Plant Based Mum Blog

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Recipe of the Quarter - Pumpkin, Lentil and Spinach Lasange

We are well into Winter here in Australia, and my family has been favouring hearty meals to keep us full and warm. For our ‘recipe of the quarter’ we share a Pumpkin, Lentil and Spinach recipe that is sure to keep you nourished. 

Ingredients 

  • Gluten-free lasange sheets (375g packet)

  • 500g Tofutti (or other vegan ricotta cheese substitute)

  • 690g Tomato Passata

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 900g pumpkin, peeled, cut into small cubes

  • 2 x 400g Cans Brown Lentils, rinsed well and drained

  • 120g Baby Spinach, washed well and shredded

  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock

  • Good pinch nutmeg

  • Salt and pepper, to season

Time: 2hrs and 20 minutes

(Note: This recipe makes enough for our family for two nights, plus a little for Mummy Green’s  lunch too!)

Method: 

  • Preheat your oven to 190C and grab out your baking dish, a large bowl and a small bowl to be set aside.

  • In a large fry pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and cook onion until golden brown.

  • Add garlic to fry pan and lightly fry, before adding lentils, pumpkin and stock.

  • Stir in the majority of a jar of passata (setting aside about a cup worth for use later).

  • Cover frypan and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, until the mixture is thick.

  • Once cooked, pour mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool. Once the mixture has cooled down transfer the bowl to the fridge.

  • Mash the Tofutti (or your chosen vegan ricotta cheese substitute) in a small bowl, add nutmeg and season to your liking.

  • Grease your baking tray and add your bottom layer of lasange sheets.

  • Add pumpkin mixture and top with ricotta and more layers of lasange. Repeat until baking tray is full, ensuring your last layer is lasange sheets.

  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked through.

  • Serve and enjoy!

Bon Appètit!  

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Melbourne with Kids - Best Kid Friendly Cafes and Adventures in Melbourne

Melbourne has so much to offer families it’s hard to know where to begin, so let us help you start your journey by sharing some of our top picks for meal time, kid friendly fun activities and adventures. 

Top Picks for Child Friendly, Plant Friendly Cafes in Melbourne (and surrounds):

Top picks for fun family activities in Melbourne (and surrounds):

  • Visit the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

  • Explore the Melbourne Museum

  • Experience the Melbourne Sealife Aquarium

  • Partake in ArtPlay by the Yarra

  • Check out the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

  • Visit the Melbourne Zoo

  • Experience Collingwood Children’s Farm

  • Check out Scienceworks

Top picks for free family adventures in Melbourne:

  • Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens

  • Jog around the tan with the pram

  • Stroll down Anzac Avenue (St Kilda Road)

  • Pay a visit to the Melbourne City Library

  • Walk along St Kilda pier with baby in the carrier

  • Explore Melbourne’s CBD by foot

Top playground picks in Melbourne (and surrounds):

  • Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne

  • Ron Barassi Snr Park on Docklands Drive, Docklands

  • Royal Park Nature Play in Parkville (right near the Royal Children’s Hospital)

  • Middle Park Community Playground on Canterbury Road, Middle Park (Albert Park)

  • McNish Reserve on Court Street in Yarraville

  • Coburg Lake Reserve on Murray Road in Coburg North

  • Skinners Adventure Playground in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne

  • St Kilda Adventure Playground in Neptune Street, St Kilda

Want more cafes to choose from in Melbourne? Read about them here.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy our beautiful city! 

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The Fourth Trimester

My baby boy recently turned three months, and I have cherished this time in our fourth trimester, bonding and getting to know one another. 

The concept of the fourth trimester is no secret. It is a term used by medical professionals and parents alike, and entails the first three months after the birth of your baby. It is an important and almost sacred time to bond with baby, and to nurture your little miracle as they transition from the safety of the womb to the big wide world. 

During this time in particular, baby has a primal instinct to be close to mum. Skin on skin, especially for the first few weeks, is a good way to introduce baby safely to the world - he, or she, can hear the sounds and see the sights all while having the comfort of being close to mummy - and it also helps to build supply, helps mum and baby rest and recover from birth, and keeps mum and baby relaxed through the release of hormones.

As much as the fourth trimester is a time to rest, it is also always nice to venture out into the sunshine and to get some fresh air, even when baby is oh so little. When you are out and about baby will still want to be close to you too. A wrap or a carrier is perfect for this (and is also good for keeping germs at bay when your baby is oh so little!). I personally love going on outdoor adventures with my little ones, and enjoy keeping baby close using my ergo carrier (or you could simply use a homemade babywrap). My baby boy is always so comfortable in the carrier, and often falls asleep for the whole outing as he is soothed by my familiar scent, warmth, voice and presence. 

The fourth trimester is also a time for you to really get to know your baby - and get to know yourself as a mother. A time for you to learn your baby’s unique likes and dislikes - how do they like to be held, do they experience wind and need to be burped often or not, what type of carrier do they enjoy being in (if at all) - the list goes on,...and every baby will have different preferences, as well as every mother having different preferences too. There’s no right and wrong, it’s all down to you and your baby. 

Additionally, the fourth trimester is a time where the whole family can bond, especially in the first weeks home with baby - Dad and baby, and baby and sibling(s) too. It’s great for siblings to have some (supervised) time from the get go to get to know their new brother or sister. 

Lastly, and most importantly, the fourth trimester is about learning to trust your own instinct and experience the amazing role of being a mother. Remember to have confidence in yourself - you are your baby’s mother and no one knows baby better than you!  

Thanks for reading!  

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My Birth Story - Baby Boy

We recently welcomed our second baby, a gorgeous baby boy, into the world! We are thrilled that he is here and that he is happy, healthy and thriving.

While I was pregnant I loved reading birth stories (I did with my first baby too), I found them to be so inspiring - so I thought I would share mine with you. 

Stop reading now if you are squeamish. Also a warning - long blog post ahead! 

I was induced just shy of 39 weeks due to a pregnancy condition called cholestasis of pregnancy/ICP. Obstetric cholestasis is a liver condition occurring in pregnancy, that may cause harm to the baby and increase the risk of complications. I had been diagnosed with this condition in both pregnancies, suffering from severe symptoms with my first baby, but symptoms were no where near as severe with this baby (enough to scare me though). I was so pleased to be induced both times to ensure the safe arrival of my babies.

At The Hospital 

We knew slightly in advance that I would be induced, and after a rough pregnancy (including a ptl scare) the day couldn’t come soon enough - we were so excited to meet our baby boy. I arrived for our pre booked hospital appointment a little after 7am and was shown the room I was going to give birth in - I was beyond happy when it just happened to be birth suite number 4, the same birth suite I had my daughter in!

While waiting for a midwife to arrive I watched tv and had my breakfast delivered, which I gladly enjoyed. They were quite busy at the time I was admitted so the midwife arrived a fair bit later, around 8am. She reviewed my notes with me and hooked me up to the ctg machine to start some monitoring whilst we waited for my obstetrician, who was going to "start the ball rolling" so to speak. All of this was easy, as I knew exactly what to expect given I’d been through the same process with my daughter.

My husband arrived just after 8am too, after dropping off my daughter. We were excited to meet our little guy soon. 

Induction Begins 

My obstetrician entered at about 9am and started me on the artificial prostaglandins and also hooked me up to the juice (pitocin) via a drip - no messing about here, straight onto the big guns! 

I watched a bit more TV and chatted away with my husband in between strolling the room and being monitored via ctg. At this stage contractions were very minor and not a problem at all. Before we knew it, it was lunchtime, so we ate and I had a quick nap.

After my nap the obstetrician reviewed things and the pitocin was increased. At this point I wasn't feeling much but decided to put my TENS machine on and chill out on the birthing ball, which was a nice distraction. The ctg monitoring showed contractions, but not consistent so it was decided to up the pitocin dose again.

At this point I asked for the gas and air machine to be switched on as I knew that given the dose being administered things will be starting very quickly thereafter. The midwife showed my husband where it was and he got it all set up for me, so that it reached me both on the bed and also near the side of the bed where the birthing ball was set up.

On His Way 

Before long my contractions still weren't that bad, but I all of a sudden (TMI warning here) I needed to go to the ladies room. I realized quite quickly that the baby had descended and that it was time to push. Game on! 

The midwife and my obstetrician came back into the room and saw that I was on the side of the bed swaying and now using the gas and air - they knew it was time as I had said to them at the start of the day that I hadn’t used gas and air with my daughter until I was 7cm or so dilated. I sat back on the bed, my husband sitting next to me, and now I could feel the contractions (which was actually a great thing because I did not feel them with my daughter so it made it very difficult to know when to push, and this is also what made me not want any epidural this time).

I felt my first big contraction, let my midwife/obstetrician know and then pushed. Seriously - this stage of labor is like running a marathon: you really use all your strength and it is a primal strength you never knew you had in you. 

The obstetrician saw that baby was posterior (as was my daughter) and needed some help, so I had an episiotomy and she used forceps to assist (honestly, the forceps was the most painful part of it all as I was only on gas and air, but was over so quickly). A few more big pushes and baby's head was delivered, and then in one small final push he was here!!! 

He’s Here! 

He was born in the late afternoon that same day, just after 5.30pm. He let out a cry and it was just the most beautiful sound! The obstetrician placed him on my chest and baby boy and I said hello for the first time. 

We had lots of cuddles while his daddy and I both chatted to him. He was very alert and had perfect Apgar scores, just like his sister did. While I was pushing I had heard another midwife in the room put a call out for my blood type, in case of transfusion, as I had lost a lot of blood during the birth and was close to hemorrhaging - which was a little scary, but I didn't let that get to me as I was too busy enjoying all that newborn goodness.

The midwife let us cuddle for a while before weighing him. He weighed 8 pounds at birth. He was much bigger than what we thought he would be, even the obstetrician was a little surprised! Straight after he was weighed the midwife brought him back over to me for more skin to skin and so that I could feed him. 

We cuddled and fed for quite some time (I think it was maybe an hour, but I honestly lost track of time there) before the midwife popped back, got him dressed and he then had cuddles with daddy while I had a nice shower - honestly one of the best showers of my life! We then made our way to a private room for the night and I travelled in a wheelchair just in case - I guess because of the blood loss. We got settled into our room, baby boy sound asleep in his bassinet. 

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better birth experience.

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