Healthy Mommy, Recipes

Finding Time For My Masterpiece + Banana Pancake Recipe

February 26, 2021
BananaPancakes_HealthyStacey

With every nap, with every bedtime, and with every moment that my children actually find a way to entertain themselves, my immediate thought is: What marvelous thing can I create with this time?

A pitch for a piece in The New York Times?

The first chapter of my novel?

A well-crafted, thought-provoking blog post?

As I walk downstairs with my head in the clouds, I try to avoid eye contact with the piles. You know the ones. Piles of laundry, piles of dishes, piles of food particles under the highchair, piles of bills and paperwork, piles of toys.

I know they need to be done, but I convince myself that a job that should take an entire day to complete can be done in a matter of minutes. Essentially, I half-ass them, doing parts of one, and parts of another on my way to the office where I will create my masterpiece. More often than not, though, I never arrive at the office. I get tied up in the piles, even with my best attempts to let them slide off my back, as if they didn't bother me, as if they were not nearly as important as creating something that will stimulate my mind and bring me joy.

Does anybody else think like this? Do othrer moms imagine all the things they are going to do with their “free time” and then realize, there is no such thing as time that is free? It all comes with a price. If you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing another. And when you’re a mom, there’s always something to do.

I think the problem is that I still have not fully grasped or accepted what it means to be a stay-at-home mom. Before my first-born, I romanticized what full-time mommy-hood would look like….

Snuggles in bed, looking lovingly into their eyes while they nuzzled up to be the small spoon to my big spoon, immediately followed by tickle fights, with infectious and nonstop baby giggles. Every day would be scheduled with playdates and story times at the library, during which I would chat with other moms and stare adoringly at my child while they figured out the world around them — smile on their face the whole time, of course. And then during nap time, I would become the published writer I was always meant to be. What else would there be to do?

Now, of course I understand that I was so very naive. Green. Stupid. Completely and utterly clueless.

It is nothing like the life I had imagined.

It’s waking up at un-Godly hours, 2 to 3 to 5 times a night. It’s doing your darnedest to keep your kids healthy by whipping up banana and egg “pancakes” (recipe below) only to have your 3-year-old claim that they are “BURNT!” and refuse to eat them, while your 10 month old squeezes her pouch all over her freshly-washed hair. It’s picking up toys and not-toys at all times of the day. And no matter how well you clean any given space, it will immediately be destroyed again only moments after. It’s being a full-time bodyguard to your baby, since every move she makes towards your toddler results in screaming, lunging at, kicking, or shoving towards baby.

When nap time finally arrives, you realize that you absolutely have to get a nap yourself to be able to muscle through the rest of the day, thereby forgoing your first chance at working on your masterpiece. That’s okay, there’s still the afternoon nap, you tell yourself.

When afternoon nap time hits, you’ve been emptied. Emptied of energy, intelligent thoughts, and discipline to prioritize something as frivolous as writing when there’s so much else to be done (i.e. the aforementioned piles). When I do muster up the energy to actually sit at my husband’s desk with my laptop, I just stare at the blank screen and think…nothing. I have nothing. Nothing to say. Nothing to give. I’ve given it all away. And nothing is filling me back up.

So inevitably, I find myself doing more logical, responsible things like reading through the 2,276 reviews on iPhone protection screens or researching how much it will cost to replace the lazy Suzan shelf that broke and smashed my very pungent balsamic vinaigrette inside said lazy Suzan.

The closest I’m able to get to my masterpiece is listening to others who are in the midst of creating theirs. Podcasts, audiobooks, masterclasses featuring Mom Bosses and creative world-beaters. They love to tell me how other women are out there writing novels, starting their own clothing lines or nutritionist businesses — and they’re all doing it with everything I have on my plate and more!

Maybe if I just listen to enough of these go-getters instead of actually doing the work myself, their creative powers will rub off on me and I, too, will create something or found something or speak about creating or founding something brilliant. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just wait until brilliance comes to me. In the meantime, I better get back to the piles.

Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

p.s. If you would like to make healthy paleo pancakes for your ungrateful children, I have left the recipe below. It's a staple in my chaotic home. Unless, of course, I burn them. You're welcome. 

 

Paleo Banana Pancakes – Easy, Kid-Friendly (Depending on your kid), and Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. Cooking oil (Ghee, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat non-stick pan on stovetop at medium heat
  2. Mash banana until it's a banana paste, with little to no lumps
  3. Add mashed banana, egg, and egg white to bowl and whisk
  4. Add in pinch of salt
  5. Add ghee or olive oil to pan
  6. Spoon dollops of banana/egg mixture onto pan one by one, making silver dollar-sized pancakes around the circumference of the pan
  7. Lower the heat to medium-low and keep an eye on the pancakes so they don't burn. I would estimate about 3-4 minutes per side but that depends on your stove and your pan. The best way to check if they're ready is to attempt to flip them over with a spatula. If they hold together, they're ready. If they are still too gooey and fall apart in your attempt, they are not ready.
  8. Let cook on flip side for another 3-4 minutes on low. They should be golden brown on each side when they're done. It may take a couple of flips back and forth to get them there.
  9. Optional: If you're kids are being very good or you want to bribe good behavior in exchange for a special treat, add in dark chocolate chips after the second flip. Do NOT overdo this, otherwise it will no longer be special and will be expected, leading you to serve them chocolate chips every morning when you're original intention was to get them to eat a healthy hearty breakfast. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Mind, Healthy Mommy

Life Before Kids

August 11, 2020
HealthyStaceySelfie

Last Saturday night, I had the pleasure of driving to pick up pizza for my family. To be clear, the pleasure part was that I was driving to my destination and back ALL ALONE. No toddler. No baby. No husband (no offense, babe).

My mind filled up with all of the things I could do with this new-found freedom. I could go get a latte at Starbucks, swing by Old Navy to get a few sports bras, or go to the top of Lookout Mountain and just stand there in silence. I did none of those things, but honestly, just the joy of thinking about doing them got me excited. I did, however, listen to Jagged Little Pill and catch up with my best friend on the phone for a brief but sweet 15 minutes. It was the little slice of me that I needed to refuel. When I got home, I felt exhilarated. Rested. Refreshed. Dare I say, excited to see my kids again.

I got all of that from just a 20-minute round-trip errand. Which made me realize:

I need to get out more.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things that used to make me “me.” You know, the before-kids me.

Saturday nights were for Karaoke and other shenanigans. I would plan my song ahead of time, drink just the right amount of vodka tonic to get me motivated, and then, step on stage to experience a high that only singing in front of a roomful of strangers could give me. I was good. I was very good. Not at singing, but boy could I put on a show. At one point, I got the whole bar to do chorus line kicks with me to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” I remember stepping off the stage and thinking, “Nailed it.” If Karaoke wasn't an option, there was always dancing. Dancing at bars. Dancing in our apartment. Dancing in the streets. I remember thinking, there will never be a point where I stop going out to dance. Ha!

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Friday nights and close-enough-to-Friday nights (Thursday night, Wednesday night) were for going out to eat. My then-boyfriend-now-husband and I lived in downtown Chicago in the West Loop — home to Google, trendy boutique hotels, and some of the most popular chef-driven restaurants in the country. Mexican-Mediterranean-Italian-Japanese food fusion served with spicy Mezcals or 10-ingredient cocktails that took 10-minutes for a well-trained mixologist to concoct. Wood-fired pizzas on rooftops. Sushi rolls with exotic sounding sauces like spicy ponzu or uni butter. The night was ours and nobody else’s. We could talk for hours without bouncing tiny humans on our knees in hopes of “getting through” dinner. I lived for these nights. And took pictures of almost everything I ate, later writing about it here on HealthyStacey.com or posting it on my largely popular Instagram account (kidding). One time, my Insta post even earned us a free meal at one of the best restaurants in the city because…social media influence. (A term that no longer belongs in my vocabulary).

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Saturday mornings were for the Farmers Market. This was when “Healthy Stacey” was in her element. I would walk to the park, reusable Trader Joe’s bags in hand, ready to fill them up with grass-fed beef, organ meat, chicken feet for my bone broth, and pasture-raised eggs. Of course, there was the locally-grown organic produce — kohlrabi, butter lettuce, misshapen sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and at least eight different varieties of apples. And then there was the mushroom guy. Ah, meaty shitakes, nutty shimejis, and buttery lion’s mane. I would walk the four blocks home carrying this ridiculously heavy load, motivated only by the moment when I would dump my loot out on my kitchen counter to take beautiful pictures of it all. I would then spend hours cooking up a fancy meal with it that night, only to take more pictures of the final product before I ate it. Damn I had a lot of time on my hands.

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Weekday nights — if I was truly alone — were reserved for my most embarrassing guilty pleasure — 90s TV. I owned entire box sets of Boy Meets World, Friends, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Full House was easy to catch on TV, as was Home Improvement so the box sets were not necessary. My movies of choice were Father of the Bride, Clueless, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Troop Beverly Hills (what a thrill J). If I was feeling really crafty, I might even try to catch some old Mary Kate and Ashley shows on YouTube (Two of a Kind, So Little Time anyone?), or revisit SNICK or TGIF promos. My little 90s oasis made me feel like I was a kid again. Whenever I was stressed, it was almost like I was hitting the rewind button to go back to a simpler time.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go back for a day. Wait, no — a week. Yes, a week in my old life with the new knowledge that this freedom would be fleeting. That it would only last a few short years. How much louder would I sing? How much more would I dance? How much sweeter would my ginger and herb-infused cocktail taste? And how much later would I stay up to watch just one more episode of Sabrina?

I guess I’ll get my chance again one day, when my kids are grown. But I guarantee you, I’ll be karaoke-ing to some song that I sang with my kids, I’ll stop mid-drink to think about that time my two-year-old ran across the room to “cheers!” me, and I’ll pause that show to scroll through pictures of my babies when they were still babies. I’ll never really go back. Because I can’t. Only forward.

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Healthy Mommy

Confessions of a Wannabe Montessori Mom

November 20, 2019
Montessori Mom

This is a piece I wrote for Mother.ly about 7 months ago that never got published. But I found it the other day and thought it sad that it never saw the light of day. Then I remembered, I have my own blog. Duh. So, here it is…

The Montessori life. Loving, respectful children, capable of playing independently, cleaning up after themselves, drinking out of a cup, and climbing on to their floor mattress at bedtime all on their own. Ah. Sounds lovely. I want that for my little girl. I really do. But I have my doubts. Not in the philosophy, but in my abilities to be a Montessori mom. You see, it takes a very special person to do this job. You have to be clean, organized, routine-oriented, and patient. Very, very patient.

I am none of these things.

When I walk in the door, I pull off my shoes using my feet and foot-toss them as close as possible to the shoe area. I pull off my daughter’s shoes and toss them with the same effort.

I walk past the powder room, forgetting that we should make it a habit to wash her hands as soon as she walks in the door. I will remember this important self-care task seconds after I put her down at her appopriately-sized dining table, scurrying her to the bathroom while she kicks and screams because she’s “HUNGY!”

Once that's finished, I begin to say, “Charley, get a plate from your…” Oh wait. I didn’t replenish her dish-setting drawer. There are no plates, no forks, just a lonely bib and a cup that she never uses because every time I try to get her to drink from an open-mouthed cup, she pours it all over herself.

We sit down to eat, and per usual, any attempts to eat with a fork are futile. It typically ends up on the floor or in my face because she wants me to see that she has “FOKE.” I don’t teach her how to use it (again) because I’m more worried about her losing interest in her food than her fork-using abilities.

“All done!” she says. “Okay,” I say. “Let me wipe your hands (yes, I wipe them for her), then you push your chair in.” She pushes it in! Yay! I needed a win. Then, without being asked, she picks up her plate and brings it towards the sink. Yay! Another wi…whoops. She drops the food all over the floor. That’s okay! Learning lesson, right? “Let’s clean it up together,” I say. She stops, looks at me, looks at the plate, then books it to the other side of the room. I don’t push because I know it will take ten times longer for her to help.

She checks out her extremely stale play area while I clean up in the kitchen. There are no trays. No rugs. No wooden shelf. Just a fireplace with six (usually untouched) toys atop, and one pink plastic (yes, I said it) desk and chair next to them. She throws my latest Pinterest attempt across the room (golf tees hammered into the bottom of an egg carton) and circles back around to the kitchen where she can do some real damage (i.e. throw my Pyrex lids like frisbees).

It’s nap time. Thank God. We read three books, sing a song, and I put her in her crib, wondering if she is capable of using an open bed where she would be able to roam freely if she so chooses. Nah. She’s…ahem, I’m not ready. I spend nap time poring over a Montessori book…

Oh, that’s good. I’ll write that down.

I can’t see that ever happening.

Is this author serious? That’s not realistic.

Or maybe it is for other kids, just not mine.

Or worse. Maybe it is for other moms, just not me.

She’s up!! Crap. I forgot to set up a new activity for her. Oh well. I’ll just wing it. We go downstairs and I set her up with a few empty containers and jars with lids. She loves them! Independent-play win. YUSSS.

“Charley, can you set the table for dinner? “I say. I get down to her level and explain to her to put the placemats on the table. Then, the plates, then the forks. Ugh. That was probably too much information at once. And now I’m wondering, have I ever taken the time to explain exactly how to do that?

She gets the placemats out. All eight of them. I explain to her that we only need two, and to put the others back in the drawer. Next, the plates. This time, I have a pile of clean plates for her ready in her drawer. Of course, that means she takes all three plates out, puts her feet in two of them, and throws the other on the floor. I calmly explain to her that the plates are for eating, not stepping in. I wash the plates, then leave them in the drying rack so she can’t try to use them as footwear again.

I pick her up to her chair at the kitchen table. We sit, we eat, she plays with her food, and turns her fork into a scraping device for our table. I try not to comment on her eating habits, how good the food is, and if she is going to eat those delicious parsnips I spent so much time cutting up into small pieces. I want to make sure she doesn’t feel any pressure, and that she’ll eat if she’s hungry, stop when she’s full.

“All done!” she says and signs. We’re in the home stretch. From here, I set her up with a big bottle of milk (yes, bottle, not cup, not glass) and start cleaning the kitchen. She “helps me” sweep with her adorable Melissa & Doug broom and dustpan. But it’s more of a matter of keeping her busy rather than actually accomplishing any sweeping.

We play a little longer, then it’s time for bed. After our usual power struggle, I get her to her stool at the sink for teeth-brushing time. To keep her there, I turn on Boo, our stuffed toy elephant — an unrealistic portrayal of an animal and one that sings, making it a passive toy. Ugh, the shame.

We change into her PJs. I try to let her help, but honestly, at this point, I just want to get this show on the road. She picks out her books (hey, there’s some independence), we snuggle up, and read. Lights out, a song and a slow dance, and in to the bed she goes. “Nigh Nigh!” she says, followed by a kiss-blow. My heart melts.

Another day in the books of a thousand failures and about three and a half wins. I think I can do better tomorrow. I just have to try harder. And remember — there was a time when she refused to push in her chair, insisted on throwing food during meals, and wouldn’t touch anything that implied the word “clean up.” So I must be doing something right. Right?

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

In Defense of Salt + Crispy Zucchini Recipe

May 1, 2019
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I was at the grocery store the other day, having a friendly conversation with the butcher about the picky taste buds of toddlers. He explained to me that his son hated carrots, until he finally “gave in” and salted them. Then, he loved them. He was hesitant to do so because he was told that we shouldn’t salt our kid’s food because it “ruins” their taste buds and makes them want salt on everything.

I, being the unconventional girl that I am, was confused. Why is that a bad thing? I thought. Salt is good for you.

I told the story to my husband, and he, too, agreed with the butcher. Why would I want to encourage our daughter to eat more salt?

Well, where do I begin?

Let’s start with the fact that we have been repeatedly told that we need to lower our salt intake based on old research that has since been seriously questioned by newer research. Here’s a shortened review.

In Favor of Salt Studies

New England Journal Study

A study from the New England Journal of Medicine looked at the sodium levels of 101,945 persons from 17 countries, examining the association between sodium excretion and outcome of death and major cardiovascular events (sodium excretion correlates directly with sodium injestion). After a little less than four years observation, they found that those with the lowest sodium excretion had the highest rate of death or cardiovascular events. Those who had the highest sodium excretion had a 24% lowered death or cardiovascular event rate compared to the lowest group.

Source

American Journal of Medicine Study

A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Medicine tracked the sodium intake of 78 million Americans (whoa.) over the course of 14 years. The results (in short)? Lower sodium diets led to higher mortality rates among those with cardiovascular disease.

Source

Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Study

With 3681 people as their test subjects, the researchers found that systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic pressure is affected by changes in sodium intake. However, this systolic blood pressure association did not result in higher risk of hypertension or CVD complications. In fact, lower sodium intake was associated with higher CVD mortality.

Source

Before I go getting all Food Babe on you (i.e. self-righteous blogger), I think it’s only fair to present the studies that still find the fault in salt.

Fault in Salt Studies

New England Journal Study

Combining data from more than 100 sodium-related studies in 66 countries, the researchers found that there would be 1.65 million fewer deaths per year worldwide if the average sodium intake was decreased to 2,000 mg a day (the average sat at 4,000 mg a day).

Source

Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP) Studies

Researchers in the late 80s/early 90s tested the impact of lifestyle changes on people — one of which being to reduce sodium intake (this was tested independently of other changes so the results could be controlled). Over the 18-36 months of trials, results showed small decreases in blood pressure with sodium reduction. Ten to fifteen years later, the researchers checked in on their participants again to find that A) participants in the sodium-reduction groups were 25% less likely to have a heart/blood pressure-related conditions or to have died from them, and B) the higher the potassium to sodium, the lower their chances were of said conditions. Coming to the conclusion that both lowering sodium and increasing potassium is the winning combination.

Both of these studies bring up some interesting and valid points. The potassium/sodium balance discovered in the TOHP trial is a huge finding (and this is just one of many studies that have found it). We’ll come back to this. Promise.

Secondly, one very important point is missing from all of these trials, and that is the importance of the type of salt consumed.

Salt Jekyll and Salt Hyde

There are two types of salt: Refined salt and unrefined salt. And the fact is that they could not be more different from each other.

Refined salt (i.e. table salt):

  • 97.5% sodium
  • 2.5% man-made chemicals
  • 0 minerals
  • Causes acidosis (lowered pH) (source)
  • Excess leads to fluid accumulating in your tissues

Unrefined salt (Real Salt, Himalayan salt, Celtic salt):

  • 84% sodium chloride
  • 16% naturally-occurring trace minerals
  • Carries nutrients throughout your cells, helping to maintain your acid-base balance
  • Increasing the glial cells in your brain (in charge of creative thinking) and necessary for firing of neurons
  • Maintain and regulate blood pressure
  • Helps your brain talk to your muscles through the sodium-potassium ion exchange
  • Supports adrenal glands

Source 1

Source 2

The Sodium-Potassium Love Connection

As discussed in one of our previous research studies, the key to reduced blood pressure and relaxed arteries is not to take salt out of your diet. It’s to add potassium into it (source).

Salt does not work well alone. It needs it's laid-back buddy Potasssium. Potassium lives inside your cells, unlike sodium, which lives outside them. Its job is to relax the walls of your arteries, prevent muscle cramping, and lower your blood pressure.

A 2014 study, found that women without high blood pressure who took in the most potassium had a 21% reduced risk of stroke. In addition, a meta-analysis (dissecting 29 trials) also found that low levels of potassium resulted in higher systolic blood pressure readings.

The most common recommendation is that you keep your potassium to sodium ratio at 5 to 1. This works great if you’re consuming a mostly unprocessed, home cooked diet. But if you’re eating a lot of canned soups and using store-bought salad dressing, then that level of potassium is going to be really tough to reach. In this case, the first step is to eat more real food. Sounds simple. I know it’s not. But I’m telling you, the more unprocessed, home-cooked meals you’re eating, the less you'll have to think about it. The correct balance will happen on its own. Here’s a few food items that really pack in the potassium.

  • Swiss chard, 1 cup = 1 gram potassium
  • Lima beans, 1 cup = 1 gram
  • Avocado, 1/2 Florida variety = 0.8 gram
  • Dried apricots, 1/2 cup = 0.9 gram
  • Baked potato, 1 large = 0.9 gram
  • Winter squash, 1 cup = 0.9 gram
  • Cooked spinach, 1 cup = 0.8 gram
  • Beets, 1 cup = 0.4 gram

So let’s sum it up.

  1. Salt isn’t bad for you.
  2. Multiple studies have challenged the claims that salt is “bad” for you or increases hypertension.
  3. There are studies that have concluded salt is bad for you. And they're right, it can be. But what hasn't been addressed in these studies is…
  4. There’s a big difference between refined salt and unrefined salt. As much as you can, put yourself in the unrefined camp. The best options for this include the following brands: Real Salt, Himalayan salt, Celtic salt. And no, I am not getting any money for you to click on these links. You're welcome 🙂
  5. Up your potassium level. Salt works its best when it has its sidekick.

Long story short, yes, I am happy to salt my daughter’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No guilt. Not sorry.

 

Slightly Crispy, Perfectly Salted Zucchini

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Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis
  • Unrefined salt (I use Real Salt here, but also recommend Celtic Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt) to taste
  • Avocado oil spray (or a very light use of the bottle)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Prep a baking sheet with parhment paper
  3. Slice zucchini into small cubes (about 1/2 an inch thick). Do this by first slicing one in half. Then into planks (i.e. flat pieces, cut vertically). Then cut your planks into sticks. Then cut your sticks into cubes.
  4. Spread the zucchini cubes onto the parchment paper so that they have room to breathe
  5. Spray with avocado oil or very very lightly drizzle with oil from bottle and spread evenly over cubes. The light use of oil is imperative here. Too much oil and you'll drown them, resulting in mooshy non-crispy zuchinni. 
  6. Sprinkle with unrefined salt, and don't be shy about it.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, check on crispiness. If they still aren't slightly browned at the sides, stick in for another 5 minutes and continue to do so until they're done. I know this is a pain in the butt, but it is the best way you can get them at their best possible texture and taste. 

 

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature