What’s for lunch when pregnant?

This is something I found really difficult when working and sushi was no longer an option, nor was a quick kebab or any bakery food really. Unless it was a pie, which is totally okay during those weeks where you’re not feeling well, but once you’re through the other side, you should try and start getting some good nutrition back in to your diet. Sometimes even café food wasn’t an option either!

During my first pregnancy, I worked full time and there were no days during the week where I could just make a quick scrambled egg on toast (I hate microwaved eggs, I know, picky right?!). I also had strong cravings for a good 3 – 4 months for full-fat dairy. Greek yoghurt, cheddar cheese, cream, you name it. This time around, I’m working three days a week, so I still need to find good food, that I feel like, that doesn’t require too much prepping and is easy to take to work. This time I’m craving anything carby (breads, pies, scones, brioche) which isn’t so healthy! And just food in general, all the time. I’m having lunch at 11.30am some days! Afternoon tea at 2pm and then at around 5pm I need something to see me through until dinner! I hope this subsides soon….

Anyway, in both instances, no matter what I am craving, I still find it difficult to think of what to take for lunch and in fact it’s the bane of my life most of the time. It’s hard enough to plan the dinners for the week! But I try to make it easy. Most of the time I get either chicken drumsticks or a few salmon steaks and bake them in the oven on Sunday. I’ll then mash a big serving of kumara and potato together and take in 2 heads of broccoli for the week. Every day I then have a bit of protein, some kumara mash and ½ a head of microwaved broccoli. Sometimes you’ve got to work with what you’ve got! Microwave is the only option… and yes, ½ a head is right. I am a bit of a fiend when it comes to broccoli! So that would do me for the week. And when you work out the cost per meal, it’s about $5 or something.

Other days, I’ll have some left overs if there are any (we have left overs for the next night almost 99% of the time, as I hate cooking two nights in a row) or I’ll take a little can of baked beans and have that on toast with a handful of spinach on the side. During summer I’d always have avocado with whatever I was having to ensure I had a decent helping of fats with my meals. I always have a few bags of those Pitango or Naked soups or risotto’s in the fridge and a few boiled eggs with tomato on toast is a current favourite. I also like making my green egg cups (recipe to come soon) as they can be kept in the freezer, so you don’t have to have all 12 over the week. Two of these with some spinach and mashed kumara on the side is delicious! In case you hadn’t noticed, carbohydrates are my friend when I’m pregnant. I can’t not have them (even if it is kumara), especially during this pregnancy where it’s all I feel like.

If I make a big serving of chilli or spaghetti mince, I’ll freeze portions in sandwich size Kai Carriers and take those in with some toast and spinach on the side. At the moment I’m also loving soups as they’re easy to bang in a slow cook on a Sunday morning and then you’ve got lunch for most of the week. Cauliflower and bacon is my favourite! But only when cauliflower isn’t $10 a head…And on those days when I’m really lazy (although not very often in winter), I’ll have a smoothie for lunch.

Some days I don’t have enough left overs or the lunch I’ve got isn’t filling enough so it’s really important for me to have snacks. I’ll make bliss balls over the weekend and keep them in the fridge at work (with my name on them! They’re rather moreish and others have been known to get in to my stash…) and I’ll take mandarins and apples with me. Carrot and cucumber sticks are good too but sometimes I can’t be bothered cutting those up the night before.

I hope this has given you guys some ideas, and in turn I’d love to hear yours! I’m always on the hunt for lunch inspiration.

 

Make your own play-dough

I have vivid memories of my sister and I when we were little, playing with play-dough on our little plastic table and chair set, outside on the covered deck. A rainbow of colours and that unmistakable smell of salt and flour. This provided endless hours of entertainment for us, and now that I’m a mum, realised she did this for herself too…. At least 30 minutes to yourself anyone?

play dough 3

It’s well and truly winter here and now we have a very active 15-month-old. Gone are the weekends spent curled up on the couch watching movies on a Saturday afternoon! Now we have to think of things to do with this little tyke so that we all don’t go completely mental. And that’s where play-dough comes in.

Super easy to whip up, lots of cool colours can be created and it’ll last about 4 – 6 weeks in an air-tight container. AND, it washes out of clothes if you get it mashed in there. We had it smeared all over a pair of black pants and I chucked them in the wash and you couldn’t tell the difference!

I hope you guys try this and it gives you all a bit of light relief during these winter weekends… And that it brings back some wicked child-hood memories too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup standard flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tsps cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ tbsp oil
  • Food colouring

Method:

  • Mix all ingredients in a large pot, making sure there are no lumps in the flour (it will stir to a smooth paste and then as it starts to cook, it’ll start to go lumpy again)
  • Cook on a medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes for dough to form, stirring constantly, scraping sides and bottom to ensure it doesn’t stick or burn
  • Store in an airtight container for 4 – 6 weeks.

Note: I used a small plastic whisk to make the play dough and it worked really well!

play dough 2

Teething

Something you can’t avoid as a parent with kids. Teething. Teething. And…. More teething!

My little grub didn’t get his first tooth until he was 9 months old, but from about 3 months old he was a dribbly baby. And I’m talking 3-bibs-a-day dribbly. Ugh. Everywhere we went I was told he “must be teething.” From friends, nurses, doctors, strangers, family…. Everyone had an opinion! And for months we waited. Every time he was niggly or cried a lot for no reason, out came the Weleda teething powder (this stuff is great by the way) or bonjela gel. I was always sticking a finger in his mouth to see if I could feel anything. The poor kid. And yet, we continued to wait.

We had a pretty good routine and in fact his sleep was never disrupted when his first tooth finally did cut. Phew! Did you know that teething often gets blamed for disturbing sleep, but in fact it has no reason too? Read all about it here. But, we did notice that for about a week, he went off his food, he got some nappy rash and he was generally a bit of a nuisance when he was awake. Typical male, a week of fussiness, being clingy and off his food for 7 days for one tooth!

It was worrying when he was refusing to eat, and sometimes he refused his bottle too. But we found that greek yoghurt worked well, cucumber sticks, rusks (here’s my recipe) and serving his food cold, helped. We also put rubber teething rings in the freezer and gave him some ice cubes to suck on (I would hold it for him and he would ‘gum’ the ice cube). I made some yoghurt and berry icicles that he liked too (I’ll share the recipe soon). In the middle of the summer we just had, I was also concerned about dehydration. To avoid this, I made him some smoothies for breakfast with water as the base instead of milk (try it, you can’t even tell the difference) as well as putting ice in his sippy cup to cool the water down.

When it came to nappy rash, there were a few days where it was so sore he had to have pamol. I’ve got a great blog coming out soon on some remedies for skin irritations including nappy rash, but in the mean time I thought I’d share with you that both Sudocrem and Calendula cream worked wonders for us. Layer the Sudocrem on thick, about 4 times a day and alternate with the calendula cream and after a few days it should start to heal. Little grub had a few stomach bugs so I couldn’t pin down the diarrhoea directly to teething, but I do know that this is common, so you might notice this as well.

Then there’s the brushing. We started before he even had teeth as I’d asked my doctor about fluoride and he suggested we could start at about 7 months. When I was little in South Africa, we used to get fluoride tablets and I don’t have a filling in my head! I’m convinced it’s down to those little white tablets, but that remains to be proven. Anyway, my doctor and my dentist assured me that being in Auckland on town supply and by brushing his teeth, he’ll be getting enough fluoride. We didn’t use kids toothpaste as both the dentist and my doctor’s nurse said we could just use a little of ours and to avoid the toothpaste that says ‘for milk teeth’ as it hasn’t got enough fluoride in it. Apparently if you can brush for about 20 seconds you’re in the money – I don’t think we’ve made that yet! But we keep trying – it’s really tough to actually brush; all he wants to do is bite it and suck on the toothbrush. My dentist did reassure me though that he hasn’t met anyone yet who can brush their baby’s teeth for 20 seconds, so not to worry.

So, what are my top tips?

  • Grab some Weleda teething powder. It’s all homeopathic ingredients, with a good dose of chamomile in it. You won’t be doing any harm giving your grub this even if they’re not teething! At the very least, it’ll calm them down 🙂
  • Don’t worry if they’re off their food, sometimes we as adults just don’t feel like eating if we are sick. Offer yoghurt and try not heating their food, it might help. Anything that’s cool on their gums. At the end of the day if they’re not hungry, they’re not hungry.
  • Distract them. Play, take them outside, take them anywhere really. Anything to get them focusing on something other than the pain
  • Nurofen for kids. This is much better for relieving teething pain than Pamol.
  • And don’t forget to brush!

Going Grain-Free

Paleo’s been around for a good few years now and so has the gluten-free buzz. Personally, I don’t really believe in completely cutting out a whole food group for prolonged periods of time. Recently, I tried to do paleo and I succeeded for a good three months. But then real-life got in the way and I decided I loved food too much to stick to it 100%. Over my years as an athlete, I also tried the Zone diet (high protein and low carb), we went through phases of carbo-loading, for a while there I lived on protein shakes and carrot sticks (light-weight rowing was tough!) and we also did whole foods, high fats.

Since then, I’ve tried to find a happy medium where food doesn’t consume my thoughts (in a negative way, where you’re always thinking about what you “can’t” eat) and I’ve now got a nice 80/20 balance thing going on. For myself, I find that if I have less gluten, the better I feel. So, I opt for things like buckwheat, quinoa, kumara and my grain-free bread (recipe to come!). If I add in good quality olive oil, avocado and nuts (the good fats) I feel even better.

Because I feel better when I have less grains, I wanted to find out more about why that might be – surely my digestive system isn’t that different to my 6-month-old’s? Might he fair better with less grains too? This search lead me to Dr Julie Bhosale’s book “The Nourished Baby” which she released last year. In it, Dr Bhosale talks about baby’s digestive systems and the fact that they don’t produce the enzyme amylase, which splits the starches in grains, until they’re about 10 or 12 months old. Her blog here provides all the details.

What she said made sense to me and rightly or wrongly I chose to follow it, not introducing grains until he was about 10 months old – although he still only had 1 tooth, not exactly any molars coming through like Julie mentions! Because of this, I had to learn to be a little inventive when it came to breakfasts. Well, inventive from a traditional Western standpoint anyway. Dinner and lunch were vegetable and/or meat purees with olives, cheese or fruit as finger food. So those meals were naturally grain-free already.

mac n cheese 1
A simple mac’n cheese wasn’t on the menu for a while!

What I found really helpful was mashing some kumara/butternut/pumpkin every 4 – 5 days and keeping that in the fridge. I would use this as a base for breakfasts. Adding in scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, avocado. Some days it was banana and kumara with cinnamon or when we felt like toast we used store-bought paleo bread. This is really expensive, so I adapted a recipe I’d been using for years (look out next week for the recipe!). I also made some grain-free muffins (another recipe I’ll share) which were super quick and easy to feed him in the morning.

If you choose to do it, don’t be put off by thinking you won’t have any options for breakfast. Babies don’t know what we are ‘supposed’ to have at particular times of the day, so they’ll be open to almost anything. Get some mashed kumara out and literally add anything to it! Or go for some pureed fruit and yoghurt. We got in to smoothies for a while too, which is a nice summer breakfast option.

Give it a go! And let me know how you get on; I’d love to know.

Winter Chills

It’s definitely winter now in the Southern Hemisphere and that often means colds and sickness going around like wild-fire. Little man started day care a few months ago so we are well and truly feeling it.

Last winter was our first with a little baby and we don’t live in the latest state of the art house – in fact I’m talking like, probably no insulation in the walls. The consequence is that the cold isn’t a dry cold, it’s generally quite damp. So when I looked in to humidifiers or vaporisers for his room, I got quite confused by it all and ended up not getting one. Surely, I wouldn’t want to make my already damp house, even worse by putting up humid air with one of these vaporisers? I probably should have done more research. Anyway, we survived and only got a runny nose every now and then – we escaped pretty easily!

This winter is very different. Being at daycare will do that to you I guess! We have head cold after head cold, a horrible cough that lasted for what seemed like ages and a relentless runny nose that doesn’t seem to stop! So I did more research and more talking to my fellow mama friends. According to google, “the basic difference between humidifiers and vaporizers is that humidifiers disperse cool mist into the air, and vaporizers heat the water to disperse hot steam.” How is this supposed to help me make a decision?! However, I did read that cool mist vaporisers which don’t require a heat source, means that there’s no (or less) condensation. This was for me! Anything to help that cough at night, right? So we went ahead and bought this one. We also got the essential oil for nose and chest and I can honestly say that it seems to help his breathing. Perhaps a placebo effect but then again so many other people vouch for these things too.

I also double-whammy’d it with Vicks VapoRub. I’d grown up with it, remember sticking my head under a towel over a steaming bowl of Vicks when I had a head cold (the old-fashioned vaporiser/humidifier!) I’ve been putting a little bit on his chest and steaming up the bathroom when he’s in the bath with it too. But then I came across Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment. Oh my goodness, you guys have to try this stuff.

Winter chills1

Vicks is actually a petroleum-based product with the active ingredients being camphor and menthol (both are a cough suppressant and topical analgesic) and eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant). It also has cedarleaf and nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil listed in it’s ingredients.

Rawleigh’s is similar, but it’s a lanolin-based product with its ingredients being camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, lanolin and paraffin and ceresin wax. This stuff can not only be used as a decongestant but is also great for when your grub has sore ears (trust me, this stuff works!) and is good for cuts, bruises and headaches too. So, it’s much more versatile than Vicks. I’m always rubbing this on the entrance of Grub’s nose during the day and at night to help him breathe and I find it definitely makes a difference.

I didn’t get paid for this nor was I asked to write about either products here. I’m simply sharing because these are what worked for us and Rawleigh’s is something I think should be in everyone’s first aid kit at home. For the full list of “how to’s” visit this website, where you can also purchase the product online.