Friday, 18 April 2014

Avocado pesto

Came across this recipe while searching for 'creamy avocado alfredo' - a recipe i'd seen online but failed to pin it... bad move. I never did find it again. (Edit - i found it again - i'd pinned it on my personal account! silly me. it's pretty much the same as this one). But, this recipe made it all better; it's absolutely delicious, is really creamy but without any bad fats, and it made a meal our toddler ate. Score!

Also, it takes less time to make than to cook the pasta to go with it!

creamy avocado pesto with spaghetti

Avocado pesto sauce - from something brought you here

1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
parmesan cheese, to serve

Process basil, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor until the basil is roughly chopped.
Add the avocado flesh and salt and process until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down sides if necessary.
Taste and adjust seasoning, then stir into your favourite cooked pasta and serve sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese.

creamy avocado pesto

It's very high in Vitamin A, and served with whole wheat pasta is a good source of thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.

Nutrition per serving (from FitWatch Recipe Analyzer). The numbers in brackets refer to percentage of RDI for a woman aged 31-50:

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving


137.8 kcal
Water49.88 g
Carbohydrate* (15%)5.72 g
Protein (18%)5.97 g (13)
Total Fat (68%)10.97 g
   Monounsaturated5.97 g
   Polyunsaturated1.08 g
   Saturated3.23 g
Cholesterol11 mg
Dietary Fibre3.57 g (14)
Alcohol (0%)0 g
Vitamin A339.69 IU (49)
Thiamin0.04 mg (36)
Riboflavin0.13 mg (12) 
Niacin0.93 mg (7)
Pantothenic acid0.76 mg (19) 
Vitamin B60.15 mg (12)
Folate45.45 mcg (11) 
Vitamin B120.28 mcg (12)
Vitamin C9.23 mg (21)
Vitamin E1.08 mg ATE (15)
Calcium152.01 mg (15)
Iron0.53 mg (3)
Magnesium23.07 mg (7)
Phosphorus120.98 mg (12)
Potassium288.21 mg (10)
Sodium340.28 mg (49)
Zinc0.83 mg (10)
Copper0.14 mg (12)

*Note: USDA factors are used in calculating certain foods and do not necessarily follow the "4-4-9" method. Percentages may not always add up to 100.
Data source: USDA Nutrient Database, R17

And if you add some whole wheat spaghetti to the calculator (which surprisingly makes no change in the fibre content):

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving


360.9 kcal
Water54.59 g
Carbohydrate* (56%)53.83 g
Protein (16%)15.35 g (33)
Total Fat (28%)11.87 g
   Monounsaturated6.1 g
   Polyunsaturated1.44 g
   Saturated3.4 g
Cholesterol11 mg
Dietary Fibre3.57 g (14)
Alcohol (0%)0 g
Vitamin A339.69 IU (49)
Thiamin0.35 mg (32)
Riboflavin0.22 mg (20)
Niacin4.22 mg (30)
Pantothenic acid1.39 mg (35)
Vitamin B60.29 mg (22)
Folate82 mcg (21)
Vitamin B120.28 mcg (12)
Vitamin C9.23 mg (21)
Vitamin E1.08 mg ATE (15)
Calcium177.66 mg (18)
Iron2.86 mg (16)
Magnesium114.77 mg (36)
Phosphorus286.42 mg (29)
Potassium426.08 mg (15)
Sodium345.41 mg (50)
Zinc2.35 mg (29)
Copper0.43 mg (36)

*Note: USDA factors are used in calculating certain foods and do not necessarily follow the "4-4-9" method. Percentages may not always add up to 100.
Data source: USDA Nutrient Database, R17

Monday, 14 April 2014

Apricot chicken with coconut rice

The mildly sweet taste of this coconut rice sprinkled with Indonesian toasted coconut complements the sweet and savoury apricot chicken. The apricot chicken recipe is from Taste, the coconut rice recipe is my own. This is a dinner that's a hit with toddlers (well, used to be - he is going through a refusal stage at the moment) and children as well as adults, and the chicken freezes well - rice not so much but it's easy to pop on the stove while doing other things, if you freeze extra portions of apricot chicken and decide to make the rice fresh.

Apricot chicken -
Serves 4

1/2 cup plain flour
750g chicken, cut into bite size pieces
oil for frying
1 large brown onion, peeled, cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning blend
405ml can apricot nectar
1/2 cup dried Apricots
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Put the flour in a bag and season with some salt and pepper, then add the chicken, close the top of the bag and shake to coat the chicken with the flour.

Pour a little oil in a large saucepan on medium heat, then when hot add the chicken and fry for 2-3 minutes each side until golden. It doesn't need to be cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pan and cover. Pour a little more oil in the pan and add the onion and garlic, fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the Moroccan seasoning, stir well, then return the chicken to the pan and add the apricot nectar. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and add the dried apricots, stirring them in so they're covered, and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley after serving.

Coconut Rice

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup rice (jasmine, long grain or basmati)
Serundeng manis (Indonesian shredded sweet coconut)

Bring the water and coconut milk to the boil, add the rice and cover with a well fitting lid. If you have a gas stovetop, lower the heat to the minimum for a few minutes, then turn off completely. If you have electric, turn off immediately. The steam will cook the rice using the absorption method. After about 25 minutes, test the rice for doneness - if it's still a little bitey, turn the heat on low for a few minutes to bring the steam up and cover again, turning the heat off. Test again in 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the Indonesian coconut after serving.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Week 8

I've caught up this week - week 8's photos were taken on 8+0 and i'm posting the same day - whoo!

8 weeks pregnant side view

8 weeks pregnant side view8 weeks pregnant front view


How far along: 8 weeks.

How big is baby: a yummy raspberry!

What is baby doing this week: This week, many changes take place in your baby, who now measures about 1.6cm. His embryonic tail is just about gone, and all his organs, muscles and nerves are beginning to function. In his brain, nerve cells are branching out to connect with one another, forming primitive neural pathways. Your baby's hands now bend at the wrist, and his feet are starting to lose their webbed appearance. His eyelids cover more of his eyes and tastebuds are forming on his tongue.

Your pregnancy is changing your figure as well. Your breasts may have grown large enough that you'll need bigger bras with better support than your old ones. You may notice your waistline expanding as well, forcing you to pack away your favourite jeans until next year.

Total weight gain: 46.9kg, up 100g from last week. My navel is more outie however, and my abs seem 'looser' so that the diastasis is pooching it out by afternoon. Still keeping up with the Tupler exercises on weekdays, less so on weekends.

Hubby also nicely informed me i have cellulite all the way down my thighs, which is apparently visible only when i run and 'my fat jiggles'. Great. Think i need to stop baking cupcakes for a few months.

Maternity clothes: nope. Have not noticed a change in my waist.

Sleep: I've made a conscious effort to get to bed earlier, so have been managing 10:30/11pm. I find i am waking now around 5am to wee, either due to pregnancy or my increased water intake (2 litres a day! Go me!)

Best moment of the week: took 3 days off work and had a super long long weekend!

Food cravings/aversions: would like some smoked salmon. Wonder if there's a way to heat it without totally destroying the taste? (heating food to steaming kills listeria)


Nausea: Nausea seems to have gone this past few days.

Fatigue: Yes. More tired than last week, and shorter temper too.

Other: none.

Movement: a few cramps.

Gender: will find out at the 18-20 week anatomy scan. Will probably take a guess if we can get a nub shot at the NT scan.

What i'm looking forward to: the NT scan! Although i'm scared of it as well - mostly about placenta accreta (an indication of likelihood would be the placenta implanting over the CS scar which would be seen on an u/s), and also the same fears i had last time (chromosomal disorders or a missed miscarriage).

What i miss: Sashimi salmon or tuna. Champagne! Also being able to have a beer with hubby in this lovely hot weather we've been having - 35C in autumn!

Next appt: week 8 for thyroid blood test.

What else i've done this week: I've contacted a few birth photographers. Got a strange reaction from one when i asked the cost of providing full res photos on disk - she basically accused me of being a photographer fishing for prices (only she used 'phishing' as though it were an internet scam). Rather odd. She's worked with my midwife before who says she's lovely, but that reaction put me right off. So looked and found another one who takes decent shots. She is sadly more expensive, but does provide full res photos on disk (around 200!), a slideshow and a linen brag book, and books only 1 birth a month so she can be on call for her mamas from 38 weeks. Working out a time to meet her now, before we decide to book her.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Week 7

I've now finished sewing the dress that i'm going to do all my antenatal photos in; more on that later. I missed week 6's photo - although technically the week 5 one was taken at 5+6 so almost 6 weeks itself! But now that the dress is done i've no excuse not to make the effort to take a weekly photo.

Layout of the statistics below shamelessly stolen from The Art of Making a Baby.

7 weeks pregnant

7 weeks pregnant7 weeks pregnant


How far along: 7 weeks.

How big is baby: the size of a chick pea.

What is baby doing this week: The embryo has distinct, slightly webbed fingers and toes. It's a jumping bean, moving in fits and starts. The liver is churning out large amounts of red blood cells until the bone marrow forms and takes over this role.
The eighth week marks the beginning of a very busy developmental stage. Between now and 20 weeks, your baby will be growing rapidly, and body parts that formed in the first few weeks of life (such as the heart and brain) will become more specialized and complicated. Right now, the teeth and palate are forming, while the ears continue to develop. The fetus' skin is paper thin, and veins are clearly visible.

Total weight gain: I didn't weigh myself at the start of pregnancy, so i'll start now at 46.8kg and do a weigh-in each week. (Keep in mind i'm only 5'2 and between 45 and 47kg seems best for my height and frame, and level of activity.)
I noticed the last two days that my belly is rounder and my outie, which was starting to retract, is sticking out further. I've been wearing my Tubigrip day and night, and keeping up with doing my 10 sets of Tupler contractions each day, but it doesn't seem to be helping at the moment. Who knows though - i may have been worse without it. But then this morning i woke up and it was back to normal (outie but starting to retract in the lower half - you can see from the photos), so may have just been bloat! Also in the front view photo, i have a fat roll when i rest my weight on one hip! Eek!

Maternity clothes: nope. Although my dress for the photos is, but you can see how loose it is.

Sleep: normal. I need to try to go to bed earlier, but 11pm-12am is fairly standard for me. No change due to pregnancy.

Best moment of the week: finishing my maternity dress!

Food cravings/aversions: aversion to fatty foods. I want crunchy vegetable stirfries and i've made two veggie soups.


Nausea: I had had no morning sickness at all, and was beginning to think i'd skipped it entirely, until the last few days of week 6 when it appeared. Very mild, even less so that with our toddler, so i am thankful. It's all day for me and more so when i haven't eaten, but still not so strong that it stops me doing anything... just makes me slow down a little and reach for a snack.
Fatigue: Yes. I noticed that i'm doing things more slowly, especially towards the end of the day. Walking up and down the stairs is tiring. Coming home from work and going through the night routine with the toddler, then knowing i have to cook dinner... really makes me want to skip dinner and head to bed after him! Housework has been neglected the last few weeks.
Other: boobs are less sore. I don't notice a difference in size, hubby swears they're bigger.

Movement: I can feel stretching in various sides, just above my pubic bone, throughout the day. Feels like something squirming, like air moving through your intestines. I expect it's my uterus starting to expand. I feel a bit 'thicker' in the middle when i bend over.

Gender: will find out at the 18-20 week anatomy scan. Will probably take a guess if we can get a nub shot at the NT scan.

What i'm looking forward to: the NT scan! Although i'm scared of it as well - mostly about placenta accreta (an indication of likelihood would be the placenta implanting over the CS scar which would be seen on an u/s), and also the same fears i had last time (chromosomal disorders or a missed miscarriage).

What i miss: brie. Sashimi salmon or tuna. Champagne! You know, just the usual :) Also the ability to have a thickshake or soft serve ice-cream, or a roll from Subway, not that i did either of those very often.

Next appt: week 8 for thyroid blood test.

I'm trying really hard to drink lots of water to keep my skin hydrated and provide baby with plenty of fluid. I found if i fill a 2 litre jug in the morning and have something to provide flavour in my glass, it's easier to drink the whole amount. Today i have (frozen) raspberries and a slice of lemon.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

5 weeks pregnant

It's been a busy week at work, so busy in fact that i still haven't booked in holidays like my boss asked me to do. I've got 6 weeks holidays accumulated from a few years (we get 4 weeks a year) that HR are on his back for me to clear, so i'd better get onto it. I think at this stage that i'll do a day here and there and then blocks of a few days, as we really have no money to go away.

Getting trades in on the new house has used up all my savings, and we still need to save up for the cost of our midwife. IMs in Australia vary in rates but mine is around the middle at $5000. We also will be booking a doula at $850. She was actually my hypnobirthing instructor last time round so i'll really have the advantage of using hypnobirthing fully during this birth. It kept me calm and focussed last time round during the CS. I've contacted her to check that she's available for our EDD and am just waiting to hear back from her.

I've contacted my midwife, she is available and happy to have us as clients again. She will contact me in a few weeks to arrange our first meeting. She explained we pay a deposit at the first meeting then the rest of the fee is done in smaller parts throughout the pregnancy. I expect i'll get the full details at our first meeting.

I booked a doctors appointment on Wednesday and had bloods and urine taken. She then did a general physical check of blood pressure, heart and palpated my stomach to check for any masses. She indicated that she thought bub was more likely to be 4 weeks along as by 8 weeks she'd be able to feel my uterus. HcG came back at 1081 mIU/mL, well within the range expected for 4 weeks 3 days gestation, as seen below (excerpt of table from, whereas we'd be expecting much higher for 8 weeks.

4 weeks LMP5 – 426 mIU/ml
5 weeks LMP18 – 7,340 mIU/ml
7-8 weeks LMP7, 650 – 229,000 mIU/ml
My TSH came back higher than desired - 4.18 where they like it below 2.5 in pregnancy, so she's upped my thyroxine dosage to 75mcg. Back for another blood test in 4 weeks to see if the changed dosage has got it down to 2.5.

Now, for my final postpartum photos (and my first photos for my second pregnancy). 24 months postpartum on the left (taken about 4 weeks ago), 5 weeks (almost 6) pregnant on the right.

Again, depending on how i breathe, the roundedness has moved to below my navel.

Same on the right.

No difference apparent from the front.


Navel comparison - sorry the second one is a bit blurry. There is definitely some change here! I think it is due to me finally getting into a routine with the 6 week Tupler Technique and managing to do 9 set of 100 contractions each day. What i found made it easy was to do 3 sets in the car on the way to work, another 3 at lunchtime and 3 on the way home (i have a 45 min commute each way).

My plan is to continue with the exercises throughout my pregnancy. I hope this will prevent the diastasis from widening and make it easier to close after birth.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The journey has started

Got this this morning :D

Still in disbelief as i really don't have any symptoms to speak of, except perhaps some movement in the lower left of my belly, as though it's my uterus starting to stretch. Or it could be gas. Lol. Last month i had the mild nausea and heavy feeling in my uterus, but that didn't stick.

Will get bloods done tomorrow to confirm pregnancy and hopefully to confirm if i'm 4 1/2 weeks pregnant or 8 1/2. I think it's 4 1/2, and the strength of that line colour seems to confirm it's still early, but the results from my ovulation microscope this cycle have been odd enough to make me wonder.

I've already lined up a hypnobirthing doula and my home birth midwife from last time (she's changed practices and is now able to take on VBACs). I'll probably wait till my test results are back before i contact them.

I will POAS tomorrow - and i'm scared

I'm a little nervous. I'm currently at day 30 of a usually 27-28 day cycle, which would normally make me fairly certain, in a cycle in which we'd been trying, that i was likely to be pregnant.

However... i still am not sure if i ovulated this cycle. The only indication that seemed to be around the right time was the presence of EWCM on days 15 and 16. But if i didn't ovulate - why? Just a  random anovulatory cycle? Could i have been pregnant from last cycle and rather than having a miscarriage, i had a partial or threatened miscarriage - something like the loss of a twin? Which would mean, i was still pregnant, and therefore didn't ovulate?

Or, could it just be that for some reason my usually reliable results on the ovulation microscope were skewed, and i have actually ovulated?

That brings me to another problem. My remaining pregnancy test (and indeed the one i used to check last cycle) is from a batch i bought before my first pregnancy. They're now two years out of date. Expired pregnancy tests can have false negatives (i.e. you're pregnant, but the test shows you're not) because the dye that reacts to hCG loses it's efficacy over time. So, tomorrow morning's result may not be conclusive.

Added to that, if it's negative... that will be the third failed cycle. I'm 36 and as we know fertility drops rapidly with age. Previous CS can also negatively affect fertility (as well as increase the chance of placenta accreta, a risk they gloss over when presenting you with the CS vs VBB option). What if we can't get pregnant as easily as we did the first time?

There's a lot of what-ifs going round and round in my head, and the only answer to them will be peeing in a cup tomorrow morning. Just a few minutes staring at a white stick, willing a line to appear, and our journey to meeting our new little bundle of joy to begin.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me.