1. Coconut-Lime Protein Squares

    April 13, 2016 by Melanie Faris

    Coconut-lime squares

    Lately I’ve been working on building some muscle mass and upping my protein intake. I love eating healthy consistently, but boy oh boy is it a challenge finding creative, yummy, and all the while healthy food to eat. I seriously can’t handle the “apple and almond” snack that is so often recommended. Like seriously, do I want to eat an apple and a handful of almonds? No. No I do not.

    Today was the day for a little experimenting in my kitchen. It has been sooooo long, and I have been yearning to get back to some of my old eating habits. I had so much fun eating healthy in my past. I also had time to bake and cook all the time. Unfortunately convenience has won this Mommy’s mouth. Seriously, I have become the person I never thought possible. You know who I mean right? The boring mommy snacker who has no time to bake so I snack on pre-made store-bought boring food all day type of person. *Insert blood curdling scream.

    I can’t handle it anymore. My taste buds are begging me for some flavour and freshness. I’m sick of eating plain cottage cheese because I don’t have time for anything else. TODAY IS THE DAY ladies and gentlemen. Fasten your seat-belts for a good healthy, easy recipe.

    Coconut-Lime Squares
    Yields 16
    A cake-like snack without the sugar or guilt.
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    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Dry Ingredients
    1. 1 cup oat flour (to make - pour large flake oats into food processor or blender until it resembles flour)
    2. 1/2 cup unflavored, or vanilla whey protein powder
    3. 1/2 cup xylitol (low sugar option) or other sweetener of choice
    4. 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    5. 1 tablespoon baking powder
    6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    Wet Ingredients
    1. 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
    2. 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    3. 1/4 cup 0% plain or vanilla greek yogurt
    4. 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
    5. 1/2 lime, juice only *optional - add zest of 1/2 lime
    6. 5 drops lime essential oil (food grade. ex, Young Living brand)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over stir.
    3. Pour the mixture into the baking dish lined with parchment paper, and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a knife to see if it comes out clean. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 16 squares.
    4. Best eaten fresh and warm. Refrigerate leftovers or freeze for later.
    Notes
    1. Try enjoying these squares with a dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lime juice on top! Especially if the bars need moistening up after a couple days in the fridge.
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/
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  2. How I lost all of my baby weight

    February 19, 2016 by Melanie Faris

    During my pregnancy I gained around 35lbs, give or take a few. But even before I got pregnant, I was higher on the scale since I let my diet slide a bit and wasn’t working out as much as I used to before I got married. So overall I was about 45 pounds heavier by the end of my pregnancy than my pre-marriage weight 3 years ago.

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    Before I got married and had a baby, I was exercising on a very regular basis and made the gym my #1 priority. Now meal planning and a strict exercise regimen is just not practical, and that’s okay with me! But yet, here I am today weighing LESS than I did before I got pregnant. So if I didn’t follow a strict diet plan or exercise program after having a baby, how did I do it?

    For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I love eating healthy. Over the years I have naturally geared more towards the healthier choices than french fries and fast food. I guess you can say I eat healthy for the most part, but don’t get me wrong, I am totally happy to enjoy pizza on the weekend and a nice slice of cheesecake occasionally. I don’t limit myself, and I don’t really diet, but I do enjoy eating healthy most of the time. For me, I know that has helped me make consistent progress. Eating healthy for me no longer means egg whites for breakfast, or counting calories throughout the day. It works for some, just not for me at this point in my life. And it’s certainly not how I lost my baby weight…

    I have never been good at sticking to one thing. It’s going to be difficult for me to tell you EXACTLY what I did to lose my baby weight and the cellulite off my thighs (which I’ve had for a long time, and no longer do). I’m a bit of a squirrel and often start one thing before finishing the last ten things I started. I get distracted and excited about new things all the time, so you won’t find a list of things I did consistently to lose weight. I will give you a general idea of my days postpartum and peek into a “normal day” in the life of Melanie (if there is such a thing), and hopefully that can help you with your goals as well!

    1-3 Months Postpartum

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    Once I had Norah, I didn’t care about getting my pre-baby body back right away. I was more enthralled with this new precious being than I was over what I ate in a day. To be honest, I didn’t have the time, nor the energy to cook. I was happy with take out, something in the freezer, or heck – PB&J would suffice. I didn’t exercise much at all for the first 3 months of Norah’s life. The most exercise I did was a walk around the neighborhood with my new baby, the very occasional run, or grocery shopping (that counts right?). I didn’t care if I held onto those extra pounds for those first few months, I was just loving every moment of being a new mom.

    I had to wait until Norah was 3 months before I could leave her at the gym daycare. Once I could bring her with me, I started going to the gym and doing very light/easy workouts. I did mostly body weight exercises, and it was enough for me! I did very basic exercises and found that I only needed to be there for 30 minutes to get a good workout. Plus I had a very hungry baby who I couldn’t leave much longer than that amount of time.

    I did not do ANY ab exercises for approx 5 or 6 months postpartum. I waited a while so that I didn’t risk having diastasis rectus abdominis (which is basically when your abs stay separated postpartum). I could feel a space between my abs for a while postpartum, so I waited until it was no longer there before doing any crunches.

    Tip #1. Go easy. Don’t rush into an exercise program after having a new baby. Your body needs time to adjust and figure out how to function without having to grow a baby anymore. Besides, you will be so busy with your new little one that exercise isn’t a top priority…not in those first few months at least. Give yourself rest, and try to eat well. Light exercise is fine, but don’t jump into anything too intense at this point.

    4 + Months Postpartum

    Now that I was settled into motherhood and had a bit more flexibility with my days, I was going to the gym more and able to cook most of my meals again. I was doing a Jamie Eason program called “From Flat to All That”  for about a month, which was awesome and got me to the gym on a more regular basis, but that only lasted a short while (told you I’m a squirrel). I sometimes go back and do her workouts, but I haven’t been consistent with them since having a baby to care for.

    At this point, I have been going to the gym or exercising at home around 3 days a week, sometimes 4. There are weeks I don’t go at all, but I do feel a bit sluggish if I skip an entire week.

    Tip #2. You don’t need to follow a program to get results. However, programs will fast-track your results since you have something to work towards and follow. Even if you don’t complete a program, try one out for a while and get yourself back into regular exercising during the week. Try to be consistent and build up your strength again, but don’t feel bad if you miss a workout. Baby’s get sick, Mommy’s get sick, and life throws curve balls. Just go with it and don’t throw the towel in. Pick up where you left off once you are able to.

    9 Months + Postpartum

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    Still not following any special program at this point. I am comfortable at the gym lifting weights again and go 3-4 days/week. Occasionally I will run on the treadmill at home, but it is not something I do on a regular basis.

    A Typical Workout

    Warm-up for 5 minutes on treadmill or elliptical. *If I feel like doing more cardio, I will stay on for 20 minutes.

    3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of each: squats, machine chest press, tricep-dips, shoulder press, dumbell bicep curls, lat pull-down machine & calf raises. (Sometimes I will add in abs in-between or at the end).

    Tip #3. Weight lifting is what helped me to tighten up and bounce back quickly. Before I got pregnant I did mostly weight lifting over cardio – always! If you don’t know what the heck to do for weight lifting, please follow a program or go to the gym with a friend who can help you. I highly suggest trying a Jamie Eason programs (it’s free!). You will not get a “toned” look by running on the treadmill. You MUST lift weights. However, listen to your body and start off with very light weights, or even body weight exercises. Ease your way into it and then increase your weights as you go. I am so glad that I had a good muscle base before I got pregnant. I believe it is one of the reasons I was able to bounce back quickly. However, even if you didn’t do much weight lifting before having a baby, it’s never too late to start. It will be the best way to lose any extra weight you are holding onto.

    A day in the life of Melanie

    *I am not suggesting you follow this to lose weight. I am also not recommending the ingestion or use essential oils for weight loss. This is meant for a reference of my daily routine. Please do your own research before using essential oils.

    Breakfast – 2 eggs, 2 slices of rye toast with butter, 1/4 avocado + berries.

    Coffee with 2 milks 1 sugar. Yum! I like to read a bit of my Bible if Norah is napping and enjoy my coffee.

    Fill up a bottle of water with 1-2 drops of essential oil. I add one drop of peppermint oil in my water during my workouts or if I want to feel refreshed and energized. During the day I like to drink citrus fresh, tangerine, lemon, grapefruit and orange essential oils in my water. *I will only ingest pure, organic therapeutic grade essential oils. See bottom of post for more info.

    I apply peppermint essential oil to my body before exercising, and recently have been rubbing my thighs and belly with grapefruit or citrus oils. I also use a DIY coffee scrub with citrus oils in the shower occasionally. My skin and body loves the oils! They have enhanced my life dramatically!

    I get to the gym before noon and do a workout similar to what’s posted above. I sometimes stay home and run on my treadmill if I can’t get to the gym.

    Snack – usually a banana or something quick. I love snacking on “Aussie Bites” from Costco lately too.

    Lunch – whole grain sandwich or wrap with chicken lunch meat. Usually something easy. I like adding a bit of Caesar dressing to my wraps (told you I’m not counting calories). I also like adding hot sauce, a slice of cheese, lettuce and whatever else I can fit in. Sometimes I will just make a big salad and throw everything in it. If I eat a salad for lunch, I will probably have more snacks during the day. I love snacks. I love food. Who am I kidding.

    Snack 2 – large handful of healthy crackers with guacamole/hummus. I usually have another coffee here too. I will drink more water and fill up the bottle I used before.

    Dinner – I love making salmon or white fish or chicken breast + rice with tamari soy sauce (we love  organic white basmati) and a steamed vegetable with a bit of butter. I like to swap out rice for sweet potatoes, quinoa or couscous too! If I have time, I will make brown rice instead of white rice.

    Later snack – vanilla or plain greek yogurt with berries and sliced almonds (my favourite snack!). Sometimes Thomas and I eat popcorn while watching a movie or tv show. I also love snacking on grapes!! I usually only have one snack at night, plus a big cup of herbal tea.

    I always go to bed with a full belly. There is a lot of controversy over eating late at night. I have always had a bedtime snack and do not stop eating past a certain time because it will cause me to gain weight. Even when I was at my smallest weight, I had a late night snack. When you are weight lifting, you need to fuel your body. You get hungry more often as well. If you are not exercising regularly, a late night snack would not be a great idea. For me, I love my late snacks and it has never affected me negatively! I actually think it helps my metabolism and sustains my muscle mass. I certainly don’t eat chips every night, but greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or occasionally eating popcorn is something that I enjoy and will continue to do!

    So there you have it. A typical day in my life. I also clean, do laundry and hold a crying baby for a lot of my day. But I don’t think you all want to hear about those details. hehe!!

    If you are interested in using Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils,  click here to start right now or you can contact me for more info.

     


  3. My birth story

    February 4, 2016 by Melanie Faris

    I don’t think I ever wrote my birth story down. Yikes. What Mommy blogger hasn’t blogged about the most astounding, life giving, wonderful day of their life?! Me. Oops. So here I am, sitting down to tell you my birth story – 10 months later.

    I have been so caught up in the wonderful life of Motherhood, that many things I once found time to do (blogging), I no longer have the same time for. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE blogging and creating new recipes to share..etc., Life just got busy.

    So here I am, 10 months after my beautiful baby Norah was born, sitting down to share the fragments of my memory of April 4th, 2015, and the days leading up to her birth…let’s see how much I can remember.

    Pre-Labour

     

    Thursday, two days before baby Norah was born, I woke up and sat down to eat breakfast with Thomas. I can remember feeling mild cramping, similar to period cramps, and saying to Thomas, “Today is the day.” Or so I hoped…I probably said that to him every day for those last 2 weeks – hehe. But this time I meant it! It was 6 days before my projected due date, but I was convinced this baby was coming sooner.

    I had a TON of Braxton hicks contractions in the 3rd trimester. I seriously could hardly walk. Every time I had a “fake” contraction, I had a sudden urge to pee like never before. It was not fun. I tried to do all those things people suggest…like walking. Nope. Wasn’t happening. I attempted to walk around my neighborhood one day, and ventured a new route (bad idea). Turns out there was a giant hill, and one that I decided would be “good for me” to climb. Nope. Not fun. I won’t be doing that again. Especially not pregnant.

    Back to Thursday, April 2nd. The cramps I kept feeling were becoming more consistent. Very mild, and not painful. They felt different from the Braxton hicks contractions. Thomas went to the office, and I told him he better keep his phone close by, just in case.

    I spent the morning doing things around the house. I can’t remember what I did exactly, but I’m pretty sure I cleaned like a mad woman, and started cooking soup. I was not “resting” as suggested by the midwives. I even made Thomas lunch and decided to deliver it to him at the office. If that doesn’t get me brownie points, I don’t know what does…

    As we sat together and ate our lunch, the mild contractions started to feel a little bit stronger. Still not painful, but enough for me to eat and then drive straight home. Thomas cancelled his appointments for the day – Baby was most likely on the way. I was praying this wasn’t false labour. I wanted this baby to come now!

    The day is a bit of a blur. I don’t remember being in much pain while there was daylight. I DO remember the pain throughout the night. The contractions weren’t strong enough for me to go to the hospital, but they were so uncomfortable and painful that I couldn’t get a wink of sleep. I did squats and danced all night in the living room (sounds fun, but I was dying). Thomas was able to get his beauty sleep while I was waltzing around and trying to rest in-between contractions on the couch. Around 7am, I went stomping in the bedroom saying, “OKAY GET UP. I NEED YOU.” He would have been useless to me during the night, and I certainly didn’t expect him to learn the waltz at 3am. I wasn’t mad at him for sleeping. I’m sure I was the one to summon him to bed. But it was morning now, and I was in PAIN. Time for a pre-birth breakfast and a back massage.

    One of my midwives came to check how far along I was around on Friday morning, around 10am. Unfortunately I wasn’t in “active labour” yet, much to my surprise. Trying to deal with a lot of pain on zero sleep was exhausting. How much worse does this get?! I was advised to take some gravol and get as much rest as possible. I took gravol and tried to rest my eyes in between contractions. It didn’t go so well. I was tossing and turning in bed and could not sleep at all. If I did fall asleep, it would only be for minutes at a time until the next contraction hit. The bath is where I spent a lot of my time. It seemed to help a bit.

    Friday evening around dinner time things were really getting painful. Thomas was getting hungry, and I knew he needed to eat something before we left for the hospital. I told him to order a pizza so he didn’t have to leave my side to cook something. Much to our surprise, one of the local pizza companies, cough, Pizza Hut, was not so friendly and told us we were out of their delivery zone. Thomas politely “begged” for them to make an exception, being that we live very close by. After much debate, he asked to speak with a manager. Keep in mind, they probably thought there was a murder happening if they could hear me yelling in the background…hehe. After explaining to the manager that his wife is in labour and he really needs the pizza, the guy on the phone says, “If your wife is in labour, why are you ordering a pizza? Take her to the hospital.” We couldn’t believe he said that. Pizza Hut has since lost our business. Too bad…we really did love Pizza Hut. However, we were thankful Dominos came to our rescue! We laugh about this now, but in the moment, we were not happy.

    Active Labour

     

    It was after dinner that my midwife came and finally announced I was officially in active labour, and that she wasn’t leaving my side until we had a baby. Yay! I laboured at home until around 10pm, and then we headed off to the hospital for the rest of my labour.

    Here are the random things I remember since the night is a blur in my mind from this point on:

    When we arrived at the hospital, the lady at the front door insisted I use the hand sanitizer before I enter. Seriously lady, ain’t nobody got time for that! hehe. I reached out my hand and put some sanitizer on. Onward we went to the birthing unit…

    Thomas wheeled me into the birthing unit (which was very empty). There was a doctor standing by the front desk, who said loudly to my midwife that he is around if we need him. He was very obvious about the fact that he was talking about an epidural, which I already decided I did not want to take. This was a personal choice, and one that I was trying very hard to stick with. I don’t think it would have been a big deal if the doctor mentioned it to my midwife privately. But to say that in front of me was like waving candy in front of a kids face. What I needed was for someone to encourage me to keep going. The doctor telling me an epidural was close by was very tempting to say the least!! Thomas was amazing and encouraged me to keep going! Just what I needed to hear.

    Once we arrived at the hospital, I was very slowly dilating, and at this point the Midwife decided it was best to break my water. This helped my labour progress quicker. I can remember saying, “I’m so scared. This is going to make it hurt even more!” I was right. But that was inevitable.

    I remembered to pack some labour snacks and electrolyte drinks. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stomach any of it and was puking blue Gatorade all night. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Thomas was quick to give me water, even if I didn’t want it. It was a lifesaver having a cup with a STRAW. I will definitely remember that for my next birth.

    I spent a lot of the night in the shower at the hospital, sitting on a labour ball. I think it helped, but at that point, no position felt comfortable, and I was ready to give up. This was during the transition stage – the most painful stage of labour. I vividly remember saying to Thomas, “I can’t do this. I think I need the epidural.” I am so thankful for my amazing Husband, who knows me so well and told me what I needed to hear. He was firm and strong when he said to me, “Melanie, you do not need the epidural. You are the same person now that you were before, and I know that you do not want this. Jesus Christ will give you the strength to get you through this. You can do it.” I needed those wise words of encouragement and a bit of tough love when I was feeling so weak and helpless. It was what kept me going.

    The midwife decided I needed to get an IV to give my body more fluid since I was not able to hold anything down and was very dehydrated. I also had not slept for 2 nights and was very low in energy. I was so thankful she did this, otherwise I would’ve gave up. We are getting into the early hours of Saturday morning by this point. She also suggested I try the gas mask, which would help take the edge off of the contractions. The IV and gas was amazing for me. I felt more energized and no longer wanted the epidural.

    I remember standing beside the bed, and all of a sudden my body started to push. It was totally doing it on its own. Isn’t that amazing?! Our body does all the work for us, we just have to suffer through the pain and breathe through it. It’s such an amazing natural process. I was created to give birth! And so was the lady down the hall..the not so amazing part was we decided to give birth at the same time. This lady was screaming down the hall pushing her baby out too, and my midwife had to run out to help her. I vividly remember hearing my midwife on the phone outside of our room calling the other midwife saying, “I need you here, like NOW.” It was scary. I was alone with Thomas, and I could feel my body pushing. Moments later we heard a baby cry from the other room. That sound put a smile on our faces. It was a bitter-sweet moment. My turn was next.

    The midwife was in our room shortly after the other birth, and the back-up midwife arrived too. I was getting very close to having this baby, and they checked my cervix to make sure I was ready to push. I was laying down now, and the midwife had to physically push my cervix over the baby’s head so I could push her out. I started pushing at 4am.

    I can remember through the pushing phase, Norah was kicking me in my belly. We could all see her feet pushing against my belly while at the same time, her little head was coming out. This baby was determined to get out. Everyone was in shock. The midwife was yelling at me, “STOP PUSHING!” But I wasn’t pushing. It was Norah kicking her way out!! She wanted out NOW. She literally “birthed” herself. But I still take most of the credit ;).

    Words can not express the feelings I had when Norah was born an hour later at 5:01 am. Complete joy. I was still in a lot of pain after she came out, but it was much easier to deal with having my baby in my arms. Her head was a little odd-shaped initially, but she was beautiful all the same. I was amazed and so in love with this little person. She was a piece of me and Thomas put together in one little person. Words can’t describe what that moment was like for us…

    I took a shower before leaving the birthing room, and was instructed to pee before we could leave and go to our new room. I was terrified by the thought…but there were worse things to come than a pee. For those of you who have experienced labour and birth, you know what I mean…I was happy to take the ducosate pills as instructed by the nurse. hehehehe

    I could hardly walk after this whole experience, so Thomas helped to push me down the hall in a wheelchair, while I cuddled our new baby and gazed at her in awe. How wonderful she was, and how beautiful. LOVE in its purest form. Welcome to the world Norah Joy Faris.

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  4. DIY Christmas Coffee Scrub

    December 2, 2015 by Melanie Faris

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    For those who don’t know, my newest obsession is most definitely essential oils. I started out using cheaper brands, because who doesn’t want to save some $$?!  But after much research, I have discovered not all essential oils are created equal. I thought I was doing no harm using any old bottle of essential oil – besides, they were labelled “pure”…little did I know, most oils are FAR from pure, even though they claim to be 100% essential oil. Don’t go there girlfriend!

    I won’t get into the great debate of essential oils in this post, however, I DO want to mention my essential oils of choice – Young Living. This is the brand I trust in my home, for my baby, and on my body. Period. They are pure therapeutic grade oils. 100% goodness in a little bottle that is a piece of Heaven on earth. One smell and you will be convinced.

    With the Christmas season upon us, I wanted to do a post for all of my DIY fans! Woohoo! This is a cheap and LOVED Christmas gift that is sooooo easy to make. Go buy yourself some little mason jars and ribbon, and your cute little jar is ready to be filled with awesomeness. Your skin will thank you – Trust me! And so will the person you are gifting this to…if you don’t keep it for yourself ;).

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    Step 1. Grab a bowl

    Step 2. Mix everything in it (see pic above)

    Step 3. Package it up & give it away

    Seriously. It’s that easy! Now go do it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    I keep one of these jars in my shower so I can scrub away at my trouble areas. I swear my skin is the smoothest, silkiest and nicest it has ever been after my showers. I love this mixture. Ps. You can try this scrub with peppermint or citrus oils. They all smell wonderful!

    If you are interested in purchasing Young Living Oils and want to save 24% off retail pricing, send me a message on Facebook, email me (info@melaniefaris.com) or comment below. I would love to get you started!

    Have a Merry Christmas!!

    Melanie Faris

    YL # 2635387

     
     

     

     


  5. a letter to my daughter

    April 29, 2015 by Melanie Faris

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    Dear Norah Joy,

    I remember the day we found out we were having you. We cried with tears of joy, and now you are here. I remember the look on your Dad’s face when he saw those two lines. I remember the gasp in his breath and our screams of joy in the air. You were loved, even when you were just forming and beginning as a new life. Even in those first few weeks. We loved you. Even then.

    I remember the first couple of months as my body made a home for you. I stayed in bed all day and could hardly eat a thing. But I did, because I knew you were there and needed me. I didn’t know it then, but I needed you too. Even before I could see you or feel you inside of me. Even then.

    I remember wondering what you would look like, or if you were a boy or a girl. When your little toes and fingers were webbed together and your eyelids tightly sealed, you were still my beautiful girl. The same beautiful girl you are today. Even though I didn’t know what you were or the person you would become, you were you. The same you, just as real and beautiful as today. Even then. 

    I remember feeling my belly begin to pitter-pat. You were only 17 weeks, and already starting to kick your feet and tickle me with your fingers. I hold you in my arms today and remember the days when your movements were so small inside of me. Those small feet and fingers were practicing for the days ahead when they would do mighty things. Even as small as you were then, you were mighty in strength. Even then.

    I remember waddling around with my big belly. Even though you were so small, I felt so big. Your little body was growing and preparing for the day when we both would meet face to face. And your little heart that was beating within me, it was beating for a reason. It was beating a sound of life. It seems more real now that I can watch your chest rise and fall with each breath you take. But even before I could see you inside of my big belly, your heart was still beating life and your chest would still rise and fall. Even then.

    I remember the day when you began your journey out of my womb. You were ready to breath on your own. You were excited to meet us, but didn’t want to come too soon. We were excited too. The pain lasted for days, but I  knew that every pain was one step closer to holding you in my arms. We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew your life would change our lives forever. But even before you were born, you had changed our lives already. Even then.

    When you entered the world and we saw your precious face, Mommy and Daddy cried. We cried just like on the day we found out you were inside of me. We didn’t cry because you were here, for you had been here all along. We cried because you were more beautiful than we ever could have imagined. We cried because we finally got to open the package of our precious gift. We cried because we could finally see your eyes, oh those precious eyes. We cried because we loved you, and will love you for the rest of our lives.

     Psalm 139: 13-16 (NIV)

    13 For you created my inmost being;
        you knit me together in my motherโ€™s womb.
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
        your works are wonderful,
        I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you
        when I was made in the secret place,
        when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
        all the days ordained for me were written in your book
        before one of them came to be.

     

     

     


  6. Turkey Oatmeal Veggie Balls

    February 24, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    Turkey Oatmeal Veggie Balls

    When I was doing the Jamie Eason Livefit Program, I was always in search of clean meals that had lean meats & healthy carbs. I ate a lot of turkey, chicken, fish and eggs. Many of the recipes I used were actually from Jamie’s program, and they helped me to stay on track with my diet. Now that cooking is part of my job as a personal chef, I love using my favourite clean eating recipes as a base and build on them to make new recipes & flavours.

    This recipe was one that I  adapted from Jamie Eason’s Meatloaf Muffin recipe. It has always been one of my favourite’s, because it is SO easy to make, So delicious, and it FREEZES GREAT. With my due date being only 6 weeks away, it’s time to start stocking up the freezer with quick meals for when baby arrives. I changed up some of the measurements and added my own spices so that it has the texture and taste that I like best. I like to eat these with Franks red hot & a side of steamed veggies. Yum! Clean eating can be really easy & super fast. I hope you love these as much as I do. 

    Turkey Oatmeal Veggie Balls
    Yields 6
    A quick main dish that freezes great! Steam up some veggies on the side and you're all set. This will feed a family of 4 or 5, but I usually make a double batch so I have extra to freeze. It takes almost the same amount of time to make, so why not?!
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    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    35 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    35 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Ingredients
    1. 1 package ground turkey, or chicken (450g)
    2. 3/4 cup large flake oats
    3. 2 eggs
    4. 1 bell pepper, chopped finely
    5. 1 small onion, chopped finely
    6. 1 celery stalk, chopped finely
    7. 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
    8. 1 tsp cumin
    9. 1 tsp oregano
    10. *optional spices - pinch of cayenne & red pepper flakes
    11. Salt & pepper, to taste
    12. 2 tsp olive oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 370 degrees.
    2. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (for easy clean up) and drizzle a small amount of oil on the bottom.
    3. Chop the vegetables into small pieces & mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
    4. Form the mixture with your hands into 6 balls (approx. the size of a tennis ball).
    5. Place the turkey balls onto the baking sheet and drizzle them with a bit more oil.
    6. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes (or until cooked through at 165 degrees fahrenheit).
    Notes
    1. Optional - turn the turkey balls half way through. This isn't necessary, but will give it a nice crust on both sides.
    2. You can add other vegetables to this recipe that you have in the fridge. Carrots, mushrooms, zucchini...etc.
    3. If you have leftovers, I like to put them in a bowl with chicken broth in the fridge. This way they are super moist when you reheat them again.
    Adapted from Jamie Eason's Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/


  7. The Seasons of Life

    February 10, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    DSC_0004

    Looking outside right now, it’s hard to imagine what summer looks and feels like. It’s so cold I dread the thought of getting dressed for the day and walking out the front door. Brrr! I am much more comfortable staying inside, wrapped in a blanket and watching the news. Yes, I watch the news. I am a bit of an old soul they say…

    Today I want to talk to you about the seasons. I’m not talking about the weather outside, I’m talking about the seasons of your life. Have you ever thought about your life this way? A lot of people think life comes down to luck or chance. You roll the dice and you get what you get. Everyone’s different and there’s no making sense of it. But wait – that’s not how it works at all. Sure everyone has a unique story with different circumstances, but I came to the realization that we are all similar and on this road together! I mean – I think we all can relate on a deeper level, especially when it comes to the seasons of our lives. Some people feel one season stronger than another, but we all go through them. Let me explain…

    There are many seasons of life, and here’s my take on it.

     

    Let’s start with winter (we are all familiar with this one):

    It’s so cold!!!! When does it end?! That’s the only thought on everyone’s mind. Okay, maybe not for everyone in the world, but definitely here in Canada. hehe.

    But in all seriousness, the winter season of life sometimes feels long. It feels like we could all use a little more sunshine and a lot less storm in our life. There are glimpses of beauty, but sometimes you need to squint to see it. Often you realize that you need help digging out of this mess, but don’t know where to turn. You are snowed in and it’s not always easy. As the tears flow, you might find yourself praying to a God you aren’t sure exists, or holding onto your loved ones a little tighter. Or maybe you are secluding yourself from the world, staying inside with a hope to keep warm, not wanting to face the world outside. Usually I don’t anticipate the winter to feel so cold and heartless. I don’t expect to be hit so hard all at once like a snowball in the face. You ever been there? This is a trying and difficult time in your life, and sometimes it’s hard to even imagine that spring is going to come.

     

    There is spring:

    The beautiful time where you rest after the storms of winter, knowing that all the hardships you went through before have brought you a new outlook on life. You see the sun rising and suddenly 10 degress feels SO nice. You now realize that without the cold winter, spring wouldn’t feel as nice as it does right now. It’s a transition phase. You are coming out of the storm and finally feel the warmth on your face again. There is a peace and hope for your future. A sense of contentment and optimism for what’s ahead. You aren’t sure if you are at the place you want to be yet, but you know that there’s good things coming and you are ready to start walking the path laid before you.

     

    There is summer:

    This is a time where you are reaping the rewards of handwork and dedication. Sometimes life feels almost “too good to be true” during this time. You are on fire! Think of the time when you tried on those old jeans that haven’t fit in years, only to discover your hard work at the gym has finally paid off! YES! You feel on top of the world, fired up and ready to take on whatever comes your way. You sometime worry that this season can’t last for too long, almost “searching” for something bad in your life, unable to locate it. You lie out and sunbath soaking it all in, praying for this season to last the rest of your life.

     

    There is fall:

    You have come down off your high and are realizing things aren’t exactly what you thought they would be. Maybe that new job means more hours at the office and less time with your family. Or the jeans are getting tight again, and motivation is starting to diminish. Things aren’t so perfect anymore. I find in this season I get a bit confused. I just don’t know what step to take next. You may ask yourself, where do I go from here? I can remember when I was in college feeling as if my world was crumbling around me. This isn’t what I signed up for, I thought. I just couldn’t find peace in my life. Although everything was still OK, inside there was a war going on. I felt like I needed a change, but I just didn’t know what to do or where I was heading. You might feel like you are walking without a map, lost and  unsure of who to ask for directions.

     

    You ever been in one of these seasons of life? I know you have! But what season are you in now? Sure we all know the seasons of the year, it’s pretty obvious if you are sweating from the heat, or trying to avoid frostbite from the cold. But do you know and recognize what season your life is in at any given moment? It’s possible you have a bit of a mixed bag and feel like you are in two seasons at once. But really think about it for a minute. For a lot of us, it won’t take very long to recognize where we are…

    Sometimes I can go through all of the seasons in a week, or even a day! It’s crazy how fast the weather can change. I’m not here to tell you that all good things come to an end, because I hate when someone says that to me. I also don’t think it’s true. However, there will disruptions and challenges that put us off our path in some way, at some time in our life. Don’t “expect the worse”, gosh that bugs me when someone says that, especially when you are feeling so darn great about life. My advice would be this – next time you find yourself at the grocery store with some extra cash in your pocket (i.e., it’s your summer), it’s never a bad idea to grab some canned food to put in the pantry in case you need it! Use your summer to prepare for the winter. Read, study, learn, grow – even if everything you read doesn’t apply to you right now. It will build you up and prepare you for what’s ahead. Whatever that may be!

    If you happen to be stuck in a winter season (even if you don’t live in good ol’ Canada), I want you to know that there is hope. Spring is coming. Do NOT lose sight of it. Sometimes you need to rest for a while, and just seek comfort during this time. Let the storm pass. I would encourage you to seek the best comforter I know – the Holy Spirit. God is the only one who can bring you true peace during the storms. I’m not trying to get all religious on you, I’m just speaking from experience. When I put my trust in God and a storm comes my way, all the emotions are still there and it’s still freakin cold, but I just don’t feel the weight of it. That’s what He does for me. He takes the weight of the hardship and puts it on Himself. I may still cry myself to sleep, but He is standing with the kleenex box saying, let it all out, let me wipe your tears. A good friend of mine once told me to put my worries on God, because His shoulders are much bigger than mine. It’s like trying to walk through 5′ of snow with bricks in your boots. It’s just not an easy road. Might be possible to get to the other side, but it’s not easy!! However, if you put on some snowshoes, you still have to walk through the snow, it’s just a heck of a lot easier because you just don’t have to carry so much weight. Make sense? Sort of?

    I wanted to write this post to give you hope and comfort, no matter what season you are in. If you are in summer right now, ENJOY IT. Don’t fret or anticipate something to go wrong. Just lie in the sun and tan for a while. It is OKAY for things to feel so great. You aren’t a bad person for being happy and content. I encourage you to use this time to refuel yourself and encourage others who may feel like winter just won’t end for them. If you are going through winter, or a transition season, remember that summer WILL come around, and with the right road map, you will get there a lot quicker.

    Enjoy whatever season you may be in! I for one am READY and looking forward to spring.

    Bye for now.

    Love, Melanie.

     

     

     

     

     

     


  8. My Pregnancy Journal (Weeks 8-28)

    January 24, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    The day I found out I was pregnant, I never realized how much my life would change. I knew it would change in the future when baby arrives (obviously), but I didn’t expect so much to change right now while pregnant. I sit here typing this feeling my little baby squirming in my belly. The soft kicks (okay, not so soft anymore), the gentle jabs and the occasional hiccups bring me more joy than I could ever imagine. It’s amazing. My love for life, my husband and this new little being is beyond measurable.

    Pregnancy has been a learning experience. One filled with unique challenges and new discoveries. I’ve learned that every Mother has their own experience and wealth of knowledge to share about being pregnant. I’ve also learned not to take too “literally” everything I read or what everyone says to me. I’ve created my own path and discovered what works for me. I broke a lot of the “pregnancy rules” out there, but me and baby are still kickin’ (literally). SO, with that being said – this isn’t a “how to” or “guide” to pregnancy. This post is simply a peek into what I have found on my own journey.

    I thought it would be fun to share some of my pregnancy journal entries with you. This may be especially helpful for all you pregnant ladies (or soon to be), or fun for you to read even if you have “been there”, and “done that”. Here’s my journey so far…

     

    My Pregnancy Journal

     

    8 Weeks Pregnant

    7-8 weeks 7-8 week2

    I have felt like a sloth for the past week. Been feeling nauseous since week 6 and the only thing I want is Chicken Noodle Soup. Must be Campbell’s or Dads homemade. Dad made me his homemade soup, but I ate it all in one day so it’s back to the can. Sent Thomas to the grocery store to get me a bunch of cans and saltine crackers. I sleep with the crackers beside me so I can eat them first thing in the morning to help with nausea. I haven’t puked – just feel sick. Going to try and get to the gym and move around a bit. The couch has been my new best friend.

    9 Weeks Pregnant

    Cravings: Mucho Burrito – I had Thomas drive 30 minutes to get me one for dinner. I could eat them every single day. No guacamole though. I’m not feelin it lately (weird since I usually love it).

    Feeling really great the last few days. I am back cooking again! Yay! I am so glad to be back in the kitchen. Mom came over and we ate some leek and potato soup that I made. She rubbed my hair and tickled my arms – doing what Moms do best. I can’t wait to have my own little baby to tickle and love.

    Side note: hopefully this 1st trimester gas goes away soon. Poor Thomas…

    10 Weeks Pregnant

    9-10 weeks2 9-10 weeks

    Cravings: Turkey Deli Meat Sandwiches. Subway. Pickles. Apparently deli meat is “lethal” during pregnancy, but I’m breaking the rules. It’s all I want or feel like eating, so I’m going with it…

    Feeling better as time passes. Not feeling so great around dinner time. If I take a nap, I usually feel nauseous when I wake up, but I need to nap. Must get my sleep or I feel worse. Zero motivation to exercise. Can only stomach specific foods that I am craving. Drinking more juice these days, water just isn’t very appealing. Still gassy (oh dear), but at least I’m not constipated like many women during pregnancy! Looking forward to the days when I can eat more food. I don’t have any sign of a “pregnant belly”, just looking fat with giant boobs. This feeling isn’t so uncomfortable.

    11 Weeks Pregnant

    Met with my midwife this week. All is well! I get to do an early ultrasound to confirm how far along I am. I am very excited to see our baby! 

    I have my ups and downs. Still getting some nausea and still wanting subway sandwiches. I feel guilty walking into Subway, praying I don’t see anyone I know. But it’s all I want!! Don’t judge me. I had it for 3 days in a row (feel like I’m back in high school again). Also craving cucumber and avocado sushi rolls/hand rolls. I could eat them every day (this week at least). The sushi guy knows what I want when I go in. He must think I’m nuts. 

    Feeling very lazy. No motivation to exercise or do much of anything. I basically want to lie around and watch tv.

    Oh – my belly is growing. Mostly bloating at night, but I love staring at it now. I am excited to walk around with a pregnant belly! Getting there…

    13 Weeks Pregnant

    IMG_2406

     Went for my ultrasound last week. Not the experience I was expecting. Wasn’t like in the movies where the couple goes in together holding hands and watch their baby together on the screen. Didn’t get to see the baby hardly at all, Thomas couldn’t be in the room until the end, and I couldn’t take the pictures home. =( Boohoo. I think my date is a bit off too, so it’s good that I went in. As long as baby is healthy that’s all that matters!

    Starting to get a small baby bump. Not noticeable to others, but I can see it! I finally made my official pregnancy announcement online. So nice to have so much support! I wanted to use my ultrasound picture, but I didn’t have the option, and I was too excited to wait.

    16 Weeks Pregnant

    Cravings: Still want Subway, BREAD, bagels (with cream cheese) & sandwiches.

    Thomas notices I have a belly now! Not really noticeable to others, but I’m getting excited that at least he can see it. My belly isn’t the only thing growing. My legs and butt are growing too. Now up to a size 6 jeans (usually around 3-4). They are snug. Buying my pants from Plato’s Closet (a 2nd hand store) so I don’t empty our bank account on new clothes. However, Zulily is an online store that I have become obsessed with. Their maternity clothes are too awesome to turn down. I need to prepare for my future belly right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Bra Size: 34 D. Getting tight. All my old bras are going into storage. Nothing fits!

    Hoping that I only gain baby weight and not fat. Is that even possible with the food I want to eat all the time? hmph. This isn’t so easy. I thought I would be the girl at the gym who eats all organic healthy food during my pregnancies. Forget it, pass me the bread and butter, I don’t want lettuce.

    *Haven’t felt any movements from the baby yet.

    18 Weeks Pregnant

    Finally felt the baby kick at 17 weeks! So cute. Feels like little bubbles in my belly, or tap tap. Right in my lower belly. Thomas felt it too (not strongly though, or maybe he’s just being nice).

    Feeling self conscious about my size. Arms are getting fat and getting stretch marks at the back on my legs. I have been slathering on stretch mark creams and oils (Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter & Oil). I have heard amazing reviews on these products. Unfortunately genetics have gotten the best of me. Hoping to avoid any on my belly or the top of my boobs. I really don’t want any! Wahhh.

    Bra size: 34 DD. Going up…these things need to stop growing.

    Praying I don’t grow out of my maternity clothes – we head off to New Zealand in 2 weeks. Nausea is gone so I’m so glad we are doing this trip before baby arrives. I will finally be getting some exercise hiking and walking daily.

    20-24 Weeks Pregnant

    21-22 weeks 23 weeks 24 weeks

    I am feeling great now! No gas! Yay! Best part of the pregnancy so far. Starting to get a bit of back pain (upper and lower back). I’m not tired anymore and have lots of energy. Zero nausea!

    I finally had someone notice that I am pregnant. My smile was from ear to ear when she asked how far along I am. I look pregnant!! Yay!

    Getting kicked lots now by the baby. I can feel the baby inside me pushing up against my belly with his or her back. So cool.

    No cravings really, besides having eggs for breakfast. I want them daily. I feel normal now. I have a regular appetite. I gave up coffee for the 1st trimester (didn’t even feel like it then), but I’m having 1/day now. How could I possibly say no to NZ and AU coffee?! Impossible. It’s incredible.

    My feet and ankles swelled up after the plane ride. Never experienced that before. I almost cried when I looked at them. My shoes hardly fit after the plane. It was a good excuse to ask Thomas for a foot massage. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I am peeing all the time, except during the night. I didn’t find that I had to pee a lot during the 1st trimester (like everyone says online and in the books), but more so in the 2nd trimester. Thankfully I’m not up during the night to pee. I think Thomas is pregnant too, he always has to get up to pee. It is true what they say – you are pregnant together lol.

    I broke a pregnancy rule: I had eggs benedict in Australia. I couldn’t help myself. It looked to die for, so I took the chance. I didn’t die, and neither did baby. All is good :)

    Weight: Approx 150 lbs (+20 lbs from pre pregnancy weight)…feeling like I’ve gained a lot already, but I’m not worrying about it.

      23 weeks

    25 Weeks Pregnant

    IMG_2676 IMG_2677

     I am really looking pregnant now (and loving it). Still have lots of energy! The baby is kicking so hard that I actually wakes me up (usually at 5:30am). I have a very active one inside of me. The baby kicks a lot higher now (in my rib area).

    Experiencing some heartburn (after eating pizza). Maybe that’s my body telling me not to eat it, lol. But it’s soooo good.

    Craving: Chocolate. It’s Christmas time, so stocking stuffers are being demolished.

    I can’t eat much in one sitting. I have to space my meals and eat more frequently now.

    Noticed some stretch marks on my sides near my hips. Ughh. They are small so I’m hoping they stay that way.

    20 week ultrasound results came it – baby has a small cyst on his or her brain. Nothing to worry about and quite normal apparently. At first I was terrified and wanted to cry. I listened to the midwife explain the details, and basically she said it will be gone by the time the baby is born. I feel a peace about it and know that God is taking care of us. I’m not worried.

    -Placenta is posterior. Initially I was told that it was at the front, but it’s actually at the back. This explains why I can feel the baby so strongly all of the time! I’m so glad because I love the feeling, even if it gets uncomfortable sometimes.

    -Sleep is uncomfortable on my back now. Before I was sleeping on my back all of the time (I felt fine so I went with it), but now it’s not so comfortable. Time to sleep on my side.

    -Getting bad upper back pain.

    26 Weeks Pregnant

    25-26 weeks

    Decided the shovel the driveway after a big snow storm. I was convinced I could do it – even though Thomas tried to talk me out of it. I did the entire driveway and felt great. Bent over to take off my boot and pulled my back right out. Chiropractor fixed me up and I feel fine now. He encouraged me to continue shoveling, but I think I will take my Husbands advice…for now ;).

    My appetite is increasing finally. Feeling hungry mostly at night. Haven’t had an increase in my appetite thus far.

    Baths are my new favourite thing. I love baths. I know I’m not “supposed to”, but I’m breaking another rule, and loving it.

    Thomas tickles the baby now and gets kicked back. It’s so cute. I love how Thomas is with the baby and I. Having his hand on my belly is the best feeling in the world. We have a new connection and love for each other, it’s beautiful.

    27 Weeks Pregnant

    Cravings: Nothing crazy – love avocados, eggs & night-time snack of honey greek yogurt with berries. Yum!

    Finally back in a gym routine. Going around 3x’s per week. Usually hop on a cardio machine for a good 30 minutes to start (nothing intense – mostly walking on an incline or on the elliptical machine). I also try to get in some full body resistance training. Squats – not easy and can hardly do my body weight. The baby likes to sit low and it’s very uncomfortable to even bend down. Mostly just listening to my body and doing what feels right. I actually like exercising while pregnant! You don’t have to work very hard to get a good workout in :).

    I notice that the baby likes to wake up when I wake up. I don’t usually wake up from the baby kicking (although it has happened), but when I wake up, within a few minutes I feel movements from the baby too.

    28 Weeks Pregnant

    28 weeks

    Craving: Avocado on toast with salt and pepper. Egg salad sandwich.

    Experienced my first leg cramp (charley horse) in the middle of the night. Woke up screaming in pain. It went away after I flexed my foot. Thank goodness I wasn’t in early labour – Thomas would have slept right through it. He was talking away in his sleep, laughing and having a grand ‘ol time while I was dying (ok, I wasn’t dying, but I thought my leg was ripping in half!).

    I get full pretty soon after I start eating. I am hungry often, but can’t eat the way I used to. Still hungry at night and always have my bedtime yogurt.

    On a great exercise routine – going around 4-5 days a week. I feel great while I’m there (besides my lovely over-sized t-shirts and tight pants I have to wear now). I definitely feel better going to the gym on a regular basis – it’s so easy to sit on the couch when you’re pregnant, but it’s important to keep moving!

    Pretty happy with my weight gain so far. At 152 lbs now (+22lbs since pre pregnancy weight). I would like to gain around 30 lbs total, but I’m not stressing over it. I feel good and baby is healthy. What more could I ask for?

    Stretch marks are fading now. I don’t know if it’s the cream or if my skin isn’t stretching much anymore. Here’s hoping!

    Baby moves a lot as usual. I can actually feel the limbs now. Such a strange feeling, but it is so much fun to feel a little foot or elbow. Baby seems to love squirming around my belly button (which still hasn’t popped out yet). Hope I get a cute outie soon!

    Felt the hiccups 2x’s. My baby doesn’t get them often. Not a strong feeling, but repetitive so I know what it is.

    Ps. the gas is back…

     

    That’s it for now! Check back for more pregnancy journal entries to come…


  9. Chicken and Vegetable Curry

    January 9, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    Chicken Vegetable Curry

    It’s been a while since I have posted a new recipe. Today is the day! I’m excited to bring you an amazing chicken curry that I made last night for dinner. Indian curry? Thai curry? I don’t know what kind of curry it is, all I know is I used a bunch of curry spices and my house still smells like curry this morning. Must be pretty flavorful, right? Oh yes. If you like curry, this dish will be a new household staple meal. A word of advice – don’t skip out on marinating the chicken. It’s an important step! I was able to open my cupboard and pull most items I usually have on hand. Score! No drive to the grocery store. Plus, it’s super cheap to make if you are on a budget after Christmas. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
    xo Mel.

    Chicken and Vegetable Curry
    Serves 4
    A delicious healthy chicken curry that uses traditional curry spices with a touch of heat.
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    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Ingredients
    1. 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
    2. 1 can of coconut milk (I used full fat, but you can also use light)
    3. 1 cup tomato sauce
    4. 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I cook my rice in the rest)
    5. 2 T. tomato paste
    6. 2 T. of coconut oil
    7. 3 garlic cloves, minced (plus extra for marinade)
    8. 1 inch piece of ginger, minced (plus extra for marinade)
    9. 1 orange, juice only (one half is used for marinade)
    10. 1 onion, chopped into wedges
    11. 1 bell pepper, chopped
    12. 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
    13. 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
    14. 2 T. yellow curry powder
    15. 2 tsp cumin
    16. 1 tsp turmeric
    17. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    18. pinch of red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of spice)
    19. salt and pepper, to taste
    Marinade
    1. 1/4 cup olive oil
    2. 1/4 cup of coconut milk (use the rest in the sauce)
    3. 1/2 orange, juice only
    4. 2 small garlic cloves (or one medium), chopped finely or minced
    5. 1 small piece of ginger (approx 1 tsp chopped finely or minced)
    Instructions
    1. Rinse and chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside.
    2. Prepare and mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken. Cover and put in the fridge overnight, or a minimum of 1 hour. Save the rest of the coconut milk in the fridge for later.
    3. If serving with brown rice, start cooking this first so it is ready in time
    4. Heat a large pan with coconut oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan once it is hot. Let the chicken sizzle and brown on the outside. The goal is not to fully cook the chicken. Remove from the pan once browned and cover with foil to keep warm.
    5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the vegetables, garlic and ginger to the pan. Add more oil if needed. Stir in all of the spices and let it cook until onions are translucent.
    6. Add all remaining liquid, tomato paste and orange juice into the pan. Let simmer covered on low for around 10 minutes, or until sweet potato is soft. Add chicken and simmer gently until it is cooked through (5 minutes or so).
    Notes
    1. Tastes great served over rice!
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/


  10. I’m Back!

    January 3, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    Hey Everyone!

    I can’t believe my last post was in October. Ahh! It’s been a while hasn’t it?! Well, good news – I’m back in action. I don’t want to write an entire post on the past couple months, but I will give you a snapshot into our latest adventures and what we have been up to:

    Visited LA on our way to NZ for a “Babymoon” vacation:

    IMG_0322

    Saw the beauty at the other side of the world in New Zealand:

    DSC_0459 DSC_0402 DSC_0280 DSC_0250 DSC_0081

    Experienced the city life in Australia for our final week away:

    IMG_2623 IMG_2656

    And if you haven’t noticed, our little munchkin is busy growing in my belly (I am 26 weeks now):

    IMG_2677 IMG_2676

    Boy or girl, we won’t know until April, but we are so so excited. Now it’s time to prepare for baby to arrive!

    I haven’t done much cooking since November so I don’t really have any new recipes up my sleeve to share…yet. This coming week I am going to get back to the kitchen and share a brand new recipe with you. Stay tuned all you food lovers, it’s coming!

    xo Mel.