9 Wonderful Benefits of Pediatric Massage

Some of my fondest childhood memories were doing massage and back tickle trains with my parents and siblings. Loving touch in our family was always promoted and gave us all a sense of comfort and closeness growing up. This is definitely what drove my ambitions to become a massage therapist and why I continue to share the wonderful human connection that touch can give.

When my first daughter was born in 2007, her great Ama came to visit. She brought all herkai and Cy Ped massage oils and within minutes of meeting her, began massaging our sweet baby. She taught me about the traditional Indian massage that is commonly practised on babies when they are born. After her visit, I began massaging my daughter every evening, creating a beautiful routine, that still continues today.

Later that same year, I began my training to become a massage therapist. The more I learned about the benefits of massage, the more massage grew into my greatest passion. Being a new mom, I identified most with massage for infants, children, pre natal and post natal health and wanted to develop a specialization in those areas. In the early part of my career, I worked with lots of new moms and their babies, teaching one-on-one classes in the treatment room, as well as group classes at the YMCA and AHS centres around the city. The families I worked with loved the new skill that could help them bond, nurture, and calm their infants. Recently, I was apart of the Pediatric Integrative Medicine Trial at the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton. As part of a team of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, we were worked with infants and children in oncology, general pediatrics, and cardiology.

Doing massage on my children and clients, as well as teaching parents about massage on their children truly enriches me, as I see positive outcomes in both the short and long term treatment of our most precious beings.

Benefits of Pediatric Massage:

  •  Naturally rewarding way for both you and your children to relieve stress.
  • Effective treatment to offer relief of discomfort from constipation, colic, and gas by helping aid digestion.
  •  Improves the infants or child’s delicate immune system by decreasing the body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that takes a toll on immune functioning.
  •  Causes the release of oxytocin, which is a nurturing hormone to reduce anxiety and helps infants and children relax.
  • Better sleep quality and easier time falling asleep
  • Helps to increase circulation, increase alertness and enhance nervous system, neurological and intellectual development.
  • Massage improves communication, by increasing confidence and sensitivity to their cues.
  • Parents who massage their infant are able to build a greater bond, as it gives them time to interact and connect on a deeper level then regular day‐to‐day contact provides. (Massage time is when my daughter talks fully about her thoughts and feelings vs the one word conversations that typically take place over the dinner table).
  • I also feel massage is very important for teaching babies and children what positive, nurturing touch feels like, so they can then differentiate between that and negative touch.

For more information on Pediatric Massage or to book an appointment please email me at info@shaktihealth.ca

or check out my events  page for upcoming classes.

STAY TUNED FOR EXCITING BABY MASSAGE NEWS COMING THIS FALL!

Decadent Power Balls

Packed full of TONS of superfoods, protein, and both slow and quick digesting  carbohydrates, these delicious little balls of goodness make the perfect mid day snack for you or wonderful addition to a school lunch for your kiddos, rather then a sugar filled granola bar or other alternative to keep fuelled and energized. They also make a perfect pre or post workout snack– I couldn’t wait to pop one (or two) in my mouth after my morning run today!

Makes approx.8- 10 balls (depending on size)

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 dried Medjool dates- pitted (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup almond/cashew butter,or sunflower seed butter if your childs’ school is “nut free”. (I like “Nuts to You Nut Butters”, but you can use your favourite brand)
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like “vega” sports performance protein for a vegan option or “Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion Blend, if not vegan)
  • 1/2 cup Gluten Free Oats (I like “Only Oats”)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulverize dates until a ball is formed.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, processing on high/medium until mixed thoroughly.
  3. Roll mixture into 1-1.5″ balls
  4. On a parchment lined plate or baking pan, place balls and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Vegan “Cheesy” Cauliflower Soup

Now that cauliflower prices are back below $11 a head, we can feed our kiddies this family favourite , scrumptious “Cheesy” Cauliflower Soup. Even our recently picky 9 year old gobbles it up! I like to cook it in my crockpot, so that it is ready to serve when I finish up work. YUM!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (chopped- including stem)
  • 4 carrots (chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or more if you like extra cheesy flavour)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • water, to thin if desired (about 1/2 cup)

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Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425F. Melt coconut oil and shake it with chopped cauliflower and carrots to coat.
  2. In a large roasting pan, roast carrots and cauliflower for 40 minutes or until vegetables start to brown.
  3. Meanwhile….On low/medium heat sauté onions in coconut oil on a large skillet until caramelized (golden brown-approx. 8 minutes)
  4. Add celery and garlic. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add all vegetables to blender with vegetable broth (split into 2-3 batches to prevent splatter.
  6. Pour mixture into crockpot and add cumin, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper.
  7. Heat on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8.
  8. Add up to 1/2 a cup of water to this the soup, if needed. (I personally prefer mine thick)
  9. Serve hot and enjoy.

TIP: Substitute 2 small heads of broccoli for the cauliflower to make a yummy “cheesy” broccoli soup instead! A great way to get the kiddos to eat their greens. 

 

Roasted Beet and Chickpea Hummus

This delicious and beautiful savoury hummus recipe will be sure to delight your senses and is packed full of an array of nutritious ingredients to make you feel great about what you are putting in your body.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized purple beets (peeled and chopped into 1″ squares)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 14oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp “Sriracha” hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish:  I use walnuts and arugula or pea shoots.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Melt coconut oil and shake beets in it to coat them. Place beets in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes or until browning on the edges, turning half way through the cook time. Set aside to cool.
  2. In food processor add all the ingredients including the cooled beets and puree until smooth. I like mine a little chunky, but you can decide the texture that you like the best.
  3. Garnish with a handful of walnuts and some greens and serve.

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Tip: This is a perfect dish to add to a charcuterie platter or just with a side of rice crackers and veggies.

Mindfullness Jar

This is a beautiful gift to give your children, friends, and family, or even for your own stocking this Christmas.

When you are feeling frustrated, angry, sad, and stressed you can shake the jar. At first the sparkles scatter and move rapidly throughout its core, representing the thoughts in your mind when we enter a place of stress. But as you set it down, taking full deep breaths, its sparkles soon begin to float delicately and slowly, and as they begin to settle, so does your heart and your mind. You are able to go to a place of calm, hitting the reset button, so you can continue to nurture yourself throughout the day.

This recipe was adapted from the book “Moody Cow Likes To Meditate” by Kerry Lee McLean. One of my favourite books for teaching children (and grown ups) how they can change their response to the the world around them with meditation.

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Ingredients:

  • 500ml Mason Jar
  • Craft paper (any design that you love)
  • gorilla glue (so your jar doesn’t open up)
  • water
  • craft sparkles
  • vegetable glycerin (found at most health food stores and pharmacies,usually in the first aid section)
  • dish soap

Directions:

  1. Fill Jar 3/4 full of warm tap water
  2. Fill the rest of the jar with glycerin and 4 drops of dish soap, leaving a bit of room.
  3. Shake jar allowing the glycerin to dissolve.
  4. Add sparkles and shake until all clumps have dispersed.
  5. Trace smaller lid insert on paper. Cut out paper and place decorated side up onto your lid.
  6. Apply a bit of “gorilla glue” around the lid ring and twist it on.
  7. Allow time for glue to set.
  8. Enjoy the beauty and relaxation benefits of your new mind jar!

Ginger Spiced Dehydrated Apples

The incredible bounty of apples this time of year has me knees deep in coring, peeling, and finding all the creative ways to eat them all up. Apples are incredibly versatile, I use them in soups, sauces, salads, desserts, ciders, etc. The possibilities are truly endless! However, you don’t have to make it complicated. This easy recipe makes a delicious snack perfect for packing in the kiddo’s lunch kits, taking on a gorgeous fall hike, or if you’re like me…popping them in your mouth, anytime you set eyes on them!

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Tools:
Apple Corer
Dehydrator
*If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use your oven, parchment paper, and a cookie sheet.

Ingredients:

15-20 apples (thats how many fit in a batch in my dehydrator)
1 heaping tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/2 tbsp. Grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (“braggs” is my favourite)

Directions:

  1. Wash, remove core, and thinly slice apples.
  2. In a large bowl put apple slices, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, all spice, and ginger.
  3. Shake until apples are coated as evenly as possible.
  4. Lay apple slices in a single layer in food dehydrator. Set on135F for 7 hours. (8 hours if you like them extra crunchy)Alternately, if you do not have a food dehydrator, you can bake them in the oven on 2 parchment paper lined ,large, cookie sheets. Bake at 200F for 2hours and 45 minutes or an extra hour if you like them extra crunchy.
  5. Store in a glass container in cupboard for up to 1 week or in refrigerator for up to 1 month. Or enjoy immediately.*TIP: I like to add them as salad toppers or as a side on a charcuterie board!

Roasted Squash, Apple, and Caramelized Onion Soup

This savoury soup will warm your soul on a crisp fall day. With fragrant herbs, fresh picked apples, creamy autumn squash, and toasted nuts and seeds, this nutrient dense soup will help to boost your immunity and provide you with many other health benefits. You are definitely going to want to go back for seconds.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 apple
  • 6 cloves of garlic (I love garlic)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves (extra for garnish, if desired)
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1L of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of pecans
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper

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Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 400F. Slice acorn and butternut squash length wise. Scrape out seeds with a spoon. Brush olive oil over the flesh of your squash. generously sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Add 1-2 sprigs of thyme on top of each half of squash. Flesh side up, bake on a cookie sheet for approx. 1 hour or until you can easily put a fork through and the edges start to brown. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is baking, heat a pan on low/medium heat. Add onion rings, apples. garlic, sage, and 1 tbsp coconut oil. Sauté until onions and apple brown, stirring frequently. If burning occurs, lower heat. Set aside.
  3. In large pot, add vegetable broth and can of coconut oil. Once cooled, scrape out flesh of squash and add it to broth/coconut milk mixture. Add caramelized onion/apple mixture.
  4. Simmer mixture on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
  5. With an immersion blender or counter top blender (being careful not to fill to high- I usually split it into 3 batches to blend), blend your soup until it becomes creamy and there are no chunks left.
  6. lightly toast pumpkin seeds and pecans on a cookie sheet (approx. 5 minutes, stirring occasionally)
  7. Enjoy sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and pecans, and topped with couple sage leaves.

**We cut up a few extra apples and multigrain crackers to have on the side to dip into our soup.

Beets and Bourbon Salad

If you want to get the man in your life to eat more greens, just add bourbon. This fresh, delicious and beautiful salad is a hit at my house.

Dressing 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like “Braggs”) 
  • tsp. dijon mustard
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Recipe:

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender, blend until creamy.

Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 purple beets
  • 2-3 golden beets
  • 1-2 small zucchini(s)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2-3 tbsp goat cheese
  • small handful of pea shoots
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups mixed greens lettuce
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil

Recipe:

  1. Peel and chop beets into bite size pieces. Shake in 1 tbsp coconut oil. Bake on 425F for 30 minutes; stirring at about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Slice Zucchini length wise creating strips, and onion into rings, shake in 1/2 tbsp melted coconut oil. Grill on medium. Set aside.
  3. lightly toast pumpkin seeds in oven (about 5 minutes at 425F)
  4. Toss greens in Bourbon Dressing.
  5. top with zucchini and onion, then beets. Top with crumbled goat cheese, pea sprouts, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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*Bourbon Dressing adapted from “The First Mess”

Traditional Dhal and Sautéed Garden Veggies

Traditional Dhal

This is a traditional South African/Indian Dhal recipe handed down to me from my daughter’s amazing Amma. This dhal is my go-to comfort food. Packed full of tons of healing foods, spices, and generations of love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 3/4 medium pot of water (to boil peas)
  • 1/2 cooking onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies (broken in half)
  • bunch of cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  1. Boil yellow split peas or lentils, with salt, curry leaves, and turmeric. Once boiled, bring mixture down to low/medium heat until split peas are fully cooked and the consistency has thickened.
  2. Sauté chopped onion &  finely chopped garlic cloves in coconut oil for about 2 minutes
  3. Add black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chillies.
  4. Let that cook for about 2 minutes
  5. Pour in the split pea mixture and let simmer for about 10 minutes
  6. Add some water (if needed) depending on the thickness you desire
  7. After it’s cooked, add some chopped cilantro to taste

Sautéed Garden Veggies

Nothing beats fresh vegetables from the garden. I absolute love this season and the bounty of beautiful nourishment that it brings. This simple recipe only takes a few minutes to make, but will keep you feeling good all day.

Ingredients:

  • Bunch of rainbow chard
  • 1 zucchini
  • 3 dates
  • tbsp olive oil
  • tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2  cloves garlic (minced)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Chop rainbow chard and slice zucchini to desired size
  2. De-seed dates and slice
  3. Add all ingredient to pan and sauté on medium heat until desired texture

THIS IS WHO I AM- The struggle for perfection and the female athlete triad

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Reading through my fitness magazines I always feel bombarded with the message that the ideal female is ultra lean, big breasted, and in top physical form. This so called perfection however is not real. I wanted to let you in on a little secret; even those photos of me on this site were only what I looked like for a very short period of time. The appearance of physical perfection was not that at all. I want you to know, that even I struggle with body image, that I sometimes don’t follow all the “rules”, and that my decision to take on that appearance had its consequences. We are all human, we all have our stuff, and I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences I can help you reach your goals, and prevent you from making my mistakes.

​It all began when I started dieting down for the INBF show in August of 2011. My body was already physically fatigued from the stressors of day-to-day life as a full-time working mom and I had just barely recovered from a summer cold. I didn’t feel like the diet or added training effected me at all. I felt like I had lots of energy and was thrilled with the way my body was changing. At only a 1-2 lb. loss/week the change in body weight wasn’t even that drastic, however come September my menstrual period didn’t come. I disregarded this period loss as a normal fact of the competition scene, not really realizing the health issues that come along with it. As training continued, again, I felt great. I looked better then ever, and I was feeling strong and athletic. I was at the top of my game, but still, no periods.

​The Female Athlete Triad had taken its place in my life. Others around me could see I was overtraining, and I know deep down, I knew that too. But I saw the end in site, and figured as soon as I was finished competing everything would go back to normal. It didn’t. Post competition I didn’t have a period for two more months. I started taking herbs, going for acupuncture, reducing my training time, eating a well-rounded diet again, and going for bowen to try to regain menses. After a month of treatment, I got one period. Then again 6 weeks later, I got another. After that, my body weight returned to 15lbs higher then what it was during competition and I reduced my treatments again, thinking things were going back to normal. Again, I lost my period for 3 more months. Wanting to fix the problem, so that my partner and I could start trying to conceive, I decided it was time to get my hormones checked. After doing so, I found out my estrogen was low and my progesterone was especially low, and that I most likely was not even ovulating at all.

​I started incorporating more estrogen and progesterone forming foods into my diet, and trying to reduce stress in other areas of my life. A few more months went by and my period still hadn’t come. But to our delight, it was because we were pregnant. But shortly after finding out, I was exhausted. This is a usual result of the first trimester, but I was BEYOND exhausted. After doing my blood work at 8 weeks, I found out that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was too high. My adrenals were so fatigued trying to make that pregnancy happen, and eventually my hormone levels couldn’t keep up with the task. At nine weeks, I miscarried. The delight and excitement that warmed my entire being was taken away from me and I was left staring at a black and white screen at my empty womb.

When I got home, I sunk into a vast hole of self-pity, drinking wine to subdue my sadness. I decided to REALLY slow down this time and put a hold on all the things I had deemed urgent matters before and took a month to just be. After that month, I was ready to be me again. The real me, not the “perfect” me I thought I should be, but the me with flaws. The me that doesn’t have to do it all. The me that can miss a workout and not beat myself up, the me that can spend a night watching “Ellen” clips on “You Tube” lying on the couch. I have realized that I am not perfect all the time in the way that society deems perfect, but I am who I am supposed to be, and I do my best with what I have. That’s not to say, I don’t wake up some mornings and wish I could have that great six-pack that you see in my pictures. However, when my mind starts to travel down that path, I am reminded that the best goal in life is to be healthy and happy with the person I am inside and outside.

​As I am learning to, I hope you can love who you are this moment. To continue to grow and succeed in your goals, and to do so in a way that you are gaining a positive result in all areas of your life, not just in your reflection.

​If you think you may be over training, or have any symptoms of the female athlete triad. Please talk to your doctor, myself, or any other health care provider that can guide you back towards a healthy lifestyle.