Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 2

Alright so we are halfway through the first month of the new year, and… wow. Things are already stressful, there is tension everywhere, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, get swept away with emotion, and drown in anxiety.

I have been going to counseling (for the third time in my life; no shame here) since March; I started going as a preventative measure before I had our second daughter, Selah, to help avoid postpartum depression/anxiety this time around. Then after the first two meetings with my new counselor, the world flipped upside down, and everything turned dark, a little scary, and a lot stressful. So on top of dealing with the stress of a new baby, I, like everyone, was dealing with the stress of current events, but my counselor advised me to really look at what I can control.

So what can I control to reduce my stress? Well, I can exercise because I know that when I move my body lovingly in a way that feels good to me (that is the key), those happy hormones will flood my brain and relieve some stress. I can make sure I don’t consume too much refined sugar, as I have found over the years that eating sugary treats will work against me by making my heart race and my stress rise. I can make sure that I feed myself and my family whole, healthy foods that will nourish us and make us feel happy and healthy (as always, with A Pinch of Crazy!), and this is really what got me through this week! Knowing that I am doing the best for my family to keep us all healthy, and make sure I’m doing what I can to reduce my stress.

On top of the upsetting news that is constantly swirling around us, this past week, my family got hit with that virus. I debated writing about this because I felt like I would get some backlash. However, at the start of the pandemic, with the professional advice from both my counselor and my midwife, we decided it would be unwise for me to self-isolate with a new baby. Due to my history with postpartum depression and anxiety, the best decision for me was to continue seeing my family, and I am so glad that I have! Both David and I have large families of origin (he has three siblings, I have four sisters, everyone’s married, and I can’t even add all the grandkids off the top of my head), so we figured eventually someone would catch the virus. It was David, my husband, but thankfully he is feeling fine now (though his smell is still slowly returning), and we finished up our quarantine yesterday.

So, yeah. All in all, a stressful start to 2021, but we had a fun snow day on Sunday, we are all healthy, and I feel thankful to control what I can. Please enjoy these happy snow day pictures to take your mind off your troubles! I hope this easy, yummy meal plan can give you some ideas for healing, healthy food for your family!

Here is what I had when taking my “kitchen inventory”:

  • Carbs- a little bit of brown rice, half a box of spaghetti noodles, a few packages of grits, oats
  • Protein- half a bag of frozen shrimp, ground beef, a little bit of Greek yogurt, nut butter, cheese, Cliff bars + Z bars, hummus
  • Produce- avocados, cucumber, apples, baby carrots, cilantro, frozen blueberries, bananas, lettuce

Starting with these few items, I made a menu for breakfasts, dinners, and snacks, then got my grocery order in. I ended up only planning for four dinners this week because my mom brought us a meal (which she just dropped on our porch while we said our masked hellos) on Tuesday since we had to miss out on my dad’s birthday dinner over the weekend.

Like I did last week (you can read last week’s plan here), I will share our meal plan with recipes and/or short directions, and any baby modifications necessary. We do baby led weaning, so while she typically eats what we do, sometimes there are modifications necessary, especially since Baby and I usually eat dairy free.

I am also trying to start implementing more of a schedule for meals and snacks with Z; otherwise she will want to eat snacks all day. I try and offer snacks that have protein and fat so that she feels fuller longer. I am always learning, and get excited to learn new things, about feeding these little ones!

Two resources that I have loved in regards to feeding my family healthy foods are Kids Eat in Color on Instagram, and the Doctor Moms Podcast (formerly known as “Whole Mamas Club”). Also from these wonderful health-minded moms, I have learned about some supplements, so while this is different from just a meal plan, I will also share the vitamins/supplements we were taking this week to get back to full health.

I hope you can find something that works for you and your family this week, take what works for you, leave what doesn’t. Enjoy!

Breakfasts:

  • Baked oatmeal again with blueberries, bananas, and almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with honey, cinnamon, granola, and berries
  • Breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese, avocado, and salsa (for our slower mornings… which were almost all of them due to quarantining)
Spicy Garlic Salsa for our breakfast burritos

Snacks:

  • Hummus again with pretzels, carrots, and cucumber slices (for Selah I spread her hummus on toast or meat)
  • Fruit pouches for Z and Selah
  • Apple or banana slices served with peanut butter
  • Hard boiled eggs (sometimes serve with mayo and/or mustard for flavor and extra fat)
  • Cliff bars or Larabars for the grownups, Z bars for Z

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches with nitrate free turkey lunch meat or uncured ham
  • For Z’s school lunch this week (thankfully was the day after our quarantine ended!) I packed healthier vanilla wafers and strawberries for her snack, and for lunch a half a turkey sandwich, baby carrots, pretzels, and bunny fruit snacks

Dinners:

  • Monday: shrimp and grits *with cheese for those that could have it* and broccoli
  • Tuesday: meal from my mom plus any leftovers from the night before or weekend
  • Wednesday: spaghetti *I used this sauce recipe* with sautéed squash on the side
The sauce used for my spaghetti – great on noodles or veggies
  • Thursday: black beans and brown rice with avocado and cilantro on top and guacamole with plantain chips *I wish I had this recipe posted, but I cook dry beans in the instant pot (after soaking) with broth and water, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and lots of spices*
  • Friday: burritos/burrito bowls using leftover beans, rice, guac, plus sautéed bell peppers and onions, and turkey taco meat *will cook this taco meat*
Guacamole for beans and rice/burritos
  • Saturday and Sunday: last week’s highlights 🙂 AKA leftovers

There you have it! Our meal plan for a family of four – three meals and two snacks a day – this week’s grocery store total came out to $97, which is really pretty good! I’ll see what I can get it down to next week.

As far as supplements and vitamins go, usually I like to rely on food as our medicine, but we have been taking these off and on for months now, but really consistently these last few weeks. I love the Garden of Life vitamins/supplements as they are made from only whole foods, so I will be linking those below:

For David and me:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D every three days
  • Echinacea
  • Zinc

For just me:

  • Prenatal vitamin (not pregnant!)
  • Omega-3 to help with getting fattier breastmilk

For just Z:

For just Selah:

  • Vitamin D (does not come through breastmilk)

For all of us:

  • Elderberry syrup made with maple syrup
  • Plenty of healthy food, limited dairy (increases mucous production) and refined sugar (lowers immune support), and outside time!!!

Thank you for following along with our meals and health journey this month. I am far from perfect and know I could always do things better, so I always enjoy learning more about health and food, but I love sharing with others some of the easy things we do in our home for our health. I truly hope this helps someone in some small way! Stay healthy, have fun cooking and caring for yourself and your family… and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

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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!

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Cheesy Popcorn

This is my first post in two weeks, and I apologize, but I needed to take a break from the work that I could these last few weeks. A surprise pregnancy followed by a heart shattering miscarriage left me reeling with grief and unable to do much more than the bare minimum. I will probably write more about my miscarriage experience someday, but for now I will just write a recipe for a classic comfort snack. Popcorn!

I don’t know about you, but when I am going through a hard time, food is the ultimate love language – people bringing meals (or coffee!), buying food, or making snacks is the kindest gesture of solace – it helps me know I’m not alone in my sadness, and I have people truly thinking of me. After discovering the perfect cheesy popcorn ratio, my sweet husband would often make us a big batch of this popcorn and then we would cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie, and during these past few weeks, it was a welcome comfort. So now I will gift you with this Cheesy Popcorn recipe, and you can use it to comfort yourself in sad times or just to spice up your Friday night movie nights!

Cheesy Popcorn


Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp of nutritional yeast

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add kernels to hot oil, cover, and wait for them to pop, shaking your pan occasionally.
  3. Pour popped corn into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add melted butter, salt, and nutritional yeast while still warm.
  5. Enjoy!

I hope this tasty, quick, and easy snack recipe brings some levity to your life. You can get these cute popcorn holders here – perfect for a family movie night or a party! As always, you can find many more easy recipes on my site – for more snack-y recipes check out my Oven Baked FriesSpicy Garlic Chicken NachosKale Chips Two Ways, and dips like Simple Guacamole and Spicy Garlic Salsa. Hug your loved ones tight, live in gratitude…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; it is a small commission for me, which allows me to keep recipe testing. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

23 Pounds and Other Non-Scale Victories

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I didn’t know if I would ever write a post like this because I don’t want this to be a “weight loss” blog, but here I go. I have shared a little bit about my food journey in my first post, here, and how the Whole30, as cliche as it may sound, truly changed my life and my relationship with food. If you want to learn more about Whole30, I highly suggest reading The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig, the co-founder of Whole30. And for you mamas out there, I have found such encouragement about raising healthy eaters in the Whole Mamas Club podcast; I hope you check out these resources!

As far back as I can remember, even back to first or second grade, I wanted to lose weight; I was a chubby, but happy, girl with crazy, curly hair (in fifth grade, I was nick-named Tornado thanks to my ‘do) who just wanted to fit in like other kids. I recently went through some old journals where I was in 7th grade and documenting everything I ate while berating myself for eating Oreos…a 12-year-old should be out having fun with friends, not worrying about calorie consumption. It was the same all throughout high school, but add in some mean boys commenting about how “you aren’t as hot as your big sisters”, or “you’re prettier when your hair is straight”, so I kept trying to fit in and meet their beauty standards.

Then in college, I gained the classic “freshman 15”, but tried not to worry about it; however, anytime I would go out for late night fast food with my friends, I would feel guilt to the point of wanting to vomit up everything I just ate; that was “bad” food only contributing to my weight gain. I eventually cut out sodas and started running my sophomore year; I also started experiencing symptoms of IBS, so I lost weight fairly quickly. I was, and still am, so proud of myself for running a half marathon that spring semester, but my relationship with food was still off, and my anxiety was high.

Throughout college and into my first year of marriage, my IBS got so bad that if we went out to eat, I would be sick all night. My darling husband saw me throwing up while sitting on the toilet so many times during our first year of marriage that I’m sure he wondered what he had gotten himself in to! On top of being sick so often, I was also an anxious mess, and had gained about 12-15 pounds in our first year and a half of marriage. I had just decided to start working out more regularly when we found out *surprise!* that I was pregnant. So of course from there, I just kept gaining and getting more and more anxious; despite my efforts to have a healthy pregnancy, I gained 40 pounds.

After our sweet Zemirah was born, things took a turn for the worse in a battle of postpartum depression and anxiety (which I will write about at another time), and I not only “hated myself” (actual words I said to David), I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion, had zero energy, and felt absolutely out of control with everything: life, weight gain, motherhood, and fear. I tried the best *I* could (never truly handing my burdens to God), to deal with my anxiety, and cooked us healthy-ish meals, but because I was nursing, ate so many carbs, and not the healthy ones like fruit, whole grains, or potatoes. The carbs I consumed were more along the lines of bread with refined sugar and flour, brownies, cookies, ice cream, doughnuts…you know. Carbs, dairy, and sugar are the staple comfort foods when you’re feeling depressed and anxious…but in reality, only make things worse.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2018, Zemirah and I were living with my parents while David was deployed, and I wanted to lose the rest of the baby weight before he came home. I found this “diet” called Whole30, and knew a few friends who had done it. It seemed hard, but I love a challenge, so with nearly all my family joining me, we tackled our first round of Whole30! I was discouraged to learn that I had only lost 5 pounds at the end of it (others in my family all lost 10-15!), but felt so much better about myself that I kept it up, not a strict Whole30, but very clean eating. When I moved back to California, I was surprised to learn that I had lost a few more pounds, now totaling 12 pounds lost! I kept exercising to tone up for David’s return; he was so surprised to see how different I looked! He had just come from a steady diet of pizza, ramen, and soda, and I really wanted him to experience how wonderful the Whole30 was, so we tackled a round together: his first, my second. It was during this round of Whole30, that I really began to notice my non scale victories.

I noticed that my anxiety was greatly reduced; even though we were starting to prepare for a huge career change, I felt down in my spirit that everything really would be okay.  I also no longer struggled with insomnia! I used to take a Melatonin every night before bed just so I could fall asleep, and hardly slept through the night even when Zemirah did, but that was all changing. During my second round of Whole30, I stopped taking Melatonin, and would fall asleep peacefully without help and sleep hard all night, and even if I only got 6 hours of sleep (because, let’s face it, babies wake up early), I would feel so rejuvenated in the morning.

(Just a side note: we are currently a mere four days away from a cross country move, and, though I have my freak out moments, I still generally feel calm, with no chest pain and no insomnia. That is huge for me!)

After that second round of Whole30, I was beginning to notice how much I truly enjoyed working out; I started going to Stroller Strides and doing those hour long work outs twice a week, and on the off days, walking and/or running. I hadn’t run in a while, but I noticed a dramatic increase in my energy levels, and even ran my personal fastest mile! (Once we get moved, I am going to try and break that record again 😉 ) Exercise is much more fun now than it used to be, and I appreciate seeing all that my body can do!

In addition to the changes in exercise, sleep, and anxiety, my IBS is all but gone, and I now know with certainty which foods trigger it. And emotionally speaking, my relationship with food has changed entirely; I don’t view foods as “bad” anymore, but just as something to have very sparingly, and I choose to focus instead on which foods make my body feel good! I’ve found that going through life focusing on the good things (whether food, people, circumstances) as opposed to the bad is a much better way to live.

So, counting from around December of 2017, I have lost a total of 23 pounds. That doesn’t really seem like much; you hear the stories of those pills/shakes/wraps and how you can lose 30+ pounds instantly, but I love seeing the slow change of my body. I have been learning which foods fuel me, which make me feel yucky and anxious (hello, refined sugar), and have been slowly enjoying the process of a true lifestyle change. Weight will fluctuate, and that is simply a fact, so the number on the scale is not as important as the non scale victories! Because, yes, I lost fat, but I’ve also lost anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, mood swings, and low self-confidence!

I am working on, with the help of God, losing the desire for other people’s approval, and finding my true worth in Him! It is my prayer that you can do the same. Celebrate your non-scale victories…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!