Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Of Breasts and Udders

Disclaimer: This is a strongly worded post, which you don’t see so often from me. I apologise in advance and if anyone is of a particularly sensitive nature they may want to turn away now and resist reading on. In my defence I will say just this: I am NOT vegan  and am not in any way touting MY way as the ideal. In fact I am arguing that the whole human take on milk is wrong, that we have it all screwed up, and that major psycho-social changes need to take place publicly, openly and honestly.

I will reiterate: I am NOT VEGAN, though I am rapidly moving in that direction for a multitude of reasons. But weaning takes time...

Breastmilk, naturally. But which kind?

The whole world seems to have erupted over the recent Time article. YOU know the one I mean. But one thing nobody seems to be talking about is a topic so fundamental it is the oversized cow in the room...

Which would you rather drink, human breastmilk or cow’s milk? Cow’s breast milk, or udder-milk if you like. Which would you rather your children drank, and for how long? Should we be weaned off ALL milk as infants? At what age? 1 month, 6 months, a year, 6 years? Or perhaps more realistically, should we all stop drinking milk when our mother’s milk naturally dries up, whenever that is? Or should we be building up our milk-banks to enable all children to benefit from full-term breastmilk. Maggie Thatcher will forever be remembered as the one who “took away our free milk”... will the current leaders be man, or even woman - enough to make our human milk banks a top priority for the future health of our race?

I find it fascinating, this discussion on child-weaning, and the views of scorn and disgust over “extended” breastfeeding, whilst we all continue to guzzle our pints of cow (or goat or sheep) milk quite happily in the form of café lattes and cereal bowls and smoothies, cheeses, sauces, yoghurts, not to mention all the products containing lactose or its by-produts that you probably don’t even realise are there. Tip: if its not labelled as vegan, it almost certainly harbours some form of lactose.

And while we suffer more and more from lactose-intolerance because our biology and needs are fundamentally different to a calf’s, we try to suffer silently or perthaps cut down a bit whilst all the time berating the worthy mothers of our society for continuing to feed our children human breastmilk - the only kind of milk that was truly meant for human consumption and the only kind of milk that benefits our system wholly and properly, with 1001 nutrients and benefits for our growing kids that they simply cannot get in ANY other form. It’s time we faced up to the facts and stopped thinking of cow’s milk - especially in its pasteurised form which rids it of all the good AND bad bacteria - as n-o-r-m-a-l whilst human breastmilk is somehow 'weird and hippy'. Please wake up to the realities. Your body was meant to digest human milk. The topic as to how long for is debatable. But incontrovertibly, YOU ARE NOT A COW (whatever anyone says), nor even a calf.

And yet still we have this stigma, this ‘ickiness’ around breastfeeding and human milk, whilst the supermarkets are stuffed floor to ceiling with artificially extracted udder-milk - the calves for whom this was made having been sent to slaughter or kept on as future dairy queens when their work was done.

How do you feel about breastmilk smoothie now?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Three in a Bed... Or how *not* to co-sleep

Three - four - or more in a bed :)
I have a terrible, burning confession to make.

I hate co-sleeping. 

And I love it too.

In about equal measure. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I'm pretty much split right down the middle on the subject: one minute I'm all for it and loving every second, the next I'm near to throwing the extra bodies out of the bed - MY bed (I roar in my mummy lion voice) - in order to find a bit of space to squeeze my body into and get-some-frigging-sleep.

The Realities
Today I am grumpy. Why? Because girl Earthly slept badly and ended up - as is so often the case - lying on top of me for most of the night. Not beside me, or snuggled into me, but sprawled across my chest, head banging from side to side as she tried to find a soft spot for a pillow. It has always been like this, with both offspring - they simply refused as babies to be anywhere except lying on top of me. And it's my least favourite sleeping position, particularly when there's a heavy toddler squashing me for most of the night and I wake up unable to move my spine in the morning.

I absolutely adore snuggles with my babes in the bed. But they are not the easiest of bedfellows, to say the least. I suspect, in fact, they are close to being the most uncomfortable of all bedfellows. Frequently I am found clinging to the edge of the bed in a desperate bid to stop myself falling out. Even more frequent are the repeated kicks, punches, headbutts, general smotherings and clamberings... and then the insistence that I cuddle them at the same time, whilst all this is going on.

It's no wonder I give up sometimes and either insist they go back to their own bed (which by the way, is only a few feet away from ours) or give up completely and go and sleep on the sofa or in one of their beds!

But I feel terrible for feeling this way. I really love bringing them into our bed when they need the comfort, for why not? If I want comforted in the middle of the night, I have hubby. How often we forget - those of us who sleep with partners - that we have this luxury whilst our children don't! If I have a bad dream, or can't settle my mind, hubby is often (not always - he has the wonderful ability to sleep like an elephant) there to hold me and whisper words of comfort whilst I fall asleep.

So there we have it. What are your cosleeping secrets? Are you a perfect cosleeper who loves every single second of your time with them, do you have a particularly neat sleeper, do you detest even the idea of cosleeping, or are you ambivalent?

Happy Sleeping, whatever you do :)

Friday, 11 May 2012

Chocolate Friday: Raw Chocolate Cheesecake!

Oh MY oh my oh my, what a long time it's been between posts... So sorry for my continued absence from the virtual realm. As Kundera said, Life is elsewhere...

Today was the kind of day that inspired a bit of cooking, or should I say, chocolate alchemy. For this is no ordinary cheesecake, this is a completely vegan, wheat-free, raw cheesecake. And what's more, it's not one of your fancy all-you-can-eat cashews affair as (a) I don't believe in making everything with nuts and (b) I'm not that keen on them in the first place. Oh, and (c) there were none in the cupboard and this was the kind of day that I just HAD to make something out of what was in my cupboard!

And it had to be good, oh so good. And chocolatey. Very much so.

So here we are - tada! I literally threw this together and everything is approximate measures, so please feel free to be equally lax and experimental :)

3/4 cup whole almonds, finely ground (or, if you want to be totally nut-free, try using coconut)
3/4 cup buckwheaties, roughly ground
2 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp maca powder (optional)
1/4 cup rapadura sugar, ground finely or about 2 tbsp xylitol - or whatever you prefer
Tiny pinch crystal salt
1/2 cup cacao butter, melted

Mix all the dry ingredients together then add in the cacao butter to make a dough, and press firmly into the base of a springform flan case. Chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

1/2 cup chia seeds, just covered in water
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup dried coconut, finely ground
1/2 banana
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp agave syrup

Add the orange juice to the wet chia seeds and mix well. Leave to soak for about an hour. Then liquidise the banana, chia mixture and coconut till smooth. Finally add the cacao, vanilla and agave and process till completely incorporated. Spoon over chilled base and return to the fridge to set.

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup cacao powder
2 tbsp agave syrup

Mix all together well and spoon over the chilled cheesecake base.


Want to know more about the ingredients? Check them out at the Raw Living store, where you will learn just what maca powder can do for your hormones and why chia seeds really are a superfood!

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