Roasted Brussels Sprout, Kale, and Pear Salad (gf/v option)

When I think of fall, I think of crisp, fresh air and long walks exploring the changes of the forest. On Vancouver Island, it also means a lot of rain. After some outdoor time, I want to warm up with the fire and some wonderful food.

On one rainy afternoon while some of the children I take care of were napping, I decided we needed a heavy dose of warming greens with dinner to keep our bodies nourished. Something savoury, a little bit sweet, and most definitely comforting.

So I started roasting.

Roasting is one of my favourite methods of cooking because it has the ability to introduce textures, sweetness, creaminess, or crispness to fruits and vegetables when you may not expect it. Ingredients transform in that 350 degree box and leave the house with an arrangement of aromas that let who ever is next to come home know know dinner is going to be good.. even if it’s brussels sprouts.

brussels

Yes, this salad will make you a brussels sprout lover. Yes, you will see that they become crispy and consume the delicate flavours of the basil balsamic tahini dressing and marry with the juices of a roasted pear.

You. Will. Love. Them.

Top with seeds (like pepita or sunflower) and a cheese of your choice like goat cheese, feta, parmesan, or white cheddar (aged white in the photo because that’s what we had on hand) or remove it and substitute the honey in the dressing for your favourite alternative to make it vegan.

brusselsprouts

So for that next rainy day, warm up with a heaping bowl full of roasted vegetables and get your body greened up for the next storm.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Kale, and Pear Salad

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
3-4 cups thinly sliced brussels sprouts
3-4 cups ripped kale
1 pear, diced
Olive oil
Dash of salt, pepper, and onion powder.

In a bowl, toss the brussels sprouts in olive oil with a dash of salt, pepper, and onion powder. Lay out on a sheet pan and place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes  or until the edges are golden, stirring every few minutes to ensure they don’t burn.

On a separate sheet pan, place the kale and pears after tossing in olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Roast in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes until the kale is slightly crisp on the edges and the pears are softened.

Remove sprouts, kale, and pears from the oven and let them cool on the sheet pans.

Basil Balsamic Tahini Dressing

2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey (or a sweetener of your choice if vegan)
6-8 leaves of basil
Dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons of water to thin

Add ingredients one at a time into a bowl in the order they are listed, whisking together after you add each one. Add water to thin to the consistency of a cream based dressing.
Place kale, pears, and brussels sprouts (and root vegetable if added) into a bowl and coat all vegetables in the dressing. Place in an baking dish or oven friendly pan. Top with seeds and cheese of your choice. Place back into the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

 

 

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Walnut Brownie Energy Balls (with a Divine superfood twist-vegan/glutenfree)

From breastfeeding to errands and work schedules, it can feel overwhelming to prepare snacks at home that are high in nutrition and easy to eat on the go. When I was making this Walnut Brownie Energy Ball recipe, I wanted to create something that was easy to prepare and tasted like a treat without the sugar crash to get myself through my daily errands. With only three steps to make, these energy balls are quick to assemble and even easier to eat!

energyballssss

With the bitterness of walnuts and richness of chocolate, the base of nut butter and dates provides a creamy texture for these energy balls. The recipe itself is very versatile depending on your pallet. Try playing with the amount of walnuts and coconut flakes if you want something with less bitterness. There is also an option to add sweetener to the recipe if your sweet tooth desires!

energyballsss

You can also change-up the type of nut butter you use.  I used peanut butter when I made these but the possibilities are endless: cashew butter, pumpkin butter, or tahini.

I also wanted to try out Harmonic Arts new Divine Feminine Herbal Tonic Blend so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. With a rich amount of adaptogens and hormone regulators, the Divine feminine Blend is an opportunity to reset your body and create balance within the many cycles and systems of your body.

energyballss

As each person has different needs, the addition of this blend is not a required element of the Walnut Brownie Energy Ball recipe. If you are breastfeeding, you may be interested in adding Brewer’s Yeast to turn these into lactation energy balls, or maca if you want to stick to one herb.

energyballs

The key to a good energy ball is making something that is tasty, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Try exploring with this recipe as a guideline and create something that you’ll want to make again!

Walnut Brownie Energy Balls
½ cup chopped and soaked dates
¼ cup nut butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup hemp hearts
¼ cup coconut flakes
1 tsp Harmonic Arts Divine Feminine Blend *if desired
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

*¼ cup chocolate chips if desired
* 1-2 tbsp sweetener like honey or maple syrup if desired

Using a hand emulsifier, pulse dates and nut butter together until smooth (If using a food processor, pulse walnuts until they are a desired consistency first and remove. Continue to use food processor on pulse setting as to not over-mix the batter once all ingredients are added).

Add in remaining ingredients and fold together using a spatula. Taste batter and add sweetener if desired.

Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls using the palms of your hand. Roll in coconut or hemp flakes if desired.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze.

 

With Love, From Ficus.

http://www.ficusdoula.com

 

 

Spiced Lentil Muffins

                I have been obsessing over muffins lately. Muffins for breakfast, muffins for lunch, muffins for dinner. It’s not exactly the healthiest convenience food but I have been searching for alternatives to kick some of the higher-refined food recipes out the door. This recipe originally comes from Our Fresh Kitchen and it easy to follow and even easier to eat. The recipe is forgiving and can be altered depending on your flavour profile. Try hazelnut chocolate chip, apple black currant, pear cardamom, trail mix. You name it! I really stuff these full of crunchy bits and share them with my families.. when they make it out the door. Give it a try, let me know what you think!

Spiced Lentil Muffins.

Ingredients

¾ cup split red lentils, dried
1½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
dash of nutmeg and clove
1 tsp grated citrus peel

Wet Ingredients

¼ cup chia seeds
⅔ cup water or juice
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup coconut sugar
⅓ cup coconut oil
½ chopped dried fruit or nuts
1 cubed apple/pear or fruit of choice

Dry Ingredients

¾ cup flour (can use gluten free flour like quinoa)
½ cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin pans by lining or greasing them with coconut oil.
In a medium saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil, then add lentils and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes until water is absorbed.

In a large bowl, combine chia seeds and water, letting them sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture forms a thick gel. In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.

Add cooked lentils and remaining wet ingredients to chia gel and mix well, then add dry ingredients and dates or walnuts. Stir until combined.

Spoon batter into muffin pans and bake at 350F for 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.

Original recipe from Our Fresh Kitchen
http://www.ourfreshkitchen.com/baking/muffins/spiced-lentil-muffins/

The Broad Spectrum of World Breastfeeding Week

We are coming to the end of World Breastfeeding week and I would love to send all the waves of gratitude to all the parents/childcare workers/medical staff who take the time to support other parents while they learn the new cues of their baby. To read into and bond when a baby wants to be fed takes time and effort, so thank you:

Thank you for taking the time to breastfeed.

Thank you for changing your diet to help both your own digestion and your babes.

Thank you for reading the labels before warming the bottle.

Thank you for encouraging skin to skin.

Thank you for asking for a milk donation.

Thank you for increasing your water and caloric intake.

Thank you for taking the time to explore your feelings of defeat and euphoria.

Thank you for allowing your baby to explore solids when they’re ready and still giving them milk.

Thank you for asking for help.

How do you love and support your baby around feedings?

Ways to Support the Newborn Stage

When a baby comes into this world, it is understandable that we want to come over to meet them. We may come over with some flowers or a light snack, or we might come in just to snuggle the newest member of the family and be on our way.

We see our friend or family member in a new way: This beautiful person and their partner(s) have spent a minimum of nine months shifting in and out of incredible periods of growth to nurture that beautiful soul you are holding in your hands.

They’re perfect—they’re soft, their lungs belt out with personality, and they smell like something you wish you could bottle and take home for days where you need extra comfort.
Your loved one shifted from our worldly consciousness into one so deep, rhythmical, and instinctual that their body was able to connect to this tiny new human and bring them before our eyes.
It’s so raw, it’s so beautiful, but it’s exhausting.

Sleep schedules are changing as parent and baby begin to create a routine. Mama is producing milk while healing her wombspace, supportive partners are trying to comfort her and connect with baby while answering phone calls and helping with visitors.
The last thing new parents want to be is a host or housekeeper to the shuffle of visitors coming in and out the door.

So what do I propose? Lend a hand, be your own host!

I understand that each person is different with their level of comfort when it comes to allowing help into their lives (especially when it comes to someone actually touching your dirty laundry) but there is always something you can do to support the home of a new baby.

Below are a list of ideas that you can incorporate into that baby moon period to comfort and ease both parents and baby:

Ask if there is anything you can bring over when you Arrive: A beverage? Toilet paper? A meal? Cat food? They may say no, but it’s the thought that counts.

When you arrive, see if you can do an errand run for them during the week. Maybe a light burnt out in the bathroom or they’re running low on bread for toast. Leaving the house with an infant to jump into a busy store isn’t something a lot of parents wish to do right away. Why not see if you can do it for them or accompany them when they need to do so?

Start a Meal Train: Get a few friends together to schedule meal drop offs for the new household. Bring enough for the current day’s meal, leftovers for the next day and potentially something to freeze.
*when you bring the meal over, take a peek in the fridge to rid it of any items that may have spoiled.

Throw a load of laundry on: You’re coming over for a snuggle with baby? Why not start your visit with doing a load of laundry. Stay long enough to fold it and put it away or ask the next visitor to finish the job for you.
Chores: clean the bathroom, do a load of dishes, bring the garbage to the curb, see if you can run the vacuum through the house. The way time changes when you make the shift from pregnancy to parenthood is incredible, these tasks could help parents focus on the health and growing personality of their new little one.

Remember the animals: Do your loved ones have a dog who might want to come out with you on your morning walk? Does the cat need it’s little box checked? A fish tank that needs cleaning? Oh, they’re exotic with a lizard, right. Maybe you can run out and bring in some crickets or take them home for a week or two. A new baby changes the attention given to our furry (or scaly) friends, remember to love them too!

Remember the other children: It is incredibly important for siblings to learn about the process of birth and infant care not just for the relationship aspect but to see the responsibility that comes along with it. But kids still need to be kids—they need to go to the park and jump around or paint rocks. They might want to go to the grocery store with you just for a change of landscape or have your attention while they bathe so they’re able to make bubble beards for more than 10 minutes. How about driving the older kids to school or taking them on a special date day. It is a shift for everyone!

You’re not comfortable going through someone’s house? See if the parents want to shower while you hold baby! Trust me. Being hands free for a while so parents can walk around the block a few times, make their own meal, or shower will make the world of a difference. Maybe they want to read a book or send some emails, have a phone call that is moderately uninterrupted, run out to grab themselves a coffee or wander the main street for a few minutes.
OR give a little massage, rub some legs or feet while they’re breastfeeding or resting together. Remind them of their beautiful frame and all it has done.

Our friends and loved ones are incredible. They’ve shifted what they know of their current life to nourish a new child. It’s selfless, it’s raw, it’s admirable.

So take a second before you stop by empty handed. Set an intention to support these humans as they venture down an incredible path together and show them your love and support energetically, verbally, and physically. The little things won’t go unnoticed.
With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

Warm Labor Inducing Turmeric Latte

 

So, you’re feeling a bit over-due: you’re blocked up and swollen, aren’t sleeping so well and are running out of patience. Your reading at-home remedies to kick start your labor: spicy foods, stairs, sex, squats, and.. drinking castor oil?

Castor oil has been used to induce labor by stimulating the bowels which in turn, stimulates uterine contractions. If you google “using castor oil to induce labor”, you will get a mix of positive and negative stories.

The positive: using castor oil internally and externally may induce labor if taken in small doses. The body seems to clear out as you approach labor and castor oil will increase the possibility of this. Taken in small doses with lots of water, castor oil may be useful.

The negative: some women will drink too much castor oil in an attempt to induce labor quicker. Taken in larger doses, castor oil may cause diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting and a broad range of discomfort if not taken with care. It can also start a false labor and tire you out so read into your body before you start gulping it down.

So what does a small dose look like?
I am not a medical practitioner so I cannot prescribe what a small dose could be for your body– I would recommend talking with your health care provider about what could be right for you. The thing is, a small dose for one person could be an external belly and back rub with castor oil and a drop or two of essential oils (with sage and lavender if you are full term). A small dose for another could be anything under 1 tablespoon. If you are interested in trying castor oil internally, I recommend trying it in small amounts—say 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon to see how your body reacts (make sure you write down when you’ve taken it along with any other natural induction product).  Remember that you will need to drink a moderate amount of liquid afterwards (try making some labourade or juices—here is a recipe for ideas https://theficusandthedoula.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/bring-on-the-summer-heat/ ) just in case you go into labor.

OR

Try this anti-inflammatory warm labor inducing Turmeric Latte- a blend of warming spices with some coconut milk for creaminess, prunes and honey to sweeten, and castor oil!
(what you can’t see is I am drinking it right now, and it’s delicious!)
turmericlatte

In a pot combine:

1 mug of water (pick your favorite but remember the size will alter the flavor intensity- I aimed for around 12-16 oz mug)
1 ½ tablespoons turmeric powder
up to 1 tablespoon of castor oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon grated ginger
a dash of chili powder, cinnamon and nutmeg
3 prunes

Bring all ingredients to a boil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes to plump the prunes. Add all ingredients into a vitamix or a blender and add in:

a “glug glug” of milk
honey to sweeten if desired

Blend for a few minutes until the prunes are broken up. Transfer to a mug and enjoy!

So what do you think? What have you used to naturally induce at home? I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

Apgar Scores– What do they mean?

You’re in the waves immediately following the birth of your baby when your care provider says “Apgar score is __.”

In this moment, it’s just another number with a label. Your baby is taking it’s first breaths followed by that beautiful first cry. How did you create something so beautiful? Your baby is so small, so perfectly small with tiny hands that are going to change the world, those hands have already changed your world and you’re just seeing them for the first time.

A nurse looks at a timer again, viewing your baby. Your partner is confused, you’re feeling a bit confused as to why they’re grading your baby.
And then it happens again. “Apgar score is __”

A lot of parents don’t hear the term “Apgar score” until they are in the delivery room.

The Apgar test is a test done by physicians very shortly after birth to see if your baby may need assistance adjusting to their new life outside the womb. Invented by Virginia Apgar, the test is done once at one minute after birth and again at five minutes after birth to assess the babies:

– heart rate
– breathing
– muscle tone
– reflex response
– colour

Each category is judged on a scale from 0-2 and then added up to give baby an overall score out of 10. This score may help physicians see if your baby needs a vigorous rub while doing skin to skin to help oxygen flow or a bit of help removing fluids from their air passage.

apgarchart
( provided from link http://www.parentresourcenetwork.org/care-given-to-the-baby-at-birth/)

The apgar test is not used to create stress for new parents, but may sound a bit sharp while you’re dancing through the first moments of becoming a new family. If your pregnancy has been labelled high risk, you’ve delivered prematurely, or your birth held traumas you didn’t expect, your apgar score will help guide your health care professionals to provide you with the best options for the health of your baby.

Most babies score above 7 and progress towards a higher number. The goal of this test is to see how baby adapts to life immediately outside the womb and if there is anything we can do as parents, doulas, or practitioners to ensure both you and your baby get as much healthy time together as possible.

If the idea of an apgar test stresses you out, please remember a beautiful, healthy baby isn’t created from a number but the love they received during pregnancy and continue to receive as you bloom into an empowered family. Those little toes, little hands, and giant heart will always be a 10.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

A doula diary with tips, tricks, recipes and comfort surrounding pregnancy and child birth.