We Eat/She Eats and Motivation for Monday (well… Tuesday)

We’re running a little late here because we got invited over to the neighbor’s for some playtime on the porch after our afternoon nap yesterday, but here’s your update:

Goals for the Week:

  1. Continue to eat less sugar.  We did okay last week.  Then I baked a batch of cookies.
  2. Keep pushing the water.  It’s hot and so hard to keep up with nursing A while remaining hydrated.
  3. Snack on fruits and veggies.

T25 is going great so far.  I finished week one, getting all of my workouts in and doing the Sunday Stretch workout, as well.  I feel great and my back pain finally seems to be receding.  I haven’t noticed any major movement on the scale, but I have a lot more energy and a lot of muscle to rebuild.

We Eat/She Eats

Monday:
We Ate: Tomato & Goat Cheese Bruschetta (we had both eaten really late lunches)
She Ate: Yogurt with Pear Sauce, Cheerios, Watermelon, Ground Chicken (weekend leftovers)
Tuesday:
We Eat: Grilled Rib Eye (Grass Fed), Herb Roasted Potatoes (local potatoes with herbs from our garden), Steamed Asparagus
She Eats: Ground up steak (depending on how tender the meat is), potato, steamed asparagus bits, watermelon for dessert

Wednesday: I have to work, so I’ll prep Jason and A’s dinner before I leave.
We Eat: Burger & Homemade Fries for Jason
She Eats: Sauteed Ground Beef (Grass Fed), with Fruit & Cottage Cheese

Thursday:
We Eat: Spaghetti and Meatballs (Homemade – Pioneer Woman Recipe – Frozen)
She Eats: Alphabet Pasta, Cottage Cheese, Leftover Steamed Carrots

Friday: BBQing with Friends on the Lake
We Eat: Bringing Watermelon Salad (Recipe to Come) & Italian Lemon Cake
She Eats: We’ll bring watermelon, Cheerios and Yogurt for A (and likely give her bits of chicken, as well)

Saturday:
We Eat: Sausage, Zucchini, Parmesan Cheese & Pasta
She Eats: Steamed Zucchini, Pasta, and Cottage Cheese

In the spirit of truthful reporting, we managed to follow our menu exactly last week, except for Wednesday when I had to work and I came home and made French Toast for dinner for myself, mac and cheese for Jason and pasta bits, peaches and yogurt for A.   This is the entire reason why we’re doing a freezer meal for when I work on Thursday.  Gone are the days of putting A on her play mat in the kitchen and cooking while she watched on her back.

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We Eat/She Eats & Monday Motivation

I haven’t talked a lot about this here, but I’ve thrown my back out twice since having A.  And I’m not talking little pull, I’m talking trip to the physical therapist with intense therapy and take home exercises.  The last time, she suggested I sharply increase my cardio and ab work, and after month of healing and increasing my fitness level, I bought T25 and spent last week doing a week of the modified program.  As such, I’m going to call this week my first week, and I’m hoping to chronicle my progress here, along with a series I’m going to call We Eat/She Eats because introducing a tiny person to solids is so much more time consuming than I expected.

Goals for the Week:

Cut out some of the sugar.  Jason has an extremely active job.  He burns calories like a machine, so he can get away with eating a lot of things that I shouldn’t (and can’t).  As such, I do a lot of baking for him.  Baking that I sometimes sample with my morning coffee.  This week, I’m trying to cut back and focus on natural sugars: fruits & veggies, using a square or two of dark chocolate for dessert.

I’m also hoping to get back to drinking water like I was before we went on vacation (for me that’s somewhere in the range of 100 – 120 ounces a day), which I desperately need to keep hydrated while nursing A in this very warm weather.

Complete Week One of T25 using only the modifications necessary to protect my back.  So far, so good – I wrapped up day one at 5:15 a.m.

We Eat/She Eats – Week One

Disclaimer: I’m NOT a doctor or dietician.  A is still primarily breastfed, and we’re feeding her along the guidelines of our pediatrician.  She has done purees successfully but now wants finger foods, so that’s where we are — tiny bite sized bits that she scoops up with great abandon.

A few notes.  We typically eat local, hormone and antibiotic free meat (much of the chicken we raise ourselves).  Veggies at this time of year come from the grocery store, but are slowly being supplemented by our garden produce.  Beyond that, while Jason & I don’t eat a totally organic diet, we do the best we can to ensure that what Amelia eats is as safe and pesticide free as possible.

Monday:
We Eat: Pre-Baked BBQ Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce, Boiled Sweet Potatoes, & Peas
She Eats: Bits of Chicken, Mashed Sweetie Potatoes (Sweetie Potatoes are sweet potatoes pureed with breast milk and served in little chunks on her tray), & Chopped up Peas, Cheerios

Tuesday:
We Eat: Hamburgers on Sandwich Flats with Salad
She Eats: Diced Avocado with Bananas and Cheerios, leftover Chicken if there is any

Wednesday:
We Eat: Indian Chicken (Seeds of Change Sauce) with Brown Rice and Broccoli
She Eats: Chopped up Brown Rice, Bits of Chicken, Steamed Broccoli Bits,

Thursday:
We Eat: Pork Tenderloin (Grilled or Roasted, depending on weather), Roasted Potato & Braised Carrots
She Eats: Bits of Pork Tenderloin (pureed or finely shredded), Braised Carrots, Steamed Broccoli Bits (leftovers), Cheerios

Friday:
We Eat: Homemade Veggie & Pepperoni Pizza on the Grill
She Eats: Organic Alphabet Pasta with Chicken & Sweetie Potato Puree (Freezer), Yogurt with Pear Sauce

Coming to Terms with Gestational Diabetes

When my doctor handed me the lab slip for the one hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) two weeks ago, I barely thought about it.  I listened to my nurse’s advice about what to eat the morning before (peanut butter toast – something with a good mix of carbs and protein) and headed out of the office.  My risk factors were minimal: I wasn’t overweight before I got pregnant, I exercise regularly (even after having to take a few weeks off early on because of morning sickness), and I eat a healthy diet, though I am over thirty and both of my grandmothers developed Type 2 Diabetes later in life.

I followed up with the blood screening on a Monday morning, following a meeting at work, and was, perhaps, a bit too surprised when I called the office Wednesday to find out that I’d failed the GTT.  And not a little fail… a big fail (191) that would jump me right past the three hour exam and into the capable hands of the hospital’s diabetes educator and dietician.

I’ll admit that I went through several of the stages of grief… focusing mainly on anger.  I eat healthily.  I can’t tell you the last time I had a soda or much more than a jellybean or two of processed candy, but I did go a little overboard with this year’s birthday cake…  But more than anything, I felt guilty.  I had continued eating whole, natural foods during this pregnancy, but I’d slipped a little, snacking on a few of Jason’s chips as I packed his lunch in the morning and indulging in a handful of chocolate chips occasionally in the afternoon between lunch and dinner.

I go for my appointment with the diabetes educator tomorrow morning, and I think, for a while, at least, I might be talking about gestational diabetes quite a bit here because it’s hard to find an outlet.  I am in no way a doctor or medical professional, but sometimes I think following other people’s experiences can help us work out what we’re going through almost as much as writing about them, so I’m hoping to post some of my experiences and recipes.

I will note that the baby looks great so far, and I’m hopeful that we can manage this with diet and exercise (especially since our garden is finally starting to come in!).  And on a second positive note, my husband and his father finished hanging trim in the nursery this weekend, so I should have an update with photos for you soon!

Thanks for reading!  If you have had experiences with GD, I would love to hear about them!

Italian Wedding Soup

Welcome, from the frigid north, where overnight lows stretched down to just about -20 F, locally.  Luckily, last night I made what might be one of the easiest and most delicious soups I’ve ever encountered and one of my favorites, though I’d never made it myself before.

Years ago, when I first moved to Northern Maine, Tim Horton’s carried its own version of Italian Wedding Soup, and I would drop in regularly, hoping that I might land there on a day when they were serving it.  Given that I now do a lot more of my own cooking and Tim Horton’s is no longer a regular dinner haunt, I’m happy to say that I can now have this favorite, whenever I want it.

Ingredients. Note: I ended up omitting the onion, which I had planned to add to the meatballs.

The ingredients are simple and straight-forward, as is the assembly of the soup.  I used dry beans that I prepared earlier in the day, but you could easily substitute canned beans (use a whole can, rinsed) to speed up the process.  Another reason to love this recipe is its use of chicken stock, which I always have kicking around in the freezer since we regularly eat roast chicken on Sundays and later produce about 3 quarts of chicken stock.

Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Food & Wine and Red Deer Foodie
Yields About 6 Servings

Soup Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 celery rib, chopped into cubes
1/3 c. orzo
1/3 c. small white beans (this is a dry measure, before re-hydrating)
6 oz. spinach, shredded
1 Bay Leaf (optional)

Meatball Ingredients:
1 lb. mixture of lean pork, veal and beef (you could easily use any one of these)
1/3 c. Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 t Italian seasoning mix
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese

I started my soup by melting my frozen chicken stock in a large soup pot over medium high heat until it came to a boil. Given that I don’t season my stock when I make it (beyond adding some veggies for flavor), I salted and peppered the stock before adding my carrots and celery. I also added my beans at this point because I had only quick-hydrated them and they were still a little crunchy. Once this boiled for about 10 minutes, I added the orzo and let it go another 8 minutes. I noticed, at this point, that the broth wasn’t quite flavorful enough, so I added a bay leaf (which I removed before adding the meatballs).

While the vegetables, beans and orzo were working, I combined the meat, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and seasoning  in a large bowl and liberally seasoned the mixture with sea salt and ground pepper. I then combined the ingredients and rolled them into 3/4” meatballs, though, next time I think I might even go for a 1/2” meatball (even at 3/4” they were still a bit too big to take in one bite).

Meatballs prior to boiling.

As soon as I was done shaping the meatballs, I added them to the boiling soup and cooked everything together for about 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Then I added my shredded spinach and cooked for another five minutes, before lowering the heat to a simmer (I was waiting for my bread to come out of the oven).

A perfect bowl of soup for a cold night!

This soup was delightful with extra Parmesan, a chunk of fresh, homemade bread and glass of Pinot Noir.  But the best part about this soup was how easy it was to reheat today! I just added a bit of water and had another delicious bowl for lunch.

Enjoy!

Edited February 25: I made this soup just this past week for a group of friends with smaller, 1/3” meatballs and it was  perfection!

I’m also linking up to Easy Natural Food’s Sunday Soup Night.

Saturday Meal Planning

Happy Saturday!  I say that, after getting rattled from sleep at 4:30 by an overzealous cat

Oscar... sleeping all day, so he can be up, knocking things over at all hours of the night.

and hungry Australian Shepherd (the cat knocked over my bedside lamp, while the dog whined at the back door as though our chicken coop were under attack, then proceeded to herd me to her food dish).  Ugh.  Since then, I discovered that our main light in the chicken coop blew out last night (though, I find it hard to believe that the dog wanted anymore than her cup of kibble at 4:30 since we didn’t make it to the coop until almost 7 a.m., and she was content to return immediately to bed after eating).  That replaced, I did manage to get into town for groceries after a very early bout of meal planning.

In our quest to try to eat more locally, I’ve focused most of this week’s meals around our own, home-grown chicken and vegetables.  Though, I was totally entranced by Food & Wine’s Italian Wedding Soup, which I’ll be trying later today and posting about tomorrow.  I was introduced to it over at Red Deer Foodie, and I imagine my version will end up being a mixture of the two.  I’ve talked a bit about meal planning here lately, so I thought I’d give you this week’s rundown, marking our own, homegrown ingredients with a *

Saturday                          Sunday                        Monday                        Tuesday 

Italian Wedding Soup     Roast Chicken*              Saturday’s Soup             Picnic Chicken*
Homemade Bread           Roasted Potatoes*         Homemade Bread          Green Beans*
Braised Carrots                                                                                                     Mashed Potatoes*
Homemade Bread

Wednesday                              Thursday                                      Friday
Homemade Chicken Stew*         Dinner w/ friends                        Roasted Vegetable Pizza
with extra veggies*                       but still making a                           with Feta Cheese
Homemade Dumplings               Mexican Chocolate Torte             &  Tomato Sauce*
&  Strawberry Preserves*

Today, I’m also making another batch of homemade granola and some kind of cookie to snack on since it’s still super chilly outside and one or two warm cookies will taste great after some snowshoeing!

Homemade Granola

Along with my quest (now complete!) for the perfect wedding dress, I’ve also been much more conscious of what and how I eat.  About a year ago, we started a conscious movement away from processed foods, and after several months, one of the lingering processed foods that remained in my diet was breakfast cereal.  After some experimenting with my mother’s recipe, I finally settled on a homemade granola recipe that I can eat every morning (and alter when I get tired of it and need a change).

Fortunately, almost nine months of the year, I can get local, organic Greek Yogurt from our farmer’s market, and I always have homemade preserves kicking around in the basement.  And given that I eat breakfast at 5 a.m., and it has to last until lunch at 12:30, it’s important that what I choose is both satisfying and healthy.

So what am I doing these days?  1/2 c. Greek Yogurt, 1/2 c. Homemade Granola, 1 T Homemade Strawberry Preserves.

Strawberry Preserves

The recipe is simple and keeps for about two weeks in a sealed container.  It is a calorie-dense food, so I try to limit my intake to under 3/4 c. a day, though once you taste it, you’ll understand my struggle.

Homemade Granola

1 c. unsweetened, shredded coconut
4 c. old fashioned oats
1 – 2 c. nuts (I usually mix almonds and walnuts, but pecans are delicious, too)
1/2. c. ground flax seed
1/2 c. wheat bran (optional)
1 t. salt

1/4 c. oil (I typically use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil)
2/3 c. maple syrup
1 T vanilla

Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

    Combine ingredients.

  3. Combine wet ingredients in a 2 c. liquid measuring cup.  If using coconut oil, melt the ingredients together in a saucepan.
  4. Mix liquid and dry ingredients until fully combined.
  5. Spread on 2 cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for one hour, stirring every fifteen minutes and rotating the cookie sheets between oven racks.
  7. After one hour, increase the oven temperature to 325 and bake until golden (checking every 5 minutes).  Note: this will happen very quickly!  Be cautious not to burn your granola.
  8. Cool completely and place in an airtight container.

    Completed Granola! Enjoy!

    The best part about this granola is how versatile the recipe is.  Feel free to omit or add anything you like!