REVIEW: “Growing Up Gourmet” by Jennifer Carlson, Co-Founder of Baby Gourmet

Garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, sage, basil—you’ll be amazed by what your baby will eat! Here are 125 healthy, delicious, kitchen-tested, and pediatric dietician-approved baby food recipes that will nurture your child’s adventurous palate and guarantee smiles from everyone at the dinner table.

Growing Up Gourmet is a total guide to your baby and toddler’s diet. Jennifer Carlson built her business, Baby Gourmet, into one of the top-selling organic baby food brands in North America—and she’ll show you how to make nutritious, delicious, home-cooked meals that will complement your child’s development schedule and make everyone else in the family happy too. Her mouth-watering recipes reduce picky eating and introduce your baby to the wide world of textures and tastes, from veggies such as kale and fennel, to grains such as amaranth and spelt, to herbs and spices such as turmeric and ginger that will help you avoid added sugar, salt, colourings, and preservatives.

As a busy mother of two, Jen understands that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by feeding struggles and the sheer mass of parenting information, not to mention the challenges of finding time to make wholesome, flavorful meals from scratch. In this essential guide, she clearly lays out everything you need to know about feeding your baby: when to wean; how to get the right nutrients at every stage; how to deal with finicky eating habits; which foods will treat gas, colic, constipation, low iron, or poor sleep; and how to adapt your special dietary considerations for your child. As daunting as it may seem, there are shortcuts and techniques to make it all manageable, whether you’re cooking for a single little one or a family of five and counting.

When I was first offered a copy of this book to review, I jumped at the chance! We had been feeding my daughter Baby Gourmet food pouches since she was able to start solids at 6 months. We right away loved the fresh, simple and wholesome ingredients it contained but more importantly, the sugar content was amazingly low.  She happily ate every variety we tried for her and we know her palette was developed through the different flavours Baby Gourmet offered.  She is now 2 years old so has obviously moved on from those pouches, but I still recommend the line to new or expectant mommies I meet through my business.


I picked up the book and the first thing I noticed was how vibrant the cover was. It was colorful with photos of foods and children and the name of the book was positioned in the middle.  nice and clean-looking.  Upon opening the book, I noticed the Table of Contents was easily laid out, beginning with “Introduction To Solids”, with the different stages leading up to “Feeding the Whole Family”.  For those whom are not sure what ages these stages begin or end, they are outlined in brackets beside each heading.  Excellent.gourmet2

I jumped right away to “Feeding the Whole Family” as my daughter is 2yrs old and is beyond the books definition of the “Toddler Stage”, not to mention I was curious what feeding the whole family entailed. After looking at a few of the recipes, I LOVED the way each recipe laid out one meal, two ways.  One for parents and one for children so in the end the entire family is eating the same meal!  Genius!  No need for two separate dinners.  It can be spiced up a bit for the parents and a little dialed down for the child.

Before you even get immersed in the wonderful selection of recipes, Jennifer lists some ingredients found later on in her recipes and tells you how to buy and store it, then tells you how to use each ingredient.  All of the ingredients are laid out in the same fashion, making it very user-friendly. She also includes a seasonality chart so the reader knows ahead of time what vegetable or fruit is in season and what isn’t.

It was visually pleasing to see that the recipes were split up with photos of Jennifer’s kitchen during cooking or photos with her family in the vegetable garden.  It’s refreshing on the eyes
instead of just looking at pages and pages of recipes.

gourmet 1My favourite part of “Growing Up Gourmet” , hands down, was the legend that accompanied each and every recipe, advising the reader whether or not the recipe contained dairy or wheat as well as if it was a meal that can be frozen for later.  It was great that Jennifer considered all aspects of children’s health.  Vegetarian children, lactose intolerant children, children who are wheat-intolerant and there are some recipes that offered substitutions for healthier alternatives.

My only “Con” to this book is that there is no clear heading for desserts!  I LOVE my desserts and so does my family.   I found myself scrolling through the pages for a granola bar recipe or a spiced apples recipe or even a tasty smoothie recipe.  If those could have been grouped together, that would have been delightful.

Overall, the “Growing Up Gourmet” 125-page recipe book has variety and alot to offer the family who want to change things up at mealtime but are not quite sure how.  There are so many things a parent s can do to make mealtime more enjoyable, more fun and tasty and this book will definitely take you there.  I was shocked with all the different ways to cook something and make it a little different each time with bold flavours and colours.

My daughter and husband will absolutely love this, not that I was boring in the kitchen to begin with of course!

Interested in receiving your very own copy of Jennifer Carlson’s “Growing Up Gourmet”? Well, you can.  Mommy Connections Durham and the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada have teamed up for this awesome giveaway.  All you have to do is read this review and enter for your chance to win!  Tell your friends as well and YOU will receive 10 extra entries just for spreading the word!

Easy as pie right? (No pun intended).

Click HERE to enter. Good Luck!!

*this contest ends at 11:59pm on June 21 and the winner will be announced via social media as well as via email.





Would you rather learn how to take care of yourself and your growing baby from an app, or have the experts come to you to make sure you are getting the best possible care and the right advice?

We are so excited to announce that our friends at FIT4YOU are offering their new Build a BABY package. Let them take care of you while you are busy building a baby! They will give you all the tools you need to have a healthy and vibrant pregnancy, the best possible delivery and a good post partum recovery. And you know that when mom is healthy and happy – so is baby.🙂


I was given the opportunity to review the Toilet Wand from our friends at Clorox Canada and I jumped at the chance.  I had never been happier to clean my toilet!  Once the package arrived in the mail, I tore it open and easily assembled the wand complete with 6 disposable disinfecting cleaning heads.  It’s fairly easy to assemble as the starter kit includes three parts to it:

There motto on the box is “Click, Clean and Toss” and I was happy to say that it’s a very accurate statement!

The back of the box gives you an easy-to-follow breakdown of what to expect with this neat little gadget.  As soon as the cleaning head came into contact with water, it immediately foamed up with a blue hue and created the “cleaning bubbles” visual you’d expect. The octagonal shape and swivel action of the cleaning heads allows one to easily get into the crevices of the toilet bowl. Although it is a disinfectant, the scent wasn’t too overpowering as most cleaners can be.  For those, however with sensitive noses, I would probably ask your spouse to do the job instead as it can get to you a bit.

It took no time at all, and I mean less than 5 minutes, to thoroughly clean my toilet.  I was quite happy with the results.  The bowl was sparkly clean, but it peaked my curiosity on whether it could be used for just one toilet at a time or if the cleaning action can be spread for all three of my toilets in one sitting. It seemed to be powerful enough that I was willing to challenge it. So I did just that! I ventured upstairs to my 2-year-old daughter’s bathroom and decided to put this Toilet Wand to the 2  Again, as soon as the cleaning head came into contact with the water, the blue foam was apparent, however not as foamy as it’s first use.  I was able to again thoroughly clean the toilet bowl with minimal elbow work as I left it all to the wand.  I was quite impressed.  However, it was pretty evident that it wasn’t going to survive the task of cleaning my toilet in the master bedroom. To dispose of the cleaning head, there is a blue button at the top of the wand that one would simply slide forward, releasing the head into the garbage. Easy assembly,review 1 easy clean-up.

Overall, I would say this really is the easiest and most effective tool to use in the bathroom! Our toilets were left smelling clean and disinfected without having to scrub the toilet as you would with most other cleaners using a regular toilet brush. If the toilet is not heavily soiled, then it can have up to two effective uses.  Although I think the intent is to dispose of the cleaning head after just one use which may end up pretty costly in the long run, depending on how many toilets one has to clean and how often they need to be cleaned. The storage caddy is white, sleek and clean-looking so it  can nicely be placed next to any toilet in the bathroom and fit right in. My only issue would be that if I were to try to clean another toilet in my home, the transport of the wand without it dripping on the floors and carpet would be a bit tricky as the caddy is where the remaining cleaning heads are stored so I wouldn’t be able to put the wet wand in there.  I guess the easy answer (and again, the costly answer) would be to have one Disinfecting Toilet Wand per bathroom.


review 4

As a Certified Emotional Success Coach, EFT practitioner (Emotional Freedom Techniques)  and Project Manager, Debbie works with Mom’s that know they are the key to having a happy family. Moms that know they need help to have enough energy to manage all of the demands on their time, attention and emotions every day. Moms that understand that when their days are running them, and there is no fuel in the emotional tank – nobody is getting the best to them. Together, we get these Moms Powered Up to have magical, amazing, enormously joyful momentswith their kids. Debbie is also a prod mama to two wonderful children.

Debbie’s job is to see you – the actual you with all of the potential that you don’t see yet. She’ll keep you accountable to your goals and progress as you get really clear about what you want and what is holding you back. Then she’ll work with you on changing it. It is a process that requires a commitment to doing the work and a desire to create changes in your life. Coaching Moms is about using her experience and skills to show how to love yourselves as much as you love your kids, so that your children have the immense privilege of growing up to be their true, happy and whole selves. This is true Mom Power.

I had the pleasure of having Debbie present her famous “Power Up Moms” workshop to our mommies in our recent Winter Program.  It was great to hear about and try all the different techniquedEBBIEs that can help us with our daily life stresses which sometime, we don’t even know we have until it comes out negatively in some way, shape or form.  And we don’t want to take it out on our spouses or even our kids.  I’m not going to lie.  It was a bit awkward at first going through the coping exercises as they are all geared toward expelling all negative energy away from the body.  I guess a form of Reiki or at least that is what is seemed.  But after the moms and I allowed ourselves to get to that place and accept what Debbie was showing us, it was all rather intriguing and very helpful.

We were also given some exercise to take home so that we may continue our journey of self-love at home with a diagram of the exercises we learned.  One mom in particular who is set to return to work in a few weeks felt better able to cope with all the anxiety associated with the transition of returning to work. Debbie focused on her and her worries, and brought her to a place of “I can do this”. It was great to see it happening up close!

Debbie also offers her clients a FREE E-book for moms to have to work through their “issues” while keeping a journal of it all.  Sign up to get yours FREE copy HERE

I am so pleased that Debbie will be for our Spring programs set to begin next week as she discusses her techniques with some new and experienced mommies.

Get ready to




For more awesome reviews and experiences, please follow Amanda on Facebook and Twitter.

To Jump or not to Jump? That is the Question.

Spoiler Alert! My Answer: JUMP!

Sky Zone is the world’s first indoor trampoline park and they have locations in Canada, the US, Mexico and Australia. It is not ‘just’ trampolines! The Whitby location offers 3 trampoline areas, a SkySlam court (for the basketball lovers), SkyRobics fitness classes, Dodgeball,birthday parties, camps and the Foam Zone filled with 10,000 foam cubes to fling yourself into.

I am very excited to share our experience with you about Sky Zone’s Toddler Time. My 2 and 4-year-old LOVED it and I am sure they will be asking to go again soon! Toddler Time is an activity for Sky Zone’s littlest jumpers, open to children under 6 years of age.  It offers full access to an entire trampoline section as well as the foam pit without the dangerous, high energy of the big kids.

Keep reading for your chance to win
an exciting giveaway with Sky Zone!


Sky Zone Pros:

Pickering Music House is a small music school operating out of the Sevilla Family home in west Durham. Pickering Music House has been offering Music for Young Children® classes since 2009, taking the ‘piano lesson’ to a whole new level. We provide the best quality music education to young children by blending the pleasure and the joy of music making with sound instruction.

The Fundamental Music And Keyboarding Skills That Are Taught Include:

-keyboard geography
-sight reading
-note naming
-composition writing
-ear training


Music Pups®  Parent /Tot  Music n Movement class

Looking for something cozy and fun to do with your little one this winter?  Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to sing, dance and play rhythm instruments!
Wednesdays 12:30-1:15 starting Jan.6th. (ending on Mar.9th)
You get a CD of all the songs we sing in the session, a music book and 10 fun classes all for $140! (regularly priced at $160)
Contact to register.

The WeeSleep approach practices only gentle and positive methods to ensure success.
A well-rested child is healthier, curious, energetic, happy, playful, and eager to learn. A well-rested Mom (and dad!) is healthier, happier, more focused, more present and more patient.

When parents entrust WeeSleep to help with their child’s sleep challenges, either through 1-on-1 consultations, online packages or webinars, they are placing a great deal of trust in WeeSleep and the services our team offers.

The WeeSleep team takes this responsibility very seriously. We value your time and your commitment. The WeeSleep Dream Team goes the extra mile to ensre working with us is not only an affordable means to amazing sleep health, but also clear and easy for you. You won’t ever be left confused or overwhelmed. WeeSleep goes above and beyond to provide you with exactly what you need to get your child’s sleep issues resolved once and for all.

While most books and programs dealing with child sleep issues take philosophical stands (based largely around the issue of “crying it out”), we believe that your child’s sleep is more important than our personal views on this subject. That’s why the WeeSleep approach places so much emphasis on accommodating different parenting styles. The bottom line is that you, as a parent, need to be comfortable with your new sleep plan in order for it to work for your child!


Package: Speedy Sleep 911 with Holly Jefferd (VIRTUAL) $249.00 value!!!

This package is perfect for those who need sleep and need sleep FAST! Are you pressed for time, exhausted, overwhelmed, and on a budget? Want a plan that is easy to follow, and one that you can commit and stick to without a full support package? If this sounds like what you need, you can be sleeping within 10 days!



**Today’s Steal is sponsored by**

The Sweet, Safe and Natural Way to Remove Hair

Find out why women are switching from painful and outdated techniques of hair removal, such as waxing and realizing the sweet truth about sugaring. This product is 100% organic, all natural and completely safe. At SUGARGLOW.CA clients leave with smooth and sexy skin that beats out any of its competitors.

Sugaring is a hair removal treatment that has been practiced for centuries throughout North Africa, Greece and the Middle East. The sticky paste is composed of hot water, lemon and sugar. Sugaring is by far one of the most gentle and an ancient technique that’s a natural alternative to lasers, and one that lasts longer than traditional waxing.

Our freehand method is safe and hygienic for all skin types as the sugar paste is never re-used and we will only ever put a clean implement into the jar of paste. Your technician will apply the sugar paste by hand against your hair growth so that when the hair is removed in a flicking motion it’s pulled out by the follicle in the direction of hair growth. This drastically reduces the occurrence of hair breakage, painful ingrown hairs, and also allows us to remove smaller, harder to grab hairs.

Sugaring does not stick to skin but only to the hair and dead skin cells. Therefore, it really gets the hair out of the roots. So rather than a wax that adheres to your skin and pulls your skin when you are removing the hair, sugar just binds to your hair and only pulls the hair and dead skin cells. This is how sugaring leaves your skin smooth and hair less.

It’s sweet, sticky and leaves your skin hair-free.

Sugaring does not stick to skin but only to the hair. Therefore, it really gets the hair out of the roots. “So rather than a wax that adheres to your skin and pulls your skin when you are removing the hair, sugar just binds to your hair and only pulls the hair and dead skin cells. Which leaves your skin exfoliated.

The difference between waxing and the age-old treatment, pointing out the positives of the latter. While “waxing is made of resins and often toxic chemicals,” sugaring is hypoallergenic “with no chemical, fragrance or coloring additives.”Detailing sugaring, an all-natural method of hair removal, HuffPo reports that while waxing and shaving, the two most traditional treatments of hair removal, are less pricey than new age lasering, the foreign procedure is a “way sweeter deal—literally.”


To try it for yourself!  Sugar Glow will be offering 50% off on any one sugaring service (full body is excluded from this promotion). Book by December 31, 2015 to take advantage of this promotion.

Book your appointment via text to Jean at 289-923-8489.  Be sure to mention Mommy Connections when booking to receive discount.

Visit my Webpage at

Visit my Facebook page for more information.


Smoothing the Return

Tips and Tricks for Returning to the Workforce Post-Parental Leave

The thought of returning to the workforce elicits a range of emotions for all of us Mammas on parental leave.  From my experience, return-to-work success starts with Mamma.  If you feel good about your return, the rest of your family will too.

Below are three tips to get you thinking about your return and, in turn, smoothing your return!

Tip #1: Give Yourself Permission

You will sign hundreds of permission slips in the coming years for your children, so why not write one for yourself?  Give yourself the permission you need to make this return to work a success.  Whether it is permission to walk away from daycare even though your little one is still crying, permission to be excited about returning to your routine, or perhaps it is permission to squeeze a workout in before or after work.

Consider writing yourself a formal permission slip on a piece of paper and putting it in your pocket.  I know having this little reminder in my pocket helps me navigate challenging situations!

Tip #2: Set Yourself Up for Success

Set yourself up for return to work success by creating an environment where success is possible.  If you pack your after work time, weekend time, and set the expectation that you will cook, clean, launder, bathe etc. chances are you are going to fall a little short (and/or be a little exhausted).

When you return, start with nothing on the calendar (that’s right – say no), and slowly add-in as you feel ready and willing to, making sure you protect some white space for you!  You need to recharge as well!

Tip #3: Make it Meaningful – Celebrate!

In conversation with Mammas, I generally find the thought of return to work enters our brains just after our baby’s 6-month birthday.  Then it builds and builds and builds, often creating stress and anxiety until the day arrives.

We generally face return to work with a negative perspective.  What if we reframed that perspective?

Try looking at your return to work as a celebration.  Plan a special event to mark the end of your parental leave – like a lunch with other Mammas and babies, a new haircut, purchase a new outfit, or plan a romantic night with your partner.

Then mark that beautiful chapter by creating a scrapbook, a collage or Flipgram on your phone to remind you when you need it of all the joy that year brought you.

Now, get some celebrations into that calendar!  Mark your 1-month post-return anniversary with a special plan – perhaps a dinner out, a trip up North, or a daytrip to the zoo.  Keep planning those special events and don’t forget a family vacation in the mix.  Studies show we get more excitement and enjoyment out of the anticipation stage (so plan well in advance and create lots of great events to look forward to!)

Looking for more tips and tricks to support your return to the workforce?  Visit The Mamma Returns, Facebook, or Twitter to get our regular free blog tips and tricks to smooth your transition!

Megan Cosgrove PCC, CHRP is the Founding Mamma of The Mamma Returns.  Megan saw the need for transition support for women returning to the workforce post-parental leave while in human resources.  After the arrival of her daughter, she married her executive coaching experience with her human resources experience to create The Mamma Returns.

The Mamma Returns ( uses the pillars of clarity, confidence and connection to smooth the transition back to the workforce whether you are returning, making a change or launching a business as a Mamma-preneur. Transitioning?  Get in touch and we will build a program specifically for you that best supports your return to work and your budget.


Returning to the workforce? Job Searching? Starting your own business?  Looking to wrap-up 2015 and launch into 2016?

For today’s 6 days of giveaways, The Mamma Returns is offering a 1-hour executive, transition or life coaching session.  A value of $225!



Help your child establish a firm foundation of health for their bright futures with highly qualified Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Kate Mclaird and Occupational Therapist, Emily Shermeto at the Kids Clinic.

Dr. Kate McLaird (1)

Learn how to treat your child’s health concerns (ear infections, colic, eczema, etc) using safe and natural prescriptions that are without side effects with our highly qualified and licensed naturopathic doctor and with the expertise of our occupational therapist, you can learn how to optimize your little one’s motor skills, body control and feeding and sleeping patterns. If you have more specific questions, do not hesitate to call before claiming this holiday promotion to see how your child can benefit. Emily_Shermeto



Today’s Steal

For this holiday season’s “Christmas Steal”, the Kids Clinic is excited to offer exclusively for the Mommy Connection Network a 50% reduction on a naturopathic medical initial consult (savings of $90) as well as a 50% discount on an occupational therapy initial consult (savings of $125).

Copy of Kids Clinic Promo-2

How to claim this prize:

This offer is available for new clients to the Kids Clinic and must be used within 6 months of purchase to maximize your little one’s health as soon as possible! Limited quantity available so claim yours quickly by contacting the Kids Clinic friendly Support Services Manager, Sharon Murdoch, via email at or calling directly at  905 436-1600 x4001.

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