Everyday Babywearing Benefits

I’ve been a stroller-pushing mom and a babywearing mom. Both kid-moving methods have their pros and cons. These are the benefits I’ve encountered while babywearing.

1) Hands-free! Grocery shopping, wrangling kids on a playground, gardening, making dinner, cleaning, folding laundry, doing light weight lifting? Babywearing is the way to go. Two hands, no device to maneuver. Easy!

2) Breastfeed on the go. Is your nursing baby hungry? No prob! Simply adjust your carrier, pop out a boob, latch on the nursling, and keep it moving. Your activities aren’t hindered for more than a moment. Plus, it’s pretty discrete — especially if you employ a cover — if modesty is a concern. (See my post here for more.)

3) Core workout. Every mom loves a good multitasking tip. Most of us also daydream about flat abs and a toned back, or maybe just slightly less marshmallowy goodness to our baby-making center. Enter babywearing… do whatever you need to do while simultaneously strengthening your core. Workout cred while perusing Target? Score!

4) Camouflage. Forgot to put on a bra? Sporting a tapestry of coffee, spit-up, breastmilk leakage, and jelly fingerprints on your shirt? Having one of those days when your postpartum body feels less rock and more roll? Babywearing hides it all!

5) Snoozing baby zen. Got stuff to do but you could really use some blood pressure lowering tranquility? Wear a sleeping baby on your chest and watch even the most irksome of errands seem suddenly inconsequential. Not even and aisle-hogging shopping cart double-parker will get to you. A heck of a lot cheaper than yoga class and fewer calories than a tall glass of wine!

6) Askew accessibility issues. Broken sidewalks, no curb cuts, poorly hinged doors, tight vestibules, narrow walking areas between clothing racks, small bathroom stalls, broken elevator, no sidewalk in a pedestrian-unfriendly area, etc. These are all inexcusable accessibility issues that should certainly be rectified BUT you can opt out of being directly affected by them if you babywear.

7) Germ aversion. Heading somewhere germy or absolutely must go out with a potentially contagious baby (hi, pharmacy run for Pedialyte and Tylenol)? Babywear to shield your little one from offending particles, or others from your tot’s malady. Bonus: if you have a newborn (or immunosuppressed) babe, people are less likely to paw at your offspring when he or she is securely strapped to your chest. Throw a nursing cover or blanket over your infant passenger for extra concealment.

8) Skin-to-skin on the go. Skin-to-skin has numerous health benefits, and not just for newborns. Babywearing allows you to do skin-to-skin regularly while you’re going about your day. Good for Baby’s health, your well-being, and your bonding.

9) Smooch with ease. Want to tousle that duckling-fluff hair, kiss your little nugget’s cheek, or give Peanut a hug… easy! No need to stop a stroller to awkwardly position yourself in front of your child in order to give affection. He’s strapped right to you, so smooch and snuggle away!

10) Be a part of the club. I’m not into exclusivity or cliques, but babywearers belong to a club. We’re like motorcycle riders, who give one another a down-low wave as they pass. We may rock different carrier models, we may range from country club preppy to crunchy hemp granola, but we’ll all give that nod of camaraderie to a fellow babywearer.

My advice: give babywearing a try (visit a babywearing group meeting or borrow a few carriers from friends before deciding or investing.) Give stroller-pushing a try, borrowing from friends and taking test drives of floor models in baby stores. See what works for you. You may be surprised at the outcome.

Whatever you decide, rock it!

10 Things NOT to Pack for a Family Beach Trip

As a first-time-mom, packing for my child’s first trip to the beach, I overpacked. I packed for the 7-day getaway the way Imelda Marcos did seasonal shoe-shopping. Nearly 5 years and two additonal kids later, these are the top 10 things I have learned not to bother packing when going on a week-long beach vacation.

1) Changing pads: why did I think my little snowflake could only have her diaper changed on a changing pad? Why did I think a towel would not suffice? Ditch the changing pad… your little petunia will do just fine having her drawers freshened on a towel.

2) Numerous perfectly coordinated outfits: 3 to 4 outfits should suit baby, in addition to a few swimsuits and a couple pajamas. You’ll be doing laundry every day anyway, so there will be quick laundry turnaround.

3) Diapers and wipes: just buy them there or ship some via Amazon to your location. Do pack a few in the car for the drive there, of course

4) Magazines/books: there will be no poolside lounging or beachfront lazing. Don’t kid yourself (see #10.)

6) A beach blanket: your child will be a sand-coated land beast within 15 minutes of your toes touching the dunes. You could choose to either accept your sandy fate or spend your entire beachside outing dusting, clearing, and securing a destined-to-be-gritty beach blanket. Bring some foldable beach chairs for brief sitting stints but, otherwise, don’t be a diva: become one with the sand. (See this post for sand removal tips.) Note: If you have a newborn, stick to a foldable beach tent with a standable stroller fan tucked inside, and a baby carrier to contain your little nugget.

6) Pricey beach toys: any toy on which you spent more than $1.50 or which requires multiple pieces to remain intact to be functional, should be reconsidered. Beach toys get lost, broken, and/or stolen by the ocean. Keep it simple… and cheap.

7) Motherhood-unfriendly attire: that strapless one-piece that baby can pull down faster than you can sneeze? Those dangling earrings that just scream “yank me”? Those shorts you tug on every few steps? Forget about them. Save suitcase space for a pair of beach flip flops, a pair of functional-but-cute sandals, close-toed shoes you could wear on a mulched playground, a couple pairs of shorts, underwear that doesn’t ride up your nethers, a few kid-friendly swimsuits, a zip-up swim cover-up, and a few tops or (if you’re nursing) a handful of nursing tanks. If you’re feeling extra hopeful, throw in a sundress just in case you maybe go somewhere that doesn’t ask if you want crayons with your menu.

8) Hygiene items: just buy them there and save yourself some packing drama. You’re going to have to do a grocery run upon arrival anyway. The adults and kids can share the same shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, bodywash, and moisturizer for one trip. Go simple, scent-free, and gentle to keep everyone’s skin (and eyes) happy.

9) The hope to sleep in: maybe — just maybe — your child will be the glimmering, rainbow-farting unicorn of an infant who actually sleeps better on vacation. That’s a big “maybe.” A better bet would be to accept some adjustment roughness for the first night or two. It’s survivable, especially if you anticipate it.

10) The expectation for relaxation: enter into this expedition knowing you will be on your feet most of the time. Any reprieve will be a bonus. Don’t fight it; just accept it. You’ll be happier in the end. Think of it as quality time with your kid(s) with built-in exercise!

Family vacations are memory-making, calorie-shredding, laughter-breeding, utterly exhausting experiences. You will simultaneously love and loathe the trip, and you won’t be alone wading through that emotional juxtaposition. All of us vacationing parents feel it too. Appreciate all you can, commit every magic moment to memory, and let the unsavory wash away with the tide.

Soak it in!

My Son Wants to be a Princess

“What do you want to be for Halloween?” I ask nearly-5-year-old #1. “Hmmm…” she thinks carefully before landing upon her decision, “Aurora from ‘Sleeping Beauty.'” She is concrete in her choice.

“My want to be Rock Star Barbie!” Quips 3-year-old #2. I think of all of the xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, hateful ramblings I’ve encountered online. “Are you sure you want to be Rock Star Barbie? People may not know who she is. Maybe a Rockstar would be more recognizable?” “No. Rockstar BARBIE,” he clarifies in his marble-mouth preschooler accent.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to be Ariel?” #1 interjects. “Oh yeah! My want to be Ariel. Toddler Ariel, like in the movie.” “We already have the costume, Mommy. It’s perfect” #1 negotiates. Yep, perfect.

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Do I have a problem with my son dressing as a mermaid and singing Disney princess songs while twirling about the playroom? Not a bit. Do I care that he readily announces his adoration for Rapunzel in public or carries a doll with him on errands? Not in the least. Do I buy him a truck instead of a Barbie when he requests the doll? Nope, Barbie it is. Do I worry about what others may say to him — not to me — about his sequin-bedecked costume choice? Yes. However, I don’t want him to know that.

I don’t want him to think he needs to or should change himself to defend himself against potential negative backlash. Why should any grown adult care what my child chooses to wear as a Halloween costume? He’s not carrying a weapon or scaring anyone. His costume isn’t age-inappropriate, sexist, racist, or violent. He’s simply dressing up as the lead character from a famous movie. So what, the character wears a seashell bikini top instead of body armor? So what if she has a glimmering mermaid tail instead of metal knuckle-claws, bulging green muscles, or a red cape? C’mon, who doesn’t want to be a mermaid?!

Even though I believe #2 should be able to choose his costume with the same freedom as #1, I worry. I worry because some people are judgmental and cruel. Some people are threatened by that which they don’t, can’t, or refuse to understand. Some people are so set on making things rigid and divided that they become threatened by anything or anyone that exists within the gray areas. They make assumptions — right, wrong, and downright ridiculous — about strangers whose lives they know nothing about.

Still, there are kind people, loving people, supportive people. People who welcome others, who treasure differences, who honor the black, white, and gray areas of life. These are the people I celebrate in our lives. These are the people whose opinions carry any shred of value to me because love (not hate), kindness (not bullying), acceptance (not exclusion) is what I teach my children.

Should I encourage my son to change for fear of the unkind people and what they might say to him, or should I allow him to be a child, to be innocent, to be genuinely himself despite what others may say? Should I imply his preferences are somehow “wrong”, because some individual with whom I in no way agree, believes in sacred social constructs designed to categorize and divide humans into neat, easily digestible boxes? Should I teach him that, instead of being true to himself, that he should acquiesce for the phobic comfort of others? Should I make a 3-year-old’s Halloween costume out to be a life-defining decision?

No. It’s just a Halloween costume. I certainly don’t remember what costume I chose at 3-years-old.  That decision had no lasting impact on my life, why should his be so controversial?

I better get to stitching those loose sequins back on that mermaid tail. #2 will run that costume ragged!

A Beginner’s Guide to Ditching Dairy

Looking to ditch dairy completely? Confused about where to start? Here are my tips.

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1) Godairyfree.org. This is the very best resource I have found for everything dairy-free, from product recommendations to restaurant guides. This site is your best friend. The dairy ingredients list is a must-bookmark link for your phone. I’m closing in on 3 years into my dairy-free journey, and I still reference the list.

2) Read labels! If you’re purchasing anything in a box or package (sauces, bread, cereal, seasonings, etc.), read the ingredient list carefully. Dairy is sneaky; it hides in the weirdest places. Don’t just look at the allergen list. Don’t expect dairy ingredients to be in bold font, either. When in doubt, refer to the dairy ingredients link noted above. If you ever wonder about a questionable product, contact the manufacturer for allergen information.

3) Be wary when eating out.  Whether it’s takeout, a 5-star restaurant, or grandma’s kitchen table, be extra vigilant of food prepared by others. Dairy allergies and intolerances are still not understood by the general public. When ordering at a restaurant, always ask the server to double-check with the chef that your food selection is — or can be — prepared dairy-free. (Do not simply take even the most well-intended server’s word for it.) If you have a dairy allergy, make that abundantly, though politely, clear to the waitstaff. Also, take a look at your food before digging in, searching for obvious dairy such as a cream sauce, cheese, or pat of butter. When eating at another’s home, you need to decide the most comfortable option for you: go potluck by bringing your own dairy-free item(s) to share — with the host’s permission of course — or go over your dietary restrictions with the host ahead of time to determine what menu items you will be able to eat. You will find, eating out will be your greatest obstacle.

4) Eat naturally dairy-free. When you go dairy-free you have two choices: try to eat as you did before or change your lifestyle to suit your new dietary needs. Don’t get me wrong, there are many increasingly available dairy-free substitutes for everything from cheese to protein powder. However, sticking to a diet that’s predominantly naturally dairy-free will not only be better for your waistline (dairy-free substitutes often contain more fat and extra processing) but for your wallet, as well. Aim for animal or vegan protein sources alongside fresh produce and whole grains, and you’re set.

5) When in doubt, go vegan. New to dairy-free ingredient searches and feeling anxious about making the wrong selection? Choose the vegan option. Since a vegan diet eliminates all animal products and biproducts, dairy will not be an ingredient. However,  if you’re sensitive to cross-contamination, you’re going to want to be even more vigilant (see #9.)

6) Don’t cheat! The better you are about maintaining a dairy-free diet, the easier it is to stay dairy-free. Your tastes will change. You will stop craving dairy. You simply have to power through. The first month will be hard, but things will get easier by the six-month mark. By your first dairy-free anniversary, you’ll likely barely think about dairy, no less crave it.

7) Find basic substitutes you enjoy. I know I said to go predominantly naturally dairy-free, but you will need some substitutes. Do some experimenting to find your preferences. Do you like coconut oil instead of butter, or are you a dairy-free margarine fan? Do you prefer coconut milk, cashewmilk, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, or hemp milk? Do you like GoVeggie vegan “parmesan” or is nutritional yeast your go-to? Do some taste-testing and recipe experimentation.

8) Learn to make a roux. Cream sauces, cream-based soups, gravies… they become readily accessible once you learn to make a dairy-free roux. My favorite uses Earth’s Balance Soy-free Buttery Spread, all-purpose flour, cashewmilk, salt, and pepper. I add nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.

9) Know your sensitivity level. Some people are highly sensitive to dairy, others are not; know where you lie. Can you handle cross-contamination? Can you risk a questionable dairy content? Be knowledgeable. Know your risk so you can make the best dietary decisions for you.

10) “Milk-free” doesn’t mean dairy-free. “Lactose-free”, “Milk free”, “Non dairy”… none of these actually mean “dairy-free.” Confusing, right? The only way to know for sure is to read the labels… carefully.

11) Know what is and isn’t dairy. Eggs are not dairy. Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk are dairy. Butter, ghee, yogurt, ice cream, margarine (if not specifically dairy-free), cheese, whey, and casein are dairy. Mayonnaise is generally not dairy.

12) Learn to self-advocate. Being dairy-free means learning how to navigate a dairy-filled world. You will need to determine how to best advocate for yourself.

13) Find a good grocer. Do your research and find a good grocery store — online or brick-and-mortar — that offers a variety of dairy-free options. The more options you have, the less deprived you’ll feel and the more content you’ll be in your diet.

14) Find a balance, find sustainability. As with any diet, balance is key because without it the eating pattern is unsustainable. Eat healthy but also find dairy-free indulgences that satisfy you. Read labels, peruse product reviews on Godairyfree.org, join a dairy-free group on social media… tasty dairy-free products are out there.

15) Think of it as a new journey, not a burden. Sure, being required to drop all dairy from your diet can be challenging, even isolating at first. You’ll find your way though. You’ll find new recipes, learn new cooking techniques, become more aware of your health, likely eat in a more nutritious manner, and possibly even lose a little excess weight. Sure, it’s annoying not to be able to give in to every cupcake craving or pizza desire, but it’s probably better for you not to do that. You’ll feel better. You’ll live better. In time, it’ll be standard operating procedure… life as usual.

You can do this!

It’s All About Perspective

I had all three kids at the pool yesterday and 3-year-old #2 was comically himself. To see the world through his eyes must be a magical spectacle.

**#1 and #2 are floating about in the pool looking under the water with their goggles. #1 chose a pink pair, whereas #2 chose a blue pair.**

#2: “Mommy, you cold.”

Me: “No, I’m fine. Why do you think I’m cold?”

#2: “You not cold? Why you lips blue?”

Me: (I feel my lips.) “Honey, I don’t think my lips are blue.”

#2: “Yeees.”

Me: “#2, you have blue goggles on. Everything you see looks blue.”

#2: (Looks around with his goggles on) “Oh.” (Paddles off unfazed.)

30 MINUTES LATER…

**#2 just put on his sunglasses and hopped back into the pool.**

#2: “MOMMY!! IT’S DARK!”

Me: (Trying not to laugh) “#2, you’re wearing your sunglasses.”

#2: (Looks at me and cocks his head) “But it’s DARK!”

Me: “Honey, sunglasses make things look darker.”

#2: (Lifts up his sunglasses, looks around, puts them back again, and paddles off.)

Lifeguard: (Utterly losing her sh*t laughing.)

We are, without a doubt, “that family” at the pool.

My Breastmilk Donation Journey

For one year, I have pumped three times daily for donation. That’s roughly 730 hours of pumping, predominantly to feed others’ offspring.

In the sleepless early months when supply was unregulated and ever-flowing, pumping three times daily was pure relief. My growing baby couldn’t possibly gorge himself enough to alleviate my oversupply. I also needed to deplete my reserves to manage my heavy letdown. If left unattended, engorgment would lead to clogs which would easily give rise to mastitis. (The dreaded “M” word… no one wants mastitis!) My heavy letdown caused my baby to choke and sputter, cry at the breast, and become gassy. So, I pumped.

I had entered into this third nursing relationship knowing I wanted to donate my surplus. I had discovered milk donation six months after having my second child. I had an overflowing freezer stash and needed to do something with the excess pumped milk. So I began researching and came across peer-to-peer milk-sharing.

I read through request posts on my state’s Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats on Feets Facebook pages. I discussed the possible venture with my husband. Then, I responded to a milk request.

At first, I had a recipient from a distant corner of my state who would occassionally retrieve milk. Then, I discovered I had a dairy allergy, and began donating every-other week to a local mom who required dairy-free donor milk. Once her daughter was weaned, I regularly shipped my milk to another recipient who lived in a bordering state four hours away. On occassion, I’d help a friend or acquaintance by giving 40-100oz. I also regularly donated milk while on vacation. Sharing breastmilk became akin to lending a cup of sugar to a neighbor; I had extra, she had none, so why not share?

This pattern continued until I was 19 months postpartum and very early pregnant with my third. Pregnancy has, thus far, been the only thing that dries my supply. As sad as I was to step away from donation, I knew wanted to rejoin the journey as soon as I could. So I did.

One week postpartum from my third child, I began pumping again. I wanted to start donating immediately, but I knew I needed to build a back-up milk stash, just in case. Three months and well over a thousand ounces later, I perused Human Milk for Human Babies’ page again. I posted an offer, received many responses, but one tugged at my heart so clearly I knew I’d found my milk baby. And so began my renewed journey of donating breastmilk.

Every few weeks my husband drops everything to help me ship breastmilk to my recipient. It is a lot of work but it’s a calling. On occassion, a friend traveling near my recipient will kindly agree to transport milk for me. Alleviating the stress, cost, and risk of shipping milk is always welcome.

Over the course of my donation journey, my surplus milk has fed 20 babies. To have the opportunity to help nourish so many children is a gift for which I’m immensely grateful.

As exhausting as it can be, I love being a breastmilk donor. Over 39 gallons of donated milk and one year later, I have yet to see a distinct endpoint to my path. As with everything in milk-sharing, it will be as it’s intended.

 

 

Appreciating the Scars

Our kitchen table is worn. It’s weathered. It’s scratched and marked and mottled with imperfections. It’s not artfully or intentionally aged. There’s no shabby-chic crackle finish or sandpapered paint. It’s simply ragged in the way well-worn items are.

At first, when we inherited the large, solid wood table as recent newlyweds we were pleased. We figured it would suit our needs, at least temporarily, until we eventually refinished it or upgraded.

Occasionally, we’d flip through catalogs and dreamily contemplate which new table to purchase. The flashy trendy set ot perhaps the simpler, classic arrangement? Then, we’d see the prices and close the catalog, turning our minds to what new finish or paint could make our table look presentable. We didn’t have the time to devote to such a task, so we abandoned the flirtation. Glancing down at our patchy table in scorn, its flaws were amplified against the shine of the new.

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Then, came the children. Each child adding paint flecks, scratches, and scuffs to the already unevenly worn finish. As I looked at the bald spots and etching, rough edges and glitter embedded in deep scratches, I became embarrassed. I wanted to hide and cover the marred table. To disguise the wear and tear of its service.

Then, one day, while cleaning the crumbs from the tabletop, I looked up and saw my children’s chairs. I traced my finger along the pink paint left behind from the baby shower for my first child. I felt the fork scratches in front of my middle son’s seat. I saw the grooves left behind by my daughter’s overzealous hand as she’d begun to learn to write her name. Then, I saw the worn patch, the permanently blond spot on the edge of the table where Nonna, my grandmother-in-law, had sat. Her seat at the table was still clearly marked so many years after her death. That’s when I realized: these aren’t imperfections, they’re memories!

Each scar tells a story. Each fleck signals nostalgia. Each worn patch stands as a place marker, mapping the seats of dearest loves.

This table wasn’t flawed. It wasn’t broken. It was beautiful in an organic, simple way. It was strong.

Every day the table served us, absorbing our abuse and displaying our lives in a tapestry of wooden memoriam. It’s not perfect.  It’s loved. It’s ours.

Why I Ditched My Flatiron

“Mommy, what’s that?” my nearly-5-year-old daughter asks, pointing to the flatiron I’m using to quickly straighten the rumpled collar of a dress she insists on wearing. “It’s a flatiron.” I respond, handing her the now-presentable frock. “Is it just a little iron for my dresses? Why was it with your hair brushes?” As I unplug the mechanism, I realize that she has no recollection of me ever using it. No memory of me searing my curls straight daily. Good!

I explain that a flatiron is a tool people use to straighten their hair. She asks why I have one since I don’t straighten my hair.

“I used to straighten my hair a lot when you were little. Then, when you were not even two-years-old, you began pulling your curls straight while looking in the mirror and saying you wanted straight hair instead of curls. I knew I needed to stop straightening my hair. I wanted you to appreciate your curls because they’re beautiful just the way they are.” “I like my curls,” she says, coiling her golden ringlets around her fingers, “I don’t want straight hair.” I smiled. “Good,” I said, “I’m glad you’re happy with your beautiful hair just the way it is. If, when you’re older, you want to play with flatirons and curling irons to change your hair for fun, that’s fine. I just don’t want you to feel you need to do it.”

“I know,” she replied, “I like my hair just the way it is.” Three years of not using any hot hair tools beyond a diffusser has proven fruitful. Mission accomplished!

Active Parenting

For the past few months, I have made the conscious decision to actively parent my children. Not in terms of involvement — I already treat motherhood as if it’s my full-time, ’round-the-clock job — but in terms of physical activity.

Instead of feeling bitter and guilty for not being able to cram a workout into my nutty day, I make my nutty day my workout. If I can fit in some extra squats, planks, ab work, and such I will, but I don’t feel defeated if I can’t. I work my body in other ways.

If the kids are playing outside and I am presented with the option to sit or stand, I stand. If I am granted the opportunity to play with the kids or remain uninvolved, I play. If I am asked to give a piggyback, I bounce to up the fun and workout intensity.

This habit has not only made playtime more fun and helped me manage my weight, but I also feel more contented at the end of long kid-wrangling days. It has increased my appreciation for my body too.

I most certainly have things I would like to adjust about my body, things I’m still working on, and things I’ve learned to accept, but my strength and endurance are aspects I honor. What’s better: those are the exact elements I can control.

As I continue my active parenting efforts, I feel my body’s strength and endurance increase and that makes me proud. Not of myself, but of my body. “Did I really just play chase with three kids around a playground while nursing my baby in the carrier? Yes, yes I did!” “Did I really just bounce-skip up that hill carrying a 20lb baby and a 30lb preschooler? Yes, yes I did!” “Did I really just give double-piggyback rides to my 3-year-old and nearly -5-year-old 10 times across a pool? Yes, yes I did!” How could you not appreciate your body for allowing you to do that?

Not only am I happier feeling stronger and more accomplished, my kids are enjoying the playful parenting. (I’m still strict, but I can play too.) I feel contented knowing I’m making sustainable strides towards a happier, healthier life, and simultaneously enjoying and building memories with my children.

If decades from now I am able to play tag with my grandkids, if I’m able to carry all of my groceries inside without a second thought, if I’m able to live life without physical limitations, what a gift that would be. That is my goal. Until then, I’ll plan to have fun along the way.

Pickle Discovery & Vegan Soup Find

I have been wasting my life until now! All of the grilled cheese — and “cheese” — sandwiches I’ve eaten and I only now thought to put dill pickle slices in between the goo-ified, crispiness? I haven’t LIVED! Believe me, it’s a must-try.

I also found a delicious, vegan soup at my local farmer’s market made by LAJ Foods. As the kids and I happily sampled the soup, the owner told me her own son has a dairy allergy and that spurred their dairy-free journey. Dairy-allergic, myself, I was hooked. I knew allergen safety would not be a concern with this vendor. I ordered a big container of the creamy kale soup on the spot.

I read the ingredients on the soup container and fell in love with the simplicity: kale, stock (celery, carrot, onion, lemon, kale, garlic), water, onion, coconut milk, nooch, parsley, salt. (For the dairy-free newbies, “nooch” is nutritional yeast, a vitamin-packed vegan powder often used to mimic a cheese flavor.)

After a jam-packed busy day capped off by late afternoon pool fun, an easy dinner was welcome. Our meal: Grilled Chao “Cheese” and Dill Pickle Sandwiches with Creamy Kale Soup. So yum!

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