No Excuses NOT to Workout

Friday, March 30, 2007

Posted by Susi




Does your favorite excuse to NOT exercise involves being the parent of small children? Well here's some tips get you up and moving.


There are as many roadblocks to fitness as there are benefits to gain from fitness. So figuring out how to motivate yourself past your favorite excuse is beyond beneficial. So if your excuse is "I'm too busy with my kids to workout," it is time to change your tune. I used that excuse for a while, but I soon realized if I weren't "modeling" good health habits for my kids they would have no idea of the value of exercise. I didn't want to fall into the, "Do as I say not as I do" version of parenting.



Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about how to fit in some exercise while hanging with your baby.

When you have a newborn


  • You can do tummy time with your baby. Get down on the floor and get active while your baby fusses over learning this new position.

  • Pack that baby up and go for a stroll since the fresh air is good for you and the baby.


When the baby starts crawling
  • Get down on all fours and explore with your child. You will work your arms and your legs as well as learn the value of sweeping the floor from first hand experience.

  • Carrying your child around like all the Hollywood mommas will definitely get your arms strong and toned. You know...babies can double as weights. Just make sure to alternate arms and keep your tummy pulled up and in to protect your back.


Toddler workout
  • Follow your new walker around and do what they do. Try to do it for 10 minutes. Granted his or her center of gravity is considerably lower so his or her up/down motions are easier. Toddlers also love, LOVE when you imitate them. It will be a nice bonding game as well as a strength training time for you.


The playground at any age even with tots can be quite a workout. Pushing the swing and the merry-go-round can work your arms and burn some calories. I like to add a squat between each push, as well as alternate arms.

So work out with your little ones and you will feel better when they start to work your patience.






Reminder!
Our first event on the Daily Tiffin this month is Show Us Your Lunchbox. Hope you will join us and allow us to peak into your lunch. Deadline April 20th.


Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.


This Post was written by Susi from FitSugar

Roasting Vegetables

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Posted by gilly


As I’ve gotten older, vegetables have become more and more appealing. I no longer groan at green beans, balk at bunches of broccoli, or curse cooked carrots as I did in my younger days. In fact, many days I crave their healthy simplicity, pure taste, and beautiful colours.

I’m fortunate that my husband has become increasingly open to trying new and different vegetables with me when the mood strikes – a long cry from when we first started dating. I attribute his adventurous spirit to the fact that he associates them with a delicious and flavourful experience.

How do I pull that off? Easy. If I have any doubt as to whether or not he’ll enjoy a new vegetable - I roast it.

In my opinion, roasting is one of the most palatable ways of preparing vegetables. It brings out delicious, rich, complex, and concentrated flavours as no other method of preparation does, while preserving appetizing colours and textures. It’s also a cinch.


Selecting and Preparing Vegetables

  • Select a colourful mix to appeal to the eye.
  • Remember: different vegetables have different roasting times, depending on their density. Lighter-weight vegetables such as peppers, asparagus, and green beans do not take as long as root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, and carrots. They can still be roasted together – just add the lighter veggies about 30 minutes after starting the roots – or partially cook root vegetables on the stove top.
  • Veggies with a high water content, such as zucchini or eggplant should be salted first to draw out additional moisture. This will keep them from becoming mushy as they roast.
    Cut similar weight vegetables into equal sized pieces for even cooking. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will roast.
  • Toss veggies in olive oil to prevent sticking, and keep them from drying out under the intense heat. You can also marinade them beforehand using olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy/tamari sauce, and/or other complimentary spices such as rosemary, thyme, chives, salt and pepper.

Preparation

  • Use a heavy pan that is large enough to accommodate all the cut up veggies in a single layer. This will ensure that all vegetables have similar heat exposure, without burning.
  • Use a non-stick pan, parchment paper, or another non-stick surface if possible. This will keep vegetables (and peels) from sticking and coming apart when you toss them, or remove them from the pan.
  • Preheat your oven to quite hot: at least 400°F (200°C).

Roasting

  • Roasting can take anywhere from 20-50 minutes, depending on your selection of vegetables. Be sure to keep your eye on them as they are roasting.
  • Toss at least once during the roast process, but not more than twice preferably.
  • Vegetables around the perimeter of the pan will roast faster than the ones in the center, so be sure to rotate the inside veggies for the outside ones.

Serving

  • Roasted vegetables make a wonderful accompaniment to pasta, rice, polenta, and salads.
  • Roasted veggies make a fantastic pizza topping!
  • Puree roasted vegetables to make flavourful sauces, dips, and spreads.
  • Add roasted vegetables to soups and stews to enhance their taste.

I hope these tips inspire you to roast up some new vegetables, or put a new spin on some of your existing favourites. Until next time, I wish you health, happiness, and balance!





Reminder!
Our first event on the Daily Tiffin this month is Show Us Your Lunchbox. Hope you will join us and allow us to peak into your lunch. Deadline April 20th.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.


This Post was written by Gilly from Humble Pie

Childcare III - Getting the family settled

Posted by Meeta K

Soeren at the Carnival festival at the Kindergarten


Once you have gone through the childcare options and then made your decision, the next few weeks can take some getting used to for the whole family. One of the most important things at this time is establishing a routine. This helps everyone get settled down quickly.

In this last article of my childcare series, you will find a few pointers that might help both mums and children find a positive way to deal with this start in a new routine.


It is often difficult for both child and mother being separated after having spent so much time with each other. However, it is important to give your child positive messages and feelings about this new experience. This will help your child's confidence grow and take things in stride. Keeping a close eye on their progress at this point is also very important. Read the signs and hear what your child says carefully. It will help you judge if they are settling in well.

If you have started work again talk to your employer if it would be possible to start part-time for the first few weeks. This is what I did in the beginning. I worked 4-5 five hours a day and found it gave both me and Soeren more time to adjust to our new routine. We eased him into his new environment and I too was able to deal with the new situation.

When dropping your child off, make a little ritual. A hug, and big kiss and a clear "bye and I''ll be back to pick you up later!" is something I found reassured Soeren everyday that mum will be coming back to get me. Believe it or not Soeren and I still have the ritual. It's just a great way to start the day. More important your child realizes that there is a pattern to this everyday, which helps them immensely.

In the evening get the family together and discuss what happened during the day. Our routine is after dinner we kind of lounge on the sofa and say "so what did you do today!" and we each talk about what the most interesting thing that happened that day. We also ask each other what we had for lunch that day and to end our discussion say what we look forward to the next day. It's a great way to get your child involved in a discussion. Soeren feels really proud to be a part of a discussion and by telling us what he looks forward to the next day he is happy and excited to go back.

I really hope I was able to offer a few interesting examples and useful information for all those parents who are or will be dealing with childcare issues.
Although there was not much feedback on the articles, I do want to tell you this story:

We are currently planning to take Soeren out of Kindergarten and put him into the International School here in Weimar. This will be in September. As I was writing these articles I followed my own advice ;-). Yesterday we had the meeting with the Head Mistress of the school and I found myself looking out for many things I had mentioned in previous post. The fact that I wrote these articles just made me prepared. I knew the questions I wanted to ask and was able to get a very good picture of the school. I chatted with two teachers and was able to see how they interact with the other children.
Now I am starting to prepare Soeren for the change. If you have any tips and suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Have a great week!



Reminder!
Our first event on the Daily Tiffin this month is Show Us Your Lunchbox. Hope you will join us and allow us to peak into your lunch. Deadline April 20th.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.


This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Grandma's Home Remedies

Monday, March 26, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

Photo copyright Meeta Albrecht


Our contributor today is Rakhi Kurup. She wrote to us a while ago sharing a few wonderful remedies for various aches, pains, fever or colds. These remedies come straight from her mum and grandmother and she says "Grandma's medicines do work!"



Tulasi Kashayam

2 Handfuls of tulasi - wash and shred with hands
1 inch ginger - crushed
5 garlic cloves - crushed
little less than 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds - lightly crush
1/2 tsp cumin seeds - lightly crush
one pinch turmeric
10 to 12 whole peppercorns - crushed
2 coffee mugs of water - must be around 2 and a half cups of water

Boil all these preferably in an earthen vessel (we call it mankalam or manchatti) till the 2 glasses of water reduces to 1 glass. Boiling needs to be done at a low temperature. Filter the above and also extract the juice from the left over (i.e. the tulasi, ginger etc. mix the remains once the concoction is filtered). Just squeeze the left overs with your hand. You can have this 3 times in a day (one glass divided into 3 parts) before meals. To sweeten it( if it is difficult to drink otherwise) you can add a piece of jaggery (sharkara in malayalam).

The above mix works when you have a fever and is also good for cold.


Tea

I never drink tea. The only time I drink it is when I have cold and a bad throat.

1 tea bag
ginger half inch - crushed
pepper powder . half teaspoon
water - 1 cup


Boil the water with ginger and pepper powder (at medium or low flame). Remove from stove. Strain it and put in the tea bag, add sugar and drink hot. Having this 3 or 4 times a day, makes the throat feel better.



For colds
I prepare this when I see my kids with a cold. This recipe was given to me by a friend whose husband is a doctor.

Carom seeds - 1 tbsp
garlic - 3 or 4 cloves

Roast carom seeds in an iron pan, make sure you don't burn it. Once the seeds are done, roast the garlic. Allow it to slightly cool. Now take a clean cloth and put the roasted carom seeds and garlic in it. Tie it up. Crush the tied carom seeds and garlic with your hand. Make the child sniff it. My kids hate the smell. I usually make them inhale it when they are sleeping. Don't inhale continuously.


I am sure every one must have a few tips like these not just for sickness but also for acne and face masks. So, share your home remedies with us. A special face mask, a soothing cream for strained muscles. Whatever it is let us know.

Thank you, Rakhi for these wonderful remedies.



Reminder!
Our first event on the Daily Tiffin this month is Show Us Your Lunchbox. Hope you will join us and allow us to peak into your lunch. Deadline April 20th.


Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.


Show Me Your Lunchbox - Deadline Extended

Friday, March 23, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

Our first event on the Daily Tiffin is, as expected, a bit slow. We have 5 entries to date. We also got emails telling us that they wish they had heard about the event earlier. So, we have decided to extend the deadline for "Show Me Your Lunchbox."

As of today the deadline is set for April 20th.

Here's how it works:

  1. Create any kind of healthy and happy packed lunch. It can be a lunchbox, a lunch bag or whatever you use to pack your lunch in. Blog about it anytime from now till April 20th, 2007.
  2. Email your entry with your name, the name of your blog and your permalink by April 20th, 2007.
  3. In your post please include a link to this post, so your readers get an opportunity to take part if they are interested. .
  4. If you do not have a blog, simply email your entry, with a picture (if you would like us to add a picture) to blogmeeta@gmail.com.


Add this event to your Goolge calendar!


So, c'mon people let us have a peak into your packed lunches.

Here is the roundup to this event.


Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Show Me Your Lunchbox

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Posted by Shah cooks


A simple lunch box that was made in a hurry. Just a bagel(a kind of thick bread) with flavored cream cheese and some strawberries and grapes. A box of chocolate milk and some string cheese for a snack and lunch is ready. My son still prefers this to buying from the school and even helps me make it on a harried day.
The cream cheese varies in flavor as per our moods..sweet to spicy to sour.
The recipe for the flavored cream cheese ( walnut and raisin)is described here.

The fruit of the day is a addition to my tiffin posts to highlight one fruit that you may or may not be familiar with and should be there in your child's diet.


Fruit of the day:A kiwi cut up in a small container stays well and provides the daily requirement of Vitamin C. It is a sweetly sour fruit which is best eaten cold, scooped straight out of the shell. It has a unique green color which makes you think it is unripe but the sweetness comes as a surprise.

The kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is a large, woody, deciduous vine native to the Yangtze Valley of China. Seeds from China were taken to New Zealand and planted in 1906. Plants developing from these seeds first fruited in 1910. Commercial planting began in New Zealand in about 1940 and by 1970 there were 900 acres. Commercial planting in California began in the late 1960s.

How to choose a Kiwi:
When selecting kiwifruits, hold them between your thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure; those that have the sweetest taste will yield gently to pressure. Avoid those that are very soft, shriveled or have bruised or damp spots. Kiwis are usually available throughout most of the year.

Store unripe fruit at room temperature until the skin indents slightly when touched. It normally takes 3 to 5 days to ripen kiwis at room temperature. Ripe kiwis can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Place them in a plastic bag to help reduce moisture loss.


Recipes: 1. Cut up a ripe kiwi and sprinkle with sugar to tame the tartness.
2. Cut up some along with other fruits in a fruit salad with ice cream.
3. Try them in a spicy salad with salad greens, green apples, goat cheese, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette.
4. Make a kiwi milk shake for a change. Just blend a 1 kiwi with half a scoop of vanilla ice cream, 1 cup milk and 2-3 tsp of sugar. It is a sweet shake chokeful of calcium and vitamin c.
I recently found a fruit and nut mix at the grocery store which had dried kiwis. They were an amazing blend of fruit candy. It is high in sugar as the drying concentrates the natural sugars but also concentrates the flavors which is endearing.
Do try a kiwi today if you haven't already.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.


This Post was written by Shaheen from Malabar Spices..

Childcare - What To Look For!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

After weighing the different childcare options we as parents have for our children the next step is often considering all the issues involved before making the final choice.

Whether visiting a nursery/Kindergarten, interviewing a nanny or having a meeting with the childminder there are certain specific things that we should look out for.

Nursery/Kindergarten

  • A quiet place/room where the children can have naps or relax.
  • A set and clear daily routine for the children.
  • Children's artwork displayed on the walls.
  • Food and drink. Do children get a well balanced lunch? What are they offered to snack on. Are the drinks offered sugar free and healthy? Have a look at their weekly menu plan.
  • A variety of toys that are clean and help the child develop.
  • An appealing, safe and large outdoor garden or play area.
  • Carers who enjoy being with children and their work. Do they listen and take notice to the children? Do they answer their questions?
  • Children interacting with each other well.
  • Proper feedback from the carers. We need to know what our children do all day.

Nanny

  • Qualifications and experience.
  • References from previous employers. Get written references from the previous employers and even talk to them if possible.
  • Attitude. The nanny should have a cheerful and positive way about her and show real interest in the child's development.
  • The nanny should have a clear idea about how she plans to take care of the child. Give her input for planning a daily routine, food and discipline.


Childminder

  • Registration certification and references from other parents.
  • A clean and attractive home where the children feel comfortable. There should be a park or a garden available where the children can get out during the day.
  • Flexibility. Every child is different and has different needs. How does the childminder manage and approach the children?
  • Routine. Is there a defined routine for the children to follow?
  • Does anyone else live in the house and will they have any kind of interactivity with the child?
  • Does anyone smoke in the house?
  • Are there any pets in the house? (in case the child has allergies etc.)


With these basic thoughts and issues you can easily plan out a checklist and a few questions you would like to ask before you meet with the relevant child-carer.

Resources:
Daycare and Your Kids: What You Need to Know
What questions to ask when choosing a daycare?
Questions to ask yourself

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.






This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?


Show Us Your Lunch Box - Reminder!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

Hi Folks!

Just a quick reminder for our first Daily Tiffin Event Show Us Your Lunchbox.

Create a healthy and well balanced lunch box, lunch bag or lunch packet and let us have a peak into it. Send us your entries by March 20th.

Post it on your blogs and send us the permalink or simply take a picture and tell us about it in an email. When we have enough entries we'll round them up right here on the Daily Tiffin.

Look forward to all your ideas.

Have a great weekend!



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Eating everything on your plate

Friday, March 16, 2007

Posted by Susi


If you're anything like me, and if your parents were anything like mine, then you probably have a major fear of wasting food.

In theory, eating everything on your plate sounds like good economics, but it's not good if you're calorie counting. The thing is, eating the last bites of your kid's chopped up hot dog is not doing anyone any favors, except maybe the person who collects dues at your gym. Consider this: 1/4 of a hot dog is 45 calories and 1/4 of an easy mac package is 57 calories, both of which you are just meaninglessly eating. So steer clear and if it's just too tempting, then give your kids less on their plate and when they ask, give them more.

If you are noticing that you yourself constantly have leftover food on your plate when eating out, then try ordering kids meals or bringing what you can't eat home for leftovers. Since restaurant portions can be huge, try to just eat half of your entrée and save the rest for tomorrow's lunch. This way you probably won't feel bogged down by a heavy meal and you just might have room for dessert.

Also, if you buy something and don't like it, then don't eat it just because you feel like you should. Afraid of wasting? Start composting, it's a great way to throw out food without feeling terrible about it. Still worried about the kids starving in Africa? Then instead of stuffing your face on their behalf, donate money to charitable organizations like ONE, the campaign to make poverty history.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Susi May from FitSugar

Tips for Making Homemade Soup

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Posted by gilly


It soothes us when we are sick. It warms us when we are cold. It is gentle when we want something light and substantially hearty when we need something more. Soup may well be the perfect food.

But to tell the truth, I have always been a bit timid of making my own soup – I figured why mess with perfection. But given the abundance of preservatives and skewed salt content in a typical can of soup, there is a definite advantage intervening and taking control. Chemicals and additives are a far cry from perfection.

Making your own soup is not difficult – it’s more a matter of finding a recipe, reading it carefully, collecting your ingredients, and having a bit of confidence! If you are just starting out – take heart… most soups are prepared in a similar fashion.


General Overview
Soups typically begin by heating oil or butter in a stock pot, and sautéing longer cooking vegetables, such as onions, celery, and carrots. Other herbs and flavourings enriched by sautéing, such as garlic, are also incorporated. Once softened, any other vegetables or meats requiring brief heat are tossed in for a few minutes.

The stock/water/liquid is then added, brought to a boil, and reduced to simmer. Some recipes call for the soup to be covered, others uncovered, and still others partially covered. Be sure to read the recipe carefully.

Once cooled considerably, the soup can then be strained and/or pureed. The soup is either prepared for storage (refrigerator or freezer), or ladled out and served with a garnish.


Other Tips
Although soup making is relatively straightforward, it never hurts to have a couple of tips under your hat:

  • Soups are often viewed as outlets for vegetables that are aging or going bad. Avoid this mindset. Use the freshest ingredients you can – the quality of your soup will be infinitely better for it.


  • Soups often taste better after they have had a chance to let their flavours mingle. Try preparing your soup the day before you plan to serve it.


  • After the sautéing step, be sure to scrap the bottom of the pan prior to adding liquid. The scrapings lend some of the most powerful flavour to the soup.


  • Always simmer – never boil – your soup to its completion. A slow simmer will bring out the truest flavours in your soup. Agitation from boiling can cause ingredients to break up, overcook, and generally cloud the broth.


  • In general, dried herbs and seasonings (like pepper) are added early in the cooking process as they benefit from longer cooking. Fresh herbs and salt are added near the end, and just to taste.


  • If your soup has been over-salted or over-spiced, toss a small peeled potato in the simmering soup for 20-30 minutes. It can help absorb additional salt and spice.


  • If your soup is too acidic (as in a tomato soup), try adding a teaspoon of sugar.


  • There are a few ways to remove additional fat from soup:


    • Move the soup pot half off of the burner while simmering – the fat tends to accumulate onto one side of the pot. Spoon off, or use a paper towel to soak it up.

    • Gather a few ice cubes in cheesecloth, and drag it around the soup as it cooks. The fat will gather on the cubes.

    • Refrigerate the soup. The fat will collect and solidify at the top where it can be easily removed with a spoon.


  • Besides cream and flour, other thickeners to try are mashed white or sweet potatoes, plain yogurt, pureed rice, pureed lentils/beans, rice flours, and cornstarch.


  • If you are going to puree a hot soup with a blender, let it cool a bit first. While blending, keep an air hole open if possible to prevent pressure buildup. The last thing you want is boiling hot soup exploding everywhere!


  • Garnish, garnish, garnish! A little TLC in the form of herbs, croutons, cheese or cream really makes your dish one to savour!



There you have it! Hopefully these hints will have you well on your way to a healthy and delicious bowl of homemade soup. Until next time, I wish you health, happiness, and balance!






Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Gilly from Humble Pie

Aaj dabbe mein kya hai? (Recipe inside)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Posted by Saffron Trail



Dabba in many Indian languages means a 'box'. In India, the word dabba is easily synonymous with a lunch box as in 'Aaj dabbe mein kya hai?' ('What's in your lunch box today' in Hindi)

A peek into my hubby's dabba today - and an entry for the event - Show your lunch box on this blog Daily Tiffin

  • On the left is eggplant-yogurt curry. A large eggplant roasted, skinned and mashed, mixed into fresh homemade yogurt with a 'tarkha' (tadka) of cumin & mustard seeds.
  • To dip into this curry, there are a couple of phulkas, the very thin tortilla like puffed up Indian bread.
  • One boiled potato sauteed with a bunch of fenugreek greens & spices and some instant pickled gooseberries (amla)

Gooseberry pickle

Gooseberries are the ultimate source of vitamin C, better than oranges, lemons and anything else you can think of. That's why since ancient times, Indians have been pickling gooseberries while in season and eating them year round. The pickles were known to maintain the vitamin C content year round.
My version is not the traditional version. This is something you would make in small quantities and finish off within 2-3 days.

Instant gooseberry pickle

You'll need 5-6 gooseberries (amla). Pressure cook them for 2 whistles and on sim for 5 minutes. Once cooker is cooled, remove berries. Quarter them and remove the pith. In a small wok, heat a tbsp of cooking oil. Once warm enough, put in a tsp of cayenne pepper, pinch of turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of fenugreek powder (optional). Mix the spices in the oil and pour the spiced oil onto the quartered fruit. Add a tsp of salt. Toss well and serve immediately. Store left over in the fridge for 2-3 days.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

(This post is written by Nandita of Saffron Trail)

Childcare - Making the choice

Monday, March 12, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

Soeren's Painting - The theme was to paint the Carnival Clown

There comes a point in every parents life when they have to use the resources of a childcare. Whether it is time for mummies to go back to work or your child has reached the age, it is certainly a big step for both - parents and child.

What options do you have, how do you make the right choice and how can you help your child (and yourself) get themselves settled? These are probably the questions that we all ask ourselves at this point.

I know I did when it was time to put Soeren into Kindergarten. I weighed all my options and found out that there were many different types of choices I could make. So, I thought I would share a bit of what I learned during that phase with all of you who might be standing in front of such a decision soon.

This week I have listed a few of the options you might consider. If you have other ideas or have come up with a great childcare idea we would love to hear them. Let us know in the comments section. It might help others who are considering putting their child into childcare.

Childminder
A childminder is a self-employed person who has to be registered with the relevant Government regulatory agencies. References, health, training, police record are all checked thoroughly when a childminder registers. Furthermore, their home is also inspected to make sure it offers a save, friendly and suitable environment for children.

The parent normally brings their child to the home of the childminder and according to the hours agreed on the childminder looks after your child. A childminder can look after children of any ages from toddlers to teenagers. Depending on the country you live in registration regulations only apply to care provided for children under a certain age. In Germany and UK it is under the age of eight. Government regulations also stipulates the number of children a childminder is allowed to look after.

Pros:
They are registered and inspected often
They are experienced child carers
They offer flexible hours
They are cared for in a home environment

Cons:
They often have children of different ages in one group - you must decide if this is suitable for your child.

Day Nurseries/Kindergartens
A Day Nursery/Kindergarten can care for your child all day, depending on your routine this can be part time or full time. They usually have very suitable opening hours - ours is open from 7 am to 6 pm. They provide care and education for your child in a friendly and suitable environment.

Day nurseries/Kindergartens have to be registered with the relevant Government regulatory agencies and are inspected once a year. The staff must be qualified child carers. The day nurseries/Kindergartens vary in sizes. They can have anywhere between 20-60 children, however the groups are often divided according to age groups and follow a Government approved curriculum.

There are different types of day nurseries/Kindergarten:

Private - Independent bodies offering full day care
Community - Run on a not-for-profit basis for local families, making fees lower than the privately owned day nurseries/Kindergartens
Workplace - Employers offering a possibility for staff to send their children to such nurseries, often found on the premises of the workplace
Local Authority - Mainly for family who require financial support


The ages covered vary from place to place - some take babies as young as six weeks others start at 2 years. Most offer places for children up to 6-7, until the child is ready for school.
The Government regulatory bodies have specific ratios for child/staff set for the the age groups. In Europe it is often as follows:

* children under two: 2:1.
* two-year-olds: 4:1
* three- to seven-year-olds: 8:1


Pros:
They are registered and regularly inspected
It is specifically set up for the safety, care and education of children
With a wider span of hours covered, it most probably will fit well into your own routine
Your child is offered a structured learning program by experienced staff
Your child is in a group of children of his/her own age

Cons:
The fees may be high
Sometimes the waiting lists are long
You might have to travel a certain distance
Staff will not care for your child if he/she is ill

Nanny
Nannies take care of your children in your own home and she may or may not have childcare qualifications (this is something you need to check). You are the nanny's employers and will be required to pay her a salary, deduct taxes and offer health insurance.

There are different types of Nannies you can choose from:

Day Nanny - who comes to your home everyday at the hours agreed upon.
Live-in Nanny - lives with you in your home. Here you are required to offer your nanny a private room and food.

Pros
A nanny provides perfectly tailored hours to suit you
She can follow your own lifestyle and childcare routine
Your child remains at home in a known environment

Cons
Nannies are not always trained
They are not registered with Government regulatory bodies
You are responsible for deducting taxes and insurance

You may also have other options to choose for. The cheapest would probably be getting a Grandparent to look after your child. Even this requires some thought as both parties need to be happy with the choices and arrangement.

Next week I'll discuss how best to go about choosing the right childcare for your child, what questions to ask and give you a checklist to make making the choice easier.

Tune in then.

For now I wish you a happy, safe and healthy week.

Resources:
ChildCare.gov - USA
Child Care Aware - USA
ChildcareLink - UK
Advice on choosing childcare - UK
Child Care and Kindergartens - Germany




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Tiffin Tuesday: Get Well Soon Tiffin

Monday, March 05, 2007

Posted by Meeta K



We're slowly but surely recovering from our fight with the flu virus last week. To help us get well soon we are eating a lot of fresh fruit and drinking a lot of herbal tea.

Soeren's lunch box is also full of healthy goodies. A wonderful wrap spread with cream cheese and filled with lettuce, tomatoes, chopped spring onions and smoked salmon with a touch of honey mustard sauce. To wash it down a Danone Strawberry Actimel to help strengthen the body's immunity. Fresh nectarines and apples are the fresh fruity picks of the day. Keeping it fruity we have juicy dried apricots and some healthy prunes. As a treat today I decided to pack a donut.

Hope you enjoyed this lunch box idea and with this I also would like to announce the begin of the first event on the Daily Tiffin. You voted for it here. 83% want events on the Daily Tiffin and so ... drum roll please ... the first event is "Show Us Your Lunch box."

How it works:

1. You have 2 weeks to create a healthy well balanced lunch box. It does not necessarily have to be a kiddies lunch box, it can be your hubby's or your own. It just has to be a packed lunch box that you make at home and take with you to eat elsewhere. The deadline is March 20, 2007.

2. Take a picture of the lunch box and write a bit about what you have packed and why. Attach this to an email and send it to blogmeeta@gmail.com

3. The roundup will be on the following Tuesday. So, go on and Show Us Your Lunch Box!

Wish you a happy, healthy and fun week.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Posted by Susi




As a mother of two small children, I can attest to the fact that the childbearing years are an especially risky time for weight gain. You gain weight when you are prego and have so little free time after the baby is born it is difficult to figure out when to cook, let alone eat healthy, let alone exercise.

Well, a recent study from Harvard has some really easy and doable recommendations for new moms to follow in their quest to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. Which is important to do for a variety of health reasons from taking care of your heart to knee joints.


  • Walk some everyday. Pack that baby up in the stroller, or the Bjorn and take a walk. If you can't walk outside, go to a mall. It is great idea to get out of the house for your emotional health too. If you can manage to walk an hour everyday aim for that. You can always break up your walking time into two 30 minute outings.

  • Watch less than 2 hours of television a day. Don't get sucked into the boob tube while you're feeding your baby. I will admit I made a rule that I couldn't watch ANY TV during the day when my babies were little. If the sun was up the television was off. It might sound extreme but this little rule really helped get me out of my house and active.

  • Limit intake of trans fats. Read those labels - lots of quick easy and child friendly foods, like graham crackers, are still made with trans fats!!!!



The good news is that the combination of these behaviors is additive. Meaning when done all together the new mom has a significantly better chance of losing her "baby weight."

Fit's Tip: If you like to keep track of your walking mileage check out the Strollometer - it is like a pedometer but for your stroller.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Susi May from FitSugar.com

Homemade Butters: Go Nuts!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Posted by gilly


You need not look far to find the numerous health benefits of nuts and seeds. This high profile item has gained a lot of media attention in recent times. Gone are the taboos of being a fattening food in a fat-reducing society – rather, nuts are now being praised for their high proportion of healthy fats, their convenience, and their satiating qualities – making them an excellent dietary staple.

With all of this publicity, it’s natural to assume that if nuts are so good for us, then derivatives such as nut butters, must tout those same benefits. One must be careful though - this is not often the case. In fact, a quick ingredient scan of your beloved jar of peanut butter may surprise you.

Commercial peanut/tree nut/seed butters (like other commercial products) are notorious for adding sugar, salt, hydrogenated oil, and other chemicals to extend shelf life. The processing of these products not only severely diminish, negate, or counteract the health benefits, but the taste and quality of the product are also compromised. The actually nutty flavour becomes secondary to sweetness or saltiness or worse – chemical aftertaste.

Fortunately, natural peanut/tree nut/seed butters (whose sole ingredient is peanuts/tree nuts/seeds) have made their way into the mainstream. By contrast, these products offer a rich and pure flavour and texture. Often times, a few tastes can win over even the staunchest of commercial PB addicts.

As convenient as buying natural peanut/tree nut/seed butters can be, it’s not often available everywhere, and sometimes can be a bit pricey. Making your own homemade peanut/tree nut butter is a great way to stock a delicious, simple and nutritious snack – one you can feel good about serving to your loved ones.

What you will need:
A baking sheet
A food processor
A spatula
A quantity of peanuts/tree nuts/seeds – shelled, unsalted, and raw preferably.
Complementary oil (optional)
Additional garnishes/flavours (optional)

Step 1: Toasting
My favourite way to prepare raw nuts/seeds is to toast them. Toasting brings out a deeper, earthier flavour (and aroma) and makes for delicious butters. Toasting nuts/seeds using the oven is best done through lower temperature, and frequent stirring. The low temperatures keep the nuts from toasting too quickly (and developing a bitter, ‘overdone’ taste), and stirring them around insures evenness.

As far as quantity goes, it’s a personal preference. In my experience, I prefer not to toast any more than can be handled in one batch through the food processor. One to two (1-2) cups is generally quite a bit - these butters contain no additives, and thus have a limited ‘shelf life’. If you go through peanut/tree nut butter really quickly, you may consider making larger quantities.

Take your peanuts/tree nuts/seeds and spread them out in a single layer on your baking sheet. Place in an oven that has been preheated to ~275F/135C. You will want to keep your eyes on them – peanuts begin by ‘sweating’ oil a bit, while other nuts do lend much visual indication. Stir and flip the nuts regularly to prevent overcooking one side. Once you begin to smell a delightful nutty scent, they are well on their way to being done and must be checked frequently. It can be hard to determine doneness visually, particularly with almonds and other darker nuts, but 20-30 minutes is the limit of what you need.

If you have nuts like hazelnuts in which removing the skin is important – you can rub the roasted nuts between a tea towel to remove the skins.

Step 2: Processing
Using an oven mitt and spatula, gently guide the toasted nuts from the baking sheet into your food processor (equipped with a rugged chopping blade). The heat from the toasted nuts/seeds will aid in the processing. Once the processor has been secured with a lid (as per manufacturer’s instructions), put the processor on high continuous speed. The nuts/seeds will first grind up into chopped nuts. You may want to stop and reserve some of these nuts to create a ‘crunchy’ butter. Continue processing – a dry powder will develop. From here, there is a minute or two lapse in which very little appears to be happening, but eventually a huge ball will form and begin rolling around the processor. If the ball looks extremely dry, or does not hold together, you may wish to add a small amount of canola, peanut, sesame or other complimentary oil to dampen – though I rarely find that I need to do this. Continue processing, and watch as the ball breaks down into a smooth, thick consistency. You’ve made it!

Step 3: Additional Garnishes/Flavours
Now that you have your delicious nut butter, you may wish to add in nice compliments such as reserved chopped nuts, a swirl of homemade jam – or in the case of hazelnut butter, some melted chocolate to produce a Nutella-style treat!

Step 4: Refrigerate
As mentioned above, the shelf-life of homemade peanut/tree nut/seed butters is extremely limited because there are no additives so you will want to keep your homemade treat in the refrigerator, and use it up within a few weeks.

Extra Points
Another point is that homemade and natural nut/seed butters have the tendency for the oil to separate – if you’ve bought it before, you’ve seen this. I find that storing the container upside-down helps keep the oil layer from developing on the surface that you are sinking your knife into – as well as preserving the even oil to solids ratio of the butter.

One more thought – due to the increasing severity of peanut/tree nut allergies among the general population, you may need to be diligent about sending treats like this to school with youngsters, or in your own lunch at your workplace.

There you have it – fresh, delicious, homemade peanut/tree nut/seed butter.

As always, I wish you health, happiness and balance!


Gilly’s Tiffin (Thursday)


  • Leftover green bean and mushroom stirfry with sliced almonds and sesame seeds

  • Wild rice

  • Baby carrots and a sliced Royal Gala apple with homemade peanut butter to dip







Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Gilly from Humble Pie