Date Night in NYC!

This past Saturday David and I spent the night in New York City while my parents took care of Jackson. Having grandparents close by is the best! It was a rather spontaneous trip that we decided to take as kind of a “last hoorah” before the baby arrives in about six weeks. Being in between both of our birthdays, it was also an excuse to celebrate and just enjoy each other’s company one on one, which is something we don’t do nearly enough of these days, admittedly.  This was actually the first time that we have both been away from Jackson overnight at the same time since he was born!

IMG_20180414_121313_907

Continue reading “Date Night in NYC!”

Current Whole Foods Favorites

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I regularly shop at a few different grocery stores to get the products I want. I usually alternate between Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Costco on a given week depending on what I need to pick up. Between these three stores, I’m able to buy the kinds of foods I like while also keeping costs at a reasonable level. I already shared my current favorites from Costco and Trader Joe’s, so today I thought I’d round up the products I’m currently loving from Whole Foods. As with my other lists, I didn’t include much in the way of produce here because I’m focusing on items that are unique to Whole Foods (where I live, at least). That said, I do buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from Whole Foods on a regular basis. Anyway, without further ado, here are the Whole Foods products I’m loving right now:

Current Whole Foods Favorites

  1. Kite Hill Greek-Style Almond Yogurt (Unsweetened): I’ve mentioned my love for this yogurt on the blog before and my obsession is still going strong. This stuff is simply the best and I can’t get enough! Even my very picky toddler gobbles this yogurt down, which I was honestly surprised by given that it’s quite tart. I only buy the unsweetened kind and usually add a bit of my own sweetness by mixing in some fresh berries, but I’ve eaten it totally on its own too. It’s so creamy and satisfying! Other dairy-free yogurts don’t have much to offer in the protein department, but I love that this one provides 11 grams of plant protein along with healthy fat.
  2. Sweet Earth Veggie Burgers: When it comes to veggie burgers, I’m usually not a big fan of the ones that try to mimic real meat. I love veggie burgers that are filled with whole grains and pieces of vegetables and that taste like, well, a veggie burger! I look for options that are as minimally processed as possible and try to avoid ones that contain things like soy protein isolates. One of my absolute favorite brands of veggie burgers is Sweet Earth. I’ve only seen two flavors in the stores near me–Teriyaki and Santa Fe–but they are both delicious. With ingredients like sweet potato, edamame, brown rice, barley, carrots, sesame seeds, and quinoa, they are wholesome and nutritious. They do have some added sugar (cane sugar is listed in the ingredients), but on balance, I think the ingredient list is very good. I’m willing to take a little sugar over some of the other fillers that many veggie burgers have. Another plus to these is that they fill you up! Some veggie burgers are quite low in calories and therefore aren’t very satiating but these have a little over 200 calories along with several grams of fiber, and between 11 and 14 grams of protein, depending on the variety. Along with a side salad or other vegetable, one of these veggie burgers keeps me satisfied for hours.
  3. Califia Farms Dairy Free Creamer: I’m a huge fan of all Califia Farms products but I especially love their unsweetened creamer. I find that regular almond milk in coffee tends to kind of get lost and doesn’t provide much in the way of creaminess. This almond milk and coconut cream creamer solves that issue! Just a little bit adds such a nice creaminess to coffee and it has a lovely nutty flavor to boot. I just love this stuff.  
  4. Allegro Coffee – Mocha Java Flavor: Speaking of coffee, this Mocha Java variety from Whole Foods’ Allegro brand has become my go-to. Although I’m not consuming much of it while pregnant (I do ¼ caf and ¾ decaf), it’s one of my favorite grocery coffees and I can’t wait to enjoy a full mug again soon! For some reason I’ve become much more picky about coffee over the years and unless it’s really good quality, I just don’t like it. This Mocha Java flavor is rich and bold and so satisfying.
  5. 5-lb Bag Organic Carrots: I’m including carrots in the list because Whole Foods is the only place I’ve found that sells whole organic carrots in a five pound bag (I think Costco may sell them in an even larger quantity, but that’s a bit much for me). The five pound bag is perfect for my family because we like to snack on raw carrots and hummus or nut butter throughout the week, but also want to have some carrots left over to throw into soups, sauces, or roasts. With a five pound bag, we have plenty! In case you’re wondering why I don’t buy baby carrots for snacking, I have a couple of reasons. One, it’s way cheaper to buy whole carrots, and two, my mom once pointed out that whole carrots are much more flavorful than baby carrots. I had never thought much about this myself but I compared the two and she was totally right. Whole carrots taste so much better for some reason. It’s a little more effort to peel and chop them, sure, but I find that the effort is worth it. I do it once on Sundays and have a big container ready to go for the week.
  6. Delighted By Dessert Hummus: I did a post recently on homemade chocolate hummus and it was inspired by Delighted By’s Brownie Batter Dessert Hummus. They have a few other flavors too and they are all delish. Along with some fresh fruit or crackers, they satisfy a sweet tooth but are much healthier than downing an ordinary dessert.
  7. 365 Rice Crackers (Black Sesame and Everything Flavors): When I want some crackers to go along with hummus, I usually reach for these rice crackers. They’re not particularly nutritious, as is the case with most crackers, but I like that they are made with very few ingredients and are on the lighter side. The black sesame and everything flavors are my favorite.
  8. Sesame Ginger Dressing: It’s really hard for me to find bottled salad dressing that I think tastes good and also isn’t loaded with junk. I know I should make my own and it’s a goal for this year, but until I can motivate myself to do it, I’m sticking with this fresh Sesame Ginger dressing that Whole Foods makes. I absolutely love it.  It has no oil and instead gets its creamy texture from tahini. If you want to try it out, you can find it in the refrigerated section near the lettuce.
  9. Organic Frozen Pizza Dough: When I’m craving pizza, I much prefer to make it myself because I like having control over the ingredients. The prepared frozen dough that Whole Foods sells makes this super easy. Although the image is of the white crust, I actually prefer the multigrain or whole wheat.
  10. Explore Cuisine Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine: I’ve talked about bean pastas a bit before and Explore Cuisine is one of my favorite bean pasta brands. They’re a bit on the pricey side, but their products are great. The edamame and mung bean fettuccine that they make is particularly good. It’s one of my favorite bean pastas because of the mild flavor and perfect texture. If you’re looking for a bean pasta that rivals real pasta, this is about as close as it gets from what I’ve tried.
  11. Banza Chickpea Pasta: Banza is another brand of bean pasta that I really like. They specialize specifically in chickpea pasta and make all kinds of shapes. I often buy the shells to make for my toddler.
  12. Canned Organic Lentils: Although I always have dry lentils on hand in the house, I like to buy canned lentils as well because they are so nice to have when I’m running short on time. I find lentils to be so versatile and I often find myself grabbing them to add to soups, salads, pasta sauce, you name it. With canned, all I have to do is rinse and drain them and I’m good to go. I can have a meal ready in minutes. For some reason, I’ve found canned lentils extremely hard to find though. Fortunately, Whole Foods carries them so I always stock up there.

Tell me, what are your favorite products from Whole Foods? Is there anything I should try out?

Pregnancy Update: 31 Weeks

I know I say this every time I write about something pregnancy-related but I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy is going by. Seriously. I’m 31 weeks right now and that means I have only a little over two months to go. I’m not sure if I’m ready! Anyway, here’s what’s been going on since my 25 week update….

Continue reading “Pregnancy Update: 31 Weeks”

Fudgy Chocolate Hummus Dip (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

A few months ago my sister introduced me to the hummus brand, Delighted By. Have you heard of it? Delighted By makes dessert hummus flavors like Brownie Batter and Snickerdoodle that are absolutely delicious and made with clean ingredients. Dessert hummus? Now why didn’t I think of that?! You probably don’t associate chickpeas with chocolate or anything else sweet for that matter, and it may strike you as gross, but trust me when I tell you that you’d never know chickpeas are the main ingredient in this dip. Seriously, my mind was blown when I first tasted it.

With Easter coming up next week and with so much emphasis on chocolate for the holiday, I wanted to try recreating the Brownie Batter hummus because I think it makes for a perfect sweet treat to serve at any Easter festivities. It tastes rich and decadent, but since it’s made from a short list of healthy and wholesome ingredients, it’s a rather healthy way to indulge! With chickpeas as the base, you get a nice serving of protein and fiber, which isn’t usually a hallmark of a chocolatey dessert.

My creation was a total experiment because I didn’t know how much of each ingredient to use and had to do some educated guessing, but after a little trial and error, I was very happy with the end result. It’s smooth and creamy with a rich chocolate flavor that reminds me of chocolate mousse. It goes great as a dip for sliced fruit, and is equally good spread on crackers. I’ve even had it with celery and carrots and I think it’s delish that way too. You could also just eat it off a spoon, which I have to admit I’ve done on more than one occasion!

Fudgy Chocolate Hummus

P3250861 revised

Fudgy Chocolate Hummus

P3250859 revised

Fudgy Chocolate Hummus

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk (I used unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Place chickpeas, coconut oil, water, and almond milk in a food processor and pulse until smooth and blended.
  2. Add sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt, and blend again.
  3. Chill and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

Fudgy Chocolate Hummus Dip

Creamy Chickpea Salad (Vegan)

I do eat fish on occasion but I haven’t had canned tuna in years. I actually can’t remember the last time I had it and I don’t usually miss it, to be honest. There have been times during this pregnancy that I’ve craved a tuna sandwich though, this week in particular, and I wanted to find a satisfying alternative. Enter chickpea salad! For me, the appeal of tuna salad is less about the tuna and more about the creamy, crunchy, salty combination. Chickpeas can have this consistency too, if combined with the right mix of ingredients.

Continue reading “Creamy Chickpea Salad (Vegan)”

Jackson’s Birth Story

I am officially 29 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. That means in a mere 11 weeks (give or take) I will be welcoming another little one into the world. I don’t think I’ve fully grasped this yet! With my due date fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about my upcoming delivery, and reminiscing about Jackson’s. I never documented my experience with him, but I wanted to recap it now in case it helps anyone else who may be anxious about giving birth.

I was never one of those people who had a detailed written birth plan. I had preferences about how I wanted to deliver, but I’d read enough about how things often don’t go as planned, so I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. At the end of the day, I wanted to do whatever would ensure a safe and healthy delivery for my baby and myself, and ultimately, I trusted my doctor to make this determination. For me, this wound up being a scheduled c-section.

Although I tried not to get my hopes up with a specific birth plan, when I first found out that Jackson was breech and the strong recommendation was a c-section, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. To be honest, I was crushed. It’s not because I had my heart set on a natural labor experience. I hadn’t planned on delivering in a birthing center or anything like that and I was pretty sure I’d get an epidural. Nevertheless, I really wanted to deliver Jackson how nature intended, and the thought of being cut open was frankly terrifying. I’d never undergone surgery before and I was dreading how recovery would be from a c-section. How would I be able to care for a newborn after major surgery? How would my body recover when I’m not able to sleep and rest like normal? How long would it take to be back on my feet? Would I suffer any complications? All that and more swirled through my head as I dealt with the realization that I wouldn’t be having a normal delivery.

I also worried that Jackson wouldn’t be getting the so-called benefits that babies who deliver vaginally experience. I’d read about how beneficial the mother’s bacteria can be when babies are exposed to it when going through the birth canal. And on the flip side, I worried about whether Jackson would be more susceptible to certain things (like asthma) because he had a c-section, as I’d also read. Basically, I worried about everything!

Because I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs, I tried everything I could to get Jackson to turn. I even opted to do an external version, where a doctor tries to get the baby to flip by essentially pushing on it from the outside. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but trust me when I say it was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced (granted, I haven’t gone through labor). There’s a reason they recommend an epidural when you get one! I turned down the epidural not realizing how bad it would be and man, oh man, was it excruciating. Aside from the pain, Jackson didn’t tolerate it well and it caused his heart rate to drop significantly. Fortunately it got back to normal relatively quickly but that was enough for me to throw in the towel and come to terms with a c-section.

Despite all my worrying, I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised with how smoothly Jackson’s delivery went. I made sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before the surgery since I wouldn’t be sleeping well again in the near future, and I went into the hospital with some nerves, but mostly feeling relaxed and excited. The whole prep procedure didn’t take all that long and I was in surgery within a couple of hours. The actual surgery was also quite quick, especially the delivery part. I couldn’t time it but I want to say that Jackson was out after no more than 20-30 minutes. It was a really surreal experience. It took a bit longer for them to stitch me back up, but at that point I was on such a high that I didn’t even care or notice what was going on. I wasn’t able to hold Jackson immediately after he was delivered, which was a bummer, but David got to hold him and it was a really special moment.

I was anxious about how much pain I’d be in once the pain meds started to wear off a bit, but honestly, the discomfort for me was very tolerable. I was actually up on my feet later that night, and by the next day, I was walking the halls. All the advice I heard was to get moving as soon as possible to ensure a quicker recovery, and I really took that to heart. I honestly think the worse thing was the IV and catheter! Because I was recovering so well, I was discharged after just two nights (the standard stay after a c-section is 3 to 4). Once I got home, I never even had to take the prescription pain meds they gave me. I just popped ibuprofen and that did the trick for me. I don’t want to minimize the fact that a c-section is a major surgery, and everyone’s experience is different, but for me, recovery was about as easy as it could be. I definitely had to take it easy and slow for a while, but I never felt like I couldn’t do what I needed to do to care for the baby. The one not so great result of the surgery is my scar, which developed into an ugly raised line because my skin doesn’t scar well. But if that’s the only downside, I’ll take it.

After all of my anxiety and feelings of disappointment going into my delivery, after Jackson arrived I can honestly say that all of those emotions went away. I was so overwhelmed with love and joy for my new baby that how he got here just didn’t matter anymore. With my second baby, it’s still uncertain how I’m going to deliver, but I’m much less anxious this time around. As long as the end result is the same, that’s all that matters to me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_20160624_180337

2016062636002593

 

Veggie Tortilla Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Spring is technically a week from now but it snowed here yesterday so soup is still very much in the regular rotation. Rather than make a tried and true soup this week, I decided to try something a little different and I’m so glad I did! I think I’ve found my new favorite soup recipe. If you’re a fan of Mexican tortilla soup, you have to try this one! Most traditional recipes call for chicken, but this version is insanely flavorful and delicious sans meat. It consists simply of black beans, tomatoes, veggies, and spices. I was honestly surprised at how good it was, but I guess I shouldn’t have been because it has lots of fresh cilantro, which I adore. I think the key to the flavor is the cilantro and lime juice. I was in heaven from the aroma of cilantro and lime in my kitchen and I could almost feel summer. There’s just something about that combination that makes me think of fresh guac, margaritas, and sunshine! Continue reading “Veggie Tortilla Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)”

Current Trader Joe’s Favorites

I recently did a post about my favorite products from Costco and wanted to do the same for another one of my go-to stores, Trader Joe’s. Although Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry everything I like to buy, it has all the basics for my normal weekly shopping and much more, at really amazing prices to boot. Trader Joe’s is also always introducing new products, so it’s fun to go and check out what’s new on the shelves. I don’t always love the quality of some of their produce–I find that it tends to go bad sooner than produce from other stores–but over time I’ve learned what holds up well and what’s worth buying elsewhere. On the plus side, they have an impressive selection of organic produce, way more so than the pathetic selection at my local Stop and Shop. All in all, I love Trader Joe’s and would shop there every week if it was more convenient (If any powers that be are reading, open a store in Greenwich pretty please). Continue reading “Current Trader Joe’s Favorites”

Tofu & Vegetable Curry (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Just a few short months ago I posted about our first snow of the season and how magical and exciting it was. That feels like forever ago now and after many snowy days since, I’m officially over winter! We had yet another snowstorm on Wednesday and it caused power outages and school closings across the state and beyond. This is less than a week after another nor’easter took out power lines all over the area. Enough already winter! Can we get a break? Seriously though…. Continue reading “Tofu & Vegetable Curry (Vegan & Gluten-Free)”

The Best Maternity Leggings

The Best Maternity Leggings

I’m 27 weeks pregnant as of yesterday and I’ve officially reached that stage where things are starting to rub together that never did before. I am not one of those women who is “all belly” in pregnancy. In fact, my belly is pretty small as far as preggo bellies go. It’s everything else that’s expanding! Especially my butt. That was the case with Jackson too, so I guess it’s just how my body operates. Because of this, I find leggings to be the most comfortable thing to wear throughout the second and third trimesters. I know many other mamas-to-be are big leggings fans too. But as I’ve learned, all leggings are not created equal. After some trial and error I’ve found a few kinds that I love, and I’ve basically been wearing them on repeat every week for the past couple of months. I figured I’d share my faves for anyone else looking for good maternity leggings. Continue reading “The Best Maternity Leggings”