9 1/2 months, lots of special moments & a scrumptious Bircher Muesli recipe

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Gosh! What is going on this month?

For the last 2 weeks I’ve been wanting to sit down and write this blog, postponed it again, postponed it again – I must say, life with a baby is a busy one, much more than I ever thought!

To be fair we had a lot of exciting stuff going on.. we went on a lovely trip to our home country Austria, crossed the country from the West to the East twice by train, went to a funeral, a wedding, enjoyed lots of precious moments with family and friends and soaked up the lush and green beauty of Austria❤ Yes, it’s always great to be home.. no matter how much we love our life here on the little rock, Malta.

 

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Our little traveller enjoying the different views in Austria

Mummy life was pretty exciting too! Zoe spent her first nights without mum and dad and did really well with her granny, she once again proofed to be a super traveller, no matter if it’s in a plane, bus, car or hours on the train, she suddenly began to love all different kinds of fingerfood (yay, little foodie baby!), started to push herself around (not crawling yet, but won’t take much longer I’m afraid!), we celebrated our first Father’s Day and today, exactly 1 year ago my big love P and I got married in Gozo, with little Zoe still in my belly, dancing and rocking for three days in a row! Oh well, I guess she has a little party gene in her – lol!

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A very pregnant me – exactly 1 year ago at our wedding pre-party on a boat in Gozo

 

With all this stuff going on, my psychological sanity has been pretty well, with many helping hands when we were at home, which was sooo lovely for a change! And amazing summer weather once we returned to Malta, which makes life so much sweeter, especially if we hang out together in the shade next to the sea and start our first little attempts in the baby pool❤

It was a good month, I must say. And I must say, I’m also quite excited and nervous when I think about what I’m gonna write in my next blog post, as another big thing is coming up these days: on Sunday, 26 June 2016, my first workshop in cooperation with my dear yoga teacher and friend Sarah, from Pre- and Postnatal Yoga Malta on Mindful birth centred around yoga and healthy eating for all pregnant mummies-to-be. For more info, check out all details on our FB page here.

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Our first workshop centred around yoga & healthy eating takes place on 26 June 2016

But enough stories of my life for now, let me share the recipe of one of our favorite breakfasts this month:

A scrumptious Bircher Muesli

This muesli is so simple, quick and so lovely. It’s refreshing, healthy and can be prepared in bulk which I love doing since I’m a mum as it simply saves so much time and trouble in the morning. Recently Zoe even tried some of it when we had it in bed in the morning and she absolutely loved it! (If you try that be careful to pick the nuts out for your little one to avoid choking). Another time I made some more and offered some to a friend, since then she’s pushing me to post the recipe – so here we go, lovely😉

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A scrumptious Bircher Muesli

What you need….
(Serves 2)

  • 2 cups of oats
  • A few nuts, seeds & dried fruit of your liking (I simply used my good old muesli mix which usually contains oats, sunflower/ pumpkin/ flax & chai seeds, as well as some raisins, goji berries, almonds and hazelnuts)
  • 1 apple, washed & grated
  • 4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt (full fat, as I never go for low fat products – good fats are good for you! There’s a ton of information on this topic around, e.g. in this article)
    Vegan version: coconut or soy yoghurt
  • Cinnamon

What to do….

Soak the mix of oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit in your favorite bowls with hot water (just cover them with boiled water and add a bit more). Give it a good stir and let it stand for 10min or while you make yourself a nice cup of tea, lemon water or have a shower. Grate the apple, add half of it to each bowl, add the Greek yoghurt, mix it all nicely and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon. Dig in😀

If you want to make a big batch just multiply the amounts written above and store it in an airtight container or a big jar. Very handy indeed!

Hope you enjoy it & spend lots of relaxed & happy mornings while you eat it.

Wish us luck for the workshop & have a great month until next time..
Sunshine, love & lots of good food❤
N xxx

 

 

 

8 months, a first separation & a rollercoaster. Plus: “Hemp pasta with chard & sun-dried tomatoes”

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Recently I read in a very sweet book about a new mum, who is a writer, that once you get a baby, the desire for your own parents increases and that our world is in constant arrival and departure mode. In the book the writer’s best friend’s dad just died when she herself was still pregnant and about to pop. Her friend described how she said goodbye to her dad and in the same conversation they talked what else they need to prepare for the arrival of the writer’s baby. These two stories amongst many others touched me a lot. This book made me cry and laugh and once more reflect about the incredible impact of having a baby. Life/ death, future/ past, yourself as a mummy/ yourself as a child – I would have never expected all these new philosophical thoughts and questions coming up through the birth of my baby girl. It’s a very beautiful and spiritual side effect. The protagonist of the book also wrote that she lit a candle for her friend’s dad and put it in the windowsill, just like her mum used to tell her as a child, because the souls are on their way to leave and the lights which people lovingly lit for them guide them the way… Isn’t this beautiful? I always wondered where the tradition of lighting a candle for a person who passed away came from… now I finally now😉

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First time alone in so many months!!! Enjoying a book & a beer on the plane

Anyways, the moment I was writing these lines I was actually somewhere in the skies on a plane to a friend’s bachelorette weekend in Germany (actually just over the alps close to my home town Innsbruck as the captain told us just in that moment!!). It was the very first time that I left Zoe for more than a couple of hours and sitting there in peace all by myself also made me realise that it was the first time in 17 months that we’ve been separated for so long (counting 9 months of pregnancy plus incredible 8 months already!). It felt very weird, and my morning of departure was a crazy mix of being stressed, sad, nervous but excited. Now, looking back, it thankfully all went very well, Zoe was in the best of hands with her daddy and after my first wave of emotions and a refreshing shandy in the sun at the airport I actually had a blast and even managed to skip the tearful moments everybody warned me of. I was very proud of myself, my competent husband and my little girl and will definitely do it again soon and I can only recommend it to all the new mums out there!

However, after this great first weekend away my first emotional rollercoaster week started. Out of the blue Zoe started to wake up a lot during the nights and needing feeds everytime. I must say, it hit me by surprise. I’ve heard about and seen it many times from mummy friends, I read about it often but so far I was very lucky that I’ve never been sleep deprived for several days in a row and my hormones seemed fine and normal. Well… it had to come at some stage I guess. And it hit me hard. Just for time in mother’s day – har, har! Only that I didn’t find it funny at all in that moment.
For all the mums out there who suffer from constant sleep deprivation: I have NO idea how you handle it, really. You deserve my biggest, biggest respect. I don’t know how you function? If I feel that crap after only a few days, how do you feel if you have this on a permanent basis? So yes, even me, the always (nadi)sunshine (hence my nickname) was suddenly not so sunshiney anymore at all. More like a mix of constant thunderstorms and rain. It took about 3-4 days filled with full-on grumpyness, anger, feeling helpless and overwhelmed until my lovely husband prescribed me to stop with everything. Cancel all plans, forget the errands, forget the house, the laundry, the cooking, the overdue blog post, you name it – just stop it. Oh how difficult it was for me. I was really resisting it, like I needed it (but I HAVE to do this, and this and that!) – but NO! Who says that actually? It’s only in my head and when you think about it it’s often just ourselves, who create the most stress and pressure in our life. Oh man. As if I could only relax if all the to do’s are done. This will never be the case! Yes, I needed time out. I followed his advice, my wonderful hubby took Zoe for 2 nights and I slept peacefully with my earplugs in and soon felt like my normal self is slowly coming out again of the cave.
But it made me thoughtful.. am I and people like me often doing too much? Are we too active? Too social? Wanting it all at the same time? So long until we’re totally stressed out? And why is it that way? I don’t have an answer yet but I learned from last week and try to keep my days a little leaner now. Only one activity and then rest and play time at home with Zoe. And in return she presents me with a nice, long 2 hour nap in the early afternoon (like now). Also not that bad! A little me time – wow!!! And I must say, it also made me think about work and time outs. Yes, I love it so much being a fulltime mum at the moment, but yes – it’s still nice having a bit of time without your little one. Even if it’s at the office (where noone is crying, you can sit and work and focus without being constantly distracted, get a coffee and drink it as long as it’s hot.. you get what I’m saying?😉. I suddenly began to understand some of my mummy-friends and why they want to go back to work for a bit and to have something else around you than just your gorgeous little baby. So yes, again – lots of thoughts and reflections, and no clear answers but still very interesting times and experiences these days… and definitely one big learning: get your breaks and little time outs. Also if you think you don’t need them, but believe me – we all do and deserve them❤

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If you are a bit like me, you should sometimes slow down a bit😉

Which brings me to the end of my blog post today, a very quick and easy recipe for a super yummy pasta dish – cause sometimes it just has to go quick at night and all you want is carbs and comfort food. This pasta dish is not unhealthy at all though and if you get a good quality pasta like wholegrain or hemp, the one I used, you need much less pasta as it’s not only much healthier than white pasta but actually more filling, has a nice bite and is very comforting. I pair it with lots of sauce made with fresh organic veggies (cause there’s nothing worse than dry pasta!) made out of tons of fresh chard (Hello iron! Hello energy levels!) combined with some fresh spring onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and just a bit of goat cheese and pine nuts. It’s a really healthy, simple and delicious meal and a real crowd pleaser (even my friend’s little daughter of 1,5 years totally loved it).

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Lots of greens & good carbs – yes please!!!

Hemp pasta with chard, pine nuts &
sun-dried tomatoes

What you need…
(2 portions) 
All produce ideally organic if you can

  • 250g Hemp pasta (alternatively whole grain if you can’t get that)
  • A nice bunch of chard (green, red, yellow – all types work fine)
  • Spring onions (alternatively a normal onion)
  • Fresh garlic (alternatively dried, but it’s just in season here)
  • A handful of sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for about 10min
  • Half a handful of pine nuts
  • Some goat cheese (optional if your want a vegan meal)
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper or chili

What do do…

Cook pasta according to the instructions. Wash and chop all vegetables, chard can be rougher (also the stems), sun-dried tomatoes, onions and garlic smaller. Gently fry onions and garlic, add the chopped chard and fry them gently (if you have put a lid on the pan then it’ll go faster). When the chard starts to wilt, add the tomatoes, pine nuts, salt, pepper or chili according to taste. Serve with some sprinkled goat cheese on top and dig in:)

Thanks for reading & stay tuned on my FB page for an upcoming workshop on yoga & healthy food in June!

Lots of sunshine & love,
N xx

 

 

7 months of gratefulness & a lovely Chia Strawberry Jam which tastes like spring 

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Enjoying a spring day in San Anton Gardens in Attard

When I started writing this blog post last week, I was sitting on a bench next to a pond in San Anton Gardens, breathing in the lovely smells of flowers, feeling a mild spring breeze in my hair and watching the birds fly in the sunshine. Now I finish it sitting it in the same spring sun next to the sea with my darling Zoe playing happily away in her pram next to me. Have I ever imagined mummy life like this a few months ago?? Nope, I definitely haven’t. Sometimes I even think it’s too good to be true… And while I know from my fellow mummy friends that in a few weeks things might change drastically when our babies start to crawl and walk I’m even more devouring these quiet, peaceful moments in the now:) .

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Chilling in Gozo with my parents. Zoe loves the sea just as much as we do.

A few days ago our little sunshine turned 7 months. Yes, of course she still wakes up at night and interrupted sleeps are part of my life, and yes, even though Zoe is a very happy and content baby, she also cries at times but all in all I must officially say I’m a freaking happy and grateful new mum and I fall in love with being a mummy even more every day. Who would have ever imagined the love I would feel? The worry when Zoe sleeps so deeply that I have to check her belly breathing (yes, paranoid. I know)? The joy when she cracks a huge smile as soon as I open the door to her nursery in the morning? But also the peace and tranquility when she’s nursing or napping and allows me to have a bit of time to myself, to sit next to the sea like now and to give me a chance to breathe, think, reflect and to feel happy, free, inspired and open. Have I ever sat on a bench in a past just enjoying the moment and being grateful so much?

A baby definitely changed my perspective on many things. I take each day by each day. Each night by each night. I try to go inside myself more often and listen deeply to myself: Am I happy? Am I doing the right things? Am I taking the right decisions? I’m a strong believer in the sayings “Happy mummy – happy baby” and “You have to be happy to make others happy” so I try to live accordingly to them.

What I’m definitely learning at the moment is to put ourselves first. Not to always please others, always doing others a favor, learning to say no – it’s a hard lesson for me but I’m getting better. I also think much more about my own childhood than ever.  How our parents raised us and what a great influence it makes later in life. Recently my parents came to visit us in Malta and for the first time I was consciously aware of how incredible it must be to see you own child have their own baby. The gift of life is something so incredible and I catch myself more and more reflecting on it. What will our future be like? What will our children’s future be like? Every topic on sustainability, be it protection of nature, saving the planet from too much rubbish, overfishing of the sea, politics, wars, terrorism, diseases like cancer on the rise.. The list goes on and on. Every time my head starts spinning by all these thoughts I gently remind myself that all we can do is be aware of the now, be grateful for every moment and every day and trying to be happy, sharing the happiness and enjoying the little joys of life to the max <3 . Yoga has helped me learn this over the last years and little Zoe teaches me to do it even more! I remember my dear friend saying at our wedding ceremony “Shine brightly, together” and I think it’s important passing this on to our children.

So I try not to be nostalgic that our little baby girl is growing by the day, that all our favorite outfits are getting too small (yes, I know – I have to sort them out!), that she’s slowly getting too heavy for long walks in the baby carrier, that I can’t see, cuddle and kiss her non stop when she’s in her big new stroller.. – stop! No! I try to do exactly what she does – enjoying to see and learn new things everyday and enjoying the moment of life you’re right at NOW 😊

Which finally brings me, of course, also to eating and enjoying to cook lots of wonderful spring foods Malta has to offer right NOW! Be it citrus, artichokes or strawberries.. The fruit and veggies in the spring are just as fresh as inspiring and just as delicious as easy to prepare! As most of you know I’m a big fan of easy cooking and all these ingredients can be transformed into lovely meals without spending hours in the kitchen. Be it a nice fennel citrus salad, steamed artichokes with a parsley egg and lemon dip or the recipe for yummy and healthy strawberry chia jam which I’m sharing with you today! It’s not only good for breakfast on homemade bread or as a topping on porridge, but also lovely for tea time or a little healthy dessert (e.g. on yoghurt) in the evening❤

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Tastes like spring! Strawberry Chia Jam

Strawberry Chia Jam

Probably all of you know the benefits of the super food chia seeds by now, but to sum it up briefly, chia seeds are a great source of plant protein, contain Omega 3 and 6, have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and help digestion. They can help you you lose weight (even more if you use this jam instead of normal one!😉 ) because they have a low carbohydrate, are rich in natural magnesium, contain many essential nutrients and can therefore strengthen the immune system. As always I try to get organic whenever I can, for my superfoods I love the products of my Austrian friends of Green Panda but of course any chia seeds will do the job. You can take black chia, white chia, the whole seeds, ground seeds – they all work the same. Chia seeds have binding properties which makes them perfect for puddings (recipe here), jams or in baking.
If you don’t have strawberries at hand you can also try other berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries etc. You can add different notes of flavors likes orange blossom water, rose water, vanilla, cinnamon – play with it!

What you need…
(for a small jar)

As a rule of thumb 2 cups of washed and chopped fruit plus 2 table spoons of chia seeds work very well. For a thicker texture add a bit more chia. 

  • 2 cups of washed and chopped strawberries (or other fruit)
  • 2 table spoons of chia seeds
  • 2 table spoons of orange juice (alternatives: lemon or lime, rose or orange water)
  • Agave or maple sirup according to your sweet tooth (honey for the raw version is nice too)

What to do…
Mash or roughly chop washed strawberries depending if you like your chia jam rather fine or chunky. Heat them up in a small pot on medium heat, I added some blueberries which I had to use up but only strawberries are fine, too. Add a bit of fresh orange or lemon juice, the sweetener of your choice and let it simmer for a few minutes until it reduces and gets nice and thick. Turn of the heat. For a raw version simply blend it all in a processor instead.

Now add the chia seeds and let it stand for a while. The longer it stands the thicker it gets but I’d wait at least 15-20min. If you’re hungry and want to eat your fresh jam right now – go for it and enjoy it some home baked bread or simply brown toast with a lovely cup of tea! Alternatively store it in a jar in the fridge and use it as a yummy topping on your bfast or on your greek yoghurt as a snack. It even goes well with a  nice goat cheese and with these temperatures it would also be a lovely topping on some banana or chocolate ice cream (recipe here).

Hope you enjoy it and have a lovely new month ahead! For regular food inspiration don’t forget to follow my Facebook fan pay  or Instagram.

Big love & thanks for reading, lovely people
and don’t forget to shine brightly❤

N xx

P.S. I’m also taking new clients for private cooking classes, and an exciting workshop on yoga and healthy food for mummies is in the works so watch this space or get in touch with me for more info.

 

6 months nostalgia & some cosy Curried Cauliflower Soup

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Thumbs up for our first 6 months with our little sunshine

Oups, this month I’m a little late for my monthly new mummy recap… sorry! But hey – it’s only a week since our little sunshine has turned 6 months, and now that I’m sitting down reflecting I can only say: what an exciting first half year it has been. With quite a lot of changes lately… Our nights which were usually quite chilled out (Zoe only woke up once for a quick feed, if even) turned into very interrupted sleep, Zoe was sick for the first time, we therefore called off our holiday, I got sick myself and looked after a sick baby for the first time (all natural with homeopathic remedies and lots of TLC) and just recently she’s sitting in highchair and – I can’t believe that I’m writing this: we finally started her with solids! Ohhhh how hilarious her face expressions were to look at!!!

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The day has come! Our little mouse is starting with home made baby food❤

Isn’t it crazy that something simple like eating can turn into such a big deal? For the last few weeks I kept postponing and postponing it.. I read the later you start (with 6 months at the latest though), the less prone they are to allergies later on and of course this turned out to be my favorite excuse. The truth: even though I’m really into food I also didn’t WANT to start with it earlier! My little baby girl, eating? No more breastfeeding wherever and whenever we need to? How impractical! I must confess, I got very very VERY attached to nursing my sweet little mouse. The idea of introducing her to solids made me somehow realise that it’s only one of the many first steps into her independence. Was I ready for it? Was I ready to put her out of her little cosy babybay into her big cot? Was I ready to introduce her to our now stroller and not only carry her around in our beloved babycarrier? Am I ready to move her into her own room? The list goes on and on and I want to shout out a big loud NO, but the reality is that our sweet little babies, as much as we love them as they are, grow. Every month, every week, sometimes every day something changes and there is nothing which will stop them. It’s the beauty of watching a new life grow and as soon as we get to used to one phase, you can only be sure that the next new phase is just around the corner. Well, life is constant change, and it only makes us grow. Never a dull moment with a baby!!😀

Lately, as winter has finally arrived in Malta, too, I’m really into soups again for dinner. My friend J and I try to keep up our healthy mummy cooking Mondays and soups turned out to be the big star. You can eat them all week and if you’re lucky enough to have some leftovers they are great to freeze and use them when you don’t feel like cooking on another night. Together with some freshly toasted brown bread (I love home baked  bread e.g. rye bread which we’ll make soon on another Monday or this gluten-free bread from one of my favorite blogs My New Roots ) and a nice bowl of greens it makes the perfect comforting weekday dinner. Even better with a glass of red wine and a bit of yummy chocolate on the sofa later on of course! (Did anyone say staying home every night is dull?? Well I can’t agree so far LOL!)

Curried Cauliflower Soup

So easy, yummy and healthy!

Curried Cauliflower Soup

As you know I mostly post about my healthy cooking adventures on my nadisunshine FB page and Instagram several times a week (check it out for inspiration if you aren’t following me yet:) ). The soup star of the month was definitely my curried cauliflower soup and I promised to post the recipe here on the blog, so here you go!

It’s super easy, very tasty and the ingredients are sooo good for you. Cauliflower, just like its siblings broccoli, turnip greens, cabbage and kale, is a cruciferous veggie with tons of health benefits. It’s boasting with vitamin C (amongst many other vitamins and minerals) and is known for it’s anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, heart boosting benefits and is great for digestion. It’s available locally and on top of that very inexpensive. Paired with curry, turmeric and ginger which are all well known for being great for the immune system (more info here and here as well as my recipe for a Flu Fighter Turmeric Drink which I posted in the past) this soup is not only yummy but an absolute boost for your body and health.

What you need

  • 1 cauliflower, washed and chopped 
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • garlic cloves,peeled and chopped
  • 1/2-1 thumb sized of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin powder
  • ca. 1l of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of dairy free milk or alternatively 1 potato to make it creamy
  • High quality salt (I use Himalayan or local sea salt) and fresh pepper (if you want it a bit spicy take a fresh chili alternatively)

To garnish

  • Make a tray of oven roasted cauliflower by simply roasting another head of chopped cauliflower with coconut oil, curry, turmeric and salt for about 30-40min on 180°C. (This is also a great topping for a salad or a filling for a wrap or sandwich.)
  • Alternatively keep it easy and simply use some fresh coriander

What to do

Heat up the oil in a pot and fry chopped onion, garlic and ginger on medium heat. Add the chopped cauliflower and dust with the spices. Now cover with stock and let it cook gently until it’s soft (20-30min). If you decided to make the soup creamier with a potato also add it with the cauliflower. If you decide for the dairy free milk add it rather towards the end of the cooking time.
Purée the soup  with your hand blender. You can either make it very smooth or keep it a bit chunky which is nice, too. Careful when you blend the soup, the yellow of the curry/tumeric makes bad stains😉. Finish with salt and pepper to your taste. If you opted for chili, add it with the other spices in the very beginning.

Serve with some roasted cauliflower or simply freshly chopped coriander on top, some nice brown bread and a big bowl of greens! Bon appetite:)

Until next time have a good month and don’t forget to follow me on my FB and Instagram lovely readers! I’m curious myself what new baby adventures I’ll have to blog about😉

Big love❤
N xx

 

A 5 month recap & a simple, wholesome veggie soup

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Seems like at least every 6th of the month, when Zoe turns another month older, I finally kick my a** and sit down to blog. It’s a nice opportunity for myself to reflect and recap, to rethink what inspired my, when I was struggling or what particularly went well…

The highlight of the last month was definitely my birthday. Yep, I’m 36 now and I must say it doesn’t feel bad at all. Actually I must even say that I even think this was my loveliest bday ever! I’ver never felt so happy and content within myself.. I got married to the love of my life, we’re blessed with our cutest baby girl, we’re all healthy, live in a safe place, have a wonderful family and circle of friends and don’t have any financial problems. Not only marriage and motherhood but also the current events around us like wars, refugees and young people around us who get cancer, – they all remind me everyday how lucky we are and how grateful we can be. It makes me reflect even more often and reminds me to be aware of all these little things which we often take for granted – until something happens. Let’s not wait too long, let’s practice this gratitude every day and enjoy the wonderful moments of our life as often as we can!! Life is full of them:-) Be it a ferry ride in the lovely winter sunshine to Valletta, when you get your ID card without any hassle, when my hubby Paul sends me an unexpected love message, when baby Zoe manages to turn from her belly to her back (maybe 1 out of 10 times atm😉 – how I admire her for her persistency!) or when people I meet somewhere tell me that they read my blog and really like it, like this morning at our parentcraft reunion at hospital.

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New ID card – check – whoowhoo!

One of the many moments I’m always super happy is our weekly post-natal yoga class at freemyme in Sliema. I’ve been mentioning yoga on my blog many times and I won’t get tired of recommending it to anyone, wherever you are as it’s just creating such a wonderful, positive energy – not only for me, but also for Zoe, I can truly feel it when we do our asanas (poses), the way our day goes after, how well she sleeps etc. I can only recommend it to any mummy of a baby! Once they start crawling it’s too late so better use the chance to do it now:)

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Little Yogi

What I also appreciate and experience a lot these days is the wonderful bond of mummy friends. I remember when I was pregnant I was a bit worried as most of my friends, although some of them have small children, are working full-time and I was scared to be alone all the time once the baby is born. As usual, there was no reason to worry. There is something true about the saying Cross that bridge when you get there. The universe will always offer plenty of opportunities to grab, be it new friends you make in one of the many baby classes, former parentcraft participants but also acquaintances you knew before but became closer, now you share the adventure of being a mummy. It’s beautiful to observe how these relationships can grow and it can never do any harm to either share your worries, provide an ear to listen to someone or simply do something fun together with the little ones. So thank you to all of you out there❤

This week I visited a new-mummy friend who just gave birth to a little gorgeous baby girl. With loving memories and almost a bit nostalgic I was thinking back of these first special weeks and how loved and pampered I felt when friends came to visit me and brought me food, sweets or anything else around. As a dear friend and yoga teacher of mine always says Love is a circle – it was time to give back! So, I decided to make a big pot of hearty and vitamin packed veggie soup with my freshly delivered organic veg from Organic House (thanks to Ruth, who comes for home delivery every Wednesday!), some replenishing wheatgrass (thank you to my GreenPanda friends for your latest parcel!), a taster of my Earl Grey Orange porridge in a jar and of course some sweets and tea. The soup was rather simple, still my friend really liked it and asked me for the recipe so I tried to sit down and write it down. So there we go…

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New-mummy-goodie bag

Wholesome, hearty veggie soup

This recipe doesn’t contain any specific amounts as you can just take equal amounts of different saisonal vegetables, so just play with it. I’d always recommend to include potatoes to make it more filling but if you don’t have any at hand you can always add some small wholemeal pasta, cooked brown rice, or any other grains like quinoa buckwheat or millet later. Talking of these grains, it’s always handy to have some prepared in the fridge so you can use them for soups, warm breakfasts or salads during the week. Even different kinds of beans will work and give you a nice portion of protein like canellini, chickpeas, you name it!

So this time I took equal amounts of potatoes, fennel, leek, carrots and chard but like any other leafy greens only add them for the last couple of minutes when the rest of the veg is already cooked. We don’t want to lose these lovely vitamins! Experiment and get what’s seasonal and local. Anything else will just work as fine (think pumpkin, broccoli, kale, peas, beans etc.)

What you need..

Equal amounts of veg (as described above)
1 filling ingredient carb or protein (as described above)
Water
Olive Oil
Bayleaf
Rock or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Herb & flower mix (I took one of my favorite Austrian organic mixes from Sonnentor called guardian angel – check it out if you speak German, unfortunately their English language version doesn’t seem to work at the moment) but you can also add some of the spices separately like coriander, ginger, mint, garlic, orange peel, cumin, curcuma, sage, paprika, rosemary and sage amongst others.

What to do..

Start with prepping all veg, wash, chop and trim them all in nice bite sized pieces. I personally like to scrub organic veg thoroughly instead of peeling as the skin contain many precious minerals and vitamins. Heat up a generous splash of olive oil on medium heat and start frying the hardest veg, add herbs, add the rest of the veggies (apart from the leafy greens) and fill it up with water so the veg is covered. Cook gently for about 30min, stir occasionally. Taste a bit and season. Last but not least add your pre-cooked grains or beans if you chose to add them.

To make it a bit more decadent add nice shavings of parmesan or a poached egg.

Bon appetite & feel the good energy flow in your veins and dummy:)

I guess that’s it for today! Wishing you all a lovely new month ahead & happy 5 month to our little sunshine Zoe – we love you to the moon an back!

Nadine xx

4 months, a new life & the rediscovery of Thai food

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H is for Happiness (115)

Today a year ago I found out I was pregnant.
Today 4 months ago our sweet little mouse Zoe was born.

4 months in which she hasn’t stopped bringing joy, giggles and love into our house and hearts.
4 months full of new situations, questions, occasional worries, unexpected grins and sudden attacks of love that you’re not sure if your heart is about to break of it.

Words can’t describe how happy I am to have her in our life.

Yes, it’s definitely true that your life is changing dramatically as a mum. Maybe not for everyone.. especially not if, like many women here in Malta, have to go back to work after 4 months (that would be now for me!), often full-time and have to leave their baby in a nursery or, if they’re lucky with nanna (Maltese for granny). But even then, your life will never be the same again as it used to be before. The nights are sometimes interrupted with night feeds and if not you can’t believe it that your baby is so quiet so you just have to go there and check if she is still breathing. Sounds crazy? I know! But suddenly there is this big love and sense for responsibility in you which I’ve never known before. This little human is totally dependent on you, and the way how it trust you is just heartbreakingly beautiful. Today was Zoe’s first baby swimming lesson. Imagine her, floating in a pool, so huge for her in comparison to an adult, but totally relaxed on her back with only my hands supporting gently her head and spine. This is real trust. Do you trust someone that much?

Suddenly you get lots of flashbacks to your own childhood. You start to understand the unconditional love of your parents and how much they care for you. A baby not only shakes up the parents’ life but it has a huge ripple effect. On grandparents, siblings who become proud aunties and uncles, friends – be it girls or guys – who suddenly show you completely new sides of their personality, be it insecurity, softness, affection.. Why? Because they are overwhelmed with the same feeling. The magic of a baby.

Of course a baby is not everybody’s cup of tea. And some people might fade out of your life because you can’t continue your life as it used to be. No more boozy dinners or dancing at festivals on a regular basis, several yoga classes a week and time to hang out after. Your priorities change, but change is good and makes you grow as they say.

Unfortunately also cooking lost some priority for me in my life these days. I’m mainly thinking quick and easy now, and if things can be cooked in bulk, stored for several days or be frozen so I don’t have to cook from scratch everyday. I only realize now, how much time I dedicated to cooking! Thinking that I was into simple food already, I only start realizing now how many trips to different shops for different ingredients it took and how many hours of inspirational reading and the cooking as such I had in hands (next to a bottle of wine of course!). Anyways, this is a new chapter and it’s time to adapt.

One of my recent (re)discoveries is Thai food. I’ve been into Thai food for ages but somehow lost touch with it over the last few years. Now, by coincidence (concretely leftovers from our New Year party inspired me), I came back to it and fell in love all over again!

So let me share our favorite dish these days:

thai-fried-rice

Thai fried rice 

What you need…
(Serves 4)

  • 1 onion
  • 1 thumb sized ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 ts of soy paste & 1 ts of chili paste (thanks to my friend Hardy for the recommendation!)
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce (skip for a vegetarian version)
  • 2 limes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of cooked rice (I prefer brown)
  • Approx. 500g of chopped veggies (I took peppers and spring onions with the chicken and zucchini with the beef but you can experiment with all kinds of veg)
  • Approx. 500g meat (I took chili and maple sirup marinated chicken strips one day, some beef filet strips the other day and even minced beef another time – worked great with all of them. For a vegetarian version skip the meat or fry some tofu cubes)
  • Fresh cilantro

Heat up the sesame oil in a big pan and start frying the chopped onions, garlic and ginger. Add the pastes and mix it.

Add the meat and stir fry it, add the vegetables and sauces and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes. Crack the two eggs on top and mix it all up.

Add the cooked rice and stir. Add some more of the sauces to taste (careful with the fish sauce as it’s quite intense) and another bit of sesame oil.

Serve with lime slices and fresh cilantro on top.

Dinner is ready! (And of course I still have a glass of red wine with it:-)

With these basics you can make any a huge variety of fried rice versions. You can even replace the rice with rice noodles if you want to. Swap the veggies, change or skip the meat as long as you have the rest of the other ingredients.  

So for now, let me go back focus on my little princess who by now woke up and is patiently sitting on my lap and I hope it won’t take too long to blog to you again. So long, keep on following my FB page which is updated more regularly as it’s simply easier and quicker these days than sitting down to write a whole blog post.  Still love it though I must say😉

Wishing you all a very happy new year, filled with good food, giggles and love!

N xxx

H is for Happiness (168)

PS Photos of my pregnant self by the talented Angela from H is for happiness

Exploring our new life & some lovely discoveries on the way 

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..for a review on The Villa Kitchen in Attard (Malta), scroll down

Yesterday, our little sunshine Zoe turned 2 months. Yes, 2 months already since our sweet baby girl was born and has put our world as we knew it upside down! It’s simply incredible how fast time is flying, how much can change in such a short time and yet feel natural and right…

Maybe the journey is not so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. 

Well, I’m definitely discovering this new ME. Being a mummy, being responsible for this wonderful little creature of life, but also to my new role as a mummy wife, a mummy friend, and soon also a mummy without a “normal” job anymore. Yes, sadly my work for SOS Children’s Villages will come to an end next year – but, hey – again – who knows what it’s good for, what new adventures and possibilities are waiting for me?? Of course it’s a lot of change at once and sometimes these changes feel overwhelming. But then, as always, I try to turn every challenge into something positive.. and maybe some of these things might be helpful for others of you in similar situations.

Zoe

This new mummy ME

Yes, nothing in your life is as it used to be. There are all these new things to learn, to do, you lack sleep and time for yourself, your partner and all the things you liked to do (like cooking for example – hahaha!!). But when these things start to stress me out I take a deep breath, look at Zoe and become aware of this incredible love and the miracle of life.  The rest I can work on…

No more time for yourself? I’m a big believer in the saying “You have to be happy to make others happy”. So I asked my husband for two outings a week. Be it a gentle restorative yoga class or a healing massage for my aching shoulders and back (hello, night feeds!) – I think us mummies deserve it and have to full right to ask for these little breaks if somehow feasible. For the times he can’t make it (that’s life) we started introducing a babysitter two weeks ago (heart breaking at first but also very liberating). I’m telling you, these are the little things which keep me sane, healthy, relaxed and happy so I can spend all the love and energy on our little bundle of joy just as she deserves❤

No more time to cook? Yes, I know – I actually love to cook. But I only realize now with how much peace and time I used to cook. In the past, after I finished work, I had plenty of time to think about new dishes to try, to go to different places to get ingredients, invite friends for dinners and brunches or to just spend an evening in with some red wine, cooking and experimenting with new things. Well, not for now and the near future I guess😉 But you know what? It doesn’t always have to be like that. Things in our kitchen are getting more simple (even though I always thought I do simple food but still). So when Zoe is napping during the day and I (occasionally) have some energy left, I started cooking bigger batches of food (think soups, sauces, roasted veg) which can be stored or frozen and heated up whenever we need it and we’re too exhausted to cook (which is most of our evenings, ha!)

Also, I use the opportunity and free time to eat out more often! Like this we get a good walk, social time AND – food. Thank god there are some really nice affordable places around here like Mint, Gabbana, Pure, Grassy Hopper just to name a few. So keep your eyes open and also reach out to other people! Babies are a great topic to start a conversation, which brings me to my next point…

No more social life? Yep, even though a baby keeps you busy you suddenly have a lot of free time to spend with your baby. Many of my mummy friends with older kids confessed to me that they got very bored at home, started feeling lonely and thus felt depressed at some stage which isn’t of advantage for anyone, your baby, your partner and yourself.

This challenge is even more difficult if you’re expats like us with no family around and most of your mummy friends go back to work very early (as it’s common here in Malta and many other countries unfortunately). So what to do?? I for myself started reaching out and researching for new activities from the moment I felt recovered from birth (maybe 3-4 weeks after). And you would be surprised how much you find! Why not staying in touch with some people you met at pregnancy yoga or your parentcraft course? Call a mummy-friend which you haven’t seen in a long time and see if you still get along or even better now, that you’re both in the same boat? Also try to stay active. We did a lovely Baby Massage course which Zoe loved and my hubby and I now use the techniques every night for our evening routine. Also, we’re attending a Baby Sensory course where we all learn lots of fun activities to help and strengthen our babies senses (think sounds, colors, textures etc.). In January we want to start with mummy and baby yoga and swimming classes and there is much more to check out in the new year! Just don’t overdo it, otherwise you start feeling overwhelmed which is the last thing you want. For me personally two activities a week are enough but everybody is different of course… What counts in the end is that courses are lots of fun and also a great opportunity to meet new people! Of course you won’t always resonate with all (just because we’re all mummies doesn’t mean you’ll be friends with everyone) but you will surely meet some lovely people on the way which might become good friends one day:)

So this is it so far.. my first conclusions and learnings from the first two months as a mummy! And of course this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t share something culinary with you in the end. This time it’s a review about a lovely place which I discovered after one of my baby sensory classes in Balzan. The Villa Kitchen in Attard (Malta).

The Villa Kitchen

The Villa Kitchen

Actually I’ve heard about this place several times and I’ve been wanting to check it out in a while. I was never sure if it’s only open temporarily or only in summers but now that I’m in this area every week for our class, this was the chance to check it out! The Villa Kitchen is on the grounds of the beautiful Villa Bologna with their stunning gardens. Also The Veg Box, a small shop for organic vegetables, run by the sweet Emanuela, can be found there. So think gorgeous old Maltese buildings, olive trees, pink Bougainvillea flowers, small patches of vegetables of all kinds and lots of space, peace and quiet. A haven so to say. You can access the Villa Kitchen either from the pottery shop which Villa Bologna is known for, or through the big iron gate of The Veg Box if you have a pram like me.

Very often this is all a place can offer: location. Not with The Villa Kitchen. Run by Marina, a lovely lady who’s originally from Sweden, this place is boasting of charm. It’s very cosy and informal. More like your auntie’s kitchen/ living room (or like you wish it would be in your dreams – ha!)
When we arrived a friend of Marina, Patricia, stood in for her and gave us a super warm welcome. After our first moments of delight having found this place and hungry as only breastfeeding mummies can be, we immediately asked for food which is always different there every day. Patricia offered us freshly cinnamon buns from the oven and told us that she was just preparing a fresh quiche with kale from the gardens for lunch. Of course we wanted all of it! So we started backwards. Cinnamon buns and coffee to start with and quiche with fresh salad for later😀 The babies got fed first and then happily dozed off into their nap while we entered foodie heaven. Not only the buns with their yummy caramel crust were exquisite, but when we spotted the pumpkin risotto and lampuki (which was prepared on order) on the table next to us of course we couldn’t resist trying that either. Accompanied by freshly baked bread there was absolutely NO other place in the world we wanted to be right then! It was simply a feast.. the quiche warm and with a lovely creamy inside, the home-baked bread, still warm with some lovely olive oil, the fresh rucola salad from the garden topped with edible savin flowers, the risotto rich and creamy with hints of curry and sunflower seeds – it was all so simple, yet original and presented in such a pretty way with a big portion of passion and love for what they do. Cooking simple home-made local food.

Marina, a big well done! you’ll definitely see me around more often and I’m more than happy to spread the word for you.

Foodies, don’t miss this place when you’re visiting Attard and don’t forget to combine it with a walk in the wonderful San Anton Gardens.

Big love,

N xx