Saturday, September 21, 2013

Orange-Glazed Tofu & Broccoli Stir-Fry

Do you ever have one of those meals where you see that is what's for dinner and you get very excited?    Well, we have one at our house and this is it..."Orange-Glazed Tofu & Broccoli Stir-Fry". Granted we're a house full of vegans, but seriously, just one mention of this recipe and Brandon and I start "oohing," "ahhing," and counting down till dinner. We're not the only ones, because as you'll see later, Avery's a pretty big fan of this recipe too.

Now while this recipe does take some prep, chopping, and extra time (for pressing tofu), it's well worth it in the end.  Just a note, this recipe has been doubled from the original trial recipe because the leftovers were so greatly debated in our house. So to make Brandon, Avery, and myself all happy, we doubled the recipe so we all get leftovers for lunch the next day.  But even then sometimes we still don't have enough because it's just that good! So adjust the recipe accordingly, by cutting it in half if you want it smaller or keep it the same as I list it if you want a lot. Let's get on to that recipe...

Orange-Glazed Tofu & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Inspired by: Gluten-Free, Happy Tummy's "GF Vegan Orange-Glazed Tofu Stir-Fry"


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 blocks of extra-firm tofu (pressed and drained)
  • 1 package of noodles (we use Annie Chun's Brown Rice Pad Thai)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp. of water 


  • 1 cup of orange juice (I use Trader Joe's Organic Orange Juice)
  • 1/2 cup Bragg's Liqiud Aminos
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Ingredient group shot.

1. Pressing the tofu will be key! I use a TofuXpress and start
by pressing the 1st block of tofu the night before I make
the recipe. Then I press the 2nd block of tofu the day of
the recipe. I'd say they each get pressed about 8 hours or so.
Read more about how I use the TofuXpress here.

2. Now it's time to chop your veggies, first up is the onion.

3. Followed by broccoli chopped into bite-size pieces.

4. Next mince the garlic, which totals about 5 cloves. I use
a Garlic Twist and measure out from there.

5. Boil water for your noodles and cook according to the
package. When done, drain and set aside.

6. Now start to make the sauce by adding
1 cup of orange juice.

7. Followed by 1/2 cup of Bragg's liquid amines, 1/4 cup
apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 tsp. minced garlic.

8. Whisk to combine then set aside.

9. Now it's time for tofu. Once both blocks have been
pressed, slice them into rectangles, and then again into
triangles (but try to keep them together, this will make cooking
them much easier). Now sprinkle the tops of tofu with salt
and pepper.

10. Warm a large pan (we use a cast-iron pan) to med-hi
and lightly grease it. Place the salt and pepper side of the tofu,
 on the pan and do not touch them for 4-5 minutes. While
cooking, sprinkle this top side with salt and pepper.

11. After 4-5 minutes, flip the tofu over and cook the other
side for another 4-5 minutes, being sure not to touch them
again at this time.

12. Then take them off the pan and set them on a plate.

13. Now in the same pan you cooked your tofu, add the
onions, broccoli, and remaning garlic and saute on med-hi
for 5 minutes until they have softened a bit. Then add the
tofu triangles. 

14. Lower the heat to low and add the delicious orange sauce,
 which will glaze the veggies and tofu.  The sauce is my
favorite part!

15. To help thicken the sauce within the stir-fry, mix up
1 tsp. of cornstarch and 2 Tbs. of water in a small bowl
and then add it to the pan.

16. Next stir in your entire package of cooked noodles and mix
until combined. Serve into bowls and enjoy!

The finished product: Orange-Glazed Tofu & Broccoli
Now just beware, it won't be long before you will have spouses tasting from the pan and kiddos taking bites from your plate (even while you are trying to take pictures of it).  ( :

I see someone sneaking a bite...

Who can blame her? This stuff is good!
Hope you like it! What's your favorite tofu recipe? Share below!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

35 weeks

Hey greenies, it's baby update time and the end is near! Here I am at 35 weeks...

This week's photo background: The background for this week's photo is pretty simple, just a cool mosaic-like tan wall from a building in our downtown area. Not the most exciting of photo backgrounds, but it's kind of similar to the way my pregnancy is going so far: simple and low key...and I couldn't be happier!

Questions of the week:

1. How big is the baby (with Avery's help)?

The baby size of the week sure is getting big, and Avery is loving it! Each week her "food sibling" becomes more capable of being a play buddy and this honeydew melon did not disappoint! Here's all the fun they had...
Taking turns down the slide...

And going for walks together!

2. What I'm eating...
It's funny to me that I'm so close to the end of my pregnancy and my food cravings are pretty minimal. But if you were to rewind back to week 13 or 21, my cravings were all I could think about! These days, I pretty much eat my usual meals and snacks, and the only thing I have a slight craving for is a handful of chocolate chips after dinner. I use these Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips because they are vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.  My favorite part aside from being chocolate, is that they are quick and easy, I just grab a handful and I'm good to go...hence nothing to bake!

3. Funny moment of the week: 
My funny moment of the week comes from something I've been noticing in my clothes lately and it's a thing I like to call "the space that can't be covered." I'm sure other pregnant mamas can relate to reaching a point in pregnancy when the maternity clothes you had in the earlier in the pregnancy no longer fit well and you end up with this space where your shirt ends and your pants begin...that cannot be covered! Case in point...

As you can tell, this blue shirt is probably on it's last leg thanks to this new "space that can't be covered." And while I'm sure the obvious reason is a growing Baby Mila, I find myself blaming the dryer, funky maternity clothing fabric, or any other odd reason I can come up with to explain why all my clothes seem to have such a difficulty covering this area!  

The best part is that Avery has even got in on noticing it this "space" and she'll look up at me and say, "Pull your shirt down!" I try to explain to her that Mila keeps growing and making my clothes stretch, so now she calls me out and says, "Mila is sticking out!" Thanks for the head's up Avery! ( :

Looking forward to the next update at 37 weeks, see you all then!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tips on Finding Peace in Pregnancy Weight Gain

Since this "green" blog of mine has taken a turn towards becoming a "pregnancy blog" lately, it's only fitting that we continue with the pregnancy topics and discuss everyone's favorite...pregnancy weight gain. Gotta love it, right? Wrong! I know as a pregnant woman I am supposed to accept that my body will grow bigger to help support the miracle of life that is growing inside of me, but that doesn't mean that it comes easy...especially mentally.

I feel like we're conditioned as a society to want to be slim and trim.  I mean entire shows are devoted to helping people achieve their weight loss goals. On other occasions, we celebrate when people lose 3 lbs, 5 lbs, 10 lbs and up, but when we're pregnant, we're supposed to un-do all that thinking and gladly accept the fact that we are gaining more and more weight each month? I don't know about you, but undoing 28 years of thinking one way, for 10 months is a bit hard to do.

Here's a closer look at the changes my body has gone through in the past 33 weeks (while of course wearing the same shirt, to really see the the comparison).

So as you can tell, pretty dramatic, at least to me. So how do I cope with the fact that the body I once had, has now changed and grown and is bigger than ever before? Well, like I said before, the blanket statement given to expecting women is that we should be okay with the weight gain because it's FOR THE BABY. And while I want to do nothing more than ensure a happy, healthy baby, sometimes it gets a little tricky to still feel good in my own skin when I'm changing and growing faster than ever before.  

So today I'm going to share the top 8 tips that I've found to help find peace, both mentally and physically, when it comes to gaining weight during pregnancy. As you'll see by the tips, the goal is NOT to avoid weight gain or prevent it from happening, but to come up with a way to shift our focus and take some proactive steps to help us feel better on this roller coaster journey we call pregnancy.

Here are my Top 8 Tips for Finding Peace in Pregnancy Weight Gain in video form....

Don't have time for the video, scroll below and continue reading.

My Top 8 Tips for Finding Peace in Pregnancy Weight Gain

Tip #1: Don't weigh yourself. As tempting as it may be to see (in real numbers) the actual growth taking place in my pregnant body, weighing myself is something I avoid all together during pregnancy. I probably sound like a crazy rebel for this one, but I find it has been very helpful in supporting a peaceful mindset during both my pregnancies.

Now when I was pregnant with Avery, I weighed myself once or twice in the early months just because I thought I was "supposed" to do that and all it did was mess with my head. "Two pounds?" Is that good? Is that bad? Is that enough? Is it too much? I still have 8 months to go, if I continue at this rate..." You get the picture and if you are or have ever been pregnant, I'm sure you can relate. Who knew some numbers on a scale could have so much power on us?

My dusty scale that hasn't been used in 33 weeks.

Anyways, after talking with my midwife (during Avery's pregnancy) I realized that I did not need to weigh myself, instead she had other ways to track that I was growing (by measuring the baby's fundal height) and just physically assessing the baby and my own growth. Whew, what a relief!

So I went along the whole rest of Avery's pregnancy, without stepping on the scale and I loved it. The only time I weighed myself was on the day I went into labor, just so I could know how much I had gained. I like weighing myself on this day for a number of reasons:
1- There's nothing I can do about it at that point, because it's the end.
2- I couldn't care less about the number because I'm about to meet my baby.
3- I was able to have 10 months of "peace" without crunching numbers and calculating just how big I had gotten or how potentially big I was going to get.

So, until the day I go into labor with Baby Mila, I will have no idea what I weigh. Maybe it will be more than Avery, maybe it will be less...who knows?! All I know it will be just right for Baby Mila and I and that is okay.

 But, perhaps you go to a regular OB for your prenatal appointments and weigh-ins are just part of your gig. In that case, you could:
-ask the nurse/doctor NOT to tell you the number
-look away when the weight is being taken
-discuss with your OB if this is necessary and if you could avoid this and use other ways of measuring your weight.

Obviously if you have a medical condition and need to weigh yourself, continue to do that, and instead find a few other tips below that can work for you.

Tip #2: Workout daily in a way that you have no excuses not to do.  After my last post about my "Prenatal Workout Routine", it's no surprise that working out daily (or as often as you can) is not only beneficial to your body but also to your peace of mind.  The primary reason I believe this is that it helps you feel PROACTIVE to the weight gain instead of REACTIVE.  Instead of just sitting around and hoping I won't gain a whole lot of weight, I can do something to counteract at least some of the weight.

Prenatal yoga always brings a little peace of mind.

Other reasons working out daily is a helpful thing to do is because it keeps your body healthy and active, keeps your endurance up for labor, helps your mental state, and makes it easier to get back in shape once the baby is born.
The physical act of walking on my
treadmill helps me feel, not only
like I accomplished something, but
that I'm working hard to keep my
body and baby healthy.

Just one warning though, you have to change your perspective a bit with the workouts because it feels like an uphill battle.  In "pre-pregnancy world" we were able to see results and positive changes in our body. But when you're pregnant, you could have some great workouts, but instead you continue to grow bigger.  Hold the faith, trust that what you're doing is not only good for your body, but also for your baby.

Tip #3: Eat when you're hungry, on food that makes you feel good. No choice here, cutting calories, or restricting yourself is not a healthy thing to do during pregnancy for obvious reasons, so replace your need to control or restrict food with finding healthy options to fill your hunger needs with. Also, accept that changes in appetite are just part of the process. During pregnancy, babies go through growth spurts and as a result, our appetite changes. Pay attention to those changes and listen to your body. It's simple, when you're hungry eat...make it food that makes you feel good.

A favorite "I'm hungry, but don't want to fall asleep after
I eat food" is definently fruit. 

If you have to, make a list of how you feel after you eat certain foods. In one column, write down all the foods that make you feel GOOD. In the other column write down all the foods that make you feel BAD after you eat them. Then steer yourself to those foods in the GOOD column.

My "Daily Green Juice" always makes me feel good.

Tip #4: If you're going to eat sweets or junk food, which give us the most guilt, make it yourself from scratch. Chances are you can reduce the sugar, fat and calories just by doing this one step. Whether it's cupcakes or french fries, challenge yourself to make them from home. By making them at home you can also start to swap out traditional ingredients for healthier alternatives.

Some of my favorites include:

"Crazy Ingredient Chocolate Cake" (it's cauliflower!)
from Chocolate-Covered Katie

"Brownie Batter Dessert Hummus"  (with beans)
from Nourishing Flourishing

"Chocolate Chip Blondies" (actually made from chickpeas)
from Chocolate-Covered Katie topped with this sugar-free,
vegan frosting.

"Chocolate Avocado Pudding" from Oh She Glows

"Naked Puppy Chow"

"Gluten-Free, Vegan, Chocolate-Covered Pretzels"

Gluten-free, Vegan, Sugar-Free Vanilla Cupcakes and Frosting(food dye-free!)

Tip #5: Invest in a few clothing items that you can wear often and in different ways that make you feel good. There's nothing quite like trying to SQEEZE into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans or even a shirt from the earlier months of pregnancy that is too tight, and just rubs you wrong all day long. Instead invest in a few maternity clothing items that you can wear often by dressing up or dressing down that make you feel good...instead of trying to be something you're not.

Too small!

Just right!

The tricky part for me is that pregnancy is such a short time, so my inner "budgeting/money-concious  mind" often finds it hard to rationalize spending a fortune to build an entire new wardrobe that I will only be able to wear for a few months. I'm sure others out there can relate. But when I find that all the things I have to wear make me feel BAD about my pregnant body, then it's time to do some shopping and at least get a few clothing items that I can wear and feel GOOD in. Because even though pregnancy is a short time, 10 months is a long time to be uncomfortable in your clothes and feel bad about the way you look. 

One last tip in this area is to release the pregnancy deadlines that you might be holding in your mind of, "I will NOT wear maternity clothes until I reach 2nd trimester or 20 weeks, or whatever time you have set in your head." If you're body is ready for maternity clothes or the next size up before hitting your "self-imposed deadline" support it's growth and embrace those changes. So're wearing maternity clothes at 12's okay. The way you feel when you get dressed and slip on those maternity jeans instead of pushing, tugging, bending and stretching to get those pre-pregnancy jeans on...will be worth it's weight in gold not only for your body, but your mind as well. 

Tip #6: Accept the way you look and grow during pregnancy is unique to you, in other words, try not to compare to compare yourself to other pregnant mamas or even your own other pregnancies.  Some women carry babies higher, lower, bigger, smaller, etc. it seems like society has some pre-conceived notion of "You are this many weeks pregnant, so you must look like this..." and if you are any bigger than that then you must be eating too much, and if your smaller than that then you must be starving your baby or not caring for yourself enough. Us poor pregnant women just can't get a break!

I'm sure some of you reading this post, may think "She's so big for 33 weeks, no wonder she needs to talk about pregnancy weight gain." Or others may say, "She's tiny for 33 weeks, I was double that size, so she has no room to talk about gaining pregnancy weight!" Like I said, when we're pregnant, we just can't win. We can't please everyone or fit into their image of what we SHOULD look like at any given point in our pregnancy. So why try? Let it go!

Case in point, pregnancy #1 with Avery, compared to pregnancy #2 with body and belly showed much earlier.

Here I am at 13 weeks in this pregnancy with Mila.

Here I am at 14 weeks in Avery's pregnancy
hardly showing at all.
Quite a change as you can tell just between my two pregnancies, so don't even throw other women's pregnancies in there because who knows how I would rank!  The only person who's opinion I trust in telling me how I should look is my midwife, and as long as she feels like I am a healthy weight, and my baby is healthy and growing...then that's all that matters. So resist the urge to Google "33 week pregnant belly" to see how you "rank" and just accept what your's looks like and that it is perfect for YOU!

Tip #7: Make a list or vision board of positive pregnancy affirmation to recite daily or as needed when you need a mental boost. I've got a vision board in my bathroom that is full of natural birth quotes, pictures, and images, but it is also full of positive pregnancy quotes too. Most of these I've made up, found off Pinterest, or borrowed from other birthing books.

My natural birth/positive pregnancy vision board (warning
there are actual birthing photos if you aren't into that
kind of thing)
When I find one I like, I type or copy and paste it to Microsoft Word, print it out, and tape it on this piece of poster board, I call my "Pregnancy Vision Board". This board is always changing, growing, and being modified. In fact I keep a roll of tape in my toothbrush drawer, just in case I'm always ready for a new picture or quote to add. I look at this board daily when I'm getting ready and I recite the quotes in my head and take on the feelings portrayed by the images. Some of my favorite quotes, not necessarily included on my vision board include:

"My body and baby are growing exactly as they need to be."

"I am beautiful and glowing"

"I love and accept my pregnant body."

Tip #8: Know that pregnancy is only for a short period of time. When you are in the midst of your pregnancy journey, 10 months seems like a long time, but take comfort in the fact that you have the whole rest of your life to be fit and trim. Know that this short and miraculous phase of your life will soon come to an end and life will return to normal.  Since I have photos of my journey back to my pre-pregnancy body (from my "Body After Birth" post), I look at them often probably as proof in my mind that "I can and will return to my pre-pregnancy weight. I did it once before, I can do it again. And, again, I have the whole rest of my life to be fit and trim."

Also, instead of stressing about the changes, this is a time when I push myself to feel gratitude for being pregnant. I know so many women try and try to get pregnant and are never able, or the journey is not an easy one and for me to be able to go through it makes me feel very fortunate. Even though it may get uncomfortable at times, at least I can know I am a part of something bigger, something amazing...I  am growing a human being inside my body!  My own child, whom I will love for the rest of my life, and although the sacrifice of giving up my body, so to speak for 10 months, may seem rough from time to time, I know that it is so worth it.

Despite the body image issues from time to time, I try
to focus on gratitude. Feeling grateful for this journey, that
I'm going on and that my family is going on with me. 

*Last, if you feel overwhelmed or overburdened by your the changes your pregnant body is going through, find someone who you can talk to whether it be a friend, family member, midwife, counselor or therapist to get the help you need.

So there you have it, my top 8 tips for finding peace both physically and mentally with pregnancy weight gain. If you have any more tips or experiences to add feel free to share them below, so we can all continue to learn and support each other on our pregnancy journeys.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

33 Weeks

Hey everyone, we're rolling right along with these bi-weekly updates, and I can't believe that the end is in sight! It was one hot week this week here in the Midwest, with temperatures so hot that my poor afternoon class couldn't go outside because of the scorching heat index.  I got along pretty well with it all and just tried to stay inside when possible to keep Mila and I cool and comfortable. Boy will fall be nice when it makes it's appearance in a few weeks!  So in honor of the hot, hot, hot temperatures this week I felt that the colors of my photo's background wall were pretty fitting...

This week's photo background: The bright orange wall in this week's shot is from a local Mexican restaurant, La Fuente's and as I said before, it was very appropriate for the weather we've had this past week. This restaurant used to be one of Brandon and I's favorite, but since cutting out GMO's from my diet, I'm afraid I can't eat here anymore.  ) : Mainly because their use of conventional corn and oil in the chips and tortillas, which I'm pretty sure won't get switched to organic anytime soon. No wonder I always had a stomach ache after eating here, even when I made sure everything I ate was gluten-free!  In the meantime I'll just use their lovely orange wall for my pictures, and save the Mexican cuisine for my own kitchen.

Never mind the garden hose...the only shady spot I could find
was near the backside of the restaurant where this hose just
happened to be placed.

La Fuente Mexican Restaurant

Questions of the week:

1. How big is the baby (with Avery's help)?

I wasn't the only one feeling the heat this week, check out the red cheeks Avery was rocking after playing outside one afternoon! Don't worry we make sure she has plenty to drink, and we head inside if she starts to get too hot.  But she doesn't seem to mind it one bit and would be perfectly content to play the heat...all day if we let her.

Like that outfit? She picked it out all by herself, and in fact she is pretty notorious for wanting to dress up in tutus and dresses ONLY when going outside to play!

As for the food size this week, I can't believe how big they are getting! A pineapple makes it seem pretty real that the end is coming near, but based on my own observations of my belly, I'm pretty sure the pineapple size is right on with Mila's current size.

Best part of picture time with Avery was once I got the shot of her holding the pineapple she asked, "I go throw her now?" as she's done in so many weeks prior.

Off to play/throw her baby pineapple sister...

2. What I'm eating...
There seems to always be a trend with these pregnancy cravings and this week is no different. The trend: creamy dips. First up is "Nacho Mmmm Sauce" from Peas and Thank You. It's creamy, spicy, and perfect for dipping chips. Ingredients include: chickpeas, almonds, nutritional yeast, salsa, water, lemon juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. Mmmm is right!

Nacho Mmmm Sauce

The creamy dip trend continues with "Creamy Ketchup" something I had no idea has quite the following it does. For years I've watched my husband mix Mayonnaise and ketchup together to make a dipping sauce for his fries or burgers, but I've always thought it was a bit gross...since I'm a huge plain ketchup fan. But since going vegan, he switched to Vegenaise and one day when we were gearing up for our dinner of veggie burgers and homemade fries, I gave it a try and oh my gosh it was good!

Homemade fries with "Creamy Ketchup"

Now I'm hooked too, and seem to only be able to eat my fries and veggie burgers when they are dipped with the simple combination of Vegenaise and organic ketchup (in equal portions in case you're 2 Tbs Vegenaise + 2 Tbs ketchup, etc.). I've seen it called all kind of names from "Dipping Sauce" to "Creamy Ketchup" as we call it, any other fans out there? If so, what do you call it?

3. Favorite moment of the week: 
My favorite moment of the week is actually a favorite time of the day.  Most nights after putting Avery to bed, Brandon and I crash on the couch to watch our favorite shows we've saved on our DVR, but  the part that makes it my favorite is when Mila joins the fun and starts kicking and moving like CRAZY! In the earlier weeks I noted that I was able to feel them often, but Brandon or Avery weren't able to ever really catch them. Well, things are a bit different now and Mila sure knows how to make herself known! We'll just be watching away and then all the sudden she'll start moving and bending and stretching in what feels like she's literally trying to find a way out of my belly button or something and the best part is the look on Brandon's face! I'm sure it helps that I'm finally sitting down to relax after a long day, but I like to think that she knows it's her Dad that's hanging out right next to her and she wants to tell him HI!

Brandon feeling the "Mila gymnastics" one afternoon.
Not only do I love the laughs Mila gives us, but I love that these two are able to bond before she's even born. I feel like I've got it pretty easy in the bonding department since she's with me 24/7, but Brandon doesn't have near as much time. This is where our nighttime kicking sessions really come in handy in helping him to connect with her through his voice and his touch even before she's born. I'm pretty sure that if she's anything like her sister, Mila will have Daddy wrapped around her little finger in just a few short weeks. ( :

See you in two weeks for the next update!
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