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    EATING CLEAN WITH RAISED REAL

    Location: the kitchen

    A few months ago I was venting to Miles about how I wished there was a deliverable “homemade” baby food service. I have home made all of my babies’ food from scratch since they started on solids. The primary reason for making all my own baby food was in trying to fill a big void in the industry for healthy, nutritious, affordable baby food options, especially for vegetarians like ourselves. I was only able to find one company that didn’t use preservatives, but literally cost so much money, it wasn’t ever an option for us.  So when Raised Real reached out to us a while back and asked if we’d like to partner together, it made perfect sense!

    Raised Real is a service that equips parents with everything they need to home-make organically sourced, PhD developed, nutritionally dense meals in under 20 minutes. One of the reasons we’ve especially loved using Raised Real is because it has so widely expanded our knowledge of compatible ingredients, and furthermore has pushed us to use ingredients we would have never thought to have chosen for our babies on our own. I of course also love the ease of being able to have perfectly portioned meals at my fingertips, yet not having to compromise quality or hours of slaving away in the kitchen.

    I can appreciate the thought and effort that is put into good branding, especially since becoming a parent. The simplicity and organization of each box is extremely appreciated and helpful, not to mention, such a confidence booster! It’s literally mindless to make the food, but you’ll feel like a gourmet chef. Raised Real puts such care into each and every box, it really goes to show just how much care is put into their recipes and even more so an extension of that, our babies’ health & well-being. And there is simply nothing more important than that.
    Not only does Raised Real provide the food, but they have a meal maker specific to their foods! It steams and blends each meal, and, my favorite part, is the extremely easy clean up! Here is Harlow waiting for his next meal. He knows when the timer dings, it’s time to eat!
    Each pre-portioned food package has a corresponding card that gives you all the details and necessary instruction in regards to that particular blend. You’ll find all the nutritional facts and specifics as to how each ingredient is working together to strengthen different parts of your baby’s anatomical development. 

    Another perk in subscribing to Raised Real are the adult friendly emails that accompany each box! For example, in this past box, they sent me an email on how to spruce up the sweet potato blend to make fluffy potato pancakes! Eek! It’s like a Pixar film, throwing in a little bit of love to humor the adults involved, and I really love that!

    It has truly amazed me just how versatile the service is. When I first started reading up on it, I wasn’t sure how friendly it would be for us long term since Harlow had already started eating foods that were less pureed and more textured, but then after receiving my first shipment I realized, not only could I feed it to Harlow, it would be functional for Luca too. The foods can be prepared three different ways: completely pureed, partially pureed, or completely unblended, and you don’t have to prepare any of the foods differently to get the consistency you need. I will usually put two of the same packs in the steamer, scoop out half for Lu, and then partially puree the remaining half for Harlow. One quick steam, two kids fed!

    And you guys, here’s the bananas in the cereal (pun intended) Raised Real includes a baby hotline that comes with your subscription. They provide you with a 24-hour number you can text whenever you need help, have questions, or just need a little encouragement on the parenting front! I don’t know about you, but I can always use a little bit of that.

    Raised Real is offering our readers an exclusive 15% off your first order for any of you who want to try it! Sign up here and enter FOREST15 at check out for 15% off! There is also no commitment so you are free to skip weeks during the month or cancel at anytime so you can remain flexible with you and your lifestyle. Parenting can be really hard, but being able to feed your little ones shouldn’t be. Also, side note, Raised Real is currently offering a free meal maker when you subscribe today, so definitely don’t miss out on that!

    Head on over to my instagram to learn about how you can enter for a chance to win a box of meals & a meal maker! You can also follow Raised Real on Instagram to follow along in all the goodness they are cooking up and spreading around!

    this post was created in partnership with Raised Real, as always, all words and opinions are my own.
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    BODY AFTER BABY: GETTING BACK TO “MYSELF”

    Location: AN INTERNAL HAPPY PLACE.

    I haven’t done a “Body After Baby” post in quite a while, and while I’m happy to announce that I’ve officially made it back to my before babies (emphasize on the “S”) weight (all the heart eyes, all the explanation points !!!). I thought I would share with you what I have found to help me maintain my new old healthy weight, and goals I have going forward. Read more

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    FEEDING MY BABIES

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    Harlow officially started eating solid foods a month ago and Luca is having a growth spurt…sooo our pantry seems to be in a constant state of “low supply.” Nothing lasts around here. I cannot seem to keep up, so I’m at the grocery store constantly. Harlow has shocked me with his appetite, and Luca’s a machine when he’s growing, plus he burns so many calories with all the energy he exerts. Miles and I have always been extremely intentional about feeding our kids, and we made the decision after Luca was born that we would raise them vegetarian. I’m vegetarian, so it came very naturally for me to want that type of lifestyle for my children, but I’m really happy Miles was just as persistent about it. Read more

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    BODY AFTER BABY: HEALTH CONCERNS, WEIGHT LOSS UPDATE & WAIST TRAINING.

    So, as promised, I  said I would take all of you along with me on this life “transformative” journey. This post may be a little lengthy because of all the information I’ve gained in just this past week. I’ll give you a little insight as to what I’ve been up to in regards to my health and well-being, and some recent discoveries I have made along the way. Let’s not “waist” (get it?!) any more time, and let’s just jump right in to the tofu & sweet potatoes (seriously, cracking myself up over here).

    Where to begin? Let’s start with the doctor appointment I recently had. I went in because I was having a major eczema breakout. I have struggled off and on with eczema since I was a little girl. For those of you don’t know what eczema is, basically it’s inflammation of the skin in red/itchy patches. It’s very random in it’s appearance, and can flare up or go away at anytime without rhyme or reason. All I can tell you is it itches so severely it will drive you absolutely crazy. It can sometimes be painful depending on it’s severity. I was having a particularly bad breakout on my left elbow crease that wouldn’t go away for the life of me. So I caved and made a doctor’s appointment, which worked out in my favor because I was due for my yearly physical. I went to see my new primary care physician who I was extremely impressed with, and she ran a slew of tests on me. The eczema seemed to be just the tip of the iceberg as we explored my health deeper, a mass of discoveries came to the table.

    She knew my eczema was bad enough to need a topical steroid cream, so she prescribed me that, and she also advised me that my eczema could be outdoor-allergy-related or stress-related. This means I can begin to try and control it environmentally as much as possible. I have a huge family history of diabetes, so she tested my sugars and diagnosed me as a pre-diabetic. Basically this means, my body isn’t metabolizing sugar very well and if nothing changes, it will inevitably turn into full-blown diabetes. My previous blood work reiterated all of this as it has been this way since 2012. I was bummed to hear that nothing had changed, but we will re-check in three months to keep on top of it. It’s scary to think your body isn’t doing what it should even when you are doing everything in your control to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I am going to research a little more into it and see if there is anything else I can do to try and reverse it. I will keep you all updated, but if you have had any experience with the matter, please comment below! All help is welcome.

    Another topic that came to the surface was my leukopenia. Leukopenia is in simplest terms, a low white blood cell count (aka WBC count). I’ve dealt with Leukopenia over the years and although it causes no real issues for me, doctors are always dumfounded by it and are constantly trying to get to the bottom of the diagnosis. I’ve had to go gluten free before to try and bring my count up, and I was even tested for leukemia at one point. Trust me, I have tried and been tested for everything. Only once has a doctor been unbothered by it, and, basically, told me my low was just my “normal.” It made sense to me. My new physician followed up with checking my folate and vitamin b12 levels which both came back normal. I’m sure she’s just as frustrated as I have been over the years trying to solve what could be causing this, although I’m really starting to lean towards the latter doctor’s opinion as it does fall into normal range whenever I am pregnant, go figure! All in all I feel great, so I’m going to continue the regime I’m on and keep cooking/eating healthy/living healthy etc.

    So, things I have been doing to lose the baby weight: I walk every day no matter what. I’ve started wearing my fitbit again to be sure I get a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. Every other day, I walk with the boys in the stroller down to the coast and back. It’s a major incline of a hill and pushing the stroller uphill always gets my heart rate going, my thighs burning, and gets me sweating profusely. It also puts both the kids to sleep, so win, win! On my off days from walking to the coast, I use the 7-min workout app I referenced in this post. Everyday I do 2 sets of 25 squats. That is my exercise regime, and I know it’s not much but until I can get a good back stock of pumped milk going, I can’t really go off to a yoga class just yet. Soon enough. Miles was out of town last week, but now that he’s back I’m going to try and schedule one day a week to go to the gym on site here for just 30 minutes–15 minutes of interval running and 15 minutes of arms or the elliptical/stair master.  I know carrying & chasing around my babies all day helps too!  Aside from exercising, I have noticed breastfeeding really helps me as well, although I lost all the baby weight with Luca and he was only breastfed a few months, so I’m not sure the extent at which it helps, but nonetheless it’s good for the body and good for the baby. It’s especially good for shrinking your uterus back to it’s pre-baby size. That I can contest to, both times around. I can devote a whole post to nursing as well, if anyone is interested.

    As far as eating habits go, I’ve been extremely mindful of what I eat and when I eat. I’ve made it a point to not eat past 7:30 p.m. & I’ve been really cutting back on gluten, dairy, and sugar. I take one day a week to “cheat,” but never go too crazy,I  just don’t worry so much about everything I’m putting in my mouth. My eating is very calculated the rest of the week. It’s almost 100% vegan, mostly gluten free, and I have been avoiding all added sugar. When I’m cooking with pasta I usually go for a quinoa pasta rather than rice pasta, and I found a local restaurant that makes a mean loaf of gluten-free bread. But when I don’t feel like driving to Solana Beach for bread, I buy Dave’s Killer bread which is an organic sprouted bread with a blend of nuts, oats, and seeds. It’s delicious and I’ve found it’s the best option for bread that contains gluten, and I like that it’s really thinly sliced. I’m going for as much color in my diet as possible and I’m going to be experimenting with new things/added routines as time goes on. I will let you know if I find a good one!

    I have awful anxiety, (you can listen to my story here), and therefore have been on medications over the last few years. One of these medications causes extreme weight gain (although for me it leveled out after I gained 20 lbs)–that may sound like a lot to many of you, and it is, especially in regards to my stature. I never worried about it so much because I knew it wasn’t something I was doing to cause it. Sure, it made me a little insecure, but it was the lesser of two evils, and I knew it was best for myself at that time. Fast forward a few years later, and I’m really “stable” at this point. We, both my doctor and I, have decided to wean me off of that particular medication. So far I’m on half the dosage and in a few days will wean completely and see how I do. I’m feeling really optimistic at this point.

    And the very last thing, that has made a big difference in the few days I’ve been using it, is a waist trainer. I know this is a debatable subject, but for me it has made a big difference in shaping my figure as I get back to my old self. I bought this one and I wear it 2-4 hours a day. I’m religious about it, and I’ve seen a big difference in my middle waist. You want to make sure to check the sizing chart they have on their site and do your own personal research. But that’s where I’ve been with everything. I hope you found this helpful, and if you have any tips, or positive affirmations, send them my way in the comment box below, Lord knows I can use all the help I can get! xx

     

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    VEGETARIAN LIVING: WHAT LUCA EATS

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    So many people have been amazed at Luca’s palate, and completely blown away that he’s never had meat. I thought I’d answer a few questions I get often in regards to our decision to raise him vegetarian, and also I’ll give you a little insight as to what he eats on a daily basis.

    Has Luca always been vegetarian?

    Yes, Miles and I made the joint decision to raise him vegetarian, and he has been since birth.

    Will Harlow be raised vegetarian as well?

    Yes! It has worked out wonderfully thus far for Luca, and we don’t see any reason to change our ways with Harlow.

    Why did you decide to raise Luca vegetarian?

    I have been a vegetarian for most of my life, and Miles eats meat very sparingly. We have a strong foundation and connection to our health and well-being and personally, meat doesn’t resinate with us. Both of our families are carnivores and so we have no judgement on anyone who doesn’t follow a vegetarian diet, it’s just what fits our family best.

    Where does Luca get his protein from?

    Plants! Beans, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, nut butters, quinoa, and grains to name a few.

    If Luca decides he wants to eat meat as he gets older, will you allow him to?

    So this is the question I get most frequently, and the answer, simply put, is yes. This is the way we see it, when Luca is old enough to truly understand the “why” behind why we don’t eat meat and he can make his own educated decision on the matter, then he can decide for himself whether or not meat is for him. We don’t eat meat for health reasons, rather than animal rights (although that’s great too). Right now, when he questions why we don’t eat it, we explain to him in simple terms the reasoning, but he’s not quite old enough to truly understand. When the day comes that he can make judgement on the matter whole-heartedly, he is free to do as he chooses.

    Is Luca vegan?

    No, we are not vegan. We indulge in eggs & cheese, but have significantly cut back our intake on both since  watching the documentary, “Forks over Knives.” For us, it was life changing, and the facts were mind-blowing. Luca has never had pure cow’s milk unless it is in another form of food, instead he has fortified rice milk.

    So what is a typical day of food like for Lu? We all get up between seven and eight a.m. Miles handles breakfast for Luca and I handle nursing Harlow. Luca typically has oatmeal, toast & eggs, or greek yogurt & fruit. We change it up based on what we have or if Luca is craving something particular (something that isn’t sweets, that is!) we’ll let him choose, but he’s a creature of habit and loves eating the same things over and over. After breakfast, Luca takes his gummy vitamins, one is a multi vitamin and the other a omega 3 vitamin (fish free, made from chia seeds).

    greek yogurt recipesFor Lunch, Miles is usually at work, so I’ll handle lunch. I have a few staples we stick to, usually a hummus and vegetable wrap, rice with tofu, seaweed, and vegetables, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread. We usually will have a side with our lunch as well, be it apples, grapes, sweet potato chips, or tomatoes. I make sure lunch is easy, but I also do my best not to rush it. We sit down at the table and take our time.

    Luca is a huge fan of “snacks.” I feel like that’s all I hear these days, “I want a snack!” So for our little snacker, we keep simple & healthy things on hand. He will usually have edamame crackers from Trader Joe’s, carrots and hummus, or a string cheese.

    And then, we have dinner. Dinner is always something different, but usually vegan–I’ll make lentil walnut tacos with vegan sour cream, avocado tacos (we love tacos!), burnt brussel sprout salad, vegan mac n’ cheese (from scratch, I cannot stand vegan store bought “cheese”), broccoli & sun dried tomato burritos, portobello mushroom “steaks,” spaghetti marinara or pretty much anything out of this cookbook, this cookbook, or this cookbook–all are excellent. If we aren’t going vegan for dinner, we’ll make something like bean and cheese burritos, or Miles made an amazing homemade pizza the other night. We’ll throw together whatever we have on hand if all else fails. Miles is good at that–not following recipes, and just making something from nothing! I love when he cooks.

    Lastly, dessert. We don’t always have dessert, in fact, it’s pretty rare that we do, but if we are going to have something sweet we try to keep it somewhat healthy. We like arctic zero ice cream, greek yogurt with granola and honey, a frozen banana, or a few pieces of dark chocolate.  And that’s what Luca eats in a day!

    Hope you found this resourceful. I, in no way claim to be an expert on diet, nutrition, or vegetarianism, but I do try my best daily to make the healthiest decisions for my family and I. With Luca being a growing boy, I try to make sure his diet is filled with vitamins and minerals, and all those good things we know he needs to grow up healthy and strong. More questions? I’m happy to answer, just leave them below.

     

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    PURPLE CARROT

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    I’m literally typing this post with a protein bar in my hand because I didn’t have time to make lunch today. People always want to know what they can bring you when they come to visit you and you’re brand new baby & food is seriously the best suggestion I can think of. Our lives were saved those first few days because of some friendly take-out or homemade meals, but the most unique gift we were sent was by a friend of mine who lives out of state. She wanted to be here to make a meal for us, but since Connecticut was a bit too far to commute, she sent us a meal service. I had never heard of Purple Carrot before, but I was so impressed with their dinners, I had to post about it. My friend knew we were vegetarian, so she figured something vegan would be safe. She was spot on and it was right up my alley. How it works is Purple Carrot sends all the ingredients pre-measured with instructions right to your doorstep. All you have to do is quick-prep and cook. I know it sounds different than a traditional meal delivery service as in you still have to cook but all the thinking is done for you, which is probably the most exhausting part of cooking–planning, shopping, making a list, checking it twice, etc. If you are too exhausted to cook, don’t worry, even your husband can do it. I’m fortunate Miles happens to be a good cook, but I know a lot of my girlfriends wouldn’t let their husbands near the stove with a ten-foot pole, so if that is your scenario, fear not. Plus, I’m a firm believer that memories are made in the kitchen. I would probably let Luca make it if it didn’t involve a prep knife and heat. Anyway, it was all super simple and we had three nights of dinners. We were sent the two person meal, but we had enough for all three of us, one night even four. Anyway, I would send Purple Carrot to anyone, vegan or not. It was delicious and we didn’t miss out on the dairy one bit.

    The first night we had a chopped salad with “buffalo cutlets” on top & finished with some homemade vegan ranch. We had some garlic naan bread on the side which really pulled the whole meal together. This was probably my favorite meal of the three.

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    Night two was Sicilian vegetable and rice gratin which was Luca’s favorite. I loved the flavors of the dish and if you add enough black pepper it’s just the perfect amount of spicy.

    SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNight three was “not your mother’s” meatloaf with roasted zucchini and a side of oregano spiced potatoes. It was comforting and so flavorful. This was the night we had my step-sister over to watch the Bachelorette premiere (let’s hear it for “bachelor nation” ha! We are JoJo fans over here!) and we were able to feed four. If you distribute the portions just right or have smaller children, you can make it work! All in all, we were so grateful to have a homemade meal, I’m sure anything would have tasted good, but I was trying to decide if this was something I would have paid for had we not been gifted it, and the conclusion I came to was yes which is why I decided to share. I know a lot of you are busy like us, and this is a great alternative to giving into your schedule and ordering in. It was healthy and if I were in a pinch a week, I would definitely order the service again. We’re trying to eliminate dairy completely from our diet, and I’d say this was the perfect “push” towards healthier habits. I’m always trying my best. Are any of you vegan? Do you have any blogs or recipes I must know about?! Share them in the comments below!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

    p.s. this post was not in conjunction with Purple Carrot. I just really liked the service and thought I would share.

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