Browsing Tag


How to Read Nutrition Facts Labels

EAT, LIVE, nourish By March 28, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , 3 Comments

Good nutrition is important for everyone, but especially our little ones’ growing bodies (even though we secretly wish they’d stay little forever). There is so much to think about, and so little time to avoid tantrums at the supermarket. Are you trying to avoid certain things, like saturated fats and too much salt or sugar? Are you trying to choose foods that are high in vitamins and minerals? It’s hard to find time in our busy lives to make every meal straight from scratch, so sometimes we must reach for packaged foods instead of making homemade pasta and canning our own tomatoes (sometimes…).

When you’re trying to make the best and healthiest choices for your family, the first place you should check is the packaging. Fortunately, in Canada, ingredients and the Nutrition Facts label, are found on almost every packaged food product you can find at the store.


10 Things You Never Knew About Motherhood

FAM, pregnancy, self By May 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Motherhood is quite like running an unending marathon – it requires an immense amount of preparation, strength, flexibility, patience and determination. Before you become a mother, many will sound you off about the do’s and don’ts needed to master this life marathon. Only when you experience the run yourself will you truly enjoy the euphoria associated with each little victory and realize how every bit of your effort was worth it! Being a mother is unique for every woman in the world. Just how no two people in the world are alike, so is the experience of bringing them up equally different. Some, experiences, however, form a part of every mother’s life and leave a mark far beyond the baby-naming, breastfeeding, nappy-changing and sleepless nights! Here are ten things you never knew about motherhood (unless you are a mother, of course):

1.     Your Focus Will Shift From Yourself – Ever had your husband complain about how long you take to dress up before a party? When you become a mother, the complaining won’t stop; only now, it would be directed towards how long you take to dress your little one! Doing things for your kid will give you greater pleasure than doing anything for yourself.

 2. You Will Cherish Being At Home – If holidays mean traveling the length and breadth of the world with your partner, wait till you have a baby! You would want to spend all your free time at home playing and fooling around with your little one. You’ll cancel lunch dates with your girls, your monthly spa appointments, and many other commitments so you can cuddle with your cute little angel all day long. You won’t have any regrets!

3. You Will Become An Excellent Multitasker – Of the many life skills that being a mother teaches you, multitasking features high on top! You’ll learn to do everything, from cleaning your baby’s dirty diaper to cheering him up, while gearing up for his next meal, all together. You’ll play the roles of a chef, doctor, entertainer and caretaker all at once!

 4.     Your Child Will Be Your Therapy – The world raves about peaceful retreats to help calm the mind. Only a mother, however, knows that her child can light up her life with the greatest amount of happiness and harmony, beating every other therapy hollow. Looking at your kid sleep is indeed the most beautiful sight that can bust your stress in a matter of seconds.

5. You Will Grandly Celebrate Every Achievement Of Your Child – No matter how self-critical a person you might be, when it comes to your kid, you will be an unabashedly proud momma! You will fawn over everything from his smile to his cute talks and will want to capture and share everything he does with the world!

6. You’ll Be Amazed At Your Strength – The world may see women as the weaker sex, but the truth is that they are much stronger than what they get credit for! Experiencing over 12 hours of painful labor to going many nights without sleeping and keeping composure in the most stressful days of initial motherhood, is highly brave! Motherhood requires not only physical strength but also emotional and mental strength.

7. You Will Discover A New You – Though you were once known to be the most impatient and non-accommodating person in your group but when you become a mother, you’ll discover a whole new side to you. You’ll amaze everyone around with your patient and calm demeanor! No matter how big a problem might arise, you’ll handle it with an immense amount of composure.

8. Your Friend Circle May Change – From a gang of crazy girls to a gang of overanxious mothers, your friend circle may also change over the course of your motherhood. Given the drastic turnaround of things and situations after the arrival of your baby, needless to say, your equation with your pals is also likely to get impacted. When all you’ve left to talk about is your kids’ weird rash and his potty training stories, you need someone who can relate to your situation and share tips that have worked for them!

 9.     You Will Become A Nutrition Expert – Vitamins, minerals, calories, fiber content – all of these details of various foods will be at your fingertips when you become a mother. You will become extremely cautious about healthy-eating to be able to give your child the wholesome nutrition he needs to grow up into a healthy individual!

You Will Love Beyond Comprehension – One never truly learns the meaning of the word love until they become a parent. It’s only your child that you can love unconditionally, even more than you love yourself. It’s the most satisfying feeling to see your child flourish and grow more than you did! Your child will give your life a whole new purpose!

Most importantly, motherhood will make you realize that there isn’t anything else that could give you as much happiness as seeing your child smile! Not a perfect job, a lottery or a couture gown – nothing at all!

– Aradhana is a veteran writer on topics concerning parenting, child nutrition, wellness, health and lifestyle. As a regular contributor to popular sites like Huffington Post, Natural news, Elephant journal, Thehealthsite, Naturally Savvy, Curejoy and, Aradhana writes to inspire and motivate people to adopt healthy habits and live a stress-free lifestyle.

picky eater

Dealing with Fickle Picky Eaters

EAT, FAM, family meals, kids, lunches By April 3, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

One day they like mustard and the next, it’s only BBQ sauce.

And while one kid loves gnocci the other will only eat pasta.

Sandwiches with cheese are gross but macaroni and cheese is a favourite.

Smoothies aren’t real food, but when frozen into popsicles they are perfectly good sustenance.

Deceptively DeliciousNo Cry Picky Eater SolutionDealing with fickle picky eaters can give moms and dads a bunch of extra grey hair, and at times it is hard to remember that fussy eating is a normal stage for kids when learning about themselves. Experts constantly weigh in on methods to ensure healthy eating and Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook about hiding healthy foods within meals sold millions of copies and Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Picky Eater Solution is also a great resource that flies off the shelves. So you’re not alone if you’re a tad frustrated!

Personally, I’m a really (really) busy mom, and while sometimes I cook up a storm, I can’t always guarantee home cooking, nor can I ensure that the kids will eat their painstakingly prepared school lunches. (One with mustard and one with BBQ sauce). When they were babies I knew if they were eating too many carrots and squash because they’d have an orange hue to their skin. Now, I have no idea if their calcium levels are adequate, their iron is ok and in Canada (especially on the East coast this year) I can pretty much guarantee that the kids have a vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that up to 85% of people do not have adequate vitamin D levels and Vitamin D deficiency is at its peak after the winter season.

Our family has been taking Iron Kids and Adult Essentials gummies for a few months, and we are all loving it. With a wide selection of nut and gluten-free options, I give them a few per day based on what their diet has been like recently. The multivitamin is great, but usually I toss them a calcium as well. IronKids Calcium is also fortified with vitamin D to ensure that your kids can absorb and utilize the calcium they need for bones and teeth. Calcium intake can decrease significantly without daily intake of vitamin D

The boys won’t leave the house until they’ve had their vitamin treats, and they compare shapes and flavours with each other in delight. This begins my day knowing that I’ve covered the bases in case they forget to eat their lunch because the school soccer game is too distracting, and my stress level about their nutrition has been dramatically reduced.

We have a summer full of sailing, golf, soccer and tennis so the whole family needs all the nutrients we can get!

IronKids GummiesYou can learn lots more about nutrition and health on the Iron Kids website, and they also have a great bi-weekly newsletter!

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Science Nutritionals blogger program with Influence Central and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.


Baby Nutrition Month By Month With Mother Hen

baby, EAT By September 26, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Baby Nutrition Month By Month With Mother Hen

Every mother wants to offer their child the very best possible, whether that’s education, extracurricular activities or the food that we put on their plates. Many of us struggle with how to “do it all”. Finding ways to make life easier is essential for every busy parent (and let’s be honest, isn’t every parent busy?)

Mother Hen Organic Baby Food is a great alternative for busy parents who don’t have the time to prepare and puree their own baby food. They come frozen so they don’t have the preservatives that traditional baby food in glass jars often has. All you have to do is thaw and serve.

Mother Hen had their nutritionist, Genevieve Nadeau, share with us some thoughts on different stages of baby nutrition month by month through the first year. She debunked some common baby nutrition myths and gave great tips on how to care for your baby’s nutritional needs.

Nutrition guide for babies 6 months

Takeaway- Avoiding high risk allergy foods until after 1 year of age does not prevent allergies from developing. Introducing iron-rich foods amongst baby’s first food selections is important for baby’s health and development of palate.

Nutrition guide for babies 7-8 months

Takeaway- Focus on foods that are high in iron, avoiding foods that are protein rich but low in iron. Introduce new flavours including dark leafy greens, small pasta and fruit.

Nutrition guide for babies 9-12 months

Takeaway- At 9 months offer the breast or bottle after your baby has eaten their meal. Purees can start to take a backseat as you introduce grated or chopped foods. Introducing baby to a variety of flavours help develop their palate (even food that you may not enjoy.)

Nutrition guide for babies 12 months

Takeaway- At one year baby can start eating all of the same foods as mom and dad eat.

Mother Hen recently shared their line of organic baby food with one of our writers, Kyla Beyer– mommy to baby Harvey and successful Vancouver entrepreneur. Kyla shared with us her thoughts and Harvey’s reaction to this organic line of frozen baby food.

[pullquote_left]Kyla[/pullquote_left]It’s no secret that it can be challenging to balance career and motherhood. As a new mom I envisioned making all of my baby’s meals from scratch. Boiling, steaming, chopping, pureeing…I did it all….for a while. And then, when I went back to work, I found myself with less time to prepare healthy meals for my son. I wanted to spend my precious time with him, not in the kitchen. There are plenty of canned baby food products in the market, but once I discovered Mother Hen’s frozen baby food I was delighted. Natural, allergen free, no additives and all their fruits and vegetables are organic. I noticed a big difference in the smell and taste (yes, I tasted them!) of the Mother Hen products when comparing them to canned foods because the flavour and nutrients of their foods is retained due to their freezing process.

The Beginner line of purees are blended to the perfect silky consistency(no matter how I tried, I could not get my homemade carrot purees to be anything but lumpy). The portion sizes are perfect for little ones discovering new tastes, and their containers are free of BPA so they can be safely microwaved.

The Junior line (8 months and up) has great flavours such as Chicken Cacciatore and Lamb with Fruits (inspired by Morrocan cuisine and my son’s absolute favourite). The portion sizes are larger for growing appetites and the variety of flavours help to expand his palate.

My discovery of Mother Hen’s line of baby food has freed up precious time and helped me to find balance in my busy life as mother and career woman.

Thank you to Kyla and baby Harvey for testing and sharing their thoughts on Mother Hen Organic Baby Food and to Mother Hen for sending them food to test.

Kyla Beyer is mother to Harvey and the owner of Limelight Floral Design, a busy boutique floral studio based in West Vancouver. With the help of her fabulous husband she manages to balance it all and still find time to stop and smell the roses.


Peachy Keen on Health

EAT, FAM, health, lunches By May 13, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

Peachy Keen on HealthThis spring, the UrbanMommies team has been focusing on health. Jogging, extra water and vitamins have all been part of the routine. With the gardens not quite in bloom and stores of frozen fruit and veggies depleted, I started doing some digging on other options for getting nutrients through food. Canned cling peaches. Who knew? They are actually better canned than fresh and are readily available in stores – even in school lunch snack sizes.

Myth: Canned peaches are less nutritious than fresh peaches.
Fact: Canned peaches are actually more nutritious than their fresh and frozen counterparts. Canned peaches have 3.5 times the vitamin C, 10 times more folic acid and 1.5 times more antioxidants than their fresh counterparts. (And they are in stores all year round when there is nothing growing in your orchard!)

Myth: Canned peaches are full of sugar.
Fact: Canned California cling peaches have no added sugar in the juice or water that they are packed in, other than the natural sugar in the raw product.

Myth: Canned peaches lose their flavour and colour through the canning process.
Fact: Canned peaches retain their flavour, colour and firmness even when cooked or baked in entrees, appetizers or desserts.

Because California cling peaches are picked and packed usually within 24 hours, they retain their appearance, texture, flavour and nutritional content.

So… I need snacks after my runs. I need some great family meal ideas, and after 6 months of making school lunches, they were getting rather boring. Enter California Cling Peaches to remedy all of these situations! 

Check our recipes for gluten-free sweet chili and chicken peach wraps and peach, goat cheese and basil flatbread pizza.

Disclosure: This article was sponsored by California Cling Peaches. And we bet you learned a thing or two!


Sanity-Saving Supper Time Tips

EAT, family meals By March 25, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Sanity-Saving Supper Time TipsBy Lianne Phllipson-Webb, Sprout Right

In the spring as the weather improves, kids can get even busier with after school and evening activities. This can make supper time a challenge. How do you feed your hungry crowd healthy food, and quickly? Here are three sanity-saving supper time tips that will make your weekday meal prep a cinch.

  1. Weekends are for Prepping

Make some time for your weekday meal prep. Head to the grocery store and fill your fridge with fresh fruits, vegetables and protein. Create a plan for weekday meals and prepare by washing and cutting up veggies, grilling or roasting meats.

  1. Think BIG

Think BIG when it comes to meals and always aim to have a hearty amount of leftovers. Leftovers make great lunches for the next day and they can also form the foundation of your next supper. Cook a whole chicken (or two) instead of cooking a chicken breast and cut up the meat to make a salad or taco for the next night. Incorporate casseroles that please a crowd, and heat up great, like homemade lasagna.

  1. A Team Sport

Involve your kids as much as possible in meal preparation. Find age-appropriate activities like ripping lettuce leaves (pre-schoolers) and cutting up raw veggies (school-age). Even toddlers can help by grabbing their own plate and fork and helping to set the table. You can have “make your own” nights, where you put out the basic ingredients and the kids choose how to put their meal together. Examples include make your own pasta night, a chili bar (with hot chili, cheese, veggies and potatoes) and make your own taco night. Getting the whole family involved at mealtime not only helps you, it helps your kids learn skills toward independence.

Do you have some favourite recipes for quick and easy weekday meals? How do you save your sanity at suppertime?

Lianne Phillipson-Webb is the founder of Sprout Right, a company that specializes in pre-conception, prenatal, and postnatal nutrition for women, as well as good food and health for the whole family. With over ten years of experience, Lianne is a registered nutritionist, author, member of the International Organization of Nutrition Consultants, and mother of two.

How do I switch to organic

How Do You Switch to Organic?

EAT, family meals, snacks By January 2, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments

Switching to organic is a tough decision for many families. By choosing organic versions of the family’s most consumed foods, you can increase the percentage of organic food in your diet without big changes to your shopping cart or your spending. Opting for organic produce, for instance, doesn’t necessarily have a big impact, depending on what you eat. The key is to be strategic in your organic purchases. But how do you switch to organic? Like this.

According to the Environmental Working Group, commercially-farmed fruits and vegetables vary in their levels of pesticide residue. Here’s their standard of when to choose organic and when it’s OK to go conventional.

Dirty Dozen—These should always be organic: Nectarines, Celery, Pears, Apples, Cherries, Berries, Imported Grapes, Spinach, Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Lettuce.

Clean fifteen—It’s OK to opt for conventional here: Onions, Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapple, Mangos, Asparagus, Sweet peas, Kiwi, Cabbage, Eggplant, Papaya, Watermelon, Broccoli, Tomato, Sweet potato.  (Tip: Print this and slip it in your wallet.)

Why Organic?

Nutrient Dense: Reports of organic food not being better for you are outdated. A brand new analysis of about 100 studies, including more than 40 published in the past 3 years, found that the average levels of nearly a dozen nutrients are 25% higher in organic produce.

Consume Fewer Toxins
: Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables exposes you to about 14 pesticides a day. A study supported by the EPA measured pesticide levels in children’s urine before and after a switch to an organic diet. After just 5 days, the chemicals decreased to trace levels.


1. Milk: Most children drink milk everyday or in large quantities so this is one product not to skimp out on when it comes to choosing between organic and non. Also, when you choose a glass of conventional milk, you are buying into a whole chemical system of agriculture. Organic milk doesn’t contain the harmful antibiotics, artificial and growth hormones and pesticides that are used in commercial dairy.

2. Potatoes: Potatoes are a staple of the North American diet—an alarming fact in itself—one survey found they account for 30% of our overall vegetable consumption. A simple switch to organic potatoes has the potential to have a big impact because commercially-farmed potatoes are some of the most pesticide-contaminated vegetables. Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. Potatoes are treated with fungicides during the growing season, and then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t. 81% of potatoes tested still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled, and the potato has one of the highest pesticide contents of 43 fruits and vegetables tested, according to the Environmental Working Group.

3. Peanut butter: More acres are devoted to growing peanuts than any other fruit, vegetable or nut, according to the U.S.D.A. More than 99% of peanut farms use conventional farming practices, including the use of fungicide to treat mold, a common problem in peanut crops. Given that some kids eat peanut butter often, this seems like a simple and practical switch. Commercial food firms now offer organic brands in the regular grocery store. Even opt for grinding your own in store. Kids love the process watching the nut transform into paste!

4. Ketchup: For some families, ketchup accounts for a large part of the household vegetable intake—another sad fact in itself. About 75 percent of tomato consumption is in the form of processed tomatoes, including juice, tomato paste and ketchup. Notably, recent research has shown organic ketchup has about double the antioxidants of conventional ketchup.

5. Apples: Apples are the second most commonly eaten fresh fruit, after bananas. But apples are also one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. So apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. Don’t buy that. So minimize exposure by avoiding the most pestiside doused produce but choosing organic apples. The good news is that organic apples are easy to find.

6. Popcorn: Chemicals, like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the microwave popcorn bags, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to migrate into your popcorn and accumulate in the body for years. Many manufacturers will phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then. The solution: Pop organic kernels the old-fashioned way—in a skillet. For flavorings, add real butter, olive oil, or dried seasonings, such as dill, vegetable flakes or nutritional yeast. Bonus is that air-popped popcorn is a whole food, high in nutrients and a way cheaper snack food option.

7. Canned Tomatoes: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity—a prominent characteristic of tomatoes—causes BPA to leach into your food. Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings). Substitute low sodium organic jarred pasta sauce for canned tomatoes when a recipe calls for canned tomatoes and none are on hand.

8. Meat and Poultry: A study in the journal Meat Science compared the nutritional content of organic and nonorganic chicken meat. The researchers found that the organic samples contained 28% more omega-3s which are linked to reducing rates of heart disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. Animals raised organically are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or feed made from animal by-products (read: they don’t eat their own species).

Money Saving Tricks When Buying Organic

In-Season Savings: Hunt for produce at your local farmer’s markets. Buy organic produce in season (preferably local), when it’s most affordable—usually at half the cost. Not only does your wallet benefit, but also do the local farmers. Produce is farm fresh with a much zingier taste as it was probably just picked that day. Plus, little energy was wasted in its journey from the farm to kitchen.

Buy in Bulk: Organic options can be found at Costco—like organic bagged brown rice, whole-wheat flour and quinoa. Stock up on these, They don’t go bad and you will use them more often when on hand. You can also find many organic grains—brown rice, whole oats, pastas, flours, dried fruits, and nuts in bulk sections of stores for far less.

Portion Control: The recommended portion size for meat and poultry is three ounces, the size of a deck of cards. Stick to this amount and round out your meal with less expensive whole grains and veggies not only to cut meal costs, but also to drastically improve nutritional intake.

Organics to Skip: Which products don’t require the hefty price tag? Step into any health food store and you’ll find an organic version of just about everything, including junk food. While it’s true that organic is still better for you, soda is still soda, even with an organic label. A six-pack of organic soda contains 160 calories and zero nutrients. So skip it entirely. Cutting back on sweets and nutritionally void extras altogether is the best step to better health and won’t sabotage your shopping budget that should be spent on healthy whole foods.  

Alyssa-Schottland Bauman received her training to practice Health Counseling at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is the only nutrition school integrating all the different dietary theories—combining the knowledge of traditional philosophies with modern concepts like the USDA food pyramid, the glycemic index, the Zone and raw foods.



McDonald’s All-Access Moms

EAT, family meals By July 20, 2011 Tags: , , , , 9 Comments

I first heard about CityLine’s McDonald’s All-Access Moms program and thought it would be intriguing to see the operations, food preparation and strategy of a huge corporation from behind the scenes.  It is a rare opportunity to be granted access to the inner workings of one of the world’s largest restaurants.  (And not only any restaurant – but one which arouses passionate opinions by so many people).  I applied and was honoured to be chosen.  With the decision to participate comes a huge responsibility to ask tough questions, consider philosophical positions and present all I learn in a professional manner.


Family Meal Planner

eat, LIVE By September 15, 2010 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

Do you hit the grocery store at 4pm with screaming kids and gray hairs emerging by the minute?  Try our new Family Meal Planner.  With days of the week across the top and even a space to plan snacks, you can make it part of your weekly routine, and even incorporate some of our fab family recipes.  Family Meal Planner. Bon Appetit!