Smart Mamas

Tag: Pregnancy

Love Day

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a “fake” holiday contrived by greeting card and flower companies.  It can simply be a day about love.

A day to celebrate the people in your life that love you unconditionally.

We spend time together as a family at home. I like to cook something special, something I have never prepared before. A natural way for me to show people love is to cook for them.

If today feels forced, think about making it your own day. A day without Hallmark and taking ownership. A day without restaurants dictating what your meal must be and charging a fortune for it. It is yours to show love however suits you.

Abudant love to you and your family,


Kids and Veggies. How to Foster a Love Affair (4)

Christian and his buddy selecting the perfect tomato

Pick Your Own Farms

There are many ways to get your kids interested in vegetables and fruit, this way is fail proof, the crown jewel. Plan a fun family day by visiting a local pick your own farm. There are many all over the country. Every farm is unique. Some are destination spots with picnic tables, restrooms, and tours. Others are small, intimate family farms with nothing more than a bucket to fill and rows and rows of fresh veggies.

Once your child learns how to look for ripe pickings, the hunt is like Easter on steroids.

This farm we visited with friends.  They grew many varieties of tomatoes. They also had peppers, watermelon, and squash. My friend’s daughter hated tomatoes. It wasn’t long before she was munching on tiny, yellow sweet tomatoes (sweet golds).

My boys couldn’t wait to get home and eat their little treasures. Christian ate a large tomato just like an apple and little Roman ate grape tomatoes by the fistful. The nice thing about picking your own fruit and veggies is they tend to be sweeter, juicer, more flavorful than those found in the grocery store. Also, kids get a chance to learn how veggies are grown and about different varieties.

Once you visit a farm, many times they will put you on their mailing list, so you will get email updates when they have a new crop ready to harvest. It’s a fun and unique way to spend a family day. One your kids will fondly remember.

The best online resource for locating a pick your own farm in your area is

Have you visited one before? I would love to hear your experience.

Kids and Veggies. How to Foster a Love Affair (3)

Grow something small.

When I was very young we lived on a farm in Fox Lake, Illinois.  My mother grew an impressive organic garden and my two brothers and I had the opportunity to help tend our food.  I have fond memories of keeping the animals out of the garden and running outside to pick veggies for our meals.  I remember taking the colander with me and filling it to the brim then immediately rinsing the greens in the sink.  On the weekends we would pick all we could and sell our produce at a nearby farmer’s market.  I thought all families ate the same way.  Perhaps many did in the 70s.

My parents separated when I was a toddler, but they shared similar food values.  My father has never eaten at a fast food restaurant.  He was raised in Greece and that was not part of his culture.  His comfort foods consist of whole foods, rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Meat was a side in some meals, hardly a main attraction.  Vegetables abundant and fruit sweeter than anything I have ever tasted in the States.  My father lives in Arizona and he grows an impressive garden, year-round.  When we visit, my boys run to the citrus trees in the morning to pick fresh oranges and then devour them at the kitchen table.  They associate his home with family and good food, often asking if we will ever have trees they can eat from.

Here are some photographs my father took of his garden:







Assorted onions



Spinach rinsed and ready for a salad

We do not all have the luxury of a large outdoor space to grow such an abundant garden.  Many of us do not have the spare time.  But, we can all grow a few herbs indoors.  Large grocery chains like Sprouts and Whole Foods sell living basil in water.  It couldn’t be easier to keep alive.  The only task is to set it near a window and keep the roots covered with water.  I kept one alive for 6 months and my boys would pluck the leaves off and toss them into the pots as I cooked.  It cost less than $3 and I never used or bought dried basil.  In the spring my boys each have their own cherry tomato plant and they are completely responsible for it.  I love to watch them decide when the tomato is ripe enough to pluck.  Their tiny fingers breaking it free from the stem, their eyes close as they place the precious piece of fruit in their mouth.  Each time I hope it leaves enough of an impression to form a memory.  A positive memory of vegetables.  Something more than a food that has to be finished in order to enjoy dessert or leave the table.

There are a ton of resources online for growing fruits and veggies in containers.  This spring consider growing something small and involve your children.  You may be surprised how many things you can grow right inside your house.  Check out this site, they sell indoor starter kits for growing your own colony of mushrooms.  There are many companies that sell similar products.  This site teaches you how to grow them on your own.

My father started by growing herbs in containers.  There are a ton of fruits and vegetables that can be grown this way.

The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic

Most people have heard of the dirty dozen.  The 12 fruits and veggies that have  high levels of pesticides.  Well, a new list was made in 2010.  Here are the new dirty:

The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic.

Be sure to check out the clean 15, too. These foods you do not have to buy organic.

The Clean 15

I like to make a list of the dirty dozen and keep them on my fridge as a reminder.  Great way to keep your family safe and reduce the amount of pesticides in your diet.

Good Morning Chunky Monkey Milkshakes

My boys love this quick morning breakfast and it is loaded with potassium, iron, and protein.  When I introduce new foods to my children I start with something fail-proof.  The first time they tried this shake it had these ingredients:

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

2 bananas (I like to use my freezer bananas)

2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses or 1 tablespoon of maple syrup

3 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend till smooth.

Serves 1

In time I added other ingredients:

1/4 cup of organic, fresh roasted peanut butter or 1/4 cup of tofu

1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds

Flax seed is a wonder grain. Stocked full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, high in most B vitamins, and magnesium.  It’s easy to sneak into meals, just don’t overdo it.  I don’t use more than a tablespoon per kid a day.

They love this breakfast and think it’s a big treat.  Milkshakes for breakfast, what beats that?  I know it’s healthier than cereal or any other processed breakfast.  A good start of the day for all of us.

Kids and Veggies. How to Foster a Love Affair (2)

This post is the second in a series.  I am sharing different ways we have kept our kids excited and interested in fruits and vegetables.

What is it?

The boys LOVE this.  We do, too.  Whenever my boys accompany me to the grocery store they pick out a new fruit or veggie they would like to taste.

This is a very serious process.

They scour each bin in search for the strangest, most unique produce.  Once they locate it they treat it as if it were a precious gem carefully carrying it back to the cart.  “What about this one, mommy?”  Both proud and curious.

As soon as we get home they are relentless in asking, “When do we get to eat it?”  It’s usually soon.

Yesterday this is what they chose…

The bin labeled it dragon fruit.  Good choice.

I told them we could eat it after dinner.  Dinner came and went and they asked if they could have a piece of Halloween candy.  I told them they could after we tried our dragon fruit.  They accepted this as a good deal on their end.

Typically we wikipedia the new item and learn a bit about it before we eat it.

This is what we learned:

It is actually called a pitaya and it is a fruit of several cacti species.  It is commonly known as a dragon fruit in Chinese.  There are 3 varieties, 2 red and 1 yellow.  They are native to Mexico, South America and Central America.  They are also cultivated in many Asian countries, Hawaii, Australia and Israel.  It is compared to a kiwi because the inside has many small edible black seeds.

Usually after viewing several pictures and learning about it the boys can’t wait to dig into it.  The sit in anticipation as the knife meets the flesh.

It is a big moment.  We dip four spoons into the soft innards and we all taste it at the same time.

It was a hit.  Not overly sweet. Kind of a cross between a kiwi and a pear.

They never did ask for a piece of Halloween candy.  Instead they went to bed with bellies full of dragon fruit.

Win for mom.

Note ~ you can buy dragon fruit at a local Asian market for half the price of a commercial grocery store.

Update: I almost forget to add the nutritional info. Here it is from this source:

Dragon fruits are high in antioxidants, which help to fight carcinogenic free-radicals from forming in the body. In addition, they are a good source of Vitamin C, and are rich in minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus. They are also low in calories and high in fiber, while the seeds are have high polyunsaturated fatty acids. Aside from its nutritional content, the fruit is also said to help excrete heavy metal toxins from the body and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Dragon fruits are also known to be a natural laxative.

Click here to learn more about dragon fruit.

Resolutions: The Good, The Bad and The Life Changing

I love this time of year.  The collective conscious desire to strive and renew is so uplifting.  How fortunate we are to have a cyclical calendar that allows us this opportunity to begin anew.  Sure, we have the opportunity to start again on any day, but today it is universal, that is powerful.

The Good

Often times when we think about our resolutions, we focus on what we want to change about ourselves.  Our “bad” habits or the parts of us we want to “fix” stand out.  I challenge you to think about all the good things that happened this year, your growth and accomplishments.  Write them down so you have a tangible list.  This will be far more motivating that focusing on the negative.  If you accomplished all those things, what else can you do?  Empower yourself rather than tear yourself down.

The Bad

Choose resolutions that are motivating, fun, something on your bucket list.  Any resolution can be made this way.  Here are some examples of bad resolutions and how you can turn them into something more motivating:

I want to lose weight.  There is a reason why this one is automatically recycled every year.  There is nothing inspiring about it and it offers no real solution.  What else do you want to change besides your weight?  Do you want to eat healthier, be stronger, or feel better about your physical body?  Where does the issue lie?  If you want to eat healthier, consider something like; I want to nourish my body, I want to learn how to cook with more vegetables and grains, I want to take a few cooking classes that emphasize fresh ingredients, I want to learn where my food comes from and how to buy it locally.  These goals involve discovering and learning something new, a way to replace old habits that may have led to being overweight, initially.  They empower you and provide direction.  The resolution of wanting to lose weight is too ambiguous.  Try to avoid fad diets and products, they offer no long term solution.

I want to be fit or exercise more. Another popular recycled resolution, ditch it.  This is a fantastic way to cross something off your bucket list or an opportunity to discover something you are passionate about.  Use it.  We all have to live our lives in motion if we want to be healthy, this is a reality.  It does not mean that we have to go to the gym 3-5 times a week and do the same weightlifting routine and cardio via stationary equipment.


Exactly why it doesn’t stick, too.  Seize this chance to do something new or something you have always wanted to accomplish.  Take up belly dancing, ice skating, rowing, fencing or archery.  Be creative.  You can take lessons for anything.  Do something new and give yourself the opportunity to meet new people and become part of a new community.

Another option is to train for a fitness goal.  Join a running club and train for a marathon.  You can do the same for mountain biking, trail running, swimming, or a triathlon.  Get out there and cross a finish line.  Compete with yourself.  Be an athlete and train.  This will motivate you to be your best fit self.

Plan a fitness vacation with a group and motivate each other.  Book a reservation for a yoga retreat with your girlfriends and find a local studio where you can meet for classes.  Check out Backroads and book a biking vacation in a city you have always wanted to visit, recruit your friends.  Hike the Grand Canyon, the Inca Trails, or through the Appalachian.  Put it on the calendar and start training.

You will never be younger than you are today.  Do it this year.

I want to quit smoking, or another vice. Addiction is best conquered when replaced with another healthier habit.  If your vice is a stress reliever, replace it with a new habit that releases endorphins.  If you want to kick caffeine, think of a healthy way to energize yourself.  Instead of focusing on the habit you want to stop, think about the new healthy habit you want to incorporate into your routine.

I want to spend less time on the computer, Facebook, or watching TV. Think about what void these habits fill.  If you are bored, discover a new passion.  Enroll in a painting, photography, or writing class.  Enrich your life by learning something new.  Rotate dinner parties with friends, set a weekly coffee date, or meet friends at a live music venue.  Think about how you can fill your life up with real connections and find the courage to discover a new passion.

I’m sure you get the idea.  You can turn any “bad” resolution into one that nourishes you.  The bolder you are, the sweeter the reward.

The Life Changing

I made a resolution this same day in 2008 that changed the course of my life.  I have always chased my dreams, no matter how foolish or daunting.  I opened a coffee shop with just over $200 in my bank account.  Learned to scuba dive and went to Hawaii to reef dive on my own.  Backpacked Europe on a whim with no preparation and drove across America with a good friend as soon as we graduated high school.  I faced my biggest fears by swimming far out into the ocean on the blackest of nights, went skydiving, and hiked deep into caves (I am extremely claustrophobic).  I refused to let negative thoughts creep in and bring me down. Nothing is impossible.  Live without regrets.  Seize any and all opportunities.  Dream.  Do.  Grow.

My philosophy, my motto, my mantra.

I lost it.  Somewhere along my path it left me.  This day in 2008 my boys were ages 1 and 3.  I had stayed home and focused on their well-being since the beginning of my first pregnancy.  I have no regrets and would not change a single thing.  What happened along the way happens to many moms.

I lost myself.  I was free floating without a sense of purpose.  Stagnant.   I carried the false belief that being a good mother meant tucking away my desires for a later time.

That had to change.  My resolution was simple.  Anytime I have a thought that starts with

I wish I could…

I want to….

I will promptly change it to

I will…

That was it.  A change in semantics changed my attitude.    

In 2009 I started graduate school to become a counselor.  I ran a half marathon.  I ran a marathon.  I raised money for the fight against Leukemia.  I went to Puerto Vallarta with my husband, our first vacation without our children.  We sold our house on the very last day of the year in a terrible real estate market.  I discovered new passions and started to live a purpose driven life, all the while being a good mother to my boys.

I found myself.

1.1.11 is the perfect opportunity for a new start.  Seize it!

I would love to hear your good resolutions.

Happy New Year!

My First Month Out of the Blogger Closet

My first blog entry was in April of 2008.  I was a SAHM with a baby and a 3 year-old.   Hot topics were BPA in sippy cups, vaccines, and autism.  I worried.  A lot.  There were days I filled the recycle bin with plastics.  Days I dreaded taking my baby to get his shots, especially after he broke out with measles from his MMR vaccine.  Research was therapy.  WebMD was my best friend.  I longed to connect with other moms who were as neurotic as me.  Thus, my blog was born.  I wanted to create a space where I could write about some of these issues.  It was cathartic.  I loved the camaraderie and learned so much.

Soon my baby became a toddler and I enrolled in graduate school.  I was consumed with papers and temper tantrums; my blog was left to gather tumbleweeds.

One recent evening while avoiding a homework assignment, I thought of it.  My blog.  Several attempts later, I figure out my login.  Success.  There it was and shock… people had been there.  Actual hits the day prior.  How could it be?  As I read through the old posts, I remembered how much I enjoyed it.  Life got so busy.  I could find time.

Six weeks ago, I wrote four posts.  It felt good.  Nothing spectacular, but it was a start.  My blog was always my own private pastime.  No one knew about it, not ever.  On October 23rd I wrote a post about Halloween candy.  Publish.  I glanced over the post on my blog and suddenly felt the urge to post it on my Facebook page.  Perhaps it was the candy eyeballs staring me down, daring me.  Perhaps I wanted to be held accountable, forced to continue my blog journey.  Click.  That was easy.  Waiting.  An hour passed.  Fifty views.  Then 100.  The response was positive and my batteries were charged.

It’s been a month since then.  This is the evolution:

  • I wanted to find other bloggers, so I searched blog communities.
  • I came across BlogHer and joined.  One evening later, I submitted a blog post.  The next day I opened an email that read, “I’d love to syndicate this in November as part of Own Your Beauty’s imperfection month.”  Wow! I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded great! I was thrilled and stunned.  Disclaimer: This happened by sheer coincidence.  My blog topic coincided with the theme of the month.  Sometimes the stars align.
  • Now what do I do?  I spent a few days thinking about that.  What would I write about?  What were my goals?
  • My husband said I must join Twitter.  So, I joined.  Tons of interesting bloggers.  Awesome.  Now, I just have to get down twitter etiquette and figure things out like, groups.  I downloaded TweetDeck.  Love the streaming.  Shrinking, linking, retweeting gives me a headache.  The community is worth it.
  • While on twitter I found a mom community, Twittermoms, and joined.  Actually, it found me.  But, I like it so far.
  • I bought a web domain.  It’s parked.
  • I created a Facebook page for my blog, so friends that are interested can get updates.  It felt odd to post on my personal site.  That’s just me.

Thirty days later, I’m still pretty clueless.  I am vaguely familiar with things like NaBloPoMo and another really long acronym that is similar, but different.   I am trying to learn the ins-and-outs of social media.  Hours of scouring the internet about web hosting, blog designers, plug-ins, and widgets have only confused me further.

Most of the blogging world is unknown to me, but I am certain of my goals.  My desire is the same now as it was when I started a few years ago.  I want to engage with a community of writers and women whom I respect and can learn from.  I want to write.  I want to have discussions on topics like how to live a simple and meaningful life, how to buy and cook foods that are nourishing, how to connect with our community, how to tread lightly and teach children about the environment, and most of all my passion in life… how to foster growth and well-being in children, women, and families.  Right now my blog is in the cocoon stage.  I am hopeful it will grow into a space where people who want to live consciously can learn from one another through different experiences and expertise.  Until then, I’ll keep chugging… one blog post at a time.

What were your achievements or roadblocks when you first started blogging?  Thank you for reading. 🙂

*Artwork found here.

Miso Soup For the Soul

I do my best to include at least one nourishing dish with each meal.  Last night we had a hodge podge dinner.  I had finally found white miso in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods (by the tofu) and it had been sitting on the shelf in the refrigerator for a good two weeks.  Time to make soup.  I used this recipe:

Mellow White Miso Soup

5 cups of water

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1 Tbs. tamari sauce

1/4 cup white miso paste (I used Miso Master Organic)

*optional adds ~ 1/4 cup shredded carrot, 3 oz sliced mushrooms, wakame (seaweed -it will need to be boiled ~20 mins)

Boil water.  Add mushrooms, scallions, carrot, and tamari.  Reduce to medium heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 mins, or until veggies soften.  Reduce heat to low & pour some of the hot soup mixture into a bowl (~1/4-1/2 cup).  Add miso paste, blend well.  Add the miso mixture back to the pot of soup and simmer for 2 minutes.  Be careful not to boil.

I cut cubes of extra firm tofu and dropped them in the bottom of the individual serving bowls and poured the soup on top.  I omitted the carrots and mushrooms because we were out.  Viola!  Miso soup just like in a Japanese restaurant.

I plan to make a pot a few times a week, because it was so easy and a nice treat on a cold day.  Miso soup is the Asian version of chicken soup.  Actually, the nutritional benefits are not a fair comparison.  Here is what I discovered from my Google research:  It strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer.  It is high in antioxidants, which prevents the signs of aging.  It contains protein, vitamin B12, B2, E, K, tryptophan, choline, dietary fiber, linoleic acid, and lecithin.  It even helps reduce the symptoms of menopause.

The best part for me was that it just felt good to nourish my family.  I had high hopes for yesterday.  It was the first evening off I had in awhile.  I envisioned an evening full of books, cuddles, and laughter.  Instead my boys were loud and wild and a bit unruly.  I felt defeated before I headed to the kitchen.  Nothing turned out as I planned.  Once the kids were in bed, I thought about that miso soup.  It sounds silly, but, I felt better about the day knowing I made something nourishing.  I did one thing right.  Some days we are wonder mom.  Utterly and completely spectacular.  Other days, well, not so much.  It’s important that we do not compare our not so much days to our wonder woman days.  Find the one moment you did something right and then let it go and enjoy the rest of your quiet evening.

This recipe came from the cookbook, The Sacred Kitchen, by Robin Robertson and Jon Robertson.  I cannot recommend this cookbook enough.  I love it.   It was printed in 1999.  You can find it here.

Study Finds Link Between Pregnant Moms Smoking & Criminal Behavior of Offspring

A new study by professors at Harvard School of Public Health and Brown University links mothers who heavily smoke during pregnancy with criminal behavior of offspring later in life.  This is a fascinating discovery and a powerful motivator for moms to stop smoking when pregnant.

Read about the study here.

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