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pregnancy holiday

  • Easiest Cinnamon Rolls Ever!

    Easiest Cinnamon Rolls Ever - only 5 ingredients!

    If you are looking for a yummy pregnancy snack that is as good as it is healthy, then check out this super easy Cinnamon Rolls Vegan recipe! There is no dough-making involved - which means less waiting, less work and more fun! For this recipe, pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough is used, so all you have to do is make the filling, roll, cut and bake. Traditionally, cinnamon rolls use butter and refined sugar for the filling. For these super healthy vegan rolls, it is recommended to use vegan butter, coconut oil, any specialty oils (hazelnut, walnut, pistachio), or a blend with olive oil. Or, experiment with nut butters!

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    There is some debate about whether vegan butter is actually a better choice than butter.

    Here is a comparison of the two:

    Vegan Butter Dairy Butter
    Most brands contain ingredients that are sustainably sourced (cruelty free). Most brands use generic milk from cows in factory farms (bad living conditions).
    Plant foods take less resources (space and water) than animal products. Animal products (namely dairy and meats), take huge amounts of resources.
    Plant foods contain no cholesterol. Dairy contains cholesterol.
    Less saturated fats. More saturated fats.

     

    The price is comparable and the taste is almost exactly the same. So make the switch to support a healthier you and care for the planet and animals.

    Coconut sugar is used instead of regular refined sugar. Coconut sugar has a great caramel-y taste and is more sustainable than cane sugar. It also has minerals, amino acids, and a lower glycemic index.

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    Ingredients

    1 package of pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s brand was used)

    ¼ cup coconut sugar

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

    5 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance was used for this recipe) or about 4 tablespoons of your choice of oil/s

    Optional:

    ¼ cup chopped dates

    ⅓ cup chopped pecans

    cinnamon rolls

    Glaze:

    4 oz. vegan cream cheese or coconut butter

    Maple syrup to taste (a couple tablespoons should do it)

    1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

    water to thin out to desired consistency

    Directions

    Follow the directions for dough prep on the package. This may include setting the dough on a lightly floured surface and letting it rise for 25-30 minutes.

    While you are waiting, mix together the coconut sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and optional add-ins in a small bowl and set aside. After any dough prep is done, roll out into a rectangle about ½ to ¼ inch thick. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and line a cake pan or 8x8 dish with parchment paper. They will spread out and touch as they bake.

    Spread 2-3 tablespoons of oil or vegan butter onto dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture. Roll into a log and cut into 8 pieces.

    Put rolls into pan. They should all have a bit of room around them (about ½ an inch). Drizzle the remaining 1-2 tablespoons of vegan butter or oil on the outsides of the rolls.

    Bake for 25-45 minutes. There is variation in the cooking time depending on what oil/butter and dough you use. Mix together glaze ingredients, smear on, and enjoy!

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    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2016, All Rights Reserved.

  • Healthy Pregnancy Eggnog!! A Holiday Treat :)

    Healthy Vegan Eggnog Healthy Vegan Eggnog

    It’s getting colder and colder as the holiday season approaches! Warm yourself up and nourish your body and baby with this delicious and easy recipe for eggnog minus the eggs! Yes, you read that correctly! This clever vegan recipe is perfect for pregnancy and beyond and perfectly safe for your body and growing baby in your belly since there are no raw eggs to worry about!  This drink takes under 20 minutes so you can whip it up for a quick dessert or as a midday pick-me-up.

    Recipes with raw eggs can be a little risky, or at least leave you weary -- especially if you are pregnant. Babycenter.com advises pregnant women to steer clear of home or restaurant-made items with raw eggs -- which means no eggnog. However, they also say that it’s probably okay to drink store-bought versions, because they contain pasteurized eggs. But why drink store-bought versions when making it yourself is that much more fun, healthy, and safe? This recipe contains no eggs or animal products at all, making it much safer and much healthier. Afterall, who needs added stress for the holiday season?

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    The base is made from pecans and dates with a bit of spice and molasses for flavor. An optional addition is cashew cream, which is made of just soaked cashews and water. This versatile ingredient is a must for classic holiday meals. You can add it to pumpkin pie filling, make dressings, add it to soups, and of course, make creamy hot drinks! It’s almost impossible to mess up this recipe -- so experiment with different amounts of cashew cream, molasses, and all the other ingredients! You can even add some orange oil or add less sweetener and use it as an alternative milk.

    However you make it, this drink will warm you up and put a smile on your face. So go make some and drink it while you cuddle up with a good book or movie. It makes over 5 cups, so there’s plenty to share -- or not!

    eggnog4Eggnog Ingredients: makes 5 to 7 servings

    1 cup pecans

    ¾ cup medjool dates

    4 cups water

    1 tablespoon molasses

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth!

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    Optional: If you want the eggnog more thick and creamy, add ¼ to ⅓ cup cashew cream:

    -Soak about 1 cup of cashews overnight or for 6-8 hours.

    -Rinse thoroughly.

    -Blend in a high speed blender, adding just enough water to make a thick cream (think Greek yogurt consistency).

    -Refrigerate extra in an air-tight container. Keeps for about 5 days. You can also freeze it and thaw as needed.

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved.

  • Friendly Tips for your Pregnancy Journey

    Melissa Rycroft PregnancyIf it’s your first time to be pregnant, you may feel surprised by the enormous change and rate of change that your body, mind and hormones are going through. Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for years of maybe it happened by surprise or all of a sudden. Either way, it’s an enormous change to life as you have known it, even though it may be thrilling and exciting at the same time. Fortunately we have a good eight months (from the time we find out) to get used to the idea that we are adding a member to our household and to do all we can to make the necessary practical and emotional preparations to add a baby to the family.

    As a mom of three children in the maternity clothes business, I have talked to hundreds of moms over the years. There were a number of things that I wish someone told me when I was pregnant (each time!). Here are my learnings that are not meant to be judgmental or preachy, because you get enough of that when you are pregnant and as a mom, but just meant to help you along your path and to put in your back pocket for when you need the encouragement:

    First, don’t worry about everything being perfect. It’s admirable to strive high and create the perfect nursery and have your complete six months of clothing and gear ready to go for your child before it’s born. But apart from the bare necessities of a safe sleep area, diapers, blankets, sleepers and some onesies, you are going to be just fine. Remember there is online shopping when you do need that new nursing bra because the ones you bought during pregnancy don’t fit and you are too tired to leave the house. There is also diaper services if you opt for cloth diapers but don’t want to deal with cleaning them.  Fortunately for these hectic times in life we do live in a day and age when answers can be at our fingertips. However, don’t forget to let real live people help you too. Call on your neighbors, friends and any nearby family if you need them. Now is the time to cash in on any goodwill that people are willing to offer you, you do need it and deserve any help you can get and most people are happy to help out.

    Do make sure you do have a childcare arrangement in place before you hit the nine month mark. Fill out all the necessary paperwork for FMLA/maternity leave and inform managers and coworkers of your leave. Have a plan in place at work to cover for your absence and let people know your timeframe for leave, even if it is subject to change.  Whether it be an extended maternity leave or grandparents pitching in when you return to work, it does give you some peace of mind to have at least have a plan in place for the first few months for your baby’s care. It’s also stress relieving for yourself and those around you to have a clearly communicated leave plan so you don’t leave tasks hanging or yourself and others panicking the minute. This brings me to my next point and one that many women struggle with:

    There is no right or wrong answer to what you decide on with the BIG decisions of returning to work or staying at home with your child fulltime. It is a difficult decision and if you are not sure, then maybe opt for something in between – look to have a longer maternity leave if you can negotiate that or return part-time or set up a work at home arrangement or flexible work hours. Even with large corporations it often boils down to what you can work out with your manager and generally if you can bring it up a number of months in advance you will get a more favorable response than to spring it on them a few weeks before your maternity leave. Choosing a longer leave or a more flexible hour work week is often a good stepping stone before making a more definite fulltime work or fulltime stay at home decision. You may find something in between that is just perfect for you for a period of time. Although many people will have a lot of ideas on this subject, and it may be helpful to hear their ideas and personal experiences, it is ultimately your choice to make in harmony with your partner and your financial goals. Many fathers also take FMLA and extended leave for their newborns. Some Dads decide to stay at home or work out a more flexible work schedule. Explore your options fully and just go with the best decision for you and your family (and don’t worry about making the perfect decision). Do not let anyone guilt you about your decision to stay home or not stay home. They are both equally valid choices.

    There are many solutions to caring for your newborn from a fulltime nanny, daycare, grandparents pitching in or some combination of everything. If you are looking at caregivers it is a good idea to start interviewing in advance of your due date. If you are looking at daycare arrangement then embark on your tours of these facilities well in advance and go with your gut if you are not comfortable with a particular place or caregiver. Many daycare businesses have a waiting list, so it may be a good idea to get on the waiting list early, even if you find a better plan later an and drop off the list.  Remember you are allowed to change course at any time. No one is holding you to your decision and if they are, then they should not be as this decision is yours and your partner’s alone. You can be a good mother and work at the office, you can be a good mother and work at home, and you can be a good mother and stay at home with your child. There are good nannies and not so good nannies and some grandparents are excellent fulltime caretakers for their grandchildren while some do not have the energy, abilities or desire to take on this more involved role. You can navigate these steps and arrive at the best solution. Life is not perfect and it's not supposed to be - how boring would that be?!! We all do our best and our best is typically more than enough for the health and wellbeing of our baby, selves and family, even if it is not perfectly perfect. Children have turned out well with all varieties of paths for early caregiving.

    The next point of advice is the one that is often most ignored by both new and experienced moms. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. This advice extends to pregnancy. Now is a time when your body is under tremendous change. Every day you will probably notice something different about some part of your anatomy whether it be a tighter bra, a bigger belly, snugger shoes or a new food aversion or craving. The body you used to know so well is evolving into something totally alien that you are trying to understand anew each day, let alone dress! It’s difficult to even know what to eat! You may find your energy is a bit lower but then you may also find you have bursts of energy in your second trimester. Get used to tuning into your body and listening to what it tells you. What used to be normal is no longer normal when you are pregnant and that’s ok. Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a little slack. Go ahead and get that pregnancy massage and let your partner rub your feet at the end of the day. Buy some maternity clothes that are comfortable and make you feel pretty. Try to find time to take small naps when you are tired, even if it’s just on the weekend if you work. Do something nice for yourself each day, even if it’s something small.

    Although it is important to get your rest and scale back on activities when you feel tired, it is also helpful to take some form of physical exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block. It’s necessary to keep up your strength up during pregnancy and to maintain your health, blood sugar and to help with delivery (unless you are on bed rest of course).  Maintaining fitness will also help you bounce back that much easier after pregnancy and give you the energy to care for your baby (which can be a bit of marathon in the early weeks particularly if you are nursing around the clock).  In addition to the added benefit of helping you look good, exercise will help balance your serotonin levels and allow you to achieve a more positive mental outlook so that you feel happier, more joyful and peaceful as well as sleep better at night. Do be careful not to engage in any risky physical activities (remember your balance and stamina are not the same) and listen to your body at all times when you exercise so that you don’t overextend yourself or get dehydrated. Remember you are pregnant, so don’t try to break any records running marathons or playing tennis tournaments!

    Finally try and take some time out and smell the roses. This is a special time in life that you will always remember. Get some pretty photographs done while you enjoy your shape (sometimes we are so enormous in the last few months of pregnancy that we don’t want a camera anywhere around us!) Spend some time to bond with your partner and indulge in some date nights or a Babymoon if you can find the time, even if it’s something special nearby. You will always remember this special time together before you had your baby and the memories you created.

  • Happy Mother's Day!

    bouquet.jpg Photo by Angela Sadler

    Mother’s Day is around the corner this Sunday, May 11th. If you are pregnant with your first child, then you qualify as a mother! Let the celebrations begin! Mother’s Day is a day we Moms can all appreciate. It is a time when we think of our own mother as well as scramble to buy a card and appropriate gift her, our Mother-in-Laws and other “mother figures” in our lives.

    As a Mom of three, I know it’s easy to get lost in the craziness of this time in May with many school activities jam packed into schedules, Teacher Appreciation Weeks, School Performances and Open Houses, Dance and Music Performances, Art Shows and everything else nearly every day of the week and month, not to mention homework! These are the days I feel I need a personal assistant to tell me what to wear, where to go and to point me out the door – but that’s just the service we are providing for our children, right?!

    Although busyness and motherhood seem to always co-exist, with a healthy dash of craziness, Mother’s Day is a time when we Moms should pause, reflect and relax, even for a few hours (or moments) just to savor all that we have. We are blessed to be mothers and to be able to raise and nurture our children. We are one of the most influential people in our children’s lives who they look up to, even if it doesn’t always seem like it in the midst of a toddler meltdown at the grocery store or when hustling them in and out of car seats while juggling diaper bags and snacks. We will always be their mothers, even when they are grown up and maybe someday have families and children of their own.

    My kids get very excited about Mother’s Day and I know I should not take that for granted. They are very proud of their homemade cards and school craft Mother’s Day creations as well as any knick-knacks they may have picked up with their Dad at the store. Those homemade cut out glue-sticked cards and pictures are my favorite (I always promise to laminate them and maybe one day I will!)

    Mother’s Day is truly about being appreciated for all that we are in our children’s eyes (and our Partner’s eyes as a mother to our kids). It’s our time to be open to relaxing and receiving that love for a whole day (even a whole hour!) If you are pregnant, you are on your way to meeting your child very soon, so savor Mother’s Day (while it’s still quiet!) and maybe enjoy a kick in the tummy or a cute ultrasound picture of your baby. Sooner than you think you will have a pile of homemade cards to laminate someday!

  • Happy Valentines Day!

    Lovely-Valentine-Day-2014-Heart-3We all know Valentine’s Day is about love – all types of love – romantic love, friendship love, family love and basically showing love to everyone who deserves it (or not!) whether they be a teacher, friend or someone you would like to know more (aka secret admirer).

    It’s a fun day of chocolate and hearts, candy, cards and romance. However I’m sure there are plenty of moms of school age kids out there who may feel a little burnt out by Valentine’s Day as it can become a bit of an “event” to prepare for with countless kids’ classmate valentines cards to oversee (as your younger child may want to painstakingly write out each classmates name along with a nice message while they are still mastering their letter formation skills). You may need to buy supplies and treats for the class valentine exchange as well as gifts for teachers, coaches, music instructors, grandparents and anyone else you might know. There are children’s class parties to organize, provide for and attend and help run and all sorts of extra after school events and parties to provide and participate in. Of course you need to remember to have cleaned/located/checked for fit or bought a red and pink shirts/dress for your child to wear to school for the day as you don’t want to be scrambling in the morning for the right valentine attire. Then maybe, just maybe if you are lucky, or have any energy left to change hats you might have a date night with your partner where you can look red hot to celebrate the romantic side of this love holiday. Of course that is provided you can squeeze it into the calendar and find a chipper babysitter who is free and dateless.

    Yes, it’s easy to go to the dark side of Valentine’s Day, and not as in dark chocolate, but let’s focus on the love, candy and flowers part. Let’s embrace this holiday for all the goodnes and sweetness it has to offer and not worry about our kids getting a sugar high for a few days. Remember everyone will not find you out if you have not done everything perfectly. It’s OK if you child has misspelled their friend’s name on their valentine card, the mother of the child will not hold a grudge against you for life and probably won’t even notice. If you have forgotten chocolate or sweets for the teacher, give her a cute IOU note with a big heart on it and bring her a little something next week. I’m sure she will have enough chocolate to OD on over the weekend!

    Cut yourself some slack on this holiday, so you can express the love it is really all about. Your kids will not know if you forgot to wash their red shirts and if they are a little crumpled that morning (they will most likely get candy and chocolate stains on it later). As long as there is a splash of pink or red or a heart, peace or love sign somewhere to be found on their clothing or accessories, it will do the trick. How about a bright red headband, scarf or red socks? Or last case scenario, grab a red sharpie and draw hearts on tee shirt. There’s always a way to improvise!

    So, you might wonder, where did this extra work come from? Apparently it’s been going on for a while. Americans began exchanging handmade Valentines cards in the early 1700s. Then in 1840 Ester A. Howland, a savvy Martha Stewart type entrepreneur, began selling the first mass produced valentine cards in America. Creative challenged types clamored to buy her pretty valentine cards which were elaborate with ribbons and colorful pictures on them known as “scrap.” Soon the valentine card industry soon took off and Howland was known as the “Mother of the Valentine.” Now Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular card-sending holidays of the year, second only to Christmas, with over 150 million valentines exchanged yearly. Interestingly women purchase 85% of these cards -I’m not sure if that is because we are more giving and expressive and simply enjoy the holiday more or if we are too tired to scrap together our own original creation. I’m guessing a lot of the buying our "85%" do is really done for kids and family members and all the classmates and teachers our kids give valentine cards and treats to. So, for all intent and purposes it has become the mom’s event to manage and participate in.

    The good news is if we want to be true to the Valentine tradition the entire month of February has long been celebrated as a month of romance. I think spreading it out is a better approach to Valentines as it takes the pressure off “the V-Day” itself. If you and your partner choose to celebrate another day in the month other than February 14th, even the last day in the month (just make sure it isn’t a Leap Year date but actually exists on the calendar), then that is perfectly fine. You can even have a different “family day” that you celebrate valentines with your kids other than their “class day” to deflate the pressure even more. Although for some, spreading out the love may bring more pain than joy. In short, you call the shots and do what’s best for you, just know there are options. I personally think Valentine’s Day should work around the Mom of the family, even if we have to find another patron Saint to affect this shift.

    So be sure to drink up the love, alcohol free preferably if you are pregnant, and find some sweetness or indulgence whether it be chocolate, a manicure or a pregnancy massage at the spa. Remember you have the entire month of February to honor this tradition!

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