News

People around the world, posing with their daily caloric intake

I found this photo essay fascinating.

Married photographers Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio traveled around the world and asked the people they met to pose for pictures with their daily diets in front of them. Let’s just say, it varies widely.  A few of the 23 images:

Ahmed Ahmed Swaid, Qat Merchant, Yemen – 3,300 Calories
Katherine Navas, High Schooler, Venezuela – 4,000 Calories
Conrad Tolby, Truck Driver, Illinois– 5,400 Calories
Marble Moahi, Mother Living with HIV/AIDS, Botswana – 900 Calories
Nguyen Theo, Rice Farmer, Vietnam – 2,500 Calories
Maria Ermelinda Ayme Sichigalo, Mother of Eight, Ecuador – 3,800 Calories

As I was posting this, I realized I have no idea what my daily caloric intake is. I’m thinking…maybe 1800 calories? maybe? Do you know yours?

Baby & Toddler · Holidays

Happy Memorial Day

Hey everyone! By some chance of fate, Mark and I both have this weekend off…as in, this entire weekend off at the same time, including all three days in a row. Needless to say, this happens rarely to never. So what did we do? We took long walks with the baby, we hung around the house, and I got a pedicure (at long last!!)

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Finally found a place near my “new” house that I like. Only took two and a half years…

Georgia also decided she was going to practice crawling after all — up to now, she’d skipped that milestone in favor of scooting on her butt or going straight to standing and pulling up on things. We are still trying to get her to feed herself finger foods, to no avail. (She’ll eat them ’til the cows come home, so it’s not a texture thing. She just prefers to have us feed her. Lazy lady!)

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It’s never too early for sun protection! This gal has gorgeous skin and I’m going to make sure she keeps it.

On Friday, I went with co-workers to a new Italian coffee shop that opened near my office. Holy moly! The vibe was cool and the drinks were amazing. It’s called Caffe Nero. If you work in the financial or theater district (or are planning a visit to Boston), check it out. Even has sidewalk seating which was what really clinched it for me. This winter, I suspect the seats  in front of the fireplace will be popular. And this summer, I’d bet a certain communications manager working at a downtown urban planning agency will feel compelled to try the coffee frappe which comes with an espresso shot. Just sayin’.

On Monday, we are meeting Mark’s 91-year-old grandfather for lunch near where he lives in New Bedford (the former whaling capital of the world). It’s still a major fishing port and every year they do a poignant dockside service remembering all those lost at sea for the past couple hundred years. Normally we attend and follow it up with a cookout, but this year we are keeping it more low-key. If I was going to cook out, though, I’d definitely make this easy side dish:

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I’m also dying to try the Pioneer Woman’s simple yet delicious-looking Watermelon Sangria. Watermelon is so hydrating, refreshing and good for you! And who doesn’t love a festive sangria. In fact, I’m trying to find a good “peachy” version for Georgia’s 1st birthday party (which, obvi, will have a Georgia Peach theme). If you know of a good recipe, send it my way!

And have a wonderful long weekend, everyone 🙂

Tips and Tricks

Quick Kitchen Conversions

I am re-blogging this cool infographic that I first spotted on MamaNatural because it is so so SO handy. How many times a week am I looking up measurements like this? Granted, I have a bad memory and I’m lousy at math, but I still don’t think I’m alone on this. I pinned it so I’ll always have it handy.

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Recipes

Baked Ziti

Heads up — this is a Weight Watchers recipe! I wish I could say it’s because I’m finally losing my last 5 baby pounds, but (typical) it’s because Mark booked a role for the summer that involves several shirtless scenes, so he ran right out and bought a FitBit and is now on a health crusade.

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(I’ll just point out that those crescent roll biscuits you see in the background are not part of the health-food diet.)

This is an easy pasta dish, made more healthful with reduced fat ricotta and mozzarella. You can use ziti, penne or any other tubular pasta that stands up well to being baked. I always undercook the pasta when it’s boiling so that it doesn’t get too soft in the oven. And I find that using canned tomato sauce is just fine as long as it’s a quality brand and ideally organic as well.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound pasta
  • cooking spray for the baking dish
  • 3/4 pound part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 cups marinara sauce, divided (you could also use diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 pound shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • red pepper flakes (add more or less to your taste)
  • fresh basil for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Prep a casserole dish or any oven-safe baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions, taking off the heat a bit early so the pasta doesn’t overcook; drain and rinse under cold water.

While pasta is cooking, combine ricotta, 3 TBSP Parmesan, red pepper flakes (if using; I just added a dash) and 1/3 C marinara sauce in a medium bowl.

To assemble, spoon 1/2 C sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish, add half the cooked pasta, spoon the ricotta mixture over, then spoon remaining sauce on top.

Top with remaining pasta, spoon the rest of the sauce on top, then sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.

Bake until cheese melts and is bubbly, about 20 to 30 minutes. Allow dish to sit for another 10 or 15 minutes before plating.

Optional: garnish with fresh basil ribbons.

If portioned into 12 servings, each one will have a 7 points value for those on Weight Watchers.

We had this with extra sauce on the side, plus some meatballs and Italian sausage and also those yummy biscuits and organic corn from Trader Joe’s. You could also add lean ground beef to the sauce (real or imitation) to make it meatier but still healthful. Simple and satisfying, perfect for Sunday dinner with family.

 Did you like this recipe? Share it! 

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Baby & Toddler · Beauty & Fashion · News

Monday musings

I hope everyone had a nice Mother’s Day!

Us? We were in the throes of baby flu all weekend: high fever, snot, throwing up, the works. But luckily Little G is on the mend, and took a trip out with daddy today on his day off. Look how big she’s getting!

 Thanks to Auntie Diana and Uncle Brian for my awesome Georgia onesie:)

I’ve got major spring fever now that it’s warm out finally. Who can work in an office under these conditions? I just want to go get a pedicure, apply some self-tanner and sit outside reading. 

Naturally, I’m obsessed with warm-weather clothes, and in particular I am dying to go shoe shopping. How beautiful are these from JCrew:

equestrian slingbacks, $148. available in light brown, dark brown and navy. 20% off with code SOGOOD

 I also just picked up this one piece bathing suit from Old Navy, which I just love. Can’t wait for a beach day:

I also discovered a new website that I’m a fan of for buying hard-to-find makeup. It’s called BeautylishI almost had a meltdown last week when it seemed as if Korres had discontinued its mineral makeup line (which I can’t live without). Sephora stopped carrying it, and the sales rep in the Burlington store told me the entire makeup line was no longer being made. MERDE!

Thankfully, it’s not true. It’s just that Sephora is no longer carrying it! I asked @KorresUSA about the rumor and they reassured me their natural line of cosmetics is still being made, so I ordered two packages of the Wild Rose foundation just to be safe. If you’re interested in their environmentally-friendly, plant-based, certified organic product line, I also love their anti-aging primer (which comes in a matte version as well), refreshing pomegranate cleansing wipes and petrolatum-free lip butters.

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Fellow mamas who lost a lot of hair postpartum, I’m wondering: did you ever try Living Proof hair products, which claim to have some special science behind them? They were developed at MIT and some people swear by them. I got a sample recently and I’m not so sure I’m sold, but I’m willing to try anything for my still-thinning locks. I only tried the shampoo and conditioner, so I may try some styling products as well and see what I think.

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Finally, on a less superficial note, I read about an inspiring crowd-funding platform called Kangu, which provides newborn care and a safe birth for women who lack access to adequate healthcare. Get matched with a mama and baby and potentially save a life. In addition to high-quality healthcare for the mom, you can also donate toward immunizations for the wee ones.

Have a wonderful week everyone 🙂

Baby & Toddler · News · Pregnancy · Tips and Tricks

Happy Mother’s Day!

Just in time for Mother’s Day: a cute picture of daddy with our 8 1/2-month-old Baby G 🙂

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We hit the mall last weekend to buy mom some clothes in her (ahem) new size.

If that’s my Mother’s Day present, I’ll take it. It’s worth it to feel good about yourself in new clothes that fit well — not wasting time trying to shoe-horn yourself into old outfits if it’s just not going to happen. A wider rib cage and pelvis is a small price to pay for that lovebug up there.

What are you all doing for Mother’s Day? I hope my fellow moms get to relax, and maybe take some time for themselves.

If I get to sleep past 6:30 and maybe read the newspaper, I’ll be happy! Speaking of which….I saw this interesting series on pregnancy health in the Boston Globe last month, and I really wanted to share it. Some of its findings were astounding (at least to me). In particular, the advice on what the flu or a high fever can do to mom and baby when you’re expecting shocked me. Not surprisingly, it says the biggest problem in maternal medicine right now is the fact that two-thirds of expectant moms are overweight or obese. yikes.

But the article said a few more nuanced things, too. One doctor pointed out that simply avoiding the flu while pregnant by getting your flu shot prevents a five-fold increase in the risk of baby having a psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia, later in life.

Another explained that recent findings show children of women who spike a high fever in pregnancy are more likely to develop autism, among other conditions, and that prenatal vitamins taken just before pregnancy, along with spacing pregnancies out by at least a year, can help reduce the likelihood that a child will develop autism. 

Really?

These are hefty claims. I’m no doctor, but I read the article with my mouth hanging open. It left me kind of frightened, to be honest. At least it was accompanied by a checklist for maximizing baby and mom’s health that I found helpful…

 Maximizing fetal and maternal health

  • Quit smoking, drinking, and drug use before getting pregnant. This includes second-hand smoke.
  • Get regular, moderate exercise before and during pregnancy. (Couldn’t agree more).
  • Eat a diet based largely on fruits and vegetables; if obese, reduce weight before pregnancy and limit weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Avoid eating fish that have high mercury levels.
  • Get illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, and auto-immune conditions, under control.
  • Prevent infections by getting immunizations, particularly against the flu, hepatitis, pneumonia, and pertussis, which can be dangerous for baby.
  • If you get a fever, take anti-fever medications.
  • Take prenatal vitamins, starting at least 3 months before pregnancy.
  • Space pregnancies allowing enough time for your body to recover. At least 36 months between pregnancies is ideal.
  • Consider tapering off any anti-depressant medication.
  • Eat organic whenever feasible.
  • Try to stay clear of insecticides and chemicals such as solvents and paint removers. When possible, minimize exposure to air pollution from traffic and fires; BPA, found in some plastics and canned foods; phthalates, in cosmetics and beauty products; and flame retardants in furniture and clothes.

I love these organic plant-based prenatals and these cleaning supplies. Of course, you can always go with things you already have on hand, like baking soda and vinegar. We also made the switch to glass bottles and lunch containers before we had Georgia. I even went the extra mile and made my husband start cleaning the cat box … just to be extra safe 🙂

I also read this awful article about how many toxic chemicals are in products marketed to babies and families. I know it’s an issue, and it’s why we’ve avoided certain brands, but I was still surprised at how pervasive the problem is, and how little some stores and sectors of government seem to care.

How about you — what do you do to avoid toxins? Do articles like this make you feel scared? or empowered to keep your family safe?

I’ll leave on an inspiring note. If you haven’t seen this beautiful photo series by Jade Beall on real women in all stages of pregnancy, nursing and beyond, it’s worth a look. Here’s one of my favorite images.

The photographer’s new book of photographs, “The Bodies of Mothers,” comes out on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014.

I hope you all have a restorative, restful Mother’s Day full of MANY cuddles, NO chores, NO cooking (who’d ever think I would say that??) and, if you’re lucky, some PAMPERING in the form of a bath, a pedicure, an exercise class, or whatever makes you feel relaxed and loved.

Cheers to all my fellow moms. Shouldn’t every day be Mother’s Day?

 

Restaurant Reviews

Review: Tornado in Malden

Since I had to work a night event on my birthday, a friend and I decided to check out the new Tapas bar near our meeting for an early dinner.

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Outdoor seating: coming in the warmer weather.

Tornado opened just a few months ago in Malden, which is apparently gaining a reputation as the next culinary hot spot. (Woohoo for our property values!) I really hope this place can stick it out, because lots of new apartments are being built nearby, and it’s right next to the subway. There should be plenty of foot traffic around this corner. Plus, the city of Malden itself is just getting more and more popular with young families and urbanites; every time I turn around, someone I know is moving here or neighboring Melrose (another foodie haven with top-notch downtown restaurants).

Anyway, here’s what we ate:

Oyster shooters with soy sauce and hot pepper flakes, with a guava sangria
Oyster shooters with soy sauce, sake, tabasco and fresh chive, with guava sangria.

 

Corn on the cob with sweet BBQ glaze, soft goat cheese and cilantro
Corn on the cob with sweet Asian BBQ glaze, soft goat cheese and fried garlic

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Key Lime pie bites with fresh berries, tart whipped cream and pistachio gelato.
Key Lime pie bites with fresh berries, tart Yuzu whipped cream and pistachio gelato.

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My birthday surprise: fried tiramisu ice cream!
My birthday surprise: fried tiramisu ice cream!

We also had edamame topped with sea salt and grated lemon zest, and bread with cinnamon-sugar butter (yum).

My verdict? I really liked this place. It’s owned and operated by graduates of Malden High, and I’m really rooting for them to succeed. They describe the food as a “mashup” of Eastern and Western cuisine, and I’d say that’s about right. There were other things we would have tried with unlimited time and stomach space: the Caesar kale salad, seared avocado with truffle salt and furikake, steamed pork buns with hoisin glaze and pickled vegetables, and crab cake fritters with wasabi-cucumber dip. I mean, right? Lots to pick from here.

And that’s just tapas! You can see the full menu here, but there’s a whole side of dinner entrees that I didn’t even sample. The sangrias we had were excellent, so I’m dying to try some of their other concoctions as well. And the fact they even call out a fancy mocktail on their drink menu earned huge points with me — I learned that you can almost always gauge the level of service you’re about to experience by how enthusiastically the bar crafts an alcohol-free drink for you when you’re visibly pregnant. (I had one place flat-out refuse to make something for me! Not so much as a cranberry juice. But I love the place, so I won’t call them out here).

The service was OK. Not inattentive, just not overly informed about ingredients we asked for, which I’m sure will come in time. We also came at a slow hour (5-6 p.m.) and they’ve only been open a few months, as I said. The decor is really cool; we enjoyed the modern vibe and can imagine it being really nice for drinks or a late dinner. The bar looked good too.

All in all: had a lovely time, definitely coming back.

Oh, and if you were hoping for a Cinco de Mayo recipe, you’re in luck! I posted these ideas last year, and then this weekend I spotted this handy recipe for restaurant-style Mexican rice. Last but not least, since it’s Monday and we all need cheering up, I give you this: an 8-legged octopus my brother made for Georgia’s 8-month birthday. Enjoy.

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