Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ari's Excited to be a Big Brother!

After multiple, ongoing requests from Ari over the past year "to make a new baby", Paul and I followed through on his wishes :-) .  I am now 11 weeks into my second pregnancy, with baby expected to come join our family on the outside in early May.  It feels good that Ari is 3 years old now and can understand what is going on and express his feelings about it.  For the most part, he tells us "I'm so happy" or "When the new baby comes out I'm going to...(share my toys with her, hug her, cuddle her, sing her Twinkle, Twinkle, look at books with her, carry her, etc)" . The only challenge so far has been adjusting to a more tired than normal Momma going through first trimester with so much of my extra energy going to building a tiny human being.  And knowing how perceptive he is, I'm sure he can sense the extra spirit already creating a space within our family.  So I can tell that although he is mostly happy and excited about the whole thing, there is a part of him struggling a bit with adjusting to the changes.  That combined with a new-found want for independence and doing things "his" way since turning 3, has made for some challenging moments over the past few weeks for sure!

Everything has been going really well so far, besides being really tired for a few hours every afternoon.  Although now that I think about it, the fatigue has slowly been getting better over the past week or so.  It seems my body has started adjusting to all the changes associated with being pregnant and remembering that it can build a baby and keep functioning at the same time.  Yay!  Eating and exercise have been my 2 biggest challenges of course.  I've been tired enough that even the thought of walking somewhere in the stroller instead of jumping in the car sounds hard.  Then every time I've gotten up the motivation to do it, for some reason Ari hasn't wanted to get in the stroller and walk anymore.  At least not in time to make it to wherever we want to go.  "Not yet.  5 more minutes" is is standard answer these days when I tell him it's time to get dressed and go somewhere.  And then of course "5 more minutes" and "5 more minutes".  Normally, this tactic wouldn't go over so well, but running on less than 50% of my normal energy, and I just haven't been able to find it in me to do anything but say "okay, fine, 5 more minutes".  Until I finally just tell him we have to leave now, but we're going in the car because there's not enough time to walk anymore. And then we leave the house in the rain without shoes and without a coat on because he refuses to wear them.  I figure once he gets cold enough he'll change his mind, right??  So that's about it for exercise right now.  I haven't been getting any.  Even the walking that I usually make sure to do at least several days a week.  Now that I'm starting to feel better, time to start walking again, going to prenatal yoga, and just getting my body strong and able to support me through the changes to come over the next 7 months.  

Then there's the food.  I had totally forgotten how weird food cravings and aversions are in those first weeks.    I binged on dark chocolate every night for a week before I even knew for sure I was pregnant.  Then about a week later, I could hardly even eat any because the caffeine would make me all jittery and funny feeling.  I've been following a Primal/Paleo diet for over a year now, choosing to eliminate all grains, legumes, processed sugar, and most dairy.  And feeling so incredibly good because of it!  More energy, a significant decrease in environmental allergy symptoms, no belly bloating, weight loss, and more.  Best of all, I felt incredibly nourished nutritionally, and the food I was eating tasted so good.  There was no feeling deprived or "missing out" at all.  Thinking about food I ate before like bread, pasta and beans just didn't even sound appealing.  Then pregnancy hit.  Vegetables and meat?  They just really didn't sound all that appealing anymore.  But bread and cheese?  Mmmmmm.  At first it wasn't too bad.  I even told Paul I would "do my best" to join him in a 30 day challenge and follow the guidelines as closely as possible.  Come to find out, "as closely as possible" turned out to be eating chocolate, cheese and bread on day 1 :-).  It's hard because I know how much better my body functions eating a clean diet.  But at the same time, I am full of gratitude that I have been able to continue eating without too much of a problem and no "morning sickness" at all.  I get a bit nauseous if I let myself get too hungry, and I can't stomach the smell or taste of any of our freezer full of grass fed ground beef.  But other than that, I've been doing pretty good with food.  I think it's mostly because of the diet I ate for a full year before becoming pregnant this time and that my body had been so nourished with good food.  So I'm trying not to beat myself up too bad for eating pizza, grilled ham and cheese with tomato soup, or a huge burrito wrapped up inside a flour tortilla.  Although it really sucks about 30 minutes later when I'm so bloated from the wheat and dairy that my belly looks like I'm 5 months pregnant instead of 3!  At least I haven't listened to the little voice inside my head that tells me it would be a good idea to go to a fast food restaurant for a crispy chicken sandwich when I see those pictures all over town :-) .  So funny because normally the thought of it would turn my stomach, whereas no I literally start salivating!  And it's the good meat and veggies that is turning my stomach.  Pregnancy, just can't even begin to understand the why's of it all.  Have to instead just sit back and trust my body and do my best to listen to the true cravings for what it wants and needs.  

Thanks for listening and I hope to continue sharing my journey through this pregnancy with chiropractic, parenting and eating!!  Maybe even a bit of exercise along the way too...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Macadamia Nut Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

As I mentioned in the last post, I've been playing around with macadamia nuts and coconut lately and the results have been really yummy!  Here are some cookies I made for a baby shower a couple of weeks ago for those of you who requested the recipe, and anyone else who might want to try them too :-).

Macadamia Nut Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 cups almond flour (from blanched almonds)
1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (or chocolate chips)

Mix together all dry ingredients in medium size bowl (except chocolate) and set aside.  In larger bowl, combine coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup and coconut nectar.  Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.  I like to mix mine with my kitchenaid stand mixer, but can do by hand of course as well.  Then stir in chocolate chunks or chips.

On lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, drop Tbsp sized balls and lightly flatten.  Bake for 9-12 minutes at 350, then cool and enjoy!

Fun with Macadamia Nuts and Coconut!

I've cooked a couple of things lately with both macadamia nuts and coconut that have been really yummy.  The first were cookies with chocolate chunks for a friends baby blessing a couple weeks ago.  Then tonight I made Macadamia Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa for dinner which turned out delicious!  Here is the Mahi Mahi and Salsa recipe...I'll post the cookies next :-)

Macadamia Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi 

2 lb Mahi Mahi filets
2 cups Macadamia Nuts
1 1/2 cups Shredded Coconut
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
3 egg whites, beaten until frothy with pinch of salt
3/4 cup Arrowroot Powder/Starch/Flour
Coconut Oil or Butter (to grease baking sheet)

Preheat oven to 425.  Rinse fish and pat dry.  Pulse macadamia nuts and coconut in food processor with ginger, salt and pepper until nuts are finely ground, about 30 seconds (be careful not to do too long as it will start to stick together and turn into macadamia nut butter!) .  Beat 3 egg whites in bowl with a pinch of salt until frothy.  In 3 separate, shallow pans place arrowroot powder, egg whites and macadamia/coconut mixture.  Dredge each piece of fish first with a light coating of arrowroot, then dip in egg whites, and next in nut mixture.  Lightly press nut mixture on to each piece of fish and set aside until all pieces are done.

Liberally grease a cookie sheet with butter or coconut oil and bake 15 - 20 minutes, turning over about 1/2 way through so both sides get brown and crispy.  (If you want to take the time and enjoy your food nice and crispy, you could alternately pan fry for a few minutes on each side until browned, then finish in oven for 8-10 minutes...I didn't do this tonight though as I made 4 pounds of fish!).  Serve hot topped with Mango Salsa.

Mango Salsa

2 Mangos, diced
Juice of one Lime
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2-4 Tbsp chopped cilantro (stems and leaves)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
Dash of cayenne (or 1/2 minced and seeded jalapeno or serrano chile)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In medium sized bowl, mix together red onion with lime juice, olive oil, honey and spices.  Add diced mango and chopped cilantro, stir together, then chill for 1 hour before serving.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Primal Zucchini "Noodle" Lasagna

Recipe number 4 of the day!  The chocolate chip cookies and lasagna were both made last night when we had friends over who requested the recipes.  So I figured if I was going to write them out and send them, might as well post on here where everyone else can see them too :-) .  Thanks to Wellness Mama for the original recipe that served as the inspiration for mine.  I am a subscriber to her weekly meal plans and have fun trying out several new dishes (at least) each week!

Primal Zucchini "Noodle" Lasagna

4-5 medium zucchini
1 pound ground meat or sausage (chicken Italian sausage or ground beef are both good!)
1 jar organic pasta sauce
1 jar diced italian tomatoes
2 cups almond pulp "ricotta" (recipe below)*
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (opt)
4 eggs, beaten
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice zucchini lengthwise using a mandolin to 3/8" thick.  Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.  Place zucchini slices on baking sheet leaving a space between each slice.  You will have to do 2-3 batches.  Spray or brush olive oil on zucchini slices and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and italian seasoning.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until brown on bottom and starting to cook through.  Repeat until all zucchini is cooked.  Reduce oven temp to 350.  Meanwhile, brown meat of choice in large skillet.  If not pre-seasoned sausage, add seasonings of choice (try 1/2 tsp each of garlic, onion, basil, oregano, salt, pepper).  Then add diced tomatoes to pan.  Cook for several minutes until liquid begins to evaporate.  Add jar of pasta sauce.  Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.  Mix almond pulp "ricotta" with eggs, 1/2 cup parmesan (is using dairy) and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp basil and pinch of nutmeg.

Assemble lasagna in layers in large (9x13) baking dish.  Start with a thin layer of meat sauce on bottom.  Top with layer of zucchini slices then layer of "cheese".  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Top with additional 1/2 cup parmesan cheese if desired.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Enjoy!

* Almond pulp is leftover from making almond milk.  For the amount in this recipe, I soak 2 1/2 cups raw almonds in water for about 3-4 hours, draining and rinsing several times until water runs clear.  "Pop" almonds from skin (should remove easily after soaking, but if not can pour boiling water over for 1-2 minutes to help loosen them), then place in high powered blender (Vitamix, etc) with 6 cups water.  Process for 1-2 minutes until you can't hear almond chunks anymore.  Pour into a nut milk bag, several layers of cheesecloth, or fine fabric kitchen towel and squeeze out all liquid.  To almond milk you can add vanilla and sweetener if desired and will keep in fridge up to a week.  The leftover pulp is what you use for the ricotta.  Add the juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 - 1 tsp salt, and 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Stir and add a bit of water if needed to desired consistency.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Best Primal Chocolate Chip Cookies

So apparently, it is my day for posting recipes.  One of these days I might get around to actually writing about life, but for now, recipes will have to do!  Have been enjoying cooking and playing around with making some of our traditional favorites but without grains, beans/legumes, refined sugars and pretty much any and all processed food.  Chocolate chip cookies have always been one of my very favorite baked treats, and after trying and modifying quite a few recipes have finally stopped searching.  For now at least...

This recipe was adapted from Elana's Pantry Gluten Free / Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Primal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan, Dairy Free & Gluten/Grain Free)

2 1/2 cups almond flour (from blanched almonds)*
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut nectar/sap
1 cup dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life, Sunspire 65%, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine almond flour, sea salt and baking soda in a large bowl.  Melt coconut oil and combine with vanilla, maple syrup and coconut nectar.  Stir wet ingredients into dry mixture.  Once well mixed, stir in chocolate chips.

Press Tablespoon sized balls onto parchment lined baking sheet (or lightly grease with coconut oil if parchment paper not available).  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, then cool and serve!

* I use Bob's Red Mill almond flour even though Elana says it does not work properly and prefers a couple other brands.  It is the only one available here locally and sells at our Tacoma Food Co-op for $4.99 / lb.  I have found that it works better if not bought in bulk as it has settled into the package and measures more correctly in most recipes.  But if I lightly pack it into measuring cups then most of the time it works out just fine!  Too little "flour" (or too much coconut oil) and the cookies will spread out and be crispy.  I actually make them on purpose this way sometime, but they're not quite as pretty.  Too much "flour" and they won't spread out at all and the insides will stay gooey unless you overcook them.

Fritatta with Bacon and Collard Greens

Breakfast round 2 at our house this morning was a fritatta with bacon and collard greens that turned out even better than I expected it would!  I will definitely be making it again so wanted to get the recipe written down here before I forget how I made it :-) .

Makes 3-4 servings

10 eggs (organic, free range, and pastured preferred)
2 Tbsp water
8 oz package natural bacon (no antibiotics and nitrite free), diced
1 bunch collard greens, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
Garlic Powder
Red chili flakes
Cheese, grated (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring pot of water to a boil and cook chopped collard greens for 10 minutes.  Pour into colander to drain. Chop bacon into bite sized pieces and saute over medium heat until browned in an oven safe skillet.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Remove additional bacon grease if needed to leave 1-2 Tbsp in pan.  Add sliced onion and minced garlic with a pinch of red chili flakes (more or less for spiciness as desired) and cook until onion is soft and lightly browned.  Return bacon to the pan and add drained collard greens.  Saute for 5-10 minutes until everything is well cooked together.  While collards are sauteing, mix eggs with water and spices as desired.  I think I used about a 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  Add egg mixture to greens in skillet and mix well to combine.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until mostly set (egg will still be wet on top).  Move to middle rack of oven and cook for 5 more minutes until all egg is cooked.  Top with grated cheese if desired and tolerated and broil for 2-4 minutes until top and/or cheese begins to brown. Let cool, cut into slices, and serve!

Coconut Flour Apple Waffles

2 1/2 year old Ari was asking for waffles this morning for breakfast, so I searched for a recipe using coconut flour.  Some we didn't have all the ingredients for while others I remember trying and them being super dry unless topped with tons of melted butter and maple syrup.  So we created our own recipe that turned out really well and I wanted to share!  They were very moist and the perfect sweetness - Ari ate more than 2 of them without any other toppings :-)  .

Makes 3 small waffles

2 eggs
1 Tbsp almond milk*
1 tsp coconut oil (melted and cooled)
1/4 c apple puree**
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

Whisk eggs together then add remaining wet ingredients.  Stir together dry ingredients and sift into wet mixture. Whisk well until batter is smooth.  Pour onto pre-heated and greased waffle iron and spread slightly if needed.  Cook until done, likely about 5 minutes.

* Made with a thick, home-made almond milk.  Could try subbing coconut milk or dairy milk too.

** I pureed an apple (with peel) in my food processor.  You could also probably use home made or store bought organic applesauce with good results.