I can already tell this is going to be the kind of post that has me sitting down to write, not really sure of what's going to end up published when I get up.
I'm just going to write, ok? If I say something that doesn't make sense or you don't agree with or that resonates with you, I hope you feel comfortable speaking up (if you want to).
You may know that one thing I love in life is sharing a meal. I love a full house and full plates and bellies and lots of noise and laughter and nodding and chaos.
That happened in my house last night.
In the name of Food Day, I invited a few friends and family over. We had a potluck. My Lauterback side had me worried we wouldn't have enough. But we did.
There is always enough.
And I don't know, I guess I was kind of tired. I said a few things that I wish I had said better, and I did dwell on them. I felt pretty bad for not saying them better, not saying what I was really trying to say.
Those people in my house?
They're the kind of people that I CAN be my messy, tired, sometimes high-strung and/or spacey, I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing self with and know I am okay there. Do you know what I mean?
I feel like I've been wanting community, people I can be completely human with, for so long.
All along, they've been right there waiting for me. Waiting for me to be a little more honest, a little less trying-to-be-perfect, a little more willing to disagree or have a bad moment and not trying to make up for it in a hundred way. I little more willing to say I'm not a finished product. Will you bear with me?
Lately, I'm seeing that the more aware I am of myself (the good and the bad), the more I can let it go. I can relax. I can stop worrying if one perceived mistake wrecked everything.
When I relax, stop straining so much, my world kind of opens up.
Every one's evolving all the time, I think, so I don't know if my relationships are deepening or I'm just more open to them. More okay with screwing up if it means I'll just get back up again.
I get all kinds of grateful and journal-y whenever I have lots of noise and people and food over at my house, so maybe I need to do it more.
My favorite festival is Rodale's Organic Apple Festival. We went (with a sick baby) and loved it, as expected.
It happened on the first official day of fall and...although I no longer think I have a favorite season (it used to be fall) because living with Nolan is like living out every thing with fresh eyes and so much more is beautiful now...fall is already really, really good over here.
The season just kind of spilled out of that first day.
We did all get sick, one after another, but we went on an impromptu apple-picking trip. It was an off time, so we had the play area all to ourselves, almost the whole place to ourselves (with the exception of employees). We fed goats and chickens and tried apple cider donuts for the very first time.
My husband made apple sauce while Nolan and I slept and it. is. DELICIOUS.
I made this apple pie smoothie (making a few substitutions based on what I had available) which I had to wrestle from Nolan. (Really. Every time I tried to take a sip, he tried to pull it away from me. )
Tim introduced me to the simple but incredible dessert that is thin slices of fresh apple cooked in butter. (I will be eating those every day until I am tired of them.) (Maybe I'll try cooking in coconut oil, too?)
The "baby" (he's not so much baby any more) and I have been getting longer stretches of sleep- usually 4 to 5 hours in a row each night, which translates into a lot more joy for both of us. I have been laughing so much and so hard lately and crying some happy tears. I like that.
Once upon a time, I didn't eat meat. At all.
This made for memorable conversations. Questions about whether chicken or fish is considered meat. Arguments intended to change my mind. Dialogue with people who didn't or did agree with me, who knew more or less on the subject than me.
It was mostly enjoyable.
Because given an eating situation, I had a hard and fast rule: No Meat (including chicken and fish). My body felt pretty good about this, and so did I. I felt like I was doing something to alleviate stress on the planet. I felt good not eating meat when I knew its production requires so many resources while too many people go hungry. (Food and hunger is always a hot button issue for me.)
I remembered not only do I actually enjoy meat (once in a while), but I also felt good about supporting the farmers who were raising their animals on large pastures of grass, who made their living from taking care of chickens and collecting their eggs. Also, maybe my body was craving it? (It certainly was while I was pregnant. I was anemic, a problem that only changed once I started eating grassfed beef again.)
Some days I kind of miss the label.
It made food choices I felt good (or at least better) about easier for me. Some people were upset with me for it, some people did wonder where I got my protein.
But my issues with meat (the main one being the exorbitant resources it takes up) were alleviated.
A problem I have with not being a vegetarian is that it is too easy for me to slide away from choices I feel comfortable with, especially when I am in an unfamiliar environment...until I make some sort of "last straw" choice and I know I need to get back on the wagon NOW. (I'm not very good at the "wait til Monday" or "wait til I get home" changes.)
A last straw choice happened last night.
Which means I'm "back on the wagon" today.
I find myself sort of wishing food blogging was my thing, because it would bring me some accountability. But it isn't. Also, my camera chord is at home, and I don't need a third blog to keep up with (not that I exactly keep up with this one). (Click here if you want to know what we've been doing behind the scenes at The Social Eater.)
Still, I am going to record my food choices this week. I'll just kind of keep a running record under the tab "7 Days of Conscious Eating." No pictures for awhile.
Follow along if you're interested, of course.
What do you do when you find yourself straying from choices you feel are important?
I am a lover of food (for so many reasons! You might already know this.).
I appreciate healthy, satisfying meals.
I thrive on meals that are shared with others (even if they aren't the healthiest).
I think that food can be community glue.
I think there is more than one "best" way to eat because no two bodies are the same and because our bodies change in chemistry every few years.
Since the arrival of my baby boy and my new role as a mother, I've been experimenting with my approach to food. I need to marry my love of community-glue-meals, my adventurous palate, and my need for nourishing food that fuels days that include, but are not limited to, taking care of an active little boy.
I'm sharing what works for me right now because recently, I've seen that every time I share something that's is important to me or is a need, especially when it comes to something parenthood-related, there is always someone (often several someones) that come out of the woodwork to say, "me, too!" And usually me, too, and this is my take.
I love that.
How I approach food to fuel motherhood
- I don't eat any added sugar from Monday to Thursday. I do this to avoid sugar crashes and sugar "hangovers." Maybe I've become more sensitive to sugar with pregnancy, but those things are real. Most of the time, I can't afford them.
- By Friday afternoon, I kind of feel I've earned a real dessert (added sugar included) and I'm ready to kick back and relax. Tim will be with me much of the time, so I don't have to be so concerned with being on top of things constantly. This means dessert is a-okay.
- I allow myself to have whatever I want all weekend, including sweets. I'm still aware of how my choices make me feel, and I still make a lot of my usual healthy choices. I do say yes to the cake with the perfect icing that so many weekend parties seem to have and even eat dessert every day (if I actually want those things).
- I avoid sugar later in the evening on Sundays to avoid a sugar hangover on Monday.
- I drink coffee. I know a lot of moms don't, but this mom most certainly does...and I'm not looking to give it up any time soon.
- I eat a lot of plant-based fat. Peanut butter, avocado, olive oil.
- I don't subscribe to any one diet (as soon as I even try to, I am in mental rebellion), but my eating style is probably closest to Clean Eating during the week.
- I try to eat as much as often as I am hungry. Sometimes this is 3-4 times, and sometimes it is 6-7.
Now I'm curious- do you have a role you purposely fuel for? Nurse? Runner? Parent? Something else? What is it and what is your approach?
Yesterday was my birthday. It was perfect, thanks in part to so many people that I felt I just had to find a way to pay homage to all of them. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but yesterday was just so full of good that I have a feeling I likely did. Still, if you played a part in making the day so refreshing and beautiful and special, thank you. My heart is full, and I am so grateful to have the friends and family I do.
Nolan has changed yet another part of me (in a good way) because most years I have "needed" the day to be perfect (whatever that means) and FULL of celebration. Those are good things, but usually I will put too much pressure on it which kind of takes away from the fun.
This year, I just wanted to go to Rodale's Tulip Festival with my family; I wanted to bask in mass quantities of my favorite flower and show them to Nolan. I wanted to go on a date with my husband. Since those events were already on the books, I took on a much more relaxed approach to the day. I was free to enjoy it.
And enjoy it I did.
Some of my favorite parts:
-Snuggle time with Tim and Nolan in the morning. Oh MY, you should see this baby in the morning. He is chatty and happy and so excited that hey! all 3 of us are together! I love it when we can all lounge in bed together.
-An hour long conversation with my sister. It made it seem like she's not so far away. Also? She's getting MARRIED to a man who is perfect for her, and I'm so excited for them and her and OK, me,too because I just got a new brother-in-law whom I adore.
-Two hilarious phone messages, one each from Katie and Steven. Really. I laughed out loud.
-Tim took care of Nolan while I did Yoga for the Warrior. I'm getting closer to being able to do Bird of Paradise! (See below if you're wondering what I'm talking about.)
-Birthday mail! My favorite piece today was a card from my friend Kristen T. I'm pretty sure Kristen is my long-lost sister. Words from her just kind of seep into my heart and fill in the cracks.
-The Tulip festival! Rodale is a bit of a drive for us, so it meant time for Tim and I to talk. When we got there (after a bit of a panic because oh, no! We were going to be late! I HATE being late and making people wait), I fully sunk into Tim's everything is going to turn out fine and soaked up an hour and a half of wandering through fields, rows of beautiful flowers, and what I think is going to be Rodale's kids' summer camp with Tim, Nolan, Mary Ellen, Bill, Steph, Eric, and my mom.
Can I just tell you how much I love my family? I had a blast just taking in the scenery and exploring the grounds with these people who I feel so lucky to have in my life. And I got to watch them love my son. There's not a lot that can fill my heart like watching people love my baby well. (Also? You should have seen Bill with that little boy. They looked like they were just meant to be together, chilling, and taking in the sights. Ho.ly.Cow.)
-Tim and I went on a date! Just the two of us! I'm not quite sure when the last time that happened. I mean, my parents offer to watch Nolan often, but we usually have to use that time to work on homework or complete a project. But today? No projects, no homework. We wandered into a health food store when we arrived a bit too early for dinner (I got a few new things to play with- dried cherries with no sugar added, coconut oil, and fair trade cocoa nibs.) and then ate quite possibly our best dinner out to date.
Tim's cousin, Stacey, has been recommending The Farmhouse for quite some time, and I'm so glad she has. Words are my love language, but right after that? Food. Really good, well-thought-out food. The Farmhouse does that kind of food well. They source local and organic ingredients whenever possible (part of why it tastes so good- it's fresh!), aren't afraid to use fat (hello butter, pancetta, cream, and duck fat) and are creative with their menu offerings. Love, love, love. I'll certainly be talking about this meal for quite some time.
Oh, and our server? Amazing. I'll be contacting The Farmhouse to find out her name (we were at Table 3 at 5 o'clock) because she was just that good. Guessed immediately that I love mojitos, works there because she loves the food just that much, had great ideas and tips on what to order, and was so sweet and fun. To our server- I'm so sorry I don't remember your name! But I'll be finding it out and remembering it. You helped make our dinner so wonderful.
-With my love tank full, thanks to all the great conversation, experiences, sweet birthday messages (in email, text, and written, and facebook form) and amazing food, I returned (with Tim) to pick up my son, refreshed. Snuggles happened immediately, of course.
-As a perfect topper to the day, my dad presented me with two cookbooks he personally picked out for me. My dad essentially works two jobs, is training for a marathon,and is in the middle of a construction project at home (plus he tries to spend as much time with his grandson as he can!). He doesn't have a lot of extra time to be picking out presents, but he DID. And he picked out ones that perfectly suit my interests. That made me feel like a million bucks.
-And then my mother handed me giant organic chocolate cupcakes.
I read a lot of quality material each week. During that process, I often come across posts that I just have to share with you. Some of them are thought-provoking, some of them are food-related, and some of them are about cheap or free things that are so good I'd almost rather keep them to myself. This week...
In honor of her new site, Jaimie is giving away a pair of Not Even a Sparrow earrings here. Although her site is still in progress, you can still see some of her wares if you check out the Shop section. Absolutely adorable! I used one of her blooms to dress up my pregnancy uniform in this picture:
Jeane' is hosting a 400th post giveaway here just to show appreciation to her readers- so generous! One person is going to win quite the pile of loot. There is jewelry, coffee, hand-crafted cards, and Mrs. Meyers products at stake. I'm almost drooling.
Most of the contents of both giveaways are female-oriented, but guys? Christmas is coming up, and both giveaways are open to both men and women.
Ok, time to shut my mouth about those now. I mean, I do kind of want to win myself .
I'm a fan of Broke Ass Gourmet. Since I'm always interested in saving money and eating great food, this site is right up my alley. I'm particularly interested in trying Poached Eggs over Garlicky Kale.
Heather's Dish posted a recipe for Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Shallots and Roasted Butternut Squash that looks so good to me. If brussel sprouts and butternut squash don't excite you, please head over to her site and check out the final product. You might change your mind. I mean, there is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots and parmesan cheese involved.
Another cooking site I'm a fairly recent fan of is Three Many Cooks. There are recipes and stories to go with the recipes (but posted separately, so if you're not into one or the other, you can just skip it). The most recent post, A Real Grown-up Dinner Party, reminded me of so much of what I love about cooking and sharing meals (and the accompanying recipe- Roasted Sugar Pumpkins with Cheese Fondue- looks absolutely delicious!).
(Does anyone want to come over and cook for me?)
Small Farmers. Big Change outlines some serious drama going on in the Fair Trade world right now in this post. Currently, it looks like Fair Trade USA is in the process of making their own fair trade rules and making it easy for companies to get fair trade-certified and then go on with production without a whole lot of accountability or fair trade requirements. I'm hesitant to bring this up because I don't want to cause anyone to give up on supporting fair trade. Ultimately, though, I think it's important we all do our research and know who and what we are supporting with our purchases, so...I'll keep you posted as I can.
I'm thinking it's about time I wrap this series up. I mean, pretty much. Being the food-lover that I am, the same topic is bound to come up again.
I'd gone meatless for about 9 months, flip-flopped back to eating meat, then back to meatless again.
There's a lot I could write about the process, but for the sake of being (sort of) succinct, I'm going to tell you right now what I think are the most important things that have come out of the eating journey I've been on and also where I'm at now.
My original intentions for eschewing meat were mostly a reaction to a problem I saw. Hunger + a lot of water and grain used to produce meat= eating meat not making sense to me. I felt really good without meat in my life. Making one decision in response to a conviction I felt led to other unexpected places to explore. Things like how food choices effect the environment, communities, families, and my own body. I realized I cared (and still do care) about all of those things because they are all gifts of sorts, components of life humans are responsible for because they sustain life. And we all want a full and satisfying life, don't we?
I am still on this journey. The life journey, the how my decisions effect so many big-deal aspects of living journey, the what-I-put-in-my-mouth journey.
About those months that I chose to try eating meat before I pushed it all away again at the thought that I had just eaten Roy Roger's chicken and I'm not entirely sure it was chicken- I really love food, people. I mean, really. I think there is so much meaning in it, in all kinds of ways. Sometimes, I just want to try the drool-worthy pulled pork my cousin just made or the perfect steak my dad just grilled. Most of the time (pre-pregnancy), I feel best on a mostly vegan diet, with some organic eggs thrown in. I really don't need a lot of meat in my life...but occasionally, I do. I'm actually fairly iron-deficient, even without a baby taking what iron I do have, and although I tend to eat a lot of beans and spinach, it hasn't been enough.
I was calling myself a vegetarian to make things easier for everyone else, but I was feeling guilty during those times I wanted to eat meat... even though I do believe that meat can be eaten in a way that is thoughtful to the environment, communities, hunger issues, families, and my body. I didn't like being told what to do by myself. I didn't know how to explain ok, I'm only okay with eating certain kinds of meat, so I usually just don't eat it, but I am okay with this particular beef, so that's why I'm eating it now and not the meatloaf you made for dinner last Saturday.
So I didn't. And in trying to shove away the rules, the labels, the how do I explain this to everyone, I ended up behaving in a way that is opposite of what I believe to be true.
That is part of my journey.
Today, I no longer call myself a vegetarian. What I do:
- I do say, "I don't eat a whole lot of meat." Which is generally true.
- I do think it's important to limit consumption of meat to benefit all of the categories (environment, communities, families, and self) already listed.
- I do think it's important to get educated on how food choices effect all of those categories.
- I do actively seek that education (which is an ongoing process).
- I do think it's important to make the best decisions I can in a given moment, not only for me, but also for all of those same categories I keep mentioning...
- ...without going crazy...
- but also not using "not going crazy" as an excuse.
...maybe check out one of these locations?
Share Our Strength's Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Event is going on through Saturday.
All you have to do to participate is eat at a participating restaurant (and pay for your meal, of course.)
Funds raised go towards
- Helping to feed more kids during the summer when school lunches are not available.
- Helping more kids start the school day off right by connecting them to school breakfast.
- Helping after-school programs provide nutritious meals and snacks.
- Helping families get the food they need at home, by improving access to SNAP (food stamps) and WIC.
- Teaching families how to prepare affordable, healthy meals, and bringing fresh and healthy food options to high-risk communities.
(List taken from Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry main page.)
If you're going to eat out anyway, why not help feed someone else in the process?
I was planning to write the last installment in my The Path of a Sometimes Vegetarian series. After all, there is a conclusion, and it seems fitting that I share it after 2 ramble-y posts about how I've come to meat-related choices in the past.
But the air's been crisp for days. Still climbing in temperature for hours at a time, but every day, there has been at least a few moments that have felt like fall.
The scarves and jeans, pumpkin, apple picking, apples, apples, apples, perfect hiking weather, hot coffee, coziness, and vibrant falling leaves come together to make fall my favorite season.
I know it isn't technically fall yet.
But it feels like it, and I've had my first tastes of it in the forms of all of the above.
So yesterday, instead of writing about meat, I decided to celebrate by turning freshly-picked apples and cans of pumpkin puree into edible, somewhat healthy, and (crossing my fingers) delicious expressions of the season.
I chopped, stirred, and measured.
I had chocolate and ice cream readily available to me even before apple muffins and pumpkin pie came out of my oven, and in full celebration mode, I wanted some of everything.
Have some of everything I did.
(It was all delicious.)
And it was too much. Too much food, too much sugar, too much weight in my belly.
I'm a little embarrassed by the "too much" part of things. Mostly because of my history with overeating as a coping mechanism. Because I've learned that listening to my body leads me to be a better fill-in-a-role-here. Because I feel I (and everyone around me) deserve better.
So, okay, I celebrated. I went a little too far. Carbs and sugar are my alcohol of choice. If I could go back, I'd rein it in a little, but I can't, and I know that I get an opportunity to make a better choice very soon.
And I celebrated. Fall. My favorite season, and even better? The season my son will be born in.
Who can be too upset about that?
I'm linking up with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary's series,
I like to think of myself as well-informed when it comes to pregnancy. I read articles, books, and blogs. I ask questions, take classes, and welcome stories and advice from seasoned mothers.
But for all of my preparation, there have been some aspects of pregnancy that I did not see coming.
1. I really like pizza.
I was a not a big fan pre-pregnancy. I would eat it, and even relish a particularly well-made slice, but I can't say it would ever have been my first choice. I'm still not a fan of every single variety, but I think I could easily go for pizza several times a week and not get tired of it. In fact, I am convinced my life would significantly improve with easy access to a pizza stone, a pizza peel, and a Mellow Mushroom franchise.
2. Not everything the experts tell you about what you're husband is going through will be true for him.
I read newsletters and articles include intentions of providing me with a heads-up on what Tim might be dealing with (related to pregnancy, birth, and becoming a dad). But just because a respected source says it's true, doesn't mean it is. There is one way to find out: talk about it.
3. I've become a lot more bold. I say more of what's on my mind (in person and not just in written words anymore). I aim to do it in a way that is considerate of others, but I'm a lot less...inhibited? I approach people I don't really know for conversation and I've attended parties where I didn't know anyone but the host (I've had a good time doing both!). I think I've lost some of my filter, and I really like it.
4. My thing with binging? It's been slipping away. I have had days where the amount of sugar versus the amount of substantial food I ate was way too high, but I'm not quite sure the last time I binged. I could guess at a few reasons for that, and I'm not counting my worst default coping mechanism as gone forever, but...it feels pretty good to know that while I'm doing what I can to give my baby a healthy body and environment, he's helping me get healthy.
5. My teeth are turning colors! It's not a direct result of pregnancy, but all that liquid iron I'm taking to try to up my iron levels? It's turning my front teeth a blu-ish/black-ish color. All in the name of a healthy labor!
(Photo credit for the pizza belongs here.)