On Formula

Our culture tends to stigmatize moms who decide to formula feed. Often times, moms who decide to formula feed are given the impression that they didn’t try their best. Squishy had a moderate case of jaundice and he simply wouldn’t latch. So, after a month of exclusive pumping and failed latch attempts, I felt somewhat deflated and began formula feeding.

As a mostly vegan mom, I found that there were other challenges aside from societal pressure to formula feeding. A very limited number of formula options available for vegans. My husband and I initially chose the ProSobee Baby Formula because it was technically vegan. We chose our preference for soy formula based on a few trials with others – Similac, Mother’s Best, Baby Only. Mother’s Best, while having the cleanest ingredient list, caused severe constipation for Squishy. Similac was too rich and oily.

The Gentlease Baby Formula, an alternative recommended by fellow first-time mom and sister-in-law, was effective in solving the constipation issue, but a short while later, we found ourselves trapped with a new diarrhea issue. When I consulted with my pediatrician, he mentioned that this is something that is, unfortunately, more common with formula babies. This brings me to my next point. It is very true that breastfeeding may less frequently encounter these gastrointestinal issues. Breastmilk is exclusively formulated for the baby that’s been growing inside the womb. This is why doctors and nurses so strongly encourage breastfeeding. BUT formula isn’t poison – it’s a perfectly safe alternative to meet the growing baby’s nutritional needs and a mom shouldn’t be shamed for making that choice (for whatever reason).

I’ve also heard great things about the Meiji Hohoemi Raku-Raku Cube. My friend from Japan used the cubes to supplement while breastfeeding her daughter. Formulated to mimic actual breast milk, the Hohoemi is easy to digest for babies.

If baby’s inconsistent bowel movements continue to ensue, I will give the hohoemi product a try.

In terms of taste, Squishy doesn’t have a strong preference for any particular one. As you can see from the picture he’s just happy when he’s fed.

Skinny Salad

I recently shared the recipe for a Hearty Postpartum Soup with kidney beans to promote protein and breast milk production. Let’s face it though. A bowl of simmering soup on a scorching hot day? No thanks.

So here’s a light, refreshing salad instead. Just like the soup, it uses a ton of seaweed – perfect for nursing moms and moms who are going through epic hair loss. Not to mention, this salad has an optimal nutrient to calorie ratio, which is perfect for weightloss. Seaweed provides a ton of nutrients: calcium, iron, and iodine. We begin the salad with fresh ingredients.

Cherry Tomatoes
Bean Sprouts
White Onion
Wakame Seaweed
Sesame Seeds
Sesame Oil
Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Sea Salt

Soak the wakame seaweed in a bowl of warm water. While the seaweed is soaking, cut the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and onions into thin slices. Rinse the bean sprouts under cold water, then using my half-boil & half-steam method, cook the sprouts. Rinse the sprouts and seaweed respectively with cool water until the water turns clear. Squeeze out the excess water when done.

Simple Assembly
Assemble the salad in a medium bowl to prevent the salad from spilling over. Add the seaweed, sprouts, onion slices, and tomatoes to the bowl. Add in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of sesame oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Mix together using hands or utensils.

What I love about this salad is that you can easily incorporate or remove ingredients as you wish. Some of my favorite things to include: cucumber, steamed bok choy, mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, kimchi, sprouted tofu. Garnish the salad with the desired amount of sesame seeds. Serve the salad chilled and enjoy with a green juice!

Maternity Style

There isn’t exactly an abundance of stylish maternity wear in the market and often times, pregnant women are subject to wear variations of the same thing: black leggings and baggy t-shirts or boring wrap dresses. When it came to maternity wear, I wanted three things: 1) Anything maternity that’s young and stylish; 2) Something that could be worn in transition as my body changed; 3) Pieces from my existing wardrobe that could serve a dual purpose (..because who really wants to spend all that money on something they’ll barely wear again)

[Above] 8-months pregnant and hiking Griffith Park. I’m wearing a sweater by Demy Lee and maternity shorts & sneakers from Target. [Below] I’m wearing Hatch overalls, a piece that I wore during and after pregnancy. I love Hatch because they are specifically tailored for wearing during and after pregnancy. The sandals are Birkenstock.

[Above] At ‘The Animal Museum‘ in DTLA wearing a smock dress from Target. A cinch-free dress makes a flattering and comfortable option as the body goes through postpartum recovery. Not to mention, as with the overalls, they can accommodate a growing bump. I love this particular dress because its bright color makes up for the otherwise shapeless silhouette.

Other favorite items in my wardrobe included this jacket that helped me fight the cruel winter blizzards in New York and tops from James Perse that kept me warm without the bulkiness/itchiness of wool.

What were some of your go-to outfits during pregnancy? Did you invest in a new wardrobe altogether or weed out a certain few items that could fit your growing belly?

First 5 LA

For today’s post, I wanted to share my experience with a wonderful program called First 5 LA. First 5 LA’s mission is to empower and strengthen families by offering them proper resources to establish a great start for children ages 0-5. The organization works with new families to provide affordable health care and routine in-home visits.

I was introduced to First 5 LA through Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where I delivered my son and where First 5 LA conducted routine visits to first-time moms. The first week home, my Welcome Baby Nurse came to our house to provide a routine checkup for my son.

Here’s a brief overview of the program. FYI, the program’s length varies per case and I was enrolled in a 2-month/3-visit program.

Visit 1. Post-natal check-up & initial baby check-up. I was given a handbook for new moms and combatting postpartum anxiety. Gifts included a Boppy and baby first-aid kit.
Visit 2. Communicating with babyWe were given a small package of books and pamphlets on child health. The case manager also provided options for affordable baby insurance.
Visit 3. Making the home a safe place for the baby. This was our last program visit and we were given a blanket to encourage bedtime reading routines along with a home childproofing kit.

For our follow-up phone conversation, we were referred to a similar program at the University of Southern California, which I’ll definitely be checking out in the upcoming weeks.

Trying Brandless

I hate paying full price for pantry goods. This includes coconut oil, olive oil, and sriracha. And friends who know me will tell you – I’ve done my fair share of grocery store research and dumpster diving in New York (wink, wink).

I first encountered Brandless on TechCrunch where founder Tina Sharkey discussed her vision to disrupt the prepared foods industry. The thing that immediately caught my attention was the fact that every item sold on the site was a flat $3. Her minimal pricing strategy was unconventional, different… impossible?

The looming question in the back of my mind was, how is Brandless able to sell a 10 oz. jar of organic coconut oil for $3. It turns out that by eliminating the “Brand Tax” and offering smaller portions, the impossible is possible.

I placed an order for some of my cooking essentials that needed to be restocked: organic coconut oil, gochujang (aka Korean chili paste, which I couldn’t believe they carried), Grade-A maple syrup, EVOO, and some individually packaged apple sauce. Might I add that Brandless also sells $3 kitchen utensils? I threw in a vegetable peeler just for good measure.

Initial Thoughts My order arrived 3 days later, on-time, and neatly packed into a compact brown box with shatter-proof padding. On an environmental note, what’s with all the excess packaging that these companies use?

If the bright turquoise color or bold Helvetica font doesn’t give it away, Brandless calls themselves the Proctor & Gamble/Unilever for millennials – health conscious, artisanal, yet affordable.

My entire bill for 6 items came out to a total of roughly $20. Cheap… until you add shipping which brings the price to approximately $30 and making each item an average price of $5 – reasonable but not WOW and certainly not impossible. (FYI: a 14 oz. jar of organic coconut oil from Sprouts is $6.99 and a 10 oz. jar of coconut oil from Brandless is $5 – they are essentially the same price if you assume that the quality is comparable).

The Taste The coconut oil was okay but nothing spectacular. The apple sauce was yummy. My favorite, though, had to be the gochujang sauce (traditionally one of the most processed items). The Brandless one didn’t contain any funky emulsifiers and I could pronounce all the ingredients. The taste was clean. My husband was a fan because it wasn’t too spicy.

I drizzled some of the EVOO on the raw vegan soup that I learned to make at Sun Cafe’s basic cooking class. It was the perfect accompaniment. I think Brandless is worth a try and I’m excited to see how they expand their business. I could see a huge advantage if they offer free-shipping or global flat-rate shipping. I do love that the box came straight to my door. New Yorkers who don’t want to carry a sh*t ton of glass jars on the subway? This may be your thing.