BREATHE + GLOW

make mindfulness your default mode

motherhood

Galacta-gold! Beans, Greens and Grains Bowl

motherhood, recipesLindsyComment

 

Are you seeking the perfect, easy lunch? Something warm and comforting, but healthy too? Maybe even something that helps you make more milk for that baby of yours? I've got a meal for you.

 

Somewhere in my return to work from my first maternity leave, I created this dish. I don’t remember how it came to be - just that I concocted it out a strong desire to MAKE MORE MILK.

Barley, beans, dark leafies, and sesame seeds (via tahini) are all galactagogues, aka milk makers. This is super easy and feels oh-so-nourishing to eat, so it’s no wonder that it increases your milk production. Ideally, I cook up a batch on Sunday afternoons and portion it out for my upcoming week’s lunches, but this doesn’t always happen. There have been many mornings when I cooked this while eating breakfast and getting ready for work. It’s a snap.

To make it even more of breeze, use these quick-cooking bags of barley and farro. You can get them at Trader Joe’s, and recently I have seen a nearly identical version at TJ’s sister store, ALDI. They cost the same (at least in my area). It will shave about twenty minutes off of your cook time, and it’s already measured for you.

 

Disclaimer: I’m an ad lib cook. I write recipes the old-fashioned way, in a somewhat vague manner that assumes the reader has some knowledge of cookery and is not afraid to improvise. Cooking times and measurements may vary. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts and tweak something if its not working for you. This is how I make this recipe. It does not have to be the way you make it.

 

 

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  1. First, grains. Make life easy-peasy and use the quick-cook bags from Trader Joe’s or ALDI. I alternate between barley and farro. Alternatively, you can use 1 cup of pearled barley. Make sure to rinse it first.

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2. In a 3-5 quart pot, combine grains with 3 cups of water. Let come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes

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3. Toss in enough torn kale to fill up the pot. (I’m using a 3 quart saucepan here. You could definitely go bigger and probably should, as I usually end up adding more kale later on.) Cover the pot and let kale steam until wilted, about 10-15 minutes. Add a little more water if needed.

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4. Add 2-3 cups of beans. Again, you can hit the easy button and use rinsed canned beans. If you have the planning skills to use dried beans, I applaud you.

5. After this, I portion out the in gredients into glass containers for my work lunches. I drizzle about 1 tablespoon of tahini on top of each serving.

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So what do you think? Any additions, subtractions, or other tweaks? It has been a lifesaver for me, so let me know how it works for you!

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The Zen of Breastfeeding

motherhoodLindsyComment

Ah, breastfeeding. Such an intense and controversial topic. Let’s just start by saying that I breastfeed; it is my choice and I feel that everyone should make the choice that is right for them. Alternate circumstances may have taken me down a different path, but this is how my story goes.

 

Breastfeeding has not always been easy for me. In the beginning I found it to be exhausting, worrisome, and far too demanding. I may not have felt this way (or felt it so strongly) if things had taken a different course. Babies are unpredictable, though, and mine came an entire month early. This meant that in addition to giving birth earlier than I expected, I also had to contend with things like pumping at home for a few days and visiting my son in the Special Care Nursery when I could. We tried breastfeeding at those times, but let’s just say it was a learning process. He didn’t have a strong “suck” and he also fell asleep...like, a lot. So there I was, massaging milk out for him and trying to wake him up every couple of minutes.

It was hard going for the first few months at least. Besides the crazy amount of energy breastfeeding takes, the hunger I felt was out of control. It was worse than when I'd been pregnant, and I was too tired and busy to feed myself properly. Hunter continued to need the assistance I described above until he was almost four months old. Once I got the hang of it, though, it was easier to feed myself (like grabbing some hummus and pita before sitting down for one of our forty - yes, forty - minute bf sessions). I also started to download  books to my iPhone and read. When it was time to turn a page, I just had to swipe my thumb. That came in really handy at night when I needed to stay awake (or thought I did).

Then my baby got older - and more distracted. Watching television or reading while I held him was not working out, and he constantly looked around our living room to see what was going on. I had long loathed the act of going into his room to breastfeed. Having to go back there and sit in the glider, quietly breastfeeding, felt like being exiled. That was what I did when we had company, and it always felt so dull to me. After a while though, it seemed like the best choice. I was no longer interested in trying to keep Hunter focused on the main event.

Soon, though, those moments in the glider became somewhat magical. It helped that Hunter was much quicker now and that he didn't need my help. I was free to hook on the Brest Friend and let him be, while I leaned back and enjoyed the solitude. It took me awhile to realize what I was doing during these quiet times, but I realized I was restoring my mind, sorting out thoughts, daydreaming, praying. The truth of this hit me one day while perusing a copy of Parents magazine. There was an article about working meditation into your parenting life, and one of the moments to take advantage of was while feeding your baby.  The section states:

"Consider your rocking chair or glider to be your meditation cushion, where you focus exclusively on your baby and your breath. 'Instead of thinking about all that you should or could be doing at that moment, allow yourself to rest and be soothed by the rocking and quiet time with your baby:'"

Now that I'm more mindful of that time, I've been careful to keep to-do lists and other "working" thoughts out during that time.

Hunter is seventeen months old now, and he still seeks out that time together. At times it can seem inconvenient, but mostly I want it too. I wouldn’t say that I’m meditating, and I’ve never really tried to at that time. I do, however, relax my body, close my eyes, and enjoy the freedom from busyness. I am doing what I need to do, and there is nothing else that I need to do at that moment. It’s especially wonderful at the end of the work day, when we’ve just gotten home. My natural instinct would be to jump right in to chores and other “always-there” tasks, but this forces me to take a break and spend time with my darling dear son. Of course, I also like it when he starts playing games with me and launches into a giggle fit. So worth it - for me.

If someone had told me a year ago that breastfeeding would become one of the most peaceful and pleasant moments of my day, I would've given them the side eye. But now it's true. It’s just one of the many, many aspects of parenthood that has surprised me.

Has anything about parenthood turned around for you?

The Writers of Parenthood Let Me Down

LindsyComment

I recently watched the penultimate episode of

Parenthood

, which ended its fabulous six-season run just a few weeks ago. This show has been a bright spot in my evenings over the last several months. I discovered its existence in September and my husband and I blazed through all six seasons just in time for the series end.

This last bit of the show was highly emotional. (

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

) Amber delivered her baby, an event that she had been scared about as a young single mother. But as Zeek and Camille stepped into the hospital room to see their first great-grandchid, Amber was sitting up on the edge of bed, happily bouncing her son and rocking side to side. Cue the record scratch. My husband, bless him, actually caught the absurdity of this. "What? She wouldn't be able to sit up like that!' I don't know. Maybe she would. At twenty one years old, youth is in her favor, but it still strikes me as unlikely. I certainly couldn't sit up without support right after giving birth, and I didn't have an epidural. My abdominal muscles were just exhausted, and ohmygoodness, everything hurt.

Something I have enjoyed immensely about Parenthood is that it touches on the reality of parenthood and family life in a way many shows do not. It is overly dramatic, yes. In almost every episode there is an overreaction of some sort, or an easily avoidable miscommunication. It's a tv show, so I will excuse that in the name of entertainment. But what I'm talking about are the things I've never seen on any other show, like when Kristina is preparing to go an important party while her daughter is still a newborn. She has trouble finding something to wear because she is breastfeeding and her dresses are not up to task of covering her ample cleavage. As this is happening, she talks about how she doesn't even really want to go, because she is tired and she will have to pump and she will miss her baby. To top off the evening, she is finally starting to enjoy herself at the party when she realizes that she has started leaking milk onto her dress. I have been there; I'm sure many of us have. Those are the kinds of moments that show truth and deserve admiration.

One thing that has always bothered me about this show, though, is how it depicts childbirth. Including Amber's seene, there have been four labor and delivery episodes on the show. With every single one, I hoped that one of them would break the standard tv/movie method of portraying this event. Which is to say, I hoped that at least one of them would show the mother beginning to feel contractions without immediately rushing to the hospital. The veil on this major life event has been lifted mightily since the early days of television. I would venture to say that most adults know that a woman does not need to rush to the hospital upon feeling those first contractions, that she (and her partner, if there is one) are actually encouraged to time the contractions and make their way to the hospital when the contractions have been five minutes apart for about an hour. This, of course, depends on many factors, like how far away you live from the hospital, if your water has broken, or other issues that indicate you might want to hustle over there. But I think at least one in four of these ladies could have staged a more true-to-life birth. In fact, I think it should have been Amber. Here's why:

  • Amber had two false alarms before her actual labor. Since she had already rushed to the hospital on two previous occasions, it would have made a nice juxtaposition to see her having a slower-paced labor.
  • There was a big emphasis on Amber's relationship with her mother, Sarah, throughout this story. She was relying on her mother to help her since the father was not in the picture. Instead of having Sarah pick Amber up in the middle of the night and take her to the hospital immediately, why not have Sarah come over in the middle of the night and coach Amber through her contractions? A 20-second montage of this (pacing, crying, breathing deeply) set to emotional music and capped with them arriving at the hospital and the subsequent pushing (which they did show). I think that would have been a great way to honor their relationship without boring the audience.
  • They owed it to their viewers to depict a realistic labor and delivery, and Amber was their last chance. Why not take a step back and say, hey, let's break some ground here and make this one different. (And by different, I mean like the majority of the population.)

I will miss this show. I will miss its moments of truth amid the drama. But I do wish it had not downplayed this particular area of life. I expected more from a show that seemed so real.

What are some ways this show touched your life? Are there other shows that portray parenthood in a way that seems very true (or very false)? I'd like to hear other's thoughts.