What NOT to Say to Pregnant People

TL;DR If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say it!

My little baby is coming in four weeks and I’m so excited! So of course I end up talking about kids and being pregnant with just about everyone. As a first time mom, I thought I would give a short list of things that I wish people wouldn’t say to me! Different people get bothered by different things, but these are my top four.

1. You’ll never sleep again. I want to look forward to having a child, not dread it! I think this comment is extra bad, because for me it usually comes up in the following context:

Friend/Acquaintance in super caring voice: “How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Me: “Oh, thanks. No, everything’s going well. Just tired.”

Friend/Acquaintance: “It’ll only get worse once the baby comes.” (or some variation thereof)

You just went from being a source of potential help and comfort to filling me with anxiety! I’m well aware babies cry and don’t sleep through the night for the first several months. But I feel awful hearing this when I’m already tired!

2. You’ll be uglier and fatter forever. Okay, so maybe not that exact wording, but anything referring to your body being changed permanently for the worse after pregnancy. Giving birth is a thing to celebrate, right? Why add to people’s stress? Us pregnant ladies have enough stress worrying if our baby will be healthy, or if our shrinking bladders can make it to the bathroom in time.

It’s also a bit misleading. Yeah, stretch marks and urinary incontinence happen. Yeah, some people lose weight easier than others. But there are plenty of super hot mamas out there! So, don’t freak women out and discourage them just because you aren’t happy with your own post-baby body.

3. It’ll hurt like a m***er f***er

So Ive heard my entire life. Help me to be less afraid of going into labor, not more. Interesting fact: Being tense and scared of labor actually makes contractions more painful than they would be already.

4. Being a parent sucks but it’s worth it

Not sure why, but it seems to be a requirement of the parent club to complain about how difficult having children and a family is. After a long rant about how hard it is, someone will throw in a “but it’s worth it” at the end. Since 99% of our exchange was you talking about how terrible everything is, that phrase isn’t very convincing.

Like everything worthwhile in life, being a parent has its challenges; and I can appreciate you need to vent. Just maybe save it for your friends that already have kids? Please don’t make me worry I’ve made a terrible mistake!


010-smiling-face-with-smiling-eyesOn the bright side, being pregnant is teaching me greater resiliency. I take a deep breath when people tell me negative stuff, and silently try to shove it in my mental trashcan. It’s good training for being a parent. I hear they get tons of unwanted advice!

What about you? What did people say that bothered you the most during your pregnancy? Any particular coping strategies?

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Natto 納豆

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I made natto from scratch!!!! AND IT WAS NOT THAT HARD!

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So, what is natto? It’s a fermented soy bean dish commonly eaten in Japan, often for breakfast. Recently, it’s been getting some attention as a health food because it contains nattokinase, a natural blood thinner.

I’m 26, so I don’t have to worry about that! What I love about it is that it’s delicious, gentle on the stomach, low calorie, high protein, high fiber, and full of probiotics! And unlike other high fiber foods, since the probiotics have already broken down a lot of it, it shouldn’t make you too gassy (yeah, I know, gross, but this is important when planning what to eat for breakfast)!

If you’ve never tried it before, it’s REALLY funky smelling. Don’t worry! After you’ve had it a few times, all you’ll notice is a pleasant earthiness! I think the best comparison is getting used to blue cheeses.

For first-timers, I recommend dousing it in a ton of soy sauce and a small bit of spicy mustard.

I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making natto, but there really is no need. Despite the long description below, the process is actually very simple: Cook beans, add natto, and keep warm until gooey.

Ingredients:

One package store-bought natto

1/3 cup water (80 ml) (use bottled water if you have anything in your water that will kill probiotics)

2 cups (400 grams) (or as much as you want!) dried soy beans

Soak beans overnight or until doubled to tripled in size.

Steam or boil beans until they are soft and easily smashed between your fingers (or basically, a creamy texture you would enjoy eating).

With a pressure cooker, it takes 30 minutes to steam or boil them. Without a pressure cooker, expect them to boil for 6-7 hours. I don’t know how long it would take to steam them without a pressure cooker, estimates online say at least an hour. Steaming preserves more nutrients, but there’s no other reason to choose one method over the other. Remove beans from heat and strain.

Allow soy beans to cool until they are warm to the touch, but will not burn your mouth or fingers.

Combine store-bought natto and water in a bowl.

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It looks so gross, right?! This step allows you to spread the probiotics more effectively into the beans. And yes, I accidentally used more than 1/3 cup water…oops!

Leave the freshly cooked beans in the strainer, and pour the natto and water mixture over them. Mix it in, allowing the natto and the water to coat all the beans, and excess water to drain out the bottom of the strainer.

Put the beans in something without holes in the bottom (ie. Not a strainer!). And place plastic wrap directly on top of the beans. Poke a ton of holes in the plastic wrap with a toothpick (I did 20 for a large jar).

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Cover with plastic wrap and poke the plastic wrap with a toothpick

Place the beans somewhere hot and humid for 20 hours. The temperature should ideally be between 37-40 degrees Celsius (98.6-104 Fahrenheit), but don’t stress too much over exact temperatures.

My rule of thumb is “crappy hot day” level of heat 🙂 Again, this should be warm to the touch, but not burning hot. This could be a turned off oven with a pan of boiling water inside it (replace the water periodically), a yogurt maker, or even outdoors if the weather is hot enough. If choosing the last option, make sure the beans are protected from direct sunlight by draping a towel over them.

Check the beans after 20 hours. When they are ready, they should have a light white coating.

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White coating on fermented natto

When you stir the beans, gooey “strings” will come off of them. Taste to see if the flavor is strong enough for you. If not, allow to ferment longer until you like it. Store in the fridge or freezer for as long as you like 🙂

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Natto becomes gooey and stringy when stirred.

Note: If you are using more than 2 cups of dried beans, expect it to take longer than 20 hours. This is because the starter has to “grow” itself through more of the beans. I started with a 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) bag of dried soy beans, and the same amount of starter (the store-bought natto). It took between 26-30 hours to get it as strong as I wanted. Less time will yield a milder, subtler natto.

To serve: Spoon a small portion of natto (1/4 cup or more) in a cup with spicy mustard and soy sauce or natto sauce. Stir it vigorously with chopsticks until it becomes foamy and stringy. Pour on top of freshly steamed rice and add kimchi, green onions, or any other desired toppings.

To make natto sauce: Combine 1 teaspoon soy sauce, pinch of dashi powder, pinch of brown sugar, 1/8 tsp apple cider vinegar.

Homemade “Hawaiian” Rolls

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Sweet and delicious Hawaiian rolls

What are Hawaiian rolls? To me, they’re the sweet dinner rolls bought pre-packaged in US grocery stores around America. And I love them! According to Wikipedia, Hawaiian rolls are actually a type of Portuguese sweet bread made popular by immigrants in the US.

Learn something new everyday, right? Apparently, Portuguese sweet bread contains eggs and milk. My Hawaiian rolls contain none of these. Probably because the recipe is actually called “Amish Sweet Bread!” But they taste exactly the same to me (minus the preservative aftertaste, and plus fresh-from-the-oven goodness), so I’m calling them Hawaiian rolls. 😉 Besides the flavor, I love this recipe because the ingredients are things that I always have in my pantry. Big thanks to UnitedMomsNetwork for the recipe!

By the way, this is a GREAT recipe for kneading by hand. The dough is very stiff so you don’t have to worry about adding too much flour as you knead.

Yield: 14 rolls Time: 2-2.5 hours

1 cup (250 ml) very warm water

1/3 cup (68 g) sugar

3/4 tablespoon yeast (or 1/2 small package)

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

2 and 3/4 cups (352 g) All purpose or bread flour minimum

Combine water and sugar and let sit for 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add salt and olive oil.

Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time until a very firm, not-sticky dough forms.

Knead for 10 minutes by machine and up to 20 minutes by hand until the dough is firm, bouncy, and smooth. It should spring back when you push on it, and shouldn’t tear if you pull and stretch a small portion between your fingers (also called the “gluten window”).

Form into a ball and let rise in a covered mixing bowl for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough by pulling it out of the bowl. Divide the dough into 14 equally sized portions.

Shape the dough into rolls and place together in well greased cooking vessel. The rolls should be touching, or almost touching. Cover, and let rise for 30 minutes. While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C).

Bake on center rack for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans to cool or eat warm!

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These were so good that we ate all of them before I could take more photos! The roll in this picture was made with the leftover dough that wouldn’t fit in my pan. I just made a jumbo roll, free-form style. I should also add that I took this photo the day after. Still moist and delicious!