My Favorite Pregnancy Snacks

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My Favorite Pregnancy Snacks!

It's hard to know what to snack on when you're pregnant. Diet and exercise are SO IMPORTANT during this time when your body is forming a baby, so there seems to be a lot of pressure to eat healthy... while trying to balance some pretty wild cravings. I don't like using the fact that I'm pregnant as an excuse for things, but I will admit that there have been some moments when I was craving something and I just HAD TO HAVE IT. Like a really good deli sandwich. Don't judge me. Here are a few snacks/light meals that I have found to be incredibly satisfying without being all that "bad" for you. Snack away, ladies!

1. Grapefruit

- Since the first week I found out I was pregnant, I have wanted citrus. Lemons, limes and especially grapefruit have been a huge staple of my pregnancy diet. Just slice it in half, and eat it ice-cold - mmm SO YUMMY.

2. Green Juice

- I've share my green juice recipe with you before, but I have to tout its benefits again. It is so energizing! Just a wonderful mix of spinach, kale, carrots, an apple, lemon, ginger & mint. Voila! Stevie keeps trying to make me drink this instead of coffee in the morning... good luck with that, bud.

3. Popcorn

- I only make my popcorn on the stove, in a bit of oil, with a pinch of sea salt. Just like my mom makes it. Of course, it's really fun to add sugar to make kettle corn or to add butter and pretend like you're at the movies. But mostly I've just snacked on it simply, with sea salt and a side of La Croix :)

4. Yogurt, Granola & Berries

- Yum, this is a fun one. It can be eaten as a hearty dessert, too! Just top some low-fat plain yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and granola (I also add a bit of honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon) and you have yourself a sweet, satisfying treat! For some strange reason, Greek yogurt has really bothered my stomach during this pregnancy, so I've taken some time off from it. But if you like Greek yogurt, there are even more benefits

5. Peanut Butter & Banana on Ezekiel Toast

- I switched from whole-grain wheat bread to Ezekiel Bread when I really started gaining weight during this pregnancy - the numbers on the scale started to freak me out! Ezekiel bread is an excellent bread substitute because its made from a sprouted grain instead of flour and refined sugars. It is a complete source of protein, and is packed with fiber, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Talk about a super food. Lately, I've been toasting it, then topping with crunchy organic peanut butter and a half (or whole!) banana. It's super filling and energizing.

6. Vita Coconut Water with Lemon slices

- While I would prefer a poolside cocktail, this has been what I've been guzzling since summer has hit its heat peak. I prefer the plain flavor of Vita Coco and then squeeze about a half a lemon into a tall glass of ice. It's tart, sweet (but not too sweet) and super refreshing. It's also really helpful with all the muscle cramps (especially the crazy calf spasms!) because this beverage is loaded with potassium. Yes please.

7. Avocado Ezekiel Toast

- Avocado toast is so trendy these days. Just type it in on Pinterest and you'll see. As much as I hate following trends, this is a pretty delicious one. I like to use toasted Ezekiel bread, smear it with a bit of Veganaise, sprinkle some paprika and load up 1/2 a sliced avocado on top. It's really good because it's savory and filling, the perfect 3pm snack :)

8. Wholly Guacamole

- I actually make a really mean homemade guacamole... but you wouldn't know it since I got preggo! I'm a lazy cook these days. Wholly Guacamole is SO delicious, and just the easiest thing to spread on pretty much everything. Blue corn chips, whole wheat tortillas, burgers, my morning eggs... the list just goes on and on. It's worth the purchase price.

9. Strawberry-Nutella Crepes

- OMG Nutella. I could cry just thinking about it. Why is it tasting so good lately?! Yes, it's wondrous on crepes (or a heated whole-wheat tortilla!), but don't let me fool you. There have been many an evening when I have found myself sauntering into the kitchen at midnight and scooped out spoonfuls of Nutella, along with some strawberries and blueberries. I didn't say everything on this list was healthy. I just said they were my favorites. 

10. Chicken & Whole Grain Mustard Pinwheels

- This is a brilliant Giada concoction. Also an excellent, quirky lunch option. I swapped out honey mustard for whole-grain. You can make the chicken salad ahead of time, refrigerate and then eat it for lunch for a few days in a row!

11. Terra Chips

- Hahhhaaha what can I say. Yeah, they're pretty much potato chips. Freakin' awesome ones.

12. Mini Eggplant Pizza

- I really love these, but my husband does not. However, I still stand by the fact that this is a healthier way to get that pizza craving satisfied. I personally like this recipe.

Things I've been snacking on that aren't pictured? Kind Bars, eggs (scrambled with cheese or over easy), peaches & nectarines, oatmeal, black beans, orange juice & mozzarella cheese slices. Any suggestions on other healthy snack choices? For all you pregnant ladies out there, what has been your favorite pregnancy snack so far?

January Delights

January List...

January List... by oykristen // 1. Champion Women's Fit and Flare Tank // 2. Lacroix Pamplemousse Water // 3. Hale Groves Red Grapefruit // 4. Giada's Feel Good Food Cookbook  // 5. Neoprene Flashbulb Handweights  // 6. Vitamix Series 3 Professional Blender // 7. 2014 Paper Source Watercolor Art Calendar // 8. Korres Lip Butter in Quince // 9. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Night Cream // 10. Paper Source Gratitude Journal //

A Jolly January.

It's a new year. Obviously, you know this. I have taken a little bit of time to reflect and think about what I want this year to be about. My bff Trish made a really point about resolutions. She said, "Year resolutions are too much pressure. I like to think about one goal for each quarter." So she makes mini goals for the Spring, Summer, Fall, etc. So smart! And certainly more manageable. That girl... she's a gem. 

So I've been focusing on wellness goals for the Spring (I know it's not quite spring yet, but humor me... I've gotta have some motivation to get through the winter up here!) When I say wellness, I do NOT mean just eating right, dieting or workout goals. I mean overall wellness; spirit AND body. What does that mean?

Spirit.

Making sure I take a few minutes every morning to pray, be thankful for another day of life and health, to read some scriptures or journal a little bit. It's annoying to wake up 15 minutes earlier than my eyes want to open, but I've found that it centers me for the entire day. And sometimes that 15 minutes turns into 45. It's rather peaceful. And it makes me more aware of others and their needs (hello, I write a BLOG, I don't need any extra incentive to be introspective. But I could certainly be less selfish.) This little journal (10. Paper Source Gratitude Journal) and calendar (7. 2014 Paper Source Watercolor Art Calendar) are a few great tools to get that reflective ball rolling!

Body.

Lets get real. My holiday was all-consuming. Literally. I vegged my heart out and worked out, um... very little. So I'd like to get back into the swing of balancing cardio and weights, along with some extra stretching. I never stretch anymore! Its ridiculous, because I know how good stretching is for the bod. When I watch TV, I'm taking half an episode to sprawl out on the floor and just stretch. There is just really no excuse. (Especially since I've been glued to House Hunters International and Property Brothers lately.) Oh HGTV. You slay me. I bought this fun workout top (1. Champion Women's Fit and Flare Tank) and have been using these nifty little weights (5. Neoprene Flashbulb Handweights) to slowly regain my strength and stamina. In an effort to imagine that I'm living in the tropics, I've been snacking on grapefruit everything lately, and treating myself to this sparkling water (2. Lacroix Pamplemousse Water) like it's going out of style. Yum. My dear friend and health guru got me this fabulous book (4. Giada's Feel Good Food Cookbook) for Christmas, and I've been trying out a few of the recipes. Who doesn't love Giada? She's such a babe. And a wonder in the kitchen. ANNND (drumroll please) I got this dreamy blender (6. Vitamix Series 3 Professional Blender) for Christmas and I am FREAKING OUT about all the wonderful eats that will come from such a powerful machine. Stay tuned for lots of yummy recipes to come.

Side note: It's winter. It's a real bear on the skin. I'm currently involved in a dysfunctional love/hate relationship with Origins (love the products, hate the prices), and since I am the whipped party, I shell out the cash for the promise of a brighter tomorrow (in this case, 9. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Night Cream.) And to be honest, these products make my skin so soft and less, um caveman-like? I tend to turn sallow-yellow in the winter (thanks, Dad, for that Italian heritage. And thanks, Mom, for throwing in that Native American heritage, too.), so while my lovely sisters got the rosy-pink undertones in their skin, I unfortunately inherited the olive face which means than sans-tan, I am sporting a tricked-out yellow-fever kind of palette. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Thankfully, a pretty pink-ish lip gloss (8. Korres Lip Butter in Quince) certainly helps the dismal situation. Am I being too chatty? I'm feeling deliciously girly today.

I hope your January continues in a jolly fashion. Don't let the cold get you down! Blast your heat and wear bright colors - the sunshine is in your future!

TASTE: Lavender-Agave Limoncello

Inspiration for Lemons.

I'm already longing for my time in Italy. This past summer I took the most epic of all trips and backpacked through Europe with the love of my life. This is a trip we had been dreaming about for 6 years, and it came to a beautiful and adventurous culmination during the month of June. We ate SO well, and I've been mulling over a couple of exotic recipes that I want to attempt to make stateside. So maybe I can't exactly replicate this astounding margherita pizza from Naples (apparently the flavor is in the water), but I can try my hand at a few other tasty treats. The first of my European-inspired attempts is limoncello. FYI it takes a bit of patience to make this (so add PATIENCE to your ingredient list. Seriously.)

Limoncello is served in Italy at the very end of a meal, when your belly is gleefully protruding over your pants and your mouth is dumbly drunk from the pleasing combination of bufala mozzarella, hot doughy bread, fresh spiced basil-tomatoes, savory white fish, home made pasta and of course, wine. And dessert. And then more wine. Need I say more? Then, at the very end of the meal, limoncello seals the deal. It's the last kiss of the night before you roll yourself into bed. And it's glorious, to say the least.

I got this recipe from a dear old Italian woman who ran a restaurant up in the foothills of the Amalfi Coast. She laughed at me while she wrote the recipe down, saying, "You can try, but you won't be able to make this back at home." Apparently that is because the Italians use 100-proof alcohol in their recipe, which is, well, not exactly sold in the U.S. We basically have to make do with a lot of vodka. So I fashioned my own concoction based on her recipe, along with Giada's (obviously), this recipe from Linden Hills Co-op and this recipe from Imbibe. And I decided to make two batches, one regular and one using infused lavender and agave. Time to get crazy!

Lavender Agave Limoncello

Ingredients:

- 2 cups vodka

- 5 lemons, peeled

- 2 limes, peeled

- 1/2 tsp. lavender

- 2/3 cup agave

- 1 cup water

- Juice from 2 lemons

Method:

1. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, peel the lemons and limes carefully. Trim away any white pith from the peels, as the pith can make the limoncello taste bitter.

2. Place the peels in a large pitcher and pour 2 cups of vodka over the peels. Add in the lavender. Cover the mouth of the pitcher with plastic wrap and set the pitcher in a cool, dark place. Allow the peels to steep for at least a week. (This is the part where your patience needs to kick in.)

3. After a week has passed, combine the agave+water+juice from two lemons in a saucepan and bring to a boil. I like to boil the sliced lemons in with the sweetened mixture (it gives it a yummy sweet-and-sour flavor!) After the mixture has boiled for a good 5 minutes, remove from heat. Let the mixture cool completely. (Again, utilize your patience and just walk away. You can do it.)

4. Once it's completely cooled, the agave+water+lemon mixture should be the consistency of syrup. Strain the syrupy through a fine mesh strainer. This should weed out all the lemons and seeds. Double strain if necessary. Set the syrup aside.

5. Next, strain the lemon peel-vodka mixture.

6. Combine both mixtures and seal in a glass jar. I got mine at Crate & Barrel, but I also used a mason jar as a second container. Store in the freezer for up to a month.

Now Enjoy! You can serve the limoncello in shot glasses at the end of the meal, or you can use it as a cocktail mixer. It's a snazzy beverage, perfect for the coming months' holiday celebrations.

To Make Regular Limoncello

Follow the above method with these ingredients: 

- 2 cups vodka

- 5 lemons, peeled

- 2 limes, peeled

- 1 cup sugar (I used raw)

- 1 cup water

- Juice from 2 lemons

Drink and Be Merry.

I hope you love this as much as I do. Soak up your inner-Italian and enjoy. It's a real treat.

Bon Appetit!

The Haymarket Hustle

Oh, how fond I am about fruits and vegetables. I could write a sonnet about the sweet scent of springtime strawberries. I could sing a lullaby about the earthy crunch of celery. I love to cook, bake and most importantly, EAT, and fresh ingredients are key to the way I create in the kitchen. I like to think I am Giada, though I can't rock the low-cut blouse the way she can. How does she stay so powder fresh in the kitchen? She's really something.

Boston's Best-Kept Secret.

It's not a new discovery, but I've just never taken part in Boston's own fresh farmers' market. Partly because I never venture out of Cambridge (which is ridiculous, since downtown Boston is approximately a 6-minute ride on the train), and partly because I rarely venture out of my apartment (only in the Winter, but yeah, I'm a hermit), I just haven't made the move to get out on Saturday and take advantage of this amazing experience.

The Haymarket is an open-air farmer's market that has been in existence since 1830. It's another one of those historical wonders that you can just stumble upon up here. The market is jam-packed with frantic people bustling, shouting and negotiating deals. It's like an auction. "I want 6 grapefruit! Give me the pink grapefruit! No, not that one, the other one!!" "Over here, a bag of onions and avocados! OVER HERE!" It's a rush of energy and attitude. I just love it. Old Italian broads shouting at the children to stop eating the fruit. Sweet Indian gentlemen clutching their wives' purses and patiently waiting while she feels each papaya for its stage in the ripe cycle. Every tribe and tongue is represented in the market and I just love feeling a part of this vibrant community. I am not very vibrant or cultured, but I can really appreciate this special intersection of all people, where we come together with one purpose: we want fruits and vegetables. Give us the fruits and vegetables.

Ladies Who Lunch.

I hit the market with my girlfriends, and oh wow, I can't believe I haven't been doing this all along! Not only did we have a blast (despite the a fore-mentioned bitter cold) but we made a remarkable discovery. At the market, EVERYTHING IS SO CHEAP. For example, Strawberries: 2 packs for $1.50. Blueberries: $1 each pack. Lemons: 6 for $1. I'm not making this up. Don't cry when you see the following, but... I got everything you see below for a grand total of TWELVE DOLLARS.

That's right. This probably would have cost $50 at Whole Foods. I got:

- 1 package carrots

- 1 package celery

- 1 large bunch spinach

- 1 bunch fresh rosemary

- 3 Roma tomatoes

- 2 packages strawberries

- 2 packages blueberries

- 1 package blackberries

- 5 plums

- 4 apples

- 3 oranges

- 3 kiwis

- 3 lemons

- 1 grapefruit

All for a grand total of $12.

I think I can actually hear Miss Fresh Life weeping all the way from Florida. Just come visit me and I will shower you with abundant and exotic fruits!

Score.

We had an absolute blast and scored mad deal. Stevie and I decided this is what we are doing for the rest of the weekends that we are here in Cambridge. Anyone up for deliciously cheap finds, outdoor fun, a historic treat and a lesson in cultures? Join me. Though I can't promise that I won't turn into a shouting Italian when I get there. I am easily influenced by passionate people.

Eat. Drink. Thank.

Thanksgiving came in extraordinary fashion this year. This was a year of many firsts: NOT being in Atlanta, not being with family, and not sitting back and chit chatting while someone else does all the cooking. Instead, my husband and I stayed in Cambridge, celebrated this holiday with dear friends and I cooked my tail off. And you know what? We kind of loved it.

Tangent: My husband’s name is Steven – he wanted me to mention him by name… I think he was getting paranoid that I kept referring to him as “my husband” as if I were trying to protect his anonymity on purpose. We are in the age of Facebook and drones; none of us are anonymous anymore. Anywho, he answers to Steven. Or Stevie. Or Shmoopsy-poo. Just kidding. He won’t let me call him weird names. It’s a real bummer.

Well I digress. I started Thanksgiving Day off right, with a cup of Starbuck’s Christmas Blend while watching the Macy’s Day Parade. That part of the morning did not last long. Once Stevie turned on football there was little else in the world that mattered to him. The crazy part is that I loved the cooking storm I created, mostly because it was storm-free! It was such a peaceful, fun and creative process for me. I (proudly) cooked the following:

Stuffing

Sweet Potato Soufflé (the first batch was chronicled here)

Roasted Vegetables

Cranberry Sauce

Pretzel Jell-O Salad

Pumpkin Pie

I was a regular Betty Crocker (I would like to think of myself as Giada, but I don’t look that hot while I cook.) We packed up the food and drove 3 minutes down the road to dear Troy and Carrie’s place (they are officially our Cambridge family.) They hosted a crowd of 10, and the 4 of us were the only Americans. AND we were the only ones who have ever celebrated Thanksgiving. The rest of the crowd was from Malaysia, Germany and Brazil. It was so interesting being with amazing people from all over the world and coming together to celebrate this holiday of gratitude. Troy and Carrie set a gorgeous table of fanciness AND they cooked the turkey (it was ridiculously impressive.) The four of us ended the night curling up on our couch enjoying mugs of rum apple cider (my own little concoction!)

Photo Credit: The Gorgeous Stevie Hale

Weekend Takeaway

Though it was truly bittersweet missing out on family traditions, it was a merry time indeed. As I think forward to next year, I know that we will be living in a different state (location unknown), potentially celebrating with different people in a new way, so this was a nice way to commemorate our time here in Cambridge. This Thanksgiving was cozy, warm and marked by lots of sleep. Much to be thankful for.