Learning From A Pregnant Woman

I’ve been a bit MIA for a while…perhaps you noticed. The last time you heard from me, I was hating on the microwave.

Well, I haven’t forgotten about you. And I have missed you. But I’ve been quite busy…busy growing a baby!

As you can imagine, I have been researching up a storm. No surprise, I’m all about being pregnant and raising a child in the most organic, healthy way possible. As a result, I have come across some amazing info over the past several months – info I will be sharing with you now and in future posts!

But don’t stop reading if you’re not a pregnant woman, or if you’re not a dad-to-be, or if you’re not someone who knows someone who is pregnant.

This is all good info for everyone.

And I’m not just talking about the typical things, which I will mention just in case we need a refresher:
1. Get up and move. Don’t sit for too long in one place.
2. Drink lots of water.
3. Get plenty of rest.
4. Reduce stress.
5. Get plenty of fiber.
6. Eat your veggies.
7. Eat whole grains, not white stuff.
8. Exercise.
9. Embrace changes in your body.
10. Laugh daily.

Okay, that’s all old news – good stuff – but let’s get to some NEW information.

Here’s what I’m needing now…

1. THE BODY PILLOW
If you’re pregnant or just someone who needs more body support while sleeping (backaches? insomnia? other concerns?), this pillow has been a lifesaver…I mean a life raft…no, wait…both? Yes. It’s a lifesaver…but we call it the life raft. This thing is huge. But I will say, I couldn’t sleep without it right now. Best if you have a king bed, but doable in a queen. (That’s not me, btw.)

Body Pillow

2. COCONUT OIL
Organic, unrefined, virgin. This has been my go-to moisturizer. Pregnant skin gets very dry and itchy and I’ve been slathering coconut oil on my face, arms, and hands and it really makes a huge difference. So, if you’re the dry skin type, you don’t need any fancy, stinky, chemical-laden creams. You just need some high-quality coconut oil.

Coconut Oil

3. TREATS
Every pregnancy is different and mine has been, how shall we say…not so much in the food department? I have had no strange cravings. In fact, I have had serious food aversion for months now. No joke. There are just a few things that actually taste good to me, and one of them is chocolate.

While I try not to eat too much, as it does have caffeine and sugar, sometimes we all just need something a little sweet. These days, I’m really enjoying Theo, which is organic, fair trade, and soy-free and available at local specialty markets and grocers like Whole Foods.

Theo Chocolate

Another way I enjoy chocolate is with Chocolate Nuttzo, which is an organic nut and seed butter with chocolate…and it’s delicious (they also have other nut and seed butters without chocolate).

With only 2g of sugar per serving, it’s a good way to have dessert. And when I’m being especially naughty (yes, you can all breathe a big sigh of relief – Health Coach Jillian ain’t perfect!), I put it on Strauss Organic Vanilla Ice Cream and it’s like a sundae.😉

If I’m going to indulge, I always try to make it healthier – with organic and wholesome ingredients…and by eating in moderation!

Nuttzo and Strauss

4. CALCIUM
Now that I’m responsible for someone else’s bones, I’ve had to try a little harder to beef up my calcium intake. Here are my favorite (and unexpected!) sources:

1) Chia Seeds – 1 tbsp will give you 8% of your daily calcium intake. 2 tbsps now find their way into my day.

2) Greens – Greens are the absolute best thing to eat, for calcium and other vitamins and minerals. We could all eat more of them.

A half bag of Trader Joe’s Power to the Greens or Spinach gives me another 8% of my daily intake. I make sure to get at least one serving of one of these each day.

Green juice gives me yet another 8% per serving. I drink two servings of Columbia Gorge Organic Just Greens every day.

Now, fresh juice is better, and whole veggies are best, but I like that this brand has several greens only (no fruit), almost no sugar, and is pasteurized, which is safest for pregnant women and anyone else with a compromised immune system. I don’t have time to juice every day…sometimes you just have to be practical. If you can juice organic greens regularly, or get organic green juice from a local, reliable source, do it.

Also, if you’re pregnant, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT substitute a meal with green juice. Now is not the time to be cleansing. Add green juice into your day along with everything else you are eating. And DO NOT drink unpasteurized juice unless it was made fresh at home or somewhere reliable (and drink immediately) – it could have harmful bacteria and that’s too risky.

Greens3) Garbanzo Beans – Add ’em t0 a salad, pasta or quinoa, or mush ’em up in guacamole, or make some hummus. Whatever. We all know what to do with these guys. But did we all know that a serving (1/2 cup) gives us 6% of our daily calcium needs (plus a good dose of fiber and protein)? Choose Eden Organics for BPA-free cans.

Garbanzos
4) Sparkling Water – Pellegrino and Perrier both have 4% of daily calcium per serving. Big bottles have about 3 servings…12% of your calcium! Extra bonus is it’s in glass, not plastic. Ditch the soda and drink one of these, with or without some fresh fruit added. I choose Perrier first, as it is sodium-free.

5) Sesame Seeds – These little powerhouses top people’s list of favorite seed. And they are tops in the calcium department. 1 tbsp delivers 8% of your daily calcium needs.

**Now, one thing of concern just recently came to light. Salmonella can be found in spices and seasonings. This includes sesame seeds. Best thing to do is cook them instead of adding them straight into your food. I now sauté my sesame seeds with a little coconut oil before adding them in – and I’d never know the difference. Read more about this HERE (and if you want to get interesting articles like this on a regular basis, follow me on Twitter🙂 ).

5. FRUIT AND VEGGIE WASH
With our immunities down, us pregnant gals and other immunocompromised folks are more susceptible to infection. And an infection is the last thing I want. So I make sure to wash all of my produce really well. But the rest of you should do this, too. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other markets sell produce wash, which gets the dirt, waxes, and pesticide residue off your food.

Fruit and Veg Wash
Think I’m being extreme? Then think for just a moment about where your food has been. Have you ever driven down the highway and either seen it growing two feet away (love those freeway-adjacent farms), or on the back of a truck, open, traveling next to you, getting a fine coat of dirt and exhaust?

And have you ever seen the Porta Potties on those farms? Let’s face it, Porta Potties don’t really allow for a good hand-washing in between food handling.

Well, if you haven’t driven the I-5 up and down California for this agricultural view as many times as I have, then I ask you this – ever seen produce fall to the floor at the grocery store? Or ever seen someone feel a piece of fruit and put it back? That produce goes home with someone…

So, do yourself a favor and wash your food well. Bottom line is, you don’t know where it’s been and what it’s wearing.

And my final lesson learned in this remarkable journey of pregnancy is something I’ve said before but I feel needs repeating:

Listen to your body.

Tired? Rest. Hungry? Eat. Just listen to your body. Really listen. It will tell you what it really needs. Don’t eat just to eat or fuel yourself with caffeine and sugar because you’re tired. Get back to basics and treat your body right…whether you’ve got someone growing in there or not.

6 Comments

Filed under Chocolate, Coconut, Health, Organic, Spices, Sugar, Superfoods, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables, Water

Microwave Goodbye

If you’re trying to eat healthy, wave goodbye to that invention that is destroying your food.

micro w x

Your microwave doesn’t just take up space in your kitchen, it denatures your food, destroying the nutrients and causing mutations in the molecules and proteins, turning some into carcinogens and rendering others useless.

So think about all that money you spent on organic food (because you read my blog and want to get on the organic bandwagon😉 )…

…and think about how nutrient-poor our soil is to begin with…

…and then think about how long that food was sitting in the grocery store and now in your fridge before you decided to eat it…

…and now think about how you’ll destroy what little is left when you put it in the microwave.

That’s just a waste of money, a waste of calories, and a waste of trying to eat more veggies (which I know you are doing!).

And those containers that are in there with your food?

Microwaving both paper, plastic, and melamine causes them to release toxins that are extremely harmful to your health: BPA, dioxins, PET, and benzene, to name a few.

Think those microwaveable popcorn bags are safe? Think again.

Next time you reach for the Jiffy Pop, keep in mind the corn is genetically modified, the “butter” flavor in no way resembles real butter, and the bag lining has harmful chemicals that leach into your food (if you can call it that). Now add the microwave damage on top of that. That disaster in a bag just made the list of of 10 Most Unhealthy Cancer Causing Foods.

And hey, New Mamas: don’t even think about warming baby bottles in there. Consider all the reasons above and also consider that microwaving causes hot pockets in food and liquid which can end up burning your baby.

In retrospect, it shocks me that it didn’t occur to me sooner…like when I was younger and everyone said, “Don’t stand in front of the microwave while you ‘nuke’ your food.”

Um hello? That should’ve clued us all in right then and there.

We can’t stand in front of it, but we can put into our bodies whatever was in there, even though our cells are made from the food that we eat.

Oh, and we call it “nuking.”

Great.

I’ve been microwave-free for quite some time now, but it still doesn’t feel like long enough because I can remember a time – oh, like the majority of my life – when it was the only way I knew how to cook my food. Since I discovered that other invention called the stove, and it’s neighbor, the oven, things have gotten much more fun in my kitchen.

Microwaves have long been embraced by those who want to expedite the cooking process. Because we’re all in a rush. Because we have no time to wait or to cook. Because we want things easy.

If you’re anything like me, you see some BIG RED FLAGS there.

Ask your favorite health coach and I’m going to tell you that we shouldn’t be living our lives in such a rush. (And next time you buy one of those microwavable plastic pouches full of vegetables, and put it all in the microwave the way they tell you to do it, know that I’m cringing somewhere.)

Cooking is meant to be a celebration of food and taste, a recreational activity to be shared with others or to be enjoyed by oneself as a time out from the madness. For me, it is like a laboratory experiment, and things can get interesting when I ditch the recipe and go rogue.

But if you still really want some fast food, try a bag of baby carrots. Raw. Can’t get any faster than that.

And if you’re hungrier than that and don’t want to bother “cooking,” throw together a big salad with all kinds of fun ingredients in it, fresh or leftover:
-your favorite veggies (raw, steamed, sauteed, grilled, marinated…)
-avocado
-olives
-lentils
-seeds (hemp, chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, buckwheat…)
-nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts…)
-fruit (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, berries, pears, apples, kiwi, dried fruit…)
-beans (garbanzo, black, white, kidney…and always Eden Organics if canned because they’re BPA-free)
-fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley…)
-organic chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef, or low-mercury seafood (salmon, sardines, bay shrimp)
…get creative!

And slow down.

Enjoy your food.

Enjoy preparing your food.

And wave good riddance to your microwave.

5 Comments

Filed under BPA, Chemicals, Fast Food, Health, Superfoods, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables

Simple Summer Side Salad

Friends! I know it’s been awhile. I’ve missed you.

Well, happy Friday, for starters!

I wanted to send you into the weekend with this fun little recipe. It’s the perfect summery side dish or snack.

Best part? It’s healthy! (Obviously.)

Second best part? It’s easy!

Now, who doesn’t love that combination?

Okay, here we go…

ORANGE COUSCOUS

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 10 dried apricots, chopped* 
  • 2 tablespoons dried raisins*
  • 3 medium carrots, shaved and chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • drizzle of olive oil at the end (optional)
  • 2 persian cucumbers, chopped and added at the end (optional)

*Dried fruit should be organic, unsulphured and with no added ingredients – just apricots or raisins

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour couscous into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a small pot, combine water, orange juice, and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the dried fruit. Let simmer for about 1 minute.
  3. Give it a quick stir and then pour the liquid mixture over the dry couscous. Stir to eliminate any dry pockets. Add the carrots on top and then cover with a plate or towel to keep in the heat.
  4. The couscous will cook in 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. When the couscous is cooked, stir in the carrots and add in the pine nuts and cucumber. You may opt to drizzle olive oil on top.
  6. Best served cold or at room temp.

Now, some people don’t love couscous. That’s okay. For example, in my house the Hubby doesn’t like it so that means more for me. No complaints.🙂

While couscous works best in this recipe, if it’s not for you, you can choose a different grain…or non-grain. Buckwheat is a heartier choice and arguably even healthier.

Why? Well, it’s gluten-free because it’s not actually wheat, despite its misleading name. It’s a seed related to rhubarb and it’s a great source of protein, fiber, complete essential amino acids, zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins. Plus, it’s whole grain and very versatile, great in a sweet or savory dish.

I recommend Eden Organics Buckwheat. You should cook the buckwheat first (takes 30 minutes) or make it in advance. Then add the ingredients to it as you would uncooked couscous and the results should be similar. BUT, you should reduce the liquid substantially, since the buckwheat is already cooked. I’d say probably 1 tbsp of water, 1/4 cup of orange juice and 1/4 tsp of vinegar to 1 full cup of cooked buckwheat. You don’t want it liquidy. Let it chill in the fridge for a bit and add more buckwheat if it’s still too wet. If you like couscous, though, the recipe works better with it.

Also, I’m not the biggest lover of raisins, so sometimes I make this with just apricots, which I do love. Works great and I don’t feel the need to up the amount either. Plenty of sweetness here.

I’ve also been known to throw in some fresh herbs, too. Parsley and basil from my garden add a different flavor that I like sometimes. Herbs are super healthy, so that’s always a bonus. Just depends on my taste buds on any given day. Get creative!

And as always, all ingredients are organic. You know me. That’s how I do!

couscousBuckwheat

2 Comments

Filed under Fruit, Gluten-free, Health, Organic, Recipe, Snacks, Vegetables

One Seriously Tasty Weekend

Happy Weekend!

It is for HCJ & Co! My super cute, amazing dad is having a birthday and that means I’m going all out…in the kitchen.

As requested, Birthday Brunch will be a repeat of what I did for my Mom’s big day.

I was buying my Petit Pain Pascals at Trader Joe’s today and I bought so many that the checkout guy asked if I’d be using them for soup bowls.

My eyes went wide and I said, “No! French Toast! They are amazing as french toast! I make a french toast casserole that’s incredible!”

Like my dad, I’ll eat the Pascals any which way – plain, toasted with ghee, with avocado, or as french toast. This weekend, these little loaves have one fate only: they’re getting cubed up and into my 11×15 pan. It’s going to be legendary.

But last night I got the opportunity to do something I’ve been planning for quite some time. I made a seafood feast with seafood from I Love Blue Sea, a company out of San Francisco that sources the best sustainable seafood from small fishing operations around the country.

The Result?

Amazingly fresh, delicious seafood because it’s flash frozen immediately after it’s caught.

My selections included Wild Sockeye Salmon fresh from Alaska and lobster tails from Maine.

No fishy taste at all. Doing right by the taste buds, the body, and the environment. That’s an HCJ trifecta.

Now, the pièce de résistance was the lobster pasta. Dad LOVES pasta. And lobster.

And I love Dad.

lobster_1_1000_1_Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 9.55.50 AM

So here’s the informal recipe…

I boiled the lobster tails – takes about 5 minutes.

I cooked up DeBoles Organic Fettucine (not whole grain but this was a special occasion😉 and Dad LOVED this pasta) for 7 minutes, rinsed and added:

*chopped organic cherry tomatoes (which are ridic right now, btw)

*2 tsp of ghee

*a few shakes of organic dried basil

*and about 1/2 cup of low sodium organic chicken broth.

I let that all cook for about 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes looked slightly cooked.

Then I added chopped up meat from two lobster tails and topped it all with a whole lot of organic spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted – it’s just a couple of minutes.

(I was careful not to overcook because the pasta was done.)

I poured it all into a bowl and added some olive oil and mixed it up. You can add (organic) parmesan straight in but I did a little dish on the side.

HUGE hit.

Hey, Dad. I know you’re reading this. The good news is that there are still two lobster tails in the freezer so we can do this all again soon. And the other good news is that french toast is happening tomorrow. Happy, happy, happiest of birthdays to you. You’re the best dad in the history of the world (no offense, other dads) and I love you so much.

10 Comments

Filed under Health, Organic, Seafood

Let’s Go Shopping!

As a health coach, one of the things I do is give grocery tours. Since not all of my readers are local, consider this your free online grocery tour of Trader Joe’s!

“But Trader Joe’s is so healthy!” you say. “Can’t I buy anything there?”

No, my friends. Not all Trader Joe’s offerings are created equal. Many products contain soy and other iffy ingredients or far too much sugar to be healthy. One of the best things you can do for your health is to learn to read labels.

One tip I’ll give you right here, right now is this: the fewer ingredients, the better.

That being said, Trader’s does offer some wonderful products for amazing prices. So let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Organic Petit Pain Pascal 
Trader Joe’s made a winner here. With only 3 ingredients – organic whole wheat flour, water, and salt – this bread is organic, whole grain and so delicious. You’ll find it in the day bread section, which means they deliver them each morning and not every store gets them every day.

Fyi: Do not confuse it with the Pain Pascal demi-loaf. The Petit Pain Pascal is much softer and moister than it’s cousin the demi-loaf, which I found to be obscenely large and rather dry, but serviceable in a pinch.

Check with your local store for the deets. Oh and did I mention it’s $.99?

Makes you wonder why so many companies add more ingredients when only 3 taste this good…

2. Frozen Organic Berries

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.18.52 AMIn my germ-fighting post, I mentioned the importance of eating plenty of berries to stay healthy this time of year. I love that Trader’s has a frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. This combo-pack really elevates a bowl of oatmeal.

Their frozen berry selection is seasonal, though, so at times you’ll find the mixed berries or wild organic blueberries or organic raspberries. All get my stamp of approval on taste, health, and price. $2.99 (rasps)/$3.49 (mix)/$3.99 (bluebs)

3. Power to the Greens Mix

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.44.50 AMSeveral months ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Erika from Raw Green Fitness, brought this product to my attention. And I am so grateful! This bag of mixed greens (baby kale, baby spinach, and baby chard) is super healthy and gets a good mix of different greens into your meal. Cook or eat raw. Each bag is $1.99.

4. Organic Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Treats
Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.20.15 AM
I’ve yet to meet a pooch who doesn’t dig these tasty treats. And at $2.99 a bag, you can feel good about feeding your four-legged bestie good stuff for a great price.

5. Cheapest. Therapy. Ever.

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.19.47 AMI am flipping over their daffodils right now. One bunch of these bright yellow beauties is $1.29, lasts about a week, and makes me smile every time I pass by the vase. Find a bloom that brightens your day!

11 Comments

Filed under BPA, Fruit, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables