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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cute Names for my Kids

Every blogger has them, but I am stumped. What do I call my kids to protect their relative anonymity? Until recently I had been going with wee man and baby boy both of which are not really that great, far too non descriptive and generic. I was thinking of going for first initial – that works well for my first son, I get to call him Master C, but with my second son we end up with Mister T. Which is a little corny. Plus the whole thing is a little bit 'done to death'

I live in envy of my friend and fellow blogger who writes about composing music and sustainable living. Her children are D major and D minor. Too perfect for words. I thought about copying but C major and T minor isn’t going to work no matter how cute it sounds.

Then there are the various bloggers who have cute little nicknames, which invariably have an ‘awwwwww’ response. Except my sons don’t have cute nicknames, at least not blog appropriate ones and they change every other week so it doesn’t really work for me. My husband suggested Drop-bear and marshmallow, I almost died of cute but I’m not quite sure.

I guess I could use their real names, two of my favourite bloggers do, The Feminist Breeder and Donnelle. But I don’t know if I can do that, while I realise that the world of blogging is anything but private I feel I owe my sons some modicum of their own identity. Besides which I don’t know if I am up to being criticised by random internet strangers for Ruining Their Lives Forever.

I toyed with the idea of naming them as per their favourite activity, so for my 3yr old that would be ‘dragun slayer’ and for my 5 month old that would be ‘boob eater’, though these things are bound to change and then do I update them? Could they become lego-man and bike-rider or even door-slammer and tantrum-lord.

I have been toying with Longshanks and Shortstack but worry that describing them will limit them somehow. It’s not like shortstack is going to be short for the rest of his life and it seems a bit unfair to label them with physical attributes they may outgrow.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 crossed my mind but I dismissed it almost immediately for lack of originality, Wocket and Sneetch got dismissed for almost identical reasons, though Lorax is appealing.

I asked my 3 year old what the names should be, he rattled off his full name and address and this his brothers full name with alacrity. Apparently my husband has been teaching him to do this in case he gets lost, I love my husband, especially when he thinks of things like this. Now we just have to hope our wee man doesn’t go declaring his full name and address to kiddy snatchers or burglars. At least he didn’t get the middle names quite right which would make it harder for someone to steal his identity, turns out his middle name is ‘Jacket’ and his brothers middle name is ‘Brick’ could these work? I don’t know

Maybe you could help me out?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Power of Touch: Infant Massage

The simple action of touching someone is a powerful thing, right from when baby is born we are encouraged to have skin to skin contact with them. This is because something as simple as a touch can have a potent effect on how our babies do. Babies who are enabled to have direct skin to skin contact with their mothers after being born have more stable temperatures, more consistent heart beat and breathing rates and a more stable blood sugar. Many hospitals are now instigating kangaroo care as part of their premature baby care because being close to mother has a positive effect on baby’s vital signs and improves their ability to thrive. 

Touch can also benefit the mother enabling her to bond via release of oxytocin and promoting the instinct to nurture. Oxytocin is not just essential in labour it is also responsible for bonding, love and milk let-down. Because of this this skin to skin contact and touch has been shown to have a positive impact on breastfeeding, both in initiation to breastfeed and to the promotion of longer duration in the breastfeeding relationship. Touch is one of the key elements to promoting and protecting the parent/child dyad.

Most health carers and scientists tend to agree, there isn’t anything bad that can be said about touch.  In fact touch is a key part of human development which is why baby or infant massage can be such a positive part of the parent/child relationship. Diane Ackerman, the author of 'A Natural History of the Senses,' says, "Touch is a sense with unique functions and qualities ... Touch affects the whole organism." and this has been shown time and time again to be true. 
Tiffany Field,  who is a leader in the field of touch, found that premature newborns receiving just three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day for 5-10 days gained 47 percent more weight than premature infants who had just received standard medical treatment alone. Even as adults we do not thrive well without touch as this article shows. 

I did a baby massage course of with a group of lovely ladies from my antenatal class when my first son was just little. It was such a lovely way to bond with him. It can be hard as a new mother to know what to do with your child when they are brand new. Often it becomes a cycle of sleep cry feed cry change cry cuddle jiggle and you feel like you lose touch with your baby. Infant massage is an ideal way to find a little place of peace in the maelstrom of new motherhood – for both of you, and don’t under estimate the benefit massage can have for fathers and their newborns, it’s the ultimate way of bonding. While mothers and fathers both respond to oxytocin and have equivalent amounts, men have different oxytocin triggers, touch being one of the primary ones. Massage is a potent tool that can help promote sleep and reduce fussing and crying.

Baby massage as we know it now has its founding ayurvedic principles, though there is evidence to show it is a key part of infant rearing in many cultures, in fact the practice of massaging babies is an art passed down from generation to generation and has been evidenced in parenting dating back over 3000 years and in regions as diverse as India, Africa, Asia, and  even in New Zealand in Rongoa Maori. The art of touching your child in a healing way is lovely to watch in practice and witnessing the response in your child is a powerful communication.

Here are some key reasons to give baby massage a go:

  • Relaxing. Loving touch lessens tension, fussiness and irritability. Massage is also a wonderful way to lessen stress in parent and baby.
  • Digestion. Digestion is aided  by massage as it can provide relief from gas and colic.
  • Bonding. Touch conveys nurturing and love, the essential ingredients for emotional and physical growth and well being. It also releases oxytocin which is the bonding hormone.
  • Growth. Studies have shown increased weight gain and immune function.
  • Communication. Parents become more aware of baby’s nonverbal cues. One-on-one communication instills a baby with confidence of love and security.
  • Sleep. As your infant learns to relax and release stress, sounder and longer sleep is often the end result.

Here are some of the techniques I learnt. It’s important to note that I am not an infant massage expert and am offering this information only as an introduction to the skill. The key thing is to remember that infant massage is about the touch and not any therapeutic manipulation.  Most strokes are done with an open hand and are gentle broad manoeuvres.

It is a good idea, though not necessary to use an oil or massage balm, almond oil or olive oil are both good though almond is to be avoided for children with a history of nut allergies in the family. I prefer my own homemade balm made out of beeswax and olive oil because it doesn’t drip and takes longer to absorb so you use less. It is also warmer on the skin.

Before beginning it’s important to ask permission of your baby, people who are not familiar with the concept of communicating with your child even at very young ages  might feel awkward or a little dorky doing this (I don’t need a lot of help in this area) but it is amazing how quickly a baby will pick up on your cues and respond. My way of asking would be to rub my hands together as I warmed up the balm and verbally ask if he would like a massage. Whenever he saw me do this he would relax and coo. If you signal your intent to massage and your baby turns their head away or protects their body with their arms or even cries then now is not a good time. Try again later.

Notice the eye contact that baby is making

You also want to set the mood, gentle music or quiet is preferable as well as dim lights and a warm room. Try and block off any drafts as baby can get cool very quickly when they are naked. The basic principles of baby massage are to start from the feet up and to use gentle non invasive strokes.  You can do as little or as much as you want to while baby enjoys it.

Legs leg massage is a great entry point and is very non threatening for baby, these techniques also translate well to older children who might get growing pains or stiffness from sport and play. It is a lovely way to reconnect with older children.

1.       Indian Milking: Start at the legs and move your hands down from the thigh down to the ankle twisting as you go, much like you would wring water from your hair. Your hand will be in a ‘C’ shape and one hand will follow the other, as one finishes at the ankle the other is starting at the top. This is known as Indian milking. You want to imagine the stress and tension moving down and out of the legs.

2.       Rolling: Then you want to release the legs by cradling them in your hands and roll them gently like you would roll out a playdough snake and then gently rocking them to encourage baby to relax.

3.       Stroking the ankles: Moving on to the ankles you can use your finger tips to gently use little strokes up  across the foot and towards where the ankle meets the foot, this area has a growth plate and can be sore so this is a really lovely relaxing stroke for growing babies.

4.       Piggies: Next up you can wiggle each on of the toes and sing the little piggy song, you can sing whichever song you want but this one lends itself nicely to toe wiggling

5.       Walking fingers: On the sole of the foot use your fingertips to gently knead  wand walk them over  the whole foot pad.

6.       Hooked finger: Then using the crook of your finger stroke the sole of your baby’s foot, this can stimulate the plantar reflex.

7.       Swedish milking: Finish up the legs with Swedish milking which is identical to Indian milking but instead moves from the ankle to the hip, as a rule all Swedish massage moves from the extremities to the heart and this promotes lymph movement which is a passive system generally.

Stomach – stomach strokes are fantastic for trapped lower wind, colic and fussing. They are beneficial for constipation and bloating. Because of the positioning of the large intestine it is vital that all of the strokes follow a clockwise direction otherwise any gas issues can be exacerbated. Gentle clockwise strokes can help move everything in the right direction.

1.       Waterwheel: Using the sides of your hands, make paddling strokes on baby’s stomach, one hand following the other, as if you were scooping sand toward yourself. Start below the ribs and move into the lower abdomen. Stroke hand over hand with a gentle but firm pressure.

2.       Thumb stroking: With your thumbs at the level of baby’s bellybutton, stroke out to the sides. Be gentle and do not poke.

3.       Sun and Moon: Your left hand begins by making a full circle on baby’s stomach, moving clockwise. Your right hand makes a half circle or crescent moon in a clockwise direction, then lift your right hand up and over your left hand making the continuous circular ‘sun’ strokes.  Repeat the sun moon pattern.

4.       I Love You: This is a three-part stroke, which spells out the message ‘I love you’ to the baby. Baby loves a gentle voice saying ‘I love you’ as you share this stroke. To make the I move the hands down the left hand side of your baby’s torso (their left not yours) then an upside down and backwards L shape that runs across the bottom of the ribs and follows the path of the I. The last stroke is a U shape that goes up the right side of baby’s torso, across the bottom of the ribs and then down the left side.

5.       Palm roll: Putting the heel of your palm on the right lower side of baby’s chest slowly roll the hand like you are placing a palm print on their belly applying a gentle but firm even pressure as you rock the hand over.

Torso - often baby will protect their chest with their folded arms, this is a natural response.  Hopefully the leg massage will have relaxed them sufficiently but if they haven't yet relaxed you can help them by starting with the open book stroke.

1.       Open Book: . Stroke from the center to the side of baby’s chest, following the rib cage, as if you are smoothing the pages of a book using the flats of your hands. Bring your hands around in a heart-shaped motion to the center again and repeat the stroke.

2.       Butterfly: Begin with both hands at baby’s sides, at the bottom of the rib cage. Move your right hand across baby’s chest diagonally to baby’s right shoulder. Massage the shoulder very gently. Move your hand down across baby’s chest to its original position. Repeat with your left hand moving up and across to baby’s left shoulder. Follow one hand after the other, rhythmically crisscrossing baby’s chest.

Arms – the arms are much like the legs, most of the techniques are identical, though babies may not be as relaxed letting you rub their arms so approach it gently and with respect

1.       Indian milking: Do as you did for the legs, starting at the upper arm and moving down to the wrist

2.       Rolling: Roll the upper arm gently between your hands and then carry the weight of the arm and gently jiggle to release

3.       Stroking the wrist: Gently using your fingertips stroke the top of the hand towards the wrist

4.       Fingertips: Using your fingertips gently stroke from the base of baby’s fingers to the tips, using a gently pincer grasp to get both sides.

5.       Palms: Using your thumb trace circles on baby’s palm

Back – baby has to be comfortable on their tummy to use these strokes, brand new babies may not enjoy this . Some alternatives to lying them on the floor are to lay baby across your knees or lie back with them on your stomach.  While your baby is on their stomach you can talk to them to reassure them you are there.

1.       Back and forth: Begin with both hands together at the top of baby’s back. Glide your relaxed hands back and forth, in opposite directions, going down the back to the buttocks, then up to the shoulders, and back down again.

2.       Swooping: Cup baby’s bum with one hand. Beginning at baby’s neck, your other hand glides down smoothly to the buttocks. Repeat the swooping stroke several times
3.       Long swooping: Support the baby’s feet with one hand and repeat the swooping strokes with your other hand moving all the way down the legs to baby’s feet.

4.       Circles: Use your fingertips to massage small circles on both sides of baby’s spine moving all over the back. Be sure to massage small circles on baby’s hips and buttocks, too. Avoid doing these circles directly on the spine.

5.       Combing: With your hand open and fingers spread apart, gently comb baby’s back starting at the neck and moving to the bum. Your strokes become gradually lighter each time. Repeat several times. End with a very light feather touch. You may also begin with baby’s head and stroke down the back. Be aware that with very little babies they should not be given light touch massage as it can be over stimulating . Keep strokes firm and in full contact until baby is older at around the 5-7 month mark.

Finishing – finish whenever baby tells you they are ready. Whether that is by starting to fuss, turning their head away or closing their body up.

1.       Finish by picking up your baby and cuddling them. Be careful as they can be quite slippery! 

I I hope this helps you establish a loving communication of touch with your baby. Enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pediculosis capitis – say what now?

Headlice are ‘orrible. They are the bane of any parents with children who engage in social activities. They are very small parasitic wingless insects that live on the scalp of human beings. They have six legs, each with strong claws to hold tightly to the hair or scalp and range from near transparent white to dark brown. Head lice lay eggs called Nits.  The Nit eggs are yellowish white and oval-shaped.  Nits are attached to the shafts of the hair close to the scalp so they are kept warm in order to incubate. Ewwww. The eggs of head lice hatch in about 7-10 days. The egg-to-egg cycle is about 3-4 weeks. The eggs are resistant to most treatments and cannot be washed out – you can see what we are up against. 

Headlice, not the next great toy

Treating once will only kill the live nits and because they transfer effectively from head to head contact, clothing and linen, a deep infestation can be almost impossible to clear.

A little note came up at preschool a few weeks ago, ‘WARNING WE HAVE NITS’ and they even helpfully put up a laminated example of a real nit and a real louse.  I instantly got the heeby jeebies. I felt itchy right away but couldn’t itch myself for fear of looking like a lice infested hobo. My head had been itchy anyway due to the 3 month post partum moult but now with every itch I imagined a horde of shiny little bodies crawling over my head. Every night I badgered my husband to check me for lice and I have been watching my son like a hawk to see if he itches.
With lice, prevention is always ALWAYS better than cure, but before you assume all the louse ridden children are poor, undernourished and unclean you should know that headlice prefer clean scalps and nice juicy children (okay I just invented that last supposition but it makes sense). Since my son is clearly nit free I can safely assume he has a nice grubby scalp

How do you prevent headlice?

Aside from having dyed hair (not an option for most kids) and leaving your hair dirty (probably a preferred option with most kids) there are a couple of things you can do to make your childs head less tenable. With short hair, putting gel or product in it before your children are likely to be in head lice contact is a cunning move and with long hair, tight plaits or tied up hairstyles with hairspray are effective too. Another tactic is to make sure children are not sharing hats or hairties.

Here is a recipe for home made, louse resistant, chemical free hairgel/spray you can make for pennies.

Manuka Hair Gel Recipe
2 teaspoons of powder gelatine (not heaped)
300ml warm water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
12 drops of manuka oil – you can also use teatree and add some lavender oil if you wish.

Mix the water, vinegar and gelatine together until dissolved and wait until it has set. Once it has set put it in your blender and blitz it whilst adding your essential oil. It should come out smooth like hair gel. To make it into a hairspray dissolve ½ a cup in 300ml of water approx and put into a spritzer bottle.

Ideally this will stop the lice in their tracks but assuming the lice are more persistent than that and you end up with an infestation you can still get rid of them without something toxic or nasty. In past days children would have been simply lined up at school and had their head dunked in a bucked of kerosene This is not to be recommended and can seriously burn the scalp.

First off how do you know if your child has lice?

Sometimes it can be hard to know. Most kids will be itchy and irritable, there may be red spots on their scalp which can become infected.It’s also possible for your child to have a headache, general malaise and even a rash or allergic response such as hives. In many cases however there may be no obvious signs of an infestation.

To check for lice you will need a comb and a bright light such as daylight or a torch to check the scalp. The nits or eggs are little white dots that sit on the hair shaft and the lice are little brown critters that dash across the scalp. Wetting the hair immobilises them and can make it easier to spot them. My mum used to sit me out in a sunny spot and check my scalp and pop any lice she found. All we needed were chimp suits. As an interesting note, girls are more prone to headlice than boys are. 

So what do you need to kill the headlice?

Some white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Some coconut milk (optional)
Some oil, olive or almond are best
Some teatree oil or manuka oil.
A nit comb

To treat headlice you need to commit to doing a few treatments over a 12 day period, this is because any nits or eggs you miss will hatch and start the whole cycle again and it’s easier to get them all in one fell swoop than to wait for each successive reinfestation. You also need to do every one in the house and you need to do the bedding and recently used clothes as well.

The first step of the treatment is to douse the hair in vinegar and leave for about half an hour, either with a spritzer bottle or using a flannel soaked in vinegar. A headband around the forhead and over the ears like a skier is a good way to stop drips from getting in eyes. It can stink like billy’o! Vinegar breaks down the glue which holds the nits onto the hair and can also help weaken or kill the lice.

The second step of the treatment is to mix 1 part coconut milk with 1 part oil and some drops of teatree oil and smother the whole head in this mix. The coconut milk makes it smoother and easier to comb later on. You need to leave this mix in for as long as possible. You can glad wrap it overnight if your children are a bit older and will tolerate it but for little children you may just have to deal with a goopy head for as long as you can manage. Even a little hat can hep the mix stay on. This blend smothers the lice and immobilises them.

The third step is to patiently comb all of the nits out using a nit comb, the easiest way is to divide it up into sections and comb it out piece by piece using an absorbent towel to collect the oil mix and hopefully the dead lice. Once this is completed it’s time for a nice hot hair wash and condition with a final rinse of vinegar (which makes you hair lovely and soft anyway).

If you don’t have oil and coconut milk you can use conditioner with a few drops of teatree or manuka oil in it. This is easier to comb and is just as good at smothering, but it is not terribly natural. It depends entirely on what hair regime you have.

Another tip is if your child has long hair and you have a straightening iron you can use the hot iron to straighten their hair and sizzle all of the headlice. You have to know that your child can sit still though… I cannot stress how important that is.

The fourth step is just as important, and that is to wash all of your linens, preferably on a hot wash with some teatree or manuka oil and then out through a hot cycle in your dryer or hang on the line for at least 2 days. Anything that can’t be washed can be bagged up and sealed which starves the little critters to death.

You can also get electric combs which zap them to death, which is significantly less fussing and bother especially with little children. However they don’t kill the nits so you will need to do it every couple of days for a fortnight and they are also expensive!

I forgot to mention the last part of the cure, a glass of wine to help soothe your nerves after the ordeal. This is possibly the most essential step.


After my spreadable butter success I have realised that making spreadable spreads is addictive. So is Pinterest. Finding recipes on Pinterest and making them is addictive. The nutella microwave mug cake recipe I found on pinterest is so addictive that it’s dangerous. I am not a massive nutella fan, but I did end up buying it simply to make the microwave mug cake. I’m that kind of person, I have an addictive kind of personality. I was pretty excited about my delicious nutella microwave mug cake, untilI read the ingredients list on Nutella.

Sugar, vegetable oil, hazelnuts (13%), cocoa powder (7.4%), non-fat milk solids, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavour (vanillin)

Just in case you are wondering the vegetable oil listed is palm oil, and since there is nothing mentioning that it is fair trade I’m going to go ahead and assume that it is not fair trade and that it is also highly refined palm oil. If you’re wondering why the use of palm oil bothers me check out this info on orang-utans.
Finding out that a supposedly healthy spread is only 13% hazel nuts and primarily sugar and palm oil is not a happy moment. In saying that I would happily go without, but my husband has a bit of a crush on nutella and I feel he has been having a closed doors affair with it behind my back because the tub I bought was full one day and almost empty the next. My microwave nutella mug cake has nothing to do with it of course…

Luckily, Pinterest provided me with a solution in the form of a recipe for home made nutella. I was excited! Until I realised I didn’t have chocolate or hazelnuts in the house. I also did not have milk powder… and come to think of it, how healthy is chocolate anyway? Back to the drawing board.

I decided to make up my own recipe based on ingredients I had, hopefully not a recipe for disaster. I muddled around with ingredients I had in the fridge, I tried to stick to healthy or whole foods. The resulting spread was not much like nutella (lacking the essential hazelnuts and chocolate) but instead tasted like a creamy coconut rough spread. It was scrummy! Here is the recipe.

Coconutella Recipe

1.5 cups of toasted almonds
3 heaping teaspoons of cocoa powder
¾ cup of milk
50gms of butter
50gms of coconut oil, maybe less. I can’t be sure. It was a chunk.
½ cup honey

These measurements are all approximate, I tend to just lug things in and hope for the best. Depending on the temperature of your fridge you may want to play with the ratios a bit. More milk will make it softer and more butter or coconut oil will make it firmer.

I toasted the almonds until they were golden, okay that’s a bit of a lie, I almost burned them. But they were still nice. Then I used my coffee grinder to grind them as fine as possible. After that I put the almonds in my blender with the coconut oil, honey and butter. In a saucepan I heated up the milk with the cocoa powder until it was bubbling around the edges. It’s important to heat the cocoa powder so that it doesn’t taste awful and goes a nice dark colour. I poured the hot milk over the mix and blended it. And blended it. And blended it… and then my machine started smoking, so I stopped. The resulting mix was quite liquidy but set pretty well in the fridge. The coconut oil had given it an amazing taste, like bounty bars or coconut rough. Not at all like nutella but something familiar and chocolatey.

I consider it a success.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Can't Believe it's Butter.

I have a butter problem, I love butter, but that is not the problem. The problem is that I like my butter to be spreadable. Because I don’t like spending $7 on 300gms of boutique super soft butter I usually end up buying margarine. Margarine is not butter, it is not even remotely like butter. But at 6.30am when everyone is hungry and we are in the middle of a Dunedin winter which turns even the semi soft butter mostly rock hard, I want spreadable ‘butter’ and I do not want to play microwave roulette with a small knob of greasy butter which will either still be hard after 10 seconds or turn into a pool of melted sadness.

And then of course there is the health aspect. Half of the internet tells me that butter is seriously bad for you and will kill you in the end, and the other half of the internet inform me that margarine is a silent killer and not only does it kill turkeys it’s bound to kill me in the end too. If I had to pick a grisly death by spread I’d take butter any day of the week, yet week after week it is margarine that I put in my supermarket trolley with a sigh of regret. The obvious option is to not use either. However, an addict doesn’t take kindly to having her diet of toast threatened.

I’m convinced that margarine is not actually a food, I feel that it has another unfulfilled and vastly more successful existence as axel grease or weed killer.  Yet it is supposed to be the healthier choice.  At least that is what the advertising tells us with lovely little slogans such as ‘zero cholesterol’ ‘zero saturated fats’. Yet margarine has a dirty little secret. Not only is it not tasty like butter, it’s not all that good for us either.  Margarine for the most part is hydrogenated fat, which is not good. Hydrogenated fat is also known as ‘transfats’ and has been shown to increase the "bad" cholesterol (Low Density Lipid), and to lower the "healthy" (High Density Lipid) cholesterol. In addition to this, transfats make our blood platelets stickier, which is a component of heart disease. One tablespoon of margarine has approximately 3 grams of trans fat and 2 grams saturated fat. However on the upside margarine also has higher levels of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which scientists tell us are good.

While butter is essentially a saturated fat and is therefore, well… fattening, it also has a load of good components which can make reasonable amounts of it part of a healthy diet. Butter contains lauric acid, lecithin, beta carotene, antioxidants, selenium, Vitamins E, D and K, conjugated linoleic acid, arachidonic acid and anti stiffness factor. It is also delicious. And remember at the beginning of the paragraph I said that butter was fattening? Think again! Butter is mainly comprised of short and medium chain fatty acids which are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy instead. Proponents of butter attribute it with such qualities as being a cancer preventative, a muscle builder, and immune system booster and good for childrens brain development. Aside from this it is important to remember that butter is one of the most saturated fats around, which scientists tell us is bad.
When it comes to bean counting though they are both calorie for calorie equivalent.

So where do I stand on the butter vs margarine evil slow death instigator showdown? Neither is particularly great for your health in terms of saturated fat and cholesterol but in terms of adjunct nutritional value butter beats margarine around town. Did I mention it was delicious? All of this however does nothing to solve my spreadable butter problem. This recipe however, does, and it is amazing.
Homemade Spreadable Butter
1 part butter
1 part  healthy oil (I used ricebran oil)
Soften your butter and chop it into your food processor, beat it until it is creamy and pale, slowly add your oil in a thin stream until it is completely incorporated. Scoop into wide necked glass jars and refrigerate. I divided mine into 3 handy sized jars and froze 2 of them for future use. 

A little note on rice bran oil, it is often recommended as a healthy high smoke oil. The truth is a little more complex than that. Rice bran oil  contains 7 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat per tablespoon it also contains components of vitamin E that may benefit health.
Scientists found a compenent of ricebran oil (tocotrienol rich fraction)  not only lowered cholesterol significantly  but also boosted the activity of liver enzymes that clear toxic substances from the liver. However, the flipside of this is that ricebran oil is often subjected to intense processing using chemicals and heat. To get the benefits of ricebran oil it needs to be cold pressed, the primary brand of ricebran oil is not cold pressed. They advertise as cold filtered but this is not the same thing. However for high heat cooking and baking I still use ricebran oil because it has a nice buttery flavor and it is cheap. To make this butter healthier the best option would be to use olive oil.

Some other healthy fats that can replace butter and bulk processed vegetable oils are:

  • Red palm oil - unrefined and fair trade please.
  • Fish oils  - mercury tested please
  • Coconut oil - unrefined and organic please
  • Seed and nut oils

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweets for the sweet

We’re not much for lollies in our house. That’s not to say we don’t like them. I’m a regular lolly monster when it comes to gummy sweets, I used to devour whole bags at a time. But I was also well overweight and tired to boot. So I no longer buy them, and when I do they spend their existence in a dark cupboard out of reach where they slowly evaporate and my husband shrugs his shoulders in innocence, all the while looking shiftily from side to side.

I’d happily exist in a world where lollipops didn’t loiter at supermarket checkouts for little hands to grab, where k bars didn’t exist at all and grandmas never thought to have a jar of brightly coloured lollies in plain sight.

I believe children should have treats, but until my sons first lollipop he believed a treat was some cherry tomatoes from the supermarket or a homemade fruit smoothie icecream or even a cuddle. Then grandma happened and the first lollipop happened. Now we can’t walk past a convenient chupa chup dispenser at child height without some sort of negotiation process which usually ends in us leaving the supermarket. My son had his first dental appointment a few months ago and with that his first filling. To say I was annoyed might be understating it a little.

I love my mum in law, she is lovely, however, her view on sugar and treats for children differs wildly from mine. But she’s allowed, she’s the grandma. At least that is what my friends tell me. I could start a rant about my views on how grandparents have a ‘right’ to bypass your decisions on nutrition and rewards but there is very little point. At the end of the day I let it go because on my list of things to spend time worrying about this falls pretty low. Not because I don’t value my sons teeth but because I do value my sons relationship with his grandparents. Please don’t conflate the fact that I value their relationship with my approach to treats and love. It’s a bit more complex than that – but I ramble on.

The latest grandma treat came in the form of a bag of pebbles. I considered hiding them, possibly in my mouth, but that didn’t seem fair.

So we washed them instead.

What’s that you say?

Well it was a cunning trick to turn candy from a food into a game and it went something a little like this…