What Goes Well With Strawberries?

As I mentioned in my previous post about leaning into vegetarianism, I’ve been taking advantage of the many delicious and healthy foods that are abundant this summer season.

Along with other summer staples like avocados, tomatoes, watermelon and corn, I’ve been serving my family a lot of strawberries lately.

Here are some of my favorite pairings with strawberries:

  • Chocolate
  • Nutella
  • Bananas
  • Cream
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Pancakes/Waffles
  • Cheesecake
  • Lemonade
  • Balsamic Vinegar

For a quick non-dairy and sugar-free healthy snack for your family, enjoy my quick, inexpensive and super easy Strawberry Banana Smoothie recipe:

1 cup of ripe bananas

1 cup of ripe strawberries

2 cups of unsweetened almond milk

Handful of ice cubes

Blend ingredients on high until smooth and creamy.

Read more about the wonderful benefits of strawberries here.

Browse through the most popular strawberry recipes here.

DISCUSSION:

  • What are your favorite pairings with strawberries?
  • What are your favorite strawberry recipes?

Share your story, your story matters.

Prayers for Motherhood

Prayer for Motherhood to Saint Gerard, Patron Saint of Expectant Mothers 

O good Saint Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and wonder worker of our day, confidently I call upon you and seek your aid. On Earth you always fulfilled God’s designs. Help me now to do the holy will of God. Implore the Master of Life, from whom all paternity proceeds, to render me fruitful in offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life, and heirs to the Kingdom of His Glory in the world to come. Amen.

Prayer to God for a Fertility Blessing

Heavenly Father, You know my deep desire for a child, a little one to love and to hold, to care for, to cherish. Grant that my body may conceive and give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby in Your holy image. Guide me in all my choices so that this conception, my pregnancy and my baby’s birth are in line with Your will. Heavenly Father and Holy Mother, hear this prayer of my heart, mind and spirit. Amen.

Prayer to Mother Mary to Conceive

Mother of Christ, you know, as no other mother can, the high dignity of motherhood. You know how immensely great the privilege is to call into this world a tiny soul destined to praise God forever in heaven. This is the privilege I now seek, Mary! Confidently I beg you to assist me, for I know that motherhood is so precious in your sight. And confidently too, I hope for this blessing through your divine Son, since Jesus loved all little children, and has said that we should allow them to come to Him. It is for this blessing that I beg you, to join with my petitions your own holy intercession, that I might be privileged to bring to Jesus a little one for me to dearly love, that He may bless it, that He may bless me also in my motherhood, and that He may then make us both grow in the wonders of His Divine Life. Mother of Mothers, Pray for me! Amen.

DISCUSSION:

  • What are the prayers that you and your family recite for special intentions?

Share your story, your story matters.

Heavenly Spa Pedicure

As a continuation of my birthday celebration, my longtime friend Michael and I went to Coldwater Creek on Saturday morning for a spa pedicure.

Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t had the chance to go to Coldwater Creek for their pedicures, you must must must go!

I guarantee you, you’ve never had a real pedicure, until you go to Coldwater Creek!

Their spa pedicures are heavenly.

When you visit Coldwater Creek’s spa, you can expect the best: clean surroundings, friendly and professional customer service, beautiful relaxation room to lounge in (with complementary teas) before and after your pedicure, plush reclined chairs, warm towels on your legs and feet, soothing music, wonderful aromatherapy scents, foot scrubs, deep massages, eye masks, and best of all, dim lights, privacy and silence!

The whole experience at Coldwater Creek’s spa was so relaxing. Michael and I felt totally rejuvenated after our spa visit.

As a stay at home mom, it’s not often that I get to treat myself.  I think it’s important for us moms to find ways to recharge. It’s amazing what a couple of hours with good friends at a spa can do for your spirits!

I already have an appointment booked next month. I will try their facial and massage next!

Can’t wait  : )

DISCUSSION:

  • How do you unwind and pamper yourself from your busy schedule?
  • What are your favorite spa treatments?

Share your story, your story matters.

I Want To Become A Vegetarian

I’ve been flirting with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. Having a meatless diet has never been an attractive option to me before, but for some reason recently, my body has been yearning for more natural and plant-based foods. I’ve also developed an aversion to meat lately. No, I’m not pregnant by the way. I’m just curious about transitioning into a vegetarian-focused diet.

I’ve been studying the benefits of having a vegetarian lifestyle. One of the most helpful articles I read listed the following as some of the many benefits of being a vegetarian:

1. Lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer. A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and fiber can help reduce the risk of lung disease and related illnesses.

2. Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is becoming more common with the rise of obesity around the world, and vegetarian diets may even prevent this disease by including complex carbohydrates and fiber that help the body manage insulin more efficiently.

3. Healthy skin. Diets rich in water-based and plant foods are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins-ideal for healthier skin every season.

4. Chemical-free food. Meat-based diets take in animal cells and fats, along with chemicals and byproducts used on the animals during processing. This can include chemicals sprayed on the dead animal, preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients used for packaging and mass distribution.

5. Hormone-free eating. Unlike many meats we buy at the grocery store, fruits, vegetables, and soy products are not injected with growth hormones and “fillers” that may harm the human body.

6. Increased energy. With the body spending less time digesting animal protein, an energy boost is a nice side effect.

7. Lower blood pressure. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be naturally low in fat and sodium, helping reduce blood pressure and improve circulation instead.

8. Improved digestion. Plant-based foods and fresh fruits are rich in fiber, improving the digestion and elimination process.

9. Lower risk of Diabetes. Steady blood sugar is easily achieved with a nutritious vegetarian diet. The cycle of blood sugar peaks and crashes is almost eliminated without the meat and unhealthy carb combinations.

10. Lower grocery shopping bills. By shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and stocking up on high-fiber, highly nutritious food, vegetarians can eliminate almost 25% of their food budgets without pounds of meat on the bill. In some cases this balances out if the vegetarian shopper chooses to buy premium vegetable brands and gourmet ingredients, but average costs do tend to be much lower per trip.

11. Toxin-free food. Some studies suggest that when animals experience fear, the adrenaline rush causes a release of epinephrine, steroids, and other stress hormones into the bloodstream. These are then ingested by the meat eater, presenting a range of toxins that can accumulate in the blood.

12. Healthy amino acids. Plant-based proteins (e.g. soy) can be an excellent source of amino acids that help with protein assimilation and metabolism.

13. Low or no saturated fat. Vegetarian menus typically use all-natural oils and cooking methods to enhance flavor. This is free of unhealthy saturated fat which can lead to a variety of heart problems and cardiovascular disease.

14. Increased life span. With the body in harmony and free of harmful toxins and chemical buildup, vegetarians may live longer than their fellow meat eaters.

15. Appreciation for simple flavors. After eliminating meat from the diet, it becomes much easier to differentiate flavors and get a real taste for fruits and vegetables. Palettes can become much more sensitive to different flavors, textures, and combinations.

16. Healthy cholesterol levels. Without unhealthy meat and fat sources in the diet, cholesterol levels of vegetarians can be considerably lower and easily fall into a healthy range.

17. Lower risk of cancer. With a diet rich in antioxidants, phytochemical, and vitamins, vegetarians naturally lower their risk of cancer and other diseases. Meat eaters, especially those that indulge in fatty meats are at a much higher risk of cancer.

Impressive right?!?

Just reading this list once makes me even more convinced and inspired to learn how to become a vegetarian!

To explore this new chapter of my life, I will be entering several posts in the future about how I’m learning to become a vegetarian. Here are some of the questions I will examine:

  • How do I become a vegetarian?
  • Should I gradually lean into becoming a vegetarian? Or just give up meat all at once?
  • Once I’ve eliminated meat from my diet, will my body experience withdrawals?
  • What does a vegetarian grocery list look like?
  • Will my vegetarian meals still be satisfying?
  • How do I supplement protein and iron in my diet?
  • Should I also only feed my toddler vegetarian meals? How will having a vegetarian lifestyle affect my child?
  • What are the good “starter” vegetarian recipes I should try first?
  • What if I only eat lean meat like turkey, chicken breast and fish? Will this be a more satisfying alternative to being a complete vegetarian? In other words, instead of converting to a meatless diet, is having a “less meat” diet just as healthy?
  • Or does eliminating meat completely from my diet really that much healthier?
  • What about becoming a vegan?
  • What are the added benefits of having a non-dairy diet in conjunction with vegetarianism? Should I consider having a non-dairy diet in addition to a vegetarian diet to really optimize my health?
  • What are the most helpful books, websites and magazines for vegetarians?
  • Can I really make the commitment to becoming a vegetarian?

I look forward to learning all the answers to my very curious questions about vegetarianism.

I’m not quite sure (yet) how to become a vegetarian, how to maintain a being a vegetarian, or if I will even like the vegetarian lifestyle.

What I do know for sure is that I want to live a long and healthy life so I can grow old and gracefully with my husband but also more importantly, so I can be an example of healthy and abundant living for our son. For these profound reasons, vegetarianism is certainly worth exploring.

Please come back regularly as I share with you my journey to becoming a vegetarian!

DISCUSSION:

  • How did you transition towards a vegetarian lifestyle?

Share your story, your story matters.

Glowing Green Slushie

I’m thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed my Glowing Green Smoothie recipe.

My family and I continue to enjoy this drink everyday, it’s just so darn good.

I recently found another way of preparing the smoothie – as a dessert : )

Place the smoothie in the freezer for a couple of hours and enjoy it as a SLUSHIE!

Once the smoothie is frozen, it gets this soft and creamy slushie consistency. Yummy!

I also place my favorite nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachio, even granola!) in the smoothie mixture itself (before blending) for added protein. Then after freezing it, I top my slushie with even more nuts for that extra crrrunch!

What a refreshing frozen treat on a hot day! I know the green color looks weird, but I promise you, you’ll enjoy it.

This Glowing Green Slushie is a healthy and delicious alternative to those fattening pints of ice cream!

Try it, you’ll love it! Even my son can’t get enough of it :  )

Toddler tested and approved : )

How To Lead a Meaningful Life…at 105!

My husband’s paternal grandmother celebrates her 105th birthday today! Our family calls her “Apo” which means grandparent in our Filipino native language. Apo is a wonderful and sweet woman. She is gentle, hospitable, caring and adores her grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are very happy and thankful to celebrate her 105th birthday today.

Five years ago, when she turned 100, we commemorated the special occasion with a huge birthday party at a fancy dance hall. When asked what she wished for her 100th birthday, she replied, “I wish to live to be 105!” Well, thank the Lord, here we are today : )

Despite her very old age, she maintains a relatively good bill of health. As expected, she needs help getting around with a walker and sometimes she is forgetful, but otherwise, Apo is amazingly more healthy than one would expect for being 105 years old!

Apo’s doctors are in awe that she doesn’t suffer from any chronic health problems. Apo doesn’t have any heart conditions, diabetes, or hypertension – the common culprits in our family’s health history. She doesn’t take any medications nor has she even had any surgeries! It’s truly amazing.

So what’s the secret to Apo’s long life? How can someone living beyond her second century still live such a defiantly healthy life?

  • A lot of LOVE: Apo’s health and well-being can be attributed to her two daughters who tirelessly care for her. I believe the loving way in which her two daughters care for her is the reason why Apo is still thriving at 105.
  • Diet: Apo’s two daughters prepare her home-cooked meals daily. They have several meals throughout the day but their meals are always well-balanced. What is worth most noting is that they almost never ever go out to eat in restaurants.
  • Simplicity: Apo and her daughters lead a very simple life. They enjoy simple activities such as gardening, cooking, cleaning their home and watching their favorite TV shows. Apo doesn’t have many stressors in her life. She values her humble way of living.
  • Activity: Apo gets light exercise daily with her stationary bike pedal. She also walks around the house regularly to keep good circulation in her body. She keeps up her motor skills by coloring! Also, when the weather is fair, (which is pretty often here in San Diego) Apo goes outside and gets fresh air.
  • Faith: Apo attends mass every Sunday. Even though her legs are frail and it can take up to 10 minutes for her daughters to help Apo get from the church parking lot into the pews, Apo is determined to get her weekly Sunday blessing. Apo even loves to clap and sing along with the gospel choir!
  • Positive Attitude: Apo is still cheerful and loves to smile!

What I gather from Apo’s 105th birthday today is not just celebrating the advantage of getting to live to be 105. The true lesson is in understanding how to live a healthy and meaningful and purposeful life, at any age.

DISCUSSION:

I invite you to ask yourself:

  • How can I ensure not only longevity, but also a great quality of life?

Share your story. Your story matters.

We’re a family of three, I mean FOUR! Why we changed our minds about having only one child

When anyone asked me and my husband if we planned on having another baby, our answer was always, without hesitation, “No. We are happy to be a family of three.” Friends and relatives often teased us by hinting, “Time for another one!” But Randy and I always remained convinced that Evan would be our only child.

Here are some of the reasons we wanted to only have one child:

  1. Taking care of an infant is so difficult! Especially the first three months, the sleep deprivation is just brutal! I have no desire to go through those foggy and zombie times again.
  2. We finally feel like we could manage our lives now. We currently have a good setup in how we share our parenting responsibilities.
  3. I now have my pre-pregnancy body back : ) Thanks to yoga and my healthier eating habits, I feel even more confident with my body after having a baby.
  4. Although we have a tight budget, we feel financially stable. We don’t feel like we’re rich, but at least we have a good handle on our bills and savings.
  5. As part of our sacrifice and downsizing in order for me to be a stay at home mom, we live in a studio. How are we going to fit a family of four in a studio?!?
  6. In addition to working 50 hours a week, Randy is back in school getting his second Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. What time do we have to take care of another baby?
  7. We could give Evan more resources and more one on one attention as an only child. Saving for two college funds?!? Yikes!
  8. I read this very convincing article which highlighted the benefits of having only one child. See, even experts agree that one child families may be beneficial.

After reading this list, it seems evident that physically, spatially, logistically, financially, and regarding timing, the “wiser” decision is for us to have only one child. Totally makes sense, yes? It would definitely be more prudent for us to “quit while we’re ahead.” We’re doing great now, why change our family dynamics? It’s not like we feel as if our one son is “not enough.” Evan has already given us more joy we could ever imagine! We couldn’t possibly be any happier than this. Right?!?

So why in the world did we change our minds?

Well, about a month ago, on the morning of March 19 to be exact, Randy and I woke up and revealed to one another that we both just had a dream that I had given birth to a baby girl. But that wasn’t the first time I ever had a dream about having a second baby though. So what’s the big deal? I mean usually, we would scoff at such dreams, they were just silly fantasies, “Hah, what a funny dream” we would often say.

Then I realized, March 19 was St. Joseph’s Day! St. Joseph is the patron saint of families. Randy and I have always had an affinity and adoration for St. Joseph. We realized that it couldn’t be just a coincidence that he and I both had the same dream, on the same night, and to top it off, it happened on the Feast Day of St. Joseph.

Those signs were too powerful to ignore. We were then summoned to discuss the possibility and so we asked each other, although jokingly at first, “So what do you think now, do you want another baby?” When normally, we would say, “Haha, very funny! What a wild idea. Of course we’re not having another one!” This time, Randy and I similarly said, “Well, actually…Yes.” We mutually agreed that we would love to have another child and that we now wanted to expand our family! It was an unexpected shift, and although it felt scary and overwhelming, it felt right.

Just to be sure that we were making a thoughtful decision and not just an emotional decision, Randy and I referred to our one-child-only-list above, highlighting all the “smart and obvious” reasons why it was better that we have only one child. And after reviewing the list over (and over and over and over again), we still ultimately decided that we were definitely going to try to have a second baby.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

“The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand.”
Robert Valett

“The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”
Blaise Pascal

Although all the reasons didn’t completely make sense to us, God somehow led us to the decision to have another baby. God placed the desire in our hearts to expand our family, rightfully and perfectly aligned with St. Joseph’s Day, the patron saint of our family, to whom we always offer our prayers and intentions. We had to respond to this calling, and although this sudden decision didn’t match up with our previous plans, we concluded that we would be even happier to have an addition to our family. We had a sudden change of mind, but more important, we had a compelling change of heart.

The most striking part of our comprehensive conversation was when Randy said, “It’s like our future baby is knocking on our hearts.” That profound sentence quickly ended our discussion. We looked at each other with tears welling up in our eyes, and held each other reassuringly. We knew at that very moment, our family is meant to grow.

Our baby was knocking on our hearts, how could we walk away? Randy and I wanted to open the door, answer our next baby’s call and together, take that leap of faith. We decided that no matter what happens, we were going to find ways to make it work as a family.

The following evening after dinner, we announced to Evan that Mommy and Daddy wanted to give him another sibling. Evan smiled widely, not really understanding what our statement implied, but he was still happy (probably because Mommy and Daddy looked so happy telling him!) We then asked Evan to help us finalize our family decision. I handed him the plastic compact case containing my pills, he willingly took it, and ceremoniously he placed it in the trash bin. The three of us cheered and clapped jubilantly. It was such a touching moment for our family!

Evan rejoiced with me and Randy, again, not fully comprehending the implications of what just happened, but nonetheless he cheered along with us. Evan knew that something great, a joyous moment, just took place for the three of us.

Now I don’t want to create an itemized list of all the benefits of having a second baby. The benefits of having adding another beautiful soul into our family are truly endless and intangible anyway. So instead, here is a proactive list that I compiled to help me prepare my body for a possible pregnancy:

  • Referring regularly to my wellness list
  • Finding ways to de-stress and unwind everyday
  • Refraining from watching violent and disturbing shows on TV
  • Listening to easygoing songs that make me feel relaxed
  • Refining our space and minimizing our possessions to make more room
  • Enjoying every single moment with Evan even more
  • Reciting the following prayer to St. Gerard, the patron saint of expectant mothers
  • Having fun trying to conceive again : ) (No obsessing over fertility calendars and ovulation kits this time!) We want our second pregnancy to take place naturally

Randy and I know that the power of conception is not up to us. We can only prepare our minds, create space for another baby and make the decision to try again. In the end, whether or not we are blessed with another pregnancy, we just thank God everyday that He has already granted us with a healthy and happy family.

DISCUSSION:

  • How did you and your partner decide on the size of your family?
  • How do you prepare your life (mind, body and surroundings) for conception?

Share your story, your story matters.

Note: Email me (mamabearmatters@gmail.com) if you would like a copy of my collection of prayers for conception.

Take a BIG deep breath of FRESH AIR!

I make it a point for my son Evan and I to step outside and get some fresh air everyday.

Every morning we go outside to get our daily dose of fresh and clean air. As soon as he finishes breakfast, he quickly gets his shoes and socks, points to our backyard, and says with excitement, “Mommy, ou’ side! ou’side!”

Evan loves being outdoors. He enjoys watering the plants, running around the lawn, counting the airplanes passing overhead, picking flowers, pointing at the clouds, singing along with the birds, finding ladybugs in the grass, and splashing the trickling water from the hose.

As a family making ends meet on only one income, it’s important for us to offer our son inexpensive activities that he can still enjoy. I would rather that he gets in touch with nature anyway, rather than be too occupied with video games and toys. Here is an interesting article I read about some of the reasons why kids need fresh air.

Being outside doesn’t only benefit my son, I enjoy spending time outdoors just as much. Actually, I need to get some outside time everyday, otherwise, I’ll go bat crazy :  / I notice that whenever I don’t get enough time outside, I feel anxious and irritable. I’m also more prone to headaches, fatigue and exhaustion. Do you ever experience the same symptoms whenever you stay too long indoors?

That’s why being outdoors is such an important part of my WELLNESS. Getting fresh air helps refresh my mind, it improves my focus and concentration and helps me think more clearly. It also soothes my nerves, especially when I feel stressed. After a nice walk outside, I always feel more relaxed and more re-energized.

I encourage you Mommies to also get outside regularly for some fresh air everyday. I know as a stay at home mom, it’s easy to get caught up with all the household chores and the busy schedule from taking care of the kids. Before you know it, it’s 3 pm, and you’re still in your pajamas (I’ve had many days like that!) But I really make an effort to get outside everyday, weather permitting of course. Something as simple (and free) as fresh air can really improve your mood and your overall well-being!

Here are some other simple ways that you and your family can get more fresh air:

  • Take a walk after lunch or dinner (This will help you digest your food better).
  • Pack your food, pick a shady spot and have a picnic. (Don’t forget the music!)
  • Ride your bike by the water (Doesn’t being by the water always feel more relaxing?)
  • Place some fresh plants in your home (It will help improve the air quality inside).
  • Exercise outdoors (Jump rope or do a yoga session outside).
  • Drive with the windows down (Even open the sunroof!)

So get outside Mommies! Take a break from being in the house all day and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones outdoors. Being outside is fun for the kids and good for you too!

DISCUSSION

  • What outdoor activities do you and your family enjoy?
  • How do you feel when you spend too much time indoors and you don’t get enough fresh air?

Share your story, your story matters.