Weekday Pancakes

>> Monday, April 30, 2012

I'd like to be the kind of person who thinks ahead. Reality is, I'm not. Stephen often (very sarcastically, of course) calls me "foresight Ashley" because there are so many instances when I just act before thinking. One classic example: Taking a shower when no towels are in the bathroom (or on the second floor, for that matter). I do that at least once a week and have to holler for Stephen to rescue me before the neighbors see something indecent.

At breakfast, I frequently let my appetite get ahead of me. Last week, in fact, I woke up craving a stack of fluffy pancakes. Couldn't get them out of my mind. With no time in the morning to follow a recipe, I figured cereal was a more likely bet. Then I thought about how, for a while, I had tried a seemingly fail-proof approach to keep this sort of thing from happening. I kept a container of dry homemade pancake mix on hand. But I haven't done that in at least a year.

So. I just tossed a couple ingredients into a bowl to see how it'd turn out. And . . . the resulting pancake was pretty fantastic.


To make quick vegan pancakes for two . . .

1 cup wheat flour + 1 tablespoon baking powder + pinch salt + 3/4 to 1 cup almond milk
Mix dry ingredients before adding wet.
Scoop heaping 1/4 cup amounts onto fry pan.
Enjoy.


I've fussed with pancake recipes in the past. This recipe? There's no way I can't remember it for life. Plus, a stack this simple satisfies me almost as well as more complicated varieties. To make them more interesting, all I'd do is add a handful of blueberries or chocolate chips. Maybe a dash of cinnamon or a splash of vanilla.

I thought it'd be nice to share this with you all on a Monday. You have four more days to try it out for yourself! Which leaves me wondering what quick and easy -- but interesting -- recipes do you routinely make for weekday breakfasts? I get caught in these loops of oatmeal blahs and cereal ehhhhs, if you know what I mean.

UNRELATED NOTE ABOUT TECHNICAL STUFF

Thank you, everyone, for your comments, especially on the sugar posts. I am s.l.o.w.l.y working my way through responding (I read every single thing you guys write to us -- but I get bogged down when I try to write back, it's hard to get uninterrupted time these days!), but I have a note about the site I wanted to bring to your attention. For whatever reason, sometimes DISQUS, our comment management system, doesn't load and the Blogger prompt comes up to let people leave comments. A few people end up leaving the sweetest comments using Blogger, but then I'm not able to see them on the site (I get them emailed to me) or respond because DISQUS then kicks in and covers them up, if this makes any sense.

Basically, if you've left a comment in Blogger and not DISQUS during the past that you don't see coming up (and/or I haven't responded) -- I'm not deleting or ignoring you. No, no, no. It's just the clunky nature of what I've set up and I'm sorry! I'm going to try and get it working better. Just know that your words mean the world to me!

That's it for now. Ada's just stopping by to say hi. Hi!


And over on Writing Chapter Three, I shared a video of ANOTHER baby A. No, we're not pregnant again (the title to the post confused a few readers -- oops!). As well, we're posting a Q and A post later in the week and are looking for your baby-related questions!

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Day 1 (Again)

>> Thursday, April 26, 2012

How's eating zero sugar going, Ashley? I've been quiet about it. I'm sure some of you are wondering. For a while, four whole days, in fact, it was fine. I had no desire to bake cookies at 9PM. Then I had a minor setback, but picked up the very next day. Then another setback. Then I was back on again.

And today. Well, today I definitely cemented my status as an emotional eater. Ada's been really cranky -- crying and whining almost all her waking hours -- and I haven't had many opportunities this past week to get a break from it all. Even when I am able to get away, I tend to have trouble letting myself relax because she's not a happy camper with sitters, even when they are her own grandparents. (She cries so much she starts choking. It's terrible! I feel like I hear her even when we're miles upon miles away.)

Plus, the only person she'll take a bottle from is this guy:


I'm not writing to complain about Ada. She's obviously going through some teething or a new developmental milestone. Or general 5-month-old crankiness is more like it, I'm sure. She's allowed. Still, it's wearing on me. And it's why I found myself baking brownies (this recipe) on a Thursday afternoon instead of fixing a healthy lunch.

What can I say? Baking is my release. Eating is, uhhh, the icing on the cakes . . . that I make?


Don't forget the peanut butter frosting!

(1 cup smooth peanut butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 2/3 cup (or more) confectioners' sugar)


Obviously, the recipes aren't my focus with this post. What I wanted to share was something I'm proud of. But first: GOMI. It's rare that (never home)maker makes an appearance over there. Actually, I'm quite flattered that people are reading . . . and, as many of you know, I welcome constructive criticism and like to respond. Anyway, I thought I'd respond directly to a few comments I read regarding my sugar issues and decision to blog about them.

1.) On this sugar-thing being an insincere and pathetic cry for attention. I'm not that calculated or desperate enough for blog fodder. It's something I've genuinely struggled with for a long while and seems to have reached such great heights -- 10,000 times worse -- since I started breastfeeding. (never home)maker is a healthy living blog, so -- naturally -- I decided to share it here with like-minded people who could perhaps help me.
2.) I'm really looking for some help with this one, where a poster said in so many words that I should grow up and simply put the sugar down. Please tell me how that's so easily done! I'm serious! I'd absolutely love a quick fix. For me, it's not that cerebral. I also think it has little to do with my mental or physical age. (And what I gather from all my readers' wonderful comments, I don't think it's that easy for most people.)

I digress. I know a lot of you GOMI ladies like cats (as do I), so I'm presenting this photo of Scully as a peace-offering.


Back to what makes me proud! After making this gigantic peanut butter covered piece of sugary deliciousness, I thought for sure I'd want to eat as much of it as I could handle. So, I dove in and grabbed a generous piece. And then something weird happened: I found it difficult to finish. Even now, several hours later, I'm not jumping at the chance to dip my finger in any frosting or cut myself another slice.

Though my non-detox sugar "detox" wasn't 100% successful or pure, s.o.m.e.t.h.i.n.g has changed in me. I seem to have lowered my tolerance just enough that I'm not eating gross amounts. Actually, the thought of eating more overwhelms me with an ick-factor.

As I wrote previously, my goal with lowering my sugar consumption isn't to eradicate it from my diet entirely. So, this small success is a major accomplishment (however far away I may be from my ultimate goal of going longer and staying stronger). I'm back to day 1 again, but it's OK.

Here we go again!


If you're not into the brownie recipe, check out Writing Chapter Three. Today I posted some tofu "meatball" recipe with an awesome saffron-ginger tomato sauce.

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Peppery Polenta Bites

>> Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thing about that ratatouille recipe is that it doesn't fill us up on its own. That's why I made up these peppery polenta bites to accompany dinner. They were definitely an afterthought. We hadn't made polenta in a while, so I mixed up a batch because I thought it'd go well with all the veggies. Then Ada got fussy/tired/cranky right when I was about to pour it into a large baking dish and chill in the fridge. Her impending nap meant I had some more time to put it into our mini-muffin tin.

(My life is exciting, right?)


Anyway, if you haven't made polenta before, it's quite easy. 

PEPPERY POLENTA BITES

What you'll need . . .
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 

 Method . . . 
  1. Just add the salt to the water and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn heat down to a simmer and whisk in the cornmeal 1/4 cup at a time. Stir vigorously to prevent lumps and bumps. 
  3. Add in the olive oil and keep stirring for around 5 minutes.
  4. Then pour into a baking dish -- in this case, a mini muffin tin -- and chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours.

All you need to do to make them crispy and peppery is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Spritz a baking sheet with olive oil. Then place your chilled polenta bites on the sheet. Spritz each with a bit of olive oil and then generously top with pepper. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes -- until crisp. Serve with dipping sauce of your choice. Or ratatouille goes great with them, too!

In other news, I finally bought a new pair of running shoes last night. For the first time in a year, in fact -- and I desperately needed them. I don't pay attention anymore to the specific mileage guidelines for when to get rid of shoes. Instead, I take each run as it comes and evaluate how my legs feel afterward.

These shoes felt dead these past couple weeks.


I tried on many different shoes, as a few of you wrote me to say the Nike Run + 2 and + 3 didn't feel the same as the type I'm used to. Stephen had me try on the Brooks Pure Connect (my heel felt so wobbly and lower than my toes -- didn't like it at ALL!), Saucony's Kinvara (eh...), and a few other more minimal types.

I tried on the Run + 2s and HATED them. Something about the decorative side plastic-y things didn't feel right on my feet. But when I slipped my foot into the +3s, I fell in love. Too bad the store only had the most obnoxious, neon color known to man. I edited to to mute it out. If you have sunglasses handy, here's the true color.


OK. Secretly -- and I guess now NOT-SO secretly -- I enjoy having a really bright, loud shoe. Makes me feel like I'll seem faster than I actually am when I lace up at races. I completed my first run in them yesterday (a blustery 5.5-miler) and they were glowing. But so was I. I get so anxious switching models of my favorite shoes. I've had bad experiences in the past, but I think I'm in the clear with this one. (PS: Thanks to the ladies who wrote me to help with making up my mind!)

Oh, yeah! And with several coupons and store credits (from using the store's loyalty card), I didn't spend the $100 retail price. Closer to $60. Nice.

Today on Writing Chapter Three I wrote a longer-than-it-needed-to-be post about our toy storage and cleaning situation. I'd love for fellow parents to let me know what they do to wrangle all their loot. My entire house looks like this one corner does right now.

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Ratatouille for Two

>> Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I have a few recipes in the memory bank for nights when I feel like cooking up something healthy with very little effort. Ratatouille is one of these recipes. I mean, what could be simpler/healthier/more satisfying than chopping up veggies, tossing them in a little olive oil + salt + pepper, and roasting for half an hour?

I don't know if what I make is considered a classic or particularly traditional ratatouille. My memory may have failed me with specific proportions throughout the years. But this is how we make it in our house. And if you need some veggies in your life, it's well worth trying out yourself.


RATATOUILLE FOR TWO

What you'll need . . .
  • 2 medium cooking onions, chopped 
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, chopped 
  • 1 medium to large eggplant, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped 
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped 
  • 4 fresh or canned tomatoes, also chopped 
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon (or to taste) black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. And you'll need a rimmed, non-stick baking sheet for this recipe.
  2. As you may notice, all veggies are to be chopped. Coarsely is the thing to think of here. Like in one-inch chunks. 
  3. Once all your veggies are chopped, pour your olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs into a large mixing bowl. Then pour in the veggies. 
  4. Mix with your hands until well-coated. Pour mixture onto your rimmed baking sheet and distribute evenly. 
  5.  Place in the oven and set the timer to 20 minutes. Then take out and mix around. 
  6. Return sheet to oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once during that time to make sure everything cooks/doesn't burn. 
  7. Veggies should be tender but not mushy.
I love making this dish in the summer when I'm able to easily get all the vegetables locally. It's a fantastic feeling when we are able to pick most of them out of our very own garden, too. Which reminds me -- we're in the planning stages of this year's garden and simply don't know what to do.

Last year's planting was a bust and few of our veggies did well. Those that did were eaten by animals and bugs.


Since we have signed up for a CSA this year, we were thinking of making a more elaborate herb garden. Who knows. I figured mentioning it on the blog might get me to actually start planning. What are those of you with green thumbs doing this year?

If you're following Writing Chapter Three, we wrote a post about phase two of our cloth diapering process -- CLOTH WIPES. In our house, cloth diapering isn't a trend. It's a way of life!

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Running After Baby

>> Sunday, April 22, 2012

I finally got a chance the motivation to run my timed mile this afternoon. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to head to the track like I wanted, so I picked one of the flattest runs of pavement I could find. In typical procrastinator-Ashley fashion, I decided to run it after a failed attempt at a long run (it's SO COLD! and I'm already ahead of the LSDs prescribed on my half marathon plan) and after drinking a beer with a large lunch.

Excuses, excuses. But I'm happy with my time. Here's a quick rundown.

Pre-preg PR: 6:48
1 month PP: 8:05
2 months PP: 7:45
3 months PP: 7:29
5 months PP: 7:05

I shaved off 24 seconds since March 1st. And I did it without doing anything to quicken my pace. I think running longer distances has helped (my half is two weeks from today). Otherwise, I've just been doing a few intervals every now and again. I have only 17 seconds until I meet my pre-pregnancy PR. I feel confident I can meet that by the summer if not sooner.

I've received a lot of emails asking about running during my pregnancy and how it's going now. I thought rather than write back individually, I'd answer some of the more commonly asked questions in a quick post. For posts directly related to running during my pregnancy, head over to our Running Page and check out the section titled Running & Staying Active During Pregnancy.

#1: Do you think running during your pregnancy helped you bounce back afterward? If so, how much should I run?

In a word: Definitely. However, I wouldn't classify my running during pregnancy as hardcore . . . nor do I think pregnant women need to keep up an intense regimen to stay in shape during or after pregnancy. During the first trimester, I didn't necessarily have to, but I slowed my paces considerably. After my half marathon at 13 weeks, I dropped mileage also considerably. Toward the end of my pregnancy (around 35 weeks), I was jogging a couple miles at a time on our treadmill -- barefoot at 5.5 MPH. Those last couple weeks, a brisk 4-mile walk was my exercise of choice. Surely keeping up running has helped me get back in shape, but moving -- in any way, shape, form -- was really the key.

There were many times I had to take several days to a week off at a time when I had Braxton Hicks, which -- for me -- started at like 17 weeks. I'd get them every couple minutes all afternoon, for example. On those days, I was instructed to lay on the couch, drink lots of water, and not move a muscle. And I did what I was told. Other days, it was so hot and humid outside (great timing with being huge in the summer!) that all I could do was walk a mile or so. I kept an open mind and even used some light cross-training to keep myself moving.

As far as how much I think pregnant women should run in general? Obviously I can't tell you what will work for your unique situation. Keep in mind that I was able to run a half marathon during my first trimester because I had just come off a long season of marathon-training. Before I got pregnant, I was perhaps in the best shape of my life. I don't think pregnancy is a time to START training for long distance races or to try and meet any other fitness-related goals. My best advice is to roll with it. Take off the watch. Listen to your body and baby. There were more days than I wanted to admit that I just went for a walk or even rested. I did the best I could, and that's all you can really do. Pregnancy isn't the time to set goals or fret about the scale. And mile times? Forget about 'em.

#2: Now that you've run through a pregnancy and know what it's like, do you think you'll do it with future pregnancies?

My answer to this one might surprise you all. I don't know what I'll do for future pregnancies. I certainly want to try to stay active. And running is my favorite sport. However, there were certain aspects of running while pregnant that I truly didn't enjoy. My bladder was always squished and uncomfortable. Breathing became more labored as the weeks went on. I was always concerned with getting my heart rate too high or drinking enough water or making sure I didn't fall on my stomach (I'm prone to falling for some odd reason!). And I do wonder sometimes if running contributed to the number of Braxton Hicks contractions I ended up having. Overall, my experience was a good one. But there are days now when I'm running and I think: "Thank GOD I'm not pregnant. It feels good to not worry or feel uncomfortable anymore!"

I think a lot of it has to do with the individual pregnancy. I carried Ada low since day 1, which I'm convinced contributed to my discomfort. Other women write that running during pregnancy is a blissful experience. I had my ups and downs for sure. So, I guess my answer is: I hope to and will give it a good go. But it really will depend on my specific situation whenever we choose to have another child, which -- by the way -- isn't anytime soon!

#3: What has your biggest challenge been with getting back into shape after baby?

Physically, my speed is returning slowly but surely. Not necessarily as fast as I would like -- yet I can't believe that I'm able to run a near sub-7 minute mile 5 months postpartum. My biggest challenge physically has been some aches and pains in my pelvis, believe it or not. This month I've noticed a big difference for the better. For a while, though, I'd return from a run and just have a general ick-feeling. I may have started back too soon after giving birth, which I'll definitely have to think about with future pregnancies.

Oh, yeah. And being a breastfeeding runner is challenging. Timing runs around feeding sessions. The crazy dehydration. Etc. I am also holding on to a good 6-8 pounds of what I'm assuming is breastfeeding weight. At the end of long runs, I actually do feel heavier than I used to. Though, it could definitely have a big mental component to it.

But I think my biggest challenge has been motivation to run. I feel like I've stuck to my half marathon training plan as well as I've been able. However, there have been multiple times when I've skipped runs or shortened workouts because I didn't feel like running. Or Ada was cranky and emotionally I just didn't have energy. I've lost my desire to push through those daily nagging things that can make workouts fail. And I'm not terribly competitive anymore. I think in a way I lost it when I found out I was pregnant out of necessity to not overdo things. And now, I think it'd be helpful to get some of it back. It might help me with my training.

#4: What are your goals with running these days? Is it realistic with a newborn to train to PR?

Of course I'd like to smash my old race times. I'm amazed by women, like Jen, who can PR by minutes! They inspire me so incredibly much. But a I mentioned above, I just don't have the drive right now. I'm not doing the work necessary. Oh, I do have a goal, though. I would like to run a marathon in spring 2013. I may not be competitive right now, but I would like to finish 26.2 in under 4 hours. My DNF in 2011 left me a bit frustrated because I know for sure I could do it!

I hope to get to an emotional place where I feel like training hard sometime soon. Until then, I'm really happy with how far I've come since November. Balancing being a new mom with getting back into the groove athletically has been, for lack of better words, interesting. It's well worth the effort. And I'm learning new things about myself as new challenges are presented to me. My ultimate goal is to be a good role-model for Ada. I want her to see her mom enjoying being active for years to come.

Someday, I hope to lace up to a race with her. And just the thought of it makes me a little teary-eyed. I'm a runner for life and I can't wait to share my love of the sport with her.

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Freezer FAQs

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012

I think the best thing I did while I was pregnant was make a MONDO-batch of pumpkin chili and freeze it. Seven months later, we're still slurping the stuff on nights when we simply have no time to cook. What a life-saver!

We outlined our process in a post back in November. But we received quite a number of questions related to the whole thing. Too many to answer at the time, when we were caring for a newborn. But it's been almost 6 months. Time to revisit.


Are glass jars the best choice for freezing?

I don't know if I'd consider them the absolutely best choice ever for freezing. However, I don't know what would be. We try to stay away from too much plastic in our household (BPA), and wide-mouth canning jars are much less expensive than freezer-specific glass containers sold. They save space, too! Overall, breakage is the most noted concern of folks who wrote to me.

We haven't experienced any breakage, which we attribute to: 1.) Waiting to fill until the filler (in our case, the chili) cooled to room temperature (and then some in the refrigerator). 2.) Making sure to leave a good portion of empty space at the top of the jar to account for expansion. (We may have left even a bit too much room, but better safe than sorry!)

Does the food taste the same after being frozen for so long?

No. It actually does taste somewhat different. But we expected that. Not different in a bad way. But somehow the flavors have mingled in a new way. And the composition of the veggies/beans changed ever-so slightly. Like they were, well, frozen. A bit bloated is the only way I can think to describe it.

How long does frozen soup/etc. stay good once frozen?

We have a dedicated freezer in our basement set at a low, low temperature. I've read that our chili will stay good for up to a year. In a regular refrigerator/freezer combo, I have read anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

How do you keep track/label your jars?

Simple. We just use a Sharpie marker to write on the top of the jar.

What -- besides chili -- have you frozen?

Applesauce, mainly. And a few other types of soups. Now that we're running low on our supply, I'd like to make more soups, of course, but also stocks, cooked dried beans, pizza sauce, and purees in bulk.

One of our readers (Jodie) wrote that she freezes pancakes, cookies, and muffins. We don't have the right equipment right now, but I would LOVE to make up waffles and have homemade toaster waffles in the house. Need to get on that!

How did you choose the size of the jars?

We have a variety of glass Ball jars. We went with the large (I believe 32-ounce) because we realized that it would contain one complete meal for the two of us. We split it between us and have enough soup to feel full. With other items, like the sauce and purees I mention above, we will likely use the standard 16-ounce variety.

Another reader (Shady) suggests making up family-sized meals and freezing individual portions in muffin tins. I think that's a fantastic idea -- especially for foods we might want to munch on at lunch, when we often don't eat together.

What's the best way to thaw frozen food in jars?

If we have enough foresight, we try to get a jar from the freezer and let it slowly defrost in the refrigerator for a day or two. More often than not, however, we're rushing around in the evenings and make a last-minute decision to eat chili for dinner. On these nights, I put a large stock pot in the sink and fill it with warm -- not hot -- water and set the frozen jar inside. I change out the water a few times until the chili is loosened up and, when it can plop out of the jar, put it on the stove over medium heat and cook until warmed again.

For our entire process, you can check out the original FREEZE post -- the comments are especially helpful, full of tips from our readers. And if you have other questions, we'd be happy to answer them. We're not experts, but we've been through an entire round of freezing and eating now, so we feel like we're getting in a good groove.

Now it's just time to make some bulk meals again and reap the rewards later.


If you follow our home life on Writing Chapter Three, you have two posts to catch up on. The first is all about our new dinnertime routine (plus a tasty dinner idea!) now that we have a baby. And the second is about Ada's new love for momsicles. Yeah. That's right. Breastmilk popsicles.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Pushing Beyond the 5K Mark

>> Tuesday, April 17, 2012

At the beginning of the month, I set a new goal with my running. Not to get faster. Not to run more days each week. Not to PR at any races anytime soon. Nope. My goal is to run a 10K with the jogging stroller. Any pace. And today I got close!

But before we get to that. I have a short story from the weekend. I headed out running Friday morning. Finished two miles and decided to stop home for some water because I was super dehydrated. On the way. I tripped on my own foot and did a nose-dive into the pavement.

Ouch.


It's the second fall I've had this month. The first wasn't my fault. Still. I need to be more careful. I also think my shoes are to blame. I've been wearing them exclusively for a year.

The bottoms are wearing thin. And I've even poked a toe-hole.


I'll definitely be buying Frees again, though I don't think I'll be able to find the same model I've been running in for the past several years. They're a bit out of date by now. Anyone run in the current Frees (Run + edition, I realize there are many kinds) and know if there's much of a difference?

Back to my goal. Today was a gorgeous, sunny day. Stephen had dibs on running after work, which meant I'd have to somehow sneak in my 5-miler between two breastfeeding sessions, making dinner, and Ada's nightly naked time. (It's my favorite part of the day. She wiggles around -- sans cloth diaper -- just chatting away.)

Mid-afternoon, I decided to give it a go with my favorite running buddy.


The first three miles went great. After all, I've been through my 5K jogging stroller plan and comfortable with it for over a month now. But on the way back to the house, I couldn't help but sing Bob Seger's "Against the Wind" over and over to myself. Pushing a stroller against the extra resistance is SO HARD.

Thankfully, Ada was bundled appropriately for a warm, but windy day. I got a few questions about how I dress Ada for jogging stroller time. The answer: As I would dress myself if I wasn't running -- plus a blanket for cold weather. Or a lightweight blanket now that it's spring.


Unfortunately, I can never keep socks on the girl. I found multiple pairs stowed underneath that I had forgotten about.


I took a quick quarter-mile walk-break. No shame in it. And it was just what I needed to complete another 2.5 miles. Not quite a 10K, but I'm less than a mile away from comfortably running that distance with the jogger.

Maybe I'll have to do more weekly workouts with Ada. Maybe.


We got home just as Stephen was returning from his speed workout. Today he did 3x2400 meters at 10K pace (5:23), jogging 800 meters recovery between each. He's going to kill the competition at the half marathon next month.


Another reader question I got after our first jogging stroller post was about how I keep Ada's toys from falling out of the BOB. The answer is quite simple: LINKS. We have a ton of 'em to spare, so I keep several attached to the canopy frame at all times so I can easily snap stuff on there.


It feels good to be able to run farther with the jogger. Ever since I pumped up the tires more, it hasn't been quite as painful to push around. And forget running . . . walking with it is like my favorite thing to do. I usually plop Ada in it and take an hour-long walk for her second nap of the day.

What goals have you worked toward lately?

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Day 4

>> Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm still working my way through all of your amazing and supportive comments on my sugar addiction post. When I wrote it, we were getting ready to leave for a day trip to Ithaca. So, imagine my surprise when I returned home to find that so many of you could entirely relate.

But first, a couple cute photos from the weekend. Ada met her cousin (well -- MY cousin's gorgeous baby). Adorable.


Anyway, I'm on day 4 of a sugar-free experiment. Like many of you suggested, I decided it would be good to take a break from sugar for a while. To reset my system. My tolerance level that is so utterly out of whack . . . where not just one or two, but an entire batch of cookies is what is satisfying. Days 1 and 2 were actually quite easy. I had some motivation from all your comments and from this quest being so new.

Then day 3 (and my longest run since this time last year) happened. I suppose I should have called it, but running distance without the normal levels of sugar in my system was a shock. I felt tired. I felt like I was wearing weights around my waist.

I was a good 30 seconds slower than my usual per-mile pace. But if you look below, you'll see something interesting. I felt wiped. So, I looped around to our house at mile 9 and decided to take some Honey Stingers.


Look at how just a bit of extra sugars changed my pace! I need to get better at fueling myself again. I'll re-learn, I'm sure. I just feel like my body was still in a bit of, again, shock after so drastically changing my eating habits.

After the run, I filled my tummy with all sorts of delicious things. But no cupcakes, cookies, or other refined treats. I usually gorge myself after long runs. I figure I deserve it. Not this week! (I did end up baking a cocoa snack bar -- sans sugar with only 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in the entire thing. I'm still tweaking the recipe, but I'll be sure to share it soon. It was satisfying, but didn't invoke any of the binging habits I tend to get with other dessert-y treats.)

Day 4 has been the hardest day yet. I was home alone with Ada most of the day. Being home is one obstacle. I have all the food in our house at my disposal. Add to it the stress and emotions that go along with dealing with a cranky baby with no other adults in the house. It's . . . well . . . just difficult. But I've stayed strong. Drank water. Ate veggies. Fruit. Anything but what I really, really wanted to sink my sweet teeth into.

I don't know how long I'm going off sugar. A week? A month? Those were the most common suggestions. I'm going to start with a week and see how I feel. I think I'm going through some of the worst of the cravings and feelings right now. I remember when I used to occasionally detox in college, it always seemed like there was this hump I had to go over. Maybe I've hit it? We'll see, I guess.

In the meantime, I'm trying to find a way to satisfy my sweet tooth.


Fruit has been helpful, of course. And tonight's smoothie really hit the spot. It was basically this one, taken from an old post, minus the maple syrup . . . adding a tablespoon of natural, unsweetened peanut butter.

I'm hoping to continue making my way through all your comments soon. They are so thoughtful, so I'm trying to respond to each one. Thanks so much for your continued support. I'd like to write a more comprehensive, detailed post about this whole detox -- what I'm doing, how I'm feeling -- soon . . . but my head is MORE THAN fuzzy tonight because I'm in the height of when I'm usually flooding my system with the sweet stuff.

Breathe in. Breathe out.


If you'd like to celebrate Ada's 5-month birthday with us, check out Writing Chapter Three. We also wrote a bit about how we've found the $60 Sweet Spot with our grocery bill each week.

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Day 1

>> Friday, April 13, 2012

The first step is always admitting you have a problem. Right? Well, that's what I did on Wednesday night after eating tablespoonful after heaping tablespoonful of chocolate chip cookie dough (from this delicious recipe). I had made a quarter batch. Probably a cup in all. And I couldn't stop myself from eating almost all of it in one sitting.

I looked at Stephen and said: "I'm seriously addicted to sugar. I need help."


This wasn't the first episode. I've been trying for weeks, no, months to lessen my sugar consumption. The day always starts out great. A bowl of oatmeal with fruit or some eggs and wheat toast. A lunchtime quinoa salad or hummus wrap. Healthy snacks, too. But at some point during the afternoon, I find myself utterly consumed by cravings. Not for just one cookie or piece of candy. But for a deluge of the stuff.

I try all the usual methods . . .
  • Drinking a glass of water to see if I'm simply dehydrated
  • Doing something -- like cleaning -- to distract myself
  • Snacking on something healthy, like carrots, instead
  • Attempting to sleep more at night or take naps to keep energy levels stable
  • Eating more throughout the day -- maybe I just need more calories?
When all else fails, I try eating just one dessert. Which turns into two. Ultimately three. And so on. I think know during my pregnancy, I let myself slide into some bad eating habits. Generally -- and still now -- I eat very well. I get my vegetables and fruits in and choose whole grains over processed crap. But in the final months of my pregnancy, I let myself eat more and more of the stuff I was craving. My weight gain was spot-on in the lower numbers of the normal range, so I thought all was well.


Those 4 pounds I lost last month? Yeah. After Easter, I'm carrying two of them around my mid-section. But make no mistake -- my motivation isn't entirely weight-related. I've never actually found myself completely addicted to sugar. Like entirely unable to stop eating it. Yesterday I tried my very best to just eat a small portion . . . and then at 9PM, I found myself mixing together another half batch of cookies. Eating several. Feeling awful physically and mentally about it.

I was nearly shaking.


So, what to do? You'd think being a breastfeeding mother would be enough to guilt me into better eating habits for the health of my child. Like with all other addictions, I need to do it for myself foremost. Today is a new day, and despite the fact that I've been telling myself that at the dawn of all days for the past several weeks, somehow this time it's different.

Last night I truly felt like I hit bottom. I mean, 9PM and I am pouring sugar into my mixer? Ridiculous.


Admittedly, it's difficult to have a food blog because I so much enjoy creating tasty recipes -- especially for baking. Like the Chevron Peanut Butter Cookie Bars. (Those didn't last long.) But I think -- at least for a short while -- the sweet stuff will have to be put on hold. Instead, I'll need to focus more on the healthy recipes. After all, (never home)maker is a healthy living blog. I guess I need to remind myself of that.

There's really no how-to part to this post. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. Take it one day at a time, of course. Today is day 1. Take some time to put together a list of resources. Look up methods that have worked for others. Really look at why I'm eating so much sugar in the first place.

The goal isn't to cut sugar out of my diet forever. I'm not into extremes like that. Plus, I think it'd be unrealistic to say I'll never eat another cupcake again. However, I think at least for a while I'll need to limit my sugar-intake quite dramatically to detox myself. Who knows what form this might take. Any ideas or experiences to share?


I'm writing this to admit to you all that I do indeed have a problem. I'm hoping that writing it out will help me finally do something about it. I very much appreciate your support! Here's hoping today is the first day of the rest of my life . . . less dependent on sugar.

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Open-Faced Asparagus and Tofu Sandwich

>> Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Those Chevron Peanut Butter Cookie Bars are a tough act to follow. That's for sure. But today's recipe is for a super open-faced sandwich. And it's pretty customizable, which I love. It may seem like a lot of steps for a sandwich -- but well worth it, I promise.

NOM.


OPEN-FACED ASPARAGUS AND TOFU SANDWICH

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cake of extra firm tofu, drained
  • Some type of spices to rub in (we used a smoked paprika-chipotle combo)
  • 6 to 9 sprigs of asparagus
  • Goat cheese (ours was a fig variety)
  • Sliced French bread (3 slices)
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Method . . .
  1. Once you've drained the tofu, cut it into three big slabs. Then rub in a generous amount of spice.
  2. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, toss in 2 tablespoons oil. Then cook tofu on each side until well browned. Set aside.
  3. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Then toss in the onions. Cook for a couple minutes. Then add the maple syrup. Cook until browned. Set aside.
  4. Steam asparagus by pouring 1/4 cup of water into a high rimmed pan. Put in your asparagus once the water is boiling. Then cover and let steam for 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Toast bread to your liking. Then spread a generous amount of goat cheese on each slice.
  6. Place a slab of cooked tofu atop the bread. Then the asparagus. Then the onions.
  7. Repeat with all slices.

So, as you see, we're eating more soy. (By the way, we got a ton of great, thoughtful comments on last week's post about the topic. If you haven't weighed in yet, now's your chance!)

If you're following Writing Chapter Three, there are a couple new posts for you to catch up on. First, I wrote about how Ada's 5 months old and we're swaddling again. And today I wrote the second installment of the Zero-Intervention Hospital Birth series: Goals.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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