We’re just over halfway through winter and it’s feeling pretty chilly here in Blighty. As we head into the coldest part of the year, I’ve been thinking about ways to sneak vitamins and minerals into my children to ensure they have a head start to stay healthy.

To help fend off the dreaded bugs and to support their immune systems, they’ll be taking their Haliborange supplements every day, as well as eating a varied and nutritious diet. Here are a few extra creative ways I’ll be boosting their immune systems even further.

Why is calcium important and how can we eat more of it?

vitamins and mineralsCalcium is vital for teeth and bone health, especially for growing children whose bodies are achieving peak bone mass. As a family we don’t eat a huge amount of dairy, so I’m always on the hunt for extra ways to get calcium into us all. Did you know that a cup of cooked kale, or a tin of sardines (with bones) contains more calcium than a cup of pasteurised milk? It’s quite fascinating once you start looking into it, check out this article for more info.

Although most of us throw them away, egg shells are an excellent source of calcium. They are mainly calcium carbonate, made up similarly to our bones and teeth. A simple way of preparing the shells is to boil them (to remove bacteria) then roast them in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes, allow to cool and grind to a powder in a blender. When the powder is added to soups and smoothies it’s undetectable. I call that a win!

Why is vitamin D important and how can we eat more of it?

We need vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium, and deficiency in children could lead to bone disorders such as rickets. Unlike many other vitamins and minerals, vitamin D is largely made by our own bodies by converting chemicals it receives from exposure to sunshine. Unfortunately, when you live in a country like the UK, you can’t rely on the sun making an appearance every day, so it’s vital to boost vitamin D where possible. Check out this article for signs of deficiency.     

Red meat, oily fish and eggs are all great sources of vitamin D, as well as certain mushrooms (especially maitake). As long as they’ve been exposed to UV light, these mushrooms are exceptionally high in vitamin D because their skin absorbs it from the light the way human skin does. Even my ridiculously fussy eater Freddy can be persuaded to eat mushrooms that have been sauteed in coconut oil and sea salt from time to time. 

Why is iron important and how can we eat more of it?

vitamins and mineralsIf you don’t have enough iron in your system, your body won’t be able to make enough healthy oxygen carrying red blood cells. This could lead to iron deficiency, also known as anemia, which is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Thankfully we can avoid it by eating lots of iron rich food. Red meat and liver are high in iron, as is spirulina, a type of algae. Check out this article for the top ten best foods to eat for boosting iron.

Other great iron sources are raisins, pistachio nuts and dark chocolate. The children love making bark in our house, and it never lasts longer than five minutes. Simply melt dark chocolate (I use 85% cocoa solids, the higher the better as it will be lower in sugar), then stir in a handful each of raisins and pistachios, then allow to set in the fridge. It’s absolutely delicious, and also makes a fab gift. 

What are your favourite ways of sneaking vitamins and minerals into your children? Tweet me @mummytries

**Disclaimer: this post has been sponsored by Haliborange. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Vitamin A: helps support normal vision | Vitamin C: helps support the immune system | Vitamin D: essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children | Vitamin B12: contributes to normal energy release.

Food supplements do not replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

I spent most of the week before Christmas totally floored by mum flu! It couldn’t have come at a worse time, as hubby had to work…  

I don’t do low level coughs and colds that last all winter, and I don’t get properly sick very often. When I do though, it completely wipes me out. Not very helpful with three lively home educated children to look after.  

Almost everyone else in my little family had been under the weather for the two weeks before I got sick. Freddy had literally spent days coughing in my face, so it wasn’t a surprise when my head started feeling fuzzy. Having been stone cold sober for weeks I knew it wasn’t drinking related, and went to bed that night fully prepared to wake up feeling rubbish.

Truth be told I wasn’t banking on being hit square in the eye with mum flu, but that’s what happened. Here’s what I did to ensure a super speedy recovery, just in case any of you lovely lot are feeling it now.

Don’t be a martyr, you need bed rest

mum fluTop of the list of things that will get you back on your feet, is proper rest. Now I know that as a busy mum, you don’t want to hear that. Especially not on the run up to Christmas / a birthday / a holiday / busy time at work. BUT, if you don’t get adequate sleep you will prolong your illness. It really is as simple as that. Plus if you have full blown mum flu, chances are you also have a forty degree temperature and horrible fever. You’re probably shivering under a hoodie, blanket and duvet, and your arms and legs more than likely feel broken.

You couldn’t soldier on even if you wanted to. So go to bed, and let anyone and everyone do everything else. The world will not stop turning, I promise. Proper rest is the only thing that will get you back to functioning. I was fortunate that I came down with mum flu on a Saturday evening, so had all day Sunday for hubby to take the parenting reins. After that though, it was business as usual with my three. Which is where all the things listed below came into play. 

Probiotics for your gut

Those who have been following me for a while will know that I am all about the gut health. New followers will learn this pretty quickly (you can read this for more info). Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut, and I firmly believe this to be true. I currently drink around one litre of home made water kefir every day, but when I was ill I was drinking at least two litres, and also supplementing with a potent multi-strain probiotic.

I will do everything in my power to avoid antibiotics, and I view probiotics as the ANTI antibiotics. They replenish your gut with healthy flora, rather than wipe out the good along with the bad (which is what antibiotics do). Obviously if I had a severe infection and needed antibiotics, then I would of course take them. In most cases though, mum flu isn’t a serious infection, it is your body’s way of telling you to slow down.               

Turmeric to help with inflammation

mum fluInflammation is the way the body responds to viruses, which is why it can be impossible to move when we have the flu. Also, if the lungs become inflamed it can lead to breathing problems and phlegmy coughs. Turmeric is a natural way of combatting inflammation and I’m a huge fan of the stuff. For details on the ridiculous number of health benefits to be had from it, read this comprehensive post from the fabulous Dr. Josh Axe.

I made a tonic at the beginning of the year by fermenting 500g of organic turmeric with cider vinegar (probiotic, anti-inflammatory) and some cold pressed honey (natural antibiotic). It’s not a nice taste, but my word is it potent. I would highly recommend making your own tonic, so you have it on hand for emergencies.      

Vitamin C to help quash your cold

Vitamin C is vital for body tissues to repair themselves. When it comes to getting the immune system back to fully functioning after being sick, or healing wounds, the more the merrier. My wonderful neighbour sent over an elderberry based tincture for me, which was very kind of her. It tasted disgusting, but as my lovely 8yo Polly said:

“Mummy, all medicine that gets you better tastes horrible.”

She has a very good point, and herbal tinctures never taste nice, but they are amazing when it comes to healing. Elderberry, which are the tiny little black berries which come out late summer after all the buttery elder flowers disappear, are exceptionally high in vitamin c. These trees are plentiful where I live, and next year I plan to pick a load of berries when they are at their best, and freeze them for times like this.

Any other immune boosting supplements you can get your hands on

Two years ago I started making what I call wellness bombs, which are home made organic vitamin capsules. The shell is pure gelatin, and inside is an even mix of turmeric, dried rosehip and dried amla fruit – which are both high in vitamin c. Here’s a little video I did with the kids, to show how easy they are to make.

What are your best natural healing tips? Tweet me @mummytries 

Water Kefir: make your own supply of powerful natural probiotics What is kefir, and why is it so good for me?

Kefir are little live strains of gut-health promoting bacteria and yeast, and are exceptionally good for our bodies. The grains can be fermented in either water or milk, and makes a fermented drink which is one of the most powerful, and cost effective, natural sources of probiotics we have readily available to us. 

Whilst milk kefir is very potent, and could create a die off reaction while your gut bacteria is changing.

Water kefir (also known as tibicos) is much gentler on the gut and easier to introduce as a starting place. It’s still a great source of natural probiotics, and especially if you have issues with digesting dairy products, it could be the better option.

The cost saving is phenomenal

Water kefir grains are hardy, and once established can live forever providing you look after them. I started drinking one litre of water kefir daily about a year ago, and after three months I was able to stop taking probiotics supplements. Once established, a month’s supply of water kefir will cost around £2 in comparison to £30 for good quality supplementation.

When I first embarked on the GAPS Diet back in 2014, gut health was still considered a little bit woo. Nowadays it’s mainstream, and was recently discussed on the BBC program Trust Me I’m A Doctor, where home fermented foods came out winning.

You can buy a large portion of water kefir grains here for just £3.99, including UK postage.

 

Gut Health: 3 Low Cost Ways to Get Probiotics in Your LifeWhen I first embarked on the GAPS Diet in 2014, gut health was still considered a little bit woo. Nowadays it’s becoming mainstream, and was recently discussed on the BBC program Trust Me I’m A Doctor. On the show, home fermented foods came out winning as a method of promoting gut health.

Why you might ask?

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria (also known as good bacteria or beneficial bacteria). A lack of good bacteria is said to be the root cause of many autoimmune conditions, and when we eat fermented foods we add these good bacteria to our intestinal flora. This increases our gut health, which in turn increases the health of our digestive system and boosts our immune system.

Fermented foods are also easier to digest than regular food, as a lot of the work has already been done for us in the fermentation process.

Whilst taking probiotic supplementation is the most convenient way of promoting gut health, there’s no denying that quality supplements cost a small fortune. Low cost supplements are pointless taking, and yield little value if any to our gut. Home fermented food and drinks are the very best – and most cost effective way – of getting probiotics into our lives. Here are three easy wins for you to get your gut health on track without it breaking the bank!

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented drink, and is one of the most powerful natural sources of probiotics we have readily available. In a nutshell kefir grains are little live strains of good bacteria and yeast, and are exceptionally good for us. Note: they are not an actual grain, as in wheat, but are referred to as grains.

You can ferment kefir in water or milk. Perhaps because of my long standing issues with dairy, I find the milk kefir too potent. It bloats me, whereas I tolerate water kefir just beautifully. I swapped out my probiotic supplements for water kefir about a year ago, and have continued feeling the benefits.

Check out the video below for a full tutorial, and Q&A session on the benefits of water kefir. Click here to buy quality low cost grains.

Sauerkraut

3 Cost Effective Ways to Get Your Gut Health on TrackOnce fermented, cabbage is a fabulous source of probiotics. Although tasty, most commercially made sauerkraut has been pasteurized, which destroys the good bacteria. Home fermented sauerkraut is a delicious and simple way of adding probiotic goodness to your diet. 

Making it for the first time can be a little daunting, but once you get into the swing of fermenting your own foods it won’t take up too much of your time.

Ingredients (to fit into a 500ml jar)
300g cabbage
3 carrots
1.5 tbsp sea salt
Sterilised glass jar

Method
– finely slice (shred) your cabbage and grate your carrots, then put everything into a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt
note: you can leave out the carrot, and bump the cabbage up to 500g if you’d prefer 

– cover with a loosely fitting plate or a tea towel, and leave in a warm place overnight (as you would with home made bread). By morning your veg will have wilted down to about half and the salt will have naturally drawn out a lot of the probiotic juices. It will also kick start the fermentation process

– pack the veg tightly into your sterilised jar, and cover with the juice at the bottom of the bowl. Top up with a little water if needs be, to ensure the veg is completely covered. It is imperative that you don’t leave any space for air to get into the jar. Put the lid on loosely 

– leave to ferment on your kitchen side for 3-5 days, depending on how hot it is. Check daily to ensure that there is still no air getting into the jar, and there is no pressure building up 

– once it’s ready store in the fridge, and serve with savoury dishes 

Yoghurt

3 Cost Effective Ways to Get Your Gut Health on TrackCommercially made yoghurt is widely available, but again it’s never going to be as good for you as home made. I’ve been making my own out of a mixture of goat milk and goat double cream for a few years now, and the whole family adores it.

I’ve never gotten around to posting a tutorial, however my lovely friend Vicki who writes the Free From Fairy has done. 

Check out Vicki’s comprehensive yogurt tutorial here.

For my recipe, substitute the 600ml of double cream for 775ml whole goat milk, and a 125ml goat double cream. The rest of the process stays exactly the same.

Happy fermenting ❤

How to Stay Sane in a World Gone MadI don’t know about you, but my head feels like it’s going to explode on a daily basis.

Brexit has truly divided the nation here in the UK, leaving many feeling uncertain and confused about what might lie ahead.  

Regardless of whether it ends up being a good thing or not, I’m sure most will agree that these are troubling times to live through.

Sh*t has got very real indeed my friends, which is why it’s more important than ever to have a plan.

Here’s how to stay sane in this world gone mad.

Hold on tight to your integrity

As far as I’m concerned, integrity is everything. Staying true to ourselves in all areas of life means that we can hold our heads high, and know our conscience is clear. You can’t really put a price on that. All too often we see people selling out, and losing their way. There’s nothing worse than a fake, so in a world full of Kardashian-wannabees why not strive to be an authentic, decent human being instead?

I find our celebrity obsessed, trash TV culture deeply disturbing. With so much emphasis on what we look like, and how much money we have, is it any wonder that teen depression rates are through the roof? I’ve always been a firm believer that beauty is skin deep, and I’m good at seeing through people. A pretty face means nothing if you don’t have a kind heart. Also, this shouldn’t need to be said, but we can’t eat money, or take it to the grave. It’s the most obvious thing, but is clearly lost on so many.  

Buy less, make more (or make do) 

Which leads me nicely to my next point. Getting out of the standard consumerist mindset before having children was one of the best things I did. Consumerism only exists because people place too much value on the wrong things, and find it difficult to distinguish between their wants and their needs. I like to do my bit for the planet whilst raising my family, and hope that leading by example will mean my children will continue doing their bit once they’re old enough. 

how to stay sane in a world gone madOne of the easiest wins as far as I’m concerned is buying things second hand. I buy almost all my clothes from charity shops, which has various levels of good karma attached. It means I’m being kind to the environment, not being complicit toward sweatshop exploitation, and I’m giving money to charity all in one fell swoop. Like it or not cheap clothes are bad for everyone.

The same rules apply to toys, accessories and home furnishings, but isn’t exclusive to this list. I’ve written many times before about food, and how satisfying it is to make food from scratch. If you know your diet could use a spring clean, you might enjoy my recent post on redefining what it means to be healthy.

Address your deep rooted issues, and get rid of them once and for all

Cards on the table, are you depressed? You’re certainly not alone, but if the root causes run deeper than the current political climate then you’ll need to be prepared to face them head on. Getting to grips with the root of our troubles will no doubt include dredging up painful memories, but it’s the only way to properly move forward. 

I’ve suffered from numerous bouts of depression over the years, and have had two full on mental breakdowns. If I’m honest, I spent most of 2016 feeling down. I was turning to the bottle far too often, and drowning my sorrows, which just perpetuated the cycle of doom and gloom. Now that I’m hardly drinking, as well as eating super clean, I’m feeling mentally well again. Getting on track is never easy, but the road to recovery always starts with me.

Take a break from social media when it all gets too much

If there is one thing I’ve learnt since joining Facebook in 2007, it’s that social media is not my friend through times of hardship. Yes it’s good to keep in touch with friends. Yes it’s good to stay connected. But there are other ways and means of doing these things if your feeds are becoming a source of misery. 

Keeping abreast through reputable news sources instead of relying on social media should ensure accuracy. Which is essential in our post-truth era. If you’re worried that you’ll miss out on your friends’ news, why not send them a text or go truly old-school and phone them?

how to stay sane in a world gone madFind time for the things and people you love

Whatever your passions are, find a way of fitting them into your daily life. Feeding our souls with the things that make us happy is probably the most beneficial thing we can do for our emotional wellbeing.

Whether it’s through diet and exercise, honing our skills or doing good for other people, do more of the things that make you smile and less of the things that make you miserable.

It’s also imperative to spend your time with people who lift you up, not knock you down. If you are engaged in toxic relationships, on any level, they will be zapping your chances of happiness. Take a break from those who make you sad, and see how the land lies after a little time apart.

Do you have any tips for staying sane in this world gone mad?