Author Archives: 98%naturalmommy

Maple Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, and Potatoes 

 These roasted root vegetables make a great side to almost any dish, as the flavor is mild but still delicious.  


7-8 carrots

3-4 parsnips

8-10 small red potatoes 

1/4 cup coconut oil (or other oil of your choice) 

1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup 

1tsp salt 


1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Peel and slice the carrots and parsnips into “sticks”.  Peel (optional) and cut the potatoes in halves or quarters (depending on size).

2. Place all the vegetables in a casserole dish.  Toss with the oil, maple syrup and salt until coated. 

  3.  Bake for 55-65 mins, until a fork can easily be poked through all the vegetables.  Enjoy!


Nutrient Pairing: How To Get The Most Nutrition Out Of Your Food

 Edit Edit    A few months ago I found out that my daughter had an iron deficiency. I was shocked considering how many leafy greens she consumes in a day, not to mention how meticulous I am about making sure that she gets adequate amounts of all the food groups.

Her pediatrician suggested that she could be consuming too much dairy. A light bulb went off right away as I already knew that calcium blocks iron absorption, but I had failed to factor that in when planning her meals. I had not only been giving her too much dairy (she loves cheese and yogurt), but I had been adding it to almost every meal ever since I stopped breastfeeding her several months ago. She wouldn’t drink milk alone and I misguidedly thought that she needed it to replace the breastmilk that she wasn’t getting anymore. 

 Sooo I started her on an iron supplement and reduced her dairy intake. The doctor asked that I have her iron and hemoglobin levels checked again in about ten days to make sure her body was absorbing the iron. Her hemoglobin levels increased so quickly that her pediatrician said he would have expected to see those results after a month of taking supplements, not after a mere ten days. Clearly the reduced dairy made a huge difference as that was the only change I had made to her diet.

Sometimes nutrient deficiencies are not caused by an inadequate amount of that nutrient in your diet but rather by too much of an anti-nutrient, as in my daughter’s case. Bioavailability refers to how well a nutrient can be absorbed and used by your body. Just because a food contains a high amount of a certain nutrient doesn’t necessarily mean that your body will absorb it, and some nutrients need others in order to be absorbed. 

 Also bear in mind that the food that we eat today is not as nutrient dense as it was a few decades ago. By breeding and selecting for varieties that give better yield, longer shelf life, disease resistance and more durability during transport, we have lost the nutrient density that the original varieties contained1 in addition to the loss of nutrients from soil depletion. This is why it is important to be mindful of which nutrients work well together and which don’t when planning your meals in order to get the most nutrition possible from your food.

Tips on getting more nutrition out of your food:

1. Iron. Pair your iron-rich foods (red meat, beans, lentils, pork, poultry, seafood, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fortified cereals, bread and pasta) with some fruit or red peppers to make sure that you get enough Vitamin C to help your body absorb all that iron. Zinc also aids iron absorption. Foods high in zinc include oysters, meat and poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fortified cereals, and seafood.

2. Calcium. Most dairy is fortified with vitamin D to make sure that your body can absorb the calcium, but if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, then you should pair your non-dairy calcium-rich foods with some vitamin D to ensure that you are absorbing it. Mushrooms are the only vegan food sources of vitamin D aside from fortified beverages, so a supplement might be a good idea if you don’t get a lot of sun exposure. Inulin is also required for calcium absorption; it can be found in bananas, garlic, leeks, asparagus, onions, and certain herbs.

3. Phytates. Phytate binds to minerals and makes them less bioavailable2. Sprouting grains, beans, nuts and seeds before you eat them will reduce their phytate content, allowing your body to absorb more of the zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium in those foods2.

4. Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are the fat soluble vitamins, meaning that they need fat to be absorbed by your body. Pair them with healthy fats like vegetable oils, avocados, and nuts. If you follow a low-fat diet you could be hindering your body’s ability to absorb these vitamins. Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet.     

5. Avoid caffeine with meals. Caffeine blocks the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, so if you choose to drink coffee or tea, do so in moderation as excessive caffeine intake can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

7. Eat a variety of healthy foods in moderation.  You can eat the healthiest foods in the world but too much of anything is never a good thing.

For an example of a recipe that uses the above food pairing rules try my Mango Kiwi Banana Smoothie With Greens and Avocado


1. M.J. Stephey. Eating your veggies: not as good for you? TIME, 2009.,8599,1880145,00.html

2. Sandberg, Ann-Sofie; Andlid, Thomas. Phytogenic and microbial phytases in human nutrition. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. Oct2002, Vol. 37 Issue 7, p823-833. 11p. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2621.2002.00641.x.

3. World’s Healthiest Foods.

Mango Kiwi Banana Smoothie with Greens and Avocado


Smoothies are a great way to get some extra nutrition.  But did you know that your body can’t absorb nutrients efficiently unless they are paired correctly?  (Read more about nutrient pairing here).  The vitamin C from the kiwi and mango in this smoothie help your body absorb the high levels of iron in the leafy greens, while the healthy fat in the avocado will help you absorb the carotenoids from both the fruit and greens.  

Yield: 2 servings 


1 small mango, pitted and peeled 

1 kiwi, peeled 

2 cups leafy greens of choice 

1 avocado, pitted and peeled 

1 large ripe banana

Directions:  Place all ingredients in a blender with enough water to blend to desired consistency.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy! 

My Top 5 Green Juice Recipes.

My toddler and I drink green juice every day. I just don’t feel the same if I don’t drink my green juice, sort of how people who are accustomed to drinking coffee every morning can’t survive without it. My daughter has also become accustomed to starting every day with green juice, and I’m hoping that it will remain a life-long habit. I only give her about 4-5 ounces for now since she’s just a tot.

I wish I could make fresh juice every morning, but since it’s so time consuming I make 2 days worth every other morning and store the next day’s juice in the fridge. I’m hoping that when my daughter is older and more independent I will be able to juice every day, but for now I simply just don’t have the time.

Although fresh pressed juice is the most nutritious, a cold-press juicer allows most of the nutrients and enzymes to be retained for a few days. Also, storing the juice in a glass mason jar filled close to the brim prevents oxygen from degrading the enzymes.

I alternate between 5 different recipes, so that I’m never making the same juice more than once a week (although I do drink the same juice for 2 days at a time). This ensures that we get a variety of nutrients and also because too much of a good thing can lead to trouble. No matter how good Kale is for you, overdosing on it can still cause harm. Certain leafy greens like Swiss chard, spinach and kale have a high oxalic acid content which can cause kidney stones if you have too much. But don’t worry, you would have to eat or drink a large amount of them every day for a long period of time in order for that to happen. Just make sure that you juice a variety of greens and you should be fine. Additionally, the good bacteria in your gut help to break down oxalate acid (one more reason to eat probiotic food).

Each of the following recipes yields approximately 3 glasses of juice – you may get more or less depending on the size and ripeness of the produce that you use.

1. Refreshing cucumber juice.
2 large cucumbers (or 3 small)
2 bunches of kale leaves.
1 bunch of mint
2 lemons
1 apple
2-inch piece of ginger (optional)
This juice is the most refreshing due to the cooling effect of the cucumber and mint.

2. Carrot-beet juice
7 large carrots
3 small beets
3 small apples
1 lemon
1 bunch parsley
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional)
This red juice is my toddler’s favorite because of the sweetness.

3. Celery-Chard Juice
1 stalk of celery
1-2 bunches of Swiss chard
1 bunch of parsley
2 lemons
2 apples
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional)
I find this juice to be the most bitter tasting, which is why I include 2 apples to add a little extra sweetness. If you are new to juicing, I do not recommend this recipe as both the celery and chard have a strong taste.  This one is for the regular juicers.  The picture shows a reddish juice because I used red chard.

IMG_4712.JPG4. Carrot-Apple-ginger juice.
10 carrots
3 apples
2-3 inch piece of ginger
You can add some greens to this if you like. This is a great starter juice to those who are new to juicing.


5. Broccoli-carrot-apple juice

2 large stalks of broccoli
4 large carrots
1 bunch of leafy greens (any kind)
2 apples
2 lemons
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional) 

If you have any leftover veggies in your fridge that didn’t get used during the week, throw them into your juicer before they go bad.  You can add spinach to any of these juices as well.  Personally, I do not juice spinach because I already add it to my smoothie almost every day and I don’t want to turn into Popeye The Sailor Man. I try to keep a balance between the veggies that I juice and eat in the same day so that I don’t overdo any one particular vegetable. Variety is key.  

The Decline of Probiotics in a Germophobic World (part 2)


 Ponder the above statement for a minute. What does it mean exactly? Essentially that humans are actually made up of 90% microorganisms and only about 10% human cells.

How can that be, you might ask? Because humans evolved to live symbiotically with microorganisms. We provide them with food and shelter, and they in turn help us digest components of our food that we lack the enzymes to digest ourselves. They also synthesize certain vitamins, help regulate our immune systems, and prevent invasion from harmful microorganisms that can make us sick12. Their survival is dependent on us, and our survival is dependent on them. When the balance of good germs and bad germs is thrown off, the result is termed intestinal dysbiosis1.

How do these microorganisms get inside of us in the first place?

We inherit our gut flora from our mothers. Babies in the womb are completely sterile, meaning that they have no gut flora at all3. As they pass through the birth canal they “pick up” microorganisms that are present in their mother’s vaginal tract (which is representative of the microorganisms present in her gut)9. This could be why babies that are born via cesarean section have been found to have higher rates of asthma, allergies, obesity, coeliac disease, and diabetes than babies who are born vaginally8. Recent research has also linked cesarean deliveries to an increased rate of autism but it is unsure yet as to whether c-sections raise the chances of having a child with autism or if giving birth to a baby predisposed to autism raises the chances of requiring an emergency c-section4. Babies who are born vaginally and exclusively breastfed have also been found to have more “beneficial” gut microbiota compared to babies who are born via c-section and formula-fed8.  Now that doesn’t mean that if your baby was born via cesarean he or she will be doomed to develop some sort of illness. It just means that you need to ensure your baby develops a healthy gut flora via other methods (breastfeeding, eating fermented foods, and staying away from antibiotics unless absolutely necessary).

Breastfeeding and its role in developing healthy gut flora

 Breastfeeding helps babies’ immune systems “learn” to be tolerant to different foods and things in the environment to avoid allergic reactions8. Breastmilk also contains prebiotics12 which help the probiotics in the baby’s gut flourish.  If you are unable to breastfeed there are now many probiotic formulas available to promote good gut health in your baby. Even women who breastfeed are not necessarily passing on the best probiotics to their babies unless they themselves have good gut health (although they will still pass on many other molecules that are crucial to developing healthy gut flora). Babies can be given probiotic foods when they start weaning to introduce more “good germs” into their bodies. They will also naturally pick up germs from their environment, which is good for their gut flora.  Just as long as you don’t over-sanitize everything in their environment. 

Newborns and small infants should however be kept away from sick people since their immune systems are still developing (sick people harbour pathogens, the harmful kind of microbes that you don’t want invading your baby’s body). 

What is happening to our gut health?

 The cumulative overuse of antibiotics across multiple generations is resulting in our children lacking healthy gut flora1. Add to that the negative effect that birth control pills and vaccinations have on our gut flora, and its no wonder that we seem to be getting sicker and sicker. Each generation is passing on less beneficial microbes to the next. There are scientists who are studying and saving microbes found in fecal samples from people living in the amazon and villages who have had little to no contact with the modern world and also have not contracted our modern diseases3. The hope is that some of the beneficial microbes that have gone extinct in our bodies can one day be salvaged from those people and reintroduced into our bodies to protect or even cure us of our modern diseases3. If you are interested in reading more about how and why beneficial microbes are going extinct and why they are so important, I highly recommend this book by Dr. Martin Blaser.  

What happens when we don’t have good gut health? 

The beneficial microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract directly affect the immune system, therefore the absence of “good germs” in the gut can lead to inflammatory diseases due to a lack of regulation of the immune system11. Microorganisms in the gut also influence how a potentially toxic environmental chemical is metabolized by your body (if its absorbed or excreted)7.  Basically, good germs in your gut can protect you from bad chemicals.  Antibiotic use has even been linked to coeliac disease10  which infers that the bacteria in your gut are crucial for proper digestion of food. It is very likely that antibiotics alter gut flora to the extent of causing disease.

So what does all of this research mean?

It means that we need to be more conscious of nurturing the trillions of “good germs” in our bodies that have such a profound impact on our health. We need to be mindful that when we get vaccinated and take antibiotics or other medications, we also need to restore the good germs that may have been lost. In order to maintain optimal health we also need to maintain the health of all of our microfriends living inside of us. This is where probiotics and prebiotics come in (read more about them in my previous post here).

All of the above information DOES NOT mean that we shouldn’t get vaccinated or take antibiotics and other medications when necessary. Without them, infectious diseases would still be the number one cause of death in humans as it was prior to their invention. We just need to be aware of the effect that they have on our gut microbiota and take measures to reverse that effect. So if you get bronchitis and have to take antibiotics, follow up with a round of probiotic supplements or increase the amount of fermented foods in your diet. The same logic applies to other medications and vaccinations.

For pregnant women, probiotic foods are a must and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of maintaining a healthy gut during pregnancy. Babies who have gut dysbiosis from birth are essentially immunocompromised and will react differently to vaccinations and antibiotics or medications than babies with healthy gut flora. Any medical intervention can end up being the straw that breaks the camels back when it comes to already immunocompromised infants and children, possibly resulting in disorders like asthma, diabetes, autism, obesity, coeliac disease, and others.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am in no way saying that the above listed illnesses are caused by medical interventions. I am saying that they can be triggered by them in babies and children who are already immunocompromised due to gut dysbiosis.  Those medical interventions are necessary and can be life saving.

Think about it this way; if children with gut dysbiosis can be triggered by certain medical interventions, that’s not to say that avoiding them completely will prevent them from being triggered. Those children can also be triggered by a virus or environmental exposure to a toxic chemical, basically anything that their immune system is not equipped to handle. So avoiding medical interventions isn’t the answer, it will only delay the onset of illnesses and disorders that some children are bound to contract as long as their gut microbiota are unbalanced. The answer is to heal their immune systems by healing their guts.

Or, if possible, give them the best start in life by ensuring they are born with healthy gut flora so that they don’t need to be healed in the first place.

I wish I had known all of this when I was pregnant as I could have possibly prevented a lot of my daughter’s “gut issues” (acid reflux, gas and overall stomach discomfort, irritability, poor eating habits) that caused her to be such a fussy baby. I’m grateful that I at least know it now so I can work on balancing her gut microbiota by feeding her plenty of fermented foods. Hopefully this post will help other parents recognize their children’s gut issues. And even better, I hope it will reach expecting mothers who may have unbalanced gut flora themselves, so that they can fix the imbalance before delivery to ensure that their babies have healthy guts from birth.

There are studies that show a correlation between good gut flora and having older siblings, possibly due to daily exposure to germs from other kids. However, I have my own theory as to why children with older siblings are more likely to have healthy gut flora compared to first-born or only children:


1. Blaser, Martin J. Antibiotics Overload Is Endangering Our Children. 5/9/2014, p1-1. 1p

2. Blaser, Martin; Bork, Peer; Fraser, Claire; Knight, Rob; Wang, Jun. The microbiome explored: recent insights and future challenges, Nature Reviews Microbiology. Mar2013, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p213-217. 5p. DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro2973

3. Blaser, Martin J. Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. Holt. 2014. 288p

4. Curran, E. A., O’Neill, S. M., Cryan, J. F., Kenny, L. C., Dinan, T. G., Khashan, A. S. and Kearney, P. M. (2014), Research Review: Birth by caesarean section and development of autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12351

5. Dong, H., Rowland, I., Tuohy, K. M., Thomas, L. V., & Yaqoob, P. (2010). Selective effects of Lactobacillus casei Shirota on T cell activation, natural killer cell activity and cytokine production. Clinical & Experimental Immunology, 161(2), 378-388. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04173.x

6. Dotterud, C. K.; Storr, O.; Johnsen, R.; Øien, T. Probiotics in pregnant women to prevent allergic disease: a randomized, double-blind trial. British Journal of Dermatology. Sep2010, Vol. 163 Issue 3, p616-623. 8p. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09889.x

7. Holtcamp, Wendee. Gut Check: Do Interactions between Environmental Chemicals and Intestinal Microbiota Affect Obesity and Diabetes? Environmental Health Perspectives. Mar2012, Vol. 120 Issue 3, pA123-A123. 3/5p.

8. Isolauri, Erika. Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health. Development of healthy gut microbiota early in life. Jun2012 Supplement, Vol. 48, p1-6. 6p. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2012.02489.x

9. John Penders, MSca, Carel Thijs, MD, PhDa,b, Cornelis Vink, PhDc, Foekje F. Stelma, MD, PhDc, Bianca Snijders, MScb, Ischa Kummeling, MScb, Piet A. van den Brandt, PhDa, Ellen E. Stobberingh, PhDc. Factors Influencing the Composition of the Intestinal Microbiota in Early Infancy. PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 2 August 1, 2006 pp. 511 -521 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-2824)

10. Mårild, Karl; Weimin Ye; Lebwohl, Benjamin; Green, Peter H. R.; Blaser, Martin J.; Card, Tim; Ludvigsson, Jonas F. Antibiotic exposure and the development of coeliac disease: a nationwide case-control study. BMC Gastroenterology. 2013, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1-9. 9p. 1 Diagram, 2 Charts. DOI: 10.1186/1471-230X-13-109

11. Round, June L.; Mazmanian, Sarkis K. The gut microbiota shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease. Nature Reviews Immunology. May2009, Vol. 9 Issue 5, p313-323. 11p. 3 Diagrams, 3 Charts. DOI: 10.1038/nri2515.

12. Wallace, Taylor C; Guarner, Francisco; Madsen, Karen; Cabana, Michael D; Gibson, Glenn; Hentges, Eric; Sanders, Mary Ellen. Human gut microbiota and its relationship to health and disease. Nutrition Reviews. Jul2011, Vol. 69 Issue 7, p392-403. 12p. 2 Charts. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00402.x.

Healthy Black Bean and Banana Brownies

I’ve tried out a few different black bean brownie recipes but every single recipe that I’ve found online requires chocolate chips. I wanted to make black bean brownies without them because I can’t find any without added sugar and most contain soy lecithin as well. I would love to be able to eat brownies regularly without the guilt, so I decided to come up with my own recipe and completely eliminate sugar and chocolate chips.

These are definitely not your typical brownie but they are healthy and delicious! They also make a great pre or post workout snack 💪.


1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (equivalent to 1/2 cup dried or a 15 ounce can)
1 cup oats
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 large, ripe bananas
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Optional: chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth (if using walnuts, add them after blending)
3. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 pan.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins, then let cool in pan for 10 mins before cutting.

No one will know these are made with black beans unless you tell them 😉.

The Decline of Probiotics in a Germophobic World (Part 1)

In today’s germophobic world it may be difficult to understand the concept of good germs. We have become so fixated on sanitizing everything and washing our hands frequently to get rid of “bad germs” that we have forgotten about “good germs” and their benefits.

Overuse of cleaning products and antibiotics have wiped out the good germs as well as the bad1, and the result is an increasing number of people with unhealthy gut flora. Gut flora is the term used to describe the microorganisms that naturally occur in your intestine. These “germs” do not make you sick but instead help you digest your food and also provide some protection against “bad germs”.

In developed countries children receive an average of 10-20 courses of antibiotics by the time they are 18 years old and there is evidence that not only do their gut flora fail to recover completely but they may also be replaced by unwanted microorganisms1.

This doesn’t mean that antibiotics are bad. Without them we would still be living in a world where common bacterial infections were life threatening. We do, however, need to stop overusing antibiotics.

The best way to help our guts recover after taking antibiotics is to replenish the good germs in our gut with probiotics.

Probiotics have been found to reduce intestinal permeability and increase insulin sensitivity which is hopeful for future diabetes prevention and management3. Multispecies probiotics (meaning a combination of different strains of bacteria and other microorganisms) have been proven to be an effective treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome7.

There is evidence that the microorganisms in your gut also affect your behaviour and can impact stress-related disorders in either a negative or positive manner, depending on the composition of your gut flora2.

An imbalance in gut flora has also been associated with an increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease)6 and obesity4.

Reading all of the research related to antibiotics and altered gut flora was a huge eye-opener for me. I used to be a very healthy child who rarely needed to visit the doctor. As I got older (into my teenage years) I started to eat A LOT of junk food and less healthy food which made me more susceptible to colds and illnesses. I was prescribed antibiotics quite often (looking back I probably did not need them half of the time). By the time I was in my 20’s I started having uncomfortable stomach symptoms after eating certain foods that I could previously consume with no discomfort. Eventually I ended up becoming sensitive to dairy and will now get a stomach ache after drinking milk or eating ice cream (yogurt does not pose a problem for me).

If I had known then what I know now I would have only taken antibiotics when I really needed them (when I had something like bronchitis or a sinus infection, not just cold-like symptoms). I also would have eaten plenty of probiotic foods after each course of antibiotics to replenish the good bacteria in my gut.

So what are probiotic foods? Basically foods that have had a chance to ferment under the right conditions with or without the help of a starter culture (usually bacteria or yeast), until a different food has been created (ex. cucumbers–>pickles). The most popular and well-known probiotic food is yogurt. Other probiotic food and beverages that are popular are sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), Kombucha (a fermented tea/tonic), kimchi (a spicier pickled version of sauerkraut), miso (fermented rye, beans, rice or barley), kefir (fermented goat milk and kefir grains), and pickles.

Store-bought yogurt and other fermented food products can contain extra sugar and sometimes other additives to enhance flavour or extend shelf life. To avoid unwanted sugar and additives it is a good idea to make your own. This may seem daunting at first but once you start fermenting your own foods it will become a breeze and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. If you would like to give it a try check out my personal yogurt recipe here.

If you simply don’t have the time to learn how to make your own yogurt then at least try to buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit and/or sweeteners.

Personally I eat homemade yogurt every day and so does my toddler, but I wanted to enhance our gut health even further by adding more fermented foods to our diet. I recently tried making my own fermented applesauce (you can find the recipe that I used here), and not only did it turn out wonderful, it is kid-friendly as well (my toddler loves it!). My next goal is to try my hand at making sauerkraut.

When eating probiotic foods bear in mind the following:

1. Heat kills bacteria, even the good kind. Just as cooking food helps get rid of any undesired bacteria that could make you sick, heating fermented foods will kill the desired probiotics. If you fermented your food using sterile dishes and containers then the good bacteria that you added in should be able to ward off any bad bacteria that may try to invade.

2. If you see slime or mold in your fermented food or it looks pink, don’t eat it. Sometimes the fermenting process can go wrong and you may end up with mold or bad bacteria in your food, in which case it is harmful to ingest. So if it doesn’t smell or look right, throw it away.

3. Letting your food ferment for too long can result in alcohol formation. If you don’t refrigerate your food after it is done fermenting, the microorganisms will keep on fermenting which will eventually result in an alcoholic food or beverage. This is more likely to happen when making Kombucha so always do a taste test to make sure you have not made alcohol, especially if you are giving fermented foods to kids. Refrigeration drastically slows down the fermentation process but it does not halt it completely. So if you have had that fermented applesauce in your fridge for a month, taste a little yourself before giving any of it to your children.

4. Probiotics need prebiotics to thrive. So in addition to eating probiotic foods you also need to eat prebiotic food in order to keep your gut microorganisms happy. Prebiotics are plant fibers that can be found in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.

For more detailed information on the health ramifications of an unhealthy gut flora, stay tuned for part 2!


1. Blaser, M. Antibiotic overuse: Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria. Nature 476, 393–394 (25 August 2011) doi:10.1038/476393a

2. Cryan, J. F.; O’Mahony, S. M. The microbiome-gut-brain axis: from bowel to behavior. Neurogastroenterology & Motility. Mar2011, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p187-192. 6p. 1 Diagram. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01664.x

3. Corado Gomes, Aline; Bueno, Allain Amador; de Souza, Rávila Graziany; Mota, João Felipe. Gut microbiota, probiotics and diabetes. Nutrition Journal. 2014, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p82-107. 26p. 1 Diagram, 2 Charts. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-60.

4. Fukuda, Shinji; Ohno, Hiroshi. Gut microbiome and metabolic diseases. Seminars in Immunopathology. Jan2014, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p103-114. 12p. DOI: 10.1007/s00281-013-0399-z

5. Holmes E, Li JV, Athanasiou T, Ashrafian H, Nicholson JK: Understanding the role of gut microbiome-host metabolic signal disruption in health and disease. Trends Microbiol 2011, 19:349–359.

6. Luckey, David; Gomez, Andres; Murray, Joseph; White, Bryan; Taneja, Veena. Bugs & us: The role of the gut in autoimmunity. Indian Journal of Medical Research. Nov2013, Vol. 138 Issue 5, p732-743. 12p.

7. Yoon, Jun Sik; Sohn, Won; Lee, Oh Young; Lee, Sang Pyo; Lee, Kang Nyeong; Jun, Dae Won; Lee, Hang Lak; Yoon, Byung Chul; Choi, Ho Soon; Chung, Won-Seok; Seo, Jae-Gu. Effect of multispecies probiotics on irritable bowel syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Jan2014, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p52-59. 8p. DOI: 10.1111/jgh.12322

Easy Homemade Yogurt Recipe


I learned how to make yogurt from my mom. Indians traditionally keep homemade yogurt in the fridge at all times to eat with roti. I didn’t learn how to make it myself, however, until my daughter was old enough to eat it (I made all of her other baby food from scratch so I wasn’t about to feed her store-bought yogurt!). My mother makes it the traditional Indian way (without measurements or thermometers), so I had to work backwards to get measurements and temperature readings that I could put down on paper. There are many different ways of making yogurt but this is how my mother taught me to make it:


Milk (amount is up to you)
Starter culture*

You will also need a thick glass bowl/jar with a tight-fitting lid and a thermometer. Thicker glass will retain the temperature better.


1. Heat milk on medium-high in a pot on stove until it comes to a boil (stir occasionally or keep covered to prevent a film from forming on top). Remove from heat and pour into a glass container with a lid.

2. Allow the milk to cool to about 90*C-110*F (the outside of the glass container should feel warm but not hot). Loosely place the lid on top while cooling to prevent a film from forming, or stir occasionally. If you let it cool too long and the temperature drops lower just reheat on stove until it reaches the right temperature again. Add a teaspoon of the starter culture* to the centre of the warm milk (do not stir!). Make sure the lid is on tight and place in cool oven.

3. Turn the oven light on (the warmth from the light will keep the milk warm enough to allow the fermentation process to occur). Let sit overnight or about 8-10 hours, then cool in the refrigerator before eating. If the milk does not solidify or seems runny, simply leave it in the oven with the oven light on until it thickens.

4. Remove the whey (the runny liquid floating on top of the yogurt) before refrigerating and save it for lacto-fermentation of other foods. Or discard it. But now that you’re a pro fermenter why not save it and try your hand at another fermented food 😉.

*You can buy a powdered starter culture or simply use previously made or store bought yogurt as a starter (if using store bought yogurt make sure it is plain). Each time you make yogurt, set aside a spoonful before you eat it all to use as a starter for the next batch. Or you can do what Indians usually do, and ask a relative, friend, or neighbour for a little bit of their yogurt to use as a starter. If you do not plan on making continuous batches of yogurt then you can also freeze some to use as a starter later (if using frozen starter use a tad bit more than a tsp).

Troubleshooting tips for yogurt-making:

1. Your yogurt turned out too sour. You either used too much of the starter or added the starter when the milk was not cool enough. Use less starter and make sure the milk is at the right temperature next time. If you prefer a more sour taste then use slightly more starter than stated in the recipe.

2. Your yogurt didn’t solidify. You either used too little starter or allowed to milk to cool too much. Don’t fret – just keep it in the oven with the light on (do not turn on the oven!) and let it sit longer. Use a tad bit more starter next time and make sure the temperature of the milk is right.

3. You forgot about the yogurt and it incubated for too long. Don’t worry. It simply fermented longer so it might be a little more sour than usual but it’s still OK to eat (some people incubate their yogurt for up to 36 hours).

4. You ate all the yogurt and forgot to save some to use as a starter for the next batch. This one requires a preemptive solution – freeze a little bit of your first batch of yogurt to use in emergencies when you or another family member eats it all.

5. Even after following all of the above tips your yogurt still did not form. You may have disturbed the milk too much by either stirring or jostling it, or removing the lid to check on it too frequently. Once you add the starter and place it in the oven, LEAVE IT ALONE! The more you disturb it the less likely it is to form into yogurt.

6. Your yogurt has become increasingly sour/tart over time despite your best efforts to do everything right. You need a fresh starter culture. Using sour yogurt to make more yogurt will only result in endless batches of sour yogurt.

You can eat your yogurt plain or add fresh fruit, honey, granola, or other topping of your choice.

Ginger-Ale or Sugar-Ale?

When I was a kid my mom would give me ginger-ale every time I had a stomach ache. Even in my teens and early 20’s I would drink ginger-ale every time I had an upset stomach. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I noticed a particular brand (Canada Dry) had “made with real ginger” written on the front label. It made me think: “aren’t all store-bought ginger-ales made with real ginger?”

Apparently not.

If you actually read the ingredients, they’re mostly made of carbonated water and sugar with both natural and artificial colours and flavours thrown in.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4980.jpgThe only brand that I’ve seen that makes the claim “made with real ginger” on the label is Canada Dry, but if you read the ingredient list it’s still mostly sugar and additives.

A pregnant friend of mine recently told me that she drinks ginger-ale sometimes for her morning sickness, because she thought it contained ginger which is a proven remedy for nausea. It made me wonder how many pregnant women out there are unknowingly consuming sugar and harmful artificial additives under the false impression that they are drinking a “healthy” beverage to help with their morning sickness. It also got me thinking about all the parents who probably still give it to their kids for tummy troubles.

If you look at the ingredient list for soda, it’s not much different.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4979-1.jpgMost pregnant women wouldn’t drink 7-up to cure morning sickness, nor would most parents give their children sugar filled soda to cure an upset stomach. But store bought ginger-ale is basically the same thing.

As a better option, try boiling some ginger in water and then add a natural sweetener like honey. You’ll get the benefits of ginger without any added sugar, colors or flavors. If you or your kids prefer fizzy drinks, add a little plain carbonated water and you’ve got yourself some homemade ginger-ale.