Monday, 13 November 2017

Granola - Homemade Lactation Oat, Cranberry and Nuts


Lactation Granola 


As a new mum, especially the first time around one thing you are never sure of is if your baby is getting enough milk and as they start to grow and you realise that you are managing to feed them comes the growth spurts or leaps or wonder weeks where they spend what seems like the entire day feeding. One great way to try and keep up your milk supply without having to make much effort is to make this delicious homemade Granola. I ended up putting off making this as I thought it would take a long time but actually it was quick and now I try and make a batch up each Sunday evening so I am all ready for the week ahead.
Its delicious over yoghurt with extra fruit added too. I make a non lactation version too for the rest of the family just without the brewers yeast, the recipe is very flexible too so feel free to change up the added nuts and fruits to it.

Granola



Pre heat the oven to 150 Fan, Gas Mark 2, 300 F and line a large flat oven tray with greaseproof paper
3 Cups Rolled Jumbo Oats
1 Cup Sliced Almonds
1 Cup Walnut Pieces
2 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed Meal
1 Tbsp. Brewers Yeast
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Sea Salt Flakes
1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup Dried Dates chopped
2 Tbsp. Cocoa Nibs
 1.Chop up all nuts
 2.Combne Nuts, Oats, Flaxseed, Yeast and Sea Salt
 3.Melt Coconut Oil and Combine with Honey and Vanilla
 4. Mix wet ingredients with the dry and lay in a thin even layer over the baking sheet
 5.Bake for around 30 minutes until golden brown and stir every 10 minutes
 6. Once cooled add the dried fruit and cacao nibs



 7.Store in an airtight container and enjoy.




Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Bubs2 Birth Story and our Journey into a Family of Four


Bubs2 Birth Story


As I sit here looking down at this little new face I find it overwhelming how much you can love another baby after giving all you thought you had to your first but somehow your just filled with double the amount again and again.
It's 3.30am on night one and Bubs2 has been up nearly every hour feeding since her dramatic entrance into this world, I don't remember Bubs eating this much on his first day but it's great to see her having a big appetite especially since she weighs in at a diddly 5lbs 7oz.


Saturday 11.55pm

So how did this little bundle get here - lets rewind back 28 hours to around midnight on Saturday night. Due to our ongoing loft extension me and Bubs had moved out and were staying at my parents house. Mr s had joined us for dinner but left around 11.55 to go back to our place. My waters broke whilst lying in bed around midnight and I immediately called him to come right back over but armed with the hospital bags this time. My brother had predicted they would break around 4.00am so his guess was very close, strangely both times I have gone into labour after eating chicken and mushroom pie, not on the standard lists of ways to induce labour but it seems to have worked for me - twice.

I was originally booked in for a planned c- section which was in the diary for the upcoming Thursday, so as soon as my waters broke I called the hospital who said as it was a very busy night there would be no doctors or theatres available until the earliest at 6am. I could come into the hospital or wait at home until this time, opting for the latter instead. At my last consultant appointment I was prescribed anti sickness medicine in case my waters broke earlier to prevent me from getting dehydrated like last time, after Mr S third trip back home to finally bring me all needed, I managed to take the drugs and glad to say they worked! No sickness this time around!!

Sunday 5.00am

Similar to my first labour my contractions came pretty regularly and strong soon after my waters had broken. Using the birth ball, massage and a hot water I managed to stay at home labouring until around 5am. It was strange labouring in the house I grew up in l, whilst watching my firstborn fast asleep on the baby monitor still looking very much like a baby himself - like doing a full circle in life. By this point I was contracting every 3-4 minutes and the intensity was becoming unbearable, so off we drove to the hospital mainly so I could get something a bit stronger than a paracetamol in me.

We arrived at hospital around 5.30 and the triage nurse said it's best for me to go straight up to get prepared and to continue to insist on my c section as it was likely I would have the same outcome as my first labour.
We were quickly admitted to a small room in the labour ward, not like the larger modern room we had first time round as the midwives were only going to prep me ahead of theatre. I was given some pre op drugs and Mr S was handed his scrubs while we were told to wait for the doctor to assess me.


I also requested my favourite medicine ever at this point, gas and air so for me after this point everything in life went a little fuzzy - I love the floating feeling you get from it and you end up removed from the pains and all the drama going on in the room too.

Sunday 6.30am

The nurses tried to get an IV line into me for a canula to be used during surgery but as is often the case for me they found it very difficult to find a vein in either arm, all this delay meant it was not until around 6.30am when the doctor arrived.

The worst part of being in labour for me is being examined and even though I wanted a C-section she explained she had to do this to check how dilated I was,  since a lot of my pains were across my back still I was convinced the baby was back to back however she said she was around 80% sure the baby was not back to back this time and ordered an ultra sound to be sure. 
The results showed I was now around 5cm dilated and in active labour, the doctor explained that as it was my second pregnancy things could move quickly now and wanted me to try to deliver naturally. I remember doing some kind of deal with her involving a guarantee my baby was not back to back and receiving an epidural if we were going down this path. 

However Bubs2 had her own plan and within around 30 minutes I was fully dilated,  and in the time it took for the sonographer to come up to the room, she wanted to make her entrance into this world.  Before I knew what was going on I was pushing with all the strength I had, completely forgetting most of my classes from being pregnant first time around. The hardest part of pushing was remembering not to breath at the same time. I vaguely remember midwives and Mr S trying to get me to lay off the gas and air to concentrate on using the contractions to push but with they being the only pain relief I had it stayed firmly in my hand!

The small room was soon filled with people and I was quickly administered a local anaesthetic and the doctor informed us she was going to do an episiotomy in order to use forceps to help Bubs2 out. I continued to use gas and air and with what felt like the biggest sh*t you've ever taken in your life, out came our little bundle. Not the most poetic way to put it but the truest way to describe it. 


Sunday 7.30am

She was immediately placed on my belly but with me still being fairly high and with the speed that everything had happen I was still asking the staff for my epidural. I was in a state of complete shock for at least 5 minutes not quite able to believe my baby had arrived within around an hour after my first examination I was holding little Bubs2, this was so different to my first prolonged labour. Since deciding on a planned c, I had not even prepared for a natural birth, thankfully the first time around I had done several classes in prep and remembered some of the breathing techniques for contractions but all the pushing breaths were completely forgotten and I just went with it. All the staff were great and really helped even in my crazy labour state they managed to deliver Bubs2 safely and quickly.


My experience after giving birth was also a very different to first time. An injection is administered into your thigh to help with the placenta which comes out in a similar way to the baby whilst having a contraction, also these don't stop straight away after delivering so I held Bubs2 in one hand and my trusty friend gas and air in the other. We were asked if we wished to keep our placenta but declined, not feeling any recipe inspiration personally for cooking it up.

The doctor then examined me again to make sure all the placenta had come out and topped up my general anaesthetic before stitching up my episiotomy, this was quite a slow process and took around 10 minutes, towards the end I could feel each stitch going in and out. 


After I was all stitched up our midwife came back in and reintroduce herself as she had come in during the crazy pushing part and wasn't sure I remembered her, I didn't so this was a good start. She helped clean me up, changed all the sheets and removed the part inserted cannula that never got used in the end. She then arranged the obligatory tea and toast which was well needed by both me and Mr S, luckily he had brought in the snack bag too so we celebrated Bubs2 arrival with a Kinder BonBon. 


We were then left to do skin to skin and nap for around an hour before the midwife returned and helped me have a shower, it was great to be able to stand up straight away and feel human again, she was really sweet and helped get all the blood off, giving birth is messy business. I then got into some comfy pjs before being moved down to the post natal ward. 

Sunday 11.00am

Both kids have been born on Sundays which is helpful as no-one is at work so after an hour or so on the ward Bubs2 steady stream of visitors began arriving, including her Big Bro. His initial reaction to her was great but to be honest he was more interested in the presents she had gotten him, they had a few cuddles and after explaining I wouldn't be going home tonight with him he toddled off with his new presents. He is very lucky that we have a lot of family close by who he is very attached too but the hardest part for him was probably when both me and Mr S stayed at the hospital, it did not last long though as he met more family and got more gifts on his way out. If there is ever a time to use bribery and chocolate this is it. 


Although partners are allowed to stay on the ward Mr S headed home to see to Bubs and make sure everything was ready for him to go to nursery tomorrow too, so me and Bubs2 settled in for our first night of fun, I hoped I would get a bit of rest as the night before I had been labouring and during the day had been non stop visitors but no such luck. So we partied all night long whilst changing nappies, feeding and trying to rock her back to sleep ..... rather than fall asleep myself I though I would write this all down. 


Again this was not the birth I planned for but the result was beautiful and to be able to hold her in my arms is the best feeling ever, knowing she will not be this small for long and has a whole lifetime of learning, adventure and fun awaiting her. 






Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Jamavar Restaurant Review

Jamavar Restaurant Review - A Culinary Jewel of The Leela in Mayfair, London. 

This is a very overdue review that I have been meaning to write up for so long and I finally finished. Its amazing how some tasks in life get unpritorised with kids. For Mr S's Birthday earlier this year we went for lunch at the then newly opened Jamavar Restaurant. Owned by the prestigious Leela Places group from India, it is part of six restaurants they run outside the Indian Sub-continent. 
Having travelled around India over the last 15 years, I can say this restaurant does capture the same elegance, class and ambiance of the hotels and restaurants in some of the finest 5* hotels in India. All that is missing is a flower garland upon entry :). I love India and one of ehe big things that stands out  for me when visiting is the level of service, as is similar in the rest of Asia guests are revered and nothing is ever too much trouble. For example if you go shopping and buy an Indian outfit, this will first be sent off to be finished for finer details and sizing adjustments, before being packaged beautifully and then couriered over to your home or hotel. A bit different to having to carry your own shopping bags as I am so used to. 

Service

The service at Jamavar was very reminiscent of this attention to detail and was reflected in our dining experience from the outset. Due to my baby brain, we ended up being over an hour late to the booking as I did not check for tube cancellations at the weekend, despite spending most of my week commuting on the tube. As most of the lines happened to be closed we instead choose to take a cab which inevitably meant sitting in a lot of traffic on the way into London. 
The restaurant was very accommodating in being able to hold our table and still ensure we were able to enjoy all the courses in the 4 course lunch tasting menu by bringing the first two starters at the same time together so we were able to taste as much as possible.


First Impressions 

From the outside the restaurant does not look very different to others in Mayfair with dark wood windows and curtained doors and windows, it is only once you walk through the door and heavy velvet curtain you see the opulent decor hidden away.


Big comfortable dining chairs with several booth options are available and in the centre of the room is a huge stone carved bar. The decor reminds me very much of colonial clubs during the time of the British Raj, the dark wood, natural stone and large ornate paintings hanging from panelled walls. 

                                      

Child Friendly

I do not think all restaurants need to accommodate children, this is a stunning, modern, high end Indian in the heart of Londons Mayfair. Their key cliente is not families, much more aimed at couples and groups of friends, saying that however they went out of their way to make Bubs feel like a special part of the meal. A few points to note which were not an issue for us but could be for younger children, at the time we visited they did not have any highchairs, Bubs is fine to sit in a normal chair and even all the many cuddly toys and hand puppets he took to lunch were made to feel important at the table. The bathrooms are also located in the basement with no baby changing facilities when we visited, again this was fine for us but maybe not if you have kids under 2s. In terms of food we ordered Bubs a paratha - grilled flatbreads with a thick homemade yoghurt which he throughly enjoyed, he also picked at our mains too. I believe if you are going to visit certain types of restaurants you have to be a bit flexible in what you expect in terms of baby friendly facilities, we were able to enjoy a delicious family lunch in regal surroundings but it might not be for everyone.

Food 

At lunchtime they have a great deal on, offering 4 courses for £30. A brilliant way to sample lots of different items on the menu without spending a huge amount. I thought it was great value for money for the amount of quality food you get, surroundings and service and would definitely recommend choosing this offer.

Starters
For drinks I ordered one of the speciality lassis, opting for a mango and date flavour, very delicious and cooling; after the intense journey we had into London this was very welcomed into my pregnant belly. 
Mr S started with an Indian Beer and Bubs went for his favourite sparkling water off the menu. 

Mango and Date Lassi

Due to us being late we had our two starters together rather than as seperate courses, opting for the Samosa Chat, Achari Pork, Stone Bass Tikka and Lamb Seekh Kebab. My favourite and the most innovative dish out of these being the Achari Pork, perfectly balance with a crispy puff pastry, tangy pickled garlic and warmly spiced pork. The samosa chat, stone bass tikka and lamb seekh were all done really well, balancing the familiar homely tastes I have grown up with along with more modern touches such as avocado chutney and a mixed sprouts chaat salad.

Achari Pork

Seekh Kebab and lentils

Samosa Chat

Stone Bass and Avocado Chutney

I think this opinion also sums up the mains, very traditional dishes and flavours that have been modernised without comprising on what makes them great dishes in the first place. For example the Butter Chicken, a curry house favourite know for the mild creamy sauce was executed perfectly with soft poached chicken. As I am used to big flavours, I loved that Jamavar is true to these.

Mains, Butter Chicken, Rice, Naan Bread, Dum Aloo and Dhal


Desert
For desert we ended the meal with a Rhubarb Chuski Falooda, one of my all time Indian favourite deserts, this was a completely new take on it combining the very British tart taste of Rhubard with saffron, rabri (similar to dense condensed milk) and rose - all very classic Indian flavours with a delicious twist.

Rhubarb Chuski Falooda
The Poached Pear was cooked perfectly and balanced with a slight savoury peppercorn ice cream. The meal ended on a high with the heavenly flavours of desert.

Poached Pear

Final Thoughts


In summary the food at Jamavar was delectable, they managed to preserve the true tastes and emotions you experience when travelling around India, whilst paying homage to more modern cooking techniques and flourishes from being located in London. For me it was perfect combination and most importantly everything tasted great, there is nothing I hate worst than mediocre food and flavours. I would highly recommend this restaurant and look forward to our return visit soon. 



Final Thoughts 









Saturday, 26 August 2017

Roka Aldywch Restaurant Review - a great child friendly weekend brunch

For Fathers Day, this year Mr S said he did not want any presents, pretty much what he says every year. Normally advise which I ignore and still buy him something, last year I got him and my dad a whisky tasting kit I put together for them to have a whisky tasting evening which never did end up happening. 

Other presents over the years have included ties, belts, wallets, beard trimmers, personalised keyrings, numerous ' Not on the high street' prints etc. We have been together a long time now and after all those birthdays, anniversaries, christmas and now fathers days to be honest there is not really anything he needed so I decided for once to listen to him and let Bubs give him the beautiful creations he made at nursery instead for fathers day.  One man shaped keyring, and voodoo doll shaped card complete with paper tissue tie - everything a Papa could ever want for. 

Instead I decided to book us a family brunch at Roka, a restaurant which I have been to several times before but Mr S has not had the joy of sampling yet. Knowing he loves asian food I knew he would be happy with this as a present instead and it meant we got to enjoy fathers day afternoon together in London.


I chose Roka Aldwych as I had heard great reviews from friends and it was a lot closer to our home than the other branches, as it was a Sunday we choose to drive into London and got parking right outside the restaurant which was a bonus given the heat that day and the large belly I have being carrying around this summer. 


The weekend brunch at the Aldwych branch works by having a selection or starters that are brought to your table from which you can eat as much as you like just by ordering more. You are then able to choice one main from the robata or main kitchen menu followed by the desert platter for the table to share. I understand other branches may do things slightly different with a buffet option instead.
With regards to drinks you can either have unlimited wine throughout or a welcome Belini instead with no alcohol included, they were more than happy for me to swap my Belini for any mocktail on the menu instead, just one of the ways the restaurant was extra accomadting to me being pregnant. 

For starters we shared the following: 

Edamame
Japanese Pickles
Vegetable salad with sweet Yuzo Miso

Mushroom Salad with Sesame Miso 
Special no raw fish Sashimi 
Chef's Sashimi Selection 
Avocado and Gobo Maki 
Spicy Mixed Sashimi with Asparagus
Pork, Prawn and Vegetable Dumplings
Vegetable and Prawn Tempura - plus Skye, Marshall and a Digger


The stand out items for me particularly were the dumplings and tempura. I felt the Sushi and Sashimi selection for Mr S did not reflect the best options available from the a la carte menu, they were again great with me being pregnant and brought me my own non-raw fish version of both the sushi and sashimi.

For mains we choose the Beef Sirloin and Baby Chicken, both delicious the chicken in particular was grilled with a salty child miso sauce on top and had a really well balanced flavour along with crispy chargrilled skin.






Now I was impressed with the amount of effort they had gone to for me being pregnant, but I was even more astounded by how they cater for kids. 

After I booked the table, I contacted the restaurant to ask if it would be possible to order off the a la carte menu for Bubs as I knew he would be happy having rice, noodles, grilled fish etc but not so much with the sushi, sashimi and tempura, the restaurant replied saying they unfortunately do not offer the a la carte menu along with the brunch but there would not be any charge for Bubs to dine with us, I therefore assumed he would just be sharing our food with us. 

                                                 

This however was not the case, Bubs first received his very own Bento Box for starters containing a Spinach Salad, Green Noodles, Dumplings and Cucumber Maki. For mains he could then choose one main from the adults menu - he choose Teriyaki Salmon with Sticky Rice and ate it all up so quickly I forgot to take a picture. And then for desert alongside picking at our desert buffet he also received his own Ninja Shaped Vanilla Ice Lolly. 

I would not have immediately thought of Roka as being a child - friendly dining establishment but they were great with kids, all the staff loved engaging with him on his many walks around the restaurant and he was made to feel very special with all his own courses that were presented beautifully to him. We have been taking Bubs to restaurants since he was only a few weeks old but Roka has to be by far one of the best in terms of service, food and fun for kids. I would highly recommend it to any families visiting London and looking for a memorable dining experience for all. 

Bubs Bento Box

Bubs Ice Lolly Desert 
To finish our meal we enjoyed the desert platter complete with Chocolate Buddha, Raspberry and Matcha Panna Cotta, chocolate truffles, exotic fruits, ice creams and sorbet. Again it was all finger lickingly delicious and we polished it all, not leaving a scrap behind. 
Desert Platter

Overall we throughly enjoyed our brunch at Roka, the service went above and beyond, the food was all delicious and ambience was perfect for a lazy sunday afternoon. After eating so much we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Covent Garden before heading home to enjoy the rest of Fathers Day.