Summer is finally here in Georgia and the heat is in full blast! I am so excited for what summer will bring this year. I have recently ventured into the wonderful world of gardening–and let me tell you, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The reasoning behind this great idea of mine was that I wanted to have fresh organic veggies and fruits(at a fraction of the cost of storebought) for my growing toddler and for our family. I have been on a health kick for a while now and it all started with my pregnancy.
Since I got pregnant, I decided that certain things needed to change. The most important to me was my bundle of joy’s and my nutrition. I began reading articles online, books and pregnancy magazines trying to figure out the best brain superfoods and how to give my growing pea sized baby the best advantage. My hubby says I went a little crazy for a while, which in my defense, I blame on the stresses of pregnancy and the hormone high I was on. But yes, I do admit that I tend to go a tad bit overboard sometimes. I am not one to thread lightly into new adventures, I plunge in headfirst. So when it came to eating for two, I would spare nothing. I found a lot of useful information that I did not know. I thought eating for two actually meant eating two adult sized portions at each meal…boy, was I off. Turns out you only need an extra 300 “healthy” calories a day…Mind you, this does not mean go and eat an extra chicken biscuit from Chick Fil A, it should be something healthy, like a serving of cottage cheese and some almonds or pistachios. Some sources that I found very helpful include What To Expect When You Are Expecting, The Baby Bump, The Everything Pregnancy Nutrition Book, and also the Whole Foods website, believe it or not…They have tons of yummy recipes and information on general good healthy nutrition.
Thanks to all the tools I had found, I had a pretty healthy pregnancy and I felt like I had done everything I could. I am not saying I did not sneak a handful of cookies up to my room or ate seconds every once in a while…but hey, no one’s perfect. To my surprise my little man decided to arrive almost three weeks early, and on March 27th I lost my heart to the most beautiful boy I had ever seen (sorry honey!). He was amazing and beautiful in every way. I finally fully understood why I was doing this, making so many changes in my life. I now had a little person who depended on me for everything and I wanted to give him the world.
The first few months are really a no brainer, he was breast-fed so I only needed to make sure I was eating healthy. I was still taking my Prenatal Vitamins as recommended by my OB and I remember eating lots of green leafy veggies like kale and spinach. Beets are also great when you are breastfeeding. Once the little man began eating solids, I began experimenting. I read Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton. It is a wonderful book about a stay at home dad and his efforts to raise an adventurous eater. In the beginning, Santi only ate organic. I tried to buy most of our produce locally at farmer’s markets but when I couldn’t find what I needed Publix was my go to place. I made him all sorts of foods. He especially loved carrots with curry, avocados and pears, and sweet potato, turnip and leek puree(Baby food Recipes to come!). Needless to say, those first few months were a little too pricey for my liking. I started thinking of a way to still feed my baby the best but without the expensive price-tag. I still found that farmers markets are cheapest but only when the produce is in peak season. I also don’t shop at Publix much anymore, lately I prefer making a biweekly trip to Whole Foods on Ponce in Midtown. Prices are less or about the same as Publix but much better quality and from local vendors. And of course the best alternative to spending so much on produce is to grow your own! If you have a backyard or a small area with full sun, you can grow veggies! If you don’t have the space, see if there is a community garden around your area and you can rent a plot. That is what our family does, since we live in a condo.
So far it has been great, every day brings a new lesson and also yummy treats for us to harvest and enjoy. Now that summer is here, we have an abundance of strawberries and the tomatoes are starting to come in too. I love it! Its a wonderful feeling to know that I am feeding my baby something from our own garden, instead of something that has traveled halfway around the world to get here. Organic Produce has many wonderful benefits. It not only provides you with cleaner veggies, meaning that they are pesticide and chemical free and have not been chemically altered or engineered in a lab, but they might also have a higher nutritional value than conventional.
Now, I do understand that it is not always easy or affordable to buy ONLY organic, because it is expensive. On shopping trips when I am on a strict budget I only shop organic from the Dirty Dozen List. This list is composed of produce with the highest pesticide residue. It includes, apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, spinach, berries, peaches, potatoes, kale, zucchini and lettuce. If you are not able to buy organic at all, make sure you always wash your produce really well! You can even use a veggie spray to remove any residue…the Honest Company makes a great plant-based product.
The little man and I learn new lessons when it comes to food all the time. He is definitely an adventurous eater, so at least I have succeeded in something. He will open his mouth for anything and will at least try something a few times before puckering up his lips and deciding he doesn’t like it, and there is a very small list of things he doesn’t like. Now that he is 14 months, I am more laid back about his eating habits. I do always make his meals and I freeze ahead for time saving purposes but I do also give him goldfish and let him have food off my plate at restaurants, and if he is lucky he even gets his own meal from a kids menu. I think its very important to eat healthy but I have also learned that it is important to have a balance. I no longer monitor every crumb that goes into his mouth, nor do I have the energy… since I am usually too busy chasing him around the house. As my munchkin grows, our lifestyle evolves with him and things change all the time. I will still always try to feed his tummy the best I can, and organic whenever I can, but it does get much easier the older he gets.
That is how this whole journey of change really started for me. It is not only about nutrition (as you will see in future posts…), but fitness, religion, friendships, leadership, community, and most of all I want to better myself for him. I want to change the way I see the world and the way I live so that I can teach him to grow up with love for the people around him. I want him to love all of God’s creatures and to live everyday of his life with wonder and laughter. For me, this all started with changing the way our family eats…but it really turned into much more than that.
If you are interested in making a change in your nutrition, check out Ashley’s Whole 30 Challenge!by