Vegan Korean Udon Noodles

My husband’s friends are visiting us from American soon. His friend’s wife is Korean, who apparently cooks really well. Not only that, she apparently is really good at presenting her food, which is NOT my strongest points. Koreans are really big on meat and I want to introduce them to my vegan diet with something they are familiar with. So I came up with this recipe as an experiment and it turned out to be pretty scrumptious.

Before I begin, let me introduce you to Gochujang. It is THE ingredient to have if you want to cook delicious korean meals. Gochujang is a korean chilli paste which is very hot, with a fair amount of saltiness.

picture from google images

I hope you like the recipe:

Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

1 bag of stir fry mix (vegetables)

1 Pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

10 to 12 cloves of garlic, minced

200-300grams of mushrooms (I used a variety of exotic kinds sold in tesco)

a handful of spring onions chopped into couple of inches long strips

750 gms of Udon Noodles (I used the already cooked kind)

1 1/5 tbsp of Gochujang

2 tbsp of Tamari (or soy sauce)

3 tsp of sesame oil

400 gms of firm tofu

half a cup of water

1 tsp coconut sugar/maple syrup (or regular)

1 tbsp of rapeseed oil

Method: 

First things first, make the sauce. In a bowl, mix gochujang, sesame oil, tamari, water and sugar. Mix well and set aside.

Next, prep the tofu. I simply press the tofu in between two chopping board with couple of heavy books on top of the chopping board to drain out excess water. Then cut them into bite sized pieces and simply fry them in very hot oil. The trick is to have the oil very hot, shallow fry it and don’t rush to turn them over. If you are hasty, you will find your tofu stick to the pan. Fry them and set them aside.

Now in a wok, heat some oil. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add the stir fry mix. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the noodles along with the sauce. Let the noodles cook and soak up some of the sauce. After about 5 minutes, add the tofu pieces, peppers and the spring onions. Cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the juices are absorbed. Don’t overcook the noodles, even if there’s plenty of sauce. A bit of extra sauce is better than soggy veggies and noodles.

Serve hot and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds.

Tips: Sprinkle some crushed seaweed, it will add an earthy flavour and more crunch.

 

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Breastfeeding For A Year & Counting…

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Copyrights @LouiseGibbens

As a kid, I was breastfed for 7 to 8 years! It was the best bonding experience I shared with my mother. My mum and I are still very close and I have not seen a doctor for more than once in 20 years! Therefore, when it came to my baby, my decision to breastfeed was pretty straightforward.

Baby Ro was born at home. Soon after his birth, we had skin to skin and we let Ro latch on when he was ready. He was ready within the first few minutes to be honest. I struggled initially, more in terms of handling as I was overwhelmed by it all, but luckily Ro came all ready with a perfect latch. He knew exactly what to do. And thus began our beautiful journey of breastfeeding.

 

First few days……

Eventhough, baby Ro had a perfect latch and my breastfeeding journey was seemingly easy and straightforward, it wasn’t completely pain free. Baby Ro was very tiny at birth and so was his latch. Smaller latch meant a lot of cuts and recurring blebs on my nipples. They were very painful. I took pain killers. I felt like I failed myself. After having given birth without any pain relief, not even gas & air, I succumbed to the pain of breastfeeding.

I wanted to enjoy breastfeeding. I hated the fact that I was fearing the pain as the time for his next feed was approaching. If a pain killer would help me achieve a positive experience without causing any harm to my baby, why shouldn’t I take it!  In about 6 weeks, my milk supply was properly established and so was Ro’s latch. My nipples were sore free and breastfeeding was as joyous as I had hoped.

Breastfeeding in public

There was nothing in the world that would stop me from feeding my baby. Because of the support system I have in my family and amongst my friends, I was pretty confident about feeding in public. I was always slightly worried about people making snide remarks at me but I was prepared to ignore it and not let that have any effect on me. To my surprise, no one ever said anything. Infact, I received a lot of love and praises from people.

I still breastfeed in public and plan to feed him into his toddlerhood.

Breastfeeding and baby weight

Ro was a mere 2.5 kgs at birth which isn’t an alarmingly low weight for Indians, but according to UK standards, he was pretty small. Luckily, I established breastfeeding right after birth, but I was told that if he did not gain weight, we will have to talk. I seriously did not want to give him formula unless absolutely necessary.

Roshan wasn’t gaining tons but he was gaining at a steady pace. That gave me hope and instilled my faith in my milk supply. I had a great support system in my mum, my husband , my doula and my friend who is also a breastfeeding peer supporter. They all helped me stay focussed.

After couple of months, I started receiving some pressure from relatives back home to give him some formula to make him chubby. I, very politely, ignored their advice and carried on.

Roshan kept gaining weight slowly but steadily. He has never been a chubby baby and I do not particularly desire him to be. Yet, Ro is one of the happiest, noisiest and most awake/alert baby around the block.

Feeding routine

There is no routine. I feed on demand and that is what I did when he was born. He sometimes fed every 2 hours, on somedays every 30 minutes; sometimes he fed for an hour whilst some other times he fed for 10 mins. There was no routine or expectations. We chose to simply respond to every cue by breastfeeding. We may not understand what is wrong with the baby or why is he crying, but breastfeeding happens to be the right answer to most worries. So use it to your benefit!

Tips:

Breastfeeding can be demanding but it does not have to be so tiresome. It is so much more rewarding and enjoyable. Those little moments when they shove their fingers into your mouth, or giggle whilst still breastfeeding or look straight into your eyes or stroke your chin or fiddle with your necklace; all those moments are priceless! Trust me!

Here are some handy tips that will help you enjoy your breastfeeding journey:

Water: Drink a lot of water. Dehydration can have some really serious problems. It can not only have an effect on your supply, but also have an impact on your mood. Headaches, muscle aches, grumpiness, insomnia or overly emotional behaviours are often signs of lack of water. So please mama’s, drink a lot of water to boost your supply and energy levels!

Skin to skin: Skin to skin is so important, not only for warmth and to maintain body temperatures but also milk supply. The closer the baby is to your skin, the more responsive your body becomes to the cue of making more milk.

Babywearing: It helps achieve the closeness, calmness and skin to skin required to produce or establish milk supply.

Oats: This may not apply to all, but till date, a bowl of porridge really fills me up (I mean my boob). I can tell oats helps me with my milk supply a lot. So, if ever feeling unsure of the supply, eat a bowl of porridge before going for the formula.

Sleep on the boob: This one is frowned upon by many people. There is a culture of putting the baby down as soon as they fall asleep on the boob. No, please let them just have the boob in their mouth unless they let go completely. The motion of sucking is not a waste of time, there is a lot of communication going on between the baby’s saliva and your nipples. When the saliva comes in contact with the areola, it sends a very important message to your body. It exposes your body to all the bacteria the baby has come in contact with, and if the baby has come in contact with any bad bacteria, this saliva sends a message to your body to make milk rich in enzymes and antibodies needed to fight the germs  and infection the baby is infested with. Therefore, the baby gets rid of the germs before it even has a chance to make him fall ill. Don’t you think it is amazing?

I have spent hours and still do, sitting on the sofa with him in my arms, sucking on my nipples, clearly not drinking but fast asleep. It is the best time to read a book or a good excuse to just sit down and chill out.

The aim of this article is not to make non-breastfeeding mommy’s feel bad. I understand that breastfeeding is a very personal choice and it may not be for everyone. The number of women who can actually not produce milk is about 2% I think, and in those cases formula is probably your best option. If in doubt about your supply, please seek the right kind of help. If you produce breastmilk, you are more likely to produce enough for your baby (some women established proper supply a bit later but they do eventually). So any aunt telling you to feed your baby formula because the baby is too thin should not be taken seriously before you have met some lactation consultants. 

 

 

Babywearing, Society and Soul Slings

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“Babywearing” is one of the best ways to carry your baby, in my opinion.

I knew I wanted to babywear even before I was pregnant. I loved the idea of being able to hold my baby so close to me without tiring myself out – and while keeping my arms free.

When I was pregnant, I also went shopping for a buggy, but couldn’t find a single buggy that felt small, light and comfortable enough. (I also couldn’t imagine making my dogs heel alongside a buggy. And as I walk dogs for a living, folding a buggy in and out of the car numerous times per day on my dog walks would have been really inconvenient).

Wearing Baby Ro

I wore baby Ro from week one of his life. He was very tiny at birth and so it was not easy to wear him without swallowing him up in fabric, but we started off with a kanga wrap, caboo, homemade saree wraps and finally moved onto full buckle slings.

Bonding

If mothers choose to breastfeed and co-sleep bonding’s not usually a problem. But babywearing is an added bonus – and also makes it extremely easy for fathers and grandparents to bond with the baby.

Magic Sleep Dust

Once you find the right kind of sling, you will know that some of them are blessed with a magic sleep dust. As soon as you pop your baby in, he/she will cosy up and go to sleep.

Skin-to-skin:

Babywearing makes getting skin-to-skin time so much easier. In summer, when Ro would get fussy, the only thing that would calm him down would be some skin-to-skin and with chores to do, I couldn’t just lock myself up in a bedroom topless giving Ro cuddles. That is when wraps came handy. I have answered the door topless with just a baby snuggled up in a wrap. No one ever realised!

Love Hormone:

Cuddles are good for us. It helps the babies to regulate their stress levels. Babywearing lowers the blood pressure, soothes the baby easily and releases the love hormone called Oxytocin. Oxytocin makes both baby and mama feel happy and connected, making motherhood an even better experience.

Hands – Free:

I have two bigger children and two dogs, plus my dog walking business to look after. I need my hands free. With a sling, I was able to go back to my school run routine as soon as my baby-mooning period was over and I started my work immediately after a 40 day long hiatus. I could take care of chores while the baby slept in the sling. And these days he looks around, chatters away, and even eats a snack whilst in the sling.

Breastfeeding on the go:

Yes, you can breastfeed on the go when you babywear. It takes a bit of practice but with the right sling and the correct technique, it is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Society

soul slings

Once seen as entirely natural, babywearing was pushed aside by the advent of the pram (alongside Victorian mores) and came to be seen as a preserve of the poor and the indigenous. It’s now come full circle,thankfully.

When I expressed my desire to wear my baby, I was mocked by some of my Indian friends because as a child we grew up seeing beggars or street vendors carrying their infants in a sling made out of scrap piece of cloth. Even though strollers weren’t such a big thing in India (partly due to the lack of space), babywearing wasn’t a go-to option either.

Detachment parenting, cry it out methods, supernanny and stroller companies all curbed babywearing. But attachment parenting and acceptance of instinctual parenting have paved the way for its return.

I think babywearing helps raise babies into secure and confident beings They say that babies who are raised with attachment parenting as an ethos, are less likely to succumb to substance abuse. I think that is amazing!

There are several myths about babywearing in our society that are genuinely untrue:

  1. Babies will get spoilt: Not true. Babies who are carried a lot, are less fussy, less needy and more confident. Babies who are carried have lesser reason to act out to get your attention.
  2. You will mess up your back: No you won’t. An ergonomically designed sling/wrap will help achieve a better posture if anything else and distribute baby weight across your torso and hips!
  3. Too big to be carried: Honestly, let the care-taker decide!
  4. You will delay crawling and walking: Not True! I carry my baby a lot. Probably 5 to 7 hours a day. Bonkers right? It has not prevented him from crawling at 10 months. His neck and trunk muscles developed strong enough to sit up at an appropriate age and crawl at the right time and at 12 months, he is already walking holding on to things.

 

Soul Slings Review:

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I have tried various slings and wraps to carry Baby Ro. It took me a while to find the right one and just when I found the one I thought I loved, Soul Slings sent me their Full Buckle SSC and I fell in love all over again.

Fabric:

Soul Slings full buckle carriers are made from woven cotton wraps. So they are very soft and they simply mould into your baby’s body perfectly.

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Light and Airy:

This was such a selling point for me. Most carriers available in the UK are very warming which is great for winter months but not so much during heat waves. As a dog walker, if the weather gets even slightly warm, it is easy to get hot. This is when a Soul full buckle feels perfectly breathable compared to the western makes, which can be slightly bulky.

Breastfeeding Friendly:

It is super simple to feed in Soul carriers. There’s an adjustment panel on both chest straps to lower the baby, to reach to an optimum position to feed without putting pressure on your shoulders and back. The hood helps in maintaining some privacy too.

back carry

Back Carry:

In 11 months of babywearing Roshan, I truly never managed to carry him on my back. I always found it difficult for some reason with my other carriers. Maybe it was just that he was small and I was less confident or maybe it was the carrier. All I know is that Soul full buckles made it easy. The lightness of the carrier and the smooth glide of the adjustment buckles made it very easy to back carry Ro. It is super quick to do a back carry with this sling, which is essential because Ro starts fussing if I take too long to achieve the optimum position and comfort.

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Design:

The one I have is called the Topaz Jacquard Full Buckle. They have some amazing prints but I like their geometric patterns; the colour adds just the right amount of vibrancy and is nicely unisex.

The one they sent me is also quite versatile in terms of colour coding with your own outfit. It was one of the things we’d consider when spending on a carrier.

Ergonomics:

The soul carriers are made very ergonomically for both baby and the wearer. The babies achieve a good M-position in the carrier with their knees higher than their hips which is crucial for their optimum hip development.

The padded should straps provides comfort to the carrier and the waist belt helps distribute the weight across the body, thereby taking away pressure from the shoulders.

Sizing:

Soul Slings full buckles, in my experience, comes a bit bigger. They have a lot of give. The standard carrier is from 7kgs up. A lot of babies achieve 7kg by the age of 6 months but my Ro is a small baby. He was only 7.5 kgs, when he was 11 months old. So although he could only start using the standard Soul sling at 11 months, it has so much space for him to grow, I don’t think we would need the toddler size one (which is great).

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Easy to wash:

I found it super easy to wash the carrier. When you have a baby that enjoys his snacks on the go, your carrier ends up with all sort of sticky things on it. To wash it, I simply fastened all the buckles and popped it in a pillow case. I washed it on a gentle 30 degrees wash for an hour and air dried it. Ok, no I dried it on my electric dryer (as it rains a lot in England). But it was dry and ready to go overnight. Clean and fresh as a daisy.

Price: 

My sling costs Rs. 5,750 INR which is about £70 GBP. A standard full buckle costs anywhere from £60 to £120. So I think it is appropriately priced especially for me as I won’t need a toddler size at all. It is total value for money and a babywearing win!

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My only minor gripe is that the carrier doesn’t have a pocket – but I know that Soul Slings have started incorporating that into their latest design. 

All in all I love Soul Slings. It is my favourite so far. I highly recommend it. I think, Indian companies have nailed the art of making slings better than western countries in so many ways, it makes me proud.