I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee while Nolan naps. There are maybe a thousand other things I could be doing, but I think I just need to sit down with this coffee and pour my heart out a bit. You know, like I might if you and I were curled up in some cozy coffee shop with steaming cups, good childcare, and some free time.
My heart is just...heavy. But not in a bad way.
We are moving closer to adopting. I am looking for a job that will help to pay to bring my baby (who might not actually be a baby, I don't know) home while still having the flexibility to nurture him or her into feeling like they are home. It's a challenge, but I'm trying.
I read this post this morning. It's about a family's visit to an orphanage. Because pictures aren't allowed, the author paints a picture with her words. Those words just kind of sit inside like a rock, weighing me down.
I lifted Nolan from his crib soon after; I couldn't help but think about how he'll be as a big brother...and be excited.
Motherhood has changed me in more ways that I even considered.
I'm going to tell you something, and I think you might think I'm crazy. I think this because I really didn't understand these thoughts before I had them myself, but...thinking about calves being taken away from their mothers so the moms can be milked to make me cheese and yogurt is breaking my heart lately.
I went vegetarian a few years ago (then stopped, started again, stopped...), but even then, it had nothing to do with the animals. I did not really care about the animals.
I don't know if it's because I have my own baby (who's not a baby anymore) or something else, but I do care now.
The whole motherless babies thing is killing me right now.
I just want to snuggle all of them or know that someone else is doing that. I want them to feel and be loved. I don't want them to feel abandoned or betrayed or hopeless.
I want them to know what it feels like to melt into the arms of a person who really, truly loves them and will hold them as long as they need.
If you're interested, here are some great adoption-related blogs I read
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?
This post is part 2 of a 3-part series. To catch up, check out Part 1 here.
About 9 months into my non meat-eating escapades, I started to think that maybe I could eat some meat in keeping with my desire not to use up pounds and pounds of resources in order to do so. I could eat local grass-fed beef! Free-range chicken! Wild caught fish!
Bonus? Meal times in my house would be a lot easier.
I thought about it and thought about it, and one day I just did.
And then I did it again.
In fact, I ate local, organic, grass-fed beef for dinner the night Tim and I told my parents and siblings about my pregnancy. It was delicious. I mean, really delicious.
Here's the thing, though.
There are a lot of means to producing a pound of meat out there. Steps in quality, if you will. Maybe I didn't view my new ventures into local, organic, and grass-fed meats strictly enough, because soon I was taking those steps, making compromises in my eating choices...until one day, I sat at a rest stop eating Roy Roger's chicken tenders.
I was grossed out.
I needed to be done eating meat for awhile because with too loose a rein, I was no longer doing well with making choices in keeping with my own convictions.
So I stopped. With the very next meal.
I realize I can be a bit difficult to keep up with. Sometimes I will be asked, "do you eat meat right now?" It's a completely fair question. Because while I will sometimes call myself a vegetarian to make the answer obvious, I'm on a path. I veer. I've made choices I'm not proud of (and some I am proud of!). I've made exceptions while calling myself a vegetarian for differing reasons. I'm learning.
For me, it was never about the label. I don't need it. Labels don't define any one person as it is. They don't talk about heart, about value, about passions. They can give a starting point from which to have a conversation, and they can make understanding a bit easier for someone wanting to know (or in my case, cook for!) the labelled person.
And that's a very good thing, because understanding where I stand on food issues has been quite an (unexpected) process even for me.
I stopped eating meat the day after Christmas nearly 2 years ago.
I'd been on my way down that path for awhile, my sister was doing it so I felt like I could do it, and my body was just screaming for a change.
Mostly? You all may have already noticed, but I like to see people well-fed. When I realized that the production of meat requires many pounds of grain to produce (while I know that people are going hungry), I wasn't okay with that. So I chose not to participate.
For me, it's not about the animals.
I'm not grossed out by meat.
I didn't start out with the intention of taking better care of the environment or benefiting my health (although taking better care of the earth did become an interest of mine and I did become healthier).
The not eating meat part of things was pretty easy at first; I just didn't eat it. Most people didn't even notice, and in fact, I didn't mention it to my own mother for months. When anyone did notice, sometimes they would want to know my reasons, but for the most part, people just wanted to know what I would eat when I came over for dinner.
I tried to make that as easy as possible. I wasn't picky about non-meat options. I could easily make a meal out of sides, and I would bring along a dish to share whenever possible and my host was ok with it.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Dessert Hummus- with extra peanut butter and extra chocolate chips
I didn't talk to much about my choice unless prompted (and even avoided talking about why I stopped eating meat on this- my personal blog) for 2 reasons:
I know that some people have had very bad experiences with non meat-eaters.
While most people took on a "you do what you wanna do" attitude about my choice to avoid meat, I also talked with some people who reacted utterly defensively when they heard of my choice. One of the reasons is because some of those people have had some cram-it-down-your-throat, rude, and offensive encounters with vegetarians that were not at all considerate of their receivers. People are going to get on their high horses in order to prevent another attack if they think that is the kind of thing that is coming their way.
Makes sense, right? But I'm not out to cram anything down any one's throat, to point fingers, or to make everyone follow up on my convictions. So I made a real effort not to.
There are many, many great causes to get involved in.
photo taken from this post
In our age of information anytime, anywhere, it is very easy to learn about seemingly-countless needs and often-corresponding projects to address those needs. I have my favorites, and sometimes I address those here. But because of so much available information, it's really easy to come down with a case of compassion burnout. While I believe eschewing meat can have an impact, I also believe there are much more significant ways that a single person can meet needs. And...I like to believe that everyone will participate in those causes they have looked into themselves and are passionate about. It's just not possible to get involved in them all.
This post is part 1 in a 3-part series. For more reading from sarahkoller.com on this topic, check out Meatless Misconceptions.
Recently, excitement rose in my world because there were 4 spotty bananas sitting on my kitchen counter.
Spotty bananas make a great addition to toast and peanut butter.
They make great banana bread, smoothies, and (somewhat) portable snacks.
But my absolute favorite way to eat them is chocolate banana soft serve, and we'd been out for a few days.
Well, no more. (Or at least for a couple of days. )
Today's the day. (My taste buds, my baby, and my body are so happy.) Because I've received a few questions on how I make my favorite anytime "ice cream," I thought I'd offer a bit of a tutorial.
That is, if you're interested.
And really? If you like bananas, chocolate, and ice cream, you should be.
It's that good.
In addition to 2 frozen, previously spotty banana peels removed, I use the following ingredients:
I break each banana into a few pieces each and toss them in my food processor(I do NOT recommend a magic bullet for this one, by the way.), turn it on, and hold it down while it shakes for the first few moment.
Then let it spin.
Once it looks like the food processor is no longer making any progress, turn it off.
Pour in just a little bit of your almond milk (you can always add more later), add a spoonful of cocoa powder, and add your vanilla (how much is up to you. Mine is actually vanilla flavoring and not exactly extract, so it tastes sweet all by itself ...and I am a fan of vanilla, so I am kind of generous with it- maybe a teaspoon or more?).
Scrape around the sides of the food processor to move everything back towards the blades, close the food processor, and turn it back on.
(Keep an eye on things; this next part will not take long. )
Once your soft serve looks smooth, open your processor, remove the blade (carefully, of course!), then spoon the deliciousness you created into a bowl or a mug.
Enjoy every sweet, delicious, body-satisfying bite.
I know I will.
I was originally introduced to banana soft serve through this post.
Ever wonder what this pregnant lady eats during a typical day?
I can't say that I actually have typical eating days, but I did take note on what I ate yesterday. I've been so excited to participate in Peas and Crayons' What I Ate Wednesday because talking about what I eat- and hearing/reading about what others eat- has always been interesting to me. Because my pregnancy updates also happen on Wednesdays, I decided to morph the two today.
First up, what Babycenter says about babies at 29 weeks gestation:
"Your baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds (like a butternut squash) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. His muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and his head is growing bigger to make room for his developing brain. To meet his increasing nutritional demands, you'll need plenty of protein, vitamins C, folic acid, and iron. And because his bones are soaking up lots of calcium, be sure to drink your milk (or find another good source of calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, or enriched orange juice). This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby's hardening skeleton each day."
And now onto what me and the Babes ate yesterday...
Breakfast (early this morning- I woke up because I was hungry! I ended up eating this around 4:30 am.)
Oat bran cooked with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and unsweetened coconut flakes, then topped with a spoonful each of peanut butter and coconut butter
My new favorite- chocolate banana soft serve. Just a few reasons to love this stuff:
- Although my stomach can only tolerate a few spoonfuls of ice cream or frozen yogurt these days, I get to eat an entire mug-full of this stuff without any sort of stomach issues
- No sugar crashes
- Lots of nutrients
It's just 2 frozen bananas +
Easy, delicious, healthy, and cheap. Just the way I like it.
Leftover brown rice mix, zucchini made my new favorite way (see yesterday's post), a few cherry tomatoes, and some local tofu (I didn't know there was such a thing until recently) with crushed red pepper and extra hand-grated parmesan on top.
Snack- 2 unpictured peaches
Just what I was craving -a twist on grilled cheese (yellow mustard, hummus, and a blend of cheddar and monterrey jack cheese on whole grain bread, cooked in butter- I have a thing for butter lately.), Beannatural chips (Tim and I saw these at BJ's and decided to give them a try- they're made with bean flour and higher in fiber in protein than my favorite Food Should Taste Good chips), and homemade pickle spears from Mary Ellen (these are seriously delicious and just might be my favorite pickles).
You've seen this before- it's an individual-sized Peanut Butter Love Pie!
Last night, I made individual peanut butter mousse pies (altered slightly from this recipe).
There's a lot to be learned over the internet- my favorite part is all the stories that can be shared. Over the weekend, I read a story of an amazing woman one of the bloggers I follow met. I read that just a week after said meeting, she learned the husband of her new friend had died. Unexpectedly. With no warning. Leaving a wife and two daughters who love and ,of course, miss him in ways words cannot say.
All that woman (the one who lost her husband) asked of those who wanted to know what can I do? is to bake a peanut butter pie and share it with someone they/we/I love. And then hug them- the real, you-mean-this-much-to-me kind of embrace.
Now I don't know the woman who lost or husband or the one who wrote about her, but I thought that was a brilliant idea.
So today, I made peanut butter pies. These are a fairly healthy version, but I can assure you of three things: 1)they are delicious, 2) I do eat unhealthy desserts, but I like to reserve those indulgences mostly for the weekends (hello, cake, ice cream, and brownies!). Since my sweet tooth is raging lately, I need to make some good choices where I can and 3) making yummy and healthy things is one of my favorite ways to love- for many reasons including better quality of life and happy taste buds.
I told Tim to invite people over for dinner if he wanted to. I left it up to him because while I usually have plenty of opportunity for rest and me-time during the day, I do not know how his day will turn out, who he will run into, or what events might come to pass.
I made my version of a nice dinner to go with my peanut butter love pies. In the process, I discovered a new favorite way to use up the zucchini still growing in our back yard: I sauteed finely diced garlic in a little olive, added a bit of (organic) butter, then zucchini and sea salt, cooked it until it reached the desired consistency, turned off the heat, and hand-grated fresh parmesan over the top.
We didn't end up having dinner guests, but my thoughtful husband did end up helping my father-in-law load wood we unexpectedly found on our hands today. He worked hard on household projects that needed tending to, soon after arriving home. I stayed in the kitchen, cooking a meal I was pleased with, inviting my in-laws in for dinner (they couldn't stay), both of us loving and taking care of each other in our own ways.
The pies didn't get eaten (yet), but they are around for when we need them.
Peanut Butter Love Pie
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 4 medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 6-ounce containers vanilla greek yogurt (I purposely didn't scrape mine clean so I could snack on it while I waited for dinner.)
- approximately 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (my favorite is Smucker's brand)- you could use more to taste
1. Blend the oats, dates, cocoa powder, and almond milk in a food processor until blended into a doughy consistency.
2. In a separate bowl, mix yogurt and peanut butter until well-blended. Be sure to taste-test in case you want to add more peanut butter.
3. Press the oat-date-cocoa-almond milk mixture into the bottom of 3 glass parfait dishes (of course, you could improvise and use one larger glass dish or more smaller dishes, depending on what you have on hand) to form a crust.
4. Spoon yogurt and peanut butter mixture on top.
5. Freeze for about an hour . (Mine have obviously been frozen for longer. This is fine; I plan to thaw them for 15-20 minutes when we want them.)
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.
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?
There will be no "Meal Plan Monday" today. I didn't exactly follow last week's plan, so we still have much of the food for last week's plan on hand...+there was a sale at one of our local grocery stores that Tim just couldn't pass up. We have SO MUCH FOOD, maybe enough to last us til the end of the month, so in lieu of a meal plan, let's talk about protein powders.
I'm currently in the business of hunting down a great protein powder. Maybe it's the weather or the growing baby, but I'm craving smoothies...with protein. And so, because I don't tend to use a lot of protein powder (and the last kind I used was based on soy, which is something I'm trying to not eat in excess), I've been in search mode- trying out single-serve packets before making a commitment on an entire canister.
I've been mixing the powders with the same set of ingredients each time: a large spotted banana, a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a big handful of baby spinach, and a tablespoon of ground flax seed.
This week, I tried:
Spiru-tein Vanilla. This was pretty good, but it was a little toosweet for me. I was impressed with the nutrition facts, but not necessarily the ingredents- there was also some soy in there and a lot of laboratory-sounding ingredients. Moving on.
Tera's Whey Bourbon Vanilla. I like this one for the protein content (20 grams!) and ingredients list (just ), but the stevia left an aftertaste that I didn't like.
Vega Shake-and-Go Vanilla Almond. I think we have a winner! I am extremely happy with the ingredients list...
(Organic green pea protein, organic coconut palm nectar, flax seed, hemp protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic green food blend (alfalfa grass, organic kale leaf, organic spinach leaf, organic broccoli sprout, spirulina), natural flavours, xanthan gum, digestive enzyme blend, and dairy-free probiotic blend (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum)
I enjoy the flavor, it made my smoothie thick and creamy, I feel great after drinking, AND I can get it for FREE from Amazon.com using the Swagbucks I've saved up. I still have one more powder to try (Vega Whole Food Optimizer in Vanilla Chai), but I think I've found the powder that's going to give my smoothies the "oomph" I'm looking for.
(I like to stick to vanilla powders because I feel like they're more versatile than chocolate. If I want chocolate, I can add a little cocoa powder.)
Any other smoothie lovers out there? What do you use in your smoothies to give them a little protein boost?
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!
It looks like I'm craving comfort food this week! What are you craving?