Portrait of the Week

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: We attempted a hike while in Tahoe this past weekend, but we got about a half a mile before we decided to call it quits. Carrying a twenty-something pound toddler uphill (minus a pack) is not a wise idea. While our backs were killing us, Berlin quite enjoyed it. Can’t say I would mind getting carried around all the time either.

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Raw Cheddar Crackers

ChedderCrackers

When Berlin first started eating solids, I swore I was not going to feed her the typical toddler snacks; Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, Juice boxes…I stuck with most of my promises, but I eventually caved on the cheddar cracker snacks, opting for Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies rather than the typical Goldfish. I foolishly tricked myself into thinking Annie’s was the healthier option for Berlin, but it turns out they aren’t much better than the alternative (consisting of saturated oils and hidden MSG). But since it only took one taste for Berlin to be hooked, I was forced to come up with a healthier option-one that didn’t leave me feeling guilt ridden after the bag was polished off.

So I did a little research and came across this recipe for Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers. I then did some tweaking of the ingredients, making it a protein packed, gluten free option. Then voila! With very little effort, I had a tasty, healthy replacement for a favorite toddler snack!

Raw Cheddar Crackers
1 cup Quinoa Flour
1 tablespoon ground flax
Dash of Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon sodium free Herbamare
2 1/2 cups Organic {Grass Fed} Raw Cheddar Cheese (I use Organic Valley)
5 tablespoons Organic {Grass Fed} Raw Butter
Approx 1 tablespoon Olive Oil for dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all ingredients (minus the butter and oil) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then add the butter and blend until a dough forms. Add a little olive oil, until a firm pastry dough is formed.

Next rollout out dough on parchment paper and use a cookie cutter of choice to form crackers. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and bake for approx 10-13 minutes. Watch closely, as they burn quickly.

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You may be wondering why I substituted raw cheddar cheese and butter for your standard organic options. As you already know, I myself, don’t eat any dairy, and haven’t for years. I originally planned on doing the same with Berlin, but quickly realized it was going to be a challenging promise to keep (while possible, I wasn’t up for the challenge with a toddler). I eventually gave into serving her dairy, but since then have done extensive research, and found that raw, grass-fed sources are absolutely the best option when it comes to eating dairy (or meats, or eggs for that matter). In general, most dairy (even the organic options) are from grain-fed cows, mostly consisting of the grain corn. If you know anything about cows, you will know that cows aren’t grain-eating animals, they are naturally grass-feeding animals. As with other animals, when given an abnormal diet, their system is disrupted, and their natural pH levels are changed. Leaving you, the consumer, with severely, unhealthy milk and other cow provided food options. Cows that are only served a natural, grass-fed diet, on the other hand, are happy, healthy cows (ha! that is a commercial isn’t it!?) and produce cheese that is naturally higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, D, and E. Plus they are free from all antibiotics and growth hormones that are causing mass destruction in our bodies these days.

I will get off my nutrition soapbox and just go ahead and say that you should give these a try for your sweet, little ones. But I will warn you in advance, due to using quinoa flour, they are quite crumbly. I had quite a mess of crumbs that followed Berlin everywhere she went (kid can’t sit still while she eats!). If you want to enjoy them for yourself, I would suggest adding some more spices, perhaps some onion or garlic powder to give it some kick. Enjoy!




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Portrait of the Week

12.52

“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: This is Berlin: in constant motion, silly, spastic, and in love with life.

 

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Homemade Antibiotic

ImmuneBooster

It seems everyone around me has been sick lately; various flu viruses, runny noses, and constant coughing. Both Berlin and Ryan fell victim to the hacking cough and were battling with it for weeks. Ryan’s immunity was down, no doubt, to his continuous stress at work, and Berlin…well, seeing as nap time is like World War III around here, I blame lack of sleep for her compromised immune system. Luckily for me, I remained the healthy one in the family. But with both of them being ill, I knew I had to step up my game and figure out a way to quickly boost their immunity.

I’m a firm believer in the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to ward off illness and disease, and I try to avoid medications and antibiotics at all cost, especially for Berlin. So when illness strikes, I look to the kitchen first for means of healing our family.

Generally my go to when fighting off sickness, is by making large amounts of fresh, homemade juices. I pack them with green vegetables; kale, spinach and parsley, then add lots of ginger and lemon. But a few months ago, Ryan forwarded me a link with an amazing recipe for a homemade antibiotic that I was immediately sold on, and have been drinking on a daily basis since.

This “master cleansing tonic” (as they call it) is powerful stuff. It helps fight off illness; both viral and bacterial, and helps strengthen the immune system. Its chalked full of natural, healthful ingredients that are known to boost immunity: apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Its simple to make, and takes very little to provide you with crucial, infection fighting benefits. If you need any further motivation, apple cider vinegar is known to help reduce fat, so if you’re trying to lose weight, this will only further benefit your health.

Master Cleansing Tonic:
24 ounces Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 fresh peppers (I used one Serrano and one Thai Chili)
1/4 grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons horseradish
1/4 cup grated fresh turmeric

Place all ingredients in a large mason jar (or separate into two smaller ones) and fill the jars with apple cider vinegar. Shake well to mix the ingredients. Then place in a cool place and allow to ferment for two weeks (shaking frequently). Once the two weeks are up, strain the liquid and place back in mason jar. You can then store in a cool place again (no need to refrigerate) and enjoy on a daily basis.

I suggest beginning with a tablespoon or less until you get used to the taste, then increase to about a shot size every morning-more if you are feeling under the weather. I give Berlin a teaspoon with some honey and she takes it down just fine.

Whip some up right away, you don’t want to wait until you are coming down with something, since it takes two weeks to brew.

Here’s to being healthy!



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Portrait of the Week

11.52

“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

I obviously can’t commit to a weekly project at this point. However, I value having these images of Berlin at the end of the year, and it forces me to pull out the camera and keep practicing. So for now I will attempt to take a photo of her each week, but I’m not making any promises (hence the change of the title for this post).

Berlin: She is growing up so quickly. Her language develops daily and each day she surprises me with off the wall statements and new skills. I am trying to remember to cherish each day with her, as she will never be this little again.

 

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Lately

BakerBeach

Life has been incredibly busy, yet wonderful and inspiring lately. In a blink of an eye, weeks have gone by and I haven’t made one single post to this space.

There are moments I intentionally step away from posting, mainly feeling like its such a time suck, taking away time spent with my family. But these past few weeks, all my time has been filled embarking on an exciting, new adventure; launching my own business.

All my time and effort has been put into studying for my Pre & Postnatal Fitness and Nutrition certificate. As most of you who read this blog know, health and fitness are a big part of who I am. It’s something I’m very passionate about, and I’m thrilled that my passion can be used to help other women feel healthier and more confident about themselves.

More information will be up on the blog soon, but for now I just wanted to let you all know what has been keeping me away lately. I’m beyond excited to share this information and get started on a new, healthful adventure!



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6/52 & 7/52

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

I am forever running behind, so here’s to catching up.

Berlin: One of her favorite things to do is dismantling the couch and building a fort. Now if she only knew how to put the couch back together…

She obviously doesn’t understand the concept of Valentines Day, but she sure did enjoy it. She was showered with gifts and we had endless fun making holiday crafts.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity.

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Sugar and Toddlers

Sugar

Admittedly, prior to having Berlin, I paid little, to no attention to the amount of sugar in my food. I would look at the fat or protein content rather than check out the possibly high amount of sugar lurking in my food. Honestly, I figured, since I didn’t eat candy bars or drink soda, my daily sugar intake must be at a healthy level. But once I began the journey of feeding solids to Berlin, I realized I was sorely mistaken and the amount of sugar I was ingesting as a relatively healthy individual was shocking.

It wasn’t until I began reading nutrition labels more closely and understanding the amount of sugar in my food,  that I discovered, by noon on any given day, I was easily downing nearly 35 grams (or 9 teaspoons) of sugar (and that only included eating one Clif Bar and drinking a homemade fruit smoothie). I sadly assumed that companies, like Clif Bar, that touted healthy living, with a belief in organic and sustainable living, were making products that were nutritious and low on simple sugars. But reality is, these bars are no healthier than a chocolate bar. In fact, the Carrot Cake bar I tricked myself into thinking was healthy, was giving me a whopping 25 grams of sugar in one serving. That is more than a Hershey’s chocolate bar by a surprising 6 grams. Shocking, right?!

Once I made this realization, I really started investigating the amount of sugar in the everyday food items I was buying for Berlin. I also began researching the scary truth about sugar’s effect on toddlers, and the actual amount of sugar that is healthy for a toddler to be ingesting per a daily basis. What I discovered was that although I am one of the more strict parents when it comes to Berlin’s diet, she too, was eating far too much sugar.

So what is a healthy amount of sugar for our toddlers to be ingesting? According to the American Heart Association, preschool age children eating a 1000 calorie diet, should be eating no more than 3 teaspoons, or 12 grams of sugar per day. The shocking reality is that toddlers are far surpassing that number, and according to the AHA are eating on average nearly 12 teaspoons (or 48 grams) of sugar daily. If you stop to think about it, that is really rather gross. Imagine taking 12 teaspoons and pouring it into your toddlers food each day, doubt you could do it with a good conscience.

So now that you know what the recommended intake is, lets look at the sugar content per serving in some of the foods toddlers are eating on a daily basis:

Stonyfield’s yoBaby organic yogurt: 13 grams
GoGo Applesauce Squeeze: 12 grams
Trader Joe’s Organic Probiotic Yogurt Smoothie: 23 grams
Happy Tot Organic fruit packets: 15-20 grams
Earth’s Best Instant Oatmeal: 8 grams
Sprout Organic Fruit Snacks: 13 grams
Nature’s Path Organic Koala Crip Cereal: 11 grams
Nature’s Path Organic Chocolate Crisp Bars: 8 grams
Plum Organics Jammy Sammy cereal bar: 11 grams

What is really sad, is that all of the above mentioned foods are organic and supposedly “healthy” brands. If you’re like me, you assume that organic products, made specifically for children, are nutritious options for your toddler. But most of these options supply your toddler with a full day’s amount of recommended sugar in just one serving.

Now lets discuss one of the biggest culprits of “through the roof” sugar levels, that are touted as a healthy option for our children, 100% juice boxes. I would say its safe to say that nearly half of children drink these on a daily basis, and I would assume that most parents think that its providing their children with the healthy nutrients that are needed each day. But in actuality, its like handing them a glass full of sugar with a bunch of unnecessary calories. To better understand this, let’s look at how juice is made. On average, it takes 3-4 medium apples to make one 8 ounce box of apple juice. Each apple has approximately 25 grams of sugar and 5 grams of healthy, much-needed fiber. The issue is, in the process of juicing, the cell walls are broken down and the fiber is eliminated, and fiber is what is needed to slow the metabolization of sugar and make you feel full. Therefore the body metabolizes the juice just the same as a sugar laden soda, wrecking havoc on your liver, and leaving you feeling hungry.

So now that you are throughly frightened, you should understand what to look for when purchasing foods for your little one. Here are the few names that sugar is hidden in:

  • High Fructose corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Cane sugar
  • Rice syrup
  • Anything with an “so” ending; dextrose, fructose, glucose

So how do we keep the sugar content down when its lurking everywhere? My best suggestion is to be mindful of food labels, anything with less than 5 grams of sugar is a safe bet. Serve plain, whole fat yogurt instead of fruit flavored (you can always jazz it up with some granola or whole fruit), serve whole foods; fruits, veggies and whole grains. Eliminate all empty calorie food options; juice boxes, high sugar cereals, fruit bars…and offer only water, milk or a homemade smoothie as a beverage option. Lastly, never buy anything with sugar being the number one ingredient listed on the package.

Of course, we can’t be perfect all the time. So just remember moderation is key. If your chid enjoys a high sugar fruit bar that day, watch what they eat the rest of the day. Be completley mindful of your child’s diet, you are in control of their health and are setting up their eating habits for life.



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5/52

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: Some mornings she wakes up bright and cheerful, and other mornings…well, not so much. This particular morning she was on top of the world running up and down the hall; loving life.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity.

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Relationship Resolution

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Over a cocktail this past New Year’s Eve, Ryan and I discussed one of our goals of the year; spending more one on one time together as a couple. I feel like this topic comes up often, and seldomly do we do anything about it. In typical fashion, we brought up how we make little time for one another, instead, putting all our focus into either Berlin or work. We exchanged a few thoughts and ideas on how we might resolve it, but per usual, after the discussion was over, we forgot all about it and carried on with our relationship.

Then last week I saw the brilliant post by my friend Ashley that really got my wheels spinning. Rather than making some grandiose resolution, Ashley and her husband decided to do a small resolution per week, making each resolution much more manageable. They wrote each resolution down on a piece of paper, put them in a jar, and will choose a new one each week to tackle. Sound like a fantastic idea?! Well, I believe so, and and Ryan and I are putting the idea to test.

To begin, we separately came up with twenty-five resolutions each (fifty, because we started late in the game). Each resolution is one that we feel would be a fun and unique way to shake up our routine and help us spend more time together. We then combined our ideas (deleting the repetitive ones) and put them in a spreadsheet. We then came up with the super techy way of using a random picker via our spreadsheet to chose a new resolution weekly.

Here’s just a few examples of some of our weekly resolutions:

  • Taking a cooking class together
  • Going on a dinner cruise in the bay
  • Building a puzzle together
  • Having a picnic at the top of Twin Peaks
  • No work allowed at home
  • Turn off all screens in bed
  • Write a letter to one another

Thus far we have conquered week one of our resolutions; “enjoy dinner at a new, ‘hot’ restaurant.” We planned for a sitter on a Wednesday night (yes, we went out on a Wednesday!) and enjoyed a lovely, four course meal at one of the newest restaurants in the city (let me tell you, there are many!). It was wonderful to break up our usual routine and get out in the middle of the week. Plus we got to enjoy a full two hours of talking to one another-without the interruption of a spastic two year old.

We are now onto week two and tackling our second resolution; “put down all devices and listen to one another.” I’m looking forward to being more conscious about our screen time. It directly affects how we communicate with one another, so this week will be an interesting test of our ability to break our strong technological habits.

There are so many more on our list that I’m super psyched about, this resolution per week idea has really gotten me excited and creates something fun for us to look forward to.

What are some of your resolutions? Is spending more time with your loved one a priority for you as well?



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