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Link Love

Tim and I are off on an adventure!

In the meantime, I want to share some of my favorite posts out of those I've come across this week:

My Friend is Sick: Should I Give Food or Money Jeannett brings up some great points and ideas about giving within our own cultures. (I'm hoping I remember her words when the next occasion arises!)

The Friend I Want to Be Kelle has me inspired to practice being a better friend right now.

Palms Up Stephanie writes candidly about her own efforts to encourage intentionally.

Recipes for Mom Ashley provides a detailed tutorial on how to cook dried chick peas- and how to do it well. (Hello, money saver!)

What are some of your favorite posts or articles from this week?


Cookies for New Mamas

It's baby season in my world.

Not just me.

I can think of at least 6 women I know outside of the blogosphere who are about to have a baby in the next few months, many of them estimated to give birth within the same week I am.

I'm not quite sure when, or where, but I came across category of recipes called "lactation cookies." It's sounds at least a little bit strange, right?

Really, they're just oatmeal cookies with a couple of extra ingredients intended to help new mamas produce more milk.

They're safe for anyone else to eat.

They won't cause your husband/boyfriend/brother/non-lactating female friend to start producing milk.

They could be something sweet, satisfying, and maybe helpful that I could give to the new mamas I know. Even if some choose not to breastfeed, life with a newborn calls for a supply of healthy and easy-to-grab snacks, right?

So I tried my hand at a batch, this one intended for my sweet friend, Kristen, who is due to give birth to her baby girl in about a week.

I subbed sweetened dried cranberries for more commonly used chocolate chips, due to the recent heat, and the fact that they would need to make a trip cross-country.

The result?

Tasty. Granola-like. But dry and crumbly.

These will not make the trip intact ( but maybe as granola, as my husband suggested?).

Has anyone made lactation cookies before? Do you have a go-to, non-crumbly recipe you would share with me?


Revved Up

[Photo credit: Oxmoor House]

Last week, I settled into a pattern of "lay down for a nap after lunch" (and faced consequences when I didn't.)

This week, I am still taking naps. Or sleeping in. Or both.

But I've added a new pattern: on alternating days I have a strong urge to clean/organize/ purge my house of all unnecessary items or cook/bake.

Today was a cooking/baking day. By the time the desire to cook up a storm came on, I had about 2 1/2 hours to get to, in, and out of the grocery store and farmers market and put together the 4 recipes I had my eye on.

I ended up making two, both from skinnytaste ,but they were the ones I was most excited about, so I'm happy.

I'm really digging this cooking thing, even more so than usual.

I've been stressing myself for awhile about how to feed me, Tim, this baby, and whoever we might be sharing our food with in a way that is healthy and enjoyable to more than just me (because I do like to eat some pretty strange things, by some standards).

No one is going to want to eat my healthy food if it isn't satisfying.

People are not going to want to eat at my house if I don't step things up. My husband is not going to want to eat at my house if I don't figure some things out.

Eating well is important to me for quality of life, and I'm not willing to give that up.

Recently, I came across a few blogs written by women who are or have been vegetarians cooking for themselves and their meat-loving men.

I also recently discovered the treasure that is skinnytaste. It's written by a woman on Weight Watchers who loves food and wants to eat well. I'm not at all interested in participating in Weight Watchers, but still,  her blog has me revved up (after all, I love food and want to eat well, too- and there are pretty pictures of food to look at!). There are all kinds of healthy recipes on that site- surely "something for everyone."

I realized I just might have been making this healthy-eating-for-two-different-palates thing more difficult than it needed to be.

While I loved and got excited about food before, I'm now even more motivated to try new recipes (keeping in mind they might not all be winners) and feed my family well.

Some recipes I've cooked up this week (all of which I've slightly adapted, mostly to up nutrition):

Cooking Light's Classic Pesto - We are both lovers of pesto over here- and I got to use basil from our garden!

Cooking Light's Spinach Artichoke Dip- It doesn't really need the mayo or the bacon to come out tasting incredible. And I mean incredible.

Skinnytaste's Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread-I was almost late for my yoga class tonight, because I just had to have some. With peanut butter on top. And a glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Skinnytaste's Buffalo Chicken Dip- I couldn't resist making this for Tim. Making things that I think he'll love makes me happy- as does the fact that the chicken comes from a local, organic source.

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Meal Plan Monday

I didn't end up making every meal planned last week. (The frittata got the boot.)

I did end up springing for cherries, naan, and a few Clif bars.

My total bill for last week? $67.81

My total for this week: $102.54

In my defense, I re-stocked up on quite a few items this week-including baking ingredients and condiments I'd run out of. I bought chocolate chips- which is a splurge for me, since I'm only ok with buying the fair trade kind.  I put thought into snacks. I tried harder to pick up things I know my husband already enjoys (he hasn't broken into the burgers yet, so I think I'm doing alright).

I'm also kind of hoping I can stretch part of this week's plan into next.

We'll see. I'm not going to deprive us, but I still believe we can spend less, eat well, and be satisfied.

Here's what I'm planning on making this week (although I haven't completely determined what's going to be served with what. I'm pretty sure I could eat some of the sides I have planned for my entire meal and be happy.):

1. Veganomicon's Snobby Joes. This is a tried and true recipe for me. I love, love, love this stuff and will eat it with a spoon, on a bun, cold, hot, whatever. I love this stuff, and I can say with confidence that Tim likes it, so it's back on the menu this week.

2. I'm thinking of serving the above main dish withDouglas McNish's "Sour Cream" and Onion Kale Chips. I've heard many times just how good kale chips are and have yet to make them...but if they're that good, maybe that's all I want to eat? Considering the cashews in this recipe, I think the chips just might be filling enough.

3. Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf from Eat Live Run. This is another tried and true recipe- if I'm completely honest, my love is mostly for the glaze that goes on top. I'm plan on making extra glaze to drizzle on individual servings this time. Oh, that stuff is so good! 


4. A hybrid of Carmelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Vegan Gravy from Daily Garnish and High Protein Mashed Potatoes from Oh She Glows.

5. Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Daily Garnish.


It looks like I'm craving comfort food this week! What are you craving?


Comfort Eating

I think I woke up grumpy this morning. I just wanted to go back to bed, sleep for another hour or two, and start over.

Lucky for me, my husband knows and loves me well and knew something was up. He said something (I don't remember what it was now!) that had me cracking a smile, after which I ventured downstairs to come up with something to bring make, pack, and eat for breakfast.

Nothing looked good.

I briefly considered  stuffing any combination of sweet and fatty into my mouth...for comfort, for relief, for numbing, really. (I was still feeling pretty grumpy.)

Except that lately, that's not me anymore. Something about listening to the way my body feels when I eat meat and then not eating it anymore...something about this baby growing inside of me (and maybe one or two other changes)...has me doing pretty well with intuitive eating- even intuitive exercising. I feel great.

(Stuffing my face doesn't leave me feeling great. )

But I have this sort of love affair going on with food. I enjoy the process of eating, of preparing, of textures and flavors. That interest is not likely to end.


I came up with a new definition of what it means for me to comfort eat.

And then I made myself  a bowl of comfort. I chopped and stirred and measured-in preparation of eating something entirely soothing- when my body was ready for it.

That's about 1/3 cup oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 chopped granny smith apple, cinnamon, a little earth balance, a little sucanat, a chopped-up mini apple pie Lara bar, and a spoonful of peanut butter.

Thanks to my sweet husband, a short prayer, and a realization that I can choose my attitude, I was already on my way to coming out of my wrong-side-of-the-bed mindset. But after making that bowl of oatmeal? I was all the way out.


Meal Plan Monday

Over the weekend, my sister-in-law was married to the man she loves. It was beautiful, oozing with celebration and, quite possibly, the most fun I've ever had at a wedding. I danced until I no longer wanted to dance, gave a toast I'm proud of, and stayed until the party ended.

I'll certainly be posting pictures as soon as I get my eager hands on the ones I'm waiting for, but here's a little sneak peak:

Love it (and them).

On to today.

I've recently gone back to my vegetarian ways. My husband and I have very different tastes in food, so taking out the meat poses even more of a challenge (that I'm excited to take on). I'm also trying to cut back on grocery spending a bit (in the midst of a growing appetite-another challenge I'm oddly excited about) and am pretty much in nesting mode.

Enter Meal Plan Monday.

Last night, I planned out 5 dinners satisfy all of the following criteria:

-I think they will satisfy both Tim and I.

-They include at least some ingredients we already have at home.

-No meat. (We do have frozen hamburgers, if Tim should start feeling deprived.)

-Are not expensive to make.

I ventured out, used a few applicable coupons (I refuse to buy something just because I have a coupon, but coupons for Stonyfield, Nature's Promise, or a number or percentage off my bill certainly come in handy.), and filled my (mini) cart.

Food for the next week: $62. 79.  (I only planned 5 dinners, but I also have on hand- and picked up a few things- for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. I also have back-ups, should our leftovers not last us the remaining 2 days in the week.)

The plan for this week (in no particular order- I plan to make these on the days they sound best.):

1. Veggie Oat Burgers from The Granola Chronicles + local corn on the cob


2. Vegetarian Nachos (no real recipe here, just a mish-mosh of tortilla  chips, lentils, taco seasoning, salsa, onion, guacamole, sour cream, and cheddar or Daiya.

3. Roasted Broccoli and Corn Frittata from Eat Live Run+ roasted potatoes. [photo]

4. Channa  Masala -also from Eat Live Run- served with basmati brown rice. [source]

5.  Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese, modified from a recipe found on Lovely as Charged, + roasted broccoli.

And there we have it!

What are you eating this week?


Hey, There

(Are you ready for strawberry-picking season? I am.)

It's been a few days since my last post.

Which is of no consequence, really, because blogging is not my job (although some days I wish it was), and everyone will get along just fine without yet another peak into the mess that is my brain.

Except I want to write.

Writing is such an outlet for me. In the same way that runners and painters find release in the activities that label them as such, I guess I am a writer. Not because anyone else says so; writing is just part of who I am. I think I've been this way ever since I learned about written words.

I haven't written (even though I've wanted to) because there is a lot swirling around inside of me right now, and I really don't think I'm ready to let everything settle down into neat little topics just yet. (Nothing bad! In fact, I haven't even been binging.) Luckily, a couple of much-loved bloggers gave me an easy out: blog awards. Which means I share 7 things about myself right here. That works out for me because I love lists, and it gets me writing.

1. I think I just shared one: I love lists. Whenever I am looking forward to something, there will be lists. All kinds of lists. Lists of meal ideas, tasks, and brainstorms. If you see me writing a list, you know I'm ready to celebrate something.

2. I have two pink birth marks- one on my foot, and one on my butt. I really like them; I think I always have.

3. I'm convinced I like anything coconut. Have I mentioned this before? My current stock of coconut is as follows: unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut butter, and cacao coconut butter.

4. I'm planning on buying some chocolate chip cookie dough coconut milk ice cream in celebration of my next birthday.

5. I am a processor. I cannot usually have an in-depth discussion all at once. I'll have it, but I'll most likely get to the heart of things over time (sometimes over night and sometime over years).

6. I have never owned a bikini. At one point, I determined I would as a sign of comfort in my own skin, but I have yet to follow through.

7. One of my best foodie memories is of the day my sister and I spent hours on a big Italian going-away-party feast before she left for Mississippi. There was just enough excitement, sweat, chopping, anticipation, and hurry-it-up-a-little to make for a perfect day.

Thank you, Michelle and Courtney, for helping me do a bit of what I love today.


Saturday Best

One of my big triumphs of the weekend? I brought back this sexy look.Ahem.

Why did I ever stop doing yoga? For a woman like me, whose internal compass seems set on "high strung," chilling the heck out for at least an hour a few times a week does wonders. Wonders. The benefits are physical, mental, and spiritual.

I am a professed lover of yoga.

I had grand plans of keeping up with yoga while training for a half marathon. Then I threw in classes and life changes, and it just wasn't happening. I thrive on yoga, but I also thrive on sharing cups of coffee, meals and child care with the people who do life with me. I was not wanting to give up time with people for a life of nothing but work, books, and exercise.

(And maybe I was a little unintentional along the way.)

Running 13(.1) miles got kicked to the curb, because guess what? I'm still working on getting healthy (in all capacities) and part of that is recognizing how I am designed and then honoring that. I have felt great many times after a 4 mile run, but a double-digit run? Doesn't make my body feel good at all. At this point in my life, honoring my composition seems pretty important.

I feel best when I...

...practice yoga regularly.

...spend plenty of time in the kitchen. (I actually rarely feel the old familiar urge to binge when I give myself plenty of time to create yummy things.)

...take the opportunity to walk in the sunshine with my husband, when maybe we both might just as soon collapse on the nearest couch.

...and spend some time writing every day.

...act on the occasional impulse to sing at the top of my lungs or dance in the living room. books by people much smarter than me.

...find ways to celebrate and then follow through.

What about you? What do you do that leaves you feeling your best?


What I Am Hoping To Get Out of This

The first day of February brought me a snow day to help me ease into my goal for the month.Perfect timing.  (Breakfast was a basic Green Monster smoothie, a toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin with a tablespoon of cashew butter, extra cinnamon sprinkled on top, and a cup of coffee...and then a second cup of coffee later on.)

Today marks the first day out of twenty-eight that I commit to blogging everything I eat (not necessarily everything I drink- there may be many a glass of unsweetened tea, water, black coffee or flavored seltzer that goes undocumented. Everything else will be snapped and posted.)

My line of thinking goes something like this:

The commitment to post everything I eat will bring me accountability, of course, which will lead to the likelihood of a lot less overeating on my part...The idea of displaying everything I eat already has me more conscious of what I'm eating, more inspired, more excited to be in the kitchen...Cooking is fun, but lately I've been feeling so overwhelmed by it. (How do I make meals that are healthy and please both Tim and I without spending all our savings on meat and dairy that isn't pumped full of antibiotics?)

Of course, I know it isn't "my job" to cook for both Tim and I every night, but still a guilt of sorts has been weighing me down. I love the kitchen; I love to chop and create and nourish. I seek out retail therapy at the grocery store, but I've been shy and overwhelmed in the kitchen lately. A defeated attitude has been creeping in lately, and I don't like it. The kitchen is a place for therapy, comfort, trial and error, and messes. Not anxiety.

So I stepped into the kitchen today with one thing on my mind: Enjoy.

Enjoy I did. In the process, I made:

  • Caramelized Onion, Asparagus, and Parmesan Quiche (I used a Wholly Wholesome whole wheat crust and adapted the recipe based on one found at Weekly Bite and previous quiche-making experience.
  • apple pie (also using a Wholly Wholesome  whole wheat crust and based on the recipe on the back of the package)
  • whipped cream
  • my favorite hummus
  • vegetable "fried" brown rice

Ladies and Gentlemen, you may just witness the evolution of a wannabe cook over this next month.

All that cooking and cleaning up (in addition to the workout I broke for in the middle of the day) called for some refueling.An apple to tide me over until I could pull lunch together

Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger, extra sharp cheddar, and avocado on an Ezekiel hamburger bun.

Two squares of really great dark chocolate to signal the end of the meal (I did this after dinner, too, but neglected to take a picture the second time).

Another apple to tide me over until I could pull dinner together.

Vegetable "fried" brown rice and steamed edamame.

Oh, and that apple pie? I made it with Tim in mind, but I couldn't resist a taste test. I cut a small piece, added a dollop of whipped cream and a little plain Greek yogurt for staying power (+ a mug of decaf French vanilla coffee for perfection's sake) and closed the kitchen.

But I'll be back tomorrow.


No Better Time to Enjoy the Present

Tim was away this past weekend, speaking at a junior high retreat about 2 hours away from home. So I made some plans. Of course, I forgot to take pictures as I usually do when I'm soaked up in any sort of activity. Just imagine my face looked something like this during much of the weekend:I went to a fantastic Zumba class with my mama, a restorative yoga class with my mother-in-law (which I went to in an effort to help her get into yoga, but  the class actually ended up helping me- isn't that the way "helping people" tends to go?). I visited friends, cooked meals, organized and hosted a Girls Night In, cleaned a lot, attended a church I think I'm falling in love with (I was able to sit right next to my sister-in-law and also share the experience with a few more friends.), went for a run, and spent all of Sunday evening catching up and relaxing with my hubby.

I think there was not a moment I didn't enjoy.

Last Friday, before the official end of the work week, a dear friend of mine reminded me to be present in everything  I did over the weekend. I think I might have accomplished that...or  at least I came quite close.

Near the beginning of the weekend, I was telling "my Jaimie" that, although I'm really liking where I'm at in life, I'd recently started pining after motherhood again after watching Modern Family (I realize that is probably a strange trigger, but it's true.) By the end of the weekend, though, by the time meals and stories and new experiences had been shared with friends in a number of seasons of life, I was reminded again to enjoy this season.

There will never be a better time to enjoy the present.