Nutrition for Healthy Babies: How to lower the risk of Allergies, Asthma, Eczema, and Autism

Chronic inflammatory conditions and neurodevelopmental disorders are on the rise – but with a few simple dietary changes, you can help your baby avoid them

12 months ago, I became a mother: Our daughter Cara was born here in Amsterdam, in our home. Like all mothers, I obsessed about doing everything in my power to ensure I would have a healthy, happy baby. Fortunately, that is what Cara has turned out to be!

In the Western world, the incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases like allergies, asthma, and eczema is skyrocketing. Whereas only a fraction of the population was afflicted a few decades ago, now between 10-20% of all children in developed nations become lifelong sufferers. But I had more reason to worry: Because my husband had had eczema, allergies, and asthma since birth, Cara’s chances of developing a chronic condition were increased to at least 60%. In addition, autism – many parents’ worst nightmare - now affects 1 out of 110 boys and 1 out of 330 girls in the Netherlands. Increasingly, the latest research points to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders being inflammatory conditions as well.

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Tahini Dressing

I wanted a change from our usual apple cider vinegar salad dressing. This tahini dressing is what my husband suggested after finding it on the Food Babe website. Wow, what a success! It's so tasty, I love it. I could eat it with a spoon. Sesame seeds are possibly the oldest condiment known to man. I love the nutty flavour and it's such a great source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup raw tahini
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 and ½ tsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp hempseed oil or olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp raw sesame seeds

HOW TO:

  • Combine lemon juice, garlic and water into a blender and puree for 15 - 30 seconds
  • Add all remaining ingredients and puree again until smooth

Home-made coffee-cinnamon-orange body scrub

This is a guest post by Rita Thomassen, founder of GLIN, the first Eco Soap School in the Netherlands. Rita recently moved to the Netherlands with her Dutch husband and bilingual 4year-old son. Rita is determined to help others on the green and clean path of life through the different GLIN Workshops, online and offline GLIN activities.

Body scrubs feel luxurious, smell delicious and leave the skin smooth and moisturised. However, commercial body scrubs often contain both mechanical and chemical defoliants. They are meant to work on tougher skin (not on the face and neck). They may be severe or irritating and most of them are quite oily, too.

If you have a sensitive skin or just shaved your legs, a store-bought body scrub (especially one with acids) can burn or sting like crazy. Do not rub your scrub too aggressively, and do not use it more than once a week. Never use the body scrub on your face and neck.

Body scrubs have 3 main ingredients:

1. An exfoliant
This is the abrasive material like salt, sugar, rice bran, jojoba beads, apricot kernels, coffee grounds, etc. that rubs away the dead skin cells on the surface, revealing the softer, younger cells just below.

2. Oil
This holds the mixture together so you (or someone else) can apply it to your skin: Oils like macadamia oil, sweet almond oil or even olive oil.

3. Fragrance
Ideally, the fragrance comes from high-quality essential oils. Most commercial body scrubs will have synthetic fragrances and more synthetic ingredients in general. 

Because I keep my body away from synthetic fragrances and ingredients (they may cause serious changes in your body) I make my own natural body scrubs. Honestly, they are easy to make, cheap and fun to use or give as a present. Why shouldn't you give it a try? It takes less time to make one than to make a coffee!

There are two basic variants: Salt Scrubs and Sugar Scrubs. 

Salt scrubs are the easiest to make and a great gift if you put it in a pretty jar. Sugar scrubs are a good choice when your skin is extremely sensitive or if you have had a salt scrub before and found it scratchy or uncomfortable.

Finally, never use a body scrub on your face, where the skin is thinner and more delicate. Body scrubs are designed for the tougher skin on your body.

Here is my favourite, easy to make recipe which gives you the luxury feeling that you are looking for.

Ingredients:

  • Half cup of coffee grounds
  • Quarter cup of olive oil
  • Quarter cup of brown sugar
  • A little spoon of cinnamon 
  • A little spoon of honey
  • (Optional) 2 drops of Orange Essential oil

How to:

Put all the ingredients together in a jar, mix it well, and it's ready to use. Enjoy your natural, self-made, nourishing home spa now!

Did you like it?

xoxo
Rita


Breastfeeding - Free the boobie!

After reading about several recent cases of women being kicked out of cafes for breastfeeding or asked to feed their children in the toilet I wanted to show my support. It's time to normalise breastfeeding again, it's important for children and women's rights. Support all moms. Free the boobie!  

This is a picture of me, lunching with my daughter in Amsterdam.

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Apple sandwich - A healthy treat FOR KIDS

It's easy to get stuck in a rut with sandwich or treat ideas. These are a fun and healthy snack or lunchbox idea. I'm using peanut butter in this version, but you can use any nut butter - my favourite is almond. Also try different toppings like nuts, dried fruit, or coconut. 

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HOW TO:  

To keep apple slices from going brown soak them briefly in some cold water with a dash of lemon juice. Use a cutter to make heart or star shaped centres and try out different toppings and spreads.  

Pineapple Ginger Green Smoothie

I follow a wonderful food blog called Oh She Glows and couldn't resist this smoothie recipe of hers. It contains most of my favourite foods. It's great for digestion but also fighting colds and flus. It's packed with vitamin C and anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits. It is so tasty my daughter insisted on sharing it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 heaping cup frozen pineapple chunks (or fresh, if desired)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons avocado
  • 1 teaspoon packed freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon probiotic powder (optional)
  • lemon slice, for garnish (optional)

HOW TO:

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on the highest speed until super smooth.

Making mealtimes calmer with toddlers

I was talking to Simone Davies from the wonderful new site The Montessori Notebook. It's a site helping you to apply Montessori principles in daily life. I was mentioning my own daughter starting baby led weaning and how frustrated she can get with learning to eat. I think it's something that frustrates many toddlers and parents at mealtimes. She gave some lovely tips below which I hope might help some of you.

 

Simones tips: 

1. Try to set up things to remove as much frustration as possible - for example, a fork is generally easier for a toddler than a spoon. At first you can provide some help to get the food on the fork, and leave it for them to pick up/don’t have too much on their plate at a time/only put out as much as you want to clean up/have a hand mitt (or two) at hand for spills

2. Notice what triggers the frustration to pre-empt for next time, particular foods/tiredness/etc - keep adjusting for next time :)

3. If a lot of throwing starts, I calmly remind them that food is for eating. It’s often a sign they are finished so I show them how to tell me they are all done (baby signs here are great). And then I remove their plate in a calm way, “It looks like you are all done. Let’s take your plate to the kitchen. Would you like to help?"

4. If the wailing continues, I provide a lot of empathy - “You are so frustrated that it’s not working! Let me know if you need some help. Or would you like some help to calm down?” Not all kids like to be cuddled, but some like it afterwards.

Superfood chocolate fudge

I'm a big fan of a cafe in Ireland called The Happy Pear. I used to eat there nearly 10 years ago when I was first studying nutrition nearby. I kept following them online ever since, and their new YouTube Channel is where I discovered this amazing squishy tasty fudge recipe. Its main ingredient is tahini - a paste from ground sesame seeds - which is a wonderful source of minerals like magnesium and an especially good source of calcium. It's also high in vitamin E and methionine which helps your liver detox. 


INGREDIENTS:

  • 280g tahini 
  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 120g date syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbs raw cacao powder (add more to taste if you like a richer choc flavour)
  • 3 tbs pumpkin seeds and some extra for topping
  • 3 tbs goji berries and an extra tbs for topping
  • 4 tbs raw cocao nibs - 3 in the mix and 1 for topping

HOW TO:

  • Melt the coconut oil
  • Add the coconut oil to all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl - mix really well
  • Pour into a container and add topping
  • leave to refridgerate for 4 hours