Choc Chip Oatmeal Lactation Cookies

I have just finished eating my first batch of Choc Chip Oatmeal Lactation Cookies. I only made them a few days ago but they are all gone, as I’ve been madly trying to get my milk supply up. My breastfeeding has dramatically improved over the last week and now so has my supply. The secret to these cookies is the combination of oats, brewers yeast and flax seeds. All of which are meant to boost milk supply. I was nearly going to buy some lactation cookies but I’m so happy I made my own. Not only are they cheaper, but they are really easy to make. I have also been taking a breastfeeding supplement which combines fenegreek seeds and blessed thistle. I believe both the supplement and the cookies have really made a difference. This afternoon at my lactation coaching the milk was gushing out which usually only happens first thing in the morning.

This recipe is adapted from the blog Beyond Little Pink Lines. I just tweaked the recipe a little, adding cinnamon and chocolate chips instead of sultanas. I chose to use 4 tablespoons of brewers yeast, to get the full benefit of this ingredient. But be warned, it is quite a bitter flavour, so you really need the chocolate chips or some kind of sweet dried fruit to off set the taste.

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Ingredients:

1 cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup panella sugar or raw sugar

1/2 cup apple sauce/puree

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

4 tablespoons water

2 cups white spelt flour

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons brewers yeast

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup of dairy free chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line two cookie sheets with baking paper

2. Take a large mixing bowl and add coconut oil, sugar, apple sauce and vanilla. Mix well.

3. Take another small bowl and combine the flaxseed meal with water. Leave to sit for 2 mins so that it becomes thick.

4. Add the flaxseed meal to the large bowl and stir through.

5. Sift the spelt flour and baking soda into the large mixing bowl and add the sea salt, cinnamon and brewers yeast. Mix well.

6. Lastly stir through the rolled oats and chocolate chips.

7. Use a ice cream scoop or damp hands to form a ball of the mixture, place on the cookie sheet and press down with your fingers. Continue forming more cookies on the sheet. You should get about 24 cookies.

8. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. If they are still soft cook for a further 2 minutes or turn off the oven and let them rest in the oven with the door open for a couple of minutes. Transfer the cookies onto a drying rack until they are cool enough to eat. This will also firm the cookies.

*Makes 24 cookies

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Our baby is here

On the 11 April at 4.57am my baby was finally born. We named her Octavia Leonarda. She weighed 3.616 kilogram and was born healthy, without complications. She is now 14 days old and is already over birth weight at 3.8 kilograms.

Her first weeks so far in this world has been a big learning curve for Marco and me. We didn’t realise how hard it is to look after a newborn. But it is also the most amazing thing to be responsible for a little creature who relies on you for everything and that you love unconditionally.

I had a bit of a rocky start from the initial labour, the extended hospital stay and breastfeeding problems, but things are finally starting to fall into place and we are starting to understand our little one more everyday.

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My Birth Story

I had everything planned for how was going to give birth, where I was going to give birth and what kind of pain relief I would and wouldn’t accept. I was meant to give birth in a midwife led birth centre in the hospital. I was accepted in the program during my pregnancy and had all of my appointments with the midwifery team all the way through. However, my plans change dramatically and I was no longer in control of the birth I wanted.

On the 8th of April I had my 40 week appointment with my midwife. I was 4 days over the due date and the midwife was giving me advice on how I could start my labour. She recommended eating paw paw and pineapple, taking evening primrose oil and having sex. So first stop on my way home I picked up some paw paw and pineapple and prepared myself a bowl.

That evening Marco was home from work and I was making a big hearty pot of Minestrone for us between the ad breaks of My Kitchen Rules. I had just finished the Minestrone and rushed back to the couch to see what was going to happen next and I felt this warm sensation down below. I knew I hadn’t lost control of my bladder, this felt different. It was about 8.30pm so in all the excitement I rang birth centre, had a shower and got in the car to go to the hospital. We couldn’t believe it was time. I thought I would give birth to my baby the next day after a short early labour at home. When we arrived the midwife confirmed that yes my waters had broken and to go home and wait for the labour to start.

Labour started around 11pm that evening. It was so painful that I couldn’t sleep. Contractions were spaced between 4-8 minutes apart. So I the next day I went to the birth centre. The midwife didn’t think that my contractions were close together enough or consistent enough and thought I should labour a bit longer at home. She decided to do a vaginal examination to see how much I had dilated. Oh my god it was so painful. I thought it would uncomfortable but I didn’t think it would make me scream and cry out. Turns out I had only dilated 2 cm but I needed to wait until the contractions were closer together. A doctor came in to speak to me and recommended that I should be induced today. I was not interested in any medical intervention so I said no thank you, I rather go home. Before I was sent home I was given antibiotics since the vaginal examine had now put us at risk of infection. Wish I knew that before I decided to do that examine so soon. I also was given sleeping pills so that I could get some sleep. I didn’t really want to take them but later that evening on when the contractions got closer together and more painful I decided it was better to take the pills then not sleep another night and be too tired to give birth.

I ended up getting 2 hours sleep but I was woken up by painful contractions. The contractions had changed as well. They were no longer like period pain. When they came they were more focused in my back and upper thighs and they were paralysing. I actually couldn’t move my legs when they came. This made it hard to labour in different positions. At the time I didn’t realise these were contractions. I thought something else was wrong. I called my midwife and while I was talking to her I found my contractions were not as close together. They had gone from 2-3 minutes to up to 7 minutes apart. She thought I should wait a bit longer. By that afternoon my contractions were definitely 1-2 minutes so I called and said I couldn’t wait I was coming in. When I arrived again my contractions slowed right down. The midwife thought that because I didn’t feel safe I was stopping my own labour. I blame the painful exam from the day before. I tried to labour in the birthing suite for a few hours. However I was told that if things didn’t pick up soon I would be given one more day to continue to labour before I would be induced or I could get another vaginal examine but then I would have to be induced today. Either way birthing in the bath was no longer an option and if I were to be induced I would have to go to the main part of the hospital to give birth. I really didn’t want to be medically induced. I felt bad enough for taken the sleeping pills and antibiotics.

I was told to go for a walk to speed up my labour. So we went decided to go to the hospital food court. I was going to take the stairs, but once I actually left the birth centre my contractions were more painful and had increase. I wish I had the midwife there to witness that. I attempted to eat some roasted vegetables but I was in to much pain to eat. While were were down there my brother turned up out the blue. I had no idea he was coming. He actually drove all the way from Sydney to be there for my birth. He seemed a bit worried when he saw how much pain I was in, but I assured him it was normal. We all ended up going back up to my room, so I would be more comfortable since things had seemed to progress again. However, once I got back up to my room again things slowed down. Especially when my midwife entered the room.

After a few more hours at the hospital and I realised things were not going to pick up enough to give birth any time soon. The pain was still intense and I knew I wouldn’t sleep again that night. I was worried that if I had a third night of no sleep I would no have the energy to push this baby out. As time was running out and I was told I would have to leave my large private birthing suite soon and I would had to make a decision. I agreed to have another examination to see how much I had dilated. I knew they would want to send me away to be induce, but I figured I would still have time to run. However, the midwife didn’t do the exam herself. She sent me down the hall to the main birthing part of the hospital to get this exam. I thought it was a bit strange but I still thought I could come back if I was dilated enough.

I was introduced to another midwife who was setting up the equipment for the induction. I stalled her as long as I could, but soon enough her angry supervisor came to the room and told her to get things going. So I allowed her to do the examination. I was now 5 cm dilated. Silly me thought I could still leave at the point but I was told that was no an option. I was also told I needed another dose of antibiotics to stop the baby getting an infection. I was scared that all this antibiotics was going to kill my baby’s good gut bacteria, but I was assured it was only a tiny amount that would cross over to the baby. After a resident doctor gave 2 attempts to find my vein, his supervisor was called administer the antibiotics. By this stage I was really angry. I had mentally prepared for my completely drug free natural water birth in the birthing centre with one of my midwives. Now I was in the main hospital with a midwife I didn’t know and had already began taking medications. I tried to stall a bit longer but I eventually I was hooked up to the induction fluid. A nice midwife came and and advised me that I should really get an epidural soon, it will make the birth so much easier. I was determined that I would not have an epidural. By this stage my mum was loosing it a bit. She knew how much harder this was about to get for me and thought she would share that with me. At that point I decided my mother and brother needed to go and I was getting this baby out now.

Over the next 6 hours I laboured before I accepted any pain relief. I decided to try sterile water injections to help my back pain. By this stage my back felt so broken that I was unable to walk. I was told it felt like a bee sting and only hurt for 15 seconds. I was recommended to have the 4 injections during a contraction, but I figured my contractions were so painful why make them worse with a few bee stings. It actually it felt like I was being stabbed in the back by four giant knives and it killed me for a few minutes. I screamed and cried and felt so violated and angry. It did actually help with the back pain though, but it didn’t help the terrible thigh pain and stomach pains. So by then I was asking them to bring on the gas. Both these pain reliefs were offered at the birth centre and were an option in my birth plan.

I got really drunk on the gas, but it still didn’t get rid of the pain. I was screaming at my midwives to give me less induction fluid, but she kept assuring me that the baby wasn’t far away now. She checked how much I had dilated and told me that I was 8 cm. By that stage I was losing it. It was already around 10pm and the water injection had started to wear off. The induction fluid was making my contractions more intense then earlier and I felt like I was going to pass out from the pain. So I made a decision that went against everything I wanted. I was having an epidural. Marco was so worried I was going to regret this decision and tried to talk me out of it. But I don’t think he realise how many more hours we still had to go. My midwife listened to his concerns and tried to tell me how long it would take to get an anaesthetist but I said I didn’t care and to just put me on her list. The anaesthetist didn’t end up taking that long. I heard my midwife asking her behind the curtain if she had anyone else she could see first and I screamed out ‘I’m ready now’. Marco had her discuss all the risk with me in great detail, but at that point I didn’t care. I just needed some relief and about half an hour once it all kicked in I felt so much better. Unfortunately I was now confined to the bed and was attached to a catheter but I was comfortable in my decision.

Not long after that the doctor came in to check on me. By that stage I should have dilated another centrimeter. However, when he examined me he found I was still at 8cm. He thought the midwife had been incorrect due to some swelling. He recommended a c-section.  I had already came so far and I definitely was not having surgery. He said he didn’t ever like to recommend c-sections, but he was worried the risk to baby since it was taking so long.i He said he would give me an hour and then he would be back. Luckily for me he took 2 hours to return and by that stage I was fully dilated and could start pushing.

Probably the best part of this marathon labour was pushing out the baby. I wasn’t in pain and I knew every push was one push away from meeting my baby. I had lots encouragement from Marco, a new midwife (new shift) and my student midwife. Over the next hour and a half I got to see the babies head starting to come out and feel her little hairy head. At one point there was some concern that it was taking to long as my medically induced contracts were still a little inconsistent. I ended up having to have an episiotomy to help get her head out. We were waiting for another contraction for her body to come out but for some strange reason it didn’t happen. I was then told to push without a contraction. Unfortunately because of this they would no do delayed cord clamping.

After Marco cut the cord she was placed on my chest. She was all white and blue and slimy but I didn’t care. I couldn’t believe she was finally here. When they took her from me to check her over she opened her eyes so I was the first person she saw. The doctors did some tests to see why she had some crackly cry. Marco went with them, but unfortunately I couldn’t. She was then returned to me and we got to spend the next hour just enjoying her.

So it wasn’t the birth I originally wanted or expected, but it was Octavia’s birth story. The most important thing now is that she’s here and healthy.

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First weeks with baby

After the birth, Octavia and I spent the next 4 days in the hospital. I was lucky enough to get my own room, since I was probably one of the last women to give birth on Saturday morning. I didn’t really enjoy being in hospital. It was the first time I have ever stayed in a hospital and I wasn’t mentally expecting to stay for that long. I think I got lost in the system, so it took so long to discharge me. By the third night my midwife found out I was in the ward and organised my discharge for the next day.

Over that four days I spent a lot of time waiting for wet nappies, hand expressing colostrum into a syringe and eventually pumping for Octavia. I was having a lot of trouble getting her to latch onto the nipple, so I had to end up having to give her a little formula to supplement as well. I was very unhappy and frustrated by this. It seemed once I agreed to it once I was forced to continue. I did feel better when I spoke to other family members who told me that were forced to do the same in hospital. I didn’t sleep much while I was in hospital. I was lucky if I got one hour. By the time I left the hospital on the Tuesday I ended up getting 8 hours sleep in 6 days. So coming home was really nice. I had Marco and Mum taking night shifts to stay up with me and letting me sleep as well.

The first few days at home were really scary. I was worried that I couldn’t express enough milk fast enough for her. I was also still recovering from the birth. By night three at home Marco and I were on our own. It was hard, but we all survived. Every day has gotten a lot easier since.

When she was 6 days old we took her for a photo shoot with one of the most amazing photographers, Luisa Dunn. I previously saw her work on facebook and feel in love with her style. She is so creative and uses the most amazing colours and props to make any baby look like the most adorable little doll. I really recommend her if you are wanting something a little different to run of the mill baby photos.

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Breastfeeding has been much harder then I thought it would be. I thought if breastfeeding was done as soon as baby is born then they were more likely to latch straight away. I didn’t realise that babies  and mums  both need to learn together and it can take time. When I was in the hospital I shown how to breastfeed by about 15 different people. It was so frustrating for both baby and me. Everyone has their own different styles and positions, which may not work for everyone. When I got home I really persistent with Octavia to breastfeed her, but I also had to feed her my own pumped milk to make sure she still ate. By about the third day at home something clicked from us both and I was exclusively breastfeeding. However it was still really painful. I was assured in hospital and by my visiting midwife that the pain was normal and if it still hurt after 30 seconds then maybe something was wrong. I thought perhaps I was too soft but after a couple of days of painful breastfeeding I was dreading every fed and crying during feeds. I went to see a lactation consultant that I meet in hospital and she confirmed that something was wrong. She noticed my nipples were cracked and advised that I give my nipples a rest for a couple of days and go back to pumping. She also recommended getting a nipple shield. Before my next appointment a few days later Octavia was back on the breast with the nipple shield. I no longer have any pain, so her feeds are a lot more enjoyable. I am struggling now to get her off the nipple shield but I’m not going to rush her. For now it is working for us.

Octavia’s favourite things:

drinking mama’s milk – breast or bottle, she’s not picky

warm baths

when nonna tells her a story

trying out new faces – smiles, frowns, surprised

sleeping in her bednest co sleeper

daddy’s early morning feeds

mama’s heartbeat and cuddles

Octavia’s dislikes:

when she can’t find mama’s nipple

when the bottle is taken away for a burp – she latches both hands to insure its safety

changing nappy and wet wipes- feeling so exposed

changing clothes

when mama doesn’t realise I’m screaming because I’m still hungry even though I’ve been eating for an hour

gas, its painful

Babymoon Sunshine eats

Earlier this week Marco and I finally went on our Babymoon. I’m 38 weeks today so we were cutting it a bit close. We stayed at Twin Waters at the Sunshine Coast, but travelled around a bit to see a few beaches and eat out. Luckily I was able to find a few delicious of plant-based options that didn’t leave me feeling jealous of what Marco was eating.

On our drive up we first stop was Kings Beach and the Greenhouse Cafe at Caloundra. The weather was perfect but still a little cold for a dip. But it was lovely to see the beach and smell the sea air.

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I’ve had my eye on the Greenhouse Cafe for a while via facebook. So I was very excited to stop in for lunch. This cafe serves up 100% organic vegetarian food. I ordered the Naked Burrito, which had spiced refried beans, guacamole, turmeric hummus, salsa,  and bamboo infused brown rice. It was delicious and the perfect nutritious lunch for me and baby. They also had a couple of delicious looking vegan desserts but I didn’t want to overeat since we were having a late lunch. Next time!

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For dinner we went Lemon & Thyme, a restaurant at Mooloolaba on the Esplanade. I booked this restaurant in particular because I knew that they catered for food allergies and special diets. Their focus is on providing healthy eating options and using local produce and seasonal ingredients. They only really had one listed vegan main, but I didn’t feel like a thai curry, so they agreed to make the Sweet Potato Almond Gnocchi vegan. The gnocchi is paleo and gluten free and was sautéed with spinach, walnuts and fresh sage. I don’t usually eat gnocchi unless I make it so I was really excited to order it out. My dish does looks a bit messy, because the waiter forgot to write dairy free on the order, so it had to be made again in a hurry. They poor guy also though we ordered a side prawns, so the manager ended up having to eat both for dinner. Other then that it was delicious and very filling. I’d love to try and recreate this at home.

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For dessert we stopped into Gelatissimo on the Esplanade. This is my favourite gelato shop because all their sorbets are dairy free and vegan, including this Chocolate Sorbet. It’s not too dark and even Marco (the milk chocolate connoisseur) approved of the taste. It was a little messy, so I’m happy the girl advised me to take a napkin. You don’t want to see the table after I was done.

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Breakfast was also at the Mooloolaba Esplanade, at Ground Organics. They are organic, vegetarian and only use whole, local and unprocessed ingredients. They also don’t use microwaves and only use organic cold press coconut oil to cook with, so definitely my kind of place.

I orderd the Dandy Latte with the homemade Almond Coconut Combo milk, which is naturally caffeine free. It also came with a sweet little message. For breakfast I ordered the Green Smoothie Bowl. I usually prefer savoury dishes first thing in the morning, but I’ve never tried a  smoothie bowl before. I was a bit worried it was going to be really sweet but it really wasn’t, it was just delicious, refreshing, lite and filling. It consisted of greens, banana, mango, avocado, vegan pea/rice protein and coconut water topped with raw crunchy granola and some dehydrated fruit. Marco also approved but he was also happy with his Ommmmelette with long fermented sourdough. I tried a bite of his and it was probably the best omelette I’ve ever had.

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As I mentioned previously I was determined to swim in the ocean pregnant. I can’t even remember when I was fully immersed in sea water, its been years. Marco isn’t a big fan of the beach. He prefers the pool and hates getting sand in his car.  Lucky for me this day was the perfect weather for the beach. So we headed up to Noosa at Hastings Street. I’ve never been here before so I was pleasantly surprised by the shopping since Mooloolaba was such a let down. Their are also an abundance of places to eat and a gorgeous beach. We originally had plans to go to Spirit House at Yandina, but I was so impressed with this part of Noosa that I didn’t want to leave.

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After some window shopping we built up an appetite so we stopped at Bistro C, which is situated on the beach. Unfortunately the best tables were taken but it was still nice inside and the view was still spectacular. I ordered the Pappadelle, which had tuscan kale, leek, du puy lentil and slow roasted garlic, asparagus spears, roasted swiss brown mushrooms and roasted capscium relish. To be honest I didn’t check if it was vegan I just assumed in my hunger. The pasta did taste fresh though so I assume it had eggs, hopefully ethical good qualities ones. Nevertheless I loved this dish and was probably the most exciting vegetarian pasta dish I’ve ever ordered out. Marco ordered the fish and chips, which he was happy with but he felt like something was missing so I helped him with this side salad of salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, topped with crisp chickpeas and sumac vinaigrette.

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Finally the time had come to go swimming, so we step right outside the restaurant and onto the sand. I won’t terrorise you with my pregnant body in a bikini, which I’m lucky still just fits me, just. But rest assure I had the time of my life. I was a bit scared that the waves were going to hit the baby hard, but there was this nice sweet spot between the crashing waves, which we could just float in without being chucked around. After a little while I convinced Marco to take a dip. We had to take turns since we had a valuables with us. Considering he didn’t want to go in, even though I snuck his bordies in my bag, he had a blast. He was swimming for ages, while I got some much needed Vitamin D. He was having so much fun he forgot that he left the electric keys to our new car in his pocket. Thank god they still worked after that.

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After all that walking I was so exhausted. So that evening after a struggle to find a nice affordable place that our gps could actually locate I was in a bad mood and was willing to go anywhere before all the restaurants shut. So we stopped into a Thai restaurant. I wasn’t that impressed, so I won’t bother sharing that.

After a good sleep I was in a better mood the next day, so on our way home we headed to Kunara Organic Cafe at Forest Glen. This cafe is situated at one of Australia’s largest organic marketplaces. If you love food shopping, particularly for organic food you will love this place. I actually heard about this place on Queensland Weekender. I really wish I lived closer. Luckily Marco was really impressed and agreed that it was worth the drive to come back and stock up on supplies. He also really like the organic butcher which I think sold him.

The cafe is one of the nicest whole food eateries I’ve ever been to. They have a huge range of organic, gluten free and raw foods in the fridge as well as a made to order menu. Their food is 95% organic and gluten free and they also don’t believe in microwaves. I really love this mircorwave free movement. I personally hate them and won’t allow Marco to get one at home. We have a little oven in our microwave spot in the kitchen that does a better job.

For breakfast I started with the Antiox Overload Smoothie, which had blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, goji berries, maca and apple green tea. It sure didn’t last long, I loved it. Not long after my Braised Beans with Pesto Soliders and Nut Parmesan came out. OMG this was the best breakfast beans I’ve ever had. It was vegan but it certainly didn’t taste like it. I’m not sure how they got all that smokey flavour in there, but it was like nothing else I’ve ever had. Even Marco prefered my breakfast to his Bacon, Eggs and Tomatoes. I think next time we will both be ordering this dish. The serve was also really big so I had to share it with Marco, which made him happy.

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I couldn’t leave the Sunshine Coast without having a vegan dessert.  Although they had a big cabinet of delicious desserts they only had a few vegan options. I wanted something rich so I opted for the Chocolate Beetroot Cake. Marco really didn’t want any, but after I forced a bite in his mouth I had to get another dessert fork. He couldn’t believe it had beetroot in it. It was so moist and dense, but also very sweet. So it was a lovely end to a delicious breakfast, even if it was a bit early to indulge.

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Hope you all enjoyed my Babymoon and get to try some of these amazing places to eat out.

If you can recommend anywhere else at the Sunshine Coast leave me a comment below. Once the baby arrives I’m sure we will be taken more frequent trips up there for lots of baby beach time.

9 Months (37 Weeks = Full Term)

I’ve finally made it to the beginning of the end. As of yesterday I am officially 37 weeks, which means my baby can come at any time between now and the next 4 weeks. We think our little Miss is going to come early. She has already seems to be trying to find her way out from the side of my stomach. As cute as it is seeing my belly move like a lava lamp its also getting a little big painful. I’ve finally reached the uncomfortable stage of the pregnancy. Braxton hicks contractions, being hot all the time, swollen feet and ankles, never getting in a comfortable position, being violently kicked from the inside out . I now know why a lot of women talk about just wanting the baby out as this stage. Although to be honest I am a lot better off then other heavy pregnant girls I’ve seen at my classes. I don’t have any pelvic pain, my back pain is mild and my swelling goes down after putting my feet up for a couple of hours.

Marco and I are now really on edge and madly trying to get everything ready for our imminent bundle of joy to arrive. I’ve spent most of this week washing all the baby cloths, cloth nappies, sheets, blankets, baby carriers, toys, wraps, etc. I have also started cooking large portions of food to start freezing, so Marco can quickly whip up dinner in the first few weeks while I’m resting. I still haven’t packed my hospital bag yet. I don’t really know how long I will be at the hospital so I’m thinking maybe a 1 day bag and then a backup. At the birth centre we can be discharged after 6 hours if all is well with the baby and me, so I’m not really sure how many cloth nappies and cloths I’m going to need for her or how much food I should pack from myself. My midwife did recommend that I bring my own food since the hospital won’t be able to accommodate for my diet. I’m not to worried though since after the birth I will probably send Marco down the road to pick me up some Guzman y Gomez for a veggie burrito. I’m really hoping my baby doesn’t react to beans and legumes though. Which reminds me I still have to make a large broth soup for my first few days out of hospital which is easy to digest for both of us. That’s a job for next week.

Something else we finally got around to organising before the baby comes is going on our babymoon. Tomorrow we are off to the Sunshine Coast for a few days. I can’t wait to swim in the ocean pregnant. It’s something that I really am excited about doing since I have avoided my pool all summer due to the risk of chemicals in the water (yes I’m that paranoid). I have only been to the beach a couple of times since the pregnancy, but only got to dip my legs in. So I’m hoping its not to cold so I can enjoy the salty water and cool down my body temperature.

Here is the most recent photo that I took last week. I still don’t feel as big as I look and I’m still convinced that camera has added a little bit extra, which Marco assures me is not the case. Either way I am noticing that my belly is starting to get in the way, when I’m cooking and washing dishes. I actually burn my belly on the oven door the other day because I didn’t realise how close I was to it when I was opening it. Luckily it didn’t leave a mark.

36 Weeks 4 Days - 11 March

36 weeks & 4 days

This week I’ve also work on my Pregnancy Journal. I’ve been putting all my photos together to accompany the writing I’ve being doing every month of how I’ve been going through this journey. So here is the last 8 months.

1 Month

Month 1

These a a few photos we took just before we got pregnant. We were away at Byron Bay for my 28th birthday. As you can see it’s was freezing in July so I’m all rugged up. I was still grieving at this stage and was meant to put off getting pregnant. Oppps! Oh well, I think it was actually the best thing for me at the time to shift my focus to a positive new future.

2 Months

Month 2

By month 2 we found out we were pregnant. You can see how happy we were. Although I’m still looking a bit worse for wear since I was still a little sad and going through terrible morning sickness along with a host of other early symptoms.

3 Months

Month 3

By month 3 I am still sick with morning sickness so I didn’t take many photos. But I did get these photos taken with Marco by a family friend. So we finally got to announce to the world we were pregnant. Not that most of the family didn’t know by this stage since no one could keep a secret. At this stage we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. So I was a little scared to start buying much. Well I was scared but I still did buy a fair bit in whites and blues. I did also invest into some maternity cloths by this stage which have seen me all the way through. Although I could still fit into my jeans back then. Hoping I will again one day.

4 Months

Month 4

By this month 4 (2nd Trimester) my morning sickness has passed, my skin has cleared up and I am starting to show a little. Although Marco says I still look like I’ve eaten a big lunch. I feel great and I am starting to enjoy more foods. Up until this point I was living on avocado on toast and really craving meat. Anything with beans or greens made me want to chuck. So now I am eating more but I still have this strange food avoidance still which I am trying to push through. This was an exciting month as I got to feel the baby kick and hear the baby’s heart beat for the first time.

5 Months

Month 5

By month 5 I am really starting to show. I am really energised and enjoying the pregnancy more and more. I still can feel my ribs at this stage, but they are about to be swallowed up whole. I am starting to get more emotional and a little more fiery. Highlight of this month is that we found out that we are having a baby girl.

6 Months

Month 6

Month 6 was an exciting month when we had a our big party to celebrate the baby shower, Marco’s 30th, our belated house warming and our even more belated engagement. New years was a lot different this year, since I was in bed by 11pm. I also got to travel to Melbourne for the last time. I’m still feeling really energised and baby has also become increasingly active.

Baby Shower

4 in 1 Party Extravaganza

Here are some photos from the party. I can’t believe I tried to cater most of it myself. It was a really busy day and even busier night. But it was so worth the extra effort, since everyone had a great time. This was the first time I got swollen ankles. At the time I was told that I was done for and to get use to having enormous feet for the rest of my pregnancy. Luckily they went down within a couple of days. Still didn’t learn my lesson about wearing high heels. But getting swollen feet and ankles again for a few days after wearing heels in 43 degree heat I learned my lesson and turned back to my flats.

Month 7

Month 7

Marco informed me by month 7 (3rd trimester) that there is now no denying that I’m pregnant, since there is no way I could eat a lunch big enough to fill out that belly. I’m still feeling pretty good. I’m doing pilates, yoga and enjoying cooking. There was some concern at this point that I was not measuring large enough and that the baby could be underweight. But after an ultrasound we found out it was a false alarm and baby in higher percentile of growth. I don’t think I look small though, although I think we both had a big growth spurt by week 30.

8 Months

Month 8

Month 8 was a busy time for buying baby equipment, starting pregnancy aerobic at the hospital and going to birthing classes. We learned a lot and Marco is feeling confident. I however start to get more nervous as the time gets close. I’m really starting to worry that I can’t do this birth naturally like I intended or at all. But its too late now, she is coming whether I like it or not. I also start getting early contractions and belly is getting in the way.

Nursery Inspiration

Something else I starting thinking about over the last month was designing a nursery. I do have the Bednest Co sleeper for the first 6 months, but then I still have to get a cot. I told Marco that I wouldn’t do a nursery since I intended having the baby in our room for as long as possible. I don’t think I will be ready to move her at the 6 month mark. Unfortunately I can’t find a co sleeper that would last longer then that either. But I still need a nice room to change her and feed her at night while Marco is sleeping. So here is my design inspiration.

I absolutely love Angela Liddon’s nursery (top pictures) in grey, white and pink. So I am thinking of doing something similar. Our walls are already grey so I will just accessories with white furniture and pink accessories. I am going to try to do as much diy projects myself. So hoping to get that organised over my last few weeks of pregnancy or over the first 6 months. All I know is that I need a nursing chair, so we are still negotiating which one we will buy. I really like the Nursery Works Sleepytime Rocker but it is extremely expensive in Australia. So I may go with the Replica Eames Rar Rocker instead. Not sure how comfortable it will be though. We don’t have a recliner, just Marco’s old leather couch that is a bit slumped in places. We have looked at so many lounges but its hard to find flame retardant free at a price we can afford. So I think a good quality nursing chair is a good compromise. Anyway still working on convincing Marco, so we will see how we go.

I hope you enjoyed my pregnancy journey so far. Hopefully you will hear from me again soon after my babymoon with some vegan eats from Sunshine Coast.

Purple bean Caponata

This dish was inspired by my lovely Italian neighbours who gave me some magic purple beans. I have no idea what type of beans they are, but apparently they grow all year round. They are large white and maroon beans that turn purple when you cook them. I think they may be butter beans, but if anyone knows what they are please let me know. Caponata is usually served as a vegetable side dish. I added beans and served it as a main. I also served it along side some sautéed green beans and Farinata. This was my first time cooking Farinata and along with my beans it was a big hit with the family. Its tastes like a big crunchy savoury pancake and is made of chickpea flour. Its a great gluten free alternative to bread. Its also a great lunch box filler for kids or work lunches.

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Purple bean Caponata (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium eggplant, sliced in large rounds

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 celery sticks, leaves removed, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon baby capers

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tsp raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.5 cooked purple butter beans or other butter beans

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped

Method:

1. First you need to remove the bitterness from the eggplant, by sprinkling with salt (I just use table salt) and leaving to sit for 10 minutes. Moisture should come out of the eggplant flesh. Wipe the moisture and salt off the eggplant. Then cut into cubes.

2. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Then add onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

3. Stir through the eggplant and another tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté for 5 minutes and stir frequently.

4. Add garlic, zucchini and tomato. Stir through and cook for a further 5 minutes.

5. Stir through the tomato paste and capers. Cook for another minute.

6. Add 1/4 cup of water and once it absorbs a little add another 1/4 cup of water, so that the vegetables don’t stick to the skillet.

7. Add pine nuts, red wine vinegar, sugar, sea salt and black pepper. Leave to cook for 10 minutes.

8. Add the beans and another 1/4 cup of water and cook for a further 5 minutes so that the beans are heated through.

9. Take off the heat and stir through basil and parsley. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot or at room temperature.

*Serves 4-6

 

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Farinata

 

Baked Butter beans and Zucchini

A few of days ago I heard some really sad news that Jessica Ainscough passed away after losing her battle with cancer. I didn’t know her personally but I did follow blog and go to her Wellness Warrior Live Australian Tour about a year ago (post). She also wrote a great book, Make Peace with Your Plate: Change Your Life One Meal at a Time, which spoke of her own struggles with her health and how she changed her life by focusing  on nourishing her body with healthy food and living. She was a great inspiration of mine and I really value what I learned from her. There has been a lot of negative things written about her, which I don’t think is fair. Unless your are in someone else shoes I don’t think you have the right to judge what kind of treatment someone chooses when they are faced with a life threatening illness. I hope never to have to face such a difficult situation and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. There are no guarantees in life and I believe she thrived in a terrible situation. Normally I’m never usually that sad when a well known person passes, but I feel differently this time. I guess because after hearing her story and meeting her at the book signing, she seemed really real, kind and relatable.

Over the past few days I have been making more recipes from my favourite recipe book of the moment, The Oh She Glows Cookbook. If you haven’t seen the book or Angela’s blog, Oh She Glows, I really recommend both. I am determined to cook as many recipes as I can. They are always delicious and easy to make. She also has recently had a baby and I have been enjoying reading all her posts and has been very eye opening to me for what to expect. I might start a new cookbook project with her book. My last one was not very successful. I have had more fun cooking Angela’s recipes. So this is some more recipes that I made over the last few days.

Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve often have cravings for granola. I have bought a few different brands but end up devouring the whole box with in a few days. I was flipping through Angela’s book and found this easy recipe for Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters. I absolutely love this recipe. It tastes so much better then storebought. I had everything already on hand so it was really easy to make. For the dried fruit I used dried figs and raisins. The recipe makes a fair bit and can last a couple of weeks in the fridge. Mine didn’t last that long. I had it with coconut yoghurt, over overnight oats and raw buckwheat porridge or simply with some almond milk. Marco also got very excited about it as well and enjoyed it for afternoon tea at work or a late night dessert snack.

In fact, something else that really paired well with this granola was Angela’s Creamy Vanilla Almond Milk. I did make it a few weeks back and used cheese cloth and made such a mess. Never again. I bought my own nut bag from a health food shop and it was so much easier, quicker and zero mess. Homemade almond milk taste so much better then store bought, that can have a bit of a strange taste. Plus this recipe uses 1 whole cups of almonds, which is way more than store bought, that usually only contain 6 almonds if your lucky. So it is way more nutrious and extremely creamy. Marco even used some to make a cappuccino and it creamed up really well. As you can see below I finished most of my granola by the time I took this picture. 

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Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Creamy Vanilla Almond Milk, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Raw Buckwheat Poridge, Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Raw Buckwheat Porridge, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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On the mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Another recipe I made was the On the mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup. It doesn’t look like much but it is packed full of flavour. Marco wasn’t so excited about this soup until he tried it and he was blown away. Usually he doesn’t want to eat the same thing twice but he was happy to have it three times till it was gone. This recipe is something I came up with when I ran out of green veggies and was left with a zucchini and a can of butter beans. It’s very easy to make and makes a great main meal and leftovers can be eaten for breakfast on toast. I enjoyed mine with mashed potatoes and white wine mushrooms. I didn’t think Marco would like this one but I snuck it in his work lunch anyway and he really enjoyed it. DSC03851

Baked Butter beans and Zucchini (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 brown onion, quartered, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, chopped into cubes

1 cup good quality tomato pasta sauce (about 250 grams)

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

pinch of raw sugar

sea salt and black pepper to taste

1 can butter beans

4 tablespoons good quality bread crumbs

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

4 small roma tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, sliced

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet on medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft and browned.

3. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

4. Add the zucchini and sauté for another minute

5. Add the tomato sauce, water, italian seasoning, liquid smoke, red wine vinegar, sugar. Bring to a light boil, then place on a simmer for 10 minutes.

6. In the meantime combine the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a small bowl.

7. Add the butter beans to the skillet and season with salt and black pepper. Then take of the heat.

8. Top the skillet with the bread crumb mixture and some sliced tomatoes.

9. Bake for 20 minutes and then serve.

*Serves 4-6 DSC03846

Tofu ‘Ricotta’ and Kale Filo Pie

Something I really miss since going dairy free is ricotta or feta and spinach pastries. I often use to buy one for a quick breakfast before work. However all that dairy was not doing my hips a favor. This version has creamy texture and mild cheesy flavor of ricotta without the lactose and casein. The filling would also work well in a hand held filo pastries, which can be prepared in batches and froze before being baked fresh.

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Tofu ‘Ricotta’ and Kale Filo Pie (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

3 cups tuscan kale leaves, chopped

1 brown onion, chopped

375g firm tofu

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon white or barley miso paste

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

1/2 cup vegan mozzarella or cheddar (I used Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

7 filo pastry sheets

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil a fry pan on medium heat. Sauté the tuscan kale leaves in a few batches. Only cook the leaves for a few minutes until they start to wilt, then place on a dish or a tray to cool down.

3. Use the same fry pan to sauté the chopped brown onions, until they are transparent. Place the onion on a dish to cool down.

4. Place the onion, garlic, and tofu in a processor. As it blending add the sea salt, black pepper, miso paste, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast. Blend until the onions and garlic are broken down and the mixture becomes like a moist crumbly ricotta texture.

5. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir through the tuscan kale and vegan cheese. Add more salt and pepper if you need.

6. Take a 20cm-round springform pan and brush the base and sides with with some olive oil.Take 1 sheet of filo sheet and place on a flat surface. Brush the filo with olive oil, then place the oiled side on the base of the pan, letting the edges hang over the edge. Repeat this, layering 5 more sheets on top of each other in a clockwise pattern.

7. Place the tofu ricotta and kale filling in the centre of the pan, making sure its equally distributed.

8. Scrunch the sides of the filo sheets to form a border around the filling.

9. Brush another sheet of pastry with oil on both sides, then scrunch the sheet over one side of the filling, within the pastry border. Repeat with another sheet on the other side of the filling.

10. Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crunchy. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the springform pan and serving.

*Serves 6

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Creamy Lemon Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gemelli

This dish is an adaption of one of my favourite recipes, Lemon Herb Cannellini Beans, from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. This is one of my go to recipes when I’m in a hurry and need a creamy beany comfort dish. For my recipes I decided to add fresh broccoli and broccoli leaves, which full of Vitamin K and Vitamin C. Vitamin K is something I’m really focusing on increasing in my third trimester. I also added mine and Marco’s new favourite pasta, Gemelli. I just love the texture of this pasta. Its tender and chewy and catches the sauce really well. You can find it at good deli’s.

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Creamy Lemon Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Gemelli (vegan, gluten free option, soy free option, nut free option)

Ingredients:

2-3 serves of gemelli pasta or other short pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon italian herbs

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup broccoli leaves or baby spinach

1/2 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup cooked cannellini beans

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (or more to taste)

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet directions.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat, then add garlic and italian herbs. Saute for 1 minute.

3. Add the broccoli florets and sauté for few minutes. Add more olive oil or some pasta water if the broccoli sticks to the pan.

4. Add the broccoli leaves and saute for another minute. If your using baby spinach add in the next step.

4. Add plant milk, sea salt, cannellini beans and nutritional yeast. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.

5. Add lemon juice and add more seasoning if you need, then serve immediately.

*Serves 2-3

I have been having mad craving for sweets since halfway through my second trimester. Apparently that’s typical when your expecting a little girl. But I feel really guilty every time I indulgent in something that’s got too much sugar or not so vegan. Plus I don’t want my baby to be born a sugar fiend like her father.These Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites from The Oh She Glows Cookbook really hit the spot. They are sweet enough with only the additional of a little bit of maple syrup and some dark chocolate chips. Other then that they only contain oats, almonds, peanut butter, sea salt, vanilla and coconut oil. They are a great snack you can keep in the freezer when your sugar tooth strikes.

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Another recipe I made from The Oh She Glows Cookbook is this Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge. You can see a similar recipe for the Raw Buckwheat Porridge on the author, Angela’s blog. I made this recipe ages ago and forgot how good it was. I added some fresh organic strawberries, coconut yoghurt, toasted pepitas seeds and toasted shredded coconut. The perfect easy breakfast for a hungry mama.

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Third Trimester (8 months)

Hi all, I’ve been on a little hiatus this past month. I have been busy with catching up with friends, birth classes and reading as much as I can about what to expect for the impending d day. I have also been generally exhausted since I hit the third trimester. I have been still cooking but my main focus has been trying to make sure I am eating  healthy enough  at every meal for the baby. So I haven’t had much inspiration to create anything very interesting fort his blog. To be honest I still have still been getting this intense anxiety when it comes to cooking. Something I have been struggling with since last April when my father died. I have been finding it easier to just eat more simply meal and follow recipes, than plan anything too exciting. At the moment the most important thing is that I am giving the baby the right amount of nutrients of a daily basis. So I have been keeping a log of everything I eat so I make sure I have enough variety. I try to aim for at least 80 different foods each week, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils and spices.

Nearly a month ago there was a bit of concern that my baby was too small due to the size of my tummy. My midwife even asked if I had been dieting. So I had to go for another ultrasound. I was really stress that I had been doing something wrong and not eating enough. However, after the ultrasound it turned out that my baby was actually a little bigger in her growth projection. All her measurements showed that she was extremly healthy. I also got back my bloods for Iron studies and Vitamin D which were excellent. So it was a false alarm, but it did make me feel more secure and I also got to see my baby for the very last time before she’s born.

Just before the ultrasound I couldn’t feel her moving, so I just assumed that she was sleeping. However once we saw her on the big screen we could see her little eyes opening and closing and her little tongue moving back and forward. I was amazed to see there was another little world going on in there that I wasn’t experiencing first hand with the usual kicks and punches. The sonographer wanted to take a few nice photos of the baby’s face for me as a keep sake. Unfortunately my little miss was enjoying sucking her little foot to much and did not remove it the whole time. Well actually after a bit of poking from the sonographer she did take her foot out of her mouth for a moment so she could give a huge kick with it so that we would leave her alone, she then put it back in her month and that was that. What was also a bit freaky is that I can see she already looks like Marco. So I might not be getting the mini me that I expected. I just can’t wait to see what she turns out to look like.

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Since the ultrasound my tummy has grown a lot and I have gain nearly 3 kilos. This has really made a difference to the way I look and feel. I was feeling a bit awkward a month ago getting up and down, but I would still get a shock when I looked in the mirror since I didn’t feel that big. Now I really do feel pregnant. I have noticed even the baby is getting a little squashed in there. She is still very active but is struggling to stick to my right side any more. Her little feet are usually protruding just above my belly button.

Here are some growth pictures. I still can believe I actually am this big!

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28 weeks (7 months)

29 Weeks 3 days - 20 Jan

29 weeks

31 weeks

32 Weeks – 8 months

I have been reading the most amazing baby books recently. These are some that I have read and recommend:

The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning, by Alicia Silverstone

Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, John Medina

Feeding Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition During Pregnancy, Childhood, and Beyond, Alan Greene, M.D.

Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right, John Fuhrman, M.D

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D

Vegan Pregnancy Survivial Guide, Sayward Rebhal

Vaccination: It’s your informed choice, Dr Peter Baratosy

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices, Sarah J. Buckley, M.D.

Your Non-Toxic Pregnancy, by Susannah Marriot

The Diaper-free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative, by Christine Gross-Loh

 

Are there any great books that you can recommend me?

 

Lastly I wanted to share this delicious 8 month celebratory brunch we had at one of our favourite vegetarian restaurants. The Cardamon Pod at Broadbeach has just started doing breakfast. It was definitely the best vegan breakfast I’ve ever had. If you can get there I really recommend you check them out!

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Feisty Mexican Burrito (spinach spelt tortilla filled with black beans, guacamole, topped with grilled corn salsa & grilled corn, with cashew sour cream,, salsa, roasted potato & sweet potato)

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French Toast (sourdough fruit bread, topped with caramelised bananas, caramel walnuts, blueberries, maple syrup with strawberry jam, coconut yoghurt)

Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions

After seeing my naturapath yesterday I realised I really have to amp up my bean intake and make more of an effort to combine plant-based proteins for the baby. As much as I love eating beans I always forget to put them to soak the night. Although I don’t enjoy lentils as much, they are really handy when you have limited time and are out of bpa free canned beans (which I have been relying on). I was also craving pearl couscous after that delicious dish I had from East Elevation a few days ago in Melbourne.

This dish was inspired by Mujaddara but with a few alterations. I used pearl couscous for a different texture and some kale and pepitas seeds for an extra nutritional boost. This dish usually calls for crispy fried onions on top, but I decided to not over cook the onions, to  leave as much nutrients as possible. It was a delicious combination. I hope my little one is enjoying some new flavours.

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 Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green lentils (you only need 1 cup of cooked lentils, so cook 1 cup dry for leftovers)

2 cups diced brown onion (about 1.5 onions)

olive oil

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pearl couscous

1.5 cup liquid vegetable stock (chicken or veg flavoured)

2 cups sliced kale, tightly packed (about 2 large kale leaves, large stems removed)

3 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Place the green lentils in a pot with enough water to cover and bring the boil. Then place on a simmer and cook until tender. Once cooked leave to the side.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and then add the onion. Cook on a low to medium heat until the onions have browned and caramelized. This should take about 20 minutes. Once they are browned remove from the skillet and place to the side.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the ground cumin, ground cinnamon, all spice and sea salt. Cook for a future 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4. Add the couscous and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the couscous is tender. Add more stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and then add the kale. Lightly saute until the kale has wilted and is a vibrant green colour.

6. Toast the pepitas seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop a little then place to the side.

7. Make sure the couscous is off the heat and then add 1 cup of cooked green lentils, 2/3 of the caramelized brown onions and kale to the pot. Stir through.

8. Serve the couscous with extra carmelized onion and toasted pepitas seeds.

*Serve as a main for 3 or as a side for 4

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