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I came into my healthy living lifestyle rather late. I was in my late 20’s and was desperate to heal my guts and repair my health. Once I learned of all of the ways our digestion and immunity can be influenced, I couldn’t simply unlearn it. 

Once I was pregnant with my first child, I vowed to pay attention to her digestive system. To her skin, and to her overall well-being. I knew she would be far too young to understand and communicate any signs of discomfort or any symptoms of dis-ease so it was up to me to tune in for her. 

I started solids with her slowly. And we took many breaks once we did. I paid attention to signs of struggle, the color, shape, and texture of her bowel movements and how frequent they were. The pace I preceded with in our journey was directly related to what her body was telling me. I really understood how this small, amazing being was functioning at a biological level and I’ve got to admit, I was proud. And I never felt happier to know so much about poop and how keep our guts happy and healthy.  

I started giving her vitamin D3 drops as a newborn. We started using probiotics a few months in. And we started using wonderful omega 3 fish oils as soon as we started solids. 

Many of you followed Eliana’s journey as she began to eat food and sip on smoothies. You know as well as I do that she would eat absolutely anything and everything. It was an absolute pleasure coming up with meals for her because she loved everything I came up with. My food creativity shot through the roof at this time. I was always thankful and never allowed myself to get on a high horse over it since I knew toddlerhood was just around the corner. Cue about 16-18 months. Like many toddlers, she turned to mostly fruit and starchy carbs for fuel. We stayed here for about a year until she started to come around to some whole foods that she used to devour without hesitation. It’s a slow process but I’ll take any progress as a win. Exposure is key so don’t give up. Keep offering that damn red bell pepper even though you are convinced they will say no. One day, just one day, they might take a bite. And even if they don’t, you can never say you didn’t try. I know it’s frustrating as anything but keep your heads up.

If you are also in my trenches with a selective little eater, I’d highly consider trying out a superfood powder like this Fermented Organic Gut Superfoods+ Kids powder by Genuine Health and Joyous Health. It’s packed with 22 whole food superfoods and prebiotics in every scoop. It really takes the worry down a gazillion notches. It’s a grape flavoured powder that can be added to water but I will not lie, I’ve only ever had luck with adding it to smoothies. It’s the only way she will take it so it’s how we roll.

Here’s our current go-to Superfood Smoothie recipe:
  • 1 cup frozen tropical fruit blend

  • 1 banana

  • 1 cup spinach or kale 

  • 1/8 cup hemp hearts 

  • 1 scoop of the Fermented Organic Gut Superfoods Kids powder

  • 1.5-2 cups water or milk of choice


Another product from this Genuine Health-y Kids line is the Omega 3 Kids +D3 fish oil. Fish oils are something I aim to supplement the whole family with every single day. It’s important for so many crucial things like brain development, nerve health, and the maintenance of our teeth and bones. I also find it helps keep babies and children’s guts very regular and happy. This is why I loved supplementing it with starting solids. Switching from a liquid diet to eating some solids is a lot of change for a tiny digestive system. Constipation will likely happen in the beginning but I found omega 3 oils to be a wonderful aid here. My only issue with fish oils, this one included is that they need to be refrigerated to avoid going rancid. I just happen to forget about it sometimes since it’s not in plain sight. 

The Advanced Gut Health Probiotic Kids were by far the easiest supplement to offer Eliana. It’s a lemon flavoured chewable and nothing is easier to offer a kid than a probiotic that looks like candy. A huge bonus is that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The price point on these is also quite friendly compared to other quality probiotics we’ve tried so I’d definitely stick with these going forward for sure.

This blog post IS sponsored by Genuine Health and Joyous Health. But my opinions and passion behind the use of supplements to support the well-being of children are not being falsified. This line of immunity boosting and building products for children has been thoughtfully designed and covers all the crucial areas that we should be considering for the health of our Little’s. I have a 15% off coupon code for anyone wanting to try out any or all products from this Genuine Health-y Kids line. Simply head to www.genuinehealth.com and enter “chantalurbina” at the checkout. 

I am all for getting as much as we need first and foremost from our diets. But the reality is that supplements do help to fill in the gaps, especially for toddlers who think blueberries and toast are all they need to live a bountiful life with no issues. There’s no shame in covering all of our bases. There’s no weakness behind seeking support from supplements. They exist to help us live our best lives. Do you agree? 

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In case you happened to miss it, I have decided to return back to work part-time. And after exploring some options available in the workforce, my intuition led me to a familiar field, Massage Therapy.

I was a Registered Massage Therapist for over a decade before I went on an extended maternity leave after having my first daughter. Upon the comfort of knowing our family is now complete with two precious little girls, I am now looking to pursue more.

It was just over a month ago when I dreamt up a vision. It included a flexible, part-time schedule and in a treatment room that instantly welcomed complete serenity. I am in love with how everything has unfolded and I cannot wait for this new chapter in my life.

This blog post is intended to cover all the information about my new practice. Should you have absolutely any questions at all, please feel free to contact me. Also check out my FAQ section down below.

START DATE

I start March 1st, 2019 and am currently booking appointments!

LOCATION

297 St. Mary’s Rd. on the second floor.

*Near the RED TOP Diner.

HOURS

I will be working Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

The times I am available on these days are more or less flexible so I am leaving that open for now. I will do my best to work with your schedules so just let me know what works for you and we can go from there.

RATES

My prices are as follows and they already include GST:

30 MINUTES - $50.00

60 MINUTES - $80.00

90 MINUTES - $115.00

*Payment options include all major credit cards, debit (tap only), cash, or cheque.

DIRECT BILLING

I am currently set up to direct bill with Blue Cross.

In short time I will be set up to direct bill with a few more select insurance companies including Great West Life, SunLife, Manulife, and more.

Should you prefer to claim our sessions on your own or in the case that I do not direct bill with your provider, an official receipt will always be issued. I can email you an invoice or provide you a paper copy if desired.

CONTACT

You can email, text, or call me at any time to book an appointment.

EMAIL: chantalmarie.rmt@gmail.com

PHONE: (204)688-5337

Eventually I will be looking into the option of online booking. My hours may change slightly depending on the schedule of my child care providers but I will always keep you in the loop in regards to my availability.

FAQWhere exactly is your location? Is there parking?

I am located at 297 St. Mary’s Rd. The first floor of the building is dedicated to The Academy of Learning. I am practicing on the second floor. To access this floor, you will be entering through the back of the building.

There is a lot of residential parking available in the area. I recommend trying to find something on Caton St. off of St. Mary’s Rd. This street is closest to my entrance. There is a parking lot to the left of my building entrance. Do not park there as it is designated for another business and you may be towed.

Do you work evenings?

Fridays are your best bet to snag an evening appointment with me but please always ask me for a date and time that best suits you. I will see what I can do to accommodate your availability. I also work Saturdays.

Do you do Deep Tissue Massage?

There are a lot of opinions on what a deep tissue massage is so it depends on what your individual opinion of it is. Some consider this treatment type quite similar to a traditional swedish massage-same techniques but just using more of a firm pressure. This pressure will provide a different set of results than a generic relaxation massage as we work through some difficult areas.

Deep Tissue Massages can also be done in a manner where there is little to no lubrication involved. These techniques still utilize the therapists surfaces such as hands, fingers, knuckles, and elbows but are done very slowly and can involve some discomfort as we work through trouble areas.

My personal style naturally combines all techniques. I simply just alter my pressure according to your preference. I do use oils for the majority of my treatments. Should my maximum effort of pressure not suit your needs, please let me know and I would happy to refer you to somebody who can provide you with the care you need.

Speaking of oil, what kind do you use?

I will be using a professional grade oil called Holly Oil. It’s a hypoallergenic oil made up of the oils from the branches and leaves on the holly tree. It is combined with vitamin E and jojoba oil to create the highest quality therapeutic moisturizer. It is nut and scent-free and does not stain clothing or fabrics.

Should you prefer a specific type of oil, please bring it and I’ll be happy to use it instead. Just please nothing nut based as a precautionary measure to other clients that may have severe allergies.

Do you do Pregnancy Massages?

I do! I do not have the specialized massage table for pregnancy (with the removable piece for the bump) but I do use pillows and everything else necessary to position you as comfortably as possible. Having gone through two pregnancies myself, I must admit I have a greater interest in treating prenatal women. I can relate to and understand the aches and pains having experienced them all myself.

Do you use Essential Oils in your practice?

I do not diffuse any oils in my treatment room due to sensitivities and allergies. I also do not burn scented candles or incense. I have a few essential oils I occasionally like to incorporate into my massage treatments but of course, I will always get your consent on this. I will never apply something without discussing it with you first. Again, if you have a specific oil that you’d like me to use, please bring it and I’d be happy to use it on you.

Can I get a massage if I’m on my period?

Of course! A massage can be very beneficial during the menstrual cycle. We can address any aches and pains or we can avoid any tender areas should you prefer that. Just keep in mind that a massage can increase your menstrual flow the day of and after your treatment (this increase can have positive effects so there is no need for concern).

I’d like to come and see you but I know you personally. Is that awkward?

I love this question because I can totally understand the confusion of boundary. I would like to take this opportunity to express that I am your Registered Massage Therapist first and foremost during our sessions. Professionalism isn’t optional. I understand that when people seek hands on therapy, they are hoping for complete mental and physical restoration. Some clients love to chat and that’s ok. However, many don’t. This should always be respected no matter who you see (and for any service).

Becoming a mother has truly given me a greater appreciation for self-care. I respect that individuals need time for themselves for many different reasons. I respect your needs and I want to provide you with the greatest treatment I can. Should this mean serene silence, I am happy to comply. I am here to provide you with a therapeutic service, we aren’t on a coffee date. We can catch up later, just relax.

But how do I express that I want to enjoy my treatment in silence? I don’t want it to be awkward or come off as being rude.

As soon as our treatment begins, I won’t say a word unless it’s to ask you about my pressure or other treatment related questions. The rule of thumb is, if you talk, I talk. If you are silent, I am silent.

Unfortunately, I have heard of this issue in regards to many client/therapist relationships. Many have really enjoyed the atmosphere and techniques of a therapist but they found they could never fully relax with constant chatter. If you come across this again or know someone who is experiencing this, try using this approach. Start off with a two minute conversation at the beginning of the session and follow up with “Okay, I’m just going to relax now.” That line is forward yet gentle and leaves no room for misunderstanding on the therapist’s part. As professionals in this field, we cannot and will not be offended should you want to relax, shut off your mind, and drift in and out of sleep.

If you have any other questions, please leave me a comment or feel free to contact me directly via email or phone.


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Nutty 4 Nutrition by Chantal Urbina - 6M ago

I am 33 years old and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And I am finally okay with it. It bothered me for years that I was living a life without “purpose” or so it seemed. It affected me so deeply because I grew up with your typical millennial mindset. I believed that happiness should always triumph a paycheck.

During high school, I proudly stood by and rooted for friends following their dreams even though they didn’t line up with what their loved ones considered to be safe and secure. And today, these ladies are mothers and well known entrepreneurs that are exceeding every limit they’ve put on themselves. And although this was now close to two decades ago, I still remember yearning for that passionate feeling myself. I wish I knew what my calling was. But I didn’t. I finished high school and went right into first year University where I wasted both time and money. I still felt no direction, no pull, nothing. After taking a year off I was still left in uncertainty. I looked into different options and forced myself to pick something that seemed half-heartedly interesting and challenging. I enrolled in a Registered Massage Therapy program, graduated and practiced for over a decade until I went on extended maternity leave when I had my daughter. 

I have been at home with my daughter for two years now. I’m expecting my second child within the next month. And although this was our family plan, some days as a stay at home mom are just so much harder than others. This decision of mine can be isolating at times as it’s not the popular choice that it once was. And although I’ll be here awhile yet, there’s that question that still haunts me. “What are you going to do when you decide that you are ready to go back to work?” After all these years, I’m still left answerless. Bring in societal pressure. On top of my already positive and pro-happiness mentality, I’m constantly seeing popular buzzwords such as “passion”, “success”, and “hustle” everywhere. Quotes like “Do what you love and never work a day in your life” are being thrown around like confetti. It seems everyone is crushing it at slaying dreams while parenting, eating right, exercising, and brushing their teeth. And here I am, just trying to be a half decent mom without losing my mind when my toddler asks for her 99th snack of the day.

And so recently, I broke down. I’ve been battling this dilemma for the longest time. I had a conversation with my husband about it and what I finally realized is that our job does not have to define us. We can have passions without wanting to do them or be them every single day.

And because this realization is still so new to me, I’ve prepared a short list of tips to help me get through the days where I start to feel that pressure return. Maybe it can also help anyone else that is in my slow sailing boat.

Volunteer / Do Good:

Volunteering won’t be a realistic goal for me anytime soon with a newborn arriving shortly but there’s always a way to do good. Stopping to acknowledge and converse with a lonely senior takes no effort. Leaving a positive comment online takes all of two seconds. Preparing a meal or two for someone who could use it is a fabulous gift. Donating unused items to shelters helps a tribe of those in need. Even supporting a friend pursuing their own passion is a great way to catch some good vibes. Doing good from the heart always, always fulfills us in ways that no job ever could.

Dabble:

If there is one thing that we are not lacking today, its opportunity. We must embrace what comes our way and gain that precious experience. Explore hobbies, take on new challenges, and consider those wild offers that cross our paths. The mystery of the unknown can be nerve wracking but we will never be able to narrow anything down without exploring our options. I may not know what I do want to do but thanks to dabbling, I do know what I don’t want and that’s a direction in itself.

Self-Care:

Striving to stay in touch with those activities that leave us feeling refreshed and fulfilled makes the world of a difference. Bake, cook, do yoga, meditate, paint, golf, read, get a massage, go to bed early, watch a whole season of a TV series in a ridiculous amount of time. Do you and know that it’s deserved and necessary.

Remember that the whole future can’t be planned:

Life isn’t a puzzle. We can’t sit down and figure it out just like that. We change as we grow and if we didn’t I would be that ice cream truck driver that I said I wanted to be when I was in grade 4. It is merely impossible to foresee our growth and the different paths we will yearn to take as we evolve. Different hobbies, interests, mindsets, energies, and lifestyles will be introduced throughout our time. These flowing inspirations are here to guide us through journeys made to be appreciated and proactive in the present time.

Again, for the longest time it bothered me that I didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally. I always wanted that perfect job that could define me. All of these years that I have stressed over it have actually prevented me from organically finding my way. I was trying to force something that just isn’t meant to be forced.

And now here I am in the present, realizing that I have a title that means the world to me. If asked, I would’ve never listed Massage Therapist as an adjective that best described me as a person. But I would definitely include being a stay at home mom. I may not be a hustling boss babe behind the scenes of motherhood but I am no longer sweating over the fact that I’m not. I’m a SAHM with passions. Some have been set aside but will return. Some will be replaced and I can guarantee that new ones will arise. This is where I am supposed to be right now and we will see where life brings me tomorrow, the day after, and within the next few years to come. Life is full of chance with change and as a woman 33 years young; there is way more of that coming my way.

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” –unknown.

Images taken by Jamie Mandap.

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Nutty 4 Nutrition by Chantal Urbina - 6M ago

Lentil? Is that a typo…?

No, it is not. I just scared the shit out of you didn’t I? You are off to find another muffin recipe. WAIT!

Know this-I am a muffin queen.

I adore them so much and I’ve made a ton of recipes, gaining so much experience in the art of muffin making. There is definitely such thing as a successful healthier homemade muffin. Taste, texture, and appearance all matters and nothing falls short in this recipe.

 I added cooked red lentils to this recipe. I love adding red lentils anywhere I can. They cook almost to a purée making them easy to experiment with in both cooking and baking. Red lentils can do so much more than make a killer curry dish. Add the carrots, fresh ginger, eggs, and dried fruit and it’s evident that we have one heck of a nutritious snack or breakfast muffin. At 7g of both fibre and protein per serving, it’s a full out winner.

 Carrot Ginger Lentil Muffins

*Makes 12

 Ingredients:

  •  1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 3/4 cup whole rolled oats

  • 1 Tsp. Ground cinnamon

  • 1 Tsp. Baking powder

  • 1 Tsp. Baking soda

  • 1 cup grated carrot

  • 1 cup cooked red lentils drained of the water

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil (or olive or coconut oil)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup cane sugar

  • 1 Tbsp. Maple syrup

  • 1.5 Tsp. fresh minced ginger root

  • 1/4 cup chopped dates or any other dried fruit of choice  

 Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350•F

  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder and soda.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the carrots, red lentils, oil, eggs, sugar, syrup, and ginger.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Fold in the dried fruit of choice.

  5. Fill each muffin liner 3/4 of the way and bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

If you have happened to brave this recipe and were pleasantly surprised by how they turned out, lentils and all, please leave a comment on this post! I can spew a lot of love for my recipes but we all know that honest and true reviews from others who are non-biased is what matters most. Help me encourage those who are hesitant in trying out this recipe, let us know-what did you think?

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Nutty 4 Nutrition by Chantal Urbina - 9M ago

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 

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Motherhood has taught me many things but one of the most essential skills it has taught me is the art of batch cooking. Prior to having children, I enjoyed taking the time to make fresh meals from scratch every day and savored the luxury of a varied menu throughout the weeks. Of course now there is just not enough time or energy in a day to play gourmet. Thankfully I have learned a few helpful tricks along the way to keep our family fed, healthy, and happy.

For us, leftovers are a saving grace. We don’t mind eating the same thing two days in a row because well, we are just happy to have a quick meal ready. Batch cooking has been my best friend lately. It saves us money as we are not ordering takeout on those rushed days where hanger and lack of time are winning. It has graced us with more family time and less cooking and cleaning up. And lastly, double or triple batching has been a great way to prepare some post-partum freezer meals.

The way I approached my freezer meal prep this pregnancy compared to my last was way more efficient and relaxed. This led to a much more successful outcome that I would love to share with any other expecting parents (or anyone in general interested in stocking up that freezer).

Avoid that all day cooking marathon.

During my first pregnancy, I dedicated a few whole days to cooking freezer meals. The issue with this is that this food prep is best done during the third trimester. This is to ensure our freezer staples do not expire before we actually use them all up. And a woman in her third trimester is often suffering with aches, pains, and strains due to carrying the extra weight that is by now, overly exhausting. A full day cook-a-thon is lot for the average person to push through, never mind a swollen, tired, and achy mama. It is definitely nice to have completed all that work in a day but honestly, it is not worth the pain and may even put us off from doing it all over again. My advice is to gradually build up that freezer. A gradual approach kept me from burning out like I did after those day long cooking marathons I pursued with my first pregnancy. I found that by the time I was done and ready to freeze my meals, we ended up eating half of them because I was too exhausted to then prepare more food for the present time. Needless to say, my freezer stock diminished very quickly.

Keep it simple.

There are many tutorials out there that are heavily organized and detailed. Meal plans, grocery lists, and there are even columns to mark down duties to be done in advance. They are admirable and can be extremely helpful but also overwhelming. Let me assure you, this way is not the only way. Simply pick one or two snacks or meals that you already plan to make for the week and double up. The mess is already being made. The ingredients are already being prepared so why not put the extra time in now .Save one batch to be enjoyed immediately and freeze the extra batch. This approach was less stressful, less physically demanding, and much easier to accomplish.

Storing and labeling your food.

It is important to know that anything cooked or baked in advance needs to come to a complete cool before freezing them. Storing something hot or warm will result in a build-up of moisture and will lead to freezer burn. Let the food sit and cool all day, even overnight if need be and then proceed to freezing. If storing liquids such as soups or marinara sauces in glass, leave some head room. Once the food freezes it can expand and if there is not enough room for that expansion, we may end up with a busted jar /container. However we go about storing our freezer meals, we must always be sure to mark them with the important details. Mark down the date the food was prepared, the date it should be used by (most things are good for 3 months), and any cooking or thawing instructions. I made quite a few crockpot recipes so I was always sure to mark down how many hours the meal should be cooked for and on low or high. I also marked down easy ways I could enjoy the recipes (like in a sandwich, served with rice, etc.).

Don’t forget about snacks.

Meals are essential and definitely harder to prepare than snacks are. However, having some prepared snacks will also be a saving grace. Most new moms tend to graze all throughout the day since they find it is all they have time for. Those with other children at home will also greatly benefit from this. Preparing hearty and nourishing snacks like energy balls, for example, will give the whole family the fuel they will need to survive the day.

Keep a list.

In order to keep track of everything we have to use up, keep a list. We can organize it by marking down how many batches we have of each recipe. This will make it easy to decide what to thaw and prepare for the following day. Crossing off used items is also a great way to keep this list updated and accurate.  We put so much work into this stock; we do not want to forget about it!

I hope you find these tips helpful. I decided to focus on advice rather than freezer friendly recipes as there are endless amount of recipe posts but not enough addressing the actual preparation process. As I mentioned above, I did make a lot of slow cooker meals this time and most of those recipes were found on Pinterest as I am far from a crockpot guru. I rarely use mine but really wanted some dump and go meals to have on hand. For the slow cooker I made various shredded chicken recipes and a lentil stew. I also made some meatballs, some lentil marinara sauce, and a butternut squash soup. I baked two different kinds of muffins, some pancakes, energy balls, and no sugar added cookies. Casseroles are also great options as well as lasagnas, chilies, and stir fry dishes. I ended up with a great freezer stock for after baby comes and it was much more manageable and successful this time around.

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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.

Self-Care Tips

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.

 

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