Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lemon Parsley Wild Salmon



Several months ago, I wanted salmon for dinner, but needed something different than our usual Blackened Herbed Salmon. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com, and changed it just a little bit.  It was so easy, and dare I say, more delicious than the salmon we've been making for 8 years now.  The kids AND the husband liked it, so I've made it many times since.  Don't you love having a new recipe in the dinner rotation?


Lemon Parsley Wild Salmon

4 wild salmon fillets (about 6 oz. servings)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Place salmon in a gallon sized plastic bag with garlic, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and parsley. Marinate in fridge for at least 15-30 minutes.

Place salmon fillets in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with marinade poured over it.  Cover the entire dish with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes apart.






Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty's Day Spinach Breakfast muffins


I hate fails.  Especially cooking fails.  But the good thing about failing is sometimes it catapults you into a success you never saw coming.

That's what happened with these muffins.  A week ago, my sister sent me a link to Green Muffins, which you can find here.  I was so excited to try them, but didn't have the exact ingredients the recipe called for.  So, I improvised.  I wasn't going to do anything too crazy - Just switch up the brand of gluten-free flour blend and reduce the sweetener.  Problem was, after having to double batch it by accidentally putting in too much baking soda, I realized after all was said and done and the muffins were NOT cooking through, that...

I had used Namaste Biscuit Mix instead of Namaste Perfect Flour Blend.  Boo.

After finally cooking through, my green muffins were brownish, and when you peeled back the muffin papers, it looked as if the bottom of the muffin had evaporated into thin air.

They looked good going in...

Not so good coming out...

Also, I still had a whole batch of muffin batter left to cook.  I tried to remedy the situation by adding more flour (the right kind this time), and baking it as a cake that I could cover with foil so the top wouldn't brown so much.

The results:  A sick looking green cake with a bite taken out to know if it was edible before I served it to the kids (lol!):

Sick-looking green cake.  It tasted pretty good, though!
I was lucky the cake was edible (actually pretty tasty!) so all was not wasted.  But I have NO idea what measurements of any ingredient I threw into that cake to make it work.

I was determined to make this green muffin thing work, so I thought and thought and thought.  The more I looked at the original Green Muffin recipe, the more I realized it was very similar to my Millet Breakfast Muffins.  So, I decided to tweak the breakfast muffins recipe to make them green.

The batter looked good in a green sort of way, and smelled good!


The end results were a little more yellow-green because of the yellow millet and almond flour, but they tasted yummy, so I considered it a success :)  Because they don't come out truly green, I decided to call them St. Patty's Day Spinach Breakfast Muffins. Green or not, they still taste great and have spinach in them!  Great for sneaking in some veggies when you need to :)


St. Patty's Day Spinach Breakfast Muffins


St. Patty's Day Spinach Breakfast Muffins

Mix Dry Ingredients:

1 cup millet flour
2/3 cup almond flour
2 tbsp. flax meal
2 tbsp. ground chia seeds
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Mix Wet Ingredients in blender:

1 banana
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup coconut oil (liquified)    
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 big handfuls fresh spinach  
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. (2 squirts) of vanilla creme stevia or unflavored liquid stevia.

Combine wet into dry.  Place in muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  

I know they look gross, but my kids were excited to be eating green food for St. Patrick's Day :)




Nevermind the toothpick hole.  Haha!




Monday, March 10, 2014

Nubian Heritage Bar Soaps and Happy Birthday!


Kiss My Face Bar Soaps have been a staple in my home for several years now because I bought them in bulk a while back.  Now that we've used them all up, I wanted to search for another natural soap just to switch things up a bit.

Vitacost.com and LuckyVitamin.com are two good places to buy natural products. They carry great products at great prices, and shipping is free if your order is over $49.

After searching for a bit, I found a soap that has very clean ingredients and several different scents.

I introduce to you, Nubian Heritage Bar Soaps: 5 oz. for $2.78 on LuckyVitamin.com.  Still expensive, but better than many natural bar soaps, often priced $1.00 per ounce, if not more. For me, personally, I'm willing to pay a bit more to avoid the chemicals and other harsh ingredients in regular soap, but I don't want to be extravagant in my spending either. This company seemed to present the best of both worlds to me.  Natural, clean, and not too pricey.




This particular bar has the following ingredients: 

100% Vegetable Soap: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Palm Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Milk, Papain (Papaya Extract), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Vegetable Glycerin, Essential Oil Blend, Vanilla Beans.

Ethically Traded Ingredients, Sustainably Produced, No Animal Testing.

Do any of you have recommendations for a good natural bar soap?


ON A SIDE NOTE....

My oldest boy turned 8 years old last week!! For his treat at school, we brought "dressed-up" Fruit Leathers.  One of the girls in his class, who has many severe allergies, happily exclaimed, "I can have it!" It made my day :)






♥, Jenny :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Baby Grant

As always, I will WARN you that this is a highly detailed and lengthy post about birth!  So only read if you are interested :)


I am long overdue in writing this post since my baby boy is 5 and a half months now!  That kind of tells you how busy life is these days :) But I wanted to write this because I feel blessed to have had such an incredible birthing experience with him. As I said in a previous post, this time around, my husband and I decided to deliver at a birth center, called The Birth Center! An original name, I know ;)  For any of you who have toyed with the idea of delivering at a birthing center, like I did for many years, just know that it was a wonderful experience that I will forever hold sacred in my heart.

Leading up to it, I was trying not to be nervous about the labor, but at my core I really was.  With my previous labor/delivery (Bridget), I was sick with a cough/cold, and during my pregnancy with her I didn't sleep great, so her delivery was harder mentally for me because I was tired.  Also, with Bridget I had tested positive for GBS, and was advised to be at the hospital 4 hours prior to delivery, so during her labor I was thinking about time, and debating when I should go to the hospital.  During labor, it's NEVER good to think about time and it messed me up.  With this pregnancy (Grant's),  I also tested positive for GBS (stinkin' GBS), but my midwife at The Birth Center told me to just go with the flow of labor, and if I got there in time we would do antibiotics, but not to stress about the time of arrival at the birthing center.  Just her saying that brought me some mental relief.

Anyway, long story short, before Grant's birth, I was praying (hard!) to be able to cope positively with labor this time, and to be able to find comfort in the process somehow.

17 days until due date.
An answer to my prayers came from my husband.  I was 3 days overdue, and we were on a Saturday night date.  He took me to Deseret Book because he said he had to get something. While there, he surprised me with a book he'd seen advertised called, The Gift of Giving Life, Rediscovering The Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth. It was EXACTLY what I needed and I was weeping as I started reading it, right there in the store.  I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the book resonated with me on so many levels.  It included many different birth stories from LDS women, all describing the divinity of their birth experiences. As I read, I felt the impression that my baby probably hadn't come yet because I first needed to read this book and learn that I needed to imagine the birthing process more as a spiritual experience.  I felt I also needed to imagine working together with my baby, and to solicit God's help, in the labor process.  I know this is all very religious, but I feel it's important to say because something just clicked for me.  This book changed me.  Changed the way I would labor and bring this baby into the world. 

At 6:45 am on August 27th, 6 days overdue, I woke up and felt a contraction that I thought/hoped was the start of true labor. I was surprised because usually I go into labor in the evening, and don't get much sleep throughout the night. I remember thinking, a few days earlier, that it would be really nice to go into labor after a great night's sleep, and I couldn't believe it had actually happened!

I mentioned to Jacob it was probably labor, but usually my labors are pretty lengthy, and my mom was already staying at my house to help, so he went to work.  I came downstairs for breakfast and mumbled to mom something like, "I'm having some pretty good contractions".  But I guess I said it in a way that didn't indicate I was in labor. Haha.  So she had no idea :) But I didn't know that she didn't know.  Lol!


During labor. 6 days overdue. Bridget wanted to pose with me...in my shoes ;)

My mom and I went on with our day, taking care of kids.  We took Paige (5) to dance and later took her to school. After I got home, I laid Bridget (almost 2) down, and she actually took a long nap, which was a miracle in itself because she was starting to be inconsistent with her naps. I then took a nap.  A great nap!  At least 2 hours of restful sleep.  I can't tell you how amazed I was that I was able to sleep during labor.  I felt like miracle after miracle was occurring.  I knew God was helping me through this labor, and making it a joyful experience for me.

I woke up around 2:30 pm to some strong contractions. Thankfully, my mom went to get the kids from school, and Bridget was still sleeping.  I got my trusty iPod out and started listening to my music.  This time around, I had put some more upbeat songs on my birthing playlist, just in case.  It ended up being just what I needed!  Instead of feeling like relaxing and doing Hypnobirthing, I wanted to dance with my baby!  I danced around my room, laboring and moving, rubbing my belly. I tried to concentrate on my baby as an active participant in the labor, and thanked God for giving me strength, confidence, and positivity, and most important, for blessing me with the sweet spirit that was about to arrive.  I had back labor and found a great position to relieve the intensity in my lower back. Surprisingly, this time around I actually really liked laboring by myself :)

Around 3:15 pm, I went downstairs to talk to my mom.  It was at this time she finally found out I was in labor ;)  I felt like playing cards so we played one hand, and during contractions, I would put my cards down and breathe through the surge.  After one round of cards, my mom said, "Your contractions seem a bit more consistent and intense?  Don't you think you should call someone?  Jacob?  Maybe your midwife?"  (Lol.)  I just looked at her, trying to decide if I thought it was time to call anyone yet :)   I replied, "Maybe", so I called Jacob.  My mom ended up talking for me because I had contractions during the call. Same thing happened during the call with midwife a minute later. Bridget woke up around this time. I decided to go back upstairs to my room to labor.

Around 4 pm Jacob got home and I didn't even notice when he came into the room.  I was in my back-labor position, probably listening to "Crossfire" on my iPod.  That song has a great intro that matched the rhythm/timing of my contractions.  When I felt a contraction coming on, I'd start the song.  I played it over and over again.  I wasn't timing my contractions, but I tried to pay attention to their length, and I estimated them to be only about 15-20 seconds long.  So at this point I still thought I had a long way to go before the baby would come.  In hindsight, though, I remember taking 7 slow breaths to get through a contraction, and when I reenacted it after delivery, it took about a minute to get 7 breaths in.  It was a huge blessing that the contractions seemed shorter than they really were.

Around 5 pm, I got in the tub for about an hour.  Labor was so easy in the tub, but I felt more like moving than sitting/relaxing, so I chose to get out.  I asked Jacob the time and I was really surprised it was about 6 pm! But Labor still didn't seem consistent to me...Every now and then I'd have a really strong contraction, but I wasn't sure that I was very far dilated.  I thought those really strong surges needed to be more consistent before going to the birthing center.  At this point it wasn't just me laboring by myself.  It was my husband and I together.  Mostly I wanted Jacob to apply counter-pressure to my lower back when I had contractions, and I'm surprised his thumbs didn't fall off by the end of the night!!

About 6:30 I had a some super strong contractions and I told Jacob we should probably go to the birthing center, although I was worried I would only be dilated to a 4 or something.  It took a while to get down the stairs and into the car, stopping for contractions.  It was pretty intense at this point and I knew it was the right decision to go to the The Birth Center.

As we were driving, I had a really strong contraction where I felt a little "pushy", and it is the first time in all of my deliveries that I thought there was a chance the baby would be born in the car. It was pretty intense, but actually I liked the labor position --Sitting up, holding onto the "oh crap bar" (don't know the technical name, sorry), and digging my feet into the floor of the car during a contraction to release the energy.

At 7:15 pm,  we arrived at The Birth Center, and my midwife was waiting by the door, ready to welcome us.  I went in a back door that lead straight into the birthing room, so it took me all of about one minute to get out of the car, into the birth center, and into the tub, which was already filled with warm water.  No messing around with getting into the hospital, registering, triage, answering questions, or waiting for a tub to be ready.  When I got to The Birth Center and everything was ready, I thought.  "Oh my goodness.  Best. Decision. Ever. to birth here." I was so happy and relieved to be at the birth center, with a great midwife there to guide my husband and I through the delivery. Just FYI, there was also a birth assistant present.  She took pictures during the labor and delivery, monitored the fetal heart-rate, and helped the midwife with whatever she needed.

At the birth center: Jacob applying counter-pressure.

My midwife asked how I was feeling, as in, "Is the baby coming soon?".  I wasn't quite sure.  Labor was intense, but although I had felt "pushy" in the car, I still wasn't quite sure how close I was to delivering.  I asked her to check my dilatation, and try to break my water because my water had never broken on it's own with my previous births (even when I was dilated to a 9+ with my second child), and I thought keeping the membranes intact would lengthen my labor. She wasn't too keen on breaking my water, but she said she'd do what I wanted.  So she checked me (I was an 8/9!!), but since I was in the tub, she couldn't get a great angle for the amnio hook and couldn't break my water.  So on we went!

Around 7:45 pm, my mom arrived at the birth center, and it was a good thing she was able to get there so soon! (A shout-out to a good friend who came to my house to watch my kids so my mom could come to the delivery!). I continued to labor, and then there was a period of time during which I felt like the baby was trying to come out, but couldn't.  I was trying to find a position that felt conducive to delivering the baby.  At one point, I was practically doing the splits in the tub!  I felt like the position I needed to be in was on all fours, leaning on my elbows, with my head low to the ground.  Only problem was, the water level was too high for that position and I was practically drowning myself! The midwife recognized the problem, and lowered the water to only a couple of inches.

8:00 pm: With one of the following contractions, I felt a big pop! and something gushed out -MY WATER!  I declared that my water had broken and my husband questioned whether I was sure! Haha.  I was definitely sure.  I knew the baby was coming soon, but with the next contractions, after pushing harder than I'd ever pushed before with no success of delivery, and upon hearing the midwife ask the birth assistant to check the heart-rate with every contraction (usually only checked periodically), I knew everything was on me to get the baby out quickly. It was now or never. With the next contraction, I held my breath, plunged my face in the water, and pushed harder than I knew I was capable of, even to the point of breaking blood vessels in my face ( which I didn't notice until the next morning ;) ).

With a great POP, out his head AND HAND came, with the cord wrapped tightly around his shoulder and across his chest, like a toga.  My husband said it was the weirdest thing he'd ever seen.  The midwife calmly unwrapped the cord, and with the next contraction the rest of the babe's body came out, with the cord wrapped TWICE around the lower part of his body.

All of that explains why it took such forceful pushing for him to come out -- his hand had to fit through with his head, and he was also being held up by the cord.  And man, it was a LONG cord.  Think about all that wrapping!  The midwife said she was sure I had torn with the sound it made when he came out, but guess what?  Nothin'.  Nothin' at all.  Thank you, healthy skin ;)

And although it was intense for a minute, it was all good in the end....

Moments after birth...

Baby Grant was born at 8:15 pm, weighing 8 lbs. 1 oz, and 22 inches long. Perfect in every way. What a blessing to be able to have such a great labor, shorter than ever, with energy and joy throughout, that culminated with a beautiful, healthy baby boy. My husband and I worked together to bring this sweet spirit into this world. What a perfect memory I get to cherish forever.

Four hours later, we went home to our own beds and slept...


The new family -- Grant, 7 weeks.




5 months old!




Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fitness Needs It's Own Domain

You guys, I have LOVED reading your comments on my last post.  Seriously, it's amazing to finally hear women talk about what goes on inside their heads in terms of fitness and their physical goals, particularly after they've had a few rug rats.  I've been fascinated by what you've had to say.  So much so that I think we need a separate space to discuss this stuff.  So Jenny and I have decided to launch a new fitness based website to use in conjunction with Green Shakes and Giggles.  My friends, I give you Green Shakes and Giggle FITs.  But here's the catch (you SO knew there would be a catch), you have to get your nutrition in order first.  As far as health and wellness is concerned, diet is by far the most important component.  By.  Far.  It's absolutely impossible to out exercise a bad diet.  Whether you're looking to improve long term health or you're trying to get the body of your dreams, you should be building your nutritional foundation first and foremost.  Ever heard the phrase abs are made in the kitchen?  Guess what?  It's true.  SO, basically what I'm saying is that this blog is more important than this one.  But we'll talk about some seriously fun stuff over there.  So come on over and lets talk about burpees and sprints and goblet squats.  It's gonna get crazy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Hate Talking About Habits. But I'm Doing It Anyway.

I've learned something very interesting over the past year or so.  I've learned that people seem to get really good at the things they practice.  That might seem like a simple concept, maybe even an obvious concept, but let me explain what I mean.  Just like you'd get better at playing an instrument if you practiced often, and just like you'd get better at dribbling a basketball if you practiced often, you also get better at the habits you practice often.  If you practice coming up with reasons to indulge in desserts more often than you should, you get really good at indulging in desserts.  If you practice finding excuses to skip workouts (or even start a workout program), you get really good at skipping workouts.  See what I mean? People seem to perfect whatever habits they practice most often.  Sometimes we don't realize how good we get at sticking to our habits.  And in my opinion, that's why it's so hard to break them.  Humans are by nature, creatures of habit. 


Now, you should know right off the bat here that I am maybe the most habitual person on earth.  It works against me as much as it works for me.  I promise.  But one of the upsides of being the way I am is that maintaining a workout schedule isn't very hard for me.  Working out every morning has become so routine that my day feels weird and incomplete if for some reason I can't.  Sometimes missing a workout will literally affect my mood by the time evening rolls around, and I'm not going to lie, it can get ugly (my husband would call that a downside).  I'm trying to become more flexible with the timing of my workouts, but really, it takes one hell of a day for me to eliminate it completely.  Some people would consider my approach extreme and rigid, but I have a different take.   It's become part of who I am.  It's become a part of me that I like and feel good about.  It's become a part of me that I'm not willing to sacrifice.  I'm a happier person when I feel good about myself physically.  I'm also happier when I'm doing things that are physically challenging.  That endorphin buzz?  It's the best feeling in the world for me.  I bask in the high I get after a tough workout and it doesn't take long before I start to crave my next hit.  But, you know, I haven't always been that way.  I've had slumps and ruts that have been really REALLY hard to pull myself out of.  Like after I had my first baby and had to lose fifty pounds.  FIFTY!  You guys, I'm 5'1"!  Not the most stellar time in my life, physically speaking.  My point is that just like diet, finding a good workout routine is a journey.  You'll have ups and downs.  You'll try lots of different things.  Some of them will stick and some of them wont.  You'll incorporate things that are "fad" workouts (ie Zumba), and then maybe you'll go back to some of the things that you loved 10 years ago (long distance running - for me at least) and maybe tweak them a bit (I love to do sprints now - who knew!).  It's a process of finding out what works for you and what doesn't and then mixing it up when you get bored or hit a plateau.  But the main goal regarding exercise should definitely be consistency.  It's absolutely essential.  And more often than not, it's the reason most people fail to reach their physical goals.  Remember, you become very good at the things you practice.

For a long time I believed that the best way to stick to a workout routine was to get a buddy to do it with you.  "Strength in numbers" after all.  While that can be a good way to get started, I think it can actually work against you long term.  You don't want somebody else's level of commitment to determine whether or not you reach your goals.  If your workout buddy fizzles out and you're not mentally comitted enough to go it alone, there's a good chance you'll follow their lead.  Not that you can't have people you like to workout with on a regular basis (I definitely have my faves), but I think it's important to make sure you are doing what you're doing for you.  You have to have the mental fortitude to get through your workouts without someone there to hold your hand.  You commit, you do it, and if you happen to have a friend to chat with that day, BONUS!  What's crazy is that as you go, you might actually find out that you enjoy the solitude more than you thought you would.  I'm typically a super duper social worker-outer (proper English, always), but over the past 6 months or so, I've started to love my solo workouts more than my partner or group workouts.  Or maybe it's that I've realized that they serve two different purposes.  I like having someone there pushing me to crank out one more set or one more rep.  But I also really enjoy those days when I can blast the music on my ipod and get hyper focused on things like my form and how my muscles feel right before they fail.  It wakes me up and reminds me that I'm alive.  I love it.

So, what are your fitness goals?  For the most part, in the past I needed goals that had an expiration date.  Goals that offered a big reward.  Something concrete that said YOU DID IT!  I think that's why I was always so attracted to races (usually triathlons).  It gave me a timeline.  It put pressure on me to train every day.  And really, sometimes it was fun.  But after several years I started feeling like a hamster on a wheel.  I'd register for a race, train like hell, finish the race, and then be so hammered, that I didn't want to swim, bike, or run for months.  At which point I would panic because I had no motivation to workout.  So I'd register for another race.  I know, it sounds crazy.  It became a vicious cycle instead of a fun, enjoyable, sustainable lifestyle.  That's not to say that signing up for a race of some kind is a bad idea.  It's not.  They can be really fun and a great way to kick start a workout routine.  I'm just saying don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Don't let the pressure of finishing a race become your only motivation for working out.  It's like dieting so you can look good on a trip to Hawaii.  Once the trip is over, what happens?  Well, if your like most people, you get home and go right back to the habits you've spent the most time perfecting.  It doesn't take long to end up right back where you started.  Don't do that with exercise.  Find things that fit into your lifestyle.  Pick things that offer enough variety that you can reach your physical goals without getting bored out of your mind.  If you start to get bored, mix it up.  Pronto.  

Honestly, before about a year ago, I had never set a fitness goal that had much to do with my body.  It was more about the actual workouts and/or being prepared for the big race.  I had never had my body composition analyzed or even thought about what I would want to change had I been given the option.  I just figured, this is me.  There's chubby me, average me, skinny me, and all the "me's" in between.  I never said, "you know, my arms might balance out my body better if they had a little more size and shape to them", or "I wonder if I could tighten up and define my core muscles in a way that would add more stability to my body."  I seriously didn't.  I didn't even know you could!  I thought those kinds of things were catagorized as spot reducing (not a good approach to take).   When I first started meeting with my fitness/nutrition guru, she asked me what I wanted to change about my body.  Deer.  In.  Headlights.  It took several sessions for her to convince me that I wasn't restricted to just the 3 versions of "me" I mentioned earlier.  I started realizing that I could build some serious muscle in my shoulders and arms.  A look I've always loved but thought was too far from my genetic make up to actually attain.  I could rebuild my abs and get them looking more like they did before my children stretched them to space and back.  I could add a little junk to my trunk instead of blaming gravity for my lack therein.  Granted, genetics definitely plays a part.  I had to take that into consideration.  But I have to tell you, I've changed things about my body that I NEVER imagined I could.  It's all about being specific about what you want.  Well, kind of.  I read an article recently that suggested people focus solely on losing body fat until they're under about 21%.  At that point, it's reasonable to get picky about what you want.  Which leads me to my next point.  Numbers don't lie.  If you want to change your body, you have to be ready to face the facts.  Even if it's painful to hear.  I'm convinced that knowing your body composition is the single most important step to take in changing your body.  You also need to get it checked regularly along the way.  I get it tested every 2 weeks right now.  It's a long enough span of time that I can accurately gauge my progress, but it's a short enough span of time that I can easily tweak things to keep my numbers moving in the right directions.  Eventually I'll probably only get it checked every couple of months.  I'm still in a pretty intense building phase as of now, but when I'm to the point where I just want to maintain, knowing my exact numbers every other week won't be as crucial.  But it's also just plain fun to see those numbers moving.  It's like being the subject of your own science experiment or something.  I have issues.  I know.

I'll get more into the how's and why's of doing specific kinds of workouts in the next few posts.  But I'm curious to know what people's fitness routines are like right now.  Do you like strength training workouts, or are you more of a cardio junkie like me (the treadmill has alwyas been my mother ship)?  Do you feel like it's hard to make yourself workout, or has it become something you actually look forward to?  Here's a toughie: Why do you workout?  Because you want to look better?  Because you want to feel better?  Because you know it's good for you?  Or maybe a combination of all those things?  I'm crazy curious about this stuff.  Enlighten me please.  Aaaaaaand GO...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Namaste Banana Bread




I gave my friend a slice of this banana bread and I was essentially issued a death threat if I didn't put it on the blog, "tonight!".  That, in conjunction with my oldest son's (the best food critic around) opinion that it was "awesome!", let me know that this recipe was definitely a keeper.

I got the original recipe from the back of the Namaste gluten-free Perfect Flour Blend package.  I modified it a bit, baked it up, and luckily it turned out perfectly! I really like Namaste all-purpose flour because the rice flour in its composition is 100% brown-rice flour instead of a brown/white rice flour mix, like many gluten-free flour blends are.

Namaste Banana Bread

2 cups Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (liquefied)
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use Frontier vanilla flavor)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. 

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the Perfect Flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl mix together the coconut oil and sugar.  Add eggs, mashed bananas and vanilla, stirring until well blended.  Fold in the dry ingredients and walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Transfer loaf to wire cooling rack to cool before serving.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The D Word

Wanna hear something crazy?  My 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes last month.  Good.  Freaking.  Times.  I wrote about her diagnosis here (be prepared though, it's a long one).  As luck would have it, I had actually spent the 3-4 months leading up to that focusing intensely on balancing macro nutrients.  To the point that I met with a nutrition guru once a week for 8 weeks.  Granted, at the time that I started down this path it was for the sake of changing my own body composition (which I totally did - booyah!!!).  But sometimes I can't help but think that maybe the timing of my interest in the whole macro nutrient thing was part of a bigger plan.  I don't know for sure, but it feels weird to call it a coincidence.  Just sayin.
I regularly find her on the couch giving her teddy bear injections.  Tis hilarious.  

I won't go into detail regarding the ins and outs of living with an insulin dependent 2 year old, but take my word for it, it's C.O.M.P.L.I.C.A.T.E.D.  I have to calculate how much insulin she needs to be able to utilize every morsel of food she puts in her mouth.  And let's not even talk about what happens when she decides to feed half her dinner to the dog without me noticing. Gah!  In the hospital they teach you that diabetic children can "eat whatever they want" as long as they get an insulin injection for it.  That approach has bothered me from day one (of course, because there's nothing I love more than to challenge traditional medicine).  Nobody should eat whatever they want whether they are diabetic or not.  She needed to be fed in a way that would maximize her nutrient intake and minimize her insulin needs.  So, after we got home and started figuring everything out, I began the process of calculating the macros in the recipes I had that I felt would be the most beneficial to her.  I took me an hour to do one single recipe.  This was going to be a painful process.  And then?  I somehow stumbled onto the COOLEST tool on the Internet!  Instead of spending hours using your calculator to come up with some sort of nutrient estimate that may or may not be correct, you can simply just type in the ingredients and then the program kicks out a nutrition label for you.  For example, I entered my favorite granola recipe and got this in return...
Now, keep in mind that the program calculates the entire recipe.  So you have to take the totals and divide them by the number of servings the recipe makes.  Not too shabby, eh?  You can find this program here.  If you've always been interested in the nutrient content of your recipes but have never wanted to take the time to figure it out, give this program a whirl.  It's awesome and user friendly and from what I can tell, idiot proof (if I can do it, anyone can).  And it's free!

Anyway, diabetes aside, I've been wanting to do a post about my most recent diet adjustments and some of the killer products I've been turned on to.  As most of you know, about 9 months ago I decided to end my vegetarian/vegan phase and get reacquainted with higher amounts of protein.  I wouldn't necessarily call it paleo.  Actually, I wouldn't call it paleo at all.  It was more or less just adding back in some lean organic protein and cutting back (way back) on the grains.  Because really, grains are just converted to sugar inside the body (I know that can be debated, but I'm a simple minded gal), and I felt like they were sabotaging my "clean" diet.  Okay, I'm going to be really honest with you here so that maybe this will make more sense.  When I decided to add lean proteins back into my diet it was for health/nutrition reasons.  But over the months that followed, I noticed that I was shedding body fat.  It wasn't necessarily intentional, but I definitely noticed that my clothes were fitting better.  So of course, being me, I had to investigate.  Enter awesome brilliant nutrition/fitness guru who changed my life.  Seriously.  She is so outrageously amazing.  She helped me realize that I could take the pieces of the nutrition puzzle, if you will, and rearrange them in a way that would shift my body composition in my desired direction.  Like, big time.  For me, it was all about slightly decreasing my % of body fat, while greatly increasing my % of muscle mass (another highly debatable topic).  Now, in full disclosure, I have to tell you that she also had me change my workout routine dramatically.  I won't get into it right now, but at some point I will tell you about my love affair with lifting weights.  The heavy kind.  It is a rather steamy tale.  However, when we talk about body composition, we have to remember that you can't out exercise a bad diet.  Period.  I firmly believe that having a tight toned bod really is 80% diet and 20% exercise (the type of exercise makes or breaks that 20% mind you).  So, I'm convinced that the diet changes are what made the biggest difference for me.  At my last check point my body fat had gone down 4% and I had gained 2.5 lbs of muscle (those numbers seem small but believe me, they have made a HUGE difference).  My final check is on Monday and I'm excited to see how everything turns out.  What's crazy is that I've actually gained weight.  Yep, that's right.  The numbers on the scale have gone up.  And I couldn't be more thrilled.  I love watching those numbers climb knowing my increase in lean tissue is the culprit.  It's extremely empowering to know that I'm in the best shape of my life.  I realize that this blog isn't necessarily intended to be fitness or image oriented, and for the record, I also realize that there are many other important things to focus your time and energy on in life.  Balance is so key.  I can't stress that enough.  But I needed this intense journey.  I've been pregnant, nursing, or preparing to become pregnant again for 12 years.  And I've loved it.  Kind of.  Okay, not really.  But what matters is that I knew that phase of my life was over.  I also knew that I'd be a happier, more productive, more content person in every aspect of my life if I could get my body back to where I felt completely at peace with it.  I have done that and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time.  Ironically, I've been able to use what I've learned about protein/carb ratios over the past several months to keep from having to inject my daughter with massive doses of insulin.  I'm all about multi-tasking.

I'd really love to get more into the whole macronutrient/workout routine/body composition thing, but I'm not sure this is the right platform for it.  Feel free to comment on whether or not this is something you'd be interested in reading about.  Seriously, I have no idea who, if anyone, even reads this blog anymore.                

Monday, November 4, 2013

Red Potato and Chickpea Stew

 


An easy/quick/cheap dinner for those nights you don't have much time.  I made this stew with tomatoes from my garden, which always gets me excited.  This is a dinner my son and husband really like because of the red potatoes, I'm sure :)  I usually serve with a salad and/or green shake.

Red Potato and Chickpea Stew
Serves about 6 people

1 Tbsp. good quality coconut oil
2 tsps. ground cumin
1 red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
4 cups water
6 red potatoes, cubed
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-oz. cans)
1 tsp. Real Salt
3/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, diced

Heat coconut oil in a pan.  Add onion and garlic and cook until dark brown.  Stir in cumin and coriander and cook for a couple seconds.  Add water, potato, chickpeas, salt, pepper, and half of cilantro.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer until potato is cooked and tender.  Then, add tomato and simmer for a couple minutes.  Add in other half of cilantro and serve!






 
 
Here's a pic of the kids this summer.  They are getting older, and like to help with dinner, so I've put them to work.  I really like sending them down to the garden to get things for me so I don't have to do it anymore! Haha. 
Talbot and Paige helping mom :)


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Muffins and Crack - But Not Muffin-Crack

Well hello there internetz.  Please pardon the 5 month long blogging hiatus I just took.  I've been busy with things.  You know, like cancer, and summer, and trying to come to grips with the fact that the new Lululemon store that just opened is literally threatening to ruin my life.  What is it with that stuff?  It's like crack cocaine you wear on your body.  Now I know what people mean when they say things like, "I tried it once and I was hooked".  Damn those effing adorable running skirts!  You think it couldn't happen to you, but mark my words, you're not exempt.  It's only a matter of time before you too will be sucked in my friends.  
The skirts, they're like buttah...



And their Energy Bra???  Crack.  Cocaine.


Okay.  So.  Now that I have proven to all of you just how productive I've been over the past few months, let's talk food.  I mentioned way back when that I was exiting vegetarianville.  I'm more convinced than ever that it was the right decision for me.  I'm also more convinced than ever that not every lifestyle works for everyone.  I know people who have tried the Paleo route only to find out that they felt better eating a vegetarian diet.  Everyone has a different physiological makeup.  I firmly believe that no one lifestyle or diet is right for everyone.  Part of living a healthy lifestyle is going through the process of figuring it all out for yourself, and then accepting what you discover.  You might have to tweak things here or there.  You might have to throw in the towel and start over again.  It's okay.  It's good.  The journey is actually really fun if you can get over the fact that there's not really a finish line.  Once I grasped that concept my view of living a healthy life completely changed.  

Anyway, my husband has been involved in a "get healthy" challenge at work over the past few weeks.  The whole objective has been to make sustainable changes, and to avoid depriving yourself of the things that will set you up for disaster.  I couldn't agree more with this philosophy.  Food allergies aside, I don't think it's wise to completely eliminate anything that you desperately love (note: I said completely eliminate).  Moderation.  It is a wise thing to strive for in so many areas of your life.  Moderation, when it comes to your diet, is especially important.

One of the things we love is a good, healthy breakfast.  One of the things we don't have time to do every morning...is make a good, healthy breakfast.  Mornings are crazy and hectic and if we're not careful, they have the power to start everyone off on the wrong foot.  Seriously, it can get ugly.  SO we (I say we, but I mean I) have come up with several delicious and moderately sweet things we can have ready to pour in a bowl, throw in the blender, or just grab and scarf as we're frantically preparing for the day.  Our current favorite?  Gluten free Blueberry Muffins. 


Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
original recipe found here
  Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free)
  • 1/8 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil, ghee or pastured butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Grease a regular size muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  3. Mix (or sift) the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs, honey, oil and vanilla in another bowl.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  6. Gently stir the blueberries into the batter.
  7. Spoon into 12 muffin tins. (They will be fairly full)
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden on top.
  9. Serve warm

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summertime Pesto, dairy-free

 




I went to visit my family in Iowa last month, and my sister made us pesto pasta for dinner one night.  I knew my 5 year-old, Paige, would like it since she and I always love to make and eat pesto together in the summer, but was surprised that my son and 1 year-old Bridget liked it too!  Since we have three basil plants in our garden currently, we have been making my pesto recipe like crazy.  I love how fast basil grows back after you pick the leaves. What a wonderful herb!

We pour this over brown-rice noodles, or dip brown-rice tortillas or brown rice cakes in it.  You can also dip any kind of veggie, of course :) It's a fantastic way to get healthy fats into your diet.  For dinner, I serve pesto pasta with a salad and homemade dressing.  On this particular night, I also added Roasted Sweet Potatoes and cantaloupe.

Summertime Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

2 cups fresh basil, tightly packed
1 very large handful of spinach
1/2 c pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp. unrefined salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth.


On a side note, the sister I mentioned earlier bought Green Smoothie Girl's 8-week, whole food, plant-based menu plan and has drastically changed the way her family eats.  She has done an AMAZING job at transitioning her family to a whole-food diet.  And she has reaped awesome rewards!  She is sleeping better, and has lost a ton of weight.  Even better, she inspired another sister of mine to change her family's eating.  I am just really amazed at how dedicated they both have been in changing their family's diets.  There is definitely a learning curve, but HOLY COW, you would never know it with them!  I'm so proud of both of them.


Also, here is the most recent picture I took of the growing belly. This is about 35 weeks (currently I am about 36).  Last night, my husband and I took a refresher birthing class to prepare ourselves for what's to come in less than a month!  I am loving the birthing center so far.  They are very vigilant with the pregnancy and very helpful with any questions I have.  They gave me some information on effective, yet natural, family planning for after the birth (TMI?), so I'm excited to read about it.



One thing I wanted to share with you all is this trace mineral iron I discovered.  I tend to get low iron during pregnancy, but HATE taking iron supplements because of all the issues it can cause.  This Ionic Iron brought my levels up 3% points in 4 weeks, with ZERO side effects.  I put 1.25 ml. in a liter of limeade because iron absorbs best with Vitamin C and also to dilute the metallic taste.

 
 

Jenny :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mango Red Pepper Salsa


 
The other day my sister-in-law invited us over for a barbeque.  I usually like to bring Bite-Sized Salsa since it is always a big hit, but I wanted to try something different.  I've never made a salsa with fruit before, but I had everything on hand for this one, and it turned out yummy! After photographing, I ended up adding 1-2 large avocados, of course. Because nothing is complete without avocado, lol :)
 
 
Mango Red Pepper Salsa
 
2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
1-2 large avocados, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 2-3 limes (I like more lime juice)
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper, to taste
 
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate in fridge for about an hour before serving.  Serve with Spicy Brown Rice Chips, if desired.
 
Jenny :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Raspberry Popsicles and Some Fun News :)



5 year-old, Paige, with her popsicle
 
 
I was at the library the other day getting my kids some books, and I saw a book on display
called Ice Pop Joy by Anni Daulter.  To my surprise, the recipes were whole food!  So I took it home, excited to try some new recipes.  A couple of days later, my daughter asked if we could make popsicles, and she flipped through the pages looking for something that looked good.  Only problem was, I didn't have the exact ingredients for the popsicles she wanted to make.  So, we improvised and it ended up turning out great!  My kids and I were very happy with our new recipe for Raspberry popsicles :)



Raspberry Popsicles

1.5 cups fresh raspberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 banana
2 tbsp. raw honey
1/2 squirt of liquid stevia (unflavored)
1/2 cup coconut milk


Combine ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into popsicle mold and freeze until solid.

Makes about 6 (4-ounce) popsicles.





In other news....We are going to be adding a new addition to our family in August!  I am about 29 weeks prego with my fourth kid.  It's a boy, so my oldest - 7 year old Talbot - is really excited to finally have a brother :)
 
This time around we have decided to have the baby at a birthing center, which I've never done before, so I'm anxious to see if I like the difference :) I will definitely be filling all of you in when the time comes.  So far, the midwives have been great during prenatal visits. 
 
Happy Summer!
 
Jenny :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Coming Out of the Carnivorous Closet

I've been writing this post in my head for about two months now.  I figure it's time to actually put it into words.  There's no easy way to get this out so I'm just going to say it.  I'm not vegetarian anymore.  I'm guessing most of you probably aren't emotionally attached to my meat eating status, but I feel like it's something I have to be up front about if I'm going to continue to write on this blog.  The way it all happened is a long boring story, so I won't get into it right now.  It's been about 3 months since I made the switch, and to be perfectly honest, I don't feel any different.  Which isn't a huge surprise because really, for me, the only things that I KNOW make me feel like hud are sugar (in all forms really) and an over consumption of grains (particularly wheat).  I wouldn't go as far as to say I've jumped on the Paleo bandwagon.  I don't think that much meat would work for me.  But I've definitely become reacquainted with some old recipes that I never thought I'd come into contact with again.  Needless to say, my husband is a very happy man.  I still consider myself to be plant based, but the strict vegetarian ship hath sailed.  At least for now.  

One thing I've learned through all of this is that there isn't any one "diet" (although I hate calling it that) that works for everyone.  I don't think that the science behind any one theory is perfectly sound or backed up with enough evidence to convince me that it's correct.  So, basically, the way you decide to feed yourself and your family boils down to how different foods affect you, and what you feel is right for you.  For example, my son has celiac.  He's done great with it so far, but a few months ago I started realizing that he was consuming WAY to much "gluten free" food (bread, pasta, crackers, etc).  It was happening by default because I wasn't really making any meals containing meat or gluten and he's crazy picky when it comes to vegetables.  After I started providing some other options (organic chicken, fresh turkey, etc) he started cutting back on the stuff that's completely void of any significant nutrition.  I still wish he would increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in his diet, but I'm definitely feeling better about what he's consuming at this point.

The other thing that forced my hand was my workout regimen.  It like, quadrupled in intensity.  I started doing some serious HIIT* training back in February and noticed that it would take me a good 4-5 days to recover from a workout (yes, singular - just one workout).  Not.  Normal.  My hair also started falling out by the handfuls.  Again, not normal.  I knew I was protein deficient.  No question about it.  So, my point here is, life changes.  And in a lot of ways, my son being diagnosed with celiac has forced me to re-think everything I thought I knew.  It's been good for me to look at where I'm at in my life and consider the possibility that not all of the nutritional needs of my family were being met.  Now, don't get me wrong.  We're not going out for double bacon cheese burgers or anything.  HEAVENS no.  I like my arteries to have a little breathing room thankyouverymuch.  But we have incorporated some organic chicken, turkey, and fish into our diets.  It's been good for everyone and I think we all feel significantly less deprived since having to cut gluten from the scene (most of it at least - I'm pretty lax about it when we go out, which happens like...never).

Anyway, I'm hoping now that I've come out of the closet, that I'll be able to post recipes here without feeling like a hypocrite.  I have some good ones.  Some with meat.  Some without.  But all wholesome nutritious recipes that you can feel good about feeding your crew.

*HIIT training (TRX specifically).  Oh, it is so awesome.  Soon I will do a post about the love affair I have going on right now with this kind of workout.