I suffer from migraines, and along with magnesium supplements I’ve made an effort to eat more foods high in magnesium. I find magnesium-loaded foods to be helpful not only for prevention but to ease the pain during an episode (it may be all in my head, but there’s not one bad thing about a super food like quinoa, my favorite migraine-fighting food). Earlier this week a migraine (thankfully short in duration, about 5 hours) led me to look for a quinoa and red kidney bean recipe. I found this Quinoa and Bean Pilaf recipe on the Food Network and modified it for fun. At first I wanted to prepare it with some lemon pepper chicken, and when I started putting it together realized this is a protein-packed meal all on its own. Below is my version complete with photos. Enjoy, and if you try it would love if you left your thoughts and modifications in the comments.
4 Practical Uses for Coconut Oil
From the kitchen to your skin care routine, there are thousands of uses for coconut oil. It hydrates and moisturizes hair, skin and lips. Coconut oil is a fantastic natural all-over moisturizer (use it like lotion after bathing), and when combined with other ingredients, makes a great base for hair masks and lips scrubs. Here are two recipes to try.
Coconut Oil Hair Mask
- 2 tablespoons Vitacost extra virgin organic coconut oil, then add one or more of the following essential oils depending on your needs:
- 10-20 drops Plant Therapy rosemary essential oil (to stimulate hair growth)
- 3-5 drops Radiance tea tree oil (for dandruff)
- 6-10 drops Aromappeal lavender oil (because it smells fabulous)
- Slather into hair. Make sure to massage your scalp and focus on your roots.
- Leave the mask in your hair for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wear overnight if possible.
- Wash with a mild shampoo and style as usual. This leaves your hair soft, shiny and smooth!
The lip scrub recipe is courtesy of Brandie Gilliam, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Organic Beauty Talk.
Brandie Gilliams’ DIY Lip Scrub Recipe
- 1 tablespoon Nutiva organic coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon all natural raw or organic honey
- 2 teaspoons organic brown sugar (or organic white sugar or coconut flakes)
Mix ingredients. Use a toothbrush or your finger to gently apply to your lips with a back and forth motion. Rinse, pat dry and then condition with a bit of coconut oil for soft smooth lips!
I also use coconut oil on my infant to treat and prevent diaper rash and in a homemade teething oil.
Coconut oil is an easy, affordable and fun way to moisturize your skin, hair and lips. Do you have any coconut oil tips to share?
Image courtesy of Keerati/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
An Obituary for My Cat
Mayor Meowzer Klapp
Mayor Meowzer McDermott Klapp of Meowzerville (formerly Whisker City- yes, that Whisker City) died peacefully at home on December 20, 2013, after a brave battle with rodent poison. He was born in June 2007 in Kent, Ohio and moved to Meowzerville on November 1, 2007. He was elected mayor in 2008 and governed Meowzerville after his re-election in 2012 until his passing. A life-long Democat, the Mayor will best be remembered for his chipmunk population control legislation and his city-wide ban on gluten in cat food. He successfully worked with Republikitties, Sniffertarians, Labratarians, Independepups, and Indepupdents.
Survived by his parents, Mark and Alanna Klapp; his tiny human, Gabe; and his brother from another mother and species, BFF Sniffer dog. He was loved by many friends and constituents and taken from us too soon.
Meowzer arrived on my doorstep at a time in my life when I needed him most, and he must have fulfilled his purpose, as much as that breaks my heart. He was loved by a lot of people, many of whom he’d never met face-to-face. In the end, the best thing you can say about a life, whether it’s a human or pet, is that it was a life filled with love. Rest in peace, little buddy.
Winter Blend Tuna Pasta
Here’s a quick, easy and healthy recipe to whip up before you head out into the holiday frenzy. The inspiration came from the Tuna Pasta recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Energy Food: Energy-Giving Food Solutions to Keep You Fully Charged Throughout the Day, by Beverly le Blanc.
Winter Blend Tuna Pasta
Why Blogs are Like Tattoos
For writers, blogs are like tattoos: once you get one you have to have more. I started The Chipper Writer almost four years ago, and two months later joined the lovely ladies at the Cleveland Browns blog Bitter Orange & Brown. Earlier this year I received an invitation from Judith Manigault, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lingk2us Magazine, to blog for FE Media’s collection of parenting blogs called The Mom (and Dad!) Collective. My blog is called The FTM Chronicles: First-Time-Mom Alanna Klapp’s journey into motherhood and beyond. I hope you’ll stop by and visit and say hello. I’ve written three posts so far (links below), and the fourth post (called “The Preposterous Postpartum Baby Bump Presumption”) is slated for publication on December first. Thanks for reading and have a blessed Thanksgiving!
- 9 Things to Say and Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman (the original version first appeared on this blog at 22 weeks pregnant)
- New Mommy Advice Cards
- Baby Dude & I: The First 60 Days (15 Surprises, Challenges, Endearments & Life Affirmations of Motherhood)
10 Surprising Things I Loved & Loathed About Pregnancy
I’m about two months postpartum as I write this, and lately have found myself reflecting on my pregnancy (not to be confused for missing pregnancy). While I carried my son, I had a lot of friends who told me they hated being pregnant, and I heard from a few who said they loved it. I’m somewhere in the middle. There were definitely parts of pregnancy that made me miserable. Before I got pregnant I thought I’d hate it. But I was pleasantly surprised by all the things I loved and enjoyed about being pregnant. Love or loathe, I found them all to be surprises, since I knew pretty much zilch about pregnancy and babies until that fateful day when the word “Pregnant” appeared (twice) on the digital Clear Blue Easy.
1. Even thicker, shiny hair. Pregnancy hormones and Rainbow Lite prenatal vitamins are not a joke. I didn’t think it was possible for my thick hair to get any thicker, but it did, and it was as shiny as Rudolph’s nose. Now I’m dealing with postpartum hair loss, but (surprisingly) this hasn’t been as horrible as I anticipated.
2. Baby movement. On my most achy, swollen and exhausted days, I forgot my ailments when my son moved or kicked.
3. My acne cleared up. Since the age of 11 I’ve dealt with acne. In 23 years only Proactiv and pregnancy have cleared it up. My skin never looked as radiant as it did during pregnancy. I hoped the hormones would permanently banish the zits, but no such luck. Back to the Proactiv.
4. Strong nails. I attribute this to the prenatal vitamins, and what a treat for a girl with constantly breaking and peeling nails. Happily this has continued postpartum (which is why I think it’s the vitamins).
5. Voracious appetite. This was most prevalent during my second trimester, a point in my life where I can honestly say I enjoyed food more than any other time.
6. Maternity clothes. I dreaded buying maternity clothes until I tried them on. Nowadays they are stylish and comfortable. They can be expensive, but second-hand shops such as Clothes Mentor have entire maternity sections and you can walk out with a bag full of clothes for under $100. Target’s maternity section is chic and affordable too.
7. The way my cat and dog acted around me. The dog was extra protective and sweet, and the cat spent countless hours snuggled up with my belly.
8. Assertiveness. I became more decisive, especially when it came to picking a restaurant. It became easier for me to say no and to ask for help when I needed it.
9. Cocoa butter. I love the smell of Palmer’s cocoa butter.
10. The baby bump. Not something I’d always want to have as it made it difficult if not impossible to tie my shoes, but for the time it was necessary it was fun. Just ask my cat.
Catfish with Fresh Herbs & Lemon Juice
|Catfish with fresh herbs & lemon juice served with roasted garlic quinoa & steamed cauliflower|
I Googled “herbs for catfish” and found the inspiration for today’s recipe post, “Herb-Baked Catfish” on Cooks.com. This recipe calls for dried herbs but I wanted to use fresh herbs from our herb garden. Here’s my version. Today’s featured herbs are:
Catfish with Fresh Herbs & Lemon Juice
|The finished fish. Enjoy!|
Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction
|Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction wrap garnished with chives & served with (store bought) chick pea salad
I didn’t always enjoy cooking. In fact, cooking used to be a source of stress and anxiety, but it’s become a coping mechanism. My husband loves to cook and I began as a reluctant assistant in the kitchen. He made it fun and taught me things like how to time and pace yourself so all the food is ready around the same time, which eased the stressful parts. I first wrote a food post back in 2009, scrambled eggs and leeks, from a recipe book I still use and love, Energy Food: Energy-Giving Food Solutions to Keep You Fully Charged Throughout the Day, by Beverly le Blanc.
Two other huge reasons I began to cook more were gardening and the Internet. My husband is also an avid gardener, and in the summer of 2012 we grew a garden overrun with yellow nutsedge (long story), but the garden produced the most yield we’d ever seen. We’d pick whatever was available in the garden that day, whether it be eggplant, tomato, zucchini or squash, and we’d Google ingredients, pick a recipe and make it, usually with modifications. We cooked a few food bombs but for the most part, ate healthy, delicious, pesticide and GMO-free food. I’m pretty sure that’s the healthiest eating I’ve ever done in a single summer. I lost 10 pounds and felt more energetic. My digestive system ran like a well-oiled machine.
Along with the health benefits, I started to appreciate and enjoy the art of cooking. I love to chop vegetables (I’m a lot better at using a knife that I used to be, I had/have an irrational fear of knives, another source of anxiety), I love to saute and I love to follow and modify recipes. I used to get anxious if I didn’t measure out ingredients exactly, now I estimate and throw stuff in and add a little of this or that just for fun. In 2012 I made the transformation from horrible, awkward cook to a point where I now feel comfortable referring to myself as a foodie.
Not only did I cook from our garden in 2012, I read two food memoirs that inspired me to want to write about food and cooking. The Irish-Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts, by Erin O’Brien, is a laugh-out-loud funny read that weaves recipes and life into a literary tapestry that will make you ponder long after you’ve stopped giggling. I read this book in February 2012.
In September 2012, my friend Jonathan loaned me Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, a national bestseller and a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (every author’s dream, a bestselling book made into a movie). It’s the story of how Julie Powell, almost 30 years old and unhappy in her clerical government job, cooked all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, and blogged about the experience in order to reclaim her life. Not only did she reclaim her life, she ended up with a book deal. Jonathan has given me his blessing to keep the book, and I’m so grateful because it’s such an inspiration to me.
In December 2012 I found out I was pregnant with our first child, and after three months of morning sickness my appetite kicked into high gear and I began cooking almost daily, without a vegetable and herb garden (going to the grocery store works just as well). I cooked through the whole spring and now that it’s summer, hit up the Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market on a rather regular basis and have cooked a few dishes with fresh herbs from our new raised bed herb garden. The vegetables are freshly planted, and while I’m no Julia Child, Julie Powell or Erin O’Brien, I figured it’s high time I write some foodie posts on this blog. While they’re in season, I plan to post recipes that feature herbs from our herb garden. If you try any of these receipes please free to modify them however it suits your needs, and I hope you’ll share what you did in the comments section.
The first recipe comes from my mom, who made this for our family on 90 degree summer days in our non-air conditioned house when she didn’t want to use the stove or the oven in the heat and humidity. It’s light, refreshing, hydrating and filling. Today’s featured herbs are flat leaf parsley and dill.
Flat leaf parsley and dill
Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction
1 cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
i orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 can chunk white Albacore tuna in water, drained & rinsed (or whatever kind of tuna you like, I use Starkist)
1 24 oz container of cottage cheese (I used Smith’s small curd 4% milk fat)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley
flat bread or pita bread
Combine cucumber, red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, tomato, tuna and cottage cheese together in a large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Season with pepper, dill and parsley to taste.
The filling all mixed together
Scoop mixture onto flat bread or into pita pockets and serve.
Roll it up and eat it!
Cover bowl and refrigerate leftovers. Can also prepare in advance and chill in fridge before serving.
9 Things to Say and Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman
|Alanna 22 weeks|
I’m happy to tell you I’m five months pregnant with our first child! Our little boy is due around August 12th. Since I learned I was prego on December 10th, people have said kind and gracious things to me. Others have said things that if I’ve ever said them or anything else offensive to pregnant women out of ignorance, I’m going on record here to apologize and state I’ll never say them ever again, God willing. It’s been made painfully aware to me how folks lose all sense of boundaries with a pregnant woman. People mean well, and they’re not saying these things out of malice or to bother me enough to include them in a blog post. I hope this list makes you smile (and even giggle), and I also hope it will help make you aware of what to say and not to say the next time you’re talking to an expectant mother. Enjoy!
13 Ways Laughter Nourishes Writers
A guest post by Debra Johnson