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!