Introducing Mallory Brynn

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We recently added a new member to the family, baby girl #3, Mallory. I was recently asked by a reader to tell more about her and what mom wouldn’t love to talk about her new baby?

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To sum it up, life is wonderful. Since she’s the 3rd kid, I am not new at this and the transition was seamless. Neither older sibling (Alyssa is 5 and Cassidy is 2) has shown a single hint of jealousy and both are in love with their baby sister. It helps they have each other and they are great playmates. Of course they bicker and fight some but for the most part they play very well together, for hours on end in the playroom. That gives me plenty of time to sit and breastfeed Mallory and get lots of good snuggles in. Alyssa will even sit next to me and read a book during Cassidys afternoon nap if I want to lay down and take a nap with the baby. They are both wonderful with the baby and run and grab me diapers and wipes whenever they even hear me ask the baby if she has a dirty diaper. So there was really no adjustment period there at all.

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Breastfeeding also went soo much smoother this time. With the older two I bled, blistered, cracked, etc for the first 3-4 weeks. I wanted to cry (and did some) every time they latched on. This time I didn’t have any of that. Maybe its because I stopped nursing Cassidy right before I got pregnant with Mallory so there wasn’t a big gap between nursing. She also just didn’t seem to have such a strong suck like the other two. So that helped with recovery. Breastfeeding is the biggest change because there is a lot I don’t eat. Certain foods bothered Alyssa when I breastfed and others made Cassidy scream with gas. So this time I cut out all of those foods from the start. We have yet to have an upset gassy crying spell. I don’t eat tomatoes or tomato sauce, broccoli, beans, lentils, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, or drink caffeine. I eat lots of protein (chicken, beef, fish), whole grains, peas, zucchini, kale, spinach, greens, salads, green beans, swiss chard, yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds, and any fruit. So its really not too restrictive. And its totally worth it for a happy gas free baby. When shes around 6 months ill start reintroducing those foods. And man, the breastfeeding hunger is starting to set it. I eat more than my 200 lb husband when I’m nursing, I become a bottomless pit.

She nurses every 3 hours during the day, only takes about 15 minutes, and we do the eat wake sleep cycle. For some naps she eats sleeps then eats again since the 3 hours has passed. Then at night she goes to bed around 915 (I lay her down awake but tired and she falls asleep within 5 minutes) swaddled. I dreamfeed her as much as she will eat in her sleepy state when I go to bed around 1045. She will then sleep between 6-8 hours, eat once, then go back to sleep until 8 or 830 am. So we are doing well for a 7 week old.

The birth story is unreal. My nurse told me I better not tell people Mallory’s birth story because all women would hate me and they probably wouldn’t believe it anyway. But here it is…

I had an appointment the morning I was 39 weeks 5 days. She checked me, I was 4-5 cm. They don’t admit until 6 cm unless you are in active labor. I wasn’t having contractions. Based on the fact I have a history of fast labors (2.5 hours and 1.5 hours from start to finish with the older two), she wanted me to go get hooked up on the contraction monitor to make sure I wasn’t in early labor and didn’t know it. She also stripped my membranes at that time.

Around 12 I got monitored, no contractions, but the doctor wanted to check me again after lunch before sending me home. We got lunch and came back around 1. She said I was now a full 5 cm. So really no change. I wanted to stay and have them break my water though since I knew once labor started, it would happen fast. My doctor was just a resident so she didn’t have the authority to break my water so the attending came in to check me. She said I was at 6 cm, no going home now. She gave me the option to walk the halls or break my water to get contractions going because at this point I still wasn’t having any. I decided on breaking my water because I wasn’t even in labor so I knew walking wouldn’t do anything. I went to my room and was messing around doing lunges and grapevines to see if it would make labor start. No luck. I had been doing stuff like that for a week to try and get labor started and nothing.

At 3:45 they broke my water. So at this point I am still not in labor, still not having any contractions, but somehow I am dilated to 6-7 cm now. After about 5 minutes I started having contractions that were registering on the monitor but I couldn’t feel them. A few felt like braxton hicks I had been having for months but that’s it. I stood there talking to my doctor (a family friend) and the attending. They left the room at 3:57 hoping labor would start soon. This is me then. Still a smile and no contractions

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At 4:00 I had a legit contraction and knew labor was on its way. At 4:03 I had one that hurt like hell. This was labor now. The next one, the doctors and nurses rushed in saying the baby’s heart rate was dropping. I needed to get in bed and get on oxygen. I had them wait while I breathed through contraction #2. #3 I got into bed. #4 they turned me on my side, still sitting up, and put the oxygen mask on my face. #5 I said I know its crazy but I feel like I need to push. The doctor said don’t because the baby needed oxygen before we spent a while pushing. The doctor was sitting on my bed, looked down, and said, “oh nevermind” and the baby literally came out as I tried not to push. Contraction #5, 8 minutes after my first contraction.  8 minutes. Not 8 minutes of pushing, not 8 minutes of transition or active labor. 8 total minutes. Insane.

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The doctors and nurses took bets on how fast labor would be since the first two were so fast. The attending won with a time of 4:40. So still way later!

Healthy, Whole, Organic, and Cheap too

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About a year ago I tracked our food budget for a week and it was really interesting so I decided to do it again…

People have the misconception that eating healthy is expensive. I recently watched a popular health food documentary where a low income family said they couldn’t afford to eat healthy and they were forced to eat fast food to feed their family of four because its cheap. They had access to a car so getting to a grocery store wasn’t the problem. Now I know I don’t know their whole story but many people think this way. “Eating healthy is too expensive” is a common misconception.

We eat 100% organic foods and local as much as possible. We made the decision a while ago that food is something we were willing to spend more money on. So we don’t skimp on expensive products when we want them. We eat steaks, meat at every dinner, seafood, tons of fresh produce, organic greek yogurt, and ALL organic. All places we could save on, but we like it and its worth it to us. We eat unprocessed whole grains, meats, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and dairy. We go not eat anything processed or anything that comes out of a box. We also do not go out to eat. Well with one exception. Once a month when we do our big whole foods trip (an hour away but the best option since we live in a small town), we stop by an organic restaurant for a meal.

I tracked every penny we spent on food in the last month (ETA: this also includes things like toilet paper and paper towels. It also includes about $30 worth of wine we bought when we had visitors which we don’t buy otherwise. And also food for a meal I made for a friend who recently had a baby. I refigured out my numbers not including those things so that its just our food alone and put that in parenthesis).

It looks like this…

$540 whole foods: We make one big trip a month. We freeze a lot of meats and vegetables. We stock up on meat, 1-2 weeks of fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables and fruit, dairy, bulk bin items (barley, amaranth, quinoa, steel cut oats, raisins, nuts, seeds, beans)

$120 trader Joes: whole chickens, dairy

$45 commissary (military grocery store): fruit, ground turkey, milk and cheese

$40 produce delivery box: vegetables

$25 organic market: fresh vegetables

$55 commissary: fruit, milk, yogurt

$28 Epic Food Company (the organic restaurant)

That totals $833 ($793) for an entire months food for my entire family. That includes one 200 lb man, one breastfeeding mom, and 2 kids who eat so much I get frequently asked if I ever feed them because of how much food they put away in a single sitting. My parents always comment how one of my kids eats more than they do.

That’s $208 ($198) per week, $29.75 ($28) per day, $9.90 ($9.44) per meal for the entire family. That’s $2.48 ($2.36) per person per meal.

What fast food restaurant can you feed a family of 4 for UNDER $10? The dollar menu cant do that. A happy meal costs more than $2.48. So our way of eating is cheaper and obviously exponentially healthier. And this cost per meal is assuming we eat just 3 meals a day. In reality we all have an afternoon snack and we all have an evening snack around 730 since we usually eat an early 530 pm dinner. So each meal is actually cheaper than that.

Where do we save?

Bulk bins: For example, I use dried beans instead of canned. Bulk bins can save but some stuff is actually more expensive out of the bulk bins so I have compared and know what to buy bulk.

Beans for protein: We eat beans at lunch pretty much every day for protein instead of meat or processed expensive lunch meats

Homemade: I make everything from scratch. Premade hummus is $4, the dried beans cost a matter of cents. We make huge batches of steel cut oats for breakfast throughout the week instead of pricey boxes of cereal. It takes a little more planning but really not much extra time. I am a stay at home mom but I have 3 kids, one is a newborn and I homeschool my oldest, so I don’t have loads of free time for sure.

Snack foods: We don’t buy fruit snacks, crackers, cookies, etc. We snack on fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. When we eat dessert, I make it myself. A box of cookies is quite a few dollars but oats, dates, milk, peanuts (cookie or ice cream ingredients) are pretty cheap.

Chickens: Instead of buying chicken breasts I get whole chickens and cut them up. Organic chicken breasts are $7 per pound where a whole organic chicken is $2.69. I also use the chicken bones to make bone broth which saves money on not having to buy chicken broth.

Eggs: We have backyard chickens. We have 6 and we get roughly 3 dozen eggs a week. And they are the best eggs you’ve ever tasted. We do supplement them being free range with a small amount of grain however.

Eating out: we really don’t do it. We don’t drive thru Starbucks a couple times a week or catch lunch while we are out. We eat breakfast before we leave the house, we eat lunch at home since its right before naptime so we have to be home anyway, then dinner is shortly after naptime so we are still home and eat before we go back out anywhere. I also either pack my husband a lunch or he meets us at home every day for lunch.

Where we splurge. We could save here more but we just don’t for various reasons:

Coupons: I rarely use them unless they are on the front of the package in the store, ready to peel off. I need to get better about this but it seems coupons are mostly for processed foods. And its not really worth my time to search the internet for an hour to save $2 in coupons. Again, I have 3 kids, I’m busy.

Meats: We eat meat at every dinner and enjoy red meat and seafood weekly. The other nights its usually chicken or ground turkey. We could eat more beans or cheaper cuts of meat. But good food is our splurge. I don’t have 10 purses or a closet full of shoes. But I do have delicious grass fed organic beef in my freezer. Priorities.

Fresh Produce: Frozen is way cheaper and we buy a decent amount, especially in the winter to get us through the end of the month before we can get back to whole foods for more fresh. But fresh ones are just so good and theres such a better variety. We love them raw and roasted so we love fresh produce.

Organic: Organic is absolutely more expensive. No doubt about it. I think everything is more expensive organic. But we feel its worth it, so we do it. We have growing kids we don’t want chemicals, pesticides, gmos, or poor quality meat in their vulnerable bodies. So if we didn’t buy 100% organic, it would be way cheaper. Imagine that? Its already so cheap when you break it down!

It all comes down to priorities. I read so many blogs saying they cant afford to buy all organic, its just not in the cards. Well that may be true with their current budget.  But to me I’d rather spend the money on good quality healthy food than a pair of shoes I may want, but not need. Another common reason is that someone doesn’t have the time. Again, its priorities. Do you ever watch a tv show? Ever spend time reading or doing another hobby? Of course most people do. And that’s fine. But the reason is because you don’t want to, not because you can’t. But honestly, once you have a routine down and plan ahead, it doesn’t take much time at all. Planning ahead really is key. No last minute grocery trips which end up in higher food bills and it saves loads of time when meal time rolls around.

Sweet or Savory Millet Biscuits

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I am a believer of a completely balanced diet. I don’t like low carb or grain free diets, vegetarian, paleo, low fat, low calorie, etc. I think you should eat a balanced diet and have all (healthy) foods in moderation. So we do eat a lot of whole grains, but they are unprocessed whole grains that are traditionally prepared by soaking or sprouting. I also  vary those grains and not focus on just wheat and rice like most of America. We eat rice, quinoa, barley, amaranth, etc.

Another grain we eat is millet, but Dave and I arent huge fans of it plain. It just has a very dry texture, no matter how much liquid is added while cooking. I made a big batch for dinner, as I do with all our grains to use in lunches the rest of the week, but neither of us really wanted to eat it. So I decided I would repurpose it. I completely winged it and made some delicious biscuits/fritters. Alyssa now says millet is her new favorite grain over amaranth. I made them savory the first time with thyme and cheese and the second time with a little honey. The honey ones ended up tasting like cornbread. So if you have a corn or wheat allergy, this would be a perfect cornbread substitute.

I made these twice just to get rid of the huge batch of millet I had made and now I’ll have to go buy more millet just to continue making them!

Sweet or Savory Millet biscuits

makes 12 biscuits

3 cups cooked millet (little less than 1 cup dry millet, soaked then cooked in water)

1/3 cup kefir or buttermilk

3 Tbs butter, softened

2 eggs

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

Sweet version: 2 Tbs honey

Savory version: 1/3 cup shredded cheese, 1/4 tsp thyme, couple shakes of pepper

Place millet, buttermilk, butter, egg, and salt into high powered blender or food processor. Process until uniform consistency and millet is completely pureed. If using honey, add that at the beginning too. Once pureed, add baking soda and baking powder and give it a quick whirl just enough to combine. If using thyme and cheese, stir that in after everything is pureed.

Put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Spoon onto silpat baking sheet.

Bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes.

 

Nutritional Information: honey. thyme and cheese in parenthesis

Calories: 106                          (108)

fat: 4.3 g                                    (5.3)

sodium: 193 mg                     (213 mg)

carbohydrates: 14 g               (11.6 g)

fiber: 1.3 g                                (1.3 g)

sugar: 3 g                                (0g)

protein: 3 g                              (3.6 g)

Breakfast or Anytime Cookie

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When I want a quick dessert, this is my go to cookie. It only dirties one dish and makes the perfect amount of cookies, 1 dozen. And they are 100% guilt free I have made these cookies probably 25 times  in the last 2 months and sometimes I am in the mood for chewy cookies and sometimes crunchy. Adding the egg makes them chewy, where using milk as wetness makes them bake with a crunch on the outside.

There is zero sweetener, just the sweetness from 2 dates and applesauce or bananas. They are also very customizable. Don’t like raisins? Use cranberries. Don’t like coconut? omit it. Egg free? Use the milk. Dairy free? use the egg and enjoy life chocolate chips. And if you use the milk, you can roll them into balls, put into the refrigerator and now you have cookie dough to eat!

Sometimes ill make these before bed but they aren’t ready in time for the girls to have one. Cassidy always asks if ill save her one and she eats it with breakfast the next day. With these ingredients, they are easily a breakfast “cookie”. It actually feels pretty sneaky eating 1/2 a dozen cookies for breakfast. But they are healthier than any granola, muffin, pancake, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

Anytime Cookie

makes 1 dozen

2 dates, pitted

1 cup oats, divided in half

1/2 cup applesauce or 1/2 banana

1/4 cup almonds, or other nut or seed

2 tbs ground flax seed

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp cinnamon

splash vanilla or almond extract

pinch salt

1 egg or 1/4 cup milk*

2 tbs coconut

2 tbs raisins

1 tbs mini chocolate chips

Place dates in food processor and process until blended. Add almonds and 1/2 cup oats and process until blended (doesn’t have to be uniform, just until the oats are mostly ground).

Add applesauce or banana, egg, extract, flax, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Whirl just until combined.

Stir in the rest of the oats, chocolate chips, raisins, and coconut with a spoon let it sit for 10-15 minutes for the oats to soak up some moisture.

Roll into 1 inch balls then flatten and shape them on a silpat baking sheet.

Bake at 375 F for 12-15 minutes until desired doneness.

 

Nutritional Information

Calories: 75

Fat: 3 g

Sodium: 0%

Carbohydrates: 10 g

Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g

Sugars: 4.5 g

Protein:2 g

 

Cheater Amish Friendship Bread

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I love Amish friendship bread but i think the whole process is kind of a pain. Its a neat idea but I often don’t want or have time to do the whole 10 day process. Well i hadnt made the bread in years, so i accepted the starter recently. Although I quickly regretted the deicision so I decided to just bake with the starter that day. The starter you receive is the same thing as you use to bake your actual bread. The reason for the 10 day process is to expand the starter and make more by adding more ingredients. But if you dont want to make more, then you can just use it.

Although now after making this bread I wish I had done the 10 day process so i could have more starter to make more of this bread. Of course I made my own recipe and did not use the one on the printed directions given to me. Making bread with a large box of processed instant pudding is far from healthy. And adding another cup of white sugar to that? It still has the same flavor as the original bread but its more of a breakfast bread, not a cake like the original.

Dave had never had this bread before but coincidentally enough he tried it for the first time the same day i received my starter. I guess me and a coworkers wife must have known some of the same people to receive the starter. He tried it at work, someone brought it in and their wife made the original version. So he was able to do a taste test of my bread and compare it to the one he ate earlier in the day. He agreed it had the same flavors but was just way less sweet and more like an actual quick bread vs pound cake.

Healthified Amish Friendship Bread

makes 2 small loaves

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter

1/3 cup melted butter

1/3 cup greek yogurt or applesauce

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

additional cinnamon sugar (equal parts) for dusting tops

Mix together wet. Mix together dry. Combine the two. Do not over stir.

Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans or 12 muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes (25-30 for muffins), until tester comes out clean

Allow loaves to cool for a few minutes then let cool on a wire rack.

Blackening Seasoning

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What is so hard about a company making premixed spices without additives? I make my own taco seasoning and let it sit in my cupboard for a while so why can’t they make spice packets with simple ingredients as well? I had been wanting to try blackening fish for a while but I recently threw out my blackening seasoning. I bought it a while back and (stupidly) didn’t check the label since it was a brand ive used and trusted before. Well this time it had “natural flavorings” in it, and who really knows what that means? I tossed it out and attempted my own. I have to say it turned out great on some seared tuna. I can’t wait to try it on some salmon and chicken.

Blackening Rub

will season 2 lbs of meat

1 Tbs paprika

1/2-3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp basil

scant 1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp cayenne (or less if you don’t want it spicy)

 

Mix all together. Rinse meat with water then pat slightly or use marinated meat so that it is a little wet before dipping into the seasonings. Cover both sides of meat and cook on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes a side in a Tbs of olive oil. If meat isn’t quite done yet, turn down to medium-low and cook until desired doneness.

Make sure your vent fan is on or a window is open because it may get a little smoky depending on how long you need to cook your meat of choice.

North Indian Chicken Curry with Spinach

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My family is about as unpicky as its gets. We like any type of ethnic food and we like variety in our meals, kids included. Well they don’t have a choice. They eat what we eat and Dave and I are adventurous eaters. So if they are naturally good eaters or not, they sure are now. Last week I made an Indian dish that turned out great. I made it a crockpot meal so it would be completely done when we got home from running around to ballet and soccer practice in the evening. Indian food is nice because the spice is very customizable. You can add as little or much cayenne pepper as desired. Or leave it out all together and put a bottle of tobasco on the table for those who like the heat.

Throw everything in the crockpot the night before and put it in the fridge. Set it on low  in the crockpot before you leave in the morning. Come home to an amazing smelling dinner.

North Indian Curry

serves 8

3 lbs chicken (bone in or out, breasts, legs, thighs, etc), skin and fat trimmed

2 cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh including their juices

1/2 onion, diced

1 cup whole milk plain yogurt

1 tsp cornstarch

1 Tbs minced garlic

1 Tbs fresh minced ginger or 1/8 tsp dried

1 Tbs ground coriander

1.5 Tbs garam marsala

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp tumeric

a few shakes-3/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 cup chopped cilantro or 1 Tbs dried, plus more for garnish

10 oz chopped spinach, fresh or frozen.

Place onions, chicken, and tomatoes in bottom of a crockpot.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients, besides spinach. (Whole milk yogurt is best because the higher fat content will keep the yogurt from curdling. The cornstarch also aids in this).

Pour into crockpot and mix everything together. Set on high for 5 hours or low for 8.

Take 2 forks and pull apart the chicken meat so its in smaller, but not shredded, torn pieces. Place the spinach in the crockpot and stir everything so the sauce gets all over the torn up chicken. Let it cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve over soaked or sprouted brown rice.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 303

Fat: 6.5 g

Sodium: 386 mg (15%)

Carbohydrates: 6 g

Dietary Fiber: 2 g

Sugars: 3 g

Protein: 53 g

served over 1/2 cup brown rice brings it to 475 calories, 7.8 g fat,  42 g carbs, 4 g fiber, and 57 g protein per serving.