Children

5 ways to get more greens in your diet (2)

It has been said a million times that the Nigerian diet leans very heavily towards carbohydrates, even as the world moves away and eats less. While I am an advocate for not banning carbohydrates completely from our diets, I do have to agree that we need to #lesshandsmall and reduce the quantity we eat.

This post has a lot of Instagram pictures from several Nigerian Food Bloggers. Feel free to click the “Follow” button on any of the pictures below. You will find it on the top right hand side of the photo. Seriously, you need to follow for inspiration!

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Sugar for kids

Last week, my friend sat across from me and said  “It doesn’t matter if you give children sodas (a.k.a. minerals or soft drinks), as they sometimes need sugar to boost their energy levels”. I hear that a lot. Or variations of that kind of statement. The most ridiculous one has to be that ice-cream is a “healthy snack” because it at least contains milk.

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Healthy School Lunch Pesto Pasta Nigeria

My daughter now has to stay in school for an extra hour after closing time so that she can participate in extra-curricular activities.  For me, that means giving her an even more substantial meal because that extra hour means that she will be spending lunch time in school and will be starving by the time she gets home.

A good choice for a filling meal is Pasta and rather than just regular pasta, whole wheat pasta is sooooo much better.

That is the inspiration for today’s Healthy School Lunch Idea.

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Today is Healthy Monday! Yay!

Today, let’s speak on a subject that affects you and I – labelling!

My daughter was given a pack of biscuits which I found (intact) in the car. It was one of these really cheap biscuits that you can purchase for about NGN10. Even though I knew not to expect much, I took a look at the packaging to read the ingredients list. Before I could do that though, this caught my eye:

Biscuit Front

1 Pack = 1 glass of milk*

I was intrigued! Really? I could eat this and literally not need to drink milk? These had to be healthy biscuits!! But then, notice the asterisk? Not a lot of people usually do. I turned the pack around to find what it meant:

*One pack of 33g Milk Biscuits has Calcium equal to 175ml glass of milk

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The summer break is almost over and my daughter is due to go back to school soon.

Beyond clothing and books, an important part of getting ready is ensuring that she has the right tools to take the right foods to school.

As you know, we try to eat healthy and this is also true of most of the foods that she eats at school. However, it can be a daunting task to pack up healthy foods for school. Especially with a child like mine that actually likes to eat cucumbers, tomatoes and other perishable veggies and fruits. 

To give a good picture of our challenges, you will need to know that her lunch bag is packed just before 0600hrs and the food has to stay fresh for at least 6 hours from that time. She eats at about 0900hrs and again around 1100hrs. Sometimes, she leaves some things until after school and eats them in the car on the way back. So, there needs to be a solution for keeping some food cold and keeping some warm.

Water

She has run through all of her water bottles now. It is either they break or she misplaces them. They look like this:

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My criteria for choosing water bottles is that it must be easy to wash thoroughly. No parts should be a hard to reach or built in such a way that they are not easily dismountable. I do not allow straws because they are hard to clean and an easy vehicle for bacteria.

These bottles are built for water as I do not typically give my daughter juice for school. Juice will need a Thermos and that is something I do not have right now.

I usually buy these simple water bottles at Iponri Market. However, it is so difficult to find BPA free ones that have no straws, without walking around the market for at least 15 minutes, that I am going to buy them on Amazon this time. #Aintnobodygottimeforthat

Hot Foods

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We have had this (the pink one on your right) for 2 terms now. I bought it at Iponri Market and while they are quite good at keeping food warm, my challenge has been that it is a bit too wide for her lunch bag and school bag.

I am now going to purchase this model as it is longer and not as wide as the aladdin food flask. 

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It is a Thermos so I can still expect it to keep food warm. The downside is that it has no compartments, so that means that we will only do soups and one plate meals in them. Shouldn’t be a problem at all!

Dry snacks and Fruits/General Hold all

I have just purchased this.  It is not even here yet, so I can’t take a picture of mine, hence the stock photo. There are 3 sections, one large one to the left and 2 smaller ones to the right. The bowl is leak proof from section to section so I can pack things like crackers, tomatoes, carrots and even a little yoghurt in there…all in different compartments at the same time.

It is quite easy to clean and also quite cheap at approximately $6.

 Ice Packs

This is essential for keeping fruits and other perishables cold until my daughter can eat her snacks. I had to stop giving her bananas because they would just go soft and inedible in the humid darkness of her bag before lunch time. I have several ice-packs and move them from freezer to bag. These (pictured above) are the type I have. They are bendable which enables me to wrap them around the Ziploc bowls as I wish.

You can buy ice packs in most pharmacies. They typically have the ones in rigid plastic though…not flexible like the ones I use.

Insulated Lunch bag

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To put all these things in, we have this bag which I bought online at Land’s End.  This will then be placed in her bag…yes the current one is big enough to hold it all. 

That is it for now. Cutlery is plastic cutlery that I bought from Ikea years ago. We are going through it one spoon and fork at a time. When it runs out *a.k.a all misplaced* I will buy another one.

When school opens, I will share with you what actually makes up school lunch. 

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I wrote in this post how much my daughter wanted to have long flowy hair like her Caucasian friends’.

I am pleased to provide a positive update on the situation. My daughter not only accepts her hair as being natural, she now loves the texture. Her only wish is that it would grow longer, faster. I can only guarantee that I will do all I can to make it healthy – I should do on a post on how that is going (not as well as I would like, sigh!).   

So how did we achieve this change of heart?

  • I speak to her constantly about accepting her hair amongst other things. I don’t just dump the information on her. I gently and consistently give her several reasons why SHE is beautiful the way she is. 
  • I bought her a DVD (Happy to Be Nappy) which tells stories that  make even an adult stop to think. It helps one accept people and things for what they are. The fact that she watched it over and over and over and over showed that she loved it. By the way, what I loved most about it was that it did not focus on only Natural hair but spoke about other things like how to deal with people poking fun of you, or how a child that is born with dwarfism yearns to be seen as normal too. It was totally worth the money I spent on it.

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  • I don’t know if this helped, but her Aunts went natural too. Both my sisters BC’d in the last few months.
  • Last, and I suppose most important of all, is that my girl is growing up. She has started accepting that Caucasians and Blacks are different in some ways and will always be. 

It is time for children to go back to school and it just occurred to me that I can kill two birds with a stone by discussing lice. It will be a good segue from the last post – remember that scary picture of the louse holding tight to a strand of hair? It will also be a good Back-to-School post in keeping with the season.

I found out a few years that using relaxers on the hair checks the growth of lice as the relaxer kills them off.  For those of us with natural hair, we have to be extra careful to avoid getting lice in the first place. Have you seen lice/nit combs before?

See the difference between a wide toothed comb (which is what is recommended for natural hair) and the nit comb.

 It is not a joke…I have no doubt that folks especially those with natural hair will lose a lot of hair if this comb us used to comb through their hair.

Here are a few tips that may be helpful.

Essential Oils

Lice hate some essential oils – perhaps Rosemary most of all. To use this, put a few drops into the shampoo, conditioner or even oils that you use on your children’s hair (boys and girls alike).  Essential Oils are potent things and should be used carefully especially where children are involved. I would use no more than 5 -7drops in 100ml of carrier oil, shampoo, conditioner or whatever medium you choose to use. Don’t feel tempted to be generous. Another essential oil you may use is Eucalyptus. A combination of both is also quite good. 

Cleanliness

Never share combs, especially with the public. If you go to salons, take your own combs. It is easy and cheap enough to buy your own set. If you have a stylist who diligently disinfects her tools after each use, lucky you. However, I find that this is not usually the case. Your children should have a salon bag with all the essentials in it.

Regular Checks

Regularly part your child’s hair to check for lice eggs and adult lice. There is an assumption that the presence of lice will cause incessant itching/scratching. That is not always the case so find the time to search through their hair. Do this in a well lit room. Use a flashlight if necessary.  Check eyebrows too.

Preventive Treatment

You can still carry out preventive treatment by following the advice in a link I will put at the end of this post.

If your child has lice, it is really your responsibility to do something about it immediately. If possible, pull that child out of school so that you can treat that child without infecting others.

Good resource: http://www.parentinghints.com/head_lice.html

I really want to know what you think about this one:

I was listening to the World Have Your Say podcast on the BBC website a few days ago. The topic of discussion was: How many children are too many children? (Link is only temporary). Guess where they shot the program? Lagos Island Maternity Hospital – go figure! They are not-so-subtly telling us something about the Nigerian population.

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Anyway, this topic stemmed from the much discussed 7 billion population mark the world achieved recently. The presenter gathered a few women who had just given birth as well as a doctor and a nurse and a listener posed a few questions. I found them entertaining (considering the Nigerian way of thinking) and would like to throw them to you. I have paraphrased them, of course.

  1. Did you consider the impact on the nation’s economy when you planned to have children?
  2. Did you consider the impact on the country’s resources when you planned to have children? Do you think there a moral obligation on you to have fewer children because of scarce natural resources like energy, water e.t.c?
  3. Did you consider the Nation’s population growth when you decided to have children?

Interestingly, someone wrote into the show and stated: I think more than 2 kids per family is irresponsible. 2 kids per family is fair, two kids to take their parent’s spot in the world.  

I consider myself an educated Nigerian and I cannot say that I would ever have considered these questions when planning to have children. My biggest worry would be my ability to financially cater for the number of children that I plan to have. As a Nigerian, I assume I am able to capably emotionally cater for them. I may think about the nation’s population but because the country is already somewhat expensive to live in and rear children, any urge to generously contribute to that figure would have been naturally curtailed.

Your take?

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A few years ago, a friend drew my attention to a really sad story.  Her neighbour had gone to an orphange, adopted a young girl (about 9 years old) with the promise to love her and treat her as one of her own and then brought her home to act as an unpaid housemaid.

This woman had about 6 grown children who had moved out of the house. Most were married and had their own children. It was thought that the reason why she adopted was not only to have company in her old age, but also to help a child in need. She enrolled the girl into a public school (her children had attended expensive private schools) near her house and then set her to work as a cleaner, dishwasher and laundress. Naturally, her duties extended to cleaning up and taking care of any visiting grandchildren. After a short while, she stopped attending school and started facing her tasks at home fully. According to my friend, this went on for about 18months and then she suddenly stopped seeing the young girl in the area.  She believes that she went back to the orphanage but is not sure.

My friend’s greatest regret is that she stood by and watched things unfold and did nothing. She feels that at the very least she could have approached this woman and threatened to report the situation. According to her, it was her lack of belief that the Nigerian Police would do anything constructive that stopped her.

I watched the CNN Freedom Project documentaries the other day and couldn’t help but think that a lot of the people that make a difference are ordinary folks like you and I.

A lot of housemaids in Nigeria are little more than slaves and forced to work under inhuman conditions. Some are even raped by several members of the family they work for. If you know anyone that is maltreating a housemaid or someone in their care, please report it to NAPTIP or  to the police. If you are doing maltreating anyone please stop.

Let us stop modern day slavery in Nigeria. You and I know that it happens.

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