Thursday, July 18, 2013

Breastfeeding: What I do to Keep A Healthy Milk Supply

Breastfeeding offers great benefits for baby and mother. Here are some things that I do to keep a healthy milk supply. I also notice a boost in supply while doing these things.


Staying hydrated is important for nursing mothers. Think about it, how is your body going to make and give another person fluids if it doesn't have enough for itself?

Tip: Fill up a giant water bottle and carry it around with you. That way you only have to fill it up maybe twice, depending on how much it holds. My husband fills mine up for me. This is a good husband job.

Breast-milk Boosting Foods

Certain foods really benefit a nursing mother. The ones that I have researched and noticed a boost with are oatmeal, carrots, cashews, other raw nuts and seeds, beans, brown rice, asparagus, and other healthy foods. Basically, the vegan diet. Healthy vegans are the epitome of healthy milk making.

Tip: Healthy instant oatmeals (Rachel Ray makes one), individual pouches of trail mix (Trader Joe's makes them), and portable produce (bananas, apples, carrot sticks, etc.) make healthy eating easier when you are a busy momma.

Continuing Prenatal Vitamins

I continue to take my prenatal vitamins as a back-up or insurance of sorts. For the days when I want to eat Italian ice as a snack instead of granola with almond milk and blueberries.

Tip: Carry a few around in a pill box or zip baggie in your purse for when you are on the go and forget to take your vitamin. Don't just throw them in there, however. Your baby will soon be getting into things and thinking ahead about how to store things safely, is always a good thing.


I notice a huge difference in my milk supply when I rest versus when I can't. Your body has a 24 hour job to do, so rest is key.

Tip: Sleep when the baby sleeps. I would tell people that was easier said than done until I actually started doing it. I get in a safe position for naps and the baby nurses and we sleep at her nap time. She'll latch on and off if she wake up and still wants to eat. However, if you cannot do this safely, I would not recommend doing so. When baby is sleeping in the swing, I also take that opportunity to rest. Even sitting with your feet up and relaxing when you can, is better than nothing.

Milk Making Tea

I love Mother's Milk tea by Traditional Medicinals. What a noticeable difference when I consistently drink the recommended 3- 5 cups per day. Plus, that is an added 3- 5 cups of fluids per day to add to your hydration.

Tip: In the morning, brew 3- 5 cups and keep it in the refrigerator to drink as iced tea throughout the day. I make mine with my Keurig's hot water, so there is always one brewed there at all times and I just go and grab it when I get a chance.

Stay Calm

Staying relaxed and stress-free does wonders for me. When I am relaxed, comfortable, and happy I notice lots of let downs during nursing.

Tip: If you are worried about something, give your lactation consultant, your baby's pediatrician, or the maternity ward at the hospital a call. The hospital where my baby was born offers a 24/7 baby hotline that you can call whenever for whatever. I also really adore my lactation consultants and the baby's doctor office. They have been really helpful if I have a quick question and would like to set my mind at ease, rather than worry about it. I've come to realize that things are often no big deal and nothing to be concerned about, however the support of others is important for any new mom. There is also a free breastfeeding support group at the hospital. I also found mom and baby yoga class to be a great way to bond with baby and other moms, and nursing your baby during class is encouraged. Things like that will help you become comfortable nursing in public so that you will have successful feedings. I can recite my state's breastfeeding laws so in case anyone gives me a hard time I can respond to them in true momma bear fashion. I think confidence helps with all this as well.

I love the feeling while nursing (especially during my baby's first morning feed), having full breasts and seeing excess milk in the corners of her mouth. What a wonderful feeling to no longer worry about milk supply like in the first few days and weeks, right? Staying hydrated and taking good care of myself will ensure that I can breastfeed my little one for as long as she wants to. The longer you breastfeed, the more the benefits percentage increases for you and baby. The risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer also decrease even more the longer you can breastfeed. That is a win win for all of us! And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off. Wishing lots of milky success to my fellow breastfeeding mommas!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Attachment Parenting? Just Me Being Mom.

Before I had my baby, I hadn't ever heard about Attachment Parenting. Apparently, calling it this is a "new thing" these days. I prepared very well for the arrival of my little one. I read lots of books and articles but mostly learned about infant care. I chose to leave most of my actual parenting method to instinct. My instinct told me to nurse my baby on demand, pick her up when she cries, and basically love her with every fiber of my being. I've recently discovered that I have been Attachment Parenting all along and hadn't even realized it.

For me, this is the easiest thing you can possibly do. I guess from what I am reading, this style is not for everyone (maybe because our society lacks patience and compassion?), but it works awesome for us. I actually find that following my instinct as a mother, makes parenting pretty simple. Baby cries, you figure out why, and soothe your baby. If all else fails, breastfeeding fixes everything. It is like magic! Nourishment, hydration, comfort, soothing, bonding, cuddling, love, all in one. Personally, I can't fathom the so called "cry it out" method, if you even want to call that a method, it's arguably child abuse. I say that because scientifically when babies cry their blood pressure rises and they get very stressed out. Then a baby will actually lose hope and withdraw if he or she cries for too long and doesn't get help. That is just sad. Do you really want to instill a lack of hope in your child this early? Also, statistically you are not able to spoil a baby until about 1.5 years old. However, what mother doesn't want to spoil their child with love? Babies are only this age for such a short period of time and all they want is you; you are their everything. So go ahead and pick up your baby for crying out loud (no pun intended)! Your instinct is telling you to. Did you know that a baby's cry is designed to make mom and dad feel unsettled and anxious? It is human survival in order for a baby to be cared for. In fact, a human baby's development is the longest of all mammals. Think about it, babies take a long time to build up the strength to do things like hold up their head and neck, crawl, and walk. Scientifically, human babies should be cared for this way since they are built for it. However, on a purely emotional level, I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with my baby. I don't want to see or hear her cry because I want her to be happy and to feel safe and loved. It is my instinct to care for my baby in a way that makes this time about her. Again, such a short time.

Other cultures have been Attachment Parenting since forever. Why is our society so rigid and strict? Why so much hate on AP from all these Joan-Crawford-types?

Maybe it is just the way that I was raised. But if that is the case, it is more of a motivation to be a loving mother because then your child might grow up to be a loving parent. Around the holidays, my father was sitting with us and talking with us about babies. Basically preparing us for our adventure. He told me and my husband, "Babies mostly sleep the first few weeks or so. Then, they have a crying phase. But you discover that, that is the most beautiful sound in the world, because far too soon you are sitting on your child's couch, in their home, and they are having a baby of their own. They are starting their family." This brought tears to all of our eyes. It also put a lot of things in perspective for me. This time is so precious and brief. Cherish the time with your family. Most days I'm exhausted and running on fumes, however I'm always smiling. I am a happy and blessed momma. How can you not smile to see the face of your baby? If your baby is crying, be grateful that your baby needs you and begin to soothe your baby quickly and lovingly. That little sound is your superhero siren calling. You are truly the entire world to your child. You come to the rescue. In your child's eyes, you are the most wonderful and important person ever. I think Attachment Parenting, or parenting by instinct, keeps it that way. I think in your child's eyes you will always be a hero, because you are not perfect but you try to be. And as long as you try your best, that is perfection.

Mayim Bialik - a voice of Attachment Parenting and author of Beyond the Sling, puts it perfectly, AP is an "umbrella term" its not an all or nothing parenting method.

Love Mayim Bialik! What a rock-star. What she says here just sums it up and is short and sweet but super powerful. I myself personally, can totally relate to her method. People do need to understand that parenting methods are flexible and different for everyone. Everyone does what works best for them and for their lifestyle. I just so happen to be a very go-with-the-flow type of person, so an instinctual parenting method works awesome. I have so much love to give and often think I was born a mother. One of my mother-in-law's, Marilyn, said something that really touched my heart and made my day recently. We were sitting there as I was breastfeeding and we were chatting about babies and motherhood and she said, "You were made for this. For breastfeeding, for motherhood. This is what you were built for and it suits you.". It is nice to find a place where I belong and motherhood just feels right. And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off. Sending big hugs and peek-a-boos your way!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Products I Am Loving

When you are a new mom you need nutritious snacks that are easy, especially if you are a breastfeeding mom because your nutrition is important to your milk supply and energy levels. That's why I wanted to share these newish vegan products that are great on-the-go and fun snacky items that just happen to taste extremely delicious.

Earth Balance has done it again folks! Not only are we hooked on their buttery concoctions, now we are completely addicted to their snacks... And loving it by the way. These cheesy curls, buttery popcorns, and absolutely addicting peanut butter popcorn balls are so darn yummy! I take stuff like this with us in the car to munch on and put the popcorn in little baggies to keep in the diaper bag so that I don't forget to nourish between meals. I can totally see these going into my child's lunch box when she is school age. Great snacks to bring camping, on picnics, to the beach, really anywhere the summer takes you this year. Vegan cheese curls have been longed for, for quite some time now. Bravo, Earth Balance! Glad I had the pleasure to get my hands on these tasty treats. They were delish!

The Clif Bar company has made vegan protein and nutrition bars for a while now. Luna Bars and the mini version have fueled my entire pre-pregnancy and pregnancy (and now my nursing mom needs), and I always love a good Clif Bar, or Blok, or their other vegan products. Right now I'm loving the new Luna Fiber bars! These are 7g of fiber for only around 100 calories! And all of us Ladies who just had babies know the importance of fiber right now to ward off that inevitable constipation that happens after baby arrives. And yes, even if you are vegan and eat all your fruits and veggies, you still get it, it's from hormones, so fiber is amazing right now to help with that situation. The flavor combinations of these bars are awesome. Raspberry and chocolate, peanut butter and strawberry, vanilla and blueberry... Oh my! I love them all and am totally guilty of eating multiple bars in one sitting. Hey, Momma needs her fiber. Ain't no shame in it.

So, have you tried any of these new vegan offerings yet? If not, what are you most excited for?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Easy White Pizza

We were coming home from the baby store and I smelled pizza through the air. I betcha one of the neighbors was cooking a pie on their grill or something. I just had to have pizza after getting a whiff of that! We had a 3 pack of pre-made mini pizza crusts and no pizza sauce, so I decided to make mini white pizzas. These are very similar to how my dad made white pizza, which was always my favorite growing up, however he didn't use the cheddar. You can make this on mini crusts, bigger crusts, on dough, bread, you name it. So here is what I used to make mine. 

  • Crust of your choice
  • Olive oil to oil crust with
  • Slices of "cheddar cheese" - I used Teese by Chicago Soy Dairy and it was amazing!
  • Sliced onion caramelized in a pan with Earth Balance, crushed garlic, sea salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning
  • Vegan Parmesan by Go Veggie/ Galaxy Foods to sprinkle on top 

I cooked this in the toaster oven according to the directions on the pizza crust package. It came out great and was super easy to make! Yum!

What is your favorite kind of pizza to make? What vegan cheese do you use?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Get Rid of that Bloat...Duh, Drink Water!

So, I make this fruity water that I always like to drink when I'm in need of some cleansing or flushing out of my system. It also promotes hydration because if you like what you are drinking, you are more likely to drink the recommended daily amount. A lot of people tell me that they do not drink enough water because they feel that it has a boring taste. Well, this concoction of mine is anything but boring, and you also get some of the antioxidant benefits from the fruit as well.

After delivering my sweet little baby, I drank this along with plain water, and I found that it really helped get rid of the postpartum bloat and fluid retention you get after baby and from receiving IV fluids at the hospital. Also, it is really important during breastfeeding to stay well hydrated. So here is how I make my special citrus water. Enjoy this refreshing beverage!

My Not So Dirty Fruity Citrus Water Recipe

What you will need:

  • A pitcher
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 10 mint leaves
  • (other additional fruits that you might like to add)
  • 8 cups water
  • Muddling tool (optional)
What you will need to do:

Clean your produce well (choose organic, if not be sure to peel your fruit). Place your lemon, orange, cucumber, ginger, and mint in your pitcher. If you choose to use a muddling tool, muddle (mash) together your ingredients so that they release their natural juices and extracts. This does make the water cloudy, so if you are looking for more of a clear water or a nicer presentation, you may not want to muddle. Add the water to the pitcher, cover, and let chill in the refrigerator for a few hours (the longer it's in there, the more potent and strong of a flavor). Sip throughout the day.

I chose these ingredients for their nutritional and antioxidant benefits. When I really want to amp up the antioxidants, I add things like blueberry, raspberry, or pomegranate. Sometimes, I just change up the fruit for a different flavor. Let me know what you think if you try this recipe. It is not sweet or all that Dirty, but it is definitely refreshing!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hello, From BabyVille!

Hello Everyone! I wanted to check in and let you all know that mom, baby, (and dad too) are all well! I am recovering from a c-section. Baby was in a breech position, one that would have made it potentially dangerous for her if we tried to deliver vaginally, therefore we did a planned cesarean and all went well! I didn't even need any pain meds...well, I refused them, I probably could have used them, but as they say, "Mind over Matter".

I am planning my upcoming blog posts for later this week so keep an eye out for them. Right now we are enjoying our little family, nurturing baby, and I am recovering. We are over-the-moon happy and in love with our wonderful baby!

The baby is healthy, happy, and gorgeous! She is thriving on my vegan breast-milk, and I that is working out really well for us. I am eating like a maniac, I actually have a huge appetite even more so than when I was pregnant. I am still taking my vegan prenatal vitamins and I am also drinking Mother's Milk tea, which really has the milk pouring out like mad. Sorry for the details, but if it helps other mothers out there who are breastfeeding, I'm glad I shared. This tea is organic, vegan-friendly, herbal, caffeine-free, kosher, and safe for mom and baby.

Okay Folks, I'm going to get back to my little angel now. Teaser: the next blog post will be my special trick on how to get rid of postpartum bloat. Works like a charm! And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off. Lots of love and sweet baby smiles to you!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make Candy Bird's Nests! Kiddo Friendly!

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. -Chinese Proverb

This recipe is so much fun! This is such a great recipe to make with your kiddos, whether you are a parent, teacher, caregiver, babysitter, or a big kid yourself. There are lots of things that your children can help with, like mixing the nests, molding the bird's nests, spreading the chocolate, and decorating with jelly beans. Just be sure that you let your ingredients cool before you or your child start messing with them with your hands. 

Happy Spring 'Peanut Butter & Chocolate Granola Cereal Bird's Nests'
recipes makes 16 nests

What you will need:

  • 2 cups granola (I used Nutty Steph's Vermont Granola)
  • 2 cups of your favorite cereal (I used Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice & Trader Joe's O's)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (think about texture when choosing cereal and pb, it makes your nests more beautiful)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • splash of almond milk
  • About 80 of your favorite vegan jelly beans, about 1/4 of the bag 
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter, for hand buttering (I used Earth balance. Great for hand buttering!)
  • 1/3 cup measuring cup for molding nests with
  • baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I always use If You Care brand)

What you will need to do:

In a large mixing bowl, combine granola and cereal. In a saucepan on low heat, melt maple syrup and cane sugar until smooth, then add peanut butter. Continue mixing until smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and let sit for a few moments so that your mixture is not too hot to handle. Butter your fingers and hands with the vegan butter. Pour sugary peanut butter mixture into your granola and cereal bowl. Mix and mash with your hands until it seems good enough for forming nests with. Take your 1/3 cup measuring cup and scoop some mixture, indent the middle with your finger, packing down into the cup, then tip cup over in the palm of your hand, placing the indent-side up on your parchment paper. Once you make all of your nests, place in the freezer to set while you melt chocolate chips and almond milk in a saucepan on low heat, making a thick ganache and let it cool for a little bit. Decorate the tops of the nests by spreading chocolate on top with a spoon (when ganache is cool enough to work with), and placing jelly beans on top. Place these in the freezer (or refrigerator for longer) for a moment or two to set, then enjoy! You can also color shredded coconut and place these on a serving dish for a pretty presentation. 

Or you can use shredded brussels sprouts for "grass" like I did!

This is also a great opportunity to talk to your children about nature. You can make this a fun activity about nature. If it is a nice day outside, maybe take your nests, chocolate, and jelly beans outside to decorate them on your deck while you look at birds and nature together. Or you may want to talk to your children about birds and tell them some nature facts like, "There are about 9,865 species of birds alive today.". Or, "The largest bird egg produced is by the Ostrich, and it can measure up to 9 inches long.". You may also want to talk to your children about how birds start their families by laying eggs and caring for their babies in their nests once they grow out of the eggs. Starting this respect and understanding for nature early, makes it easier when your children grow and wonder why you don't eat eggs in your household. You can then refer back to your discussions about animals and their lives. Knowledge is power! Talk with your children and you will be surprised on how they will come to their own conclusions about this. In the end, no one really wants to hurt another living being. If you provide alternatives, eating animal products seems like an odd concept and outside of the norm. Making these fun and yummy bird's nests, offers a great chance to have a thoughtful discussion about nature and possibly observe nature while you are doing so. If you are making and decorating these nests indoors, later on you may want to take some outside with you and enjoy them with your child in the park. These can also be a fun Easter dessert. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chocolate Covered Granola?! Wha, Wha, What???

I absolutely love granola. I'm like a granola freak! Sometimes it is hard to find a good vegan granola since many seem to contain honey or milk products. I also adore chocolate. Cocoa is like nature's way of making your day more awesome. Now imagine, just imagine...chocolate covered granola clusters. I know, in our wildest dreams right? WRONG! Nutty Steph's has made this fantasy a reality. I honestly had never thought about this nutty combination, but now that I know about Nutty Steph's, I can't see how I lived without chocolate covered granola for this long.


Nutty Steph's is a Vermont-based granola company that specialize in handmade treats like granola, trail mix, dried items like fruit, chocolate candy, and their special creation called Magic Chunks.

 Magic Chunks!

Nutty Steph's has their ingredients on the website with their products, so you can see that they offer many vegan options. I love that their granola is sweetened with pure maple syrup and not honey. Pure maple syrup just so happens to be a favorite of mine. Plus, Vermont is known for excellent maple syrup. Their products are handcrafted, which is really neat. They also have a gluten-free selection, so everyone can enjoy these.

I tried the following vegan Nutty Steph's products, and here is what I thought of them:

Magic Chunks in Dark Chocolate flavor: using chocolate grown in protected forests by Ecuadoran farmer cooperatives to cover these granola chunks, the flavors you get are vast and intense! They are 70% cacao and you get nutty notes from the chocolate, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds. You can also detect the beautiful flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. Marvelous to get all of these elements in one scrumptious bite!

Magic Chunks in Chewy Fruit Chocolate flavor (Black Forest): My favorite of the two chunks I've tried. You can really taste the coconut, sun dried bananas, and cherries with every bite. What a lovely combination along with the delicious granola. Amazing and addicting!

Vermont Granola: this is definitely a great granola. The flavor combinations are superb and I loved trying it with almond milk and also over my vegan yogurt. The oats combined with nuts, cinnamon, and maple syrup make this a very special treat. Try not to eat the whole bag in one sitting, I dare you. I have tried a lot of granolas and Nutty Steph's is one of the best.

Blackbird Dark Chocolate with Three Seeds: what an interesting way to experience your candy bar. Seeds in this smooth and buttery (from cocoa butter) chocolate make this a yummy and nutritious treat. And think about it, the antioxidants and omegas you are getting from the cocoa and flax seeds make this a health-worthy indulgence.

Lemon Ginger Pecan Dark Chocolate: if you like zing in your chocolate, this one is for you. Nutty Steph's chocolate is super delicious along with refreshing lemon, spicy ginger, and pecans to balance it all out, which make this a really fun one! I'm definitely a fan.

If you want to get your hands on some Nutty Steph's, they are available on their website and they also have a Flagship store for anyone who is in the Vermont area.

And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off. Hope you have a sweet and nutty day!

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Can't Do Nerdy Without a Pair of Nerds!

Hi Everyone! So I wanted to share Firmoo with you. They are an eyeglasses and sunglasses retailer who specialize in the more current and modern styles. Firmoo is aimed at a young and hip audience, and has an awesome selection of Nerd-style glasses as well. Their aim is to provide fashionable vision-wear for the more frugal crowd. Basically, people who want gorgeous eye-wear but don't want to pay the high price-tag that normally come along with it, would benefit from taking a peak at They offer prescription and non-prescription, so you can choose a pair for function or fashion. They have something for everyone.

 I am wearing the style #SD2249 in Black (C01). Kind of the typical "nerd" style but totally cute, right? These are also available in Tortoise color.

I like that these are great quality and at a fantastic price; can't beat that. These aren't like the cheapo glasses you would pick up at the mall either, these are durable enough for everyday use. It couldn't be easier to get prescription or fashion glasses at such a low price. The only thing I didn't like is that the plain lenses (non-prescription) that I am using get super smudgy, so if you choose to go non-prescription just for fashion, be sure to keep them clean or the smudges can be annoying. They just show up more on plain lenses than they do on prescription ones.

 Firmoo also has a neat program they are running that gets brand new customers a FREE pair of glasses! All you have to pay is shipping, so it is definitely worth it to try them out. You can check out the program here.

Firmoo has tons of different styles to suit every type of personality. I really like their Nerds, which they do a great job with and they frame the face very nicely. A lot of celebrities are wearing this style right now. Check out these pictures of celebs wearing nerd glasses. I bet they cost a fortune and are some crazy-expensive designer brand. I love that you can get the same style from Firmoo for literally cheaper than my mascara costs.

Nerdy, but never nerdy, Johnny Depp.

Chris Brown rocking some Nerds.

The ever fabulous Anne Hathaway wearing a similar style.

Britney's glasses look just like mine! Pair them with ripped jeans and you're a rock-star.

Justin bringing nerdy back.

Jay-Z a grown-up nerd.

Mila Kunis wearing this style.

Look, even Kim Kardashian has em'!

I hope Everyone has a super nerdy day! I will be wearing these to Starbucks. A perfect coffeehouse look. And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off. SEE you later!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weird (but Delicious) Brownies (and NOT the Wacky Tobacky Kind).

I've heard about black bean brownies and I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Out of straight fear of eating black beans in my brownies, I delayed in this exploration. However, I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and I must say this is a very interesting wagon indeed.

I did some research on the interweb and came across some rather odd recipes. Some were no fat, some were no flour, some were even no sugar! How dare they! I finally stumbled upon the recipe on the No Meat Athlete's website, and decided to give it a try. In true Dirty Vegan fashion, I had to put my own Naughty spin on it. I also made these gluten-free, which if you haven't noticed, I have been doing more of. I received requests from vegan and gluten-free readers who wanted to see more GF-friendly content. Needless to say, thank you NMA for giving me the recipe guideline! I only changed a couple of things anyway, so I totally give you the credit. Before your recipe, I wouldn't know the first thing about putting black beans into desserts.

These were delicious! The picture doesn't do them justice whatsoever.

Here is what I did:
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cup vegan cane sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp instant coffee powder (not gonna lie, I just busted open a K-cup)
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup nuts (use whatever nuts you like - walnuts or hazelnuts seem perfect for this)
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed then placed back into can and fill the can with water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water (additionally)

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients (first 8 ingredients) in a large mixing bowl. Puree can of black beans with that new water you added to it. Mix puree with vanilla and that additional cup of water. Mix wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients. Grease a 9x13 inch pan and pour batter into it (batter will be watery, don't worry about it). Bake for about 30 minutes, carefully rotating pan a couple of times during baking. When your brownies are not watery or runny in the middle and they seem to be pulling away from the sides of the pan, they are done. Let cool and then cut into squares and enjoy! These retain heat very well, so when I enjoyed my brownie, I got nice oozy chocolate chips inside. Yum!

Thanks No Meat Athlete! I wouldn't have tried black bean brownies, like ever, if it weren't for your recipe. I'm glad I did, these were surprisingly fantastic!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cannot Live Without, Must-Haves for Pregnancy and Beyond!!!

As I am counting down the days to Baby's arrival, I am reflecting on the past 9 months. Husband and I were chatting about all of the neat things that are available these days. I feel thoroughly blessed to have found pregnancy products that have kept me as comfortable as can be, and possibly kept hubby as sane as can be. Here are the top items that I could not have lived without during pregnancy...

Boppy Total Body Pillow

This was my very first keep-me-comfortable-during-pregnancy purchase. I recommend getting something like this early on in pregnancy. Every trimester comes with discomforts, especially bedtime ones, so something like this will do you wonders during pregnancy and even afterwards. I have two of these. Sometimes I sleep with one in front and one in back, sometimes both in back, sometimes I fold them up for different positions, whatever. I also have brought these in the car for long rides. I feel sorry for the pregnant people who didn't have Boppy pillows.

Be Maternity BeBand & Ingrid and Isabel's Bellaband

This was my very first pregnancy-necessity purchase. Before you are even showing, you are bloated and having trouble fitting into your pants. With these bands, you can unbutton and wear your jeans and this band looks like a camisole underneath your clothing. Be Maternity recommends that you use this during the first, second, and the legendary "fourth trimester". I even used my bands occasionally during the third trimester for those moments when, for lack of a better phrase, my ass was hanging out. This is a great item to use when you want to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes for as far into pregnancy as you can, and for afterwards when you want to start wearing your pre-pregnancy clothes again. They hold up your pants and even allow you to wear your maternity bottoms sooner, when you need the comfort but don't quite fill them out yet. I also used these bands in my second trimester when I felt like my belly needed some support, since you can wear them folded in half, wear them full, or any way you feel comfortable doing so. I have these two brands and like them a lot.

Motherhood Maternity Compression Hosiery

At $7.98 you cannot go wrong! I have so many pairs of these in every color that they offer. I would wear these anytime I would be on my feet a lot, or sitting down more than I'd like to be. I never experience any feet or leg swelling when I wear these; they just work really well for me. My doctor checked my ankles at a visit and was so surprised at how I wasn't swollen. I told her that I swear by my Motherhood Maternity Compression tights. They have all different tights that allow room for your belly and that to me is so comfortable with a nice dress and a pair of ballet flats. I also felt support of my growing belly while wearing these. When not wearing them, if my feet or ankles swell, I put these on and actually see a difference right away. Also, I have washed these many times and have never gotten runs or snags in any of them. Therefore, they can be reused for the next pregnancy. Love these! 

Boppy Pregnancy Wedge

Another one of their fine pillows, the Boppy Pregnancy Wedge is an essential towards the end of the second trimester (or whenever your belly starts to pull and ache while laying on your side) and throughout the entire third. Us pregnant ladies must sleep on our sides, preferably the left, in order to ensure the proper amount of nutrients and oxygen are supplied to our babies. As pregnancy progresses, the uterus and growing baby inside of it puts too much pressure on the major arteries that pump from you to your baby. Therefore, to avoid depriving your baby of anything and to avoid getting dizzy and sick yourself, you should really only sleep on your side and not on your back. As your belly grows, the weight of it pulling and dropping down to the bed, is very uncomfortable. It comes to a point where you will just need something there for support. A regular pillow sort of works, but once you use this wedge, you see how it is perfectly designed for the pregnant body, relieving you of pressure and pain immediately. I also use this for my back as well. I switch sleeping positions throughout the night, and find that when I can prop my belly against my husband's back, and put the wedge pillow behind my back, it creates a nice cradle. Definitely experiment with different methods and positions. I have had really comfortable sleeps during pregnancy; I think these little extras really help.

Medela Sleep Bra & Gilligan and O'Malley's Sleep Bra 2-pack

In the first trimester, the girls will be sore. I cannot picture living without these bras. I used the Medela bras in the beginning for day and night actually. Then I used the Gilligan and O'Malley bras towards the end for sheer comfort. The girls start getting sore again as your body prepares for breastfeeding. I have also packed these in my hospital bag because these will be great for nursing, as they also double as nursing bras. I walk around the house in yoga pants and the Gilligan and O'Malley bras. They are really cute. 

Motherhood Maternity Demi Underwire Nursing Bra & Bra Extenders

During the middle of pregnancy, I used nice Motherhood bras in nude and black (that also look sexy and are super comfortable) and purchased bra extenders so that I could use them as I grew, as well as use them after pregnancy for nursing. The extenders can be taken on and off and adjusted to many different sizes. Always take advantage of products that you can use during pregnancy and afterwards. Any maternity buy that you can find, whether it is clothing or something else, that can do double-duty is so worth it.

Motherhood Maternity Bikini Panties & Bravado Designs Maternity Panties

Motherhood Maternity and Bravado Designs make the most comfortable maternity panties ever! No matter what style you choose whether it is bikini, thong, brief, these are great and you will love them. I don't know how anyone can go without maternity panties. These are great for under the belly and extremely comfortable, as that area tends to get sensitive as it stretches. Both brands make fold over and I love them too. They are super soft in the front and are perfect for if you are having a c-section. Yet another product that you can utilize afterwards. When you are achy and uncomfortable, a great pair of maternity panties feels like paradise. You will want to find the little comforts wherever and whenever you can. And there is nothing more annoying than when you have on horrible underwear. Now that can sometimes be the difference between a mood-swing or no mood-swing. Just in case you don't want to spend the money or your partner is wondering why you need all these things, just be reminded of mood-swing prevention. Keeping mom-to-be comfy and happy is key during this wonderful time.

Oh Baby by Motherhood Maternity Nursing & Maternity Pajama Set

After a long day of carrying around extra weight and growing a person inside of you, there is nothing better than taking a relaxing shower, putting on those glorious maternity panties that we talked about, and slipping into this uber soft pajama set. It comes with three pieces, the pants, a camisole (with clips for nursing), and a robe. During pregnancy you want light-weight and soft pieces to wear, especially at bedtime. Love these pj's, they are so comfy. They are also perfect for your hospital stay, recovering, and nursing.

I purchased all of these products at the following stores: Target, Macy's, Motherhood Maternity, and Babies-R-Us. I've seen them all over the place. I've also seen these items on Amazon. I like going to the stores for stuff like this to ensure everything fits properly. In my experience, I have not been one size during pregnancy and different brands fit me differently. Warning: if you go shopping and are especially tired out, and happen to try on the pj's, you may want to wear them right out of the store. Just sayin'.

Everything else that I have are more like luxuries rather than necessities. However the above items are must-haves for me. Are there or were there any pregnancy items that you totally could not live without?