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You don’t have to be Australia’s best chef to make baby food at home. In fact, it is quite simple and the advantages are endless. By being homemade, bub will be eating foods free from preservatives and harmful chemicals. It also sets up your children with a love for healthy eating right from the start, making them appreciate fresh, wholesome food.

TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

The tools needed to make baby food are staples already lying around the kitchen. Not many are needed – minimal equipment will still make delicious food.

Blender or food processor

 Options like the Chicco 4-1 baby blender or Cherub Baby steamer blender are good options if looking to purchase. Otherwise, any blender that makes smoothies or purees food will work. If the blender is older, add an extra dash of liquid to make food a smooth consistency. 

Ice cube trays

 If the ice-cubes are calling these home already, check the local op shop to stock up on trays for an inexpensive price.

Steamer basket or insert

 This is needed to steam the food for purees. Steamer inserts can fit more produce but both will get the job done.

 Other tools include:

  • Baking sheet
  • Saucepans
  • Peelers
  • Spatulas
  • Knives
  • Freezer bags
  • Storage containers

COOKING TIPS

Main cooking techniques include steaming, roasting, baking or microwaving until food becomes tender. To preserve the nutrients from fruit and vegetables, opt for steaming not boiling and if ripe, they don’t need to be cooked at all.

Once cooled, transfer to a food processor of choice and blend for one to two minutes. Slowly add water, breastmilk or formula to reach a desired consistency – which ultimately should glide off the spoon.

Enhance taste and your baby’s palette by adding herbs and spices like sea salt, ginger, cinnamon and rosemary.

 STORAGE

Food will need to be kept in airtight containers, freezer bags or ice cube trays. Before transferring to the fridge or freezer, allow food to cool. Ice cube storage allows flavour combinations to be created as the small dosages of food can be mixed and matched.

The storage timeline for baby food is up to four days in the fridge, two months in the freezer for purees with meat and beans and up to three months in the freezer for fruit purees.

Labelling containers with the date and what is inside will allow for no confusion when choosing baby’s next meal.

RECIPES

Recipes from Babyfoode.com

Apple and coconut milk baby puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp cloves

 Method:

  1. Put the apples, coconut milk and cloves in a medium saucepan and cover. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until apples can be cut in half with a spoon. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth.

Broccoli and olive oil puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups broccoli – chopped into small florets
  • 1 small potato or apple – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

 Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to boil over medium heat.
  2. Place broccoli and potato (or apple) into a steamer basket and place over boiling water. Cover and steam for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly.
  3. Add the broccoli, potato (or apple) and olive oil into a blender and puree until smooth, adding water from the steamer in ¼ increments if needed.

Mango and Vanilla puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen mango
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or a pinch of fresh vanilla bean seeds

 Method:

  1. Put frozen mango and vanilla extract/bean into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Stir often until heated all the way through and tender roughly 3-4 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer into a blender. If mango mixture gets an excess of liquid while cooking, strain mangos and reserve liquid into a bowl.
  3. Blend on high for 1 minute or until the puree is smooth.

You know that what you put into your body affects how you look, but do you know how the foods you eat can benefit or hinder your overall health? With modern nutritional science, dieticians and other experts know precisely how and why different foods cause changes in the human body and what an optimal diet looks like.

However, just because science has discovered the facts about healthy eating doesn’t mean everyone is going to adopt the best possible diet necessarily. As humans, we tend to poison ourselves with things that give us short-term happiness but contribute to long-term health issues (such as smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol), but healthy eating will have a long-term positive impact on your happiness.

If you want to live as long as possible and avoid chronic health conditions later in life, you should switch to a healthy diet. The following will examine some common dietary lifestyle behaviours and how they affect your health.

Leaning on takeaway meals

One trend that’s becoming more noticeable with younger generations is a lack of ability and will to cook at home. Even people who rent apartments or buy houses with lovely kitchens will never touch them other than to use the microwave or prepare something simple like scrambled eggs.

This is because spending a little extra money to avoid cooking and have a pizza delivered or go through a drive-thru is more convenient than learning to cook. This is especially true for people who may be overworked and find it too difficult to prepare food from scratch every evening when they feel exhausted.

If you want to cook healthier recipes at home and still enjoy the convenience of home delivery, then a meal-kit delivery service could be the perfect answer. This involves having fresh ingredients delivered to your front door along with easy instructions that remove a lot of the often frustrating and dull parts of cooking that might have preciously dissuaded you from giving it a go.

Consuming too much sugar

Too much of a good thing never turns out well, and our relationship with sugar over the decades has become one of the leading causes of issues like obesity in modern society. In our quest to make food taste better we have become accustomed to seasoning all our food, even savoury dishes that you wouldn’t typically classify as being sweet.

It can be hard to avoid the consumption of sugar when it seems to be everywhere that we go and prevalent in so many social activities. For example, going to the cinemas with friends often mean stopping by the snack bar and buying sweets to snack on while you enjoy the film together, and you might feel like you are missing out on the full experience if you refrain.

You should try to make a commitment to consume less sugar and let your friends and loved ones know about it, so they don’t pressure you or put you in situations where consuming sugar is encouraged. Doing this won’t just help you, but it will also inspire others to follow suit and enjoy the health benefits of reducing sugar from their diets by making the switch to low sugar alternatives or simply not consuming as many sweetened products.

Eating too much red meat

Over the last few years, the vegan movement has caused millions to swear off the consumption of animal products to promote a more sustainable and ethical relationship between humans and animals. While the choice to become vegan or not is still a personal one for many people, you should be aware of the net negative effect that overconsumption of red meat can have.

While there is still a lot of debate around red meat, with biases that inform opinions on both sides, there’s no doubt that it is possible to consume too much of it. Studies have shown that many types of red meat are high in saturated fats that can contribute towards issues like cholesterol, which is notorious for clogging arteries and stressing the heart, potentially leading to heart failure. Also, the cooking of red meat (especially on smoky grills), can produce carcinogens in the meat, which are known to contribute to the development of some cancers.

Summary

After your genetics, your diet is the primary determining factor in your health and well-being. Proper nutrition is the basis from which healthy and long-lived people operate, so if you want to enjoy the benefits then you might need to think about changing some of your eating habits.

Community Educator at Ngala, Stephanie Fairbairn, explores some reasons toddlers become averse to vegetables, and suggests some strategies for getting them to eat more greens.

Have you ever wondered why your once-vegetable-loving baby turned into a vege-phobic toddler at around 14-18 months of age? Why does this happen, and how can we get them back on track with their greens?

Firstly, developmentally, toddlers have a growing sense of independence and this self-determination can also sometimes affect their food preferences. They push boundaries and some tend to say “no” a lot.

Scientists studying behaviour and evolutionary adaptation have proposed some fascinating possible reasons for this. In other words, how humans adapted to their environment in order to survive. Scientists have put forward the idea that babies being carried by an adult in the ancient savannah were relatively safe from harm and potential hazards, but as soon as they became mobile and independent, self-protecting behaviours had to kick in to prevent them from putting anything and everything into their mouths.

This applies particularly to green vegetables. Spinach, broccoli and other green leafy veg possess a group of chemical compounds that provide an ‘alkaloid’ taste – think of the smell when we’ve left the brussel sprouts on too long. Plants have sophisticated defence mechanisms, like spikes, thorns, stingers and chemical poisons to dissuade from being eaten, and many poisons have bitterness as a hallmark taste whereas sweetness tends to be ‘safe’, like breast milk – hence our preference for sweet tastes. The aversion to bitter taste is heightened at toddlerhood, to alert them to potentially harmful things to eat.

The aversion to bitter taste is heightened at toddlerhood, to alert them to potentially harmful things to eat.

To test this theory, researchers from Yale University in the US conducted an experiment with toddlers, looking at how they interacted with non-food items like wooden spoons, metal toys and cardboard, compared to green leafy plants. They found that the toddlers were significantly less likely to touch the green leafy items compared to the other objects, and took longer to reach out to them. There is also research to show that humans are likely to possess a gene that makes us particularly sensitive to detecting bitterness from our taste receptors. As children have more taste sensitivity than adults by nature of their age, adults may not taste flavours as sensitively as children.

 

All this is very interesting, but how do we overcome the battle to get our toddlers to eat their greens? There are several strategies that we can put into practice:

  • What tends to work in the long term so that we enjoy our five vegetables and two fruit a day later in life, is for parents to be seen to role model eating a variety of vegetables and fruit at mealtimes and snacks. You may have noticed already that your toddler copies your actions; what you say, do, and items you use (think mobile phones!). You may have also noticed that there are times they eat food off your plate that they would never eat off their own, this is down to feeling safe to eat food you eat. 
  • Have a fruit bowl in the middle of the table for visibility and accessibility. Think creatively about how you prepare and serve vegetables – cut them in different shapes, use a crinkle cutter, keep vegetables raw rather than cooked, use a dip or sauce, get your toddler to help you wash vegetables and put them on a plate.
  • Be persistent and patient – it can take many times presenting the food to your toddler before it’s accepted.
  • Let your toddler help themselves from a serving plate on the table. 
  • Grow something simple like herbs or tomatoes with your toddler – it’s worth the effort and they learn along the way.
  • Google it! If you are fresh out of ideas pick the brains of millions of others who have gone before. Pinterest and image sites are a good resource for triggering your imagination and creativity.
  • Offer healthy foods and snacks. If your toddler refuses to eat their vegetables, it does not mean they get rewarded with non-healthy food.
  • Relax! We are working towards a long-term habit not a mandatory daily chore. Vegetable success will only come when your child gets there in his own time.
  • Remember, toddler’s tummies are tiny – appropriate servings at this age are two vegetable and two fruit a day – about the size of their own fist.

Remember, toddler’s tummies are tiny – appropriate servings at this age are two vegetable and two fruit a day – about the size of their own fist.

 Unhelpful strategies include:

  • Force feeding: You might win the battle, but you lose the war in the longer term.
  • Cheerleading! Parents who get really excited their two-year-old has finally put the broccoli up to their mouth should not be surprised that this overly emotional response encourages the toddler to press their emotional buttons by putting it down again. It’s a great game!
  • Bribing: ‘If you eat your carrots now, you get ice-cream later’ – this will tend to create a negative association that ‘I have to eat the nasty stuff to get the good stuff’.
  • Telling a toddler that a particular vegetable is good for them and therefore they should eat it. You can try this strategy, but toddlers are not that easily convinced – and it may become the trigger sentence that reinforces an automatic ‘No’.

Check out further information and parenting workshops at www.ngala.com.au

Hydration is the key to beating feelings of dizziness and nausea while exercising.

Dear Dr. Benson,

I work out three to four times per 5 day week and keep fairly active on weekends. Of late, I’ve been experiencing some light-headedness while doing weights, and a few times following workouts have been experiencing nausea or vomiting.

A deciding factor in the nausea episodes seems to be where I work out, as the upstairs area of the gym has lots of air conditioners and the downstairs area has a low roof and feels quite hot, and although I do different exercises in both locations, there are some cross-overs during which I find I have less trouble in the better ventilated area. Dizziness has been experienced at both. There are occasionally times it has been experienced during the working day, although this normally follows periods of high stress or poor sleep, so I have not really been highly concerned with it. I’m also experiencing lethargy far earlier in my workouts that I was a few months ago.

I’m not sure if it’s a dietary thing or if it’s something I should see a GP about. It’s certainly the case that if my food consumption is slightly increased, I experience dizziness less frequently, although if I increase it significantly, then vomiting and nausea increases during workouts (this, I assume, is more related to undigested food in the stomach as blood is diverted to the muscles than to anything else).

I take protein supplements post-workout and occasionally pre-workout if I lack the time at work for a mid-morning snack. My first meal is usually around 8am and the post-workout consumption is about 1pm, sometimes 2pm. Consistency of mid-morning meals is erratic at best- maybe one day out of five, as usually I get swamped with work.

Is this likely to be a simple case of needing a greater energy intake? Could it be related to blood sugar? Or should I consider seeing a GP just in case?

Kind regards, 

Reuben

Dear Reuben,

Obviously it would be important for you to see your GP for a basic check up and blood tests to rule out any significant problem.  If these episodes of dizziness, nausea and vomiting are also associated with headaches for example, your GP should do a thorough neurological examination to ensure that there is no intracranial pathology.

However it is possible that your symptoms are related to either the environment, as you have identified with it being more likely to happen in hotter, less ventilated areas; or occasionally these symptoms can be due to hyperventilation that occurs in some people when they work out and lift heavy weights, so ensure your breathing is slow and controlled.

More possible though I feel that it may actually be the result of low blood sugar and/ or some dehydration during your workouts, which leads us to a good discussion on exercise hydration and nutrition advice…

The fluid and energy you consume before, during, and after an exercise session are all equally important, not only to optimise your performance (and hence the effectiveness of your work-out), but also to maintain comfort and hence make the experience more enjoyable.

 

Before exercise it is important to drink at least 500mls of water in the 2 hrs leading up, including 200mls of water  in the 15 minutes before starting;

You also need to eat an easily digested carbohydrate 1-4 hours leading up e.g. fruit such as banana, pasta, potato, rice, breakfast cereal, etc.

Protein is too heavy pre-exercise, and won’t provide a source of quick acting energy.

During exercise you should aim to drink at least 200mls of water or sports drink every 20 minutes.

If you don’t use a sports drink, make sure you have some form of quickly digested carbohydrate at least once an hour e.g. fruit, sports bars etc.

 

After exercise you should drink at least 500-1000mls of water in the 2 hours following

(until your urine is clear!), and eat a source of carbohydrate and protein e.g. fruit smoothie, nutritional supplement drink, yoghurt, etc.

If you are trying to gain muscle, adding protein powders is useful here.