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.

Whole30 Stuffed Peppers

Uncategorized

One of the best things about completing our January Whole30 this year was learning to be creative with healthy food again! These Whole30 stuffed peppers will spice up your meal prep and help you kick boring routine meals to the curb!

John isn’t much of a green pepper fan so I know firsthand that these stuffed peppers meal prep well! They’re one of my favorite foods so I find it easiest to enjoy them as my lunch prep. The cauliflower rice keeps them both Whole30 compliant and light enough that I’m not sleepy all afternoon!

Here’s what you need to do:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use 93/7 ratio)
  • 1/3 of a large yellow onion
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 10 oz riced cauliflour
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste — be sure there is no sugar added for Whole30 compliance!
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Siete Foods Cashew Queso

Procedure:

  1. Cut and core the green bell peppers. You can chop the tops off like I have, or you could slice them down the middle so they are halved if you prefer a smaller portion. Set aside in a glass baking dish.
  2. In a large skillet, heat avocado oil.
  3. Add onions and cook until translucent.
  4. Add ground beef and cook until all beef is browned.
  5. Add chili powder and stir until all beef is coated in chili powder.
  6. Stir in tomato paste, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and cauli rice. Allow flavors to combine for 10 minutes or so.
  7. Using a spoon, fill the cored green peppers with the beef and cauli rice mixture.
  8. Bake in a glass baking dish at 375 for 30 minutes.
  9. Top with siete cashew queso

Note: if you’re not completing a Whole30 and have no issues with a little dairy cheese, I highly suggest topping these babies with a little shredded mozzarella. Simply add the mozzarella the last 5-10 minutes the peppers are baking and enjoy that cheesy goodness!

Be sure to make this simple meal prep ASAP! Share it with your friends and tag me or use #biteswithbeth so I can see your re-creation!! I LOVE when my readers share their versions of my recipes. Even better if you share it for all of your friends!

Soy-Free Korean-Not-Bulgogi Chicken

Food, Uncategorized
Korean Style Chicken Stir Fry

This recipe is comin’ atcha…late, like super late on a day that I wasn’t even scheduled to release a post. Life has pulled me in so many directions over the past couple weeks and I’ve gotten a bit behind. It’s a stage of adulthood that feels like a constant juggling act. Not like a GOOD juggling act, though, like the one where it’s just a middle-schooler who’s learning to juggle. They’re embarrassed at the number of balls they can juggle so they keep adding 1-2 more than they can actually successfully keep in the air. So the balls drop and the juggler dodges and dives and before long, all of the balls are on the floor. Shew. Yep, that’s pretty much how life has felt for me the past few weeks.

I mention all of this to say: thank you for coming back after my absence! Thank you for hanging around! (I promise this recipe is worth it!)

Several weeks ago, I set out to make “Chicken Bulgogi” as I’ve had it several times and it’s amazing! Unfortunately, I’m allergic to soy so traditional “Chicken Bulgogi” comes with hefty side effects for my brief enjoyment. So as any good aspiring recipe creator would, I researched and practiced my own bulgogi sauce to create a better-for-you Korean-style Chicken Recipe.

A little background: I sought out to create “Chicken Bulgogi.” My husband, who has been deployed to South Korea a couple times during his Army career, and I were discussing how in Korea near the Army base all types of meat are labeled “Bulgogi.” Everything is labeled “bulgogi” to the extent that he assumed bulgogi was more the method than the dish. Street food, barbecue joints, and random houses that little old grandmas cook in the back and call a restaurant in the front, all have many forms of “bulgogi.” We tried to figure out what the word “bulgogi” meant but didn’t have much luck so I decided I’d ask my coworker who is Korean.

The next day at lunch, I mentioned to him that I was working on a chicken bulgogi recipe and we were curious what bulgogi actually meant. He sort of chuckled and said, “you’re making chicken bulgogi?”

“Yes, well sort of, it’s my own rendition but we were wondering what bulgogi meant.” He chuckled again before explaining that “bul” = beef, so it’s not possible to make chicken bulgogi. Apparently, it’s another example of things being oversimplified for tourists/visiting soldiers!

In any case, this Korean-style Chicken stir-fry dish is wholesome, healthy, and meal preps wonderfully! I will admit, this one is far from a “quick, one-pan” dinner but it is SO worth it. You won’t regret this fresh and tasty Korean Inspired dish!

Korean Inspired Lunch prep

Ingredients:

For the pickled carrots:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups shredded carrots

For the chicken:

  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (or 4 fresh cloves, minced)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken thighs (about 1-1.5 pounds), cut into small bite-sized pieces

For the cilantro-lime drizzle:

  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil

For serving:

  • julienned cucumbers
  • cooked rice

Procedure:

  1. Whisk together 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey, salt, and 2 tablespoons each of avocado oil and water before pouring the mixture over the shredded carrots in a jar.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour. (This step works really well if you do it the night before.) If you enjoy pickled carrots to top other things as well, make a larger batch – they’ll keep for several weeks due to the acidity!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut aminos, honey, rice vinegar, garlic powder, ginger, and black pepper. Add chicken thighs and marinate for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Note: make sure the chicken is well-coated in the sauce. I recommend using a large stasher bag or a shallow dish to allow as much of the chicken to touch the sauce as possible.
  4. Add cilantro, garlic, lime juice and avocado oil to a blender or food processor. Run until well blended into a drizzly sauce.
  5. Wait for your stuff to marinate. The hardest part, to be honest. 😦
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of avocado oil in a large skillet.
  7. Cook marinated chicken thighs until completely cooked (165 degrees fahrenheit if you’re using a thermometer) about 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces!
  8. Assemble your masterpiece: layer rice, chicken, cucumbers, pickled carrots, and cilantro lime drizzle

Not the quickest meal I’ve shared on Bites With Beth but definitely a flavor bomb you’ve got to try!! This is definitely a crowd-pleaser for anyone who likes Asian food. You can make this to impress your friends at dinner, buuut if I’m being honest, you might want to be selfish with your hard work and enjoy it all work-week long as your meal prep!

Either way, you won’t regret giving this recipe a try!

Whole30 Chicken Zoodle Soup

Food
Chicken Zoodle Soup

John and I completed our first Whole30 in January. It was an enlightening experience that also made us both feel proud of our accomplishment and the fact that coming out of it, we felt totally in control of our nutrition and the way that we choose to eat. It helped us come up with creative, healthier solutions to our normal obstacles to eating well. During our January Whole30, I also had the unfortunate experience of a three day stomach bug. Like many people, my normal remedies for an upset stomach are sprite, plain crackers, and maybe toast. If you know anything about Whole30 you know that exactly ZERO of those options are Whole30 approved.

Enter in: my chicken and zoodle soup. Chicken noodle soup is a family favorite and we go through phases where we eat it almost every week. It’s simple to whip up on the stove or in the Instant Pot if you’re busy and can’t watch it, and you can pack it totally full of veggies to get in a good serving!

For this recipe, I’ve made some substitutions to the “normal” chicken soup we make. I’ve swapped out the chicken broth for bone broth. Whole30 enlightened me to the fact that they’re adding CRAZY CRAP to our food…even our chicken broth, God bless it! Many store-bought chicken broths have sulfites and added sugar…why?!

Bone broth has the benefit of protein, collagen (great for skin, hair, nails and joints), and many studies suggest that the gelatinous property of bone broth is great for healing a leaky gut. To keep the Whole30 compliance, I’ve also swapped zoodles for the regular noodles. This boosts your veggie content and eliminates the grains you must avoid when completing a Whole30. The garlic is not a sub — we always use lots of garlic in our chicken soup! Garlic is both immune-boosting and helps you overcome a cold even after you already have it!

Combine the following ingredients and you’ve got a superfoods soup!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 5 medium to large carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh minced or finely chopped garlic
  • 4 cups chicken bone broth
  • 4 cups water
    • (Please note: if you’re using broth or stock instead of bone broth, double the broth or stock and omit the water!)
  • 3 small to medium zucchini, spiralized into zoodles
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, place chicken breasts, chopped carrots, garlic, and bone broth. I used frozen bone broth and simply dropped it all in, allowing the bone broth to melt gradually.
  2. When bone broth has liquified, add onion powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Allow the mixture to boil until chicken has reached about 160 degrees.
  4. Using tongs, pull partially cooked chicken and chop it before returning it to the boiling pot.
  5. Add in zoodles and allow to cook until chicken reaches 165 degrees and zoodles have softened slightly.
  6. Allow soup to cool a bit before serving.
  7. Store in wide-mouth mason jars in the refrigerator for an easy packed lunch or a quick dinner to heat up leftovers with little to no spillage.
Jarred chicken zoodle soup

Be sure to give this recipe a try and share it with a friend. Better yet, drop some off to a friend in need! Show off your hard work using #biteswithbeth and tagging @bethannsbites on Instagram.

Grain Free S’Mores Cookies

Food, GF, Treats, Uncategorized

With just 6 days until Valentine’s Day, now is the perfect time to start thinking about ways to treat your sweetie, or your bestie, or maybe your favorite co-worker. Today’s recipe is a little self-serving because I was thinking ways to treat my valentine too!

Grain Free S’mores Cookies

One of John’s favorite flavor combinations is a s’more. We recently ordered the Girl Scout cookie version of a s’more and we were not wishing for some more…it wasn’t our favorite cookie combination by any means. So this year for Valentine’s Day, I’ll be treating John with a big batch of these Grain Free S’mores Cookies by ME rather than the Girl Scouts.

Since John is still currently away for work, the recipe will be new to him (even if he gets a preview of these bad boys online) but they’ve been co-worker and student approved! They’re so easy and quick to whip up, you’ll want to add all of the ingredients to your grocery order…like now!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup cassava flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp melted clarified butter or ghee (coconut oil will also work but I prefer the clarified butter flavor!)
  • 2 tbsp creamy almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (if you’re dairy free I like Enjoy Life!)

Procedure:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, add both types of flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until combined.
  2. Add in eggs, maple syrup, melted clarified butter, almond butter, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined well and lumps are gone.
  3. Stir in marshmallows and chocolate chips. Note: Highly recommend using miniature marshallows (usually found by cake and cookie decorating stuff) or cutting your marshmallows into fourths. I simply used my kitchen shears and cut them into fourths before I began mixing because the mini ones were $4 and store brand was $.88 and mama didn’t raise no fool. — The reason for this: if you have larger marshmallow pieces they explode and don’t give you as much of a s’more property but more of the empty tomb Easter roll effect.
  4. Roll dough into balls and flatten slightly before dropping onto a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

These bite-sized beauties would pair perfectly with coffee, if you’re like me or a glass of milk, if you’re more like John! Low in added sugar, grain-free, and super delicious! Give these a try this weekend and let me know how you like them.

On Morning Sickness and Grace

Mommin', Pregnancy

The one thing that no one (besides MAYBE your mother if she was really sick with you and likes to remind you of that) tells you about when you’re trying to get pregnant or just found out you’re pregnant and the hormones haven’t really ramped up yet, is morning sickness. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage that morning sickness isn’t just in the morning – and for me, it DEFINITELY wasn’t. I’m writing this not to scare you newly pregnant mommas – there is already more than enough stuff out there on the interwebs to do that – but to hopefully provide some solidarity to mommas who are just in the thick of it.

“I would only have a name for when my lactation consultant mentioned casually that I had hyperemesis months after I’d given birth. I’d only remember the name of hyperemesis because Amy Schumer got REAL about it in her Netflix special, Growing.

In fact, the point of this is to share with you what worked for me while dealing with astounding morning sickness that I would only have a name for when my lactation consultant mentioned casually that I had hyperemesis months after I’d given birth. I’d only remember the name of hyperemesis because Amy Schumer got REAL about it in her Netflix special, “Growing.”

As I said previously, no one tells you just HOW FREAKING BAD it was. Maybe their mind played tricks on them in the excitement of their new babe? It doesn’t match their persona? Or maybe they hope to minimize the struggle of other mamas? Well, I’m not here for it.

I was so sick. So sick in fact, that I wish I’d kept a running list of the places I’d puked. If you’re doubting how sick I was, let this stand as evidence: by the third month of pregnancy, I’d taught my two mischievous little dogs to leave a puddle of vomit alone until I finished puking and could clean it up. Let me tell you, my dogs are NOT super stars at dog training. They’re not even trained well, but they learned that!

To give you an idea of the drastic nature of my illness, I puked all over the floors of the apartment we’d lived in when we found out I was pregnant. John and I were relieved to move into our new house where the floors were almost entirely hardwood – this meant it’d be easier to clean up my vomit! Yippee! I puked in the car. I puked beside the car. I puked in the toilet sooo much. My toilets were never cleaner. It turns out when you stick your face into your toilet bowl multiple times a day, you like it to be sanitized daily.

I even once puked down the center of my classroom floor, leaving a trail on the way to the staff restroom.

I even once puked down the center of my classroom floor, leaving a trail on the way to the staff restroom. I had to call a dear friend and co-worker, admit to her that I was pregnant, and explain the problem. Within 30 minutes she had three custodians in my classroom and a sub for my classes. I was sick and embarrassed and I was out the door. (I also learned this day to always keep an extra set of clothes in my desk.)

Much like the Little Mermaid had “gadgets and gizmos aplenty,” I had aversions and food allergies galooooooore! (Thingamabobs? I probably still have twenty.) The only difference was I didn’t want mooooore! Pre-pregnancy, I meal prepped. I was in much better shape and just figuring out how to manage my food allergies in a practical way. I didn’t even know what an aversion was. For those of you like my sweet innocent pre-pregnancy self, I’ll explain.

Aversions

An aversion is a repulsion to a particular food, smell, or beverage. The rising hormones in your newly knocked up body, cause your body to develop this repulsion. Add in low blood sugar and fatigue and you’ve got the perfect storm. My most notable aversions were as follows:

  • Water – yes, that’s a thing
  • Eggs
  • Meat – most notably chicken
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Green Vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Coffee – sad, I know!
  • Basically anything that wasn’t plain white, non-GF bread


Some of these things I think I eventually just avoided because they were so awful to have come up in a vomiting spell.

I remember vomiting so hard that blood vessels would REGULARLY bust in my eyes. This left me with red, swollen, unattractive eyes that led to a student even asking, “is your husband a nice man?” because she thought that maybe I was not safe at home. I spoke with a former student the other day and he reminded me that I couldn’t wear makeup because I would smell it on my face and get sick! (Sadly, this is true!)

Things I could eat (most of the time):

  • Egg McMuffins – only if they were NOT homemade. I tried to get ahead and prep my own Egg McMuffins to reheat for breakfasts and lunches but I’d get sick on it every time. I threw so many sandwiches away.
  • The Starbucks Pink Drink (referenced in this post)
  • Starbucks Cinnamon Coffee Cake (also referenced here)
  • Orange soda -this one was odd as I never usually drink soda! But alas, another Amanda DeJournett remedy worked for me.
  • Chipotle tortilla chips. Plain. I think I lived for weeks on these.
  • Bowls from Chipotle with only white rice, chicken, sometimes black beans, corn salsa, and cheese.
  • Later in my pregnancy I would be able to eat more things but at the transitional phase between dying of vomit and learning to live again, I ate a lot of chicken fingers and fries when I was feeling sick.

Now that you know that the crazy things you’re literally sick over are normal and okay, even if that’s not what is always shared or represented, I’d like to share with you what helped me.

What helped me:

  • Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, my mother-in-law visited and mentioned that sometimes pre-natals can be really hard on your stomach. She took me to the store where we purchased Gummy Pre-Natals that were lifechanging and really helped with my sickness at the time. I used them for the rest of my pregnancy as well as the whole time I was breastfeeding.
  • Ordering out – if you’re able to cook at home or tolerate someone else in your home cooking for you, that’s great and perfect and ideal, however, I was not. In the beginning, I was so sick that we ordered out a couple times a week because I was so sick I couldn’t handle the smell of something cooking in our small apartment. On really bad days, we’d just order out and hope it stayed down for me! This was crucial when John left for his deployment and there was no one left to cook for me!
  • After several weeks and much weight loss during the first trimester, my midwife prescribed Vitamin B6 with Unisom at bedtime to prevent the super tough morning sickness. (This is what made it possible for me to even eat most of the foods listed before!)

In this post I talk about my early-pregnancy anxieties surrounding eating. Pregnancy for me was hard.

In June, I went in for my check up and I’d lost 27 pounds. My doctor wasn’t satisfied with this and knew that I’d been horribly sick. She suggested a few things. Initially, she wanted to prescribe me protein shakes. This was not an option because all of the things she could prescribe contained whey protein which is a derivative of dairy and I am allergic to dairy. Then she suggested, as she had previously, that I take Ondansetron for the constant nausea. I was very hesitant even after discussing the potential risks and I didn’t take it for a couple weeks after filling the prescription. I was terrified of the potentially negative risks for my baby. After talking with my husband and doing my own research in addition to the information supplied by my doctor, I began to take the medication as needed. I determined based off of my research that the risks were minimal. As always, it is most important that you do your own research and you are comfortable with the choices you’re making for your own health and well-being.

I carried it with me my entire pregnancy when my OBGYN told me to just give myself some grace. I think this is something women commonly struggle with.

When I went in to the check up where I’d lost so much weight in just a few months, my doctor showed concern and explained that losing weight and not being nourished would impact my baby as well. I carried it with me my entire pregnancy when my OBGYN told me to just give myself some grace. I think this is something women commonly struggle with. She asked me to give myself some grace in what I was eating – you saw the list. It wasn’t pretty! She advised that I should eat whatever it was that I could keep down – including allergens if my body tolerated it. She told me that stress and tiredness only make it worse. To my own great surprise, I listened and I gave myself some grace.

A note for those of you supporting a pregnant mama: SO many well-intentioned people said, “It’ll be worth it!” “The baby will make it all okay!” “You won’t even remember this after he’s born!” – this was not helpful to me at all! Sometimes, when you’re sick for literally six months straight, you’ve reached the third trimester and you’re still sick, all you need is some empathy. For once, make this issue about the mama! I PROMISE she hasn’t forgotten the little one who she is currently sheltering within her own body. She’s in this for the outcome. Please, please, please – just ask her what you can do to help, offer to find food she can tolerate or medicine that will make her feel better. Remember that she is more than the baby within her.

Remember that she is more than the baby within her.

I WAS thinking of my baby. I WAS thankful to be pregnant. I knew it’d be okay and it would be worth it. I was thinking of my baby more than anyone in the entire world. This type of comment feels dismissive of the mother who is likely going through SO much right now. It always made me feel a bit like an ungrateful wimp and had the unintended consequence of making me feel worse than before the comment was made.

Even if you mean it and you have the best of intentions, please withhold the comment that “it will be worth it,” because I promise, that mama knows. You’re not telling her anything she doesn’t know and she doesn’t need a reminder to be grateful. Sometimes she just needs an ear or some empathy or maybe a hand with some chores so she can rest!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Food, GF, Uncategorized
Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with berries

Inspired by First Watch’s superfoods bowl, this Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding is excellent as a breakfast, snack, or even a post-dinner dessert. I personally, love to have this as a breakfast. It packs well, I like to drop it in a wide-mouth mason jar with plenty of room for berries, granola, and stirring. It also holds up well from a Sunday meal prep.

This recipe is especially great for expectant and breastfeeding mamas because chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and high in both fiber and calcium. Coconut is a lactogenic food and many mothers who breastfeed credit it to replenishing a low supply.

Ingredients:

1 – 13.5 ounce can of full fat coconut milk (Trader Joe’s is my favorite but there are many other good options!)

1/2 cup chia seeds

splash of good quality vanilla extract

1/4 cup agave (I like Wholesome organic Blue Agave)

pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt

Procedure:

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until well combined. It will be a watery consistency but will thicken quickly. (One note about the coconut milk: you wanted canned coconut milk to get the correct creamy consistency but you do not want it to be separated completely. If you open your can of coconut milk and it is separated or chunky, simply heat it on the stove on low heat until it has an even consistency.)

2. Refrigerate the entire bowl of chia seed pudding for 3 hours. The chia seeds will expand as they absorb the liquid from the coconut milk creating a delightful pudding-like texture.

3. Serve chia seed pudding in a bowl (or jar for meal prep). Top with fruit and granola as you please.

This is an easy recipe to whip up tonight! Give it a try and share it with me and all of your friends on Facebook or Instagram using #biteswithbeth!