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Lifestyle

How I cleared Gracie’s eczema for good

 

So I’ve recently created a Support and Chat group as an offshoot to my Instagram and Facebook pages as I wanted to create a comfortable and safe place for parents or carers to discuss what they’re currently going through and share knowledge with others going through similar.  I would love for you to join and for us to connect so we can share more of these stories.

Since creating this group I keep getting asked how I cleared Gracie’s eczema and I realised that I haven’t written a more clear and detailed outline on what we did and what worked for us.  Obviously every child is different and I’m not a medical professional, I’m just a Mum who did her research out of desperation to help her daughter.

You can read more about the beginning of our story here

Eczema is a sign that there is inflammation within the body, once you get your head around this you can move forward in working out the causes and helping your child heal.  Unfortunately creams just mask the problems and don’t get to the root cause (believe me I’ve been there!).

One of the main causes of Eczema is ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome‘ which Gracie was diagnosed as having.  This is when the lining of the gut becomes thin and small food particles leak through the gut wall and cause inflammation and food sensitivities.  Gluten and dairy are the biggest food causes for causing eczema, for us it was dairy.  Gracie would consume milk and within hours break out in hives and then eczema all over her body.

Now I understand there can be other triggers for eczema such as environmental rather than food but either way it all comes down to inflammation and the gut plays a major factor.

So how did we tackle it?

  1. We worked out what her triggers were
  2. We eliminated the triggers for quite sometime to give her gut time to rest
  3. We introduced gut healing food
  4. Reintroduction

Working out the triggers

So how did we work out the triggers?  At the beginning of our journey it was quite obvious that dairy was causing a lot of issues. Grace would have milk and with within hours be breaking out in hives and then eczema patches.  She had IgE testing and it all came back negative for the common food allergies and nothing else showed up in other blood work testing.

I decided to get her tested for food intolerances, IgG testing.  If you’re in Australia (Sydney) and interested in Food Intolerance testing I highly recommend Australian Biologics where I took Grace.  Otherwise an Integrative Doctor or even a good Naturopath should be able to assist you with this.

Food Intolerance testing is done via a painless finger prick test and they have a finer paediatric needle for children – Grace didn’t even flinch when she had hers done, which was a relief!  What I like about Australian biologics is that there testing seems to be way more comprehensive than any other tests I’ve seen on the market within Australia.

If you’re finding working out the triggers to be unclear, gluten and dairy are normally the two main food offenders for causing eczema and I would also recommend keeping a food diary to see if you work out a pattern.

Gut rest

Once we worked out the suspected triggers we eliminated them.   I had suspected dairy all along, it wasn’t until we saw Gracie’s Integrative Paediatrician who used her IgG test results as a guide that she just advised us to just stop completely which was overwhelming at first.  One of the main reasons I had sat on the fence for a bit, was my concern for her calcium intake  and how I would make this up without her consuming any form of  dairy.

As well as eliminating these foods I basically ditched anything that was from a packet or even remotely processed.

It took around a three months for Gracie’s eczema to clear completely, the early days are frustrating as you think nothing is happening but slowly and surely her skin cleared and it’s remained clear with no flare ups!

Healing Foods

During this time we rested Gracie’s gut, along with her supplements we tried to introduce as many healing foods as we could.

  • Bone broth – if you’re going to make anything make this!  It’s super easy to make and can be drunk as is, base of a soup and used for cooking casseroles etc
  • As well as taking a good probiotic, I try and make sure Gracie has foods that have Prebiotic properties – so foods that help the existing good flora within the gut.  So think banana flour, onions, leeks and garlic (she’s not keen yet on Sauerkraut ha!)

Reintroduction

Using her IgG test results as a guide, I have very slowly over time tested and reintroduced some foods that showed a lesser reaction successfully.  This is something that we continue to work on in conjunction with her chronic constipation issues (so far she’s never had an eczema flare up!)  The idea being if the gut is healed then these foods should be ok to reintroduce, but this is a process that requires testing and we still have some foods that we have yet to reintroduce on the advice of her doctor because her other issue is yet to be resolved.

I would like to thank Dr Ana-Maria Temple of Family Wellness Tips for allowing me to share some of her wonderful and informative videos that I think you will find really helpful connected to this subject.  Dr Temple is a Paediatrician currently practising in New Zealand, Wife and Mum to 3 beautiful children. Make sure you follow her on Instagram to watch her fantastic 1 minute Paediatric advice videos and wellness tips.

Dr Temple

Videos:

Gut Healing

Leaky Gut

Eczema

Dairy

Dairy Alternatives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I cured my daughters eczema without steroid creams.

Lifestyle

Gracie’s Birthday Party

Cupcakes - Gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Great for the school lunchbox to.

We recently celebrated Gracie’s 3rd birthday on Friday and had a lovely party at home.  Gracie had the best time and Mummy and Daddy were exhausted! I’ve had a few people contact me since and ask what kind of food we ended up making, so I’ve popped the low down here.

Banana cake, gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.

Apple Donuts

No Birthday, would be complete without a Birthday Cake.  I decided to turn one of Gracie’s favourite recipes from Live Love Nourish into a cake.  I doubled the ratio of Casey-Lee’s delicious banana bread and then frosted it following her Coconut Frosting recipe (I coloured it with Beetroot powder) – it was a big hit!

I also baked Paleo Carrot Cakes , ever since I started making these Gracie goes mad for them!  They’re absolutely delicious and with 4 cups of carrots used this in the recipe, I’d say that’s a win!  I also made Chocolate Zucchini Muffins , you would never know these had zucchini in them and no refined sugar, they’re so easy to make and really delicious. And finally, I baked Apple and Cinnamon Donuts packed full of apple and can be made gluten-free, these were a huge hit!

What else:

  • Chopped cucumber and carrots with hummus
  • Fruit Platters
  • Souvlaki sticks
  • Frittata
  • Spelt Sandwiches
  • Zucchini Fritters

If you’re looking for more children’s food party ideas, check out the recent guest post by Little Foodies.

I had a lot of people messaging me, asking what the favours were at Gracie’s party.  I was gifted them from Sticker Me Team.  Sticker Me Team  are offering a 3 Month subscription for the price of 2 to all my followers – just use the promo code “healinggraciesgut” when you check out. One use per customer and valid until 31st July 2017 and only open to Australian residents. Check our their Facebook & Instagram profiles.

Lifestyle

Keep Calm & Carry On

Keep Calm & Carry On

Last week was finally the week we saw Gracie’s Integrative Paedritician Dr Leila Masson.  We had a big gap between her last appointment as she had to relocate back overseas, but she’s returned to Australia for a few weeks to see patients and to be a speaker at the International MINDD conference for practitioners.

As I mentioned in previous posts, the past several weeks have been tough with Gracie’s chronic constipation getting to the point where it was very hard to manage (and very stressful).  We pinpointed the change in her gut from a bad 24 hour Gastro bug she had which seems to have completely upset her system.

What I love about seeing an Integrative Doctor is the difference in how they look and treat their patients.  Dr Masson examined Gracie feeling her tummy, checking her skin, nails etc and the outcome of these examinations build up a picture and part of her treatment plan.

Because of the current blip and her severe constipation we have had to swap Gracie over to a stronger laxative (not happy!), so the plan is to increase her supplements a bit more and to try and work on weaning her back down on the laxative.

Dr Masson also recommended Gracie have a Faecal Microbial Analysis test (FMA), which is done via a stool sample and looks at the microflora of your intestinal tract – it is different to the standard stool tests you have done at your local GP.  The lab culture, identify and quantify faecal bacteria, including aerobes, anaerobes, and yeasts.  Luckily I had only recently done a FMA test myself for my own health issues and Dr Masson was happy to use my results as a guide in treating Gracie (a child’s gut flora is similar to their mother’s), so we are now sharing a Probiotic called ‘Mutaflor’ for different reasons.  Mutaflor is meant to be a very effective probiotic for treating chronic constipation. However, if  we don’t see any improvement after three months we are to going to get Gracie’s own FMA test done to see if it sheds any further light into what’s going on within her gut.

As we were discussing Gracie, Dr Masson made a really good point that Gracie is most likely picking up on all my nervous tension around her situation and that I basically need to back off a bit (which I find hard to do!).  All the way home I was thinking about it and realise how very uptight I’ve become about this whole situation and that I do need to try and back off as Grace is of the age that she understands and is picking up on everything and I definitely don’t want to do anything that is going to impede her.

When I look back I realise that we have come a super long way in our journey.  We’ve managed to completely clear up her eczema, which has never reappeared and also managed to reintroduce some foods that now don’t seem to be an issue.  Sometimes you get so caught up with the daily things you don’t realise just how far you have come.

So that’s where we are today – I’m hoping the Mutaflor plus all the other things we are doing will help to resolve her issues and I’m going to try and remain more calm about things (hmmm that might be the hardest part!)

If anyone is interested Dr Leila Masson has written a wonderful book called ‘Children’s Health A to Z for New Zealand Parents‘ it’s not just for New Zealand parents,  it’s for any parent who is interested in a natural approach to common ailments.  I have purchased it and its such a handy book! 

On a side note I also wanted to share that I’ve created a Facebook Support and Chat group  for parents who are going through similar issues and it would be great to connect with you all over there.

 

‘Healing Gracie’s Gut’ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Lifestyle

Allergy Families Interview

Vivian is a Doctor originally from the UK and has recently relocated with her family to the States.  Both Vivian’s children have suffered from severe allergies which has lead to the creation of her fantastic Blog ‘Allergy Families‘ which is an amazing resource for families who have allergies and food intolerances.

I recently caught up with Vivian to find out more about herself and her blog.

What made you start your blog?

I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time now…. but just never found the time juggling being a GP and mum to two young kids.

It is incredible how unaware the general public and medical professionals can be with allergy. They don’t take it seriously and many medical professionals miss the diagnosis because symptoms can be so subtle and there are just no good tests for some allergies. My daughter was hospitalised and tube fed at 8 weeks of age because no doctor (including myself) recognised her symptoms as being caused by milk allergy. People thought she had reflux, then behavioural issues, because she just stopped feeding. She would cry with hunger, drink a little bit of milk then push the bottle away, arch her back and turn her head. She cried all the time and I was desperate and sleep deprived. It wasn’t until I did my own research and found a dietician with expertise in the area that she got the help she needed. Thankfully it is probably more widely recognised now, but if it was so hard for a doctor to help her own children with allergies, I can’t imagine what it is like for non-health professionals.

Since I started researching and learning about allergies, I have been able to be an advocate for my patients, friends whose children have blaringly obvious food allergies (to me anyway) but undiagnosed by their own doctors.

That’s why I started my blog – I didn’t want my help to be restricted to those who knew me. I knew that if I started a blog my reach could be much wider, and I would be able to help more people. I wanted to share my journey, tips and useful medical information I learnt along the way.

There are many things which I found out that are helpful for kids with allergies which my allergists never told me. Things like probiotics – which a lot of allergists still insist has no good evidence but I believe gut health is key to children outgrowing allergies.

Do you think being a Doctor made the process to get a diagnoses and treatment plan easier?

Yes and No. To this day I still have massive mother guilt for missing the diagnosis in my own daughter. But I had access to a network of top healthcare professionals and I’m sure my daughter’s diagnosis would be even more delayed had it not for my own contacts.

Treatment plan is another matter – I was in desperate search for things that would help my daughter outgrow her allergies. Maybe I was in denial, maybe I just did not want to spend the rest of my life constantly worrying about accidental ingestion and walking on eggshells. This was where I felt like I was up against a brick wall. No one gave me any answers. Everyone told me to just avoid the food and hope they outgrew their allergies. But I did not want to do that. So I did my own research and reading, attended all the allergy lectures to gain a better understanding. In a way, being a doctor has helped because I knew where to look for reliable information, and I had access to all the allergy training events.

What advice would you give parents who suspect their child has a food allergy or intolerance?

Trust your gut instincts – you really do know your child best. Read my blog post on subtle symptoms of allergy (http://allergyfamilies.com/food-allergies/how-to-know-my-child-has-a-food-allergy/) – it is not all lip swelling/rash/wheezing. The symptoms can be so subtle: constipation, abdominal pains, aversive feeding, diarrhoea. If you suspect your child might have an allergy – don’t stop looking for a doctor who takes you seriously! Western tests are good at picking up IgE mediated allergies (but these are really easy to spot anyway, you don’t need a test when someone’s lips swell up after eating something). But it is the non IgE allergies which are being missed all the time and it is a shame that children and their parents are suffering unnecessarily because doctors are not trained to spot these. Just because a skin prick test or blood test is negative, does not mean your child is not allergic to a food. Elimination is actually the gold standard but this should not be done without consulting a healthcare professional first.

How are your children now?

My daughter is 8 and she was allergic to milk, egg and peanut. She has outgrown all these now. My son is 6, and was allergic to milk, egg, wheat, kiwi, peanut, walnut, pecan, cod, lemons and now ‘just’ allergic to milk, peanut, walnut, pecans.  He is currently on the milk ladder where I am introducing boiled milk at small increments to see if he can tolerate it, and he appears to be starting to grow out of his milk allergy too (touch wood)!

What’s been your biggest learning curve?

Broadening my mind and horizon to what I didn’t know. Before my kids, I was a pretty narrow minded doctor who would laugh at anything holistic or complementary (e.g. homeopathy) because the scientific evidence for these are weak. However, mainstream medicine failed me when I needed it. I was not able to help my daughter and it was so frustrating for me as a doctor. The more I read, the more I realised that the gut is central to a lot of diseases. And actually, focusing on ‘allergy’ without assessing gut health is treating surface symptoms without the root cause, I became more open minded through my own research and reading; I realised that, actually, integrative medicine is the best way to practise medicine. Now I use nutrition and natural remedies in combination with mainstream medicine.

What are you favourite gut boosting foods?

  • Fermented foods because they contain enzymes to help us digest the food, probiotics and prebiotics
  • Probiotics supplement
  • Bone broth – there is a reason why this gem is found in culinary traditions around the world – it contains amino acids and collagen which is healing for the gut.
  • Fibre – a high fibre diet supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and if probiotic supplement is not supported by a high fibre intake, the expensive bacteria wouldn’t survive in your gut anyway. Children do need calories to grow, however, so be careful to balance this as most high fibre foods are not calorific.

Find out more about Vivian and her blog here (sign-up to her newsletter to receive her weekly tips): www.allergyfamilies.com

 

A doctor and allergy mum's journey to help her severely allergic children grow out of their allergies. If you're interested in functional medicine this is a must read.

Viv's Healing Bone Broth

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lb (1.3Kg) marrow bones (grass fed beef preferably)
  • 18 cups water
  • 5 pieces of cloves
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • 1 piece of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 inch segment of ginger

Instructions

1

In an oven or over a grill, char the onion, bulb of garlic and ginger - I normally put it on a top rack in the oven and put on full heat grill. The onion and garlic will char first - remove these, and let the ginger char slightly. Let it cool down, and remove the completely burnt bits.

2

In a pan, roast the cloves, star anise, cinnamon, black peppercorns - low heat, this brings out their flavor. When cooled, place into a spice bag (you can get these in asian supermarkets, or make them yourself from muslin/cheese cloth. If you don't mind the odd bit of peppercorn in your soup, you can also just drop these loose into the pan.

3

Parboil the bones - in a pan, put the bones in and cover with just enough water, and bring to boil with lid on. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain and wash all the impurities that have come out in the boil with water.

4

Put parboiled, cleaned bones back in the pan, put in 18 cups of water. add the spice bag (or just drop the spices in loose).

5

Bring back to boil. Then switch to low heat and leave on stove for at least 8 but up to 24 hours ( I normally do 10, by that time you really start to see the broth turning cloudy which indicates all the amino acids, collagen being boiled into the soup).

Notes

You can make bone broth using any vegetables but I like to add herbs that are good for the digestion/gut to give it even more goodness: Cloves - great for digestion, and rich in antioxidants (fights tissue and free radical damage) Black peppercorn - again fabulous for digestion and also increases bioavailability of lots of nutrients, helping the body to absorb them Star anise - anti fungal, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant Cinnamon - anti-inflammatory (helps body repair any inflamed or damaged tissue), improves insulin sensitivity, reduces heart disease

Lifestyle

Live Love Nourish Interview

Casey-Lee is a qualified Nutritionist, Naturopath and mother to another little Gracie,  based in Brisbane, Australia.  I just love her outlook to food and we adore her delicious recipes.  All Casey-Lee’s recipes are Gluten, Dairy and refined sugar-free which makes them a fantastic resource for families who have food allergies and/or intolerances and are looking to transition to a more wholesome way of eating.

I recently caught up with Casey-Lee to find out more about herself and Live Love Nourish.

How has becoming a mother affected your outlook on food?

As a Nutritionist and Naturopath my outlook on food has always been of an understanding and respect for how much food can impact our health and the way we feel on a daily basis. Now as a mum I have an even greater respect (and real experience) for the influence food has on our children’s development, behaviour and ability to thrive. Becoming a mother has also made me become much more time-efficient in the kitchen with a great appreciation for making recipes that are not only kid-friendly but time-friendly too as well as embracing a messy kitchen!

What lead you to become a qualified nutritionist and naturopath?

Growing up I always had an interest in natural health and was lucky enough to be surrounded by a family interested in healthy living also. Becoming qualified meant I could share my passion for helping others to live a healthier and happier life.

Why are all your recipes Gluten, Dairy and refined-sugar free?

I really believe in the benefits of eating a whole-foods diet (avoiding processed and packaged food as much as possible). When you stick to fresh and whole food you naturally eliminate the processed sources of gluten, dairy and sugar and instead begin to cook with real food ingredients that love your body back. As I teach in my 8 week online program, I also believe in tuning in to your body to find a diet that best works for you and your body’s unique needs. For me that means cutting out gluten, dairy and refined sugar. My recipes are all 100% free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar catering for anyone looking to embrace a whole-foods way of eating as well as to support anyone with food sensitivities and special dietary requirements.

Can you tell us a bit about Live Love Nourish and the philosophy behind it?

Live Love Nourish is an online health website that specialises in sharing healthy, simple and real food recipes (all free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar) as well as practical nutrition and lifestyle advice and the Live Love Nourish signature 8 week program. I believe health requires a holistic approach and we feel our best when we live true to ourselves, have love for ourself and others and nourish our body. Hence, the philosophy behind LLN is to “live the real you, love truly and deeply and nourish from the inside out”.

What’s your favourite family meal?

This changes week-to- week! At the moment, I’m loving my healthy version of “fish and chips;” crispy skin salmon with homemade sweet potato chips seasoned with spices and served with an avocado dipping sauce. My toddler Gracie loves this too.

What advice would you give to families navigating special dietary requirements?

Navigating special dietary requirements can be a little challenging at first but here are some tips I hope help you along your way to better health:

Keep it simple. Use simple ingredients.

  • Stick to whole and real foods, as close to their natural state as possible
  • Avoid packaged food as much as possible (this is what can often complicate the process with having to read and interpret labels)
  • Stick for fresh food as much as you can
  • Try new recipes and ingredients you haven’t cooked with before
  • Get your kids involved in the kitchen. The more involvement they have with food, the better their relationship with food will become and the more willing they will be to trying new foods
  • Start with a well-stocked pantry and fridge. Having healthy options on hand makes meal time easier
  • Plan ahead. Plan your week of meals on the weekend prior. This will help to reduce food stress at meal times
  • Be kind on yourself. Allow a little extra time and space at first. Seek support where you can.

If you are looking for help with what to stock in a healthy, gluten, dairy and sugar free kitchen, the Live Love Nourish Pantry Detox e-book is currently on sale for AU$5. The e-book includes an extensive list of ingredients to stock, healthy swaps and alternatives and money-saving tips.

As a friend of Healing Gracie’s Gut receive a $50 discount off The Live Love Nourish 8 Week Online Program using the code NOURISH at the checkout. The program is an online guide to help you live a healthier and happier life and includes 8 weeks of meal plans all done for you, (all free from gluten, dairy and sugar) shoppings lists, nutritional guides and support to develop a healthy relationship with food.

For more simple and healthy recipes (free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar) please visit: www.livelovenourish.com.au

After hearing how much Gracie loved the Live Love Nourish ‘free from’ banana bread Casey-Lee is kindly sharing this amazing recipe.  The Live Love Nourish Banana Bread is free from gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, eggs  and sugar!

Live Love Nourish Banana Bread

Print Recipe
Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 large ripe bananas (500g peeled), cut into pieces (+ 1 extra to decorate)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup (110g) buckwheat flour*
  • 3/4 cup (60g) organic desiccated coconut
  • 2 tsp gf baking powder
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla powder

Instructions

1

Pre-heat fan-forced oven to 180°C.

2

In a blender or food processor blend banana and melted coconut oil until smooth (be careful not to over blend*)

3

In a medium mixing bowl combine buckwheat, coconut, baking powder and vanilla.

4

Add banana and coconut oil mixture and combine well.

5

Pour batter into a lined loaf tin.

6

Bake in oven for 55-60 minutes or until cooked through.

7

Allow to cool on a baking before slicing.

Lifestyle

Julia Simmonds – Itchy Baby Co Interview

 

Julia Simmonds is a mother to the gorgeous Christian and Sofia, a registered pharmacist and founder of Itchy Baby Co.  Itchy Baby Co produce natural products for parents of children who suffer from eczema and sensitive skin.

I recently interviewed Julia to find out more about herself and her fantastic products.

Fun question to start with!  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

This morning, like every morning, I felt my way to my coffee machine and drew a very long black. Made the kids breakfast and then blended a spinach, banana, ginger, cinnamon and oat smoothie. I really like this for breakfast because I can sip it on the go.

Why did you create Itchy Baby Co?

Itchy baby co. was born from a really dark place. I was struggling to manage my little boy Christian’s eczema and desperate to try anything which would give him some relief physically and me some relief emotionally. Finally I stumbled across the wonder of colloidal oatmeal and it grew from there.

What was the turning point in your son’s recovery?

I would love to say it was only using natural itchy baby co. products and the sticking to our bathtime and moisturising routine every day, and no doubt this has been a huge part of it. Other changes I have made is trying to keep what we eat and any products used in our home as natural, organic, unprocessed and chemical free as possible.

What’s your opinion on the link between food allergies/intolerances and eczema?

With eczema we are always looking for something which can bring our little ones relief, and eliminating certain foods from your child’s diet is really tempting. In some children with severe eczema taking away certain foods from their diet can help manage their eczema. It’s important to remember that foods can be a trigger for eczema but eating a particular food does not cause eczema. So, taking away a food from your child’s diet might improve their skin, but will not cure their eczema.

What’s your advice to parents whose children have eczema?

Stay strong. You are doing the best you can. Not everything you do will get results and often it’s a combination of different things you try which can help your child.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Moisturising, moisturising, bath time and then more moisturising. In between that I spend time connecting with parents who are living with the challenge of managing their child’s eczema by email, facebook, insta and writing my blog. On really special days I’m testing new itchy baby co. products on my Christian and Sofia and many of their friends.

How do you try and keep a healthy, balanced life?

Mentally I always try to look ahead and keep focused on my mission to help young families struggling with eczema. Physically I keep an exercise mat in my home office and try to make regular contact with it. Emotionally I cuddle my children as often as they’ll let me.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR HEALING GRACIE’S GUT READERS:  Receive 20% off individual bath soaks or the bath assortment pack on your first order when you use the code ‘gracie20’ during checkout.

Itchy Baby Co has also just started shipping to the US as well!

 

(please note I receive no commission from any sales of this product, I just highly rate it!)

 

Itchy Baby Co Interview.  Julia Simmonds is a mother (and registered pharmacist) to a child who had severe eczema so she created a product to help ease his condition.

Lifestyle

Interview: Skye Abrahams of Packed

Packed Lunch

Founded by Mum of three boys Skye Abrahams, Packed is a Melbourne business supplying real food lunchboxes to children in pre-school to grade 3.

Launching in February, Packed only uses the best quality local produce and organic wherever possible.  A new menu is prepared each term based on seasonal ingredients and no additives, preservatives or refined sugar are ever used.

I caught up with Skye recently to find out more about herself and Packed.

How did the idea for Packed come about?

Packed has come about as a combination of a life-long passion for health and food, and noticing a gap in the market for truly healthy, sustainable lunchboxes. Packed will target Melbourne schools that either don’t have a tuckshop, or only have unhealthy options. I hear many parents complaining about the greasy corner milkbar without a single gluten free option and not a vegetable in sight. Parents deserve a day or two off the lunchbox treadmill, and the quality of their children’s lunches shouldn’t have to suffer in order to achieve this.

Will you be offering special dietary requirement options?

Yes! All our lunches are refined sugar free and free from additives including preservatives, colours and flavours. We also have plenty of gluten and dairy free options available.

Skye Abrahams

Skye Abrahams

What does “sustainability” mean to Packed and why should parents care?

I really didn’t want to create a take away option that put a further strain on the environment. We’re early days at Packed, so we’re currently operating using Greenmark compostable packaging, but the plan is to operate using a fleet of stainless steel lunchboxes that we collect and wash each day from school (watch this space!). Parents are more time poor than ever before, with many families having both parents working. It’s easy to see why readily packaged foods are so popular. I want to provide a convenient option that eliminates packaging entirely. Many schools are promoting “nude food”, so it’s great to be able to supply a lunch that is in line with this philosophy.

What’s your approach to feeding a growing family?

In a nutshell: Just eat real food. I have overcome some serious fussy eating in our family (think plain carbs only). I find consistently offering a broad, healthy, colourful spread of food and discussing the benefits of various food with the children has really helped broaden their palate. We also talk about the detrimental affects too much sugar and “fake food” full of numbers can have on our body. I notice behavioural side effects following high amounts of sugar and especially artificial colours, so I always use that as an opportunity to talk about how that food made them feel. I don’t like to demonise any food, so I try not to get too uptight about what the boys might eat at a party or a friend’s house, but educating them on the benefits of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins and having these foods at the centre of their diet is my mandate.Guac

What’s your boys favourite lunch?

They all have different favourites! The older two love fresh fruit, especially berries. I craved raspberries during pregnancy and it’s easy to see where that came from! I caught one of them trading pocket money for the youngest’s left over egg and lettuce sandwich, so that is evidently a current fave! My youngest loves a hot meal, so in the cooler months I send leftovers in a thermos for him. I’m hoping to be out at schools with a pot of warm soup as part of our “Packed” lunch service in the winter months!

What’s the one food you couldn’t live without?

Another tricky one! I’m going to say avocado. How good are avocados?! Fortunately, all three of my boys like avocado, so that is a super easy lunch if I’m short on time. So full of vitamins and healthy fats to fill them up. I remember travelling overseas when my youngest had just started solids. Not wanting to rely on packet food, but not having access to a kitchen, bubs enjoyed many a mashed avo, mashed banana, natural yoghurt, or squashed peach!

To find out more about Packed click here

 

Skye's Simple Guacamole

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe haas avocados
  • 1 lime, peeled
  • 1/4 red onion (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt

Instructions

1

Thermomix or food processor:

2

Add all ingredients & mix 5 secs speed 5.

3

Top with chopped coriander if you're a fan

4

Otherwise mash avos with a fork, juice lime & stir through the rest

5

Serve with tacos, or as an after school snack with veggie sticks

Lifestyle

Well Nourished – Georgia Harding Interview

Well Nourished

I would like to give a very warm welcome to the lovely Georgia Harding from Well Nourished.  Georgia is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience living in sunny Queensland with her two  lovely children and husband.

As a background, I stumbled across Georgia, via her Well Nourished Lunchbox Facebook group (which has amassed a huge following!) and swiftly purchased her Well Nourished Lunchbox e-book which has now become a firm favourite in our household.

Fun question to start with! What was the last book you read?

Con Iggulden Conqueror Series – a series of five books that basically tell the life story of Genghis Khan, they were brilliant. The most fascinating part for me is learning how the Mongols survived trekking the harshest climate consuming mostly milk (from their horses and goats), dried meat and root vegetables (while they lasted) and when desperate, they nicked an artery and drank the blood of their mares. Even the heaviest reads come back to food for me – ha ha!

What was your inspiration for starting Well Nourished?

Definitely my kids. I really wanted to help families to feed their kids well. The predictions for the long term health and wellbeing of this generation is pretty dire. Starting my website was my way of sharing my experience as a Naturopath and my passion for making whole foods utterly delicious to make a difference.

How have your own health problems shaped the way you eat?

I’ve always eaten pretty well, I was very lucky to be raised by a very health conscious mum. I’ve been seriously ill twice in my lifetime and I suppose this has actually forced me to look beyond food to heal. On both occasions stress, unresolved grief and pushing myself beyond reasonable limits contributed a lot to my health decline. Eating well comes very naturally, I love cooking – but managing my stress, putting myself first occasionally is a work in progress!

Has your philosophy on food changed since having children?

I suppose I’ve been forced to loosen up a bit. I found with my first child I was very strict around food which was okay when she was little but when she began school and socialising with other kids I had to back of a lot in order for her to develop a healthy relationship with food. Kids are human, it’s normal for them to want what others have so I feed my family very well when I’m in charge, but at parties and sleep overs, they make their own choices (with my guidance and ongoing food education of course). When they don’t make good choices, we talk about how they feel and now my daughter is 12 (and has gorged herself on junk plenty of times) she is now very aware of how food makes her feel and I’m so proud of how she is able to make very healthy choices these days. Paves the way for her being able to self regulate as an adult.

What top 3 tips would you give to families looking to transition to a more wholesome way of eating?

  1. Start slowly, choose one meal or food group and focus on that. Fill your pantry and fridge with mostly whole foods so there is less temptation to choose processed meals and snacks.
  2. Talk to your kids (and spouse) about the importance of making changes and how eating whole food helps their body and brain to be stronger, smarter etc;
  3. Get them involved, ask for their feedback and support. Encourage them to help you when shopping and cooking – kids who feel they have had some involvement in their meal are way more likely to eat it.  

What advice would you give to parents whose children have food intolerances/allergies but are going through a fussy eating stage?

All kids will go through a fussy stage at some point. It’s important to never give in to it and substitute a healthy whole food with nutritionally void food (because ‘something is better than nothing’). I understand that it is tough, but in my experience preventing food fussiness is easier than reversing it and if you give in once, your kids learn that they choose (where as you choose what and when, they choose how much). I have a whole library of information and strategies written on this topic which I’m hoping to release this year.

What’s your go-to family meal?

We eat such a varied diet – the upside of having a compulsively creative cook in charge!! If I’m feeling lazy though it will be some kind of simply cooked protein and a big salad.

What exciting things have you got lined up in 2017?

My website is in the process of being rebranded and rebuilt. I’m also developing an online library (of mostly podcasts) to help busy parents to raise food loving kids (and banish food fussiness). I’ve teamed up with a fabulous psychotherapist to share this fabulous info with loads of actionable strategies to really get kids eating and loving whole foods like my own do. Also a small pictorial cookbook of easy, whole food recipes that even little kids can cook from. Busy year!!

Take 10% off ‘The Well Nourished Lunchbox’ eBook until the end of February with the code ‘NEWYEAR’ at checkout (normally $24.95). 

Please note as an affiliate of Well Nourished I will receive a small commission from the sale of each e-book that is made via my website.  This helps to cover some of the running costs with maintaining my blog and also go towards some of Gracie’s medical expenses.  

Three-ingredient-chocolate-brownie1-980x600

THREE INGREDIENT BROWNIE

Print Recipe
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sized, very ripe bananas (2 cups approx.)*
  • 250g (1 cup) nut butter (any kind you like, such as peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter etc;)
  • 60g (½ cup) cacao powder (you can use less if you prefer a less intense chocolate flavour)

Instructions

1

Preheat your oven to 180℃ and line a small brownie tin with baking paper.

2

Mix all of the ingredients together in a powerful blender or food processor (Thermomix, 15sec, speed 5).

3

Pour into the lined tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm to touch.

4

Allow to cool and slice into squares. These can be frozen for up to a month.

Notes

*The more ripe the bananas, the sweeter these will be. As there are no other sweeteners ripe bananas are a must.

Lifestyle

Petit Kiddo Interview

Petit Kiddo

As a parent whose child suffers from eczema and sensitive skin, I’m always looking for products that fit the bill.  Although Gracie’s eczema has virtually cleared she is prone to terrible nappy rashes so I was very excited last year to stumble across Petit Kiddo.

Petit Kiddo is a natural alternative to baby wipes which has been created by two French born, Bondi friends, Canelle and Morgan who have six kids in total between them.

I thought it was only apt that I interviewed the two ladies to find out more about them and their fab product.

Fun question to start with! What book are you reading at the moment?

Canelle: I’ve just opened “Les Chaussures Italiennes” by Henning Mankell a thriller. But the more I read it, the more I realise that I’ve read this book already, probably 2 or 3 years ago. This is the first time I done this, I can’t remember any of it except that I’ve read it though! I like to read in French my mother tongue but used to read in English when I was living in France.

Morgan:  I am currently reading a trilogy written by Italian author Elena Ferrante. A book depicting wonderfully the life of 2 girls in the Napoli of the 1950’s till today.  I always read in French because for me, reading is a time for evasion and should not require any effort!

With six children between you, how do you try and achieve a balanced life?

Canelle: So we have 3 children each, I “only” take care of mine and their many friends and activities. We have absolutely no family around but we have lots of friends here for support but they all have kids and busy lives. We miss the mix of generations that we could have had if we were living where our families live, you know, the elderly, the youngest etc….We do it all.

Launching a business doesn’t make it easy. Let’s be honest, it’s a juggling act, pretty much unbalanced for me…it is getting better, my youngest is 4 and every week is getting a tiny bit more easier.

Morgan:  My first is 10 and youngest 6 so it got easier compared to when I was still in nappy days. It is all about being flexible in the working hours, evenings and days. I am also relying a lot on my husband. And the kids helps when need be to!

How did Petit Kiddo come about?

Canelle: I had this idea of doing a local version of this very specific French Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment when my first bub was born, 10 years ago. Then, 2 others babies were added to the fam bam, we moved around a bit, changed jobs etc….so it was on the back burner.

Canelle and Morgan

Canelle & Morgan at Bondi Markets

Then my youngest was growing older, I was still thinking about this idea and I didn’t enjoy the job I had. I talked about it with Morgan when we met for a holiday in southern France 3 years ago. Back then, she was living in Italy with her family.

I started it on my own, super interesting, overwhelming and challenging. After 6 months I realised I would do better with a partner. I wanted someone I knew well and someone who knew the product as well as I did. Morgan joined in, we worked on Skype for months and then she relocated to Sydney!

MorganWhen Canelle proposed to join in, I was excited to jump on board with an idea and a project I always believed in. I was also interested in the challenge of developing a business, and even more to develop a product that I believed will make the difference to carers and parents in Australia.

What is the difference between Petit Kiddo and using baby wipes?  

Canelle: Well, wipes will clean your baby’s bum. That’s it, then comes, the nappy cream, and sometimes even powder. Depending on the brand you are using, wipes can really irritate your baby’s skin because of their ingredients; some will also irritate it because they leave the skin too wet.

Our Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment will cleanse your baby’s bum very thoroughly, but will also moisturise it and protect it from the next wee/poo that will happen very shortly after. It is based on an ancient French recipe and specially formulated to balance the pH of the skin. It is a 3 in 1 product. The more you use it the better the skin is.

Morgan:  Firstly it is an all natural product that is really healthy for your baby skin. Most wipes irritate the skin and require in addition a moisturiser or baby barrier.

The beauty of Petit Kiddo baby bum cleanser is that it relies within the fact that you only need one product and a support ( cotton or washcloths). It does it all.  

Finally it is a product in line with today’s awareness towards the place we live in and need to respect: the earth and our environment. Using petit kiddo is helping reduce pollution unlike wipes.

What’s your favourite go to family meal?

Canelle: We have 2 at the moment: Tacos, I prepared a big batch of meat/veggies kind of chili pot and then freeze some for the following week. My kids love it as they can do it “themselves”. They add avocado, chopped fresh tomatoes, grated cheese, I love it as I can hide heaps of veggies in the dish. Dumplings: When we are brave and have time we make some – I found a great recipe on the Red Tent’s website – but we mainly get the frozen pack from Harris Farm 😉  My 10 year is starting to enjoy cooking, so she searches through cookbooks.

Morgan:  Having lived the past 4 years in Rome, pasta is definitely our favourite dish. Arguments go around the amatriciana or the carbonara …Otherwise homemade crepes and risotto of chicken and zucchinis.

If you’d like to find out more information about Petit Kiddo head to their website

Lifestyle

Beginnings

Us

As there’s only so much you can write on Instagram, I wanted to finally introduce ourselves properly and where our journey began.

I’ve actually written this piece so many times (and in my head!), it’s actually quite emotional and therapeutic in some ways to share our story and journey so far.

So here we go…..

I had an amazing pregnancy with Gracie, no complications apart from needing to have my thyroid levels monitored as I have Hashimotos autoimmune disease – thankfully my then functioning thyroid liked being pregnant and my levels were always within range.

Unfortunately nothing could have prepared me for the horrific labour, delivery and year afterwards, to say it was probably the hardest time I’ve experienced physically and emotionally is an understatement.

Because of the serious medical complications I suffered from, and the time it took to get diagnosed and treated, I never produced enough breast-milk (yes I tried everything including natural alternatives, medication and lactation consultant to no avail). Therefore Gracie was mixed fed up until 7 months old and then exclusively formula fed until 12 months.

Up until then there were no signs or symptoms from what we could tell that she had any issues at all.  However all this changed when we transitioned her to cows milk…

At first it was her skin, she started to break out in bright red eczema patches in a few places and then more and more popped up, all over her body.  I took Grace to our local GP who initially said she would “grow out” of the eczema and that her skin “wasn’t bad enough” to warrant being referred on, much to my frustration!  A couple of weeks later I returned as nothing had changed and this time the Dr suggested that I could do a stop giving Grace fresh cow’s milk and to give her toddler formula for a few weeks to see if it made a difference.

As I was desperate at that point, I stupidly tried for a couple of weeks.  It didn’t make much difference to her skin but I feel this is when I started to notice she was becoming constipated.

After being fobbed off, getting no-where and poor Gracie’s situation getting worst I started to do my own research.   I was able to locate a holistic paediatrician who kicked-started getting her on the right path and my huge learning curve on gut health.

Unfortunately we got to the point where Gracie’s progress started to plateau and as time past I became increasingly frustrated and decided to start researching again to find someone/a way to get her issues resolved.

As I started my search for another doctor to get us back on track, I decided to get Grace tested for food intolerances.  She had previously had a range of blood tests done (allergy, vitamin deficiencies, FBC etc) and nothing of consequence had showed up – much to my frustration to get answers!

Within a week we got the results back – to my horror over 30 foods had a reading from slight to strong reaction.  As we thought, Cow’s Milk came top of the list, however more surprisingly rice came up with quite a high reading.  At this point Grace had been gluten-free for quite sometime and the majority of gluten-free products are made with rice flour – finally it was starting to make sense why we couldn’t get on top of her getting better.

Around the sametime I happened to stumble across a post on a Facebook Mothers’ group about a fantastic Integrative Paediatrician, I couldn’t make the appointment quick enough.

The Doctor worked like no other I had ever come across.  She told us that we needed to immediately stop all forms of dairy and basically all the other foods that had shown up in the results, it all needed to be eliminated to help her gut heal.

We were told that she had Leaky Gut Syndrome and that dairy was most likely the root cause of it.

As well as cutting out all these foods, we would need to give Grace a variety of different supplements to assist in building her gut flora up again, reduce the inflammation and to get her bowels functioning again as they were currently in a very sluggish state.

So where are we today?

Grace’s eczema has virtually disappeared and her skin texture has completely changed, her allergy shiners under her eyes have gone! Her gut is a million times better than it was and she no longer longer suffers from constant tummy discomfort and cries when she needs to poo (my poor baby!).

We still have some way to go, but for now we are thankful we are on the right track.  Some weeks it’s one step forward and two steps back but this is our journey and I know we will get there to heal Gracie’s gut.