Monday, December 18, 2017

Healthy Holiday Chocolate Bark

So if you know me at all, you know I never, and I mean never turn chocolate down. But with all the holiday treats and sweets, I wanted something that also provided some nutritional benefit and packed with tons of antioxidants. This healthy holiday bark is the perfect combination of flavors that indulges any sweet tooth.

Using the base of dark chocolate with a matcha tea white chocolate drizzle for layers of superfood deliciousness. This is an antioxidant power bomb in your mouth! To start, the interesting taste level (and awesome Grinch inspired green color) of the matcha tea brings tons of immune boosting, detoxifying, and antioxidants benefits. Chia seeds provide an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, iron, and calcium. Dried cranberries provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties packed with vitamins. Raw pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium to zinc. All these delicious goodies provide the perfect nutritional pick-me-up while enjoying a holiday treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of powered matcha green tea
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (or pistachios)

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In two separate cups add the dark and white chocolate with 1 tsp. of coconut oil in each separate bowl of chocolates
  3. Slowly melt in intervals of microwaving and stirring the chocolate (the white will be done faster because there is less)
  4. Pour the melted dark chocolate on the lined baking pan and spread until thin
  5. Add the matcha tea to the white chocolate mixture and combine well
  6. Drizzle the green chocolate over the entire spread dark chocolate, you can have fun with big and small lines and really just use your creative freehand unless you want perfection
  7. Sprinkle all remaining superfood toppers evenly over the melted chocolates
  8. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before breaking into freeform pieces

I LOVE Christmas. It’s my absolute favorite and I’ve been enjoying spoiling Hartley with baking and treats WAY too much while being pregnant. Every day she asks to make “In-ge-di-ents”. She is such a good little kitchen helper, except when she sneaks about 20 chocolate chips. We have made about 200 cookies and treats for family and friends and packed them up in holiday boxes and trays. It’s such a nice gesture to give something made with love in your kitchen. OHHH and side track for a second…did I mention our kitchen renovation is finally complete…YESSS! I cannot wait to share photos. But anyways, you must try this healthy version of holiday bark. It is the perfect addition to your holiday baking repertoire. Everyone will enjoy this little superfood boost during the holidays. Oh and this recipe is totally kiddo approved!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pregnancy Update – 25 Weeks

Hope everyone had a very great thanksgiving filled with love, cheer, and full tummies!

When I looked at Willie the other night on the sofa and said, “I’m 6 months pregnant today” and his response was “No, can’t be…it’s too fast”. I knew I had to get some updates written down. I was all set on trying to write a pregnancy journal since I didn’t with Hartley, but just with everything going on I have had no time to commit to that. I have barley done my weekly bump shots. I have 7 bumpie’s out of the 25 I am supposed to have…whoops!

How far along? 

  • 25 Weeks + Day 6 – tracking right along for March due date – 100 more days to go!

Baby is now the size: 

  • About 13 1/2 inches. Her weight – 1 1/2 pounds – isn’t much more than an average rutabaga (according to my app)

Gender: 

  • Girl

Names:

  • Feeling some pressure on another girl name, but once list is narrowed down we will wait until she is here to decide.

Movement: 

  • Some days I can feel a lot more than others. Once I get Hartley to bed and sit down with my nightly cup of hot chocolate is when I finally get to relax and enjoy all the movement in my belly. It’s the best part of my day!

Sleep:

  • So far I’ve been able to stay comfortable and sleep a majority of the night unless Hartley or my bladder wakes me. I am starting over the knee compression socks to see if that helps with the veins and restless legs I experience sometimes.

Exercise:

  • Still working out about 5-6 days a week. I have modified some of my high intensity classes (like Kazaxe (dance class), Peloton, and Insanity) and hope to make it a few more weeks before it’s too much. Pure Barre has been an amazing once a week lunch workout treat. I’ve started to tell the difference and modifications needed for core work, but I swear it has kept the definition in my abs much longer than my first pregnancy. I also think it’s lifted my growing butt too. At the gym I am sticking to the elliptical and lower intensity stairmaster for my cardio. I’ve kept up with weights and have just lessened my lower body weight. I have narrowed down two yoga studios for prenatal yoga that I want to start in December. I’ve been getting light stretching in but not a regular yoga class since I was directed not to practice Bikram. Need to get my zen on!

How I’m Feeling:

  • Feel great. I’m one of those lucky women who LOVES being pregnant. Only thing really bothering me is my hips. They are pretty sore by the end of the day. Mentally I am a little drained with still being a full-time working mother, worried pregnant lady, holidays, social events, growing my blog business, and trying to finish some projects around the house before the baby. I know I’m killing Willie on trying to finish renos, but I want to be done and just able to enjoy my home.

Weight Gain/Skin:

  • About 17 pounds so far. I feel it mostly in my bottom half. My legs by genetics are the worst part of my body and boy do they take a beating while pregnant. I have a huge spot of spider veins that have popped up above my knee that are super painful at times?!?! With Hartley I had to get varicose vein removal too which was UGHHH the worst experience ever. Ohhh and is normal to be itchy EVERYWHERE!?!?

Food Cravings: 

  • Bagels, bread, muffins, cereal, sweets, sweets, and more sweets. I have been trying to enjoy a bit, but don’t want to indulge too much. My pregnancy diet is such a departure from my normal healthy diet, but temporary.

Food Aversions: 

  • I seem to have less and less interest in more and more foods. Nothing really satisfies or tastes amazing right now.

Survival Items:

  1. Earth Mama Natural Stretch Oil (swear by this stuff!)
  2. Rainbow Light Prenatal Multivitamin
  3. Spectrum Prenatal DHA
  4. Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant
  5. Maternity Leggings & Blanqi Belly Support Leggings

Reading List:

  1. Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy
  2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
  3. Birth Happy: The Savvy Woman’s Approach to a Satisfying Birth
  4. The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

Nursery Update:

  • Finished my changing table remodel. Found it for $10 at a yard sale. Painted it two-tone (pink was supposed to be rose color but more looks like Pepto-Bismol pink…oh well) and finished with pretty baskets and rose knobs (I will share later). Painted the nursery this weekend. Just used leftover paint from our main level living. It’s a stunning greige. I also found a large art piece from Target for above the crib. Probably not too much more since everything was in there from Hartley. Just need to switch their closets and just that organized as well.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roasted Squash Soup with Squash Bowls

For months I have been OBSESSED with the Whole Foods triple squash soup. It has a little texture of the fresh vegetables and is the perfect light lunch with amazing fall flavors. So on a mission to have this yummy soup year-round and control my ingredients, I created this recipe. Roasting the squash brings out the delicious flavor. Then you just simmer with a little coconut milk, broth, and spices, then it’s ready to be blended. Oh and can we talk about the stunning confetti squash bowls?!? How perfect are these as a first course for Thanksgiving?

Roasted Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Delicata Squash (peeled, deseeded, chopped)
  • 2 Butternut Squash (peeled, deseeded, chopped)
  • 2 Acorn Squash (halved, deseeded)
  • 1 Onion (chopped)
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil (just enough to cover all the squash)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 Can of Unsweetened Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1 Carton of Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tbsp. of Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 1 tsp. of Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. of Turmeric
  • 1 tsp. of Garlic Powder

Directions:

I used a triple squash combination of acorn, butternut and delicata.  For the butternut and delicata I peeled, deseeded, and diced into cubes. I put them on a baking sheets with one chopped onion, olive oil, salt and pepper. For the acorn, I just cut in half, deseeded, drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper. Both of these baking sheets I baked at 425F for 1 hour. Once cooked (should be able to pierce smoothly with fork) you can add to a simmering pot of broth, coconut milk, spices and fresh ginger for about 15-20 minutes. After simmering use an immersion blender or batch to a regular blender to create a smooth soup texture. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy! I topped mine off with a few pumpkin seeds too.

Note – this soup is diary free, gluten-free, vegan (sub honey), and can be made Whole30 or Paleo with the removal of honey and the maple syrup from the squash bowls. If making Whole30 or Paleo, be mindful of the broth and coconut milk ingredients. I’ve linked my favorite brands in the recipe. I also used all organic squash, which isn’t necessary but made it super clean all-around!

Squash Bowl

Ingredients:

  • Confetti Squash (if you can’t find these, acorn is pretty too)
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Drizzle of Maple Syrup
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Carefully cut off top off (about 1/2 inch down from top) and slight off bottom to enable the squash to sit flat. Cut a circle and pierce through with spoon to scoop all inside out. Drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for 45 minutes. I did not roast the top to keep it sturdy, but if you would like to, you can.

Adorning your Thanksgiving table with these cute little soup bowls will surely impress your guests. You could also treat your special someone to a fancy dinner at home and dress the table for them. Use things are the home to create a special tablescape. I used my grandmother’s china, thrift store napkins, pinecones I painted last year, and my stunning floral pumpkin centerpiece.

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Create a Maternity Closet on a Budget

Women normally need a good maternity wardrobe from about 4 months into their pregnancy to a month post-pregnancy. That’s a long time not to have enough pieces you can rock. But I also understand the huge commitment and hesitation of spending tons of money for new specific items.

So, here are my tips on how to incorporate your current closet while finding ways to save on maternity additions.

Evaluate Your Closet and Make it Last
  • First thing I did when I needed a little more breathing room was look for items that fit comfortably while also hiding my slightly growing belly until I was ready to share our news. For work I was able to wear loose blouses and leave a pant button open. There are also such great belly band options to make your pants last, I’ve just never invested in one because my thighs and hips seem to grow with my belly so I have to go up a pant size anyways.
  • Sweaters, wraps, stretchy tops and skirts, or drawstring pants that are already in your closet are fabulous for your first and into second trimester. For example at 21 weeks I’m wearing a non-maternity sweater dress with leggings and boots.
  • From my first pregnancy, even though babies will be born in completely different seasons, I was able to pull and incorporate the maternity clothes I had saved. Save everything! I was able to have jeans, work tops, summer dresses that I will pair with leggings for a fall look, and some workout pants and tanks.
Where/How To Buy Retail
  • You’ll be surprised at how many options you will have a more budget-friendly retailers like Old Navy, Target, Walmart, Zulily, and even Amazon. These retailers have a huge selection and enable you to buy more pieces for less.
  • Specialty shops like Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in a Pod are expensive, but by finding a factory outlet in your area let’s you wear their fabulous pieces on a budget. For this pregnancy I found two great patterned pants that I can dress-up for work or dress-down for weekends that were only $13 each on clearance. Our outlet also offers additional coupons via a coupon book, so don’t forget to ask the mall’s customer service!
  • Watch for department store sales. Macy’s was having an amazing maternity sale right at the beginning of my pregnancy. I went through and picked everything I loved that was on super clearance and with my mom’s additional coupon I was able to get about 10 pieces for around $150.  It was a wonderful birthday gift and actually made me super excited to start my belly bump journey again.
Buy/Rent Pre-owned Maternity Clothes
  • It wouldn’t be a post without me mentioning pre-owned clothing. There are just so many options for buying used maternity looks. Here are some places to look:
    • Thrift Store
    • Consignment Stores
    • Yard/Garage Sales
    • Craigslist, FreeCycle, FaceBook groups, and other online selling groups
    • ThredUP
  • Renting is also now a fabulous option for those special occasions during your pregnancy. Some options include Le Tote, Mine for Nine, and Borrow For Your Bump.
Friend Connections/Swaps
  • Having a friend almost identical in size is the best! One of my best friends has gotten through both of her pregnancies and breastfeeding phases without having to purchase much at all because her dear friend (even being across the country) sends her all her maternity/nursing clothes for her to use. Having this option is fabulous especially if you are having kids about a year apart.
  • Reach out to your friend network and see if anyone can lend you items or if you can buy them off them. This is a great way to recycle and also a way for them to feel great about cleaning out their closet.
  • If you have a lot of preggo friends, hosting a clothes swap is a fabulous way to get new looks throughout your pregnancy without spending a penny!

Pin and Share!

This is such an exciting time! Feel and look beautiful from the inside out and your mama glow will be just radiant!

Let me know if any of these tips work for your maternity fashion.