Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Fertility Diet, Sarah Dobbyn

The Fertility Diet
The Fertility Diet
How to Maximize Your Chances of Having a Baby at Any Age
Sarah Dobbyn
Simon & Schuster UK, 2012

This post has moved to www.greenfootmama.com.

Midlife Fertility Surge?

I love this article from the Daily Mail about a woman who had four children naturally in her 40s after 20 unsuccessful years of TTC. 

While I am well aware of all the depressing statistics regarding age and fertility, I remind myself that I've achieved two pregnancies in the past year and a positive state of mind is more likely to enable me to achieve a third than a depressed one.

When I find myself feeling down I can return to the article and others like it to give me hope and counter all the negative suggestion in the media about my age and chances of conceiving.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

30 Something and the Clock is Ticking, Kasey Edwards

30 Something and the Clock is Ticking
30 Something and the Clock is Ticking
What Happens When You Can No Longer Avoid the Baby Issue
Kasey Edwards
Mainstream Publishing Company, 2011

A self proclaimed feminist and career woman, Kasey is startled to find herself blurting that she wants a baby to her boyfriend of a year after returning from a 10 day Vipassana Meditation retreat.

They agree to revisit the subject in a year, at the ages of 32 and 34 respectively, there is lots of time.  However at a routine checkup a few weeks later Kasey discovers she has a number of fertility issues and doctor recommends IVF within the year if she wants to have a child.

With candour and humour, Kasey elects to take on the baby issue in her own terms.  Does she in fact want to be a mother?  What life would she be choosing for herself if she did?  Is she still of value to her partner if she is infertile?  Is she of value in her career if she's not?  If she does want to be a mother, would she be a good one?  Kasey worries that taking on the invisible and poorly valued identity of mother in our society could bring back the black dog of depression from her past.

Researching the academic literature and the lives of her friends, Kasey weighs the pros and cons, like the Management Consultant she is, in order to make a rational recommendation to herself and finds herself re-examining her own ideas about motherhood and marriage.  In the end the choice is emotional, not rational and in the final chapters she shares the challenges of trying to conceive under a deadline.

I picked this book up at the library while looking for some prescribed reading for an essay I have to write, and read it in one sitting.  I found it to be both entertaining and educational.

The life Kasey paints of motherhood is not pretty - it involves a lot of effort and sacrifice for little appreciation and very small, but ultimately worth it, reward.  Kasey also goes into the injustice of the gender pay gap and the 'mommy path' career women are sidelined into once they admit parenthood is on their agenda.  Ultimately, trying to have it all means navigating a minefield of compromises and what it looks like is unique to each woman.

 I could relate to Kasey's desire to decide and take action before time ran out and maybe its the educated, career oriented circles the author moves in, but I was surprised by the stories of her fellow female dinner party guests and the situations they found themselves in with regard to becoming parents.

On a side note, this is the second book in a row I've just picked up off the biography shelf for casual reading that has detailed the benefits of vipassana meditation.  Some years ago I sat next to a man on a flight from New York to London who was just returning from a vipassana retreat.  He spoke in detail about it and I thought it would either benefit or kill me.

Maybe the universe is trying to remind me something.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Beetroot and Mint Coleslaw

Vibrant colours for vibrant health!

One of the challenges involved in getting a weekly veg box is figuring out tasty ways of enjoying vegetables you wouldnt usually choose to eat.  I'm no great fan of cabbage cooked, but I dont mind coleslaw.  I was out of carrots so thought I'd experiment with beetroot which has a similar texture and sweetness to carrot.  The mint in our garden has gone nuts so I thought adding a bit of that would give a nice counter to the sweetness. Mr Duncan said this was the best coleslaw I've made yet.

Fertility focus
Beetroot is full of iron and folate

Cabbage is antioxident and also contains a phytonutrient called Di-Indole Methane that helps with metabolising estrogen effectively.

  • Cabbage
  • Beetroot
  • Mint
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Olive oil
Grate the beetroot and finely chop the cabbage and mint.  Toss together in apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Honestly, its not easy.

Tranquility in the Okavango Delta
While its been relatively easy (and sort of fun) to photograph and document the meals I make to keep myself and Mr Duncan in optimum health in the hope of conceiving again in the future...   I have more than a dozen unpublished posts in which I have written about my pregnancies/loss/reactions to the world at large. Especially the pregnant and mother-of-newborn world which seems to be so prevalent in the media at the moment.   Grrr.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to help me work through the feelings - what is it to grow (eg gardening) or create (cooking, sewing) something and have it not work out in the same way that my babies were created and real, but didnt work out.

Maybe draw some parallels.

Maybe have an outlet for expressing the rollercoaster of awe and fear and love and bitterness and hope and despair and jealousy and pragmatism and acceptance and anger I feel.

But my unpublished posts seem so inadequate to express what I am experiencing I've been storing them up to re-work until they do.

Maybe I'm just not ready yet.

I mean, writing it all down has its own value.  But sharing?  Even to no readership -  it still seems a step too far.  Like its actually real. Which is seriously is. But....

I had a total meltdown last Thursday which (once I regained some semblance of perspective) just reinforced the fact that I need to deal with it.

But really... it is not easy.

Hokkaido Squash Soup and Roast 'Pumpkin' Seeds

Beta-carotene-rich creamy goodness
This post has moved to www.greenfootmama.com

Monday, 15 July 2013

Vietnamese Prawn Summer Roll Salad

Summer roll, in a bowl

 Its veggie box day tomorrow and I'm running low on ingredients - we have some carrot and cucumber but thats about it.  Lovely weather today, its sunny and warm so I dont want to eat anything too heavy.  I have a rummage in the freezer and discover some prawns that need using.  I think of Vietnamese Summer Rolls.  Yum - they remind me of my trip to Vietnam in 2005.  We do have lots of mint in the garden...

I actually have rice paper in the cupboard, for wrapping the ingredients into rolls, but I'm not in the mood for anything time consuming or fiddly so just throw all the ingredients together into a salad.  

  • vermicelli noodles
  • onion
  • prawns 
  • mint
  • cucumber
  • carrot
  • peanuts

  • rice wine vinegar
  • honey
  • toasted seasame oil
  • chilli flakes

Put the noodles in a shallow dish and and soak in boiling water for 5 or so minutes. Mix together dressing ingredients.  Rinse noodles in cold water, drain, toss in the dressing and set aside. 

Cut onion into strips and stir fry with prawns until onion strips are soft and prawns are just pink.  Remove from heat.  Set aside to cool.

Cut the carrot and cucumber into thin sticks.  Chop the mint and peanuts.

Throw all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Enjoy.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Oven Baked Fishcakes with Fennel Coleslaw

Summer comfort food
I had some fish pie mix in the freezer that needed using, but the weather is too warm for a hearty pie.  

  • Potato 
  • Onion
  • Fish
  • Milk
Finely chop an onion and poach with the fish in 50:50 milk/water. 
Drain, reserving liquid, cool and flake the fish.

Scrub and chop the potatoes and boil until just tender.  Drain and let the moisture steam off them.  Mash with a little of the fish milk and let them cool, the dryer and colder the better.

Mix the fish and onion into the cold potato, shape into cakes and place on lightly oiled baking tray.  Bake at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes or until the fishcakes have browned.



  • Fennel bulb
  • Cabbage
  • Onion

Finely chop all ingredients.  Mix and dress with lemon and garlic infused olive oil.

Beetroot, Quinoa and Parsley Salad

Its salad season!
The weather is finally warm, which means a) I'm craving salads and b) we're eating outside.

When I'm having salad as a main course, I like to ensure it contains all the elements of a balanced meal.  As the daughter of a diabetic, I had it drummed into me that all meals needed to include protein, carbs and fresh veg.  For this salad, carbs are provided by the beetroot, protein by the quinoa and feta and fresh veg by the parsley and beetroot.  We ate this with a slice of german style grain bread and butter.

Fertility Focus
Beetroot is full of iron and folate

Parsley has high levels of vitamin K and both iron and vitamin C which helps the body absorb iron
Quinoa is a plant based form of protein, and contains all nine of the essential amino acids needed for cell renewal

  • Quinoa
  • Beetroot
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Feta cheese
Simmer the quinoa for about ten minutes (cook according to package directions).  Rinse and drain.
Grate the beetroot and finely chop parsley and mint.  Chop the feta into small cubes.
Mix together all ingredients and toss with olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Lentil and Parsley Fertility Salad

Packed with fertility goodness
Ever since I read The Fertility Diet I've been trying to increase the amount of raw food in my diet.  I dont want to go 100% raw, it seems too extreme and directly contradicts some Traditional Chinese Medicine advice from my acupuncturist, but I figure now the weather is finally warming up I can aspire to making my meals at least 50% raw.

The book also recommended parsley as a good herb for fertility, benefiting the kidneys, liver, adrenals and uterus.  I'm usually a fan of parsley but the pigeons won the war over the parsley in my garden so I only have a small indoor plant.  

We recently discovered the local mediterranean grocer sells enormous bunches of parsley for only 80p and is a nice 20 minute post-prandial walk through the park away so I've been experimenting with making parsley salads that aren't tabbouleh to keep things fresh.

Fertility focus
Lentils are a good source of folic acid, full of iron and provide a non-meat form of protein.
Parsley has high levels of vitamin K and both iron and vitamin C (which helps the body absorb iron.
Sunflower seeds are rich in zinc, selenium and vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

  • Brown lentils
  • Parsley
  • Spring onion
  • Tomato
  • Sunflower seeds
Soak sunflower seeds.
Soak, rinse and drain lentils.  Simmer in fresh water for about 20 minutes, until cooked.  Rinse with cold water, drain and allow to cool.
Chop parsley, spring onion and tomato.
Drain and rinse sunflower seeds.
Mix it all together and enjoy!

I served the salad with grilled chicken thigh and courgettes sauteed in garlic and olive oil.

Al Fresco dining

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Birds and the Bumble Bees

My overgrown organic veggie garden
This time last year, despite the constant rain, I was reaping the benefits of planting out my veggie garden in April.  I had planted cucumber, tomato, spring onions, lettuce, spinach, parsnip and leeks in my organic garden.

This April, it was still raining and Mr Duncan and I decided there was no point in planting the garden as we'd have our Australian visa and not be around to harvest any of it.  Its a bit of a pity as this year we have some amazing rich compost from the past two years of veggie scraps and juicer pulp.  I'll need to decide what do do with it if we have to get rid of the compost bin when we move out.

It continued to rain and each weekend I thought 'ooh those weeds are getting out of control, I really need to weed next time it isn't wet'.  We finally had a good weekend and I went outside all ready to tackle the weeds which were above my knees and blooming with little flowers.  I saw more than half a dozen bumble bees and some normal bees and other insects flying around from blossom to blossom. The bumble bees seemed especially to like the blue flowers from the wild comfrey.

There has been a lot of information in the media lately about the decline of bees and especially bumble bees due to the wet weather, declining habitat and use of pesticides.  So I've decided that the garden will remain au-natural until we have to return it to some level of respectability when we move out. 

As the weeds have become more wild, I've noticed more birds in our garden too and almost have a respectable morning chorus going on (when its not raining). Its nice to see the bees buzzing around each time I go into the garden.

Be happy little bees.

L. x

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