BYTES of Informationon Motherhood, Food, Fitness & Real Life

Motherhood is So Glamorous

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Before becoming a mother, it was rare I would have a day with three to four wardrobe changes. However, since having my baby, this is a regular occurrence. I feel like some sort of celebrity, constantly putting on one outfit and an hour later changing it entirely, and repeating this over and over again. Except I am not changing into glamorous outfits or making repeat changes for a photo shoot. Instead, these wardrobe changes are a bit more impromptu if you will. For instance, let’s take yesterday for example.

I woke up, got ready for the day, made Joey breakfast and was instantly covered in mashed banana. A few hours later, after a wardrobe change, I found myself covered yet again in banana. But this time it wasn’t thanks to Joey testing out his throwing arm from the highchair. No, this time was much, much better. He vomited the banana (and cereal and eggs) all over me. As I stripped both him and me down and ran around the house practically naked (and hoping no one was coming to the door or looking in the windows), I was able to at least take solace in the fact that I would yet again be able to try out a new outfit.

After quickly selecting another ensemble to wear, I realized maybe I should just have stayed undressed as I was quickly covered in poop thanks to an exploding diaper. After yet another load of laundry, a new outfit, and a quick dinner, it was finally bedtime for Joey (and bath time for me!).

Just another day in the land of motherhood – and yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Refreshing Spinach Berry Salad

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Since it’s about zero degrees outside and the ground is covered with snow, I wanted to make a meal that reminds me of warmer weather days and sunshine! And what better way to do that than with an easy spinach berry salad!

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This salad is so simple to make, tastes great, and is packed full of iron, folic acid, and calcium- all nutrients essential to new moms (and pregnant moms too!). It’s originally my sister’s recipe and has always been a huge hit at parties, so I figured why not scale it down a bit in portion to make it for just my family today.

To make it, you need the following ingredients (makes 4 servings):

1 large bag pre-washed organic spinach leaves
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese
¼ cup slivered almonds
Dressing of your choice (I love using a light raspberry vinaigrette with this or a poppy seed dressing pairs really well with this salad too).

Directions:
Toss together spinach, strawberries, almonds, and feta. Top with your favorite dressing (or leave the dressing on the side and dip each bite to help cut additional calories). And serve! It’s that easy!

Fitness Friday: Slimming Down Your Baby Belly with Core Twists

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After the birth of your child, even if you get back to your pre-baby weight quickly, you may notice your core just doesn’t look or feel as toned. You may also have lost some strength in your core, especially if you had to scale down your abdominal work during your last trimester and the first six weeks after the arrival of your baby.

Strengthening your core isn’t only important to look and feel good in your swimsuit, but its essential to the health of your entire body. For instance, a strong core helps to protect your back. And with lifting and carrying a new baby 24/7, you are at a much greater risk of developing back pain and discomfort. To combat this, at least twice a week, work on incorporating exercises that can tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles. Although there’s many you can do alone, working out with your baby is not only more fun, but it’s a great bonding experience as well.

Here’s one of my favorite abdominal exercises for new moms:

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Baby Core Twist

To perform. Sit down on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. You should be sitting upright with your chest up and shoulders back. Gently pull your abdominal muscles in. Now, take your baby and sit him on your thighs, facing away from you (for older babies). Slowly lift him and twist your torso to bring him over your right side (make sure to keep your back straight while doing this) and then repeat again to the left side. As you perform this twist, continue to pull your abdominal muscles in and keep your chest lifted and back straight.

If you have a very young infant without good neck and head control, you can perform this exercise while cradling your baby in your arms. Simply elevate your baby in your arms from your thighs up to chest level, slowly turn to the right, and then come back to center and repeat to the left.

Perform 10 twists to each side, then rest. If your baby is too heavy or is disinterested in “exercising” with you, you can use a dumbbell to replicate this exercise as well. Never force your baby to exercise with you. A fussy baby can cause you to lose form, increasing your injury risk. Only exercise together when it is fun for both of you!

Slow Cooker Veggie Strata

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Joey and my husband love egg dishes. Whether it’s for breakfast or dinner, egg-based dishes tend to be a hit with them. I love them because they are also a great way to squeeze in more vegetables to their diets. One dish they both love is an egg strata, however, typically with this, you need to prepare it in advance, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and then bake it. I usually don’t think to make it that far in advance, which often leads to me opting to make something else. But, I just discovered something groundbreaking! You can make a strata in the slow cooker! I adore slow cooker recipes (because they are perfect for the time-crunched day!)

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Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. I found this recipe on the Kraft.com website, but I have adjusted it to match my family’s needs. However, the slow-cooker idea for the strata was theirs (as much as I wish I thought of this myself).

Once assembled, it cooks on low in the slow cooker in just 4 hours. Here’s what you need (I am also listing ways to lighten up my version below for those looking to lose weight/take in less calories. I made the higher fat/calorie version since this was mainly for Joey and he needs saturated fats for brain development):

Ingredients:
10 large eggs
2 ½ cups low fat milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 large semolina rolls, cut into 1 inch cubes (you can either toast the bread or use stale bread for this)
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 ½ cups button mushrooms, chopped
10 slices of bacon, cooked, crumbled

To make, first slice your bread into 1 inch cubes
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In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.
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Next, in a small food processor, chop the onions, mushrooms, and bacon.

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Add these ingredients along with one cup of cheese to the eggs. Mix evenly and then fold in the cubed bread.

Line crock pot with foil to create a “foil spatula” so it’s easy to remove your strata from the slow cooker (thanks for this idea Kraft website!). Take two long pieces of foil, fold over 3 times and crisscross them over the bottom of the slow cooker. Take a third piece of folded foil and use it to line the back end of the slow cooker, which can have a “hot spot” that may burn the egg dish.

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Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray and pour in the egg mixture. Use a fork to press the mixture down so that all of the bread is moistened. Place the lid on the slow cooker, set it on low, and let it cook for 4 hours. During the last hour, top the strata with the remaining cheese.

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After your strata has cooked, you can loosen it and remove it using the foil “handles.”

This recipe was adapted from one I found on the Kraft website (disclosure- I have no relationship with Kraft, I just enjoyed this recipe).

Here is my lighten-up version for those aiming to lose weight or reduce the fat content of the recipe:

5 large eggs
10 egg whites (or 1.5 cup egg substitute)
2 ½ cups skim milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 large 100% whole grain rolls, cut into 1 inch cubes (you can either toast the bread or use stale bread for this)
1 ½ cups shredded part-skim cheddar cheese
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 ½ cups button mushrooms, chopped

Follow the same directions as above for a great tasting, lower calorie option.

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