Weaning Bean

Weaning the Bean

    Green Eats & Health

    Okra bhaji

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    This morning I decided to make a quickish okra bhaji. The word ‘Bhaji’ is used when the curry is dry, without a gravy.

    I’ve been eating okra or lady fingers for over ten years, since I travelled in India. I’ve since loved them as a bhaji and find it’s incredibly simple to get the flavours right, due to their distinct and strong flavour, you need only add subtle additions of spice. Okra are also incredibly good for us, containing high levels of magnesium and the allusive vitamin K (okra is made up roughly of 30% vitamin k).

    I fed it to Bean expecting he’d spit it out, but it was received pretty positively. I got very excied at this, plated up. I served with rice and dhal too. I know it’s early for curry, but the Bean is a reluctant eater, partly because he finds it bewildering to stay still, so when he shows enthusiasm, regardless of the time of day, I feed him the food.

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    What you’ll need to make the bhaji:

    • About 2 tbs of mustard seed oil. Mine is from the motherland, #Bangladesh, and it’s really tangy and pungent
    • 2-3 cups washed sliced okra (dry these,  then sprinkled with salt)
    • 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds
    • half onion, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp garlic ginger paste
    • 1 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • additional salt and pepper

    +add chilli powder too if you like a kick

    Directions:

    Add the mustard seed oil to a frying pan.

    Add the cumin seeds once the oil is hot enough (test this by adding one, listen for the crackle).

    At this point, you can add long strips of green chilli, skin side down, if you want to add heat. Be cautious if you intend feeding this to your ickle Beans!

    Wait for the seeds to crackle, and then add the onions. Fry and continue to stir for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic ginger paste, fry for a further one minute or so.

    Add the ground spice and mix well, continuing the stir constantly. This is the important part when cooking with spices: you need to observe the changing smell. The aroma should change and soften during the cooking process. From this point onward you can add the okra. This could take up to 15 minutes, but more likely to take between 5-10 minutes.

    Add the okra, coating the okra with the onion mix completely. This will require a good effort to get all the okra completely covered.

    Lower the hear from 7/8 to about 3-4, so the it cooks on a low to medium heat. Add the lid and keep covered, returning to give it a stir every 5  minutes or so. If its sticking you can add tiny amounts of water. I personally quite like to charge-grilled taste, as long as its subtle-it’ll add flavour, I promise!

    This is a really tasty dish and there are many variations that could be created I am sure. I sometimes enjoy a simple veg bhaji to accompany my dhal, so this is why I made this particular dish this morning.

    Try adding peppers, courgettes or even coconut milk? You could also try deep-frying if you’re holding a a more decadent event? Would that work? Who knows- go forth and experiment!

     

     

    Green Parent & Baby

    Our new wheels!

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    I love how you can find pretty much anything on Gumtree or Ebay, or any of the other well known sites allowing us to resell things we bought new and no longer need, but they’re still in good working order. It’s refreshing , economical and in some tiny way, helping the planet by offering mindful people like us, the platform to reuse and #recycle.

    When you consider a baby’s needs, yes these are many, but often short lived, which means that you have a constant surplus of items that you no longer have a use for. I know if you’re the kind of couple who are into family planning, then you can stow these items away and use the second, third, fourth time around. Which is also an excellent way of minimising waste.

    This is how I purchased our new stroller. The family had a lovely little boy who’s outgrown it, and they were selling this, along with all the other items he once needed but needs no more. It was a bargain too- I paid just £20!

    I have no idea how much they cost new, as I was determined to find a used one. I contacted a number of advertisers before buying this one. As with anything you’re ‘bidding’ on or competing for, timing and luck need to be on your side. Buying in this way can be more time-consuming, as we need to scroll through the ad’s, create a shortlist of suitable ads, negotiate if you feel it’s appropriate and then arrange a day and time convenient to both, to pay and collect. Yet, wandering around the high street can be just as time-consuming and often even more confusing because the choice is often larger. The other element of shopping on sites that offer preloved items is trust. If it is something that will be posted, I know people who’ve had bad experiences, and as a result avoid buying second-hand items online. I think if its something important and safety is an issue, as it was with the stroller, then aim to find a local seller. This gives you the opportunity to give it the once over and even test it out before you commit to buying. The last thing we want is for buyers to shun the preloved sector outright, because it really is the way forward in terms of reducing the damaging effect consumerismis having on the planet, even if it feels minute.

    I’m really happy with Beans new stroller. I tried it out for the first time this morning, when we popped into Bristol city centre to visit a friend. It was true to the ad: ‘in perfect working order’. I’m just chuffed that a weeks searching online has transpired into this great find.

    I was already in LOVE with Gumtree. It is my go to place for anything we need in our household and all things baby related. Although, this is my first actual baby purchase (the rest I’ve sourced largely from charity shops as Bristol#s just awesome for children’s clothes). The success of this one means its certainly not going to be the last time I turn to Gumtree for things Bean needs.

     

    Green Earth

    Zero plastic goals

    Or coffee...

    I have become completely beguiled by the #zerowaste bloggers that I’ve  discovered, mainly through Instagram. Instagram is an amazing resource that can be totally awe-inspiring. And through the amazing portal that is Instagram, I have connected with many great people. I am still in my infancy as an Instagreammer and new to the community, but I can see the wonderful relationships that have formed, and hope that one day, shedreamsingreen will be able to create the same impact.

    Being waste free means you reuse or recycle everything, and you avoid materials that cannot be recycled, that would be sent to landfill. This doesn’t just sound difficult in theory, it is very difficult in practice too. And the journey to a zerowaster, is going to be a journey where you learn from age-old mistakes, that have become habits. I have started by trying to lead a plastic free lifestyle.

    While we have a tendency of snubbing the ‘super-size’ America is renowned for, their love of big has a green side too. In he US, bulk stores are everywhere (#bulkisbeautiful) where customers are able to take their own cotton (not plastic) bags, and buy what they desire, in the quantity they desire. Therefore, you avoid over-packaged food items, you buy as much as you think you’ll consume, and you use your own refillable bags. The idea is immense. It has taken off in Germany too, where there is a zero-packaging supermarket.  Having this bulk option available would greatly reduce the need for plastic, if it were here in the UK.

    There is a form of bulk store on the Gloucester Road in Bristol, ‘Scoop Away.’ There are about 70 scoopable options, perhaps more. Yet, the shop contains packaged goods too, the same that they offer by the scoop, and the bags the customers use are plastic. So, customers like me are stills faced with the plastic issue (even though I have cotton refillable bags) the vast majority still rely on the plastic packaging.

    Therefore, to avoid plastic entirely in the UK we need to reassess what’s become the ‘norm’ and start thinking outside the box a little.

    Here is a list of the small changes I have implemented thus far:

    1. Take your own cotton bags to the green grocers
    2. Use solid shampoo
    3. Use a bar of soap
    4. Buy glass jars over plastic ones, as these can then be reused
    5. Always take cutlery on picnics, never buy plastic, take enamel plates/cups instead
    6. Bean has used wooden spoons for weaning instead of plastic ones
    7. Avoid buying water, take a flask EVERYWHERE and refill where possible (I purchased mine from Oxfam, I referred to in my Instagram feed)
    8. Avoid clingfilm by making your own beeswax wrap

    I read somewhere that tiny acts carried out by millions of people have a big impact. I am hoping this is the case. To get inspiration, I need to revisit some of the amazing Zero Waste Lifestyle gurus out there, for some amazing tips. I will include these in my follow up post on Zero Waste Living.


     

     

    Green Parent & Baby

    The old tabard

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    My grandmother who is ninety, and has been lucky enough to see two great-grandchildren enter the world, gave Bean a tabard.

    My grandmother is notorious in the family for being a hoarder. I think as a child of war, she finds it very difficult to throw things away, and also has a habit of stockpiling food items such as tins and bottles of ribena!

    When I last visited her, she handed me a tabard she had found amongst her things. It was first used for her first born, who is now in his sixties. It is in pristine condition. Bean now uses it a lot. I find baby-led-weaning quite messy, and therefore, building up layers of protection is no bad thing.

    My grandmother can’t remember who made. Perhaps she made it? But it was handmade at the time, and made especially for my uncle, this much she can remember. It is an incredibly simple pattern, with a useful purpose. It seems in those days, so much was handmade, and as this has withstood the test of time, it makes me think handmade items are more robust a lot of the time, because of the attention put into it.

    Every time Ban wear it I think of my gran and the life she had before we knew her. It is a little piece of history that is now in its third generations.

    Also, when Bean sees this in the future, or a picture of him wearing it, I will be able to tell him all about it great-grandmother.

    Green Fashion

    Clogs!

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    I was on the look out for new shoes for my sisters upcoming wedding. I’ve been eyeing up a pair of handmade Swedish clogs for a while, and decided to seize the opportunity.  I rarely buy shoes, but when I do I like to choose a brand that looks like it’ll go the distance, like Dr.Marten’s. I have also tried sourcing shoes that are handmade. This makes the supply chain and the opportunity to check the conditions in which they are made, much easier. In theory, it means it makes it easier to see from where materials are sourced and how the workers are treated. I recently discovered, ‘Buy Me Once’ a website that feature items that will last you ‘forever.’ I try to take this approach to shoes!

    I cannot tell you how I came to know about Moheda clogs, but I can tell you that I fell instantly in love. Their styles and varieties are all handmade, within the EU, and completely in-keeping with what I aim for and the principled approach to shopping shedreamsingreen strives to achieve and promote.  Moheda clogs are made in the tiny village of Moheda, in Smaland, Sweden. The factory was built 20-years ago, and shoe making has been in the family for five generations.

    So, I decided to order some in time for the wedding. I was super impressed with the minimalist packaging. The shoes were packed in one simple box, with an elastic band holding down a plastic bag, protecting the clogs from water-damage. I chose the Betty flexi Clogs in tan. They’ve got a wooden sole and heel and the upper is made of leather. No plastic!

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    The reason why we can champion shoes such as the Moheda clogs is because, as far as I can see, they are transparent in their endeavours. They are made in their country of origin, in a country that has high working standards, meaning the wearer can enjoy their shoes guilt-free.

    Fashion should always be #guiltfreefashion, so join the revolution. Who made my clothes: #whomademyclothes

    Green Eats & Health Green Parent & Baby

    The accidental ‘vegan’

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    My baby showed signs early on that he might be sensitive to dairy, via my breast milk. Therefore, since we started weaning him, he has avoided cow’s milk and as much as possible, any kind of dairy derivative. I write “as much as possible” because it is still a process of reminding myself not to feed him dairy, as previously it was a staple part in my own diet. So perhaps I fed him toast with butter on the odd occasion, and it was only retrospectively I would remember. But I’m getting better! As the weeks of weaning have gone on, I’ve become much more alert and he’s pretty much as dairy-free as they come.

    I turned to the obvious, coconut and nut based milk, preferring these over soya. We have fallen in love with oatly milk-mmmm. I did not buy any form of margarine as I am not into these kinds of substitutes having read too many negative articles about their effects on the body.

    Gradually, I found that I too began adapting my own diet to a less dairy-centric one. I now have muesli with oat milk and tea, coconut milk in my coffee and I’m hooked on really thick coconut cream with banana, apples and a dollop of peanut butter. They are great flavour combos. I’m already dreaming up coconut based alternatives to deserts I love, such as tiramisu.

    I began thinking more and more about the debate on diet, and the vegan plant based diets being healthier for not just ourselves, but for the planet.

    Then last week, I decided to completely refrain from buying any dairy at all. I made coconut based curries with fragrant rice (a staple in this house), snacked on fruit and had the coconut milk dessert I mentioned above. It was not until a friend insisted I looked “really well” and that my skin was “glowing” did I remember, and then reflect on my dairy-free journey thus far.

    The really funny thing is, I had completely forgotten I was secretly participating in this project, which suggests it is easier than first thought.

    I have been following vegan accounts on Instagram, displaying their inspiration al food for some time, privately contemplating joining this ever-growing community of committed vegans.

    The dedication people have towards their plant-based diet is really remarkable, and so many of the creations they share look truly mesmerising.  I’ve become really inspired, and something inside me feels healthier by just looking at this food, knowing that the fat it contains, isn’t the globule sweat-inducing kind connected to dairy-based foods, but a much kinder fat. So much so I intend to document my ‘Week as a Vegan’ in the very near future.

    None of this would have come about if my Bean hadn’t been perceivably intolerant of dairy. Further to my suspicions, I did try him with a little Greek yoghurt and he bought it back up. He’s half Asian too. Apparently it’s very common in the Asian communities to be lactose intolerant.

    This whole episode has made me rethink my diet. Surely a Green Diet is one that is as plant-based as possible.

    I currently don’t eat meat and seldom,  poultry but I do eat/love fish. I have even bigger love of grains of every kind, and my diet is generally healthy and full of colour.

    My Week as a Vegan will take place soon.