Tomato season is here and its officially spring!!
I love spring season, its one of my favorite seasons of the year. The weather is a perfect warmth of 72-80 degrees, which I personally love. We get way more sunny hours so that means I get keep my windows open longer and enjoy the cool crisp air of the spring season.
I also love my garden. I have been a gardener for two years and I truly love it. For many years I have always dreamed of having a vegetable garden. I believe this wish started as a child when I used to follow both of my grandmothers around in their gardens. My Grandma Juana has tons of chili growing for my grandpa (he loved his spicy food).
My grandma Juana also has fruit trees growing, and herbs. Grandma Juana still makes the best fresh juices from her guava, lemon, and, orange trees. Grandma Juana also makes the best homemade apricot jam that I have ever had. I jokingly call this grandma the original hipster. She always advocates frugal living and eating nutrient dense foods. Grandma Juana is seriously ahead of her times, or for that matter she is the trend that was meant to be our trend now.
My grandmother from my moms side of family is Selena, aka Nana. Nana lived in Baja California for a few years when I was a teenager. My grandparents both decided to retire to Mexico, therefore we often visited them in Ensenada. I loved our visits to Ensenada. Our visit with them are most memorable to me, because this is the time we truly were able to spend quality time with both of them. My grandparents both seemed in their element too. As a girl I remember following my Nana around in her backyard garden full of flower, succulents, and, fruit trees. I would watch her water her garden in silence during the early mornings or late afternoon, she was so content with her plants.
I don’t think you need to have green thumb to be good gardener. However, I just believe there needs to be a will to want to tend to your garden. For me, my garden does very well. I am shocked at this at times because I started out not having a clue what to do. Even though I grew up watching my grandmas tend to their garden with their “green thumbs”, I personally didn’t know what the secret is growing a garden. My grandmothers both speak Spanish and I speak none. Yes I know, its pretty sad.
My Grandma Juana would start to tell me in English her garden secrets but she would then venture into finishing off her garden secrets in Spanish. ( I am sure some of you reading this can relate). The important message they both taught me without spoken words is they both loved gardening. As a little girl I must have picked up on their love vibes of gardening and somehow carried that love with me. I knew I wanted to have a garden of my on in my life that I can tend to so I can have the peace and tranquility I saw in my grandmothers while they gardened.
How I learned to grow my garden
This weekend is Easter weekend, one of my favorite holidays. I have many great memories as a kid when it was Easter. We as a family, would travel over to my grandparents houses and visit both families. Both of my grandparents live in the same city so that made it easy for us as a family to see both sides of the family and too be honest it still does. My grandmothers are both still alive, therefore I am very blessed to be in my mid 30’s and have both of them in life and being able to visit them.
Easter for me as a kid was filled with family, tons of food, sweet treats (sometimes homemade), and baskets galore from aunts and uncles. Easter is as big holiday for our family. I would leave back home after our Easter visit from the grandparents houses with chocolates bunnies, baskets full of candy and a full belly!
During the Easter egg hunt my uncle would secretly tell me where all the eggs were hidden so that I can get the upper hand on all my older cousins. I am the youngest grand daughter on my dads side of the family so this came with perks; especially during the Easter egg hunt!
Now that I am full grown women and have a family of my own I still enjoy Easter. Easter is the same for me since I was a child. That same tradition of Easter is passed on to my kids, they even get the exact same atmosphere as I did (this makes me smile as I write this). As a mother there is no greater joy then to make the holidays special and meaningful for your kids. I have to credit my parents and family for creating the feelings joy on Easter I felt as a child. I have many great Easter memories. The love of passing down the holiday tradition/spirit to my kids, which is a big deal to me.
Why I meal Prep?
Every Monday for the past year I have done meal prep Mondays. I make healthy lunches for myself and my husband. Making and prepping our lunches ahead of time has saved me a ton of time during the week, therefore I no longer feel overwhelmed as soon as 12pm rolls around due to the fact I am stressing about what to make myself for lunch. I would spend 30 min every day making myself something to eat. At times my lunches weren’t the healthiest of foods either because I just wanted to throw any food together.
I decided last year that I need to change this and somehow make my lunches healthier and easier. Meal prepping seemed like the solution for me. So I bought myself a Instant Pot pressure cooker on black Friday 2015. I didn’t really know how to use it so after reading blogs and watching YouTube this kitchen gadget became my best friend!
I use my Instant Pot often, as it cuts down cooking time in major ways. The Instant pot works like a slow cooker but takes way less time. For example; I used to make bone broth in my slow cooker and that recipe takes 24 hours to complete. Cooking in the Instant Pot takes 2 hours to complete. Carnitas is another recipe that would take 8 hours to cook in the slow cooker, now in the Instant pot it takes 1 hour for perfectly shredded carnitas.
I highly suggest getting the Instant Pot. I also highly recommend getting into the habit of meal prepping your meals. Trust me its a time savor. Meal prepping ensures my husband and I have quality, nourishing, healthy lunches.
You can find all my meal prep must haves here . Scroll all the way down the page till you see the title ” Meal Prepping Favorites”.
My last week on the 21 Day Sugar Detox, Week 3:
Low Carb | Healthy | Clean Eating
Mashed Cauliflower Shepard’s Pie Recipe
Last weeks detox journey was very interesting, it basically made me face the temptation of sweets head on with the celebration of my daughters 7th birthday. I also had to deal with feeling overwhelmed with juggling the party planning, food prep, and staying on track. I breezed through week 2. You can find my 21 Day Sugar Detox blog post week 2 HERE.
21 Day Sugar Detox week 3 was full of a whole other set of challenges. This week is the week that I knew would make or break the detox for me. The week in general is always one of the hardest week I have to endure every year. This week is my 1st daughters birthday week, her name is Hailey, she will be 14 years old on January 20th. Hailey however sleeps in heaven. She passed away at 6 weeks old almost 14 years ago. It was sudden and unexpected, it turned my world upside down. I won’t get into too much detail now about my little butterfly in heaven Hailey (I will right a future blog post about her when I am ready) but I wanted to touch on it because her loss was something I had to go through while on the sugar detox.
Normally around this time I would use sweets to comfort my pain from the loss of my daughter Hailey. A bowl of ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, candy, pie, etc… does sound pretty good and comforting when your heart is hurting right? It’s what you naturally want to do. Even we as mothers give our kids a bowl of ice cream when they are sad. My brain dealt with her loss in the form of sweets for many years. This year however would be different for me. I would have to find a way to deal with my emotions and not use sugar to sooth my heart. That also meant no beloved wine either (darn)!!!
21 Day Sugar Detox week two experience…
The 2nd week of the 21 Day Sugar Detox was different from my 1st week. My first week as you may have read in my week one blog post have been full of cravings, sugar detox symptoms, hunger, and headaches (also known as the carb flu)
This week however, was much more tolerable to me and my husband. The week started out with me meal prepping my lunches for myself and my husband. I also pre-planned my dinners as well. For breakfast I basically ate the same thing every morning. I know eating the same thing EVERY morning doesn’t sound fun but why make life harder, especially on a detox if you don’t mind a few meals being the same, so for me breakfast was pretty basic.
My breakfast consisted of:
21 Day Sugar Detox Week One: The Hidden Sugar!
It’s the New Year, January 2017 therefore it is resolution time for me. I have major goals this year but my first goal in mind is to conquer the BIG sweet tooth I have, have always loved sweets. I am an anything with chocolate fan. In fact, the way to my heart is paved with chocolate. I eat pretty “clean” these days but my biggest downfall is sweets. Most people who know me assumeI eat super healthy all the time; and most of the time I do…until I see some sweets in front of me!
My big problem is that I like artificial sweeteners and I have been using them a lot. My first go to was Splenda (many years ago), but then I learned Splenda isn’t the healthiest option for you because it is loaded with chemicals that can be hard on your body. Then I found Stevia so I figured this is the answer to my artificial sweetener dilemma. I made the switch over to Stevia which I heard is a all natural sweetener and has minimal processing, plus it is a actual herb.
This notion totally feed into my sugar monster habit. I was using Stevia everyday in my morning coffee. Often, I bought jellies and syrups and would consume these with my morning breakfast. I also used Stevia to bake with often. I probably used Stevia about 4-6 times a day, so basically anything that had sugar in it I would replace it with Stevia. This would fuel my no guilt habit since it was zero calorie just like Splenda.
Then one day I was reading a blog post (read here) from the Paleo Mom blog. In her blog post she address all the sweeteners
there, ranging from natural to artificial. When it came to the topic of Stevia she broke it down really well to me. Basically, the article explains that Stevia is a processed artificial sweetener, especially if it comes in the form of white powder. Stevia actually comes from a plant that is green so they have to process and bleach it in order for it to become the white colored powder that we all see in the store.
On top of all this, the Stevia we often see in the stores are mixed with another powder called dextrose, so in reality we aren’t even getting the true Stevia plant. After reading the blog post I went to the store and started to look at the usual brands I bought, which are Stevia In The Raw or Pure Via. I thought to myself, “wow Paleo Mom was right”.
As I researched more about Stevia I had found it doesn’t really help your body. For example; it will make you crave more sweets just like all other artificial sweeteners in the market and Stevia will make you bloated because your stomach has a hard time breaking it down due to all the processing that is done to it. Stevia also plays with many hormones such as; hunger hormone signals, women hormones, and even brain signaling appetite hormones as well.