Baby & Toddler · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Why we’re going nuts about almonds

Last week, Georgia had her (very belated) 18-month checkup. In addition to hearing that my baby who once wouldn’t gain weight is now in the 65th percentile (!), I was thrilled to get the green light on introducing almond milk and other nut products to her diet. Why? Because, pre-Georgia, that was all we used! We were not dairy consumers, and buying three cartons of cow’s milk every week has honestly been a weird adjustments for me to make when grocery shopping. We always follow G’s pediatrician directions on food, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been excited about the prospect of one day trying things like sushi, tofu, smoothies, natural nut butters and almond milk together, which I always loved before having her.

she's a growing girl who needs her protein!
she’s a growing girl with an appetite to match!

New evidence, which our pediatrician pointed to, shows that children who are exposed to peanut products earlier in life may have a lowered risk of developing allergies later on. That, in combination with their nutritional value, is why our doctor encouraged us to offer Georgia all varieties of nut butters, flours, milks and crackers at home, now that she’s at an age where she can tolerate it. And I’m always excited to offer her new things to expand her palate.

Not quite what I had in mind...
Not quite what I had in mind…

When we gave her almond butter on apples and bananas, and made her a berry shake by pureeing frozen fruit with almond milk this week, she loved it! Now there’s so much more I can’t wait to try. And there are great reasons we use almond products beyond just the taste and the fact that I, like so many people, can’t digest lactose, or that eliminating cow’s milk (while adding exercise) has helped Mark control his once-serious (and hereditary) acid reflux.

another new food buddy?
making new food buddies every day!

Nut products are a great source of protein, which is important if you or your child eat little to no meat, and they are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, fewer calories than cow’s milk, and powerful antioxidants. By including plenty of calcium from sources like organic, low-sugar yogurt and real cheddar cheese in your toddler’s diet, you can confidently replace some of their cow’s milk with almond milk.

nuts

What are some of the ways we use almonds, almond butter, almond milk, and almond flour in our home?

  • A post-workout shake that I created for Mark
  • A creamy, green, fruit smoothie for breakfast
  • An afternoon pick-me-up while at work: I keep raw almonds and walnuts in my drawer at all times!
  • This pasta dish with kale
  • These tasty breakfast Muffins
  • This better-for-you baked Mac n’ Cheese
  • As a substitute for pricey pine nuts in Classic Pesto
  • To make gluten-free treats for friends with dietary restrictions, since almond flour is naturally free of gluten and can seamlessly sub for wheat flour in baking recipes
  • In lieu of cow’s milk as a drink or in almost any recipe. I blend almond milk with one banana and a dash of cinnamon for Georgia, and she loves it!
Pioneer Woman’s Apple-Nut Butter Delights: click photo for recipe

We also love Martha Stewart’s Five-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which uses 1 cup almond butter, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 large eggs and 1/2 tsp coarse salt. You mix together the almond butter, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs and salt until a dough forms, preheat the oven to 350, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of dough about an inch apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies puff up and the tops are set. After cooling on a wire rack, you can store these in an airtight container for up to three days!

I’m so glad Georgia been an adventurous eater so far, and I can’t wait to keep discovering new foods together.

Nuts.com gave me the opportunity to share this infographic on the health benefits of almonds here on OrganicGlory. As with all such posts, opinions are my own, and I never endorse anything my family doesn’t already love. Please check with your doctor or pediatrician to make sure you follow their guidelines on when and how to introduce nuts to your family diet.

mac n' cheese and apples: still our two favorites.
mac n’ cheese and apples: still our two favorites.

How about you — how do you cook, bake and snack with Almonds or other nuts? Do your kiddos like them? 

Baby & Toddler · Books · Holidays · kid-friendly · Pregnancy · Tips and Tricks

Gift Guide: The Guys

I won’t spoil the surprise even though he doesn’t read the blog, but Mark is definitely getting at least one of the things below for Christmas. And the rest are things he (or my awesome brother) already own and love. Read on and get inspired for the guys in your life!

For makers and DIY enthusiasts

Make Magazine, the home of 3-D printing, robotics, woodworking, programmable LEDs, fiber crafts and canning. It’s all in there! If your guy likes to tinker, build, and code, as my little bro does, you have just finished shopping.

MAKE_magazine

A book for a new dad or papa-to-be

The Faith of a Child, by Stefan Lanfer. The author, a colleague of mine in Boston, says “if you want tips, tactics, and advice for childbirth and parenting, you’ve got dozens of choices. But, if you want real stories that actually let you picture fatherhood, The Faith of a Child is for you.” It’s artistic and lovely to read and appealing for men who are about to become first-time fathers as well as those with a bit more practice who might enjoy a book to relate to on that level.

For tall dudes who work out

We have spent years trying to find workout pants for Mark that have a long enough inseam. When you are 6’4″ tall, this can seem an impossible task. Enter LuLu Lemon, that haven of ‘athleisure’ wear for stay-at-home moms! Miraculously, their pants come extra-long as a matter of course, and they offer complimentary hemming for customers of more average heights. The only other brand we’ve found that does this is Under Armour. I guess that’s why famously tall QB Tom Brady is their pitch man! Places like Old Navy actually make tall athletic gear for men too, but only by special order and only online…and they sell out of desirable styles very quickly. Mark’s favorite for running, dance class, rehearsal and lounging is hands-down the LuLu Kung Fu pant.

kung fu pant

Man-pampering

This organic, all natural shave oil by Honest is sure to leave his face calm, smooth, and razor-burn-free. It smells divine and is good for ladies too (bonus!)

Mark is also a fan of this hand cream for chapped knuckles after working in the yard or doing a tour in the wind. Which reminds me: if you are looking for work gloves for your handyman, these are tops.

Wishful thinking: for men who cook

“Men” and “cooking” are not two words that typically run into one another much at my house, but if yours is different then I envy you. Mark makes one thing: this Spaghetti Carbonara, which I taught him. Somebody help!

heritage

But these two books are supposed to be pretty awesome and I think they’d appeal to men (OR women) who are looking to bring some badassery to their kitchen repertoire.

Meat

The crowd-pleaser

Bose wireless headphones. There’s no way you’ll find someone who wouldn’t like that. I have them, I’ve given them as gifts, and they are about a bazillion times better than beats if you ask me. Especially great, according to Mark, if you have a ginormous head! 🙂

For entertaining

For cookouts, dinner parties, holidays, you name it: a portable speaker is handy, and in the case of this new one from Bose, adorable and available in many colors. The other thing I got Mark about five years ago, which he loves? A retro-looking record player that also has a radio, CD and tape deck hidden in it. Now we actually can listen to the vinyl collection we’ve been growing for so many years, and the sound fills the house.

bose speaker

And speaking of retro, vintage cocktails remain popular. If the man in your life fancies himself an at-home bartender, whet his appetite with these Moscow Mule mugs from Pottery Barn. Enclose the following recipe on a simple note card, and you’re set.

Moscow Mule Recipe

  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 – 6 oz ginger beer

Squeeze lime juice into a Moscow Mule mug and drop in the spent shell. Add a few ice cubes, add in the vodka, and finish with the ginger beer. Voila!

moscow_mule

For the health freak

They may be getting a tad ubiquitous at this point, but the FitBit is a truly remarkable and effective fitness and weight loss tool. It tracks not only your activity but your food intake, calories burned, and length and quality of sleep, syncing wirelessly with your smartphone and waking you up (silently) every morning. Mark has found his to be the last bit of motivation he needed to drop about 15 pounds of weight that snuck on while I was pregnant, and he wears the thing 24/7. It’s an ever-present reminder to eat better, take the stairs, and forgo the second helping of cookies….so much so that I ended up losing a few pounds too, just by being around it!

fitbit

For the coffee lover/me

I am hoping someone gets this for myself. Once a year, Dunkin’ Donuts unveils the large coffee deal card — 10 of ’em for $14.99! Seriously, I get very little sleep and need this.

Another coffee related idea, or I should say a more serious one, would be a pour-over set. Both Hario and Chemex make popular versions. Custom-brew your cup and enjoy!

chemex-8-cup-coffee-maker

Got any great ideas that I missed? Do tell!

If you’re still shopping for others in the family, don’t miss my guide to eco-friendly baby gifts, my list of must haves for little ones from birth through toddlerhood, and my own Christmas wish list from last year, a guide to gifts for new moms.

**Psst! If you’ve been waiting to buy any VTech toys, today is your day. They are on sale for up to 50% off on Amazon, right now!**

And if YOU are newly pregnant right now, like I was this time two years ago (SOB!), check out my maternity shopping guide and my tips for beating morning sickness (I am a straight-up expert). Later on, when it no longer feels like you need 20 hours of sleep a day, my prenatal fitness post may come in handy.

 Good luck finishing your shopping, everyone!

2744-twitter 2744-twitter 2744-twitter 2744-twitter 2744-twitter

Holidays · Tips and Tricks

Five Foodie Things

Happy Fourth of July week, everyone! Mark is going to be working on the Freedom Trail this holiday weekend, so we are staying close to home for BBQs and relaxation. Georgia’s day care is also closed this week for summer vacation, so we have some small excursions planned (if the Hurricane stays away, that is). I’m so glad the hot weather has come to Boston finally! (Mark, not so much).

What else am I excited about this summer? Well, for starters, Edible Boston’s Summer Edition is out:

The place where I work got featured in a nice piece in Edible Boston’s spring issue, which was hugely exciting for me! I always pick this up whenever I can find it around town, so to get a clip in there was tops.

2) Second, Special K and Morningstar Farms both just came out with tasty new breakfast sandwiches that are reasonably healthy, vegetarian, and easy on the budget, which I’m trying to watch better, especially with G in day care. I like the Special K one best, in particular their two vegetarian options (pepper jack egg & cheese with veggies, and deluxe egg & cheese). I buy them at Target; I’m sure they are widely available elsewhere, too.

3) Have you heard about this new Kickstarter campaign for Saladshots? These are basically like those portable squeeze pouches of baby food or applesauce, but for salad dressing. The flavors sound awesome: mint basil, citrus ginger, rose petal, and more. They are gluten-free, kosher, low sodium, and use only agave sweetener. If I can find these, I am going to try them!

4) Dunkin’ Donuts just came out with a frozen coolatta  version of the Arnold Palmer, one of my favorite summer drinks (see the other one here). I’m sure this is a sugar bomb, but I am dying to try it. I might spend too much time at Dunks. (At least one Dunks store in the Greater Boston area also started delivering, which is brilliant but pure trouble).

5) Speaking of beverages, can you guess what alcohol is making a comeback, according to BostInno? Personally I wasn’t aware this ever went away. It’s always been my trusted sidekick, especially for summer.

Finally, I’m on a campaign for Big Gay Ice Cream to come to Boston. They expanded to Philly. Talk about the least cool place on the planet! What do they even have there? The Phillies? Whatever. A river no one can even pronounce? Whatever! Come to wear it all started, the only cold-weather city where people eat ice cream outdoors all year ’round. I basically stalk Big Gay Ice Cream on Twitter whenever I accompany Mark to New York for auditions, and I’d love to be stalked in return. Gauntlet. THROWN. 

Enough with that other city. come to MINE.

Are you still looking for something to do on the Fourth?

Boston Vegetarian Society is hosting a holiday picnic at Winslow Farm, a loving sanctuary for abandoned and mistreated animals, from 12 to 4 p.m.  in Norton, MA (south of the city). Like No Udder will be providing vegan soft serve ice cream, and the cost of admission ($10 for adults, $5 for children 11 and under, free for kids younger than 2) will benefit the farm’s veterinary care and food costs. A worthy cause!

Karolina, an alpaca rescue living at Winslow Farm.

Have a great holiday everyone 🙂

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Pumpkin Madness

At least, that’s what Fall in New England feels like sometimes!

It started with the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, and seems to have spread from there. Now everyone has pumpkin something on the menu. To wit:

Dunkin’ Donuts has gone Pumpkin crazy. I’ll admit, I love the pumpkin coffee flavor, both hot and iced. It’s pre-sweetened and I just order it plain with a dash of skim milk. And by that I mean, I send my husband out to fill my order while I nurse the baby every morning. Yum!
Pumpkin Spice Whiskey, crafted by the Sons of Liberty Spirit Company. Available starting this week in liquor stores around Boston.
Yes, there are even pumpkin spice M&M’s. I can’t decide if these sound good or not?

I love me some pumpkin flavor, but I wonder if there’s such a thing as too much. And let’s not forget that other classic New England fall staple: apples! I can’t wait to take the baby out apple picking — she’s a little small this year — and to eat apple cider, cider donuts, and caramel apples. Since she’s so tiny, our fall festivities so far are confined to taking her for walks and drives among the foliage near our house. The Boston Globe had some great apple recipes in the paper Tuesday: apple crostata, apple-bacon tartines, and turkey kielbasa with apples and sauerkraut. And the Pioneer Woman also just posted a collection of her best pumpkin recipes, from soup to muffins to pumpkin cream pie. Even Make Magazine jumped on the bandwagon this year, posting a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake martinis the other day. Yum!

Courtesy: BostonGlobe.com

Here are some of my own fall recipes:

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

German Apple Pancake

Pumpkin Bread from Scratch

pumpkin-bread

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Sangria

Apple Cinnamon Hard Cider

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.

What about you — what do you do with pumpkin?

Baby & Toddler · Pregnancy · Tips and Tricks

Beating Morning Sickness

If you hadn’t guessed that I’m pregnant by now, especially with the dearth of original recipes from December through March on this blog, consider the cat officialy out of the bag! We are having a little girl in August of this year, and we could not be more excited to meet OrganicBaby 🙂

BabyLinehan_Sonogram_Facebook

First things first: this post has a completely misleading title, because it implies you can win against severe morning sickness. You can’t, and the sooner you start seeing morning sickness as Step One in My Life Has Changed Forever Because of this Baby, the better off you’ll be. I went down in flames in my fight against morning sickness day after day for 20 weeks. When people ask how you can get through that much nausea and vomiting, I always say it becomes your new reality and you learn to cope … so that’s what this post is about. None of the pregnancy books or websites did me much help, so I decided to compile my own tips to share with you for when things get really bad. If you have ideas to contribute, by all means, leave them in the comments below.

I wish I could have called this post “natural remedies for morning sickness,” but the truth is that I relied on lots of junk when things were dire, and that I was heavily medicated for more than two months just so I could go to work for 8 hours a day (if that) before sleeping for nearly 12. I’ll share several natural coping strategies for mild sick days or simple nausea, but if you get one takeaway from this post, it’ll be this: nobody gets a medal for enduring debilitating morning sickness, and you could be putting your own health and that of your baby at risk. So don’t be a hero. Just call your doctor before you end up in the hospital. (Second and third takeaway: morning sickness frequently lasts all day, and very often lingers past your first trimester, so start prepping psychologically for that by adopting a stance of acceptance now).

In no particular order, here are my tips for coping with morning sickness.

If a particular food stops being appealing to you, don’t try to force it. Most people who know me know that I abhor wasting food. I’ll eat boring leftovers all week just to avoid throwing away extra food, since the statistics on food waste in America are so alarming. I had to get over this. No sooner will you get home with a steaming plate of Pad Thai than realize it suddenly lives on what I call “the no-fly list.” In this case, my husband was only too eager to eat double his takeout portion, but I can’t tell you how many times this scenario repeated itself, even with foods I usually adore (like Italian) right after I’d told our friends or family a certain restaurant was safe. I had to get used to ordering something only to find it revolting when it arrived on the table, and I took home a lot of uneaten portions that Mark ate later — or not.

Outsource your grocery shopping, cooking & dish washing, ideally to the person who knocked you up in the first place, and don’t even think about reading a food magazine or watching cooking shows. In fact, look down whenever a restaurant commercial comes on screen, too. Why risk it? One minute you’re watching The Biggest Loser and the next you’re hanging over the toilet bowl like an actual loser, just because you didn’t have the good sense to turn away when Red Lobster started hocking some butter-drenched lobster. <<shudder>>

While you’re at it, outsource the toilet bowl cleaning, cat box scooping & anything else involving chemicals to Baby Daddy, too. Not only are many conventional cleaning products unsafe to be around while pregnant (to say nothing of the hazards of cat litter), you’ll be in no mood to encounter whatever germs, smells and hair are clinging to the surfaces of your home once morning sickness strikes. And if you DO get sick and find the sink, shower or toilet in non-pristine condition, you won’t be able to stop. Don’t get sick 10 times when you could leave it at 1 or 2 just because someone doesn’t like to mop.

Leave a snack next to your bed and eat it AS SOON AS you wake up, like before your feet hit the floor. And then, if you need to, just lie there for 5 or 10 minutes to let your stomach catch up. I built in time to do this every morning so I wouldn’t run late. (While you’re at it, keep some Tums on your nightstand, too). The bedside snack will also come in handy if you wake up nauseous in the middle of the night after hitting the bathroom for the second (or third, or fourth) time.

Sleep on your left side. This not only quells nausea quickly, it can lessen heartburn as well. I was shocked at the difference I felt between lying on my right side versus my left.

Don’t leave home without a granola bar. Or whatever your safe food seems to be. Ditto for water. Unlike when you have the flu, water may help you move past a bout of sickness due to baby, and will keep you hydrated — extremely important for your baby’s development while your body’s blood volume is doubling. Other things that worked for me: baby carrots, rice crackers, Cheerios, fruit smoothies (especially, in a pinch, these from McDonald’s), mashed potatoes, bagels and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Having hot water with lemon in the morning also proved extremely soothing, and I found that most drive-thrus (such as Dunkin’ Donuts) will sell this to you for 50 cents or less. What did I avoid? Unfortunately, an awful lot — my aversions were WAY stronger than my cravings. I couldn’t be around eggs of any kind, bacon, shrimp, black olives, coffee, melted cheese, pepper, the smell of booze, ground beef, sausage, Thai and Chinese food, and pretty much anything fried. I also learned to indulge the rare cravings very carefully. You might think you want a whole jar of candied jalapenos, but really one or two will suffice — and if you overdo it by one spoonful they’ll come right back up, making them immediately repulsive from that moment onward.

Find the least-foamy toothpaste you can. Brushing my teeth was just insulting: the paste would make me gag, which would make me sick in the shower, which meant I had to clean the tub so my husband could use it next, AND I somehow had to get my teeth clean again without getting getting sick. My dentist had a good tip: if you really can’t take the toothpaste in the a.m., which I truly couldn’t for a few weeks there, just brush as best you can at night, and then brush with a bare toothbrush after rinsing with a good mouthwash in the morning. And don’t forget to floss, even if your gums are bleeding for the first time in your life thanks to all those hormones. You can really develop some serious problems if you don’t take care of your teeth while you’re pregnant.

Don’t take your prenatal on an empty stomach. If you are having trouble getting it down at all — either because it makes you nauseous when it hits your stomach, or because the act of swallowing a pill makes you gag — talk to your doctor about other options. When I had gone almost a week without being able to get mine down (or keep it there), I got the green light to switch to these chewables, available at Target or online via Amazon.

Graze, don’t stuff. Not only will you be shocked at how full “full” really feels when you’re newly pregnant, over-eating will make you nauseous and potentially cause you to vomit too … and all you can do is wait for digestion to take its course, barf bag in hand. (Related tip: if you’re getting in the car or going on the subway, don’t leave home without packing a barf bag in your purse. They actually make stylish ones, believe it or not).

If something works — for example, waffles for breakfast, lunch & dinner — just go with it. I found things with sugar helped stabilize me so I could at least leave the house (canned fruit, cranberry juice, waffles with maple syrup, etc.) but I’ve heard just as many people say sugary things made their nausea worse. Personally, the usual upset-tummy trio of toast, peppermint tea and ginger candies made me MORE sick while pregnant, so don’t be surprised if your go-to cures feel like the opposite as well. There’s no right or wrong (unless you’re thinking Brie, white wine and espresso are your go-to remedies).

Wear loose clothing and don’t be afraid to transition into a bigger size or a maternity outfit earlier than you planned to, aka before you’re really showing. Button down shirts, tight jeans, nylons and even your favorite underwear may just pinch too much around the middle now, and you shouldn’t feel silly going into clothes that are one size larger or switching to maternity hosiery (what’s that, you say? Well Spanx makes a line of nylons for moms-to-be that will change your life. Check ’em out and order liberally! Just try not too laugh too hard at the photos while you do so.)

I plan on doing a post soon about my top maternity wear recommendations, since it can be so challenging to find a) petite preggo wear and b) work-appropriate attire that’s fashionable, professional and comfortable.

PS: Need a laugh? When all else fails, visit the PregnantHusband Tumblr blog and I promise you, your day will improve. (Not that it can go downhill much when you start with your head hanging in a toilet).

Things that worked great for me

  • Getting to bed early
  • Starting each day with a carb-heavy meal (like a bagel)
  • Sipping broth (like Matzo Ball soup or chicken noodle)
  • Avoiding perfume and other strongly scented products
  • Dressing in layers to prevent overheating, which often led to nausea
  • Keepings baths & showers lukewarm
  • Keeping a sliced lemon in a Ziploc in my purse for counteracting offensive smells
  • Packing applesauce and granola bars in my purse for emergencies

Things that didn’t work for me, but worked for others I know:

  • Peppermint tea
  • Ginger candies
  • Saltines
  • Taking an approved sleep aid to prevent overnight sickness

Other tips from friends that I didn’t try:

  • Acupuncture
  • Seabands (motion-sickness wrist cuffs, available at any drug store or Amazon)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Sleep aids

Final words of wisdom: Your baby will be fine no matter how much (or how little) you are eating. My typical day included a bagel in the morning, a bag of Cheerios that I nibbled on all day, ginger ale or lemon water in my hand at all times, and mac n’ cheese or soup and toast for dinner. If I could muster it, I ate an apple and a granola bar for a snack. It was seriously lame and nutrient-deficient. But you know what? You can make up for the lack of vegetables, iron, legumes and Omega-3’s later in your pregnancy. Don’t worry if you can’t fit in much exercise, either. You can get back on board with physical activity after your morning sickness fades, so just take care of yourself and get lots of rest in the meantime! Baking a baby is hard work, and there’s no shame in getting the rest you need. And click here for a helpful prenatal wellness & nutrition guide from the hospital where I’m delivering in Boston.

See how Tasha is coping with the news.
How can I forget Tasha? Click the photo to see how she is coping with the news.