Dinner done easy: Rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies

tri-color-bell-peppers

I was very excited to see hormone and antibiotic free rotisserie chicken at the store yesterday. I really try to go as clean as possible when it comes to animal proteins. I’ve got plenty of hormones kicking on my own, thanks!

Anyway, we’d had a busy day, and I just wasn’t in my normal cooking-mode. Easy was the name of the game, and it doesn’t get easier than chicken that’s already been cooked for you.

As a side, I roasted vegetables while I showered. Don’t pretend you’re not impressed at my multi-tasking.

The point is, you can keep dinner healthy and have it ready in the same amount of time it would take to make a processed, boxed option.

Rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 squash/zucchini
  • 3 peppers, preferable mixed colors
  • Olive oil spray
  • s&p

Heat oven to 400F. Slice veggies, spread out on pan, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. If your chicken needs reheating, you can put it in the oven halfway through cooking the veggies.

That’s really it. Just cut up your chicken and serve it next to the veggies.


To do list: Love my family

Mother-Teresa-540x513

When I’m working on a project, I have a one-track mind. I’m efficient, but oblivious. When it’s multiple projects, turns out I’m a multi-tasker with her priorities out of whack.

We’ve had a pretty wild few weeks.

We moved to Tennessee from Hawaii, our senior dog (my fur baby of almost 12 years) passed away in transit, I’m in my 3rd trimester with baby #2, we found and put in an offer on house, and we kicked off festivities for my sister’s wedding later this year.

Aside from the tragic event of my sweet Mason passing, everything has been exciting and happily endured, but I have a head that just won’t turn off. If I can overthink it, I will, and if you think it’s something I can’t or shouldn’t overthink, I’ll prove you wrong, just give me a minute to overthink how. Amazingly, I miss the little things while using all that brain power.

That thing I missed #1…my husband

My husband has been amazing through all the chaos. He’s stepped up as I’ve slowed down. He’s been doing more than half the share of parenting, packing, cleaning, house management, endless home buying research, calls, forms, etcetera. He even let me fly first class while he sat in coach with Aidan on our flights. Selfishly, my initial thinking was that I deserved the special help and attention because I was doing all the same stuff – while growing a baby.

It took being away from him for a night for me to realize I’d been unfair. I’d been forgetting to love him. I’d been saying I loved him, but I hadn’t really been loving and appreciating him the way I should have been; the way he deserves. The good news is realization was the first and only step to full repair mode. I came home, confessed my mistake, blamed it on the baby siphoning my brain and laid on the compliments, affection and attention.

All was right again in the world until… my toddler pushed and swatted at his baby cousin. We were appalled! We promptly blamed the daycare. Our first instinct was to enact punishment. We told him it was wrong to hit, push, etc., tried time-outs, reinforced sharing and gentle-touch… all to no avail. Our sweet, happy boy was suddenly acting out unpredictably.

That thing I missed #2…my son

It’s easy to miss a child under stress when they can’t verbalize it to you. We’d spent the previous weeks changing locations constantly, going from having a pet to not, leaving the only home he’d ever known, and taking every opportunity to pass our little boy off to friends and family so we could take care of business. Never did we sit down and talk to Aidan about all that was happening, we just toted him along assuming that it would all be over his head and therefore not worth mentioning.

Our little guy had his world rocked, and we put him in time-out. It seriously hurts my heart just to type that.

Thankfully, children are resilient, and I have no memories of anything before the age of 5.

A couple days of talking and explaining (respectfully, as though to an adult), loving him up, making sure he knew we were right there with him, he was safe, loved, and a priority, and we have our happy, sweet, affectionate boy back. He’d been so flexible changing time zones, fighting off a virus, being a trooper in planes and on long car rides, we’d forgotten his needs during what must be a really confusing time for him.

I’m so blessed to have such adaptable, understanding men (big and small) in my life. Sometimes they’re so good at being awesome it goes right over my head. I’ve come to accept and expect it. I get busy and selfish and forget that, without them, there’d be nothing for me to be awesomely busy about.

For all the things I convince myself are important, things that I allow to consume me, the only thing that really matters at the end of each day is who I am to them. It’s the one-track I need to stay on.

 

 

 


Pregnancy the 2nd time around

Here we go again! I’m so excited to be 6 months pregnant with a little girl, and this time is nothing like the first go-round.

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The 1st time around

My first full-term pregnancy was not a bad experience, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly good. Aside from some bouts of wicked indigestion, I felt fine, but my parents had recently split, I’d suffered a very early miscarriage shortly before, and I went from a busy life of working and a full social calendar to a new home far from anyone I knew.

In my 2nd trimester, we moved from Italy to Hawaii. Both are awesome places, but I didn’t know anyone when we arrived in Hawaii, and pregnancy is an awkward time to get to know one another. When you’re pregnant, you’re a bit between groups. You’re not able to hang with the party animals, but you’re not in the mom’s club yet either. I also couldn’t participate in all the water sports and hikes I longed too. I was anxious, lonely, a bit bored… the scenery was nice though (I’d be remiss to leave that out.).

With my son, I craved sweets. My thighs are lucky there isn’t a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts on island, because I would’ve stopped by WAY too frequently. Giving into my cravings with him brought me down. The one morning I had a donut, I passed out and ended up in the ER.

I also spent lots of time creating the perfect birth plan, which I’ve done none of this time. Let me leave the hospital with a healthy baby, and we’re good.

 

This time

This pregnancy started out rough in terms of how I felt. My first trimester was rife with headaches and nausea. But, aside from the symptoms, this time around has been much better.

First, I haven’t googled anything. The wee one and I check in with each other, exchanging pats and kicks here and there, but I’m emotionally at peace. Even going into this pregnancy was less stressful since I was already content with my son. If God decided he was it for us, I was ready to be completely fine with that.

The other nice thing about this time around is how busy I have been. Between work, my son, an upcoming move (this time closer to family and friends) and the excitement of my sister’s upcoming wedding, I don’t have time to stop and worry about anything, let alone be lonely or bored.

This pregnancy I’m also in swim-shape. I highly recommend swimming for anyone expecting. There are days I feel like I could fall asleep swimming because I am so relaxed. At the most, I get in 2 swims a week, but I’m happy even for those couple dips. I normally find a day to do some weights sometime in there as well, and I’m either walking or on my bike pretty much every other day of the week.

I started this pregnancy 7 pounds lighter than my last, but my body seems to have a sweet spot where it likes to be for baby building. I feel good about my level of fitness, but my weight jumped right back up to a more cushy condition. First time around, the worry of what would become of my physique postpartum was scary, but this time it feels really natural. I never expected to be in better shape after a baby, and I’m confident in my ability to bounce back yet again.

This time around, I know to have protein to start my day, so I’ve avoided light-headedness entirely. If I want something sweet in the morning, I mix a vanilla protein shake with peach rehydrate…hello, peaches’n cream! They told me last time around that, although I was drinking plenty of water, I wasn’t retaining like a should. The rehydrate helps me retain the necessary fluids.

Cravings this time have been for salty and spicy food. Step away from my wings and no one will get hurt. I’ve had to turn away from chips that promised all kinds of wonderful taste sensations, but it’s been an easier palate to work with overall.

My doctor kept me on omega’3s and probiotics this go around, which has helped keep my digestion working like normal, and it’s helped balance out the fact that my skin has been more prone to breakouts than it was the first time.

Overall, I’m simply more relaxed, which is a blessing to my entire household!

 


Secret lives of moms and military spouses

Recently I’ve become aware of secret lives of my mom friends. They haven’t been actively trying to hide anything, the opportunity or the question simply hasn’t been presented.

We all have skills and talents we don’t get to use as a mom. But, if you dig, our pre-mom lives come unearthed.

These moms, who spend their time devoted to little ones, faithfully wiping bottoms multiple times a day, were all-star athletes who went to prestigious colleges on a full ride. They’ve played in symphonies, hung from trapezes, speak multiple languages, run entire corporations and lived all over the world.

The same is true for military spouses. These amazing ladies spend all day cleaning up messes and raising the next generation, and never think to mention all the skills sitting dormant and underappreciated, or the careers they left behind to follow love and support our country’s freedom.

Every time I find out something new about a friend I thought I knew well, I’m blown away. I’m surrounded by a truly magnificent lot.

When you pass by a mom pushing a stroller, managing a fussy child in a store or being the net for a little daredevil at the playground, remember that being a mom is only one of her many talents. As much as she loves being a parent, she deserves respect for much more than that, and the chance to have the spotlight shown on the full array of talents she possesses.

When a military spouse tells you it’s time to pack up again, even if he/she is off to somewhere amazing, remember she’ll have to hit the reset button yet again; new community, new house, new schools, new friends, new job, new everything.

 

Take the chance to step back and imagine all these women have to offer that they simply don’t have time to show you. Better yet, offer some wine, sit back, and listen.


The easy way to health starts today

For all the people out there making excuses not to improve their health (we all find time for what’s important to us), today I want to focus on the people with the best of intentions who are making it harder than it has to be. I want to reach out to the amazing people who are making the effort, and make your lives a little easier.

To the person who wants to burn their fat off doing cardio before picking up weights to tone: Resistance and cardio go hand-in-hand and should be equally prioritized from the get-go. To get the most bang for your buck, do cardio within 24 hours of strength training. You’ll have after-burn from your strength training to add to the calories you burn while doing cardio. Plus, you need muscle to get your metabolism moving faster.

To the person who has always run, but it doesn’t seem to work like it use to: When you’re under 25, you keep your muscle mass whether you use it or not. Once you start to lose it, your metabolism slows down, and running doesn’t build muscle. Although running is great cardio, you need to add weights/resistance training as an adult in order to see the same results.

To the person waiting to plateau, or trying it on their own, before accessing more resources: If you can complete your journey faster by using all the tools out there for you at once, why not? Maintenance is way easier than initially reaching a goal. Take the easy road to the easy road. Besides, if you are fully capable of reaching your goals on your own, why are they constantly out of reach?

To the person cutting calories like crazy and not seeing results: If you don’t eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and won’t let go of anything. You need fat, you need some carbs… you need to eat to lose weight.

Above all else, invest in yourself.

What do you spend on your hair? I know people who spend hundreds of dollars regularly on their hair, but think it’s wildly expensive to spend money on a personal trainer or nutrition plan. Why not spend money on the front end to make the best use of your time and energy? Healthcare is expensive; significantly more expensive than preventative maintenance. Unlike your hair, you don’t have to spend the same amount over and over again. Do it right once, and the upkeep becomes a tiny fraction of the initial investment.

What is your time worth? What is your health worth? What advice would you offer someone else in your situation? Keep that dedication, just make it more efficient.

Take those good intentions, and multiply them. You may find out you can eat more and workout less. Sounds nice, right?


Forgiveness is integral to health

I recently heard a sermon on forgiveness, and it got me to thinking about how integral forgiveness is to health.

Forgiveness is a necessary component to overall health. Where the confusion lies for some is who it’s healthy for.

People want forgiveness because they believe it will make them feel better about whatever they did to require forgiveness, but it’s not always the blank slate they are truly hoping for. Forgiveness isn’t a blank slate. It is wrong to commit an act, ask and receive forgiveness, and see that as an opportunity to go do it again. The old adage goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. ”

Forgiveness provides the most comfort and health benefits for the forgiver because it lightens his/her load. Resentment is heavy, and anger eats away at you as badly as any sickness. That weight carries over into the rest of your life until it rests on the shoulders of your entire support system.

Revenge only adds to the sickness. You might think it will make you “even,” but it’s not your right to deliver someone else’s karma. Suddenly, you’ve stooped to the level of someone you loathed. Now you have guilt from the harm you caused plus the original hurt to carry. The idea is to lighten your load, not add to it.

Of course, each unique situation varies largely on someone’s intent. Accidents happen, but they happen to some more frequently than others. Some people step on others with the best of intentions because they only consider their own personal outcome.

There are some people in life you need to keep at arms length. Forgive, forget, move on, but learn and adapt from the experience.

If you forgive someone, but there are no consequences or modifications to the situation that enabled the act in the first place, it’s like rolling out a welcome mat for it to happen again. Forgiveness heals (you can’t spell health without “heal”), but the act is a warning to protect and prevent in the future.

Sometimes you also need to forgive yourself. Apologize to others and to yourself for prior acts, but move forward. I see many people who beat themselves up for weight gain. If you are taking steps to lose unhealthy weight, stop the assault. You can only change moving forward; you can’t hit rewind.

Eat right, workout to burn off some of that hurt, forgive, and exercise your right to pursue happiness.

 

 


Broccoli-mushroom pesto with shrimp and gluten-free pasta

Broccoli pesto

Okay, so it’s not really pesto, but it looks like pesto, and sneaks in greens. If you love pasta with pesto, but are trying to make better choices, you should give this dish a shot. It is very kid-friendly, very easy, and very healthy.

Looking like pesto came about as an accident. My day ran long, and I was feeling lazy, so rather than chop my broccoli and mushrooms, I threw them in the processor to pulse. In my distracted state (hangry 18-month old hanging from my leg), I over-pulsed. My husband didn’t even know we weren’t eating pesto until I told him. If I had called it broccoli sauce, it wouldn’t have seemed nearly as appealing.

I’ll admit my measurements are guesses in this one. I’m more of an eye-baller, plus I recognize everyone’s tastes are different. Maybe you like more garlic or less mushrooms. Just adjust to your own tastes.

You don’t have to use shrimp, it just happened to be what I was in the mood for. You could use any meat, or no meat. However you go about it, I hope you enjoy it!

What I loved about our pasta wasn’t so much that it was gluten-free as that it had quinoa, corn and rice flour, so the protein-carbohydrate ratio was really balanced.

Broccoli-mushroom pesto and shrimp pasta

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bag of defrosted-frozen (or fresh) shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan
  • s&p to taste
  • gluten-free pasta

Pulse rinsed broccoli and mushrooms in the processor. Cook with next 3 ingredients for 10 minutes. Add half of olive oil and add shrimp. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Toss cooked pasta with remaining oil. Salt & pepper pasta, then add broccoli-shrimp mixture and parmesan. Toss together and serve.


Brie, fig, prosciutto, arugula, apple flatbread

This flatbread made me feel fancy, like I was at a restaurant, and it was a big hit with my husband and the kiddo.

The whole time my son was eating it, I kept thinking how I didn’t try brie or arugula until after college. Watching him shovel what I consider foodie-food into his mouth makes me so happy.

You could easily skip the prosciutto to make this meal vegetarian.

Although you do get some good nutrition out of the apple, arugula and fig, I’ll admit the brie and prosciutto make it a bit on the indulgent side, but there are worse nutritional sins you could commit. It seems to be working out okay for the French and the Italians.

I made my fig spread by rehydrating some dried figs, so I avoided additional sugar, but if you have fig spread handy, go ahead and use whatever is easiest.

This is a really easy meal, and it’s more filling than you might think. I hope you enjoy it. I had to write this one down so I’ll remember it for next time. Don’t you just love recipes with short ingredient lists?

Brie, fig, prosciutto, arugula & apple flatbread

  • 3-4 whole wheat flatbreads
  • 1 wedge of brie
  • 1 package of dried figs
  • 1 package of prosciutto
  • 1 apple
  • arugula

Preheat oven to 400.
Boil figs in water for 20 minutes, puree, adding a little more liquid if needed to make a paste.
Spray flatbreads with cooking spray or baste with olive oil.
Spread fig spread over flatbreads, top with thinly sliced apples, then brie. Put in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove and top with prosciutto and arugula.
Cook for 10 more minutes and enjoy!


House rules, and guns at playdates

Let me get right to the point.

We don’t have guns in our house because I think we’re more likely to suffer an accident than be heroes, and I’m terrified of my son being a victim of a gun accident. We have various forms of protection, but none of them are as final and deadly as a gun.

I’m not against guns. I have a healthy amount of experience handling guns, and I have no problem with other people owning them. I just don’t want them in my house. Our house; our rules.

Where I’m struggling is with playdates. When it’s not my house, it’s not my rules, and every family can make their personal choices. I think it’s important for my son to see that not every family manages their home exactly as we do, and he should adapt accordingly, out of respect, so long as it doesn’t require compromising core values. Rules, toys, food…none of that bothers me. What scares the bejesus out of me is my son being involved in a gun accident at someone else’s house.

My husband made a good point in saying that people aren’t likely to get defensive about this matter if we ask. He thinks other parents will happily show us their safety measures if they have guns in the house, because all parents share a fear of something happening to their children.

I would love to hear your feedback on this, and how you’ve handled situations where your comfort level might be tested when your child is at a friend’s house. Also, this is a great opportunity for all my parent-friends to know where we stand on this particular issue.

Again, I have no issue with the right to bear arms (though I think it should be restricted to single shot style guns rather than assault weapons), we just choose not to bear them at our house.


Sweet, healthy, easy breakfast options

All the nutritional knowledge in the world does nothing to combat my craving for sweets in the morning.

In heaven, I plan to eat a chocolate croissant and biscuits with honey butter every morning. (Heaven is calorie-free, right?)

In my current reality, most morning sweets will hold my appetite for a very short time, while holding the sides of my hips for a very long time. Also, I know that making healthy choices all day long starts in the morning.

Having seen the line at Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts each morning when I use to commute to work in Atlanta, I feel safe assuming I’m not alone, so I thought I’d share some of my sweet solutions.

There is a lot to love about the following options. They’re easy, yummy, healthy and kid-friendly. I don’t use exact measurements for any of them, so just make them each “to taste,” and ask if you have questions.

Sweet, healthy breakfast options:

Nutty Nana Oatmeal: Boil water, add old-fashioned oats, once boiling again, add banana and almond butter. Reduce to simmer and cook until mixed and absorbed. Add a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Ezekiel French Toast: Soak Ezekiel bread (regular or cinnamon-raisin) in mixture of egg, unsweetened vanilla almond milk and cinnamon. Cook in a skillet. Enjoy with a little butter and honey, if needed.

Nutty Cinnamon Prunes: Smear a bit of nut butter on a few prunes, sprinkle with cinnamon.

And, of course, there are always my healthy pancakes!