Turkey, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Chili

Paleo Whole30 Turkey, Sweet potato, and red pepper chili

The first time I made this chili we were visiting my family. My sister was over at my parents house with her girls, who were playing sweetly with my little baby. She got herself a bowl of chili and sat down in the living room in a chair that looks out on the back yard. It was raining and gray outside, one of those days that makes you want to burrow and read (and eat). She stayed there while the girls played and the rest of us visited, looking absolutely serene, and finally I asked her what she was thinking about. She said “this chili is so good.” YES! It’s always a win to allow another mother a moment of quiet peace and feed her something delicious and good for her.

My sister does not follow a paleo diet, but she loved this. She even asked for the recipe and made it that same weekend! My husband loves it, too. When I was making the batch that is pictured above, he had been saying for days “I’m so excited for you to make the chili!” This has become THE chili for us. It is so, so good. Different enough from classic chili to be a totally new experience, but with the very same comforting elements. The sweet potato and red pepper paired with the apple cider vinegar give it a brightness that classic chili doesn’t have. And of course it’s paleo, so no beans here. If you do eat legumes, chickpeas would be lovely in this.

**This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything through these links I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.**

Why is it that so many of the things we crave are bad for our health?  That’s one of the reasons I can talk about the Whole30 program until the cows come home. For me and my husband, it totally changed our life. I was never one to eat a lot of bad food, but when I got pregnant, everything made me sick except carbs basically. So I ate a lot of them. Now I know that I could have managed the sickness differently with nutrition. My husband had some bad food habits that had been around for years.  Not even getting into everything else it did for us, the Whole30 completely changed the way we look at eating. Andrew now happily gobbles up an egg scramble and doesn’t miss the toast. He eats a big salad with a can of tuna on top and doesn’t wonder where his ‘real’ dinner is. And in this case, we both dive into this amazing chili without giving cheese a second thought. I could talk for hours about Whole30. That’s one of the reasons why I started this blog, so get ready!

Okay back to the chili. All you really have to do is brown the meat, chop everything and toss it into the pot- thats where the magic happens! It’s great if it cooks for an hour, it’s out of this world if it cooks for 3 hours, and don’t even get me started on the leftovers. Make this on a late weekend morning and eat it all day long. Let me know if you make this and what you think! Enjoy!

XOXO,

Mary

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Turkey, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Chili

Prep Time- 20 minutes       Cook Time- 1hour-all day


Ingredients:

  • 2lbs. ground turkey
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow onion(s)
  • 1 head garlic (yes, the whole thing!)
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 28oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3 cups chicken stock or bone broth
  • 2T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups (or as much as you want!) frozen spinach
  • 3T chili powder, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, add olive oil and heat to medium.
  2. Add ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon so it crumbles and browns.
  3. Dice onion and add to turkey while it’s browning.
  4. While the turkey and onions cook, mince garlic and add to pot.
  5. Peel* and dice your sweet potatoes and carrots into bite sized chunks, add to cooked turkey.
  6. Remove seeds and dice red peppers, add. Cook for about 5 minutes, until veggies are beginning to soften.
  7. Add diced tomatoes (don’t drain!), chicken stock, and ACV. Add spinach and stir until it thaws and incorporates.
  8. Season with chili powder and S&P to taste, and simmer until veggies are cooked and at least 1 hour, but it gets better the longer it cooks!
  9. Serve with an extra shake of salt & pepper and sliced avocado. Enjoy!

*You can skip peeling if you want to get extra nutrients from the carrot and sweet potato skins- it’s a matter of preference.

Nine Nursing Essentials To Help You Meet Your Breastfeeding Goals

Breastfeeding Essentials

So, really all you need to breastfeed are lactating breasts and a baby- but honestly it is a HUGE help to have some products to make it easier on you. Those newborn months of breastfeeding are so sweet and special. I remember staring at my newborn baby girl in awe (and also occasionally binge-watching Big Love and Friday Night Lights) for hours while she nursed. Yes, hours. Newborns love to nurse. And they need to. Often. Sometimes they finish nursing on both sides and are ready to start all over again, so it’s really important that you feel comfortable and “all set” when you spend most of your days and nights feeding your new little squish. Breastfeeding a newborn is amazing, but also really hard. I am planning to write a more in depth post about our breastfeeding journey  (7 months and going strong!) but I thought I could make a list of the things that were most helpful in the beginning, and many that I continue to use each day.

**This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything through these links I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.**

1. A Good Nursing Pillow

This really has been an essential. I use it nearly every time she nurses except when we are lying in bed. I can cradle her comfortably in my arms on top of it, or I can balance it on the arms of the recliner and be hands free to eat a snack! We have been very happy with the Boppy pillow, but next time around I am definitely going to get the My Brest Friend– it has some features that would be super helpful like a strap, a phone pocket and a water bottle pocket.

2. Nipple Cream

Your nipples will thank you for this. Breastfeeding is not supposed to be painful, but for that to happen, a lot of things have to go right. For the times things *don’t* go right and you have milk blisters or cracks or are just so sore from cluster feeding, THIS WILL HELP. It’s important to use something that is safe for baby so you don’t have to remember to wash it off before nursing. This one works great and is pretty inexpensive. My personal favorite is the Motherlove nipple cream. It is lanolin free and has calendula to help with pain. Other things that help with pain are warm damp towels applied between nursing sessions, or if you’re having a particularly hard time, icing your nipples before nursing will numb it just a little bit. If this goes on for more than a day or two, make sure you get in touch with your doctor or lactation consultant.

3. Nursing Tanks and bras 

These are amazing! The ultimate convenience. Most of the tanks come with built in bras anyway, so its a two-for-one! I love using the ‘two shirt method’ for nursing outside the home or when visitors are around. Pull up your shirt and unclip your nursing tank- no need to use a cover even if you usually choose to. These and these are good quality for the price! If you don’t mind spending a little more, Motherhood Maternity has some very high quality nursing tanks. I got one on sale (the one I am wearing in the photo below) and it is still in great shape after months of being worn a lot!

4. Nursing Pads

These are a MUST! Once your milk comes in, theres no stopping it! And when it comes out on one side, its coming out on the other side. Thankfully a friend told me this and suggested I get some nursing pads. I had no idea milk would come out on both sides at once! You can use either disposable nursing pads or washable ones. I found that it was nice to have both options- they are each helpful in their own way. I used these bamboo nursing pads every day for the first few months. I also keep these disposable ones on hand and have used them many, many times. It’s really a matter of preference (and your outfit).

5. Nipple Shields

Ohhh, the controversial nipple shield. Yes, sometimes women are handed nipple shields in the hospital without having been given proper instruction and guidance on how to breastfeed, and that is not okay. But some women (including me) are not able to latch a newborn without one. If it wasn’t for nipple shields, I would not have succeeded in breastfeeding. I had to use one at every feeding for the first four months. It was hard and I will write about it in more detail when I do a breastfeeding journey post, but even though I wished so much that I didn’t need it, it really did allow me to breastfeed until baby and I figured out how to nurse without it. They can also be useful if you are really engorged (this can happen a lot when your milk comes in and all of those weeks until your supply regulates). Medela and Lansinoh both have good options with different sizes.

6. Haakaa Pump

These things are seriously amazing! Who knew this little silicone suction thing could be SO helpful?! Remember when I told you that your milk would come out on both sides at once? You just put this on the side that you are not nursing on and it catches your let down so you can start your freezer stash or have baby’s dad practice giving a bottle, all without breaking out your electric breast pump! I recommend this one because it comes with a little stopper so you can be sure your milk doesn’t spill when it inevitably gets tipped over. I used my Haakaa a LOT during the first three months of breastfeeding.

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Here I am with baby girl at 13 days old. Looks like she’s in a milk coma! Newborns are such miracles!

7. Giant Cup With Straw

I use mine every single day and night, and I have since I was in the labor room. Breastfeeding makes you incredibly thirsty and it is so important for you to stay hydrated in order to make milk and keep yourself healthy. Using a big cup is great because you will tend to drink a lot at once, especially during nursing sessions. And the straw is great because you can sneak sips without having to move your arms by tipping up a water bottle and distracting your sleepy-eyed babe.

8. Healthy Snacks

If you’re ever home alone with your newborn, you should have a few snacks set up around your nursing station that you can leave out and eat with one hand. Almonds or your nut of choice, additive and sugar free jerky, lactation bites (I will post a recipe soon!) or an apple or banana. Anything to keep you from that hunger while you’re nap-trapped! Try to eat nutritionally dense snacks that won’t leave you hungry or jittery.

9. Swaddles and Burp Cloths

I am a huge fan of using muslin swaddle blankets for swaddling (obviously) and for snuggling. They are so light but still warm, and you can double up without baby overheating. We use this brand, and let me tell you, they are well worth the price. The quality is outstanding and I wouldn’t be surprised if they last through years and years of everyday use. We still use them every day, even though the swaddle was ditched at about 3 weeks old around here-our baby likes to sleep in the touchdown position <3. We got lucky and had a baby who very rarely spits up. But when she does, it’s nice to have a burp cloth near, (these pre-folds work great, and of course muslin is always nice) otherwise you will find yourself using your shirtsleeve or a clean blanket to clean off a tiny chin- I really do appreciate having a designated spit up cloth. It keeps baby and our things cleaner, longer. Also, you can use burp cloths or swaddles to cocoon your baby when visitors come! If a visitor asks to hold your baby, if you are comfortable with it, (after washing their hands, of course!), give them a burp cloth or swaddle to put against their clothing so baby is against something you know is clean and safe. You can’t be too careful with that sweet soft skin and developing immune system.

All of these things will make your breastfeeding journey more comfortable and relaxed. But everyone is different, and you will quickly figure out what the necessities are for you and your sweet little nursling. Are you already on your breastfeeding journey? What things have been necessities for you? Happy feeding!

XOXO,

Mary

Paleo Tuna Casserole with Butternut Squash Pappardelle

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Oh my gosh. This casserole was out of this world. You should probably stop what you’re doing and start making noodles out of that butternut squash that has been sitting on your counter for two weeks. This tastes like an honest-to-goodness midwest tuna noodle casserole-without making you feel like you have a rock in your stomach after you eat it. It is so filling, but not at all heavy! Loaded with beautiful veggies and all kinds of good-for-you ingredients, this is definitely going to be a staple at our house. Not to mention that it’s a dream for fall days when all you want is something warm and comforting.

**This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything through these links I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.**

My teeny tiny helper and I danced to the Dinosaur Stomp while I made the squash noodles. Well, I danced and she pounded her high chair tray with a St. Joseph block and a rattle. I was prepared for it to be difficult to make noodles from a raw winter squash, but the butternut quash was softer than I expected and we made quick work of it. Pappardelle is a wide noodle, like an extra large fettuccini. You could also cut the squash into large lengthwise chunks and spiralize it, but these big noodles are like beautiful Autumn confetti. Here’s what the squash looked like all noodle-ified.

butternut squash pappardelle

I left the squash whole and used a Y peeler to shave little ribbons around it until I had reached the seeds, then continued around the top part of the squash until I had almost the whole thing in noodle form. While I made the squash noodles, I sautéed the onion, mushroom, and kale in a skillet. I added the cans of tuna and all other remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl and stirred in the sautéed veggies, then mixed it all in with the squash noodles and baked it. I didn’t want the squash to be mushy, so I took it out when the noodles still had the tiniest bit of crunch, but that is a matter of preference. Let me know if  you make this and what you think!

Tuna Casserole with Butternut Squash Pappardelle

XOXO,

Mary


Paleo Tuna Casserole with Butternut Squash Pappardelle


Prep Time-15 minutes          Cook Time- 45 minutes


Ingredients:

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Chop onion, mushrooms, and kale and sauté in a skillet until onion is translucent and liquid is absorbed.
  • While veggies are cooking, rinse your squash and use your Y peeler to remove the outside skin. Once the skin is off, keep peeling ribbons of squash until you have made as many as you can.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine tuna with all remaining ingredients.
  • Add sautéed veggie mixture to tuna, and combine in a casserole dish with squash pappardelle.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until squash noodles reach desired doneness.

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Paleo Quiche

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Here we go! First recipe post ever on The Merry Tomato. I didn’t actually plan for this to be the first recipe post, but it’s what I ended up making for dinner the other night and it was so good. So of course I want to share it with you! I have tried making paleo/whole30 quiche before this, but they never turned out quite the way I wanted. Always a little bit too much like a plain old egg bake. Which I love, believe me! But there is something special and a little bit fancy about a quiche made properly, even if it is one of the easiest things in the world.

**This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything through these links I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.**

In its most basic form, quiche is eggs and milk whisked together and baked in a crust. It becomes a delicious treat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack 🙂 The key is to have the correct ratio of egg to liquid. For this recipe, I used canned full-fat coconut milk. It is my go-to for most things these days. It is delicious, a great source of healthy fat, and so versatile! We use and love this brand, but any Whole30 compliant canned coconut milk will do.

For the crust, I used one of my favorite things in this world… potatoes! I know some people who follow a paleo diet don’t eat white potatoes, but we have not noticed any sensitivities due to them (thank goodness), so they are part of our diet. You could probably sub sweet potatoes for the crust if you don’t eat white potatoes. I started by peeling two medium potatoes and slicing them thinly. I mixed the sliced potatoes with olive oil, salt, and a little bit of coconut flour to make them stick. I arranged the potatoes in a 9 inch pie dish  so that the whole bottom and sides were covered.

We love quiche at our house. It’s easy and cheap and so versatile. Even the baby loved this! I used onion, mushroom, and spinach for the veggies, but you can use whatever you have on hand or whatever sounds good. Some other combinations that would be tasty are chicken and broccoli, asparagus and smoked salmon, or bacon and brussels sprouts. I sautéed the veggies until they were cooked and the liquid was mostly absorbed from them. Then I added them to the egg and coconut milk mixture, poured it into the crust, and popped it in the oven! That’s it! Please comment and let me know if you tried this recipe and what you used as far as fillings- I would love to try some different ideas, too! Enjoy!

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Veggie Loaded Paleo Quiche


Prep Time- 10 min            Cook Time- 60 min


Ingredients:

Crust-

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and washed
  • 2T coconut flour, divided
  • 1T + 2t olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Filling-

  • 5 cage-free eggs
  • 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 2T filtered water
  • 1T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • 1/2 large yellow onion or 1 small onion
  • 1 8oz can mushrooms or 2 cups fresh mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. grease pie dish with 2t olive oil
  2. slice peeled potatoes into rounds, about 1/8 of an inch thick. In a mixing bowl, mix together sliced potatoes, olive oil, 1T coconut flour, and salt & pepper, then arrange in your greased pie dish so as much surface as possible is covered
  3. sprinkle remaining coconut flour over crust
  4. bake crust at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and beginning to brown
  5. while crust is baking, sauté veggies in a skillet until cooked through and liquid is gone. season to taste.
  6. in a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, ACV, water, and salt & pepper, then add cooked veggies.
  7. pour egg & veggie mixture into cooked crust and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Quiche is done when the outside is set and the center jiggles just a bit.

XOXO,

The Merry Tomato

5 Things To Do Before Your First Whole30

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My husband and I have been living the Whole30 lifestyle for six months now. WOW did that go fast! Probably because we had a baby nearly seven months ago. Everyone told us to get ready for time to start flying. They were right. I mentioned in my previous post that we did a lot of preparation before beginning our first round of Whole30. Well, I did a lot of preparation. Andrew was content to let me make a plan for us, and I was happy to! I love planning for things like this, especially when food is involved. I read a ton and took lots of notes. Here are the things I believe were most helpful to us as we completed round one- I hope they might be useful to you, too!

**This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything through these links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.**

1. Educate Yourself

Don’t rush into this. Take the time to learn the rules of the program. And then learn WHY it works the way it does. We read The Whole30 book before we began and referenced it nearly every day of our first round. Not only does this book explain the program clearly and efficiently,  it also has delicious recipes to get you started and carry you through (can you say Whole30 mayo… yum). If you, like me, are into reading books about nutrition, I definitely recommend picking up It Starts With Food. You will learn all sorts of thrilling information about seemingly innocuous food choices that may actually be harming your body and mind. It’s riveting.

2. Plan Your Meals

I cannot even tell you how many hours I spent on Pinterest, newborn happily nursing away,  reading Whole30 recipes and making a giant grocery list. This part can be overwhelming if you are not one to plan meals. Do it anyway. Otherwise, you will stand at the fridge on Day 6 and wonder how on earth you will make dinner from some limp lettuce and a long forgotten bell pepper. And then you will want to order pizza and we all know what pizza cravings can do to us. Or is that just me? When planning your meals, make sure you buy enough food! You are not meant to go hungry. I recommend finding some recipes that are simple and quick, and making enough for leftovers. Make a few fancy recipes if you like to spend time cooking, but have some go-to meals that are always on hand. For us, this was (still is) a sheet pan of roasted veggies, some kind of protein, and salad greens. We eat this several nights a week and we are not even a little bit tired of it.

3. Prepare Emotionally

I am genuinely curious to know if anyone else was as fretful about drinking black coffee as I was in the days leading up to Round One. It turned out to be fine, by the way. I don’t sweeten my coffee anymore at all- but I do add canned coconut milk and it’s delightful. What I mean by preparing emotionally is that a lot of us have some kind of attachment to certain foods/food habits that may not be good for us (that likely will not be Whole30 compliant) and giving up those foods/habits isn’t easy. But if you actually reflect on the program guidelines and what that will mean to you personally as far as changing your everyday eating habits, you will not be shocked when you crave something and realize you can’t have it. A big part of this is throwing away everything in your kitchen that is not Whole30 approved before Day 1. You are getting ready for the battle, so to speak.

4. Have Some Fun With New Food

We found a Whole30 compliant salad dressing at Costco and it was *literally* the best thing I have ever tasted on lettuce. We enjoy it so much! Find a few specialty items like these that sound tasty to you and make you look forward to trying new things within Whole30 compliance.

5. Talk To Someone

Andrew and I had a great conversation about this Whole30 before we began. We both shared what we were excited about, what we were nervous about, and which aspects we anticipated as being the most difficult. It gave us a chance to voice any anxieties and allowed us to really be a support to each other. If you do the program with your spouse I would definitely recommend having this conversation! Whether or not anyone is joining you in the program, tell your support system that you are doing this. Just knowing that someone else knows is a great motivator for when you feel like quitting.

Okay, there you have it! These are the five things that really helped us to succeed when we began our Whole30 journey. Have you done a Whole30? What was most helpful to you? I would love to hear about it!

Whole30 Round One Results

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If you read my last post, I detailed how I came to the decision to do a Whole30 for the first time at seven weeks postpartum. My husband Andrew decided to participate in the program with me, which was really exciting. Andrew had been trying to lose weight for years, and like so many others, would find something that worked short term but never managed to keep weight off or lose everything he needed to be healthy. We were both determined to put our all into this Whole30 and see what happened. We did a lot to prepare, which I will detail in my next post.

**This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything through these links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.**

What we hoped for…

Andrew’s goal for the first round was to really make some progress in reversing years of less than healthy habits and mindsets surrounding food. My goal was to work on healing from a pregnancy and a really difficult delivery both physically and emotionally, and we both wanted to lose weight.

What we feared…

The Whole30 book was so helpful and encouraging as we prepared for the program, especially Melissa’s ‘Tough Love’- but a change that big is bound to bring up some anxieties, and in this case, I think it was all part of the process in healing from misunderstandings about food and what it should mean to us. I was not looking forward to drinking unsweetened coffee and giving up cheese and beans. Andrew was worried that he would be hungry and not have anything good to eat for a month. Well, we had no idea what was coming for us.

What actually happened…

I am not saying that the Whole30 is easy- it certainly has its challenges that vary day by day. But we were SO ready that we didn’t ever question it. We followed the rules happily, gratefully even, and it was so worth it. First I’ll share some of our non-scale victories:

  • We slept very well (even with a tiny baby)
  • We had energy during the day (even with a tiny baby)
  • Our (especially my) moods were not unpredictable and we felt calm more often than not
  • Andrew stopped snoring 🙂
  • We both stopped having any kind of joint pain
  • We both began to feel more self confidence
  • My skin irritations completely disappeared
  • I had a plentiful milk supply for my little nursling

And then there’s the weight loss. Those first 30 days, I lost 12 pounds and Andrew lost 14 pounds. We were feeling so good that we decided to keep up the Whole30 lifestyle for another round at least! With a little bit of food freedom here and there, we have been living a Whole30 lifestyle since June 1st 2018. Andrew has lost nearly 40 pounds (and counting!) and I weigh what I did when we got married and can fit into my clothes. (woot woot!) Today, November 1st, we are starting a whole21- Thanksgiving is on the 22nd of this month and we are going to have some Paleo treats 🙂

What we learned…

I plan on being dairy free indefinitely, which I NEVER thought I would say. But my body functions much better without it. I also plan to eat very little grains and sugar because of the way they affect my body. Andrew has not shown sensitivities as extreme as mine, but it is obvious that the Whole30 way of eating is working for him- his skin looks awesome, his beard is amazing, and he just keeps losing weight! I am so proud of him and proud of us for doing this now and striving to become happier and healthier every day for each other and ourselves.

Have you done a Whole30 or something like it that as totally changed your life? I would love to hear about it!

My Decision to do a Breastfeeding Whole30

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I first heard about the Whole30 program from a dear friend of mine who was about to begin her second round. At the time, I was pregnant with my little princess and not in a great place as far as healthy eating, but that is a story for another post. When my friend told me the rules and guidelines for the Whole30, I thought she sounded like a crazy lady to willingly participate in such a thing. I was personally offended by the fact that you have to give up so many food groups, beans and dairy especially. How can anyone do that?! Doesn’t everyone need cheese on each and every meal?

Fast forward a few months later- I am curious and I ask to borrow the Whole30 book. I looked through it and was impressed, but not ready to let go of my bean burritos or my cheesy ways. Fast forward again- I give birth to my beautiful daughter and realize that my body really needs nutrient dense foods in order to survive life breastfeeding a newborn. If you have never breastfed a newborn, let me tell you about the hunger. It is WAY beyond any hunger you feel during pregnancy. This is a deep, gnawing hunger, the likes of which I suspect you would feel if you were lost in the woods for days with no supplies. The kind of hunger that makes your husbands arm look almost appetizing during the 3am feeding. It never did come to that, though, because my husband is a rockstar and served me beautiful plates filled with deli meat, cheese, fruit, veggies, and other wonderful things at all hours during those early nights.

So I am feeling this incredible hunger almost constantly even though I am eating ALL THE TIME. I made tons of freezer meals, most of which contained pasta and dairy, because yum, and also because its cheap and why shouldn’t I delight in noodles after accomplishing such a task as childbirth? In all seriousness though, my body was experiencing some real nutrient depletion by the time we started our first round of Whole30 when baby girl was 7 weeks old, not to mention that I was the heaviest I have ever been (except pregnancy) and feeling really uncomfortable in my own skin. I remember trying clothes on one Sunday morning before mass and ending up in a puddle of tears because some of the maternity clothes didn’t even fit my new giant milk filled boobs and not-so-tiny-anymore hips. Yes I wanted to lose weight. I also wanted to believe the promise of feeling better all around, and figuring out exactly what my body needs to function best, especially while healing from the pregnancy and birth and sustaining my little nursling. The all-encompassing reason, though, was for my health in body and mind. I can’t wait to share my results with you 🙂