Friday, September 19, 2014

{ Chicken Zoodle Soup }

If you only ever make one thing off my blog, make this!!!  I have found my new favorite healthy version of Chicken Noodle Soup. It's paleo, Whole30 approved, and it's EASY!

I would compare it's taste to the big batch of chicken noodle soup you can buy at Costco, you know, the ones in the refrigerated section in the back that comes with shredded rotisserie chicken and veggies all bundled up in a big plastic tupperware?

And I know what you're thinking, "But I want REAL noodles."  People!  These zucchini noodles are gonna fake your brain out like you wouldn't believe. It's true.  It's proven science that the brain can be stimulated and satisfied by replacing our unhealthy vices (like noodles) with a more healthy alternative, in this case a vegetable which contains WAY more nutritional value.

Ok, enough with the rant.  Just promise me you'll try this one and come back and tell me what you think. Deal?

CHICKEN ZOODLE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 quarts of chicken stock/broth
- garlic powder and pepper to taste
- dill weed to taste
- 2 cups of celery, chopped
- 2 cups of carrots, chopped
- 1 large zucchini or yellow squash, spiraled

DIRECTIONS:
Rinse chicken and place the chopped onion in a large soup pot.  Pour in chicken stock and season with garlic powder, pepper, and dill weed.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Chop celery and carrots.  Remove chicken and shred after the 30 minutes is up or the chicken is cooked through.  Add back in the meat and vegetables, cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.  Serve up and enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

{ Bacon Wrapped Peach Salad }

This one is so easy you might laugh that I'm even posting "directions."  This Whole30 approved dish has the perfect blend of sweet and salty and I mean, come on!  Who doesn't love bacon?  Well, besides my husband.  I know, so weird!  

I think you'll really love the delicate flavor of the peaches with the dynamic taste of bacon.  Marry them together with the balsamic vinegar and you've got a happy, healthy plate of food that you'll probably eat before you can say "More please!"

BACON WRAPPED PEACH SALAD

INGREDIENTS:
- spinach (or your favorite leafy green)
- sliced fresh peaches
- slices of bacon (sugar & nitrate free)
- balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS:
Wrap your peaches with bacon.  Grill over medium heat on each side.  Place on a bed of lettuce of your choice and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  That's it!  So easy you could cry!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

{ Watermelon-Lime Salad }

 I will admit that before I made this salad I was a little skeptical.  I thought to myself ok, i'm on board with the whole watermelon and lime part, but avocado and pecans?  Aren't those kind of strange together?  But I thought what the heck, it's such a gorgeous looking salad and sounds super refreshing so I'm just gonna give it a whirl.  And wow!  Its did not disappoint.

The textures were definitely interesting, but a good interesting.  I found myself really thinking about each flavor in my mouth as I chewed.  You could taste the watermelon, and then the lime, and then the avocado, and the pecan, and the flavors just kept going 'round and 'round in my mouth.  I even went back for seconds!




Saturday, September 13, 2014

{ Vanilla Macadamia Ice Cream }

The other night my husband had a craving for ice cream (ok, ok it was ME!) So I searched the world wide web for something "healthy and simple" aka, paleo with minimal ingredients.  That's when I found THIS recipe from daily bites.

My favorite thing about this one, besides the taste, is the consistency.  Is that weird to say?  I feel like sometimes when you make homemade ice cream the consistency is just a little...off?  This one was PERFECT!  And actually even better the second day after being in the freezer all night.  Ok, you caught me.  Ice cream two days in a row. But when you see the ingredient list you'll know why I justified it.


Vanilla Macadamia Ice Cream
Makes about 2  1/2  cups
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (full fat)
½ cup raw macadamia nuts
½ cup (packed) pitted Medjool dates
¼ cup honey or Grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
Place the coconut milk, macadamia nuts, dates, honey, and vanilla extract in a high-speed blender or Vita Mix. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the side of the knife to scrape the tiny seeds out of the pod. Add them to the blender with the other ingredients. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

{ Whole 30 Approved :: Chicken Nuggets }

If you have kids or are just a kid at heart (like me) then this recipe is for you!  And no, you don't have to be on the Whole 30 to eat clean.  This easy and healthy Chicken Nugget recipe will be making an appearance in my home again and again!  I'd go so far as to say they're even better than my beloved Chick-Fil-A nuggets.  And that's a SERIOUS compliment.

I love the added flavor that comes from cooking in coconut oil, not to mention all the amazing health benefits.  And the almond meal/flour is pretty much the perfect texture to satisfy that "breaded" texture.

I also made a dipping sauce by mixing spicy brown mustard (Trader Joe's makes a great sugar free one) with some honey for a delicious Honey Mustard sauce.  If you're doing Whole 30 obviously leave out the honey.  Still just as awesome! I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think.


CHICKEN NUGGETS

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 lb. chicken breast or tenders, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup almond meal/flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- coconut oil

DIRECTIONS:
1. Beat egg in one bowl and mix the almond flour with the salt in another bowl.
2. Dip the chicken pieces into egg, then drop them in the almond flour and coat well. (Watch out your hands don't get sticky from the egg or you'll find it hard to get a nice clean coat on the nuggets.
3. Heat enough coconut oil to coat the pan over medium heat.
4. Cook chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until done.
5. Transfer to paper towel to cool and to absorb any excess oil.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

{ Meet Our Newest Addition :: Van Robert Laidlaw }

We've had our hands busy these last 5 months with our newest addition to the family, Van Robert Laidlaw.  He is the most WONDERFUL baby!  So happy and easy going, just like his mama.  Haha!  Ok, maybe not, but at least he kind of looks like me!  I could not have asked for a more perfect little boy to love. Welcome to our home, Van.


Photography by :: Stephanie Faye Smith
Birth Announcement by :: www.minted.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{ Blair's 1st Birthday! }

Well I guess I'll go ahead and blog Blair's 1st Birthday Party now that my kid's 2-1/2 years old.  No big deal. Oops!  It's funny how things in your life (like blogging) just become less important when you have someone other than yourself to look after.

Nevertheless, I knew that if I never "journaled" my baby's 1st birthday I would look back with regrets.  So without further adieu, I give you Blair's 1st Birthday!

Sunday morning Blair woke up to a room full of balloons!  Because what one year old doesn't absolutely LOVE balloons?  Then we spent the rest of the morning popping them.


Sunday was Blair's actual birthday so we decided to celebrate will a small get together with our family at our home. When guests arrived we had a table set up with all the pictures I had taken of Blair from 1 month all the way up to 12 months and they had to guess how old she was in each picture to win a prize.  It was pretty fun to see everyone's guesses.  Of course Mimi was the big winner of the night!



I kept the flowers pretty simple.  I love succulents so I just used my already assembled succulent arrangements and added pops of color with carnations. I know the world looks down on carnations, but I secretly love them.  When done right I think they look awesome!


And of course we had to have one of Blair's favorite treats out for snacking: chocolate covered sunflower seeds.  You can pick up these colorful ones at Trader Joes.



The cake and treats were one of my favorite parts of the party.  I tried my hand at an ombre cake and I love how it turned out.  I used a box mix (because who has time to make something from scratch when there's an entire dinner party going on!) I love how it turned out!  And I think Blair was a huge fan, as you'll soon see...







Dinner was fantastic!  If I do say so myself.  We had delicious soup in bread bowls with all the toppings.  Along with some delicious sides provided by family and friends. 








We were so grateful to have all of Blair's family and friends there to celebrate with us.  I cherish this picture of Blair with her Gigi.  So special!



At the end of the night we showed a movie I put together of all the iPhone videos I had taken of Blair over the course of the last year.  It was so fun to watch her grow up in a 15 minute video.  Something I will cherish forever!


Monday, September 1, 2014

{ Paleo Papaya Boats }

I recently finished my first round of Whole 30 this weekend.  It was hands down, without a doubt, the most effective "diet" I've ever done.  I loved it so much that I'm starting Round 2 today!  And for breakfast I decided to start things off with a BANG!  A Papaya Boat bang!  You're definitely going to want to try out this paleo friendly, whole 30 approved Papaya Boat breakfast.  Check back often for more fun and healthy recipes to fuel you and your entire family.


PALEO PAPAYA BOATS
*Serves 2*

INGREDIENTS:
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup raw mixed nuts
- unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
- chia seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Slice papaya in half lengthwise.  Spoon out seeds and scrape away just enough meat to create a small well.  Fill each side with coconut milk, fruit and nuts.  Sprinkle with a pinch or two of unsweetened flaked coconut and chia seeds if desired.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

{ My Birth Story :: Baby #2 }

I realize it's been almost a year since my last blog post. And that I still need to blog my daughter's first birthday. And second birthday. Yup, it's pretty bad! I feel so behind, but I feel like blogging my birth story is most important in this moment in time or I might forget everything (which might not be a bad thing when you consider the sheer misery of childbirth!) But nevermind all the procrastination, it's time to record "My Birth Story :: Baby #2."


It all started with my birthday! I turned 32 on Saturday, March 29th and well, it was sort of looking like it would be a very boring day. My husband works weekends and everyone else was busy with plans so I decided to make the most of my day by taking my daughter for a long walk. It was 3.54 miles to be exact. Most women would cringe at the sound of that number at 10 months pregnant, but I had been doing this same route almost every day of my pregnancy for the last 9 months, so I was pretty used to it. But looking back on it now, I probably pushed myself a little too hard and that's what put me into labor.

Anyway, after I finished my exercise I was absolutely and completely exhausted! I thought about throwing in the towel and just making my 2 year old watch movies on the couch with me for the rest of the day, but remember, it was my birthday and I didn't want to just sit around doing nothing. So instead we got showered and dressed and took ourselves to lunch at Corner Bakery.

By the time we finished lunch I was feeling even more exhausted than before and felt myself literally waddling to my car in the parking lot. But again, I ignored the feeling to go home and rest and took my daughter shopping at Old Navy. After a half hour or so of chasing her all over the store it was time to head home for her...or rather, our naps.

Still exhausted from my long walk that morning, I pushed through the rest of the afternoon until my husband got home from work and we enjoyed a nice quiet dinner together at Cheesecake Factory. Little did we know, it would be our last night out together, alone, for a long time!

After a long day of celebrating, we went to bed as usual. However, something woke me up a little after midnight. Contractions? Say what? At first I was a little unsure what was going on because 1) I was induced for my first delivery so I didn't actually know what it felt like to go into labor naturally and 2) I had just had a horrible stomach bug kick my trash a couple weeks earlier, sending my body into a wild wave of contractions only to end up with my face in the toilet for the next 2 days with the flu.

So here I was lying awake at midnight on a Saturday night looking at the clock and wondering if I should just try to ignore them and go to sleep, or if I should try and time them and see what we were dealing with. Well, after a big glass of water and some breathing techniques, they weren't going away. I text my mother to let her know what was going on and she told me to time them and call my doctor in the morning. Well, I spent the rest of the night wide awake timing the contractions that started at 18 minutes apart and worked their way to 12 minutes apart by the time my alarm for church went off at 7am.

Still kind of playing dumb, I decided to hold off calling my doctor and went about my morning. It was a special Sunday because my nephew, Gunnar, was going to be blessed at church that morning so even though I was feeling pretty rotten, I decided to go to church anyway. Boy was that a crazy sacrament meeting! I can remember grabbing my husband's thigh about every 8 minutes (I know, because I started timing them again after the sacrament was passed) and thinking to myself "Oh my gosh, I'm in labor in the chapel and my water is gonna break and it's gonna be everywhere and people are gonna stare at me, and I'm gonna look like an idiot and...!" I'm pretty sure my husband thought I was just being overly dramatic (because I usually am), because he didn't really seem too concerned at this point.

After the sacrament service was over we said hello to a few family and friends and then I told Matt it was time to get me home to call the doctor. As soon as I phoned in and shared what had been going on over the last few hours the doctor recommended I come in and "at least get checked out to see if I had progressed." At this point I was starting to have more intense contractions, the kind you can't walk or talk through and I think my husband finally caught on that this was really happening! Buuut, of course I kept trying to ignore them and tell myself it wasn't a big deal, so I went ahead and made the salad I had been asked to bring to the luncheon for Gunnar's Blessing after church.  I know, I'm crazy!

Luckily we had Matt's cousin's over that Sunday so they were able to take the salad and Blair along with them to the luncheon at my in-laws while we drove across the street to Foothill Presbyterian Hospital. We arrived at the hospital at about 12:30pm and within a few minutes I was changed into a gown and a nurse was in to check me. "You're at a 5 already!" she said looking as surprised as I was. "Looks like you'll be staying to have a baby today." Say whaaaaat? My husband and I both looked at each other in shock and thought no way, how can that be? I'm already at a 5? Secretly I was thinking HOORAY! THANK GOODNESS! With my first birth I was induced and just getting to a 5 was torture! So to already be half-way there was amazing!

From there the nurses asked me what my birth plan was and I told them that honestly I didn't know at this point because I was 8 days early and had an ultrasound scheduled for the next morning to find out how big the baby was going to be. I explained that my first daughter was born with a broken shoulder and that the doctors were concerned that if this were to be a large baby, they would recommend a c-section to avoid any shoulder trauma from occurring again. I told the nurses that if it was possible, I would like a last minute ultrasound to determine the size of the baby.  The contractions were coming too quickly thought and labor was progressing fast, so the nurses gave me a shot to stop my contractions (I didn't even know they could do that!) and we got the ultrasound done. Baby boy was measuring in at just under 8lbs. Thank goodness because all the ultrasounds before were telling me I was going to have a 10 pound baby.

From there the nurses contacted the doctor on call, who by the way happened to be one of the only doctors I had not yet met at the practice I had been going to throughout my pregnancy. But I tell you what, that turned out to be the biggest blessing of it all! Of the 3 doctors I had seen already, all 3 recommended I do a c-section. However, this doctor on call told me that he thought I could do this vaginally if that's what I wanted. And after much prayer and deliberation with my husband, that's what I wanted. So, now it was time to get these contractions started back up again!

According to my nurses I had two options to get things going again. I could have a pitocin drip or they could try stimulating my cervix with a pelvic exam. Because my birth plan was to go med-free with no epidural, I knew I didn't want pitocin. If you've had it, you know why. If you haven't, just trust me, the stuff is awful! So I went with the pelvic exam. After a few uncomfortable pokes and figure eights, I waited just 5 minutes before the contractions started coming again. Only this time they were back with a vengeance. Luckily, my parents had showed up by this time and my mom and my husband were able to coach me through the next hour and a half as I labored from a 6 to a 10.

Those few centimeters were absolute torture without an epidural, but I don't regret it one bit. Compare my hour and a half of hard labor with this baby to my first labor with my daughter which lasted for hours all through the night and the epidural only worked on half of my body because of my scoliosis. Now that was torture!!!

And let me mention that one of the biggest differences for me in this birth was that I was able to move around and labor in whatever position felt comfortable for me.  I found that for the first little bit that kneeling down on my knees, bent over on my arms was a really great position to be in.  And then as I moved closer to a 10 and the pain was absolutely unbearable I just wanted to lay on my back and shake my arms and hands in the air, almost as if I was shaking the pain out through my arms.  Weird, I know, but that's how my body dealt with the pain.

Once I was at a 10 I was MORE than ready to push. It was just like everyone says, you feel like you need to go poop. Sorry, but you do! And it's awful! All you want at that point is to GET! THAT! BABY! OUT! Thank goodness my doctor, Dr. Alvarez-Mott, came walking through the door and said "Okay, let's push!" He was the most calm and collected doctor I'd ever met. And thank goodness because I was a hot mess, all screaming and yelling. But thankfully the pushing only lasted 30 minutes (another reason I am all about going natural-so you can actually feel what you're suppose to be doing with your muscles down there) and my AMAZING mother and husband were able to coach me through the whole thing. I remember squeezing their hands soooo tight that afterwards my poor mother showed me her hand all bruised with broken blood vessels. Aren't mothers the best?


After a few hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing, my beautiful son, Van Robert Laidlaw, was welcomed into this world on March 30, 2014 at 5:43pm, weighing 7lb. 13oz. and 20.5 inches long. I did it! We did it! He was here and I was alive! What an amazing experience it all was and how grateful I am for all of the incredible nurses, doctors, staff and my family that surrounded me throughout the entire experience. I am so in love with my beautiful son and feel incredibly grateful that I was able to have an all natural birth and bring a healthy baby boy (with no shoulder trauma) into this world!


The next few hours with my son were amazing. Right from the start Van was an amazing nurser and I could already tell that I felt so much better recovery-wise with this birth versus my last birth. I actually got to rest in the hospital and my incredible husband stayed the 2 days with me in the hospital and helped with just about everything he could while my angel mother stayed at my house with Blair until we returned home. I loved my experience in the hospital and call myself very lucky and blessed to have this sweet, healthy and happy boy join our family.  We love you Van!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

{ RECIPE :: No-Bake Energy Bites }

A few weeks ago I met some girlfriends in Corona Del Mar for a beach day!  It was the most gorgeous day I could remember at the beach since...well, since last summer!  But that's not what I remember most about that sunny day at the beach, I remember THESE!

They're No-Bake Energy Bites that my friend Crystal introduced me to.  They kind of look like strange little meatballs, but they are SO incredibly good.  And "healthy" too.  I'll leave the definition of healthy up to you.

But seriously, I love popping one of two a day right around 3 or 4.  You know, when you want SO bad to snack but you know you shouldn't because you've been so good all day!  Well these little guys are my guilt-free go to!  Try them!  I promise you'll like them!




INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cup (dry) oatmeal*
- 2/3 cup coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup all natural chunky peanut butter
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla

 DIRECTIONS:
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

*You can use GF oatmeal for a gluten free treat!  So yummy!
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