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Prenatal Meal Planning

November 28, 2020
walnut crusted salmon

Deciding what to eat while pregnant can be a daunting task. I’m currently almost through the second trimester, but the memories of endless nausea in the first trimester are fresh. I relied heavily on morning smoothies, eggs, peanut butter sandwiches and daily evening dashes to the store by my husband. Some days we wouldn’t know what I could tolerate for dinner until as late as 4:30pm. Luckily, those days are long gone. Well into the second trimester, I’ve still kept up my daily smoothie habit. But I’m also trying to eat plenty of protein, with whole grains, fruit and veggies. Some days the plan works well and some days it doesn’t. I try not to beat myself up too much. Before pregnancy I followed an anti-inflammatory diet to help with my endometriosis symptoms, but during pregnancy those symptoms have all but disappeared. So if that means I can indulge in pizza or chocolate right now, I’m all about it!

But a couple weeks ago, I felt like my sugar cravings were getting the best of me. It may have been all the leftover Halloween candy, or just the freedom of enjoying that second trimester appetite. After checking in with my naturopathic doctor I decided that I needed a little more planned meal structure to finish out the second half of this pregnancy. That’s when I reached out to my friend Jamie Adams for recipe ideas. Jamie is registered dietician who specializes in prenatal nutrition. She just launched a new prenatal recipe e-book and it was exactly what I was looking for. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and made with affordable ingredients. I flipped to the second trimester section and tried out a few of the recipes last week. First up was the Walnut Crusted Salmon:

walnut salmon
Walnut Crusted Salmon and Crispy Roasted Brussel Sprouts, recipe by Jamie Adams

This was so easy to make and really delicious. I’m used to cooking salmon on the grill or on the stovetop, but this was baked in the oven which made clean up very easy. The topping with walnuts, green onions, lemon juice and seasonings kept the fish moist. I like how each section of the e-book details which nutrients are important for that trimester and why. I am much more likely to eat healthfully when I know the specific effects it’s having on my body and the baby’s. With omega-3 fatty acids in the fish and the walnuts, this dish is great for building the baby’s brain! I paired it with another recipe from the e-book: Crispy Brussel Sprouts roasted with avocado oil. I had to dig in the back of my cabinet for that bottle but I’m glad that I did! Avocado oil has a wonderful rich taste, and it was in another recipe that I tried: Zucchini, Mushroom and Egg Breakfast.

Zucchini, Mushroom and Egg Breakfast, recipe by Jamie Adams

I will typically eat a smoothie for breakfast (and there are several tasty smoothie recipes in this e-book!) and some kind of eggs for lunch, so this dish really hit the spot. I loved that this recipe and others were simply seasoned, but options were given for adding further flavor. I added cayenne pepper and garlic powder to the veggies, then cooked the eggs in the same pan, which added tons of flavor. The choline in eggs are great for the baby’s brain as well, just be sure to cook them thoroughly. Next up, I tried the Apple Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Onions & Brie:

apple turkey brie burger
Apple Turkey Burger and Sweet Potato Fries, recipe by Jamie Adams

This dish was so decadent and delicious! Definitely saving this recipe for use after pregnancy. The burgers are mixed with shredded apple, coconut oil and dijon mustard and topped with brie cheese, green apple slices and caramelized onion. The brie gets all gooey and melted, making this a perfect fall or winter dish. I paired it with the Sweet Potato Fries recipe, also made with coconut oil, and it was amazing.

I really recommend this recipe e-book to any expecting mothers or just anyone looking for a fresh set of simple and healthy recipes. Jamie also includes a whole snacks and dessert section, which I can’t wait to try. The Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies with dark chocolate chips look divine. And also a section of meals that can be prepped and frozen, ideal for the first several weeks after the baby arrives. Alex and I will definitely be making a few of these in February to prepare for our “4th Trimester” in March and April. Be sure to get yourself a copy. Jamie is offering a $10 discount with the code CYBERWEEK10 now through Friday 12/4. You won’t want to miss it! And you can follow her on Instagram @mamastenutrition for more tips on prenatal nutrition.

Conscious Living

Vata Season is Upon us

November 3, 2020

Where I live in Maryland the temperatures took a dive over Halloween weekend. “Flannel with a vest season” became “coat and a hat season” very quickly. The weather will probably keep fluctuating for the next several weeks, but this first cold snap, coinciding with a rare blue moon, for me marked the start of Vata season. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian practice of life energy, splits the year into three different seasons. Pitta coincides with light, warm weather found in late spring and summer. Kapha coincides with the cold, heavy, wet weather of late winter and early spring. Vata season is late fall and early winter, characterized by dry, cold, mobile qualities.

Ayurveda can be hard to wrap the western mind around, and I’m no means an expert, but I find that the more I sit with my senses and look, listen to, touch and feel the natural world during these times I notice these shifts. The wind blowing the remaining leaves to the ground, the crunchy sound of stepping on dry leaves, the quality of the dry air as I breathe it in. Vata energy has intellectual and emotional properties too. Well-balanced Vata coincides with creativity and imaginative energy. But Vata that is out of balance or overbearing brings anxiety, stress and worry. You can think of your thoughts much like the fall leaves – they can be vibrant and colorful, changing daily into unique, beautiful artifacts. But when those “thoughts” blow off the trees and swirl round and round with the wind, we can experiences racing thoughts and fear that impede sleep, focus and even our relationships with others.

This is a big week in the U.S. In the midst of a seemingly never-ending, wild year. I know that for some, anxieties are at an all-time high over the outcome of the election. I know that I’ve been waking up around 4 or 5am, way earlier than normal, my thoughts moving at a much faster pace than my body. I’m looking to some Ayurvedic practices to help me through this week and beyond. To balance out overactive Vata energy, I’m moving slowly, doing grounding yoga sequences, walking outside, eating warm fresh foods and drinking warm liquids. I’m curbing the amount of time I spend on my phone and social media. The internet tends to be a swift and furious place during weeks like this – with information and opinions and predictions flying fast. It can be hard to find a grounding experience to take part in.

One of the sources of comfort and media coverage for me this election season has been the podcast Pantsuit Politics hosted by two friends, Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland. Their whole thing is approaching politics through the lenses of compassion and nuance. With backgrounds in law practice, they have an in-depth understanding of what’s at stake. But they approach current events from a very human perspective. Plus they have the most soothing southern accents that remind me of my childhood growing up in Georgia. They are hosting a livestream on Hot Mic the night of the election. I will probably opt for that experience over the network news or the Twitter feeds. How are you taking care of yourself during this Vata season?

Conscious Living

Subsistence Living

September 13, 2020
ferns

About a year ago I started to feel like my life was passing before me. Slowly, yet somehow also in the blink of an eye. I would find myself at the end of the day, at the end of the week, or month and ask, “what happened?” without a satisfying answer. I woke up, meditated, walked my dog,  went to work, watched a TV show, looked at the internet, found 10 minutes to read before bed and then did it all over again the next day. Occasionally this was broken up with a yoga class or a social outing but for the most part I started to wonder, “Is this it? Is this that boring middle age life I always heard about but swore I would never fall into?” If I had to name it, it felt like something called “subsistence living.”

I’m sure I wasn’t the first thirty-something working a 9-to-5 job to have these thoughts. The repetitive nature of my routine made it easier to coast – going on auto-pilot without deeper awareness or intention. Did my husband Alex and I need to sell our possessions, renovate a van and hit the road? We love the outdoors, and those nomad couples on Instagram seemed pretty happy doing it. But no, we also loved hot showers and being in separate rooms. We love to travel. Should we find work abroad and move to a foreign country for a while? No, our dog Liza and cat D’Arcy indicated an aversion to overseas flights – plus we wanted to be near enough to our families. I found myself recalling this worn but wise phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are.” My thoughts of relocation were simply an outer manifestation of the restlessness within.

Truth be told, I love my job. I work as a motion graphics designer and I spent several years working towards this career. I love my marriage and I love where we live in Maryland. Close enough to the beach and the mountains, with a delicious cycle of the seasons changing. So I decided to embark on a deeper quest – how to live my everyday life in a way that aligned with my values. How to reach the end of the day with a deeper sense of purpose, knowing that my actions matched my intentions. This blog is intended to be an exploration of that practice. “Alible” is an obscure word that means “nourishing or affording nourishment.” Besides starting with my name (Ali) it also encapsulates the kind of life I want to lead: one that nourishes my mind, body and soul. One that supports my community and my beloveds, and serves to advance a better world for all.

It’s no small task, but I look forward to documenting my discoveries and sharing what has and hasn’t worked for me. And also connecting with readers and other writers, learning from you and creating an online community around intentional living. In the past year since that realization about my “subsistence life,” I became a certified yoga teacher, received life-changing surgery for endometriosis,  bought a house and became a mother-to-be, expecting my first child, a little boy, in just a few short months. I’m excited to use this blog as a place to process my thoughts on mindfulness, lifestyle design, women’s health, parenthood and more. The world is a wondrous place, and even though we only have a short amount of time to spend here, there are so many ways we can make that time meaningful and in service of others. I am reminded of a Mary Oliver poem about the end of life. How will we remember our lives when we look back on them? As subsiding or thriving? As always, she says is best:

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

-Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes”

Common phrases by theidioms.com