Vegan Broccoli "Cheddar" Soup

SOUP! I haven't been this excited about a recipe in a while. I was actually going to post this next week but it's so good, I couldn't wait to share! 

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Soups are hands down my favorite thing to make. They are easy, can be packed with nourishing ingredients, and can develop a really deep, complex flavor. Oftentimes soup is better the second or third day once the flavors have had a chance to meld together. That is...if it lasts until the second or third day (insert gritted teeth emoji + upside down smile emoji). 

I'm all about easy peasy. Speaking of easy peasy, my motto for 2018 is to work smarter, not harder. Not that I don't want to work hard, but my goal is to really streamline things in my life so that I am not wasting unnecessary time doing things that don't make my life easier and/or happier. The thing is, I know I'll actually be working harder this year than I ever have before. I have a baby, a puppy (who is sometimes more work than the baby. Seriously.), and a new job (more on that so soon!!). I'm juggling more things this year than I ever have before. Why not do it all at once right?! There will be trial and error. There will be things that seem like a fantastic idea but end up being a complete waste of my time. There will be things I spend entirely waaaayyyy too much time on that I don't end up doing anything with (been there, done that a million times). 

BUT, the goal is to do less of those time wasting things. The goal is to simplify. Streamline. Declutter. Be present. Do more. But more efficiently. Easy enough right? ;) 

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Not only am I trying to streamline things in my professional life, but also in my personal life. I want to work smarter, not harder when I'm running errands. I want to work smarter, not harder to keep my house clean, and I want to work smarter, not harder in the kitchen. Gone are the days (at least for now) where I try an elaborate new recipe. I need efficiency, simplicity, and of course something that still tastes really good. I have less time, not less tastebuds!  

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Enter this soup. 

It's creamy, easy to make, filled with plant-based goodness, and delicious. REALLY FREAKING DELICIOUS. All caps were necessary, trust me.

What began as an attempt to make a great vegan broccoli cheddar soup resulted in a really great vegan broccoli cheddar soup. That doesn't always happen on the first try! I'm chalking it up to eating about 500 broccoli cheddar soups in a bread bowl at Panera when I was in high school. There was nothing better than broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl, am I right? That is until this soup. I know - bold statement. Especially for a vegan "cheese" soup, but I promise, it's an absolute dream! It's creamy and cozy and comforting, but with all nourishing, plant-based ingredients. AND it's easy to make! WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER. 

I also made some homemade croutons. Because dangit, if I don't have a bread bowl, I will at least have some delicious croutons in my soup. And trust me, these are easy! I actually meant to buy nice, crusty artisan bread at the grocery but realized when I got home that I completely forgot. All I had on hand was Ezekiel bread so I used that and it actually turned out great! So just know that you don't need fancy bread to make good croutons. 

Serve this to a group a friends and they will be impressed. Or do what we did and finish the whole big pot of soup between the two of us in 1 day. Whoops! Either way I think you will love this recipe. For the creaminess, taste, and ease. And for the nourishing ingredients that make your bod feel amazing. 

Easy peasy broccoli cheesy! 

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Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup

| Makes about 4-6 servings |

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch OR arrowroot powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 large heads of broccoli, chopped

Easy homemade garlic croutons (optional): 

  • 2-4 slices crusty bread OR hearty bread such as Ezekiel bread
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions: 

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, red bell pepper, cauliflower, and smoked paprika. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes. 
  2. If making croutons, preheat oven to 375F. Cut the bread into cubes. Gently toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. 
  3. In a blender, combine the vegetable broth with the soaked cashews, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, salt, and the cooled vegetables from the pot. Blend until creamy and well pureed (it might take a minute or two depending on the strength of your blender). 
  4. Once everything is blended and creamy, add the uncooked broccoli florets. Pulse until the broccoli is incorporated but still chunky. Pour the mixture back into the soup pot. Simmer until the broccoli is soft and cooked through, about 15 minutes. *The soup will not be very thick when you first blend everything together, but not to worry, it will thicken up very nicely once heated through back on the stovetop! 
  5. Serve with easy homemade croutons and enjoy!
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xoxo, 

Lauren

Life with Rhys: Months 0-4

You guys. Rhys turned 4 months old on January 6th! He is 1/3 of a year old. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! I know they are supposed to grow and get bigger but oh my goodness, time is flying. He doesn't feel like a new, fragile baby anymore! I'm equal parts sad because part of me misses the squishy newborn stage, and equal parts excited because it's so much fun to see him grow and develop. I know this sounds cliche and mushy, but it is true - I couldn't even imagine how much I would love him until he was here. All the emotions I have about Rhys are overwhelming at times.

Overwhelming is actually a good word to use when describing life with a newborn. Overwhelming in different ways. Overwhelming in the sense of holy Sh*T, I have a brand new little baby who knows nothing at all and it's my job to keep him alive and teach him about life, and make sure he becomes a good person. OMG that's a lot of pressure. And overwhelming in the sense of holy SH*T, I love this little boy so much that my heart is exploding and I could (and do) cry tears of joy just thinking about him.

Rhys, 3.5 months old

Rhys, 3.5 months old

The day we came home from the hospital with Rhys was a beautiful, late summer/early fall day. The sun was shining, we had spent a few days in the hospital getting to know each other, my body was starting the healing process, and we had a healthy baby boy...all was well! My sweet parents met us at our house with lots of delicious homemade food, and our dog Norm, who stayed with them while we were in the hospital. As soon as I walked into our house, I felt an overwhelming (there's that word again), unfamiliar feeling. It's hard to describe. I was in my most familiar place, yet nothing about the situation felt normal. It suddenly hit me that our lives would truly never be the same. I was never going to walk into our house and NOT be a mom again. I felt scared, excited, sore, and my heart was bursting with love for Rhys already. Meanwhile, Norm was running around the house like a maniac, so happy to see us after being away for a few days. Which irrationally annoyed me. Ugh. How was I going to balance all of this? My mom was putting away all the amazing food she made us and I just started crying. Hard. Thank goodness for my mom - she wrapped her arms around me and reassured me that everything was going to be OK. I think at the time I told her that I didn't really know why I was crying and that Norm was annoying me. Lol...poor Norm. Luckily my mom could read between the lines. She told me that having these feelings and sometimes crying for no reason was totally normal. She shared with me that she remembered feeling the same way when she brought her babies home. That it IS overwhelming, but that things start to become normal. A new normal that is way better than the "old" normal. She was right. My mom is always right. 

Rhys, 1 day old!

Rhys, 1 day old!

Rhys, 2.5 weeks old

Rhys, 2.5 weeks old

The first few weeks with a newborn were both hard and wonderful. Scott was a big help. He gave me support, was patient with my hormonal, sleep deprived self, and helped around the house, especially with the dog. It took us a few (long) solid weeks to feel like we were even close to getting into any sort of groove. The first few weeks truly are survival mode and you just make things work the best you can. One thing that really helped me was getting outside and going for walks, even when Rhys was teeny tiny. The weather was beautiful the first 2-3 months of his life which made this huge life transition easier for me. Every time I would walk outside with Rhys, I would feel grounded and calm. There is something about nature that is incredibly therapeutic. Scott and I would often times take Norman and Rhys on a walk in the morning before he left for work, and in the evening when he returned. Family time + outside time = happy Lauren!

First family walk when Rhys was 10 days old!

First family walk when Rhys was 10 days old!

So what's life like now?

Sleep: 

Ahh sleep...I remember those days ;) This was one of the things I was most nervous about. I have always been a person of sleep. I love it. And I need a good 7-8 hours at night to function. I knew there would be sleep deprivation with a newborn but whew, I'll admit the first 6 weeks were ROUGH! My little guy wanted to eat allll the time and would wake up every 60-90 minutes wanting to eat at night. I would see people post on Instagram about how well their little babies were sleeping at night by 4-6 weeks old and it would seriously make me angry. Side note: basic coping skills when you are painfully sleep deprived do not exist. I wondered if Rhys would ever sleep...even a 3 hour stretch. I would literally pray out loud asking God to please help my child sleep and would get anxiety at night before bedtime. Around 6 weeks old, I started getting serious about starting and following a bedtime routine. This helped A LOT. Every night I would do the same routine at the same time and then...something really wonderful happened...Rhys started sleeping!!! Not through the night, but anything was better than what it had been. His longest stretch so far has been 7.5 hours, although that has only happened a few times. He typically sleeps 5-6 hour "long stretches" then gets up 1-2 additional times throughout the night. He started working into a pattern that is somewhat predictable which has made all the difference in the world. I'm still getting up a few times a night, but now that I'm getting some consecutive sleep hours and he falls back asleep easier, things have gotten MUCH better. Having said that, the past week has been a bit different. He is smack dab in the middle of a 4-month sleep regression AND is teething (we can see his little tooth right below his gum ready to come through) which has thrown us for a bit of a loop. His sleep pattern has changed a little (waking up more again) but we are rolling with it. It's amazing how much your perspective changes once you have a baby. I used to think sleeping 4-5 hours at night was the worst thing ever and now I'm like HALLELUJAH I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD!! 

Nursing:

I am so so SO lucky that breastfeeding has gone well for us. Rhys and I figured it out pretty quickly and things have gone great. I am incredibly thankful for this. I had mentally prepared myself that it wouldn't be easy, and while I wouldn't say the beginning was "easy", it was significantly better than I thought it would be. Rhys likes to EAT - he is a man after my own heart ;) Breastfeeding has been such a powerful bonding experience for us and I honestly love it. I exclusively breastfed him for the first 6 weeks then tried to introduce a bottle of pumped milk. I was nervous because he will NOT take a pacifier so I worried that he might not take a bottle either. He wasn't too keen on the bottle at first, but after a few tries (with Scott or my mom) giving him a bottle, he took it and now takes it pretty easily. As much as I love nursing him, it's nice for someone else to give him a bottle every once in a while so I can run errands or get work done without the pressure of rushing back to feed him. I am still nursing him but also supplementing with a few ounces of formula at night per my pediatrician's recommendation which seems to help him sleep longer. 

Exercise: 

I'll admit, laying low was hard for me. I like to be on the move so not being able to pick up anything heavier than the baby or drive for the first 2 weeks (due to the C-section) was tough. The first week at home I was fairly content taking it very easy and just soaking up the time with my precious newborn, but I started getting antsy fast. My surgery scar healed wonderfully and I honestly felt ready to work out again after 4 weeks. My doctor told me to wait at least 6 weeks, so I followed her advice. I did however go on lots of long walks. This helped me not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I was actually surprised how good I felt when I started working out again! I kept active during my whole pregnancy up until about the last week before he was born. I know this helped tremendously. Having said that, working out definitely felt different. It took a few months to really feel close to "myself" again. And I still don't feel 100% back to my pre-baby self. But you know what, that's OK! My body took 40 weeks to create a human being, and I had major surgery to bring him into the world so of course I am not going to feel 100% like myself. I remind myself of that fact when I get frustrated or impatient that things aren't exactly what they used to be. But in general, I'm feeling great! I'm back to running which I'm really excited about. I also do strength training (I prefer doing mostly body weight resistance training) a few days a week and have recently gotten back into yoga which feels good.  The hardest part is trying to find the time (and energy some days) to workout! 

Nutrition: 

After I had Rhys, my hunger was at an all time high! I was waaaayyyy hungrier right after having him than at any point in my pregnancy. I would say that for the first 2 months, my hunger could be described as straight up ravenous. It makes sense - my body was/is producing food for Rhys AND healing from both labor and surgery. Whew, that takes a lot of energy! I can't tell if my hunger levels have dropped off some now or if I'm just used to eating a lot more haha. I am still eating all the foods I was eating before. Just really trying to listen to and honor what my body needs. I craved carbs like no other right after he was born - it brought me back to my first trimester when all I wanted was bagels and mac n' cheese :) I'm trying to drink tons of water which is important for keeping my milk supply up. Plus, I'm just super thirsty in general while breastfeeding. I'm also still taking these prenatal vitamins, and these vegan DHA supplements which I took throughout my whole pregnancy. 

Other random things: 

  • Rhys likes to be moving constantly! By the end of the day I am exhausted because I am bouncing, swaying, and moving with him all day. He also likes when the car is moving. Stop lights are not always our friend lol. 
  • We lucked out because Rhys is such a happy baby! He smiles all the time and his toothless grin seriously melts my heart. He recently started giggling a little bit and it's the sweetest, funniest thing in the world. I could listen to his little giggles all day! 
  • He has become a little chatterbox recently. We "talk" back and forth to each other and it's so much fun! The past few mornings he has woken up around 5am and just starts babbling to himself. Even though Scott and I are SO tired and not ready to wake up, we love listening to him. We let him "talk" until he starts getting fussy, then I get him from his bassinet to feed him. We like to think he is telling us all about the sweet dreams he had throughout the night ;)
  • He LOVES music! I'm sure most babies do, but he really responds positively to music. For the first 8 weeks, anytime he was fussy, I would turn on Frank Sinatra and he would immediately stop crying (most of the time). It was hilarious....and wonderful. Thanks Frank!
  • Rhys has expressive eye brows and his facial expressions make me laugh on the daily! 
  • Scott is a super tall dude and it seems like Rhys is taking after him already. He is a long baby and is growing like a weed! 
  • My house has never been as messy as it is right now. Having a messy house gives me a slight eye twitch, but there are only so many hours in the day. And right now I need to prioritize Rhys time, work time, family time, and try to squeeze in a workout (and/or a shower) whenever I can. Someday my house will be clean again, but today is not that day. 
  • Rhys took his first flight down to south Florida for Christmas. We were anxious to see how the whole "flying with a baby" thing would go, but it was much better than we thought. I nursed him during take off and landing, but other than that he slept in my arms pretty much the whole time. We booked a direct flight into a different airport than we usually fly into, and I am glad we did. I know the direct flight made things much, much easier. 
  • Rhys rolled over while we were in Florida for Christmas! He had been close for weeks but when he actually did it, it pleasently surprised both us and him.  
  • By the way, his name Rhys (pronounced Rees), is the traditional male spelling for the pronunciation of the name. It's also the Scottish/Welsh spelling which is special to us since Scott is 50% Scottish. 
  • I spent 30 years of my life without Rhys, and even though he has only been here for 4 months, I am completely smitten and in some ways, can't imagine life prior to having him. Crazy how that happens!!
Rhys, 1 month old

Rhys, 1 month old

Rhys, 3 months old

Rhys, 3 months old

Christmas Day in Florida! 

Christmas Day in Florida! 

Rhys, 4 months old

Rhys, 4 months old

Rhys, 4 months old

Rhys, 4 months old

There are a million more things I could write, but I'll stop here. If you have stuck around to read all of this, give yourself a big pat on the back - that was a long one! Thanks for all your love and support the past 4 months of Rhys' life. Your sweet comments mean the world to us! In the past 4 months, we have started to established our "new normal". A wonderful new normal. A new normal filled with lots of smiles, dirty diapers, less sleep, and an overwhelming amount of love. I can't wait to see what the next 4 months bring! 

Rhys, 4 months

Rhys, 4 months

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xoxo,

Lauren

Apple Hemp Muffins (Vegan)

Happy New Year! I know I know, I'm a few days late, but better late than never right? I am excited to share this recipe with you! I've gotten a few requests on Instagram to share more healthy snack ideas so I thought I would share this delicious muffin recipe I have been making lately. 

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SNACKS. 

Are you an avid between-meal-snacker? Or are you on the fence about whether or not you should be snacking? I get a lot of questions from clients about snacking. There is SO much nutrition information out there telling you what you should and shouldn't be doing.

One minute eggs are bad for you, then the next they are good for you. You should eat 6 small meals per day. No wait, you should actually be eating 3 square meals, with the largest meal at breakfast and DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT EATING AFTER 7PM. Or my personal favorite, bananas make you fat.

......Wait, what?!? 

No wonder there is confusion. 

The thing is, nutrition really is slightly different for everyone. I have worked with clients who thrive on eating smaller portions more often throughout the day and I have clients who do best with three larger meals and no snacking at all. It really depends on your daily schedule, preference, and activity level. Personally, I am a snacker. I always have been and I probably always will be. For me, snacking helps prevent the dreaded hanger that is bound to happen if I stretch my meals out too far apart. Snacking helps me make better choices at meal times because I'm not starving. We all make better choices when we aren't hangry. Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you are hungry? I know you have...we all have! When I go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, I spend a lot more money. And weird things make it into my cart. A $27 dollar box of organic shortbread cookies dipped in artisan chocolate, puffed quinoa, and unicorn dust....I'LL TAKE IT ;) 

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I have always been someone who gets hungry pretty quickly. Scott teases me because an hour or so after we eat a big meal I'll start to get hungry again, which always shocks him because he can't even think about eating another bite of food. See....our bodies all work so differently! For me, snacking is KEY. 

Now, there are better snacks than others. We all know that snacking on things like potato chips and ice cream aren't ideal "go-to" snack options (although every once in a while YOLO), but I still think there is some confusion around smart snacking. The closer we can get to eating real, whole foods most of the time, the better we feel.  But we also need to make sure we have a well-balanced snack. I'm talking about those macro-nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat. Ideally we would eat something with a little of everything! Carbohydrates digest the quickest, while protein and fat take a little longer. We want that protein and/or healthy fat to help slow down the digestion of carbs. If we eat an all carb snack (even a healthy carb!), our bodies will quickly digest it and we will be hungry quicker. Protein and healthy fat help create lasting energy, which is exactly what we want out of a snack. Oh, and fiber! If you have been a long-time reader here, you know how much I love fiber. What kind of dietitian would I be if I wasn't a fiber freak?! ;) Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that adds bulk to our foods and helps slow the digestion of the simpler carbohydrates. This is why I recommend eating an apple WITH peanut butter or nuts, or veggies WITH hummus or guacamole. The combination is key!

So what about these muffins?

These muffins have it all! Complex carbohydrate, fiber, protein, healthy fat, AND a crumble topping. You could certainly make these muffins without the crumble topping, but honestly why would you?! It really puts these muffins over the top in the flavor department. I don't know about you but sometimes the thought of just snacking on raw veggies doesn't cut it for me, especially in this arctic weather! I want something that feels super satisfying. And what tastes super satisfying to me? MUFFINS. And what feels super satisfying to me? HEALTHY MUFFINS. Plus, these guys are just easy. Easy to make, and easy to take! Life with a baby has made me want to prioritize my time better to make sure I get to spend as much quality time with Rhys as possible. When I'm making food, I want to make things that yield a lot...without taking a lot of time. For me, these muffins have been a quick, easy solution to between meal snacking that leave me feeling great. They use applesauce in place of oil and are lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup. Just one of these muffins has 6 grams of protein thanks to the almond flour and hemp seeds, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of healthy fat (hemp seeds for the win again) - heck yes! 

Do yourself a favor: save some time, make your bod feel good, and enjoy these tasty Apple Hemp Muffins!

Oh and P.S. Bananas DON'T make you fat ;)

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Apple Hemp Muffins (Vegan)

| Makes 12 muffins |

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-grain flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Crumble (optional, but highly recommended!)

  • 6 Tbsp almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar or coconut sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours, hemp seeds, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) and stir until well combined.  
  2. In another bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla, and mix together.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and gently fold and mix through, until just combined, careful not to over mix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners (this will fill 12 muffins full). 
  5. To make the crumble, combine the flour, melted coconut oil, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until crumbly. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of crumble. 
  6. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
  7. Enjoy!

*If you want more muffin goodness in your life, check out this recipe for Ginger Pear Muffins (with the same crumble topping) I created on Well + Good

xoxo,

Lauren

 

Let's Catch Up!

Well hi there! It's been a while. A little over a year to be exact! Unless you follow me on Instagram it probably seemed like I dropped off the face of the planet. No explanation, no blog updates, how rude of me!

So what have I been up to? 

This past year has been a complete whirlwind filled with lots of amazing changes and a pretty awesome new addition to our little family. Actually, make that two new additions - a furry addition and a human addition :) Yep, that's right, I became a dog mom and mama to our precious little boy. 

When I look back at the last blog post I published, I can't decide if it feels like a lifetime ago or just yesterday. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago because my life has changed in so many ways. At this time last year, Scott and I were just doing our usual thing - going out for Friday night cocktails, meeting friends for college football Saturdays, and getting ready for the holiday season. We had been thinking about starting a family and decided to just see what happened. Fast forward to December 28th, 2016 when I took a positive pregnancy test...at work haha! We were both shocked and elated and knew our lives were about to change forever.

Side note: Scott was out of town when I found out I was pregnant so I kept the secret all to myself for TWO WHOLE DAYS until he came home so I could tell him in person. It was the hardest thing I've ever done! 

15 weeks pregnant! Photo by Photo 243

15 weeks pregnant! Photo by Photo 243

15 weeks pregnant! Photo by Photo 243

15 weeks pregnant! Photo by Photo 243

15 weeks pregnant! Photo by Photo 243

15 weeks pregnant! Photo by Photo 243

Fast forward again to March and we decided to get a puppy! I know, we are crazy. I had been trying to convince Scott that we needed a dog for the past 6+ years. He had always been on the fence about it. He grew up with Mini Schnauzers and when we found a liter of the most adorable Mini Schnauzer puppies for sale, we couldn't say no. Four weeks later, we brought home our fur baby, Norman. People thought we were crazy for getting a puppy when we were expecting a baby a few months later, but hey...YOLO. And honestly, who could resist this furry face?! 

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Early on in my pregnancy we opted to do blood work to test for any chromosomal abnormalities (everything was normal, whew!), but with that test we also had the opportunity to find out the gender of our baby. We got the gender results when I was 13 weeks pregnant. Instead of opening the envelope right away, we decided to open it in a special (to us) place. Scott proposed to me in Paris, France in April 2012 in front of the Louvre on a chilly but absolutely beautiful night after a delicious dinner near the Seine River that runs through the city. We randomly found an absurd flight deal to Paris in May and thought it would be really special to open the gender result envelope during that trip in the spot where Scott proposed. Let me just say that the second most difficult thing I have ever done was pick up the gender result envelope from my doctors office and drive it home WITHOUT opening it. Scott has way more self control than me so he kept me strong during weak moments when I wanted to rip open the envelope. We made our Paris trip into a "babymoon" and had an absolute blast. Seriously, it was such a wonderful trip (even though I couldn't enjoy the fabulous French wine!). We have been to Paris a few times together already so it was a nice, chill trip where we were able to check out some different, non-touristy things that we haven't done before. We landed in Paris around 7am local time, cabbed to our AirBnB, changed, and walked over to the Louvre where we opened the envelope that we had kept stashed in our bedroom nightstand for the last 12 weeks. We found out that our little bundle of joy was a BOY!! Scott had a gut feeling all along and I was totally on the fence before finding out. We were both thrilled! We spent the rest of the trip discussing names (although we didn't end up deciding on one until after he was born), and fantasizing about what life would be like with a baby boy...our baby boy. 

Right after we opened the gender results where we got engaged! 

Right after we opened the gender results where we got engaged! 

Beautiful Parisian farmer's market finds. 

Beautiful Parisian farmer's market finds. 

Visiting Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte outside of the city. 

Visiting Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte outside of the city. 

One of the MANY delicious desserts we had :)

One of the MANY delicious desserts we had :)

Such a beautiful city!

Such a beautiful city!

The most colorful street in Paris - Rue Cremieux!

The most colorful street in Paris - Rue Cremieux!

Montemarte - one of our favorite area of the city. 

Montemarte - one of our favorite area of the city. 

WE ARE HAVING A BOY!!

WE ARE HAVING A BOY!!

Our Paris trip was incredibly special and a great getaway for the two of us. A few days later I turned 30 (how did that even happen?!) and Scott planned a surprise party for me. I was completely shocked! Major kudos to him because I did not see it coming AT ALL. 

Fast forward to late summer 2017 and I was very pregnant and very ready to meet this baby! Our little guy decided to make his appearance on Wednesday September 6th, 2017. To make a long story short, my water broke naturally at home (the night of a full moon!), I labored really well until I was at 8 centimeters, then I stalled there for 6 hours. I labored for 16 hours total before needing a C-section because our little one was stuck in my birth canal and didn't seem to be coming out anytime soon. At that point, I just wanted him here safely in my arms. At 4:33pm, Rhys was born and we heard his sweet little cry. I still tear up thinking about those first few minutes of his life. It was a surreal feeling that I'll never forget. He came into the world at 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches long. Our perfect boy. 

Our first picture together. 

Our first picture together. 

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Rhys turns 3 months old in a few days. Time flies! Life with a newborn has been delightful, exhausting, wonderful, sleepless (although that's getting much better), messy, and absolutely amazing. It's incredible how much we love him. I miss him when he naps and find myself looking at pictures of him all day long. His pouty bottom lip that he recently starting sticking out when he is tired makes me melt.  His toothless smiles make me weak in the knees. I want to squeeze his cheeks and smell his fresh baby skin all day. I love to touch his little ears when he is nursing. I sing and talk to him all day and he coos back at me. I love that he wants to cuddle with me in my arms at night before bed. Basically I've become a total sap! I can't believe how much he has grown and changed already and it seems like everyday he is doing something new. I can't wait to watch him continue to grow...but not too fast! ;)

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So what's next for this blog?

I feel inspired to be in this space again and am excited about some new things that I can't wait to share with you soon! I want to share more. More food, more health, more cookies, more life.  Thanks for all your support and for sticking around here during my blogging hiatus. In the meantime, feel free to reach out and let me know what kind of stuff you would like to see . Do you want more recipes, health tips, baby updates? All of the above? None of the above? Let me know! I can't to hear from you. 

xoxo,

Lauren 

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes + This Weekend At Macy's!

I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that Thanksgiving is next week! This year is FLYING. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. Scott and I usually get up early and either run in a Turkey Trot road race or do our own workout. We didn't sign up for an official race this year, so we will most likely be hitting up our local gym to get a little turkey day workout in by ourselves. After our workout, I'll be heading into the kitchen to whip up a few dishes to bring to my family's Thanksgiving dinner. My family prepares a beautiful, traditional spread of turkey, mashed potatoes, cheesy potatoes (those used to be my fav), vegetables, harvest salad, cranberries, and OF COURSE lots of pie. 

I always bring 2-3 plant-based dishes. I bring them to ensure I am able to have a super full plate of delicious food just like everyone else, and also because I know other people will love them, too! Just because they are plant-based doesn't mean they are weird and gross. Every time I bring different dishes to our Thanksgiving celebration, the food is completely gone by the end of the meal. I call that a win! I've put together some of my favorite dishes to bring to Thanksgiving dinner for you to check out! 

ALSO, this Saturday (November 19th), I will be at Macy's Easton from 2-4pm on the first floor in the Health & Wellness Department to chat with YOU about tips on staying healthy this holiday season. I'll be sharing some of my healthy holiday favorite recipes with you! The event is free, so come in and say hi! I want to meet all of you and chat about food and hear what you are all up to for Thanksgiving! :) For more information, visit macys.com/events


Thanksgiving Recipes

Soups

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Simply Delicious Berry Crisp 

Peach Almond Vegan Galette

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do and I hope to see you at Macy's Easton this Saturday, November 19th from 2-4pm!

xoxo,

Lauren

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy's, however as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting brands that make WholeLivingLauren possible!