Love Grows Brains – Newspaper Article and stuff.co.nz article

My wee family were really stoked to be a case study as part of the “Love grows brains” campaign.

newspaper

My wee family was really stoked to be a part of the “love grows brains” campaign. Being a big science nerd, infant brain development is something I am really interested in and all the research coming out points to love, responsiveness and consistency being the key factors for brain development in those important early years.

My two cents, in a nutshell are that in the first three years of life, an infants brain is literally developed and grown by their experiences – positive or negative experiences.
There is a complex interplay happening between nature and nurture, so between our genes and our experiences. It is like nature plants the seed and nurture waters it.
We start out as babies with a brain 25% the size of an adult brain and by the time we are three, it has grown to 75% the size of an adult brain. During that time, many connections within the brain are formed (or not formed) based on our experiences. There is also a pruning process where connections which are made are retained and those that are not or are infrequently used are lost. Once these connections are lost, they are if not impossible to attain.
Showing love, being responsive and consistent is what grows brains. Babies who are subjected to violence, neglect or abuse sadly have smaller brains than normal as a direct result.

Link here – https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/95647116/nz-highfliers-launch-inspiring-campaign-to-help-parents-shape-a-childs-entire-life–in-the-first-1000-days

 

 

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Blissball Cheesecake – Free from dairy, egg, nut, gluten, wheat and soy!

Choc Cheesecake

 

Looking for a simple cheesecake pie recipe which is suitable for all occasions? I bust this bad boy out for entertaining at brunch (goes with coffee as it does dessert wine), for Christmas day, for birthdays… all the time! It is always a winner.

Fairly certain it is a no fail cake too, my 3 year old can make it (supervised). So feel confident that you will be able to bake one too!!

My children have multiple food allergies and this cake was made so they could eat a cheesecake safely. There is no dairy, no eggs, no nuts, no wheat, no gluten and no soy in the recipe. There is refined sugar from the chocolate itself, no sugar is added.
Need this to be vegan or vegetarian? Sub gelatine for agar agar!

This chocolate berry blissball cheesecake pie (whatever it is) is the easiest cheesecake to make, with the added bonus of having superfood benefits from pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, berries and gelatine! Now you can have your cake and eat it too.

The base is a standard blissball recipe with a little trick in the cooking method to get it to set properly.

It can be made in a muffin tray for cute wee individual desserts, this is a little more fiddly though so just grease it up so they don’t get stuck.

BASE

  • 1 cup dates (medjool dates work better here), soaked in boiling water, then discard water after 10min
  • Two dessert spoons cocoa or cacao
  • Half a cup or more of dessicated or shredded coconut
  • Quarter cup sunflower seeds
  • Quarter cup of pumpkin seeds
  • Two dessert spoons of chia seeds
    NOTE – The quantities of seeds can be mixed, as long as the ratio ends up being half a cup. Alternatively, just use dessicated coconut.

FILLING

  • One 250g block of dairy free dark chocolate. I use whittakers 50% cocoa.
  • 500g full fat coconut cream. I use ayam however kara coconut cream works well too.
  • 4 teaspoons of gelatine.
  • One teaspoon vanilla essance

TOPPING

  • One punnet of strawberries, diced into wee triangles and squares
  • One punnet of blueberries
    NOTE – The topping can be whatever you have on hand, we defrost frozen blueberries in winter. Edible flowers would be lovely on this too!

Choc Cheesecake

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Grease a cake pan
  3. Using a food processor, whizz together the base ingredients
  4. Knuckle into the cake pan, being careful to avoid cracks.
    Top tip: As above, I didn’t have enough base ingredients to completely cover the sides. That is OK, the base only needs to cover the bottom and anymore up the sides is just a bonus. I think it gives a cool effect when some patches are left on the sides.
  5. Fridge for 15 minutes, bake for 15 minutes then fridge again for 15 minutes to set the base.
  6. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate
  7. Add coconut cream and vanilla to the chocolate
  8. Add in 4 teaspoons of gelatine (or quantity as advised on the packet)
  9. Pour the filling into the cake dish, over the base.
    Top tip: If there is more filling than base the is fine, let it drizzle over.
    If there is more base than filling, add another layer using an even darker chocolate or with berry jam/coconut cream/gelatine for a multilayer cake with WOW factor.
  10. Fridge overnight
  11. Serve with berries on top and great company.

Easy as pie!!

Enjoy.

Aleshia Dearlove xxoo

Feeding The Hungry In Auckland

Three people have died in Auckland, New Zealand this winter while sleeping rough overnight. Our housing crisis has escalated to the point where families are sleeping in cars, and people on the street are dying.

I’ll be honest, moving to South Auckland has been a total culture shock for me. Previously living in Central and East Auckland, prior to that the Hibiscus Coast, I didn’t see it aside from those on Queen Street and in social media. In May we bought a house out South and my eyes have been opened, it is so confronting. I feel like homelessness is something that is swept under the rug and forgotten about by the rest of the city.

It is a shame that it takes deaths for people to pay attention but in the same token, maybe now the public will appreciate just how serious the situation is.

I was so shaken by people dying in the same town I live in. When myself and all our neighbours have adequate food and double-glazed windows, “eco-home” shelters, it doesn’t seem right that others are dying. I set about finding out how I could help.

I found an amazing lady named Debbie Munroe who takes it upon herself to feed, clothe and help the people who she refers to as freedom sleepers. She is doing an incredible job in the community. Here is her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/978559512159944/ . I sat my 3yo down today and told him that there are some people who don’t have a house, they sleep outside and get wet in the rain. I explained they don’t have food and we need to help them. He replied “Mum let’s buy them a Monster Truck toy so they can be happy”. I got him to help pack a box and do a little shop. Instead of my Friday bottle of wine tonight, we bought a couple of packets of pasta, tampons, pads, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and tinned food. We packed a box full of towels, blankets, kids clothes, soft toys, jersies, pots, pans, chopping boards. We drove them around to Debbie’s house to drop them off. I kept talking to my children about what we were doing and why. After we dropped off the box my 3yo said, “Mum we are helping. We are superheroes”. I am so happy he is keen to help and can recognize that giving is the right thing to do.

Homeless

I emailed my husband’s workplace and put an appeal out on my insta page for others to donate as well.

Tomorrow there is a march to try to get a building for the homeless. On this note, churches in NZ don’t pay tax. My understanding of why is because, historically, they provide social services. Doesn’t it make sense that they should open their doors to the homeless, seems as they profit in the way of not paying tax? If they refuse to help ‘God’s children’ then they should forfeit their right of not paying tax.

Homeless JPEG

If you can donate, please do. You will be helping others with the necessities of life. No one should have to die in our country like this.

 

 

Toast Inspo

There’s just something about a couple of warm pieces of toast.

You don’t have to give it up to stay healthy, here are a few suggestions to screenshot, download, print or share.

I am always up for a cuppa tea and toast, there is just something comforting about it, how about you?

Toast Inspo JPEG

Enjoy xx

Two Steps to leaving the home with small children (With free dairy, egg and nut free breakfast ideas)

How hard is it to leave the house with small children?

My kids are 1.5 years old and 3.5 years old and leaving the house was something I felt we needed to work on for a long time! It was stressful, there was yelling and stress bombs were flying. So I got my act together.

Before I launch on in, do understand that my fails at leaving the house have been off the charts therefore I am writing from experience and learning! Isn’t it funny how slip ups can be the most stressful thing ever in the intensity of the moment, maybe they make you a bit sweary,  but they make for a hilarious story later on – or at least you fake laugh when your three year old gets to kindy and tells everyone “We were driving here and Mummy forgot my bag and we went home again to get it”, or you hope the teachers don’t notice the supermarket bought packet lunch that day which you got on your way to kindy which made you late, or you turn the house upside down looking for those bloody keys which you swore you wouldn’t let your toddler play with but it was the only thing which worked at the time and now they’re lost. Hahaha sooo funny… but also not funny. At all.

And don’t get me started on hats and shoes.

So I needed to work on creating a better environment for leaving the house with my two kids in the morning. Working in the community with the community, I was not keen to be seen as that always-late Mum because if I was to work with people who knew me from kindy, they would already judge me as slacker. Not a good look! Also, I want my kids to learn it is respectful and polite to be as on time as possible.

These two steps were game changers for leaving on time:

Create a bag/hat/coat/shoe station

20170629_164421.jpg
Yes, I found the kids school bag station idea on Pintrest and it is a game changer.
This is our station in the hallway for an easier morning. As my children are Montessori kids and I am all for fostering their responsibility and independence which this does wonderfully. It works well as everything has it’s space and they can be responsible for putting their shoes, bags, raincoats and hats in one place when they arrive home. The coat hooks here are at child level to create independence. You could do yours at any level you are happy to manage. Since using this, now my 3yo even keeps tabs on the adults in the house if we break the rules, calling me out like “Mummy, you need to put your shoes away”. It has saved so much time and stress and we don’t waste time looking for that other shoe, the raincoat etc. I feel like the bottom could even use sock and shoe cubbies for extra organisation points.

Routine

It sounds simple but creating a routine is the best thing to do to keep morning flowing nicely. When my routine falls apart, my morning falls apart and everything becomes a stressful ball ache.
The secret with why my particular routine works is because I get up before the rest of the house – which sounds stink for me – but honestly, what’s half an hour if it means you and your family are happier for it. The kids generally wake around the same time every day, which varies, but no later than 7am on a weekday or we will be late. I expose them to natural light (curtains pulled back, or outside to greet the day and chat about the weather) to naturally balance the melatonin/serotonin which wakes them up properly (Melatonin and seratonin work in a swing cycle. Melatonin rises which allows for sleep, exposure to natural light in the morning kills melatonin and increases seratonin to wake up naturally and it also helps their cycle for the day which means they will drift off easier at the end of the day, when melatonin dominates seratonin).
My routine is as follows:
4.45am Wake
5am      Bootcamp (with a buddy for accountability)
6am      Home, shower
6.20am Cook Breakfast and make lunches, drink a peaceful coffee, maybe fold some washing (I have literally folded washing once at this time but I’ll claim it lol)
7am      Kids wake, eat breakfast
7.30am Get the two kids dressed in the their room with the door shut to prevent nudie runs and then brush teeth. This takes 30minutes. How does it take so long? I don’t know.
8am  Get everything organised for the day, bags in the car. Tidy up a little.
8.30am Make sure 3yo still has dry undies, offer for him to use the toilet.
8.45am Leave the house.

 

Routine Tips:

  1. I like to have everyone’s breakfast ready before they wake because it kind of rules out negotiations about what the kids want for breakfast. I tell them “this is your breakfast” and guide them to their seats rather than ask what they want and faff about with toast vs smoothie discussions. Make sure the TV is off, eat at the table.
  2. Put your phone away, “just checking one thing” turns into 10minutes lost. Make a mental note to check that important thing after the drop offs, even at the kindy car park after dropping the kids off (I often reply to emails from the kindy car lot while my 1yo eats an apple in the backseat – whatever works, right?).
  3. Groceries. A lot of the morning routine is based around food. I order my groceries via click and collect Countdown. I have a basic shopping list saved, which covers everything the kids need for lunches. This stops me from forgetting anything. I routinely order on a Thursday morning for collection on Thursday afternoon, to fit in with kindy pick ups. This leaves me free to shop for meat, fruit/veg at my leisure with the kids. A bonus is it helps me (immensely) to stick to a budget as there is no online impulse buying and the cost is tallied up as I shop. I can un-select items as needed to keep costs down. I also work part time and study so, like everyone else, I am time poor.

What my children with multiple food allergies eat for breakfast

Both of my children have multiple food allergies. Together, they are allergic to nuts, dairy, egg and fish.

Thankfully that means I don’t have to chef-up salmon eggs benedict (lol imagine that!) however it also rules out eggs and any dairy based product, which can be seen as typical breakfast foods.

 

Breakfast Foods:

Oats

Oats swirl

Oats are versatile and healthy, they cook in 2 min in the microwave or stove top. We eat them with rice milk or almond milk (almonds appear OK for us). These are some topping variations we use, often we also put in chia seeds:
Mashed banana and cinnamon
Mashed banana and cacao/cacao nibs
Berries
Banana and berries
Apple and date
Honey

Smoothies

Berry smoothie

Our smoothies are a combination of the following:

  • Coconut water or rice milk based
  • Thickner: Oats (uncooked)
  • Sweetness: Banana, honey or dates
  • Greens: Spinach or kale
  • Fruit: Berries (frozen or fresh), apples, citrus etc.
  • Seed: Chia seeds, flaxseed, sunflower seed or pumpkin seed
  • Seed butters: sunflower seed butter, almond butter (almonds are tolerated in our house), pumpkin seed butter

Smoothie Bowl for fun (and mess)

Smoothie bowl

Granola/Muesli

Granola

Oats, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, sultana, cinnamon, gogi berries, cacao nibs, coconut threads. Mix together and place on an oven tray 180C/350F for 8 minutes. Pop in a jar, ready to serve with coconut yogurt and mylk.

 

Toast Inspo

Sweet Potat Toast

Toast doesn’t have to be boring. We always do multigrain bread or paleo bread, depending on finances. Sliced sweet potato can also be used as a toast sub (toast for 5-7 min). Use it as an opportunity to add nourishing, real food toppings such as:

  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Mashed veg such as pumpkin with pumpkin seed
  • Nutritional yeast as a cheese sub on coconut oil, margarine (if you eat margarine) or butter
  • Seed butter
  • Layer nut or seed butter with any combination of banana, coconut, tahini
  • Tomato, hummus and salad greens
  • Hummus with pumpkin seeds
  • Strawberries and banana
  • Stir fried tofu with mushroom and garlic
  • Bacon, tomato, avocado
  • Bacon

Sunflower Seed Butt

If it is a special occasion (not a crazy weekday) then I do buckwheat pancakes (pictured below), deconstructed hawaiian pizza is a fave (pictured below) or corn fritters.

Buckwheat Pancakes

Deconstructed hawaiian pizza

Drop your allergy friendly tips and breakfast foods in the comments section below to inpsire others!

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you have learned something useful from my years of figuring it all out.

Much love, Aleshia Dearlove xxoo

Owning Stress

Mumma, please look after yourself.

I know how you work tirelessly, sleeplessly, constantly as a Mum. You are up all night with the baby then the toddler is up at 6am. The true meaning of 24/7. 

 You think your baby has started sleeping through, then they start teething or they are sick or hungry (I have fed my then 2yo steak at 3am while saying to him “Listen buddy, you better be having a growth spurt or I will be so angry!”) How is it that broken sleep is harder after a period of good sleep, you wonder?

When that little three year old hand wakes you up at 3am “because I want to cuddle you Mummy”, you feel angry and loved at the same time.

Getting out the door is a mission. Where did the time go? How has one hour passed already?? How the eff are we late, we were on time a minute ago?? Then your child walks his little muddy boots across the carpet, and you know you have to clean it up immediately, before it stains. You are now 15 min late. Again. Every day. The kindy teachers must think you are so unorganised. 

Sometimes the stress release is screaming into a pillow or crying behind a closed door.

Sometimes it is laughing at the kids, who are deep in conversation about whether Daddy did a poo this morning. “Daddy did a poo” “No, he didn’t. Daddy is asleep” “Daddy did a poo” “No, Mummy did a poo but not Daddy”.

Life is scrambling to tick off the to do list, forgetting that it is PJ day at kindy, reacting to situations and trying to keep up rather than being in control of them. Life is balancing a job, exercise, housework, kids, relationships and half assing all of them. Everyday. On repeat. Motherhood is like swimming while learning how to swim. I get overwhelmed with it, I don’t know about you.

Stress is toxic to the human body. The stress hormone cortisol wrecks havoc on our system. It drains our nutrients, stress activates the Sympathetic nervous system putting us into “flight or fight” mode – when in reality the perceived threat does not require the body to pump extra blood to the limbs and take it away from the digestive system nor does the perceived threat (so this means your own children, or work, or finances, stress triggers) need your pupils to dialate or to pump adrenalin into the system – No, the perceived threat is a signal to you to “check yourself before you wreck yourself”. When you feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious, that should be your signal to say right,  life, today I am owning you. 

A widow I used to work with told me that stress is what killed her husband. She said no job, no amount of money, nothing is worthwhile if it causes prolonged stress. My husband was balancing two kids under two in his managerial position, working what I am sure are illegal overtime hours, and his stress physically manifested itself in the form of scalloped tounge. This was his signal to take care of himself.

Us Mums are so amazing at caring for own children. They are fed with careful thought into their nutrition, we buy supplements, we make DRs appointments for them, we clothe them, we make them laugh, we bath them, fill up their love tanks, we do all we can to give them magical memories while caring for every aspect of their well being. They thrive as a result. So why don’t we treat ourselves with the same love and respect? Don’t we also want to feel happy, loved and as a result thrive? 

Now we have needs, and while it is our job to meet our kids needs, it isn’t our children’s job to meet ours. So keep meeting your kids needs and take every opportunity to meet your own too! Meet a friend for a walk (kids in tow), organise a “whine and a wine” play date with friends, tell your husband to organise date night, buy yourself that nice coat you want, hire help, book in a massage – whatever, be creative and make the time. You would do this for any member of your family, you are just as important as them, so do something.

So today, while I was having a hard day after a hard week after a hard month (but a brilliant, rewarding time, just lots to do all the time, you know how it is #blessed). One kid was at kindy and the other went down for a nap. So I took the opportunity. 


I had myself a warm, Epsom salt and lavender oil bath. 

I made a honey and cinnamon tea and lit a candle. The berry candle by living light candles smells Devine! It is my fave.

I did diaphragmatic breathing and enjoyed the silence. 

Epsom salts are a great way to get magnesium. Perfect for sore muscles post boot camp, for healing and for muscle cramps. They relax the body.

Lavender oil helps with anxiety, insomnia and stress. 

Diaphragmatic breathing is the only voluntary control we have over our nervous system. Your breath is a true tool which communicates with your body all the time eg that it is time to freak out, that you are exercising or that you are calm. Breathing is being in control.

I loved this bath. My 1yo did not wake up during so I got lucky. 

Taking the time to pause and refuel my sanity tank today meant that I was better able to get on with the rest of the day with a smile. Not with a ragey Mum voice and angry face. 

My body is not tense under stress like it was this morning, rather it is like a normal body.

I even managed to shave my legs and put on matching undies when I got out of the bath. So now I feel like I am winning the day when just a couple of hours ago I was sinking under it.

Please, look after yourself Mumma.