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parenting

In sickness and in health – such is the commitment to care, nurturing and to love that each parent makes towards a child.

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Sweets & Treats

Sweets & Treats

The worst health offenders in children's diets are processed sweets made from refined sugar. Not only are they bad for teeth, they can cause more serious problems in children such as subclinical deficiencies or hyperactivity, and in adults can contribute to the development of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and coronary heart disease. However, trying to get children to give them up is like pulling teeth from a hippopotamus. Far better to give them a wholesome alternative to replace those chocolate bars, biscuits and cakes. Here are some recipes for fruit desserts and all sorts of sweet treats, each made from nutritious ingredients - nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, carob and honey - which can be served at tea time with one of our delicious shakes or smoothies, or taken to school in a lunch box to snack on. They are as tasty as they are wholesome, and they are uncooked to supply your child with the highest level of  life order possible. Use them for tea and for snacks and parties. sorbets The easiest way to make sorbets is with a sorbetière - a special machine which stirs the sorbet or ice cream as it freezes it. I have survived for many years without one by improvising... orange sorbet Juice 6 oranges and then combine in a food processor with 2 juicy seedless oranges which have been peeled and quartered. Add enough honey or natural stevia to sweeten, and some nutmeg or ginger if desired. I sometimes like to add a grated peach or two to give the sorbet texture. Pour the mixture into ice-cube trays or a plastic lunch-box type container and freeze. Remove from the freezer and leave to thaw slightly for about ten minutes. Blend the mixture again immediately before serving, and spoon into glass dishes or into empty halved orange shells. strawberry or blackberry sorbet Combine 3 cups berries with 2 bananas and a little honey. Follow the method as above. The bananas give a creamy texture to the sorbet. carob and honey ice cream This recipe is one of my family's favorites. The combination of carob and honey I find unbeatable. 2 pints (about a liter) milk (we use goat's) 2 egg yolks 3 tbsp granular lecithin (optional but very nice since it gives a creamier texture) 1 cup unheated carob powder 1/2 cup clear honey 1 tsp pure vanilla essence We use goat's milk but raw cow's milk is good - if you can get it - or sheep's milk or buffalo milk.  Sheep's milk makes wonderful drinks and desserts, and it usually comes in a convenient powder. Freeze the milk in a low flat plastic container. When frozen, remove from the freezer and let sit for about half an hour until it is just soft enough to slice into pieces. Put the egg yolks into the food processor, add about a cup of the frozen milk, the lecithin, carob powder, honey and vanilla, and blend thoroughly using the blade attachment. Add the rest of the frozen milk and continue to blend until it is just mixed. (Don't overblend or you will make the ice cream too liquid.) Should it become too liquid simply return to the freezer for a few minutes then stir before serving. Serve immediately. cherry whip (for 1) 1 cup natural yogurt 1/2 cup pitted black cherries 2 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste Double cream (optional) Blend the yogurt, cherries and honey or stevia and pour into a tall glass. Top with a spoonful of double cream and garnish with a pair of cherries hung over the edge of the glass. As a variation, use strawberries or raspberries instead of cherries. raspberry fruit freeze pie There are many variations that can be made on this theme - using different berries and fruit to fill the pie base. pie base: 1 cup pitted dried dates 1/2  cup almonds 1/2  cup oat flakes 1 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste A little water Grind the dates and almonds as finely as possible in a food processor. Add the oats, honey (or stevia) and a little water and blend again. You need to add the water slowly to get the right consistency. You want the mixture to bind but not be sticky. Remove the base from the processor in a ball and flatten it into a pie dish with your fingers. As a variation you can add a tablespoon or two of coconut. pie filling: 2 bananas 2 cups raspberries Sherry Honey or natural stevia to sweeten Peel the bananas and chop into pieces about an inch or so thick. Freeze in a polythene bag with the raspberries until firm. Remove from freezer and blend the fruits together with a dash of sherry and a little honey or stevia to sweeten if desired. Pour into the pie crust and serve immediately, garnished with a few banana slices or raspberries. strawberries and cashew cream Make your own non-dairy `cream' from cashew nuts, and pour it over a bowl of ripe fresh strawberries (or any other fruit). cashew cream 1 cup nuts 1/2  cup water or orange juice 1-2 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste Nutmeg Blend the nuts and liquid as finely as possible in the blender or processor. Add a little honey, or stevia, and nutmeg and use as a topping for any fruit. sweet treats These attractive little sweets can be wrapped in colored paper and given in boxes as gifts for Easter, Christmas, etc. 1 cup mixture of almonds and hazelnuts 1 cup mixed dried fruit (such as date and apricot, peach and raisin, or sultana and pear 1 tbsp honey or natural stevia to taste Juice of 1 orange or 3 cups apple juice, dash of orange liqueur (optional), coconut flakes and sesame seeds. Put the nuts and the dried fruit in the food processor and chop thoroughly. Add the honey or stevia and enough fruit juice to make the mixture bind, plus a dash of orange liqueur if desired. Remove from the processor and roll into spheres the size of large marbles. Sprinkle a plate with the coconut flakes (toasted if desired) and sesame seeds and roll the balls in either one or both. Chill in the fridge and serve on a platter decorated with fresh fruit. rocky road bananas This is a great recipe if you have too many ripe bananas on your hands. Once frozen, the bananas will keep for weeks - unless they are eaten immediately as in my house! 4 ripe bananas 1/2 -1 cup coarsely ground Brazil nuts Honey Simply peel the bananas and skewer onto kebab or ice lolly sticks. Roll in honey and then in chopped nuts. Put on a freezer-proof plate and freeze until hard. Eat straight from the stick. If you prefer you can first slice the bananas crosswise, coat in honey and sprinkle with nuts, then freeze to make bite-sized treats. As a variation try mixing a few tablespoons of carob powder into the honey to make chocolate coated bananas and then roll them in coconut, dates or nuts...or all three! yogurt lollies The best ice-lollies are homemade. You can buy ice-lolly molds and sticks in most department stores. Mix a large bowl of plain yogurt with some frozen concentrated orange juice, then pour the mixture into the lolly molds and freeze. You can also add fresh fruit and honey to natural yogurt and blend it together to use, or simply freeze fresh fruit juices such as orange, grape, apple and pineapple. refrigerator cookies 1 cup rolled oats 1/4-1/2 cup blanched almonds 3 tbsp almond or cashew butter or 1/3 cup ground almonds 1-2 tbsp honey Handful of raisins Handful of dates 1 tsp vanilla essence 1 tsp cinnamon Pinch of allspice Finely grind the almonds, raisins and dates in the food processor. Add the nut butter, honey, vanilla and spices and combine well. Mix the oats with the rest of the ingredients. Form the mixture into flat cookie shapes in the palms of your hands (you may need to add a few drops of water) and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm. carob fudge Once chilled, these wonderful fudge balls have the texture of ordinary fudge, and their carob flavor makes them ideal chocolate substitutes. 1 cup sesame seeds 1/2 cup dried coconut 1/2 cup carob powder 1 tsp honey 1/2 tsp vanilla essence Grind the seeds very finely in the food processor. Add the other ingredients and process again. Form the mixture into little balls and chill. sunflower snacks 1/2  cup sunflower seeds 1/2  cup carob powder 1/4 tsp cinnamon A little apple juice Finely grind the sunflower seeds and mix with the carob and cinnamon. Add a few drops of apple juice, just enough to make the mixture bind. Form into a roll about 1in/2.5cm thick, chill and then slice. Alternatively, break off little bits and press them into coin-size wafers and chill.

Motivation From Within

Motivation From Within

We think we must teach our children about discipline - particularly self-discipline. But have you ever watched a baby at play? If a baby sees a toy he wants across the room, he doesn't stop to consider whether it's worthwhile going to get it. Neither does he begrudge the time taken to crawl across the room. The seeing, the crawling, the taking it in his hand are all of a piece, all part of the experience, all a source of pleasure. For a young child there is no separation between the work of seeking a reward and the pleasure of having it, as is so often the case in my life. Like most adults, I have learned to live for goals. I have lost the great joy of the seeking itself by relegating that part of my life to the `unpleasant duty of working for what I want.' Yet many of life's pleasures are to be found as much in the seeking as in the finding. Young children have helped me see this - although I am a long way from putting it into practice in everything I do. As parents, we feel obliged to correct our children when they make mistakes in speaking. Yet so often the words they coin seem much more sensible and charming than their proper counterparts. `It's a froggy day,' Jesse used to say when he meant `foggy.' `Where are the `ouches'?' Susannah would ask when she wanted to hang something on the clothesline. (She had once caught a finger in a clothes peg and her great-grandmother had consoled her by saying, `Ouch, that hurts.') Then there were `flat tireds', the things you get when your car runs over a nail in the road, and the `constructions' which you read to find out how to use something for the first time. Aaron, my youngest, announced one day after playing with one of our Burmese cats `Mummy, guess what, pussy cats have dangerous toes'. Children have also taught me to express anger and not be afraid of it. Watch two children fight. They sling the most appalling insults at each other. One gives the other a whack and swears not to play with him or her again. Two hours later they are best friends once more. They know so much better than we do how to forgive. Somehow they will seem to understand that being angry with someone, no matter how important it seems at the time, is not half as interesting as all the things you can do, see, say and make together as soon as the anger has passed.

Nature's Child

Nature's Child

"Your children are not your children," wrote the Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran, "They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself...You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." It is a quote I like, not only because - having raised four children on my own - I believe it to be just about the most accurate description of parenthood I have ever come across, but also because it emphasizes the `lightness' which develops when you give up trying to be perfect and come to trust the processes of Nature - in feeding, in healing, in guiding you and your child towards what is best for his or her development at any moment in time. Like the seed of a plant which has encoded within its genetic material the characteristics that will in time produce the full-grown flower, every baby comes into this world carrying a package of as yet unrealized but incredibly rich potential. Within each child is nestled his or her very own brand of unique seedpower encompassing far greater physical, creative and spiritual potential than he or she could realize in ten lifetimes. Your child is like the brush stroke the zen painter uses to represent one leaf on a shaft of bamboo. The leaf he paints is totally singular - like no leaf that has ever existed. Yet within this uniqueness is encompassed universal beauty and life energy of the highest order.

Nature's Child: Allergy Awareness

Nature's Child: Allergy Awareness

The curious thing about food sensitivities is that whatever a child happens to be allergic to, whether it be wheat or milk - the two most common culprits - or chocolate or what have you, he will have a craving for it. If a child is sensitive to, say, milk products, he will want more and more milk, yogurt, cream, butter and cheese. Here is how it works. By now, just about every parent knows that food colorings and flavorings in convenience foods, squashes and drinks have been implicated in the development of behavioral problems such as hyperactivity in children. This is another reason why they are best avoided. Food allergies have a similar effect on some children. Sometimes called a food sensitivity, intolerance to specific foods are increasing all the time largely, too, as a result of the mass consumption of highly processed foods. Such sensitivities can occur because a baby or child does not have the enzymes he needs to digest a certain food, because the total stress on his system is simply too high, or because his digestive system is confused and sensitized from feeding on junk foods. When you are allergic to a food on first contact you react negatively to it. If you use it continually, however, these first negative symptoms - such as catarrh or coughing, or behavior changes like banging the head or crying in children - become `masked' so they become less frequent. Instead you will develop a craving or addiction to the food. For so long as you continue to expose yourself to it, you can avoid much of the unpleasant allergic response you had first time round. This is such a strange and unexpected phenomenon that many parents are not even conscious that their children, who suffer constant catarrh or act out fear or aggression in their behavior, may be suffering from a food or chemical sensitivity. If you suspect your child is sensitive to something or if he demonstrates an inordinate desire for a particular food (i.e. addiction) try taking him off it altogether for a fortnight. See if his behavior changes or if his physical condition improves (but be prepared for it to get worse at first while the substance or food to which he is allergic is in the process of clearing from his system). Then you can try reintroducing it one day into his diet and see if this changes him. You may find that once you have helped him break the addiction/allergy bond to a particular food he will be able to eat the food, say once a week, with no problem. One of my sons is like this. He is allergic to milk products. If he takes them too often he develops the symptoms of a cold. However we have found he can have a bowl of yogurt or a piece of cheese once a week and get away with it. milk - not the perfect food A word about cow's milk. There is some long-standing assumption that to be healthy and to develop strong bones children have to drink plenty of it. This is not the case. Children eating a good mixed diet of fresh vegetables, whole grains, pulses and protein foods get plenty of calcium and protein. They do not need extra milk. Milk is highly mucous-forming, and tends to create a lot of catarrh in children - to some extent this may be because even the milk and milk products we buy these days are highly processed and by no means the same natural wholesome food our grandmothers went to the local farmer each morning to buy. Certainly if your child is ill, every tradition of natural health counsels not to give him milk or any milk products until he recovers. I have always found it good advice. I also find that using a lot of raw foods - for breakfasts, drinks, sandwich fillings and salads - helps protect children from frequent illnesses and encourages healing when illness strikes. Just in case you think children don't like salads, take a look at the recipe for what my youngest has dubbed `Spiderman Salad.' It is simple to make, delicious, and can be spread on toast or crackers.

Stages Of Unfolding

Stages Of Unfolding

The fact that your child's physical development is biologically timed to unfold is well known. His genes contain the information which directs this growth step by step. All healthy children get their baby teeth, twelve-year molars, and develop genital sexuality at roughly the same ages, irrespective of minor individual and cultural variations. Thanks to the work of Swiss biologist/psychologist Jean Piaget - who spent 45 years observing the growth of intelligence in children - American educator Joseph Chilton Pearce, and others, we now know that a similar development pattern exists for your child's intelligence, creativity and emotional life - his inner growth. For instance, there is a universal pattern in brain development and learning which researchers now agree constitutes a movement from the concrete to the abstract, from the physical to the mental, from an identity with matter to an identity with mind, which each child passes through as he matures. Through nearly half a century's study of hundreds of children, Piaget observed that, driven by some internal non-volitional power, at particular ages a child will interact with his outside world in archetypal ways, so that step by step, thought patterns within the brain become organized. Piaget traced four of these stages in the development of human thinking. The first takes place during the first two years of life. It is characterized by nonverbal interactions your child carries out with his world as he experiments with objects. During the second stage - between two and seven - the objects which your child perceives become related to words which he delights in manipulating, much in the way he previously experimented with physical things. At the third stage, around seven, yet another shift takes place as his brain starts to perform logical operations. He starts to classify objects by their similarities and their differences. In the final or fourth phase of childhood, from around the age of twelve onwards, your child begins to experiment with abstract concepts and formal logic so that even thinking itself becomes an exciting experimental game to him, until finally the process from the concrete experience of the toddler to the abstract thinking of an adult has become complete. brain growth These shifts in thinking processes which Piaget describes have a physiological basis in what is going on in your child's brain as he grows. Herman Epstein, biophysicist at Brandeis University in the United States, has shown that there are brain spurts during which a child's brain actually grows new biological material for learning. They, too, take place in all children at about the same ages. And all but one of these spurts coincide with what Piaget's calls `logical transitions'. These brain growth spurts are genetically predetermined, just as physical growth and intellectual development are. These events make up an integral system of genetic coding for the full development of the inner child - a development which, as educator Joseph Chilton Pearce says, takes place from one matrix to the next. One of the important implications of Piaget's findings is that your child's mind is capable of dealing with different kinds of thought and experience only when the relevant stage in his brain's development has been reached. Piaget says that it is useless to try and get a two year old to do abstract equations. As parents, what this means is that it is important to be aware of your child's pattern of inner unfolding, to trust it and to learn to work with it, instead of trying to force him to do or be what you think he should. Raising a child this way takes a lot of the pressure out of parenthood. It means you don't have to be dashing about buying a lot of early reading materials, or trying to turn your three year into a child prodigy to do your best for him. There is much evidence that when we do push him, we not only interfere with the ordered development of his inner life, we actually do him deep damage. matrix shifts Pearce's concept of a growth matrix is a very important idea to grasp if you are to help Nature's child realize his full potential. The Latin word for womb - a matrix - is a place where something is bred, produced, or developed. Your own womb was your child's first matrix. It provided him with the possibility for new life, energy for growth, and safety. But that was only the beginning. The biological plan for the development of his inner life - intelligence, emotions and creativity - had to be made up of a series of matrix formations and shifts. 'Each matrix shift is both a kind of birth because we move into greater possibilities' says Pearce, `and a kind of death because the old matrix must be given up in order to move into the new.' The infant in his first matrix - the uterus - needs about nine months, give or take a bit, to be ready for the first shift. After that, the newborn baby requires about another eight or nine months to structure a knowledge of his connection with his mother. This experience forms the core of his second matrix. Only when he has had it is he ready to move out to explore the third and larger matrix - the earth itself. Your child then needs some seven years more to structure a knowledge of this third matrix, and to shift from mother as `safe space' to the planet with all the physical objects it contains. And so it goes. At each matrix shift, in an ordered pattern of inner unfolding, your child's brain undergoes one of Epstein's brain spurts to make him ready for a new growth phase. Researchers studying these matrix shifts have found that they happen automatically from within at roughly the same time in all cultures in the world. What nature's `biological plan for growth' does not (indeed can not) take into account, is the failure of a child to develop at any particular stage. And that is where we can create serious problems for our children. Just as baby teeth poke through whether or not the nutritional support is there to make them strong, and genital sexuality appears whether or not your child or you yourself are ready for it, all these matrix shifts take place automatically and involuntarily whether or not the previous matrix has provided a proper medium for full development. Too often these days - indeed almost always, laments Pearce - it has not. matrix problems For instance, if a pregnant mother has been given drugs during pregnancy, or if she is chronically unhappy or anxious, then the chemicals and stress hormones produced by her body are shared with her fetus, placing the infant in a state of permanent bodily stress so that he cannot fully develop mentally and physically within his first matrix. But nature's biological plan waits for no man; there is no time for this chronic stress to be removed and its effects treated. So the first matrix shift takes place anyway, leaving the infant to cope as best he can. In such a situation, a child will be forced to use its intelligence not to interact with the new matrix and further develop, as it should be used, but only to compensate for his deficiencies - in effect, remaining behind in many ways, in order to try and get his basic patterns together. When if the first matrix formation is incomplete or insufficient, the next matrix formation will be doubly difficult for him to make, so that a child's young life becomes more and more jeopardized. If all of this is bad enough, eventually he can even become crippled mentally, emotionally and physically. He suffers from anxiety - considered to be the single most crushing influence on intelligence by modern psychology - instead of unfolding from within as nature programmed him to do. His compounded anguish expresses itself either immediately or later on as an adult, not only in limited intelligence and creativity, but by any number of symptoms from mild withdrawal or indifference to aggression, fear, feelings of hopelessness and meaninglessness or even in compulsively collecting things which ultimately don't fulfill him, whether they be physical objects, money or worldly power. prevention better than cure Once such damage has occurred, Pearce believes there is not a lot one can do to go back and repair it. This is what makes it essential for us as parents to understand the nature of each matrix, know when the shifts occur and be aware of what is needed by the child at each stage. For only then can we provide the medium - the periodically shifting environment in which nature's biological plan can work itself out to produce a highly intelligent, autonomous and strong adult. Such an environment is not just the modern, rather sentimental, notion of a `secure place' either. Each matrix has very specific requirements which are needed at that moment in time, not only for the child's emotional development but also for the physical development of his brain. Take the physical interaction with the mother in the second matrix, for instance, when the baby is held and caressed and when his cries are heeded. It provides him with a basic set of brain patterns through which the sensory information he receives can be organized into perceptions. The three areas of his brain - the reptilian primitive brain, the old mammalian mid brain and the cerebral cortex or new brain, with its various lobes and hemispheres - can all develop. At this matrix, the mother is the infant's world, his power, his possibility and his safe place to grow from. When he experiences this stage fully, he can move towards the next matrix shift not only with all the brain development which nature intends at that stage, but with a sense of confidence and power. The big commercial world out there and the hawkers of pop psychology would have you believe that as a parent, unless you buy the latest educational toy, or teach your child to read by the time he is three, you are not doing your best for him. Not only are such suggestions untrue, following them can lead you - however unknowingly - into pushing your child's development forward towards the next matrix before he is ready for it, overriding his own biological clock for unfolding. Yes, it is possible to teach a child toilet training at ten months old or have him read by the age of three. So what? You can also teach a lion to jump through hoops in a circus. But, in the light of Piaget, Pearce, and Epstein's work you may, with the best will in the world, be doing him more harm than good.

Children: Go Easy

Children: Go Easy

Where we do the damage to nature's biological plan is by providing an environment which is inappropriate to the needs of a child in a particular matrix period. We do this either by not supplying these needs - for instance by not allowing the constant physical closeness at the breast right from birth, not providing the infant with a myriad of physical objects and experiences in early childhood, not giving him the opportunity to begin classifying and ordering the relationships between things after he is seven, and so on - or by trying to force on a child a way of thinking or behaving for which his brain is not yet ripe. The Japanese for instance place their children into schools at two or three years, where they are forced to read, work with numbers, and wrestle with other abstract concepts long before they are ready to do so according to their biological clocks. As a result, not only do the Japanese have a big problem with dyslexia, their children wear more glasses per capita than any other children in the world, and when they reach adulthood also have one of the world's highest suicide rates. Pearce believes that we are trying to teach our children to read far too early. `I can stand up here and attack people's notion of Mother, Country, even God, and nobody will protest,' he says, `but when I say that we are doing severe damage to our children by forcing them to read before their brain's development is ready, all hell breaks loose.' Pearce insists that the practice of forcing five year olds (or even three and two year olds) to read can do irreparable damage to their development - damage, which he points out, is beginning to show up in widespread dyslexia, illiteracy and anxiety in our society. For by forcing him to read before his brain development is ripe for the task, we are not allowing the child to complete the intelligence and brain growth at his current stage of his development before going on to the next. Of course, because the human mind is enormously adaptable - with effort and a great deal of approval from teachers and parents - many children do learn to read. Yet this may be at great cost to them. After all, Einstein not only learned to read late, he did not even learn to talk until he was three. Forcing children to read early - which includes `encouraging' them to read early - is not the only grave mistake we make, insists Pearce. Equally damaging is our discouraging daydreaming in young children. You know the kind of thing - your child sits gazing blankly out the window, or lies on the floor sucking his thumb for minutes at a time. Meanwhile the parent, who has been taught that daydreaming is `an escape from reality' says to him, `Johnny, for heaven's sake, take your thumb out of your mouth and do something...' magical child Not only is such daydreaming harmless, like any activity which is natural to a particular matrix, it is absolutely essential to a child's inner growth processes. Daydreaming - which takes place when children sit looking blank - is a form of natural meditation helpful for his brain development. The child who has been excited and stressed in a positive way by interactions with his environment one moment will retreat into a state of restorative and calming relaxation the next. The two create a balance. Another early practice which we parents discourage, with poor consequence for our children, is what Piaget called magical thinking. A child sees the world as something not separate from himself but closely connected to him, and believes that he is able to influence concrete external reality by his thoughts and actions - much in the way primitive people do. He may fantasize, make up stories of dragons and fairies, and dream dreams of wonder and power. Many parents spend a lot of our time trying to get the child to give up such magical thinking and `attend to reality.' But such behavior has an important part to play in the child's genetic organization and development. (The notion of the interconnectedness of thought and physical reality has recently been validated by findings in high-level physics, by the way.) Indeed, such childlike perceptions may even be the link between the so-called real world and what we call extrasensory perception, as well as a key to the development of man's awareness of more subtle realms of consciousness which primitive peoples and psychically endowed individuals share. It may also be an important part of man's spiritual equipment which we, by our repression of our children's `blank staring' and `magical thinking' are thwarting. What Pearce and Piaget are really asking is simply that we stop and look at what our developing child really needs, and that we set aside for a moment what we think he needs. They ask that we listen to his `heartbeat' instead of badgering him - that we give him time to grow in safety from one matrix to another. Once we learn to do this then perhaps his birthright - the enormous creativity and intelligence embodied within his seedpower - will have a far greater chance of fulfilling itself.

Nature's Child: Breakfast

Nature's Child: Breakfast

live muesli This recipe is similar to the original muesli developed by the famous Swiss physician, Max Bircher-Benner. Unlike packaged muesli, which usually contains too much sugar and is heavy and hard to digest, the bulk of this muesli is made up of fresh fruit. Kids love it. You can make it for yourself and for them. It also turns into a fine puree for a baby. 1-2 heaped tbsp oat flakes A handful of raisins or sultanas 1 apple or firm pear, grated or diced 2 tsp fresh orange juice 1 small banana, finely chopped 2 tbsp yoghurt - sheep's or goat's milk yogurt is excellent 1 tsp honey or stevia to taste 1 tbsp chopped nuts or sunflower seeds 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon or ginger Soak the grain flakes overnight in a little water or fruit juice to help break the starch down into sugars, along with the raisins or sultanas. In the morning, combine the soaked grain flakes and raisins with the apple/pear and banana, and add the orange juice to prevent the fruit from browning and to aid digestion. Top with the yogurt, then drizzle with honey or a little stevia if desired. Sprinkle with chopped nuts or sunflower seeds and spices. Serves 2. You can prepare countless variations of Live Muesli by using different types of fresh fruit, such as strawberries, peaches, pitted cherries or pineapple, depending on what's available. When your choice of fresh fruit is limited, use soaked dried fruit, such as apricots, dates, more sultanas, figs or pears. For extra goodness, sprinkle the muesli with a tablespoon of wheatgerm. shakes Kids in a hurry love breakfast shakes. You simply put all the ingredients you want into a blender or food processor and whip them up in seconds to create a wholesome instant drink. A shake is easy to digest and packed with goodness - the ideal breakfast for instant and sustained energy. yogurt shake 1 cup plain yogurt 1 ripe banana a few drops vanilla essence 1 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste 1 tsp coconut (optional) Combine the ingredients thoroughly in a blender. As a variation try replacing the banana with a handful of berries, half a papaya or mango, or a few chunks of fresh pineapple. You can replace the yogurt with Soya milk too. nut milk (almond) Nut milks are simple to make, highly nutritious and easy to digest. They can replace cow's milk in certain dishes and can be made from various different nuts - cashews are particularly good, but you may find you need a little more water. Almond milk is my favorite. I remove the almond skins as they are rather bitter and contain a high quantity of prussic acid which should be avoided. Some people blanch the almonds first, but I find it easiest to prepare the milk with unskinned almonds and then strain it through a fine sieve or piece of cheesecloth to remove the skins and pulp. As a general rule you need 1 part nuts to 3 parts water. The quantities below serve 2. 1-11/2  cups almonds 4 cups water Honey or natural stevia to sweeten Dash of cinnamon or nutmeg Vanilla essence (optional) Combine almonds and water in your blender and process really well for a minute or so until the mixture is very smooth. Add the honey, cinnamon or nutmeg and vanilla. Strain and serve. As a variation, blend a ripe banana with the almond milk. nut milk shake For extra goodness add a tablespoon of wheatgerm, or the yolk of an egg, and blend well. 1/3 cup almonds (blanched) 2/3 cup water 5 pitted dates A few drops vanilla essence 1 tsp honey Blend the almonds and the water really well until the mixture is smooth. You can use unblanched almonds and strain the mixture at this point to remove the ground-up husks. Add the other ingredients and process well. Serve immediately. yogurt If you are using yogurt, why not try making your own? It's very simple and much cheaper than the bought variety, and doesn't require a lot of equipment either. The easiest way to make it is in a wide-mouthed flask, but an earthenware crock or dish kept in a warm place will do just as well. I use two methods - the traditional one where you warm your milk to blood heat, and a simplified method that calls for warm water and powdered skimmed milk. I prefer to use goat's milk to cow's because it is richer in vitamins and minerals, and because its fats are emulsified which makes it easier to digest. In fact, many people who are allergic to cow's milk can take goat's or sheep's milk quite comfortably. 2 pints (about a liter) milk (preferably goat's or sheep's) 2 heaped tablespoons plain natural yogurt (starter) Warm in a saucepan to just above blood heat. Pour into a flask or crock and add 2 heaped tablespoons of plain natural yogurt. This can be cow's or goat's yogurt, but it is important that it is live yogurt, and that it doesn't have any fruit or sugar in it. Read the label to be sure that it contains a real yogurt culture which is needed to transform the milk (lots of so-called yogurts don't). Stir the starter in well and replace the lid of the thermos flask. If you are using a non-insulated container, wrap it in a blanket and place it in an airing cupboard or on top of a radiator. If you have an Aga or Rayburn, place the dish on a wire cooling tray on top of it. Otherwise you can heat an oven for ten minutes as hot as it can go and then switch it off. Put the container inside and leave it, without opening the door, overnight. After 6-8 hours you will have cultured yogurt. Transfer the yogurt to the fridge and use if for muesli, drinks, soups, dressings, frozen desserts etc. You can then use this yogurt as the starter for your next batch and go on indefinitely. If your yogurt goes sour, you'll have to buy another starter and begin afresh. instant low-fat yogurt One of the very simplest methods for making yogurt is to use low-fat skimmed milk powder. Make up two pints (about a liter) of milk in a blender, using one and a half times the amount of powdered milk suggested on the packet. If you use boiling water from a kettle and add cold water to it you can get just the temperature of milk you need and don't have to bother heating your milk in a saucepan. Add the two tablespoons of plain yogurt as in the ordinary method and leave in a suitable container for about eight hours. If you want a really thick yogurt, e.g. for dips, simply add more skimmed milk powder when you make up the milk.

Nature's Child Salads

Nature's Child Salads

Kids are meant to hate salads. In my experience what most, very young, children hate is not salads but the textures to some salads, because they are not cut or shredded finely enough. I don't blame them. I don't like salads either unless there is real aesthetic variety to the vegetables in their color, the way they are cut and arranged or mixed on a plate. I started my children on what my youngest calls `Spiderman Salad'. He came up with that name one day when I was explaining to him that if you wanted to be strong like Spiderman you needed to eat lots of raw vegetables. These first salads are more like vegetable pates. You can chop or puree them (depending on the age of the child) in a food processor or with a handheld blender. The secret is in the `binding' such as avocado or ground cashews or pureed hard boiled eggs which makes them stick together. The great thing about these `Spidermans' is that they are highly concentrated once they have been chopped or pureed. A dessertspoonful at a meal can give more nourishment than an adult side-salad. Experiment, but always taste your experiments yourself. If they are yummy to you, they are likely to appeal to a child. If not - re-season until you have created a real prize. spiderman salad When you make any salad for yourself, including dressing, put a little of it into a food-blender, the sort that has a blade, add a spoonful of cashews or avocado or the yolk of a hard boiled egg, or even a little thick yogurt - something that will bind. Mix it all together and season with vegetable bouillon powder and herbs plus a little salt and maybe a drop or two of olive oil. What you have left is a "Spiderman", a pate which can even be spread on crackers for older children. sprout magic salad Make a base with alfalfa or other sprouts and around the dish arrange: Grated carrot Finely shredded cabbage Chopped apples Grated beetroot Add: Sliced mushrooms, black olives, spring onions Sprinkle raisins over the grated vegetables and add a spoonful of seed or nut cheese. dressings basic french dressing 3/4 cup oil 1/4 cup lemon juice or cider vinegar 1 tsp whole-grain mustard or mustard powder 2 tsp honey A little vegetable bouillon powder and pepper to season A small clove of crushed garlic (optional) Combine all the ingredients in a blender, or simply place in a screw-top jar and shake well to mix. Some people like to thin the dressing and make it a little lighter by adding a couple of tablespoonfuls of water. avocado dip or dressing This is my favorite of all salad dressings. Kids adore it; you can make it thick for them to spread on crackers, leave out the curry powder and feed it pureed to babies, or make it thin to pour over salad. 1-2 avocados 1 cup fresh orange juice (use more or less to give the desired consistency) 1 tsp curry powder 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder Fresh herbs (e.g. lovage and French parsley) 1 small clove garlic (optional) Peel and stone the avocados. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

Nourishing Body & Soul

Nourishing Body & Soul

Being healthy means a lot more than just not being sick. A child that is healthy experiences a sense of grace in his life. He feels at ease. He has access to all of his being - his imagination, his intellect, his physical strength, and his ability to connect with the world around him through his senses. Buoyant health depends on there being a high degree of biochemical and emotional order in his life. These days, such order is not always easy to come by. It begins with the way you feed your child, and ends with creating structures for his day to day life that establish a safe arena - emotionally, physically and spiritually - in which he can operate. When you do, the child develops a sense of trust in himself, a huge resistance to illness, and a sense of real connection with his outside world as well as an excitement about his life and what is going to happen next. This is what real health is all about - nurturing Nature's child, body and soul.

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