Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Recap- The highs and lows

It's been a while since I've written.  Life is busy!  Besides being consumed with school and the holidays, my heart has also been heavy at times.

The holidays tend to bring out a bunch of emotion- both good and bad- as you remember those close to you, those you miss, and those you are thankful for.  But this is a good thing! I believe God really reveals himself even more so in this time.

The truth is, this has been hardest year of my life.  For reasons only a few people know about really.  For the first time in my life, I had regrets.  Regrets for decisions I have made in the past year, and regrets I have made in past years.  I've never been one to have regrets because I do believe life has many lessons to teach- whether fair or not.  So I am working through this.

Pregnancy has been the biggest blessing through this...the unexpected miracle.  The healing of my body.  The surge of emotions and love towards this new being.  It has brought me and my husband closer than I could have ever imagined.  And it has completely unraveled me and whittled me raw as I encounter this new chapter of my life filled with the unexpected and unplanned.  The life beyond my life.  A love so deep that I could have never imagined for someone I haven't even met.

That is my heart.  And for which I now take each day a little less lightly and with a little more intent.  There is a deeper sense of purpose, whether I totally comprehend that purpose or not.

So this is not another recipe or health note. (but I plan on posting one later today!) Rather, I just needed to unwind and vent I guess.  Or maybe just be a little more raw.  Either way, I needed to just be honest with my readers because I believe honestly brings healing as well.

Some people will support your health journey, others will not.  Many will not understand. This is okay.  It is a reminder that God, our ultimate healer, really is the only one who will always be by our side, always understand, and will always be faithful. "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever..." Psalm 138:8

I pray that gives you peace as you reflect upon the past year and prepare for the new year ahead. Blessings and thanks for reading!

My 2014 Photo Recap <3

My first baby, Olly. Never thought I could love a nonhuman this much!

My amazing, God-honoring and God-fearing husband.

I found out I was pregnant on Labor Day!

Our Baby Announcement

Expecting April 27, 2015!

Love my sonogram pics

Getting use to having a baby bump ;o)

Sharing pregnancy with friends is the best!

Our gender reveal- it's a boy!

Bump is getting bigger!

Olly is getting so big!! He loves baby too.

Ray feeling the super active Jace Alexander Tuttle. He now likes
to kick my bladder and his favorite time of the day is evenings :o)

<3 Lindsay

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Infinity Scarf Giveaway!!!

Have you ever heard of Sensibly Rooted?  If not, you are missing out!

Founded this year by Kris and Monica, Sensibly Rooted is a shop on Etsy where you can purchase crocheted items, upcycled dresses, handmade goods, and paintings.  Based out of Ohio and Virginia, these girls are moms, wives, and friends who love to craft!  The girls work very hard on projects, and it is reflected in the quality of their products.

I have been blessed this Thanksgiving to offer readers a chance to get started early on their holiday shopping- without even leaving the comfort of their home! Sensibly Rooted is giving readers a chance to win a handmade Infinity scarf in the color of your choice!  

We are so thankful for our readers and supporters this holiday season, and I can honestly not think of a better day to do a giveaway than Thanksgiving. We are blessed by all the encouragement and wish blessings, health, prosperity and peace this holiday season to all our followers!

Have fun posting entries below and good luck! Contest closes at Friday midnight tonight in case you don't get a chance to look at your computer today (which is totally ok!!!) :o)

And don't forget to check out Sensibly Rooted at and

Happy Thanksgiving <3
Please click the specific "Invent Your Own Option" to see what is required.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Goat Cheese Quiche w/ Sweet Potato Crust- it's whats for breakfast!

Recently, I was fortunate to have dear friends over for a brunch.  Nothing makes my heart happier than to be surrounded by friends that are like family as I prepare for this week of Thanksgiving.  Between the hustle and bustle of everyday life, food brings people together.  Meals are memories and moments that we share together.

I am a big fan of brunch food and anything that involves quiche.  So being gluten-free and nutrition conscious, I wanted to make a creation that served dual purposes and was tasty too!

It's important I give this disclaimer. Raw dairy. I know I have talked about it on the blog before.  I know it makes some people cringe, and others worry for its possible effects.  I am lactose intolerant, so I have had to be conscious of my dairy intake for several years now.  If I don't?  Depending on what it is and how much I have, stomach indigestion and horrible constipation.

Believe it or not, since I went gluten free many months ago and eliminated some other problem food items and ingredients from my diet, I find that I tolerate dairy a whole lot better now.  Even more so, I tolerate raw dairy.

What's the difference? Raw milk products aren't pasteurized, and there isn't any reason they need to be if they are coming from free-range and grass-fed cows.  Pasteurized dairy, on the other hand, come from cows fed high-protein, soy feeds unless it's classified as organic.  This feed promotes proliferation of bacteria in animals and explains why it needs to be pasteurized.  In addition, pasteurization transforms the physical structure of milk proteins and alters the shape of the amino acids, making it highly allergenic.  It destroys the friendly bacteria in milk and reduces the vitamin and micronutrient content.  Also, it makes insoluble most of the calcium found in raw milk, which can lead to health issues and poor dentition in children.

Buying organic is key, but raw milk dairy is especially key if you have lactose intolerance.  It's filled with healthy beneficial bacteria, valuable enzymes, cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid, and high omega-3 and low omega-6 ratios.  That said, I had started having raw milk products prior to pregnancy, so I did feel more comfortable with that going into pregnancy.  Gauge your comfort level, and that can help you choose.  Currently, raw dairy needs to be labeled "for pet consumption only" because in Florida it is illegal to be sold for human consumption under the Commercial Feeds Distribution License.  Fortunately, there are great farms out there with excellent farming practices that have products at local farmer's markets that can be trusted.

Now that my schpeal is over, I'll get to the good stuff :o) I did use raw milk sour cream in my recipe, but I have also tested an organic, lactose-free, grass-fed cow brand whose yogurt I have also enjoyed, and I found their product to be equally desirable in taste. Have fun experimenting and enjoy this tasty quiche... it would make a perfect Thanksgiving morning breakfast!!

Blessings <3

Goat Cheese Quiche w/ Sweet Potato Crust

2 ground sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons butter, divided (I used Kerrygold brand)
2 teaspoons Himilayan sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
12 large organic eggs
1 1/2 cups raw or organic sour cream
4 ounces goat cheese
5 green onions, sliced thin
crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Himilayan sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a pie/quiche casserole dish with 1 tablespoon softened butter.  Cut parchment paper in a circle for the diameter of the bottom of the pan and another strip to fit the sides of the pan. Line the pan with parchment, pressing into the butter to adhere. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the side and bottom parchment layers.  Set aside.

Make sure the grated sweet potatoes are completely dry. Add them to a large bowl.  In another small bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 2 teaspoons Himilayan sea salt, teaspoon of black pepper and pinch of red pepper flakes.  Pour over sweet potatoes and toss lightly to coat.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.  Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven to cool.

Turn oven down to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add 11 eggs, sour cream, crumbles or softened goat cheese, green onions, 1/2 teaspoon Himilayan sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Whisk well to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the prepared crust without overfilling beyond the crust.  Bake 30 minutes.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.  Allow 20 minutes to cool before serving.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Better than Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup!

Soup.  Four letters that make me salivate.  Especially when it comes to creamy fall flavors.

Soup sometimes gets a bad rap for being super salty and filled with preservatives.  And for the most part, thats correct.  Canned soup is usually loaded with a day's worth of sodium, preservatives and not to mention it's usually in BPA-lined cans, which is an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics and resins.

But soup doesn't have to be unhealthy.  There are plenty of great ingredients and alternatives to keep your soup healthy and nutritionally rich.

Recently, I decided I wanted to create a healthier version of Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup.  But one bowl alone has 100% your daily total saturate fat, more than 60% your daily sodium recommendation, and not to mention trans fat.  I experimented with some different ingredients, including coconut milk and gluten free artisan flour, to create this creamy and delicious treat.  If not better-tasting (but I think it is!), you can at least be comforted that it is much lower in fat, sodium, and calories then Panera's version AND you can enjoy it for a couple days at a cheaper price :o)

Better than Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup!
1/3 cup butter (I used kerrygold)
1 1/2 cups yellow onion chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can light coconut milk (get BPA-free cans!)
5 tablespoons gluten free artisan flour
1 head of broccoli florets chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 container or 4 cups organic vegetable broth
12 ounces cheddar cheese shredded

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Add 1 can of coconut milk, garlic, and flour and stir to thicken.

Meanwhile, pour vegetable broth in your slow cooker and add thyme and chopped broccoli florets.  Add 3/4 your total amount of cheddar (I used two kinds: one from a local farmer's market and CABOT).  When onion mixture is thickened, add this to slow cooker.  Cover slow cooker with lid and put on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Turn heat to warm and add 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and the remainder of your shredded cheddar.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Soy Saga: The Truth About the Bean

I know this will offend some people.  The truth is I have wanted to write about this topic for awhile, but I knew I better get my facts together to write about it. Hence the two weeks off the blog. Oh, and being full time in my last year of nurse practitioner school and working. All my choice, but still...let's talk about soy :o)

I have only recently, since the beginning of July, stopped eating soy.  So prior to that, it really wasn't on my radar.  I had heard bits and pieces about soy milk not being all that great, so I had nonchalantly switched to almond milk.

In addition, I had gone vegetarian last year.  Not really for any particular reason, except for the influence of the documentary Forks Over Knives (Food Inc. is better!) and because I wanted to expand my palate to different options.  Goodness, I love animals, but I personally believe that humans are a superior race and we can eat whatever we want.  Opinion clearly.

However, when I got really sick the beginning of the summer, it became apparent to me that items in my diet needed to change.  Not because they aren't ok for some people, but they aren't ok for me.  I had noticed over the last couple of months more irregularity with my period, less endurance, more tiredness, more irritability.

The fact of the matter is, I know from my history of having a eating disorder years ago, consistent bloating, food sensitivities, and stomach cramps, there has been some leaky gut and irritable bowel-like symptoms along the way.

Believe it or not, soy is one of the most common culprits of food sensitivities.  It's found often in tofu, protein bars, salad dressings, and many processed foods.  Let's look at a list of other names for soy, soy-containing ingredients, and ingredients likely to contain soy that you are probably not aware of:

Other names for soy: 
Bean curd                                         Soy Sauce
Bean sprouts                                    Soybean
Edamame                                        Soya/Soja
Kinako                                              Tamari
Miso                                                  Tofu
Natto                                                 Tempeh
Okara                                                Yuba

Soy-Containing Ingredients:
Hydrolyzed soy protein                   Soy grits
Mono- and di-glycerides               Soy lethicin
MSG                                                  Soy nuts
Soy                                                    Soy protein
Soy albumin                                     Soybean oil
Soy flour                                           Teriyaki sauce
Soy grits                                           Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Ingredients Likely to Contain Soy:
Bouillion Cubes                                Hydrolyzed plant protein
Bulking agent                                   Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Flavorings                                         Mixed Tocopherols
Gum arabic                                      Natural Flavoring (may be soy-based)
Guar gum                                         Vegetable Shortening
Lecithin                                             Vegetable Broth
Stabilizer                                           Vegetable Starch
Thickener                                          Vitamin E (often contains soybean oil)
Vegetable Oil

Some of you may be thinking that none of your food contains these ingredients or you have never heard of them.  I encourage you to check your food labels and see how common they really are, and how they are probably in the large majority of foods that you own.  So why should you care?

Branded as "healthy," the large majority of soy in the United States is genetically-engineered (GMO).  The long term effects are unknown, but some of the effects we do know of are staggering.  Here are some:

1) Soy has one of the highest concentrations of goitrogens, a compound that interferes with thyroid function, especially if you have hypothyroidism.  According to a randomized, double-blind, crossover study performed by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, there is a 3-fold increased risk of worsening hypothyroidism with dietary supplementation of soy.

2) Soy is often contaminated with high levels of aluminum, which can be toxic over time

3) Soy contains anti-nutrients that can inhibit the absorption of nutrients for your body

4) Soy protein is incomplete and inferior to animal protein

5) Pay attention females: the phytoestrogens in soy can disrupt your hormones and potentially contribute to infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.  In 2009, a Brazilian study looked at the impact of soy on the female reproductive system of rats and found that soy consumed for 15 months produced significant changes in the uterus and reproductive cycles, compared with rats given no soy or organic soy.

6) Soy tends to be processed heavily to make up ingredients labeled on "healthy" food

You may not be allergic to soy, but you certainly can be sensitive to it.  IBS and similar digestive issues are frequent manifestations of a sensitivity.  The best way to find out if soy afflicts you are to start an elimination diet.  When you start to reintroduce small amounts of soy back into your diet, you can see what effect it has on you.  The paleo diet is a great resource for a soy free diet, and you can find more information on elimination diets at

Now before you get the impression that I think soy is evil and of the devil, let me explain some of the good effects that have been found from good, non-GMO sources of soy for people that do not have soy sensitivies:

1) According to a research study performed by the Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism, soy protein was found to possibly have a positive influence on bone and calcium homeostasis in postmenopausal women, particularly those not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

2) According to the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, no hormonal effects were found in infants and children fed soy protein formulas

The best for choice for you? Well, that's up to you, but certainly non-GMO, organic soy is seemingly the best choice for many individuals.  For those with gut issues, consider following an elimination diet or one that promotes the absence of soy to see how you feel and contribute to your gut health!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Apples to Apples: A healthy Autumn dessert!

I'm obsessed with everything fall.  The weather, the holidays, the decorations, the food.  Suddenly its ok to eat things you wouldn't normally eat during the year- pumpkin, candy corn, turkey leftovers, cranberry sauce and stuffing.  Like seriously, find me somebody who regularly eats cranberry sauce.  Do these people exist?

I won't deny I tend to have a sweet tooth.  I don't go overboard with it, but there is no denying I need something sweet in my day.  Whether this is a piece of dark chocolate, fresh picked strawberries, or baked sweet potato fries topped with cinnamon- there has to be something sweet in my day!  Recently, I have been craving apples. I used to shudder at the thought of eating a granny smith; now they are one of my favorites!!

I needed to make a paleo friendly dessert for a party, and I decided apples were the best fit. I wanted to make a gluten free paleo apple crisp that wasn't too sweet but tasty too.  Fortunately, there are a lot of options available for those who are trying to stay gluten free.  Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, leaky gut, or have an autoimmune disease, gluten free is the way to go.

To touch lightly on the topic, gluten should be avoided by people with the above stated conditions because it causes gut irritation, stimulates the immune system (in a bad way), increases gut permeability, and thus causes inflammation.  Gluten causes direct gut cell wall injury that can take anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks to repair after it is consumed.  Fo those with celiac disease, it can take years of banning gluten before the intestines completely heal.  For healthy individuals without celiac disease or gut sensitivity, the damage to individual cells and junctions between them that can be caused by gluten is seemingly quick to heal; anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks.   So healthy individuals will usually be asymptomatic from exposure to gluten.

Just to be clear about gluten sensitivity, it is extremely undiagnosed. Gluten intolerance is expected to affect up to 20% of the American population, which should give us a clue that our grains are not the same our grandparents grew up with.   In addition, it is estimated 1 in every 100 Americans suffer from celiac disease but only 5% are diagnosed.  Why is this being unaddressed in the medical world?

Fortunately, more and more institutions and restaurants are offering gluten free options for patrons.  And more and more recipes are available to navigate your way through gluten-free.  My gluten-free apple crisp is a great start- and gets rave reviews!

Gluten-free Apple Crisp

4 cups apples-use a variety! (peeled, cored and sliced thin)
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
2 tsp of lemon juice (I fresh squeeze a lemon)
2 tbsp pure honey
1 tbsp of coconut sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice

Crumble Topping

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cashew meal or flour
4 tbsp ground walnuts
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp coconut oil
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine apples, coconut milk, coconut sugar, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice.  In a separate small mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the crumble topping.  Mix until crumbly.  If too dry you can add more coconut oil. 

Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and pour mixture into pan.  Evenly sprinkle the crumble topping over the apple mixture.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until apples are tender.

Serve and enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Acorn Squash Delight!

What to do with an acorn squash? Good question. I have never cooked one before and it has been sitting in my refrigerator for the past week.  But I was determined to make a yummy and healthy creation- especially knowing how nutritious acorn squash is!!

Did you know acorn squash is more nutrient-dense than all other summer squash?! It's rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidant compounds.  The health benefits are numerous: the ability to boost your immune system, prevent certain types of cancer, improve vision, protect the skin,  strengthen the bones, reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, and maintain proper circulation. 

The chart below gives you the exact nutritional information for acorn squash and all the squashes- so you can see how they all add up!

Nutritional ValuesAcorn SquashButternut SquashHubbard SquashSpaghetti SquashPumpkinDried Pumpkin & Squash Seeds
Dietary Fiber2g3g0g0g1g1g
VitaminsA, B1, B6, C & FolateA, B6, C, E, Folate & NiacinA, B1, B6 & CC, B6, Niacin & Pantothenic AcidA, B1, B6, C, E, Folate, Niacin & RiboflavinK
MineralsPotassium, Manganese, MagnesiumPotassium, Manganese, Magnesium, CalciumPotassium, Manganese, MagnesiumManganesePotassium, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, PhosphorusManganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, Copper, Zinc

So this is seriously the most delicious recipe ever.  My husband was in love.  And only required 5 ingredients.  I used a little inspiration from Paula Dean's brown sugar rub (who I still think is a good person) and a little chicken salad creation I made a couple days ago. Enjoy!!

Acorn Squash Delight

1 acorn squash 
Brown sugar rub: 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp maple syrup or 1 tbsp honey (I used honey)
Protein filling- I used chicken salad made with organic chicken, organic whole milk maple cream yogurt, organic dill, and pesto

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Set aside.  Make brown sugar rub. Coat the acorn squash (not the skin).  Put on baking sheet (with aluminum foil if preferred).  Bake for 60 minutes.

Fill the inside!!!  I mixed shredded chicken, yogurt, pesto and dill.  Now you have a delicious, healthy, low carb and calorie meal!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pregnancy Diet Bloopers!

They weren't kidding when they said there would be weird cravings and aversions when your pregnant.

No, I'm not craving salty pickles or mayonnaise or Fritos. Not the usual hot, spicy, creamy, smooth textures.  Rather, I have been craving really all the stuff I've always liked: salads, chicken, fruit, smoothies.  The abnormals? Cheese, cheese and more cheese!!!

Now guys I'm lactose intolerant. In no way does that mean I have kept ice cream, frozen yogurt, and cheese out of my resume.  This girl has a Menchies frozen yogurt member card, and she is not afraid to use it.  But rather than get the sweets, I have been indulging my calcium craving with raw milk goat, cow, sheep cheese from Whole Foods, Earth Origins, and farmers market alike.  It's been fun to experiment and try different cheeses that I have never tried before.  In addition, I have found that I don't have a problem with raw milk and unpasteurized cheeses. And fortunately, the raw/unpasteurized milk and cheese during pregnancy myth has been debunked by numerous sources, including the book I reviewed in a previous post Beautiful Babies.  In fact, you are more likely to get listeria and dangerous bacteria from pasteurized milk cheeses that have been improperly pasteurized. This gets discussed at, where they also discuss great cheeses to choose from if you are pregnant or just appreciate the health benefits of consuming raw and unpasteurized dairy products!  In addition, you can see the benefits of raw milk and all that it protects and promotes at  It explains the pasteurization and homogenization process and how it destroys vitamins and interferes with calcium absorption, as well as causes nutrient degradation.

Now having been on a strict paleo diet for health reasons this summer, I did feel really guilty when I felt like I was giving part of this diet up (many pale followers omit dairy).  When the nausea came roaring in, and I was at work about to keel over, I ran to grab saltines.  Devastated by the ingredients listed, I was determined to not eat them again.  Until I was nauseas again 10 minutes later.

Giving up the things I cannot control has been part of my pregnancy journey.  I have decided to follow a diet that I believe is most beneficial for my health and what I think is best for the baby, and I gauge how I feel to stay on track.  This includes staying gluten free and soy free, and keeping sweets at a minimum, which I will explain in later posts.  If I need to adjust this list, based on how I feel I will.  I am a firm believe that pregnancy is not an excuse to go crazy wild on an eating-whatever-you-want escapade.  This is the time it really counts. I'm not just responsible for me...

I'm responsible for the baby inside of me.

The times I've had my hands clutching the toilet, and when I have gotten random reflex and unrelenting's all ok.  God's there, he is seeing me through every part of the journey, all the ups and downs, all the things I haven't expected. All the times I am scared I could be doing something wrong or that I have made a mistake.  The times when I fear I could be hurting the baby.  He is with me.  For this, I am thankful.

Ultimately, He is in control.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Baby Miracle

Gosh I have wanted to blog about this forever.  It all started on Labor Day (oh the irony!). I had experienced some symptoms that I was confused by: no appetite at breakfast, horrible acne, and my boobs were painful and HUGE.  Being flat as a board most of my life, yeah, these are things you notice!

Nonchalantly I asked my husband Ray to buy a couple pregnancy tests. Why not? I was not expecting it to be positive at all, as we were not trying.  I was still trying to work through some health issues, and I'm a little over a year from graduating from grad school.  I had intended on not getting preggo till I was done with school and everything was just perfect. Like that ever happens!

I was in complete shock when I took my first pregnancy test.  Forget about waiting 5 minutes for that blue was instantaneous!!  I just stared at it literally for 10 minutes.  What a surreal moment. This plastic stick all of a sudden changed my future forever.

I ran outside and called Ray to come look.  He was in complete shock. Let me tell you again, we were not trying and the only way this could have happened was if the one time we had not used protection (I do not do birth control) in the last 6 months, it happened.

Guys do you know how crazy that is! I felt like this teen girl who miraculously gets her own MTV sitcom and is like "um yeah, mom I don't know how this happened." I mean obviously I do but for real? Is this for real?

The next few days were filled with crazy emotions. Shock, disbelief, joy, and honestly fear and guilt.

The shock and disbelief were because my whole life I thought it would be difficult for me to get pregnant.  I had anorexia most of my young teen life and did not get my period naturally until I was 25. 25 people. I'm 27 1/2 now if that gives a clue.  I had started birth control when I was 16 to get my period because I was so underweight and my doctors were concerned about my hormones and bone density mass.  I felt like in some ways my body had gone way beyond repair.  But God proved this all wrong.

That's where joy comes in. It is a complete miracle I got pregnant. Being on birth control for almost 7 years (16-23) and with my past medical history....this shouldn't have happened.  I got very sick in June and as I wrote in my blog post Beautiful Babies, I did not believe that I was healthy enough to get pregnant.  But God fulfilled the promise he made to me when I was 16 and broken and when I had believed I lost everything.

Jeremiah 29:11-13. "For I know the pans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Despite knowing this, I would be lying if I said I didn't experience fear.  Fear because I felt so unprepared to be a mom. Look guys, I don't go out of my way to volunteer in the church nursery or to babysit everyone's children.  I have no intentions on being a stay at home mom (at least at this point).  I am studying to be a family nurse practitioner but textbook is different from reality. I don't know what to expect and I'm not one of those people who love suspense. I like knowing whats happening and having a plan.  I wish I knew everything would be alright, but I just don't.

And then I felt guilt. Guilt because I have friends and know people who have tried to get pregnant for years without success.  I felt bad that we weren't even trying to get pregnant and still got pregnant, and not in the timeline I wanted.  But God confirmed to me that this guilt was unfounded and this miracle was for me and it was for right now. This was the time and this is what He wanted.

Romans 11:33 "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!"  He knows the right time. He has blessed this time.

He has given me this gift, and I can honestly say now I am sooo excited about it! He has given Ray and I the opportunity to know one of life's deepest joys: serving another with selfless love. And He has given us delight in His creation.

I'm excited for you to come with me on this journey, as I share more of my pregnancy on the blog.  Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes. We are very blessed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I didn't always like salmon

Two years ago I hated salmon. My fish menu consisted of shrimp, shrimp, and more shrimp (you know, that crustacean that is a bottom dweller that feeds on parasites and dead skin? eww). I had tried it once years ago and absolutely hated the taste. I vowed never to eat red, fatty fish again (remember my anti-fat kick?)

Then Alaska happened. No I didn't meet Sarah Palin or see grizzly bears.  My husband and I went to Alaska on our two year anniversary and I vowed that this was it. It was go time. If I didn't like Alaska salmon, well, then I could put this salmon business to rest.

I didn't like it. Not once, but twice. Now granted the first time was on the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship, where I shouldn't have expected a fine dining experience. But the second time was made by the Tillicum tribe on Blake Island, off the port of Seattle. It was an authentic salmon bake.  I just couldn't stomach it.

Downcast and disappointed, I returned home to Sarasota still disliking salmon. Then a friend of mine at home insisted I give it another try.  Having soaked it in seasonings and wine (how can you go wrong?) for days upon days, she then cooked it on a cedar plank.

If I could eat that salmon every day for the rest of my life I would. It was the best salmon I had ever had, and Im convinced it changed my taste buds completely.  Following that day, salmon became a staple at our house.  Whole foods fish department knows who I am, and they know I like salmon.

Salmon is pretty all star.  Out of all the fish in the sea it is one of the lowest in contaminants and mercury.  Rich in B6, B12, selenium, Vitamin D, phosphorus, and Vitamin B3, salmon is also a great source of protein.  In addition, a 4 oz serving provides at least 2 grams of omega 3 fats, which is more than the average U.S. adult gets from all food over the course of several days.  What's so great about omega 3s? A lot of things! They help improve cardiovascular health, mood and cognition, give joint protection, have eye benefits, and provide decreased cancer risk.

Okay now this is kind of a big deal. Salmon is king when it comes to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is essential for the growth and functional development of brain in infants.  DHA is taken up in the brain preference over other fatty acids, and is found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and surprisingly enough in breast milk.  According to the Pharmacological Research scientific journal, deficiencies of DHA are associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cystic fibrosis, and depression.  Decreases in DHA in the brain with age are associated with cognitive decline and onset of sporadic Alzheimer's disease. Not cool.  Obviously, salmon has got the goods and is important for health!

Something I have been desperately wanting to recreate this past month is a healthy salmon salad that delivers in the taste department.  My taste buds have been a little weird lately, and I have been craving salmon salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad, etc. But how to make it mayo free and nutrient rich? That was the challenge!

Hope you like :o)

Lindsay's Salmon Salad:

Start with grilled wild-caught salmon filets. They can be off the grill, from the oven, or off the stovetop. Then add these ingredients to taste and texture you prefer. Im basing my measurements off two 4 oz, salmon fillets

1/4 cup plain coconut milk or greek yogurt (no reason to get low fat folks because it's probably loaded with sugar; I like SoDelicious brand because it is soy free and dairy free)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1-2 teaspoons lemon
2 teaspoons dill
2 teaspoons kelp granules
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of himilayan sea salt
1/4 cup chopped avocado (optional)
1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)
1/4 cup capers (optional)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I needed a date with Starbucks

I really really really needed a date with Starbucks. I haven't had caffeinated coffee since early June and hadn't had decaf in weeks.

But that green mermaid calls to me.  And If there is one thing that fall and cooler weather always bring out of me is a love of every warm drink.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that the majority of Starbucks drinks are unhealthy, as well as many kinds of hot chocolates and drinks.  I remember going through a phase 4 years ago when I made it a habit before working my routine overtime shifts to stop at 7-11 and get a hot chocolate or french vanilla cappuccino.  I figured running over 50 miles a week could easily negate the bad habit.

But can it?

The short answer is no. With cooler weather upon us, it's important to make wise choices when it comes to drinks that soothe the soul.  Let me give you an idea of the ingredients and nutrition in some of your favorite drinks:

Pumpkin spice latte:

A classic favorite. Let's say you're trying to be good and get a grande with skim milk (please NEVER get soy!) and whip.

16 oz
Cal: 330
Fat: 7
Carbs: 52
Sugar: 50

Do you know that in that drink alone you are getting more sugar than what is recommended daily? The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends Americans cut back on sugar, eating less than 5% of their daily calories from it. For an adult at a normal body mass index (BMI) or 20-25, this would be around 25 grams of sugar- or 6 teaspoons. This drink already puts you over the top!

Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate-  1 packet-

Cal: 138
Fat: 3
Carbs: 27
Sugar: 21
Protein: 2

First of all, this is the drink prepared with water- not even milk! Want to know the first 5 ingredient? Corn syrup, sugar, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, and nonfat milk.  And don't bother getting a sugar free version. Be prepared for more "natural" artificial flavors, which can be GMOs and other synthetic materials.

Now for the big one. My previous addiction. 7-11 Fat Free French Vanilla cappuccino. Back when I thought fat was the devil. Lets say I was being good that day and got a small ;)

7-11 Fat Free Vanilla Cappuccino.

Cal: 250
Fat: 1
Carbs: 56
Sugar: 38
Protein: 4

There are nearly 20 ingredients, and all are creative names for corn syrup. Talk about putting chemicals and toxins in the body. What's bad is these bad drinks can become are norm in the rush of life, when it's cold outside, and when we just need to indulge that sweet tooth.

But there are other ways.

Like I said, I needed a date with Starbucks.  I was wondering, how can I make this drink taste like pumpkin spice but keep it healthy?

I got a tall decaf and added 2 tablespoons full fat organic coconut milk and a couple tablespoons of my organic vanilla SO DELICIOUS brand coconut milk. You could also use SO DELICIOUS coconut milk coffee creamer.  Then I added a little bit of cinnamon and little bit of pumpkin spice, plus 1 drop stevia.  It was a perfect dairy-free, healthy treat!

So enjoy your hot drink, grab a blanket, and cozy up for some football and enjoy the fall in the air ;o)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Get Energized! Carrot Cake Power Bites

So I've been kind of slacking this week. On blogging that is.

Between work, homework, school, clinicals, and that thing called "a life," I've been a bit busy.  But if there is one thing I have learned about busyness, it's that you can't let it interrupt your flow with your eating.  Stress should not equal stress eating.

The stress hormone cortisol depletes your blood sugar and makes you hungry. This can make you crave sugar and carbohydrates that provide that temporary energy and "high," but will lead you to a crash later.  This vicious cycle leads you to crave more unhealthy foods.

Even worse, this excess cortisol takes excess calories straight to the gut! If not put into check and kept continually elevated by the stress-response system, this can disrupt almost all of your body's processes.  This puts you at risk for anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and brain fog.

There's simple ways to break this cycle. Eating a protein rich breakfast (forget the sugary, corn-filled cereal!), eating low glycemic whole foods, eating small, frequent meals, and finding new "comfort" foods are a great start. Pressing the reset button on your diet and intake can help give your body the nutrition it needs!

Right now I'm all about finding the snacks. Getting a couple bites here and there to keep hunger at bay, get the energy AND the nutrition I need.

One of my faves is these Carrot Cake Power Bites. The main ingredient-carrots- have great antioxidant, cardiovascular, and vision benefits; not to mention that they are rich in digestive-tract supporting fiber! I've made them a few times, and every time they don't last long.  They contain simple ingredients and there are lots of alterations you can make.  You can take them to work, school, or just have them at home readily available as snacks.  They will give you healthy energy that your body will love!

Carrot Cake Power Bites

6-8 pitted Medjool dates
1 cup finely shredded carrots (can be easily pulsed in food processor!)
1 cup ground sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded organic coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until a thick mixture forms and begins to formed in a large ball.  Form into size of your choice. Store in fridge until eating (usually take about 30 minute to set). You can store leftovers in the freezer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Fall Y'all! Paleo Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Ok maybe not technically. But let's just say I have been looking forward to September 1st for a while. When you live in Florida, every day closer to summer being over is a small victory.

Let's be real. Fall is where it's at!  Between football and cooler temps, it's got it all. Personally, one of my favorite things about the fall is getting that pumpkin out and cooking and baking up a storm!!

Sure, you can eat pumpkin anytime. You can get your Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.  But did you know that pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods to eat- and it doesn't matter what time of year!

What is so great about pumpkin?

1) Pumpkin is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food- so it helps joint health, organ health, and soft tissue injuries.

2) It is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, so it protects the eyes and immune health.  A 1 cup serving of pumpkin contains more than 7 times the daily value of Vitamin A!!

3) Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which helps wash out toxins and improve digestion.

4) The pulp and seeds are rich in magnesium for bone and tooth health.

5) It can help you meet your iron needs! This helps make hemoglobin which helps transport oxygen throughout the body.

6) Pumpkin is high in zinc, providing almost half the daily recommended intake of zinc!  Zinc helps support female reproductive health and fertility, as well as helps to prevent cancer and boost immune health.

7) Forget bananas! Pumpkin is one of the highest sources among fruits and vegetables in potassium! This helps with cardiovascular health and aids in muscle and electrolyte recovery.

Here is a pumpkin bread recipe to get you started that is a perfect grain free, dairy free, soy free, GMO free and added sugar free to get you started! Please check out the recipes tab soon for other fall favorites that include pumpkin!

Paleo Pumpkin Bread
5 large eggs
1 cup of organic pumpkin or pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter (I used oil!)
1/2 cup organic coconut flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (try to use organic brand. I have found non-organic has HFCS)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp pumpkin spice or cinnamon
1/4 cup organic shredded coconut (optional)
A few drops stevia extract (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients with a whisk in a medium sized bowl.  Put into greased muffin tin, loaf dish, or 8 x 8 baking dish. Bake for 20- 25 minutes until lightly browned (will need only 18-20 minutes for muffins).

Enjoy for breakfast, for a snack, or to accompany any meal!