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Alicia Silverstone interview and recipe: The Kind Mama (new book)

Alicia Silverstone shares advice and a recipe from her new book, The Kind Mama, a guide for women from fertility to toddlerhood and beyond.

Photo: Carter Smith

Photo: Carter Smith

Can you tell us about your new book and how moms can benefit from it?
I wanted to provide women with a book that was full of valuable information that would help them get pregnant, have an ailment-free pregnancy (free of the icky stuff we all assume is unavoidable—from hemorrhoids and swollen ankles to diabetes), know their birth options and empower them to make the choices that feel right for them throughout, so that they could have the most healthy little baby. And I wanted it all in one, accessible place. Basically, The Kind Mama is recipe for having the happiest, healthiest baby around.

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What are the benefits of a vegan diet? What should pregnant and breastfeeding moms, specifically, be sure to include in their diet during this time?
Eating a diet rich in Mama Earth’s little miracles can supercharge fertility and set the stage for transcendent pregnancy, a smoother birth, a healthier baby and long-term protection from disease. Your body gets everything it could possibly want from kind food, and the body in pregnancy (and new mama-hood) is no exception. The key is getting enough variety. Every plant has its own unique magical properties, so filling your plate with a wide range of veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and grains is how you make sure your body is completely fortified. In the book, I provide Kind Foods from A to Zinc: a simple guide for how to get every vitamin and mineral you need from these amazing plants.

For moms and moms-to-be who are on the go, what’s a quick breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack you would recommend?
Making big batches of grain and bean dishes is a great way to ensure that you always have a healthy, ready-to-go base for veggies and toppings. Wrapping leftovers in nori is a great way to enjoy a quick, tasty, crunchy meal (and not waste food!). Some of my favorite meal ideas include mochi for breakfast—quick and yummy. If you want a savory breakfast, miso soup and greens are easy to steam or blanch and provide you with tons of mental clarity and energy. I’m also big on making meals that deliver over a few days—and the Fat Fried Noodles recipe in The Kind Mama make for fantastic leftovers. Bean stews are easy to make, insanely yum, and also nourishing and healing.

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You can purchase Alicia’s The Kind Mama today online or at your local bookstore.

Can you tell us some of the things you try to make time for each day, in terms of fitness, beauty, food, and wellness?
I try to incorporate yoga and walking into my daily life. I aim to eat mindfully by breathing, relaxing and setting an intention before my meals—and actually chewing my food! Seriously, how many of us chew?! I snuggle my husband. And, as most busy moms will attest, sometimes the basics can feel like a luxury—so during a crazy day when I can brush my teeth and wash my face, that feels like a victory. No matter what, I try to have fun, and my foundation, rooted in the clean and life-giving food I eat, is what keeps me spunky and balanced.

If a mom can’t breastfeed, what are some other options?
I’m a proponent of milk shares, which allow like-minded women a way to connect and share their most precious resource. Start by reaching out to mom groups in your area, asking lactation consultants or putting out the word among friends and relatives that you are looking for milk from fellow kind mamas. As with anything involving your health or your baby’s health, make sure to use common sense, take precautions, ask questions and be responsible, if you decide to go that route.

What are some tips for kind mamas on a budget when it comes to eating kind and organic foods?
Start by steering clear of non-organic fruit and veggies on the dirty dozen list (as identified by the Environmental Working Group). Check your local farmer’s market—when food is in season and local, it’s way cheaper and yummier. Buy in bulk when possible (grains, beans, nuts) and seek out coupons. Check the websites of your favorite companies and stores for coupons and special promotions; almost all of them have some. Yes, organic can cost a little more than conventionally grown produce, but that’s money you won’t have to spend dealing with health problems later!

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You talk about potty training in the book—can you share some your advice with our readers?
Infants aren’t born with the instinct to eliminate in their diapers—we teach them that! Infants who are diapered get out of tune with their bodies. By tuning into your baby’s elimination needs, however, you’re not only mastering potty training by as early as nine months old, but you’re reinforcing that you’re there for your baby’s every natural need. This is called “elimination communication.” When you think baby has to go, take him to the potty (or bowl or whatever!). At first you might barely notice his cues, but, once you get the hang of the timing and use your instincts, it all falls into place. Giving baby some time without a diaper is also a great way to avoid diaper rash. And with elimination communication you’ll have many fewer soiled diapers, less expense and less mess. In the book, I talk about my own experience with this, which we started with [my son] Bear at six months. I wish I’d found it earlier!

Any final words of wisdom for new moms?
My advice for new moms is to remember that getting sleep is crucial. I know that may seem impossible, especially in the beginning, but mamas need to commit to prioritizing sleep whenever possible. And eating a kind diet is what leads to the best sleep and allows you to be the best mama you can be. When I am rested, I am not irritable or impatient—instead, I can relax and be present for all the precious moments. I would also advise mamas to not be afraid to ask for help and to seek out a “mama tribe”—women you trust and can turn to. My mama tribe is made up of women who I consider to be my wisest confidants. I admired the way they birthed and raised their own children, so I knew I could rely on them for advice when needed. And my hope is that The Kind Mama and thekindlife.com also serve as a kind of tribe, giving women the strength to be confident in their choices and know that there are millions of other women doing things in such a groovy way.

Alicia was kind enough to share the following delicious crunchy quinoa recipe from her book! It’s healthy and delish—give it a try and let us know what you think!

CRUNCHY-SWEET QUINOA COUSCOUS WITH FRESH HERBS

Makes 3 or 4 servings

This is one of my favourite grain salads. It’s quick, full of bright, herbaceous flavor and will easily become a staple in your rotation. Quinoa is very high in protein and fibre and also packs some iron. Pair that with protein powerhouse chickpeas, crunchy almonds and sweet raisins, and you have a seriously rocking dish.

Ingredients
1/4 cup dried chickpeas
1-in. piece kombu
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted almond slices or whole almonds, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil + more for finishing
1/2 tsp Herbamare seasoning, ume vinegar or sea salt
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste (optional)
1 tsp orange or lemon zest, or to taste (optional)

Instructions
In a large bowl, cover the chickpeas with 2 in. of filtered or spring water and soak overnight.

Drain the beans, add them to a medium-size soup pot, and cover with 2 to 3 in. of water. Bring to a rapid boil and skim any foam that rises to the surface. Add the kombu and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hr, checking every so often to make sure you don’t need to add more water and the beans have cooked through. The fresher the beans, the longer they can take to cook, sometimes up to 2 hr. About 10 min before they’re done, add the salt. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside.

In another pot, cover the quinoa with filtered water and swirl with your hand to give the grains a nice rinse. Drain. Add 2 cups fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 min, or until all the water is absorbed. Transfer the quinoa to a large mixing bowl to cool.

Once the quinoa has cooled to slightly warmer than room temperature, add the raisins, almonds, parsley, basil, 2 tbsp oil, and the Herbamare, vinegar or salt. Finish the dish with a drizzle of oil and a splash or citrus juice or zest, if desired.

Black pepper: If you’re entertaining, you can add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper at the end to taste. It’s not a super-healing ingredient to have normally—and this dish tastes perfect without it—but if you want to dress it up a little for company (or you are having cravings), go for it.