Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Introducing...Everett

I'd like to introduce you all to my beautiful son...

Everett Lance
August 3, 2014 at 6:17 p.m.
7lbs 10 oz
20 inches

My apologies for the absence, I had a whole post ready to publish on being 39 weeks pregnant, and then, well, Everett was born! He was five days early, just like his older brother. Life has been a little understandably crazy since he arrived, thus my late post announcing his arrival.

I'm happy to report I was able to have the successful VBAC birth I wanted, and will fill you all in with a proper birth story post to come in the next couple of weeks. 

Until then, I'll be soaking up time with my boys (when I'm not trying to catch a few extra winks, or keep my house from looking like a tornado went through it).


 Thank you to everyone who has extended their well wishes!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Best Quick Snacks to Eat After a Workout

Most people know that after a workout, it's vital you re-fuel your body, or you'll end up losing nutrients, or, eating everything in site the minute you can and totally defeating the purpose of your workout.

When I did Team Fitness at Lifetime Fitness they talked about the Optimize in 45 Rule. Basically, it was about getting your body fueled with the correct carb/protein ratio within 45 minutes of your workout ending in order to help your body recover, and avoid, oh, I don't know, housing a half a bag of Tostitos as soon as you get home while your dinner is cooking (not that I know from experience).

I'm no fitness or nutrition expert, I have no training in that field, but I know that the Optimize in 45 rule works for me not ruining my workout by coming home and eating everything in site. The ideal snack the nutritionists always told us at Lifetime to eat after a workout, is a glass of non-fat or low-fat chocolate milk. It was a good carb to protein ratio, and will hold you over for a bit while you get a meal done. I also enjoy cottage cheese with fruit on top after a workout, or making my (not so) green monster smoothie as well (which I now only do a half cup of Trop 50 OJ with pulp in, and add peaches as well--delicious!).

Side Note: Austin loves this smoothie (minus the protein powder), and added in whole milk and a banana. He thinks it's a huge treat, and has no idea he's eating so many fruits and vegetables as he asks for, "mo! mo!"

Anyway, chocolate milk, a smoothie or cottage cheese aren't always easy to do after a workout if I'm not close to home when it's over. So, I wanted to tell you about a couple of my favorite post workout snacks that are delicious, gluten free and easy to transport.

The first is the Perfect Fit Protein cookie. These taste great (albeit, not exactly like a bakery cookie), and have ten grams of protein and 150 calories.


They really are a great snack to eat while driving home after a workout, that won't ruin your dinner if it's a post-work workout, or won't send you to bed feeling super full either if you're a night owl at the gym.


I'm also a big fan of the Think Thin bars. The name is annoying, but a lot of them taste good. Some of them taste like chalk (in my opinion, the peanut butter and brownie flavors), but these two flavors in particular are great for after a workout, and taste great.

Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts


Salted Caramel


I have found all these products at Whole Foods and on Amazon, and the Think Thin bars at Wegmans and Harris Teeter as well.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Life/Pregnancy Update

I figured it was a good time to update you all on the happenings in our world and my pregnancy.

I am feeling pretty good pregnancy wise. In the last month I've packed on more weight in a rapid way that I have in any other part of my pregnancy. Part of it may be that I was very stagnant for about a week when I had a sinus infection from my allergies that made it impossible to workout. With my lungs already crunched, and and then not having a nose to breath out of, it was really hard to do any exercise. We did one walk during that week after dinner for about a mile, and I had to stop half way and sit down on a park bench. I felt like such a slug! Glad to say, I've done a walk for a least 1.25 miles or more every day this week, and feel great again. I did some strength training on Monday that felt wonderful as well.

On the life front, I have been keeping up with my active little boy, who surprises me every day with the new things he's learned to say and do. Just this last week I asked if he wanted some yogurt and he said back, "little bit," for the first time. Also, during his fight of a diaper change one day he yelled out over and over again, "hey don't! hey don't!" which he has never said to me before.


He also hates wearing pants now that it's hotter out. I can't blame him, but you have to wear at least shorts buddy.

I've been working to make ahead food to freeze and eat when the new baby arrives. I have lofty goals on this front, and so far I have made ahead some Baked Ziti and Gluten Free Donuts. I made these Shredded Beef Enchiladas this week with the goal of freezing a batch, but the meat turned out awful, the crock pot completely dried it out. We ate the batch for dinner, but I wasn't going to use the leftover meat to make another set.

The other meals I'm planning to make ahead are:
I'm sure Ben will also grill out a lot the first month or so the new baby is here. That is his cooking specialty, and with it being summer, it will be easy enough for him to do, and something the whole family enjoys.

Recently, during a specific craving I had, Ben made flank steak tacos on the grill for us. They were amazing!


I topped them with cilantro and goat cheese, and I think chipotle mayo or chipotle sour cream would be great on top too. To marinate them, Ben bought the Wegmans Fajita Marinade, and had the meat soak in it for about an hour. If he would have had more time, I think marinading for a few more hours would have made them even better.

So there you have it, life right now. More updates to come as the summer develops!

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

What I'm Loving Right Now


Haribo Gummy Cola Bottles


I don't know why they taste so good right now, but I can't have them in the house, or I eat half a bag in a sitting. They are a good treat though, and have gone from craving, to obsession.

Go Picnic


I tried this out after seeing them many times. I love that they have gluten free options, and are easy to transport. I brought one along two weeks ago when I went to Boston for work, and it was a great filling snack (or meal, it says it's a meal, but it's more of a heavy snack) when there are few other options (this happens a lot in airports).

Jamberry Nails

 

Did you see my fancy thumb on my Go Picnic meal? My friend Cindy is selling Jamberry nails, and I decided to try them out. They are great for a no smudge, low maintenance manicure that can last for weeks. It was a bit of a learning curve to learn how to do it, but not too much, and I'm glad I have them as an option.

Nugg Face Masks


I saw these on The Grass Skirt's blog awhile back, and picked a few up at Target. They're $2.99 a piece, and one small container gets two uses on my skin. They are great for a mini, affordable facial, and they have several varieties, from moisturizing to exfoliating.


Tates Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tried Tate's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies for the first time when I was in the Boston earlier this month and fell in love. My boss put them in a gift pack for me full of gluten free goodies when I arrived at my room, and they are hard to eat just a couple of. They taste similar to Trader Joes Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies, with a buttery kick. I've seen the original flavors at Wegmans, but none of the gluten free variety--I may need to request them! These are one of those gluten free items that you can't tell it's even gluten free, and would love them even if you don't have an allergy.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Eating Our Way Through New York City

This past weekend we ventured up to New York City for a little family "babymoon" before Baby Cush #2 arrives. We have done very few trips (i.e. none) as just the three of us as a family since Austin was born, and I really wanted to do one.

We took the train up to New York, leaving at 8:00 on Friday morning. We took the Acela up, and I wish we would have sprung for the extra bucks to take it back as well. It cuts 45 minutes off the trip compared the regional train, and with a toddler, it's worth it. Also, the service you receive from Amtrak employees, is much better on the Acela, which comes in handy when you have a child.

Austin was fascinated by the train for the first 30 or so minutes of the ride, then he wanted to run and explore. The great part about the train, compared to a plane, is that he can to an extent! Ben took him to the dining car twice and let him just walk around, and it was great for curbing some of his energy. He also had some of his snacks, which helped, and we read to him.

Very important that Monkey can see out the train window
When we arrived in New York, we headed straight for the hotel to drop off our bag. Managing to fit all of our items is one suitcase (albeit, a big one) was a huge victory for this trip. Despite his lack of desire to sleep on the train, all it took was the chaos of Times Square to lull Austin to sleep in his stroller. He was knocked out, and stayed that way through most of our lunch at Carnegie Deli.

Ben had never been to Carnegie Deli, and I had been there a few times during previous trips to New York years ago and told him he he HAD to go. Ben is a sandwich and meat lover, so I knew this would be his heaven. They are known for their huge sandwiches, and amazing cheesecake, and when I saw they had gluten free cheesecake on the menu now, I knew it was a must.

The Woody Allen Sandwich, Pastrami and Corned Beef
The food did not dissappoint. Ben enjoyed his out of this world sandwich (he finished half!), while I had a three cheese omelet and baked potato, followed by a slice of gluten free cheesecake that was so delicious. Ben tried a few bites and loved it as well.

AMAZING Gluten Free Cheesecake
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around. We stopped at Macys to get me some gloves and I ended up buying a headband to go over my ears as well because it was turning out to be a windy weekend. We also went to the top of the Empire State Building, where the wind really showed us who's boss.

That night we went to a delicious little restaurant called Market Cafe near our hotel in Hells Kitchen Neighborhood. They had a ton of gluten free options, and after some gluten free bread with olive oil, I enjoyed the most delicious steak tacos with seasoned fries (I kept calling it "Fancy Del Taco" since it was tacos with fries). I wish I could go back for these tacos today; I keep thinking about them! The mango salsa, cilantro, cabbage, steak and chipotle mayo mixture was perfect.


Austin was obsessed with Market Cafe's flat bread pepperoni pizza, and he inhaled the bread basket as well. This kid loves carbs, and I can't say I blame him.

Mmmmm, pizza
Saturday we did a lot more exploring, including down to Battery Park, where the wind created plenty of white caps on the water as we looked out on the Statue of Liberty.

We then walked over to see One World Trade Center and the 9/11 World Trade Center Memorial. It had been so long since I'd been to New York City, the last time I was there, I was inside the World Trade Center towers. It was sad and sobering to see the memorial, and all the names of so many innocent people. I'm glad we took the time to go see it. It was a pain taking the stroller on the Subway to get there, as most of their elevators did not work, or didn't have any, but worth the trip.


I made sure we got a picture of the Ed Sullivan theater while in town as well since David Letterman announced his retirement last week. May be the last time we see his name on the kiosk!


Saturday night we met up with our friends Lauren and Ryan who live in Brooklyn (you may remember they visited us last summer) for dinner in the East Village at the delicious Mediterranean Cafe Mogador. I had the grilled chicken plate, which was very good, and Austin enjoyed some of my rice, along with hummus and pita. He was thrilled to get to eat his favorite snack for dinner as a vacation treat.

We also had dessert at the delicious Big Gay Ice Cream--yum! They do specialty soft serve cones and dishes and I had the Salty Pimp, chocolate dipped soft serve with sea salt, mmmm. Salty and sweet is a combination I never turn down. They also had gluten free ice cream cones- made my whole night! The cone was delicious, and I would have never known it was gluten free. Ben had the rocky road dipped cone and liked it as well. I was so happy Lauren recommended we go here.


Overall we had a wonderful time in New York City. It was a great weekend away, and as always good to be home as well. I can't wait to take our children there as they grow older and will appreciate all the city has to offer, and tell them how lucky we are to live a short train ride away from so many amazing places!

Heading Home
We are planning one more little adventure as the weather gets nicer--a day trip to Charlottesville! I have a few things on my list to check out there, including the Farmers Market, Pasture and Sweethaus Cupcakes, but please let me know if you have any recommendations for that beautiful little city.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Meal Planning and Shopping on a Budget Part Two

Here's part two of my series on meal planning and shopping on a budget, you can find part one of the series on grocery shopping here, and check out the post below on meal planning.

Our meal planning (and schedule planning) is all based around this board.


In our old place, we had a smaller marker board on the fridge because this one was too massive to put anywhere. Now, this hangs at the entrance of our kitchen.

At the end of each work week I sit down and look through recipes I've favorited, or through my cookbooks, and compare them to what we already have in our pantry to see if I can use up things we already have for recipes and not spend as much that week. I do this on Thursday or Friday so we can hit up any stores we need to on Saturday or Sunday. Also, in true dork fashion, sometimes we make Friday a go out to eat, and then hit up Target family "adventure" night.

When it comes to picking our meals, I keep all of our tastes in mind (Ben does not like seafood, and beyond a few random items, generally neither do I), and my celiac with having to eat gluten free, and my distaste for a few items as well. Ben is not the worlds most adventurous eater either, so there are certain meals I plan for when he is not going to be home (like anything with squash or eggplant).

I feed Austin exactly what we eat every night. Some nights he loves it, some nights he refuses most of his plate (even if he's eaten that same thing a week earlier and loved it!) and has a mainly milk dinner. Austin would love it if we ate macaroni and cheese, black beans, or french fries on rotation every few nights.

Picky eating is something I don't have much tolerance for, but I'm also not going to serve Austin something I know he hates and have a fight, still he is served pretty much exactly what we eat. Also, I keep in mind he can't have particularly spicy items, or things hard for him to chew. Plus, I think it's great for him to try new things all the time. If he's unsure about something we usually say, "touch it to your tongue and see if you like it, and if you don't, you don't have to eat it."

"You want me to eat what?!"

Since Austin cannot express his tastes right now beyond refusal (which is sometimes more graceful than other times), I try to make him a well balanced plate each meal and let him chose what he wants to eat off of it, and my weekly meal planning is done with this in mind. We often throw away a lot of fruits and vegetables uneaten from his plate, but then certain times he surprises us and digs into them, and I know it was worth all the food we had to toss. I'm thankful that his daycare offers him a diverse lunch each day as well with a meat, starch, fruit and vegetable.

Most weeks we make dinner at home four out of the five weeknights, and eat out at an easy place like Chipotle, Pei Wei, Noodles, Jason's Deli, etc. one of the other meals, mainly for sanity reasons to give ourselves a night off.

I also try to do as many crockpot meals as I can so that dinner can be ready earlier, and with less clean up. This does require setting my alarm about ten minutes earlier in the morning though to get the recipe going.

Ben usually cooks one night of the week, doing something on the grill with sides. I love those nights because then I can come home and dedicate all my time to playing with Austin before he goes to bed.

On weekends, we don't plan as rigorously, and usually end up going out for one of our meals. I also make bigger breakfasts (eggs, waffles, pancakes, something like that) on weekend mornings.

To round out this post, I wanted to share with you some of the recipes that are staples right now in our weeknight meal planning, including:
I'd love to hear about your meal planning, and any go to weeknight recipes you have right now! I'm always looking for ways to have smooth meal planning, and a lower grocery bill! Please comment and let me know!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meal Planning and Shopping on a Budget: Part One

A lot of bloggers recently have done posts on how they meal plan, and grocery shop for that plan, and I decided to join in. About three years ago I started to be much more strict about our meal planning. When Ben and I first moved in together and were engaged, our grocery shopping consisted of, "that looks good, let's get that," or "that reminds me of a recipe I like, let's make that this week." There was little sitting down to plan, beyond when I would randomly find a recipe I liked on a blog or website, and then put those ingredients into my grocery list that weekend.

All that has changed now, and especially changed now that Austin eats dinner with us each night. We don't have a choice but to have a dinner plan, because Austin needs a good, filling meal, and can't just have a bowl of cereal if we don't feel like cooking like Ben and I can do.

During this two part series, I'll touch on our grocery shopping habits, and then in the next post, how we meal plan. I'll start with where we shop and what we go there for.

There are certain staples for our groceries we get at Costco. We go about once a month for certain items, and then buy other items there as we need them.
 Costco Staples:
  • Ground Beef
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • Apple Sauce
  • Quinoa
  • Milk
  • Chips
We do have to buy milk more often than our trips to Costco, but try to stock up as much as we can there, since it's such a good deal. Austin has started to get really excited when we walk into Costco because he knows he will get to try a few samples (there have been a couple days where he had so many he didn't need lunch after).

For other staple grocery items, we go to Super Target or Target. A recent news story done in our area on grocery price comparisons shows that Target and Wal-Mart (where I hate going and refuse to) are the most affordable for staple grocery items.
Target Staples:
  • 99% Lean Ground Turkey
  • Cereal
  • Canned Goods
  • Frozen Fruits and Veggies
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Frozen Meals
  • Bread
  • Peanut Butter/Hummus/Condiments
  • Snack Bars for lunches
  • Fruit and Veggie Pouches
  • Other Random Grocery items
  • Toiletries
I prefer to use ground turkey when I can over ground beef, so I buy this at Target, as I haven't been able to find 99% lean at Costco. For saving at Target, it also helps that we use the Target Red Card for an extra 5% off, bring our own bags and I clip coupons for items we normally use to help us out. We usually get other items we need at Target outside of groceries like toiletries (we order diapers through Amazon prime).

For fresh produce and gluten free items, I usually go to Wegmans. I absolutely love this store, it has good prices for the level of service it has, and the store is beautiful and clean with bountiful produce options, delicious cheeses and bakery items. They also have a lot of fresh cut produce ready to use in recipes. I try to avoid these items to save money, but if I know I'll need them for a crazy week, I pick them up here.

Enjoying a Snickerdoodle while Shopping at Wegmans

If you're not familiar with this East Coast grocery chain, and read this in Minnesota, let's just say it's like Byerlys on steroids and not as expensive. Their hot line food bar is also restaurant quality for grabbing a quick meal. I'm digressing, but I love Wegmans. If I ask them to look into a certain gluten free item that I can't find on their shelves, they will try and special order it for me, and call me when it comes in to pick up at their service counter. Their customer service is simply wonderful.
Wegmans Staples:
  • Deli Cheese
  • Specialty Cheeses
  • Gluten Free Bread
  • Gluten Free Convenience Foods like frozen meals, crackers, etc.
  • All Produce
I also like Trader Joes and will randomly go there for certain items, like the ones I wrote about in this post, but like I said then, their produce does go bad quickly, but I like certain convenience items there.

Basically, there are certain items I like from certain stores, and sometimes based on time, I have to bite the bullet and just do all my shopping that week at a certain store (that usually ends up being Wegmans), but meal planning helps us not have to run back to the store during the week for random items.

Next post, I'll talk about specific meal planning and how to do that with food allergies, and toddler and different food preferences on a budget each week.

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