Hampton Doula to the Rescue

Truth be told, for the majority of my pregnancy, I was in complete denial that I was actually going to have to give birth. Though I was pretty content living in this state of mind, I knew that I would have to accept the fact that I was going to have to physically deliver a baby…that and the fact that I needed some serious guidance, education, and support…aka HELP!

Enter, Hampton Doula, Monica Kadash, to the rescue! I met Monica early in my second trimester when I started to attend her prenatal yoga class at Ananda in Southampton. I instantly gravitated towards Monica’s welcoming personality, calm demeanor, and lighthearted sense of humor. I loved the class and attended weekly, right up until days before I gave birth. Monica incorporates lots of stretching and relaxation to get centered as well as some challenging poses to prepare the mind and body for birth.

When I was considering hiring a doula, I knew that I wanted someone who would bring out the best in me, ideally someone spiritual, but not too spiritual that I couldn’t relate. Monica is exactly that;  straightforward and realistic, yet very warm and tranquil.

The day that I gave birth was a long, uneventful one until my water broke around 2pm, when suddenly, baby came fast and furiously. When it got down to the hard labor (the part I was dreading) I was thanking my lucky stars for Monica’s presence. As a doula, Monica provides support (both prenatal and postnatal) and advocacy alongside the medical staff. (Doulas are commonly confused with midwives, who are medically qualified to deliver babies.)

Statistically, with the help of Doulas there are less interventions,  fewer C-sections, shorter labor and reduced postpartum depression. This results in a fulfilling and satisfying birthing experiences, in short, many more happy moms!

My mission is to honor, protect and guide you, so that you feel empowered to birth fearlessly and joyfully, thus starting your journey into motherhood with confidence.” ~ Monica

Monica did just that for us; I was able to stay (somewhat) strong through the worst contractions, push with sheer determination and confidence, and instantly connect with our baby girl. In the moment, all of my fears of needles, blood, and pain were overcome by sheer empowerment.

Throughout this unique process, Monica helped in every way promised. She provided literature on the birthing process and came to our house twice to get to know our family and educate us on the whole process. She prepared us with facts, stories, strategies, and support we needed to feel ready. Does that mean that everything was smooth sailing? Of course not! But when it came down to it, everything that Monica had prepared us for unraveled pretty much as predicted. It’s already becoming a slight blur (isn’t that how women keep doing it??) but I know that I would have been far less prepared, confident, and comfortable without Monica the Doula.

Here’s Monica, baby Rowan, and I at our postnatal home visit about a week after birth 🙂               If you’re interested in learning more about Monica, visit hamptondoula.com.

One Healthy Breakdown: Happy, healthy, and empowered, thanks to Hampton Doula!

Paleo Lemon Blueberry Loaf

I just love anything (and everything) with a tangy lemon flavor. Lemon squares, you’re SO GOOD…but you’re SO BAD! This guilt-free, grain-free paleo bread with lemon, blueberries, and very little sugar…now that’s a show stopper. This deliciousness can be made as a loaf or muffins, crunchy on the outside and soft and crumbly on the inside. Does it get any better?!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond or coconut flour (or healthy flour of choice)
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 or 3 lemons (depending on how lemon-y you like)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside blueberries and lemons. Combine all other ingredients in food processor (I use a Vitamix.) Wash lemons and grate the zest of one lemon into mixture. Cut lemons in half, remove seeds, and squeeze juice into mixture. Continue to blend until batter is consistent and smooth. Add blueberries and stir by hand. Grease loaf or muffin pan with coconut oil and pour batter in, leaving about an inch on top for loaf to rise. (If you have leftover batter, it can be used for muffins or pancakes.) Bake for 35 minutes (25 for muffins!) and check with a fork to make sure it’s cooked through, if not, continue to bake another 8-10 minutes. Once top has started to brown, remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Refrigerate leftovers to keep fresh. Enjoy this sweet and sour snack!

One Healthy Breakdown: take that sugar-laden lemon bars!

*recipe inspired by Savory Lotus’ Blueberry Lemon Bread

One Healthy Baby Announcement!

Our baby girl, Rowan Isabelle DeMarco, was born Friday, March 10th at 4:27pm. At 7.0 pounds, 20.5 inches long, she could not be more amazing and we could not be happier!

All that we hoped and prayed for was a healthy baby. Ok, to be honest, I actually hoped and prayed for a healthy, happy baby. And I don’t know what I did to get so lucky.

Actually, she’s a healthy, happy, sleepy baby 🙂

Sometimes, she even wakes up to say hello, have a snack, or show of her baby blues.

If you drop in between the hours of 11pm and 4am, this little one is wide awake as she appears to have her nights and days a bit confused. Despite the lack of sleep, we’re absolutely loving life with baby girl and we can’t wait for many adventures to come!

One Healthy Breakdown: miracles do exist!

Healthy (to die for) Shortbread

Oh, shortbread. It’s one of those things we don’t see/eat very often, but one bite of that buttery, crumbly goodness and it’s enough to throw all of those healthy habits right out of the window and dig in…hard. Just me?? Inspired by Bulletproof’s Shortbread bars (containing collagen, which is great for skin health, hormonal balance, bones and joints, and digestion) this simple, no-bake recipe is full of healthy goodness and tastes just as good as the real deal. Seriously!

Healthy Shortbread (raw & gluten-free)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides (I use Vital Proteins, but this is optional/tasteless)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • dash of sea salt
  • filtered water as needed
  • coconut oil or parchment paper to coat pan

Slightly melt coconut butter and regular butter until soft or liquid and throw all ingredients together into your food processor. Mix until consistent. You may have to stop to collect mixture a few times. After a minute or two, add water by the teaspoon until mixture starts to slightly stick together into a dough (you should not need much water.) Grease a square or rectangular pan or glass container with coconut oil or cover with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Once dough is mixed and consistent, pour into pan/container. With a spoon (or your fingers!) spread and compact dough until it evenly coats the bottom (thickness doesn’t matter.) Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours. Once solid, use sharp knife or metal spatula to cut into the shape of your choice, remove, and devour.

One Healthy Breakdown: do they call it shortbread because it doesn’t last long?? 😉

Pregnancy: The Good The Bad & The Ugly

Pregnancy is an amazing process, like no other, and I was lucky enough to feel pretty darn good for the majority of this time…with some definite exceptions. I realize that many women have it a lot worse (and a lot better) than me, this is just my own experience. At the end of the day, all of these pregnancy symptoms are nothing compared to the gift that we’re about to get as a result. With that said, let’s get real about growing a baby, shall we?

First trimester:

The GOOD: for whatever reason, I didn’t experience much nausea in the beginning. In fact, I’m happy to say that my entire pregnancy, I’ve probably been nauseous about ten times total. Sure, I experienced other “stuff,” (keep reading) but not so much of this classic symptom. The best part about the first trimester was the realization that I actually had a baby growing inside me! It wasn’t easy getting pregnant, (thanks to birth control throwing my hormones off) so we are that much more thankful that it did happen. Though it was still our little secret during the first trimester, I spent it on cloud nine just thinking about our baby-to-be!

The BAD: the first 13 weeks of pregnancy consisted of lots and lots and lots of naps. Everything made me exhausted, even sleeping. I didn’t stand a chance against this kind of tired – by early afternoon, my eyes were closing and my bed was calling…pretty much everyday. I guess growing a human is exhausting. Luckily, I was able to schedule nap time after getting everything done earlier in the day, so I often gave in, listened to my body, and napped like crazy.

The UGLY: instead of the typical nausea, my ‘ugly’ pregnancy symptom was much less common, but equally uncomfortable. Apparently, when baby starts to grow and push on internal organs, but still isn’t  large enough for everything to find its place in there, things can get a little ‘mixed up.’ Not once, but twice early on in pregnancy, I ended up in the ER with a distended bladder, meaning that my bladder had stretched out and was not able to contract to pee like normal. I had to get a catheter in order to drain my bladder. Twice. Told you it was ugly…

Second trimester:

The GOOD: sharing our baby news was definitely the highlight of the second trimester. At the 12/13 week marks, odds of miscarriage greatly reduce, so that is when people typically let the cat out of the bag. We shared the news with our families and close friends earlier on with much excitement. We even got all corny and put a ‘bun in the oven’ for our friends to find when we invited them over for drinks (seltzer for me…always seltzer for me.) After the three month mark, I shared on OHH and social media. At the beginning of the second trimester, I didn’t really look so pregnant yet, but soon after, strangers would start to comment, ask, or congratulate me. That made me realize that my body and my baby were really growing, that this process was really happening. Best of all, towards the end of the second trimester, I began to feel baby girl moving around inside me which is, by far, the coolest feeling in the whole wide world.

The BAD: the end of the first trimester and most of the second trimester was like one long aversion to meat. I typically get a good amount of protein from poultry, meat, and fish, so my diet was thrown off…not to mention my ability to cook dinner. The hubs definitely got the short end of the stick on that one…While we’re on the topic, I should mention that while I didn’t really experience abnormal cravings, my body definitely wanted more fresh fruit and refreshing smoothies. One thing that I’ve had every single day during my pregnancy is avocado and I’m pretty sure that habit will not stop with baby’s arrival 🙂

The UGLY: here’s another weird and ugly symptom for ya, as I seem to be the queen of them! After a perfect report at the dentist just a week prior, I started to notice that my bottom gum felt like it was splitting from my teeth and that there was some space there that wasn’t there before. Sure enough, it was the very start of pregnancy gingivitis. I was pretty shocked as I try to take really good care of my teeth, but apparently it’s not uncommon. Luckily, with daily flossing and mouthwash, this went away within a few weeks and hasn’t returned.

Third Trimester:

The GOOD: the best part about my pregnancy is that I’ve been able to continue to work out and stay active the whole time, which is pretty huge for my sanity and happiness! Fingers crossed that this continues these last few weeks leading up to the big day as I’ve heard that continued exercise can pay off during labor. Don’t get me wrong, I take things pretty easy, don’t let my heart-rate get very high, and rarely break a sweat, but the continued movement has been great for my well-being, mentally and physically.

While I don’t push myself the way that I used to, I have been able to continue jogging, spinning, yoga, light weight-lifting, and circuit training, while really listening to my body and taking it slow. If something hurts, or just doesn’t feel right, I stop. For the most part, working out always makes me feel much better, so I keep doing it. With additional size comes a bit more difficulty, so I imagine that things may slow down over these next few weeks and that’s o.k. too. At a minimum, daily walks and prenatal yoga help to get the blood pumping and are better than nothing!

I was also very relieved when my doctor accommodated my request to avoid the glucose drink (full of sugar and genetically modified ingredients) to test for gestational diabetes; he did a simple blood test to evaluate my sugar levels and rule out GD. Thanks, doc!

The BAD: in addition to the exhaustion, extra weight, constant trips to the restroom, swelling, nerve pain, stretching skin, and all else that comes along with the third trimester, I also had quite the scare. At 37 weeks pregnant, I was going about my day, feeling absolutely fine when all of the sudden, I felt an intense pain in my back. I happened to be in the pharmacy when this came on and actually had to fall to the ground as the pain prevented me from standing or walking. After causing quite a commotion, (Sag Harbor Pharmacy’s staff is the best and took such good care of me!) my husband arrived and we went to the hospital…wondering…are these contractions? Is the baby coming?! Fast forward hours later and it turns out that the pain was the result of a kidney stone. Apparently, they can be common during pregnancy (although I’ve never heard anyone else I know getting so lucky!) So, that was a crazy day. Although the bad was not fun at all, it’s nothing compared to the ugly…

The UGLY: if you thought that the catheter, gingivitis, and kidney stone were ugly, just you wait! Trimester three kicked off with the start of an itchy rash on my growing belly. The rash soon got worse and spread. And then it got even worse and continued to spread. Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse and spread…until it was pretty much all over me, completely unbearable, and totally debilitating. At its worst, I couldn’t sleep, had no appetite, was an emotional mess, and struggled to focus on the baby…or anything but the rash. Known as “PUPPPS” (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) or “PEP,” (Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy) there is very little known about this horrible diagnosis.

I tried herbal treatments, topical steroids, antihistamines, biopsies, oatmeal baths, moisturizers, minimizing my wardrobe to a few select cotton shirts, and doing anything I could to get some rest and relief. Six or seven weeks of absolute misery finally lead to some relief in the dose of oral Prednisone. As someone who hates taking medication and prefers living life holistically, I was so torn about trying all of these drugs, but was too desperate not to. I trusted that my doctors would not put baby at risk and thankfully, the Prednisone helped to make life bearable again, so that I could return my attention to happily growing baby.

We still don’t know much more than the fact that pregnancy can cause the immune system to lash out (aka rash out) and the only known solution, along with some meds, is to hang in there until baby arrives, when things should clear up pretty quickly thereafter. So, that’s the plan…

My best efforts point to what I know: food. Desperate for some relief, I’ve minimized gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and caffeine in an attempt to tame this beast. Although my diet is pretty clean and healthy, I’m committed to doing my best to rule out anything that may be causing extra inflammation. I’ve definitely noticed that my symptoms worsen after consuming cheese, so I’ve broken up with cheese until further notice. While I’ve never really been a huge cheese lover, (I prefer peanut butter…by the spoonful) pregnancy has me craving fresh mozzarella and I’ve always been a fan of plain Greek yogurt. While they sure are tasty, it’s just not, at all, worth it.

PUPPPS affects one in every 200-300 pregnancies. When I was at my worst and I hadn’t slept well in weeks, I constantly wondered WHY ME?! But then I would remind myself that everyone is dealing with something, whatever it may be, and to keep my eye on the prize, a beautiful, healthy blessing <3 Fortunately, all of the wild and crazy symptoms I experienced affected me and not really the baby. Although times got tough, I wouldn’t change taking it for the team for anything. Some women love being pregnant, others hate it. My feelings on pregnancy are bitter sweet, as you can now imagine. That will never change the fact that I am 1,000% positive that it will all be worth it in the end when baby girl is here! The countdown is on!

One Healthy Breakdown: nothing good in life comes easy, right? Babies included.

Homemade Larabars

I’m always on the hunt for on-the-go bars. Not only should they taste delicious, but the perfect bar must be made of real, whole foods. Larabar gets an A in my book because of their minimal ingredients – real, whole food that we’re all familiar with…which also means that they’re pretty easy to recreate, customize, and they involve no baking whatsoever. Shall we?

Homemade Larabars: (makes 10 bars)

Ingredients:

  • 10 dates
  • 2 generous tablespoons nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew butter are all great)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of sea salt
  • water as needed
  • totally optional modifications:
    • 1/3 cup oats (for a serving of healthy carbs)
    • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips
    • 2 tablespoons coconut butter or shredded coconut
    • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds (for added protein)
    • 2 tablespoons high quality protein powder (for added protein)
    • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (for picky kids with a serious sweet tooth)
    • replace 1/2 of dates with other dried fruit of choice, like apricots or goji berries
    • 1/4 cup blueberries for blueberry flavor

Add all ingredients (except water) to food processor and mix. If mixture is too dry to stick together, add a teaspoon of water and continue to blend. Once mixture is consistent, transfer to a square pan or glass container and smoothly spread it as evenly as possible. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Remove and cut into square or rectangular bars and remove bars as you wish (ideally with a flat metal spatula.) You can either keep in same container or individually wrap bars for travel. Enjoy a bar as a snack, pre-workout energy boost, or a sweet treat!

One Healthy Breakdown: oh the possibilities with homemade Larabars!

5 Big Benefits of Morning Workouts

As I sit here, procrastinating my morning workout, I ponder all of the reasons that I should get up and get moving. I have no doubt that I’ll feel 1,000 times better when it’s done. What is it about a good morning workout that makes us feel superhuman, anyway? Actually, quite a lot…

  1. Exercise awakens us in the best possible way – blood pumping, brain working, body moving. Your energy level will be higher and you’re less likely to hit that mid-day slump, even hours after you sweat. Endorphins are a beautiful thing and can make or break a productive, rewarding, enjoyable day. So, lace up those sneakers and move! And, make sure it’s a workout that you actually enjoy to reap double benefits, mentally and physically.
  2. Burn ALL day. Thanks to EPOC, (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) the body works extra hard to restore and rebuild muscles, increasing metabolism for up to 14 hours post-workout! So, hit it hard for at least 30 minutes and burn more calories for more hours!
  3. Start the day on the right foot. Completing a morning workout will empower you to tackle the rest of your day head on, tackling your to-do list like a champ. Just as you accomplished that workout and crush your fitness goals, you’ll crush your life goals too.
  4. Food is fuel. Your post-workout meal will be used to replenish your muscles and provide you with lasting energy. Had you rolled out of bed, had a big breakfast, and sat at your desk all day, that meal would more likely be stored somewhat as fat instead of fuel. Your body is a machine – keep it moving, keep it fueled, and it will continue to operate well for you.
  5. Sleep better. Not only will you wake up and metabolize food more efficiently, you’ll also wind down and sleep deeper at night. Working out in the evening will awaken your mind and body and can put your body in a state of stress, setting you up for a night of tossing and turning. Following a morning workout, your body (and mind) can rest peacefully and wake up to do it again the next day.

Of course, if you work out in the morning, it’s DONE for the day, a weight off your shoulders…but is it such a bad thing to workout later in the day?? You know what they say: “you’ll never regret a workout.” If you’re not a morning person or cannot fit it into your AM schedule, get it done on your own time because something is better than nothing. To maximize benefits and feel healthier all-around; however, I highly recommend incorporating a few morning workouts into your weekly schedule. If you’ve never been a morning exerciser, start now and you’ll form a new healthy habit in just a few weeks. It’s not black and white, either, you don’t have to do a class or get to the gym. Even just 15-20 minutes of morning yoga in your pajamas or walking to work in the morning will make a difference. PLUS, you’re less likely to skip, cancel, or rush your fitness routine in the morning. Speaking of which, I’m off to workout…why? See #’s 1-5 above!

One Healthy Breakdown: no excuses this morning, get it done!

PB & J Sorbet

This super simple sorbet is easy to whip up any time of day for a tasty treat in as little as three ingredients. If you have a little sweet tooth, you’ll love this alternative to ice cream. No dairy, gluten, or added sugar involved. Basically, think of it like a dessert smoothie…but better. Oh, you may have noticed that I’m kinda in love with anything PB & J…if you don’t feel the same way, just omit the nut butter for a classic berry sorbet.

Ingredients: (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 cup frozen berries (I use a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon cacoa powder for a slight chocolatey taste
  • Optional: 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek for protein, coconut for dairy free)

Simply blend all ingredients together until it’s the consistency of sorbet and enjoy! Feel free to add some toppings, like coconut, chopped nuts, granola, cacoa nibs, etc. for a crunch.

One Healthy Breakdown: if you’ve had a bad day, sweeten it with sorbet!

Paleo Strawberry Beet Bars

What looks like a brownie but has zero grains, dairy, chocolate, or added sugar? Another experiment gone right in the OHH kitchen, Paleo Strawberry Beet Bars, of course! These babies are chock-full of superfoods and taste, so much so that even the littlest critics will enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1-2 cooked beets (I used 2 precooked Love Beets)
  • 2 tablespoons goji beries
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 5 whole figs or dates
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
  • splash of almond milk (if necessary)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a brownie pan with coconut oil. Combine all ingredients in Vitamix or high-powered blender/food processor. Once mixture is blended, pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Test with a fork or knife to make sure bars are solid, they may need a little bit more time depending on your pan size. Let cool, cut into bars, and enjoy for breakfast, snack, post-workout fuel, or a healthy dessert all week long!

One Healthy Breakdown: these bars are paleo-rific!

Nesting & Investing in the New Year

It’s true what they say about pregnancy and nesting, but the New Year actually brings an even better excuse to clear out the old and make room for the new. Just like we cleanse our bodies of toxins, we can all benefit from cleansing our living space, workspace, and head space of clutter. We’re already spending the majority of the winter months inside, we might as well clean up a little, right?! Nesting is about simplifying and making space for what’s to come, investing in a new year of new possibilities. Whether you’re welcoming a baby into your household, just having house guests, or you have the desire to declutter your life, these tips are for you!

Let go of extra “stuff.” Sometimes we hold on to stuff that we may not even use because we have this fear of not having enough. Having “stuff” can make us feel secure in a way, but do you know what feels so, so much better? Getting rid of the extra stuff and making space – clarifying and simplifying things. That “stuff” can actually weigh us down and hold us back; after all, you know what they say: less is more. Once you clean out the stuff you don’t need, you’ll get it.

Where to start? Choose one small space at a time to make it manageable – your desk, the kitchen pantry, or a closet. Clean out everything you no longer need and organize the rest. Complete each space before moving on to the next.

When we declutter the space around us, we make space both mentally and physically for clarity and new opportunities. Use this open head space to visualize your goals for the New Year. Replace your resolutions with concrete goals and inspiration. Center your focus around inspiring words, mantras, and measurable tasks to ensure that you make progress. You may be inclined to change the decor of a room for a fresh start as well; try painting the walls, rearranging the furniture, or getting a new tool to help organize (anything from a file cabinet to a new mug for your pens.) This physical change may help instigate psychological change as well.

One Healthy Breakdown: get nesting, get focused, and get happy. Do it!