Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Author: Varsha (Page 1 of 12)

3 Best Gluten Free Breakfast Breads

Gluten free breakfast breads have been a huge hit in our house over the last few months. I like that these loafs are all super easy to whip up and incredibly delicious to eat. I usually take a slice or two into the office and eat breakfast in complete peace there (sans baby) :-). My preferred brand of flour is Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour. It has worked for me every time. I order it in bulk on Amazon now, that’s how much we use it. After trying a dozen or so recipes, here are our 3 best gluten free breakfast breads:

  • Gluten free banana bread. I substitute the sugar for just under a cup of honey. Works great. You can also add more applesauce instead of oil and make this even healthier. Chocolate chips are usually added per the hubs’ request.
  • Gluten free chocolate zucchini bread. To make this gluten-free, simply substitute the flour for gluten free flour. If you want an even healthier version of this, substitute the oil with apple sauce and the sugar with a cup of honey (just one, not two).
  • Gluten free sweet potato bread. Anil liked this a lot. I made two loafs and he never got tired of eating it for breakfast. The only thing you might want to substitute here is the butter. Add some applesauce instead. However, not a ton of butter is used in this recipe, so you decide if it’s worth it!

Needless to say, we’re really not missing our regular flour. The main benefit to me is that going gluten free makes these loafs much lighter and makes them healthier overall. You can’t lose. Let me know what your favorites are! I’m signing off and heading over to Pinterest for more gluten free ideas. Check out my gluten free goodies board over there!

glutenfreebread

 

5 Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mom

When Dilan was born, I was disappointed. My goal from day one was to breastfeed. Guess what his very first meal was? Formula! Ugh, poison, I thought. I did not have a choice. My all-natural labor took a toll on my body and I had to be knocked out (put under anesthesia) for surgery. I did not even get to see him take his first bath. He was born at 6:50 PM and remained in the nursery that first night since I was unable to breastfeed him while in surgery and with medicine still in my system. I know,  sounds like a big first world problem and I’m lucky enough to have top quality medical care in the first place, but it was still a huge disappointment for me.

breast milkFast forward almost 8.5 months later and I’m still pretty happily nursing. I nurse twice a day and pump once at work. I’ve definitely ramped things down since it’s really hard to pump frequently at work (in my job, no one is going to move a meeting just because you have to pump for the 50,000th time) and my  low supply is probably not worth the extra pumping sessions. The end is definitely in sight. I could easily look at this as “giving up”. After all, there are many moms who breastfeed for one, two, heck, even three years. But instead, I’m looking at it as a giant accomplishment. I’ve done what I could and to this day, have given Dilan almost every drop of milk I can. If I could talk to my past self, I would have given myself these 5 breastfeeding tips:

1. It’s ok to give yourself a break. Pumping after every nursing session sounds great, but just breastfeeding every 2-3 hours alone (or on demand) will help your supply in the first 6 weeks. Don’t go nuts trying to build up “a stash” for when you return to work. It goes fast. Just do what you can without killing yourself. I had my mom around for only 8 days after I gave birth. It was impossible to pump while Dilan was awake and no one else was around to help. Just the way it was / is.

2. Keep things consistent. On the other hand, you don’t want to skip TOO many nursing or pumping sessions because your supply WILL drop if you don’t keep things fairly consistent. Skipping a few here or there is ok, but being disciplined and trying to establish a schedule early on is key.

3. Supplementing with formula is not the end of the world. Formula is NOT poison, I promise. We had to start supplementing around 5 months since Dilan needed an extra bottle a day (the boy likes to EAT) that I simply could not provide. I was never the girl with the freezer full of milk. I’m still not. I just pump for the next day’s bottles and sometimes, not even enough for that. It worked out just fine. We tried a few types of formula and settled on the one brand he reacted best to.

4. A great network is key. I could not have kept this up without multiple Facebook messages and emails of encouragement, tips, and of course the many baby blogs that I read during 3 AM feedings. Finding friends and family who will encourage and not judge you is both essential and wonderful.

5. You have the RIGHT to nurse and pump. This one especially applies to working moms. I am lucky enough to have an office that I can pump in. I blocked out the window with printing paper and have a giant DO NOT DISTURB sign taped to my door once a day now. Even if you don’t have this, you have the right to ask your employer for a reasonable solution. After a while, people might get annoyed with you being unavailable for a small period of time, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely stop.

My current goal is to keep pumping until July 4th. It will be one heck of an Independence Day! I hope to continue to nurse Dilan in the mornings and evenings after that, but it will all depend on how well my supply holds up. It may or may not be possible. Regardless, I hope these 5 breastfeeding tips for the working mom help some of you exhausted new moms out there. You’re doing something absolutely wonderful for your child. Don’t ever forget that. I’m glad people told me this when I was that exhausted new mom just a few months ago.

I can’t say I’m not looking forward to being done with pumping, but I know I will definitely miss the nursing. It’s bonding time for me and Dils. That, and time for him to check out every detail of whatever room we’re in. It’s been a fun journey, one that only comes around once. The best advice I have for my (future ?) self and all you other new moms out there is: while you deal with the inevitable disappointment, exhaustion, or whatever emotion comes your way, don’t forget the most important thing of all: to enjoy the ride.

 

White Noise

So you’re either sharing a room with your infant or have him/her right down the hall in the nursery, but are still tip-toeing around the house? I don’t think there are too many parents that can’t relate to that. We certainly can. Dilan has been a light sleeper since he was born and hasn’t been a stranger to waking up every 2 to 3 hours until he was about 5 months. In addition to the various sleep training techniques and methods that we used (more about this later) to get him to sleep better, we decided to introduce white noise fairly early on.

The first time we tried this, it was absolute magic. White noise completely calmed Dilan down and put him in a state of sleepiness that every parent dreams of. We used a free iPhone app called Noise Box in the beginning. If all else fails, I highly encourage you to try the waterfall sound in this app. It even oscillates if you want it to. Pure magic….but then: We made rookie parent mistake #237: we turned the white noise off. We got Dilan to a sleepy state through white noise and rocking and although we love him more than the best chocolate fudge brownie you’ve ever had, we weren’t going to keep either of our iPhones just sitting next to the crib! Maybe for 30 or 45 mins max, but certainly not the whole night. BIG MISTAKE. Through trial & error, we learned the following about using white noise:

  • Keep it on the whole night. It not only draws out your everyday household noises, but it also helps when babies wake up (and they wake up briefly many, many times throughout the night, way more than you realize) and realize that they’re in the same, comfortable, and safe environment.
  • Keep it LOUD. Either turn it up all the way, or at least 3/4 of the way. We learned this lesson when we tried turning down the volume of the white noise two weeks ago. Dilan woke up 1 to 3 times almost every night until daddy finally decided to turn it up a bit louder again yesterday. BOOM! Eleven hours of glorious sleep for Dilan (and about 6 or 7 for us).
  • Get a reliable and portable white noise machine. We love this one. Its portable and small enough to take on trips and loud enough for the nursery. The sound is pleasant and not too harsh. Available via Prime shipping on Amazon. NO BRAINER.

If you’re concerned about any adverse effects of white noise on your baby, rest assured that it is very unlikely that it will affect his / her hearing. Check with your pediatrician to be sure, of course, but we sure haven’t experienced anything unfavorable. We’re planning to wean Dilan from white noise when he seems to be ready for it. Right now, we’re going to enjoy our glorious 6 or 7 hours of sleep.

 

Our 6 Month Milestones

We’re here! Right at six months. Still on our feet. Ok, fine, mommy is about two weeks late with the 6 month milestones post because she’s been swamped at work while keeping the rest of the plates at home spinning. Daddy? Ditto. And Dilan? Here’s how he’s doing:

State of the Dilan

Dilan has turned into a super smiley and very strong-willed 6 month old. He literally smiles the entire day, unless he wants something or someone needs to get out of his face. Doesn’t happen very often.  99% of the time he cries or fusses because he simply wants food or sleep or is bored. Speaking of food, we started solids! Here’s what he’s had so far:

  • Veggies: organic avocados, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green peas, and carrots
  • Fruits: organic bananas, pears, and peaches
  • Cereal: organic rice and oat

He definitely enjoys the veggies more. Doesn’t seem to care too much for the sweet stuff. This makes a ton of sense to me since I’ve lost my sweet tooth myself! Ever since pregnancy, the only sweet treats I still enjoy are those with a salty element to them or dark chocolate. Hard to find a girl who will give up chocolate, right?

Dilan is not quite sitting up yet, but he does roll over from front to back and back to front. He combines vowels and consonants into mini-phrases such as “ba” as well. He seems to have a preference for simple toys, instead of the loud and flashy ones. I’m ok with that :-). On the sleep front, we are a 2 oz bottle and some random fussing away from sleeping through the night. I promise you that there is no baby or even owl you know who has had a more difficult time with sleeping at night. We spent tons of hours on sleep research and training. Plenty of  “$%&! when is this going to end?!” moments. We worked for every minute of sleep we get. I can go on for ages on this topic and have some excellent tips and mistakes to share, so look out for many more posts to come on this soon!

Physically, Dilan has gotten chubbier. He’s always been pretty tall, but he’s growing horizontally now too. Sounds like mama pretty much all of last year. Here are his physical 6 month milestones:

  • Height: 27.5 inches, 79th percentile
  • Weight: 17 lbs, 50th percentile
  • Head size: 17.32 inches, 75th percentile

Parents tend to get obsessed with these numbers, but unless they drastically fall or increase, I would just shrug them off. Nice to know, but no need to panic and go crazy with comparing your infant to other kids. That’s my advice.

State of the Mommy

I’m definitely doing much better than I was a few months ago! I’ve been swamped at work and still feel exhausted from sleeping 4-5 hours each night, but I’m slowly getting back to where I want to be. I eat a lot of gluten and dairy-free meals – helps a ton with keeping energy levels up and makes me feel much healthier overall. I’ve lost 36 pregnancy pounds and am back in all my original clothes, but want to lose about 4 more. Piece of cake? Well, that’s exactly the problem. I need to get more toned too. Now taking notes for any do-at-your-desk exercises you can think of.

Out of all the 6 month milestones, my biggest one is having reached my goal of breastfeeding for 6 months. I’m so glad I kept it up because those white blood cells make sure that Dilan hardly ever gets sick (knock on wood). I’m still going at it, even though it’s mega tricky with work,  meetings, and all the other million things to do. I’ve battled low supply. And no, eating a ton of fenugreek does not just magically bring it back. More blog posts and tips to come on this as well. I’ve also found time to read! I know, those of you with newborns and multiple kids are really going to HATE me now, but before you get jealous: by reading I mean trying to get through Lean In on my iPhone, while nursing,  picking boogers out of my son’s nose and wearing spit-up stained yoga pants. Glamorous, right?

Overall, I’m happy. Make that elated. Being a new mom, and also a full-time working one, is the toughest job in the world. Even in the first world. Somehow I’m making it happen. House still intact. Marriage still intact (note that I have the wonderful hubs to thank for ALL of this). Happy & HEALTHY family. Crankiness minimized….most days. No complaints! :-)

State of the Daddy

The daddy told me that he’s in a state of shock that 6 months have already gone by. Work is as busy as ever for him too (comes with the package when you’re an entrepreneur, I think), but he’s more driven than ever to get work done during working / waking hours. The brightest part of his day is the time between when he comes home and Dils goes to bed. Sometimes that’s only about 5 minutes, but it’s still the highlight of his day. He’s been traveling quite a bit and feels more rested in some ways. But, Dilan sleeping longer stretches is almost worse because his body is still used to waking up every 2.5 – 3 hours.  So, in some ways he feels even more tired. Weird, right? We’ve never been big coffee or tea drinkers, but do a cup a day now on most days.

When I asked if he’s happy, he said that he couldn’t really ask for more. I had to put in here that he’s proud of my nursing effort and calls me the Dairy Queen. It’s better than calling me a cow, so I’ll take it :-). The one complaint he does have is that he’s trying to figure out when the hell we’ll finish Battlestar Gallactica. We’ve watched maybe a total of 3 shows in the last 6 months. Still a milestone, I think. We’ll finish up the rest when we’re completely back on our feet.

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Spicy Kale Chips

Kale chips are all the rage these days! And why shouldn’t they be? They’re healthy, super delicious and crispy, and don’t take very long to prepare. Anil and I love spicy foods, so instead of the traditional way of preparing these, we decided to add some kick. Kashmiri chili is the perfect addition to these spicy kale chips since it adds a lot of warmth, but not necessarily heat.  I’ve tried many different recipes out there, but had to experiment with the time and oven temperature. This is what I eventually came up with:

Ingredients

A large bunch of organic kale (baby kale works just as well)

Extra virgin olive oil – the best quality you have

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Kashmiri chili (optional) – found at many Asian / Indian grocery stores

spicykalechips1

Directions

1. Thoroughly wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stems. Put on a large, dry, and clean kitchen towel for a few hours, or, if you have a salad spinner, spin away to remove all water.

2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a large bowl, toss the kale with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, cracked black pepper, and Kashmiri chili, if you have it on hand.

4. Place on a large baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If you like the spicy kale chips to be more crispy / crunchy, go with 25 minutes and a slightly more brown color. If you prefer them less crispy, go with 20 minutes and the edges just starting to brown. Serve warm with just about anything, though we recommend a nice, cold beer!

spicykalechips2

Blue Cheese Mashed Sweet Potatoes

You’re probably used to topping sweet potatoes with either nothing or pecans, sugar, butter, maple syrup or tiny marshmallows. Although I love a good sweet potato casserole, I also like some contrast in my food. I love mashed sweet potatoes. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about how you cut up the sweet potatoes (and let’s admit it, it sucks to cut them up, unless you have a ninja style knife) :-). So to add something different to these health gems, I tossed in some blue cheese at the very end. That’s it. Just peel, cut, boil, and mash the potatoes and toss in about 1/4 cup (or more, if you want to be adventurous) of crumbled blue cheese for every two medium sized potatoes. The cheese will slightly melt and the blue cheese mashed sweet potatoes go great with meats or more veggies on the side. Great substitute for your regular dose of mashed potatoes. Let me know if you like them this way or if you plan to run right back to keeping things sweet!

blue cheese mashed potatoes

Lemon Caper Butter Sauce

Did you know that capers are really Mediterranean flower buds? They’ve got a super strong flavor and are usually pretty salty, so a little goes a long way with these guys. The great thing about this lemon caper butter sauce is that you can quickly whip it up and add it to chicken, fish, or even tofu. It goes well with steamed or sauteed veggies as well. Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients

1/2 stick of butter, unsalted

1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons of capers, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon of lemon zest (optional)

 

Directions

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest and slowly simmer for a few minutes. This recipe should give you enough lemon caper butter sauce to drizzle over 3-4 chicken breasts or pieces of  fish or meat. Enjoy with a healthy side to make up for all that butter! 😉

 lemon-caper-butter-sauce

Honey, Lime & Rosemary Purple Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a really easy side dish that I just recently created. Thanks to our local online produce service – check them out at byproduce.com – we were recently introduced to purple sweet potatoes. From the inside, they look similar to beets, but their flavor is subtle and sweet, like you would expect. Here’s what I did with them:

Ingredients (for two to three people)

Two large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Three to four fresh rosemary sprigs, stems removed and finely chopped
Sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in half inch slices and set aside. Mix the honey, lime juice, and olive oil. Toss with the sweet potatoes.

3. Sprinkle everything with salt and the chopped rosemary and put on a baking sheet.

4. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 and enjoy warm!

4.75

We’ve passed 4.75 months! About 4.75 months since Dilan’s birth, that is. While that may seem great, we often wish he was as tiny, light, cute, and quiet as he was when he was born again. But, 4 months does come with its own brand new characteristics and doses of awesome. Sticking with my fondness of numbers and stats, I’m going to describe what 4.75 months is like for us by using numbers. Makes sense, right? Read on to find out more. Oh and Dilan, if you read this post many years from now, know that none of these numbers are fake. It’s all 100% you :-)

95 – Dilan’s current height percentile. He was in 6 month outfits weeks ago and even those are getting tight now. Yep, he’s going to make one heck of a basketball player later. We hope.

3.5 – Average number of hours that we still sleep every night (since his birth). I know you guys are probably tired of me whining about this one!! Yes, it sucks, but you really do get used to it and we’ve gotten pretty darn good at making it through a full work day without having to serve Cheerios for dinner and things piling up too much (ok, laundry is a different story…). Unfortunately, Dilan does not seem to sleep much longer after a warm lavender bath, rice cereal, or a massage. He’s a pretty straightforward guy and doesn’t care about the fluffy stuff. Sleep will come…..right?

132 – Average number of times that Dilan smiles per day. He’s a happy chap. Happy and active. Sometimes a little too active.

9 – Number of all-natural products we’ve tried to treat Dilan’s eczema. Definitely our least favorite stat. We finally visited a dermatologist and got him prescription strength oil for his scalp. He has his wonderful mom to thank for all the little things that are wrong with him – eczema included. But hey, if this is our biggest health worry, then we are pretty darn blessed! I just really hope this is not a food allergy issue. I love my breads and cheeses too much for it to be :-( Gluten and dairy-free meals are becoming a more common occurrence, though. Not a bad move for keeping my energy levels up.

17 – Average number of minutes it takes me to change Dilan from pajamas into daytime clothes every morning. I know what you’re thinking – ROOKIE MOM! This is so true. I’m still not getting used to him knocking over diaper ointment, a towel, and wipes all at the same time while farting, sneezing, kicking limbs in all directions, and grabbing on to mommy’s hair AT THE SAME TIME. True story.

4.75 – Number of months I’ve successfully breastfed. I know this is just a drop in the bucket for some of you, but I never thought I’d make it with our lives being as insane and hectic as they can get. I don’t respond well to the breast pump at all, not even after taking supplements, so this is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments ever. I couldn’t have done it without loads of support from my female mama buds. And, I have to thank my wonderful hubs for this one, too. He’s always kept me going, even after I swore I was done on days when all I could pump was 2 ounces. The hubs never worried, even when I was close to being in tears. You are a saint. I hope you know that.

So that’s about it, in a nutshell. See, Dilan, that wasn’t so bad? I didn’t even mention poopy diapers! You are the biggest blessing and bundle of joy in our lives right now. I hope you know that.

 

693 Diapers Later

I really dislike the term “working mother”. I’ve always thought that every mother is a working one and over the last three months I’ve had a chance to actually experience this. It’s been absolutely amazing, but I do have a life and career outside of the house as well and it’s calling now. Although I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much over the last three months, it’s important to remember that nursing around the clock, doing laundry, constantly cleaning, cooking, and changing diapers aren’t just things you “just do”, as I often file them under. They are all just as impressive as just about anyone’s career outside of the house. So as I nervously return to work full-time and try to balance both the housewife and business / co-bringing-home-the-bacon side of me, I thought it would be fun to celebrate and list out both Anil’s and my accomplishments over these last three months. I realize that these can be pretty embarrassing for Dilan, but he should be much more worried about the pictures and video stash that we have saved up for his wedding in 20 to 30 years. Sorry, buddy. Here it goes:

Diaper count: 693, 256 dirty and 594 wet
Nursing: 265 hours and 4 minutes, for a total of 975 times
Bottle count (expressed milk): 30, for a total of 64 oz

We tracked all of this from the day Dilan was born using Baby Connect, which you can find in the App Store. It’s an awesome app that has contributed to the little bit of sanity we’ve had these last few months.You can track many more things, including sleep, which we did not track until much later (rookie parent mistake!). You can even track how long you’ve nursed on each side, but I doubt you guys want that much detail. So there you have it. That’s what we’ve been occupied with. In terms of sleep, we’re still waking up every 1.5 to 2 hours (not necessarily to feed every time) and I have yet to sleep longer than a 5 hour stretch, which I have not had in almost 13 weeks. Soooo…wish me luck tomorrow!! 😉

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