Friday, November 21, 2014

Dairy and Soy Free Thanksgiving!

My favorite holiday is coming. Now, I'm a Christmas NUT. Seriously. Watching the Rockefeller tree lighting is like a religion to me. But there is something special about Thanksgiving. Things like running my beloved  Manchester Road Race, eating delicious food, and spending time with family around desserts and coffee (mmmmm pie) make it a fantastic day. The best part is that it kicks off Christmas for me. I try SO hard to not listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, so Thanksgiving also kicks off my favorite music season as well!

I seriously love all Charlie Brown holiday movies. Source

This year's Thanksgiving comes with some challenges. Since I am dairy and soy free for Henry, several Thanksgiving favorites are completely off limits for me. I did some research and found some great substitutes! Here are some recipes that will I will be making this Thanksgiving:

Coconut oil pie crust. My mom has always made her own pie crust, but the shortening in it most likely has soy. I will be making my own version in little mini pans! Surprisingly, blueberry and cherry pie filling from the can are soy free! I can also have apple pie, which my mom has frozen apples from the orchard ready to be baked.
Coconut Oil Pie Crust

Basic Vegan Stuffing. I'm excited to try this one out, since I L-O-V-E stuffing! Smart Balance Better Butter is dairy AND soy free, so I will be using that here. Also, I was told by Kim that Trader Joe's vegetable broth is soy free, so I will be picking this up to use in it.

Italian Salad Dressing. Seriously, there are no soy free dressings in my life. I have been lazy and using EVOO and red wine vinegar daily. I'm excited to try out this dressing. Does anyone remember those packets? You had oil and vinegar in that glass dressing bottle? That was the best. I hope this tastes similar!!!

Now, here are a few things that are A-O-KAY for me to have on Thanksgiving:
- Mashed Potatoes (With almond milk and Smart Balance butter)
- Turkey (We will be having a butter soaked over cooked one as well as a fried one so I will be able to try the fried one. I'm nervous. We've never done it!)
- Butternut Squash
- Jello mold (It's amazing: apples, walnuts, cranberries, mmmm)
- Bacon brussel sprouts. This will be my contribution!!!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

How about you? What are your go to Thanksgiving favorites? Do you have any unique food dishes with your family? WHO IS RUNNING A TURKEY TROT?! Tell me about it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lots of thoughts about weight loss

As I said to a friend recently: ish is hard. There are several things that make it hard. These factors  aren't exclusive to postpartum moms, but to everyone in a weight loss journey. I've been chewing on some thoughts about this recently, about why this process can be so arduous. Here's what I have come up with.

The Challenges of Weight Loss

The highs and lows. Oh. My. Gosh. THE SCALE MOVED! I'm definitely not married to the scale, but seeing a different number definitely feels like concrete proof that what I have been doing is working. This is a high, an inspiration to keep going. However, in my journey, I have continually followed high highs with lows. I'll feel fantastic, get my workouts in, eat a great balance of proteins and vegetables, and saw results. Then I don't. For a while. Which leads to the next challenge....

I had SO much fun at this Nike event! I haven't done a real workout since. 

Weight loss stall. Oh man, if this could be avoided, EVERYONE would nail their weight loss goals! I honestly have lost five pounds following my initial "baby came out" weight loss. Five pounds in five months. I've revolutionized my eating habits for my son, I don't eat anything processed (Is Cinnamon life processed? Well, if it is, then I eat that.), and I have been fairly active. Although I do have my fair share of wine (Hello Friday night viewing of Scandal, got to assimilate with Olivia to really get into it), my diet is healthy. I wish my activity was increased, which leads to my next challenge....

Henry be like "Weight loss stall? Not for me!" Babies are applauded for eating and gaining weight. They live the dream.

Exercise stall. You've probably been there during a comeback: You're on a fantastic streak, your push-ups are up to ten in a row, and you're finally excited about your daily sweat session. I was on SUCH a streak: getting in plyo, feeling stronger, and going on some short runs. Despite breaking my pinky toe the first day I ran a mile (I stubbed it that night...because, why not?!), I was feeling great. Until I suddenly didn't. I have worked through some pretty painful tendinitis in my wrist, keeping me from any and all upper body exercise. Then my foot with the pinky toe started hurting. I'm on my third week of rest for that and I have seen zero improvement, hence my appointment today to get it checked out. I didn't even bring my running sneakers to Connecticut this weekend. Who am I?
We ran a mile two weeks ago. Hokas made it pain free, but I can't ignore the discomfort I feel when walking barefoot. 

Social media. Now, you can take it or leave it. I'm usually not that crazy about social media comparisons etc, but when you're in the middle of a struggle, it can cause you to struggle even more. Dorothy candidly wrote about it here, and I have to agree. You can be having a day where you are teetering on discouragement, and suddenly someone posts a picture that causes self doubt in you. I wrote here about my stomach hiding Instagram faux pas: I'm not trying to hide my weight. Do I dress so that I'm not spilling out of my pants? Absolutely. I try to post real life Instagram photos without being negative (Because if I want to post negative crap, I can go on Facebook like the rest of the world). It's hard to see people at their best when you are not even close to your best. This is the antithesis of helpful:

There was a great dialogue about this tweet. I don't hate on thin ladies, they have their body and I have mine. I don't think this is inspirational compared to a strong everyday athlete who isn't paid to be in pictures. Related: I'm pretty sure sports bras are not allowed on golf courses per dress codes.... #reallife

So, how do you break through these challenges? That's what I'm navigating currently. Here is what has helped so far:

1. Manage expectations. I am slowly moving from "I need to lose the weight" to "Today I will do everything in my power to be healthy". THOSE actions and results are within my control.

2. Change up exercise and eating habits. Although I have definitely done the eating thing, I will continue to see what works. Instead of eating a few a couple of bites of coconut ice cream each night, I reserve the treat for one or two nights a week. Pending my foot status I will be building up my workouts again (Changing it up from none to some!)

3. Clean up social media. I stopped following some people that were bugging me. We all have people that bother us. It's okay to unfollow. If it's adding annoyance to your day, click the unfollow button and move on! It's actually very freeing. 

How about you? Have you ever struggled with weight loss? What do you do to bounce back after setbacks? Are you jealous of baby's lives of luxury? Hahaha TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dairy and Soy Elimination Diet: Part II

Here's the latest and greatest from the land free of soy and dairy:

We got a Costco membership! We usually tag along with friends to Costco, but when Living Social had a deal we snatched it up. Costco has really good produce prices, so we stocked up this weekend. Although a ton of the things I love to get at Costco contain soy or dairy (my favorite veggie burgers, garlic brown rice/quinoa packs, ANNIE'S MAC AND CHEESE etc), we were able to find some great items to add to our pantry and produce selections. Here are some ideas for what to make if you are living soy and dairy free!

 T-B, L-R: French Bread with veggie eggs and avocado. Slow cooker BBQ pulled pork with vinegar slaw. Taco Salad with ground turkey (Still looking for a taco seasoning without soy! Will need to make my own!) Slow cooker cilantro pulled pork with lime rice.
 T-B, L-R: Pumpkin Oatmeal. Grilled pork tenderloin (we marinated it in EVOO, salt and pepper) and brussel sprouts with roasted butternut squash. Veggie egg sandwich on sourdough with homemade sweet potato hash (Roasted with EVOO and Mrs. Dash Garlic and herb seasoning) Reused pork for a honey mustard pork sandwich with roasted asparagus and a bake sweet potato.

Remember how I said there were several names for soy? Well, I thought I was being vigilant, but Henry would have good days and bad days with his spitting up. I kept wracking my brain thinking "WHAT DID I EAT THAT COULD HAVE HAD SOY OR DAIRY?!" Well, remember that coconut ice cream that I loved? Turns out it has guar gum in it, which could be derived from soy. Not only did that have guar gum,but so did the honey mustard I had been making salad dressing! I felt horrible. The second I stopped eating those two items, his spitting up became minimal. You live, you learn, you eliminate. Thankfully Coconut Bliss coconut ice cream seems to be okay on Henry's stomach, so I will continue to cherish that treat once in a while. 

I have slowly been eating out. I didn't eat out (Except Chipotle, who has EXCELLENT ingredients lists and allergen resources on their website!) because I was scared to cross contaminate. Now, I'm getting bolder. I used to work in the restaurant industry, and I know how seriously I had to take someone's allergy order...I just didn't expect others to take it as seriously. Well, I have been pleasantly surprised! I have eaten out at Brooklyn Bagel, Panera, Bareburger and a Greek restaurant out in Long Island, and ALL were over the top helpful when it came to providing me with dairy and soy free options. While I do miss the ability to order a pizza or grab sushi, this has made me a more creative cook.

Speaking of being a creative cook: Thanksgiving. Yup. The holidays are coming, and I will not be able to eat most of the food. Thankfully my mom is a great cook and will do what she can to accommodate me. However, I will be going to CT early to spend time with family, providing me time to make my own Thanksgiving-ish food. Stay tuned: we will see how pie, mashed potatoes and stuffing is when it's soy and dairy free! Gobble gobble.

How about you? Do you host Thanksgiving? Have you ever cooked for someone with a food allergy? Do you shy away or boldly make special requests at restaurants? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Henry: Five Months

We're almost to Henry's half birthday! I don't usually celebrate that kind of stuff but sheesh, it's my first kid and he's a big boy! This month has been so much fun. Henry is revealing his personality more and more everyday, and he's a pretty fun guy! Here are some highlights from this month:

  • Henry continues to grow and now weighs 15lbs 12oz. Oy he's heavy sometimes.
  • HE LAUGHS AT ME NOW. I get about one laugh a day, and it's the best part of my day for sure.
  • Still no teeth, but sure signs of them coming are ever present: massive amounts of drool, gnawing on everything, especially his hands, and being just a bit crankier than usual.
  • Henry entered sleeping through the night and it is glorious. On the night before my birthday he slept from 8pm-7am without waking up. HAPPY.BIRTHDAY.TO.ME! Alas, the time change threw a wrench in his/my sweet spot of sleep, so we're back to 4am prayers of desperation rocking and soothing. I'm thankful for the sleep I get, I still shutter thinking about the early days.
  • We ran our first stroller race as a family! Henry BOB'ed it around Roosevelt Island with us for a 5k on my birthday and we had a lot of fun.
  • Henry went to the Today Show for Halloween as a lion! He appeared on their Twitter and Instagram page. Like a boss.
  • Puppy brother...oh puppy brother. What am I going to do with Lambeau!? He faked me out by being gentle, licking Henry, and letting Henry touch him. This resulted in Henry grabbing a large chunk of Lambeau's hair, which I calmly  quickly freed. Lambeau didn't freak out....because he snatched Sophie and tried to run away. It was all his master plan to get the squeaky giraffe. He's on a bad streak this week. Naughty puppy!
  • Henry is eating rice cereal like a pro. Sometimes he gets a lot down, and at other times he spits it out. Eh, I don't care, it's not his main source of food anyway. It's just teaching him how to handle something other than liquid in his mouth. 
  • He is SO close to rolling over. Part of me wants him to do it, but the other part of me does not. Once it starts you can never go back. Wahhhhhh.
  • He is very contemplative when we take walks, and he watches everyone in the apartment. Feeding him can be challenging because he is getting distracted (Re: Lambeau barking and whining).
Overall, we're really enjoying our time with him. He's a cool little man, so happy go lucky. He makes us laugh constantly and loves interacting with people. He doesn't seem to get scared of people or nervous when I'm not around, he just chills (Although I hear six months is when THAT fun stage starts!). We continue to count our blessings that we get to be his parents.

Happy Five Months Little Lion Man!
I have tripped over that darn rubber blue bone so many times it's ridiculous. It's a miracle I haven't broken something because of it.

Feel free to check out my articles on SmartMom! 
- Kids Doing Chores: A Great Lesson in Discipline
- The Importance of Extracurricular Activities in School
- The Truth About Girls and Math

Monday, November 3, 2014

November is a Great Gear Month

First of all: HUGE CONGRATS TO ALL YOU NYC MARATHONERS!!! And for that matter, all you fall marathoners. You're giving this runner the itch. Stay tuned and see if it gets scratched! 

The Queensboro climb. 

I love November. October is fantastic because you get those crisp mornings and warm afternoons. I felt like October was warmer than September this year! I love November because (usually) the second the calendar switches to this month, it becomes fully fall with cold mornings. With that colder weather comes layers, thumb holes and leggings...or rather compression socks and shorts these days.. Yes to all of it. I have been waiting to try out some gear from Fit Blog NYC, and this morning was the perfect opportunity! Here are a couple of my latest items I've been layering up with.

Eddie Bauer Incendiary 1/4 Zip Pullover  I was so excited to try out this shirt. I worked for Eddie Bauer for five years, and I know their items are always quality. Though their casual clothing isn't my style, their outerwear never disappoints (I still wear a jacket that I purchased nine years ago, and it keeps me toasty in the worst cold). This was a great top! Since it helps with staying warm I haven't had the right moment to try it until now. I decided to go with just the shirt, no tank underneath, and it was great! I didn't feel cold despite it being 46 degrees and staying in the shade (Henry hates the sun in his eyes!) It has great thumb holes too. The only thing I wish it had was a storage pocket.
Look! A bear! He's so cute.

"Clifton" shoe by Hoka. I was SO stoked when we were gifted these at Fit Blog NYC! Stephanie is a huge fan, as well as my sister (Who is running a 50 miler this weekend! EEK!). If I had gone through their site and chosen a shoe that I would get, it would have been this model. I took them out for a spin this morning, and they are crazy! SUPER light, like WAY lighter than my cross training minimalist shoes, and really supportive where they need to be. I felt that my feet were comfortably falling correctly on the pavement, like my mid sole strike was spot on! Sadly, this love affair only lasted a mile, as the bear decided to be grumpy, and we don't keep grumpy bears out. I'm excited to try them out again, but so far, I think these could be a great solution for my sore foot.
Lambeau was in his basket for the run. He hasn't made a blog appearance in a while. He has willingly licked his brother a handful of times. Progress from completely ignoring him!

Head Digital Sport Running Gloves. Alright, I'm a Costco lover! These were not gifted to me, and I feel like they were a fantastic find. Mr. Miller and I each purchased a pair from Costco for around $12 and they were 100% worth it! First of all, they carried women's size extra small. My hands are super small, like child sized small. These gloves actually fit my hands, allowing me to use my iPhone while wearing them! My finger doesn't go all the way to the end of the slot (Re: mini hands), but my iPhone still picks up the sensor and allows me to push buttons easily. They also have grips on the palm side, allowing me to use them for driving as well. Yup, I love gloves, and these were a great find! (In case you didn't know I love winter running, and getting all bundled up and running in the cold is my favorite.)

How about you? What are your latest and greatest gear finds? Do you loathe the cold? Have you found gloves that ACTUALLY efficiently work with your smart phone? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Disclaimer: I received the Eddie Bauer shirt and Hoka shoes while attending Fitness Magazine's Fit Blog NYC. I was not compensated for writing this, all opinions are my own.