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fertility

Healthy Body

Healthy Stacey is having a baby + Spicy & Sweet Brittle Recipe

May 4, 2017
SpicyBrittleCrunchRecipe_Paleo_HealthyStacey

A lot has happened since my last post in December (embarrassing, I know). I’ve been writing up a storm for a few publications including The List, Mashed, and more, I’m really coming into my own as a personal chef, and oh yeah, I’M HAVING A BABY!

HealthyStaceyHavingaBaby

Yup. It’s official. All my efforts in fertility food have paid off. Well, that mixed with a few months of frustration, a few weeks of letting go and having fun (read: more wine, less paranoia), and finally, a big old positive on the pee stick. Baby Hutson is arriving in September and my husband and I could not be more excited.

HealthyStaceyPreggo2

In the meantime, however, months have gone by of me learning tons of new recipes, techniques, and information that I’ve been dying to share with you. Just haven’t made the time to do it. 

Because I couldn’t settle on one topic to talk about, I thought I’d give you a sampling of my new-found knowledge (i.e. a brain dump) so that we can get this train moving again. You ready? Here goes.

The Book I’m Reading:

DeepNutritionBookCateShanahan

Deep Nutrition: Why your genes need traditional food, 2nd Edition. I read the first years ago and it opened my mind up to the world of Epigenetics (meaning, what you eat and how you live can alter your DNA — and your future children’s DNA — for the better). Dr. Shanahan has now updated the book with more information on vegetable oils, brain health, body symmetry, and diet, and I cannot get enough. This book is really hard to summarize in a nice, neat paragraph. So maybe it’s better served having its own post. But if I can convince you to do one thing differently this month to better your health, it would be to read this book. No, I’m not getting paid to say that. I just really want more people to know more about it because it’s THAT good.

The Foods I’m Eating:

CadoIceCreamPaleo
At the moment, I love all things cold, crunchy, and/or sweet. That includes (but is not limited to): Cado ice cream (yes, it’s avocado ice cream), frozen grapes, jicama, my homemade spicy brittle crunch (recipe below), and plantain bread with almond butter and cinnamon. I’ve also been really diligent about drinking bone broth as much as I can for all of the benefits it brings to me and Baby H. I’ve increased my carb intake, not only because it’s important for hormone balance, but because my body is begging for it. I’ve done that in the form of sweet potatoes, plantain bread and chips, sprouted quinoa, and the occasional piece of sourdough bread with a heaping spoonful of almond butter. Besides that, it’s really just me eating more of what I already know and love. Loads of veggies, lots of meat and fish (grass-fed, free-range, and wild-caught as much as I can), hormone-balancing meatballs (read: LIVER!), and tons of nuts and seeds (more cashews and almonds than one human should consume in a day). Which segways perfectly into my next update…

The Project I’m Working On:

PaleoishCookbookNotes_HealthyStacey
Pregnancy has caused me some serious insomnia over the last two months. At first, I was frustrated. And then, I decided to use it to my advantage. So, I did what I always do to relax me. I wrote. And what came out of my writing was the beginnings of a cookbook. A paleo-ish pregnancy cookbook to be exact. Full of information about the benefits of a full-fat, meat-on-the-bone, organ meat-full, and gluten-free diet during pregnancy (with room for mess-ups and why-nots). I have no intention of taking this to a “real publisher." Instead, I am writing it because I love cooking, I love writing, and I wanted one place to put all my “craving recipes.” I’ll keep you updated on how that goes. Who knows. Maybe I'll print them out and make them available to you fine people. But no pressure, either way, cool? Cool.

The Cookware I'm Using…And Why:

CastIronPan_HealthyStacey
I’ve made the switch to cast iron pans. It wasn’t easy. I’ve had them sitting in my cupboards for years, only pulling them out every once in a while, for special occasions. But after reading about the dangers of the chemical coating that could be coming off in my food while using a non-stick pan, I decided to lug the heavy stuff out for good. Non-stick pans are great, right? No stick, no mess, no scrubbing with a brush to clean up caked-on ground beef. Problem is, the non-stick pans apparently can’t stand the heat. When heated to high temperatures, they can emit polymer fumes that have been shown to kill pet birds (what??) and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms. Cast iron, on the other hand, is a much better alternative. Not only is it free-from chemicals or toxic fumes, it actually serves as a good source of…wait for it…iron. Genius, right? Who’d a thunk. Oh. As far as lifting them goes – my advice is don’t. Just leave them where they are and clean them off with a paper towel, then wipe them down with a little oil to keep them well-seasoned. Wouldn’t want you breaking an arm while scraping off turmeric scrambled eggs.

Alright folks. That's all she wrote for now. But don't worry, I'll be back. And it won't take nearly as long next time, K? Promise. 

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

 

Spicy & Sweet Brittle Recipe (AKA My #1 Pregnancy Craving)

SpicyBrittleCrunchRecipe_Paleo_HealthyStacey

This recipe, first written by a food blogger, Amanda Skrip, was shared with me by health & wellness chef, Alia Dalal, as we were cooking it for a client of ours. I took one bite and knew I had to have it for myself. Since then, I’ve made some additional tweaks, and the result is this masterpiece. It has been, hands down, my biggest craving. Pregnant or not, the ingredients (nori for protein, minerals, and more vitamin C than an orange; molasses for strong bones and healthy blood; pumpkin seeds for immune support, omega-3, and hormone balance) are highly nutritious. But somehow, put them all together, and they are to-die-for. I’m talking, dream-about-it-all-day-till-I-get-home-and-stuff-my-face-with-it delicious. You catch my drift?  

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, sprouted
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, sprouted
  • 2 sheets nori (the seaweed paper your sushi is wrapped in)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Tip: If you love ginger, grate a ginger root over your sticky mixture (or half your mixture if you don't want it ALL gingery) for an extra spicy – and anti-inflammatory – kick.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of your seeds in one bowl together.
  3. Put your two sheets of nori on top of each other. Now, using scissors cut them into small, thin 2-inch strips, and add them to the seed mixture (Tip: If you have herb-cutting scissors, they make this job SO much easier).
  4. Mix together maple syrup, molasses, cayenne, cinnamon, and sea salt in a bowl.
  5. Pour sticky, spicy mixture over seeds and stir to coat them.
  6. Now, pour mixture onto parchment-covered baking sheet, and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer.
  7. Put pan in oven for 18 minutes at first. Check to see if it’s burning at all. If not, leave in for another 3-5 minutes. At this point, the mixture needs to dry to form together so DON’T MESS WITH IT TOO MUCH.
  8. Let it cool for 30 minutes until it’s hardened.
  9. Break apart into big chunks and take a bit of the most delicious bark you’ve ever tasted.

PaleoSeedBrittle_HealthyStacey

Healthy Body

Food & Fertility Series: What I Eat

July 1, 2016

Paleo Fertility Food Guide

Whether you are trying to have babies or not, hormone balance is INCREDIBLY important.

How do you know if you have un-balanced hormones? Here are a few hints:

  • You are moody a lot
  • Your weight fluctuates (and not necessarily because of changes in diet)
  • You have a lot of digestive issues
  • You have a low sex drive
  • You have un-reliable periods
  • You are tired all the time
  • You've experienced early hair loss or thinning

The foods that I am eating right now for fertility are the same foods I should be eating to solve any hormone balance issues. Strange coincidence? I think not.

Yes, eating them will help put my body in the best condition to conceive. They will help with morning sickness, cravings, food aversions, and varicose veins. And they will later make my pregnancy go smoother, my baby's health better and breast-feeding easier.

But they will also help boost metabolism and promote weight loss, combat stress and reduce inflammation, AND increase sex drive (which will, of course, also help with making babies too).

And before you wonder to yourself, the answer is NO. Eating these foods will not MAKE you get pregnant, as long as you are following birth control methods. Silly.

What we’re looking for in fertility and hormone-balancing food:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Long Chain Fatty Acids
  • Sources of Omega-3
  • Adaptogen Herbs

With that in mind, I’ve created a fertility food plan for myself. The plan is based on Weston A. Price’s fertility diet, but I’ve taken it down a couple notches, added a few of my own special touches, and tried to make it a little more realistic for people.

Without further ado, here it is…

EVERY DAY:

2 or more eggs, preferably from Pasture-raised chickens.

Where to get them: I love Vital Farms eggs because you can get them from most Whole Foods and Weseda Farms eggs from my favorite, Local Foods. But since it’s Farmer’s Market season, I highly recommend picking up a couple dozen from your local farmers.

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil, used in cooking, smoothies, or bone broth.

Where to get it: I love Dr. Bronner’s. You can order it at Thrive Market, pick it up at Whole Foods or order it online.

Pasture-Raised/Grass-Fed Beef, Lamb or Chicken.

Where to get it: Both Marianos and Whole Foods will carry some Grass-Fed meat. But if you live in Chicago, my market of choice is Local Foods as I wrote about in this post. Why grass-fed? I explain it all right here.

1 cup or more of bone broth, used as a morning drink in soups or in cooking.

Where to get it: My first recommendation would be to make your own (I will be showing you how in a future post). It's a lot less expensive and you have more control over the ingredients. But in the meantime, I’m a big fan of the Kettle & Fire brand and they are now offering it for a discounted price at Thrive Market.

Fermented everything: Beverages (Kefir, Kvass, KOMBUCHA!!), Vegetables and Condiments.

Where to get Kombucha: My two favorite Kombucha brands are GT (available at any Whole Foods, most Marianos, and some Jewels, and even starting to be available at cafes like Hannah's Bretzel) and Health-Ade (harder to find in the Midwest, but available at Fresh Market and recently spotted at Le Pain Quotidien). And get this, now there is even a starter kit that makes it really easy to make on your own.

Where to get Kefir: Available at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section next to the yogurt. Try to steer clear of the ones with lots of added sugar, and instead get plain WHOLE MILK kefir and add your own mix-ins or put it in a smoothie. And just like the kombucha, there is a cool culture kit to make your own.

Where to get Fermented Vegetables and Condiments: Naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut and carrots are becoming more and more widely available. Check out the refrigerated sections of Trader Joe's, Marianos and Whole Foods. One of my favorite brands is Bubbies.

Pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle it on your salads, make healthy cookies or bars, eat it straight, whatever floats your boat.

Where to get it: Most grocery stores will carry pumpkin seeds, but I highly recommend looking out for the sprouted nuts and seeds. Why sprouted? The process multiplies proteins, enzymes and minerals making food easier to digest and allow the nutrients to be more easily absorbed in the body. I love the Go Raw brand – available at Whole Foods, Marianos and Thrive Market.

2 Capsules of Fermented Cod Liver Oil every day OR 1 Teaspoon of Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

Where to get it: Green Pasture is the only brand I've ever found that carries the fermented kind. This is different than fish oil capsules; it's much more nutrient-dense and your body will absorb it MUCH BETTER. Here are the Capsules and here is the Oil.

1 Vitex pill.

            Where to get it: It’s actually pretty widely available at grocery stores, but if you want to order it online, this is the one I use. Bonus: totally affordable. 

EVERY WEEK

Seafood, 2-4 times/week (wild salmon, fish eggs, mollusks, shellfish, canned sardines, canned tuna).

  • Where to get it: Wild salmon as well as mollusks and shellfish is available at most grocery stores. My favorite canned fish brand is Wild Planet which you can get the cheapest from Thrive Market. I eat my sardine salads with this stuff at least one time a week. It’s my fast, cheap and easy way to get my seafood intake in. Don’t knock it till you try it J.

Liver, 1-2 times/week. Visit my Paleo Hormone Balancing Meatball post to better understand why you need liver for ideal hormone balance, and discover a really delicious way to get it into your diet.

  • Where to get it: Ask your butcher if he can put some aside for you if he doesn't already have it. Whole Foods keeps it in plastic containers in the refrigerated section next to the bacon. Keep in mind, though, just like any other animal protein, where it came from matters. Local Foods is a whole animal butcher so it keeps EVERYTHING from all the animals so you can choose your pick between Chicken livers, Pig livers or Cow livers. Stop making that face. It's worth it. Promise.

Superfood Smoothies packed with hormone-balancing nutrients like Goji Berries, Bee Pollen, Turmeric, Ginger, Camu Camu, Wheat Grass and Grass-fed Collagen Powder. I'll go into more details about superfoods in a later post, but I nudge you to try some in your next smoothie. You can actually feel their benefits happening right away, I think.

  • Where to get: Thrive Market is a great place to shop for discounted prices on superfoods like goji berries, cacao powder, maca and matcha. Otherwise, Whole Foods and Marianos both have sections in the store dedicated to these types of foods.
  • Where to get recipes: I have been posting fertility smoothies non-stop on my Healthy Stacey Instagram page. If you want to see more, follow me! (please 🙂

1 teaspoon Royal Jelly, 2-4 times/week. This stuff is gold. It is the Queen Bee's primary source of nutrition and the reason she lives longer, stronger and bigger than any of the other bees in the hive. (5-6 years vs. 30-40 days!!). With it she produces approximately 250,000 eggs in one season, producing as many as 200 eggs/day. Bonus: It’s mixed in with honey and tastes DELICIOUS. Every time I take it, I can’t believe it’s part of my “supplements.”

  • Where to get it: Not easy to find locally here in Chicago, unfortunately. So where else? Amazon. The brand in my link came recommended to me by a sweet old beekeeper named Bob that I met at the Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market.

p.s. Love reading reviews on Amazon like this, don’t you?

Lots and lots and lots of greens. No explaining necessary. You guys know the drill.

I’m trying to shorten these babies up a bit. I tend to go on and on and on. There’s just so much to say! This post was originally twice the length because I also was trying to explain why everything I was recommending was good for hormone balance. Instead, how ‘bout you guys send me an email if you’d like all that info as well and I’d be happy to provide it?

Alrighty. What do you guys think of all this? Are you overwhelmed? Are you excited to try some of it? Comment below…

Like what you read today? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

Sources:

Recipes

Hormone Balancing Meatballs

June 28, 2016

Paleo Hormone Balancing meatballs

I love meatballs. And when I love something, I obsess over it for a good month-ish…

There were the meatballs for breakfast.

Lamb meatballs with sweet potato pasta.

And who could forget the Fertility Feast meatballs?

Meatball-making reminds me of cookie-baking. You roll up all of these fantastic ingredients into tiny little balls, put them on a baking sheet, and fill your kitchen with all the smells, until it's time to pull them out and try one bite of the juicy, herby, spicy, meaty cookie. But unlike cookies, I don’t believe you have to follow an exact recipe. That’s the beauty of cooking after all. A pinch of this, a handful of that – as long as it’s all things you like, it will most likely be delicious.

Besides being addicting, these particular meatballs have so many health benefits, it’s ridiculous. The reason? Because they have liver. Yes, liver. WAIT! WAIT! Before you freak out and close this page, please do two things for me: 1) Read the benefits below. And 2) See how I’m going to make it really easy for you to incorporate the liver into your diet through this awesome recipe.

Hormone Balancing Meatballs

Ridiculous Benefits Of My Liver Meatballs:

LIVER is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Period.

Greater than 65% of daily requirement of folate for 30-something women.

High in B12, B6, zinc and iron, which helps with…

  • Depression
  • Thyroid issues
  • Low energy

The highest source of vitamin A, which improves…

  • Thyroid function. It supports thyroid deficiencies so it's perfect for anyone with hypothyroid.
  • Liver health and detoxification.
  • Absorption of Vitamin A. We can’t get ANYWHERE close to this amount of Vitamin A from vegetables – not only because vegetable don't have as much, but becasue the body has to convert it to retinol first in order to use it. Unfortuantely, the veggie conversion rate is not good – especially for people with thyroid issues. But with liver, it's already converted and ready to use!

Anti-Fatigue factor:

  • In a famous study done by Benjamin K. Ershoff, PhD, liver consumption prevented rats from exhaustion, even after swimming for 2 straight hours.
  • Could have implications for human consumption; many people report feeling energized after eating it.

WALNUTS are high in Omega-3 which has been shown to:

  • Balance depression, anxiety and mood swings associated with hormonal imbalances
  • Reduce inflammation and balance insulin

COCONUT OIL is a medium chain fatty acid which:

  • Is essential for hormone production
  • Keeps inflammation levels low
  • Boosts your metabolism
  • Promotes weight loss

My personal experience with these liver meatballs:

  • Incredibly satiating – I've tried liver in many different ways and THIS baby finally made me enjoy them.
  • Improved digestion
  • More energy
  • GREAT for fertility

Paleo Hormone Balancing Meatballs

Ridiculously Easy Way To Make It Delicious:

  • So that you don’t actually taste the liver, we’re going to mix it together with grass-fed ground beef and lots of seasonings and ingredients.
  • So that you don’t have to touch the liver (too much), I’m going to ask that you ask your local butcher to grind it for you. And if you ask really nicely, they might grind it together with the beef. (Shoutout to Anthony at Local Foods for being the sweetest, most accommodating butcher ever 🙂 )
  • So that you don’t have to deal with liver often, we’re going to make one BIG batch now so you can freeze them later and have a ready-to-go, highly nutritious dinner any night of the week.

Okay, enough talk. Are you ready to put all your fears aside and try liver???

   Paleo Hormone Balancing Meatballs Ingredients

Hormone Balancing Basil Meatballs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
45 Meatballs 30 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
45 Meatballs 30 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Hormone Balancing Basil Meatballs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
45 Meatballs 30 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
45 Meatballs 30 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Meatballs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set out three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on the sauté pan and toss in onion; sauté for 5 minutes-ish.
  3. While that's cooking, chop up garlic cloves, basil leaves and walnuts; Set aside.
  4. Set aside cooked onions and let cool to room temperature.
  5. Whisk eggs in a bowl.
  6. Stir in garlic, basil, walnuts, nutritional yeast, coconut flour and red chili pepper flakes.
  7. Pour mixture into beef and liver; Pour onions in separately.
  8. Get your hands in there and mix it all together.
  9. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place on parchment paper.
  10. Stick in oven for 10 minutes.
  11. Bonus: Once cooled, stick in freezer ON THE PAN to flash freeze your meatballs. Doing so will keep them in meatball shape so you can stuff them in freezer bags and have them on hand whenever you need them. Believe me, nothing is better than coming home to an empty fridge, and then remembering that you have delicious pre-made meatballs waiting for you in the freezer.
  12. TO RE-HEAT: Warm in pan with a bit of coconut oil, bone broth and/or spaghetti sauce for approximately 10 minutes.
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Healthy Body

I Stopped Taking My Birth Control

June 27, 2016

HealthyStaceySmile

I’ve been on birth control since I was 15. That means for 15 years my hormones have been controlled by a tiny little pill that I take every day.

When I started the little yellow pack all those years back, I was just a frustrated teenager with bad cramps, looking for anything that would make the pain go away. My gynecologist didn’t hesitate to put me on the pill, promising that would ease the pain and lessen the severity of my periods.

She was right. It worked.

Over the next 15 years, I became more in touch with my body. As we all do, I think.

  • I knew my hunger levels throughout the day.
  • I knew which foods I craved. And which ones made me feel bad.
  • I knew exactly how much wine I could drink before I entered the danger zone.
  • I knew that right before my period I would get sad (and emotional and sensitive and I-am-fat-and-ugly-and-unlovable…just kidding, kind of).
  • And I knew what I needed to do to make the pain/sadness/irritableness go away.

At 30, I felt very in tune with my body. So I, of all people, thought I had all my body’s “feels” down pat. But all that completely changed when I went off the pill.

Today, I’d like to share my experience with you. Whether you’ve considered going off of it because you have the heard the negative impacts it can have on our health and emotions, or you’re just starting to take the first steps to fertility, I hope this will help you better prepare for the experience.

More Hungry
I wrote a blog post a few years back about decreasing hunger levels in my late 20’s. I had assumed that, with age, your hunger decreases and mine had just hit that wall. As a child and as a teenager I was hungry ALL THE TIME. As children are, I suppose. I still loved food as an adult (obv), but a lot of time I would eat just because it was “time to eat;” not because I was hungry.

Now, I wake up ravenous. I can’t wait to get something in my belly. Once lunchtime hits, I once again CANNOT wait to eat. And you know how when you’re really hungry, food tastes better? Ya. Food totally tastes better off the pill! More crunchy, more sweet, more cheesy and more satiating. I swear it.

And BECAUSE I am more satiated, I find myself snacking less. When I eat, I REALLY eat. When I’m done, I’m done.

More…Ahem…Drive
I read somewhere once that women hit their sexual peak in their 30’s. So I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed when I hit mine and I wasn’t feeling this sudden surge of sexual confidence. But now I have to wonder – was it the pill that was holding me back?

I don’t want to get too personal on you here because it’s incredibly awkward and I am literally cringing as I type this. But just know that once I stopped the pill, I felt the surge. ALL the time. AT LEAST 3 times a day. Okay 5. More than that, I just feel sexier. Maybe one is the result of the other, but I can’t get over this feeling of being really happy with the way my body looks and feels right now.

More Clear Headed & Steady
This one is going to be the toughest to put into words. Because it’s more of a feeling than anything else. But I just feel more alive, more awake and more alert. More happy and less moody. Even-keeled is a good way to describe it.

Not that this is in any way unusual, but with my period on its way, I would have some pretty deep dips in my mood. I’d never get angry. Just sad and emotional. And things that would typically bother me a lot, I’m letting go easier.

Initial Adjusting
It would be remiss of me not to tell you that there will be some getting used to it in the very beginning. Your body has to readjust to its own hormone levels and this can be a bit jolting when we’re used to a prescribed level of hormones for so long. Along with all of the good stuff above, I also noticed a little nausea, slight cramping long before my period came and changes in body temperature. I would wake up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning with what felt like a hot flash. I run really cold so this was very odd to me. Without doing any research on this (VERY unlike me), I feel as though this makes perfect sense. Women going through menopause experience hot flashes because their hormones are changing. So why wouldn’t a woman in her 30’s who had just greatly affected her hormones feel the same? Oh. And the last and MOST annoying one – not knowing how long your period is and waiting for what seems like months for it to come (wondering if you’re pregnant or not the whole time EVEN THOUGH you’d taken multiple pregnancy tests that tell you otherwise).

That’s all she wrote for now. You can choose to take my experience with a grain of salt. And yes, it could be the placebo effect. I tend to be very sensitive to what I hear or read, and I knew to expect a change when I stopped the pill. But from everything people told me, it would be horrible. There would be terrible cramps and mood swings and emotions. And I gotta say, I had all of those things much worse when I was on it. I love my new feels. I think they’re pretty fantastic. And honestly, I have no desire to go back.

Like what you read today? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature