Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Heart Healthy Grapes

Did you know that May is Mediterranean Diet Month?  I'd like to think that a lot of the inspiration for my personal diet is derived from the Mediterranean Diet and it's a diet that's continually proving to be great for overall health and longevity.

The Mediterranean Diet might also bring to mind thoughts of delightful glasses of red wine, however Welchs' 100% grape juice is another way to reap those heart healthy benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and concord grapes. Since I am STILL several weeks away from me enjoying any red wine or other libations, Welch's 100% Concord Grape Juice suits me just fine.  
Ingredients for salmon recipe
The benefits of Welch's can be attributed to polyphenols in the specific Concord grapes.  Concord grapes have a short growing season and don't travel too well, hence why you might not see them in the grocery store a lot.  However, their thick skin and crunchy seed make them a great source of antioxidants from polyphenols.  All of that helps contribute to heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels and circulation.
For those of you concerned about sugar in juice it's important to remember a few things....always read the label of your juice.  ALWAYS.  You're looking for 100% fruit juice and ironically make sure it's the juice you want.  Some juices are "blends", so you're not getting all of the fruit benefits you might be searching for.  Second, it's about portion size.  1/2 cup of juice is a good serving size and that will count as 1 of your daily fruit servings too.

Earlier in the month of May I made an appearance on the national TV show, Daytime, to talk about heart health and made some fun Mother's Day recipes using Welch's.  

I loved the grape chia pudding and I even used some of the leftovers as a base in Kyle's smoothies the next week.  The salmon was great too, I just think I overcooked it as bit as I'm prone to do.

Have you cooked with grape juice?

Love and Concord city,
Carissa & Kyle

Recipe links:
Grape Juice Chia Cups:
Spiced Salmon Filet with Grape Juice Glaze:

The TV segment was sponsored by Welch's, I was not compensated or required to write this post. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pregnancy Update: 37 weeks

We are full term baby!  Yes, I'm talking to you little #BabyB!  It's been 6 weeks since I shared an update and it feels like a lot has gone on.

BabyB has a cousin now, we had a baby moon, finished the nursery, packed the bags, and now against my better judgement I feel like I'm in the "waiting game" stage of pregnancy.
Here's the 411 on 37 weeks:

Weight gained: Although it doesn't feel like it we're up to 35 pounds.  I don't feel like I look 35 pounds bigger, but according to Mr. Scale it's the truth.  I would like to not gain anymore, but I'm still planning on eating enough and making sure that BabyB is getting what she needs, so if we make it to 40 then we do.  Wow.
37 weeks with Grandma
Workouts: Somedays just walking from the car to the gym in 90 degree heat feels like a workout!  I'm down to about 3 actual workouts a week.  2 strength training sessions with Kyle, 1 elliptical session, and usually 2 shorter walks outside.  Again, it's SO hot outside that walks are tough. I'm sure my neighborhood enjoys the waddle going by.
Pregnancy Clothes: I've reached the point where I"m too stubborn to buy anything new. Good thing I work from home and Kyle has lots of men's basketball shorts for me to wear. #sexy

In preparation for a TV segment I'm taping this week I did rent a dress from I figured the $50 was better than buying a dress for 1 wear.  I typically like the maternity section from Target, but their fabrics don't look great on air. I'll share pics after the segment Friday....if we make it that far.....

Symptoms: Lots!  Up until week 36 I was still getting lots of leg cramps and some insomnia.  Around 32 weeks I switched my prenatal vitamin to the Similac prenatal which had more magnesium and calcium and I noticed a reduction in leg cramps.  I also had some days where I was just a grump.  Sorry world.

Yesterday was my 37 week appointment and I can say that my mental state and symptoms have changed since then.  At 36 weeks there was no sign of dilation or effacement and yesterday my doctor was shocked to see that I dilated to 3cm and was 75% effaced.  Now that could mean something or it could mean nothing.  However I am now over analyzing every little feeling!  I have I'd say 3 contractions per day now and I find that in general I feel worse and nauseous when I need to eat.  Is Baby B coming soon?  Who knows....

Food Aversions:  I'm hungry, but I don't want to eat.  Even "cheat" foods don't sound great, but I'm still loving orange juice and lots of berries and cherries.

Food Cravings: Besides one serious need for a cupcake (which Kyle fulfilled splendidly) no real cravings.  I'm super thirsty during the day.

Movement: She's a pretty good mover and now I'm to the point where I have to pay attention to that sort of thing.  Which again...makes me worry more.  Moms how do you do it?  In the past 2 days she has "dropped" considerably lower and her movements are much farther down.  Lots of rolls and less kicks, but moves.
Stretch marks: None and the belly button is flat as a pancake but NOT out.

Miss anything: Not worrying!  I know that as a Mom you will always worry, but it will be different once I can see her face and don't have to think that I am not noticing something I should be going on inside me.  Oye!

New Baby Items:  I "think" we're all set.  I'll share nursery pictures next week, but aside from baby shampoo I think we are good to go.

Fun story: Last week I took part in a Publix commercial.  Well, not so much "me" but the baby bump.  They needed a pregnant belly for a social media ad and I was the one for the job.  You won't see my face at ALL in the commercial, but any belly shot is all #BabyB!
Getting Ready: Last Friday my mother in law came over to help make freezer meals for once the baby is here.  I think I got a little over-ambitious!  We spent close to 3 hours and I made close to 20 different meals.  About half of them are packets that can be thrown into the crock pot and the others are cooked turkey meat dishes.  Kyle is picky and doesn't really like any casserole and I don't like leftover chicken, hence the high turkey concentration.
We made: 2 turkey lasagnas, 2 bags of turkey meatballs, turkey marinara sauce with veggies, crock pot buffalo chicken, crock pot taco chicken, crock pot ropa vieja, crock pot pesto chicken, and crock pot Italian chicken.  The freezer is full and ready to go!  I'd still like to make some protein bites for last minute snacks and 2 bags of turkey chili if I have freezer room.
And now we wait....when do you think #BabyB will make her debut?
Tips for those last final weeks Moms?
What I'm really in labor will I know?
Do you really need special baby laundry detergent?

Love and tick tock,
Carissa & Kyle

Past Updates:
31 weeks
27 weeks
20 weeks

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Smart Snacking with Silk

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Being pregnant means you are eating for two.  Right? Sort of.  I'm eating for myself and for a tiny little bean..not an entirely different full-sized human.  Sure I've had my fair share of "treats" during pregnancy, but I've really been trying to focus on foods that provide valuable nutrients to my body and our growing #BabyB.  Who is now the size of a honeydew melon if you were wondering!
Somedays I'm not so hungry and many foods don't taste great or sound appealing at all.  Other days I'm ravenous to the point where I'm actually fed up with having to eat again...and again...and again....

The key I've found is to find snacks that have a good balance of carbohydrates which I'm craving and protein to keep me fuller longer. Here are some of my go-to snacks, which you could easily incorporate into your diet whether you are pregnant or not:
  • Cereal with 1-cup Silk soy milk 
  • Rice cake with peanut butter and fresh berries
  • Pretzel chips and hummus
  • Smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit and Silk soy milk
  • Shelf stable Horizon organic chocolate milk and 3 dates
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal with fresh berries
  • Snack bar with less than 200 calories, made from whole foods (aka you understand all of the ingredients)
 One of the reasons I've been using Silk soy milk is not only because it tastes great, but because it's a good source of protein providing 8-grams of plant protein per serving.  It's also low in saturated fat.
I personally am not opposed to milk, however for my I prefer the taste of Silk over regular milk. Kyle uses both Silk and the Horizon Organic chocolate milks for post-workout recovery.  Also since I don't love all dairy foods it's hard to get enough calcium for me and #BabyB, so the boost in calcium from the Silk is much needed.

As temperatures warm up, smoothies can be a great breakfast or a mid-day snack to keep you focused and full of fruits, veggies, and plant-protein.

Here's the ingredient mix for the triple berry smoothie recipe that we've been using this week:
  • 1 cup Silk Vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
  • 1 handful organic spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 dashes ground turmeric (to fight inflammation)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
Thank you to Silk for helping my nutrition bloom!  If you'd like to try adding the plant protein power of Silk into you diet you can get a coupon from the Silk website.

What's your favorite mid-day or late night snack?
Are you a smoothie fan? What's your mix of the week?

Love and eda"mommy", 
Carissa & Kyle
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Loews Don CeSar Baby Moon

Have "BabyMoons" always been a thing?

I don't think so.  Like gender reveals and baby showers sponsored in part by Pinterest, I think these are part of a new regime in celebratory traditions.  However you don't need to twist my arm to get me to commit to an extra few days of vacation, so I gladly booked a sunny BabyMoon to celebrate the last few solo weeks before #BabyB's arrival.
Kyle and I wanted to do something relaxing that was relatively close to home in case we needed to rush back, so we chose the Loews Don CeSar resort on St. Petersburg Beach.  The location and the weather were absolutely perfect and we've both commented that it was one of the best beach vacations we've had.  Absolutely ZERO storms or clouds and not blazing hot temperatures.  The resort was busy, but we arrived Thursday so we had one and a half less crowded days.
I spent a considerable amount of time researching the rooms before I booked a "Luxury Queen with Balcony" room.  There were no luxury kings available, but Kyle loves having a balcony so I thought it was worth the trade off to have a smaller bed, but a partial beach view balcony.  Upon check in we saw that our "partial" view meant that I had to hang over the balcony, which overlooked the parking lot to see the beach.  The queen room was also VERY small.  Like I can touch the bed and both walls at the same time small.  The Don CeSar is a very old, historic hotel so I expected small, but this was intense.  I called the front desk and inquired about a room with a little less "partial" in the view, but there were none.  Instead we opted to move to a king room without a balcony for more room.  So much for all my research.  If you opt to go I would call the hotel before making your reservation to insure you get the room you want.  It was no big deal to me.  I just felt bad for taking Kyle's balcony away...and then en route to the new room I accidentally took the "Team Members Only" elevator.  It was very creepy and small and the concierge then told us it was used for hospital gurneys after WWII.  My bad.
The best part of the hotel was the proximity to the beach. The absolutely gorgeous beach.  IMHO the west coast beaches of Florida are much better than the East Coast.  The water is clearer and there are less rip currents.  We did notice that the water was flat and calm until about 1pm and then it got a little choppier.  During our time in the water we had 8...EIGHT...pretty large size sting rays swim by at one time in about 2 feet of water.  Talk about staying alert!
For our beach laziness we rented a luxury day bed with cabana each day.  It was fabulous.  They fill up pretty fast, so we would go down and reserve it first thing and then workout and return to the beach closer to noon.  Oh yeah, Team Bealert doesn't wake up early on vacation.  Sorry early birds.

The day bed was a perfect way to comfortably relax, not get too sandy, and enjoy shade.  We relaxed, read magazines, listened to Jason Aldean Pandora, and enjoyed beachside food and drink service.
We had lunch out there both days and the food was fresh, relatively healthy, and tasty.   Just watch out for the seagulls.
Kudos also to the Don CeSar for having plenty of places to get a cup of water.  Being pregnant and outside I had to make sure to hydrate a lot, which I did...then I had to waddle up to the pool to use the bathroom.  But do what you gotta do...

In terms of food the Don CeSar had a rather limited selection on-site compared to other luxury resorts we've stayed out.  (Wow did that sentence sound snobby!). There's the fancy seafood restaurant Maritana on property, Sea Porch for more casual dining, and Uncle Andy's ice cream for treats and coffee in the am.  They could really use a quick service place to get sandwiches or fresh snacks.  We ate at every restaurant and overall they were expensive and didn't blow me away on taste.  The service was great however.

Our best meal was at Maritana and they had very creative plating and menu offerings.
I feel like I complained a lot in this post, but I was really trying to keep it real in case you wanted to visit the Don CeSar.  Honestly Kyle and I both said it was one of the best trips we've had thanks in part to the great location, beach, and wonderful service.  The hotel itself is beautiful and has a spectacular history.  I mean what's not to love about a pink castle on the sand?
We left our BabyMoon feeling super relaxed...and then we remembered that a baby was coming and life was about to change forever....I just wonder when?
Did you go on a BabyMoon?
Do you prefer Florida's West Coast or East Coast beaches?

Love and fancy Spanish names,
Carissa & Kyle

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 Expedition Everest Challenge

I am not a fan of things ending.  Especially not things that I am fond of.  Expedition Everest Challenge...I am sad to see you go.  After 8 years of Yeti's and late night parties we closed the door on the most unique RunDisney challenge.
I, along with 37 runners, were in attendance at every single challenge.  The year it rained, the year it was a severe Thunderstorm, the years it was in September, the years it was in May, the years when we had a silent obstacle as to not disturb a hippo baby that was just born.  Oh the memories.
The Tampa Bay Boys who I loved cheering on every single year! 
It's particularly bittersweet for me, because this was the only race my sweet Kyle would run.  He liked to run it with his sister and I always promised him a trip to Animal Kingdom and brunch at Boma the next morning. At least now Kyle will be in attendance at the kids races to cheer #BabyB.
Interviewing Kyle pre-race 2014
For those of you who don't know Expedition Everest is a night time race challenge set at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  The runners tackle a roughly 3 mile run with 3 obstacles on the course and then they get a set of clues and race to finish a scavenger hunt in Animal Kingdom.  I heard from many runners that this year's clues were the toughest ever and volunteers made sure that you actually had the right answers before finishing the race. This year the event was also reduced to just the race and a small expo/packet pickup at Animal Kingdom.
Being 8 months pregnant, I took it a little easier than normal and took some breaks in the woods between announcements.  What do you think of my campsite?
Another thing I loved about this race was that the fastest runners didn't always win.  Sure you had to finish the race portion swiftly, however a lot of times the placement came down to getting the clues right and quickly.  I had fun seeing the same names and teams fight it out to win year after year.  Shout out to my pals Christy and Ben who after placing 4th last year took home 2nd in the co-ed division.
I am sad to bid farewell to Gary Ericcson and the legend of the Expedition Everest Challenge.  Someday you will just be a tale passed down to generations of RunDisney fans. But I can say I lived it...all 8 glorious years!
Riley, John, and I...your "happy" announcers!
I also want to take a moment to wish all those heading to DisneyLand for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend the best of luck.  It makes me so very sad to say that I won't be there.  For the first time in 11 years, I am missing a RunDisney race.  After talks with my doctor and Kyle, we decided that flying 5 hours at 36 weeks wasn't the best I will be in Orlando stalking #TinkerBellHalf on social media.  But don't worry...I can't wait to get back in the action for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend in September.

What's your favorite RunDisney event - past or present?
If you could dream up a new race what would it be and when?

Love and not yeti to go,
Carissa & Kyle

Catch up on RunDisney posts: