Family Meal Time

One of the things I love about the Mediterranean Diet is the focus of eating together and making it a social gathering. Before, alex and I usually ate dinner in our living room, in front of the TV. It was nice because we would get caught up on our shows. However, we would barely speak to each other during that time. We would quickly eat our meals in silence then watch our show and sometimes discuss what happened on the show. Our kitchen table was only be used to hold our mail and other random things we did not have a place for.

Since starting the diet we realized how important meal time together is. Having conversations while eating makes you slow down. Eating more slowly helps you realize when you are actually full. I look forward to dinner now just so we have the time to talk about our days and laugh at our son being a goof during dinner. He is still learning the ins and outs of eating, so food usually ends up all over himself and the floor!

Recently though the busy American lifestyle has creeped into our home. It seems like one of us either missing dinner or has to eat quickly to get to leave for some type of meeting. Our kitchen table has filled up with papers so we have started eating our kitchen island instead. I’ve been trying to think of solutions to avoid this new normal. Short of cancelling all extra things after, I’m not sure of what our solution would be. So I’m seeking help! What are some ways you have found that makes meal time with family possible?

New Year Resolution

Happy New Year to you all! 🥂

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I know we did. It was a blast watching Sammy attempt to open gifts. Admittedly he was more interested in eating the wrapping paper than the actual gift, but it was still fun to watch. He seemed to really enjoy pulling gifts from his little stocking. He understood that concept a little better.

't know about you, but when it comes to the holidays it basically turns into one big cheat week. We tried a little harder than normal this year to eat healthier. We brought salad to Christmas lunch, and we were the only ones who ate it 🤦🏻‍♀️ My stepmom was prepared and actually made mashed cauliflower which was delicious! It basically tastes like lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes. Highly recommend for those who are craving comfort food!

Needless to say, our meals for the next week will be extremely health. Fish or vegetarian are pretty much the only main courses.

I love New Years! It brings a fresh start. For us currently that is to eat a little better. We had such a rough year full of health issues. I’m personally happy to be putting 2017 behind us. Thank god for Sammy, or else 2017 would have truly been terrible! He continues to brighten our lives every day!

Now, I’m not really into New Year resolutions. I don’t really make them, and if I do I don’t stick with them very long. However, Alex has decided to make one and it will be fun to watch him complete it. He has decided to do a triathlon this year 🏊🏻‍♂️🚴🏻‍♂️🏃🏻‍♂️He has decided to do a sprint triathlon which is a 750 meter swim, 20k bike ride, and a 5k run. The famous Ironman triathlon is a 3.9 mile (3.9km) swim, 112 mile (180km) bike ride, and 26.2 mile (42.1km) run, so a sprint is way more realistic!

Alex and I did run a half marathon in 2014, so at least he has a sense of how these things work. However, I still think he’s a crazy person 😆 I am excited to be his support during this journey, and it will mostly make me feel lazy so I’ll probably end up exercising more too!

Alex was feeling poetic when deciding when to do the race. The race date is July 14, which is exactly one year from when he got his stent in. There is nothing like over coming the barriers that are in front of you, especially when it is health related.

I want to know what your resolutions are! Did you make one that will affect your daily life, like giving up soda, or did you decide to go the challenge route like Alex? Who knows, after seeing your resolutions I might just decide to tackleone myself this year!!

Give Love

First, sorry for the delay in posts! I was recently apply for graduate school. All my energy went into study for the GRE and my application. I’m happy to announce that I have been accepted! Being a full time mom, part time student, part time blogger, and with full time job will be interesting to balance!

This leads me to my main topic, having a good support system. I know I will need it for the next couple of years. However, Alex will need a great support system for the rest of his life to help ensure that he stays healthy. By healthy, I don’t mean just his heart health, but also his mental health.

Going through a near death situation can be difficult on anyone. Alex often reflects on how close to death he really was. He thanks me often because I was the only one pushing him to go to the doctor. Everyone else just told him it was stress from the upcoming baby. But my maternal instincts were kicking in already and I knew it was something more. I know he wonders what would have happened if I wasn’t in his life. I try to ease his worries by telling him that there is no point on pondering on the what if’s. You can drive yourself mad by doing that.

PTSD after any medical procedure is a concern. It can be especially important for those with heart disease because stress only worsens the issue. Thankfully, Alex has not showed any signs of this.

Adjustment to his new lifestyle has been the biggest challenge.

The most difficult thing though for us is adjusting to the loss of friendships and support. Whenever a major life event occurs, good or bad, you quickly learn who your true friends and family are. By this I mean the friends and family who will be there when you need them and you for them.

After alex was diagnosed and went through the procedure for the stent we saw a few things happen. First was the incoming support from a lot of family. Alex received calls from family members he hadn’t spoken to in some time while he was still in the hospital. Those were some of the best moments for him because they helped give him purpose. He felt like his life did matter and impacted others.

At the same time this was happening, in the background were friends distancing themselves from us. Of course we have friend who are more distant before because we no longer go out at night as much or because they moved further away. These are not the people I am referring to. Many of these friends still make a great effort to spend time with us and respond to us when we make the effort.

There is a group of “friends” who have distant themselves simply because they cannot handle the trauma themselves. I can completely understand why they do this. Alex tells me how he had an indestructible feeling before which is now gone. Some situations are too difficult for some to handle and backing away from it seems to be better for everyone involved. Some people don’t want to lose the sense of being indestructible which is why I think they turn their back on a friendship.

I got to see the effect this had on my husband. I quickly learned why a good support is important but also hard to come by.

I think it hit Alex the hardest around his birthday. We do the same thing every birthday for him. Watch the Wisconsin Badgers at a bar/restaurant near the stadium.

Alex began listening to the various conversations occurring by the group of people who came out. He heard about how activities he was apart of before the procedure were still occurring but he was no longer being invited. He heard about future plans people had with each other and how he was not included in on them. He saw people leave after the game to hang out with themselves somewhere else instead of joining us for cake and beers at our house like we usually do. Some not even bothering to say much to him at all.

At that moment, he had felt something he never had before. No self worth. He told me that night, with a tear in his eye, that it would not have impacted anyone at all if he would have died. That barely anyone would have cared and that barely anyone does.

My heart truly broke when he said this to me. I still fight with the rage I feel for certain people now.

Even now people make comments to him about something a group is doing without him and I can see the pain in his eyes.

Thankfully, he does have a good support system overall. The next day I messaged a friend who is probably the best listener I’ve ever met. He helped ease his worries more so than I could. At that moment, I knew I needed to reanalyze some friendships. For Alex’s sake, I needed to make sure his support system was strong. There will always be people in your life who might not know how to handle the situation. But if they don’t want to be apart of your life, you need to learn how to let go of those toxic friendships.

I find it interesting how people react to these type of situations. There are some people who react by not taking life advantage and live it to the fullest and make sure to include all those they care about. I see some people’s life prospective completely change. Some people have came up to me and have said that if anything would have happened they would have helped me in any way possible. And then there are those who run away. It hurts to see people run away from your friendships. People you thought you were close to. Alex pointed out though that these people are not ones who you ever felt truly comfortable sharing secrets with. They were the fun friends, but not true friends.

This holiday season, I encourage all of you to look at all of your friends and family and truly appreciate the ones who are there for you. You know which ones are the ones you could go to no matter what. These are the people you want to surround yourself with. The ones who love you unconditionally. I hope this holiday season you are surrounded by those who truly care about your well-being and want to have you apart of their lives.

Happy holidays.

How to make Kale taste good

Kale, the superfood. We have all heard of why it is so good for you, so I ask, why doesn’t it taste as good as it is for you! I mean, look at other superfoods. Sweet potatoes, delicious! Strawberries and blueberries, amazing! Even most people will agree broccoli is better (I’m rare and have always loved broccoli). Alex and I decided to find recipes that actually make Kale taste good! A challenge indeed. Today I present to you kale as a side dish and kale as the main event.

Kale Chips

This is actually Alex’s recipe! He does enjoy cooking once in awhile. Wait until I share his beer bread recipe, you will be shocked by how good and healthy that is too!

Since this is Alex’s recipe, I’m going to give it in his terms 😆 and also copy a generic recipe I found online.

In his words:

Oven set at 375 degrees. Then you grab a few big hand full of kale and wash it. (the kale we had was precut. If you are using fresh kale, remove leaves from stem and cut into bit size pieces)

Then you spun it, spun it down. (He is referring to the salad spinner).

And sprinkle a little olive oil on it so that it is covered and kinda toss it around. Put it on a cookie sheet.

Then bake it for 10 to 15 minutes until it is crispy. Throw some paprika or whatever you want on it. (I recommend either paprika or garlic powder!) Now eat it!

Here is a recipe for a better idea what to do. Especially if you like more direction while cooking.

We had this a game day side dish while watching the Green Bay Packers, aka the best football team ever! It’s as a little snack instead of chowing down on salty potato chips. We also enjoy these as a side dish whenever we have sandwiches.

Autumn Kale Apple and Quinoa Salad

Find recipe here

 If you are looking for a main dish using kale, look no further! The secret is the dressing. The longer you massage it into the  Kale the better the Kale becomes. The dressing is simply olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and Dijon mustard. Alex use to say he hated mustard. That’s until he tasted other mustards than just the standard yellow. Mustard is one of my go-tos when making homemade dressing. Dijon or whole grain mustard is always in stock! 

The writer of this recipe also is with not liking kale, so if multiple kale haters actually enjoy this dish you know it is good. 

We got the apples for the recipe from a local apple orchard called Door Creek. We go every year, but this year was special because Sammy helped us out! 
Now for the cheese, we actually went with mozzarella. Not for any particular reason than we ran out of all other cheeses 😩 It definitely tasted great with mozzarella still. 

We usually have salad as a main dish once every two weeks for dinner. Usually salads are more of a side dish with our meals though. Salads are great and customizable but having them all the time can be kinda redundant 🙃
There you go! Two recipes to give a try and see if you can handle kale yet! Let me know what you think or if you have any killer kale recipes! 


Starting off early 

Last week I started work again. I had 4 wonderful months off for maternity leave. The extra time I had off was truly needed for bonding time with Sammy! Sammy has hit a milestone at 4 months. If we wanted to we could start playing around with solid foods!

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Our pediatrician has told us that Sammy has a high risk for developing heart disease thanks to Alex. My dad always said if you have a weird habit, bad health condition, or really anything you can just blame you parents for bad genetics. He always meant it as a joke, but in this case, it is true!

We discussed the best method, for our situation, to introduce solids into Sammy’s diet. She recommended doing Baby-Led *Weaning (BLW). Basically, you skip the purees and go straight to real food. You prepare it in a way to ensure that it is safe for your child. You can start introducing the food around 6 months. Once your child has good neck strength, able to sit in a high chair unassisted, and be able to move food to the back of his mouth with up and down jaw movements, they will be ready for BLW.

*Quick note! Weaning is meant in the British sense, which is adding food. The American uses the term to describe stopping breastfeeding.

At this point breastmilk or formula is still the main source of nutrition. Food is for fun at this age. Discovering what they like, seeing their reaction to new textures and flavors, and teaching them valuable skills. There are also a ton of additional benefits to BLW.

  • Join in during family mealtime
    • You feed your child the same food you are eating. You just have to do some additional steps to make sure it is safe. Cutting food into small bite size pieces and cooking some items longer to ensure they are soft enough.
  • Eating a wide range of foods early on
  • Helps develop hand-eye coordination, chewing skills, and dexterity
  • An important step for babies in learning self-regulation
    • learning to stop eating when they feel full
  • Encourages babies to choose healthier foods

The last two points are the main reasons why we decided to go with BLW. Sammy’s high risk to inherit Alex’s bad genes is a part of nearly every decision we have made for him so far. We want Sammy to choose the healthier options early on to help his overall health. Now, this is not to say we won’t enjoy our fair share of ice cream, pizza, or some junk food here and there. I want to be clear, we are not putting our infant son on a diet, but rather encouraging healthier eating habits early on.  This will hopefully help prevent or delay health complications for Sammy.

Sammy is only 4 months, so we won’t be starting BLW for a few months still. I’m excited to start this journey with our little boy! He will truly be a part of our Mediterranean Diet Journey soon!

I know there are some moms out there who already have done BLW. I want to hear all about your experience and any tips you may have!

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Not just for heart health

It’s true, the only reason my family started the Mediterranean diet is because of my husband’s condition. Heart health has become a number 1 priority in our household. With that being said, there are loads of other advantages to this diet. 

The most obvious is that you will become overall healthier. The American diet is not known for its health benefits. Alex’s cardiologist told us not to stress about totally sticking with the diet because it’s near impossible to do so in America. We tend to like foods sweeter and saltier than other countries, so unless you are exclusively farm to table, you will probably have a few things extra that the diet normally avoids. We have notice our overall health improving though just by making healthier decisions with each meal and snack. 

Weight loss will most likely happen as well. My husband hasn’t completely started his exercise routine yet. In the summer we tend to be more active in general since the weather is so nice! Alex has already lost 20 lbs just by switching his diet! He weighs less now than he did when we were training for our half marathon a few years ago. Part of this diet is plenty of exercise. Once we start hitting up our gym more regular I’m sure he will lose more weight! 

Your energy levels will increase. When you eat a balance diet your energy levels usually increase with that. Harvard medicine has researched the best ways to naturally boost your energy levels. All of their tips are apart of the Mediterranean diet. A balance diet, smaller portion sizes and more frequent meals, and limiting alcohol but still enjoying a drink (or 2 for men) are all key parts to this diet. 

If you are not worried about your heart health yet, but want to live healthier then the Mediterranean diet is for you. It’s not a crash diet, where you will lose weight quickly but then quickly regain it all afterwards. It’s a complete lifestyle change! This means you will only continue to feel better as you continue the diet. Small changes to your overall lifestyle can cause huge improvement if you stay at it! 

All the signs

Do you ever look back and realize how many warning signs one event had. You then wonder how you could be so blind to it. I have been thinking about this a lot lately…

Alex and I went to one of our friend’s wedding a few weeks ago. It was our first night away from the baby! Which also meant, my first night having more than a glass or two of wine. Of course, I became a little emotional over the night, so I was a little on edge. Alex also had a little bit more than he should have to drink and started tell everyone about his “near death” experience. Of course, he bragged a little about how close to death he was as if he had to prove how miraculous it was that he was here.

As silly as he was being with that, I realized it was true. Most of our friends did not know this had happened to him. We had not told them just because we wanted to tell them in person. Didn’t seem appropriate to tell them via text! As Alex went around saying he nearly escaped death, people then came up to me to explain what happen exactly.

I told the story a few hundred times before, but this night with being a little over emotional I started to realize something. There were a billion warning signs telling us something was wrong.

We discovered it was a blocked artery in June of 2017. We found out how severe it was in July when he got his stent in. However, the warning signs started the winter before. The first was when we were working out. He started getting out of breath easily when doing any type of exercise. I told him to tell his doctor about it. She thought it was probably exercise induced asthma. He got his inhaler in January 2017.

Next he started getting jaw pain. He told his dentist about it in March 2017 and they told him to get a mouth guard for at night. They told him that it was mostly him grinding his teeth at night from stress. We of course discovered later that the jaw pain was actually associated with the blocked artery.

These are some of the bigger signs, but there were too many smaller signs. Like the stairs at our house getting harder for him each day. Mowing the lawn becoming a huge chore. Just the feeling of something being wrong whenever we talked about how he was feeling. Everyone kept saying it was stress because the baby was coming.

I don’t blame the doctors or anything for missing it at first. This was a freak incident. Alex’s cardiologist told him that he was actually angry when he found out how bad the block was. It was 4 weeks between the scan finding the block and him getting the stent. They knew it was blocked, but thought it was minimal. Upon learning that it was over 90% blocked, the cardiologist was angry at himself for putting Alex’s life endanger like that.

So there I was telling friends and strangers at this wedding about the events leading to the procedure and after. And I broke. This was the first time I truly cried about the incident. When I first found out, I had to hold back the tears, but I knew I had to be the strong one for our family at that point. But at that wedding, there was no holding back. I told my friend there that I forget how close we were to losing him. She said to me that I would have had the support from them and they would have helped anyway possible.

However, my tears weren’t for how close I was to becoming a widow at 25 or having to raise my infant son alone. They were for Alex and how he wouldn’t have been able to get to know our son. He wouldn’t have heard his first giggles or first words. Wouldn’t see him go to kindergarten or graduate from high school. Alex is truly one of the most loving people you could ever meet. Yes, he is a sarcastic ass at times and challenges everyone, but it’s always out of love. He deserves to live a long and happy life.

I know plenty of people go through similar type of situations and don’t have a happy ending. I thank our lucky stars every night because I know luck was on our side for this one. The doctors and us missed about every warning sign, but thankfully it was discovered in time.

This is just to remind everyone, that if warning signs start to add up, don’t ignore them. If you have a bad feeling in your gut, listen. It could save your life!