Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Easter bunny found us.... Raw chocolate and all! wink wink.

Holiday are so much fun- the anticipation of the Easter bunny coming and what he might bring fills our house with excitement and joy (and also a very good lever for bribery.....we all do it I'm sure). This Easter we tried something new- we made our own chocolates, wrapped them in beautiful foil and the Easter bunny was kind enough to deliver them around our garden for a wonderful egg hunt on Easter Sunday morning. How lovely and considerate of him to be obliging to help us raise our children the way we choose to. And at the moment, that means no sugar, no dairy, no crop oils, and no gluten.
raw chocolate eggs filled with chocolate avocado mousse 
Raw chocolate eggs, the big one filled with shredded coconut and almonds
Our family has been milk free for nearly 2 months. I've been making my own almond milk each week and storing it in the fridge. I put it in Pip's porridge and make her 'chocolate' milks with it. She has no idea. Milk just comes out of a jar these days instead of a plastic carton.
We also have been bread free for nearly 4 months, a gradual change that no one actually noticed until I pointed out that I hadn't in fact bought bread for a very long time. Whenever anyone asked for toast in the morning, it was a simple 'oh, we have no bread left, lets have porridge/ eggs/ gf muesli instead.'

Enjoying the Easter egg hunt!

Whenever I tell someone we don't eat dairy, i get the whole 'what about their bones, won't they be calcium deficient and break them' followed by concerned looks like I'm turing into a crazy hippy mother and they want to slip my children a glass of milk etc etc etc.
I feel for the parents of children who are dairy intolerant (SO many out there) who are often filled with fear over their child's perceived lack of calcium because they can't tolerate dairy.
So lets clear up the whole 'dairy is the best source of calcium' fallacy....

I'll start with a very interesting fact.
The USA has the highest intake of calcium. 
They also have the highest rate of osteoporosis. 
Go figure.
This is because it's not the intake of calcium that matters- it's the way we absorb and retain it. Bioavailability is the way in which your body can absorb, use and store a substance.

Building strong bones does not only depend on calcium. You need a a whole range of minerals and vitamins to get that calcium into your bones. You need Vit C, Vit D, Vit K, magnesium, phosphorus to get that calcium into the bones and to make the bony matrix, which is where bone strength comes from.
 So that skim milk you're drinking that's fortified with calcium is pretty much doing nothing to help strengthen your bones. That calcium is not accompanied by ALL the other key vitamins and minerals so it can actually become bioavailable. Your body will just excrete it via the kidneys. In other words you're weeing it all out. What a waste.
But.... if you were to eat some leafy greens- say some kale, which is a high source of calcium and includes a whole range of other vitamins and minerals- Vit D, magnesium, Vit K, phosphorus, Vit C- all needed for calcium bioavailability. You a great source of calcium which is able to be absorbed, used and stored and you can grow it in your own backyard.
Nature is clever. It not only puts the nutrients we need in plant and animal sources, but it also adds all the other vital little bits to make our bodies able to absorb, use and store it. 

Bam. There you go. Dairy myth busted.

Unfortunately in Australia all dairy must be homogenised and pasteurised to decrease the risk of contamination. This is unfortunate because RAW milk, from happy cows free to graze and frolic in paddocks, is a fantastic source of calcium, vitamin A, D and K2! This is milk in it's pure form, straight from the udder, no heating, pasteurising, homogenising. These processes destroy most of the vitamin and minerals that enable calcium to be bioavailable.

If you are going to have dairy I have a few tips. Have it as yoghurt only. The fermentation processes adds beneficial probiotics. Get it from happy cows- grass fed (not grain), organic, humanely raised cows. Always have full fat. Skimming the milk removes what little goodness there was in there in the first place. Five:am yoghurt have a fantastic range of organic yoghurt

There is such an array of other 'milk' choices out there- almond, coconut you can try instead of dairy if you're adamant on having a it in your coffee (please not soy though *gasp). Remember- you can make your own nut milk SO easily, and so much more cost effective than store bought. Look at the labels too- lots of non-dairy milks are loaded with extra sugars, preservatives and nasties. Go for organic wherever possible.

So, now are you wondering what the other great sources of calcium are from non dairy sources?
Well- here is a list-
Almonds, hazlenuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, chia seeds
Salmon, Sardines
Bone broth
Kale, Spinach, Collard greens, figs, dandelion, broccoli, rhubarb, oranges.

I made the kids a banana smoothie yesterday, packed with calcium and lots of other goodies to help them grow big and strong. Pip and Jimmy both LOVED it! 
1 decent sized banana
1 cup of kale (loosely packed)
1/2 full fat coconut milk
1/2 -3/4 filtered water (depending on how runny you like it)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon flax meal.

Whizz up with either a stick blender or your blender/food processor. Add more water if you like, or eat it with a spoon ;)