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Nothing to do With Food

Sometimes my posts are all about food and fitness, other times they are more personal and more like a therapy journal for me. This is a journal post, so keep scrolling if you are here for the food. 🙂

“God never gives you more than you can handle.” I heard this phrase growing up so often. I am not sure who started it or when I first heard it, but it created a false belief that I almost deserved the bad things that were happening in my life. I understand why someone would say such a thing…my best guess is that whoever started this was trying to build the person’s self-esteem and make them feel as though they could conquer anything. When you are told that you can handle any and every bad situation that comes your way, no matter how terrible on your own you, begin to question your faith and your ability.

I started to write this blog post at the beginning of the shutdown in Georgia when I thought things were hard. I was trying to figure out how to keep my children happy, plan for this new virtual teaching experience (which teaching math without a whiteboard is HARD for me), teach with said bored children, keep the house clean, stay on top of double the laundry and food demands, pregnant, stressed, temporarily closed businesses, etc. I thought things were difficult then, but it still didn’t feel like this post fit into my life just yet and I was right. I wasn’t experiencing a truly difficult season yet. I am happy to say that I am out of that difficult season now and feel so much better than at the start of all this craziness.

In my prayers, I always thank God for my husband, children, other family members, friends, say a prayer for patience, and to be humble. I pray specifically for my husband and children daily. Sometimes the prayer is the same…keep them safe, get us back home safe, I thank God for giving them to me to take care of and them to take care of me, and I pray for them to be happy and successful in whatever they encounter that day. Other times it is more specific depending on the circumstances. When we found out we were expecting number 3 (who still does not have a name) he was added to that list of thank-yous and prayers for safety. I am always thankful for the life being created inside of me and pray that he will be happy and healthy like his siblings. I never thought that I would add to that list of prayers, please don’t let my son have Down Syndrome, but I found myself in that place almost five weeks ago.

After the genetic and DNA testing, thoughts of there being a developmental issue with our littlest boy did not cross my mind. We went in for a regular ultrasound and everything looked great. He was measuring just right and my placenta looked perfect. With Anderson my placenta calcified, so I made sure to ask about that. After they said everything looked good, I was not concerned.

Then I got a call about 3 o’clock and they asked me to come back in to discuss an issue. I cried, I knew it wasn’t good…I was really hoping that maybe they found a second heartbeat instead of a life-threatening issue. Instead, it was what I knew in the back of my mind. They saw something that did not look just right and frankly went over my head and teaching degree. A cyst, a lack in symmetry with the ventricles, something along those lines…all I knew is there could be something wrong, but we could not be given any definite answers until we saw a specialist. It took almost 2 weeks to get an appointment with the specialist. I was thinking in two weeks I would see the specialist, that I would have answers soon.

This whole pandemic has felt like nothing but worry and wait. We have spent so much time fretting over things that cannot be changed. I was determined to not let myself fret over something that I had no control over. I can change my kids’ schedule around and be more patient during quiet time to get them to nap, but I cannot control if the child growing inside of me has a developmental issue or not. I was not going to let the negative thoughts of ‘what did I do wrong’ creep into my head. I refused to let myself think that I somehow deserved a more difficult hand, because of my past actions.

Five weeks is a long time to wait to find out if what you are facing is going to be hard or extra hard. The nurse said that I could call and ask for an earlier appointment, but I felt like being patient was the best route. Throughout this whole pandemic, I have focused on patience and the reward that comes with being patient. Five weeks is a long time to be patient, but it is also a lot of time for him to grow and develop. It meant time for whatever might have been wrong to clear up and be gone or be definite by the time of my level 2 ultrasound. Granted some things cannot be detected and he could possibly have a developmental issue when he is born, but I wanted whatever they saw on the ultrasound to be gone.

Raising two children is hard (especially right now) and often times I feel as though I am failing at that. How was I going to juggle giving them the attention they deserved and needed, while giving extra attention to a child that needed it more? I already have mom-guilt with my children not getting 100% of my attention and not giving Anderson more time to be the only child. During this five-week stretch when my two would do something crazy, I thought of the patience I would need with the third. I wondered if I would let them get away with more because my attention would be elsewhere. I wondered how I would explain to them that their brother is different and why/how they needed to treat him.

I am a long-term thinker and planner, I don’t just think of what can immediately happen. I thought about the therapies needed, the insurance, the special things he may or may not need, I thought about the opportunities he would not have, and the opportunities my other two might miss out on. My two children looked identical when they were born. I wondered if he would look extremely different or the same. I wondered if he would be able to nurse. There were so many things I was ignorant about, but I would not let myself get lost in Google searches, I had to stop thinking and just pray.

Every time I thought about what could be, I prayed. I prayed more than I have ever prayed before in my life. Things that would have normally bothered me, were no longer an issue. My thoughts, prayers, and energy were focused on bigger things. I needed to focus my attention on what was the most important thing happening and be persistent in my prayers and thinking until I could find out for certain what was going on. The only thing I did end up Googling were prayers to pray over my unborn child. I ended up sticking with my own heartfelt prayers, but never did I chase any rabbits on the internet to see what my life might have in store. I was trusting that it would all work out. I didn’t want to give up hope and felt guilty at times for asking for my child to be born without Down Syndrome. I am not sure why I felt so guilty asking for something so specific as if me asking for it to not happen, it would happen as a test of faith or I was weak and selfish for wanting my child to be “normal”.

I am happy to say that according to the specialist we saw, the baby with no name (maybe Sawyer), has a great looking head. She saw no indicators that would make her question the possibility of Down Syndrome. Even with her positive attitude and kind words, I feel as though I am going to be holding my breath a bit until he gets here, which is really a normal feeling. Having a child growing inside of you is comparable to no other task. You are entrusted to take care of someone that you cannot see and do not feel for a long time, yet would die for. You are expected to be extra careful in daily activities, cease all body-harming recreational habits (alcohol), refrain from a lot of foods that you would normally have (raw fish, cold deli meat, too much salmon, etc.), take only specific medicines, stay in shape (but don’t work out too hard), eat more (but don’t get fat), and the list goes on forever. You do all the right things in hopes that your child will come into this world “blemish-free” and get all the opportunities you never had and that your current children have. In the end, you can do all of the right things, but can only control so much of what happens.

Worry about nothing, pray about everything.

Some things are truly just out of your control and you can only focus your thoughts and energy on those things you can manipulate. For those things that you cannot change, pray about them, be patient, and you will get through it. You do not stay stuck in one season forever, the seasons of life do change, but you have to be diligent and mindful during those times on making choices that could impact you negatively down the road.


New Food Review:

Lemon Parmesan Salmon + Corn Tomato and Avocado Salad Oh my goodness, I didn’t think I would like salmon any other way than how we normally cook it, but this was great. High protein, low carb, low fat 👌🏼This left all the room for some good snacks. Usually, I like salmon our way and try to never deviate from it, but this was too good not to try. I made the corn salad with the yogurt as the recipe said for supper, but opted to go without the yogurt for lunch the next day. The yogurt wasn’t bad, just left a taste in my mouth that I wasn’t a fan of. Without the yogurt, the salmon and salad had such a fresh taste to it. I left the corn and chickpeas cold both times, next time I’m going to roast them and then top off with the tomatoes and herbs. I can’t wait to eat this again!


M E N U


Roasted Chicken with Lemon + Oregano

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

BLT Chopped Salad + Corn, Avocado, Feta

Spaghetti


Roasted Chicken with Lemon + Oregano

I have not cooked this meal in a very long time, like years. When Josh and I were first married, we cooked legs and thighs ALL the time. I love dark meat so much more than white meat…but more fat. Right now, Josh is working out more and I am pregnant so our calories have been upped. Wahoo! This means, I don’t have to use chicken breast right now, I can use the dark meat!

I will likely add some rice just to round out the meal and to soak up some of the juices. If you are watching your fat intake, I would use chicken breast. Cover the skillet while the chicken cooks and the breast will not dry out as easily. I am going to see how cooking this dish in a cast-iron pan works on the RecTec Grill.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1 lemon
4 large or 8 small skin-on, boneless chicken thighs
*Chicken breasts, if watching your fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
*spray pan and chicken with olive oil
3 sprigs oregano
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
*1/2-1 whole depedning on amount of chicken used

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

I put up a whole bunch of squash and zucchini when companies were selling it by the bushel a month or two ago. I have used squash and it is just as good as zucchini.

This pasta was everything I expected and so much more the first time I made it. I had planned to add chicken to the dish the first time I made it, but left it as a side and ate a steak with it instead. If you are a vegetarian then PLEASE give this a try! And if you aren’t vegetarian, try it too!

I was a little skeptical of this dish with so few ingredients, but it was delicious and more flavorful than I was expecting! The great thing about this pasta dish is there is no cream used. The cream comes from the mashed zucchini, butter, and cheese. Healthy-ish.

I am going to add chicken to the dish this time. Due to the lack of chicken breast in stores, if I can’t find enough chicken breast I will use shrimp instead.

I discovered carba-nada pasta a while back and I can’t tell you just how happy I am to find a substitute for pasta that isn’t a vegetable. It has 15 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams of fat per servings. It really is so good! I don’t mind spaghetti squash with my spaghetti, because it is chunky and loaded with other vegetables. For just a regular pasta dish, I don’t want mushy noodles. I want some consistency with my noodles. Carba-nada was the answer to this solution.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 pound pasta, use your favorite cut
*carba-nada pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil
3-4 medium zucchini and or yellow summer squash, chopped
*6-7 depending on size
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper 
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese
* 3/4 reduced fat Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
lemon juice, for serving (optional)
*meat of choice on the side or mixed in with the pasta

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

The first time I made this, it was solely for my husband. I am NOT a casserole girl. I don’t like the idea of all the mayonnaise and cream of whatever people typically use in casseroles. This recipe has neither, so I was excited to give it a try. He is a true lover of casseroles with all mayonnaise and cream of whatever though.

I put my own spin on this and it turned out to be so great and healthy! I was so surprised, I have made this several times since and have even made it for a few friends. It is a great comfort dish without all the guilt.

This is not easy to track because it is all mixed together. There is no way that each piece cut will have the same amount of chicken or cheese. It will be precise on the macros but the slices themselves won’t be 100%.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
*10-20 ounces baby carrots sliced
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons salted butter
*1 tablespoon
1 1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
*1 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta (use gluten free, if needed)
*omit 
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for topping
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
*2 cups
3 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup whole milk or canned coconut milk
*non fat milk 
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*100-180 grams depending on how cheesey you want it to be

BLT Chopped Salad + Corn, Avocado, Feta

This is one of my go-to bowls or salads. This always ends up being a rice bowl for me, with chicken added in for extra protein.

I planned poorly before and ended up using leftover shrimp and steak the next day for lunch and that was the best choice I ever made! So, if you happen to hate chicken breast or want a change, you can definitely use shrimp or steak instead or a mix of all three. 🙂

This recipe is very simple and does not have a dressing. I was very unsure of how this would taste with a little seasoning and chicken. Honestly, I was pretty surprised at how great it was. Whether you choose to use chicken, steak, or shrimp it will be great. Lime juice and sea salt really go a long way in a bowl like this.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
2 cups butter lettuce, chopped
*lettuce or rice for a bowl option
2 cups fresh arugula, chopped
*1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked rice per bowl 
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
*10 tomatoes per salad
4 slices thick-cut bacon, fried and crumbled
*0.5 - 0.8 ounces cooked bacon per salad 
1 cup sweet corn
*pan seared sweet corn 40-60 grams per salad  
1 avocado, chopped
*0.5- 1 ounce per salad 
4 ounces feta, crumbled
*non-fat feta 
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
*omit oil 
1 lime, juiced
1/4 tablespoons salt
1/4 tablespoons pepper 
*cooked chicken breast

Spaghetti

The spaghetti sauce I use is adapted from a bolognese lasagna sauce. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables.

To make the sauce, dice the onion and bell pepper, and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan (mushrooms are not in the lasagna). Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.

Stir in the milk and wine, if you are going to put those in. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine but have recently opted out of putting it in, to simply cut down on the calories. Save the wine and just drink it. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.

I like to add dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand. I don’t use noodles anymore with my spaghetti. If you still want noodles, Carba-nada is a great low-carbohydrate noodle option!

Once I tried spaghetti squash I never went back. It really is not that difficult to make. I cut my squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven on 425 degrees until I can stick a skewer all the way through the squash to the outside (not through the outside). I allow the squash to cool and then use a fork to scrape noddle-like strands out of the squash. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat.

Ingredients:  
4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup)
3 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
8 ounces Mushrooms (diced) 
2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically and always have leftovers for the kids)
8 ounces Whole Milk (optional)
4 ounces Red Wine (optional)
Italian Herbs 
2-3 spaghetti squash or noodles of your choice

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