Diets & Weight Loss // Category

Category based archive
16 Jan

The last time I wrote, James was just 7 months old—an eon ago! He’s a different kid! A sweet, funny, affectionate little boy who talks and walks and sleeps ON HIS OWN. (I said ON HIS OWN!) He’s always smiling, always making us laugh, and always on the move. He continues to be the greatest joy of my life, my whole world, and that’s putting it lightly.

My mom (Nana) and James

Below I’ve got details on the milestones and memories we made over the last 9 or so months but here’s the most meaningful change that’s happened to us since I last wrote:

In late October, my mom transitioned out of the job she’d had for 20 years (spoiler: no, she’s not retiring—we wish!) and it was the first time in my entire life that she wasn’t working 60 hours a week, the very first time I’d ever seen her home for more than 1 week. It was the best thing that could have happened to Daniel, James, and me, because as fate would have it, I miscarried that same week and I needed help more than ever. James has spent so much time with her since, which has been so helpful and so, so special. She cherishes him. He’s crazy about her. Together, they’re the cutest duo I’ve ever seen 🙂

Here’s a glance at how the past 9 months have gone:

Months 7-9

Back in May I bought an inflatable pool for $10 at Target, set it in the backyard, and James and I started “swimming” in it all the time. We got so much use out of that cheap little pool. James squealed with joy when I’d squirt the hose against the side of the pool and he never ever seemed to mind how absolutely icy the water was (can’t say the same for me).

At 9 months, he started saying “hi!” and “hi dad!” and waving to everyone and everything he came across—even store mannequins. Daniel and I lived for the way he put his whole arm into the wave and how he really nailed that last “d” in DAD.

Swim Lessons!

In June, we started swim lessons at the YMCA nearby. James was the oldest in the class by a month or two, the only boy, and seemed to enjoy it right away. He didn’t even seem to mind when I dunked him on day one.

Another major development at 9 months: James cut down to 2 naps a day and began sleeping on his own. It was a hard won milestone and certainly as hard for us as it was for him. Once I realized it might be the end of the days of holding him, I was the one crying like a baby.

Months 10-12

In September, James turned 1! Our family and friends came over for a nautical-theme birthday party, a decision I made because he loves the water so very much. We had pizza, pasta, and apps galore, all from Primavera, our favorite restaurant and the place where I had my baby shower, bridal shower, and a party to celebrate publishing my memoir. The cake was precious—a white cake with white frosting from White’s Bakery—covered in blue fondant with a whale and a life raft on top.

When we sang “Happy Birthday” to him, we set a smash cake in front of him (a cute mini version of the big cake) and he just kind of sat there, stunned and unsure of what to do. He smiled and clapped but, despite all of our attempts, he didn’t want any part of that cake. Ha!

Meeting my bff’s daughter!

My best friend Sabrina and her husband came in for the party, all the way from New Jersey, and it made the day all the more special. James got to meet their beautiful baby girl, Violet, too! They held hands immediately, and later James tried to hug and kiss her half a dozen times (what are boundaries again?).

Our little lion on Halloween!
We didn’t realize it until after taking this picture, but he actually broke through that wrapper 🙂

James loves to roar like a lion (or a dinosaur depending on which book we’re reading) so that’s what he was for Halloween. We took him trick-or-treating at my parents’ house and over to our neighbors’ house across the street.

Speaking of roaring, he also enjoys mooing like a cow and gets a big kick out of saying “hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha” like a monkey.

Months 13-16

At 13 months, James started talking up a STORM. It started with mama, dada, hi, bye bye, book, belly, hug, kiss, milk…and by 15 months he was picking up a few new words every day: cheese, bagel, water, hummus, cracker, binkie, good girl (to DeeDee the pug), deer, and so much more. He strings together a few sentences, too, like, “No dada! Hug!” when he doesn’t want Daniel to put him down in his crib.

He has the best time playing “Where’s James?,” our form of peek-a-boo, where he puts his hands on his head, we ask “where’s James?” and begin looking around to find him, then he takes his hands off of his head and we shout, “There he is!” and he smiles and laughs.

Squishing my belly

Another favorite activity? Lifting Daniel’s and my shirts to see our bellies. He pokes our belly buttons, squishes the soft spots, and laughs like it’s the funniest thing ever.

Christmas morning!

For Christmas we got him a play kitchen with a gazillion pieces of toy food (why did I do that again?) and he has been playing with it nonstop ever since. Hopefully he’ll start cooking dinner for us soon 🙂

Aaaand he’s walking! He took his first steps around 12 months but continued crawling most of the time because it was faster and more efficient for him. But now! Now we’ve got a tiny drunk guy barreling through the house. Heaven help us.


Credit: Source link

07 Jan

Meditate.

I might as well copy and paste this goal on all my future New Year’s resolutions lists because it’s been a goal for years and let’s be honest, it’s a lifetime project. Mindfulness isn’t something I can achieve, or a state in which I’ll magically arrive; it’s a practice. A daily one. An hourly one. A minute-by-minute, second-by-second one. I must remember this: when I think it’s too hard or my mind is just too scattered or I don’t have time, that’s when I need it most.

Read more.

Books are food for the soul, but similar to my on-again/off-again relationship with compulsive eating, I’m either reading constantly or not reading at all (except for the articles I read on my phone). This year I’d like to carve out time each day and week to read a book because I enjoy it. And hey, they say if you want to become a better writer you should read more, so there’s that, too.

2020 resolutions2020 resolutions

Get better sleep.

I might be in my bed for 7-8 hours most nights, but considering that I wake up exhausted every morning, I don’t know how restful or restorative it really is. For one, I wake up between 3 and 6 times to pee, which is just as crazy as it is infuriating. I’m going to try to cut off liquid a few hours before bed…maybe at 6:30 or 7 and see if that helps. I’m also going to try to wean off of Unisom. During my pregnancy with James I started taking Unisom (along with vitamin b6) to help with nausea. I don’t know if it helped with the nausea, but it did help me sleep—so much that I have kept on taking it every night for the past two years…yikes. Maybe I’ll never solve sleep, but I can improve it I’m sure.

Be accepting of the time I spend organizing, sorting, decluttering…

All of these things sound productive, yes, but they’re not always the most productive way I could be spending my time. And trust me, I have spent years reprimanding myself for doing my little tidying jobs when I could or should be writing. “Stop procrastinating!” I’d scream at myself. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that the time I spend cleaning/organizing is also when I feel the most “flow,” and the most peace internally. So I have to ask myself—of all the things I do that aren’t exactly “good” for me, is it so bad that I just love house projects? I’m certain someone could argue YES (heck I’ve taken that stance for years!) and it’s only left me feeling guilty and down on myself, so this year I’ll try taking the other side of the argument, that maybe I should allow for—and even nurture—the “unproductive” things I do that make me feel at peace and in order.

What do you resolve to do in 2020?

Credit: Source link

06 Jan

Two months ago I had a miscarriage. I was 11 weeks along, just days from telling you, when I started bleeding. It was very light spotting at first—the slightest tint of pink. I was scared, but then again I’d heard that spotting can be a part of normal, healthy pregnancy, so I tried not to panic. I called my doctor and went to an appointment that day. The NP didn’t seem concerned and said light spotting in the first trimester isn’t too unusual. She wanted to give me a shot of RhoGam (crucial when you have a negative blood type like I do) and do an ultrasound to make sure, but they weren’t sure if they could fit me in and since it was Friday, I’d have to wait until Monday. The spotting seemed to stop after the appointment so I was feeling less worried. But on Sunday, it returned and was a bit heavier, more like light bleeding. On Monday, I had the ultrasound and right away the woman said the fetus looks smaller than 11 weeks and then confirmed there was no heartbeat. I was devastated. Lying there on the table as she finished the exam I just kept thinking about the future I had imagined. I loved the idea of having another baby, and so soon. I pictured James growing up with such a close sibling. I loved how it gave us some flexibility in thinking about whether we wanted to have more than two children. I was excited to do the baby stage again even though I knew it’d be tough. I was grieving for my sweet baby but also trying to make peace with a future that wouldn’t happen as I planned.

one week before miscarriage

We talked about the options. The doctor felt like I probably didn’t need surgery and prescribed cytotec and sent us home. On the way out of the office, I went to the bathroom and was bleeding worse. Daniel said that it was like my body was holding onto the baby until I knew for sure it wasn’t alive. Over the next few hours the bleeding became so severe that I had to go to the emergency room. I bled through three pairs of underwear, three pairs of pants, a dozen pads, all over the stairs and the bathroom. The bathroom in our bedroom is all white—white tile, white walls—and by the time Daniel came upstairs to check on me it was like a crime scene. I was faint. We drove to the emergency room. I was bleeding constantly, through the thickest, doubled-up pads, down my legs as we checked in, releasing these massive, grapefruit-sized clots that made me woozy. As it turns out, I was hemorrhaging, so badly that I lost consciousness. The on-call OB was able to give me something through my IV that slowed the bleeding. A nurse, the kindest, most gentle angel, washed me down, changed my johnny, put a diaper on me, and I remember lying there, unable to help her at all, thanking her over and over, turning my head while I tried stifling a sob at all her grace when I had none.

Hours later, I was able to go home, with meds to finish the process.

waiting to go home

All of it left me heartbroken, in a darker place than I ever could have imagined. I’ve had depression for decades and yet this wave of it hit me like something new, and worse. As much as I could recognize that yes, of course, it made sense that I was feeling sad—I lost my baby—I have to believe that a lot of the darkness was hormonal because it wasn’t just grief. It was joylessness and anxiety and intense fear that I’d never feel any different than I did then. I tried, over and over every day that followed, to “let myself be sad” like everyone in my life rightly told me to, but inside I was screaming, I can’t! I can’t be here with this feeling for even a second longer! It felt impossible to sit with my pain because that pain felt like fire all around me, urging me to get up, get out.

I talked to Daniel about how bad I was feeling, probably a hundred times a day. I talked to my mom, my sister-in-law, my best friend. It helped in the moment, but it’s always very hard for me to reveal whatever pain I’m in. I wish it wasn’t, but I guess to me it feels like I’m laying this massive problem before my loved one. The codependent in me can’t just leave them with it, unsolved and somehow burdened, so I work overtime trying to show them—prove to them—that I’ll be fine, that I see all the logical, rational ways I could reason my way out of it. I don’t feel this with Daniel, but with everyone else I do. And I guess the reason is, I just don’t believe that anyone can fix me when I’m broken down (a flawed belief, but still).

Maybe during the first week after my miscarriage it was easier for me to be kind to myself, understanding that I was processing a loss, but that justifiable understanding was quick to leave. I hated that I couldn’t pull myself out of this pit of despair I’d fallen into. I thought often about all the thousands—millions!—of women who’d suffered far, far more traumatic and heart-shattering losses, which was less a way of shaming myself and more an attempt to find peace in perspective.

I should mention—I don’t have a way to button up this post. I haven’t felt right since, even though there have been many, many moments of joy and fun and excitement. I still feel as though I’ve lost that baseline contentment I had before miscarrying. The only thing that has helped or healed is…time. Of course. Time is so good like that, isn’t it, buffing all the sharp sides of pain to softer nubs that you can at least hold in your hands without cutting yourself.

I don’t have a lesson or a point, really, just more compassion, understanding, and space in my heart for all the women who wish their babies were here.

Credit: Source link

04 Jan

Break out your cast iron skillet and make these delicious pan seared lamb loin chops with beautiful crusts and juicy centers. Deglaze the pan with dry red wine and whisk together a quick red wine pan sauce with aromatics like garlic and shallot and fragrant, piney rosemary and thyme. To finish, serve the dish with a handful of rich and fruity kalamata olives.

This post is sponsored by Superior Farms American Lamb.

I have a dozen or so classic recipes I make for each season, year after year. But I try to balance those old favorites with new ones, because what’s the fun in making the same things over and over? One way I do it is by swapping in new ingredients. This season, instead of making beef for all of our big winter dinners, I’ve begun to love cooking with lamb (I made Greek lamb meatballs last night!). I love the cozy simplicity of these seared lamb loin chops with red wine and rosemary. They’re quick enough for a weeknight and yet special enough to serve friends.

If you aren’t used to cooking lamb, I promise it isn’t difficult at all. In fact, it’s not much different than cooking beef, but the flavor is really something special. I particularly like lamb loin chops, which I used in this recipe, because they’re easy to find in most grocery stores or butcher shops and easy to prepare, while still being tender and delicious. Plus, lamb is a delicious and nutritious alternative to chicken and beef. It’s a lean, red meat with nearly five times the essential omega-3 fatty acids and alpha linoleic acid of a serving of beef.

Lamb Chops with Red Wine and RosemaryLamb Chops with Red Wine and Rosemary

For this recipe, I give the chops a simple seasoning of salt and pepper to add a bit of flavor without masking the taste of the lamb itself. Then, I sear them in a heavy cast iron pan for about 4 minutes per side—just enough time to create a beautiful crust while keeping the centers of our chops juicy. Because the cooking time is so short, it’s important to get the cast iron screaming hot before adding the chops.

And to complement the sweet and mild flavor of the lamb, a little red wine adds richness and depth. I deglaze the pan and whisk together a quick red wine pan sauce with aromatics like garlic and shallot and fragrant, piney rosemary and thyme. For sauces like this, I always use a dry red wine like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. A good rule of thumb when choosing a wine to cook with: if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it 🙂 To finish, I like to serve the dish with a handful of rich and fruity kalamata olives.

The lamb loin chops that I used here are produced by Superior Farms American Lamb, the leading purveyor of ranch to table American lamb. They partner with family farmers and ranchers across the U.S. who raise their lamb naturally, kindly, and sustainably. I always respect and appreciate brands that dedicate themselves to the well-being and care of their animals and Superior Farms believes good things come from putting the flock first.

If you are looking for something new for your regular dinner rotation, or looking for the perfect recipe for guests this winter, give lamb a try. It’s a delicious and versatile red meat that can be served on more than just special occasions!

Lamb Chops with Red Wine and Rosemary

Break out your cast iron skillet and make these delicious pan seared lamb loin chops with beautiful crusts and juicy centers. Deglaze the pan with dry red wine and whisk together a quick red wine pan sauce with aromatics like garlic and shallot and fragrant, piney rosemary and thyme.

Prep Time5 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time30 mins

Servings: 4

Calories: 418kcal

Author: Andie Mitchell

  • 8 lamb loin chops each about 1-inch-thick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dry red wine (I like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot)
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp butter
  • kalamata olives pitted, optional
  • Season the lamb chops all over with salt and pepper.

  • Place a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F (the pan will preheat as well).

  • In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat until very hot. Add half of the lamb chops and cook until a well-browned crust forms, 4 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chops to the baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and cook the remaining chops (4 minutes per side); transfer to the oven with the rest of the chops to keep warm while you make the sauce.

  • Lower the heat under your cast iron skillet to medium-high; add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the wine, chicken broth, rosemary and thyme; bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up the crispy bits on the bottom of the pan, and then simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.

  • Remove the chops from the oven, transfer to a platter, and pour sauce over them. Serve immediately, with kalamata olives, if desired.

Credit: Source link

17 Dec

I absolutely love the holiday season. I am the person who starts pulling out the Christmas decorations the day after Halloween. There is a house in our neighborhood that leaves Christmas lights up year round and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. But as much as I love the season, I inevitably get stressed out. A Christmas-related freak out is as much a tradition in my house as making cookies for Santa. There are some things I’ve learned over the years that help reduce holiday stress. 

Gifting Stress

Gifts are supposed to be a wonderful expression of friendship, community, love, or appreciation. And yet they can cause an awful lot of anxiety. It can be hard finding the right gift and if you have a lot of people in your life, it can get expensive. Some good tips I have learned are:

Don’t put too much effort into finding the “perfect” gift. Especially for lower priority gifts like things you get for a coworker, mailman, or your kid’s teacher. This is why gift cards exist. Or you can always go with a consumable that most people like. Focus your attention of the more important relationships where you can pick out something a little more unique and meaningful. 

James and his first presentJames and his first present

If you don’t want to break the bank, homemade gifts are almost always acceptable and appreciated. I have gotten the most compliments after giving away packages of homemade holiday treats. This is an especially good gift because you can spend a Sunday making huge batches of treats. Then buy some cheap tupperware or cookie tins, dress them up with parchment paper inside and ribbons outside and you can put together gifts for most of the people on your list. 

Receiving gifts can also cause anxiety. I get uncomfortable opening gifts in front of everyone. I feel pressure to give the person the reaction they want and also I always feel bad when someone spends their time and money on me. I like to remember that people who give gifts do so because it makes them happy to show their appreciation for other people. So I make sure to open the gift, show it to the room if others are around, and give the person a sincere thank you. If it’s particularly special, I will follow with a note. But generally if both people exchange gifts, I don’t think thank you notes are needed. 

Learn to Say No

You don’t have to go to your second cousin’s company Christmas party just because she asked. You don’t have to choreograph your niece’s preschool holiday pageant. Be realistic about your holiday obligations and don’t commit to more than you are comfortable doing. 

Expectations 

Let go of the idea of the perfect holiday moments. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie. Daniel and I spent about 10 minutes trying to get a photo with James on Thanksgiving where we were all looking in the general direction of the camera. At some point, I started to get frustrated but then just remembered how silly it was trying to get a 14 month old to pose for a picture. I look back at the terrible photos now and it is still a happy memory. Try not to cling to expectations about how everything is supposed to go. Just enjoy the time you have with the people you love. Try your best to have happy holidays.

Credit: Source link

16 Dec

This hearty baked oatmeal recipe is topped with an irresistible ooey-gooey pecan pie topping, making it the perfect holiday breakfast recipe to make for overnight guests or bring to brunch! (260 cals or 8 WW points)

This post is sponsored by American Pecans.

During the rush of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that not every meal can consist of cookies, pies, and gingerbread houses. We need real, substantial meals to get us through the baking marathons, the gift shopping and wrapping, the parties (and party prep), and all the little to-dos that pop up along the way. This pecan pie baked oatmeal is just that: a whole-grain breakfast with fiber and protein you need to keep your energy up and your holiday spirit flowing through New Year’s. Bonus: it’s also completely irresistible, thanks to an ooey gooey pecan pie topping.

Pecan Pie Baked OatmealPecan Pie Baked Oatmeal

Pecan Pie Topping for Oatmeal

This pecan pie topping is sweet, nutty, and rich, with deep caramel flavor. To make it, you’ll need just 5 minutes and 4 everyday ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Light brown sugar
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Pecans
homemade pecan pie topping homemade pecan pie topping

Combine the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a bubble, then stir in the pecans and cook until glossy and thick. Yes, you bet it’s rich, but it’s also surprisingly nutritious because of the abundance of pecans. The mix of fiber, protein, flavonoids, and essential minerals, including 60% Daily Value of Manganese and 35% Daily Value of Copper, all work together to make American Pecans a superfood. And because they have a naturally balanced sweet and savory flavor, they’re versatile enough to work in almost any recipe, any time of year.

basic baked oatmeal recipebasic baked oatmeal recipe

How to Make Baked Oatmeal

The baked oatmeal itself is simple, satisfying, and completely nutritious, made without any added sugar (that’s where the pecan pie topping comes in!) and 7 good-for-you ingredients:

  • Old fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • Unsweetened almond milk (any dairy milk or milk alternative will work!)
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt
ingredients for baked oatmeal ingredients for baked oatmeal

It’s thick, hearty, and creamy, with a hint of warmth and natural sweetness from the vanilla and cinnamon—the perfect wholesome base for any number of toppings.

Pecan Pie Baked OatmealPecan Pie Baked Oatmeal

Pecan Pie Baked Oatmeal

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time35 mins

Course: Breakfast, Brunch

Servings: 8

Calories: 254kcal

Author: Andie Mitchell

Baked Oatmeal

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Pecan Pie Topping

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and mix well.

  • Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. (It will go back in the oven with the topping).

  • While the oatmeal is baking during that first 15 minutes, prepare the pecan pie topping. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent the mixture from burning. Once it has thickened (after about 1 minute), stir in the pecans. Remove the pan from heat.

  • Remove the oatmeal from the oven (after the 10 minutes), spread the pecan mixture over the top, and return to the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed, and the center is set.

  • Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving alongside milk or yogurt. You can serve it warm or at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

Credit: Source link

04 Dec

Make the holiday’s best, most festive dessert with this cool and creamy peppermint cheesecake! It sits on top of a chocolate cookie crust, studded with crushed peppermint candy and smooth white chocolate, with a wintery cover of whipped cream.

This post is sponsored by Hood.

Cheesecake is always a hit for holiday parties, but it becomes even more festive and special when you introduce creamy, cozy white chocolate and wintery peppermint. Peppermint extract infuses the cheesecake with just the right amount of mintiness to offset the tangy cream cheese and keep the whole cake tasting cool and fresh. Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies add a sparkly red and white crunch throughout.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

To make the cheesecake filling, you’ll need all the usual ingredients: cream cheese as the base, granulated sugar to sweeten, eggs to bind it all together, extracts like vanilla and peppermint for flavor, chopped white chocolate and crushed peppermint candies for pops of flavor and crunch…and sour cream for a lighter, softer texture.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!
White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

If you don’t traditionally add sour cream to your cheesecakes, here’s why it’s a good idea to start: First, sour cream has a similar tang to cream cheese, so you won’t be disturbing the overall flavor. Second and more importantly, because sour cream is wetter and less dense than cream cheese, it adds just enough moisture to make the filling soft and smooth but not heavy. Hood Sour Cream is perfect for baking because it’s made with high-quality Hood Milk and Cream. It’s a product that can be trusted for all of your holiday baking needs—from coffee cakes to cheesecakes like this one. And conveniently, it’s available in the dairy aisle of your local grocery store in 16 and 24-ounce tub containers or a 12-ounce squeeze bottle.

Tips to Make a Peppermint Cheesecake:

-Make sure your oven rack is set in the middle position of your oven. You don’t want to bake your cheesecake on the lower or upper rack because it will bake unevenly.

-The cookie crumb crust is as easy as can be—just mix crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies with a little butter to bind them and use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to firmly and evenly pack the crumbs into the bottom of your springform pan.

-Temperature is crucial when it comes to cheesecake. Make sure that your cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream are at room temperature before baking (the cream cheese should be soft enough that you can press a finger through it with very little resistance).

-When adding the crushed peppermint candies to your cheesecake filling, stir quickly and minimally because the peppermint bits will begin to tint the batter pink.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

-A springform pan is essential here. No other cake pan or deep-dish pie plate will make it possible for you to cleanly and easily remove the cheesecake. The latchable collar that forms the sides of a springform pan makes it a cinch to remove the pan from the cake while leaving it intact.

-Allow enough time to chill your cheesecake after baking—at least 6 hours or overnight.

-To achieve the perfect slice, dip a large chef’s knife into a cup filled with hot water, dry it with a kitchen towel, then slice. Clean and dip your knife between slices.

-Cheesecake will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

Visit Hood.com for more delicious holiday recipes and inspiration.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

Prep Time30 mins

Cook Time1 hr 30 mins

Chilling Time8 hrs

Total Time10 hrs

Course: Dessert

Keyword: holiday dessert, peppermint cheesecake

Servings: 16

Calories: 309kcal

Author: Andie Mitchell

Crust

  • 22 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (not double-stuffed), broken in half
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 cup Hood Sour Cream
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candy like starlight mints, plus more for topping

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan.

  • Process the cookies in a food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined, 6 to 8 pulses. Transfer the crumb mixture to prepared pan and use your hands to press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Tip: Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, firmly pack crust into pan. Bake until fragrant and set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

  • For the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until incorporated, about 30 seconds total. Scrape down the sides of bowl. Add the sour cream, vanilla, peppermint extract, and beat just until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the chopped white chocolate and the peppermint bits and fold into the cheesecake quickly (you want to mix quickly and minimally because the peppermint bits will begin to tint the batter pink).

  • Pour the cheesecake mixture over the crust. Lift and gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles that have risen to surface.

  • Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set and center jiggles slightly when shaken and (it Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan rim. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Refrigerate, uncovered, until completely cold, about 6 hours or overnight.

  • To unmold the cheesecake, run a small sharp knife between around the sides of the pan, then unlock and release the sides. Optional: To loosen the crust from the pan, slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom, then slide the cheesecake onto your serving platter.For the topping, in a large bowl, beat the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until stiff peaks form. Spread half of the whipped cream over the cheesecake and spoon the remaining half into a large plastic bag, snip off one bottom corner of the bag with scissors and pipe the whipped cream in small circles around the edges of the cake. Sprinkle the top with more crushed peppermint candies.
  • Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. It can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

-Make sure your oven rack is set in the middle position of your oven. You don’t want to bake your cheesecake on the lower or upper rack because it will bake unevenly.
-The cookie crumb crust is as easy as can be—just mix crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies with a little butter to bind them and use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to firmly and evenly pack the crumbs into the bottom of your springform pan.
-Temperature is crucial when it comes to cheesecake. Make sure that your cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream are at room temperature before baking (the cream cheese should be soft enough that you can press a finger through it with very little resistance).
-When adding the crushed peppermint candies to your cheesecake filling, stir quickly and minimally because the peppermint bits will begin to tint the batter pink.
-A springform pan is essential here. No other cake pan or deep-dish pie plate will make it possible for you to cleanly and easily remove the cheesecake. The latchable collar that forms the sides of a springform pan makes it a cinch to remove the pan from the cake while leaving it intact.
-Allow enough time to chill your cheesecake after baking—at least 6 hours or overnight.
-To achieve the perfect slice, dip a large chef’s knife into a cup filled with hot water, dry it with a kitchen towel, then slice. Clean and dip your knife between slices.
-Cheesecake will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Credit: Source link

21 Nov

This post is sponsored by HP Hood. All opinions are my own.

Our first year of feeding James was a bit of a bumpy ride. First, I couldn’t produce enough milk so we switched to formula. Then, we had to find the right formula for him, which took a few tries. And the little guy would spit up so much after every meal that he basically wore a bib whenever he was awake. His doctor confirmed everything was fine; he just had to develop a stronger esophagus—which he did, after nine months. It’s worth mentioning that formula can be expensive, too. I say all of this to give you an idea of how much we were looking forward to the switch from formula to whole milk, which happens for most children at 12 months.

hood whole milk for babyhood whole milk for baby

Sure enough, at James’ 12-month appointment his pediatrician told us that he was ready to make the transition.

Here’s what we learned:

Use Whole Milk

When transitioning your baby to cow’s milk, it’s important to give him or her whole milk because that higher dietary fat content is beneficial for brain development (skim, 2%, and non-dairy alternatives like almond milk aren’t recommended). Whole milk also has plenty of protein for muscles and calcium and vitamin D to develop strong bones. Hood, the beloved dairy brand here in New England, believes that the milk we give to our little ones matters. That’s why they have high standards of quality and don’t add any artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. Hood milk provides nine essential nutrients per serving along with 8 grams of protein and the fat necessary for brain development.

Make the Transition as Gradual as You Want

There are different ways to make the switch and they range from very slow to a quick, cold-turkey swap. Some babies need to be gradually transitioned to cow’s milk so that their digestive system can get used to it. And even if that’s not the case, some babies are sensitive to change in general, so you might also take a slower approach and begin substituting whole milk for some of the formula in their bottle, increasing the amount of milk over a period of a few days or weeks, depending on how your child responds. For example, you’d start by mixing 6 ounces of formula with 2 ounces of whole milk, then shift to 4 ounces of formula with 4 ounces of whole milk, and then to 2 ounces of formula with 6 ounces of whole milk.

Another way to make the switch is to completely swap out the formula for whole milk in one or two of your toddler’s daily bottles, eventually phasing out the formula bottles altogether. This is the approach we took, at the recommendation of our pediatrician, knowing that James doesn’t have any allergies. Thankfully James didn’t have any issues making the switch and seemed to love it right away.

Warming the Milk Helps

Whole milk out of the fridge is cold, obviously, which might be a little jarring to your baby, who is used to warm or room temp formula or breast milk. Warming it up slightly (by placing the filled bottle in a bowl with warm water for a few minutes) helps to make it more like what they’ve grown accustomed to. Note, though: you don’t want to get into the routine of warming every bottle, so do this sparingly to avoid creating another habit you’ll have to later break. For us, warming the first and last bottles of the day seemed to be a soothing way to transition James.

Now our goal is to phase out the bottles completely, in favor of sippy cups, which seems to be going well so far but I’ll report back!

You can find Hood milk in your local dairy aisle. Or go to Hood.com to find out more information and find stores near you.

Credit: Source link

19 Nov


This loaded cauliflower soup recipe is a lighter twist on the classic loaded baked potato soup—full of creamy, rich flavor and topped with bacon and cheese for a fraction of the calories, carbs, and fat. Easy to make and ready in 40 minutes. (200 calories or 3 WW points)

Loaded baked potato soup is prime comfort food, but it’s also loaded with calories. My lightened-up version swaps the potatoes for low-cal/low-carb cauliflower while keeping all of the comforting appeal.

How to Make Loaded Cauliflower Soup

  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, set aside, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  • Add the chopped onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower, the chicken broth, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Bring the broth to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is completely tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Let the mixture cool slightly then carefully pour it into a blender. Add the whole milk. Attach the blender lid on top, removing the center piece of the lid to let steam escape. Cover that center opening with a towel, holding your hand over the towel, and process the soup mixture on low at first (gradually increasing the speed) until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the smooth soup back into the Dutch oven on the stovetop and set it over medium heat to let it warm through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper, if needed
  • Crumble the cooked bacon slices. Serve the soup in bowls topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.
creamy cauliflower soupcreamy cauliflower soup

Why use cauliflower in this soup recipe?

Cauliflower is the ultimate blank-canvas veggie. You can roast its florets, pulse it into “rice”, mash it, and even blend it into a creamy soup like this one. Like potatoes, cauliflower doesn’t have a strong flavor so it’s the perfect low carb substitution in lots of recipes (you can even add frozen cauliflower florets to smoothies for bulk and creaminess!).

low calorie soup recipelow calorie soup recipe

What so you serve with this soup recipe?

This recipe makes 6 servings and each serving is around 230 calories, so it’s great to serve as an appetizer or as a light lunch. To make it a fuller meal, serve it with a side of crusty bread, cornbread or a side salad.

Top tips to make this recipe

  • Cooking the veggies in a little bit of the rendered bacon fat infuses the soup with rich, smoky flavor.
  • Use a stick blender or stand blender to puree the soup into a silky-smooth consistency.
  • If using a stand blender, make sure you allow the soup to cool slightly before pouring it in your blender. Attach the blender lid on top, removing the center piece of the lid to let steam escape. Cover that center opening with a towel, holding your hand over the towel, and process the soup mixture on low at first (gradually increasing the speed) until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for around 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
  • The soup also freezes well. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
loaded cauliflower souploaded cauliflower soup

For more delicious soup recipes for the cold weather:

If you have tried this Easy Granola recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family-friendly food!

Loaded Cauliflower Soup

This loaded cauliflower soup is a healthy twist on the classic loaded baked potato soup. This lightened up version is lower in calories, carbs and fat but is still creamy, savory and rich. Easy to make, too!

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time40 mins

Course: Soup

Cuisine: American

Keyword: easy cauliflower soup, loaded cauliflower soup recipe, low carb soup recipe

Servings: 6

Calories: 200kcal

  • 6 slices center cut bacon
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chopped cauliflower (from a 2-pound head)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, set aside, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high.

  • Add the chopped onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower, the chicken broth, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Bring the broth to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is completely tender, about 15 minutes.

  • Let the mixture cool slightly then carefully pour it into a blender. Add the whole milk. Attach the blender lid on top, removing the center piece of the lid to let steam escape. Cover that center opening with a towel, holding your hand over the towel, and process the soup mixture on low at first (gradually increasing the speed) until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the smooth soup back into the Dutch oven on the stovetop and set it over medium heat to let it warm through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper, if needed

  • Crumble the cooked bacon slices. Serve the soup in bowls topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.

1 serving (1/6th of recipe or 1 1/4 cups soup topped with 1 slice of bacon, crumbled, and 1 heaping tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese): 3 WW Freestyle points
Adapted from Cooking Light Cauliflower Soup

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 889mg | Potassium: 649mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 292IU | Vitamin C: 78mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 1mg






Credit: Source link

18 Nov

I have received a bunch of questions recently about losing pregnancy weight while breastfeeding…and it’s a question I can’t answer because my baby was exclusively formula fed. Like most new moms, I assumed I would breastfeed buuut like many aspects of parenthood, those assumptions were challenged by reality.

I realized I was going to have problems with breastfeeding almost immediately. I could see I was producing some colostrum (drops, really) but James never seemed satisfied. He would latch and feed for hours at a time, then seem unsettled and go back for more. While we were in the hospital, he cried all night, so I kept offering him my breast. At that point, I had been in labor for 39 hours, pushing for 3 and a half hours, and hadn’t slept in about 3 days. I was quickly losing my sanity. My instincts told me he was hungry and I think he spent so much time trying to feed he also was suffering from a lack of sleep. On the second night after he fed for two straight hours only to start screaming, crying, and rooting, I asked the nurse to get him some formula.

She did, but it was clear she was hesitant when she asked if I was suuuure a couple times in a row. James drank 20 ml in what felt like seconds, which was the most she said he could have. He seemed content for a few minutes before spitting up. She turned to me and said “that’s what happens when you use formula. Their systems can’t handle it.” I felt even more guilty for not being able to properly nourish my son.

I met with a lactation consultant the following day in the hospital. She was well-meaning but the experience was extremely frustrating. I felt like she was going into way too much detail about the most basic things. I was tired and uncomfortable. Both James and I were sweating profusely. When our session was wrapping up, she began explaining how to find more resources and then started to explain how to google information in excruciating detail, “You could go on a computer and go to google.com and then in the search box you could try typing lactation help and then your zip code and press enter. Now where do you live?” I just burst into tears. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Thankfully Daniel was there and asked her kindly if we could just have some time alone.

When we got home, I kept trying to breastfeed. I remember staying up all night, watching a whole season of Better Call Saul (worth noting that I don’t remember a single thing about it). James would nurse for hours and hours and then continue crying and rooting. It was heartbreaking. We went to the doctor every day that first week home and he kept losing weight. I met with another lactation consultant at the pediatrician who was very sweet. Then we had another meeting with the pediatrician. Our doctor was called out of the room for an emergency and one of the other doctors from the practice came in to talk to us. This was one of the luckiest moments of my life because our meeting with the new doctor saved me. She told me her own story of not being able to breastfeed her children and how difficult it was for her. She tried both times and ended up formula feeding and felt guilty. But she sees plenty of children who are fed formula and are just as healthy as breastfed babies. It was really what I needed to hear. I knew in my heart breastfeeding wasn’t working, but I felt like talking to the doctor finally gave me permission to try something else.

On the way home we stopped at Walgreens and bought formula. James drank 50ml in the car, and for the first time in his short existence on the planet he seemed utterly content. I considered still trying to breastfeed what I could, but ultimately decided I couldn’t. I stopped entirely.

From the time he was one week old, James was exclusively formula fed and I’ve felt some shame and guilt about that throughout motherhood. But now, a year in, I am completely at peace with it. Parents should never feel ashamed about formula feeding. There are many good reasons to use formula just as there are good reasons to breastfeed. You just have to figure out what’s best for your family. He did spit up quite a bit in the first six months, but I have no idea if that was because of the formula or not. I do know he is perfectly healthy and happy. He received the nutrition he needed and his mom got her sanity back.

Credit: Source link