easy + healthy meal prep | momma’s marinara

Today marks the official start of Fall! Confession: this is my favorite season and no, it’s not because of #PumpkinSpiceLattes (don’t hurt me!) For me, Fall is all about the crisp air, sweaters, boots, visiting the pumpkin patch to find the PERFECT pumpkin and apple picking. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t swooning over the fact that I get to dress up our little guy in slouchy hats, flannel plaids and all the bandanas too. In our family, each season means a new opportunity to maintain and create family traditions and as new parents, we obviously can’t wait to experience our little guys many firsts this season.

Another Fall highlight? The sweet, sweet warmth of comfort food. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me a good salad and enjoy experimenting with different toppings, dressings and fruit/veg combinations but with the Summer heat gone, I obviously am looking for something less-refreshing and more warm and comforting – like most of us! A big misconception out there is that comfort food = unhealthy food and that could not be more untrue. Comfort food can be greasy, comfort food can be full of unhealthy fats and comfort food can also be super delicious AND satisfying.

One of my favourite dishes to make this time of year is marinara sauce. Believe it or not, this has taken over a year to perfect the recipe. If you’re one of my ever-so-faithful readers (love you all) you already know that I like cooking things in large batches to save time on meal prep later in the week. This sauce is perfect for this and best part of all, you can stockpile containers in the freezer for months on end, to save for those days that you are just too tired to cook and don’t feel like take-out.

You may be sitting here wondering how it took me over a year to perfect this recipe and the answer is quite simple…tomatoes! Good quality tomatoes are the key to a delicious and true italian marinara. After many taste tests, most of which were done by my most honest critic and lovely husband, the secret is DOP certified San Marzano tomatoes. These are easy to find if you live in a city that has an Italian Market such as Angelo’s, Bosa Foods etc. I have also been able to find them at natural food stores too.

“San Marzano tomatoes are the most famous plum tomato to come out of Italy. They are grown in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, which gives them a sweet flavor and low acidity and they are coveted for their firm pulp, deep red color, easy to remove skin and low seed count. In fact while regular round tomatoes usually have four or five locules or seed pockets, plum tomatoes like those from San Marzano have only two.

In San Marzano, the tomato harvest begins in August and runs through September. The crops are very delicate and all the tomatoes are picked by hand at the peak of their ripeness. Because of the close attention to quality, many cooks consider San Marzano tomatoes to be among the best in the world to use in a sauce.

The tomatoes are grown under very specific and strict rules and as such, authentic San Marzano tomatoes will have an official DOP (Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta) on the can or jar, although there are domestically grown versions using the same seed varieties. It’s comparable to the difference between French Champagne and sparkling wine from California. Because of their great flavor and texture, very little has to be done to them upon opening then can.” Thank you for the great breakdown http://www.thekitchn.com 

Introducing Momma’s Marinara…

INGREDIENTS

two cans of San Marzano, DOP certified tomatoes

ten cloves of garlic, finely chopped

one small shallot, finely chopped

seven large basil leaves

three tablespoons of EVVO

quarter cup of red vino

one teaspoon of dried oregano

DIRECTIONS

1) In large saucepan, add your EVVO, garlic and shallots and let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, watching carefully to ensure nothing burns – nothing worse than burnt garlic!

2) Drain both cans of tomatoes and empty into mixing bowl, use your hands and smash-up the tomatoes in a bowl before transferring the contents into your saucepan

3) Add in full basil leaves, wine and oregano and let simmer for about 30 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally

4) Remove from heat, and carefully use your hand mixer to blend everything until nice and smooth. If you don’t have a hand mixer, a blender would work too just be careful not to over blend. The sauce should be a creamy, rich and smooth texture

Seriously – how simple is that?! I always have so much fun making this sauce and I swear it’s not just because the recipe calls for red wine! This recipe makes about 12 cups of sauce, so you can easily jar it, freeze it or keep it in your fridge for easy lunch/dinner the rest of the week!

My health hack on this simple yet absolutely delicious recipe is swapping out the pasta noodles for zucchini noodles. Zucchini noodles are a super yummy and healthy alternative and obviously, a great way to get your veggies on the plate with this meal. I use a small hand spiralizer, and use two zucchini per person. Zucchini retains so much moisture, so the best way to cook these noodles is to steam them for a quick two minutes on the stove top. I’ve tried boiling and just heating them in a pan but I found it made the dish super watery. You still get a teeny bit of water in your dish when you steam but very minimal – that’s why I suggest you keep an eye on your sauce to ensure it doesn’t get too thin.

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What is your favourite part of Fall? Do you have any special, fun traditions that you are looking forward to with your little ones? What are some of your most-loved comfort food dishes this time of year?!

As always, thank you so so much for reading! I truly hope you enjoyed my post! Happy cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mama talk | new mom resources + routine

I thought routine was important BEFORE becoming a mom. I never realized it would become even more important (to me) AFTER becoming a mom. Establishing routine for baby and me obviously took major trial and error that is still ever-changing. Accepting the fact that there are going to be good days, bad days, rough nights and awesome nights is a big, important step while figuring out what works for you and your little.


I have always loved having a super well thought out, organized routine, especially in my professional life the past 10 years. I mean, my days revolved around scheduled meetings, conference calls, luncheons, client appreciation events, board meetings and those ever so important mid-day coffee ‘meetings.’

Now that I think about it, pretty much every aspect of my life was well thought out and organized too. Everything from my workout schedule to our meals were super thought out and displayed on a calendar on our fridge (thank you, OCD!) I can’t help but laugh at myself right now as I actually use to have that much time on my hands. A lot of this was because I’ve always liked to keep myself busy. My husband is the same way which is not always the best – we jokingly diagnosed ourselves as having the disease of being busy (yes, it’s a thing. A common one too!)  


Once my maternity leave started (I took two weeks off before my due date) that detailed, well-appointed schedule came to a grinding halt for the first time ever. And it was the best thing ever. I spent my days cat-napping on the couch and binge watching Netflix and terrible daytime television. Best part of all? I did all of this without feeling an ounce of guilt. Our lives were about to change forever as we geared up for becoming a family of three. So was my beloved sleep…so damn right, I was taking FULL advantage of those days, not so patiently waiting for the arrival of our sweet boy.

I eventually remembered that I had a list of things I wanted to get done before the baby came, so my mom and I mapped out our plan of attack and we were geared up to take on the big list. Costco, Wal-Mart, baby boutique, Shoppers Drug Mart….here we come! One thing I didn’t write down on that list? Delivering a baby. My water broke as I was getting ready that morning (Yes, I’m crying) 

Once baby Hunter arrived, my husband went back to work and my mom flew back home to Ontario (yes, still crying) it was just the little guy and me. How were we supposed to spend our days!? These were (still often are) some long days for me as we lived in a new place and our entire family lives across Canada. Family & friends stopping by for regular visits was simply not an option, not for us. Staying at home and not having a ‘plan’ was such a new concept to me. I planned everything, always! So after a couple of weeks of taking it easy at home (basically – eat, sleep, snuggle, repeat) with my newest and tiniest love, I got exploring in my community to see what was out there for new moms and their wee ones. It’s truly amazing how much was out there and offered, but some of it, I would have never known about had I not put myself (and our baby) out there.

As insanely incredible, beautiful and truly fulfilling it is – it’s not easy being a mom. It’s not easy being on maternity leave (no, it’s not a year of being on vacation, despite what some people think) and it’s especially not easy when you don’t have that tight-knit village of supporters (family & friends) around you. It’s actually pretty tough some days, so rather than focusing on how hard it was, I did something to figure out how to best utilize my time to make it most enjoyable for baby and me. It has taken some time, but we have finally figured out what works best for us as far as activities go, while being mindful of our ever so important nap schedule (for baby…sometimes me!)

I know these offerings will obviously vary based on where you live but it will hopefully help you and your baby in one way or another!


Your Community Public Health Unit has some great options for you and your baby including: breastfeeding clinics, ‘baby talks’ which are health lectures on all-things infant related, and postpartum classes/events. Hunter and I never miss a ‘baby talk’ lecture, he gets to check out other babes while I get to socialize with other new moms, all while discussing a new topic each week.

Your Public Library offers story time that even your newborn is welcome at. Story time usually includes a little song and dance part to it as well which is super fun for your baby (and for you, if you enjoy singing and dancing in a circle) Motherhood has really forced me out of my comfort zone, how about you?! They will often bring in a public health nurse one day a week where you can ask any questions you may have and also have your baby weighed. Story time was mine and Hunter’s very first solo outing and it was so much fun. He was the youngest in the circle (two weeks on the nose) and I will never forget his facial expressions during the song and dance part of this. His mind was truly blown and that is why this is a regular part of our weekly schedule.

La Leche League Canada hosts breastfeeding events pretty much anywhere you live. They will usually use a space that is donated to them by local shops; you could be meeting at a coffee shop or a music school. You get to hangout in a super comfortable environment with a bunch of other moms and babies, it’s a great little outing that I am so thankful my sister told me about! Hunter and I went to a few of these especially during his rough Wonder Weeks. It was so nice to have so many other moms to relate to, that were experiencing the exact same thing as us. It was also refreshing to go to a meet-up after getting mastitis, I learned quite a few preventative measures from the Le Leche League host in particular.

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Facebook Mom Meet-Ups. If you don’t have Facebook and are a new mom, you need to get it! There are seriously so many great groups out there! Get looking and you will soon find yourself a hiking buddy, a coffee date, or even a Pizza & Wine night that is being hosted – sans Baby!


Mom & Baby Fitness. Without a doubt, there is at least some sort of mom & baby active-ity being hosted near you! Whether that be stroller fitness, mom & baby yoga, mom & baby running groups…you just need to discover it. This is mine and Hunter’s absolute favorite one. We are in Kelowna right now and they have the most AMAZING place ever….Studio M by MOGA. A community created by moms, for moms. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this place and the truly incredible community that has been created here. They offer a variety of classes including: stroller fitness, baby and mom yoga, family yoga (for your entire tribe) barre classes, circuit classes, yoga sculpting classes, Pilates and they even have a few classes that are strictly for momma to enjoy (after all, we do deserve a little alone time!) Whether you’re gently recovering after birth, getting back into your old fitness habits or looking to get your butt kicked – this place is for you, no matter what level you’re at. It’s a place where you can go to unwind, do your thing, mingle with other mommas & their babes and best of all, not be judged.

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The studio itself is so inviting and warm, they have an amazing play area for the not-so-little babes that are no longer content laying on a blanket, or snoozing away in their car seat while mommy does her thing. They have a beautiful, cozy nursing corner complete with super comfortable chairs and even nursing pillows. As soon as you walk through the doors, you feel a sense of peace and calmness and are so proud that you actually made it (despite that massive projectile vomit or meltdown that occurred moments before getting out the door) The teachers are all so incredible and supportive and make you feel so welcome, whether you’re a regular or joining a class for the very first time. Hunter and I see most of Tessa and Kelly for yoga sculpt, baby and mom yoga and barre class. We absolutely love them and truly look forward to their classes.

After class, you are invited to stay for tea while you mingle with other moms, compare teething stories or simply rest quietly while you feed your babe. You are never ever rushed to pack up after class is done, so you can feel totally relaxed and not stressed out if you’ve brought your cluster feeding babe with you!


If you’ve been following my blog and reading my posts, you already know that staying active and healthy are very important parts to our lifestyle. Maternity leave is a beautiful, irreplacable and amazing time for mom and baby. To me, it is important that I spend these 12 months focusing not only on my baby, but also on me, as a new mama. A big part of that is finding and maintaining a healthy balance each day, both physically and mentally. Studio M by MOGA has been one of the biggest influencers on my maternity leave so far (I’m nearly half way through) they have helped to keep me sane, happy and healthy – all while helping me show our little guy what it means to live a healthy life! Thank you to Amy, the Founder of MOGA, who I haven’t had a chance to meet yet, for creating such an amazing space for all moms (both new & well-seasoned) and to each & every one of the teachers who help to make this space such a fun, safe, and truly welcoming environment for us mommas, our wee ones, our big ones, and our partners too. Keep doing what you’re doing, MOGA! You will continue to be one of the most important parts of our weekly routine, for many, many months to come!

I truly hope this post helped even one new momma, whether you’re feeling unsure, lonely, stuck in a little rut, or just looking for some great ways to enjoy your maternity leave with your little love! What are some ways you like to fill up your days for you and your little one?

As always, thank you so very much for reading!