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Arugula Salad with Soft-boiled Eggs

New moms need fast, easy meals to keep them going without leaving them feeling guilty. This is one of my go-to quick lunches that’s both satisfying and nutrient-packed. And it only takes about 5-10 minutes of prep.

2 organic eggs

2 cups organic, pre-washed arugula

½ avocado, chopped

6 grape tomatoes, halved (optional)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

Dash of cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper

Place eggs in small pot, cover with water, place on stovetop on high heat. Set timer to 12 minutes (plus or minus 1 minute depending on desired consistency. This makes a slightly gooey center yolk, but not runny. Meanwhile, toss the salad, dress and season. When timer is up, rinse eggs in cold water, peel and season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty, toasted French bread and butter and a cold iced tea. Yum!

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Black Bean and Avocado Brownies

Well we had an extra avocado and I really wanted to try to make the brownies fudgier with a better quality chocolate. My friend, Michaela, inspired me to try a version with black beans. Believe it or not, these are even better than the version with flour!  I think the coconut oil and peanut butter are key. You can’t really taste them, but they add depth and fudgy mouth feel. Also, I used Godiva cocoa powder and Mast Brother’s chocolate “chips” which, appropriately, look like chips as you can see! Using good quality chocolate makes all the difference.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small very ripe avocado (or half a large)
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 Tbsp coconut oil (optional, makes it fudgier)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 heaping Tbsp peanut butter (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 baking pan. In a food processor, blend all ingredients except chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and gently push into batter. Bake about 25-30 mins or until an inserted knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Black bean and avocado brownies

Fudgy Avocado Brownies

I admit I was a little weirded out by the idea of avocado in my brownies, but these are quite good and relatively guilt free. I would, however, recommend blending the avocado as opposed to just mashing (as I did!). Otherwise, as you can see, you end up with green specks on your brownies!

1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease an 8×8 square pan. Beat maple syrup, avocado, almond milk, coffee and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix with a spatula. Stir in chocolate chips. Note that batter will be super thick. Pour in pan and bake 25-30 mins or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Bacon, Sage and White Bean Soup Recipe

Yes, I know I just posted a white bean recipe, but this recipe (modified from Food Network) is so worth sharing.  Plus, I knew I’d lure you in with the word bacon.  Unfortunately, I did not remember to take a picture of this one.  Though, I will be making it again as it was so good!  Note this recipe contains dairy.  And for all you vegetarians and vegans, let me know if you come up with any good substitutions for the cream and bacon — 2 key ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 2 strips good savory bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I like Eden Organic, BPA-free cans)
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Fry the bacon in a soup pot over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the olive oil, butter and shallots and saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir one 1 minute. Add the beans, sage and broth, simmer and cook 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a Vitamix blender (BPA free) or use an immersion blender and puree until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the cream, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread and a nice, bright salad for a surprisingly hearty meal with an incredible depth of flavor.

A Healthy Deodorant – Food for Your Skin

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If you’re one of those people who doesn’t sweat, you’re either a) not working out or b) expelling the heat elsewhere. Not that I’ve done any scientific studies on this, but come on, we all sweat!

I scoured the shelves and tested several “healthy” deodorant brands, but mostly I just ended up with “unsure” arms and feeling like I wasted a lot of money. I love Tom’s of Maine for things like toothpaste, but their deodorant just wasn’t cutting it.

Lavanila has no harsh ingredients like aluminum — which could lead to heavy metal buildup in the body and is believed to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It also smells lovely — like a blend of lavender and vanilla. I was only able to find it at Sephora. But be sure to call and ask them if they carry it before making the trek. I had to visit 3 stores before I found it. Stay fresh and let me know what you think!

Organic Body Soap – Food for Your Skin

When you’ve got a bun in the oven, it’s important to consider not only what you feed your belly, but also what you feed the largest organ of your body — your skin. Studies suggest that parabens, which are found in many cosmetics, soaps and lotions, contribute to the overall toxic load in the body and may interrupt normal development.

I’ve been working to transition from my usual products to those that are whole and pure and paraben-free. I love this hemp almond soap from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. It doesn’t dry out my skin, leaves no soap residue and smells wonderful! And, I feel good about my skin drinking up nourishing ingredients like organic coconut and olive oil.

More of my favorite products to come!

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Recipe: White Bean Chicken Chili

Fall is the perfect time for soups, stews and chili! Try my slightly spicy take on white chili to satisfy and warm you on a chilly day.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (I like organic Smart Chicken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or 2 Tbsp hot salsa)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided (Eden Organic come in BPA-free cans!)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (San Marzano are my fav!)
  • 1 small can green chilis
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream and minced fresh cilantro, optional

Directions

  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat, cook the chicken, onion, jalapeno, oregano and cumin in oil for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is browned and vegetables are crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  • In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of beans. Add remaining beans and broth to pot. Bring to boil. reduce heat, cover and cook on low for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until heated through. Avoid over boiling as this will make the chicken tough!
  • Stir before serving. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie from Scratch Recipe

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My favorite thing about fall is the food! And pumpkin pie is my favorite dessert, second only to anything chocolate. This recipe is a version of that made by Mark Bittman. I altered the proportions a bit and added my secret ingredient: lemon zest. Let me know what you think!

For pumpkin puree:

1 medium sugar pumpkin
1 Tbsp oil

Preheat oven to 400. Cut stem off pumpkin, cutting in at a 45 degree angle. Cut pumpkin in half horizontally. Scrape out seeds and stringy flesh with a spoon (saving seeds to roast if desired!) Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil and place pumpkin with skin facing up. Roast 60 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly. Use tongs to pull back skin, which should remove easily. You can either leave flesh stringy as is for a thicker consistency pie, or you can blend for smoother mouth feel.

For the crust:

12 graham crackers, broken
2 Tbsp sugar (or maple syrup)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, grind the graham crackers and sugar to a fine consistency. Slowly add butter and pulse to coat. Press mixture evenly into bottom and sides of pie pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Allow to cool.

For the filling:

1/2 cup sugar (or honey, maple syrup, or 1/4 agave)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk

Turn heat on oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix sugar and eggs with a hand mixer. Add spices and mix. Add pumpkin puree, mix. Add milk, mix.

Slowly add filling to baked crust. Bake 30-50 minutes until the center jiggles slightly but firmly.

How to Relieve Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation is never fun, especially when you’re pregnant and have an a little human body crowding out your digestive tract. Laxatives are not safe during pregnancy, so what can you do?

First, make sure you’re adapting all the lifestyle factors to promote healthy bowel movements:

– drink plenty of water and fluids
– get daily exercise, even if it’s just walking
– eat enough fiber from vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes
– make time for a bowel movement, and try to stick to a schedule

But chances are if you’re reading this you’re desperate for help NOW. So here are some things you can try:

– sip on hot water all day
– try a cup of green tea or coffee, which have natural laxative effects
– drink a cup of chamomile tea to relax the smooth muscles in the GI tract
– eat a few dried prunes or apricots
– drink some warm (or chilled) prune juice
– try Metamucil fiber crackers
– Colace is an OTC medication that most doctors consider safe during pregnancy. You can take up to 3 per day and expect a BM within 72 hrs.
– massage your belly in an arch from lower right up to your sternum and down the left side

Hopefully, you will find some relief with these tips! I’d love to hear feedback on what’s working for you!

7 Tips for Stomach Flu During Pregnancy

I had the misfortune of coming down with a terrible stomach flu yesterday. Being 5 months pregnant, I was worried sick about my baby. My symptoms were diarrhea and vomiting every 45-90 minutes for 14 hrs. While I had heard the bug itself shouldn’t pose any risks to the baby, I knew dehydration could be very dangerous. After reading on the internet, it made me more nervous since I certainly wasn’t able to keep down a sip of water, let alone the copious amounts recommended. Here is my advice:

1. Call your doctor or midwife just to keep them in the loop.
2. Get some help from your baby-making partner, family member or a friend, or at least let them know you’re ill and check-in with them frequently.
3. Get a large cup of ice chips to suck on. If you’re like me, I couldn’t keep anything down and this was all I could do to keep some hydration.
4. Get a glass of anything you can tolerate sips of: diluted white grape juice, water, even soda if that’s what helps. This is not the time to be concerned about high-fructose corn syrup — you just need to get hydrated.
5. Get some plain brown rice cakes or saltine crackers to nibble on.
6. Once you’re able, try some broth or dry toast and continue with bland foods like bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
7. If you’re very ill for over 24 hours, call your doctor again. You may be advised to go to the ER for some IV fluids.

If you develop additional symptoms like headache, fever or stiff neck, call your doctor right away as you may need to go to the hospital.

I hope this helps! And try not to worry. The body does all it can to protect that little bun in your oven.