Monday, 28 October 2013

6 natural ways to soothe a sore throat

Last week I was suffering with a sore throat that I had caught from my daughter. A tickly cough kept me awake at night and it felt like it would never go. As it is that time of year when coughs and colds are rife, and now that I am better, I thought I would post 6 natural ways to soothe a sore throat, things to try if you get struck down by one!
  1. Fluids. In general, it is good to drink plenty for a sore throat. The liquid keeps your throat moist and hot drinks can help soothe inflamation. Frequent sips of water are always recommended.
  2. Sage tea. This is actually a really nice tea, as well as being effective. You can add a little honey if you like. Simply put a pinch of dry sage in your teapot, add boiling water and leave to steep for 5 mins. It should be noted that pregnant women are advised to avoid sage tea.
  3. Salt water. If you can bear it, gargling with salt water several times during the day can ease  discomfort.
  4. Honey and lemon. Always a nice soothing drink and if you believe in the benefits of Manuka honey, use that with the lemon. The lemon helps with eliminating mucus.
  5. Garlic and honey. We keep a jar of this in our fridge. Add a whole head of garlic, finely crushed to a jar of honey and combine well. Spread some on a slice of toast and it is not too unappetising! Garlic contains something called allicin, which helps kill bacteria to fight infections.
  6. Ginger. You could make ginger tea or add some to your honey and lemon drink to benefit from the medicinal qualities of ginger. As with sage, not always advised if you are pregnant.
Do you use any of the above when you get a sore throat? Any other natural remedies you swear by?
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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Do your children get enough daily exercise?

I received a letter from school yesterday explaining that children will be measured and weighed at school in the next month or so and if we have any objections, to let them know. There was a leaflet enclosed on healthy eating and exercise and I was reminded that my son, as a soon-to-be 5 year old, should be getting 60 minutes of exercise a day. It made me stop and think about whether he indeed gets that amount of exercise in a typical day....

According to NHS guidelines, the sixty minutes should comprise of both moderate-intensity activities and vigorous-intensity activities, so things that make your child break a sweat and also that raise their heart rate. (For children under-5, the guidelines are outlined here). There's a useful page listing examples of activities that fall into the two groups. Having a read through, I confess my son probably does not do enough vigorous-intensity activities, definitely not in the winter when our time outside is restricted by bad weather.

The sixty minutes are completely manageable. The moderate-intensity exercise is taken care of with our walks or scooter rides to and from school and my son's time playing outside in the playground, doing PE etc. The vigorous-intensity exercise takes a bit more thought and planning however. If your child does a sport or dance class, that would take care of it. However, on the days they don't, it means trying to incorporate something out and about or at home.

I realise, as a parent, I am much more focused on the healthy eating side to bringing up children with a healthy lifestyle. We walk everywhere (we don't own a car), we like to spend time playing outside in the garden or at parks / in the woods but I admit I probably don't make enough effort to encourage daily vigorous-intensity activities. Something for me to work on!

Do you think your child gets the recommended amount and types of exercise each day? Do you rely on after-school sports and such like for vigorous-intensity exercise?
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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

What do you cook for other people's children?

Now my son is at school, we have entered a new kind of play date. We only have after school as a time to go to friends' houses or have friends over and as late afternoon rolls into early children's dinnertime, dinner is usually part of the play date. Today we are off to a new schoolmate's home and his mother is cooking spaghetti bolognese for the children (always a winner). I am loving the fact that I don't have to plan and prepare dinner as I do usually when my son is at school. Even though I will cook for my husband and I, it will be quicker and easier throwing something together for two non-fussy adult eaters.

Next week we have been invited to another friend's home and children's dinner again offered, this time homemade pizza was the suggestion. We have a friend of my son's coming to our house at the end of this week and I'm planning on doing some kind of pasta dish.

All this makes me reflect on the options when cooking dinner for other people's children. I can't help but think that pizza, pasta and fish fingers are the main options because they cater to most fussy palates and don't have to include any / too many veggies. As a vegetarian who doesn't cook meat for the non-vegetarians in the family, I feel that leaves me with just two options - pizza and pasta. I am seriously contemplating keeping in some fish fingers in the freezer as back-up children's dinner fodder!

It also makes me realise what good eaters I have in my own two children. They are not great with green vegetables but they are always open to trying new foods and will eat most things. Like every other child, they love pasta and pizza but they also really enjoy most of the vegetable dominated meals I prepare for the family and generally eat a good varied diet.

I would loved to proved wrong and for you to tell me there are more dinner options that are popular with most children. What do you cook when you have other people's children over for dinner? What do you suggest I add to my repertoire?
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