A Review of YAK The Kathmandu Kitchen

Ever since we drove by its humble location in a strip mall, I’ve been dying to try YAK The Kathmandu Kitchen. We’ve always managed to “forget” about the restaurant when deciding where to dine out, but after reading this article about their upcoming expansion, I decided right then and there that we would finally try them out this past Friday night.

yak-restaurant

[source]

I sure am glad we did!

The restaurant interior is fairly open and airy, and it had a comfortable feel to it. They definitely could use some new booth seats (my 31 extra pounds of belly and I immediately sunk into a giant hole), though we switched to a table and chairs shortly after I managed to climb up.

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Before we ordered our meal, the server brought out a type of crispy flatbread that reminded me of a sesame seed cracker. It was peppery and salty—I forgot to ask what it’s called—and served with what I gathered to be coriander chutney and tamarind chutney (though I’m not sure).

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Whatever the bread/sauces were, they definitely had a spicy kick to them!

After asking our server for recommendations (everything sounded delicious!), we decided to share an appetizer of traditional Nepali momo, a dumpling that can be filled with vegetables, chicken, or other meat (we chose chicken). They came with fantastic dipping sauce made from tomato, garlic, and seasonings.

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We opted for the traditional steamed version, although the dumplings also come fried.

Since we weren’t sure of the portion sizes, we decided to share an entrée of traditional Nepali thali (they also had an Indian version) and an order of garlic naan.

We chose lamb for our protein (there are vegetarian and multiple meat options) and our multi-course platter of food came out on a large metal tray.

Everything was full of flavor—and the “medium” (as opposed to “mild” or “spicy”) level was perfect for our palettes (and we tend to enjoy spicy foods).

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The selections included (clockwise): basmati rice, steamed mustard greens, dal (a soup of lentils, vegetables, and spices), gundruk (a fermented leafy green vegetable mixed with tomato, onion, cilantro, and other seasonings), and lamb curry. The lamb was incredibly tender (I could’ve made a meal of it and the rice), and I enjoyed the tanginess of the gundruk. While the mustard greens were a little bland (possibly due to the spice of everything else), the dal was quite satisfying.

In the center of the platter was a “salad,” which really only consisted of a piece of lettuce and two cucumber slices (the cucumber was actually pretty refreshing with all the heavy spices). The small dish at the top was a dessert, which seemed like a lightly sweetened, chilled pudding with shredded coconut in it. Not “dessert” by my indulgent Western standards, but it was nice to end the meal on a sweeter, if not quite watery, note.

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The naan was also fantastic, but I do wish the garlic had been roasted beforehand. It was almost raw and quite pungent—even for extreme garlic lovers like us!

All in all, the food was delicious, and it’s obvious (to me) why the restaurant won “best ethnic food” the last 2 years in a local publication.

Pricing was very reasonable, and you receive a lot of food for your purchase. I’m anxious to return—maybe to try some of the Indian dishes or their lunchtime buffet. Although you won’t find actual yak on the menu, YAK The Kathmandu Kitchen is well worth a visit.

Weekly Links 09.28.14

Happy Sunday!

After several beautiful, cool, fall-like days, today is kind of dreary. We’re staying around the house prepping lots of frozen meals to have on hand for when Baby M arrives. When I say “we,” I mean “Mark.”

Yesterday we had some yummy lunch at Cousin Vinny’s (pizza) in Daphne and stumbled upon the annual Jubilee Fest. There was some nice wooden artwork, but most of the stuff there wasn’t our taste. We ran a few errands and then saw the movie, “This Is Where I Leave You.” I enjoyed it!

Anyway, today I’m trying to relax so I make it through my last scheduled work week before I go on maternity leave. To say I’m excited would be the understatement of the year.

Here’s a bit of weekend reading for you, though.

weekly links header .Recipes.

Bacon Cinnamon Rolls via How Sweet It Is

I’m in awe of this recipe. I’ve never made homemade cinnamon rolls (all about the Pilsbury, though!) and they seem so complicated and time-consuming, but…BACON.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie via Averie Cooks

It’s that “pumpkin ALL the things” time of year. But seriously, you can’t go wrong with both ice cream and pumpkin.

Butternut Squash, Apple, & Pear Crisp via Edible Perspective

So many fall flavors…in one dish! Yum.

Roasted Garlic and Potato Beer Cheese Soup via The Beeroness

This sounds like the perfect, indulgent fall comfort meal. I love soup, especially this time of year!

Sweet Pulled Pork Taco Pizza with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch via Carlsbad Cravings

I’m not generally a fan of nontraditional pizzas, but this sounds tasty.

.Food & Nutrition.

Food Addiction vs. Eating Addiction: Why A Single World Makes All The Difference via Huffington Post

This is a difficult one because we have to eat food in order to live. While the term “eating addiction” makes more sense than “food addiction,” it’s true that processed food is formulated to meet that “sweet spot” when scientists combine the perfect amount of salt, sugar, and fat (nevermind the evolutionary reasons behind why we seek out carbohydrates, fat, etc.). Of course, then there are people who have an eating addiction (which is just one of many ways eating disorders are manifested) so our relationship to food is equally important as the foods we choose to eat.

To Stop Picky Eaters From Tossing The Broccoli, Give Them Choices via NPR

With limited budgets, offering a lot of choices doesn’t seem that possible. Plus, the eating of vegetables begins at home (though I realize that many people eating school lunches are low-income and don’t have that kind of home life). Regardless of whether it’s in schools, homes, restaurants, or hospitals, we waste far too much food.

  .Health & Wellness.

10 Things I Wish Every Woman Knew About Health via Mind Body Green

This is a good list…

.Body Image & Mental Health.

Covering Up With The Hijab May Aid Women’s Body Image via NPR

I meant to share this last week when I first read it. I think there’s a good point to be made about how women who challenge society’s “conventional” view of beauty tend to have higher self-esteem and more respect for their bodies, but I think any causal tie to the hijab is jumping to conclusions. I’m glad the article mentions that these “results” are unique to Britain and may not be the same in places where a full burqa is required or prohibited. It’s interesting, though, and I’m curious whether other “less conventional” communities (the Amish, for example) have similar increased body image.

Why Emotional Eating Is Often A Cry For Pleasure via Mind Body Green

I think there’s some truth to this. I know sometimes when I’m stressed and simply needing down time or a minute to relax and process whatever is on my mind, I turn to food or candy. After the fact, though, I usually don’t feel any better until I address what really is bothering me.

 .Fitness.

4 Great Stretches To Losen Up Your Hamstrings via Mind Body Green

I need to make these a daily practice; my hamstrings are always tight!

.Pregnancy & Parenting.

10 Tips for Balancing Exercise With A New Baby via Carrots N Cake

These are great tips! I will certainly keep them in mind for the next few months (after my recovery, of course)—and I especially love the idea of taking family walks (involving Iggy and Mark!) so we all get some fresh air and exercise. I may not get back to Bikram or Barre as early as I’d like to (due to time and cost), but I have a feeling there will be a lot of dancing around with Baby M and impromptu “workouts” around the house. Babies make excellent weights, haha.

Pregnancy: Week 37

Hi there! I’ve been a terrible blogger this week, but I did manage to put together my 37 week update. It’s getting close!

Side note: I might post the last (couple? few?) updates a bit earlier in the week since by Friday I’m actually X weeks + 4 days. Plus if you go by my LMP instead of my ultrasound, then I reached 38 weeks yesterday. I’m leaning toward the later date, though, since it’s what my doctor has followed since March, it’s what I’m measuring, and because my cycle is generally longer/more irregular than “normal.”

This week has been good, but long! The last couple of weeks the exhaustion started hitting me on Friday, but this week it had caught up to me on Thursday. I still feel decent, though, just generally uncomfortable, slow, and awkward. The cooler weather has been a life saver!

I had my 37 week appointment this afternoon. I’m not going to share measurements or numbers (too paranoid that somebody may feel the need to share that labor is impending or something), but I am progressing. My doctor even said that I’m progressing better than most, though she didn’t sound concerned about me going early. I think all of the walking I do has helped move things along. I’m confident that Baby M is cozy in there. She also informed me my Strep B test was negative. Woot! After the appointment I met the other doctors. One of them was warmer and friendlier than the other, so if I do go into labor while my doctor is on vacation, I hope the one who made me feel more comfortable is on call.

Anyway, enough blabbering. I think it’s time to move on to the update.

37-week-bump

What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • He is considered “term” or “early term,” but 39-40 weeks is still optimal and considered “full term.” Spending these next 2 weeks or so in the womb allows his lungs and brain to fully mature.
  • He weighs around 6 pounds and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel—about the size of a bunch of Swiss chard!
  • Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Baby M’s will be light, dark, or anything more than a little peach fuzz.

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

Per the nurse, 31 pounds (same as last week)

Workouts:

Same old, same old. Barre class Tuesday night was awesome (and I might try going back next week!) and with the cooler temperatures this week, I was able to take longer walks on my lunch break. Other than that, I just want to rest!

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Gassiness (sorry, but it’s true)
  • Pelvic pressure (mostly after I’ve been sitting at my desk a while)
  • Stuffy nose
  • Minimal lower back pain, but it’s there sometimes
  • A few Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Clumsiness

Food Aversions:

Nothing really

Food Cravings:

Much of the same. Back to loving unhealthy, carb-filled things!

Sleep:

It’s been ok. I fall asleep quickly but still wake up around 2 AM (last night it was 4 AM) to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I go back to sleep easily, other days (last night) I toss and turn.

Stretch Marks?

Still looking good!

Wedding rings—on or off?

On, but snug. If it warms back up into the 90s again, I may not be able to keep them on. We’ll see.

Belly button—in or out?

Flat—sometimes the edges stick out, but not enough to see through my clothes

Signs of labor?

Nope (although as mentioned above, I’m progressing well)

Happy or moody?

I’ve been extremely cranky most of this week, although little things will make me smile and send me back into a good mood. I guess it’s better to say I’m happy but easily aggravated?

Maternity Clothes?

Nothing new. I’m just wearing whatever fits well these last few weeks.

Baby Purchases:

Nothing. Apart from needing extra breast pump accessories, we’re pretty much set. Car seat is installed, diapers are stocked, and clothes/blankets are washed!

Looking forward to:

  • My last work week before I go on leave!
  • Relaxing this weekend and maybe doing some cleaning
  • Enjoying a movie, dinner, etc. as simply a couple

Miss anything?

Having energy and the coordination to bend over to pick something up without feeling like I’m dying! Yesterday I skipped making our bed and sat down on the toilet while drying my hair. The rush of getting ready in the mornings is exhausting, although I do find I feel better during the day when I get up and move every hour or so.

Basically I miss feeling like a normal (non-pregnant!) person. I’ve loved being pregnant and am grateful for having an easy time, but the discomfort and fatigue are catching up to me. I want Baby M to stay in there till at least 39 weeks, but I finally understand why women in their last month are just ready for pregnancy to be over!

Funny/Odd Moments:

This didn’t offend me but it did make me shake my head and laugh a little. You know how you generally move to the side when passing somebody down a hall or narrow passageway? Well, I was walking through the hangar to the restroom in between a ladder and something else (there were at least 4-5 feet there, it wasn’t narrow), when a person drastically scooted to the side to allow me to pass. I was thinking, “dude, I know I’m big, but I’m not that big!” It could’ve been offensive but was just plain funny.

On Wednesday afternoon, Baby M had been quiet and still since 3:00 or so. As I was getting in my car at 5:00 to go home, the song “All About That Bass” came on. I felt a sharp kick on my right side (per usual) and then felt this butt jumping up and down on my left side. It seriously made me laugh—because I guess Baby M is all about that bass, too!

Oh, and another one of the “barre babies” was born last week (I’m now the last super preggo left—there’s just one other pregnant girl there and she’s not even showing yet). Just like the last girl, this baby was out in 3 pushes and the doctor agreed that barre must be it. I’m hoping to keep the trend going!

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

No questions today—but what is your advice for these last couple of weeks?

Weekly Links 09.22.14

If anybody was wondering, today was definitely a classic case of the Mondays. Ugh. I’m counting down the minutes till October 3rd!

I’m a day late sharing my weekly reads, but this weekend was busy. Saturday was a lot of fun (although it was hot and I experienced the worst pregnancy-related foot swelling to date) at Baby L’s 1st birthday party. I’m sorely disappointed that I didn’t get to ride the whale down the inflatable water slide. Silly pregnancy. Since there’s a good chance it will still be warm post-Baby M, I think my “you have a kid now—congrats!” gift should be my very own water slide and inflatable whale. :-)

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We also got to bring home a lot of baby-related things (a swing, bouncer, etc.) to use for a while. It was like Christmas morning!

Sunday ended up being quite the day. I went to my childhood church’s “homecoming”—and it was a wee bit chaotic for me! So many people and too much stimulation for this home body! It was nice to see people that I haven’t seen in years, though, and I know my mom had a good time.

Then later we ended up at the hospital emergency room—but not for me! (Baby M is still baking in my belly for now.) My dad had back surgery a few weeks ago and has been doing really well—but we think another disc may have slipped or a fragment of bone is pressing on the nerve.  After an MRI today, they’ve set him up for another surgery tomorrow morning. It’s only a tiny incision, but keep him in your thoughts!

Anyway, things could always be worse—so as of now I’m trying to think positively and stay calm so Baby M stays in there until at least October 3rd after 5 PM!

Before I go, here are a few links that have my mouth watering and my brain ticking…

weekly links header

.Recipes.

Cauliflower Slaw via Smitten Kitchen

This looks like such a delicious side dish (heck, I’d eat it for a meal). I really need to start using cauliflower more often. It’s the sad, neglected vegetable in my household, even though it’s such a terrific base for all sorts of dishes.

Vegan Oatmeal Fudge Bars via Running With Spoons

Chocolate! These look incredibly decadent without being full of absolute garbage. I love how they’re no-bake, too.

Honeycrisp Salad with Crispy Sage and Maple Vinaigrette via How Sweet It Is

Now that they’re in (early) season, I need to get my hands—nay, mouth—on some Honeycrisp apples. They’re my absolute favorite, even if a small bag of them costs as much as my car note!

Loaded Baked Potato Skins via Edible Perspective

Oh, these look awesome. For whatever reason, I’ve never made my own potato skins! I need to get on that, now.

Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus via The Healthy Maven

This might take hummus to an unprecedented level. BNS = my favorite squash, and I can imagine how creamy this is! Yum.

.Food & Nutrition.

How To Eat Intuitively | A Guide To Mindful Eating via fannetastic food

A great guide on something that’s much easier said than done: eating intuitively. I try to eat whatever it is I feel like eating (some days, it’s a big salad, others, a greasy hamburger), but I will admit I struggle sometimes with emotional eating.

Diet Soda May Alter Our Gut Microbes And Raise The Risk Of Diabetes via NPR

This is so interesting. I generally avoid “diet” soda, unless it’s sweetened with stevia or something similar. I avoid sucralose, saccharin, etc. like the plague and would rather limit my intake of real sugar than resort to what I consider nasty chemicals. Luckily I’m satisfied drinking mostly water, juice, or unsweetened tea!

.Health & Wellness.

Americans’ Waistlines Are Expanding, And That’s Not Good Fat via NPR

Tell me about it! Just kidding. My waistline expansion is temporary, I hope!

.Body Image & Mental Health.

It’s Easier to Bash Our Body Than Embrace It via Big Man’s World

Arman offers some great perspective here. With pregnancy I’ve embraced and learned to appreciate my body more than ever, but I’m still victim to selfish body-bashing from time to time. Just remember what your body can DO.

Yoga & Acceptance via Fitting It All In

THIS. Clare says everything I wish I could say about how much I love and owe to Bikram yoga. Oh, and how did I miss that it’s National Yoga Awareness Month? I might have to jump in on this contest! :-)

.Pregnancy & Parenting.

Five Reasons I Love Being Pregnant via Mini Melbs

I love this post. I feel almost exactly the same way, and I’m so grateful to have had a pleasant pregnancy. The great news? It will only get better from here. :-)

Pregnancy: Week 36

Hi there. I’m drawing a blank with fancy introductions, so I’m jumping right in to my 36 week update. I can’t believe I have less than 4 weeks till my due date! I’m hoping and praying that Baby M arrives roughly on time and on his own.

Yesterday I had my 36-week check up where I turned in my “birth preferences” (which were deemed “very reasonable” and uncontroversial except for the point about “no artificial rupturing of membranes/breaking of water to speed up labor”) and was tested for Group B Strep (I’ll find out my results next week). My mother even came to the appointment since I wasn’t sure Mark would be there (he was) so she got to hear his little heartbeat, too.

My birthing instructor gave my email address to a girl my age who used the same doctor, had similar birth preferences, and had her baby recently, and before my appointment we talked back and forth about her experience and what I’m hoping for. In fact, my doctor’s reaction to the birthing preferences was exactly as this girl said it would be. I’m pretty confident the doctor and I are on the same page and that she respects our wishes.

And some of the best news I got was that Baby M is in the proper head-down position! Based on where I feel kicks and such, I was almost positive he wasn’t breach or transverse, but I’m a worrier and figured with everything else going so perfectly, something had to be wrong. Hopefully he stays that way and everything else goes well.

Anyway, let’s see how Baby M and I are doing this week!

36-week-update

What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • He’s still packing on the weight (about an ounce a day) and weighs almost 6 pounds (he’s about the size of a head of romaine lettuce!); he measures around 18 ½ inches long.
  • He’s shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered his body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected his skin during his nine-month amniotic bath. He swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, which will form the contents of his first bowel movement. (Still grosses me out.)
  • At the end of this week, he will be considered “early term.” Although 39-40 weeks is optimal, he would fare pretty well if he arrived between now and then.

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained: 

Per the doctor, 31 pounds.

Workouts:

I’m a little disappointed in myself for not maintaining a regular schedule like I’d intended. I still get more movement than most people, but I haven’t utilized my elliptical, DVDs, and swimming pool as I’d intended. I enjoyed barre Tuesday night and am planning to attend one or two more classes, taking it easy after that with at-home workouts/stretches and some post-work walks (if it ever cools off in the evenings).

Symptoms:

  • Lower back/pelvic pain when I’m sitting/slouching too long (more reason to move around during the day)
  • Occasional “crotch lightning”
  • Dry eyes/discomfort from my contact lenses (which is normal during pregnancy, since hormones can dry out the eyes and fluid retention can alter the shape/thickness of the cornea)
  • Heartburn (but I *think* I’ve found a remedy for it; last night I drank a spoonful of apple cider vinegar mixed into a cup of water and the heartburn didn’t bother me much during the night. It might have been coincidence, but I’m trusting that ACV is simply a miracle serum!)

Food Aversions:

None really. Raw vegetables and I are back on good terms—I’ve snacked on carrots (with a bit of ranch dressing) a few times this week.

Food Cravings:

Nothing in particular. I still love sweets and cold things, but my snacks/meals are pretty standard (if not smaller) and something I simply need and enjoy for the most part.

Sleep:

Decent. I’m still getting around 7 hours (more on weekends), waking up just a few times in the night (usually falling right back to sleep after I go to the bathroom).

Stretch Marks?

I still haven’t really noticed any. I really hope I just have good genes and I don’t get them when I start losing weight!

Wedding rings—on or off?

Still on and easily taken off at night

Belly button—in or out?

Mostly flat, though the edges stick out a bit

Signs of labor?

Nope!

Happy or moody?

Mostly happy. I get cranky from time to time, but it’s mostly due to normal catalysts like road rage, stupid people and their comments, etc.

Maternity Clothes?

Some of them are getting snug! I probably could’ve gone up a size in my black skinny pants and jeans, but as long as the seams aren’t bursting, I’m wearing them. Everything else (tops/dresses/skirts) still fits great.

Baby Purchases:

Mark exchanged a couple duplicate items and purchased our pack n’ play—which fits perfectly in our TV room next to Iggy’s crate. I also ordered my breast pump this week, which is covered through my insurance (woohoo!).

Looking forward to: 

  • Baby L’s birthday party
  • Prepping for Baby M’s arrival
  • My last day of work before maternity leave (planned for October 3rd)! I’m having trouble focusing since I have a zillion “to-do” lists running through my head every day!

Miss anything?

  • Cool weather! I can’t wait for crisp fall air so I can get strolling with Baby M once he arrives!
  • Normal clothes
  • Having all of my energy, mobility, balance, etc.

Funny/Odd Moments:

I almost freaked out Monday morning when I got out of the shower. I was drying off and looked down to see several droplets of bright red blood on the mat. Immediately I thought to myself, “Oh God—surely I’m beginning labor!” only to realize that I’d simply cut myself shaving and didn’t feel it! I guess it’s time for a new razor? ;-)

So, Tuesday night I almost skipped my barre class because of the freaking monsoon we had. I just knew I was going to be late and have to drive on flooded streets, but since it tapered off, I decided I’d still go. I’m so glad I did! Not only had class not started yet, but as I walked in, the instructor started telling me about how another class member (who just had her baby) had the best delivery. Apparently the baby was out in like 3 good pushes, and her doctor even mentioned afterward that he didn’t know what she’d been doing, but whatever it was, it worked. And of course she told him barre! That is exactly what I needed to hear! Now I just wish I’d started class in my first trimester—and had the free time to take the daytime offerings.

Somebody told me that (because I still get outside and “walk” during my break) my baby was going to come out a marathon runner! It made me smile. I hope Baby M enjoys all the movement I try to give him.

That’s it for this week. As everybody keeps telling me, it’s getting close! (Because the pregnant lady doesn’t realize that yet, haha.) Here’s hoping these last few weeks go as smoothly as the previous.

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • As far as birth preferences (if you had any), was there anything your doctor wouldn’t agree to? How did that affect your experience?
  • Any recommendations for these last few weeks?

COCOZIA Organic Coconut Water Review + A Smoothie Recipe

About a year ago I tried COCOZIA Organic Coconut Water for the first time—and loved it. Naturally, I was extremely excited to try the new 16.9-ounce containers I received recently from Epicurex LLC.

cocozia-1

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a drink guzzler. Unless it’s a snifter of brandy (lesson learned the hard way in college!) or glass of red wine, I’m not one to slowly sip my beverages. Because of this, I appreciate larger sized containers, especially after a difficult workout or day outside in the heat.

What I love most about COCOZIA is that it’s 100% natural. It contains no added sugar, artificial flavorings, or preservatives—only 100% organic (USDA certified and non-GMO verified) coconut water.

cocozia-2

If you’re new to coconut water, you may find that it’s an acquired taste. I’ve tried a few other varieties (Zico and Vita Coco, primarily) and have found that COCOZIA has the purest taste. It has a light coconut flavor and goes down very smoothly, leaving little-to-no aftertaste (unlike other brands).

Being 36 weeks pregnant and hyper-vigilant about my hydration, I’ve found that these new 16.9-ounce containers are perfect for my lunchtime walks.

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I even plan to take a couple containers to me with the hospital to drink during labor (clear liquids are permissible)—since coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes. Although COCOZIA is low-calorie, it will provide some much-needed energy (more so than plain water or IV fluids, which I hope to avoid).

COCOZIA is available on Amazon in both the 11.1-ounce and 16.9-ounce 12-packs. If you’re still on the fence about drinking plain coconut water, I’ve found it to be delicious in smoothies. Below is a simple, tropical creation that is sure to hydrate and refresh.

banana-mango-coconut-water-smoothie

Banana, Mango, and Coconut Water Smoothie

serves 1

Ingredients

  • ½ large frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup COCOZIA coconut water
  • milk of choice (coconut is a no-brainer, but I used almond) for desired consistency

 Directions

  1. Add the frozen banana, mango, and coconut water to the canister of a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
  2. If smoothie is too thick, add a splash of milk to achieve desired consistency, and blend to combine.
  3. Serve immediately and top with shredded coconut, if desired.

banana-mango-coconut-smoothie

**I received free samples of COCOZIA® Organic Coconut Water to review on my blog. I was not compensated for this blog post, and all opinions are my own.**

Pregnancy Weight Gain + Postpartum Plans

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Today I want to talk about pregnancy weight gain and my postpartum plans (or lack thereof?).

At 36 weeks, I’ve already gained over 30 pounds, which is more than many healthy, average-weight women gain total. At the end of pregnancy, I will weigh more than my husband.

Miele19

It would be easy to become alarmed at that fact, but I’m 100% ok with it. My doctor tells me each visit that my weight gain and vitals are great, which is reassuring.

Maybe it’s due to having an easy pregnancy, no skin issues, and a majority of my weight gain in my belly and breasts, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt more confident physically than I have these last several months.

It could also be due in part to the compliments and attention I receive, but I doubt that is the case. I look in the mirror and, though it was discouraging in those first few weeks when I was pudgy and full of “food baby” instead of actual baby, I am amazed at the changes my body has gone through.

Do I have more cellulite? Absolutely. Has that dreaded armpit fat vanished? Definitely not (it’s more abundant). But in addition to those changes, my body has become stronger. By working out (sometimes!), my arms, legs, shoulders, etc. have more strength. The muscle tone may not be evident due to baby weight, but I can feel it.

Birth-Barbara-Katz-Rothman-420x420

[source]

Though it’s difficult to roll over, get up from the floor, or simply walk up the stairs, I think it’s awesome that my little body can safely carry around approximately 27% more weight than it previously did!

I know actual labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and dealing with wacked out hormones will cause even more physical changes—some of them not so pretty—but I hope I can maintain this same confidence after Baby M is born.

Since I plan on breastfeeding, I think much of the weight will drop quickly. Nevertheless, I know that I’m in no hurry to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, after looking at earlier photos and pondering the numbers, I think it would benefit me to keep around 5 pounds (maybe even 10?).

The competitor in me wants to tell people, “Yes, it only took me X months to reach my pre-pregnancy weight,” but I know that kind of attitude is unhealthy. Not only is the mentality dangerous, but the actual weight may not be right for me, especially since there will be new demands on my body.

scale

[source]

Do I want to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes? Yes (some of them are practically new!). Do I want to tone up my body? Of course. But I don’t think I’m going to do any kind of measuring or weighing. Tracking numbers week-to-week or month-to-month just sounds exhausting.

For some people, tracking may be exactly what they need to do, but for myself, I fear it would lead to critical and obsessed thoughts, as if I was on some kind of timeline. The only goal I’ve set for myself is to run the Azalea Trail Run 10K in March, which would be about 5 ½ months after delivery and completely doable.

It’s entirely possible my postpartum goals may change once I’m at that point, but until then, I’m not going to worry. I’ll eat right, stay active, and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle while ensuring Baby M is healthy and happy. That’s all I really can do.

Pregnancy: Week 35

Hi, there! Just like that, we’re at 35 (and ½) weeks. Last night we had our final childbirth education class; this one was on breastfeeding and newborn care. As much as I’d have liked to meet other couples at the hospital classes, I’m glad things worked out the way they did. The instructor is really nice, and I’m sure we’ll keep in contact in the next few weeks and after Baby M is born.

On Tuesday, I promised a story about my near-panic attack in the benefits office, so here it is.

Several months ago, I emailed our benefits administrator to find out the standard maternity leave process. She did a great job of explaining the protocol and clearing up any misunderstandings I had from the handbook.

Well, flash forward to last week, when I learned that she and her assistant were gone. They’d been replaced by 2 new women, so I figured I’d better talk to one of them sooner rather than later.

Perhaps I was unclear when telling her what I knew already (something about how I worded “FMLA leave” and “being paid”), but she nonchalantly stated my leave would be unpaid.

My jaw dropped and my heart started racing!

I argued that, no, 6 weeks of my leave is 100% paid and that I needed a # to file my claim (maternity leave at my company is covered under short-term disability).

She just kind of thought out loud, confused, saying she wasn’t sure. Luckily, as I grew more and more panicked (and angry), she vowed to resolve this and told me not to leave. Luckily, she figured it all out and gave me the forms I need.

I know that it’s not her fault for being inadequately trained, but the way she said all of this was incredibly frustrating. I apologized for reacting how I did and we kind of laughed before I left, especially after she mentioned that she could understand how I would feel panicked. I told her I was fine being the guinea pig if it meant that the next person wouldn’t have to go through the shock and horror I did. All is well now, and calling to initiate my claim was the easiest thing ever.

With that out of the way, let’s see how Baby M and I are progressing this week!

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What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • Baby M is over 18 inches long and weighs around 5 ¼ pounds (about the size of a honeydew melon)
  • Due to his size, he isn’t likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same.
  • His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products.
  • Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained: 

According to the gym’s scale, 30 pounds

Workouts: 

Walking as much as I can (but staying out of direct sunlight) and my Tuesday night barre class.

Symptoms: 

  • peeing often—duh?
  • a tiny bit of pelvic pressure, but nothing major, and lower back pain
  • a tiny bit of sciatic pain (I think?)
  • heartburn
  • stuffy nose
  • fewer leg cramps (which is nice!)
  • some minor foot swelling last Friday evening (that went away quickly after I elevated my feet in the recliner)

Food Aversions:

None, really

Food Cravings:

I’m neither excited about nor averse to food. I eat whatever is available. I still enjoy cold things, though, and fruit, sweets, etc.

Sleep:

Mostly good. I still fight to get comfortable and am getting up once a night to use the bathroom, but I usually go back to sleep quickly.

Stretch Marks?

Still haven’t noticed any

Wedding rings—on or off?

On, but a little bit snug

Belly button—in or out?

Flat (and so weird looking!)

Signs of labor?

Nope—thank goodness!

Happy or moody?

Happy, although I’m slightly paranoid and incredibly aggravated at people’s comments about my belly!

Maternity Clothes?

Should I remove this question? Yes, I’m still wearing them; no, I don’t plan to buy anymore.

Baby Purchases:

Nothing—our shower is this week so I’m super excited!

Looking forward to:

  • our baby shower
  • our good friends’ baby’s 1st birthday party next weekend
  • my doctor visit next Thursday (not that I enjoy going to the doctor, but I’m anxious to know how I’m progressing, especially since every John and Sally I talk to is an expert on my body now)

Miss anything?

  • The lack of paranoia every time somebody comments about how I look!
  • Being comfortable and having energy—the usual that comes around this time in everybody’s pregnancy, I imagine
  • SUSHI AND BEER AND WINE!!!

Best/Worst Moments:

Oh, so many!

Let me first say that I do realize that most people are being kind, friendly, and curious when they make a comment or ask a question about my pregnancy/bump. Likewise, I realize that pregnant women will always elicit reactions/commentary simply by virtue of being pregnant; we’re curious people, and we’re fascinated by new life. It’s actually kind of awesome when you think about it.

On the other hand, though, I’m feeling really paranoid due to the several comments I’ve received this week concerning the appearance of my bump, the replies of “are you sure you’ll make it that long?” or “I think he might come early” or “be careful, he’s coming.”

I was on the verge of tears a couple of times because of these comments. I know they meant no harm, but what makes them experts on my body? Why do they insinuate that DELIVERING 5 WEEKS EARLY would be a perfectly normal and good thing?

I *think* I feel a few changes that come in the last month of pregnancy such as: my belly does feel a bit lower (especially when sitting) but not extremely so; I feel minimal pelvic pressure, but nothing like “oh my god, he’s going to fall out!;” my bowel movements (TMI—sorry) are a little slower/less frequent; my heartburn isn’t quite as bad/frequent as the last month or so; and I’m sure there are a few more.

On the other hand, though, I can’t tell if half of these “symptoms” are in my head because of the comments I’ve received or if they’re real. I do know that I haven’t shown any warning signs like loss of amniotic fluid, a color change or increase in discharge, or contractions. I still feel fairly comfortable (as much as one can after gaining 30 pounds and being 35 ½ weeks pregnant), and I really, really, really want Baby M to continue baking till he’s full-term (39 or 40 weeks).

I realize that a pregnancy can be going perfectly and then change suddenly, but I honestly just want to see my doctor and have her reassure me that all is fine or confirm whether I should be more careful/expect to go early.

Anyway, I guess that’s it for this week. Here’s hoping things continue to go well and that Baby M bakes as long as he needs to.

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • How did you deal with the “suddenly-a-medical-expert” type of commentary?
  • I’m venturing into TMI territory again, but what are your thoughts on perineal massage? Did you do it and did it help at all?
  • What are your thoughts on paid maternity (and/or paternity) leave?

Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Usually I’m a careful person, but ever since my childhood years, I’ve thrown caution to the wind when it involves raw cookie dough or cake batter. Yes, I know that raw eggs can contain salmonella and should be avoided, but there’s something wrong with baking a cake or a batch of cookies without sampling the dough/batter beforehand.

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Now that I’m pregnant, though, I take special care to avoid raw or undercooked foods. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean I have to give up my beloved cookie dough! We’ve all seen countless vegan or egg-free raw cookie dough recipes over the years, and I’m sharing another one today.

These can be gluten free (if you use certified GF oats), and depending on the liquid sweetener and type of chocolate chips you use, they can also be vegan. They’re also pretty healthy.

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Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

yields 16 small balls

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • ¼ cup liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp smooth almond butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions 

  1. In a high-speed blender (I used the Magic Bullet), blend the oats until finely ground. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground oats, almond meal, flax, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sweetener, nut butter, oil, and vanilla; microwave for about 20-30 seconds until easily stirred together (and any solid oil is melted).
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture, stirring until a dough forms (you may need to use your hands to ensure everything is well-mixed). Fold in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  5. Roll the dough into small balls (I go for 1-inch); place the finished balls (in a single layer) onto a plate or into a freezer-safe container.
  6. Freeze for about 10 minutes until firm; bites can then be stored in the freezer in a freezer bag or in the refrigerator.

[adapted from Angela Liddon's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, page 235 of The Oh She Glows Cookbook]

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I know I make a lot of these, but these are great to keep at work for a healthy snack or bit of energy. They can easily be packed in lunches and are good at holding me over in the afternoons before dinner.

Summer Highlights + Looking Forward to Fall

I’m beyond glad that today is Tuesday. Yesterday was one of those Mondays I just did not want to get out of bed—and then it all went downhill once I got to work. I’ll save the story for Friday’s pregnancy update, but let’s just say our new benefits administrator nearly sent me into pre-term labor and/or cardiac arrest by being oblivious about our maternity/short-term disability leave. All I can say is I’m glad I spoke to the previous administrator back in May and have thoroughly read our employee handbook!

Moving on to something more positive, would you believe me if I told you I have an actual food-related, recipe post to share with you later this week? It’s another snack, but it’s relatively healthy, easy to make, and quite portable.

Until then, I’m jumping back into the September Blogging Challenge.

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#5: Top 5 Highlights from Summer

Our “baby-moon” to Memphis

Our last real vacation was early 2013 (Clearwater and Disney World/Universal Studios), so getting away for a week in July was just what we needed! We lucked out with the weather (it was hot, but not unbearably so) and enjoyed getting to know downtown, visiting the zoo, and seeing Mark’s parents on the way there and back.

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Discovering barre

As much as I love(d) Bikram, I’ve come to accept that I might not be able to return as quickly as I like postpartum. It’s expensive, and while the benefits are worth it, that $100 will probably be better spent on diapers! I am, however, glad that I joined the fitness center at the hospital and my love for barre. Although it’s not quite the same, barre class does leave me with that sense of accomplishment and relaxation that hot yoga did.

Finishing Baby M’s nursery

Although we technically still need a book shelf for the corner, the nursery is pretty much complete. It was a lot of work, but I think we did a great job. Finishing fairly early means we can focus on other baby-related things in these last few weeks.

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Breaking down walls

Not literally—I’m talking about mental walls. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, taking charge of certain things I’d normally just accept, and opening up to people. I’ve talked about it before, but I just feel like I’ve grown a lot (and not just in the abdomen!) this summer. It feels good.

Accomplishing things at work

Not that busting my butt for most of the summer was enjoyable, but I do feel proud and accomplished for powering through a busy time. Thankfully my health has been good and my pregnancy has been easy, otherwise the never-ending paperwork, occasional late evenings, and back-and-forth between offices would have been killer.

#6: 6 Things About Fall I’m Looking Forward To…

Baby M’s arrival

I have no idea how I’m going to take care of a human being (!!!) but I’m so ready to meet the little guy who keeps poking me in the side and burrowing into my bladder.

Cool Weather + Colorful Foliage

This is a given, but I’m especially looking forward to cool weather so that I can get outside with Baby M for some exercise, fresh air, and time outside of the house! After surviving a summer pregnancy, I feel like this will be the best way to lose some baby weight and get back into shape!

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Baking

While I may not have a lot of time for baking with a newborn, fall-inspired baked goods are my favorite. Like every blogger, I’m obsessed with pumpkin, and warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves make a home smell like heaven.

The clothes

While it may be closer to winter before I fit into my skinny jeans, I’m so looking forward to fall fashions: sweaters, boots, scarves, etc. Airy, lightweight maternity dresses have been a lifesaver this summer, but I miss regular clothes, especially cool-weather ones.

Football season

With a new baby we won’t be making any trips to the Dome this year, but we can still watch football on TV.

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Seasonal beer

I sound so pathetic since my life seems to revolve around food and beverage, but I cannot wait for that first sip of pumpkin beer! I’ll still have to wait a while to figure out Baby M’s feeding schedule before I enjoy more than a sip or two, but I’m dreaming about all the delicious seasonal brews I see in stores right now.

Questions for you

  • What was the highlight of your summer?
  • What are you looking forward to most about fall?