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 :)

Little Yogi

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 <3

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:

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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 <3

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 :D 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

The calm before the storm.. 

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Dar-Tal-Kaptan Gozo

Dar-Tal-Kaptan B&B, Ghasri Gozo

It’s already a week ago that we went to Gozo for our last little weekend trip before baby arrives and I don’t want to miss the chance to praise the cute gem which we found in Ghasri:  B&B Dar-Tal-Kaptan. Don’t miss to scroll down further for a yummy smoothie recipe and lots of book tips and recommendations how to help pregnancy the natural way.

Review B&B Dar-Tal-Kaptan
From the moment of your arrival, the hosts Peter & Warren spoiled us with their friendliness, a super cosy home with spacious rooms and lots and lots of attention to detail all over. The rooms are all decorated in different themes (ours was Serenity <3) and offer lots of privacy and comfort. We had our own little kitchenette with water, teas, coffee and a bowl of fresh fruit in the fridge waiting for us. The views from our room and own terrace were just lush and green and perfect for a daily gently yoga session in the morning. Blissfulness and calm are the words which come up my mind when I remember these moments…

Breakfast let my foodie heart beat faster. Next to all the usual things like cold cuts and cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, yoghurts, muesli etc Warren made us a different healthy smoothie with interesting combinations in his Vitamix and freshly prepared eggs every day. When you decide to just chill and read at the pool like us (see book tips below), you’ll get cold flavored water with fresh herbs from the garden (think rosemary and lemons) and a little surprise during the day like slices of frozen melon (such a simple and yummy idea!) or an organic apple sorbet.  Peter and Warren are always up for an interesting chat when you feel like it but give you total privacy at the same time. With joy I remember inspiring conversations about food, yoga and traveling… :) It was the perfect place for us to just relax in their wonderful garden, paddle on a lilo in the refreshing pool or reading on a sun bed in the shade and enjoying the sound of the palm trees in the wind and the green around us.

To guarantee absolute relaxation the B&B generally has a no child policy but when you book all 3 rooms you can bring children which we’ll definitely try to organize with our friends in the future.

Thanks for an absolutely wonderful weekend, guys! We’ll surely remember it forever and will try to come again soon :)

The Calm Before The Storm Smoothie
Of course I also had to recreate a bit of a twisted version of Warren’s smoothies, so here comes a yummy new recipe for a healthy smoothie.

Next to lots of goodieness from organic wheatgrass powder (alkalizing), cinnamon (good for digestion), I added my chocolate pregnancy vitamin protein powder, so if you’re not pregnant please take raw cacao and a protein powder of your choice instead (e.g. pea or hemp)

Chocolay green smoothie

What you need..
(1 portion)

  • 1/2 a banana (if you don’t have one at home, I always keep chopped up frozen ones in the fridge – you never know when you feel like the next raw banana ice cream hehe..)
  • 1 cup of milk of your choice (I used organic brown rice but you can take almond, soy, oat or even organic cow’s milk if you drink it)
  • 3 tablespoons of chocolate protein powder (I used this pregnancy powder throughout the whole pregnancy which was great, but you can also just use your favorite protein powder and add 2 teaspoons of raw cacao)
  • 2 tablespoons of wheatgrass (or any other greens like spirulina, chlorella etc.)
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon

What to do..
Easy peasy – put it all in your blender, mix for a minute and enjoy :)

 

Books and other pregnancy tips

Book tip: Bountiful, beautiful, blissful

Book tip: Bountiful, beautiful, blissful

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation
This book is pure bliss and positivity for the bump, heart and soul, even if you’re not into yoga and mediation – I promise. Recommended by my lovely Prenatal Yoga Malta teacher Sarah at the wonderful freemyme in Sliema.

The Gentle Birth Method: The Month-by-month Jeyarani Way Programme
Lots of helpful tips about visualization, relaxation, nutrition and especially holistic recommendations for each week e.g. which areas of the body to work on with reflexology. Talking of reflexology: if you’re lucky to be in Malta go and get some appointments with Cat from Butterfly Therapies, nothing makes you calmer and more centered :)

Die Hebammensprechstunde (freely translated “Consultation-hour with a midwife”)
Recommended by German speaking friends this book is like the bible of natural oriented midwives. Full of tips about herbs, teas, essential oils, homeopathy etc. So so happy I listened and bought it! So far in German only which is a real pity – maybe I should approach the author and propose to market it in English speaking countries ;) Many of the herbal tea and oil mixes you can even buy in pharmacies in Austria and Germany so I asked my mum to send me some. But at least I found some good sources for homeopathy and essential oils here in Malta as well if you’re looking for some get in touch with the lovely homeopath Ashley from Tigne Holistic Centre or the always helpful Charlene from Soap Cafe.

The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting
Only in the beginning stages and partly a bit extreme but I get the idea of introducing a routine and will maybe take out some elements (some others definitely not ;)

This list of recommendations would not be complete without mentioning Robert Grech from Osteopathy Malta who helped me several times with an existing hip issue which came up again during my pregnancy and was sorted out completely within a few appointments. Yep, you don’t have to suffer physically, just because you’re pregnant – just get help and do something against it!

Also, thank you to Dini Martinez, a lovely friend, yoga teacher and experienced doula who travels the world with her family on a sailing boat (check out Sailing Yoga Family) for holding a great workshop on pregnancy and birth a few months ago which was really inspiring and helpful, too!

Last but not least I also want to say that I’m really impressed and positively surprised by the 7-week-parentcrafts-course organized by the Malta Midwives which is available for free at Mater Dei Hospital. I didn’t expect a lot and took out heaps and heaps of great information. Keep up the great job ladies!

What a network of wonderful people I have in my life, aye? Feeling really blessed and grateful to have you all here on this little island <3

Now all I can say is that I’m super excited and I hope all these preparations will help our big event ahead and maybe help some of you, too. Of course you can never really be fully prepared and everything can always go differently all the time but in the end I think it helps to know what’s gonna happen, what you can do to help to do it the natural way and to tell yourself you prepared yourself as good as you can.

Let’s just hope it will all go well with the final spurt, birth and afterwards and I’ll definitely keep you posted.. One thing I know for sure, it was an amazing process and experience so far and I’m super grateful for all the love around me (you know who you are!), all the things I learned so far and look forward to the new chapter ahead!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the blog or the nadisunshine FB page.

 

Lots of love & good vibes, especially to all the other mummies to be out there <3
N xxx

Shhhht! Why has it been so quiet in here? About magical surprises, love and of course food.. 

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Yep, I confess I’m guilty. I haven’t been blogging in quite a while and while some of you might not have noticed as my nadisunshine Facebook page (give LIKE it if you haven’t done so yet) is still regularly updated, some others might have noticed a break in posting my own recipes here, on my blog. First, sorry for that! Second, I had a very good excuse for it :) The reason, how it often does, lay in my belly. Not a bad gut, nor a sudden lack of appetite – nope, it was a very simple but also magical reason: nadisunshine is getting a baby <3

Next to this wonderful miracle I also got married to the love of my life recently (which was planned long time before) so you can imagine lots and lots of changes were suddenly coming up in our lives! Not only the idea of becoming a parent, a big life change ahead etc. but also it really affected my big passion of food and cooking. If you still wonder why, let me explain my journey of the last months a bit…

How it all started..

About a year ago I was looking for holistic approaches to boost my fertility in a natural way after we didn’t get pregnant for a while. My research lead me to traditional chinese medicine (TCM) and after joining some free online fertility summits I decided to join a  programme with a TCM practitioner in London starting in January 2015 for three months to bring my body in the best shape possible in a natural and holistic way. Also I knew I would be busy with preparing our wedding in June, so a baby wouldn’t be in the focus of my attention for the coming months ahead. It would rather be a preparation to get my body in best healthy shape for a baby after the wedding. As the story goes something typical happened! Many people often told me you’ll get pregnant when you least expect, just don’t focus on it. Ha, if that was so easy! But yep, I can only confirm it! Two weeks before I was about to start my programme (imagine lots of traveling, parties and Xmas drinking) I fell pregnant and I didn’t even realize/ think of it for a few weeks! Well, but it happened – just as everybody said!

The first trimester – an adventure

Slow cooker beef chili with lots and lots of vegAfter consulting with my TCM practitioner I decided to do the programme anyways as it’s also highly beneficial for the first trimester in pregnancy which is the most risky part of pregnancy normally. Sounded perfect, but then the tricky part started.. Next to a specific herb mix which my TCM practitioner sent me regularly, I had to change my diet drastically. I was very lucky not to suffer from nausea ever (Yay! Thank you universe!) but I was very, very tired for the first three months. Not the best conditions for putting my usual diet upside down! For optimal fertility and pregnancy TCM believes in  keeping the body warm.  So no more raw juices and smoothies, salads etc as according to TCM they are cooling down the body. But this wasn’t even the hardest part for me… In TCM meat, especially red, long cooked meat, ideally grass fed and organic is the wonder weapon for fertility and pregnancy (so think stews, broths, thick soups, casseroles etc). On top of that I was told to have it every day! At least some bone broth. Phew! You have no idea how hard that was for me… It was. Really and truly harder than I ever thought. All my cooking and shopping routines, creating new recipes and inventing new creations – all was suddenly stuck! The only chance I had was – like in the very early days – to consult my mum via the phone regularly, get input and explanations, ideas and recipes to try (bless her!). I had to research different types (and names!) of meat and moreover find a trustworthy butcher here in Malta (not so easy like at home in Austria where organic local meat is available very easily). Not such a cool task when you work and feel dead tired all day anyways.

Home made bologneseHowever, I somehow mastered it and at some stage kind of got used to it and I must say I think it was really, really worth it. My tiredness improved and I had a very pleasant and easy pregnancy. My test results were always great and while many mummy friends almost couldn’t believe how well I was, even my hubby and I got used to all the warming and strengthening kind of food we had all winter when it’s getting really unpleasant here in Malta (yep, you read right – it’s damp, cold and houses are horribly insulated and without central heating). Once again, as always in life you do get used to new circumstances.. I made lots of soups with bone broth, bolognese, Greek dishes with beef and aubergines, got a slow cooker for chilis and still always sneaked lots and lots of good veggies inside. As you can tell from the list above minced grass-fed beef was the easiest for me to handle.

Back to the (veggie) roots

Soon my first trimester was over and I decided to not continue with the programme as it’s unfortunately quite expensive. Anyways, it was definitely worth it, I learned a lot and always – aways! – felt in the best of best hands for any question I had, be it pregnancy or diet related. I felt energetic and strong, safe, protected and well taken care of and so did my hubby who thankfully always supports and appreciates me and my interest & experimenting in healthy cooking :)

Well and now, already in my third trimester and meanwhile married to my big love with a beautiful baby bump I must say it was a really interesting ride so far! Being pushed in cold waters to change was once again really good for me.. I learned new things, adjusted and now found a new, healthy middle way. I now understand from the TCM perspective that meat can be a very powerful and strengthening medicine (there is a reason why after birth and when you’re sick as a child you were given bone broths) and I learned that as much as I love raw food, juices, smoothies and salads it’s not the most beneficial when it’s cold outside and especially when you’re planning to get a baby what you want in your belly is a warm, cosy nest for your little one. Once again I was reassured in buying local and seasonal (normally your local foods fit the temperature you need, meaning they have a cooling or warming effect) and pushed to learn more about food as a medicine.

The end.. not quite yet

Well, now we’re in the middle of summer here in Malta and it’s steaming hot outside. So obviously I’m back to a lot of raw foods, salads, cold soups and juices – but now it makes sense as my body desperately needs to cool off. In exactly 6 weeks we await the arrival of our little one and I can’t tell you how excited and at the same time nervous I am. For the first time ever my life is full of question marks.. who will our life be with a baby? Will I still love my life as much as I do now? How will it affect our wonderful relationship and how will my life change career wise? All I can do now is surrender to the change ahead and trust in the universe – and as always, believe in the fact that change means development and growing <3

I really want to thank my lovely hubby for being so sweet and patient and always being there for me…
My mum who is always giving me advise and ideas and mainly unconditional love..
My dad for his incredible generousity and endless interest in me and my life..
The universe for sending us our booboo (baby’s nickname as we still keep the gender a surprise)..
My wonderful friends for always being there for me (and sometimes gently pushing me back to blogging ;-)
And all the lovely people who still follow my blog and like my Facebook page (with numbers growing even though I didn’t even blog anymore!) – I promise, I’ll try to keep up with it again!

Now back to cooking..

Fig energy balls

Enough chit chat – now finally back with a recipe which I loved a lot lately as it gives me an immediate energy kick on top of many healthy benefits (mainly iron, proteins) which baby and I need a lot of these days…

CHOCOLATY FIG ENERGY BALLS

What you need….
2 cups of dried figs (chopped and soaked)
1 cup of dates (chopped and soaked)
1 cup of cashew nuts
1 cup of ground almonds
1 table spoon of cacao nibs & raw cacao each
1 tea spoon of vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

What to do…
Start by soaking the dried fruit for a few hours or over night. If you only have a normal processor like me this is crucial not to damage your gear (even though it would be the perfect excuse to finally get a Vitamix, I know ;). Drain the chopped and soaked fruit and put them in the blender with vanilla essence, raw cacao, pinch of salt until well combined. It’s fine if there are still some chunkier pieces inside. Add the chashew nuts until they are broken in small bits. Then add ground almonds  until you reach a consistency which is nice to roll into balls (you will feel if you need a bit more to make them stick better).  In the end add the cacao nibs, give it a last mix (by hand) and roll the mix into little balls. Store in a box for at least a week. This makes quite a lot so spread the yumminess with your friends :)

Enjoy & sending lots of love,
Nxx

Winter warming Chai & Chia smoothie

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Do you also love smoothies? Throughout the spring, summer and autumn a delicious smoothie with fresh local fruit or vegetables pimped up with some super foods are part of my daily life. This unfortunately changes drastically when the temperatures get colder.. Yes, also here in Malta it can get extremely uncomfortable, chilly and cold. (Don’t ask for details or I won’t stop talking about how much I miss my Austrian central and underfloor heating – ahhh!)

Anyways, as soon as it gets colder my smoothie love changes into tea addiction and somehow it was obvious that a warm smoothie with my favorite tea had to be created. The result was a Chai Chia Smoothie which gets his special kick by adding warming spices such as fresh ginger, cinnamon and cardamom but also energizing substance through Chia seeds and almond butter. So it’s warming, comforting and is a real energy boost at the same time! But try it for yourself …

winter warming chai chia smoothie

What you need…
(Ingredients for 2 smoothies)

1 hot cup of your favorite chai tea ( I like Chai Vanilla or Chai Red Bush)
1 cup warm nut milk (almond, coconut or soy)
2 teaspoons of chia seeds (soaked over night in water or chia tea)
1 pinch of ground cinnamon
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
1 ground cardamom capsule (Attention, the shell belongs to the bin ;) alternatively use ground cardamom
2 teaspoons almond butter
1 tablespoon molasses sugar syrup (particularly high in iron, magnesium and folic acid), if you can’t get that use honey, agave or maple syrup
4 dates

What to do…
Blend all ingredients in the blender . Voila – here’s your first warm smoothie :)

Love,
N xx

P.S. I want to dedicate this recipe to my friends P and R from Vienna who were brave enough to quit their jobs and set up their own company for super foods in Germany, Austria and Italy. Guys – you rock and are an inspiration! If you want to check out their Facebook page (in German only) go and check out Green Panda – Superfoods with love. I wish you all the best of luck with it!!

Vegetarian Yoga Retreat Recipes. Nadisunshine goes Gozo.

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Nadisunshine goes Michelle Bartolo Yoga Retreat

Nadisunshine goes Michelle Bartolo Yoga Retreat

Before we all dive into the yearly xmas craziness it’s time to share some of the recipes I cooked at Michelle Bartolo’s yoga retreat in Gozo earlier this month. Whenever you feel like you’ve overindulged, which happens to most of us at this time of the year, take a day or two (or three ;)) in between to balance it out again and get rid of all the acidity and toxins in your bodies. Keep it really light, avoid all processed sugars, dairy, alcohol and caffeine and stack up on veggies, fruits and grains. Start your day with warm lemon water, prepare yourself some healthy meals, drink lots of teas or water, do some yoga and mediation in the morning and/or evening and give your body and soul a little axtra love and time to recover.

Thanks again to my friend Michelle for giving me the opportunity to bring my cooking to you lovely yogis and yoginis! It was a pleasure to meet you and cook for you all :) If you’re interested in one of Michelle’s retreats, check out her website or Facebook page. I’ve been to many of her retreats in Gozo and can’t recommend this gift to yourself enough.

But now let’s get started with some of the healthy recipes of our yoga weekend.

Basil Booster - Nadisunshine goes Michelle Bartolo Yoga Retreat

Boosting Basil Smoothie
(serves 2-3)

What you need….

1 apple
1 orange
2 hands full of fresh basil
1 TS of maca powder
1 TS of spirulina or wheatgrass
500ml of water (or coconut water)
A tiny bit of coconut oil

Optional: if you like to give it some extra protein add some hemp or pea protein powder

Wash the apple and basil, peel the orange. Start filling the blender with the softer ingredients and then add the harder ones on top, like this it blends easier. Top up with water, add the rest and blend until smooth. 

More smoothie inspirations you can also find in my blog post Soulful Smoothies

 Morning muesli mix - Nadisunshine goes Michelle Bartolo Yoga Retreat

Morning muesli mix with with pomegranates & oranges

Making your own muesli mix is not only a healthy breakfast option but also very convenient in daily life. Get a big jar and prepare the mix once, it will last you for several weeks and you always have it handy in the morning :)

What you need….
(amounts depending on the size of your box, play with it!)

Oats (about 50% of the box, that’s the base)
Chia seeds
Whole almonds
Flax seeds
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Goji berries
Dried cranberries, mulberries, apple etc. (whatever you have and like)

Possible superfood additions
Cacao nibs
Maca powder
Baobab powder
Bee pollen

Possible toppings:
Cinnamon
Coconut flakes
Raw cacao powder

To prepare it:
A tiny bit of oil (I use cold pressed flax seed oil cause of the great amounts of omega 3)
Fresh fruit (I mostly try to go for local and seasonal)
Hot water or dairy free milk

What to do…

Mix all ingredients in a big box or jar (apart from the toppings). When you want to have breakfast, take out 3 table spoons per person in a little bowl (seems little but soaks up nicely), top it up with hot water or dairy free milk, let it stand for a bit (10min minimum, no maximum) and finally add some fruit, a drizzle of oil and toppings of your choice.

As I said, play with the mix – you can add or skip ingredients and see what you like best. Only the oats and chia seeds I wouldn’t skip as they are the base for a nicely soaked up muesli. Enjoy and have some great energetic mornings!

This recipe with some extra info you can also find in my blog post Our special morning muesli mix 

Nadisunshine's choco chia seed pudding

Nadisunshine’s choco chia seed pudding

Glutenfree choco chia pudding
(1 portion)

What you need…
1 empty jar (e.g. from jam, about 200ml)
2 table spoons of chia seeds (black, white or mixed, they all work fine)
Daily free milk like coconut or almond
1 small handful of goji berries (also other dried fruit works fine)
Some drops of organic vanilla essence (you can also play with different essences like
Orange blossom water or rose water another time :)
1 tea spoon of desiccated coconut
1 tea spoon of raw cacao
A tiny bit of your favorite natural sweetener like raw honey, agave sirup or maple sirup
Pear (or any other fruit you like) & cacao nibs as a topping

What to do..
Use any old jar with a lid. Mix the chia seeds with the milk and add all other ingredients apart from the pear. Close the lid tight, shake it well and let it rest for at least 60min. Shake it a couple of times in between to avoid clumping. If you find a clump, loosen it with a spoon/fork. After 30min you can already see how the seeds swell. The pudding gets thicker and thicker over time. I normally even put it in the fridge overnight so I have it ready for bfast.

As a result you’ll get a creamy pudding which can now be served in any kind of way. I warmed it up for you in the morning which is nice and comforting, especially in fall and winter. Garnish with pear and sprinkle with cacao nibs and enjoy your probably healthiest pudding ever! 

Chia pudding can also be a yummy desert or snack at any time of the day. Some more info and a different chia pudding recipe you can also find in this blog post

Curry & Coconut Butternut Squash Soup - Nadisunshine goes Michelle Bartolo Yoga Retreat

Butternut squash coconut curry soup
(2-3 portions)

What you need…
1 butternut squash
1 can of coconut milk (thick)
Curry
Tumeric
Cumin
Some ginger
A tiny bit of cayenne pepper (careful, it’s super hot!)
Yeast free vegetable stock
Best quality salt (I prefer pink Himalayan salt)
1 table spoon of coconut oil

For the topping:
Mixed seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin)
Coconut oil
Quarter of a lemon
Tamari Sauce (the healthier alternative to soy sauce)

What to do..
Peel pumpkin, remove the seeds and chop up roughly. Melt the coconut oil in a pot and start roasting the pumpkin. Top up with stock, coconut milk and add all spices. Let it simmer on medium heat for about 20min (or until soft). Switch off the heat and puree directly in the pot with your hand-held blender. If it’s too thick add a bit more stock. Season to taste with salt.

For the topping heat up a small frying pan on medium heat and start roasting the seeds with a tiny bit of coconut oil. After a little while squeeze the lemon and add tamarin but just enough so it’s soaked up. You don’t want it too liquid. Turn off the heat and sprinkle on the soup.

Additionally you can also roast some butternut squash slices in the oven and use them as a topping for your soup or on a nice side salad. I always love a bowl of greens with my soup. Just coat squash with a bit of coconut oil, sprinkle with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and roast it for about 20min at 190°Celsius.

More soup recipes you can find here…

Nadisunshine goes Michelle Bartolo Yoga Retreat

If you wish any other recipes of our weekend retreat, just let me know and I’ll happily post them at a later stage!

Lots of love & sunshine and may you get healthy and happy through the festive season!!!

N xx