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Mother Essentials: Hetal Vasavada

Written by Erin Feher

Don’t read this Mother Essentials if you’re hungry—today’s mama is a master in the kitchen, and is known for gorgeous and fragrant desserts inspired by her mother country of India. Hetal Vasavada made her small screen debut as a contestant on Season 6 of MasterChef, and followed it up with a best-selling cookbook, Milk & Cardamom: Spectacular Cakes, Custards and More, Inspired by the Flavors of India. On her blog of the same name she shares recipes, as well as tips for fellow food-obsessed mamas. So, it should come as no surprise that her Mother Essentials are packed with exquisite ingredients and delicious treats for both herself and her daughter, Elara, 3 1/2. Even their bath goodies smell amazing! Check out her full list below.

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings App. “My husband and I noticed a lot of Elara’s tantrums stemmed from her not being able to express her feelings or emotions. We decided to use learning aids to teach her about feelings and how to express and deal with them. This app not only teaches her about her own emotions, but also how to identify emotions in others, building her emotional IQ. The songs have helped us get through some of the roughest of tantrums.” Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings App, PBS.

Protein-Packed Smoothies and Pouches. “Elara has a cold-pressed Once Upon a Farm fruit or veggie pouch just about every morning for breakfast—it’s perfect for on the go when you’re running late, which happens way too often in my household—and a protein-packed smoothie in the afternoon when she gets home from school. I keep them in a snack drawer in the fridge, so she can grab one whenever she gets hungry.” Once Upon a Farm Organic Dairy Free Super Smoothie Pouch, $75.36 (pack of 24), Amazon.

Just Pomegranate Syrup. “This organic and refined sugar–free pomegranate molasses is my go-to for sweetening lemonades or bubbly water—when I’m craving soda. It’s tart, sweet, and is made by a fellow Indian American mom, Sylvie Charles.” Just Pomegranate Syrup, $13.99, Amazon.

Frozen 2 Soundtrack.Into the Unknown is a favorite on car rides, Saturday mornings, pre-dinner music time, and… basically any moment at all.” Frozen 2 Soundtrack, $9.49, Amazon.

Lemon & Cardamom Ice Cream. “Hands-down the best ice cream flavor I’ve ever had. It starts off super bright and lemony and ends with a creamy cardamom flavor. It’s luscious and rich and goes perfectly with a slice of warm apple pie.” Malai Ice Cream, $12, Whole Foods

Indian Monsoon Candle. “Every day after I make dinner, I light a candle to freshen up the room. My current go-to has been the Indian Monsoon candle—I love how earthy and fresh it smells. The founder, Sonya, really captured that post-rain smell. Plus, they’re vegan, soy-based, and hand-poured.” Scrumptious Wicks Indian Monsoon Candle, $12, Scrumptious Wicks.

Lingododo Gujarati Pad. “One of my biggest struggles is teaching Elara my mother language, Gujarati. We don’t speak it at home as much as I wish we would, and most Gujarati classes and learning products are for older kids who can read or write. The learning pad is great for toddlers and I can hear Elara repeating the words and songs she’s heard from this toy, helping her build her vocabulary.” Lingododo Gujarati Pad, $39.99, Lingododo.

Thinx Period Underwear. “Ok, at first I was skeptical about these and only bought one pair to try out. They have totally changed my period experience and make me feel like my periods are shorter, since I’m not stressing over leaking or pad lines. They’re so comfortable and I have never leaked once with them. I ended up buying a couple more pairs and use them on my medium and light days.” Thinx Super Cotton Briefs Period Underwear, $39, Thinx.

Baby Ganesh. “Toys like this one help me introduce my culture to Elara in a fun and easy way. She recently has been getting night terrors and we tell her that Ganesh will always protect her, which gives her some peace. As a first-generation Indian American, I often worry about my culture being diluted down since she isn’t growing up in a household eating Indian food every day and going to the mandir every weekend like I did, but products like these make it easier to hold on.” Baby Ganesh Plush Toy with Mantras, $30, Modi Toys.

Rumi Saffron. “My main expertise is in Indian desserts and I use saffron quite a lot in my recipes. I like using Rumi saffron since it employs over a thousand women in Afghanistan, has amazing color and flavor payoff, and is sustainably farmed.” Rumi Spice Saffron, $8.99, Amazon.

Masala Baby Mommy-and-Me Outfits. “Elara loves to match with me and Masala Baby has some adorable outfits for both mom and kid. I love the fun prints and unique styles they have.” Masala Baby, $11 and up, Amazon.

Asana. “Between social media management, food photography, content creation, and household stuff, I have to keep track of a ton of checklists and Asana helps me stay sane.” Asana.

Mini Flex-Core Spatula. “My favorite kitchen tool ever. It’s small, sturdy, heat-proof, and easy to clean. I use it to scoop all the product out of a jar, stir small pots of food—with a family of 2.5, all our meals are pretty small—and scrap bowls clean.” Mini Flex-core Spatula and Spatula Spoon Set, $8.96, Sur La Table.

Diaspora Co. Baraka Cardamom. “This heirloom, pesticide-free cardamom is ethically sourced and has a wonderful savory-ness to it. I like to use it when making a bowl of aromatic rice or a cup of strong chai.” Baraka Cardamom, $15, Diaspora Co.

Radiant Rani Skin Serum. “This Ayurvedic skin serum is a part of my nighttime routine. It’s hydrating, brightening, and helps with hyperpigmentation, which as an Indian woman, I have dealt with all my life.” Ranavat Botanics Radiant Rani, $90, Beauty Heroes.

Royal Cinnamon. “I’m a big advocate for sourcing your pantry items with as much thought as you put into buying your produce. This single-origin cinnamon is honestly life changing. It’s naturally sweet, and a little bit goes a long way since it is so flavor packed.” Burlap and Barrel Royal Cinnamon, $7.99, Burlap and Barrel.

Alexandre Family Farm Ginger and Turmeric Milk. “I love Alexandre Family Farm milk in general, but their ginger and turmeric milk is out-of-this-world good. I like to warm it up and drink it in the winter to keep my immune system in tip-top shape.” Alexandre Family Farm Ginger and Turmeric Milk, $2.69, Good Eggs.

Fun, Sweet-Smelling Bath Products. “Bath time is a ritual in our household, so I tend to splurge on bath products from Lush. For me, I love the Naked body conditioner—it leaves me with soft moisturized skin and I love how it smells. For Elara, she’s all about pink and bubbles, so the pink bubble wand is her jam. It brings her so much joy to wave it in the water and then agitate the water to get the bubbles going.” Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner, $16.95, Lush; and Candy Bubble Brush, $7.95, Lush.

Lark Adventurewear Pocket T-shirt. “Elara is super picky about the fabric she wears. She only wants to wear ‘softy softy’ clothes and her Lark pocket t-shirt has been something that’s worn on repeat. They are made with thick, soft cotton and bamboo fabric, and don’t lose their structure when washed 2-to-3 times a week.” $68.95 (3-pack), Lark Adventurewear.

Camelbak Eddy Kids Water Bottle. “For a little kid, Elara drinks a ridiculous amount of water—she even sleeps with her water bottle in her bed every night. This one is leak-proof and super easy to clean.” CamelBak Eddy Kids BPA Free Water Bottle, $9.48, Amazon.

For more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with designers Anna WallackCynthia RowleyRebecca AtwoodDana HaimRachel Zoe, and Taylor Jay, Olympian Alysia Montano, Wiley Body founder Vanessa Wade, Partake founder Denise Woodard, model and muse Slick Woods, children’s author Serena Minott, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, June & January founder Amy Richardson-Golia, Bubbsi founder Sweta DoshiOakland retail queen Sherri McMullenShahidah Zareef of Bossmom NationJoanne EncarnacionLaTonya YvetteMorgan Walker of Make.doIguehi James, and more!

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