she’s just a baby

July 22, 2016

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“Is she a good baby?”

Initially when we  were asked this question following Joan’s birth I was downright confused. “A good baby?”…I would never think to ask someone this, as doing so inherently suggests that some babies are bad, which to me seemed just nuts. “Yes she’s good”, I’d reply, “I mean, she’s just a baby…..???”. Eventually I understood that people were actually asking something else, and so I would attempt to decode their question before replying. Did they mean “Is she happy?”. Well, then, “Yes!”, I would answer, “Absolutely”. Or perhaps they were associating “good” with not crying, and then the answer would be, “She cries/communicates really well, thanks, loud and clear! Most of the time we understand what she’s wanting”. Often I thought these well-meaning folk were asking whether she was good to us, her parents, and to this I would say “Yes, she’s really sweet.” I got used to the question and only occasionally (if I was a little sleep deprived and short-tempered, perhaps) I would reply “No, she’s an asshole”, which was my passive aggressive way of highlighting what a weird question it was.
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Happenings 15.7.16

July 15, 2016

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DOING: I’m typing on the computer while Joan naps.
HEARING: the heater. It’s cold, man! These are the days when I fancy a fireplace, without the cleanup or worry that Joan will want to explore the flames. She’s into everything these days, EVERYTHING.
EATING: lots of quinoa breakfast bowls. I’ve kinda gone off yoghurt and smoothies, now it’s positively chilly in the mornings, and find myself reaching for leftovers for breakfast. On the weekends, it’s all about scrambled eggs with avocado toast and lots of fresh parsley from our garden. I’ve also been loving on Pana Chocolate (their “raw cacao” or “orange” varieties), mandarins and hummus, lots of hummus!
DRINKING: coffee, what’s new. Also green tea. I’ve found myself a little sleepier than usual in the mornings. Joan has been working on these top teeth so is waking a touch more often than usual overnight. And I’ve been watching shows on the iPad while I give her her final night feed, which I know impacts my quality of sleep but I’ve become slack with my “no screens rule” (side note: you guys, I JUST finished the book I started in February. I adored it, but I so love to tune out to a show). For the sake of my sleep quality, I need to recommit to the no screens rule, saving it only for weekends when Ben and I watch The Sopranos, especially when Joan is going through wakeful periods. But back to the mornings…just before I hop into the shower I pop the kettle on and make a cup of green tea, which I’ll sip while Joan plays bott-bott free and I slowly get her changed/dressed. Another side note: I love to have her bott-bott free at times during the day, letting her air out without a nappy constantly attached.
COOKING: I’ve been working on a few recipes for food company clients (like this one!), which has involved a lot of cacao, oats and seeds – good stuff! I’ve also been making pots of beef cheeks and lentil soup for the freezer. One time I made the beef cheek recipe but subbed in lamb chump chops (from Colin and Sally) and used a herbs de provence mix because that is what Joan grabbed from the spice drawer. I added quartered potatoes and a little more stock and it was kind of amazing. I also recently baked a layer cake for the first time, a practice run before Joan’s birthday in just under 2 months (see the pic at the top of the post). Gosh that was fun!
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CoCo2 and EVOO granola

July 8, 2016

CoCo2 & EVOO granola

CoCo2 and EVOO granola….it sounds like space food, doesn’t it? I created this recipe for the lovely team at Pureharvest. Do you know of or use this brand? What I like about Pureharvest, besides spoonfuls of CoCo2 in my porridge and their CoCoQuench milk warmed + poured into my coffee (it’s so good, I am obsessed!) is their commitment to environmentally-friendly and considered practices. Being in the food industry has its challenges, however it’s important to Pureharvest that they are as sustainable as possible and I respect that.

When brainstorming how to use their CoCo2 spread, I decided to go the granola route. A tad predictable, perhaps, and I’ve made cacao granola in the past, however this time I wanted to use the beautiful extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) Pureharvest sent me and make it a little special. You see, the idea of cacao granola is often more wonderful than the end product. It can end up bitter or burnt, and easily head too far in one direction, whether overwhelmingly sweet, coconutty or chocolatey (I know that “too chocolatey” sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s totally possible). Anyway, I felt that by bringing EVOO into the mix, I would a) up the health factor, because EVOO is liquid gold/healthy juice of the Gods, and b) take the sweet/coconut/chocolate notes down a notch, mellowing everything out nicely and letting the base ingredients of oats and seeds sing. And it worked! I tried this recipe around six times, playing with different ratios and adding in another sweetener until I found my ideal taste and texture. Feel free to tinker as you wish, some cinnamon sounds nice and walnuts would be a dream. One time I added cacao nibs after the granola had cooled, and felt really smart. Another time I added shards of roughly chopped dark chocolate to my bowl and felt like a straight-up genius. Oh, and if you somehow have leftovers, this granola + pitted Medjool dates + LSA or almond meal, blitzed in the food processor makes killer date balls.

Head over to the Purharvest website for the recipe (LINK) and a little interview I did with them (here), and browse a bunch of other recipes on their site. I was impressed with how tasty and varied they look, I mean yum and YUM.

 

Heidi xo

 

She will know

July 3, 2016

Bubba woke fairly frequently overnight. That alone is not unusual, Joan will often rouse for a cuddle and feed, but what was different were her cries. Each time my little possum would wake, she’d cry out in discomfort. She’d wriggle and reach for me to make it better, then cry some more because it wasn’t. I did as best I could, rocking and feeding and singing, stroking her hair, her back, her tummy, her feet… and she’d settle after a short while, but it was disruptive and hard on all of us. Nights like that are uncommon, so when it happens we all feel it.

Ben’s alarm went off at 5:20am but I was already awake and had been for some time. When he left at 6am I was still awake, listening to his morning routine – putting on shoes, grabbing keys, flicking the light and closing the door. Joan cried again at that point and I wondered if he’d come back in to check on us, but he was already gone. The sound of his car starting confirmed that I wouldn’t see him until this evening and it was up to me to make our babe feel better. Joan had finally resettled on her tummy and was sighing contentedly. I repositioned myself to make sure that if I did fall asleep and she woke before me, she’d would reach a pillow mountain and not the edge of the bed, and then I hugged her close and tight. I didn’t nod off completely, rather I found myself in a daze; thinking about Joan and wondering what was bothering my sweetheart; thinking about my client scheduled for that afternoon and how much I’m enjoying connecting with these women and playing a part in their journey towards feeling good and healthy and strong; thinking about my friend who very recently lost her father, and then inevitably thinking about my own father. My heart has been thumping loud all week from this loss and the knowledge of what my friend, who I have known since I was Joan’s age, is going through.

And so I lay there, rubbing Joan’s back with one hand and thinking that stream of thoughts. I text mum “Has Dad been exercising?” and text Ben, “She’s sleeping and snug”. My eyes and head felt heavy from a night of light, broken sleep and I dazed and dozed some more. And then, out of nowhere a melody came to me. A piece of music that I hadn’t listened to for ten months, since Joan was born. It gushed about it my head so clear and bright that I quite literally gasped out loud and looked to see if I had woken Joan. Bach’s Cello Suite No.1, the prelude. Towards the end of my pregnancy I would listen to this stunning melody on repeat as I lay upside down, massaging my belly and visualising Joan moving head down to the ideal position for birth. Bubba was breech for as long as we could tell, and I spent a lot of time inverted with my head down and belly up, laying in the bath with peas on her head, doing handstands in a pool, walking walking walking, and listening to this beautiful music. Clearly it didn’t work, Joan came out in spectacular fashion, bottom first, but I fell in love with this melody and I think she did too. Later that morning while she napped, I sat down with a cup of coffee and wrote my heart out. Bach’s Cello Suite was on repeat and when she woke I brought her into the living room where it was playing and she stopped and stared at me. Joan looked deep into my eyes and listened with this intense look on her face, and it made me feel like she knew, like she recognised it and knew. It was a hauntingly beautiful moment.

I don’t know why that music came to me then. I had not listened to it nor thought about it since she arrived and everything changed, yet into my head it came so clearly, throwing me back into my before world. Into a world that we cannot quite remember, that feels fuzzy in my mind because we are so completely enveloped in our present. But as I lay there, the melody loud and magnificent in my head, I remembered what it was like to not have her here. To have her in my belly and my heart but not be able to hold her. I gasped again. For my sleepy, emotional self, it was a bit much. But she is here, and I can hold her. I can show her the world and watch her explore. I can rock and comfort her and make it better. I can play her melodies and watch her listen, and she can look into my eyes and watch me cry and hear me say that I will always be there to comfort her, to encourage her and love her. And when there comes a time that I am not here, she will remember and she will know.

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Heidi xo

Pumpkin Pancakes

June 26, 2016

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There is something about small, chubby, baby hands picking up a pancake that warms my heart.

It must be something to do with the fact that I grew up in a pikelet-eating family. My mother would often make them for an after school snack (lucky us, I know!). I have clear and fond memories of little, fluffy rounds, stacked up and spread with jam on the counter. They were wholesome rocket fuel for my brothers and I, sending us off to the park to swing and jump, to ride around court on our bikes or, when I wanted alone time, to sit under the fairy tree at the front of our property with books. The other week, as I watched Joan reach for a perfectly baby-sized pancake and put it to her mouth before kicking her legs with glee, I just about fainted from the sweetness, from the full-circle beauty of it all… from the reality that I am now the mumma, making those little, fluffy rounds, fuelling my babe up to explore the world.

Joan adores these pancakes. Rarely does my baby girl laugh and chat at the table until she has had a decent portion of her food (she takes eating very seriously), however whenever I serve these pancakes they elicit instant giggles. Sometimes I spread them with almond butter, avocado or yoghurt and she seems to like them each way, though perhaps almond butter is her favourite. Perhaps I am just wanting an excuse to buy or make more almond butter… This recipe makes 8 small pancakes, which Joan will eat over a couple of days. They’re lovely cold from the fridge and make excellent cafe food (i.e. bringing a snack from home) as they don’t leave you with a lot of tricky or sticky mess to clean up.
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Spiced lentil + coconut soup and a new work direction

June 17, 2016

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Right about the time I had my realisation that “it’s not going to happen” (going back to work, that is), I also realised that I did not want to be a general practice Dietitian anymore. For years I was seeing a range of clients, from newly diagnosed Type Two Diabetics (often referred by their GP and/or concerned partner), to people with food intolerances and those wanting to lose weight. These referrals are a general practice Dietitian’s bread and butter, and while I enjoyed working with my clients as individuals (I sincerely love hearing how people are living their lives and looking for ways that they can make wholesome and enriching, sustainable changes), when it came to getting back to work after having my baby, I felt incredibly overwhelmed at the task ahead of me. To keep up to date with best practice for the vast range of clients I’d be seeing made me feel anxious. And to be honest, while I enjoyed working with these clients, Diabetes and Fructose Malabsorption were not my passion areas. As a new mum, I was in a completely different world (a world of limited cooking time, interrupted sleep and an eager appetite) and I was loving it! I had fallen head over heels with the entire process of growing a baby, giving birth and nourishing a new life. I had even researched becoming a Midwife (before swiftly deciding that 4 more years at University was not for me), I was that into it. Having recently experienced pregnancy and childbirth, I was acutely aware of the details, as well as the challenges women face during this season. At the time I was deep in the trenches of sleepless nights, and more than ever could appreciate the importance of nourishing yourself with good food to a) help you make it through the day, b) keep yourself well nourished and not depleted as a nursing mum and c) stop you from throwing a pillow at your partner when they don’t read your mind. From my training at University I knew how vital good nutrition was from a physiological point of view, in that what you eat and your lifestyle has a huge impact on your wellness from the preconception stage right through to post-partum…but now that I was living it, I could feel on a different level how profoundly true this was, and I wanted to help other mums and mums-to-be out there feel good and confident and happy and nourished. Because doing so makes a huge difference to how we feel day-to-day and how we care for our children. It’s a big deal.

On my Dietitian website, Gather and Grow Nutrition, you can read in more detail about the clientele I will be working with. Just quickly, though, I would like you to know that it’s not all babies, babies, babies! Those seeking preconception consultations may not want to conceive immediately, they may not even have a partner with whom they’ve had a “when shall we try for a baby?” conversation…but these ladies will have some health issues they wish to address now (from disordered eating patterns to generally feeling unhealthy or confused about what foods best nourish themselves) so that when the time comes, their body will be ready and optimally fertile. Your health prior to conception certainly influences the health of your baby and your health throughout pregnancy (and beyond!). Addressing any concerns now is an important and admirable act of self-care. I will also be providing support to those who are actively trying to fall pregnant, those who are currently pregnant, and those in the postpartum period, whether they have a fresh newborn, or one or two (or more!) older kiddos. This is what I am living and breathing. This is my passion area. This is what is getting me so excited I could burst!

I would love to work with you, and if you think you’d like to work with me too, head over to my services page to check out what happens during a consultation. If it sounds rad and right, get in contact and we will set up a time to Skype. I’ve also had someone ask if they can buy a session as a gift for their friend, which is such an ace idea (hello, great baby shower present!), so I have created a link for you to do just that. And if you wish to see a Dietitian in-person for general nutrition concerns, the lovely and clever Emily Scott will be available for consultations at the Mornington Clinic on a Saturday (read more about that here).

Needless to say I am a little buzzed about this new direction and how it’s all coming together. It just feels so right, in my bones, you know? Over the past few weeks I have been easing back into work with a small number of clients. My mum watches Joan while I work from home and it’s turning out to be so good for all of us. And in between these sessions, whenever Joan gives me a minute to myself, I am busy recipe testing and creating tasty/wholesome/fast meals to share with my clients. One of these recipes is this spiced lentil and coconut soup…
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A Thursday in June with 9-month-old Joan

June 9, 2016

I had been pondering a day in the life post for a while, mainly because it’s the kind of thing I like to read in magazines and blogs (have you read this series? I adore this one in particular). Whenever I’d remember the idea, however, we were already halfway through our day, or it was perhaps an ‘out of the ordinary day’, which made no sense to share because what I wanted to do was document the minutiae of our everyday. I wanted a real glimpse into our lives, of where we are at with our sweet, rough-and-tumble, adventurous 9-month-old baby girl. So here it is, last Thursday, moment by moment.

6:10AM

I wake to hear Ben leaving for work. Joan spends the next 40 minutes feeding then rolling around then feeding, leading me on to believe she may fall back asleep and we can snooze a little more, however eventually she makes it clear that is not going to happen and we get up. It’s now 6:46am. I pop my finger in Joan’s mouth and check her top left gum. Ahuh! Just as I expected. We had a rather wakeful night (the past two nights, actually), and at one point she woke screaming and crying, the poor thing. And sure enough, her top middle left tooth has cut through her gum. We open the curtains and she touches the window, tapping at the street lamp that is still shining bright. It’s cold and dark outside. I check the temperature using an app on my phone – 6.5 degrees. Yikes!

We head out of the bedroom and I strap Joan into a bouncy chair with a toy, then race to use the bathroom and have a quick shower. By the time I get out she is attempting an escape from the chair – baby hates to be restrained (she found the Bumbo seat a form of cruel punishment. We head into our bedroom and she pulls herself up on our (small and stable) chest of drawers and bed, practising standing hands-free while I moisturise (with coconut oil) and get dressed. It’s a home day today, we’re laying low as Joan hasn’t been 100%. This means I reach for yoga pants and a warm, slouchy sweater. Once I’m dressed we head into bubba’s room where she crawls around playing while I change her nappy and get her into some warm clothes. Joan is firmly against nappy changes at the moment (in addition to getting dressed), so I find myself working my butt off to pretend I’m not doing anything offensive and “look nappy changes are fun OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM OINK OINK OINK!” Ok, now I need food…

7:12AM

Joan and I are dressed so we head downstairs to the kitchen/living room. I pop her in the playpen with her toys and wait to see if it’s one of those days when she will tolerate it for 10 minutes or if she screams immediately. Lucky for me her Twoodie Toys and phone are particularly interesting this morning, and I get about 10 minutes to make breakfast and pack away some dishes.

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Happenings 27.5.16

May 27, 2016

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DOING: Once again, bubba is napping and I’m typing away. She’s in the Ergo carrier after a quick morning walk before the rain came. I’ve got a fresh coffee to one side and am in one of those chatty moods which happens when a good night sleep mixes with a good cup of coffee.
HEARING: the rain outside. It’s solidly feeling like Winter at the moment. We’re popping the heater on most mornings to take the chill off and when Joan and I wait outside to greet Ben as he arrives from work we are rugged in a woollen blanket knitted by my friend. Indeed the white noise app “rain” setting that we use at night is becoming little redundant.
EATING: lately I’ve been loving on almond butter. I’m a nut butter fiend, devouring spoonfuls before bed to help me avoid waking hungry in the early hours. As a rule it’d be peanut (have you tried Mayver’s Dark Roasted?!?!?!), however lately I’ve wanted a break from spoonfuls of pb (call me crazy). I still adore a peanut slather on toast (with extra virgin olive oil and sometimes maple syrup, as photographed above), however in relation to my spoon + jar antics, I am presently firmly focussed on almond butter. Sometimes I’ll dip it in the tahini too, creating an almond, sesame spoon sandwich.
DRINKING: water (loads of it, as always); coffee, one or two cups a day (those moments make me so happy, it’s not even funny); and the occasional ginger tea for some warming, late afternoon comfort.
COOKING: Curries, lentils, baked falafel (see below) and granola. Legumes are on my mind, apparently. Oh, and roasted cauliflower.
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Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

May 17, 2016

roasted tomatoes

Tomato season is over,*womp womp*, so I’m kind of a jerk for posting this recipe now. Sorry about that… However, I resolved to post more everyday recipes around here, and this Summer we roasted a bunch of tomatoes and ate them in a bunch of different ways. For a few tasty months, they were a staple, one we never grew tired of. We served scoops alongside scrambled eggs, inside omelettes or on top of avocado toast. We’d toss hot pasta (+ a little pasta cooking water) in a pan with a generous portion of warmed tomatoes and juice, that’s a good one… or we’d add scoops to pesto pasta, like in the photograph below. With the dregs sitting in the container we’d throw in a can of butter beans, diced capsicum, fresh herbs and shards of pecorino. These tomatoes, cold or hot, alongside roasted or mashed potatoes and grilled fish or meat make a lovely meal that always leaves me wishing I wasn’t breastfeeding on demand and could accompany it with a BIG glass of wine.

Because we ate them often and love them so, I felt I should share the process with you so that you too can enjoy such deceptively easy deliciousness….next year, when tasty tomatoes come once more (again, sorry about that). Indeed it is more of a process than a strict recipe. Try it once and the following time add variations as you wish. Perhaps you’ll throw in some olives or mix up the herbs (thyme works wonderfully). You might even add boneless chicken thighs along with some white wine, like we did here – that works splendidly and happily feeds a crowd.

This is the kind of simple, versatile, everyday cooking we do. Let me know if you have any other ideas for serving the tomatoes or ingredient variations. Warm tomatoes on a bed of parmesan polenta with a drizzle balsamic glaze just came to mind. Gosh darn it, bring back tomato season!

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Getting Started With Solid Food

May 6, 2016

bananas

It’s Sunday morning and Ben has just left for Hong Kong. He crept out of our bedroom at 4am leaving Joan and I to snuggle for a couple more hours before we too crept out of the bedroom and turned on the lights. I’m not sure how I feel about it being dark when I wake. I think I like it, because at that time of morning it’s only a short while before the room wakes with a magical, lovely kind of light – not too bright and not too sharp. Speaking of sharp, I most certainly do not feel like all cylinders are firing at the moment. I’m sure all new parents can relate to the way that being woken multiple times overnight for months on end, for boob and cuddles and comfort, has left me rather forgetful and, on occasion, not all that sharp. Side note: how long can I call myself a “new parent?”. My mumma friends get it, they feel similarly, which is reassuring. We are all so very happy to sit around drinking coffee while our bubbas play, and so very happy to have conversations cut short because a baby is putting something precarious in their mouth and/or we forgot the point of our story. However here on my blog, I fancy being a bit more articulate. I have stories to tell, experiences to share, and I don’t want them to get lost in the deep chasm that is my mind at present. And so I’m forcing myself to sit down and write. Today I want to share how Ben and I introduced Joan to solid food. We’re a little over two months into this eating business, which makes me no expert, and despite being a Dietitian I am also a first-time parent who is most certainly winging it a lot of the time. Plus, Joan is a really good eater at the moment, meaning she eats most things easily, which makes my job super easy and fun. However I’ve received a number of emails asking what we feed Joan, and though I wrote a little in my previous post, it’s a big topic and there’s more to cover, so I’m sitting down and getting it all out. Joan is having her morning nap, Ben is away, headed into wonton noodle soup bliss, and I’ve got myself a fresh cup of coffee (aka, my sharp juice)… Let’s do this.

Feeding your baby is an exciting and daunting task. Even if you insist you’ll be super laid back about it all and “just feed your baby what we eat”, there’s stuff to think about. From the convenience of breastfeeding, all of a sudden you’ve got to consider texture and food safety, and then there’s the clean up! Because if you do Baby Led Weaning and let your bubba go free range, ooooooh you have to be prepared because food will be EVERYWHERE. Cleaning mess isn’t such a big deal, but you have to do this while your baby is possibly fussing and trying to squirm out of their high chair because they’re done and they want to move because THEY NEVER STOP MOVING because the world is wonderful and they have to explore and practice their skills and “WHY AM I STILL SITTING DOWN MUM, I’M DOOONNNNNNNNNE?!”. Even if you’re bottle feeding and are hence kinda used to doing a bit of meal prep via sterilising bottles and heating milk, it can still be a shock how much more you have to do once your little person starts eating little person portions. Here are my experiences and thoughts on the whole process, hopefully laid out in an orderly, flowing fashion, however as I mentioned at the top of this post, it ain’t all there and I may end up just throwing a bunch of info at you. I hope that’s ok. At any rate, when your baby starts eating food you’ll have to get used to things being thrown at you. Meatballs and such…

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