A Call for Story Sharers!

As 2017 approaches, we are looking for new ways to reach the women we serve. One of those ways is through a consistent team of contributing story sharers on our blog. Yes, story sharers. You don't have to be a 'writer', have your own blog or have anything published to contribute. We want real-life mamas sharing real-life things. Good things like the joys of motherhood; ways you have learned and grown as a woman; ways you have been empowered through your story or struggle. Hard things like depression and anxiety; miscarriage and loss; unmet expectations. Stories of the day to day and what that looks like...and how it changes. We're looking for women who would be willing to contribute 5-10 posts/YEAR. That's it! Sometimes we may ask for a specific topic, other times we will just share what it is that you're passionate about sharing. We want YOUR STORIES...your beautifully messy, imperfect stories. If you are interested, please contact our blog editor, Alisha, at ameador@themotherhoodcollective.org. We can't wait to hear from you!

How I Got My Toddler To Eat Vegetables

I had completely forgotten about this cookbook, and the yummy meals it had afforded me in college, until my two-year-old claimed that broccoli—a vegetable that he had gobbled just three days before—was “yuck!”

I dug through some old boxes, and there it was, my beloved cookbook! Now, a perfect mother would veggie-fie every meal, but since she doesn’t live at my house, I simply choose one weekend a month to get my Deceptively Delicious out, hunt for recipe ideas, and plan some veggie-infused meals.

Warm Apple and Butternut Squash Salad with Sugared Pecans

This salad, while sounding very fancy and healthy, is my middle-of-the-road answer to those cravings. It is loaded with good-for-you fats and antioxidants, but also has a bit of that naughty sweetness to keep you coming back for more. 



A very special day has come! You might remember my post back on March 2nd about our local hospital's push to become Baby-Friendly (read here.) Well, friends, advocates, mothers-to-be, mothers, grandmothers, and all of Lynchburg, VA. THEY DID IT! The call came in yesterday that Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital is now a Baby-Friendly Hospital. The Administration, Nursing Staff, Lactation Staff, and Care Providers have all worked tirelessly to put bring about a positive change in maternal and infant health. We could not be more proud. Please know that this was not an easy undertaking. There has been much education, many policy changes, some protocol changes, and so much more. All for YOU.

As a reminder, Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the following Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Join us in congratulating the hardworking team at Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital!

A short piece by the local news can be found here.

Feeding New Parents

Our Hospitality team does a wonderful job of providing meals for new parents in our community. If you'd like to gift a new mom with food during the first few weeks, here are a few resources and ideas to get you started.index

Recipe Resources


Meal Ideas

  • Double Meals: Do half the work by doubling a recipe and making enough to feed your family and theirs
  • Snacks, Breakfast, etc.: Who says you have to send dinner?? Muffins, fresh fruit, oatmeal, granola bars...I know all of these healthy and easy-to-grab snacks would be appreciated by any new parent.
  • Favorite recipes: I find that the best type of dinners to take are soups, casseroles, or a meal kit (think: taco box, pasta box, etc.). Each of these comes together fairly easily, freezes well and transports smoothly.
  • Gift Cards: Grab a gift card from your favorite take-out or delivery spot. Or, send a grocery store gift card (Relay Foods and other delivery services are especially convenient). You could go in with a group of friends to with this idea, too.

If you would like the opportunity to prepare meals for new parents, join The Motherhood Collective meal team! Email our Hospitality Coordinator for more information and to sign up: hospitality@themotherhoodcollective.org.


*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Motherhood Collective!

Green Diets For Mothers-to-be

During my first pregnancy, I read articles for pregnant women about what do and what not to do, what to eat and the food must be avoided. It’s amazing to see how modern discoveries have set a new diet plan for pregnant women, and with these came new terms that were formerly unheard of. One of these is folic acid.


According to one article, taking folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby's brain and spinal cord. Among the foods rich in folic acid are green leafy vegetables – the darker and leafier, the more concentrated is the foliate. So is green diet good for pregnant women?


The Green Benefits

Surely, green diet has its benefits. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, plus fiber that are essential in prenatal months. Aside from its dietary benefits, these plants are useful for pregnant women in more ways. Try including lettuce, for instance, in your indoor plants. Lettuce likes plenty of sun from south-facing windows. During my pregnancy, these greens helped create a relaxing mood, plus the added oxygen it brings to my home helped relieve the nauseating feeling. Not only that, it is counted as one of the fast growing plants, so it’s sure to grow way ahead before your baby is born. Now that’s proof of plants being one of the health and productivity hacks.


Add More to the Green

Yes, dark green leafy vegetables may give you your needed fiber and 0.4 mg of folic acid, but that’s not all there is in a pregnant woman’s diet. There are other essential nutrients that a green diet cannot offer, so don’t forget to add these in your meal plan:


·         6-11 servings of bread and grains

An expert says you should consume about 300 more calories per day than you did before you became pregnant.

·         2-4 servings of fruit, plus 4 or more servings of vegetables

Citrus fruits like orange, lemon and grapefruits are good sources of vitamin C, while yellow vegetables like carrots and pumpkins are good sources of vitamin A.

·         4 servings of dairy products

This will help ensure that you get your needed 1000-1300 mg of calcium daily

·         3 servings of protein sources (meat, poultry, fish, eggs or nuts)

These foods are rich in iron too.

·         Use fats and sweets sparingly


The Green Drink

For a pregnant woman, especially the picky-eaters like me, this recommended diet sounds too much to take. Plus we do not want to put on the unnecessary weight. The good news is, there are trends in diet that allow us to take all the needed nutrients in a convenient and appetizing way. Try preparing a green drink. This is a mixture of green vegetables, plus every other healthy ingredient that you might find in your fridge, like avocado. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ingredients like apples too. Put them in a blender to prepare a juice or a smoothie. If it works well for the health buffs and the weight conscious who count their calorie and nutrient intake, it should work well for pregnant mothers too. But don’t forget that this is not meant to replace your meal. It is simply a dietary supplement.

Eating for Two



It’s not just the greens but all the colored fruits and vegetables – red, orange, yellow, purple and white – that ensure a variety of nutrients for you and your baby. Interestingly, expert dietician Karin Hosenfeld adds, “During the later stages of pregnancy, the baby 'tastes' the foods you eat through the amniotic fluid. So if you expose your baby to a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables in the womb, you'll increase the chance that your baby will recognize and accept those flavors later on."


As a pregnant mom, you don’t need to go on a special diet to ensure the nutritional needs for you and your baby. All it takes is a good variety, balance and moderation. Remember that what you eat today defines the well-being of your baby. So go and give him a healthy headstart so he is well-prepared to face the world.


About the author:

EMILY HARPER - I am housewife, a mother, and active member of our neighborhood watch. I empower families on how to ensure safety by investing in home security technology.

You can read more by Emily on her blog at www.securityocean.com

Recipe of the Week - Deliciously Addictive Snack Crackers

I have yet to meet a person--adult or child--who did not like, no, LOVE these snack crackers. You will too. They are the perfect easy snack for holiday parties…and everyday too! There is no way to describe this snack other than it is delicious and addictive.

Oh, and easy too.


12-14 oz package of oyster crackers (sometimes called "soup crackers"), large or small

1 oz package of dry ranch dressing mix

1 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)

1/2 tsp dill weed

1/2 cup veg. oil

Make it!

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, ranch mix, and seasonings. Add crackers and stir well. Stir every 15 minutes for an hour to ensure thorough coating and all the seasoning soaks into the crackers. Store in an air tight container.



Seriously…Enjoy. I dare you to eat just one.

Recipe of the Week - Mulligatawny Soup

I originally had this soup on a special lunch date with a friend. It has become a family staple, and my go-to meal for new mamas.
Original recipe from Joy of Cooking

Sauté lightly, but do not brown:
	1 cup diced onion
	6 diced carrots
	3 diced ribs celery
	¼ cup butter

Stir in:
	3 Tablespoons flour
	3 Tablespoons curry powder
Stir and cook them about 3 minutes.

Pour in and simmer 15 minutes:
	6 cups chicken or lamb broth
	2 bay leafs

Add and simmer 15 minutes longer:
	1 cup boiled rice
	2 cups diced cooked lamb
	1 teaspoon salt
	1 teaspoon pepper
	1/2 teaspoon thyme
	1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Immediately before serving, stir in:
	½ cup hot cream or coconut milk
            1 cup diced tart apples

Serve & enjoy! Even better when prepared the day before and reheated. 

Recipe of the Week: Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze

Husband approved. Cook approved. Vegan approved. Omnivore approved. ‘Nough said. Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese


This recipe is Vegan with Gluten-free & Nut-Free options

Yield: 4 servings or 1.5 cups of cheeze sauce


1 fresh butternut squash* (peeled and chopped) OR 1 cup canned butternut squash OR canned pumpkin Extra virgin olive oil, S & P 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter replacer) 3/4 cup unsweetened & unflavoured almond milk (revised from 1 cup) 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) 6 tbsp nutritional yeast, or more to taste 2 tsp Dijon mustard 1/4-3/4 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp onion powder 1/2-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 1/2-1 tsp kosher salt (to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste 4 servings brown rice macaroni (8oz or half a 16oz package) makes 3 1/4 cup cooked Mix-ins of choice (e.g., kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, pumpkin seeds, etc)

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a casserole dish with tin foil. Mix chopped squash with EVOO, S & P. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the cheeze sauce in a pot on the stove top. Add Earth balance over low-medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together milk and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour) until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, lemon, S & P) and whisk over low heat until thickened (about 5-7 minutes or so).

3. Cook your pasta according to package directions. The sauce makes enough to cover 4 servings of pasta.

4. In a blender, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash (or if using canned, simply stir 1 cup into the pot).

5. Add cooked, drained, and rinsed macaroni into pot, along with cheeze sauce & mix-ins. Heat and serve.

Lauren's Notes: 1) My 3.5 pound squash made 5 cups cooked squash, so I had about 4 cups leftover. 2) The sauce does not cut in half well (the blender has a hard time blending it up) 3) I tried this recipe with canned pumpkin and it was awesome!

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/10/03/butternut-squash-mac-n-cheeze/#ixzz2gUMpfiPb

Labor Pains: A note from our Executive Director

When we began this website, we posted The Motherhood Collective's "Birth Story" and we invited you to come along with us as we continued to grow and we referenced our possible, future labor pains. Well, here we are and are writing about it. The Motherhood Collective© is experiencing some exciting changes as we continue to increase awareness and network in our local community and beyond.

Many of you have been encouraged by our local outreach, The Motherhood Café. This is one of our favorite ways to serve as it brings us face-to-face with the mothers of our local community. We desire to continue this particular service for years and years to come. That said, we have had to have some hard talks about making the Café as sustainable as possible.The Motherhood Collective

Over the next years we hope to take our passion for education and support to a new level. This might mean providing scholarships for childbirth education, certificates for lactation consultants, supporting local postpartum depression groups, providing increased opportunities to for you to gather with women in your seasons of life, and even planting "chapters" in other communities around the country.

We operate on a limited, donation-supported budget and wish to employ these funds in the best way possible. Currently a large portion of these dollars is used to supply Café food and coffee. While this is a worthy "cause", its reach is not far and we feel there are needs much greater (such as those projects mentioned above).

We are not doing away with food altogether, but rather opening up a conversation. What would you, the women we serve, prefer to see? No food at all or food that costs you a small amount? We know that our incomes vary and that honestly, priorities vary. We are working on several ways to continue offering some type of refreshments, but with different options.  We've discussed providing vouchers for first time attendees, selling prepaid punch cards and gifting punch cards in our new mom baskets.  Please know that making our mothers feel comfortable and cared for on Mondays is still very much part of our intent.  We do not make these changes lightly.

We know that many of you care passionately about this organization and you are the very women we serve. So, would you take a moment to fill out this survey and share your opinions with us? We long to continue in our efforts to Nurture the Mother to Grow the Child and your help would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Recipe of the Week: Potato Soup

It's fall and that means soup season! Hooray! Not long ago, I was searching for something easy to make for dinner. Okay, I admit it, I'm not a good menu planner. My dinners are too often thrown together very last minute. And since I had two napping children and no time for a grocery run, it needed to be something that I could make entirely with household staples. I remembered someone mentioning potato soup earlier that week and thought it might fit the bill.

So I turned to the internet and found The Pioneer Woman's Perfect Potato Soup.

Oh Friends, it is perfect. The best part? It's fast. Really fast. Potato Soup

Basic Info: Prep Time: 10 Minutes / Cook Time: 20 Minutes / Servings: 12

Ingredients 6 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into 1-inch Pieces - I had some leftover cooked bacon from the day before. Saved a little time and worked a-okay. I've also used chopped up ham from a leftover ham steak instead of bacon. Also delicious.

1 whole Medium Onion, Diced

3 whole Carrots, Scrubbed Clean And Diced - I've snuck broccoli in, too. Hey, I'm a mama of a toddler. Veggies get thrown in EVERYTHING.

3 stalks Celery, Diced

6 whole Small Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Diced - Confession: I don't like Russet Potatoes. I used red-skinned potatoes and didn't peel them, because I never do. Saves a step and doesn't matter one bit in the recipe.

8 cups Low Sodium Chicken Or Vegetable Broth - I make a lot of my own broth and freeze it. I've used chicken, lamb and ham broth. They all work great in this recipe.

3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour

1 cup Milk

1/2 cup Heavy Cream - I use half and half because we always have it. And depending on how creamy you like the soup, you may opt to skip this ingredient completely.

1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste

Black Pepper To Taste

1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice Mix - I used a spicy BBQ seasoning I had on hand. You could try a little chile pepper or cayenne if you like spicy. Or leave this out. It's your soup, after all.

1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Parsley - Yes, dried is fine. Just adjust it to your liking.

1 cup Grated Cheese Of Your Choice - Cheddar is king in this house.

Preparation Instructions Add bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot. (If you're using leftover bacon or ham, just heat a little olive oil in the pot so that you can start with the next step.)

Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice.

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove half to 2/3 the soup and blend in a blender/food process until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. **Now this is where I did things differently. I have a stick immersion blender. It is my new favorite kitchen tool. You don't need to transfer any hot liquid and blend in batches. Rather, you just stick it in your pot and blend. Total timesaver and makes a perfectly smooth soup. I find reasons to use it. Ree likes some chunks left in her soup, but I prefer it completely smooth.**

Once you've blended up the soup, taste it and adjust your seasonings. Then, stir in cream (if you want) and parsley. Save some parsley if you want to use it for a garnish.

Serve in bowls garnished with parsley, grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces.

So, so good. I serve this with some hot crusty bread. Yum!

Recipe of the Week - Amazing Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our family has been on a grain free journey and sadly the ONE thing I had not been able to create without good-ole-fashioned FLOUR was a solid chocolate chip cookie. Until now. These cookies from Amee's Savory Dish were incredibly simple to throw together (even toddler helper friendly). And the taste is incredible. Incredible. They are not chalky, since there is no flour substitute at all, just the nut butter and shredded coconut working magic.

Make them. You will thank me. Well, maybe not after you have eaten all two dozen...

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies from Amee's Savory Dish Adapted From Fast Paleo


  • 1 cup almond butter (love Barney Butter smooth!)
  • 1/3 cup honey (can sub real maple syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp. almond extract (or can use all vanilla extract) - (Lauren note: I would use all vanilla next time)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (*only add the salt if you are using unsalted almond butter)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Oil baking sheets or line with parchment paper. 3. Stir together first 7 ingredients. Mix well. Make sure honey is fully incorporated. 4. Add coconut and chocolate chips and mix until well combined. 5. Scoop with a cookie scoop onto cookie sheets. Bake 9-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Yield: about 20 cookies with a level 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop (Lauren note: I got 24!)

Recipe of the Week - Kale with Garlicky-Lime Tahini Dressing

Kale with Garlicky-Lime Tahini Dressing Serves 1 (main course) Serves 2 (side dish)

Prep. time – 15 minutes

1/2 head of kale ¼ c. tahini ¼ c. EVOO Juice from 1 lime 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced/pressed ¼ t. coarse ground black pepper ½ t. anchovy paste

This recipe is to taste. Add more tahini, add less garlic, etc. to make it your own.

Rip kale leaves from stem, rinse and tear into bite size pieces. Place in serving bowl.

Place remaining ingredients in small mixing bowl and whisk for approximately one minute or until well blended and thick. Pour over kale.

Massage dressing WELL into kale with hands. Paying attention to the color and texture of the leaves. They should be bright green and soft.

Serve immediately as a side, or as a main with your choice of protein.

Refrigerate for up to a week.

Recipe of the Week - One Skillet Cowboy Breakfast

This month we took our annual vacation as a family. We decided to try something new and go camping - in a tent - with a 9 month old - and a 5 year old. It was - interesting! We did have fun, but I was beyond proud of myself for being extra prepared and for opting in to do a little extra work at home to eat well when we were there. Instead of the usual burnt hamburgers over the open flame, I did what my mother calls “hobo dinners”. Basically it was meat, veggies, olive oil, and seasonings in a foil packet. They were wonderful! You really can cook most anything over a campfire like that. I had something else in mind for our Sunday breakfast and I could not wait to try making a big cowboy breakfast in one skillet. Well, rain rain rain changed that plan. We did not get to cook that Sunday morning meal, so I used the same idea for a lower effort meal at home the next evening. Heck, half the prep was done!

I made a few minor changes to make things easier for me and boy was I glad that I did. I will include the original suggestions with a strikeout so you can see what I changed and add the variations. And since I had already prepared the “at home” ingredients, so the first part of this recipe was a snap!

Ingredients: 2 medium potatoes 4 small red potatoes 2 Tablespoons cooking oil 1 clove of garlic 1/2 small onion 1/3 lb. ground sausage 1 can of SPAM 5 eggs 1/2 cup cheddar cheese Salt & Pepper to Taste

Instructions: At Home: 1.  Dice the potatoes and onion into small, bite-size pieces. Store them in separate airtight containers. 2. Mince the garlic and place them in a separate container. 3. Shred the cheddar cheese. Pack them in a separate container.


At the Campground: 1. Add the oil to a large skillet and heat it on a stove (if you're camping with an RV) or over the campfire (if you're tent camping). 2. Fry the potatoes until golden. 3.  Add the onions and garlic and fry them until they start to change color. 4. Fry the sausage diced SPAM until they are brown heated all the way through, breaking it up as you cook it. 5. Add the eggs into the skillet, breaking the yolks and mixing them through the entire pan. Cook until the eggs have set. 6. Add the shredded cheddar cheese. Cover the pan for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt. *I didn’t need to cover the pan…everything was hot enough to melt the cheese with a little mixing.

We absolutely loved this recipe. I loved that it was only one pan to clean up and that the entire family was salivating for more! Of course, you can use other veggies instead of potatoes and organic meat. (I could hear some of you cringing at the very mention of SPAM, but I’m not ashamed to say that I love it on occasion!!)


Recipe courtesy of : http://www.campingroadtrip.com/outdoor-living-newsletter-february-2012/ten-easy-breakfast-camping-meals

Recipe of the Week - Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Coffee -- I never used to like it. Then....I had my first child and I started drinking it a little.

Then...twelve months later, I had my second child and I started drinking it a LOT!

So I went from hating coffee, to drinking it with lots of flavored cream and sugar, to just drinking it with flavored cream. Mmmm, flavored cream! All those different flavors to pick from! And then one day I read a blog post about how store bought flavored cream actually doesn't have any cream in it.

That's right, none.

It did bother me to know it was not real cream, but I couldn't drink coffee with just plain cream yet, so I still bought and used flavored creamer for months (cringing often when I thought about what was in it). And then I found this recipe for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer and HAD to give it a try. Who doesn't love pumpkin spice? And just in time for Fall?!

Move over, Starbucks, Mama's making coffee at home! Coffee with cream Pumpkin Spice Creamer: 1 cup whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice 4 tablespoons maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together milk, cream, pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When mixture begins to steam, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator up to 10 days.

Yields 2 cups.

It's not quite as sweet as the store-bought flavored cream, so I do add sugar or some type of sweetener. I would also recommend straining the creamer more then once to remove all the spices from the cream.

Delicious! Amazing! Real Cream!

So go make some homemade creamer, brew a pot of coffee, get a good book and enjoy.

Or at least try to drink ONE cup while it's still HOT and the kids are distracted.

Recipe found at Deliciously Organic. Check out their post for other yummy flavored creamer options including: Cinnamon Strudel, Chocolate Almond, French Vanilla and Peppermint Mocha!

Honest Mama Disclaimer: I will buy and use store bought flavored creamer again, but as much as possible, I'm going to try and make the real thing!

Recipe of the Week - Sweet Potato Brownies


This yummy recipe has been sweeping the internet lately. Who doesn't love a guilt-free brownie?!

Sweet Potato Brownies Prep time: 35 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 1 hour 5 mins Serves: 5-8

Ingredients 1 sweet potato 3 eggs, whisked 1/4 cup Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, melted 1/3 cup raw honey 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips 3 tablespoons Coconut Flour 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pinch of salt

Instructions Time to bake that sweet potato. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, use a fork to puncture holes all around it, then throw in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Once your sweet potato is soft and cooked through, peel off the skin and mash it up in a bowl. And turn your oven down to 350 degrees. Now add your wet ingredients: coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and whisked eggs to the bowl and mix together. Then add your dry ingredients: coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips. Mix well to incorporate. Pour into an 8×8 glass baking dish Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let rest to cool a bit.

Recipe originally posted at: http://paleomg.com/sweet-potato-brownies/

A Seamless Back to School

August is "Back to School" Month for many at The Motherhood Collective. We were happy to share this post last year and thought the suggestions were so great, we'd share it again! Even if your child isn't heading back to the classroom, we hope that these thoughts on transition will inspire you. ~TMC ---

Whether you're homeschooling, co-oping, or sending your child to school; your life is about to adjust a bit with the beginning of school! The key to making it a seamless transition is spending some time in preparation! That word "preparation" sometimes sounds like a scary one to me. We have 3 kids (10, 8, and 5). This is my first year with all three kids in school which is a major life change for me. I've had someone with me for almost 11 years, so the first couple days of school have been very emotional. This season is a stressful, but exciting time for each of us!

A goal in our house is to find balance in all areas of our life: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Facing this new season takes our job as moms to a new focus. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a seamless transition and a happy home.

Plan your breakfasts: I fall into the routine of letting my kids have cereal and fruit each morning, but this year I am challenging myself to wake up earlier and fix them a healthy breakfast (realistically a few times a week). Kids need a balance of protein, whole grains and good omega oils to get their days started. Try making them a green smoothie each morning, a fresh juice, some whole grain muffins, buckwheat pancakes, homemade granola or local eggs and 100% whole grain or gluten free toast.

Incorporating omega oils such as chia seeds, flax seeds and other sources have been known to help children behaviorally and mentally. One study says: Supplements of omega-3 and omega-6 oils can improve the behavior of rowdy kids and help language skills, researchers from England have found.During five months, 65 children with behavioral problems were given a daily supplement of omega-3 fish oil in combination with evening primrose oil (omega-6).

Be creative with their lunchbox: There are so many great ideas out there, especially on pinterest, for lunchboxes. Don’t be satisfied with good old PB&J everyday.. although they will probably have it once a week at my house. With just a little thought and changing around ingredients to make their lunchbox more interesting, your kids will enjoy new real foods without any trouble. Introduce a new veggie or fruit each week. Don’t forget a little note from time to time.


Allow time for some exercise: Fall sports leagues, good ol’ playing outside, or a family walk are all good ways for your child to decompress from a day of using their minds. Being part of a team teaches them many valuable lessons as well. Personally, I have a hard time with teams because our kids are gone for so much of our day. I would really like them to be home with us in the evenings. But I have found that each child claiming one season is do-able for us. We would go to our son’s baseball practices and games together as a family.

Plan family dinners: According to an article in TIME magazine: Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use.

An older mom once told me she would prep most of her meals while the children were at school, or do crockpot recipes, so that when her children came home from school her attention would be on them and not dinner. When it is time for dinner, include your children in preparing it. This teaches both responsibility, independence, and a new skill set!

You don’t have to make an elaborate meal, but try doing a Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, or Wacky Wednesday. Our family enjoys "cooking through the nations". Finding new foods from other cultures and making a theme out of dinner not only helps me prepare, but makes it special for the kids. Having a set theme each week will alleviate the stress of meal planning (which I have not mastered yet!).

Come up with a few questions you consistently ask your kids about their day. Allow them to share their happy and sad times while teaching them about the healthy foods they’re eating. Talk about where the food came from and how it was harvested. Give thanks for real food together.

Rest! Rest is not idleness. But it is a time where we stop, relax and enjoy one another. Disconnect from electronics! Reading together, playing games together or walking together allows your child to connect with you emotionally as well as, decompress from a day of mental focus. Allow a day per weekend to really rest and do what your family enjoys most. Many families in our culture do not understand how to rest. We run from event to event, party to party, sport to sport. If we stop for a moment, we can learn so much from one another and care for the emotions that our family is experiencing.

Back to school time is not just about helping their minds, it's about their emotions and their physical development! By feeding your children healthy, real foods and exercising their bodies, they will be strong physically. With your time writing notes, reading to them, and meals shared together, their emotions are free to develop appropriately. May your back to school days be a special time for your family!

Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you! For more on this subject and others, please check out my website www.puregoodness.net!

Recipe of the Week - Mom's Fresh Mint Tea

Mint Tea

So, it's "Mama Confession Time" here at the Motherhood Collective. Ready? *Deep breath.*

I didn't plant my  garden this year.

Yikes, well there it is.  I know you all are just shocked.

I've got lovely garden boxes full of weeds because tending the babies won over tending veggies.  However, last year I planted mint.  Mint is a wonderfully easy herb to grow and once you plant it, it keeps coming back.

So I have tons of completely "free range" mint and I thought I'd share my mother's recipe for homemade mint tea. You can serve it unsweetened, lightly sweetened, or SUPER DUPER (aka Southern style) sweetened.

Photo courtesy of http://foodgirl-sweet.blogspot.comIngredients: A handful of mint - (Clearly cooking isn't always an exact science.) 7-9 black tea bags 1 gallon of water Your "sweetening" preference - sugar, honey, pixie sticks, etc.

To make a gallon, cut a big handful of mint, rinse it off and put it in a container with 7-9 black tea bags. Boil 2 quarts of the water. Pour the boiling water over the mint and tea bags. Cover it and let it steep about 10 minutes or until the next 2 quarts of water comes to a boil. Pour off the first batch into a gallon pitcher. Now, pour the second 2 quarts onto the same mint and tea bags. Steep another 10 minutes and add to the first batch. My mother adds about 3/4 cup of sugar, so that's what I do...because you should ALWAYS do what your mother tells you!

If you find that this makes your tea too strong, use fewer tea bags next time. If it's not sweet enough...well, add more sugar.

So as we reach the end of this summer, see if you can find a little remaining mint, and try this recipe.  And keep it in mind come spring.  If you plant a little mint, it will truly take care of itself and you'll be able to enjoy homemade mint tea all summer long!


Recipe of the Week - Garden Veggie Linguine with Cilantro Pesto

I may or may not have a secret love life with Pesto.  I love everything about him from his dairy free, herby, nutty, personality to his beautiful color and versatility.  And I love to just eat him up with a spoon. Every now and then, pesto and I go out on the town.  We normally meet up with pasta and veggies.  We have a grand ol’ time.

I thought I’d share this pairing with you.  This version of pesto is good for many reasons—summery, inexpensive, and easy.

So enough about my love life.  On to the ingredients to create your own affair.

Image sourced from: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pasta/garden-veggie-linguine-with-cilantro-pesto/


8 oz. dry linguine or fettuccine (I use half whole wheat and half white)

8 oz. zucchini, sliced

8 oz. pkg. peeled fresh baby carrots, halved

2 oranges

½ cup olive oil

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 tsp. dry mustard (I prefer to use a little Dijon mustard instead)

1 tsp. minced garlic

½ tsp. crushed red pepper

Cilantro and/or finely shredded orange peel and/or orange juice (optional)

Meat or Cannellini Beans for protein (optional; we LOVE cannellini beans in any Italian recipe.  We normally sauté them with onions.  YUM!).

Note:  the veggie listings are easily substituted with whatever you have on hand and whatever sounds good.  I’ve used snap peas, cabbage, spinach, and they’ve all tasted great.


  1. Cook pasta according to package, adding zucchini and carrots (and any other veggies) during the last five minutes.  Drain, reserving ¼ cup pasta water.
  2. For pesto, peel and quarter one orange.  You could also take some zest from the peel and add it to the pesto.  In a processor or blender combine orange, olive oil, cilantro, 1 tsp. salt (I don’t add this much), mustard, garlic, and red pepper.  Add pasta water or orange juice until you get the consistency you want.
  3. Peel and chop remaining orange.  Toss orange, pasta and veggies, and pesto all together.  Top with more cilantro and orange peel.  Makes 4 servings

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.  You can view it here:  http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pasta/garden-veggie-linguine-with-cilantro-pesto/

Understanding the Stomach Capacity of a Newborn

Baby Feet Unnatural proportions of milk are believed by many, to be needed, for feeding a newborn baby.

I would like to put into perspective what is actually needed to fill a newborn tummy over the first few days of life.

A newborn is not thirsty or hungry at birth; the placenta has hydrated the baby for the immediate postpartum hours. The newborn’s golden hour immediately after birth is for bonding, learning how to eat out of the womb, and to start consuming that fabulous colostrum which is excellent medicinally and nutritionally.

How much is too much? Stomach sizes can vary with each baby. Their milk capacity can differ by the gestational age and size of the baby. The average stomach capacity of a newborn is about 7 mL, keeping in mind that 30 mL is 1 ounce. In the first two days of life, 2-15 mL feedings are sufficient for the baby’s well-being.

When babies are given 30-60 mL of artificial milk and are expected to consume this excessive amount, it is an unnatural and unrealistic proportion for their stomachs.

Just to give you a visual of a baby’s tummy…

Age: 1 day Amount Stomach Can Hold: 5-7 mL Comparable Object: hazelnut, thimble, glass marble, thumb nail

Age: 3 days Amount Stomach Can Hold: 22-27 mL (about an ounce) Comparable Object: teaspoon, milk ball, large glass marble

Age: 10 days Amount Stomach Can Hold: 45-60 mL (1.5-2 ounces) Comparable Object: walnut, golf ball, coffee measuring scoop


High volume feeds in the first few days of life can actually stress a newborn’s immature kidneys. That is why colostrum is a low volume, perfectly measured milk. Our bodies know what our babies need. Trust them! --------------- Disclaimer: Anticipation and Beyond uses all reasonable effort to provide accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based information for teaching and counseling purposes. All information that is written for blogs, social media posts, and websites is to be used for education and informational purposes only. All data and instruction from Anticipation and Beyond should not be intended to replace or substitute professional or medical advice from your health care provider. Direct all of your family’s concerns, questions, and health issues to your health care provider.   The information provided is not and may not be applicable to every situation. The purpose of Anticipation and Beyond providing guidance and education to new families is two-fold. The first purpose is for the intention of teaching parents about the many choices and alternatives that are available to them. The second motivation is to encourage families to dig down deep and research themselves from reliable resources that will help to enlighten their new journey.