Ok, I’m Really Pregnant

Six weeks hit, along with pregnancy symptoms. I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t supposed to feel sick because I was so healthy!! I was feeling nauseous and dizzy for 2 weeks. I couldn’t even drive to my office so I worked from home. Yuck! When I went to my first doctor’s visit, she said it was normal and gave me some things to try… I was desperate! Sea Bands-NOPE; peppermint extract-NOPE; fresh ginger-NOPE; ginger snaps-NOPE; Morning Sickness Tea-NOPE. Around 7 weeks, I started taking 400mg of Magnesium before getting out of bed in the morning and then 25 mg of B6 every 4 hours. I think that helped, but it’s hard to tell. All I could eat for those 2 weeks was carbs. My favorites were whole wheat english muffins with butter and apricot jelly, mini cinnamon raisin bagels with cream cheese, cheese and crackers, and saltines. I felt so guilty for eating such bland things and not exercising (how could I exercise when I could barely walk) but my midwife reassured me that the baby would be fine and I’d make up for it in a few weeks.

She was right! At 9 weeks, I’m starting to feel human again! I even ate a whole bunch of kale the other night. I’m getting back into my old ways. I’m working everyday and even went to the gym twice so far this week! Hormones are crazy! I’m eating much better these days… much more produce and protein. I’m so lucky that the worst part of it was only 2 weeks. I couldn’t imagine going through that until week 12 or 13! Now I can get excited! 

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Turkey Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is probably the most comforting meal for me. Growing up with my Italian family, I had it (and still do) all the time. My dad and I would laugh because whenever we go to my (very Italian) aunt and uncle’s house, we gorge ourselves with fresh homemade pasta, bread, and cheese! It’s just so good that I can’t stop! I got to a point where I still wanted to eat spaghetti and meatballs but didn’t want to feel like I ate a ton of bricks every time! So I converted to either the smart taste pasta or rice pasta, which my tummy really appreciates!

These meatballs take me back to my childhood. My favorite smell in the world is that of garlic and onion simmering on the stove for the beginning steps of my mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce. You know exactly what I mean right?! I was lucky enough to have a mom who made EVERYTHING homemade. But even if you don’t do the homemade thing, there are a few things that are definitely worth the extra time. Spaghetti sauce and meatballs are two of those things. Anyway, I digress.

My mom used to make these meatballs with half turkey and half beef. I just use all turkey. They are SO moist that you have to be careful not to break them. These have all the flavor of homemade meatballs, yet so much less fat! The herbs and cheese really make these what they are. I even eat them without sauce as a snack! When my husband and I make a batch of these, we take them out of the oven and eat them right off a plate, as is. I know you’ll love them too!

Turkey Meatballs

2 pieces whole wheat bread

ice water

2 eggs

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup to 1 cup Bread crumbs

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, soak bread in ice water. In the meantime, combine eggs, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and parmesan in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined. Remove the bread from the ice water and squeeze out excess water. Add the bread to the egg mixture. Use a fork to mix and break up the crust pieces. Add the ground turkey and mix with your hands until the ingredients are incorporated into the meat. Avoid over mixing. If the mixture is too wet and doesn’t hold its shape, add breadcrumbs a 1/4 cup at a time. Heat an oven safe nonstick saucepan to medium high heat. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp oil into the pan. Then, use your hands to form meatballs, about 2 Tbsp each. Place meatballs into the saucepan and brown on all sides. Be careful when turning the meatballs as they’re very delicate. Once meatballs are browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total, place the pan into the oven to finish baking, about 7 minutes depending on the size.

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Our First Doctor Visit

Stew and I decided a few months ago that we wanted to do a birth center. It all started when I found out that, as of last November, individual healthcare (which is what we have) doesn’t cover any maternity costs. Now if you have insurance through a group it’s a different story. So I figured if we were going to pay thousands anyway, I might as well go somewhere that’s more aligned with my way of thinking.

A few months ago we went on a tour of the birth center and absolutely fell in love. At that time, we weren’t even pregnant but knew it was where we wanted to be. There are 4 midwives that are all wonderful (we met 2 that night and 2 at our first visit). The atmosphere is so calm. They are completely supportive of what mom and dad want. We loved every second being there.

Just a few short months later, we were there again! This time it was for our 8 week check up. How exciting! We met the other 2 midwives and loved them. Each time we go, we’ll see a different midwife and then whoever is on call when I go into labor will deliver our baby. Our checkup was great. She talked to us for a long time, took some tests, and gave me an exam. Everything was normal and looking good! Our next visit will be May 8th. Can’t wait!

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Vegetable Pad Thai

This is a delicious Pad Thai dish. It’s simple and SO quick to make. The step that takes the longest is soaking the noodles for 30 minutes. But other than that, it all comes together in a few minutes. It’s been so warm here, so I wanted something really light for supper. This was the winner! Thai food is one of those genres that I want to perfect. It’s the one food that’s usually not as good as when you buy it at a restaurant. But this one IS! I don’t like fish sauce, but you can definitely add that if you like it. A light refreshing summer supper! It hit the spot.

Vegetable Pad Thai-serves 4

8 oz dried flat rice noodles

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 scallions, white and light green parts sliced

1 garlic clove minced

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro

1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts

  • Soak noodles according to the package instructions. Drain. In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add eggs and cook, scraping the skillet with a rubber spatula, until eggs are cooked through. Transfer egg mixture to a plate. **If you want to add protein, like chicken or shrimp, add it in now and saute before adding the noodles.
  • Add noodles and soy sauce mixture; cook, tossing constantly with tongs, until the noodles are soft and coated with the sauce (about 1 minute). Add the egg mixture and toss with the sauce.
  • Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with herbs and peanuts.

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Chicken Couscous

I’ve been working on recipes that can make chicken more exciting to eat. I want to get the protein, but sometimes it can be so bland! This recipe is very unique. It has that warming element from the cinnamon and cumin and the spicy aftertaste of the cayenne pepper. It almost tastes like something I would make in the Fall…. except it’s 80 degrees out. But it was still good!

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute on medium heat until chicken is browned on all sides. Those brown bits will all come up when you deglaze the pan (add the chicken stock) and they will add so much flavor!Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Add scallions, zucchini, and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Mix the cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper and saute with the vegetables for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, and craisins; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the couscous to the liquid, cover and turn off heat. Let rest 5 minutes; fluff couscous with a fork. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, garnished with almonds and parsley.

Chicken Couscousserves 4

Adapted from Fitness Magazine 

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup craisins

3/4 cup whole wheat couscous

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Warm the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Add scallions, zucchini, and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Mix the cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper and saute with the vegetables for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, and craisins; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the couscous to the liquid, cover and turn off heat. Let rest 5 minutes; fluff couscous with a fork. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, garnished with almonds and parsley.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My husband and I bring our lunches to work everyday. Stew does it because he has no other choice in the construction world, and I do because I choose to spend my lunch hour at the gym! So the other day he said to me, “Can you make your chocolate chip cookies so I can eat them for lunch?” Keep in mind, these are completely full of butter and sugar and bad for you. But, being the loving wife I am, I gave in… just this once. I’ll eventually post those since everyone needs a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe! So I made him his cookies and then made myself a healthier, but equally as delicious, version.

They do have quite a bit of brown sugar, so next time I would use less, probably 1/2 a cup. You could probably even substitute maple syrup or agave to get the sweetness instead of using sugar. I like to experiment with those as substitutions, because I don’t like eating too much sugar. So these are not really “guilt free” but they’re better than the buttery alternative! These are for those days that you reeeeaally want a cookie, but don’t want to blow your day by feeling really guilty. As far as the goodies inside, you can always substitute a different flour if you don’t like rice flour and any dried fruit. I’ve tried a combination of apricot, raisin, and craisins before but didn’t have those in the house this time. Let your palate decide!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 very ripe banana, mashed

2 egg whites

2 Tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1  1/3 cup rice flour

1 cup gluten free oats

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup craisins

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine butter, oil, and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on high speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the mashed banana, egg whites, peanut butter, and vanilla and mix to combine. Add flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda and mix to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and craisins. You can substitute other dried fruit and nuts as well. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray. Using a small ice cream scoop, place the cookies on the pan two inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned but still soft. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 1 minute. Remove from pan and let cookies cool on racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week. If you’d like to save them, place in an airtight container and freeze. These cookies are delicate and fall apart easily so handle with care!

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The Big News

I’m pregnant! This is the most exciting day of my life. Now, I’m not one of those people who didn’t realize my period was late and ended up 5 months pregnant or something crazy like that. I literally took the test THE DAY I was late. I really didn’t think I was pregnant because I didn’t feel any symptoms whatsoever. I just took the test for the heck of it. I didn’t even think a test would be positive that early. So I took the test and then went to make the bed. After 3 minutes, I went into the bathroom to look at it, not expecting to see anything. I saw a plus sign! I looked in the mirror and said, “holy shit!” Then I went to read the directions, even though I’ve taken tests in the months before and knew what a positive should look like. Sure enough, plus = positive! 

Of course Stew was working in Beaufort, 2 hours from home, which meant LONG DAY. I didn’t want to call and tell him over the phone, so I just had to wait. I decided I would go to work and get on with my day, business as usual. Ok easier said than done…

I get home from work and was waiting for Stew to come home. He called me around 4:30. He usually calls me when he’s about an hour away. I thought, “oh good he’ll be home soon!” Not so much…He was calling to tell me that they’re waiting on the cement truck that’s running late, and they haven’t even left Beaufort yet! So I said “Ok. See you when you get home” as calmly as possible. He got home at 7 exhausted and filthy. So I let him shower and get his PJs on. In order for this story to make sense, I need to back up a few days. I was feeling so bloated (not realizing why!) and I said something to Stew. He said, “I think you look cute”. So I said, “it would be cute if it was a baby belly and not a food belly”. Ok, now back to present time. I met him upstairs and put my arms around his neck and said, “It turns out it’s a baby belly and not a food belly!” He said, “WHAT? Tell me everything!!!” then picked me up and spun me around. We couldn’t stop smiling all night! I can’t wait to see what this journey brings!!

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Avocado and Arugula Salad

I eat a lot of raw fresh produce. The longest I ever lasted with a 100% raw food diet was a month. I definitely felt great but 100% just isn’t practical for my lifestyle. The whole premiss behind this way of eating is that cooking foods above 115 degrees F kills the enzymes in food that help us digest and absorb nutrients. Now I just incorporate as much seasonal fresh produce into my day to day eating habits as possible.

When I was on the raw food kick, I ate this Arugula salad at LEAST once a week. It was so filling and satisfying. Stew and I were wanting a lighter meal, so we had this for supper. 

Avocado and Arugula Saladserves 1

2 cups arugula

1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

2 Tbsp craisins

2 Tbsp slivered almonds

1 Tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped mint

Create a bed of arugula in a large bowl. Arrange the apple and avocado fanned out in a circular patter on top of the arugula (To cut the avocado, slice down the center around the pit. Then tap a large chef’s knife into the pit and twist. This should make the pit come right out. Then peel the avocado by pulling the skin off). Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with a little bit of the red wine vinaigrette. Now you have yourself a healthy and delicious lunch or dinner!

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Red Wine Vinaigrette

Why buy dressing when you can make your own?! It’s so easy and SO much better for you! You actually know every single ingredient in the dressing. The garlic paste in a tube is my secret weapon. I use it when I want the garlic flavor but not chunks of garlic (or quite frankly when I’m too lazy to chop garlic). It has a VERY strong flavor so you don’t need much. You can find it in the refrigerated section at any grocery store. This dressing is full of flavor and will make you and your salads very happy! 

Red Wine Vinaigrette –makes 1 cup

2 Tbsp lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp grainy mustard

1/2 tsp garlic paste (or 1 clove garlic minced)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until combined. A little goes a long way flavor wise. You’ll never buy dressing again!

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Orange and Craisin Quinoa

Right now I’m on a quinoa kick. YUM! Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein. What does that mean? Well, it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that humans need in their diets. So, bottom line, eat more quinoa! It’s similar to couscous because you can transform its flavor easily. I was watching Food Network and Giada de Laurentiis was making something similar to this. I added a few of my own touches. This recipe is so refreshing! I paired it with grilled rosemary chicken and broccolini. It went so well with the savory chicken! It couldn’t be easier too! You combine all the ingredients, except the craisins, into one pot and simmer it, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the craisins in, stir it, and take it off the heat. Keep the lid on and let it sit for about 5 minutes so any excess liquid and all the flavors absorb into the quinoa. This will make you fall in love with this miracle seed! 

Orange and Craisin Quinoa-serves 4

Adapted from Giada at Home

1 1/2 c. Water

Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)

Zest of 1 orange

1 c. quinoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 c craisins

Combine all ingredients, except the craisins, into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Add craisins and fluff with a fork. Move the pot off the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 more minutes.

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