Saturday, May 30, 2015

Busy Moms Pump into Bags, or How to Wash Fewer Bottles

Medela is one of the most popular breast pump makers out there, and they have some great ideas on making pumping easier.  They are the gold standard in pumps.  Which is why the fact that their bags are not the best is very surprising and dissapointing. So the question is how can we use better bags with all of the Medela awesomeness?

First, what makes the Lansinoh bags better?
  1. Double Zippers: Lansinoh bags have 2 "ziplock" style seals at the top, so if I don't get 1 quite closed, or something gets set on top of a milk bag the chance of all of our milk leaking out is less.
  2. Soft Plastic: Partly it just feels nicer, but it is also easier to handle because it is more pliable.
  3. Lay Flat for Slim Storage: Lansinoh bags are designed to lay flat to freeze so you can fit them into your freezer more easily and a flat bag will thaw faster when you need to make a bottle.
  4. Bigger: Lansinoh bags are a little bigger if you need more than 4-5 ounces occaisionlly.

"But I really like pumping directly into bags!  Or at least I like not washing extra pumping bottles," you cry.  Good news, there is a solution for us!

The Medela bag hanger is the key.  If you have a Medela pump, then at some point you have probably bought, or been given, a box of Medela bags.  That box of bags should have included 2 plastic hanger attachments, keep those with your pump for bag pumping.

You will also need a pair of scissors.  I keep a pair with my pump.  I cut my bags in sets of 2 as needed.  If you wanted to mass produce hanging Lansinoh bags for yourself you could try an exacto knife and a cutting pad, I'm not an expert on exacto knives though.

We'll start with 1 bag for this demo. Take your Lansinoh bag and gently fold the top in half, then cut a small slit, about a quarter inch in the plastic.  I like to cut along the purple line as that seems to be low enough so that the hanger reaches just below the zippers, so milk doesn't get into the zippers, but high enough that I don't worry about accidentally cutting the top zipper.

Assemble your pumping setup including hands free bustier if you use one, screwing the Medela hangers in where you would usually put a bottle.  Then open your Lansinoh bags and pull them up over the hanger with the hanger inside so milk will go into the bag.  Then slip the cut slits over the hooks on the hangers.

Start pumping!

When you are done, carefully unhook the bag from the hanger (this is where I appreciate the hands free), check the volume in the bag, press the air out of the bag and seal the zippers.  Before you forget, label the bag with the date and volume.  You now have a bag ready for the freezer!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lactation brownies

I wanted an easy and quick recipe for lactation cookies, but I didn't want to take the time to spoon out individual cookies. I bought brownie bars with oats at Trader Joes, but they did not taste as good as real brownies.  I don't understand how and why they put so much sugar into something and then make it taste healthy. I wanted something I could eat when I get a chocolate craving that tastes good.

These are my experiments with boxed brownie mix.

The Internet research pointed me to a babycenter group (The Exclusive Pumpers) who had tried this back in 2013. One poster suggested adding 3 Tbsp flax meal and 2 Tbsp Brewers yeast straight to a boxed mix. That sounded easy.  I wanted oatmeal too though so I added half a cup, that didn't seem like quite enough so I added another 1/4th cup for a total of 3/4 cup.

I pick up brownie mixes when I see them on sale and keep them for when I need a quick dessert.  The first mix I had in my cupboard was Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix.  I hoped to find a recipe that would work with any mix.

The brownies were delicious, they tasted like fudgey brownies.  They did not rise at all though, I probably could have used the 2 eggs for cakey brownies.

Here is my suggested recipe:

1 box brownie mix and ingredients listed on the box (usually eggs, water, and oil)
2 Tablespoons Brewers Yeast
3 Tablespoons Flax Meal
3\4 cup rolled oats.
1-2 Tablespoons extra water.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl (brownie mix, oatmeal, flax, brewer's yeast)
Add egg(s), oil, water, per box instructions. Mix the batter together with a mixing spoon.  The batter should be easy to stir but not runny, if it is too stiff then add an extra Tablespoon or two of water.

Spread into a greased pan and bake per the box instructions.

Some tips for the novice baker:
-Set you timer for the shortest time in the baking directions, check if they are done, if not close the oven for another minute or two.  Repeat at the end of that minute.
-instructions usually say to insert a fork and if it comes out clean they are done.  You are looking for drippy or gooey batter on the fork, that means it needs more time. A crumb or two on the fork means they are done.
-set the pan on a cooling rack or hot pad or trivit on the counter to cool.  The heat from the oven will continue to cook the brownies if you set the pan on the stove.