“Green” Toys Come in Pink Too!

IMG_2355Inspired by the desire to shop locally, buy green, and find some darn cute toys, I stumbled upon Green Toys! Don’t be fooled by the rather unimaginative name…the toys are super cute and creative. This company manufactures all of its toys, which are made from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs and other environmentally friendly materials, in the United States. They are all BPA, PVC, and Phthalate free. So, no worries when these toys end up in your little one’s mouth!IMG_2360

I first met Green Toys when a dump truck introduced himself to me in the toy aisle at Homegoods. Yes, toys have a tendency to speak to me! My rule of thumb…if a toy is rude enough to ignore me, it can stay on the shelf!  This little red and yellow dump truck wanted a home. And, although I’m okay with Ayla having “boy” toys, when I saw that the same dump truck came in pink and purple… it was love at first sight (sorry, little red and yellow). Soon after I purchased the girly dump truck I hopped on Green Toys’ website in search of more treasures. This time I zoomed away with an adorable pink race car.IMG_2362

Next on my list to buy is the vintage cooktop! It comes in either pink or a pale aqua. So cute for a playroom, and it won’t take up much space. I know that I highlighted the girly toys, but Green Toys has tractors, train sets, ferry boats and more. Check it out and see what you think.

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Stop Kissing the Sun: 4 Tips for Every Woman

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor. Freedom cI didn’t listen to my mother. Well…I kind of, sort of listened. I had dabbed on a small amount of sunscreen 2 hours into my beach adventure. How hot could the sun be in April? I wanted to leave Florida with a beautiful bronze tan. Instead, I looked like a lobster. Not just any lobster, no, I looked like a boiled lobster. My skin was fire engine red, covered in blisters, and incredibly painful. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even wear a bra or t-shirt without feeling absolutely miserable. Instead of coming home with a tan, I came home to weeks of peeling, damaged skin…beautiful indeed.

What I hadn’t realized at the age of 14 was that severe burns like this could set me up for skin cancer later in life. Almost twenty years later, I still have to remind myself to lather on the sunscreen. I never forget to apply and reapply my daughter’s sunscreen, but in the back of my mind I am still longing for my own beautiful golden glow. Although I love the sun-kissed look, I’ve decided that my flirtation with UV rays needs to end. I need to stop kissing the sun…before it kisses me with skin cancer!

Ladder into skySkin cancer disfigures. It leaves scars, and it kills. I wish that I only knew this from reading text books, but within the past five years I have lost one of my role models to melanoma, and my own mother was diagnosed with a large squamous cell skin cancer on her face. These experiences have prompted me to ask myself, “Why do I work so hard to protect my daughter from the dangers of the sun, while leaving myself exposed to its harmful UV rays? Am I really that vain that I care more about my appearance than ensuring that I’m around to annoy my grandchildren with sun hats, gallons of sunscreen, and a tent sized umbrella for the beach? ” My conclusion…I need to lather up, suit up, shade up, and check up before it’s too late!

1. Lather up

Sunscreen is a must for all women! Putting it on is the first step, but reapplying it is just as important. Sunscreen only lasts for about 2 hours. If you are swimming, sweating, or wiping yourself off with a towel, you will need to put it on more frequently. Make sure that you choose a sunscreen with broad coverage (UVA and UVB protection). This will ensure that you are not only protecting against a sunburn but also against the rays that penetrate more deeply. Your SPF should be at least 15, but if 50 is available use it instead! Higher than 50 doesn’t offer any additional protection as far as we can tell. For day-to-day, when you aren’t in the sun much, make sure that you are still protecting your face. The easiest way to do this is by using a facial cream that contains SPF.

Mother And Daughter Under Beach Umbrella Putting On Sun Cream

2. Suit up

Wearing protective clothing is another way to limit your sun exposure. Many swimming suits and cover ups are made with UV protective fabric. Choosing one of these will help limit your exposure. If you aren’t planning on going for a swim and want to wear normal clothing, choose fabrics that offer more protection such as those made from tightly woven fabrics and darker colors. Another great option is to add sun protection to your clothes in the laundry. Companies like RIT now have laundry additives (such as Sun Guard) that add temporary UV protection to your clothes. Don’t forget a hat! Your head, face, and shoulders often get the most exposure. Wearing a broad rimmed hat (not just a baseball cap) can minimize this exposure the best. Finally, don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses!

3. Shade up

Look for shade! Use an umbrella at the beach and by the pool. Limit the amount of time that you spend in direct sunlight. You can still enjoy the beauty of a sunny day from underneath a canopy. Also, make sure to avoid being in direct sunlight during the most intense times of the day (between 10am  and 2pm). Even if it is a cloudy day UV rays are still beaming down! Make sure that you still seek shade and apply your sunscreen. If you are going to be on the beach, near the pool, or even playing in the snow make sure to take extra precautions. Sand, water, and snow all reflect light. This only increases the strength and damaging power of UV (ultraviolet) rays. Finally, don’t think that trading in the outdoors for a tanning booth is going to do you any favors. Shade yourself from all UV light…even the artificial kind.Beautiful Mother And Baby outdoors. Nature. Beauty Mum and her C

4. Check up

Look at your skin regularly, and for the hard to see parts, make sure that someone else is checking you out (a spouse, friend, or physician). If you notice that a mole has changed in size, shape, or color, get it checked out immediately! Using a mole map will make it easier to track changes in your skin. Make sure that you know the ABCDE’s of melanoma in order to be a good judge of what you are seeing. If you tend to have a lot of moles and sun spots, having a yearly skin check by your primary care physician or a dermatologist is a great idea.

Skin cancer can be prevented, and it can be effectively treated if caught early. These days if I get a sun kissed craving, I remind myself of the risks and reach for a bottle of bronzer instead. Who says a fake tan can’t be just as beautiful?

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

 

Extra Cute Baby Shoes for Those Little Twinkle Toes!!!

BROOKS14PINK_1I already dished on one of my favorite baby shoe brands, Livie and Luca. Now onto another favorite…See Kai Run. This brand makes some super cute early walkers called, Smaller, in addition to their standard toddler and kids shoes. The Smaller collection is soft soled, but these early walkers have supportive grip in just the right places. The toddler shoes have a full firm sole and KRISTINS14NAVY_1are great for running and playing. Ayla thinks they are extra comfy, and most of them can be worn without socks as long as it isn’t too hot and humid outside. Oh, and they have received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association! That means that they are medically good for your little one’s twinkle toes. You can find these online, at Nordstrom, and at Nordstrom Rack (yeah, for sale items!!!). Check them out and let me know what you think! The pics are all taken directly from the See Kai Run webpage. Click the hyperlinks for more great options. RENNAHS14SILVER_2FELIXS14CAMEL_1ASHERS14GRAY_1

From The Mom in Me, MD

Coconut Oil: Is your body really all that crazy about the “Craze”?

Coconuts And Organic Coconut OilWhen my mother-in-law informed me that coconut oil was part of her new diet plan, and my husband announced that he wanted to try a coconut oil chicken recipe from a men’s health magazine, I began to wonder if olive oil really should get the boot from a new-found “healthier” option. Instead of joining the coconut oil craze, I decided to do some hardcore research on the subject for myself-Nothing better than a little reading on the organics and biochemistry of fats!

Plain and simple, coconut oil is a FAT! It is not a weight loss food. It has the same amount of calories as any other fat. Yes, it is a better option than butter and other trans fats because it doesn’t contain any cholesterol, but it doesn’t beat olive oil or other plant-based oils. In fact, coconut oil can still potentially increase your risk for heart disease because it is high in saturated fat (the “bad” kind of fat that you should avoid in your daily diet). Not only is it high in saturated fat…it has the HIGHEST amount of saturated fat of any fat at 92%. I am not saying to avoid all fat in your diet. Fat is necessary for our bodies to function, but in the right daily amounts.IMG_2043

So, why the “Craze”? Does coconut oil really cure cancer, lead to immediate weight loss, and give you a fool-proof immune system? If only!  Coconut oil is an interesting little fat. Although it is high in saturated fat and should be limited in the diet for this reason, it does have some unique properties that may offer some health benefits. Coconut oil is made up of fatty acids. Unlike other fats, the main contributors are a mix of short and medium chain fatty acids, predominantly lauric and myristic acids. It is thought that this mixture may be the reason why coconut oil actually helps to increase HDL (or good cholesterol) in the body. Even though it may give your good cholesterol a strong boost, it will also increase your LDL (or BAD cholesterol). Another positive of coconut oil is its plant-based origin. Plant based products offer antioxidant properties, and coconut oil probably also contains some healthy chemicals that researchers haven’t yet identified. Studies are currently looking at coconut oil’s impact on Alzheimer’s and other diseases, but it is far too early to say that it is a “cure-all”.IMG_2041

So, although it may be tempting to dump your olive oil down the drain, DON’T DO IT! Olive Oil is still a healthier fat option for your heart and your waistline as far as we know. It’s okay to use coconut oil every now and then for a flavorful treat, but DON’T make it your “go to” fat. If you love to bake and are looking for a healthier alternative to butter, then coconut oil is a good alternative. This won’t make your double chocolate chip cookies low-fat, but it might make them just a little bit healthier!

Check out the hyperlinks for more supporting evidence from Harvard, The Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins.

From The Mom in Me, MD

The Best Grilled Corn on the Cob…Husks and All!

Delicious Grilled Mexican CornNothing beats sweet corn in the summer! In the spirit of GRILLING, I thought that I would share my favorite grilled corn on the cob recipe. My only disclaimer is that this is not on the “healthy summer eats” list because I do use butter. You can substitute for a low-fat butter alternative if you would like. I would consider this a “cheat” side if you are watching your waist, your cholesterol, or your sugar.

How to Make the Best Grilled Corn on the Cob…Husks and All: 

1. Prepping the Corn

Prepping the corn does take a little time. You want to purchase ears of corn, husks and all. Pull back the husks on each ear of corn carefully and without removing them so that you can get to the silky threads. Remove the silk and then carefully pull the husks back up to cover the corn. Place the corn in a large pot of cold water to soak for at least 20 minutes (this helps to prevent the husks from burning on the grill).  Dump the water after 20 minutes and get ready to butter the corn. Peel back the husks one more time and dry off just the corn.

2. Choose your seasoned butter (or butter alternative)

You can make any type of butter that you want. That is the beauty of this recipe! You can change it up depending on what you have in the cupboard or what your taste buds are longing for.  Simply soften your butter, spread a thin layer over the corn, and sprinkle with your seasoning. I love to use Herbes de Province as my seasoning, but chili powder is another great option. If you want a lime butter, you can add lime juice (1 tablespoon) and lime zest (1 tablespoon) to 1/3 cup of softened butter and then spread over your corn. Get creative! Try chopping up herbs and mixing into your seasoned butter, or even consider making a pecan butter with chopped nuts.

After the corn is buttered, pull the wet husks back up and place the corn on your hot grill. Cover, but leave vented. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, but make sure to turn the corn. Check fairly frequently because the husks can sometimes set on fire if they get too dry! Careful! They will be hot when you take them off the grill. Serve immediately. This recipe is a modified from Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook. 

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

Ayla’s Library Just Keeps Growing!

IMG_6026This week’s trip to the book store was a fantastic success! Ayla sorted through EVERY last shelf just to make sure she knew all of her literary options.We left with four new favorites! I wasn’t familiar with three of the books, but they are on the MUST PURCHASE LIST! One of them is actually the best children’s book that I have read in years.

1. Snuggle the Baby by Sara Gillingham 

This interactive board book is just too sweet! I am a sucker for all things vintage, and the graphics in this book are vintage at its cutest. Not only does this book have flap and fold components, it also allows the child to feed the baby (bottle not breast, but trying to incorporate breast-feeding might have been a little tricky), change the diaper, swaddle the baby, and even tuck the baby into bed. Ayla loves it! IMG_6009

 

IMG_60042. Alpha Block by Christopher Franceschelli

This thick board book is great for teaching your child the alphabet. Each letter is presented as a die-cut and paired with an adjacent picture and word. The pictures are colorful and again have something of a retro vibe. It is literally a “block” of the alphabet.

3. What Do You Do With An IDEA? by Kobi Yamada 

This book is my absolute new FAVORITE!! I am a fan of The Giving Tree and other sentimental and inspirational stories. This book makes the cut. This story book is great for kids of all ages, not just tiny tots. The illustrations are sweet and the story is inspiring. I wish I had come up with this IDEA for a story! IMG_6136

Check these out and let me know what you think! Oh, and if you are dying to know the 4th book…it was Olivia (as shown in the top picture:) It is definitely another winner! I have included hyperlinks in the titles of each of these books if you would like to purchase them on Amazon.

From The Mom in Me, MD

Our Preemie Journey: Delivery Day…8 Weeks Early!

young pregnant woman sitting on the windowMy mind was fuzzy, my vision blurry, and my body on fire from the magnesium! I felt like I was going to burst like a water balloon from even the tiniest poke. I could barely move my fingers due to the swelling, and I was scared. I was terrified for my unborn child and for myself. Preeclampsia had taken over. It didn’t care that I was just shy of 32 weeks pregnant. It didn’t care about what I had already gone through just to get pregnant! It was mocking my plans for a perfect delivery. I asked myself, “Who attacks a mother and her innocent unborn child? How could a disease be so sadistic…so ruthless?”

I waited for Dave to arrive for what seemed like hours. I was alone, alone with my unborn baby…uncertain of what was going to happen next…uncertain if my child would survive…uncertain if my body would fail me…uncertain of what the future held. A sense of relief washed over me when Dave walked into my hospital room. He hadn’t realized the severity of the situation until he saw me. I was barely recognizable from even the night before. Dave had raced from work, stopping at the house to take the dog out and to throw some overnight clothes together. Little did he realize that our overnight bag would need to get us through the next nine weeks.Fetus 7 Month In The Womb. Visible Head And Arms

The next several hours were filled with ultrasounds from Maternal Fetal Medicine, discussions with the neonatologist (NICU doctor), and constant blood pressure checks and rechecks. I was reassured that 32-week old babies can do very well. They can still have major complications including bleeding in the brain, respiratory distress syndrome, vision problems, and much more; but according to my Ob/Gyn, making it to 32 weeks was a great accomplishment. It didn’t feel like an accomplishment. It felt like a failure. My body was failing my baby and me. Once again, my best efforts could do nothing to change the situation.

Because our baby’s lungs hadn’t gotten the chance to fully develop, I was stabbed with the first of two steroid shots to speed up the process. A plan had been put in place. We were going to wait for my 24-hour urine protein to come back, and we were going to try to get both steroid shots in before delivery (these had to be spaced out by 24 hours).

I was a little nervous about a C-section, but I was willing to do whatever it took to keep my baby safe. Because my blood pressure was so incredibly high, an attempt at a vaginal delivery was out of the question. Starting an induction would be too hard on the baby and on my already stressed body.

The minute that my 24-hour urine protein results arrived the conservative timetable was thrown out the window. I was loaded into a wheelchair and told that the C-section was happening NOW! My urine protein was the highest that my Ob/Gyn had ever seen. The baby was starting to have some dips in her heart rate, and we couldn’t wait any longer. Delivery was the only “cure” for preeclampsia. My leg was stabbed too early with the second steroid shot in a last ditch effort to give our baby’s lungs every chance to mature. The magnesium and blood pressure medications continued to run into my veins, in an attempt to prevent me from having a seizure or stroke.

As the nurse wheeled me down the hallway, I pleaded desperately with God. He had answered my heart’s longing for a child. I had watched my belly grow with awe, wonder and gratitude. This baby was my answered prayer. He had to protect her! If not, then why had he given her to me in the first place? I loved this little being that I had never met more than my mind could comprehend. He couldn’t take her from me now…not after we had made it this far.

The spinal was more unpleasant than I had imagined. For some reason the idea of a huge needle poking into the nerve track in my back freaked me out more than just a little. I wasn’t worried about having my belly cut open with a scalpel, but a giant needle wasn’t my idea of fun. I hunched, I hugged the pillow, and I hunched some more. After three attempts, the needle was finally in the correct position. I was transferred to the operating table, and prepped for surgery. I had assisted in numerous emergency C-sections during residency. I had reassured many panicked mothers that everything would be “just fine”. Now I was the panicked mother, and I found that my own advice fell flat.

I remember the tugging and pulling during the c-section, and that the spinal was just as unpleasant as patients have described. My blood pressure dropped fairly rapidly at one point, causing me to vomit.

My C-section!

The C-section felt like an eternity. Just as they were pulling the baby out of my belly, my blood pressure dropped precipitously from the anesthesia, and I began to vomit. I vaguely remember the attending physician showing my baby to me before she was whisked to the resuscitation table. Her skin was dusky. She wasn’t crying! Was she breathing? I couldn’t see. What was happening? And, then I heard her. I heard her first cry. It was a small cry, but it was fierce. She was a fighter. She was in the lightweight division at 3 pounds 2 ounces, but she was a fighter!

My baby was born at 3 lb. 2 oz. She was whisked away to be resuscitated.

Ayla in the Delivery Room being Resuscitated

Before I could catch another glimpse of my precious baby, she was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with her daddy close behind. I felt physically sick, helpless, and alone. I was her mother, but I had yet to hold my baby. I wanted to be at her side, but I could barely keep my eyes open. I wanted Dave at my side, but I knew that he needed to be with our baby. My mind was heavy, clouded by painkillers, anesthetics, and magnesium. As the last stitch was placed in my belly, I drifted off. When I awoke to a soaring blood pressure and splitting headache, I realized that I was in a fight for my life. Preeclampsia was still my master, and it wasn’t finished with me yet. Delivery had only made it more determined to destroy me, but I was a fighter too!

From The Mom in Me, MD

Healthy Summer Eats: Watermelon Salad Squared

Watermelon. Woman showing whole watermelon on isolated white bacWatermelon is one of the most refreshing fruits! Not only does it hydrate, help prevent kidney stones, and give us essential vitamins (A, C, and B6), it tastes delicious on a warm summer day. Although a slice is delicious, here are a couple of options to wow the taste buds and your guests.

Many watermelons are large enough to feed a family of 10 for a few days. Instead of cutting it all up, or only making one dish with it, try out both of these simple but delicious watermelon salad recipes.

1. Watermelon Caprese Salad: 

1/2 Watermelon either cut into small squares or made into round balls

1 container of fresh mozzarella balls or if you get a block of fresh mozzarella simply cut it into small chunks.

2 large sprigs of fresh Basil leaves chopped, torn, or whole (however you please!)

A drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar

Putting it all together:

Simply mix the watermelon, mozzarella, and basil gently in a bowl. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar lightly over the top and again toss gently.

2. Watermelon-Mint Salad with Lime and Honey Dressing:

1/2 watermelon cut into small squares or made into round balls

1/2 container or  1/2 bunch of fresh mint leaves chopped or torn

Mix equal parts lime juice and honey and then drizzle over the water melon. (usually a 1/4 cup of each is sufficient, but I just guesstimate! Toss everything together and serve. Delicious! You can sprinkle a little feta cheese on this if you like, but you don’t have to. Either way…it’s scrumptious and refreshing.

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

Every Foodie’s Favorite Turkey Burger…or at least it should be!

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At HomeIf you are looking for a healthy alternative to burgers on the grill…look no further! Don’t be fooled! This isn’t your typical turkey burger. Your inner foodie is going to love it! This one is also a modified version taken from The Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook. 

The most important part for making sure it is truly a healthier option is your ground turkey choice. Make sure that you look for ground turkey breast. This is a much leaner option. Most packages will tell you the fat content as well. Although ground turkey does come 99% fat-free extra lean, using this meat on the grill may result in a pretty dry burger. Consider opting up for a little more fat with the 97% fat-free lean to keep some juiciness.

Again, I’m “dishing” all my secret recipes! I decided it was a little selfish to keep them all to myself. Let me introduce you to…

Gourmet Turkey Burgers with Apple-Mint Relish:

The Burgers:

2lbs of ground turkey breast (lean)

1 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup scallions or green onion

1 clove minced garlic or 1 tablespoon

1 1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Mix it all together (I always use my hands). Make your patties and throw them on the grill. Turn them a few times and cook all the way through. Undercooked turkey is not a good idea!

The Apple-Mint Relish:

2 apples (usually either Golden Delicious or Fuji work best) finely diced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh mint

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Toss it all together to make your relish. Put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let the flavors come together.

Putting it all together:

You can choose any bun or bread, but I love to use homemade onion rolls (most grocery stores carry these in the bakery section). Throw on the burger, layer on some spinach instead of lettuce, and then top it with your apple-mint relish. Finally, spread some Dijon Mustard on the top bun and presto! The only problem with these burgers is that they are a mouth full! I like to pair these with sweet potato fries or grilled corn on the cob and a fruit salad.

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

 

Healthy Summer Eats: Tandoori Chicken on the Grill!

Grilled Chicken Skewer With SaladSo, I swore that I would never share this recipe! It has been my entertaining go to for several years now, and it is always a hit. Not only is it fairly easy, it is incredibly healthy and delicious. Although it’s primarily meant for summer grilling, I adapt it for the winter months too by baking the chicken instead of grilling it…still delicious!

Mediterranean food is just plain healthy (It’s also my favorite). Give me some tabouli and hummus, and I’m in paradise. Although tandoori is technically an Indian dish, I like to pair it with Mediterranean sidekicks. The yogurt marinade and side sauce make the ensemble work deliciously. Even if you don’t usually gravitate toward ethnic foods, give it a try. Your taste buds may surprise you. My sidekicks for this chicken dish include rice pilaf, tabouli, pita and hummus, and a watermelon/mint salad for dessert. Here is my version adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook.

The Chicken Marinade: 

3/4 cups plain yogurt

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I often double the recipe for company)

Chicken Directions: 

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. Using a knife, score the chicken (make small cuts into the meat). Place flat in a dish and pour the above marinade over the meat, coating both sides completely. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (overnight is even better). Get the grill going, and throw the chicken on. Use the left over marinade to re-coat the chicken when you flip it. Cook on grill until fully cooked (approx. 20-30 min).

The Side Sauce:

1 cucumber chopped

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Side Sauce Directions: 

Simply mix it all together and serve it on top of the chicken or on the side as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

Enjoy!!

From The Mom in Me, MD