Make the best of a new week, a new slate.
Stay Positive. Stay healthy. Stay Kind.
-Kate and the Kids
Month: March 2021
Chia pets have been around since 1977, selling about 500,000 plants per year. Going even further back to circa 3500 BC chia seeds have been consumed as a nutrient-packed superfood. Chia seeds started to regain popularity as a dietary supplement in 2012, and now it seems that all of our nutrition leaders have come down with chia fever.
Chia seeds come from the salvia plant. They are gluten and grain free, fitting into most nutrition plans (keto, paleo, vegan/vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic and more!) Just two tablespoons of these little guys have more potassium than a banana, two times the antioxidants than blueberries, almost half of your recommended daily fiber, double the omega 3 than salmon, ⅓ of the daily recommended magnesium, five times more calcium than milk, zinc, protein and B-vitamins! They are said to aid in burning fat, increasing energy, maintaining heart health, stabilizing blood sugar, cleansing the colon, reducing inflammation and for containing dental benefits. No wonder they are gaining popularity like crazy!
Chia seeds absorb water and grow dramatically in size. For that reason, they are enjoyed in smoothies because they tend to expand in the stomach, making you feel fuller. They are also often mixed with water and left overnight to absorb. In the morning they are a gel texture that can be used in many recipes.
To make the gel, just mix 1 part chia seeds to 3 parts water. This ratio can be used as an egg substitute in baking, can be mixed into oatmeal or yogurt, or can be used to thicken soups and beverages.
Chia seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition, and can be a great addition to your diet. I always prefer to get my nutrients from natural food sources instead of a vitamin supplement, and chia seeds are a great resource for meeting those goals without a large volume of food.
I’ll be adding my chia seed to the top of a protein smoothie bowl for lunch. How do you enjoy your chia? Let me know in the comments!
Stay healthy. Stay Kind.
(And sing me a little ‘chi-chi-chi-chia’ before you go!)
3-Ingredient Chia Pudding
Prep Time 5 mins
Servings: 1 serving
2 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk or milk of choice
1 teaspoon honey or other sweetener, optional
Strawberries or other fruits for topping
Pour ingredients into a jar and mix well. Let settle for 2-3 minutes then mix again very well until you see no clumping.
Cover the jar and store in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Top with your favorite fruit, nut butters, granola or your favorite mix-ins and enjoy cold!
Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Chicken Casserole
1 hr 10 mins
1 hr 15 mins
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 10-ounce bags frozen cauliflower rice (or 1 head of cauliflower, riced and cooked)
1 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli cuts
2 large eggs, whisked
3 cups, shredded mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a large 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Set aside.
Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to make them thinner, lightly coat them in olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Liberally season with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes.
While the chicken is baking, heat the bags of frozen cauliflower rice and broccoli according to package instructions. Discard any excess water or moisture.
Remove chicken from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully chop baked chicken into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl, add cooked cauliflower rice, broccoli, chicken, eggs, mozzarella cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and butter. Toss together until fully combined.
Transfer casserole mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining Italian blend cheese.
Bake for 50 minutes, until the cheese on top has fully melted and started to brown slightly. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serving: 1/8th of casserole | Calories: 375cal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Potassium: 274mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 750IU | Vitamin C: 85.8mg | Calcium: 260mg | Iron: 1.4mg
About a week ago I started to come out of a deep depression. As I felt it lift, I started to put some serious thought into the things that weigh on my mind. What brings me down? What contributes to my depression? What can I change? I soon realized I needed to refer to my locus of control.
Your locus of control is a representation of problems that are internal or external. Internally, I have put off working out and gained five pounds. This is something that I control and make active decisions about daily. Externally, there have been really cold days and ice on the ground. I can’t do outside cardio with the kids in the stroller on days like this. The weather is outside of my control.
Seems easy enough, right? Well, depression is a crazy thing. It can be like a carnival funhouse mirror for your thoughts, distorting them and blurring the entire locus. On my bad days, I see a five pound gain and no longer logically think about internal initiative or external weather. Instead, I change the entire dialogue to blame the external sources. I find myself using statements like “Why do these things happen to me?” or “What’s the point of trying?” I can blame bad genes for my metabolism, my family for keeping me super busy or just plain old bad luck.
Today I took off my depression sunglasses and put on my clarity spectacles. Looking at my locus I see that when I am low I frequently view things as happening TO me. Now that I’m feeling good, I’m trying to sort out my locus.
Looking at the week ahead, I see that I have plans four out of the next five days. I’m a little overwhelmed and wondering where I’m going to make time to get active and kick those five pounds back to the curb. I can not change that my daughter needs vaccines. I need to get her to that appointment. I can not change that my husband needs to work outside of the home, and most day time tasks fall on me. I can manage my time differently- especially my beloved afternoon nap. (Trust me, it’s no longer self care. It’s an awful addiction that ruins my daytime productivity and my night time sleep schedule.) I can make choices about the food I put into my body.
I spend a ton of time thinking about accountability- and the locus of control is closely related to it. Ultimately there are things that I can not control, but success is finding ways around them. This week I am going to focus on what I am making happen, instead of what is happening to me.
How can you reframe your problems this week? Let me know in the comments!
Stay positive. Stay focused. Stay accountable.
Keto Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats
1 lb ground chicken or protein of your choice
3 large zucchinis (or 4 small)
2 cups marinara sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded parmesan
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and chop the ground meat until no longer pink. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Mix in 2 cups of tomato sauce with the chicken and turn the heat to a simmer.
While the chicken and sauce are simmering, de-stem and cut your zucchinis in half length wise. Use a spoon or melon baller to carve out the guts.
Mix in 2 cups of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup of your parmesan to the chicken and sauce mixture; stir until melted.
Spoon the mixture onto your zucchini boats, and then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan over top.
Bake uncovered in the center rack for 25 minutes, and then switch your oven to broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
Enjoy your holiday!
Stay Safe. Stay Festive. Stay a sober driver!
Nursemaid’s elbow, also known as a pulled elbow or radial head subluxation, is an injury my family is all too familiar with. Before Jacen got his diagnosis of Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, he had dislocated his elbow over 80 times between age 2 and 4. Yes, over 80 times.
What is a nursemaid’s elbow?
Nursemaid’s elbow means the elbow has slipped out of its normal place at the joint, also called dislocation or subluxation. This happens in toddlers because the ligaments that hold the elbow in place are still very flexible and weak. Ligaments are much stronger by the time a child turns 5, which is usually when a child will stop dislocating their elbow.
What causes a nursemaid’s elbow?
For most patients, a nursemaid’s elbow is considered a mild and common injury. It typically occurs in toddlers before the bones in the elbow are completely formed. The most common cause of a pulled elbow is playing the “swinging game” where adults hold a child’s hand and swing the child in circles. Basically any twist or pull can cause the injury, so even children who avoid swinging by the arms may pull their elbow out while being caught during a fall, throwing themselves to the ground during a tantrum, playing on the monkey bars or while being encouraged to walk quickly by holding their hand and lightly pulling them along. In Jacen’s case, his elbow was so loose that it would come out when he tried to pull a drawer open, pull himself out of a bucket-style car seat, climbing a ladder to use a slide, or trying to pull his arm through a jacket sleeve.
How is pulled elbow treated?
Most providers can diagnose a pulled elbow simply from observing a child. A child with a true dislocation will not use or move their arm. It’s possible that the child does not feel any pain at all, but only has mobility symptoms. The provider will then palpate the elbow (feel the elbow with their hands) to confirm the joint is out of place.
An X-ray is typically not necessary to diagnose a pulled elbow, but is sometimes ordered to rule out minor fractures in addition to the pull. For frequent offenders, like Jacen, doctors may avoid an x-ray at each dislocation to avoid excessive exposure to radiation. Typically imaging is only used AFTER the provider has attempted to reduce the subluxation, but the child still shows signs of injury.
The provider will reduce the injury by cradling the elbow in one hand, then using their other hand to move the child’s forearm up into a flex, then back down to an extended straight arm. The best analogy I can give is when a drawer comes “off the track” in your dresser, and you have to open and close the drawer multiple times, slightly twisting and readjusting with each new open motion.
The actual reduction may be temporarily painful as the joint scrapes back into place, sometimes touching painful nerves or ligaments on its way back in. When the elbow is back in place, the relief is basically immediate. The pain eases, and the child will immediately be able to use it again.
Your child will be observed to make sure using their arm does not continue to cause problems or pain. Most cases do not require any ice, medication, wraps, brace or cast.
What does a pulled elbow feel like for my child?
Some children do not feel pain while the joint is “out,” but only show signs of injury by not using the arm.
The procedure of reduction is temporarily painful and distressing, but it only lasts a short moment and is over when the radial bone pops back into place. As stated above, relief is almost instant.
How do I prevent a pulled elbow?
For most children, avoiding swinging a child by their arms is enough to prevent pulling an elbow. In other kids, it might not be possible to prevent. Sometimes it is just genetics; the shape of the elbow, and the rate of growth/strength of the ligaments in the arm. For kids like Jacen who have chronic dislocations, braces or casts may be used as a preventative measure. By keeping the arm immobilized, the ligaments have a chance to grow bigger and stronger without constantly being beat down by the bones in the joint rubbing against them.
A few of Jacen’s doctors showed me how to reduce his elbow myself, but it just wasn’t something I was ever comfortable with. Sometimes the joint went back on its own. The loose ligaments let the joint move both ways, both out of place and back into place. If it did not go back on its own we sought medical treatment. It is not typically necessary to head into the Emergency Room. Pediatricians, orthopedic doctors and most urgent care providers are able to help in the office. We ended up in the ER when the dislocation happened during hours the pediatrician was closed, and the times he did not get relief and required a follow up x-ray.
After two years of almost constant dislocations, Tufts Medical Center suggested we cast his elbow for 4 weeks to let the ligament rest and grow. In November of 2013 Jacen picked out an awesome red cast, which he got to show off at our wedding. (Note the adorable picture of Jacen in a suit, cast, and captain hat!) He had no pain or issues while wearing the cast, but we were hesitant to accept this as a miracle cure. We didn’t want to get our hopes up.
Luckily the immobilizer worked. After having the cast removed he never had a dislocation again. I truly believe this was just a lot of luck on our part. He happened to have a growth spurt while wearing the cast, and I truly believe they happened to create the perfect conditions for healing.
I bet it isn’t surprising to hear, but I was over-the-moon thrilled to put this chapter behind us. I hadn’t even thought about his elbows for years! Well, a few weeks ago I got a call from my sister- my niece wasn’t using her arm. She had pulled her elbow while being taken out of her high chair. Luckily for my beautiful Nora, her elbow went back into place on its own before her parents could even get her to the doctor. It just goes to show you that this condition is not specific to Ehlers-Danlos patients, but to any child.
Swinging your kid is a timeless activity, especially popular with older generations. I beg you to stop, and make sure your friends and family know to stop. Instead, hold children under their armpits or hug them to your body. If you suspect your child your child has pulled their elbow out of place, monitor their activity for 10-15 minutes paying attention to how they use their arm. If the arm is hanging, limp by their side, it’s time to seek medical intervention. If they begin using their arm again the joint has likely fixed itself on its own. When in doubt, ask the child to put the good arm behind their back and catch a light ball or small toy. If the arm in question instinctively moves to catch or shield the toy their elbow is likely fine. If the toy is not deflected, or they take the arm from behind their back, it’s time to head into the doctor.
Stay educated. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
Kate and the Kids
Cauliflower Fried Rice
1 (10-15oz) bag frozen cauliflower rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow or white onion (diced)
2 medium carrots (diced)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Cook the frozen cauliflower rice according to the package directions; open the bag and set it aside to allow the steam to dissipate. Drain excess water in a strainer, then use a dry paper towel to pat out the last of the remaining moisture.
In a large pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat. Add the diced onions and carrots and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
When your onions and carrots are close to being done, add the minced garlic and allow it to cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the frozen peas and pre-cooked cauliflower rice and cook for an additional few minutes or until the peas are warmed through.
Make a hole in the middle of your mixture so that you can see the bottom of the pan. Crack your eggs and cook them until scrambled, then stir to combine with everything else.
Stir in the sesame oil and soy sauce. I think about 2 tbsps is perfect, but start with less and do a taste test if you’re salt sensitive.
Serve warm with toasted sesame seeds and store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Great with added protein- like pork, chicken or shrimp!
For a ‘family blog’ I spend an awful lot of time talking about myself. When we had the idea for starting this platform, the kids had a ton of ideas they wanted to share. As time went on, they realized that sharing their anxieties, fears, behavioral issues and personal thoughts could bring on unwanted attention. Basically, kids suck and if anyone at school found personal thoughts from the kids online, they would use the information to bully them. I hate that this is the world that we live in, but I have to agree with them.
We always remind the kids that once something is posted to the internet, it’s never 100% gone. During the 2019-2020 school year we experienced this first hand after an emotional Tik Tok was posted, then deleted. I understand why, I really do. Pre-teens have it tough, and the internet *seems* like the perfect place to vent true feelings without facing a person in real life. Well, about five minutes after hitting ‘post’ the regret sunk in, and we took down the video. Too late. The recipient of the video already had screenshots. They took them to their own parents, who then took them to the school, who then (in a waaaaaaaaay irrational response) took the images to the police. My kid was spoken to by an officer, counselor, teacher, and parents. It turned into a big to-do over one quick, bad decision.
The bright side of that incident seems to be that my kids really took the lesson to heart. They are very careful now.. Which translates back to their desire to maintain some anonymity on our blog. It’s just another thing in life that works out better in your head than it does in physical execution. The desire to participate is definitely there, so I hope we can work out some balance, and do this thing as a family!
We are each fighting our own wellness battles, both physically and emotionally. There’s a lot on the plate, times six plates.. maybe even add in the three dog dishes and some pots and pans. Maybe, just maybe THEN we could get all of these problems plated appropriately.
Looking forward to sharing more from the family, and hoping to hear from your family in the comments. What on your plate this week?
Kate and the Kids
I moved out of my parents’ house when I was nineteen, and out of poverty I got into the habit of raiding my mother’s pantry every time I went over for a visit. My mom is far from those extreme couponers with storage units packed full of free cans of Spam, but she can appreciate a good sale. Back in the day, I would “shop” her over-stock, always leaving with a purse full of goodies. Out of habit, I still check that pantry every now and again, and it’s dramatically different than my own.
You see, my mom entered the diet stage of her life (late teens) in the 80’s. At that time the government had endorsed a fat free diet, calling for a reduction in fatty meats due to a nationwide rise in cholesterol. My mom followed suit, trading butter for margarine, eggs for toast, and seeking out fat free dairy products. To this day, my mother has a hard time giving up her low fat lifestyle. I personally believe this is because the diet was endorsed during her nutrition formative years, and has been burned into her brain. Her choices are made out of habit and not due to any particular success with a low fat diet. That being said, her pantry content is heavy on the low fat granola bars, crackers and cereal. (A stark difference to my pork rinds, nuts and coconut oil.)
After the government endorsement the years progressed and we did not see the health benefits that low fat had promised. Obesity and diabetes numbers skyrocketed. At first we didn’t want to accept the truth, holding on to the thought that eating fat would increase body fat. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It has been proven that dietary fat is not a primary determinant of body fat, and lack of healthy fats are detrimental to metabolism.
Almost every function in your body requires fat. Dietary fats function as the building blocks of the body. On a cellular level they feed mitochondria (the powerhouse of a cell), strengthen membranes and help healthy gene expression. They carry essential vitamins (A, D, E and K) and aid in growth, development, healing, production of nails and hair, and are required for brain health. They are needed to lubricate the digestive system, protect vital organs, and increase heart health. Fats create healthier hormones, which in turn can balance mood, fertility and food cravings. They have been shown to decrease chances of miscarraige, learning and vision problems, and impaired kidney function. There are a ton of current studies showing improvement of osteoporosis, age – related memory loss, cognitive decline, macular degeneration, and multiple sclerosis. No wonder so many people are going Keto!
When fat is removed from your diet, it’s usually replaced with processed carbohydrates. Sugar and starch is used to compensate for the lack of taste and texture in fat free food. This is why the country saw a rise in type two diabetes during the fat free craze. (And almost no change in bad cholesterol as had been promised.) In turn, insulin resistance can stimulate hunger and cause fat storage- specifically holding on to belly fat.
Over the years I tried just about every diet out there. I spent a lot of time on Weight Watchers, which showed temporary progress in 2009 when I lost 50 pounds (only to end up regaining 103 pounds,) The most appealing aspect for WW was the theory that nothing is “off limits” as long as it fit into my daily point allowance. I found myself filling up on 100 calorie packs of cookies because they were less points than a handful of nuts or a serving of meat. This is why my regain was NOT surprising to my nutritionist years later. She explained that my initial loss was my body responding to a calorie deficit, but as my metabolism adjusted to my new caloric quantity I started to regain due to caloric quality. At some point the carbs in my “lite” bread and low calorie baked goods started to stick. From then on weight loss was super frustrating again. I just couldn’t lose the weight, partially due to still eating processed low fat/fat free items instead of whole foods.
I shudder to remember the years I spent eating “zero calorie spray butter” and margarine to avoid fat. I required a TON of it to even get a similar taste to real butter, and often found myself adding cheese and salt when I was still disappointed in the taste. Both are basically just a spoonful of chemicals, whereas butter is naturally occurring from milk that is over churned. There is zero nutritional value in those items. They do not taste like, cook like or nourish like natural oils or butter. This also makes them less satisfying, increasing the chances you’ll need to add empty carbs like sugar, flour, or thickeners and often results in further consumption/snacking while seeking out something to “hit the spot.”
Fat has a bad reputation. As I said before, dietary fat is not a major contributor to body fat (unlike carbohydrates.) The trick is to eat natural fat that comes from seeds, nuts and protein. Generally if it comes from nature it’s a good fat, and if it’s processed you should avoid the product. Food labels can be deceiving, so your best bet is always to compare the nutrition facts. Remember that nothing in nutrition is ever ‘law,’ and there are small exceptions to everything. Eat whole foods like produce, meat and legumes. Use common sense. When in doubt consult a reliable information source, like your primary care provider or a nutritionist.
Stay healthy. Stay kind.
Kate and the Kids
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a licensed nutritionist- but I have done a lot of research for this post. I speak only from my own experiences and success. My opinion is mine alone, not a representation of any specific medical community.
I’ve been fighting a very deep, very intense battle with my mental health. I can easily admit that my depression is the absolute worst that it has been in my whole life. It has stolen so many things from me, including my blog. When I’m low I have no energy to jump on the computer, no creativity to come up with something to write, and no confidence to bare my soul to strangers.
I’m trying to help myself out of the darkness again, for the nine millionth time. I’m back on a schedule/routine to make sure I get the important tasks done, a healthy diet (to hopefully kick those 15 pounds that I just can’t seem to shake) and starting to see the light of spring at the end of the super dark, cold, winter tunnel.
My home gets overwhelmingly cluttered in the winter. With six people in the home and three dogs it seems like there is always something in my way.. Especially since we had to add an office area for the kids’ remote learning and a bowflex & stationary bike in lieu of my gym and Jacen’s Ehler’s-Danlos Synrome Physical Therapy.
The house clutter has my anxiety running on high. The ‘leaving the house’ clutter of layering up in the cold months sets off my sensory issues. The real issue is the clutter of my mind.
I’ve accumulated a few more mental health diagnoses since our last chat. They account for a good portion of the clutter, but not in the way you think. As strange as it is to say, especially for someone who is so supportive in the mentally ill community, I have a very difficult time accepting medical diagnoses. It always feels like they are a permanent label of who I am, and I worry the stigma they carry will affect the way people interact with me. I spend way too much time trying to hide what’s going on in my brain. As I’m fixated on fighting my labels or hiding my symptoms, the other things are ignored and problems start replicating like little brain bunnies. All of a sudden I realize I’ve forgotten appointments, tasks, or even just my own basic preferences. Last weekend I was zoned out as a passenger in a car. All of a sudden Mike is asking me how I want my coffee. I didn’t even realize we had pulled off the road and into the drive thru line. Even stranger, I couldn’t remember my own coffee order. (I drink several cups of coffee per day, so I felt REAL dumb.) I just spit out some jumble of words, then choked down one bitter AF coffee. I need a mental clean out.
I’m hoping coming back to my blog will help clear the clutter. I just need to get these things out of my brain, and if they’re written here I can let them go.
Today is my second good day in a row. (Prior to that, good days have been scarce since October.) I want to make the best of the positive time I have. Yesterday was a planning and organization day, today is a ‘purge the clutter’ day. I can’t do the whole house in one day, quit wearing layers in the dead of winter or permanently clear my mind of thoughts that don’t “spark joy,” but I’m dead set on heading in that direction.
Glad to have you along for the ride,
Make the best of a new week, a new slate.
Stay Positive. Stay healthy. Stay Kind.
-Kate and the Kids