Friday, 27 July 2012

Vegan Slimming World

Yes - That's right. After my short lived attempts with the Maximum Weight Loss diet before getting pregnant I've decided to give this a go. As a vegan it's always hard to know which plans are actually going to be workable, but I'd heard good feedback from others so was reasonably confident I could make it work for me.

At my first class I brought the '50 Free Green Recipes' book to help me get my head around meals - in fact many of the meals in this book are already vegan, or could be if you don't add the yoghurt they suggest etc.

I made the 'Oriental Mushroom & Noodle' soup which was really nice, as well as an asparagus risotto - but equally a few of the recipes haven't been that nice and won't be repeated.


My problem initially is that yes they suggest you follow the 'Green' plan If you are vegetarian, but every remotely interesting meal suggestion contains Quorn (which contains egg in case you didn't know). They have a great online service for members but it seems much of the food we commonly eat in our house wasn't listed - so I didn't know what was a 'free' food and which had syns! I did well my first week (lost 4lbs) however felt my food was a little boring. The great thing is now I've done the hard work and calculated the syn value for some common vegan 'meat' and 'cheese' replacements - so the coming weeks I can get a little more creative :)

Free Foods

Linda Mcartney mince, red onion & rosemary sausages and Fry's traditional sausages are all syn free.


Fry's 'Chicken' burgers - 2 syns each

Fry's Hot Dogs - 2 1/2 syns each

Fry's Traditional Burgers - 1/2 syn each

Fry's 'Chicken' Nuggets - 3 1/2 syns per 100g

Redwood's Chicken pieces - 8 syns per 100g

Redwood's Duck pieces - 7 1/2 syns per 100g

Redwood's Bacon Rashers - 3 syns per 100g

Redwood's Sausages - 7 1/2 syns per 100g

Cheezly Super Melting - 13 1/2 syns per 100g

Linda Mcartney Original Sausages - 2 syns each

Pure Sunflower Spread - 4 syns per tablespoon


If you're vegan and just starting slimming world I hope that helps! I'm still trying to get my head around replacement 'dairy' products. Soya milk & almond/ hazelnut Alpro can be used as a healthy extra - but there's no such thing as totally fat free soya yoghurt :(

Monday, 23 July 2012

'Mama Cloth'

I've posted before about the brands of mama cloth I've used HERE, but it's now a little later on and I've acquired more and feel I can comment on how they're holding up a few months further on.

Why Should You Use Reusable Sanitary Products?

There are many reasons why reusable is better than disposable - there are comfort, environmental and health benefits. Think how much better you'd feel knowing you weren't sending all that rubbish to a landfill every month and not coming into contact with all the chemicals used in disposable pads and tampons! The main reason I use them? I find them more comfortable and really simple to look after. The first thing I ever tried out was a Mooncup, then with the birth of my daughter moved onto cloth pads as well. If I'd have known these things were an option I'd have switched years ago and in years to come when it's time to introduce my daughter to such products - these are the types I'll give her.

I already owned Imse Vimse all in one pads in liner & maxi and a few sets of the Fuzzi Bunz 'daisy' print in regular. I still use the Imse Vimse, although the Fuzzi Bunz were my favourite, so I went ahead and added THIS 'starter' kit to my collection so I had enough to last me through each month. I've also invested in a lovely Luna Blanket.

Moon Cup

I brought my first Mooncup about 4 years ago. I didn't get on well with it to start with and found it hard to use, however after a couple of cycles I'd figured it out and there was no turning back. I'd never been able to use tampons apart from occasionally (swimming, sports etc) as I found them too uncomfortable, however the Moon Cup was great and couldn't even tell it was there! The only downsides I found was using it whilst out & about and sometimes being unable to rinse it between uses if a public toilet didn't have a sink in one of the stalls. There are ways around this (ie: carrying a bottle of water or wipes). Personally I'd say reusable pads are easier from this respect as you just need to carry a small wet bag or lovely purse such as the one by WEMOON for your pads - much lighter than a bottle of water!

Fuzzi Bunz

The 'daisy' print pads I already owned and the 'brights' which came in my new starter kit are slightly different - I'm not sure if the 'brights' are a new version, but the absorbing part seems a little bigger - other than this they are essentially the same. The original pads have now been used/ washed quite a few times and still look brand new - I find the 'wet pail' method works best to keep them looking good. I've found these to be totally reliable and I really like how the top fleece layer is 'stay dry'. I've not tried their nappies out with my daughter, but going by how much I love these it makes me wish I had! I thoroughly recommend this brand - really comfy and really easy to take care of.

Luna Blanket

I really wish I'd have brought this before the birth of my daughter for use post partum. I ended up with it's ikky disposable equivalent which I found really uncomfortable to sleep/ sit on - especially in hot weather. So much so that the night I actually needed something on the bed when my waters broke I was protesting to my partner about why I didn't need to use them!

I've not really tested this out as my mama cloth is so reliable - but it's well made, soft and great for peace of mind. Not my first choice of design, but they don't seem to be that easy to come by in the UK without paying for shipping from the US/ Canada.

Imse Vimse

These are super reliable and the maxi size are even more absorbent and slightly longer than the Fuzzi Bunz, which is great for nighttime use. I love that these are made from organic cotton, so wonderfully kind to sensitive skin. My two main problems with these are that after a few washes they no longer feel soft and that they stain - even using the wet pail method, whilst my Fuzzi Bunz still look brand new. I sometimes use 'Bio D Nappy Sanitiser' and wash them at 90 degrees on a cotton load - which does help a little - but it's a major pain as the rest of my mama cloth requires a 60 degree wash and it's just not worth doing a separate wash for the 6 Imse Vimse pads I own. If organic materials are important to you and you don't mind a few stains then these pads work very well and are still comfy.


To clean my pads (and nappies - I often put them all in together to make up a full load) I use Faith in Nature's Laundry Liquid and Bio- D Nappy Sanitiser. I only use 1/4 cap of the liquid per wash to avoid build up and this works perfectly every time. I use the Bio-D every couple of washes or if I'm trying to remove stains - this works pretty well. I use flushable liners with my daughter's nappies so they never really get stained so haven't noticed much difference with those, but with my mama cloth (especially the Imse Vimse which are more prone to stains) it does a superb job. I've love to try out the detergents made by Rockin Green - especially their Femme Rock which is especially made for washing cloth pads, but at time of writing I can't find it in the UK and shipping costs are too expensive to justify!

Both these products work great on nappies and pads, are free from optical whiteners, vegan and don't leave reside or cause build up in the fabric. I always wash by running a cold rinse, then a hot 60 degree cycle followed by another cold rinse - sounds a lot but if you own enough to see you through a cycle you only need do this once a month! I always line dry - the sun is especially good for naturally 'bleaching' out stains, in both nappies and pads.

If you're hesitant to give it a go, don't be. Really I was very put off the idea until I actually started using them myself and found out how easy it was :)


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Vegan Slow Cooker Mac n Cheese

I've been so busy with my new daughter recently that @mrflibbletweets has been doing most of the cooking. Then I had a stroke of genius - I needed to rediscover my slower cooker. I own THIS model - which I love (however I might need to soon invest in a smaller 1.5L version for sauces and breakfasts!). I cook most things on the 'warm' setting as it runs quite hot - the 'high' setting makes the contents boil! As I'm having a bit of a love affair with my slow cooker at the moment I'll be posting a few more recipes over the coming weeks :)

5 cups unsweetened soya milk

320g macaroni (if you want to leave it to cook longer use whole wheat - it'll keep it from going mushy!)

1TBSP soya spread

2 TSP Stock powder

2 Cups vegan 'melty' cheese

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 TSP smoked paprika

1TSP Hot paprika

1 TSP mixed herbs

Drizzle of oil


Lightly oil the bottom of your crock pot - to avoid adding too much here an oil spray is handy. Add the rest of the ingredients to your pot.

I cook mine at high for 30 mins and then on 'warm' for 2 hours - but you'll know your slow cooker better. Mine runs quite hot hence using the lowest 'warm' setting, it may be different with yours.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Baby Wearing: Sling Reviews

So i really wasn't excited by this idea initially - I thought it would be too heavy, uncomfortable and just not practical. Then I started using our Silver Cross travel system and discovered how heavy it was! After a few weeks I was left with major back/ shoulder ache and started looking at other options out there.

I wasn't looking for a baby carrier for all the time use, I still wanted to use my pram for certain situations. I just wanted something for quick trips into shops from the car, around the house and for places where prams weren't accessible.

The first I purchased was the Moby wrap.

I've been really pleased with this in terms of comfort and once I'd practiced a few times it really wasn't hard to put on. The only downside with this is the length of the wrap - if putting on whilst out and about it's really hard to keep it from trailing on the floor and takes a bit of time. If I was going out for a while I'd put up with this for the level of comfort once on, but for half an hours wear it's really not worth it.


I then went in search of something that was easier for these quick trips and came across the Babasling. It looked perfect, comfy and easy to put on. Once I got home and tried it however it was desperately uncomfortable and i just couldn't get baby in a comfortable position that felt safe. I returned it the very next day.


After some grumbling about the Babasling I was recommended a 'ring sling' and after some research purchased a lovely cherry print one made by Palm & Pond. I'm not sure it'll be very good once she gets past a certain weight but for now it was everything I'd hoped for. It's easy to put on, easy to adjust and very comfortable. (It's not a great picture!)



Saturday, 7 July 2012

Attachment Parenting?

Something I didn't start to think about until my daughter was around 5 weeks old was styles of parenting. Actually before it was mentioned in my NCT Early Days group I didn't even consider there to be styles of parenting, but after voicing my opinions on routines, crying etc it was suggested I should read more about 'attachment parenting' as my views were quite similar. So far I've read 'Attached at the Heart' and 'Beyond The Sling' - the latter being my favourite so far.

I think I preferred this book due to it explaining how this 'method' of parenting translates into a real life family situation. I'm not sure I'm 100% sold on all the ways the '8 principles' can be interpreted yet, and I really don't know what to make of 'Elimination Communication' but it's certainly made me think of many things in a different way. The '8 Principles' are;

  1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
Prior to reading this I was certain that 'Co Sleeping' wasn't for me. I had her nursery all ready before she was even born and was planning to transfer her to her own room/ cot after the recommended 6 months. However now I'm not so sure. Reading this really made me think of how I felt as a child - how scared of the dark I was and how much more secure I felt on the rare occasions I was allowed to sleep in my parents bed. All through history this was the normal way children felt safe and only the past 100 years or so has this been different. Obviously with young babies there is a safety issue and I really like the look of the various cribs and cots which are designed so they can 'sidecar' your own bed (they are three sided and the open side clamps onto your bed to give babies their own safe space). I think this area is the biggest change of attitude for me, now I'm really keen to keep her in with us - not indefinitely, but until she is more ready to move on. I'm not talking about the concept of having a 'family bed' (this is where all members sleep on the same surface, often achieved by having several mattresses joined on the floor), but co sleeping where we share a room and sleep in close proximity. Now I just need to convince @mrflibbletweets that it's a good idea and that we need a cot suitable!

I like the idea of baby wearing. I'm not ready to give up the pram just yet, but I've a Moby wrap and a nice ring sling which I used around the house and for quick trips/ to go into places that aren't accessible with a pram. It's a nice feeling having baby so close and it definitely makes her feel more secure. I'm not agreed with imposing any kind of rigid routine, and am dead set against letting a baby 'cry it out'. I also agree with the idea of providing 'consistent care' and enjoy the fact that at the moment my daughter is rarely away from me and can be comforted by my presence.

I've been horrified by talk of following Gina Ford routines which are designed for the parents getting exactly what they want and not considering the effects that imposing such a rigid routine on a baby might have. I think it's about give and take, both parents and child need to be having their needs met. I think 'striving for balance in personal and family life' is a very sensible thing to do. I'm planning to read Dr Sears book next as well as 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' and 'Three In a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping With Your Baby'.

I think this following passage (Wikipedia) is also inspiring in the fact that 'Attachment Parenting' isn't a strict set of rules and Dr Sears 'encourages parents to be creative in responding to their child's needs'.

"These values are interpreted in a variety of ways. Many attachment parents also choose to live a natural family living (NFL) lifestyle, such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, unschooling, theanti-circumcision movement, natural health, cooperative movements, paleolithic lifestyle, naturism and support of organic and local foods. However, Dr. Sears does not require a parent to strictly follow any set of rules, instead encouraging parents to be creative in responding to their child's needs. Attachment parenting, outside the guise of Dr. Sears, focuses on responses that support secure attachments." - Wikipedia.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Woktastic - Birmingham

Now before I go any further this isn't a vegetarian restaurant -it's a Sushi & Noodle Bar, however on request they'll happily provide vegan food.

On my most recent visit I ate Agedashi Tofu,

And a modified version of Tempura Vegetable Curry,


In the past I've also had at request made veggie sushi (mayo free) which has been very good.

The interiors are bright and modern and it's has the classic conveyor belt style seating, with tables away from the belt also if ordering from the menu. The food is genuinely good and it's nice to have an alternative place to eat in Birmingham, especially when with non-veggie friends.

In general I do prefer to go to exclusively v*gan restaurants and cafes, but unlike at the nearby Cafe Soya I've always felt they understand vegan requirements well and never worried what I'd be served was a mistake. It's not worth several hours travel (like we regularly do for Veggie World in Bletchley) but if you find yourself hungry in Birmingham it's a good option.

Being a Vegan Mummy

So, my daughter is now 7 weeks old today. She's passed all medical checks with flying colours so far, and not so many 'vegan' issues have come up as yet. I've not faced any misconceptions from any professionals, but it'd be nice if people in general were more informed. Not many people would bat an eyelid at raising a child vegetarian these days, but I've found many people remain suspicious about veganism.

I'm not the kind of person who tells people unsolicited about my veganism in real life. If it comes up, or I'm asked I'll happily talk about it - but I'm careful not to overdo it. I'm totally proud and happy in my lifestyle choices, but I've just found through experience that talking to some people is fighting a loosing battle. So when the issue of weaning was discussed recently at a group, it inevitably came up. Mostly I received intelligent and genuinely inquisitive questions, but as due to medical problems I'm not breastfeeding I was asked 'the big question' about which formula I use. This is what the Vegan Society have to say about formula, but in the absence of a completely vegan option in the UK I'm using the next best thing. The two currently on the market are Cow & Gate's Infasoy and SMA's Wysoy - both contain Lanolin derived vitamin D but otherwise have no other animal ingredients. I was really disappointed that Heinz no longer manufacture the Nuture Soya which contained vegan vitamin D. Obviously I know breastfeeding is the best option for your baby, but sometimes when issues get in the way it's important to have a vegan option as stories such as this and this are incredibly sad and caused by ignorance of nutrition by vegan parents. It's also very sad that these are the types of stories about vegan parents that get reported in the news, so people who know nothing else of this lifestyle eye you with suspicion when you mention you plan to bring your child up as vegan.

In fact whilst writing this @mrflibbletweets pointed out that recently somebody I've never heard of named Tom Parker Bowles has been in the Daily Mail for stating that having a vegan child is 'child abuse'. Which is pure uninformed rubbish. The article can be read here. It's idiots like him who just because they are vaguely famous get given a platform in the media (but let's be honest we all know the Daily Mail never publishes REAL news anyway) and cause trouble for the rest of us. You never see them writing about the many happy vegan families out there with thriving children that would give the public a more realistic view, just the odd few who don't do their research/ make bad choices and things end badly for them.

I've tried to seek as much advice as possible and the Vegan Society have lots of helpful information and advice which can be found here. The book which they also publish is a good start (Feeding Your Vegan Infant With Confidence) as well as The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Guide which I read whilst pregnant.

Aside from all that I'm doing well, a little sleep deprived but extatic that she seems happy and is thriving. Now a healthy 11lbs (she was 8lbs 9 at birth) and becoming very smiley :) Now past the initial 'omg I actually have a baby now' stage I can happily say it's wonderful to be a mummy.