My daughter made me cry (and I’m so glad)

The other day, my daughter made me cry.

It wasn’t because Peeper punched me in the eye (on accident!) while we were playing. And it wasn’t because she drew this picture of me.

My daughter made me cry—not because she drew me with a unibrow and lopsided boobs, but because she told me just what I needed to hear. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(Yes, I’m so #momglam with my unibrow and lopsided boobs.)

No, it was because she said the words I didn’t even know I’d been waiting to hear.

Sometimes, we moms don't know what we need to hear. My daughter made me cry by saying them. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

5 tips to make bomb twice-baked sweet potatoes

Tips for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with EggsTwice-baked potatoes were one of my favorite dinners when I was growing up. I’d wait impatiently for them to bake and snag a top—a little piece of potato skin with melted cheese—as soon as they were out of the oven, inevitably burning my mouth. But it was so worth it!

When figuring out what meal to bring another new mama friend (something was in the water about 9 months ago—I have so many friends who just had babies!), I thought back to how comforting twice-baked potatoes were and decided to make a batch—but with sweet potatoes. I love their flavor and all the extra vitamins and antioxidants that accompany their orange flesh.

Because I’m so bad at feeding myself, I made extras for my family, of course.

I love twice-baked sweet potatoes because you can throw in whatever you have on hand. I added onion, broccoli, peppers, tofu and cheese—not a bad combo, if you ask me. I considered whipping up a recipe to post here but the beauty of twice-baked sweet potatoes is that you don’t need a recipe. Just bake the potatoes, scoop and mash the insides, saute a combo of veggies-meat-whatever you need to use in the fridge, and bake ’em all again until heated through—usually around 20 minutes.

To accompany the sweet potatoes, I chopped up veggies for a salad (remember, brand-new parents of a newborn have no time to slice cucumbers!) and made these no-bake peanut butter oat bites. After all, old fashioned oats are one of the top foods recommended to help increase and support your milk supply. I added some coconut flakes and used agave instead of honey (we were out and there’s no way I’m paying out the nose for grocery store honey when I can wait to get it at the farmer’s market!), and they turned out delicious. We now have a bag of ’em in the freezer because I had to make enough for myself, too, didn’t I?

If you’re making a meal for new parents (and seriously, just do it!), check out my last post about what to do—and not do—to make eating a little easier for those sleep-deprived, love-drunk mamas and papas.

Without further ado, then, here are my top 5 tips for making out of this world twice-baked sweet potatoes. Read more

Learning to feed myself—again

One late night when I was in college, my roommate Cedar walked into the kitchen and found me eating cold refried beans out of the can.

He was mortified. I was mortified.

“At least heat them up,” he said. Oh, the shame.

I had a few semi-legit explanations for my sorry excuse for a meal. I was operating on an average of five hours of sleep a night, was the editor-in-chief of the journalism school’s magazine, tutored other college students 20 hours a week and maintained a 4.0 GPA. Cooking was not exactly at the top of my priorities.

The truth is, though, when things get tough on the home front, I’m terrible at that most basic skill: feeding myself. Worse, I have a very fast metabolism and burn through food like a hummingbird. I’m also the world’s most indecisive person if I haven’t eaten in a while.

Take, for example, one time (or, ah, multiple times) when I was pregnant with Peeper. I came home from work, sat down in the middle of the kitchen and bawled because I was so hungry but didn’t know what to eat.

Thank goodness for cereal, amirite?

Anyway, the notorious night of the refried beans popped into my head this week when I was ravenous and had stuck my head in the fridge for the fourth time only to see that, disappointingly, no fully prepared meals had mysteriously appeared. I ended up microwaving some refrieds and eating them with cheese on a tortilla. Not quite as pitiful as that college snack, but still.

Anyhow. This is all to say that especially because I’m growing another tiny life inside me, I need to be a little more conscientious about feeding myself (and the rest of my family).

You and I already know the reasons to meal plan. It reduces food waste—a huge problem in the US, where we throw out 133 billion pounds of food every year. It saves money. And it saves the stress of having zero clues or inspiration on what to put on your plate each night.

I’ve been utterly crap at my previous attempts to plan our meals ahead of time. But we should never let the past define our futures! (Ok, I’m getting a little ridiculous, but you know what I mean!)

So help me, Internet world: What is your best advice for planning meals? Or are you like me and find yourself settling for canned refrieds for lunch?

Super-protein quinoa enchiladas and coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies

When you have a baby, all your attention hones in on feeding the newest member of your family. Moms keep track of feeding times and lengths, visit the lactation clinic, figure out latches or bottle flows, and worry if Baby is getting enough to eat.

Brand-new moms spend a lot less time working on feeding themselves, and that’s no good: Parents have enough on their plates without being hangry on top of everything.

So when two friends had babies a few weeks ago, I took the first opportunity to bring them each a meal. Since I’m not terrific at feeding myself, either, I chose recipes that would feed all three of our families!

These precocious baby buddies are already perfecting their secret handshake.
These precocious baby buddies are already perfecting their secret handshake.

When flipping through my Pinterest boards, I looked for functional foods. I decided on this super-protein-packed quinoa enchilada slow-cooker dish because research shows protein is crucial in repairing damaged tissues—something especially important for mothers who had c-sections.

I also made these coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies. Yes, it’s important for dinner to meet all your nutritional needs, but in those early weeks of raising a newborn, sometimes a bite of something sweet can get you through that moment when your munchkin poops all over you the second you’re showered and wearing clean clothes for the first time in a week. I added a salad, threw in some tortilla chips and called it a meal. Read more

Mac n’ cheese is my hero

Yesterday we got home from a long trip to Eugene for Eric’s birthday. It was a packed long weekend, full of hanging with the family, games of Euchre and Quiddler, meeting up with friends, blackberry picking and twice-nightly dessert.

Super patriotic super sweetie with Grandpa
Super patriotic super sweetie with Grandpa

We were beat, so when it came time to cook dinner last night, I made a box of Annie’s macaroni and cheese, mixed in some spinach for good measure and called it good.

When I set the shells on Peeper’s tray, she couldn’t shovel them into her mouth fast enough. She sucked them off her fingers and had more in the other hand waiting. We marveled at how much she packed in.

“That’s more than a three-year-old eats,” Eric said at one point.

After Peeper ate her fill and we washed off the greens and cheese she mashed into her hair, I put her to bed.

People, she slept through the night.

Even more remarkable: I slept through the night.

I didn’t wake up worrying when she’d want milk. I didn’t get up to pee. I didn’t peek at the monitor. I just slept. That was the first uninterrupted night’s rest I’ve had since Fall 2012.

Seriously.

Mac n’ cheese for dinner every night!