Chia, Quinoa & Banana Granola Bars

For as long as I can remember I have needed, yes, needed, an afternoon snack.  And since the second trimester, I’ve needed a morning snack, too.  Rumor has it that breastfeeding requires snacks.  So in attempt to make my life a wee-bit easier, I made some granola bars to store in the freezer.

These bars are loaded with good-for-you-stuff like chia seeds, quinoa and oats.  (p.s. oats are also really good for breastfeeding mamas.)  Bananas along with a little maple syrup and dried fruit (I used golden raisins) add sweetness and you get even more crunch from the chopped almonds and pecans.  Peanut butter (or any nut butter) is the glue that holds all these yummy ingredients together.

The bars come together super fast and are then baked for about 25 minutes.  Let them cool completely before cutting into bars.  I wrapped mine individually so that they’re easy to grab for snacks.

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Of course I couldn’t freeze them all without trying one.  Yesterday after my morning sweat sesh, I chowed down on one of the bars and let me tell you, they are delicious.  They’re crunchy yet chewy.  Sweet but not too sweet.  And incredibly filling.

I might need to make a second batch…

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Baby Girl Watson {weeks 35 & 36}

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Size of Baby: Week 35 was my favorite comparison – a pineapple!  And week 36 was a papaya.  At this point, BGW should be between 17 and 18.5 inches long and around 4.2-5.8 pounds.

Weight Gained:  At my 36 week appointment last Thursday, I was up 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight.

Workouts/Exercise:  Still moving every.single.day.  I am trying to space out my high intensity workouts and not have them on back-to-back days.

Sleep:  She’s definitely preparing me for nighttime feedings.  Every time I change positions at night, I wake up.  It’s become more of a “chore” to turn my body (aka belly) over.

Symptoms:  Lots and lots of baby movement!  She is getting those arms and legs ready to stretch.  And I’ve also noticed that I’m really tired in the afternoon – very similar to the first trimester.  BGW is using up a lot of my energy to grow.

Food Aversions:  None!

Cravings and Favorite Foods:  Pepperoni.  We were ordering a pizza with my parents last weekend and I couldn’t get pepperoni off my mind.  And then we made a calzone on Saturday night and the recipe called for prosciutto but I just had to have pepperoni.

Looking forward to…:  Post-birth things like baby snuggles, wearing all my clothes (I know, this may take a while) and WINE.

Baby/Pregnancy Purchases:  This past Saturday we went to Buy Buy Baby and purchased everything that we did not receive from our registry.  I’m most excited about our stroller being delivered.

Other:  All of her clothes are clean and hanging in her closet.  And her room is ready for her arrival.  I find my mind drifting a lot to what life is going to be like with her around and I know that despite our world being turned completely upside down, it will be the best thing that ever happens to us.  It’s been Big Guy and I, just the two of us, for so long.  I also can’t stop thinking about what she’s going to look like, how much she is going to weigh and what her little personality is going to be like.  And on another note, I’m a worrier by nature but I’ve actually been fairly worry-free throughout this pregnancy.  Until now.  I think because we’re so close to having this baby that I can’t help but worry about the unknowns of when she’ll come (aka when I’ll go into labor) and the unknowns of things that can go wrong.  I try to push all the negative thoughts out of my brain as they come, but I can’t lie – I’m afraid.

Yummy Salmon Burgers with Slaw

Big Guy was traveling for work earlier this week so I planned to sneak some salmon onto the menu.  Knowing that he’s not a fan of salmon, I thought it was the nice thing to do.  These salmon burgers require a handful of ingredients and they are insanely delicious.  But don’t forget the slaw – I think my favorite bites included both the salmon burger and the slaw.  Oh, and dill is mandatory in my opinion.  I adore dill and it really makes this dish shine.

I used canned salmon in this recipe but I do not recommend using Trader Joe’s canned salmon.  Unfortunately, the Trader has disappointed me.  The salmon was filled with lots of bone and cartilage.  Once I worked my way through the salmon, making sure all the foreign objects were removed, the salmon was great.

Anyways, don’t let that above paragraph turn you off from these delicious “burgers.”  Simply mix together the salmon, breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free), eggs, salt, garlic powder and herbs (DILL!) in a bowl.  Shape into patties (I ended up making six small burgers) and cook in a little EVOO on the stovetop until browned on both sides.

While the salmon burgers are cooking, prep your slaw.  Since I was only cooking for myself and no one likes soggy slaw, I only made one serving of the slaw.  Into a bowl:  shredded cabbage, Greek yogurt (I used about two tablespoons), splash of vinegar, salt, garlic powder and a drizzle of lemon EVOO (totally optional). Oh, and more herbs (DILL!).

Serve the hot, crispy salmon burgers on top of the cool, crunchy slaw with a sprinkle of salt.

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So satisfying and so healthy.  And packed with omega-3s which means I’m going to have a super smart baby.  hah.

 

The Couple Next Door {book review}

I’ve read several “motherhood” books over the past few months and while I’m sure I’ll continue reading nonfiction-parenting books, I don’t want to forget about my love of fiction and reading after the baby is born.  I also don’t want to become a Netflix-junkie now that I know how to stream it from my iPad.  Instead, I’d like a mix of reading and watching t.v. during feeding sessions.  So I have a written list of books that I will continue to add to all year long and hopefully I’ll knock out a book or two each month.

The first book of 2018:  “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena.

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It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

I could not put this book down!  I’m not sure if it was the best book to read while pregnant but I’m certain that reading it with a newborn would not have been better.  You see, I’m afraid of everything – even my own shadow – so a book about the kidnapping of an infant definitely made my worrying kick in to high gear.  But like I said, once I start reading this book, I didn’t want to stop.

And I was honestly surprised by the last few chapters – like I had no idea how it was going to end.  I read a lot of books that are so predictable (Nantucket love stories that play out like a Hallmark movie) but this book kept me on the edge of my seat bed.

 

Up next:  I’m not entirely sure.  I want to re-read one of my baby books (I am determined to have a child that is on a sleep schedule) but then I’ll probably read an Elin Hilderbrand book (I’m trying to catch up and ready every.single.book she’s written – I think I have five left to read).

What books are on your list for 2018?

Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale

The snow is finally starting to melt!  It’s been brutally cold and despite the fact that we’re having a major warm-up towards the end of the week, I know that we still have some frigid days in our future.  Big Guy and I don’t eat a lot of soup because we really only enjoy it when it’s cold outside.  However, we both love peanut soup – a soup that is inspired by a West African recipe.

Last night was the perfect evening for soup.  After a day of driving back from Charlotte, we wanted something comforting and cozy yet healthy.  Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale comes together in a flash on the stovetop but the recipe has adaptations for both the slow cooker and the instant pot.  There’s no excuse not to make this soup (which is actually more like a stew because of the thickness).

To start the soup, onion, garlic and jalapeño is sautéed in olive oil until softened.  Then you add in the sweet potato.  I cut my sweet potatoes pretty small but you could totally do bigger chunks – especially if you’re cooking this in the slow cooker.  Allow the sweet potatoes to brown just a little bit and then add in the fire roasted tomatoes (juice and all), coconut milk, water, salt, curry powder and peanuts.  Trust me on the peanuts.

This simmers until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add in the peanut butter and the chopped kale and allow to simmer until thickened and the peanut butter has melted into the entire pot of soup.

Serve with an extra sprinkle of peanuts on top.

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So delicious!  I know peanuts seem a little weird in soup but I can’t stress to you how incredible this dish tastes.

 

Baby Girl Watson {Charlotte Baby Shower}

Happy Monday!  We just got back from a weekend trip to Charlotte for my baby shower.  It was a busy weekend, to say the least, but I was overwhelmed by the love of family and friends.  Unfortunately my Momma was down for the count with some back problems but she had done enough prep work that Big Guy and I along with my Dad and other family members were able to make sure the shower went on!  From the food to the decor to the company, it was a wonderful afternoon.  The shower was mostly family but I did have a few childhood friends plus a college friend come – it was so fun to see faces of those I don’t see very often.

My goal this week is to go through ALL the “baby stuff” before we head to Buy Buy Baby for one final haul this coming weekend.  I’m officially ready to nest!

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It’s no surprise that there were lots of flamingos at my shower – and my Momma, once again, outdid herself with the diaper cake.  She should really consider making and selling these beautiful cakes.

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Loved seeing my sister (thank you for all your help, Maggie!) and my sister-in-law plus one of the cutest little boys, Tanner.

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So thankful that Kat was able to join us – she’s a college friend and I haven’t seen her in WAY too long.

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Friends since before I can remember.  I hope to make it back to Charlotte soon with BG for a little play date with these two lovely ladies and their kiddos.

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And four of the best soon-to-be-aunts.  I know they are going to kill it when it comes to loving BG.  I hope to squeeze some babysitting out of them, too.

Welp – the countdown is on.  I’m officially in my ninth month of pregnancy and we have about four weeks until her due date.  Time is flying!!!

Friday Favorites

The first Friday and weekend of 2018 is here!  And I’m really excited about this weekend because I’m having my last baby shower in Charlotte on Sunday.  I’m really excited to see my family, a few friends that I haven’t seen in ages and to celebrate our little girl one last time before she’s born.  Stay warm out there my friends!

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Favorite Warm:  Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale.  This is totally happening next week.  I adore peanut soup and this version is loaded with deliciousness while being super healthy.

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Favorite Super Bowl:  Addicting Baked Seasoned Ritz Crackers.  The truth is, I have no idea where we’ll be for the Super Bowl.  For all I know, we could be in the hospital having a baby.  But these crackers are screaming my name.

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Favorite Bake List:  Chocolate Babka Pull Apart Muffins.  This is not the recipe for a quick brunch item.  Instead, this is a kitchen project.  And I think it’s the perfect thing to tackle on one of the weekends leading up to my due date.

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Favorite Look Back:  Hopeful Images from 2017.  Looking back at 2017 can sometimes be horrifying – so much evil.  But I prefer to look at all the wonderful things or little moments of love and compassion.

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Favorite Stash the Freezer:  Yummy Salmon Burgers with Slaw.  Not only do I need to be eating more salmon right now (hello, brain development for BG) but I love salmon and these are the perfect quick lunch or dinner option.  In fact, I think I should make a batch just for the freezer for post-baby.  And while the slaw isn’t something that will last in the fridge for the long, it’s easily pulled together.

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Favorite Football Food:  Super Easy Cheesy Monkey Bread.  Another Super Bowl option!  Carbs + Cheese = Life.

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Favorite Upgrade:  Nike Flex 2017 RN Mesh Sneakers.  My athletic shoes take a beating.  Most days they are the only shoes I wear.  These are not only functional but pretty.

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Favorite Sweet Treat:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Chocolate Bark.  Wow.  That’s really all I have to say about that.

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Favorite Baby Related: Everything We Used & Bought in the First Two Weeks with Our Newborn.  After this weekend, I’ll be in 100% nesting mode.  I need to get the nursery (mainly her clothes and “stuff”) organized along with pack my hospital bag.  And despite all my efforts to be prepared, I know for a fact that we’ll be making an Amazon Prime purchase or two after she’s born.

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Favorite Celebrate:  Spiced Merlot Sparkling Punch.  We went out to lunch last week for Big Guy’s birthday and he ordered the sangria (totally random).  I took a sip and was 100% jealous.  I am so ready to be able to order a cocktail again.

Cheers!