Posts Tagged ‘nutrients’

Tasty Tuesday: Breakfast Pumpkin Smoothie

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

People often ask me what I eat for breakfast before going on a run. One of my current favorites breakfasts has been a Pumpkin Smoothie*. It’s hearty enough to fuel a long run, but goes down quick and easy. While it’s vegan and gluten-free, it’s certainly not lacking in nutrients or flavor. Check it out!



1 cup of almond milk

1/4 cup rolled oats

2 tablespoons chia seed gel (basically chia seeds soaked in water; awesome fuel for any activity!)

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 frozen banana (I pre-peel bananas, cut them in half, and place in small baggies to freeze. They are ready to pop in a smoothie straight from the freezer)

2 dates, pitted

1 tablepoon maple syrup

generous sprinkle of cinnamon

dash of giner and nutmeg

3 ice cubes


Soak oats in almond milk for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. (Quick Tip: I usually soak mine right before bed time so they are ready to right when I wake up). Add all ingredients into blender and blend on high until creamy and smooth.

YUM! I really look forward to waking up to this smoothie. It’s sooo good!!


*Adapted from Oh She Glows 

6 Tips for Gentle Weaning

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a La Leche League conference with guest speaker Kittie Frantz. She was a wonderful speaker; highly informative, humorous, and included a great deal of audience participation….she even roped in an audience member to demonstrate “laid-back breastfeeding” with her 3 week old baby. It was amazing to witness! I admit I was a bit skeptical about the concept of laid-back breastfeeding, but after watching some video clips and seeing it in person, I am excited to try it with my next baby! 🙂

While my head was spinning with tons of breastfeeding information upon leaving the conference, the part that stuck with me most was about weaning. It seems as though there is an abundance of information and support available for the early initiation stage of breastfeeding (thankfully!). Although there is far less information readily available on how to wean your child, especially if you want to do so gently. I really liked how Kittie Frantz described weaning as a gradual process. She strongly emphasized the importance (physically and emotionally) of it being a gradual process for both mama and baby. I have condensed the information she presented at the conference into 6 Tips for Gentle Weaning:

At the conference...can you see me? 🙂

1. Introduction of Solids – Did you know that the introduction of solids is when weaning actually begins? I know when I heard that at a La Leche League meeting for the first time, I was quite intrigued. After all it made perfect sense! Of course baby getting calories/nutrients from a source other than mama’s milk would initiate the weaning process. However, I was surprised that in all the mainstream literature I had read about *how* to introduce solids, none of it stated the direct correlation between introducing solid foods and weaning. Knowing this might change when or how you introduce solids? One common recommendation to minimize the weaning effect is to avoid solids foods replacing a nursing session by nursing your baby immediately before offering them food. In other words think of breastmilk as the main course and the food as the dessert.

2. Don’t Offer/Don’t Refuse – At what age you choose to implement a “don’t offer/don’t refuse” breastfeeding policy is highly individualized. What it means is that you don’t offer the breast to your child, but you don’t refuse if they ask to nurse. With my own children, I have generally started implementing this technique around one year of age.

3. Eliminate your least favorite feeding time – Such a simple recommendation that I think is brilliant, especially during the stage of breastfeeding when the mother is feeling worn out. For example maybe it’s the 3:00am nursing session that you find exhausting? Or the late afternoon, hour long nurse-a-thon to get baby down for a nap? If you could eliminate that single nursing session, perhaps you would enjoy breastfeeding more as well as feel like you could continue on for longer. If you can identify one nursing session that is especially difficult for you and eliminate it, perhaps a rocky breastfeeding relationship can be restored or salvaged? Sometimes we just get frustrated with breastfeeding and want to quit! However this approach of eliminating one undesirable feeding session, may help resolve those feelings. So how exactly do you eliminate a nursing session?

4. Change Routine – How you change your routine will depend on your own unique situation. Sometimes in order to change routine, a change in caregiver is needed. A baby/child may not accept a change in their nursing routine if mama is the one offering the alternative, but will more readily accept change from dad, a sibling, grandma, etc. For example I have recently eliminated our nap time nursing session with my 19 month old. Through a little experimentation I happily discovered that if my oldest son offers my youngest son a sippy cup of water and lays next to him in the bed, he will fall asleep at nap time without nursing. Car rides, babywearing, and stroller rides are other ways to get a baby down for a nap without nursing. Another example from the workshop was in regard to eliminating the morning nursing session. The suggestion was to greet your child right when they wake up with enthusiasm about what you’re making them for breakfast. Serve breakfast right upon waking and make it a delicious and fun meal for them. Be creative and resourceful in figuring out a new routine for your little one.

5. Use Distractions – This goes beyond the don’t offer/don’t refuse stage, in that you are actually refusing, but not with a flat out NO! Instead use distraction to prevent or delay a nursing session. You can distract with toys, food, change of scenery, or activity. Most babies and young children are actually fairly easy to distract so use it to your advantage! Sometimes when my son asks to nurse by signing “milk”, I will tickle him and jokingly say “you put that away”. It then becomes a game between us and he is no longer truly asking to nurse despite signing “milk”. Rather he is simply enjoying our interaction. If you have tried distracting and your child is persistent with asking to nurse, then maybe they really need to nurse in that moment? The beauty is that there are no “rules” when it comes to weaning; let your mothering instinct guide the process and trust that all babies eventually do wean!

6. Play with Your Child– One excellent point the speaker made was that nursing is a very special time with mama. If it is really the only time baby gets mama’s full attention, of course they are going to hang onto it dearly. I know this is especially easy to let happen with your youngest child when you have multiple children. You are constantly moving around and doing stuff to care for your family, that the only time you really stop is to nurse your wee one. The recommendation is to engage frequently throughout the day with your nursling, but not to nurse…to PLAY! Have fun together and offer them your affection on a regular basis. It can help maintain that close connection formed during breastfeeding but allow it to be expressed in new ways. 🙂

“Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience; You are raising a human being.” Kittie Frantz.


Tasty Tuesday: Broccoli Quinoa

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Pregnant and nursing mamas need to be sure to include lots of healthy foods choices throughout the day. This Broccoli Quinoa dish is a nice option for lunch time because it is a quick and inexpensive meal that is packed full of nutrients for mama! There are only two main ingredients; broccoli and quinoa. If seasoned right these two foods can be combined to make a yummy (and uber-healthy!) meal. Be sure to use fresh, not frozen, broccoli as the taste is much better and the nutritional content is higher. Serve with a side of seasonal fruit for a little bit of sweetness and added vitamins/nutrients.

I actually made this for dinner tonight because the day escaped past me; suddenly it was 5:30 and I had yet to start dinner! After examining the contents of my fridge/pantry I decided Broccoli Quinoa was my best option. I knew it would come together super fast and that my kids would eat it. When I put Abraham’s (age 3) plate in front of him at the dinner table he said to me “you made my favorite!”. That boy LOVES broccoli AND quinoa. Putting them together is a definite winner with him. I hope you will enjoy it too!


3 cups water (or veggie stock)

1.5 cups quinoa

2 tablespoons all-purpose seasoning

1 head of broccoli, chopped

garlic powder to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

sprinkle of nutrional yeast, optional


Bring 3 cups of water to a full boil. Add quinoa and all purpose seasoning. Once it starts to boil again, turn the heat to low, cover, and allow to gently simmer for approximately 15 minutes (or until all the water has been absorbed). In a separate pot, add enough water to create a very thin layer of water across the entire pot. Heat the water and once it starts to bubble, add in chopped broccoli. Cover and allow to steam for approximately 3-5 minutes. You will know it is done when the broccoli turns a bright green color. Serve broccoli over the cooked quinoa and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste.


Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Almond Milk

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

We drink a lot of almond milk in our family. My top choice brand is Pacific Natural Foods Organic, Unsweetened Almond milk which sells for $2.70 a quart in my area. That is $10.80 a gallon…wowzers! Once I did the math and realized how expensive it was, I decided I really needed to start making my own. Especially considering it’s ridiculously easy to make. It literally takes 2 ingredients and about 5 minutes to make your own almond milk. The trickiest part of it is finding almonds at the best price possible because raw organic almonds can be kind of expensive. However I calculated that for the brand of almond milk I like to buy as long as I purchased almonds for under $11 a pound, it was cheaper to make my own versus buying it. Most of the time I pay about $7 a pound for organic almonds, so it is significantly cheaper to make my own.

There are other benefits to making your own almond milk besides saving money. For example there is virtually no packaging involved. Almonds tend to come in very minimal packaging as opposed to the cartons that almond milk comes in. As with most homemade foods, the flavor of homemade almond milk is far superior to store bought varieties. Additionally more of the nutrients remain intact when it’s made fresh and consumed raw. Another added bonus is you are left with a blob of almond pulp that can actually be used in a variety of different ways/recipes.

So how does one make their own almond milk? It’s as simple as blending 1 cup of almonds and 4 cups of water together for 2 minutes. Then use a cheesecloth to strain the pulp. That’s all! I promise it really is that simple. If you want to add a dash of vanilla and sweeten it to taste you can, however it is quite creamy and delicious all on its own.

Step one: Add one cup of raw almonds and four cups of water to blender.

Step two: Blend for two minutes

Step three: Strain over a bowl covered with cheesecloth. After straining, you may want to gather the fabric and squeeze out any remaining milk. Also some people consider this step optional and don’t strain their almond milk. It really is a matter of personal preference.

Step four: Enjoy! Keep in the fridge and consume within 3-4 days.

This is what the pulp looks like. It will keep in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze it to use at a later time.

Do you make your own nut milk? Any tips to share?


Getting Your Garden Ready: Composting 098

Friday, February 24th, 2012

With Spring right around the corner, many of you are probably starting to think about gardening! I know I am. The thought of warm sunshine and beautiful green things growing in my backyard is such a lovely thought this time of year. If you are thinking about gardening this Spring, no need to wait to begin… you can actually start working on your garden NOW! A great first step in organic gardening is to begin composting.

Kale freshly cut from our winter garden

Compost is defined as: “A mixture of decaying organic matter, as from leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients” (, 2012). Composting is a free and super easy way to create wonderfully rich soil for your garden. Granted there are special composting devices you can purchase, but truthfully you don’t need anything to compost, except for a designated space in your yard. There are different methods of composting, but the method I use is the most basic/simple approach (hence the title Composting 098…actually a step below the 101 level). It basically consist of a rotting pile of food in our backyard. 🙂 Yes, there are more scientific approaches, but if simple works why not just let life be simple?

Our compost pile; you can see the potato scraps grew into potato plants completely on their own

Start by surveying your backyard and selecting a place to compost. You will want to pick a place that gets a lot of sunshine. When selecting a location consider the following: a compost pile can be stinky, will attract bugs, and is not the most aesthetically pleasing site. This may factor into the distance you place it from your house. Additionally you want a place that makes it easy to transfer scraps from kitchen to compost pile and compost pile to garden. However you may want to limit accessibility to it if you have pets or small children. Our garden is fenced in and in a corner of  the garden is the compost pile.

Bowl of food scraps that sits on our counter

Next step is to develop a system of storing food scraps. Our method is simply a large bowl that sits on the counter and is added to throughout the day. Each night it gets emptied into the outdoor compost pile. You can put whatever food scraps you want into your compost pile, however we mostly limit ours to fruits, veggies, and coffee grounds. It is typically suggested to avoid putting dairy, meat, and oils into your compost pile. You can add grass and yard clippings into your compost pile, as well as paper products. If you are not going to use your compost for growing vegetables, and strictly for landscaping soil you can be more lenient about what you put into it. However if you are going to eat what grows in your composted soil, be more conservative regarding what you place in your compost pile.

Yesterday's lunch included cooked Kale grown in our very own backyard! Talk about locally grown food!!

Once you have your pile going, it honestly won’t need a lot of attention from you. You may turn it once in a while with a rake or spray it down with water if you live in a hot, dry climate like ours. But mostly you let it sit there and decompose using nature’s gifts of air and sunshine. You will know when your pile is ready to use in your garden because it will start to look less like rotting food and more like soil. This varies depending on the climate you live in and how much food scraps you generate, but it can take as little as a few months to have some beautiful organic soil ready for seeds!

Are you planning a Spring garden? If so what will you be growing? Would love to hear your garden plans!! 🙂