Long Days, Fast Years. I can't believe how true that statement is. Somehow we survived the frantic breast feeding challenges of the first days-weeks after Fredrik's birth, the sleepless nights of January through March, and the claustrophobia brought on by a bitter winter. Now summer is almost over, and my baby boy is 1yr old. So...what did we learn along the way?
I love Mayonnaise...It's one of my favorite condiments. But for a long time I avoided it, or made sure to buy the light versions because I thought all fats where bad. Now I know that healthy fats, even those found in mayo must be part of a healthy diet. The problem is that most mayonnaise and salad dressings on the market are made with soybean, corn, vegetable, or canola oil. None of these are great for our health and may actually lead to an increased risk for heart disease, dementia, and cancer. While there are brands on the market that use better quality oils such as the Primal Kitchen and Sir Kensington, which use avocado oil, these can get pretty pricy for the amount that you get. Typically about $10 per jar. So your next option is to make it yourself which brings the cost down to $3-4 per batch. If you are concerned about using raw eggs make sure to use PASTEURIZED eggs which are different from pasture raised eggs. As for what to make your mayo in, I have been using my vita-mix. I know many people who make theirs in a wide mouth mason jar using a stick blender. This seems like the easiest option but I don't own a stick blender (yet).
After trying out various recipes I think I've come up with my favorite ratios which are reminiscent of miracle whip.
1 whole egg (room temp)
1 tsp prepared dijon or yellow mustard
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar or lemon juice (or combination of them)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp or several grinds of fresh black pepper
1-3tsp swerve/erythritol/sugar (optional)
1 cup oil (unrefined sunflower oil, avocado oil, light olive oil)
1. Place first 7 ingredients into your blender or jar. Begin mixing on low speed. (1-2 on a vita-mix)
2. Slowly, slowly, slowly....Drizzle in your oil. I typically increase the speed to 2. Scrape down the sides and lid as needed.
3. Once all the oil is incorporated, transfer mayo to a clean jar if you used a blender. Put a lid on it and keep it in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.
The mayo may seem thin when it is first made, but it will thicken up once it's refrigerated.
What to use your new mayonnaise on or in? How about some Tuna Salad, Turkey/Chicken Salad, or 1000 Island Slaw!
For years we've been told that eating fatty fish or taking an Omega 3 fish oil supplement is good for us. It may help reduce cancer risk, heart disease, and memory loss. But how does this translate to kids? Here's little info/research on the use of Omega3 supplementation in kids.
Supports learning ability and behavior in kids.
May reduce ADHD behavior.
Reduces aggressive and antisocial behavior.
Fish oil or Omega 3 supplements come with 2 types of fat in them, EPA and DHA. Both have anti-inflammatory benefits; and this is why I recommend taking them together instead of just focusing on DHA for brain health. I've been giving Fredrik a supplement for several months now just to act as an "insurance policy." The recommended amount of DHA/day for kids 1-3 years old is 70mg. I take 1-2 of the Orthomolecular Springboard Omegas and pierce them with the tip of a knife and squeeze the oil into one of his bottles for an extra 90mg DHA and 50mg EPA. He hasn't been too keen on eating salmon, sardines, or oysters yet so I figure this, along with the DHA he gets from breast milk and formula, is hopefully setting his brain up for success. (Before he becomes a teen, has his own money, and rebels by eating fast food...)
I really like Orthomolecular products, but if you cannot find a medical professional near you who sells them, try Nordic Naturals instead. They are a well known brand sold in most health food stores, Whole Foods, and other retailers. Just like Orthomolecular their products supply fatty acids in the triglyceride form not the esther form which is much less absorbable. Ryan and I taste tested their kids chewable capsules compared to Orthomolecular and decided the Nordic Naturals was much tastier. Nordic Naturals also carries a gummy supplement that would work too. Good quality fish oil is more expensive; and it's worth it. Cheap fish oil, is often in the ester form and not well absorbed by the body. Also, that big-box store size container of fish oil is probably rancid leaving the fish oil more inflammatory than anti-inflammatory. Dr. Chris Kressor did a deep dive into fish consumption and fish oil (omega 3 supplementation). Since I try to keep my posts short, I'm defering to his page for more in depth information on these topics. Need even more research and digestible information? Head over to Gene Food's fish oil article.
Other food sources of pre-formed omega 3 fats include: egg yolks (1=50mg DHA), fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, trout, salmon, and herring, whole fat dairy, algae, and krill oil.
Sorry/not sorry....the ALA found in flax, chia, and walnuts is not readily converted into EPA/DHA in most people.
Several years ago a co-worker told me she didn't think she wanted to have kids because of what pregnancy would do to her body. Recently another friend said she was inspired by my ability to eat healthy and exercise, and essentially get back to being "pre baby Brenna" all with a newborn! Well....here's the thing, I'm not "pre baby Brenna" and I never will be. This friend said I gave her hope that she will be able to maintain her healthy lifestyle and body someday after she has kids. This didn't sit well with me. I've seen things on the web about this postpartum 'get your body back' BS, as well as women struggling with accepting their changing body during pregnancy. I just didn't know I would have to tackle it myself. I sent her the kindest e-mail response I could with a few of my thoughts regarding this topic; and I want to share some of what I have learned the past 10 months with all you.
1. Whenever you are ready to have a baby just know your body will never be the same.
I have a scar from my c-section, and up until about 7month postpartum it still felt weird and a little numb. No one will see it when I'm in a swimming suit, but if they could, I don't care. I worked my butt off for that scar.
2. Yes I lost the "baby weight" within the first month, but my tummy doesn't look like it used to. How could it? That picture is me at 40 weeks. The skin is still kinda loose, and my belly button is different. I didn't lose the line down the middle of my abdomen called a linea nigra until about 8mo pp. The only pants that currently fit are leggings and my workout shorts. Everything else is loose because I lost a lot of muscle mass in my booty and legs from not working out like I used to. It's super frustrating because it limits what outfits I can wear. This is not the problem most women complain of when it comes to their postpartum body. I haven't told many people this because I'm afraid they will judge me, and just give me a dirty look. About 3-4 months ago I finally get the courage to purchase a YMCA membership where I get 2hr of "free" child care so I can workout more consistently and hopefully rebuild some muscle.
Why haven't I bought new pants? I hated clothes shopping before baby, so now it's even less fun with the pressure of trying to fit it in between naps, feedings, snow storms, and now wanting to be outside in the sunshine. So I'm sticking with a couple of new stretchy skirts and gym shorts and a pair of yoga pants for the summer.
3. Sleepless nights = sugar cravings. I thought I was done with the midnight eating, but it still hit at times when I was breast feeding. My "will power" to say no to sugary treats is much less than it used to be. However, after munching on 5-7 chocolate covered pretzels at church several months ago and then testing my blood glucose and seeing it at 155; I'm slightly more inclined to pass these treats up. Unless I deem it 100% worth it (brownies are typically worth it). Ryan and I have made it a priority to continue eating as much real food as possible, but there are weeks when the Byerlys taco bar and Thai take-out make more appearances than hoped for. I use more pre-cut and frozen veggies in our meals, and 'recipes' need to be 3 steps or less. There's a lot of instant pot shredded chicken in our lives at the moment.
This is just to say, that no matter what your diet and exercise is before and after baby, your body will be different. Not better, not worse, just different. There's a good chance it may not look how you want it to. Get rid of the expectations to 'get your body back.' You don't have the body you did when you were 16, 20, or 30, why would you have the same one after a baby. The old you has died; you are reborn a mom.
I love their dressing, the spicy ketchup is delicious, and the chocolate collagen fuel is amazing stirred into coffee. If you aren't familiar with Primal Kitchen, let me introduce you! Mark Sisson has been a leader in the paleo/primal movement for years; his knowledge helped him create some of the tastiest and healthiest condiments on the market. No added sugar, no processed oils, no artificial anything. Just real ingredients that make your food taste even better.
While in high school and college, all my friends put ranch dressing on just about everything they ate, I did not. I DO NOT LIKE RANCH! However, I would put Primal Kitchen ranch on just about anything! But not ice cream... that would be gross. Believe it or not, it's even dairy free.
Ryan wasn't a huge fan of the Classic BBQ sauce (not sweet enough for him), but the Golden BBQ sauce is great on pulled pork. The spicy ketchup has found its way onto eggs, burgers, and even into stir-fry sauce. The steak sauce I bought at Christmas was incorporated into marinades and beef roasts; it was too cold and icy to grill steak this winter.
Enough about condiments, Primal Kitchen also sells whey protein powder, collagen, and protein bars. Ryan and I have started taking the protein bars with us for afternoon snacks. They are very low carb and even fit into a Keto diet. Since they aren't full of added prebiotic fiber, we can also eat an entire one each and not experience the 'windy' after effects. We also like that they aren't overly sweet and verging on glorified candy bar territory. I'll chat more about their products in the future but know that if you follow the pretty link on the side bar, you'll get 10% off your first online order when you use the promo-code EAT SIMPLE.
How many clients do you think have asked me to write them a meal plan? Not as many as you might think. Instead I teach them how to write their own weekly meal plan that fits their health goals and preferences. Some people want lots of variety and thrive on coming up with new recipes from cookbooks and pinterest. Other people just want to eat similar foods most days and do the bare minimum when it comes to cooking. Some families do well with theme nights for suppers, this is especially helpful for families with young kids or kids on the Autism Spectrum since it creates structure. It also helps take the thinking out of planning and grocery shopping. Maybe the "theme" is a type of meat or a type of cooking style. This allows for enough flexibility that taco night can be made with chicken, beef, or shrimp! Or chicken night could mean that it's grilled but it might also mean that it is roasted. Many families like to leave weekends open ended and use them as a time to eat up leftovers, eat out, or make a slightly more time intensive meal.
Monday - Burgers / Grill
Thursday- Stir Fry
Saturday - Leftovers
Meal planning helps us make a complete grocery list sometimes prevents me from buying things we don't need, or making more than one extra trip to the store during the week. Ultimately, it saves timed money. Despite buying a lot of the same things, we actually end up with a wide range of flavors thanks to different seasonings and dressings/sauces.
Since having Fredrik, our meal planning has changed several times over. Now that the weather is nice, we are trying to grill more, but also have to take into account the fact that he wants to eat too. While I'm all for serving him the same things we eat, not every food is appropriate for this.
ex: shoshito peppers, cabbage slaw, broccoli salad. Currently Fredrik has decided to boycott most meat and fish and eggs, must be a texture thing... I'm having get a bit creative with what I serve him. Anything mushy or crunch seems to be ok. Pickles, bananas, muffins, and teething crackers are favorites.
To stream line Ryan and I's lunches we have adopted the Mark Sisson 'Big Ass Salad'. I prep a giant bowl of salad stuff on Sunday, cook a couple packages of chicken thighs in the instant pot or now on the grill, and then divvy it all out for lunches Monday to Wednesday. I'm having a lot of fun creating homemade dressings or trying different Primal Kitchen flavors. Come Thursday we switch it up. Ryan usually ends up with a can of chicken mixed into a Trader Joes Indian Fare pouch and Fredrik and I eat various leftovers or make salmon/sardine/tuna salad. I know that Monday and Wednesdays need to be leftover nights since Ryan and I both work those days and get home too late to cook. A recent week of planning looked like this:
Weekly Salad - Asian (sesame dressing, bok choy, cilantro, sunflower seeds)
Sunday - bun-less burgers + 1000 island slaw (sweet potato for F)
Tuesday - sloppy joe meat (in freezer) + cauliflower rice (cauliflower patties for F)
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - turkey sausage skillet meal
Friday - pork loin + broccoli salad (steam broccoli for F)
Hope this helps you dear reader, now go forth and meal plan! Then grocery shop...
How does your family do meal planning? What works best for you?
For supper the other night Ryan grilled up some yummy grass fed beef burgers. I thought it might be fun to turn them into "big macs" with 1000 island dressing aka 'special sauce'. Instead the dressing ended up going on a bag of T.J. cruciferous crunch salad mix along with some sliced cherry tomatoes. IT WAS FANTASTIC! The dressing is adapted from Primal Cravings Cookbook. If you don't feel like making your own check out these dressing brands that don't use canola or soybean oil.
Why no canola oil? A recent study showed that canola oil increases our risk for Alzheimer's dementia, and we have known for a while now that soybean one of the common 'vegetable oils' is really not good for any cell in our body. Stick with monounsaturated oils like olive oil or avocado oil. Small amounts of polyunsaturated oils such as unrefined sunflower oil or unrefined safflower oil are fine too. Also, I'm not a zealot, so if all you can find is mayo made with unrefined canola oil....just buy it. It's certainly a better choice than using a brand made with soybean oil.
Now, onto the salad!
1/3 cup Mayonnaise or sour cream if you are like my sister and hate mayo.
2 tsp horseradish
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Ketchup
1/4-1/2 cup diced dill pickles or pickle relish
Salt/pepper to taste
1 bag cruciferous crunch salad or about 10oz of shredded cabbage/kale
1. Combine all ingredients except salad mix in a small bowl.
2. Toss dressing with salad mix/shredded cabbage.
3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.
Makes a great side dish, and then top with leftover meat/fish/shrimp....for lunch leftovers the next day
It feels like Fredrik has had a stuffy and runny nose since January. We affectionately call it the Kinder Crud since it came on soon after he started day care. For the most part it doesn't bother him too much at this point, and some of his symptoms could also be due to the high spring pollen here in MN, and also from teething. Either way, I've done what I can to support his immune system by feeding him real foods including coconut milk and almond milk yogurt, and recently sauerkraut to help get in some probiotics. AKA-Good Gut Bugs! Regular cows milk products can increase mucus production in many people, so avoiding it during a cold or allergy season can be beneficial. Besides this, I have also used several supplements by Orthomolecular. (FYI: we do sell Orthomolecular at Stepping Stone Clinic, however I do not make money on any sales, I just trust their products)
1. To continue supporting Fredrik's immune system and gut health, we started adding 1/2 scoop of Flora Boost to Fredrik's nighttime bottle. The only problem was it didn't dissolve 100% and would sometimes clog the nipple. Once he started solids/purees I simply stirred it into whatever he was eating that day. Now that he can chew softer foods I break up a Flora Bite into 2-3 pieces and he happily eats it down. I have noticed that when he gets it daily he tends to poop more. So if your little one is struggling with constipation (especially after a round of antibiotics), definitely consider starting these. The orange flavor (just like the old Flintstone push-pop) makes it a treat most kids will enjoy.
2. At the height of his night time coughing fits I started giving Fredrik Natranix, a natural cough syrup. It definitely seemed to help and he was able to get back to sleep much faster. My only regret was not starting it sooner. It tastes good and doesn't have any artificial colors/flavors so any kids with sensitivities to those would be fine taking it. Actually none of Ortho Molecular's products contain those.
3. Now that he is coughing less, I have started Fredrik on Immu Max to really help support his immune system. It's a nice blend of echinacea and propolis. I'm not sure if it is just that he is finally getting over the nasty winter Kinder Crud virus, or if the Immu Max is really helping, but recently he really seemed to be on the up swing. He also gets excited when he sees me pull out the bottle and syringe in the morning to give it to him, so that's a plus.
4. Since we live in Minnesota, and we know that babies do not get enough vitamin D from their mother's milk to prevent deficiency, I have also started Fredrik on 1-2 drop (1000iu) of Vitamin D +K each week. Our immune system needs vitamin D to work properly, and a deficiency has been linked to increased risk for infections and autoimmune disease. Ortho Molecular does make a kids liquid Vitamin D which is a much lower dose of 400iu. I just give him the higher dose less often, and take 2-3 drops daily myself.
I AM NOT A DOCTOR, please consult with yours before starting a new supplement. And, These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Ryan's mom likes to say that Fredrik is going to be a genius. That may or may not come true, but we do know that eating certain foods does appear to confer specific benefits to the brain. Max Lugavere, health & science journalist, wrote a book all about it, and aptly titled it "Genius Foods." I'm not going to do a lengthy review of the book, I'm just going to say that I really enjoyed it! Tons of well researched information, and presented in a way anyone can understand. Essentially it comes down to reducing inflammation, and providing the body with adequate vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So what are the top brain foods according to Max; and how can you and your family eat more of these foods?
Check out some of these recipes for inspiration:
Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli)- Steamed with butter for infants, broccoli salad for adults (use Swerve instead of sugar in the dressing).
Dark Leafy Greens - Ryan and I's current favorite way to eat these are in salads. A bag of cruciferous crunch salad mix from Trader Joe's added to chopped romaine and spinach makes it easy to get in a nice combination of greens. If you prefer your greens cooked, a quick sauté is nice, but after living in Georgia, southern collard greens is a real treat for us.
Avocado - While I happily eat avocados with just a dash of salt, Fredrik will not. He actually cries when I try to feed it to him plain. However, mashing it with frozen/thawed raspberries is favorite breakfast. Making chocolate avocado pudding will get you bonus points with your family.
Fatty Fish - Fredrik likes smoked salmon and canned oysters. For budget conscious families, make a salmon salad using wild caught canned salmon. We always buy the big can from Trader Joe's.
Nuts (almonds) - Try this yummy yummy almond banana coconut muffin.
Eggs - scrambled/egg bake/frittata/quiche/soufflé are a favorites around here.
Berries (blueberries) - Just eat them up plain, or top with whipped cream. Fredrik has recently discovered that freeze dried strawberries are a great snack. They are also part of this Strawberry Fluff.
Grass Fed Beef - Fredrik likes ground beef with a little marinara sauce, mild salsa, or creamy stroganoff sauce on it. Meatloaf is also easy for him eat. But a slow cooked roast, shredded or cut into chunks also works well as a meal all three of us enjoy.
Dark Chocolate (80%) - Make a chia pudding with cocoa powder and cocoa nibs. Personally I just grab a couple squares of the Montezuma dark 100% chocolate, and top it with whatever nut butter I have in the fridge. It's a brain boosting Reese's.
Olive Oil - After listening to Max and and his guest Nicholas in this podcast, I definitely believe in buying a better quality olive oil now. As Nicholas says, just POUR the oil onto your food. Or make a sauce like pesto or chimichurri to eat with your grass fed bee.
Coffee - Drink it black, or with cream, with collagen, or bulletproof with coconut and MCT oil. Just please please please find a replacement for fake creamers that are made with processed oils and high fructose syrup.
Yummy Yummy gluten and dairy free, no sugar added muffins! Seriously...these taste good. Fredrik is a fan of grabbing big chunks and shoving them into his mouth. Ryan likes to toast and top his with peanut butter, but that's how eats all flavors of muffins. I like mine with a big smear of butter on top.
1.5 cups almond flour or almond meal
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1 cup mashed banana (2 large) or mashed sweet potato
2 Tbs room temp butter or olive/avocado oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut. (or use raisins, chocolate chips, chopped pecans...)
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Prep muffin pan with either paper or silicone liners. I still give my silicone liners a little spritz of oil, just to prevent ANY sticking. It's probably overkill.
2. Combine the almond flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium bowl.
3. In a blender, or a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.
4. Stir/blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Then fold in the coconut.
5. Divide between the 12 muffin cups. Bake 20-30 minutes, until browned. (Mine needed about 23 minutes) Allow to cool completely before storing in a air tight container on your counter for a few days, or several months in a freezer.
1 muffin: 185 kcal, 15g fat, 9g carb, 3g fiber, 5g protein
I'm a dietitian with a passion for good nutrition, bold flavors, playing in the dirt, and being with my family.