June 30 Day Challenge

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will remember I did a May Health and Wellness Challenge, this month. I set some goals for myself to follow and it was a great success. For the month of June, I decided I would try another challenge for myself. It is a big step for me and I have been thinking about it for a long time, like around a year. Over the last month, I have felt an even stronger calling and decided to give it a go…

I will be doing a 30 Day Vegan challenge.

We already eat a lot of vegan and “accidently” vegan foods due to the fact myself and my kids are dairy and egg free because of allergies. As I have been eating cleaner and more whole/ plant based foods, I am finding I have aversions to meat. I don’t eat much chicken but do eat red meat and pork on occasion. I am also just finding that my body is loving all the grains, fruits, vegetables and that I just feel great after eating a 100% plant based meal. I gave up soda at the beginning in May and found that my migraine headaches went away. I typically would get at least 1-2 a month and in May went without having any besides early on in the month during my cycle. I am curious to see if eating even cleaner will help in my overall wellness. I know there have been many documentaries on the subject like Forks Over Knives and Vegucated, which I recommend anyone checking out!

We don’t get to go to Whole Foods often because it is a bit of a drive from our house, but we went and stocked up on a few vegan treats we don’t always have since I will be doing this challenge.

Shayne enjoyed picking out some treats!

Shayne enjoyed picking out some treats!

I know going vegan is extreme for many people, but I do invite you to make one change in your diet whether it be giving up soda, drinking more water, doing “meatless Mondays” or eliminating processed foods. One small change can make a big change in the way you feel. I will be doing weekly updates like I did with my May challenge and I will share the recipes and foods I eat! I am really looking forward to this and sharing my journey this month with you.

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May Health & Fitness Challenge Status: COMPLETE!

If you have been following me, you know I have been doing a Health & Fitness Challenge this month. I am so happy I decided to do it, thanks to Valerie at Atlanta Mom of Three for inviting me and many other bloggers to do it!

This challenged really helped me to stay on track with my journey to a healthier and happier me! I have been a month soda free and I noticed I have not had horrible migraines I would get about once or twice a month. I look forward to continuing not drinking soda just because I believe it isn’t good for me and to see if my headaches continue to decrease or even diminish completely 🙂

I have been drinking tons of water and iced tea, perfect for the summer. Enjoying my smoothies! And even working out. Here are a few of the smoothies I made this week!

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I passed my goal of losing 5 lbs this month and lost 6, which is awesome.

I am certainly well on my way to my goal weight of where I feel my best. I decided to do a June challenge for myself, which I will announce later in a separate post. I am very excited about it as I know it will take more work and determination.

How did you do this month!?

 

 

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

Baby Led Weaning

With my first child, my husband and I had never thought much about when our baby would start solids. I knew since he was breast fed, I wanted to wait at least 6 months before introducing solids just because I figured by then is when he would be more developmentally capable. We went out and bought organic rice cereal and many jars of organic baby food purées.

When he turned 6 months, we tried the typical spoon feeding of baby food from sweet potato, rice cereal, peas, carrots, bananas, you name it. He just wasn’t all that interested. In fact, I stressed to no end for a few months because he just would fight it. Most days, his meals would end with him getting upset and me stressing because he just was not getting it and no matter what we tried, he just would not take more than a small taste or so. After a few months, I decided we would hold off on solids. He was still very into nursing and I heard of the saying “foods are for fun before the age of one” meaning, he did not need solids since he was still getting my milk and thriving. I read many books and articles and discovered baby led weaning (BLW). Unfortunately, by this time, he was almost a year old and we discovered his food allergies so we were adjusting to a lot so didn’t fully implement BLW..

With our second child, we have taken a much more natural and instinctual approach with everything including feeding. He has definitely been more food motivated but I am sure because he sees his older brother eating. But also, we have never fed him from a jar and spoon. He has never had any type of rice cereal either. Instead we decided to try out BLW. And boy, what a difference. I have not stressed about him eating or worried that he isn’t or won’t get a balanced diet. Ever since he was 6-7 months old, he has eaten basically what we eat. We did start with avocado, butternut squash/ sweet potato fries and then worked out way up from there. But he has not had really any puréed food besides the occasional pouch when out and about. I am finding he likes a bigger variety of foods. Plus, it’s waaaaaay easier and cheaper.

Basically what baby led weaning is, is no mush. No weird combinations of puréed meats, fruits and vegetables. No rice cereals, which I believe shouldn’t be offered, ever. No stressing over how much they eat. No worries about buying the baby bullet, food processor, ice cube trays etc. Just real food. You cut up food into slices or sticks to start off with and let them have at it! They can hold it, gnaw it, suck it and really learn and discover foods. You let them go at their own pace, hence the name. If they like it, great. If not, that’s fine too. Let them decide.

Trying out a banana - 6 months old

Trying out a banana

Not only does it help them learn how to eat, it helps with their motor skills too. They can work on picking up, grasping and bringing it to their mouths. They learn to chew before swallowing instead of just straight swallowing like they would a purée which can sometimes cause them to gag more once they are introduced to chunks of food.

Avocado

Avocado

BLW can be done if baby has teeth or no teeth too. You start off with soft foods so even if they just have gums, they will have no problem chewing. I recommend starting off with avocado, sweet potato (fries), steamed carrots, banana or mango. All are soft and can be easily sliced in pieces for them to hold. Eventually you will cut it up into bite size pieces for them to develop their pincer grasp. Baby will probably gag, but remember they have reflexes that make their gag more sensitive and it’s their way of moving food around. I actually found, in our experience that Braydon, who we did BLW with gagged MUCH less than Shayne who was fed traditional baby food.

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Don’t stress about the amount they eat. Don’t even put the food in their mouth, let them do all the work to avoid serious gagging. You don’t have to worry about making sure they get 3 meals a day. As long as you nurse before hand, offer them some of what you’re eating whenever. Even when we started with Braydon, there were some days he just wasn’t interested and so we would skip a few days. All was well. Now at a year, he is a very developed eater.

Although, I know BLW may not be for every parent, I definitely recommend parents looking into it. I believe in really listening to my babies and following their leads and BLW has helped. I no longer stress over feeding them as babies. I think so many parents rush into solids and stress when baby just isn’t interested or eating what they think they should be eating. Many times the baby just isn’t quite ready and it causes more stress. BLW takes all the guesswork out of feeding and makes it fun.

 

Below I have added some great websites if you are wanting to look more into BLW.

 

Resources:

http://www.babyledweaning.com

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/babyledweaning.htm#.U4X139EU_IU

http://nourishedkitchen.com/baby-led-weaning/

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

PRT- Earth Mama Angel Baby

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I will be starting a new series of posts called, Product Review Tuesday (or PRT). I know, I know, creative right 🙂 Anyway, I get asked A LOT what I use on us, our kids, about certain foods and many other products we use because we do strive for living as naturally and chemical free as we can. I also have a lot of new items I will be trying for the first time in the upcoming months and thought it would be nice to share my opinions on them as I know being a mom myself, I am always looking for fun, new items to try out that may be helpful for myself or the kids.

I thought I would start off with one of my absolute favorite brands, Earth Mama Angel Baby (EMAB). They are a wonderful company out of Oregon who have created a wonderful line of organic, chemical free products for mamas, mamas to be and babies/ children. Don’t worry about the men in your life, even Kyle has been known to use some of these products 😉 I decided I wanted to review their products because I have pretty much tried and owned almost every single of the items they sell. I guess it’s a bit of an obsession… But no, really, I love their products and would recommend them to anyone looking for get smelling, gentle, safe, chemical free, organic body products that actually work!

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My personal stash, minus a few items that are currently in use

Here is EMAB’s mission:

Earth Mama believes in the natural process of birth, and the healing power of nature. Our mission is to provide safe, herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and babies of all ages, and to help educate people about traditional plant medicine and safe personal care. We manufacture natural and organic products that work, combining generations of women’s wisdom and traditional plant medicine with the safety and assurances of contemporary evidence based research. If it doesn’t measure up to Mama’s standards, it doesn’t leave the building. That’s Mama’s Promise®. – EarthMamaAngelBaby.com

They never use lanolin, SLS, preservatives or parabens. Their products are certified organic, cruelty free, vegan and non-GMO verified.

For Mama/ Mama to Be

For Mama/ Mama to Be

Another thing I love about their products is that there are many alternative uses for them. For example, I have used their mama bottom spray and mama bottom balm for aftershave because I have sensitive skin and tend to get red bumps on my legs after shaving. I either spray the spray or put some of the balm on my legs after I shave and I no longer get the red rashes or bumps! Both these products were great for healing after my vaginal birth as well!

The lotion and oil smell amazing. I used them on my growing pregnancy belly during my second pregnancy. They helped get rid of any itching from the stretching skin on my belly and in my opinion helped reduce the amount of stretch marks I got.

The soap is castile soap and it foams. So revitalizing and energizing, great for any mama! It is gentle and leaves my skin feeling clean, not like I have a film left over like when I used chemical based soaps in the past.

Nipple Butter is great! I love that it can be used over and over for soothing sore or cracked nipples. And you don’t have to worry about wiping it off before baby nurses because it is 100% safe. It has a wonderful cocoa smell because of the cocoa butter in it and it really heals. I used it during the first few weeks after having Braydon and I was only sore for about a week as compared to 4-6 weeks with my first when I used a lanolin based product. When you no longer need it for soothing sore breasts, it is great for cracked, chapped baby cheeks during the winter months or dry skin on mama or daddy!

Organic Herbal Teas

Organic Herbal Teas

I only have a few of their teas but have been lucky enough to try all of them besides the No More Milk Tea. The Heartburn Tea was PERFECT for soothing heartburn during my second pregnancy! I was actually skeptical at first but then I tried it and it really works. After pregnancy, it can be used for stomach aches or heartburn. The Milkmaid Tea is great for breast feeding mamas who want a delicious tea that will help increase milk supply. I found that I had a remarkable increase in my supply within 24 hours of drinking some. The Third Trimester Tea is great for the last trimester of your pregnancy. It contains red raspberry leaf which helps tone your uterus for labor. The Monthly Comfort Tea is great for that special time of the month and during postpartum. It is very calming and helps whenever hormones are raging! They also have Peaceful Mama tea which is a nice calming tea that tastes amazing and Morning Wellness Tea for pregnancy and nausea.

For Baby

For Baby

I really like their products for baby. I really love that they have two scents of their soaps. They have orange vanilla and lavender. Both are amazing. I will warn that since they are castile soaps, you need to be sure to avoid eye contact because it can burn baby eyes. The lotion is very soothing and keeps our baby’s skin extremely soft! The oil is great for super dry skin in the winter. And the Baby Bottom Balm is one of the most fast acting, healing diaper rash balms I have used. Plus it also smells so good! The bottom balm can be used for healing scrapes, minor burns, chapped skin, rashes (even fungal rashes) and thrush.

All of their products, if you haven’t notice by now, smell so good. I have been known to just open up a jar and smell it because they just soothe you by smelling it. A lot of people worry about the price or the size. Yes, they do run a bit more expensive than most chemical laden products but I believe you get what you pay for. And I mean it when I say a little goes a looooong way with all of their products. I have only had to buy replacements for the teas and soaps over the last 2 years and we use their stuff everyday.

I really encourage you to check them out if you are looking for a new bath and body product, that is organic and chemical free, for your whole family. Also, check out their alternative uses for their products and see if one would be useful if you are looking for something more specific.

 

 

**Please note: I am in no way affliated with Earth Mama Angel Baby nor do I receive any type of compensation from them for sharing their products. I just am a very happy consumer who loves their products and wants to share my opinion with others.

 

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

 

Delaying Cord Clamping

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A practice that seems to be becoming more popular. Many new parents are adding delayed cord clamping to their birth plans. In this post I will outline my opinions and reasons why my husband and I choose to delay cord clamping with our babies. With our first child, my birth plan was pretty much thrown out the window. I did have delayed cord clamping on it, but the attitude of the doctor and nurses once a csection was decided was that they made the decisions from then on out. With our second son, I also had a birth plan written out and cord clamping was on it again. We got our wishes and did let the cord stop pulsing and go limp before it was cut.

Delayed cord clamping has been a somewhat controversial topic for decades. To me it is one of the most unnecessary medical intervention doctors have adopted. I think it all goes back to just rushing birth so the doctor can finish up as soon as possible. Many doctors still clamp and cut the cord within the first 5-10 seconds baby is born, then the baby is whisked away to be weighed, cleaned off and checked over. But why not just let nature be? In nature, mammals deliver the placenta on their own and the cord pulses, goes limp and turns white and it actually will sever and disconnect from the baby on it’s own. Guess what!? Same goes for us humans.

Benefits of Delaying Cord Clamping

  • Baby will receive ALL of the blood they are intended to have. When the cord is cut right away, up to half of their blood may remain in the cord and placenta. To me, this is a big deal.
  • To go along the lines of the previous reason, baby will receive around 30-35mg of iron when they receive all their cord blood. This is important considering pediatricians seem to be so concerned about infants getting enough iron in the first 6 months of life especially. Many moms are told to supplement with formula that is fortified with iron or give iron drops. Studies have shown that babies whose cord was clamped early were at much higher risk of anemia. It is important for babies who are born to mother’s who are anemic to delay cord clamping as it may help them avoid low iron levels. Plus, when our babies get all their blood and no sign of anemia (history in family could be another exception), there is no need to supplement with iron at all as we were designed to have enough iron stores to last the first 6 months, maybe even longer. Most babies start solids by 6 months and can receive iron from foods instead of artificial supplements.
  • In preterm babies, late clamping has been shown to decrease need of blood transfusion and decrease in chances of hemorrhaging.
  • Decreased chance of blood loss of the mother. Why!? Because early cord clamping has become an intervention to get the placenta delivered quicker which can lead to complications and potential blood loss in the mother.
  • Baby will get skin to skin and won’t be taken from mother right after delivery. This was another important one for me. Since baby is still connected to you, baby cannot be taken away, washed, weighed etc. Baby (and mother) will benefit from skin to skin contact, the cord will empty on it’s own and placenta can be delivered at a natural pace.
  • Decrease in breathing difficulties in baby. Your blood carries your oxygen, right? When baby gets all his blood, he gets more oxygen.

There are really no risks when it comes to delayed cord clamping. Several studies have shown that when delaying cord clamping, there is a slight increase in jaundice. However, many studies have proven these increases to be of no worry and jaundice is actually NORMAL in most cases.

Another question that comes up, is can parents still bank cord blood AND delay cord clamping? In short, most likely not. I have heard and read of some being able to let the cord pulse for 60 seconds before clamping it for cord blood banking, but typically the cord blood banking companies need the cord to be clamped within the first 5-10 seconds. If you absolutely want to bank your baby’s cord blood, I would see if it is possible to let the cord pulse the 60 seconds as a minute is better than right away. So this is another thing to consider when deciding and I encourage parents to really research it thoroughly.

I highly encourage all mamas to be to consider and do their research on this topic. To me, it’s a no brainer. Delayed cord clamping can even be done with cesarean sections and preterm babies as long as there is no medical complication, as even if you let the cord be for 2-3 minutes, baby will receive so many of the above benefits! Make sure to include it in your birth plan and talk to your provider.

 

 

resources:

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=206143

 

 

All Images ©2014 Naturally Awesome Mama All Rights Reserved

May Health & Fitness Challenge Week 2-3

Week 3 is done for my May Health and Fitness Challenge!

I decided to combine my update for week 2 and 3 together because they went basically the same. I have done great the last 2 weeks!

This week I reached my 5 lb weight loss goal for the month! And instead of doing my cardio every other day, I have actually been doing cardio….EVERYDAY! I have found that I really enjoy my workouts so have been doing 2-3 miles a day. I discovered an awesome app called Songza, that I have been using as a playlist for my workouts. I turn up the music and just go. I zone out from everything and it has been amazing. 😀

I have been completely soda free and don’t even miss it. Drinking water, iced black tea and iced green tea have been my go to’s and I am loving it.

It has been crazy here with the weather. Most the days have been warm or HOT so I have been saving most of my smoothies for the evening, post work out. I have been making “blender ice cream” in my vitamix, which is: 2 frozen bananas, 2 T peanut butter, 1/2-1 cup vanilla almond milk, a couple dashes of cinnamon and 1 T raw cacao powder. Blend it all up and it is like soft serve ice cream! Great treat, smoothie and so delicious, it’s an added bonus that it is actually good for you! The boys have been enjoying it too!

One more week to go in this challenge! I am feeling great and motivated to continue!

Need smoothie motivation? Check out my latest post all about smoothies here!

 

Previous Posts

May Health & Fitness Challenge Intro

Week 1 Update

Birth IS a big deal

Nothing bothers me more when I hear someone say something suggesting that having a cesarean section is the quick, easy “way out” or it isn’t a big deal or especially I wish I had a csection!  This actually came up this past week. A good friend of mine messaged me on Facebook asking for advice and told me about a conversation she had with an acquaintance who had just had a baby. Of course, the birth came up and the new mother said how bad she tore and that it took such a long time for her to push baby out, then getting stitched up after she tore. My friend, who is also a cesarean mother, mentioned that she can understand the pain and having to wait an hour or longer to be stitched up after her cesarean. Her friend replied, “I would have much rather had a csection”. Now why am I writing a whole post about one simple statement? Well because this is something that as a cesarean mother, who felt that her csection was unnecessary, this really gets under my skin. I also know these type of statements bother many other cesarean mothers.

In the society we live in today, there is still this belief that a csection is just a quick, routine surgery. That it is so convenient some Hollywood actresses have been known for scheduling their child’s birth around their busy schedule full of appearances, photo shoots and vacations. Yet many are still blind to the fact that a cesarean section is a major abdominal surgery. It requires anesthesia, a surgeon (OB) and a team of many nurses assisting. They carry risk of hysterectomy, blood transfusion, blood clots, infection to name a few. Not to mention, the pain that can last upwards of a month or more and the 4-6 inch scar the woman will have the rest of her life. In fact, I dare you to ask any mother who has had an unnecessary, traumatic or emergency cesarean or complications from a cesarean, if it was easy.

Now I am not saying that a woman who has had a vaginal birth can’t have trauma or complications or pain that lasts months. Just like I know there are women who enjoyed their cesarean deliveries. All I am saying is we need to change the way we talk to women about their births, even mother to mother. We need to come together and support each other, not make each other feel like one birth is any easier than the other. Because quite frankly, birth is not easy. Our bodies go through so much to birth our babies. First off, our body nourishes our unborn baby for 9-10 months. Our organs get squished making us have to pee every 10 minutes one month, then feeling like we are constantly out of breath the next. We get baby feet stuck in our ribs and elbows pressed in our sides. We feel things that no man, and some women, will ever feel when labor starts. Our body produces all sorts of hormones and adrenaline. Some woman labor for days or hours. And with a cesarean, a woman will have her stomach and uterus cut open all while laying there strapped to an operating table, wide awake in most cases. In extreme cases, a mother won’t even be able to witness her child’s birth or hear those first cries due to being put under for an emergency csection. We, as mothers, all go through and give up so much for this tiny human being we have never touched, held, smelled or even seen face to face.

So for all those mothers who had an unplanned cesarean, made to feel like your body failed you, you are anything but a failure. You are strong and courageous.

For those mothers who had a peaceful vaginal birth, you are goddesses.

To the mother who had a traumatic, painful vaginal birth. You are amazing and a fighter.

No matter how you feel about your baby’s entrance into this world, if you are happy, sad, disappointed, feel regret, anger or any other emotion. Know that it is okay to feel that way. No one should ever make you feel like your feelings are not validated. No one should ever make you feel like you took the easy way out. Because birth isn’t easy any way it comes. And unfortunately, I know many women, including myself who have felt all these emotions about their child(s) births, before being made to feel like their cesarean is no big deal.

So the next time a mother wants to confide in you or you decide to ask her about her birth experience. Let her do the talking. Many women just want to talk and get their emotions out without feeling like they shouldn’t feel a certain way or feeling judged. Let her know it is ok to feel how she feels and she is supported instead of comparing births because even if you don’t agree with how she feels, EVERY BIRTH IS A BIG DEAL.

 

peace.love.live. ❤

 

 

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All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

Smoothie Tips

I always get asked about the smoothies I drink. I drink one everyday just about everyday. I believe they have helped me lose the weight I have so far and also get me an extra boost of whole, real foods. Smoothies have completely changed my life, if I can be honest. They can replace a meal or a snack. They will fill you up and hydrate you. And best of all, they are super healthy and nutritious for you. I figured I would do a post sharing my smoothie tips and tricks, also share a favorite recipe or two!

 

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What I Put in My Smoothies

  • Fruits – No brainer here. You can put any fruit in a smoothie. I typically use frozen because I like my smoothies to be icy cold and if the fruit is frozen, I don’t have to refrigerate my smoothie and wait or add ice.
  • Vegetables – I typically use dark greens like spinach, chard and kale. But have also used beets, carrots and cucumbers.
  • Juice – I try and use 100% juice, not from concentrate organic juice. If organic is not on sale, I will get 100% juice where there is no added ingredients.
  • Non Dairy Milk – ALL the smoothies I drink are vegan. We do not consume dairy milk in our house due to allergies. Plus, I believe plant based milks are better for us and tastier! My favorite is almond milk. I will also use coconut or hemp on occasion and rarely, soy, just because it isn’t my favorite, taste wise.
  • Ice Cubes – I use regular water ice cubes most the time. But have also tried coffee, coconut water, juice and non dairy milk ice cubes. It’s nice to switch it up with flavors and won’t give a watered down flavor if the smoothie melts a bit.
  • Seeds & Nuts – raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) etc. I use raw because they are least processed and not salted or anything added!
  • Super foods – Chia, Flax, Spirulina, coconut oil, powders etc. For more information on these, check out my previous post here.
  • Nut butters – My favorites are peanut or almond butter! Add a great boost of protein. Once again, I make sure they are organic or just one ingredient!
  • Spices – I use cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric and salt, depending on the smoothie.

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What type of blender can I use?

I do LOVE my Vitamix, which is considered a high speed blender. I have used a regular blender in the past and did have to make some extra care when preparing my smoothies. But it is very possible to make delicious, creamy smoothies with a regular blender.

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Tips & Tricks

  • Freezing Fruits – The only fruits I freeze on my own are melon, bananas and grapes. I buy the rest of my fruits frozen in bags from the grocery store. I buy organic as much as possible. If you do not have a high speed blender, I recommend slicing up fruits in 1 inch thick cubes or slices for easy blending. The nice thing about using frozen fruits as opposed to fresh is that when they are bought frozen, they are frozen at their best and last a long time when properly stored so you don’t have to worry about having bad fruit when you want to make a smoothie.
  • Green Smoothies – When I mention green smoothies to people, ie. smoothies with spinach, kale or spirulina, the first question or reaction I get is, “ew , don’t you taste the spinach!?”  And the answer is, if I could, I probably wouldn’t drink them as much as I do. The trick with green smoothies is having a good ratio of greens to fruits if you want to avoid a strong grassy flavor. Citrus (pineapple, orange) and berries are very good at covering up the flavor of greens without taking away the nutritional benefits!
  • Milkshake Smoothies – if you are looking for a dessert or shake like smoothie, add a frozen banana. Frozen bananas give smoothies a soft serve consistency and will thicken up your smoothie!
  • Too thick – If your smoothie is too thick to sip, you can add some water, although I love using  spoon to enjoy my smoothies from time to time. Another time it may be beneficial to add some more liquid, is if you have a regular blender and need help getting things moving and blending. Add a splash at a time to get things going.
  • Sweeten it up – some smoothie recipes will use lemon, lime or have a bland taste. If you need to off set sour or just need a bit of sweetening up, you can add a teaspoon or two of agave syrup, real maple syrup or a few drops of stevia.
  • Not smooth enough – If you don’t have a high powered blender, your smoothie may not always come out completely blended. You may end up with chunks which is not so pleasant. Smoothies are meant to be, well, smooth. I have found blending ingredients in steps often helps. For example, if you are using leafy greens, blend the greens and liquid until smooth, then add your remaining ingredients. Also, letting your frozen fruits, especially bananas, thaw a bit in the blender before blending.

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Basic Smoothie Formula

If you are wanting to get creative and come up with your own smoothies, here is a basic formula.

1/2 – 1 cup liquid  (will depend on type of blender and whether or not using fresh or frozen ingredients)

1 1/2-2 cup fruits

1 cup greens (omit if you don’t want to make green smoothie)

1 T boosts (seeds, nuts etc)

and/ or

1-2 T nut butter

 

Now onto a couple of my favorite recipes… 🙂

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

1 1/2-2 frozen bananas

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (more if using regular blender)

1 T raw cacao powder (can sub cocoa powder)

2 T peanut butter

dash or two of cinnamon

 

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.

 

 

Green Sunshine Smoothie

Green Sunshine

Green Sunshine

1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

1/2 cup orange juice

1-2 handfuls of spinach

1/2 cup frozen pineapple

1/2 cup frozen peach slices

1 fresh or frozen banana

Boost: 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)

 

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth!

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Hope you found this post helpful! If you have any other comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below! Have you made up your own smoothie you want to share?

 

Get creative and enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

Chia Pudding- 2 flavors, 2 ways

I am always looking for new and delicious healthy snacks. I came across chia pudding several months ago, tried a recipe here and there and never none never quite did it for me. I have always wanted to love or even really like chia pudding considering it is very versatile, easy to make, and best of all, healthy! It can be eaten for breaskfast, snacks or dessert. The nice thing about these are that you can use my recipes as a baseline for your own chia pudding creations.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Now if the picture isn’t enough to make you want to run to your kitchen right now and make some, maybe you need some nutritional information on how healthy chia seeds are for you:

In 1/4 cup of chia seeds, you will be getting about 160 calories, 20 grams of fiber, 10 grams of complete protein, a hefty dose of omega fatty acids, along with calcium, manganese and phosphorus. They keep you feeling full longer which is great for aiding in weight loss.

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Now to the recipes. I will be honest, regular chia pudding has an interesting, to say the least, texture. If you are expecting Jell-O Instant pudding from the box, you will probably be a bit disappointed. Chia pudding does take getting use to, at least for me it did. I just had to try different recipes and eventually just make my own up and taste as I went. I have never had tapioca pudding, but hear people saying that the textures are similar. If you are like me and have no idea what tapioca pudding is like, chia pudding is like goopy, almost slimy little beads. I know, maybe not going to win you over with that description, BUT before I scare you off, rest easy knowing that it can be blended to a smooth consistency and you will still get the same benefits! Or just go for it and try it without blending and maybe you will love it. I have included a couple recipes, unblended and blended for your enjoyment!

 

Vanilla Chia Pudding

By: Jenn

Serves 1-2 depending on hunger 😉

 

1/4 c chia seeds

3/4 -1 cup vanilla almond milk (or your preferred non dairy milk)**

a dash or two of cinnamon

1 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of your choice, to taste**

Toppings of your choice: fresh cut up fruit, berries, nuts, hemp seeds, raisins, cacao nibs or chocolate shavings, coconut flakes…go crazy!

**Note: if you are not fond of the texture of regular chia pudding and plan on blending your pudding, try using a couple pitted medjool dates to sweeten your pudding! If you use unflavored milk, add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Use 3/4 cup milk if you want a super thick pudding or 1 cup for a bit of a thinner pudding.

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to mason jar or other container with a lid. Stir vigorously and put in fridge a minimum of 2 hours, overnight being ideal.

2. Pour into serving glass, top with fruit or other toppings of your choice and enjoy!

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Smooth Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

By: Jenn

Serves 1-2 depending on hunger 😉

 

1/4 cup chia seeds

3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (if using unflavored milk, add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

4-6 medjool dates (pitted), to taste**

1 tablespoon almond butter or substitute peanut butter -or- omit it all together if it ain’t your thing

1/2-1 tablespoon raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

pinch of sea salt

Toppings of choice: fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes etc.

**Note: This recipe is meant to be blended smooth. If you decide you don’t want it blended substitute dates for liquid sweetener of choice, probably about 1-2 tsp maple syrup, agave, sugar depending on how sweet you like it. Or a couple drops of stevia.

Directions

1. Add chia seeds and 3/4 cup milk to blender, let sit for a few minutes.

2. Add dates, nut butter, cacao powder, vanilla (if using) and salt. Blend on high until smooth. If it seems too thick or your blender is having a hard time, add a splash or two more of milk, you don’t want it watery though.

3. Pour into container and let it set if fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. I like to give it about 30 min or more to get it fully thickened and cold.

4. Make Ahead or Overnight pudding- add all ingredients to a mason jar or other container with lid. Stir vigorously with a knife or spoon. Top with lid and set in fridge overnight. In the morning, pour entire contents into blender, pour into serving glass, add toppings and enjoy.

Dig in!!!

Dig in!!!

 

I hope you enjoy this these recipes! Feel free to tweak or change things to adjust to your taste. If you try them, please let me know what you think!

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All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

Natural Labor Comfort Measures

Following up my post on why I chose to have natural childbirth, I thought I would share methods and tips to help one who may be wanting to have a natural birth and avoid pain medications or epidural. Some of these I have personally tried and some I have heard about but have not tried. Let’s get to it…

  • Bradley Classes or Hypnobabies – I have not tried these but have heard nothing but good things. You can visit their websites and see if they would be something you are wanting to try and find a class near you.
  • Essential Oils – I did purchase some oils for my second birth. Unfortunately, I only got to try out one of them while I was in early labor. I diffused lavender which did help calm and relax me. It kept me in a wonderful mindset and I look forward to trying out other oils in future labors. They can be used for aromatherapy or massage. Be sure to do your research on what oils are appropriate and how to use them.
  • Water (Hydrotherapy) – While at home, try taking a shower or bath. Some say it helps relieve pressure and pain. Some hospital and birth centers have water birth tubs. I was not allowed to try for a water birth because my hospital had a policy against VBAC water births. I hope one day I will be able to try using water during labor and/ or delivery.
  • Meditation and Visualization – I did both of these the last month of my pregnancy. While in labor I used visualization to keep myself positive.
  • Birth Affirmations – these are positive sayings a woman can write on cards and hang around her while in labor or simply say to herself while in labor. My favorite was “the power and intensity of my contractions are not stronger than me because they are me”. This really helped me realize that I will get through it. A simple google search will bring up many pages of birth affirmations.
  • Rhythmic Breathing or Moaning – Both of these can be very calming. Instead of holding it in, vocalization during contractions, when a woman lets out a moan (which is vocal breathing) helps calm and release any tension which can help decrease pain during contractions
  • Standing & Walking – Both of these uses gravity to the mother’s advantage. For some, it can be more comfortable than lying down and can make contractions more bearable and productive. It also helps baby get into a better position in the pelvis.
  • Leaning – forward on your partner, the bed or a birthing ball can help if you are having bad back labor. Getting on your hands and knees can do the same.
  • Squatting – Uses gravity to help bring baby down deep into the pelvis. It widens the pelvis and requires less of a bearing down effort to push when delivering baby.
  • Birthing Ball – I did use one of these throughout my whole pregnancy and while in labor in the hospital. It helps relieve pressure on the spine and pelvis while at the same time helping to open the pelvis when legs are spread apart while sitting. The mother can slowly sway and rock which can encourage proper rotation and descent for the baby.
  • Hot & Cold Compresses – can be used to relieve back aches or pains or help cool mama off when a cool damp cloth is applied to her head.
  • Simple Massage or Acupressure – this will depend on the mother. Some don’t want to be touched, some will benefit from massage or touch during contractions.
  • Music – many hospitals will have radios or docks for iPods. Make a playlist of songs from all genres as you won’t know what you will be in the mood for. I loved having music while in earlier stages of labor. Music is something important to me and I love to sing. It helped relax me and keep me calm. It was funny when the nurse said she wouldn’t expect Guns n Roses to be playing. Sure, maybe not the most relaxing but it is something I like and is familiar and that’s what worked for me. By the time transition came, I was done with the music and that’s ok too.
  • Doula – Although, I chose to not have a doula. MANY women benefit from hiring one. A doula is a woman who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after labor. She will also help with getting breastfeeding initiated and answer any questions a mother may have regarding to that. Studies have shown that when a doula attends a birth, the labor tends to be shorter with less complications and reduces the chances of postpartum depression.

 

  • Last, and MOST IMPORTANT – Belief in yourself – Know that your body was made to birth your child. Contractions and any pain you may endure, is all normal. Birth is normal. Women have been birthing their babies for centuries and we will continue to do so. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t handle it, aren’t strong enough or crazy for wanting a natural birth. You are strong enough and can birth your baby the way nature intended.

I am sure there are many other comfort measures for a natural birth. What have you tried? Share with me in the comments!