What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Kids Sunscreens…

Summer On The Dock

I had no idea when I first became a parent of the variety of ingredients in kids sunscreens and how scary some of them could be.

And then one July day when my daughter was 2 she experienced a serious allergic reaction to a conventional sunscreen. Her wee body swelled terribly and turned beet red. Frightening.

Categorized by doctors as a ‘hyper allergic reaction’ it was something I never wanted to experience again.

And so the label-reading and researching began. The sunscreen that caused the reaction turned out to be a chemical stew. Try to find out what your child is allergic to when there are multiple potential culprit ingredients,  It included some likely suspects including oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate, isobutane, synthetic fragrance and homosalate. Enough to make a new mom cringe and her baby’s skin crawl.

The bottom line is I wish I had known before I slathered my first born in sunscreen that it could be much worse in many ways than what I was trying to guard her against.

Now I choose ONLY mineral-based sunscreens. Not only did my daughter have a reaction to the chemical-based stuff but in all my research I found concerns of endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity and cancer associated with commonly used synthetic sunscreens ingredients. Horrific for any parent to think of.

Only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide cut the mustard now. These minerals create a physical barrier and are not relying on chemical UV absorbers to do the work. As a bonus they do not sting eyes as do the chemical sunscreens and you don’t have to wait any length of time before going in the sun. Once applied, you are good to go.

Although there are MANY fabulous, SAFE sunscreen brands as per the Environmental Working Group, I do have my favourites that have served my extremely sensitive, allergic daughter well over the past few years:

Dr Robin For Kids SPF 30



Best For: Super-sensitive-skinned, allergy or eczema-prone kids. No synthetics, no nut or seed ingredients, no fragrance or gluten. Bonus: It’s formulated by a pediatric dermatologist.



Thinkbaby SPF 50 / Thinksport kids SPF 50



Best For: Sensitive and allergy-prone kids who like a little bit of scent. Still safe but yummy, all-natural scent.  My allergy-prone daughter is crazy for this stuff now.






Best For: Babies and very fair-skinned wee ones. Best to stay out of the sun of course but if you must, this super-safe, unscented formula offers a great physical barrier.


Good news is that there are lots of great sunscreens.  Do you homework here and make sure to choose something super-safe. You will find different brands carried in different areas so best to do your own research on a brand you might be interested in so you feel rest-assured. Happy and safe sun-screening!

MIL’s Best Ever Banana Bread


banana bread

I have barely had a moment to post anything in the last month. I have been busier than ever with my business. However,  I have found time (read: I must eat!) in my kitchen to experiment developing my own recipes. Having worked in one of Canada’s largest test kitchens for many years, creating recipes is second nature to me. However now my focus is on delicious AND nutritious foods made with minimally processed ingredients.

When my sweet mother-in-law recently said my banana bread was the best she has ever had, I thought this recipe might just be post-worthy. Or at least now my MIL has a place to find the recipe she loves.

I don’t use conventional wheat flour for a number of reasons so in this recipe almond and quinoa are my flours of choice. I find the mix gives a nice texture to the loaf and makes it gluten-free. Feel free to sub-in another flour you prefer for the almond. And if using maple syrup, KEEP IT REAL!  Fake maple syrup is a mix of synthetic or highly processed ingredients.  The bananas themselves offer up most of the sweet you will need so you can keep any sweetener you may choose to a minimum.


  • 1c almond flour ( can substitute another ie. sunflower seed flour OR coconut flour)
  • 1.5 c quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup hemp hearts (I use Manitoba Harvest)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon good quality salt (I used Pink Himalyan)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c.
  • 1/3 c. real maple syrup (my sweetener of choice during springtime in Canada)
  • 1/4 c. plain unsweetend organic yogurt
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

How to:

  • Set your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease loaf pan (I use coconut oil)
  • Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients…eggs, syrup, yogurt, mashed banana + vanilla) and whisk until mixed
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined.
  • Pour into loaf pan
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 55-60 minutes
  • Test it’s done by sticking in a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it is done. Another test is to push down a wee bit on the top with your fingers.  A properly cooked loaf will spring back into place.
  • Remove from pan and enjoy!

And there you have it, a better than conventional banana bread. AND with the addition of hemp hearts added in you should be able to keep your belly feeling full for longer.  Great for a snack or end to a meal!






5 Good Reasons To Give Up Wheat Even If You Don’t Have To

image: istock Getty images

image: istock Getty images

It’s taken me some time to get to a place where conventional wheat products are no longer a staple in my house.  But I am there. There are simply too many reasons NOT to eat wheat products.

The notion of wheat-free seemed at first to go against my grain. However, having worked in the processed food industry for many years,  I have long known that the processed food industry works to deliver the least expensive, fastest-produced, ultra-long lasting ‘belly-filler’ to our dining tables. And wheat products such as bread, pastries, cookies and breakfast cereals are no exception.

However,  it wasn’t until recently that I read the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis and found out there were so many more reasons to avoid wheat than I had ever imagined. Some of these include:

1) ‘Franken Gluten’ When industry scientists created cheaper, high yield wheat, consumers got wheat with gluten proteins that mother nature had never intended. In fact the hybridization that created modern wheat, resulted in wheat gluten proteins undergoing considerable structural changes some of which are found in neither parent plant.  Scary. But compound this with the fact that tests confirming the affects of this franken-gluten on human health were never done. Super-scary.  Did any of us ask to be guinea pigs?

2) Diabetes. Modern wheat spikes blood sugar worse than does regular table sugar. The Glycemic Index was developed in the 1980’s by Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto (my alma mater). The higher the Glycemic Index foods cause a spike in blood sugar vs. low GI foods. Evidence is pointing to higher GI foods being linked to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Are you surprised to hear that whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than does table sugar? I was. This translates to ‘whole wheat bread raises blood sugar on a gram for gram basis the same or worse than does eating a candy bar or drinking a soda pop’. Higher blood sugar leads to the natural aftermath of low blood sugar. The body compensates with by wanting more food and you can easily overeat.

3) Heart Trouble. Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist, confirms that wheat does trigger high blood sugar, increased visceral fat, and inflammation. As these are all contributing factors to diabetes, obesity, and inflammation.  And anyone of these issues, can go hand in hand with being seriously bad news for your heart.

4) Skin Afflictions. Wheat is to apparently to blame for advancing the telltale signs of time on our skin in the form of wrinkles and lost elasticity. And wheat is also linked to other skin problems, including psoriasis, and acne. And we thought chocolate and soda pop was solely responsible for the acne of our youth.

5) Osteoporosis. Wheat generates more sulphuric acidic when consumed than meat, apparently wreaking havoc on the acid/alkaline balance of the body.  Excess acid causes calcium to be drawn out of your bones. And where it used to be thought that osteoporosis was a problem of post-menopausal women due to lower estrogen levels, science now has evidence that calcium bone loss starts much earlier in life with a marked decline by age 40. And guess what is implicated..large quantities of wheat in our diets.

These are just some of the issues associated with wheat consumption that Wheat Belly outlines AND supports with scientific evidence. Of course everything in moderation but with wheat products being commonplace at breakfast, lunch and dinner, it becomes a potentially very serious problem. Who else thinks it’s time to re-think excessive wheat consumption?