Amara Baby Food Review

I’m fairly picky about the food that Ari eats (partly by choice, partly by necessity) and always on the look out for new things to try with her. It’s been tough since we’ve had to further restrict her diet beyond dairy and gluten to include some fruits and veggies to determine if these foods are hurting her belly & gut. It’s been an interesting culinary journey to say the least and I’ve found that some of my favourite go- tos have been crossed off my list (including many of my favourite organic store- bought pouches). With these new restrictions I’ve had to make sure all the food she eats doesn’t have any sneaky ingredients that she can’t have (there was even wheat in the jarred prunes we were buying!) 

It can be frustrating at times, but it’s also led us to try new things. We recently discovered Amara baby food and have been trying out their banana dried baby food. Like rice cereal, all you have to do is mix it with water (or swap in breast milk/ milk or milk substitutes) and it’s good to go (I use a fork to mix it so there’s no lumps). It’s also great mixed into a smoothie or in oatmeal, making it a versatile option that Ari has been loving. And let’s face it, what Mom isn’t elated when her toddler eats what’s put in front of them and it’s healthy to boot?

Aside from the fact that Ari is happily gobbling it up, here’s what I like about it:
– organic
– non- GMO certified
– made just from fruits & veggies
– free from additives/ fillers 
(the ingredients list for the dried banana pouches: organic dried bananas. That’s it.)

Here’s the ingredients/ nutritional info:

Unlike the food that comes in pouches or jars, this food is dehydrated to ensure none of the nutritional benefit is lost. I’m a fan of dehydrating fruit for trail mix, etc, but didn’t realize just how beneficial this process is for keeping nutrients in food intact. While researching this post I learnt something that really p’d me off: because of the high temperatures used to cook baby food that comes in jars and pouches to keep it shelf stable, most if not all, of the vitamins and nutrients are compromised resulting in mostly empty calories. Uggggh. Those things aren’t cheap!

I try and make as much of my own food as I can as I have a really good baby food maker. I spent a lot of time choosing it and read the reviews on mommyhood101, which convinced me to buy it. I’m so glad I did – it’s been one of my best purchases. I actually enjoy making the food, never mind that it’s usually much better for your baby. That being said, sometimes you just need something that’s easy to grab & go. So for a convenient snack option I’ve been making smoothies with the Amara dried banana food and either putting them into reusable pouches or in cups with wide straws for when we’re out and about (a great way to sneak in spinach and kale!). You can also just toss the pouch of dried food into your bag and mix it up when you need it (which is a great snack for when we visit Grandma & Grandpa). 

Here’s what the food likes right out of the pouch and when stirred with water:

Amara’s baby food is good for babies 6 months+ and comes in several flavours. If you want to try Amara out for yourself, visit their website to see where it’s available near you (Whole Foods on Cambie Street in Vancouver is one local location carrying it). You can also find them on Facebook & Twitter.

Food Sensitivities & Allergies: What’s the Difference & WHY Are They on the Rise?

This week my daughter joined my husband & millions of other North Americans as being diagnosed with food sensitivities. While we have had our suspicions for some time that something she was eating was affecting her health we wanted to be sure. And not surprisingly the main foods that she is sensitive to are among ‘the most common food allergens’ as listed by the Government of Canada (and many other organizations): milk & wheat; she is also sensitive to almonds and gliadin (another allergen in wheat).
We are strong believers in diet- related health (literally you are what you eat) and tend to think more along the lines of treating a health concern starting from the inside out rather than the outside in. This has lead us think more about why we have a symptom & the source than simply treating the symptoms. For example: if one of us gets a cold we don’t simply take a medicine to treat the symptoms (runny nose, cough, etc), we make efforts to treat the cause/ source of the symptoms (why am I coughing? How & why did I get sick? How can I give my body what it needs to get better? Answer: Give it the nutrients it needs to boost the immune system & fight what’s wrong). Don’t get me wrong, we do have medicine on hand & don’t question the need for traditional healthcare, we just question the cause of the symptom before we treat it, often this eliminates the need for a traditional medicine (note: often not always). There are new treatments coming out for immune-deficiency such as Ozone Therapy in Chicago, which is an exciting advancement that could spell the end of some diseases that are caused by problems with the immune system, and is an example of treating problems at the source for the best results. In the journey I’ve been taking with Will & now with Ari I’ve been building on this approach and knowledge as I tackle how our family will make further adjustments to our lifestyles and diet choices.
It was tough enough eliminating certain foods with Will, meaning no sandwiches or quick grab & go lunches for him; no deli meats, no out of the freezer pizzas or mac and cheese for lazy dinner nights (albeit these changes were and are for the better), but eliminating these items for Ari will present a slightly different set of challenges, even though our family has already made adjustments. Think: how often do we grab some crackers and/ or cheese as a convenient on- the- go snack? As Moms just trying to get our kids out the door we turn to choices that we can pop in the diaper bag and that don’t require much thought/ prep. I know there’s options out there, but figuring out what she likes will take some trial & error (it’s been tough enough to find options for a grown man!). Keep in mind that I am very pro organic/ non- GMO, narrowing our options further & bumping up our food budget. I realize that’s a self- imposed choice, but again one made with the overall health of my family in mind.

The difference between allergies, sensitivities, & intolerances
With all of this new information swirling around in my head I’ve also been trying to differentiate between allergies, sensitivities, etc. Are they reversible? For life? What’s more severe/ serious? Can you get away with a little here & there or have to eliminate items completely? Here’s what I’ve been finding out: Sensitivities differ from allergies and age does play a factor in how the body reacts to allergens (younger children’s immune systems react differently as they ‘mature’ around the age of 2 years), meaning that if detected early, the damage caused by food sensitivities to the gut and immune system can be reversed rather than having them evolve into full- blown allergies with more adverse reactions. I can’t speak to how this may relate to Celiac disease & other similar auto- immune diseases triggered by foods we consume, but I feel there has to be a strong correlation.
To help better understand the difference between everything I Googled the heck out of the terms and found these definitions on the Health Canada website:
Food allergies: Sensitivities caused by a reaction of the body’s immune system to specific proteins in a food…
In allergic individuals, a food protein is mistakenly identified by the immune system as being harmful. The first time the individual is exposed to such a protein, the body’s immune system responds by creating antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When the individual is exposed again to the same food protein, IgE antibodies and chemicals such as histamine are released. Histamine is a powerful chemical that can cause a reaction in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin or cardiovascular system. In the most extreme cases, food allergies can be fatal. Although any food can provoke an immune response in allergic individuals, a few foods are responsible for the majority of food allergies.
A food intolerance: A food sensitivity that does not involve the individual’s immune system. Unlike food allergies, or chemical sensitivities, where a small amount of food can cause a reaction, it generally takes a more normal sized portion to produce symptoms of food intolerance. While the symptoms of food intolerance vary and can be mistaken for those of a food allergy, food intolerances are more likely to originate in the gastrointestinal system and are usually caused by an inability to digest or absorb certain foods, or components of those foods.
A food sensitivity: An adverse reaction to a food that other people can safely eat, and includes food allergies, food intolerances, and chemical sensitivities.
Are we allergic to food or what’s being done to it?
What has really bothered me in my research is the acknowledgement that food allergies are on the rise, but claims by large organizations (often linked to government & traditional medicinal channels) that there is no indication as to WHY. Please note that I’m not suggesting that allergies don’t exist outside of a simple reaction to a food that doesn’t agree with your body, but I feel that the vast majority of allergies today & the rising population suffering from allergies, etc goes a little deeper than simply what’s going in our mouths; it starts before that, with what’s happening to our food before it reaches our homes.
When I was a kid, sure there were peanut allergies, but kids with allergies seemed to be in the minority, now it seems that kids without allergies/ sensitivities are in the minority. People are increasingly facing allergies in their families and what’s heartbreaking/ scary is that more kids are developing allergies & sensitivities. BUT WHY? I know this is getting into messy territory but if you look at the most common allergies (wheat, soy, peanuts, etc) you’ll notice a few things: these are some of the largest, most- consumed crops in North America; they are heavily treated with pesticides; and they are among the most notorious GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops (and don’t forget about the increase in dairy allergies). Coincidence? Sorry, not buying it. You can’t tell me that allergies are somehow mysteriously on the rise at the same time that North Americans are consuming (knowingly & unknowingly) foods that are covered in harmful pesticides/ herbicides (read: poisonous chemicals) and/ or have been genetically altered. In this article I found, a UK study found that soy allergies increased 50% after the introduction of genetically modified soy. Hmmm…..
Natural vs organic
Since it’s becoming big business to claim food is ‘natural’, ‘organic’ etc, it’s important to note there are significant differences in these claims and you may be purchasing products you thought were free from pesticides, GMOs, etc because they claim to be ‘natural’. This is not the case. As this is a complex issue, it might be easier to have organic meals prepared for you by an expert, and delivered to your door by companies like those reviewed by Meal Kit Advisor. It’s an ultra convenient alternative that takes all the stress out of food prep for you. Alternatively, see the definitions of these terms below (from the American Society of Nutrition) to help you know what you’re really buying.
Natural: Without a formal definition of what “natural” means, let’s examine what this label does not mean. First of all, foods containing natural flavors, sweeteners, or other plant-derived substances can be labeled natural. In addition, foods containing highly processed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can also be labeled “natural”, since the synthetic materials used to generate HFCS are not incorporated into the final product (2). Finally, foods containing genetically engineered or modified ingredients can be labeled “natural,” something California’s recently defeated Proposition 37 tried to prevent (3). Although far from an exhaustive list of what can be labeled a “natural” food, these are a few examples of how “natural” may mean something different than consumers think… Although consumers purchasing “natural” meat, poultry, and eggs can be confident that there are no artificial ingredients or colors added, it’s important to note that “natural” does not necessarily mean hormone-free or antibiotic-free; these are separate labels, also regulated by the USDA.
Organic: Foods with an organic seal are certified organic and contain at least 95% organic content (5). Organic food is produced using approved organic farming methods “that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Specifically, “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” to produce organic food, meaning that organic food products are not genetically modified and have not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (5). Use of the “organic” food label and seal is strictly regulated by the National Organic Program, which is administered through the USDA.
So what can you do?
Get tested
If you or members of your family are facing health challenges or have noticed lingering health concerns that don’t seem to be clearing up, I encourage you to consider getting tested for food sensitivities & allergies instead of turning to the medicine cabinet. Different tests are carried out by naturopathic doctors vs traditional medical doctors, so make sure you do some research & find out what sounds most fitting based on your needs & symptoms.
Look at the food you’re eating
Raid your fridge & cupboards and examine what you’re putting in your mouth. Are you eating nutrient- dense food or is it highly processed? Natural vs organic? Are you unknowingly consuming foods containing GMO ingredients such as wheat & soy? Are they high in sugars? It’s important to note that even ‘healthy’ foods lose their nutritive advantage if they’re chock- full of sugar & other additivies, even if it’s organic/ natural, etc. Empty calories are still empty calories, no matter how fancy the packaging makes them look.
Do some research
If this is new to you I encourage you to do some research into GMOs, organic foods, etc and find out for yourself the importance of examining what your family is consuming. Is it easy to make these changes? Cheap? Unfortunately not always, but I can tell you from experience that it’s worth trying. It might mean making a cutback from somewhere else in your monthly budget, but think of it this way: if you don’t have your health and/ or if you’re unhappy, what enjoyment will that money & what it can buy bring you?
I hope this post offers some valuable information that will encourage you to continue on a healthy journey with your family or be the inspiration to start one.
Sources referred to in this post:
Most Common Food Allergens (& other info): Click here.
Allergy Facts & Statistics (US data): Click here. (This is the site that claims that there is “no clear answer as as to why” allergies are on the rise)
GMOs vs Allergies: Click Here
Natural vs Organic: Click Here
Image source:
Gluten Free Quote: Funline on Etsy
January posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

Healthy is Sexy: Catching Up on the Juicing Craze with Sexy Juice

Everywhere you turn right now, juice is all the rage. At home juicing, cold- pressed, fresh squeezed… what the heck is all the hype about and what does it mean to you and your family? Will has been a dedicated juicer for some time now and a dear friend of mine swears by it. For many of us, time is of the essence and sometimes adding a kick of nutritious goodness means picking up something out of convenience.
For all you busy Moms & Dads looking for a boost, or for those picky kiddos who just don’t dig their fruits & veggies, a serving of fresh juice could be a great on- the- go solution. It can be a little messy thanks to the pulp that juicers produce which, but if you have a well-designed juicer this is pretty easy to get rid of. However, if you’ve got the time to be ultra efficient, juice pulp doesn’t need to go in the garbage, here are some creative uses from Juice Buff. There is some scepticism about many of the options out there when it comes to juicing, so to help me figure out where the benefits lie I spoke with the lovely Summer from Sexy Juice to help me wrap my mind around the juicing craze, and for all those who read the words Sexy Juice and think it’s more porn like than juicing sorry to disappoint it’s definitely without question about juicing.
Healthy is Sexy!

TPB: What are the benefits of having juice in your diet?

S: There are so many! First though I should clarify that these are the benefits of COLD PRESSED juice. Cold pressed juice contains the most whole nutrients, enzymes, minerals, and proteins; this is because of the way cold pressed juice is extracted – no heat! Drinking a cold pressed juice is such a easy way of ensure you are getting your daily nutrition. And, if you want to try giving your body a boost to help absorb all those vitamins you could consider giving a liposomal cbd broad spectrum extract a try alongside your next glass, i’ve heard from people that it can really help jumpstart the body to get used to the juice.
I am the mother of a three year old and an entire day can go by and I’ve only eaten a couple bites of her scraps. If I can start my day with a juice, that is 16oz of pure goodness – nothing processed. You really do feel amazing, if I can go as far as to say elated. When I first started implementing cold pressed juice into my diet, they are so nutrient dense it was an actual physical reaction, I felt amazing, alert, energized. They taste great.
TPB: What are some good ingredients to look for?
S: If you’re going to drink one juice every 1-2 days I would suggest to go with a greens one – especially with kale. Anything with dark leafy greens will be good for you all around. However, drinking 16oz of fruits and veggies – you can’t go wrong.
TPB: Can you suggest some ‘top 3’ combos? (ie for a cleanse, energy, etc)?

S: I don’t think any specific combo is better than another. All fruits and veg have so many benefits. However, here’s a good way to look at it: if you want beauty, go for something with beets; if you’re looking for energy, find something with chia seeds or ginger. It comes down to taste, if you like the taste you are much more likely to drink it often which is key for the juice to be most beneficial.

TPB: What are some popular juice(s)?

S: Our Good Morning Sunshine seems to be the most popular, anything with pineapple is really popular too and our nut mylks are a bit hit.

Everyone is different and everyone has their favourites but my team spent a lot of time and effort crafting and re-crafting these recipes so they taste good and your body will crave it.

TPB: Any other info that’s important for people to know about juices?

S: People often get caught up that they have to do a cleanse to get the benefits of a cold pressed juice, which can be really daunting. They’re just a great item to include in your diet, cleanse or no cleanse. I have a lot of mom customers who have 3- 4 a week. They’re good just to have in the fridge on those crazy day’s when food seems to be the last priority.

About Sexy Juice: At Sexy Juice our message is ‘healthy is sexy’, you can see how healthy the women at websites similar to ( are so you can see where we are coming from, it’s not about being a certain size, the things we aquire, the color of our hair, how put together we are. We are encouraging our readers to keep health simple, go back to the basics by feeding your body whole and un-processed ingredients. Keeping this things on hand is key to success, you truly will feel amazing from the inside and that shines through to the outside – every time.?

For more info about this awesome local company and to learn about their workplace program, click here! Find them on Facebook and Twitter & Instagram: @s_e_x_y_juice
Want to find out what all the hype is about??? Sexy Juice has offered a 10% discount to TPB readers on orders over $50. Use promo code. THEPAMPEREDBABY at checkout to redeem.

The promo code can be used towards a 1- day cleanse for choose from their a la carte menu.

Images courtesy of Sexy Juice

3 Tips to Achieve a Healthy Lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle is a goal for a lot of people, but not always one we put first. With work, family, and other things taking up our time we often forget to take care of ourselves.
But it doesn’t take as much time or work as we think it does (so quit the excuses!). Here’s some great advice from Chelsea Van Blankers, a certified personal trainer & fitness instructor on how to get healthy (and stay healthy!).
Get Moving: Exercise

There is no need to spend hours in the gym!
Even 10-15 minute bursts of activity are beneficial. When short on time concentrate on large
muscle groups and combination moves. This will burn more calories and cut your
workout time in half.
For example add bicep curls when doing a lunge. (Holding
a set of dumbbells step one foot back and lower into a lunge position, do a
bicep curl before pressing back up. Then step your feet together and repeat on
the opposite side.)
Another trick is to add in a plyometric move. This will get
your heart rate up, training your aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same
time. In other words you are doing your cardio and strength training in the
same workout! Example do a set of 8-12 lunge and bicep curls then a set of
10-20 jumping jacks or mountain climbers. There is also no need to do 100’s of
crunches to get a flat tummy. Always mindfully engage your core throughout your
entire workout. Remember spot reduction
is a myth, abs are really made in the kitchen!
150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week and a minimum of 2 days of strength training will help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. The more activity you do the more health benefits are gained.
Food for Thought:

Eat Right
Body composition plays a huge part in your nutritional needs because muscle takes more calories to maintain (even when you
are not exercising) than fat. So grab a set of weights!
Everyone’s needs are different. Ditch the fad diets: low carb, no carb, low
fat, no fat, replacement meal shakes, cleanses etc. You will never experience
long term results on a short term quick fix
. All macro nutrients are important
(carbohydrates, fats and proteins).
counting calories and eat nutrient dense foods. The less processed the food the
better it is for you.
Get real about what a portion size looks like and fill
your plate with colour. If you’re wanting to make sure you get all your nutrients
you could look at purchasing different supplement products from sites like Sculpt Nation or others.
The biggest challenge with our diet is to
listen to our body. Are you really hungry? Or are you bored, emotional or
thirsty? Most of us are dehydrated and
thirst disguises itself as hunger. By drinking 2 litres of fresh water a day
you will cut cravings and improve your skin and digestion
. My water bottle
never leaves my side.
Be mindful when you are eating. Really
taste your food.
I know it sounds ridiculous but we are always in a rush and
our eating habits have suffered from it. When you stop and enjoy your food and
chew it properly (which will aid in digestion and nutrient absorption) you will
take in fewer calories and feel more satisfied.
It takes 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are
. A lot of extra calories and be
eaten in those 15 minutes. We all have felt the ‘I’m about to explode’ I ate
too much feeling after a big dinner. Being mindful will help avoid those
unpleasant feelings.
Get Your A@s in Gear: Get Help
With so much conflicting information out
there about health and fitness it is hard to know where to start. A Personal Trainer can help you reach your
goals faster by creating a program tailored to your specific needs and goals,
to fit into your schedule. On top of
teaching you proper technique and form a personal trainer will coach you
through all the bumps in the road that come with making a lifestyle. And most importantly make it fun and
enjoyable! Research how to find a PT in your area and you too can feel the benefit of having one supporting and facilitating your healthy lifestyle.
A huge thank you to Chelsea for her advice for this post!
About Chelsea: Chelsea
Van Blankers is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor and 200RYT Yoga Teacher who is passionate about fitness. Living in Delta, BC, she recently returned from a backpacking trip to Peru where she visited a once in a lifetime treck to Machu Pichu. To find out more about Chelsea & her fitness services, visit her website:
Image Source: Being Fit Is Fun
June posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Feature Friday: Green Earth Organics (& Giveaway!)

I love finding new ways of eating healthy and incorporating these ideas & recipes into busy family life (did you see my post on She’s A Valley Mom on how to sneak healthy foods in for your kids???). A little while back when I attended the Mommies N Munchkins Fair I met an amazing local Vancouver company that delivers fresh organic produce right to your door, Green Earth Organics. A perfect option for busy families trying to balance healthy meals with work, school, and other activities, how much easier could it be than to have the groceries brought to you? The best part is the affordability- produce bins start at $30/ week, making this a budget- friendly way to get in your (organic!) greens.
With a selection of 100% organic fruits & veggies and a growing list of environmentally friendly items, the company’s goal is to help families save time & eat healthier while making less of an environmental impact. With an option to meet your family’s needs, whatever the size (small, medium, or large bins are available), this is a great way to help make meals healthier & grocery shopping easier.
I am excited to announce a giveaway with Green Earth Organics for TPB readers! Go to our Contests Page for a chance to win a medium bin (a value of $38) delivered right to your door from Green Earth Organics! Green Earth Organics has also generously offered TPB readers a special discount: use promo code Pampered Baby at checkout to receive a $10 discount on your first order!
A medium bin of organic goodness from Green Earth Organics
For some great ideas about how to incorporate fresh veggies & fruits into meals, check out our article Cooking With Your Kids: How to Make Healthy Food Fun on the Green Earth Organics website

Delivering fresh Green Earth Organics is a home and office organic grocery delivery service that strives to provide customers with the freshest and vary best organic products available with weekly or bi-weekly free deliveries direct to your door. For more info, check out their website, or find them on Facebook & Twitter
May posts sponsored by Noah’s Ark Hypnotherapy

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