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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Banana Bundt Bread with Muesli Topping

tea with banana granola bread bundt cake

As many of you know, I've recently had twins.  In fact, they turn six weeks on Wednesday, which is insane.  Most days it seems like the time has flown.  Of course though, there are the days that seem so dragged out, it seems impossible.  But hey, I think that's pretty normal when your sleep schedule (or lack thereof) is all over the place.  Often I am disoriented and my husband regularly catches me checking the mailbox on Sundays, and putting the garbage and recycle cans out on random non-pick up days of the week.  So forgive me; I said I would post this days ago, but hey, they fact that I remembered at all is pretty good.  Plus I still have my mom around to help babysit, though that alas, ends tomorrow.

Honestly though, recipe creation has helped my constant disorientation and sleepless state. Baking has and probably always will soothe me, and as an added benefit, I have something tasty to nibble on when I'm famished at 4:30am after already having been awake for hours and completed several sessions of pumping milk and feeding the girls.  Basically I have no plans to stop baking though it will be much longer until I resume running my own business.  Plus the twins were very used to being in the kitchen in utero; I'm sure that's why they don't mind being wrapped in a carrier or the Weego while I move around the kitchen to bake or clean bottles.  (Nope, I haven't been cooking.  I actually love baking but usually hate cooking, so having babies as an excuse not to prepare full meals has been pretty nice).  In the meantime though, you should be able to find some great allergen-free healthy treat recipes here, and trust me, they will all be relatively easy and quick to make, as I have found my free time dramatically limited thanks to these little nuggets.

Blair and Ivy: sneaky little sleep-robbers

Banana Bundt Bread with Muesli Topping
yields 4 mini bundts or one loaf

seven sundays muesli in banana bread


1/4 cup gluten-free oats, ground into flour*
1/4 cup almonds, ground into flour*
1/4 cup gluten-free flour*
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large banana, mashed (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup muesli or granola**

banana bundt tea cake


1.  Spritz pans with oil and preheat oven to 350F.
2.  Whisk dry ingredients together.  *You can use 3/4 cup gluten-free all purpose flour, or all or partial oat or almond flour.  I ground oats and almonds into a flour-like consistency, and used 2 TBSP garbanzo bean flour and 2 TBSP brown rice flour, but any combination of gluten-free flours will do except coconut.
3.  Whisk wet ingredients together, and gently fold dry ingredients into the wet.
4.  Spoon muesli or granola into the bottoms of the pan (this will become the top, and you can also make a layer in the center between batter).  Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and depan.

** I used Seven Sundays Cocoa & Granola Muesli; a new gluten-free flavor that was sent to me as a holiday gift from the brand.  I love it, inhaled it, and am sad now that I cannot find it in my local Whole Foods.  Any muesli or granola should work great, though I have to say the cinnamon-honey-cocoa pieces in the Seven Sundays Muesli is pretty amazing if I do say so.

Seven Sundays Muesli recipe

This recipe pairs pretty wonderfully with chamomile tea.  I also suspect coffee would be a tasty combination.  Or a coconut milk latter, perhaps.  Oh my, I would love one of those so much. With this bundt recipe.  I suspect a repeat of this treat is in the near future!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Honey Pumpkin Brownies

honey pumpkin brownies gluten-free

instagram @squarebars honey pumpkin brownie with squarebar
With the babies' schedule I find myself having ridiculous hours, yet between 3:30 and 5am, I'm usually my most productive.  Yesterday morning I was able to get some of my NPS Foundation work done, and perhaps more significantly, create this easy one-bowl brownie recipe that is completely flourless/grain-free and a breeze to make.  The batter is mixed in minutes, and clean-up is quick; two musts when you're taking care of two little newborns!

Also since I'm obsessed with Squarebars (my go-to treat or dessert when I'm not making my own), I decided to create a fancy breakfast of a honey pumpkin brownie, dollop of plain coconut milk yogurt and 1/3 of a chopped up protein bar.  I have to say, my day became much better after that!  It looks and tastes pretty decadent, but is super filling, nutritious and protein-packed.  I promise you won't be disappointed with this easy healthy pumpkin.  Pumpkin in everything is usually a good idea in my world.

Honey Pumpkin Brownies

1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup raw honey
4 eggs
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP raw cacao powder
1/3 cup nondairy chocolate chips


1.  Grease an 8" pan with oil, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Stir all ingredients well in a large mixing bowl, and fold chips in last.  Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chocolate chips depending on your preferred level of sweetness; I used 1/3 cup of Enjoy Life nondairy chocolate chunks, chopped up, and it was sweet enough!

enjoy life chocolate chunks

one-bowl pumpkin brownies

spread brownie batter in pan

3.  Bake 30-35 min or until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out mostly clean.  Let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.  Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

Topped with plain coconut yogurt and a piece of chopped up vegan protein bar

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Expecting Twins

two weeks old, and yes, they fit in a shoe box.

Okay, so unless I throw a recipe in here somewhere, this is a post about expecting and having twins.  If you're on the blog simply for fitness or food, feel free to skip ahead or look at past recipes.  It will be a little while before I have fitness posts again--about four more weeks not that I'm counting or anything! ;)

I just thought I would take advantage of a rare hour between pumping and feeding the twins to write a little about my experience in the hopes it may help someone expecting twins to feel a little more prepared.  I thought I would be completely prepared considering I am a twin, my little brothers are a set of twins and my mother (obviously) gave birth to two sets of twins.  And in many ways, I did know what to expect.

Blair and Ivy, our early Christmas presents

The Pregnancy:

My pregnancy was okay; I must admit I am not one of those women who love being pregnant.  As a very active individual, I was slightly depressed the first trimester when I was very sick and low energy.  I had to stop doing my bakery business before the second trimester began because I was constantly nauseous and fatigued.  I was banned from running early on which also was hard, especially the times I did feel good enough to run.  The second trimester was certainly better; I had more energy and walked daily and swam and did some barre exercises.  The third trimester was back to being tired and very, very uncomfortable.  I couldn't sleep and one baby (Blair) would often feel like she was trying to get up under my ribs, and Ivy was so low she was pressing on some nerves that made me feel like I constantly needed to be in the bathroom, and the low back pain was at times almost unbearable.  I did enjoy feeling the little kicks at times, and it was a little stunning to see the rate at which my belly expanded, but it was not a comfortable experience by any means.

Also twin mommas--be prepared for a ton of doctor visits.  I started out seeing my OB every 2 weeks, a neonatologist specialist once a month (to check the babies' growth and anatomies), an endocrinologist for my thyroid and then non-stress tests (NSTs) at the hospital once a week starting at week 29.  The OB appointments increased to once a week in the third trimester, and the specialist appointments every 2 weeks, and NSTs twice a week.  So be prepared for a LOT of ultrasounds!  Also, don't panic if something seems "wrong" initially.  With so many appointments, it is likely there will be an anomaly suspected at one point.
At one appointment, it looked like there might be an issue with Blair's heart so for a few days until my appointment in San Francisco, I was a distraught mess.  I kept imagining all sorts of heart problems and of course I imagined the worst scenarios.  After several sleepless nights, we went for a fetal heart echo test which revealed everything was fine, so it was a bunch of worry and stress for nothing.  So though it is hard, try not to panic at every little anomaly that pops up.

In terms of baby prep, I had the nursery done before my third trimester, and my hospital bag and the babies' bag packed at about 30 weeks.  I went on a hospital tour just before 30 weeks despite all the other mommas being about 40 weeks and ready to pop.  The nurse giving the tour described all the great hospital services and nice laboring room and accessories, and several times turned to me to say "except for you."  Yes, if you're carrying twins, you will be delivering in a sterile cold operating room with bright lights and a lot of people.  You won't be in a quiet dark room with your support person and gentle music playing, sorry.  For me, I was pretty sure I would have to have a C-Section anyways; both twins were breech or vertex since about 28 weeks, and as I was told, they did not change positions after 32 weeks.  Some nurses will tell you cheerfully you still have time for them to switch positions, but most of what I heard and read about was that they rarely switch positions after 32 weeks--there is just no room, and mine were definitely out of room by then.

I knew premature twins were a strong possibility.  It annoyed me when a nurse told me I should wait to schedule my pre-admissions interview (I scheduled it for 32 weeks) since "surely my twins wouldn't be that early."  I took a breastfeeding class at 31 weeks where I was told things like not to give the babies pacifiers or not to bottle feed as much as possible so that the baby will enjoy breastfeeding more and not be confused.  The lactation specialist teaching the class also told us not to give our baby formula as "breast milk is best", and that the hospital would not give formula without our request.  I had read several breastfeeding books and was determined to feed my girls breast milk only, so I was glad to hear this.

Of course, the same day after my pre-admissions interview at 32 weeks doing paperwork and birth certificate forms, etc, I started having horrible back pain and strong and intense contractions and was admitted for pre-term labor that night.  If I wasn't so uncomfortable, I would have told that nurse "See?? I told you!" Yes it is great to be positive and determined you will get to 37 or 38 weeks.  But be prepared that your body and the babies might have their own agenda.

This is the point where I wish my OB too had been a little more straightforward with me.  Though he was pretty great overall, I had some qualms about the information given to me as a twin mother.  He had told me along along my goal was to get to 37-38 weeks, which of course is full term for twins and would have been ideal.  Since my sister and I was born at 32 weeks though, I knew it was very possible to have them earlier than desirable.  What I didn't know was that if I started labor that early, I wouldn't get to stay at the nice hospital I was familiar with nor would my OB deliver the girls.

When my labor couldn't be stopped after being given Terbutaline and then Nifedipine and finally, magnesium sulfate, I was injected with Antenatal corticosteroids to help the babies' lungs develop faster.  The magnesium sulfate was also administered to help their brains.  I was then told I would be transferred to another hospital about 25 minutes north because they had a level 3 NICU that the twins would need if they arrived soon.  I wasn't dilating (only about 1-2cm) but my cervix was almost completely thinned and it seemed like the contractions wouldn't stop, and the doctors wanted me at the other hospital before things progressed.  My OB told me he wasn't surprised given my petite frame that they were early (why he hadn't ever brought up the correlation between being a smaller women and an increased likelihood of premature twins before, I'm not sure, but he repeated it often in my final weeks of pregnancy) and that the babies would be fine, and it wasn't my fault.  All were kind words to reassure me, but I wondered why he hadn't gone through a sort of "hey, you're small, you were born early, your twins might be too so just in case this is what it would be like if they are more than 4 weeks early," etc., with me during one of my many once-a-week OB visits.

The Hospital/False Start:

I was very upset and confused; I had no idea my OB wouldn't be delivering--instead whoever happened to be working at the other hospital would--and my husband had gone home to get bags and let the dogs out; he didn't know I would be transferred, either.  My back was in the worst pain I could imagine (hello, back labor!) and my phone was dead, so I had to beg a nurse to borrow her cell phone, as my room phone wouldn't allow an out-of-state cell number to go through.  I took a very painful and what seemed like an incredibly long and bumpy ambulance ride alone, and long story short, the next hospital was able to stop my labor with Procardia, and kept me there for a week to monitor me and the babies.  It was a horrible week at a hospital considerably less nice than the one I had been getting non-stress tests at and getting to know the nurses for the previous weeks.  But I knew it was for the benefits of the babies.

I won't go through every detail but I had a miserable time at the hospital north of where I live.
We could hear women giving birth every night in adjacent rooms, they did not have any heat packs like the last hospital did (bring your own heating pad if your hospital doesn't have them--this is a must if you get horrible back pain!)  I couldn't sleep, and the nursing staff wasn't quite what I was hoping for.

I definitely lost weight during my stay too as the food was horrible and I could only eat the rice and occasional applesauce.  Though I had an allergy bracelet and it was documented I am allergic to gluten, dairy, corn, soy and many nuts, I was served meals like this:

Beef, corn tortillas and veggies with corn and sprite and milk to drink.
And yes, the card on the tray says vegetarian and listed my allergies.  Next to the carton of milk...
I asked to speak to a nutritionist and was vaguely told she was off for a few days.
Dave ate my hospital food and brought me food he bought or made at home for me.  (He ate the pictured meal above and promptly got a stomachache).  My appetite was poor though especially being miserable and in pain.  I had a couple great nurses and many not-so-great.  One was so terrible I asked for a new nurse.  My request was ignored twice and finally my husband was able to speak to the head nurse and demand a replacement, only after he agreed to fill out a form explaining why the request was made.  I was told by a lactation consultant and several nurses that you can ALWAYS ask for a new nurse or doctor if you are uncomfortable, but at this hospital, it proved to be a very frustrating ordeal.
Finally, I was released when it seemed like labor wasn't going to start again immediately, and told to come back right away at the first signs of labor.  I'm sure the level 3 NICU was great there, but nothing else was and I was determined not to have to go back.


Home was wonderful after that.  I was told I was basically an incubator and to take it easy and somehow kept the babies in another 3-1/2 weeks!  I was still in pain though not as bad as week 32, and though at times laying or sitting around uncomfortably doing nothing was terrible, (good luck reading a novel; flipping through magazines or Instagram was all I could handle for a few minutes at a time) but it was considerably better in my home environment with goldendoodles to cuddle with!

Flash forward:  I convinced my husband to take me to the aquarium at 35-1/2 weeks as I was so bored hanging around the house taking it easy and it seemed like the babies were going to hang out for awhile yet.  As we were leaving, my water broke (as in gushed).  Yes it was super embarrassing and obvious what was happening!  Everyone will tell you it's not like in the movies and it's rare for your water to break dramatically like in the movies, but that is exactly what happened to me.  I didn't feel anything different than a minor contraction and then it just wooshed out.  I waited outside the aquarium looking like I was peeing my pants continuously while my husband sprinted for the car.  A couple of aquarium employees asked if they should call an ambulance, and blushing, I told them I was fine and that my husband was coming back for me.  Very awkward, but funny way later.  Side note: keep a towel in your car if you are carrying twins the entire third trimester.  Or two towels. The fluid soaked the seat, my clothes, my shoes--yes, your body keeps producing it.  I thought it would "empty out" or stop, but nope.

This was taken less than 30 minutes before my water broke.  Funny enough, two little girls that looked like twins were running and playing behind me.  

Things progressed quickly from there: I arrived at the hospital, they started monitoring the babies right away, and a c-section was scheduled in less than an hour (twin A, Ivy was breech and twin B, Blair, was vertex as they had been the last few weeks so it was no question of trying for a vaginal delivery).

The spinal block was the most painful part of the procedure, but honestly not that bad for me.  Then, everything went numb below my chest.  As I had read online, I felt tugging and pushing but no pain. (Yes, I cried.  I was scared, partly because I was certain I would be the person that the anesthesia wouldn't work on, and that I would suddenly feel my abdomen sliced open). You will hear everything the doctors say and your view is a big blue curtain.  I was crying mostly because I was irrationally scared about the entire thing and just hormones I'm sure, but my husband was near my head holding my hand until they pulled out baby Ivy.  He saw the babies right after they came out of me and got to hold them, and Ivy was handed to me to cuddle and kiss for a moment, then they whisked her and Blair out.  I got to see Blair briefly but not hold her--they were hurrying to give her oxygen which made me scared and cry again, but she was just fine.

Don't be alarmed if your baby's legs are doing this!  Ivy was breech, and her hips were fine.  They may check them with an ultrasound later, but this is not uncommon for breech babies.  The legs will lower normally soon!

They were pretty healthy but tiny (smaller than had been estimated) at 3 lb 11 oz and 4 lb 7 oz.  Ivy needed a gavage tube for feeding initially and Blair was briefly on oxygen but both were fine soon after.  They were given donor milk as I had requested, which I was very grateful for, though soon after I realized the nurses were giving them pacifiers to help them strengthen their suck-swallow-breath ability and the donor milk was being fortified with formula.  I was told everything I had learned for a singleton baby should be tossed out the window--for twins, the nurses and doctors informed me they needed the extra calories from formula and had to bottle feed initially and most disappointing: that I shouldn't breastfeed until they are closer to their original due date.  I was told they were burning too many calories attempting to breastfeed and not taking enough in.  Again, I wish I had been told this could be an issue earlier.  I never imagined they wouldn't be able to breastfeed, especially since I was able to pump and produce colostrum almost immediately after recovery from surgery, and breastmilk a few days later.  I had visions of putting them to my breast as soon as I was out of the recovery room, but I was not able to even attempt this.

This is what a gavage tube looks like: milk is pushed into a syringe and goes down the tube directly

The difference in the hospitals was astounding though, and I felt like I (and the babies) were in great hands.  An example too can be seen below in the food I was given--healthy, allergen-free items like fresh fruit, fresh salad, plain fish and tea.  The nutritionist called my room to go over my restrictions, and often sent up things like rice milk for me.  I felt taken care of and my many, many questions and concerns were answered even if not exactly to my liking.

Fresh healthy food at CHOMP
Basically, it was a world of difference.  Luckily the babies were fine in the NICU and didn't need the equipment in a level 3 NICU.  We were given the option to stay an extra week or take them home, and we elected to bring the babies home.  They fed better at home and we were able to rest a little more.  What I learned quickly is that they need to eat every 1.5 to 3 hours, max.  Preemie babies aren't able to go 4-5 hours at a time or partially through the night without feeding like some full-term babies can.  They need to be kept very warm, and ideally their temperature taken often.  I had skin-to-skin contact with them as much as possible, as this helped them regulate their temperatures as well.

skin-to-skin with Blair

In our case, the pediatrician wanted to see them once a week to check their weights.  (Also, our pediatrician did not see them in the hospital as I was first told he would.  Instead, he was kept informed by the neonatologist at the hospital, and we did not see him until after we were discharged).
Initially the goal is to get as many calories in them as possible without tiring them out and feedings are limited to 30 minutes--you will spend much of your time staring at the clock and frantically trying to calculate when they need to start feeding, when they have to stop, how much they drank, when you need to pump, and how much you pumped.  I recommend a notebook or feeding log as you not be able to remember this at all, I promise.

our tiny baby

Though we were allowed to bundle them up and walk them in the stroller around our neighborhood about a week after we brought them home, we were told to keep them away from people until closer to their original birth date.  Basically though your friend might have been carting her newborn around the grocery store and introducing their baby to friends immediately, that likely won't be the case with your preemie.  They are almost 3 weeks old, and our twins have only met my parents and a close friend in the first two weeks, then another friend, my sister and brother-in-law the next week, and it will be a little while longer before I take them out and about with me for more interactions.

So that's my preemie twin experience, in brief.  Of course, yours may be ENTIRELY different depending on your body and health, the babies, your doctor(s) and what hospital you deliver at.
I'm just grateful they did not have to stay in incubators or at the hospital for weeks and that they are healthy little babies.  So far, motherhood of two babies is beyond exhausting but amazing, and I cannot wait until our twins are a little bigger and stronger and I get to see more of their personalities develop.  At times it is so hard when one cries at a time and it seems like an endless cycle of crying, diapering, pumping and feeding, but you'll get through it as I will.  I am hoping to be able to breastfeed them soon and cease with the continual pumping, but at any rate I'm very happy they are able to eat my breast milk.  At week 3.5, I have started to introduce nipple shields and breast feed them anywhere from 5-20 minutes and then finish up with the bottle which adds way more time to the feeding and takes away even more of your precious minutes between baby care, but I am positive it will be a huge payoff when I can breastfeed them directly until they are full, and keep them growing and nourished without the constant pumping and bottles.

Pumping side note: Preemie twin moms, I recommend you rent a hospital-grade breast pump, at least for the first month or two.  DO NOT BUY a breast pump beforehand, or get one through insurance or Obama-care.  It may not be the model for you, and you'll have wasted a lot of money if you bought one.  Some people sell their used ones pretty cheap, and that's an option, but I still suggest waiting.  What worked for your friend may not work for you.  I used up my free insurance one on an Ameda Purely Yours, and yes, it sucked until my milk production was really up.  I have been using it only for the middle of the night and early morning pumpings when I'm trying not to wake my husband, and I rely on the Medela one I rented from Babies-R-Us they rest of the time.  The milk produced between the two is pretty different, so I plan on keeping the hospital-grade one a second month and stashing as much as I can in the freezer.

Also, you might hate pumping.  It's not painful for me, but it's not comfortable and I still feel like a cow being milked and I hate it.  Also, I get a lot of clogged ducts, which are painful and unpleasant (heat is the best cure: soak in a hot bath or apply heat packs).

But that's okay, because big picture: my babies are getting great food and every time they are weighed and their healthy growth is confirmed, I feel a sense of pride.  I am not putting any lofty goals or restrictions on how long I will pump or breastfeed: I am taking it day-by-day.  Initially I swore I would breastfeed at least one year, but I think everyone has a different experience, and you should not feel ashamed if you fantasize about stopping to breastfeed before a year or even before a month.  But I'm not even a month in, so I am not expert--again, day-by-day is how I'm doing it.  Just be warned that everything you read in breastfeeding books may not apply to you and your unique experience.  It took me awhile to readjust my lofty expectations and not feel like a failure.

premature twins
just do the best you can

To all you twin mothers or anyone reading up on preemies just in case, good luck!  Mothers of multiples especially, I recommend being prepared for either premature or full-term babies, then you will better be able to handle what comes your way.  Though some of the books and resources I read were great (shout-out to my mom's co-authored Mothering Twins book!), just prepare to listen to your instincts and do what works best for you.

And if you can, join a multiples group or find someone in your situation or who has had twins recently.  I was contacted by a woman in my community a little bit ahead of where I am with our girls, and though I still haven't met her, her emails and texts have been amazing and encouraging.

Often you will cry, feel anger, or momentarily think "I can't do this", but you can.  You will also have moments of crying because you love your little premature babies so absolutely much, and you want the best for them.  Just remember they are tiny babies who need your love and support, so make sure you have a partner or people in your life where you can get love and support too.  My husband's Marine cohorts and their families made us meals in that first week, and it was an amazing help.  Take advantage of all help offered, because in order to be the best parent, you need to be nurtured and cared for too.  And definitely get the parents and in-laws to come as soon as you can because you will want the extra help, trust me!  Okay, time to rush to feed, I hear crying....good luck all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cranberry Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies & Weego!

raw oatmeal cookies

These fab gluten-free vegan nut-free treats can be made in about 10 minutes and enjoyed immediately.  This is a huge plus if you're in a time crunch but want a little treat or boost of energy.  Stir up a batch and enjoy!  I made these a week or so ago after being up since 2 am pumping milk and feeding two little babies.  I then had the energy to walk for an hour with two wee ones attached to me.  When I can run again in a few weeks (I CANNOT WAIT!)  I'll have to report back if they make a great treat to take along on a long run.  I find myself fantasizing about long runs constantly...

weego monterey bay aquarium
Walking around Pacific Grove and the aquarium with the wee ones

In the meantime, my fitness regime is walking.  Though it is amazing to get out of the house alone with my thoughts, I always feel guilty or like something is missing after about 15 minutes.  Alas, my babies don't love being strapped in the wraps I have tried together; usually at least one starts wailing though they don't mind being wrapped solo.  Anyways, I wanted an easier alternative than trying to strap two screaming babies to me with a length of cloth (there is a reason that most of the instructional videos I found for baby-wearing twins uses stuffed animals for a demo!)

When I googled twin baby carriers, I found one that looks ridiculous (though I hear it works well, I'm too vain for that one, at least for now), and then I stumbled across the Weego.  I. am. obsessed.  The babies LOVE it, and quiet right down immediately.  The best part is they fit wonderfully at 4lbs, and fit great now at about 6 lbs each, with plenty of room for them to continue to grow into it.  Plus with their gradual weight gain, I'm getting stronger, so it's a win for everyone.  It's literally the only way I can guarantee them to stay quiet for at least an hour, as they are instantly lulled to sleep when I walk with them in it.  My mom and I were even able to walk to a sushi restaurant, sit down and (quickly) eat, and walk home.  Not a peep!  Plus, it is way easier than trying to manage a stroller.

weego baby carrier coupon 12200
You will make fans everywhere!  At the sushi restaurant
 (the lady in the background is the best part, though)

For a $10 voucher off any Weego enter code 12200 on (the single baby ones look great too, but if you're a twin mama, it is a must!)

Seriously though, send me a message to ask me any questions; I adore it and it has been a lifesaver.

weego baby carrier for twins
My view!
weego coupon code 12200
Trying it out! The Weego Twin Carrier
Sooo back to the treat that you probably came her for:

If you make these delish no-bake cookies with regular sunflower seed butter or almond butter, add a little honey (1/4 cup or so) for mixture to hold together a little and taste sweet.  If you'd like less sweetness, omit the honey or nondairy chips.  I adore this cookie with Wild Friends Honey Sunflower Seed butter and no, I am not endorsed or paid by them--I just love supporting companies I love, especially ones started in Eugene, Oregon!

no bake cranberry oatmeal cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies
Yields 20 medium cookies


3/4 cup Honey Sunflower Seed Butter (or any seed or nut butter)
1/3 cup apple juice-sweetened cranberries (or raisins)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup mini nondairy chocolate chips
3-4 TBSP water


1.  In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients.  Add as much water as needed so mixture is not too crumbly.
2.  Chill for 10 minutes.  Roll into little balls and eat!  Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or so.

Pack some in a plastic bag, strap the Weego carrier on, and now you are ready to conquer the world!

weego coupon code 12200
Weego on the beach!
my handsome hubby with the girls!

Vegan Gluten-Free Brookies (Brownie-Cookies!)

gluten-free vegan brownie cookies

Oh my.  These are my latest obsession, and I could easily eat all of them myself in just a couple days.  The first time I made them I forced my husband to eat two so that I wouldn't eat them all.  Since then, I've made them when I've had company (my mother came to help out with our twins first, then my twin sister and her husband arrived--my lifesavers!!)  They all loved them, even though none of my family is gluten-free or vegan.

Actually, the fact that I have baby help right now is the only reason I have the time to bake these yummy things and write this post.  So, yes, having a twin has many perks including helping you when you have your own apparently.  I may post more about my twin birth story, so check back for that if you're curious about what it's like to have premature twins or are expecting twins yourself.  They are now 3 weeks old and it's hard but rewarding, and definitely makes a difference when I have time to pop out for a walk or get to bake something tasty.

Sometimes I loosely base recipes off ones I find online, and this recipe was inspired by this Brookie recipe by Jana of Nutritionicity.  My recipe is actually pretty close to hers and I have to say a big thank you to her for making what I didn't realize was my dream dessert.  Here's my version and feel free to get creative--the second time I made them, I added pumpkin to the brownie layer and reduced the oil, and it was even healthier, and very tasty.

healthy brookie recipe

yields 8" pan (12-16 pieces)

Cookie layer ingredients:
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
2 teaspoon maca
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup nondairy chocolate chips
2 TBSP sunflower seed or nut butter
2 TBSP coconut oil
2 TBSP maple syrup
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 1/4 cup water as needed

Brownie layer:
1/4 cup + 1 TBSP almond flour
1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
sprinkle sea salt
3 TBSP coconut milk or almond milk
1/2 TBSP vanilla extract
2 TBSP maple syurp
2-1/2 TBSP coconut oil, melted


1.  Grease a 8" pan with coconut oil or line with parchment.
2.  Mix the dry cookie ingredients together with the nondairy chips, then melt the oil and sunflower seed or nut butter together.  Whisk in vanilla and maple to the wet ingredients, then add to the dry, stirring well.  Add water if mixture is too dry.
3.  Press cookie mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
4.  For the brownies, combine the dry ingredients, then whisk in melted coconut oil.  Stir in remaining ingredients and spread mixture over the cookie layer.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, then let cool and set for 10 minutes and serve warm or cool.

gluten-free cookie brownie

alter eco brownies
For this batch, I used chopped up Alter Eco quinoa chocolate instead of chocolate chips.  Delicious!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chickpea Chip Cookies

garbanzo bean cookies

Ah yes, another chickpea cookie recipe.  The last one I made was great--if you want a sweeter more melt-in-your-mouth version, check out this one I created a couple years ago.  The one below I threw together recently is also very filling (and easier for me to resist) as well as not quite as sweet.  I like it without the additional honey, but if you are used to more traditional desserts, either keep the honey in, or add additional chocolate chips.

This is a good protein cookie to have a few as breakfast and keep you satisfied until lunchtime, or as a little energy snack or dessert.  I enjoyed them most warm almost right from the oven, and the husband appreciated them with a little more chocolate.  As he pointed out, if you hand him something that looks like a chocolate chip cookie, but tastes very healthy, it's a bit of a letdown.  For me though, cookies like these still seem like a decadent dessert--just customize it to your sweetness preferences!

chickpea oatmeal cookies

Chickpea Chip Cookies
yields 15 little cookies


1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup coconut or almond milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons sunflower seed butter* or almond butter
2 tablespoons raw honey (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
sprinkle sea salt
1-1/4 cup gluten-free quick oats**
3 to 4 tablespoons mini nondairy chocolate chips (or more to taste!)

*I used Wild Friends Organic Maple Sunflower Seed Butter, which lends a little sweetness already, allowing me to skip the honey.

gluten-free protein cookies


1.  Rinse and drain the chickpeas, and take a little time to rub off most of the skins.
2.  Heat oven to 300 degrees and continue prepping the cookies as it warms up.
3.  Puree the beans with the vanilla and nondairy milk, scraping down the sides of your processor or blender as needed until mostly smooth.
4.  Add egg whites, sunflower butter, powder and salt, and honey if using.  Pour this mixture into a bowl.
5.  Stir in quick oats into the mixture, or **make your own by food processing regular gluten-free oats until coarse and chopped.  Stir in chocolate chips.
6.  Spoon into cookie-size of choice (cookies won't spread) onto a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.  Bake at 300 for 18 to 20 minutes, turning the cookie sheet around halfway through.  It may take closer to 20 minutes if you added honey.  Serve warm or melt additional chocolate and drizzle on top if preferred!