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Mother Essentials: Dr. Manasa Mantravadi of Ahimsa

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

The first time Indiana-based pediatrician Dr. Manasa Mantravadi found stainless steel on her dining table was as a child growing up in India. Later, as a grown-up in the U.S., she was alarmed after reading an American Academy of Pediatrics report on the dangers of plastics and its effects on children’s hormones, growth, and development. The recommendation from the report was to use stainless steel, which sparked the idea for Manasa’s company, Ahimsa (Sanskrit for “avoiding harm”). Her line of stainless steel dinnerware for kids includes cups, bowls, compartment plates, and cutlery in shiny metallics, vibrant rainbows, and bold blues—and all come delivered in non-toxic, environmentally-friendly packaging. Below, the mother of three (7-year-old twins and a 4-year-old daughter) breaks down her worldly and eco-conscious Mother Essentials of the moment!

Vitamix. “I use this for fruit and veggie smoothies and popsicles, but also to make the batter for Indian Dosas (savory crepes). It’s also the magic tool to my spinach ‘Hulk’ pancakes, blending so well that no one tastes the difference in their breakfast!” Vitamix Blender, $290 and up, Vitamix.

Tiny Tags. “Each beautiful necklace is a symbol of the story behind it. I found out from some new moms that they wore the Tiny Tags rainbow necklace and used our Ahimsa rainbow infant set to celebrate the joy of a child after experiencing loss. The beautiful jewelry symbolizes hope and healing, which I love as pediatrician.” Rainbow Necklace, $85, Tiny Tags.

Ahimsa Stainless Steel Dinnerware. “While I am partial, I will say that my kids love eating off of a rainbow every meal! Knowing that I am serving food on safe materials and helping the planet decrease plastic makes me feel overjoyed—especially when the kids ask for more vegetables for their compartment plates. Rainbows really are magical it seems!” Stainless Steel Child Dining Set, $49, Ahimsa.

Beautycounter C-Serum. “Turmeric is essential to Indian traditions—it decreases inflammation and brightens the skin, which is why it serves a staple in cooking and facial care. This serum has illuminated my face and gives a nod to ancient Indian beauty practices. Plus, the company mission of clean products and packaging is my jam.” Counter+ All Bright C Serum, $79, Beautycounter.

Utopian Coffee. “The quality of this coffee is matched by the depth of its social mission. The brand helps convert cocaine farms to coffee farms in Colombia and tell the stories of an all-female owned co-op in Rwanda united by the heartbreak of genocide. It tastes great and makes you feel good—plus, it’s shipped to my doorstep.” Utopian Coffee Beans, $14 and up, Utopian Coffee

Heyo Corn Snacks. “Once you start eating it, you literally can’t stop. The good news is that it’s healthy, natural, and low calorie. My favorite is the salted cinnamon, but the ginger is a close second.” Salted Cinnamon Heyo, $3.99, Heyo.

A Good Book (For My Kids & Me). “These three books have helped me in each role this past year: a mother, a pediatrician, and an entrepreneur.” A Kids Book About…, $19.95, A Kids Book About; Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future…and What We Can Do About It, $14.71, Bookshop and Amazon; Rework, $24.84, Bookshop and Amazon

Tribal Eyes. “Every mom needs sunglasses to either look glam or to cover her tired eyes—no judgment! Whether it is school drop-off, grocery shopping, or hiking, this ethnic-focused eyewear brand instantly infuses culture into my look.” Sunglasses, $175, Tribal Eyes.

Simply Mithai. “I have a huge sweet tooth and you can’t beat Mithai (Indian sweets). Simply Mithai has perfected burfi, a creamy milk-based delectable bite covered in a dark chocolate shell. The fillings are infused using Indian heritage, but with a nod to a Western palate.” Simply Mithai Confections, $25 and up, Simply Mithai.

Mommy & Me Style. “I have two daughters who constantly want to wear my clothes, shoes, and jewelry. So, this Amelia skirt and matching Mini Ana skirt by Aryana is perfect for our ‘girls night in.’ COVID doesn’t need to stop dress-up dates at home!” Mini & Me Skirts, $34 and up, Aryana.

On-The-Go COVID Safety. “When the pandemic started, my team quickly became the COVID unit for our children’s hospital. Infection risk has always been something on my mind, but this kit by Honest helped me stay prepared this past year. While we are not traveling at the moment, having a kit with sanitizer, masks, and cleaning supplies is a great thing to keep in our car trunk at all times! Plus, the brand is a leader and inspiration in the clean, safe product space.” Ready Safe Go Family Pack, $79.95, Honest Co.

Subscription Boxes For Kids. My two favorites are InKidzCo and KiwiCo. The first helps children learn about cultures while inspiring them to create a world that embraces diversity of all kinds. The second inspires them to explore STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Children at different ages and with different interests can enjoy the various crates!” Bi-Monthly Subscription, $49, InKidzCo. Kiwi Crate, $19.95 and up, KiwiCo.

Grove Collaborative. “Another company that wants to decrease the footprint of plastic? Sign me up! These safe cleaning tablets that simply dissolve in water (and come in a glass container) are a great way to keep plastic out of the kitchen. By 2025, the company plans to be 100% plastic-free.” grove.co.

Lume Deodorant. “I work 12-hour overnight shifts at the hospital. I heard about a fellow physician who founded a company for a non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free deodorant that really does eliminate odor all day—or night!” Coconut Crush, Clean Tangerine, & Jasmine Rose Deodorant Stick 3-Pack , $35.97, Lume.

A.M. Productivity Time. “Through high school, college, and medical school, I woke up early to study. My mornings start at 4:30 a.m.—it is when I am most creative, productive, and motivated.” 

Gardening & Composting. “We started our own vegetable and herb garden last spring. Personally, it was therapeutic during the stay-at-home orders. It’s been so wonderful to watch our children help care for the plants, pick the tomatoes during meal prep, and learn how to use food scraps to compost to help next year’s garden grow. It’s been a labor of love and very educational for the whole family.” Pastel Watering Can, $33, Etsy.

CEO School. “I’ve been a student my entire life as a medical professional, but entrepreneurship really threw me a curve ball. No formal curriculum, teachers, or books. It can be overwhelming and lonely in the entrepreneur world. The CE School is a place that like-minded women gather to motivate, support, and guide each other to be the CEO of their life—not just their company. The philosophy is work-life integration, not work-life balance. Much of our success with Ahimsa has been from women helping to elevate us, it is the secret sauce that I hope we continue to share with each other as females.” theceoschool.co

For more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with Brave + Kind Bookshop owner Bunnie Hilliard, TV personality Leslie Antonoff, author Rio Cortez, Kido Chicago owner Keewa Nurullah, small-space mama Laura Fenton, Citizens of Humanity creative director Marianne McDonald, Curasalve founder Kelley Williams, Trade Street Jam Co. founder Ashley Rouse, Weelicious and One Potato founder Catherine McCord, interior designer Susan Work, author Tiffany Dufu, Les Gamins founder Veronique Nguyen, Lonny editor Angela Tafoya, Wiley Body founder Vanessa Wade, designers Anna WallackCynthia RowleyRebecca Atwood, and Dana HaimOlympian Alysia Montano, cookbook author Hetal Vasavada, model and muse Slick Woods, wellness influencer Joanne Encarnacion, author LaTonya Yvetteand many, many more!

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