Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Indulgence

     I don't consider myself vegan. I consider myself on a plant based diet. Vegan focuses on the negative, someone who does not eat animal products. While a plant based diet focuses on what you can eat, everything grown from the earth! My body functions best when eating plant based, so we don't have packaged foods in our home. However, some days I like to indulge in food from my past. In these rare occasions, I eat vegan, because even though these options will be imitation, they don't contain all the hormones and saturated fat that I don't miss. I'm surprised how much I really don't miss meat. 

    I wanted a vegan hot dog! We got Light Life vegan dogs. They can be grilled so they are actually really good. We went crazy and got white flour hot dog buns. I know. Living on the wild side at our house. We never have white flour, so I was loving every bite. Topped with sauteed bell peppers and onions, delicious! I was having a really fatty craving, wanted me some tatter tots! Tatter tots rank on the top ten list of what was great about public elementary school. 

      I love getting to enjoy naughty food like this on rare occasion. Because it is vegan, I don't feel gross or fat afterwards! Love that. 

     It is a fact that it is impossible to have a bad day after waking up to this. 

What foods do you like to indulge in? I'm nursing so I'm always looking for ideas!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Powerhouse Vegan Tacos & Girl Time

   I haven't blogged about food for a while. Now that I'm nursing, I'm constantly starving, so I thought now would be a perfect time to start sharing some of my new favorite recipes. 

   These tacos are a huge lifesaver for me. I really miss fast food tacos. The problem with fast food tacos though, is they are made of chemicals and preservatives, making them a sluggish, sickening food. I came up with these tacos instead to meet my hard shell, fattening taco craving. 

   I make my hard shell tacos out of tempeh, which can be found at your health food store (Trader Joe's included) by the tofu. It's loaded with protein and fiber so it's an athletes food. Also, it's got a meaty texture to it so it's very satisfying. 

   Here are my taco toppings. Many vegans love to top their tacos with faux cheeses or tofu based sour creams, but I think those ingredients take away from the flavors of the delicious variety of veggies I top on my taco. I need fats right now 'cause I'm nursing. So olives and avocados are a must. Lettuce, tomatoes and bell peppers  also get thrown on. I could have used some cilantro today too.

   People think that vegans don't get enough protein, but actually, it's the fat content that we have to worry about. Especially vegan athletes and busy Mamas. Same thing right? Avocados, nuts and olives are healthy fats that won't stick to your thighs or hug your tummy.

   Something else I love about these tacos is that they are super easy! I finely dice a block of tempeh to mimic ground beef. Throw it in a lightly oiled pan over medium heat. Cover slightly with vegetable stock and season with taco seasoning. Use the taco season liberally as that is what gives the tempeh flavor. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add Veggie stock if getting too dry. Brown a bit. That's it! 

   I'm really craving protein right now. So even though tempeh is full of protein, I threw in a can of drained and rinsed black beans for good measure.

    I love my "taco meat" on crunchy taco shells. They would also be good on pan fried corn tortillas or in a big burrito. Yummy!

    I'm a big taco lover, so I'll be posting more favorite taco recipes.

   Yesterday we had mandatory girl day in our house. All my to-do lists got put away and I spent all day playing with the girls. First thing in the morning we made brownies. I love this recipe because it's white-flour, dairy and refined sugar-free. We also played lots of restaurant with some felt food I made them. Playing with their felt food made me want to make more. So today, when Athena woke up at the horrific hour of five a.m, and Thérèse followed by waking at six, we started researching our next felt project. Thérèse requested this ice cream cone. How incredibly cool is the waffle cone? So easy too. You can find the tutorial here.  

I have more felt projects planned! Can't wait to execute them. With allllll my free time. 

Hope y'all are getting your solid eight hours in. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

First Week with Baby

This first week has flown by! Everyday I wanted to blog, but by the time everyone was in bed, I wanted to be there with them! By the middle of the week, the lack of sleep caught up with me. Poor Daniel is the one who had to deal with my sleep deprived hostility. He told me I didn't have postpartum, he said I had the post-hate'ems. Sorry, dear. 

Monique holding her new baby sister. 
One of her first requests right out of bed in the morning.

Monique is wearing one of the first onesies 
Daniel and I bought at  Gap 
when we found out we were expecting Thérèse. 
Crazy that soon our THIRD will be wearing it as well!

We usually spend a lot of time reading, but this week, we have been reading even more than usual since that was one of the only things I could really do with them. We have a giant Dr. Seuss collection book from my cousin, and yeah, we powered through that thing in one day. 

A sweet friend gave me these nursing smocks to wear after I had the baby. I love them! While I wore them, I spent half the time loving them and the other half hating that I didn't have some for my past two home births. They are so comfortable. We just kept washing them so I could rewear them. But by day five of wearing them, Daniel told me I needed to stop pretending I was in a hospital. I hesitated, because I was trying to figure out how to explain to him that I was planning on spending the rest of my life in them. Paired with leggings would make them trendy, right?

Daniel is such a natural with newborns. While I always forget how to treat them or what we are supposed to do with them, he always picks up right where we left off. Amazing. 

First bath or "pleasure bath" as the midwife calls it. Turned out to be shear torture for her. I kept telling Daniel that it's a good thing this isn't our first kid or we would be freaking out, "Oh no! Why is she crying?! Something's wrong! She's dying!" I love not being a first time parent anymore. 

I love how baby lips and cheeks marsh mellow out when sleeping.

We gave the girls "Big Sister" gifts to congratulate them on becoming big sisters. I made them a card that told them how special being a big sister is and some of the new responsibilities it would bring. Thérèse loved it. She wanted me to read that card over and over again throughout the day. 

Notice how I have retired my post-labor nursing smock. Daniel always tells me he prefers me without make-up, never notices when my hair isn't done or cares when I forget to shave. So when the guy asks me to be a little more feminine, I'm not going to complain. Wearing my much loved nursing tank instead. 

Please note the raised eyebrows to keep the sleepy eyes open. 

Dividing the gifts. When they share, I have hope for the whole human race.
Or at least for my sanity. 

I'm super against giving videos as gifts to kids. 
But these Sign Language videos are amazing. 
They say when  kids learn sign language it opens up a whole new area of their brain
We dragged our feet with teaching Monique ASL. 
So glad we did though! 
It's nice to communicate with her without fits or tantrums.
They love being able to communicate their needs.
And even though Thérèse can talk, she still loves the videos.

I also made them a felt board.
I had a lot of fun making it. Felt is very forgiving!
It was a lot of fun getting to be crafty and sew again after so many months of homework.
I used a friend's tutorial as a guide.
I added a library, helicopter and a slide that Thérèse says the little girls broke 
because they are too big for it. Proportions may or may not be accurate. 

The girls put up their felt town like it was a 'Wizard of Oz' tornado.
Monique may not aspire to be everything her sister is, but when Thérèse is acting goofy, Monique jumps on that. 

I love this cause the girls can use their imagination.
Nice, quiet gift. 
Already planning my next sewing project!

Jesse and Bullseye. Who else did you think it was? 

Daniel did an art project with the girls.
And they started an art gallery in our hall which I love!

Newborn baby pictures! 
Soak up the youth! 

Took a great nap today and I'm ready to get back to normal life. 
No more of this recovery nonsense.
Anxious to get back in the kitchen and get moving. 
I've already started doing light yoga and swimming,
but yes...still taking it very easy.
I love having my body back and getting to enjoy my new baby! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's A Girl!

Athena Rose was born on Sunday at 12:11 p.m.
weighing 8 lb. 11 oz, 20 in long!
We are so happy to have her out and enjoy her!

Thérèse is a natural with her. She's definitely a professional big sister, warm and loving.
Monique was timid at first, but now she won't stop stroking, laughing and talking to her. 

Our new baby girl! 

My dad with his girls.

The happy sisters! 

When Monique first meet her, she wanted to kiss the baby, but she was shy to.
We'd tell her to kiss the baby and she would jump up and down with excitement, but end up shaking her head.

Thérèse waited patiently for her chance to hold the baby.
She was so excited to finally get a chance. 
This was in her p.j's right before bed. Thérèse is so gentle with her. 

We had another home birth, and while I love the home birth experience for so many reasons, I'm so glad labor is over! Saturday was my due date and we lived life like we normally would. We ran a bunch of errands and were exhausted by the end of the day. I started having contractions that evening but I really wanted to have a good night sleep. All night I had contractions ten minutes and later six minutes apart.  I'd sleep in between them. It was super miserable. I was really surprised the birth went by so fast and how calm I was, but the transition period was the worst I've had in all my deliveries. I have very difficult labors in which I have traditional contractions with back labor and terrible leg pains. The human body can only withstand a certain amount of pain but when a woman is in labor, she surpasses that limit. I certainly felt it during transition and I kept saying, I can't do Ican'tdoitIcan'tdoit. Make it stop. My midwife suggested I go into the shower to help my body relax. I stepped in the shower, immediately shut off the water, got out and let everyone know, "I think I'm crowning!" My midwife wanted me to go into the next room and deliver the baby and started telling her "no" and we had a small argument about that. But once I decided to do it, my body calmed down, much of the pain went away, and after 15 minutes of pushing our baby girl was born! And I said, "It's a girl! I knew it would be!" Daniel and I really wanted a girl! The baby has been nursing non-stop since she was born so I expect my milk to come in at any minute. So with her eating and pooping I didn't sleep much last night either. Today I laid in bed and wondered when I'd sleep all night again and starting plotting for a way to get a full night of sleep. The big question for moms is, Would you want more money or more sleep? Humm...

We love our little family of five. Three girls is so exciting to us. Right now we are teetering between enjoying all our special moments and surviving. I forgot how incredibly special newborns are. So sweet and so tiring! I'll be glad when my body has fully recovered from labor!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Build it, Plant it, Grow it, Pick it, Eat it

I love having a garden. 
Nothing compares to fresh picked produce from the ground to the plate.
I spent the first several months in our new home
complaining I didn't have a fresh basil plant.
When the time was right, Daniel made us this great garden
I wanted to share with you.

First of all, how adorable is this girl?
Sporting an outfit we found for her at a San Francisco second hand store
and a mean jean jacket that was passed down from her sister. 

We had a new fencing put in. Daniel recycled the old fence to build our garden!
We have become super green lately.
Actually, we can't decide if we are green, or just cheap.
The two walk a fine line. 
Either way, win win! 

Cynthia, an old friend of Daniel's, found out we needed dirt. 
Since they were landscaping their yard, they had lots of extra dirt laying around
and were nice enough to share it with us.
You can check out Cynthia's super cute blog here.

Here are the girls planting our new goodies from a grower at farmers market! 

Monique making faces. She kills me. 

Here is our beautiful garden after a few weeks.
Do you see that basil plant? 

We also planted parsley (that didn't last. Sad), 
a lettuce mix, beets, leek, and later zucchini that thinks it's a bunny plant. 
It won't shut up and stop making zucchinis! 
It's a real problem, guys. Nobody likes squash that much. Nobody. 

Our lettuce was the best I've had. 
Thérèse will not eat lettuce. But she ate ours!

I know you are this happy to get your picture taken first thing in the morning too. 

Dah! That lettuce is so beautiful! 
So crisp and colorful. 
Can't wait for this horrible heat to go away so we can get to planting some more! 

Daniel used the rest of the recycled fence wood to make a compost, which I love. It feels good to see all those mushroom stems, banana peels and other plant uneatables, take on a new purpose. Feels good to have less garbage too. Our earth worms found their way to our compost on their own. How cool is that?

My due date is tomorrow. I've been instructed that I can't have the baby on Friday the 13th. My brother is leaving the state for a week Sunday so I need to have the baby tomorrow or I have to wait a week for him to come back! So hard to work around people's schedules. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Comes First? Breakfast!

Today I received an email from a past reader asking what had happened to my blog. I almost died of flattery. I stop blogging back in September 2011 because I went back to school. Between my two girls and reading 100 pages every night for homework, I had to put blogging on the back burner. I've been dying to blog though! It was my intention to start blogging after I graduated last month, but instead I got caught up re-organizing/decorating our home that we moved into back in December. It was nice to finally have the time to do that!

So much has changed in our lives since the last time I blogged, and I certainly will be sharing some of the many changes in our lives. First and foremost, we are expecting baby #3! Any day now actually because our due date is July 14th! We don't know if we are having a boy or a girl. This is our first surprise! 

My 20 month year old Monique, loves cereal. The problem is, i don't like to serve packaged sugary cereals. Healthy boxed cereals that are agave sweetened are super expensive, and to top it off, Monique is allergic to nuts! So we are very limited on the healthy cereal we can serve her.

I have modified my favorite granola recipe from Vegan Family Meals so it is allergy-free and contains much less sugar. Because this granola is high in calcium, contain a low amount of natural sugar and healthy fats, this serves as a great snack. Monique gobbles it up and asks for it multiple times a day. Every time I bake this granola, I want to hit myself over the head. We go through a batch within one week. You would think that at least once I would remember to double it! To make it completely allergy free we serve it with rice milk.

Photo from Diary of a Vegan

Allergy-Free Granola Version:

Replace almond and Brazilian nuts with 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds. Use 3/4 cup sunflower seeds. 

Also, I eliminate the brown rice syrup. I think it is plenty sweet with just the maple syrup alone. If you don't have coconut oil, use canola oil instead, but I highly encourage using coconut oil because it is so beneficial. I also eliminate all the dried fruit. I don't think this granola needs anything else to sweeten it, also without the dried fruit it is much cheaper! I bake this for 20 minutes, flip the granola over so the other side can cook, and bake it for another 20 minutes. Then I let it rest for a bit before transferring it to an airtight container. I also store this in the fridge since seeds preserve better that way. 

I'm so excited to blog again, I have so many things to share! And I will keep you all updated on baby!