Our New Favorite Green Smoothie and 3 Money Saving Tips

June 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

kale apple pineapple smoothie from cooking con sal

I found out my accident that my daughter loves green smoothies. It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise with the amount of veggies she eats, but still, seeing her suck down that first green smoothie was hilarious. I treat myself to a green smoothie every time I go to Whole Foods – its how I keep my sanity while grocery shopping. On this particular day, she pointed and pointed at my smoothie and I gave her a try figuring she wouldn’t like it. She drank the WHOLE thing! Didn’t leave a drop for me and cried every time I took it away. At $7 a pop, I knew we had to come up with a way to recreate these at home.

Enter our new favorite green smoothie and so simple! This smoothie is made of apple, pineapple, and kale and is absolutely delicious.

This smoothie will only run you about $1 or $2 at home depending on your produce costs. For even more cost savings, try the following:

  • Compare fresh and frozen prices and buy the cheaper. I usually buy kale fresh but recently decided to give the frozen kale a shot. It works perfectly in this smoothie and honestly might blend even better than the fresh. Not only are frozen veggies and fruits sometimes cheaper, but let’s face it, with a baby on hand they are much easier. Open the bag, drop it in, and blend. No cutting, no rinsing, no fuss!
  • Buy fresh in multiples when on sale and freeze yourself. There is always some fresh fruit on sale depending on the season. Lately its been strawberries and raspberries. I used to never buy extra until a friend suggested you could freeze these which I thought was brilliant. Just rinse, prep, and freeze.
  • Freeze fruit you can’t get to. Have you ever thrown away half a pineapple or an apple? Don’t! Just chop it up and freeze it for use in this smoothie. Same goes for bananas. I used to throw overripe bananas away if I didn’t have time to make banana bread but now I throw them in a bag and freeze them. They’re perfect to have on hand for smoothies. Just be sure to peel them first. I made that mistake once – oops!

 

Kale, Apple, & Pineapple Smoothie (aka your new favorite green smoothie!)
Makes about two small-ish smoothies perfect for you and baby to share

  • 1/2 red apple
  • 2 long slices pineapple (about 6-8 small chunks)
  • handfull of fresh or frozen kale
  • 2 cups water plus more to blend if needed

Want it sweeter? Add some more apple. Not tart enough? Add some more pineapple.

Enjoy!

 

Maple Blueberry Oatmeal

March 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I didn’t always love oatmeal. In fact, I didn’t even like it until a fee years ago. I was working 12+ hour days and had little time for anything, let alone breakfast. But as a big breakfast eater, I needed something. So I started eating those awful oatmeal packs. I say awful because they are super processed with milk and sugar. But they did help me learn to like my morning oats so I guess I can’t fault them too much.

When I started feeding my daughter I read you may have to offer a food 20x before they like it!

I’ve found this to be true. Just because she doesn’t like something doesn’t mean I don’t offer it. And this is how I felt about oatmeal. I despised my little oatmeal packages, until surprisingly I didn’t! More and more I needed and wanted my morning oats.

Nowadays I prefer steel cut oats. Oh man, if you don’t like oatmeal try steel cut. They are nutty and hearty. Here’s how I make mine:

Simmer steel cut oats with 3 parts water, 1 part almond milk and a little vanilla for about 30 min, or until done.

Recently I’ve been drizzling a little maple syrup on top which is so yummy!

People always turn to honey or sugar but real maple syrup lends a subtle deeply sweet flavor.

Top with fruit, nuts, cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a wonderful, nutritious breakfast!

Morning Rituals

March 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am not, not have I ever been, a morning person. But there’s a comfort in establishing a ritual that helps to get you going. My precious morning ritual (ok, and sometimes still is on stressful days) was to down a huge coffee and grab a bagel or some other carb. While it did give me a burst of energy, it left me dragging after just an hour or two.

These days, thanks to the advice and guidance of my health guru, my mornings go something like this:

1. Drink large glass of water
2. Take “good belly” probiotic shot
3. Drink homemade maca milk (chocolate walnut milk with maca)
4. Drink large smoothie (mostly herbs and berries)
5. Eat breakfast (usually avocado toast or oatmeal)

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When she went through this list with me I thought she was crazy – for one how was I going to fit all this in between nursing, getting the baby ready for school, and getting to work on time? But once I got the hang of it, it really wasn’t so bad.

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I make the milk on Sunday nights so it’s in the fridge ready to go for the week. I do my best to prep my smoothie bags a few days in advance so I can just throw it all in and blend. All this does require a little more time in the morning but I notice such a difference when I start my day already full of vitamins and nutrients.

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Cheers to starting the day off right!

Why Hiring a Doula is the Best Money You’ll Ever Spend

January 12, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Photo Credit: Birthing From Within

No one prepares you for the barrage of questions you’ll get as you approach the birth of your child. Will you labor in a hospital? Will you get an epidural? What do you mean you’re not getting an epidural? Are you crazy? Will you breastfeed? Will you give vaccinations? Have you read a baby sleep method book yet? Oh, wait, you’re vegan? Are you getting enough calcium????

And the list goes on… and on… and on… 

Most who ask these questions have the best intentions. But for a first-time mom-to-be, it is utterly overwhelming. 

One question I didn’t get asked enough though is whether or not I was hiring a doula. Hiring a doula is becoming all the rage and I’m glad to see that given the title of this post. However, despite its gaining popularity, not many people asked me about this. It was I who informed them about my choice to have a doula – which was usually met with wide eyes and “Oh, what’s that?” 

According to dona.org, a doula is a “trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth”. The key words for me in this statement are continuous and emotional. 

To give a bit of context, I was planning a drug-free labor, in a hospital, with a midwife. I knew my midwife was going to be very hands on throughout the labor once I arrived at the hospital – hence why I chose a midwife over a doctor – but I was concerned about the time at home. We had planned, at the recommendation of our midwife, to labor at home for as long as possible – which according to everything I’d read could be anywhere from a few to 24+ hours. The thought of my husband and I on our own through an experience so unknown as this was a bit terrifying. I thought a doula would provide us reassurance and guidance as we entered the unknown. What I didn’t know was that she was going to provide us SO very much more than that! 

Despite this concern, I really went back and forth on hiring a doula. Would I really need a doula with a midwife? Would a doula take away some of those special moments I hoped to share with my husband in the hours before my daughter’s birth? Was it a waste of money? Let’s face it, with baby bills stacking up, every cost was highly scrutinized. 

All I can say is thank goodness I went with my gut and hired a doula. It was one of the best decisions I made about my pregnancy and daughter’s birth. She was an absolute ray of light and mountain of strength through what was both a beautiful and difficult labor. I honestly do not know how we would have managed without her. 

So, why do I think a doula is the best money ever spent? 

  1. You need an advocate who’s only motivation is to serve YOU and only you. Once you enter the hospital doors it can get a bit crazy. Having someone by your side that can speak for you in the event that you can’t or maybe you just don’t want to is key. Nurses can be great support and I’ve heard many stories of nurses going above and beyond to offer not only physical but emotional support, but with so many laboring mamas assigned to them, this is hard. You need someone focused on you and you alone.
  2. Your husband also needs support. You may be asking with #1, “But wait, isn’t my husband supposed to do that?” – Yes, your husband should be your #1 advocate. Mine absolutely was. But truth is, he is about to see you in a state he’s never seen you in and that can be scary. Furthermore, labor can go on for a long time. Chances are you’ll both be exhausted and a doula can provide much needed relief offering breaks to your husband or helping out in the hours after the baby is born. Our doula remained with me while my husband ran home to let our poor dog out! 
  3. Even if you’ve hired a midwife for a hospital birth, a doula may still be needed. It is true a midwife is going to give you so much more attention than a doctor and be really hands on. But in my case, my labor progressed so quickly – I checked in at 9 cm and there was no time to call our midwife so I was assigned the OB on call. Luckily, my doula was by my side to provide the hands-on care I needed. 
  4. You need to be prepared for the unexpected. A lot can happen in labor and having someone by your side for the unexpected can be a big comfort. We thought we were going to have a pretty easy labor – like I said, I checked in at 9cm! – and while we did for the most part, there were some unforeseen complications that were pretty hard to deal with. At one point after my daughter was born, the OB told me he was going to have to take me to the operating room. It was only through my doula’s consistent care and attention (my husband was with our daughter) that I was able to remain calm and avoid being transported. Having someone by you (and your husband’s) side to help you through unforeseen complications and be an emotional support is very helpful. 
  5. Sometimes you need a cheerleader. I had a drug-free labor, something I was 100% committed to but equally terrified of. My husband and doula’s constant reassurance and motivation were key to my ability to do fulfill my wish. My doula went above and beyond and sent me motivational text messages nearly every day as labor neared – reassuring me, I could do it. Further, my husband was completely supportive and equally my cheerleader, but not everyone has a husband so supportive. From what I’ve seen it isn’t that the husband isn’t supportive – it’s that he is scared and second guessing the mom’s desires. If this is the case for you, having someone there that you know will support you 100% is key – and this will likely put your husband at ease as labor progresses. 

Thinking back to that list of questions, I think the most important one is “Will you have a doula present?”. And for the reasons listed above, I recommend a doula to every mom-to-be I talk to!

Did you have a doula? If so, what was your experience? 

 

Saying Goodbye…And Hello

January 2, 2013 § 5 Comments

Hello friends! I meant to write on New Years Eve and then again on New Years Day – I was hoping to write some encouraging words to inspire you to start a vegan challenge if you haven’t already done so. But with the emotions I was feeling, I couldn’t focus on a vegan challenge and neither day could I find the words to express what I wanted to say. So I hope you’ll bear with me here. The words are still hard to come by as I have a whole mixture of emotions saying goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. Mostly I guess I am relived…

It seems like both yesterday and forever ago that we were in that cold, too-bright waiting room at the hospital. Waiting to learn my Dad’s fate. I remember leaving and barely being able to make it through that first night. I laid in bed at my parent’s home wondering how on earth we’d manage – literally reminding myself to breathe in and out and just make it through the night. Minutes turned to hours which turned to days and before I knew it, Daddy was buried – and gone forever.

As the weeks wore on I counted the days endlessly. Day 25…Day 78…Day 123… I remember wondering how long the counting would go on for – at what point would I stop? And then, out of nowhere, I did stop.

Just as I had counted those days – I remember wondering how we’d possibly make it through our “Year of Firsts”. We had many…

My first birthday without him – and then my Mom’s and sister’s and husband’s.

Our first fourth of July BBQ without him – where he would have been manning the grill and playing host.

My parent’s wedding anniversary – what would have been their 32nd.

Mother’s Day… Father’s Day… Halloween – his favorite holiday of all… Thanksgiving.

Then there were the real tough ones. His birthday on 12/21. He would have been 62. And then of course there was Christmas.

So needless to say with all these firsts, and hard ones at that, I didn’t expect to be totally knocked out by New Years. In fact I’d been looking forward to it. I even ordered New Years cards! Something I’ve never done. I was ready for 2013. Ready to give 2012 a big kick and watch it tumble away.

But when push came to shove, saying goodbye to 2012 wasn’t so easy. Welcoming 2013 – welcoming a year in which my Dad will have never lived – never smiled, never laughed, never sat on his back patio reading his iPad – welcoming this year meant he was gone and he wasn’t coming back. I so wanted to welcome 2013 with open arms – but I just couldn’t. I really truly wanted to make resolutions and goals and be excited – to watch the ball drop with anticipation and joy. But I couldn’t. And that was alright.

I didn’t jump up and down at New Years. I reflected. I peacefully said goodbye to 2012 with a light wave and looked toward the New Year. And as if nature knew I was going to be needing a little help – today marks 28 weeks of our pregnancy. Magically it seems the 12 week countdown begins and I need to get into “game-mode” and focus on finalizing all the details to welcome my precious little girl. Knowing I’ll be a mother soon has literally lit up my world. I’m awaiting my baby girl with open arms – ready to receive her and give her my entire life. Life is funny like that. It’s totally messy, but thank goodness for the mess. It’s what keeps us going.

Thanks for bearing with me as I’ve likely shared too much over the past 8 months and possibly today. But sharing here whether anyone is reading or not has been very helpful.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013. And I will be back to hopefully inspire some of you to understake that 30 day vegan challenge! We will be starting the inspiration with…drumroll please…pancakes! Yes, pancakes so light and fluffy you may never make them with dairy or eggs again!

XO,

Vanessa

Guest Post at A Gutsy Girl

September 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

Happy Sunday! I wish I had an exciting recipe to share with you today. I do have a big project cooking through – something I hope to share here soon and one that has kept me ever so occupied! In the meantime, Sarah over at A Gutsy Girl was nice enough to ask me to participate in her “Gutsy Girl” series. Head on over and check out my guest post. She’s doing a phenomenal job with the 101 days of blogging challenge, whipping up all kinds of inspirational posts – definitely worth following along! 

 

 

 

Remembrance

August 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

I should be writing about something healthy. I should be better at keeping up with the 101 days of blogging challenge I signed up for. But truth be told, health hasn’t been top of mind the past few weeks, well not in the way of this challenge that is. More on that to come later…

Today all I can think about is my dad. I’m in Las Vegas visiting my grandmother. I was a bundle of nerves before coming here. I knew it was going to be hard to retrace the steps I so often took with my dad. We lived here for a while and I would come back and visit with him. Being in the same industry, there were always events here and sometimes we’d overlap on ones we went to. We’d go to those and tack on family time. Trips to Vegas always included a drive through Red Rock which my gram and I did today. It was bittersweet to say the least.

I love driving through Red Rock. It has to be one of my top 3 favorite things. I love feeling away from it all – escaped. It’s a place I’ve turned to over the years after hard times. I remember driving through here with my grandmother in college during a rough time. I distinctly remember how safe and free I felt. Like nothing in the world could harm me there. That’s the feeling I long for and why I return to Red Rock.

It was just February when my dad, mom, sister, and I took our last ride through here. It was after my grandfather’s funeral. Who would have ever thought nearly 90 days later we’d be at my dad’s funeral. Just craziness.

I’ve been waiting to feel my dad’s presence. Waiting for him to come to my dreams. But he hasn’t. Winding our way through the desert today, I wondered if he was looking down on us.

There’s not much purpose to this post other than to say, today is day 103 and the feeling just doesn’t seem to change. I wonder when things will be “normal”. I wonder when I won’t awake sad, missing my dad so much. I wonder when I’ll want to be in the kitchen again, when I’ll want to dream again, to be inspired. Only time will tell. I will say we get through our days better – that’s a given. But it’s a strange numbness that can’t be explained.

In the meantime, I’ll continue retracing our steps this week. I’m determined to make it back out to those mountains because one visit just isn’t enough…

(While the top two photos are taken with instagram, this one has no filter. That’s pure mother nature right there in all her stunning glory!)

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