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Well, I took my first ever week off from blogging since I started this little site over two years ago. If you don’t know, I had a c-section on Monday and welcomed ‘baby Thomas’ into the family. It was a long couple of days in the hospital and we are so glad to be home. Anderson (now 5) and Scarlett (2.5) were so excited and are in love with their little brother.

skin-to-skin with Daddy
Scarlett is over the moon with her little brother
Real life, first day back home.

The “new” is starting to wear off and they are less interested in being right up against him and touching him at all times. They make sure to gather in whatever room he and I are in while he nurses, but keep their distance for the most part. There have been a few tears to have him right up next to them while they eat supper, but it has been a pretty smooth transition so far.

Those late-night feedings and pumping sessions allow for a lot of extra thinking time. With Anderson my time was spent researching like a mad-woman, reading every article about schedules, nursing, becoming a google-doctor, sleeping in the recliner/on the floor/in the crib, etc. My extra time with Scarlett was spent pacing and pacing and pacing the house. With Thomas, my extra awake time is spent just thinking and trying to keep myself awake, but not too awake during those late-night, super early hours in the morning.

Lately, my thoughts have led me to wonder how we are measuring up as parents of three. My goal since I learned Thomas’ due date (the day before Anderson’s birthday) was to make sure Anderson did not feel snubbed. For some reason, Scarlett has never been a concern for me when it comes to feeling left out. She has such a giant personality and has been really pumped about having ‘baby Thomas’, as she has dubbed him, join us that I had no worries about her feeling left out. She became extra affectionate with her babies and took to him so well, she is really mesmerized by him. Anderson regressed when Scarlett was born and this led me to expect some regression or changes in behavior when Thomas came into the picture.

I didn’t want Anderson to feel overshadowed yet again and this time with another sibling coming into the picture right at his birthday…I just couldn’t let him feel any less important. Even with the extra attention, there were still behaviors, temper-tantrums, all the fun things. I tried to (still trying to) remind myself that these behaviors are attention-seeking behaviors and not how they would typically act. Having Thomas in the picture only amplifies normal behaviors and brings up new attention-seeking negative behaviors.

So in my spare time, in two to three-hour intervals at night, I think of how I can make things easier for the kids and myself. I wonder how I am measuring up on transitioning our family from two kids to three kids, without taking away time from Anderson and Scarlett. I know things have to change, there are going to have to be more sacrifices made, and a new normal created. You certainly can’t look to Instagram or Facebook for how others are handling these types of adjustments, because that is not reality. No one puts their worst moments on display for all to judge.

In this season of life, I am not in the business of comparing my victories and failures to others though. I don’t raise my children like every other mom does, so a head to head comparison would leave me feeling less-than. I am not here to please anyone else or seek the approval of those around me on what is best for my family. I will get plenty of advice on how to handle things, even though this is my third time, and those that think they know best will overstep. I know the advice comes from a good place, but sometimes what we really need in a season of change is a listening ear, a helping hand, or just a simple acknowledgment.

I am guilty of comparing my life to those around me and those I see on social media. I have caught myself being envious of their situations and the hand that life has dealt them. No one or situation is comparable to the life that I have. Things in life might not be ideal right now, but they are so good. Things might be hard, but I am so grateful. Perspective is everything and is as difficult as we want it to be.

During my c-section, I was advised that having any more children would not be a good idea. When I heard those words I could have broken down. I wanted to cry. I was listening to my child cry for the first time and at the same time being told that this is the last time you will have this feeling. I felt guilty for wanting to cry tears of sadness and disappointment rather than tears of joy. I talked to a nurse today at Thomas’ first doctor’s appointment who was comforting Thomas while I filled out his paperwork. I asked her if she had any kids and she said no but really wanted them. She went on to tell me about her multiple miscarriages and still-births. Then, she asked me if we were done having babies. At that moment I felt so ungrateful for wanting more children and feeling sorry for myself when I have been so blessed with three healthy babies.

When the doctor told me how “tomato-skin-thin” my uterus was, I wanted to feel sorry for myself rather than celebrate the life that I had created, the overwhelming feeling of disappointment didn’t last long but I still wish the news was different. It felt like it sucked the life out of me at that moment, but I had to push that aside and quickly gain perspective. I am so grateful for the family Josh and I have made. I am so in love with our children and over the moon with my supportive husband. Perspective is everything. You can wallow in self-pity or be grateful for the opportunity to go through your current season of life and learn from it. Not all get the chance to experience your struggle and long for the opportunity to go through what feels like a hard season of life.


M E N U

Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Chicken in Cider Pan Sauce + Mashed Cauliflower

Healthy Taco Dish

Bourbon Burgers +  Sweet Potato Fries

Brisket Tacos

Healthy Turkey Chili


Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Chicken in Cider Pan Sauce + Mashed Cauliflower

I might regret attempting to cook this week, but this dish seems simple enough to make and I can’t keep eating the same old thing. I will let you know the final verdict of this dish next week.

I am going to make some adjustments so it is a little more healthy. Instead of using the mashed cauliflower recipe that goes with this dish, I am going to use the one I normally turn to when I make mashed cauliflower. The macros will be much more friendly. I am not currently strictly tracking since I am nursing, but my husband is, so I have to still keep the macros in check on my recipes.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
*reduced fat ricotta
1/4 cup shredded gouda cheese
*omit
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
kosher salt and pepper
4-6 skin-on, chicken breasts  (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit
3 small shallots, halved
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup cremini mushrooms, halved, if large
*8 ounces
2 tablespoons salted butter
*1 tsblespoon
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
*1/2 cup
1/2 cup apple cider

MASHED CAULIFLOWER
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons salted butter

**Cauliflower Mash: 
2 small heads cauliflower cored and leaves removed and cut into small florets 
2 cups chicken broth 
Reduced Fat Parmesan 72g 
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Healthy Taco Dish

This will be my second new recipe this week. At the end of my pregnancy, I stayed away from new dishes, because I literally could not eat without getting indigestion and just felt horrible most of the time. I haven’t made anything new in a while, so I am itching to find some new good healthy recipes.

This is a taco casserole, but I am going to leave the rice out so that can be added on its own according to each person’s macro needs. I think this could even be thrown in a tortilla and be great. The recipe also does not want you to strain your meat before adding in the vegetables, but I am going to cook the meat, strain in, weigh it, then add in the vegetables. I am going to do this so I can get an accurate weight on my meat, rather than straining after I add in the vegetables. You might want to strain a second time once the vegetables are cooked to get out the excess water from the vegetables.

If you are adding rice to the mixture while it cooks in the oven, you will need to add the broth. If you are going to add rice to each serving after it has cooked, then you will not need the broth. The vegetables and tomatoes will prevent the meat and veggies from drying out. If there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid to your liking, add in 1/2 to 1 cup of broth. You don’t want it to be soupy, but don’t want it to dry out either.

Remember that the changes I make are not only for macros but also to ensure that I have at least 4 servings for two very hungry adults, plus some extra for the kids. We eat these meals for lunch and supper. Leftovers are great for tracking macros, since you already know what the macros are!

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
*20 ounces or chopped chicken breast
½ medium onion, diced
*1 onion
1 small bell pepper, diced
*4-5 ounces
2 small zucchini, diced
*3 squash or zucchini 
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
2 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning (or store-bought)
1 (14-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 ¾ cups beef broth
*beef or chicken depending on meat used and if adding rice
½ cup frozen corn
*80 grams sweet corn
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
*cooked separately  
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, divided
*20-30 grams fiesta cheese per serving
Optional toppings: Salsa, diced avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, pickled jalapenos, etc.

Bourbon Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries

B E S T burger I have ever had is from Liam’s in Thomasville and it is back on their menu. I am still trying to perfect our burger to match theirs. They are well known for their cheese, so it was not just your basic cheeseburger by any stretch of the imagination. Usually, we don’t eat cheeseburgers and try to keep it super healthy, but every now and then we do. I would be happy just to recreate their method of cooking the burger and onions. Josh started adding in bourbon to the burgers, because he loves bourbon, and it was the best choice. Literally, the best burgers he has ever cooked.

Hamburgers will never go out of style and can be healthy if you don’t smother them in cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise. When I track my hamburger I weigh out my meat after it has cooked. This is controversial in the world of tracking food, but I think that it makes sense. The fat is going to cook out of the meat, so I don’t actually end up eating all of the fat that was originally in the raw meat.

I am going to add some sweet potato fries with the hamburgers for the kids. I will eat them as a snack later on, but not with this meal. You can always mix a packet of ranch seasoning with non-fat Greek yogurt to dip the sweet potato fries in for a healthy snack.

Hamburgers have your fats, protein, and carbs (if you eat a bun). The only thing I do is eat a second hamburger patty without a bun to get in more protein. Macro-wise there is no reason to add a side dish. I know everyone loves fries with their hamburger but you are doing some major calorie intake if you do that.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients
Hamburgers: 
80/20 meat- onion powder, garlic powder, season all, chili powder, 1-2 tablespoons burbon, pepper 
Brioche buns 
Heirloom tomatoes 
Lettuce 
Onion 
Yellow mustard 
Ketchup 
Pickles 

Fries: 
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
*spray olive oil 
2 tablespoons cornstarch
*omit
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
fine sea salt, to taste

Brisket Tacos

I have eaten brisket tacos more times in the past few weeks than I would like to admit, but they are just that good. I thought that leftover brisket was best served in an omelet but after making these tacos I no longer think that. Josh loves to cook brisket because it is difficult meat to cook and he wants to perfect the method, so anytime we have a get-together he puts in to cook a brisket. It is a pricey piece of meat, but it ends up going a long way even after it is eaten by a large group of people.

The first time we had these tacos, had some leftover brisket from The Fourth of July and decided to throw some into tacos. I had some leftover Verde from that week and random toppings. Honestly, they ended up being some top quality tacos. I wasn’t expecting to like them as much as I did.

We kept the tacos super simple, but they ended up being so delicious. To make the Verde roast the tomatillos, garlic, green onion, and jalapeno in the oven until the tomatillos are tender and soft, 20-25 minutes on 425 degrees. Throw the roasted tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and green onions into the blender with the juice of one lime and cilantro.

Ingredients: 
beef brisket, smoked to temperature

Toppings: 
1 raw red onion, diced
7-10 grams fiesta blend cheese per taco
fresh cilantro, chopped 
fresh jalapeño, diced 
squeeze of lime per taco
low carb/high fiber tortilla 

Tomatillo Sauce:
6 small tomatillos, husked 
*verde if you can’t find tomatillos 
1 jalapeño 
4 green onions 
juice of 1 lime 
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 

Healthy Turkey Chili

You would not think that chili could be on a “cut-diet” but I assure you that it can. If you keep watch on the number of calories that you are taking in throughout the day, you can still have great “normal” food. There is no need to starve yourself to lose weight! Promise. This also means, do not throw any extras into this chili, like cheese, crackers and/or sour cream. Those extras will add up very quickly and you will be in a bad spot.

Keep in mind when you look at my changes that I am making enough for my kids to eat (hopefully, kids can be so picky) and for Josh and myself to have for supper and lunch. Typically this can easily get around 7 large servings. Each serving is 391 calories, 35.6 grams of protein, 25.2 grams of carbohydrates, and 16.5 grams of fat.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
*2-3 pounds 80/20 or ground venison
1 bell pepper -red, green, yellow or orange 
*6-7 ounces of green bell pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
*4 cans fire roasted tomatoes  
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
*2 cans black beans 
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Garnish (optional)
shredded, low fat cheddar cheese
*Omit
fresh parsley 

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