Coming Back to Write

A whole lot has changed since I went quiet in this space. Since I last wrote, which I’m not even sure when that was, I’ve undergone a significant amount of life change. The most profound being motherhood. But I can also throw in an engagement and marriage before motherhood. Lots of change in two years.

I didn’t mention the craziness of the pandemic. Don’t we all wish that was behind us?

My motherhood journey the past 13 months has been crazy. Add in the 9 months of pregnancy during early pandemic life, and you could say we were insane. I could even argue that we are more insane today than back then. I digress.

Over the course of the coming months, I am going to unpack some unpopular opinions here. Women talking about hard topics related to motherhood is taboo. There are a lot of things nobody tells you until your baby is earth-side, and then you are just lost in a sea of new and ever-changing factors trying to recover from childbirth and keep your newborn alive and thriving.

The vulnerability of sharing all this is scary, but the pros outweigh the cons. If I can help one other person see that their experience is normal and valid, then sharing my story is worth it. It’s super messy, sometimes ugly. It wasn’t the sunshine and rainbows I had pictured in my head. It wasn’t the quintessential family photo hanging over mantels across American living rooms. But it’s real and raw and full of hope for being a better person, a better wife and a better mother.

If I can help one other person see that their experience is normal and valid, then sharing my story is worth it.

My son is 13 months old today. He’s the light of my life. The littlest love I never knew I needed until I felt his first kicks and held him in my arms for the first time. There is no better snuggle partner than my sweet boy.

But the journey to get to this place, this perspective was the road of unknown travel. The one you walk alone, yet with many.

The expectation could be this space becomes the typical mommy blog. But I am not the typical mommy because my introduction to motherhood was during a pandemic. This will not be a how-to guide for moms. I plan to unpack the hard things, the beautiful things, the ever-changing things to give perspective to the rollercoaster that is parenthood. Stay along for the ride, if that’s your thing. Exit when you wish. Rude comments about my perspective and experiences will 100 percent not be tolerated.

This is a space to help people. To help women normalize the things that happen to them in motherhood. To help find someone “like you.”

Let’s go. Together.

Instant Pot Chicken and Green Vegetable Soup

It’s been so cold. This weather has had me all down in the dumps, but I am thankful for the few days of sunshine. Because it’s been so cold, I’ve been 100 percent craving soup.

My go-to is usually a combine of whatever protein and veggies I have on hand, and then I season it based on what I feel like. And when I really want a low effort soup, I always make it in the Instant Pot.

So that’s what I did last night, and this one turned out to be a favorite of mine.

So I call this Chicken and Green Vegetable Soup because it is heavy on the green vegetable side of things. I also shredded the chicken after cooking to make it extra delicious so you get a little chicken in every bite.

What you need:

  • 3 chicken breasts, thawed or frozen
  • 1 leek, rinsed and cut into half-moons
  • 2 heads of broccoli, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch dino kale, inner rib removed and chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken bone broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Drizzle of avocado oil
  • Salt, pepper and a generous dose of Primal Palate’s New Bae Seasoning
  • Sour Cream, optional

Put a little avocado oil in the bottom of the pot. (I always do this when I’m putting frozen chicken in the Instant Pot so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.)

Add all your ingredients to the pot. Secure the lid. Set on Soup cooking method for 30 minutes, and make sure the release valve is closed so it will build pressure. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Once the pot reaches the optimal pressure, the timer will count down from 30 minutes, and it will beep when it is ready. Wait a couple minutes to flip the tab to release the pressure manually. I’m always too hungry to wait for it to naturally release.


It’s that simple.

Resources to Fight Cancer

Ever since Brad’s cancer diagnosis, I’ve been constantly consuming information. There’s a sense of helplessness and fear that come with not knowing what will happen. Instead of allowing myself to be totally consumed by that fear, I’ve decided to control what we can control.

In order to do that, I need information, and I’ve been choosing to get it from lots of different resources. So I thought I would share some of those with you, in case you need the empowerment, too.

Resource No. 1: People

You need to find other people who have been through what you are going through. Maybe it’s not the same cancer or symptoms or whatever, but walking the journey is easier with other people.

Finding people who have faced the fear of doctors, follow-ups, surgery, chemo, radiation and all the things in-between gives you an advantage on what questions to ask, doctors to find (or avoid), clinic etiquette, parking and where to find coffee or snacks.

Lean on those people. Let them help you and comfort you in your time of need. Then, pay it forward. Because I promise you, you will learn lots of tips and tricks that will help someone else in the future.

Resource No. 2: Books

This has been my sweet spot. I’ve got books upon books upon books. I’m reading anything I can get my hands on about nutrition. Some books are competing theories on nutrition. Some are diet-specific. Some are cookbooks. Some are personal stories of cancer survivors.

I can tell you a couple key things I’ve learned from all the reading.

  • Added sugars and artificial sugars are MEGA bad for you, as in they ping the same place in the brain as heroine and cocaine.
  • Processed foods are linked to all kinds of health issues i.e. cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, autism, etc.
  • Dark leafy greens are the superheros of the vegetable world.
  • Berries are the best fruits because they are high in antioxidants and have a lower glycemic index than other fruits.
  • Fats are not the enemy. Your brain runs on good fats like avocado, coconut oil, MTC oil, olive oil.
  • What you eat affects the microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. This is part of emerging science, but studying the gut will become mainstream in the very near future because gut health is linked to your immune system.
  • Knowing where your food comes from let’s you have more control over what goes into it.
  • Diet is a loaded word, in my opinion. Keto, paleo, vegetarian, whatever. It’s about how you feel. Once you’ve done your research and gain some understand of how food is sourced, processed, etc., you should use different diets as guidelines, not the word. Each body is different. It needs different things based on each person’s genetic makeup, microbiome, stressors and disease. Experiment until you find what works for you.

Books I’ve loved so far:

Books in the queue:

It’s not a fine science. It’s just research. What makes sense to us might not make sense to you. It may not be for you, and that’s ok. You can find what is for you.

Resource No. 3: Weekly Grocery Shopping

“Let food be thy medicine.”

It’s an ancient proverb. Food is powerful. It can build you up or tear you down. What you put in is a direct reflection of what you get out. So I challenge you to make good choices each week.

Cook at home.

Eat those veggies.

Cut back on the starch.

Please, please limit your added sugar intake. It really is in everything so read your labels. Check those ingredient lists.

Be an advocate for yourself. Vote with your dollars on the products that fuel your health. On the brands that are transparent.

Companies and brands I trust as of right now:

Resource No. 4: Overhaul Your Products

I wrote about this once before, but it’s just so important I had to say it again. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. There is very little regulation on what chemicals can be used in the products you use every day.

Go watch Stink! on Netflix. Then, let’s talk. Because, girl, I’ll tell you what is happening ain’t right. No, ma’am.

Companies and Brands I trust with what I know/research/info available right now:

Note: None of these companies, brands, authors, etc. asked me to endorse their products or work. I did not get compensated for this post. These are the things that have worked for us so far, and I hope you find it helpful.

Keto-Friendly Hot Italian Sausage, Spinach Ricotta Lasagna

I’ve had a craving for lasagna. It’s been bugging me for weeks. With Brad and I not eating any form of gluten, traditional noodles were out. Luckily, I found Cappello’s lasagna noodles at Natural Grocers.

I’ve said it before, but these noodles are game-changing. We’ve had several dishes with the Cappello’s noodles lately, but this one takes the proverbial cake. I’ll go ahead and be honest. This recipe takes a lot of steps. Mostly, because I made everything from scratch. You don’t have to do that, but it sure does make it extra special.

I saved this recipe creation for the weekend so I had plenty of time to let the sauce simmer. I promise you it is worth it. So let’s get started with the first part, which is mixing up your own spicy Italian sausage.

For the Homemade Spicy Italian Sausage

Ingredients needed to make the Spicy Italian Sauage

What you need:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients. You can use this to make meatballs, patties or whatever. For this dish, I cooked it like ground beef.

For the Marinara Sauce

What you need:

  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, while you sauté the sausage mixture with one diced onion.

Sautéing homemade Italian sausage mixture with onions

Once the sausage and onion mixture is cooked, add it to the marinara sauce to create a homemade meat sauce.

spicy Italian sausage marinara sauce on the stove

Simmer the sauce for around an hour so the flavors can meld together. This will give you time to prep the Spinach Ricotta mixture for the lasagna.

For the Spinach Ricotta mixture

What you need:

  • 1 container for whole milk Ricotta
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • Salt, to taste
spinach ricotta mixture in a mixing bowl

First, remove all the water from the spinach. I lined a bowl with several layers of paper towels, but you could also use a dish towel, to soak up water. Squeeze the spinach in the paper towel until all water is removed. Add the spinach to the ricotta cheese, and season with salt.

Assemble the lasagna.

Lasagna assembly showing all ingredients

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

First layer of the lasagna with sauce, noodles and spinach ricotta mixture

Start with a little olive oil and sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, and then add a layer of spinach ricotta mixture. Continue the layers until you run out of ingredients. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Finish lasagna ready to go in the oven

Bake for 20 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Lasagna in a casserole dish

Once you take it out of the oven, let it cool for 15 minutes. I know it’s hard, but it makes it easier to cut. Plus, you won’t burn your mouth so you can really enjoy it.

Lasagna with a slice taken out showing all the individual layers

But would you look at those layers. Oh. My. Goodness. It was the best lasagna I’ve ever made. Pretty spicy, but the ricotta made it creamy and helped cut the heat.

We have a good amount of leftovers, but it won’t make it long. We both had heaping plates, and Brad even talked about going back for more. He even requested this dish for his birthday supper next weekend. So looks like I will be making it again soon.

Sausage and Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner

I keep a variety of things in the freezer and fridge for emergency meals. That can be when we are completely out of fresh produce or I forgot to thaw out meat, but I always have something on hand to throw together a healthy, balanced dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.

Insert sheet pan dinners.

I try to always keep some kind of sausage in the fridge. Usually, it is an apple chicken sausage I get from Walmart, but lately I’ve been getting an apple gouda sausage from Natural Grocers. Both are delicious and serve the purpose I need, which is get dinner ready quickly.

The reason I love sheet pan dinners is because you can use whatever you have in the fridge, and it always turns out delicious.

Sheet pan of roasted asparagus, delicate squash, onion and sausage fresh out of the oven

I encourage you to make one for yourself. Experiment with different veggies and spices. This one was fairly simple, but I did have one secret ingredient that I can guarantee you will make your sheet pan dinner a success.

What you need:

  • 2 sausages (your favorite brand and flavor), sliced into rounds
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 onion, diced into large chunks
  • 1 delicata squash, seeds removed and chopped
  • A drizzle of avocado oil
  • Seasoning of choice: I used salt, pepper and garlic powder in this one
  • Secret ingredient: 6 small dollops of bacon grease scattered around the pan

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep the veggies and sausage, and place on a parchment lined baking dish. Drizzle with oil and seasonings. Go easy on the salt since the bacon grease will add a nice amount of saltiness.

Bake for 12 minutes and stir around. Bake for 12 more minutes.

Roasted sausage, asparagus, delicata squash and onion with kraut and Dijon mustard on a blue plate

Serve hot with a side of Bubbie’s Kraut and your favorite mustard. We used Dijon, but also like spicy brown mustard.

The beautiful thing about sheet pan dinners is the ability to use whatever you have on hand. I make these at least once a week, but it is hardly ever the same one twice. Get creative and enjoy yourself. It’s so easy and turns out perfect every time.