First Trimester Recap

Hi Friends! Thank you so much for sharing in our excitement over the news that we’re having a baby boy! Everything just feels so much more REAL now. What’s more, I *think* I’m starting to feel some movement in there. It’s so different from what I thought it would feel like and it’s pretty soft so far. It doesn’t feel like kicks, exactly, but it’s more like flips or turns or twitches. Twice this week, the movements have actually made me jump! It’s so cool! I especially can’t wait until we can feel them on the outside!

Anyway…I’ve had this post ready to go for ages now and I’m finally getting around to publishing it. At 22 weeks, I’m more than halfway through the second trimester and the pregnancy (!!), but I still wanted to share my first trimester experiences. I also want to mention that by no means are any of these symptoms I describe below complaints. I couldn’t be happier to experience each and every one of them. I’m just so fascinated by how pregnancy affects the body in so many different ways (and yet so many women experience similar things). Plus, I love reading about others’ experiences. So here it goes!

In early July, the very same day we found out I was pregnant, Robert learned he’d be working on a client located in Louisville, KY starting immediately. That meant he’d be traveling every Monday (sometimes Sunday) through Friday until at least September. What timing, right? At first I was really bummed about him being gone during this time. Now, with the experience of the first trimester behind us, I can say that if Robert had to be away for one trimester I’m glad it was the first. Here’s why:

Fatigue Within about one week of finding out I was pregnant, I became SO tired all the time. I’ve never known fatigue like that before (I have a feeling I’ll become all too familiar with it once babykins is here). I’d heard the first trimester really takes it out of you and that’s no joke. I found myself planted on the couch by 4 or 5pm most days, counting the hours until it seemed acceptable to go to bed. In other words, I wasn’t exactly the most fun to be around. I took quite a few naps, sometimes two or three per day on weekends. Quite impressive for someone who’s typically a terrible napper.

One of my favorite napping buddies

One of my favorite napping buddies

Food aversions/cravings The other thing that made his traveling during this time not so bad (as much as I missed him) is that meal prep became nonexistent. My lack of energy and bizarre appetite—I’d be hungry, but nothing sounded good to me—made it tough to make any real meals, especially in the evening. I had some cravings such as fruit and carbs (more on that below). I also had some aversions, especially to soft foods like eggs, avocado, fish, and slowly cooked meats, which explains why I abandoned the Whole30 right away. Plus, I wanted to be sure baby is exposed to all kinds of foods in there. I also couldn’t stomach the taste or smell of coffee, which is normally one of my favorite things in the world. By the end of my first trimester it started to appeal to me again, but I try to limit myself to about three or four cups per week now. As for classic cravings like pickles, that never hit me. I definitely had hankerings for pizza and pancakes, but I crave those foods normally anyway : )

Other symptoms I experienced…

Nausea When it comes to morning/all-day sickness, I think I got off pretty easy. I definitely had bouts of nausea (I still do every few days), but I never got sick. I’m not sure if that’s because it wasn’t that bad or because working from home meant I was able to immediately eat something if it was due to hunger, pop a ginger chew (love the ones from Trader Joe’s), drink a ginger ale, or lie down if needed. But to be perfectly honest, as yucky as nausea is, I was happy for it. I’d feel terrible and ecstatic at the same time. It was a welcomed reminder that there was really a baby in there and it was doing what it was supposed to do.

Fear I am a worrier through and through so I probably shouldn’t be surprised at how afraid I was that something bad would happen. But I was terrified. I wish I could’ve had an ultrasound every single day to check on baby (still do, but I’ve been much better about managing my fear lately). I almost caved a few times and wanted to buy an at-home fetal heart monitor so we could listen to baby’s heartbeat for reassurance, but as soon as I thought about how I’d feel if I couldn’t find it (they can be very tricky to find/distinguish from your own pulse), I decided against it. Probably a smart move. Without going into too much TMI detail, I also had a subchorionic hemorrhage (Google at your own risk..) that appeared around week six. Although my doctor assured me it wouldn’t affect the baby, it was extremely scary for many weeks. Fortunately, it appeared to be resolved by our 20 week ultrasound and everything looks healthy–thank goodness.

So those were my big symptoms: Fatigue, nausea, and fear. I also had terrible skin breakouts and could cry at the drop of a hat. Robert’s been keeping a list of quotes I’ve said throughout the pregnancy and one of them was, “I feel like I have to cry, but I have nothing to cry about.” Ha.

Here are some of the things (mostly foods/beverages…because of course) that I couldn’t get enough of during the first trimester:

FRUIT! I craved ALL THE FRUIT ALL THE TIME. Happily, in July and August all the good stuff was in season!

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Cereal. I joke that the first trimester turned me into a teenage boy. All I did was sleep and eat cereal. A few times I woke up in the middle of the night starving and would eat a big bowl of cereal and then go back to bed. (Somehow I didn’t gain any weight in the first trimester. I don’t seem to have any problems packing it on now, though…) I tried to stick with healthier, whole-grain, organic choices, but I also had my fair share of Honey Bunches of Oats, Crispix, and Raisin Bran.

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Instacart. It’s not a food, but a service. And I don’t know how I would’ve gotten by without it. With Instacart, you pick out your groceries online and they go to the store (including Whole Foods!), get the groceries for you, and deliver them to your house. Normally, I LOVE grocery shopping (fortunately, I’m back to doing it again), but the combination of exhaustion and nausea made it difficult to do. Side note: any situation where there was A LOT of food, like the grocery store, made me queasy - I couldn’t even look at Pinterest or Instagram for most of the first trimester because of the onslaught of food. All of that combined with a husband out of town and no family nearby made Instacart my BFF.

Oatmeal & anything toasted with peanut butter. This is my classic pre-ski breakfast in the winter, but I was craving it even when it was 90-plus degrees outside. Also: Toasted cinnamon raisin bagels with peanut butter. My parents brought me some bagels when they visited in August (I was 11 weeks then) because you just can’t get a decent bagel outside of New York, amIright? One of my first pregnancy purchases was a toaster because we didn’t own one before. Now I use it all the time!

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Whole Foods REAL ginger ale. For nausea, this stuff works WAY better than the kind in the green bottle. I still make sure to always have a few on hand just in case.

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Iced tea & lemonade. A Starbucks unsweetened iced black tea lemonade became my favorite drink in the world especially since I was off of coffee for a while.IMG_5508

Protein Bar Superfood Vegan Salad with Chicken. I had at least one, sometimes two of these per week. They’re not cheap so it was a total splurge (not to mention about a 10 to 15 minute drive from our home). For most of the first trimester, vegetables (cooked or raw) rarely appealed to me, but for some reason I could always stomach one of these salads. They made me feel slightly better about not consuming as many vegetables as I wished I could.

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Turkey and Fig Panini

Turkey & Fig Panini

My parents have a friend who has a recipe box filled with sandwich recipes. They go something like this: Take two slices of bread and spread with mustard. Add ham and Swiss cheese. Cut in half and eat. I always got a kick out of this guy because, I mean, who needs a recipe to make a sandwich?

Except here I am now posting a recipe for a sandwich. But…BUT…consider this more inspiration than a recipe because you can use any quantities you like and switch up the ingredients however you see fit. It would just be wrong for me not to share it with you.

The inspiration came from a wedding we attended two weekends ago in Kansas City where they had a panini bar during cocktail hour. How cool is that? I’ve been obsessed with paninis pretty much since then. While cold cuts aren’t recommended when you’ve got a bun in the oven (and I’d avoided them up until that point), the turkey, fig, and mozzarella panini looked way too delicious to pass up. So I hoped for the best and shoveled those things in as quickly as the panini guy served them up (sorry, other guests). Fortunately, I lived to tell about it–and make them on my own!

To avoid eating cold cuts this time (though you can absolutely use them!) I roasted a turkey breast the night before and served a mini thanksgiving with mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, and roasted beets. But the real reason for all of that effort was just so I could make this sandwich the next day. True story. It’s all about the leftovers, isn’t it? And oh man, was it ever worth it.

Gooey, melty mozzarella combined with sweet fig butter (find it at Trader Joe’s!), crisp spinach (you know me–always finding a way to add some greens), all smooshed together on toasty, golden whole wheat bread. I just used a regular loaf from the grocery store, but you can fancy this up with any kind of bakery bread. Pop this baby into a panini maker or George Foreman grill. But if you’re like me and don’t have either one just use a cast iron skillet with a heavy pan pressed on top (instructions below). It totally worked! As soon as I sunk my teeth into the very first bite I was already plotting when I’d be having my next sandwich (lunch today, duh). You’ll definitely want to make this when you’re drowning in leftover turkey later this month–if you can wait that long!

Turkey & Fig Panini

Makes 1 Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or any bread of choice)
  • Fig butter
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • Roasted turkey or chicken (cold cuts are fine, too). If you use roasted, though, heat it up a little before to help the cheese melt
  • Small handful of spinach, arugula, or other leafy green (optional)
  • Pat of butter

Preparation:

Prep the sandwich: Smear a generous amount of fig butter on one side of each slice of the bread. Place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of the fig butter on each slice of bread. On one of the slices add the turkey and then spinach. Top with the other slice of bread to form a sandwich.

Use a panini maker or George Foreman grill and cook until desired degree of tastiness.

If using a cast iron skillet: Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Melt a small pat of butter (less than 1 Tbsp). Place the sandwich on the skillet. Place the bottom of another pan on top of the sandwich. Apply pressure, if needed. Cook about 2-4 minutes, until bottom slice is golden brown, being careful not to burn. Use a spatula to flip the sandwich over and cook the second side, again with the pan stacked on top, another 2-4 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

Baby Fowler is a….

boy_edited-2Robert and I couldn’t be happier to share with you that we’re expecting a baby boy! We are thrilled beyond words. The idea of a little Robert running around just makes my heart burst. I hope he’s as kind, curious, smart, patient, and funny as his dad.

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Most importantly, we are so grateful that everything at our 20-week ultrasound appeared healthy and on track with our little guy. He was so active the entire time and we were lucky that he was very cooperative so the sonographer could capture every view and measurement she needed.

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Thanks to the happy news that all appears well and finding out that we’re having a boy, I’ve pretty much been on cloud nine since last Thursday. I even felt his very first kick this Saturday. It felt like a flick in my lower belly and I haven’t been able to feel anything again since then, but I can’t wait until his movements become more frequent and noticeable.

After our appointment last week I could think of no better way to celebrate (or satisfy my hunger…omg I was so hungry) than with a delicious donut! It was the first donut I’ve had in YEARS and wow was it good. I’ll never forget this moment of joy captured below. It has so much more to do with the happiness I felt in my heart than the taste of the buttermilk glazed Do-Rite donut (though that certainly didn’t hurt).

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Now bring on the blue!!!! I can’t wait to be parents to our little baby boy in March!

Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesHappy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. Did you do anything fun? Robert and I had a few adventures, but my favorite was a three-hour long intro to pottery class we took Saturday night. Um, did you know that using a potter’s wheel (is that even what it’s called?) is super hard? It took us a while to get the hang of it and learn how to keep the clay from flying off. It was so fun to get our hands dirty and pick up a new skill. We’re still total beginners, but Robert was quite good at it! We’re lucky that the place we went to is within walking distance to our house so we could definitely go again.

Okay….cookie time!!! What better way to start off the week, right? Now, if I’m posting a pumpkin recipe on here then you know it has to be great. There are approximately 10 billion pumpkin recipes floating around out there (not to mention the 10 billion pumpkin products currently available at Trader Joe’s) that I wouldn’t bother adding another one unless it was really, truly superb. And these are!

Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesLike most pumpkin-based goods they’re a cakier confection and I love them for it. I’m a huge fan of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and these are a seasonal version of my favorite recipe.

I especially love sticking these in the freezer once they’ve cooled and snacking on them straight from there. The cookies become extra chewy and the chocolate chips have just the right amount of bite. You just can’t beat it. I highly recommend keeping a batch of these on hand to satisfy your pumpkin cravings for as long as they last. If that’s until springtime I certainly won’t judge you for it!

Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, add flours, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and whisk to combine.

Add dry ingredient mixture to pumpkin mixture in two to three batches and mix until all ingredients are combined. Add oats and chocolate chips and mix until combined.

Drop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes and remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

 

Journey to Baby on SHAPE.com

Hi friends. I’m jumping on here this morning to tell you about a piece I wrote for SHAPE.com. It’s  about our journey to baby. We learned a lot along the way and couldn’t be more grateful for where we are today. The article on SHAPE.com is the most personal piece I’ve ever written and my first essay that’s ever been published. #cuepanicattack

Part of me wants to pretend I didn’t write it and let it go as unnoticed as possible. Considering the fact that it’s already received a whole bunch of shares, I guess that’s not going to happen.

The truth is, as a writer, I feel a certain responsibility to share what I’ve learned with the hope that it could make a difference for someone else. Of course, everyone’s experience is completely different and most women will never face some of the challenges that I did. Still, the statistics show I’m not alone.

So while I’m pretty nervous about strangers, friends, and relatives (eek!) reading about this uberpersonal stuff (and talking about things like menstrual cycles and mittelschmerz…) if it helps or informs one person then to me it’s worth it.

Check it out on SHAPE.com if you desire. And stay tuned for my first trimester recap coming soon!

Chicken Sausage Vegetable Soup

Chicken Sausage Vegetable SoupOh, this soup! I just can’t get enough. And isn’t it so colorful? It began as a clean out the kitchen meal a week ago: Half an onion, some remaining carrots and celery, potatoes from our CSA, half a bag of spinach, chicken broth and tomatoes from the pantry (I try to keep them stocked)…But as soon as I tasted it I knew it was something special and already couldn’t wait to make it again.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do just that this week. Our friends Mallery and Dave recently had a baby (she’s so cute!) and I had planned to bring them dinner one night. Before Mallery was due I asked her if they had any allergies, aversions, or preferences. She said that since they wouldn’t be cooking as much they’d probably be in need of some veggies. Soup seemed like an ideal solution since you can cram as many vegetables in there as your heart desires. Plus, it provides plenty of leftovers so it’s like delivering several meals in one.

Chicken Sausage Vegetable Soup

This soup contains a secret ingredient that I believe elevates it above your run-of-the-mill pot of soup: White wine! (Not to worry, it cooks off.) After browning the sausage really well, add about 1/4 cup of white wine to the pot and use a wooden spoon to deglaze all of that delicious goodness from the bottom. There’s no other way to capture a level of flavor quite like that. Trust me!

Normally, I only have two taste testers when trying a new recipe: me and Robert. This time, I was lucky enough to get Mal and Dave’s opinion and I think they loved it as much as we did. A few hours after delivering the soup, she sent a text saying , “The soup is amazing! Can you send me the recipe? It’s going in my permanent rotation!”

I’d call that a win!

Chicken Sausage Vegetable Soup

Ingredients 

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken sausage (I used spicy chicken sausage). Leave the casing on, slice each sausage vertically in half and then slice horizontally into bite-sized half moon pieces.
  • 1/4 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 big handfuls baby spinach (about 3 oz)
  • 1 to 2 cups water, if needed
  • Salt to taste, if needed

Preparation

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage to a bowl and set aside.

Pour white wine into pot and use a wooden spoon to deglaze bottom of the pan. Add more wine, if needed, until all browned bits are scraped from the bottom. To the pot, add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is softened and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add celery and carrots and sauté until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes more.

Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and potatoes. Add sausage back to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 20 to 30 minutes. If you feel like too much liquid has cooked off, add 1 to 2 cups of water. Before serving, add spinach and stir until wilted. Add salt to taste, if needed.

 

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Slow cooker applesauceWow. I just want to say a huge THANK YOU for your happy wishes after our big announcement last week! I was so nervous about sharing the news. There were a few high-pitched squeals followed by a jig around 6 a.m. when I hit “publish.” Later this week I’ll be sharing a first trimester recap post. But today, I’m so excited to share with you my new favorite thing: Slow cooker applesauce!

If you’ve never made homemade applesauce before, it far exceeds anything you could buy in a store. The taste, the texture, the color—there’s just nothing like it! Until last week I’d always made homemade applesauce on the stove, cooking apples in a little water until they were soft enough to put through the food mill. Then, it occurred to me that using the slow cooker could mean I wouldn’t have to stand over the stove. Happily, it worked like a charm and will be my go-to method from now on.Slow cooker applesauce

For the recipe below I recommend using a food mill. Although there aren’t that many uses for it, I highly recommend acquiring this kitchen gadget. {I imagine it’ll also come in handy when I start making baby food—I can’t wait for that!} Funny side note: The two kitchen tools Robert contributed to our relationship are a food mill and an immersion blender. The man loves his pureed foods!

If you don’t have a food mill, this recipe will still work. You’ll just need to peel and core the apples before quartering them and dumping them into the slow cooker. The reason I prefer to use the food mill, though, is because you get that beautiful pinkish color from cooking the apples with their skins. I promise it’ll still be delish no matter which method you use {instructions for both are below.}

Slow cooker applesauce

There are so many applesauce recipes on the Internet that call for sugar or butter. That BAH-LOWS my mind because you don’t need anything except apples, cinnamon, and a little water. I have a mega sweet tooth and I guarantee homemade applesauce is sweet enough on its own. I just love this stuff. After cooling the applesauce in the fridge, I packaged it into Ball jars and then froze most of them. We still have two GIANT bags of apples from our apple picking adventure in Michigan a few weeks ago, so I’m sure I’ll be making more batches in the coming weeks.

One more note: The recipe doesn’t contain exact measurements because it depends on the size of your slow cooker and how cinnamon-y you like your applesauce to be. We’re huge cinnamon fans so I sprinkle the stuff pretty liberally. The great news is you can taste as you go to determine a level that makes your taste buds happy.Slow cooker applesauce

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Ingredients

  • A mix of any kind of apples, quartered. If using a food mill, leave the skins on. Use as many as you think will fit into your slow cooker. If you don’t have a food mill, peel and core your apples first.
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 to 1 cup of water, depending on the size of your slow cooker. I have a 6.5 quart slow cooker and used about 1 cup of water. If you have a standard 4 quart size slow cooker, I’d recommend about ½ to ¾ cup of water.
  • Ground cinnamon

Preparation 

With a food mill:

Add apples (unpeeled, uncored, and quartered), cinnamon stick(s), and water to slow cooker. The apples can go all the way to the top as long as the lid fits securely on. Cook on low for 4 hours. Lift lid and stir with a wooden spoon. Apples should break down easily when you stir.

Place food mill over a heat-safe bowl and ladle some apples and liquid into the food mill. Turn to make applesauce. You may need to empty the food mill of skin, seeds, and core into the trash a few times while making the applesauce. Continue this process until your slow cooker is empty.

Taste applesauce and add some ground cinnamon, about 1 tsp at a time, until you find a level of cinnamonness that you enjoy!

Without a food mill:

Add apples (peeled, cored, and quartered), cinnamon stick(s), and water to slow cooker. The apples can go all the way to the top as long as the lid fits securely on. Cook on low for 4 hours. Lift lid and stir with a wooden spoon. Apples should break down easily when you stir.

Pour contents of slow cooker into a blender, in batches, or use an immersion blender until you achieve desired consistency.

Taste applesauce and add some ground cinnamon, about 1 tsp at a time, until you find a level of cinnamonness that you enjoy!