Category: baby

Baby’s First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

I’ve been doing lots of research over the past few months in order to prepare for Nico’s transition into eating solid food. Nico is still about 98% breastmilk fed. He hasn’t been super into solids, but to me, that’s ok because I love nursing him! I’ve read a few books on the topic and consulted with my nutritionist, Margaret Floyd. I love her approach as it is filled with nutrient-dense, real food and also very practical. Margaret maneuvered through my autoimmune disease and has successfully helped me with the daunting task of introducing my Nico to solid foods

One of the first foods she recommends is bone broth. Bone broth, considered around the world as a health tonic, has been used for centuries as a healing food. As real food expert Nina Planck has stated, “it is digestible, nutritious and tasty. Broth is perfect for babies (Real Food for Mother and Babies, 2009).”

I adapted this recipe from my nutritionist Margaret’s original recipe. Margaret wrote her basic approach to introducing solid food here, and why bone broth is a great choice for babies!  Read up on it, and then cook up a pot of bone broth for you or baby!

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby’s First Bone Broth


 

Ingredients:

chicken bones, including the ligaments and joints (be sure to use bones from organic, pastured raised chickens)

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

filtered water


 

Directions:

Put the bones, vinegar, and salt into the stock pot. Cover with filtered water.

Bring to a boil and skim any foam off the top. The foam is just any impurities coming out of the bones. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t.

Reduce the heat on your stove to the lowest possible and gently simmer your broth for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours. The rule of thumb is the bigger the bones, the longer you need to simmer your broth. Make sure not to cook the broth at too high a temperature! It will denature some of the proteins and create natural MSG. We put the stove at the lowest temperature and just leave it for a couple of days.Strain out the bones and veggies, and either use

Strain out the bones and veggies, then either use immediately or store in a big glass jar in your fridge. It can last for a week.

The First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

The last seven months have been an absolute joy! Nico is a bright light in our lives and a constant reminder of the goodness and love new life brings. I wanted to share a bit about my recent transition from life as a wife and business owner into life as a new mom, wife, and business owner, and the balancing act therein.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Here’s a fun little background story: When my husband was a little boy, he told his mom she had an easy job. She was a stay at home mom with three boys, all close in age. Although she was slightly offended by Nick’s comment, she knew he would see for himself in the years to come. Boy, has he! We have now both witnessed the time and commitment babies bring.

If I’ve learned one thing during this journey, it is balance. Being a parent is a full-time job. I respect all of you who are participating in this noble duty. Add in the day job, and that’s another story. If I want to enjoy being a mother and a good partner to my husband while running a business, I’m learning that I need to seek balance every day in my life. My mentor once told me, ‘Balance does not come in a day, but over time.’ If Nick and I make daily choices to support a more balanced approach to life, we will eventually be in a beautifully balanced life.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Although days are filled with baby, meetings, house chores, emails and lots of baking for Sweet Laurel, I try to do at least one thing every day that’s for pure joy. For me, these activities include going for a walk, taking a yoga class or going in a sauna. I also get a lot of joy out of making dinner for my husband and I, which is a daily priority. I know this about myself and have learned to schedule my day accordingly. Obviously, there are days when this just can’t happen because of schedules, etc., but like I said, we strive for balance over time.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Nico has reminded me to stop and enjoy moments. When I am working at home and he is crawling around laughing at random things in the house, occasionally I will drop everything and just hang out with him for a bit. After all, he’s only going to be a precious baby for so long. I wanted to share these gorgeous family photos by my talented friend Elsie Dardon. She’s helping Nick and I document life with our Sweet Nico.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Enjoy these photos, and feel free to give me some advice about the motherhood balancing act or share your stories with me!

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Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Beautycounter is my go-to for all things safe beauty. I don’t wear a ton of make up, but when I do, everything I wear is from Beautycounter.  I am happy to say Beautycounter is a company we’ve worked with regularly at Sweet Laurel. They have partnered with us at events, hosted workshops with us and shared our recipes!

I trust their products, and can confidently wear them without worrying about toxic chemicals seeping through my pores. Recently, I’ve re-thought everything I put on my face and body because I’ve been pregnant and breastfeeding for the past year. Make up and beauty products tend to have ingredients that are highly toxic, and unfortunately the United States does not monitor what companies put into their products. For example, the European Union has banned 1,400 chemicals from use in beauty products. That means beauty and make up products are far safer in Europe then in America! Fortunately, Beautycounter has come to the scene here in the states. Their goal is to create beauty products that are safe to use, sans chemicals, with high quality, long lasting appeal. As you can see, I love Beautycounter and what they stand for.

I was overjoyed last year when I discovered Beautycounter launched a baby line! I got my hands on a couple of their products, and have already used them on Nico! Nico has sensitive skin, so I’m super careful with what I use for soap, lotion, etc. Fortunately, the products have worked great for Nico, and we both love using them!

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

I highly recommend the diaper rash cream and gentle all over wash. They also have this roomy diaper bag! I don’t know about you, but for me, I always need more room in my diaper bag. This one sure does the trick!

Something else I love about Beautycounter is how spot on their packaging is. Always simple, chic and beautiful. They nailed it! I hope you are able to get your hands on Beautycounter soon! I know you (and your baby) will be glad you did. xo, Laurel

Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding \\ Sweet Laurel

 

 

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School is back in session, and it is time for a quick and easy breakfast classic. Our favorite chia seed pudding is simple and nutritious. We start with delicious and organic coconut cream. Coconut cream is the solid coconut fat that firm up at the top of canned coconut milk. You can find canned Coconut Cream at grocery stores now with higher percentages of fat, and lower percentages of coconut milk, yielding more creamy deliciousness. If you cannot find coconut cream, feel free to use good canned coconut milk, with no additives. Simply scoop the solids from the top of the can for your use in this recipe.

And back to the chia seed pudding… I said it was simple, and I mean it’s simple! We mix the coconut cream with chia, slightly mashed berries, raw honey and lemon juice to create a satisfying and delightful breakfast or even a special after dinner treat!

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Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2

1 cup refrigerated coconut cream* (Lets Do Organic and Trader Joe’s both have delicious organic canned Coconut Creams)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries, lightly smashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients until well mixed. Pour into two 4 ounce glass jars and cover with lid. Store in fridge overnight. Serve with extra berries. Enjoy within 3 days.

* I always keep my coconut cream in the refrigerator. This is because I make a lot of coconut whipped cream and coconut yogurt. These recipes work better when the coconut is solid and not liquid. Refrigerating coconut milk causes the fat to rise to the top of the can and solidify.

Breastfeeding Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Breastfeeding is one of the best parts of this new chapter of life with Nico. There are so many things that go into having a baby, giving birth to a baby and recovering from having a baby. For me, breastfeeding was an instant comfort, and gave me stamina, and empowered me as a mother. After the trials and triumphs of pregnancy and birth, it’s one of those little kisses from heaven, I like to say.  Having the time to just sit and do nothing but feed your baby and look at him, watch him eat, cuddle with him or take a little nap with him all quickly become a great joy.

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Learning how to breastfeed is the hard part. It took a while for me to learn how to properly latch Nico, burp him, hold him and how to make sure he ate enough. I am really grateful I had some awesome lactation consultants at Cedar Sinai hospital, where I gave birth. Even on day one, Jessica, my lactation consultant, visited me regularly and walked me through the ins and outs of properly feeding my baby.

Something I’ve learned as a new mom is to ask for help. I used to be one of those people who tried to muscle through everything on my own, never asking others to alleviate my burdens. Now that I’m a mom, I literally have to ask for help!  Breastfeeding was a totally new experience for me, and quickly saw I’d need to seek help from others. Using lactation consultants is an absolute must! Even after I was discharged from the hospital, I still needed a bit of help, and thankfully was referred to the Pump Station in Santa Monica. There I was coached by Jessica (yes, same name as my first lactation consultant), and she truly empowered me in my capabilities as a breastfeeding mother. Jessica really helped me feel like successfully breast-feeding Nico during his first year (and hopefully second year) is something natural and attainable.

I saw the results of breastfeeding not only with Nico’s body, but my own. Every inch of Nico’s growth was due to breastmilk. It is kind of a crazy concept! By the end of Nico’s second week, he gained two full pounds! He was ‘filling in’ by the day.  I thought he smelled like butter, and funny enough, I craved grass fed butter postpartum like crazy! I will talk more about my diet while breastfeeding in another post ;).

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Personally, there were lots of changes in my body as well when I started breast-feeding. To my surprise, my arms were sore for weeks after having Nico. I had always considered myself to have somewhat strong arms. I mean, after all I am a baker.  I did not expect that holding him and nursing him would take a toll on my thumbs of all things! Yes, my thumbs. You see, your thumbs bare the brunt of most of the mommy work…. holding baby’s head while nursing, picking him up out of his crib, pushing the stroller, and this list goes on! Thankfully, I worked with Alison Oswald for most of my postpartum physical therapy, and she helped me with my thumb also. It is actually called mommy thumb. The thumb tends to get overworked from just being a mom. Picking up your baby, pushing the stroller, changing diapers… it’s a lot of and work. As a baker, I use my hands every day as well, so there was already significant wear and tear. Allison taped my thumbs to encourage more circulation, and instantly they felt relief. She also encouraged my to use the ‘thumbs forward’ approach to picking up Nico, pushing the stroller and holding the steering wheel. I can honestly say these techniques, coupled with the taping helped immensely!

Yes, breastfeeding takes lots of time. But it is precious time. Breastfeeding also takes a ton of commitment. Often plans and outings are determined by the last time the baby ate or what time the baby will wake up.  While breastfeeding is very portable and easy to do almost anywhere, it is not always the right environment, like a fancy restaurant for example. Baby either needs to get fed before or after, and trust me, this timing is a tough one. I’ve learned the hard way many times, but it gets better week by week.

Another thing that has been lovely about breastfeeding is that it is a time dedicated to sitting and just feeding your baby. Nothing else. In this fast paced life, times of rest like this are hard to come by. I so enjoy laying on my bed while Nico feeds, it’s nice to take a break! Sometimes I do text and email while breastfeeding, but when I don’t, the reflective time is great. It is time you can just be with your baby and rest. It is much needed rest indeed, and I fully enjoy it. I’m so grateful for this gift I’ve been given, and that I am able to feed my baby. When I was pregnant, I was concerned my autoimmune disease would get in the way of my ability to breastfeed, and this positive experience breastfeeding has truly been a great gift.

Lately, I haven’t been looking forward to when Nico transitions to eating solid foods. I think it’s because I’m going to miss being his everything. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve been struggling thinking about the day he takes his first bite of solid food. He’s five months now, so it will actually be quite soon. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely plan to still breastfeed, I just will not be exclusively breastfeeding, and I’m going to miss it. I would love to hear your experiences, thoughts or feelings about breastfeeding! xoxox, Laurel

Photos by Elsie Dardon.

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My Mother’s Day Miracle \\ Sweet Laurel

Processed with VSCO with 4 presetThis year has been a whirlwind. Everyday, I take a moment to think about how blessed I am, and today is no exception. I want to share the most beautiful thing that happened to me this year, as it has everything to do with what we are trying to accomplish here at Sweet Laurel. Sweet Laurel is dedicated to providing beauty and health to all through our cakes, recipes, educational workshops and our upcoming cookbook (available Spring 2018!).

If you were to tell me last May that in one year I would have a 2 1/2 month old baby sleeping next to me in bed as I type this, I would have thought you were a bit crazy. You see, the last four years had been a struggle to get my thyroid, digestive system, and reproductive system back on line. They all stopped functioning properly when I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease in 2012. My body screamed at me to stop, rest and heal up through various physical signs, one of them being I had stopped ovulating. I eventually listened, and took a year off to heal, and and in 2015 I launched Sweet Laurel as a result of the incredible results I felt changing my lifestyle and diet in order to allowing healing to take place.

Last May, one year ago to date, I had a call with my nutritionist about my recent hormonal blood work. As she discussed the details of my hormone panel, the results were not so hot and I started to cry. Over the last few years, I’ve made my health a priority. Thankfully, my thyroid and digestive system were back to normal, but my reproductive system just wasn’t kicking into gear. I felt like I had tried everything, which is why the news from my nutritionist was so disparaging. I took a deep breath between tears and tried to accept the fact that a baby and my complete healing were just not in the cards for me quite yet.

Flash forward a few weeks. My husband Nick came home from work around 6pm and I was laid out on my back in bed. This is very abnormal for me, as I am quite a busy bee, especially around the dinner time hour. My favorite thing to do is make dinner for Nick every night so that’s usually what I am doing when he comes home. Nick immediately knew something was wrong when he saw me in bed so he started peppering me with questions. I told him I was just really tired, and I had been at the Sweet Laurel kitchen all day on my feet, which is why I was in bed. “I think you should take a pregnancy test,” Nick said. Even though I could barely get out of bed at this point, I managed to go the bathroom and find an old pregnancy test squirreled away under the sink.

And It was positive. My first response was, ‘NO!’ I didn’t understand how this was possible. Very soon after we both started crying tears of joy. Around May and the first week of June, my body kicked into gear and ovulated. This is why our sweet Nico is a miracle. I never would have imagined I’d be celebrating Mother’s Day this year, but I am, and I am so very grateful.

Sweet Laurel is all about sharing health with others, which is why I wanted to share this  story with you. Dedication toward wellness can lead to breakthroughs in your health. Wishing all the mothers our there a very Happy Mother’s Day! xo, Laurel

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Laurel is wearing Fillyboom’s I beleive in Unicorns dress.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

I love being a mom! In honor of Mother’s Day and my first time celebrating as a mom, I’m sharing some of my most used, and favorite mom-friendly items. This week’s recipe features my Lactation Cookies, which accompanied me to the hospital when Nico was born, and have been made regularly since!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

First off, Nucifera! I LOVE Nucifera, and the amazing entrepreneur who developed it. Nucifera is the ultimate pregnancy and breastfeeding safe, all in one, beauty product. I use it regularly before bed and on my face as part of my cleansing routine. By now you all know how in love I am with coconut, and this is a coconut based product, and the benefits are unending. It moisturizes, soothes, purifies, and combats various skin conditions. Nucifera can even be used as an all natural deodorant. I personally like using it under my eyes. And by the way, Nucifera is not just amazing for mothers, it is great for fathers and children alike!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Second, my Petal Soft Ballet Nursing Bra. Not only is it pretty to look at, it is oh so comfortable. I never thought nursing would change my whole outfit. For some reason, I never made the connection. Well, a good nursing outfit starts with a good bra, and this is my go-to! It is from Bravado Designs, who also makes two other nursing bras I’m digging– the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra, also comfy, and the Clip and Pump, which gives me mobility with my hands while I pump!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Third, a good notebook. I want to cherish each day with sweet Nico, and this helps me do! I’m a very sentimental gal, so essentially, writing down thoughts, precious moments and words of gratitude have been very therapeutic for me. Nico has made me a more organized person, and this is one tool I’ve begun to use to help in that department.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lastly, Lactation Cookies. Do you every need an excuse to eat cookies? Well, when you’re breastfeeding, you automatically have one! Lactation enriching foods have been used for centuries to help with breast milk production, and my cookies contain just a few of the many nutritious foods know to encourage milk supply nursing. I read a book entitled Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, and learned about the foods I should focus on during pregnancy and nursing. I highly recommend this book. Per the words of Planck, two of the most popular lactation foods are oats and beer. I don’t include either of those in my cookies, as I don’t digest either well, but have included several of the other recommended foods. These cookies freeze super well, so I typically make a batch and store them in the freezer to snack on and give to people who come over. Having a baby really ups your weekly visitors!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Cookies

Yields about 30 cookies


 

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds or shredded coconut

1/2 cup macadamia nuts or pecans

1/2 date paste or 7 dates, pitted

4 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or grass fed butter (solid)

1 cup chocolate chips (recipe below)

Maple syrup, as needed (these cookies are not very sweet, so add if need be)


 

*For Oatmeal Raisin variation

Exchange flax and sesame seeds for 1/2 cup of oats (if you tolerate). You can also add shredded coconut for texture!

Exchange and 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins for the chocolate chips.


 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a blender, combine the flax seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, dates, eggs, coconut oil and maple syrup (optional). Turn on low speed, and blend until batter is incorporated. Remove mixture from blender and place into a bowl. Stir in almond flour and chocolate chips. Spoon one tablespoon sized cookies onto cookies sheet. Gently press dough down with a piece of parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Lift parchment off pan, and allow cookies to cool all the way.

Enjoy!


 

Homemade Chocolate Chips 


 

Ingredients:

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (100% cacao, organic is preferable)

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey


 

Directions:

Break baking chocolate into one-inch pieces and place in thick saucepan or double boiler. Over a very low heat, melt baking chocolate. Once melted, take off heat, and add maple syrup or raw honey and stir. Pour chocolate onto parchment paper and spread into a rectangle, about 8×12 inches. Place parchment in freezer. Once hardened (will take a few minutes), break into small pieces and use as chocolate chips.

 

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

The number one piece of advice people offered me when I was pregnant was to, ‘Enjoy sleep while you still have it!’ Now, this is a very good piece of advice, but one thing I have that they likely did not have is the SNOO, by Happiest Baby. The SNOO was recently invented by Dr. Harvey Karp, the author of bestseller Happiest Baby on the Block. This was one of the first books I read during my pregnancy with Nico, and it provided an excellent backbone to infant care and educated me on Karp’s ever popular 5 S’s. The 5 S’s are the essential tools for parents to use to calm their babies. The 5 S’s are Swaddle, Side or Stomach position, Shushing, Swing and Suck. I’ve found the 5 S’s work wonders for Nico. Nick especially loves to use all 5 S’s to calm Nico.

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

While these tools work very well during the day, at night, the SNOO is our best friend. The SNOO is the world’s first smart sleep that boosts baby’s sleep by imitating the rhythmic sensations they feel in the womb. It is truly an amazing invention! The goal of the SNOO is to solve the number one complaint of new parents: lack of sleep. The SNOO works to soothe a fussy baby by using a good swaddle, rocking motion and white noise. It is engineered to increase rocking and noise as the baby’s cry increases. Our baby is not super fussy, but we quickly noticed the benefits of the SNOO with Nico. At night, after I’ve fed Nico, burped him and changed his diaper, I put him in the SNOO sack (the swaddle built into the SNOO). I turn it on and it starts to play white noise and rock. Nico loves the movement and it helps him go to sleep faster.  I want Nico to get all the sleep he can get because that is when infants do most of their growing. If Nico falls asleep, then wakes within the hour before he needs to feed again, he will naturally fuss a bit. If this happens, the SNOO reactivates and starts to rock him again and increases the white noise. The white noise, rocking and swaddle mimic the way he felt in the womb creates a calm and sleepy baby Nico.

The SNOO is also safe! It comes with a built-in swaddle that doesn’t allow the baby to turn from his back onto his stomach, a fear many parents have with a traditional swaddle. Because the SNOO is only used until the baby is 6 months old or can roll over, the swaddle is built for babies to sleep on their backs only. We use the SNOO as a co-sleeper, and it is stationed right next to our bed. While I’d love for Nico to sleep on my chest all night (I frequently let him nap here, never overnight, however), I prefer to have him sleep in a crib, like the SNOO, while I am sleeping. When he is in there, I can rest peacefully knowing he is swaddled up and in his own bed, whereas something could happen to him on my bed.

While I still do get up 3-4 times a night to feed him, my sleep is maximized because I do not spend much time soothing him before he gets to sleep or worrying whether he is comforted or not. I know the rocking, white noise and swaddle make him feel secure, so I am a happy camper, who can get back to sleep!  Thanks to the SNOO, I am not suffering from sleep deprivation. I usually arise rested, and if I need a nap during the day, Nico goes into the SNOO and I go on my bed while he naps! Check out this video all about SNOO, or read more on their site.

xoxo, Laurel