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Paleo Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

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Facebook told me this morning that today is National Homemade Cookie Day. I am a sucker for cookies and thought I’d give in to the celebration, lol. We are plugging along on our grain-free/sugar-free living (and I always feel so much better sticking to it). So I whipped up a simple recipe that I thought I would share.

 

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar Swerve

1 egg yolk, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup Lily’s chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease a 5 inch cast-iron skillet.
  2. Beat together coconut oil and coconut sugar until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Press dough into pan and bake 18-20 min, or until beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and serve warm.

 

 

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Simplifying Dietary Changes

The Struggle is Real

The holidays are over and I am still having trouble getting back on track with my diet. These are the thoughts that have been floating around in my mind:

Carbs taste good, I’m pregnant, just one more day, it’s just “social” eating, one more treat, I’m tired of cooking, cleaning, planning, purchasing.

There ya have it. All excuses to not be my best self. Have you ever had that dialogue floating around in your mind?

I KNOW changing my diet changed my life. I found a healthy, stable weight, my periods returned like healthy clockwork, my son’s medical issue resolved, my feelings of anxiety released, and countless other benefits.

Why, oh why are bad habits so hard to break? Why is convenience more important than health?

Last night, I really had to give myself a reality check. I’m going to deliver a baby in just a few short months, and I do not want a repeat of my last birth experience. Plus, I want my body to bounce back so that I’m not telling another story of postpartum depression or healing difficulties.

Three Tips to Simplify

Simplifying the diet is key. I’ve had to adapt so that I’m not cooking and cleaning all day, or having to run all over the state finding appropriate ingredients.

How have I simplified?

1. Shopping in bulk and mail order has been #1. I found a local source for high quality meat, and place a big order about every 2 months.

Our Costco membership has also been amazing and saves quite a bit of money. We can find compliant cheeses, vegetables, grain-free products in bulk, nice cooking oils, avocado oil mayo, almond flour, compliant salad dressings and several other staples. Scheduling this every 4-6 weeks keeps our pantry stocked and minimizes our trips to run out for just an item or two.

Amazon Prime or Thrive Market are excellent sources to find items that aren’t as accessible in the mainstream market. For me, I would have to drive an hour to a grocery store or health food store that carries compliant baking items.

2. Meal planning is also important. I used to be able to replace a meal with a protein shake to lighten my cooking load. Being pregnant has required that I eat 3 meals and only use shakes for protein rich snacks. Have you ever tried planning 21 meals a week? Its laborious.

Batch cooking and freezing is a good method to lighten the load or just having a plan for dinner by 10 am tends to work for me. Unthawing meat, knowing what veggies need prepped and just general timeline can make the task easier.

Cooking enough food to have leftovers for lunch is also a time saver, or cooking a bigger batch of a favorite that can be eaten over the course of several days for lunch.

3. Instant Pot

I have had my instant pot for about a year and wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. It is not something I use daily but it works wonders to cook a good, healthy, nutritious meal very quickly. I love it for soups and stews or to cook a perhaps frozen chicken very quickly to use for multiple meals.

These are just my tips and tricks that help me stay focused and on task with what I’m putting in my body. I am going to share one of my favorite lunch, batch cooking recipes. I make enough for several days and serve on a bed of greens with a few Simple Mills grain-free crackers. It’s both healthy and satisfying.

Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad

2 lb. pasture raised chicken breasts

3 stalks of celery, diced

lemon juice

4 Tbs chopped, fresh tarragon

avocado oil mayo (Chosen Foods brand, I buy at Costco)

handful of dried, unsweetened cranberries

1. Drizzle chicken breasts with avocado oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 min.

2. Cool and dice chicken breasts.

3. Add diced celery, tarragon, salt, pepper, and enough mayo to coat thoroughly. Approximately 1/2-3/4 c. Mix well. Add 1-2 Tbs. lemon juice and cranberries and mix again.

4. Chill and serve.

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Second Trimester Woes and Remedies

I am big on finding natural, healthy remedies for common discomforts. Pregnancy is a time for discomfort of all types and I am sharing what I use to curb a few common second trimester irritations. I strive to live a chemical-free life. I know as well as anyone that sometimes medication is necessary and I am not here to replace medical advice (obligatory disclaimer). Also, adequate water intake, nutrition, and exercise are necessary to support ALL pregnancies. Many symptoms and discomforts can be alleviated by ensuring these requirements are met.

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1. Pregnancy Insomnia (yes, that is a thing!)

Since the first trimester ended and I rebounded from morning sickness, I have spent many nights tossing and turning or not resting when I actually do fall asleep because of crazy pregnancy dreams. Wowza, hormones can be something else! Thankfully, I have found some natural remedies to help promote a restful night sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

This is surprisingly effective. I have been drinking 2 oz twice per day at about 3pm and again at 8pm. Tart cherry juice contains the highest amount of melatonin of any food. Another bonus with this juice is that it is high in antioxidants and has a low glycemic index, which is not typical for juices. This remedy can take a week or two to become effective, although I have noticed an effect within a few days.

Magnesium Supplements

Most of us are deficient in the mineral magnesium. Diet and lifestyle choices are often the cause of our deficiency. Processed foods, stress, pharmaceutical drugs, and soil depletion are all causes for magnesium deficiency. We can ensure that we are foods are magnesium rich by eating plenty of leafy greens, nuts; such as almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews. Many seafood choices are high in magnesium, as well as dark chocolate (70% cacao, in moderation). Also, taking a high quality magnesium supplement is also necessary. I use this one, and take before bed.

Essential Oils

I only use pure therapeutic grade essential oils from Young Living, and would never recommend anything else. The oils that are my favorites and promote a good night sleep are lavender, vetiver, and the blends Valor, Stress Away, and Peace & Calming. I apply these directly to my body, typically on the back of my neck or on my wrists. Sometimes I use a diffuser and diffuse in my bedroom. Oils are also nice to mix with epsom salts and use in a relaxing before-bed bath. P.S. Epsom salts also provide magnesium! If you haven’t tried oils yet, or want to check out Young Living, contact me and I will share my referral code with you.

 

2. Constipation

Ugh, pregnancy constipation is a common discomfort. The hormone progesterone slows down digestion therefore causing elimination issues. There are several remedies I have found effective with this complaint.

Hydration is one of the key components of digestive motility.`During pregnancy 3-4 quarts of water is necessary per day! Water fixes so much, and it is incredibly important to keep the digestive system functioning appropriately. Also, in the dietary realm fiber is important for digestion as well. Since we typically avoid grains and legumes in our diet, our fiber comes from green leafy veggies, cruciferous vegetables, cabbages, and sweet potatoes. A green smoothie each morning is excellent digestive support.

Supplements

Magnesium is another winner for helping alleviate constipation. Along with magnesium, adding a good quality probiotic, and a full spectrum digestive enzyme are must haves for digestive support. A probiotic will help alleviate constipation, however probiotics are essential for so many facets of our well-being. Probiotics are key in immune system function for mama, and will help baby develop a strong and healthy immune system. Taking a probiotic during pregnancy helps the colostrum fill with good flora that will aid in baby’s immune function, microbiome production, and production of vitamin K.

Enzymes are crucial because they aid in the digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in our food. When taken with meals, our food can be properly digested, absorbed, and converted to energy. They also have another role– proper enzyme balance helps regulate our hormones, cellular growth and repair, etc.

Tea

There are several teas blended and marketed to pregnant women. Pink Stork Constipation Tea is the one I have tried, since the business is based locally to me. It is tasty and did the job quite well. I also like that it is organic, non-GMO, vegan, decaf, and gluten-free.

Essential Oils

The oils that have been my favorite during this time are orange & marjoram. I massage them into my lower back and abdomen 2-3 times per day. I love a few drops of lemon essential oil in my water for relief as well. Plus, it adds a wonderful flavor to my water and makes drinking 3 or more quarts palatable!

3. Fatigue

Ah, how often does 2pm roll around and you are struggling to keep your eyes open? I know after chasing my toddler all morning and attempting to get some work done, this is a common occurence!

Exercise

My most effective remedy for fatigue is taking a brisk walk. When I am struggling to keep my eyes open and I know a nap or a cup of coffee is not the best choice, I will pack up the toddler in his stroller and take a brisk walk around our neighborhood. Within 15 minutes I usually feel better and have enough energy to get me through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

Supplements/Essential Oils

The oils I use to give me a pick-me-up are grapefruit, orange, peppermint, and frankincense. These oils are all uplifting and energizing. I will pick an oil or two, put a few drop in the palm of my hands, rub my hands together and inhale until I feel a shift in my energy level. My favorite supplement is a mineral supplement called Revitalize, which is a natural mineral supplement that supports energy levels and cellular function. I mix it with 20 oz of water and almost immediately my energy levels and cognitive function improve. Plus, it tastes like a yummy kool-aid and is free of sugar and caffeine. Again message me if you want to try it out and I’m happy to share a discount code.

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4. Itchy, Stretching Skin (and maybe the dreaded stretch marks)

Ah, one of the joys of motherhood! There are many OTC remedies for stretch marks. With my first pregnancy I used every belly butter, oil and cream that I could find at Target and still ended up with the dreaded stretch marks. Luckily, THEY DO FADE!

Supplements/Essential Oils

With my last pregnancy, I ended up getting by with minimal additional stretch marks, although I did have the itchy, stretching skin multiple times throughout my pregnancy. I would use a carrier oil and the essential oil blend Gentle Baby. This really soothed my stretching skin and I believe prevented additional stretching. Now, during this pregnancy I am taking the collagen HA supplement that I mentioned a few posts ago, this is my favorite and by following the link you will receive $10 off your first order! The cool thing with this is that I began taking it prior to this pregnancy and I noticed a firming of my abdomen within 2 weeks of taking. So this is a part of my daily regimen to support my organ and cellular health with the added benefit of skin support!

I know I have just touched on just a few complaints that surface during the second trimester. What are some common complaints or solutions that you have found along your pregnancy journey?

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A Cookie Post

 

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The voice behind my blog has switched gears a bit, I’ve been spending more writing time  following some of my other passions. I started out sharing our diet changes, which are now second nature and not something I put a lot of time and energy into. Our pantry is stocked, I have enough meals to keep our family eating a variety of foods each week. We feel good, and have our grocery purchasing routine down pat. I still occasionally try out a new recipe or find a new product that I love, however generally this piece of life is simple and moving along.

That being said, the benefits have been that Ezra’s health issues have been resolved– at least on paper. We believe it takes a much longer time to truly heal the gut (and keep it healthy), so we have made this a lifestyle not just a plan to fix a problem. My husband and I have lost over 20 lbs each, without fluctuation. So, not a “weight-loss” plan, a side effect from a life change. Today I decided to use this blog space to write a small update of sorts and share the recipe to one of our new favorite treats. A treat I am making since this is our last day of “summer break” (the teen returns from his vacation tomorrow!) and I am sure a homemade treat will be a nice welcome for his tummy!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies — Refined Sugar & Grain Free

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 c hazelnut flour
  • 1 cup chopped dark chocolate make your own chocolate to keep 100% Paleo or Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  2. Add the almond flour, hazelnut flour, salt, and baking soda to the wet ingredients. Mix until well incorporated. Fold in the chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  3. To bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Use a cookie scoop to form cookies and place on a parchment lined baking sheet; press down slightly. Bake for 12 minutes or just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges.
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Instant Pot Beef Stew

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1.5-2 lb grass-fed, grass finished beef stew meat

olive oil

2 onions, sliced

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

4 carrots, roughly chopped (I don’t eat carrots, my older son does)

8 oz sliced mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. brussels sprouts

2 Tbs. Cassava flour

1/4 c. red wine

2 c. beef stock (grass-fed)

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. fish sauce

1 Tbs. coconut aminos

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. thyme

salt/pepper

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Turn Instant Pot on saute function, heat olive oil and brown meat in batches, and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Deglaze pot with wine, scraping bits and cooking to allow some of liquid to cook off. Add more oil if needed, then add onion, carrots and celery, allowing to brown and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts cooking for an additional 5-6 minutes, until softening.
  3. Toss meat with cassava flour and meat juices.  Mix beef stock, balsamic, fish sauce and coconut aminos. Add meat and broth to pot, bay leaves and thyme and stir to mix.
  4. Close lid and start stew function. This will cook about 35 min. Allow to release pressure for 10 min.
  5. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking you can turn on the saute function and cook 10-15 min more. It was perfect for us without.