their bodies to fight infections, but also to dream away stresses of the day, to process new skills, and to recalibrate all kinds of systems of the body.  If any of these jobs are not completed, the child becomes more susceptible to colds and flus.  I enjoyed this recent article from the Globe and Mail about back to school sleep routines.  I, myself, must remember that bedtime is non-negotiable.  And earlier is better.  (Grown-ups take note for yourselves as well!)

5.  SUPPORT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS.
There are so many helpful herbs and supportive supplements to help the body fight colds and flus quickly and efficiently.  Some herbs you can add to foods include: garlic, tumeric, cumin, oregano, basil, onion.  Deeply therapeutic herbs to support the immune system include: Astragalas, Codonopsis, Eleuthrococcus, Elderberry, Yarrow, Mullein.  These are wonderful for children but best taken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner (ie – naturopathic doctor or herbalist).  Some supplements that help children’s immunity include: fish oils, vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc.  Again, best to check with a practitioner for dosages and strengths.

Here’s to a healthy fall season for your children!  (And you too!)

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A recent study looked at the relationship between SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and weight gain, waist circumference, BMI, blood sugar, cholesterol levels.  Each SSRI affected these markers for health with Paxil increasing each of them after only 16 weeks.

These medications increase the serotonin available to the brain and body by interrupting the mechanism that breaks down this neurotransmitter.  Now, we know that serotonin plays a part in mood, inhibition, satiation, as well as in digestion and sleep.  It also affects how sugar is metabolized or modified in the body.

Metabolic syndrome is a diagnosis used to describe the following symptoms which increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

  • central obesity (weight gain in the abdominal area)
  • dyslipidemia (messed up triglycerides and cholesterol)
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased fasting blood glucose

So, this study raises lots of questions about the relationship between SSRI’s and cardiovascular and diabetes risks.

One of the reasons I think naturopathic medicine is so important is that it can work to moderate the side effects of medications without messing up the therapeutic effects of that medication.  Sometimes pharmaceuticals are necessary and important and naturopathic therapies can mediate the ill effects.  Sometimes there may be effective alternatives to the pharmaceuticals so the patient may bypass the ill effects entirely.

In the case of SSRI’s, weight gain, increased BMI, high triglycerides and cholesterol there are many naturopathic changes that will help.  Nutritional supplements, diet changes, herbal remedies, acupuncture – all are effective in treating these worrisome changes in the body caused by SSRI’s.

And, of course, there are safe and effective naturopathic remedies to treat depression and anxiety.

Thinking further about this study, I’ve noticed in my practice that children who take SSRI’s gain weight around their middle, crave sweets and simple carbs, and usually decrease their exercise.  All indicators that the metabolism is not functioning optimally and that their blood sugar may be going awry.  There don’t seem to be studies about metabolic changes with SSRI’s in children, but, well, I’m thinking about it.

Here is the link to the study, if you’re interested in having a better look.  And please do comment if you’re interested in a discussion.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23798963

Here’s to healthy mental, emotional, and physical health!

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The Environmental Working Group has come out with it’s recommendations.  Click here to check their evaluated list of sunscreens.

Also check this link to read about a few more don’ts for sunscreen.

Each year my older, very fair skinned and super sensitive daughter and I do a variety of patch tests on each of our forearms and check the results.  This year, Badger did not give her a rash (me? – big rash) and ranked highly on the EWG’s list.  Sounds great, right?

Well, since she is super sensitive, she hates the feel of the sunscreen on her skin.  She hates the scent (unscented) and she hates the lumps.  I must say, I can’t really blame her.  I also eschew sunscreen and, full disclosure, avoid it as often as I can.

I wrote a couple of years ago about things I’ve tried to get the sunscreen onto her skin with no screaming (herself and myself) and in a decent amount of time.  (You can read that post by scrolling down.) Well, a few of them work now that she’s 7.  We have reason and understanding consequences on our side now.  Still, though, while the other kid slathers on any old sunscreen without rash or squirm, the elder kid, has a hard time indeed.

So, dear readers, if you have any suggestions at all, please do leave a comment.

Here’s to a safe and skin-happy summer!

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Spring is finally upon us and with it comes the sneezing, sniffling, itching, burning, wheezing, and irritibility of allergies.  It is not too late to nip these symptoms in the bud with a family cleanse.  If you and your family do a cleanse now, you can lower the inflammation in your body and help your immune system calm down to decrease the allergic response.

I’ve written, before, about my older daughter who is now 7.  This week she’s had eczema pop up on the inside of her elbows and she’s been sneezing and rubbing her nose and scratching her entire body.  Poor kid.  The other day she said to me with exacerbation, “Mom, when are we doing our family cleanse?!”  And I had to admit that with birthday parties and life’s general craziness, I hadn’t gotten around to it.  Sigh. Another parenting fail.

However, this week is the week we’ll start.  Ours is pretty straightforward – no wheat, no dairy (except butter), no sugar, no corn products, and no junk food.  For the grown ups – no alcohol or caffeine.  I give a homeopathic cleansing combo to the kids and my husband and I take a stronger herbal combo.  This year I might throw in some natural anti-histamines since both my daughter and I have started our symptoms.

The idea is to give the body a break from foods that may increase inflammation and trigger the histamine response.  My daughter and I can generally get away with a little wheat and sugar here and there if we’re guests for dinner or at a party but during allergy season, nope.

The theory is that the inflammatory response in the body has a threshold where, when reached, it goes whole hog and creates symptoms to get rid of invaders – runny nose to flush out the nasal passageways, runny eyes to flush them out, and, well, you get the idea.  The trouble with allergies is that the body creates this response over non-threatening invaders like pollen and grasses.  We can’t control the amount of pollens and grasses – so those are going to bring us closer to our threshold, but we can control our food.  If we keep “offensive” foods out of the diet, we’re going to avoid getting closer to the inflammatory threshold, therefore avoiding that allergic response.

The theory makes sense to me and I’ve seen great results with myself, my daughter and my patients.  If you’d like guidance with foods and cleansing products, check in with your naturopathic doctor.  Here’s to feeling better!

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My kids and I made this pie for Thanksgiving and my extended family gobbled it up.  Usually they’re a pretty tough sell on my alternative foods so I’m sure this one is a good one!  I think we’ll make it again for Christmas.  This recipe is adapted from one taken from, The Perfect Pie, by Susan G. Purdy, which is one of my favourite recipe books of all time.

Here you go…

Pie crust:

2 cups flour (we used whole grain spelt flour which makes the crust a little heavy.  You can use white spelt or all-purpose spelt if you like for 1 cup and 1 cup of whole grain spelt.  Our next attempt I’ll use kamut.)

3/4 tsp salt

Optional sweetener: 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (I think the kids threw some sugar in when I wasn’t looking!)

8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter (with our next attempt I might use coconut oil instead

3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening

1 large egg yolk (save the white part to glaze the semi baked crust)

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (the kids loved squeezing the lemon)

4-5 Tbsp ice water, as needed

(Egg glaze: 1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, into a bowl.

Cut up the butter and shortening and work them into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly, with bits the size of rice.

Add the yolk and lemon juice.  Toss lightly.  Add ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, just until the dough begins to cling together in clumps.

Turn the dough out onto wax paper and form it into a ball, then flatten into a 6 inch disk, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Roll out the pastry to and line the 10 inch pan.  Be sue the fluted edge is high so it will contain the filling.  Partially blind bake for 12 minutes with weighted liner (You can buy fancy liners at specialty stores – we used a smaller pie plate.  The liner keeps the pastry from rising and turning into a big puff ball.) Remove the liner and bake for another 5 minutes until starting to look golden.  Brush the warm crust with egg white glaze.  (In the olden days I used my fingers to “brush” on the egg white.  My husband bought me a pastry brush and, well, it’s much better.  Go figure.)  Cool on a wire rack.  Reduce the oven heat to 400 degrees F.  Place a flat baking sheet in the oven to get hot.

The filling:

2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk

2 cups cooked and mashed fresh organic sugar pumpkin

1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar to taste

1 1/2 cups coconut milk (that’s right! the full fat kind from a can (organic is better to avoid the BPA in the liner but it’s pretty hard to find) (I know, I know, genius, right?!))

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (maybe you could use coconut oil if you’re going totally dairy-free?  I haven’t tried it yet since we’re okay with butter in our household)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp cloves

In an electric mixer or in a bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs and yolk, then add the pumpkin and beat well.  Beat in the sugar, coconut milk, melted butter, salt, and spices.  Set the pan containing the pastry shell on a flat baking sheet for ease in handling.  Pour the filling mixture into the prepared pastry shell, and set it on the preheated flat baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the custard 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  When the knife comes clean at the custard’s edge, the pie is done even thought the center may not be set; the internal heat of the pie will complete the baking out of the oven.  Cool the pie on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature.  (You can use whipped cream as a topping if you like and you’re not dairy-free.  We ate it on it’s own.)  Refrigerate leftovers.

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You may already know that I’m a fan of treats. I think it’s important to make good choices for ourselves in what we eat and drink, but I also think that enjoying life and the flavour and texture of food is important. And for kids, sticking to a super strict diet day in and day out often backfires when they’re on their own, making their own food choices. This is my first post about alternative treats and this one is about…

Ice Cream!

So delicious and so difficult for those of us who can’t tolerate dairy. We don’t eat cow dairy in our household but my kids (and my husband and I) love to go out for an icy treat.

Gelato can be a great dairy-free delight – some flavours are made with cream and many flavours are not. We usually go to Dolce on College street, here in Toronto. The Good Neighbour on Annette also has fabulous, diary-free gelato. Some gelato is coloured artificially, but the old fashioned gelaterias are usually pure and natural.

If you know of any other places serving non-dairy ice cream, please let me know. I’m particularly on the look out for soy-free.

If you’re having ice cream at home or at a party or BBQ or whatever, there are several alternatives to dairy. Here is what I think of them:

Coconut ice cream – soooooooooo yummy. The rich flavour and smooth texture of coconut milk make these treats delightful. There are 2 companies I’m currently enjoying… So Delicious and Coconut Bliss. These are their links:

http://www.sodeliciousdairyfree.com/products/coconut-milk-ice-creams

http://coconutbliss.com/coconut-bliss-products/chocolate-hazelnut-fudge

Soy ice creams – now that there are other options, I’ve stepped back from the soy ice creams. Tofutti and So Good are the brands most readily available and both contain heaping amounts of processed corn products which are difficult to digest and can cause all kinds of health trouble. So Good also contains artificial flavour. Sadly, I have bid adieu to the Toffuti ice cream bars I enjoyed in the past. I’ve included these companies’ links too, in case you want to look at them:

http://www.tofutti.ca/Products/Ingredients.aspx#Novelties

http://www.sogoodbeverage.com/desserts_vanilla.cfm

Rice ice cream – Rice Dream brand is the one that’s easiest to find. It’s been around a long time. I still enjoy this type of ice cream although there is a weird aftertaste to some of the flavours. The chocolate and peanut coated ice cream stick is still my favourite. It does contain malted corn. Also, it is manufactured in a plant with dairy so there may be traces of cow products (a scandal back in the early 2000’s!) Here is the link:

http://www.tastethedream.com/products/product/1496/205.php

Hemp ice cream – I certainly applaud their all natural product and since I haven’t eaten it in quite some time, I’ll have to give it another try. Please let me know what you and your family think about this one:

http://www.coolhemp.com/en_nutrition.htm

There are also almond based ice creams available these days. I haven’t tried them yet, so something to look forward to!

Now, when I say treat, I really do mean, a once in a while treat. Say, maybe, 1 time a week? Or even once every couple of weeks? Maybe once a month?
And of course, when the weather changes again, perhaps around mid-Sept, come on in to the clinic and we can organize a cleanse to, well, clean you and your family up to prepare for the colder months. In the meantime, enjoy!

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