health’s role in a family.

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There was a time not too far back when my husband and I would eat crappy, greasy dominos pizza…sometimes more than once a week, oof. A time when we both thought our cravings could only be fixed by the worst version of a comfort food. The idea of eating a “healthy” pizza was ridiculous, and there was no such thing. We didn’t think we could enjoy it the same way we enjoyed the grease and cheese. Besides we were young and it didn’t matter, right? I would always play it cool like I wasn’t horribly affected by my choice to eat that grease bucket, but the truth is I ALWAYS felt horrible inside and out afterwards, but I thought, “that’s just how it is…and this habit won’t last forever.” Well, the habit lasted long enough for me to really feel it in my body and my mind…to a point where I didn’t even want the crappy food but it was such a routine that I couldn’t stop, and again I thought..”that’s just how it is I guess.”

That is not how it has to be. It’s never too late to stop, flip it, reverse it, as Missy Elliott would say.

Now, years later, and through my journey as a health and wellness coach, I’ve broken those habits and I have learned that the healthier version of my favorite comfort foods are not only great to eat, but leave me feeling great too. I don’t feel like I’ve swallowed a loaf of bread, or inhaled a block of cheese. I feel like I enjoyed my food and fueled my body with all of the good nutrition it needs to give my body energy, life, and love. I’ve learned that you can have your cake and eat it too…you just have to get creative with it.

This is even more important to me now that I have a little one, who by the way, is starting to eat solids. Dun dun dunnnn! But now more than ever I’m paying attention to my food and what I eat. I want to be a good roll model for him, and I feel like it’s my duty for my roll to include the food we eat! I don’t want my son to grow up drooling over the quick fix foods that hide a bunch of sugar and high fructose in them to make him act like he’s on crack. I want him to grow up LOVING food, but the right version of it.

A lot of people think it’s too hard or inconvenient to eat healthier..but it doesn’t have to be at all. It all depends on priority honestly, and especially with children in the house, priorities should include food and a healthy diet. It’s all about getting creative! Finding fun ways to make healthy food DELICIOUS and exciting.

Above is a foodie before and after. A version of a pepperoni pizza I USED to eat on the left, and a Thai chicken pizza I just made the other night on the right (if you’re on my program a whole pizza counts for 1 lean and green meal + a healthy snack). Habits are hard to break…I know, I’ve been there, but think about your body, your mind, and how you want them to feel. Who’s ready to learn how to fuel their body with all of the good stuff without feeling restricted? Honestly, I wasn’t…not until I realized it wasn’t just about ME anymore, but about my family and how I want my kids relationship with food to be. So, I took the chance to change my mindset and learn how good healthy could taste and feel. I fell in love with it so much I decided to become a health coach to help others feel good too. So, the change is so worth it guys, and you don’t have to walk the path alone, but it’s all up to you…as I have learned.

P.S I’m totally terrified, but I’ve decided to be more present with bringing health and food into my blog, since that is what I do, haha. So let me know if you would like to learn more about my optimal health program and/or the pizza recipe I made! It’s totally yummy, and surprisingly easy to make, I promise!

Playing dress up

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Oh man, I never thought I would be one of those parents who couldn’t wait to put their baby in one adorable outfit after another, but here I am, totally that person, and totally obsessed. I always thought I’d just take the lazy route because I assumed everything would either be pooped on, thrown up on or both so why bother trying to make the kid look nice, right? Oh wrong. Every time my little guy explodes out of his clothes, or spits up enough to make the room smell like baby vomit I happily sing, “what to put you in next?” I get so excited to change him and put another adorable outfit on it almost makes me sick. But I can’t help it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this either, please tell me I’m not.

I’ve also noticed a bit of a theme going on here. I can’t resist stripes. None of them. I love them all, fat ones, thin ones, colorful ones, vertical ones, horizontal ones. On shirts, on pants, on socks on hats…it’s becoming a bit of a problem. Maybe it’s because I love wearing them too, so I’m subconsciously forcing my offspring into the same obsession as me, or at least trying to enjoy dressing him up in what I like before he’s big enough to decide he wants to wear his underwear over his pants and 3 layers of shirts and socks on his hands? (which will also be adorable).

The other thing about this dress up obsession is I can’t stop taking pictures. Every time I put him in a new outfit I’m climbing on the bed or moving furniture to get the best angle of my BABY. Clearly too much time on my hands, because I’m also constantly trying to outdo myself. Best part is, my husband has joined in and now we have these competitions to outdo each others adorable picture taking skills. It’s insane, and part of me is super embarrassed to admit any of this, but like I said, there is no way I’m alone, right??

All in all I’ve come to realize I am surprising myself with the parent I am/becoming, but I’m also totally ok with it. I am no longer taking any possible strange obsessions or quirks off of the table, because I honestly don’t know when another one will strike. For now I am going to completely enjoy it, and eventually embarrass my son with all of my “baby model” pictures I’ve started collecting.

 

4 weeks young

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My little love Harland Hawk Blackstock is 4 weeks old today!

Warning: This post contains excessive photos and sappiness.

Today Harland is 4 weeks old, and I feel like the time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was gazing into his eyes in awe that I created this special little human. Every day I feel more blessed than the last. It hasn’t been easy, there were many times I’ve felt overwhelmed or second guessed my methods, but in the end I am so proud of my little family for having made it through these weeks with grace and lots of love.

Since this time seems to be passing by faster than I can digest, I figured it might be fun to look back and acknowledge the milestones achieved.

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Oct. 25th 2016 born at 2:46 am

Biggest achievement yet- actually making it through labor, and bringing this sweet boy into the world.

weight: 7lb 11oz

length: 19 in

 

Week one:

img_1775-1Mama’s milk came in after 3 days and we learned how to nurse, slowly and painfully but we did it and now it’s such an amazing and intimate bonding experience.

We started having tummy time and realized Harland has a neck of steel…making head butts a frequent occurrence.

He loves the swaddle, but mom and dad still suck at making him look like a little cozy burrito boy.

We went to our first appt: He was within normal range with a 7% weight loss, which we had no problem making up for in the next few days when the milk came pouring in and nipple leaking became a fashion statement.

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 Week two:

He lost his belly button stem, and we are oh so proud of his dainty little innie!

Took his first bath after being sponged for a week. It’s amazing how quickly babies go from clean to crusty. Good news is he loves the water, so dodged that unpleasantry.

We enjoy lots of skin to skin time, which is so precious and so important.

He makes the cutest gas smiles that I pretend are for me, because he’s obviously mature for his age.

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We noticed he really likes to blow spit bubbles too.

Sometimes he rocks the little mittens because he found his face and likes to slice it (and my neck) with his sharp little fingernails.

Loves being wrapped in the boba, I’m assuming it feels a lot like the coziness of the womb.

We have taken a vote (my immediate family) and determined he has the softest little head.

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He may be tiny and unable to see far or clearly, but when he gazes up it’s like he’s looking into our soul and somehow seems older and wiser than me.

 

 

 

Week Three:img_2012

Had his 3 week checkup!

Weight: 8lbs 15oz (55th percentile)

Height: 21in (90th percentile)

Happy healthy baby

We went to the park for the first time and slept.

Stared using a paci so moms boobs won’t fall off.

Began the tradition of morning walks because that’s the only way he takes a morning nap.

 

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Week four:

He is getting too big for newborn clothes and I can’t handle it!

When he’s screaming he’s soothed by the changing table and makes pensive expressions.

We took him out to dinner for the first time and we survived without a break down or a broken dish!

He’s stared to make little adorable sounds and mimicking our expressions. It makes me want to just smoosh and kiss his little perfect face.

 

 

I can’t believe how big my little guy has gotten, but I couldn’t feel more honored to be his mother and help guide him through this world with love and compassion. I can’t wait to see him evolve each month and for the rest of his life!

And now the many faces of Harland:

slugging back into shape postpartum.

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Let’s just admit it, trying to get back in shape after months of moving like a sloth is so hard to find motivation to do no matter how athletic you claim to be. Before getting pregnant I was an avid boxer and runner with a pretty disciplined schedule, but as soon as that morning sickness and fatigue kicked in and the nesting and comfort food cravings arrived my exercise routine quickly dwindled. I didn’t beat myself up about it though, after all I was creating a tiny human, which is hard and exhausting work in itself.

Now that I am no longer carrying a large sack of potatoes in front of me and can once again see my toes, I have been trying to find the motivation to get back to working out. However, I do think it’s important for all mama’s (myself included) to remember that you did just pop out a human and it’s completely normal for your body to be exhausted. It’s also ok for it to take a while to get back to a full workout routine, or even have the strength and energy to do so. There are days I get up and don’t even know if I slept…night time is a blur and that morning cup o’ joe is my only true friend I look forward to seeing. So, there should be ZERO expectation for any of us to hit the ground running after waddling around for so many months.

Those celebrities who are running around a week after giving birth and looking like they never even carried a child is not a reality most of us have the luxury of experiencing. Hence, I have decided to block that shit out and start out slow, with small goals to achieve–the first one being to just get my ass on a walk. Not setting any expectation as to how long or far to go, just get out and go, that’s the only expectation.

I figured slowly as time goes on I would walk farther, longer, and more strenuously.

Easy enough.

This week was my first week back at it, and it’s been challenging to say the least. Some mornings the very idea of moving my body makes me want to throw a tantrum, so I stand there staring at the ground trying to convince myself that sitting on the couch breastfeeding all day and watching HGTV burns calories and builds muscle too. Then I realize my lazy attitude could easily become a pattern and a year from now I could still be staring at my feet and having the same daily internal battle–so, I finally get up and put on my running shoes.

So far each day I have walked a little bit farther and longer and have felt great doing it. The routine feels like it is sinking in. So, yesterday morning I decided I would try to run a bit. Once again not setting any expectation, just running as much as I felt comfortable with while pushing a baby in a stroller, it couldn’t be too hard I thought–HA!

Note to any new moms out there with the same naive ambitions as me: running with a jogging stroller is not the same as running by yourself and for me it requires mental and physical strength and determination to get through it without breaking down.

To every mom out there who can jog a stroller up a hill and make it look like it’s a skip in the park, I envy/loath/admire you. I felt like I was DYING. Huffing and puffing, panting and sweating, dodging curbs, cars and obstacles while a senior citizen walked passed me. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into and I quickly retracted my cocky attitude and replaced it with passive defeat…none the less I pushed through and survived, but realized I have some work to do and it is going to take me a while to do it, which secretly sucks.

This morning physically hurt, but the good kind of hurt where you actually consider putting yourself through the pain again. Hopefully the pain will morph into gain and eventually I’ll be one of those cool moms who can effortlessly jog with their baby…or not we’ll see how these next few days ago.

They say it takes 3 months to make a habit a lifestyle..so here’s to a long, painful three months of kicking my ass back into gear.

 

Good luck to all my fellow mama’s out there busting their butts to get back into shape. It is no easy task.

Please feel free to share successes or failures you’ve experienced so that I don’t feel so alone in this transition back to reality. Also if anyone has any tips or suggestions about how to run with a stroller I would love to hear them, because right now it terrifies me.

 

co-sleeping vs. the judgy judgers

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Co-sleeping– This has been a giant debate in the land of parenting.

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep?

Will it make my baby needy?

Will it start a pattern that will be hard to break?

Is it actually safe?

Will people think I’m making unsafe parenting choices?

And the list goes on…

I grew up in the very liberal Bay Area where any parenting style that’s progressive or out of the ordinary is generally supported and celebrated. The place where parent’s have their kids on the paleo diet, or the gluten free craze, which is great, but I also realized it’s a bit of a bubble. Before I moved out of said bubble I never really thought about being judged for the choices I would make as a parent, because I was surrounded by like minded folk. Since leaving the bubble, I have come to realize that there are many different minds, with different parenting styles and lots of opinions.

Before having my son I never really put much thought into the sleeping arrangements. I always just figured I’d dabble with some options and would go with what worked for me. Most of the people I knew in the Bay Area co-slept with their babies, so that was always something I considered, but I didn’t want to rule anything out.

As any soon to be parent does, I had many conversations with friends, family and physicians to gather information and knowledge about how to raise a baby the right way, because I had no idea what I was doing. After hearing many stories, opinions, and perspectives, I realized everyone thinks their way is the right way. I also realized co-sleeping was surprisingly frowned upon outside of my “Bay bubble.” All of these strong opinions I received honestly made me feel conflicted and skewed my perspective, giving me a little more consideration to using a bassinet over co-sleeping.

After I birthed my little one, I started out with him in a bassinet next to our bed, because that is what doctor’s had suggested was the safest, and it had worked during our hospital stay. The first couple of nights he slept in his little bassinet just fine, but I didn’t. I would wake up worrying and panicking that something was wrong because I couldn’t see him. I felt like he was sectioned off in a little baby prison where I wasn’t allowed to touch, look at, hug, kiss, or hold him. I couldn’t feel his presence or warmth and I felt overwhelmingly disconnected, which I realized turned me into a sleep deprived night time worry wart.

After the first few nights my smart baby boy caught on that he was being cheated out of snuggles, which I understood, because I totally felt cheated too. Any time I placed him delicately in the bassinet, his sixth sense would kick into high gear and he would fuss and squirm and scream at any sound or slight change in his environment…sleep wasn’t happening, and both of us were upset. So I decided to try co-sleeping. I knew people who had done it successfully, and with the way I was feeling each time I put him in the bassinet, I wanted to find a better solution.

So the first night of co-sleeping happened, and it was blissful and comforting for everyone. Sleep was still touch and go, because the lil’ dude is only two weeks old and expectations can only be so high, but it FELT right.

I could see him, hear him, cuddle up next to him, he knew I was right there, and I could do my usually, “Is he breathing?!?!” panic as many times as I wanted without it being disruptive. It didn’t hurt that we found an amazing co-sleeper, the snuggle me, that makes my son look like he’s sleeping on an pillowy cloud of comfort and hugs him in all the right places. Everything was working, and I felt good about it, and I still do, but I’ll admit there was a part of me that was worried to tell people we made the choice to co-sleep with our child. I didn’t want to deal with the potential judgement I knew was out there, and I didn’t want to feel like I had to justify my decision.

When I took my son in for his first 2 week check-up we filled out the standard survey the hospital provides and one of the questions was about the sleeping arrangements–they give you two options: does your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet? I wrote in that we co-sleep.  Well surprise surprise our pediatrician questioned us about it with a tone (which if she wasn’t a professional would have been paired with a nice dramatic eye roll) suggesting that co-sleeping is not safe (even though studies have shown that c0-sleeping can actually reduce the risk of SIDS). This brief conversation (and judgy judgement) left me feeling shitty and unsure of my choices as a new parent, plus it ruined my confidence in co-sleeping. I spent a short while feeling butt hurt about the opinion I received. Don’t get me wrong, there is some validity in the skepticism because unless done safely, co-sleeping can be dangerous, but honestly so can leaving your baby in a crib separate from you. There are pro’s and con’s to both, just like with everything in life.

It’s hard not to be sensitive to opinion and judgements, especially as a new parent and in the end, after I got over my own insecurities about it, I realized the lesson learned here is: you have to do what feels right for YOU. So let the judgy judgers quack and cluck all they want about what they think you should do, because at the end of the day, they aren’t you, and they don’t sleep with your baby, you do. If you feel better and safer with your baby sleeping in a bassinet, then by all means go for it, but if you feel uneasy and disconnected from your child, like I did, then find what works for you, because that’s what actually matters. Nothing else.

So let those judgy judgers judge and go about your day feeling confident in the choices you make as a parent.

That’s what I aim to do.

 

feeding your candy gremlin

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I love this time of year, Fall is full of the best weather, movies, and of course FOOD. However a lot of the food and delicious treats out there are really bad for you and can bring on the tummy wars like no other. I love being a healthy clean eater, mostly because I am highly sensitive to dairy and processed foods, but also because it’s just the lifestyle I prefer. However during my whole pregnancy this little kiddo inside of me has brought on the sweet tooth candy gremlin like no other. I eat a meal just so I can have dessert… seriously, who’s with me? When I walk into a grocery store I have this overwhelming impulse to run to the candy isle and grab all of the shitty treats I can carry. This all sounds well and good until I’m 3 snickers bar and mini twix bags deep and feel HORRIBLE. Then I remember why I don’t eat that stuff.

I love healthy good foods that make the body happy, and I love cooking them even more, but sometimes I don’t have all day to make this elaborate creation that also empties my bank account just to get the ingredients…sound familiar?

Sometimes I just want something simple, easy, and quick to take care of my unhealthy cravings. This is why I have started searching for easy, cheap and healthy alternatives to take care of my candy gremlin, and yours too!

I have posted a few simple recipes I found that are easy to make, with ingredients you mostly have, or won’t cost you much to get.

 

Reese’s peanut butter cups:

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First up I have the very simple and allergy sensitive (dairy free, nut free, soy free, egg free, shellfish free, gluten free) Reese’s peanut butter cups, because they are amazing. This recipe is super easy and is perfect for those lazy days.

All you need is:

  1. A jar of peanut butter, like this one (or if you’re feeling fancy and less lazy make your own by just blending peanuts and salt in a blender with a little bit of oil.)
  2. Chocolate- I use Enjoy Life chocolate chips, when I am not in the mood to make my own chocolate. These are the BEST chocolate chips I’ve had that are allergy sensitive. They can be found at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and some general grocery stores depending on where you live, or you can always order them online.
  3. Himalayan salt (optional).
  4. If you want to get really crazy add a layer of jelly to make them peanut butter and jelly cups.

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate chips and use mini cupcake trays and or liners and fill the bottom with desired amount of chocolate, I don’t usually put too much since there is more to come on the top. Put tray in the freezer until chocolate hardens.
  2. Add in layer of desired amount of peanut butter. Put in the freezer once again until peanut butter has hardened. This will help avoid a messy treat where the peanut butter oozes out of the sides and down the front of your shirt, which is what will happen if the butter doesn’t harden.
  3. Add last and final layer of chocolate and sprinkle a little salt on top (if desired). Put back in the freezer until everything has hardened and ENJOY!

 

Next up is snickerdoodles:

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Ok, so these ones are not so healthy because after all, they are sugar cookies…but I had to post them because they are such a hit! You can however make them so that there isn’t any dairy in them, and you can always substitute with gluten free flour and flax for the egg.

I’ve tried several recipes and none of them tasted as amazing as these ones from here.

Things I learned and modified:

  1. Use earth balance or ghee instead of butter
  2. If you don’t have cream of tartar (like most people) you can substitute with using baking powder in equal amounts (1:1) for both baking soda and tartar.
  3. I did use egg in mine, but if you are vegan, for the egg you can use flax meal as a replacement as well as 1/4 cup whipped tofu for added volume if desired.
  4. For the holiday season I also liked to add pumpkin pie spice to the mix, but its totally optional!
Serves: 20 large cookies
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature–or dairy free butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 1 yolk–or flax meal 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda–or 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar–or 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2¾ cup flour
Cinnamon Sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. With mixer on medium speed add in egg, yolk and vanilla and beat for another minute, scraping the sides as necessary.
  4. Turn mixer to medium low and mix in baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix for 30 seconds, scraping sides as necessary.
  5. Turn mixer to low and add in flour, mixing until just combined.
  6. In a separate small bowl make your Cinnamon Sugar by mixing together cinnamon and sugar, stirring until evenly combined.
  7. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, measure out about 2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Then roll each cookie dough ball into the Cinnamon Sugar mixture.
  8. Place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning cookie sheet halfway through baking.

I have also had my eye on these coconut flour snickerdoodles from Goop, but have not made them yet, but obviously suggest them since they look amazing! 

And a holiday favorite, cornbread:

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This is a simple and easy vegan recipe I found from here. The recipe is great, but a few things I changed/modified:

  1. If you are cooking them in cupcake liners also cook at 350.
  2. Use coconut oil instead of canola oil–it’s so much better for you!
  3. You can use any form of dairy free milk from almond to coconut to rice… I have been really enjoying Cashew milk lately because of how creamy  it tastes…but it’s up to you!
  4. If you want them to be sweet, which I usually do, add about 4 additional TBSP of maple syrup/or agave to the recipe..and taste to make sure it’s up to your sweet tooth standards, you can always add more and it won’t change the outcome of the bread.
  5. You can always add a little bit of corn kernels in the blend to make it sweeter too…it’s up to you how much.
  6. They are already pretty moist, but if you want them to be even more lush add 1/3 cup dairy free yogurt.
  7. Follow the instructions exactly–making sure that the milk is room temp and the coconut oil is melted otherwise it will solidify.
  8. Make sure you spray the pan!! I forgot to do this and mine stuck to the sides, which is never fun.
  9. If you love coconut as much as I do try this coconut butter spread with your cornbread, you will not be disappointed.

Makes 12 to 16 squares

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil–try coconut oil!
2 tablespoons maple syrup/agave–or at least 6 for sweet bread
2 cups soymilk–or any non dairy substitute, try cashew!
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar–you can also use lemon juice in the same amount
1/2 teaspoon salt


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, wisk together the milk and the vinegar/juice and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).
Add the oil and maple syrup/agave to the milk mixture. Wisk with a wire wisk until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.

 

And there you have it, three great yummy treats to keep that candy gremlin away a little longer. 

What are some of your favorite sweets to make? 

Soaking in the last days of freedom

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As I near closer to my due date I am making sure to take full advantage of my energy and mobility outside of the house. Motivation to stay active isn’t hard for me, it’s more the giant bowling ball resting on my pelvis that makes movement such a delight.

How do I stay active you ask?

Morning walks have been a daily ritual for me since moving. Living in the heart of West Oakland didn’t really offer up much nature or soothing and comforting sounds nor surroundings, but living right up against the mountains sure does and it’s what keeps me motivated. I think I’ve seen more animals, heard more birds and hugged more trees than I have my whole life living in a city, and I’m LOVING IT.

Recently I’ve been seeing so many deer it’s becoming as common as spotting pigeons in the streets of a city, but I think we can all agree deer are significantly more majestic creatures to admire. Some days I’ll see one or two roaming around in the distance, while other days there are so many surrounding me I feel nervously outnumbered. This morning was a Snow White kind of morning… birds chirping, deer prancing, and me waddling over as close as I can to grab a shot of the Disney moment.  These are the little joys I get in life right now people. Soon my camera will be full of my new little bean…and me with glorious dark circles under my eyes, but until then it’s nature and animals.

Side note: Also, I’ve become known as the giant pregnant woman who walks around the neighborhood and that’s a pretty awesome accomplishment if I do say so myself.