Banana Pancakes

I never really made pancakes, nor ate them until I had kids. I’m pretty selfish with my calories and never wanted to use them on what seemed like just a filler food to me. Then we had Matteo and Chelsea started making these delicious banana pancakes for him when he first started eating food. We would play the song Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson and eat them together as a family. 

Now they are my thing. I make them at least once a week. Whenever we have two ripe bananas I say, Hey Matteo, who is now four, want some banana pancakes? He gets excited and  says, YES!

I sneak in a handful of frozen spinach so there is not only a fruit, but a veggie involved. The pancake mix we use is gluten free and has 20 g of protein per serving. Plus the protein from the egg. I’d say that’s a pretty healthy pancake. They are also filling and give a sustained energy throughout the morning.

A note on the frozen spinach. We take a bag of organic spinach and freeze it for smoothies. Here is a life hack… if you put it in your hands and crush it, it shatters like you just finely chopped it. This makes it easy to add to dishes you are cooking without any prep work.

It’s an ongoing challenge for us to get Matteo to eat enough food. When he doesn’t eat enough, like the rest of us, his mood changes. He starts to act in ways we don’t like. So we do our best to help mitigate this by finding things that he enjoys eating, that are also good for him nutritionally. This isn’t necessarily easy, but it is very important to us, so we look for foods that meet this criteria.

Sure I could give him pasta and bread like he wants, like every kid wants, but I want him to eat vegetables and proteins, so that he can grow and develop into his full potential. I imagine this is a challenge for many parents. Therefore this is a recipe every parent should have in their arsenal. 

They also make for a healthy snack to take with you on the run.

Chelsea teaches zoom yoga from our home in the mornings on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. So on those days, I need to get the boys out of the house. Usually we go on a morning bike ride. Me riding Owen in the front of my beach cruiser and Matteo, who just learned to ride his bike during quarantine, riding on his bike.
Owen Loves them too, but it kinda looks like he’s pooping in this picture.

I’ll always remember the first time Matteo made it on his bike all the way down to the Bay Club in Redondo Beach. Which is about 5 miles South from where we live.

We were on the bike strand coming home and could see the Manhattan Beach pier coming up ahead of us. We still had about 2 miles left to go and I knew Matteo was going to run out of gas soon. He had been high on adrenaline for having made it that far for the first time on his bike. We were celebrating as we were riding back. He was so proud of himself and me of him, but I knew reality was about to set in. 

All of a sudden he says, “Daddy, I can’t make it any further”

In my head I’m thinking, you’ve got no choice buddy. Mommy is teaching a yoga class right now and there is no one else who can come get us. This was during quarantine, so we couldn’t just hop in an uber or taxi like the old days. Luckily we had eaten pancakes that morning and I brought a couple of the leftovers with me. So I said, hey buddy let’s stop here for a minute and have one of these pancakes.

He ate two of them, Owen ate one and we were on our way again. The break and the pancakes gave him all the energy he needed to get back on his bike and ride it all the way home.

This past weekend, Matteo and I went on a camping trip, just the two of us. I had a couple of ripe bananas and I knew he was going to need sustained energy for our day outside. I measured out a 1/2 cup of the pancake mix and put it in a zip lock bag. I also brought 5 eggs. 1 for the pancake batter and 2 for each of us. Along with 3 slices of bacon. Like his mom, Matteo is a vegetarian who enjoys bacon.

The food part of camping is one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. I love being able to make food outside and then eat it surrounded by nature. Once I book a campsite, all my thoughts go to what are we going to make and eat. 

For breakfast it was obvious…Banana pancakes, bacon and eggs. 

Banana Pancakes Recipe

1/2 cup Flap Jacked gluten free pancake mix

2 ripe bananas

1 egg

1 handful frozen spinach

dash of vanilla (optional)

Directions:

Mash up bananas with a fork. Crush up a handful of frozen spinach (optional) and mix together. Sometimes I add a dash of vanilla. 

Add 1/2 c flap jacked mix and one egg and mix until ingredients are combined.

Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add coconut oil to grill pan or skillet on medium heat

Pour in mixture making the size pancakes you desire. Flip when they start to bubble on top and the bottom slides easily. 

Give them a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Following a Dream: Family Road Trip – Part 1 Preparation

We just returned home after driving 4,000 miles in 45 days covering the Pacific Northwest with our family of 4 living out of our Toyota Highlander.

The idea for the trip came from a dream Chelsea had last year when we were in Hawaii.

Last June, I took an extra month of paternity leave when Owen was about 4 months old and we exchanged homes with some friends that also had two little boys and live in Maui, Hawaii. One night, after putting the boys to bed,  Chelsea and I were sitting out on the Lanai (deck) and she said, I’ve been dying all day to tell you about this dream I had last night.

In her dream, I had quit my job and we got in an RV and drove up the coast of California, through Oregon and into Washington. Her dream was very detailed even to the point of the storage bins that we used to organize our things.

That night, we had a long and inspiring conversation about it and agreed that next July I would quit my secure job that was paying our bills and we would borrow her parents RV and do the trip.

Because, why not? You only live once and our kids will only be young and not in school for a few more years. We knew it would be an amazing adventure that we would remember for the rest of our lives.

In addition to having an epic adventure with our family, our underlying purpose was to try and find a new place to live. We absolutely love where we live in Manhattan Beach, but it had become too expensive for us to live here. When you can’t afford to shop in the stores or eat in the restaurants in the town you live in, you need to either move or make more money. We’ve tried for a long time to make more money and that hasn’t happened, so maybe we should move.

Then we came home from Hawaii and the buzz about it wore off as we settled back into our lives. Some nights we would look on Zillow at different homes in various places around the country. Ultimately, we decided that we really do love where we live, so let’s just keep living here as long as we can. When the time is right for us to move, we will know it and move then.

Life continued and our trip got put on hold indefinitely.  My sister in law Heather said, “why would you move from the community that you love so much just to save money”. We were like, yeah, that makes sense, we have always been taken care of here and our bills are paid, so let’s just stay. Yes it’s expensive, but it’s amazing and our life here is just too good to leave.

Well, as life happens, I was fired from my “secure” job a week before Christmas and a couple of months later, the pandemic happened.

One afternoon during the quarantine, we were on a family walk around the neighborhood and Chelsea said, “Remember the dream I had in Maui?” I said, “Of course”, she said, “let’s put it back on the table”. I said “Why not?! There is no better time than right now”.

After posting on Instagram that we were looking for someone to sublease our place,  a friend of a friend decided to rent our place for the month of July. We took that as a sign to go for it.

We spent the next few weeks planning out our route. Normally we would have just planned for the first few days and been open to where we felt led. We are big on “going with the flow” However, because of the pandemic and so many places being closed, we planned out our trip in detail covering 28 of the 31 nights in July.

A combination of camping spots and hotels taking us all the way up to Portland and back. Visiting all of the various places along the way that friends had told us about. Places that we may want to someday live in, as well as visiting a few epic spots like the Redwoods and Crater Lake.

The original plan was to take an RV, but after talking to Chelsea’s mom, who has one, we decided not to take it. Way too much work if you’ve never driven one. Also, we wanted to be able to explore the various places we went to and felt like we wanted our car, because it would be much easier to get around in.

We then talked about pulling a trailer, but that proved to be too expensive and also hard to drive. We even tried to rent one from U-haul and you could only have it for 14 days, so that wasn’t going to work. We looked into adding roof racks, but that turned out to not be an option as well. Eventually we settled on packing the car with what we needed and just using a soft sided roof top carrier for all of our camping stuff.

Downscaling from an RV to a Toyota Highlander with a roof top carrier wouldn’t have been a big deal with just the two of us, but with a four year old and a one year old, it’s a little bigger of deal as you can imagine.

What was it going to be like, the 4 of us in a confined space (tent, car or hotel room) all day every day for 4 straight weeks. We had just spent the last few months in quarantine together and still liked each other, so we were confident/hopeful we could do it.

What was it going to be like in the outside world with covid 19 and protests and places potentially being shut down. They had just announced they were going to close the beach where we live for the 4th of July weekend. What if they closed a campsite we had reserved or what if they made everyone quarantine at home again and we couldn’t go back home, because someone else was staying there…

Well, we were about to find out.

On July 1st, we put all of our camping stuff in the roof top carrier and all of our clothes and other essentials organized neatly by Chelsea, in different sized bins in the trunk and hit the road.

 

The Most Delicious Curry Apple Turkey Burgers

My sister in law Krystal is one of the best “home chefs” that I know and she came up with this turkey burger recipe and shared it with us when she was visiting last year and we have been making them every single week since.

My wife Chelsea has been mostly vegetarian her whole life until she became pregnant with Matteo 5 years ago. She had always said she would listen to her body if she ever got pregnant and follow whatever cravings she had.  We began to add protein into our diets. Turkey meat seemed to be the best option for us and so we would have it once a week and try it in different forms, Meatloaf, Shepards Pie, Lettuce Cups and of course the most obvious choice for ground turkey… burgers. We rarely had them though because they always came out dry and bland and we had to load them up with sauces.

Well, not these, Chelsea loves them.  Matteo (4), who has a very refined palate for someone his age loves them and even our 1 year old Owen loves them. I have tried so many different variations of a turkey burger in my quest to eat healthy delicious food and most of them end up being dry and tasteless. However, these are unlike any I’ve had before. They are full of flavor, moist and delicious.

I cooked these for my men’s retreat back in March.  We cook them whenever we have friends over and this past weekend, we went up to Big Bear and stayed with some friends and made them and they asked for the recipe.

There is a lot to the recipe, which makes them so good. So when my friend Tyler reached out to me asking for it I decided I would share it on my blog so anyone can have access to it and try it out for themselves. 

The secret to them is the unique flavor. The curry and apple go so well together that I want to experiment with that combination in other dishes. If you come up with anything good, let me know.

What you will need…

1 pound Turkey meat 93% Lean. I get the organic one from Trader Joes
1 Apple
1 small or 1/2 onion
1 slice gluten free bread. (Chelsea is gluten free)
1 egg
1 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt

Directions

Toast bread and dice onion and cook it in butter or olive oil until lightly browned. Dice up the apple and toast into small pieces. While the onions are cooling, mix turkey meat and spices together. Add onions, bread, apple and egg to the mixture and form into patties.  Then  cook  until  done  on  a grill,  skillet,  or  grill  pan  like  below.
I find that this amount makes 8 good size burgers or 14 sliders. We recently had some non gluten free Hawaiian rolls and the sliders worked perfectly.

We hardly ever have them with buns because they are so good by themselves. Sometimes they go over a salad or sometimes just on it’s own with either Sweet Potato Fries or wedge cut Gold Potatoes and either Asparagus or Green Beans for the veggie.

We love these potatoes too and they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside when you do this secret trick I read about… Cut them and soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Then let them dry before adding the oil and spices. We coat ours in avocado oil because it has a higher cooking temperature than olive oil.  For spices, we absolutely love the Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning and also add some Rosemary and Thyme from our garden.

Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes turning once or if you really want the best result, 425 for 15 minutes and then turn it down to 375 for 15 minutes. 

Here they are pairing with a Fennel, Arugula, Orange Salad and Carrot, Ginger soup

I’d love to hear what you think of these and what you ended up pairing them with. Enjoy friends…

The Love Curry

Post Curry Bliss

Our whole family loves curry. Which is interesting because I never had it growing up. My mom and grandmother were pretty traditional “Southern” cooks. So everything had lots of butter and was very protein and carb focused. I ate this way or my own variation of it until I found the yoga path. Then I began to focus more on the vegetables and less on the meat and carbs. Chelsea and I have been making curry since we first met 10 years ago. She had just moved here from Hawaii and had this cookbook from a Vegan chef named Todd and we have used his recipe as a base all these years. It is the one thing we have consistently eaten every week or two since we’ve been together. Now both our boys, Matteo (4) and Owen (1) eat and love it too.

Many cultures and traditions have a variation of curry, but not really America. So when I introduced my parents to it, they hadn’t had anything like it before. We traveled a lot as a family growing up, so we sampled a lot of different delicacies from our travels. However, most of our trips were within the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Fun fact, I have been to every state except Alaska and Montana. Although there are many options for curry in North America, when we would travel we usually ate at the places known for having a good steak or maybe ribs and I didn’t see curry on too many of those menus. Even though I’ve been to nearly every country in Europe, I haven’t really heard of a German curry or an English curry or even an Italian curry.  I’ve found that most people (myself included) don’t travel outside of their culinary comfort zones.

Nowadays I sample different curries whenever I have the chance. I love curries from Thailand, India, Africa and Japan, but the one I make at home is almost always the same, because it is so consistently delicious and everyone I have served it to seems to love it. So I call it the Love Curry. According to Chef Todd’s recipe it’s an Indian vegetable curry.

The reason I call it the Love Curry, is that whenever we have a friend or a family that we know that is going through a challenging time, we make a big batch and eat some our selves and give some to the family in need. A lot of times its a family who just had a baby, but this last time it was a family who had someone in the hospital for a few weeks and he was just coming home. So Chelsea offered to make them dinner. As soon as she told me I said, let’s make curry!

It’s easy to make, it just takes a lot of prep, which I love. When I’m chopping the vegetables, I think about who I’m making it for, even if it’s just Chelsea and the boys and I put love into it. Now that may sound strange to some of you and it would have to me back in the day, but as I’ve found a love for cooking and talked to some of the most amazing chefs and watched chefs on cooking shows, I hear it all the time. The best chefs in the world talk about putting love into their food. I truly believe you can taste the difference between food that was made with love, versus food that wasn’t.

I wanted to share the recipe here so anyone who knows someone or a family in need or maybe a nurse or single mom, could make them some Love curry and enjoy some themselves. Or maybe you just want to show some love to your self or your own family. Either way, here is the recipe.

I usually make a lot of it, so I would cook it in a Dutch oven or the biggest pot you have. I prep all the vegetables first, because I think it makes it easier when putting it all together. 

You will need Coconut oil, coconut milk, salt, curry powder, turmeric, ginger, onion, carrots, sweet potato, potato, butternut squash, cauliflower, green beans, peas and cashews. 

First, heat the coconut oil in the pot and add the onions, then the carrots.

Then add the potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash,  and grate the ginger. 

Next, add the coconut milk and spices including salt. Cover and cook these vegetables for about 20 minutes until soft. 

Finally add the cauliflower, peas and green beans and let it all simmer together. 45 minutes is ideal, but it can be done in 30. The longer the better in our opinion, so all the flavors can meld together. At the very end, right before I serve it I add cashews. This gives it a perfect little crunch. 

So you’re getting 7 or 8 vegetables and it’s healthy, filling and delicious. We have it over either quinoa or basmati rice. It’s also great the next day as leftovers.

From our family to yours. Enjoy!

Dad’s Brussels

Tuesday night is Dad’s night. Chelsea teaches a prenatal yoga class and doesn’t get home until after I’ve put Matteo to bed. So once she leaves for class, it’s Dad’s night. After walking around the neighborhood looking at all the Holiday lights, we came home and cooked dinner together.

I love food and cooking and I want my son to appreciate it too. I have made it a point through his life so far (2 years 9 months) to expose him to all aspects of food. From growing and buying it to cooking and eating it. My hope is that he will understand how eating a healthy well balanced diet can positively impact his life. This method has worked pretty well so far as he is an adventurous eater, who loves fruits and vegetables. Tonight he ate green beans, roasted potatoes, chicken and brussels sprouts.

When he eats a protein, I say, “this will make you strong”. When he eats a vegetable, I say, “this will keep you happy and healthy”, when he eats fruit I say, “this will give you energy”. The carbs are never a problem for most kids. Getting young kids to eat rice, pasta or bread doesn’t really seem to be an issue for most parents. It’s the vegetables that are the most important for mental and physical development, but also the most challenging to get kids and even some adults to eat.

Matteo and Aven checking out the broccoli for bugs

Involving Matteo in the growing, harvesting and cooking of vegetables has really helped cultivate his love of vegetables and food in general.

Back to the brussels. They have been a chef/foodie thing for the last several years as it seems like just about every restaurant I go to has their own riff on this vegetable that when I was a kid, no one really ate.

I make it a point to order them as a side whenever they are offered. They are all a little different and I kind of like them all. My ideal brussels sprout side dish has a crunch from a toasted nut, a sweetness from a grape or berry and then the charred crispy vegetable, all of this married together with a sweet and tangy sauce.

Trying to perfect my homemade brussels sprouts to combine my favorite aspects of all those that I’ve had out and about has been a labor of love for the last several years. I’ve tested out different ways to cook them.  From complex: steaming, pan frying and baking, to simple: baking at high heat. I feel like the other night I had a major breakthrough and wanted to share it with anyone else who enjoys these mini cabbages as much as I do.

First, I cranked the oven to 425 and prepped the brussels by trimming the ends, cutting them in half and rinsing them in the colander. Then I tossed them in olive oil with some salt and pepper and placed them flat side down on the baking sheet.

Brussels and Potatoes

I also cut potatoes into 1/2″ wedges and tossed them in olive oil with salt and pepper as well and put them on the same sheet. After 20 minutes, I flipped the potatoes and  tossed the brussels around. Lately I have been adding chopped walnuts and cut up grapes, but since I didn’t have any, I added some of trader joes omega mix, which has dried cranberries, walnuts and pumpkin seeds and that turned out great.

After 10 more minutes, about 30 minutes total (checking because ovens vary) I took out the brussels and put them in a bowl. Then, I added honey and balsamic vinegar to the bowl and tossed everything together. I shook the potatoes around and placed them back in the oven for a few more minutes until they were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

In the past, I added balsamic vinegar and sugar while pan frying, but most of the time, while they would be tasty, they would be a little bit soggy. I found adding the honey and balsamic in the end is the way to go. They get absorbed into the brussels while they are hot. Finally I had something that was “blog worthy” because it was delicious AND super easy to make…

I steamed the green beans and then tossed with a little butter, salt and pepper. For the chicken sausages I cut them into little circles and pan fried them according to the package directions with a little olive oil. If you’re not into chicken sausages, I also make the same dish with salmon and it goes really well.

Matteo and I both enjoyed our dinner and ate everything on our plate. I came out from putting him to bed and Chelsea had come home and devoured her plate that we left for her and she said “that was awesome, I really loved it” and she doesn’t just throw out compliments. If she is saying it’s legit, then it truly is. It was an easy dinner to make and I got everything Organic from Trader Joes. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Recipe for Brussels Sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts, olive oil, kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup crunched up walnuts
  • 1/4 cup grapes sliced in quarters

Heat oven to 425°F.  Meanwhile, trim the bottoms from the sprouts and cut each one in half through the stem. Add olive oil and salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange them cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.

Roast, for 15-20 minutes, then add walnuts and grapes or TJ’s omega mix and continue to roast until the leaves are dark brown and crisp and the undersides of the sprouts are browned, 25 to 30 minutes total. Take them out and put in a bowl and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Yum.

Organic Baked Thai Curry Chicken Dinner with Coconut Rice and Veggies

Home Grown

Organic Baked Thai Curry Chicken Dinner with Coconut Rice and Veggies

Dinner was ready in 35 minutes with very little prep.

While my wife Chelsea and I  cook and eat healthy and what I think are delicious meals on most nights, we’ve grown tired of the same old recipes. So tonight we decided to try something totally different and it was such a success and so easy to make that I decided to write my first blog post in nearly 3 years because I wanted to share it.

For my vegetarian friends, you can try it with tofu. We are going to do that next week and I will let you know how that turns out.

First, Chelsea searched yummly and found this   https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Baked-Thai-Coconut-Curry-Chicken-Breasts-932046#directions from Alejandra

We already had some red Thai chili paste, fresh ginger and garlic, cilantro from our garden and a couple of cans of light coconut milk. I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some organic chicken breasts on my way home from work.

Over the last two years of our son Matteo eating solid food, we have made a conscious effort to involve him in the meal preparation process. Everything from shopping or growing the food, to prepping and cooking it. I know it has made a huge impact on his eating habits. He is a very healthy eater and will try just about anything we make. He doesn’t necessarily like everything, but he will at least try it.

Ingredients for tonights dinner

  • 3-4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts (not cutlets)
  • 2 cans (14oz) light coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 inch fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (trim ends)
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Rice
  • Veggies (We did broccoli) I’ll try cauliflower next time

Directions for baking chicken

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place chicken breasts in a baking dish seasoning with salt and pepper
  • In a blender or I used a magic bullet, combine remaining ingredients (coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, garlic cloves and cilantro)
  • Puree until smooth
  • Pour over chicken (Matteo did this part)
  • Bake for 30 minutes in oven
  • Turn on broiler and broil for 5-7 minutes until crispy and a little charred on top

While chicken is cooking, rinse one cup of rice and add to a pot with a 14oz can of light coconut milk. Cook rice until done. One cup of rice with one can of coconut milk is the perfect amount of liquid to make delicious tasting rice. I learned this from my brother when we were on a family trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago and it has been my favorite way to enjoy basmati rice ever since.

We steamed broccoli, because it’s easy and we all love it. We grow broccoli in our garden. I think this is why Matteo likes it so much. He helps us plant and water it and then harvest it when it’s grown and I’m sure this helps him appreciate it even more. Next time I do this dish, I will probably also add cauliflower and maybe zucchini.

When everything was cooked, we put the rice in a large bowl, added the chicken and broccoli and then poured some of the cooked mixture over everything. We blessed our food with love and gratitude an thanked the chickens that gave their lives for us to enjoy a yummy dinner. It was delicious and we ate it all up.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Namaste

 

 

The Organic Baby

IMG_3268

Anytime in the next day or so, my wife, Chelsea is going to go into labor and if all goes according to plan, we will have a baby, in our home, with no drugs or painkillers, completely naturally. Something I never even imagined a few years ago, before I met her.

I didn’t even think I would have children, much less try to have one at home. I was in my 40’s, with no kids and had come to terms with the fact that it probably wouldn’t happen for me and I would just be an awesome uncle to my younger brother’s 4 children and felt blessed to have them in my life.

Funny enough, shortly after I surrendered to this fact, I met Chelsea. We became friends, then lovers and I knew for the first time in my life, I wanted to have a family of my own with her. We were married a few years later and began praying every day that we would be blessed with a baby, naturally, with no stress.

In addition to being an amazing prenatal yoga teacher, Chelsea is also a certified birth doula (birth coach) and she leads childbirth education classes where she teaches women the tools they need to have a natural birth. So she is very passionate about the natural birthing process and was born at home herself. After assisting in mostly hospital births, we decided that we would rather delivery our baby in the safety and comfort of our own home also. Before she was even pregnant, we told our family about our plans and my niece Honey said, “so you’re going to have an organic baby?” I thought about that and said, you know what? that’s a great idea. I wonder if we could actually do that.

Less than a month after my 45th birthday in May, we went to Turkey, where I was IMG_3507officiating our friends wedding. Chelsea said, “I want to get pregnant in Turkey.” I said, “I do too!” We stepped up our prayer requests in hopes of it happening then.

 

About a month later, I came home on the morning of the 4th of July after an early morning bike ride to watch the Ironman in Hermosa Beach and caught her in the guest room with a weird look on her face. I said, “what are you doing?” She said, “Am I reading this right?” as she handed me a pregnancy test. There was a giant + in the spot where it said yes you are indeed pregnant. I looked at her with my jaw dropped open and she said, “There goes your freedom.” We laughed.  But were serious at the same time, things were about to change in a major way. After 45 years of being the most important person in my life, I was now #2 and soon to be #3. My instincts to take care of Chelsea during these next 9 months took over. I knew that her water intake and food intake were of paramount importance for the proper development of our child. Let’s eat everything organic and see if that makes a difference. If we’re going to have an “organic baby” let’s go all the way and eat an “organic baby diet”.

I am a big believer in the importance of organic foods and eating lots of fruits and veggies. In addition to that, staying away from processed foods. I’m on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization GrowingGreat, which teaches science-based garden and nutritional education to elementary school children and is now expanding their programs to reach middle and high schoolers as well. So eating healthy is a passion of mine. I decided that I would do my best to make sure Chelsea ate as much organic, locally grown, seasonal produce as possible. We normally eat like this, but we now had more motivation to be even more mindful of what she was putting into her body. Since a growing baby is so small, things matter that much more.

So for the past 9 months now we have created several delicious, healthy and easy to make meals that are nutritious and satisfying to Mommy and Baby and even Daddy. I have included our favorites below. There is a meal for each night of the week, with one night set aside to go out to dinner. Even though we both love to cook, it’s nice to go out to eat and have someone else do the cooking. Whether its dinner with friends or out to eat Simmzy’s (our favorite local spot). It’s the one night we let go of the strictness of everything having to be organic. We do our best, but some things you just can’t control. So we let it go and just enjoy.

Chelsea has been a vegetarian for most of her life, but she said she would be open to eating meat during her pregnancy if she felt like her body craved it. Turns out, this baby is a meat eater. From her early cravings for chicken wings and breakfast sausages to this morning when she said “I want some bacon”, Chelsea has indulged in turkey, chicken and pork. However, I made sure of two very important things when it came to her meat intake. #1 The meat had to be consciously raised. Meaning it had to be organic, grass fed, free range and therefore, free of hormones and antibiotics. #2 We blessed the food before eating it and thanked the animal for giving its life so that we and our baby could enjoy the protein that it provided. This made us feel better and enjoy the food more.

There are so many unknowns in a pregnancy and things that are out of your control. However, you can control both what you put into your body to nourish it and your growing baby and you can also control your thoughts. It’s easy for fear to creep in. When you become pregnant it seems like everyone wants to tell you either their birth story or an exceptional tale that someone they know went through. This seems to be especially true with a home birth. Some people will tell you their fears as they question the sanity of what you are doing or the negative stories that they have heard along the way. It is important to not allow their fears or the worst case scenario to dominate your thoughts. Chelsea and I both have our own ways of dealing with this.

We both meditate every day. For me, the first thing I do when I wake up, is to go to my IMG_3638meditation spot. We have a little loft (above the nursery) in our house and I go there and just sit. I sit quietly and breath and just allow my thougths to come and go. Usually after a few minutes, they dissipate. Then I say a short prayer and go on with my day. Chelsea has her own space that she goes to meditate. She does a Chakra meditation each morning and plays her harmonium as the sunlight beams in from the window above where she sits. I know in my heart that the meditation practice has helped us both keep fear at bay and trust in the process.

 

Another thing that has really helped Chelsea is her prenatal yoga classes. She teaches prenatal yoga three times a week and performs the class with her students while teaching. She has prenatal classes that can be found at Spread Yoga Love.

So what have been the results of her “Organic Baby Diet”… Well, let me tell you from my perspective. It has been amazing! She is rocking it. She has plenty of energy and has been happy and vibrant this whole pregnancy. We even hiked the Napali Coast when she was 30 weeks pregnant!

In general, Chelsea is very verbal about how she feels. I always know if she is too hot or too cold or if her back hurts or if she is generally uncomfortable, tired or annoyed. Amazingly enough, she has rarely complained this whole pregnancy. She was tired during the first trimester, which is normal, and she was only nauseous when she didn’t eat anything. Otherwise, she has had plenty of energy and been able to get lots of sleep. In fact, we moved during this pregnancy to a new home and she had everything organized and packed up and then unpacked and re-organized into our new home with the greatest efficiency I have ever seen and I’ve moved over 20 times in my life.

One night a few weeks ago, she was feeling uncomfortable in bed and said, “I guess this is the time in your pregnancy where I won’t sleep very well”, but it only lasted one night. I can count on one hand the number of poor nights sleep she has had during her pregnancy.

She continues to comment on how good she feels. Throughout her pregnancy, she has said that she feels great both physically and mentally. Our midwife seems very pleased and has continually said that everything looks great.

So something is working. As it is with most things, there are several contributing factors. The prenatal yoga, her food intake and our love for each other and this baby have all had a positive impact. YogaLoveFood. The combination that helps with everything.

Here is Chelsea’s typical day eating The Organic Baby Diet.

Warm water with lemon to start the day – This is great for the body’s digestive system.

Smoothie in the morning with…

  • Coconut water (hydration, reduces swelling)
  • Almond milk (calcium)
  • Spinach (Iron, Vitamin A)
  • Frozen fruit
  • Hemp seeds (protein)
  • Chia seeds (hydration)
  • Dried oats (fiber plus keeps you full for longer)
  • 1/2 avocado (healthy fat)
  • Sunflower seed butter (Protein)

Since Chelsea doesn’t drink any dairy from cows, she needed calcium from other sources. Almond milk was the main one. Yogurt too. We found creative ways to use the almond milk. In addition to the smoothie, we ate cereal and oatmeal and added hemp and chia seeds as well as many nuts for healthy fats and proteins. Strawberries, blueberries and banana as well for some fruits with all of their nutritional content. Be careful with fruit to not have too much. The body craves it, but too much sugar can lead to other issues like gestational diabetes. So be mindful of how much fruit you eat but, definitely eat fruit.

Eggs provide good protein and she has craved them nearly every day in some form or another. Hard boiled has been her favorite, however today we had a curried egg salad sandwich. Oatmeal has also been a breakfast favorite in addition to cereal and yogurt. Along with these, she will usually have toast with a nut butter and hemp seeds for additional protein.

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Chelsea noticed that small snacks throughout the day, every 2-3 hours helped keep nausea at bay and from what I’ve read on the subject, better for mom and baby. Our doula showed us a picture that shows what happens to all of the internal organs as the baby grows. There isn’t much space for the internal organs, so you have to pee a lot and can’t fit as much into your stomach, but need to eat more because of the nutritional needs of the baby. By eating every few hours, your body has time to process the food and give the baby what it needs. Babies are small and growing rapidly. So feeding yourself with nutritious foods every few hours is feeding the baby, nutritious foods every few hours. Which if you think about it, is how often they usually eat when they are born.

Healthy Snacks

  • Hard boiled eggs (protein)
  • Dried fruit and nuts (apricots for iron) (Walnuts for healthy fats)
  • Apples with almond or peanut butter
  • Carrots, celery and cucumbers with hummus
  • Chips and guacamole (healthy fats from the avocado)
  • Yogurt with hemp and chia seeds

Being someone who grew up a vegetarian and rarely had dairy, she had never experienced a grilled cheese sandwich. Well, for some reason, one day she was craving one, so she had one and fell in love. It became almost a daily occurrence for her. I was slightly worried because I wouldn’t condone eating one every day, no matter how delicious they are! However, I knew the calcium and proteins that the cheese had are good for her and our baby, so I just made sure she had good organic cheese, from Wisconsin of course.

Dinners

The great thing about these meals is that they use a lot of the same ingredients. So these delicious, healthy, organic dinners can all be made on a budget and the ingredients are easy to find. All ingredients are organic unless otherwise noted.

  • Red lentils
  • quinoa
  • chicken or veggie stock
  • sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • onions, garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli.

Cans – Chickpeas, diced tomatoes, coconut milk

Gluten free pasta noodles. Pasta sauce. Cheese if desired.

Here are 6 dinners that can be made from all of the above ingredients, except for the pizzas which you will need to buy crusts or make them.

Red Lentil Soup

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Recipe

  • Chop onions, carrots, celery, zucchini and add to a pot with olive oil. Sautee over medium heat about 7-10 mins
  • Rinse 1 cup of red lentils and add to pot with enough chicken or veggie stock to cover veggies and lentils
  • Add 1 Bay Leaf, Salt & Pepper, and Everyday Seasoning
  • Stir half way through and add more broth to your desired amount
  • Cook until carrots are soft and soup is thick and creamy (about 30 mins)

Butternut Squash Stew

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Recipe

  • Chop 1/2 onion and garlic, add to a pot with coconut oil. Cook over medium heat
  • Add spices – 2 t Cumin, 1/2 t Cinnamon, Salt & Pepper. Cook a few minutes
  • Chop butternut squash and add to pot with 3 cups of chicken or veggie stock
  • Add a can of chickpeas and diced tomatoes along with 1 cup of red lentils
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until butternut squash is soft
  • Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon and add red pepper flakes (Optional)
  • Stir in spinach at the end and mix it up until spinach is soft (less than a minute)

Coconut Curry

Recipe

  • Chop onion, potato, sweet potato, carrots, cauliflower
  • Cook down onions and mustard seeds in coconut oil
  • Add remaining veggies plus 1 can of organic coconut milk & 1 can of water
  • Add 2 t Curry Powder, 1 t Tumeric, 1/2 t Corriander (taste – add to liking)
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer until veggies are soft
  • Lastly add, frozen or fresh green peas
  • Serve over Quinoa or Rice (optional)

Red Lentils and Quinoa w/broccoli

Recipe

  • Rinse 1 cup of red lentils and 1 cup of quinoa
  • Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken or veggie stock to a boil
  • Add lentils and quinoa. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10-12 minutes
  • In a separate pot, steam broccoli or cauliflower
  • When lentils and quinoa are finished cooking (thick and creamy) add 2 T of ghee
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower on the side with a dash of Salt & Pepper

Pasta with Turkey and Veggies

Recipe

  • Boil spiral or elbow pasta noodles and drain
  • Sautee onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini and 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • Add Garlic Powder, Cumin, Red Chili Flakes, and a Bay Leaf (to taste)
  • In a separate pan cook ground turkey meat until browned
  • To finish toss everything together and add extra sauce if desired
  • Top with fresh spinach and shaved parmesan cheese (optional)

Homemade Pizza

Recipe (crusts purchased from Whole Foods)

  • Sautee bell peppers, onion, garlic, zucchini (anything else you like)
  • Cover pizza crust with marinara sauce (I like BBQ sauce on mine)
  • Add toppings and cheese plus spinach or kale
  • Cook for 15-20 mins

 A night out

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  • Have fun and let someone else do the work:) She’s having a kale salad with salmon. Yes, those are fries (probably not organic)

Dessert

Some studies show that eating 6 dates a day the last 4 weeks of pregnancy can lead to a shorter labor, prevent postpartum hemorrhage and reduce the need for induction.  Chelsea has noticed with her clients that have done this that they have all had shorter than average labors. So she is doing that. One of the ways we have incorporated that into her diet is through some delicious ice cream that we were able to make with our magic bullet.

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  • Ice cubes
  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut flakes
  • 2-6 dates
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • Frozen berries
  • Peanut butter

Blend it up in the magic bullet for a minute or so until it becomes nice and smooth like ice cream or gelato. So delicious.

Another way to get your dates in is to take out the pit and put a dollop of peanut butter inside and place in the freezer.

So there you have it. Our humble attempt at making an Organic Baby. Check back in a few weeks to see how the delivery went. We don’t know if it’s going to be a boy or a girl, but I’ll be sure to let you know.

Namaste ~

 

Cheers…to homemade BBQ sauce

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Let me start by saying, I LOVE Barbecue Sauce! Maybe it comes from my roots in Arkansas, or my upbringing in North Carolina, where the Southern folks love them some BBQ. But, I have always loved the sauce. There are so many different kinds too. Even different regions of the state have different flavor profiles. Some are sweeter, some more tangy , but all just a little bit different. Have you ever noticed, there is basically just one ketchup, but there are a wide variety of sauces with the title BBQ attached to them. Over the years, I would always order a side of it whenever I was at a new restaurant. As a result, I have tried hundreds over the years and my love of cooking inspired me to make my own. I have modified this recipe over the years, so sometimes it is sweeter and sometimes more tangy, but I love it and rarely do I find one out on the town or even in stores that I like better.

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The great thing is, it’s easy to make and can be made from organic ingredients , which is important to me. I look at the ingredients of many of the popular versions in stores and they have high fructose corn syrup as one of the first ingredients. None of that here, so you can slather it on whatever you want. One time Chelsea came home to her roommate eating it with rice. She said “I just wanted to eat this sauce”!

So, at the request of my friend Val, I’m sharing this recipe on here for anyone to try. Have fun with it and feel free to make modifications depending on your own preferences. This one is a little sweet, a little tangy, a little spicy and full of umami. (Which is that pleasant savory taste that helps make ketchup so satisfying) http://www.umamiinfo.com/2011/02/What-exactly-is-umami.php

For Matt’s homemade BBQ sauce 2014 edition, mix together
1 cup organic ketchup
1 cup organic brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

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The key is then to cook it down, meaning adding mixed ingredients to a skillet and cooking it on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally, especially as it begins to bubble. This will give it that stickiness that takes it to the next level for my taste buds, it’s where the umami comes out. Then after it cools a little, I put it in a glass jar and either give it away to someone I love (I’m bringing some to yoga tomorrow for you Val) or enjoy it on everything from salmon to grilled eggplant. I even use it on our home made pizzas.
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Oh yeah, the beverage… It’s a mock tail. Non alcoholic cocktail. Fun to drink and easy to make. Chelsea and our friend Laurel made some ginger syrup. I used a little of that, along with soda water. I then muddled up fresh basil from a basil plant we have next to the sink along with lemon from a tree outside, mixed it all together while the sauce cooked down. Delish!
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This is the yoga pose for today’s post. It’s called Malasana, basically a squat. Great to do when your muddling. This pose helps my low back feel better the way it stretches and builds strength. I have had two yoga teachers say that “Cultures that spend time in this position have fewer back issues” I can believe that. Since I’ve been doing it, my back feels great. Try to do it for one minute per day, followed by a forward fold, muddler not needed to perform this pose;)
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It’s like riding a bike

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Exercise is one of my 7 Steps to a Happier Life. It releases endorphins and make you feel good, but I get bored easily and have been searching for a new form of exercise to compliment yoga and surfing and skateboarding and bouldering. More on those later…It was the first thing I, like many of us, mastered after walking… Riding a bike. You know the phrase…”it’s like riding a bike” I think this means, it’s hard to figure out how to do it at first, but then, once you figure it out, you never forget how to do it. Learning a new yoga pose is the same way. That balance thing…once your mind and body work together and figure it out, you will always have that skill. Learning something new takes practice, sometimes a lot of practice. Then, when you finally “get it” the feeling is pure joy!

This is a feeling I always want more of in my life and who doesn’t? Pure Joy is where it’s at! Learning a new skill, figuring out how to do something you couldn’t do before, leads to Joy.

My mom wouldn’t let me ride a skateboard when I was a kid. She said “you can’t do that, you’ll crack your head open” She was probably right. I most likely would have. I almost did several times when learning at age 34. I had just moved to the South Bay and there is this beautiful strand that goes along the Pacific Ocean and a friend gave me a skateboard, so I gave it a try. I felt like a total clutz. I was so goofy and felt out of control, falling down several times and getting hurt, but after practicing for a little while, I figured it out and loved it. It gave me so much joy. Learning something new. Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks, it just takes practice.
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Surfing was the same. Growing up in the East, South and Midwest I learned how to play golf and ski. I can still crush it at those sports as well as tennis, football, baseball and basketball, even bowling. But I had only surfed once with my friend Todd in Florida. So teaching the brain something new with the added element of the powerful Pacific Ocean in my 30′s was interesting. I had an emergency room visit along with several other “close calls” People who didn’t surf would say, “aren’t you afraid of sharks? I’d say no, I’m afraid of the Ocean and other surfers! The waves can be treacherous if you don’t respect them. The surfboard is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands and the waves are unpredictable. The key however is to not get caught up in the fear. Fear can stop progress dead in its tracks. Fear of failure, fear of injury, fear of looking stupid. Focus on the end result…Joy, the joy you will feel when you have added a new talent to your repertoire. Rest your mind on Joy, not fear. Feel the Joy.

My forties are turning into the music decade for me. I wanted to learn the guitar for years, but never practiced, so nothing ever happened. Now I am into the ukulele. It is easier because it only has four strings instead of six and has a really nice sound. So I started taking lessons and I am committing to practicing for 15 minutes a day. That is only one percent of my day. Figure it out. Mathematically it is only 1% of a 24 hour day. I owe that to myself! I am going to give it a try. I’m still not very good, but I can already feel the joy as I learn new cords and begin to see progress. My wife has started harmonium lessons (see photo above) and it has been fun to watch her progress. I can see the joy in her spirit as she “gets it”.

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So I encourage you… Try something new. For 7 days. 15 minutes a day. Commit to doing something you want to incorporate into your life. Meditation, making a smoothie, cooking, hula hooping, practicing handstand, playing guitar, learning a new language, whatever it is. Give one percent of your day to yourself and something new and see what happens! I predict you will add a new skill to your life and create more joy while doing it. Have fun and let me know how it goes:)

Now, I’m going for a ride…
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I’m back!

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After years of writing all my random thoughts and inspirations into paper journals and after being inspired by my friends and fellow bloggers Gabby from Cause We Can Events, Jessica form Life, Love, and Yoga; and Peggy and Megan from Curry Girls Kitchen…I’ve decided to share with those who care, my thoughts and inspirations on everyday life. In the hopes that someone, somewhere, will be inspired to live a better life, be a better person, and have a positive impact on the world around them.

I will do this through the lens of Yoga, Love and Food. Three things that I am passionate about. Three things that positively impact my life. I love yoga (teaching and practicing), I love Love (making and spreading), and I love food (growing, cooking and eating). So here goes…

Namaste and Bon Appetit.

Love,
Matt