Date Night

With our newborn around, our outings have been limited to the local Target for occasional diaper runs. But today, my husband and I paid a visit to the Erewhon Market in Venice.

Squishy’s Godmother took me to the market a few weekends ago and I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was. You know one of those stores that persuade you into buying things that you don’t even need and simultaneously make you think, “Thank God I don’t live around here…?” Well, that’s Erewhon – and just FYI, bring cash and leave your credit cards at home. Trust me. Erewhon is a west coast version of Dean and Deluca, but with a health-conscious message.

They carry an array of house-made products (packaged soups, nut butter) as well as artisanal, small-batch products including Zen Bunni chocolates (a personal favorite of mine), Moon Juice pantry goods, and the infamous $25 Coconut Cult non-dairy yogurt. The store isn’t exclusively vegan, but many of the products are tailored for those who are celiac and/or raw vegan. I also love the strategic placement of items like finding $9 containers of pre-cut fruit sitting next to twenty-dollar tubs of yogurt (as shown above) [Below] Bounty of local organic produce, beautifully curated.

Erewhon has a wide selection of prepared sandwiches, salads that you can quickly grab and go… or for an elevated fast-casual dining experience, try one of their entree plates, which come with a main and two sides. My personal favorites include the Rad Thai and Buffalo Cauliflower. Not surprisingly, Erewhon is one of the few non-vegan markets where 75% of the prepared food is vegan.

To give you an idea of why it’s difficult to resist the urge to buy everything, just look at these chic jars of INNA jams. Don’t you just want to collect them all?

If it weren’t for the restrictive 30-minute parking policy, I would lounge for a few hours to relax, check emails, and people-watch. You’re only a hop, skip away from Abbott-Kinney where you’ll find a plethora of shopping and entertainment: Alternative, James Perse, Sabah, and the famous Blue Star Doughnuts. This adorable baby husky was patiently waiting for his owner – and naturally, like everything else, he was too perfect – he even matched the rug. Was that intentional? Perhaps. Erewhon Market in Venice (..soon coming to Santa Monica).

Orgain for Kids

My sister-in-law, who works as the quality administrator at Orgain, occasionally comes home bearing delicious samples from work. But yesterday was a special treat as we visited her at work.

The story behind Orgain is a remarkable one. The company was founded by cancer-survivor and doctor, Andrew Abraham, MD. Unsatisfied with the mass meal supplements on the market, he was determined to create a drink that had less sugar, fewer ‘junky’ ingredients (ie. corn syrup and genetically modified soy), and something organic. 

I loved the modern office interior with its fresh splash of colors  – two ping-pong tables and a kitchen pantry stocked with nutritional snack bars and maple waters for added healthy vibes. As a mom, my eyes went straight to the children’s smoothies, which contains 13g of sugar (much less than the standard 22g of sugar in traditional organic chocolate milk or the 28g of sugar in conventional chocolate milk). The Orgain Kids Protein Smoothie is not vegan, but it is made with grass-fed milk, which makes it better from a health perspective – although as a vegan mom, I do look forward to an exclusively plant-based option. The smoothie contains an organic veggie & fruit blend, which consists of kale, beet, blueberry, and acai. The smoothie is suitable for kids ages 2+ years.

Regarding other key nutritional facts, the smoothie is 200 calories, contains 3g of dietary fiber, and 8g of protein. I actually prefer the Kid’s Protein Smoothie better to the adult version because it doesn’t contain any stevia or sugar alcohol. The shakes come in three delicious flavors: strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. The smoothie contains an organic veggie & fruit blend, which consists of kale, beet, blueberry, and acai and is suitable for picky-eaters that are 2+ years in age. They definitely won’t be making the “I’m allergic to vegetables” argument for this one.

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

Preparation
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!

Postpartum Soup

You’ll often hear Korean elders preach about the magical power of seaweed. This postpartum soup (consumed on birthdays as well) is traditionally believed to restore the blood loss from childbearing and aid in breastmilk production. The standard version calls for either shellfish or beef, but my friend created an alternative plant-based version using kidney beans. Start with simple, wholesome ingredients.

Organic Vegetable Stock
Wakame Seaweed
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Sesame Oil
Garlic Powder
Kidney Beans
Soy Sauce

Preparation
Soak three shiitake mushrooms and a handful of seaweed (varies) in warm water for 15-minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Open package of kidney beans and rinse them until the water runs clear.

For the broth
Heat 2 cups of organic vegetable stock and add one cup of water to the stock. Add the soaked shiitake mushrooms to the stock. Heat on high heat until the stock boils, then turn down the heat to medium-low. Add half of the rinsed kidney beans to the stock.

For the seaweed
In a medium frying pan, heat three tablespoons of sesame oil on low-medium heat. When the sesame oil is hot (you can test this by tilting the pan to see how quickly the oil spreads), add two tablespoons of garlic powder and the soaked seaweed to the oil. Gently coat the seaweed with the oil, then add all the contents into the stock mix.

Add two tablespoons of soy sauce to the soup and stir occasionally. Heat for 30-minutes on low heat. Serve piping hot with kimchi or fermented kraut and brown rice on the side. Enjoy!