Kefir: What Is This Superfood? … And How To Make Your Own Too!

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A little over three months ago, I started my kefir-brewing journey.  I had done some research and many had reported that eating/drinking kefir had resulted in a healthier immune system and is nutritiously balanced to help treat sleep disorders, depression and even ADHD.  There were also reports that because kefir cleanses the intestines and gut by providing healthy bacteria, it heals and cures eczema from within.  Errr….hello?  Anything that has a chance of curing my eczema, I’ll try, thank you very much :)

So I began brewing my own kefir with some kefir grains which a dear friend gave me…but more on the kefir brewing and cultivating process later.

Pronunciation

Firstly, let’s tackle the pronunciation of this kefir.  Some pronounce it as “key-fur”, but I checked a few reliable sources and I’ve come to the conclusion that kefir is pronounced “ke-fear” (with the stress on the “fear”).

What is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk drink which originates from the north Caucasus Mountains.  Nowadays, kefir is prepared using kefir grains which feed on fresh milk.  I have also read about water kefir and coconut water kefir, but I have only ever used fresh milk.  In the States, I have seen kefir sold commercially in grocery stores but in Malaysia, I have yet to see them.

Kefir typically looks like a thickened milk or a slightly watery yogurt.  Taste-wise, it is sour with a tinge of sweetness.  Some describe it as slightly tart.  If you know what fresh yogurt tastes like, the taste of kefir is not far from that.

The reason why kefir is gaining popularity is because it contains a whole host of friendly bacteria which is beneficial for our intestinal tract and gut.  Think along the lines of probiotics…well, kefir is like that, but only way better.  With a cleaner and healthier gut, the regular kefir drinker will definitely reap endless benefits in terms of a healthier body.

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Winner: SUPPORi Baby Carrier Giveaway

First of all, thank you everyone who took the time to participate in this giveaway.  Drop me a line if you enjoyed taking part and if you’d like more of these activities on my blog.  Alternatively, please let me know how we can improve it further too.

The winner of the SUPPORi Baby Carrier was chosen using a WordPress plugin which I just installed, called the Pick Giveaway Winner plugin.  It uses the random function to select a winner at random from the comments received from that post.  Actually I could have done the same thing using an excel spreadsheet but I just wanted to try this out.  Plus it looks better this way…I’m particular like that.

On to the winner then….

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Congratulations to Preeyah Bhandari!  You have won yourself one (1) SUPPORi Baby Carrier in a solid color of your choice.  I will be emailing you soon to obtain your shipping contact and details.

Thanks again to everyone who participated.  And watch this space for more giveaways to come, hopefully! :D

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8 Ways for Busy Moms (and Dads) to Bring Fitness Back Into Their Lives

I used to be a regular gym-goer before I embraced motherhood.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I would tell myself that as soon as I had baby down to a regular schedule, I would make gym-going a frequent thing again.

Of course that never happened.

Source: Essential Baby

I’m sure many of the mommies and daddies out there would agree that having  a baby changes everything.  Priorities, mindset, schedules…the works… but it doesn’t all have to completely give.  I’m here to show you how you can keep on doing your good work caring for your brood, as well as start injecting some sort of fitness routine back into your lives.  It is still an ongoing challenge for me, but these are some of the methods I have used to some degree of success.

1. Multitasking

You know how you sometimes have to do your grocery shopping with your kids?  If you’re living in an apartment, why not get them to bring in the groceries for you but instead of using the elevators, climb the stairs!  That way, you accomplish two things: bringing groceries into the house AND getting your heart rate up!  You get bonus points if your apartment is on the tenth floor or higher!

2. Before a Shower

Try squeezing in about 10 minutes or so before your shower to do some quick and effective exercise routines.  A quick search on the internet will yield plenty of exercises like squats, lunges, situps and even yoga and pilates poses that you can do right before you hit the shower.  Some exercise is definitely better than nothing, so ten minutes will certainly amount to a lot over time.  You can “steal” these 10 minutes from your time used to preen in front of the mirror. :)

3. Dance Away

Put on an exercise video and invite your kids to join you in your workout.  Everyone gets healthy this way, and homeschoolers, you will be happy to know that you can and you should add some form of exercise into your day anyway.  If you can record exercise programs from the television, do so, and you can also use these any time you need.

4. Join ‘em

If your kids are school-going (usually in the morning sessions), then you could consider signing up for a neighborhood gym.  There’s truth in the belief that when you pay for something, you tend to make your money work.  So try to sign up for a gym membership that allows you a morning-only membership.  This was what I did before I had my third child.  It worked really well, because I could drop my kids off at school, then head for the gym and thereafter shower and be right on time to pick them up from school.

However, now that I have a little baby to care for, joining a gym is out of the question.  So I was delightfully pleased when I found out about this “Mom & Baby” exercise class which I just signed up for.  It’s only for six weeks but the beauty of this class is that I can bring my baby along and be rest assured that she will be safe just playing around the area where I exercise where I can see her in full view.

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All the moms in the class bring their babies along too, so it’s a very relaxing atmosphere.  I just started last week, and I have five more weeks to go.  There’s “homework” to be done too, so hopefully at the end of six weeks, I can see some semblance of a fitter me. :)

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So yeah, if you can find a class like that and if you have a baby with you, by all means go ahead.  :)

During the class, I bring some toys for my baby to occupy herself with.  She’s getting bored with her usual toys as it is, so I was glad that today we just received a beautiful new baby toy from Applecrumby & FishLilliputiens Theophile Crocophone.

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Nowadays, it’s difficult to find good quality toys that look good and feel durable.  We all know durability is very important when it comes to toys for kids, and even more so for babies, so I was delightfully pleased with the quality of the Lilliputiens Theophile Crocophone.  It’s designed in Belgium and trust me, this is like THE cellphone for babies!  It’s made of really plush fabric, has a cool zipper around the “mouth” of the crocodile and soft numbered buttons that emit music and sounds when pressed.

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It also works like a rattle and has a velcro strap to hang on the carrier or stroller if you so desire!  It’s bound to keep her amused for sure!  So yeah, I’ll bring that along for my next exercise class.

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Incidentally Applecrumby & Fish is having a storewide sale (20% off) in conjunction with Malaysia Day.  The sale ends Sept 16 2014, so hurry on over and shop away!

5. Opt to Walk

If your kid’s school is within walking distance, use that as a reason to walk your kid to school.  In Malaysia, it is more feasible to walk in the mornings when it is not so HOT.  By walking, you get to exercise while you get your kid safely to school, PLUS use that time as a 1:1 time with your child.

6. Mommy and Me Workout

This is something I would like to try soon.  It looks easy enough to try at home and is fun for both baby and mommy.  Called the Mommy-and-Me workout,  it’s something that we mommies can do with our babies at home.  It is an exercise and bonding time all in one!

7. Jogging

If you have a jogging stroller, you can go for an evening stroll or jog while pushing baby in the stroller.  You get your workout, while baby gets to feast her eyes on the interesting surrounding world outside.  Win:Win situation there!

8. Indoors

If you have a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike at home, all you need to do is wait for baby to fall asleep, then you can hit like 20-30 minutes of cardio on these machines.  An alternative which I am trying out these days is to run up and down the stairs in my home.

Have you tried any of the exercise methods above?  Do you have any more which you would like to share?

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Homemade Pasta (and a Wish List Item for Christmas)

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A couple of days ago, something possessed me to make pasta for dinner.  I don’t mean to take out dried pasta from the packet and put into boiling salt water.  I mean make pasta from scratch.

I think I was partly delusional.

Anyways.

There I was making the pasta using Jamie Oliver’s Fresh Egg Pasta recipe.  I halfed the recipe because I just wanted to give it a try to see if the pasta tasted okay.  Besides, I had dug out this meat grinder/pasta maker device in my cabinet, and I was curious to see if it works.

So I used 300 grams of all-purpose flour and 3 whole eggs.  Kneaded the pasta dough together and made it into a ball.  Cling-wrapped it and placed in the chiller.  Took me about 20 minutes.

Then after that I tried to make macaroni with that pasta maker device I told you about.  But man, it was really hard work turning that handle!  Gosh!  And for all that work, I got like 5 pieces of macaroni each time!  It didn’t come with a spaghetti maker anyway, so I decided to roll out the pasta dough flat and proceeded to use a knife to cut it into strips.

It was tedious to say the least because I had to get the pasta as thin as possible, so it won’t be chewy.  However, slicing out strip after strip was definitely easier than grinding that mean pasta maker machine!  I finally finished cutting batch one of spaghetti strips and put them to boil.

Unbelievably, my kids LOVED it!  They even asked for seconds!

Well to me, the pasta tasted all right.  Consistency was, of course, a little thick…actually it was more like a thick linguini verging on fettucini, but the taste was very fresh.  Cooking time for fresh pasta is also shorter than dried store-bought pasta, so it cooks in about 5 minutes or so.

Nothing beats eating homemade stuff that you know you made yourself without the preservatives and other whatnots that you can’t pronounce.

And now…I think I just might add this to my Christmas wish list:

Source: KitchenAid® Mixer Pasta Roller-Cutters Attachment from Crate & Barrel

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The SUPPORi Baby Carrier: Lightweight Babywearing At Its Best … PLUS Your Chance to WIN ONE too!

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Throughout the past few years of embracing motherhood, I have experimented with many baby carriers.  I have tried the ring slings (both plastic rings and metal rings), the soft structured carriers and also just plain using no carriers at all!  Recently I was approached by SUPPORi Malaysia to test and review the SUPPORi Baby Carrier.  Here are my thoughts and views on this carrier, PLUS don’t forget to read till the end for your chance to win yourself one too!

SUPPORi Malaysia products are distributed by Unison CA.  The SUPPORi Baby Carrier originates from Japan and aims to provide a simple-to-use baby carrier that is lightweight and effective.  Indeed, the first thing I noticed when I received the SUPPORi was how small and light it was.  I was apprehensive as to whether it would be able to support baby’s weight!

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See? It fits into this nice little plastic pouch (which comes with the carrier by the way), and is so flat and nifty that it can easily fit into your purse or your diaper bag.

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I soon learned though that the SUPPORi Baby Carrier is very strong and can definitely support baby’s weight.  It is made from triple plied thread and it proven to be safe and strong.  It is able to support the weight of a baby up to a maximum of 15kg.  The recommended age for use of the SUPPORi Baby Carrier is that the baby must be able to sit upright on his/her own (about 4-6 months old) until 36 months old (15 kg/33 lbs).

As you can see, the SUPPORi is made from a very holey fabric, or mesh, and that means baby will be kept snug and cool even when in the carrier.  You know how some baby carriers tend to cover the baby entirely and in our hot tropical Malaysian weather, we sometimes worry if baby might be too hot in the carrier?  Well, no such problem with the SUPPORi because it will totally be a cool experience for baby.

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