Posts in "Sponsors"
Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads

This post is sponsored by La Crema. You can find the recipes I talk about below on their blog right here!

Herby Shrimp and Chilled Grain Salad | Freckled Italian
Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads | Freckled Italian

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been the world's most amazing hostess--she could feed a crowd with one hand tied behind her back. I think back on Thanksgiving and Christmas with a lot of lovely memories, but the ones that stick out to me the most are in the summer--Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, or really any weekend in Virginia when the sun is out, the grill is hot, and the wine is pouring.

She also always had La Crema Chardonnay chilling in a bucket on the counter--even before I started working with them it was a staple in our house and we served it every single time people came over. (Her love for the brand and its presence in our fridge at all times both encouraged me to approach them over four years ago at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City.)

My family loves to feed people and I'm so glad it's a tradition and a passion that Rob has embraced as well--I love the idea of one day cooking a ton of food for Sophie and her friends when they're home from college every summer. Nowadays we don't do as much entertaining as I'd like to, but when we do I always stick to a few basics that I learned from my mom: flavorful but easy-to-prepare dishes that you can make or at least start ahead of time, using the grill as much as possible to get everyone outside and cook a lot of things at once if you need to, and--of course--a few bottles of La Crema. 

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

When summer rolls around I love grilling seafood, especially shrimp. I buy the biggest ones I can find and leave the shells on so they don't fall through the grate, and I like to season them simply and then toss them in a ton of fresh herbs--I'm notorious for adding sliced green onion to everything in my kitchen, and grilled shrimp are no exception. Cilantro, dill, parsley, scallions--if it's fresh and green and you can chop it, you bet I'm going to be using it.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Grilled shrimp is my go-to, but my newest favorite summer thing is a cold salad with a nice grain compontent--rice, quinoa, farro, whatever you like. I cook it and cool it and add whatever greens and veggies I have in the fridge. The recipe I shared on the La Crema blog has tomatoes, kale, and arugula, but you could add spinach and cucumbers or swap any other ingredient for something you like better. Even if you aren't entertaining, it's a great dish to throw together on a Sunday evening and enjoy throughout the week.

You can find my recipes for herby grilled shrimp and a chilled salad with rice and quinoa today on the La Crema blog. I live for autumn and often wish away the end of summer, but there's nothing like a July or August cookout with friends and family.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Photos by Cue the Light.

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How I Made Prenatal Vitamins a Priority During My Pregnancy

This post was sponsored by Avion Pharmaceuticals and opinions are my own.

How I Made Prenatal Vitamins a Priority During My Pregnancy | Freckled Italian

I'm so excited to be teaming up with Prenate® vitamins again to talk about the importance of prenatal vitamins. Once again, I can't stress enough how lucky I felt to have a straightforward, uncomplicated pregnancy and then be able to give birth to a healthy baby, so the issue of access to prenatal vitamins has become something I've been really passionate about these past few months.

Maybe it's my family's history of breast cancer or my BRCA gene mutation, but a lot of the time when I would imagine pregnancy and childbirth I always pictured complications that were out of my control, so it was really important to me to try to stay as healthy as possible leading up to getting pregnant and throughout my pregnancy. I focused on my diet, fitness, and actually started taking prenatal vitamins for about a year before we planned to get pregnant, which seems like a long time--but it takes time for folate levels to rise enough to help reduce the risk of birth defects, so it's recommended that you take prenatal vitamins for at least 4 weeks before conception. 1-3 Folic acid is one of the most essential nutrients women can take to protect the health of the baby, lessening the risk of neural tube defects 1-4 , so I really wanted to make sure I gave myself some time to get those levels up.

I think we all know how important it is to keep up with them, but a prenatal vitamin truly is one of the easiest things you can do to take care of yourself and your baby before (and after) he or she even gets here. During pregnancy, drinking enough water and taking my vitamin became the thing I knew I could do and control no matter what other symptoms I may have been feeling. I was super nauseated the first trimester and about half of the second. After that, I had heartburn that really defined what I did (or didn't) eat, so I was able to rest knowing that Sophie was getting the nutrients she needed from my prenatal vitamins, even when my diet was lacking a little bit. Iron is another important mineral that supports the baby's growth, development, and may prevent iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women. 5,6 I still ended up with anemia about halfway through my pregnancy, so my midwife added an iron supplement to my vitamin regimen as well and it took care of it after a few weeks.

And now that I'm nursing, I continue to take prenatal vitamins to ensure that Sophie gets the vitamins and minerals that she needs from me. I pictured my life after baby and it included lots of healthy food and plenty of exercise, but those first few months were a bit of a whirlwind. Between recovering from labor, sleep deprivation, and the crazy hunger I felt from producing breast milk, there were several months where I would eat pretty much whatever you put in front of me. Six months later, I'm finally starting to take control of my diet again, but I'm so glad to have my vitamins to fall back on when my diet and/or lifestyle is less than ideal.

That's just my experience so far, but on a more general note, did you know that women are more likely to take their prenatal vitamins when prescribed by their physician7? And that in many cases they can be covered by insurance? Prescription prenatal vitamins are often made more affordable through Medicaid coverage to women who would not have access to prenatal vitamins through other sources, giving as many women and babies as possible a solid start. In addition, many prescription prenatal vitamins often offer savings coupons to help reduce the cost. I didn't know that prescription prenatal vitamins were a thing, but i love the idea of prescribing vitamins for before, during, and after pregnancy--they're just as important as many other prescription medications, so I think making that shift is so smart.

You can visit Prenate.com to learn more about prescription prenatal vitamins, which I didn't even know about until recently! Thanks again to Avion for sponsoring this blog post--I'm honored to have the opportunity to spread the word about an issue so important.

This post was sponsored by Avion Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.

References:

1. Czeizel AE, Dudás I, Paput L, Bánhidy F. Prevention of neural-tube defects with periconceptional folic acid, methylfolate, or multivitamins? Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;58(4):263–271.
2. Chidambaram B. Folate in pregnancy. Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences. 2012;7(2):81. doi:10.4103/1817-1745.102559.
3. Greenberg JA, Bell SJ, Guan Y, Yu Y. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2011;4(2):52-59.
4. NIH. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate. Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH Web site.
http://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional.pdf. Reviewed March 2, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018.
5. Scholl TO. Maternal Iron Status: Relation to fetal growth, length of gestation and the neonate's endowment. Nutrition reviews. 2011;69(Suppl 1):S23-S29. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00429.x.
6. Raman TR, Devgan A, Sood S, Gupta A, Ravichander B. Low Birth Weight Babies : Incidence and risk factors. Medical Journal, Armed Forces India. 1998;54(3):191-195. doi:10.1016/S0377-1237(17)30539-7.
7. Robison, J. More Women Aware of "Pre"-prenatal Vitamin. Gallup Organization, on behalf of the March of Dimes. http://news.gallup.com/poll/6130/more-women-aware-preprenatal-vitamin.aspx. June 4, 2002. Accessed April 23, 2018.
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Product Review: Motif Duo Breast Pump

This post is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps.

Motif Duo Breast Pump Review | Freckled Italian

I've really enjoyed sharing my experience with pregnancy and motherhood so far, and I'm excited to have been given the opportunity to try out not one, but two different breast pumps recently! Today I wanted to tell you a little bit about the Motif Duo, which I've been using for the past week or so.

I'm looking for a few things from my breast pump: effective suction is #1, but after that I want it to be easy to put together, easy to clean, and it gets bonus points for having a battery option and/or is easy to move (I like to pump on the couch at night but at my desk during the day).

My original pump was the Freemie Freedom Double Electric Breast Pump and it really didn't work for me. At first I liked that it had cups that went inside your bra instead of containers that stuck out, but after actually starting to pump I realized that that wasn't a super important priority for me. Technically it's nice to be able to pump inside your shirt, especially if you're at an office, but the cups stick out and are not nearly as discreet as they say they are. Plus, that thing is LOUD.

Moving on--most of the time at home I use my Lansinoh SmartPump, which was also sent to me for review (I wrote about it a little bit here). I really love it, so when Aeroflow reached out to ask if I'd be willing to try the Motif Duo as well, I was excited. As soon as I opened the box, I was relieved to see a "Quick Start" guide with an easy-to-read illustration that showed you how to put the pump together (it took me forever to figure out how to put together my first pump). I plugged it in and gave it a go! Here's what I noticed:

  • It's super easy to put together and take apart. They also sent me a nice tote that holds everything so you can take it with you. (This is exactly what I have.)
  • You can charge the pump and the battery will last 2.5 hours--I think this is awesome. My Lansinoh pump has the option to add batteries but I never do (plus it's just a little big to be carrying around with me at home or in a bag).
  • The pump's suction isn't super strong--I used both sides at first but then decided to see how it would be if I just did one at a time, and it was a bit more effective. 
    • Originally I felt like this could be seen as a drawback, but because the pump itself can be charged ahead of time and has pretty substantial battery life, I think this is the perfect pump to take with you on the go. 
    • I decided to test it out and pumped (one side at a time) in the car (I was buckled up and Rob was driving) on our way to a family BBQ about an hour from our house. Sophie was going to want a bottle while we were there and we were going to be gone long enough that I would have been feeling uncomfortable if I didn't pump or breastfeed, so it ended up working out perfectly! I put the milk I pumped on the road in the fridge when we got to my aunt's house and we were able to give it to her on the way home.

The pump is definitely on the lightweight side, but I think that was intentional (it was designed to be used on the go and it does that really well). The pump itself is only a pound and fits in your hand, so it's not going to take up a ton of room in your bag, and I really like that you can plug it in and charge it and not have to worry about batteries. It's also kind of pretty, which I don't think you can say about many breast pumps.

I hope this helps! I remember being totally overwhelmed when I was trying to pick out a pump at first, and I wish I had read a few more reviews before making a decision. If you have a pump you like, I'd love to hear about it! And thanks so much to Aeroflow for sponsoring this post--I love being able to share content like this with you guys.

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