Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Sanctuary

image credit: https://web.dsbn.edu.on.ca
Home is where an introvert is happiest and most at ease. For little man, our house is where he is free
to be himself, without question or judgement. He sheds his anxiety and takes solace in familiarity.
But what do you do when your home becomes a place of chaos and confusion?

Recently my sister and my wonderful nephew have come to stay with us for a little while. My nephew is three and is as adorable and saucy as my little miss of the same age. They are like two peas in a pod, acting the same way, taking interest in the same things, and act out in all the same ways. As you can imagine, this is cause for some mega blowout toddler fights.
Now when these two begin the fifteenth round of the day of screaming and tugging the same toy away from each other, It can be a bit trying. My sister and I are equally tired of the noise, the mess, the scrapping, the... everything, but not nearly as much as little man.

He began to meltdown about little things, and retreat into himself, almost completely severing communication by day four. I tried to coax him out of his shell, and interest him in things that are usually quite tempting, but he was only interested in getting as far away physically and emotionally as possible. As hard as it is for me to allow him that space, I understand that it is necessary for him to have it. My concern however, was that he would continue to retreat and I would lose touch with him, and the progress we have made to establish open lines of communication would be compromised.

Not wanting this to happen, I had to offer him an alternative. Thankfully my mother has always been an enormous part of little man's life and has over the years become someone he can lean on and pull strength from when he is feeling vulnerable.

After one phone call to my mom, little man was packed up, and off to Grandma's for the night. We have only had a couple of one nighters away from each other and they pretty much all happened in the last year. I very meticulously prepare him mentally for the sleep over, and fret the whole time he's away, wondering how he is doing without me. I have learned though, that I need to get over myself a little and realize that he is fine without me long enough to have a sleep over at Grandma's house without falling apart.

So when he went this time, I assured myself that he was in good hands, and that a total decompression was in order for his well being. He practically sprinted out the door when my mom came to pick him up, and I had to call him back to say goodbye to me (tear).

I checked in a couple times throughout the evening and morning and was reassured that he was happy, calm, and eating copious amounts of junk food (maybe that's why Grandma's is so fun).
When he came home, he was himself again. I was relieved. I think I have this irrational fear that eventually he will pull away from me and won't come back.

But, he did. just needed a night to reset. I visualize it like this: He has a bucket, and over the course of the day, or several, stimulation and sensory fill it up, one drop after another; and without ample time to tip the bucket upside down and let it drain out, it will inevitably overflow.
I am not always able to offer this to him on my own. I have learned to rely on and trust my circle of people to help me and to have little man's best interest at heart as well as the capability.

I am very thankful for my mother, and everyone who has supported us and our babies through our very busy journey.

I just hope they keep it up when we have four teenagers hanging around!





Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Why We Let Our Kids Play on Electronic Devices

Original photo credit:iMore.com

We have more personal electronic devices than anyone I know, and we often get accosted about the fact that our children play on an iPad or iPod. People love to judge. They love to tell you how you're doing things wrong, or poorly. We have gotten more flack about iPods from people in our lives than almost anything else.

Now I am very aware that too much screen time is bad for kids. I know that they need different levels and types of stimulation as well as time with little to no stimulation. We make sure that the children have designated "No iPod time", that they go outside, run around, play games, read books, be creative, etc.

When I was growing up, me and every other person of my generation, sat around in the mornings and evenings watching television. In our house, iPods have replaced the t.v. I could not turn it on for weeks and they wouldn't be too bothered by it.

The iPod/iPad are great tools for children to learn in an environment which they thrive in, as well as being easily accessible, fun, and custom to each child. The other children spend considerably less time on any devices, but little man, he'd be pleased if he never had to do anything again except rock out his device.

When he was really little, before his diagnosis, it served as a distraction. In hindsight, I now understand that he was using the self controlled sensory input to block all of the uncontrollable. He still uses it for that purpose. If we are out somewhere difficult for him, like say the grocery store, and he begins to become overwhelmed, he sits down in the cart and borrows my husband's phone and is then capable of getting through the rest of the trip. We have even successfully had three trips to the movie theatre with an accessible phone or iPod for him, which is something he wanted to do so badly. He watches the movie, and inevitably part way through he starts to get restless, a bit panicky, and has a hard time blocking out the intense sounds and flashing screen. The first time, I though for sure we were done. It was a trial, he really wanted to give it a go, we did, but as expected, 20 minutes into the movie, and we were going to be heading home. He on the other hand, would not be defeated so easily, he asked for my phone, I told him the sound had to stay off, and we turned the brightness down as far as it would go, and he used it for about ten minutes before turning it off and returning his focus to the movie. I was so proud of him. He used a familiar tool that was available to him, to allow himself the necessary time and distraction to finish something hard for him. Way to go little man! If we hadn't had that option in place for him, he may not have been able to see it through.

There is also the learning factor. Absolutely NOTHING can teach that child something as fast and proficiently as the games on the iPod. I have sat with him countless times, trying to obtain his focus and interest long enough to teach him things, like the alphabet, colours, letters, numbers, shapes, written words, etc, and he shuts down. Once he has learned something, he loves to talk to me about it, but taking in new information, while trying to interact (even with his mama) is just too much. I download him a game about phonics, and within two days, he's telling me what sounds the letters make. Why do you think autistic children in schools are getting their own iPads now? It makes sense, why wouldn't you offer them a learning tool that is less stressful for them and is successful time and time again.

Now we don't let them play all the time, and we don't let them waste the opportunity playing mindless games, to just pass time. This is a tool for us. It allows them time to themselves, while offering us (the folks) a great way to teach something new.

Little man is a numbers guy, and 75% of the time, he's just got a calculator on the screen, punching in number sequences, spouting off times tables, and doing a whole lot of linear thinking ;)
When he's not on the calculator, he's playing a math game, listening to music, or watching youtube songs about numbers. It just so happens that one device does all of these things. But to the nosey onlookers, they see your kid with a device in his hand, again, and assume that you aren't doing right by them. They assume that you let them play video games all day and don't parent them. Little do they know that you are choosing to provide a sensory tool, learning tool, art tool, calculating music player...
Why wouldn't you? Yes, shove them outside to play, engage in meaningful conversation, do group activities and outings, read books, do it all! For us though, part of doing it all is letting them have the devices sometimes too. Who cares what people say. That nosey stranger at the grocery store doesn't know your child, that opinionated relative doesn't walk in your shoes. Don't ever hop in the backseat when it comes to your parenting, and you'll do alright. They're learning and happy. WIN!


P.S I am not affiliated in any way with apple, this is just what we have and what our children use.





Tuesday, 10 June 2014

School Days


The first day of school can be nerve racking for the best of us. I don't really remember my first day of school, but we did move a lot, and I remember some of my subsequent first days. Everyone looking at you, not knowing anyone, trying to make friends with people you know nothing about, and trying to orient yourself with your new surroundings.
Now I'm a pretty social person, well at least I used to be before I became a mom and have lost touch with the outside world ;). I have a fairly easy time striking up a conversation with someone I don't know, and I can adapt pretty quickly to a new place; But, it is still tough. You second guess yourself, doubt all the things that normally draw people to you, say things you wouldn't normally say, behave like a different version of yourself.
I can only imagine going through all that, if I was particularly uncomfortable in new settings or social situations. If I was someone who clung for dear life to routine and familiarity, and was being ripped from both. Not to mention the whole LEARNING aspect of it all.

I have been worried about little man going off to school for a long time. So much so, that I have many times considered home schooling, or getting a job at his school so that I can be on hand for him (I don't think the latter is even possible, but I'm a desperate woman.)

There are other reasons why I worry too, like his lack of understanding to what is appropriate and inappropriate, for example feeling the urge to go to the washroom, stripping down buck naked and THEN proceeding to walk to the bathroom. It doesn't seem to matter how many times we discuss it, he keeps doing it. This would not be good in the middle of the classroom.
His temper, MY GOD the temper on this kid... we are used to it, been happening since he was 1. Little man gets embarrassed, angry, anxious, overwhelmed, insert negative emotion her, and KABOOM! Ginger snap! We know how to best diffuse him, we know when he's ready to move on or continue with the activity. A stranger wouldn't know any of that. They may even treat him like a crazed lunatic and not a child in need of assistance regaining his composure.
And then there's the kids. I know, kids are mean, everyone gets bullied at some point, yada yada, but that sucks! I don't want to send my baby off to slaughter and just have to accept it because "kids will be kids". Little man may meltdown, scream, hit walls sometimes, and look a lot to an outsider like he's poorly behaved, but in reality, he does nothing with malicious intent. He is sweet and kind, and would never tease someone or pick on them to make himself feel better. He certainly is a target for it though, isn't he... sitting duck.

Last year, Little man was four, and poised to go into Junior Kindergarten. He has come a long way since then, and looking back, I can't even imagine what life would have been like this past year if he had started school then. We made a decision to skip JK, and put him into SK this coming fall. We met the natural bit of criticism about our choice, some people agreed, some didn't understand it at all, and some thought that school would be the best tool to help him socially. Because of my own anxieties about him going to school, I had to weed through my feelings and decipher which were based off of a general fear for him and his academic future, and which were legitimate, and warranted waiting. We chose to wait. Despite what people said, despite what all the other parents were doing, despite the fact that he said he wanted to go. We did talk with him and discussed five year old school instead of four year old school and he seemed content with that. We did what we felt was right.

The last thing we wanted for our son, was to go into this already scary, difficult new world, with an inability to dress himself, or say what was bothering him, or be in the same room as other children. Seemed cruel to just shove him in and go "He'll learn, He'll sort it out." We wanted to set him up to be as successful as possible.
So over the last year we have worked on social skills, controlling anger and outbursts, and following direction. He may not be able to handle these things as easily as a neurotypical child, but he has made marked improvement and is going to face everything with a confidence he did not have a year ago.

I'm still scared. I have no idea what is in store for him/us, and I'm not going to lie, I cried while I filled out his registration papers, but at least now, we can give it a go, knowing that the entire time, we had his best interest in mind and made decisions for him, not the masses. I will be his advocate at school, and anywhere else for that matter, and we will cope with all these new, scary things together, all while learning a little something from the curriculum too ;)

Having an A-typical child requires an A-typical approach. They will spend the better part of their lives having people try to make a square peg fit into a round whole. But what is right for some, or even most, may not be right for your child. Take the time to make these decisions for yourself, don't just fall in line. Don't just do what everyone else is doing. Be an example to your child to stand up and choose their own path, make the right choices for THEM.



Saturday, 10 May 2014

DIY Remineralizing Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth

 Some of you may know about this already, and for others it will be new. Teeth are meant to be self-healing! Think about it... When you break a bone,  does it not mend itself? When you cut yourself, does it not regenerate new skin? Why would your teeth be the only exception? Why would nature take care of the rest of your body and not your teeth? And for that matter, what about animals? It's not like you see any wolves on a vegan diet because they can no longer chew their meat... Your teeth are supposed to last you.

Now obviously taking care of your teeth is essential, but people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of oral health, brushing several times a day, flossing, regular dental visits, cleanings, fluoride treatments, etc, etc. But our teeth are still deteriorating. Someone who takes care of their teeth consistently is still more than likely going to end up in need of a filling or other dental intervention at some point. Why?

Well there is a book you can read that is VERY informative, and will in detail explain this to you called Cure Tooth Decay and an organization dedicated to oral health through diet called The Weston A Price Foundation. Many in the natural community are already aware of the detriment that a grain based, low fat diet has on your health, and it is slowly becoming more widely understood. The paleo diet, SCD, and GAPS diet are all prime example of how people are healing themselves from life long afflictions that there were no other options for with nutrition.

Teeth decay due to lack of nutrition. There are components of grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts that inhibit the absorption of vital nutrients for your body, including your brain, your bones, and your teeth. Many (but not all) believe that properly soaking your grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds draws these harmful components from the food and you are left with a much healthier product. I'll leave that up to you to check out yourself. I like this article, and this one.
One thing that I really believe in though is that enough saturated fat in your diet is essential for carrying fat soluble nutrients throughout your body. A well balanced diet with ample fat will help the overall health of your body, and in particular, your teeth.

Now another thing to consider when discussing tooth de-mineralization, is the use of standard commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes. They all contain glycerin which coats the teeth and is said to take up to 20 rinses to clean off. It is not a necessary ingredient for your oral health and is primarily used for creating a nicer textured paste. Mouthwash also contains glycerin. Even a lot of natural oral products contain glycerin. (By the way, the one we use when not using homemade is Earthpaste)

And then there's fluoride. Naturally occurring fluoride has been shown to lessen the occurrence of tooth decay and promote dental health, however, it's chemical counterpart that is present in fluoride rinses, tablets, and toothpastes, is a very dangerous neurotoxin which has actually been shown to CAUSE decay over time. There are warnings on your toothpaste containers to call poison control if consumed, and for good reason. Fluoride is dangerous.

Ok so now that almost all commercial toothpaste has been ruled out (at least for our family) we need to figure out what is good to brush your teeth with... Earthpaste is great, it is made out of clay and contains no glycerin. It is slightly alkaline, neutralizing the acids in the mouth which eat away at enamel, but we weren't crazy about the way it made our teeth feel. I always felt like my mouth wasn't as "fresh" feeling. Also, my husband and I both noticed that it was making our teeth very sensitive. Not to mention the cost at over $6 a tube...

So once again, there I was, trying all sorts of concoctions that I could get my hands on for my own toothpaste, I tried this one, and this one, and even this. I was disappointed with each effort. My teeth were still sensitive, and they tasted awful. Finally after much experimentation, I have come up with something that gets your teeth feeling very clean, freshens breath, has helped my enamel to become noticeably stronger (my teeth used to be quite transparent at the ends, and are now MUCH more opaque) but also, has made my teeth much less sensitive. I no longer cringe every time I sip a cold drink.

This tooth paste, like many, is coconut based. I am c-c-c-crazy about coconut oil. Pretty much anyone who has tried it feels the same. It is in every room in my house, used in every application, and on every family member, from baby to adults, to the dog. Coconut oil is gaining much fame for it's oral health benefits as well. It's natural anti-fungal, anti-microbial properties, also help to inhibit the growth of acid producing bacteria (which damages your teeth) and yeast, reducing the risk or occurrences of oral thrush. It also helps give teeth that nice slick feeling when you run your tongue along them.


  • Baking soda adds the alkalinity and a very gentle bit of abrasion to help loosen plaque and food. 
  • The calcium is essential to healthy bones and teeth, and also adds an amazing texture to the paste. 
  • Xylitol is a natural, sugar-alcohol sweetener, that is known for it's ability to prevent cavities, as well as inner-ear infections. It is great is toothpaste because it sweetens things up as well as adding a slightly cool feeling. Look for a non-GMO brand, as much xylitol is derived from corn.  
  • Neem oil is great for killing bacteria that cause bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. You can read about the benefits of neem here. Omit the neem oil however, if you are pregnant or if a child who cannot spit out toothpaste yet is using the paste. 
  • Trace mineral drops are pretty much just a great magnesium source, also imperative to bone and teeth health. 
  • Peppermint oil is great at freshening breath and an also help ease toothaches.****


Remineralizing Sensitive Toothpaste

1 cup coconut oil
2 T baking soda
1/3 cup calcium powder
1/2 cup GMO free xylitol powder
10 drops neem oil
20 drops trace mineral drops
50 drops peppermint oil*****


*****Note: For children who do not like the taste of peppermint, try using a combination of citrus oils (lemon, sweet orange, lime) for a more kid friendly flavour.

We have been using this particular toothpaste for about six months now, and couldn't be happier. Give it a try, let me know what your think :)

Check out my DIY baby wipes for another great homemade natural idea!



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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Amazing Vanilla Coffee Creamer (Dairy Free, Soy Free)

Ah coffee... sweet ambrosia. I have more than once in my life been willing to trade limbs for java. I am not exactly what you would call a morning person. Even my children can attest to this; they usually skirt the walls in silence until they see an empty coffee cup beside me and know it is safe to approach.

I like my coffee with cream and sugar, always have. It's so yummy, even though I know I shouldn't be spooning sugar into the first thing I put into my body in the morning. Also with our home being dairy free, I should cut out the cream too, but honestly I think almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc. are great in a lot of applications, but I tend to get a bit murdery when they find their way into my coffee.

So how did I give up cream and sugar? I finally figured out what I love about them and then was able to create an amazing alternative. The reason I like cream and not milk is the fat... yummy, healthy, flavourful fat. Sugar is easy enough: I have a sweet tooth, which has been made abundantly clear by now ;)

If you like decadent flavoured coffee, or sweet, creamy coffee, this will make your day, again and again. I would feel quite pleased about putting this out with after dinner coffee for guests, or you could always just hoard it in the back of the fridge all for yourself (not that I do that). Trust me... YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!


VANILLA COFFEE CREAMER

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 
  • pinch sea salt
Special Equipment:
  • Blender (does not need to be fancy or high powered, any blender will do.)
  • Nut Milk Bag (not an absolute necessity, but it does make a difference with mouth feel) Like this one
  • Mason Jar (or other storage container)
Instructions:
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil for 1 minute and then let cool till warm. This will help to ensure the longest shelf life of the finished product as well as provide the heat needed to melt the oil
  • Measure the cashews and 1 cup of the water into the blender.
  • Blend on high for about 1 minute or until smooth.***
  • suspend milk bag in measuring cup or other bowl, and pour milk into it.
  • Add remaining water to blender and blend for 10 seconds or so (this is just to ensure you don't waste any that may be coating the walls of your blender.
  • Add coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup. Blend for 30 seconds
  • pour into milk bag
  • there will not be much left in the milk bag after you raise it out of the liquid, gently squeeze anything left. Discard solids in milk bag. 
  • Pour creamer into mason jar and allow to cool in the fridge uncovered. Once cooled, lid it and store for up to 10 days in the fridge. 
  • Shake jar before each use.
***note: Be careful when blending hot liquids. Use a towel on top of the open vent to minimise risk.


As usual, I like to give alternatives and variations, because everyone's tastes are different. If you prefer, you can use macadamia nuts in place of cashews, but beware, they are pricey. 
You can also omit the vanilla extract or replace it with another of your liking, but I would start off with half the amount and then adjust to taste as a lot of other extracts are stronger in flavour than vanilla.
You can also use ghee in place of the coconut oil, however coconut oil does offer a plethora of health benefits that ghee does not (unless using grass fed ghee) but the flavour is a little more traditional. 
And of course you can use Local honey in place of the maple syrup, or any other sweetener of your choice. Honey has the added benefit of helping with seasonal allergies if you buy local, unpasteurised.



What are you waiting for? Go, go! Enjoy! Guilt free, deliciously sweet, creamy coffee. Almost makes you a morning person... almost.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Asian Stir-Fry... SOY FREE!!!

Stir-fry is a great mid-week, quick and easy, yet healthy dinner that pleases almost everyone. It is
easily adapted to use up any proteins, veggies, or starches you have to use up, and is great as a vegetarian dish as well.

Since we have gone GFCF, we have maintained a pretty strict no soy rule as well.

Soy was once thought to be the Mecca of super foods for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It is high in protein, low in fat, and grows very easily. Sounds like a dieter's dream. Unfortunately, almost every soy bean now comes from GMO crops and are not nearly as good for your body as previously thought.

"Thousands of studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility -- even cancer and heart disease."    -Dr. Joseph Mercola

I won't get too much into the dangers of soy, but I would like to point out a few things that unfortunately, most people aren't aware of. 
Soy is extremely high in estrogen, which can cause a multitude of hormonal issues within the body. Babies and children consuming soy are likely to suffer from all sorts of hormonal imbalances which effect puberty and normal growth and development.
Soy can also cause cancer, low sperm count, menstrual problems, and infertility which can go generations deep.
As someone who suffers from an under active thyroid, as does a large portion of the population, I was quite interested to learn that soy is a goitrogen, and will make hypothyroidism much worse with regular consumption.
Soy apart from being bad for you in and of itself, also inhibits other foods that are actually good for you from ever benefiting you. Soy blocks the absorption of many vitamins and minerals. Therefore if you eat a super healthy diet and consume soy along with it, you're not getting nearly the benefits from your lifestyle that you otherwise would be.

Again, I am not going to go too much further into this, but if you are interested in reading more about the dangers of soy, check these out:

http://wellnessmama.com/3684/is-soy-healthy/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/12/04/soy-dangers-summarized.aspx

http://www.foodrenegade.com/dangers-of-soy/

Ok, back to the oh so yum stir-fry. As evil as I think soy is, I love soy sauce. It is salty, and deeply flavoured, and adds a component to a lot of dishes that I miss terribly. Recently however, I have discovered coconut aminos. I found it at my health food store, but it is available at large whole food style stores and online.

Here's a picture of the bottle to help you find it in the stores.
It tastes quite a bit like soy sauce, but is made from the sap from a coconut tree. It is very rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and contains live enzymes to help with digestion. It is also seasoned with pure sea salt and is low GI. Not to mention that is is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and vegan.

Just for the record, I am not affiliated with this product, I just really dig it.


Soy Free Asian Stir-Fry:
serves 2-4

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 2 T honey OR Palm sugar OR other sweetener of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar (I like Braggs) you can also use rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • *Hot sauce to taste (I like siracha, and lots of it)

Stir-fry:
  • 1/2 lb chicken, beef, or pork, sliced thinly
  • 1 head of broccoli florets
  • 1 sweet pepper (yellow, orange, red, or green)
  • 1 white onion, julienned
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • *1 chili pepper of choice, sliced thinly on the bias (optional) 
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
*note: If you want chili flavour but not a crazy amount of heat, leave out the hot sauce, use a jalapeƱo chili and remove all seeds.


TIP:  Prep all ingredients before you begin to cook anything, stir fry's cook fast and hot, so don't get caught with your pants down ;)



  • Heat a Large frying pan or wok until quite hot, but not quite on high. 
  • Add coconut oil and follow immediately with the meat if you are using any. 
  • Toss the meat around in the hot pan, making sure not to overcook it. It should only take about 2 minutes. 
  • Quickly remove from pan and set aside. 
  • Allow heat to come back up for about 30 seconds, and add in all vegetables except garlic.
  •  Again, toss around in hot oil for about 3-5 minutes. The vegetables should still have quite a bit of bite to them. 
  • Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds and then add the sauce. 
  • Throw the meat back in, including any drippings that may have come off of it. 
  • Bring the sauce up to a boil and toss around for about 1 minute. 
  • Immediately transfer entire contents to dish for serving.
  • Serve over rice or vermicelli. 
  • Garnish with sesame seeds.


I hope you enjoy this great tasting, clean eating stir-fry. I'd love to hear any feedback, or about your favourite stir-fry.

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Tropical Smoothie

Mid-winter, house full of screaming kids, more snow than you can shake a stick at, I need a vacation.

Ah, but alas, not in the cards... not even kind of actually. Ok, improvise time... I'll crank the heat, put on some relaxing music, pretend the noises coming from my crazy kids are actually birds circling over the shore, and sip on a wonderfully delicious tropical fruit drink. If I keep my eyes closed, it might actually work. Doubtful, but I still really want the smoothie.


Frozen fruit is a great way to be able to affordably enjoy healthy and delicious smoothies all year round. I both buy frozen fruit, and purchase fruit on sale, chop it up and freeze in bags for later use.
I always like to make sure that I add in a nice healthy fat into my smoothies, it is great for the bones, brain, immune system and over all health. As much as I love coconut oil, and add it to my smoothies regularly, I also really love avocado in a smoothie.

Avocado is so mild and creamy, it gives a great texture, without imparting an unpalatable flavour. I buy a bag of five avocados when they're on sale, and then puree them in the food processor with a bit of water until very smooth. I then freeze them in an ice cube tray and use them as baby food and to add to smoothies. Easy and convenient.

This is a great breakfast, snack or fake vacation prop ;)



Tropical Smoothie

  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup orange juice or pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp raw honey if desired


I like to use peaces because they really sweeten the smoothie up, but you could use more mango if you don't have peaches.

The rest is easy peasy, just blend everything together until nice and smooth. If you notice the mixture is too thick for your blender, just add a bit more orange juice until it starts moving again.

And that's it! Enjoy, just watch out for teeny thieves...





Thursday, 23 January 2014

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies (Grain free)

Salted Caramel is probably my favourite treat. I would put it on ANYTHING, no seriously, steak, potatoes, cereal, you name it.

I also happen to love shortbread, the stiff, buttery, rich, Scottish style. It's simplicity and perfection are not even comparable to most other cookies. I have been trying to come up with a really nice shortbread cookie for some time. I have had homemade and store bought gluten free shortbread cookies from all different sources, and have been so excited to taste them, right up until the moment they touch my tongue and I get that awful gritty texture that trumps any delicious buttery flavour. Little man seems to be in agreement as well.

I had high hopes for my rice flour free all purpose flour blend, because it worked SO well in chocolate chip cookies and brownies, but I found it to be a bit too strong in flavour for a cookie that was primarily only flour and butter. What to do, what to do...

The answer: Paleo. I have been warming up more and more to paleo, simply because practically EVERYONE who has committed to a paleo diet has raved about its health benefits. Many recent studies have found direct links between high grain, high sugar, high processed diets and chronic disease, inflammation, and reduction in health. Many parents of children with non-neurotypical children (autism, ADHD, schizophrenia  etc) have found that cutting these things from their child's diet help with both behavioural and gastrointestinal issues. Not to mention the number of people who have both lost and gained weight to achieve their healthy weight with this sort of lifestyle.

Now I'm not saying I'm about to rock the caveman life all the time, but i have been cutting back on how much we rely on grains and carbohydrates as our family's pyramid base and have tried to replace with good fats, nutrient-dense foods, and whole organic foods. One of the ways this has become achievable is by learning how to use honey and other unrefined sugars as sweeteners. Raw organic honey is both tasty and quite good for you. people like to make the argument that it still effects blood sugar levels and therefore is no better than corn syrup or refined sugar. In my opinion (and the opinions of many others) that sort of over simplification is wildly inaccurate. Honey is natural, unprocessed, rich in beneficial enzymes and naturally antiseptic and antibiotic. It does not require preservatives or added flavouring, and is so tasty.




Salted Caramel Topping
1/2 cup local organic honey
1/2 cup grass fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1 tsp sea salt*

  • In a medium pot bring honey and butter/oil/ghee to a boil on high heat.
  • continue to boil for about 5 minutes, watching closely, until a medium caramel colour is achieved.
  • stand back and add coconut milk in all at once. It will bubble and spit a bit. 
  • Using a heat safe rubber spatula, stir well until combined and completely smooth. 
  • Add 1 tsp* sea salt, and stir until dissolved 
  • Pour into a shallow glass dish and refrigerate until very cold.

*Note: If using salted butter, reduce salt to 1/2 tsp

Shortbread Cookies
1 cup room temp (not melted) ghee or grass fed butter
1/4 cup local organic honey
1 3/4 cups paleo flour blend
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp sea salt*

  • mix honey and butter/ghee in stand mixer with paddle attachment for about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed.
  • Add salt* and mix again for 1 min
  • Carefully add starch and flour blend, being careful not to send it flying with the mixer. 
  • When combined, turn up speed to med-high and mix for about 2 minutes. 
  • scrape contents of bowl onto parchment paper. 
  • Cover with a second piece of parchment and squish down into a 1" disk
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Remove from fridge, roll out on lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to 1/4-1/3" thick
  • Working quickly, cut into desired shapes and transfer to lined cookie sheet.  
  • Using a small circle, cut centre out of half of the shapes
  • Bake in preheated 300°F oven on middle rack for 9-11 minutes
  • Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

*Note: If using salted butter, reduce salt to 1/2 tsp

To assemble the cookies, stack two cookies together, one base and one with the centre removed, and fill hole with caramel. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and place in fridge or freezer to set.

Store in single layer at room temp. If it is really warm where you are, you may want to store in fridge or freezer to keep the caramel from getting too runny, and remove a few minutes before eating.


Both of these recipes are very versatile and I am sure I will be referring back to them in future recipes as well. They were a big hit here and no one would have guessed that they were grain free, soy free, refined sugar free, gfcf, and paleo.




Saturday, 11 January 2014

Winter squash and carrot soup

January always seems so dark and long to me. The "January blahs" take their toll emotionally, and physically, most people find their bodies feeling a little sore and achy, and their spirits a little dampened.

Don't fret though, help is on the way ;)

This delicious squash and carrot soup is very nutritious and amazingly full of anti-inflammatory, soothing yumminess. I've added turmeric for both a beautiful sunshine colour (which really does help to cheer things up) and for it's great health properties. Butternut squash is rich in antioxidants, FULL of beta-carotene, and is a great source of fibre, potassium, and B6.
We all know how great carrots are for you, and as they share a lot of the same health characteristics as butternut squash, these two pair up to become a power house that is great for your skin, bones and teeth, heart, eyesight, and helps to prevent cancer and inflammation throughout the body.

With all these great benefits, wonderful flavour and texture, minimal cost of ingredients, and it's sheer ease of preparation, this soup will defiantly become a favourite.



Winter Squash and Carrot Soup:

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 med butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
5-6 med carrots, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 lg sprig fresh thyme
1/2 can organic coconut milk
2 cups veg stock
2 cups water
S&p


  • Sweat all diced vegetables in the coconut oil on medium heat for about five minutes. 
  • Add turmeric and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to low boil
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 30 mins or until all vegetables are tender
  • Remove Bay leaf and sprig of thyme (I like to leave them whole for ease)
  • Blend soup with regular blender or stick blender until very smooth
  • Season with salt and pepper


I served mine with a few toasted sunflower seeds, but you could use croutons, coconut cream, fresh herbs, or nothing at all. This dish is a great appetizer soup or perfectly lovely all by its self. It is vegan, Paleo, GFCF, and SCD friendly. It also reheats and freezes really well.

I hope you take the time to do a little something for yourself and whip up a tasty bowl of sunshine to brighten your day. You might find those January blahs aren't so bad after all.


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