Full Belly Sisters: April 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Grilled Cheese w Avocado, Salsa, & Onions #grilledcheesemonth

I got a really fun Christmas gift from my brother- and sister-in-law: a three-month subscription to Hatchery. It's a service that delivers a selection of small-batch artisan food products to you each month. You never know exactly what you'll get so it's an impetus to experiment with new ingredients!

One of the items I received was a small jar of salsa from La Fundidora. I decided to use it on a grilled cheese sandwich (hey, it's still National Grilled Cheese Month). Those of you who know my Green Grilled Cheese Sandwich—with Avocado, Spinach, and Smoked Gouda—know I love a good grilled cheese. And, let me tell you, this new one is good. 

This sandwich may not be fancy, but it's delicious. And it's easy which, let's be honest, makes it more delicious!


  • 2 slices sprouted grain or whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices (2 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • a few paper-thin slices of red onion
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp of salsa
  • about 2 tsp butter

Spread the salsa on each slice of bread (on what will be the inside of the sandwich). On top of one slice, layer a slice of cheese, then avocado, then the onion, then the other slice of cheese. Top with bread. I like to push down on the top of the sandwich and squish the avocado a bit. 

Spread 1 teaspoon of the butter on the top of the sandwich. Melt the other teaspoon of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add sandwich, unbuttered-side down. Cover and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cover; cook until other side is golden and cheese is melted.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Berry Nutty Lactation Granola

There's a big event happening in a few days in New York City. It's actually the biggest. At least, that's what it's called: Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower. And the Full Belly Sisters will be there! In spirit, at any rate. Premier Pediatrics asked us to provide giveaways for their table at the event. So, make sure to stop by and get your free sample of my Berry Nutty Lactation Granola!

Not able to come to the event? No problem! I'm sharing the recipe here, as well. This is a variation on my famous (among my group of friends) lactation granola; my one friend loves it so much she thinks I should sell it and made me promise not to share the recipe. So, this isn't exactly it...but this is a very nice version.

It features a number of ingredients believed to support a healthy milk supply, including oats, Brewer's yeast, and flax. It's also loaded with other ingredients that are especially helpful during the days and weeks postpartum: iron, crucial after the blood loss of childbirth; potassium to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in your body; and fiber to help combat constipation. This granola also provides a wonderful balance of carbs and proteins—to give you long-lasting energy during those exhausting days with a newborn. 

This granola is not just nutrient-dense but calorie-dense. This is vital when you're breastfeeding because you generally need to eat about 300-500 more calories per day than your pre-pregnancy diet. Snacking on this granola—on its own, on top of yogurt, or in a bowl with milk—is a simple and delicious way to ensure that you're consuming enough to meet your body's needs.

If you are concerned about your milk supply, please contact your local La Leche League leader or a board-certified lactation consultant. If you're in the NYC area, contact my sister—who is an experienced IBCLC and was a huge help to me when my son was born!—at fullbellysisters@gmail.com.

yields about 11 cups
  • 6 c Rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats)
  • 1 1/2 c raw, sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 c raw walnut pieces
  • 5 Tbsp Flaxseed meal
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp Brewer's yeast
  • 1 1/3 c Honey
  • 2/3 c Coconut Oil
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c Raisins
  • 1/2 c Dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c Dried blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, walnuts, flax, and Brewer's yeast. In a small pot over medium heat, combine the honey and coconut oil, until thin and the coconut oil is completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour over the oat and nut mixture and stir very well, ensuring that everything is evenly coated. Spread on two parchment-covered cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring about halfway through. As soon as the sheets are removed from the oven, stir in the raisins, cranberries, and blueberries. Cool completely.

If you like "clusters," spread the granola out in the pan and press down with a large spoon before cooling. My husband and son like to eat it this way, since neither of them likes milk or yogurt—for them, granola is finger food!

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer. 

Or just come by the Biggest Baby Shower and pick up your free sample!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Roasted Butterflied Chicken w. Onions & Carrots

I was over at my in-laws' place one time and we somehow got on the topic of best smells. Bacon, freshly-mowed grass, frying onions, baking bread, the beach—all the usual suspects were mentioned. Then my father-in-law named his favorite smell: "Roasting chicken." We all kind of laughed but you know what? He's right! Roasting chicken smells ridiculously good. And it tastes even better.

Roasted chicken is great in other ways, too. It's the perfect family-friendly meal: affordable, simple, crowd-pleasing. And, when you butterfly (a.k.a. spatchcock) your chicken before roasting it, then it's also a pretty darn quick meal.

You can butterfly the chicken by yourself, if you have a decent pair of kitchen shears. Martha Stewart has some nice step-by-step pictures. I usually just ask my butcher to do it; just make sure you keep the backbone to use for making stock later.

This simple recipe is adapted from Deliciously Organic; she, too, has some nice instructions on butterflying the chicken.

serves 4
  • 1 4-5 lb chicken, preferably free-range
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced diagonally about 3/4" thick
  • 2 large red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 Tbsp ghee (or butter or coconut oil), softened
  • 1 Tbsp ghee, melted
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence (or dried rosemary)
  • sea salt (I used this Garlic Medley Sea Salt that I love)
  • freshly-ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place rack in middle position. Place chicken in a large roasting pan; I line the pan with parchment paper to make for an easier clean-up. Mix softened ghee with dried herbs and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Using your fingers, spread this mixture all over the skin and under the skin of the breasts. 

Raw chicken: not so pretty. Just wanted to give you an idea of how
I spread the ghee all over and set up the veggies.

Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the melted ghee over the onions and carrots, tossing gently to ensure they are evenly coated. Place the vegetables around the chicken in the roasting pan. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper over everything.

Roast chicken for 30 minutes, then stir the carrots a bit and rotate the pan 180 degrees. Continue to roast about 25 more minutes. The chicken should be golden and crispy and a food thermometer should read 160°F (70°C) when inserted into the breast's thickest part. Remove the pan from the oven, tent the chicken with foil to keep it warm, and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Kids might balk at the idea of eating a bunch of onions but...these onions are wonderfully caramelized, incredibly sweet, and tender. If your kiddos try them, I bet they'll like them.

My son requested that we add peas to the meal. Of course, I said yes!

Any leftover chicken can be used in soups, sandwiches, salads. Gotta love versatile leftovers!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

High Fiber Chocolate Cereal Nests #BunnyTrail #Easter

I know, I know, you've seen these things all over Pinterest, all over Facebook. I have, too. They are omnipresent this time of year. But this was my and my son's first time actually making them; I thought you might be interested in my very-slightly-healthier take. So, bear with me.

I replaced the "chow mein" noodles you usually see in this recipe with some of Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal (basically TJ's version of Fiber One). We used good-quality Belgian milk chocolate and a bit of coconut oil. I mean, this ain't health food. It's not even real food, whole food, slow food—or any of the other healthful foods I usually share here. But this dessert is easy, not super junky, and ridiculously cute. Tasty, too!

yield: six nests
  • about 3 oz. good milk chocolate
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup High Fiber Cereal
  • about 1/2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 12-18 chocolate eggs

Melt chocolate and oil in a double boiler or the microwave. Stir until very smooth. Fold in the cereal until it is fully coated with the melted chocolate. Divide the mixture evenly into a six-cup silicon muffin pan (see note below if you don't have this pan). 

Using a spoon, push the mixture up on the sides so that the middle of the nest is a bit hollowed out. Place two or three chocolate eggs in each nest, pressing them gently into the melted chocolate so they stick. I used Cadbury Mini Eggs because they are pretty and perfectly speckled and delicious. Too delicious. I can't believe I even let them in my house, they're so delicious and tempting and AAARRRGGGHHH!

OK, let me compose myself. Ahem. Refrigerate the nests for at least 15 minutes, until the chocolate has hardened. Once the nests have set, you can push up the bottom of each muffin reservoir—this is why the silicon pan is handy—to carefully release the nests. Store the nests in an airtight container at room temperature.

NOTE: If you don't have a silicon muffin pan, you can just spoon the chocolate/cereal mixture onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper; shape them into mounds and press the center a bit so it can hold the eggs.

We had these as an early Easter treat when my son's buddy came over today to decorate eggs. 

The chocolate nests were a sweet and adorably messy way for the kids to celebrate together.

Definitely making another batch of chocolate nests for the kids at Easter Sunday dinner! And then I'm definitely cutting out sweets for a while...

Happy Easter, friends!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie

I've been ratcheting up my exercise lately, adding in a lot more strength training, trying to get stronger and leaner. I'm kickboxing a couple of times a week (in addition to the spinning and hiking I already do) and I can't tell you how good it feels to punch and kick that heavy bag—talk about getting out your aggressions!

However, I do feel my body craving more sustenance. And I find this creamy smoothie to be great for that: not only does it offer protein but also fiber, potassium, iron, calcium—even folate and vitamins C and K from the avocado. 

And, in case you're worried, you won't taste the avocado. You'll just get its wonderful creaminess and healthfulness.

But make no doubt about it, this smoothie is also loaded with calories, about 600. Now, that's great for those of you who are pregnant or breastfeeding and need extra calories; or those who need to support tough fitness regimens; or for kids who need to gain some weight. This is a delicious, nutrient- and calorie-dense real food. For those who are watching their weight, though, this should be viewed as a meal replacement—not a snack! Or you can do what I often do and split this smoothie into two servings; I drink half before my workout and half afterwards.

yield: 16 ounces

  • 1 cup milk or plantmilk
  • 1/2 Mexican or California avocado, like Hass (preferably frozen in chunks)
  • 1 1/2 T raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 T creamy almond butter
  • 1 to 1 1/2 T honey 
  • pinch of sea salt

Blend until smooth. It will be very rich and thick. See how my straw stands up in it? 

Who wants a sip?

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