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Humble Luxury Bone Broth

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I’m so excited to be sharing recipes again. After a 5 year hiatus from sharing in a space like this, it feels good to be back at it with a whole lot more life experience and a very clear perspective in the kitchen.

To kick things off, I’m sharing a foundational element from my kitchen: bone broth.

I like to drink a mug of bone broth with breakfast and usually rely pretty heavily on it for quick, nutrient dense dinners and lunches.


Humble Luxury Bone Broth

To understand the unique layout of my ratio based recipes & the categories mentioned, check out this Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen.


CATEGORIES

Pregnancy | Postpartum | Menstruation | Sleep Deprivation | Immune Boosting

INGREDIENTS

The Essentials:

  • Chicken Bones - backs, necks

  • Water

Basic Ratio:

  • 1 : 1.5 lbs of bones to quarts of water
    For every 1lb of chicken bones used, you’ll need roughly 1.5 quarts of water. You can use more water if you need to stretch your ingredients, especially if you add anything from the optional add in list. Adding more water without add ins will make your broth less flavorful & not as gelatinous, but it’s totally doable if you need to get more from your pounds of bones.

Optional Add-Ins:

These add ins also build on the ratio above, for every 1 lb of bones used, use roughly the amounts below. Adjust based on how much broth you’re making and what you have in your kitchen. Again, these are rough estimates. If you only have 1 TBSP of vinegar or 1 onion for 6 lbs of bones, it’s okay. You’ll still end up with bone broth, the flavor will just be a bit different.

  • 1 chicken wing (the tip boosts collagen, the meat boosts flavor)

  • 2 chicken feet (to boost collagen)

  • 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar and/or

  • 1/2 TBSP black vinegar

  • 1/2 cup white or yellow onion or onion scraps from cooking throughout the week

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 celery stalk

  • assortment of culinary herbs like thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, sage, etc.

  • 1/4 - 1/2 inch fresh turmeric root

  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger root

  • healthy pinch each of black pepper and salt

    A note about medicinal herbs before we continue:
    I’m not an herbalist. I can’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t take. There are a lot of factors that are involved in that level of advice. What I can share is what I use for myself in my kitchen. Please remember our bodies are different, our needs are different, and our different access points to herbs varies. If you’re interested in knowing more about medicinal herbs for your specific needs, I recommend looking into herbalists in your area.
    And if you’re passionate about herbs & access, I recommend supporting Seed, Root, Bloom - an herbal school for and by people who are black, indigenous, and from historically racially oppressed communities.

    Ok, back to optional add-ins:

  • 1/4 cup fresh or dried nettle leaf

  • 1 fresh burdock root or 1/4 cup dried burdock root

  • 1/4 cup astragalus root

When I add herbs & onion to my broth, I also typically increase the water I use by about 1/2 quart.


THE PROCESS

  • Place bones, feet, and wings (if using) into the appropriate pot (see below).

  • Roughly chop up vegetables & herbs if using and add to the bones.

  • Top with water.

Stove Top & Crockpot | 12 - 24 hours:

  • Cook on low for 12 - 24 hours.
    For stove top: use a medium - large stock pot, depending on the amount of ingredients you use.
    For crockpot: use the included pot.

Instant Pot | 2.5 - 3 hours:

  • Place all ingredients into the pot.

  • Double check to make sure
    1. everything is below the MAX line
    2. your sealing ring is in place on the lid
    3. the steam release knob is turned to the ‘sealing’ position.

  • Lock the lid.

  • Press manual button and set to 120 minutes
    *Note: it typically takes 15-30 minutes for the pressure cooker to fully pressurize. The timer will show once the instant pot is at full pressure.

  • After the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally. Just like pressurizing in the beginning, this will take about 15-30 minutes. The float valve will fall when the pressure has released.

  • Strain broth and serve, or allow the broth to chill & store it as needed (see below).

Find Your way

Humble luxury in the kitchen is all about finding the way that works for you based on your needs, desires, and resources. I encourage you to explore with what I’ve offered here and find your favorite way to make your broth. If you make a batch you don’t love, take notes and try something different next time. Think like your grandmother in the kitchen. Use your sense, your hands, your ears, your eyes. Let your food sing to you!

Storing:

Fridge: 1 week
Freezer: 6 months-ish

If you use broth in cooking, consider freezing in ice cube trays or in 1 cup portions. This will allow you to pull a small amount out at a time and will help to avoid waste.

When Freezing in
Glass Jars:
make sure to leave 1.5 - 2 inches of space from the broth to the top of the jar to allow room for expansion. I also recommend letting the broth freeze fully before screwing the lid on. This will keep your glass jars from breaking.
You can use dry erase marker on the lid before freezing to note when the broth was made.

Silicone Bags: Again, make sure to leave room for expansion. Most silicone bags have a fill line and typically account for frozen goods. I recommend using the freezer door (if you have one with shelves) to let the broth freeze upright. Once fully frozen, it can be moved anywhere in the freezer without worry of spilling.

And of course, any other means of storage will work too. Just always make sure to leave room for expansion - even in plastic.


Now i want to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to make broth? Share your broth on Instagram and use the #humbleluxuryinthekitchen or share below.

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An Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen

Photo of my kitchen by Sam Stenson on 120mm film.

Photo of my kitchen by Sam Stenson on 120mm film.

As I return to recipe sharing after a 5 year hiatus, I’m excited to do so through lens of humble luxury.

HUMBLE LUXURY is the idea that luxury, pleasure, and safety aren’t exclusive experiences for those who can buy it. These are feelings that live within us and are available to all of us. No matter your budget, humble luxury in the kitchen is all about finding a way that works for you.

This is a process designed to help you meet your unique diet, budget, needs, and desires based on what you have access to. This post is here to explain what that means and how it relates to the food on my blog.


Recipe Categories:

You’ll see me mark each humble luxury recipe with categories that note when it’s good to eat this meal. This is a way to both share resources to help you support your body & family with greater ease, and have a quick guide when exploring the recipes on my site.

When recipes are tagged with the following categories, they may check the box for one or all reasons listed below.

  • Hidden Healthies | exactly as it sounds! nutrient dense nourishment hidden inside something like a pancake or cookie

  • Pregnancy | deeply nourishing, hidden healthies to curb cravings, iron rich, protein rich, fat rich

  • Postpartum  | warming, easy to digest, fat rich, protein rich, iron rich

  • Menstruation  | iron rich, easy to digest, deeply nourishing

  • Immune Boosting | easy to digest, immune supporting herbs & foods

  • Sleep Deprivation | easy to digest, deeply nourishing, easy to make, stores well, freezes, tastes good when cold from fridge

  • Toddlerhood | hidden healthies, easy to pack & travel with, easy to hold, fun to include little hands in the cooking process, make ahead & save



Ratios vs. recipes:

Rather than using the common style of recipe sharing, I much prefer to use ratios. To me, this feels more traditional - like something our grandmothers did. They used about this much of one thing and about that much of another. They cooked with their senses. They smelled, tasted, measured in their palms, picked things up to feel weight, and listened to the songs of their ingredients.

This is how I like to cook and my ratio based recipes are intended to be the foundation that allows you to do the same. This will give you more freedom to explore what you have on hand in your kitchen so you can use what you’ve got, instead of buying new ingredients.

What this looks like:

Rather than saying you need 4lbs of bones and 6 quarts of water for bone broth, I share my ratio of bone broth which is roughly 1 : 1.5 (read as ‘1 to 1.5’). That means for every 1 lb of bones used, you’ll need about 1.5 quarts of water. So if you have 3 lbs of bones, you’ll need 4.5 quarts of water. I say roughly because with bone broth, it really is flexible. If you only have 1 lb of bones on hand but you need more than 1.5 qts of bone broth (and if you’re using a stovetop or crock pot method, note some of that water will cook off) then add more! You can always add more flavor with onions, garlic, and other veggies. It’s a guideline.

When I don’t use ratios:

If a recipe calls for an exact amount of something (often in baked goods with leavening ingredients like baking soda) I’ll note it specifically. If something can be loose, I’ll let you know. If it needs to be exact, I’ll let you know that too.



The essentials and then some:

You’ll also notice the ingredients lists for my recipes & ratios are different than most. I’ll always bold the absolute essential ingredients for a recipe and have additional add ins listed as optional.

I do this so that the recipe are accessible financially to many different households. You can scale the recipes I share up and down based on your budget and family size.

Example:

Continuing with the bone broth ratio, you’ll see the recipe listed like this:

The Essentials:

  • 1 lb chicken bones

  • 1.5 quarts water

Optional Add Ins:

  • 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 white or yellow onion

  • 1/4 cup dried or fresh nettle leaf

  • etc.

See the full recipe for Humble Luxury Bone Broth here.If anything needs to adjust in the basic ratio based on the add ins, that’ll be noted. For example, in the bone broth, if adding an onion & herbs I would also add 1/2 quart more water.

I’m excited to share this new perspective in the kitchen with you!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What do you think about humble luxury in the kitchen?

8 Blockages That Keep You From Reading + Advice to Break the Barrier

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People often ask me where I get my inspiration from and how I stay inspired when I’m feeling so exhausted. The best answer I can find these days is reading.

As I prepare to launch the first month of the VNM Virtual Book Club, I took a moment to check in with the community to see what blocks are holding you all back from picking up a book.

Here’s what you had to say with some advice to break through the blockages.


1.“My phone distracts me.”

Try This: Leave your book in the bathroom and don’t bring your phone with you when you go to the bathroom. Read while you’re on the toilet, while you’re brushing your teeth, or if you manage the space - while you’re in the tub.

or Try This:
Think of this as an opportunity to practice boundary setting with yourself. The more fluent & efficient you become with setting boundaries with yourself, the easier it become to set boundaries with others. So, if setting boundaries feels important and valuable to you, this is where you can start. Try 5 minutes of reading without looking at your phone, then increase after a few days. Set a timer if you feel uneasy & distracted.


2.“I never know what to read.”

Try This: Join the book club! I’ll pick the books for you so you don’t have to worry about that. If a particular topic doesn’t interest you, you can choose from the ‘additional books’ list at the bottom of the 2019 tentative reading list outline.

3.“I don’t have the time.”

Try This: As a new parent, I feeeelll you! Try setting a daily page goal for yourself and set it low - even 1 page! Then leave your book in the bathroom and read while you’re in there.
I set my daily reading goal at 2 pages so I feel I can actually accomplish it. This simple goal helps me get the book in my hand. Some days those 2 pages are a struggle, but other days I cruise through a whole chapter. For me, it all tends to even out to about 1 book per month. And in the book club, I’ve even mapped out some daily page goals to help you finish!

4.“I can’t get time away from my kids.”

Try This: Include your kids! Depending on their age, you can make reading time either quiet solo play time (if they’re not reading on their own yet) or family reading time. Set an appropriate time for reading/solo play based on your child’s age. And to help the kids feel empowered in understanding the boundary, use a kitchen time to let them see and hear how long reading time lasts. Pair this with a low daily page goal and I think you might surprise yourself! With my babe, who is still too young for independent reading and would be immediately interested in chewing on my book, I typically read while they nap.

(If you’re thinking, “no way, not my kids. my kids are maniacs and never stop moving.” consider just giving it a shot for 10 minutes a day for one month. Kids may not take to a new habit after 1 day or even 1 week, but after a month they’ll likely settle in. If not, it may be worth considering asking a professional in your area for some boundary setting tips or heading to an early literature story circle at your local library.)

5.“I feel like there’s something more valuable/productive for me to be doing and/or feel guilty not working or doing housework.”

Try This: Try reframing the dialogue. What do you receive from reading? Inspiration? Creative energy? A relaxing moment away from the stress of the day? And what does that give to you? Does it help you become more present? Does it make you a more focused parent? Does it help you create greater impact in your life?

If you bring your focus to what you’re receiving from reading, prioritizing it will be easy if that thing is important to you.

I personally also prefer to read books that offer tangible skills that I can implement immediately in my life. That helps me stay focused because I know 5 minutes spent reading is an investment in myself, my home, my family, and my business.

6.“I have trouble staying focused/I think too much while I read.”

Try This: Find a better book. If you constantly find yourself drifting away from the page, put that book down and find one that captivates you. Once you have a book that really pulls you in, if you find yourself occasionally drifting, that’s likely a sign that what you’ve read feels important to you. Take a minute to close the book and let yourself think about what was introduced. Explore how it relates to your life and how you could use the words to create impact. Then dive on back into the pages.

(A little example of this: I started and stopped 5 books last year because they just weren’t the right books for me to read at that particular moment time. The books were good, interesting, well written, well researched, and still I struggled to get through a page. That was a sign that the book just wasn’t the right fit for my current situation. Once I found a good fit, I easily read my page goal each day and even surpassed it most of the time.)

7.“I’m tapped out from mental and emotional output and can’t seem to absorb/focus on a book.”

Try This: Prioritize rest and then find a different book.
Regarding rest: hey, I’ve got you covered here! I’ve created a free 5 day rest reclamation workshop that takes only 10 minutes per day - and it’s emailed right to you!
Now, if a book is draining you mentally and emotionally, it’s not the best book to be reading right now. When you find the book that’s right for you right now, it’ll energize you, excite you, fill you up. And on days when you’re feeling scraped out, that book can be just the battery charge you need to get through the day. (And of course, somedays, nothing beats a nap.)

8.“I have Depression/anxiety/PTSD”

Try This: I understand this one well. My best offering here is to focus on reading books that inspire you and spark joy. Avoid books that are triggering or talk about topics that are deeply charged without offering solutions. Once you’re feeling more centered, you could always circle around to a more challenging topic. But honestly, I say, focus on your joy while reading and you may find a new tool to help you navigate this heaviness.

Now I want to hear from you! What blockages do you face when trying to read and how do you navigate them?

VNM Virtual Book Club | January: Community Forum

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Welcome to the VNM January Book Club Forum

We’ll use the comments section of this post to share our reflections, thoughts, and stories from reading the month’s book, Essentialism. I’ll be updating this post every Monday with my favorite quotes & thoughts and I’m excited to hear from you!

The January book is my top recommendation when people ask. I read it at least once a year and I am so excited to finally have a group of people to read it with! So, let’s dive in…


Guidelines for sharing:

  • You can share at any time. You don’t need to wait for my updates. The space is open and here at any time of day for you!

  • Keep it clean & kind. Racist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic, sexist, etc. comments will not be tolerated in this space.

  • No Unsolictied Advice. If someone is sharing vulnerably about their experience with a book, that is not an invitation for unsolicited advice. If you have something to offer you can ask first, but that ask must be paired with a willingness to receive no as a response.
    Intention is not important here, it’s the impact of what you say that matters.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Week One

Well, I’m sitting here writing this unexpectedly from San Francisco. Daren got a last minute job in New York City, so Daelu and I took off for our first solo adventure. After a long day of travel, we’re here in SF.

Since I’m solo this week, I’m just starting with my favorite quotes from week 1. I have a lot more to say about why I love these pieces and how they’ve been with me over the years since I first read this book, but for now we’ll start here:

  • “How many times have you resented committing to do something and wondered, ‘Why did I sign up for this?” How often do you say yes simply to please? Or to avoid trouble? Or because “yes” had just become your default response?”

  • “The way of the Essentialist isn’t about setting New Year’s resolutions to say “no” more, or about pruning you in-box, or about mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to ask, Am I investing in the right activities?”

  • “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.”

  • “…sunk-cost bias: studied have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and thus that we find them more difficult to get rid of. If you’re not quite there, ask the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?” This usually does the trick.

  • “Essentialism is about creating a system for handling the close of our lives. This is not a process you undertake once a year, once a month, or even once a week, like organizing your closet. It is a discipline you apply to each and every time you are faced with a decision about whether to say yes or whether to politely decline. it’s a method for making the tough trade-off between lots of good things and a few really great things. It’s about learning how to do less but better so you can achieve the highest possible return on every precious moment of your life.”

  • “What do I feel inspired by? and What am I particularly talented at? and What meets a significant need in the world?”

  • “As Peter Drucker said, “People are effective because they say ‘no,’ because they say, ‘this isn’t for me.’”

  • What is schools eliminated busywork and replace it with important projects that made a difference to the whole community? What if all students had time to think about their highest contribution to their future so that when they left high school they were not just starting on the race to nowhere?

  • Mary Oliver “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

  • There are deeply entrenched assumptions we must conquer to live the way of the Essentialist: “I have to,” “It’s all important,” and “I can do both.”

  • To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.”

  • For too long, we have overemphasized the external aspect of choices (our options) and underemphasized our internal ability to choose (our actions). …Think about it this way. Options (things) can be taken away, while our core ability to choose (free will) cannot.

  • When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices - or even a function of our own past choices. In turn, we surrender our power to choose.

  • What is the most valuable result I could achieve from this job?

  • The overwhelming reality is: we live in a world where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. As John Maxwell has written, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

  • A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “ Which problem do I want to solve?” An Essentialists makes trade-offs deliberatel. …As Economist Thomas Sowell wrote: “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

VNM Virtual Book Club | January Book Introduction

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I am so excited for this first month of the book club! We’re kicking things off with my #1 book recommendation: Essentialism. Below you’ll find details about the book, daily page goals, plus goal trackers.

Before we dive in, I want to say this:

Don’t let your goal slow your progress.

Sometimes having a specific goal can work against us. If you goal is to read 8 pages a day but you feel exhausted and you don’t even read one, don’t let that keep you from ever picking the book up again. Just reassess & restructure your goal to meet your needs. Maybe you add 1 extra page for the following week, maybe you give yourself an additional day at the end.

Whatever pace you go at, just keep picking up your book.

Need more support with this? Check out these 2 posts:

Why I picked this book:

I’ve read many inspiring and life changing books over the years, but Essentialism has by far been the most impactful. Although it’s written from a business perspective, the content in this book reaches into every corner of life. I’ve found the direct & realistic examples much more impactful that a standard self-help book. This road map to living simply and making your greatest impact is a must read if you feel overwhelmed and underutilized.

About the book (via Amazon):

“Have you ever felt the urge to declutter your work life?
Do you often find yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you frequently busy but not productive?
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.
 
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.  

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to do less, but better, and declutter and organize their own their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.”

Daily page goals:

Finish in 1 month:

8 page per day, 7 days per week | 56 pages / week
or
9 pages Monday - Friday, 11 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 56 pages /week

Finish in 2 months:

4 pages per day, 7 days per week | 28 pages / week
or
5 pages M-F, 3 pages Saturday, 0 pages Sunday | 28 pages / week

Goal Tracker

To track your goal, print out the calendar sheet below (click to download). Once printed, fill in your daily page goal in pencil (so you can adjust if need be) and hang it somewhere you’ll regularly see it. I like to use the inside of kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, or a next to the bathroom sink.

click the image to download


6 Ways to Find Time to Journal

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1. Stay Committed not attached to the process.

If you miss a day, you miss a day. Don’t let it slow you down. Your success isn’t in the doing itself but rather in the feelings you’ll get from the time spent reflection.

2. Set accessible goals

Set your goals low so you can actually reach them. Explore what would be a realistic goal for you, and try setting your initial goal a bit lower than that so you can build trust and momentum.

3. Don’t Find Time, Prioritize time

If taking time to reflect is a priority for you, ask yourself daily, “what am I willing to sacrifice to journal today?” This question will help you stay present each day with your needs and capacity. And some days journaling won’t be a priority. On those days, it’ll be easy to step away with this perspective. Rather than becoming a point of shame and failure, this will be a clear reflection that you’re taking care of yourself and prioritizing your needs appropriately.

4. Write in the In Between Moments

If you find it difficult to sit down in the midst of parenting, working, creating, processing, healing, etc., try scattering your journal(s) around the house. Engage with them randomly throughout the day in short spurts. Leave one in your living room where you can write a sentence or two at a time. Leave one in your bathroom, one year your bed, one at your desk. Let your journals live in a place where you find yourself making a regular, effortless, and consistent imprint in your life. Then use the whispers of time you may otherwise scroll away to reflect.

5. Get Inspired by your own experience

Go back & read your old writings every now and then when you’re feeling uninspired. This will remind you how powerful it is to capture the fullness of your feelings when you’re feeling them, and can act as a great source of fuel to your process.

6. Use the golden minutes of the day to write

These are the moments before everyone in your home wakes up, and the moments after everyone has gone to bed. Even if it’s just 1 or 2 minutes spent writing before you head off to bed yourself, use that golden silence!

Now it’s your turn! Share how you find time to journal below.

Journals & Planners for a Focused & Creative 2019

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These are the journals & planers I’m using to kick start and focus my 2019 goals:

PLANNERS:

The Passion Planner
I’ve been using this planner for the past 5 years and I absolutely love it! This year I’ve opted for the larger version which lives at my desk for internal business planning.

The Unsolicited Advice Planner by Adam JK
This is a new one I’m working into the rotation. It’s smaller than my passion planner and a bit more casual. I’m keeping this one tucked into my person for personal planning.

PRIVATE JOURNALS:

The Redefining Success Journal by me!
This is the journal I created after my experience postpartum and it’s a system I genuinely love. The daily prompts help me feel inspired and push me to center my joy, even on tough days.

Today I Affirm by Alexandra Elle
I love everything Alex Elle creates and I’m so excited for the release of this new journal in January. I’ll be weaving it into my rotation once my copy arrives!

These Three Things by Lisa Anderson Shaffer
I love to reflect at the end of the day on what lessons I learned. I think this is a really unique perspective on daily journaling and while some days it’s challenge, I love that it pushes me to really inspect & dissect my daily experiences.

FAMILY JOURNALS:

The Kinship Family Journal by Summer Robertson
This is a new journal I’m trying for the first time this year. I received a copy after backing their Kickstarter and I look forward to seeing how this linen hardcover journal captures us as a whole family.

Blank Leather Bound for Daelu
Since I was 36 weeks pregnant (minus 6 weeks postpartum) I’ve been keeping a journal for Daelu. It’s a simple leather bound journal that I try to write in at least once a week.

Monthly Family Journal
Since 2016 Daren and I have been keeping a joint journal. At the start of the year we write our word of the year and pick words to anchor each month. We casually come to the journal whenever we remember to free write and always sit down once a month on the New Moon to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, what our goals are for the next month, what we’re dreaming about, and how our anchor word is/isn’t guiding us. In 2018 we fell off the wagon a bit as we settled into parenthood, but I’m excited to recenter into the practice as we enter 2019. We’re still using the same book we got in 2016 so it feels like a living time capsule.
The journal we’re using is one from Shorthand based in LA.

WHERE MY JOURNALS LIVE:

  • I leave Daelu’s leather journal & These Three Things in the bathroom to write in at the end of the day after I brush my teeth. I keep this reflection to maybe 5 minutes and don’t feel so attached to completing them both everyday.

  • My Passion Planner and The Redefining Success Journal live at my desk for focused business work, creative goal scoping, and to fuel my sense of accomplishment when I sit down to work.

  • The Unsolicited Advice Planner lives in my purse for life planning.

  • The Kinship Family Journal lives on the living room credenza.

  • Our Monthly Family Journal lives in the kitchen.

  • Today I Affirm will go next to my bed to do first thing in the morning once it arrives in January!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What journal/planner are you using this year? How do you come to your practice of reflection?

(Some Of) My Favorite Content Creators

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This alphabetical list is a work in progress and still being updated.

Abbey Lossing

Adam JK

Alex Elle

Annie Segarra

Corrine Loperfido

Dallas Goldtooth

Daren Thomas Magee (I mean, obviously my partner makes the list.)

Darnell Moore

Franchesca Ramsey

Graham Keegan

Kenesha Sneed

Laura Berger

Layla Saad

Libby Vanderploeg

Lindsay Amer, Queer Kids Stuff

Lisa Congdon

Marie Forleo

Mari Sierra

Megan Garcia

Melanie Abrantes

Michelle Norris

Rachel Cargle

Rain Dove

Rebecca Artemisa

Rupi Kaur

Seth Godin

Valarie Kaur

Weshoyot

Xiuhtezcatl

Yiyi Mendoza

From the Community: I love to be reminded of...

The ‘From the Community’ series of posts is a compilation of everything you have to say. The first post comes as a poetic reflection of what brings us comfort, joy, and strength.

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I asked all of you on Instagram, ‘what do you love to be reminded of?’

Here’s what you said:

Mountains 

How far I’ve come

Drink water

I am enough

There is enough 

The only moment is now 

I am protected

I will always land on my feet

Other people have the same struggles as me 

I’m not broken, I’m simply feeling

The human experiences includes suffering 

Gratitude 

I am included 

Slow down 

I am loved

I am a great mother 

Friendship 

I will be ok even when things in my life aren’t ok 

What it feels like to fall in love

How I was when I was a kid

My kindness

My creativity

To breathe

We’re all in this together 

I’m capable

My life is guided

Everything will always be okay

Slow down

I am appreciated

My true self can be shown because it’s always loved

Times of happiness

Gratitude

I am loved

I matter

Magical moments from childhood

Everything is energy and I’m connected to it all

Gratitude for this beautiful life

My childhood 

My grandmother

That caterpillars liquify in their cocoons and then transform from cellular sludge

I am enough

I am worthy

It’s okay to not be okay

The people I care about are proud of me

I can do anything I put my mind to

Happy times with family

Don’t take things so seriously

B r e a t h

Divine love - sometimes hard to see, hard to feel, but always there

Breath

Be gentle with myself

I’m not alone 

all human emotions bond us

I bring joy to others

Magic

My “big problems” are insignificant to the universe

True joy to come

My strength

I am loved, valued, and respected

To believe in myself 

Thoughts become things

How someone else sees me.

It’s okay to rest.

Vegan Chocolate Ganache

This is a recipe from my 2014 blog archive and it’s one I still absolute adore today! A lot has changed since I originally wrote & photographed this recipe, but it’s still a go-to of mine!

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Chocolate ganache is on my list of favorite chocolate treats. Why? Because this stuff is super versatile and it creates a big impact with minimal effort. Pour it on a cake or cookies, whip it for frosting, or roll it for truffles...you just can't go wrong. And it only takes about 10 minutes to make. It’s kitchen magic.

  

VEGAN CHOCOLATE GANACHE

8 oz dark chocolate or enjoy life chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut fat*
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
*full fat canned coconut milk stored in the fridge over night, fat skimmed off the top

 

Measure chocolate chips into a glass bowl and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan bring coconut fat to a boil.

Once boiling, pour over chocolate chips immediately and whisk until completely melted.

Stir in coconut oil until melted.

Add vanilla and salt.

 

Pour onto cake, tart, cupcakes, pie, ice cream, etc. immediately, or place in the fridge to harden for truffles or frosting.

For truffles, let the ganache firm, then roll into small balls. Once formed, you can top your truffles with anything like chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cacao powder, or matcha.

For frosting, let ganache firm, then beat with an electric mixer to fluff. It will still be a dense frosting, but will be lighter than the truffles once whipped.

Now I want to hear from you!

What are you dreaming of using this chocolate ganache for?

Lavender & Earl Grey Mocktail

This recipe was originally written in September of 2014. I found it in an old blog archive and wanted to share because it’s still a favorite of mine. I’ve been sober for nearly 5 years now and having a nice mocktail at a gathering is a great feeling. Also, this one is super special because it’s one of the drinks we had on offer at our wedding in 2013! Hope you all enjoy it!

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Recently I whipped up one of my favorite homemade drinks, lavender + earl grey soda. I don't drink alcohol much but I still enjoy something fun to drink at a gathering and this is my go to. This one is great for hosting parties because one drink can satisfy both your n/a friends and those enjoying alcohol with one simple substitution.


 LAVENDER + EARL GREY MOCKTAIL

Lavender Simple Syrup

1/4 c organic lavender buds
1/4 c coconut palm sugar
1/4 c water

Heat the water to a boil and combine with sugar. Stir until combined. Let cool and add lavender buds. Allow the lavender to infuse for 48 hours. Strain into a ball jar.

Earl Grey Simple Syrup

1 TBSP earl grey tea
1/4 c coconut palm sugar
1/4 water

Heat the water to a boil and combine with sugar. Stir until combined. To infuse there are 2 options: place the tea into a tea ball and place into hot simple syrup for 4 minutes, or let syrup cool and infuse tea for 48 hours.

Mocktail/Cocktail

Wet the rim of a glass with water & dip into coconut palm sugar. Combine 2 TBSP lavender syrup with 1 TBSP earl grey syrup. Top with soda water or champagne. Garnish with lavender flowers.

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Now I want to hear from you!

What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink to serve to guests? Comment & share it below!

Medicinal Support for Fire Recovery

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My husband and I have been evacuated from our home in Ojai, CA since Tuesday 5 December 2017 due to the Thomas Fire. As of writing this on December 13th, the fire is 237,000 acres and is 25% contained. As most of you know, I am nearly 6 months pregnant which has made this time extra tender. 

As we prepare to return home soon (hopefully) we are preparing ourselves to stay well protected from the ash and smoke in our beloved valley. Compiling this list helped me feel a little more calm about our return and clear on how we can keep our systems supported.

This list is a mixture of recommendations from various sources including Drs. (via posts in Thomas Fire community FB groups), 9/11 survivors who dealt with smoke for weeks, herbalists, and general wellness practices I use.

I wanted to compile this list to make shopping easier for all of us and as a means for easily referencing daily practices to help our systems.

This is a general list from many sources. This is not a comprehensive list and should be filtered through your own physicals needs.

There is a PDF of the list available for download at the bottom of this post if you would like to print and/or save this information.

General Supplements:

  • Vitamin C 1-3000 mgs per day in divided doses

  • Vitamin E at least 200 IUs

  • Alfa Lipoic Acid 2-600 mgs

  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 4-600 mgs twice per day

  • Vitamin A 10,000 units

  • Vitamin D

  • Antioxidants in any form (greens, green powders, berry powders, green tea, etc.)

  • Any lung expectorant tonics/herb formulas you can fin

Herbal Lung Support:

  • Mullein

  • Osha

  • Eucalyptus

  • Lungwort

  • Oregano

  • Licorice Root

  • Hyssop

  • Red Clover

  • Nettle

Mushrooms for Lung Support:

  • Reishi

  • Cordyceps

Eye Support:

  • Pleo Muc homeopathic eye drops from Germany (available on Amazon)

  • Similasan eye drops

  • Very diluted Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in Filtered Water dropped into the eyes

  • General OTC drops like Visine can also help with inflammation and lubrication


Adrenal Support:

  • Trace Mineral Supplement (usually available as drops that can be added to water)

  • Magnesium

  • Herbs/Oil: Lemonbalm, Valerian, Passionflower, Lavender

  • Any herbs/tonics/herbs for anxiety and/or adrenal support

Serotonin Support:

  • 5-HTP 50-100mgs taken in the evening

  • L-Tryptophane 500mgs taken in the evening

  • L-Tyrosine 500-1000mgs taken in the morning


Daily Practices:

  • Wear N95 Mask & Goggles outside

  • Beeswax Salve at bottom of nostrils (under N95 mask)

  • Coconut Oil Pulling

  • Salt Water Gargle before eating/drinking (or at least 2X per day)

  • Neti Pot Sinus Rinse

  • Stay well hydrated - more than usual

  • Nightly shower to rinse ash/smoke from hair

  • Shoes off before entering your living space

  • Wash clothing regularly

  • Vacuum living space regularly - preferably with a HEPA filter (dusting is not enough)

  • HEPA filter air purifier

  • Wash all food that has been on counter and/or outside thoroughly

Pregnancy/Breastfeeding Safe:

  • Wish Garden makes nice pregnancy safe herbal formulas including Cold Season (good for respiratory health), Immune Boost, and Stress Relief (available on Amazon and *potentially* at Rainbow Bridge)

  • Mushrooms: Reishi

  • Herbs: Nettle Leaf, Wild Cherry Bark, Elderflower, Milky Oat Tops, Oatstraw

  • Immune Boost: Elderberry Syrup, Bone Broth, Probiotics, Apple Cider Vinegar shot with Garlic, Lemon, Onion

  • Vitamins & Supplements: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Antioxidants (greens, green powders, berry powders, etc.)

  • Adrenal Support: Trace Mineral Supplement, Magnesium, Lemonbalm, Lavender, Chamomile, Plus the tools listed below

  • Eyes: *Very* diluted Apple Cider Vinegar in Filter Water as eye drops, I am not clear on the other eye drops listed above

  • All Daily Practices listed above are safe

Baby & Kid Safe:

  • If Breastfeeding: Breastfeed often - baby will get all good stuff through your milk.

  • If Bottle/Food Feeding: Keep liquids up

  • Diffuse: lemon, eucalyptus

  • Run Air Purifiers & Humidifier

  • Wish Garden: Kids herbal formulas

  • Infant Saline Drops & the Nose Frida

  • Since we have to stay indoors, it’s a good time to get creative with activities. Fort building, food art (potato stamps, macaroni art, yogurt finger painting for babies, etc.) scavenger/treasure hunts, cardio workouts to burn energy like jumping jack competitions.

Easy & Free Tools for Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System:

  • Speak Slowly

  • Move Slowly

  • Speak in a deeper tone of voice

  • Breathe deep and slowly if the air allows

  • Give a gentle shake/rock to your body (think of a baby being rocked to sleep)

VNM Book Club | 2018 Reading List

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Well, 2018 is coming to a close and I love taking time to recap on all I’ve learned, made, integrated, and accomplished. One of my favorite ways to recap a year is to look over everything I read. So here are my 2018 books and what I loved about each!

  1. Essentialism by Greg McKeown: When people ask for my #1 book recommendation, it’s always this book! Although it’s written from a business perspective, I find the concepts outlined to be foundational in all corners of life. I read this book at least once each year and integrate new pieces of knowledge each time.

    I would consider this an essential read for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, stretched thin, confused, and exhausted.

  2. How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman: This book, backed by decades of research, has helped to give language to practices I knew I wanted to create but didn’t know how to name. It’s help me focus my actions and release the shame that often comes from making the ‘wrong’ decision as a parent. Also, it’s been a great resource to get the whole family on the same page. I plan on adding this book to my annual reading rotation too because it has bits of wisdom for many different ages.

    This is a fantastic book for parents, but also for any adults who feel ready to understand how their early childhood may have emotionally impacted them.

  3. Worth It by Amanda Steinberg: Hands down the most impactful read of the year! After reading this book, I used Amanda’s systems to build spreadsheets and daily money habits that have radically shifted the financial foundation of our household.

    For anyone overwhelmed & feeling shame surrounding their finances, read this now.

  4. This Is Marketing by Seth Godin: Seth Godin has been a huge inspiration for me as I reshape and refocus my business. His newest book (out of the 18! bestsellers he’s written) has helped me focus on how I can invest into the amazing community around me in a way that is generous and supportive to my family & time. I don’t understand how this perspective isn’t the norm in the business world.

    If you’re an entrepreneur, or an aspiring one, this is a must read! And bonus, the chapters are spliced up into tiny chunks. Parents with little time: you can actually read & digest the information with ease!

  5. The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson: I loved this book during postpartum for the spaciousness it provided and the affirmation that I wasn’t alone in such an intense experience. It also helped give me language to discuss things with my partner (like returning to sex post baby).

    I highly recommend this for new parents and people who’ve recently given birth.

  6. The First Forty Days by Heng Ou: Although this one is technically a cookbook, it is full of information. I read this before I gave birth in the first quarter of 2018 and it helped me plan for postpartum. Personally I preferred the written content over the recipes, but that’s because I really never cook with recipes.

    This is a great book for expecting parents (really the whole family!) that needs to prepare for postpartum. If you need help setting postpartum boundaries too - this is a great source for that!

  7. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman: Daren and I started reading this book together about halfway through the year. We didn’t finish it yet though because we got busy putting things into practice and then - you know, early parenthood and all. It’s on deck in 2019 to be completed and integrated more fully. And even just getting halfway through was massively impactful!

    I highly recommend this one for married couples and those in long term committed relationships.

  8. Good to Great by James Collins: This is a book I also started and decided to set down before finishing. I got about 3/4 of the way through and then jumped to a new book. Typically I do that if, as I get into the book, I realize there’s nothing I can immediately apply to my life. But, I did take away some great tips in the first half and as I get back to work in 2019, I plan to finish reading it.

    I recommend this book for business owners looking for perspective and actionable ways to refine & improve the culture of their organization.

  9. The Self Driven Child by Ned Johnson & William Stixrud, PhD: This book also falls into the same category as Good to Great and The Seven Principles. I started it, really loved it, didn’t finish it. I love this book because it’s backed by decades of research and work (a major filter for me when looking for parenting books), and it fundamentally focuses on how we can parent in a way that builds self directed motivation in our children. Fantastic! The only reason I put it down is because I think it’ll be more applicable in a few years as Daelu grows older.

    I highly recommend this book for parents with school age children.


Alright folks, there’s the list of books I read in 2018. I hope it inspires you to pick one up. If you get more inspired to read a book with a group of people, join me in 2019 for the monthly virtual VNM Book Club. We’re kicking off the year with Essentialism by Greg McKeown. (I wasn’t kidding when I said I read it at least once a year!)

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What was your favorite read of 2018 and why? Share it below!

Poem Freewrite | 23 November 2018

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Sometimes I feel
like I want to crawl
inside of you,
as if you were the one
to carry me,
grow my form,
shape my body.
I suppose,
in many ways,
you did.
You have turned my body
inside out,
revealed layers of myself
tucked deep in my bones.
I made your body
from my flesh and milk,
You made me
with your trust and love.
And sometimes I crave
the days when I
was wrapped in your skin.

Digital & In Person Meal Trains

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The idea behind a meal train is to allow your community to schedule a time to bring you food during times of healing, grief, or celebration. Food is a symbol of love, of met needs, of connection. It’s a resource to care for ourselves, our families, and our friends. It’s a reminder to slow down and to tend to our bodies. Naturally, it’s a great way to welcome support during postpartum.

I highly recommend setting up a meal train for yourself as you/your family recovers from birth.

Boundaries & Meal Trains

Receiving a meal from a family member or a friend does not give them unlimited access to you and your baby. It doesn’t even need to guarantee them any access to you and your baby.

Postpartum is an incredibly delicate time in the life of a person who gives birth. Taking care of the mother/person who gave birth should be the #1 priority during this time.

That means:

  • The community’s focus should not be on the baby, it should be on supporting the partner or the person who gave birth so the new parent(s) can focus on caring for the baby.

When sending out your meal train/announcement email, use that space as a place to lay out all of your boundaries. Then, place a cooler on your front steps/outside of your door & a sign on your front door. Let your community know that if the sign is on the door, they should just leave the food in the cooler because the family is resting.

Another option is to put a sign on your bedroom door. That way if people want to come in an help clean, they can do so and you can still maintain your privacy.

Setting Up Your Meal Trains:

There are lots of websites that offer easy meal train set up. We used mealtrain.com, but if you give a quick search online, you’ll find lots of options. Using an online scheduling service is a great way to make meal delivery & dietary instructions accessible and easy to understand.

Another option is to appoint a point of contact. After being hospitalized, our friend Amber stepped in as a point of contact for us. All of the folks who wanted to help us, bring us food, offer cleaning support, or any other gift, contacted Amber to set up delivery. Plus she was able to keep everyone updated throughout my time in hospital so Daren & I could focus fully on healing & parenting.

Amber put out a request call to the group anytime we needed something and was able to pull in resources from those who had space to give. She brought us meals at the hospital and filled our fridge & freezer with food from our friends for when we returned home.  At a time when we didn’t have much energy to write emails or texts, when we couldn’t keep track of who knew what, Amber’s support made a massive difference.

Before going into labor, it’s a great idea to consider who your point of contact would be if anything were to happen.  

Here are some things to consider before asking your ideal point of contact:

  • Do you feel safe with this person?

  • Is this person reliable/punctual?

  • Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable with this person?

  • Can this person listen deeply without offering unsolicited advice?

  • Would this person respond well to your boundaries/needs in the moment?

  • Do you feel comfortable being naked in front of this person? (you never know what situation you might find yourself in or who might see what if it’s an emergency.)

  • Would you feel comfortable with this person in your home when you’re not there?

Have a chat with your ideal point of contact before going into labor and ask if they would be available to hold this space for you if anything were to happen.

Digital Meal Train:

Along with our meal train for our local community, we also decided to create an online meal train. Daren and I have lived many places throughout our relationship which has left us with dear friends all around the country and world. So many people wanted to be a part of our support team after Daelu was born and really, we needed all the help we could get after I got sick!

Our digital meal train was focused on helping us keep our pantry stocked. For this, we simply created an Amazon Wish List with all of our ideal pantry items and I can’t begin to express how important and helpful this was! We still had food from our digital meal train 3 months later!

Sending Out Your Meal Trains:

Before going into labor I made sure everything was prepped and ready for my meal train. I wrote out the emails for both our local community and our community at large, added all the links & documents, compiled all the email addresses, and saved it as a draft. When Daelu was born, Daren added the relevant information that we couldn’t prep ahead (like birthdate, weight, length, etc.) and sent it off to our community.

We waited to send the meal train info until it was time to make the birth announcement to ensure that meals would be delivered during postpartum.  If we had sent it out ahead of time with our ‘guess date’ (how I refered to my ‘due date’ because all due dates are really just guesses), there’s a chance some meals would’ve arrived while I was still pregnant. Daelu came early (49w5d) so we would’ve been okay, but for mamas that may go 2-3 weeks or more past their guess dates, I imagine receiving meals early would be a bummer. Yes, it’s helpful during late pregnancy, but I found meal support to be vital during postpartum.

Remember, you’re allowed to set your boundaries and make requests for support in your most ideal way.

You’re not being too much or unreasonable, you’re being clear. There’s a difference. People who aren’t accustomed to boundaries may flip out a bit, but know that has nothing to do with you. And in fact, by standing your ground, you are helping them learn what’s available to them too.

If someone isn’t able to meet your boundaries or offer support in the way you’d like, they don’t have to. Being clear up front will go along way when you’re in a vulnerable space.

Meal & Pantry Prepping for Postpartum

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Everyone has a unique diet, unique dietary needs, and different budgets. In this post I’m sharing a peek into my postpartum kitchen in hopes that it can offer you a guide. I remember feeling so stressed in my last weeks of pregnancy thinking I didn’t have enough food pre-made for postpartum. We ran out of freezer space from all the jars of bone broth we stocked and didn’t have room for pre-made meals. All in all, that actually worked out great. We did great having all that broth on hand paired with a few easy to make recipes, a well stocked pantry, and a weekly meal prep system. If any of this doesn’t work for your family, adapt, omit, and add to it as you need to.

Easy to Make meals:

Take some time to print or write down 2-3 of your favorite crock pot or one pot meals. I have a favorite recipe for crockpot stew (which I have plans to share with you in a very special way!) which I relied on during postpartum. That was the core of my diet.

Some Parameters to Consider When Picking a Postpartum Recipe:

  • easy to make in one pot or in a crockpot/instant pot

  • warming flavors (chiles, black peppercorns, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and cumin seeds, ginger*, allspice, cardamom, turmeric)

  • fat rich (coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, avocados, etc.)

  • easy to digest (slow cooked foods like broths, stews, soups)

  • iron rich (if you’ve just given birth, a boost to your iron supply is a massive help. consider adding nettle leaf to broths, dark leafy greens and/or organ meat to soups/stews.

*if you notice your postpartum bleeding increase, remove ginger from your diet until it slows. And talk to your healthcare professional immediately if you’re bleeding through 1 or more pads per hour.

Meal Prep:

Rather than making a bunch of meals ahead of time, try opting for pre cut, roasted, and steamed staple ingredients each week. Ideally someone else would do this prep (especially in the early weeks) so you can rest.

Weekly Prep:

  • Cut 2-4 bundles of dark leafy greens into thin ribbons

  • Chop a few sweet potatoes, or roast a few

  • Cut carrots into chunks & sticks - stored separately

  • Shred 1 head of cabbage

  • Chop mushrooms

  • Cut 1 head of celery into sticks

  • Roast 1-2 squash

  • Roast 2 heads of garlic

  • Dice 2 onions

  • Make crock Pot Broth (bone broth or veggie, depending on your diet)

  • (Diet Dependent) Roast 1 chicken

  • (Optional) Chop 1 head of broccoli*

  • (Optional) Chop or shred (for cauli rice) 1 head of cauliflower*


Additional Produce to Keep on Hand:

  • lemons

  • limes

  • apples

  • bananas

  • freshly dried herbs like rosemary & thyme

*since these items can cause gas, you may want to consider skipping them until your baby has grown a bit.

From this combination of prepped vegetables you can easily make things like pureed squash soup, morning bowls of sweet potatoes with leafy greens & eggs, steamed cauliflower, or sautéed carrots & broccoli. You’ll also have carrot wedges & celery for quick snacking.


Along with weekly prep, having a well stocked pantry full of your favorite items allows cooking to flow effortlessly.

what I kept in my postpartum pantry:

  • Black Vinegar

  • Black Sesame Seeds

  • Sesame Oil

  • Coconut Oil

  • Trace Minerals

  • Cassava Flour

  • Almond Flour

  • Nuts like Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, and Almonds

  • Chia Seeds

  • Turmeric Powder

  • Nut Butters

  • Collagen Peptides

  • Grass-Fed Gelatin

  • Organic Green Powder (for quick smoothies)

  • Probiotic Powder/Pills

  • Hemp Seeds

  • Some Quality Salt

  • Tahini

  • Some type of noodle - our go to grain free options are mung bean noodles & sweet potato noodles

  • Simple Mills mixes like grain free bread mix and grain free pizza crust mix.

Below are some additional medicinal & pleasurable items we kept on hand during my postpartum.

Pantry Bonuses:

  • Nettle Leaf

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

  • Maca Powder

  • Cacao Powder

  • Reishi Powder

  • Chaga Powder

  • Kombu

  • Wakame

  • Dulse

  • Nori

  • Jujubes

  • Brain Octane Oil

  • Refillable growler of Kombucha

  • Chocolate!

  • Siete Grain Free Tortillas

  • Siete Grain Free Chips

  • Capello’s Grain Free Fettuccine

  • Simple Mills Crackers

  • Simple Mills Grain Free Cookies

Rest well, families! May your bellies be warm as you heal and transition into parenthood.

My Postpartum Diet

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If you’re considering what to eat during postpartum, I hope this little window into my experience might help. During my postpartum period I opted for a very refined diet. As much as I wanted to help my baby transition into their body gracefully, I also wanted to remove as many obstacles as I could for myself. I knew I was going to breastfeed Daelu and I also knew how intense it could be to watch a breastfed child scream and cry when they’re hungry but not want to eat because of gas pains. I knew that would be really tough for me emotionally so it felt easier for me to limit what I consumed rather than trying to figure out what, if anything, was causing an issue.

There was another upside to this choice: physical energy conservation. I focused on eating easy to digest meals and, after being hospitalized, I basically ate the same 2 meals for the following 6 weeks. My body went through so much within the first week after giving birth and I really needed every single spec of energy I could find within myself. Eating easy to digest food meant that the energy in my system that would’ve gone towards digestion was now available for healing.

This is what I didn’t eat during postpartum:

  • Gluten

  • Dairy

  • Soy

  • Grains

  • Refined Sugars

  • Nightshades

  • Cauliflower & Broccoli

  • Uncooked greens

  • Super cold foods (like ice cream)


I’ve been gluten free for 7 years, already ate limited refined sugars, no soy, and had cut out nightshades a few months before birth. So, while this may seem extreme to some, it wasn’t that big of a leap for me. Plus, my husband was eating grain free already so our kitchen was well prepared.

This is what I did eat during postpartum:

  • Vegetables

  • Meats & Bone Broths

  • Nuts & Seeds

  • Eggs

  • Healthy Fats

  • Fermented Foods

  • Vinegars

  • Limited Fruits

My staple items:

  • black vinegar

  • black sesame seeds

  • sesame oil

After being put on high doses of antibiotics (from nearly dying due to a blood infection), I also cut out fruit for a few weeks - which was super difficult for me. But I was really dedicated because I didn’t want to deal with thrush (yeast overgrowth) after already having so much on my plate. Once I finished all rounds of antibiotics, and spent about 2 weeks rebuilding my gut flora with lots of pro & prebiotics, I reintroduced fruit. I waited a bit to feel confident that I wasn’t so vulnerable to thursh and then I also added some grain free, refined sugar free cookies because this shit was so emotional and cookies helped.


My two staple meals during this time were stew served over squash & sweet potatoes (pictured above), and shredded chicken mixed with sweet potatoes. Both were topped with black vinegar, black sesame paste/seeds, and sesame oil.

Grain Free Salted Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This is yet another post from 2014! During the holiday season in 2014 I made a different batch of cookies every single night. We were living in Port Townsend, Washington at the time getting ready for our January move to San Francisco. Every time I make these cookies I’m transported back to cozy nights in our friend’s living room eating perfectly portioned cookies. (Whenever I make cookies I always count how many people are in the room and make sure to bake enough so everyone gets X cookies - plus one (or a few) extras for myself.)

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

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SALTED DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

1/3 c dark cocoa powder
3/4 c almond meal flour
1 TBSP + 1 tsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg or flax egg [1 TBSP flax seed meal : 3TBSP water; mixed & set aside]
2 TBSP honey or maple
1/4 c regular or coconut brown sugar
1 TBSP melted coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 8oz bar dark chocolate, chopped or 1/4 c dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS FOR USING MILK PULP

Omit almond meal
Use 1/3 c fresh almond milk pulp
Add 2 TBSP coconut flour instead of 1TBSP+1tsp
Follow the rest of ingredients above

Preheat oven to 350degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat mat.

In a food processor combine egg, honey, brown sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla.

Blend for 10-15 seconds.

In a medium sized bowl combine flours, cocoa powder, and baking soda.

Add to food processor and blend for 20-30 seconds.

Scrape the sides & pulse a few more times.

Dump mixture into the bowl and fold in chocolate chunks.

Scoop ping pong sized balls of dough onto the cookie sheet.

With damp hands form into balls and flatten into 1/2 in thick circles.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 15 cookies

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Honey & Vanilla Sweet Potato Tarts with Pomegranates

And yet another recipe from 2014! Really proud of all the recipes I wrote, photographed, and shared that year!

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gluten free – grain free – dairy free – soy free – refined sugar free – gum free – vegan option

These babies were pure accidental perfection. Last week after cooking dinner for some friend’s at their house, we were all craving a little something sweet. After digging around in their pantry I surfaced with a few ingredients and a mess of loose end ideas. I ran through a million options in my head of things I could make. I decided that I definitely wanted to do mini tarts, but was stumped on filling.

I was in the mood for something creamy but didn’t have any coconut cream or avocado. After fishing through the bag of food I brought, 1 lone white sweet potato surfaced and voila! it all clicked.

These babies have 6 major ingredients, minus the toppings which can change if you don’t like pomegranates. They took me about 20 minutes to pull together and my husband swears they’re the best thing I’ve ever made.

HONEY & VANILLA SWEET POTATO TARTS


Crust

1 1/4 c almond meal

1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

1 egg [flax egg for vegan option: 1 tbsp flax seed meal to 3 tbsp water, mix & let sit for 10 minutes before adding]

1-2 tbsp water


Filling

2-3 medium sized white sweet potatoes

1/3 c honey [1/4 c maple for vegan option]

1 vanilla bean, scraped or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp salt


Topping

1 pomegranate [or another fruit if you prefer]

(optional) 1/4 cup chopped nuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees & start boiling water in a medium sized pot for the sweet potatoes.

In a medium sized bowl combine almond meal, shredded coconut, and egg. Mix well. If the dough is too flaky to stick together, add a little bit of water, 1/2 tbsp at a time, not more than 2 tbsp.

The dough should form well but not be sticky or gooey.

Oil a muffin pan with either coconut or olive oil. Olive oil will give the crust a slight buttery flavor, which I love.

Split the dough ball into 12 even sized balls and place one in each muffin cup.

Press dough into bottom & sides of muffin cups, roughly 1/4 in thick.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Start checking at 10 and bake until the edges are golden.


While the crust is in the oven, boil & mash the white sweet potatoes.

I chopped my potatoes small so they would cook faster.

Once the potatoes are soft, strain & mash with a hand masher.

Add honey, vanilla, & salt.


When the tart shells come out of the oven, let them cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

While they cool, open your pomegranate & remove the seeds.

*TIP: fill a large bowl with water and open while the pomegranate is submerged. All seeds will sink to the bottom and the inside skin will float to the top, plus the juice won’t squirt all over.


Once tart shells have cooled, spoon sweet potato mixture into each cup and top with chopped nuts & pomegranate seeds. Serve warm or at room temp, as is or topped with coconut whipped cream.