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Easy Dinner #2: maple bacon spinach salad with roasted veggies

28 Apr

Just finished eating this for dinner. Oh. My. Goodness…it was amazing!

It was one of those recipes that I just kind of “threw together” (Paula Deen, who?) and if I had known how delish this was, I would have taken more pictures..sorry! It’s a very sweet dish, but packed with veggies! Plus it has bacon…ANYTHING is good with bacon! Sorry I don’t have a better picture…but it is SOOOOO yummy, I promise.


Ingredients:
4 slices of bacon
2 large sweet potatoes – chopped
2-3 medium zucchinis- chopped
1 small red onion – sliced
1 bell pepper- chopped
1 bag of uncooked spinach leaves
2 small Macintosh apples
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Oregano
Red chili flakes

Dressing:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil

Let’s get cookin,…
1. Start by cooking the bacon to a reasonable crisp, remove from pan, and crumble. Drain half of the grease and leave the other half in the pan.
2. Place chopped up sweet potatoes in the pan and cover, stirring every so often.
3. After about 7 minutes place onion, peppers, zucchini, 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional), 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and a dash of red chili flakes. Stir and cover on med/ low heat until all veggies are soft and cooked down.
4. While the veggies are cooking, cut the apples into chunks, prepare the spinach onto plates, and whisk together all ingredients for the dressing.
5. Top spinach with apple chunks and crumbled baco.
6. When veggies are done, plate them right next to the salad.
7. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over everything.
8. Enjoy!

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Ten things they DON’T tell you about life after childbirth…

28 Apr

Just a warning: If you’re a dude, you do NOT. I repeat..YOU DO NOT want to read this. Your view of women will change forever.

There is so much misleading info about what “after having the baby” looks like. In movies, the women are perfectly sitting there with make-up on, hair gorgeously styled, and a perfectly clean baby sitting in their arms. Yeah. Right. That isn’t real life.

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When Justin and I were in our Bradley childbirth class, we definitely went over a “postpartum” chapter and our Bradley instructor did a great job. But there are just some things that you can’t be prepared for until it happens to you. I discovered in my postpartum days that there were several things I wish I had prepared for more. So I thought I would post this to try and help whoever might need it out there….it’s a bit graphic, so I apologize.

1. You will bleed for a while. A LOT. I’m not talking “heavy cycle” either. I’m talking “Where on this green earth is all this blood coming from?!”. Granted, if you have a c-section its a bit lighter, and it will get lighter every day as long as you are resting enough. But I swear in the hospital (those first 48 -72 hours), my bathroom looked like a scene from a horror movie. No joke.

2. You’ll be in maternity clothes for a while. Unless you’re one of those freaks who looks like they were never pregnant when they have a three- day- old baby in their arms (they exist, really.), be prepared to hang out in sweats and maternity clothes for a few weeks. I think I finally fit into my pre-maternity clothes after 2 months. bleh. And don’t waste your time investing in a belly-bandit or compression wrap. Mine was useless. Your body will do what it wants do.

3. You won’t be able to sit properly for a few days/weeks. Recovering from a vaginal delivery is a rough recovery… more so if you tear. Since I tore extensively, I may be a bit biased. But I was sitting on pillows for about 6 weeks. I even had one in the car.

4. Your lady parts will be messed up. Seriously. Just don’t look down there for about 8 weeks.That’s all you need to know.

5. You’ll be afraid to go #2. In the weeks following childbirth, poop is no laughing matter. Take LOTS of colace, water, and fiber…but the first few times will still be scary and you’ll be checking the toilet afterwards to make sure your uterus isn’t in there. Too far? Sorry ūüė¶

6. At some point, you will want to give up on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is hard. Even though it is natural and every woman is capable of doing it, it takes a few weeks to get the hang of it. DON’T GIVE UP!! It is the best thing on this earth that you can give your baby. See a lactation consultant as many times as it takes to get the hang of it. And don’t believe that crap that “some women weren’t made for breastfeeding” or “my boobs are too small/big” or “the baby just likes the bottle better”. lies, lies, lies. You can do it. And if you don’t want to breastfeed because you think it is awkward, hard, inconvenient, or because you don’t want your breasts to sag….then you’re selfish. I’m sorry, I’ll get off of my soap box now.

7. You might have some bitterness towards your baby. I truly believe that every mom goes through some level of postpartum depression. I remember sitting in the dark, rocking my newborn baby, crying, and thinking ‘this little baby has ruined my life!’. Irrational thought? You betcha. But it is normal to have a tough time adjusting to a new life with a baby. Its just really hard sometimes. Whats important is that you recognize your feelings and communicate them to your partner to get support.

8. You will be jealous of yor husband. Not just because he didn’t have to push the baby out, but because he gets to sleep while you’re up breastfeeding at 4am. He doesn’t have to go through crazy hormonal changes…..and bottom line: he just doesn’t have it as rough as you do. There are times when I’m sitting at home with Abbie (usually on a fussy/ rough day) and I find myself green with envy that Justin gets to work out with friends in the morning, go to work all day, come home for dinner, and then sleep through the night. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my daughter and I love being a stay-at-home mom. It is definitely where I’m called to be. But there are days where I fantasize about just leaving town for a couple of days, shopping my tail off at my favorite stores, and staying in a beach condo. Not that I’ve given that idea much thought or anything…

9. If you choose to get an epidural, you might not be able to feel parts of your body. I’m not a fan of drugs during childbirth (or any time for that matter) at all….but I understand that sometimes they are necessary. I’ll share Abbie’s birth story later this week but, long story short, I ended up in a hospital with an epidural 30ish hours into my labor. A week or so after the birth, I noticed that a certain spot on my upper thigh had no feeling! Talk about freaky. Four months later its still numb. I researched it online and there are hundreds of thousands of women with the same issue. All due to stupid drugs and stupid anesthesiologists hitting a nerve wrong in my spine. grrrr. So, yeah. Don’t get an epidural unless its medically necessary. It’s bad for your baby anyways.

10. Your diet may need to drastically change. Baby eczema, cradle cap, baby acne, spit up, gas….these are all things that society things are normal for a baby to experience. But in reality, they are a sign of imbalance and “gut issues” in the baby’s body. These issues, if not taken care of early on, can lead to disease, sickness, etc. This stuff is scientifically proven people. It’s not just some hippie view that I have. Anyways….a lot of those previously stated baby issues are caused by mom’s milk and the proteins in it. A popular one is dairy. But not many people know that things like wheat, corn, eggs, soy, and caffeine can greatly affect a baby and they just pass off the signs of a reaction as something that is “normal”. This is the whole reason I went on the elimination diet and, eventually, switched to eating paleo as I did more research on how these things affect our bodies.

So there you have it….lots of info that you should know before giving birth. Sure, not all women experience ALL of these symptoms (you lucky ducks…). You may only experience one. But if you plan on having more than one child, it is good info to keep tucked away so you are prepared for the future. Remember…in the end, it is worth it all. If it meant that Abbie was healthy and happy, I’d experience it all over again tenfold.

Paleo update

23 Apr

The Paleo plan is going well! I have lost another 5 pounds and I’m fitting into things that didn’t fit BEFORE I was pregnant! woo-hoo!
I definitely need to kick my working out into high gear though. Once you have a baby, things are never the same haha.

The only struggle I am having with Paleo right now is limitation. Since I’m still eliminating things for Abbie’s stomach issues (plus my own allergies)…I am running out of things to eat! Today, the doctor suggested I cut out eggs since I mentioned Abbie has rashes that look like eczema. There goes another source of protein ūüė¶ I already had to cut out nuts and beans (which aren’t Paleo anyways), so I’m left with straight up meat.
My favorite snack right now is a kale and garlic turkey wrap. I sauté garlic and kale in olive oil, add salt and pepper, and wrap it in a slice of turkey. Yum!

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Pale-oh!: My story

9 Apr

I’m pretty sure I started worrying about losing my baby weight as soon as I ganed 15 pounds around month 6. I was extremely careful and followed the Brewer Diet¬†until I was about 8 months pregnant (I had gained a healthy 20 lbs by that point) but then, I think I just stopped caring and started giving into my cravings.

(Side-note: cravings are pretty much an old wives tale. Just because you’re ¬†pregnant and want ice cream, that doesn’t mean “my body needs calcium”. I most likely means you want ice cream. lol. There is an interesting article here¬†about that. I’m definitely not giving into cravings during my next pregnancy. .. it’s what packed on all my weight in the end!)

Long story short, I gained 46 lbs! I wish I had ¬†better ‘before and after’ pics since I started out a little smaller and ended a little bigger at 42 weeks. But you get the idea…

Being pregnant and having a baby really helped put my health into perspective and I knew that I needed to do something to change my habits. I wanted to lose weight and be the most fit and healthy that I could be for my family. Which is where the ‘Paleo lifestyle’ comes in. I have a few friends who have been doing this Paleo diet/ lifestyle for a while… You can read about what that is here .

Before I was pregnant, I tried to go on it a couple of times, but always gave in to my love for sweets and breads. Once Abbie was born, I had to go on an elimination diet¬†because she had gas/ reflux. Before we put her on meds, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a specific food that I was eating since I breastfeed her…but in the process of eliminating basically everything and slowly adding things back, I found that certain foods caused me to react. I would “puff up” and feel very lethargic (even with portion control and trying small amounts). I realized that without those foods that puffed me up, I was basically eating Paleo! So I did some research, learned A LOT, and I have decided to join the Paleo bandwagon!

It ¬†has been 15 weeks and I have already lost 53 pounds! Needless to say, I’m a believer and I feel better than I have in a long time. I’ll be posting recipes and weight-loss info as I go along (I want to lose 30 more lbs). But I encourage you to do some research on Paleo and try it for yourself! Not just for weight-loss, but for a healthier life ūüôā

Delish and Nutrish: Kale chips

7 Apr

Is it just me, or is there a Kale craze going on? It seems to me that new ways to use kale are popping up all over Pinterest and recipe blogs everywhere. While I’m no recipe blogger, I¬†do¬†have a soft spot for yummy food. Ever since I have been trying to jump on the Paleo bandwagon (post about that soon to follow), I have been scouring the internet to find delicious and filling snacks that are both taste bud -friendly and Paleo-friendly. Which brings me back to kale.

Thanks to Pinterest, I am now obsessed with salt and vinegar kale chips! They are delish, nutrish, and all-natural ūüôā

Here’s what you will need:¬†kale greens (leaves), olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, gallon-sized ziploc bag

Here’s how I make them…

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 300. cut the kale leaves off (if they weren’t already pre-cut like mine. I cheated!) and place in a gallon-sized bag. Pour in olive oil and vinegar to taste. I used about 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp. vinegar). Close bag and shake it like a polaroid picture (sorry, I had to).

Step 2:¬†Once the kale is evenly covered ¬†in oil and vinegar, place an even layer onto a baking sheet. Cook for 15-20 minutes. The longer, the crunchier ūüôā Once they are out, sprinkle with salt and crunch away!

Before

After

I’m sorry that the ‘After’ picture looks so sparse. I may or may not have been so ravenous that I forgot to take a ‘fresh out of the oven’ picture ūüôā These “chips” are soooo good. The perfect combo of salty, bitter, and crunchy. And the plus side is that you don’t have to feel bad about devouring the whole pan by yourself!

Go try some for yourself!

Easy Dinner #1: Chunky Pot Roast

3 Apr

Dinner has been a challenge the last couple of months. Abbie loooves to be held all the time,  so for me to commit  20-40 minutes to making dinner is a bit of a struggle most evenings. It bums me out because I have always loved having dinner ready when Justin comes home (not just so I can feel like Betty Crocker, but I like to have a consistent schedule. I might have OCD).

All that said, I need to confess to you all: I am OBSESSED with my crock-pot…. OB.SESSED.

They are so handy- I just throw everything in (as long as I remember to plan ahead) , let it cook all day, and enjoy in the evening! Here is an easy pot roast recipe that I made yesterday and, oh man, was it delish!

Ingredients:

  • pot roast (I used a nicely marbled 2 pounder)
  • 5 potatoes cut into chunks
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 4 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 medium onion cut into chunks (I was out of onions so I used onion powder to taste. Still yummy!)
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic (to taste…we love garlic!)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth (unsalted, all-natural)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 5 dashes¬†Worcestershire¬†sauce (or as I say, “wer-sher-sher”)

Step-By-Step:

Chop up the veggies

season all sides of the meat

place meat in a hot pan to brown the sides

once all sides are browned, place at the bottom of the crockpot 

Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and seasonings. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.

Voila!

“So Happy Together”

30 Mar

Before Abbie was born, Justin and I had so many plans and expectations of what we were/ were not doing as parents. No pacifiers, No bottles, Sleeping in the crib, Set a schedule by 3 months, Vaccinating via our¬†Pediatrician’s recommendation,¬†¬†Cloth diapers, etc.

Boy, oh boy, has that list changed. I’ll eventually get to each and every one of those topics, but today I want to talk about co-sleeping because as I sit here and type away, Abbie is preciously asleep in my arms (multi-tasking mom for the win!).

I’m not even sure how our co-sleeping adventures began. I’m pretty sure that even when we left the hospital we were thinking Abbie would start out sleeping in her pack and play by our bed, and then eventually move to the crib. She has probably only slept in that pack and play a total of two times, lol.

I think it started out because Abbie would only fall asleep when being held as a newborn. Once we put her down she would wake up about 30 minutes later, I’d nurse, and the whole saga would start over again. But we found that if I nursed her to sleep and laid her next to me, she slept for a few hours at a time! Sleep, glorious sleep! I remember when she was just days old Justin, Abbie, and I would all sleep on the futon in our guest room because the mattress was so firm I wasn’t worried about rolling over onto her lol.

Now that she is three months old, we still co-sleep (although we are in our bedroom now in the King-sized bed) and I love it. She sleeps 6-9 hours every night! I know it is because she is at peace and knows we are near. Sometimes she will stir at night and stretch out like a starfish until one of her limbs touches me and feels that I’m there– could she melt my heart any more?!

I have done a lot of research through websites, books, blogs, etc and here is a list of some benefits of co-sleeping. I got most of the following from Dr. Sears (who I love for the most part. You should read his books. All of them.) :

  • Parents and baby sleep more peacefully–¬†Research shows that co-sleeping infants virtually never startle during sleep and rarely cry during the night, compared to solo sleepers who startle repeatedly throughout the night and spend 4 times the number of minutes crying¬†. Startling and crying releases adrenaline, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, interferes with restful sleep and leads to long-term sleep anxiety.
  • Stable Physiology–¬†Studies show that infants who sleep near to parents have more stable temperatures¬†, regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies who sleep alone.
  • Decreases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome-¬†Worldwide research shows that the SIDS rate is lowest (and even unheard of) in countries where co-sleeping is the norm, rather than the exception. Babies who sleep either in or next to their parents‚Äô bed have a fourfold decrease in the chance of SIDS¬†. Co-sleeping babies actually spend more time sleeping on their back or side which decreases the risk of SIDS. Further research shows that the carbon dioxide exhaled by a parent actually works to stimulate baby‚Äôs breathing.
  • Long term emotional health-¬†Co-sleeping babies grow up with a higher self-esteem, less anxiety, become independent sooner, are better behaved in school, and are more comfortable with affection. They also have less psychiatric problems.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a good link here¬†here¬†and here

Who wouldn’t love waking up to this? :

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