Month of Me

Boy as I typed that it sounded so selfish. I love life. Truly I do. I’m soooo blessed all around and if you asked me on a scale from 1-10 how happy I am, I’d tell you least an 11…because I’ve got joy, ya know?

Me and my gorgeous husband cheering on the Pens

At any rate, I’m a mom of 3 kids 5 and under…2 of those are twin-toddler boys and one is a spunky 5 year old. My job is a nutrition blogger, consultant, stay-at-home mom, and wife. I’m never bored and time for my self is limited. That’s just where I’m at in life…and I’m sure a lot of you out there are right with me. I love being a mom. For real, these kids bring so much sweetness to life I never would have imagined it. I also know that time flies too fast and to enjoy the moment. Most of the time I do…I can do without the whole wiping butts, boogers, and caked on spaghetti sauce from ears and hair buuuuut I do enjoy this stage in life. But sometimes mamma is tired, ya know? Sometimes I just want to run and hide and change my name and sleep until noon and not wipe butts/noses/caked on sauce and never watch PJ Masks again…ever. It’s just how I feel sometimes (and I know other moms do too)…but we wouldn’t give up our mom status for ANYTHING because they bring soooo much joy to our lives.

May is when we celebrate Mother’s Day. I’m taking this month for self care. Throwing caution to the wind and at the risk of sounding selfish, yep I’m taking May to do things for myself. I have a list of things on my “to-do” list that I’m going to check off this month. For me.

  1. Find new doctors – since moving I don’t have a Primary Care Physician (and others) so I’m going to find ones that fit me. I want a doctor that will listen to me, be a straight shooter, practice (or be open to) complementary medicine (both alternative and mainstream medicine), and down to earth. It’s important to understand your overall health and what you can do to improve it!
  2. Exercise regularly – I don’t (regularly)…I know. As a dietitian a healthy diet
    This is legit, raw, un-makeuped Amanda right there…with coffee, on the elliptical, early in the morning

    and exercise go hand in hand but I haven’t exercised regularly since my boys were born. I enjoy being active and exercising but I use #momlife as an excuse, ya know? My sister is a great workout motivator and we signed up for an 8 week exercise plan that I can do at home. I’m not here to advertise anything (it’s free) but I’m hoping it will be a good start to a lifelong change. I need to make time for myself to exercise. And I will.

  3. Read my Bible daily – sure I read my Bible but it’s not every day. It’s a few times a week and those times are incredible. I love my Jesus and in order to be a better me I need Him and I need His word. This is a huge part of my self care. I want to start with Jesus every day when it is quiet. I need to go to bed earlier so I can be sure to get up for some kid-free time!
  4. Connect – When I resigned from my job I gained precious time with my
    These ladies are some of the most amazing co-workers a girl could have ever asked for!

    children (and I don’t regret it for a second) but I also lost a lot (just being real). I lost my career, I lost my professional identity, I lost some of my dearest friends (I didn’t lose them but I don’t get to see/talk to them as much as I want), I lost affirmations that I was good at my job, and I lost the ability to talk to tons of people on a weekly basis. I LOVE people. Seriously. I miss having adult connection and it’s up to me to get out there, make friends, and connect with people.

  5. Say “yes” more – I’m pretty good about saying no if I feel like I can’t take something on. What I haven’t been good at is saying “yes” to different opportunities and sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. I use the kids as an excuse because if you’ve had twins you know it’s really not an excuse! haha but I don’t want to have regrets and I want to show my children it’s OK to be adventurous, try different things, be involved, say yes (all relatively safe and within the will of God…amIright!?). More to come on this one…I may have a surprise for you all! 🙂
  6. Cook different foods – I tend to cook “safe” foods for me and my family. Familiar, trusted, quick, easy recipes. Well…when I made the Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing a while back I was blown away at the flavor and that I COULD cook with an Asian flair and it WAS delicious! I’m going to make a list of recipes or ideas that look delicious and try them. I just may surprise myself…and my family.
  7. Date my husband – this is as much for me as it is for him, and as much for
    My buddy and me!

    us as it is for our children. We are best friends. When I say that I mean it. He’s my buddy, my pal. A happy marriage takes work and isn’t easy but it’s so worth it. My parents are fantastic and have given us so many more opportunities to have date nights since we moved closer to them. We aren’t super intentional about date nights and we need to be. I need us to be.

  8. Enjoy each day – Listen, being a stay at home mom is no walk in the park (neither is being a working mom but that’s a blog for another time). I’m at 3 kids beacon calls all day every day. I don’t get a vacation. But let me tell you something. I’ve gained what most working moms dream – I get the priceless opportunity to watch these babies grow up, meet milestones, take their first steps, say their first words, do all of the funny and wonderful things that kids do. I missed a lot of that when I worked while my daughter was little. I have a blessed life with a beautiful home, a loving husband, 3 amazing and healthy kids, wonderful parents, an amazing family, some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for, 2 encouraging church families, and little to no stress. So I need to enjoy/count my blessings.

This is going to be raw sometimes I’m sure. I’m going to feel uncomfortable writing some things because if you’re a mom, you know that it’s taboo to be “selfish”. It’s hard to be vulnerable but that’s all part of this journey for me…to say yes, to put myself out there, to connect, to be healthier, to be a better wife/mom/me.

Stay tuned as I walk this journey. I may have more things I want to do…or want to start to do! I sincerely hope you gain something from this and you take your own self-care journey. For you.

Mom Diet

I got a rare opportunity to share lunch out with my mom last weekend. She’s my hero and honestly couldn’t do life without her. It’s funny that the mom-daughter relationship morphs into a friendship the more past 20 you get…I think that’s when our’s started because I became less immature and more appreciative of her and her awesomeness.

We were talking about some of the “side effects” of being a mom that you don’t really think of. Nope, not the physical, although my body still hasn’t snapped back into the 25 year old body it once was…who knew!? ANYWAY we were talking about how mom’s rarely eat hot meals. How it’s normal to eat lukewarm or cold meals and how we long for a hot, uninterrupted meal. After thinking about this I realized, a lot of my diet has changed since having children and especially having twins.

I have 14 month old twin boys and a sweet (sometimes sassy) 4 year old. My oldest never climbed on furniture, needed baby gates, and truth be told we never even baby-proofed. She wasn’t that kind of baby/toddler who got into things. I now have the opposite. These boys are…boys. Baby gates are jokes and there are not enough barriers in my living room to keep these boys contained and safe. Baby-proofing is an art in our house because what one twin doesn’t think of the other one does. Singleton parents, you have no idea…I certainly didn’t before these two came along. Twins are a different beast. Put these two in one of those escape rooms everyone raves about and they’ll find their way out in a matter of minutes.

My mom diet goes like this: cold (not iced…cold) coffee, a Lara bar for breakfast because it’s fast, lunch at 2pm so I can eat in peace while they nap, cold dinner at 6 because I’m feeding them. My husband is awesome and he takes care of our daughter during dinner (she sometimes “needs” encouragement). If I do get bites of food, usually I hardly taste it because I’m shoveling it in quickly so that I can feed Boy 1 and Boy 2 before they go ballistic.

This is temporary, I know it. I also know how blessed I am for these kiddos and most of the time I’m overwhelmed with the realization of how amazing it is to be their mom. You see, these twins are rainbow babies after losing our second early on in the pregnancy. They are also preemies and NICU babies. I’m very aware of how blessed I am by all of my children but especially these 2 rough and tumble boys. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Look moms (and dads), I get it. I get it when you’re too tired to make dinner or when breakfast is a rare occurrence because you’re running out of the house or when you eat so fast that you don’t even know what it tastes like. I know that it’s hard to eat, let alone to eat well sometimes. I feel you when you only made mac and cheese for your kids lunch and should have also made a vegetable with it but you just survived lunch and that’ll have to do…and then you eat the leftovers (don’t eat off of them, they are germ cesspools). I’m there, in the trenches with you. You are doing a good job if you’ve kept your kids alive, showed them a lot of love and discipline. You are doing a great job if you took a shower. You are doing an excellent job if you kept them alive, showed love/discipline, AND took a shower…shoot, if that happens you’re a freakin rock star!

Yep that’s one towering on the chair while the other one just fell off of it…without his sock. No he did not cry.

Let me give you some tips that I use (and some that I’m going to use) to make my diet better while doing life in the mom-trenches:

  1. Get up before the kids so you can eat breakfast (and drink at least 1 cup of hot coffee) and get yourself together before everyone else. This is my Bible and hot coffee time. It’s my favorite time of day. Just me, Jesus, and a cup o’ Joe. I’m working on getting a more balanced breakfast.
  2. Keep steamer bags of veggies on hand so that you can just pop them in the microwave for those mac and cheese lunches or dinner. These are a staple in our house. Broccoli, snap peas, and cauliflower. Quick, easy, and delicious.
  3. Slow cooker (crock pot) meals are where it’s at. Just this week we did pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s and doctor it up). Served that on a whole wheat roll and some vinaigrette based coleslaw and boom, delish (picture below)
  4. Snack. This came from one of my dear friends who I talked to this week. She said “Amanda, you’re not eating snacks! You need to get them in so you can keep up with those boys!” She’s right. She also had a great suggestion that these snacks be portioned out, bagged, and ready to go in a pinch. Thank you Hilary!
  5. Keep fruits and veggies on hand and prepared in the house. We always have grapes on the counter and cut up broccoli and carrots in the fridge. This limits the temptation to reach for something else. We also keep yogurt, Lara bars, fiber bars, dried fruit, and popcorn on hand.
  6. Focus on one improvement at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to make your diet perfect (hah) all at once. Work on one thing at a time and work your way down the list of improvements. For me, this week was focusing on eating breakfast every day. Sure I had to pick a Lara bar once but I also made myself eggs, had cereal, and guac-toast.

Mom’s, working or stay-at-home, we have the hardest yet most important job on the planet. I’ve been both working and stay-at-home and neither one is harder than another. Mom’s are mom’s and we have to support each other and stick together. Help each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, and be there to help your fellow mamma eat a hot meal!

Lactation Energy Bites

For all the breastfeeding mamma’s out there who need some energy and more milk, there are some foods that can help increase your milk production. They are called galactogogue(s) (ga-lacto-gog). I was successful breastfeeding my daughter for about 9 months and my twins for about 5 (I was a pumper with them). I dreamed of going longer with both but I have no guilt because I tried and they got some important breast milk early on in their lives. I’m also not a pusher of breastfeeding, although I think it’s important, I totally understand why people choose not to (or in some cases can’t for various reasons). Heck, our ancestors used wet nurses when a woman couldn’t nurse…no the baby didn’t starve, they just used a woman who was a breastfeeding machine and that was awesome!

In any rate I super support the breastfeeding mamma and I wanted to share the lactation energy bites that I made while trying to nurse my twins.

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1 cup quick oats (can use old fashioned too)
1/2 cup toasted coconut
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (can grind them up too)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey

Mix, refrigerate, ball them up, and enjoy!

NOTES: many recipes call for brewers yeast. At the time I didn’t have any on hand but would have sprinkled some in as well. Also if you or your baby has a nut allergy you can opt for sunflower or soy butter. If you or your baby have issues with dairy check the chocolate chips (you can find dairy free chocolate chips that taste amazing!). Gluten intolerance? Check your oats and opt for ones that specifically say they are gluten free!

Galactogogues include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Flax seed
  • Brewers yeast
  • Garlic
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Water (not technically a galactagogue but you need it!)
  • Mother’s Milk tea (a combination of some of the above herbs)

Another way to keep your milk supply up is to keep your stress low! I know it is a hectic time with a new baby (or 2) and trying to feed them well but step back and enjoy the beauty of life! Don’t forget to eat either. Dad’s or other support system providers, FEED THESE WOMEN! They are doing enough work by producing milk, give them calories through healthy meals. Remember, they need 500 extra calories to breastfeed adequately (more for twins and multiples). Three meals a day plus snacks are needed to get in these extra calories.

Final Thoughts: I’m nowhere near an expert on breastfeeding and I love to give credit where credit is due! If you need help with breast feeding, contact a Lactation Consultant. They are educated and the experts on breastfeeding. Find one here: International Lactation Consultant Association. A huge shout out to Shannon, my IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who was there for me and my daughter with her tongue tie and my twins! Thank you!

Body Image

I swore that I would be as open and honest with you as possible. Here it comes. Any dietitian will tell you they either struggle with body image issues or are currently struggling with their body image. Unfortunately we are the experts in food and nutrition and that means we should know exactly what to put in our bodies to make us look like we know what we are doing. Well guess what? We are human and we are living life just like everyone else. We have body image issues just like the rest of the millions of women and men out there…the struggle is real.

Here’s the deal. I had twins 7 months ago. What a truly significant blessing it was/is to have these little guys in my life! I also have a 4 year old who is just as spunky as she is cute. I will never blame my body image issues on my children. It’s not their fault. [Side note if you are blaming your children for the way you look, stop right there and re-evaluate those thoughts and what you are saying to your kids about that.] Throughout both pregnancies I gained an appropriate amount of weight for each a singleton and a twin pregnancy. Not surprisingly I don’t look like I did when I was 25 and this week, for some reason, I’m really bothered by that.

I was heavily convicted today about my self talk. As a Christian I want to ensure that how I’m portraying myself would be the same way Jesus would portray me. At one point this week I referred to the size of my clothing as “fatty”. I’m ashamed! That is the same exact thing I counsel my patients not to do and here I am being super negative towards my body. Here’s what I was convicted of: God loves my body so much and I felt Him wondering why I didn’t love it the same. I’m pretty sure if God could be offended, He was at that point. HE MADE ME!!!!! I was basically bullying my body, the body that God has created specially for me, in this time, at this moment. She ran circles around the boys in the neighborhood as a little kid. This body has hiked mountains and walked down the aisle to her best friend at their wedding. She carried 3 healthy babies and mourned for another. This body has taken me through 33 years of life and has yet to let me down. Why would I treat it with such disrespect? This body is a temple and I have been verbally vandalizing it.

Rant time (I promise it’ll circle back to the main point): I am sick and tired of pyramid diet and exercise schemes. I’m sick and tired of people talking about getting skinny. I’m exhausted just hearing what the next great eating plan, fad diet, shakeologizing, orthorexic (look it up), body image crushing, social media promoting, “health expert” has to say about how you should eat, what you should look like, or how amazing life is because you’re drinking an unknown substance before a workout. Listen, I know I’m offending a lot of people here and if the above is your thing and you stop reading at this point that’s fine but I encourage you to hear me out.

YOU DON’T NEED ANY OF THAT STUFF TO BE EXACTLY WHAT GOD MADE YOU TO BE

My body image issues are just like yours. Secrets out, I don’t need a magic shake, an expensive workout video, a wonder-pill, a diet of starvation and exclusion. I need to be filled with joy that God made me. I need to be healthy NOT because society says so but because God wants me to honor His temple by how I treat it. God led me to become a dietitian and I’m so grateful. I love my profession and everything we stand for. A diet that promotes overall wellness was never intended to make people skinny. A way of eating healthfully is intended to prevent disease and promote well-being. Sure, weight management is recommended to prevent many diseases and promote holistic wellness but it’s not the end-all-be-all. I’d much rather have an individual who is “overweight” that eats well, exercises regularly, manages stress appropriately, and loves their body as opposed to a person who is “skinny” starves themselves, exercises only because they ate something that had too many calories, is stressed out because they are worried about how they look, and hates their body. Don’t let the devil lie to you and say that the only thing that matters is how you look. It was a rough week and I don’t wish that on anyone.

Final thoughts: This isn’t a typical post for me. I just want to make sure we stop beating ourselves up over our body. These things are pretty amazing. Feed it well, not because you’ll look better but because you’ll feel better. Move your body more, not because your belly won’t hang over your pants but because it will ache less. Manage your stress, not because it’s cool to “have it all together” but because worrying less about the small stuff allows us to fill up on the little joys that make life so amazing.

Challenge: be good to yourself and others, be positive to yourself and others. Kindness matters. Be kind, be gentle, be brave, and do something great because in the end of life it is not going to matter how much you weigh, what size of clothes you wore, if you ate 100% organic or “clean” or how many burpees you could do…it’ll matter how you treated yourself and others. Jesus loves you just the way you are…He’ll meet you in whatever capacity you find yourself. Allow Him to fulfill your life, not food/exercise/materialistic stuff.

Healthy Kitchen Shortcuts

I have 3 kids, 4 and under. Don’t be alarmed, two of those are twins. My goal as a wife-mom-dietitian is to provide the best food I can for my family. That means making healthy, homemade meals in between diapers, spit up, and toddler problems.

Cooking dinner tonight I came up with this blog post. You can read about me in my bio section but I like to get as fresh and as local as possible. But let’s get real, sometimes we are looking for healthy AND quick. Taking shortcuts has been my go-to since having children.

Here are the 5 quick and healthy items I keep in my kitchen always:

  1. Minced garlic. Yep, I buy the garlic in the glass container and I LOVE IT! Almost everything I cook has garlic in it. Any time I need a clover or two I get in my refrigerator, grab a spoon and boom, it’s done! Fresh garlic is delicious but when I need a time saver (which is daily at this point) I go with it!
  2. Diced frozen onions. Similar to the garlic, I could grow my own onions, dice, and freeze them and someday I will. But right now I need diced onions without having onion juice all over my hands when the babies are screaming. Frozen diced onions it is! This only works if you’re cooking, if you are making a dish that isn’t cooked (summer salsa, salads, etc) then use fresh onions.
  3. Frozen veggies of all types. When I’m making vegetable soup in the winter I buy frozen. If I have any fresh then of course they go in the pot but frozen is so much better than fresh in the winter. All year long I keep frozen broccoli and cauliflower bulk bags in my freezer. Corn isn’t a veggie but that’s also a staple frozen food that we keep on hand.
  4. Lemon and lime juice concentrate. There’s nothing better than fresh lemons or limes but in a pinch, concentrate can be a recipe saver. You can use the concentrate in any recipe that calls for lemon or lime juice so it works well in fish and chicken dishes, salsa, sauces, and tea.
  5. Quick grains like quinoa, farro, and brown minute rice. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and farro (pronounced fare-oh) are whole grains packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients. All three of these power packed grains cook completely in about 15 minutes unlike regular brown rice or other grains that may take about an hour to cook. To flavor these up toast them in a dry pan first and then cook with vegetable or chicken broth or stock.

I’ve learned, after having twins, that sometimes shortcuts are A-OK and you have to be A-OK with the shortcuts. Cooking healthy doesn’t have to mean preparing a gourmet meal, using tons of ingredients or ingredients that you have to find at a specialty food store, or spending hours in the kitchen.

Final thoughts: We unfortunately do not live on a cooking show set where there are tons of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs/spices, and any ingredient we so desire. Sometimes we need shortcuts to make our lives easier especially when cooking for our family day in and day out. Use some shortcuts to make your life simpler!

Challenge – if you are overwhelmed with cooking and menu planning for your family, figure out which shortcuts would work best for you and run with it! Share your shortcuts with us!