Chocolate Ganache, Custard & Banana Tart

My favorite type of desserts are those creamy, even when I eat cake, it should be soft with a fair amount of frosting. If I go for a fruit tart, it should definitely involve some kind of custard, plain fruit just won’t do it. I also like layered desserts, when with one bite you can taste a little of everything. This Chocolate Ganache, Custard & Banana Tart is a winner, it has something to please everybody, lots of chocolate for the chocolate lover guest, a creamy and sweet custard for the vanilla lover, and fresh bananas baked into the custard, for extra richness & flavor.

IMG_6614

This tart is fairly easy to make, for the crust I made a Pate Brisee, which is basically just chilled butter with flour, and it comes together in minutes in your food processor. What I like mostly about this type of crust, is the flaky texture after baking it, a little crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside, melting in your mouth when you take a bite. The crust pairs very nicely with the custard, it lets it shine, and you can taste all the richness and creaminess of the tart. The bananas are a very nice addition, you can surely omit them, but I would recommend making the tart with them. Even if they are baked, they still add a subtle fruit freshness, they become tender and mostly part of the custard, adding a nice aroma, and extra flavor.

The chocolate ganache is rich, I used bitter sweet chocolate to balance all the sweetness from bananas and custard, and this turned to be a perfect decision. There is almost no added sugar to this recipe, the dough almost doesn’t use any, and there is minimal sugar added to the custard, so it is very important that you use bittersweet chocolate, because the tart needs that small amount of sweetness from the chocolate.

The preparation involves a few steps, but all are very easy and simple to follow, and the end result is a decadent homemade tart!

Ingredients:

For Pate Brisee adapted from Martha Stewart cookbook:

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 tsp salt

- 1 tsp sugar

- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter

- 1/2 cup ice water

For the custard:

- 2 large eggs

- 1 egg yolk

- 1/3 cup sugar

- 1 cup heavy cream

- 3 ripe bananas

For the Chocolate Ganache:

- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream

- 1 tbsp cornstarch

How to:

How to Prepare the Crust, Pate Brisee:

Preheat oven  to 350F.

Make sure all the ingredients are cold, even the dry ones. Cut the butter in small pieces, add dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse, add butter and pulse, drizzle the water and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some slightly large pieces remaining. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap well in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the fridge, on a floured surface roll into a disk slightly larger than your baking dish. Roll it up over the pin, and carefully place it on top of your  baking dish and gently press to fit the dish. Pierce the crust with a fork, line on top parchment paper and fill with baking weights or dry beans. Bake until golden brown, up to 25-30 minutes. Remove the weights and the paper, an let it cool completely before pouring the custard.

How to Prepare the Custard:

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk, add sugar, pour in cream and whisk until combined. pour the custard in the baked tart crust. Cut bananas in small rounds, arrange on top of the custard, cover the whole surface. Bake until custard is just set, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let it completely cool before adding the Chocolate Ganache on top.

How to Prepare the Chocolate Ganache:

Place the chopped chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. In a small sauce pan, bring the cream just to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until combined and completely smooth. Add the cornstarch and whisk a few more times. Let it cool at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the Chocolate Ganache on top of the cooled tart, refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.

Before cutting, run a sharp knife thru cold water. Serve and enjoy!

Zucchini, Green Lentils & Bosc Pear Organic Baby Puree

I like using lentils in my baby’s purees, they are quick and easy to prepare and have many nutritional benefits. Lentils are a good source of vegetarian protein, fiber, iron and folate. While I do feed my baby animal protein, I try to limit it only once per day, usually with his dinner. For his lunch I always try to come up with a satisfying and rich in vitamins veggie alternative.

Zucchini is another vegetable that I like to use, and in this recipe I specifically combined it with lentils, because zucchini is known to help with digestion and prevent constipation. Zucchini is also high in manganese, which helps the body metabolize protein and carbohydrates.

Since both, zucchini and lentils taste more blend, I added one bosc pear, for a little natural sweetness and flavor. I also like it that this pear provides 5.5g of fiber and helps with digestion.

photo-46

Ingredients:

- 1 cup lentils

- 2 zucchinis

- 1 bosc pear

- 1/1 tbsp butter

My Baby age: 8 months

How to:

Wash your zucchini and pear. Cut length wise, remove the seeds from the pear and steam. I used my InstaPot and steamed everything for 12 minutes.

In a pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add the lentils and butter, and let it simmer for 20 minutes, until desired softness is achieved.

Please all the ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency is achieved.

photo-47

Serve it to your little one, and freeze the leftovers!

 

 

Our Honeymoon at Excellence Resort In Playa Mujeres, Mexico

Since it’s so nasty outside, rainy, snow melting, cold and foggy that I can barely see New York City across the Hudson river, I started day dreaming about all the tropical vacations that we took. We have a tradition, every spring we take a trip to Mexico, every time we try a new resort, and the experience just keeps getting better. While I was browsing through our vacations photos, I dicided to share a few with you. I always like looking at where and how people spent their vacations, and maybe discover new places to go.

I will start with an amazing place, Excellence Resort in Playa Mujeres, Mexico.

IMG_2159

We spent our honeymoon at this resort, and it was the most romantic and beautiful place we’ve been too. The resort is circled by an infinity pool, which  features a pool bar. The drinks were refreshing and tasty. Excellence is an all inclusive resort, which allows you to relax and have no worries. The staff was very friendly and accommodating.

The beach is not very large, but its private, so it is not crowded, white sand and palm trees everywhere.

IMG_2094

You can take a nap or just relax in these beautiful beach beds:

IMG_2093

or this one:

IMG_2030

The hotel offers delicious all inclusive food too, you have a few options for breakfast and lunch: the buffet or the open air restaurant on top of the pool with ocean views.

IMG_2218

Or you can always have room service. The buffet was very nice, with many options, from customized omelets you could order, to smoked salmon, fresh juice and fresh baked goods.

IMG_2025

Fresh fruit was widely available, fresh, juicy and very sweet:

IMG_2232

For dinner they fad several restaurant opened, no reservation needed, first come first served style. We tried most of them: the Mexican, Tapas, Sushi, Indian, Steak House – which served lobster at no extra cost, Italian, and our favorite by far was the Indian restaurant. The food tasted so authentic, we had dinner there 3 nights out of 8 and twice we had dinner at the Steakhouse, which was also delicious. The most disappointing one was probably the Sushi and the Italian, the food tasted blend and just not very special.

IMG_2208

The desserts were in abundance at all the restaurants and at the buffet as well, all fresh made on premises.

IMG_2228

Fondue’s were pouring, cheesecakes, brownies galore.

IMG_2236

Delicious ice cream, flan and tres leches cake:

IMG_2237

The resort itself is very beautiful, with spacious rooms and nice, tall king beds:

IMG_1949

Spacious patios:

IMG_2234

While the resort is very romantic, it does not lack in activities and nightlife. They have a schedule with activities available every Monday or Sunday for the week ahead. Every evening a new live show is played in the open air theater, it can be Michael Jackson night, or live music, or acrobats, every night is a different beautiful experience.

IMG_1966

The resort features marble floors and is large enough so you can just walk and enjoy the views.

IMG_1991

You will also find several bars you can hang out in the evening, a martini and cigar bar.

IMG_2210

All day is packed with activities you can choose from: volley ball, water polo, cooking or dance classes, fitness classes, kayaks are available at no extra cost for you to use. All in all a great place to go for your honeymoon, or just take a secluded, tropical vacation.

IMG_2054

Question: What is your favorite vacation spot?

Disclosure: We payed for the resort and all travel expenses. This is not a sponsored post.

I am a tea person…

Are you a coffee or tea person? I am definitely on the tea side. While, I may enjoy a cup of java once in a few weeks, it has to be trashed with milk, heavy cream, whipped cream or some caramel on top. I can’t drink pure black coffee, I enjoy the smell, and the whole process of roasting and grinding the beans, but I can’t have plain black coffee. My cup of coffee should be dressed, well, more likely overdressed with “fun” stuff. I still like the experience of having a Vanilla Iced Latte with Brown Sugar and extra cream during summer days, by the time all the ice melts it does not taste like coffee anyway, more like a refreshing cocktail with a little coffee.

On the other side I love tea, while I grew up we used to have tea in my family a few times a day. Morning starts with tea, we have tea after lunch, any break involves tea, someone stops by – we have tea again, in the evening we have tea, and after dinner after me and my mom settle in the living room for some gossip we have tea again. Our tea assortment was outrageous, sometimes over 20 boxes of different flavors: rooibos, black tea, green tea, white, red, herbal, decaf, homemade etc. Homemade was by far by favorite, I used to pick different herbs from my grandparents garden, and I always added mint, I am a big mint fan, and they still have a lot of it in their garden, the tea tasted so fresh and comforting.

Today I want to share with you a few tea flavors that I have been enjoying lately. I purchased a best seller tea sampler from Heavenly Tea Leaves. The sampler offers 4 different flavors, first one I tried is this amazing Serenity blend, which is a Loose Leaf Rooibos Tea, a mix of peppermint and chamomile. I like having a cup of this relaxing tea before bedtime, while reading a book or a magazine. It relaxes my body, and also it tames an upset stomach. The taste is great, mild, the peppermint is not overpowering and it tastes great with a splash of vanilla almond milk.

photo-38

Another tea part of the sampler is this Organic Green Tropics tea, which is exactly as they describe it: satisfying and flavorful! The tea has a blend of real chunks of dried fruit, the flavor of the tea is pronounced and sharp. I prefer to have this tea in the morning, it lifts my mood and wakes me up right away.

photo-40

My favorite tea from the sampler is this Tropical White tea, mostly because it has rose petals and strawberries. The tea is amazing, I am a big fan of anything rose flavored, my night cream smells of roses, my bubble bath and shower gel smell of roses, and my tea too :) . This is a romantic tea, that’s what I like to call it, the rose flavor is not too much, and the real strawberries add a nice sweetness and beautiful aroma. This is a great tea to have with your loved one under a blanket, in front of a fire place, or you can just treat yourself to a cup while taking a bubble bath.

photo-39

Last tea part of the sampler is this Organic English Breakfast Tea, very aromatic, strong nice flavor, due to he high quality black teas used in the mix. I like it on its own, or mixed just with a little green tea. Very nice in the morning with some baked goods.

photo-41

Another tea that I enjoy now is this Riston Sencha Summer, a gift from my mom:

photo-42

This green tea, again has rose petals, corn flower and strawberries, it is definitely a classic, with a subtle and elegant flower fragrance, great to be enjoyed in the morning or iced during the day.

photo-43

Another great tea that I like a lot is this Black Berry Carnival, also a gift from my mom.

photo-44

This tea is a blend of Ceylon and Chinese leaf black tea, strawberry & raspberry pieces, red rose & mallow petals, flavors. It has a very nice aroma of summer berries. I like enjoying a cup in the morning or throughout the day, it is also very good iced!

photo-45

Here you have it, some of the teas that I enjoy now, are you a coffee or tea drinker? Any tea gems out there that you would like to share? Let me know in the comment section.

Sweet Potato, Sweet Peas & Chicken Baby Puree

Hello my friends!

I am back today with a comforting baby puree recipe. My little guy is quiet the foodie, he is eager to try new flavors and textures. One of his favorite combos is sweet potato & chicken. Sweet Potato was the first solid food that he tried, so probably that’s why he likes it so much.

The other day I saw some gigantic California organic sweet potatoes at Whole Foods and I just couldn’t pass by the stand. I got one for Sebastian, but this time I decided to mix in some sweet peas as well, to get his daily “green” dose as well. The puree turned out delicious, I took a few spoons and its sweet, the chicken flavor is very mild and its satisfying. It offers the baby the necessary amount of protein and fiber, also some great vitamins from sweet potato & sweet peas.I plan on recreating the same recipe with lean lamb meat, for an extra burst of iron.

sweet potato

Ingredients:

- 1 large organic sweet potato

- 1 cup organic frozen green peas

- 1 organic chicken breast

- 1/2 tbsp organic butter

- 1/2 cup of boiled water

My Baby age: 8 months

How to:

Wash your sweet potato and cut in 1inch thick rounds. Measure 1 cup of frozen sweet peas.

Follow the instructions on your steamer. I used my InstaPot. Add the necessary amount of water to your steamer, add sweet potatoes & sweet peas and steam. I steamed the veggies for 12 minutes in my InstaPot.

In a separate pot, boil the chicken breast. Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, grind it in the food processor.

photo-36

Place steamed sweet peas and sweet potato, plus the chicken & boiled water into the blender, I used my Vitamix, and blend until desired consistency is achieved.

photo-35

Stir in the butter and pour into baby food containers and store accordingly. Baby food can be kept in the refrigerator up to 48 hours.

photo-37

Serve it to your little one and look him make funny faces!

How I clean the baby bottles

As a first time mom I had many, many questions that other people may find strange or downward crazy, however, I always thought that by asking questions you learn. Being the only child in my family, I didn’t have a brother or sister to carry for. I didn’t even have cousins younger than me, so technically my baby was the FIRST baby I had to care for. I googled and watch videos about everything: how to swaddle, how to feed, how to carry my baby etc. I found that sometimes simple answers to simple questions were hard to find, so here I am sharing now my experience, maybe it will help a sleepless mama, or at least will give you an idea of what to do.

Lets start with cleaning baby bottles!

photo-25

I am sure each mom has its own was of doing it, some maybe just give it a rinse, some boil the parts after every use, I am here to tell you about what I do, right or wrong it works for us. You can take the information with a grain of salt and maybe just use the steps that work for you.

My baby is 8 month now, and he drinks from bottles since birth. That’s a LOT of bottles to clean. First 4 months when he was eating every 3 hours, I had up to 8 bottles to clean, now he drinks 4 bottles per day, which is so much better :) . First, after he finishes a bottle, I usually fill it with water, rinse the nipple and place it on the counter. Filling it with water, makes cleaning it later much easier. If lets say, your baby ate at 6AM, but you get t wash the bottles at 6PM the milk dries out and its harder and more time consuming to clean. So, here you have, my first trick:

1. Fill the bottles with water after each use

2. Get a Bottle Brush, I have this one

3. Use natural dish detergent

4. Soak the bottle Nipples in hot boiled water with a little detergent

Now, more on number 4, sometimes to clean the nipples is the hardest part, I like them to be really clean, and usually I boil some water, set them in a bowl with a little dish detergent and hot water to soak while I clean the bottles. This is a quick sterilization method.

photo-26

Using a little detergent, the bottle brush and warm water start cleaning the bottles. Make sure you wash the sink before placing any bottles in it.

photo-28

Having a bottle brush is great, because they fit in the bottle nipples and make cleaning much easier:

photo-29

Dissemble all the bottle parts, remove the nipples from the rings and rinse well with lots of water. Assemble the bottles and place on a drying rack:

photo-30

Twice a week I use this great Steam Bags from Medela. They are very easy to use, and a great time saver, instead of boiling all the bottles and pacifiers, you just throw everything in that bag, add a little water and microwave for up to 4 minutes. Ta-dam everything is sterilized!!

photo-31

You can use a bag up to 20 times. It even has a nice log on the bag, you ca check a box every time you used the bag:

photo-32

Here are the sterilized and disinfected bottle nipples. Using the bag is such a time saver, it eliminates all the hustle of boiling the parts!

photo-33

This is how I clean my baby’s bottles. Hopefully you found some tips you can use too.

Question: Any shortcuts or advices on how to clean baby bottles quick and efficient?

 

 

Baby Food: Acorn Squash, Cauliflower and Cannellini Beans Puree

Hi there!

So, lets talk today about baby food. My little one is a great eater, not picky at all, he eats everything I cook for him and enjoys every single spoon. He is 8 month old now, and looks like bananas are his favorite food. I try to give him fruit only once a day, mixed into his breakfast or as a snack/dessert. He eats lots of veggies, lean meat, fish, yogurt and other delicious stuff.

Today I made him a puree using a new to him ingredient: cauliflower. He liked it a lot. The puree turned out delicious, very smooth, nut runny, with some texture from the beans, a little sweet and very satisfying. I used only organic ingredients to make sure he gets all the great nutrients for his growing body.

To make baby food I seat my ingredients to preserve the nutrients as much as possible. I own an InstaPot, and so far I like how easy and quick steaming is.

As always, before introducing solid food, or any ingredients use your own judgement and check with you baby pediatrician.

Ingredients:

- 1/2 of a cauliflower

- 1 small Acorn Squash

- 1package of Cannellini Beans

- 50ml boiled water

makes 32oz of baby puree

How to:

I started with this beautiful cauliflower:

photo-1

Cut it in half:

photo-3

Steam half of the cauliflower. I used 100ml of water and 10 minutes for my InstaPot.

photo-8

In the meantime, wash, cut your acorn squash, and remove the seeds.

photo-4

How beautiful is this squash? So fresh and sweet!

photo-5

Remove the cauliflower from the steamer and let it cool, while you steam the squash. Open a package of organic Cannellini Beans:

photo-6

Rinse them well under cold water:

photo-7

Once the squash was steamed, place it on a plate and peel it.

photo-9

Place all the ingredients in a blender, add a little boiled water, I used 50ml, you can add more if the consistency is too thick for your baby liking:

photo-10

Blend everything until the desired consistency is acquired, pour into baby containers:

photo-13

I was able to fill 5 4oz baby food containers and 3 4oz squeezable pouches:

photo-14

I love cooking for my baby and introducing him to new flavors and textures, but since I am a fulltime working mom, I try to cook bid batches of food, and freeze some of it. This way my baby enjoys the fresh food right and this also helps to keep a varied menu. I usually have a few different food pouches in my freezer, so my baby can have diverse diet, and won’t get bored by eating same thing every day. I hope you enjoyed this recipe!

Question: What is you baby favorite food? Any easy and delicious recipes for the little ones? Please share!

Entertain Your Baby – Part 1

<Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. All the items were purchased by me or gifted by family and friends.>

To keep our baby happy and engaged, we got a few things that would entertain him. This Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym was one of the first items I added to my Baby Registry. We started using it when the baby was almost 2 months old. Honestly, for the first month of his life he cared only about milk and sleep, he started playing and exploring after the first month. All the bright colors, soft fabric and sounds captured his attention. The mat exposes the baby to different types of fabric, it comes with a bunch of toys and a mirror, that hang down just enough for small baby hands to reach out and grasp them. The toys can been detached, you can switch, also you can attach them to a stroller. The only item I didn’t like is the mirror, it is way too small, and so the baby can’t really find his reflection. The music is very nice, with jungle sounds and the best part are the colored lights that turn on and off while the music plays and kept my baby attention for 15 minutes sometime, which is a long time, believe me!

Fisher Price GYM

Another great toy that our baby loves is his friend Fredie The Firefly. We got him this toy at almost three month, and he played with it ever since. The toy is very versatile; it attracts baby’s attention with different bright colors, and a black and white pattern on the wings. It is easy to grasp, and even if it looks big, it is lightweight, so the baby can easily play with it. The body is covered in soft velour, the attached rings are great for little baby hands to grasp on and chew. The wings make a funny crinkly sound. It also has a small peekaboo mirror that we actually never used since it is too small.

 Fredie The Firefly

Another great toy you can take with you on stroller walks, or just to distract the baby in his car seat is this Baby Einstein take along Tunes, it will keep your baby happy and engaged with 7 classical melodies and some fun colorful lights. The toy is a little heavy, so it is not very secure with small babies since they can easily hurt themselves. The music is fun, and he really likes listening to it.

Einstein take along tunes

This Manhattan Toy Winkel is a great finding too, lightweight, bright colored, easy to grasp from different angles, and it can also serve as a teething ring.

Manhattan Toy Winkle

We got this Tiny Love Take – along Arch to keep the baby entertained on his walks. It has a propeller that the baby loves, but started independently playing with it only at 6 months. The sun is shine and it reflects the light a little, the butterfly makes a crinkly sound that Sebastian likes. It is very easy to install, and you can attach other toys as well on the arch.

 

Tiny Love Tale along arch

If you would like to get a rattle ring for your baby, consider this Sassy Ratlin Ring is also a fun first toy, my baby played with it a few times and likes it.

Sassy Ratlin Ring 

We also got him the famous Sophie the Giraffe, which I liked a lot, it is hand painted, BPA free, 1005 natural rubber and food paint, it is light weight, makes a squishy sound and works as a teether. Sebastian liked it, but he wasn’t crazy about it as I saw other babies, constantly playing or chewing on Sophie. Sebastian still prefers Fredie the Firefly the most.

 Sophie the Giraffe

Question: These were the items I wanted to share with you. What is your baby’s favorite toy?

Baby Bottles Review: MAM, Playtex & Dr Brown’s

As a first time mom, even if I always planned on breastfeeding I still researched different bottles and even got a pump – just in case. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I actually ended up exclusively pumping.

My recommendation would be, that even if you plan on breastfeeding only, order some bottles when you are 8-9 months pregnant, most stores have a 3 months return policy, so if breastfeeding works for you, you can just send them back, and if it doesn’t, you don’t have to be stressed out and run to the pharmacy, wondering around confused what bottle to choose for you baby.

With that said, I have tried 3 brands of bottles with my baby. Here are the cons and pros of each one.

Baby Botles

Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottle Newborn Feeding Set

Pros:

-          Good value for the price, the set includes 5 bottles. Two of them are for the newborn stage, other three I started using them when the baby was 5 months old

-          the bottles are sold with the nipples attached

-          the nipple design allows baby to feed comfortably

-          the vent system seems to eliminate the air bubbles

-          BPA Free

-          compatible with the Medela pump, so you can pump directly into the bottle

Cons:

-          Way too many parts, while I do see the point of them, and understand that they are necessary to create the vacuum, cleaning and assembling is not fun

-          You need a special small brush to clean the parts

-          Not the best option of the go. If you have to mix formula, and assemble the bottle, and you are on the road it may not be the most sterile, since you have to touch many parts

-          Stage 2 nipples are way too fast, my baby is 7 months old now, and I still give him the Stage 1 nipple. The flow is too fast on #2, he gobbles his bottle is 1 minute and starts crying for more milk

MAM Anti Colic Bottle

Pros:

-          Good value for the price, on Amazon you can get a set of 3 bottles. I have this set, and also, 2 newborn stage bottles of 5.5oz

-          BPA free

-          The orthodontic nipple made of silky soft silicone is the best. My baby’s mouth shapes nicely around the nipple, and you can see that the suction is more comfortable for him, also, from my perspective I noticed that it prevents the baby from ingesting extra air

-          Very easy to clean

-          You can microwave the nipple using the bottle lead for a quick sterilization. You just have to follow the instructions

-          Much easier for the baby to hold

-          You can actually hear sometime how the anti-colic system works, by venting out the extra air

-          Since the bottle is wider, it makes it easier to mix formula directly into the bottle

-          Great milk flow, I am still using the stage 1 nipple with my 7 month old baby

Cons:

-          The lead may be a little hard to open sometimes

-          The small white rubber that is part of the anti-colic system, and sits at the bottom of the bottle, maybe a little annoying for some people to clean, but I don’t find it a big deal. If you didn’t rinse the bottle right away after a feeding, milk maybe stocked on the rubber, and since its white it makes it harder to detect, so make sure you always wash it

Playtex Drop Ins Nurser

Pros:

-          Very easy to clean, basically all you have to do is clean the nipple. You literally, just drop in the Pre-Sterilized liner in the bottle, pour the milk, and feed the baby

-          Portable, if you have to take a car trip, or don’t have access to clean the bottles right away, you can just rinse the nipple, drop in the liner and feed the baby

-          I use them to warm my baby’s milk, I boil some water, pour in into a cup, and place the bottle with the attached liner in the cut, with a thermometer in the milk, because the liner is very thin the milk warms up very fast, and saves us some time. After that I pour the milk in the MAM bottle and give it to the baby

Cons:

-          Not very environmentally friendly, it depends how many times per day you feed your baby, but you may use between 6-8 liners per day. While they do not recommend reusing the liners, I do sometimes, I clean it well, air dry it and its good to go again.

-          The lid is the worst part, it is so hard to take off sometimes

-          The baby is not a big fan of the nipples, I think they are too soft and not the best design

-          Stage 2 nipple provides a really fast flow, the baby finished the bottle under 1 minute

-          I would recommend this only for travel

-          Also, not the bottles are NOT microwavable

So, as you can see we are really big fans of the MAM bottles. My baby loves them, I think they are great, easy to clean and on top of all good things I said about them, the design is nice and fun.

Please note that each baby is different and maybe some bottles that didn’t work for us, your baby will end up loving. Probably, the most important message of this post is to keep trying, eventually you will find the best option that works for you.

IMG_6284

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Review and how much Pumping Costs?

Disclaimer: All the products from this post were purchased with my own money, based on the research that I did. I am not affiliated with any of the below brands.

As I mentioned in my post about exclusively pumping I got my pump while pregnant, and it was worth every penny. I don’t know if I can call it a baby item, but if so, then it was the most used and useful purchase I have made!

The bag is stylish enough, that you can use as the only bag-purse while running errands or going to work. It is medium-sized, with enough space for the pumped milk, all the pumping supplies, a wallet, tissues and some snacks.

IMG_6286

It has 2 side pockets that can be used for your cell phone and maybe keys. It has a larger back pocket, that I found not too useful, because the fabric is not stretchable and you cannot fit larger items, only flat objects. I used to keep my lip balm, a pen and some clean zip lock bags inside it. By the way, ziplock bags are great for keeping the small pump parts clean and from preventing them from touching other items in your bag.

The suction of the pump is great; I used to pump 8 times per day the first month, and by my last pumping session I probably used it 1000 times and it still worked great. The motor is a little noisy, but not bad. I liked that you can double pump – believe me this is a great time saver when you exclusively pump. With the help of this pump I was truly able to establish my supply.

The process itself it is not painful at all, the pump had different speeds that you can adjust based on your comfort level. It comes with a small storage cooler bag and ice pack, 4 bottles and one bottle nipple. Another great feature is that you can pump directly into the bottles and store them in the fridge or feed the baby right away. I also was able to pump directly into the Dr. Brown’s bottles, which is what we used from the beginning. I found that the nipple from Medela had a faster flow, which the baby didn’t like as a newborn. Pumping directly into Dr. Brown’s bottles, saved me time from washing extra bottles.

The pump is easy to use; the booklet that comes with it is very helpful and answers most questions about pumping and milk storage. The parts are easy to clean and to assemble. To be able to double pump, you have to purchase the hands free bra, which sells separately, so add this to the cost. I had the Medela Easy Expression Bustier, and I didn’t like it at all. The Hands Free Simple Wishes Breast Pump Bra is much better, and I can’t recommend it enough. It is adjustable to fit your frame exactly, and you can change it while your body changes after pregnancy.

IMG_6293

One thing I didn’t like about the pump is that the suction decreased when using batteries. While I usually pumped at home, or at work using the actual charger, I had times when I had to pump in the car or other places, and the suction was definitely lighter. Also, you can pump using the batteries only a few times, before the suction completely wears off. So if you don’t have access to a power outlet, it is a little pricey to buy batteries every week, in dependence of how many times a day you would have to pump. The pump uses 8 batteries, that I intended to last for 10 pumping sessions, but I always noticed that the suction decreased by the 5th time I used the batteries, so always have extra in the bag.

The pump is definitely convenient, I have pumped a few times in the car, while on the go and it was comfortable and I can say easy. The hard part is to make sure other people don’t see you naked LOL.

Items that I had in my Medela Pump in Style Bag all the time:

-          Pump parts

-          Batteries

-          Pump charger

-          Medela Milk storage bags or Medela Bottles

-          Medela wipes for easy cleaning

-          Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple butter

-          Hand sanitizer

-          Ziplock bags

-          Small soft towel

IMG_6292

I always had a small, soft clean towel in my bag. After you remove the valves from the breast, there is still milk, so I used it to dry out the area, before putting on the nipple butter.

After a lot of usage my pump starting making a weird squeaky sound like almost air was inside the tubes, after I replaced the membranes the sound disappeared. I always got air condensation in the tubes, which is not a problem; you just have to let the pump running for a few minutes after you are done, until the tubes are dry.

So, it looks like pumping is expensive, here is a breakdown of the cost:

- Medela Pump – $248 on sale on Amazon

- Hands Free Bra – $40 on sale on Amazon

- Medela Wipes – $9 on Amazon. Package of 24, I had 2 boxes, total cost $18.

- Medela Milk Storage Bags – $16 on Amazon. Package of 50, I had 2 boxes, total cost $32.

- Medela Storage Solution Set – $40 on Amazon on sale.

- Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter – $9 on sale on Amazon. I had 4, total cost $36.

- AA Batteries – $11 on Amazon, pack of 20.

4.5 months of exclusively pumping cost me $440. Now, you can still avoid some of the expenses, items like milk storage bags and the Medela wipes are optional. I got them out of convenience, but you can definitely pump successfully without them. You can also skip the Medela Storage Solution Set, it all depends on your supply, if you will produce enough to even need this set, so hold on before ordering this one. Or you can just use bottles, or other brand of milk storage bags that is cheaper.

Overall, to exclusively pump is not cheap, so before making any decisions weight in on all the aspects. Exclusively pumping demands commitment and dedication, you have to plan ahead and be ready for any situation. For me it was worth it, and I would do it all over again if I have to.

Catalina