Whew! This week marks my 9th week being pregnant!!!! I’m in the final stretch of the first trimester and my body is visibly changing with this little life growing inside me. I’ve been sick as a dog (all-day-morning-sickness) but happy as hell about it. However, there were many days over the past 2 weeks that I didn’t want any food… not Raw, not even cooked vegan… not bread… nothing! And, this coming from a woman who used to eat even with an upset tummy. However, even though I didn’t want to eat the past couple of weeks, I forced myself to eat. I had to. I was able to manage some fresh fruit, as well as a green smoothie here and there, but most of it was cooked vegan.
But, something has changed. Even though I’m still feeling nauseous (Monday and Tuesday were particularly bad), I have been wanting Raw food! I’ll still have some lentils sometimes (quinoa, beans, etc) for extra protein and such, but my body wants lots of fresh, organic Raw foods. I’m not in the mood for Raw pastas or things like that (although a piece of my Raw lasagna does sound yummy! I just don’t feel like making it. If only I could wiggle my nose and blink my eyes and magically my husband could make it!). I am craving big salads, fresh fruit, fresh veggies and dip, green juices, green smoothies… things like that. In fact, the other day, I made my famous Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce recipe and loved it up with organic Romaine hearts, carrots, and celery for three days in a row. YUM! (I also had it as a sauce on my organic cooked veggie burger —>>> DOUBLE YUM!)
I’m eagerly anticipating my CSA box on Saturday. This week in the my organic CSA, I selected:
Here is another lengthy post. I feel it’s important to continue sharing my thoughts and experiences at length because the emails and comments continue to pour in about how grateful people are that I’m providing so many specific details. First of all, thank you so much. I can’t express how much all of the love and support means to me. I also now realize more than ever just how many people’s lives have been touched by similar events, or may be in the future.
I’ve had a little more time to digest the news of my pregnancy loss and impending miscarriage. I found that yesterday, from time to time, I felt like a deer in headlights… a tiny bit of shock, some lack of motivation to do anything, and a little bit of feeling unorganized. That’s the best way I can describe it. I kind of just wanted to sit and stare at times. After talking over the possible next steps with family (details below), and being surrounded by an amazing, loving, and supportive husband and mom, I started to feel better with each and every hour.
It’s a different feeling of loss this time (at least so far) versus how it previously felt when we tried naturally and then I would get my period. Those times were extremely painful. But, this time… since we had some measure of success (that gives us hope), plus I know I have a solid plan on the very near horizon, and possibly just by the fact that we used technology to assist us… I just feel better and easier about the whole thing. Another helper (if you can call it that) is that we had some inkling that this could happen from the last two blood tests. I’ve had a week or so to wonder “what if?” So, overall, it’s just not as hard this time. Don’t get me wrong… there is definitely some disappointment and frustration, but… I simply don’t want to dwell on that. What would be hard is sitting around, being angry or sad. That would make it harder for me. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the next plan for having a wonderful pregnancy and getting my baby. With that in mind, I’m aware that grieving feelings may arise… so, as my doula warmly put it, “Be gentle with yourself.” I will. Promise.
It’s a natural part of human nature that, when bad things happen, we adjust our perspective in a way that makes it seem not so bad. Call it cognitive dissonance (I prefer the “silver lining instinct”)… it’s a heck of a lot more adaptive and constructive than curling up into a quivering ball of uselessness. Rose-tinted glasses or not, I cannot help but realize that I now know more as a result of what has happened than I did just a month ago. Knowledge is empowering… I’ve been granted a certain gift of foresight in the form of knowing what it will be like when the nine-month countdown begins. For a few short weeks, what had previously been a possible future became an expected future. An abstract idea became my imperative reality. I felt a nervous and exciting urgency, sometimes scary, in the pit of my stomach. I now know what it feels like to lie in bed at night and think “holy shit… I’m going to have a baby! I have so much to do still and the clock is ticking.”
One of the things I’ve learned this past year is that every time I’m given a fresh start to get pregnant, I find that I do things a little bit better each time. As the months go by, I’ve continued my reading and research… and as I learn more, I apply more. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned stuff I’d like to apply next time – such as… I want to make sure I’m eating enough protein (65-95 grams a day) once we make the next transfer. I don’t want to get any of it from organic soy products, rather I’ll concentrate on some cooked lentils, beans, etc…. with the remaining coming from Raw sources (sprouted quinoa, greens, green juice and smoothies, hemp and sprouted brown rice protein powders, nuts and seeds, etc). Of course, my diet will be mostly Raw except for the aforementioned cooked proteins. I want to make sure I’m getting plenty of vitamins A, E, and D in my diet as well as B-vitamins. To accomplish this, I’ll consume more sunflower seeds as well as olive oil and avocados (more about sunflower seeds and vitamin E in a moment). I’ll spend some more time in the sun. When I eat foods with beta-carotene in them, I’ll be more conscious about having a little fat with them to ensure I’m absorbing and assimilating it better (for example, I’ll add a little splash of coconut oil to my green juice with carrots). Those are a few examples. My diet is great and has been, but I’d like to fine tune it a little bit more. I’m not saying that had I been doing all of these things, I might have avoided a miscarriage. Rather, I’m excited that I can be even a little bit healthier and better prepared for it, which will benefit my baby.
Another example of lessons learned is that during this pregnancy, I started reading Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s new book, Your Best Birth. I’m a huge fan of their documentary The Business of Being Born (HUGE fan! I saw it last year when it first came out – rented it on Netflix, but I’ve since bought it so I can share it with family and friends). While reading their book, it was a tad stressful because the book goes into detail about the various ways of giving birth (hospital, home, midwife, obstetrician, etc) and as most of you know… more than anything I want a homebirth with my midwife and doula attending. I feel very strongly and passionately about this. Very. So, as I was reading the book, I realized that I needed to write a thorough and detailed birthing plan with variations for specific things (part for having the desired homebirth, but also part dedicated to the possible event of an emergency transfer to a hospital, and within that hospital part needs to have details for vaginal birth and c-section). I realized through reading the book while pregnant that I wish I had read it before getting pregnant, and I wish I had my birth plan already written. The hospital birth contingency plan will stress me out a bit to write. I also feel I need to visit the few hospitals I might have to transfer to in an emergency so I can get answers to my questions about their services and decide which one best fits my birthing plan. Again… something that could be stressful for me and would be better done when I’m not pregnant.
I also realized, over the past few weeks, that I had so many other things I wanted to focus on such as taking the various classes for the actual birth, specifically hypnobirthing (I plan on learning a few ways of assisting my birth and having hypnobirthing in my kit of tools for relaxing seems like a smart plan, even if I don’t rely on it completely). I think it would be prudent to start a class like that right away upon finding out I’m pregnant because the sooner I can master some meditation techniques, the faster I can use them to calm myself during potentially stressful times of the pregnancy. Also, I want to read everything I can get my hands on about breastfeeding (I have 4-5 books already). And, I want to immerse myself in the vaccine culture so that I’m well prepared in what kind of schedule of possibly reduced vaccination I plan to follow. I learned the past couple of weeks that not only did I wish that I already had my birth plan written, but also that I wished I already had a plan regarding vaccination. I originally planned on waiting until the end of pregnancy to dive into my stack of vaccination books. I now realize that I don’t want to do that when I’m pregnant. Vaccinations will be a tough, touchy, and controversial subject… not something I feel is positive about addressing while I’m pregnant. For my time while I’m pregnant, I just want to focus on happy thoughts and plans (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, strollers, etc) not contentious ones. I want to get the controversial planning done ahead of time.
My silver lining through these bumps in the road is that every time I didn’t get pregnant, or in this case with not holding on to it, I learned more, and for that I feel grateful. This time around, when I take care of some of these things ahead of time (before my next pregnancy) such as writing my birth plan, creating my vaccination plan, and learning hypnobirthing sooner than later, I’m setting myself up for a wonderful, relaxed pregnancy. I’m very excited about that. My smart doula also told me, “It is so so so hard to understand why our bodies do the things they do. And yet, we are asked to simply sit with the knowledge, knowing that our lessons – and the wisdom they provide – will unfold in time.” I love her!
Vitamin E and Sunflower Seeds
So, quickly about the vitamin E and sunflower seeds… Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E (lots) and vitamin E is actually known as the birth vitamin. It’s great for fertility (conception) as well as helping protect against miscarriage. In fact, the Greek word “tocopherol” means “to carry offspring” – pretty cool, eh?
My doctor gave us a few options for the miscarriage. I can do it naturally (supposedly painful). Or, I can have a suction D&C, where I’m sedated, and they take some of the tissue for analysis (although the analysis isn’t guaranteed to provide any useful information). Or, I can have my gynecologist give me medicine to induce the miscarriage. I am opting for the natural route. Once I stop my current medicine (estradiol and progesterone), which I did yesterday, I should expect the miscarriage to occur in about three days. After that, depending on “how” the miscarriage goes (will I bleed for 4-5 days? Or will it be rougher and go for 7-10 days, in which case I may end up in the ER?) will help us determine whether we think my body is healed enough for another transfer right away or whether we should sit one out so my body can recover. Dr. Chang said that some studies show a slight increase for miscarriage if you get pregnant right after, but he also explained that opposing research suggests an increased pregnancy success by doing it right after because your body is “in the mood” already (my interpretive words). Personally, I’m feeling good about getting to it right away if possible.
Another thing that makes me feel solid about the next transfer is that I’m going to do it more naturally. Unlike last time, I had about 3 weeks of fertility drugs that I had been taking prior to the transfer. (As I mentioned in my previous post, the level of drugs I took with Mini-IVF was far less than with traditional IVF, which is great… nonetheless, I still had to take some drugs for the procedure, but future transfers won’t have that since we have the embryos.) This time around they can transfer it with my normal cycle, and the only drugs I might need are the ones for supporting the pregnancy. In my mind, this is a good feeling to know my body will be healthier for the baby (and for myself).
I’d like to take a brief moment to tell you how awesome Dr. Chang was on the phone. This was the doctor who did the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Both of those times, he was so pleasant, patient, and took all the time I needed to answer my questions. I’m talking…. really patient and never for one moment made me feel rushed. On the phone yesterday, he was the same… amazing. He told me how the pregnancy didn’t look good and why. Then, he asked, “What questions do you have before we move on to the next topic?” I asked some questions, he answered them all slowly and thoroughly and then asked me again what other questions I had. He did that repeatedly through the conversation as well as giving me loads of confidence that we’re on the right track. He gave me many options for the various next steps, telling me the pros and cons of each. Then, when I told him of my desire for a natural approach, he was supportive. He made me feel like we’re totally on the same team. It’s not often that a doctor makes a patient feel so great… that her opinion truly matters… takes the time to address every little thing. And for that… I want to praise him. (I’ve learned from meeting with other fertility clinics that this is not always the case so I’m grateful to be teamed with a clinic who cares about my desires.)
And… while I’m at it… can I take a moment to praise two other people: Jessica and Melissa. Jessica was my first contact with New Hope Fertility Center, and she was an absolute doll on the phone. She helped us coordinate our planning, she answered my questions, and her response time for everything was very fast. Melissa is another sparkling gem there. She is at the front desk and I saw her smiling face every few days I went in. This gal was terrific. Every time I had a question, she either answered it (even though her role appeared to be mostly administrative, she had a solid grasp of the range of procedures and what they entailed) or she pointed me in the right direction to get the answer.
And, even though I’m not in a lot of contact with Dr. Zhang, the first doctor we met with and who is behind the scenes working his awesome magic…. he deserves praise for being as brilliant as he is. Without him, none of this would have been possible.
So! Back to My Plan.
Well! I’m going to enjoy a bar of organic, dark vegan chocolate for starters. (It’s been a long time!) I’m going to brace myself for the miscarriage and keep my feet up during this time (I might indulge in a small glass of organic wine during that – been a long time for that, too). Then, I’m going to get into my Raw lifestyle hardcore for the following 2-3 weeks because I have about 7-8 pounds I want to lose that I put on from the drugs and my increased eating of fat, etc. I’m going to exercise (I’ve been on restriction from this too so I want to get my body moving again). I’m eager to cleanse, feel light and energized, and get my lymph flowing. I am going to write my birth plan and vaccination plan. Then, we’ll head to New Hope Fertility Center in NY for the transfer and I’ll continue my clean eating, but I’ll add more protein and fat back in. I feel great about our plan!
Quick Update! I will now have 5-6 breastfeeding books. I just saw on amazon (and pre-ordered it) that Ina May Gaskin is coming out with a book on breastfeeding, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. YAY!!! Her other book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is one of my favorite books and I highly recommend it if you’re pregnant or considering getting pregnant. I suspect her next book about breastfeeding will be equally amazing!
Sunday we went to Quintessence for a raw vegan brunch. We’d heard from different people that we had to try the “bagel and cream cheese.” So, off we went on a mini-raw adventure.
I immediately liked the Quintessence when we walked in. It was a delightful place with an interior that was bright, clean, and cheerful. And, the service was superb.
I started my meal with a large glass of fresh organic Green Juice, and it was fabulous. BIG YUM! Then, I went on to have the bagel and cream cheese. It was pretty good. The cheese had a nice flavor, and although the (kamut) bagel part was hard to bite into, I still enjoyed it.
My husband had the “fofu” (a raw version of tofu). Specifically, he chose the “Fofu Benedict.” They nailed it with the raw tofu, by making something that mimicked the cooked version. Regular cooked tofu is flavorless with a unique texture. Quintessence offered the exact same, but Raw. My husband’s fofu was served on the same type of kamut “bread” as my bagel, and topped with a raw vegan hollandaise sauce.
After the meal we enjoyed a cup of teeccino. Finally! We found a place serving our favorite herbal coffee. My husband had his teeccino black, while I opted for some raw nut milk in mine. It was the perfect ending to our brunch.
Here is a list of my nutrient filled, awesome Raw food I had today. (Everything is always organic.)
1 cup water with 1T Amazing Grass’ Wheat Grass Powder, 2T Navitas Naturals’ sprouted flax meal, and 1T New Chapter Organic’s Berry Greens ~ I started my day with this alkalizing concoction. The taste is pretty decent and it’s so good for my body.
2T goji berries, 2T cacao nibs, 2T hemp seeds ~ This was a high energy, nutrient dense snack. On my kitchen counter (see pic), I have a cute gold tray with four bowls (goji berries, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds). I have a little spoon so my husband and I can just walk by and have a little spoonful of goodness when we want. I like to change the bowls’ contents from time to time. The cool thing about the raw cacao is that it suppresses my appetite, so there is no risk of my overeating on the snacks. :)
1 cup sliced strawberries, 1 banana sliced, 1/2 cucumber sliced ~ I just adore fresh fruit (sweet and non-sweet). It’s filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. It’s a great high energy snack that keeps the cells of my body happy and dancing.
Hummus with sliced carrots and broccoli bites ~ I love the hummus recipe in my Sides/Snacks book – so yummy. I seriously don’t know why people would eat processed (non-Raw) hummus when this delicious and nutritious alternative is available (and so easy to make).
1 cup Exotic Chocolate Milk ~ This is a FUN and unique recipe that will be featured in my upcoming chocolate book/ebook (available within a couple of weeks – fingers crossed!). I enjoyed this drink in one of my wine glasses to make the experience extra sassy.
Small Fluffy Green Smoothie ~ 1 cup water, 1 handful spinach, 1 apple, pinch cinnamon
Marinara with kelp noodles, Omega Crackers ~ I’m not a huge fan of kelp noodles. They have a weird texture to me. But, I’m eating them tonight anyway. My marinara sauce (available in my entree book/ebook) is so good (and I didn’t have any zucchini to make noodles) so I decided to use the kelp noodles in my refrigerator. I would probably like them a little more if the noodles were used in a salad where I might expect the texture they offer. I made Omega Crackers the other day (I used Navitas Naturals’ Sprouted Omega Blend with veggies, herbs, seasoning) and we ate a few with our noodles.
Kale Salad ~ Purple curly kale, yellow bell pepper, carrots, raisins, lemon juice, Himalayan crystal salt, and Vega’s EFA oil. Major YUM!!! I LOVE kale salads!!! Teeccino with Sweet Pomegranate Cheesecake ~ I love ending my day with a nice cup of Teeccino alongside a delicious Raw vegan dessert.
I’m heading to the gym later tonight to walk on the treadmill for about an hour. Yesterday, I ordered the book, The Face on Your Plate (for my Kindle 2), so I’m eager to start it tonight while I’m working out.
Hemp foods, now widely available in health food stores across the country, are taking the natural foods world by storm! A true “superfood,” hemp is high in protein, has excellent ratios of all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, tastes absolutely delicious, and is amazingly helpful to the environment due to its fast growth and lack of need for herbicides or pesticides.
Hemp is not your typical granola fare — it’s a subtle and delicious dream come true for foodies and connoisseurs of everything exotic and unique! These recipes range from quick snacks for the kids, to boldly sexy n’ sassy, and just like all of my recipes, they’re amazingly EASY. In this totally unique, one-of-a-kind book, you’ll find some of the most amazing recipes I’ve ever developed, all using hemp seeds, hemp oil, or hemp protein powder. Check out the photos in our photo gallery(I’d love to know which photos you like best in the comment section of today’s post). It’s been a LOT of work and I’m so proud and happy to finally have all of my ebooks available in print. It is officially DANCE TIME!!! As I promised earlier today on Facebook, I’m featuring one of the recipes from the book (both the book/ebook have been updated with new recipes added!). Let me tell you, this recipe is so good! I mean, like, really really awesomely delicious. I’ve made it every week for the past five weeks because we seriously cannot get enough of it. I’ve made it for lots of different people (non-Raw and Raw) and they all love it… I’m talking “lick-the-bowl-please-give-me-more” loving it. It’s perfect for showing off at the next party you attend or host. And, of course, it’s full of nutrition… hemp seeds (complete protein, essential fatty acids), red bell pepper and garlic (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals), and more. So, without further ado… here it is!
CHEEZY HEMP NACHO SAUCE By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com Yield approximately 1 1/2 cups
1/3 cup water
1 clove garlic 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 red bell pepper, seeded, rough chopped (approximately 1 cup) 1 cup hemp seeds 2 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes 1 tablespoon chili powder* 2 teaspoons tamari, wheat-free 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powderBlend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. This can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.*My favorite is by Simply Organic
· Use this for dipping fresh veggies or corn chips (Raw or not – it’s up to you!) · For those eating cooked vegan foods, this is an awesome sauce on top of veggie burgers · This also makes a delicious Raw vegan dressing on a hearty salad with romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and cucumbers. You could even sprinkle on some Raw vegan taco meat and Fun Corn Chips for a tortilla type salad.
I can appreciate that controversial articles can make us question our choices. We’re constantly bombarded with various advertisements, opinions, figures, information, etc., and I know it can make you wonder… “WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO?”
So, here is yet another opinion on the matter (mine). I’m emailed all the time about this issue and decided to blog about it.
Different Sweeteners For Different Reasons The healthiest sweeteners are fresh, organic whole fruits, including dates. That said, dates sometimes compromise texture in recipes. As a chef, I look for beautiful texture, and as a health food advocate, I lean towards fresh dates. And, then, as a consultant helping people embrace a Raw vegan lifestyle, I’m supportive of helping them transition, which can mean using organic raw agave nectar (an easy-to-use sweetener that might not have the healthiest ranking in the Raw food world – especially to purists, which I am not), but is still much healthier than most sweeteners used in the Standard American Diet. I think it’s important to support people in the transition with eating a healthier lifestyle and, therefore, it’s important to be flexible. After all, a slice of Raw vegan cheesecake made with raw agave nectar is a heck of a lot better than a typical candy bar found in a convenience store or cookies made with white sugar and butter (and cooked!).
Agave isn’t something that you have to put in your recipes every day. If you’re unsure about it, then balance it out with dates. Many dessert recipes probably come out with the best texture if you use raw agave nectar (think mousse, pudding, etc). But, if it’s a soup or a smoothie or a dressing, then you can pretty easily just swap out the agave for 1-2 pitted dates. In my life… sometimes I use dates or date paste (recipe below), sometimes I use raw organic agave nectar, and sometimes I use a combination of both raw agave nectar and dates.
My main stance is that I’m comfortable with organic raw agave nectar and I use it in some of my recipes. I do not consume it every day.
Raw & Organic Agave Nectar – But Is It Really? I agree that there are agave brands out there that claim to be raw and probably aren’t. The label says that it’s raw, but it doesn’t specify the temperature at which it was created. That’s why I stick with Madhava’s Raw Organic Agave for light agave (check out the FAQ of theirs for more details). I also use Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agave when my recipe calls for a darker (or blue) agave nectar. Both companies claim on the label to not process their agave nectar over temps of 115F and 118F. Update 3/6/09: I’ve recently been sent a sample of another Raw agave nectar. I’ll let you know my feedback, but from what I’ve read… it’s very promising.]
Update 12/9/09: I do like the raw agave from Ultimate Superfoods. Update 3/17/10: I came across this blog where an article is featured “Agave Nectar: Hold on now… Response to Rami Nagel’s article By Craig Gerbore, President of Madhave”
Listen To Your Body People are different and at different stages of raw (or even just healthy eating, for that matter) – this is important to consider if you have doubts about the health of raw agave nectar. Ask yourself… How does it make you feel?If you have something made with raw agave nectar, do you feel OK? Do you feel icky? Do you feel good and healthy? Many people on the Raw vegan journey find that over time, they eat meals that are simpler (for the most part) and don’t eat as many gourmet foods, where you find raw agave nectar used more. So, over time, you might not consume a lot of raw agave nectar, but to have some occasionally is common.Honey? Heck No! As a happy and very proud vegan, honey is not an option, nor is it something that I advocate for other people. Dr. Michael Klapper, M.D., (a vegan doctor and best selling author) advises against using honey for health reasons, because it spikes natural sugar levels of the body. Honey is, basically, regurgitated bee vomit. Gross!
Bees make honey for the colony and pollen for the new queen. They don’t go to all the trouble to give it to me. When a colony is disturbed by someone taking their honey or pollen, it places a great amount of stress on the bees. This can disorient them and, in that sense, their whole order has been tampered with.
I wouldn’t dream of stealing from bees. (There is a lot of information here about bees and their honey.)
In my opinion, there is no need to consume honey and harm bees, when you can use delicious and nutritious alternatives such as fresh organic dates to sweeten recipes. You can even make a date paste if you need something of a liquid nature (recipe below).
Stress About It? Double Heck No! Stress is one of the worst things for us. So, don’t stress about your choice to use, or not use, raw agave nectar. When you do things in moderation, it helps ease your mind. And, if you use agave nectar, get the best on the market (organic and raw) and feel secure with your choice.
Date Paste – Yummy & Healthy! For those of you who want to stay away from both raw agave nectar and honey, here is a nutritious alternative that is smooth and delicious.
It’s great to keep this on hand in the refrigerator so you have it available and ready to use. It’s easy and should take you less than 10 minutes to prepare. Moreover, I love Medjool dates for my date needs because they’re plump and big (I usually buy them from SunOrganic). DATE PASTE By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com Yield 1 cup15 Medjool dates, pitted, and soaked 15 minutes (reserve soak water) 1/4 – 1/2 cup reserved “soak water” Using a blender, or a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, puree the ingredients until you have a smooth paste.You can add a pinch of Himalayan crystal salt, if desired. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (glass mason jar is perfect), Date Paste will stay fresh for 10-14 days or longer.
I'm Kristen, and welcome to my blog. I'm a wife, mom, author, and I love to eat so food is usually the topic of my blog posts. I'm a former (almost decade long) vegan turned back omnivore who enjoys reading, rebounding, coffee, and dark chocolate. More...