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  • Isobel Mary Champion

Autumn: Farm Shops, Matrescence, and Keeping Warm!





Hello! October is here already, half term is nearly upon us, and if you didn't already know, I am Autumn's number one fan, and I hope you will enjoy this, my Autumn newsletter - full of lots of my favourite ways to enjoy this beautiful season with your kids (and without them!), and a few of my favourite eco-friendly, holistic and sustainable parenting tips.


I know a lot of parents have been struggling with their child's behaviour since they started back with a new school year in September, and a lot have worried about the uneaten packed lunches, or about the number of times they have been handed a pair of wet pants in a plastic bag at the end of the day, but my best piece of advice has always been this - give it until half term! Going back to school (or even starting one for the first time!) is a massive transition, and it usually takes until just around half term for things to settle down - or make that January if your little one has started a brand new school!





I hope you enjoyed the Summer holidays, and if you managed to go for a post-pandemic getaway abroad, lucky you! I am still dreaming of the day I get to use my passport again! I did enjoy the Summer though, and was delighted to be asked to contribute my thoughts on both Sarah Watkins' beautiful new book 99 Eco-Activities for your Primary School, and the innovative new parenting app Onoco, which I am delighted to have become an affiliate of (you can read more about both right here on my blog!).





This Summer I also managed to squeeze in a quick photo shoot with Katrina Campbell to celebrate five lovely years since I started my 1:1 coaching with parents - she did an amazing job in her extremely beautiful home studio! But by far the nicest activity I took part in this Summer was a beautiful yoga and flower arranging day retreat at the gorgeous Forty Hall Estate here in Enfield, the event was called "Breathe and Bloom" and was hosted by Yoga by Chantelle and Rebel and Wild Flowers, and was the first group activity I have taken part in since before the pandemic, and it was truly heavenly!






Speaking of group activities, this Autumn I have been delighted to launch three of my own new group sessions, which I am pleased to be able to offer to workplaces, schools, and local wellness hubs in London, Essex, Middlesex and Herts! These feature some of my favourite health and wellness professionals, and are as follows:

Group session 1.


Helping New Parents to Thrive

Fourth Trimester Wellbeing & Parenting While Pregnant with myself Isobel Mary Champion,

PLUS Pre and Post-Natal Personal Trainer and Registered Nutritionist Emma West answers your new-parent wellness questions.



Group session 2.


Mindful Parenting for Pre-schoolers

Mindful Approaches to Pre-schooler Defiance with myself Isobel Mary Champion,

PLUS Navigating Pre-schooler Sleep with Infant Sleep Coach Maria Murphy.


Group session 3.


Mindful Mealtimes and Allergy-Aware Celebrations

Holistic Approaches to Mealtimes & Fussy Eating with myself Isobel Mary Champion,

PLUS Allergy-Aware Party Planning with Food Writer and Allergy Mum Manpreet Azad.





Get in touch ASAP if you think you may be interested in holding a group session at your school or place of work! Fab food writer and Allergy Mum Manpreet and I actually met up very recently, and as usual we ended up talking about food, food-shopping, cooking, eating and recipes! Here Manpreet shares one of her favourite Autumnal recipes with us, for her allergy-friendly Salted-Caramel Apple-Crumble Muffins (wow!), which are definitely worth a try (with or without little helping hands!)!




Manpreet's Allergy-Friendly Salted-Caramel Apple-Crumble Muffins:


Salted-Caramel Apple-Crumble Muffins


  • Makes 12

  • Prep time: 25-30 minutes

  • Cook time 20 minutes


Manpreet: "These are incredibly light and fluffy and taste just like apple crumble but in a cake! You would never know they were vegan!


"I filled these with salted caramel (actually, I cheated and used Biscoff Spread in the centre to save time, but you could make your own dairy free salted caramel if you wanted to). Aldi have a Dairy Free and Soy Free version if you are avoiding soy! I love the addition of this, it takes these to another level!


"These apple crumble muffins do take a bit longer to make than your simple muffin recipes, but I think they are perfect for this time of year and a great way to use up any apples from your garden!


"And…They are healthy too! We know apples are great for us, the cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory and great for digestion, so a little bit of nourishment thrown in for you too!

I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 250ml unsweetened dairy free milk (oat milk or soymilk work well)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 Apples, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks (approx. 120g)

  • 250g plain flour

  • 125g light brown sugar

  • 60g dairy free butter

  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder

  • 0.25 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 0.5 teaspoon salt

  • 0.5 teaspoon of cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • dairy free salted caramel or smooth Biscoff Spread


For the topping:

  • 45g oats

  • 65g plain flour

  • 50g dairy free butter

  • Pinch of cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar


Method:


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and line your muffin tray.

  2. First make your apple crumble topping by mixing all the topping ingredients together with your hands in a bowl. The mixture should look like a crumble. If it is too sticky then add a little flour.

  3. Gently cook your apples to soften in a pan adding 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of cinnamon, adding a little water at a time so they are soft and still formed (not mushy). This should take about 5-10 minutes on a gentle heat.

  4. Next combine your dairy free milk and apple cider vinegar in bowl and mix together. Leave for 5 minutes to curdle.

  5. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the dairy free butter. Use your hands to mix together and form a breadcrumb texture.

  6. Next add the milk and vanilla extract, mix together to combine, careful not to over mix.

  7. Fold in the apple.

  8. Spoon the mixture into the case so it’s just under half full. Add a large teaspoon of your salted caramel (or Biscoff Spread ) into the centre of the batter and add the remaining batter on top. Then sprinkle your apple crumble topping on top so that its fully covered.

  9. Cook for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

  10. Allow to cool before eating.


Enjoy!"





Yum! Enjoying seasonal food and cooking together are just two of the ways to make the chilly mornings, darker afternoons and grey skies of Autumn feel a little more cheery - and don't forget to indulge in the sensory pleasures of conkers, acorns, crunchy leaves, woolly mittens and hot chocolates (that goes for you too, not just the kids - for children it's called sensory play, for adults it goes by the name of mindfulness!)! Head outside with your child to seek and collect what interesting natural treasures you can find, and then bring them indoors and create Autumn themed sensory trays or decorations.


There are so many things to enjoy and observe with children in Autumn - like Spring, it is a season of change and abundance. If you can get out to a farm shop or a farmers market, these can be wonderful places for your children to witness the incredible colours, shapes and sizes that nature can produce at this point in it's yearly cycle, and to learn and ask questions about the changes of the seasons, and how things grow. Find your local farm shop here, or your local farmers market and shops here.






I love Halloween and Bonfire Night (although I totally get that some people don't!), and if nothing else, they are a great excuse to get outdoors, join in with community events, organise another gathering, and a reason to brighten up the darker evenings with some lanterns and a few sweet treats! Noticing and marking the changing of the seasons is really important for our overall feelings of good health and well-being, so even if it's not your favourite celebration, it's always worth finding your own way to mark the change with your kids. Some of my favourite ways to enjoy Autumn with kids include:


  • Autumn themed sensory play (think cinnamon scented cloud dough!)


  • Wrapping up warm and throwing an Autumnal barbecue (think sausages, marshmallows and sparklers, and mulled cider) with friends or family.


  • Going pumpkin picking at your local patch.


  • Feeding the birds in your garden to help them survive the winter.


  • Making gingerbread men, apple and blackberry crumble, or treacle toffee with your kids.


  • Inviting local friends and their kids over for a Halloween themed party!


Also, why not host a #CookForUkraine supper club or bake sale? I have been hearing so much about this fantastic fundraising movement lately! Some of the recipes on the website look awesome!






This Autumn and Winter I am learning more about "matrescence", to broaden my knowledge and enrich my support for Mothers-to-be and new Mums, as well deepening my understanding of that crucial period known as the "fourth trimester" (the 12 weeks immediately after giving birth). If you haven't already heard the term "matresence" (it rhymes with "adolescence") it describes the difficult transitional period that women go through in becoming a Mum. Just like adolescence, it is a period that can be swirling with frustration, boredom, confusion, melancholy, rage and guilt, but unlike adolescence, it is rarely acknowledged as being this way.


Often new Mums feel the pressure to be everything and do everything, and present a picture-perfect image of Motherhood (while on the inside they might be wondering what has gone wrong, and why things just don't feel right). If you would like to hear more about matrescence, I highly recommend Alexandra Sacks' TED talk, and if somebody you know is approaching the fourth trimester, the book The Forty Days by Heng Ou is a must read for all involved. Get in touch if you feel like this is something you would like to talk more about, or if you have something to share!






Oh my goodness, how can we not talk about the heating bills and how to keep warm this Autumn!? It's yet another scary piece of news we could really do without on top of all the other global transitions we have been going though in the last few years (not to mention the last few months!), so here are a few ways to keep warm as the days get chillier!


  • Get outside for a brisk walk every day, if possible in the sunshine.


  • Take up cold water swimming (my sister recently started this and swears by its warmth boosting properties!)


  • Keep active indoors - traditional housekeeping activities such as ironing and vacuuming are bound to warm you up (I'm not joking!)!


  • Sit near the oven while it's on and enjoy its warmth - even better if you have an Aga!


  • Wear naturally cosy fibres such as wool and down-filled garments.


  • Invest in some good quality thermal undergarments (bamboo layers are my fave!).


  • Seal drafty single-glazed windows with a sheet of clear plastic or bubble wrap - you will be amazed by the difference this makes!


  • Move your bed (and your child's bed) away from the window.


  • Cuddle your loved ones, or get yourself a seratonin-boosting furry friend to cuddle!





I know I said this last year, but need a little grown-up fun to look forward to this Autumn? Why not go German, and celebrate Oktoberfest (come on, why not?)! Check out what's going on in London with this helpful guide, or why not book yourself in for some German sausage, bier, and apfelstrudel, at the beautiful German Gymnasium at St Pancras in London (one of my favourites for brunch or lunch!) - or if Alpine fondue and rosti are more your thing, check out St Moritz in Soho.





I always encourage parents to choose sustainable and eco-friendly products wherever possible, and here are a few of my favourite products at the moment:


  • Visit Polarn O. Pyret for the original, responsible merino wool thermals for kids - join their circular fashion movement with POP Second Hand.


  • Check out Ginger Ray for their gorgeous eco-friendly party supplies.


  • You must take a look at Bobux's super cute, sustainable, carbon negative bamboo kids shoes!








For more reading material, why not check out my other posts for more info and advice on screen time, dinner times, fussy eaters, buying pre-loved children's clothing, or decluttering before your new baby. Plus don't miss my posts with Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness and Nutrition expert, Emma West, about Following a Plant-Based Diet for your Child, Weaning, Cows Milk Allergy and Pre- and Post-Natal Nutrition - we have a new one coming up that's going to be all about SUGAR!







Visit the rest of my website to find out more about my parenting coaching services, child development, child behaviour, and positive parenting!


I hope you and your family enjoy the coming season and all it's changes, do get in touch and let me know your plans, I would love to hear from you!


All the best,



Isobel x






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