Hello and welcome to I Raise My Kids!

Welcome new friends who have joined recently!  It is nice to have more and more people on my adventure with me. 
For those that don’t already know me…
My name is Heidi.  I’m a paediatric speech pathologist (who loves language and brain development as well as picky eaters).  I also have two delightful sons, aged 2 & 4.

This blog started mostly to inspire other parents to take a REAL interest in their child’s life and to give them ideas on how much they can choose to be a part of their child’s most important years.  Over on my blog, you’ll find categories such as, play, speech, language, social skills, mealtimes, behaviour management, pre-literacy skills, reviews, milestones and being a parent.

The serenity...

Due to my son’s food and chemical sensitivities (& thus discovering mine!!), I have been shown a life path that I did not plan for but am very passionate about.  I am currently studying to be a family health coach, to educate more parents to help their children achieve their potential through health and well being.
I have been connecting the dots and have had to question everything for myself as we did not get answers from the medical field.  It is now clearly obvious to my that our children’s development and thus future health is so closely linked with their diet and the environment around them.

By next year, I will be starting my new health coaching business and will launch I Raise My Kids under a new name.  I hope you will continue to let me inspire you to create more health in your family. 
Thanks for joining in!
Heidi

Coconut yoghurt

Who could say no to some coconut yoghurt?

Here are some benefits:

  • Coconut milk is a healthy and filling ‘good fat’.  Good fats are so important for brains, particularly children’s developing ones.
  • Probiotics in a food that you have fermented (unlike store bought products), are likely to have far more live cultures and are more likely to actually colonise your gut, instead of doing their job and then passing through.  My post Why your children’s gut health will determine their health both now and in the future will give you more information on why you should be looking at your family’s gut health.
  • A dairy-free option avoids the issues of dairy milk – inflammation, mucous-forming, unwanted hormones and antibiotics and not to mention the many dairy and lactose-intolerances that children are suffering from these days (many who don’t know it).  Eczema, erratic behaviour, ear infections and issues with tonsils/adenoids/sleep apnoea are just some of the signs that going dairy-free for a little bit might be a good test.
  • The price!  Make it for a fraction of the price of store-bought coconut yoghurt.

There are many, many recipes around for coconut yoghurt.  I have fine tuned this one to make it very simple.  If you have the time and resources, go for your life and make the coconut milk from scratch.  Otherwise, be sure to look for coconut cream (coconut milk or reduced fat coconut milk just has more water added) and one that has few extra ingredients.  Remember, there are so many varying factors; the quality and number of probiotics,  the source of the probiotics, the amount of coconut cream in the can and the weather.

If you treat this as a fun, tasty, cheap and healthy science experiment, you will have no worries!

tangy coconut yoghurt

Let’s get to it.

Your ingredients & equipment

  • 2 cans coconut cream.
  • 3 teaspoons dairy-free probiotic powder (we use Kids Inner Health Plus).  Make sure you get one that has at least 25 billion live cultures.  Another option might be to buy coconut yoghurt and use two ‘small’ tablespoons as your starter.
  • A clean glass jar big enough to hold the coconut cream.
  • Oven with a working light (check yours can be flicked on without the heat).  Another option might be to warm tea towels, wrap them around your glass jar and ferment in an esky.
perfect with passionfruit

perfect with passionfruit

Steps to heaven in a mouthful!

  1. Put both cans of coconut cream in your fridge (or freezer if you’re in a hurry) for an hour or so.  In winter, you may not need to do this.
  2. Scoop out the solid coconut cream into a large glass jar.  Add enough of the remaining coconut water to it to achieve your desired consistency of yoghurt, remembering it will become a bit more solid once refrigerated.  Keep the coconut water to drink, use or thin out yoghurt that might end up too thick later on.
  3. Think about whether your oven will be free for 24 hours.  If not, put your coconut cream aside until it will be.
  4. Add 3 tsp dairy-free probiotic powder or 2 tbs store-purchased coconut yoghurt.  Mix well through the coconut cream.
  5. Place the lid on the jar and put it into your oven with the door closed and with the light on and NO heat.  Trust your oven will keep your yoghurt-to-be at the right temperature even on a really cold night!
  6. Let your yoghurt develop for 24 hours.
  7. Take it out and taste.  Yum!?
  8. Refrigerate.
  9. Go out and buy more coconut milk so you are ready to make more when the first jar is polished off very quickly!
24 hours in the oven

24 hours in the oven

For your next batch…

1. Save 2 tbs yoghurt (you will need to experiment here, depending how many probiotics are in the first batch and how tangy you want the next one) and place into a clean jar.

2. Repeat above process of scooping out coconut cream and adding the coconut water you want for the correct consistency.  This time you will have a better idea of how thick or runny to make it.

3.  Stir and put back in the oven!

Troubleshooting…

  • If you find that your coconut yoghurt doesn’t taste tangy enough, don’t discount the process.  It probably did work, you may just need more probiotics added next time.  Enjoy your coconut ‘yoghurt’ anyway!
  • If your coconut yoghurt is too tangy, open a new can of coconut cream, mix the coconut cream and water together and pour some coconut milk into the yoghurt to reduce the flavour.  But don’t say no to all the wonderful probiotics in your yoghurt!
  • If your coconut yoghurt, once refrigerated, is very hard, add some coconut water to it or open another can and use.
  • Remember, refrigerating your coconut yoghurt stops the fermenting process, leaving it out will allow the fermenting to continue.
  • If you are doing the warm tea towels/esky option, you might need to check it throughout the 24 hours to be sure it isn’t fermenting too quickly and thus ending up too tangy.

I’d love to hear how you go!  Did this inspire you to make your own, delicious coconut yoghurt?  Did it turn out well?

Have you thought about a dairy-free trial to help your children’s health and wellbeing?  Just as important as calcium are magnesium and zinc levels, which all parents should keep a track of for their children, not just on a dairy-free diet.  We use a kinesiologist to monitor all three levels.  The best way we achieve these minerals are through a varied, wholefood diet.

🙂 Heidi

Vegetable hide and seek

What vegetables do you hide in bolognaise or slow-cooked meals?  Do you go for the same ones each time?  Do you leave some slightly chopped (eg carrot, mushroom) so your children will just notice them or do you whizz them all?
Along with zucchini, carrot and mushroom, I have also included some grated beetroot (yes they notice the colour but the flavour isn’t dramatically affected), brussel sprouts and even kale.

Don’t be shy of trying new vegetables!  These might be the ones you completely hide or for kale/spinach, I slice finely and then chop so there aren’t big, long ‘scary’ bits.  If the boys notice it, I don’t pretend it’s not there and I don’t make a big deal.  I might say ‘oh that’s just kale…gosh you’re doing a great job eating your dinner tonight’ or if they look terribly worried….well, at first I did say ‘it’s basil!’ as I know they eat that no worries. Once they were happy to eat it, the next time I was more confident to label it kale. The dark, leafy greens have so many health benefits…

Will you buy a bunch at your next shop to try?  Or get some brussel sprouts to finely slice?

10 tips to ensure your child grows to love vegetables

Yes, vegetables do play on my mind!  Here are a few things about veges and kids that I always keep in mind…

  • children need to eat a rainbow of vegetables for essential nutrients for growth and development.  Full stop!
  • exposure to a wide variety of vegetables is key.  If your child isn’t presented with vegetables, they will not stand the chance to get accustomed to them.  See I Create My Child’s Healthy Palate for more information on helping your little one to become a healthy eater
  • a child around the age of 2 years will start trying out their new found independence and say ‘no’ to a food.  This is not the time to hold back on serving up the vegetables (or any food for that matter).
  • the sooner children develop a taste for vegetables, the sooner they will have a stronger immune system, have more nutrients for their development, stay healthier for life & be more likely to come back to them…even after potentially coming off the bandwagon in teenage years!
  • education about the WHY, the importance of vegetables is crucial.  Help your child to appreciate vegetables rather than bribing them to eat their broccoli in exchange for dessert.  Even the mention of becoming a quicker runner, better dancer or growing up like their idol can be a great reason to start trying.  Moving towards talking about benefits for the body can also be started quite young.
  • it has been found that the variety of foods a child is eating at 4 years of age represents the majority of foods they will eat for the rest of their lives.  Don’t put off presenting new vegetables. 
  • you can hide vegetables but your child still needs to have the time to let their sensory system get accustomed to the different sensory properties, such as taste, texture and smell of the individual vegetable
  • a child needs the time to explore a new vegetable by looking at it, touching it and maybe even squashing it with a utensil or fingers, all with no pressure to eat.  They may need several occasions before they are ready to eat it.
  • involving children in growing or preparing vegetables is a step towards success.  See Interactive Eating – Rice Wraps
  • using different vegetables in slow-cooked meals or bolognaise can be a great way to get your child use to looking at and attempting new vegetables

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Before your next grocery shop, have a think about which vegetables you might try with your child.  Will you add some more ‘hidden’ vegetables or will you have some to present each night for the week to see how close you can get your child to trying some.

Sun, air and earth for our kids

Can you picture that feeling when you’ve been out for a picnic, seen a bit of sun, experienced some fresh air and had your bare feet on the ground?

There is a reason it is so rejuvenating.  I’ve recently learnt about your body’s real need for vitamin D from the sun (& how the second most common cause of skin cancer is sunscreen, the chemicals we slop on our kids every day); fresh, re-electrified air (not stagnant) and the benefits of receiving ‘grounding’ from the earth, by going barefoot. Simple things but there are scientific reasons for them!  And we also feel good after it too.  Don’t you?

The trouble is, on some days it can be hard to achieve all of these.  Especially when you are at work or too tired to get out of the house with a newborn.  Give it a go when you can and take mental note of how much better you feel after a good dose of nature.

And what about promoting these benefits for your children?  Do you encourage opening their windows?  Do you promote fans over air conditioning?  Do you let them go bare foot here and there?  Do you let them have a small amount of sun exposure each day, without the need for sunscreen?  Do they spend more time indoors than outdoors?

Ps the way we avoid the sunscreen issue is by using a natural one. UV Natural from health food stores.

Coconut chips

Who says gluten free and even grain free is boring?  This is our latest healthy, easy and more-ish snack!

The coconut, being a ‘good fat’ helps to fill little bellies but be sure to look for organic at your healthfood store to avoid nasty preservatives.

I throw some sunflower seeds or pepitas into a snack container so the boys gobble up the seeds too.. Heidi

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What do cucumbers, dummies and cigarettes have in common?

They all provide ‘oral regulation’!!
‘Oral regulation’ means any repetitive chewing/sucking which calms the central nervous system and also improves concentration.  From babies with a dummy/thumb sucking, to kids and adults who suck lollipops, chew gum (think cricketers), chew fingernails and even cigarette smoking.
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Besides the nutritional benefit, these ‘crunchy things’ provide wonderful oral regulation.  I guess you could call them healthy oral regulation?  And it certainly works with Master nearly4!
Do you or your child use any other items for oral regulation? 🙂 Heidi

Cooking with love – pizza

Did you know.. using ‘good intentions’ when cooking, can literally pass ‘love’ (well that energy) onto your food?  I won’t go into quantum science here but even if unsure, everyone loves a meal cooked by someone else!

Hence I encourage the boys to help me prepare some of our meals, with love!  The perfect tool to do this is with a Kiddies Food Kutter safety knife (thanks to Feeding Two Growing Boys blog for spreading the word and yes, go and check out these safety knives to get your little ones helping out too!).  This is a brilliant little knife that is completely blunt to the touch but with a sawing action, will cut through foods such as mushrooms, zucchini and watermelon.  Great for working little hands, Master 3.5 manages to cut the mushrooms into pieces and Master 22 months has fun stabbing his knife through them!  And of course I don’t miss a language-learning opportunity providing words such as ‘back and forward’ and ‘teeth down’ (the knife’s cutting edge).  Oh and not to forget our classical music while we work 🙂

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The boys love to help me cut the mushrooms for our dinner and take their work very seriously, giving me time to prepare the rest of the dinner while I’m waiting!

Due to the boys’ intolerances, we have not had pizza in over a year.  Master nearly 2 didn’t really know what one was!  This is what we put on our gluten-free, dairy-free, preservative-free base (we will make them one day…!).

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  • tomato paste + pesto (lots)
  • chicken
  • cherry tomatoes
  • avocado
  • sweet potato
  • fried mushrooms
  • basil
  • toasted pine nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds
  • and yes no cheese…!

It was delicious and the boys were happy to eat some pizza, made with love 🙂 Heidi

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Child-friendly green smoothie + 10 tips to entice your child

Are you looking for a green smoothie that will provide PLENTY of nutrients to start your child’s day and tastes delicious?  Are you feeling like your child could never come around to this?  Well then read on for the recipe and how to wean your child onto this delicious breakfast OR snack.

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Here is the recipe for one: (tip: write it out with the quantity for the number of people you are making it for and stick it up on the kitchen wall until you know it back to front!)

The ‘works’ green smoothie (AKA ‘the juice of a sea cucumber’)

  • 1 kale leaf, washed and stalk removed
  • 1 handful spinach, washed
  • 1/2 orange, peeled
  • 2 tsp almonds, soaked in water night before and drained (allows nutrients to be absorbed by your body better – ‘bioavailable’)
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water (or equivalent ice)
  • optional: probiotics, changing chia for sunflower seeds, linseeds or pepitas, 1 tsp Superfoods for Kidz ‘Vital Veggie Power’ (particularly used for Master 21 months who eats minimal orange or green veges if we’re being realistic!), swap 1/2 orange for 1/2 lemon + 1/2 pear.

Blend until smooth.

just some of the ingredients you can see...

just some of the ingredients you can see…

Superfoods for Kidz - Vital Veggie Powder

Superfoods for Kidz – Vital Veggie Powder

Here are some of the steps we took to wean the boys onto this smoothie….and who now SLUUUURRP it!

1. Start on an easier smoothie.  We started with 150ml almond milk, 1/2 banana, handful of soaked almonds, 1 tsp carob powder, 1/2 tsp honey or 1 date, probiotics, pepitas/sunflower seeds thrown in. See my post, ‘What About A Brekky Shake‘ for further ideas. Adjust the carob/cacao/cocoa or slightly more honey to entice them in.

2. Make small changes…slow and steady wins the race!  We started adding 1/4-1/2 tsp barley grass powder.  This is a great start in developing a taste for some supergreens and the boys gradually got used to 1 tsp barley grass powder.  This then became the green/chocolate smoothie.

3. Give it a name.  The boys were used to names such as ‘choco-coco banana’ or ‘honey cinna-banana’ so by the time I announced we’d try a new smoothie, they were excited to name this new one.  This time I drummed up more excitement by using Master 3.5’s new interest, sea animals.  I suggested ‘what about the juice of a sea cucumber?’.  A definite ‘YES’!

4. Introduce a new cup/straw.  As we are trying to get rid of plastic and the chemicals that go with it, I decided to invest in some stainless steel cups and drinking straws.  I brought these out on the day we tried the new smoothie.

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5. Plan to drink the new smoothie yourselves first and only offer a taste for your kids – miracles can happen when there is no pressure and they see others enjoying it.  The first morning I made the new smoothie (juice of a sea cucumber), I talked it up, but only made enough for my husband and I, not planning for the boys to drink more than a taste.  They both had a taste and Master 22 months took the bait…. ‘MORE!’.  So we donated one of our smoothies to him and made do that morning with some sneaky ‘low-fives’.

6. Slow and steady wins again.  I then made Master 3.5 his usual ‘choco-cinna banana’ in WITH the remnants of the new smoothie.  In fact, I knew half of the ingredients of the green smoothie weren’t THAT far off what he was used to.  So I added the almonds, goji berries and chia but left out the orange and greens (there was already some taste of them in the dregs) and added almond milk instead of water.  It was daring but he went with it!

7. Blend and blend again. Sometimes the smoother the better, particularly with fibrous foods like orange.  Be sure to start weaning off super smooth once you have the kids hooked in so they don’t rely on ‘no bits’ forever.

8. Know went to step up, and went to back down.  Again, slow and steady wins the race.  Keep making your green smoothie first, and making your child’s preferred one with more and more dregs.  I sensed that Master 3.5 was interested in the new smoothie after he saw Master 22 months slurp his up.  He just needed a day or so extra to get his head around a change in his breakfast routine, not SO much the taste.

9. Give some warning.  I planted the seed ahead of time and one day confidently announced ‘we’ll be getting up early to get out and go to the beach tomorrow morning, so we’ll all have the juice of a sea cucumber tomorrow okay?’.  He agreed, although I was probably still prepared to make his back up if he needed.  Nope, he was completely happy to enjoy the new drink with us!

10. Educate! We have drawn a picture and told the story of how each ingredient does something to help our body.  Master 3.5 is learning to have a sense of ‘taking care of his health’ as he asks me to go through each ingredient and what it does again!

your body will thank you!

your body will thank you!

Of course another idea would be to get your children involved in making the smoothie and talking about all the yummy ingredients in it, pointing out the ones they already know and the ones that sound enticing (like goji berries).  I didn’t play up the greens but maybe that was just me anticipating a reaction!

And the best bit about this shake is… you won’t even have to fake a ‘yummy’ smile as you drink, because it really is delicious!

Please let me know how you get on or other delicious variations  🙂 Heidi

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Roasted Turmeric Chickpeas – cheap, quick, healthy.

The QUICKEST snack you could prepare with ‘superfood’ benefits of turmeric, which will help keep your child’s liver clean from all the detoxifying of toxins they may be ingesting. Not to mention a great fine motor task for little fingers to pick up and eat!

1. Rinse tin of No Salt Added Chickpeas.
2. Pour onto baking tray.
3. Sprinkle turmeric powder over the top. Shake tray to coat.
4. Place in oven at 200degrees Celsius for ~40mins depending how crunchy you like them. For little ones you might just do 30mins to keep them semi soft.
Enjoy! 🙂 Heidi

I usually go for handfuls...

I usually go for handfuls…