Kids are Health!

It has been said many times before that involving your kids in food prep is the way to get them to appreciate health. I want to say it again: involving your kids in food prep a great way to get them to appreciate health 🙂 

My oldest is 6 now and she loves to be in the kitchen and do everything I do. While there are days where I chase her out because I am just trying to get through a meal and put food on the table, other days I take that opportunity to teach her about my beliefs around food and why I think some foods are better than others, as well as get her to taste all kinds of different flavors. She loves it and I get to instill in her health beliefs that I find truly essential to living a Good Life. 

School started this week and last year my daughter had a yucky goopy runny nose for weeks because of all the germs going around school. I want to do my best to avoid that and I know that boosting her immune system right off the bat will help. So everyday this week we have started off our day with a freshly made juice. I don’t have a specific recipe, but the ingredients that have been going in consistently are lemons (with rind), fresh ginger, parsley and celery. I will write a post soon about the properties of these foods. I add other things such as carrots or beets so sweeten it up a bit. When apple season comes around, I will be adding some of those to the mix as well. There are days where both kids drink the juice happily, and days where I have to fight a bit, but asking them to help me make the juice has proven to be the best way for them to get excited to drink it. It does add about 10-15 minutes to our morning routine, but it is so worth it. 

photo-83

Do you have any tricks you use to get your kids to eat healthy? And do you have any natural recipes to boost the immune system? 

Intenseness Does not Equal Healthness

borealis_exercise_2014_028

(Healthness should be in the dictionary)

I used to be that person, the one who wouldn’t do a workout if I couldn’t give it my all. If I didn’t have at least an hour to workout, then why bother? If I can’t get a good sweat going, what’s the point? For years that attitude more or less worked for me. I was living a single life and worked as a trainer at a gym. I had the time and convenience of taking classes and working out during breaks or after work. And I made sure I sweat every single time. It didn’t count as a workout if I didn’t have to change my shirt and sports bra afterwards. It was a great feeling really. To have to peel the soaking clothes off my body, proving that I had given my all, that I had an intense workout worthy of a fitness trainer and an all out workout beast.

That was me in my twenties. Pre-babies. I was on fire and unstoppable. What size clothes I fit into mattered more than the long lasting health benefits of my lifestyle.

Although it took some getting used to and some ego-checking, I am so grateful for the shift in my perspective and my approach to health.

Today, every little bit of physical activity counts towards my goal of lifelong health.

I didn’t really “choose” to change my outlook on fitness, I kinda had to make changes according to my mommy lifestyle. I didn’t have the time or energy to spend so many hours at the gym. I had to find other ways to stay fit and active. At first I was still striving to get that “perfect” body (whatever that is), still trying to look the way I did before I had children. My workouts were solely driven by a desire to improve my appearance. It worked some, but not fully. It was way too easy for me to skip a workout, or reach for an unhealthy snack, as I felt I looked “good enough”.

After my second baby arrived I started viewing physical health quite differently. And it wasn’t until my 3rd baby arrived, that I really got a good handle on what true health means for me.

Today being fit and healthy looks so different than it did in my early twenties. And funny enough, I feel like I look better than I did before I had my first child. Even if under my own scrutiny I notice the cellulite and stretch marks that weren’t there before, somehow, I find myself more beautiful than I did back then. My skin was tighter then, my belly wasn’t marked, my breasts were fuller, and yet I didn’t have the appreciation for how I looked the way I do today. Not only that, but I am much healthier today than I was at any point in my twenties.

What changed is I shifted my intense workout attitude for a more healthy one. My intense workouts were driven by a superficial desire to look a certain way. This kind of mentality is neither healthy nor is it sustainable. One day I was bound to burn out on spending hours at the gym. Today, I don’t have time to spend hours at the gym, but I do have time to spend hours at the playground! Working out at the playground while hanging out with my kids is a very healthy way to move my body. I don’t put many expectations on myself when I am at the playground, other than do a minimum of two exercises. Sometimes that turns into 10 exercises, sometimes it’s just two. But at least I moved my body. The next day, I might be on a walk and I decide to do a few jump squats on a bench and some pushups. That takes less than 2 minutes. Or I will run some of my favorite stairs with my boys after I drop off my daughter at school.

Moving my body a little bit every day guarantees I remain consistent. And if that is my only goal: moving my body a little bit every day, I rarely let myself down. Some days I get a full on workout and it feels amazing. Some days, I focus on my cardio and run stairs intentionally to get a good sweat going, and I love it. Sweating and working out feels great to me. But those things are not my priority anymore. Feeling good is. And sweating every single day, getting an intense workout every single day, doesn’t feel good to me anymore. Mainly because I don’t have the energy given the amount of sleep I get. But moving my body a little bit every single day, is a MUST for me to feel good and have a Good Life.

My point here is that to be healthy, I needed to make choices that are sustainable and convenient. Doing a quick 15 minute workout in my living room, is very convenient. Working out at the playground is definitely sustainable as I will be going to playgrounds for years.

I still love intense workouts. I love kickboxing. I love sweating. Yet I don’t believe those things to be essential on a daily basis to be healthy. I do believe in connecting with my inner beast every now and then to push boundaries and see what I am made of. But that’s not my every day approach to fitness anymore.

Once my kids are all in school, I wouldn’t be surprised if my priorities change again. Once I have more time to myself I will probably find a different way to act out on my desire to remain healthy. But for now, intenseness doesn’t equal healthness.

Daily Multi Vitamins for Kids

photo-113

In a post a couple months ago I had mentioned how I was determined to keep the green yukky thick goopy noses at bay this year once my daughter started school. Well it has been 2 months now, and I am happy to say that so far, so good!! What I have been doing differently this year from previous years, is that I committed to giving my kids a daily dose of multivitamins. Not the store bought, industrialized, incapsulated, who-knows-whats-really-in-them-anyway?, and does-your-body-even-assimilate-all-this-stuff?, multivitamin. The real kind. The kind of vitamins you get from eating, or in this case drinking, fruits and vegetables. Every morning for the past 2 months, I have been making our family a green juice before I drop my daughter off to school. They drink it first things in the morning. It’s not always easy to get them to drink it. Some days it goes down fine, others I have to hold the cup for them, or sometimes make up games to get them to drink it. But it’s been SO WORTH it. By this time most school years, my daughter has brought home some gross runny nose. No other symptoms, just that nasty stuff all over her face that she wants to kiss and hug us with. Then she sometimes gives it to her brother. Not this year. I love kisses and snuggles too much to have them be ruined by excessive mucus. Up until now I have been making a juice that consists mainly on the stuff you see in the picture. Ingredients change a bit depending on what I find at the farmers market, but up until now it’s been pretty green pretty cleansing and detoxifying, as well as immunity boosting and all around just amazing. I really love having this kind of juice being the first thing I put in my body, and although my kids aren’t aware of it just yet, I am really happy that they get to experience such goodness too.

Here is a not exact recipe of what I have been making:

  • 4-5 cups of greens ( I rotate my greens weekly, you should too)
  • 1 cup herbs (I rotate mainly between parsley and cilantro)
  • 1 big chunk of ginger
  • 1 lemon, with peel
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 green apple, or 1 carrot, or 1 beet

Juice everything and drink it immediately!!!

I am about to switch up this juice recipe as I am feeling the need to get into more fall vegetables and I feel like our bodies could use some other nutrients than the ones we have been getting through so much green. But I am definitely committed to continuing juicing for my kids (and my!) health. Without a doubt, they are the reason I am keeping this up everyday. If I were juicing only for myself, I know I would have skipped a bunch of days or even would have taken a break from it by now. But why take a break from taking vitamins daily? Which is what juicing essentially is. While smoothies are great since we get a good dose of fiber in them, we tend to add other things in them as well and they are a little heavier to digest. And we cannot put nearly as many greens in a smoothie without feeling full as we can in a juice. Which makes it that we don’t get as many vitamins and nutrients. As the weather cools down and I have built up a good immunity for us up until now, I will be adding more smoothies in our diet and more colors to our juices. Stay on the lookout for those recipes coming soon 🙂

Run for your kids

20140926_091405

“Luca! LUCA!! COME HERE LUCA!!!” I hear her shouting from the sidewalk. I am down the hill at the playground and I look up. This overweight mom is shouting after her what appears to be 2 year old boy, to stop running as he is getting closer to the street. A passerby stops the runaway boy as the mother huffs and puffs her way to thank the man. She proceeds to grab the child and yell at him. Now, I won’t pretend to know what was going on in this situation. Maybe she wasn’t even the mother? Although her behavior and interaction with the boy made it seem like so. Maybe she has a health condition that makes it she can’t run or exercise? Very possible. But it got me thinking, so here I am sharing my thoughts.

If you have no health conditions preventing you from exercising, I say: Run parents. Or ride a bike. Or swim. Or play a sport that gets your heart pumping. Whatever you do, make sure it is something that keeps your heart and lungs healthy enough to run after your child. Not only will it be fun for them to have an active parent, but it will be SAFE.

What if there were no passerby’s to catch this child before he made it to the busy street? I was far enough down the hill to not have been able to make much of a difference.

I exercise regularly. I actually get paid to help other people exercise as I am good and knowledgeable about it. My reason’s for exercising are quite numerous, and here are some of my top ones:

  • I exercise so I feel good everyday. My youngest is 9 months old and sleeps in our bed. No matter the amount of sleep I get (or don’t get, really), if I am strong and fit, I manage to make it through my days without too much sluggishness. Getting my blood pumping and my muscles activated allows me to keep going even on little sleep.
  • I exercise so I can keep up with my kids. Being able to chase them around, to roll on the ground, to run up and down hills, to play at the beach and go on hikes, is how memories are created. Most kids are active by nature. Being active makes it that I can participate in their life, be a team player and not a “bleacher mom”.
  • I exercise so I can react quickly in any given situation (like my kid running into the street). Feeling strong and capable allows me to have more fun and be more relaxed. I can let my kids wander around as I know I am fast and I can get to them quickly if I need to. I can pick all three of them up at once and lug them out of the street if they aren’t listening to me as a bus is coming towards us. I can take them on more challenging hikes knowing that if they can’t keep up anymore, I can carry them.
  • I exercise so my kids see me doing it. I want fitness to be something normal and natural for them. I don’t want them to have to struggle as teenagers or adults because I didn’t lead by example.
  • I exercise because I like to look good. Yes it’s true. I am not going to pretend like part of my motivation has nothing to do with looks. Because looking good feels good to me. I am proud of my body. I have stretch marks and flabby skin. I have cellulite and muscles. I am strong. And I find strength beautiful. But in all honesty, looking good is not a good enough reason on it’s own for me to keep up with my workouts. I need all those other reasons first in order to be consistent.

I try not to let it get to me, but it can’t help it. It saddens me to see parents not take care of themselves like this overweight woman. It saddens me because there is no way this woman feels good in her body. Not when she is huffing and puffing like she was. And it saddens me because she is the person that this child has to look up to. She is his example in life, and she is not doing a very good job. Yes, by my standards, I am aware of that. But if my standards make it that I feel competent in keeping my kids safe, than why wouldn’t I want that for other kids?

Whatever your motivation for moving your body, if you are a parent, keep in mind that they will look at you for inspiration.

So what is your motivation? Why do you exercise? Why do you not? I would love to hear your thoughts!

A Good Life for our kids starts with US

Lunch today: green smoothie and left over breakfast oatmeal. My kids have been drinking green smoothies since they were old enough to eat solids, so it’s rarely a battle to have them drink one these days. As a matter of fact, sometimes they ask for some smoothie when they see me making one for myself. Which is what happened today. This is the kind of parenting moment I am proud of.

 

photo-88

 

We are our kids role models. If we cannot change our unhealthy habits for ourselves lets do it for our kids. If what they see us doing is sitting around eating junk food, or rushing around too busy to eat something decent, then they will think that that is the way to live. Not only are we responsible for keeping them healthy today, but the way we act around food is very likely to affect how they will act around food as adults. 

I’ve had too many conversations with adults who blame their parents for their lack of knowledge in healthy eating, for not giving them more guidance in how to eat well, for letting them eat whatever they wanted as kids, or even feeding them fast foods on a regular basis. These same adults struggle today to find their way to a healthy lifestyle, trying all kinds of dead end diets. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not just a way of eating. And it starts when we are children. The better examples we set for our kids, the easier we are making their life as adults. Do you want your kids to struggle with weight, body image issues, illnesses, amongst others, as they get older? Do you want them to blame YOU for not feeling good about themselves and not knowing how to lead a healthy life because they never had the right role model? 

Parents don’t usually think of those things when they buy all the conveniently packaged “kids” foods at the supermarket, when they do a quick stop at a fast food joint because they are too tired to cook, when they let their kids have sugary cereals and processed sugar desserts every day. Those foods are the beginning of the end of a happy body. And kids know nothing of this, they are completely dependent on us for food. So why not present them with the healthiest options there are? 

I started as early as I could to feed my kids well, because I already had a positive outlook on food and had a wholesome diet. I fortunately had a great childhood around food and learned a lot of healthy habits from my parents that I still have today. And I am doing the same for my kids because I want them to be able to look back on how I raised them as ways to take care for themselves in a positive manner.

 If you haven’t been doing that it doesn’t mean it is too late to start. I will soon be posting an entry on ways to start your family on a healthier path. What you can do starting now, is be mindful and implement positive eating habits for yourself. If you are already doing that, your kids are very lucky 🙂 Either way, I hope I inspire you in some way, wether it be being active with your kids or switching up what you eat. I am happy to keep on sharing recipes with you that you can share with your families. 

Living the Good Life, healthy and fit

As a stay at home mom and mother of three, I need to get creative with my workouts if I want to stay in shape, feeling strong and energized. I don’t have time for the gym. Heck, I don’t even have a gym membership! But I feel amazing! And every little thing helps. Sometimes (rarely) I can spend a whole hour in my garage doing a great workout, sometimes all I have is 10 minutes in my living room. Often I get to go to the playground with my kids and i use that as my gym. In any case, I truly believe that being fit and healthy comes with the kind of lifestyle that can last a lifetime. Would you rather spend hours at the gym for the rest of your life, or would you prefer to enjoy life outdoors, with your kids, grandkids? Not that you can’t do both, but the more time spent inside a weight room, the less time spent living.

I’m probably sounding anti weight room right now which is not the case. I’ve been a fitness trainer for over 12 years, spent a good 6 of those years working inside a gym. And I loved it. I loved the energy, I loved getting inspired and motivated by others. I loved the exercise classes. I loved all the weights! Truly! I could lift heavy for a woman and I felt proud. Gyms have a purpose and are great for specific goals. When it comes to living a wholesome well rounded life, I believe in finding ways to stay active and fit while living my everyday life. Now that I have 3 kids, my everyday life involves them, and they are not allowed in the weight room. 

It took me some time to get on board with that. I just couldn’t seem to get as fit and be as healthy as I wanted to because I always thought I needed more. More time, more classes, more weights, more energy! More more more…… I was coming from a place of lack. When really I had everything I needed to live the life I wanted. I just wasn’t aware nor was I utilizing what I had to my advantage. 

I changed that. My outlook was the first thing to change and then everything fell into place. I have become increasingly aware of the choices that I have on a daily basis. We are all, always faced with choices. It is our decisions that will create the quality of our lives. And I have decided to live a Good Life, actually, it’s a great life 🙂 Some days it’s really hard to stay on top of my decision making and I slip. But I don’t let it put me down. A bad day just is. It doesn’t have to dictate how I live my life. The beauty about being alive is that there is always tomorrow to get back up if today is too hard. I choose to get back up because life is more enjoyable to me that way. I choose health and fitness because I find it easier to be a mom when I feel great about myself. I choose responsibility because really, no one else can live my life for me. 

With all theses choices, I have decided to make the most of my time while being a stay at home mom. And that includes being as fit and healthy as I can be. I will be sharing with you short videos of things I do to keep active while being with the kids, either out and about, at playgrounds, or at home. I hope I can inspire some of you and show you that you do not need a gym membership to be fit, you do not need 2 hours out of your day to feel strong, you do not need to go on 5 mile runs to slim down. You definitely do not need to push yourself until you vomit and beat yourself up because you did not lift until your muscles gave out. I use my kids in my workouts, not only are they heavy enough, but they are way cuter than a dumbbell!! 

I hope you find my fitness shares useful and I am happy to hear your feedback! Here is to living a Good Life 🙂 

Nut-ella YUM!!

This simple recipe definitely gives the satisfaction of eating nutella without all the guilt! You can decide how much and what kind of sweetener you use and it is free of all those awful oils and added toxic ingredients that you find in most of the store bought ones.

Yes, there are now some much better versions out there, but the price?? Plus, to me, it’s always so satisfying being able to whip up something this delectable in my own kitchen, and sharing it with my kids.

My oldest helped with this and it gave us an opportunity to talk about why I don’t buy the popular brand and why I choose the quality ingredients that I do.

If you are a nutella lover, I believe you will enjoy this healthy take on it.

Enjoy!

 

IMG_3779

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 TBS coconut or macademia nut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125 ml (about 1/2 cup) coconut milk (I use the fatty one from a can)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 80 ml (about 1/3 cup) of sweetener. I used a mix of honey and maple syrup. Honey is much sweetener than maple syrup, I f I were to use it exclusively I would use less. To keep it sugar free you could use stevia or rice malt syrup.
  • dash of salt

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350*F. Bake the nust for 8-10 minutes. This helps the oils come out and create a smoother texture.
  • once baked let cool a few minutes and peel the skins off as they can be bitter. This doesn’t need to be exact. We actually put ours in a jar and shook it a bunch and that was enough! We still had quite a bit of skins left but it came out great.
  • put nuts in the food processor and blend a few minutes until a nice creamy butter is formed
  • add all other ingredients and continue blending until well combined.
  • taste and adjust according to taste buds
  • Share and enjoy!

 

IMG_3782.jpg

 

 

40 days of confinement and a Shiitake broth recipe

 

If you are here just for the recipe, go straight to the end of this  post, as I am starting it with a story about my postpartum days. 

 

My 40 days of confinement, inspired by The First 40 Days, are officially done.  I made the decision to stay home with my daughter for the first 40 days postpartum, eating warming nourishing foods and practicing self care while tuning in to my daughter’s energy, thanks to the book The First 40 Days. Read more about that in this post.

I am so incredibly grateful that I was supported in doing this and I am proud of and happy with myself to have made this commitment. I received such amazing nourishment from friends and family, I’ve been very gentle with myself, and have been relishing on what it feels like to be home with no obligations other than being with my family.

It has been an incredibly inspiring time. I started filling up my days with more reading, more learning of subjects that I had been interested in for a while and just never made the time for, more singing with the kids and more self care. All these things are going to stay with me as I slowly start to re-integrate in the outside world. My daughter is calm and happy. Her siblings treat her with gentleness and love, and we are all around a happy and healthy family. Make no mistake, “healthy and happy” does indeed include sleep deprived, at times frustrated and impatient, and learning to adjust to life with a 4th child while stumbling through past parenting successes that are no longer successes, and needing to find a new path. Thats for a different post. But the appreciation for happiness is only truly possible when one fully accepts life’s challenges as well. 🙂

I highly recommend mothers take this time postpartum. I know this is common for a lot of cultures, but here in the United States, not so much. And if you are like me, with no immediate family near by (other than my sister in law, who is amazing with the kids), or grandparents, then taking the time to just BE with my new born is something that comes with a lot of pre-planning.

Other than making sure there is always someone to be with my older kids, and the endless hours of snuggling with my new love, the two most beneficial things I got out of this time at home was the nourishing foods and the self care.

I really tuned in to my body and followed my gut’s intuition, literally, to feed myself. Unsurprisingly, not once did I crave salads, or smoothies, or anything cold. I stayed away from most flours as the thought of the weight in my stomach sounded too, well, heavy. I was eating a lot of soups and stews and warm oats, with almond milk. Lots of fatty foods such as avocados, coconut and olive oil on everything. No nuts or seeds as is, in butter or milk form was great. I avoided dairy other than the occasional yogurt craving that actually felt good on my digestion and abundant amounts of ghee. No eggs or cheese. Out of nothing other than the lack of desire for them. I am vegetarian so meats and fish and bone broths were not in my diet, though I do recommend eating lots of bone broths for meat eaters as it is highly nourishing and replenishing while being incredibly gentle on the digestion.

As for physical activity, I didn’t do anything for the first 4 weeks other than very mild stretching to open up my chest and get some blood circulating. Since I wasn’t leaving the house I didn’t go for walks. It was hard yet I surrendered easily in to this as I was committed to being with my newborn, at home, away from cold winds or bright sunshine, or harsh noises (we live in a city). At week 4, I started increasing the frequency and intensity of my stretching and adding some mobility drills to get my joints supple and prepared for when I would eventually start exercising again. I would also perform frequent heat massages on myself, on my ankles, elbows, knees and wrists, with sesame oil. At week 5, I started doing some very gentle core awakening exercises added in to my stretching. Week 6 is when I start leaving the house, going for walks on the beach, then to the beach and home. Now, starting week 7, I have started a very gentle and mild exercise routine. It’s not much of a routine really as it is more of a permission to exercise whenever I have the time. With four kids, including a new born, I get to do a couple exercises here and there throughout the day. I have no actual “workout” time carved out yet. And I have not started doing cardio either. I am focusing on rebuilding my core and improving my flexibility, while increasing the intensity of my walking before I start adding anything more intense. Next will be walking stairs and then bike riding.

I will eventually be writing a more extensive post on my exercise regimen with examples of how I am bringing myself back to a place of strength and balance in my own body.

Self care was very important for me during this time. I had friends come over and provide healing sessions. I got some reiki, body talk, sound healing, cranio sacral and massages. When I didn’t have someone working on me, I worked on myself. I performed frequent self massages, took candlelit bubble baths (once the bleeding had stopped, which for me was after 6-8 days). I journaled, read, meditated, colored and drew, and worked on my own vibration either through song or tuning forks. And on occasion I would make myself yummy nourishing foods that weren’t being provided.

Now that the 40 days are up, I am committed to keeping a lot of these practices alive. I am continuing to feed myself gentle foods for the digestion, mostly because it feels really great that way, and also because we are in between autumn and winter and warm nourishing foods are of the season.

I am excited to start feeling in to my body more and more. The hardest part for me is not finding the motivation to exercise but rather making myself slow down and really take it slow. I am strong and can do a lot, even postpartum I can do more than some of my fitness clients, so not getting caught up in my strength and slowing down is a challenge. This is one of those times where I am choosing to NOT listen to my body, as it wants to keep going, but to tune in to my EXPERIENCE and knowledge instead. I know that taking it slow now will set me up for a much more empowering and healthy future.

One of the harder things for me to be coming out of the 40 days is the real distractions and demands that come from having 4 children. I was really enjoying spending all my time with my new baby, massaging her, singing to her, watching her coo at me and responding. Laying luxuriously for hours in bed and nursing and snuggling and not rushing her or forcing her in to anything. Now that the 40 days are done, we don’t really have the support of friends and family in the same way. My husband is working and I am with the kids, who need me to cook for them, play with them, take them places and so on. I don’t mind it as it is my chosen life, but I am saddened that the cocoon phase is over. I still spend a lot of quality time with Haumea, but she is quickly strapped in to the carrier even though she could spend a longer time lounging in bed with me, because the other kids need me. The pacifier comes out way more often than I would generally be okay with just so I can finish making breakfast for hungry and agitated little people before sitting down to nurse her.

Regardless of how you enter life postpartum, it is a huge shift. Wether is is your first or your 4th, it is a huge shift. But entering life postpartum after giving myself those 40 days of “confinement” feels so much more gentle and empowering. While I am tired and have very little time to myself without a child on my body, my mental state feels strong and peaceful. The upsets arise, as they always do, but I generally have the patience to handle with them more peace than I once had. I have my own internal struggles, as well as the shifting of roles and dynamics in my marriage as we navigate this new territory, yet I do not have fear, or frustrations at the unknown.

My husband and I have been disconnected, not in a negative way, just in a way that happens because I have taken on caring for a new born and he has taken on being with older kids more and taking them out of the house when he can. We have always done everything together, and right now we are dividing ourselves to better serve our family. It is a necessary step in the process yet it is time for him and I to reconnect and talk about how we will make our relationship a priority again in the near future.

My capabilities, desires and needs are shifting and I know his are too. Talking about those and understanding where we both are in this transition will help us grow stronger, keeping resentments and attachments out of the equation.

We are all adjusting, and keeping communications open and clear during this time are of the utmost importance if we want to keep on thriving as a couple and a family.

The 40 days are up, and I feel so ready to take on this new life, with all it’s challenges, upsets, beauty and joy.

IMG_3269

 

Below is the recipe for what quickly became my favorite postpartum nourishment: Mushroom broth that I got from the book The First 40 Days. The first few days, when my digestion was very sensitive and my insides felt like a ghost town, with lots of empty space and gas bubbles, I would drink this  while eating avocados. I didn’t really want much else. As my organs slowly started finding their way back and my intestines had more support I started adding oats or congee to the broth. Now I make it and keep eating with oats or congee as I truly love it. It is becoming a staple in my house.

As with any broth, you can build your own, add or substitute ingredients given what you have on hand. There is no wrong when it comes to making broth as long s you have enough liquid with your veggies!

 

Shiitake Mushroom Broth

FullSizeRender-132.jpg

 

Makes 2 quarts (2L) (I’m not gonna lie, I always wish it makes more, i need to start doubling the recipe…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, green parts discarded, white parts roughly chopped
  • 2 TBS olive oil or other cooking oil or ghee
  • sea salt
  • 2 cups (85 g) fresh shiitake mushrooms, or 1 cup dried
  • 1/2 cup dried reishi mushrooms (20g)  (optional but I highly recommend it as it adds great immunity properties and flavor!)
  • 1 cup (60g) cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 strips kombu (helps with digestion and flavor)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, halved, with seeds is fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch knob of fresh turmeric, unpeeled, halved
  • 2 cups (140g) roughly chopped green cabbage
  • 1 loosely packed cup (50g) roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup miso paste (optional as it is my personal add-in that wasn’t in the original recipe)

Steps:

  • In a large pot over medium heat, brown the onions and leeks in the oil with a pinch of salt.
  • Quickly rinse the mushrooms and kombu under running water. Add everything but the parsley, cabbage and lemon zest to the pot, with 3 quarts (2.8L) of water, or enough water to cover the veggies by 1 inch.
  • Cook for 1 hour over medium, low heat, covered.
  • During the last 20 minutes, add the cabbage, parsley and lemon zest.
  • season the broth to taste. Remove from heat and strain.
  • I add 1/4 cup miso paste at this point (this isn’t in the recipe but this is the way I have taken to make it as I love the flavor)
  • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months

IMG_3003

Halloween

Yes, my children will be trick-or-treating tonight. I am not a fan of this “holiday” but I am also not a fan of always going against the grain, so to speak. My oldest went to school for a few years and living in the united states, well, Halloween is almost everywhere. We live in a city so there is no escaping it without a huge fight. And because of having 3 kids, (eventually 4) old enough to trick-or-treat, I am not in to being the helicopter mom counting how much candy everyone is eating as we are walking. That just takes the enjoyment out of the night for everyone. I’d rather appreciate my kids excitement while myself enjoying the work and effort that people have put in to decorating their homes, than micro managing my kids.

I struggled with Halloween, released my resistance a bit, then struggled with it some more, then allowed it to be what it is. I go back and forth with this event and in all honesty I wish it didn’t exist or that I lived somewhere where the celebration of it was based around folk tales and spooky gatherings rather than candy.

But I live here. And my kids LOVE it. They love to dress up and they certainly love the candy! So I’ve let it go (mostly) and we go trick-or-treating. They never end up getting all the candy they gather because we very sneakily manage to make them think they ate it all.

There are two things that bother me about trick-or-treating:

  1. The sheer amount of “bad” candy and it what it does to a person’s health
  2. The lack of enjoyment of some (my) children at all the decorations and effort that goes in to making Halloween festive and being focused on how much candy can be acquired instead. They definitely stop and look at what people have created but it is only an afterthought. Personally, that is my (only) favorite thing about Halloween: the decorations and costumes.

For those two reasons I have started to do these things:

  1. Have them eat fiber and protein before we head out for trick or treating. Last year I had them drink this smoothie. This year I plan on having them drink a large cup of green soup, made with kale, broccoli, celery, beans and a few other veggies for flavor. We don’t leave the house until their cups are empty. They know this, they drink up 🙂
  2. And this year I am starting a new tradition of playing walking Halloween Bingo. I printed these off the internet. The kids seem excited about it, so we’ll see! The game will be very simple, as they just need to spot the things that are on the card and get an adult to check it off for them (to make sure they actually saw it and to also hopefully spark a conversation about the decorations they are seeing). If they fill out their whole card, they get a prize (non-edible). My hope is that in between running from doorbell to doorbell they will slow down and take the time to appreciate where we are.

Now, I know that not all children are not in to candy and not all children rush to fill up their bags, but I have 3 kids old enough to trick-or-treat, and when one of them is in that mood, it is so quick for the others to follow, and all it takes is for one running child to get all of us running. Hoping to slow things down this Halloween.

Please let me know if you have any “tricks” for your family so that you can all still enjoy the “treat” part of this celebration without too much back lash 🙂 Always looking for new inspiration over here!

 

 

The First 40 Days (post partum)

This is a book review, illustrated with my own personal experience and the intro to a lot of my upcoming posts. 

 

61hn2CWVcaL

 

This book, in my opinion, should be read by all expecting mothers. Wether it’s your first or your 6th child, if you are pregnant and haven’t read this book yet, I strongly suggest you do.

I was given this book by my friend Marisa Belger, the co-author of this book, and while I was not pregnant at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, was gifting it and suggesting it to pregnant women, and I wished this book had been written when I was pregnant with one of my first 3 children as it is full of beautiful nourishing recipes, thoughtful tips and deep wisdom.

As luck has it, I ended up getting pregnant with my fourth child, Haumea, and had her a few weeks ago ❤

IMG_9546

So now I am home and I get live The First 40 Days, that were entirely inspired by this book. I am on day 24 now.

The idea of the first 40 days is a cultural thing. Many cultures around the world observe the first 40 days postpartum as one of deep healing, gentleness, inward living and care for the new mother and baby. One where neither the mother or baby leave the house and where they both spend their time just being with each other with minimal distractions and lots of nourishment, love and self care. A time where family steps in and comes to take care of the new mother so she can focus all her attention on baby. We don’t have this tradition in the US unfortunately. Quite the contrary actually!

In the US a mother is viewed as strong and capable if she is out and about with her newborn just days after giving birth. Extra bonus points if her physical body bounces back quickly. “Wow, you are so amazing being out with your new baby and you barely look like you have given birth!” Women are proud to show up places with their newborn in tow. “I got this, I can have a new baby AND be social AND even go back to work! I might even throw a welcome party for my baby”

There is pride in that. And I get it because I was like that with my first 3 babies. I was physically capable of doing it all and so I did. I was proud to be able to do it all. Since when has busyness become a badge of honor? I wore that badge with pride. Thankfully because of who I am and my genetic makeup I was able to handle the lack of early self care without it depleting me too much. But while my physical body was handling it fairly well, how was my emotional body really doing during those times?

This time around I am PROUD to have made the commitment to SLOW DOWN. I am PROUD to say I am staying home with my baby and doing the bare minimum. Because of who I am (physically active, social, mother of four, self imposed obligations of taking the kids out of the house and entertaining them often, self imposed duty of cooking from scratch), making this commitment to do the bare minimum took more work than it would have to just go back to living life the way I usually do. And boy do I need this time at home. I think it’s worth mentioning that I live in San Francisco, a big city with lots to do, lots to explore and lots of people to see. If I lived in the country or a more remote place, taking this time at home might not feel like such a big deal. I also think it’s worth mentioning that my mother passed when I was a child, and my father and step mom live in France. My husbands mother isn’t around either. So this leaves us with no grandparents to help us out and no mother figure to take care of me.

I am being very mindful of my diet. While I am usually someone who eats well, balanced and varied, the way of eating suggested by The First 40 Days isn’t only about the “healthy” factor, it’s about the nourishing and healing factor. While previously I would eat big salads and drink smoothies and smoothies bowls, because really, those things are healthy and packed with vitamins and yummy things, so why wouldn’t I eat them? This book has given me new isights on how to gently care for a body that needs comfort and warmth.

I have been feeling amazing everyday. My kids are being cared for by community so that they are not bored at home everyday, I am being fed nourishing meals by my community as well as the great prep work I put in while I was still pregnant, and I am receiving healing sessions from my community as well. My husband is being a rock star dad and taking the kids places as much as he can when he is not working in order for them to have fun and for Haumea and I to spend time alone. My brother is also staying with us and being helpful with the older kids so I don’t need to rush out of bed in the morning and can take my time nursing and snuggling Haumea. Not only do I feel great physically, I  have also recovered the fastest from all 4 births, and my emotional well being feels stable, centered, grounded and patient. I never thought this is the way I would feel after bringing a fourth child in to this already rambunctious home of mine. I know things will shift when I start to interact with the outside world more, and I feel so ready to take that on. Adjusting to life with a newborn in this way is setting me up for success as I am integrating in a peaceful, quiet way.

Not only that, but I am getting to spend such amazing quality time with my baby. Time that would so easily slip away if I were at the playground with the older kids, or in the car going places while she is strapped in her car seat, (probably crying because that is not where she wants to be), or at park meet ups or strapping her in and out of the carrier so I can shop and run other errands. We will eventually get to doing all those things. But being able to spend HER first 40 days out of the womb in such a thoughtful, low activity way, in the comfort of an intentional cocoon, I imagine is a much sweeter transition than being brutally thrown in the chaos of what can sometimes be this modern life. I get to spend long moments singing to her, massaging her, rocking her, soothing her, snuggling her. And the other kids are learning to treat her gently as well, honoring her space, her quietude and her transition.

This time at home is allowing me to replenish and feel ready to take on whatever shape my life will take once I start leaving the house again and having more obligations and duties. And it’s allowing me to fully tune in to Haumea so that I can make choices that are considerate of her once life resumes it’s busier pace. Although I have a feeling this time we are spending here is going to shift my perspective and desires around how much we do and how often.

And I attribute all of this to the inspiration I got from The First 40 Days. Before reading this book I felt like I was good at birthing, post partum and integration of a new being in our life. I would have not expected the amazing difference my inner world would experience by taking these committed 40 days. Because making this commitment goes beyond staying home for 40 days, it also involves being committed at caring for myself, on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. I journal, I write, I sing, I perform self massages. I oil my hair and take baths. I stretch, read and meditate.

I want to point out, that while I wished I had had this book with my first baby, I feel like this book is even more relevant to me now that I have several children. For those of you who are mothers, you might already associate with the fact that we can put ourselves last as mothers, or feel like we have too much going on already to take the time to nourish ourselves properly, be it with food or self care. It’s so easy to fall right back in to the “I need to do so much for everyone around me, if I have time I will do something for myself after” mentality.  So making this commitment during my pregnancy, talking to my husband about it and making sure he is on board and gathering my tribe, my community to support us all during this time, was even more necessary now that I have been a mother for 9 years than it was 9 years ago when my first child was born.

This book is a must have in my opinion. Unless you are a lucky person who comes from a culture who already honors this tradition and have been raised with these principles. For me, a lot of this information was new and I am so incredibly grateful to the women, Heng, Marisa and Emily, who put it into words and turned it into a book so that the rest of the world can learn about it.

And I am incredibly grateful to my husband and my community for supporting me in my decision. Even though this time spent this way is a necessity for the well being of myself and baby, because of the world we live in, a part of me cannot help but think of it as a luxury, a luxury I am blessed to be able to take in this fast paced, go-getter, keep moving and do do DO! world we live in.