Thursday, 30 May 2013

Going Gluten Free

All the way back in 2006 I was diagnosed with having severe gallstones and told I had to have my gallbladder out ASAP. I didn't know much about diet at the time, and wasn't yet vegan - I was assured I wasn't going to suffer any side affects so went ahead. 
I noticed straight after that I just wasn't tolerating foods the same way as before, and even though I was assured it was temporary - I've never been the same since. Though not because of this I went vegan soon after and cut out food groups that caused me to feel sick and sluggish. Looking through Internet forums at the time it seems I'm not the only one that was affected like this.
I was really good - for awhile, but whilst at uni I got a little lazy and started eating fried food and gluten again. With all the issues I had during pregnancy I'm determined to get back into good habits.
I've cut out all the faux vegan 'meats' as they contain gluten and although I'm still eating soy products like tofu I don't want to be worried about protein so I've been making daily breakfast smoothies with Sunwarrior 'Warrior Blend'. Yum.



Going gluten free and low fat as a vegan I'm sure won't be hard, but it has been a few years so I'm out of touch with which products are out there.
I've been making gluten free bread this week and tried (only semi successfully) to make healthy flapjacks. 



 
 
Gluten Free Chia Bread Rolls

I cheated a little with these and made the dough with the pizza setting on my bread machine - if I was going to make these regularly it needed to be as fuss free as possible.

Ingredients

450g gluten free bread flour
350ml soya milk
3 Tsp white chia seeds (mixed and left to soak in 10 Tsp water to make an egg replaced mixture)
8 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp salt
2 Tsp red wine vinegar (make sure it's gluten free)
2 Tbsp Quick Yeast

Place everything except the yeast into your bread machine pan and stir with a spoon well. Put your yeast on top and run a dough cycle.
Once finished divide dough into about 6 rolls and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes. You might want to use an oil spray to grease the tin and on top of the rolls so that they brown.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Vegfest Bristol 2013

On Saturday we headed down to Bristol for Vegfest. The sun was shining, we actually left the house on time... and then we hit traffic. Due to the overwhelming amount of people heading down south to enjoy the sun at a Bank Holiday weekend (which is almost unheard of!) it took us 4 1/2 hours to complete a journey that should of been about 1 1/2 hours!


We definitely weren't going to let it ruin our day, and even though we didn't arrive until after 3pm we headed over to check out the stalls. It was our first time at the Bristol fest, but we'd visited the Brighton one before so more or less knew what to expect.


We breifly checked out the children's area - it'll be great in years to come but she was still a bit too young to really enjoy any of it. There was a magician and lots of games in a cute bunting adorned tent.

We ate Chipstix - which in all honesty was slightly strange and ate yummy spelt vegan pizza. There was a lot more that we wanted to get to (ie: the Wheaty and Vegusto stalls) but with a pushchair and so many people crowded around it was impossible!


We had a great day and will certainly return in future years - hopefully we'll manage to get there a little earlier next year!


After being turned away from a pub for it being 6:10pm and having a baby in tow we sat in the park and enjoyed the sunny evening and even got to see a hot air balloon launch.


Monday, 27 May 2013

Co-Sleeping


We didn't plan to cosleep. Before Small was born we brought a moses basket, set up her full size cot bed in her bedroom and were gifted a second hand bedside crib from a family member. We'd have her in with us for the first 6 months then she'd go in her own room. That was the plan. We thought we were all sorted.
Nothing could have prepared me for the first night at home after the hospital. Oh how naive I was. I went to go to bed, lay her in the basket - cue the screaming. As a first time mom I just didn't realise before that babies sleep patterns are nothing like ours. It's totally normal and rare for babies to sleep through early on. All I heard were other mothers at my local groups bragging about their kids sleeping through from 7 weeks. I wasn't getting much sleep at all and my husband and I were on shifts - one of us would stay up all night with Small whilst the other went to bed. I'd grab sleep on the sofa if I could, but not often. The first few months were a bit of a blur.
At 4 months she started to sleep a little better and we put her in her own room - it seemed she hated the crib/moses basket as she liked space to roll around. This period didn't last long, I got desperate and turned to baby sleep books. Luckily I was a fan of Dr Sears and had decided early on to take a more 'attachment' based approach to my parenting and I read 'The No Cry Sleep Solution'. It's an amazing book, I only wish I'd read it sooner. It helped me look at babies sleep in such a different way and I devised gentle ways of putting her to bed and dealing with her night time needs.
Only the thing is, she was going to bed on time and getting off to sleep ok but the night was still a bit of a struggle. She'd wake up and fall back to sleep when I brought her through to my bed, but wake and scream as soon as I put her down in her own cot. Some nights we'd repeat this pattern almost endlessly. It was wearing me down.
Then we started cosleeping. Well, sort of. She always starts off the night in her own cot, and sometimes sleeps right through. If she wakes though and is really upset we let her stay with us in her sidecar cot setup. 
I don't know why I just didn't do it sooner. Well ok I do. Everybody kept telling me that once you let them in with you you'll never get them out and that I'd be somehow 'giving in' or a 'lazy parent' if I let it happen.  This arrangement now works so well for us and despite me still getting woken up, I'm getting the most sleep I have since she was born. It's really important to cosleep safely and the sidecar method works well for us as everybody gets their own space. It feels good to know I'm able to comfort her and we've had lots of cute moments and cuddles we wouldn't have had otherwise.

 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Child Friendly Moussaka

I love this dish and have been making my good old version for years. I thought Small would like it too, so I cooked up this no added salt/ sugar version for her to enjoy. 
I left out the potato slices I use in my adult version as I knew she wouldn't be able to manage the texture - but you could include them for an older child, or serve them on the side as finger food. 
It'd be very easy to make this as a family meal and take out a child's portion before you season it for yourself.


Ingredients
 
Base

200g Puy Lentils
1 can White Beans (packed in water not brine)
1 can chopped Tomatoes
1 Chopped Onion
1 Tsp Dried Mixed Herbs
1Tsp Yeast Spread (no salt & with added B12)
1 Tsp Cinammon 
1 Aubergine

Nut Cream

1 Package Silken Tofu
100g Ground Almonds
4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
2 Tsp Lemon Juice
2 Tsp crushed Garlic
1 Tsp Nutmeg

Method
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius. Chop your aubergine into thin slices and lay out onto a baking sheet. Spray lightly with oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Whilst your aubergine is baking, cook your lentils and beans in boiling water for 30 minutes. 
Drain off once cooked and add the rest of the base ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
To make the cream topping combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Layer the base and aubergine in an oven dish and top with the 'cream'. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool a little before serving.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

But Mummy They Don't Go There!


Cleaning, tidying, picking up toys. Sometimes I wonder if there is much point. Every day we repeat the same pattern - Small naps, I clean up, she wakes up and gets everything back out again. Never mind the more 'thorough' jobs like cleaning the bathroom, I mean when am I supposed to be done?
I had one of those days yesterday where I found myself still in my dressing gown at 4pm and the house still a mess despite several attempts at cleaning.
The thing is, my little girl is happy. It doesn't matter that we are sometimes surrounded by chaos - nobody is perfect. Living in the moment and enjoying my time with my little girl is the important thing. She won't be little forever, the cleaning can wait.

 

Friday, 24 May 2013

She Can Reach Everything


It has really happened now, and nothing is safe.  She can reach almost all the surfaces in our living room, and another round of baby-proofing has been completed. If she sees it, she WILL grab it and it WILL be covered in drool.
I guess as a mum I've been really learning lately that you can't afford to be precious about anything. Take technology for example - as well as loving key fobs, remotes and pressing the keys on mummy & daddy's laptops she loves igadgets. If she can get her hands on an Ipad or Iphone even for a second she'll squeel with delight. As a result cases like the Otterbox have become my new best friend. 
There was a time when I would have looked on in horror if a baby got their hands on something like that - but as I said I've just had to learn not to be precious. Within a week of having my new Iphone it's been drooled on, chewed on and attacked by sticky fingers (all well protected by a 'survivor' case) - nothing is scared with an almost toddler around!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Baby Signing Fail

Ever since Small was born I've been experimenting with various baby groups and activities. At about 5 months we did a term of baby sensory - which I *think* she enjoyed, but to be honest didn't look like she knew what to make of everything going on.
Since Christmas we'd not really done anything, but post wedding I decided it was time to once again sign up for something and give it a go.


We are lucky enough to live in a pretty part of the world surrounded by little villages and countryside, however it does mean that things in our hometown fill up pretty quickly and often require a drive out to a village for a class with spaces.
Anyway, back on topic - I signed up to a 'Baby Signing' course with a pre 10 AM start time, but it'd take about half an hour to drive to it. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!
I can't be the only one who struggles to get out of the house on time/ early with a headstrong 1 year old? It's ashame as sometimes getting to these things can become a massive stress-filled chore, especially when sleep has been hard to come by the previous night.
Today we actually made it on time - but oh god I think it's time to find a new group!!! Although there is a good mix of babies older and younger than Small - she's the most inquisitive/ destructive by far!! 


Today was ultimate destruction! It doesn't help that it's held in a library and Small LOVES books. No book was safe today - we learnt absolutely no signing today, but oh boy did we pick up books!! She's not being naughty as some other parents looks would suggest - she's just exploring the world around her. I have NO idea how all the other children sit still for so long.
She's now fast asleep after the mornings adventures in the back of the car.
Time for a new group? I think so. I need  a class full of other crawlers/ toddlers where parents don't gasp at Small and loudly exclaim "I'm dreading *insert precious child's name here* gets to that stage, how do you cope?".  I'll carry on with the signing with her at home as we had a lovely book for Christmas.  
Soft play? Toddler play groups? What do you go to with crawling/ standing babies that can't get walk? Structured classes just don't seem to work for us - she wants to explore!
 
 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Today You Are One


I can't believe it - but my little girl is 1 already. We celebrated her birthday at the weekend in the company of family complete with a vegan bear shaped birthday cake, jelly and sausage rolls.

Small had a drive on car from my parents - which she totally loves. She's been tearing around the living room on it getting up to all sorts of trouble. 


I can't believe her first year has flown by so fast, she's changed and developed so much and I'm looking forward to all the milestones yet to come.
 

Our Week In Snaps

It's been an eventful week - it was Small's first birthday at the weekend, I got a new car and we had a family day out to Avoncroft Buildings Museum. As per the usual - here are my iphone snaps of it all unfolding.


I got a Jawbone Up - and have been trying to eat healthier.


I got my beautiful VW Beetle.



 We saw windmills & sunsets.


Went for drives...


Drank smoothies



 




 

Monday, 6 May 2013

'Baby' Omelet & Veggie Puree



Small is at the stage where she handles lumps and finger foods well and with enthusiasm, but still needs a portion of the meal she can handle easily. Even if your child is past this stage this meal works well if you slice the 'omelet' into soldiers and use the puree as a dip.

Ingredients 

Omelet
1 package of firm silken tofu
1 TSP frozen garlic
1 TSP Tumeric
2 TBSP of Cornflour
1 TBSP Gram Flour
1 TSP Purple Corn Flour
60ml Junior Soya Milk
Dash of Pepper
3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
1 TSP Coconut Oil (or margarine)
Dump all the ingredients into a food processor and mix until smooth.
Grease a 9 inch pie dish and pour in half the mixture.
Bake for around 30 minutes at 175 degrees celsius.


Veggie Puree
1 Chopped Carrot
Handful of Broccoli florets
Handful of Cauliflower Florets
40g Spinach
1/4 cup passata
1 TSP Coconut Oil
2 TBSP Vegan grated Cheese


Saute vegetables in coconut oil for around 10 minutes, adding the vegan cheese at the last minute to melt a little.
Add the vegetable and cheese mixture to a food processor and add the passata. Blend until smooth.

To make a serving for an adult - add a pinch of salt to the omelet batter before cooking, and reserve some vegetables and 'cheese' before blending.
Assemble and watch your child enjoy!

All The Family Baked Potatoes

This is a fab dinner as it's suitable for babies and parents! If you don't have the exact vegetables - then mix and match what you do have, it's super versatile. Small is 11 months and I remove her portion from the skin and mash it a little leaving a few finger food sized pieces for her to feed herself.
If you've never cooked with coconut oil before I really recommend you give it a try - it's delicious and really adds flavour to this simple meal.



Ingredients
1 Baking Potato per person
2 TBSP Coconut Oil (I use THIS cold pressed type)
1 TBSP brown sugar
Vegan Margarine
Chopped Vegetables - I used Mushrooms, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Tomato & Courgette
1/2 Cup Quinoa
Passata


First off - baked potatoes. Allow one per person and it's up to you if you oven bake them or microwave them. Everybody has their favorite method so I won't interfere!
I cook my Quinoa in a small portion rice cooker - it speeds things up as I don't have to be watching it while it cooks and just takes care of itself. In my cooker I used 1/2 cup of rinsed quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of water. If you don't have a rice cooker cook according to the instructions of the packet.
Whilst the Quinoa and potatoes are cooking add your coconut oil and vegetables to a frying pan and saute over a medium heat for around 10 minutes - depending on which and how many you are cooking.
About halfway through sauteing your vegetables add the brown sugar and stir well.
Heat up passata.
To assemble - cut your baked potato in half, add margarine and top with a layer of quinoa. Top with vegetables and passata.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Banana Breakfast

Continuing with the theme of really quick meals - this breakfast is one of Small's favorites.



Ingredients
2 Baby Rusks - the choice to use store brought or homemade is yours
1 Banana
1 TSP Almond Butter
1/2 Cup Of Junior Soya Milk
A sprinkle of ground Flaxseed & Pumpkinseed mix
Combine all in a bowl and mush into the right consistency for your baby's age/ ability.

In a Pinch Banana Rice Pudding

This is great if you need something quick and easy for your baby/ toddler for desert. So... I know it isn't technically how rice pudding is made - but sometimes with a little one it's hard to find the time to bake one for almost 2 hours. If you need something sooner then this is for you!
I recommend using Alpro Junior soya milk as it has a higher fat/ vitamin content than regular soya milk.
The best rice to use is 'Pudding Rice', but if you don't have any on hand it will also work with regular white or a 50/50 mix of white and brown rice.



Ingredients
Half a cup of uncooked rice
1 Cup water
2 Bananas
1 Cup of Soya Milk
You could also add: 2 Tsp Almond/ Cashew Butter, 1 TSP Nutmeg or Cinnamon, 1 TSP Ground Flaxseed or Flaxseed Oil



First off - you'll want to cook the rice. Early on in Small's weaning journey I invested in a small portion rice cooker and it's been an absolutely amazing thing to have. Add twice as much water as you have rice, flick the switch and leave. Perfect rice every time. If you don't have one of these wonderful gadgets - follow the instructions on the packet and cook on the hob.
Into a food processor add your cooked rice, pealed bananas and milk (plus anything else you are adding to the mix) and process.
Depending on your child's chewing ability you may need to add more or less soya milk.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Viva! Mother and Baby Guide

This week I've mostly been trying out recipes from this excellent leaflet. Oh and walking in the park (the weather has been SO nice!) - even though Small usually sleeps through it.



It's rare for me to follow other people's recipes - usually I'll just create my own, but this week I decided it was time to get Small eating 'family' meals and was looking for a little inspiration. As you might have gathered from the blog - I cook for her a lot anyway, but have been making her meals I know she can manage. She'll actually be one in a matter of weeks and us all eating the same meal has lots of advantages, mainly saving time in the kitchen and food bill!
The guide has a suggested meal plan and all the recipes for a two week period which it says are suitable for older babies and toddlers - all the recipes are suitable from one year (and Small is pretty awesome at chewing) so gave it a go. I brought a paper copy, but if you'd like to try it out too you can get it free online HERE.
So far we've made the Hummus, Tofu Potato Cakes, Very Quick Lentil Soup, Quick Mushroom & Almond Nutmeat, Lentil & Broccoli Gratin, Macaroni Cheese, Scrambled Tofu and Apple with Raisins. She's readily eaten all except the 'nutmeat' - I think the flavors were a little too strong for her and will season her portion less next time I make it.



Is it really family food? I'd say yes, but you might want to season your serving a little more than you do for your child. This week I've happily eaten these meals alongside Small and even rather quite liked some (Lentil & Broccoli Gratin). We are also both fans of the Nectarine Desert - it really doesn't taste like it's full of tofu!
I'm glad I revisited this guide now Small is a bit older and I'll definately make some of these things again. I think if you have a vegan child it's a 'must read' along with Feeding Your Vegan Infant With Confidence.