Is Probiotic Safe for Babies/Toddler?

You’ve probably heard all the good things about probiotic for adults and then you started wondering if it will benefit your babies and young children as well.  The short answer to this question is YES!  Although the research on safety on probiotics for infants are limited but of all the available research out there, side effects are rarely reported.

What are Probiotic exactly ? Probiotic are the “good bacteria” itself that’s helps with our digestive system and with consumption will enhance the health of the host (a.k.a -human). It may also improve outcome of pregnancy, certain intestinal problem such as irritable bowel problem or antibiotic associated diarrhea.  Probiotic often shows up on food as “live culture” such as yogurt, cheese, kefir, or probiotic drink (such as Yakult). Probiotic also presents in the non-dairy products such as fermented foods – Kimchi, tempeh, miso, natto beans, sauerkraut, Kombucha to name a few.

Of course we don’t anticipate young infants (<6 months of age) to eat all this probiotic foods but guess what ?! Human milk is full of probiotic properties (specifically Bifidobacterium Infantis) that was discovered in the intestinal tract of babies, which is the reason why breastfeeding infant does not get sick as often compared to formula fed babies.

If you are formula feeding your babies, don’t feel guilty. You have done the best you could to provide what you can either first few days, weeks or months of available breast milk to help your baby kick start a better immune system.  There’s also probiotic formula available on the shelf these days, mostly labeled as “Formula for supplementing”.

Also, don’t get confused between prebiotic and probiotic. There’s a big differences.

What are Prebiotic? Prebiotic are non-digestible dietary fibers that fuel the good bacteria in our gut (a.k.a bacteria’s food). The more of prebiotics that we consume, the more gut flora will grow and stays to help keep us healthy.  Prebiotic also helps produces vitamin B, helps with calcium digestion and absorption as well. Good prebiotic sources includes: Artichoke/Jerusalem Artichoke, chicory roots, leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, banana, whole wheat products, scallions, apples and legumes.

Therefore, once your babies reaches the age to introduce solids. Try to introduce as much prebiotic food sources in their diet to help colonize their little gut with the good bacteria and ward off illness as much as possible. When prebiotic and probiotic combined, they are a dynamic pair to keep the digestive system healthy.

I always recommend to get your probiotic sources from food before opting for the pill forms.

 

 

 

Discover Columbia Gorge/Hood River

Sorry if I’ve been slacking.  It’s been awhile since my husband and I got any alone time since the little one was born couple years ago.  So, he took me away for the weekend and I also have been busy at work too. But, I promised I will slowly get back into my grooves to start updating the blog again.

I just wanted to share the scenery and the food I ate on my trip here, just in case you would like to visit the area someday.

Hood River is along the Columbia River Gorge area (Northwest of Oregon) and you get to enjoy the beautiful scenery and lots of outdoor activities to indulge yourself in such as hiking, rock climbing, biking, kayaking, sailing, para-sailing etc.  There’s a lot of family friendly easy to moderate hikes. We did a short Bridal Veil Falls hike and then a longer Multnomah falls hike (45 mins up 620 feet elevation).

 

If you are not an adventurous outdoor person like myself, no worries, you can go and enjoy the food. Which is exactly we did for the most part🙂

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This spicy squid with tomato sauce over the focacia bread was one of my favorite. Restaurant Solstice @ Hood River.
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Local Zion Farm pear on a pizza….delish.
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Shrimp Caesar Salad🙂
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Assorted Local Cheese & Fresh berries with Vegetable ash crackers
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Slow Roast Lamb with Green Beans and Cauliflower.

Also, if you wanted to relax and get a massage. I do recommend to go to Holistic Massage Hood River and the service was great and the massage therapist is good at taking care of your sore spots and work on the trouble areas.

 

Monthly CSA Updates

It’s been more than a month since I joined the CSA and has been very pleased with my weekly produce that I picked out.  Most of the time is the same type of veggies that I eat all the time but I tried to be a little bit adventurous from time to time to pick a vegetables that I’m don’t usually cook at home such as patty pan squash, lemon cucumbers and swiss chard.

I enjoyed all the seasonal produce that are available weekly at the farm stand where I picked up my small share.  They are fresh, delicious and worth the extra money that I paid for instead of sifting through the produce isle in the store.

One surprised thing was that my daughter even know that each week I will bring home the “goodies bag”. As soon she sees the red bag I brought home, she immediately says “Mama…strawberries !” and start digging through the bag.  I enjoyed letting her discover all the produce and using it as a tool to teach her the fruits and vegetables that are healthy for her.

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Week 3: Strawberries, cucumber, patty pan squash, carrots, plums, italian kale, & garlic.      New Menu Item: Roasted patty pan squash & Asian Cucumber Salad
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Week 4: Swiss Chard, Cauliflower, Lemon Cucumber, Strawberries, Plums, Carrots, Zucchini.           New Menu Item: Swiss Chard with spaghetti & meat sauce,  Lemon Cucumber Salad
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Week 5: Italian Kale, Eggplant, Cauliflower, Plums, Strawberries, Zucchini, Basil                 New Menu Item: Basil Eggplant Stir Fry

 

Quick & Easy Blueberry Peach Smoothies

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I love the blueberries season, and enjoy taking my daughter going to the farm and pick out the largest and sweetest blueberries on our own.  I get to teach her where the food comes from, and letting her explore in the blueberries bushes and pick out the raw and ripe berries to taste.

We had a blast and of course ended up with pounds and pounds of blueberries because you just get caught up in the picking process and before you know it, the bucket is full and you have lots more blueberries than you can ever consume. The nice thing is that you can freeze the berries and use it as a snack or make smoothies with whatever combinations you prefers.

We decided to use peach yogurt and the frozen berries this time. Hope you enjoy this combination too !

This recipes makes about 14-16 oz of smoothies (2 servings).

Ingredients:

1 Cup frozen blueberries
5 oz of regular peach yogurt
1 Cup  of milk
*A few fresh blueberries or 1-2 teaspoon of sunflower seeds as topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Just add all ingredients into a blender and mixed it till smooth.
  2. Or, you can use an immersion blender it works just as well.
  3. Top off with a few fresh blueberries or you can add a few sunflower seeds to give it a crunch too.

 

 

Easy Asian Cucumber Salad

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This refreshing cucumber salad is perfect for a hot summer day ! It’s good as a side salad or just as delicious when mixed in with rice.

This recipe serves 2-3 and it is recommended to eat right away before the cucumber becomes soggy. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do. My little tot loves it but my husband only give it a 6 out of 10 as he doesn’t like cucumber dishes in general.

Ingredients:

1 English Cucumber (Julienne or thinly sliced)- Regular cucumber works too.
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
A dash of sesame seeds
Raspberry or Cherry tomatoes for garnish (*optional)

Instructions:

  1. Wash cucumber, peeled off the outer skin then thinly sliced it into matchsticks. If you are using regular cucumber, just deseed the middle part before slicing it.
  2. Mix all the sugar, salt, soy sauce, sesame oil into the sliced cucumber in a chilled bowl, give it a few toss to evenly coat the cucumbers.
  3. Sprinkle with a few toasted sesame seeds and garnish with raspberry or cherry tomatoes.

 

Baked Garlic Parmesan Zucchini

Zucchini is overly abundant in the summer and since I’ve gotten a few from my CSA share last week. I’ve decided to bake it and add a few extra ingredients to style up a little.

Zucchini itself is a low calories vegetable, per one cup chopped only contains about 20 calories. It is also a good source of vitamin C, B6, Riboflavin(B2) and Manganese, these nutrients will help skin integrity and energy productions. So, take advantage of this summer vegetables.

 

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Ingredients:
One medium size zucchini
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
A dash of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko/bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree.
  2. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Use a mixing bowl, add olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper together.
  4. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch thick and toss zucchini into the mixing bowl with the oil mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the seasoning.
  5. Add in panko or bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, evenly coat zucchini in the mixing bowl.
  6. Lay zucchini in baking pan and baked for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Grate additional Parmesan cheese and some orange zest on top as garnish when it is done.

Exploring Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Eating local and practicing sustainability in Oregon has always been at the forefront of their residents.  Organics/whole food groceries and small family farm has bloomed dramatically, particularly in the Eugene/Springfield township that I lived in thanks to the local demand. Farmers market has turned into the hot spots for the locals to hang out and enjoy the local produces/fruits, dairy and pasture during the peak growing season.

I love shopping at farmers market compared to patronizing whole foods stores because I know I’m supporting local business. I enjoyed going to Whole Foods, Market of Choice or Trader’s Joe don’t get me wrong, but their items are overpriced as it is and the items may be organic but it doesn’t necessarily is local. Eating healthy sometimes can be very expensive if you didn’t plan ahead.

So it’s time to go back to basic: eating seasonal and local foods. Foods that are the closest to our home tends to be a little bit environmental friendly as well, therefore, choosing local farmer’s market or joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) makes more sense to me. Since I don’t have the green thumb to grow my own food (friends have laughed at me for this since anything grows in Oregon’s ground), I’ve decided to join CSA to try it out instead. To my surprised, just in our county alone, there’s more than 50 farms that provides CSA services, choosing one definitely is not easy.

I’ve decided to join Food for Lane County youth farm because I liked their objectives to teach limited income teenager about food/nutrition, helping them gain skills about leadership and teamwork. Another plus for joining the youth farm for me was convenience of picking up my own CSA shares right at my work place. Most CSA has full share (feeding 3-4 people), and half shares (feed 2 people) available through the season.

The total half-share for 20 weeks cost me $350, averaging out to be $17.50 per week. Really not a bad deal for fresh, local produce. After two weeks of picking up my CSA box, I noticed that I have minimal waste on  the veggies compared to before that I’ve always had some wilted veggies in my fridge waiting for me to throw away.  It also forces me to be creative in making dishes with those items as well.

If you wanted to learn more about CSA, visit  “IFOAM organic international” website to explore what’s available in your area (North America, Japan and Europe).

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Week 1 Bag: Strawberries, beets, garlic, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, Italian kale.

Menu Created for Week 1: 

  •  Steamed Carrots with Butter
  • Strawberries Lemonade
  • Roasted Beets
  • Sautéed Beets Greens with Garlic
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Sautéed Kale with Chicken
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Week 2 Bag: Strawberries, Bok Choy, Italian Kale, Broccoli, Zucchini, Carrots, Green Onions

Menu Created for Week 2:

  • Strawberries Greek Yogurt Popsicle
  • Beef with Bok Choy
  • Roasted Kale
  • Broccoli & Tofu Stir Fry
  • Roasted Carrots
  • Zucchini & Carrots Soup
  • Garlic & Scallions Chicken

This is quite fun and I will continue to share my weekly finding and what menu item that I come up with. Hope you all can start exploring your local CSA and share your experience with me !

Homemade Infant Formula…What seems best may not be!

We all know breast milk is the best food a mother can provide for your precious newborn. But there’s time when you aren’t able to provide enough breast milk for your infant and formula automatically becomes the next best thing we turns to.  In the past 3 years, homemade infant formula has becoming more popular thanks to parenting website such as wellness mama and celebrity Kritin Cavallari sharing her recipes on magazine and blog post.

It really boggle my mind that 1.27 million hits on google search with homemade formula has come up in less than .5 seconds. This does concern me as a healthcare professional and a mother of a young toddler. I would steer away from making my own homemade formula at all cost. This is because there’s too much variation in homemade formula and the ingredients that they called for might not be the safest for your baby’s tiny body.  I’m certainly not “Pro commercial formula” but when it comes to infant’s health, I’ll stick to what I know is best 1) Breast milk and 2) Commercial Formula.  My recommendation is to stick with Organic or Non-GMO labeled commercially prepared formula if financially able to do so.

Parents often complaints that formula is so horrible because there’s sugar, corn syrup plus a long list of other ingredients that they are unable to pronounce. If they can’t pronounce and don’t know what that is, it must be bad, correct? Answer is no.  I think parents’ need to understand that corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are two different things. One is a natural derivative of sugar from corn (mostly made of glucose), and the latter is a chemically altered to produce fructose from corn syrup.

You will only see corn syrup on the formula that is made for babies with sensitivity as it is easier for the digestive system. Babies need carbohydrate to grow, without it they simply wouldn’t thrive whether the sources is lactose, sugar or corn syrup.   And that the other ingredients listed (most of them are less than 2% of the formula content) are the vitamin and minerals scientific name carefully crafted to suites the needs for newborn to match the content similar to breast milk.

Commercially prepared formula is being monitored by the FDA, USDA and EPA and they have been subjected by thousand of research before to ensure their nutrient adequacy to be served to the most vulnerable populations.

Homemade formula on the other hand looks great in a glance but it carries a lot of hidden danger of food borne illness, nutrient imbalance and other potential health risk to your baby if you are not mixing it correctly.  Just one misstep can send your child into the emergency room.

Here’s the reason why homemade formula might not be the best after all:

Unpasteurized raw cow’s milk/ Raw goat’s milk

Any type of raw food products possess a certain type of risk for food safety. According to Center of Disease Control (CDC), unpasteurized dairy increases a staggering 150x of your baby’s risk of Campylobacter, Listeria, E.Coli infections.  Most dairy product related outbreaks are associated with consuming raw dairy products and children are the most affected populations.  You wouldn’t even drink raw milk when you are pregnant because it can increase your chances of food borne illness and affecting your unborn baby, now why would you want to feed your baby raw milk then? Seriously, think about it.

Here’s a link to the CDC hand out on raw milk statistics.

Raw Liver

This is another food source that can foster bacteria Campylobacter jejuni especially when using it raw. Campylobacter food poisoning can cause damages to your baby’s intestine and can easily leads to bacteremia (bacteria in bloodstream), a serious condition which requires hospitalization and heavy dose of antibiotics.  In rare cases, it can cause Guillian-Bairre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that the body defense mechanism start attacking the healthy cells.

Nutrient Imbalance

I carefully read through some of the most promising homemade formula out there, there’s no nutrient analysis of them anywhere. Only one I read was all the nutrients gathered according to the ingredients from the food database. Please be reminded, data gathered from food database is not a detail nutrient analysis of the formula, nutrient displacement can occur during mixing process.

Another scary discovery was whether it is cow milk based or goat’s milk based homemade formula, both contain excessive calories and protein per serving. To adults, a little higher calories or protein here and there doesn’t hurt but in tiny infant, every single one matters. If the infant doesn’t require extra calories and protein, it will make them gain too much weight too quickly. Excess calories will lead to extra fat accumulation which in turns link to adult obesity later on in life.  Liver based formula on the hand has the right amount of calories, but protein still slighter higher and what was lacking is sodium and calcium, two key nutrients that needed for bone and cell formations.  The extra protein in the homemade formula will put extra stress on their tiny kidney to process and can easily leads to dehydration.

So, if you think you are doing your child a favor, think twice before you jump into the homemade formula bandwagon. Just be aware of the potential risk of giving homemade infant formula, every baby’s body digestive system is different. Homemade formula is definitely not recommended for infant younger than 6 months of age.

Always consult with your child’s pediatrician or meet with a pediatric nutrition specialist to discuss your formula choice/decision. They can help you analyze the formula and let you know if it is safe.

 

Nutrition for Infant 10-12 Months

This is the time when your infant can safely  transition to soft table food if you haven’t already done so. No more making separate meals for your little one and welcome them to dine together with the entire family and start modeling good eating behavior from a young age.  They might not interest in new foods in particular but keep offering and let them explore, it usually takes 8-10 tries of introducing same food item before they start accepting it.

Persistent and interactive fun is the key to coaching healthy eating behavior among children. Don’t skim on the flavor as well.  Children doesn’t have to eat bland or mild tasting food, introduce interesting natural flavor such as  strong vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, onion, garlic, ginger, cabbages), spices (not spicy) and herbs to stimulate their taste bud. They don’t have to like it but by offering and expose them to the flavor profile will do.

10 – 11 Months old 

Baby at this age still requires roughly about 4 feedings (6-8 ounces) of breast milk or formula on a daily basis. The breast milk and formula consist of 50-60% of their daily intake and the remaining is from food.  You can start offering combination meals and doesn’t have to be a single food item by this age anymore.  Peanut butter, fish, eggs are safe to introduce at this time as well if there’s no history of allergies in you or your partner medical history. A schedule 3 meals 2 snacks should be offered daily.

Make sure to keep offering 2-4 ounces of water in a cup during the day as well. If you live in an area that the water is not fluoridated, then make sure to add 0.5 ml drop of fluoride in the water he/she is drinking starting after 6 months of age. Always check with the pediatrician and pediatric dentist to see if your baby need it. Formula fed baby might not require additional fluoridation.

*There has been some controversies regarding the safety of giving fluoride to infant and young children. At this time, American Academy of Pediatric and American Dental Association still recommend fluoride to be given to children in none fluoridated communities. It will be up to individual parent decision whether they would like to use it for their infant.

12 Months old

They can start eating table food without any problem. Still cut round foods into quarters to avoid choking. Cut other foods into small strips for easy holding. Do not serve whole nuts and hard to to chew item as well. By about one year of age, your baby should be able to  self feed themselves (will be messy) with their finger or using spoon/fork. This is part of their development milestone to be able to pick up food and put in their mouth.

Breast milk/ formula still consist about 40-50% of their daily intake (3-4 servings of 6-8 oz milk) and the rest from solid foods. They should be eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.  A easy rule of thumb to remember how much solid food they should be eating is one tablespoon of each food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, meat/meat substitute) per year of a child’s age at each meal. Refer to this How_To_Feed_Baby-English step by step guide if you wanted a more specific serving size.

If you still have ample breast milk supply, please continue to breast feed your baby as long as you desire. And, if you are formula feeding, you can also start switching to whole cow’s milk/ full fat (original) fortified soy milk.  There is now toddler transitioning formula available from Similac (R), and Enfamil (R) if this is something you are interested in. Your child is also supposed to triple his/her birth weight by the time they turn one.

Note: Let your baby be their own guide as to how much they can eat.  Forcing baby to eat the amount of food you think they should can easily back fire and cause food aversion. There’s going to be weeks they don’t have much appetite for food such as teething period. Sometimes they will eat more than the recommended servings and don’t be alarm as well, baby tends to go through short period of growth spurts. As long as they grow accordingly along their growth curve without excessive weight gain or weight loss, there’s nothing much to worry about.

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Tenders

As I mentioned before, my daughter is very selective on the types of meat she eats and this dish has never failed me or her. I like homemade tender because you know exactly what you are using. No fillers, no grounding the meats and just a few simple ingredients you can transform a plain chicken breast to delicious delight the entire family can enjoy.

I’ve tried baking these before but the chicken turns out to be dry. So I decided to stick with pan fry using minimal oil as I could. The chicken breast stays tender, juicy and has a nice bite to it. Hope you like it too!

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Ingredients:
2 chicken breast (~5-6 ounces each)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppers
2 eggs
1 cup panko
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:
1. Cut chicken breast into 1 1/2 inches thick and cut into strips or triangle shape to please the youngsters. Set aside.
2. Mix in salt, peppers and flour together in a big bowl, set aside.
3. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Set aside.
4. Mix grated parmesan cheese with panko in a baking pan.
5. Lightly dust the chicken in the flour mixture, next dip the chicken in the eggs and then evenly coat it with the panko. Continue this step until all chicken is completely coated.
6. Heat up a 10 inch skillet, filled up with cooking oil to about an inch thick (about 1 cup).
7. Once the oil started to glisten, slowly add in the chicken and pan fry 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown under medium heat.

You can add paprika and some cayenne powder to the flour mixture, or once the chicken is done cooking sprinkle some peppers flake over if you like some kick to it.