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Easy pumpkin recipes to make at home

Lily Simpson, founder of The Detox Kitchen, shares her hearty and warming pumpkin recipes, which are rich in vitamins, essential minerals and fibre  

Chickpea, Pomegranate & Pumpkin Curry

Serves 4 • 285 calories per serving

Chickpeas seem to have been made for vegetable curries as they have a wonderfully satisfying texture and they soak up all the spicy flavours. This recipe combines Indian spices with some Middle-Eastern influences in the pomegranate seeds and mint. The curry makes the perfect nourishing meal when you’ve been hit with the flu – iron and vitamin C are essential for a strong immune system, and coconut contains lauric acid, which has anti-viral properties.

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Ingredients:

  • ½ large pumpkin
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated with the skin on
  • 5 curry leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra leaves to garnish

Method:

  1. To prepare the pumpkin, cut the piece in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres. Cut each half into four pieces, then peel off the skin and discard. Cut the flesh into 1cm-thick wedges or half-moons.
  2. Set a large pan on a high heat and add the oil. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes. Now stir in the garlic, ginger and curry leaves and cook for 3 more minutes. Mix in the curry powder, cardamom, chilli, 100ml water, the salt and the pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the pumpkin to the pan with 150ml water. Stir well. Simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the pomegranate in half and place the halves cut side down on some kitchen paper. Gently tap them with a wooden spoon until all the seeds have fallen out. You will have to remove some of the skin that has fallen out too. Set the seeds aside.
  5. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk to the curry and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Finally, add the lime juice and chopped mint and stir through. Serve hot, garnished with the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.

Rich in Vitamins B1 (thiamin), C and E • Iron • Potassium • Phytoestrogens • Fibre

Pumpkin feijoada

Serves 4 288 calories per serving

The stew known as feijoada is one of Brazil’s national culinary treasures and it is often made for large gatherings of family and friends. It is traditionally based on meat but this vegetarian version with pumpkin and black beans is just as good and hearty.

Ingredients: 

  • 200g brown or wild rice 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • onion, diced
  • garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 tbsp grated fresh root ginger 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 400g tinned black beans, drained and rinsed Zest and juice of 2 limes, plus lime wedges
  • to serve
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • A small handful of fresh coriander Flaked sea salt

Method: 

Put the rice in a pan with a pinch of salt and cover with three times the amount of Bring to the boil, then simmer until tender – brown rice will take 20–25 minutes, wild rice 30–35 minutes. Drain and keep hot.

While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is Add the ground coriander, the red and yellow peppers and pumpkin and cook for a few more minutes, stirring. Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the black beans, the lime zest and juice, cherry tomatoes and smoked paprika and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes until the beans are hot.

Meanwhile, pick the coriander leaves and set aside. Finely chop the Add them to the pan and mix into the feijoada.

Serve the feijoada with the rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges for squeezing.

Pumpkin, cherry and almond pie

Serves 4 646 calories per serving

Using pumpkin in sweet dishes has a long history – pumpkins were once stuffed with apples, sugar and spices to serve with savoury foods, and spicy, sweet pumpkin pie is traditional for American Thanksgiving. I love the naturally sweet, smooth texture of this pumpkin filling, which works very well with cherries. The pastry base can be a little fiddly as it doesn’t hold together like a regular shortcrust, but it’s worth the faff. If the pastry breaks as you line the tin, you can just patch it.

For the pastry:

  • 200g porridge oats 150g ground almonds Grated zest of 1 orange 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp wheat-free flour, plus extra for rolling out and dusting the tin

For the filling:

  • 400g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil 2 tbsp maple syrup 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom 70g ground almonds Grated zest of 1 orange 3 eggs
  • 400g fresh cherries, stoned and cut in half

To serve:

100g fresh cherries 1 tbsp honey Coconut yoghurt

Method:

To make the pastry, put the oats, almonds, orange zest, maple syrup and egg into a large mixing bowl and bring together with your hands to form a dough.

Dust your work surface with the tablespoon of Place the dough on the surface and knead into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30–40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Dust a 20cm fluted tart tin with flour.

Lily Simpson. Photography: Issy Croker

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on the lightly floured Place it over the tart tin and gently press over the bottom and into the sides. Trim off the excess and use to patch any holes. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then set the pastry case aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

To make the filling, spread out the pumpkin on a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes until Leave to cool, then tip into a food processor, add the oil and maple syrup, and blitz until smooth. Add the rest of the filling ingredients, except the cherries, and blitz to combine – the texture should be similar to a sponge cake mixture.

Pour the filling into the pastry case. Scatter the cherries evenly over the surface and press them halfway into the mixture so that they are still visible on top. Bake for 25–35 minutes until the filling has set and is lightly golden on top. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before

While the pie is in the oven, put the additional cherries in a pan with the honey and cook on a low heat for a few minutes until the cherries have Allow to cool.

To serve, top each piece of pie with coconut yoghurt and some honeyed cherries.

For more easy pumpkin recipes, pick up a copy of the October/November issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine or subscribe today.

 

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How pumpkins can boost our health

Resident blogger Megan Mclean shares her fondness for Autumn and reveals why pumpkin is the ultimate seasonal creeper and not just a Halloween accessory

In Season: The pumpkin (Cucurbita)

Autumn is a spectacular season that should be cherished until it officially hands over to winter on December 21.

We are all guilty of rushing through Autumn, tempted by winter’s offerings of cosy Christmas mornings and a merry New Year’s Eve, but this is a truly magical time.

So many thoughts come to mind when we think of fall – crackling fires, fluffy socks, the crunch of leaves, whistling winds, candles and, of course,  pumpkins – the personification of Autumn.

The pumpkin derived its name from the Greek word “pepon” which means “large melon” and is a member of the cucurbitaceae family, along with cucumbers, melons and watermelons. Pumpkins are actually creeping herbs, which can grow up to an impressive 10 metres in length and are characterised by their slightly ribbed skin and deep orange colour.

Pumpkins begun their production in North America and still have deep roots in Mexico, where you will find market stalls piled high with all shapes and sizes, but mainly the Calabaza, or West-Indian pumpkin. This variety is a beige colour and often has green stripes running down its bumpy exterior.

The Calabaza is closer to the pumpkins of the past than the vibrant orange selection displayed next to supermarket entrances today. Originally this fruit was far smaller, harder and bitter-tasting, but extremely durable – meaning it had no problems surviving harsh winters.

What shines through when investigating the use of pumpkins as a food source in Mexico is their impressive creativity. Pumpkin flesh is cooked into curry sauces, tamales or crystallised into a sweet treat, for example. The seeds, or pepitas as they are also known, can be lightly fried with salt and then either used to garnish a multitude of dishes, or ground up into a powder.

How can pumpkins help boost our health?

Replenishing iron stores

One cup of cooked pumpkin (244g) contains approximately 3.5mg of iron, almost 20% of the recommended daily allowance for women of 14.8mg. Iron is the only vitamin that has a higher RDA for females than males, with 8.7mg a day recommended for men. Keeping hold of the seeds will add another protein supply into the diet, as well as being listed as one of the top food sources of iron.

Vitamin A

Pumpkins are incredibly rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A which is converted to retinol (active form of vitamin A) in the small intestine. Beta-carotene is found in many plant sources and is responsible for the red-orange colour of some vegetables. It’s also an antioxidant, substances in our bodies fighting to prevent free radicals from causing us harm while they roam for free electrons.

They also remove toxins, reduce infection risks and are thought to aid in preventing certain types of cancers. The recommended intake of vitamin A is 900mg/day for men and 700mg/day for women to prevent deficiencies and positively affect immune function, promote healthy vision, growth and is essential for the development of a foetus in the mother’s womb.

Phytoestrogens

Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens which occur naturally in plants and can be taken in through a diet containing fruit, vegtables, nuts, grains and legumes. They are also commonly referred to as dietary estrogens because of how they work, basically they are very similar in structure to the hormone estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and are treated in the exact same way by receptors.

For this reason, they are a natural source of help for women who’s hormones levels are fluctuating as they approach, or go through menopause, a dietary supply of estrogens can help alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, tiredness, irregular periods and mood swings.

As if this little green seed full of phytoestrogens wasn’t incredible enough as it is, various studies have proposed they may also contain useful properties for fighting breast cancer, inhibiting growth of breast cancer cells.

Zinc

After discussing how women can reap the benefits of the pumpkin it seems only fair to mention zinc, if there is one nutrient that men should be aware of in relation to their health, this is the one. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is a vital contributor towards bone mass, muscle building, red blood cell production and regulating libido.

It’s assumed by some that testosterone levels are very stable in most men, or will only falter in elderly gentlemen, however most men will experience low testosterone levels at least once in their lifetime. Several symptoms can accompany low levels of this hormone, for example – erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, reduced hair loss, reduced muscle mass and increased body fat.

One way of preventing these symptoms is to simply maintain a healthy balanced diet, ensuring adequate sources of zinc from foods such as pumpkin seeds, which can easily be sprinkled over meals or eaten as a snack.

Sadly, fresh pumpkin is quite often put on the back burner for 10 months of the year here in Scotland, waiting patiently for the dark nights to draw in, the temperatures to drop and for the Halloween planning to begin. Not only that, but once the time does finally come for pumpkins to emerge from the darkness, we celebrate by carving into the exterior and throwing away all the nutrient dense goodness that is the flesh and seeds.

This Autumn, take a minute to put aside your squishy carving leftovers or even make a few extra pumpkin purchases and get creative, you won’t be disappointed.

The versatility of the pumpkin is often underestimated, it can be enjoyed in sweet or savoury dishes alongside flavours such as cinnamon, apple, chocolate, ginger, cranberry, vanilla and walnut. A wonderful way to eat pumpkin is to fill the hollowed-out interior with risotto, dried fruit and nuts, then bake whole until heated through.

On the other hand, the scooped-out flesh can make for a deliciously moist caramel and pumpkin cake, filled with autumnal spices and pecans.

For more from Megan, visit Oats and Ends.

For easy pumpkin recipes, make sure you pick up a copy of the October/November issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine.

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7 reasons to visit The Enchanted Forest this Autumn

The Enchanted Forest 2018 got off to a wild and wonderful start earlier this month with the launch of this year’s Of The Wild theme at Faskally Wood near Pitlochry.

Showcasing the autumnal beauty of Highland Perthshire, the sound and light spectacular released a record 80,000 tickets for its extended five-week run (Oct 6 – Nov 4).

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Inspired by the hidden beauty of Highland Perthshire’s wild woods, the multi-award-winning creative team has developed a show rooted in nature and full of surprises.

This year’s show combines breath-taking visuals, state-of-the-art technologies and a powerful musical score against a backdrop of one of Scotland’s most breathtaking woodland locations.

Here are 7 good reasons to visit:

  1. Spend time outdoors in nature & boost your wellbeing – The Enchanted Forest works closely with Forestry Commission Scotland to enhance the natural features of the forest and encourage more people to embrace Scotland’s woodlands.

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2. Experience the ultimate in forest bathing – The forest contains 25 recorded species of tree, a handful of which are native: Scots Pine, Silver and Downy Birch, Ash, Oak, Rowan, Common Alder, Hazel, and Bird Cherry. The oldest known tree is around 200-225 years old.

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3. Help sustain local charitiesOutdoor Access Trust for Scotland, The Birks Cinema Trust and Blairgowrie Riding for Disabled, which has been faced with closure, have been confirmed as the official charity partners for 2018. These organisations will not only benefit financially but will be promoted extensively during the event.

Enchanted Forest 2018

4. Support Scottish tourism – It’s estimated The Enchanted Forest’s impact on the local tourism economy is around £3 million a year.

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Toasting marshmallows

5. Support ecology and conservation – In 2017 The Enchanted Forest donated £500 to Tayside Bat Group (TBG) to install around 30 bat boxes in Faskally Wood. The forest already provides suitable habitat for a range of bat species but these boxes increase available roosting sites for them. TBG volunteers placed the new nesting boxes in a strip of trees along the edge of Loch Dunmore.

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Fluid – created by Squid Soup of squidsoup.org: Dynamically controlled floating points of light visualise the flow of energy, both real and imagined, as suggested by the water and surrounding landscape. Inspired by the myriad of cultural references to energy and flow patterns, from Aboriginal dreamtime paintings to Japanese wave and ripple designs, this uses light and technology to place a dynamic layer onto physical space that is both an augmentation and reflection of it.

6. Embrace Scottish culture & feel inspired – Now in its 17th year, The Enchanted Forest has won numerous awards, most recently being named finalist for Best Cultural Event at the Scottish Thistle Awards for the fifth year in a row. The event also took the coveted Best Cultural Event at the 2016 UK Events Awards in London last winter.

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Illumiphonium – created by Michael Davis of illumiphonium.co.uk: A dynamic and interactive multi-sensory, music-making instrument – the first of its kind. This semi-acoustic, semi-automatic, multi-player musical sculpture comprises more than 100 illuminated chime bars, each of which respond to touch, with ever-changing patterns of light and sound – spreading out like waves over the giant instrument’s surface, bringing people together into a fun and spontaneous music-making experience.

7. Dine out, carbon-free (well, almost) – On-site catering is by Lov Events UK, whose pop-up cafe bars offer a selection of wood-fired pizzas finished off with edible flowers, burgers and fries, mulled wine and more. All cutlery and crockery is Edenware from Go-Pak and fully compostable.

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Ian Sim, chairman of The Enchanted Forest Community Trust, which operates the event, said: “From humble beginnings as a three-night event with just 1500 visitors in 2002, it’s phenomenal to see how much The Enchanted Forest has grown during its 17 years. The love and support we have received is amazing and we are looking forward to welcoming a record 80,000 visitors this year.

“Our reputation as one of Scotland’s and the UK’s must-see autumn events is partly testament to the time we have spent over the years growing a community of dedicated partners, volunteers and followers, believing in what we are doing and listening and responding to feedback so that we can come back better each year. Despite growing significantly we are still a very intimate event and that’s what people seem to love the most. We don’t ever want to lose that.”

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Faskally Wood is home to a diverse range of wildlife. There are kingfishers and herons, and goldeneye ducks that nest in the trees. The 2018 Environmental Impact Study found that the wildlife in the forest shows no signs of being affected by the activities surrounding the event.

As the show goes from strength to strength, supporting the ecology in Faskally Wood is important to the continued success of The Enchanted Forest.

“We have always been keen to ensure that the event has minimal impact on the beautiful environment in which we operate, and the wildlife who call Faskally Wood their home,” says Ian.

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An independent Environmental Impact Study in 2018 confirmed that the Enchanted Forest team takes all possible measures to minimise impact on the forest environment and the wildlife in the forest.

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Fully compostable Edenware

And, when conservation work changed the landscape around Loch Dunmore, the creative team were quick to react to this new opportunity. They removed non-native rhododendron plants to encourage biodiversity and open up more of the loch – which inspired the name of the 2017 show: Oir An Uisge – ‘edge of the water’.

Rhododendron ponticum forms dense thickets and shades out native plants. If left uncontrolled, it will eventually dominate the habitat to the virtual exclusion of all other plant life.

Forestry Commission Scotland plan to replace to replace the rhododendron – which it classes as Scotland’s most invasive non-native plant – with more typical riparian vegetation, such as hazel, willow, alder and aspen.

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Photography: Angus Forbes /Lynda Hamilton Parker 

Did you know?

  • Faskally was purchased by the Forestry Commission in 1953. It covers 365 hectares and is divided in two by the old and new A9. The area where the Enchanted Forest takes place is approximately 66 hectares in size.
  • Faskally is derived from the Gaelic for “stance by the ferry” which probably relates to an old ferry crossing on the river Tummel.
  • The forest attracts approximately 70,000 visitors a year, excluding those to the Enchanted Forest.

Find out more, or book tickets, here 

 

The great outdoors

How to set up an Autumn-themed nature table

A nature setting to suit the seasons – Emily Hamalainen of Little Acorns Early Years talks about the educational and therapeutic benefits of setting up a nature table at home 

As shades of Autumn start to appear and nature transforms itself so vividly, what better way to help children contextualise and reinforce these seasonal changes than with a nature setting within our homes?

A nature setting might be on a window sill, a shelf or a side table – anywhere children can easily see it. The great thing about a nature setting is that it can include anything at all found on your nature walks – pinecones, stones, or bits of bark, for example. We even had a snake skin on ours that our daughter found on holiday.

It’s also nice to use a light cloth hung up as a back drop in a colour to suit the season and a candle or vase filled with flowers or seed heads as a focal point.

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As Autumn arrives, here’s an example of what you might find on a nature table:

          Burnt orange muslin cloth draped over a side table

          Conkers and their spikey husks

          Leaves of varying changing colours

          A beeswax candle (lit when supervised)

          Various seed heads in a vase

          Feathers, stones, moss and other woodland finds

If your nature setting starts to become cluttered or untidy with your children’s enthusiasm for collecting and one season changes to the next, you can reorganise it with a fresh backdrop to suit the season, fresh seasonal foliage in a vase and a gentle tidy. The setting will naturally evolve visually as you add items with the changing season.

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Now when your little one so keenly give you their array of ‘presents’ and ‘treasures’ they’ve found in nature, you can show your thanks by placing them pride of place on your nature setting. For children this brings them so much joy – helping them to feel valued and reinforce their love of the great outdoors. Not only that, it also conjures up questions from deep within- ‘mummy, why are conkers so spikey on the outside and smooth on the inside?’, ‘daddy, why do bees like flowers so much?’ and can even become an aid in story telling. Learning through nature makes learning all the more fun!

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The nature setting is a place of beauty where you can create a still life of a moment in time but even more than that, it’s also a tool for inspiring your child’s imagination and bringing the world around them truly alive!

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Emily Hamalainen is the co-founder and group leader of Little Acorns Early Years, which provides Waldorf Steiner and nature-inspired learning opportunities in Ayr.

Find out more about the work of Little Acorns Early Years in the October/November 2018 issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine.

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Health

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Nearly two thirds (64%) of Brits have dangerously low Vitamin D levels – partly because it’s impossible to get the required amount of sunshine in autumn and winter in the UK.
That’s according to research by VEGA Nutritionals, whose recent survey found that, after being tested, 53% of people in Scotland were Vitamin D deficient.
The study also found that while 19% of Scots are aware of the government’s recommendation that everyone in Scotland should take Vitamin D supplements, only 17% actually do.
Why everyone needs their Vitamin D 
“Vitamin D has many health benefits; it supports healthy bones, teeth, muscle growth and the immune system, all helping to keep you going through cold and flu season,” says VEGA Nutritionals.
“Sunshine is the best natural source of Vitamin D, but from now through to spring, we’re not going to get enough of it. In fact, it’s impossible to get the required amount of ultraviolet (UVB) sunshine to enable the skin to make adequate Vitamin D levels during the British autumn and winter.
“That’s why in 2016, the Department of Health (DoH) issued an official recommendation that every single person in the UK should supplement their diet with 10μg (micrograms) of Vitamin D every day throughout autumn and winter.”
Why Scotland needs the ‘D’ factor 
“Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone diseases, such as rickets, osteoporosis, factures and falls.  Vitamin D absorbs and regulates calcium and phosphate in the body.  Both are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscle growth.  They also support our immune system to fight illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, as well as depression and obesity. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin D protects against colds. So, it is vital for us to get our required daily amount.
“Large numbers of the UK population are at particular risk.  These include some ethnic groups with dark skin who may not get enough Vitamin D from natural sunlight year-round. Also vulnerable are people with little exposure to sun, such as those who cover most of their skin whilst they are outdoors or people who do not spend much time outside. This can include the elderly or people living in institutions such as care homes, as well as babies and small children.”
Why city living compounds the issue
“Sixty per cent of people living and working in urban areas are at a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency in winter, with 16% of Londoners at risk all year round.  The new survey found that the UK’s northernmost cities, at highest risk of all, are also the worst for taking Vitamin D.  Almost three quarters of Scots living in Edinburgh (74%) and Glasgow (72%) don’t use supplements and citizens of Liverpool and Newcastle at 76% are even worse, with only 3% of children receiving their recommended dose.
“Office workers and most indoor occupations reduce your time to be outdoors.  A recent survey found that 15% of workers spend no time in a nature-like environment outside during the working week. In addition, only 30% take a proper lunch-break. Finally, workers on nightshifts are often asleep at the key time of day when the sun can help your Vitamin D levels.”
To help answer this deficiency, VEGA Vitamins (part of VEGA Nutritionals) has launched a new range of Vitamin D3 supplements – available for all members of the family and as a spray, chewable tablets and infant drops for babies.
Vega EveryDay-DInfant-D and Urgent-D products are available in pharmacies and health food stores nationwide and to buy online.