While some people raced out to buy vitamin c, zinc, and elderberry syrup when they heard that Covid19 had come to town, I started thinking about where we could find some of these nutrients in our food. Most people recognize vitamin C as being supportive of their immune system, and it's true. However, according to Chris Masterjohn MD, using high dose vitamin C supplements to ward off Covid19 may not be your best plan of action. Instead, like me, he recommends focusing on getting it through your food. Some of the most vitamin C rich foods around are herbs and spices. Did you think it was just oranges? The combination of turmeric, cilantro, and peppers in this sauce make it a vitamin C power house. Serve it up with some sweet potatoes or cauliflower rice and you've added a whole other level of vitamin C to your immune boosting dinner. Just incase you needed more reasons to add extra cilantro (coriander) to your diet, studies show that it may have anti-cancer properties as may aid in reducing migraine headaches.
I've adapted a Green Curry recipe from The Paleo Cookbook and made it crockpot friendly. Fredrik enjoyed watching me chop the onion, cilantro, and peppers and even helped dump the spices into the blender. This nutrient dense meal is easy peasy and delicious.
1 purple onion roughly chopped
1-3 jalapeños stemmed and seeded (more or less depending on your preferred spice level)
2 cups cilantro ( used the entire 2.5oz bag from Trader Joes, stems and leaves)
1/2 Tbs Turmeric
1/8tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1 can coconut milk or 2 cups sour cream/yogurt/kefir
Place 2.5-3 pounds of cubed chicken breasts or thighs in a crockpot. Pour sauce over the chicken and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4 hours. Serve over rice or with Naan and top with plain yogurt.
Keep it keto: serve over cauliflower rice or miracle rice
Pescatarian: Heat the sauce on the stove for 20-30 minutes to cook the onion. Then add shrimp or cubes of fish such as Mahi Mahi or Cod and gently simmer until cooked through about 5-10 minutes.
Make it vegetarian/vegan: Replace the chicken with 1-2 cubed potatoes, a can of chickpeas, and/or some fresh cauliflower. Paneer would also work, but similar to using fish I wouldn't cook it all day in a crock pot.
No Chicken left in the store: Replace with beef stew meat or cubed pork roast.
Ufff it's been a while since I've been on here. But that's life. Fredrik is growing so fast, and at times so slowly. I never knew babies and toddlers could really have a personality of their own, but they really do. Fredrik's has always been what we call 'expressive'. He feels every feeling fully and loudly. He also wants someone to play with him a lot of the time, he's very much an extrovert and social butterfly. Basically the opposite of myself. We also continue to struggle with him being a very picky / selective eater ; which makes me very disappointed.
Disappointment: sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.
I'm disappointed that Fredrik does not eat 95% of the foods I cook, and I'm beyond aggravated that he eats just about everything at day care. (Monkey See, Monkey Do) As a dietitian I cringe at how many processed carbs he eats and how many crappy oils are in his diet. I am also thankful that we have these foods available so that he has something to eat as we work through his sensory fears. I know that someday he will eat a wider variety of foods. However, this doesn't mean that I don't get jealous watching other people's kids gobble up the same dinner their parents are eating. I'm disappointed that I have no pictures of fredrik completely covered in spaghetti sauce, just a few of him with yogurt on his face from when he would still eat yogurt and let me feed him.
I'm disappointed that I now have the kid who hits and pulls and pushes. It's not every kid or all the time, but it's making play dates increasingly difficult and less enjoyable. This new behavior left me in tears as I drove home from our last music class on Sunday. Instead of singing and dancing and playing instruments, I played referee for 45minutes trying to keep him from hurting other kids. My friends all know this is age appropriate, but that doesn't necessarily make it that much easier to deal with.
These feelings of disappointment are normal, but no one tells you this when you are pregnant. What causes me to feel disappointed is different from every other parent. And no one tells you this as you are raising your child, except maybe your therapist. Your parents or friends might tell you that parenting is hard, but no one uses the D word. Some of this sadness feels like grief. Grieving the life you had before your child, grieving who you had expected to be as a parent and letting those expectations go. Letting go of the expectations you had for your child, and letting them show you who they are going to be (even if it's just a phase).
Here's the thing, I STILL LOVE HIM. I love his full belly laugh when he's being tickled. His excitement at seeing Dad come home from work; or seeing me when I pick him up from day care. I love watching him learn new skills and do silly things like putting his elephant in his potty chair and then walk around the house trying to show it to Samoa. I love the hugs and snuggles I get in the morning and after naps. I love watching him learn to pet Samoa 'gently' instead of chasing her off our laps. I love hearing him babble and sing when we drive in the car. (After the yelling and fighting to get him into the carseat of course.) I take solace in knowing that many of the things I don't like right now will change. There will be other disappointments along the way, and other new things to love.
I'm learning to accept this, and somedays it's easier than others.
I used to feel so smug...my baby would eat anything I fed him. Loved his beet puree, would gobble up liver pate, and even let me add turmeric to his yogurt. His favorite food was bread and butter pickles. I thought the whole baby led weaning thing was going great! And then a switch flipped. Around Mother's day he started teething, the extreme drooling, up several times a night, DON'T put me down kind of teething. The only thing he would eat for several days were freeze dried strawberries and puffs. Around this time he also began refusing to let me feed him (so no more yogurt or purees). Thankfully he continues to let day care feed him, and he eats everything they offer. This is very common and I've heard it from several other parents. Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing. Overtime he has started eating more foods again, but still prefers anything dry and crunchy over wet/mushy.
I recently listened to Dishing Up Nutrition, a radio show I used to be a part of since they were interviewing Jill Castle an RD on who works primarily with kids and teens. I've since started listening to her podcast regularly and really enjoy MOST of what she says.
I refuse to label Fredrik as a picky eater, he's only just over a year old and food jags and selective eating are typical. We continue to offer him new foods without pressure, and most of the time meat and anything soft/squishy ends up on the floor. Yes this is frustrating; I hate wasted food. However, it's much less stressful than trying to force him to eat something. To keep me from falling into the trap of feeding him the same things all the time, I keep a list on the of the foods he typically will eat, and make sure to serve at least one with every meal/snack. I actually emailed and asked Jill when picky/selective eating truly becomes a concern. She calmed my fears when she replied that between ages 4-6 kids should be eating a wide variety of foods. I heard another RD mention that by about age 2, most kids should be eating 30 different foods from each food group (fruit, vegetable, grains, proteins). Now, I know many adults that don't even eat 30 different fruits or vegetables, so I think this is a bit of a stretch. There are eating milestones that babies and toddlers should be meeting such as simply being able to chew both soft and crunchy foods. For more info on that check out this website.
For now there are more packaged/processed foods in my pantry than I would like; but Fredrik is growing and I know someday he will eat chicken and cauliflower and fresh fruit at home, not just at day care.
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
I'm a dietitian with a passion for good nutrition, bold flavors, playing in the dirt, and being with my family.