$400 Medela breast pump giveaway

Medela Breast Pump Giveaway

Medela recycles and you win! This program encourages Mothers who have finished using their pumps to recycle them through a special program so that Mothers-in-need, with babies in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) have access to a pump to aid in nourishing their infants.

Each pump Medela received through this program supports the donation of new hospital-grade, multi-use breast pump which is then supplied to charity. Specifically women who have newborns in the NICU unit who have moved out of the hospital, and are nearby in an out-care facility to be close to their baby. The goal is to provide Mothers with the same high-quality equipment they used at the hospital during their stay, being one less thing to worry about it, in an already stressful time.

Returning my breast pump

Returning my breast pump

I returned my breast pump this week and it was so easy. All you have to do, is pull your pump apart, recycling with your rubbish provider the tubes and suction cups. Take the actual pump part, and put just that in a box. Keep the carrying bag if you have one. Print your free-postage prepaid slip on the Medela website HERE, and then drop it off to your post office to be on its way to help another Mother in need.

Medela has so far, received 4270 pumps from people like you and me, who have sent them back to be recycled.

I was so happy when I read about this program, as I just could not bear to throw my old breast pump in the rubbish to go into a landfill. Not to mention, this simple act of returning it, and knowing that it is going to help another Mother has put a huge smile on my face.

If you are interested in recycling your pump you can read more HERE.

Otherwise, it is ……

GIVEAWAY TIME

We are giving away a brand new Medela Freestyle Pump worth around $400.
Entries close on August 3rd 2015, and is open to US residents only.
Spread the word, and Good – Luck!

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is hosted by Live Life Naturally and sponsored by Medela. 
You can also follow Willy B Mum on instagram HERE for visuals on other
ways to help make Motherhood that little bit easier.

 

 

Sleeping with the wolves, upstate New York

If you are looking for something unique and different to do with your children in New York, look no further than heading upstate to South Salem, to spend a night camping under the stars, at the New York Wolf Conservation Center. Here, you will be up close and personal with these majestic critically endangered creatures, which is an experience like no other. On top of all of this, It is a wonderful opportunity, to encourage understanding in children of how to live in harmony with nature and animals.

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Last summer, my husband and I took our then 3-year-old Son to camp overnight on a nocturnal adventure with Mexican Gray and Red Wolves, and he loved it! As you can imagine, me being such an animal-lover I was very excited about the opportunity too, and it is something that I highly recommend as a must-do activity in the New York State area.

Sleeping with the Wolves, which promotes wolf conservation by teaching about wolves and their role in our world, is offered from the warmer months of July through October, and fills up fast. The night we were there, I met people who had booked well in advance and had traveled from other countries to be up close with the wolves. Given, they were hardcore wolf fans, however the point is, is that it is a good idea to plan in advance.

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The cost is $285 for a tent which sleeps comfortably 4 people, and this is set up in advance for your arrival. However, you must bring your own bedding. The event starts at 6PM, and you are cordially asked to leave the next morning by 8.30AM. Once you are settled in, you are free to walk the property and view the wolves, from behind a fence! I was under the impression that we would actually get to interact with the wolves, like pet them, however as it was pointed out to me, they are wild animals and the caretakers do try to keep them in as natural as a habitat as they possibly can. Fair enough.

Attachment-1The evening is broken down, into firstly a welcome and educational talk by one of the caretakers, which includes a Q&A time. Food is then served (included in the cost), being pizza and soft drink. If you want healthier food or if you have food restrictions, make sure you bring it in yourself.

A movie is then offered, shown on an outdoor screen about wolves, their history, their beauty and the diminishing lives they live in the United States. I will add here, that this may be upsetting to some, I know for me it was and I had to leave. Given, I feel the struggles of what animals go through on a profound level and I become very upset when faced with the reality of how it really is. Otherwise, the movie was wholeheartedly educational and interesting.

Once that is all done, a camp fire is set up, where you can chat with others, talk to the caregivers and roast marshmallows, or just howl along with the wolves like my little munchkin did! Guests are free to walk around the compound as they please, and attending the activities is by no need mandatory. It is a very mellow setting. If you want to take a walk down one of the paths and just sit watching the wolves this is okay too.

Zephyr (meaning "light or west wind"

Hanging out with Zephyr (meaning “light or west wind”)

Some of the wolves are definitely friendly than others, and seem comfortable to come up close to the fence to say hello, like Alawa who kept giving me kisses through the fence. She is so beautiful.

Others though, keep their distance.

The wolves at the conservation center come from different backgrounds, some were born at the facility, like Zephyr and Alawa. While others, like Atka, arrived from other places. One of the caretakers told me that he has been there almost daily for many years, however there is one wolf in particular who just really does not like him, even though he feeds him. Because of this, he always has to be very careful.

The caretakers that I spoke with at the conservation center, clearly have a love, deep understanding and respect for the wolves, as it should be of course. I just wish more people were educated enough or brave enough, to understand that these animals really mean no intentional harm, and that we can live in harmony with them. There is no need to act out of fear and kill them, which unfortunately happens a lot in this country. We have taken so much from them, how are they meant to survive without a pristine environment as once was?

Attachment-1Being in nature, and hearing the wolves howling so close by is really amazing, especially as you know you are safe and sound behind a fence! We had a really wonderful evening, and it is something that as a family plan we on doing again sometime soon. Surely, my Son has fond memories and is eager to visit with all the wolves again soon. If he had his way, we’d sleep there every night.

The Wolf Conservation Center offers a live web cam of the wolves, so if you cannot make it there personally, this is the next best thing. Check out beautiful the Arctic Gray Wold, Atka HERE. Or, If you want to do more, you can find information HERE on what you can do to help with the preservation of these beautiful creatures.

If you do make it out to Sleeping with the Wolves, do not forget your bug spray. You are going to need it.

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

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You can also find us at www.instagram.com/WillyBMum for more wonderful family-friendly
places to visit in New York State.

Cantaloupe smoothie with tofu, sure why not

Let’s talk tofu – it can be grilled, baked, scrambled, broiled and eaten raw. Tofu also known as Bean Curd, is an adaptable food which is a good plant-based protein source. Additionally it is low in calories, has zero saturated fat, is cholesterol-free and provides minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium. In this article, we are highlighting, a more unique way to consume tofu and thus protein in one’s diet, in smoothies!

How Much Protein Should You Have A Day

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein here in the United States, is a modest 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which translates to multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36. The RDA, is the daily amount of protein one should consume to meet basic nutritional requirements, so the minimum amount to keep you healthy and not the targeted amount you are meant to reach each day. Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, suggests taking it up to twice the RDA of protein  “ is a safe and good range to aim for.”

It is important to remember that protein requirements also vary from person to person, with factors that need to be considered, like your sex, how active you are, and what age you are? Additionally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you will need more protein. Try this online protein calculator to figure out the amount you should be consuming every day. And, if you have a child you can also see what their protein requirements are too.

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Silken Tofu is the tofu of choice when it comes to making smoothies, just as it is a lot smoother and easy to blend up in a more liquid form than harder types of tofu available. Tofu is made from soy beans, specifically by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into blocks.

Try this Smoothie

With summer days officially here in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to start thinking about healthy and delicious treats to help you cool down in the sun. Smoothies are a perfect snack that will keep you full without feeling stuffed. Instead of reaching for protein powders to add to your favorite blended recipe, try tofu instead as the protein additive.

Loved it!The brand that I used is packed with 12 grams of protein in 3 ounces, making tofu the perfect protein addition to any smoothie. Still hesitant to try? Well, to be quite honest, both my 4-year-old and I were both a little-bit-on-the-unsure-side, too. But, we were pleasantly surprised, you could not taste the tofu at all, it was all about the cantaloupe!

Adding tofu to your smoothie is a fantastic way to obtain protein in your diet, especially if you follow a plant-based diet, or are just trying to cut back on eating our precious animals we share this Planet with.

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Cantaloupe and Tofu Smoothie

What You Need, and What To Do

  • 2 cups of fresh chopped cantaloupe
  • 16 ounces of cashew milk
  • 1 scoop of vegan vanilla ice-cream, I used organic Vanilla Island from Coconut Bliss
  • 1/3 of a packet of silken tofu (just over 5 ounces), I used Nasoya organic, non-GMO silken tofu
  • 12 cubes of ice, give or take

 

  • Mix everything in a blender and serve ice-cold

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Low in calories, and high in the powerful anti-oxidant Vitamin A, cantaloupe it is a fresh, colorful and uplifting ingredient to a summer smoothie recipe. But, if cantaloupe is not your thing, be inspired by searching “tofu smoothie recipes” on Pinterest.

Next time, I plan on making it without the ice-cream to make it a little healthier. Honestly, I just wanted to try this idea out first, as tofu in a drink is out of my comfort zone, and I wanted to make sure it was flavored well so I could drink it and not waste it.

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

You can also find us at www.instagram.com/WillyBMum 
for more great plant-based recipes

 

Medela Freestyle Pump Giveaway

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 11.13.02 AMWelcome to the Medela Freestyle Pump Giveaway sponsored by Medela and hosted by The Pistachio Project.

Thankfully recycling has become a pretty common activity in our everyday lives. We recycle at home, we recycle at work, we even have recycling bins on the streets. But what about the bigger items that we no longer need? Take for instance, breast pumps. Besides throwing them in the rubbish bin, what can we do with them once our breastfeeding experience is over?

Introducing Medela Recycles

Medela has heard the voices of us Mothers and taken the initiative to create Medela Recycles. Medela Recycles is a program which takes old breast pumps and uses each one to support the donation of new hospital-grade, multi-use breast pumps for charities. Mothers who have babies who need to stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive-care unit) are given breast pumps while in the hospital but once their time is up, they often move on without a pump. Medela wants to help change that. Medela are giving Mothers one less thing to worry about, during an already stressful time.

Personally I love this idea, I have had my Medela pump sitting in the back of my closest for 3 years now, collecting dust. I just could not throw it away to go into a land fill. I plan on recycling mine to this program as soon as possible.

If you also have a breast pump lying around and want to donate it, you will be happy to know that sending in your used pump to the Medela Recycles program is free. And, it gives you peace of mind that it has been properly recycled as well as knowing that you are helping support other Mothers on their breastfeeding journey.

Want to recycle your old breast pump? Click Here! 

To help promote this amazing program, Medela has graciously offered to giveaway one Medela Freestyle Breast pump!

Introducing Medela Recycles + Medela Freecycle Giveaway

The Freestyle is a compact, lightweight double electric breast pump with a rechargeable battery. Developed with the 2-Phase Expression technology, the Freestyle works more like breastfeeding babies to help you get the most milk.

Open to the US only, ages 18 and up. Ends July 14, 2015 at 11:59pm EST

To enter, use the entry form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This giveaway is hosted by The Pistachio Project and generously sponsored by Medela. The Pistachio Project and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. One winner will be randomly selected using the Rafflecopter random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited.

Have a baker make your Little Ones’ birthday cake this year

That time of the year is here again, your child’s birthday. And, besides pondering on how the last 12 months flew by, you have another celebration to plan. A monumental moment for your Little One is having “Happy Birthday” sung and blowing out the candles on a cake, so as long as you can get that part right, everything else should be smooth sailing. To keep it easy, why not have the birthday cake made and delivered, keeping in mind these helpful pointers.

Vegan-Vanilla-Birthday-Cake

Vegan Vanilla Birthday Cake from The Cake Merchant

There is a time and a place to ask vital questions about a cake you are going to have delivered – and it isn’t at the delivery point five minutes before you are supposed to have the cake in your hands! To keep special occasions from suffering last-minute cake disasters and to keep things sweet for everybody involved, here are some questions you should think about asking before you get a cake delivered.

Dietary Restrictions?
Right from the beginning if you have dietary requirements or restrictions, you should make sure your cake-maker understands exactly what that means. Whether that is gluten-free, dairy-free, using only organic ingredients, all-raw ingredients or limited sugar, it is advisable to have a face to face discussion about it. Speaking from experience, mistakes and accidents happen. If I had a dollar for every waiter who insisted they understood what a vegan diet is, but then brought me out a dish with animal products in my ordered meal to eat, I’d have a million dollars.

Kid Approved Healthier Birthday Cake

Kid Approved Healthier Birthday Cake by Chocolate Covered Katie

Can I get a preview of the cake?
While you can’t see your cake and eat it too, try to get the best preview you can of the cake as soon as the cake has been made and delivery is confirmed. This will save last-minute hassle, alterations, or even disasters like incorrect “Happy Brithday” inscriptions- this happens by the way! For special cakes, your baker should have already given you a sketch of the planned cake in advance? However, to be super organized ask to have a photo sent over as well. In this day and age, and with smart phones, it is a small thing to ask.

Make sure the spelling on the cake is right

Make sure the spelling on the cake is right

When was it baked?
Obviously, you are going to want to have the freshest cake you can, but at the same time, it is common practice to have a cake delivered the night before a big event to minimise hassles on the special day. Ask how soon before delivery the cake was baked to make sure your young guests don’t end up eating stale cake. Alternatively, and dependent on ingredients that will be used to make your child’s birthday cake, you can request that the birthday cake is made a certain time frame out of the actual cake cutting ceremony. For example, cakes with eggs are not going to have as long as a shelf-life as a vegan cake not made with eggs.

Vegan Strawberry Cake from My Vegan Cookbook

Vegan Strawberry Cake from My Vegan Cookbook

When is it going to be delivered, realistically?
For our Australian readers, Cake delivery Sydney wide and in other cities in Australia can be a major hassle when traffic gets in the way – and since a delicate touch is required, cake delivery can be a tricky business even without traffic! Actually, no matter where you live in the world, your baker will need to take into account factors including rush hour and whether the driver is familiar with the delivery area before he can give you a realistic window for when it can be dropped off.

 

Who can I call in case of emergency?
An emergency contact number is an essential thing to have when a lack of cake will ruin the occasion – and while non-delivery is the biggest emergency, there are plenty of other hazards that can arise, so it can be worth your while checking whether an emergency cake repair kit will be on hand.

How much is this all going to cost?
You would be surprised how often bakers prepare a cake and schedule a delivery while question of cost and payment are still up in the air. To make sure no last-minute sourness over price and payment – including extras like delivery or alteration charges – surfaces when you already have too much on your plate, make sure the bill is settled long before your child’s cake is set to be delivered.

Rainbow Surprise Cake by Speed Bump Kitchen

Vegan Rainbow Surprise Cake by Speed Bump Kitchen

What about assembly?
The bigger and more intricate the cake, the more details there are going to be to look after, and this is especially so with custom designed children’s birthday cakes. Avoid, at all costs your child having a meltdown on their special day, by not losing the Lego guy from your Son’s cake, or not losing the sprinkles off your daughter’s pony cake!
As the cake experts say, structuring is key and a badly structured cake is unlikely to get to the party in one piece anyway, but some cakes do require assembly at the scene. Find out if yours is one of them and if some assembly is required, make sure the deliverer won’t require tools and/or space that you are unable to provide.

With these pointers and by being prepared, you can free up some time to focus on other important things, like not looking frazzled when your guests walk through the door!

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

Feel free to follow us at www.instagram.com/WillyBMum 
for more great ideas, 
tips and pointers to help 
make motherhood just that little bit easier!

Plum Print for all your child’s art work

Sometimes ideas come along that are pure genius, and Plum Print is one of them. Plum Print is an extremely easy service to use, which combines all of your child’s art pieces in a beautiful coffee table book to keep for years to come. If you are drowning in your child’s artwork, and you are running out of room on the walls, then Plum Print is going to be like the most amazing thing ever to you!

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After my Son turned 1 year of age, I figured out pretty quickly that we were going to accumulate a lot of art pieces. At first I started tacking them inside our pantry on the walls, and when I ran out of room the art pieces moved to inside cupboard walls, and eventually I just started putting them in a big bag in his closet. I tried throwing some of the art pieces out, you know the ones that were a few scribbles on a piece of paper, but I could not bring myself to do it.

Does this sound familiar. Ah yes, the art struggle is real. It happens to many of us parents out there. What are we going to do with all these creations that our children make?

And, then I found out about Plum Print!

How it Works

  • First you go to the website www.PlumPrint.com and for a $39.99 deposit (which is deducted from the price of your final product), a big box is sent to your door
  • Now this is the hardest part, choose and fill the box with your child’s artwork. You will also add a blurb and a photo here for the introduction to the book, as well as choose a back and front cover. This took me awhile, as I had to gather my Son’s pieces from the various places around our home, and also had to decide which pieces we wanted in the custom art book – decisions decisions!
  • Pack up the box and stick the enclosed prepaid shipping label to pop it back in the mail and return to Plum Print
I started with this!

I started with this!

  •  Once the Plum Print design team receive your box, you will be sent an email to let you know that it is safe and sound. At this time, the company will suggest what size book will work best, in relation to the amount of art pieces you sent, as well as other options to customize. You can choose either a soft cover or hard cover, add captions, order more than one book, and decide whether you want the original artwork returned to you, or not
  • Not too long after that, Plum Print will email you a link to a proof of the book for you to approve or make changes too. See below.

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  • Once all that is organized, all you have to do is wait for your book to excitedly arrive on your doorstep – too easy!
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Very happy with the cover we chose, being my Son’s imprint of his feet

I am very impressed with our custom art book, it is beautifully made, and Master 4 is so proud of it. In actual fact, everybody who has looked at his book, is captivated! And, of course now we want to have additional copies made for both set of Grandparents. Graciously, Plum Print offer 50% off the price for all duplicate books.

Thinking outside of the box, my husband plans on gathering all of his artwork from when he was a child and having it made into a book too. Yes, this is not just for Little Ones, Dads can get in on the action too.

We are a BIG fan of Plum Print, for a few different reasons. Besides producing an impressive keepsake of my Son’s life, this is also because of how easy and streamlined the process was. Being a Mother is constant with never enough time in the day, and honestly if this process was not as straightforward, I do not think we would have such a lovely memento of my Son’s artwork.

** Using code SUMMERFUN you will receive 10% off all orders placed before July 4th

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

Feel free to follow us at www.instagram.com/WillyBMum for more great ideas to help 
make motherhood just that little bit easier!

 

8 baby shower gifts (under $60) for the eco-friendly mum-to-be

Deciding on a baby shower gift can be challenging, especially if you do not have a lot of  money to spend. It is nice to remember that thoughtful gifts, will surely be more appreciated than spending additional money on something a Mother may not use.

Think Green, with our 8 baby shower gift ideas, all priced under $60 USD. If you are looking to spend a little more money, you can always mix and match and make a baby hamper instead.

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556256_406757729368197_1138574861_n11My First Cuddle Plush Toys
RRP $22 USD
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green –  All of the Greenpoint Brands soft toys are BPA, PVC, Lead and Phthalates free, and are made from child-friendly cotton. This means, cotton not sprayed with harmful pesticides, and with exposure to these chemicals killing thousands of people in developing countries a year, this is not something to shy away from. Little ones explore shapes, textures and tastes by putting things in their mouths, so providing safe toys is incredibly thoughtful on your part. Not to mention, they are adorable! My Son, loved these toys when he was a baby, Victoria the Bunny was his favorite.

Teething Bling Donut Shaped Pendant Necklace
RRP $20 USD
Buy HEREVanilla_Bean_Scented_Pendant-300x300
Keeping it Green – This Teething Bling pendant is a helpful gift which is made from a food-safe, phthalate-free, and federally approved silicone, designed for a Mother to wear as a necklace to sooth a teething baby. Generally, a baby will start showing teeth around 4-7 months of age. However, on the rare occasion a baby may be born with a tooth! And, on the other end of that, as with my Son, a baby may not start showing till a lot later on. Personally, I always had one of these around my neck when my Son was teething, they really work!

Sesame Street Reusable Bags
RRP $45
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green – Single use plastic bags, even the recyclable ones, are clogging our water ways, and killing millions of innocent wildlife every year, and that is just to start! However, with more and more people becoming aware, hopefully, one day soon they will be a thing of the past – fingers crossed. In the meantime, a Mother on-the-go can never have enough bags, with all the “stuff” we have to cart to and fro, and we love these child-approved Sesame Street themed pack of 5 pack reusable bags.

Cookie Monster
Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel

RRP about $18
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green – Not only is making baby food more economical than buying commercial brands, one can be assured that their baby is eating only the freshest and organic ingredients. And, let’s not even get into all the package-waste that commercial foods come are sold in!
With a newborn, there are going to be many moments when a Mother will be waiting for the baby to wake, or waiting to feed the baby etc., and this book will be an inspiring read while preparing for a baby’s first meal. Full of helpful information, it is sure to please with quick and easy recipes for healthy and happy meals.

top100babypurees-us-530x567-top

il_570xN.667229557_afc6Organic Reusable Baby Wipes
RRP $34
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green – Disposable wipes, even if a brand claims to be eco-friendly unfortunately, are not. Many “green companies” use the  controversial chemical polysorbate 20 as an ingredient, and once you do a little research you may change your mind about encouraging such use on a newborn’s untainted skin. Give these beautiful reusable wipes from Etsy designer Curly Monkey instead, and really get the baby shower conversation going about the steps we can all take to live a kinder life on our precious Planet.

Starstruck Organic Swaddle
RRP $26 USD.
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green – Okay, maybe we are bias also being Australian, but Aden + Anais surely have the most beautifully designed and soft swaddle blankets out there. We chose this one as it is made from 100% organic cotton muslin. Once baby is not a little baby anymore, they also double as a perfect bathing suit cover-up by the water. 5 years later since having my little boy, I live in mine at the beach and pool during the warmer months. Love them!

Wearing one of my Son's Aden + Anais swaddles at the bean

Wearing one of my Son’s Aden + Anais swaddles

Newborn Cloth Diaper Bundlecloth diapers
RRP about $58 USD
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green – Unfortunately mainstream disposable diapers are NOT biodegradable, which means that they sit in landfills forever. And, with it said that an average little human can use up to 6,500+ diapers before they are potty trained, this is a genuine concern for an eco-friendly Mother.
These cloth and reusable diapers are designed for a newborn, and are a perfect introduction to the world of diapering the “green” way.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 5.49.42 PMUnscented Body Cream
RRP $19 USD
Buy HERE
Keeping it Green – Forward-thinking Nine Naturals make plant-based personal products which are smart and safe for moms and moms-to-be. Besides this decadent body cream, they craft their products using only natural and organic ingredients, which include shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, deodorant, body wash, sunscreen and lip balm.

We hope you enjoyed and are inspired to buy eco-friendly baby shower gifts in the future, small steps will manifest into big change, and together we call all work towards living a more sustainable life here on Mother Earth. Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

For more eco-friendly ideas we'd be tickled pink if you also followed us on instagram. 
You can find us at www.instagram.com/WillyBMum

Rice Noodles with Shallots and Garlic

If you are entertaining the idea of changing to a plant-based diet, but not quite ready to go 100% vegan yet, the book Everyday Vegetarian: 365 Days of Healthy Recipes is a wonderful resource to start out with. And, even if you are already following a vegan diet, this book has simple and nutritious diary-free recipes to inspire you to create a new dish, or a new take on an old dish.

11425486_836310473112835_2526933421710912207_nThankfully, for our environment and for our precious animals, an increasing number of people are turning to vegetarianism or veganism, embracing either lifestyle for all kinds of reasons. Surely, there are many health benefits to eating just a diet rich in fruit and vegetables; increased energy levels, lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, longer life expectancy, clear skin, stronger hair, lower cancer risks and low cholesterol levels. If you are so inclined, you can read more HERE.

However, it is not always easy creating something delicious and nutritious to eat, when you start out on this journey. I understand, growing up in Australia, I traditionally ate “1 meat and 3 vegetable” meals most nights for dinner, and because of this it was really hard when I first converted to vegetarianism 18 years ago. For the most part, I ate a lot of processed carbohydrates because I did not know any better. However, fast forward to 2015, a few years into my new vegan way of life and I am in a way healthier place. Why?

I have my overflowing bookshelves of cookbooks to thank for a lot of it. They have been an eye-opening and educational resource. Take for example one of my favorite breakfast dishes – sautéed kale. Before, I always made it with olive oil and garlic, however now, after spending some time reading Everyday Vegetarian, I have added a fennel seed and ginger variety to my family’s menu, and it is delicious.

Everyday Vegetarian provides you with an entire year’s worth of tasty and healthy recipes. Divided by season, the recipes and suggestions within each chapter are focused on using fresh seasonal produce, that said, this book is a perfect foodie-accessory to accompany you to the Farmer’s Market next time. From kale to asparagus to this simple rice noodle dish, you can make the most of nature’s prime ingredients all year round.

Rice Noodles with Shallots and Garlic

Rice Noodles with Shallots and Garlic

What You Need (Serves 4)

  • ½ pound dried fine rice noodles
  • 4 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

What To Do

  • Soak the noodles in cold water for 20 minutes, then transfer to a colander to drain
  • Peel and slice the shallots and the garlic
  • Mix the sugar, mirin and soy sauce together in a small bowl with a tablespoon of water
  • Warm the oil in a wok and sauté the shallots and garlic for a minutes, stirring constantly
  • Add the soy sauce mixture and the noodles, and stir-fry for about three minutes, until the dish is heated through
  • Season with freshly ground black pepper

Rice noodles are popular in the cuisine of Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and are generally only lightly cooked to retain a slightly chewy texture. Remember to check food labels if you want a vegan variety, as some noodles contain egg and thus are not suitable.

Mirin has a distinctive sweet-sour flavor and is easy to find in supermarkets and speciality food stores. If you cannot find Mirin, you can achieve good results with a splash of sweet sherry, or apple cider vinegar that has been sweetened with a little sugar.

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum, we hope you enjoy this recipe.

Everyday VegetarianExcerpted from Jane Hughes book – Everyday Vegetarian; 365 Days of Healthy Recipes, by St. Martin’s Griffin. Jane has been a vegetarian for 25 years. She is the editor of Vegan Life magazine and author of The Vegetarian Travel Guide.  She has been a member of the Vegetarian Society since the 1980s and is currently Secretary of The Guild of Food Writers

 

We would love to see your pictures if you make this at home. Use tag #WillyBMum and
#EverydayVegetarian across social media so we can see it. And, we'd be tickled pink 
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The Vegan Banana Bread Special

I came up with this recipe wanting a vegan banana bread to sell at my Son’s school bake sale this week. Additionally, I had my fingers crossed that if Master 4 liked it, I could add it as a new healthy staple on our family menu. Well, I was actually really surprised at how wonderful it turned out! My prototype is delicious, includes nutritious ingredients, is gluten-free, has no added sugar and is quick and easy to make.
When my little boy first tried it he said “Mum, I don’t like it…… (My heart sank) ….. Mum, I LOVE it! (My heart lifted)”. Mum Score; this one is definitely a keeper.

Vegan, sugar free, gluten free banana bread

Vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free banana bread

What You Need

  • 2 tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal mixed in 1/4 cup of simmering water, I used Bob’s Red Mill. This ingredient is used as a replacement to eggs and is also known as “flax eggs”
  • 3 medium-sized, very ripe, brown-skinned, mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup of raw maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg combined
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts chopped finely
  • A dash of vanilla essence
  • 1/4 cup of hemp hearts, I used Manitoba Harvest
  • 1 1/4 cup of flour. I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free homemade wonderful bread mix
Ingredients for vegan banana bread

Ingredients for the banana bread (hemp hearts not shown)

What To Do

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 fahrenheit (176 celsius)
  • Make your “flax eggs” and set them aside to cool for at least 10 minutes
  • Line or oil your loaf tin if needed
  • Next up, you want to mix all the ingredients together really well, I did this just by using a wooden spoon. I firstly, added the maple syrup, and then the flour, with the cinnamon & nutmeg, baking soda and sea salt. Next up the banana, then the ground flaxseed mixture, hemp seeds, walnuts, and lastly the melted coconut oil and vanilla essence. Make sure the coconut oil is entirely melted, as you want it to be evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
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Maple syrup down the bottom, then dry ingredients on top

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Make sure everything is mixed together really well

  • Pour mixture into baking loaf, evenly distributing the mixture with a knife, and then tapping loaf tin on bench to remove air bubbles
  • Place in oven and cook until ready, for me this was around 40 minutes
  • Remove from oven, and when able remove from pan and let cool
  • Cut and serve, or cut and store for school lunches
Vegan Banana Bread out of the oven

Vegan Banana Bread out of the oven

 

This banana bread is even more amazing if served warm, straight out of the oven,  with a little bit of coconut oil on top – just like butter.

Or just plain, as my Son likes it!

 

 

What Is A “Flax Egg”

A “Flax Egg” is basically a substitute to using a chicken’s egg in baking. Besides being a healthy substitute without the fat and cholesterol found in eggs, there is also no chance you are contributing to chicken cruelty. Unfortunately, unless you are buying eggs from a reputable farm, where chickens are out on the land all day, eating insects like they should be, chances are things are not as they seem all-happy-like on the egg cartons!

A “Flax Egg” is made from flaxseed which are small, dark brown or yellow seeds power packed with nutrients. They have a nutty butter like flavor, with human consumption dating back thousands of years throughout history.

Consumption is said to help with a variety of health concerns; heart disease, digestion, cardiovascular health, reducing inflation throughout the body, providing energy and improving hair and skin health … among other beneficial reasons to incorporate more of flaxseed into your diet.

A “Flax Egg” is flaxseed that when added with water takes on an egg or gel like consistency.

If you want to read more about this in great depth, the website Vegan Baker really gets into the nitty gritty of it all.

Plant based substitute to eggs - Flax Eggs

Plant based substitute to eggs – Flax Eggs

Besides our apartment smelling so homely and delicious when making this healthy snack, I am happy to report that it was a HUGE hit at the bake sale, it all sold in a New York minute, and I have to wonder if half the people who bought it even knew that it was vegan, without dairy products in it, probably not!

SONY DSC

I just want to add, that I prefer to use organic ingredients when available, as the thought of eating pesticides, herbicides and insecticides on food is very frightening. While not always possible to buy ingredients as organic, even if you can substitute just a few, it will be better for you and all who eats your amazing banana bread!

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum. We hope you enjoy this recipe!

We would love to see your pictures if you make this at home. Use tag #WillyBMum across 
social media so we can see it. And, we'd be tickled pink if you also followed us on 
instagram.
You can find us at www.instagram.com/WillyBMum

How to run a half-marathon with no training

I ran a half marathon last weekend, and I have to say running 13.1 miles or just under 22 kilometers is tough, I have a new-found respect for all the marathon runners in the world. I did not train at all, and although I am not advocating this kind of behavior, I did cross the finish line in a reasonable time, considering. Here are a few things that I pulled out of my back pocket to help me through the experience.

I have been a “runner” for about 20 years and when I say this I mean, I run sporadically, sometimes nearly every day for weeks on end, and other times I will not run for months. I usually run in the 5 mile mark each time, and have run 9 miles twice in my life, and that was 2 years ago. The last time I actually ran, pre-race day, was 2 months ago in Australia.

My last run, before the half marathon, with my Son, nephews and nieces meeting in Australia

My last run, before the half marathon, with my Son, Nephews and Niece meeting me

Running in the snow with my husband

Running in the snow with my husband

About 10 weeks ago, my husband mentioned to me that there was a half-marathon coming up and that we should run it, together. Why not, I thought. I have always dreamed of running the New York City Marathon, so this was kind of the same thing, well at least on my way to it, right? Well, even if I was dreaming on that one, it sure would be nice to create a milestone together, and what a wonderful experience for our 4-year-old Son to watch us accomplish, crossing that finish line. Talk about gold-star role model behavior. So, I went ahead and signed us both up, with the joint expectation that we would start training for it straight away.

However, that 10 weeks passed in a New York Minute and alas that training did not happen!

The week before the race, mild panic set in, especially when the official emails starting coming from the race organizers. I entertained the idea of not running the race, but deep down I knew that I would be really disappointed in myself, so I made a decision to run it with the notion that no matter how long it took, I would cross that finish line.

Here are a few things that helped me during the race –

  • Sleep –  I made absolutely sure I slept 10 hours the night before. I achieved this by taking a natural plant-based melatonin sleep aid, which is a hormone said to help regulate sleep. You can buy over the counter at any pharmacy here in the USA. There are many vegan options, just make sure you read the labels. I like to take Fast Dissolve Advanced Melatonin – it works!
  • Coffee – I woke up to a double espresso to get me out of bed, 2 hours before the race started.
  • Breakfast – I ate a bland breakfast of quinoa porridge. Protein and Carbs. I was told by an experienced runner to avoid fats and fiber as they may cause digestion issues while running. I also drank a fair amount of water.
  • 30 minutes before – I drank my go-to pre-workout energizer drink from Vega. It tastes great, and provides immediate and lasting energy. I follow a plant-based diet, and Vega provides all kinds of wonderful vegan products to help me be a plant-fueled athlete.
  • Electrolytes – I took Endurolytes Fizz tablets, on the hour before running and during the race. These tablets help keep cramps at bay by replenishing levels of minerals in your body that you otherwise lose through sweating.
  • Energy gel – I took one at the start of the race and one each hour that went by during the race. It was my first time taking these and they actually taste okay. They help raise your sugar levels fast. See HERE, my favorite Espresso of course!
  • Music – I have a running playlist on my iPhone. Although it was beautiful upstate New York where I ran, I just do not think I could have done it without listening to my favorite tunes throughout the race.

Thankfully, the weather was mild for the race, it was raining slightly and there was a nice breeze in the high 50 degree mark. I really cruised to the 10 mile mark, however after that it all went down hill. I developed a strain in my upper leg and I was on and off, walking-stopping-running the last 3 miles. Which is a real shame, as I was running at a great pace.

Attachment-1I crossed the finish line at 2 hours, and 31 minutes, with my little boy there to greet me and to hand me my medal of accomplishment. Running a half marathon was a humbling and a surely elevating experience. I am very proud that I was even able to run, and I really think it is a testament to living an extremely healthy and active life that I was even able to complete it in the first place.

The next one half marathon my husband and I have our eye on (yes, now we want to do another) is for Autumn, so in 3 months. I haven’t signed us up as yet…… before I do that I am going to make sure we both have a clear understanding of our training schedule first, as I would really like to knock at least 20 minutes of my time!

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.