Organic Landscaping - weeding through the options

Check out my latest video in which I am asking you for help.

Weeds, and lawns, and organic landscaping…oh my!

Just another decision to make in the "real world".  Another set of priorities to reconcile.  This is life!  We want our children to have a beautiful, lush lawn to run around on, get their fair share of grass stains on, play ball on, and take their obligatory prom pictures on.  We want to have BBQs, cookouts, and fun with friends and family.  We want to sit around the (baby) pool and under the shade while we take too many pictures on our kiddos.

AND, we want to do all of this without the use of industrial pesticides.  No Monsanto.  No Glyphosate.  No thank you!

So, where does this leave us?  What to do?  This is a real question!  Please weigh in and help us with our dilemma.

P.S. We live on Long Island (New York) and are open to both organic landscaping company recommendations and DIY options.

Thanks!

In good health amongst the weeds,

Tara

A letter to my kiddos on Mother's Day...

A letter to my kiddos on Mother's Day...

Dear Mags and Jags,

Tomorrow will be my fourth year as a mother on Mother's Day.  I want you to know that I waited (im)patiently for you for a long time!  I dreamed that you'd join us, Earthside, during so many long nights and even more days than I can recall.  

My life no longer resembles the life I had prior to 3.5 years ago.  I signed up for that. My career has drastically shifted, I have bags under my eyes, and my coffee is always cold by the time it reaches my lips.  It's hard to feel like a bada$$ - in business, in life - with various bodily fluids gripping onto my shirt threads.  There's 40,789 daily toddler questions and mysterious scratches on my face (didn't I just cut your nails?!)  Date night now consists of squeezing in 10 minutes of Shark Tank on the DVR before the first nighttime feeding.  That's right - hot dates over here in the Allen household.  ;-)

Then….THEN….the sleepless nights!

Sleepless on Long Island.

Sleepless in Love.

I signed up for this.

Ugh.  You know what?  The sleepless nights are HARD, but they're also WONDERFUL.  There, I said it.  This does not mean I can't use this against you in the future, by the way.  Certainly I should be able to squeeze an extra chore or 2 out of you both in the future, right?  Here's the truth.  I kinda, sorta cherish the sleepless nights.  (Shh - don't tell Daddy!)  There's something about the blanket of darkness and silence that calms my hyperactive monkey brain.  As I nourish your body with mine, my soul is overflowing with joy.  You see, I'm not counting the loads of laundry I didn't get to the day before or worrying about completing a client email in a few hours. I'm present.  I breathe you in.  There's this bond that's so overwhelmingly beautiful, it's bone-shattering (the other mamas will understand what I mean).

I signed up for this.

I literally signed up for all of this.

That first appointment I had with the fertility doc happened to fall on a hot summer day.  This was helpful as my tears were camouflaged by the beads of sweat.

I signed the consent forms - all of them - for every procedure, test, poke & prod.  I'd do it all again. Times a million.

I signed up to be your mama.  I'm a lucky, lucky mama.

Now that we're all here, I promise to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes on the stars - thanking them for the dream-come-true.  I'm not perfect (truly, I'm not!), but I promise to do my best - as humans do.  I promise to love you AND YOUR MOTHER.  You see, this business, the food I cook to nourish our family, the active lifestyle we lead…it's for you.  It's for us.  You deserve a mama that's here for you; a leading lady in your life ready to spring into action when needed or help support you through your childhood and adult challenges - changing careers, parenthood, filing for AARP.  Did I mention that I plan on being here for a while?  ;-)

M & J, tomorrow is Mother's Day.  You are 1 & 3 years old.  There may be a card for me, a brunch to celebrate me and the other special grand-mothers in your life, even a period of time in which you see me sit back for a few to take it all in.  Let me tell you a secret… I won't be celebrating me.  I'll be celebrating you.  I'll be thanking my lucky stars and wondering what I did to deserve the best.

Magnolia and Jagger, though I prefer "mama", it ain't so bad being your "mother" on Mother's Day.  Thanks for the title.  Thanks for the moments.  Thanks for the memories and laughter and hugs.  I definitely signed up for this.

In Joy,

Mama

It's Earth Day!

Whether you choose to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, and/or REPURPOSE today, it's a great day to take a step back and enjoy Mother Earth in all Her glory.  I'm looking out a big picture window right now watching the cold rain come down in New York, despite earlier reports of today being the dry & sunny part of the weekend.  Luckily, we had no specific outdoor plans and I can just enjoy the coziness and warm-fuzzies that I get on days like this.  Side note: I also LOVE to tell my toddler that it's good sleeping whether in hopes of a successful nap-time.  I'm still testing this theory out with her.  ;-)

Anyway, as the weather allows, I've been making more and more time to get outside with the kiddos.  We ALL need the fresh air, sunshine, and adventure that only The Great Outdoors can provide.  You know what I mean, right?  Of course there's the all-important Vitamin D that our body needs from direct sunlight on our skin, but it's more than that.  We now know that just getting the passing light of the sun in our eyes for a bit everyday actually helps us produce more melatonin at night (HELLO better sleep quality!), increases energy and productivity during the day, and helps to fight overall dis-ease.  Score!

Here's how we (myself + 1 year old + 3 year old) spent our outside time this week so far:

  • Pretty intense hike on the North Shore of Long Island.  Magnolia held her own, impressively.  Jagger enjoyed the babywearing vantage point.
  • A few walks in the neighborhood and to the park.
  • We stalked the ride-on cars and carousel at an outdoor "mall" when we had some errands to run.
  • Backyard bubbles.  Duh!  ;-)
  • Puddle-splashing happened.  And then, so did laundry.
  • We discovered a partially wanted and partially unwelcomed snail that seems to have made our driveway a nice home.  So of course my neighbors must not think I'm crazy for taking 3 minutes to find said snail before I move my car each time.  Hey, a pet is a pet!

That's it.  Nothing too crazy and we had a few rainy days that we did pick indoor activities.  Oh, and planted some herbs that we're (im)patiently waiting to sprout.  What can I say, eating from the Earth with the fam makes me happy!

How are you spending your Earth Day?  Any Spring cleaning or festivals or charity walks on the calendar?

 

In good health,

Tara

Banana Bread ---> grain-free, dairy-free

It's Spring break, Easter, and Passover all this week!  You may need a good dessert that doubles as breakfast and snacks for the kids this week.  It should hold up well in the freezer, be delicious, taste like a treat, and be nourishing to you, your kids, and your guests.  Am-I-right?!?!  

This Banana Bread was born out of the need to use up my mushy bananas.  I already have a freezer stash to use for smoothies and to make 'nice cream', so I wanted to make bread.  For us, it needed to be gluten-free, dairy-free, no refined sugars, full of healthy fat, protein, and fiber.  I'm fueling my busy & active body along with my family's.  And, with the things my toddler says on the regular, let me tell you, her brain is very happy with the kinds of fuel it's been getting!  ;-)  

Example from today:

Magnolia to Jagger:  "Jagger, please stop jumping in your crib.  We worked very hard for that bed and I wouldn't want to have to buy a new one and put it together again."

So, I'm sure your kiddos are just as hilarious - especially when they're getting in that good nutrition!  Leave me a comment and tell me what funny things they've said recently.  

And, make this bread immediately (if there are no egg or nut allergies in the house).  It's a good one to have on hand for a busy & special week like this one.

Banana Bread

(gluten-free, dairy-free)

 

Ingredients:

 

4 large eggs

4 bananas (ripe or overripe)

½ cup almond butter (sub: peanut butter)

4 T coconut oil, melted (plus extra to grease pan)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/5 cup hazelnut flour (sub: almond flour)

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

 

 

Directions:

 

1.    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.    Combine all wet ingredients in a blender.

3.    Add dry ingredients to blender and mix well.

4.    Grease an 8X8 cake pan (ok to use loaf pan, but cooking times will vary).

5.    Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).  Top of bread should be golden-brown and center should be set.

6.    Allow to cool before slicing and serving. 

Generational Health Gaps - and why we NEED to know!

We're at an interesting cross-roads in our health history as a species.  Yes, it's true that younger generations will be the first ever to have a shorter lifespan than their parents - on the whole.  Does that scare anyone?  As a mama of 2, I will be darned if I just let this happen without putting up a fight.

Here's the deal: earlier generations typically had a MUCH less toxic start to their life.  They only ate organically, because these neurotoxic pesticides weren't around generations ago.  There weren't any plastics, microwaveable dinners, cleaning products with 20 ingredients, etc.  Everything was more natural.

You and I may not have had the same start, but we are armed with knowledge now to make changes.  Remember, you vote with your dollar!  So just changing the food you eat and the products you use help to drive down the demand for the less-than-stellar options.  :-)

In good health, 

Tara

Spring is here - what should I eat now?

There may still be some patches on snow hunkering down here in New York, but the calendar has moved on.  Spring has SPRUNG!  Along with all of the extra cleaning, organizing, outside walks, and Summer vacation planning that people seem to always squeeze into the first week of Spring, we're usually ready to change up our food.  WIth lots of green and sprouts starting to come up this time of the year, Spring makes for the perfect time to introduce new greens into your diet.  When we are more conscious of eating in-season, we derive health-benefits from fresher and less pesticide-ridden foods, can enjoy locally grown plants, and save money (!) in the process (Remember that whole supply and demand thing from High School Economics class?).

The following is a list of vegetables that are in-season for this time of year here in the U.S.  Some of these grow year-round or are harvested during multiple seasons, so if you thought of any as Winter or Summer crops, you may not be wrong.  However, these are all great choices for *at least* March, April, and May.  

Pick up your favorites and maybe challenge yourself to try a new veggie every week or 2.  Let the Spring meal planning and cooking begin!

 

Artichokes

Arugula

Asparagus

Beets

Bok Choy

Broccoli Rabe

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Carrots

Celery

Chard

Chicory

Collard Greens

Cress

Dandelion Greens

Endive

Fava Beans

Fava Greens

Fennel

Garlic

Kale

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Lettuce

Mushrooms

Mustard Greens

Nettles

Onions

Parsnips

Pea Shoots

Peas

Purslane

Radishes

Rutabagas

Scallions

Spinach

Sprouts

Turnips

 

In good health,

Tara

Matcha 'Nice Cream'

St. Patrick's Day is next week and I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new and interesting green food ideas to make.  We're all Irish that day, right?  ;-)

With a couple of frozen bananas in my freezer that I wanted to use up, I had an idea...

But of course...Matcha Nice Cream.  This is a dairy- and gluten-free version of ice cream that you do not need an ice cream maker for!  And, get this…you only need 3 ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (cashew milk used here)
  • 2 T matcha (green tea) powder

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until creamy.
  2. Spoon into freezer-safe container.  
  3. Eat as is for a soft-serve consistency or freeze for 1-2 hours for a traditional ice cream texture.  If you're feeling fancy, use an ice cream scooper.

Enjoy this healthy sweet treat alone or with Leprechauns…whatever!  ;-)

In good health,

Tara

 

 

Caring for your body post-baby and beyond!

I couldn't bring you all to the Blossom Baby Expo this past weekend here on Long Island, so at the last-minute suggestion of my hubby, I recorded my presentation LIVE to bring to YOU!  ;-)

We spoke about nutrition, fitness, sleep, support, and stress - specifically targeted for postpartum women, but these tips will help anyone!  I stopped the video before the Q&A started, for the privacy of our awesome mamas.

Please share this with any of your pregnant or postpartum friends.  This time in your / their lives is simultaneously the most important and yet the most challenging time to turn inward and take care of your own body.  It can be done!  Watch to learn more.

In good health,

Tara

Marie Claire LIVE - Meal Prepping and Saving Money!

This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to share my top tips on lowering your grocery bill and eating healthy through meal prepping LIVE on Marie Claire.  Shout out to #TheFix host, Brittney Levine and videographer, Rosa, who were as sweet as can be!  We had fun and the time FLEW!  I want to share a couple more tips with you guys that I didn't get to mention in the shoot.

1) Choose the day and time you will be going shopping.  Avoid shopping while hungry or rushed. Those hunger pangs will steer you right towards the impulse buys at the check-out counter…not wallet- (or health-) friendly.  By choosing a time when you are a bit less rushed, you will likely take a few extra minutes comparing prices and nutrition labels…key items to be successful with your shopping trip!

2) Decrease food waste.  In your planning phase, make a "use first" column that includes produce and leftovers that may go bad in the next day or two.  Be creative and find ways to use up those items before making something new.  

3) If you can't use the seen-better-days food up in time, use your freezer!  Bananas freeze well and can be thrown into smoothies or banana bread.  Veggies can be pureed into a soup and frozen that way.  What about herbs?  Divide them up into ice cube trays with some olive oil (or whatever liquid you might use them with).  This is a great tip to help your groceries last a few extra weeks and months.

What are your favorite tricks to save money while staying healthy?

LIVE Meal prep show on Tuesday - Marie Claire

Meal prep your way to a lower grocery bill...

Are you looking to step-up your meal prepping game and lower your grocery bill while shopping for healthy food?

I will be sharing my favorite tips on this topic LIVE on Marie Claire's show, The Fix.  We will be coming to you from a grocery store in Manhattan.  Head over to the Marie Claire Facebook page this Tuesday, February 21st at 2PM EST and check it out!  Ask your questions or just come say hello.  I'd love to see you there!  Here's the link to their Facebook Live page.

Not able to make it at that time?  I will be posting the replay shortly after on my Facebook page, Tara Allen Health.

I hope you're all enjoying this holiday weekend and taking some tome to rest, relax, and breathe. :-)

In good health,

Tara

Stretch and Relax….and eat muffins!

You know what I love almost as much as helping people for a living?  I love, love, LOVE, the diversity in my days and weeks.  I enjoy working one-on-one with my clients, and then heading to a corporate wellness event.  With a parent expo, speaking engagement, and LIVE (what!?!?) show all coming up in the next week, taking the time to visit my friends at National Business Capital here on Long Island last week to STRETCH and RELAX came at a good time.  Besides, it was about 12 hours after the Blizzard and everyone's tired backs needed the break!

We started with a silly little game to warm up our bodies, minds, and hearts.  Followed that up with some deep breathing and full-body stretching.  Topped it off with healthy muffins for everyone…"You get a muffin, you get a muffin, YOU get a muffin too!" (in my best Oprah voice).

Thanks for having me back, National Business Capital.  You guys rock!

Tip for you all:  Take a few minutes extra in your warm shower.  As you're washing your body, take an inventory of how things are feeling.  What's tight, what's achy?  Then after you've shampooed (or do you shampoo first?  Hmmm), do a little self-massage on tight areas and practice some range-of-motion right there under the warm stream of water.  Your muscles will be looser and more forgiving when they are warm. Plus, it's a nice quiet place to get an uninterrupted minute or two.  Well, unless you have young children.  :-/  They follow us everywhere.  

Let me know how it goes.  Disclaimer:  NO slipping allowed!  We're not talking about big, sweeping movements that should leave you off-balance, but if you're a bit unsteady on your feet, do the stretching after the shower instead.

Happy Thursday, everyone.

In good health,

Tara

Red Velvet LOVE Brownies

February is in full swing as we are approaching the middle of the month already.  How?!?  With the famous groundhog forecasting 6 more weeks of Winter, I suppose we should've been expecting the blizzard we were met with today on Long Island.

Snow and all, February is a time for love, heart-shaped everything, shades of pink and red, heart health, and lots and lots of…chocolate!!

So, what if you're on a roll with upgrading your health so far in 2017, but still looking for something that looks and tastes like an indulgence?  What if you or a family member have some food allergies / sensitivities that prevent you from being able to eat most of the store-bought or homemade recipes out there?  I hope this Red Velvet Love Brownie recipe fills that void for you!

These bad boys are gluten-free, dairy-free, high in protein and fiber, and contain healthy fats plus a full serving of veggies.  They're chocolate-y, yet low glycemic…how's that for showing your heart some love this month?!

Black beans in brownies?!?!  Yup!  They work great for texture, color, and add lots of nutrition!  

Black beans in brownies?!?!  Yup!  They work great for texture, color, and add lots of nutrition!  

Beets bring the "red velvet" hint of color while adding a bit of subtle sweetness.

Beets bring the "red velvet" hint of color while adding a bit of subtle sweetness.

Brownie batter all mixed up.

Brownie batter all mixed up.

Red Velvet Love Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz) can of black beans, rinsed (BPA-free can)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup beets (sliced and cooked - either roast in oven or buy a jar)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened / dairy-free / gluten-free chocolate chips
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients in food processor, high-speed blender (keep scraping sides down), or with a mixer.
  4. Combine wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour into well-greased muffin tin or line with paper liners.  This makes adorable, round brownies with slightly crispy edges that are like getting the highly sought-after corner piece each time.  ;-)
  6. For the look pictured up top (with the heart in the middle), cut a beet slice into the heart shape and press onto top.  Other ideas for toppings include: chocolate chips, hemp seeds, walnuts, or anything else your creative mind comes up with.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes - until edges start to pull away from muffin tin and become slightly crispy.
  8. Share with your favorite people!
Little hands couldn't wait for me to finish the photo shoot.  ;-)

Little hands couldn't wait for me to finish the photo shoot.  ;-)

Red Velvet Love Brownies with various toppings. Pictured (starting top left and going clock-wise): Walnuts, chocolate chip and hemp seeds, heart-shaped beet, chocolate chip.

Red Velvet Love Brownies with various toppings. Pictured (starting top left and going clock-wise): Walnuts, chocolate chip and hemp seeds, heart-shaped beet, chocolate chip.

Alright guys…will you dare to try these?  It is definitely "different" to bake with black beans, but they taste so chocolate-y and are healthycome on now!  Brownies for lunch, anyone?

In good health,

Tara

Game Day Recipe

Whether you're hosting your friends and family or visiting someone else to watch The Big Game (a.k.a. Superbowl) this Sunday, there's a few things that remain top of mind on this not-quite-a-holiday holiday…football, half-time shows (wardrobe malfunctions?), commercials, and…FOOD!

What are you making?  What are you bringing?

This Crunchy Cauliflower recipe is perfect for Game Day.  It works as a snack, an appetizer, or a side dish.  It's delicious as-is, or can be paired with your favorite dip or sauce if you want to be fancy.  This recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, high protein, high fiber, and of course a serving of veggies!  And…it's toddler-approved (actually, toddler-obsessed!).

Crunchy Cauliflower Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Chop cauliflower into bite-sized florets.  Place in large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and paprika. Mix well.
  4. Add coconut oil and then beaten egg in the bowl with the cauliflower.  Mix well.
  5. Add dry mixture from medium bowl into bowl with the cauliflower and mix until evenly coated.
  6. Spread cauliflower evenly onto a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake 7-8 minutes, flip, and bake another 7-8 minutes.  The cauliflower should be crispy and a bit brown on the edges.
  8. Eat up!

Happy Friday, everyone!

In health,

Tara

DIY Clay Facial Mask

Sometimes we need a little clay in our lives.  This DIY clay facial mask costs about 30 cents per application.  It whips up in a couple short minutes and leaves the skin smooth and taut.  Hard to beat that, huh?

**Note: test this mask out on a small patch of your skin first to make sure you don't have any reactions such as redness or dryness before you apply it all over your face.

Ingredients:

  • 2 capsules activated charcoal
  • 1 teaspoon bentonite clay
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon water

 

Directions:

Mix well in a bowl and apply to your face with a brush or your fingertips.  Allow to dry (about 15 minutes) and wash off with a warm washcloth.  Apply your favorite, natural moisturizer.

Voila!  Soft skin!  What's your favorite natural DIY product?

In health,

Tara

 

Raising Healthy Eaters: What about parties?

As a result of several conversations I've had with other mamas over the past week or so all about this topic, I decided it warranted a little 'air time' here.

Are you trying to raise healthy eaters?  Wanting to teach your children about the connection between what they put in their bodies and how they feel, think, and behave?  Or, maybe your kiddos have food allergies or sensitivities.  Regardless of your individual journey, it seems we all share a similar contemplative tug-of-war between our health values and the desire for our children to "fit in" at birthday parties and social events.

As a mama to a 3-year old little girl and 1-year old little boy, I'm well-aware of the fact that we've juuuuuust scratched the surface with our experiences.  We haven't had to deal with buying and sharing school lunches, parties every weekend, or trips to friends' houses without us.  We have, however, had some sticky situations: unexpected snack times at toddler classes, lunch (and dessert) served at 9 AM birthday parties, and daily snack-time at nursery school that often comes served-up with significant doses of food dye, sugar, and hydrogenated oils.

This video was shot on a whim.  It came after yet another conversation with a mama-friend of mine who was fed up with a recent and frustrating experience at birthday party which ended with her kids eating more candy in one sitting than they ever had before.

If you have 5 minutes, please watch this video and weigh in.  I want to hear from all you mamas (and dads, caregivers) out there.  What do you do?  How do you FEEL?  Is this frustrating to you?  If so, how do you manage to bridge the gap between your kiddos' health and your childrens' requests and need to feel included?  Do you BYOF (bring your own food)?

Leave your comments below…I'd love to hear from you!

In health,

Tara

Almond Flour Versatility

You have almond flour.  It's sitting in the back of your pantry.  It may have dust on it!?  You bought it for that recipe you made a few months ago - ya know, when you were super-duper gung-ho on your gluten-free / paleo / Whole30 / healthy-mama-and-family kick?  Now what?

Guys, almond flour is not an ingredient that should come with buyer's remorse.  It's SO versatile!  Full of plant protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and heart-and-body-loving fiber, it should be allowed into the spotlight of your food prep just a bit more. ;-) 

Almond flour can bring added nutrition and goodness in many ways:

  • Healthy baking - it's the perfect alternative to regular bleached or whole wheat flour for those with food sensitivities and those just looking to step up their health game.
  • Thickening agent - add slowly into soup, stews, dips, sauces, and even hummus if you need a slightly thicker or more dense consistency.
  • "Protein powder" - throw into smoothies, healthy fudge, in yogurt, oatmeal, energy balls, sauce…anywhere you may need a little boost in protein.
  • "Breading" - Mix with some spices and herbs for a quick and easy replacement for breading.  Make your own mozzarella sticks, breaded and baked chicken, or zucchini fries by dipping the food in egg first and then in the almond flour/herb mixture. Yum!  This is the perfect appetizer swap (hmm….SuperBowl, anyone?).

 

So, will you dust off that bag of almond flour (or just go ahead and buy it already)?!?!  What do you like to make with this powdered beauty?

I'd love to hear from you if there are any other ingredients that haven't been in your meal prep rotation in a while….or any products/ingredients you've been wanting to purchase, but just can't justify since you don't know what to do with it after that. ONE. recipe.  Let me know!  Maybe I'll feature it in an upcoming post.  ;-)

Make it an awesome, almond-y day!

In health,

Tara

Cake Smash Success! (Jagger Turns ONE)

Well how did THAT happen?  365 days and boom...Jagger-dude is 1 year old.  

He is the most perfect compliment to our crazy family.  His smiles and laughs make strangers smile and laugh everywhere we go.  He loves to be silly and mobile and hi big sister - well, he's a BIG fan of hers.

Some of you already know that our babies came with a little (lot of) help from science.  They were IVF miracles.  They also each survived a terrible pregnancy disease I had both times called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  All this just to say, we are so. incredibly. BLESSED!

I believe we can find reason in everything we experience.  "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger." (One of my favorite quotes since I was a kid - from Nietzsche).  Our experiences have brought me to where I am today…I value my family and our health above all else.  I know what it's like to long for each of these.

Well, hello there!  (Jagger-dude - a few months old)

Well, hello there!  (Jagger-dude - a few months old)

To my sweet Jagger Jack, Happy 1st birthday!  We knew we loved you long before you joined us Earth-side.  You've been such a bright star in our lives over the past year.  I have loved every minute of our 365 days together - watching you grow, play, and learn.  I can't wait for more todays and tomorrows with you!

Babywearing has saved me this year!  Having free hands to chase after big sis is always a good idea.

Babywearing has saved me this year!  Having free hands to chase after big sis is always a good idea.

Now on to parties and cake smashes.  Here's what I learned:

  1. January birthday parties in NY need snow dates as a back-up plan.
  2. Using blueberries to color the icing actually makes purple icing, not blue.  Jagger is a very secure little dude, he doesn't mind purple….but, it didn't quite fit into the "Winter One-derland" theme that we were going for.  ;-)
  3. Sometimes the "cake smash" turns out to be more of a cake fondle.  And that's cool!  He enjoyed it, and that's all I was hoping for.
We may have had to reschedule Jagger's party, but at least we got an unexpected day to play in the fluffy white stuff!

We may have had to reschedule Jagger's party, but at least we got an unexpected day to play in the fluffy white stuff!

I started feeling pretty nostalgic as I made this recipe - the same one I created originally for Magnolia's first birthday.  I was a newbie to healthy baking, at that time, and ended up making about 7-10 versions of this one before it was "right".  That was wayyy back in 2014.  ;-)  I've come a long way!  Now I have TWO adorable reasons to keep me on top of my healthy baking (and cooking) game.

Magnolia enjoying her smash cupcake 2+ years ago at her 1st birthday party.  It's incredibly bittersweet to see how much she's grown in body and mind and how fast our memories are piling up as the months fly by.

Magnolia enjoying her smash cupcake 2+ years ago at her 1st birthday party.  It's incredibly bittersweet to see how much she's grown in body and mind and how fast our memories are piling up as the months fly by.

This was also the start of the muffin magic.  What the heck is that muffin magic, you ask?  Well, it's figuring out that muffins can be made of all the healthy stuff you want your kiddos and your whole family to eat!  We're talking veggies, fruit, protein, healthy fats, and fiber.  I don't hide anything in there as I believe it's in the kiddos' best interest to know they are eating veggies and all the good stuff to give them the best foundation of health that you can.  So grab the little ones and let them help measure and mix and get very familiar with these healthy ingredients!

*Note: This recipe is for muffins.  Add the icing and voila - you have cupcakes!

Pumpkin Batter all mixed and ready for the muffin pan.

Pumpkin Batter all mixed and ready for the muffin pan.

"Happy birthday to you…"  

"Happy birthday to you…"

 

 

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots (optional)
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups almond flour
  • 1/5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Blend together all wet ingredients in a blender.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  4. Slowly pour wet ingredients from blender into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Fill greased muffin pan (or muffins liners) 2/3 full.
  6. Bake 30 minutes.

*Makes 12 muffins.

"Is the goal to shove as much of this in my mouth as possible, mama?  'Cause that I can do!"  

"Is the goal to shove as much of this in my mouth as possible, mama?  'Cause that I can do!"

 

I switched up the kind of icing I made this time, as I wanted a nice shade of blue to go with our "Winter One-derland" theme.  Hmm.  That didn't work out, but it was a very pretty purple color. Haha.  And it was tasty!

Blueberry Coconut Cream Icing

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 T coconut oil (not melted)
  • 1 T raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Directions:

  1. Place can of coconut milk upside down in fridge overnight.
  2. Carefully open can and scoop out the hardened coconut cream.  This is what you will be using for the icing.  Save the watery part to use in other recipes.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a blender (you will need to keep scraping down the sides and blending several times).
  4. If you make in advance, it's ok to refrigerate icing, just be sure to give it a good blend/whipping before you use as it will harden a bit.

 

Jagger seems as surprised as we are that he's ONE already!

Jagger seems as surprised as we are that he's ONE already!

Stretch and Relax

Last month I was asked to come into the very friendly and progressive company, National Business Capital, to have a bit of fun with the employees and take them through a nice stretching routine that they can implement into their busy days right at or next to their desks!  We laughed, we took deep breaths, we got the blood flowing.  I received several awesome emails afterwards letting me know about different ways in which that morning visit improved their day.  :-)

It's a new year and as such, I see many companies embracing employee wellness programs now more than ever.  Yay for 2017!  Yay for smart management!  WIth increased employee satisfaction and productivity and decreased sick days, you can see how the value and ROI far surpasses the investment.

Do you own or work for a company like this?  Do you want to see more companies - large AND small - taking time to educate and motivate their employees to take good care of their minds & bodies?  

Employee wellness programs may include stretching breaks, yoga, meditation, workout classes or personal trainers, nutrition consults, cooking demos, one-on-one health coaching, vital signs and consultations, a group sport, race, or contest.

I challenge you to speak with your boss about a potential employee wellness program being implemented or upgraded in your company.  If you ARE the boss, keep this in mind… healthy and productive employees are your biggest asset!

Pictured:  Silly activity at National Business Capital to "break the ice" before we started Stretch and Relax.  (Sorry to those I did not capture in the picture!  Next time I'll try to take more pictures).

Solutions to Resolutions

 

Our new & shiny New Year is around the corner.  It's a fresh start; a blank slate; a chance to resolve; the time to dig deep and make a change.  But, why?  I struggle every year with this (ok, so struggle might be a bit of an overstatement).  What doesn't sit well with me however, is the hype and the practice of waiting to make a change.  "I'll start on Monday, NEXT Monday, January 1st, after my wedding, after this doughnut".  Either we're ready and can put the wheels in motion towards our goals little by little, or we're not ready and have to do the work to find out what's really going on.

Maybe it's an old desire that you no longer have.  "I really want to lose 20 pounds to be able to fit into my jeans from high school".  Do you really?!  Maybe you wanted that 10 years ago, but now you've had a couple of kids and are ok with a few extra pounds as long as you're active and healthy.  It's ok to have wanted something in the past and realize that that vision is no longer serving you.

Maybe you set a New Year's resolution every year that is, in fact, someone else's wish for you.  Are you trying to fit into a certain mold of who or what you believe "society" wants out of you? Are your dreams & desires actually yours

 

This is deep, folks!  Motivation, results, and road blocks tend to go wayyy deeper than what we allow ourselves to think about.  If you are setting goals and not achieving results, there are only a few options as to why:

  • It is not actually a priority for you (see above).
  • You are fearful of what your new life would be like after you make the change.
  • You are fearful of failure, and therefore, self-sabotage while you feel it's still in your control.
  • You are biting off more than you can chew by setting goals and/or action steps that are not sustainable.  This can fall under the self-sabotage category, or just be an enthusiastic mistake.

So, what the heck to do, then?

Here's my strategy for this year:  WORD OF THE YEAR.  That's right, I am picking ONE word to focus on all year long.  It's a word that I feel I need to make my mantra in all areas of life and that in doing so, I will be improving everything from mental health & clarity to physical health and relationships.  This way, I can set and reevaluate goals as needed; course-correct along the way and do so in a gentle way.  No one wins if I expend energy on beating myself up!  I tend to gravitate towards goal-oriented and disciplined behavior.  You can say it's sort of a paradox that I'm setting my intentions to be less rigid and hard on myself. 

Well, what IS it?  What will my word be? SAVOR is the word for 2017. S-A-V-O-R.  Breathe, accept, observe, acknowledge, and appreciate!  I want to allow myself the space and time to savor:

  • My kiddos and everything about what makes them them.
  • Conversations and laughter with the hubby. 
  • The tastes / textures / smell of my food. 
  • Fleeting moments of time alone.
  • Muscle-soreness-inducing sweat sessions.
  • This very stage I'm at in my business.
  • Our house (flaws and all) and all its opportunity for memories.  
  • The laundry and dishes and mess (oh gosh, the MESS!).  
  • Down-time with family and friends.
  • My clients and their dedication (have I mentioned that I have THE BEST clients?!)
  • Every middle-of-the-night feeding with the baby (and, therefore…)
  • ...Every little sip of hot coffee.
  • My body for all it can do.
  • The jolt of energy and momentum that comes from spending enough time outside my comfort zone - where the true magic always happens.
  • Every message, email, call, ping, or ding telling me how I've helped someone get healthier and feel better.  THIS is my why for my business and gosh-darnit, I'm going to savor the heck out of those!
  • Any long-ish hot shower or bath that may happen in 2017 (that whole baby-and-toddler thing)
  • The times when my thoughts seem to effortlessly start with I CAN, I WILL, I AM, and I DO.
  • The idiosyncrasies and chaos that are guaranteed to be our greatest teachers.

If your emails or Facebook messages take me a liiiiiittle longer to reply to, it may be because I'm looking down at Jagger's face as he nurses to sleep instead of working from the rocking chair on that day, in that moment.  If your call goes to voicemail, it's because I have crazy telemarketers trying to...kidding!… it could be that I'm crawling around the floor playing horsey with Magnolia (send help!).  I plan on tasting my food instead of shoving it down because it's healthy and I'm hungry. I will take more time and space to just be amidst all of the doing

So, if you see me at the store, teaching a class, or mom-ing around town, feel free to ask me how well I've been savoring the moments.  A little reminder will go a long way, and I'm always happy to share my journey.

What has the impending New Year brought up for you?  Any goals, thoughts, plans, or ideas?  Will you adopt a WORD OF THE YEAR too?  I'd love to hear yours!

MakeYourselfProud.jpg

Two-thousand seventeen - this is your year, my year, OUR year.  Let's go get it...and savor the heck out of it!

Wishing you peace, joy, and health in 2017,

Tara

Baby (Jagger) Bicep Curl-Shoulder Press

Have you ever seen a woman in jeans and a sweater doing an arm workout with a 20-ish pound baby as her weight?  Can't say "no" to that anymore!  ;-)

When you work primarily from home with a toddler and baby in-tow, you learn to be ok with getting ready either in 30 seconds or spreading it out over the course of the whole day - dressed now, makeup later, hair…eh. 

So what does this mean?  WelI for one, I got out last night.  Woo hoo!  But, it also meant I was clad in my best sweater-over-tank-top-for-easy-breastfeeding and ripped jeans before we got to shoot this demo video.  And yes, it's totally "we", because let's face it…Magnolia and Jagger steal the show.  ;-)

This bicep curl-shoulder press is a great way to work your upper body in one exercise.  The babies enjoy it too!

*Note: Please look out for low ceilings!  Grab those babies tight and only do this move if your little kiddo has complete head and neck control.  Alternatively, use a gallon of milk, a water bottle, or a dumbbell to add resistance.

Do 3 sets of 10 and feel the burn!  Your muscles will thank you.