Thursday, August 28, 2014

Protein Packed Egg & Veggie Squares

These are one of my favorite snacks to have on hand. I make them once or twice a week and keep them in the refrigerator so I have something healthy to eat when hunger strikes.  They're high in protein, low in fat, low in carbs, clean and gluten free if you happen to be eating that way too!  The recipe is below but the best part about these is that you can add anything you'd like to them!

Egg & Veggie Protein Squares
1 carton of egg whites (or 12 egg whites)
1 cup of spinach
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups steamed Normandy Vegetable blend (comes frozen from Costco & consists of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots & squash)
1/4 cup feta cheese (If desired. Sometimes I don't use it...)

1.  Preheat the oven to 425
2.  Spray the baking dish with olive oil to prevent from sticking
3.  Pour one carton of egg white (or 12 large egg whites) into the baking dish
4.  Add the spinach, veggies blend, cilantro and anything else you'd like in there! Sometimes I sprinkle feta cheese on top.  I also add pico de gallo if I have some on hand. You can literally add anything  you want. Some options are chives, onion, tomato, etc.
5.  Sprinkle. Mrs Dash salt free seasoning on top for flavor and place in the oven.
6.  Cook for 40-60 minutes. This depends on how you like your eggs. I like them very well done and the bottoms and sides crispy so I cook them for about an hour. If you like them softer, 40 minutes should be just fine.
7.  Let cool and cut into squares.
8.  If you plan to store them in the fridge, place them in a tupperware and they'll be ready to eat.
9. I make a large batch at once so I don't have to make them more than twice a week.  My husband, 5 year old daughter and even my 7 month old baby loves these!  

If you cut them into squares about 1 inch by 1 inch, each, it makes them bite size and easy to eat.  This size they are also only about 25-30 calories each depending on whether you use cheese or not!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Baby Carrier Wars: Ergo 360 versus Baby Bjorn One


I've owed this review for a WHILE and I've finally had the chance to sit down and write it!  First of all, let me begin with the fact that I've been using my Ergo 360 A LOT lately.  It's like my stroller.  I don't leave home without it.  I've also had a lot of opportunities to compare it to the Baby Bjorn One I tried and a few things stand out.

Front Facing Seated vs. Hanging Position
First and foremost, I have to address the baby "sits" in the Ergo 360 versus the way the baby "hangs" in the Baby Bjorn One. Baby Bjorn has long had it's critics because of the way babies hang in their carriers.  It is not considered ideal for baby's hips.  Bjorn has made a marked improvement in the way baby is seated in the One while facing mom or dad in the front of back carry position in the carrier so that is a plus.  But, baby still hangs versus sits while in the front carry position   A seated position is always preferred and is ideal for baby's developing hips but it is difficult master when designing a carrier. Well, Ergo mastered it with their Ergo 360.  If you look at a baby in the Ergo 360, the carrier forms like a cup under baby's bottom and baby is sitting in the carrier versus dangling with his/her legs spread out.  The baby looks and feels much more comfortable than in the Baby Bjorn One.

Front, Back, Forward, Rear and Side Carries
Both carriers offer you the ability to carry baby on your back and on the front.  They also both offer a front facing position.  What the Ergo 360 offers that the Bjorn one doesn't is the ability to do a side carry.  This can be more comfortable, putting less direct pressure on your lower back and can help get things done while wearing baby since baby isn't directly in front of you.

Padded Shoulders
Both carriers excel in this arena and have very padded shoulders to help alleviate the pressure from carrying baby.  Ergo also sells suck pads (shown below) to place around the shoulder straps to help prevent excess wear to your carrier when a teething baby sucks on the straps or drools all over them as they most do :).  Mine were a little high because I had not yet adjusted them when hubby took the photo but you get the point :)

Head Support
Both carriers have sturdy, adjustable head support that can be folded down when baby is older and can support his or her own head.  This is very handy when they're newborns though.  One perk to the Ergo 360 that the Bjorn does not have is the hood that is concealed within the head support area.  When unfolded and snapped into place on the shoulder straps, it protects and covers baby's head.  This comes in very handy when breastfeeding in the carrier and/or out in the sun to protect baby's head from the harmful rays of the sun.

This is the only thing that I think the Ergo does not have that the Bjorn does.  When baby is carried in the front facing position, the baby's drool may get the front portion of the carrier wet.  Bjorn makes a bib that attaches to the front of the Bjorn one to protect the carrier and keep it dry.

When it comes to price, the Ergo 360 stands ahead as well. The Ergo 360 retails for $160 while the Bjorn One is $199.

Age and Weight
The Bjorn can be used from newborn up until approximately 3 years of age.  The minimum weight is 3.5kg or 8lb and baby must measure at least 53 cm or 21 in.   The max weight is 15kg or 33lbs and the max length is 100cm or 39 in. Bjorn recommends not carrying baby in the front carry position until at least 5 months of age and not past 12kg or 26lbs.  The Ergo 360 is usable with baby from day one.  The company suggests using the newborn insert (sold separately) until baby is at least 12 lbs or 5.5kg.  The Ergo 360 can be used until baby until baby is approximately 3 years old and is 15 kg or 33 lbs.

The Bjorn One is made out of a cotton blend with 60% cotton and 40% polyester.  The waist belt lining is 100% polyester.  The Ergo 360 is 100% and machine washable.  That comes in very handy with kids as any mom can tell you!

Overall, I'd have to say that the Ergo 360 is superior to the Baby Bjorn One.  The fact that baby is in a seated position versus a hanging position not ideal for baby's hips alone is enough to deter me from using that carrier.  I have long been an Ergo carrier fan and used the original Ergo I bought for my daughter for over 3 years.  It was very comfortable, never hurt my back and she loved it. My son now loves the 360 and can sit in there for hours as we go for walks, go shopping, etc.  He sleeps in there, breastfeeds and just hangs out without fussing.   The Ergo's price and the fact that it's 100% cotton is also a plus since the polyester can get uncomfortable and hot in the summer.  Last but not least, the hood that comes on the Ergo 360 is great! I can nurse him while I walk around and no one can even tell I'm doing it.  It's great to be able to do that and not have to use my nursing cover since it can be cumbersome and get in the way.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Insanity Journey....Again!

So, a few days ago, I started on a new journey! I decided to go back to old faithful and do a cycle of Insanity once again! Sixty days of pure and utter torture, but I know it will get me where I want to be. I've been running daily since I had my baby because it's really the only workout I can do.  He doesn't nap well unless he's in the stroller moving constantly and he's too young for the gym kids club.  I also prefer not to take my kiddos there until they can walk.

I LOVE to run and running is one of my passions but, doing it virtually every day for 5-7 miles at a time for the last 7 months is exhausting and getting boring.  I am also just not seeing the results I want. The reason I'm not seeing them is because, if you do the same thing day in and day out, your body gets accustomed to it and you are no longer challenging yourself. Even running 6 miles daily wasn't helping me she my last few lbs. of baby weight. So, after seeing my husband do some Insanity workouts in the garage, I figured I'd give it a shot!  I know it's challenging and it'll help me get my strength and cardio workout at once.

Well, I'm 3 days into it and BOY do I feel it. I am feeling soreness that I haven't felt in a long time.  Some hate that feeling but I love it! No pain no gain is the truth! Like they say, pain is weakness leaving the body and I love to feel the soreness because it reminds me that I did something to get there.  Now, we'll see where my Insanity journey takes me.  I took a before picture and I'll be taking one in 60 days to show the transformation.  Now I have to work on my diet as well.  That's the harder part for me.

If you're looking for a workout that will get you results, this may be something to try out.  The workouts vary from 40-55 minutes and are very challenging.  The best part is, though, that you can do them at your own pace.  If you're a beginner, you can go slow and ease into it. Shaun T (the creator of the series) guides you through every single exercise, showing you how to do it and what to focus on. If you aren't familiar with how to work out, this is an ideal program for you. It will work your whole body and teach you a lot of moves that you can do on your own once you've mastered your form.

So, give it a shot along with me and let me know what you think! If you're interested in purchasing it, let me know!  Soon I'll be selling it too! That's how much I believe in these workouts!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Deliciously Easy Mediterranean Chicken Salad

This weekend, we went out to a late breakfast/early lunch to celebrate my daughter starting kinder and my 40th birthday (eeeek!) and I had THE MOST amazing salad!  In order to give some credit and props to the place I had it at, it's Eggs N' Things in Santa Clarita, CA.  If you're ever in the area, it's a great place for a reasonable breakfast with lots of options.  And obviously great salads too!  I make salads often at home but, for some reason, I rarely deviate from the typical ingredients I use! Well this salad inspired me and I'm determined to start making it at home for myself and my family regularly. The recipe is super easy too! Use as much or as little of the ingredients as you'd like. The recipe below is for one large serving.  Here it goes...

Mediterranean Chicken Salad
--2 cups spring mix
--1 cup of fresh spinach
--5 to 7 hearts of palm
--1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
--1 1/2 oz crumbled feta cheese
--5-10 Calamato olives
--2-3 slices of red onion
--1/2 avocado
--4 oz grilled chicken (recipe for the chicken can be found here)

Place the spring mix and spinach in a shallow bowl.  Add the other toppings on top and eat!  Because of the strong taste of the feta, hearts of palm and sun dried tomatoes, it doesn't even require dressing. If you do prefer to have dressing with it,  balsamic vinaigrette is perfect with it!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The BIGGEST Misconception About Breastfeeding!

When it comes to breastfeeding, you are going to get A LOT of advice from A LOT of people. What's important is being informed and not being too hard on yourself if you're having difficulty with it.  I have two kids and had no problem at all with my first.  She latched on right away and would have breastfed for hours if I let her.  She gained weight quickly and was at the top of the percentile bracket across the board.  My second baby, however, did not make it so easy for me.  He had some trouble latching on, moved around a lot while feeding and seemed to lose interest quickly.  To make matters worse, he wasn't gaining weight as he should have and was in the 1-2 percentile from his 2 week appointment through 4 months.  This is even though he was born at a whopping 8 lbs. 6 oz. at birth.

What my biggest problem was with him was figuring out how much milk he was getting from me.  This was actually a problem for me with my first as well but, since she was growing so well and so quickly, I didn't worry about it and figured she had to be eating enough.  When I talked to my husband about my frustrations, he said, "Well, he may not be getting enough because look how little you get when you pump each time."  And what he's referring to is when I'd pump after 3-4 hours of not breastfeeding or pumping.  I immediately got worried and started trying anything and everything I could think of to increase my supply.  I tried drops, pills, teas....anything I could find!  While some products seem to have worked a little bit, none really increased my supply to the point where I'd pump any more than 3 oz at a time.  I got very depressed and spoke with my son's pediatrician.  This is the best thing I could have done.  My children's pediatrician is amazing and, although she knew he was slightly under weight, she knew I was trying to avoid formula and exclusively breastfeed, so she supported me as much as she could.  So, here's the answer to the BIGGEST BREASTFEEDING MISCONCEPTION.... JUST BECAUSE YOU PUMP ONLY 2 OZ DOESN'T MEAN THAT'S ALL BABIES GETTING WHEN HE OR SHE EATS.  Read on for the explanation!

The pump is not a natural way to remove milk.  The body knows this and will not excrete nearly as much as when a baby is breastfeeding.  She explained that you can pump 2 ounces and seem like you have nothing left but, if you latch baby on right afterwards, he or she will be able to get a lot more from you!

So, I went home and did exactly as she told me to.  I put baby down for a nap and, after about 2.5 hours (30 minutes or so before I expected him to wake), I pumped for 15 minutes and got only 2 ounces out. My son then woke up about 45 minutes later. I did as she said and weighed him just prior to feeding. I made sure he had a dry clean diaper on and nothing else. As soon as I was finished feeding him, I weighed him again.  To my surprise, his weight was up 5 1/2 ounces!! Which meant he was able to get an additional 5 1/2 ounces out of me that the pump could not!

 This shocked me and also gave me an ENORMOUS sense of relief!  I wasn't starving my baby after all. I was about to throw in the towel and supplement with formula and, thanks to this piece of advice, I realized I didn't have a supply issue at all. My body just prefers baby versus the pump and that was the only difference.  After having my first and now my second, I have spoken to SO many moms that have the same preconceived notions about breastfeeding. They are afraid of supply issues and, because they didn't think they made enough for their first baby and/or their current one when they pumped, they started supplementing with formula and eventually gave up breastfeeding all together. See, if you breastfeed less often (when you supplement with formula, this will happen) your supply WILL go down. The way to keep supply up is to feed more often, hence supply and demand.  While some women may not be able to breastfeed, either due to personal or medical reasons, if you can, it is THE BEST choice and the HEALTHIEST choice for your little ones.  Not to mention the cheapest!  It's a free nutrient we have within us and it's an incredible natural remedy as well! Stay tuned for my next post on the many ways breastmilk can heal your baby AND you!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Baked Tilapia with Steamed Vegetables and Red & White Organic Quinoa! Doesn't Get Healthier Than That!

Making dinner during the week is not an easy task for anyone, especially for parents that work a full day and don't have time to get home and cook.  Making dinner takes time and, with activities such as soccer, karate, homework clubs and work meetings, cooking and eating healthy can be almost impossible.  Even stay at home moms have a difficult time with kids running around, errands to take care of and cleaning up.  The key to eating healthy and making nutritious meals for your family is learning new recipes that are time efficient AND healthy.  This Tilapia, Steamed Veggies and Quinoa dinner is exactly that.  It's a balanced, healthy meal packed with protein that your kids and spouses will love!  The ingredients and quantities are below but feel free to change the recipe to fit your family.  As for the ingredients, I buy most of my food at Costco so all except the Mrs. Dash seasoning were purchased there.

Tilapia, Steamed Vegetables and Red & White Quinoa 
--Four 4oz tilapia fillets
--1 bottle of lite balsamic vinaigrette dressing
--Mrs. Dash no salt seasoning
--4 cups Frozen Normandy Vegetables
--1 cups Red & White Organic Quinoa
--1 tbsp of Smart Balance spread (optional)

When I make this recipe, I try and marinate the fish overnight the night before to really get the flavor in there.  That is not necessary but it makes it easier and faster on the evening you decide to make your dinner.

1.  Place the quinoa in a rice cooker or in a saucepan.  Add twice as much water as quinoa so, in this case, add 2 cups of water.  If you're using a rice cooker, turn it on and let it cook.  If you're using a sauce pan, bring the water to a boil, then cover and reduce heat.  After the quinoa is cooked, I like to add a little bit of Smart Balance spread or light butter for added flavor.

2.  While the quinoa is cooking, place the vegetables in a steamer and steam them or bring them to a boil to soften them up.  Drain the water once they are cooked the way you like them and set them aside.

3.  Place the tilapia into a tupperware container.  Put one layer of fish, sprinkle it with seasoning and pour the balsamic dressing over it.  Add another layer of the tilapia and do the same. You can also add sliced onions if you would like. I LOVE onions, especially grilled and baked so I add them on top of the fish, cover the container with a lid and swirl it around so the dressing covers all of the fish and onions.

4.  I then place the fish in the oven, preheated to 400-425 degrees, and cook it for 20-25 minutes.

5.  Once the fish, quinoa and vegetables are ready, serve and eat!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Safer Runs Are Better Runs

When it comes to getting my exercise, my absolute favorite thing to do is go for a long run.  Nothing clears my mind or prepares me for the day ahead like a long run on a nice, clear day. As soon as my run is over, I feel refreshed, ready for my shower and like I can take on the world.  While there are many benefits to running, there are many dangers to it as well that should be taken into consideration.  Some of these dangers are the injuries you can sustain as a result of running itself and others are not directly related to the sport.  Regardless, below are 10 tips that will help you become a better, safer runner if you do end up deciding that you'd like to hit the pavement for exercise as well!

1.  ALWAYS carry something to use for protection.  This can be as simple as running with your keys in your hands if you have nothing else.  You hold your keys in your hand inside a fist and one key poking out.  It doesn't seem harmful but it will hurt if you punch somebody with it.  If you plan ahead, it's a good idea to have pepper spray, maze or even a small knife.

2.  Run with music but not so loud that you can't hear what's going on around you.  Some headphones block out so much noise that you can't even hear a siren from a police car, fire truck and/or ambulance until it's on top of you.  Turn the volume down so you can be aware of your surroundings and are not caught off guard.  This is especially true if you have little ones.  Ideally, you should avoid running with headphones if you are pushing a stroller or running along side your little one on his or her bike.  You need to maintain communication and be alert for yourself and for them.

3.  Take water with you, even if it's a small amount.  It seems like a burden to carry it but it's important to remain hydrated throughout your runs.  Many sporting goods stores sell neoprene belts with small plastic bottles that attach to them so you won't even have to hold it.

4. Have your ID and a phone on you at all times. In case of an emergency and something happens to you, it is easy to identify you if you have your driver's license and/or some sort of ID on you. Having your phone also gives you a way to contact someone when in need of help and gives others the ability to contact someone for you if for some reason something happens and you are not conscious.  Accidents DO happen and you should be prepared, especially if you run on isolated trails.

5.  If you run in the dark, be it early in the morning or late at night, try to remain on well lit roads and paths.  Try to refrain from running in dark, isolated environments that a predator would be more likely to be in.   Listening to music is also discouraged since attackers are more likely to try and harm someone with headphones than someone without since they prevent you from hearing anyone approach.

6.  If you are attacked, fight and scream as loud as possible.  It will be your chance to get away by catching the attacker off guard and it will show him that you will not be submissive and fall prey.

7.  If you do not know how to defend yourself, enroll in martial arts and/or self defense courses. They are often taught at local colleges and adult schools at a very low cost and can possibly save your life.

8.  Wear sunscreen. Even if it's cloudy and cold, the sun is strong and can damage your skin none the less.  A minimum of a 30 SPF sunscreen should be worn at all times when running or doing any sort of exercise outdoors.

9.  Wear a hat to protect your head and your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.  The sunlight can sometimes hinder your vision and cause you to trip and fall if you are not careful.

10.  Wear good, supportive running shoes.  Your shoes are your only connection to the pavement and they are what help absorb the constant pounding your knees and leg joints will endure during a run. On average, running shoes should be replaced every 300 miles and/or every 3 months, whichever comes first.   It is also important to get a shoes that fits well and is specific to your running style.  It is a good idea to go to a specialty athletic shoe store and have someone analyze your step.  This will tell you whether you need a shoe for pronating, a stability shoe, trail shoe or other. For a quick reference, check out the "How to Choose Running Shoes" guide below courtesy of

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hungry for a Late Night Snack?

I don't know about you guys but it seems like I consume more than half of my calories in the afternoon and evening! I'm ravenous after about 4pm and I'm always trying to think of low cal, low carb healthy snacks to eat that won't undo the hard work I put in daily with my workouts. 

The hard part is that I'm breastfeeding so I can't skimp too much on calories and I have to make sure what I eat is filling and nutritious. While serving my husband some ice cream and my daughter some popcorn & trail mix, the light bulb in my head lit up! I combined about 1/4 cup of popcorn, half a packet of Trader Joe's Omega Trail Mix and poured the blend into a cake cone! My daughter loves them and calls them her Animal Cones because she says they're the types of ice cream cones little animals would eat ;) 

So, next time you're looking for a healthy treat, give these 'Animal Cones' a shot! Less than 100 calories, about 5 grams a fat and 4 grams of protein with less than 15 carbs! An all around good & healthy treat!