Nessas Loves – Mommy, Baby, Home

This is a long time coming, but as promised, here’s the mommy, baby, and home edition of Nessa’s Loves.  Enjoy!

Mommy & toddler loves

MOMMY/TODDLER

Disposable Placemats – I previously talked about it in my baby’s first year must haves post.  My sister in law even grabbed some for my nephew (who is a couple of months younger than Eva).  They’re just convenient for a toddler who is learning how to feed themself and easy for clean up.  Plus it keeps eating in public restaurants for the little ones somewhat sanitary.  Side notes:  If you’re going to Chick-fil-a, they have these in stock for the little ones.  At some locations you have to ask for it.  At other locations they’re in the same area as the napkins and condiments.  Random mom tip.  😉

Organic Baby/Toddler Snacks – I can be a bit crazy when it comes to Eva’s food (I’m sure the teacher’s at her daycare think I’m crazy).  When she started eating, I started buying organic dairy products, some meats, and fruits and veggies (trying to follow the dirty dozen rule to save some money).  I will stand in food aisles and read labels for several minutes to make sure what I’m purchasing is good for her to eat.  Not too salty.  Not too sweet.  I try to stay away for artificial flavoring.  When she was first starting to eat, I only gave her homemade baby snacks or organic baby snacks.  Now that she’s older, we give her a mix between toddler friendly (of course reading the labels to make sure there’s not too much sugar or salt) and adults snacks (yes, she can have that cookie if she’s good).  Everything in moderation.  We keep her own set of snacks in a drawer of the kitchen (which she constantly runs to when she’s hungry).  Some of which are Ella’s Kitchen, such as Puffits or Nibbly Fingers (which are strawberry and apple granola bars), or Earth’s Best, such as the Sesame Street crackers, cookies, and graham crackers, or graham crackers, or Plum Organic Teensy Fruit Berries.

Toy chest – Eva originally had a crate that her former Nanny made her.  Of course, she outgrew the crate and her toys were spilling out of it (she has way too many stuffed animals), so we bit the bullet and bought a toy chest/bin.  Originally I wanted a bookshelf and toychest in one; however, after much researching we decided on this.  I’m not a huge fan that everything is out in the open, but it makes it so much easier for Eva to see all of her toys and grab them to play plus all the toys get equal playing time.  Of course, she still has her favorites.

FOOD/HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

Blendtec blender – This is my splurge item.  After making so many smoothies in the Magic Bullet and replacing the rotar multiple times, I decided it was worth it to purchase a nice high quality blender.  We have a Cuisinart blender and it works well, but I wasn’t satisfied that it left my smoothies chunky and at times leaving some fruit whole (ARGH!).  I was going to take the Vitamix blender my parents purchased several years back, but I saw a deal for a refurbished Blendtec blender during Black Friday that I couldn’t pass up.  I have been LOVING IT.  It makes my smoothies sooooooooo much smoother, almost juice like.  I’m OBSESSED with it.  I make green smoothies or regular fruit smoothies or fruit smoothie bowls almost everyday with this thing.  I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth.

Green Smoothies/Smoothies/Smoothie Bowls – Last year I went on a green smoothie kick and I’m still loving them, especially after I bought my Blendtec blender.  It’s such a great way to get both fruit and vegetables into your body.  Eva loves them too.  She’s been drinking green smoothies/smoothies since she was 1, so she’s gotten used to the semi-grassy taste (which I try to mask with bananas or lemons or other fruit when possible).  Side note:  Eva doesn’t drink anything but water, milk or mommy’s smoothies.  She doesn’t know what fruit juices/boxes taste like, so she’s not familiar with the taste.   Salad in a cup or multivitamins in liquid form.  I’m still experimenting with several recipes and hope to post a couple here soon.  Smoothie Bowls are my new obsession and addition to my breakfast menu.  I follow a ton of healthy food/fit instragrammers and saw that some of them were doing smoothie bowls.  It’s thicker than a regular smoothie and can sometimes be sorbet like.  Top with some granola or fruit and you’re good to go!  I’m still experimenting but I’ll be sure to post those recipes soon as well.  

Acai bowl topped with banana, strawberry, and granola

Aladdin mason jars – So they’re not real mason jars.  They’re insulated tumblers.  They’re large enough to put my smoothies into.  They’re definitely not travel friendly as they’re wide but when I’m at home they’re perfect.  I am able to pour most of my smoothie in one cup and any extras go into Eva’s Take and Toss cups.

LifeFactor water bottle – I’m in LOVE with a glass water bottle as I HATE how plastic water bottles give somewhat of an after taste (even the BPA water bottles).  I liked the metal water bottles, but I have yet to find a bottle brush that can really clean the bottle.  I previously broke my other glass water bottle, so when I saw that this water bottle had a rubber case, I had to get it.  During work days, I use this to store my green smoothies and run out the door.  When I’m done, I rinse it out and place water into it for the day.

Fruit infused water bottles.  Let’s face it.  Drinking water isn’t always fun, so infusing your water with fruit is a nice refreshing change.  I take this water bottle with me to work every other day.  Combinations I like to put into the infuser:  lemon and strawberry or raspberry, strawberry and basil, mint cucumber and lime, lime, and lemon.  I’ve even made Dr. Oz’s fat flush water using this water bottle.  The best thing about it, no added sugars to your beverage!

Life…

As usual, I went on a semi-blogging spree and then MIA for months.  What have I been doing?  Not much.  Trying to get use to my family’s daily routine with me working out of the house (for 7 months now!) and Eva going to daycare (since February!).  Here’s my daily routine as of lately.

6am  – wake up and work out ((This just started three weeks ago, so this is still a work in progress. I try to workout 3-4 times a week, at minimum, either at the gym to run or in our living room with the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD.  When I wasn’t working out I’d wake up between 6:30 – 7:00.  )
6:45am – eat a light post workout meal (usually greek yogurt w honey or a banana)
7am – hop into the shower and get ready
7:15am – wake up Eva if she hasn’t woken up on her own
7:30 – 7:45am – head downstairs and make myself a green smoothie and coffee, feed Eva breakfast, put everyone’s lunches (made the night before) into bags
7:45 – 8:15am – head out the door and drop Eva to school
8:45ish – 9am  – work
5:30pm – head home and start dinner
6:00pm – if I didn’t work out in the morning this is when I try to squeeze in a session.  The hubs goes to the gym at this time, so if I do workout it’s in our living room with Jillian Michaels and Eva running around trying to copy me (It’s quite entertaining but it can be a bit difficult because she tries to ride me like a horse when I’m doing pushups!).  At this time I may be making dinner while working out (multitasking mama).  It’s usually something that doesn’t require too many steps..
6:30ish – 7pm – dinner
7:30pm – play with Eva
8:00pm – bathtime, storytime, bedtime
9:00pm – hangout with the hubs
10:30pm – make lunches for everyone, snacks and breakfast for Eva and myself
11:30pm – go to bed

This varies day to day but this is pretty much the jist.  There are days where the hubs will drop off Eva and I’ll pick her up from school, sometimes both.  Especially if I have an early work meeting or need to stay later than usual and vice vera for him.  But usually I do drop offs and he does pick ups.

Working out.  The post breastfeeding weight has piled on with a vengance.  Hello GUT and jiggly thighs.  It was a struggle trying to find the time to work out when I started my job.  I really didn’t want to get up early given that I go to bed late and working out after work is difficult because I have to make dinner.  But let’s get real these are all excuses.  I finally bit the bullet and started waking up early to work out.  It’s still a work in progress (I even slept in today!  But I’ll work out later this evening or tomorrow).  Baby steps.  Like I said earlier my goal is a minimum of 3 times a week and if I get to work out more than that, even better.  I won’t lie, sometimes I just want to give up because I don’t see results right away, but I won’t!  I’m trying to strengthen to tone certain areas and build my endurance to keep up with Eva (man, that kid is fast when she runs).

Prior to working out everyday I did the color run a couple of months ago in an attempt to get fit.

Meal Prep.  The hubs and I eat salads for lunch, so I try to pre-chop everything on Sunday or Monday night.  When I first started my job in October, I pre-chopped everything (for lunch and dinner) for the entire week on Sundays (anywhere from 1-2 hours), but then I lost some quality weekend time with the family.

Pre-chopped veggies for salads.  Any leftovers (minus the cucumbers) are used for stir fry at the end of the week.  The leftover cucumbers and sometimes carrots are used for smoothies.  

I was also pre-cooking some of our meals on Sunday (another 1-2 hours) to ease the dinner making process during the week, but it got exhausting.

Prepping bacon bits and hard-boiled egg for lunch salads and Filipino soup for dinner.

For the past two months, I stopped prepping so extensively (I still pre-cut veggies most weeks but don’t prep dinner at the beginning of the week anymore).  I planning to do it again (just not as intense) because I’d like Eva to have dinner earlier than we are now (no later than 6:30 as opposed to 7) and spend more free time with her and the hubs in the evening.  Lunches are relatively easy but depending on how much I’ve prepped and how tired I am, it can be an exhausting task.  I can do it as quickly as 20 minutes to as long as an hour.  BUT I don’t mind it because 1) we’re eating relatively healthy food (Salads for hubs and myself as I mentioned early; Fruit as a snack for me; 2 fruits for Eva’s snack and 1 treatish snack, which are toddler puffs, crackers, or cookies; Eva’s lunch, which is usually leftovers)  2) we save money and 3) I’m taking care of my family.

Hubs salad.  I pack salads with the heavy items on the bottom and the greens on the top so they don’t wilt as quickly.  

Top row (L-R):  My overnight oats; ingredients for my green smoothie
Middle row (L-R):  Fruit as a snack for Eva (she has the two middle containers) & myself
Bottom row (L-R):  Hubs’ salad; Fried Rice for Eva’s lunch; Curry veggie & tofu quinoa salad for myself

There are days when I plop on the couch after putting Eva to bed and pass out for the rest of the night. On those days, I try to quickly whip up lunches the next morning.

There are days where I’m burnt out and all I want to do is relax, hence the reason of lack of posting.  I do think about opening my laptop and posting but I get caught up sitting on the couch with the hubs watching shows together, prepping meals, spending time with Eva, or if I’m lucky going to sleep early.  I’m going to try to find the time.  I really do love writing.

I’d like to add that this blog is going to shift to more of a mommy blog (even though it’s been like this for some time, I guess I want to make it official because I didn’t want to say I had a mommy blog before).  I’ll still talk about fashion and food, but perhaps more mommy and me or baby girl’s fashion and quick and healthy family meals (as much as I love it, I don’t have time to make time consuming meals, like Julia Child’s boeuf bourginion, anymore).  I hope you continue join this journey with me.

Happy Friday.

 

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Since the fall, I have been in LOVE LOVE LOVE with brussels sprouts.  I was like the masses and was intimidated by the vegetable.  You have the horrid 60’s or 70’s image of the mushy bitter smelly vegetable.  For some reason, my conception of brussels sprouts before were based on reruns of Leave it to Beaver (which I’d watch with my mom when I was younger).

But within the last 2-3 years, it’s been a bit of a trendy vegetable, much like kale.  So last fall, when they were selling some at Trader Joe’s, I put it in my basket to try it out.  Of course, I cooked it the way I do most vegetables that I’m trying out for the first time, simply roasting them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  AMAZING!  Why hadn’t I tried this before (Oh yeah!  Brussels sprouts are pretty foreign to asians, so my mom didn’t add them to our dinners growing up.)?  I even got my mom and sister hooked.  Even my sister’s boyfriend gave them a whirl when I made them for Thanksgiving.  He was quite pleased with the results.  He never had brussels sprouts before because his mom hated them as a child.  Next I tried adding balsamic vinegar or mustard vinaigrette or parmesan cheese (but cheese makes everything butter so that was a no brainer).  Still delicious.  I made them into chips, similar to Kale chips.  I roasted them as well as fried them.  Such a tasty snack.  Then I thought about trying it raw.  A couple of bloggers were sharing their recipes for shaved brussels sprout salad, so I figured I’d try it.  It was DELICIOUS.  It’s almost like a slaw and this southern girl LOVES her slaw.

For this recipe, I added avocado for creaminess and mustard and vinegar for tang.  I also added quinoa for some protein (plus I had some that I needed to use up).  I wish I had a bowl right now to gobble up.  Minus the shaving or thinly cutting of the brussels sprouts, this recipe is SO easy to make!

Note:  I don’t give exact measurements for this recipe, as I made the salad for one.  Plus I make my dressings more on the low fat side (more vinegar than oil) than others.  But as a general rule of thumb when making vinaigrettes,  its 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  The mustard is for creaminess, extra tang, and to help emulsify the dressing.  TheKtchn has a great guide on how to make your own vinaigrette at home.  I’m a huge fan of making your own dressing because 1) you have the ingredients at home 2) it’s much much much healthier (can’t stress this enough) for you because you know exactly the quality of the ingredients and fat content of what you’re putting into your food.  

SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD

INGREDIENTS

Brussels sprouts, shaved or thinly sliced
Avocados
Cranberries (optional)
Almonds (optional)
Quinoa (optional)
Dijon Mustard
Vinegar
Olive oil
Sugar
Salt and Pepper, for seasoning

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor or bowl, take your avocado, mustard, vinegar and olive oil and mix the ingredients together.  If you don’t have a food processor and are using a bowl, you’ll want to mash the avocado to smooth creamy consistency before adding the other ingredients.  When it is a smooth texture, add a small amount of sugar to balance out the tang of the vinegar and mustard.  Then season with salt and pepper to your liking.  If needed, add more of an ingredient to your liking.

In a bowl, place the brussels sprouts, cranberries, almonds, and quinoa.  If you’d like more avocado, cube some up and add it to the mixture at this time (p.s. I’m so excited for avocado season!!!  So happy Eva loves it as much as me!).  Then add the dressing and gently toss to combine all the ingredients together.

What vegetables have you tried and loved as an adult, but received a bad rap or didn’t like it as a child?  I love trying new vegetables and fruits, especially since the farmers market is opening soon.  Comment below about what non-typical vegetables or fruits you’re a fan of, how you prepare it, etc.  I’d love to try it!