observe_your_thoughts

Years ago, whenever life was going smoothly, I would find myself thinking, “How long is it going to be until something sh*tty happens and messes everything up?”

And then I would wait for that “something” to happen and actually watch for it.

Sure enough, something would inevitably happen and I’d have some new obstacle to overcome or puzzle to figure out or challenge to get through and then I’d think “See?  I knew something bad was going to happen!”

Do you know what that’s called?  A self fulfilling prophecy.  When you’ve got something on your brain that you’re actively trying to avoid and therefore thinking about all the time – you will very likely cause the thing you didn’t want to happen to actually happen!  Your thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions – for better or for worse.  It is very easy for negative thoughts (or even just thinking about what you DON’T want to happen) to lead to negative feelings which can quite naturally lead to negative actions that lead you straight to the place you were desperately hoping to avoid in the first place.

Well that sucks.  Why the heck would you do you that yourself?

Here’s a secret (except it’s not a secret because you already know this) – life is filled with ups and downs.  Shocking, I know.  There will be times in your life when you feel as high as a kite, and other times when you wonder how you can possibly go on.  This is life as a human being.  If there is one truth in this world, it’s that nothing is permanent except change.  Highs don’t last, but either do lows.

Call it The Law of Attraction or call it whatever you want – I call it common sense once you begin to see the way your thoughts can lead you directly to the place you’re trying not to go.

This is why I like to focus on what I DO want to happen, instead of what I DON’T want to happen.  I’ve stopped “waiting for the other shoe to drop” or waiting for something to happen that’s going to wreck a good thing I’ve got going.  Whenever I’m feeling good on a certain day or string of days or even weeks – I’ve finally stopped waiting and watching for the next thing that is surely going to go wrong and screw everything up.  When I see that thought pattern emerge or try to poke its way into my consciousness, I notice it and then shift my thinking to what I’m grateful for today.  

<insert a slow, deep inhale and exhale here>  

TODAY things are good.  TODAY I am happy.  

And if today hasn’t been a great day?  Instead of stewing on all that is wrong and how unfair life is, try to spend more time focusing on the things that are going right and less time on the things that aren’t.

Sound cheesy?  Well so be it.  Somebody pour me a glass of Cabernet to go with my cheese!

I’ll freely admit that I’m not perfect at this, it’s still a practice for me.  Negative and sad thoughts do still appear in my head and even sometimes stick around longer than I’d like.  But I’ve come to see that I’m feeling a lot lighter and happier for longer periods of time as I’ve gotten better at keeping the negative thinking mostly at bay.  It takes time and practice, but this is one ways yoga has helped me.  (I’m telling you, yoga is cheap therapy!)

It’s a lot easier for me these days to watch my thoughts as they happen than it has been in the past.  (Scroll back up and read that quote!)  I’m quicker now to notice negative thought patterns and stop them before they spiral out of control.  As I’ve practiced yoga and the poses have become more familiar and comfortable, it’s gotten easier to observe what thoughts creep up when I’m on the mat – and then it’s easier to do the same thing off the mat, in my every day life.

I’ll also say that of course I know yoga isn’t for everyone, and I’m not trying to convince you to become a yogi.  (DO IT!)  (Just kidding.)  (Dooooo iiiiiitttttt!  YOOOGGGGAAAAA!)

There are many paths to the same place.  A regular meditation practice can do to the same thing.  Whether it’s a moving meditation (like a walk, run, hike or bike ride without head phones stuck in your ears) or even just sitting on cushion or chair in silence doing nothing.  See how long you can sit there and think about NOTHING.  Even just 5 minutes.  (Set the timer.)

Thoughts will eventually appear.  Notice them (it might take a while before you even notice that you’re thinking again) and when you do notice that you’re thinking, let those thoughts go (without judgment or thinking “I suck at meditating!”) and then go back to thinking about nothing.  With time and practice, you’ll be go longer without thinking, and you’ll also get better at noticing your thoughts and more importantly, the quality of those thoughts and especially the types of thoughts that aren’t doing you any favors.

As you get better at noticing negative thoughts, you’ll get better at turning your thoughts around, re-framing them into positive ones which will be more likely to lead to positive feelings –> positive, life-affirming actions and choices.

You might notice that negative/scary/anxious thoughts happens most frequently when you’re bored or otherwise disinterested in the present moment.  (Stuck in traffic?  Doing the dishes?  Some other boring task?)  When I see this happening in my own life, that’s when I try to fully engage in the present moment by letting my senses come alive – noticing all the little things that had gone unnoticed until now.  Feeling ground under my feet, the air on my skin, whatever I can see or smell or hear right now.

Easy peasy, right?  Not really.  It takes practice and it takes time.  I want to say “What have you got to lose?” but instead I’ll say “Think about all you have to gain!”


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


The Birthful Podcast: My HBA2C Story

July 16th, 2015 | Posted by Alison Spath in Life - (Comments Off on The Birthful Podcast: My HBA2C Story)

This post has very little to do with food (unless you count a castor oil vanilla milkshake) but has at least a little something to do with health and a lot to do with kids, so I’m sharing it!

While I’ve referred to my son Kaz’s birth a number of times here in the past, I recently had an opportunity to share his birth story (a planned home birth after two cesareans) on The Birthful Podcast as a part of Adriana Lozada’s “Birth Stories for the Summer” series.

PodcastSummerStoriesMainAlison

For all you new mamas and mamas-to-be, I highly recommend The Birthful Podcast!  Take a peek through the archives to check out all the experts Adriana has already had on the show – lots of awesome episodes to listen to!  As a new-ish birth professional (and self-proclaimed birth junkie) I really enjoy this show and listen regularly.  It’s a great resource for new and expecting mothers as well as anyone interested in pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and anything/everything concerning new motherhood.

And for you VBAC hopefuls out there as well as anyone considering or planning a home birth – this is for you!


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Dairy Free Gluten Free Quiche*

June 15th, 2015 | Posted by Alison Spath in Lunch - (2 Comments)

*Except it’s not a Quiche, it’s a Frittata.

I planned to make a quiche for a small gathering over the weekend.  I realized later I needed to make a dairy free dish, so I googled, “Dairy Free Quiche Recipe”, and that’s when I remembered that quiche is not really quiche without milk of some sort.  I suppose you could add some non-dairy milk, but what I really was going to make was a frittata.

Spell check keeps trying to tell me “frittata” is not a word.   Stop waving your intimidating squiggly red line at me, Spell Check.  I am certain that I could not, should not, would not make a “Fritter”, but thanks for your not-so-helpful suggestion.

If you, like Spell Check, are new to the word “Frittata”, allow me to Add To (your) Dictionary.  It’s basically just a big omelet baked in the oven, and you can leave out milk, cream, half and half, cheese, yogurt, ice cream or whatever other dairy item you might otherwise add to your eggs if you were cooking for someone who can’t or chooses not to eat dairy.

(Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food omelets are my favorite, for the record.**)

**That’s a joke.  I do eat ice cream.  I do eat omelets.  I do not eat ice cream omelets.

Whatever.  Long story short, I wanted to make a quiche, and then settled for a frittata.

A very yummy frittata, if I do say so myself!

Egg Filling Dairy Free Quiche

Especially yummy because I went one step further and swapped out my planned pie crusts for a sweet potato crust, inspired by the Moosewood Cookbook (and an old blog post of mine.)

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Crust

Sweet Potato Crust (is very easy, and very good!)

1 sweet potato, shredded
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, shredded or finely diced

Preheat oven to 400.  Stir together ingredients.  Lightly grease your pie pan with a little oil and press potato mixture into pan to form a crust.  Bake for 40 minutes.

Frittata Filling***

1 small zucchini
2 diced mushrooms
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, finely sliced

6 eggs, beaten

I lightly sauteed these vegetables with little coconut oil in a skillet.  You could add your vegetables directly to your pre-baked crust and then pour in eggs – but on this day I chose to make more dishes for myself and got out two bowls, one for the cooked vegetables, one for the eggs and then combined them before adding them my crust.

***these were the veggies I had on hand, but of course you can use anything you like in an omelet.  I know you know this, but I love using asterisks.****

Egg and Veggie Dairy Free Quiche Filling

**** not really.  ok, maybe a little.

Turn oven down to 350, bake frittata for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Quiche

The sweet potato crust worked out better than I expected, it added a perfect amount of sweetness to a savory dish.  (Like an ice cream omelet, perhaps?)

Simple(ish).  Healthy.  Delicious.  That’s a rap!*****

*****A rap, not a wrap.  Also, a frittata, not a quiche.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Hi there!

It’s been a while, I know.  Almost a year since my last blog post.  Yikes.  I’m finally ready explain where I’ve been.

You know how they say “do what you love and it won’t feel like work”?  Yeah, I’m all about that.  I think the concept was first presented to me in The Four Hour Work Week.  I didn’t read it cover to cover, but I read enough to understand Tim Ferris’ point: if you love what you do, you won’t be “working” 40 hours week.

Welp, I’m here to tell you I found my four hour work week.  And I want to tell you how I (we) did it, and to explain where the heck I’ve been (i.e., not blogging.)

This is going to be a bit of a new-agey hippy-dippy ride, so buckle your seat belts and climb aboard my unicorn.  We’re about to a take a little trot over the rainbow of dreaminess and wonder.

Enter The Secret, early 2011.  I watched and then listened to that movie over and over again.  Yes, some parts are a little cheesy, but the underlying message really spoke to me.

iphone_052115 749

(This awesome message is painted on a wall right here in my own neighborhood!)

I loved the main concepts of The Secret so much that I often put it on as background noise (like, when cleaning, cooking and painting my living room) and let “The Law Attraction” seep into every corner of my brain, oozing its way into every fold, crevice, wrinkle and cell.  Mmmm.  Brain wrinkles.

What you think about, you bring about.

My biggest take away from this delightfully cheesy movie/book –> thoughts become feelings, feelings become actions.  THINK GOOD AND IT WILL BE GOOD!

Zak was totally on board.  He wanted a four hour work week too and we talked about The Secret a lot.  He wanted to work for himself with the freedom to set his own hours, be home with us more, do more of what he loves with more time and flexibility to prioritize his own health and wellness.  This was something we had wanted and talked about for a long time – we just had no idea what it might look like or how it would come together, but we never stopped believing it could happen.

Fast forward two years to the end of 2013, Zak left his day job and started working for himself.  His “how” doesn’t really matter here (and is too specific to be helpful to anyone.)  For him, it was more about watching for his opportunity, and then acting on it when it presented itself.

Right around that same time I started yoga teacher training (and I never wrote Part II like I said I would!  oops.)

Yoga teacher training changed my life in more ways than I ever expected.  But there was one moment in teacher training that felt like a tipping point.  I remember appreciating just how knowledgeable one of my teachers was, and feeling a little envious of her awesomeness.  She just knew so much about yoga and was so good at teaching – but she’d also spent two decades studying and practicing yoga… still, it made me think “what the heck have I been doing with the last 10 years of my life??”

Oh right.  I was busy raising kids.  Being a stay-at-homeschooling mom.  Volunteering my time for birth and breastfeeding related non-profit groups in my community (ICAN and La Leche League) and helping other new mothers find their way – all because I truly loved it.  None of it ever felt like work.

And that was my A HA! moment.  Do what you love, right?  I love helping other moms with the challenges (and joys!) of early mothering.  I loved prenatal yoga when I was pregnant with Kaz and preparing for my VBA2C in 2012.  I love talking about, thinking about and reading about birth, breastfeeding and gentle mothering.

So… what if I run with this yoga thing and combine it with all these other things I’m already really knowledgeable about?  What if I could weave it all together with prenatal yoga?  It’s everything I love all rolled into one: birth, parenting, health, fitness, wellness, mindfulness.

And suddenly my path became a little more clear.

Mother Teresa quote

Around this time I stumbled upon this Mother Teresa quote, and that’s when I let go of dreams of becoming some blogging super star and decided to focus my efforts and energy a bit more locally.

With teaching prenatal yoga on the brain, I started to poke around the interwebs to get a feel for what prenatal yoga teachers do and offer.  I noticed that many prenatal yoga teachers were also birth doulas.

Hmmm.  I had a doula.  Twice, in fact.  Maybe *I* could be a doula?  Oh hey whatddaya know, there’s a doula training right here in my city next month!  And it’s happening on a weekend I’m not at yoga teacher training?  How… AMAZING!

This is where The Secret comes back into play.  It’s one thing to think about what you want and believe that you can have it, even if you don’t quite know how it’s going to come together – and that’s when you ACT.  Trust your gut, jump on opportunities when they present themselves, let go and have faith that it’s a step in the right direction – even if ends up being just a small step.  Progress is progress, no matter how small.

So I went for it.  I signed up for doula training through DONA International with the thought that I’d attend the three births required for certification and then shift my focus to teaching prenatal yoga.

And that’s when things started to snow ball in the best possible way.  Today, and for the past year, I’ve been working with a fabulous group of like minded women supporting new and expecting mothers through the childbearing year.  I’m a birth doula (16 births later, there is no turning back, I LOVE supporting women in labor!) teaching a weekly prenatal yoga class (and a regular yoga class too) and have recently begun teaching prenatal breastfeeding classes and offering lactation support to breastfeeding mothers who need help.  It rarely feels like work, and best of all, I am still able to be home with the kids the majority of the time while also making my own substantial addition to our income stream doing work that is wonderfully rewarding and fulfilling.

So that’s where I’ve been.  I promise that I didn’t tell this story to brag or to come off sounding self-righteous or looking for pats on the back.  We have had our share of ups and downs, believe me.  I am honored to be doing the work I’m doing today and am so very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.  It took us a LONG FREAKING TIME to get here – but we’re here.  For those of you who “get it”, for those of you who want to be self employed or in some other way want something better for yourself – it can totally happen.  Ultimately, this is what I want for you, dear reader – a life you love.  If I can do it, you can too.

Think.  Feel.  Act.  Respond with gratitude and believe that you deserve it.  Because you do.

So anyway, that’s my story.  My hope is to be back here again soon, writing again more regularly (because I miss it!) and I know I’ve said it before, but my hope is to write more free style posts and musings about whatever I’m currently into that’s health related – food, fitness, yoga – you know the drill.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


A Blueberry Tossed Salad (to make before blueberry season is over!)

August 16th, 2014 | Posted by Alison Spath in Lunch - (Comments Off on A Blueberry Tossed Salad (to make before blueberry season is over!))

I am a salad lover and I love to make awesome salads – but when I’m going to make a salad, any “plan” I have usually consists of:

Step 1: rummage through the fridge for vegetables

Step 2: throw it all together

Step 3: eat

Some plan, eh?  Salads (and smoothies) are just not something I think to use a recipe for – but this also means I often make the same thing over and over again.

A salad recipe is nice way to change things up.  I happened upon this one for a Blueberry Chicken Chopped Salad and it was a good reminder to look around for salad recipes more often!  It gave me a reason to try something completely different and to combine some ingredients I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to combine.

Blueberry Chicken Salad with Mushrooms, Asiago and Pecans

Like blueberries and chicken, for instance.

Blueberries and Chicken

Blueberries are definitely not something I would have thought to put on a vegetable salad – and definitely not something I would have paired with chicken.

The first time I used the red onion that the original recipes calls for, but it completely overpowered all the other flavors in the salad. (Maybe I used too much?)

I made it a second time and swapped red onion for mushrooms – much better!

Tossed in Honey Mustard Dressing

I made a quick honey mustard dressing (inspired from the same recipe) – a little Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, water and salt, whisked together at the bottom of the large bowl and then all added all the rest of the ingredients – chicken, blueberries, pecans, mushrooms and Asiago cheese.

Blueberry Chicken Salad

The slight sweetness from the dressing and blueberries were great together – with the Asiago, chicken, pecans too – this was a perfect combo of sweet and savory.  (I think some avocado could have worked in place of the nuts here too.)

This salad gets two thumbs up from me!  The farmer’s market tables have been full of blueberries lately.  I loved incorporating them into a salad meal like this.

That’s all I’ve got for today – blueberries on salad, I hope you try it!  I hope you’ve been making some awesome salads this summer too.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


I whipped this meal together a couple Fridays ago when Zak had dinner plans with some friends and I was home with the kids.

Zucchini noodles with pesto and sauteed shrimp

I felt a little guilty for making something so yummy when he wasn’t home to eat it with me.  Some how, some way, I did manage to save him some leftovers.  That’s love.

Zucchini Noodles with Homemade Pesto and Sauteed Shrimp

For the zucchini noodles:

1 – 2 Tbsp of butter, coconut oil or olive oil, enough to coat all the zucchini
2 large-ish zucchinis
garlic powder and salt to taste

This simple pesto recipe (I did not have any pine nuts so I omitted them)

Topped with shrimp that I sauteed in butter and seasoned with salt and garlic powder (chicken could work here too, or even just more veggies!)

I made (green and yellow) zucchini noodles with this julienne peeler (you can use a regular vegetable peeler too), working my way around each zucchini from top to bottom until I got to the seeds.  I put all the noodles into a large pot and sauteed on medium heat in a little butter, stirring occasionally and cooking until they were al dente.  (Maybe 10 minutes?)  I whipped together the pesto while the zucchini and shrimp cooked – stirred the pesto into the zucchini noodles, put some shrimp on top and Voila!  Season with your own tears of joy if you like.  (I did.)

It seems like a semi-complicated meal, but it really wasn’t, just a little prep intensive – but once the prep work was done it came together easily.  (And was even easier to eat.)

Are you making zucchini and summer squash noodles yet?  Get on it!


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


I taught my first yoga class today.  Not exactly my first class, but sort of.

My “first” classes were in teacher training to my fellow trainees, but those don’t really count.

Then I taught a restorative class a few weeks ago at the studio where I practice, and although that was a real class, it was just a few resting postures (have you ever been to a restorative yoga class? It’s awesome.) so I’m not sure that counts either.

But today, I taught a pretty classic yoga class with lots of poses.  Spent a lot of time planning a sequence, making a play list, practicing it a million (well, 6) times before class so I was sure I could run through without looking (much) at my notes, figured out what I was going to say at the beginning, middle and end.  This was a Real Class.

Overall, I think it went OK.  I do need more practice teaching though.  I have moments where it’s scary and I feel like I have no business taking the seat of the teacher!  But then I remember there are lots of people out there who are new or new-ish to yoga, and I do have something to offer – so I just keep moving forward with this teaching thing… putting one foot in front of the other, reminding myself that I’m not expected to be a yoga teaching prodigy.  I have to remind myself that teaching yoga, just like anything, takes practice and time – but you have to start!  So I’m starting.

<Deep, cleansing breath>

It’s been almost 2 months since my last blog post!  I figure I’ll just jump back in today with a quick wave “hi!” and a picture of lunch. Because that’s what I do here… post pictures of lunch.

I came home from class craving veggies and rice because one of the passages I read for my class today came from A New Earth (Can You Hear the Mountain Stream?) and part of the story was about two monks eating a simple of meal of veggies and rice under an ancient cedar tree.

I haven’t had veggies and rice in ages, so that’s what I came home and made – steamed veggies and brown rice.

Steamed vegetables with sausage and brown rice

(And sausage.  And not under an ancient cedar tree.)

Kaz (who turned 2 during my unplanned blog hiatus!) sat on my lap and shared this meal with me on our front porch.  I brought along some extra carrots because he likes to fish all the carrots out of my bowl and leaves none for me!  So extra carrots were necessary.

Toddler Lunch

I’m hoping to get my act in gear and get back to posting more frequently, even if it’s just short posts like this about life and some of the meals in between – it’s what I like and want to do, but I don’t because of all the “rules” I try to follow when it comes to writing a good blog and that you shouldn’t post about nothing.

Well, maybe I’ll try ignoring the “rules” for a while and just do what I want, moving forward in this journey of trying not care too much about what other people think – and then do NOTHING because I’m worried about not writing the perfect post with the perfect pictures and the perfect jokes.  I don’t have to be a blogging prodigy or comedy writing super star.

Blogging is a lot like teaching yoga in some ways I suppose… putting yourself out there and being a little vulnerable.  So why not?  Here’s to posting about nothing and bringing some extra carrots along for the ride.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


This is the fastest, easiest, yummiest potluck dish that I whip together when I’m short on time and ideas (or not!)

Veggies on Hummus

I saw this idea last summer and have used it a number of times now.  I’m here to spread the word, so you can spread the hummus.

And that’s exactly it — a layer of store bought hummus spread across a shallow dish, topped with whatever vegetables you feel like chopping – or not chopping, as the case here.  The vegetables I used for a dinner party recently were procured from the olive bar at Wegmans… the tomato salad that’s used for bruschetta, marinated green olives and artichokes (that I chopped myself) spooned across the top of the hummus.

You can swap the olive bar toppings with other summer vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, green onions – whatever you like.  Refrigerate until it’s time to head out, grab your bag of tortilla or pita chips, maybe some baguette slices or even other veggies for dipping and you’re ready to go!

This dish has been a hit every time and I’ve never had any leftovers to bring home.  (Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!)  This is the idea I keep in the back of my mind for those times I’m at the grocery store and suddenly remember I’m supposed to bring something to a party this weekend.  This is also great when you’re bringing multiple dishes and need “something else” that doesn’t require a lot of time or turning on the oven.

That’s it!  Easy, healthy and delicious – all of my favorite adjectives in one pan.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my friends and I do!


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


If there is one thing that is perpetually on my list of Things to Get Better At, it would be meal planning. I always go to the grocery store and buy the same old, same old ingredients to make the same old, same old meals – not having any specific plan for the week  (Maybe I have one new or specific meal in mind.)  I rarely decide on what I’m going to make until it’s time to get started making dinner.  Sometimes this is fine, other times it feels very boring.

I’ve written about this many times before, so I’ll shut up now, but I think the problem is that I’ve never found a meal planning system that works for me.  I’ve tried the old fashioned approach with a notebook and pencil and grand plans of keeping up with it – but I always end up falling off the meal planning wagon, and then I’m laying there in the mud eat the same old turkey chili again.

Feeling very stuck in a dinner time rut one day last week, I went browsing Pinterest for different meal ideas with my same old, same old ingredients that were already in my fridge.  I ended up creating a For Dinner This Week board, and I have to say, it worked really well!  I stuck with every meal I pinned, and since I knew what I was making each night, I’ve been able to do most of the prep work in the morning hours when I’m already putzing around the kitchen anyway, making dinner come together even faster.

In short, having a plan was awesome, I don’t know what my problem is.  I’m feeling hopeful that this Pinterest gig is going to help me stay on the wagon.  Social Media: it’s what’s for dinner.

Part of my motivation is having a reason to have my dinner time act together.  My reason?  After nearly 8 years of being a full time stay home mom, I’m about to go back to work!  (As a birth doula and prenatal yoga instructor, I can’t wait to share how this all came together… more details soon!)

One of the meals I had planned for this week was stuffed peppers, and although I didn’t go with the exact recipe I pinned, I still knew what the general plan was.  I ended up winging it with Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers for dinner last night and they turned out great!  We were going to be out of the house all afternoon and I knew I wouldn’t be in the mood for doing a bunch of dinner prep by the time I got home, so I made the stuffing in the morning and had very little left to do when the dinner hour approached.

When I make stuffed peppers, I cut the peppers in half – as opposed to cutting the top off and filling an entire pepper.

Bell Peppers for Stuffing

After stuffing 4 pepper halves, I had about half of the stuffing left over and could have filled 4 more pepper halves (so you could plan on 4 peppers total if desired…) but I only had two peppers left, so two peppers it was.

Two out of three kids were fine eating the stuffing and preferred it “unstuffed” anyway, so it all worked out in the end.

Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffing for Peppers

(2 out of 3 because my darling middle child wouldn’t eat anything like this even if I bribed her with a meal plan of cotton candy for a year.)

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

print this recipe

1 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp turmeric (optional)
1 tsp coriander (optional)
1.5 c black beans (or a 15 oz  can, rinsed an drained)
1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
2 c water
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
salt to taste

2 – 4 peppers, stem, spines and seeds removed, cut in half
shredded cheese for topping if desired

Saute onions, pepper and garlic in oil until soft, add spices and coat all vegetables well.  Allow to cook for 5 minutes or so before adding beans, quinoa and water.  Cover and allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until quinoa is soft and cooked, stirring occasionally to be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add chopped spinach (and a little more water if needed) and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until spinach is soft and reduced in size.

Your stuffing is complete!  At this point you can begin stuffing peppers, or choose the option behind Door #2 and transfer it to a storage dish until you’re ready to make your well planned dinner!

Preheat the oven to 350, prep and stuff peppers in a baking dish.  Top with a shredded cheese if you like (I used colby jack) and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Give them about 10 minutes to cool and set before serving.

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers with Cheese

Delicious, healthy, vegetarian, gluten free – game, set, match, my work here is done!  Until dinner time tonight, that is – but I’ve got a plan!  It’s all good.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Last summer one of my very best girlfriends told me about a homemade deodorant she’d been having good luck with, made with coconut oil and some essential oils.  SIX MONTHS LATER (read: February of this year) I finally got around to trying it out.

I have no idea what took me so long, it just seemed so… involved.  You mean I have get four ingredients out of the cupboard and then put them in a bowl and stir them together?  I don’t know girl, that just sounds really complicated.

Ingredients for Natural Homemade Deodorant

I’ve been using the natural deodorants from the store for a number of years now but have never been completely satisfied with any of them.  They either didn’t work or left my under arms feeling wet and goopy – the exact opposite of how I would like my armpits to feel.

After four months of personal trial, I’m here to share the recipe because it really works!   I’ve given this out to a handful of friends and everyone has reported back that they love it too.*

(*One friend had a reaction and needed to alter the recipe a bit, more on that below.)

Making your own deodorant is cheap, easy and earns you mega hippie points.  I am so happy with this, I will never go back to the deodorants sold on store shelves.

Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/3 cup coconut oil

4 tbsp baking soda

4 tbsp cornstarch

5-10 drops of tea tree oil (or any oil you would like)

Homemade Deodorant Ingredients

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Melt coconut oil until it’s a liquid, but not hot.  (Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees.)  Stir in essential oils, add oil mixture to dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour mixture into storage containers and you’re done!

Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant

(I divided mine between two 4 oz mason jars.)

Homemade Deodorant

When it comes time to use it, scoop a small (marble sized) amount out with your fingers and then rub it into your underarms like a lotion.  My husband Zak has asked about pouring it into an old deodorant container so he could apply it like regular deodorant, but I haven’t tried it because I read that it just turns into a melty mess when the air temperature is warmer than 76 degrees.

(I did find this recipe that uses beeswax and looks like it holds together better when it’s warm, but haven’t tried it.  I really don’t mind applying it with my hands and usually just wash or rinse them afterwards, but know that there are other things you could try if this was important to you!)

Why (I Believe) It Works

I haven’t conducted any double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials or looked at armpit skin bacteria under a microscope, so I can only report on what I know about coconut oil and what the Internet tells me about why this works.

(This article explains what’s going on with your stinky pits and what the various kind of underarm products are designed to do, if your inquiring mind needs to know.)

Coconut oil is antibacterial and antimicrobial – so it actually kills the odor causing bacteria that love to hang out in your armpits.

Tea tree oil is also antiseptic and anti-fungal.  I added a few drops of lavender oil too because I like the way it smells, but also because lavender is antimicrobial and antibacterial as well.

Essential Oils for Homemade Deodorant

A Few Noteworthy Items

I’ve done a little reading about homemade deodorants and looked at various recipes, I read that some people had a reaction to their homemade deodorant.  Based on what I’ve read, the culprit is likely the baking soda because it’s mildly abrasive to skin.  If you tend to have sensitive skin, plan to use less baking soda or leave it out all together.

(*A friend who reported “red, flaming pits!” had better luck when she altered the recipe to use less baking soda.)

It does not stain your clothes.  (Or at least, it yet to leave any stains my clothes.  Don’t send me your dry cleaning bill if you prove me wrong.)

Even though cornstarch is absorbent, it does not seem to stop you from sweating (maybe a little, but not completely… that’s OK in my book, we’re supposed to sweat!) but because the coconut and essential oils help kill the bacteria in your armpits, it does keep you from stinking.

I feel really good asking my 10 year old daughter to use this.  She’s getting to the age where she needs to use deodorant, and I much prefer her using something made with natural ingredients than the conventional, chemical filled deodorants and antiperspirants found on store shelves.

In the cold months it was rock hard but would usually soften up in the warm bathroom during a shower and would be scoop-able by the time I was ready to use it.  You could also take the (tightly closed) container right into the shower with you or fill the sink with a few inches of warm water and let it hang out in its own little bath to have a chance to soften up.  You could also scoop it out with a small spoon and allow it to begin melting in your hand before applying.

It might take a few days to begin working really well.  When I first started to use it, I noticed that it took a couple of applications to completely erase any not-so-fresh underarm odor.  (Does this border on too much information?)  I believe that I’m in “maintenance mode” now and if I ever miss a day (like I did recently when I ran out and it took me a couple days to get my act together) it starts working well again immediately.

My first batch (with the quantity of ingredients listed above) lasted us 3 months!  And because we scoop it out with clean fingers and apply it by hand, it feels perfectly sanitary to share this among family members like you would toothpaste or lotion.

If you try this (or if you already use something similar) please come back and tell me!  I hope you love this as much as I do.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.