Holidays · Recipes

St. Patty’s Day Confession

That’s right — I gave in to temptation this week. I did it. I caved. I’m totally, utterly weak. 

I ORDERED A SHAMROCK SHAKE. 

an irresistible temptation since childhood.
an irresistible temptation since childhood.

After all, who can blame me?? It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which is basically bigger than Christmas in Boston. Plus I have this cute Irish husband and consequently a bonnie Irish babe at home! I can’t resist being just a wee bit festive.

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This does not mean I had it together in the clothing department. Lacking a shamrocked onesie, I dug out the only item of green(ish) attire Georgia owns: some Gap jeggings that are really more chartreuse, with teeny white stars on them, and called it a day. And for myself?

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at least my walls are green?

The only one who really pulled out his A Game was Mark, because he was working the Freedom Trail today.

So I’m going to add value today not sartorially, but by sharing my favorite St. Patty’s Day recipes from around the interweb. Like:

A healthy Shamrock Shake knockoff by Hungry Girl

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage by Rockin’ Mom’s Kitchen

Mini Grasshopper Ice Box Cakes by Lulu The Baker

Irish Coffee and Guiness Floats by Pioneer Woman

That’s all, my friends! Have a fun St. Patrick’s Day, and may the luck of the Irish be with you all year ’round!

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.
Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Fun Brunch Ideas

Before the holidays, I had a brunch & jewelry party for a few of my friends and family. Not wanting to overwhelm people with food, I eventually scaled WAY back from my original menu, just serving some finger foods (chips & salsa, cheese & crackers) for those who get up early and would have already eaten breakfast, plus a mixture of brunch-y favorites for those in the crowd (read: people my age) who showed up HUNGRY. Even though I didn’t get to make everything I wanted to, I still had a couple hits, so I’m sharing them with you!

German Apple Pancake topped with a crust of cinnamon sugar. Mmm.

So what was on the menu?

  • Fresh fruit
  • Mimosas (both virgin and non)
  • Bagels with cream cheese & pumpkin butter
  • A vegetable quiche, courtesy of my mother-in-law
  • German apple pancake
  • Egg McMuffin casserole

What the heck is that last thing, you say? Glad you asked. It’s my new favorite for when you have to make a vegetarian-friendly breakfast dish for a morning potluck, or just want to have a grab-and-go option in your fridge for a busy work week. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here it is:

Photo Nov 03, 11 05 10 AM

Egg McMuffin Casserole

adapted from Plain Chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips (or, you know, real Canadian bacon)
  • 4-5 English muffins, split (Bays work well but Thomas’s are good too)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (the sliced kind is great too)
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • salt & pepper

Photo Nov 03, 11 04 57 AM

Directions

Spray or butter the bottom of a square baking dish.

Cube the English muffins, tearing by hand, and layer half of them in the bottom of the dish.

Layer half the bacon and half the cheese on top of the muffins. Repeat all three layers.

Photo Nov 02, 7 23 06 PM

Photo Nov 02, 7 27 16 PM

Mix together the eggs, milk, salt & pepper and whisk briefly; pour over the casserole and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to one day.

Bake at 325 for 45 to 50 minutes.

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We like it topped with maple syrup. And, of course, Mark prefers it with Canadian bacon just like at McDonald’s, but he admits the veggie stuff tastes almost as good!

If you are making this for the week, it will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Reheat a square for 1 minute in the microwave and take it to go!

If I had a larger crowd than 10, or more time/ambition, here are some fun things I would have liked to serve:

Courtesy of Healthy Slow Cooking.

Slow Cooker Gingerbread Latte

Courtesy of Simply Scratch.

Crispy Garlicky Mustard Roasted Red Skin Potatoes

Courtesy of Healthy Slow Cooking.

Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Oatmeal

Let me know if you ever get a chance to try these! Happy Brunching.