Momma Mocktails

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Fellow Mothers and Soon-to-be Mothers, I have good news! Just because you’re expecting doesn’t mean you can’t wind down with a drink (non-alcoholic of course!). In fact, you should be taking some time to relax, de-stress and sip on something delicious. I’m talking about some Momma Mocktails! Best of all, these refreshing drinks pack in benefits for you and your baby!

Maternitini                                                                                                                                     This classy yet fun drink is perfect to pour into a martini glass and act like a sophisticated lady. Lucky for you, this drink is great for any expecting mom thanks to the health properties in ginger and watermelon. The ginger aids in morning sickness while giving it a kick for the taste buds. Watermelon contains vitamin A, C, potassium, B6 and magnesium – relieving heartburn and preventing preeclampsia. Mash 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh watermelon and strain. Use watermelon juice with 2 oz. grapefruit juice, 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger, 1 oz. sparkling water and a squeeze of lime juice. Shaken or stirred is up to you!

Baby Blue-rita (Can be served frozen or on the rocks)                                                               I personally love my ‘ritas frozen; something about a slushy drink makes me feel as if I’m on vacation. This revamped margarita mixes blueberries with cranberries and grapes to give it a rich and sweet taste. Blueberries contain potassium which is vital for blood pressure control. They (along with the cranberries and grapes) also contain folate, vitamin C, calcium, antioxidants and fiber (great for preventing hemorrhoids and constipation). Mix 2 oz. each of pure cranberry juice, blueberry juice and grape juice with 1 oz. water. Garnish with a lime and voila! Note: To make frozen, replace water with 2 ice cubes and blend.

Mom-osa                                                                                                                                       Wake up to one of these Vitamin C and antioxidant boosters! We’ve put a spin on the classic mimosa by adding in some pomegranate juice (yum). Not only does Vitamin C aid in tissue building and collagen production, but it is also present in breast milk which can help your newborn reduce his/her risk of developing allergies. Antioxidant intake before and during pregnancy can prevent miscarriages as well as protect your child from diabetes and obesity. Combine 2 oz. fresh pomegranate juice, 2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice (pulp encouraged) and 1 oz. of sparkling water or club soda. Garnish with a pineapple slice and enjoy!

With these fresh recipes, I think it’s time to invite the girls over and wow them with your recently acquired mixology skills. Pour them into fun glasses, garnish with a slice of fresh fruit and hey – if you’re feeling crazy you can go right ahead and salt or sugar your rims! Cheers!

Written by: Leana Varvella

Vegan Banana Muffins

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Looking for a quick snack or breakfast to make the little ones this week!  Why not try these delicious vegan muffins!  Even better, you can scoop them into mini muffin tins to make them easy for little hands to not only pick up but will also help them become more of a snack to avoid them becoming too full!

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can use all-purpose flour too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 very ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degree. Spray your mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together to combine. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine your apple sauce, oil, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are mixed through.
  4. Using a small spoon or a melon ball scooper, scoop the muffin batter into the muffin tin. Only fill each cup 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes rotating pan once halfway through cooking.

 

Looking For A Great First Time Veggie? Try Sweet Potatoes!!

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Are you slowly trying to introduce solids into your little ones diet?  If so, sweet potatoes are great to try since they are easy to digest, have a mild flavor, and are easy to prepare!

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 deg F or 190 deg C.
  2. Simply take one large sweet potato. Scrub it and prick it with a fork.
  3. Bake for about 45 mins or until it feels soft.
  4. Once cooked, all you need to do is split the potato and scrape out the flesh with a spoon. Most sweet potatoes do not even require the additional step of pureeing as they can easily be mashed!
  5. One large potato will give you about 3 or 4 portions at this early stage. Bake a few at a time and you’ve got a fortnight’s supply!

Alternatively… you could peel the potato, then boil or steam it in cubes if you prefer to do so as well!

Looking for some combos?  Why not try mixing sweet potatoes with carrots or squash for a new flavor and even more nutrients!

Prenatal Pantry Makeover

Must-Haves for the Expecting Mother!

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Happy Monday everyone! Being pregnant is a wonderful time in your life and introduces many changes to your body. Newsflash: you are now eating for two! Time to re-evaluate what’s in your pantry; clean out the bad and bring in the good. Ditch the 4 Pregnancy “no-no’s” and stock up on the 6 must-haves to have a solid pantry while you are expecting.

Clear ‘Em Out! These 4 foods bring zero benefits to you and your child.

  • Animal Proteins Animal proteins are not 100% safe for human consumption, which must mean they can’t be safe for an expecting mother and growing baby! Meats, fish, poultry and yes, even dairy, can contain toxic substances along with added hormones and antibiotics that can harm you and your baby. Fish can contain high levels of mercury that can lead to neurological problems; dairy products made with unpasteurized milk harbors a dangerous bacteria called listeria that can do some serious damage to you and the baby (fever, nausea, muscle aches and even infant mortality). Best to become one with nature and stick to a plant based diet.
  • Alcohol/Caffeine Probably the biggest no-no in the book, alcohol especially can be extremely dangerous to fetal development. Some doctors say one glass every once in a while is okay, but remember: caffeine and alcohol can pass through the placenta to the fetus. Consumption of these two liquids have shown to raise heart rate and blood pressure, as well as lead to developmental and behavioral issues such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Better be safe than sorry and suck it up for nine months.
  • White, Refined Grains Brown is the new white. Get rid of all grains white and refined in your kitchen; I’m talking flour, rice, bread, sugar, pasta. Replace those with oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet and ezekiel breads. Studies show that these carbs that break down into simple sugars can cause insane spikes in your blood sugar, putting stress on your body that can negatively affect the baby’s development. Doesn’t help that these grains cause constipation and have close to no nutritional value as well. Buh-bye!
  • Artificial Flavors, Additives and Colors Artificial anything is not supposed to be consumed by anyone! Artificial coloring has been linked to cancers and chromosomal damage in developing babies; artificial additives, or processed foods, have been linked to high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease; artificial sweeteners are not even recognized by the body so therefore are not digested. Trust me, I can go on forever! Just know this: artificial products prove no nutritional value to us, pregnant or not. Stick with natural foods that your body can handle and you’ll be good to go.

Stock Up! The more of these foods, the merrier. Each food on this list is packed with nutritional goodness!

  • Leafy Greens Who knew that a prenatal vitamin came in leaf form? Kale, spinach, romaine, collard greens – the list goes on, and they all contain the essential vitamins and minerals for an expecting mother. Folate? Check. Calcium? Check. Vitamins A, B, C, K, Magnesium, and Fiber? Check all those bad boys off. These dark, leafy vegetables don’t get enough credit for all that they do. Incorporate these into your everyday diet via smoothies, salads, veggie chips, etc. As an added bonus, these greens balance out any cramping due to their “expansive” properties. Get your green thumb on!
  • Chia Seeds Get those Omega-3’s in with a daily dose of chia! Just 2 tablespoons contain omega-3 fatty acids, all nine essential amino acids, fiber, antioxidants, and essential minerals that are sometimes hard to get in via diet (I’m talking calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and niacin – phew!). All of the above are crucial to your baby’s development, from bones to brain to eyes! Throw some in your oatmeal, mix in a smoothie or top a salad.
  • Berries Who doesn’t love a good berry? Packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium, berries are a convenient and beneficial snack to always have on hand. With so many berries to choose from, you’ll never get bored trying to satisfy your sweet tooth. Have some fun and try going exotic with goji and acai berries! Choose organic though to keep the pesticides away.
  • Beans Meet your new BFF. Beans contain high levels of protein and folate, two of the most important nutrients for a soon to be momma! Garbanzo, kidney, black, white, red, navy – they all got what you need and are super easy to store. Stock up on cans to always have these prenatal power foods on hand. Whip up some veggie burgers, homemade hummus, or black bean salad to keep the beans exciting.
  • Coconut Oil Move over olive oil! Coconut oil is the latest and greatest, packing in more benefits than you could imagine. The oil from this fruit contains lauric and capric acid, which actually makes up 20% of breast milk. It also has antiviral, antibacterial and parasitical properties that will help the baby’s immune system. Coconut oil doesn’t have a coconut taste, so feel free to use it for cooking or baking.
  • Fresh or Dried Herbs & Natural Sweeteners Just because you’re giving up artificial sweeteners and flavors does not mean you have to compromise on taste. Use fresh herbs to create a savory dish (without all the added sodium) and natural sweeteners (honey, maple sugar flakes, etc.) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Pregnancy hormones can cause crazy cravings so it’s important to have these on hand to get your fix.

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Following these guidelines will help jumpstart the process on converting your old pantry into a pregnant friendly and health beneficial one. Moral of the story: A plant-based, organic diet is the best you can give yourself, and your baby. Remember, the more natural the food, the better! My rule of thumb is: Look at the ingredient list. If there is an ingredient there that you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t buy separately to cook with (ex: maltodextrin) then it is not meant for your body and should be put back on the shelf.

Good luck on your makeovers!

Written by: Leana Vavella

Fresh Fruit Pizza With Coconut Cream Whip

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Looking for something new for dessert at this weekends BBQ?  Why not try this delicious fruit pizza!!  It is full of fruits and you can add even more if you like!  The kids can get involved and help layer on the toppings!!

Cinnamon-sugar pizza crust

1 cup + 3/4 cup white bread flour, divided
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 & 1/4 tsp pizza yeast (no proofing required)
3 tbsp oil
2/3 cup very warm water
more flour for kneading dough
Avocado-Lime Whip
4 avocados
Fresh lime juice from half a lime (approx 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave nectar
2-3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1-2 tbsp coconut milk
12 tbsp icing sugar (confectioner’s)

Fruit
Fruit salsa: Chop up a mixture of strawberries, mandarin oranges, mango, kiwi, and raspberries. Add in blueberries too. You will want about 2-3 cups of the salsa.

Fruit layer: Mandarin, strawberries (sliced), blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi (sliced), mango (sliced), and whatever else your little heart desires! Peach would be good too.

Preparation:
For crust
1. Preheat oven to 500F. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, plus the salt, sugar, cinnamon, yeast. Stir well. Now quickly add 2/3 cup very warm water along with 3 tbsp oil. Stir well. It will be very sticky but not to worry.
2. Now add in 3/4 cup- 1 cup more flour, gradually, as you stir. Once the flour is in, grab the dough and place on floured surface.
3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding flour as it gets tacky. After 5 mins the dough should be smooth and not tacky. Form into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover the ball with a bit of oil so it doesnt dry out. Now cover the bowl and let it rise for 1.5 hours. You can punch out the air halfway through.
4. After rising time, punch air out and spread into an oiled pizza pan or you can place it directly onto a preheated pizza stone. Sprinkle with lots of sugar and bake at 500F for 14-15 mins. until golden. Cooking time may vary so watch carefully.

For avocado whip
In a food processor, add in the avocado, lime juice, and agave. Process until smooth. Now add in the vanilla, melted coconut oil, and coconut milk. As the last step, add in the icing sugar very gradually until the consistency you want is achieved. Cool in fridge for about 30 minutes before using. Spread over the base of cooled & cooked pizza crust.

For Fruit
After you have spread on the avocado-lime whip, it is time to layer on the fruit. I started with an outer layer of fruit salsa, followed by a layer of sliced fruit. After those two layers, I did a very small layer of sprinkled coconut, followed by a layer of raspberries, and then finally fruit salsa.

Source: Oh She Glows

Adding Texture Into Your Baby’s Food

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Have you started adding purees into the mix or are you not quite there yet?  Either way, here are a few tips on when and how to start adding more texture into the food.

As a general rule, though, it’s a good idea to introduce some texture into your baby’s food once he has been enjoying pureed foods for around 3 weeks, which usually takes place around 7 months.  Some babies, particularly those that are breastfed, don’t start solid foods until towards the end of their first year. In this case, you can often dispense with pureed foods altogether, as these babies tend to be ready to deal with textured foods from the outset.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GIVE BABY MORE TEXTURED FOODS?

If you give your baby only pureed food for an extended period of time, you may find that he becomes unwilling to accept lumpier textures and baby feeding problems may develop.

Learning to chew, either with teeth or gums ,is an important part of your baby’s development because:

  • it strengthens the jaw muscles
  • it helps with the development of speech
  • it helps ensure healthy teeth
  • it enables him to enjoy finger foods and other foods that the rest of the family are eating.

HOW TO START ADDING TEXTURE

  • Start by thickening baby’s purees  by adding cereal or even mashed egg yolk. Although thicker, the puree should still be smooth. This allows your baby the opportunity to become accustomed to a “heavier” type of food before he has to deal with actual lumps.
  • Next, try using a food mill to grind soft fruits or vegetables which will give you a texture that is only slightly lumpy.
  • You can also try grating a peeled apple and adding this to a smooth base, such as yogurt.
  • Another good method is to puree half of your baby’s food and grind the other half.
  • Once baby is happy with these foods, you can move on to mashing food and, finally, chopping it.

Source: Journal of Pediatrics

Sorbet Away! Homemade Fruit Sorbets

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Summer is in full swing, with all of the picnics, beach days and of course, the hot weather! If you’re looking for a healthy (and delicious) way to beat the heat, try making your own fruit sorbets. The best thing about homemade anything is that you can have fun and experiment with new flavors! Whether it be Mango-Lime (see recipe below) or Strawberry-Mint, the possibilities are endless! As an added bonus, this treat is dairy-free and vegan friendly, so follow the steps below and sorbet away!

How-To Sorbet:

  1. Choose a fruit: 1 cup chopped frozen fruit (feel free to mix and match!)
  2. Choose a sweetener: 1 tablespoon honey, pure maple syrup, or liquid sweetener of your choice
  3. Add a liquid base: 1/4 cup of water, lemon or lime juice
  4. Get creative: Add optional herbs and flavors to kick it up a notch. Personal favorites are basil, mint and ginger.
  5. Combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Enjoy!

Mango-Lime Sorbet:

  • Combine 1 cup frozen chopped mango, 1 tablespoon honey, and 2 juiced limes in a blender and puree until smooth. Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy!

A super quick and easy treat to make, you and your kiddies will be satisfied in no time! Experiment with your kids and tell us what flavors you come up with in a comment. Happy sorbet-ing!

Written by: Leana Varvella