Healthy, clean eating recipes that include gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, plant-based, and paleo recipes. Promotion of a healthy lifestyle with positivity and fun, easy, nutritious food and beverages.
It’s happening again. It’s midnight and I’m getting some uncomfortable contractions. Are they real this time? I think they are. My low back has been throbbing and achy all day. This has to be it. It better be because I’m over this shit. Okay let’s get up like we did last night and do the Braxton Hicks test. If I head downstairs and grab some water and walk around and the contractions persist, we are having a baby.
It’s been an hour and they are still coming in like hot fire against my back and every 10 minutes. Okay, this is it. Let’s wake up Walter and get this party started. I’m feeling excited and confident more than I am dreading the discomfort. I’m ready. Let’s roar.
After this first hour of labour, my husband got up and went to pick his mother up and bring her back to our place so she could stay with Eliana. We didn’t want to wake her and if I’m being quite honest, I wanted to avoid the whole “goodbye and when I see you again you’ll be a big sister” ordeal. I had already been super emotional about E all week.
So he left and would be close to an hour gone with the drive there and back. Not long after he left, my contractions went from being 10 minutes apart to 5. And they were getting more intense. Well, shit. To avoid progressing any more than the minimal amount, I forced myself to labour lying down in bed. I was scared to get up and walk around and perhaps speed things up. Although I love the idea of home births, it just wasn’t our plan and surely, I didn’t want to do it all alone. So for the next hour, I battled the dreadful back labour waves that came in strong and every 5 minutes while lying down in bed (and if you’ve experienced back labour, you know lying down doesn’t feel the greatest). When I couldn’t take it anymore and when I knew they’d be back any moment, I got up and started gathering our items. As soon as Walter got home I said “we need to call the midwife. Now.”
Half an hour later we were at the birth center. Our midwife checked me and just as I’d assumed-I was 9 centimetres dilated already. She admitted us to our quiet, dim, private room all to ourselves. I jumped in the shower right away. This shower was heaven. I had Walter run the shower head along my lower abdomen during contractions and there was hot water hitting my back the whole time coming from another jet.
I don’t know how long it had been but I got this feeling I had when I was in labor with Eliana. Something inside me just told me to move on and try something else to help things progress. I really didn’t want to get out of the shower but I just felt as if I should. So we went walking, I used the vertical ladders to hang onto and did some squats and lunges. It felt absolutely awful but it was working. I could feel my baby descend further and further after each violent contraction. The midwife showed Walter how to apply counter pressure on my hips during the contractions which is all that got me through until I had the urge to push. Things were really heated at this point and I was so uncomfortable.
The midwives suggested I try the tub which I desperately wanted to but was equally scared to. I had laboured in the tub with Eliana for 7 hours with absolutely no progression. Not a damn thing happened until I got out. That was the last thing I wanted to repeat.
Then I levelled with myself. “Chantal, every birth is different. You know this. You know that you have to stop comparing. Let’s go for a bit and see what happens, take a break from standing. Overcome this heavy fear of “lack of progression.” Without saying any of these running thoughts aloud, it was almost as if the midwives heard them. They ushered me along in the direction of the ready and welcoming tub. I climbed in and felt immediate relief.
I’m not sure how long had passed before that fear of lack of progression returned and just pure impatience at this point. The midwife said she could break my waters and things would fire right up but should meconium be present, I’d have to transfer to the hospital. Seeing as that is what happened with Eliana, that option was a hard no. I could stand to wait for my waters to rupture naturally. After a few more contractions I looked at her desperately and asked if it was normal to take this long when I was checked in at 9 centimetres dilated already. I don’t recall what her answer was but that next contraction shot me out of the water. I howled. I felt a pop. My waters broke. I looked down hoping to confirm what I was confident of-no meconium. I sighed with relief followed by another loud, uncontrollable howl. The urge to push had arrived and I remember thinking “how long is this going take now?” I could feel that Emilia was low but felt as if there was still some distance to go.
I was asked to finish labouring out of the tub. Eliana was a vacuum assisted 9 pounder. The midwives were taking precautionary measures in case this baby also needed some assistance making her way out safely. I surprisingly got comfortable on my back, laying down in the bed just as they do in the hospital. I pushed, I dug my nails into Walters arms as far as I could and gasped for air. I was reminded to breathe. I pushed a couple more times and naturally took on a bicycle motion, alternating one leg up with my knee to my chest until everyone said they could see her jet black hair. I pushed again and felt that burning ring of fire. Out came her head. I took another breath to immediately push again but was stopped. “Wait until the next contraction, if you keep pushing now you may tear way more than necessary.” What. Seriously. She’s out. Her head is just there outside my vagina. I’m so close. Okay I’ll wait. Fuck, I’m sick of waiting. Ok here’s the contraction. Her shoulder was a little stuck so I was assisted by having both my legs pushed back against me. That was the last of the pain, the last burn. I immediately looked up and remember seeing a perfect baby girl with a full head of hair. She was placed on me right away. I felt nothing but love and pride.
My husband got to cut the cord after some delay. We cuddled and admired her as I was cleaned and stitched up. Everything was so peaceful and the atmosphere made it really easy to forget what just happened minutes, hours ago.
We were released and in the comfort of our own home 4 hours later. I felt so much more relaxed, rested, and at ease this time. My first week of healing was pretty rough but it was much quicker the second time around. Breastfeeding was a smooth ride which I’ll forever be grateful for. I learned that labour doesn’t have to be all pain all the time. The more we relax when we can, the better the outcome. My contractions were fucking brutal but in between them I was my normal self. Conversing and joking as if I was out on a coffee date. I remember feeling like it was taking forever but it was really only 6 hours of active labour (and 2 hours of inactive) with consistent contractions even though I felt like they were drifting apart. I really learned to overcome a huge fear I hung onto from my first experience, lack of progression. I learned how to reason with myself in the hardest of times and eventually trust my instincts and let my body guide myself. And nothing can take that strength away.
Emilia Marie Urbina June 22nd, 20188:02am7 pounds 15 oz 20 inches long
There are two types of people. Those who prefer hearty meals strategically placed throughout the day and those who prefer grazing. I am a full-fledged grazer. The truth is, snack plates make up a lot of my lunches and I prefer it that way. If there are leftovers from the night before I’ll eat it but if not, I’m eagerly preparing myself a colourful and nourishing arrangement of snack foods. It is great because I never need to “plan” what my lunches will be which is one less headache for this busy mama. It’s also a refreshing approach with the warmer weather coming into play. We can afford to spend more time outdoors as opposed to slaving away in the kitchen preparing yet another recipe.
Snack boards can be so fun as they allow us to get a little bit of everything all at once. And believe it or not, they can also be as equally filling and satisfying as a hearty meal. To ensure we have a properly balanced plate all we need to include is a source of healthy fat, quality protein, and fibre. Most whole foods have an array of nutrients so it’s easier than we think to get all the essentials our bodies need. And as long as we focus our attention to getting a little bit of everything, a meal can be whatever we want it to be-no stress needed.
This method of serving food is also a huge hit with my rather selective toddler. Kids loves options and variety even if it doesn't seem like it. When I sit down with a big spread like this in front of me, she is all over it. She always wants what mama has and jumps in my lap to take a peek at what she is willing to try in the moment. It's a very stress and pressure free for them to explore food. Exposure is key and if they eat more as a snacker, by all means I will take advantage of it.
Here are some suggestions for some epic snack board ingredients:
It is more than like;y that you have tried or at least heard of energy balls or bites. Why are these little homemade treats so popular? They are quick to assemble, delicious, and a mindful snack that offers us fuel and nourishment. The possibilities for energy ball recipes are truly endless. So many wonderful and wholesome ingredients can be packed into these little guys. Ever since I have fallen pregnant again, all I dream about is chocolate. I am a lover of anything sweet but I don’t usually obsess over chocolate as much as I have in the past months. My new addiction has led me to some kitchen experiments in hopes of finding healthier ways to cater to my sweet tooth.
One of my family approved favourites are these Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls. They are great when we want or need something quick that will provide us with some nutritional balance in every bite. Along with a chocolate obsession, I have been devouring peanut butter as well. I cannot get enough so clearly this snack is a dream come true for this pregnant mama.
Last month, I wrote a blog post on Sproos Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides. I touched on why collagen powders are being used daily worldwide and how it benefits us. I shared that I generally just add a scoop a day to my coffee or smoothie because it’s just that mindless of a habit to keep up with. However when I was whipping up this simple treat, my Sproos Collagen came to mind. It was too easy not to add and in doing so, I upped the protein content of these goodies.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls(with collagen)
*Makes 18 Balls
1 cup whole rolled oats
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup all-natural salted peanut butter (any nut or seed butter will work)
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined and sticky.
Roll into Tablespoon sized balls and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer for some easy grab n’ go snacking.
Since I have shared my collagen taking habit, I have gotten asked if I notice any differences in my health and/or appearance. What has stood out the most is that my aches and pains caused from pregnancy have diminished. After certain exercises I was finding that I was sore through the hips and glutes mostly. Since adding the collagen that soreness has been less present and persistent making it a lot easier to keep up with as much activity as I feel I can. My gut health has been ideal (especially for being in the constipation prone third trimester). It is harder to gauge any benefits in terms of skin and hair health since I’m currently pregnant (which we all know can cause that glow and grow some luscious locks). I am however looking forward to incorporating collagen peptides post-baby. I have heard from many mamas that it worked wonders for that post-partum hair loss struggle which I experienced bigtime after having my first child.
Sproos Collagen Giveaway
I’m honored to host a Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder Giveaway. One lucky participant has the chance to win two tubs of Sproos Collagen-one Marine and one Grass-fed. Please check out the details on how to enter via my Instagram handle, @Nutty4Nutrition. The contest will end Friday, May 18th at 8pm CST.
Alternatively, feel free to take advantage of my discount code. It is valid for all Canadian and/or U.S citizens interested in placing an order. Simply head the Sproos website, www.sprooslife.com, and enter the code SPROOSCHANTAL at the checkout for 15% off your order. This promo code is valid until the end of May, 2018.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Sproos for sponsoring this post. My promise is to only promote content and products that I truly believe in, buy, and use myself. Here’s to optimal health for all.
A meal plan is the plan of action we come up with before we hit the supermarkets. The purpose is to have an organized menu plan that both saves us time and chaos in the kitchen. It also avoids wasting food and blowing up our grocery budgets. Some come up with a monthly menu, some a weekly menu and others play it day by day. It is important to note that meal planning and prepping will not look or work the same for everyone. What is effective for me may not be effective for you and your family. There is no benefit in comparing planning and prepping methods and/or styles. Find a system that works for you and stick with it. If you have been interested in meal planning but are not sure where to start, I have come up with some helpful tips to help steer you in the right direction.
Browse for Inspiration
Take some time to find recipes on a weekly basis. Pin any candidates on Pinterest, favourite some blog recipes, save posts on Instagram, and/or bookmark the pages in cookbooks. Asking family & friends for their favourite recipes is also a great resource.
Decide what Meals you Need Planned Out
Some like a full schedule mapped out including what will be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I personally enjoy winging breakfast and snacks. I usually just plan out dinners and a couple of lunches since leftovers always serve us well here.
Use What you Have
Go through your kitchen. Write down recipe foundation items you already have in stock. I personally pay attention to what proteins (dried or canned legumes, hemp hearts, nuts/seeds and their butters, tofu, any animal proteins, anything in the freezer), and what grains I already have (pasta or stir fry noodles, rice, quinoa, oats, flours, etc.). I then proceed to plan my menu based on what I already have at home. This may sound tedious but it ensures I actually use what I have in stock-no wastage and it’s been saving me boatloads of money.
Organize Theme Nights
Theme nights are a popular meal planning tactic. For example Mondays can be Meatless Monday. Tuesday can be Mexican. Wednesday could be pasta, Thursday a curry dish, and Friday can be pizza night. It can really help when narrowing down those recipe searches when you at least know what type of dish you are looking for.
The Grocery List
Once you have your completed meal plan written out in front of you, you can then proceed to making your grocery list. Mark down all ingredients (and how many of each) you’ll need to create each meal. I highly recommend doing this instead of just assuming that you have certain ingredients in stock or that you have enough of an item. Nothing is worse than needing a ½ cup of an ingredient and when the time comes you actually only have a drop or a pinch. Head to your kitchen and physically scope out your stock. Mark down any and all ingredients you will need to purchase.
Stick to the List
Once you do hit the supermarket, only purchase items that are on your list. You have planned out every last ingredient you will need for the week, nothing else should make into that cart! You will be amazed at how much money you can save by staying faithful and committing to your grocery plan.
Save your Favourite Recipes
Always save the meals that are a hit. Pinterest is a great resource as well as just saving blog links to your favourites on your phone. This list will become your go-to list. You’ll want to fall back on them on those weeks when you are pressed for planning time, are craving a favourite, or just aren’t feeling like tackling new recipes. The more favourites you save, the more plan recycling you can do….this is the goal. Put in the work now and a few months down the road you’ll be laughing.
Bonus-Saving all the Money
I mentioned a few tricks above that have been keeping me well under budget. On top of those tedious yet super rewarding tasks, I have also been saving a lot of cash by cutting down tremendously on the animal products. I am not here to spark a debate on diet or lifestyle choices but I will say that all plant based proteins are the fraction of the cost than any animal protein. Adding more vibrant vegetables, legumes and organic non-gmo tofu into our meals had me high on the cost difference.
As the years go by there is always one thing we can all improve on: self-care. It is far too easy to get wrapped up in to-do lists, careers, kids, and doing our best to keep our heads above water that we often forget about our needs.
Ever since I became a mom I have discovered how truly easy it is to put ourselves last. I have also learned the hard way that putting ourselves last does nobody any good. We can’t perform to the best of our abilities as professionals, parents, friends, or lovers if we are lacking on self-care.
The good news here is that there are many easy ways to pamper ourselves. Self-care can be affordable, easy to fit into the schedule, and can even be done from the comfort of our own homes. Here are 14 ways we can focus on ourselves and start this New Year off with a clear mind and relaxed soul.
1. Take a relaxing bath. Turn it up a notch and dim the lights, light some candles, and add some essential oils. Bonus if there is a glass of wine involved.
2. De-clutter the home. Although this is a lengthy process, there is nothing more rewarding. Sort through your home, room by room, and focus on keeping only what is serving you and your family.
3. Coloring. And parents, your kids coloring books work just fine-no need to fall into the overpriced adult coloring book hype-trust me.
4. Go for an unplugged walk. Time spent in nature will be forever underrated. Nature heals. Take time to listen to the wind, the birds, and the bees and put a pause on anything involving earphones.
5. Go to sleep earlier. Sleep is a time for rest and restoration and let’s be real; most of us aren’t getting enough. Winding down for bed even 30 minutes earlier will make the world of a difference.
6. Stretch upon waking. Getting our circulation flowing freely first thing in the morning starts the day off on the right foot.
7. Read a paperback novel. Ditch the electronic books and magazines and kick it old school. Feel the pages turn between your fingertips and indulge in a captivating story.
8. Create a home café. Take your reading atmosphere to another level by turning on some soft acoustic music and making yourself the best damn latte that you’ve ever had.
9. Practice positive affirmations. Body image issues don’t’ escape any of us and we could all use some extra love when it comes to this department. Focus on the things you love about yourself, write them down and hang the notes up on your mirror. These are things we should never lose sight of.
10. Say no more often. We all know that we can’t possibly “do it all” but despite knowing this fact we seem to keep trying. If there’s an opportunity or commitment you cannot or do not want to follow through with there is absolutely no harm in saying no. It is not selfish, it is self-care.
11. Journal. Writing down our greatest emotions can be so therapeutic. Journaling can honour feelings of all nature and it helps to clear the mind.
12. Home spa treatments. A rejuvenating DIY face mask always does the trick for me but a self-administered manicure and/or pedicure or hair treatment would be just as lovely.
13. Get an indoor plant. I have sadly killed my fair share of plants but luckily there are some varieties that thrive no matter what. My absolute favorite additions to consider are the spider plant, the dracaena and a pothos plant. These varieties also all happen to be air purifying.
14. Catch up with friends. Nothing beats having the chance to let loose and spend time with those loved ones we don’t see nearly as much as we’d like to. Whether you set up a cozy date at home with a friend (or group of) or go out for brunch or drinks, it’s all time allotted for you and your missed ones.
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. There’s just something about waking up and starting the day off on the right foot. And as much as I love my sweet meals, I wanted to branch out and create a savoury breakfast that was full of plant-based fuel. Meatless and dairy-free savoury breakfast ideas are hard to come by and I was craving something more than some fluffy pancakes, creamy oatmeal, or a blended smoothie.
My daughter loves legumes. She honestly cannot get enough. For this reason, I do have an impressive stock of dried peas, beans, and lentils in the pantry. However, we all know those days where the canned goods are required so I also have a couple of cans handy at all times as well. It saves me on those days where I’m far from organized.
This recipe was inspired by a random handful of leftover canned lentils I had in the fridge. I remember preparing this “kitchen sink” of a dish thinking to myself “oh man, this is probably going to be a hard fail but at least no food will go to waste.” At the last second I decided to whip up some guacamole to serve with my hash and that was that. The only fail here was that I didn’t make enough.
Ingredients for the Hash:
2 Tbsp. avocado oil
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup brown lentils (I used canned, rinsed)
1.5 cups baby spinach
¼ Tsp. chili powder
¼ Tsp. chili flakes (omit to avoid heat in the dish)
1/8 Tsp. garlic powder
S & P to taste
1 large & ripe avocado
½ Tsp. lime juice
Pinch of sea salt
The day before, I quartered my potatoes and boiled them. In the morning I cubed them and proceeded to make my hash. It cut down the cook time tremendously and the potatoes were soft and perfect.
1. Unless you have a huge oversized skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of avocado oil each in two separate skillets. If you have a huge skillet, just use the one. Once the oil is hot, add half of the cubed potatoes in one skillet and half in the other. This will make sure your potatoes cook evenly resulting in prefect golden brown cubes. If the skillet is too small the potatoes will be too crowded and overlap each other which will result in some burnt cubes and some undercooked. Cook the potatoes for several minutes on each side. Avoid over-stirring them-we want them to brown nicely. You can add a little bit of water if necessary to prevent sticking.
2. While your potatoes are cooking, prepare your guacamole and set it in the fridge. Keeping the avocado pit mixed in the guac can help avoid any browning.
3. Once your potatoes have almost all cooked through and turned golden (this time will vary drastically depending on whether or not the potatoes were boiled in advance-see Pro Tip above), add the onion and green pepper to both skillets and cook for a few minutes until they soften.
4. Once your potatoes have fully browned, you can combine everything into one skillet or just mix everything together at the end. Add the cilantro, lentils, spinach, and spices to the skillet and cook for another two minutes until the spinach has wilted.
5. Serve the hash with a generous dollop of fresh guacamole.