Posts in NUTRITION
Baby C's Unexpected Birth Story - Part 3 - The Arrival

READ PART 1 HERE

READ PART 2 HERE

I walked into the brightly lit OR alone.

My husband had to stay outside (for whatever reason) until surgery was about to start.

So I approached the operating table and a doctor asked me if I could sit up on the edge. It was quite high, but I had a pretty easy time hoisting my 6'1" pregnant body up there. It was time to place my spinal block. 

My anesthesiologist asked me to round my back like a cat and stay very still. I leaned forward and rounded by back so my spine would stick out, and my nurse stood in front of me and held my hands. A needle pinched going into my back, more intense than getting a typical shot but it wasn't terrible. I breathed into it and groaned a little. This was just the numbing stuff before the anesthesia that would numb me from the waist down but I don't even remember that second needle. As the anesthesiologist worked, I thought of my brother who is also an anesthesiologist, and how interesting it would be to talk to him about my experience.

I was actually pretty anxious about having a needle inserted into my spine but since the car accident that set me on this path to health and wellness 10 years ago, I'm kind of nerdy when it comes to medical procedures and the body. My first birth had been completely unmedicated and I never really saw myself getting an epidural or undergoing any sort of medical intervention in order to have my babies. A spinal block is different than an epidural because it's just anesthesia injected directly into the spine, without anything getting threaded in there to control the medication. This was a one shot deal. I took some deep belly breaths and just trusted the process.

As soon as the medication was in, the anesthesiologist said, "OK, I need you to lay down, RIGHT NOW."

It suddenly dawned on me that  yes, I had to get myself down onto the table before it was no longer possible!

I laid down as quickly as I could.

Dr. Cap came into the OR then and greeted me, his voice relaxed but clearly focused on the task at hand.

 
Surgery prep
 

The drape was quickly placed over me, and now the anesthesiologist asked me to put my arms out on either side of me like a "T". He started to test my sensation, asking me if different parts of my upper and lower body felt the same, or different. Things were starting to feel different. The block was taking effect. Soon I couldn't feel my lower body at all. It was strange, but not alarming. I felt pretty relaxed.

Then the anesthesiologist flopped a piece of fabric over my arms on the table. 

I felt them tighten. 

He had just strapped me down.

THIS was NOT OK. I now know (from my anesthesiologist brother via my mom) that when people are numb from the waist down, they sometimes like to "help", or their reflexes cause them to interfere with the surgeon. But in that moment, all I knew was that I was being restrained for seemingly no reason. He didn't tell me this was going to happen, or why, so I started to freak out.

"What are you doing?" I asked him. "Please let me go. Don't tie me down."

I am not claustrophobic or anything, but being strapped down made me feel like I was being perceived as a hysterical woman who couldn't be trusted with her own body.

"Let me go, please let me go. Don't tie me down. Just don't tie me down." I was starting to feel a little panicky. I was already robbed of the birth I wanted, and I was not about to let this experience become something traumatic.
I didn't care if it was "procedure" or "policy". I needed to feel in control of my own body, especially being numb from the waist down. I needed my arms free.

"Ok, but don't touch the doctor." Quickly the straps loosened and were removed. I immediately relaxed.

Dr. Cap joked, "just don't grab my butt, Maggie!"

"Have people done that?!" I asked.

He laughed and said something like, "oh, you'd be surprised."  

"Don't worry, I won't." I couldn't imagine grabbing someone while they were either cutting me open, getting my baby out, or stitching me closed.

But I also realized how important it was to have a voice and ask for what I needed, because if I'd stayed silent, I'd be strapped to that table, miserable.

Suddenly someone new was next to me on my left, dressed in full surgical garb complete with a mask, protective glasses, gloves... they looked down at me and said, "Hi Maggie."

It was SUSAN! My midwife had made it. I knew she had full privileges at the hospital and worked there often, and that she often worked with Dr. Cap, too, but after she had told me to go to his office that morning, instead of the birth center, I had assumed it would be just him from there on out. I was so grateful to see her and know that she would be a part of my birth, too. It still wasn't the birth center, it wasn't anywhere close to an unmedicated birth, but somehow having Susan there in the O.R. beside me made me feel even more supported. She, too, knew how badly I'd wanted to avoid this kind of birth. She looked me in the eye and smiled, unable to physically touch me now that she was dressed for surgery.

Then my husband was ushered in and he took his spot just next to my left shoulder. 'Hey baby," he said. I smiled up at him. I couldn't see what was happening below my chest because my "clear" drape was lined with blue fabric. I  kind of wished I could see, then felt glad that I couldn't, and so I just waited. I knew my husband planned to take photos of the birth with his phone so I hoped they turned out ok. 

"Ok, Maggie, I'm going to start. You'll feel some tugging."
Dr. Cap began my caesarean birth.

I felt nothing at first, and then soon there was some significant side to side tugging, but the drape blocked me from seeing anything more than Dr. Cap's and Susan's heads looking down at my belly as they worked.I felt relaxed and curious, anxious to meet my baby. 

It only took a few minutes and soon, I heard Dr. Cap say, "there's a foot!"

So he HAD been footling! If he'd been frank breech, I was pretty sure his bum would have come out first because it would have been the part of him that was sitting down low in my pelvis.

"Here comes your baby, Maggie!" Dr. Cap said.

"I can't see! I can't see! I want to see!" My voice rose in pitch and volume. That damn blue liner was still obstructing my view and I didn't want to miss this! Everyone was so focused on the c-section, the drape had been forgotten.

Dr. Cap paused. "Someone get the drape for Maggie?" A hand reached over my right shoulder and pulled the liner away from the clear plastic drape, and there was my baby in Dr. Cap's hands, hovering in midair right over my chest. I was disappointed I hadn't seen him emerge but that feeling quickly faded.

All I could see was this perfect little baby in front of my eyes.

It turned out my husband didn't get any photos of this because he was too busy watching. I can't blame him, but damn. 

My baby was covered in white vernix and my blood, and he was perfect. I felt my heart explode with joy and love and I drank in this beautiful sight. I couldn't believe he was here! I wanted to hold him so badly, but I kept my hands down, instead finding my voice. "Hi baby, I'm your mama." I called him by name, tears streaming down my face. "I'm right here. I love you."

Then he was carried away, the blood mopped from his face, and brought back to me with his cheek placed against mine. My god, he was so warm and so soft. I cried and talked to him more, just waiting until I could hold him close.

After a few moments he was whisked away again and my husband went with him, to check his vitals, make sure he was stable, and to wait for the umbilical cord to empty its blood into the baby. My husband gave him a finger to hold to make sure he was getting some skin-to-skin contact (when he wasn't taking photos) while the nurse looked him over, and when another nurse wanted to wipe the white, cheesy vernix off him, my husband stopped her. He and I wanted it left on for all the good things it offered our new baby. Vernix soaks in by itself and moisturizes baby's skin, helps regulate their temperature, and has antimicrobial properties that protect the baby from infections! He wasn't dirty, there was no reason to wipe it off or bathe him right away. When my husband spoke up, another nurse agreed with him. "Yes, it's really good for their skin!" she said. So the nurse mopped off the blood and left the vernix alone.

 
Vernix!

Vernix!

 

My placenta was still in my uterus and Dr. Cap was massaging my belly, getting it to release, so while the baby didn't get full delayed cord clamping, he got to have the blood that remained in the cord after it was clamped near the placenta and cut there. I do wish he had gotten all of the blood from my placenta and not just the cord blood, but I figured it was unsafe to leave me cut wide open for too long.

As Dr. Cap received my placenta and put it safely aside (he knew I wanted to keep it for placenta encapsulation), he told me that I had a full septum. My uterus was literally divided in half, top to bottom. "Maggie, it's a good thing we did this," Dr. Cap said to me. "Your baby had NO room in there. Other moms I've seen who had a uterus like yours couldn't carry past 24 weeks, and you had two full term baby boys. That's amazing."

 
Tears of joy

Tears of joy

 

My heart swelled with gratitude for the choice I'd just made, for being 6'1" and having enough space to grow my babies, and for my doctor who took such good care of me. Then suddenly my husband was there holding our baby and he gently placed our little guy on my bare chest. I cried some more.

 
Dr. Cap and Susan, and another surgical assistant whose name I can't remember, closing up my belly. Baby C and I resting and bonding under the plastic drape.

Dr. Cap and Susan, and another surgical assistant whose name I can't remember, closing up my belly. Baby C and I resting and bonding under the plastic drape.

 

And before the nurse could get to him to help him start breastfeeding, he started wiggling across my chest, hunting for my breast. It didn't matter that he'd been born via c-section, my baby was doing the breast crawl! It was the most beautiful thing to watch and it felt so special, like a little private moment for just us, hidden from view. Soon the nurse's hands were there to help him but he'd already found  what he was searching for. He was latching on all by himself. I was so proud of him!

 
Epic newborn breast crawl, still in the OR!

Epic newborn breast crawl, still in the OR!

 

Then suddenly Dr. Cap said, "do you want a photo of your uterus so you can see the septum? I know you like that kind of thing."

A PHOTO?! Really? "Yes please!" I knew photos were usually strictly forbidden in the O.R. so for my doctor to offer that was huge. I DEFINITELY wanted to see what the inside of my uterus looked like so he quickly directed a nurse to grab my husband's phone and snap some photos. 

This is what it looks like: CLICK TO SEE - WARNING, this is an open surgical wound. VERY GRAPHIC. Don't click if you're squeamish at all. This is something you won't be able to un-see ;)

Then Dr. Cap told me he was going to stitch me up. "Do your best stitches, please!" I said.

"I always do my best stitches. I'm doing this just like a plastic surgeon.," he said.

And a few minutes after that, it was done!

I had my baby, all was well. I was transferred from the operating table to a bed, and wheeled back to my room to recover, breathing in that new baby smell on my chest as he happily nursed away.

 
Back in my room, me, my husband, and our new baby C.

Back in my room, me, my husband, and our new baby C.

 

At my incision check about a week later, Dr. Cap told me more about my uterus. My little guy had been really wedged in there and it really was like my body KNEW to not go into labor.

"He couldn't even get around the corner to get into the garage, let alone get down the driveway!" Dr. Cap said. His umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck once too, which wasn't a big deal during the caesarean, but might have been in other situations.

It was a good thing we didn't try an External Cephalic Version, too, although my gut had already told me that I wouldn't go through with one - either baby would flip on his own, or he'd stay breech and I was at peace with that. But now I knew that even if he wanted to turn, he couldn't. I felt a little badly for all the times I'd massaged my belly, encouraging him to turn. "Sorry, little one," I thought.

He would have had to choose a head-down position way earlier in my pregnancy but at 18 weeks, he was already breech, as the ultrasound tech pointed out when I was at a speciality appointment to check for normal growth and size. Normally a baby's position that early doesn't matter, but that assumes they have lots of room to turn and roll. If I'd started my Spinning Babies inversions then, maybe I would have had a totally different birth. But then again, maybe not. I really believe that babies choose their births, and are our greatest teachers.

Waiting for labor and trying to go the natural route would have most likely been really bad for baby and I, and I won't share the "could have happened" scenarios but... yeah. Bad. So I felt even more at peace with my choice for my baby's birth. I'd still never choose an elective c-section but since this one was necessary, and it was a positive experience with some minor hiccups, I was happy. I wasn't traumatized at all, and I had gotten the chance to experience how a belly birth could truly be just as beautiful as my unmedicated vaginal birth. What a gift, and a lesson for my ego that had held some pretty strong opinions about c-sections before I needed one myself.

READ PART 1 HERE

READ PART 2 HERE

 

Baby C's Unexpected Birth Story - Part 1 - The Pool

I did not expect a Sunday when I was 38 weeks to be the last full day of my pregnancy.

And I did not expect to be faced with the birth experience that I feared the most.

That Sunday morning, I left home to spend a day with a girlfriend in nearby Temecula, CA, getting pedicures at the spa, swimming in the salt water pool, and then planned on staying the night away with my husband so we could relax and connect, just the two of us, before our new baby arrived.

Grapeseed Spa

At 38 weeks, I had every expectation that I would be pregnant for another two weeks or so. My pregnancy with Little J had gone to 40 weeks and 2 days, I just expected more of the same. With a pregnancy that was normal and straightforward from the beginning, just 6 weeks earlier, my awesome OB, Dr. Capetanakis (Dr. Cap), had told me that my baby was head down at 32 weeks, and things were as straightforward as could be.

I knew I didn't want to give birth in the hospital again, which is the only place my doctor delivers, so after trying for months, unsuccessfully, to get my insurance to cover a home birth, I took my "straightforward as can be" pregnancy, and finally transferred my care to the nearby birth center, Tree of Life. I loved their birthing rooms, the midwives, and the experience I could see myself having if I gave birth there, all the midwives had hospital privileges, and they often worked closely with my OB, too.

But my 36 week midwife appointment revealed that my baby was in a breech (head up) position. This was not straightforward, and the midwives were not legally allowed to deliver a breech baby at the birth center. I immediately starting employing all of the tools I know to help a baby turn, and I thought it was working. I often felt things in my belly that led me to believe he was vertex (hiccups down super low, little kicks up high) but then it would seem like he flipped head up again.

Soon, I fully believed that he was turning up and down at will. So I kept hoping he would go head down when it was time to be born. I was mildly worried, but I continued with my care at the birth center, believing I could help baby get into the right position in time. I wanted to cover all of my bases to ensure a positive birth experience, so I opted to get co-care with Dr. Cap and Tree of Life, so that no matter what happened, I would be having my baby with someone I knew and trusted, rather than an on-call doctor after a potential emergency transfer to the hospital if things didn't go the way I hoped. 

Sans our 2-year-old boys that fateful Sunday, my friend and I were ready for some much-needed pampering and as we settled into our massage chairs, I started to unwind like I can never do at home. We painted our toes in happy colors, snacked on cheese and fruit and talked birth predictions poolside, and I decided to hop in the warm pool for one last attempt to get my unmistakably breech baby to turn.

I am blessed that Dr. Cap knows how to, and will, deliver breech babies! Not all OBs are trained in breech births, and many won't do them, preferring instead to perform c-sections because they they're taught that it's "safer." I had read that the level of risk for a breech vaginal birth and a breech cesarean section are actually the same (although the risks are different), but the older school of thought still prevails, making a c-section the go-to "fix" when a baby is breech.

If I was unsuccessful in turning my baby head-down, I knew I wanted to try for a vaginal birth even though he'd be coming out bum (or feet) first. I'd watched several videos of breech births, I saw how normal these births were, and I knew my body could handle it with ease.  Breech birth can be just another variation of normal, and after multiple lifesaving surgeries a decade ago, and braving the ensuing pain and uncertainty about recovery, the idea of MORE surgery was just not an option for me. I was willing to do pretty much anything to avoid being cut open AGAIN.

I swam laps of breaststroke and did countless underwater handstands in the pool, but I never felt the desired, dramatic roll or flip of position in my belly. I had yet another earnest and serious conversation with my baby about why he needed to be head down (for a cozy birth center birth, versus a clinical hospital birth) but... nothing. 

When I got out of the pool, water left my body and ran down my legs. "Huh, guess it was all those handstands," I thought. Then a few minutes later it happened again. I still didn't think much of it. I got dressed and went to get gas for the car and noticed my seat was wet when I got out to fill up my tank. "Wow, that's a lot of water. Must have filled up completely with all that time upside down." But throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, it kept happening, and I was in TOTAL denial about what it really was. 

Before dinner, I did at least check the color (clear) and odor (chlorine), but with absolutely no labor symptoms, my brain hung onto the "it's just pool water" fantasy. Because amniotic fluid doesn't smell like chlorine, right? So I put on my little black (maternity) dress, let my hair down, and went out for a fancy dinner with my hubby and we had an awesome date night. 

Back at our room, I was still leaking, and we googled a bunch of things, but I was adamant that I was fine and it was just pool water, and my loving husband kept his doubts to himself. That night, I woke up around 1am, and my sheets were SOAKED.  I knew this was strange but nothing felt "wrong" or anything like contractions, so I STILL clung to this idea that somehow it was still water from the pool! I did google how much water a vagina could hold, though, and how would I know if my water broke while swimming.

The internet was NOT helpful and I so went back to sleep.

When I went into labor with J, my contractions started as soon as I woke up and my water didn't break until late afternoon. And then when it did, it was a small leak, followed by a dramatic "KERSPLOOSH" all over my living room floor. Then the pushing contractions started. It was a totally different experience and I just didn't know what to make of what was happening now.

38.5 weeks pregnant. The last photo of the bump before I had our baby!

38.5 weeks pregnant. The last photo of the bump before I had our baby!

I wasn't even to 40 weeks yet! I knew that "2nd babies often come early" and "breech babies often come early" but my brain just couldn't grasp it. When I woke up in the morning, and the towel I'd placed between my legs was also soaked, and when I sat down on the toilet to pee, MORE water leaked out of me before I'd even started peeing, I finally thought, "OK. Time to call the midwife."

* * * * * *

Let me rewind to the beginning of my pregnancy for a second. When I conceived this baby, I decided early on that I REALLY wanted to have a home birth this time. My experience of racing to the hospital to have J was no fun, and actually left me with some pelvic floor pain because I was trying to hold him in while my body was trying to push him out!

And my experience with one of my labor and delivery nurses actually contributed to that pelvic floor pain because her fairly aggressive and painful uterine massage after I delivered caused me to store that pain in my pelvic floor as well. That deserves its own blog post but I'll just say that emotional "stuff" causing physical pain is a real thing. And it left me feeling less than safe birthing in the hospital.

I knew I could birth this baby, and so aside from wanting my OB to be there, I had no desire to have another hospital birth. I just wanted to stay at home and have my baby. I wanted no interventions and to be pretty much left alone except for my husband and doula's support. So I applied to my health insurance company to have them cover my out-of-network home birth at the in-network level. Due to family health stuff, we spent a lot of money and hit our deductible over the summer, and "just paying for" a homebirth midwife out of pocket just wasn't an option. And despite looking high and low, I discovered there are NO midwives near me, in network with my insurance company, who attend home births. So I applied for what's called a "gap exception" since the lack of in-network midwives constituted a "network gap."

This is also worthy of its own post because the process was long and complicated and frustrating, but eye opening in terms of how to deal with health insurance companies.

In the end, though, my request was denied.

And that's how I ended up at Tree of Life, and it seemed to be working out that it was really the best outcome. I was excited to birth there. But when my baby was definitely breech at 36 weeks, my mind raced. I immediately thought of all the possible scenarios and I knew that more than anything, I DID NOT want to end up with an on-call OB I didn't know, if a transfer to the hospital became necessary.

So I requested co-care with Dr. Cap and Tree of Life. It's not an uncommon thing for them to do as they work together often, and it was simple to start seeing them both. More expensive, certainly, but after hitting our deductible, I didn't care. I needed the peace of mind that no matter what happened, I'd be under the care of people I knew and trusted.

But at my appointment just before Thanksgiving, Dr. Cap told me, "just don't go into labor this weekend."
It was his one weekend off that month, and if the baby came, and was still breech, I would end up with an on-call doctor.

"I won't," I said with a laugh, confident this baby was still weeks away.

HA.

When I woke up with the barest tightening in my tummy and a slight low back ache, my sheets and the towel I'd put between my legs soaking wet, I knew I had to call someone. I had no idea when Dr. Cap was returning, and Monday was not one of his usual clinic days, so I called the birth center to talk to one of my midwives. Susan answered the phone, asked me a few standard questions, and she agreed I should come in a get checked out. I  I had a 45 minute drive home, and we had to get our son to his preschool, so by the time we were about to head to the birth center, I had several text messages on my phone, telling me to go straight to Dr. Cap's office instead.

We arrived at around 9am and went immediately into an exam room. I was nervous, but excited.

"So, what's your plan?" he asked me.

"Ha! Plan? I have no plan. I was not expecting a baby this early!"

* * * * * *

CONTINUED . . . READ PART 2 HERE

* * * * * * 

 

10 years and 2 Babies
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Holy cow, guys. My Whole Healthy has now been a resource for you to live your Whole Healthy Life for 3 whole years! If you've followed me for a while, you may remember that I was also nearly killed by a drunk driver TEN years ago, TODAY! So there's a LOT to celebrate! 
New website design,
Website's 3rd birthday.
10 years since I stared death in the face and said, "NOT TODAY." And decided to live an epic, joyful, healthy life that allows me to serve you! 

My healing journey over the past 10 years has been long and hard and confusing. Especially early on. But as I moved through it, I felt increasingly driven to use my experience to help others.

So I built this website to help me share the things that helped me heal, and pass on evidence-based information (I do have a journalism degree and a penchant for facts) that you could use in a practical way. I also wanted to connect with you, and share my experiences and life in a way that would hopefully inspire you!

The past 3 years haven't been seamless, or made this blog see exponential growth! Not even close. But I'm still here, still writing, and now doing so much more. At first, my passion for health and wellness led to a very generic "wellness" website. I actually did NOT want to focus on my history of traumatic brain injury and all those broken bones. While those injuries will always been a huge part of my story, I no longer identified with being the "broken girl." I had recovered. I wanted to move on and lift people up. It didn't feel good to me to keep revisiting what happened unless I was speaking directly to someone who was going through it now.

Then, I got pregnant with my son in 2014. 
Soon after that, I became a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
I was soaking up everything I could learn about fitness. But soon, that desire to learn "all the things" about fitness, was dialed in to focus on pre and postnatal wellness. 
It's what I was living and learning myself!
My birth classes showed me that many of the same techniques I had used to heal after my accident applied to my pregnancy and having a healthy, peaceful birth. Nutrition was EXTREMELY important, mindfulness, meditation, and visualization were everything, and movement helped make pregnancy and birth healthier, easier and more comfortable!

HandOnBelly.jpg

Talk about a light bulb moment. Pretty soon, I knew I had to narrow the focus of My Whole Healthy.

I am now a Pre & Post Natal Corrective Exercise Specialist with Fit For Birth, and I have pending certifications as a Fit For Birth Pre & Post Natal Diastasis and Core Consultant, and as a Certified Pre and Postnatal Coach with Girls Gone Strong. I can't stop learning.

My passion for helping and educating mamas has only grown as I raise my son, wait eagerly to welcome my second little boy in a couple of weeks!!! and serve my clients by helping them discover what their body is supposed to feel like, and see real results. 

Too often in this country and worldwide, I see women and mothers who need support as they try to conceive, during pregnancy, birth and into postpartum, but are completely failed by our medical system and our birth culture. It makes me sick, and it makes me angry. But when I see injustice like that, and that little flame of anger is lit, nothing can hold me back. 

I hope to grow My Whole Healthy more and more, and the beauty of the Internet is that it allows me to help support moms everywhere! So that's what I'm here to do.

Thank you for being here, whether you're a veteran reader, or you just stumbled on my little digital home today. 

WELCOME! 

If you're not sure what's new, this website got a big makeover over the last few months as I tinkered away and perfected the design myself (because I was quoted $8000 *cough cough* for a new website despite the examples I saw being designs I KNEW I could do on my own! So I decided to DIY it all the way).  I hope you like it!
I also created the most amazing resource for you that I'm giving away!!! - the Whole Healthy Mama Toolkit!

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So scroll down the welcome page and check the navigation links at the top to see my new and revamped offerings, see how you can WORK WITH ME, check out my RESOURCES page, my MOM MUST-HAVES, all the affordable equipment I love to use when I WORK OUT AT HOME, my custom (organic)  MY WHOLE HEALTHY swag, and more!

I have so much amazing stuff planned for you, you're going to want to stick around. Make sure you like My Whole Healthy on Facebook, and follow me on Instagram! This is where I share tons of valuable info, and peeks into my life behind the scenes. My social platforms are a great place to connect and get to know me better, and to be sure that you never miss a big announcement! Once you've hit that "Like" or "Follow" button, make sure you say hi so that we can get to know each other. I can't wait to see you there!

Here's to YOU. I already think you're awesome.
xoxo Maggie

Live Healthy on a Budget

We've all felt like eating healthy food and buying natural, non-toxic products is expensive! And it can be (stores love to charge us more for the good stuff).

But it doesn't have to be.

My goal is to give you as many resources as possible to achieve your "whole healthy" without spending a ton of money. We all need to eat, we all buy groceries, so why not save money on as many things as possible while making amazing, healthy choices? You can do that.

Thrive Market offers organic, non-GMO, paleo, gluten free etc. foods, plus non-toxic cleaning and personal care products, beauty products without all the chemical junk, vitamins, baby food and products, home goods, pet care products...

all at 25-50% off retail prices. 

These are just some of the products you can get from Thrive Market. They carry so many amazing products and brands. Click the image to browse their site.

These are just some of the products you can get from Thrive Market. They carry so many amazing products and brands. Click the image to browse their site.

It's like Whole Foods, at Costco or Amazon prices (or better) with the convenience of ordering online and having it arrive on your doorstep.

Shipping is FREE on orders of $49+, a purchase total that's easy to hit since we probably spend that at the grocery store anyway. I don't think I've ever paid for shipping on my orders.

There's no need to opt for the nutritionally void, "cheap" food because Thrive Market makes healthy food affordable and accessible. You don't need to live next to, or spend your whole paycheck at, a store like Whole Foods.

Order from Thrive Market and the health will come to you.

In recycled, carbon neutral, recyclable packaging, too! 

Thrive Market is a buying club, like Costco or Sam's Club but their $59.95/year membership fee makes it cost less than $5/month to belong, and you aren't stuck buying giant bulk sizes.

To add to the excitement, you get 25% off your first order, AND a 30 day free trial after your first purchase to see if you actually like it, PLUS the free shipping on orders of $49 or more. How cool is that?

So when your first month is free anyway, and you get 25 % off your first order, and it's easy to get free shipping, why NOT sign up right now?!

I am a Thrive Market Ambassador, so if you click one of my links to subscribe, I will get a small commission, but that's not the point and not why I'm telling you about this. I mean, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to make a little money but if you sign up for Thrive, you SAVE money on things you'd buy anyway, I make a little money, and then I can keep providing you with free content. It's win, win, win all around and this is a way for you to get amazing, healthy stuff for SO MUCH less than retail prices.

My whole platform is about giving you ways to get healthy and be healthy without spending a lot. Food was a big factor in my healing so having access to organic, gluten-free food was, and is, essential to my health. I want you to have your essentials too because the foods we eat and products we use can often impact how we feel within minutes, not to mention their effect on our health over the long term.

One last thing, Thrive Market believes all families deserve access to healthy food. Many families on a fixed budgets  have struggled to buy organic, healthy products because of the often prohibitively high prices. (Raises hand... This has been me for most of my life!)

Thrive Market matches every paid membership with a membership for a family in need, so nothing stands in the way of everyone accessing nutritious choices and truly non-toxic products. If you sign up, you also help another family who needs this but can't afford it.

Please use the Share link below to share this post with your friends. Post it on social media, email it, however you want to spread the word. Get your friends and family to use the links in this post to go to Thrive and sign up! 

SO SO sorry, Canada. Thrive Market isn't available to you yet but I'll let you know if that changes in the future!

XOXO Maggie


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Nourish Body and Mind: Make These 3 Easy Meals

When I cook, I want it to be easy, straightforward and give me a delicious, nutritious dish when I'm done. I do NOT want to slave over a hot stove all day! Do you feel the same way? Unless you're a chef and it's what you love to do... I'll be honest, I don't cook much because my husband is ridiculously talented in the kitchen and he cooks for me (I am blessed!) but when I do cook, I also want to enjoy the process and know I'm making something that will make me feel great instead of gross. So that means EASY with real, whole ingredients, cooking from scratch and not using a junky mix out of a box. Don't be intimidated. If I can do it, you can too! These are 3 recipes I love that are super easy to make, healthy, and most importantly, delicious ! Healthy food doesn't have to taste like sawdust. As my husband says, "It's not good for me if I won't eat it!"

When I made my first meal in the rehab hospital (it was a task I had to do as part of my occupational therapy), I chose what I thought would be easy. Grilled cheese and boxed mac'n'cheese. The mac'n'cheese is JUNK, I know, but back then I was taking it one step at a time. I just wanted to make some food and not burn the building down!

And the building remains! Woohoo!
Except I totally burned the grilled cheese. Like burned it black.
So my confidence in the kitchen was not at its highest and I didn't cook much at all for a few years. With a TBI, I realized how much divided, focused attention cooking requires and it was HARD. And really tiring.  It's still not the easiest thing for me if I try to do too much. Which I do, often, because I still have that pesky high achiever thing going... but if I stick with what works and I go easy on myself with stuff like one-pot meals or food that doesn't require focused attention for long, I do fine.

Reheating leftovers is still a go-to for me but I can cook stuff now without resorting to processed garbage out of a box or the frozen food aisle. Since nutrition was so integral to my healing to this point and remains crucial to supporting a healthy brain and body, my husband and I usually cook things from scratch (we get restaurant takeout - never fast food - sometimes like any normal person, too) and make the effort to choose healthy ingredients to prepare.

Most convenience foods will have preservatives, artificial additives and low quality, cheap, ingredients designed to save the company money (not boost nutrition). If you follow The Food Babe, she's been instrumental in shedding light on what's really in our processed food and getting companies to remove some of their harmful ingredients from their products. I don't love or agree with EVERYTHING she posts, but she is doing what  companies and our government will not do. It's worth looking at her investigations to see some of the truth about what's in processed foods.

The easiest way to avoid all that  processed "food" that's so unhealthy... is to cook. Not prepare or assemble something from a package yourself, but cook it from scratch! Like I said, I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. I get tired if I stand or have to focus for too long so I need to be able to make healthy food quickly and easily! These are 3 recipes I love and hope you do too. They also happen to be gluten free!
Please use organic ingredients whenever possible:

Coconut Almond Granola

If you follow me on social media, you probably saw me post this photo on Friday! This is the granola and it is so so good! When you make it, let me know how it goes in the comments below!

You will need:

 •4 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free if you are very sensitive to gluten)
1/3 cup refined coconut oil - I love Nutiva (the refined oil doesn't have a strong coconut flavor. If you want that, use extra virgin coconut oil!)
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped pitted dates
1/4 - 1/2 cup of local raw honey or real maple syrup - 1/2 cup honey will make granola quite sticky and sweet, less will still make a delicious (less sweet) granola.

Pre-heat oven to 350º F.
Warm the coconut oil (stovetop or microwave) until it's runny and pourable. Pour over the oats and mix well, coating oats evenly.
Spread oats on a baking sheet as evenly as possible. Bake for about 20-25 mins, stirring every few minutes until toasted and light brown. Let cool.


Warm honey/maple syrup until very runny and easily pourable.

Add cooled oats to a mixing bowl. Add almonds.

Pour warm honey/maple syrup over oats and almonds and mix well, coating evenly (pictured above).

Add remaining raw ingredients (seeds, coconut, dried fruit) and mix well (pictured left).
LET COOL COMPLETELY.

As it cools, the honey will get sticky and hard.  If you spread the mixture on a cookie sheet to cool, it's easier to break apart and add to your chosen storage container.
If broken into large chunks, it makes a great snack to bring with you  in a bag or container. If broken into smaller pieces and eaten with plain yogurt, organic milk or a unsweetened non-dairy milk, it's an awesome, filling granola for breakfast or a snack! I love sliced bananas or fresh berries on mine in the morning.
 

 

Quinoa and Kale Pilaf

This dish can be a meal on its own, or an amazing side dish. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a pseudo-grain that is packed with protein and contains antioxidants. I also love making quinoa salad in the summer by combining cooked quinoa, chopped veg and my vinaigrette (recipe included if you sign up for my newsletter!)

You will need:

I cup quinoa
2 cups of bone broth or homemade vegetable/chicken/beef broth (we sometimes use Pacific Foods organic vegetable broth when we don't have homemade broth because it has no added sugar.)
1/4 red onion, chopped
 large pinch of salt
1/2 box or 7 or 8 whole mushrooms, sliced 
• 1 tablespoon of garlic, chopped (less or more to your taste)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or white wine.
1/2 box of pre-washed baby kale or one bunch of kale, stems and ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1/4 block of goat milk feta cheese
black pepper to taste

In the pot you will use to cook the quinoa, sautee onion in butter (grassfed, organic if possible!) with a large pinch of salt, over med-low heat until translucent.

Add sliced mushrooms and stir until they start to soften. Add a tsp/capful of balsamic vinegar or wine - adds flavor and helps deglaze the pot.

Add the chopped garlic (I got a little jar of pre-chopped garlic to make preparation even easier!) and stir. We REALLY like garlic so if you don't want it, don't add it, or add less! Totally up to you.

PourBrothWM.jpg

Add the cup of quinoa to the pot with the onions, mushrooms and garlic and stir to coat. Immediately add 2 cups of broth. Cover pot! Bring to a boil, immediately reduce to simmer and allow to cook, covered over low heat, for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, add the kale directly on top of the cooking quinoa - it should just about fill the pot - and re-cover for 5 minutes! The kale will wilt and reduce in volume in a big way, and the quinoa will finish cooking. Cooking the kale with the quinoa this way helps conserve nutrients that would get lost if it were steamed or sauteed alone because the water in the kale goes into the quinoa.

Remove the cover and remove from heat. Quinoa should be moist and soft (not mushy) with no water remaining in the pot.

Crumble feta cheese over the cooked quinoa and kale, and stir! You are done! Delicious, healthy food awaits. And if you, or your kids, won't eat kale alone, this is a great way to sneak it into a meal.

 

 

Fish and Chips made health(ier) with homemade tartar sauce

This recipe has a lot more components and steps than the others, but if that intimidates you, just try one thing! The tartar sauce can be made ahead of time so try making that the day before. It's EASY.


You could have the fish alone or with steamed veggies, or the fries as a side dish in another meal... both keep warm in the oven really well while you throw together something else to go with them. Lots of ways to try cooking each part until you're comfortable doing it all!

 
And I know... fish'n'chips.... HEALTHY? Is she crazy?!

No, I'm not.

If it weren't for potatoes producing acrylamide when heated to high heat (and to some extent the fish batter), this WOULD be pretty healthy. But there were ways to minimize the production of acrylamide during cooking and by carefully choosing your ingredients, even the tartar sauce isn't bad - especially if you only use a little for added flavor. Just don't drown your fish in it or eat it every day, and avoid burning or heavily browning the fries. Cooking the fries and fish in coconut oil is great because coconut oil is a healthy oil and a saturated fat, very stable at high heat so it will not oxidize or go rancid like vegetable oils can. It also has a slew of other health benefits. I love this version of fish and chips better than any I've tried back home on the east coast or in any restaurant anywhere. Thanks to my father-in-law for the tartar sauce recipe!

 

For the Tartar Sauce you will need:

1/2 cup sour cream - I love Green Valley Organics lactose free sour cream (or substitute greek yogurt). Eating fat does not make you fat. Just choose high quality, clean sources of healthy fats.
1/2 cup  mayonnaise  - we use Sir Kensington's non-GMO certified mayo. Most mayonnaise is made with canola or soybean oils that are almost always genetically modified unless they are organic. See my What's A GMO link for why I avoid them.
2 tbsp fresh tarragon or dill - we used dill for this.
2 tbsp dill pickle relish - we just chopped up some dill pickles we already had in the fridge.
2 tbsp capers, drained and minced.
1 tbsp minced shallot
• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp lemon zest,
minced fine.
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar - we used honey (local, raw) because we didn't have any sugar
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
small splash Tabasco
pinch salt
pinch black pepper

Combine all ingredients, seasoning with Tabasco, salt and pepper at the end to taste. That's it! You will never buy tartar sauce again.

 

 

For the Chips (fries) you will need:

Warm oven to keep fries hot and crispy after frying

• 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes - these are a low-starch potato that won't produce as much acrylamide. They are denser and less fluffy than Russet potatoes which produces a better fry.
• 1 jar (23 oz) refined coconut oil - We use Nutiva 
• sea salt for seasoning

Thoroughly wash/peel potatoes. We buy organic potatoes and like to leave the skins on.
Cut the potatoes into rectangular, fry-shaped strips. Discard (compost!) any potato bits that are a lot smaller or skinnier than the rest. These pieces will burn when fried.


Rinse the raw, cut fries under water to remove excess starch. Place in a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 2 hours to pull more starch out of the potatoes. These steps will further reduce acrylamide produced by cooking at high heat. 

Thoroughly pat dry. Wet potatoes will essentially steam themselves in the oil, and cause it to foam, and won't fry up crispy :(

Heat coconut oil in a deep pan to 340º F. Use a candy thermometer to check the temp. If the oil is too cold, the fries will be greasy.

If you want do it by eye, test the heat of the oil by dropping a single piece of potato into the hot oil. If  nothing really happens, the oil is still too cold. If it bubbles furiously and turns brown quickly, it's too hot!  It should sizzle and bubble a little bit and turn a nice light golden brown while cooking all the way through after a few minutes. 


Place raw fries into the oil in small batches to avoid dropping the temperature of the oil too much. Keep frying in small batches, letting the oil come back up to 335º between batches, until light golden brown and cooked through. About 8-9 minutes.

Yukon Gold potatoes are stiffer and less fluffy than Russets so they will make a denser fry. Frying at 340º instead of 350º gives them more time to book through before becoming dark brown.

*** If you want to speed up the frying process, parboil all the cut, raw fries first for about 5 minutes and then drop into ice water so they stop cooking. Thoroughly pat dry, THEN fry at a slightly higher temp (350º F). They will fry up faster and get crispy.***

Place fries on paper towel to drain excess oil and salt the fries immediately as they become ready.
Place on a cookie sheet in warm oven while you fry the fish.

 


For the Fish you will need:

• 1 pound cod or other flaky, white fish 
• 1 cup brown rice flour + extra for dusting fish
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp dill
• 1 tsp powdered garlic

• pinch black pepper
• 3/4 cup COLD carbonated water

• 2 eggs
• refined coconut oil leftover from cooking the fries.
 

Gently rinse fish in cold water and pat dry. For large filets, cut them into smaller pieces. They will cook more evenly this way.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix water and eggs separately, then stir into dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Lightly coat fish with extra rice flour, then place fish fillets in batter mixture. Coat well and let stand for 10-15 minutes.

Heat oil to 350º F. You can use the same pan you used to fry the french fries. Don't fry the fish first, and then the potatoes!
Fishy fries. Ew.

Gently place small batches of battered fish into the oil. Do small batches to avoid dropping the oil temperature.

Fry until light golden brown and crispy - about 8 minutes. Turn the fillets regularly to avoid scorching the batter.

Remove fish and place of paper towels to drain excess oil. Keep warm in the oven until all the fish is cooked. 

Serve with fries and tartar sauce!

*** This fish batter makes a beautiful tempura batter, too! So if you want to make tempura veggies instead of fries, just batter and fry them before you do the fish! We've made amazing vegetarian soft tacos with tempura fried veggies for one of my vegetarian friends using this batter. So good! ***

 

If you make any or all of these recipes, please let me know how it goes and if you like/hate them in the comments below! I'd truly love to know. Have fun in the kitchen!

xoxo Maggie


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