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11.29.2011

Plum Cake Tatin and almost a month!

Plum Cake Tatin


 Yes. We are alive! Whew. I feel like I have been so busy with our little one in addition with keeping up our household and getting some zzz's. I really do not know how other new mothers have time to blog with a newborn. It has really been the last thing on my to-do list EVEN though I miss it terribly.




On that note. As of December I will no longer be with Foodbuzz so if you have visited me through that search engine, consider adding my blog to your reader or liking Opera Singer in the Kitchen on Facebook! I will be updating the blog because I am way behind and I have some giveaways and reviews. I will be joining the BlogHer community and seeing what all they have to offer.




We have been entranced with our darling angel. She loves baths even though she is not a fan of them when she is fussy and only wants to be held. It has been a week since all our family has left our home. It had been 2 1/2 weeks of family visits and help that was VERY welcomed. I have yet to really feel like cooking or to feel inspired. I have to remind myself to eat despite feeling the rumbling of my tummy. Ryan is great about making breakfast and even some dinners as I prompt him with the staples we have in the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.


I happened to mention in the last post that I was going to be monitoring the foods I ate in order to prevent Julianne from having excess gas. I started reading The Happiest Baby on the Block and I am so loving the tips it gives for calming a fussy or angry baby. I find that Julianne is the happiest when I calm her and place her in my Moby wrap or sling. She zonks out immediately!


I have been craving coffee like mad lately and I have been going back to drinking Teeccino, a coffee substitute made from roasted barley, dried fruits, and other grains. It is very delicious and it can be brewed in a coffeemaker like coffee. I am not quite sure if it irritates Julianne's tummy but coffee is definitely a big NO for her. Sigh.....I repeat to myself that this too shall pass!


I have been really missing beans, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic, tofu, but I am eating plenty of eggs, spinach, kale, bok choy and other veggies. For the time being I am just monitoring how Julianne reacts to what I ingest. It is amazing but I have had contact with many mothers that had no clue that the foods we eat affect the baby's mood and digestion. It makes me sad to see my baby cry in pain because she cannot expel her gas. I get frustrated at myself for self-control but then I ask God to give me strength. I take each day one at a time.




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Well, Julianne was baptized 2 Sundays ago and she was lovely. We thank God for entrusting us with our little treasure because we have been given a big task to bring her up to give glory to our Creator. It makes me happy and nervous at the same time but God never gives us more than we can handle so I know He will be with us in every step.


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Before I close this post, I leave you with a recipe I meant to post but never did since I checked into the hospital to have Julianne. If you are looking for a unique dessert for Christmas this plum tart would be perfect. It is dense, moist, and flavorful. Oh, did I mention that it was vegan? I took Ina Garten's recipe and veganized it and it proved successful.


Plum Cake Tatin


Plum Cake Tatin

adapted from Ina Garten's recipe




  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) Earth Balance "buttery" sticks, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 10 to 12 purple "prune" plums, cut in half and pitted
  • 3/4 + 1/2 cup Coconut Secret Nectar, divided (or use agave nectar)
  • 2 flax seed "eggs" (2 Tbsp Flax seed meal + 6 Tbsp warm water)
  • 1/3 cup So Delicious plain Greek-like yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the plums in the dish, cut side down.
Pour 3/4 cup the coconut nectar or agave nectar evenly over the plums.
Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut nectar or agave nectar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and add the flax "eggs". Add the Greek-like yogurt, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.
Pour the cake batter evenly over the plums and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a plum sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

11.18.2011

2 weeks after Baby



Hi there! Were you afraid I was not making an appearance? Well, I thought so! :-)  It has been a wonderful blessing enjoying all of my daughter's changes since leaving the hospital. I cannot even believe 2 weeks have gone by.


We have had the blessing of having my mother-in-law for 5 days, then my mother for a whole week and visits from different family members. I am not quite sure what I will do with myself next week when everyone is gone but I know I will have God's strength.




How has it been with a newborn? Very different and somewhat challenging, but oh so much fun! The biggest thing I have learned from being a mother is that IT IS NOT ABOUT ME ANYMORE. My daughter's needs are above everyone else's because she requires care and attention, but do not get me wrong, Ryan and I have needs that also need to be met. Let me explain.


I explained a while back that when I was pregnant I had no desire to keep my vegan diet.Why it happened this way I do not know but I knew there was a purpose. All desire for tofu, seitan, or all meat substitutes and dairy substitutes except beverage made me sick.




Now that the baby has arrived I have such a desire for everything I was eating before, but more along the lines of eating fruits, veggies, soups, salads, beans, etc.


I have been learning a lot about colic and how MY diet and everything I eat affects the baby. Did you know this? Not that I have been testing this out but learning how Julianne is responding to them on a day to day basis makes me keenly aware of how much I do not want my baby to go through colic. 


On days I ate spicy, tomato-based foods, beans, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, coffee, and more I noticed that Julianne was fussy and hardly rested during the day.




By God's grace we have only had one episode of colic and it last for 45 minutes, even though it felt like hours. I cannot stand listening to my daughter in pain or in discomfort so my plan is to keep a journal of all foods I eat. My diet is not any longer focused on being vegan but on what would be healthy for my baby. Articles shows that too much raw foods, onions, beans, and the foods I listed cause colic. I want to prove that my baby can be peaceful and happy without my eating the foods that make her an unhappy baby. 


Defenseless.


It is my responsibility to keep my body healthy, yes, but it is also my responsibility to have a happy AND healthy baby. So even though I will be posting vegan and vegetarian recipes, this blog will not concentrate on  these food labels but on healthy eating.




Julianne has been a GREAT night sleeper. I have been averaging 6-7 hours of sleep a night even though I am waking up every 3 hours to feed her. 


A question though. Julianne would sleep 5-6 hours a night IF I did not wake her up for feedings. My preference is for her to sleep and I notice she eats a lot more and is satisfied when she is not forced to wake up during the night. During the day I do wake her up but the night is different. What is the best method?


The last 3 days have been a dream because she has been napping well and even lulling herself to sleep! She wakes up almost automatically for feedings every 3 hours and I try to catch a nap here and there. There is not escaping it though. Julianne is always fussy or active during our dinner time whether we have it early or later, she is there waiting to be held or to be given some attention. Pretty crazy!


What have I been eating as of late? I have been eating lots of oatmeal, barley drinks (recipe to come soon), soups, meat and potato foods, empanadas, tostadas ( all not spicy at all and no beans), and an apple crisp. The barley and oats all ensure better milk production and to better satisfy the baby. So far, the evidence seems pretty true. Happy baby!



Be on the look out soon! I will have some reviews and giveaway coming on the blog. Happy weekend!

11.10.2011

Birth Story



Julianne is 8 days old and I cannot believe how quickly time flies! I have been really wanting to share our birth story because I at least want to have the details written down before they start fading away.


As MANY people knew, I was 10 days past my due date. October 22nd came and went and baby girl decided not to make her appearance. All I could think about was how I could have miscalculated the due date. Where did I go wrong. I was very insistent on keeping a positive attitude knowing that God's timing meant everything. We prayed that Julianne would not arrive on time so that I could be part of Ryan's first fall concert. God answered.




Julianne SURE did take her time though. I had my contraction timer loaded on my Droid phone and I was ready to feel them coming at any time. I know there were several days where I felt contractions different than the Braxton-Hicks but still no baby. 


Patience.


Waiting.


Tired.


Cleaning house for the 10th time.


Yes. I have to admit that I was getting very frustrated. I went in for my 41-week appointment with the midwife, except she was not at the office because she was at the hospital delivering babies. I was seen my one of the physicians in the group and I proceeded with my ultrasound and fetal monitoring.


All in all I felt that the appointment was going well until I met with the physician to discuss plans for the following week, the 2 week mark past due date. This did not exactly happen as I imagined. The physician said that my amniotic fluid was low. It was supposed to be between 5 and 10 and mine was reading at 3. I did not like the sound of that but I did not know what usually happened when this was reported. She then proceeded to tell me that I was going to have to be induced.


OK. Nice. Induced. Not on my birth plan. OK. I asked the physician when this would happen. She told me she would call my midwife at the hospital and consult her and the other physicians. She returned to the office to tell me to head to the hospital that very morning. 


Uh. Ok. Like NOW? Yes, the physician said not to wait HOURS but to grab my belongings at home and head to the hospital. I left dumbfounded. I was alone and I did not know how to react. Ryan was at school in his class and I had no one to consult. I called my mother-in-law knowing she would be available and walked me through what I had just heard. I kept on phoning and texting Ryan until 45 minutes later, after he got out of class, he contacted me and I told him the news.


Our bags were all packed in the trunk of his car, but Ryan had to pack his clothes. Within 20 minutes we were out of the house at 1pm on November 1st. We checked in the hospital and were shown to our room. I stripped down to the hospital gown and waited. I prayed and asked God for peace and to calm me because I was nervous. I despised the fact I had to be induced. All my grand plans at having this baby naturally seemed to go down the drain.


2:00pm-Nursing staff come in an insert catheter on left hand. Not only am I receiving Pitocin for the process of inducing but I am also receiving antibiotics since I came out positive for Group B Strep. I also had fluids running for hydration purposes. My amniotic fluid was low and so then the baby's heart beat had to be monitored. What more? I had to be hooked up with 2 monitors: one for my contractions and one for the baby's heartbeat. These were probably the MOST annoying monitors in the world. I was strapped down by them and limited to only a small space.


3:00pm-Pitocin starts dripping and then at every half hour it was increased. By 3:30-4pm I was feeling the contractions. By 5:00pm I was feeling them 4-5 minutes. By 7:00pm I was feeling them every 2-3 minutes and they were starting to be uncomfortable and painful.


I found out I could not get in the bathtub to alleviate the pain since I HAD to be connected to the monitors. FAIL #2. I started working on the birthing ball and bouncing but realized that it was starting to get even more uncomfortable on there. I used a smaller yoga ball on the bed and rolled back and forth as I tried breathing deeply and not focusing on the pain. 


Ryan was a WONDERFUL blessing! The Lord knew what kind of husband I needed in my life and I thank him daily for providing me with my best helper and coach. He was there with the back rubs, ice chips, words of encouragement. He was my DJ, choosing movie score soundtracks and classical music tracks. He was patient with me when I hissed at him to change a particular track that sounded like synthesized music. NOT the best music for labor, let me tell you. 


My breathing was deep and I alternated from lip trills, singing in my head voice, humming in high pitches while streaming breath of air from the deep recesses of my body. It was truly effective but how long could I go? I worked from a rocking chair that turned to be my best friend.


I arrived at the hospital only at 1cm dilated (so sad) and once Pitocin started it took 8-9 hours to get to 5 cm. I was very discouraged. How long was I going to be in labor? Would I be able to last??? Midnight came along and so our chances at having a baby on 11-1-11 at 11pm were shot. Ha! Midnight through 3am proved to be the most painful. 


My nurse kept on offering me pain medication even though we stated in my birth plan that non should be offered. Why? Because of what happened next. She kept telling me I had nothing to prove and that I did not have to be a super woman to prove anything. Looking back, even though she was a great nurse, I resent those statements from her. She even told me she experienced Pitcocin without pain meds with one birth and that she would never do it again, so I guess she needed to encourage me NOT to do it?


Well, 3:00am rolled around and I kept moaning to Ryan that I did not think I could handle this pain any longer. I think I cried twice but they were not even hard cries, they were only cries of frustration. Ryan kept encouraging me, telling me I could do it and that I was a strong person. I kept on claiming God's name for strength, peace and direction. Yes, my source of energy was truly through Him, but I will let you know why later.


I called the midwife in and asked her what the pain options were. One could be given through my IV line and the other was an epidural. The one through the line would make me dopey and even the baby. Well, heck, that sure convinced me. Dopey and perhaps I still would feel the pain? I would then not be in control of breathing through my pain. What about an epidural? Well, the midwife explained that it would help me through the pain but she did not push either one. Since the nurse kept suggesting pain meds I wanted to know my options. 


Let me tell you. NOTHING good happens at 3:00am. I was running on 5 hours of sleep from the previous night and I was TIRED. Was I lucid? Ryan was not encouraging me to take the meds but wanted the best for me. I kept focusing on my pain, and looking back it was very selfish of me. I just wanted to feel numb. Even so, I decided to go with an epidural. Anesthesia was called, directions were given to Ryan as to where he should sit since a needle was to be inserted in my back, and I was about to sign a consent form. I read the consent form and read the possible side effects.


I got a bad feeling about the whole thing. I prayed and asked God to give me direction. I looked at the consent form and started crying. The possible side effects were possible vocal damage. I do not care if it happened to ONE person or to FIVE, but the fact that it was listed made my mind up. With the anesthesiologist behind me with a big needle, I DECLINED and did not sign the consent form. Somehow, some way, I was going to manage through this pain. I also would have not been able to move around the room if I had accepted the epidural. Another nurse told me later she was happy I did not take it cause it could have prolonged my labor even longer.


Lying in bed for contractions was probably the WORST place to manage through my pain. Ryan encouraged me to stand and rock back and forth. I would then hold on to the bed railings through each contractions and hum loudly. I would fold into a pillow on the bed as I stood. The nurse constantly would come in saying she could not hear the baby's heart beat because my monitor kept moving. DUH! I was told I could use different ways to manage through my contractions, of course my monitor was useless. I was the MOST annoying thing in the world!!


At 4:30am, I called my midwife to check me and she finally gave me wonderful news. I was 7cm dilated. WOW! In an hour and a half, after declining the epidural and walking about the room, I had progressed SO quickly. I knew that God was with me and had heard my prayer.


The midwife told me though that I was dilating unevenly and that I should lie in bed alternating every 15 minutes on each side. Hey, remember that part where I said that laboring in bed was the PITS??? My Ryan was there, rubbing my lower back. Heat compressions were of no help at this point and only exacerbated the pain. 5:00am and 6:00am came and the nurse kept telling me that if my pain started changing to a deeper lower feeling to call them. Meanwhile I was sighing in a sing-songy pitch that was loud. I was singing through each contraction in my head voice. The nurse finally came in and told me to shut it. Technically. She told me to save my energy for delivery so now I had to just quietly breathe through my contractions. It was hard.


The midwife and nurse started setting up the room for delivery and I could only see the light at the end of the tunnel. Would it happen soon? Would I stay at 7cm or would I finally dilate completely? The midwife checked me at 6:30am and said I was ready. WOW!


Ryan was given cold towels to cool me down as I prepared to deliver. I will spare you details of delivery but it only took 45-50 minutes and guess what? There was a shift change right when I was to deliver so I got another nurse for delivery and she was AWESOME. Between my midwife, new nurse, and Ryan, I had the best team to help me deliver Julianne. She came in one quick swoop and I held my little girl IMMEDIATELY. 




I cannot express to you, well, I can, how amazing it felt to be able to hold her. It was an out of this world experience and all the pain I experienced went out the window when I saw her and held her. I thank God for the gift of life and for being able to carry this little body in my body for 10 months. I would do it ALL over again. I realized that my choice to numb my pain would have been selfish of me. These are MY feelings for my situation and I am in no way judging anyone else who takes pain meds, but I had a birth plan and I almost through it out the window for MY convenience.


I had control over my choice of having pain meds but I did not have control over being induced, so I decided to take that route and I am super thankful that God was my helper as was my dear husband.



11.07.2011

Secret Recipe Club: Cranberry Compote Parfaits

Cranberry Compote Parfait 

 Hopefully as you read this post I have my beautiful baby in my arms. It has been a long wait just to be able to wait for her arrival. I am writing this post a week in advance because I did not quite know how much time I would have to blog so thank you for reading and visiting!




I decided to participate in November's Secret Recipe Club because I thought for some crazy reason I might have had my baby by the due date but seeing  that I am 10 days late as of 11/1/2011 here I am blogging in advance.


This month I was assigned a cute and wonderful blog called Thru The Bugs On My Windshield. It truly has a unique blog title and I wondered why it had such a cute title. Apparently the author travels a lot especially in a car and most photos are taken from inside the car or at an instant, these sometimes including bug splats. Funny! I am happy to report that she is also from Texas! Hello! I am from Houston so hopefully we lots in common besides blogging, cooking, and photography.


The author has MANY wonderful recipes on her site but the most exciting recipe I wanted to try was her recipe for cranberry compote. Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner so I am always looking for new recipes to include in my menu plan. Cranberry sauce is probably one of my favorite sides to go with all the trimmings so I knew I wanted to try this cranberry compote.


I halved the recipe because I wanted to make sure I did not have too much on hand. As this recipe cooked on the stove, the house smelled WONDERFUL! This compote has great spices and I was really longing for Thanksgiving. It made for a cozy morning.


So while this recipe would be PERFECT for the holidays as a side, I decided to use my compote in a parfait. I took Grape Nuts cereal and So Delicious Plain Yogurt and alternated layers in a parfait glass. It made for a great breakfast ya'll! It would also make for a great snack or dessert. It is not too sweet and it is perfectly tangy.


Check out Thru The Bugs On My Windshield because there are many more wonderful recipes to try.


Cranberry Compote Parfait 
Cranberry Compote Parfaits

adapted from original recipe

makes 4 parfaits

1 bag fresh Cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 large Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2″ pieces
1 Cinnamon Sticks
3/4 cup Water
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
Zest of one Orange
Juice of one Lemon
Zest of one Lemon
3/4 cup rough-chopped Pecans (optional)
Grape Nuts cereal
Two 6-ounce containers plain or vanilla So Delicious Greek-style yogurt
Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon sticks. Let cool and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Take 4 parfait glasses and layer each glass with compote, cereal, and yogurt. Enjoy!

11.06.2011

Baby Girl finally arrived!!



Just wanted to let everyone know that our little girl, Julianne Helene, arrived on November 2nd at 7:28am. She weighed 8 pounds, measured 21 inches and is so very beautiful!


I will be sharing the birth story soon after I get used to things but here is a tidbit. I went in for my 41 week appointment, already 10 days past due date. I got an ultrasound, my contractions were monitored and I had a fetal monitor. After 45 minutes I was told I needed to go to the hospital because my amniotic fluid was low. It usually is supposed to be between 5 and 10 but mine was reading at 3. 


17 hours later, after being plugged to pitocin, Julianne was born, without pain medications. Here are a few pictures.

First nap at home

Arriving at home
Ryan changing the 1st diaper


Preparing to go home.

15 min after being born



All snuggled up in the crib at hospital

6 hours after birth
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