flax

Strummin' on the Old Banjo

Life is good.

I came across something on Twitter the other day that basically boiled down to 'slow down to recognize all of the wonderful things you already have around you.' Always a good reminder. 
As an aside, my infant is teething. I've been up every hour for two nights and have reached a new level of exhaustion. Or delirium. Or new normal - I'm not sure.  It's hard to notice the wonderful things around you, let alone celebrate them when you're in these kinds of trenches but today I was spending the morning with my son and at some point realized that I was giggling! Loved.That.  

Cooking Banjo Muffins with My Toddler

Cooking Banjo Muffins with My Toddler

My son is regularly this smiley; it makes him a delightful companion. And when it comes to cooking, he scoops and measures with gusto; he pours in cinnamon like there's a present at the bottom of the container; he acts like he's the luckiest guy on earth when he gets to sample the goods along the way. And the best part? He'll often jump off of his "helper chair" in the kitchen and run into the playroom to get a prop and pretend to be the Entertainment Committee, playing his guitar, belting out a song at the top of his lungs. Lately, he's all about being in the kitchen with Dinah, strummin' on the old banjo. And there we were, singing it loud and proud - working on the railroad, fee-fi-fiddly-eye-oh-ing. I felt happy deep in my cells. 

Pretty much everything that I bake, I bake with him. It's all toddler-friendly measuring-pouring-scooping stuff around here. If there are any more complicated steps, I can get those done while he's in the midst of his musical interlude. Anyway, so today he wanted to bake muffins and use our Dora the Explorer cupcake liners. We devised this recipe together, tossing in some beet and apple for color and sweetness. Once cooled, he gobbled one down and declared it "dah-lisheey-ohso!"

Ol' Banjo Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup grated sweet potato (basically one medium sweet potato, peeled and grated)
1/4 cup grated apple (one medium apple, peeled and grated) 
1/4 cup grated beet (one medium beet, peeled and grated) 
1/3 cup coconut sugar (* you can substitute brown sugar) 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oat milk (* you can use whatever milk you'd like... we made this dairy free) 
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Method
Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with liners (this recipe makes 12). In a bowl, mix together all of the dry goods. Add grated veggies and fruit and mix well to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, oat milk, oils and vanilla. The coconut oil may be clumpy so using a whisk is probably best. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Scoop into muffin tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy. 

Omega 3s and Kids. Where and Why?

In general, my family eats a well balanced diet. Whole grains, lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables. But because of my severe food allergies, there are certain foods that are never even brought home, like fish and certain tree nuts. All those health benefits of fish? Unfortunately we don't reap them. Here's the bad news: as it turns out, fish and nuts have really high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, hailed as nutrition superstars. They are said to help the body reduce inflammation (and therefore help with things like heart disease and arthritis), reduce triglycerides, improve brain function and aid things like fatigue and dry skin. And according to Parenting.com, "Low levels of DHA [an Omega 3 fatty acid] in children have been linked to an increased risk of ADHD, vision problems, and depression." Thanks to my allergies, we all have to be more creative to get our fill so we don't fall into a pit of Omega 3-deprived despair! Ugh.

Here's what I've learned: There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids: ALA, DHA and EPA. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is primarily found in plants like nuts, beans, flaxseeds and leafy greens. DHA and EPA are found mostly in cold water fish like salmon and sardines. DHA can also be found in fortified milk, eggs and other dairy. I found this slide show about the top sources of Omega 3s interesting. 
So okay - back to the action plan. For anyone like me who can't have the so-called "best" sources of Omega 3s, you can buy organic eggs with added Omega 3, other dairy fortified with Omega 3. Frankly, I have no clue how Omega 3 can be added to eggs so I need to do more research.  Another option is to include flax, spinach and green leafy vegetables as a regular part of your diet. My husband and I eat loads of leafy greens but beyond the Weelicious Green Monster smoothies, my kids really don't. I've started adding flaxseed meal to almost everything I make for the family (pancake batter, oatmeal, baked goods, cereal, smoothies, salads) but I just read that the best benefits come if you grind them right before using. Man! I'm using these anyway and keeping fingers crossed that we can get at least some of the benefit.  

I grew up on Flintstone's vitamins. Do I need to give my kids a supplement of some sort for them to get the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids? Google "Kids Omega 3s" and a whole host of supplements and vitamins turns up in the results. In truth, I'm hoping that if Omega 3 fatty acids are, in fact, as beneficial as they are touted to be, that scientists figure out some non-fish, non-nut based way to unlock their awesomeness that doesn't involve me manually grinding seeds on a daily basis.