Kombucha During Pregnancy

Kombucha is a very well-loved drink in our household; we drink a bottle almost daily, especially after we started brewing our own! When I became pregnant, I wanted to make sure kombucha was okay to continue drinking, especially since it usually contains trace amounts of alcohol due to the fermentation process (by the action of yeasts on the sugar in kombucha).

A quick Google search proved fruitless, as only two websites discussed this issue in a more thoughtful manner. One website was from a fellow homebrewer who drank kombucha during her pregnancy and experienced no ill side-effects, although she cautioned pregnant women anyway. Another website was a mommy forum, where various women who were kombucha drinkers before pregnancy recommended against kombucha due to its mild alcoholic properties. These websites were a good start, but I knew there had to be more information out there, given that fermented drinks are common in traditional societies where pregnancy also occurs.

So far, I’ve found our homebrewed kombucha tastes better than ever during my pregnancy! Being pregnant during the summer is not for the weak, and a glass of chilled, bubbly kombucha has been a very refreshing pick-me-up (and also satisfies my need for something a little sweeter and more flavorful than water). And if you were like me, a pick-me-up was necessary quite often during my first trimester because I felt fatigued every single day for three months! Kombucha helped supply me with mineral ions that were depleted during perspiration, and I learned recently that kombucha is even better than plain water at quenching thirst because it contains dilute sugars and electrolyte of minerals, which are absorbed faster and retained longer than plain water (a fact used to encourage the drinking of commercial sports drinks, but if you read the ingredients on these labels, you’ll see that they contain A LOT of sugar and not many electrolytes).

Kombucha also aids in digestion because it contains lactobacilli, lactic-acid, and enzymes. I noticed my dietary habits changed as my pregnancy began: I ate less at mealtimes, but I wanted to eat throughout the day (many pregnancy advisors will suggest eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of big meals because progesterone slows your digestive system). I’ve been drinking kombucha almost consistently throughout my pregnancy so I don’t have a control to compare this experience to, but I know that I’ve experienced less constipation so far, and I believe it’s due to kombucha! Furthermore, the only time I ever experienced morning sickness (in the evening) was when I was not drinking kombucha and had not drunk any for a week or two (because our batch had spoiled from a gnat invasion when we were out of town). That evening, I felt extremely nauseous and vomited my lunch over multiple trips to the bathroom. The only thing I wanted at that time was something ginger-y, so my husband went and bought some of GT’s ginger-flavored kombucha. Since then, I have resumed drinking kombucha almost daily (approximately 6-8oz once or twice a day), and I have not experienced nausea again. A few weeks later, I was reading Sally Fallon’s cookbook and learned that kombucha, with its liver-supporting properties, can help prevent morning sickness!

If you’re pregnant and want to drink kombucha but are worried about the alcoholic fermentation, you can minimize it by adding whey or a little sea salt! If you’re new to drinking kombucha, try a little bit first to make sure you and your baby like it 🙂

I learned a lot about kombucha from Sally Fallon’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.

 

 

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Undisturbing Birth

According to G. Kloosterman, Dutch professor of obstetrics,

Spontaneous labor in a normal woman is an event marked by a number of processes so complicated and so perfectly attuned to each other that any interference will only detract from the optimal character. The only thing required from the bystanders is that they show respect for this awe-inspiring process by complying with the first rule of medicine–nil nocere [do no harm].

I found this quote in Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering and thought it was worth sharing.

Cefalù, Erice, Segesta, and Rome (Sicily/Italy)

Our last few days in Italy were spent in Cefalù, Sicily…

We had anticipated staying a little bit closer to Palermo, but it turned out we were about an hour away from the big city. Cefalù is located in northern Sicily, next to the Tyrrhenian Sea. I think we ran into less American tourists, but the city was still crowded with a lot of European tourists!

The first thing we saw in Cefalù was The Cathedral. I didn’t go into the cathedral (the Lion did), but what I’ve read about it is that the cathedral was built around the 1100s in the Norman style, as the Normans came and conquered Sicily in the early 1090s. We noticed that the two towers flanking the front/sides of the church were asymmetrical: one tower had a pyramid on top and merlons (the little “window” between posts on castle walls), modeled after the hats of bishops, and the other tower had a rounder “cone” on top (Wikipedia says it’s “octagonal”) and another type of merlon (Ghibelline). …I don’t really understand all the architectural terms myself, but the point is, this cathedral had two different towers, one to represent the Papal authority and the other to represent the Royal authority.

The next day, our driver/tour guide drove us over to Segesta, an ancient city that was once occupied by indigenous Sicilians (Elymians?), Romans, and Muslims. According to our guide, the people of this ancient city were a peaceful folk and relied heavily on their sea port for trade and sustenance. Eventually, of course, Segesta was targeted because of their prime location to the port, and Greek forces began to move in to conquer the area. The people of this ancient city knew they couldn’t handle the conflict themselves, so they sought the help of Carthaginians. Carthage came to their aid and destroyed the Greek city who was looking to conquer Segesta, but instead of eliminating Segesta’s enemy, this victory had the opposite effect. Other Greek cities, angered at this outcome, came to the aid of Selinus, and they all fell on Segesta at once, virtually wiping out all inhabitants of the area. What’s left today are remnants of a sort of “marketplace,” a Greek theater, a Muslim mosque indicating that Muslims inhabited the area at one time, and an unfinished Doric temple.

The 5th century temple is quite an impressive sight, despite it being unfinished. You can see it as you’re driving up to this ancient city and from the ancient city. Located on an adjacent hill from the city ruins, it has six by fourteen stone columns and is raised on a platform with at least three steps. We know that the temple is unfinished because there is no roof, and the columns are still rough and have yet to be “fluted” (the shallow grooves that are commonly found on columns of this style). Additionally, the tabs that were carved into the blocks to make transporting the stones easier have yet to be filed away for the smooth, finished look.

Our next stop was Erice, where I think we had the best meal during the entire trip. I ordered a pasta dish from Ristorante Donte S. Giuliano, and it was perfect. Pasta is always perfectly al dente in Italy, but something about the pasta, sauce, and cheese really made this dish a home run. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the dish or the restaurant except for this entrance picture, but that is a cliff-top restaurant I won’t forget about anytime soon!

We walked around Erice without much of an agenda, just enjoying being there and learning about whatever we came across. We eventually made it to the Castle of Venus, a Norman-period castle that was built on top of a temple of Venus. The castle/temple was partially covered with scaffolding and tourists, but the views up there were amazing. I only wish we had a knowledgeable guide to tell us more about this castle as were walking around it…

On our last day in Cefalù, the Lion and I went to walk the main streets and ate lunch at a restaurant who had a dock that extended far out into the sea (well, “far out” relative to the coast and other restaurants). It was pretty nice to be so far away from the hustle and bustle and enjoying delicious Sicilian cuisine!

The next morning, we boarded an early flight to head over to Rome for the day before flying home to the US. We only had about 12 hours in Rome, so we hit up some tourist destinations without the intent of going in to learn about its history. We walked through the Piazza Navona to see the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelias (one of the Lion’s idols), a replica of the Romulus and Remus statue, the Typewriter (Altare della Patria or Altar of the Fatherland), and the Roman Forum ruins. I won’t try to summarize the history of it all because I don’t think I spent enough time at each of those places, but it was a really neat experience and a trip I’d love to do again so that I can see it all again without a time limit.

We stopped by this really neat gastropub in Rome, at the recommendation of the Lion’s sister who had studied abroad in Rome earlier in the summer. I only sipped some of the Lion’s beers, but the food was really unique. We had cheese wrapped in pumpkin flowers drizzled with balsamic, a variety of cheeses with honey or hot sauce, caprese salad, bruschetta with eggplant, figs with a slice of cheese and a dot of balsamic, salami-wrapped toast, liver sausage, a sweet sausage (tasted like Chinese sausage, “lap cheung”), more bruschetta with either red peppers, cabbage, or green peppers, and delicious homemade Italian “ginger snap-doodles” (that’s just what I’m calling them because they reminded me of ginger snaps with the texture of snickerdoodles). Uh-maze.

And that concludes our Italy trip! I would like to do a sort of “reflections” post on our time in Italy, but that might not be until the Lion and I have a breather from travelling/TSA/jetlag/cramped seating/hotel beds/living out of a suitcase…

At The Cabbage (Wisconsin)

I always thought of myself as a city girl.

Born and raised in St. Louis, schooled in St. Louis, worked in Dallas, living in Orange County. And Winston-Salem, a step off a beaten path.

The past few days, the Lion and I have been hanging out with his extended family at a beautiful cabin by the lake in Door County, Wisconsin. I don’t know how much you know about Door County (I hadn’t even heard of it before), but apparently it is THE place to go if you’re a Chicagoan.

The towns here are so small that I only have 1G on my phone (I didn’t even know 1G existed)! We spent our time here talking and eating with everyone, enjoying the views, playing video games, and of course, playing Settlers of Catan.

One morning, we got to visit the sheep from a nearby sheep farm (“wool farm”?) run by a couple who also hosts a b&b. The couple, Gretchen and Dick, are wonderful people, and their sheep are sweethearts who aren’t afraid to come up to you and ask for kisses (or give you kisses if you happen to be squatting down for a picture!)! The Lion and I have visited a small variety of backyard and larger farms, and they never cease to amaze and inspire us. I am really looking forward to having chickens and goats in our future backyard, and of course some herbs and flowers and vegetables and fruits too (fertilized naturally by our animals and compost bin). I think the quality and freshness of homegrown, organic foods just can’t be beat (plus the animals are extremely entertaining).

But let’s be real, there are some real downsides to Wisconsin country life too: the least powerful shower head I’ve ever experienced, lack of organic produce, fruits, and free-range protein, a heavy emphasis on breads and sugars, and no internet or cell reception…

While many compromises were made, being in a secluded place was enjoyable still because we could hear the water and the trees, breathe in clean air, see all the stars, and enjoy the company and warmth of a wonderful family (and their little canine and bat friends) around a bonfire.

Sometimes it’s good to get away from the city for a bit, girl.

Tempus Fugit

The grandfather clock in the dining room of this little B&B we’re staying at in Wisconsin bears the timeless wisdom, “Tempus Fugit”. I had to look that one up on my phone, it sounded familiar but I couldn’t remember exactly what it meant.

I have a feeling this trip will involve another expression, “Feast or famine”, and quite literally so. We’re used to eating a certain way at home, and while we’re all about experiencing the local fare, unfortunately the local fare seems to vary wildly in terms of quality and quantity in each place we go.

Sicily I think will be more of a feast place. Wisconsin is seeming more like a famine place. Of course, there’s plenty of soda and beer and such!

The time with family here is welcome. But luckily, time flies, so we won’t have to worry about the famine for too long…

This, too, shall pass?

Monopoly In Nutritional Advice

Monopoly can not exist in a free market without government intervention (the government being, itself, a monopoly of legal force). Witness how the American Dietetics Association is attempting to gain a government-granted monopoly over nutritional advice counseling by applying for government certification protection through the US Patent Office, courtesy of a Forbes columnist:

The Association document linked above minces no words about its purpose. It opens: “This Backgrounder highlights the significant competitive threat Registered Dietitians. . . face in the provision of various dietetic and nutrition services. . . . We must be aware that existing legal and regulatory constraints on practice are unlikely to prevent robust, broad competition in these growth areas.” [Emphasis added.]

A conspiracy to prevent you from accessing alternative viewpoints on nutrition in the name of preventing competition and artificially raising prices. In other words, the ADA /AND is trying to keep you fat to keep its members’ wallets fat.