Paleo Meals Lately: Newborn edition

Monday, February 23, 2015

 Even though 4:30-7 pm is probably my most stressful time of the day (newborn witching hour + "hangry" toddler time), I still try to cook most nights. I would say my meals lately have actually been more inventive and thoughtful than ever. With all the repetition of the day (nurse, change diapers, swaddle, repeat) I need a creative outlet, and since I have to cook dinner, might as well try something new and interesting.  

I actually used to find cooking really stressful.  Early in my marriage, I'd yell at Joe in a hangry rage (hungry anger runs in the family), "I have no idea what I want to cook! Just go get takeout!"   But now that I'm a stay at home mom, feeding my family is a big part of my job description, so I may as well put together a repertoire of good easy meals.  And I may as well have some sort of plan for the week because on the paleo diet, there is no such thing as just resorting to spaghetti or grilled cheese sandwiches. 

My meal planning is not very detailed.  That just doesn't work well for me because I like a little spontaneity in the kitchen (If I were working away from the home, and more detailed plan would be necessary). I just write out 5 or 6 basic protein ideas for the week, like "sauteed salmon", "pork stir fry", or "something with ground beef." I use recipes as a jumping off point to do my own thing.  I can't think of a time when I actually stuck to a recipe exactly.  We get a big box of veggies every other week from our CSA program, so I incorporate whatever we get.  Joe buys our meat from a handful of different sources, as he is picky about meat.  

Some of our meals lately: 

Home grown broccoli tossed with diced chicken, almonds, apples and bacon, with balsamic vinegar and paleo mayo for the dressing. 

My dear friend Rachel made all this gorgeous paleo food for my "Sip and See" party, and we enjoyed the leftovers for quite a while!  I froze the meatballs and had them for lunch 4 days in a row.

Beef Stroganoff (made with cashew sour cream, because I'm completely avoiding dairy while I'm nursing. Except butter.  I eat lots of it, but it is mostly fat and very little lactose.) Roasted spaghetti squash on the side.  This picture doesn't do it justice, it was fantastic.

The beef stroganoff recipe came from the Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple cookbook.  I'm really impressed with this cookbook!  Some of the recipes have more steps and require more pots than I usually prefer, but they are all truly delicious and foolproof.

Our new crock pot has a liner that can go on the stove, so we can brown the meat and then slow cook it in one pot.  It's wonderful! I've only had it 2 weeks, and have already used it 5 times.

But sometimes it's nice to slow cook the old fashioned way.  This is Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pot Roast.  At the end, I blend half the veggies with a few cups of the broth and extra wine to make the most flavorful gluten free gravy.  

Lobster is a splurge, but less so when you get it on sale at the Asian market.  This guy was 4 pounds, and was almost the same size as Matteo. 

These pics are from the Summer, but all our lobster dinners are the same.  Pressure cooked lobster, drawn butter with lemon, and steamed artichokes brushed with olive oil and balsamic. Easiest meal ever.

This one was a real crowd pleaser.  I made paleo naan, which is only 3 ingredients (almond flour, tapioca flour, and coconut milk) and is so chewy on the inside/crispy on the outside when cooked in butter.  It would also make a great pizza crust I think.  I also whipped up a samosa-inspired ground beef filling with masala spices, cinnamon, and pureed sweet potato all sauteed together.  Sounds weird, but it was so tasty. On the side I made an apple-mango chutney.

Paleo Sloppy Joe stuffed peppers. 

Sauteed salmon with greens and roasted sweet potatoes.  

We don't eat chicken much because organic free range chicken is so expensive and relatively less nutritious than other meats, so for us it's a splurge.  I think whole roasted chicken is such a treat, and so ridiculously easy to make.  

Messy wedge salad with bacon bits, blue cheese and homemade dairy free ranch dressing.  

Made a nourishing chicken broth from the chicken carcass (the only way I can justify spending 20.00 on a chicken!) and turned it into tom kha goong (Thai coconut soup with shrimp.)  

And if you're curious, Sisi's lunches usually consist of leftovers and random finger foods.  That day it was quiche and paleo naan with lamb, swiss cheese and frozen peas (peas are not paleo but she eats them in moderation.)

Another simple lunch- cheese, plantains, carrot, big ol strawberry, and tuna salad.  I am a lazy mom and don't peel, let alone cut, the carrot.  

Is anyone else obsessed with these salt and pepper pistachios from TJs?  Sisi doesn't like how spicy they are, so they are the only snack I don't have to hide from her.


Matteo is 2 Months!

Friday, February 13, 2015

I know it's totally cliche to say this, but I really mean it: it's hard to imagine my life without Matteo.  He's only been around for 2 months, but he has eased his way so easily and peacefully into our family.  He just belongs here. Being Matteo's mommy is easy (well, motherhood is never really easy, but natural.) I know I'm supposed to be really frazzled and sleep-deprived at this point, but I'm not.  I'm actually full of energy and joy.  Total opposite of the first time around. It helps that Matteo is a pretty contented baby.  He seems to enjoy life and its' pleasures- loves to eat, loves to sleep, loves to observe. His smiles are crooked and squinty and soooo cute.  They are still rare and fleeting enough to be ambiguous (gas or smile?) but there are moments when he will look right into my eyes and his face crumples up into the sweetest smile (definitely not gas) and I know we belong to each other.  My dear little boy.

Baptized on January 11th at 5 weeks.  

 Personal space?  What's that?? 

 Loves his Grandpa Sam.  I so wish he could have met his other Grandpa, but he is blessed to have 3 adoring grandparents.  

 His eyes are that steely grey baby color, but I can already tell they are turning brown.  Sisi's were already pretty blue by this age. 

 Morning ritual: reading books to Sisi while I nurse and cuddle Matteo.  A great way to start the day!

At this age, he could care less about toys. We just stare at each other all day long and are both entertained.

 I love his little round face. His head is not so round due to torticollis (prefers to look and sleep with head in one direction.) It's very oddly shaped in the back.

We are already practicing independent play.  We put him on this soft beaver skin for 10 minute increments throughout the day to give him "alone time".  We did that with Sisi and I really believe it's part of the reason she plays so well on her own.

 Mama-baby selfies!  #nomakeupdon'tcare :)  Well, I do kinda care. 

Matteo at a glace:  
  • nurses about every 2.5-3 hours during the day (cluster feeds at night from 4:30-7:30.)
  • loves to be swaddled, but can bust out of the miracle blanket (aka baby straight jacket) already! just bought the "swaddle strap"- we'll see if it works! 
  • started sleeping through the night (or as the French say, "doing his nights") at about 5 weeks. first 11 hour stretch at 6 weeks.  no, that's not a typo.
  • sometimes he hates baths.  sometimes he thinks they are alright.
  • 11lb 6oz. wearing 3 month clothes. 
  • started cooing and smirk-smiling a few weeks ago.  reserves his biggest smiles for his big sister. true social smiles started about a week ago.
  • nicknames (mostly given by Sisi): matay, teo, theo, taters, tater tot. 


Sisi is 4!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Siena Marie is 4 years old today.  She is a big girl in so many ways, but she is still babyish, too.  I know we are right on that cusp between toddler and girl, and I'm hanging onto it with all my might. While she does plenty of big girl things, she still likes me to dress her, take her potty, and brush her teeth for her.   It's an interesting phase and I know it will be over before I know it.

Although I didn't intend on waiting so long between babies, I am so glad it worked out this way.  While we had a few really rough weeks where Sisi was weepy, depressed and incredibly needy (I thought I'd lost my easygoing and independent Sisi forever!) she is quickly adjusting to our new family dynamic, and is a genuine help around the house. She's pulling her weight around here, lol. Her attention span and thoroughness for chores astounds me. She takes her jobs very seriously because she is so conscientious in general.  She rubs stain remover all over Matteo's soiled onesies (doesn't miss a spot!). She scrubs dishes like a champ.  She scrubs Matteo's feet in the tub, powders his butt, and even "babysits" him for me while I do things around the house.  My heart bursts when she lovingly hugs him and declares how cute he is.  Or tells me, "Mom, Matteo's crying!  Go feed him!" I guess he won her over :)

Sisi at a glance:
  • It's been almost 2 years since she started wearing a tail every single day, and that phase is still going strong.  This kid is consistent! Dental floss, shoelaces, rope, feather boas- you name it, I've pinned it to her booty.
  • Except now it's a dinosaur tail instead of a dog tail. She eats, sleeps and breathes dinosaurs.  That show Dinosaur Train is her favorite right now.  
  • Her favorite time of day is "Mommy and Sisi time" when I set the timer for 15 minutes, and play whatever she wants to play (always dinosaurs) with absolutely no interruptions (even if the phone rings or baby fusses, they must wait.)  She appreciates this undivided attention, as short as it may be.  I treasure it, too. 
  • Her favorite cds are the Annie soundtrack and the Sound of Music soundtrack.  My sister bought tickets to Annie the Musical for her birthday, which is going to be an incredible first musical experience for her.  
  • Her favorite foods are liverwurst on paleo bread, salmon cakes, dates, raisins, dark chocolate, sweet potato fries, tuna salad, and tamago sushi. She will still eat sardines any time of day.  She LOVES my paleo baked goods, even the ones people think  taste weird or not sweet enough.  
  • She is very honest.   If I ask her a question, I can usually count on an honest answer, for better or worse. And when she makes me a promise, I can trust her to follow through. 
  • She is still very afraid of authority.  All I have to do is give her my "mom look" and lower my voice an octave, and she is putty in my hands, at least most of the time.  Even the gentlest reprimand can bring her to tears.  I have to be so careful with my sensitive little girl.  
  • Prefers her hair long, but I insist on semi-yearly trims.  She's had at least 5 haircuts.
  • Still uber cautious, doesn't like slides or swings or carousels. Hates mall Santas, scary movies (she considers The Little Mermaid a scary movie!), and won't even attempt to ride a tricycle.  But on the other hand, loves climbing trees, barefoot hiking, and off-roading with Joe.    
  • Still very much an introvert, but is becoming more liberal with her hellos, hugs and kisses.  
  • She is generous and usually happy to share her toys with others (which is a relief, because we don't believe in forced sharing and were patiently waiting for her to learn to share on her own.)
  • This year we didn't travel to any exotic destinations, but Sisi went camping three times, we did a week in Tahoe, and our Mommy-Daughter road trip up to San Francisco.  
Sisi, I am so proud to call you my little girl.  I love you with my whole heart!  Watching you play, grow, learn, struggle, and triumph has been such a joy.  God blessed me abundantly the day you were born!


Matteo's First Photoshoot and Pop Quiz

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My little guy is just over 2 weeks now.  He is still in that newborn haze where he has just enough energy to nurse, suffer through a diaper change, and give a little eye contact for 5 minutes.  Then he's totally wiped out and needs to sleep for an hour or two before beginning the process again. He's eating every 2.5-3.5 hours, which feels totally manageable compared to Sisi who ate every 1.5 hours.

My biggest anxiety while pregnant was going through Postpartum Depression again, and I'm so happy to report I'm all smiles so far.  Maybe a few panicky moments when the sun goes down (totally hormones), but nothing that deep breaths and Amoryn can't solve.  With Sisi, everything was so new and overwhelming.  I'd never even held a newborn, and suddenly I was responsible for keeping one alive and happy.  If she cried, I took it as a chastisement that I was a horrible mother.  I remember being so surprised when she first smiled at me at 6 weeks.  I thought, "Wait, you actually like me??? You're not miserable? I had no idea!"

This time around is so much easier, for lots of reasons.

  • I have confidence in my mothering abilities. I realize that babies are sturdier than they look.  I know to pause (aka "le pause") before rushing in to rescue him when he cries, not to be cruel, but to listen to him and figure out what he really needs from me. As a result, I feel I've gotten to know Matteo really well already.  Also, an ounce of prevention is my motto this time around when it comes to sleep learning (not training, learning!). That means no crazy shenanigans to get him to fall asleep, because while rocking/nursing/shusshing and bouncing a 7 pounder to sleep is no big deal, when he's 15 or 20 pounds it becomes a huge burden. Babies can happily fall asleep on their own, I'm amazed to discover!  
  • I think of babies as intelligent and worthy of respect.  They are not just squirmy blobs, they are people, and they are worth talking to and listening to.   It's amazing how much Matteo relaxes when I just tell him what I'm going to do, whether it's a diaper change or nap time or even if I need to put him down to be by himself for a bit. When he cries, I listen to him and empathize. This sounds very kumbaya, doesn't it?  But I really believe this kind of communication is so good for both of us.  It's actually therapeutic for me to talk things out with him. He's like my little shrink :) 
  • My physical recovery was fast.  Thank the Lord, my labor was so short that it left me pretty much unscathed.  That makes EVERYTHING easier to handle.
  • I have Sisi to distract me.  My days just fly by, because while baby is napping, I'm busy caring for my eldest. With baby #1, each day never ends. It's like the twilight zone.
  • I have perspective.  Every annoying phase ends.  Nursing was pretty painful with Matteo at first, but I didn't despair.  I told myself it would get better soon, and it already has.  Even waking up every 3 hours at night is tolerable because I know one day, just when I think I can't take it anymore, he will start skipping those night feeds and I'll enjoy a full night's sleep again.  And of course, watching Siena thrive is daily proof that it all works out in the end.  Matteo is probably our last baby, so I am treasuring each moment with him.  Every day I think, "I'll never have a baby this itty bitty again."  
Ok, onto the newborn pics!  Trista blessed us with her talent yet again, and took some adorable pics of Matteo.  Every parent knows how stressful the newborn shoot is.  Sure, your baby looks all cute and serene in the pictures, but behind the scenes there is poop flying and lots of griping.  Thanks to my aforementioned perspective, I was able to keep my cool and really enjoy the shoot!TRISTA LERIT, you are such a good friend and you are amazing at capturing wee babies!!!

Sisi is handling the changes pretty well, although I can see she is grieving a bit.  I trust that she will work out her mixed emotions in her own time.  She likes to help me with the baby, but does not want to hold him.  I was actually surprised she did it for the picture!

And just for kicks, POP QUIZ!  Can you tell Sisi and Matteo apart?

And try this one...