Saturday, May 26, 2007

Party Pooper 2

Well we knew that additives affected daughter #1, but boy! What a terrible day! Today yesterday's party, she has been argumentative, shouty and screamy. She has refused to co-operative and has had several time-outs when she normally doesn't need any! She has deliberately wee-ed on the carpet three times! And she has not been herself at all. Normally pretty articulate, she has gestured and grunted her way through the day. Around 5.30pm she started to 'come out of it'. She still isn't back to normal yet. I am hoping like crazy that she has them out of her system but tomorrow morning.

So the question is - is it worth it? After a day like today, if it is the additives then I would definitely say no. But then how do you persuade a three year old that they can't eat the party food? The only thing I can think of is that you stuff them full of food before the party. Any ideas gratefully received.

Just how long do additives take to clear through the body?

Party pooper

Elder daughter has been eating really well all week. However, this afternoon we went to a three year old's birthday party. It was the usual party food: cheerios and sauce, fairy bread, pretzels, cookies with a variety of bright food colouring laden toppings... and a bright yellow cake. She had a blast! I wouldn't expect any different food to be provided for her but she has the knack of only eating the food that she never gets at home! Unfortunately the fresh fruit was at the other end of the table. Anyway my point is that she ate all this stuff and was fine at the party - but oh boy, has she been manic since she came home. She wasn't just excited, she kept talking non-stop, she was even more active than normal and was just not herself. And believe me I am used to her exuberant ravings!

So I wonder how long it will take her to get these chemicals out of her system? We'll see as she had a normal tea and I know that MSG takes a while to show up.

It WAS good cake though...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Eat in season

Ooooh how I love the food year now. I eagerly await the best apples and pears of Autumn now like I used to long for juicy strawberries at the start of summer. And then what of asparagus, pumpkins, corn and new potatoes? It is so satisfying to buy fresh, cheap and in season and use in a recipe! So being autumn here now what am I enjoying? Pumpkins - great roasted round a joint of meat, or in soup with freshly-grated nutmeg. And big potatoes baked in their jackets. Apples and pears- usually eaten as a snack out-of-doors in an afternoon. Mushrooms - not that these are seasonal - but big fat portabellos baked in the oven and eaten on toast for breakfast - what a way to start the day!

Everything tastes so good. If you buy from a supermarket, it is much harder to see what is seasonal. Try it for a week. Taste the difference.


This is supposedly the hardest of being additive free but actually it is quite manageable. Regular snacks are fruit, plain air-popped popcorn, breadsticks, sandwich, breakfast cereal (eaten without milk) and yoghurt. We also have toast with fruit spread and fruit toast. I make biscuits - like Anzac cookies (with less coconut and more oats) and afghans with extra cornflakes. Occasionally we'll have a Movenpick ice-cream. It's amazing when elder daughter is hungry how she'll ask for weetbix! Ot to make her favourite chocolate chip cookies. - With REAL chocolate. Beware the 'melts' or 'compound' chocolate or 'cooking' chocolate. There is something awesome about a batch of real cookies - and you can skimp on the chocolate as the flavour is so much better than the additive laden brown 'chocolate'.

I heartily recommend Barkers fruit Glory as a fruit spread and if they don't sell it at your local supermarket - then you can have it couriered for $5 in South Island- which with petrol prices as they are is less than a trip to a shop on the other side of town! The blackcurrant one is AMAZING!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buy local

Easy. Don't give the supermarkets your money for fruit and veges that you can buy direct. Just think - they are cheaper for one. You can see what you are getting (from the actual trees!). You can talk to the growers. You are supporting your local economy. Fruit will be fresher. It will have only travelled a minor distance. Try it!

We like fresh fruit juice in the morning so I buy fruit. Being Autumn I buy apples currently. They cost me $3.49 Kg at the supermarket. On offer they cost $1.49 Kg. At the local growers there are about 16 different varieties to choose from and the most expensive costs $1.40 Kg. But they do 'seconds'. Slightly mis-shapen, or with a mark on the skin. The supermarkets wouldn't accept these - and the cost -50c a kilo! They taste great and make fantastic juice.

Buy local!

Some benefits of changing to an additive free diet

The first change happened quickly - the highs and lows of my daughters moods evened out substantially. There were less tantrums and was more willingness to listen. Isn't this what every parent wants to hear? There are lots of small changes too - not the least being that her poo looks normal instead of it being dyed by the chemicals!

When we ditched the additives as adults, I lost 5kg. Without doing anything else. Wow! What a great diet! Having to cook more from scratch made me more aware of what was going in our mouths and I even burnt calories from making the food. My food bill at the supermarket reduced. It went up at the vege shop.

My daughter drinks water or milk. Nothing else. Cheap and kind to teeth!

My pantry is full of old fashioned foods - I have huge tubs of flour, dried fruits and sugar, dried pulses for soups, corn for popping... biscuits can be made,baked and eaten in 15 minutes. it's all good honest cheap and preferably local produce.

I started making my own stock - but as it takes ages and isn't that cheap to do I find it more convenient to buy liquid (without MSG and preferably low-sodium) ambient blocks. They taste great and with a few veges, make a wonderful soup or gravy.

Food tastes different without additives. It is nowhere near as strong tasting. It took us probably three months to get used to the 'blander' taste. Now we can taste immediately if there's MSG in the mix. I prefer to eat real food. It means eating out is hard - a lot of cafes aren't used to making from scratch. Most places use packets for gravy( bleugh!). And some cake shops charge a fortune for cakes which haven't seen a real egg or milk in the mix. At least it saves money as you're less likely to indulge! Don't get me wrong, we fall off the wagon occasionally. But then next morning we get right back on again.

My latest 'thing' is a real breakfast. I have a list and we try and do a proper meal every day. We even get up earlier to do it. Scrambled eggs on toast, pancakes and fresh fruit and maple syrup, grilled tomatoes, portabello mushrooms on ciabatta... Today was ham and cheese and tomatoes on french bread and cereals. I have lost 3 kg since we started eating more. Weird, huh?

I no longer shop in a daze. In fact shopping is quick. Bread, milk, and meat with any staples we've run out of - but no biscuits or cakes or chippies or lollies. It takes you round the outside of a supermarket usually.

So even if you only want to lose weight - try additive free.

Canola Oil

So what is the business with canola oil. I thought it was made from the canola plant. After all sunflower oil is made from sunflower seeds and olive oil is made from olives. And peanut oil is made from peanuts,etc. No. It is made from rapeseed oil - which has been refined so as to make it 'generally considered fit for human consumption'. I thought I was quite clued up about all this. I even asked some of my friends - and we were all in the same clueless quagmire. 'Canola' is derived from the word 'canadian'. Hmmmm. Do the research and you'll find a lot about it. I think the jury is still out on how safe (or not) it is - but I do know that as I am opposed to GM then I won't be buying it. I threw out what I had and have started spreading the word. So we just have olive oil now. And butter. Ah well....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What not to feed your baby

All parents here get a little handout showing 'good' foods to feed a baby. Unfortunately there are few explanations on there as to the foods chosen. Personally there is no way that I would ever feed a baby mini sausages (being full of MSG and colourings and low quality meat), luncheon sausage (ditto), processed cheese (have you read the ingredients), rice crackers or rice biscuits (MSG and more). The crackers shown on the handout are high in sodium, trans fats and contain flavourings and MSG. The dried apricots shown are beautifully orange/apricot colour - so of course contain sulphur dioxide - not the scraggy brown colour that you get if they are just packed. So is this really a good start to nutrition? Dried apple rings also contain preservative, finger jellies usually are coloured with artificial additives, chicken nuggets are high in trans fats and often contain very low grade meat and ham has sodium nitrite and can have honey extracts as well as milk products and MSG.

I have two books which are full of recipe ideas for under two's. One has lots of short cuts - using packets from the pantry and stock cubes! What is wrong with real food?

It actually makes things a bit dull when it comes to finger foods. There really isn't a lot you can feed a six month old that they can manage. Most of my friends give cookies (like ginger nuts) and flavoured crackers to their babies to gum. Maybe if there was more explanation of the handout about why certain foods should be avoided then parents would be more likely to follow the advice. I give rusks and the crusts off white toast. And an occasional plain cracker if bubs won't stop screaming whilst I prepare her tea. Soon she will be getting plain breadsticks and bits of fresh fruit too. However I make up for it when it comes to her real food. I wonder what effect all those additives have on such little bodies?

Get baking

So how do you get round the problem of not being able to wander the supermarket aisles and load your trolley with goodies? You bake. You use real ingredients and remember that they have a shorter shelf life. And they taste sooooo good. Real cookies, cakes and bread. The fantastic effect is that it makes you very conscious of exactly how much fat and sugar is in a batch - and the result is that you eat less. I lost 5 kg initially.

The pantry shelves start to resemble an old fashioned grocers - tubs of sugar, flour and oats, dried fruits (organic to avoid preservative), dried pulses and cans of tomatoes. It's all cheap and absolute staples. Who said eating well was expensive?

In the freezer - peas and mixed veges, rather than frozen pizza and ready dinners. Make your own yorkshire puddings to have with a good old roast and then eat the leftovers in a sandwich. Eat cold chicken in a salad and use up cheese in a quiche.

So let me share some of my recipes here with you and try to inspire you to get cooking and baking especially with your kids. Whenever I get the weighing scales out my elder daughter asks what I am cooking and could she help? Use up homemade yoghurt in yoghurt cake, make my Nan's plumbread (full of dried fruit and heaven in the colder months), and fresh soups. Make sponge cake in summer and stuff it with cream and strawberries. And learn that these additives actually taint the food you consume. Get back to to basics.

Think about what your kids eat. Cookies? Potato chips? Crackers? Ice cream? Muesli bars? Do they drink fruit squash? Look at the ingredients. Check them out. And stop and think - not only could you ditch the additives - you could make this a fun activity to do with the kids and save yourself some money!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Artificial colourings

So having got rid of the trans fats from the pantry shelves, how about colourings? I realised that they made an impact on the body when I saw how my elder daughter reacted. It wasn't pretty. I won't go into much detail but nappies could be lurid colours. Have you ever made cakes or play dough or something and added food colouring. It takes a lot of it to achieve a bright colour. Ever stopped to think what those dyes are made from? Some countries have banned a lot of them; they aren't permitted here in baby food; there are limits to how much manufacturers can add to a food.

The research is very interesting. There are so many thousands of studies but one of the latest which examines the cocktail effect of just a few additives has raised huge cause for concern. And do we need to colour our food? I hate to see kids scoffing down brightly coloured sweets and candies. What's wrong with the real colour of food? So you go through the pantry again and realise that most foods have colourings. Some switched-on manufacturers have already changed to natural colourings. Yay! Watch what happens in the next few years - I wonder how long it will be before they are banned altogether? Look at the rise of 'natural' flavoured candies (with colours derived from beetroot and so on). Even Smarties have gone natural. You might like to start wondering why. Is it just because they have our best interests at heart - or do you think they are just getting ready for new legislation?

Ditch the colourings. Notice any change in your kids behaviour yet?

Trans fats

So let's say for arguments sake that trans fats are really not good for you. Would you eat them? If you thought that they might give you some really nasty disease or substantially shorten your life span - even if they tasted nice - you might eat them less? I would. Would you feed them to your kids?

Two years ago I hadn't even heard of trans fats. I knew about saturated and polyunsaturated and even monounsaturated - but no-one stopped to tell me about this new type. They weren't labelled on the products in my pantry. So when I read that they indeed were detrimental to health then I was surprised. Surely the government would not allow a population to consume something that was known to be harmful.

Have a look in your pantry. Go on. Find some cookies or a TV dinner or some other processed junk and look for 'hydrogenated'. There you go. It's bad. It's a trans fat. And if you haven't already looked up the safe limit for trans fats I will tell you. It's zero. Why else would the World Health Organisation recommend eliminating trans fats from diet in their global strategy on diet?

Hmmm. Go figure. Why would the food industry put them in? They're cheap. Next time you open a bag of cookies and hand one to your little smiling child - is that you want to feed them?

Then have a good look in your pantry. See how many trans fats you can find. They are all over the place. Do yourself a favour. Don't eat or buy the products with them in; the manufacturers will eventually get the message and use some proper ingredients. Maybe.

And start there. Just get rid of the trans fats. And then have a look to see whether they are already banned in your country. Because it seems that if goods are imported they might still contain them.

Makes your pantry seem kinda bare doesn't it. And we haven't even started yet...

Why I got started on additive-free food

I started on the additive-free thing about two years ago, as my daughter was so manic and I was worried that as she got older she might be diagnosed as ADHD. The more I read about food and additives and how diet has changed, the more concerned I became. I stripped away as many as I could from her diet and her behaviour changed remarkably.

The more I read, the angrier I became. And there is a lot of stuff on the web and in magazines concerning this topic. A lot really is subjecture. But there is some really good stuff coming out now. If you want a great and slightly scary read - try 'they are what you feed them'. It pulls together a lot of the latest research and is pretty easy to read.

So if you don't know your omega 3's from 6's, or your trans fats from your saturated, or what unami is, why the experts tell you not to feed breakfast cereal to your littlie and why pregnant women are told washing fruit and veg is really really important, then maybe read a little and sort out your family's nutrition.

So stop swallowing what the industry gives you and start making some really informed decisions about food. After all, they wouldn't let you eat it if it was harmful - would they?