Introducing our son, Ayan! (And my birth story for Baby #2)

Hi Everyone!

I’m thrilled to share that our baby boy, Ayan Ellison Shah, was born on Tuesday, August 1st at 5:45am. He weighed in at 6lbs 11oz, is 20.5 inches long, and has a head full of black hair, just like his sister when she was born! 🙂

Ayan’s birth was dramatically different from Layla’s birth, in the best way possible.

I had a c-section scheduled for August 2nd, but Ayan decided to come a little early 🙂 I lost my mucous plug and started having contractions on Monday, July 31st around 10:30am. But my contractions weren’t intense at all, they were 20-45 min apart and I could still do things, talk, etc. through them. I called triage but they told me that I had to wait until I was in somewhat active labor (contractions between 5-10 min apart lasting 60 seconds each), so I anxiously waited for that to happen, knowing I didn’t want a VBAC and I didn’t want to go through labor all over again.

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In the meantime, the husband and I enjoyed our last day with Layla as just the three of us: we took her to ice cream, took some last family photos, and spent time outside — and I was having contractions the whole time (ha!)

Finally around midnight, my contractions began to get stronger, and by 3am I knew I was in active labor. The husband and I headed to the hospital, hoping that I’d be able to ask for a c-section when I got there. At the hospital, the midwife confirmed I was in active labor: 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. Hooray! We moved towards a c-section right away. Given that it had taken me all day (already 17 hours to get to 4cm), I didn’t have any reason to think that Ayan was going to be delivered vaginally faster and more easily than Layla was. Which made the decision to ask for a c-section easy!

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I also had talked to my doctor about performing a “gentle” c-section — which essentially incorporates all of the elements of a vaginal birth possible, while still having the baby delivered surgically. For anyone having a c-section, I’d highly recommend advocating for the gentle version – it’s night and day different than a traditional c-section in the following ways:

1) You get to pick your own music in the operating room

2) The drape is clear, so you and your partner can see everything (all of the good stuff, none of the gross stuff), and your head is elevated slightly

3) They pull the baby out super slowly and let the baby hang a little bit while they cut the cord, so that you can see the entire baby being born through the clear drape just as if he or she was born vaginally

4) Your baby comes to you directly for skin to skin — no going to the warmer at all!

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The gentle c-section for us was an absolutely incredible experience. It really felt like I got the things I missed with Layla’s birth. We got to the hospital at 4am on August 1st, and Ayan was born at 5:45am – it was so fast and easy I couldn’t believe it. Ayan was on my skin for a good 40 minutes until it was time to go to recovery, and then all they did was wipe him off (while he was still on me) and wrap him up for the husband to hold while we walked to the recovery area. Then I nursed him for the first time in recovery.

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Leading up to Ayan’s birth, I was really anxious about going into labor early because I wasn’t sure what that would look like and whether I’d be able to get the birth I wanted. The last week before my scheduled c-section date was definitely stressful. And when I had early contractions on Monday, my first thought was “damn it. ” But once we got to the hospital and they confirmed I was in active labor, I was able to advocate for my needs and get the gentle c-section I wanted.

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Once that happened I felt: in control, elated, joyful, relaxed, happy, fulfilled and I felt like Ayan’s birth erased some of the trauma from Layla’s birth. It’s like I got a “do-over.” Because I had a c-section before, I knew exactly what to expect with the recovery, so that didn’t feel scary or uncertain at all. A vaginal birth had more “unknowns” for me than a c-section did, and I’m so glad I didn’t try for a VBAC on the off-chance it failed and I ended up in a similar situation as Layla’s birth 30 hours later.

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It’s only been 5 days since Ayan was born, but we are all adjusting to our new family-of-four status incredibly well. Post-partum hasn’t been as emotional or as hard as it was after Layla was born, because I have nothing but warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Ayan’s birth. I feel grateful that I was able to get a birth experience that I wanted and envisioned the second time around.

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Ayan is the cutest little guy, super chill, and a good nurser so far (thankfully!) Layla has adjusted to her new role as big sister seamlessly, and she is doing quite well with Ayan. She loves caring for him, hugging him, and brings him toys constantly. It’s adorable to watch!

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When Layla came to meet Ayan at the hospital for the first time, it was really moving. I had never seen her demonstrate such maturity, sensitivity, genuine care, and selflessness towards anything like that before. It was so sweet to watch, and it really felt like our family was complete. I still tear up (with happy tears!) just thinking about how much love was in the room in that visit.

birth story

While we are going through some of the typical newborn adjustments: e.g. Layla has a hard time when she wants us to do something for her but we have to tend to Ayan’s needs, or the fact that newborns eat all the time so we are tired! The rest has been so easy compared to our time at home after Layla’s birth.

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I feel tired, but happy and whole. Recovery is a pain, but nothing compared to what I went through last time. In every way, this experience has been easier and better than the last and I couldn’t be happier about that. We even were able to make it out for a family dinner to our favorite Italian restaurant on August 5th — just 4 days after Ayan was born! Ayan slept the whole time and we had a really delicious dinner with Layla. Score!

Chocolate Tahini Energy Balls – The Picky Eater

chocolate tahini energy balls

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since having our second child, it’s that cooking every night is totally not happening right now! Theoretically I could probably cook every night, but in an effort to streamline my life right now I’ve begun cooking a triple batch once every 3 days (and we just eat the same thing for 3 days). Not ideal, but better and healthier than take out every night!

So in an effort to keep things interesting in the kitchen, I’ve started experimenting with quick and easy, grab-and-go snack recipes. Layla loves to help “cook” and these types of recipes are great for getting her involved in the kitchen!

This recipe was inspired by my friends at Pepperwood Organics, the makers of the most delicious Organic Whole Tahini I have ever had! Tahini is a great alternative to nut butter – it has the same nutritional bang-for-your buck (2 tbsp has 190 calories, 5g fiber, 0g sugar and 8g protein), and is full of healthy fats. Pepperwood Organics Tahini has just one ingredient: whole sesame seeds – which is why I love it.

And tahini is the star of these delicious energy balls. They’re perfectly sweet and feel decadent, but are only 150 calories with less than 5g sugar per serving! They are also vegan and gluten free – but you wouldn’t know it from how good they taste. These energy balls are the perfect, healthy sweet treat at the end of a long day – kid-friendly and mom-approved!

Chocolate Tahini Energy Balls

Makes 12 Energy Balls. Nutritional Info Per Ball: 147 Calories, 10.6g Fat (2.1g Saturated), 27mg Sodium, 11.8g Carbs, 2.2g Fiber, 4.5g Sugar, 3.2g Protein

Ingredients

  • ½ cup organic whole tahini
  • 2 tbsp organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Âľ cup quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup chopped organic walnuts
  • A pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
  • ÂĽ tsp organic vanilla extract
  • ÂĽ cup organic 70% mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix the tahini, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla well, then add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  2. Wet your hands so that they are slightly damp, and scoop 2 or 3 tablespoons of the dough into your palm to form into a balls or a cookie shape.
  3. Place balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350° F for 10 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Chocolate Tahini Energy Balls

Recipe by: The Picky Eater, pickyeaterblog.com

What’s The Best Organic Formula For Your Baby?

Note: I update this post monthly to ensure that all of the information below is recent and accurate! Read on to find the best organic formula for your baby!
Desktop4We’ve all heard the advice: “Breast is best.” Exclusively breastfeed until your baby is 1 year old. Nurse on demand. Formula is “poison.” For a few moms, that advice is easy to follow: they had a natural birth, had so much milk they could donate it, breastfeeding was pain-free, and their baby latched effortlessly. And while I wish it were that easy, unfortunately for many moms, it’s not.

Breastfeeding is HARD. Not hard as in “oh this is hard I don’t feel like doing it,” but hard as in: my baby won’t latch; I have low milk supply; my baby isn’t gaining weight; I physically can’t breastfeed because I have a health condition; my nipples are sore/bleeding/cracked/blistered; I’m in excruciating pain; I have no place to pump at work; I have mastitis; I’ve seen x# of lactation consultants and I’m still having problems nursing; etc.

Since I’ve had Layla, I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from new moms about breastfeeding, baby food, and what formulas – if any – are safe and healthy for their little ones. For me, nursing was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging parts of new motherhood. Many of the early days ended in tears over it. But because I had a decent supply (and I knew many moms who didn’t have enough/any milk at all), I decided to stick with it. It was difficult and challenging every day, but I nursed and pumped for the first 6 months, started weaning around 6.5 months and fully weaned by 7.5/8 months. There was no way I was going to make it to a year, and I was ok with that.

I know a lot of moms feel guilt over weaning early, or not being able to breastfeed as much a they’d like – but honestly, whatever makes you a better, happier mom is what you should do. If you love breastfeeding, great! But if you need to supplement or switch to formula, that’s ok too. The most important thing is the love you give to your baby, and that you and your baby are happy and healthy.

And so, since I knew I was going to need formula for Layla once I weaned, I did a ton of research trying to find the healthiest formula on the market today, and ended up finding a wonderful, healthy formula that I felt good about giving Layla (more on that in a sec!)

Disclaimers before we start:

** Organic formulas are more expensive than regular formula. I realize that not every parent has the financial means to buy organic formula for their little ones, and that is ok! If you don’t have the means, just do what you can for your baby. No judgments here.

** Not every baby likes every formula. Some formulas constipate some babies. Again, if you try the formulas I recommend and they don’t work for your baby – that’s ok too!

** I am advocating a world of no judgments when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding. All you can do as a mom is your best. Whether you breastfeed for a year, or 6 months or 1 month, or 0 months doesn’t make you a better or worse mother. A happy healthy mom and happy healthy baby is all that matters.

Now – here it is: a breakdown of all of the organic baby formulas on the market, and which ones are the best. 

What I learned in my research is that the US doesn’t have very strict standards when it comes to organic baby formula. Ingredients that really shouldn’t be in baby formula appear all the time in many organic brands.

The ingredients that shouldn’t appear in organic formula (as outlined by the National Organic Standards Board and are banned in the EU) include:

1) Processed Refined Sugars (Syrup, Syrup Solids) – corn syrup (glucose syrup solids), maltodextrin (a partially hydrolyzed starch derived from corn, rice, or potatoes), sugar, or brown rice syrup. Manufacturers use these because they are cheaper than lactose (which is what should be in formula).

2) Synthetic DHA and ARA – DHA and ARA are naturally found in breastmilk, but the DHA and ARA added to formula are extracted from algae and fungus, often using hexane (a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent). The National Organic Standards Board has guidelines against this, but the USDA still allows it in organic formulas sold in the US. The issue of hexane in formula is a complicated one — and I have more details about that below!

3) Synthetic Preservatives – ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene are the common ones here.

4) Synthetic Nutrients – this includes lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine. These are banned in formulas in the EU, but are allowed in the US (go figure). I won’t go into details on each nutrient listed above, but essentially – many are processed with neurotoxic solvents or are either themselves listed as a toxic ingredient.

Note: Palm Oil is in most formulas (EU & US), but it can form “soaps” in the baby’s intestines – which can cause digestive issues/gas/etc.

Unfortunately, almost every single formula in the US market has one or more of these ingredients included. Even the EU formulas have Palm Oil (but they have less of it than the US formulas, and so it doesn’t cause digestive issues). That being said, organic formula is still better than conventional formula – because at least organic formula is made with non-GMO ingredients and the cows producing the milk are hormone free.

So what’s a mom to do? Order your formula online from the EU if you can! Hipp Organic and Holle are the two best infant formulas out there. 

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Hipp Organic, Lebenswert, and Holle Organic are three brands from the EU that have wonderful ingredient lists for their formulas. HiPP is the best, in my opinion and Lebenswert is a close second. I used HiPP for Layla, and it worked great for us.

For HiPP: You can see the ingredients here, For Lebenswert: you can see the ingredients here, and For Holle: you can see the ingredients here.

To buy either HiPP, Lebenswert, or Holle online, I have found a couple online retailers who are either based in the US or ship to the US in a reliable and safe manner!

My top three online retailers for European baby formula are: Organic Start, Organic Baby Food, and MyOrganicFormula.

Organic Start is an amazing, reliable, reputable, online retailer based in the US who has fast & FREE shipping! I have spoken with Peter, the owner of Organic Start, multiple times over the past year and after researching him and his business thoroughly, I feel confident in recommending Organic Start as a resource for purchasing HiPP, Lebenswert, and Holle in the US. Peter is a father of triplets who is passionate about making the best European formulas available in the US. Organic Start also sells Topfer, Goat Milk Formula, Anti-Reflux, and Hypoallergenic Formula. After working with Peter over the past couple years, I can confidently say that formulas purchased from Organic Start are safe, authentic, and reliable. Note: If you’re looking to buy HiPP UK, HiPP Dutch, HiPP Germany, Holle, Lebenswert or Holle Goat Formula in BULK (with a bulk discount!) I highly recommend Organic Start Wholesale. (The wholesale arm of Organic Start).

Organic Baby Food is another reputable, online retailer based in the EU who has fast shipping to the US! They sell HiPP, Lebenswert, and Holle, along with Hypoallergenic formula and Goat’s Milk formula. They have reasonable prices, reliable shipping (within 1-3 business days!), amazing customer support and I have been in contact with the owner personally. In addition to baby formula they also have a variety of organic cereals and snacks for babies from HiPP/Holle/Leb, as well as a line of baby care products (shampoo, lotion, calendula) that are gentle and free of any synthetic ingredients so they are perfect for babies! They are also giving readers of The Picky Eater a 10% off coupon code at checkout – just use the code: PICKY and you will get the discount!

One other great retailer based in the US for HiPP, Holle, and Lebenswert is: MyOrganicFormula. For babies with allergies, MyOrganicFormula has a list of allergy-friendly formulas, they have Goat’s Milk formula, and they also sell BabyLove (see update at the bottom of this post).

Here is a chart of the organic baby formulas out there, outlining which have the ingredients above. The chart is ranked from best to worst formula. At the top of the chart I’ve included a hypothetical line for the “ideal” formula – so you have something to measure all of the other formulas against.

Note: I update this post frequently – this chart is as of December 2017. All updates are listed in detail (by date) below the chart as well! 

The Bottom Line:

** There is no perfect formula, but some are still much better than others.

** Baby’s Only with Whey is probably the best in the US (that you can buy at your local grocery store)

** If you can afford it, shipping your formula from Europe is the absolute best way to go, and HiPP or Lebenswert are the best formulas out there!

** Regarding Hexane-extracted DHA and ARA, I have gotten confirmation that both HiPP and Topfer use hexane-extracted DHA/ARA – but they both claim that 100% of the hexane is removed after extraction and it is not detectable in their formulas. Given that these are European formulas and the guidelines in Europe are much more stringent than the US guidelines, I’m inclined to believe them.

** Regarding GrassFed and PureBliss – they are not organic formulas, but they are non GMO and antibiotic free, and their ingredients list is relatively clean, which is why I have added them at the bottom here as they are available in the US and are better than all of the non-organic formulas available in the US today. More details on how they can be non GMO and grass fed but NOT organic are below in the 4/6/17 Update!

More Info on Hexane Extracted DHA/ARA in Formula:

I spoke with an expert who has her BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, who worked in an organic chemistry lab for 2 years and worked with many solvents used in extractions, compound purification, and analysis, and then went on to get an MS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is extremely knowledgable when it comes to hexane and extraction methods, so I asked her for her thoughts on how concerned we should be about hexane-extracted DHA/ARA in formula. Here is the summary: 

  • Hexane is often used as extraction solvent for extracting fats. This is because it has a low boiling point when compared to most fats, which makes it easy to get rid of post-extraction – leaving the fat behind.
  • To get rid of Hexane, chemists use a large apparatus called a “rotary vap” that gets rid of the solvents and you end up with a pure powder substance (usually a chemical compound). The next step is to check the purity of the compound using a machine called an NMR or MS, which tells you whether you have any of your solvent left.
  • This woman told me that she never, ever found an issue with having hexane still present after drying her sample.
  • Since formulas are a powder, they are heated to the point of water removal, and therefore the hexane should be all gone. It is unlikely that hexane is left in properly treated formula, but you are placing trust in the formula and manufacturing industry that all formula is being properly prepared.
  • Note: All oils that don’t have a cold-pressed process are extracted using hexane – this includes corn oil, soy oil, vegetable oil, etc. (unless otherwise specified on the bottle). Hexane is also used during the development process for drugs – many drugs are purified in a hexane solvent and then it is dried off. So if you are going to question hexane, you need to be aware of the other areas where it is used in our regular food and drug supply!
  • When it comes to being concerned about hexane vs. other questionable ingredients in organic formulas – maltodextrin, soy oil, etc., I’d be more concerned about maltodextrin vs. hexane extracted DHA. This is because maltodextrin’s glycemic index is much higher than table sugar and I personally believe a lot of issues today come from sugar and inflammation, and even when hexane is used it should be gone by the time the formula is packaged.
  • Unfortunately, there is no formula out there that doesn’t have at least one of the “offending” ingredients I have listed above! For me personally, I would choose hexane-extracted DHA over maltodextrin or soy oil for example. This is because soy oil is also extracted using hexane, and maltodextrin has an extremely high glycemic index. In addition, formulas that contain soy oil or maltodextrin are 100% guaranteed to contain these ingredients, versus hexane which is likely not traceable in a formula that has used it as a method to extract DHA/ARA before the formula has been prepared!

Detailed Updates by Date Below!

Update as of 3/15/15: The Honest Company just came out with an Organic Baby Formula – that, in my opinion, is now the best option for an Organic formula made in the US. The first two ingredients in the formula are similar to HiPP (Organic Non Fat Milk, Organic Lactose) — but then the third ingredient is “Organic Glucose Syrup Solids,” which is not great but still better than Baby’s Only (which has “brown rice syrup” as the first ingredient). The Honest Co. formula is still not better than Holle or HiPP, but is better than all of the other US formulas out there.

Update as of 5/25/15: Baby’s Only just came out with a Whey Protein Formula that now is probably the best option for an Organic formula in the US. Nutritionally, it seems much better than the original Baby’s Only formula with brown rice syrup. Some things to note: 1) It looks like the nucleotides in this formula aren’t added synthetically – that Baby’s Only just discloses that all milk proteins have naturally occurring nucleotides – in which case that seems ok. 2) They do have organic soybean oil and soy lecithin in their formula 3) They don’t have palm oil (like HiPP does) in the formula or glucose syrup solids (like the Honest Company’s formula) which is great. This makes Baby’s Only with Whey a pretty great option – and might be the best option in the US since it doesn’t have glucose syrup solids like the Honest Company’s formula does. Between HiPP, Holle and Baby’s Only with Whey, it’s a bit of a toss up between whether you’d rather have soybean oil or palm oil in your baby’s formula. I might still go with Hipp or Holle first, and then Baby’s Only with Whey Protein, and then the Honest Company’s formula in the US. Note: Holle also has a new formula called Lebenswert – which doesn’t have maltodextrin (for stage 1; it does for stage 2/3).

Update as of 3/31/16: Plum Organics just released a formula which is a great option for Organic formula in the US! It doesn’t have any syrup solids (yay!) and it has a combination of 4 oils (coconut and high oleic sunflower – which are great; and palm/soybean oil – not as great). Between Plum Organics and Baby’s Only with Whey – I think they are both great options for a formula you can purchase in the US. Baby’s Only with Whey might be slightly better because they don’t have palm oil, but honestly I’d say they are pretty comparable.

Update as of 4/30/16: Honest Co. is being sued because their formula contains Taurine and other ingredients that really shouldn’t be in organic formula. The problem is, those ingredients are considered OK by the FDA and the same ingredients are in many of the organic formulas available in the US (like Earth’s Best and Baby’s Only with Brown Rice Syrup)! That’s why I recommend the European formulas over any formula in the US – the EU formulas have the cleanest list of ingredients by far. I hope the FDA changes their standards on what ingredients are considered acceptable for organic formulas – depending on how the suit turns out I’ll update this list accordingly!

Update as of 6/21/16: I just found out about a German formula available in the US called “BabyLove“. The ingredients look great, are really in line with HiPP and Holle – and are a great option for your baby! The only ingredient on their list that I’m not sure about is “sweet whey powder” – I’m not sure if that is lactose, or if that’s added sugars. The company claims that their formula has no added sugars, but I haven’t found any more information than that. Either way, the rest of the ingredients look pretty comparable to HiPP or Holle so I’m adding it as a #3 option for your little one!

Update as of 7/23/16: HiPP UK has changed its ingredients for its Stage 2 formulas (they now include soy). BUT – the Dutch version of HiPP still has high quality ingredients and no soy. Also, a new formula called Topfer just came out, and their ingredients are very comparable to HiPP or Holle Leb! I’d definitely recommend their formula!

Update as of 11/4/16: Earth’s Best has recently changed the ingredients in their formula — they no longer use syrup solids as the sugar! Now they use lactose. That’s definitely an improvement! They have FOS (which is a prebiotic sourced from sucrose – so it’s not bad), and they still have palm oil, taurine, etc. on their ingredients list but getting rid of the syrup solids is a big plus.

Update as of 1/10/17: Regarding hexane extracted DHA in formula – this is what I’ve found to be true: Baby’s Only with Whey Protein has confirmed that the DHA in their formula is NOT extracted using hexane. As for the DHA in HiPP, their company statement says: “HiPP Infant milks use natural sources of DHA and ARA, derived from fish oils.” Also, MyOrganicMunchkin has certified that “HiPP does not use chemicals like hexane anywhere in their formula making process.”

Update as of 4/6/17: There are a few new formulas coming out (or that have just come out!) Happy Baby in the US, PureBliss by Similac, and GrassFed by Munchkin. HappyBaby is a decent option in the US – I’d rank it after Regular Holle (the chart above is updated!). GrassFed and PureBliss both have decent ingredients (the only “offending” ingredients are Soy Oil and Taurine) but they are not certified organic. Both say that their formulas are made with 100% Grass Fed Cow Milk, have no antibiotics and are non GMO – but they are not organic. This is likely because in some capacity, >5% of their ingredients by mass were not sourced-organic. Also, you can feed cows grass that has been sprayed with non-organic pesticides and it’s still considered “grass fed” but it wouldn’t be considered organic. They mention that the cows are GMO, rBGH and antibiotic free, but do not address the grass itself, so that might be another reason why it’s not organic. I have kept them on the list at the bottom because their ingredients are pretty good (you can read about GrassFed’s ingredients here), and are better than some of the other formulas in the US that are on the market today, but they can’t be considered “organic formulas.”

Update as of 7/1/17: Many of you have asked me questions about the FDA’s recent crackdown on US-based sellers of European formula. This is happening because the FDA does not allow sellers to buy formula in Europe and sell it here in the US under a US business name. The formula has to come directly from Europe. It is 100% legal to order formula from Europe for personal use. If your order is less than $800, you will not be charged duty. It’s important to use reputable sites who know international shipping declarations so that your package of formula doesn’t encounter problems when arriving in the US! That’s why I highly recommend Organic Start (or Organic Start Wholesale), Organic Baby Food, and MyOrganicFormula, because they are familiar with these declarations and will get your formula to you without any delays or issues.

The Ranking As of April 2017:

#1 | HiPP (prefer the Dutch version of HiPP) or Lebenswert

#2 | Baby’s Only with Whey Protein

#3 | Topfer or BabyLove or GrassFed or Regular Holle

#4 | Happy Baby or Plum Organics

#5 | Earth’s Best

#6 | Baby’s Only with Brown Rice Syrup

… and then the rest of the list!

Sweet Potato Curry with Chickpeas

sweet potato curry

It is FRIGID temperatures in Ann Arbor this week. Like below freezing all day long. The high today was 20 degrees, the low was in the negatives. That’s a high of 7 degrees below freezing (if you’re looking at the Celsius scale!) It’s that type of cold that makes it really really hard to get out of bed in the morning. That’s because even though our house has amazing insulation it is still freezing when we come downstairs – since we keep the heat on upstairs but turn it off downstairs when we go to bed.

I literally spent about 90 minutes sitting directly in front of our fireplace with the kids this morning before I started getting ready for the day.

I could probably write this entire post about how much I hate the cold.

I know, I know, I have chosen to live here. And I love living here, I do. And I actually don’t mind the winter when it’s like 30-40 degrees. But gees, weather. C’mon.

ANYWAY — this stew made me feel a lot better about the wintery weather outside.

It’s a warm, spicy, sweet potato curry that is packed with detoxifying nutrients (perfect post-holidays). It is one of those “dump meals” – where you can just throw everything into one pot and let the deliciousness happen.

It doesn’t even require a ton of spices to build flavor. Garlic, ginger, salt, and curry powder do the trick. But you have to get the right curry powder – and by that I mean the best curry powder I have found on the market today. It’s Simply Organic Curry Powder, and it is SO good. Just a couple tbsp of that one spice makes this dish taste like it’s been building flavors all day long. This curry powder has the perfect balance of warm spices, sweet spices and a little bit of heat – I love it!

I hope this recipe warms you and your family up on a cold day, like it did for us. My daughter loved this recipe and ate it for dinner for 3 days straight!

 

Sweet Potato Curry with Chickpeas

Makes 8 Servings. Nutritional Info Per Serving: 250 Calories, 5.4g Fat (2.6g Saturated), 793.8mg Sodium, 44.8g Carbs, 9.3g Fiber, 8g Sugar (0g Added Sugar), 9.2g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 6oz box of baby spinach or baby kale
  • 2 15oz cans of chickpeas
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 5 celery sticks, diced
  • 7 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 heaping tbsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 30oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can light coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, carrots, celery and bell peppers. Sauté for 8 minutes, stirring often until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, corn, spinach/baby kale, and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the rest of your ingredients.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.

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Sweet Potato Curry with Chickpeas

Recipe by: The Picky Eater, pickyeaterblog.com

Can Probiotics Help With Digestive Problems?

Probiotics have become incredibly popular in the last few years as people realize the benefits they can provide. One of the most well researched benefits of these products involves the digestive system – namely diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and constipation. Here’s some information on how probiotics can help with these problems.

 

Diarrhea

There are a lot of different types of diarrhea, and this problem can strike anyone at any time. While there are several causes, one of the most common is the use of antibiotics. These drugs not only kill harmful bacteria that cause a wide range of diseases, they also kill beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Among the more common complications of antibiotic use are cramping, gas, and, yes, diarrhea. Probiotics are designed to replenish the supply of good bacteria so that they can perform their main function, which is to keep bad bacteria from thriving in the gut.

Probiotics have been proven to help reduce the symptoms resulting from antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The Lactobacillus strain of beneficial bacteria is particularly effective.1

Another common form of diarrhea is known as “Montezuma’s revenge,” or traveler’s diarrhea. It typically strikes people who go to another country and get sick after eating a local dish or drinking the local water. While research is somewhat mixed when it comes to how effective probiotics are at limiting the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea, there are studies that indicate Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum may help.2

In some instances, diarrhea can be so severe that it could actually be fatal. An extremely harmful bacterium known as C. difficile is typically to blame. Studies indicate that Lactobacillus bacteria can keep C. difficile from being able to enter the gastrointestinal tract and doing damage.3

But just because probiotics can help fight diarrhea, that doesn’t mean you can just pop a capsule and assume you’ll be automatically protected from complications. You still have to take the right precautions, such as drinking plenty of fluids to make sure you don’t become dehydrated due to a diarrhea attack.

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a particularly nasty digestive issue that can make you have to rush to the bathroom – usually at the most embarrassing times, such as when you’re in a business meeting or having a meal with friends or family members. IBS not only leads to diarrhea, but also severe abdominal pain and bloating. These are a few of the beneficial bacteria that may help reduce symptoms.

 

  • Lactobacillus plantarum – L. plantarum has been extensively researched specifically for its potential effect on IBS. In one study, over 200 patients suffering from IBS were divided into two groups. One group received L. plantarum for a month, while the other half received a placebo. The treatment group reported substantial reductions in bloating and abdominal pain, as well as frequency of bowel movements.4
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum – Italian researchers studied 120 IBS sufferers who participated in a month-long trial. Again, half of them received a probiotic supplement (in this case, B. bifidum) while the other half received a placebo. Nearly 60 percent of patients in the treatment group reported improvement of several symptoms, including feelings of urgency in having to go to the bathroom. A little more than 20 percent of those in the placebo group reported improvements.5
  • Bifidobacterium infantis – An Irish study focused on the effect that B. infantis may have on women suffering from IBS. Researchers gave different doses of the prebiotic to 362 study participants. Results varied, but doses containing 100,000,000 colony-forming units (CFUs) of B. infantis resulted in a substantial reduction in symptoms.6

 

Constipation

This is one of the most frustrating digestive problems, and it is very common. More than one in 10 adults in the U.S. alone experience this issue each year, and Americans spend about $750 million trying to treat it.7

British researchers set about studying whether or not probiotics can be effective in relieving the symptoms of constipation. They looked at 14 studies that involved clinical trials on people suffering from the condition that included probiotic supplements and placebos.8

The researchers found that probiotics not only helped increase the number of bowel movements, but also helped to soften stools so that they more easily passed through the intestines. It appeared, according to the results, that supplements containing Bifidobacterium bacteria were most effective.9

 

Taking Probiotics for Digestive Issues

It’s important to note that no one has definitively stated that probiotics can be used to treat any sort of digestive issue. The evidence only shows that they may be able to help with certain problems.

If you are thinking of taking probiotics, you need to speak with your doctor first. This is especially the case if you have any type of serious intestinal disease or an illness that has resulted in a compromised immune system. There have been some instances where people have experienced complications. However, if you are in generally good health, probiotics are considered to be safe. Probiotic use can sometimes result in minor side effects, such as a bit of gas or bloating.

Probiotics come in several forms of supplements, including drinks, powders, capsules, and chewable products. They are also found in several types of foods, such as sourdough bread, yogurt, sauerkraut, and others. If you choose to purchase a supplement, you need to make sure that the labeling says something to the effect of “viable until expiration date,” because that means the chances are good that the bacteria contained in each dose will be alive when you take it.

If, on the other hand, the label says, “viable at time of manufacture,” there’s no guarantee the microbes will be active. If they’re not, then you’ll only be wasting money because the bacteria will not be alive. Do a little research before you make your purchase, and the chances are good that you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

 

Sources:

1http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.904.1374&rep=rep1&type=pdf

2http://www.travelmedicinejournal.com/article/S1477-8939(05)00091-8/abstract

3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23728658

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22912552

5http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04633.x/full

6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16863564

7http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-may-ease-constipation-201408217377

8 http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-may-ease-constipation-201408217377

9http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2014/08/06/ajcn.114.089151.abstract

A Probiotics Guide to Beneficial Bacteria

If you’re interested in taking a probiotic supplement such as a powder, capsule or a drink, you probably already know that supplements are filled with microbes that help to ensure there’s a proper balance between good and bad bacteria in the digestive system. Here’s a probiotics guide that provides information on some of the more specific strains that you will typically find in these products.

 

What are Probiotic Bacteria?

The digestive system, more specifically the gastrointestinal tract, or “gut,” contains trillions of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are harmful, leading to the development of several serious diseases. But a lot of them are actually good for us because they keep the bad ones from thriving to the point that they make us sick on a continual basis.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining how many beneficial bacteria we have in our system. One of the most common is the use of antibiotics. These powerful medications eradicate bad bacteria, but they kill good ones as well. Probiotics are designed to help boost the number of beneficial bacteria so that balance can be restored to the gut.

Manufacturers put a lot of different types, or “strains,” of bacteria in the probiotics they sell. This probiotics guide will spell out some of the strains that are commonly found in supplements. Look for these strains on the labels of products you are thinking of buying.

 

Lactobacillus Bacteria

This family of bacteria contains several different strains, and is typically included in most probiotics products. Lactobacillus is the predominant type of bacteria found in the gut, and is largely responsible for producing an enzyme known as lactase, which helps the body break down the lactose found in milk and other dairy products. Lactobacillus also plays a role in producing lactic acid, a substance that helps inhibit the formation of many kinds of harmful bacteria. Here are just a few of the different Lactobacillus strains.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – Many experts consider L. acidophilus to be the most important – and most beneficial – Lactobacillus strain. It typically colonizes, or proliferates, within the small intestine, helping to strengthen the intestinal wall, as well as aiding in the absorption of nutrients.1 Studies have shown that L. acidophilus can help reduce the symptoms of some forms of diarrhea and also help strengthen the immune system.2,3
  • Lactobacillus fermentum – L. fermentum is found naturally in foods such as kimchi as well as sourdough, but is another staple of probiotic supplements. It also helps neutralize harmful bacteria in the gut by producing antioxidants.4
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – L. plantarum helps produce hydrogen peroxide, which is another substance the body uses to defend itself against bad bacteria and other pathogenic microbes. Studies show that it can also help boost the immune system.5
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – This strain is known for its toughness – specifically, its ability to survive the difficult trek through the gastrointestinal tract. Acids in this area of the body can kill many types of bacteria, but typically not L. rhamnosus. This is another probiotic that can help protect the body from developing certain types of diarrhea.6
  • Lactobacillus gasseri – L. gasseri is most closely associated with vaginal health. In one study, researchers found that women who experienced vaginal discomfort on a regular basis had lower levels of L. gasseri, while those who did not experience discomfort had normal levels.7

 

 

Bifidobacterium Bacteria

This is another family of bacteria that mostly resides in the intestines, but unlike Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium is typically found in the large intestine, rather than the small intestine. It also produces lactic acid and helps strengthen the intestinal wall. In addition, it also helps the body absorb nutrients such as copper, iron, zinc, and many others. These are a few Bifidobacterium strains commonly found in probiotic products.

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum – B. bifidum is one of the first bacterial strains we start to develop as babies, and eventually, it becomes one of the most populous strains found in the gut. It helps inhibit the growth of harmful pathogens and aids the digestive process by breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It is specifically helpful in preventing traveller’s diarrhea, according to studies.8
  • Bifidobacterium longum – The B. longum bacterial strain also helps break down carbs and neutralize toxins in the gut. It performs the added function of helping to strengthen the immune system. One study involving elderly subjects showed that B. longum continued to aid in the improvement of immune system functioning for several weeks after stopping the use of probiotic supplements.9
  • Bifidobacterium infantis – B. infantis is more prevalent in the infancy stage and starts to gradually decline as we get older. Supplementation with B. infantis has been shown to help relieve constipation as well as bloating.10

 

Bacillus Bacteria

The Bacillus bacteria in the gut also produce lactic acid, and are also resistant to stomach acid and heat. As a result, Bacillus can thrive in the digestive system. The B. coagulans strain is associated with the digestion of lactose as well as helping the body properly utilize minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus.

 

Streptococcus Bacteria

Most people may associate the Streptococcus family of bacteria with the S. pyogenes strain that causes “strep throat,” but there are beneficial strains as well. For example, S. salivarius K 12, which is primarily found in the oral cavity, helps reduce the frequency of sore throats.11 It has also been associated with a reduction in bad breath, as well as the accumulation of dental plaque. 12,13

Hopefully, this probiotics guide will help you become a better-educated consumer when you’re shopping around for probiotic products. Look closely at the labeling of any products you are thinking of purchasing to make sure they contain these beneficial bacteria. Also, make sure you speak with your doctor before using any sort of probiotic supplement. While they are thought to be safe for people in overall good health, they could cause problems for people suffering from severe illnesses, or those with a compromised immune system.

 

Sources:

1http://aem.asm.org/content/74/16/4985.full

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21992955

3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24985014

5http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0011199

6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18813028

7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC120688/

8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17298915

9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20460726

10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288092/

11https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3516470/

12https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16553730

13http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/777316_4

Vitapulse – The Perfect Health Supplement For Your Nutrition Deficiency

VitaPulse is a product manufactured by Princeton Nutrients for your nutritional supplement needs. This unique product improves the health of the consumer. Eating a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis is not enough if you wish to achieve better health standards- this explains why Vitapulse health supplement is necessary. It contains several health ingredients that aid in the proper development of cells, fighting free radicals to improve cardiovascular health; making it the perfect health supplement for your nutritional deficiency. 

Why is Vitapulse the best nutritional health supplement?  

There are thousands of advertisements on the web promoting different nutritional products and supplements. However, not all supplements deliver the effects claimed on the advertisement. As a consumer, you need to do extensive research on the product to understand their chemical composition and effects on your body cells. One of the factors that make this dietary supplement outstanding is that it does not have filler ingredients, as in other similar health products.  

The manufacturer, Princeton Nutrients Company, does not exaggerate information on the properties and effects of the supplement. Most medications claim to heal almost all health conditions in the body.  

What is in VitaPulse Health Supplement? 

A single capsule contains: 
 
100 mg of CoQ10 
250 mg of NAC (N-acetylcysteine)  
10 mg of PQQ 

VitaPulse is a unique antioxidant and vitamin formula that supports heart health and the circulatory system in general. The supplement is an advanced blend of three main ingredients CoQ10, NAC, and PQQ. The VitaPulse capsules also contain gluten free and vegan ingredients such as rice flour, hypromellose (vegetable capsule), magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide.  

A quick glance at the customer reviews section of the VitaPulse company website shows ubiquitous 5-star ratings for this product. Generally, the product has positive impacts on the overall body health. It has proved beneficial to customers through;  

i. Boosting energy levels. 
ii. Reducing joint and knee pain. 
iii. Regulating blood pressure levels. 
iv. Improving cholesterol levels in the body 
v. Reducing inflammation 
vi. Enhancing sleep. 
vii. It promotes digestive health 
viii. It has anti-stress effects 

An insight into the chemical composition of VitaPulse supplement 

Each of the three key ingredients constituting VitaPulse supplement has a key role in improving the body’s health standards. The all have antioxidant properties- meaning they act as primary compounds that counter the effects of oxidation. Oxidation, a natural chemical process in the body, is the root of most health conditions and illnesses. Smoking and excessive alcohol drinking are factors increase the rate of oxidation, causing major health hazards. 

Oxidation leads to the formation of free radicals; molecules that react with body cells and damage them. The result of free radical damage is several ailments such as heart diseases and strokes. Below are the roles of every element in the supplement.  

i. NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) – It is an antioxidant from certain amino acids whose role is to reduce inflammations and protect body cells from damage. It also prevents apoptosis; a self-destruct mechanism in cells that causes most degenerative problems including cancer and heart health. It also ensures mucus does not accumulate in the respiratory tract, which can cause bronchitis and other lung complications.  

ii. CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q 10) – The sole purpose of this antioxidant is treating heart problems, lowering blood pressure levels and preventing hardening of arteries. 

iii. PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinine Disodium Salt) – It is a vital compound that ensures normal functionality of body cells. It also prevents premature aging of body cells by ensuring the body performs at optimum levels without using excessive energy. 

Recommended Dosage 

The best results of VitaPulse health supplement are realized by taking at least one capsule daily on an empty stomach. Ideally, take the capsule every morning for consistency. However, it is important that you consult a doctor, or any other trusted health professional before using this medication. After taking VitaPulse for a few weeks, you will begin to notice significant changes in your body, and feel more energized. VitaPulse is the ideal supplement for anyone who wishes to improve their health. 

The product package is usually a 3-bottles pack, but the company also provides a 6-bottles pack due to increasing demand for the product. You can place an order for the supplement any time at PrincetonNutrients.com, and your order will be processed instantly. In a case that you are not satisfied with the service, there is a money back guarantee. 

Other Reviews

There are plenty of subjective, personal reviews on sites like WebMD, but if you’re looking for an unbiased, factual reviews of VitaPulse, check out The Supplement Geek very detailed review on the Princeton Nutrients product.

15 Reasons Yoga Is Better Than The Gym

A few persons think it to be a question… yoga or the exercise center — which is better? Is there truly a question in there?

There are about a gazillion ideas a yoga class is suitable. What’s more, here are 15 of them:

 

Yoga benefits the brain, body, and soul. 

Yoga will help condition your body yet while it’s doing that, it additionally helps you to be really at the time and imbues your soul with positive vitality. A rec center exercise is centered principally on enhancing your body’s physical condition.

 

Yoga benefits your full body—remotely and inside. 

The bending, stretching and collapsing of a yoga practice are useful for the stomach related framework, the circulatory framework, the lymph framework and then some. It’s an awesome approach to detox the body and can enhance your cardiovascular framework. It will create more grounded muscles. A rec center exercise is centered just on reinforcing muscles and boosting cardio.

 

Yoga educates acknowledgment. 

Yoga helps you accept you’re immaculate the way you are with your qualities and your shortcomings. It’s actual what they say; yoga is not about self-change, it’s about self-acknowledgment. Exercise center classes, particularly training camp style classes, will probably make them feel like a disappointment on the off chance that you can’t do everything.

 

Yoga is about concentrating on yourself. 

Numerous yoga studios don’t have so you’re compelled to consider where your body is and what each muscle and appendages are doing, though exercise center classes have mirrors for you to see and stress over, what every other person is doing.

 

Yoga will make you lean. 

By stretching your muscles as you’re fortifying them, your body will go up against a more slender appearance. An exercise center exercise loaded with weights will make your muscles beef up.

 

Yoga is more effective 

Yoga depends on your whole body for fortifying. Exercise center classes utilize weights and other gear. Through various asanas, your full body winds up noticeably conditioned and more grounded by utilizing your whole body weight as ‘weights.’ By utilizing just weights or other gear, muscles are separated and must be worked independently to profit, which takes a ton additional time.

 

You can do yoga anyplace. 

Yoga is an alternate involvement in a yoga studio; however, you can without much of a stretch practice yoga at home, outside or in little spaces. All you need is around 6 feet by 4 feet, and you have your yoga studio. A rec center exercise requires greater hardware and more space.

 

Yoga is kinder to the body. 

It does not mean yoga is not exceptional. Simply ask any individual who hones Ashtanga. Yoga constructs warmth and works your muscles, yet you’re doing what your body permits you to do and not endeavoring to lift weights and beat on the joints both of which can bring about harm. Yoga additionally stretches as you travel through the stances and a decent yoga hone expands on itself to set up the body for the following position.

 

Yoga cures a throbbing painfulness. 

A rec center exercise builds them. Yoga gradually stretches muscles and opens the vitality channels of the body. The expanded adaptability keeps muscles and joints greased up and solid. Weights and treadmill can bring about strain which prompts soreness and wounds.

 

Yoga helps you inhale less demanding. 

Amid times of stress, it’s anything but difficult to neglect to inhale—truly inhale, and not simply shallow breaths. Without full breaths, it’s harder to think obviously, and weakness can set in. Yoga concentrates on the breath so that when you require it most, those full breaths are the standard.

 

Yoga is peaceful

We travel through practice with a peaceful, casual expression. No snorting, no dropping weights, no gripped teeth or frowning expressions like you see from exercise center goers. The general expectation is to discharge pressure all through the body and psyche.

 

Yoga diminishes push.

Numerous yoga classes incorporate reflection. It allows you to clear the brain of the worries of the day. With practice, upsetting circumstances can be managed all the more effortlessly, and general anxiety levels diminish. The focused way of an exercise center alongside the noisy music and brilliant lights will probably expand your anxiety.

Everybody can hone yoga. 

 

Regardless of your age or your wellbeing, you can hone yoga. Yoga has even been found to help individuals who have wellbeing sicknesses going from Parkinson’s to a tumor. Rec center exercises, when all is said in done, are not intended to be remedial, or senior-accommodating.

 

Yoga enhances concentration. 

Amid a yoga hone, you concentrate on the breath, the stance, and the look. Outside diversions are blocked out. While you can attempt and do this at the exercise center, this concentration and peace are not supported with the various games around, as boisterous music, TVs, and so on.

 

Yogis shake. 

We’re a glad bundle! Wouldn’t you rather associate with grinning, glad individuals? You’ll get the opportunity to be in a domain where people acknowledge your, and everybody else’s, bends and edges. There’s no discussion of who held what posture longer, no feeling of rivalry. It’s consistently great vibes all around!