Sunday, April 23, 2017

dairy-free green pea falafel

As adapted from Green Chef
Ingredients:
1.5 c. green peas
1 tsp. diced scallion
2 cloves diced garlic
1 tbsp. diced fresh parsley
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. cooking oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place peas in a bowl and mash into a chunky puree. Add scallions, garlic and parsley; mix. Add flour, coriander, salt, cumin, pepper, baking powder and olive oil until combined. If mixture seems dry, add about 1 tablespoon of water. When you are ready to form the falafel, slightly wet your hands with water. Do not pull a Danielle and attempt to skip this step as it will make your life infinitely more challenging. Form into six 0.5" thick patties and refrigerate for five minutes. Heat cooking oil over medium heat and transfer the patties to the hot pan for 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Serve with hummus or in dairy-free pita.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

dairy-free greek quinoa salad


As adapted from Peas and Crayons
Ingredients:
1 c. quinoa
1.5 c. water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook the quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa cooks, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sugar and salt. When the quinoa is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Add black beans, cucumber, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper dress with the vinegar and oil dressing. Serve warm or place in the fridge for later to serve cold. This goes great with pita and hummus. Hummus should always be dairy-free (we go with Sabra roasted pine nut) and you may or may not be able to find dairy-free pita in the store. If you can't find it, here is a great dairy-free pita recipe!

Friday, April 21, 2017

five on friday

{1} The kids recently rediscovered a magnifying glass they had received as a gift and we had a lot of fun with it. It began with Edith examining Etta and promptly declaring "that's a BIG Etta head!" Indeed it is, my child.

{2} The baby finches on our porch have all hatched and we creep on them on the reg. My first thought was how ugly they were but I have to admit they're growing on me. The only clearly distinguishable feature at any given time is a beak or two. Otherwise it is pink scraggle fuzz city.

{3} Elden got this book in his Easter basket from my parents. We were reading it the other day when Edith exclaimed, "that's poop! That looks like meatballs!" I don't know which I'm more upset about--the fact that she thinks my cooking looks like poop or the fact that she's right.

{4} Did you catch my post where I discussed going dairy-free as a breastfeeding mom on Wednesday? While I wrote it with breastfeeding moms in mind, it is really great for anyone who is trying to go dairy-free or who is preparing a meal for someone who is. I also posted a dairy-free recipe here.

{5} The Nest thermostat. I don't know how much of this can be attributed to the weather or the fact that we got a new insulated garage door over the winter, but we are definitely saving money on heating since we installed our Nest. I love being able to see how long our furnace was on for and changing the temperature from the comfort of my bed isn't bad either!

Linking up with AmyKatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

edith at 2.5

Tomorrow is our first baby girl's two and a half birthday. Edith Jane is full of spunk, passion and sass. Her favorite things are dresses and baby dolls. She loves everyone deeply so whenever we have someone over or we go to their house the second we leave their presence she exasperatedly claims "I miss XYZ!"
 For as much as you might think Edith is a "girly girl," she also loves playing with worms and in the dirt. She is fearless and Jon often says he thinks she's going to be a stunt double when she grows up because she quite literally throws herself into everything she wants to try. As her mother, it is terrifying.
 Edith's biggest struggle right now is sharing me. If Elden gets hurt and I go to hold him she has a big meltdown. If I have to nurse Etta but she wants my attention she will gently hit me (we are working on it) to display her frustration. Edith has also learned some less than amusing behaviors (yelling at us, stomping her foot at us) from her beloved brother but compared to the same behaviors on him, hers are child's play.
 Edith is very intelligent and verbal. She can count to 12. She has gotten a lot easier to understand in the past few months. Edith knows what she wants and she will persist until she is able to adequately communicate it (though sometimes if we still can't figure out what she's talking about after much explaining she'll say, "I don't know what else to say it" in defeat... it's heartbreaking).
Edith's favorite food is salami. Her vegetable of choice is carrot and she likes almost all fruit. She is a little nurturer and cuddler. Edith loves to sing and dance. She also loves to play hide and seek, restaurant, and picnic. Edith loves Elden but also grows tired of him at times. It is next to impossible to get an intentional natural smile from Edith if your camera is out. She is constantly cracking us up and we are so glad she's ours.

dairy-free avocado chickpea mashed sandwiches


I had posted about these sandwiches before, but I modified Ally's recipe to account for being dairy-free and thought I would share here.

Ingredients:
1 can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 avocado
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white vinegar
3 tbsp. mayonnaise 
salt and pepper to taste
dairy-free bread (we like Nature's Own 12 grain)
lettuce
sprouts
bacon (optional)

Directions:
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, flesh from the avocado, lemon juice, and mayonnaise. If you want to add onion, garlic, or shallot to the mash, you can do so. Add salt and pepper to taste and run the food processor until the ingredients are combined. Place the mash on your bread along with lettuce, sprouts and bacon (if you so desire).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

a guide to going dairy-free for the breastfeeding mom

So the good news is that we finally think we figured out Etta's sleep issues. The bad news is we think Etta's sleep issues are directly related to dairy, which means I have to cut my most beloved thing (cheese! The humanity!) out of my diet.

With both Elden and Edith, I thought dairy might be causing them discomfort and therefore I attempted to cut it out of my diet. With both of those kiddos it proved to be futile so after 3-4 weeks I reintroduced it. As such, when Jon first suggested cutting it out again around Etta's 2-month birthday I pretty much waved the idea aside because dairy sensitivity in kids is less common than most believe. Even if Etta is sensitive to dairy, I don't necessarily believe it is a legitimate allergy because she is growing, had no blood in her stool, etc. In fact, she was mostly happy during the day, she's just never consistently slept more than 2-3 hours at a time at night (and that is on a rare good night). I had mentioned this to a friend whose daughter has a dairy allergy and she said that's exactly how her daughter's symptoms manifested. This revelation coupled with the fact that the two days we supplemented with milk-based formula resulted in the worst nights ever (complete with inconsolable screaming for a few hours, something that had never happened before), followed by two days without supplementing and okayish nights, followed up by one last day with formula/an awful night...I'm going to give it a shot. We also decided to try this formula for supplementation because the milk proteins are already 'digested' so if Etta is sensitive to them she should be able to break them down much easier as the process has already started.

I digress. The point of this post is to help other new moms who may be in my shoes. When I first cut dairy out with Elden, I think I cried for days. Not necessarily because I missed cheese (real talk though, I totally did and that was totally a contributing factor) but because the whole process was so overwhelming. In case you've never really looked, dairy is in nearly every single off-the-shelf food item you can buy. We even found it in vegetable broth once! That means you basically have to cook every meal from scratch (which, when you are a totally exhausted, hormonal, stressed-out new mom... hashtag meltdown) and my experience (granted, this was over 4 years ago) with Elden was that dairy-free recipes all seemed too involved and it was all just too much. Luckily for me, I had a friend whose son had an intense dairy allergy (the anaphylactic kind) and I was able to reach out to her about how to do this thing. She made it all feel much lighter and gave me tips that I have held onto. As such, this transition with Etta didn't stress me out at all.

What if I told you going dairy-free could be easy? That you can keep using the same recipes you always used with some simple substitutions? Because it is that easy!

Just a few notes to keep in mind:
-You can use any non-dairy milk (coconut, soy, almond, hemp, etc.). Sometimes I use different types based on the recipe I'm making (sweet vs. savory). A lot of non-dairy milk is shelf stable so you can buy a small box or can for your pantry for different recipes, which is nice.
-Tofutti and Daiya are both vegan-friendly brands. That's another tip I have - if you find something that is vegan then you know it does not contain cow's milk! Our big box grocery store carries both of these brands in a small section by the dairy products, but if you are unsure whether yours carries them you can always call the store to ask.
-Yogurt and ice cream are other areas that are growing in the non-dairy field. These are made with non-dairy milk and there are a variety of options by different brands.
-Milk chocolate is obviously not dairy-free. A lot of high quality dark chocolates are, and you can also find vegan chocolates like these.
-There are several off-the-shelf dairy-free frosting brands if you want to buy it. Just read the labels and you will know if it is safe!
-As always, make sure you read labels on everything you buy. Dairy has a way of sneaking in there, even if it isn't a direct ingredient (i.e. may be produced in a facility that also produces dairy products, etc.). Dairy can take up to three weeks to fully leave your system so exercise patience and caution when grocery shopping.

I am working on compiling a list of some naturally dairy-free recipes for a follow-up post that are quick, simple, and delicious. If you have any questions about anything related to this topic at all I am an open book!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

etta (22 weeks old)

At 22 weeks old, Etta is an ounce shy of 16 pounds. We know that because we took her to the pediatrician on Friday morning since she spent the majority of Thursday night screaming her head off. Curiously enough, despite her incredible lack of sleep, Etta is pretty happy most of the day. She loves to smile and roll and is working on that core strength so she can master sitting on her own. We have begun supplementing with formula because my supply isn't keeping up and we are wondering if that is contributing to her sleeplessness (possible dairy sensitivity). Etta still has blocked tear ducts so her eyes are perpetually goobery but they don't seem to bother her. She is wearing mostly 6-12 month clothes now and we can hardly keep up with her growth!

Monday, April 17, 2017

easter weekend and running on empty

The weather in Ohio was absolutely gorgeous for Easter weekend so we were able to spend the majority of it outside. The freedom to leave the confines of our home was more important than I can even explain. The past two weeks have been rough. Etta was not sleeping. As in, one (or two, if we were lucky) 45-minute naps per day, and wake ups about every hour at night. We tried everything we could possibly think of and on both Wednesday and Thursday nights I had pretty massive emotional breakdowns. We were exhausted, being particularly short with Elden and Edith due to said exhaustion, and I was seriously ready to run away from my life and hibernate for a few years. We even took Etta to the pediatrician on Friday morning because surely she had an ear infection or some other obvious and treatable reason for her lack of sleep. I bet you see where this is going. Etta is healthy! Which, of course, is absolutely wonderful, but I can honestly say I had never hoped my kid had an ear infection more than I did that morning.

Thankfully, Etta had a relatively respectable night on Saturday night (hooray for only waking up every 2.5-3 hours!) so I felt a small sense of rejuvenation, but that proved to be short-lived in the sense that I think my body finally realized what it had been missing for the past two weeks and now it is trying to binge sleep. This season is truly not my favorite of parenthood; between the lack of sleep, the insane amount of laundry (which - our dryer decided to go on the fritz two loads in yesterday, too!), the toys everywhere (especially under my feet), and the terrible twos/fournager, I end my days feeling mostly defeated. I want to be everything to every person in my family and with expectations like that I'm setting myself up for failure. I've really had to work to try to change my perfectionist tendencies to avoid a full-blown meltdown. I'm not really sure why I felt the urge to spill my heart on a post that's focused on one of the more cheerful events (Easter! New life! Hope!) in human history, but in the interest of full disclosure that's kind of where I am at. I know this is a season and won't last, but with the way my days have been bleeding into one another it certainly feels like I am in the throes of forever.

Onwards!

My mom took Elden and Edith for the day on Friday so Jon could have a bit of a break. My company let us leave early in anticipation of the holiday weekend so I got out an hour sooner than normal. Jon and I met at my parent's house and had dinner there which was lovely.
Saturday we celebrated Easter with Jon's family. There was such wonderful food and company. In their baskets from Jon's parents, the kids got balloons/a pump like this which can blow up balloons with air OR water and I'm pretty sure it is the greatest invention ever. Seriously, these were a hit and Elden spent part of yesterday filling balloons himself with water. 10/10, totally recommend it as a gift.
both the girls' dresses and Etta's bonnet were mine when I was little

On Sunday our church had breakfast which meant eating with friends - always a blast. In the afternoon we went to my sister's house to celebrate with my family and had more delicious food and fellowship. The kids were once again spoiled and I can definitely say Easter ranks right up there with Christmas in their world.
Sleep issues aside, this weekend was definitely one of my favorite in recent memory. It fills me with boatloads of hope for a summer that will be spent outside and hopefully a whole lot more sleep.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

winc wine subscription box review

Since we hopped on the meal delivery subscription review bandwagon, I figured why not jump on the wine subscription one as well?!
I don't drink much/often, but when I do, my drink of choice is wine. I typically get moscato with this being my moscato of choice. As such, I tend towards very sweet wines (have I told you how dope plum wine is? If you like the candy equivalent of wine, try a glass of plum next time you get Thai food). I've been wanting to branch out a bit on my tastes and try new things, but I am far from a wine connoisseur and I am overwhelmed by the selection when I go to the store.
Enter Winc. You answer some questions and they develop an initial wine profile for you and make suggestions of wines to try. You also rate the wine you receive so Winc can better hone its recommendations for your taste buds. When the order came, it came with a handy journal that had descriptions and suggestions of what to eat with your wine!
Even though they make recommendations, you can select specific wines for each box you receive if you want to try something else or don't think you'd like the recommendation. If you get 4 bottles, shipping is free. You can also skip a box at any time if you're like me and won't drink four bottles in a month.

In my first box, this is what I received:
At small group on Thursday I tried the Brethren of the Road and Loves Me Not. I preferred Brethren of the Road but Loves Me Not wasn't bad either! I am waiting to try the sauv and the cider, but I have yet to meet a cider I dislike and the sauv got pretty great reviews so I doubt I'll be disappointed!
If you use my referral link, you will receive one bottle of wine for free on your order. You can order as many or as few wines as you'd like, so if you want to try just one you just need to pay for shipping with that link. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

five on friday

me too, elden. meeee too.
{1} So our sleep just keeps deteriorating. We're to the point where I'm wondering whether we should make a peds appointment to make sure Etta isn't sick or something, but she has no symptoms of being sick, is generally happy during the day, etc. She just doesn't sleep. Unless it's 6 am and she's been up most of the night and we all have to get ready for the day. Then Etta takes a power nap. A friend recommended this book and I should be receiving and promptly desperate-binge-reading it today. 

{2} Green Chef. We finished our last of three meals on Wednesday and we still think it was the best value. Check out my comparison between Green Chef, Blue Apron and Hello* Fresh here.

{3} Diono Radian RXT. I've talked about our love affair with these car seats before, but I want to take you by the face to tell you that I am all-in. Our van was in the shop this week so we were left wondering how to work out Elden's preschool drop off/pick up. I have a Hyundai Sonata so we decided to see if we could truly fit three across while I used the shop's courtesy car to get to work. Car seats that are really safe, FAA approved, AND compact enough to fit in a sedan? Cannot recommend these more.

{4} We took inventory of our seeds this week and organized them by planting season. I'm most excited for edamame, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and the different carrot varieties we have. We also have some plants coming from Stark Brothers (these, these and these) and I reallllly hope our garden doesn't disappoint this year.

{5} One day Edith and I were both wearing dresses and she was so excited that we matched. Elden was upset he and I didn't have anything that matched. I explored Mommy and Me clothing but it was mostly for moms and girls / really expensive. I found shirts for all of us on sale (I got baseball tees from H&M for Etta and me and from Gap for Elden and Edith), bought the images from Etsy, and my mom used her Cricut to put the images on the shirts! The kids were so excited to match and I love how they turned out. Thanks, mom!

*in my sleep deprived state I originally mistyped this as "Hell Fresh" and I think that could be a unique new subscription service of sorts.

Linking up with AmyKatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

blue apron vs. hello fresh vs. green chef

I previously discussed our experience with Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. The gist is that we preferred Blue Apron over Hello Fresh, but we didn't perceive a value in either service and would probably never pay full price for the meals. This decision was further cemented when we read the nutrition info on our favorite dishes from both Blue Apron (27g of fat with a staggering 15g of saturated fat in ONE serving!) and Hello Fresh (24g of fat with 10g of saturated fat).

My biggest gripe with both of these providers was that every meal we had was a one pot/pan dish. I missed the variety of different flavors on the same plate, and while the recipes were good, they were not something I would be willing to pay $10 per person for. A friend recommended Green Chef to us and I was instantly excited because it included an entree and one to two sides per meal.
green pea falafel with red beet hummus = mind blown
We got our first box over the weekend and I am hooked. Nutritionally-speaking, the dish we loved the most was actually higher in fat (but lower in saturated fat) than the other two. That being said, the fat seems to come primarily from the salad dressing and the oil the falafel was fried in (as opposed to all the cheese in the non-Green Chef meals we got) so if you exercise minimalism I don't think you'd be consuming that amount. Also, both Jon and I felt there were infinitely more vegetables in our dishes with Green Chef than the other two, which seemed to be made up of dairy or grain fillers. Most importantly, the food was something I would happily order in a restaurant--something that we didn't feel about Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Finally, one thing my friend, Angela, pointed out was the packaging waste associated with these sort of subscriptions. Green Chef goes out of their way to use eco-friendly packaging in their boxes and practices sustainable food sourcing--something that is of growing importance to our family.

Green Chef is the most expensive of the three options--it is $10.49 per person per meal for the vegetarian dinners compared to $9.99 from the other two--but for $0.50 more, the quality and quantity of the food we received had a perceived value. We will not be able to order this weekly as it is simply not financially feasible, but I definitely see us keeping an eye on the menu and splurging once a month. If you are vegan, gluten-free, or paleo, they also have boxes tailored towards your needs, something Blue Apron and Hello Fresh do not offer.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

wednesday.

Today is day 8ish? (honestly, I've lost track) of horrible sleep in our house. Etta's fancy pants mattress came in the mail yesterday and we had high expectations for a miraculous sleep but alas--with great expectation comes great disappointment.


Our next avenue to explore is whether she's just hungry. Jon texted me yesterday to let me know our freezer stash is dwindling. I hadn't realized he needed to supplement what I had been bringing home from work so this came as a surprise. However, between my exhaustion and stress levels I'm not that surprised that I'm not keeping up, so I think we are going to start supplementing with formula. I still plan to pump at work, but I refuse to kill myself over it like I did with Edith, especially with my postpartum depression still lingering. I hope that giving Etta some formula will dramatically improve sleep in our house (in addition to abysmal nights, yesterday was 0 for 3 on naps... unfathomable to us since she's growing like a weed) but I'm also going to be wracked with guilt if the reason she hasn't slept the past five months is because she's just hungry. 

The good news is today my mom is coming by for a significant portion of the day to have some individual time with Elden and Edith and they are both so excited to see her. It made the sadness associated with me leaving for work minimal which is always a great thing! 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

ten on ten

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
{Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!}


{1} If Elden wakes up while I'm nursing Etta in the morning, he always crawls into bed with us and cuddles up next to her. Swoon.

{2} Usually while I'm nursing Etta, I also check the weather forecast. I was more than a little excited when I saw the highs for this week!

{3} My work is a campus and I had hazardous goods training in one of the other buildings in the morning. Given how gorgeous it was outside I didn't mind the couple-minute walk in the least.

{4} Last week Jon brought home some chocolate covered cashews he found at Walgreens on clearance. They were the best chocolate covered cashews I had ever had, and naturally I couldn't find them anywhere...until now...

{5} I have a few big projects going on at work for systems I'm really unfamiliar with. This means I've been spending a whole lot of time on McMaster's website. I'm actually pretty proud of myself--most of what I do you can't really be trained on (there are too many systems, parts, etc. so every single job is different) and I have been holding my own. I've definitely messed up a few times, but I finally feel like I know what questions to ask and I am able to anticipate potential problems that could arise so I have a contingency plan in place.

{6} I feel like so much of my day is spent with a pump or a baby on my person. While shopping with my friend this weekend, we discussed how feeling perma-tethered to another human is something that will absolutely not be missed once this season is behind us. 

{7} There is some sort of an HVAC issue with our building and my office is either 30 degrees or 300 degrees. On this day it was the latter. I'm fortunate that I work in a very casual environment where we all give each other a hard time. By 1 pm I was threatening to take my pants off because it was so freaking hot so one of my peers hunted down a fan for me to borrow. 'Twas for the best.

{8} We used our grill for the first time this season for dinner! Elden had a burger, Edith had a hot dog, I had a chicken breast, and Jon had a faux chicken patty. We also made asparagus and golden beets. It was AMAZING.

{9} We spent about 2.5 hours outside after I got home from work. The kids dug, I weeded, mowed and dug out a plant by our lamp post, and Jon took Etta for a walk. So grateful for this weather!

{10} One of the best surprises of the day was freshly baked molasses rolls that Jon had whipped up while I was at work. I got to enjoy one while we watched Friends on Netflix. The perfect way to end a perfect evening.

Monday, April 10, 2017

weekending

We had a really fun / weird weekend (in terms of weather) this weekend!

Friday:
-Ran and got some pizza for dinner because we had to go pick up our van that had been in the shop.
-It had snowed like crazy overnight Thursday and Friday morning so we woke up to about 5" of really heavy, wet snow. This called for snowman building after dinner! Thankfully, Jon takes them out in the snow and Etta and I watched from the comfort of our warm house.

Saturday:
-My mom came over and we took the kids to an Easter egg hunt at a local church, then she came to Edith's dance class to watch. Elden joined us as well!
-During quiet/nap time, I snuck out and went shopping with my friend, Sarah. Our goal? To buy ourselves clothes as we are both in the first year postpartum phase. We each bought ourselves precisely one item and bought our kids about $60 worth at H&M. Naturally.
H&M steals - skeleton for Elden, penguin dress for Edith

Sunday: 
-Went to church, then went to Sam's house for a small group Easter egg hunt.
-Spent a WHOLE lot of time outside because it was 70 degrees.
-Ran to Home Depot to get lawn care supplies (fertilizer, grub killer, and grass seed).
-Read one of my favorite childhood books that my Grandma always read to me to the kids.

Linking up with Biana.