Friday, May 8, 2015

The Gift of Sleep

Sunday is Mother's Day and I can't wait! Obviously it's my very first Mother's Day and I feel like I've entered the super exclusive and incredible group of motherhood finally! They just don't tell you that the entrance fee is 9 months of heart burn, swollen feet, hip pain and nausea. But the rewards are you get to be the proud mother a beautiful healthy baby who you will love unconditionally for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Light & Fresh Tuna Melt

It's funny, the entire time you are pregnant you think, "I can't wait to eat the food I want and drink all the fun drinks I want when this little guy is born!" WRONG! Just when you think you can go back to living a care-free foodie life, the realty of breastfeeding hits you. Your baby still eats and drinks what you eat and drink.

For instance, one night I ate some gorgeous and rich rosemary grilled lamb chops. They agreed with me, but did not agree with Nolan one bit. I had to pay for that one with an entire night of colicky crying and what felt like endless diarrhea diaper changes. Lessoned learned: no more lamb. Now after 2 months, Nolan and I have figured each other out...thank goodness! Nights like those are miserable for both Nolan and mom!

One of the foods I've been wary about is seafood, especially tuna. I love tuna fish casserole, it's one of my favorite all time comfort foods. And don't even get me started on ahi tuna and spicy tuna rolls! But while I was pregnant and now breastfeeding, the potential mercury levels make me nervous for little Nolan, and I haven't wanted to risk it.

Luckily for us new and expected mothers, plus any tuna lover, I discovered a new brand of canned tuna fish that gets rid of all our mercury fears. Safe Catch tuna screens every single tuna fish for purity and mercury levels, making it completely safe to eat. Plus it gives you the extra Omega-3's your body and growing baby need by packing the tuna raw in the can, sealing all the important nutrients and then cooking it. I've been told most tuna fish brand precook the tuna, which washes away and drains most of the important nutrients. How disappointing. This Safe Catch tuna on the other hand....definitely not disappointing!

So in celebration of a tuna fish that I can safely eat, I made a light and fresh tuna melt that is healthy and fulfills my tuna cravings. It has easily become one of Dusty's favorite go-to lunches and mine.

Light & Fresh Tuna Melt
{Serves 2}

-1 (5 ounce) can Safe Catch Tuna, drained
-1 tablespoon minced Shallot
-1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
-1/2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
-1 teaspoon dried Parsley
-Dash of Salt & Pepper, to taste
-Dash of Tobasco, to taste
-2 slices Whole Wheat Bread, toasted
-4 slices of Tomato
-1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat boiler. In a bowl, stir to combine the tuna, shallot, mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Spread 1/4 of the mixture on each of the 2 toasted pieces of whole wheat bread. Top each tuna melt with 2 slices of tomato and 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese. Place open faced tuna melts onto baking sheet and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Safe Catch Tuna provided me with sample of their canned tuna to review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Recipe inspired and adapted from Eating Well

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

{One Month}

Has it really been a month already?!?!
Hard to believe a month has already flown by!
4 weeks of sleepless nights, endless feedings, dirty diapers and the best cuddles....I'm loving every minute of it.
    Nolan's Mom

Monday, March 30, 2015

Duke & His New Little Buddy

One thing I did not consider when having a baby was how Duke, my fur-baby, my "first born" would react to the new arrival. All throughout my pregnancy he was uber lovable and super attached to me. I assumed that because he could somehow sense there was a baby that he would instantly be overjoyed and adjusted to the new arrival.
Boy was I wrong....
When I went into labor, Dusty's dad came and picked Duke up and took him out to the farm to stay while we were at the hospital and during the early days of transitioning with Nolan. After a few days of being home and adjusted (as much as we could) to the new baby, we had Dusty's parents bring Duke to the house for a "meet and great." Duke was not impressed. He gave Nolan a few licks on the feet and a couple sniffs, and was clearly experiencing some sibling jealousy.
Not once did Duke growl or act aggressive toward Nolan, he was more hurt and upset by me! This took me completely off guard and as a new exhausted mom with fluctuating hormones, this totally broke my heart. I'd call for Duke or go near him to cuddle and he would be completely aloof to me. He would ignore me, not make eye contact with me and walk past me as I called for him. To have my fur-baby act like this was devastating.
Luckily....with some puppy treats, string cheese and extra emphasis on cuddling Duke, he has come around to both Nolan and I, and harmony is restored! It took a good solid week before Duke would sit next to me on the couch, go near Nolan and I if we were together and even sleep on the bed with Dusty and I. Thankfully we are all adjusted and back to normal.
If anything, Duke is now completely in love with Nolan and wants to share his dog toys with him during play time!
Lesson learned: I should have listened to the advice I had read in my pregnancy books. They say it's a good idea to distance yourself a bit from your pet towards the end of pregnancy so they are adjusted to not getting as much attention. I definitely didn't do that. If anything I cuddled him more. We did things like let him smell Nolan's blanket and clothes from the hospital to adjust him to baby, but didn't think about adjusting him to the attention he received from Dusty and myself.  Learn from my mistakes!
Now what I'm looking forward to is seeing how Duke and Nolan become the best of friends. I can already see the bond between them developing and it's adorable!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Flank Steak & Potato Hash

It's funny, my mom said to me the other day, "Wow! I can't believe you are blogging again!" I know. I know. I go through long spurts of not blogging...I blame working nights and sleeping during the days while being SUPER pregnant. Plus another thing...morning sickness. A food bloggers worst nightmare. But now that I'm home with my little man and feeling great, I have been enjoying being back in the kitchen and whipping up fun eats. During the day I put Nolan in his little plush puppy dog chair and get to cookin'!

Over the weekend I made these delicious tacos and they were a real treat. I especially loved the pico de gallo from Laurie at Simply Scratch's blog. It could possibly be my favorite pico de gallo yet!

With Spring just about to arrive on the hi-line, I am counting down the days until our little Mexican restaurant, a mere 90 miles away, Serranos, opens up again. Less than 2 months! It's a seasonal restaurant at the gates of East Glacier and the chiles rellenos alone are worth the drive.  Sadly, in the winter time when the restaurant is closed, if you want a taco, you gotta make the I did!

After Dusty and I stuffed our faces with as much flank steak tacos as we could possibly eat, we were left with about 1/2 a pound of flank steak. I don't know about you, but I hate leftover steak. It becomes chewy, tough and just doesn't reheat very well. So what do you do when you have leftover steak? Make breakfast hash! And don't forget to top it with a perfectly fried egg and a couple dashes of Tobasco sauce to really send it over the top :)  

Flank Steak & Potato Hash
{Serves 4}

-1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and 1/2 inch diced
-1/2 cup chopped Yellow Onion
-2 tablespoons Salted Butter
-1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Salt & Pepper to taste
-1 Green Onion, thinly sliced
-1/2 tablespoon dried Parsley
-1/2 pound leftover cooked Flank Steak (or any leftover steak), cut into bite-size pieces

Heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes, onions, salt and pepper to the pan. Cook, turning occasionally with a spatula, for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are softened, browned and cooked through. Add the steak pieces and cook an additional 3-5 minutes until the steak is warmed through. Then turn off the heat and add the green onions and dried parsley.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

California Breakfast Sandwich

Towards the end of my pregnancy something strange happened that I didn't expect....I craved healthy foods. What's up with that? I thought I was suppose to be craving ice cream, pickles, double cheeseburgers and milkshakes for the whole 9 months and gain like 100 pounds!?!?!?

Don't get me wrong. I totally had moments of ridiculous cravings for cheeseburgers at 11:00 pm, with the closest McD's being a 50 mile round trip. As you recall in an earlier post, I called that "the burger incident", which thankfully only happened a small handful of times. Overall, I'd say my biggest cravings were for these huckleberry smoothies. I probably made this smoothie about 2-3 times a week and added Shakeology vanilla protein powder to give me the extra protein and nutrients I needed to survive working overtime at the hospital in my 3rd trimester with ridiculously swollen feet. 

Now that I've become accustomed to eating all things whole wheat, quinoa, and chia, my body still craves it and my taste buds actually enjoy it! I would have never pegged myself as someone who would add chia to their oatmeal or drink coconut/almond milk. I didn't even know what chia was until I was pregnant. And whole wheat?!? I can't believe I actually prefer it to white bread now. That little Nolan did some weird things to my taste buds when he was baking inside me. Little stinker ;)

Let me tell you what...this California Breakfast Sandwich is not only good for you, but seriously flavorful. It's been snowing the past few days and I needed something that reminded me of warm weather, and this sandwich did the trick!  So grab yourself a tall glass of bright sunny orange juice with this sandwich for a great start to your day!

California Breakfast Sandwich
{Serves 1}

-1 Whole Wheat English Muffin-toasted
-1/2 tablespoon Basil Pesto
-1 Egg
-1/8 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
-2 slices Tomato
-1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
-3 slices Avocado

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Fry the egg on one side for 1-2 minutes until set and then flip to the other side. Top with shredded Monterey jack cheese. Continue cooking the egg for 1-2 minutes until desired doneness and the cheese has melted.

Meanwhile, spread the basil pesto on both halves of the whole wheat English Muffin and toss the avocado slices with the lemon juice. Assemble the sandwich by placing the cheesy fried egg on bottom half of the basil pesto covered English muffin, followed by the tomato and avocado slices and sandwich it with the top of the English muffin.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mr. Nolan Heath

After 38 weeks and 6 days, my little man, Mr. Nolan Heath Ahrens has joined the world!
Nolan was born March 3rd, 2015 at 4:43 pm, weighing 7 pounds and 8.2 ounces and 20.25 inches in length.

After 14 hours of labor, he joined this world absolutely perfect and we couldn't be more in love.
Dusty and I are so overjoyed and can't thank everyone enough for all the love and support as we begin our journey as new parents with Nolan.
And if any of you are awake at 1:00 am, 4:00 am and 6:00 am....feel free to shoot me a message on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I guarantee I'll be awake feeding my little guy and surfing the web for recipes or looking at Pinterest!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bun In The Oven

I officially win "worst food blogger of the year" award. I can't believe I haven't been on here since July! Although the reason for my disappearance isn't out of laziness, it's because I have been a very busy lady. Besides working an insane amount at the hospital, I've spent the past 9 months baking this little bun in my oven....

 Mr. Nolan Heath
Due March 11th, 2015
Dusty and I found out June 30th that I was pregnant! We had just spent the past week in Kalispell where I was doing my OB/delivery training (coincidence?) and didn't feel well the entire time. I was light-headed, extra car sick and really tired. Something definitely didn't feel right. After taking multiple pregnancy tests and getting negative results, I had no idea what was going on with my body. I just figured I wasn't handling the prenatal vitamins very well, since those things are awful and the size of bullets. Then, I gave the test one more go on the 30th and got the faintest of lines indicating that we were going to be expecting a baby!

One of the worst things to happen to a food blogger is morning sickness. Oh, how I hated morning sickness. The thought and smell of food made me so nauseated, I lost about 8 pounds the first 3 months of pregnancy. All I could stomach was yogurt and drinking milk. That was the major reason I stepped away from the blog for a while. The thought of food made me sick to my stomach. It was a very long and depressing 3 months of not being able to eat the foods I love. Thankfully that stage is over with!

Since I couldn't think about food, I had to hone my creativity in a different direction. Instead of recipe development, I began cross-stitching. I made 2 of these bibs for our baby (one pig and one cow themed) and I'm currently in the middle of working on a blanket as well.

One of the worst things about living in a small town is the lack of fast food when you are pregnant. I can not tell you how many times I have cried to Dusty that I need and must have a cheeseburger or I can't live without a Taco Bell Quesadilla! We are 25 miles to the closest McD's and 80 miles the nearest quesadilla. Talk about torture! There was one night I wanted a burger so bad that I started sobbing hysterically in the kitchen....we call that "The burger incident." It was the only time I became a stereotypically crazy pregnant lady. Lucky for Dusty, it hasn't happened more than that one time. Also, thank goodness for "copy-cat recipes" online, those have been a lifesaver for both Dusty and I!

Funny thing is, now I can't stomach the idea of fast food. All my body wants is healthy, nutritious foods and more specifically....milk! I have been going through a gallon of milk a week by myself. It's insane! Our little guy, Nolan, is going to have some strong bones due to all the milk I've been consuming lately. Since I've been working 40-50 hours a week at the hospital these past few months, I haven't had the energy to develop new recipes for the blog, but my go-to gal for all things delicious and healthy is Gina from I'm in love with her cookbook and blog. All the healthy meals have been keeping me healthy throughout my pregnancy, despite flu season, and keeping me energized to make it through the last stretch of night shifts before maternity leave (only 10 more 12 hour shifts left!).

Just in case you were wondering, Duke is very excited about baby Nolan too! The entire time I've been pregnant he has been attached to my hip and super affectionate. He is constantly following me around and laying next to me (or on me!). I can't even go to the bathroom alone without him peaking his head in the door to make sure I'm alright. I catch him in the nursery all the time just sniffing things out, it's absolutely adorable. He is going to be the best big puppy brother for Nolan and I can't wait for the big day to arrive!

Only 3 weeks away until Mr. Nolan Heath joins our family and we can't wait!
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