Mummy’s Intuition

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Bodhi and I have been featured on my dear friend Aimee Angelique’s Blog– Mummy’s Intuition.  She invited me to reflect on life as a new mummy. Check out the stories here!

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How traveling made me relax about introducing new foods to my baby.

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In the beginning, I thought I was going to be a perfect home chef for my son. After all, I believe his virgin tummy deserves the absolute best nutrition, I wasn’t about to risk damaging it by introducing wheat, processed sugar and food additives in his first year. So from six to nine months it was mostly laboriously prepared fruits, veggies, broths, stewed meats and alternative grains with a few baby rice cakes. And now, here I am after a three week trip to the USA, he’s eaten road side burritos, a croissant and a doughnut!

What happened?!

Well, feeding baby while on the road is tricky. We were armed with a bunch of organic squeezy packet foods, but really, these are mostly fruit (sugar) and grains (carbs). So, while they are organic ‘real’ food, I still question their nutritional value and ability to truly sustain and nourish a growing body and mind. I planned to only use them in emergencies and breast feed as much as possible.

But, Bodhi, pushing ten months was hungry, eating the squeezy packets three times a day plus breastfeeds and still wanting more. So I started branching out and offering him pretty much whatever was on my plate, hence the burritos, croissant and doughnut- which by the way was from Dynamo Donuts, (the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten!) not Krispy Kreme or Dunkin, so at least they were real ingredients.

With this new approach to feeding B, it wasnt long before he was pretty much eating anything and everything. He was having fun and I was less stressed about what he was going to eat next.  I had relaxed and realised 1) that this food thing is a learning experience for us both- while in San Francisco we eat cheap pupusas, it’s not the end of the world, it’s cultural. And 2) that his diet will only ever be as good as mine. He eats what I cook. He drinks the milk loaded with nutrients (or toxins) I chose to put in my body.

So I’ve given up being strict, I’ve given up feeling guilty.  He eats healthy most of the time, but I dont need to get myself in knots over feeding him baguette for breakfast because it’s all I’ve got and he’s hungry. All the new tastes and textures have broadened his palate immensely and he’s accustomed to strong flavours, chill and spices. From seaweed, to sardines, to spicy curry and lemon myrtle lavender donuts… he loves all the weird flavours of the world. Yes!

Roast Winter Veggies Tart with Pesto

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I heart tart, but it’s usually in the too complicated basket for SlapDash Kitchens over here. I made this one up yesterday arvo because I wanted the comfort of roasted veggies but made to look a bit more special. It’s healthy, delicious, pretty to look at and really easy to pull together.

THE VEGGIES

Roast all your veggies at 200 celcius. Cover them in olive oil, salt and dried italian herbs (thyme, basil, oregano). get your hands in there and make sure they are evenly covered.

Pumpkin/sweet potato/potato/beetroot goes in for about 20-25min when cut  approx 1cm cubed

Cauliflower/ zucchini goes in for 15/20min

While veggies are baking make the pastry for the tart shell.

THE PASTRY

2 cups whole wheat flour

9-12 tbsp butter

1/4 cup iced water

Rub the butter through the flour until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Add iced water little by little mixing with a knife. You don’t want the butter to get too warm from your hands. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 30min. Roll out pastry between two sheets of baking paper til it’s big enough to fill a pie tray. Pop back in fridge for 15min. Cover pastry with baking paper and fill the tart shell with baking beads or in my case dried chick peas. Bake for 15min at 180C, then remove the baking beads/baking paper and pop it back in for 5min to let it crisp and brown.

THE PESTO

Your recipe or from a jar (make it much easier)

METHOD

Mix pesto and roasted veggies together, scoop the mixture into the tart shell, top with some grated cheese and bake for 10min at 180C. You are basically just warming and melding all the flavours of pesto and cheese together.

Serve hot with some fresh herbs or rocket to top it off.

Voila!

Baby Piklets

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Bodhi loves eating these. They are really soft to chew- great for the early days of self feeding. But what I love most about these piklets is how quick they are to whip up and how versatile they are.  They can be savoury or sweet, for dinner, dessert or snacks on the go. Plus they can be dairy free, wheat free and vegan!

Basic Ingredients

1 cup flour (I used variable combos, like 1/2c brown rice flour, 1/2c buck wheat flour- sometimes quinoa flour makes an appearance also)

1 cup milk (again, I mix it up, the recipe works with soy, rice,dairy or almond)

1 tsp baking powder

2 mashed bananas

Method

Mix the flour with the milk, stir til there are not lumps. Add baking powder and mix well. Add mashed banana.

3 ideas for additional ingredients

(or get creative with what ever, fruits, veggies, meats you have on hand)

1) 1/2 apple grated + tsp cinnamon

2) 1/2 cup berries, like strawberry + blueberry

3) 1/2 cup steamed veggies- broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, pumpkin (list is endless)

NOTES

If you are making savoury piklets and don’t want the banana sweetness, you can substitute 2 eggs in the base recipe instead.

And you can soak the flour in the milk over night to make the grain more digestible, but I’m never that organised!

Apple Spice Muffins

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This weeks Food Connect box brought a whole pile of luscious pink lady apples, and as we were planning a family trip over the Blue Mountains, past Bilpin, (the apple capital of Bells Line!) I was definitely feeling the apple muffin vibe and so whipped up a batch of these beauties for our morning tea.

(Recipe inspired by the fabulous Teresa Cutter from The Healthy Chef.)

INGREDIENTS

2 large grated pink lady apples – approx 3 cups of apple. NOTE: you can add any other apple you like such as golden delicious or fuji
2 teaspoons baking power
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 organic free range eggs (room temperature)
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
1/2 cup almond flour (also called almond meal)
1.5 cups wholemeal flour

Mix melted coconut oil with two room temperature eggs. Temperature is important because if the eggs are too cold they will harden the coconut oil, BUT if the coconut oil is to warm it will scramble the eggs! (If you don’t have coconut oil you could use butter or another cooking oil like macadamia oil.)

Add vanilla extract, apple, cinnamon and stir well to combine.

Add wheat flour, almond flour and baking powder.

Spoon into muffin tins (it should make 12muffins).

Bake at 175C for about 15min. Check to see if they are cooked pierce with a skewer and see if it comes out clean. If not put them in a little longer. Cooking time always depends on your oven.

These muffins are sweetened only with the apple. So they have a lovely wholemeal goodness to them.  If you want more sweetness when serving you can spread with butter and honey or if you are feeling fancy try roasted figs and ricotta!!!

Raw Flax & Walnut Cracker Snackers!

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This is my first live food experiment involving my Excalibur Dehydrator!

Enter–> Walnut, almond and flax cracker snackers flavoured with tomato and onion from Rawtarian. Thanks Rawtarian!

The RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts (soaked)

1 cup almonds (soaked)

1 cup sunflower seeds (soaked)

1 medium tomato

1 medium onion

4 tbsp flax seeds (whole)

Thow everything in the whizz until it’s a nice smooth consistency

Spread onto baking paper (cut to size for the dehydrator sheets). it’s kinda tricky to spread so I laid another sheet of baking paper on top of the mixture and rolled it out with a rolling pin like I would with pastry.

Rawtarian instructions said to dehydrate at 115F for one hour. Score with knife. Set to 105F for 6 hours. Flip and remove paper. Dehydrate for another six hours.

Final Result

My cracker snackers tasted amazing but were a bit soft in texture and got all stuck in my teeth. The weren’t cracker-y enough. So I turned the dehydrator back on to 105F. I kept checking every few hours but after 12 more hours they were still not the right crackeriness. You’d really need to be armed with a toothpick for a session with these cracker snackers. The best part about them byt far is the tomato and onion flavour combo, however it was the largeness of the chosen tomato that was responsible for the cracker batter being so wet, which meant after 24hours it was still not crisp. So if you are going to try repeating this recipe, use a modest medium sized tomato!

A story about sleep (deprivation)

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It’s no secret that new parents are sleep deprived and I am no exception. People talk about their babies having sleep problems, but my story is a little more complicated because it’s not only my 8 month old son, Bodhi having ‘sleep problems’ but for the first time in my life I have had to face with my own sleep battle… insomnia.

As a child I was ‘a great sleeper’. My parents tell stories about me as a child taking myself off to bed, falling asleep with my head on the dinner table, sleeping long hours as a teenager and as an adult, my partner T talks of me ‘sleeping for Australia’. I have always needed 10 hours a night to feel refreshed. I love sleep, so much and have never had a problem getting to sleep and staying asleep, until now. Even writing the word sleep, I get a little tickle in my brain, a deep longing for the delicious rest I am so completely starved of.

So, what happened? Well, it all started with having a baby. Babies by nature are notoriously bad sleepers because their REM cycles are shorter and they often wake up between light and deep sleep states. I know this now, but I didnt read anything about baby settling and sleep methods for the first 12 weeks, chosing to parent purly on instinct. This instinct involved picking B up when he would cry, wearing him in a sling/ baby carrier and walking him to sleep every day nap and again at dusk, feeding him whenever he appeared hungry and having him sleep either beside or in our bed at night. And I feed him to sleep whenever he wants to (despite people warning of bad habbit forming).

By 8 weeks he was ‘sleeping through the night’ (for babies this means uninterrupted sleep for 6 hours or more). I was so thrilled that my baby was a ‘good’ sleeper and put it down to how secure he must have felt by ‘attached parenting’. But this pattern only lasted until 14 weeks. All of a sudden B started waking every 45-90min, sometimes up to 12 times a night. I would cuddle, burp or nurse him and he would go back down quickly (most of the time) But why was he waking so often?? Perhaps it was due to a “Wonder Week” phase of huge neurological development, or a growth spurt making him want to feed more frequently, a gassy digestive system, who knows. Whatever it was I was at it’s whim.

And after three nights of constant waking. I became an insomniac. While B went back to sleep for his next round of 45min or so, I would stay awake until the next rousing, again and again. The torturous nights dripped away. My mental health deteriorated and I began to fear the dark hours. My partner T was out of town a lot and I felt completely alone and desperate. And it’s not like the days were any respite because B needed to be held or interacted with constantly. I couldn’t put him down for more than a few minutes without him crying out. He was tired, I was tired and his nap times were always on me, in the carrier. I would try to transfer him to his little bed again and again, but he would wake. Sometimes I tried to nap with him side-lying in bed, he would sleep, but I would remain awake, despite being desperately tired.

So, here I was with not only a baby’s sleep issues to grapple with, but now, my own.  One of my wise Yoga Mummas said you’ve got to fit your own oxygen mask before helping others. I realised if I was going to get through any of this, I HAD to help myself get some sleep. I posted to my Yoga Mummas and have had a bunch of great suggestions many of which I was already using, but I helps to get the confirmations to keep on keeping on.

I have learned that sleep comes easiest when the nervous system is calm (so why anyone would let their baby cry to sleep is completely beyond me) and when the body is relaxed and the mind is present. There are  now a bunch of things I do in my daily routine to help pave the way for restfulness and sleep and after a 12 week battle with insomnia I have FINALLY broken the cycle.

Here are a few things I tried:

* Jogging, in attempt to exhaust myself before bed (mixed success)

* Chamomile and other sedative teas (lavendar, oat flower, passionflower)

* Skullcap (herbal smoke, which very noticeably calms the nervous system)

* Magnesium supplement (again to calm the nervous system)

* Not clock watching (it will drive you insane)

* No screens (i got into the habit of reading on my phone in bed, but the light from the screen tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to be awake)

* Focusing on the present, with conscious breathing.

* Trying not to fear for tomorrow and how tired I would be, it can build anxiety which blocks sleep

* Yoga nidra recording by Dr Siddharth Ashvin Shah.

Yoga nidra is really the only thing that worked. It’s yogic sleep, a conscious, deeply relaxing meditation where you observe your breathing and areas of your body in a particular sequence, helping you to bring your mind into the present for an experience of conscious sleep. It’s hugely effective for reducing anxiety and stress as well as any other condition where you struggle to turn you mind off, such as insomnia. The yoga nidra recording I chose by Dr Shah is specifically designed to ease the body into actual sleep, so it begins with a yoga nidra but gives you permission to actually slide into sleep, rather than remaining conscious for the duration. I would sometimes need to listen to the 20min recordings again and again, never more than three times before I fell asleep. But it began to really work for me. And overall the yoga nidra has improved the quality of rest I am getting when I sleep and I now I function surprisingly well on 6-8 hours of broken sleep. Regardless of whether you suffer from insomnia, I think all new mummas should do yoga nidra. A 20 minute session has a similar effect on the brain as 2-3hours of actual sleep! It’s helped me be a more calm, energetic, patient and present mumma.

Zucchini Bread with Stewed Rhubarb and Coconut Yoghurt

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I’ve been thinking about zucchini bread for a few weeks, chocolate zucchini bread to be precise but in the absense of chocolate I desserted this zucchi bread up with some stewed rhubarb and coconut yoghut.

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

1 egg

1/2 cup rapadura sugar

1 teaspoons vanilla

2  medium zucchini freshly grated

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

few handfuls of dried cherries

Mixing it up

Mix together the egg, vanilla and sugar. Add zucchini and coconut oil. Sprinkle in salt, baking soda and finally flour– adding a bit at a time to mix smoothly. Shake of cinamon and then the cherries.

Pile the mixture into loaf tin and bake on 175C/ 350F for about 45min.

Stewed Rhubarb

Bunch of rhubarb

1 tbsp lemon

2 tbsp water

sugar (add to taste if desired, perhaps start with a couple of tablespoons)

Place 1cm chunks of rhubarb into a saucepan with water, lemon and sugar (if using) and cover over low heat for about 10min until the rhubarb breaks down into a stringy consistency and is soft and tasty.

Coconut Yoghurt

I used CoYo. It’s incredible, but pricey. For special occasions only!

Nettle Tea and Steak for Breakfast

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Pan fried T-bone for breakfast? Oh, yes I did… topped with a runny-yolk fried egg. How very British of me! It gave me immense pleasure to cook this steak because A) I was satisfying a craving, B) I was dosing up on iron and protien and C) I rarely cook beef while my non beef eating husband is in the house (and he was outta town).

But back to the iron bit. I have an inkling I’m iron deficient. This past week I’ve been feeling super weak and tired which, you could say, is pretty much a par for the course with the sleeplessness and exhaustion of new mama-hood, however this past week I feel different. I am typically a very energetic person- high energy and lasting energy. I know what it feels like to be sleep deprived, but now this tiredness is deeper, I’m exhausted to my core and feel weak in my bones, my skin is pale and the insides of my eyelids are not the bright pinky/red tone should be. So I’m on a mission to up my iron intake and see if that helps restore some energy and joie de vivre to my days.

I begin with nettle tea.

I came across nettle while I was pregnant. It’s an awfully bitter tea/tonic that is high in calcium and iron. It’s pretty ‘green’ tasting; swampy, weedy and bitter but I’m consuming it for the nutrients not pleasure.

On the pleasure side of the iron coin is steak!

O how I was craving a nice juicy steak, and while lamenting on facebook my lack of get-up-and-go to cook it, an interesting conversation started up about whether or not to salt prior to panfrying. I tried my friend M’s (of Crispy and Citrus) suggestion: No seasoning. No marination. Just a nude steak kissed to a hot pan with a little olive oil for a minute each side. Wow, this was up there as one of the tastiest steaks I’ve ever tasted. The arguement not to salt, she told me, is all about salt drawing water to the surface of the steak which contributes to a kind of steaming action and makes for a rubbery texture- ew! My steak, as you can see, had a crispy brown outer and super moist fleshy inside. Yummo!

But of course there are many other ways to up iron in ones diet. As a former vegetarian I know all aboout getting iron from plants, legumes and seeds. Here’s a run down of a few of my other daily go-to iron rich foods:

-Pate (LIVER!)

-Spinach

-Tahini (Sesame seeds)

-Blackstrap molasses

-Oysters and Mussels

-Pumpkin seeds (I always save the seeds when I chop up a pumpkin and roast them for munching)

But beyond being conscious of adding iron rich foods to my daily diet, I may need to take supplements. And since I am suspecting I have a clinical deficiency I’m going to have my blood work done to check so I can get a professional opinion on whether I need to supplement and by how much. Til then, I shall continue to take pleasure in steak for breakfast.

Chia Superfood Smoothie

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Chia seed is an antioxidant and omega-3 bomb. As a breastfeeding mumma I’m conscious of the need for Omega-3 as a building block for Bodhi’s growing brain and the more I consume the more he gets via my milk.

Over the last six months, I’ve been soaking chia seeds with my morning porridge but now I’m getting into diversifying how I can add it to many more meals throughout the day.

Starting simple I’m now adding chia gel to smoothies. If you soak chia for 20min (1 part chia to 9parts water or any kind of milk) it’s much more easily absorbed by the body. It grows in size and forms a lovely gel around the seed, which will remain still a little crunchy. You can add this gel to baking and smoothies to boost the nutrient content, or just gobble up a bowl of the gel with some fruit and nuts and call it ‘porridge’ even without the oats!

This smoothie is really basic and you can mix and match your favourite seasonal fruits and milks

INGREDIENTS

2 frozen bananas

1 mango

about 1.5 cups of rice milk

2 tbsp of chia seed

METHOD

Whizz fruit and milk in a blender. Add chia last stirring in gently then leave to soak for 20min so the chia gel forms.

As a side note, I’ve heard health nuts go on and on about chia being good for weight loss as the gel can boost endurance, so you can exercise harder for longer, then apparently chia also curbs hunger, with the gel taking up a lot of space in your tummy. Not that either of these things motivates me in my love of chia, but definately adds to the impressive list of goodness required for it’s ‘superfood’ crown.