Monday, February 24, 2014

Banana Stacks

I took a break from blogging this past week to prepare for our son’s first birthday party. It is always fun to have a mix of family and friends around! I’ll try to post some pictures this week. Mercury also took his first couple unassisted steps at the party, so we are gearing up for him to start walking soon!

The recipe I have for today is not something I was planning on sharing because it is more of a “how-to” than a recipe. However, I made it for my husband earlier this week and it was apparently very popular so it is brought to you by social media demand! I like to make this as and easy after work out snack. I have seen many versions of this so I’m definitely not claiming it as my own, but here is my method.

Banana Stacks

Gluten Free, Vegan
Makes around 5

1 banana
2 tbl almond butter
2 tbl coconut oil, softened*

Slice the banana into quarter inch rounds. Group into 3 slices per a stack. Top the first banana slice with semi soft coconut oil. Lay another slice of banana on the coconut oil. Next add a layer of almond butter, then finish with the third slice of banana. Secure the stacks with a toothpick. You can eat right away or put them into the fridge or freezer to firm up the coconut oil. Store in the fridge for less then 2 days or freeze.

Notes and Substitutions

  • You can use nut or seed butter that you like.
  • To make these chocolate mix 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder with the coconut oil.
  • *If your coconut oil is to firm to spread then let it sit out in a warm spot or put it into a warm oven for a few minutes. If it is melted to liquid then place it in the freezer for a few minutes.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Birth Story

A year ago today my husband and I (and our small support staff) brought our beautiful son into the world. In honor of his birthday I would like to share his birth story. If you are here for the food recipes then better skip todays post! When I was pregnant I loved reading/hearing other women’s labor and birth stories, it taught me that there is no normal and helped prepare me for my labor.

Mercury’s Birth Story

I kept telling everyone that our baby would come early. My belly was so big I just knew if the baby was late there was no way it was coming out naturally. On Sunday February 17th, , three days before my due date, I went to brunch with my Aunt and Uncle while my husband was at work. For the last few weeks I had been walking and squatting and eating spicy food and taking primrose oil and doing all those fun old wives tales they tell you will make the baby come. This morning was no different. Our waiter, who was also a new dad, congratulated me and told me his birthday was tomorrow. Good signs right?! I was feeling a little crampy, like I had been the last few days, but I still ate a big breakfast. 

When I got home I started to notice that my cramps were coming in waves so I decided why not time them? After an hour they were almost exactly 10 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I texted my husband and told him not to get to excited but to be on standby. After another few hours of this pattern I was pretty sure this was the beginning of labor; I was still reluctant to get too excited, but I rang up my doula and sister anyway. My doula reassured me that I was in labor and could “get excited.” I used the rest of the afternoon to make cookies and  banana bread and other snacks to take to the hospital and my husband picked up some produce on his way home.  When he got home we put in the car seat and double-checked our hospital bags. My contractions were around 7 minutes apart now and didn’t hurt much. I took a shower and read a book and tried to do anything to keep my mind occupied. 

Early labor, getting massaged by my hubs and sis
Around 11pm we decided to try and get some sleep, but it was very uncomfortable for me to lie down. Every time I did, my contractions would get more painful. So I let my husband sleep while I walked around or sat on the toilet and rocked my hips. At 1am my contractions were almost 4 minutes apart and 1 minute long but still not very painful. I called the midwife and she asked me if I had any contractions while I was talking to her. I said yes I’m having one right now. She told me since I was talking fine through it that I probably didn’t need to come in yet, but I could if I wanted to. I told her I would wait, and thought, “What does she mean ‘won’t be able to talk through them?’”Around 3am my condition was the same but I was getting so anxious/excited and I still couldn’t sleep because my contractions were just painful enough to keep me awake. I woke my husband up and we decided to head to the hospital. It was a 30-minute drive anyway and I didn’t want to be super uncomfortable on the drive by waiting longer. We let my sister and doula know and rocked out to Michael Jackson on the way. 

My doula brought this scarf type thing to help me squat
When we got checked in at the hospital they said I was ‘half way there’, 5cm dilated. I was starting to get pretty nauseous. My doula put some peppermint oil on a towel and set it near me, it instantly made the nausea go away.  My sister arrived around 6am and I was still feeling pretty good at this point. I was vocalizing during contractions and my sister and husband helped rub my back and hold me while I squatted. Everyone was thankful for the snacks and my husband fed me strawberries and my sister kept making me take sips of water. My doula guessed I would have the baby by noon. That sounded way to long to me. 

Walking around the room and being silly
After a lot of dancing and squatting and other positions my doula suggested, my water broke, a little bit. Apparently it can partially break but not all the way. Still though, it was progress! We discussed recipes while my husband made everyone laugh with his “Push Mix’ featuring songs like “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and "The Circle of Life". Everyone laughed at me because I would be a part of the conversation and then just get really quiet for few minutes while I had a contraction and then go right back to talking without missing a beat. 

It was just starting to get light out and my contractions were getting more painful so I sat on a birthing ball in the shower and let the hot water run on my back. It felt so good and was a nice break. While I sat in the shower they filled up the birthing tub. 

I would call this "later labor"
I got into the tub and kept squatting and moving around.  I was starting to feel the urge to push so my doula told me to do what felt right. The midwife came in to check me and said “she still has a bag”, meaning my water hadn’t broke. She also said I was only 8cm dilated. I told her I felt like pushing though. She said she would try to stretch me a little bit. I didn’t really know what that meant but wholly hell did it hurt. It was more painful than the actual birth. As she did this, I thought that I yelled “No!” loudly and started to rear my arm back to punch her (fight or flight, I guess I’m a fight person?) My husband said I actually just shook my head back and forth a balled my hand into a fist. My doula stroked my head and told me to calm back down. This was the only time I really lost my trance. I had been in the zone up until now.  I relaxed back in the tub for awhile then got back into squatting position. When I did my water broke fully, it felt awesome. I soon really felt like pushing.

The tug-o-war move
 After an hour or so, the midwife came back in and I got into a reclined position in the tub. My husband kept a cool compress on my head and my sister and I did this sort of tug-of-war move so I could have some leverage when I pushed. I was really tired at this point. Mind you, I had been awake for almost 30 hours and in labor for almost 24 hours. My contractions slowed down and then just stopped and I fell asleep for about 15 minutes in the tub. I think my body knew I needed a break. When they came back I really didn’t feel the urge to push but the midwife and doula reassured me that it would be soon, I just had to give it all I had on every push. 

My favorite picture; the look on Noah's face as the midwife explains how to catch the baby.
My husband and sister switched positions so she was by my head and he was in catching position. For some reason this gave me the extra pep I needed. They told me they could see his head and he had blonde hair. I was thinking yeah right, my baby is going to be bald like I was! They told me I could reach down and touch the head but I didn’t want to. I was pushing as hard as I could during my contractions while my sister steadily counted to ten. The midwife explained to my husband how to catch the babe. Finally the baby crowned and the midwife said okay on the next contraction we will deliver the body, but I had had enough. I continued to push and passed the rest of his body out. It was so weird because I thought it would happen quick but it actually took long enough that I could feel all the parts of the body come out, shoulders, butt, and then the weirdest thing, little toes. I closed my eyes for a second and just leaned back.

 My husband brought the baby out of the water and put him on my chest. The first thing I said was, “sorry about your head.” I knew babies had cone heads when they were born but his was especially bad because he also had a big bruised lump on one side.  Guess he was a little crooked. He didn’t cry right away but just kind of peered up at me for a minute. We wanted my husband to be the first to announce the sex but he was so excited that he forgot so someone asked him the sex. He looked and yelled out “it’s a boy!” I said “hi Mercury” and kissed his little head. I felt something brush up against my leg in the water and I thought ‘oh no, a piece of my vagina got ripped off and is just dangling there.’ Then it donned on me that it was the umbilical cord. My husband cut the cord and then took Mercury to get weighed and all that while I got out of the tub and onto a table where I easily delivered the placenta and got a few stitches. The nurse was turning around to tell my husband that the babies like skin to skin contact and laughed to see him with his shirt already coming off. My doula helped us get him latched on for the first of many meals and my sister went out to tell the family the stats. After awhile we moved to another room where our families flooded in to see the new little guy.

I was really pleased with my birth experience. I was happy that they let me eat and drink as I wanted, move around, and only checked the baby’s heartbeat intermittently. The sweet nurse plunged her hand into the dirty water without a second thought (she wore gloves but they kept filling up with water), and she spoke so softly I hardly noticed her checking the vitals. I was also really lucky that everything went so smoothly. It was nothing I could have truly prepared for; save for getting a little bit more sleep beforehand. It was not as painful as I thought it would be and after he was born my body definitely gave me some natural painkillers. My face and eyes were super swollen and bruised, I could hardly see. All the baby books said don’t push with your face but how else do you give it all you’ve got? I also had the best pee of my life and was ravenously hungry. We took Mercury home the next day and life has been more than beautiful ever since.

Happy Birthday Bug!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Protein Snow Balls

We’ve been having such a fun ice day! I can’t seem to stay out of the kitchen. Its nice to have my husband playing with the baby in the living room while I play in the kitchen. I was so inspired by the beauty this ice storm is leaving around our apartment complex that I came up with this quick and easy treat. It has only one ingredient that may be uncommon (not for us, but I accept that our pantry may be a little less than main stream). Lucuma powder is made from a Peruvian fruit and is a common flavor used in many countries. It is naturally sweet and almost creamy. I love adding it to raw and baked deserts. We are lucky enough to have it in the bulk bin at the local CoOp so I always have some on hand. If you don’t have it, you can leave it out of the recipe but it won’t be as creamy and sweet. ( P.S Lucuma is also the Peruvian symbol for fertility ) In addition, this recipe is full of healthy fats and is a complete protein source; it can fuel all of your sledding adventures and is mighty tasty with some hot chocolate. Enjoy!

Protein Snow Balls

Gluten Free, Vegan
Makes about 12

3 medjool dates, pitted and soaked until soft
¼ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
¼ cup hemp seeds
2 tbl coconut oil, melted
1 tbl lucuma powder
¼ tsp vanilla powder or ½ tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

For the ‘snow’
¼ cup unsweetened coconut shreds

  1. Pit the dates and soak in just enough water to cover them for at least 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. Next make the ‘snow’ by pulsing ¼ cup of shredded coconut in a small food processor until powdery. Don’t do it to long or it will turn to coconut butter! Set aside.
  3. Add the dates and soak water, hemp seeds, a separate ¼ cup of coconut shreds (not the snow!), melted coconut oil, vanilla, and salt to the small food processor and begin blending. Scrape down the sides and blend until it is mostly smooth. It may take a few minutes.
  4. Add in the lucuma and blend until incorporated.
  5. Set the mixture into the freezer for a few minutes until it is firm enough to roll into balls. Mine took about 5 minutes.
  6. Take the mixture out of the freezer and roll into balls with your hands, toss each ball in the ‘snow’ and then return to the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up.
  7. Store in the freezer.

Notes and Substitutions

  • You could easily make these chocolate by adding 1-2 tablespoons of cacao powder.
  • You can adjust the number of dates to fit your desired sweetness.
  • You could use another nut or seed instead of hemp seeds. I think cashews or blanched almonds would be tasty.

What is your favorite protein snack?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tipsy Cakes

Love and snow is in the air. Anyone from the south can tell you that if there is even a chance or the white stuff everything shuts down. Fortunately for us we love these impromptu family days. My husband uses them to get projects done and I use them to cook fancier fare. This recipe looks and tastes amazing, but is actually very simple to execute. I’m always looking for single serve desserts because in our house ‘if I bake them, we will eat them’. This recipe comes just in time to make you and your sweetie a tipsy treat (and 1 extra to share!)

Tipsy Cakes

Gluten Free*
Makes 3


1 tbl coconut oil or grass-fed butter, melted
1 tbl maple syrup
2 tbl amaretto*
1 egg
1/3 cup almond flour
1 tbl coconut flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt


3 strawberries
1 tbl coconut butter
1 tsp amaretto*


½ ripe avocado
2 tbl maple syrup
1 tbl grass-fed butter, softened
1 tbl cocoa powder
¼ tsp vanilla powder

To make the cakes, whisk together the melted coconut oil or butter, maple syrup, amaretto, and egg. Add in the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt and mix, make sure to get out any clumps. Line a cupcake pan with 3 liners and evenly distribute the batter amongst them. Bake on 350oF for 15 minutes until the tops are firm to the touch. Set the cakes on a plate in the freezer to chill while you make the filling.
To make the filling, blend all of the ingredients in a small food processor until mostly smooth. Scoop into a small container and set it in the freezer while you make the icing.
To make the icing, blend all of the ingredients in a small food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Scoop into a plastic bag and set in the freezer to firm up some.
By the time your have made the filling and icing the cupcakes should be cool enough. Take them out and cut a whole in the center of the top for the filling. Fill with the strawberry filling. You may have a little filling leftover, depending on how big your hole is. The icing should be firm enough to pipe now. Cut the tip off of the plastic bag and pipe the icing on top of the cupcake, covering the hole. Put them pack into the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.  Store in the fridge.

Bake a cool the cupcakes

Cut holes in the center


Notes and Substitutions

  • *Some brands of amaretto are gluten free (Disaronno for sure). If you don’t react strongly to gluten the small amount of amaretto in this recipe probably wont bother you anyway, only you know your intolerance level.
  • For the cake, I don’t recommend an egg substitute, this recipe really relies on the properties of the egg, however, I haven’t tried a chia or flax egg, so it may work.

What is your favorite small serving desert?