20 Baby Registry Must Have Items

Mommin', Pregnancy

When I was pregnant I remember spending HOURS researching the best items. I looked at reviews online, asked friends, browsed Pinterest and Baby’s List and Amazon. I wanted the best possible products for my sweet baby, but like many people, I also had a budget! My quest was to choose the best baby gear in a sort of “middle of the road.” If you’re looking for luxury baby items, this is not the post for you!

Overall, I was pretty happy with the majority of my choices for baby gear. John and I reviewed our gear and narrowed it to 20 items that we deem our “must haves” for new parents. If you have questions about something NOT in this post, feel free to send me a message and I’ll do my best to help you. (There’s a lot of baby gear NOT on here because I didn’t want it to become too overwhelming.)

Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Affiliate Program and I may earn a small commission from purchases you make using the links to products in this post. You will not pay more for your purchase by using this link. Your purchase helps me continue to create recipes and health and wellness content for you.

  1. We loved this car seat by Graco for the newborn stage and even past a year old. It has great safety reviews, is extremely functional, and easy to clean and maneuver.

I’d highly recommend getting a second base if more than one person will be picking the baby up or dropping the baby off from daycare/grandma’s/etc. This was great because I could leave the seat at daycare when I dropped off in the morning and John could grab it when he picked up in the afternoon. It made our routine seamless and was much cheaper than purchasing a second seat. Just be sure to double check that your base fits your seat!

2. The <a href=”http://<iframe style=”width:120px;height:240px;” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=biteswithbeth-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B07XLNFBZX&asins=B07XLNFBZX&linkId=1909a1ac46eb954636674531964eaae8&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff”> Boppy nursing pillow was an absolute godsend. I promise that the day will come you’ll be able to breastfeed and walk or multitask in various other ways, but in the newborn days babies are tiny and almost slippery!! You want a boppy – even if its just to make it easier to hold your teeny tiny babe! We had a camping themed cover and there are TONS of adorable cover options. I love this neutral grey color available on Amazon!

3. The Boppy Lounger is amazing for the newborn stage and up until baby can roll. It’s so great to keep baby comfy cozy and elevate them just a little so you can keep an eye on them. Harry used to lay in this and watch mama get ready when he was itty bitty and it was just the two of us!

It’s also great for those adorable monthly photos before baby can sit up. Get another cover or drop your favorite cozy blanket over the lounger and you’ve got your DIY baby prop!

4. I adored my Milk Snob because it was just so versatile. The Milk Snob functions as a car seat cover, nursing cover, barrier between baby and grocery cart germs, etc. There are so many uses for the Milk Snob and they’re so soft and adorable. I love that it functions as a breathable car seat cover as well as a nursing cover so it’s one less thing to tote along when you leave the house. Did I mention they drop adorable new patterns every season?? Buy one. You won’t regret it.

5. This Sealy baby mattress has been fantastic (I’ll be honest, our little one occasionally jumps on his when he wake up from naptime). It’s affordable, durable, and has a waterproof coating to protect it from overnight diaper leakage.

6. These burp cloths were the absolute best! When I was pregnant with our first, I didn’t realize that burp cloth quality was a big variant, but it totally is. These were our favorites because they’re so soft and absorbent plus they don’t stain easily.

7. The baby monitor was something I researched extensively. I weighed pros and cons and spent hours mulling over the right baby monitor for us. A little back story: the news story about baby monitors and home cameras being hacked and then used to exploit families was a big deal when I was pregnant and building my registry. I decided to go with a monitor that does not connect to Wifi for this reason. Infant optics video monitor has great range, an impressive camera with night vision and daytime that automatically adjusts. You can move the position of the camera, it has decent battery life. You can also add multiple cameras which is great for families with multiple small children or if you want to keep one in an area where the baby might play and also the nursery. We love ours.

8. We have two Regalo baby gates that we use. We love these because you can walk through the gate and don’t have to take the entire gate down or climb over it while holding a baby. They hold up well and are easily adjustable for the size of doorway or hallway you’re using it in.

9. This Pack ‘n’ play Snuggle Suite was completely worth the money. Our master bedroom was downstairs and the nursery upstairs so we used this as our crib for longer than I should admit. This pack comes with a bouncer that rests as a bassinet style seat next to a convenient changing table! The mesh storage baskets on the side are the perfect size to organize diapers and wipes. It was such a convenient setup to have downstairs. There’s a bassinet insert and when baby outgrows that, there’s a sturdy playard mattress. We more than got our money’s worth with this one! (The bouncer was a favorite and you can’t buy the same style separately!)

10. These Mam Pacifiers were the only ones that our little one liked. They come with these awesome little pacifier holders that are great for keeping pacis sterile in the diaper bag..and keeping them from being misplaced in the cabinet! (You can also use the holders to sterilize the pacifiers in the microwave, but I personally, have never tried that.)

11. Although solid foods are a little far off, it’s not a bad idea to register for some feeding basics! We loved our ezpz Mini Mat. It’s great for when baby is just learning to eat and hasn’t quite grasped the “not throwing your plate” concept.

Grab these pre-spoons while you’re at it! It’s basically baby’s first step in learning to use utensils. It can double as a teether and is the perfect size for those adorable hands.

Save yourself some sanity and grab a Bapron while you’re at it. They’re available in tons of adorable patterns and colors and they’ll save all those adorable clothes you’ve been collecting. It makes dinner cleanup a snap.

12. This Munchkin dishwasher basket will save your sanity when you’re packing six bottles a day for your breastfed baby so you can go to work or spend a day out and you’ve washed about a million bottles that week.

13. To properly dry all of the aforementioned bottles preventing the risk of bacteria growing, you need a good drying rack. You definitely want the bigger one (unless you have more of a compact kitchen, then you may want the smaller version).

14. Something I didn’t register for, but wish I had, was a baby carrier….or five! When I was a new mom I was also home alone because my husband was halfway across the world. Baby carriers were my BFF and babies usually love them because their snuggled up to their favorite person and it feels almost like the womb. The Boppy carrier is a cross between a carrier and a wrap. Super great for when baby is small – some of the more structured carriers aren’t suitable for babies under eight pounds. We kept this one in the car for grocery trips and it was fantastic!

I was a little intimidated by the Moby wrap at first because you have to wrap it yourself, but we love love loved this one. It’s great because it’s so soft and snuggly and a bit more breathable than some others. Some mamas are even talented enough to breastfeed while baby wearing in the Moby! It’s super cozy and is extremely comfortable.

This Baby Bjorn carrier was so comfy and breathable while still a little more structured which is great for older babies. I used this one when I flew solo with the baby!

15. Frida Baby products are always incredible quality and this set was a lifesaver! It includes a fridet for mama – I personally didn’t use this but I’ve heard it’s superior to the ones they provide in the hospital. The Nail Frida and the file that come with it are awesome for cutting baby nails – there’s a little viewing window so you can make sure you’re trimming only nail. The Windi Baby and Nosefrida are great for those unfortunate truths of having a little little one. I promise with this set in the nursery, you’ll feel just a little more prepared.

16. I definitely recommend getting at least one extra bouncer. It’s great to have them in multiple rooms so you can seamlessly move from one room to the next – for example showering when you’re home alone! We loved this puppy bouncer from Fisher Price!

17. If you have hard floors, this playmat will bring you peace of mind. Our entire first floor is hardwood and it can be really nerve-wracking with a baby who’s just learning to roll, sit, and play. I love that this playmat is very neutral in color because it keeps the integrity of decorations of the room in tact. We’ve had ours for more than a year now and it has held up very well for us!

18. The Haaka is so great for building up a small “stash” of breastmilk for date night or in preparation for returning to work. It also helps you not lose any of those precious ounces. Be smarter than me and buy this one with the stopper! I went cheaper and didn’t get the one with a stopper when I purchased mine and I DID lose some of those precious ounces!

19. This Graco Stroller clicks right into the car seat I mentioned at the start of the post. It’s super great for a quick transition from car to indoors especially if it’s cold! We still use ours every day for walks and it seems to be very comfy.

20. This Skip Hop play center was the most convenient way for baby to play, mama to cook dinner, and dance and sing along the way! This activity center grows with baby and converts to a play table and eventually to a toddler table.

I’m pretty sure I could write about this for days but these are sort of our “Top Twenty!” that I’d recommend you consider purchasing for your babe! If you need more suggestions or opinions on products please send me a message! I’m happy to share my experience if I’ve used the product before!

Happy shopping!

Pantry Staple Pizza Sauce

Uncategorized
Pizza Sauce

I think we’ve all been there – you want to make something delicious and you have ALL the ingredients…except for one! Dropping this simple pizza sauce recipe in hopes it might help someone out of this spot and maybe save you a trip to the store.

Pizza sauce is super versatile. You can spread it on pretty much any carb, add pepperoni, cheese, etc. call it pizza, and your kids…or husband are totally IN. Score.

You’ve probably got all the ingredients for this pizza sauce in your kitchen right now. If you don’t, grab ’em next time at the store – they’ll help jazz up other recipes too!

Ingredients

  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon sage
    • Note: if you don’t have oregano, thyme, sage but you have italian seasoning, that’ll work too!

Procedure

  1. Measure all dry ingredients and stir until well combined in a small dish.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add tomato paste and tomato sauce.
  3. Gradually add seasoning mixture until the mixture is combined well.
  4. Add to your favorite carb, or in place of pizza sauce in any recipe!
  5. Store leftovers in a mason jar in the refrigerator for later use!

Let me know how you like this recipe by commenting below!

Buffalo Chicken Wrappers

Food, GF
Buffalo Chicken Wrappers

I’ve been teasing this recipe for a while. It’s GOOD good. My parents got a preview when they visited us in March and they were impressed. It’s a crowd pleaser and tastes like it is much less healthy than it is!! Note: I have substitute options for several ingredients in this recipe because although I’m gluten and dairy free, John isn’t, and these flavors POP with or without the gluten and dairy.

This recipe is multi-step. We love to have these on Friday nights or Saturday’s because they feel like a “Weekend Food!” If you love buffalo, ranch, and chicken – this recipe is for you. You’ve GOT to try it. Seriously.

It’s also great to have if you have leftover chicken tenders from this post — heat them in the oven or stovetop in a cast iron. This will cut down on prep time a little

Ingredients

  • A batch of chicken tenders
    • 1.5 lbs chicken breast tenders
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 box of Mary’s Gone Crackers
    • 1/2 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne
    • 1 tsp salt
    • sprinkle of pepper
    • Avocado oil spray
  • For Coleslaw
    • 3/4 cup avocado oil mayonnaise (I like Chosen Foods!)
    • 10 oz coleslaw mix
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 8 Siete Almond Flour Tortillas (or HEB Bakery Butter Tortillas)
  • 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded freshly (dairy free, shreds as necessary)
  • Pickle slices
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • Sir Kensington’s Ranch for topping

Procedure

  1. Prepare a batch of my gluten free chicken tenders as detailed in this post.
  2. While chicken is baking, whisk mayonnaise, honey, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl until a smooth dressing forms.
  3. Toss the coleslaw mix to coat. Allow the coleslaw to rest.
  4. When chicken temps up to 165 fahrenheit, add tenders and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently so to avoid pulling breading off of tenders.
  5. When tenders are coated, allow to rest in the remaining hot sauce.
  6. Assemble the chicken wraps as follows: top tortilla with one chicken tender, a tablespoon of coleslaw, 2 pickle slices, cheddar, and a drizzle of Sir Kensington’s ranch.

Recipe notes: If you’re in Texas, I HIGHLY recommend swinging by your local HEB store and grabbing the bakery made butter tortillas. They’re chock full of wheat and butter but they’re so good. Freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese is key here! It’s best if you let it set while you prepare the rest of the recipe so it isn’t quite as cold. It really makes the recipe next level!!

Serve these Buffalo Chicken Wrappers with carrots and baked fries for the gameday experience. Share them with friends, and you’ll be the talk of the party. Try these wraps ASAP. They’re bomb.

Be sure to snap a picture and share it with me on instagram using #biteswithbeth – there’s nothing I love more than seeing my recipes being used! Let me know how you like them!

Crispy Gluten Free Chicken Fingers

Food, GF
Gluten Free Chicken Fingers

If you’ve recently gone gluten free, you’ve likely traveled down the sad road of pre-packaged gluten free items because you just weren’t sure how to handle this new lifestyle. I get it. I’ve been there. What the in-store items lack in wheat, they make up for in excess salt and crumbly texture most of the time. Not a fan.

This goes for frozen items like gluten free chicken fingers too! I have not once been impressed by a pre-packaged gluten free chicken finger. So, I set out to create my own recipe…and it’s one of the first gluten free recipes that I made up and perfected on my own! I’m so excited to share this with you!

Whether you’re gluten free or not, give these little guys a shot! They crisp perfectly in the oven, have few ingredients, and come together quickly. I don’t have an airfryer but I bet they’d be DIVINE in an airfryer.

John and I have been loving this recipe for years but our littlest toddler taste tester approves too!!

GF Chicken tender coating with seasoning
Chicken Tenders coated before baking

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 pounds of chicken breast tenders
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 box of Mary’s Gone Crackers (6.5 ounce box)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Sprinkle of pepper
  • Avocado oil spray
GF Baked Chicken Tenders

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. In a blender or food processor, pulse Mary’s Gone Crackers until they’re ground into a flourlike consistency.
  3. Pour cracker flour into a shallow dish for coating tenders with onion powder, garlic powder, ground paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. In a shallow dish for dredging, whisk egg until it is an even yellow consistency.
  5. Using a paper towel, dry each chicken tender – this will help you coat each tender evenly and allow coating to stick better.
  6. I like to set up a dredging station of shallow pyrex dishes like this. I set up a small assembly line on my counter in this order from left to right: raw chicken tenders, egg wash, flour coating, a sheet pan sprayed with avocado oil.
  7. Dip each chicken tender individually in egg wash, then in the Mary’s Gone Cracker flour coating, put each on the prepared sheet pan.
  8. Continue the process until all tenders are dipped.
  9. Spray the sheet full of prepared tenders with avocado oil on top – this helps your chicken tenders get the nice crisp factor!
  10. Bake tenders for 30-35 minutes (be sure to temp the chicken up to 165 to ensure that it is done, as ovens may vary.)
  11. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

These gluten free chicken tenders are an amazing addition to your normal dinner rotation! I hope you’ll give them a try and let me know how you like it!! Share your recreations on instagram and tag me @bethannsbites – I LOVE seeing people try my recipes!!

Southern Chicken Salad

Food

Chicken Salad is such a simple thing that I so frequently overlook. It always resurfaces when the weather gets warmer and I start thinking about patio lunches with my friends and family. You know the daydream where we’re all dressed like a Vineyard Vines catalog (lol at the thought of John wearing Vineyard Vines…if you know my husband, you know), we have fabulous drinks in crystalware that I don’t mind taking outside and I won’t have to wash later. Anyways, of course there would be fabulous finger sandwiches with the finest of toppings – finest of all, this chicken salad. It’s that good.

I’ve always loved chicken salad and could never seem to get the consistency of my chicken to be just right. It was always too dry or big, or too tough somehow even though it was smothered in a delightful dressing.

Enter Sharon Knight, her daughter Jennifer is one of my best friends and before she left me to move across the country and do amazing things, she always raved about her mom’s chicken salad. Jennifer had the same problem. The consistency wasn’t right. When her mom visited she learned that her mom boils the chicken for about two hours. Yes, two hours sounds like a long time, but when a Southern Woman tells you to boil your chicken for two hours before making it into salad, you do it.

Although I don’t know Sharon’s fabulous secret family recipe, her chicken trick has transformed my chicken salad recipe forever. Let’s dig in to this recipe my instagram followers have been dying to get their hands on.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup mayo (I use Chosen Foods – no soy to be found in there!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • Lettuce wraps / bread / crackers / croissants

Procedure

  1. In a medium saucepan cover chicken breasts with water so the tops are covered. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and allow chicken to boil, covered, for two hours. Yes, really! Two hours, you don’t know Miss Sharon, but I do. She wouldn’t steer you wrong.
  3. Allow chicken to cool before shredding with a fork or food processor. (If you’re toasting your almonds as you go, now is a good time to take out a skillet and toss the slivered almonds in it to toast until they’re lightly browned.)
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, add mayo, onion powder, garlic powder, ground mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, honey, and lemon juice. Whisk together until you’re left with a smooth dressing.
  5. Add shredded chicken, grapes, and almonds to the mixing bowl. Toss to coat – I like to use my tiny tongs to incorporate everything but a wooden spoon works well too!
  6. Refrigerate or serve directly. This recipe is even better after it’s had time for the flavors to chill together!

This recipe is perfect for meal prep, luncheons – precisely as I listed above with only the epitome of class, and summer days. Add this chicken salad to a lettuce wrap, as I have here, or stick it in a container to take on the go and eat on crackers. If you’re operating at your classiest level and not gluten free, this also goes perfectly on a croissant. (Side note – if you ARE gluten free and you’ve found a good gf croissant, help a girl out! I need ya!)

Be sure to share this recipe with a friend who needs it! Tag me @bethannsbites on Instagram or use the #biteswithbeth so I can see that you’ve made it! There’s literally no bigger form of flattery to me than people making my recipes!! Wishing you sunny skies and delicious eats. ❤️Beth

Better Than Takeout Gluten Free Griddle Sandwiches

Food, GF
Homemade Griddle Sandwiches

I don’t know about you, but this quarantine has me craving allll the comfort food…or maybe it’s just that I’m bored and I love creating recipes and making things I don’t always have the time for. Regardless of its cause, my curse is your gain!

Whatever you do, don’t leave the house just for a McGriddle – it’s not worth breaking your quarantine for! I GOT YOU!

I used to LOVE McGriddle sandwiches! I also worked at McDonald’s for about 8 years of my life so I was familiar with the calories and questionable ingredients. If you work at a fast food restaurant as long as I did, chances are you familiarized yourself with the healthiest options available for your free meal on your shift. I never used to get the McGridddles because, spoiler alert, they’re not great for you.

My nostalgia got the best of me and I created for you – drumroll please – these better than takeout gluten free griddle sandwiches!! I love the idea of customizing these to your dietary needs and restrictions. Here’s what you’ll need to make my version!

Ingredients and equipment

  • Skillet or electric griddle (I recommend a griddle if you have one because it allows for more cakes at once and is easy maneuver. If you don’t have one, fear not! A skillet is fine.)
  • 6 rings to wide mouth mason jars – this is important to making the griddle cakes!
  • Spatula/pancake flipper of your choosing

For the griddle cakes:

  • 1 cup Gluten Free 1-to-1 flour WITH xanthan gum (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk of choice, I used cashew mylk
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • cooking spray of choice, I used avocado oil

For the sandwiches:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 pound of bacon or 5 sausage patties, cooked
  • 2.5 cheese slices

Procedure

  1. Preheat skillet or griddle medium-medium high heat. Place mason jar rings on the surface.
  2. In a large bowl, mix gluten free flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  3. Add milk, avocado oil, egg, and vanilla extract mixing until combined. The mixture will be smooth.
  4. Spray mason jar rings with cooking spray and add just enough batter to cover the bottom of each ring. This will create a sort of batter seal.
  5. Very carefully, dribble small dots of maple syrup into the batter of each ring, trying to stay towards the inside.
  6. Add enough batter to cover the syrup you drizzled into each ring. There should be a little room left for your pancake batter to expand.
  7. Allow each griddle cake to sit until you see that the bubbles on top have popped. (It’s important to wait long enough so your griddles aren’t gooey inside!!
  8. With a spatula, carefully flip each ring. Gently remove rings with the corner of your spatula. The rings will be VERY hot.
  9. Allow griddle cakes to sit until both sides are lightly browned. (This batter should make 10 griddle cakes)
  10. As each set of griddle cakes is finished, allow to cool on a cooling rack. I do not recommend stacking the cakes as they may become soggy.
  11. Scramble all three remaining eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste. Place a mason jar ring on your cooking surface and spray with cooking spray before adding eggs. (Your eggs should be split eggs into 5 rings.) Allow to cook almost through before flipping and removing the ring as you did with the griddle cakes.
  12. Remove eggs from heat when finished and add 1/2 slice of cheese of choice to each egg patty to melt.
  13. Assemble sandwiches with 2 griddle cakes, 3 half slices of bacon or 1 sausage patty, scrambled egg patty, and cheese.
Wrapped griddle sandwiches

Some notes:

If you’re making this recipe during NON-quarantine times and you’d like to have it ready for before school/work lunches, I recommend simply making the griddle cakes as suggested and freezing them. You can easily pop them in the toaster and add fresh eggs, meat and cheese.

A second option to make this a quick, grab and go recipe: wrap the sandwiches in parchment or wax paper and then with foil to prevent freezer burn. You’ll be able to remove the foil and heat in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes, flipping halfway through.

I hope you’ll try these and love them as much as we do! It’s a great little brunch treat without the icky feeling of fast food sandwiches!

Share this with a friend who loves McGriddles! Be sure to tag your recreations on instagram @bethannsbites or share to my Facebook page Bites With Beth! Drop me a comment or message if you have questions. Let me know what you think!

21 Days of Joy

Life

Gooooood morning friends! I’m so happy you’re here. Not just saying that, I’m ACTUALLY happy you’re here…and not just because human interaction has been severely limited and stalled by COVID-19. Today, I’d like to challenge you to find joy in the ordinary for 21 days.

Why 21 days you ask? I’m sure you’ve heard before that 21 days is the number of days that it’s supposed to psychologically take a person to form a habit. What better habit could you possibly have than finding joy?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “21 days is a LONG time!” Or maybe your internal monologue is saying something more like, “I’m already schooling my kids at home, still working AND trying to not eat my bodyweight in leftover Reese Eggs. How can this lady expect me to do more?” This 21 days isn’t going to feel long because we’re going to have some fun! We’ll be connecting to each other – virtually and more than 6 feet apart of course…I love you from…over there. I’ll also be encouraging you to connect with the ones you love and lean on in life already. (They’re great! Let’s celebrate them!)

If you need further encouragement to find joy in your everyday, let me just mention that finding joy will release those ‘feel good’ endorphins. I’m lookin’ at YOU dopamine and serotonin! There are lots of ways to get those endorphins to come out to play.

Experiments have even suggested that people who are happier get sick less. I can’t think of a better time to have a rock solid immune system than now. You’ll be so happy that your immune system will be all, “not today ‘rona! Not. Today.”

Maybe you just want to participate because you’re bored in quarantine? You’re totally welcome! Please join us! Maybe you’re just frustrated/annoyed/struggling to coexist with your quarantine partners? You are so welcome, please join us! I’m sending you all the virtual hugs and when this all blows over, I’ll even give you a real one too! Maybe you thrive on going, routine, and normalcy. I get it. I love to be on the go. You are so welcome here, we’ll be going on a joyful little journey for the next 21 days! Come along. Maybe you’re struggling with the anxiety or the feeling of impending doom this virus has brought. Yep, I’ve been there too. Push through, I’m proud of you and I love you. You are right where you need to be, finding joy with me.

The details

  • We’ll start our 21 days of joy challenge TODAY, April 13, 2020, yay!!
  • Where? If you don’t already, go give me a follow on Instagram @bethannsbites – it’s the place to be. Good food, a cute baby, dogs, and most importantly – that’s where this challenge is taking place.
  • Each day you’ll have a task. Something action based that will help you feel better for the day. (Don’t worry we’ll start small and work our way up!)
  • You’ll post or story on instagram using #joyswithbeth and tag @bethannsbites to show me that you’ve completed the challenge for that day.
  • Each day that you complete the challenge using #joyswithbeth and tagging @bethannsbites you earn an entry into the giveaway at the end of the challenge.
  • What’s the prize? So glad you asked. In the spirit of social distancing and remaining quarantined as much as possible, I’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner! This way you can get yourself a little something from the safety of your own home.
  • Be sure to tune into my stories each day to find your task for the day. Can’t wait to connect with you!!

Our circumstances may not be ideal right now but I think we have a responsibility to ourselves and those around us to find joy in the meantime. Don’t waste this part of your life waiting for it to end. Do the hard thing. Find the joy. Be the joy.

Healthy-ish Homemade Reese Eggs

Food, GF, Treats, Uncategorized
Healthy-ish Homemade Reese Eggs

Is it even really Easter without Reese’s eggs? If you’d asked me as a kid…or even three years ago as an adult, I probably would have told you no. The cute, festive wrapper, the egg shape – obviously the best of all the giant Reese’s shapes, and the perfect peanut butter to chocolate ratio made those babies perfection. They’re still delicious, I’ll admit, buuuut so not worth the way that the soy, dairy, and sometimes wheat in the Reese’s makes me feel.

On top of icky side effects, it’s quarantine time so we’re going to the store ONLY for essentials. Reese’s eggs – no matter what your heart may tell you at the time – are NOT an essential item. Keep your booty home!! The good news is: I bet you’ve got the ingredients to make these healthier-for-you nutty chocolatey eggs in your pantry RIGHT now. (Note: if you DON’T have ingredients listed – see me on insta or Facebook and I’ll help you find a suitable substitution!)

Ingredients

Okay, the sooner we get started, the sooner you get to enjoy the deliciousness, so let’s dig in!

  • 1 cup peanut butter – you want the good stuff, JUST nuts and salt (I actually used Trader Joe’s Almond Butter because it’s a pandemic and Thrive Market is way behind on orders so no PB in my house!)
  • 3 Tbsp cassava flour – other good subs: coconut flour and almond flour (you’ll need more than 3 Tbsp if using almond)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Procedure:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add nut butter, cassava flour, maple syrup, and salt. Stir until well combined.
  2. Using a cookie scooper, portion out filling then flatten and form into an egg-like shape.
  3. Freeze eggs for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  4. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil – I like to use the double boiling method: a glass bowl overtop about 2 cups of water boiling in a saucepan.
  5. Remove chocolate chips from heat and dip the eggs using a fork to flip and cover both sides.
  6. Drop onto wax paper and refrigerate for at least ten minutes or until chocolate sets.
  7. Store in the refrigerator until serving.
You’re looking for eggy shapes – they don’t have to be perfect to be cute!

Try these babies out and let me know what you think of them! Be sure to post to Bites With Beth on Facebook or @bethannsbites on Instagram! Better yet, share it with a friend who you know would love it too!

Facing fear and COVID-19

Life

In December leading into January of this year, I think I responded to the Coronavirus as many of us did – by laughing it off. The prospect of an epidemic such as China’s springing up in our own backyard was terrifying but it wasn’t our problem yet. The story developed for months. The situation worsened and was declared a pandemic as the months passed.

Suddenly, during the second week of March, things got real quickly. The virus was spreading rapidly in the United States and slowly but surely colleges, events, and schools were being shut down. As a person who is prone to anxiety over things that are completely out of my control, my first instinct was a cancerous growth of despair. The pit in my stomach was debilitating. I paced around my house aimlessly.

As a person who is prone to anxiety over things that are completely out of my control, my first instinct was a cancerous growth of despair.

The stress only worsened towards the end of the week. I was supposed to return to work the following Monday and we’d just been out for Spring Break. I knew students and teachers who had traveled to affected areas or booked a cheap flight thanks to the fear of the spreading virus. I was worried that we’d all go back on Monday and it would be a hotbed for the spread. I had two boxes of tissues and half a tub of clorox wipes left in my classroom. There were no other disinfectant cleaners to be found at the store.

Later that week, after days of worry, my school district canceled school for the coming week and I had a small sense of relief. The district insisted that they expected to return March 23rd. The pit grew as the date drew near. Eventually, our governor shut all schools down. We’re currently out until May 4th.

My husband still had to work. So I’d stay home with our son, preparing to teach online and taking care of a one year old who hates mama’s computer for no reason other than it takes precious attention away from him. (Normally, I work while he’s asleep…but these are not normal times!)

John would get home and I’d make him sanitize, change clothes immediately, and scrub his hands. Then I’d scrub the door handles, his keys, and his cell phone.

Two and a half weeks ago, it was determined that many jobs could be done from home. Luckily for us, John’s job was determined to be one of those. He’s been home with us ever since he came home early on a Wednesday afternoon. My mind rested just a little bit more. We understand the great privilege we have, being able to hole up in our home waiting for this to pass.

After we were all quarantined, I found myself fearing trips to the store. I have asthma, so John has been our grocery getter. Things were getting worse and again every trip felt like a risk. If I’m being honest, it still does.

A funny thing I’ve noticed about myself during my lifetime is that I will be the first person to look for the silver linings, I’ll even find them…but I don’t sit with them. If I let myself, I sit with worry, anxiety and despair.

The thing is, we all have a choice every single day: whether or not we want to sit with worry and despair. We all have the ability to decide how our home, family, and mind respond to this crisis. I urge you to choose faith over fear.

choose faith over fear

I read something recently about how someday our kids will tell us how they remember living through this pandemic and they will remember spending time together, being homeschooled, the silly games and activities we play to pass the time. I hope with all my heart that that is true. We have to make it come true.

I realized at some point that I was allowing myself to be paralyzed and stagnant with fear. That didn’t feel very radical to me. I also came across the saying “Faith over fear,” again recently. It’s a saying that I’ve seen around for years. It’s unclear exactly where it comes from but I think it’s a beautiful mantra during these times.

I realized at some point that I was allowing myself to be paralyzed and stagnant with fear.

I urge you today to choose faith over fear. Choose to have faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity and your fellow man, faith that science will deliver a cure, faith in our medical staff and other essential employees who are risking themselves everyday to keep our world spinning. Pray it out, write it out, talk it out and then, most importantly, LET. IT. GO.

We can only do what we are able to do. We can only do the best that we can. I can’t control the fact that my neighbors are having a pool party or the fact that my county has passed no stay at home or shelter in place orders. I can control the number of grocery trips we take. I can control the fact that we only go out if it is absolutely necessary. I can control the fact that I sanitize everything we’ve ordered online in lieu of going to the store.

Choose to have faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity and your fellow man, faith that science will deliver a cure, faith in our medical staff and other essential employees who are risking themselves everyday to keep our world spinning.

Do your best and leave the rest. That is the only way to protect your peace. Protecting your peace extends to your children and how they’ll remember this crisis. They know it when we’re stressed and panicked and short with them, no matter how small.

I urge you to find ways to choose faith over fear, love over hate, grace over grimace, and joy over despair. We can and we will get through this together. Take it one hour, one day, one week at a time. Choose faith and keep choosing faith.

Whole30 Fried Pork Chops

Food, GF, Whole30
Fried pork chops, roasted red potatoes, and green beans

Okay y’all, these pork chops DO NOT taste gluten free/grain free/healthyish. I promise you won’t miss traditional flour in this dish. Holy yum! I tested the final batch while my parents were eating dinner with us and my mom, who typically eats little to no meat, ate her whole pork chop! If you know my mom that is a BIG compliment. *Brushes dirt off shoulders*

Seriously though, I modeled these pork chops off of my husband’s legendary fried pork chops. He said last night these were “easily the best fried pork chops I’ve ever had.” Going to pretend for a brief moment my mother-in-law totally isn’t reading this. Shhhh. No one tell her!

Okay, I’ll stop talking these up and get to the nitty gritty. You’ve seriously GOT to try this recipe out ASAP! Pair it with some red potatoes and your favorite green veggie and you’re set! It would seem like the breading would make these so that they aren’t good leftovers…but that assumption is wrong. They reheat very well so those bulk packages of pork chops are your friend here! To keep that perfect crispiness, just reheat in a cast iron skillet.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour (you’ll see it marked both ways)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds of pork chops

Procedure:

  1. Prepare a dredging station with two medium prep bowls – I like mine to be near my stove so I can just pop the prepared chop right into the pan.
  2. In the first prep bowl, stir two eggs until even in yellowish color and yolks are completely broken up.
  3. In the second prep bowl, add arrowroot flour, almond flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well until the mixture is even.
  4. If your pork chops are slimy or wet, use a paper towel to try them off – this will help the breading to stick better!
  5. Dip the chops in egg, allowing the excess egg to drip off.
  6. Dip the chops in flour mixture, being sure to coat the pork chop evenly.
  7. Drop that baby right into the skillet and let it sizzle! Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes for thin pork chops or 3-5 minutes for thicker chops. (When in doubt, use a thermometer and be sure it reaches at least 145 degrees fahrenheit.)
  8. Continue cooking until all chops are cooked, letting the completed pork chops land on a plate with a paper towel covering it or a cooling rack.

I truly hope you’ll give this recipe to try. It’s a really good one!! Pork chops are so great for weeknights because they cook up quickly, saving you precious weeknight time. They’re also great for entertaining because it’s an economical cut of meat!

No matter why you decide to try it, just do it! Be sure to share the recipe and let everyone know how you like it. Especially helpful if you share with someone who is Gluten/Grain Free!

As always, share your creations using #biteswithbeth and tagging me @bethannsbites on instagram.