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There are many things I like about the Waldorf philosophy of child-rearing. I love the importance of free play, the connection to nature and the simple chores for kids. I like the absence of television and the emphasis on reality-based crafts. I love the handmade dolls and the beautiful pieces of fabric , which are used as toys. I don’t agree with the theory that children should not be taught academics until they are seven years old: if my kid is interested in reading earlier, I will teach him how to read.

My favorite thing about Waldorf is its emphasis on rhythm and rituals. According to Waldorf philosophy, there is nothing as important for the child’s healthy growth and development as the work you do to maintain consistent rhythms in their lives. Noticing the change of seasons with your child is important. Noticing the times of day is important, as well. Paying attention to simple things in nature, like sunshine coming after the rain, helps your child to better connect with their inner rhythm and to tune into the world around them, which they are a part of.

The Waldorf philosophy states that a child develops a sense of self through a carefully-guided, secure and stable childhood. Keeping close ties to the natural rhythms and cycles helps your child develop a sense of well-being and certainty that the world is an understandable, safe, and predictable place. Here’s how to develop a natural rhythm in your home, according to Waldorf: Make a list of the chores and errands you do each week. Include “basic” things, like cooking and cleaning, as those present a wonderful learning opportunity to a child. Assign each errand to a specific day of the week ahead. Make your schedule and stick to it.

Here’s what we do:  ( letters and numbers are not supported by the Waldorf philosophy at an early age,but I choose to teach them, because my kid is interested)

Monday: Learn and play with numbers
Tuesday: Cook, play dough
Wednesday: Learn letters and do a craft project, involving letters
Thursday:  Field trip
Friday: Housekeeping (washing, polishing, dusting.) Watercolor painting.

We usually do the chosen daily activity in the morning an then repeat it a few times throughout the day,as a theme. If the theme is housekeeping, we dust in the morning and learn about different tools,used for cleaning, while going for our afternoon walk.

While choosing your daily schedule, the Waldorf philosophy suggests to alternate between activities of expansion and those of contraction. Reading, writing, doing crafts- all require concentration and are, therefore, contracting. Free play is expansive. This theory of expansion and contraction sounds very true to me, because I apply it to my daily yoga practice: the only way to maintain a perfect balance in the body is to even out the constant play of the expanding and the contracting forces: those of power and engagement with those of broadening and stretching. A daily schedule of alternating contracting and expanding activities gives your child time to run and play, as well as sit and learn.  Alternating between the two is the most effective way for your child to process new information.

Here’s a typical Waldorf day:
• opening verse
• daily activity
• independent play (inside)
• clean up
• circle time
• independent play (outside)
• story, puppetry, drama
• closing verse

Songs and verses are very popular with Waldorf, as they contribute to the daily rhythm. When children hear the verses, related to specific activities, the transition to these activities becomes smoother. Many verses are available in A Journey through Time in Verse and Rhyme, a book of poetry, verses for morning and evening, blessings and meditations for parents and teachers.

According to Waldorf theory, when a family gathers for their evening meal, it’s a good idea to use place mats, decorated by the kids. Dinner becomes an art project. The place mats can be drawn, sewn, knit. They can have ornaments, glued to them or you can try patchwork – most importantly they should be lovingly decorated as a family art project. Then, there should always be a candle and a prayer. If you are not religious, something like:

” Thank you, Earth, for growing our food,” is good enough.

Keeping a consistent daily and weekly schedule, simple chores and activities, outside play – are crucial tools for raising happy kids, according to the Waldorf philosophy and I wholeheartedly agree. What do you do to keep a sense of rhythm in your child’s life?

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My husband bought some whole wheat bread today.  He doesn’t like the taste of the sprouted grain bread I buy ( the one that needs to be stored in the freezer.) After quickly glancing at the list of the ingredients in this new whole wheat bread, I became as determined as ever to buy a bread maker and start using it! Preservatives, dough conditioners, vegetable shortening, aluminium sulphate  –  are some of the ingredients of  the bread, which is marketed as a “healthier” choice!

 

Do you know of any links to good healthy bread recipes I can use?

A friend asked me for some quick an easy recipes for a family of three, which includes an 8-month old baby. I realized that I could post every puree recipe on the face of the Earth,or I could simply share my views on feeding babies and children. 


In this country, babies and children are sometimes viewed as creatures from another world, when it comes to nutrition. They usually get “special” food. Almost any otherwise health-conscious restaurant has the worst crap on their menu, listed under “kids” section. So, you can enjoy some grilled sea bass with roasted root vegetables, while your kid is chewing on his chicken nuggets and drinking some purple soda, which doesn’t exist in nature. Why do we deprive our next generation of quality food, when they are the ones that are still  growing and needing more nutrients than we do?

“But  my kids won’t eat anything healthy,” – I must have heard this phrase a thousand times. If you leave your kids to make their own choices in life before they are ready to do so intelligently, not only they will have a chocolate bar for every meal, they will probably not study and do all kinds of other unhealthy things. We are responsible for our children’s choices and that includes the choice of what they put in their mouths. Yes, they do need some degree of freedom, but they also need boundaries. When it comes to food, healthy boundaries for children sound like: ” Would you like your carrots in a salad or would you prefer roasted carrots for dinner?” They do not include “carrots, like everyone else” or “chicken nuggets just for you.”

Back in the day,  meals used to be family time.  Everyone ate the same thing, lovingly prepared by a family member. Nobody made anything special for children, unless it was their birthday. Today, we have commercially prepared baby purees, frozen dinners, and teenagers, getting  take out and eating it in their room in front of their TV for dinner.

Food is nourishment, but it’s also a ritual of love and union. When my family gathers for a meal every night, it is very special: we share stories about our day’s happenings and we all eat the same food. I believe one of the first ways to teach your child healthy eating habits is to start with a similar ritual. Healthy food is food you share with others. Healthy food is food prepared at home with love.

And, back to the subject of what to feed your 8-month old baby, take some of that healthy food, prepared with love and mash it up with fork or in the food processor. There is always a vegetable or a grain you can feed your baby, if you eat grains and veggies yourselves. Trying to give your baby a kale puree can become the story you later tell your grandchildren ( I know, we do.) Leaving some squash for the baby before the squash goes into the dinner casserole makes your baby part of the family from his or her first bites of solid food a lot more than a jar of baby food ever would.

Oh, and do breastfeed. And eat a balanced diet while you do so. The baby will get introduced to all kinds of flavors through your breast milk, so these flavors better be of something other than Diet Coke and potato chips. This early introduction to family foods would prove very beneficial later at the family table, with Junior wearing a bib and proudly inhaling an avocado.

  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • craving for sweets
  • craving for caffeine
  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • inability to focus
  • constant hunger
All of these are possible warning signs about the fact that your diet is not working for you. If, within two hours of eating a meal you are hungry, tired and craving sweets and/or caffeine, you can almost be 100% sure that your meal was not perfectly balanced and tailored to your needs at the moment. These needs can vary from person to person and from time to time.  Some of us require more protein, while some thrive on a vegan diet, some prefer crunchy foods and others would do well on a diet based on smoothies and juices.
My first solutions for any of the aforementioned problems are: more protein and more nutrients.
Usually when we consume processed foods, devoid of healthy nutrients, we constantly feel tired. For example, if you had a slice of white bread with some strawberry jam for breakfast and some coffee with it, how soon afterwards would you feel exhausted and need that second cup of java? That’s right, pretty soon. And you would feel tired until lunch.  Try an apple, a bowl of whole grain oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg instead of your toast with jam and see if you have noticed any difference in your energy level. The latter is an example of a balanced breakfast, which is high in nutrients, yet low in sugar.
If you had a salad for lunch and that salad included only vegetables, you are likely to want a chocolate bar an hour later.  Protein deficiency is probably to blame for your chocolate cravings in this case. Try to eat your salad with some nuts, seeds or tofu or chicken and include 1/2 a palm-sized serving of whole grains with it, and see if you’ll want that chocolate bar, after all.
And… the more junk we eat , the more junk we want, because junk foods and processed sugary foods contribute to nutritional imbalance, which, in turn, creates more food cravings. There is no way around whole and natural food consumption, if you’d like to stop food cravings.

Recently I read this piece about sunscreen safety.  Apparently, typical sunscreens we cover ourselves and our kids with contain one more of these potential dangerous chemicals:

Dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. Other chemicals on this list have been connected to things like  cancer and hormonal imbalance.

I have been using Kiss My Face Sunscreeen for a few years. I love how light this cream is and how easily it absorbs into the skin, without leaving a typical white residue. I also like how it gives me and my family great sun protection without the dangerous chemicals. It is available in a spray bottle, as a cream or even as a sunblock stick.

What else can be done to protect the skin agains harmful UV-rays?

Nutrition helps, like it does with everything else.

Antioxidant-rich foods have been linked to good sun-protection of the skin. As pesticide residue can deplete the body’s antioxidant supplies,  it’s always better to choose certified organic foods.

1. Green tea’s  epigallocatechins directly block DNA damage from UV light, which has been demonstrated in studies involving human skin cells.

2. Moderate amounts of sunlight are helpful, as they provide us with vitamin D. A good buildup of this vitamin is essential, if you’d like to avoid sunburn. Dr. Mercola recommends staying in the sun until the skin turns light pink (for Caucasian skin.)

3. Phytonutrients lycopene in tomatoes and phenols in olive oil have been linked to better sun protection by a German study.

 Vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium all are good antioxidants that protect the skin against sun damage.

4. For vitamin C, try kiwis, oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, papaya,  and strawberries.

5. For vitamin E, try  sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, egg yolks and dark green leafy vegetables.

6. For selenium, try  mushrooms and fish.  Buying wild-caught fish is better,  because pesticide and antibiotic residues in farmed fish deplete the body’s antioxidant supplies.

7. Limonene and ellagic acid are other sun-protective nutrients. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes,  are rich in limonene and berries, such as blueberries and rasberries are rich in ellagic acid.

I always have quinoa leftovers. I also usually have some veggies in the fridge. Combining the two typically produces delicious entrees or side dishes. Tonight I cooked one, using my brand new Xtrema pot I bought off dr. Mercola’s website. Xtrema cookware looks sleek, is easy to clean, can be used both on the stove, in the oven or in a microwave and most importantly, it does not leak heavy metals into foods. My new pot exceeded my expectations: it heated the food evenly, nothing stuck to it,’ it kept the food warm for a while afterwards and it looked really good. I am happy to know that my new pots and pans are going to not just be pretty and cook foods well, but also contribute to my family’s health. Anyway, here’s what i made:

Yummy Quinoa Dish

Ingredients:

Quinoa, cooked- 3 cups

Carrots, grated – 3/4 cup

Broccoli florets – 1/2  cup

Onions, diced -1 medium

Tofu, cubed – 1 cup (or use cooked chicken instead)

Zucchini, chopped -1 medium

Parsley, chopped  – 1/2 cup

Braggs Aminos 2 tbsp

Olive oil – 1/4cup

Garlic – 2 cloves, diced

Paprika to taste

Warm up 1/2 of the olive oil in the  pan. Add the onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add the  Braggs and the tofu (or chicken. ) Saute for another 4 mins, or until the tofu has a little crust. Add the remaining oil, the carrots , the parsley and the broccoli. Lower the flame, cover with the lid and let simmer for another 2 mins. Add some water, if things are getting sticky. Add the remaining veggies and let simmer for two more minutes. Mix in the  quinoa. Taste and add the  spices. Let simmer for another 2  minutes.

Image credit

I love carrot ginger dressing with pretty much anything. It is wonderful 0n salads, especially the ones with avocado. It’s great as a grain topping and it even works with some meats. Try it as a dip, too! The amount in this recipe makes enough  dressing for a large salad.

Carrot, peeled and chopped  1 large
Onion, peeled and  chopped     1/4
Chopped fresh ginger               2 tbsp
Sweet white miso                       2 tbsp
Orange juice                                1/4 cup

Rice vinegar                                2 tbsp

Toasted sesame seed oil       2 tbsp
Grape seed oil                          1/4 cup

Salt to taste

Put the carrots, the onion and the ginger in a blender and process until finely chopped. Add the miso, the vinegar, the sesame oil, the grapeseed oil and the juice. Blend until smooth.

image:m_bartosch

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