Hatch Chile Avocado Salsa

Use these chiles to dress up your dinner with a southwestern flare.

Eat Wholey With Holly uses affiliate links (including Amazon Affiliate links), which may be included on this page. This means that I may earn a small commission for purchases made using these links (at no additional cost to you).


When I saw hatch chiles at Trader Joe’s I was so excited – I love experimenting with new ingredients, and I always get inspired when the new seasonal produce makes it’s way into the store.

But what I didn’t think about was, what was I going to do with an entire bag of hatch chiles? I’m talking just over a pound. So. many. chiles.

I first used them to make chipotle bacon melts which were amazing (you can find that recipe here), but I still had a ton left over. After a few days, it was taco night and I was still mulling over what to do with them. I had planned on making a corn salsa for the tacos I was preparing, but turns out I had only dreamt that I had bought corn, so I did a quick pivot and decided to use the hatch chiles I had instead.

And they did not disappoint! The mild, yet pronounced flavor blended so well with the tomato and avocado, and the garlic and chili powder in the spice mix I used were the best compliment at really bringing that out. Plus with the added citrus kick of the lime juice, I knew it was going to be good.

So next time you have a bunch of hatch chiles and avocado on hand, whip up a batch of this salsa – you won’t regret it!

One thing to note — this recipe is dairy free, Whole 30 compliant, and paleo, meaning it’s good for you and the soul!

Have you made this? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE

COOKWARE NEEDED:

  • Chef’s knife
  • Glass mixing bowl
  • Spoon

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5-6 large hatch chiles
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Using a chef’s knife, dice the chiles, tomatoes, and avocado and combine in a small glass bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir to mix thoroughly. Serve with your favorite chips, tacos, or even with salmon.


Mexican Inspired Short Rib Tacos

These paleo tacos are the ultimate “treat yourself” for any taco Tuesday!

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I’m just going to tell you right now, this recipe is a bit of a labor of love, but my goodness is it worth it. Plus, make this recipe on a Monday, and you are sure to have leftovers to keep enjoying for the rest of the week!

I always seem to have a bunch of short ribs in the freezer, and I’m ALWAYS stuck on what to do with them. I’m not a fan of braised style short ribs – for some reason stews and most slow-cooked meats just don’t appeal to me (too heavy, I think!). Plus, to do short ribs right, they just take too long for my liking. To get that juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat, you need to cook them for hours and hours. As a mama of two littles under 3, I can’t commit to being that prepared!

I wish I could remember where I saw the idea so I could give credit where credit is due, but I came across a photo of Mexican short-rib tacos (with no recipe!), and I knew right then that I would try to recreate. I also knew that I didn’t want to slow cook these all day, so I opted for the Instant Pot, which saved me hours. Instead of all day, the meat was done in less than an hour!

And I seriously devoured these, you guys. My husband went back for THIRDS, which is when you know it is good. The meat has just enough spice with a ton of flavor, and the crispy edges were perfect. And let’s be real, you can’t go wrong with the crunch of a Siete tortilla taco. Plus, topped with the salsa and served with a fresh drink of your choice, it is as refreshing as can be on a warm summer day.

One thing to note — Siete foods also makes a fabulous nacho and white cashew queso, so if you aren’t in the mood to make your own queso, go ahead and buy one of these.

Also – if you want to get more veggies into the meal, you can eat the shredded beef over a salad or even serve on top of roasted sweet potatos. Add the salsa and queso as normal, it’s just as tasty!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 4)

COOKWARE NEEDED:

  • Cast iron skillet (or a regular pan, but cast iron is preferred)
  • Instant pot
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Meat shredders or forks

INGREDIENTS:

For the short ribs…

  • 1 lb beef short ribs
  • 1 cup beef broth (can also use bone broth)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (I like the Siete Foods or Trader Joes brands)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 red onion

For the tacos…

  • Siete foods tortillas (I prefer Cassava flour, but any kind will work)
  • Salsa (click to see the recipe for my Hatch Chile Avocado Salsa)
  • Cashew lime queso (recipe coming soon!)
  • Avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:

For the short ribs…

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet (or a regular pan if you don’t have a cast iron) on high – you want it to get HOT. Put your short ribs in the skillet, and quickly sear on all sides (about 1-2 mins per side) – they should be just starting to get that brown crust.

While searing your short ribs, turn your instant pot on to the sauté function. Add in 1 tbsp. avocado oil, and then add in 4 crushed garlic cloves and 1/4 red onion (you don’t need to dice, the whole quarter is fine). Let the garlic and the onion sauté for about 3 mins, then turn off the sauté function on the instant pot.

After the short ribs are finished searing, move them into the instant pot. Add about 1 cup beef broth. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning mix on top of the meat. Use a wooden spoon to make sure the seasoning is evenly coating the top of the ribs. Add the lid back onto the instant pot. Turn the instant pot on to high pressure and set to cook for 40 mins. When finished, let the instant pot naturally release pressure for 10 mins, then quick release the rest.

Take out the short ribs, and let them cool and rest for about 5 mins. Remove the meat from the bones, remove all of the fat and tendinous tissue, and shred the meat using shredders or forks. Put in a bowl or container, and set aside.

For the tacos…

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Reheat your cast iron skillet on high. Add in your shredded short ribs, and cook quickly until the ends are just cripsy. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat about1 tbsp. of avocado oil. Lightly fry your tortilla on both sides, about 30s. Move your tortilla to the baking sheet, add in about 1/8-1/4 cup of the shredded beef to fill (you gotta eyeball this one for how much you want, and fold the tortilla in half. Continue to fry and fill until you are happy with the number of tacos (or out of tortillas!).

Transfer the baking sheet of tacos into the oven, and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the edge of the tacos are nice and crispy.

When the tacos are done, remove from the oven and serve with your salsa and crema of choice on top.


Baby Sanson #2: First Trimester Recap

Please note this post uses affiliate links (including Amazon Affiliate links). This means that I may earn a small commission for purchases made using these links (at no additional cost to you). All affiliate linked products shared on Eat Wholely With Holly are products I actually use and seriously love, and recommend.


**TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of miscarriage**

Surprise…we’re pregnant!

But you already knew that. I started my Instagram account for this blog when I was newly pregnant with baby #2 and I decided from the get go that I would be open and share my pregnancy along with any updates whatever that path was. We’re grateful to have a very healthy baby growing, and we anticipate the rest of the pregnancy to be the same barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Okay, on to the stuff you really came here for: a first trimester recap via FAQs!

Q: How did you and your husband know you were ready for baby #2?

We had always known that we wanted our kids to be close together. My husband is about 4 years older than his younger brother, and I am about 3 years older than my younger brother, and we both agreed that we wanted our kids to be closer in age and grades in school. We like the idea of going through all of the same phases relatively close together as parents, and we wanted our kids to have the experience of being at the same school as their sibling(s) for more time than what we both experienced. We had originally talked about trying for baby #2 when Bruce was around a year old, but a few months earlier than that I was getting MAJOR baby fever, and we decided why not?

Q: How long did it take you to get pregnant?

It took us awhile. We started trying when Bruce was 9 months old (in March 2019), and got pregnant 10 months later (in December 2019). This really threw me for a loop, because we got pregnant with Bruce while I was on birth control, so I hadn’t experienced going through trying for a baby before, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the experience of having some trouble with it.

Unfortunately, we discovered the pregnancy was ectopic in January 2020 (should have known this year was going to be off!), and I subsequently miscarried.

We decided to just let things be, and focus on me having a regular cycle again in February. We weren’t trying per say, but we also weren’t preventing. And as luck would have it, I got pregnant! We officially found out I was pregnant in March 2020, 1 year after we started trying.

Now, we’ll never know why it took so long for us to get pregnant after we started trying. I had an IUD after Bruce, and I got it removed the month we started trying. Did it have anything to do with anything? Again, we can’t say for sure, and we’ll never know, but I have a hard time believing it didn’t have ANY impact on my body, hormones, and ability to conceive. If I’m speaking candidly, I almost think that the ectopic pregnancy was my body’s way of flushing out any lasting effects that the IUD hormones were having on my body. Please remember, this is not medically backed at all, and not necessarily a theory supported by my doctor, but this is my personal intuition after our experience.

Q: Will you find out the gender?

Yes, and we have! We’re so excited to have a baby girl on the way. You can see our gender announcement on Instagram here.

I will say, we did an at home blood test from the company called Sneak Peek to find out the gender early (you can do it as early as 8 weeks), but unfortunately I can’t recommend it because the results were wrong for us. There is a chance the results were contaminated, but I’m not sure I could have done anything more besides swim in bleach to make sure all of the surfaces and tools I was using were clean!

Q: Has this pregnancy been different than your first?

Yes. If I had to sum it up with one word, it would be “oof”. I’m not sure if it has been harder because I am also running around after a two year-old, or if it actually is, but it has just been harder.

Being pregnant during a pandemic been a blessing and a curse I will say, because in the beginning of my pregnancy the whole quarantine thing made it a LOT easier to not have to worry about what I would say while we still didn’t want to share – we weren’t going anywhere and/or interacting with many people socially, including family. We told our parents pretty soon after we found out, and gradually told siblings and grandparents after that, but all well before 12 weeks (not that we were waiting for that milestone, but that is typically when folks wait until to be comfortable sharing because most of your risk of miscarriage is behind you at that point).

The curse part of all of was when daycare closed for a month and I was in full first-trimester exhaustion mode and frequently getting migraines while having my 2 year old son home full-time. It was ROUGH. There was a lot more TV and junk meals than I’d like to admit, but we just embraced it and rolled with the punches.

Also, I was furloughed and subsequently laid off due to COVID during this time, so it has been a completely different experience for me in that I haven’t been working and trying to balance pregnancy with that. Again, nice to not have to consciously “hide” it from work, but it also has meant I’ve been acutely aware that I’m pregnant at all times vs. getting the (sometimes) welcome distraction of work.

Q: Did you experience any nausea or morning sickness?

Luckily, I am part of the 20% of women who don’t experience pregnancy related nausea (I didn’t with Bruce either). That being said, I am part of the group of women who DO experience pregnancy headaches and migraines. To be honest, I’m not sure which is worse!

Q: Are there any “things” that you couldn’t live without during your first trimester?

Aside from extra strength Tylenol (a.k.a., the only medication I could use for migraines), I pretty much always had a giant hydro flask of water (I like this one with the straw lid) and this jade roller cooled and ready to go for instant headache relief.

Q: Do you have any specific cravings?

Just like I did with Bruce, I cannot say no to anything sweet. I seriously thought about donuts and cinnamon rolls constantly, when normally I am a savory girl through and through. My husband loves it though, because he has such a sweet tooth and is thrilled that I can’t say no to his late night treat runs!

So there you have it, a recap of my first trimester the second time around. How did your second (or third, or fourth, etc.!) pregnancy differ from your first pregnancy? I’d love to know in the comments!


Steak and Kimchi Fried Rice

My favorite way to make a meal out of leftover veggies.

Eat Wholey With Holly uses affiliate links (including Amazon Affiliate links), which may be included on this page. This means that I may earn a small commission for purchases made using these links (at no additional cost to you).


One of my favorite dinner ideas from @thedefineddish’s cookbook is her Kimchi Fried Rice. It is perfect for cleaning out the fridge, and a light, yet filling meal. Just what we all need on a Monday after a food-heavy weekend, amirite? The best part is you can use whatever you have, and even though it is different every time, it is always on point.

It took me a while to get into kimchi. The thought of fermented anything was a little bit terrifying, and I cannot say I was an open book to trying it. It didn’t look great, it didn’t smell great…I don’t need to make this any more glamorous for you, do I?

My husband and I love Korean BBQ, a cuisine in which kimchi is a staple, so it would always be served as a side for the tabletop BBQ (which is what we do 100% of the time we go to Korean BBQ). I tried it once, just to say I did, and let me tell you – I still don’t love kimchi on its own.

But here is the marvelous thing about kimchi – GUT HEALTH. Fermented foods are amazing for gut health, and have some really amazing health benefits, so I knew I needed to give it a second chance. I love this article for explaining exactly what kimchi is, and the benefits associated with eating it.

So, when I saw the kimchi recipe in The Defined Dish Cookbook, I knew I needed to give it a go. 

And thank goodness I did because I loved it. When the kimchi is mixed in with your rice and veggies, it isn’t as bold as it can be when eaten plain. Rice compliments it nicely and eases the very forward taste that can be off-putting to some. And like I mentioned earlier, it is perfect for using whatever you have in your fridge – in the photo below, I used shredded carrots and chopped sweet peppers, but when I have it on hand, I also use spinach, green peas, corn, etc. This dish is truly your canvas!

A couple things to note — While this outline isn’t Whole30 compliant, it can very much be modified to be paleo and Whole 30. Just switch the brown rice for cauliflower rice, use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and omit the sriracha (use chili flakes instead for a kick), and you’re in business!

Also, this is an amazing recipe to make with leftover steak. Just dice the steak you have up into pieces, and skip the cooking steps. Throw the pieces into the mixture to reheat when the recipe calls for it! For this reason, I don’t specify a particular cut of steak – I regularly rotate through using venison steak, sirloin, etc. Heck, you could even use leftover porkchops or chicken if you wanted to!

Have you made this? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 4 adults)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb steak, cut into 1/2-1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup kimchi
  • 1-2 cups brown rice (depending on how many you are serving), cooked
  • 6 mini sweet peppers, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds & chives for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut your steak into 1/2 to 1/4 inch cubes and cook over high heat until just browned
  • Remove from pan and set aside
  • Add some sesame oil to the pan, add your veggies, and cook for 3-5 mins
  • Add in your rice, soy sauce, and steak cubes, and mix in thoroughly
  • Make a well and add in your eggs
  • Let cook for 3-5 mins or until they start to look like an omelet
  • Break apart and mix in with the rest of the ingredients
  • Add in kimchi and mix
  • Season with salt and pepper


Hatch Chile and Bacon Melt with Chipotle Lime Mayo

Give your sandwich a southwestern twist with this delicious chile variety.

In case you bought a giant bag of hatch chiles and need something to do with them like me, do I have a sandwich for you! I love hatch chiles and their mild flavor; they are delectable, and they add the perfect southwestern twist to any meal. Want to transform your mac and cheese? Add some hatch chiles. Need to change things up with your usual fajita mix-ins? Add some hatch chiles. Want to spice up your sandwich? Add some hatch chiles.

You get what I’m saying. When it doubt, go the hatch chile route (should I coin that saying?).

And since the summertime is perfect for enjoying some southwestern fare, there is no better time to get some hatch chiles for yourself and try out this tasty treat of a meal. The sandwich is delightful enough on its own, but it is also great served with a side of chips, pickles, or your favorite crunchy snack. I have been enjoying these Acapulco lime plantain chips (you can find them at Whole Foods, or if you are obsessed enough, you can order a pack off of Amazon), which were a prime choice for my side.

In my recipe, the directions have you follow a method to press the sandwich or make it a melt. I highly recommend doing this – who doesn’t love some melty cheese? But if you are short on time, or if you just don’t want to eat it hot, you by no means need to do this (although you may lose some brownie points in my book).

Extra bonus points? The chipotle lime mayo can be made Whole30, if you use Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil mayo. Or, they have a pre-made chili lime mayo that is also delicious, if you want to go the easier route!


RECIPE

Makes 1 sandwich

INGREDIENTS:

  • For the sandwich:
    • 2 pieces sliced sourdough bread
    • 2 slices Monterey jack cheese
    • 3 pieces bacon, cooked
    • 1 large hatch chili
    • Chipotle lime mayo (see ingredients for homemade below)
    • 2 tsp ghee (separated into 1 tsp + 1 tsp)
  • For the chipotle lime mayo:
    • 3 tbsp avocado oil mayo
    • 2 tsp lime juice (fresh is best, but from a container is just as good, too!)
    • 2 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 paprika

DIRECTIONS:

  • For the sandwich:
    • Turn on a stove burner, and place your hatch chili directly over the heat until starting to blister (about 30s-1min)
    • Flip and do the same on the other side
    • After taking your chili off of the heat, remove the stem, slice in half, and remove the seeds
    • Pre-heat a small pan over medium high heat
    • Lay out your two sliced of bread and assemble them on each side as follows
    • On the first side, spread half of the chipotle lime mayo, and layer 2 pieces of cheese then 3 pieces of bacon
    • On the second side, spread the other half of the chipotle lime mayo, and layer the two chili halves on top
    • Add 1 tsp of ghee to your pan, let it melt, and swirl your pan so it evenly coats the bottom
    • Put your two sandwich halves together, and put it in the pan
    • Place another small pot or pan on the sandwich to press
    • Let it cook this way until the break is golden brown, about 3 mins
    • Remove the pot/pan and the sandwich from the pan, set aside, and add the remaining 1 tsp of ghee
    • Flip the sandwich and place back on the pan, and place the pot/pan back on the sandwich for another 3ish minutes
    • Remove, slice in half, and enjoy!
  • For the chipotle lime mayo:
    • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir until evenly mixed and smooth

How to: Make my Collagen Matcha Latte

What I do to make my fave morning drink!

I’m in a total matcha phase right now, and L-O-V-I-N-G it. I found myself getting a little too overzealous on the coffee (as I write this I’m 25 weeks pregnant, meaning I need to limit my caffeine intake to about 200mg per day), so I decided to replace my regular go-to coffee in the morning with a homemade matcha latte.

Why matcha?

Matcha has less caffeine than coffee (45-70mg per cup vs. roughly 95mg in coffee), a.k.a. I can enjoy a little more freely than I would with coffee. I’ve tried, but I’m just NOT a tea gal (too watery and thin), so matcha is a great alternative for me that still gives me the boost I need without the less desirable effects of coffee.

Every once in a while, even when not pregnant, I switch to matcha for a while, as I found that it helps me get centered when I’m feeling a little out of control. Personally, when I replace my coffee with matcha, I notice:

  • I start to sleep better in longer, uninterrupted stretches
  • I have less anxiety or ‘fear’ around interacting with people (I’m a natural introvert and have dealt with high anxiety and depression in the past, and when I’m in more of an anxious state I tend to avoid simple things that involve interacting with other people like going to the cable store to switch out our box or call the pest company to schedule a service)
  • I have an easier time getting up and feel more motivated to be productive throughout the day

Now, my favorite way to enjoy matcha is with soy milk, but I don’t love having soy be a part of my daily diet, so I make it with oat milk as it is the closest alternative I have found in regards to consistency and flavor. Any brand of oatmilk will do here.

You’ll notice in the recipe that I also add collagen. This is by no means a must, and you can omit if you don’t have any and it will taste no different. I tend not to eat a lot of meat regularly (my breakfasts and lunches are usually naturally vegetarian), and I have a bit of an aversion to meat during pregnancy, so I use collagen as a supplement in my morning drinks to help me meet my daily protein goal.

To purchase the collagen and matcha powder I use, head to my shop page!

One last thing to note — I like to make this using my Nutribullet, as I blend it and drink it from the same cup. And, I hate getting the regular sized blender dirty every day for this. If you don’t have a Nutribullet or don’t want to spend that much money on one, you can find a lot more affordable hand held blenders either at Target or on Amazon. Just know that they won’t be as sturdy as the more expensive ones. I have this one as well, which I used before getting a Nutribullet, which I liked.

Alternatively, you can also use a handheld frother, but it definitely isn’t as powerful so it might not get the ingredients blended as smoothly as you might like.

Have you made this? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

  • Pour your desired amount of oat milk into a mug and heat in a microwave for about a minute. Alternatively, you can heat in a saucepan on the stove if that suits you as well.
  • In a blender, combine the matcha powder, collagen powder, and maple syrup.
  • Once the oat milk is finished heating, add it into the blender as well.
  • Blend all ingredients for roughly 20 seconds
  • Pour into a mug to enjoy hot OR pour into a tumbler and load the rest of it with ice cubes to enjoy cold


A Day of Toddler Meals: 24 Months

What my toddler actually eats in a day.

Amongst many other things, toddler eating is something that I think we get so unnecessarily anxious about as parents, and are quick to jump into the comparison game and spiral into a big black hole of despair. It’s something we get SO concerned about, and start paying attention to the details on overdrive. Are they eating enough? Are they getting the right nutrients? Are they gaining enough weight? It’s maddening, really.

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, and I was thinking – how can I help create space for parents to see real life examples of how toddlers eat? A space where they can come for ideas, or just for assurance that they aren’t alone in weird toddler eating patterns?

So, I’m starting a new series: A Day of Toddler Meals! Once a month, I’ll showcase a day of what my toddler ate, and provide details including how I prepared it, if it was the same or different than what I ate, and how much he actually ate. My goal is to show the nuances of toddler eating, how it differs month to month (day to day, really), and how each kid is wildly different, but that it is all normal.

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BREAKFAST

  • Blueberries
  • Trader Joe’s Silver Dollar Pancakes with butter
  • Trader Joe’s Strawberry Beet Berry Whole Milk Yogurt (not pictured)
  • Whole Milk (not pictured)I’m going to warn you now, this was an incredibly unusual day for Bruce, because he ate FOUR (4) helpings of breakfast. Four. Now the kid is a good eater, but not that good. The week after we did this he sprouted in terms of weight, so I’m quite certain he was going through a growth spurt and I just happened to catch one of these days.
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SNACKS & LUNCH

So lunch didn’t really happen because he snacked all morning, then refused the lunch I offered him, and then snacked all afternoon.

  • AM Snack: blackberries (ate 3 handfuls)
  • AM Snack: Kirkland applesauce packet (ate 2)
  • Lunch: Starbucks sous vides egg bites and apple juice
  • PM Snack: Cheddar cheese stick (ate 2)
  • PM Snack: Cinnamon toast crunch

Clearly, we were just all over the place with snacks this day, and I wasn’t necessarily serving him nutritionally balanced snacks (ahem, cinnamon toast crunch). I was about 20 weeks pregnant when we did this, and was just having an OFF day, so I gravitated toward grabbing things that I didn’t have to cook or put together.

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DINNER

  • Stir fried shaved beef marinated in Trader Joe’s Honey Aleppo Sauce with a turmeric yogurt sauce
  • Pearled cous cous
  • Sauteed zucchini and yellow summer squash
  • Cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • Trader Joe’s dill pickle hummus
  • Whole milk (not pictured)

He was clearly subjected to my pregnancy cravings, hence the dill pickle hummus. But impressively, he pretty much ate the entire plate and didn’t ask for seconds.

Like I mentioned, this was an unusual day of eating for Bruce, as the week after he was up a few pounds so the timing correlated with a growth spurt, so PLEASE do not compare how your kid normally eats with this day of eating. It is not our norm!!

And that’s a wrap on a 24 month day of eating! Let me know what questions you have, and I will answer them! Also, be sure to comment with any recipes you would like to see me try with him for next month’s day of eating below!

Xox,

Holly


Baby Led Weaning: How and Why I Chose This Method to Feed My Baby

After trying purees, we changed the way we fed our son.

When Bruce turned 4 months old, his pediatrician told me at his well check appointment that I could start feeding him solids. Her words were something along the lines of “We usually recommend waiting until 6 months, but if he’s sitting independently now or if you just want to start anyway, go for it.” I asked her if she thought he was ready and what signs I should be looking for, and she kind of shrugged off the question and said “if you’re comfortable, you’re fine to start.”

Lady, I don’t know if I’m comfortable, I’ve never done this before, that’s why I’m asking YOU for a recommendation (can anyone relate??).

Side note: I think that this is when I realized that there are a lot of topics that pediatricians just aren’t experts in, and feeding is one of them. Looking back on it, this is what triggered me to be a “kind of crunchy” mom, if you will, researching everything baby related and choosing, based on my own beliefs and comfort level, where I wanted to potentially deviate from the “conventional” or traditionally recommended approaches to all things baby.

Knowing that I am the type of person who obsessively researches when I don’t immediately know what to do, I just said “OK, thanks” and started thinking about everything I was going to Google search during Bruce’s next nap.

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WE STARTED WITH TRADITIONAL FEEDING

The thing is, at the same time I was also REALLY excited to feed him solids. It just seemed so…fun? I wanted to mix and match spices and make all of his baby food, and I reaaaally wanted to start using the highchair and feeding products we had registered for and been staring at for months (I wasn’t even remotely aware of Baby Led Weaning at this point). I had ultimately decided on my way home from the doctor that I was going to just start with solids and see how he did, research the shit out of baby feeding, and adjust however I wanted and felt comfortable with.

So, the journey began. I steamed and pureed some sweet potato and he loved it, so I knew starting solids was the right choice because it WAS fun. He was excited about it, I was excited about it, and it became a time of day when we could just bond and enjoy. Pretty much right away, he also started grabbing the spoon from me and wanting to chew on it and handle it on his own, and when we would all eat together, he was definitely reaching for whatever was on our plate. Little did I know that these were signs he was ready for more than just purees!

And then, when I started getting into the depths of the internet, I discovered Baby Led Weaning.

WHAT IS BABY LED WEANING?

For those who may not be familiar with the concept, Baby Led Weaning (or infant self-feeding) is the idea that you introduce babies to feeding by giving them pieces of whole foods and let them explore and learn how to feed themselves, rather than pureeing foods and spoon feeding them. With Baby Led Weaning, you essentially give them soft, easy to pick up foods like roasted sweet potato strips or a mozzarella cheese stick, and they pick it up, gnaw on it, eat it, etc.

All in all, it boils down to this: with both methods of feeding, they are being exposed to a variety of different tastes and flavors. In traditional feeding, babies are learning how to swallow foods first, and THEN how to chew and handle texture and whole pieces of food, whereas Baby Led Weaning is the opposite: they learn how to handle texture and whole pieces of food and chew upfront, and THEN how to swallow.

A lot of parents choose not to do Baby Led Weaning because there are a lot of worries about choking and safety. The thing is this – babies have an incredible gag reflex on the middle/front of their tongue, so they are inclined to spit something out if it is too big or if they don’t like it long before it gets to the “danger zone” in their throat. Additionally, it is an excellent idea to get CPR certified to feel confident that you know what to do in the case of choking.

Knowing these things, if Baby Led Weaning still triggers an insane amount of anxiety for you, it just might not be the best method of feeding for your family. The most important thing is to make sure YOU feel safe and confident in how you are feeding your baby, because their energy and confidence will “feed” (no pun intended) off of you.

FINDING RESOURCES ON BABY LED WEANING AND LEARNING MORE

I found Inspiralized Kids (@inspiralizedkids) on Instagram, which led me to discover Feeding Littles (@feedinglittles), who are infant and toddler feeding experts, and the more I learned, the more I realized that Baby Led Weaning was right for us. Regardless of whether or not you want to do Baby Led Weaning, I HIGHLY recommend you follow both accounts as they have great meal time ideas and examples, as well as a wealth of information about feeding babies and toddlers in general.

Bruce is, and always has been, such an active and physically-forward (I have no idea if that’s even a phrase but hopefully you get what I mean) kid, so I knew that a feeding method that focused on motor skills and eating was going to be perfect for him. 

Plus, he was close to sitting up fully supported, loved grabbing and playing with spoons, and was incredibly interested in the things we were eating rather than the purees we were giving him, which was signaling to me that he was ready to progress.

TRANSITIONING FROM TRADITIONAL FEEDING TO BABY LED WEANING

I didn’t want to go “all or nothing” and make a total change, so I decided to do a slower, gradual transition. Bruce really enjoyed the purees he was being fed, and I could tell he was hungry and eating a lot when we were feeding him, so I didn’t want to take that away (I think I had a little PTSD from when he was younger and we had to go in for a few weight checks because the doctor was concerned about him not gaining enough weight, so I didn’t want to give up anything that was working in terms of feeding him).

During meal times, I started to introduce whole pieces of foods before purees. I would do things like strips of toast with a puree spread on it, and let him explore and go to town. I had a ton of pureed food that I had already made and frozen, so it was a great way to use that and still practice Baby Led Weaning! Afterwards, if he didn’t eat a ton, I would feed him purees because he was used to it and he was hungry – I couldn’t say no!

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After about a month of combination feeding, he started figuring out the whole pieces of food more and more, and we started doing less and less purees afterwards until he was comfortably eating whole foods exclusively.

I knew he was ready to be on whole foods exclusively when daycare called asking if they could feed him whole foods because he was trying to steal other kids’ foods!

All in all, from the time that we started feeding purees to the time that we were doing Baby Led Weaning exclusively was about 2 months, which means by 6 months old we had fully transitioned. And we never looked back!

There are a couple things I’d be remiss not to mention:

1) This isn’t to say we never used pouches for snacks — we definitely did, as those were key for our busy, on the go family. While he was still under 1, we used the puree pouches, but after 1 applesauce and yogurt became (and still are!) our favorite go-to snacks.

2) We invested in different equipment — after learning from Feeding Littles and observing Bruce eating, I knew our current highchair wasn’t going to cut it. I took the plunge and invested in a considerably more expensive highchair, and bought all the cups, plates, and forks. I don’t regret it at all, and feel that it was a game changer for him.

Baby Led Weaning was one of the best things we did for Bruce, as we saw a huge improvement in his motor skill development, and I think it is what built the foundation for him to be an amazing eater still to this day. While we are experiencing some toddler pickiness, he still eats a TON and it is pretty cool to watch him learn and grow and be so self-sufficient with his eating.

Let me know what questions you have about Baby Led Weaning; I can’t wait to start our feeding journey with baby girl after she arrives!

Xox,

Holly


Tips for Getting Better Sleep during pregnancy

The 5 things I swear by to help me get a good night’s sleep.

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Sleep. What even is sleep anymore?

I’m at the point in pregnancy where sleeping on my stomach can’t happen, and I have a pretty hard time falling asleep as it is…so needless to say it’s not been going well. (read: I am one TIRED mama).

But, with having a wild toddler around, I can’t just nap whenever I want, so I’ve had to get serious about finding a solution to help me fall asleep and not be mama zombie the next day. Here’s what has worked for me:

1. BUILD A ROUTINE — just like toddlers, we respond so well to routine. When I start to go through the motions of getting ready for bed, my body can tell it’s time to go to sleep and I have such an easier time. Skip one step, and I’m staring at the ceiling for hours.

2. SCREEN TIME – I have a rule for myself to put down my phone and turn the TV off at least 30 mins before I try to fall asleep. This easily fits into my routine as I usually read for 30+ mins before falling asleep, so I know I can cut out screens then.

3. SLEEP MASK – Yep, I’m one of those gals who wears a sleep mask, and I’m proud of it! I’m SO sensitive to light, to the point where the nightlight in the hallway bothers me, so I decided to get a sleep mask, and it’s been a game changer. I like this one from Amazon.

4. SLEEP MEDITATIONS – I use the @headspace app and listen to a sleepcast every night to help fall asleep, but you can use any sleep app or white noise app even that works for you. Really what this does for me is it distracts my mind away from thinking about the entire day, the next day, and worrying about that mean thing I said one time in 3rd grade (where my enneagram type 9s at??). These are what have worked for me, and I can tell a HUGE difference when I am purposeful about falling asleep vs. going back to old habits.

Overwhelmed by where to start to get better sleep? Start with a routine and build from there!

What has helped you get better sleep during pregnancy?


Sun Butter Stuffed Dates

Sun Butter Stuffed Dates Topped with Granola

Is it me, or are dates a little underrated? Or maybe that’s just me, because they aren’t something we ever ate growing up. But I’ve recently re-discovered them, and I am in a MAJOR date phase right now, you guys.

They are sweet, but not too bold, and can be enjoyed on their own or dressed up! Plus, they pack a punch when it comes to nutrition – they are a great source of energy and are even recommended in the third trimester of pregnancy to help prep for labor!

Sun butter is also one of my favorite nut butters because I love sunflower seeds and anything to do with them (it’s that simple).

As I was craving an afternoon treat and was feeling sluggish, I decided to play around with the dates I had recently picked up to make something sweet that would give me the little pick me up that I needed. And while it is simple, I created something OH SO GOOD, and I can’t help but share it with you all.

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One thing to note — you can switch out any nut butter or granola in this recipe. I like sun butter and happen to have the Toasted Coconut Granola from Trader Joe’s on hand, and it all paired together magically. But the beauty of dates is that they are so versatile, and will pair well with pretty much any nut butter or granola you might want to use.

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pitted medjool dates
  • Sun butter (or sunflower seed butter)
  • Your granola of choice

DIRECTIONS:

  • Using a kitchen knife, slice the date lengthwise on one side to open it up (but don’t cut it in half!).
  • Using a spoon, scoop a nice glob of sun butter, and stuff it into the date. Make sure to get a healthy amount, but not too much to where it is spilling over the sides.
  • Pinch the sides of the date so it closes up a bit and fills the empty pit with sun butter
  • Grab a pinch of granola and sprinkle on top