Kids and Food—Milkshake-Smoothies A Fast Easy Solution to a more Balanced Breakfast

By Gaye Chicoine,

As every parent knows, little people are a roller coaster of emotions and balancing them can be a hair pulling experience. Most of the time those tough to deal with emotions and behavior are caused from the child’s body chemistry being unbalanced and usually, easily remedied with a more balanced diet. Starting the day out right and keeping blood sugar at an even level is key for optimal brain and physical function.

 

If kids are eating a breakfast meal of just toast and jam or a bowl of sugary cereal with milk, they are loading up on carbohydrates without counter balancing them with protein to prevent the insulin surge into their young bodies. Carbohydrates are converted to sugars (glucose) and digested quickly activating a high concentration of insulin to flow into the blood stream. This sudden increase of insulin causes a burst of energy and often externally interpreted by others as hyperactivity. Just as quickly, the insulin drops, causing low energy and irritable feelings of which those little bodies then crave eating more sweets and carbohydrates to get the energy back. A cycle interrupted and corrected only with better balanced nutrition.

 

The solution to leveling out blood sugar highs and lows is to consume some protein along with the toast or cereal in the morning. All it takes is adding a protein food to the breakfast, like plain yogurt with no added sugars and flavorings, some cheese, nut butter an egg or a small serving of meat or meat alternative. It not only balances nutrition better, the feeling of being satisfied and not hungry lasts longer. Just a little slows down the sugar from moving into the blood stream too quickly.

 

Yet adding protein foods when rushed can take time that we don’t always allow for in our morning routine. It is possible to nourish the body with foods that are quick to prepare and that kids will like. I found an easy solution to be a “milk shake” made with a good quality protein powder. Several brands of protein powders are available at health food stores and almost anywhere nutritional supplements are sold. They have been a popular dietary supplement for nutrients and to help build muscle mass for several decades. The kind of protein powder you choose will depend on your dietary needs. Egg and whey protein powders usually have the highest concentration of protein. Soy and pea protein based is also available and all usually come in vanilla, chocolate or strawberry flavors. Personally we use vanilla and flavor it to our preference.

 

Although I don’t advocate using commercially processed foods as being the main part of our food consumption, good quality protein powder is an exception when our diet looses out because of other life demands and can offer more benefit than harm. However, like all commercially produced foods to protect oneself, one must read the label to avoid added sugars, artificial sweeteners, in particular aspartame and it’s counterparts and artificial flavorings —there are many cheap forms.

Milkshakes-smoothies with some added protein powder are delicious, loaded with support for the body and can be a satisfying meal replacement as well.

 

This is what has become a mainstay at our house when in a hurry or for an afternoon pick-me-up. If making shakes and smoothies are new to you, keep it simple in the beginning until you figure out your own combination preferences.

 

Banana Milkshake and Variations:

I haven’t met a kid that wouldn’t drink up this simple nourishing shake.

 

In a 2-liter blender add:

4 peeled bananas, riper is naturally sweeter

1 liter of milk—cow, soy, almond, rice

1-2 tbsp of flax oil—adding flax oil gives a boost to your omega-3 intake that can help with better brain function and the ability to focus on a task; for both kids and adults. It also adds some smooth texture for more fussy eaters.

 

Place lid on blender and whirl until smooth.

Add 4 good scoops of vanilla protein powder with the blender on slow speed until well mixed.

If you need it sweeter, add honey or maple syrup to taste or even a small amount of blackstrap molasses for a boost of nutrients if the flavor is desirable.

Top the blender with milk or water while whirling on slow speed.

Serves 4-6 people.

 

-Banana milkshakes are good to start with as the texture is always smooth and the sweetness is satisfying. If you desire chocolate flavored, add pure cocoa powder.

-Strawberry milkshakes are made substituting the bananas with 2-3 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries. Be creative, use your favorite berry or fruit combination.

-Just protein powder and milk, milk alternative or water is good too!

-In the fall, our jack-o-lantern gets turned into pumpkin pie shake.

-For extra protein and nutrients, add nuts, hemp and or chia seeds to the first step.

 

The possibilities are limitless, Enjoy!

Bone Broth and Stocks

By Gaye Chicoine,

There is nothing like a stock pot simmering on the back burner of the stove during cold weather, it warms the house while cooking and when ready for consumption, it warms the body while providing a powerhouse of nutrition to help deal with everything the cold has to throw at us. The base of good soups, sauces and gravies is a flavorful broth and any cook-chef whose intention is to create that umami flavor in the foods they prepare, understands the value of producing and having good broth and stock on hand at all times. Bone broth, traditionally prepared using loving methods that have stood the test of time are delicious as well as highly nutritious. One way to know you have created a good broth is by how firm the stock is after it’s been prepared and refrigerated, the more gelled the stock the higher the gelatin content and that is what we are looking for, for health benefits. Even good quality commercial broth purchased in tetra packs or cans doesn’t always have this quality to the stock.

 

With our speedy lifestyle, bone broth has seen a decline of use in the last generation or two and since gut health has declined as well in recent years, our North American population, is re-discovering bone broth. Although it takes little preparation, it does take time to coax the full flavor and nutrition from bones. Dense bones from beef and large animals will take anywhere from a half day to three days, where chicken and poultry ranges from 6 to 24 hours. When we do take the time to create such food luxuries and store it away in small amounts, it becomes an essential ingredient to our everyday meals adding a gourmet flavor dimension to the dish; it simply produces a final product with extra flavor and nutrition.

 

When food is flavorful it is consumed and bone broth is an ingredient with many healthy benefits. When someone comes down with cold or flu or even recovering from surgery or chemotherapy, plain true chicken broth or beef bone broth is often the only nourishment a body feels up to eating. Other foods can be difficult for an ailing body to break down and digest but real bone broth provides high nutrition in a form that’s easy to swallow, soothing to the digestive system and more easily assimilated into the body.

 

My grandmother was known to say, “You have to eat bone broth to have good teeth”. I don’t know where she got that idea from all those years ago but science is demonstrating there is some truth to what she spewed along with many other healthy side effects. A properly prepared broth is high in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and potassium to name a few, all of which help to build and rebuild our own bone density, support heart and digestive health, circulation and nervous systems. Nutrients like hyaluronic acid, glycosamine, collagen and gelatin, are also present in quantities that help support and regenerate joints adding strength to the cushion between our own bones. They have also been shown to form and rebuild other connective tissues that give rise to easier body movement, cell rejuvenation and maintaining skin elasticity along with helping to restore gut health. This may be the reason why a diet that includes real bone broth on a regular basis helps in the healing of leaky gut syndrome, colitis and Crohn’s disease. When our intestines are overly permeable from a diet that does more damage than good, all kinds of substances get into the blood stream that shouldn’t be there. It only makes sense to me that this could cause reactions of many sorts—allergies and other health issues. Restoring gut health aids in rebuilding and supporting immune function and anti-inflammatory response in the human body. Heal the real problem and many other things will take care of themselves. It may not be the whole solution but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

 

 

Making Bone Broth

 

Marrow and knucklebones make the best broth but any type of bone can be used including raw or previously cooked bones. Knucklebones add generous amounts of gelatin and collagen, marrowbones add flavor and nutrients, and rib bones add flavor and meat if still attached. Start with a basic bone broth from raw bones and as you start to understand the process, expand from there. Bone broth can be made without herbs and mirepoix but in most cases we are after flavor, the simple addition of onion, carrots, celery and herbs adds another dimension of flavor.

 

 

Beef Broth in an 8-liter stockpot

Use the same procedure for lamb or venison.

 

3 to 5 pounds of various beef bones

4 to 6 liters water—enough to cover the bones well

½ cup apple cider or wine vinegar (sometimes I use herbal infused apple cider vinegar)

 

2-3 onions peeled and quartered

2-3 carrots peeled and cut into large chunks

3-4 celery stalks or half a celery root cut into large pieces

A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary or a teaspoon each of dried

 

Bring to a boil over high heat and with a slotted spoon skim the scum that comes to the surface. When there is less scum, add the vegetables and herbs, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for a minimum of 12 hours. If the heat is too high and the volume of liquid becomes reduced too much before 12 to 24 hours is up, add more water to the pot bring to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to a lower temperature. It is best for dense bones to cook longer, if you don’t feel confident about leaving the pot to simmer on low heat over night, turn the heat off just before slipping into bed, leave it right there on the burner, the nutrients will continue to leach into the liquid despite no fire. Upon rising, turn it back on first thing, bring to a rolling boil then reduce the heat to medium low to continue simmering. (I’ve strained some of this broth into a mug and drunk it up as my first nourishment of the day—especially when feeling a little under the weather)

 

When the broth is complete, remove the bones from the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer into another pot or container with a lid; after it has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate. When completely cold, remove the congealed fat from the top of the broth (reserve for stir-fries or sautéing vegetables for soups) and what is left is an amazing stock that will add oomph to any dish or make a fabulous soup. To keep for longer periods of time, portion out into smaller containers or preserving jars and freeze to use within 3 months or up to a week in the fridge if not using immediately.

 

 

Chicken Broth

 

1 whole chicken

4-6 liters water

¼ cup vinegar

1 onion

2 carrots

3-5 celery stalks or half a celery root

 

Put all ingredients into an 8-liter stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. If scum rises to the top skim it off and discard. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for a minimum of 6-12 hours. Remove the chicken from the pot. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot or large bowl and refrigerate. When cold, skim the solidified fat off if desired, portion and store the stock in covered containers in the fridge or freezer. The meat off the carcass is great to add back into a chicken soup, chicken fried rice, enchiladas, vegetable stir-fry or chicken sandwiches.

 

Uncooked turkey parts will make a similar stock

 

Other suggestions for making stock:

After a meal of roast chicken, turkey or other poultry, reserve the bones and discards of cartilage, etc., place all in a pot, add water to cover about an inch over the volume of bones, add a couple tablespoons of vinegar, some herbs if desired and simmer 6-12 hours. Strain and refrigerate until ready to use. This doesn’t produce the clear high quality stock of raw bones or chicken but it does have a full range of flavor as well as the benefit of nutrients. When bones from chicken have barely anything left to them, they get so soft they will crush down into a paste and make a very good dog food.

A similar stock can be made from a rack of ribs after a barbecue, either pork or beef. Bones that have been cooked for a short period of time, have plenty of food value and flavor left that we can still take advantage of. Bone broth from pork ribs is a wonderful addition to dried beans.

 

Once you have the idea, there isn’t much left for the dog…

Food for Thought

By Gaye Chicoine,

Local, Seasonal and Traditional Foods, the Better Choice when Possible

Food for Thought

Locally produced food in season prepared with traditional methods for summer and winter food consumption was the solution to being able to feed my crew tasty real food they would eat to keep them happy and well.

I’ve learned on my extensive travels to appreciate the local foods of where I was at that moment. Pineapple, when purchased from the grocery store shelves in Canada has no taste comparison to pineapple from the market in Costa Rica. Rice produced on the rivers in Peru has an earthy wholesome flavor that I’ve not found in any other rice I’ve purchased or used. The pumpkin garlic soup served at a hostel while trekking the Annapurna Mountains of Nepal; is a taste sensation that still sits in my mind over 30 years later. It was such a simple dish made with what was available locally at that moment. Consuming sea vegetables was so much more palatable in Japan as compared to the packaged products available to those who live a great distance from an ocean. A treat of oysters on the half shell in Melbourne, Australia beside the waters they came from tops any other occasion I’ve tasted oysters; the same with a lunch of clams on one of the islands south of Hong Kong. Fresh salmon on the British Colombia coast has a world of taste difference from salmon that arrives at inland markets. Reneta, a type of Sea Bass that we purchased from the fisherman on the wharf in Concon, Chile available only during Chilean winter taught me to truly appreciate seasonal availability. When it wasn’t available any longer a fisherman said, “You can have it again next year.” The list could go on.

What I want to emphasize here is that when we consume fresh foods produced locally in season, we are taking advantage of the fullest flavor possible of that food. When healthy food tastes good it is consumed. Local food, because it hasn’t travelled so far, is less “weary” and full of life giving nutrition with the bonus being far more economical to purchase. Marketing strategies have tried to convince us that exotic, super foods from far away places, are something the population needs to have. Goji berries grow in Asia and marketed as a super food in North America, but when those berries are purchased in North America, the food dollar is short lived. So what about cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries and currants? All grow in North America and all are on the list of super foods too. What I’m trying to get at is, we can do ourselves healthy service if we get in touch with local harvests and take advantage of what is available, when available in your area. This is not only more economical on a personal level, it is more environmentally sustainable, supports local economy and once you start consuming traditional, real food according to season and where you are at the moment, you may find your general well-being becoming more satisfied, content, peaceful and able to cope more readily with your surrounding environment.

Excerpt from recipe book, “Feed Your Family Real Food Local, Seasonal, Traditional”

Throughout my years of preparing food for family, friends, the public and myself, the habit of choosing local, seasonal and traditional foods developed mostly because I discovered my food dollar goes much farther gathering the best quality food from local producers and farmers markets than purchasing from major grocery store chains.

There are many reasons for choosing to use local products over food that has travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to get to a consumers destination. These are mine.

Local food from local producers is fresher, fresh food has more food value, my food dollar budget goes much farther for the quality of food, it supports the economy of the communities I live, small local farmers are more likely to use less pesticide and herbicides than the multinational big food industry and locally grown food that has flourished in local climate conditions supports the body with sustenance to deal with local climate conditions and pollens throughout the year.

When the majority of our diet comes from local sources it is only natural that we would consume seasonal produce as well. Seasonal produce is fresh, has peak food value and again more suited to the climate of where one lives. Essentially there are warming foods and there are cooling foods. Warming foods help the body keep warm to deal with the cold of winter and cooling food helps the body keep cool during summer. Would you like to eat a bowl of hot beef barley soup on a hot July day or go out on a cross-country ski in January after eating a simple salad? Just the suggestion feels incongruent. When we prepare local food available according to season and exterior climate conditions, our bodies and minds are much better prepared to function optimally when fueled accordingly. Tender green leafy vegetables during spring, fruits, berries and denser vegetables for summer; roots, squashes and potatoes are in abundance during the cooler autumn months and manage to maintain food integrity well into winter until spring rolls around once again. As the earth rests and regenerates during winter, finding nourishing local food can be a challenge. This is where my pioneering ancestors have had great influence on my food prep education. I continue to carry, use and expand many of those traditional practices that sustained several generations before me.

It is hard to argue with food practices that have nourished our ancestors, kept them healthy and sustained them throughout the year for hundreds, even thousands of years before our current generations of manipulated food. Traditional foods have stood the test of time and we are beginning to wake up to the fact that processed foods containing non-traditional ingredients could just be an underlying problem to so many health issues we are facing today. I’ve grew up and raised my family using traditional food practices most of the time and we have had very few health issues. Myself, in my sixties use no medications, even through menopause and I attribute my good fortune to, a good healthy diet, moderate physical exercise and always working on a positive mental attitude. As Hippocrates quoted, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I took it to heart!