Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting milk into your child's diet

Milk has to be one of the great wonder foods, and luckily it is something that most children will drink quite easily. It is a wonderful source of protein with approximately 8g per cup, as well as containing excellent levels of vitamin K, which can be hard to get into your child's diet if they do not like leafy green vegies.

Consumption of dairy has been associated with adult weight loss for quite a while, but recent studies have also associated low fat milk with the prevention of childhood obesity. Low fat milk is recommended for children over 2 years of age (infants under two need the fat in whole milk for brain development) as it minimises the consumption of saturated fat while still providing all the other vitamins and minerals.

Try these yummy suggestions for adding milk/dairy to your child's (and your!) diet:

  • make yummy smoothies - keep a supply of frozen banana chunks in your freezer, and blend with milk, yoghurt and other fresh soft fruits. the frozen banana really helps to make the smoothie thick and luscious and icy cold.

  • use hot milk instead of water to make some instant couscous - stir in some brown sugar, chopped dried fruit (my favourite is apricots) and top with a dollop of yoghurt for a fabulous hot breakfast in less than five minutes

  • add hot milk, raisins, cinnamon and crushed almonds to leftover cooked brown rice for a delicious and instant rice pudding

  • make oatmeal or other hot cereals with milk instead of yoghurt

  • make a luxurious (and healthy) hot chocolate by simmering milk and some chopped dark chocolate over low heat until the mixture is hot and velvety. For the kids (who may want it a bit sweeter) add in some honey.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Additive Alert

For those of you with young children, I highly recommend reading the book Additive Alert by Julie Eady which contains a lot of information about the additives in our food, and the adverse effects that some of them can have on our children. What I really like about this book is that the information is very balanced - it is not a "no additives whatsoever and lets ban all processed foods while we are at it" kind of book, it is about making informed choices, and choosing the best options. I thought I would include an excerpt from her latest newsletter about developments regarding the banning of certain additives in the UK, as well as a yummy colour and artificial flavour free berry cordial recipe. For those of you who are interested, you can sign up for her newsletter at

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UK Calls For Additive Ban - FSANZ Do Nothing

Following on from the publication of the Southhampton study in September 2007, the UK FSA has completed a detailed review of the study findings, and has called for 6 of the colour additives in the study to be phased out of use by the end of 2009.

The Southhampton study looked at the effect of a combination of food colours and the preservative sodium benzoate, and found that these additives in combination had a definite adverse effect in relation to hyperactivity and behaviour in children generally, not just in those with a history of ADHD.

The Chairperson of the UK Food Standards Agency, Dame Deirdre Hutton, said that it was the duty of the FSA to put the consumers first , and called for the additives to be phased out of all foods, not just those targeted at children.

The UK FSA will recommend that the European Food Standards Agency follow up this action with a legislative ban, but this is a process which could take some years to finalise. The colours to be banned are tartrazine (102), quinoline yellow( 104) sunset yellow (110), carmoisine (122), ponceau red (124) and allura red (129).

In Australia, FSANZ have no plans to follow the precautionary lead of the UK FSA. FSANZ have dismissed the study findings as "interesting" and claim that the evidence provided in the study was "not strong."

It is hard to understand how there can be such disparity between the 2 agencies, and this placating response from FSANZ demonstrates just how out of touch our regulator is with consumer sentiment.

We will be launching a campaign calling for these additives to be removed from our foods also in the near future,so please stay tuned for that one as we will need full lobbying power when the campaign is launched.

Click here to view story about the UK decision.

Berry Cordial

Whilst we are waiting for a good product to hit the supermarket shelves, here is an easy, yummy was to make cordial at home.

500gm frozen mixed berries , thawed

2 teaspoons of tartaric acid

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 cups castor sugar

1 cup boiling water

Place berries, tartaric acid, lemon juice and sugar in heat proof bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Strain through a seive, pressing with the back of a spoon, into a large heatproof jug. Pour into hot sterilised bottles and seal.
Refrigerate until chilled.

To Use: Use 1/3 cup cordial to 2/3 cup chilled sparkling mineral water or iced water.
To make it look pretty , serve in a jug and float some frozen raspberries on top

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Mummy Uniform

Tonight after I had put the kids to bed, I sat down and watched an episode of Tim Gunn's Guide to Style that I had recorded. The episode featured a SAHM that had fallen into a "mommy rut" of capris and tees. Veronica, the co-host, pointed out that this has become the uniform of mommies throughout America, and I would have to add that I think this is the uniform for a lot of mummies here in Australia as well. I agree with all of you out there that declare that these outfits are "comfortable" and "practical" but I defy anyone to claim that they are stylish or chic.

What saddens me when I see a sea of capris paired with tees is that it is just as easy to create a feminine and chic outfit that is also comfortable and practical. These two groupings do not have to be mutually exclusive. Take the following two outfits from Ann Taylor:

The one on the left is a typical mummy uniform of capris and a tee. In my opinion, it is bland and, dare I say it, frumpy. The model looks a bit dumpy in this outfit, so imagine what the average mum who is not paid to look good all day would look like.

The outfit on the right, on the other hand, looks so much more stylish. It is still just as comfortable and practical - the denim city shorts are still great for running around the park, or bending over to tie up little shoelaces, while the cotton voile shirt can be thrown into the machine, and if you hang it up on hanger to dry, won't even need ironing. The lightness of the cotton voile means that even in the more flattering three quarter length sleeve, you will still be just as cool as if you were wearing a tank.

Check out this cotton dress, also from Ann Taylor. Again, it is machine washable, so it is easy care, and how simple is it to slip on a dress? The embroidery and contrast topstitching really make this dress super stylish and fresh, and it is something you could wear whether you are dropping your kids off at school, pushing them on the swings at the park, or going out for dinner with your husband on date night.

A great resource for those for you who are struggling with outfit ideas are the Ann Taylor and Boden websites, as they both have sections that show their clothes as suggested outfits. By looking over their outfits with a critical eye, you can start to see what looks great, and what looks only OK. The example below is from the Boden website, and shows one example of what I think is a great casual outfit, paired right next to a really terrible (and unflattering) mummy rut outfit.
The first outfit looks so breezy and relaxed to me, like you have just stepped off the French Riviera. The second outfit, though, looks less Riviera relaxed, and more Florida retiree.

Now, I am not suggesting that you should go out and buy these outfits. Instead, use them as inspiration for your own outfits - print out the ones that grab your eye, and take note of what appeals to you. Study how they match up their accessories, what type of shoes they have used. Think about the clothes you already have, and how you could turn what you have into a similar outfit. Take note of what you need to add to your current wardrobe so that you can achieve these put together looks, and then keep your eye out for these missing pieces. By using these sites as a starting point, you will be well on your way to achieving a stylish wardrobe.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Numeracy - Early Years

In a follow up to my last post about reading to your child, I thought I would include an article I received in my latest Total Learning newsletter about developing numeracy skills in your young child (Total Learning is a book selling business that I am a consultant for).

Numeracy – Early Years

Children develop numeracy skills when they use mathematical ideas in their everyday situations. They begin to make sense of these situations by asking such questions such as:

  • How many?
  • Does it fit?
  • How big is it?
  • Which way will I go?
  • Is it likely to happen?
  • How much is there?
  • Will there be enough?

Families can help:

You may feel that the maths children do at school is different from how you were taught, or that maths was not your best subject. However, you are still able to help your child in many ways. This information will assist you in helping children learn and enjoy using their mathematical ideas in daily activities.

Responding to children’s ideas

  • Listening to, and talking with them about the number, shape and size of things in, for example, games, constructions, drawings, rhymes and stories
  • Asking questions like:
    o What might happen if...?
    o Why does...?
    o How do you know that?
  • Pointing out:
    o Numbers in magazines, books, signs, prices, packaging and numberplates
    o How these numbers help us to know how to find things, to know how much, to know how many and to know which one
  • Looking for opportunities where children can:
    o Sort, organise and count collections of things like clothes, toys, books, shells, rocks and birthday candles
    o Choose from a variety of materials of different shapes and sizes to use for play and solving problems
    o Be involved in making plans and designing their own constructions like cubby houses, robots and sand castles


  • Play games in the car such as: ‘Let’s count all the blue cars we see on our way to...’
  • When your child asks, ‘how long will it take to get there?’ you can respond with, ‘it will take about the same time as it takes to ...’ (get to school, watch Playschool, etc)
  • Stopping at a service station ask: ‘how many ice-creams will we need to buy? Do we have enough money to pay for them? How much does the petrol cost here?’


  • When going for a walk point out house numbers and ask your child: ‘what number do you think the next house will be? Will it be an odd or even number?’
  • When deciding what to wear, talk about the weather and ask your child: ‘is it likely to rain today?’

At home

  • When talking about TV programs, ask: ‘what is the time? What time does the program start? Do we have enough time to read this book before it begins?’
  • When preparing a meal involve your child in deciding how much food to prepare for the whole family. You can ask: ‘are there enough for us to have one each?’

Source: Raising Children Network –

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reading to your child

Being a chic mummy is not only about looking and feeling great, it is also about giving your precious bundles of joy the best head start in life and reading to them is, in my opinion, one of the most important things you can do for your child. Did you know that babies respond to colour and shape from the moment they open their eyes? Help build your child’s reading skills with these great tips taken from Reading Magic, by bestselling children’s author Mem Fox.

  • Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.
  • Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three tomes. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they learn to read!
  • Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh aloud.
  • Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.
  • Read the stories that the kids love over and over again, and always read in the same “tune: for each book: i.e. with the same intonation on each page, each time.
  • Let children hear lots of language, by talking to them constantly; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.
  • Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are short!
  • Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such a finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.
  • Read aloud every day because you just love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How to be chic AND comfortable

Look around at the places that mothers of young children congregate, and you are bound to see a range of sloppy outfits – baggy sweats, hoodies, workout clothes (even though the mum doesn’t have time to workout!). As my regular readers would know, I have nothing against wearing sweats when you are doing housework, messy play, or even lounging around the house, especially if they are well fitting and somewhat stylish. However, I don’t think that sweats are the chic option when you need to leave the house to run errands or to take your child to the park. And I guarantee that the time you go grocery shopping looking (and feeling) terrible in your sweats with the saggy bottom and the baby’s vomit stain that didn’t come out in the wash is the time you’ll run into that old work colleague or ex-boyfriend.

There are plenty of alternatives out there that will have you looking AND feeling great when you want to be comfortable and still chic.

Alternatives to the sweatshirt:

A cotton blazer – this can be thrown over jeans and a tank when the weather is cooler or its one of those days that is cool in the morning but warming up in the afternoon. This Boden jacket is machine washable, so can cope with anything your toddler can throw at you.

Cotton or wool sweaters – a few sweaters in some pretty colours can help you brighten your wardrobe and your day. They are just as easy (and as comfortable) to wear as a sweatshirt, but are so much more chic. This merino tunic from Boden is a super flattering shape that will suit all body types; in particular, the longer length will skim over your curves while the empire line and surplice neckline flatters your bust. It comes in a range of great colours just perfect for spring.

Lightweight cardigans – like the blazer, cardigans can be thrown over tanks or a tee, but are a more lightweight, more feminine option. I love this short sleeved one from Boden. The gathers at the shoulders are a lovely feminine touch.

Alternatives to the baggy sweatpant

Drawstring or yoga stretch pants – make sure these are wide or bootlegged for the most flattering line. A dark colour (black, charcoal or navy) is more chic than a heather grey colour. As soon as these start to fade or become baggy, they need to be retired to your housecleaning/lounging wardrobe. I love these ones from Isabella Oliver – while they are technically maternity pants, I find them super flattering for all women.

Wideleg linen pants – these are an easy option to slip on and look very polished. Wrinkles are part of the look, so don’t worry too much about ironing them; just wash them and hang them to dry straight away. These ones from J Crew look great and come in some great colours.

Jeans – a well fitting pair of trouser jeans in dark wash is a great way of adding some casual polish to your wardrobe. This pair from Gap fits the bill!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday's outfit and a visit to the child health nurse

Today was Irini's 6 week check up with the child health nurse. I was quite nervous as I wasn;t sure if she was gaining enough weight. I had so many problems with breastfeeding Stephen that by 6 weeks he was fully formula fed; despite using supply lines and various meds, I just couldn't get my supply up and he wasn't gaining weight. With Irini, it didn't seem like there were any problems - she feeds every 3-4 hours during the day, and I get a 5-6 hour stretch over night - but the neurotic mother in me refused to be satisfied by this until I had seen the numbers on the scale! Luckily (and of course, given her feeding pattern and number of wet nappies etc, not suprisingly) she is steadily gaining weight and length and is now comfortably sitting at the 75th percentile, which is where she should be given her brith weight. I also had Stephen weighed and measured and he is still creating his own line, well above the 97th percentile for height and weight!!

Today's outfit:

I have really been missing wearing dresses, but they just aren't that practical for nursing, so today I decided to use the old What Not To Wear trick of a dress over trousers.

Jane Lamerton chocolate and cream print wrap 3/4 sleeve jersey dress
White cami underneath
Isabella Oliver chocolate jersey pants
Milana chocolate croc pattern low heel pumps
Pearl stud earrings
Wooden beaded necklace

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