Product Review – Azah Sanitary Pads

It sometimes bothers me that mothers who pay through their noses for toys, experiences, food and dresses, think so much when it comes to alternatives to environmentally unfriendly things and physically . Take for example our sanitary pads.

We still use those plastic lined, chemically infused gel liners which nestle close to our vaginas, spewing heat and cancer inducing chemicals into our body, but think a million times more if we would have to buy a natural alternative at a higher cost. That of course goes for all shampoos, soaps and products we use on our skin. But today I would like to concentrate on our sanitary pads.

Personally, I think it is convenient to use sanitary pads as they are sturdy and useful in these busy times. But the problem is that they are hot, itchy and cause rashes easily. I have been looking for an alternative for quite sometime now and was happy to lay my hands on the very aesthetically designed sanitary pad – Azah.

Azah Sanitary Pads – Ultra Soft, Organic pads

DSC_2148_LI
Azah Sanitary Pads – An organic alternative during periods

Why Azah?

DSC_2150_LI

Because I like their write up on the back of the pad –

Feeling healthy and good about yourself is not a luxury. It’s an absolute necessity. Make the switch, because your body deserves better.

So true, isn’t it? A healthier, hygienic ‘you’ is more rewarding to your loved ones and to yourself.

DSC_2155_LI

The Packaging – I love the aesthetic, pleasing design and especially the motif of a petal on the box. The whole box has light pink and purple flowers in a mild print. Inside the box, the pads have individual packs and are placed neatly in rows. It is very easy on the eye. There is even a note inside the pack which looks like a thoughtful gesture.

DSC_2152_LI

However, when I saw the individual pads having their own premium packs, I thought it was just a hype to charge more in the name of organic pads. Was there a need to have individual packs with premium packaging? As I figured out later, apparently it does. The individual packs can be disposed off in the same pack instead of having to search for a paper or a plastic wrap to do the same. Turns out that even that addition was thoughtfully done.

The Product – True to their claim, the pads are super soft and cottony to feel. The gum behind the pad is strong and adheres to the panty quite well. The wings are well placed and prevent the pad from slipping. I used a regular size as my period flow is not very heavy, and not once did I have a problem with leakage or staining. The best part of course is that once I wore it, I didn’t feel like I was wearing one. No itching or scratching…just a natural feel. This is something that has to be used to be believed. Plus, I felt happy that I my carbon print was lesser than when I used a regular, plastic sanitary pad.

 

Price – A box of regular sized (280mm) 12 sanitary pads cost Rs. 239 which is more than double what regular sanitary pads in the market cost. But I think the favour you do to your body, plus the convenience of wearing this sanitary pad for a longer duration due to its super soft exterior makes up for the steeper price. This gets a big thumbs up from my side.

DSC_2154_LI

I use Azah sanitary pads (regular) for my high flow days, which last only for a couple of days. For higher flow, one can use their XL pads. I have tried those too, but I found the wings to easily come off and for the pad to curve inwards. I am not sure if this is the case with the quality of the pads or any other factor.

Do drop in a line if you have used this too, and do share what you feel of the product.

This impartial product review gyan comes to you with a super dose of self love and empowerment. Love your periods. 🙂

 

 

 

Advertisements

Aloe Veda – Activated Charcoal Face wash review

Looky here my dearies…look at my new swashbuckling, dirt and germ fighting absolute kicker of a face wash. I am so in love with this one that I have almost cheated on my previous one which I lovvvve a lot too.

Aloe Veda

I am glad I hit gold where it came to taking care of my face in a gentle and organic way. Let me give you a brief idea about my skin. My skin has been a cause of my fragile confidence on my looks. While I like to consider that I am a smart looking person, my skin gives me cause to pause in the best of times. I have had acne and subsequent scarring – a result of a misguided Ayurvedic therapy. I have large open pores on my face and an oily skin to boot. As you can see below, the acne scars are far from fading and now at 39, I have started getting age spots as well.

IMG_20180722_104028

I had long since stopped using harsh products that end up leaving my skin feeling stretched and dry like a cloth that has come out of the washing machine. I thought that was an indication of how well the soap/ face wash did its job until recently I read that it was just the chemicals leaving that feeling. A good soap should leave your skin feeling the same as how it was before using the product, except cleaner. Most of the regular products available in the market, even Himalaya were a disappointment. Of late, I am happy with Khadi and Biotique. In fact, my previous face wash from Khadi ticked all the right boxes, but a review of that in another post.

IMG_20180718_203014

In an attempt to adopt a healthy lifestyle I had started choosing skin friendly, natural products and those with some social consciousness. I did not have much confidence earlier about the efficacy of these products; my general perception being what has been fed to me over the years – if it was natural, it was not too effective; much less, in combating problems that are unique to present pollution conditions.

But after using Biotique and Khadi products regularly and seeing the positive effects it has had on my skin, I have had the confidence to try other natural products too. Hence, this Aloe Veda face wash.

What I love: 

Just the label itself. It says – Activated Charcoal. This is an activated charcoal deep pore cleansing face wash. Activated Charcoal is the new hero in the block. Sanjay, my husband who has been incidental in my adopting this kind of a lifestyle has been expounding the benefits of activated charcoal for quite sometime now, and to now find that in my face wash was a huge thing for me. I am sure many good organic product brands have come up with this magic ingredient, but this is my first branded one. I have a friend who makes soaps at home and have used her activated charcoal cream to good results.

I simply loved the soap-free feel of my skin after I washed with it. The liquid is black and hardly lathers. I gently rubbed it all over my face and washed it with very minimal water. Instantly I could feel my face feeling refreshed and clean.

IMG_20180722_104114

About Aloe Veda Activated Charcoal Facewash: The bottle doesn’t look very aesthetic unlike other Aloe Veda products I have seen. This one looks pretty ordinary with its green cap and black body. The contents of the bottle are also black with a creamy texture. I bought it because I wanted something that targeted my oily, blemished skin. The face wash smells a bit medicinal too, but after washing my face I didn’t get any smell at all. For me, that was a plus.

IMG_20180718_202616

This Indian brand of personal products is inspired by Aloe vera and uses other natural products in it. This face wash is sulphate free, paraben free and has lemon peel extract in addition to activated charcoal and aloe vera. I have not picked up Aloe Veda products earlier because it was a bit expensive. But this 100ml bottle for Rs. 210 looks like good value for money.

This is a thumbs up from me.

 

Snack Ideas for Toddlers

When Ana kutti started Montessori school at the age of two, I tried doing a quick search on the internet for snack ideas and the search ended equally quickly as I browsed through articles after articles of snacks made from bread, poha, pasta or chappathi. I realized with disappointment that there was precious little is available online on what a two year old can take in her snack box.

Ana kutti is finishing a year in her Montessori school now and in addition to having a light breakfast, she has her snack in school around 10:30 a.m. Mostly her snack box is empty when I check. The things she doesn’t like are sweet corn, fried idlis, pasta, chappathi and the like. Except sometimes when I truly have to rack my brains for something to put in her box, I have managed with a combination of fruits and a carbohydrate/ protein snack.

I have shied away from giving her too much bread – one, because it is made with refined flour and that with cheese or jam or peanut butter spread is a combination that will increase the acidic levels in her body. Secondly, the increased levels of salt, sugar and chemicals bread has is not funny. The same applied for pasta – there is time enough for her to indulge in such high refined flour and cheese diet. Just not now. I would have liked it if she approved of chappathi, but she found it cumbersome and dry sometimes. She loved eating idlis at home, but when I packed them to school it came back untouched. I couldn’t easily pair it with something bland and liquid without it getting messy. So it was given only at home with mild sambar or rasam on the side.

Most websites have complicated snack recipes that are hard for a two-year old to hold and eat and much less appreciate. Early years in play school or Montessori demanded a simple, mess free snack which hopefully was also nutritious. Biscuits, chocolates, fried food were not allowed in her school and I was happy about that. Eggs, the awesome, wonder food was also not encouraged due to cultural and religious preferences, but I made sure she had it at home.

Here are a few of my ideas for a simple, nutritious snack for toddlers, that are easy to handle and are light on their taste buds.

  1. Steamed nendran banana – This yellow banana or plantain variety (Musa paradisica) that is widely cultivated in Kerala has high calorie content, thereby making it a perfect snack for toddlers. Many Indian mothers feed their children this banana to improve their ward’s weight. In addition, it also has a high Vitamin C, B complex and many micro nutrient content. I steam this banana lightly (for five minutes in a double boiler) so that it gets a soft consistency, as it has a very starchy taste in its raw form unlike a regular sweet banana. Ana kutti loves this banana, which I cut into thick circles and send it in her tiffin alongwith a tiny portion of assorted dry fruits and nuts.
  2. Steamed sweet potato – Sweet potato is no stranger to anyone. This wonderful vegetable of the potato family has a delightful sweet taste that is an instant hit with kids. This vegetable is one of the few that has a high Vitamin A content and a good source of other vitamins like C, B and minerals. This vegetable is fairly easy to cook too. I scrape the skin of slightly and add 1/4 cup of water to cut pieces. After sprinkling salt, I cook it gently until it is done. I cut these pieces into smaller ones and pack half of a whole one in Anakutti’s box. It comes back clean.
    Pickled plum
    Check out the recipe for boiled sweet potato at Pickledplum.com

    SundalVarieties_Subbus Kitchen
    These are typical sundals. Subbuskitchen is one of my favourite blogs for South Indian recipes
  3. Sundal or boiled grams – Sundal is a popular South Indian snack, packed to the brim with nutrients. Sundals are made from many types of grams – peas, chickpeas, kidney bean, brown chickpeas etc. Of these, Sucrose enjoys the ones I make with chickpeas and brown chickpeas. Chickpeas are very high in fiber, and that is one of the main reasons for it to be consumed by people. It helps in maintaining the satiety value and hence the urge to over eat or snack unnecessarily. chickpeas also are rich in iron, calcium, phosphate, magnesium and other minerals which are important for building bone structure. I simply boil these chickpeas with salt and add a dash of ghee before serving it to her. The chickpeas by themselves have a good taste and the ghee adds value to its nutrient content.

    bigstock pic
    Assorted nuts and raisins. Pic:Big stock pics
  4. Mixed nuts- These are invaluable tiffin box fillers. I give Ana kutti a mixture of cashewnuts, groundnuts, fried gram, walnuts, raisins and dates. It is a known fact that nuts are valuable sources of good fat and proteins. I take care to pack only a few of these as they are hard to digest. Raisins are high in iron content and so are dates. These two also have high fiber content, so I make it a point to add this in her tiffin box along with a starchy, carbohydrate rich snack.

    cut-fruit-2016b
    Colourful, cut fruits
  5. Fruits – Fruits are every mother’s saviour when it comes to healthy snacking. Since they are naturally sweet, attractive and juicy they figure a lot more in a toddler’s diet where other foods don’t. Some of Sucrose’s favourite fruits of which I give a few slices are – apples, pears, papaya, watermelon, grapes, kiwi, small banana (yelakki, rastali) to name a few. She loves piercing each piece with her tiny fork and savouring it at her leisure. Although she likes oranges a lot, I don’t send them to school simply because it stains her clothes and could get messy. Instead I ensure that she indulges in this citrusy delight at home.

From the above, you would notice a distinct absence of bread. I do send bread with jam and butter on an odd day, but it is not a staple snack in her tiffin box. Also, I make tiny, coin sized snack out of idli/dosa batter and grate cheese on top. This also I choose to send only when other options are not there. Sometimes of course, I send chips or fried stuff like murukkus, thattais and such, which are all quintessential South Indian snacks, but I find them reasonably better than the processed ones available in the market.

The important thing in the above mentioned ideas is that all of the above are suitable to a two – three year old child who has started play school or montessori, and who is now trying to eat independently with spoon or fork. There is no profusion of flavours, or complex masalas or spices added, nor are there any difficult cooking method involved like baking or frying. Everything is light and nutritious and fills up the child enough so that they are ready for lunch when they get home.

What do you pack for your toddler? Please do share.

Ragi Porridge – A Perfect Weaning Food

A few of my friends were amused that I was dispensing gyan on child rearing practices over the internet and asked rather cheekily, “If there was anyone reading these posts,” little knowing that adding the very Indian word ‘gyan’ to the link gave me an edge over choosing my url. Still, that is why I haven’t shared this blog’s link with any of the shenanigans. Since they don’t mince words much (and I love them for that), I thought I’d strike it out all alone in this vast repository of blog posts and revelations and reviews and…you get the drift and await your reactions and responses and discussions on the topics that are dear to me.

There are certain topics which however, I can speak with some authority and one among them is on nutrition and health. I have done my Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics and though I did not pursue my career in that, preferring to meander instead into corporate soft skills training, I do remember my theory very well. It has been helped greatly also by posts shared on social media by other health conscious people. The challenge for any caring parent is to sieve through the deluge of data and pick the ones that are authentic and helpful in improving their health. I have made plenty of healthy choices once Ana kutti was conceived, which became a way of life once she was born. One such choice was her weaning food – the humble porridge or kanji as it is generally called in Tamil Nadu.

I have emulated my mother who has of her mother and we have a practice of feeding our 6month+ old child porridge as they get weaned from their mother’s milk. I have to date seen only benefits of this unassuming, humble concoction in the children of our family and I was sure to use it on my Sucrose. I have never once given her the many branded baby food like Cerelac, Nestum, Nan etc and have not regretted this decision ever.

There are many porridge mixes available in the market that are sold as health mix or sathu maavu, which does the job well if you are alright with the high sugar content some have. Porridge can also be made at home, like I initially did as I was unwilling to expose my baby’s tender digestive system to heavy proteins ( cashews, almonds other nuts that are added to health mix) and carbohydrates which the porridge was going to be filled with.

What is porridge made of?

Organic foods centre
Ragi or Finger Millet. Pic courtesy: Organic Foods Centre 

 

 

A porridge can be made of cereals and millets. In South India, we get a lot of millets and grains, so typically a porridge is made of either wheat or rice or ragi (finger millet) or oats to name a few. Some of my North Indian friends give wheat, daliya (which is broken wheat), corn and lotus seed porridge among others. Since I live in Chennai and the weather is quite hot, I gravitated towards ragi (which is a millet) and rice mostly. I did not overthink this choice much, except to ensure that the ragi I bought was from a good source or was organic.

Today I am concentrating only on Ragi or finger millet porridge.

NDTV food
Nutritious, fiber rich Ragi flour. Pic Courtesy: NDTV Foods

Advantages of Ragi Porridge:

  1. It is gentle on the stomach, especially ragi and oats. As I mentioned earlier, sathu mavu or health mix generally have a mixture of grains and nuts, whereas making porridge with single grains are better for a 6 month+ baby as it is tender on the digestive system and prevents gas.
  2. Prevents constipation. I am secretly proud that Ana kutti has never once had constipation in the days following her shift from breast milk. Even now, except for one odd day when she has gone out and eaten a processed food diet, she has never had problems with her potty. Ragi has a high source of fiber and as it is gentle on the stomach, it is an excellent choice for porridge.
  3. Nutritionally packed. These cereals and millets are packed with a lot of vitamins and minerals that will now be needed for our weaning baby. Ragi or finger millet is packed with calcium, which is good for the bones and has high iron content. Using sprouted ragi increases Vitamin C in it leading to higher absorption of iron in the body. The benefits of oats is recorded widely, thanks to Western research. Rice is rich in Vitamin B complex which is very, very important for the overall development of the body.

Preparation:

Manna
Manna’s Sprouted Ragi Flour. Easy to use and trustworthy.

As I said earlier, there are many ways to prepare porridge and I am sharing one of my life saver, Swasthi’s link here. She has a wonderful, informational blog on food choices and food preparation for babies, toddlers, children and so on. Her blog was invaluable for me while making the transition in Ana kutti’s feeding plan.

I am giving below the directions for preparing Ragi or Finger millet porridge the way my mother has taught me.

Ingredients:

Ragi flour – 2 tbsp

Water – 1/2 cup

Milk – 1/4 cup

Palm jaggery – 1/2 tsp or as per taste or sugar – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  1. Mix the ragi flour with water in a thick bottomed pan. Take care to remove lumps if any.
  2. Cook this mixture gently over low to medium flame, stirring continuously.
  3. When the ragi mix starts to look shiny it means the flour is cooked. Now add milk and shaved palm jaggery to it.
  4. Once it boils remove from flame.
  5. Add a teaspoon of ghee to this and feed the baby.

Things to remember:

  1. Don’t overcook the ragi or keep it on the flame for long. Once it thickens and becomes shiny, it is done.
  2. I use sprouted ragi flour to improve the nutritive value of the porridge. I trust Manna products and I find this particular one very good.
  3. Palm jaggery is an excellent sweetener and it is so much healthier than white sugar. I have never used white sugar for Ana when she was a baby, preferring this quintessential Malayali sweetener more. This is nowadays easily available in stores, so do use that as a first option if you can. More on palm jaggery in another post.
  4. Palm jaggery can of course be substituted with jaggery or brown sugar or sugar. If using any type of jaggery for your baby, remember to dissolve it in a bit of water and strain so that stones if any are removed.

I still feed Ana kutti this concoction for breakfast. It is a sure way of ensuring she completes her potty before leaving to school 😀

What do you give your 6 month old? Please share your views in the comments box.

 

Indian Borage or Ajwain leaves or Karporavalli Leaves – For Common Cold

Say hi to my friend and saviour these days – the Indian borage, also called Karpooravalli leaves or Ajwain leaves. Its scientific name is  Plectranthus amboinicus. What a godsend this ubiquitous fleshy leaf has been.

Though I have seen this in plenty of houses in Chennai and have seen it in my mother’s garden, eaten it rather absently, I have been introduced to its fantastic medicinal properties only after Ana kutti’s birth. Since then I have diligently grown a pot of it in my balcony, nurturing this wonderful plant that has so much to offer.

During one of Ana kutti’s bouts of cold when she was hardly a year old, I was reluctant to keep giving her allopathic medicine which is mostly symptomatic treatment, not to say, comes with an overload of chemicals. The effect these chemicals would have on her tender body and the work her liver would have to do to get these out of her system was enough to make me look for natural alternatives. My cook suggested using Karpooravalli or ajwain leaves as a remedy. This leaf is widely used for treating cough and cold in South India and in winter it heats the system keeping it warm and so is a staple of bajjis and pakoras in North India. She made the first few concoctions for Ana kutti and the results were amazing.

 

IMG_20180212_141927

As with many things in our wonderful country, there is no documented proof of this plant’s medicinal properties, especially its common cold fighting properties. All that people do is due to hearsay, like I did. The results have been consistent and amazing since the first time I have used it. I must mention that I still use allopathy medicines when the cold lingers and becomes particularly difficult, but what I have seen is that it gets controlled soon and is bearable by the little one.

 

 

IMG_20180210_104347

How to use:

This can be given only to babies who have started taking liquids and semi solids. It is not advisable to give babies who are still completely on mother’s milk any external medicine without proper guidance. I have used this on my daughter since when she was eight months old.

Take a couple of leaves from the plant, wash gently but thoroughly and steep it in about 15 ml of hot water for a while. Gently mash the leaves with the back of a spoon or with your fingers so that the juice seeps into the water. Strain this juice and feed your toddler this juice in a tiny feeding cup (in Tamil we call it paladai) thrice a day and see the difference. Very soon the cold gets under control.

Though I had been asked to add pepper and honey to it, I have not done so. I have found good results with the leaves themselves. Sometimes I use a couple of tulsi or holy basil leaves with it for added strength in fighting condition. This wonderful juice can be drunk by adults too, except that they need to take a larger portion of the leaves and the water to steep it in.

IMG_20180212_141938
Tulsi or Holy basil