Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vegan Pasta Primavera

I've been laid up a bit this week. I just had back surgery so things have been quite slow over here.  Trying to manage two kids under 2 while adhering to "no bending, lifting, or twisting" is no joke.  I wanted to connect with you all again, but don't have tons of time to dedicate to a post. I figured a recipe would be a good way to share while saving some time.

I plan to edit this at some time in the future (when I'm much better at blogging!) to include a printable version of this recipe, and step-by-step photos.  But for now, you get the short and simple phone post since I'm simultaneously eating and nursing a 4-month-old-today and watching a  Daniel Tiger marathon with a soon-to-be-three-year-old in my lap!




Vegan Pasta Primavera

Cook time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box penne pasta (*choose whole wheat and this can be a WIC item!)
1 small bunch of broccoli*
1/2 tomato*
4-5 baby carrots* (or 1 large carrot)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pink salt
3 tbs vegan butter (I use Smart Balance Light)
3 tbs Tofutti or other vegan sour cream
1/3 cup soymilk*

Boil water in a large saucepan.  Add penne. 
Begin to chop only the heads of broccoli, and slice the tomatoes and carrots thinly.
When chopped, add carrots and broccoli to the boiling pasta. Set the tomatoes aside, these will be added last.
When pasta is cooked through (veggies will still be firm), drain pasta and vegetables and return to pot.
Turn burner down to low. This helps steam off any excess water and to melt the other ingredients together.
Add soymilk, butter, sour cream, and all spices.  Allow these to meld together for 3-5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and serve!

That's it! One pot dishes for the win!  Feel free to play with the vegetable additions to see what flavors your family likes. I have plans to try this with some red pepper in the future. It's a real toddler-pleaser!

*All items with a * beside them can be purchased as WIC items

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Favorite Breastfeeding Gear: Part 2

In this post, I will be talking about my favorite nursing bras and nursing pads.  This kind of information can be very individual, so if you find that my preferences don't match yours, feel free to skip this post and check back for Part 3: Pumping Essentials.

When it comes to structured nursing bras, proper fit is essential.  I highly suggest going at least once for a proper fitting.  I didn't do this with my first.  I guessed, and didn't get fitted until I was 10 months postpartum.  Let me tell you, I felt like a new woman!  What a difference it made to have my girls supported properly.

It is generally suggested by lactation experts that women not use underwire nursing bras due to the risk of blocking a milk duct.  If you are a heavier chested individual like myself, you may find this to be impossible.  There's just not. enough. support!  I like a good, solidly structured bra, and that includes an underwire so the cups don't eventually lose their shape.  I've had good luck at Motherhood Maternity, but I caution you to shop in store so that you can actually try the bra on.  You need to know how well it fits and how supportive it will be before you buy.  If you need a larger size, I suggest calling the store ahead of time to make sure they have your size in stock.  Color options may be limited.  My personal favorite:


Full Coverage All Over Lace Nursing Bra

Sadly it only comes in one color.  For those seeking the suggested wireless option, I like these from H & M:

MAMA Nursing Bra

I'm sure there are plenty of other nice options, but these are my favorite finds for a momma on a budget.

Now on to nursing pads.  I could go into a deep comparison of disposable nursing pads (for the record, Lansinoh brand was my favorite), but to be honest with you, I almost never wear them!  I am a big fan of re-usable anything.  I'm sure I will post about our cloth diaper journey some day.  I would love to claim that it's because I'm environmentally responsible, but it's mostly a lazy desire to never have to run out to get anything in an emergency.  I can always just throw them in the wash if I run low.

I bought a box of the Nuk Reusable Nursing Pads with my first baby, mostly because they were cheap.  They were just alright.  Nice and soft, but very visible through even a thick bra, and they leaked at night.  I briefly switched back to disposable pads while I searched for the best ones for me. Then I heard about Bamboobies.  They got rave reviews, so I had to try them out!  I was a little hesitant when I saw the price, but trusted to great reviews and shelled out for a set.  Aaanndd....I just was not impressed.  They really do hide well under even very thin bras, but otherwise were no better than the much cheaper Nuks.  

Since then I've trialed a few different types with blah results, and even tried sewing my own (even more blah results!), until I went to our local WIC office (check out my recipe posts for WIC approved foods!).  They gave me a sample pack of these Bravado nursing pads, and the rest is history!   


They are soft! They are huge! They are absorbant!  Basically they are little circles of heaven for your boobies.  Mine have since turned pink from accidentally washing them with my daughters clothes, but they are holding up well.

Those are a few of my favorite bras and pads!  Check in again for Part 3: Pumping Essentials.

Feel free to comment or post any questions. 

(All opinions are my own.  I do not receive any compensation for product endorsments.)



My Favorite Breastfeeding Gear: Part 1

You'll probably notice a lot of breastfeeding posts on my blog.  It consumes a large part of my daily parenting experience and it's also a large part of my day job.  I've been trained in breastfeeding education and it's something important to me.  I love helping other moms learn about and maintain the breastfeeding relationship with their babies.  I breastfed my first for almost 2 years, and it's basically my new baby's favorite thing to do!

As a working mom of 2 kids, I also have plenty of experience with pumping, daycare, and breastfeeding on the go.  I thought I would share a short series of posts about my favorite gear for breastfeeding and how it has helped make my experience easier.

I will start the series with nursing clothes.  I'm really not a fan of clothing that is intended for nursing, because it really makes it's purpose quite obvious (most average ladies won't be walking around wearing breast flaps on their shirts - sort of screams "easy access!"), and most of them are combo nursing/maternity shirts, so will end up looking strange if you lose much baby weight.  It also doesn't help that most of them are quite expensive.

No offense intended to the makers, but not exactly the look I'm going for. (source)

I tend to stick to more affordable items that I know I can re-use when I'm done.  A really easy way to accompish this is to invest in stretchable camis that can be worn underneath your regular tops, then pulled down when ready to nurse.  Pros to this approach:  your belly is always covered and you haven't invested much money into a whole new nursing wardrobe.  I personally do not like camis with a shelf bra, because I need a lot more support than that, but I can imagine that would cut out an extra step if you didn't want to invest in a lot of nursing bras.

Another option is to purchase clothing that can be easily be pulled down or to the side for nursing.  Plenty of clothing is suited for this without that being it's intended purpose.  I have several "faux wrap tops" that have the side benefit of creating a slimmer silhouette.  Wrap tops are my favorite option for special occasion outfits, like this Sofia Vergara Wrap Dress.  $14 for a nursing dress? I think I can manage that.



My absolute favorite nursing shirt is this cowl neck shirt from Amazon.  I love it so much I bought it in 3 different colors.  I'm basically obsessed with anything I can wear over leggings on a lazy day, and it's very stretchy so I can pull it down to nurse.  The shop currently has 10% off if you like their page on Facebook.  A third option that a lot of mothers like is a simple button down shirt over another undershirt.  I really don't use this option much though, being heavier chested, because it is hard for me to find button ups that fit both my chest and my waist.

Sometimes all the extra layers make me feel quite hot, so something I've been known to do is skip the undershirt and wear my control-top panties under a shirt that I intend to pull up.  I use these:

(source)

I got mine at TJ Maxx for $3.99 in both black and nude.  It also will (obviously) help hide any postpartum lumps that you don't want to show off!

So, there you have it, the basics of my nursing wardrobe.  Simple and affordable!  Feel free to leave any questions or comments, and come back for Part 2: Nursing Bras and Pads.


(I do not receive any incentives for product recommendations.  All opinions are my own and I'm simply sharing my likes and dislikes with you to help any mommas out there who might need direction.)


Monday, January 26, 2015

Adventures with WIC

Wow!  I can't believe it has been almost a year since my last post.  A year and another baby on the boob!  Our son was born this November.  Naturally my husband and I are over the moon about him, and so is little Miss DeeDee.

To keep a long story short, during my pregnancy with him my family experienced an abundance of financial woes, leading us to seek some assistance.  Enter the WIC program.  I'm sure most of you are familiar with WIC.  It's a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children up to age 5 who are in need of assistance.   They base food packages on nutritional needs of program participants.  It really is an enormous relief to us personally, especially since both of my children are allergic to dairy.  The program helps to reduce the cost of our soymilk and other items that offset the cost of other, more expensive dairy-free items that we need to buy.  The main thing that took getting used to was the abundance of similar individual ingredients allowed with each check (64 oz of beans at a time, 2 dozen eggs, etc.).  It's wonderful, but for someone like myself who is NOT a cook, it has taken a lot of getting used to.

I think I'm actually quite grateful, though, because it has inspired me to get creative in order to make a variety of meals for my family with few ingredients.   That along with some cooking lessons from my wonderfully patient husband has resulted in a few winning recipes.  I figured I would start sharing those recipes for others who might benefit from the inspiration.   My very first experiment involved using up some of the soymilk we received.  Our local store did not have any shelf stable soymilk in stock, and all of the half gallons available had close upcoming expiry dates, so I knew I needed to use them quickly until the store restocked.  Thus experimentation with soy yogurt began, resulting in this winning recipe.  Enjoy!

This recipe involves a crock pot.  I used a 6 qt size.  It's best to start this recipe in the evening, so that it is completed by the following morning.  If I know I will be getting up at 8am, I will start mine around 5pm.

Ingredients:
1/2 gallon soymilk
1 cup soy yogurt
(I used Silk brand for both)

Place the 1/2 gallon of soymilk in the crock pot and heat on low for 2 1/2 hours.
Turn crock pot off and let cool on counter for 2-3 hours until warm but not hot.
Separate 1 cup of the soymilk and place into a separate container.
Mix the soy yogurt into the 1 cup of soymilk until well blended, and then pour mixture back into crock pot and mix. (I used an immersion blender.)
Cover the crock pot and wrap in a large towel.
Place covered crock pot into the oven so it stays warm, and let sit over night or 10-12 hours.
In the morning, remove crock pot from oven.  You should have yogurt!
Separate into containers and refrigerate.  Set aside 1 cup of yogurt to use as a starter in future batches.

(Soy by nature will not turn out as tart as regular yogurt, but will get more tart the more often you use your own starter from a continuous batch.)






The soy will be slightly runnier than dairy yogurt.  It still tastes great, but I am not a fan of the runnier texture.  I prefer a thicker, Greek-style yogurt, so I strain mine to make it more appealing.  I use a coffee filter over a tupperware bowl and let the yogurt strain, covered, about 4-5 hours in the fridge.




You can serve with any variety of toppings or mixes as you can regular yogurt.  My favorite add in is peanut butter granola.  I also separate a few servings and mix with fruit into bags, then freeze them for quick and easy smoothies.


Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe and what you think!




*It appears that this recipe is sensitive to cold (as I imagine any yogurt recipe will be).  If your yogurt temperature does not stay warm enough overnight (about 100-110 degrees), it will not set up.  This is mostly an issue in winter time, so you may either need to skip this altogether on a cold night (anything below 10 degrees F), or actually turn your oven on to a low temperature and check on your yogurt a few times throughout the night in order to maintain temperature. I made this all through the winter with only one botched batch, so it's nothing too bad.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Letting Go...

Well, the day is finally here.

DeeDee nursed for the very last time this morning. It's hard for me to believe we have been doing this for 21 months! I never expected it to go on for so long, but I'm really grateful it did. There were a few tears, surprisingly not from me, when I told her no this afternoon. We talked a little about how she was big now, how we needed to start saving the "nursies" (or "nonnies" as she calls them) for a new baby. She was over it quickly, moved on to coloring in her Dora book. Admittedly it felt less bittersweet than I expected. She's such a wiggly, giggly toddler now that it felt like any other play time to her. I mean, let's be real, it's hard to feel sappy when you have an almost-two-year-old blowing raspberries on your boobs and then giggling hysterically! It leaves little question in my mind that we chose the right time.


Still, it feels odd to have a finality to it today. I've told her no before, but there was always an expectation that she could nurse again the next morning. Feels a little like I'm letting go of my baby's babyhood. Not in a bad way, though. She's just growing up, and it's just one of the many "letting go" days we will experience. My sister-in-law once described motherhood to me in that way.



  Motherhood is just a series of letting go. 



Today it's breastfeeding, some other day it will be kindergarten, training wheels, a driver's license... 


It really does go by as fast as everyone tells you. That's the one piece of parenting advice I'm really, really glad I listened to. Savor your time while they are babies. Smell their little heads. Memorize their features. It's over in a snap, and I'm so happy that I didn't waste (much) time worrying about the next milestone and when I would have more free time. I let her nap on my lap for more months than I care to admit, and I don't regret it at all. I definitely still miss the snuggles, since they happen a lot less now, but I feel like I memorized the feeling so well that it will always be imprinted in my mind. And nursing was such a pivotal part of that idea. It forces you to slow down, take a few minutes out of your day to look in your baby's eyes, just soak them in for a bit. It allowed us a lot of private bonding time, time to engage each other. It's definitely something I will miss, but I think we are ready to move on. 


What was it like when you stopped nursing your babies? Was it sad, relieving, bittersweet? Share your stories in the comments!