Friday, March 28, 2014


Well I suppose it is time to update you all on my eMeals plan!

When I signed up I joined the "low calorie" plan to help balance my nutrition and portion sizes during this pregnancy. The start was a little rough as a few of the meals were, well lets just say, interesting.

Chipotle Meatballs over Rice

The first week of groceries came out to around 85$ for the ingredients listed. I found this to be a little high from their estimation of $50-$75 per week. Then I realized that this was because I had to buy several staple items that I did not have in my kitchen (ex: Canola oil, spices, etc...).

My next hurdle was that I did not have a need for all seven meals provided. This was quickly remedied by crossing out the items on the list that were numbered for the meals we weren't using. I'm finding my collection of recipes has grown enormously - it's almost overwhelming! I am, however, storing my favorites away in my personal recipe box to use at a later time.

Baked Chicken over Chickpeas and Cherry Tomatoes

My second week of groceries came out to about 65$ and this included not just eMeal ingredients, but also my other meal items as well (ex: milk, eggs, bread, etc...). This seems a lot more reasonable than the first week.

The meals have become a little more inviting and, well, normal. We've had bacon wrapped chicken, steak, pork chops, and some vegetarian varieties also. I like that this meal plan is high protein/veggies and low carb. Most meals take an average of 30-40 minutes to prepare/cook and my recipes always inform me when I need to pre-marinade or chill an item. 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken with a Chilled Pea Salad

One special thing I have noticed is when a recipe calls for a quantity that is SMALLER than the sold quantity, a recipe later in the week will use up the rest of that ingredient so I am less wasteful. Also, shopping with such a thorough list has helped me to not purchase unnecessary or larger-than-needed items. I must note that we need to take the garbage out a little less now!

eMeals is helping me to come out of my comfort zone with cooking but not to the point of being wasteful with my time. I'm enjoying trying new flavors or combinations that I never would have thought of. 

Pork Chops with Strawberry Balsamic topping

So far I would rate my eMeals experience at a 4 out of 5 stars. What would make it five star? An iPad app!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Little Surprise! - Week 29 Part 2

Tonight at our weekly Bible Study, the group surprised us with a little baby shower for Roo! What a blessing to have such loving friends in our lives <3 p="">
I thought I would share our few pictures

Our gifts include a baby carrier (YAY!!), Chevron sheets, the cutest little onsie, and a Taun Taun Rocking Horse (Click Here for Model)!!!!

Thanks guys for making us feel so loved <3 br="">

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Memory in Time - Week 29

For week 29, the highlight for me was the opportunity to stop and memorialize this chapter in our lives.

After the mis-hap with the storage card in our wedding, I've been looking forward to the next big occasion to spoil ourselves with professional-grade photos.  This occasion came this past weekend as our professional-aspiring friends offered to create a maternity photo-shoot for us.

Saturday morning came early as we tried to catch the rising sun. The weather was perfect, a slight overcast with no wind to ruin perfect moments. We set out to nature and the photographer began his work. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite moments we captured in time of our precious first, Baby Roo.



Dear son of mine, I cannot wait to meet you! You are such a precious gift from above that we are blessed to be receiving. Love Mom

Friday, March 21, 2014

For the Love of Muffins!!

Those who have been in my home for events know that I LOVE muffins!! Often I'll get inspired and bake up a whole batch of blueberry or banana or lemon muffins. The downfall is my husband doesn't eat many of them so they all end up in my tummy!

Unfortunately for this vice of mine, it doesn't fit too well in my new baby diet. So I have been on the hunt for tasty, low calorie muffins to test out and enjoy.

Wednesday for our Small Group Bible study, I decided I would use them all as guinea pigs for a new, light muffin recipe I found from Cooking Light magazine. I thought I'd share with you all.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving (serving size: 1 muffin)
  • Calories: 182
  • Calories from fat: 28%     
  • Protein: 2.9g
  • Carbohydrate: 30.4g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Cholesterol: 14mg
  • Sodium: 176mg       

Sour Cream Coffeecake Muffins

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans (I declined on the pecans)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used egg whites)
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 7 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 teaspoons fresh orange juice
Dash of salt
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside (dark brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon).

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add egg substitute; beat 3 minutes. Beat in sour cream, water, and vanilla.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture; add sour cream mixture. Stir just until combined.

Place 3 tablespoons brown sugar mixture in a small bowl; set aside. Sprinkle surface of batter with remaining brown sugar mixture. Gently fold batter 4 times.

Place 18 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Spoon batter into prepared cups. Sprinkle batter evenly with reserved brown sugar mixture. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes.

Combine powdered sugar, juice, and dash of salt in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle powdered sugar mixture evenly over muffins.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Beginning of the End - Week 28

Well hello there third trimester; how hard it is to believe you have arrived to quickly!

I remember sitting at the start of my second trimester thinking these nine months were going to be the longest of my life! Well here we are; the beginning of the end.

Unlike any other time in my pregnancy, I feel the urgency to prepare barreling down on me. So many thoughts and doubts are crowding my mind, it's hard to find restful sleep. Or, maybe that's the large belly hanging off of me with a kicking child keeping me awake...

A friend told me this week to enjoy my first pregnancy. These words of wisdom came from her as she held her two year old on her hip and is eight months pregnant. "You'll quickly forget the little one inside you when there's another one tugging your hand for attention" she said. So this week, I've been trying to enjoy each moment; each little kick, each word of advice given, each plan made.

The most resounding thought in my mind is; what have I gotten myself into? Am I prepared for the responsibility of being a mother?

The only desire I've had since a child is to be a wife, a mother and a homemaker. However, as motherhood comes increasingly closer, I start to wonder if maybe I was a little batty to dream up such a horrifying life goal! 

But then I think of his first steps, his first day of school, graduation, marriage... It will all go by in the wink of an eye and Lord-willing he will grow up to be a wonderful husband and father to his own family.

So this week I've been trying to focus on the now; the moments I won't ever experience again. Focusing on preparing the most loving and Godly home for our Son.

I'm thankful for my life... for the journey I've been on. God knows what's next and I'm excited to experience every minute of it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trial by Food

So you read recently, in my article Budget Busting Meal Plans, that I was starting to use a new meal planning program called eMeals. Every Wednesday the system sends me seven new meals with a grocery list and recipes for my convenience.

Saturday morning I printed out my shopping list and compared it to sales and coupons from local stores. I headed out early to beat the rush and purchased all the items needed for my week of meals. I decided to take out two of the meals since we are rarely home for meals on the weekends but saved the recipes in my book to try later.

#1 feature I love: the shopping list has each ingredient listed not only by measurement needed, but also by meal number! So if I decide the third meal will not be used I can just cross out those ingredients. Also on the iPhone App if I click "skip meal" then it will auto remove those items from the shopping list for my convenience.

Monday night we took the program for it's first spin. Our recipe was for some Chipotle Meatballs on Brown Rice. I must say the recipe did not taste all that great. Basically it was Onion, Tomato, Chili Peppers, and rounds of meat over brown rice. There was no taste aside from the Tomato (which we aren't huge fans of as is). So this first meal is NOT going on our "try again" list.

A little hesitant I figured we would try for a second meal - I mean we paid for the program, we might as well use it right? Well night two was a little more forgiving on the flavor side.

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Strawberry Sauce with Baked Green Beans and Bacon. Is your mouth watering yet?

I'll share the recipe HERE for your convenience, but it's a good one! 

Tonight will be meal #3 and rice and beans aren't usually my favorite but we said we would try as many of them as we could.

So far I am enjoying the meal plans. It does take some of the stress away but I think what I like most is that it's more inventive than anything I could come up with. I get stuck in the rut of making the same meals over and over again and never attempting new techniques or flavors. These plans give me not only fresh ideas that I never would have thought of, but make, seemingly, more difficult techniques easy.

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Strawberry Sauce and Baked Green Beans withBacon

This meal is being added to my Starred / Favorites list!
Low Calorie and Gluten Free!

referenced from eMeals

Main Dish
2 (4oz) center-cute loin pork chops
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1 tsp chopped, fresh Rosemary
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries
2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs honey

  1. Sprinkle Pork with Salt and Pepper; rub with Rosemary and Garlic.
  2. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add Pork Chops.
  4. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until done; remove from skillet and keep warm.
  5. Add Strawberries, Vinegar, and Honey to skillet; cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened.
  6. Place pork chop on each of 2 plates; top evenly with Strawberry mixture.
Side Dish
1/2 lbs fresh Green Beans, trimmed
2 slices center-cut Bacon, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss Green Beans, Bacon, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper in a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until crisp-tender
  4. Divide Beans into 2 equal portions; serve alongside Pork Chop

Calories per server: 396
Makes 2 Servings

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Goodbye - Hello! - Week 27

Today is the last day of my second trimester. Some say the happiest and easiest days of pregnancy are in the later part of the second trimester. It's been very fulfilling to have the extra energy to complete tasks around the house that need doing before Baby Roo gets here.

While reading my through my Mayo Clinic book I learned that Baby Roo can now not only hear us, but he can recognize our voices. We've been having fun trying to get a reaction out of him by lying down on the sofa and talking to him in turn. It's a contest to see who he reacts more to; mom or dad.

I've officially signed up for all of my prenatal classes and the rest of my pregnancy is booked up to the max. Between a trip to NY/Canada in April, classes, visits from family and friends, weddings, conventions, and so much more; we've only got a few open weekends to ourselves. It will all be over before we know it!

It seems the biggest task we have before us is to find a name for the little guy. We've had so many names come through our hearts that we both love, but for two of the most indecisive humans on the planet, choosing the name of a person who will have a full life being called by said name seems like an enormous task. Thankfully neither of us have pushy families who insist on certain traditional names and so on.

Baby Roo takes up about half my midsection now, from the waist to about my diaphragm. His kicks are more localized to the sides of my stomach now so that is a relief! Thankfully the brace I purchased has been doing it's job and helping relieve a lot of pain I was experiencing from the new weight.

So three months to go!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Easy Skillet Chicken Parm

My poor husband. He loves fish - but never gets to eat it because I don't know how to make it nor do I like eating it. We usually resolve this dilemma by, on occasion, eating out and he will order some sort of seafood dish. However from time to time he asks me to make one of his childhood memory dishes that contain some odd-to-me smelling fish.

This time he wanted his mom's, family-famous Cream Tuna on Toast - YUCK!
So that leaves me in the lurch when this happens, having to prepare two meals at once. With a refrigerator that is nearly empty I wasn't sure what to swing together for myself so I decided to improvise!
I came up with an easy recipe for Skillet Chicken Parm.

What You'll Need
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups  Traditional Italian Sauce (I like Classico)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces) 

How to Make It
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides.
Stir the sauce and 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese in the skillet.  Reduce the heat to low.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese.  Let stand for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  

Obviously I didn't make 6 chicken breasts for myself. I reduced everything down for 1 chicken. You can put the entire pan in the oven after sprinkling the chesses on it to crust the cheese, but I found it melted was sufficient for me.

The entire meal took me 25 minutes to prepare and cook, so I starred the recipe card in my box and will use it again!

Budget Busting Meal Plans

A few years back my Husband Eric and I were looking at our lives through the eyes of newlyweds. One of the realities you have to face when you get married is; what's his is mine and what's mine is his. This includes your debt.

We were blessed that our debt was smaller than most newly weds as I had no college loans to speak of at the time of our marriage, and our wedding was cash-flowed. A few months in we took part in a 12 week Financial course produced and hosted by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University. Our focused turned quickly to loan payments and soon we'd brought our debt down to one last loan. (One day I want to blog about our journey to "debt free.")

Part two of being a newlywed, mostly as a wife, is the realization that you can no longer stock the cupboard with Ramen Noodles and canned Tuna. I was fortunate to get several "newlywed" cookbooks that taught me basic skills and easy meals.

Two and a half years later, Meal Planning is a part of my weekly routine. Every Thursday I get all the flyers for local grocers and make my list of meals for the week. This often ends in us eating the same meals on a two week rotation and buying more than we need or use. I often feel I walk out of the store spending way too much on things that will just end up in the trash because I forgot to use them.

As a rule, our family measures our financial decisions against the wisdom of Dave Ramsey. Yes, we realize and accept that he is not prefect nor the end-all to every financial question. That is why I say we "measure" our decisions against his wisdom but we have found many of his tools and recommendations very helpful to our family.

So what does Food and Dave Ramsey have to do with each other?

Dave Ramsey Recommends eMeals

"Food is the biggest budget buster of all. I’ve wanted someone to create a practical solution to the 'beans and rice, rice and beans' dilemma. Finally... eMeals has done it! Now thousands of my listeners subscribe to eMeals. You will save a ton of time and money." - Dave Ramsey

eMeals is an online service that allows you to pick a meal plan based on your dietary preferences, your cooking style, the number of people in your family, and the grocery stores you frequent. In addition to giving you a weekly meal plan, it also provides a detailed grocery list, all for $5 a month!

Oh but you know me - I need a deal! So check out this great Groupon for 50% off your membership!
So we Signed up! With our Groupon the cost of eMeals is $2.42 per month. Several of our friends are taking part as well and rave about the plans. Here are the options you can currently choose from on eMeals:
Dinner Plans               Lunch Plans          Breakfast Plans             Dessert Plans
Gluten Free                 Low Carb              Low Fat                         Low Calorie
Portion Control           Vegetarian             Natural and Organic     Clean Eating
Paleo                           Mediterranean        Simple Gourmet           Vegetarian
As a part of each plan, you receive a grocery list, new recipes each week, and you can change your meal plan Once a month if you don't like the plan you're doing. eMeals states you will spend between $75-$85 a week on groceries for a family of 3-6 ($50-$75 for a family of 2-3).

So, coming this week, our Journey in eMeals begins. Follow my eMeals Tag for updates, or you can find the link at the top in my Blog Menu for posts specific to this journey. I will be tracking our spending, meals we enjoy, as well as the benefits of having the hard work done for me.

You can find more information about eMeals by clicking Here or you can see my eMeals link on the side of my blog. Click the link to Follow by email of subscribe to my blog for all my updates!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Glucose Poisoning Test!

Well if you're following my blog at all you'll remember in my post "Weights and Measure" I talked about starting the Gestational Diabetes Diet to help regulate my carbohydrate intake and normalize my nutrition levels. So far I have been feeling 10 times better than before; I'm less hungry in between meals, I'm digesting with more ease, and I feel healthier!

I felt like all my hard work was thrown out the window yesterday when I went for my Glucose test.

I'm not really a research kind of person. Some moms-to-be spend every waking moment pouring over material concerning the many aspects of pregnancy and the decisions needing to be made. I am NOT one of these moms. I tend to inform myself on subjects as they come up. So when it came to my glucose test, I was told I needed to get blood drawn one week before my next appointment (the blood work is outsourced to Labcorp). I didn't think anything of this, figured I'd show up, they'd take blood, and I'd be out of there.


You'd think my Midwife would have said something about this taking over an hour to complete, not to mention the poisonous, orange Glucose drink I'd have to chug down at the Lab.

That orange drink is filled with JUNK!

Water (non-carbonated)

D-Glucose (source corn)
Citric acid anhydrous
Sodium benzoate
Orange flavor
Yellow dye #6 Total: 50 g glucose

I read the label and explained to the technician I wasn't comfortable drinking it, I was told I had NO CHOICE! Then the shock came that I would have to sit in the waiting room for an hour before they could draw blood. This is so silly...

Next time I plan on insisting on an alternative such as Cranberry Juice instead of these toxins they forced on me. This Glucose concoction had me shaky all day, caused a stomach ache, and kept me awake late into the night. For a body that is avoiding most of these ingredients it really took it's toll.

So talk to your OBG when they mention the Glucose Test. See if you can take an alternative. Ask if you can drink it at home and not wait for an hour at the lab. It's your body and your time. No one should be dictating to you how things should be done.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Energize Me - Week 26

This week has brought the most energy I've had in a very long time! It all started with Friday errands, then a birthday party on Saturday, and the beach on Sunday! There's still more to go this week, like my birthday prenatal massage and helping some friends with the apartment they've moved out of.

I know! It's a packed week!!

I thought since it's been a few weeks I would post an updated photo of Baby Roo's size.

The size of a head of lettuce!

Please note the beautiful weather! There's only a few more good days left before summer sets in and it's too hot and humid to be outside. Soon it will be 90 degrees outside with the blazing sun trying to crisp us all like a piece of bacon.

For now I'm enjoying the open windows and the gentle breeze! So thankful I don't have to carry this baby through the entire summer!