Chocolate Nut Clusters

Hello! It’s Molly; it’s been a while, but I’m still here! I’m currently sitting here looking at pumpkin decor, smelling fall-scented candles, and really wishing I had a warm slice of pumpkin bread. It’s starting to *kind of* cool down, fall decorations are coming out, and the holiday season is in sight. All of this can only mean one thing: aside from eating all the goodies, of course, it’s time to bake the goodies! However, if you’re like me, you still get a little sweaty turning the oven on; I’m also still slightly sleep deprived from having my second baby only five months ago, so any extra energy I have is usually devoted to tidying up. I would love to be able to bake more, but right now most dessert recipes are a little too time intensive for me. So what’s a sweaty, tired mama to do when Fall comes a-knocking asking for goodies? Make this recipe! It is super simple, delicious, sweet, crunchy, and salty; these two ingredient Chocolate Nut Clusters satisfied my third trimester cravings, and are the perfect go-to in this busy season if you’re craving a treat but short on time. Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Nut Clusters

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of nuts of your choice, chopped (I used pecans and almonds)
  • Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Toast nuts for about 2 minutes on a dry skillet on medium heat, just until aromatic. Set aside
  2. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring well after 30 second increments.
  3. Stir nuts into melted chocolate
  4. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate covered nuts on a parchment lined (or my favorite silicone mats)
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired
  6. Refrigerate until firm
  7. Store covered in the fridge for a week, but they’ll be gone long before that hehe

For more fall goodness, check out my Pumpkin Pecan Muffins, Apple Pie Parfaits, or my No Bake Pumpkin Pie. I hope everyone has been healthy and well during this post-apocalyptic movie of a year we’ve had. You will find plenty of comfort food on this site, and feel free to reach out to chat if needed. Stay healthy, hug your family, eat fall goodies…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you; just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of crazy!

Selah’s Birth Story

You know the old phrase “silence is golden”? As a now mother of two, I can attest to that! I am currently sitting on my couch enjoying probably about twenty minutes of alone/quiet time while Zemirah has rest time in her room and the baby naps in her crib; I’m eating some peanut butter lactation bites (recipe coming soon!) and washing cloth diapers. It seemed like the perfect time to revisit an old TV sitcom, but I thought it might be fun to sit down and write! I have a couple of recipes in the works, but pictures aren’t edited so I thought for my first blog back I would write out Baby Girl’s birth story! You can read about my first, second, and third trimesters, and if birth is your thing, you may also be interested to read Zemirah’s Birth Story, then hang onto your hats because this one is completely different!

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…) which was week 38 of pregnancy. I had accomplished everything on my baby to do list, finished up with work, and the new shelter-in-place orders were in effect for my county. A scary time in the world, everything was shut down, and as if feeling trapped at home isn’t hard enough, imagine waiting for a baby, too! Zemirah was born 5 days before her due date, and everyone says second babies come earlier, so I was expectant; however this same “everyone” also says second babies come quickly – everyone lied.

Fast forward to forty weeks pregnant – yes I made it to my due date, and I was not happy about it. At my 39 week check up, my midwife said everything was looking very soft and ripe and she thought it would be any time now and likely go quick. Again, a lie. *insert eye roll emoji* At forty weeks and one day pregnant, I was bouncing on my birth ball watching church online (what a time to be alive), trying to get Zemirah to sit semi-quietly so I could at least hear the pastor, and I was noticing some contractions. I had been having them irregularly for weeks, so I didn’t think much of it. However, after about 30 minutes, they were still consistently coming every five minutes, so I thought this might be the real thing! The contractions were not yet painful, but just a crampy, tightening feeling. After timing them for a little over an hour, they were consistently 4-6 minutes apart, so I called my mom to come pick up Zemirah. Saying goodbye to my firstborn, knowing our relationship was about to change, our lives would be different, and she would no longer be my baby, was such a bittersweet moment and I can’t explain the complexity of my emotions in that moment. There was no looking back; I handed my parents Z’s overnight bag, and David and I stood on our driveway waving goodbye with happy tears in our eyes.

Now that David and I were alone it was officially baby time! We packed our last few items for the hospital bags, kept timing my contractions, and headed out for a long walk around the neighborhood. We walked, talked, and day dreamed about what life with two girls would be like; contractions were still coming regularly, but still not powerful. After a good 3 mile walk, we decided I should nap to gear up for what was to come; well after a nice nap, contractions had all but stopped. Unacceptable! We loaded up the car for not just a walk, but a hike! For two and a half hours, we walked the nature trails at a local nature preserve, and my contractions were definitely intensifying. I still wouldn’t call them painful at this point, but there was a lot of pressure. Finally, they were about 2-3 minutes apart for about an hour so I called my midwives. Again, they told me “second labors are usually quick” so they advised me to head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 7 PM, we were screened for Covid and immediately escorted to a room. Being monitored, my midwife confirmed that I was indeed contracting every two to three minutes, but after having sat down for so long I told her I wasn’t feeling them anymore. She checked me, said I was almost 5 centimetres dilated and 75% effaced; I was so excited that I was almost in active labor and thought I could have my baby before midnight. Boy was I wrong… IMG_8008

Due to Covid rules, I was not allowed to walk around the halls, so, like a caged animal at the zoo, I paced anxiously back and forth. We also sadly discovered that due to Covid rules I would not be able to get my birth tub. So we continued pacing, dancing, watching Ellen’s Game of Games while bouncing on my ball, getting Baby monitored every 30 minutes – all of this happened for hours and still my cervix remained the same. We now had our night nurse and midwife, and the midwife advised me to lay on my side with a leg up in a stirrup because Baby was stubbornly stuck up high on my left side, and for me to get more intense contractions, I needed her to change positions. It was around midnight at that point, and though I was still contracting, they were not yet painful so she said we should get some sleep. Try as I might, I could not sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time because every now and then a painful contraction would be so intense it would wake me up and have me moaning, then I would get excited they were more intense and try to walk around to get them more intense, but to no avail.

Finally, after a long night, my midwife came back around 6 AM and checked me; she said I had made a little progress and it seemed like Baby was in a little bit better position. Again, things were still slow and not intense, so we just enjoyed our morning watching Golden Girls on the hospital TV and eating breakfast. My labor was intense enough at this point that I was slightly nauseous and unable to eat or drink much, which was an encouraging sign.

The day midwife, Taylor, came in around 8 AM (at this point, we had been through 3 sets of nurses and midwives – eye roll) and checked me. She actually said it seemed like my progress had gone backwards, and we needed to talk about our options to speed things up. After a long night of laboring and not being able to sleep, that was incredibly discouraging, but I was certainly eager to speed things along. The options she gave me were: go home (heck no!), break my water, or start me on a low dose of pitocin to see if that would get things going. I didn’t have to have pitocin with Zemirah’s labor so I have no experience with it, but have heard it makes contractions essentially unbearable. Because I wanted to have an un-medicated birth, I knew I didn’t want pitocin because of it being medicine but also because I was afraid it would lead me to an epidural. At this point, I had been laboring for almost 24 hours, and was not getting anywhere, so even though it was intervention I wasn’t expecting to need, I had Taylor break my water. Upon breaking my water, Taylor commented that I had a large amount of amniotic fluid which is likely why my contractions hadn’t been intense yet; that made me feel confident we made the right decision and hopeful things would begin to speed up.IMG_8007

A couple of hours later, contractions were more intense; lots of vocalizing and swaying when a contraction surged over me, but they were still far apart enough that I could take little micro-naps in between. Then Taylor came in to break the news that a mom at their birth center was in labor and she would have to leave – she told me who would deliver me instead because she was confident I would have this baby soon. We just kept doing what we had been doing – walking, swaying, bouncing – and a couple of hours later Taylor was back. The birth center mom had the stereotypical second child birth and delivered so quickly that she ended up delivering in the birth center parking lot. I was so jealous! I can’t help but laugh about it now, and I know that mom has quite the story to tell!

Around 1 o’clock PM I decided to get in the hospital bathtub just to relax and rest some more. At this point, the contractions were so far apart that the tub slowed me down even more – I only had one contraction while in the tub. Taylor and our amazing nurse, Kiersten had suggested I try pumping because nipple stimulation releases all the happy hormones and contracts your uterus. So I hopped out of the tub, sat on my birth ball, and pumped for just 10 minutes. I was delighted to see some little drops of colostrum coming out, but even more delighted for the four back to back contractions that came over me like waves of power. I got another cervical check after pumping and I was finally in active labor with the baby’s head at 0 station! It was go time!

I was contracting powerfully and basically one on top of another for a while, but the pain wasn’t nearly as intense as it was with Zemirah’s labor – I could easily breathe through each surge. Eventually, though, my lower back was in excruciating pain; Taylor did rebozo on me to help move Baby down and help relieve some back pain. I felt vaguely like I needed to push, but wasn’t sure. Taylor had me sit backwards on the toilet for a while to help move Baby down even more, and that was definitely effective! The contractions were so strong and powerful, but I didn’t have an overwhelming urge to push like I did with Zemirah. After some time, I would guess around 2:20 PM, Taylor checked me again and informed me that I was 9.5 centimetres dilated – my cervix still had a lip on it, and my baby was still completely on my left side. This is why I wasn’t feeling the urge to push yet, but she told me it was still time. They say (who are these people and why do they always tell us things?!) that mothers forget the pain of childbirth when they hold their baby, but I’m not sure I can ever forget the feeling of what happened next. Taylor had me lay on my right side, pull my left leg up; she then reached inside of me, pushed my cervical lip aside, and told me to push against her hand. With all my might I pushed, multiple times, my lower back was screaming at me – I felt like it was going to rip in two. I vomited.

Finally, Taylor had me flip onto my hands and knees, pulling down on the top of the bed for support. It was in this position that I continued my strenuous pushing; my husband David constantly encouraging me and me saying “I can’t do this!” over and over. I have a vivid memory of at one point feeling three hands on me – one from Taylor, one from Kiersten, and one from David – and I felt so supported and cared for. Their caring touches gave me the strength I needed.

If I felt like a caged animal when pacing in early labor, now I was a lioness freed of all inhibitions. I screamed – no, roared – as I pushed with all my might. At 2:52 PM, Selah Jade Mills was born, and though I couldn’t physically see her right away, I instantly heard her strong cry! She was passed between my legs, and I clutched her to me. The long, hard work was worth it! She was here in all her soft, slimy glory.selahjade1 (2)

She instantly peed and pooped on me, but I just laughed as sweet Kiersten wiped us down. Though I won’t quickly forget the pain of trying to get her in the right position and pushing through that last half centimetre, I also won’t quickly forget the smell of that freshly born baby, or the feeling of nursing her for the first time, holding her close for that first golden hour while we both dozed after our hard work of birth. I won’t quickly forget David’s strong arms around me as I worked to bring Selah here, I won’t forget the tears in his eyes as he gazed lovingly at our new daughter, and I won’t forget the feeling of immense love between us as we realized how blessed we were to take part in another miracle.

Because that is what pregnancy and birth is. A miracle! And the Lord graciously allows us to take part in His magnificent plan for life.

“For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.” – Romans 11:36

Third Trimester Recap + Postpartum Freezer Stash

Spring has sprung – flowers blooming, I saw some bluebonnets this week, allergies flaring up, all the butterflies flitting about, and our second baby girl is about to make her entrance! I will be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow, so for my last blog before Baby I wanted to do a third trimester recap (you can read my First Trimester Recap here, and my Second Trimester Recap here) plus give a run down of what I’ve stocked away in our freezer for those early weeks after birth.

Third trimester. Wow. I’d like to say it was rainbows and unicorns, but let’s face it, the end is uncomfortable for everyone! However, I’ve maintained a healthy diet, listening to my body’s cravings, and remained active. The difference in my third trimester this time and last time was incredible, though! When pregnant with Zemirah, I struggled with higher blood pressure, had pitting edema – I’d press my swollen ankle and the indention would stay there – terrible acid reflux, excruciating low back pain, and of course my weight was way too high. This time, however, my blood pressure has been perfect (lower than average), I’ve had minimal swelling here at the very end – I’m still wearing my wedding ring! My back pain has been non-existent until just this past week (it is always on the side Baby’s on), and my heartburn/acid reflux has been exponentially less! All in all, this pregnancy has been very easy, I’m so thankful, and praying the same for birth and the postpartum time.

So, what made the difference in these pregnancies?

6E34CD06-2E3D-4245-9B45-9F72610C432D
34 weeks pregnant with both girls – both photos taken by my talented friend Melissa Conklin

Food

Eating real, whole foods has made a world of difference in my life these past two years (you can read our food journey here), and an immeasurable difference in pregnancy. During my third trimester I ate:

  • Dark chocolate – and lots of it! The sweets cravings are real but only dark (60%-72%) chocolate will cut it for me. Add in some almonds or coconut and salt and I’m in my own personal heaven!  One of my favorite packaged dark chocolate snacks is Bark Thins, but I also made a few homemade versions which I will blog after Baby.
  • Beef – it’s what’s for dinner. My midwives told me after my glucose screening that I was also anemic, which explained my meat cravings. So we started eating beef about once a week, whereas we usually go a couple weeks without red meat. Steaks are my favorite, but we would also have ground beef in pasta sauce, taco meat, or beef sausage.
  • Kale – sauteed in butter, topped with salt and a hefty squeeze of lemon juice has been a staple this whole pregnancy. Leafy greens also happen to be high in iron so that helped my anemia, too, in conjunction with upping my prenatal vitamin to twice a day.
  • Citrus fruit – tangerines, navel oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit, you name it! Not to mention, squeezing lemon and/or lime juice on everything. Fun fact, having adequate Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron (it’s almost like my body knew what it needed based on my cravings…hmmmm)
  • Fats – butter, olive oil, avocado, oh my! Seriously. Almost everything is cooked in butter and/or olive oil and we have avocado/guacamole nearly every day.
  • Dairy – this has been a theme throughout my pregnancy. I seem to digest dairy better when pregnant, and have been taking advantage of that! Soft, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and plain, tart Greek yogurt have been my go-to choices.
  • Water – how boring, huh? But seriously, lately I’ve been drinking around a gallon a day give or take a few ounces. I am so thankful for easily accessible, clean drinking water.

Exercise

My weight gain has been average thus far (30 lbs), but I’ve remained active throughout this pregnancy not for weight, but for wellness for my mind and body! Some things I’ve done to exercise are:

  • Yoga – I love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and completed my fourth round of “30 Days of Yoga” in January. I had to modify to accommodate my growing belly, but it felt so good to stretch and move daily, taking that all important time to myself. I would also do my own little stretchy yoga flows combined with some suggested activities from Spinning Babies to help get my body prepared for labor and delivery.
  • Walking – I love walking, and I make sure to get a long walk in once a week, but now that the weather is warming up and my due date is getting closer, I’m trying to walk almost every day.
  • Fit4Mom – I love this company and what they stand for – helping moms find their fit. I am a Stroller Strides instructor, and was teaching two classes a week until last week (taking a break until a few months after Baby) and would also go to the occasional Stroller Barre class to get my legs strong for birth.

Freezer Stash

IMG_7573

In preparation for those first few months postpartum, AKA the “fourth trimester”, I began stocking my freezer with some meals a couple months ago. Here’s what I have:

  • Lasagna – I have used this lasagna recipe for years. I just subbed in gluten free noodles, used cottage cheese in place of ricotta, and added mushrooms to the sauce
  • Chicken/broccoli/rice casserole – this one speaks for itself; it’s all held together with my creamy dairy free “cheese” sauce
  • Beef taco meat – like the taco meat in this recipe
  • Shredded chicken
  • Cooked brown rice
  • Meatloaf – just like this meatloaf but with ketchup and kale
  • Two Bean Turkey Chili
  • Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies (not technically in the freezer yet, making it this weekend!)
  • Homemade biscuits
  • Gluten free sausage balls
  • Sausage and veggie breakfast casserole – similar to this recipe, but with a crust
  • Flax and Oat Pancakes
  • Frozen vegetables that can steam in the microwave
  • Frozen fruits for quick smoothies
  • Frozen chicken bones for Chicken Stock

I think that’s everything! I plan to make a big batch of overnight oats and bake some russet and sweet potatoes for the fridge when it’s almost time for the baby. Who knows, maybe that’s how I’ll keep busy during early labor hehe! I am praying all these healthy, whole foods will nourish me and Baby well during those early weeks.

To read more about baby stuff, check out Zemirah’s Birth Story and My Postpartum Journey. Can’t wait to introduce our newest girl to the blog world; thank you for following along on this pregnancy with me! Stay safe, stay healthy, hug your family…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

Second Trimester Recap

Ahh the second trimester. Also known as the “honeymoon trimester”. As I sit here and type this “honeymoon trimester” recap, I am nearly 34 weeks pregnant, feeling our baby girl tap dance on my internal organs, and feeling like there is no way I’ll be able to make it to my due date… I am certainly thankful to carry life in my body, but no one likes the last few weeks of pregnancy – kind of a blessing in disguise because by the end you are so ready to deliver!

My creativity and motivation so late in pregnancy is close to 0 so, similar to how I wrote a First Trimester Recap I wanted to recap my second trimester, including all things exercise, food, and family related!

What I Ate

So to be fair, I was in my second trimester during the holidays and when the flu struck our house, but I was just wanting us to stay healthy, enjoy some holiday treats, and try and eat nutritious foods for myself and Baby. So we did have a lot of carbs, yet again, and I ain’t mad about it! Some foods I ate frequently during the second trimester were:

  • Marbled Peppermint Bark (it was the holidays, and the peppermint helped with heartburn)
  • Molasses Cookies (again, holidays, and I just love sweets)
  • Plenty of hearty soups (both to keep warm and make us feel better) made with my homemade Chicken Stock
  • Also while sick, we discovered (thanks to my sister) this juice/smoothie which is delicious! Zemirah chugs a big glass of her “green juice” every morning.
  • Peanut butter and honey toast for busy mornings or afternoon snacks
  • Same as the first trimester, but I couldn’t get enough of my Roasted Chicken with Carrots
  • Also same as the first trimester, but plain Greek yogurt with berries, honey, and granola – another breakfast fav!
  • Lemon-y kale sauteed in butter (yum!) at least twice a week!
  • I could finally stomach eggs again toward the end of my first trimester, so we have also had plenty of big breakfasts (eggs, uncured bacon, more lemon-y kale, avocado, toast…) both for breakfast and/or dinner. Always a quick, delicious option!

I am sure there were more foods I loved, but I didn’t have strong cravings, and I was just trying to keep things simple during this time – lots of frozen veggies, baked sweet potatoes, and simple proteins.

How I Exercised

As I mentioned in my First Trimester Recap, exercise has greatly reduced pregnancy symptoms for me. Because the second trimester is the honeymoon trimester, I was already feeling pretty good to begin with, but exercise helped me stay energetic and feel my best on top of beginning to prepare my body for labor!

At least twice a week, I would do a Fit4Mom class, even if it was just my two Stroller Strides classes I instruct. I also began to make yoga a regular part of my exercise routine again – at least once a week. At the suggestion of my midwives, I looked up Spinning Babies and incorporated many of their recommended activities into my yoga flows – including psoas/hip flexor stretches, lunges, squats, and a safe and simple inversion. While the weather was nice, I would try and go walking once or twice weekly without pushing Zemirah in the stroller. It doesn’t hurt that walking all by myself listening to the birds and worship music is one of my favorite things to do. All of these activities make me feel my best, they are movements that make me happy, and are great for preparing my body for labor!

Other Second Trimester News

During the second trimester we also discovered the Baby is in fact Baby Girl and everything looks good and healthy! The doctor who did my sonogram said that he thought she would be small, but currently, as she is simultaneously pressing into my ribs (both sides!) and my hip, I don’t see how that could be possible. I can’t wait to find out how big she is; see her face, who she looks like, and sniff her little newborn head. Okay, now I’m crying.

We also ran the normal gestational diabetes blood work towards the end of my second trimester and saw that everything looked normal with my blood sugar, but that I am low on iron. So at the suggestion of my midwives, I’ve been eating a little (lot) of dark chocolate every night – just following doctor’s orders 😉

The honeymoon phase of pregnancy definitely flew by in a rush of holiday fun/madness and ended with a sick house, but I enjoyed this trimester. I was able to start getting to know my newest little girl; when she is most active, what foods she seems to like (she kicks a lot after a protein packed meal), and even begin playing with her! Oftentimes after dinner, we will all take turns pressing “Baby Sister” and then feeling her press back. I know she will add a fun new dimension to our family, and I’m so excited to meet her in about six weeks!!!

Hopefully before she makes her appearance I will be able to write a third trimester recap + a list of meals I’m stocking our freezer with, but until then, feel free to read my other family blogs! First Trimester RecapZemirah’s Birth StoryMy Postpartum Journey are just a few blogs about my extremely limited parenting experience, and 23 Pounds and Other Non-Scale Victories and Traveling with A Pinch of Crazy are more specifically food related. Hope you can find something to read here that is helpful for you and where you are in life! Embrace this life stage, whatever it may be for you…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

Hash Brown Cups

Wow I can’t believe it is 2020! I haven’t written in so long because Zemirah and I had the flu over the holidays, and I am just now feeling better after a month of the yuckies. Technical term. Anyways, I certainly hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start! Now that I’m finally feeling better, I am turning my attention to the baby’s room because she will be here in about 2.5 months! *insert shocked face* I hope to give you all a few more new recipes before I take an extended break, but as always, follow along on social media (clickable links on the sidebar or at the bottom of this page) to keep up with the fun/craziness!

Okay, so back to the new year. More often than not, the new year comes with resolutions to declutter, eat healthier, get into the gym more, and all that good stuff. (My resolution/word for this year is to “release” AKA stop being a control freak. Oops.)  I want to help people with their eating habits because I truly believe what we put in our bodies is the most important thing for our physical, mental, and emotional health. Breakfast is “the most important meal of the day” yet so often rushed and overlooked. These Hash Brown Cups are the perfect breakfast recipe to make ahead of time, pack up to take to work, or even eat on the road, and you can top them with avocados or veggies for extra nutrients. I think these little breakfast cups (and, of course, coffee!) will get your mornings off to a happy, healthy start!

Hash Brown Cups


Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of frozen, shredded hash browns
  • 3 tbsp of your favorite cooking oil (such as avocado oil)
  • Desired seasonings (I used salt, pepper, and spicy garlic salt)
  • 10 eggs
  • Desired toppings (greens, avocado slices, tomato slices, cheese, etc.)

Directions

  1. Line or grease 10 muffin tins.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  3. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook hash browns until brown and slightly crispy.
  5. Season as desired.
  6. Press the hash browns down into muffin tins.
  7. Crack eggs on top of the hash browns and season as desired.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until whites are set, and the yolk is the way you like it.
  9. Once cooled, store covered in the fridge, top with desired toppings, and heat to enjoy for an easy, filling breakfast!

For more breakfast recipes you can prep ahead of time, check out my Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight OatsBreakfast Bites, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Chia Pudding, and Fruit and Nut Granola. Let me know what your goals are for 2020 (and if it’s just to make it or stop being a control freak like me, that is a-okay!), and what kinds of foods you want to eat more of this year! Soak up this fresh start, set realistic goals, eat your breakfast…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Marbled Peppermint Bark

I have your new Christmas time addiction: peppermint bark. It’s dangerously simple, nothing is more Christmasy than cool peppermint, and nothing is more luxurious than dark chocolate and white chocolate swirled together in melty, delicious harmony. Now, these are not my usual refined sugar free treats because white chocolate has a lot of sugar, but making a few batches this holiday season won’t hurt! Eating “cheat” foods you enjoy without guilt, to me, makes living a healthy lifestyle honestly enjoyable! I love healthy food, and I love how I feel when I eat intuitively, and sometimes my intuition (especially when pregnant during the holidays) says to eat peppermint bark. No need to feel deprived this holiday season – enjoy your sugary treats if it feels good for your body! I hope this quick and delicious “recipe” (can’t even really call it that) hits the spot and brings holiday cheer!

Marbled Peppermint Bark


Ingredients

  • 8 oz of dark baking chocolate
  • 8 oz of white baking chocolate
  • 6-8 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 4 candy canes, crushed or roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Melt dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; heating for 30 seconds and stirring after each interval.
  2. Once melted, add peppermint oil and stir to combine.
  3. Spread dark chocolate thinly on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  4. Melt white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring after each 30 second interval of heating.
  5. Spoon globs (technical term) of white chocolate on top of dark chocolate, then create the “marbling” by running your spoon vertically then horizontally through both layers.
  6. Top the bark with crushed candy canes.
  7. Chill until solid (5ish hours in the fridge and 2ish hours in the freezer), then break into pieces using a knife. Enjoy the scraps before sharing with your kids 😉
  8. Store in the refrigerator.

 

This Marbled Peppermint Bark, along with my Molasses Cookies, have been made every Christmas since my husband and I were married; it’s a sweet (literally and emotionally) holiday tradition. If you are looking for refined sugar free Christmas desserts, please try the cookies linked above, as well as Two Layer Paleo Fudge, and for Christmas sweet drinks, look no further than my Death by Hot ChocolateSlow Cooker Apple Cider, and Dairy Free Eggnog. Whatever you end up making, I hope it brings some holiday cheer to you and yours! Spend time with your loved ones, indulge this holiday season…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

A Cornucopia of Ideas

See what I did there? Thanksgiving. Cornucopia. But instead of fruit and gourds, my cornucopia is full of ideas for your Thanksgiving menu! To be honest, I only have one extra recipe photographed right now, it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or the holidays (it’s a make-ahead breakfast cup), and all my creative juices are going towards stopping temper tantrums, lessons, and reorganizing to get Zemirah’s big girl room and the baby’s room ready. So that being said, my cornucopia of ideas is all pulled from recipes past, but all linked in this handy dandy notebook post! Hope you can glean some ideas for your turkey day!

Drinks:

  • Slow Cooker Apple Cider – This would be perfect to have simmering in the slow cooker when guests arrive. For adults, add a splash of spiced rum!
  • Death by Hot Chocolate – Perfect to serve alongside desserts; you could even have a fun hot chocolate bar set up by the dessert table. My favorite kind of bar 😉
  • Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer – Another one of my favorite bars is a coffee bar, and if you have creamer options out by the coffee, this is a must!

cider
Slow Cooker Apple Cider

Appetizers:

  • Spicy Deviled Eggs – Everyone loves a deviled egg appetizer, and these have just the right amount of spice thanks to tangy pickled jalapenos.
  • Slow Cooker Meatballs – These tender meatballs are swimming in a flavorful tomato sauce and ready for your appetizer table.
  • Pumpkin Bread with Crumb Topping – A sweeter appetizer, but this pumpkin bread is delicious, and would be so perfectly adorable sliced on a little wooden cutting board. Next to the butter dish of course!
  • Classic Garlic Hummus – The perfect dip to add to your charcuterie board – goes great with crackers, breads, or veggies!

deviled eggs3
Spicy Deviled Eggs

Main Dish:

  • Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey with Gravy – If you’re going for a classic main dish at your Thanksgiving dinner, turkey it is. This turkey has a garlic, herb compound ghee (you could also use butter) rubbed under the skin for moistness (gag. I said it.), with a squeeze of grapefruit juice for acidity. With great flavors, perfectly crispy skin, and tender meat, this is a crowd pleaser, and it comes complete with a simple gravy recipe.
  • Roasted Chicken with Carrots – This is a perfect main dish for a smaller crowd. It’s still a whole bird, just smaller, but with bright flavors, crispy skin, and a side dish built right in!

turkey1
Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey

Side Dishes:

  • Maple Dijon Roasted Carrots – Nothing says fall more than carrots roasted in a maple syrup glaze. These are tender, sweet and salty, and perfect to go alongside your Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Sweet and Sour Broccoli – The name says it all. A little sweet, a little sour, and a little spicy. Change up your steamed broccoli game!
  • Roasted Potatoes – Easy, “cheesy”, crispy potatoes are delicious with any meal, so why not make it easy on yourself and toss these in the oven alongside your turkey?
  • ABC Brussels Sprouts – A is for almond, B for balsamic, C for cranberries; this sweet and tart veggie side is sure to please the taste buds and the eye with it’s festive colors.
  • Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes – You gotta have mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving! Why not make them healthier by being dairy free?
  • Crispy Brussels Sprouts – Delight your guests with a salty, crispy, roasted side.

brusselssprouts3
Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Desserts:

  • Pumpkin Pecan Muffins – For those with the not-so-big sweet tooth who want just a touch of dessert with their after-dinner coffee.
  • Apple Pie Parfaits – Adorable single serve parfaits are full of all the flavors of apple pie.
  • No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust – A classically plain “cheese”cake: sweet, mildly tart, with a nutty, chocolatey crust has endless topping possibilities! Guests can create their own with their favorite fruits or nuts.
  • Microwave Molten Lava Cake – These personal chocolate cakes are decadent, easy, and perfect for a smaller crowd.
  • No Bake Pumpkin Pie – A classic remade with a healthy twist!
  • Molasses Cookies – You have to have a cookie jar on the dessert table, and these are the cookies to fill it with! Full of warm, spiced flavors, and sweetened with molasses.
  • Pumpkin Spice Cake – All the flavors of fall in a gorgeous bundt cake, bathed in dark chocolate ganache and topped with candied pumpkin seeds. If this cake doesn’t say “fall”, I don’t know what does!
  • Two Layer Paleo Fudge – It’s time to pull out the holiday favorites, like fudge! This fudge has a layer of almond butter topped with chocolate; add a sprinkle of sea salt on top, and it’s fudgy perfection!

fudge1
Two Layer Paleo Fudge

 

Hopefully this list can give you some ideas for a healthier, yet delicious Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a blessed holiday, enjoy your family, enjoy the food…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

Maple Dijon Roasted Carrots

How is it already mid-November?! I’m pretty sure it was just New Year’s Day 2019 and now the year is almost over…not to mention, the holidays are right around the corner. The countdown to Thanksgiving 2019 is on, and I have to tell you, as a pregnant woman in my second trimester, I’m pretty  extremely excited! The pregnant appetite is real these days so I’m speculating I’ll down a second plate plus a dessert plate at least. Anyway, you’re not here for my Thanksgiving day dreams, you’re here for the carrots.

These are special enough for a Thanksgiving side, yet simple enough for a weeknight dinner. Roasting the carrots brings out their natural sweetness, which is only enhanced by maple syrup, counteracted by the tartness of Dijon mustard, and a touch of rosemary adds brightness. I struggle to get Zemirah to eat carrots, but she wouldn’t stop taking these right from the bowl while I was photographing them! I certainly hope your family will like these as much as mine did!

Maple Dijon Roasted Carrots


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of baby carrots, halved lengthwise (large carrots would work, too, but would need to be sliced into quarters)
  • 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp of butter (my favorite brand of grass fed butter) or ghee, melted (or substitute with your favorite cooking oil such as coconut or avocado)
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Lay carrots flat on a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, melt your butter or ghee (if using a liquid at room temp oil, ignore this step)
  4. Combine butter, syrup, mustard, rosemary, and salt
  5. Pour mixture over carrots and stir to ensure all carrots are covered
  6. Roast for 50-60 minutes, stirring halfway through, until fork tender
  7. Store leftovers covered in fridge for a week to 10 days

 

Easy peasy and delicious! The carrots in my Roasted Chicken with Carrots are also amazing, and for more vegetable side dishes check out my Crispy Brussels SproutsSweet and Sour BroccoliABC Brussels Sprouts, plus plenty of potato recipes. I hope this simple recipe inspires you for your Thanksgiving sides, or even as a way to make a weeknight dinner a little fancier – and it never hurts to cover your kids’ vegetables in syrup and butter 😛 Eat your vegetables, like them, too…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

First Trimester Recap

If you hadn’t heard, now you know! Baby Mills #2 is coming in April 2020! I briefly spoke about my pregnancy in my most recent post, and have also shared on my social media, but I wanted to give a more in-depth recap of our journey to Baby 2, how my first trimester went, and what I ate – this is a food blog after all 😛

IMG_5843.JPG

Journey to Baby

On June 25th, 2019 I took a pregnancy test which, much to my shock, came back positive; I didn’t have any symptoms other than being late. We had talked about wanting to start trying soon, but weren’t quite there yet. However, we were so excited and planned to tell our families on July 4th festivities. Sadly, this little one never made it that far – we lost our darling babe on July 2nd. Due to our recent move, a surprise pregnancy, and the holiday, it took what seemed like forever to finally get in to see a doctor and make sure everything had passed and was okay. But I eventually found a team of midwives that we (all 3 of us!) adore! They tested my hormone levels to make sure I didn’t have any pregnancy hormones left, and said we could start trying again at any time.

We weren’t exactly “trying”, but also weren’t preventing, and when I had three consecutive days of slight, annoying nausea, and still no cycle after the miscarriage, I decided to take a pregnancy test on July 30th. Again, positive! We were simultaneously nervous and over the moon. Almost immediately we visited the midwives to test my hormone levels and make sure they were rising appropriately – they were! We even did a very early ultrasound at 6 weeks to make sure everything was in the right place, and got to see our teeny tiny grain of rice baby flicker ever so slightly with a heartbeat.

Now I am 18 weeks pregnant (almost halfway!), Baby is the size of a cucumber, and while I still think about, and feel sad about, the sweet baby we won’t meet on this earth, I am so thankful to feel these precious baby jabs in my womb. It is frightening that there are so many variables that can cause a pregnancy to fail, but all I can focus on is that for now I have this little, wriggling life inside of me, and he/she has a rambunctious big sister who loves to kiss them already and even put lotion on them! Rather than fretting about what could be, I will choose to cherish these moments.

10 weeks, 12 weeks, 15 weeks

Symptoms and Cravings

Nausea: the dreaded symptom of all pregnant mamas, yet, this time around, it was an odd comfort to know that my hormones were high and Baby was well! Miraculously, I never vomited due to morning sickness *praise hands* but had plenty of food aversions, uncomfortable nausea, sensitive gag reflex, and was sensitive to smells.

One of the first foods I quickly had to give up was eggs of all kinds. I thought my first pregnancy barf was coming one morning when I was 8 weeks pregnant and peeling a hard boiled egg for Zemirah. Gag! So then instead of our standard boiled eggs and oatmeal (which was also hard for me to stomach), we would usually have toast and a big glass of my Berries and Greens Smoothie; something nice and cold, sweet, and with hidden veggies – which were another food aversion.

I started craving dairy, which we hardly have in the house. I made a big lasagna with gluten free noodles, spinach, and lots of cottage cheese, I also ate cheese-sticks for snacks, bowls of cottage cheese, and made my Spaghetti Bake with Balsamic Glaze with ooey gooey mozzarella! The dairy craving has passed now, but I have found with this pregnancy that my stomach can handle dairy much better than my non-pregnant stomach can.

I have been craving all things tart and sour since the beginning of pregnancy, and still am! Green olives and/or kalamata olives are a standard snack for me, along with pickles or banana peppers, and at the beginning of pregnancy I couldn’t get enough ice cold lemonade! Instead of drinking the overly sugary, overly dyed kind, I chose to get Simply Lemonade, made with water, lemon juice, and cane sugar. A deliciously sweet/tart treat I’ve enjoyed this pregnancy is Annie’s Sour Bunnies – an organic, real sugar chewy treat!

Sandwiches! Oh my word, I could not get enough sandwiches at the beginning of pregnancy. They were light, refreshing, cold, and I could put lots of tart condiments like mustard, pickles, banana peppers, and put extra veggies in there like greens, tomatoes, or cucumbers. Not to mention, I could pile them high with meats! The sandwich craving has passed for now, and I’ve lowered my bread intake, but I was just letting myself eat as much whole grain bread as I needed to to stave off the nausea while filling my belly.

Speaking of meat…yes I craved meat at the beginning of pregnancy. Which was weird for me because I wasn’t like that with Zemirah. Maybe it’s a boy??? But I was all about big, juicy lettuce wrapped burgers or tacos, Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies with pork or beef, and have made a lot of Roasted Chicken with Carrots to satisfy my cravings while getting some vegetables in, too.

My eating habits have pretty much returned to normal now; I still have more carbs than usual due to my growing appetite, but I am eating more vegetables and little to no dairy again. However, I felt perfectly comfortable letting my body dictate how I needed to eat those first few months and just steering it healthier. Because while I might have been craving deep fried mozzarella sticks (yep, I was) I knew I could satisfy that craving and feel better in my body by eating a cheese stick and some crackers with hummus…probably with a handful of olives, too. Yum!

Activity

While pregnant with my first, Zemirah, I struggled to be active and exercise. With this baby, though, I am fortunate to be a Stroller Strides instructor so I have to get outside and exercise at least twice a week! And on those mornings where I thought I wouldn’t even be able to hold down a piece of dry toast, I found that movement and fresh air really helped cure my nausea. My goal for each day is to move my body, whether that’s instructing Stroller Strides, going to one of the other classes offered with Fit4Mom, going for a long walk, and some days when it’s hard to get out of the house, that may just look like some stretchy yoga. One of my midwives told me, “any movement is better than no movement” so if all I can manage one day is a few downward dogs, I’m counting it!

I’ve also given myself more grace to rest and nap this time around. I can usually find a hundred other things to do rather than lay down, but I know I need to get rest for this little baby. Oftentimes, I nap when Zemirah does, but on days where I have to work, I make sure to have time to sit and quiet my brain. Nearly every night, I go to bed early…usually on the couch and then my husband cruelly wakes me up to go to the bed haha! And if I’m feeling extra sleepy when my alarm goes off, I snooze until Zemirah comes and wakes me.

Basically what I’ve learned in this Crazy season of having a toddler, multiple part time jobs, and being pregnant is that it’s all about grace. Grace to not post a new recipe here every week, grace to not have a spotless house, grace to sleep in, grace to eat toast or cheese. And whatever season you’re in, you deserve some grace, too. Eat that dessert, take that power nap, leave your dishes overnight, whatever you need to do for a little breathing room…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

IMG_6135

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

How does time keep escaping me? I blinked and October is almost over! Halloween is a mere 9 days away, and I still haven’t hemmed Zemirah’s Elsa costume, nor have I blogged in over two weeks. Two weeks with no new recipes is officially my longest, albeit accidental, break from my blog. In case you missed it on my social media (click the links at the bottom of this post to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook), we are expecting Baby Mills #2 in April! I’m currently four months along, Baby is the size of a large avocado, and giving me sweet little jabs every now and then. After our miscarriage in July, we’ve been concerned with Baby’s health, but so far everything is looking perfect!

babybump.jpg
Little baby bump when I was 12 weeks along.

Obviously pregnancy along with being the mom of a rambunctious toddler has kept me occupied, in a true Pinch of Crazy way. *insert crazy heart eyes here* Bear with me over these next months; I promise I’ll blog whenever I get the chance! For now, continue relishing your crisply cool fall days while enjoying these delicious, not-too-sweet, healthy Pumpkin Pecan Muffins. Nothing like a homemade pumpkin treat to welcome fall in!

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins


Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of almond flour
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted (here is my favorite brand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of roughly chopped pecans (or buy pecan pieces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 liners. (or use these reusable silicone liners)
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine first 6 ingredients (almond flour through nutmeg).
  4. Create a well in your dry ingredients and add the next 4 ingredients (pumpkin through syrup), stirring until just combined.
  5. Fold in your chopped pecans.
  6. Fill each liner about 3/4 of the way full.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the top bounces back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Serve warm or room temperature with butter and a drizzle of honey (optional but sooo delicious!)

I love this season of pumpkin treats! For more pumpkin recipes, check out my Pumpkin Bread with Crumb ToppingPumpkin Spice Cake, No Bake Pumpkin Pie, and Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer. If you’re searching for more a savory fall recipe, you would probably like my Spaghetti Squash Alfredo with Lemon Butter ShrimpCreamy Tomato Basil Soup, or my Two Bean Turkey Chili. Whatever you end up cooking/baking, I hope it warms your bellies and your hearts! Bask in these gorgeous fall days, nap in the afternoon sunshine, crunch some fallen leaves beneath your feet…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!