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The Fit and Fluffy Momma

embracing my 'fluff' while finding my 'fit'

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Our Allergy Friendly Dinner Menu - Week of 5/14/18

Thought I'd start sharing some of our allergy-friendly meals for anyone interested! Here's what our dinners looking like this week (some recipes listed on Recipes page):

When Everyday Foods Become Your Enemy... The Invisible Special Need

It comes pretty naturally for (most) people to be understanding when it comes to visible special needs. But when it’s something they can’t see, especially when it’s something that they are unfamiliar with, it can be really difficult for some people to wrap their head around. They might ask questions, they might understand, they might be kind enough to try to help… they might be confused, they might look at you like you’re crazy, they might make rude comments, they might give you their “opinion” where there really is no place for one.

And when you’re a parent of a child with a special need that people can’t see, one that turns ordinary situations into life-threatening ones for your child, everyday life can be pretty terrifying at times.

That’s what it feels like raising a child with severe food allergies.

Food is everywhere that people are. E V E R Y W H E R E. When you really think about it, food is the thing that many people look most forward to at events or gatherings. We get together with people and go out to eat. We have parties planned around the foods that we will serve. People come over and we want to feed them. We visit people and they want to feed us. Wherever I take my kids, the first thing people want to do is offer them a treat. People love FOOD! They love to give it, they love to receive it, they love to share it, they love to eat it. No wonder food is freaking everywhere!

And that is why we need more food allergy awareness.

(Continued on Sarasota Moms Blog)

Dear Exhausted Mom...

Dear Exhausted Mom,

When you look in the mirror and see wrinkles, tired eyes, post-childbearing "fluff," and stretch marks... I hope you remember all the moments that created them. And I hope you see them for what they truly are. Priceless.

Those wrinkles were earned, each crease with it's own story...

...the sleep that has been sacrificed from countless nights of cries and needs from your little ones. 

...the inescapable worry and endless prayers for things beyond your control. 

...watching your child face challenges that you've never known, and accepting that you can't do anything to take those challenges away. 

...the unlimited sacrifices, tears, and emotional roller coasters along the way.

But also...

...the joys.

...the laughter.

...the pride in watching your child reach new heights and overcome those challenges.

...the answered prayers.

...the peace that you would never have imagined in the unanswered prayers. Because it's a true test of faith when you have to "let go and let God" during hard times in your child's life.

Your face no longer belongs to that of a woman who has only to care for herself. It now belongs to a mother, a woman responsible for the life and care of another human being. And the meaning behind that is endless. The responsibility, tremendous. The value, priceless. 

Next time you look in the mirror, I hope that you see what your children see. Because they don't see wrinkles and flaws. They see the true beauty and strength that can only come from a mother's love. A love that begins in the heart and paints a picture over time with beautiful lines and brush strokes... a picture that may only reveal itself to those who deserve to see it. 

Be thankful for the woman that you see in the mirror. Because she is amazing.

From my momma heart to yours,

Kristin

Please Stop Telling Me I Don't "Need" to Workout...

…because oh YES, I do. And for reasons far more important than weight loss, clothing sizes, or physical appearance.

I think we all say it to each other from time to time, with good intentions:

“Why do you work out so much? You’re not overweight.” “Girl you don’t need to work out!” “Are you trying to lose weight? I wish I was your size!”

No no no no no. NO!

We’re sending the wrong message when we say these things, and we are missing the point when we think that it’s all about outer appearance.

First of all, we need to stop comparing. The comparison happens in an instant, right before the words fly out of our mouths. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me I don’t need to work out, it immediately makes me uncomfortable. I start to feel the need to tell them about my cellulite and imperfections that they might not be able to notice. I start to pick myself apart, and that is an unhealthy thing to do. If someone makes a comment about being heavier than me, I feel guilty for the whole conversation (that I didn’t even start) because I don’t want them to compare themselves to anyone else...

Continue reading at https://sarasota.citymomsblog.com/health-and-fitness/please-stop-telling-dont-need-workout/.

Some of our FAVORITE Allergy-Friendly Food Brands

When people learn of the food allergies in our home, it's often followed with, "So what DO you guys eat?" or, "I could never live without such and such." 

I remember thinking similarly, and not knowing how we were going to learn to eat differently than we were. Over time though, we've figured it out, with a LOT of help from some amazing allergy-friendly brands. 

Here are some of our favorite pre-packaged allergy-friendly items. I only share these because they are seriously good! 

 

BFree Rolls & Wraps! 

I can't even begin to describe how awesome it is to have real bread and wraps that are both vegan AND gluten-free! There are plenty of gluten-free options out there, but all the ones I have found before have egg in them. So this brand became an immediate favorite when I discovered it.

 

Just. by Hampton Creek 

It IS possible to have vegan mayo and ranch that actually TASTES like mayo and ranch! I was sure that life just wasn't going to be the same because I'd never taste regular mayo or ranch again (I kid, I kid... I totally eat it when I'm not home... shhhhhh!) But seriously, this stuff is amazing. Even if you're not vegan or have allergies, you should try it.

 

Silk and So Delicious Coconut Milk and Coffee Creamer

Between the two brands, So Delicious is definitely my favorite. But Silk is awesome for coconut and almond milks. The So Delicious vanilla coffee creamer is ah-may-zing! Can't even tell it's coconut milk creamer when it's in your coffee. I've only had the vanilla flavor so I can't speak for the others, but I'm happy with the vanilla so I'm sticking to it.

 

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative

Oh. Em. Gee. SO DELICIOUS! I've tried soy yogurt and almond yogurt from other brands, and they grossed me out so bad I couldn't even eat them. This coconut milk yogurt is the best - better than regular yogurt in my opinion (and I love yogurt!).

 

 

Van's Waffles

Plain or blueberry. Both awesome. I like to eat them with peanut butter, but of course if you're dealing with a nut allergy some good ol' vegan butter (which I forgot to include in this post, but Earth's Balance is the best - tastes like real butter) and pure maple syrup is terrific.

 

 

 

 

Daiya Pizza and Cheeze

Pizza for gluten-free vegans does exist! And it doesn't suck!! Does it taste like regular pizza? No. I'll be honest about that. But that doesn't mean it isn't good and doesn't make for a fun pizza party. My nieces said it tastes like spaghetti. I disagree, but I didn't care because they actually seemed to like it.

And the cheeze shreds are perfect for tacos! Comes in mozzarella, cheddar, and pepperjack style. 

 

Ian's Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets and kids. Need I say more? Oh, my husband loves them too. ;) 

 

Salad Dressings

These brands also have some dressings that are not allergy-friendly, but these two are SO good. Follow Your Heart vegan honey mustard and Tessamae's zesty ranch.

 

 

 

And now for some TREATS! 

Enjoy Life

The. Best. Baking ingredients. EVER! The chocolate chips taste like real chocolate chips, the soft baked cookies are amazing, and their brownie mix is unbelievable.  They also have these snack bar things that come in s'mores and cinnamon bun flavors that are awesome too.

 

 

 

So Delicious (again)

Ok, now these ones I can't say enough good stuff about. I prefer this ice cream to regular ice cream, and I don't have food allergies! And the cocowhip is just as good as regular whipped cream. I've tried the squeeze can of vegan whipped cream (I can't remember the brand) but it was absolutely disgusting. If you're looking for a whipped cream replacement, beware. I'm not sure who actually eats that other stuff, but THIS stuff is SO good.

 

Dandies Marshmallows

Better than regular marshmallows. Don't believe me? Try them. You'll never go back. I ate a regular marshmallow after eating these and it tasted weird. Like chemical weird. I can't explain it, but I dare you to try it.

Special Holiday Treat - So Delicious Holiday Nog
 
Ok. this is not a favorite. BUT, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tastes like egg nog! In small doses, for me anyway. Now I've always loved egg nog. Even when I was a kid and the other kids didn't like it, I remember always loving egg nog. But there is no way that I'm bringing it in my home now, so I had to try this one and was pretty happy with it. Again, I tried another brand before and it was a no-go. This is it for me. :)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So back to the question what do we eat? A lot of yummy things. :) But we certainly don't live off of the items on this list (in case you're wondering). There are plenty of allergy-friendly recipes out there that don't require wheat, dairy, eggs, or nuts. Just a simple salad, meat and veggies, chicken and rice, pasta (that's one thing I forgot to include above), etc. And there are definitely more items not listed above that are our go-to allergy-friendly brands. I'll share them and update the list as I can. 
 
And to my fellow food allergy friends out there, feel free to share what your favorite brands are!
 
XOXO ~Kristin

A lesson from my kids about bravery...

Ever learn more from a lesson you give your kids than they do?

Me too.

Yesterday my son asked me to pray that he would be brave. I told him yes of course, but also told him that bravery isn’t always something you have. I told him that bravery is often being afraid but choosing to do something anyway, even in the face of fear.

In that conversation I realized that I have been letting fear control me in ways I didn’t even know. I was so blinded and paralyzed by fear in a certain area of my life that I couldn’t even see it for what it was. I had tried putting a different name and face on it. But it was still just what it was - nothing but pure ugly, destructive, controlling fear.

I’ve heard and said the exact words that I said to my son a hundred times before. But they took on new meaning for me yesterday.

Bravery is a choice, not a feeling. Sometimes our giants are not what we think they are. But I’m learning more and more that no matter how alone I feel, I’m not. Whatever comes my way, whatever happens in my life and my family’s, has to pass through my Heavenly Father’s hands first. He will never leave me, He will never forsake me, even if I try to turn my back on Him or even myself.

Sometimes He calls us to be brave when we least expect it, when we think He “should” provide a way OUT instead of a way THROUGH. But I have to believe that there is a greater purpose for the journey. 

Our Allergy-Friendly Thanksgiving Menu

Well, I had previously posted the links to recipes that I was making for our allergy-friendly Thanksgiving meal, but just accidentally deleted the post. Grrrrr.

So here is an updated list. I didn't make the biscuits after all so that recipe is not here. And a couple of the recipes I had to change and do my own thing, so those are up on my recipe page. This is the final menu of what we enjoyed, FREE of all allergens in our home! (which was the BEST feeling of all!)

And for dessert...

Everything really turned out great! Better than I expected actually (except the fried onions on the green bean casserole... those were a little "well done"). This is definitely going to become a tradition for us, regardless of how many other gatherings we are attending. Having a stress-free feast for our little family was more enjoyable and relaxing than I thought it would be. I cooked all day long, all by myself, and it felt therapeutic in a way. This was my son's first real holiday meal, and everything was safe for him to eat. He only ate a few bites of it before asking for a sandwich, but I honestly didn't even care. It was enough to know that we could relax, that he could eat it if he wanted to, and it was how I remember holidays feeling before food allergies.

A season of blessings and loneliness...

I didn’t want to share that I was reading this book, because it exposes my vulnerability. But I figured if Lysa TerKeurst is brave enough to write it and pour her heart out, and if it’s a bestseller meaning that there must be a LOT of other women out there also reading it, then I can share the fact that I am too in hopes of helping someone else dealing with the same struggles to discover this book. 

If I had to sum up this past year in 2 words, those words would be “blessed” and “lonely.”

I don’t want to take away from the fact that I am so blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be home during the week to homeschool my kids. I’ve prayed for this since my daughter was teeny tiny. We have had an amazing time attending a ton of field trips and meet ups with other local homeschool families, and we’ve really been blessed with all of the opportunity that has come with me being able to leave my full time job and be home during the week. 

However, I have never felt more lonely in my life. A little background... when my husband and I got married, I was working 2 jobs, always surrounded by people. I quit my part time job 2 months before my daughter was born and became a full-time working mom, which lasted for 7 1/2 years. 

Between work and home demands, I felt like I rarely had time for anything in between. And meeting new people, or even seeing the friends I did have outside of work, was a rare occurrence. But friends at work were always there, I could depend on that. I would look forward to seeing them, sharing stories, having a chat in the break room. I was fortunate to work at a great place with great people, and as much as I wanted this change to be home, I really do miss my old coworkers. 

This new world of being a full time at home momma has been exciting and scary, rewarding and lonely, normal and foreign, all at the same time. And there is much more lonely than I could have imagined. Not only because I am no longer surrounded by people all day, but also because we moved away from everyone we know. So the mommas that I do know who are available during the week are all too far away for us to hang out with now. 

I have always considered myself a “loner,” introverted, shy, all of the basically anti-social descriptions I can think of. But I think I craved alone time more before because I didn’t have any. Like, EVER. Now things are entirely different, and I feel like I’m always alone. (well, with my kids, but you know what I mean) And I am the WORST at meeting new people. The. Worst. I’m working on it though. 

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this book. But one thing I have learned so far is the fact that I have trust issues on levels that I didn’t realize. Trust issues that separate me from people and from God. 

I’m not even halfway through this book but I already see it being a great tool in getting through this lonely season. Because it is just a season, I believe a growing season, and I look forward to what’s on the other side. 

Holiday and Food Allergies... When Anxiety Replaces Joy

Allergy Friendly ThanksgivingYou know the anticipation of holiday gatherings... the family, the friends, the food... the love, the laughter, the beautiful messes... all of the imperfect perfection that is family and togetherness, memory making, and the joy and excitement that comes with it?

Well, food allergies have nearly sucked all of the joy out of my holiday gathering anticipation. 

I hesitate to share my feelings about my son's food allergies because it's just such a downer sometimes but honestly, it's just real life. It's our life, and the lives of many others. So this one's for the parents out there who can relate. 

Holiday gatherings have taken on a whole new set of emotions for me since discovering his allergies. Where there used to be only joy and excitement at the thought of getting together with family for the holidays, anxiety and fear have taken over at the thought of all the foods that threaten his life. And on holidays, that's pretty much everything on our traditional menus. 

I always bring food that he can eat, EVERYWHERE we go, so it's not a matter of whether he can eat it or not. It's the combination of the foods, kids, messes, and chaos that causes my anxiety to take over. What should be sounds of joy - kids laughing and playing and enjoying themselves while digging into turkey and gravy, pie and whipped cream, and everything in between - have become sounds that absolutely terrify me. Did the other kids wash their hands after the last thing they ate? Is there any buttery residue on the truck that he's playing with? Could anyone have accidentally touched his drink with messy hands? Is he going to make a mistake and eat something that he shouldn't? How on EARTH am I supposed to take my eyes off of him when he's surrounded by death traps?! 

And everyone tries. They really, really do. In fact there was a time when I would have trusted foods made by other people if they had assured me they were safe for him. What changed that? More awareness changed that. And awareness comes with time spent living with the child with food allergies.

I realized that someone might accidentally stick the wrong spoon in the allergy-friendly dish (because that's happened).

I realized that some people don't actually know what dairy is, and that it's not just the lactose, so lactose-free is not safe either.

I realized that cross contamination happens too easily.

I realized that someone could accidentally put a wrong ingredient in their allergy-friendly dish that's not actually safe (because I DID that to my poor sister and her family with wheat flour... talk about feeling awful and like a complete moron, especially as someone who lives with food allergies!).

I recently learned that some gluten-free flours have milk powder in them. I mean, what?! It's flour!

Sometimes I feel terrible, even guilty, for carrying around this anxiety. There are so many children out there who are truly suffering on a daily basis. I count my blessings, and I am so very thankful that my son is strong and healthy. But the fears don't dissipate when I focus on the good. They hide in a corner waiting for the perfect moment to pounce back out and attempt to push me over the edge. Sometimes they succeed, and I completely lose my sh*t (which may or may not happen in front of people). And that basically is how I envision holidays now... me shoving my anxiety in a corner until I eventually feel like I'm going to lose it, while my son is running around in the middle of a bunch of death traps. Talk about your holiday joys.

But I decided that something needs to change, so this year I'm making our own Thanksgiving meal at home with ALL allergy-safe foods. We will still go see our families (and I'll still be a nervous wreck), but I'm hoping to start a new tradition for our little family that will help bring back some of the joy in the holiday feast. It will all be gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free, and I am seriously SO excited about figuring out how to make a traditional style allergy-friendly Thanksgiving meal. I'll share all of the recipes that I plan to use in another post for any other allergy families out there looking for ideas (and I'll share how they turn out after I actually make them... fingers crossed it all turns out well haha!).

There is freedom in the fluff...

OH there is FREEDOM in the fluff!

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have abs. Never. It's quite possible that my body is not capable of it, but I don't actually know (and truthfully, I don't actually care).

I may never know if it's in the realm of possibility, because it's never really been a priority for me. Not enough to determine that I have done everything possible and still not have abs. There have been times when I've been doing a strenuous workout program and thought, "It'll be so great when my abs show up!" Then I eat pizza on Friday, because that's what we do. And I eat cake at a birthday party, because that's kind of one of my life rules. Then I eat clean for several days again. Then comes Friday again, and I just don't feel the need to pass on the pizza.

Fitness is not really an issue. I have worked out HARD for good lengths of time. I work out moderately on a regular basis. I hit slumps where I may be doing 3 days a week, but I still workout regularly. I did Insanity Max:30 for the entire 2 months for goodness' sake (minus the last few days because my appendix decided that it needed to come out). Still... no abs. 

The other day I saw the best quote from Sophia Loren that said. "I'd much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero." Yes! Some people can even eat pizza, drink wine, have their cake, and still be a size zero. Not this momma. And this momma enjoys pizza parties with my family on Friday nights and an occasional glass of wine. 

They say abs are made in the kitchen. Well it's not really just about the abs, but overall health in general. I truly believe that it's important to eat clean at least 80% of the time. What's not healthy? Obsessing over eating pizza on Fridays. I'm simply not doing it.

So I am embracing my fluff. Because you know what? I have birthed 2 beautiful children. I have battled a disabling disease. I have been all too familiar with cellulite since I was too young to even know what it was. I have starved myself. I've been afraid to eat anything with fat in it. And by the grace of God, I have overcome. I have even been blessed a husband who, thankfully, does not find abs on women attractive. Coincidence? I don't think so. I think God made him just the way he is for a reason. 

My goal, my mission, is to be strong and healthy. That looks different on everyone. Some women's strong and healthy results in looking like a bikini model. Some women's strong and healthy is still considered "plus size," even though they eat totally healthy and workout regularly. Mine? It's strong with a little bit of fluff. I'll take that over being weak and pizza deprived any day.

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