Archive for the ‘Info For Mom’ Category
I am under the impression that EVERYONE should have an herb garden, as it is a great source of flavor for your dishes, can teach your kids lots of things about growing, planting, caring for plants, hard work, character, etc, and just looks nice. If you have an OUTDOOR herb garden,make sure you are well after the danger of a frost. If you have an INDOOR herb garden, make sure that you can regulate the amount of sunlight that hits your garden, preferably near a south or west facing window, and make sure it stays away from drafts, doors, and protect it from the younger kids, and the cat. Cats will nibble on your indoor herb garden. Fair warning.
There are only a few spices that I can think of that are absolutely necessary in every kitchen, and thankfully they are all easy to tend to, are fragrant throughout the seasons, and some can even be dried and stored for later use. They are as follows:
Basil: My favorite spice. Basil is a plant that starts out as one stem with several large leaves on it, and eventually can reach the size of a small shrub. It grows quickly, taking about 8 weeks from seedling to harvest time, and is used in dishes based in Italy and the plant itself originated in India. Basil compliments the flavors of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and other squashes, and is grown outdoors in the summer, in 1/2 sun.
Dill: Originated in Egypt. It is most often used in brine recipes for pickling any number of items, from cucmbers to pigs feet. It has a sharp tangy flavor that compliments potatoes, especially the little red ones, root vegetables, eggs, mayonnaise, and cottage cheese. It grows best in full sun, spreads very quickly, and grows perennially, so you won’t have to replant every year.
Marjoram: Comes from North Africa, has been used in recipes since ancient times. Marjoram compliments a lot of fried foods, and has a spicy sweet flavor that is great with pork and fish. Plant your marjoram in May, and if you harvest it before the first flowers start to appear you can hang it in bunches to dry without losing any flavor.
Oregano: Closely related to marjoram, oregano is a more bitter spicier plant. It is found all over Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It compliments a lot of the same recipes as basil, and gets the same planting, harvesting and drying treatment as Marjoram.
Parsley: Parsley is used in dishes all over the world, especially in French cuisine. It has a refreshing spicy sweet flavor that compliments almost anything you make with it, and it also makes a delightful garnish. Originally parsley was added to a diner’s plate to be chomped on to cleanse the palate between meal courses. It grows throughout the summer and early fall if outdoors, but dies every year, as it is only an annual.
Rosemary: Rosemary has been regarded for centuries for is mysterious medicinal and magical purposes. It is used the most in Europe and the Mediterranean regions, and compliments root veggies, pork, chicken, fish, and squash dishes. Plant your rosemary well after the last frost and keep it from freezing, as it is very temperature sensitive.
Chives: The chive originated in central Asia, and is related to the onion. It looks very much like a tiny shallot with a long green stem and a white root base. It’s flavor is not as intense as the onion or shallot, but it lends a nice flavor to egg dishes and is great chopped fresh over a sour cream and buttered baked potato. Plant your chives in April, wait til June to harvest, and they will SPREAD.
Thyme: Grows wild on the rocky areas of the Meditteranean coast, with the same growing condidtions as basil or oregano. It loves the sun, so put this pot right in the window, but make sure its away from any drafts or windy areas.
Mint: This sweet and refreshing herb grows anywhere you put it, as long as it is not in full sun. Mint compliments any number of dishes, and is best used fresh as it does not dry well. My dad’s mint garden grew so quickly that a large part of our lawn is now mint. It makes a very nice scent that wafts through the neighborhood when you mow it in the hot summer months.
Catnip: It’s technically an herb, but it has no value to human cuisine. It makes cats act FUNNY. They love it. Grow it and see what happens to your cat. Its quite amusing. It grows much like basil.
Here’s a quick lesson in starting a basic herb garden from HowCast.
I’ve seen it hundreds of times, as I walk through the parking lot, mostly filled with unusually large breeds of vehicles, at my local Sam’s Club. Couples in much smaller cars, usually with their “Family Stickers” limited to them, one kid and a very small dog, drive by with apprehension in their eyes, heading to Publix, or Kroger, or another smaller sized supermarket, because they feel like they are getting a better deal. And maybe for some items, particularly items you don’t find in large sizes normally (ethnic foods, etc) it could be, but growing up in a medium to large sized family, with my dad owning his own business, we found ways to make the bulk discount stores work well for us. Does shopping at a huge “membership-required” store scare you off from their pretty significant deals? Do you think your family is too small to garner any benefit from buying in bulk?
For my family of three (two adults, one toddler, and one very teeny dog) I use Sam’s Club for paper and plastic products, meats, frozen veggies, cereal and snackables for baby, and even my favorite vitamins. The caveat is that I also spend a lot on quart/gallon sized Ziploc Freezer bags, and everything I buy must be long-term shelf stable, or must freeze well. I buy beef, chicken, pork, and even fish, either already frozen or ready to cook, and split everything up into portion sizes of one or two or three, put a small piece of wax paper between each piece of meat, and put the portions into freezer bags. That way, when I leave for the day’s errands in the morning I can pull out a baggie of chicken or beef or fish for that night, and put in the microwave or refrigerator for later.
Paper items, toilet paper particularly, is one of the best “secret deals” at the bigger warehouse stores. You can get a months worth of toilet paper, (the comfy kind) for between $12-$18. Same goes for paper towels, napkins, paper plates. I think that’s why they always hide it in the back of the stores by the stock room. If your spending $12 dollars for the biggest pack at your grocery that only gets your through the next two weeks, you’ve saved plenty.
The warehouse stores also offer great benefits for your car, your eyes, your health, and even your electronics budget, giving you significant discounts for quality name brand products like tires, TVs, cameras, cell phones, eyeglasses/contacts and even jewelry.
Memberships are usually the biggest point of contention for most shoppers, but the individual costs are between $35-$100 annually, much less than what you will save in the course of the year. They have four standard memberships, for businesses and individuals, and they now have a college student membership as well (great for savings on laundry soap!). They also have a nifty new feature, the Click ‘n’ Pull, where you can go to the Sam’s Club website, pick out your order online before 5PM on any day, and it will be ready for you the next day at your local store to pick up! You don’t even have to wander the aisles anymore! I haven’t tried the Click ‘n’ Pull yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it next month. Click here to get a cool preview of how it works.
Sam’s Clubs closest competition in my local market is Costco, which offers many of the same benefits, (plus I enjoy their tasty snack food samples when I go on sample days), but outside of the food market, their closest competitor is BJ’s, for retail electronics, which I only recently moved close to one, and have not yet experienced.
Are you a bulk buyin’ Mama? Do you prefer one store over the others? Tell us your methods, and requirements for shopping in the different stores, bulk vs regular grocers, and feel free to give good coupon & money saving tips to help us all out in this crazy economy. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Late spring and early summer usually remind people of warmer days, trips to the pool, the beach, and vacations to Disney World, but for some people, the sweetest summer memory is a trip to their local farm, or farmer’s market, to get a taste of some of the freshest produce around, grown locally and healthfully.
You can’t beat slicing up a freshly picked cucumber or a juicy watermelon for a cool and refreshing salad, or a handful of plump blackberries to add to a smoothie or top off a cup of Greek yogurt. Here’s a list of when and where you can expect some of your favorite summer veggies to become available.
Avocados: Known in health markets as a superfood, avocados offer a large number of nutrients and vitamins in a flavorful green package, with the good kind of fats that help your heart and your blood work as effectively as possible. They are an extremely fickle fruit, growing whenever they please, in warm climates, particularly in Florida, where many people have them in their backyards. Farmer’s markets all over the south will usually start to have them available toward the middle of the summer, but the earliest crops are likely to be hard. Let them ripen on the counter or in a paper bag until soft, peel them, slice them, and mash them into guacamole for your kids favorite Friday night Mexican dish, or chill the slices, sprinkle them with salt and pepper for a nutty flavored snack right and an energy boost right before your 3PM crash at work.
Berries: Another healthy favorite, the blue and the black berries offer antioxidants and a sweet burst of flavor, especially when picked right at the height of the season and allowed to sweeten in the warm summer sun. They grow wild all over the US, from New York to Florida, and farmers markets nationwide could feature these delicious fruits, or offer signs saying “Pick Your Own”. Use the berries to spice up a boring green leaf salad, or freeze them for pancakes during the fall and winter months. Canning is also a great way to preserve sweet fruits, blackberry and blueberry jam were perennial favorites in my Mom’s pantry as a kid. Try not to handle your berries too much before you eat them, the riper they are, the easier they bruise and become mushy, and their high water content makes them very susceptible to mold in the fridge, so be sure to use them or freeze them as soon as possible.
Cherries: Spring marks the arrival of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital, and those bright fragrant pink flowers offer up sweet red fruit as the summer arrives. Cherries are another great source of energy, and nutrients, and many varieties, be they sour or sweet, are available between the months of May and August.
Corn: There’s a anecdote that helped farmer’s gauge their corn as it grew in the early days of our history, “knee high by the 4th of July.” Summer picnics and barbecues often herald giant ears of sweet white, yellow and multi-hued corn with juicy kernels and bright green husks. This is the time of year where it is most often found down to $0.10 cents an ear or even less at your local grocery, but visit the farmers market for the best corn, I’ve found it to be particularly tasty in the areas of Iowa, Central Florida, and Virginia. Its available through most of the summer, but the best crop usually comes after the Independence Day holiday. Look for fresh green husks, plump ripe (not hard) kernels, and a sweet smell, with soft white floss. It was BBQ tradition in my house growing up that the kids would drag big boxes of corn out to the yard and strip every last strand of corn floss from the ears, while the adults had a chance to mingle and prepare the rest of the meal without us underfoot. It worked like a charm. We would inspect our individual ears like quality control officials, critiquing each other’s techniques and racing to see who could get the most corn shucked in the smallest amount of time.
Garlic: Globally, China is the world’s largest producer of garlic, growing more than 3/4′s of the world’s garlic (23 billion pounds) every year, but the United States has just the right climate for garlic as well, it is grown in every state except Alaska, and can grow often throughout the year depending on the climate, but the sweetest and most flavorful garlic comes during the summer months, particularly in Gilroy, California, which is the biggest garlic growing city in the US. If you are substituting fresh garlic for your normal garlic powder, 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered garlic usually equals a single clove of the fresh stuff.
Limes: Limes are the only citrus fruit that are in full ripened flavor in the summer, and grow best in tropical weather in the state of Florida. The tangy fruit makes a great topping for fish on the grill or addition to marinades for your favorite chicken dish. Before peeling a lime to use it for its juice, roll it around on your counter-top under the palm of your hand with heavy pressure, breaking up the membranes inside the fruit and releasing the flesh from the rind.
Peaches: I love anything and everything peaches, (really….anything, perfume, the color peach, peach scented fabric softener sheets) but my SO and I experienced the best peaches ever during a drive through Georgia, (after staying at a great friends house!). When I hear peaches, I think Georgia, and for good reason. The best, most plump, sweetest fruit come from from trees that have full sun and WARM weather. Avoid peaches that are not just a little soft to the squeeze, or have yellow or green near the stem. Buy a bushel or two, or even a laundry basket full and make a months worth of peach cobbler! I’ll be sure to drop by for a taste.
Strawberries: Another of my favorite fruits, since I live just a few hours from Plant City, Florida where the land is dominated by strawberry farms. I am willing to walk, bend and lift, for HOURS just to pick my own perfect strawberries, and the ones sold in the grocery stores, while good, I find are often moldy, mushy, or still too GREENish, which leads to sour berries in my experience. Greenish strawberries never taste right, they only ripen to the best flavor while still attached to the plant and enjoying that sweet Florida sunshine. Pick your own, or be very scrutinizing when selecting “strawbs” at the farmer’s market.
Tomatoes: My grandfather had a green thumb for tomatoes. He grew them every summer, and I am still drawn back to those childhood memories at his house on Long Island New York when I crush a tomato leaf between my fingers and smell the spicy sweet scent. The delicate yellow flowers turn into hard green balls which deepen in color and flavor until a sweet, juicy and tender tomato is born. Make sure and see if you can try a tomato at the market before you buy it, even the prettiest tomato might be a little on the sour side, which isn’t always bad, since different meals and different flavors require different ages of tomato.
Watermelons: Available in 44 of the 50 United States, watermelons are a staple of summer fun. Their pink sweet flesh and sharply contrasted black seeds bring on memories of 4th of July fireworks and summer carnivals. Look for a fruit that has a solid “thunk” when you knock on it, with no serious dents or bruises to the rind, but they are the only melon type fruit that does not smell “melony”, even when at it’s ripest. The sweetest fruit comes from regions that have a good amount of difference in temperature between days and nights. Most melons planted in May are ready to harvest by the end of June.
Remember that most farmer’s markets, especially larger ones, follow some regulation, but most are considered “Mom and Pop” organizations, particularly roadside stands, so be aware of things like worms, fungus, and imperfections that you may not be used to seeing while in your local supermarket.And just like you would at the regular supermarket, be sure to wash and fully inspect any produce that finds it’s way into your home, before adding it to your recipes.
Click here for a link to help you find Farmer’s Markets all over the US, and check with your local school district or your local newspaper for information about co-op growing areas, or community gardens that will have produce available, sometimes as an even exchange program, or for work done at the farm!
For Mom’s these days it’s hard to figure out what is truly fact, and what is fantasy when it comes to age old wives tales and myths regarding your health and your body over the summer. Here are 5 myths that have been fully debunked, that should make planning your vacations, meals, and playtime much easier.
1: Don’t Swim After You Eat?
This myth has officially been BUSTED. While it is true that swimming after eating can cause minor cramping in your lower extremities as blood rushes up to your tummy to help with digestion, it is not nearly severe enough to cause anyone to drown. You don’t have to wait an hour after you eat that delicious grilled chicken to join your friends at the beach anymore, and you don’t have to lock your kids in the car just to keep them out of the water once you get there! Always keep a close eye on your family while near any source of water, and protect them with the necessary applications and reapplications of sunscreen.
2: Any SPF Sunscreen Works Just Fine…
WRONG! You don’t get adequate protection from a sunscreen or sunblock unless it is at least SPF 30 . And remember that the fairer your skin, the less protection you get naturally. I am a huge fan of Neutrogena Sport lotions, particularly their Face block, because I don’t have to reapply as often as I do with other brands. I did some serious damage to my skin as an uprotected beach rat wild child, and didn’t know I was putting my self in danger of melanoma, and a wide variety of other skin issues, like redness that still bothers me to this day.
For Mamas with babies, they also have a great “Pure and Free” baby sunblock line as well. Remember that reapplication is key, no matter how high you go on the SPF scale, and that a costly 95SPF sunscreen blocks the same number of UV rays as a 30SPF.
3: Jellyfish Stings Hurt FOREVER
Also not true. While they do hurt, especially the Portuguese Man of War jellies that we get when the eastern winds start to blow in our area, jelly stings can be remedied with a simple spritz of vinegar on the affected area. I have a small spritzer bottle that I’ve filled with vinegar in my beach bag, and it helps take away the sting, and deactivates the little stingers that make the burn. After you’ve let the vinegar soak in, rinse with fresh cool water and apply ice. If there’s any evidence of a serious allergic reaction, (difficulty breathing, hives, unnatural amounts of swelling) seek medical attention immediately.
4: Browned Meat is Cooked Meat
When you’ve got a pack of hungry children gathered around the grill, salivating over the burgers that you “think” might be done, it’s hard to discern whether or not those juices from the meat are really “running clear” or if you’re just hallucinating from hunger. I am a huge fan of meat thermometers. Williams-Sonoma offers a nifty little 4 pack of “mini grilling thermometers” you can plug right into those tasty little burgers, and know for sure whether or not they are finally cooked enough to eat, by reading the internal temperature, which for beef should be no less than 160* F, as recommended by the USDA.
5: Poison Ivy Is Contagious From Person to Person
Nope! You can only get poison ivy from contact directly with the oils on the plant, and the amount of redness and affliction you get from the plant depends on how much of an allergy you have to it. Rubbing calamine lotion on a friends red itchy welts will only earn you the “Bestest Friend Ever” award, instead of poison ivy yourself. It’s my only allergy, but I consider poison ivy to be my arch-nemesis, and take very good precautions to make sure any one involved in our family’s hiking/camping trips are fully aware of what it looks like, and what to do when you encounter it on the trail. Remember also, that if you are clearing large amounts of land over the summer, that burning poison ivy turns the oils into an aerosol in the smoke, and those particularly sensitive to it can breathe it in. I spent three weeks in bed as a child, resembling strongly the Michelin Man, because of a week of burning brush from our property that contained scraps of poison ivy cuts. Like the picture at right, the leaves are yellowish-green and shiny/waxy looking, the stems are reddish, and look for groups of 3 leaves. Even doggies can get poison ivy, particularly short haired breeds!
There are so many different reasons why you should involve your kids in the kitchen. My number 1 reason is because I like to spend time with my kids while I am cooking and they enjoy helping. It does make more of a mess and typically takes longer, but in the end we have something we are all proud of and can’t wait to sink our teeth into.
- Cooking helps create healthy habits that last a lifetime
- Create memories. Some of my best memories of my Grandmother were of us cooking at her house
- Teach kids math skills. Even young kids can learn what a cup of milk or flour looks like
- Kids learn to follow directions
- Cultivate organization/planning skills
- Increase self esteem: Kids are proud of what they make
These are just a few of the many reasons why it is important to teach your children this important skill. By cooking things together, you are also cutting out some of the processed foods out of their diet. Just remember, start small. One of my daughter’s favorite thing to make with me is Jello pudding. All you have to do is add two cups of milk to the mix and stir it. She loves that she made it and it gives us a chance to clean up while it is setting. Instant gratification.
Enjoy. You will be amazed all the different things you can teach your kids while you are cooking together. Texture, color, taste, etc. Make learning fun!
One of the best investments I have made for my family is a juicer. A small investment can go a long way nutritionally speaking. My kids will drink fresh juice and it is a great way to ensure that they are getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. The process of juicing removes the pulp and fiber from the fruits and vegetables, thus allowing our bodies to absorb more of the nutrients. These juices have not been pasteurized meaning that more of the nutrients are present and are not boiled away. There are no additives or preservatives in fresh “raw” juice either.
My Juicing Bible is The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing by Jay Kordich. This book showed me the different ailments that juicing can help alleviate, such as, acne, eczema, anxiety, fatigue, sore throat, and sinus problems. The list of ailments is very lengthy and although I do not use juicing in place of medicine, it is always helpful when I feel a skin problem or cold coming on to be proactive and mix up one of the juicing recipes I have collected (many out of this book).
My family’s personal favorite:
Cut apples and carrots into smaller pieces and feed it through the juicer.
For smaller children, I would recommend watering juices down. This is a great way to get the nutrition of an entire carrot when your kids won’t sit and the entire vegetable (especially without dips etc). Coming up with creative names for juices always helps too.
My family is a HUGE fan of beets. Your kids might turn their noses up to the thought of eating beets, however, you can juice them and get a very nutritious and tasty drink that your kids will love.
Wash the beet very well and cut into pieces before processing.
Once you start juicing, you will find that it makes you feel better and the hassle of washing the appliance is well worth it. Although I do not juice everyday, I realize that it is a great way to get the kids involved to learn what benefits each fruit and vegetable has. My kids have grown up around this and love to participate as well. It is never too late to start. I highly recommend The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing by Jay Kordich. Let me know what your family thinks about juicing.
Feb 16, 2011
I am very lucky that both of my kids love food. They will eat anything. Both myself and their father are the same way, but it makes it a lot easier. I know I can find something for them no matter where we are. When everyone else is feeding their kids chicken nuggets or pizza, my kids are munching on broccoli or hummus. I am not saying my kids don’t eat chicken nuggets or pizza, in fact, I don’t stress when they do because I know they will eat healthy at the next meal.
Vegetables have a bad reputation to kids. I try to serve at two vegetables every night. Try this recipe for broccoli.
Put one inch of water in a sauce pan.
Bring to a boil
Cover and boil for 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain water.
Add olive oil, fresh garlic (chopped or sliced) and lots of lemon juice.
Serve at room temperature.
This can be made in advance.
Protecting our kids from harm is a mother’s biggest responsibilty, be it from strangers, physical harm, or even chemicals and preservatives in our food. Thankfully there are some ways we can cut back on the amount of harmful substances that enter into our bodies, and “going organic” is an easy and “green” way to do it.
How do you know its organic? What are the standards?
Supporting organic farms and growers is easy to do, whether you have access to a farmer’s market or a large supermarket. Look for product labeled “organic”, “100% organic”, and for even more brand confidence look for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seal. Simply “organic” products are those grown, raised, prepared and processed with at least 95% organic ingredients or processes, and the remaining ingredients must be on the approved USDA National List. “100% organic” products are created. raised, processed and prepared with only organic incgredients, with no additions of any kind. Both of these types of products must not be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. Products labeled, “Made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, can include up to three types of ingredients that are certified organic, and can include the markings of the certifying agency, but can not be labeled with the USDA seal anywhere on the packaging.
What does organic mean?
Organic products do not contain any chemicals, substances or preservatives that are considered unhealthy by the USDA. Chicken that is labeled organic is most likely free range (not caged) chickens that are fed with pure and natural feed that do not include any growth hormones, fattening agents, or antibiotics. Veggies that are labeled organic are grown with no pesticides or chemicals, and are processed using methods that do not require these products either.
What are the farmer standards?
The USDA requires all growing organizations to be certified after a vigorous inspection of their farming procedures by and accrediting USDA agent. Farms and ranches that make more than a $5,000 profit on the items that they sell must be certified by the USDA to use organic labeling.
Why go organic?
Foods that are organic taste better, are better for you, and even make you healthier! Organically grown vegetables have been scientifically proven to have larger amounts of antioxidants, and obviously lower amounts of harsh substances and cancer causing compounds. Lands that use only organic fertilizers are more healthy than those poisoned by chemicals and phosphates, and this helps to protect the waters and ecosystems around the farm as well. And any food that is raised with only compost, sunshine and clean water is definitely going to more yummy than a food that is loaded with chemicals, fillers, and byproducts. Foods that do not contains these harmful substances do not pose the same risks to pregnant women, infants, and young children that chemically processed foods do. You are protecting not only your immediate family, but the next generation as well.
There are a host of websites promoting the green movement and organic foods. Check out sites like Organic.com for games and recipes that your little ones will enjoy. Or try Horizon Dairy for great tasting meals and snacks all made with your child in mind. And try Babyzone for organic goodies for your toddler.
But what about plastics?
There are a lot of chemicals and harmful substances used in making everything from baby toys to the dishes and silverware we use to eat on. One of these in Bisphenol-A, or BPA, which can leach into the foods we eat and the water and juices we drink from the plastic packaging used to display it. To avoid such contamintants, only buy plasticware, plates, forks, spoons, leftover containers and baby bottles that are marked BPA-Free, or pthalate-free. Don’t heat plastic items in the microwave, and don’t wrap your leftovers in cling wrap.If you aren’t sure whether or not your plastic items are free of Bisphenol-A, (BPA) look for the #7 stamped into the container.
These rules are easy to follow and will help you keep your family and future generations safer and healthier.
It has been reported by the National Center for Health Statistics that 1 in 4 children will face a food allergy sometime in their life. While it may seem scary at first, allergies are very common, especially in younger children as their immune system develops, and most children will grow out of them before they reach age five. There are several types of foods that spark an allergic reaction in children, today we will go over a list of these foods, recognizing the wide range of symptoms that are accompanied by eating these foods, and what you can do to protect your little one in the case of a reaction.
Common Food Allergies
Allergic reactions are caused when your body comes into contact with a substance that it cannot tolerate and it produces an immunoglobulin antigen to the substance. The immunoglobulin antigen binds to the food, and then the body’s histamines and other chemical reactions take over, causing the itching, sneezing, swelling, rash and redness that are common symptoms of food allergies. Food allergies are different from food intolerance, like lactose intolerance, because in the cases of intolerance the histamine reaction is not produced.
Several types of foods can cause allergies in young children. Here are a list of the most common:
- Cows Milk
- Tree Nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Shellfish (shrimp, lobster)
Allergies can also be caused by other foods such as vegetables, meats, legumes and seeds, but these are less common and usually less severe. The common allergens offer less of a chance for outgrowth by your child, but can be easily maintained by avoiding the food item, and having an antidote ready in case of contact. Reactions to perservatives and chemicals added to foods can be mistaken for allergies, but actually being allergic to a specific type of chemical is very rare.
Some of the symtpoms that may occur when your child is exposed to a food that they are allergic to are:
- Redness of the skin
- Excema type rash
- Difficulty Breathing
- Stomach Upset
- Loss of conciousness
Although some of these symptoms may seem pretty bad, the most extreme cases are rare, and if you keep an eye on what your child is exposed to you should have a pretty good idea of a problem before anything serious happens. As always, consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about foods that your child consumes, and make sure that any issues you may have are followed up on. There are a series of tests that your doctor can perform to diagnose any allergies that your child may have, including shots, topical application, and even just munching on a possible allergen. It is recommended that you keep a food journal to track your childs exposure to different foods and possbile reactions.
When an allergic reaction does occur the first thing to remember is to nnot panic. It could be possible that your kid comes home from school or daycare swollen like a water balloon, and itching uncontrollably, but you have to keep it together for their sake. If your child has already been diagnosed and your doctor has prescribed you a medication to suppress the histamine reaction, administer the dose immediately, and keep an eye on your kid for a return of the symptoms. If the medication does not work, or you feel the symptoms are too severe, like difficulty breathing, take your child to the closest emergency room, where they can administer a series of shots to stop the reaction and combat the symptoms. A very serious allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, and requires emergency medical assistance.
Now you might be feeling that Mommy urge to put your child in a bubble, and never let him eat anything except water and crackers. While this may work in some third world countries, it isnt healthy or appropriate for your child. Exposure to a wide range of foods is healthy and normal, and most allergies dissappear by the time they reach kindergarten. Kids that eat a wide variety of different foods and easily try new things learn to adapt better as adults and are generally healthier. Avoiding foods that are possibly dangerous to your child isnt always easy, but there are some steps you can take to help:
- Talk to your child about the certain foods and explain why he or she can’t have them. Most kids will avoid anything that chronically makes them feel bad, and teaching them about all of the different allergens that they might be exposed to is a good way to make them more aware of what they put in their mouth.
- Let your child’s teachers, daycare staff, and school nurses know about the allergies. That way if anything happens and you are not around they will have a good idea of what to do in the event of a reaction.
- Try not to have the items in your pantry. Its tough when your husband or other kids love peanut butter, but your baby feels left out because of an allergy. There are a lot of substitutions you can make for certain foods, so experiment and see what everyone can compromise on.
- Teach everyone in your house, immediate family, and anyone who your child may come into contact with, like play groups, friends houses and church groups, what to do in case of an exposure. Make sure they are aware of what your child can and cannot have, and give them the name and number of a doctor to call in case something happens.
Dealing with allergies is tough, but if everyone works together it can be alot easier than battling it alone. Encourage your child to eat right and try a little of everything, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
The commercial markets have been flooded recently with advertising based on different types of salt used in food production, flavoring and presentation. Everyone from McDonalds to Kraft Foods has been pushing sea salt over table salt, or kosher salt over sea salt, or iodized salt over un-iodized, but they forget to mention why! Thanks to a request from a valued reader, I spent a little time doing some research on the subject, and realized…
….that it really doesn’t matter what kind of salt you use. Salt is salt, but if you have specific applications, the different textures and flavors of sea salt, kosher salt, and table salt can be very useful in your final dish’s presentation.
When you are interested in salt from the culinary aspect, the main variable in choosing a salt is its texture. Nutritionally, its the ratio of sodium levels, and other added nutrients that can be found in the different types of salt. All salts are at least 97.5% sodium chloride.
- Table salt is mined only from underground sources. It is very fine, and very smooth, dissolves quickly in water and other liquids, and adds a large amount of flavor in relation to its size. It is best used for baking, soups, and other areas where it is a flavoring agent from the INSIDE of the food item. It also includes a small amount of calcium silicate, which prevents it from clumping when stored in a somewhat damp environment. A teaspoon of table salt is much “saltier” than a teaspoon of kosher or sea salt. It also usually contains iodine, a nutrient necessary for human health but not naturally found in our diets.
- Sea salt is made from larger more-coarse crystals, is easier to take a “pinch” out of, and contains different nutrients than table salt. It is best used as a last minute addition to your meal, the granules offering an aesthetic quality to your meal as well as briny flavor. It is mined directly from ocean and seawater, and is not processed at all, so it contains nutrients that are not normally found in table salt, but usually not in enough quantities to make it nutritionally different to table salt. Because of the large crystals, sea salt tends to lose its flavor when heated. It is usually advertised as more natural than salt mined from underground sources, because it does not need to be processed.
- Kosher salt is mined from underground, or from the sea, and has large white crystals like sea salt. It derives its name from it’s use in the kosher blessing process, and can be used as a substitute for both sea salt and table salt, but is preferred for its help in pickling and preserving foods, or as a salt rub, because the large crystals draw more moisture out of the food than table salt.
Sea salt, kosher salt, and table salt contain the same amounts of sodium by weight, but there different volumes make sea salt and kosher salt slightly healthier, based on just that technicality alone. The larger crystals of sea salt are also more aesthetically pleasing, so it is more often used in the presentation of a dish, whereas table salt is part of the internal structure.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that people keep their sodium intake between 1500 to 2300 mg a day, but many people exceed that number in dangerous levels everyday. They offer a very informative series of online articles about ways to reduce your sodium intake, check those out HERE. Processed foods often contain large amounts of preservatives, which are usually sodium based, and can up your intake into the 10k of mg. To test your knowledge on the differences between salt and sodium, try this QUIZ from HealthCentral.com.