Zero Waste Periods : Cloth Pad Review – Bloom and Nora

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In the UK alone, we use about 4.3 billion single use sanitary products a year. An individual will be using around 11,000 disposable sanitary pads in her lifetime. And an estimated 1.3 million pads get flushed down the toilet, costing millions in clearing blocked drains. These plastic pads not only sit in the landfills for years (around 500 years), but the toxins used in these pads are polluting our oceans, thereby endangering the great marine life. The dioxins and carcinogens that are in these pads, enter our bodies through contact and can be literally deadly. So what is the solution?

Switch To More Sustainable and Healthier Options – Resuseable Cloth Pads

I have been using a menstruation cup for years now after having experienced terrible rashes from disposable pads and extreme dryness from tampons. But I could not go zero waste with my period right away. The cup is not the most convenient thing to empty, wash and insert back in in public washrooms. And I go on long walks which again makes cleaning after a few hours a difficult job, so I always used a sanitary pad to go with my menstruation cup. I might have cut down my use of disposable sanitary products by 90% but not completely.

Enter Bloom and Nora Cloth Pads

Bloom and Nora sent me their trail pack of sanitary pads made with 100% natural fibres. It was an opportunity for me to go zero waste in the red zone area, and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

I was sent a trail kit with two blooms and two Nora pads ranging between their four available sizes. I have used them over the past three cycle and I think I have enough experience to share my thoughts with you.

Blooms are basically made of bamboo core making it extremely soft against your skin and super duper absorbent. My baby uses bamboo nappies and I always thought he is so lucky to have something so cushy against his bits. Now I know how good it actually feels!!

Nora’s are known for it’s stay dry technology and stain proof quality and I have to say, after three cycles they still look as pearly as new.

Performance

In terms of performance, they get five stars from me. Not only are they soft but also leak proof. The outer PUL protects the clothing from getting wet and the leak proof edges prevents blood from seeping out.

The Nora Maxi and Bloom Mighty were the perfect team for the first day and night which is when my flow is the heaviest.

And Midi and Mini have performed excellently paired with my menstruation cup on long hikes and walks where there was no access to private toilet or cleaning facility. These pads successfully held any leaks from the overflowing cups and kept me dry and comfortable enough to finish my journey.

Life changer

One thing that I love about cloth pad is the fact that I don’t get any rashes. Disposables have the quality of drying out the skin which often left me with a rash. So not only did I have to go through the cycle (which in itself is an inconvenience) but also suffer in agony days after my period was over.

Washing

As a cloth nappy mama, it was no science for me know how this stuff worked, but for noobs I would recommended atleast three washes (no soap required) before use. This helps with the absorbency. You will see the absorbency improve with use.

After use, wash the blood off with cold tap water and put it either in your laundry basket or in the bathroom bag by Bloom and Nora, which is perfect to keep all the soiled pads together.

When ready, wash it on 40 degrees with a non-bio detergent. No need to tumble dry. Honestly, these pads dry in a flash and tumble drying may not damage the pads right away but will take away a few years of performance from it.

Price

Each one of the pads are less than a tenner and you will need about 10 to 12 pads each cycle. Less if you wash them more regularly. So a £100 for the next 5 years seems like a reasonable investment. That is less than £1.80 a month towards your period.

Conclusion

After having used both Bloom and Nora Pads, my favourites have to the bamboo Bloom pads. It felt the softest and most comfortable against my skin and felt light but sturdy. Nora had no performance issue but my skin was not necessary always happy with it. I felt the urge to change more frequently with Nora than in Blooms.

Also absolutely loved the poppers unlike the sticky wings of the disposables (often tore my knickers). They held the pads in place for hours and the wings were wide enough to prevent leaks but slim enough for comfort.

I also prefer Bloom for it’s colours, they suit my personality bold and bright.

Bloom and Nora is inspired by the daredevil feminist Amelia Bloomer who once said, “When you find a burden in belief or apparel, cast it off”

Disposable pads put a lot of burden on our environment and health, I think it is time we cast it off too. What do you think??

 

 

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Baby Led Weaning – A New Parenting Flavour

Annaprashon – first taste of food

Introducing solids to our babies is one of the most exciting experiences in anybody’s parenting journey. It is also the babies first step towards achieving independence in terms of feeding himself. And whilst for years, spoon feeding and puree foods were the go to options, the tides have changed and now we have a new style of feeding called Baby Led Weaning.

Baby Led Weaning is a method by which babies are expected to play with their food and feed themselves. They are given the freedom to eat whatever they want from the table and decide how much or how little they want to eat. This method is now known for helping children develop a positive association with food and hence, help raise children who are not picky or fussy with food.

RoRo’s Journey

I have chosen a rather easy going parenting style with RoRo. I have also never had any children of my own before, so I had a fresh clean parenting slate and I wanted to go with the new style. So RoRo, in my care practiced a lot of baby led weaning and I do give this method a lot of credit for his eating skills from very early on and how fuss free he has been so far. At age two, I can take him to any restaurant and not panic. He will eat what is on the plate and he behaves relatively well for his age. Partly nature, partly nurture!

My husband, on the other hand, has two older children and when they were little, he practiced the bog standard old fashioned method of feeding and well they have turned out good eaters too. So my husband was pretty convinced in his spoon feeding method. Hence, over the weekends or whenever he was home, he would request me to puree his food and insist on spoon feeding him. I grudgingly let it happen, as a lot of bonding took place and to be honest, RoRo didn’t mind. I think he is a bit of a foodie from birth.

So the lesson learnt from his journey is that whilst I vouch for Baby Led Weaning and today, my husband would also agree that it is the way forward, no matter how bloody scary it is to see your baby gagg (only to realise it is a reflex that is important to develop) at times, there is no need to be a purist. I hand fed the older children from age 4 to 7 years, they have perfectly developed cutlery skills, table manners and eating habits.

Baby Led Weaning or BLW has a lot of benefits and it would be a shame to not make the most of it, but traditional methods does help bond if nothing, when done right (i.e no force feeding or feeding in disguise like puree).

Food Before One Is For Fun

I was told this by my friend and it stayed with me forever. And before we as parents even start thinking about introducing solids to our children we must remember that babies do not have to eat big meals or half of what is on offer to fill up their bellies or to get the appropriate nutrition. It is highly recommended that babies get their nutrition and fill themselves up on milk (breastmilk preferrably).

Please try to enjoy the process of introducing new flavours, textures and colours of food to your baby in the first year than worry about how fussy they seem. If you put up with the so called fussyness now, you are likely to get less fussiness when the baby grows up.

Oh, and be prepared for the mess! You might have to wash them three times a day. I would highly recommend getting a dog who can hoover up the floor and lick the food off the legs of the chairs and tables. Just kidding! (not really)

Choking Hazards

One of the biggest concerns with blw is chokind hazard. So whilst this method is relatively hands off compared to the traditional method. Parents are still suggested to cut the food into tiny pieces or into very large pieces. BLW does not cause any more choking than spoon feeding.

The rule of thumb is to make sure that the food is either smaller or larger than a pound coin but as I always say use your instinct. So foods like grapes or cherry tomatoes will need cutting into halves before offering it to your baby.

Anything small will pass through the airways and come out the other end. I remember being surprised by RoRo eating a cherry with the pip in. He ate the flesh around it and he knew that the pip was not to be swallowed. This was at age one I think. So as time passes with blw you will know your child’s abilities and you will feed him food by judging his skills level.

It is also important to note that blw should be introduced only when the child is ready. The signs include sitting up unassisted, being able to hold the head up without help, being able to reach out and grab things and being able to do the whole hand to mouth thing. All these skills develop around 6 months of age, in some cases it may take longer.

Iron

Iron is another thing most parents worry about a lot especially with BLW. Now triple that pressure when feeding your child a vegan diet. There is a myth going around about protein, iron etc or lack of it in vegan diet. Let’s not even go there.

Anyhow, if breastfeeding on demand, you should not worry about iron in your baby at all. And formula’s are fortified so there we go. I am not sure why is there so much of a muchness.

If not breastfeeding, make sure your baby consumes food rich in iron. You would be surprised how easy it is to feed iron rich food to kids.

Food source: brown rice, tomatoes, collard greens, kale, tofu, legumes, lentils, ), quinoa, oatmeal etc.

Just eating food rich in iron will not do. One must consume enough vitamin c daily inorder to absorb iron. Just one orange a day will cover your daily intake of vitamin c. It is that easy! Also, if in doubt, supplement.

Trying Street Food In India

Feed Whatever You Are Eating

The benefit of this method is that you do not have to cook or prepare separate meals for the baby. And please do not tell me making purees only takes a minute. Sure! And please also do not tell me how you puree everything you are eating, so basically it is the same as blw. Feeding a child a homogeneous mush does not appeal to me and I am sure it does not appeal to most babies either. They eat it because there is no other option, they don’t know any better or they simply spit it out and end up fussy. Sorry if I sound judgemental. If I can’t eat what I give to my child, I simply won’t give it to my child. I think that is cruel.

Anyhow, in the early days I remember cooking baby friendly meals for the family. So we ate a lot of roasted vegetables cut up lengthwise, thick soups, stews, dal, beans, couscous and rice etc. The food became more and more complicated as he grew older and we became more confident. But I never cooked him a separate meal. Not that I can recollect.

Eating Together

This method also encourages families to eat together. Monkey see monkey do. So the idea is if your babies watched you eat nicely at the table, they are likely to imitate you. So this is a good opportunity to get those table manners, cutlery skills and table talk practiced and polished.

I do not eat with my kids, because my kids eat at 6pm and that is way to early for me. But I always sit down at the table with all my three kids with a cup of tea. Babies learn a lot and a lot quicker from their siblings. But over the weekends, we eat together no matter what time. It not only develops positive association and great bond  between family members, it also teaches babies how to share as they watch us pass the food around, eat off each others plates (ofcourse we all do that, no?) etc.

It is recommended that one uses a high chair to make meals times less messy and so the baby can reach the food easily. But a parents lap works equally well. We progressed from a bumbo chair with a tray to highchairs to now just a regular chair.

Healthy Opportunity

Babies do learn a lot from watching us. And because blw encourages eating together, babies are likely to pick up on bad eating habits from us. Hence, this blw is a good opportunity to get back on the healthy diet plan and boycotting the naughty junk food culture. Eat a bowl of salad or drink some smoothies instead of a milkshake or a bag of chips. The baby is watching. He may not be ready to share that bowl of salad yet but trust me, he is watching and eagerly waiting to try it when he is ready.

Food Ideas

It is recommended that we must introdube one or two food at a time and only introduce new food every 3 to 5 days but I’d say go with your instinct. We like variety and RoRo grew up on that.

. always offer fresh water with your every meal

. do not give babies juice or squash until they are atleast a year old.

. No dairy, honey or whole nuts.

. cook spinach and other leafy veg, remove peels from apples as they can get stuck and cause discomfort.

. don’t shy away from bold and spicy flavours but do not make anything extra hot. If you want a spice loving child, introduce the flavour gradually.

6 months to 8 months

RoRo was always offered a piece of fruit, dates, avocados or roasted veggies, hummus etc as his standard meal. But we always let him have a taste of whatever that we were eating too (if something was too spicy, we would still let him have a lick from our finger). For instance, aloo bhaaji (potato curry), or indian breakfasts like poha, sabudana or aloo parathas etc.

At this age, they are just so pleased to be given this opportunity to eat that they don’t care whether you are eating with them or not and if what you are eating is different from theirs. They are using this opportunity for sensory explosion.  They are developing fine motor skills ( picking up green peas), and gross motor skills like reaching the food and bringing it to the mouth or even oral motor skills, chewing and then deciding whether to swallow or to spit.

8 to 10 months

This is an interesting age. At this age, they can almost express happiness at the sight of the food that they are familar with or like. They also start to develop the skills to use a straw or drink from a cup. I gave RoRo straw at around this age. He couldn’t do much initially but they are clever little things, he started using the straw like a pro by the time he was 9 months old. This is when I introduced green smoothies to him.

This is also the age where their spoon to month skills also start to look more purposeful. So go all out with the yogurht pots, bowls of soup or porridge or cereal. It is messy and little to no food may go into the tummy, but a lot of other learning is taking place, so encourage that.

Dal and rice, sushi, steamed veggies, nut butter and toast, cooked or uncooked tofu etc go down very well. We also started offering him a variety of beans and legumes and pulses. He devoured them. Chickpeas being his favourite.

10 to 12 months:

This is the age of cooked food. As vegans, we always have fresh uncooked fruits and veggies on offer and we eat them throughout the day. Up until 10 months, RoRo would be satisfied with just those but now he was interested in cooked food more. We actually started eating good portions of his cooked food be it fried mushrooms for breakfast or scrambled tofu, fried rice or naked burgers for lunch or beans curry and rice for dinner.

1 years and up:

He would eat everthing at this age apart from nuts. We offered nuts in energy balls made with dates. It was around 20 months we realised RoRo could eat whole nuts. And this may be too early for some children so I would watch out and use parental judgement and instincts.

Tips for Spoon Feeding

As mentioned earlier, We aren’t purists and so we have helped RoRo a few times by feeding him. But when I say feeding, we don’t mean we kept shoving spoonfuls in his mouth and depositing food in the top half of his mouth and wiping the excess from around his mouth with the spoon.

We offered a spoonful a few inches away from his mouth whilst asking him gently if he’d like to eat it, we then either waited for a cue from him, i.e, a forward lean of the head or hands reaching out for the spoon and as he grew older, we’d let him grab the spoon and bring it to his mouth all on his own. And we always respected the fact that if he is not opening his mouth, he is not hungry. Period! There was no silly aeroplanes or televisions or birds in the sky to trick him into eating.

RoRo Now

Now RoRo is a total foodie. He will eat anything on offer and is open to trying new things. He loves spicy and savoury food items. His favourite flavour happens to be tangy. He will sit and suck on a whole lemon quite merrily.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make A Green Smoothie That Kids Would Love

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We have been making green smoothies since the past two years. I come from a culture where a lot of delicious meals were cooked. There was hardly ever a green salad involved except the occasional cucumber slices . Having come to England, and being convinced by my husband the benefits of eating raw veggies especially greens, we have been consuming a lot of salads. I have to be honest that gulping down bowls and bowls of salad is not easy for me. I do it, (to set an example for the kids) but it is not necessarily my favourite way of getting those greens into my system. Let’s talk green smoothies!!

Since going vegan, the need for greens into my diet has become more pronounced than ever before. Everybody needs greens but once you go vegan you actually start thinking about your health and start watching your diet (if you are the conscious kind). Kids today need greens more than ever before with all the toxic substances and pollutants that are ingested into our system through various sources especially food.

Green smoothies are a great way to detoxify our system. Collard greens and kale actually have the quality of removing toxins from our body whilst adding a ton of nutrients into our system. So yes, let’s feed our kids those greens!

My baby is now 23 months and has been consuming green smoothies since he started solids really. He absolutely loves smoothies along with my big kids who are 11 and 10 years of age. I am lucky I have three beautiful, healthy and absolutely fuss free kids who would even drink a brown smoothie easily. But I do get asked a lot about how to introduce green smoothies to kids who would run a mile from anything that is green.

Let me give you a recipe for our go to green smoothie first:

Ingredients: (I don’t measure so please use your instincts)

two handfuls of spinach/kale/collards

2 – 3 bananas

1 mango or a cup of diced pineapples

1/2 inch of ginger (optional)

some spirulina or wheatgrass powder (optional)

juice of a lemon

Coconut Milk and Water (one or the other or both, adjust quantity according to the consistency)

Method:

Whack it all in the blender and boom! It is no rocket science to be honest.

Here are some tips that might help you along on your journey to green smoothies

1. Start Early And Practice Before Your Preach

As mentioned above, I started my baby on green smoothies when he was as little over 8 months old. He watched me consume green smoothies since birth and when he started solids, he obviously was eager to try everything he saw us consume. So when he could successfully drink from a cup or was enthusiastic about using a straw, I started giving him green smoothies. Hence, the love for smoothies persists.

But one can introduce green smoothies at any point in their children’s diet. I would recommend introducing it into your own diet first. Keep drinking it regularly and talk about your experience in terms of flavour, health and how good you feel. Share the excitement of how you are looking forward to your green smoothie etc. And offer some to your kids. They may say No but that should not stop you from drinking yours. They will come around.

When my daughter fussed about mushroom in her diet, that didn’t stop me from cooking mushroom stroganoff?! I always asked her to have a little bit just for my sake and then eat whatever else she preferred. After months of this, she now successfully can eat a meal of mushroom stroganoff with no alternative available.

2.Colour is key

Kids like anything bright in colour. Now green is quite often a likeable colour amongst kids. The trick to get bright green colour is to use fresh greens (organic if possible). Adding green powders like wheatgrass or spirulina will help you get a varied variety of green colours from light to dark to bright.

Having said that if you kid is not happy with green. Try adding beetroot and strawberries in their green smoothies. These two ingredients will dye the smoothie red. Now kids like red right?!

3.Ease Them Into It

If your children would drink a yellow smoothie. Make one. Yellow smoothie is completely fruit based including pineapple, bananas and mangoes. Now whilst it is highly recommended that we eat our fruits and not drink, it won’t hurt your kids to enjoy a glass every few days just to enjoy the idea of smoothies. Once they start enjoying it, start experimenting.

“Shall we try making a red one today? (add beets) Shall we make a purple one today? (add a bit of blueberries) and then say let’s try green one?” you get the drift!

4.Flavour

Ok, my green smoothies are not very sweet. My toddler never had very sweet smoothies so he never knew any better. But my older kids had to be eased into enjoying green smoothies without it being too sweet. Watching sugar intake is essential and hence it is recommended that green smoothies have more veggies and less fruits.

But in order to ease your children into the green smoothies I would suggest adding more fruits to begin with and gradually taking some out.

If you kids like tang, add a bit of lemon juice or pineapple so it overpowers the flavour of the greens (which can be a bit bitter)

5.High Speed Blender

This is a must. Green are super fibrous and hence very healthy for us. But the texture is not for everyone. A high speed blender blend things really fine. Also a high speed blender will blend things very quicky therefore, prevent the veg and fruits from oxidising.

6.Texture

Add atleast one or two creamy ingredient like avocado or bananas. This will help make your smoothie nice and creamy and take away the fibrous texture from the greens.

7. Get Them To Help

My kids love helping me out in the kitchen especially my toddler. I get my big kids to chop whilst the little one puts everything into the blender and presses the buttons. I am a huge advocate of letting children help and it’s positive effects on their eating habits. So get those kids to help. Kitchen gets a bit messy but it is worth it.

8. Keep Using Positive Praises

Always praise the children for trying something. Even if they drink just a few sips, praise them for doing so. Always ask them to taste it. And if they refuse it after tasting show them that you trust in their choice. Praise them for trying and if they are a bit older ask them what do they think would make this smoothie better. Try not to be harsh when they refuse to drink it or struggle to finish it off. And just because they refused it or struggled with it does not mean you have to give up. Stay persistent. It will pay off.

 

I hope you find this post helpful. Please let me know through likes and comments. 

Follow me on instagram: @beachwalkmuse

 

Anmol Basic Linen Carrier Review

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Anmol is an India-based brand, known for baby carriers that are not only ergonomic in design but which come in varied colours and prints. It’s founded and run by Rashmee; a Mommy entrepreneur. (You see why I wanted to try her carrier and back her up?! Mommy Power!)
I was gifted two lovely carriers by Anmol, one was a standard SSC, and also a linen one. I love both, but seem to reach for the linen more. Before I pen down the reasons why, I’d like to express my gratitude towards the Anmol team for being ever so sweet and patient with me!

Rashmee Gajra – who is a baby-wearing educator herself – puts a lot of effort into the small details of her carriers; especially when it comes to the structural build: courtesy no doubt of background in architecture! They are comfy, robust and lightweight.

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Let’s talk materials: linen is by far my favourite fabric and I couldn’t have received it at a better time than on a holiday in India! After six long years in chilly England, Mumbai seemed unbearably hot and sweaty. Linen makes cuddles with hot and sticky babies pleasant due to its high absorbency and cool feel. Furthermore, it is so lightweight that even back home in the English winter, I find myself reaching for it. Toddlers are heavy: if I can knock off a few grams of my back by grabbing a lightweight carrier, why wouldn’t I?!

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One other reason why I find myself reaching out for the linen is because of its abrasion resistance. I walk dogs for a living, I have three kids and I homeschool. My carrier is precious to me but it is not necessarily treated very preciously! There have been times when dogs have jumped up and their claws have pulled a thread off my other carriers or kids have used my carriers as a blanket in the park etc. Anmol Linen carrier’s superior durability and sturdiness is what a busy mommy like me need! It has successfully managed to maintain and hold its own, despite the dogs jumping, kids chucking it here and there and general clumsiness one can assume around wild children and dogs.
Structurally speaking, Anmol Linen carrier has a huge body panel, that carries a baby from infancy to 20 kgs. Personally, I wouldn’t have managed to use this carrier from the newborn stage as my baby was smaller at birth it might have been too big. But for bigger newborns this carrier can be easily used with an insert, which is also available on their website or just roll up a towel to make a seat inside the carrier for the baby.

I doubt you would even need to upgrade to toddler carrier if you own one of these. Anmol is a little bit on the bigger side I have noticed compared to some other Indian brands and it can easily be compared to the International leader Tula in terms of the sizing of the body panel. It covers my 22 month old comfortably and the panel still comes all the way up to the back of his neck in a front carry.

The body panel has a sewn in hood which folds up nicely in a built in pouch on the top of the panel. The shoulder straps are not too thick or too thin. It provides for a perfect padding and I, personally have not seen any digging whatsoever. The waistband is also not too wide which is a plus for a petite woman like me. The waistband also expands quite generously, which might be handy for people with a bigger silhouette. The waistband also has a tiny little pouch on its side for keys. I have to admit it is not the most spacious pocket. I cannot even put a standard debit card in there. Just a small key perhaps. But that is the least of my worries!

Anmol Linen Carrier has four basic adjusters. One on the waistband, one on each side of the body panel, one on the back of the shoulder strap and one in the front of the shoulder straps. All of these adjusters help achieve the best personal fit possible. My favourite one has to the Perfect Fit Adjuster (PFA) on the shoulder harness in the front . It is perfect for breastfeeding your baby. Simply loosen up the body panel slightly by adjusting the straps on the side of the panel, then loosen up PFA voila! You are good to go.

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The hood is secured in the pouch with velcro which is easily taken out for some privacy whilst breastfeeding or coverage from harsh sunlight or wind or even spitting rain! Trust me, in England we can get all of those things within a matter of an hour, so a hood is an essential part of my baby carriers. The hood has a paracord that secures on to the hook on the shoulder harness pretty easily. It helps the baby’s head from falling back when they are fast asleep especially in a back carry.

Like its standard SSC, Anmol Linen SSC also provides a wide seat with knee padding for extra comfort to the child. It is so ergonomic with its deep seat and knee-to-knee positioning. Since we are talking about ergonomics, let me assure you that your back and shoulders will be thankful just as the brand promises. I walk in the woods and marshes for least 2 hours each day and I wear RoRo for more or less 4 hours on a daily basis.
I have a terrible back problem and my shoulders hurt from a simply activity such as carrying a heaving backpack but the Anmol Carriers never cause me any pain. It has an impeccable quality of distributing the weight of my baby evenly on my waist, back and shoulders. Linen especially feels comfortable and much more breathable.

Another favourite feature of mine is the safety buckle on the waistband. I have not seen many international brands carry this feature either. The buckle basically is secured with an elastic band but also has an extra locking system. In order to release the buckle you have to press an extra button. It is to prevent any accidental unlocking which can – trust me – happen with other slings. So it may take time to unbuckle yourself and you do need two hands to do it, which can be a bit annoying, it is totally worth the effort though.

What Would I change about the carrier?
I am personally very pleased with this product but having said that I wouldn’t mind if the adjuster attached to the sides of the body panel could be tightened by pulling away from the wearers body, rather than pulling back, it would make adjusting easier and we might achieve a tighter fit. The pulling back feature puts a lot of stress on the wrist. This obviously is not an issue when wearing the baby on the back. But in the front carry, the adjuster can become an issue to some.

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Final Verdict:
All of Anmol’s products are Fairtrade, made with the highest standards, dyed with child – friendly colours and handwoven. Each piece is unique in itself. It is five out of five for me! It easily compares to the top international leaders like Tula for sizing and comfort or the very ergonomic German brand Manduca for its safety features.

Pricing is also very, very reasonable at around £77 plus shipping; which let’s be honest is less than many top brands sold second hand. Let’s also not forget to mention the one-to-one customer service Rashmee, the founder provides. She is available on Instagram, Facebook, via email or even a telephone call away. She has never disappointed me with her after care. So why not support a brand that is helping a small community of artisans who are handcrafting a product that your baby and you will be spending hours wearing?

 

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Cookies

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“This is by far, as tasty a cookie (if not more) as your non – vegan ones”, my non – vegan husband. Now that’s a compliment because it is NOT always easy to get a 100% approval from non –  vegans!

These cookies have aquafaba in them and I think that made a huge difference. Aquafaba iz the liquid from a tin of chickpeas.

If you soak dry chickpeas overnight, don’t throw away the golden liquid.

Aquafaba is by far the best natural and cheap egg replacer. I used a non vEgan recipe for my cookies but simply replaced eggs with aquafaba.

Aquafaba can stay in a clean air tight or sealed glass jar for a week or so in the fridge.

Measuring it is fairly simple too.

3 tablespoon aquafaba = 1 egg

It takes a good 15 minutes to beat the aquafaba to fluff up just like a beaten egg. So be patient. It does come together. Good luck.

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Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup cacao powder(or cocoa)

1 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown/white)

1/2 – 1 cup pumpkin seeds (or nuts)

2 tablespoons margarine (or 1/2 cup of oil)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda (not powder)

6 tablespoons aquafaba

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Half a bar of vegan dark chocolate, chopped ( I used bournville)

Method:

In a saucepan, using an electric whisk blend in the butter and sugar. Now add aquafaba little bit at a time. Keep whisking until the mixture is fluffy. Don’t worry if it’s a bit runny. It will still work. But give it a good go first.

Now add all the other ingredients apart from the flour and seeds. Blend it all in.

Next add the seeds and flour. Using a wooden spatula or spoon combine the ingredients.

Once combine, refrigerate for 30 mins. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

After half an hour, spoon the cookie dough onto your baking tray. Either lay reusable baking sheet or grease the tray first.

Pop them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. They should be still soft when you take them out. Leave them on the train for a minute before you transfer them on a rack. It will crisp up as it cools.

Viola!

 

Play Shifu Augmented Reality Game Review

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It was Christmas Eve and the house was smelling of mince pies, the log fire was sprinkled with frankincense and the grownups were busy with their last minute Christmas shopping.

Adding to the Christmas mood was a nicely wrapped pre-Christmas present sent to us by the lovely people at Play Shifu. (A Secret Santa of sorts).

Play Shifu is an augmented reality (AR) game for children between two and seven years old. Baby Ro is only 20 months old and my bigger kids are above nine years old now. Having said that, the safari park game kit sent to us attracted all three equally.

The Play Shifu safari park kit came in a box. The box contained 60 animal cards, a handy travel bag for the cards and a stand for your phone or tablet.

AR is really taking off at the moment, and to think that toddlers as young as two can now use this new technology to learn is mind-blowing for me.

So once you download the app on your phone and activate the game (with the code provided on the inside of the box), you are ready to rock and roll.

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It is pretty simple and user friendly. You simply have to put the phone on the stand and place the animal card in front of the phone camera. As soon as the phone detects the card, you see a 3D animated version of the animal on your phone screen. You can see the animal in it’s own habitat, you can see what sound it makes and what it eats. You can always use your touch screen to get a 360 degree visual of the animal too.

We have been using this game for about three weeks now and it is still a popular one in the house. All three come running downstairs when I offer them to help little Ro’s play with it.

The two positives for me of the game are:

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Bonding:

I like how it brings all my three children together and sit and do an activity together. You can hear them squeak, roar and giggle together and engage not only through technology but with each other.

Education:

It may seem silly but my older children were fascinated by some of the animals and to have found their habitat. Little Ro is learning names of different animals and birds and the sounds of the animals. That said, 60 cards can get a bit overwhelming, so the trick I reckon is to take out only a few cards at a time. This way the game will be less overwhelming and more interesting.

A few questions spring to mind though. Is it bringing us close to nature or towards technology?

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I am a bit sceptical about screen times and over-exposure of young minds to too much technology. There’s a lot of research out there about the negative impact of too much time on smartphones as well

Augmented reality when applied well like Play Shifu has great potential for educational purposes. There are still many advancements to come I am sure, but even at it’s current stage it is a pretty nifty technology in hand.

My only worry or criticism is the captivating effect augmented reality brings. Having an animal-shaped toy or visiting an animal sanctuary or reading about various animals from books teach the kids exactly the same things that AR games do. But unlike AR games they do not make the child directly associate the animal with a phone or a tablet.

The first few days when I took the cards out for Ro Ro, just to play with or to use as memory cards/flashcards, he kept asking for the phone as if these animals make no sense without the app. This to me is a huge negative. Over time I have almost weaned him off this association. And now we travel with just the cards and talk to him about the animals. We have also limited his time on app to once a week. It is working but it took a while.

 

Technology is at our disposable. It has the power to backfire, but there is a lot of learning for us as a parent to do in terms of using it to our benefit. Technology in small doses, paired with a lot of old-fashioned activities like making dens and playing imaginary games, actual cards games, colouring, long walks in the woods, making sand castles, reading books etc. can be a huge resource towards educating the future generation.

Just make sure that you augment your augmented reality, with, well; reality!

Seed Crackers Recipe – Vegan

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At 20 months, my toddler has started enjoying toasted seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds. He also enjoys eating a good amount of crisps. So incorporating healthy seeds into a crisp seemed natural and way forward.

These crisps are perfect for playdates,  picnics or a party. They are great with hummus or any other spread of your choice. Full of fats and antioxidants, feed them to their toddlers and yourselves if you can.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of linseed

1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup of Chia seeds

Salt and pepper (2 pinches)

Sufficient water

Method:

Mix all the indregients in a bowl and let it sit for an hour or so until all the Chia seeds have turned into a jelly like texture. You can use flax instead of Chia seeds or both and any choice of seeds for that matter.

Spread the mixture in a well oiled baking tray and flatten the mixture with a knife. Pop the tray in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 20 mins or until brown on one side. Remove and flip it over and cook for another 20 mins or until crispy.

Voila!