Cooking, Family, Health

My Favorite Dairy-Free Snacks (& treats)

Happy Monday!

Brandon left for a work trip early this morning, which leaves me at home in chilly January with a wild little toddler!  We wanted to go with him, but since he was only going to be gone for 5 days, spending the money on a flight, rental car, and to board our dog didn’t make sense.  We are a little sad, but trying to make the most of it!

Saturday, I went to my mailbox to find a care package from a lady I met a few weeks ago.  She was asking if anyone had any extra breastmilk they would be able to donate for her twin granddaughters coming into town from out of state for the holidays.  I am very thankful to be able to produce enough milk for Ben plus enough for our freezer, in case of emergencies.  As our breastfeeding journey continues, I haven’t needed to dip into the stash very much (and he prefers getting his milk from the tap!), so I’ve been able to give it to (now) 4 babies that also need it.  It brings me so much joy to be able to do so.  Anyway, this care package was unexpected, but included a kind thank you note, a photo of the adorable little babies, and a roller of an essential oil mix that she called, “Happy Mama”.  It smells so pretty and I’ve been using it to help me relax while he is gone.  It really does make me feel calmer, and knowing how much they appreciated my milk makes my heart smile so big!  I love nothing more than unexpectedly showing true gratitude.  I could tell she genuinely appreciated the gift when she came to pick it up, but this gesture went above and beyond, making my whole week.

Today is a rainy one, so we have decided to stay in our jammies and spend lots of time snuggling while Dad is gone.  Ben takes after me in his love of snacks, which I’ve stocked up on for this week!  Dairy unfortunately upsets Ben’s belly, so we have cut out snacks and treats with butter, milk, and cheese from both of our diets, since it travels through my breastmilk to him. It was a little tough to remove dairy from my life.  I’ve ALWAYS enjoyed milk, cheesy/buttery meals, ice cream, yogurt, and milk chocolate.  You don’t realize how many things contain dairy until you start looking at labels.  The good news is that it has gotten significantly easier.  I have found so many dairy-free and vegan treats that I have found to taste similar, or even better, to their COWnterparts (get it?).  Since so many people I know have babies with sensitivities like Ben, or are realizing the adverse effects of dairy and are adapting to the dairy-free lifestyle like me, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my favorite snacks and treats that contain zero dairy (and SOY)!

SNACKS

  • LÄRABAR has been a favorite of mine since before Ben came around!  They have over 20 flavors with minimal ingredients, are all natural, and are individually packaged, making them super convenient for diaper bags and purses.  I always have one with me!

Image result for larabar

  • Nuts are another great, natural treat.  My husband’s favorite are the mixed assorted nuts from Aldi.  They are perfectly salted and contain lots of healthy fats and some protein.  I keep a little container of them in my car while I’m running errands so my hunger doesn’t get the best of me and lead to bad decisions (I see you, Chick Fil-A!).

Specially Selected Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt

  • Apples seem like such an obvious choice, but I have a new appreciation for an organic apple, sliced, with a little peanut butter.  Sometimes, I’ll put the slices on a plate, sprinkle them with cinnamon, and will warm them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.  It tastes so much like apple pie without all the added sugar!  Bonus: Ben loves them too!
  • I came across THESE Maple Walnut & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Healthy Life Redesign when I was looking for a healthy snack for our vacation last summer.  I made them for hiking snacks, and Brandon and I devoured them all!  They are totally amazing and provided us with a lot of much-needed energy to hike with our 6 month old in the mountains along The Blue Ridge Parkway, and didn’t come with any guilt or a sugary crash later on.  I’ve made them several times sense, and they never last long!

 

TREATS

  • Theo Peanut Butter Cups are my newest obsession!  Reeses are made with milk chocolate and lots of added chemicals I don’t want to consume.  These guys are organic, vegan, fair trade, and are shaped like hearts (which I’m totally convinced makes ANYTHING taste better!).  They are the perfect treat without being too indulgent.

Image result for theo peanut butter cups

  • SO Delicious Dairy Free Bars are also so incredible.  It’s so difficult to find a treat to satisfy my sweet tooth that doesn’t taste really coconut-ty or contain dairy or soy.  For the times you want to totally indulge, these are perfect and creamy.  SO Delicious has several flavors of treats I can’t wait to try, but these double chocolate ones are my favorite!

Double Chocolate Delight

  • “Nice Cream” is what I call the dairy free ice cream I make at home that is so healthy and yummy!  I peel a few ripe bananas (the more ripe they are, the sweeter they will be), break them into 3 or 4 pieces each, and pop them in the freezer.  When you are ready for a treat, take them out of the freezer, put them in your blender or food processor (I have a Ninja chopper that does a perfect job), add a little almond or cashew milk, and blend!  I’ve also made this with cocoa powder and peanut butter powder to make different flavors, depending on my mood, but it’s so good as is.  My picky husband wasn’t sure he’d like it, but when I gave him a bite of mine one day, he ended up finishing the whole bowl!
  • Chocolate chip cookies are one of my all-time favorites.  But with all the butter in the usual recipe, I can no longer enjoy them like I’d like.  I found THIS recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron on Pinterest and have made them many times.  Not only are they dairy and soy free, but they are gluten free and low in sugar, as well.  No funky chemicals here.  When made with dairy-free chocolate chips like Enjoy Life brand, you can enjoy a few after dinner without the guilt!  I’ve made them as stated and also as double chocolate by omitting the cinnamon and adding cocoa powder.

I’m always looking for healthy and yummy treats for Ben and I to enjoy.  Do you have any favorites I should try?  I’d love to hear what you think about these ones!

Health, Uncategorized

New Year’s Resolutions (2018)

Even though it’s so predictable, I try to set resolutions at the start of every new year. For the sake of not sounding so cliché, let’s call them goals.

I know a lot of people hate these things. The way I see it, there is a brand new year unfolding in front of you. This year, that also happened to be a new week, as well. There’s something so refreshing and invigorating about the new start that excites me to change my life. These changes, while often small, have led to some great habits that are now simply a new way of life for me. I never flossed until a few years ago (eww, I know, not my proudest confession), but thanks to a new years resolution (and one too many cavities at a dentist appointment 🙊), I can proudly say I haven’t skipped a day of flossing in over 2 years!

I am determined to make 2018 my best year yet. That says a lot, since 2017 was pretty darn amazing! Here are some of my goals for the new year.

  • Drink more water. I’m still nursing Ben, but I’m also now chasing him around the house! Both require more water consumption, but I also feel much better when I’m hydrated.
  • Read more books. Ben’s little brain has been like a sponge lately, and he’s learning something remarkable every day. I want to make time to read out loud to him everyday.
  • Be more mindful.  I want to spend less time in front of a screen and more time with my family, making memories, and spending time in more meaningful ways.  I think this is my biggest goal for the year.
  • Juice and/or salad every day.  I am trying to also make this year my healthiest one yet.  Brandon and I bought a juicer and have been juicing organic produce in it nearly every day.  We are trying to eat more of a plant-based diet, and this is definitely a delicious way to fill our bodies with healthy micronutrients!
  • Daily devotions/prayer/meditation.  It’s so easy to wake up and become quickly engulfed in everything going on around us.  All too often, the first things we hear in our day after checking social media or turning on the news is that something terrible has happened in the crazy world we live in.  I find I get so caught up in it all and often find myself stressed and anxious.  There’s no need for that when just a few quiet moments with deep breathing and God are all I need to set my mind straight and have an amazingly brighter day.

I’m working toward becoming a better ME in 2018.  Have you set some goals for yourself for the new year?  I’d love to hear about them!