Tag Archives: anxiety

Tangy Corn and Black Bean Salad

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! The weather here was stellar, and you just can’t beat a sunny 3-day weekend.

In our circle of friends, Memorial Day is not only a day to remember and honor our fallen soldiers, but it’s also the beginning of the summer cookout season! Without fail, we will be invited to an outdoor party every single weekend from now until Labor Day, and possibly beyond. 

I love hanging out with friends, lounging in a lawn chair, and drinking a cold beer as much as the next guy, but those kinds of days do not do good things for the “Summer To-Do List” of house projects.

All this BBQin’ poses another problem, and I’ll bet it’s one to which all of you fine folks out in blogland can relate. 

What do you EAT at these things?

Burgers? Occasionally. Most mayonnaisey salads? Nope. Chips? Nope. Soda? Nope. Hot dogs? ACK! Deviled eggs? Double ACK!

I could go on for pages, but you get the idea.

Now, I’m not vegan, and I’m not even vegetarian, but I eat little meat and I strive to eat whole, organic foods whenever possible. How do you explain that? I was asked just today if I was vegan and I didn’t know how to respond. “Um, no, but I really like the way I feel when I eat vegan food, but I eat meat once in a while, and fish, and I don’t believe that dairy products are healthy for us, but I can’t seem to get the ice cream monkey off my back…”

It’s a complicated answer, especially when I’m explaining it to people who don’t know me. I end up looking like little more than a really picky eater, or I just look rude. Really, the answer is:

I just don’t eat like you eat.

I told my husband I might just adopt the vegan label and become a closet-burger eater on the rare occasion when I happen to find some grass-fed beef and I’m in the mood. It would simplify things, I think. Sure, I could just not explain it, but it always comes up. Always. It’s probably because I have horrible food anxiety when I’m around groups of people, and I often sit there with an empty plate while everyone else eats, but I think that is a subject for another day…

And then there’s the question of what to bring. My go-to item for a BYODish cookout is a simple watermelon. Kids and adults love it, it’s quick and easy, and I know I will have something to eat. 

But that’s boring, and there is that little part of me that holds on to that tiny glimmer of hope that if I bring something non-traditional, something that I like, it just might go over BIG!

It never happens (but then I have lots of leftovers for myself :D )

Today’s cookout was at my husband’s brother’s house. I really wasn’t feeling the watermelon, so I decided on another on my go-to list: a tangy corn and black bean salad. This one usually wins a few fans, and it’s fantastic served alone, on a burger, or (my personal favorite) on a piece of fish.

I adapted this recipe by combining the best parts of several I’ve tried. It’s got a nice vinegar-y bite, which I totally dig.

Tangy Corn and Black Bean Salad

Cook 2 ears of fresh corn, cut corn from cobs. 

In a large bowl, combine: 


 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp white sugar

1/2 tsp chili pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

freshly chopped cilantro, to taste (3–4 Tbsp)

Spritz of fresh lime

Mix and refrigerate 1–2 hours so flavors can mingle.


I didn’t see any on the kids’ plates, but I didn’t have any leftovers either!

Score one for the veg!


What do you call your “eating style”? Do you subscribe to any one label, or are you a hybrid mix like me? Do you find it hard to explain?

What’s your favorite dish to bring to a cookout? 


Filed under Recipes & Food, The Everyday

Sleep deprived and dreaming of doughnuts…

Oh dear. I’m craving doughnuts

In most cases, I consider myself an advocate for cravings. If you really want it, eat it (within reason), and enjoy it, right?

Not in this case.

That’s because I’ve grown to recognize this specific craving as a symptom….of sleep deprivation.

Any time I find myself really, really wanting to sink my teeth into a big, puffy chocolate covered doughnut first thing in the morning, I know I’ve been treating my body badly and missing too much sleep.

And with the sleep I haven’t been getting lately, I could do some real damage in here right about now…

I’m really, really tired. In fact, I think that’s putting it mildly. My eyes are so dry this morning, I feel like they might fall out. (It probably doesn’t help that I’m always dehydrated, too.) I’ve been plagued with writer’s block, headaches, and sluggishness.

But I’m not just talking about today. It’s been a chronic problem for…maybe 15 years (?), off and on.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired. All through college, I worked  4am – noon, then went to class all day. My jobs have always required the alarm to go off at 3 or 4am. The last few months of my pregnancy were spent awake because my lungs were so compacted by baby that I developed horrible claustrophobia. I shot straight up in bed several times a night because I couldn’t breathe. And when I could, wiggly little arms and legs kept me awake. Although I do kind of miss that…

The last 6 months have been pretty darned sleep-free, too, as you might imagine. For months, I had to get up to nurse every 3 hours, and now, the longest stretch I ever get is 6. Even then I’m up quite a few times to go in and lay my hand on my tiny boy’s back and feel for steady, even breath. I guess I’ll get over that someday, but I’m sure it won’t be soon.

Shane has taken a night or two here and there, but I still have to get up every so often to pump or I spring a geyser in the middle of the night. Then, I have to strip the bed, and that’s a real pain, so it’s worth getting up no matter how tired I am.

Common advice: “You have to sleep when the baby sleeps.” Great in theory. In reality, not so much. Caring for a baby requires every second of waking time, so when he sleeps, I switch into Hurricane Mommy mode, trying to accomplish something, anything. Despite my efforts, it usually doesn’t amount to much beyond making sure I have clean clothes and a clean plate for dinner.  

So, it’s going on 9 months or so since I’ve had more than 4 or 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a regular basis. And nearly 2 years since I’ve given up caffeine. Ugh. And now, I’m back at work, and training for another job.

I wonder how long a person can survive on mere snippets of sleep? Seriously. I’m thinking I have to start getting serious about scheduling in enough ZZZs. 

 It’s pretty common knowledge that lack of sleep can cause weight gain (hormone and blood sugar levels get erratic and out of whack, causing your body to crave sugar and carbs = doughnuts!) but there are a lot of other health concerns that can be linked to not sawing enough logs…diabetes, headaches, obesity, hypertension…the list goes on (and I just happen to have or be at risk for all of them.) A simple Google search or trip to WebMD can provide more details than you would probably want. 

As new moms, we have to prioritize, and sleep seems to be the one thing that falls way, way down the list. It’s hard–there are people, both big and small, that need us whether we’re tired or not. I think it all comes down to the Superwoman mentality so many of us adopt. We can do it all, right?

Sure, I can. But not all at once. And not every day.

I’m not complaining, just explaining. I take full responsibility, as I am the one who has structured my life this way, and many of the things that cost me some sleep are the same things that have made me endlessly happy. But it’s a problem that plagues an alarming number of women in our nation, and there has to be a better way. We can exercise and eat all the healthy, energizing food we want, but if we don’t allow our bodies the proper time to rest and rejuvenate, we’re never operating at 100%.

So that’s my new goal. More sleep. The go-go-go girl in me feels lazy even saying it.


Moms and non-moms: Where is sleep on your priority list? Do you make sure you get enough? If not, why? Do you, like me, feel guilty or lazy if you take the time you need for sleep? 



Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food

Happy, happy day, this lovely 5th of May

So many things to celebrate on this fine 5th of May!

First and most obviously, it’s Cinco de Mayo! It just so happens that we’ll be enjoying the healthy and most delicioso Quesadilla Casserole tonight! I didn’t even plan it.  It’s a tweaked version of the recipe found in McCormick’s new Recipe Inspirations collection. More on that tomorrow, after the fiesta…

Yet another reason to celebrate (and the most important in my little world): Today is my little boy’s half-birthday! Yup. I can’t believe it either. A full 6 months old today. I looked at him last night as he rocked back and forth on his hands and knees, sat in his big-boy high chair, ate his food from a spoon and smiled with his teeny teeth showing and realized that you all really weren’t kidding when you said it goes fast. I’m trying…really trying…to enjoy every single second.

At 7:45 this evening, this is what I will be thinking about…

It still takes my breath away to think about that day. (And it still makes me feel like a super hero!) I’m a lucky mama, and I never forget it.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve experienced a good bit of anxiety over introducing solids and establishing good eating habits now that we’ve hit the big 6-month mark, and the past couple of days have had me really reflecting on my food ‘tude. 

I’ve been excited to introduce the pears, because they are one of my favorites and I know Finn will just love them. Well, the teething has been getting bad, especially last night, and I caught myself thinking, “Maybe we should give him the pears tonight to try and make him feel better.” I busted myself thinking the same thing about celebrating his 6-month mark.

Oh, he’s hurting. Let’s give him something good to eat to make him feel better.

Let’s do something special to celebrate! Let’s have pears!

I’m not proud of my first inclination to ease his suffering with the only version of a sweet treat I can give him right now. I’m not sure how I feel about focusing celebrations around food. When I was growing up, we rarely missed an occasion to eat cake, candy or ice cream. It was our way of coming together and sharing happiness, usually over chocolate.

He doesn’t know any better right now, but old habits die hard and I don’t want to pass my old sugar-coated, nougat-filled ones on to him. 

I also know the power of things like hugs and snuggles, and it’s far stronger–and healthier– than that of sweets.

I know how I feel about the first issue. It is not OK to quell disappointment, hurt feelings, skinned knees or any other physical or emotional boo-boo with food. Especially not sweet food. No question there.

But what about when it’s time to celebrate? Is there anything wrong with associating special times with special treats? I’m thinking this one is OK, as long as the focus on health and wellness doesn’t waver. I mean, we’re celebrating today with a recipe inspired by the foods of Mexico, right? 

I think my fear is that truly special occasions will turn into nothing more than an opportunity for a crazy sugarfest. I guess introducing my little guy to one of Nature’s best gifts on his big day (I realize it’s not all that big to anyone but me…) is in keeping with my general philosophy about food.  Now, it would be a different story if I were letting him lick the icing off a big gnarly blue cupcake….

I’m still working it all out. For now, I’m just proud of myself for knowing how easy it is to blur the lines between all the different ways we tend to use food, and for trying to set a good example for the healthiest practices now. When mama ain’t healthy, ain’t nobody healthy, right?

Finally, yet another reason to celebrate today: Good health + good weather = getting outside to exercise! (Can’t ever take that for granted.)


What do you think about the food/celebration issue? How do you balance the two, and if you do set limits, do others ever make you feel guilty about “depriving” your child of the “joys of childhood”?


Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food

Initial Thoughts on Food…

I am not a health nut. I will admit, I am WAY intrigued by Peeps Italian Ice at Rita’s (though a little sample spoon would surely take care of that), and I just may break down and try the Maple French Toast and Bacon Cupcake recipe I’ve been saving for a rainy day. If it says “Limited Edition,” it’s in my shopping cart before I even know what’s happened. On the other hand, I know that there is something fundamentally wrong with our society when we think it’s OK to find a fried Cinnamon Bun stuffed with Maple Ice Cream on a BREAKFAST menu! (See pic. Friendly’s, anyone?) The thought of raising my son in such a society causes me a lot of worry and anxiety, but so does the thought of transferring that anxiety to him. I want him to develop the wonderful, healthy relationship with food that I am only now beginning to grasp, and it’s my job to spark that relationship. No small potatoes, since I firmly believe that the food he chooses to let into his life will play a huge part in determining the pure quality of that life. No pressure, right?




What I do know is this: Nothing has ever filled me with the pure unabashed glee that I have found in nourishing my body with fresh, clean food and, in turn, using my body to nourish his. This body–the one that I spent so many years hating and trying to change–has become my friend. I’ve stopped loathing it, and now stand in awe of it. It sure doesn’t look the way it used to (little did I know at the time how good my 20-something body DID look) But that’s OK. It doesn’t look that bad, either. When it comes right down to it, women’s bodies are built the way they are to serve a purpose far beyond Maxim and commercial advertising, and when my time came, my body owned the challenge and surpassed all my expectations.

So, in my pages, you will see lots of healthy foods, and ideas about healthy eating habits. But you will also find the things that make life a little brighter, like cookies.* Those who know me have heard me say it: If you’re going to treat yourself, do it right. Savor something you love, just do it the most natural way so you aren’t hit with a double whammy. Your body will deal with a little sugar and a few calories, but who knows how long those artificial ingredients might stick around.

*Watch future posts for the best cookies to ever befriend a cup of tea!


When you indulge, do you keep it natural and/or organic? If not, how does that make you feel afterward? Is it worth it?

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Filed under Recipes & Food