Tag: personal

Baby’s First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

I’ve been doing lots of research over the past few months in order to prepare for Nico’s transition into eating solid food. Nico is still about 98% breastmilk fed. He hasn’t been super into solids, but to me, that’s ok because I love nursing him! I’ve read a few books on the topic and consulted with my nutritionist, Margaret Floyd. I love her approach as it is filled with nutrient-dense, real food and also very practical. Margaret maneuvered through my autoimmune disease and has successfully helped me with the daunting task of introducing my Nico to solid foods

One of the first foods she recommends is bone broth. Bone broth, considered around the world as a health tonic, has been used for centuries as a healing food. As real food expert Nina Planck has stated, “it is digestible, nutritious and tasty. Broth is perfect for babies (Real Food for Mother and Babies, 2009).”

I adapted this recipe from my nutritionist Margaret’s original recipe. Margaret wrote her basic approach to introducing solid food here, and why bone broth is a great choice for babies!  Read up on it, and then cook up a pot of bone broth for you or baby!

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby’s First Bone Broth


 

Ingredients:

chicken bones, including the ligaments and joints (be sure to use bones from organic, pastured raised chickens)

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

filtered water


 

Directions:

Put the bones, vinegar, and salt into the stock pot. Cover with filtered water.

Bring to a boil and skim any foam off the top. The foam is just any impurities coming out of the bones. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t.

Reduce the heat on your stove to the lowest possible and gently simmer your broth for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours. The rule of thumb is the bigger the bones, the longer you need to simmer your broth. Make sure not to cook the broth at too high a temperature! It will denature some of the proteins and create natural MSG. We put the stove at the lowest temperature and just leave it for a couple of days.Strain out the bones and veggies, and either use

Strain out the bones and veggies, then either use immediately or store in a big glass jar in your fridge. It can last for a week.

The First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

The last seven months have been an absolute joy! Nico is a bright light in our lives and a constant reminder of the goodness and love new life brings. I wanted to share a bit about my recent transition from life as a wife and business owner into life as a new mom, wife, and business owner, and the balancing act therein.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Here’s a fun little background story: When my husband was a little boy, he told his mom she had an easy job. She was a stay at home mom with three boys, all close in age. Although she was slightly offended by Nick’s comment, she knew he would see for himself in the years to come. Boy, has he! We have now both witnessed the time and commitment babies bring.

If I’ve learned one thing during this journey, it is balance. Being a parent is a full-time job. I respect all of you who are participating in this noble duty. Add in the day job, and that’s another story. If I want to enjoy being a mother and a good partner to my husband while running a business, I’m learning that I need to seek balance every day in my life. My mentor once told me, ‘Balance does not come in a day, but over time.’ If Nick and I make daily choices to support a more balanced approach to life, we will eventually be in a beautifully balanced life.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Although days are filled with baby, meetings, house chores, emails and lots of baking for Sweet Laurel, I try to do at least one thing every day that’s for pure joy. For me, these activities include going for a walk, taking a yoga class or going in a sauna. I also get a lot of joy out of making dinner for my husband and I, which is a daily priority. I know this about myself and have learned to schedule my day accordingly. Obviously, there are days when this just can’t happen because of schedules, etc., but like I said, we strive for balance over time.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Nico has reminded me to stop and enjoy moments. When I am working at home and he is crawling around laughing at random things in the house, occasionally I will drop everything and just hang out with him for a bit. After all, he’s only going to be a precious baby for so long. I wanted to share these gorgeous family photos by my talented friend Elsie Dardon. She’s helping Nick and I document life with our Sweet Nico.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Enjoy these photos, and feel free to give me some advice about the motherhood balancing act or share your stories with me!

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Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Beautycounter is my go-to for all things safe beauty. I don’t wear a ton of make up, but when I do, everything I wear is from Beautycounter.  I am happy to say Beautycounter is a company we’ve worked with regularly at Sweet Laurel. They have partnered with us at events, hosted workshops with us and shared our recipes!

I trust their products, and can confidently wear them without worrying about toxic chemicals seeping through my pores. Recently, I’ve re-thought everything I put on my face and body because I’ve been pregnant and breastfeeding for the past year. Make up and beauty products tend to have ingredients that are highly toxic, and unfortunately the United States does not monitor what companies put into their products. For example, the European Union has banned 1,400 chemicals from use in beauty products. That means beauty and make up products are far safer in Europe then in America! Fortunately, Beautycounter has come to the scene here in the states. Their goal is to create beauty products that are safe to use, sans chemicals, with high quality, long lasting appeal. As you can see, I love Beautycounter and what they stand for.

I was overjoyed last year when I discovered Beautycounter launched a baby line! I got my hands on a couple of their products, and have already used them on Nico! Nico has sensitive skin, so I’m super careful with what I use for soap, lotion, etc. Fortunately, the products have worked great for Nico, and we both love using them!

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

I highly recommend the diaper rash cream and gentle all over wash. They also have this roomy diaper bag! I don’t know about you, but for me, I always need more room in my diaper bag. This one sure does the trick!

Something else I love about Beautycounter is how spot on their packaging is. Always simple, chic and beautiful. They nailed it! I hope you are able to get your hands on Beautycounter soon! I know you (and your baby) will be glad you did. xo, Laurel

Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding \\ Sweet Laurel

 

 

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School is back in session, and it is time for a quick and easy breakfast classic. Our favorite chia seed pudding is simple and nutritious. We start with delicious and organic coconut cream. Coconut cream is the solid coconut fat that firm up at the top of canned coconut milk. You can find canned Coconut Cream at grocery stores now with higher percentages of fat, and lower percentages of coconut milk, yielding more creamy deliciousness. If you cannot find coconut cream, feel free to use good canned coconut milk, with no additives. Simply scoop the solids from the top of the can for your use in this recipe.

And back to the chia seed pudding… I said it was simple, and I mean it’s simple! We mix the coconut cream with chia, slightly mashed berries, raw honey and lemon juice to create a satisfying and delightful breakfast or even a special after dinner treat!

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Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2

1 cup refrigerated coconut cream* (Lets Do Organic and Trader Joe’s both have delicious organic canned Coconut Creams)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries, lightly smashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients until well mixed. Pour into two 4 ounce glass jars and cover with lid. Store in fridge overnight. Serve with extra berries. Enjoy within 3 days.

* I always keep my coconut cream in the refrigerator. This is because I make a lot of coconut whipped cream and coconut yogurt. These recipes work better when the coconut is solid and not liquid. Refrigerating coconut milk causes the fat to rise to the top of the can and solidify.

What’s In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

I love this interview I did with The Chalkboard Mag! They took a look in my fridge and I got to share a little about my love of all things Sweet Laurel! One thing that’s apparent here, is that I’m a veggie lover! Yes, I know Sweet Laurel is all about sweets, but let me introduce you to savory Laurel! I sure eat my fair share of veggies. If you have any questions about some of my go – to’s, leave them in the comments! xo, Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

FOOD PHILOSOPHY IN ONE SENTENCE:

Eat wholesome yet delicious food every day.


 

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:

Kale, coconut, chocolate, and crudité.


 

7 RECIPE STAPLES ALWAYS ON HAND:

For my recipes, pretty much any of them can be made if you have almond flour, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, coconut milk, and cacao.


 

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES:

I am into accessible veggies: half an avocado, cut up celery, cucumber, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. I am not a big snacker, but I am a big vegetable eater!


 

FAVE CONDIMENTS:

Our all-time favorite condiment is Sweet Laurel vegan caramel! Other condiments on the savory side I enjoy are Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and Kerrygold butter. Yes, butter. I developed a strong craving for it during my pregnancy, and I’ve been tolerating it well, so I enjoy it in moderation.


 

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER:

When I cook, I love to use some delicious savory staples like garlic, Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar and fun things like cayenne pepper. When I bake, a balance of moisture enriching, yet nutrient-dense ingredients make everything taste better. I work with five core ingredients at Sweet Laurel: almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, and Himalayan pink salt. These are my star ingredients and the secret to a delicious grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free treat that tastes delicious!


 

GO-TO PROTEINS:

Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken, turkey, and beef.


 

BEST BARGAIN:

I buy in bulk whenever I can through health food stores and co-ops. This is great for spices, organic nuts and other frequently used items and pricier items.


 

BEST LABEL-READING TIP:

I always check for whole-food ingredients. If the foods originate from earth and are used in their natural form, I’m good with them.


 

FAVE VEGGIE + WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT:

This changes, but currently I’m obsessed with making kale chips in the oven. It takes just a few minutes, and my salty, crunchy craving is usually taken care of shortly thereafter.


 

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES:

Sweet Laurel vanilla extract. We make our own, grain- and gluten-free, with tequila!


 

CRAZIEST THING I BUY:

The $30 coconut yogurt. Jam packed with probiotics, a little goes a long way. I’m definitely addicted.


 

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES:

I indulge in 100% cacao from Chocovivo every day. It is not a sweet per se, but an indulgence for sure. Made from cacao beans and stone ground into chocolate right here in Los Angeles.


 

DAIRY OR NON-DAIRY FAVES:

Like I said, hooked on coconut yogurt.


 

SKIP LABELS THAT READ:

‘High-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘cane sugar,’ etc.


 

FAVORITE SPLURGE:

I love supporting small food businesses. From time to time I will go to natural food stores and just pick up a few random food products, just to try them out!


 

FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING:

I whip up my snickerdoodles! Just five ingredients and delicious.


 

FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:

Erewhon Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres.


 

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE:

My brownies. Topped with our vegan caramel, you’re instantly in dessert heaven.


 

BEST FOOD MEMORY:

Making banana bread with my mom when I was five or six. I remember tasting the batter and being instantly hooked!

 

(Photo credit: Elsie Dardon)

Acai Bowls \\ Sweet Laurel

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Acai Bowls for Two

Everyone loves a good acai bowl. Unfortunately, I’m usually quite disappointed when I order acai at restaurants because they’re usually WAY TOO SWEET for me, and loaded with  added sugar. I love making my own, because I get to control the sweet factor. These beautiful bowls are sweetened with frozen banana, and optional raw honey. Top your bowls with favorite fruits. Get creative, they are fun to make!

Serves 2

100 gram packet unsweetened acai

1 frozen banana (make sure your banana is unpeeled before you freeze it)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 tablespoon raw honey

Garnish:

Berries

Mango slices

Peach Slices

Shredded coconut or fresh cut coconut

Almonds

Blend acai, frozen banana, vanilla extract and optional honey together on high in a blender. Top with fruit of choice. For garnish, I like to cut my mango slices into fun shapes. You can also freeze or fresh berries for a few moments to add a nice frozen glow to your bowl!

My Mother’s Day Miracle \\ Sweet Laurel

Processed with VSCO with 4 presetThis year has been a whirlwind. Everyday, I take a moment to think about how blessed I am, and today is no exception. I want to share the most beautiful thing that happened to me this year, as it has everything to do with what we are trying to accomplish here at Sweet Laurel. Sweet Laurel is dedicated to providing beauty and health to all through our cakes, recipes, educational workshops and our upcoming cookbook (available Spring 2018!).

If you were to tell me last May that in one year I would have a 2 1/2 month old baby sleeping next to me in bed as I type this, I would have thought you were a bit crazy. You see, the last four years had been a struggle to get my thyroid, digestive system, and reproductive system back on line. They all stopped functioning properly when I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease in 2012. My body screamed at me to stop, rest and heal up through various physical signs, one of them being I had stopped ovulating. I eventually listened, and took a year off to heal, and and in 2015 I launched Sweet Laurel as a result of the incredible results I felt changing my lifestyle and diet in order to allowing healing to take place.

Last May, one year ago to date, I had a call with my nutritionist about my recent hormonal blood work. As she discussed the details of my hormone panel, the results were not so hot and I started to cry. Over the last few years, I’ve made my health a priority. Thankfully, my thyroid and digestive system were back to normal, but my reproductive system just wasn’t kicking into gear. I felt like I had tried everything, which is why the news from my nutritionist was so disparaging. I took a deep breath between tears and tried to accept the fact that a baby and my complete healing were just not in the cards for me quite yet.

Flash forward a few weeks. My husband Nick came home from work around 6pm and I was laid out on my back in bed. This is very abnormal for me, as I am quite a busy bee, especially around the dinner time hour. My favorite thing to do is make dinner for Nick every night so that’s usually what I am doing when he comes home. Nick immediately knew something was wrong when he saw me in bed so he started peppering me with questions. I told him I was just really tired, and I had been at the Sweet Laurel kitchen all day on my feet, which is why I was in bed. “I think you should take a pregnancy test,” Nick said. Even though I could barely get out of bed at this point, I managed to go the bathroom and find an old pregnancy test squirreled away under the sink.

And It was positive. My first response was, ‘NO!’ I didn’t understand how this was possible. Very soon after we both started crying tears of joy. Around May and the first week of June, my body kicked into gear and ovulated. This is why our sweet Nico is a miracle. I never would have imagined I’d be celebrating Mother’s Day this year, but I am, and I am so very grateful.

Sweet Laurel is all about sharing health with others, which is why I wanted to share this  story with you. Dedication toward wellness can lead to breakthroughs in your health. Wishing all the mothers our there a very Happy Mother’s Day! xo, Laurel

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Laurel is wearing Fillyboom’s I beleive in Unicorns dress.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

I love being a mom! In honor of Mother’s Day and my first time celebrating as a mom, I’m sharing some of my most used, and favorite mom-friendly items. This week’s recipe features my Lactation Cookies, which accompanied me to the hospital when Nico was born, and have been made regularly since!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

First off, Nucifera! I LOVE Nucifera, and the amazing entrepreneur who developed it. Nucifera is the ultimate pregnancy and breastfeeding safe, all in one, beauty product. I use it regularly before bed and on my face as part of my cleansing routine. By now you all know how in love I am with coconut, and this is a coconut based product, and the benefits are unending. It moisturizes, soothes, purifies, and combats various skin conditions. Nucifera can even be used as an all natural deodorant. I personally like using it under my eyes. And by the way, Nucifera is not just amazing for mothers, it is great for fathers and children alike!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Second, my Petal Soft Ballet Nursing Bra. Not only is it pretty to look at, it is oh so comfortable. I never thought nursing would change my whole outfit. For some reason, I never made the connection. Well, a good nursing outfit starts with a good bra, and this is my go-to! It is from Bravado Designs, who also makes two other nursing bras I’m digging– the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra, also comfy, and the Clip and Pump, which gives me mobility with my hands while I pump!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Third, a good notebook. I want to cherish each day with sweet Nico, and this helps me do! I’m a very sentimental gal, so essentially, writing down thoughts, precious moments and words of gratitude have been very therapeutic for me. Nico has made me a more organized person, and this is one tool I’ve begun to use to help in that department.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lastly, Lactation Cookies. Do you every need an excuse to eat cookies? Well, when you’re breastfeeding, you automatically have one! Lactation enriching foods have been used for centuries to help with breast milk production, and my cookies contain just a few of the many nutritious foods know to encourage milk supply nursing. I read a book entitled Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, and learned about the foods I should focus on during pregnancy and nursing. I highly recommend this book. Per the words of Planck, two of the most popular lactation foods are oats and beer. I don’t include either of those in my cookies, as I don’t digest either well, but have included several of the other recommended foods. These cookies freeze super well, so I typically make a batch and store them in the freezer to snack on and give to people who come over. Having a baby really ups your weekly visitors!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Cookies

Yields about 30 cookies


 

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds or shredded coconut

1/2 cup macadamia nuts or pecans

1/2 date paste or 7 dates, pitted

4 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or grass fed butter (solid)

1 cup chocolate chips (recipe below)

Maple syrup, as needed (these cookies are not very sweet, so add if need be)


 

*For Oatmeal Raisin variation

Exchange flax and sesame seeds for 1/2 cup of oats (if you tolerate). You can also add shredded coconut for texture!

Exchange and 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins for the chocolate chips.


 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a blender, combine the flax seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, dates, eggs, coconut oil and maple syrup (optional). Turn on low speed, and blend until batter is incorporated. Remove mixture from blender and place into a bowl. Stir in almond flour and chocolate chips. Spoon one tablespoon sized cookies onto cookies sheet. Gently press dough down with a piece of parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Lift parchment off pan, and allow cookies to cool all the way.

Enjoy!


 

Homemade Chocolate Chips 


 

Ingredients:

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (100% cacao, organic is preferable)

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey


 

Directions:

Break baking chocolate into one-inch pieces and place in thick saucepan or double boiler. Over a very low heat, melt baking chocolate. Once melted, take off heat, and add maple syrup or raw honey and stir. Pour chocolate onto parchment paper and spread into a rectangle, about 8×12 inches. Place parchment in freezer. Once hardened (will take a few minutes), break into small pieces and use as chocolate chips.

 

Blueberry Lavender Donuts with Coconut Glaze \\ Sweet Laurel

Today is my birthday, so I’m sharing one of my favorite new recipes with you! These Blueberry Lavender Donuts have the loveliest flavor, and are perfect for a springtime brunch, or better yet, Mother’s Day! The food grade lavender is optional. The donuts will have perfect flavor with or without. Enjoy!!

Blueberry Lavender Donuts \\ Sweet Laurel

Blueberry Lavender Donuts \\ Sweet Laurel

Blueberry Lavender Donuts \\ Sweet Laurel

Blueberry Lavender Donuts \\ Sweet Laurel

Blueberry Lavender Donuts with Coconut Glaze

Yields 6 donuts


 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup blanched almond or hazelnut flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

3 tablespoons 100% maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 eggs, at room temperature, whites and yolks separated

1 teaspoon dried lavender

1/8 teaspoon food grade lavender oil (optional, for extra lavender flavor)

1/4 cup blueberries


 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease your 6-mold donut pan with coconut oil.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl combine all of the wet ingredients except egg whites.

Mix the wet with dry and set aside. Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Add lavender oil, dried lavender and blueberries.

Equally distribute the batter between the 6 donut molds. Smooth out the tops of each donut.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.  Allow the donuts to cool, remove from pan and then chill in the fridge for half an hour.


 

To Prepare Glaze


 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut butter

2 teaspoons 100% maple syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup coconut milk

Dried lavender and blueberries for garnish


 

Directions:

Mix remaining ingredients over very low heat.  Allow to cool. If too thick, add a bit more coconut milk.

Dip donuts into icing. Once all donuts have been dipped, you may wish to re-dip donuts for a deeper white color.

Garnish donuts with dried lavender and blueberries if desired.

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so here’s a fun DIY gift you can give to the mommas you love! This soak includes two of our favorite ingredients at Sweet Laurel: coconut and pink salt. Both are beneficial to your body inside and out! Pink salt and coconut have benefits once digested, and several topical benefits as well. While the coconut milk powder in the recipe works to moisturize the skin, the pink salt acts at a detoxifier. Roses are used for their gratifying and soothing effect to the senses. This bath soak is a simple, yet beautiful little gift! Enjoy.

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak DIY Gift


 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Himalayan pink salt (I like to use the coarsely ground salt)

1/2 cup coconut milk powder

3 tablespoons dried rosebuds

1-2 drops essential rose oil

1 8 oz glass jar


 

Directions:

Grind a few of the rosebuds in a mortar and pestle until slightly broken. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Spoon into a jar and seal. Keep in a cool. dry place until use.