Category: Uncategorized

Bringing Family Mealtimes Back Into Our Homes

“Food is love, in so many ways.”

The moment I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, I was thrilled! Of course, like many new moms, I read many books regarding motherhood and some were good but none really stood out for me until now.

I had the recent pleasure of reading, Raising A Healthy, Happy Eater, by Pediatrician Nimali Fernando (Dr. Yum), MD, MPH and feeding therapist Melanie Potock (Coach Mel), MA, CCC-SLP. This book provides a stage-by-stage guide to setting your child on the path to Adventurous Eating.


It was an easy and enjoyable read from beginning to end. The book provided advice tailored to every stage from newborn to school aged children; real-life stories of parents and kids that have been helped; wisdom from different cultures across the globe on how to feed children; helpful insights on the sensory system, difficult mealtime behaviours, and everything from baby-led weaning to sippy cups; And seven “passport stamps” for good parenting: joyful, compassionate, brave, patient, consistent, proactive, and mindful. This and more can be found in this incredible book. They cover many different challenges that can occur at meal time and offer creative solutions on how to overcome them. My favourite is the four tips on how to get toddlers to interact with familiar foods by making “same old” foods more appealing and “new” which were: Change up the color; miniaturize; serve samples; and play with food.

I couldn’t just do this review without actually trying one of these tips out. So I did! I took two of the four tips above and created the serving of samples. I took a six mini-muffin tin and placed small foods in each slot. I used some strawberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe to introduce my daughter to some new fruits. The result was priceless! My 1.5 year old was super excited to see these miniature fruits (I did cut them up tiny for her) and she was willing to try each one. This was a big step for her and one that we will continue to do in our home.

This book also provides great recipes to try and the neat part is that the recipes are from around the world. The two recipes that are currently on my counter is the Crêpes from France (pg. 155) and Friteeni Frittatas which is an oven baked omelet where you can use it to introduce new veggies into breakfast (pg. 178).

Throughout, Raising A Healthy, Happy Eater, there is a lot that they touch upon and as you read this book you may learn new things that you never knew before. I know I learned a great deal and two learning highlights for me were to use your words wisely. It is better to say that your child is an “exploring eater” or “learning eater” instead of the famous “picky eater”. Now when people ask, my toddler is an exploring eater. Sounds much more fun for me and her! Secondly, I learned that school-aged children who eat a fiber-less diet of the usual “kid-friendly” food such as pepperoni pizza and hamburgers can lead to chronic constipation, which can lead to bedwetting and urinary tract
infections. That was great to know!

“In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to allow our children to overindulge or rely on unhealthy options, because we know they’ll enjoy them and, importantly actually eat them. Reality bites: It’s a chicken-nugget world out there, and it’s unlikely to change overnight.”- Raising A Healthy, Happy Eater

At the very beginning of this book, the authors articulate what they will walk you through in the book and they truly do fulfill it. You will learn the developmental process of how children learn to eat food of all kinds over time; help you expand your child’s diet; and how to use parenting strategies that work both in and out of the kitchen.

The message is very clear and important in this book and that is to bring back family dinners and to teach children (and us) a culture of wellness. With all that we hear of how society’s poor eating habits have led to epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and even cancer, this book would be a great addition to all households for parents who want to raise healthy children.

I give this book 5 nuggets out of 5 in this “chicken-nugget” world!

To purchase this book please click here.

For more information on the authors, please check out their websites and twitter handles listed below:

Melanie Potock (Coach Mel) @MyMunchBug

Nimali Fernando (Dr. Yum) @Doctor_Yum

– Momma Braga


Gestational Diabetes

All pregnant women are screened within 28 weeks of pregnancy for Gestational Diabetes. Between 3 and 20 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, depending on their risk factors. And little did I know that this was a reality that I was going to experience.

At the 28th week, I went to do the diabetes test which requires to drink a sugar drink (tasted like Gatorade to me) and I had to wait an hour to do the urine and blood work. A few days after, the OB office called to say my sugar levels were really high and I will need a special team of Healthcare professionals that will be watching me carefully. Now my whole world was going to change again!

So what exactly is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Your body cannot produce enough insulin to handle the effects of a growing baby and changing hormone levels. Insulin helps your body to control the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. If your body cannot produce enough insulin, your blood glucose (sugar) levels will rise. Once your baby arrives, the gestational diabetes goes away. However, there is a 20 to 40 percent chance that you may develop type 2 diabetes later in life so it’s important to develop a healthy lifestyle to prevent it from returning.

Risk factors for getting Gestational Diabetes are:
35 years of age or older
From a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian and African)
Obese (BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher)
Giving birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds)
Corticosteroid medication
Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
A parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin)

How does it affect your baby?
The good news is that your baby will not be born with diabetes and you can have a happy and healthy baby. However, if left undiagnosed or untreated,  gestational diabetes can lead to high blood glucose (sugar) levels which can increase the risk that your baby will weigh more than 9lbs and will have a difficult delivery. It can also increase the risk of your baby becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

How I Managed
There is tons of information on how to manage it and the best part is that there are great Healthcare professionals that help guide and monitor you throughout your pregnancy. I saw the diabetes specialist and nutritionist every two weeks. I had to keep track of my blood sugar levels 4 times a day (Normal morning Blood Sugar is 5.4 and during the day is 7.8). Once I had great blood sugar levels, I was able to reduce the checking to twice a day, and on every other day. After attending an educational session on diabetes, I was set. I ate little portions but more frequently and watched what I ate. What I noticed that I needed to watch out for the most was the carbohydrates in each food item. Didn’t realize how much of it is in everything! By doing this, I managed my blood sugar levels and controlled the diabetes. Thankfully it went away after my baby was born.


I learned a great deal going through Gestational Diabetes and I can now support someone who finds themselves in the same situation. It was all about choosing a healthy diet and enjoy foods from all four food groups and spread out the foods by eating smaller meals and snacks. This way both baby and I stayed healthy.

– Momma Braga

Furbaby and Baby Introduction

Our pets are more than just pets as they become a part of our family. When my husband and I moved into a place of our own, we knew that we wanted to share our lives with a furry family member. Instead of purchasing a kitten from a pet store, we decided that adopting a cat would be a better option for us. We adopted our furbaby, Lily (6), from a humane society in 2009 and she instantly brought great joy to us. Lily got lots of love and attention as she was our one and only. So as soon as we got the news of a baby entering our lives, we knew we had to start early in teaching Lily that a new family member will be joining us. With time and care we knew that they would become the best of friends really early on.



During my pregnancy and during preparation for the arrival, we would allow Lily to smell all the baby clothes and any other items we had for the baby. The beautiful part is that animals sense change and Lily knew that something was coming. Lily would lie her head on my tummy many times and our vet told us that she can hear the baby which we thought was amazing!

Before Baby Arrived Home

Since I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, it gave us the opportunity to bring home the blanket that our baby was wrapped in home first. My husband brought it home and allowed Lily to smell the blanket and kept it in a spot that Lily would sleep on. This blanket became Lily’s blanket and she loved it.

Baby Nikki Arrives Home

When we got home from the hospital we brought the car seat into our bedroom and placed it on our bed for Lily to see. Lily looked in the car seat and slowly smelled the baby. As it can be seen in the photograph below, Lily looked at my husband with inquiring eyes. We told Lily that her sister has arrived and that our love has just tripled for her. One more person to now love Lily and for Lily to love.


Baby Love and Bond

As the days turned to months, we slowly taught Lily what was ok to do and what was not ok to do with a baby. Lily learned quickly and bonded with Nikki very early on. At first, it was frightening for Lily to hear baby screams and cries but she adjusted quickly. Now Lily will run to Nikki if she is crying in pain and won’t leave our side until Nikki is ok. It’s amazing how Lily can tell the difference between a pain cry and just a fussy cry. Lily follows Nikki everywhere she goes and loves to play with her. The bond between them has been beautiful to see grow.

Nikki at 7 months old playing with Lily

Cat Love and Bond

Not only do we need to teach our furry family members how to interact with our babies, we as parents have to teach our babies how to interact with them as well. Of course, only as Nikki got older we started showing her how to interact with Lily. Babies can be very rough as they don’t know any better so I knew I had to patiently teach her how to pet and love Lily. Now at one year old of age, Nikki pets Lily with lots of love and as she pets, we say “nice”. This way she knows to be gentle. Nikki just adores Lily and every other cat and dog she meets.

The bond that they have created is heartfelt and sincere. I know that the love they have for each other will be treasured for the rest of their lives. We couldn’t see our life without either one of these precious babies together.

– Momma Braga

Marriage 101

Marriage to me means the union of two people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Marriage is a life long commitment that requires hard work from both parties to make it last forever.


My husband and I have been together for 15 years (8 married years). We have had our ups and downs as many couples do but we never give up on each other. Many other couples have asked us for relationship advice and our answer has always been the same: trust, communication, understanding and a lot of compromising.

Above all, we love and respect one another and that carries us on. No matter what curve balls that are thrown our way, we know that we are always there for one another. And at the end of the day that is what counts for us. I read a piece in a book given to me on my wedding day that I will share in this blog as the words are inspiring.

Marriage Is…

A commitment. Its success doesn’t depend on feelings, circumstances, or moods – but on two people who are loyal to each other and the vows they took on their wedding day.

Hard work. It means chores, disagreements, misunderstandings, and times when you might not like each other very much. When you work at it together, it can be the greatest blessing in the world.

A relationship where two people must listen, compromise, and respect. It’s an arrangement that requires a multitude of decisions to be made together. Listening, respecting, and compromising go a long way toward keeping peace and harmony.

A union in which two people learn from their mistakes, accept each other’s faults, and willingly adjust behaviors that need to be changed. It’s caring enough about each other to work through disappointing and hurtful times, and believing in the love that brought you together in the first place.

Patience and forgiveness. It’s being open and honest, thoughtful and kind. Marriage means talking things out, making necessary changes, and forgiving each other. It’s unconditional love at its most understanding and vulnerable – love that supports, comforts, and is determined to triumph over every challenge and adversity.

Marriage is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals…they are even better together.

By: Barbara Cage, Marriage is A Promise of Love

– Momma Braga

Through Sickness and Health: Life with a spouse with liver disease

My husband, Mike and I met through mutal friends and were together for seven years before we got married. The two of us never thought that our wedding vows would be put to the test early in our life together.

When we  first met in 2000, I noticed that Mike was often hunched over and in apparent pain. He told me that he had abdominal pains since he was a child and that doctors had said that it  could be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) but he still needed more tests to confirm it. In the meantime, the pain was getting worse and we knew that it had to be something more serious. In 2002, blood results showed that Mike’s billirubin was high and his ceruloplasmin was low and he was  immediately referred to a liver specialist for further testing.  After an eye examination, urine test, blood work and a liver biopsy, Mike was finally diagnosed at the age of 22 with Wilson disease.

We had never even heard of it before, so the first thing I did was a lot of research to find out what to expect and how this diagnosis might affect us both.

Wilson disease is a hereditary disease in which excessive amounts of copper accumulate in the body. The overload of copper has a toxic effect on several organs in the body – copper is first stored in the liver and once storage capacity is exhausted, copper can accumulate in the brain and cornea of the eye. If left untreated, Wilson disease can be fatal. Once the toxic copper is removed from the body, the patient must take action to prevent reaccumulation of copper in the body.

We both learned quickly that living with Wilson disease meant making significant lifestyle changes. One crucial change was in our eating habits.

There are so many restrictions such as no fried food, spicy food, pork, mushrooms or chocolate just to name a few. It can make it difficult when dining out with friends.

Eating certain foods can cause Mike to experience painful side effects so I have learned how to recognize when he was in pain and offer as much support as possible – whatever form that support might take. It might just mean staying by his side or simply making a cup of tea. Mike is always very appreciative of the care and attention.

Another ongoing challenge is both the physical and psychological changes that can occur with Wilson disease. In times of stress, Mike’s mood swings tested our coping skills. We’ve found that open communication is the best way of dealing with these situations. By understanding what he’s going through, I know not to take things personally. This has helped reduce some of the stress.

When your spouse has liver disease, the pledge to see each other “through sickness and health” takes on new meaning. Learning how the disease affects Mike has allowed me to cope and help him cope in the most positive way. We refused to let Wilson disease be a barrier in our relationship. We don’t look at it as a disease but a lifestyle change for a better life.

Knowing what it’s like to live with liver disease day-in and day-out, we are committed to doing what we can to support others through the Canadian Liver Foundation. We believe the work of the Canadian Liver Foundation is essential for our community  not only do they fund important research projects, but they also provide great tools for people to use to better educate themselves on liver diseases and how some can be prevented.

We are proud to state that the Canadian Liver Foundation supported the research that eventually led to the discovery of the Wilson disease gene. Moving forward, more research is needed to find better treatments and hopefully a cure.

Our livers are so important and we need to protect it the best way we can. Let’s stay healthy!

– Momma Braga

Hello world!

Hi and thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. I decided to start blogging to share my experiences in many different aspects of my life such as work, motherhood, marriage and family. I have always had many interesting stories to tell and never knew how to share them until now. If you have any questions or would like me to write on a specific topic please just leave a comment below.

Here is a little about me.

Let me start by saying that I have been a fundraiser for over 9 years and my passion is to help others. My background first was in social work and I had the opportunity to work for different organizations at a more entry level position until I obtained a position as a Job Developer where I would assist the unemployed find employment. I did this for a few years and truly did enjoy it. I made a lot of connections and employers knew that if they called me, I could find them a great employee. However, I am always up for a challenge and when an opportunity came up for a fundraiser I thought, “why not?” I could use my marketing and people skills to raise money for the non-profit I was working for and ensure that we would continue to offer services to benefit the community. I also have volunteered as a fundraiser for other causes that are dear to my heart such as the Canadian Liver Foundation (personal connection that I can write at a later post) and Animal causes.

Fast Forward

On August 1, 2014, I got the most important job of my life, I became a mom! At 4:03 AM, I gave birth to a 5lb and 9oz baby girl that we named, Nikki. She became my everything! So far it has been 10 months into motherhood and there has been good and bad days but overall, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Even the many countless and sleepless nights!

This will be all for my brief introduction and I look forward in writing more posts on my experiences.


Momma Braga