beachbody · Meal Prep · postpartum · Recipes · self care · Ultimate Portion Fix

Ultimate Portion Fix – Plan C Meal Plan (with container counts)

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I just completed my 21 days of Ultimate Portion Fix (UPF) partnered with the 21DF Extreme workouts, and I’m hooked! I feel so much better and healthier. I haven’t been perfect in terms of sticking to the eating plan, but I have cleaned up my eating significantly and cut way back on processed food. I’m so glad to be back in the swing of Beach Body programs again, and back in my fit life.

Here are my results from the first 21 days:

  • Starting Point, 5 weeks Postpartum:
    • Waist: 34.7″, Hips: 36.5″
  • Mid-point, 6.5 weeks Postpartum:
    • Waist: 32.5″, Hips: 34.5″
  • “End” Point, 8 weeks Postpartum:
    • Waist 32″, Hips: 34.5″
  • Weight: Lost 3lbs (but feel much more toned, added muscle)

I’m happy with the inches lost around my midsection, but more so I’m happy with how I feel – I feel healthier, stronger and determined to continue!

Now, I’m planning to continue with the Ultimate Portion Fix eating plan but move on to other workouts, I’m not sure which workout program I’ll tackle next, but this week I’m going to just do a variety from different trainers all on Beachbody on Demand. Monday I did the ‘Obsessed with Fix’ and it was an awesome workout, Tuesday I did T25 Cardio and it was killer!

Now, back to the meal plan. I really wanted to streamline this week, since I only have a couple weeks before I have to go back to work! I will have very little time to plan, prep and cook meals at that point – so I’m getting back into that mode. Rather than picking recipes to make, I just went for staples.

Here’s the food I bought for each of the container categories this week, and this will feed myself, my husband and our 2 yo for the week (and technically my baby girl too since she is nursing).

  • Red Container (Protein)
    • Eggs
    • Siggis Yogurt (low in sugar, high in protein!)
    • Orgain PB Protein Powder
    • Turkey Bacon
    • Ground Turkey
    • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
    • Ricotta Cheese
    • Whole Chicken
    • Tonnino Tuna – yes this tuna is expensive, and yes it is worth it! I stock up whenever I find it on sale
  • Purple Container (Fruits)
    • Mandarin Oranges
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Bananas
    • Apples
    • Lemon and Lime
  • Green Container (Veggies) – this list is the longest because we’ll eat more veggies than anything else!
    • Brussel Sprouts
    • Asparagus
    • Broccoli
    • Cucumber
    • Golden Beets
    • Bell Pepper
    • Bok Choy
    • Radish
    • Celery
    • Carrot
    • Spaghetti Squash
    • Red Onion
    • Cherry Tomatoes
    • Tomato Sauce (not pictured)
  • Blue and Orange Containers and Teaspoons (Healthy Fats)
    • Blue:
      • Feta
      • Almonds
      • Walnuts
      • Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
    • Orange:
      • Olive Oil (to make healthy salad dressings) – can also be used as teaspoon for cooking
    • Teaspoon:
      • Fresh Ground Peanut Butter
      • Butter (not pictured)
  • Yellow Container (Healthy Carbs)
    • Sweet Potato
    • Oats
    • 16 Grain Bread
    • Quinoa
    • Whole Wheat English Muffins

I am the only one in my house who eats wheat bread, my husband and son go for white bread and pasta. So I freeze at least half of the bread and english muffins when I get home from the store – they freeze really well and this way I don’t waste any!

My prep plan of attack –

  • Saturday:
    • Chopped a bunch of veggies (radish, cucumber, celery, carrots, pepper, sliced red onion)
    • Prepped Broccoli Salads
    • Prepared Orange Chicken marinade (see recipe below) on Saturday.
  • Sunday:
    • Roasted beets, sweet potato and spaghetti squash

Since I’m still on maternity leave, I didn’t actually grill the chicken thighs until Monday, but you could easily cook these Sunday along with the ground turkey to be able to throw dinner together quickly Monday and Tuesday!

This week I used jarred tomato sauce (ok if you buy a brand with no sugar added and basically veggie only ingredients) but Fixate has a great recipe for Quick Marinara that you could make to be 100% clean.

For the whole chicken, I suggest cooking it Wednesday (as I did). You can make this in a slow cooker, instant pot, or roast in the over depending on what works best for you (and how much time you have available) so there’s not a big reason to cook days ahead.

Here’s this week’s meal plan (and container counts) with a few recipes and tips below!

Reach out via comments if you want to learn more about Ultimate Portion Fix or to start your fitness journey today!

Plan C Meal Plan

Some of the week’s highlights so far:

Orange Chicken Thighs

This recipe is from Little Broken Blog, and super easy to make. The only change I made was to substitute Coconut Aminos for the Soy Sauce to get that same umami taste without any soy. It happened to rain the day I made this, so I broke out my handy indoor grill (great for food prepping in New England given the unfriendly weather!)

Veggie Packed Tuna Salad

Veggie Packed Tuna Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 radish, diced
pickles or cornichons (optional) diced
1 jar tuna with 1 tsp packed oil
1 tsp mustard
salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
After collecting 1 tsp of the oil, drain the tuna and place in a large bowl. Add reserved oil, mustard, veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve on wrap, wheat bread or top on a garden salad!

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash is so easy to prepare and holds up well for 3-5 days if stored in an airtight container, making it perfect for meal prep! I have found this to be the easiest way to prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  • Cut the squash in half the long way. Be careful when slicing because it can be hard to get through!
  • Clean out the seeds and stringy substance
  • Place the squash on baking sheet flesh side up
  • spray lightly with EVOO and season with salt and pepper
  • Cook 35-50 minutes depending on the size of the squash (squash should be soft but not fold in on itself when grabbed).
  • Allow to cool enough to handle
  • Using a fork, scrape/shred the inside of the squash creating ‘noodles’
  • Divide into 4 containers to portion out
  • Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days

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beachbody · Exercise · Meal Prep · Recipes · self care · Ultimate Portion Fix

Ultimate Portion Fix (UPF) Week 2

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And just like that we’re in the second week! Getting my nutrition and fitness on track has a funny way of becoming addictive, but in a good way. Once I’ve built up a nice streak of working out every day I tend to feed off that, and do whatever I can to make sure I get that workout in! However, I need to be fair to myself, and be patient with myself. I missed a workout at the end of Week 1 (Saturday). We had family over that day, family that was in town and hadn’t met our little bean yet, and between getting the house into a ‘presentable’ state, making a dessert (I made a healthy-ish strawberry shortcake, see below) and just generally enjoying some time with the family – the workout didn’t happen. Oh well, right? But I was bummed! Luckily I have a great Beachbody coach who reminded me just how much I’m doing! She centered me, reminded me I just had a baby barely over a month ago, and that I was actually doing more than I knew with all the healthy eating and workouts all week before Saturday. After hearing her perspective and getting her support, I reset, I should take it easy on myself. So take this as a reminder to do the same for yourself!

You are doing amazing, you are doing more than you know, and the important thing is to just keep going!

My eating plan for Week 2 took advantage of some of the ingredients bought for Week 1, and will use up my last 2 freezer meals I made before the baby arrived. Doing that prep was such a good investment and I am so thankful I put in the time, I’ve been enjoying them for 6 weeks! I also wanted to use up some frozen shrimp I had leftover from Easter.

You might notice I’m doing the same meal plan 3 days in a row this time around (vs. 2 days last week) – this is just another way to simplify, and makes my prep easier!

Let me take a minute to talk about the fixate Broccoli Salad, I had it twice last week and three times this week, so you might think I’m sick of it – but no! This salad is so delicious I think I could eat it every day! Its also easy to prep, and I made a batch of the dressing last week that I’m still using this week. Its just broccoli, red onion, celery, dates, almonds and turkey bacon – so good!

This week I’ve added spinach to my Banana Protein Smoothies, it doesn’t change the taste but does add a great Green Container to my snack – win!

So far today the little lady hasn’t wanted to sleep much, so I haven’t gotten to do my workout yet (Yoga Fix Extreme Real Time today!). So instead I’m doing some Mommy and Baby workout moves, I can still get some form of a workout in even while keeping her close. Important to remember to support her head and keep your balance, but there are a lot of great moves to work your body that you can still do while holding your baby.

  • Sumo Squat
  • Lunges
  • Leg raises
  • 1-Arm Bicep Curls
  • 1-Arm Tricep Dips

I recommend one minute per exercise (for exercises on each side I recommend 1 minute per side).

Another meal that worked out really well was the roasted shrimp and zucchini – its so quick and easy to make, healthy and tasty! One sliced zucchini, 6 shrimp, a little EVOO and seasonings. Cook at 400 for 15-20mins and enjoy!

A new find I have to share is this Lemon Ginger Seltzer from Trader Joe’s. I like the Lemon-Ginger combo for infused water because there are tons of health benefits (immune system boost, good for skin, etc) and a sparkling version is even better.

Snuck in with all this healthy eating was a treat, of course! The weather has been so nice, Ice Cream season has returned! There is nothing better than a kid’s pure joy and enjoyment of ice cream, don’t you think?

Chocolate Ice Cream Monster!

Healthy-ish Strawberry Shortcake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


SHORTCAKE INGREDIENTS
6 Eggs
1/2 Honey (or Pure Maple Syrup)
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup coconut flour
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda

TOPPING INGREDIENTS
1.5lbs strawberries, quartered
3 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw (or plain sugar)
Whip Cream or Cool Whip

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix Strawberries and sugar in a bowl and refrigerate to allow juices to develop, at least 30 minutes
To make shortcake, mix wet ingredients until smooth
Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined
Pour into greased 8 X 11 baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden
Remove from Oven and allow to cool completely – store at room temperature

When ready to serve, slice cake into six pieces, then cut each in half horizontally.
Layer dish with cake, strawberries, cake, strawberries and top with Whipped Cream!

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beachbody · Exercise · Meal Prep · postpartum · Recipes · Ultimate Portion Fix

Prepping for Ultimate Portion Fix

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As mentioned in my last post Ultimate Portion Fix! I am planning to start this program this coming Monday. One of the most important things when it comes to eating clean is preparation, and that is especially true for a Portion Fix (container based) program.

I know I am much more likely to stick to the healthy eating 100% if the food is prepped and ready to go. If too much work is required at the end of a hard day (and with an infant, aren’t they all challenging in some way?) then I am waaaay more likely to choose fast food, or make a quick grilled cheese or something that doesn’t contain a vegetable. So my main focus this week is to make a plan, and prep for that plan – that will help me be successful next week.

Due to the fact that I am breastfeeding, I fall under calorie Bracket C (1800-2199 calories) in the Ultimate Portion Fix Program. Now let me say when you are eating clean without any processed food, 1800 calories goes a long way! Here is my meal plan for next week.

My first thought when I finished laying this out was Holy Moly that’s a lot of food! This is a good thing, since I’ll also be incorporating daily workouts for the first time in quite some time (modified as appropriate). However my second thought was – wait this is going to require a LOT of prep! A few notes on that – first, I have 4 of the items already done and frozen from my Freezer Meal Prep I did in late February. Without these completed, I would not attempt this meal plan, because it would just be too much. Second, there are ways to simplify if you don’t find yourself with meals already prepped (and I will utilize these in coming weeks).

  1. Instead of targeting too many complete meals/recipes (like Taco Bake or Balsamic Chicken Salad) just go for basics – cook a bunch of chicken with just olive oil and seasonings and add this to salads, wraps, pasta or with veggies on the side all week long per your containers.
  2. Just roast a huge batch of veggies on Sunday and use them all week to pair with chicken or other protein.
  3. Make a big batch of quinoa and/or brown rice on Sunday and have it on hand to pair with veggies and chicken.

In this way, instead of worrying about creating specific recipes you are stocking your fridge with healthy bulk items (easy to prepare) and then you can throw together a meal easily day of.

I would still 100% advise you to create your meal plan ahead of time though so that you can be sure you’ve cooked enough staples to get you through and to eat all your containers!

It’s also very common for people to eat the same thing for all 5 weekdays. I myself will probably do this once I return to work. This also cuts way down on the complexity.

Once I’ve determined my meal plan, I list out my ingredients (this list pictured above doesn’t include any ingredients for the freezer meals that are already done) and then I make a plan of attack for prepping. Normally, I would do all the prep in one day, typically Sunday – but with two kids under 3 I’m going to try to spread it out since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get a 3hr block of time to dedicate to prepping.

With all this planning for next week, I didn’t make a meal plan for this week. I had a bunch of leftover Easter food we’ve been eating, I also used my Chicken Teriyaki freezer meal paired with brown rice and asparagus for dinner Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’ve just been keeping it simple. Today for lunch I whipped up a healthy broccoli slaw salad – it took less than 5 mins and was delicious!

Quick Slaw Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
1/2 bag Broccoli Slaw Mix
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup walnuts
4 Tbs Primal Kitchen Greek Vinaigrette (or similar)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small bowl mix the tomatoes, cucumber, celery, walnuts, dressing and lemon juice.
In a serving/storage bowl place the broccoli slaw and pour the tomato mixture over the slaw.
Stir to coat
Enjoy!

The other prep I’m doing this week is physically. I won’t be fully cleared for exercise until next week, but I have been doing the post-natal workout on beachbody on demand (which is especially designed to start easing postpartum women into workouts) and have been making a special effort to get a full 1mile+ walk in each day. This will help me hit the ground running next week!

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Meal Prep · postpartum · Recipes

Healthy Postpartum Meal Plan Week 3

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Trying to keep it simple this week so that I’ll have time (and energy) for Easter prep later in the week! So I’m only making 3 meals (+ a freezer meal already made) to fuel the whole week. Throw in a couple easy breakfasts and lunches here and there and happy healthy family achieved!

Monday

Sometimes I forget how much I love cereal. Its not always the healthiest option, so I don’t rely on it too often, but it does hit the spot sometimes! Any cereal makes a more complete meal with fruit and nuts added – I had Kashi 7 Grain cereal (which I love) and added strawberries with slivered almonds.


Eggplant Parmesan

Let me just say it – this meal was a home run. I loved it, but my toddler wouldn’t try it – too bad because I think he would have loved it too, but no dice.

This recipe is from The Stay at Home Chef, but I made a couple modifications.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • freeze dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese divided

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Lay out in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 1 hour to release moisture.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  • Set up 3 shallow dishes for dredging. In the first dish, stir together flour, salt and pepper. In the second dish, whisk eggs. In the third dish, stir together panko bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, and garlic powder.
  • Working one at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flour mixture, dip in egg mixture, and then coat in bread crumb mixture. Place onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle on a light coating of parmesan cheese.
  • Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping eggplant slices halfway through.
  • Spread 2 tablespoons of marinara into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 dish. Layer half of the eggplant slices onto the bottom. Top with half of the remaining marinara, and then layer on all mozzarella to desired cheesiness. Sprinkle on half of the basil and half of the parmesan cheese.
  • Place remaining eggplant slices on top and cover with remaining marinara, basil, and parmesan cheese (a little extra mozz is a good too).
  • Bake, uncovered, in the 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

Tuesday

As I’m starting to get back into a fitness mindset, I’ve reintroduced protein powder into my diet (I had cut it out during pregnancy to be extra careful). I tried Orgain Peanut Butter because I’m comfortable with the ingredients, and I’m happy to report that it’s delicious! This will be my new go-to smoothie recipe for Spring and summer, its like a milkshake or frappucino! I included oats to keep my lactation needs in mind.

Espresso PB Protein Shake

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
4 oz Espresso (or coffee)
3/4 cup Almond Milk
1 banana (frozen)
1 scoop Peanut Butter Protein Powder (I like Orgain brand)
1/4 cup old fashioned oats

INSTRUCTIONS
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth
Serve and enjoy!

When I was at the grocery store I saw the Sonoma Chicken Salad in the prepared food case (at Whole Foods) and couldn’t resist. Having some prepared chicken salad just makes meal time easier. If you can’t get this near you though, Whole Foods has posted the recipe. I highly recommend it. I had mine on some whole wheat English muffin with a can of sparkling water.

Since I had this chicken salad for lunch, I saved the Eggplant Parmesan leftovers for dinner and moved Apricot Chicken to Wednesday.

Wednesday

Apricot Chicken and Rice

Make the rice first (this can also be made ahead of time). I used basamati rice, added slivered almonds and a few diced dried apricots to the rice.

The Apricot Chicken recipe comes from Chef in the Burbs blog.

INGREDIENTS (for me this made 6 servings)

  • 4 thin chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • ½ cup apricot jam/jelly/preserves
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil in an oven safe 12″ saute pan over medium high heat.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and add to saute pan.
  3. Cook for five minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While chicken cooks, stir preserves, soy sauce and garlic together in a glass measuring cup and microwave for one minute, stirring a couple times during microwave time.
  5. Move oven rack to just below broiler and turn broiler on.
  6. Flip chicken and pour glaze over.
  7. Broil for two minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I had so many leftovers of this Apricot chicken that we basically ate it the rest of the week. I once again pushed out the Turkey Sloppy Joes (froze the turkey), so I had a nice break from cooking until Easter.

Check out my post on our Easter Dinner here

Holidays · Meal Prep · Recipes

Easy Crowd Pleasing Easter Menu

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Happy Easter! This was my first time hosting since the birth of my daughter, and even though its a small group – 5 adults and a toddler – I still wanted to choose items that would be manageable without sacrificing taste or quality.

Here’s what I planned:

In the end, I didn’t make the asparagus. Between morning Easter basket time with my son, church, and nursing my daughter, it was a little too much. While I would have preferred to have a green vegetable as part of the dinner, we really didn’t need it and were very happy with the meal as it was, I’m glad I kept it stress-free. I’ll eat the asparagus this week instead.

Appetizers

What could be easier than these two options I picked? Very little. Comte is a French cheese that we get around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter). Its delicious and my toddler asks for it by name – its a little more special than just throwing some cheddar out there. The shrimp is a relatively healthy option and we won’t get too full before the meal by snacking on these.

Cocktails and Wine

I worked hard to build up enough breastmilk so that I could enjoy a glass of Prosecco, it was so delicious! Once Springtime starts, Rose is my wine of choice – but its got to be a good one – bad Rose is especially bad. We had a bottle of Cossinelle Gamay that my family enjoyed, but I went for the Prosecco this time.

I did not join in for a Whiskey Sour, but if you can enjoy an cocktail, I recommend starting guests off with one than switching to wine (or beer). My husband makes a mean whiskey sour, per the below.

Hubby's Whiskey Sour

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
2oz Fresh squeezed lemon and lime mix
2oz Bourbon
1oz Simple Syrup
1 Bing Cherry

INSTRUCTIONS
Shake first 3 ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into cocktail glass, add cherry and enjoy!

Main Course

The good thing about my menu was that each item is pretty easy to put together. The negative was that there was very little that could be prepped ahead of time, meaning everything needed to be done on Easter itself. (The bread and cake were made ahead, on Saturday).

Baked Ham with Orange Mustard Glaze

I found this recipe on Food Network and loved it. I like that they offer various glaze options. I chose the Orange and Mustard and it was a big hit. This recipe is definitely my new go to for ham. I also served the ham with fresh pineapple slices – a great combo!

Honey Glazed Carrots

The carrots were also very successful – a little different because they incorporate lemon to cut the honey a bit. I also wanted to be sure I could cook everything except the ham on the stovetop, since I do not have a double oven and a 10lb ham takes up the full oven! This recipe also came from Food Network, was easy and tasty. I used full size carrots instead of baby (I did 3 carrots per person), cut in half before preparing. I also didn’t bother with the parsley (once again when juggling two kids under three I don’t take on too much!) and you won’t miss it.

Mashed Potatoes

You might notice that every holiday meal at my house includes mashed potatoes. Maybe its my Irish background or maybe its because they are so delicious, we’ll never know, but they never disappoint!

My method – Peel Russet Potatoes (2 medium per person) but keep whole. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water, salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a rolling boil and cook until potatoes are fully cooked, drain. Heat whole milk (roughly 1 tablespoon per potato) in separate pot on low until warm (using cold milk can lead to a gummy consistency). Return potatoes to pot or large bowl, add in butter (roughly 1 tablespoon per potato) and mash potatoes using electrical mixer or by hand. Slowly add warm milk until desired consistency is reached!

Bread and Dessert

Cinnamon Bread

I debated whether to go sweet or savory for the bread with dinner. In the end I went for the cinnamon bread because it pairs so well with the salty ham. This is one of my mom’s recipes, and its another staple in our family for many different holidays or get-togethers. She lists the walnuts as optional – but I always go for the walnuts.

Carrot Cake

This carrot cake recipe comes from Flour Bakery. If you live in the Boston area (or are planning to visit) Flour is a must-visit place. Everything they make is amazing, and I highly recommend the cookbook as well.

That’s it! My advice is to keep it easy and enjoy the day, I know we did. For leftovers we love sandwiches of course, but ham is great in quiches and soups too!

Meal Prep · parenting · postpartum · Recipes

Healthy Postpartum Meal Plan #2

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The plan for this week includes some lactation boosting foods, some family crowd pleasers, and some very quick and easy ideas because we need to be realistic. This is my meal plan – a target, not a requirement. Sometimes I stray from the plan, and there’s certainly no reason to feel pressure to follow it. When you’re a mom you really only get ‘pockets’ of time around the kids schedule and needs. It may be 10 or 15mins here and there, and I use that to chop veggies or cook rice, or get other prep done. When I was making the chickpea tomato salad for example (which is literally such an easy dish that it takes less than 10 minutes to assemble) I was interrupted twice. I just stopped what I was doing, fed my babe, and then came back to it.

I will once again enjoy the work I put in before the baby came by taking advantage of a few of my freezer items – the Cinnamon Apple Oat Bake, Smoothie packs, and Fennel Orange Chicken.

I realized later that I missed some ingredients on this list! I had to send my husband to the store on his way home from work to pick up my Baked Ziti ingredients (see recipe below).

Meatless Monday

Apple Cinnamon Oat Bake (freezer meal)

From my postpartum freezer meal prep, I had forgotten how much this recipe made! I definitely don’t need all of this in one week, so I thawed it out just slightly enough to be able to divide it in half, and refroze the rest. It’s about 10 servings total. (That missing corner down below was from the day I made it, a cook has to taste her work 😉

Chickpea, Pesto, Tomato Mozz Salad

This is delicious and so stinking easy, I’ll be revisiting it often.

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 servings)

  •  1/2 pint chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 of an English Cucumber, sliced into thick rounds and then quartered
  • 1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  •  2 Tbl pesto (this time I used jarred, but my husband makes an amazing pesto – I’ll include that recipe next time….)
  •  1/4 cup shredded mozzarella (this would be amazing with fresh mozzarella, but I was keeping it simple and reducing the number of items on my shopping list this week)
  •  Salt and black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Assemble all ingredients in a bowl, mix and enjoy !

What to do with the other half can of chickpeas? I roasted them – makes a really good snack and very easy. Heat oven to 350 degrees, cover chickpeas in a generous amount of olive oil, lightly salt and roast until crispy, about 20 mins. You’ll definitely want to blot with paper towel to get some of the oil off after roasting.

Vegetable Stir-Fry w/Soy free Teriyaki Sauce

Have you noticed how soy seems to be an ingredient in EVERYTHING? Even things where its pretty unexpected. In general, I’m trying to avoid too much soy, so I went searching for a good stir-fry sauce without it, and found a Paleo Teriyaki. You can of course use bottled teriyaki or another sauce to keep it simple if you prefer. If you are making the sauce, my advice is to make it ahead of time (in one of those mom pockets of time).

Soy Free Teriyaki Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice or water
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1/8 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp tapioca flour (optional- if you want your sauce to be thicker, I did not use)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix the coconut aminos, orange juice, honey, ginger, garlic and chili flakes in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat. If you are using tapioca flour, mix it with 2 tablespoon of cold water and add the mixture into the sauce and cook until thicken. If not using tapioca, just simmer the sauce until thickened.

Veggie Stir-Fry

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • One bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • One white onion, diced
  • handful Mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 green onion (optional) sliced
  • 3/4 cup brown rice (dry)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • First cook the rice, this can also be done early (even the day or 2 before). I cooked a double batch (1.5 cups dry) so that I would have some ready for my pesto rice salad later in the week. I used my rice cooker per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet or wok, over high heat.
  • Add the olive oil, onions, garlic, sprinkle with salt, and cook covered for about 15, or until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally.
  • After onions are caramelized, remove them and place in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Add the mushrooms, peppers, celery and teriyaki sauce and simmer uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes, or until slightly reduced.
  • Add the onions back to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute
  • Put 3/4 cups of rice into each (2) bowls and divide the vegetable & sauce mixture amongst them
  • Sprinkle green onion on top (sesame seeds would also be good to add)

Tuesday

For Breakfast I just heated up another piece of the Apple Cinnamon Oat Bake and made a decaf cappuccino.

I actually didn’t end up making the Pesto Rice salad today because I still have some leftover Beef Chili from the weekend, and didn’t want to waste it. So I’ll push the Brown Rice Salad to Wednesday.

Since I didn’t have to make breakfast or lunch (and baby girl has been sleeping a lot today) I decided to make the PB & Jam cookies. I actually wasn’t sure if I would end up making these this week or not (I planned to, but wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it happen) as they are more effort for a ‘snack’ than I might have available, but it worked out. They are a great postpartum snack because they include some of our lactation boosting superfoods (oats and flax) and they are filling and tasty.

PB & Jam Cookies

I got the recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron, who is a meal-prepping goddess, and I didn’t make any modifications.

INGREDIENTS (yields 6 cookies, I kept 3 for this week and froze 3)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 6 tablespoons jam of choice (I used no sugar added Smuckers Fruit & Honey, and yes those are my son’s matchbox cars in the background)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Melt coconut oil in a large bowl. Stir in the peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rolled oats, flour, baking powder and ground flax. Mix until completely combined.
  • Scoop out 1/4 cup portions and shape them on the baking sheet into a round cookie with an indent in the middle.
  • Spoon in 1 tablespoon of jam in the center of each cookie.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, until edge around the bottoms start to brown.
  • Cool completely before storing away for 3-4 days in a sealed container.

Infused Water

For this week, I’m doing cucumber ginger infused water since I needed those ingredients for other dishes as well. I took 1/4 of an English cucumber, chopped and 2″ of ginger, peeled and chopped. I will refill the water in the jug over the next 2 days as needed, then dump the cucumber/ginger and make a fresh batch on the third day.

Baked Ziti w/ Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2lb ziti pasta
  • 1lb Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3 cups pasta sauce – I recommend a hearty sauce with garlic for this dish
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (I recommend a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to keep this simple)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook ziti in boiling, salted water until al dente (firm).
  • Drain pasta and place in a large bowl
  • In a medium sized bowl combine the Ricotta and half (1.5cups) Mozzarella
  • Add cheese mixture to ziti and mix
  • Grease a 9×13″ pan (or separate into two smaller pans to freeze half for another meal – this is what I did)
  • Cover bottom of dish with half of the sauce
  • Spoon the ziti mixture over the sauce
  • Add chicken evenly through the dish
  • Cover with remaining sauce
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and the remaining mozzarella cheese
  • Bake for 20 to 30 mins
  • Remove from oven and let stand for 10mins for easier serving

Wednesday

OK – yesterday my little one slept really well, and was on a regular schedule eating every 2-3hrs and sleeping in between – it was great, but it didn’t continue through the night. Last night she wanted to feed pretty constantly from 1AM to 5AM, and was very unhappy anytime I’d put her down. So lets just say I’m exhausted today, and I foresee miss fussy pants will continue today as well (so far at least).

So I didn’t make an omelette this morning, but just warmed up some more Apple Cinnamon Oat Bake, and my coffee today is half and half (half caffeinated, half decaf) because mama needs a pick-me-up. Luckily my toddler was happy to have some Oat Bake as well, and I was able to gobble up my breakfast in 5 minutes flat.

Sometimes, the little one just want to be held, so let yourself get nothing done and just be with the newborn. I know how quickly this period flies by and I want to make sure I spend that special time with my baby and give myself a break if everything else (except for my son, of course) falls by the wayside.

Snuggle Time

I’ve been drinking this Organic Milkmaid tea Organic Milkmaid Tea by Earth Mama | Supports Healthy Breastmilk Production and Lactation, Herbal Breastfeeding Tea Supplement, 16 Count – its delicious and I feel like it does help with supply, but today I got the perfect message on my teabag, it says “its OK to not love every single minute”. Isn’t that the truth? Some days its hard to have a newborn, that’s a fact – and we need to take it easy on ourselves (and each other). Sometimes I feel like Supermom and other days it feels like a struggle, but I know I love this little lady and that is all that matters in the end!

I did manage to make my lunch, even though it took a couple tries to get through it. I was able to feel some sense of accomplishment for eating a healthy lunch!

Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

I found this recipe at From the Larder, to keep it simple I left out the fresh parsley and dill (I added the almonds after I had snapped the pic).

INGREDIENTS (for two servings):

  • 175 g brown rice
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • ½ cucumber de-seeded, diced
  • 150 g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 40 g flaked almonds toasted
  • 2 large handfuls parsley finely chopped
  • 1 medium handful dill finely chopped

pesto vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • juice of ½ small lemon
  • 4 tablespoons pesto (any kind, homemade or shop bought – whatever you have in your fridge)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook the brown rice according to the packet instructions then leave to cool (or hopefully you have some leftover cooked rice from Monday)
  • Meanwhile mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and add to the rice once cool.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk the Dijon and lemon along with some salt and pepper in a small bowl until thickened.
  • Whisk in the pesto then drizzle in the olive oil whisking all the time until the dressing has come together.
  • Pour over the rice salad, mixing in well.
  • Store the salad in the fridge until needed.

Thursday

Today little miss and I ventured out into the world for the first time (other than her doctor’s appointments). We went to the coffee shop where I shamelessly enjoyed a delicious donut and iced coffee (decaf) and then the grocery store. I didn’t attempt a full shopping, just fruit, veggies and essentials. I plan to order the rest via delivery from Whole Foods, which is such an awesome service – definitely take advantage of grocery delivery if your local store offers it! I do find that I don’t receive the best produce when I go with the delivery option though, which is why we made our little trip. It was great to be out and about, and she basically slept the whole time (cars tend to have that effect) so I’m declaring it a victory!

Tuna Tomato Melt

This is a great little lunch. Low carb but filling, and looks pretty too! I got the idea from Skinnytaste but just made my typical tuna salad that I like (I don’t use mayo) and I’ve included my recipe below – and snuck in some Cape Cod chips.

INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings)

  • Tuna filets in olive oil – I love this brand, high quality and they also have flavors like w/oregano or w/jalapeño (which would work great for tuna salad). Its even more expensive in the store so I like to buy via Amazon for a better price! I use all the tuna and about 1 tablespoon of the oil in the jar to mix into the tuna salad
  • 1 tsp Mustard (I use the olive oil from the tuna and mustard as the ‘sauce’ of my tuna instead of mayo)
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mixd the first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Set oven to Broil and arrange rack 1 note down from top
  • Slice the top of each tomato and clear out some of the seeds.
  • Fill each tomato shell with half of the tuna salad
  • Cover each tomato with 1 slice of cheese
  • Broil tomato sandwiches for ~2 minutes until cheese is fully melted

I moved my freezer meal – Chicken with Orange and Fennel – to today, just wanted to take advantage of work that was already done 🙂 The important thing to remember for the freezer meals is to thaw overnight or very early in the morning before you plan to cook it. This one, (recipe in my post on freezer meal prep) cooked on low for 6 hours and was really tasty – something a little different with chicken is always welcomed.

Friday

I still had a little Apple Cinnamon Oat Bake left, so I finished it off for breakfast. I made it a little special with strawberries, blueberries and whip cream – my toddler had some berries in whip cream too!

My mother-in-law is visiting from out of state (to meet her new granddaughter!) so we were a little off plan today – we went out for pizza for lunch! So I’m going to push the turkey sloppy joes to next week, we have to be flexible!

Saturday

Brunch! I am happy to report we successfully went out to brunch with both kids and it wasn’t a disaster. This may never happen again….

French toast with blueberry compote, bacon, coffee, chicken and waffles for my husband – delicious!

Bacon anyone?
Sleeping Beauty

She’s in there – I promise! This nursing/carseat/stroller cover is a lifesaver – I use it to cover her up in public, it shields her from some of the noise and light in a restaurant for example (which helps keep her calm and sleepy) but I also use it on her stroller to completely shield her from the sun (just be careful it doesn’t get too hot in there) and then its also a nursing cover/scarf – score!

Chicken Wild Rice Soup – Instant Pot

You may have noticed I like gadgets – kitchen gadgets. This has been especially true since becoming a mother – where before I may have been able to perfectly cook rice on the stovetop every time, now I prefer the dump it and leave it approach. As my toddler likes to say, “I too busy”. The rice cooker is definitely one of my most used items, it is great for meal prep because you can make a batch of rice or quinoa on Sunday for healthy meals throughout the week!

For rice or noodle based soups, I always cook the rice/pasta separately. If I’m making a big batch of soup (and plan on enjoying the leftovers) I definitely don’t want leftover rice in there – it ‘drinks’ up all the broth and gets totally mushy. I find it works better to cook it separately, then just add a little into each individual bowl when its time to serve it – then the next day I do the same and can enjoy the leftovers longer. This recipe is inspired by The Kitchen Magpie, but I made a handful of changes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 3 carrots peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup wild rice, dry

This recipe only calls for two chicken breast, and the package comes with three, so I saved one that I’ll bake tomorrow and use for salads/lunches next week.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook wild rice in rice cooker or other method
  • While rice is cooking, add all ingredients except rice into the instant pot
  • Press the Soup button and cook for 45 minutes
  • When ready, remove the chicken breasts onto a plate and shred them. Mix back into the soup.
  • To serve add ~1/5th of the rice to each bowl and spoon in soup.
  • Store leftover rice separately from leftover soup
Big batch of soup!

Tomorrow (Sunday) I’ll mostly eat leftovers – my remaining PB & Jam cookie, soup, etc and start prepping for next week. Here’s my next postpartum meal plan:

Meal Prep · parenting · postpartum · Recipes

With Love from my Kitchen – healthy Postpartum Meal Plan

In my last blog post on the first week post-partum, I introduced a meal plan (shown below). This isn’t necessarily low-calorie (depending on your calorie needs and your serving sizes) since I am exclusively breast-feeding and need to keep calories up to ensure supply, but it is a healthy, balanced meal plan. Based on Myfitness pal logging (love that app) I was consuming between 1400-1700 calories each day. A given as part of the meal plan is water. Hydration is SO important for breast-feeding mamas, and as part of a healthy lifestyle in general. I was getting in around 80oz a day.

After I laid out my plan and completed my shopping, we received a wonderful surprise, my mother delivered a huge pot of Beef Bourguignon, complete with mashed potatoes and buttery carrots! This is one of my mother’s specialties (a Julia Child recipe I will supply below) and one of our absolute favorites, so my meal-plan had to modify a little to accommodate, which I was happy to do! I dropped the freezer meal, that’s easy to save for next week.

My new meal plan became:

Meatless Monday

Low-Carb Waffles

Completed as part of freezer meal prep or as detailed below. Adapted from All the Nourishing Things.

  1. Cover 3/4 cup raw cashews in water and soak overnight (or 8 hrs)
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, then add them to a high-powered blender
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, to the blender:
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 3 tablespoons Sugar (or leave out for savory waffles)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or leave out for savory waffles)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • pinch salt
  4. Start by blending on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high, then back down to low.
  5. Blend until completely smooth.
  6. Pour into your waffle maker, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Everyone told me I’d never use my waffle maker when I registered for it before getting married, but I use it all the time – waffle junkie!)
  7. Add cooled waffles to freezer bag – to reheat, just pop in toaster oven (or actual oven) until warm and crispy!

A simple garden salad and whole wheat english muffin grilled cheese for lunch, with a side of red grapes.

Mushroom and Artichoke Fettuccine

Made the Mushroom & Artichoke Fettuccine from DamnDelicious for dinner. This was easy, hearty and well, damn delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine fettuccine, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onion, garlic, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 12-15 minutes.
  3. Stir in spinach, Parmesan and butter until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately.

Tuesday

Lactation Smoothie

Completed as part of Freezer Meal Prep (be sure to thaw in the fridge overnight to be able to blend in the AM) or as detailed below.

  1. Add 1 banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup almond milk to blender.
  2. Sprinkle in flax seeds.

Asian Style Chicken Salad

I can’t really explain why this is call ‘Asian-style’ as there aren’t too many ingredients that I would normally associate with an asian dish. However it is really tasty and a perfect lunch. The chicken and dressing should be prepped ahead and then its a quick and easy assembly each time you’re ready to eat it. This dressing recipe makes a large batch, so you can expect to have some leftover.

INGREDIENTS

  1. 2 heads iceberg lettuce (or mix in some darker greens for added nutrition, but the iceberg has a nice crunch)
  2. 4 chicken breasts – par boil slowly
  3. 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  4. 1-3/4 cups slivered almonds
  5. 3 scallions – finely chopped
  6. Chow mein noodles

Dressing

  1. 12 tsp red wine vinegar
  2. 1-1/2 cup salad oil
  3. 3/4 tsp pepper
  4. 3 tsp salt
  5. 6 tsp sugar

Dressing should be refrigerated overnight before serving.

Beef Bourguignon

When I got married, my mother had assembled some of her best recipes, some of my childhood favorites, and some Holiday recipes into a book – I use it often, and Beef Bourguignon is included there – of course! Given that I am breastfeeding, and you might be too, the first thing you might notice is that there’s a fair amount of booze in this recipe! Yes there is, but it cooks for a long enough time that all the alcohol burns off, so it is nursing friendly. I wouldn’t neccessarily recommend making this yourself if you have a newborn though, it may be a little too involved. File it away for later or see if you can get someone to make it for you, hehe! All the other recipes I have been choosing are super quick and simple, because I don’t want to take on too much – the babe is the main priority…

Wednesday

Spinach and Cheese Omelette

  1. Mix together 1 cup of chopped spinach, 1/4cup shredded cheddar cheese, and two eggs in a same bowl, season with salt and pepper. (This is 1 serving)
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot, spray with EVOO and pour in egg mixture.
  3. Gently tilt pan and push cooked portions from the edges until the full omelette is cooked. Serve immediately.

Lemon Garlic Salmon

This time I cooked in a foil packet on my inside grill, but you can bake the salmon as well and it will be delicious.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound wild salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence, dill, or Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large lemon sliced into rounds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high
  2. Place the salmon on one large sheet of foil
  3. Mix the lemon zest with oil in a small bowl
  4. Drizzle fish with oil mixture and coat the flesh of the salmon in oil. Sprinkle with seasoning of choice and sea salt.
  5. Place lemon slices on top of the salmon fillet and wrap in foil to create a foil packet.
  6. Place foil packet on the grill and cover the grill. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through (or reaches desired done-ness). Cook times will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon.

Thursday

No new recipes for today!

Friday

I took the pack of chicken and separated into 2 large breasts to use for Caprese chicken, along with some chicken strips to use for the garden salad. I just simply bake the chicken strips with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and a little salt and pepper for about 20 minutes.

Caprese Chicken and Spaghetti Squash

From Confessions of a Fit Foodie recipe (with small modifications)

INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings)

  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. shredded basil
  • 2/3 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 spaghetti squash

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut Spaghetti Squash in half length-wise. Spray insides with EVOO and sprinkle with salt/pepper
  3. Bake squash cut side down on a cookie sheet (covered with aluminum foil) for about 20 minutes or until outside shell is soft.
  4. While squash is baking, heat a large skillet with olive oil and season chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook chicken over medium heat until golden and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Lower heat to medium low and add the two teaspoons of olive oil to the pan. Add onion and stir for a few minutes or until they begin soften.
  7. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  8. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and let simmer until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  9. Stir in a tablespoon of basil. Return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top evenly with mozzarella and cover with lid to melt cheese.
  10. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and use a fork to scrap out ‘spaghetti’ into bowl.
  11. Spoon tomatoes, chicken and sauce over spaghetti squash and garnish with remaining basil.

Delicious and Healthy!

Saturday & Sunday

Instant Pot Beanless Beef Chili

This meal is great because it is so quick and easy – from start to finish 30 mins. I didn’t end up adding the bell pepper to mine as I was short on time, and reduced some of the quantities (beef, tomatoes w/chilies) as I was only cooking for 2 adults, but otherwise I followed this recipe from Confessions of a Fit Foodie as written. I will definitely make this one again – really good. If you are breastfeeding, you may also want to reduce the heat level do be sure it will agree with the baby 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots,peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups of zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • 2 small cans of tomatoes with green chilies

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set your Instant Pot to Saute and brown beef until beef is thoroughly cooked, adding garlic for the last minute. Drain excess fat, set aside.
  2. Add oil, onions, celery, carrots, peppers, and seasonings to the Pot and saute until onions are translucent. Add zucchini, cooked beef, tomatoes, and sauce to the pot and stir.
  3. Cover IP and be sure valve is set to sealing. Set to manual and cook for 20 minutes. After cook time, switch to venting for quick release.

Next Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s my plan for next week! Planning to be healthy and keeping it simple!

Holidays · Recipes

St. Patrick’s Day!

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I have to admit, I was secretly hoping to be in labor or in the hospital by St. Patty’s Day – I also thought it would be cute if baby girl happened to have a St. Patrick’s Day birthday, I am half Irish after all :). However the baby has her own plans and I am still waiting for her arrival…..patiently?

Either way – I did have my corned beef and cabbage ingredients ready just in case, and of course, we ended up with a great Irish-American dinner at home instead.

Since my son, Sean, is only 2 – he doesn’t quite understand holidays or what they mean, but he can tell when we have a ‘special’ meal or event, and I think it adds just a little magic to life, so I like to celebrate all holidays and occasions!

For March 17th – I picked a Skinnytaste Corned Beef and Cabbage instant pot recipe this year: https://www.skinnytaste.com/instant-pot-corned-beef-and-cabbage/ but did make a couple modifications. I also made an Irish Soda bread and mashed potatoes, that I’ll talk about below.

First, 2lbs doesn’t turn out to be very much meat, even for a family of three – and I definitely wanted to have leftovers for a few sandwiches the next day. So I went with a 3.5lb piece of corned beef.

Then, instead of cooking in water, I used beef broth. If I weren’t pregnant I would probably go with half beef broth and half Guinness for extra St. Patty’s flavor!

The last modification (and most important) is that the carrots and onions do not need to cook the whole 1.5hrs – they would definitely turn to mush! so – here are my modified instructions below. (The veggies turned out perfect, my meat slightly overcooked, so in the instructions below I cut the cooking time for the meat down slightly to adjust).

Skinny Corned Beef and Cabbage

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3.5 pounds trimmed, lean corned beef brisket
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 medium head cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 box beef broth

DIRECTIONS:

  • Place the corned beef brisket, parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns in the Instant pot and add 3 cups of broth.
  • Cover and cook on high pressure 1 hr 15mins. Natural release then open.
  • Add the carrots and onions, cover and cook on high pressure 7 minutes, quick release.
  • Add the cabbage to the top, cover and cook on high pressure 3 minutes, quick release.
  • Remove meat and slice into 6 pieces.

For the Irish Soda bread, I picked an Ina Garten recipes, but made some modifications of course! When it comes to Irish bread, there are two different types – those made with buttermilk and those without. They lead to two very different consistencies. I would say if you’re looking for the more traditional texture, a little dry and crumbly, this is probably not the recipe you want – this one is a little bit heavier and smoother. Both delicious, just a matter of taste and expectation. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/irish-soda-bread-recipe-1949134

The modification I made is that we don’t have raisins or currants in the house, they can be deadly for dogs, and our son will feed the dog anything, so its just too risky for us. So I went a very untraditional route and used dried cherries in our bread – that turned out to be a delicious move, so I’ll probably keep doing that in the future!

I also sprinkled the top with some sugar before baking to give the crust a little sweetness. Otherwise I stuck to the recipe, as follows:

Irish Soda Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants (or in my case, dried cherries!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or use a handy cooking mat like I prefer!)
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  • With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the dried fruit with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
  • Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
  • Cool on a baking rack.
Before
After!

Then, you can’t celebrate St. Patty’s Day without potatoes, but the traditional would be boiled potatoes, usually cooked in the delicious meat juices. Since the potatoes aren’t included in the instant pot recipe, I decided to switch it up and just make mashed. I knew it would be a bigger hit with my husband this way too!

Ready to Eat!
Meal Prep · pregnancy · Recipes

Postpartum Freezer Meals

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With my ninth month of pregnancy now in full swing, its time for Postpartum Freezer meal prep! I love meal prep in general, I do at least some every Sunday for the week ahead, and try to do a big batch freezer prep every few months, but postpartum prep is special.

First, it’s a great learning from my first pregnancy – the freezer meals I had prepared were a blessing and I wished I had prepped more! So this time around I had lofty ambitions – 13 different items. It took me basically all day, and also required my hubby keeping our toddler occupied all day – which is no easy feat. (In the end I only accomplished 12 of the meals, but more about that later!)

Second, this time around I’m loading the menu with lactation-nurturing foods – all things that are equally delicious for the rest of the family too, but I know the secret that they contain special milk-boosting ingredients. This wasn’t something I thought about that the first time around, but then started making lots of breastfeeding friendly recipes after the fact.

Below you’ll find my menu, ingredient list, and step-by-step instructions to efficiently prep 13 recipes in about 5-hours. Each full recipe is listed out separately as well later in the post.

First – Pick your recipes

Here are the 13 recipes I chose, and a little background on why.

  • Low-Carb Waffles
  • Apple Cinnamon Oat Bake
  • Instant Pot Chicken Tikka
  • Pot-Roast
  • Fennel Chicken with Orange
  • Lemon Garlic Drumsticks (x2)
  • Cheesy Taco Bake
  • Turkey Lasagna Roll-ups
  • Lactation Smoothie Packs
  • Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
  • Beef & Broccoli
  • The Best Ever Lactation Cookies
  • Mac&Cheese

Low-Carb Waffles

I found this recipe here: https://allthenourishingthings.com/grain-free-low-carb-belgian-waffles/ and made only one minor change. She includes a DIY Sugar Alternative Blend, which you may love – but I prefer to keep it natural with old fashioned sugar (there isn’t too much called for here so I still find it relatively guilt-free as far as Belgian waffles go).

I love to include breakfast in meal prep, it is the most important meal of the day, after all! For postpartum especially though – you’ll be running on very little sleep, so anything that helps get your morning off to a great start and helps you recharge will be incredibly important.

What I like about these waffles in particular is that they are low-carb (and grain-free). While we shouldn’t restrict carbs or go on an all-out low-carb diet postpartum, especially if you’re breastfeeding, I do like the idea of slowly starting to ease back into mindful eating. I personally was craving toast and juice during this entire pregnancy so I do want to reign it in (at least a little) once baby arrives.

I am a sweet waffle person, but Lindsey includes some great options for converting these into savory waffles as well on her site – worth checking out.

I only prepped a single batch, which is 5 waffles, but this is a very quick and easy recipe so you may consider doubling it if desired.

Apple-Cinnamon Oat Bake

Here’s one for the nursing mamas. Oats are one of the top foods recommended to increase breast milk supply. I should say, there’s very little scientific evidence supporting any food in connection with increasing supply – but there’s also very limited research in this area (experiments on newborns aren’t very popular 😉 From my own personal experience, I did see a benefit, so I plan to include oats in my postpartum diet this time around too.

This recipe I found at https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/recipes/apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal-soaked/ and did make a couple adjustments. First for the pre-soak, I used just 1/3cup of apple cider vinegar. A 1/2 cup just seemed like too much acid, and I didn’t get into whey or sourdough-starter to keep things simple. I also used natural sugar again, and opted out of the raisins and coconut flakes, but you could easily include them if so inclined.

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka

Not much background on this one – this is just a tasty, healthy dish and one both my husband and I can enjoy! This recipe also comes from All the Nourishing Things blog, https://allthenourishingthings.com/instant-pot-chicken-tikka-masala-paleo-whole30-thm-s/ and my only tweak was to cut the cumin in half (hubby hates cumin).

Pot Roast

Protein and Iron are essential for breastfeeding, and for keeping your energy up in a marathon, which is what the postpartum period really is! I also wanted to include at least one item in my prep that I could break out when extended family is around. Easter will fall only a few weeks after I deliver, so I have this one in mind for an Easter dinner depending on how things go. Pot Roast is such a satisfying meal, has a great dose of iron and veggies as well, I’m looking forward to this one! Recipe is from: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2017/05/classic-slow-cooker-pot-roast/

Fennel Chicken w/Orange

Fennel is another lactation boosting ingredient, long considered a galactogogue. I also picked this recipe because its nice to have variety in our chicken dishes, rather than the same old combinations we’ve had a hundred times. Recipe from: http://empoweredsustenance.com/slow-cooker-fennel-chicken-with-orange/ I choose to use chicken breast, but skinless, boneless thighs are also an option.

Lemon Garlic Drumsticks (x2)

Lemon, Garlic and EVOO is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations for a chicken marinade. So simple yet so refreshing, delicious and healthy! This one I made as an x2 (double batch) but only froze one. I thought that after an entire day of meal-prepping I should at least have something to feed my family at the end, and this was it. It was delicious, by the way 🙂 Recipe from: https://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/05/delicious-and-simple-lemon-garlic-drumsticks.html

Cheesy Taco Bake

This recipe (and the next four) all come from the same place – Diary of a Fit Mommy Blog https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/ This is one of my favorite blogs, Sia is inspiring and her blog has tons of helpful content – so definitely check it out. This post I linked to is also for Postpartum freezer meals, so you may find it particularly interesting. I wanted some differences in the meals I prepped, which is why I went my own direction, but she does have some good options, like the Cheesy Taco Bake. This is another recipe I chose just because it is a crowd pleaser, and I know my family will enjoy it. My son is starting to be a bit more adventurous with what he will eat, so I’m hopeful the taco bake will entice him as well.

Turkey Lasagna Roll-ups

Who doesn’t love lasagna? I substituted ground turkey for ground beef to lighten it up, but otherwise this is easy to make, easy to reheat, and easy to enjoy! https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/

Lactation Smoothie Packs

This one checks all the boxes for this freezer meal session – boosts milk supply? Check. Makes your busy life easier? Check. Gets you back on the healthy wagon post pregnancy? Check! I made them exactly as written. https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/

Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Teriyaki Chicken is another one of my favorite classic chicken dishes. This is also a great one to include for Meal Prep because the prep itself is relatively simple with few steps! https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/

Beef & Broccoli

Again including a lot of high-iron protein in our diets is great for breastfeeding, and this is a delicious way to do it! I went for fresh broccoli, and I love that this dish incorporates something green, which we don’t see too much of on this this list. I use low-sodium Tamari instead of the traditional soy sauce – you won’t miss the sodium in this dish, and Tamari has no wheat ingredient whereas traditional soy sauce is closer to 40% wheat. Recipe from https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/

The Best Ever Lactation Cookies

I must have made these cookies about 10 times while I was nursing my son. While these won’t help much in the weight loss department, they do contain lots of milk-boosting ingredients (oats, brewers yeast, coconut oil, and flax) and they are delicious. My husband was gobbling them up too last time around. I’ll start with one batch to freeze, but I fully expect I’ll be making this regularly again. Recipe from: https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/02/lactation-cookies/

Mac and Cheese

Last but certainly not least! I didn’t get to making this dish during my meal prep day, but did make it the day after. Instead of freezing it we decided to eat it throughout the week and it was delicious! We are kind of Mac and Cheese snobs, if such a thing exists, so I while I basically followed Rachel Ray’s recipe I got a little fancy with the cheeses, reducing the sharp cheddar to 2 cups and added 1 cup gruyere and 1 cup fontina. If you’re looking to keep it simple and cut cost, you could stick with the cheddar and it will still be delicious. https://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipe/14747_Freezer_To_Oven_Mac_n_Cheese

Next: Check your equipment

There is actually a fair amount of kitchen equipment needed to make all the recipes as they are designed. To follow the full menu you’ll need:

  • Blender
  • Waffle Iron
  • Instant Pot
  • Slow Cooker
  • Immersion Blender

Next: Make your Ingredient List -> Shopping List

Here is the full list of ingredients required. You’ll then want to cross-check with your pantry/fridge so you don’t overbuy, and you’ll end up with your shopping list.

Dairy:

  • 14 eggs
  • 1/2cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 packs of salted butter
  • 1 pack unsalted butter
  • 1 carton whole milk
  • 1 carton reduced fat milk
  • 1 carton almond milk
  • 15oz ricotta
  • 2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 plain yogurt (I like Siggis brand or Fage)
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup fontina cheese

Meat:

  • 4lbs skinless chicken breast
  • 8oz ground turkey
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2lb flank steak
  • 20oz ground beef
  • 12 chicken drumsticks (if you are also doing x2, otherwise just 6)
  • 1 chuck roast (3-4lbs)

Fruit and Veggies:

  • 1 apple
  • 3 yellow onion
  • 3 garlic (20 cloves)
  • ginger
  • 2.5lbs carrots
  • 1.5lbs potatoes
  • 1cup diced mushrooms
  • 2 bunches bananas
  • 2 packs frozen strawberries
  • 2 cups broccoli (or frozen)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 jalepeno
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 green pepper
  • pack of blueberries
  • 1 lime

Pantry Items:

  • Cashews (3/4 cup)
  • Coconut Flour
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • 2 containers rolled oats
  • 1 container quick cook oats
  • olive oil
  • 1lb pasta – cavatappi
  • Brewers Yeast (I bought mine on Amazon)
  • Baking Soda
  • Dark chocolate Chips
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Brown Sugar
  • Slivered Almonds
  • Brown Rice
  • 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 24oz pasta sauce
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 24oz can crushed tomato
  • 1/2 cup bone broth
  • 2 boxes beef stock
  • powdered beef bouillon
  • almond butter
  • 1 jar peanut butter
  • Reduced Sodium Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Constarch
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • dried thyme
  • herbes de provance
  • onion powder
  • ground celery seed
  • cumin

Freezer Meal Supplies:

  • Plastic Freezer Bags – Gallon size
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic Wrap
  • 4 aluminum 9×13 pans with lids
  • Sharpie

Next: Clean

I recommend cleaning out your freezer and your fridge, to make room for all the great food you’ll be buying, cooking and storing.

Its also great to start the actual prep day with a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher 🙂

Next: Go Shopping

I personally find grocery shopping to be very fun, however that may just be me. This shopping trip may be overwhelming due to the expense, but just remember that the time and money spent now will be saved later, when your time will be even more valuable. There are two steps that need to be done the night before prep so if you are shopping the day ahead of prep (which I did) you’ll want to get this Night Before Prep done, likely right after you put all your delicious groceries away.

Next: Night Before Prep

There are two quick steps to complete for the Apple-Cinnamon Oat Bake and Low-Carb Waffles the night before prep.

Oat-Bake Prep : Combine 6 cups old fashioned rolled oats, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, 8 cups water, and 1 cup walnuts in a big bowl. Cover and let soak overnight.

Waffle Prep: Cover 3/4 cup raw cashews in water and soak overnight (or 8 hrs)

Then get some sleep mama

Good Morning!

Well I assume you’re starting prep day bright and early – get some coffee! (maybe decaffeinated) and here we go!

First I made the waffles and the Apple Oat Bake, its great to get a couple dishes crossed off the list right off the bat.

For the waffles:

  1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, then add them to a high-powered blender
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, to the blender:
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 3 tablespoons Sugar (or leave out for savory waffles)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or leave out for savory waffles)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • pinch salt
  3. Start by blending on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high, then back down to low.
  4. Blend until completely smooth.
  5. Pour into your waffle maker, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Everyone told me I’d never use my waffle maker when I registered for it before getting married, but I use it all the time – waffle junkie!)
  6. Add cooled waffles to freezer bag – to reheat, just pop in toaster oven (or actual oven) until warm and crispy!

For the Apple-Cinnamon Oat Bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Drain oats through a fine sieve. Rinse and allow to drain again.
  3. Dice one apple
  4. In a big mixing bowl, whisk together butter, milk, eggs, sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Add oats and mix well. Add the apples (you can also add raisins and coconut now if desired, I omitted.) Mix in gently.
  5. Transfer to a greased 9” x 13” baking dish (or two 8” square cake pans). Smooth the top.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Add bars to freezer bag!

Next: Chop and Cook!

I like to get all the vegetables chopped and ready so that when I actually do the cooking (or assembling) its easy and everything is ready to go. So put some good music on and get going…

Delicious healthy result 🙂
  • Cut all carrots into 1″ sticks – separate into 2.5 piles
  • Core, halve and thinly slice fennel
  • Dice mushrooms
  • Chop 2 onions, keep separated
  • Halve & thinly slice 3rd onion (I love when the onion is done – I always cry!)
  • Chop green pepper and jalepeno
  • Mince 20 medium garlic cloves (no need to keep separated, each clove is ~1 tsp)
  • Peel ginger and cut 5 slices, take a 2″ piece and dice (keep separate from slices)
  • If using fresh broccoli for the Beef and Broccoli dish (as I did) cut into florets and wash
  • Slice oranges into 1/4″ thick rounds

I held off on the potatoes, because I didn’t want them to get browned, and we’re not quite ready for them yet. First we move on to some cooking!

  • Cook 1 cup brown rice (I used wild rice, 1 cup uncooked)
  • Make the dry onion Soup mix, measure out the 4 Tbsp needed for the Pot Roast and store the rest
  • Make the homemade cream of mushroom soup
  • Peel at least 1½ lbs potatoes and cut into about 1″ thick rounds, I used more – ~3lbs of potatoes
  • Next I chose to blanch the potatoes, which should help them hold up in the freezer. Essentially simmer them in water for 5 minutes, drain and set them aside so they can cool completely – the outside edges should be cooked, but the centers should still be hard
  • Now my least favorite step – trim all the boneless chicken breast. This is optional, but I always trim my chicken to remove any big chunks of fat, hard tendons, etc – separate into 2 piles
  • Cube one of the chicken piles (~2lbs) keep the other as full breasts
  • Then wash your hands!

At this point, you’re all prepped and can move on to….

Next: Make the meals!

I started with the Lemon Garlic Drumsticks.

  • Write cooking instructions on the bags – Thaw overnight, cook at 375 degrees in casserole dish for about 45 to 55 minutes.
  • Rinse and dry 12 drumsticks (for a double batch) and separate 6 and 6 into 2 bags
  • Put the following in each bag: 3 tsp garlic, 2 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp sea salt, zest on 1 lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 Tbl olive oil, lots of ground pepper
  • Seal and shake the bags to mix

Cross it off the list!

Next I made Slow-Cooker Pot Roast (assuming your potatoes are cooled).

  • The Pot Roast can be stored in an aluminum baking dish or a 2-gallon freezer bag, it will be too big for a 1 gallon bag (especially if you went for 3lbs of potatoes as I did). Write cooking instructions on bag or lid of freezer dish – Thaw overnight, add to slow cooker and cover, cook on low for at least 8 hours, preferably 10.
  • Layer the ingredients as follows: Homemade dry onion soup mix and Homemade cream of mushroom soup at the bottom, half the potatoes and carrots (1 pile of carrots for this recipe), next place the chuck roast on top of the vegetables, place the remaining vegetables on top and around the chuck roast.

Third I made the Fennel Chicken w/Orange.

  • Write cooking instructions on the bag – Thaw overnight, cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and carrots are very tender. Discard the orange slices after cooking.
  • Layer everything in this order: 3 Tbl olive oil, 1 tsp herbes de provance, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 3/4 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp garlic, orange slices, 1 pile carrots, chicken breast (not the cubed chicken), 1 Tbl Apple cider vinegar, fennel, 1 sliced onion – done!

Next Cheesy Taco Bake which was hard to resist eating on the spot – ok, ok I did eat a small bowl, we need to have some lunch amidst all this prep!

  • Write cooking instructions on cover of aluminum baking dish – cook while frozen, cover with foil & bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil & bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted & edges are bubbling.
  • Spray dish with EVOO, set aside.
  • Measure out spices – 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice, 2 T Chili Powder, 1 tsp Oregano, ½ tsp Thyme, 2 tsp cumin (I cut cumin in half to 1 tsp), 1/3 cup chopped Cilantro
  • In a 12” skillet, heat EVOO over medium-high heat, add 1 onion, 3 tsp garlic, jalapeno & sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add 20oz ground beef, breaking it up as it browns. Cook for about 5 minutes & add green peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
  • Add lime juice and spices. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Remove from heat – add rice, 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce, & 1/4 cup of cheese to the skillet and stir to mix well. Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar
  • Allow to cool, cover, and freeze

Dish #7 – Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

  • Write cooking instructions on the freezer bag – thaw and dump contents in crockpot and cook for 4-6 hours on low.
  • Add ingredients to freezer bag (Make sure to get rid of any extra air in the bag) – 8 chicken thighs, 1 c. teriyaki sauce, 1 c. filtered water, 2/3 c. light brown sugar, 3 tsp garlic, ginger slices

Now take a moment and be glad that you are more than halfway done!

Next I made the Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. This is one is actually a little high maintenance but I expect it will be worth it. You need to get your IP out to do some cooking.

  • Write cooking instructions on the freezer bag – thaw overnight and heat in oven to desired temperature
  • Measure out spices – 1 tablespoon butter or ghee, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 Tbl garam masala, 2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp tumeric, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • Press the Saute button on your Instant Pot and add the butter/ghee and coconut oil to melt.
  • Add the diced onion and saute 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices and stir, cooking about 1 minute, until fragrant. 
  • Then add 7 tsp garlic, ginger, 24 oz can crushed tomatoes, and 1/2 cup bone broth.
  • Place the cubed chicken breast into the Instant Pot, submerging it under the tomato-spice mixture.
  • Lock the lid, make sure the vent is sealed, and press the Manual button. Adjust the time to 10 minutes. When the Instant Pot beeps, release the pressure immediately.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces from the sauce, place into the freezer bag
  • Stir in the almond butter and yogurt.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the tomato sauce until smooth and thick.
  • Add sauce to the freezer bag and stir – keep bag open and allow dish to fully cool before sealing

Next an easy one, Dish #9 – Beef & Broccoli

  • Write cooking instructions on freezer bag – Thaw and cook on low for 3-4 hours (recommended pairing – 2 cups brown rice not included here)
  • Mix beef and sauce ingredients – 2lb. flank steak, 1 box beef broth, 1/2 c. soy sauce, 1/3 c. light brown sugar, 2 tsp garlic, 1 Tbl sesame oil, 2 Tbl cornstarch
  • If you bought fresh broccoli, place in its own gallon freezer bag – if frozen, put 2 c. into bag with beef and sauce.

Moving right along I chose to tackle the Turkey Lasagna next – I have a feeling this will be one of the first dishes we eat post-baby.

  • First cook 1 package of lasagna noodles.
  • While cooking, write the cooking instructions on the cover of a 9×13″ aluminum baking dish – cook frozen, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Brown 8 oz turkey in a skillet and mix in the 24oz. jar of pasta sauce. Season with salt, pepper, 2 Tbl onion powder, and 2 Tbl garlic powder.
  • In a bowl, combine 2 eggs with 15 oz. container ricotta, 1/2 c. parmsean, and half of mozarella and mix well. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.
    Cook noodles as directed and lay flat out on wax paper sheets. Place 1 tbsp of meat mix on the noodle and spread evenly.
    Place 1 tbsp of the cheese mixture and spread evenly.
    Gently roll up the noodle carefully, top with remaining mozzarella, and freeze

Now for the Lactation goodies – Smoothie Packs and Cookies. I completed these in tandem, while waiting for a batch of cookies to bake I would throw together a smoothie bag or two.

Lactation Cookies

  • First pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Now make the cookie batter!
  • In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 1/2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour, 5 Tbl brewers yeast, 3 Tbl ground flaxseed, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the 12 Tbl organic unsalted butter and 4 Tbl coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in 1 1/2 c. sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract and beat until combined again.
  • Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed. Stir in 1 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  • Scoop the dough into rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden.
  • Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
  • For me, this made about 40 cookies 🙂

Smoothie Bags

  • To make each pack place 1 banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup almond milk in a ziplock bag.
  • Sprinkle in flax seeds.

Now, at this point, I decided to call it a day. My 2 year-old was running around wondering why mommy hadn’t played with him all day, I was tired, and truthfully I was satisfied with all the meals I had completed. However, if you are a super trooper and want to finish off the full 13 meals – the last one is Mac & Cheese.

  • The first thing to do is grate all the cheese. For me, that was 2 c. sharp cheddar chesse, 1 c. gruyere and 1 c. fontina
  • Next be sure to write the cooking instructions on the cover of the aluminum foil dish – go straight from the freezer into in a 400F oven. Cook for 1 hour, covered with foil, then take the foil off and bake for another 15-20 minutes to brown the top.
  • Cook 1 lb cavatappi pasta (or other type) until just shy of al dente
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium-size skillet over medium heat and add the 3 Tbl butter.
  • When the butter melts, add the 3 Tbl flour and cook about a minute.
  • Whisk in the 3 c. milk, season with salt and ground black pepper, and bring up to a bubble.
  • Turn the burner off and stir in the cheeses in a figure-eight motion until it’s all melted.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it well and combine with sauce. Pour into baking dish and allow to cool be fore covering/freezing.

That’s it! You’re done and should feel great about setting yourself (and your family) up for some delicious, nutritious meals for after your bundle of joy arrives.

Success! Delicious success!

Now, you likely have some cleaning up to do – but hopefully not too bad. Then, make sure to sit down and relax and feel accomplished! In a normal meal prep, I might celebrate with a glass a wine, but given the whole pregnancy thing in this case, I chose a decaf cappuccino and couple of lactation cookies instead. Ahhhhh…….