Babies Like Snacks Too (A Finger Food Recipe)

I love home made food. I love knowing exactly what went into the things that I am consuming, and the satisfaction of enjoying something that I made.

This is also part of the reason why I, for the most part, make or prepare Jackson’s food myself. (For convenience we also give him organic baby food pouches from brands such as: Happy Baby, Sprout, Ella’s Kitchen, and Earth’s Best.) As he has gotten older, I have been trying to get creative with finger foods and not just give him puffs, or Purely O’s (Cascadian Farms organic sugarless version of Cheerios), and my awesome pediatrician mentioned at our last visit that she gave her son “coconut truffles” that she had made herself. That gave me the idea to make Jackson baby friendly “Larabar” bites.

The main ingredients are dates, unsweetened shredded coconut, goji berries, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds. I chose these ingredients for their ability to hold together, nutritional value, and because they are safe to give a baby at 10 months old, which is how old Jackson is. (note: They are all being blended together, so there is no choking hazard.)

What you need:

~ 35 pitted dates (I got them from the bulk bin in Whole Foods so I really didn’t count!)

~ 1/3 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut

~ 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds

3 Tbsp goji berries

1 Tbsp Chia seeds

splash of vanilla

dash of cinnamon

Throw all the ingredients in the food processor and just let it go. You can stop it periodically to make sure all the ingredients are incorporating and blending together. You know its ready when the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor bowl and begin to ball up.

Mixture is ready!

Mixture is ready!

Once it’s ready you can now roll it into little bites for your baber, or form into small bars for them to bite (or for yourself, because they’re pretty stinking tasty!).

Other ingredients you can add: maca powder, cacao powder, various dried fruit, hemp seeds…whatever nutritious thing you want to sneak in & whatever you think your kiddo would like!

Perfect baby bites.

Perfect baby bites.

I got 4 ounces of little bites for my son, and also formed 6 small bars that we could share.

All of the ingredients I used I felt comfortable giving to my son after our well visit with our pediatrician (and asking some friends advice). Ask your pediatrician if you have any questions regarding what foods your child should be eating. When introducing new foods I always pay attention to make sure there are no allergic reactions going on!

Jackson DEVOURED these bites. He loved them so much! I hope your kiddo enjoys them too!

Have you made any yummy snacks for your littles? Please share!!! :) We love food, especially the home made kind!

 

 

 

Babywise; not so much.

When I learned that I was pregnant it was not long before I got my hands on some books I had heard all about to prepare me for life with a baby. One of those books was Babywise by Gary Ezzo.

babywise

The biggest POSITIVE take away from Babywise…the “eat, wake, sleep” schedule. As a new mom who is completely clueless as to what you are supposed to do with a baby, or how to care for them, this could be a pretty helpful tip. Your baby should take a nap, eat when they wake up, have a play time, then go back down for a nap. Ok. That makes sense to me (We’ve broken this “rule” which I explain later on). Another positive take away is an idea of how long your baby could go without eating at a given age. I believe that its good to know so you can monitor your babies growth and progress, or if you’re nursing and have to leave the baby with someone.

Other than that, I found it completely useless. It just did not work for us AT ALL. (If it worked for you, power to you…this is just MY post on why it did not work for me.)

When I read this book I was DEAD SET on following its principals and having a baby that could fall asleep anywhere, take awesome naps & sleep through the night ASAP. Boy oh FREAKIN boy, was I wrong.

Why did Babywise not work for us? Let me tell you:

Ok so lets see…for one, (once he was no longer nocturnal and actually was awake during the day) Jackson would only ever take 20 min naps. TWENTY MINUTE NAPS. I would have finally gotten in the shower after eating a meal and be lathered with soap, and hear him fussing or babbling in the crib. When he was 3 months old we went in for his check up and my pediatrician suggested extending his awake time to 2.5 hours instead of 1.5-2 hours to see if that helped. That was what finally got us to 40-45 min naps. BUT Babywise said that he should be up for 1.5-2 hours and then he’d sleep for 1-1.5 hours until his next scheduled feeding… … … um, wrong. I would call my sister and say, “Why is he not napping as long as he is supposed to?! I fed him like I was supposed to, he was satisfied, he was tired, he wasn’t overtired. I. don’t. get. it.” Her response? “Melissa, he isn’t SUPPOSED to do anything; He’s a baby. Get that out of your head.” Ooohhhh. Right. Duh. For FAR too long I was wondering why oh why is my baby only taking 45 minute naps; “What’s wrong with him??” NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with him!!!!!! He is a short(er) napper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is not even close to abnormal. Some babies take 45 minute naps. As long as a baby is not overtired it should not effect night time sleep. He was on three 45 minute naps until about 8-8.5 months and then he transitioned to two naps. One is 1.5-2 hours and the other is about an hour; it switches from day to day which one is longer or shorter. He averages 3 hours of nap time a day (usually), which could not be more normal. (So, rest assured if you are a mom out there going through the same ?!?!?! I was.)

Oh yea, and you have to love the “Wake them up at the same time everyday” thing. “Ok, so I say your wake up time is 6:30am, Jackson. Wait, why are you awake at 5am? Your wake up time is 6:30am; should I force your eye lids back shut? Because you know, your schedule is going to be totally off now. I mean your nap was supposed to be 9am, but now its going to have to be 7:30-8am because there’s nooooo way you’re going to make it til 9…unless I want to torture you by making you completely miserable until 8:30-9am…you wouldn’t mind that would you? But then it wouldn’t matter because you’d be so overtired that your nap would probably only be 30 minutes anyway, and that really isn’t helping anyone is it?” GIVE ME A BREEEAAAK. If my baby wakes up early I can see waiting 15 or 20 minutes to see if he will go back to sleep, but I am not pretending he doesn’t exist until his scheduled “wake up time.” When I told my pediatrician that, she thought it was ridiculous. AND the days when he wakes up early or late, he usually somehow gets himself back on track before the day is over. AND my kid is the happiest kid ever so you know what, I’ll take it.

Then there were the days when naps would be boycotted. I put him down at 1pm and it is now 1:45pm and he is still not asleep. 1:50pm, 1:55pm…ah 2pm, finally asleep, that only took an hour. Babywise says to wake your baby up from a nap so they stay on schedule. That’s fine if that works for you, but my baby JUST fell asleep 30 minutes ago…no friggin way am I waking him up from that peaceful snoring slumber. If he is an hour off it has no effect. He didn’t/doesn’t sleep through the night on schedule or off, so I’M LETTING MY CHILD SLEEP.  Not to mention, like I said before, he usually somehow gets himself back on track…so AGAIN, I would rather not have a miserable baby for the sake of a schedule.

Feedings. Sigh. Babywise’s theory: Make sure your baby gets a full feeding at the scheduled feeding time (Remember the “Eat, Wake, Sleep” concept I mentioned before?). Has Gary Ezzo ever nursed a 6 month old or a teething baby? No. So he wouldn’t know how nearly impossible it is to make them NOT get distracted.  Or how you’re a nipple would feel after being chomped on 5 times in a row. My son is an INCREDIBLY alert, active, curious baby. Who needs food when there’s a very intriguing TV remote across the room on the coffee table begging to be chomped on? Seriously, I could hide that thing under the couch and he would sense its presence. Yup, tried the nursing cover. Tried the dark room. I’m sorry (actually I am not sorry), but I found it impossible to force my baby’s mouth onto my boob. SO. I let him play until he was interested in eating again. If he wanted to nurse a little more before a nap, then I nursed him. Why? Because I would rather him eat more, sleep better, and nurse more during the day than during the night.  As far as the biting while teething – sometimes you have to put them down and let them see that biting means no nursing. My son got the hint, but it took nursing him NOT at his scheduled time. Another reason why you may not want to stick to a certain feeding schedule is because when breast feeding your supply is effected by demand. The more your baby eats, the more you will produce. When my supply dropped, nursing my son more (not following the clock) got my supply back up WAY more effectively than the pump.

This is all not to mention the books suggestion on crying it out. Gary Ezzo says repeatedly that it is not harmful to let your baby cry until he or she is sleeping, even as long as 45 minutes. I have done a variation of crying it out with my son, but I opted for Dr. Ferber’s method where you check on your baby in increasing increments until he or she falls asleep without you in the room. My issue with Gary Ezzo’s method, at least from what I gathered from Babywise, is that he does not specify when an acceptable age is to let your baby scream or cry him or herself to sleep. He does not suggest going in to check on your baby. He doesn’t address what is emotionally going on with your baby AT ALL (other than the fact that your baby will still love you when he or she wakes up and you will not scar your baby for life. So relieving… … …). It took me months before I was able to let my son cry for longer than 5 minutes, and we didn’t do the Ferber method of crying it out until he was 6 months old. I have seen mothers on a Babywise Facebook page ask if it was ok to let their 6 week old cry it out (:-| 6 weeks is still soooo little. Like, they were in the womb 6 weeks ago.). I have seen mothers who are desperate, who have just heard about Babywise, and that it promises to get your baby sleeping through the night in the early weeks, asking about how to let their baby cry it out without even reading the book or TRYING to understand the methods beyond just letting their baby cry. That is dangerous in my opinion. (In case you were wondering, after doing the Ferber Method of cry it out Jackson slept from 7p-4a for about 3 weeks, but then he got croop, followed by teething. So, that was the end of sleeping through the night. We all share a room because of our living situation while we wait until we close on our new house so we are holding off on any form of sleep training until we have separate rooms. But this just shows you how much change goes on with your baby and just because they start sleeping through the night, doesn’t mean they will STAY sleeping through the night. So, don’t freak out and think there is something wrong with your baby. He/She is just being a baby.)

Does any of this sound familiar to you??

The more I got into the whole parenting thing, the more I realized how UNNATURAL some of the ways of Babywise are. I am an A + B = C person. I like structure & predictability to a certain extent, which is why I think Babywise initially appealed to me. My greatest lesson: Babies aren’t predictable. Babies are not machines or robots. I have come to accept that, and that Babywise, for the most part (in my experience), goes against the nature of babies. They are individual little growing beings that are going through SO much change and growth it is literally impossible to comprehend. I started to get to know my baby; to pay attention to his needs and what he was going through and I let that guide me. Not what a book said to do. Gary Ezzo’s method is founded on being “parent directed” rather than being “baby lead”. I guess I say why pick one or the other? To survive this parenting thing you need to be out of the box. You need to be creative. You need to be flexible. You need to be strong. You need patience. You need divine wisdom. You need to be able to put yourself last. You need to trust your instincts, as well as your baby.

Some of this may sound kind of strong as far as my opinions and feeling go. It is that way because as a new mom I was so impressionable and desperate to do what was best for my baby, like I know EVERY new mom is. I was putting all my confidence in the words of a MAN who never in his life nursed a baby or was a stay at home mom with a baby literally almost 24/7. Thank God it clicked one day that I was my child’s one and only mother and I could do whatever I thought was best. I was made to be a mother. If you are a mom, you were made to be one too. I FINALLY decided to be confident in myself and make my own decisions, and you know what: I was never happier or more stress free. You know what else? My kid is perfect…in his own unique and special way. :) We have areas we can grow in, but who doesn’t? Books about parenting have their pros, but just remember who the parent is. You. Be confident in who you are as a parent, and do what is best for your family.

I want to thank all my mommy (and even some daddy) friends out there for the wisdom, support, advice and guidance. You are all the best teachers I could have asked for on this mommy journey!

Jackson thanks you too! :)

"Yayyyy!" My happy clapping boy. <3

“Yayyyy!” My happy clapping boy. <3

Perfectly Perfect Kale Chips

Because making veggies into chips combines two of my favorite things!!!!

One of my favorite vegetables out there is kale. It is so rich in nutrients and so versatile. I was in Whole Foods this week and they were having a kale sale, so I picked some up with no real plan for what I was going to do with it. Last night lentil soup was on the menu and I wanted something with a crunch for a different texture to go with it, and when I spotted the kale in the fridge I immediately thought, “KALE CHIPS!”. 

(Here is the lentil soup recipe. Many people asked for the recipe when I posted a picture of our dinner! I posted it on my IG account [@foodformyhouse], but figured I’d link it here too.)

The chips came out perfectly crispy, and were so satisfying paired with the warm hearty soup. So, I figured since I loved them so much, and since I thought pairing them with soup was a fun idea, I want to share how I made them!

I really really love lacinato (or Tuscan) kale. It’s leaves are more flat than curly kale (making it more ideal for making chips, IMO), and it has bumps running throughout. I read it has the nickname “dinosaur kale” because it kind of looks like dinosaur skin. As far as flavor goes, it has a bit more of a milder, more delicate flavor than curly kale. Here is a picture so you know what I am talking about and can find it in the store:

Lacinato Kale

Lacinato Kale

Ok so what you need:

1 bunch of lacinato kale

olive oil

salt

pepper

garlic powder

That’s it. 

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. (The idea is to cook the kale low & slow which dries it out PERFECTLY!)

Line 2 sheet trays with tin foil & set aside.

Untie your kale bunch and separate the leaves from the thick stem in the middle, leaving them as long halves. You can cut them away or just run your pointer and middle finger down either side and tear them away. They don’t have to be perfect. As the stem gets closer to the broad top of the leaf it gets softer, so some leaves may be small enough where you can just leave the leaf whole and cut the thick end of the stem off. Put them in a colander and wash the leaves, then run them through a salad spinner to dry them well. You want them to be nice and dry which will help them crisp up nicely.

(side note: after you wash your leaves rinse the left over stems in the colander and then throw them in a freezer bag to freeze. Save all your veggie scraps throughout the week like this, then when you have a couple bags full toss all the scraps into a crock pot with some garlic cloves and bay leaves, cover with water and simmer all day to make your own veggie stock. Strain and store broth in the freezer and/or fridge! I never spend my $$$ on veggie broth anymore.)

Separate the leaves into 2 equal bunches on each sheet, drizzle each bunch with a small amount of olive oil, then salt, pepper & garlic powder all to taste. Toss with your fingers to coat evenly, then arrange the leaves on the tray so there is as little over lap as possible.

Stick the trays in the oven and bake for 75 – 90 minutes until the leaves are perfectly crisp.

voilà!

voilà!

I have to say that while my husband and I were filling up on a veggie soup, my parents and brother were eating hamburgers and I suggested putting the crunchy kale on their burgers, and they loved it!! So — for all you meat eaters out there, you can make these next time you make your burgers as a light side or burger topper too!

Kale, a veggie that can be loved by all. ;)

Enjoy!!!!

A (Perfect) Very Veggie Thanksgiving.

Since I have eliminated meat from my diet, holidays have always been a bit tricky. I mean, Thanksgiving pretty much revolves around the turkey in my family…you know, after the antipasto course, then that lasagna or manicotti, and then finally after the turkey soup. Meat and dairy overload. I decided right away to make myself something delicious and vegan to bring to my parents or my in laws, so that way 1. the expectation is not on them to make me something tasty, and 2. I wouldn’t look at my plate and think it was completely lame and feel left out.

Year number one of being a vegan on thanksgiving I made one of my favorite vegan recipes that I even make on non-holidays. It also happens to be on one of my favorite blogs: Oh She Glows (Vegan Recipes by Angela Liddon)!! The recipe is Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf. If Thanksgiving was a loaf, this would be it. ;) My meat eating family enjoyed this also.

so yum

so yum!

Last year I was pregnant and saw an instagram post from nom yourself (Which, by the way, go follow her is you have not already. Your mouth will water all day long and you’ll be so inspired by her vegan creativity! @nomyourself) that featured Gardein Turk’y Cutlets and it looked so dang good that I decided then and there that’s what I’m making myself for Thanksgiving this year. It was perfect & even came with it’s own gravy. I loved stacking my bites…turk’y, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce. Not home made, but still an enjoyable option.

Simple, easy, tasty.

Simple, easy, tasty.

This is year 3 of a meatless Thanksgiving for me, and as soon as I saw this recipe I KNEW it was this year’s winner. A new blog I came across this year, and another favorite of mine, 86 Lemons, featured this recipe recently: Stuffed Squash with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. I love the combination of cherry and almond, how the dijon really brings all the flavors together, and that this recipe uses couscous. You also really can’t go wrong with a stuffed squash on Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to share this one with my family this year.

Amazing flavors!

Amazing flavors!

These are just 3 options, out of SOOOOO many!!!

Here is a link for 37 vegetarian recipes if you are still looking for more.

Here is an amazing post from Oh She Glows giving tons of vegan options.

I also have a yummy soup and puree featuring a classic Thanksgiving veggie, parsnips.

About 4-5 years back I started a tradition of making a pumpkin trifle for Thanksgiving. It was such a hit, it is requested by multiple people every year. Last year I finally made a home made vegan version and I plan on making it this Monday for a Friendsgiving party we are attending. I am also going to do it refined sugar free this year and will definitely be posting the outcome!!!

Hope you all have a wonderful, thankful, blessed holiday, and that your hearts, as well as your plates, will be full!

A Weekend of Fall Flavored Brilliance.

This weekend I had two brilliant food ideas that utilized more fall festive food items I had stocked in the kitchen.

One: Dinner Friday night.

As you may remember, my husband is kind of obsessed with parsnips. I had pumpkin on hand and had been wanting to use it in a savory dish…so, I guess you could say lightning struck my brain and it hit me…pumpkin parsnip puree. This was the whole dish:

pumpkin parsnip dinner

Coconut milk infused rice, topped with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and of course the crowning glory – pumpkin parsnip puree.

A few people have asked me for a recipe, so I decided to blog it! Ok, so listen…I’m kind of the queen of just winging it in the kitchen when I am getting creative and don’t always measure; I eyeball and taste, eyeball and taste. BUT I have a pretty good idea of what I did here and did my very best with a recipe. It’s so yummy!

Ingredients:

For the rice:

approx. 1 Tbsp butter (I use organic earth balance buttery spread – coconut or canola oil would work too.)

2 cups dried brown rice

1 can lite coconut milk (full fat is fine if you desire or only have it on hand)

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

3 dried bay leaves

For the puree:

5-6 parsnips (I used one whole bag from Trader Joes.)

1 cup + 2 Tbsp plain pumpkin puree (Trader Joes organic is my fave.)

2 Tbsp plain non dairy milk

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, you can always add more)

3-4 grinds of fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme (pinch it between your fingers to release more flavor before adding it!)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp maple syrup

For the veggies:

1/2 one large white onion, thinly sliced

8 oz package of white button mushrooms, sliced (baby bellas would work too)

2/3 of a 6 oz package of fresh baby spinach (about 3-4 cups I’d say) (frozen would work if you let it thaw completely then squeeze out extra liquid, then use 1.5-2 cups)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

First start the rice. Heat a medium sized pot over medium high heat and throw in the butter and rice. Stir it around to melt the butter and lightly toast the rice for 3-5 min. Add in the coconut milk, water, salt and bay leaf, cover and turn the heat up to high. Once its boiling turn the heat down to low until the water is absorbed. (Follow the cooking directions on the rice you have. If it calls for a higher ratio of liquid just add more water.)

While the rice is cooking add another medium sized pot to the stove filled half way with water. Add a pinch of salt, cover and turn the heat on high. Once the water is boiling add the peeled and diced parsnips. I let them boil for a few minutes then turn the heat down slightly to cook until they are fork tender (about 10 min or so).

While the rice and parsnips are cooking work on the veggies. Heat a cast iron skillet (or large skillet) over medium-medium high heat and pour in canola oil. Add the sliced onion and mushrooms to the skillet. You want the onions to caramelize and the mushrooms to brown a bit so do not add any salt yet. That will cause the veggies to release liquid and they won’t brown. So, give the onions and mushrooms a good 10 minutes or so until they get soft and get some color. Then add the garlic and the salt & pepper. If they seem to stick to the pan or the garlic starts to brown add a splash of water. Once the garlic has cooked for 30-60 seconds add the spinach and stir to incorporate. Let it cook until the spinach has wilted. Turn heat to low, drizzle with truffle oil, stir and let sit until ready to serve.

At this point your parsnips should be done, and your rice should be close to done, if not done. Drain parsnips and add them to a mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin and milk and mix with and electric mixer to combine and create a smooth mixer. Then, add remaining ingredients and mix again to combine. (A food processor would work great too, I may try that next time!)

When rice is done remove from heat, remove the bay leaves and fluff it with a fork.

To serve spoon some rice onto the plate, top with the veggies. I scooped the puree into a plastic baggy, snipped the end off and piped it around the rice and veggies! All of the components tasted so yummy on there own, but they were THE PERFECT combination for stacking bites. A little rice, a little veggies, a little puree. Serious perfection. The flavors went so well together!

Saturday morning is when brilliant idea #2 struck me: Coffee. I have been less than impressed with the coffee I bought on sale at the grocery store recently; so I thought, how could I jazz up the flavor of my coffee???

gb spice tea

Make use of this delightful seasonal gingerbread spice tea!!! I prepped my coffee maker to make a 4 cup pot of coffee, then cut open 2 of these tea bags and added it to the grounds, along with just a drop of vanilla extract. Honestly guys, the flavor rivaled that of any Starbucks seasonal beverage! SO good. It’s my new morning beverage addiction.

So there you have it. A weekend of fall flavored brilliance.

Coming up I am going to be posting about what vegans/vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving! It’s not all about the turkey! ;) What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes??

Creamy Parsnip & Sweet Potato Soup

Ah, mondays. Maybe one day I will learn to love you.

One thing I do love is a good fair on a beautiful fall day, and this past Saturday our little family had fun at one of the most popular fairs in CT (if not the most popular), the Durham Fair.

There was cuteness overload, as well as indulgence in fair food. Raised donut, yes. Bloomin’ onion, yes. Falafel gyro, you bet. Massive roast beef sandwich, definitely (all joe on that one lol).

fair2  fair5

fair3

Needless to say, I was thankful on Sunday for the tasty & nutritious homemade soup I had leftover, inspired by one of Joe’s favorite vegetables: Parsnips. During the week we were in a local market and he spotted some and said, “You have to come up with a recipe for parsnips…” Well, that I did.

The flavors of parsnips and sweet potato make it buttery and sweet; its warm from the perfect amount of cinnamon and spices, and nice and creamy from a silky cashew cream that I could have eaten all by itself!

Here is the recipe:

{For the cashew cream}

Ingredients:

1 c raw cashews

2 cups of water

1/2 c non-dairy milk (I used plain unsweetened almond milk) (veggie broth could also work here)

Directions:

Combine cashews and water and soak for at least an hr or up to overnight. Drain the cashews and add to a blender with the milk or broth. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

{For the soup}

Ingredients:

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

pinch of salt

1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

5 leaves of fresh sage, minced (or 1/2 tsp of dried sage)

2 tsp salt (I used kosher, but sea salt would be fine.)

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 Tbsp coconut sugar (You could also use brown sugar or agave; I like coconut sugar because it is unrefined.)

6 c veggie broth

6 small sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed (Trader Joes bag of organic sweet potatoes tend to have small potatoes, about the size of my fist or a little bigger. If you have larger or average size ones use 3-4.)

3 parsnips, peeled & cubed

Directions:

Drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, carrots, celery and pinch of salt & stir. Allow the veggies to cook for 5-6 min. While they are cooking combine all the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, salt, pepper) in a separate small bowl. Add all the spices and allow to cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the veggie broth and coconut sugar, then add the sweet potatoes and parsnips. Bring it up to a boil then lower heat, cover & simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips are soft. Remove the lid and remove the pot from the heat.

Now the fun part… :)

Blend all the contents in the pot with an immersion blender – start on low then move to high. If you don’t have one you can use a regular blender, but always be careful putting hot liquid into a blender. Do a little at a time and I allow the steam to escape! Add the delicious cashew cream and blend some more until it is all incorporated and smooth! If you used a blender add some of the cashew cream to each batch, or you could try whisking it in later.

And thats it! Super easy!

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a couple sage leaves….fancy!

parspotsoup

In response to this soup my husband sang the following little song:

“Soup you’re amazing just the way you are

And when you simmer, you make the whole family come for dinner

Soup you’re amazing just the way you are.”

Maybe if you make it, your spouse or significant other will start singing its praises to the tune of recent chart topper also…orrrr maybe that’s just mine?! ;)

Hope you all had a great weekend and good start to your week!

Quick Fall Recipe: Amazing {& Healthy} Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Over the past couple of September weeks the weather has definitely transitioned. The sun is still shining strong, but it seems like over night we went from the hot summer air that hugs your skin to the cool crisp breeze that is such a sweet compliment to warm rays.

Well, what welcomes fall better than pumpkin?? Not much. Even Starbucks boasted that they brought back the adored Pumpkin Spice Latte early this year! So, this morning I had a craving and was inspired to make a pumpkin pie smoothie. AND let me tell you it was AMAZING. I thought, “This is the perfect thing to put up on the blog this morning!!”

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas

1/4 c of pumpkin puree

2 & 1/2 c unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

(makes 2 large smoothies)

photo-3photo-2

Give it a try! Hope you enjoy it as much as my hubby and I did this morning!

Jackson’s Birth Story.

The Story:

It all started Wednesday the 15th of May into Thursday, the 16th. I got a chiropractic adjustment Wednesday afternoon and by that night, after I watched American Idol and had a glass of wine, I went to bed with contractions 10 minutes apart. By 1 or 2 am they were 7 minutes apart, but then they stopped by 3 am. I was slightly frustrated considering I was now going on 10 days late. Some background: starting at 37 weeks I was literally doing everything I possibly could to help naturally encourage labor; i.e. primrose oil, walking, squats, sitting on an exercise ball, climbing the stairs multiple times in a row, eating pineapple, spicy food, adding basil & oregano into everything possible, etc. I learned that he was not coming out until he was ready!

I woke up Thursday with no contractions, but had a midwife appointment with Laura that morning to monitor the baby for 30 minutes, followed by an ultrasound to check fluid levels; standard post date stuff. While at the doctors Laura swept my membranes, which she had done the previous Monday as well; then while hooked up to the monitoring machine, I started having contractions recorded at 5 minutes apart. This was around 9 or 9:30am. They weren’t super strong, but definitely noticeable. Joe was with me, but had to go back to work. I didn’t want to go to my ultrasound alone in case things were to progress to the point where I couldn’t drive, so I drove to my sister’s house and she came with me. It was around 11am when we arrived at the Yale office where I’d get the ultrasound. At this point I was saying “ouch” to the contractions, still 5 minutes apart or so, but again it was more like a severe menstrual cramp than anything. After the ultrasound we drove back to my sister’s, picked up her family and headed to a local library to get some Sugar Bakery cupcakes since their truck was there for the afternoon. Once I had my cupcakes I headed home to eat some lunch.

I was dicing up veggies to make salsa and remember my mom texting me asking me how I was doing. I told her I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and making salsa. She thought it was funny that I was having contractions and making salsa. I was hungry! :) At this point it was around 1:30pm. After I made the salsa I texted Joe and told him he should come home soon in case anything were to progress. I ate lunch and waited for him. He got home around 2:30pm, he ate lunch, and then we went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day outside!

Back home from the walk we decided to eat one of our cup cakes! It was around 4:30pm now. I sat on my exercise ball and thoroughly enjoyed my Snickers cup cake while conversing with my husband. I think I literally had just swallowed the last bite when I felt a contraction, and then all of a sudden kind of pop in my stomach, almost like a water balloon popping, and Jackson’s head drop really low. The contraction immediately became like 20x more painful. Oh boy. I thought to myself, “Oh God…I felt a pop, the baby’s head pretty much just dropped into my pelvis, and this contraction suddenly SUCKS. Holy crap, I think my water just broke.” Sure enough I stood up and started walking to bathroom and with each step: gush, gush, gush. I pretty much just stood in the shower and let it all come on out. Then…I had to poop. And let me tell you I pooped more than I have ever pooped in my ENTIRE LIFE (haha). {Listen, this is my birth story, and I like details, so you’re getting all the details. ;)} Joe called the midwives to tell them my water broke. Because the fluid was yellow and Jackson was 10 days late Laura advised us to go to the hospital right away to make sure there was no meconium in the fluid. So, I got changed, we grabbed our stuff and Joe told me to head to the car and he would tell my dad we were leaving. Joe got to the car with my dad trailing behind him. He came to my side, kissed me on the head and told me to remember what his mom always said, “Women are stronger than men, that’s why they are the ones who have babies.” Lol, thanks Daddy.

We were going to be delivering Jackson at Yale New Haven Hospital. On the drive there I remember being like “ooooooowwwww!” Once we arrived and checked in the attendant asked me if I wanted a wheel chair, but I declined thinking of what Louise, the nurse whose birth class I attended had said, “When they offer you a wheel chair say no. You can walk. You’re not sick; you’re just having a baby.” That was her mantra, “You’re just having a baby.” Well, I half regretted not getting the wheel chair lol. But knew it’d be best to walk.

By the time we got up to the L&D floor it was around 5pm and the contractions were making me nauseous and faint. We were greeted by a nurse who informed us that there were no rooms left in triage so I would have to be checked by my on-call midwife, Elise, in the C-Section recovery room, which is like it says – where women recover after having a C-Section. Now, at some point I am pretty sure I already started kind of grunting or groaning through the contractions; just what these poor women who are recovering from surgery want to hear. I remember then getting ready for Elise to check me and realizing that blood comes out when you have a contraction. And it was now on the floor near my feet. I also remember hating the fact that I had to climb up on a bed and be checked during a contraction. After checking me out, Elise said that, 1.) I was only 2.5 cm, 2.) there didn’t seem to be meconium , which meant I technically did not have to stay at the hospital, and 3.) it was too soon for her liking to admit me. She suggested I go back home or go walk around the hospital or outside, basically wherever I would be most comfortable.

My state at this point was dizzy and faint, a bit overwhelmed at being in the hospital in an unfamiliar/uncomfortable environment, as well as by what I was feeling and experiencing in my body and being in very little control of it, and distressed at the thought of experiencing this in the car, outside on the public streets, or at home where my parents were (no offense mommy & daddy). I looked at Elise with the saddest face ever and told her I can’t get back in the car, and not to make me go out there (downtown new haven). Elise, being the most glorious woman and best midwife ever responded by saying, “Okay listen, go up to the 7th floor. There is a healing garden on the roof up there that is quiet and peaceful, and there is usually no one up there. Go out there and walk around and come back in a couple hours and we’ll check to see how you’ve progressed.”

Joe and I got up to the garden that had a pretty landscape of plants, a stream, benches and a path intertwined through it all. I definitely enjoyed the scenery and fresh air right away; it made me feel like I wasn’t in a hospital anymore. As nice as it was I confessed to Joe at this point that I just wish I had a pillow to put my head down on because of feeling faint and tired. I was thinking to myself that I really didn’t know how I was going to get through this entire labor if I was already feeling like this. I decided to go kneel in front of a bench and put my head down. Joe took the inserts out of his shoes to pad my knees. Such a great hubby. I think he started playing some music also. Even though I was outside with the evening sky and breeze, with my husband, listening to worship music, I just did not feel comfortable, or as comfortable as I could be while having contractions. I needed my doula, my dear friend Chrisy Kendrick. Joe called her to come meet us, and after Joe and I had been up there for about an hour she arrived. The first thing she did was get down next to me to encourage me and pray for me for the rest of the delivery. I finally felt the faint and dizzy feeling lift and decided to get up and walk around. Now with each contraction what felt best was for me to put my arms around Joe’s neck with my face in his chest and squat a little in front of him. Chrisy would rub my back and hips through the contraction. This pretty much got me through my entire labor. We circled the garden like this for about an hour and decided to go back down to get checked out; back to the C-Section recovery room for my labor sounds to disrupt the recovering women.  I remember walking by the waiting room where families were waiting to meet new babies right outside the L&D doors, getting a contraction, and thinking “Why God?!”.  I really did not think I was going to be one to make loud noise while in labor, but that was not the case. I was definitely a deep guttural, pit of your stomach noise maker. It was just how I needed to deal with the contractions; unfortunate for innocent by-standers. So, turns out in those 2 hours or so I went from 2.5 cm to 3 cm. I was not too happy about that; I wanted to progress quickly, but who wouldn’t really? At this point I think that Joe or Chrisy had gotten in touch with my dear friend Alayna Wetherhead who I also wanted there. She met us back there at this point. Elise told us that they were going to get me the tub room (Yale L&D has one room with a big tub in it), which I was incredibly thankful for, but that it could take about 1.5 hrs, so I should go back to the garden. I found out afterwards that she told Joe, Chrisy & Alayna to keep me up there as long as possible. It was around 8-8:30pm at this time.

The worst part about going up to the garden was walking the hallways with contractions. There were multiple times when I would be having a contraction and a random doctor would ask, “Is she okay?” Um. Really? She’s having a baby. Have you never seen a laboring woman before? Other times I would be having a contraction in the elevator and it would stop at a random floor. When the doors opened and revealed my laboring self, the person waiting on the other side would usually give a half smile and say, “I’ll wait for the next one.” Good idea.

Back up in the garden we walked around for a while but it got to the point where I just wanted to kneel and lean forward over a bench. I remember shoving my fingers between the slats in the bench, gripping it, shoving my face into my arms and half yelling, half groaning through the contractions. I also remember feeling more and more pressure and thinking if it wasn’t intense before, it was pretty freaking intense now. Joe said afterward as we were reflecting on it all that this particular time – seeing me go through what I was going through and hearing me in pain was rough for him to. All I had in my mind was that I heard Elise say it would be around 1.5 hrs at most before the tub was ready. So, after I really couldn’t stand it anymore I asked my birthing crew if it was time to go down yet. Chrisy confirmed that it had been 1.5 hrs and that she could tell a difference in the intensity of the contractions and we could go down.

THANK THE LORD when Elise checked me this time I was 4 cm; she said I was in a new phase of labor – active labor, and I could finally be admitted. I was like yes a new phase; get me the heck out of the old phase. I want the TUB! Bad news: they needed 15-20 min to fill the tub. My thought: “There was already 1.5 hrs to fill the tub!!!” I hated having to sit and wait in that C-Section recovery room, but tried to remain patient. I took the time to change into the birthing attire I spent $37 at target on (that made my husband happy… ;) he was like why did you spend almost $40 on clothes that are going to get ruined?!) (They didn’t get ruined by the way.). Once the room was ready, around 9:45pm, I made a bee line for the tub. The warm water felt amazing. I really was so happy that I could labor in the tub, it was a Godsend. I continued to labor through the contractions just the same as before, leaning over the side of the tub onto Joe while Chrisy or Alayna rubbed my back. Elise put a pillow on the edge of the tub so I could relax in between contractions. At one point I heard Will Reagan & United Pursuits “Endless Years” album playing in the background and I was thankful for whoever put that on (Alayna, I think.). I started to get hot after a while so one of the girls put a cool cloth on my neck and forehead which was comforting. They were constantly offering me water and juice in between contractions to make sure I was staying hydrated and energized. In the moment I couldn’t even think of eating or drinking and could barely take the little sips, but I was thankful for their care and knew it would be best to stay hydrated. For 2 hours I continued through the intensifying contractions with the increasing urge to bear down into that pressure. I was making the typical laboring sounds trying to keep the sound out of my throat and into my stomach. At the end of those 2 hrs, around 11:45pm, Elise checked my cervix during a contraction and found I was 5cm. I was thinking dear God help me. She said that because Jackson’s head is right up against my cervix, my bearing down and groaning into my stomach is causing too much pressure against my cervix. It isn’t ready for that yet so it’s not dilating, or even worse could swell or tear. She suggested we bust out the typical 70s labor method of the “hee hee hee hoo” with each contraction, keeping it very breathy & up in my head, if that makes sense, and asked Joe to do it with me to help me keep with it. This would keep pressure of my cervix and help me progress faster, hopefully. I prayed, “Please Lord, let Elise know what she is talking about.”

The next contraction came and it took all my strength to keep my body from going back to what I was doing before. I wanted to be all crazy intense, aggressively getting through the contraction, but this was very calm and soft; I think it made me focus on the pain more. Basically, the next 2 hrs were the hardest 2 hrs of my entire labor. I was thankful for those who were with me praying for me, and for the prayers from those praying at home. My contractions were getting more and more and more intense, the pressure was getting more and more and more intense, and along with dealing with that, I had to fight against what my body naturally wanted to do. If Joe was not there with me during every contraction, especially the “hee hee hee hoo” ones, I don’t know if I could have made it. He is such a servant, often putting himself last, that he did not even pee when he had too! Finally around 8 hrs in he decided he needed to relieve his bladder and stretch his legs that were asleep. Elise came to take his place, letting me lean on her. She was so sweet whispering encouraging words to me, and rubbing her finger on my forehead to relieve tension. I remember playing with her hair while I was hugging her trying to calm my breathing after a contraction was over; for some reason it was just comforting to me. I had an incredible team with me.

Drawing near to the end of those 2 hours the “hee hee hee hoos” started sounding sadder and sadder, with the “hoos” extending into half crying. Elise and the sweet nurse, Rachel, would say let that contraction go, it’s over, let your breath be normal, but I would say but it still hurts and I still feel pressure!! Probably around 1:30am I looked up at Chrisy and Rachel and said/cried, “I can’t do this for anymore hours! I can’t.” I remember Chrisy saying, “It’s not hours it’s just the next contraction. You just have to get through the next one,” and Rachel, “Every contraction is just bringing your baby closer.” Me: “No. No more. I can’t do it anymore.” Joe chimed in there, “The Lord has given you the strength and everything you need to get through this, you can do it.” Me: “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M FEELING RIGHT NOW.” Clearly I was done!! ;) Later on Rachel said she knew in that moment I hit transition, and she was right. To the grace of God Elise did know what she was talking about; she checked my cervix and with a little help from her I was finally 10cm dilated. Can I just say that I thought that moment was never going to come and I was going to die in that tub? Not really, but kind of.

Just as much as I wanted the tub before, I wanted out of the tub now. I hopped out of it so fast; I was SO ready to push. I went from on the verge of delirious with my eyes rolling in back of my head to lets freaking do this.

I pushed for a total of 2 hrs. I started with squatting with the squat bar, went from that to laying back and pulling myself forward with a towel wrapped around the squat bar; from that I went to all fours, followed by sitting on the toilet. I mean, where is the most natural place to push like you’re pooping? I remember practically jumping out of the bed to get to the bathroom. I was in beast mode. I asked Elise if he was going to fall in the toilet…She said he wouldn’t, but if he happened to she’d get him out (haha). She also laughed at me because she would tell me not to keep pushing if my contraction was over, but I always gave one extra little push at the end. Listen, I wanted to meet my kid. She was all geared up for him to come out on the toilet, but decided that she thought I did the best with pulling myself forward with the towel, so we went back to the bed to try that method again. It soon became clear that this is how he was coming out. They put a mirror up for me so I could see what was going on down there, which I found very motivating. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember being so happy pushing and even joking around. I loved hearing Joe’s reaction every time Jackson’s head would show. I don’t really remember what he said, but I got the sense he was like oh my gosh this is crazy and that looks nothing like a baby’s head and is that really my kid?! He and Alayna were holding my legs and cheering me on while Chrisy was encouraging me on the side. I constantly heard everyone saying great job, and that was an awesome push, etc. I also heard Elise joking that she was wearing goggles because she thought a flood of fluid was going to come out behind Jackson and hit her because there hadn’t been that much fluid before. Ok, so finally after almost 2 hours of pushing his head half emerged. Can I just be frank? The boy’s head was half way out for a lot longer than I would have liked. I heard Elise or the nurse tell me to just relax and let him stretch me out. Yea well, they don’t call it the ring of fire for nothing. Finally, after a few more contractions and crazy with all my strength pushes I felt our little boy make his way out and he was plopped on my chest. The cord was wrapped around his neck so Elise cut it right away, which Joe didn’t mind as long as Jackson was safe.  Apparently he did some fancy move on the way out, and both shoulders came out at the same time with his arms crossed in front of him with his hands by his face. Typical Jackson. Oh, and the first thing he did was poop all over the place. Also typical Jackson. :)

Literally everything I had just been through faded away when our son was in my arms. I couldn’t believe he was finally here and laying on me! I just kept saying “oh my gosh,” and Joe and I both could not stop saying hi to him. We were in awe of him and his sweet little face. I think the first thing I really noticed were his hands and finger nails. His hands were big! He had long fingers and long finger nails!! I thought that was so funny. Piano hands, just like his dad and Grandpa Jacobs. And those gorgeous eyes as he was blinking in front of us for the first time – breathtaking. At first Joe just saw this purple creature that looked more like an alien than a baby. He was amazed that by the time he was plopped in front of us his coloring was normal and he actually resembled a baby…a very cute baby at that! We were so so so in love.

All in all I was 11 days late, and my labor from the time my water broke was 11 hours long. Jackson was born on May 17th, 2013 at 3:44am. He was 7lbs 15oz and 21.5in long. I did the whole thing completely natural, which was my plan.

I held him while Elise and the Rachel continued to work on me. Rachel kept trying to get a good cry out of him, so she eventually took him for a minute to do a deep clean of his throat because he wasn’t really giving her the screaming cry she was looking for. To this day he rarely cries like that! Such a good boy. She was thoughtful in doing that so the nurses on the recovery floor wouldn’t have to take him from us to clean his throat later on. Finally, I was in a wheel chair ready to head up to the recovery floor and Rachel handed me Jackson all bundled up. She told me some nurses won’t let women hold their babies up to recovery, but she was so cool and totally fine with it. Joe was alongside, and we were on our way to start our first night (or day really) of this new adventure together as a family.

Things we learned about Jackson in the hospital those first few days:

  • He busted out of swaddles and loves his hands near his face.
  • He loves to hold things: our fingers, shirts, blankets, etc.
  • He is very alert & curious.
  • He was great at pooping.
  • He learned to latch almost immediately, and was a great eater.
  • He liked to suck in his bottom lip.
  • He smiled when he ate & slept.
  • He was born incredibly cute & loved; the nurses there loved him…along with everyone else. We got many messages from friends saying he was the cutest newborn they had ever seen.

My reflections:

Labor was definitely more intense than I anticipated. I knew it was going to be hard work, but I imagined it more like a challenging yoga class or something that I would just have to power through. No person, book or piece of advice can really prepare you for what you experience. It is a pain like no other, but the reward is also like no other. I can’t say it was easy, but it was perfect. I would not have had it any other way.

I am so so so so so so so blessed by my husband. We really labored together for our little one. He was there for me every single second, emotionally and physically. He does not have good shoulders or a good back, and he sacrificially let me lean on him for pretty much 11 hours straight. We were both sore the next day. We have always been all about being a team and this labor and birth was no different. He is my MVP. :)

My birth team was all around amazing. It was such a wise move to have a doula, and close friends there who have been through it before. It was great support for me, but also for Joe. It was so special for me to share this amazing miraculous experience with them, and I am so incredibly full of gratitude for the sacrifice of time and sleep they made to be there with me.

If anyone lives in the New Haven area and is in need of a gyno/midwife practice, do yourself a favor and go to Women’s Health Associates. Joe and I loved all three midwives from the start (Deb, Laura & Elise), but after our birth experience we cannot be more fond of or speak more highly of this practice. When you are in labor it is so hard to think clearly at times. You need to have someone you trust to know what you want and what you need to guide you. I didn’t know it in the moment but looking back, it was as if Elise knew exactly what I wanted and what I needed when I couldn’t realize it or verbalize it myself. Childbirth is crazy. It is a rollercoaster ride, and she helped make it so I had the birth I wanted, as well as facilitated a pleasant experience in the midst of something that could easily go off track and be not so pleasant.

Overall, I see the hand and favor of the Lord over me and my growing family. I know that He is the one responsible for blessing me with a great birth experience with no complications, creating a perfect little boy for us, and keeping him safe throughout it all. Every single person involved was ordained to be there by Him. It was truly a gift. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow or variation. He is GOOD.

Pictures:

IMG_2589
Joe & I enduring a contraction in the tub.
IMG_2598
So grateful to have this man by my side!
IMG_2599
Elise stepping in for Joe, Joe encouraging from the side & Chrisy massaging my back/hips.
IMG_2604
Me wanting to be done, and Joe giving me some motivation.
IMG_2607
Husband & Doula helping me make it through the final stretches.
IMG_2616
He is here. Jackson Bruno Jacobs.
IMG_2615
Family

Expressions on a Rainy Wednesday

Disclaimer: long post ahead.

Today is May 8th.

That makes me 40 weeks & 2 days pregnant.

I know that everyone says majority of first time pregnancies will go over 40 weeks, but I have to say, I’m kind of not feeling that.

This last week or so has probably been the hardest for me so far, mainly on an emotional and hormonal level. It is something that I can’t quite explain, but if you are 9 months pregnant, or ever have been, maybe you understand. Maybe not. I kind of feel like hiding away until he decides to make his appearance. As a 9 month+ pregnant lady who was expecting to be holding her baby by now, being asked everywhere you go about it doesn’t make me feel happy. I get it, people care and are excited, and that’s nice and all. But yea. Like I said, I’m emotional and hormonal, and overdue and YES I’m ready to have him, YES I’m large and how the heck do you think I am?! :)

Throughout my pregnancy I have imagined & prayed for what I want my labor to look like, getting to have him in my arms on Mother’s Day, also things I did not want to happen. I DO NOT want to be induced. The thing about pregnancy, especially waiting for labor to start, is that you have no control. From the very beginning you can’t make yourself get pregnant. You can’t make your baby grow a certain way or any faster. There is no getting around waiting around 9 months before you can meet your baby. There is no microwave that speeds up the process. And there is no making yourself go into labor. I have literally done everything humanly possible to try to naturally induce labor, or at least help the process along. I am still pregnant. :) Bottom line is…it doesn’t matter what you do. The baby is coming when the baby is good and ready. The reality is that things don’t always go the way you anticipated, wanted or expected. That isn’t always an easy thing NOT pregnant. So again, I say: GOSH the last week or so is HARD. I think the world should know this and love on pregnant women every where.

If there is one thing I have been learning in this realization of how little control I have, is how desperately I need patience, and to trust in the Lord’s perfect timing & care for me. Why????? is. that. so. HARD? I’ve actually been joking that it is taking me back to when I was waiting to get engaged. Haha. Those days of wondering when it will happen, feeling like it might never happen, and knowing it is completely out of your hands. And the day comes & you absolutely can’t believe it!

Jackson Bruno Jacobs will be here soon enough, this I know. I cannot wait until the day we meet our son!

Now onto another topic that I have been wanting to touch on, also relating to pregnancy: Pregnancy & food.

As most people who know me know, I adopted a plant based diet about a year and a half ago. Over the course of being pregnant my diet has changed a little bit. Before becoming pregnant I was completely vegan for a 9 month period. About 3 months or so into my pregnancy I had a craving for eggs, and so one day I ate them. That was pretty much the only non-vegan food I ate for a while, but over the remaining course of my pregnancy I have also eaten dairy in the form of some cheeses, milk & cream. Everything I prepare myself, for myself or my husband, from meals, snacks, desserts, beverages, etc., other than eating eggs for breakfast, has remained vegan. Basically, if I eat non-vegan I am usually out to eat, at a party, or at a friends house.

When I started a plant based diet, I did not do it for the sake of animal cruelty like many vegans out there, although I think it is wrong how animals are treated by the food industry; I did it for personal health and wellness. I felt better and the healthiest I have ever been on a plant based diet and I think that all people should eat in a way that makes them feel physically & mentally great. So, I planned on keeping my plant based diet throughout my pregnancy. Every test that I got done regarding vitamins, nutrition and overall health in the beginning of my pregnancy I passed with flying colors. I was not deficient in anything at all. It is possible to be pregnant and healthy eating vegan! So don’t let anyone tell you other wise! :) Why did I reintroduce some animal products back into my diet then? Simply because at the time I wanted to eat them. I was a pregnant girl and wanted eggs…or froyo…or eggplant parm. It’s not often or every day that I eat non-vegan, but it happens and that is ok.

Another thing I have realized in this pregnancy is that life is to be enjoyed, and part of that is with food. I completely believe in a plant based diet for so many reasons, but I also am not holding myself in any kind of bondage or going to feel bad if I eat something that is not plant based every now and then. I am a person of conviction and passion, and I believe in being committed to eating in a way that is healthy for yourself and the environment at large. That is why I will continue to eat a mostly plant based diet, as cleanly as possible, and as consciously as possible.

My dad came across a very interesting article in our local news paper entitled A New Beef with Meat, Eggs?, by Dr. David Katz and I wanted to share a part of it that fits perfectly with some of these thoughts:

“There are many ways to be an omnivore. In our culture, the most common kind of omnivore is a devotee of the typical American diet. The typical American diet isn’t just a mix of plant and animal foods, however; it’s a mix of real food and junk. A third to half the calories in the prevailing version of modern omnivorousness come from junk food.

In contrast, vegans tend to be among the most conscious and careful eaters today. Being vegan generally indicates a commitment to some blend of health and ethics, and both require thoughtful choices.

A balanced, prudent vegan diet isn’t just totally plant-based, it is substantially junk-free. A comparison between a group of omnivores and a group of vegans is likely to be a comparison between one group eating badly, and another eating well. That such differences would influence metabolism, intestinal flora and health outcomes is far from shocking.

…There are excellent arguments for veganism. Eating only plants, done well, figures among contenders for the most healthful diet, although it’s not the clear winner.” (you can read the entire article here)

What matters is caring for your body and the environment, of which we are stewards. Veganism or a plant based diet is just one way to go about that.

So, now you are up to speed on the status of my pregnancy & food thoughts. I will continue to be sharing amazing vegan recipes, and CAN NOT WAIT to share pictures and stories of our little man when he finally arrives.

Peace & love!

Escarole (Pronounced “Shkodole”, FYI) & Beans Inpsired Soup.

Let’s just start off with the very predictable comment on this weekends weather… oh. my. gosh. SNOW. More snow than I have ever cared to see at one time. But, I will say that seeing my busy city neighborhood completely quiet and shut down was pretty nice.

Thankfully we live on a main road that that lies perpendicular to two other main roads. Our friends Kiki & Cheech live on a one way on the street that is parallel and directly behind ours. That street does not get paved.  A bunch of our awesome friends cleared a path to their car, and through the street because Kiki is getting sort of close to the due date of their second kid; a boy. He and Jackson are gonna be buds.

Anyways, Saturday night  we were fortunate enough to be able to walk around the corner, and through that path they worked so hard to clear, and have quality time with some of our best friends! As Joe and I were making the familiar stroll down familiar streets, I couldn’t help but realize it was a completely different experience. No traffic. No noise. It was so still. Looking to the left down the long stretch of road that borders our street I could see two more people walking in the distance in the middle of the road. To the right there was a man walking along on his way. It made me wonder what life would be like if it was always like this. What if there weren’t so many cars that rushed by or crowded streets? What if we all had to walk every where we went? Was this what is was like back in the day? What would life be like? I liked the thought of it honestly. I guess it was just a really great change of pace in that moment.

Out of my head and back to reality we arrived safely and spent the evening communing, eating, and playing a game that is kind of like a cross between Catchphrase and Charades. It was amazing fun. We had so much fun that we went back Sunday morning to share breakfast, worship, and listen to a recorded sermon by our friend and lead pastor Justin Kendrick. It was City Church‘s first ever “Church on the Couch” since service was cancelled due to the weather. Nothing better than sharing a meal and having church in the living room with your closest friends. Pretty close to how the New Testament church did it! I must also add that one of my friends is gluten free, so for breakfast I made the best ever blueberry muffins  sans gluten by subbing oat flour for the wheat flour and they were a hit. Still completely amazing and the best ever vegan gluten free blueberry muffins.

Along with all of that was lots and lots and lots and LOTS of shoveling. I am happy to be pregnant, but am even more happy that I am pregnant because of the fact that I did not have to shovel. HA! Is that selfish? ;) Man my friends and husband worked their butts off. The hubs didn’t go into work today, and yet more work had to be done un-burying  my car and our friends Teresa’s car that were parked at the top of our driveway. I thought it would be the perfect day to make a comforting pot of hot soup. I could not help but think of one my cute Italian grandma and mom prepared, and still prepare, often as I was growing up: escarole and beans. Only 1. I’ve never made it before. 2. I didn’t have escarole. 3. If I had escarole I wouldn’t want to clean it. One day I will actually make escarole and beans, but today I made a soup inspired by the idea of greens and beans. :) (Is it just me or is it fun to say “shkodole”?! It just sounds better that way. If you don’t say it that way, you should.)

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c soy chorizo (You could use any of your favorite soy sausage, crumbled, or even crumbled tempeh if you prefer.)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 c veggie broth (I used low sodium.)
2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 c packed kale, chiffonade (rolled up and sliced thin) (You could use any green of choice really: spinach, swiss chard, a combo, etc.)
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp sea salt (If using a higher sodium broth you may want to start with 1/2 tsp and add more if needed.)
fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Heat a large pot on medium heat. Drizzle oil, add onions and pinch of salt.
Once the onions begin to brown and turn translucent add the chorizo. Sautée until browned, about 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic. Sautée for another minute then add salt, pepper & veggie broth.
Cover, turn up heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling remove lid, reduce heat to a simmer and add in the beans.
Let the beans cook for 3 minutes then add in the kale or greens of choice. Once they have wilted stir in the basil.
Turn off the heat, cover and let the flavors meld for 10-15 minuted before serving. Unless you are ravenous, then eat it right away. ;) Serve over quinoa, pastina, orzo, or some crusty bread.

Note: I used a spicy chorizo, but if you are not using a spicy protein you can add some crushed red pepper for a nice kick and added flavor.

Now I am going to enjoy the rest of this quiet rainy snow day with my hubby before it is somewhat back to the hustle and bustle tomorrow.

How are you all holding up after Nemo?? Any comfort food that’s been getting you through?