Baby Fat

No, I am not referring to J’s adorable rolls and chunky little thighs that are just so dang cute, but my Baby Fat, or leftover chub thanks to my sweet little bundle of joy.

I *shouldn’t* care about the extra ten pounds I’m lugging around, but I do… At least a little bit. Yes, I am aware that my body created a miracle and I have a healthy baby boy. Shouldn’t that be enough?

If you want to know what a woman feels like six days, six weeks, or even six months in my case postpartum, try this little experiment. Replace all of the clothes in your closet with identical pieces that are two sizes too small. Then, make room for at least fifteen items that are too long, too loose, and sort of reminiscent of a muumuu. Now you know how we feel.

Defeated.

Depressed.

Fat.

And no, that does not make us selfish mothers. I thank my lucky stars every night and every morning for my baby boy. And then I attempt to get dressed and curse the pregnancy gods for my post-baby belly.

Love my baby. Hate my belly.

Love my baby. HATE my belly.

In all honesty, I am being a little hard on myself… It’s not that bad. But aren’t we all our own worst critics?

I am determined to lose at least five more pounds before throwing in the towel, which would put me five pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight… Before getting pregnant, I could lose five pounds in a weekend. Things aren’t quite so easy anymore. In addition to eating healthy vegetarian meals, I am ready to bring out the big guns. These are all of the tricks that have worked for me in the past, and a few new ones that I am ready to try.

1. Water. Lots and lots of water. 

Drinking water all day long has always helped me maintain my weight with minimal effort. When you’re dehydrated, your body experiences the same symptoms it experiences when you are overly hungry- sleepiness & low energy. When you feel hungry, you might actually just be thirsty. Grab a glass of water and give it ten minutes before reaching for a snack. Also, drinking six cups of cold water a day can raise your resting metabolism by about 50 calories a day.

2. Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

I eat beans in almost everything I eat. My absolute favorite are garbanzo beans, but I also love black beans and pinto beans. Because I am a vegetarian, the majority of my protein intake comes from beans. Beans are full of fiber, which not only keeps us fuller longer, but also moves fat through our digestive system faster so that less of it is absorbed.

3. Fish oil

It is believed that omega 3 oil improves the flow of blood to the muscles during exercise and helps to stimulate enzymes which transport fat to where it can be used up for energy. Now if I could only get around to the whole exercise thing…

4. Whole-wheat everything

Whole-wheat is not only chock full of fiber (see #2 above), but high in complex carbohydrates, low in saturated fat, a source of protein, and a storehouse of nutrients, as well.  According to Discovery Health, it is a “microcosm of what your diet should be.” I actually prefer the taste of whole wheat pasta and bread to their refined counterparts.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has a regulatory effect on blood sugar levels and simultaneously increases insulin levels in the body. It helps prevent increased storage of fat and enables you to lose weight. In addition, cinnamon delays the passing of food from the stomach into the intestine. Hence, you feel satisfied for a longer time and eat less. Lastly, cinnamon helps the body to process carbohydrates more efficiently and this assists you in losing a few pounds. Studies show that abdominal fat is more sensitive to the effects of cinnamon than fat from other parts of the body.

-www.fitday.com

*I will take a 1,000mg supplement of cinnamon per day.

6. Green tea

Researchers say that substances found in green tea known as catechins may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat.

7. Three square meals

Some people do best with six small meals a day, but I lose weight and maintain my weight more successfully with three meals a day. I don’t measure food or count calories. I simple eat until I’m full. Click here to learn why two meals a day may be better for weight loss than grazing.

8. Super foods

There are many foods identified as “super foods” for one reason or another. The following list of foods is beneficial not only for your health, but weight loss in particular. You can find the full lowdown here.

  • wild salmon
  • apples
  • quinoa
  • lentils
  • olive oil
  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • sweet potatoes
  • kiwifruit
  • edamame

And now for the two I haven’t tried…

9. Raspberry Ketones

According to Dr. Oz, raspberry ketone causes the fat within your cells to get broken up more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster. The recommended dose is 100mg per day. To get the same benefit from the whole fruit, you’d have to consume 90 pounds of raspberries!

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

It is believed that apple cider vinegar accelerates weight loss, because it helps control blood sugar levels and suppress appetite. It is recommended to mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. It is best to use organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to get all the good nutrients.

***

After a failed attempt of baby-led weaning last week, I have come to the conclusion that Baby J is not ready for food of any kind. No mush, no purees, no solids, nada. Therefore, the meals I am preparing for dinner this week will revolve around the ten weight loss “super foods” listed above. I have not given up on baby-led weaning, however. We’re just putting it on the back-burner for awhile.

SundayGreek Quinoa & Avocado Salad

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MondaySweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

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Tuesday- Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto

*I will use whole-wheat linguine

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WednesdayAncho Lentil Tacos

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ThursdayCheesy Quinoa & Broccoli Patties

quinoapatty

I’ll let you know next Sunday how this plan plays out. Hopefully, I will lose at least a pound or two!

XO,

Elleigh

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Week of January 12th Menu for Momma and J

My little boy is growing up.

Baby J is a little less than a week and a half away from six months old, and I kid you not, I am getting misty-eyed typing those words. Six months old. To tell the truth, I’m not exactly sure why it makes me so emotional. He is a ball full of love and silliness. He is healthy and happy (most of the time). I’d even go so far as to say that this whole baby thing is somewhat easy. We are blessed to say the least.

The first couple of months, however, were a different story. Everyone said it was hard. My sister told me that the first two weeks were hell. But regardless of the warnings, and there were plenty, there was no way to prepare for that kind of hard.

We didn’t know it at the time, but Baby J had silent reflux, and consequently screamed 23 hours a day. Not cried. Full on screamed. And if you’ve ever read my blog before, you know that I was not experienced in the baby department, like, at all. I thought it was normal for a baby to scream all of the time. It breaks my heart looking back knowing that he was actually screaming because he was in pain. Ugh.

Now our little baby boy is holding his own bottles and rolling like a wild man. He will be crawling in no time. I am trying not to be sad that he is growing so quickly, but to relish in the now, because we all know how quickly it will go. Perhaps I can convince him to live with me forever?

In my opinion, one of the most exciting parts of reaching the six month milestone is the introduction of solids. Up until this point, J has had no interest in eating anything other than his feet.

After a lot of reading, we have decided to go a less traditional route and bypass the standard “first foods” (aka mush of some sort). This approach to feeding is called Baby Led Weaning, and it is growing in popularity here in the states. In a nutshell, this approach allows babies to control their solid food consumption by “self-feeding” from the very beginning of their experiences with food.

So far, we have offered J pesto pasta with veggies, toast, and a couscous dish… He is essentially tasting everything that we eat, which will sure make life easy when he is eating solids on a regular basis. Perhaps early exposure to a wide variety of flavors and textures will prevent J from being picky like his mama.

photo 1 (2)

photo 2 (2)

Baby J trying a piece of lightly buttered toast for the first time. 

This week, I have planned my meals around Jack in hopes that I can offer him a little bit of “real” food each night. I’ve also selected high-fiber meals because I have ten more pounds of baby weight to lose… Beans, veggies, and whole wheat grains have always done the trick for me.

Sunday- Couscous Gratin with Peas & Pimientos*

Monday- Southwest Pasta Salad

I am using light ranch dressing and whole wheat pasta.

SouthwestPastaSaladHarrisSisters

Tuesday- Mushroom Parmesan Rice

I am adding Tempeh.

Mushroom-Parmesan-Rice-8-398x530

Wednesday- Veggie Enchiladas with Tofu*

Thursday- Pesto Tortellini with Beans & Veggies*

Recipes

Couscous Gratin with Peas & Pimientos

From Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson

Ingredients

2 c veggie broth

1 cup quick-cooking whole-wheat couscous

2 scallions, minced

1.5 c frozen baby peas

1 2-oz jar of chopped pimientos, drained

1 TBS evoo

2 TBS dry bread crumbs

2 TBS grated parmesan

2 tsp margarine

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the veggie broth to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions, peas, pimientos, and olive oil (I added 1 clove minced garlic & handful of garbanzo beans).

Lightly oil 2 qt gratin dish. I used mid-sized casserole shown below, b/c quite frankly, I don’t know what the hell a gratin dish is.

3-piece-potluck-baker-set

Spread couscous mixture evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and parmesan. Dot with margarine, cover, and bake for 15 min. Uncover and continue baking for 5 minutes more, or until top is lightly browned.

Veggie Enchiladas w/ Tofu

*This is my own “recipe.” I don’t measure anything.

Ingredients

whole wheat tortillas

whole black beans, drained

diced red bell pepper, onion, zucchini, and cubed extra-firm tofu (lightly sauteed with garlic & evoo)

canned corn, drained

1 can red enchilada sauce

2% sharp cheddar & pepper jack cheese, grated

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce into casserole pan and spread around to prevent tortillas from sticking. Mix beans, corn, & sauteed veggies in bowl. Spoon mixture down center of tortilla and top with grated cheese. Roll tortilla and place in casserole. When you have made your desired amount of enchiladas, pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and cover with grated cheese. Bake covered for 30 minutes, uncover and cook another 5 minutes.

Pesto Tortellini w/ Beans & Veggies

Also my own recipe.

Ingredients

Buitoni Whole Wheat 3-Cheese Tortellini

Pesto Sauce

Matchstick carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, frozen peas, diced onion and diced red bell pepper lightly sauteed in evoo with minced garlic

handful of garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained

Instructions

Cook pasta according to directions. Mix pasta, sauteed veggies, and beans in large bowl. Serve with parmesan cheese.

So that’s it! I’ll let y’all know how it goes. Oh, and just a side note, I am seasoning after I set aside J’s portion, and I will also make his portion more baby-friendly by cutting into small pieces/and or lightly mashing. I don’t expect him to eat much at all, but hopefully the experience will pave the way to adventurous eating in the future. I also plan on discussing Baby Led Weaning with my pediatrician at his six month check-up.

XO,

Elleigh

Week of January 5th Dinner Menu

The weekend is my favorite time to go to the grocery store. I try to avoid weekday shopping, because by the time I get home from work and pick up Baby J from childcare, it is already 5 o’clock. I don’t want to waste any of our precious time together at the store. Every Sunday morning, my husband and I plan our meals for the week. I am a vegetarian and he is not, so we usually try to find recipes that are not only healthy, but flexible, as well. I do the shopping. He cleans out the fridge and unloads the groceries. It works out pretty well for us. This is what I have planned for this week. Maybe you will find some dinner ideas that your family will enjoy, too.

Follow links to recipes unless otherwise indicated.

Contact us if you would like the coordinating grocery list.

SundayBroccoli Cheese & Potato Soup

I will make this recipe exactly as written. 

broccoli-potato-and-cheddar-soup

Monday–  Squash-Rice Casserole

I add garbanzo beans to this recipe for additional fiber & protein. I also use brown rice instead of white rice. I have even made this casserole with quinoa, and it turned out great!

casserole-ck-522093-l

Tuesday Creamy Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese with Vegetables

Unless it is a special occasion, I use half of the cream & butter this recipe calls for. I also saute a mix of veggies with olive oil and throw it in before serving. I usually add broccoli, diced red pepper, mushrooms, edamame, and onions. The possibilities are virtually endless. If you have a picky child on your hands or you are in a hurry, toss all of the veggies in a food processor, process into small pieces, and warm up in skillet before mixing with mac & cheese. 

mac-and-chz

Wednesday– Easy Tortilla Bake*

See recipe below. 

tortillacasserole

image courtesy of www.tasteofhome.com

Thursday– Chicken Dijon with Wild Rice* (I use tempeh instead of chicken)

See recipe below. 

chicken dijon

image courtesy of www.food.com

Recipes

Easy Tortilla Bake

San Antonio Junior Forum Cookbook

This is another recipe that my mom cooked for us all of the time when we were kids. I still enjoy it today!

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef- (I use non-GMO soy crumbles)

2 TBS chili powder

1 12-ounce can tomato sauce

12 corn tortillas, quartered

1 16 oz carton sour cream (I use light)

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese (I use 2% sharp cheddar)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and drain grease. Add chili powder and tomato sauce. Simmer 10 minutes. Dip quartered tortillas in sour cream. In a greased 8×12-inch baking dish, place half of tortillas to line bottom of dish. Top with half of meat mixture, half of diced onion, and half of grated cheese. Repeat layers. Bake 30 minutes.

VARIATION: Add a layer of refried beans in between meat and cheese layers.

Chicken Dijon

from Cooking with Joy: The 90/10 Cookbook

Ingredients:

Cooking Spray

6 five-ounce chicken breasts, cut into pieces (I will use tempeh)

2 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)

1 can low-fat cream of mushroom soup

1 cup skim milk

2 TBS Dijon mustard

1/2 c low fat sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray. Saute the chicken pieces until they are thoroughly cooked and lightly browned on both sides. Microwave, steam, saute, or roast the broccoli. Add to the chicken. In a bowl, mix the mushroom soup, milk, mustard, and cheese until clump-free. Add the soup mixture to the chicken, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

*I am serving over wild rice.

My husband and I both take left-overs to work each day instead of buying additional groceries for lunch. You may notice that as the week progresses, the recipes become easier to make… That is by design. Let me know if you try any and/or all of these recipes and how you like them!

XO,

Elleigh

P.S.- I buy and recommend organic ingredients for all of the meals I cook. If that is not possible, make it a priority to buy organic ingredients for the items on the dirty dozen list.

Black-Eyed Peas, Please!

Once again we face another new year, a time when many of us reflect on the previous twelve months and make resolutions for the those to come. Me? I’m not a resolution kind of gal, because quite frankly, I don’t stick to them. Ever.

If I resolve to adhere to some kind of crazy, extreme diet, I inevitably find myself face-deep in a bowl of mac and cheese by the third day. Okay, second day. Needless to say, I don’t do diets, and I don’t do resolutions.

But what I do do (cue laughter from my 4th grade class) is eat healthy 90% of the time. And not just because I want to fit into my skinny jeans. I actually like healthy food, and I enjoy cooking, too. Unfortunately my days of homemade nightly dinners have pretty much ceased to exist thanks to my little one, but every now and then when the stars align just right, I am able to knock out a delicious and nutritious dinner.

This is a recipe I found on Pinterest quite awhile ago, and it is one of my go-to recipes. Shockingly, my husband enjoys it as much as I do- We have very different palates. It is super easy to throw together, too. I’m hoping Baby J enjoys it as much as we do when he starts eating solids next month, but I won’t hold my breath.

*You can find the original recipe here.

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole New Year’s Style

*photo courtesy of eatingwelllivingthin.wordpress.com*

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Ingredients

Texas Black-Eyed Pea Tempeh- use as much or as little as you want

BEPTempeh-300x132

(Click picture for info on tempeh. If you’ve never had tempeh, you should try it! It is very versatile and tasty. You could also use plain tempeh, garbanzo beans, or chicken as a substitute, or you could leave the protein out altogether.)

One 10 oz can condensed Cream of  Mushroom soup

1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise 

2 tablespoons milk- I use skim

1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, etc.)

black pepper, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste- I put red pepper flakes in EVERYTHING I eat, and not only because I like them. Check out this article highlighting the benefits of this ingredient.

2 cups cooked broccoli- I also sometimes include chopped red bell pepper, diced onion, mushrooms, and/or edamame. I always sauté my veggies in olive oil and use a lot of fresh garlic.

1 1/2 cups  COOKED quinoa

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To cook quinoa:

3/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.  In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.  Fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, and spices until well mixed. Stir in the tempeh, quinoa, and broccoli.

Spoon mixture into prepared casserole.  Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden.  Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

***

I have included links above with various ingredients that I use frequently in my cooking. I am a vegetarian, so I am always looking for creative ways to include protein into my diet. The links will take you to websites that explain the benefits of each highlighted ingredient.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions this year?