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DIY Kombucha

The taste of kombucha is one that has had to grow on my family. I remember the first time I tasted it and I think I threw it away. Now, I love it and so do my children. It’s our number one go-to when we have upset tummies or are recovering from a bug. It’s a fermented food which is such a great and natural way to get your probiotics – so important in our every day lives for gut health and especially in pregnancy.

20131119_190630If you’ve purchased a bottle of kombucha from your local health food store, you know that it can be a bit pricey. Take that times six people in my house and you can understand why we have taken on this project of making our own. I have my husband to thank for tending to the friendly scoby (pictured left) on the counter and our friend Dan for the original scoby donation. It was much smaller – only the size of the one small circle in a quart ball jar. Now, it’s grown to the full size of the beehive dispenser that it lives in.

Right after we were given the scoby, I ran across an old post on the Mosaic blog written by my friend Jen. She gave the history and benefits of kombucha and included the recipe.

So, my husband diligently followed the instructions and then we got the part of adding the fruit and something went wrong. It got moldy so I dumped it out. Maybe because I capped it without putting it in the refrigerator?I think it couldn’t breathe.

20131119_190610So, we skipped that step on the next batch and now we have beautiful, delicious non-fruity kombucha. And, it passed the kid test — for a fraction of the cost of buying it in the store.

This batch gave us 3 quart size jars with some liquid left over for the scoby to live and and to start the next batch. On the next round, we’ll double the amounts since the scoby is so big.

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes!

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Angela Seeling, CPM, RM

It’s been almost 15 years since I attended my first birth and began on the midwifery journey.

With 5 preceptors, hundreds of births and clinical hours,11 happy years of marriage, and 4 sweet (getting big!) children of my own, I am happy to report that I recently passed my national exam, and have received my CPM credential and Colorado state license in the mail. It took me a little while to get to this stage, and I’m finally ready to celebrate!

Disco lights in my living room - a gift from my family.

Disco lights in my living room – a gift from my family.

Now that the formalities of this phase of my journey have come to a close, I breathe a sigh of relief. However, I continue to attend study groups, research the latest evidence-based options in care, and most of all strive to provide partnership and choices to my clients.

I am so very thankful for:
My midwifery mentors – with whom I have shared many hours, beds, meals, laughs, and tears. And from whom I have learned much about midwifery but also about friendship, character, joy, loyalty, and life.

My husband – You are my rock. Always willing to step in with the back-up plan. Ever-supportive and loving through the highs and lows, always waiting with open arms to hold my exhausted body and nurture my soul. And, who very likely would’ve scored higher on the exam than me, due to all you have learned and never wanted to know about midwifery.

My children – for your big sad eyes when I have to run out the door to a birth, for your biggest hugs when I come home, and your wild SQEEEEEEE when I told you I passed my exam.

My parents – who supported me when I left my IT job to follow my dreams and helped me pay for my education. Thanks for praying for me, encouraging me, and helping with the back-up plan – even when I leave you to fend for yourselves on holidays.

My spiritual mentors – for encouraging me to follow my heart even when it meant exploring a life in birth work when I had never attended a birth. For countless hours of counsel and prayer and for believing in me - celebrating my accomplishments both professionally and personally.

My friends – the birthy ones that let me tell all my crazy stories and the non-birthy ones that help me remember that there is life and laughter outside of the birth world.

And to the many families that have allowed me to join you on your birthing journeys. I am truly blessed to have had a place in your story and look forward to serving you, and others, in the years to come.

With gratitude and love,

Angela

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Chocolate Milkshakes for Breakfast?

Since I wasn’t able to do a daily blog for every day last week, I thought I would split up the meal times and cover the highlights.

breakfast potatoesBreakfast can get a little boring around here and for awhile, all we ate was oatmeal or eggs. But lately, we’ve been getting more creative. My husband makes amazing breakfast potatoes (using red or sweet potatoes) with lots of veggies, garlic, onion, and nutritional yeast. It’s always a big hit. We usually serve it with a side of turkey bacon or sausage or topped with an egg.

With our Paleo focus and my desire to win “Mommy of the Year”, I went in search of food that will make mouths happy and make me feel good about what I’m feeding my family. Here’s a couple of our favorites from the week.

We don’t offer boxed cereal for breakfast in our house except on vacation or special occasions. Read why we tell our children (and clients) “boxed cereal is not real food“.  Don’t worry though, there are lots of homemade cereal options out there and I have made some yummy granola a few times. But, in case you don’t know, I’m not a morning person. And I don’t drink coffee. So, quick and easy breakfasts that meet the above goals, are a huge plus.

20130901_085512This week, I made this delicious cold meusli-like cereal and everyone loved it. I made it on a morning when we didn’t have much food in the house and people were hanging on the edge of Hangry (hungry+angry). Caleb had run to the store to get some Labor Day food and I decided to whip this up while everyone was waiting.

It only has a handful of ingredients (I did add chia seeds and sesame seeds as well).

Toss them in the food processor, pulse a few times, and serve with your favorite milk-alternative.

The final favorite this week was Chocolate “Milkshakes”. That’s right. For breakfast. Remember the mommy-of-the-year award goal above. But, before you start thinking I’ve totally lost it, I am redeemed by avocado, chia, banana, and almonds. So good. No, you can’t taste the avocado. Yes, all the kids loved it – and asked for more. Today I served it alongside other things I’m not as proud of like GF toast and sausage.  But, hey. We made it to school on time (barely) and with food in our bellies and smiles on our faces.

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Two Days of Quick/Easy Meals – and Remember, I’m not a Blogger

Shout out to the daily or even consistent bloggers out there. Whew! How do you do it?

I’m just going to quickly post some recipes and a couple of pictures. Then hours later, I’ve finally got a finished post.

So, here’s the nuts and bolts since I’m a day behind. Also, I wasn’t home for dinner-time either night, so there are no pictures. I am not Martha Stewart, nor am I a Blogger. But, the kids were fed and bathed and happy, my husband rocks, and I get to watch babies enter the world.

Yesterday’s highlights:

Delicious veggie and turkey bacon scrambled eggs for breakfast. Onion, tons of garlic (to keep those back-to-school germs on their way out), red pepper, and cilantro. A few half pieces of turkey bacon chopped up and sauteed, then mixed in with the eggs. Served the veggies on top of  the eggs because I don’t like slimy veggies. The vegan cuties had left-over baked oatmeal and fruit.

The afternoon was busy with meetings and classes so lunch for the kids was kid food – sandwiches, and such (see below for Real Food lunch ideas). I had a big salad with a spoonful of leftover molé. Yum.

Dinner was taco salad. Since I was out for the night, I switched out the more complex meal that was planned for taco salad since it’s easy and always a big hit in our house.

Remember those beans that my husband spiced up for Monday’s birthday dinner? I’m a big fan of making of crockpot full of beans that we then use in different recipes all week. They’re not Paleo-friendly, but our kids and the cutie vegan nieces love them. :) I buy organic dried bulk beans, rinse, put the whole thing in a crockpot with plenty of water. Turn it on low and cook all day. They soak and cook at the same time and turn out great. Don’t add salt until they’re done cooking or they will stay hard. Use them for taco salad, taco kits in kids lunches, soups, make them into refried beans in the Ninja. Yummy. Do the same with pintos, black beans, or chickpeas for hummus.

The Paleo husband warmed up the leftover molé to top his salad. The kids like to assemble and make their own unique creations and it works well for the vegans and paleos alike – vegan cheese, mexican spiced ground beef, organic corn chips, extra veggies, and my husband’s delicious guacamole. Oh, and of course, Cholula, or as we like to call it, “The Lady”.

This morning, everyone had a big bowl of oatmeal (steal cut for most of our kids) with toppings of their choice.

Lunch was a special treat from one of my husband’s authors – Sherpa House Indian food (well, they ate at the restaurant and they bought me delicious takeout). The youngest and the nieces had a picnic with sandwiches and fruit on the front lawn. The older ones got sandwiches and other varieties of stuff. School lunches!! – that’s a whole other blog series, which I will not be writing, as it has already been done very well by 100 Days of Real Food and many others. Check out Real Food’s  post on switching it up and planning ahead (many of the suggestions are great for adult’s lunches as well).

This afternoon I had to run out to assist at a birth. Remember how I was going to plan ahead, have all the shopping done, and make it easy while I’m on call. Well, I did most of that. I just didn’t make it to the health food store (I think I’m always a little overwhelmed and shopped-out after the big Costco trip. But, there’s always more to buy since they don’t carry all of our wonderful fresh organic veggies.) and this week I plan to hit the farmer’s market or a u-pick farm instead.

Sooooo, I quickly texted my husband and suggested pancakes. Yes, you read that right. Pancakes for dinner. Oh, and some left-over turkey bacon for the meat-eaters.

Before you go thinking fluffy IHOP and Aunt Jemima thoughts, I’ll tell you that they are buckwheat pancakes which are paleo-friendly (with a vegan option) and my husband adds nuts, seeds, fruit, and any other delicious ingredients that he can get away with that makes us feel better about feeding our family pancakes for dinner.

Conveniently, there was some labor-sitting going on at tonight’s birth, and I had to run an errand for something we needed for the birth. While I was out, I made a quick stop by the store for the week’s remaining food ingredients.

Then, I got to watch a sweet baby boy enter the world.

And, I was home in time for Indian leftovers, a phone chat with our sister who sent sunflowers to us! and blogging about food on my midwifery site while watching the end of The Matrix with my man.

Whew. Back on track.

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Simple Immune-Boosting Lunch and Birthday Deliciousness – Molé!

After a nice morning, 6 out of 8 of us headed to Costco for our week’s worth of food, and then came home for a quick lunch and rest.

LunchLunch

Peanut butter snack crackers on 5-seed GF crackers, delicious local organic peaches, fire trucks (vitamin C and antioxidant-rich red peppers), carrots, and Uncle Andrei’s/Papa’s beet, ginger, orange sour kraut (to keep the good guys fighting the good fight against the back-to-school germs).

Afternoon Snack

One of the staple snacks in our school lunches is coco bliss balls.  We do something similar to this recipe for Cacao Balls. Today’s variation included walnuts, dates, coconut, dried cranberries, flax, and cacao nibs. Super easy to whip up in the Ninja and the kids love them.

After picking up the remaining 2 kiddos at school, I ran to the store for the last few items for Caleb’s birthday dinner. For tonight’s meal, he wanted authentic Mexican food and chose Chicken Molé.

I’ve never made molé before, but with chocolate on the list of ingredients, how could I resist?

Dinner

20130826_185051It’s rare that I follow a recipe so closely but the only thing I changed in this Chicken Molé recipe was to add a little cumin and omit the raisins (no fans of cooked raisins in this house).

We served the molé wrapped in bibb lettuce and topped with more red peppers and cilantro. So chocolaty rich, and Paleo-friendly.

What did I serve those cute little vegan nieces and children who don’t like spicy?

Sides of cilantro-lime brown rice (quinoa version for us paleo peeps), Caleb’s seasoned black beans, and a big green salad with roasted red pepper dressing.

Dessert

We postponed the chocolate strawberry truffle pie recipe we had planned for tonight due raw cashews that had not yet been soaked. So instead, we had quick and easy mango sorbet.
I don’t have a recipe but we use organic frozen mangoes with fresh lime juice and full-fat coconut milk. Mix it all in the Ninja and then freeze until firm. Delish!

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Meal Planning and Baked Oatmeal

With my husband’s birthday today, 2 cute little visiting nieces, week #2 of back-to-school for our kids, and a little more free time on my hands now that my face isn’t plastered to a midwifery textbook, I’ve decided we’re going to celebrate by having delicious food for our mouths and minds. To make it a little easier and less intimidating to feed all 8 of us, I’ve created an addition to my Google calendar and called it “Meals” – catchy, huh?  (which I hope will continue on into weekly planning to help us stay sane while I’m on call).

Since I know it can be a challenge to think up healthy, whole food options to feed your growing family (and belly when you’re pregnant) I thought I’d share our week’s recipes on the WTG blog.

Due to some food allergies in our family, as well as a desire to eat well and feel good, we’ve currently landed on Paleo-esque with a strong plant-base. And, since my vegan nieces are here, we’ll have even more veg-friendly choices this week (with a sneak of meat for the birthday boy). However, I’m not a Food Blogger (notice the capital letters), and I’m also not a real Vegan, like my Leafeater SIL, who is both. All of my recipes will have originated from someone else and may be modified to meet our GF, DF, vegan, paleo needs. All of that to say, there should be something yummy on here for everyone.

Without further ado, tomorrow morning’s breakfast is Baked Oatmeal (with green smoothies – more on that in another post) and is inspired by the Big Lake, WA Johnsons (my other SIL and BIL and his family) and this recipe, modified as stated above (and with less sugar). The kids all love it and the best part? It can be made ahead (tonight) and reheated (tomorrow). And, you can load it up with nuts, seeds, and anything else that makes you feel better about eating a big oatmeal cookie for breakfast.

Baked Oatmeal (not Paleo)

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Baked Oatmeal – Vegan on the left; GF/DF on the right

  • 3 cups rolled oats (Bob’s Redmill for GF option)
  • 1/3 C coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 eggs (sub flax eggs for vegan)
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, fresh or frozen cherries, blueberries, or any other fruit of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Stir in fruit. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes
  4. Pour your milk alternative over the top, and pile on the candied walnuts (toasted with melted coconut oil and a sprinkle of coconut sugar), seeds, and other yummy proteins.
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Delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Dip

One of my favorite things to do is to take old favorite foods and make them delicious and healthy. Something I’m not only o.k. serving my children, but that I feel really good about. And, with a family of 6, it’s important to make our treats and snacks cost-effective.

We were at a home visit for a client recently, and she served yummy tea biscuits and Nutella for a snack. Yum.

hazelnut-chocolateChocolate and hazelnuts. What better combo is there? I know, I had you at chocolate. But here’s some health benefits of hazelnuts. They’re an energy-booster and rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic as well as the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid.

These nuts are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals. Hazels are exceptionally rich in folate, a unique feature to this nut, and many other important B-complex vitamins. An excellent source of viatmin E, and a rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

With a list like that, I’m even more excited.

Because we have dairy sensitivities, and because I get a little too excited about making things from whole foods (and extra credit for #DF, #GF, #SF–dairy, gluten, and sugar-free), I decided to find a recipe for a homemade all-natural version of that old favorite that works for our family. And, true to form, I had to modify everything that I found. So, I just decided to wing it (as usual).

Yummy ingredients:

1.5C hazlenuts (I got them in bulk at Whole Foods)

1T coconut oil (I buy the huge tub of Nutiva from Costco)

1/4 – 1/2 C full fat coconut milk (or other alternative milk of your choice)

1.5T organic cocoa or cacao powder

1t real vanilla

pinch of sea salt (to taste)

1/2C dates (again the big tub from Costco)

Boiling water

What to do with those yummy ingredients:

roasted hazelnutsRoast the hazlenuts in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the skins are dark brown (careful not to burn). Remove their skins by rolling them around in a wire strainer or rubbing them with a clean dish towel (don’t worry if all of the skins don’t come off).

While the hazlenuts are in the oven, pour boiling water to cover the dates and let soak.

Put the fresh roasted hazlenuts and the coconut oil in your Ninja, Vitamix, or whatever powerful blender/food processor gadget you own for about 8-10 minutes, scraping down the sides every couple of minutes. I actually gave our Ninja its own room with a closed door for this project because, though I love it, it’s very loud (especially when the hubs is practicing the piano). Your end product should be smooth and creamy.

Add remaining ingredients until desired consistency. You may need to add a touch more boiling water depending on the type of milk you used. It should be a nice apple dipping consistency.

20130505_151848I served it warm (still warm from the roasted hazlenuts and boiling water) with apple and banana slices and our favorite nut/seed crackers.

And, success! 5 out of 6 of us LOVE it!   :0/

Happy dipping and please feel free to share your favorite healthy whole food recipes as well.