Saturday, December 10, 2016

Packing My Hospital Bag

OK mamas....

I've been seeing a lot of lists lately about what to pack to take to the hospital. Some of the lists I'm seeing have about 30 items on them, but I'm going to try to keep mine to 10. I'm about to get real. Essential oil diffusers, flameless candles and fluffy pillows are sure to make you more comfy, however, if you're like me, you may not want to pack a whole suitcase just for a couple days. Here's my list. Simple, no fluff, JUST necessities. I hope this helps, especially if you're a first time mom and you don't really know what to expect.

1. Birth plan, camera, phone, charger and headphones- Essentials for obvious reasons. I highly recommend having a birth plan to give to your nurses and practitioners. The headphones/music helped me to block out things that were going on around me and just focus on laboring and breathing. Having an awesome music playlist was really important to me during labor too. You will want to take a ton of pics of your babe and maybe do some texting and googling while the baby snoozes. I brought my good camera and had my doula video part of the birth. 

2. Birthing Ball- Many people would argue that this is essential but having mine helped me so much when I was laboring with Rio. During labor, I didn't lay down in the bed until I was forced to. Instead I was on my ball, doing lunges, showering, and doing cat/cow pose on the bed to breathe through the pain. Sidenote: I didn't bring the ball into the hospital as we were checking in,  I had my husband bring  into the hospital after I was checked in and he parked the car.

3. Essential Oils- My doula used these on me during labor. Smells really affect me and I'm all about aromatherapy. It helped me to smell peppermint, lemon and orange right from the bottle. I also brought a rollerball of my favorite Young Living blend, Stress Away, to sniff as needed.  I didn't think it was necessary to bring my diffuser. If you have questions about ordering or using EO's during labor, contact me.

4. Cozy Pajamas, Nursing Tank,  Robe and Socks- I loved having my favorite jammies and comfy socks. I also brought a cozy robe, which was nice to have but maybe not necessary for some. I wore a nursing tank under my PJ's/ robe.

5. Snacks-The hospital food didn't really work for me. I will be bringing nuts, fruit and maybe even some lactation muffins (recipe coming soon!). I'm also bringing several of my favorite dark chocolate bars as gifts for the nurses and my midwife and doula because they are so amazing. 

6. Flip Flops to wear in the shower- I'm weird about walking on strange floors with bare feet.

7. Toiletries-I'm bringing my own shampoo, body wash (which I will also use as handsoap) and my makeup bag. Also my contact case, solution and glasses.  

8. Outfits for mama and baby for leaving the hospital- I wore a comfy long dress and my nursing tank under it for the ride home. Super simple and cute enough for a photo. Also, don't forget to bring granny panties- you will be wearing a huge maxi pad for awhile after you give birth so you need some cozy undies. I bought comfy cotton ones a few sizes bigger than I normally wear. You will be wearing them for awhile after you give birth, so buy plenty. As for baby, a cute hat and a cozy, one piece outfit will do. Since I don't know my baby's gender I'm bringing a boy and a girl outfit.

9. Cooler for Placenta-If you are planning on having your placenta encapsulated, you don't want to forget a cooler. If you want more info about this, contact me.

10. Extra bag for things the hospital gives you- I honestly had no idea that tucks pads and a special squirt bottle would be my most used items for weeks after giving birth. The hospital gave me tucks pads, maxi pads, diapers, wipes and even bed pads to take home. I am bringing and extra bag for all these goodies to take home from the hospital.  

Hope this list helps, mamas! xoxo
Also, don't forget to take some fun maternity photos before the baby's debut! Here are ours...

Friday, November 4, 2016

How I Prepared My Mind for Natural Childbirth

I knew I wanted to labor and deliver my baby naturally (unmedicated), so it was extremely important to me to be as mentally and emotionally prepared as possible. I wanted to learn about the birthing process as well as appropriate breathing and mind calming techniques. Throughout my pregnancies, yoga has been a huge benefit to me in this way (I spoke about prenatal yoga in my last blog post). I also read quite a few books and took a class to learn about and prepare for giving birth. I tried to journal once a week and I meditated as often as I could. (Finding time to meditate has been harder this pregnancy with a toddler, but even 5-10 minutes here and there is beneficial). I didn't have too many personal resources to guide me so I hired an amazing doula. She taught me so much and I'm forever grateful. Hiring her was one of the best decisions my husband and I made during my pregnancy with Rio and I will use her again during this birth. I took a class with my husband at Pregnancy Sanctuary in Encinitas called Birthing from Within. Even if you don't take the class, check out the book if you get a chance.

When I was pregnant with Rio, my favorite books were The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Journey Into Motherhood.  The Thinking Woman's guide was super informative and I would recommend to any mom, whether it's your first baby or you're a veteran mama. 
Journey Into Motherhood is a collection of inspirational natural birth stories as well as affirmations, secrets and techniques for easing birth. I loved the format of this book because I could read one short story a night before bed and I always went to be with positive thoughts!

Another motivational read is The Daily Soul Sessions for the Pregnant Mama. This book is just a page a day throughout your pregnancy, so anyone has time for it. A fun and inspiring read that helps you through your pregnancy. 
Hypnobirthing is an amazing book for anyone who is striving for a natural birth. I didn't take a hypnobirthing class, but reading the book and listening to the affirmations helped me 
so much!
Right now I'm reading Ina May's Guide To Childbirth. Very interesting and a great resource. 
Lastly, my husband read this during my first pregnancy and he recommends it to all first time dads. 

Hope this list helps! You got this mamas!! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Exercises To Help Prepare For Natural Childbirth

I can't believe I'm entering my third trimester already! This pregnancy is flying by. Getting anxious to find out the gender too, it will be such an amazing surprise! (Any guesses??!!)

If you've been following me for awhile you know may know that I had a natural, unmedicated birth with Rio and I plan to do the same with my second baby. Aside from mental preparation (that's another post!) I've been physically preparing by going to prenatal yoga twice a week and walking everyday. I've started doing some additional daily exercises and stretches to help me prepare. Hope this helps some of you! 

Walking: I always feel so much better when I walk at least 30 minutes a day. It's so important during pregnancy to just keep moving in order to keep everything aligned and in balance. Daily cardio will help prepare you for the craziest workout of your life...labor!

Prenatal Yoga: I  have been going to prenatal yoga classes twice a week for the last couple months, and I stretch on my own at home daily. Yoga is a great way to prepare both physically and mentally for childbirth. I've had some really great teachers who do specific breathing exercises and stretches that help prepare you for what labor brings. I really utilized the breath techniques when I was in labor with Rio. I encourage you to try a few different classes and instructors to find the right fit for you! I've listed some of my favorite poses too just in case going to a class isn't available to you. If you're in the San Diego area, the classes at Cap Wellness Center and Soul of Yoga are my favorites.

Swimming: is a particularly good exercise during pregnancy because the water helps to support your extra weight. This can be a huge relief for body aches and sore muscles, especially in the third trimester. I like to put my feet and hands on the wall and do some side lunges and squats in the water too.

Cat Cow Pose/Pelvic TiltsThis pose helps with back pain. It can also help to shift the weight of the baby away from the spine, giving you some much needed relief. It's also a good way to safely tone your abdominal muscles. I  actually did pelvic tilts a lot during labor to try to get the baby into a safe position for delivery. This pose is also said to boost mood, increase energy, and can support breast milk production.

Exercise Ball SitsAfter 30 weeks, it's important to try to keep the pelvis aligned and baby in optimal position. Sitting on an exercise ball is supposed to help with this. Try to sit on the ball as much as you can instead of reclining in big couches or chairs. If you work on a computer, use a ball t instead of an office chair. Ball sitting doesn't sound like exercise, but it's actually a great way to help prepare your body for birth! 

Sitting Side Stretch and Side Angle Pose: These poses have really helped to relieve stiffness in my shoulders and back. Side stretches help to open the groins and hamstrings and strengthen the legs, knees and ankles. These postures are said to be therapeutic for constipation, infertility, and sciatica as well.   

Deep Squats/Frog Pose: Squats are great for building leg strength, which you need a lot of during labor and pushing.  Because squatting opens your pelvis and strengthens the muscles you need for delivery, this exercise is one I do everyday. Doing squats regularly is said to help lengthen the pelvic floor. Squats are said to be more beneficial in preparing for natural childbirth than kegels because they open the pelvic floor instead of tightening it. We don't want those muscles to contract during the birthing process, we want them to relax and be open!                                

Plank: Only do these if you don't have to strain. Planks strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.  
If you have any questions or want to talk about my birthing experience and how I prepared for Rio send me an email or message! As with any exercise or movement during pregnancy, never do anything that causes pain or major discomfort. Every woman's body is different and there are no "one size fits all" stretches or exercises. Be mindful and listen to your body. Also, I'm wearing a Bao Bei belly bra in turquoise in which really helps with belly support when working out!  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kind is Cool

If you've been following me for awhile you know that in my pre-mom life I was an elementary school teacher. I taught for twelve years and five of those years I worked with students who had severe behavior issues. I learned a lot about how to deal with kids in tough situations. How and when to address specific behaviors, and how to give appropriate and meaningful consequences for their behaviors. I feel blessed to have learned a lot about human behavior before I became a mom. I know the majority of parents have the best intentions when it comes to our kids. We want them to be good, kind human beings. Kids need to learn how important it is to treat others with kindness. I think it's the most crucial part of being a parent-teaching kindness, empathy and respect.  We have to be in their
ear constantly and maybe even be a little naggy about it. 

There are lots of techniques for dealing with specific behaviors. Ignoring behaviors can sometimes be helpful. Like if your kid is being harmless but annoying or whiny, it can sometimes be best to ignore or dismiss the behavior. But mamas, if our kids are being rude, dismissive or bullying, we can never ignore those behaviors. We have to address it immediately and always. And we may not always know it's happening, so it's super important to be aware and present around your little ones at all times. Between ages 2-5, kids are discovering who they are, learning to recognize other people's feelings, and starting to understand what behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate. It's crucial that we really start to talk about other people's feelings at this age, because kids naturally are very concerned about their own feelings and what's happening in their little worlds. We have to teach them young that everyone else has feelings too, and it's not just their feelings that matter. 

The past couple days we've encountered some bully-ish behavior at the park. Two different instances, both where the  boys were definitely twice Rio's size and age. My friend's boy, who is the same age as Rio, started playing with a little boy's scooter and the boy hit him. Twice. Then used the scooter to push him away. The two year old wasn't physically hurt, but it definitely hurt his heart. I think the boy's parents were in a different part of the park watching another child play soccer. They were nowhere to be found. The boy's behavior was totally unnecessary, he easily could have just taken the scooter away from the 2 year old if he didn't want to share. He was much bigger and stronger, there was no need to hit or push. My friend handled it well, she told the boy not to hit her son, and he ran away. She also told her son that we can't take other people's things, but that boy shouldn't have hit him. 

little while later two other boys, about would say 4 or 5 years old, had a toy car that they were taunting our 2 year olds with. They would throw the car toward our boys so that one of our little guys would pick it up, then they would take it away and in a really mean voice say, "you can't have our car and you can't play with us." This happened several times. Both moms had other little ones and didn't see what was going on. One mom did come over eventually, maybe because she heard me asking her son to please be kind to our little boys. She tried to make things right, corrected her son and was very nice. The other mom just kind of stood there and didn't say a word. 

A few days ago at the park, there were some big kids, maybe 6 years old, were riding their scooters around a walkway where several babies and toddlers were sitting and playing. It was pretty dangerous, not a safe place to be riding scooters full speed. It was as if they didn't even notice the younger kids, no regard for them whatsoever. The moms of the toddlers had to react and move their kids out of the way so they wouldn't get run over. At no point did the moms intervene and it was so shocking to me. I asked the boys a couple times to  please slow down, and even then their moms didn't redirect them. 

These stories may just sound like normal kid stuff, but they are bothersome to me. This post is not meant to sound like mom shaming. I really do think we are all trying our best. I just think we all need reminders that our kids need to be shown how to recognize and acknowledge the feelings of others. We get so caught up in life-work, school, sports, etc., but are we focusing enough on the really important stuff? Will our kids make good choices? Will they sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria?

I think it helps to start really early on talking to them about kindness and caring about others feelings. Rio just turned 2 and I feel like I've been talking about being kind and nice to others every chance I get. Recently Rio noticed a boy hitting another one at the park he said, "we don't hit people, make people happy."  I was so surprised when he said that. He really understands all the things I've been trying to teach him!  I don't ever want him to be a jerk and if I ever witness it, you better believe I won't let it slide. And if you ever see it and I don't, please tell me!! We need to all work together as mamas. Expect your child to show respect. To you and to others. The easy thing to do is ignore behaviors, but that doesn't help. Teach polite words early and correct your kids politely.  Use words like please and thank you and teach them to call people by name.  Kids pick up on everything we say to them. Even when they are babies. They hear you, they watch you. The littlest things you do and say matter. So let's work together for the greater good as parents. Love each other. Let's teach our kids to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Toddler Weaning

There are probably tons of blog posts and articles about weaning a toddler from breastfeeding but I haven't read any of them. I probably should have, but I just followed my gut and heart. I hope this helps some of you who are worried about weaning as I was.  I decided that I wanted to try to wean Rio as naturally and painlessly as possible, so the whole process took about 4-5 weeks total. I wasn't in a hurry, so I just took it slowly. When Rio was 22 months, I was nursing morning, nap and night. At this point, I was about 4 months pregnant and my boobs began to ache when I breastfed. This was when I decided it was time to start weaning. First I cut out the morning session. This was the easiest one to eliminate. My husband played a huge role in helping with this. He woke up with Rio and I didn't see him at all until after he had his smoothie. The first few days Rio cried for milk and mama, but only for a few minutes. Daddy gave him a smoothie right away (I made them the night before so they were ready to go). Then I would wake up and make breakfast while he was drinking his smoothie.  He did pretty well with this, and after a week I could wake up with him without him wanting milk. He did continue to ask for milk in the mornings occasionally, but he didn't get too upset about it after the first couple days. We explained that we don't have "milkies" in the mornings anymore,  just smoothies. Anytime he asked for milk during the day, I would laugh and say no milk during the day, silly." I would often give him some fruit or some nuts in case he was hungry. Sometimes he would laugh and put his face by my boob and say "no milk silly!" Then we would both giggle. It kind of turned into a little joke for him, but he understood there was no milk except for nap and bedtime.  Eventually he stopped asking for it. 
A couple weeks went by and we were only nursing at nap and bed time. Then we left for vacation, so we were sleeping in a new place. He did not want to sleep in his crib during nap time, so the first day we were there I told him he could sleep in the big bed with me. I kind of took this as an opportunity to stop nursing at nap time. I told him we could snuggle, but no milk at nap time because we were in the big boy bed. When he asked for milk, I told him he could have milk and sleep in his crib or sleep with me and no milk. He chose to sleep with me. After this discussion and a little whining, the first day went surprisingly well. I got him a new water bottle he could drink out of before nap time, so when he asked for milk, I told him he could have his water instead. After some water and about 10-15 minutes of discussions and songs, he laid his head on my shoulder and went to sleep. 
Day two came around and he wanted milk again at nap time. I told him the same thing as the day before. If he wanted me to lay with him, I reminded him that we didn't have milk at naptime, only at nighttime (he understands the difference between naptime and bedtime.) I felt badly because he cried for a few minutes for milk, but he quickly got over it, drank a few sips from his water bottle and after I sang him a few songs he snuggled up to me and went to sleep. After that day, before naps he would say, "no milk, only at night, when moon and stars out". He understood. So even though I was taking naps with him, I still felt accomplished because he was able to fall asleep without nursing. He stopped asking for it after a few days, but talked about "milk only at night time" a lot.  Sidenote: I've continued take naps with Rio since returning from our trip. I've been pretty tired this pregnancy and I love taking naps with him! It forces me to relax, and if I wasn't napping with him I would do other things (laundry, clean, etc.). Plus I know when the new baby comes I won't have much of downtime, so I'm taking advantage of every moment of rest and snuggle time with Rio. I feel so lucky to not have to work so that I can rest-I forgot how exhausting growing a human is! And now I have a toddler to chase after so that makes it even more tiring. Kudos to you working mamas!! Ok, back on topic...
 A couple more weeks passed and we were still nursing at bedtime, but only for a few minutes so I knew it was more for comfort versus actually drinking milk. At this point, I no longer offered milk, but he asked for it and I didn't want to tell him no since we had been discussing how we have milk at night time. We did start talking about how we need to start saving the milk for the baby (he's really into talking about the baby and my boobs were really starting to hurt at this point).  One night about 4 days after we got home from our trip (exactly one month before his 2nd birthday!), we did our regular bed time routine but instead of him asking for milk, he just said "snuggle mama, sing bird song" so I sang his song (he loves Three Little Birds by Bob Marley) and told him to close his eyes and go to sleep. Then he laid his head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I was shocked. That was it!! Now it's been 5 days and he's gone to bed every night no problem. No nursing at all for 5 days!  There have been a few times randomly during the day where he asks for milk but I just remind him that milk is all gone. He has seen a couple of my friends nursing their babes and he points to my boobs and says, "mama milk all gone". 
The whole process has been way easier than I thought. I was so nervous about it, but at this age, he really understands a lot and I truly think your body and your baby know when the time is right. Listen to that motherly instinct! I think the fact that I did it slowly really helped. I was also afraid that he wouldn't want to snuggle anymore when we stopped nursing but that's not the case at all! He's super cuddly, especially before bed and when he wakes. 
The day we came home from the hospital, when nursing is nonstop! 
I wanted to write about my experience because I was so worried about how I was going to end it, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be!! I hope this encourages any of you who are in the same position. I feel so grateful that I was able to nurse him for 23 months and that I will have a little break before baby 2 arrives. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Reach out if you have any other questions or comments. Here are some of my favorite photos of this awesome time in my life. If you are a first time pregger or a new mom, make sure to take some photos if you are nursing. You will cherish them!  

Sleeping by the pool at Rancho Valencia.
On vacation in Nevis when Rio was 11 months.
Milk break, Rio at 13 months.

That breastmilk chub! 3 months.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Getting Real...

It has taken me a couple months to finish this post. I want to inform without sounding like I think I have all the answers. I have put off posting this out of fear. I was worried about what my readers would think if I got too real. So please just know that I'm writing this particular post for one reason. To share my experience. I've had lots of different mamas ask me tons of different questions, so I'm going to try to answer a lot of them in this one blog post.  I'm not writing this to say that my ways are better than yours or that you should do what I'm doing.  I am not claiming that my way is the only way or that I know more than anyone else. I truly hope no one sees this post in that way. I'm writing to answer questions and to share. The way I eat and the way I feed my son works for us. I look at food as medicine, but I also really enjoy eating. So does Rio. I'm not an expert in the field of nutrition. I have no formal background or education on the topic. I'm simply telling you about how I feed myself and my baby.  I do think that as a society, in general, we eat poorly. I want others to know that eating healthy can be really easy. And super beneficial to your health, attitude, and well being. At least it has been for me and Rio.
Follow Rio and I on Snapchat @preggerspantry for more recipe ideas. 

Rio is 21 months old. He hasn't been sick. No ear infections, no coughs, no antibiotics.  He has never had any skin irritations or diaper rash. He takes a 1.5 hour nap everyday and sleeps 11-12 hours at night. He's been on over 10 flights and has traveled out of the country. He goes to at least 3 classes or playdates a week where he is around lots of other babies and toddlers. We play at the park and library often and I rarely wipe down the grocery cart or wash his hands after he's played outside or with other kids. I don't give him the flu shot. He is on an alternative vaccination schedule, but has received most of his immunizations. I also haven't been sick since in years (since before my pregnancy with Rio). I taught elementary school for years (hello, germs!) and I didn't receive any vaccinations during pregnancy.  I had gave birth to Rio vaginally and naturally (without medication). I feel lucky and grateful everyday for our health. However, I believe that the foods I feed myself and Rio, along with extended breastfeeding, have made a huge impact on our immune systems and overall wellness. 

I've heard so many parents say that their kids won't eat healthy foods or vegetables. Why is this is such a prominent issue? I have a few ideas. (Again, these are merely my opinions, please don't be mad at me if you disagree.) It's pretty safe to say that we as a society, in general, don't eat enough healthy foods. People go days and weeks without eating vegetables or "real" food. By real food, I mean just that. Unprocessed foods, not from a box or fast food restaurant. Unhealthy food is cheap and accessible. It's everywhere. Kids are given so many choices in and out of their homes. It must be extremely difficult to get them to eat healthy once they've gone to the darkside (haha, ok I know that's dramatic, but you get my point.)  I remember in college when I lived on bagels, pizza and beer. I was lethargic, heavier than I've ever been and my skin was horrible. It's no coincidence. All of those foods are filled with sugar. Sugar is the culprit-it's addictive and it's everywhere-even hiding  in tons of "healthy" foods in our grocery stores. Just like any other addictive substance, sugar feeds a part of the brain that makes you want more. If kids are given sugar, it will take time for their tastebuds to develop a taste for healthy foods. Kids will eat what you eat as a family and what you train them to's never too late to make a change. I also read somewhere that it can take up to 30 times eating something to develop a taste for it. This is especially true with healthy foods that a person is not used to eating.  When you get the hang of eating healthy, it's pretty easy.  Rio sees that I eat the same foods he is eating-it's so important to model good habits!! Almond butter and fruit begin to taste like candy if you don't eat processed sugar for awhile (I'm serious!). And the processed stuff really starts to taste like garbage and makes you not feel well if your body isn't used to it. Before you know it, you don't crave that stuff anymore. You start to crave real food.  I also think (again, my opinion) that babies are given processed foods at too young an age. Why do doctors tell us to start with cereal? Why is cow's milk recommended immediately after breastfeeding? Why do we think it's ok to introduce them to sugar laden cake at 12 months when most babies have never even touched sugar up to that point?  I don't know the answers to these questions, but my mind is blown that these things are the norm. None of these cultural norms felt right to me, so I didn't give Rio cereal, won't give him cow's milk, and didn't give him a traditional cake on his first birthday. I did make him an amazing smash cake with bananas, blueberries, oat flour, and coconut milk that he LOVED! You can find the recipe here
Rio's diet mainly consists of fresh vegetables, fruit, beans, and healthy fats like avocado, eggs and nuts. He eats salmon if it's wild caught. He also eats ghee and grass fed butter sometimes, but no other animal products or dairy. Rio eats a mostly gluten free diet, with the exception of healthy whole  grain bread for avocado toast. I started giving him this bread occasionally, but not until recently because I've read that babies bellies can't really digest grains really well until they are older. 

My mom, my happy boy Rio, my dog Mayzie and me. 
If babies are given vegetables from the beginning, on a daily basis, included in every meal,  isn't that what they will develop a taste for? I don't know for sure, but in my case the answer to that question is YES. The human body is resilient and amazing and will adapt to what it is fed. It can also adapt to the sugar/high fat/unhealthy foods that make us sick. Let's not do that to our sweet, perfect babies. I don't want my baby to be overweight and feel sick and have pain.  I don't want to be that way either and that is why I have chosen to eat the way I do; a diet high in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and proteins. I learned years ago that when I refrain from eating certain foods (dairy, sugar, gluten) I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have more energy. Do I have cheat days? No, because I don't have to. Do I have cheat moments? I guess you could call it that, but I don't look at it as cheating because I don't feel badly about it. I make good choices even when it's not the best type of food. For example, I eat pizza occasionally (I love veggie pizza!) and I eat chocolate on the daily (dark chocolate only-milk chocolate doesn't taste good to me). I drink wine sometimes (red is good for the heart!).  It used to be harder to eat healthy all the time, but my body has become accustomed to healthy foods and it has stopped craving certain things. I eat dessert if my body craves it. But things like processed gummy candies or Oreo cookies? Never. I used to love Oreos as a kid and I had one a couple years ago and it just tasted so fake and gross to me. I couldn't even finish it. Rio is 21 months and hasn't had a cheat day either. Or a cheat moment. He enjoys snacking on macadamia nuts, raw bell peppers cucumbers, and fresh fruit. No need for sugar or processed food. He drinks a green smoothie every day with homemade almond milk and carrot juice. He's taller than most babies his age. He is in only in the 30th percentile for weight compared to all other babies his age,  but I think that's because a lot of toddlers are overweight because of the foods they eat.  Rio is progressing at or above babies his age in motor, social and language development. He enjoys eating and I've never had to bribe him to eat healthy foods. He loves them. They're all he knows. I know Rio won't always eat this clean. I know someday I won't be able to control what he eats, so I'm trying to develop healthy habits and tastes while I can. 
My little family.

So what's the trick to getting kids to eat healthy? There isn't one. I think it's just about exposing them to the right things from the beginning. I exclusively breastfed for 7 months. Around 7 months I introduced Rio to mashed avocado, then sweet potato. I started a modified version of baby led weaning and gave him chunks of steamed broccoli, squash, carrots, and beets to gnaw on. Whatever veggies we were eating, Rio tried. For the first two months, he only ate avocado and vegetables. At that point, with the veggies I began to give him fruit, coconut, and proteins like beans, lentils and salmon. Around 10 months he started eating nut milks, nut butters, and eggs and healthy fats like coconut, avocado, grapeseed, and olive oil. At 11-12 months we moved to grains like gluten free oats and quinoa, and basmati rice and seeds like hemp, flax and chia seeds.  Rio loves food and is never afraid to try what is put in front of him. He likes things I hated as a kid; lima beans, asparagus, onions, etc. I try to share recipes that aren't overwhelming  and have minimal ingredients. Clean, simple and healthy but also tasty.

A few tips to make eating healthy easier:

*Make green smoothies. This is such an easy way to add leafy greens to your diet and they are delicious! I am going to a whole post about green smoothies soon! In the meantime check my Instagram page for some fun recipes.
* I make my own nut milk and nut butter weekly. It's easy to make and healthier than buying. There are some recipes on Instagram for these as well.
*Meal plan. I always go to the grocery store on Sundays and have a rough plan for what I'm making for that week. I truly feel that having a plan makes everything so much easier. 
*Keep it simple. Make the majority of what you eat fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins and fats, and healthy grains. Eat real food as close to it's natural form as possible. 

I would love your feedback on this post. Is this helpful? Unrealistic? Does sharing this help or give you ideas? What did you do similarly or differently with your babies?

PS-Rio is going to be a big brother! Baby #2 due December 2016!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Plant-Based Routines and Meal Ideas

I recently wrote a blog about my grocery store lists and  foods I always have in my kitchen. Today's post is going to give you a few ideas of things you can make with those items. This blog will focus on our daily routines and plant-based, dairy-free meal ideas. Developing routines and food prepping in advance have cut in half the amount of time I spend preparing meals. Here are some routines we have implemented into our daily lives. Sidenote: If you haven't already, invest in a high powered blender. I recommend the Blendec or Vitamix. I love my Blendtec and use it everyday. 

Routine #1: Lemon Water
I try to start every day with 8 ounces of room temperature or warm water with juice from 1/2 a lemon.

Routine # 2: Green Smoothies
We have a green smoothie every day before breakfast.  It took awhile for this to become a habit, but when I got pregnant I drank one every single day, and have ever since. You can get so many nutrients from a smoothie and it's just a great way to start your day. If you don't have time to make fresh smoothies daily, you can freeze them in glass jars so that you can just grab them on your way out the door in the morning. I switch up our smoothies a lot, adding different nut milks (cashew, almond, coconut), greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens), veggies (cucumber, celery, beets),  fruits (avocado, mango, oranges, apples, berries, pineapple), nuts (walnuts, cashews, pecans), and seeds (flax, chia and hemp).  Our typical smoothie contains homemade almond milk, homemade carrot juice, greens (the main ingredient), chia, hemp or flax seeds, homemade nut butter, banana, and frozen berries. Here are some quick easy recipes for some of our favorite smoothie ingredients. 
*Almond Milk: I make this a few times a week. Soak 1 cup almonds for 24 hours. Rinse and blend soaked almonds in 4 cups filtered water. Strain with nut milk bag if desired. Straining isn't necessary if you're just using the almond milk for smoothies. 
*Carrot Juice: 5-6 carrots, roughly chopped, 2-3 cups filtered water, juice from 1 lemon, 1 inch fresh ginger. Blend.
*Nut Butter-Brazil nut is Rio's favorite. We also love almond, cashew, walnut and macadamia nut butters. They are so easy to make too, just pulse in a high powered blender or food processor. I often add coconut oil, dates, shredded coconut, and/or cinnamon to my nut butters. Nuts are such a huge source of healthy fats and nutrients for our family. Delicious in smoothies, with fruit or by the spoonful. 

Routine #3: Breakfast
After our green smoothies we eat a healthy breakfast. Our favorite breakfast includes eggs, avocado toast and fermented veggies. We also love a good veggie omelette, oatmeal, or spinach pancakes for breakfast.  Here are some of our favorite easy breakfast recipes:
*Power Oatmeal: On the stovetop cook oats of your choice. With a few minutes left to cook, add healthy fat (coconut oil or grass-fed butter), berries of your choice, nuts or nut butter of your choice, and chia, flax or hemp seeds. Add a few sprinkles of cinnamon and raw honey or maple syrup if desired. 
*Spinach Pancakes: (Rio's favorite!) Beat 2 eggs. Mix in 1 ripe banana (smashed) and  1
handful chopped spinach. Add ground flax and cinnamon if desired. Whisk, and fry in coconut oil.

Routine #4: Lunch
Lunch often depends on what we ate for breakfast.  If we eat oatmeal, we often eat eggs and avocado for lunch. Some days I just steam some broccoli and throw it together with black beans and rice that have already been made. This is super yummy topped with avocado and/or nutritional yeast. One of our favorite lunches is roasted sweet potato with quinoa and avocado. a really easy meal, especially if the quinoa and sweet potato are prepared in advance. Drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper. Yummy and healthy. We also really enjoy salad for lunch with avocado, fermented veggies, bell peppers and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or vinegar and nutritional yeast.  Black bean pasta with ghee, tomato sauce and vegan parmesan is super easy too. Some days I just saute frozen lima beans with quinoa and spinach.  

Routine #5: Snacks
We love homemade hummus with raw veggies (especially bell peppers and cucumbers). Apples and and nut butter are another favorite. We also really like frozen berries and nuts like raw pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds. Gogi berries, sugar snap peas, hard boiled eggs, dried seaweed and coconut chips are all fun snacks too. Rio and I each eat an apple everyday and he also loves bananas, mango, strawberries, oranges, and kiwi. Sometimes for a snack I make an acai smoothie with an organic, plant-based protein powder, almond milk, beets, pineapple, banana, frozen coconut, dates and a handful of greens. All these snacks are healthy and satisfying.

Routine #6: Dinner
I meal prep for the week by chopping and roasting veggies, making a pot of beans or lentils and a pot of rice and quinoa. These foods are healthy and can easily be used in numerous dishes.  I try to switch up the vegetables, beans, legumes and grains we eat weekly. Versatile veggies that are on my weekly list are cauliflower, carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, sweet potatoes and onion. We also eat a lot of spaghetti squash and butternut squash.  I love roasting veggies like cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes and having them on hand for dinner recipes.  I usually make a pot of veggie broth each week to use for cooking quinoa, lentils, and beans. I love adding vegan parmesan to veggies or pasta and its super easy to make (1 cup raw cashews, 3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast,  1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt. Pulse in blender or food processor until finely ground. This stuff is a game changer and a staple in our house!) Sometimes I just google easy recipes based on the ingredients I have. There are so many amazing resources online-the possibilities are endless! Some of our favorite vegetarian dinners are zucchini tacos, falafel burgers, spaghetti squash and chickpea meatballs, zucchini noodles with red peppers, homemade chipotle bowls, quinoa or brown rice pasta with tomato sauce and vegan parmesan, and black bean & sweet potato burgers. Most of these recipes can be found on my Instagram. I try to keep my recipes as clean and simple as possible.  I love using herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, onion and garlic powder, crushed garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and crushed red pepper to help spice up my meals. 

Routine #7: Evening Tea
I really enjoy closing my day with hot tea. I add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a couple teaspoons of raw honey. Some evenings I prefer to drink kombucha with a squeeze of lemon.

This seems like a lot, but establishing some routines and habits when it comes to food really makes life easier. Would love to hear feedback about your favorite plant-based meals and healthy habits!