Motherhood · Food · Recipes

Almond Butter Granola (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Almond Butter Granola

During my last Trader Joe’s run I discovered an almond butter granola and couldn’t resist picking it up. In all honesty, I may have liked it a little too much because it didn’t last more than two days in my house! Oops. There are certain things that I have a hard time eating in moderation (like chips) and apparently granola is one of them. Rather than buy it again, I decided to try my hand at making my own, healthier version, which I won’t be as tempted to inhale in a few sittings (or at least if I do, I won’t feel so bad about it!). The batch I whipped up uses a short list of very basic ingredients and is super tasty, but it’s free of the excess sugar and fat that’s common in traditional granolas.

Almond Butter Granola

Almond Butter Granola

I like to eat it sprinkled on top of almond yogurt with berries or even on its own with almond milk. As an aside, can I just say how obsessed I am with Kite Hill’s new Greek-style yogurt?! Have any of you tried it? I’ve never been big into yogurt, even before I decided to mostly ditch dairy, but I did enjoy Greek yogurt, and it’s something I sometimes miss. I was so excited to find Kite Hill’s dairy-free version at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and it did not disappoint. I can’t get enough! I only buy the plain unsweetened kind because I don’t want the added sugar in the other varieties and prefer to add my own toppings, like granola! It is seriously delicious and if you’re a fan of Greek yogurt, I highly recommend giving it a try. Now, back to the granola….

Almond Butter Granola

Almond Butter Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix with your hands until the oats are evenly coated.
  • Spread out mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool completely. The granola will be a bit soft until it fully cools.

*Adapted from Elizabeth Rider’s Easy Healthy Homemade Granola

Let me know how you like to eat granola and whether you have any tried and true recipes!

 

Almond Butter Granola

Motherhood

Non-Maternity Clothes That Are Cute AND Bump-Friendly

When you’re pregnant, there are certain articles of clothing that you just can’t avoid buying in maternity styles (hello pants). For both of my pregnancies, I started wearing maternity jeans before the end of the first trimester because the waistbands of my normal skinnies got too uncomfortable. But as much as possible, I try to buy regular clothing that works with my growing bump because I hate dropping money on things I’ll only wear for a matter of months. Fortunately, there are lots of regular clothes these days that work for most, if not all of pregnancy. With tunics and flowy styles being so in, it’s a great time to be pregnant! For this post I rounded up a number of tops (and a pair of jeggings) that are cute, bump-friendly, and affordable. Since I live in Connecticut and it’s currently winter, I’m focusing on colder weather options, but many of these items can be worn well into spring. 

Bump Friendly Non-Maternity Clothes (1)

1. BP. Side Slit Tee ($19): I picked up this tee at Nordstrom over Thanksgiving before I was showing much because I love its length and hi/low hem. I have a long torso and I’m always on the hunt for basic long tees that I can wear with leggings or skinny jeans. This one fits the bill!

2. Halogen Knit Poplin Mix Top ($41.40; currently 40% off!): I came across this top this week and I’m seriously considering adding it to my cart. I love the contrasting colors and billowy sleeves and the fact that it’s stylish but also seems super comfy.

3. LUSH Perfect Roll Tab Sleeve Tunic ($27.90; currently 33% off!): I actually bought this tunic after I had my first baby when I was still carrying around excess baby weight, and it’s now perfect for my growing baby bump. If you’re looking for something a little more formal to wear to work, I highly recommend this top. I may pick it up in more colors.

4. Free People Easy Goes It Denim Leggings ($58): I own these in two washes–rich blue and black–and I made it up until 20 weeks of pregnancy wearing them comfortably. Because they’re jeggings and have an elasticized waistband, they have a lot of give, way more so than any of my other jeans. And they don’t bag out! I lived in these long before I got pregnant and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to wear them this long during pregnancy.

5. Free People Lover Rib Split Back Pullover ($40.80; currently 40% off!): Another Free People pick I recently discovered.  Free People is a good bet during pregnancy in general because the brand features so many drapey styles, but I often find the pricing to be a bit outside of what I like to spend. Fortunately many of their items go on sale and this particular top is majorly discounted right now! The one I ordered, in pink, is currently sold out, but it’s still available in black in all sizes.

6. Old Navy Pintuck Lace-Yoke Swing Top ($28; currently 20% off!): The flowy silhouette of this shirt works great with skinny jeans when not pregnant, and it’s also loose enough to cover a growing baby bump stylishly.

7. Old Navy Lux Rib-Neck Tunic ($22.99): This is a great basic and versatile tee that can be dressed up or down.  

8. Sylvia Alexander Women’s Poncho Turtleneck ($34.99): I’m not sure how much longer ponchos will be in style, but you may as well take advantage of the trend while you can! It doesn’t get much more comfortable than wearing the equivalent of a blanket. I really like the color and design of this one in particular.

9. The Limited Lace-Up Shaker Stitch Tunic Top ($47.40; 40% off): I like that this tunic is a bit more form fitting but still long enough to accommodate a belly. And the lace-up sides add a chic touch.

If you’re pregnant and searching for comfortable and stylish clothing options, I hope this provided some inspiration! And let me know if you have any non-maternity faves of your own.

Food · Recipes

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

When it’s freezing out and I’m not in the mood for soup, I often turn to a warm and filling bowl of some sort for nourishment. With grain or Buddha Bowls or whatever you want to call them, there are so many options you can throw together, and pretty much anything goes. They’re the perfect combo of easy, healthy, and delicious. You really can’t go wrong!

This version I threw together includes quinoa as the base, topped with chickpeas, garlic-seasoned cruciferous veggies, and a little bit of almond parsley pesto. I mainly chose this combination because I had the ingredients on hand and needed to use them, but I also think they go very nicely together, not to mention that they pack a serious nutritional punch!

The key to this bowl is to roast the veggies to ensure the best flavor and crunch. Roasting vegetables is almost always my preferred way to cook them; it really does make such a difference in how they taste. There’s nothing I love more than a crispy batch of Brussels sprouts fresh out of the oven! Anyone else with me? Growing up I never really ate them but now I am obsessed and I’m making up for lost time! Brussels sprouts, where have you been all my life?!

As for the pesto, it was a total impulse decision at the end and I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for the dish (I had parsley that I needed to use up), but I think it takes the flavor up a notch. Since I hadn’t planned on making any kind of pesto in advance, I had to use what I had available, and that’s why the ingredients may seem a bit random. Although it was a total shot in the dark, I think the parsley-garlic-lemon combo works. If that’s not your cup of tea though, you can skip the pesto and still enjoy a delicious and satisfying bowl.

I plan on experimenting with many more plant-based bowl combinations this winter, and I’ll be sure to post whatever I love. I’m always looking for inspiration, so if you have any favorite bowl-based meals, do share!   

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl


Ingredients

For the bowls

  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 8 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the almond parsley pesto

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp water
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Directions

For the bowls

  • Preheat the oven to 415 degrees and line two baking sheets with tin foil.
  • Chop the stems off the broccoli so that you’re left with florets. Make sure that the florets are about equal in size so that they cook evenly. Put the broccoli florets in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp of garlic powder, and ¼ tsp onion powder. Mix with your hands until all the florets are coated.
  • Spread the broccoli florets out in a single layer on one of the baking sheets and set aside.
  • Chop the Brussels sprouts into halves or even thirds or quarters if they are very large. As with the broccoli, you want the sprouts to be relatively equal in size.
    Add the sprouts to a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix with your hands until all the sprouts are coated.
  • Spread the Brussels sprouts out in a single layer on the second baking sheet.
  • Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes, until the veggies are tender but crisp. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • While the veggies are roasting, cook the quinoa. Add 4 cups of water to a pot along with 2 cups of dry quinoa (check the package to see if it needs to be rinsed first). Bring water to a boil and then cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low, letting the quinoa cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed.

For the almond parsley pesto

  • Add almonds to a food processor and pulse until ground
  • Add the lemon juice, water and olive oil, and pulse again until mixed.
  • Add the parsley, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt, and pulse until evenly combined.

 

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Family · Motherhood

Baby #2!

Bump pic #2

I couldn’t be happier to share that David and I are expecting baby number 2 this spring! The due date is three weeks before Jackson turns two. We shared the news with our families at Thanksgiving and on social media the Friday before Christmas, but I’m planning on creating some pregnancy-related content on the blog, so I wanted to announce it here as well. Believe it or not, I’m actually about halfway through the pregnancy already (I’ll be officially 20 weeks along on Monday), and fortunately, it has been uneventful so far. I can’t believe how fast the time is flying!

Although I’m a little nervous about how we’re going to manage two kiddos, I’m overjoyed to have the opportunity to be a mom to another little human. While motherhood certainly isn’t all fun and games, it has made me happier than I ever thought possible, and has enriched my life in so many wonderful ways. That probably sounds cheesy, but it’s true!

Stay tuned for more pregnancy content soon. In the meantime, if you have any advice to share on transitioning from one baby to two, I can take all the tips I can get!

Food · Recipes

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom & Lentil Sauce (Vegan)

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom & Lentil Sauce

Today I’m excited to share an easy plant-based meal that’s as healthy as it is delicious. Let me start off by saying that I am in no way against traditional pasta. While it has been demonized and many people won’t touch it with a ten foot pole, I think pasta can actually make for a very nutritious meal, and I eat it often. However, there’s no denying that pasta is dense and there are times when I want something a little lighter, especially after the holidays. Enter spaghetti squash! With a mild flavor and pleasant texture, it’s the perfect canvas for a savory tomato sauce. Although it’s very low in calories (under 50 calories per cup), I find spaghetti squash to be very satisfying, particularly in the the cold winter months.

If you’re thinking that spaghetti squash is a pain to prep, I get it (it used to intimidate me and I never bought it), but I assure you it’s easy! You have three options for cooking it: One is to cut the squash in half and bake it, two is to bake the squash whole, and three is to microwave it. Obviously the easiest route is to throw it in the microwave, but I think it’s worth the additional time and effort to bake it in the oven. In terms of baking it whole vs. cut, if you have a suitable knife, I recommend cutting it in half. For a long time I never bothered and always baked it whole, but after some researching, I learned that cutting the squash allows it to caramelize a bit and results in a more “al dente” texture, whereas baking it whole essentially steams it and leaves you with a softer, wetter texture. Either way works just fine with a sauce, but I prefer firmer “noodles.” It also takes less time to cook when cut in half. The one caveat is that you need a very good, large knife, otherwise cutting through the squash will be nearly impossible. I have been there and it wasn’t pretty!

When it comes to tomato sauce, I love adding mushrooms and lentils for a hearty, healthy, and filling combo. Mushrooms are meaty and a good source of antioxidants, and lentils–packed with protein, fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals–are a nutritional all-star. You could use dry lentils in this recipe and cook them first, but I’m all about easy, so I go with organic canned. Aside from chopping the veggies, there’s not much more to this sauce! Just throw everything in a pan and let it cook. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

So tell me, are you a fan of spaghetti squash? What are some of your favorite spaghetti squash recipes to make at home?

Raw Spaghetti SquashRaw Spaghetti SquashRoasted Spaghetti SquashCremini MushroomsSpaghetti Squash with Mushroom & Lentil Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 10-oz package cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms
  • 1 25.5-oz jar of basic tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen’s organic tomato basil)
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can lentils
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

 

Directions

For the squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray it with a bit of olive oil.
  3. If baking the squash whole, pierce the skin in several places and place it on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. Let the squash cool for a few minutes and then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds and pulp. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.
  4. If baking the squash cut, use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise. If you make shallow cuts along the area you want to cut, the knife should go in a little easier. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rub a little olive oil onto each of the squash halves and then place them cut-side-down on the tin foil.
    Bake for about 30 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. This is optional, but I like to turn the squash halves over and let them bake facing up for a few minutes, to crisp up the flesh a little more. Let the squash cool for a few minutes. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.

For the sauce

  1. Lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil
  2. Chop the garlic and onion and add to the pan, cooking on medium-low for about five minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan and stir. Let the vegetables cook for another few minutes.
  4. Add the jar of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, lentils, and spices, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  5. Top spaghetti squash with sauce.

 

Spaghetti Squash Mushroom Lentil

Motherhood

One of Those Days

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Hello and happy Friday! I hope you have some fun weekend plans in store. Weather permitting, we’re going to a party on Saturday with a group of friends I’ve known forever and I’m really looking forward to it.

But backing up for a second, I want to talk about Wednesday. This past Wednesday I took Jackson for his first swim lesson at our local YMCA. (Quick sidebar, I’m no longer at my former job, which is why I was able to do this during the week. It’s kind of a long story and one for another post!) We have him in daycare twice a week and I wanted to find at least one activity to take him to on the days it’s just the two of us. I figured swim lessons would be great because he generally loves the water and enjoys being around other kids. This week was the first class, and I fully expected it to go well. I imagined Jackson having a ball and not wanting the class to end. Man, I could not have been more wrong! I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a complete and total disaster.

First, the main parking lot close to the entrance was completely full, so I had to go around the corner to an underground parking garage where they provide additional parking. That was also completely full. I finally found a spot on the other side of the building, a good 10-15 minutes later. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but when you’re toting a toddler and all of your swim gear in frigid temperatures and you have to walk a distance to get inside, it’s majorly annoying.

After the unexpected delay finding parking I was going to be late for the class, so I rushed with Jackson into the locker room. As soon as I set foot inside, he started wailing. Not just crying but full-on bawling with real tears and sobs. He is typically so joyful and happy and I still have no idea what set him off. I took him into the changing room to get him into his swimsuit and tried to calm him down, to no avail. I thought maybe once we got out of the locker room and into the pool he’d be distracted and would stop crying. Nope. The class started and we did intros, as best we could over Jackson’s screaming anyway, and I tried to get through the first exercise. When the crying continued without any sign of letting up, I just decided to throw in the towel and leave. He was obviously miserable and the crying was too disruptive to the other families.

So I dragged Jackson back to the locker room, still screaming, to get dressed to go home. Of course it’s freezing and winter and I was parked far away so I couldn’t just throw a shirt on him and call it a day. I spent another 15 minutes getting both of us out of our bathing suits (and his wet diaper) and into warm, dry clothes, hats, coats, etc. all while he continued screaming. I swear the staff must have thought I was torturing him! By the time I was finally ready to go, the class had ended and the other moms were starting to come into the locker room. I was on the brink of a meltdown myself at this point and on the verge of tears. As soon as we got outside Jackson stopped crying, of course, and he was mostly back to normal by the time we got home.  

The whole experience was unexpectedly negative and it left me feeling frustrated, guilty and defeated. But I reminded myself that some days are going to be like this. You can’t win ‘em all and that’s okay. I can’t let this one experience scare me off of trying other things. Although part of me never wants to go to swim lessons again and I’m kind of dreading it, I’m going to take Jackson again next week. Maybe he was having an off day this time or maybe he’s just not ready. We’ll see.

If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this it’s because I feel like we rarely see the full picture of parenting on social media. Usually it’s all smiles and rainbows and perfection (I’m guilty of this too), but days like this happen too, and I think it’s important to share that side as well. On that note, have you had a similar experience to this? Or do you have any words of wisdom to share about how to make next week’s lesson go a little more smoothly? I’d love to know!

Food · Recipes

Simple Vegan Cornbread

Vegan Cornbread

Hi there! I hope my fellow East Coasters are staying warm and safe in the big snowstorm. What a winter we’ve had already and it’s only the beginning of January! Yikes. Anyway, I wanted to follow up yesterday’s chili post with a recipe for cornbread since the two so often go hand in hand. I was planning to include the cornbread recipe along with the chili, but the first version I made was just not up to snuff and I wanted to tweak it before sharing. In my first attempt, I tried going the no oil route and used apple sauce in its place. While this swap works in many recipes, like brownies, it did not work for this cornbread. It turned out waaay too dry and crumbly. I also used too large of a pan (13×9), which resulted in slices that were a bit too thin for my liking. For my second attempt, I used coconut oil and a smaller 9×9 pan, and the result was just what I was going for–moist, hearty, and delicious!

Vegan CornbreadVegan Cornbread

Most cornbread recipes, like the original recipe I used as inspiration, call for cornmeal and regular wheat flour, but I opted for oat flour instead of the wheat to keep the cornbread gluten free. You could go either way.  I topped it with a pat of Earth Balance (admittedly not as large as in these photos) but a vegan maple butter would be even better! Like the majority of things I make, this is super easy to whip up and won’t leave you with a stack of dishes to wash at the end. I hope you try it and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix the almond milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal, oat flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  4. Warm the coconut oil in the microwave (or on the stove) until it’s melted. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup to almond milk/vinegar mix and stir well.
  5. Add the oil mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well mixed. Pour the batter into a greased (I used coconut oil) 9×9 pan and bake for about 45-55 minutes, until bread is firm. 
    *Adapted from Isa Chandra’s Vegan Cornbread

Note: To store this, make sure to use an airtight container or wrap it extremely well. I simply put a piece of tinfoil over the leftovers kind of haphazardly and it dried out pretty quickly. Don’t be lazy like I was!

 

Simple Vegan Cornbread