The Soup Solution

As the days until I have to return to work rapidly dwindle, it seems my to-do list just gets longer and longer.  I’m trying not to stress over it and to instead focus on enjoying these last few days where it’s just me and the little guy.
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Sigh. #maternityleave

I’m especially determined to enjoy this time coming off of last week, which was not the most fun one we’ve had.  I got sick (for the first time in, like, seven years) and my sickness coincided with a major sleep regression for Baby H.  It was a tough week, but we’ve both come out the other end alive and in one piece, and I feel like I’ve definitely earned my stripes through this motherhood rite of passage.

During that hellish week, I found myself with very few chances to eat.  This was partially due to a reduced appetite, and also to my desperate quest to catch any amount of sleep I could whenever the opportunity presented itself.  One thing that worked out amazingly well for me though was the super-simple standby of soup and crackers.

I bought this box of Imagine tomato soup a couple of months ago when I was stocking up for maternity leave, and it was perfect. Not only was it quick and easy on the tummy, but there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of soup to help you fight off bouts of the chills.
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I normally would skip over any tomato soup labeled “creamy,” but I was familiar with the brand so I decided to check the ingredients list, and what do you know? It’s vegan!
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It tastes exactly like the sugary, canned junk of my childhood but is so much more wholesome.  And don’t worry, I balanced out the healthiness of the soup by adding some crushed up Wheat Thins (speaking of sugary junk! haha) on top.
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Now off I go to play with my boy :)

Curry Saves the Day

Whew–it’s been another whirlwind couple of weeks!  One week, poor Baby H was sick with an ear infection, followed by a big growth spurt, then the week after it was time for his two-month checkup (complete with his first round of shots).  He has grown so much already and is becoming more fun, alert, and engaging every day as he learns more and more about his world.  All I can really do is try to keep up!

It isn’t always easy to take good care of myself when it feels like all of my energy is being put toward this miraculous new person.  My diet has been far less than stellar and oftentimes I forget to eat at all.  And then there are other times when the little guy FINALLY falls asleep that I am racing to fit in at least 1 or 2 of the 68094887324 things on my to-do list.

Exhibit 1:
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This is my dining room table right now.  I’m trying to sort through Baby H’s clothes, putting away the stuff that doesn’t fit him anymore (there’s a lot of it!) and organizing the stuff that does so that it’s easier and quicker to get him dressed throughout the day (and yes, he goes through multiple outfit changes daily!).

Enter last night; around 6:00, baby boy went down for (what I thought was) his pre-bedtime nap and I figured I’d finally have the time to tackle some of the clothes sorting.  That was when I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything since about noon.  So the plan changes to: eat, then sort.

Fortunately, in the fridge I had a big batch of Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry (an all-time fave from Veganomicon) that I cooked up last week when my mom was here visiting and watching the baby.  I grabbed a baggie of brown rice that I had cooked and frozen when Baby H was about 3 weeks old and stuck it in the microwave to defrost for a few minutes.

Almost immediately the cries started from upstairs.  So I went up, picked up Baby H, and rocked him for about 10 minutes to get him to go back to sleep.  Meanwhile I could hear the stupid microwave beeping every 2 minutes downstairs to remind me that my rice was done.  All I could think was, “That had better not wake him up!”

Once Baby H was back down, I went back downstairs, added the curry to the defrosted rice, and began to  heat them up.  Once it was ready, I began to eat and even started drafting a blog post.  image (22)
Except that not five minutes later the crying started again (this time sounding pretty mad, actually).   I hurriedly shoveled the last few bites of curry into my mouth and went back upstairs to pick up Baby H again.

So, the clothes are still covering the dining room table.  But at least I had dinner!

Thanks, curry.
thanks-champagne

Simple Lentil Pilaf

Even though a good deal of my last post talked about lentils, I’m talking about them again today because I actually found the time to create and cook a recipe, albeit a very simple one.  But sometimes simplicity is all you need.

Andplusalso, yay for MOAR LENTILS!!!!!1!!1!  [I am very sleep deprived.]

Simple Lentil Pilaf
This pilaf tastes great hot or cold and makes a really nice side to almost any entree.
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Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoonolive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups cooked lentils
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt (or just use garlic powder and add salt to taste)
1/8 teaspoon thyme

Directions
In a large saucepan, saute shallot and garlic in olive oil for 5-8 minutes over medium-high heat until soft and slightly browned. Add lentils, garlic salt, and thyme, and stir well. Lower heat and add rice. Stir to warm through. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I used the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s in this dish. But really, lentils are so easy and quick to cook from dry that you won’t be ceding any of your laziness cred if you cook your own to use in this dish.

Enjoy!

Blogging With Baby

Oh my goodness.  That blogging once a week goal I set a few weeks ago didn’t exactly pan out, did it?

In terms of time management, this baby business is so much harder than I expected it would be!  Turns out Baby H is a pretty clingy little guy and wants to be held almost all the time.  Now that he’s almost six weeks old, he’s becoming more aware of his surroundings and is more interested in playing, so I have increasingly more opportunities to put him down while I play with him, but he still seems to prefer to spend the majority of the time in my arms.
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I’ve discovered that he loves to be in his baby carrier, so at least once a day I try to strap that on and get some stuff done around the house.  Eating and tidying up his areas usually comes first, followed by catching up on emails (especially as we continue our search for a nanny for when I go back to work in just six short weeks), followed by trying to finish up the endless amount of thank you cards and birth announcements I still have to send out.  After that, I would probably next turn to blogging, but unfortunately, I have to consider it a victory if he sleeps long enough for me to do even one of these things.

Nevertheless, today I find myself with a few extra minutes and dying to check in with the blog world!

As you can imagine, my eating habits have been less than ideal during these whirlwind past few weeks. Sometimes I don’t even realize I haven’t made time to eat at all until I find myself absolutely ravenous while breastfeeding at 3:00 a.m. and have to make myself a quick bag of microwave popcorn just to stay upright. The majority of the time, I just eat whatever is available, quick, and *clean* (take my word on this one…trying to eat spaghetti with one hand while holding a sleeping or nursing infant in the other does not end well).

One thing I’ve been eating like they’re going out of style lately is lentil dishes.   They’re cheap, filling, and taste good warm or cold…all wins for me at the moment. Finding time to cook has been one of my biggest challenges of all, so I’ve been buying most of my food pre-made, but I did also actually make two dishes myself!

Store-bought:
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So good. Exactly what you’d expect from TJ’s.

I also got a really tasty lentil soup from a local cafe called La Provence, which has a bunch of great veg options:
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And finally, I whipped up a batch of the tried and true Veganomicon classic, Snobby Joes.
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These were a lifesaver, as I was able to scoop them up with tortilla chips using only one hand. I definitely want to make another batch ASAP.

I also made a Lentil Celery Root Soup using this recipe from Fit Pregnancy.
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To veganize, I just subbed agave nectar for the honey and left off the parmesan cheese. The soup came out pretty good–it’s pretty sweet (in fact, you could probably leave out the honey/agave entirely), and very thick. Definitely best enjoyed with some crusty bread. The recipe also made a TON so my freezer also found itself with some new additions.

I’ll be back again just as soon as I can find the time :)

Cocozia Coconut Water Review and 3-Ingredient Pina Colada Smoothie

Recently the nice people at Cocozia offered to send me some of their original organic coconut water to try, and of course I said yes!  
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Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary case of Cocozia for review purposes, I was not compensated in any other way for writing this.  All opinions are my own, and as always, I only publish reviews of products that I think my readers will actually enjoy!

To be honest, in the past I have not been a huge fan of coconut water.  The first time I tried it was after one of my half marathons, and despite knowing how super-healthy it was and how much it would help in my recovery, I was put off by the sickly-sweet flavor and watery consistency.

Turns out I still do not love the taste of coconut water straight up.  However, I came up with many other fun and delicious uses for my Cocozia!

The first, best, and most obvious use is in smoothies!  You get all of the hydrating benefits of coconut water plus a boost of sweet coconut flavor.  My favorite is this 3-Ingredient Pina Colada Smoothie.
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Ingredients
1 cup Cocozia original organic coconut water
1 frozen banana
3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks

Directions
Blend and serve!

Remember that when creating smoothies, you can add coconut water as-is (like in the recipe above), or you can freeze it in ice cube trays (a la Kathy Patalsky) so that it’ll be ready for you to drop in to any smoothie at any time.

–x–

I have also had fantastic success replacing plain water with Cocozia in recipes!

For example, I tried out Isa’s Banana Flapjacks (from Vegan Brunch) using Cocozia and ended up with the fluffiest, most delicious batch of pancakes I’ve probably ever made.
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H and I were amazed by how awesome these came out. If we really tried, we could detect the slightest hint of coconut flavor, but the main thing about these was the texture. I may never make them with regular water again!

I also subbed Cocozia for regular water in a batch of muffins I made out of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread mix (which I have veganized many a time), also with fantastic, moist, fluffy results!
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To this particular batch I also chose to add some fun stuff (dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts) to boost their nutritional and caloric value a bit (because, you know, breastfeeding). [And as a side note, these are very special muffins! They are the first thing (at 15 days post-partum) I have been in the kitchen to bake or cook since Baby H was born. It made me feel a bit like myself again.]

I definitely recommend Cocozia as a way to boost the nutrition and flavor of smoothies and baked goods, or just to enjoy as a post-workout or anytime drink (if, of course, you are someone who enjoys the taste of plain coconut water)!

It’s a Boy!!!

Some of you may have guessed from my extended recent absence that Baby H has made his debut!
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He was born the morning of January 8, 2015, weighing a sturdy 8 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long.  We have been home from the hospital a little over a week and it’s been quite a whirlwind!  He’s an amazing baby; really sweet and snuggly, and also alert and really strong!  We are quite taken with him.

I experienced some extensive blood loss following delivery and was severely anemic for a few days afterward, so I’m taking an iron supplement and have been trying to get lots of rest (the ultimate catch 22 with a newborn!) and eat as healthfully as possible.

Impossibly large bowls of oatmeal (also good for lactation!) and green smoothies have been lifesavers.
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Plus a big batch of Becky’s Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream is great for one-handed dipping :)
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Blogging is definitely still something I intend to do, albeit with somewhat less frequency as I adjust to my new life as a mother.  My goal is going to be once a week but please don’t hold it against me if it turns out to be a bit less here and there.  I do have some fun posts pre-scheduled in the next few weeks so do look out for those!

Oh and I hope to be back to reading and commenting on all of your blogs soon too! Don’t be surprised if the majority of the comments are timestamped in the wee hours of the morning…

Pre-baby Pantry Plunder, part 1

Over the past few months, I have been making gradual progress toward getting the house ready for Baby H’s arrival, which will be any day now (my actual due date is tomorrow-eek!).

Obvious important projects, such as assembling the crib, have been checked off the list:
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And I have been hard at work trying to use up/clean out older items from our freezer and pantry in order to restock them with prepared meals that we can turn to in our first few weeks as new parents.

This has been an ongoing project, and I’ve been keeping track of some of my fun (and sometimes, surprisingly delicious!) concoctions so that I can share them here.

For part 1, I’ll start with some of the packaged, brand name foods that had been taking up residence in the freezer for quite some time. All of these were simply heat-and-eat, so very easy and convenient, but nothing too creative or earth-shattering.

Gardein meatless buffalo wings:
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I had exactly three of these, most likely left over from some lazy football Sunday, most likely in the 2013 season (yeah I need to clean out my freezer more!). They still tasted awesome, but three tiny “wings” do not a meal make, so note to my future self: if you’re going to open the package, use it all in one go!

Tofurky pepperoni pizza pockets:
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I bought these months ago because my curiosity was killing me. They taste eerily similar to the Hot Pockets I used to heat up for an after school snack back in the day (so healthy, I know), and definitely benefit from the liberal addition of hot sauce.

Trader Joe’s stir fried vegetable rolls:
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These are delicious and filling and I love them. This might be one that I buy more of to restock the freezer for baby time.

Amy’s baked ziti bowl:
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As you can see from the state of the box in the photo, this one had been bashed around in the freezer for some time. It was really, really yummy but unfortunately (as seems to be the case with many such frozen entrees) rather small. You’d want to pair it with a side salad or some bread to make it a more complete meal.

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Pakoras:
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I absolutely love this tasty, spicy appetizer and tend to keep some in the freezer to serve if company should happen to come by. But, since I don’t expect to be entertaining much in the coming months, I’m using these up as well.

Stay tuned for part 2!