I wrote on Parenting.com today about my approach to diet during pregnancy; in a nutshell, so to speak, I'd thought, before becoming pregnant, I'd avoid all of the foods Kaspar's allergic to while baking baby #2. Not only did my first trimester cravings blow that plan out of the water (hello, junk food), but -- now that I'm in my second trimester, or will be tomorrow -- I'm not only feeling far more energetic, and 'normal' in general, including in terms of the foods I'm craving (hello, wholesome healthy stuff), but I've got a game plan for *hopefully* setting new-baby up for an allergy/eczema/reflux-free start. That game plan is the full GAPS diet. Sans the nuts and wheat, the former of which is allowed on the full diet and the latter of which is allowed (in sourdough form) if no digestive problems are present... but since neither digests super easily for anyone and since both are major allergens in general, I'm just avoiding them. Easy enough. I've read the GAPS book, which is densely packed with nutritional information; it corroborates with what I've learned over the past three years, and what's been working, overall, for Kaspar. And since we already eat nutrient-rich, real-food fare up in here, I'm only having to tweak a few things to transition into GAPS-ville. The diet basically heals and seals the gut, thus healing immune system-related health woes (of which Americans suffer many, food allergies among them). I'm planning to take Kaspar, and our family, through all of its stages once baby's here and the timing is right, but for now we're starting at the least restrictive, most nutritionally broad place -- the "full" GAPS diet -- as per the recommendation for pregnant women. Anyway, go ahead and read up via my post on Parenting, and on other blogs, like this one. Then get to your farmer's market and into your kitchen, cuz the best part of this approach to gut-love is that you get to fill your belly with good, nourishing food. 

I should mention that there's quite a bit of meat involved in the GAPS diet. I was grooving on a mostly vegan spurt a while back, which felt light and clean in my body at the time. I think I needed to detox in a major way and sort of reset once our two years of sleep deprivation resolved to some degree, and eating tons of plant matter helped get that work done. (As did an Ayruvedic cleanse I did a short while later. I felt like a whole new person after that. Still do.) But I then found myself drawn toward meat again -- high quality, locally-sourced meat that hasn't suffered, that is -- and whenever I get acupuncture I'm told I should be eating it regularly. (Something about building my blood.) Pregnancy only increased my desire for it. So, while it may feel like I'm somewhat all over the place on the subject, good meats remain a part of my, and our family's, diet. As far as GAPS is concerned, that's a healthful thing, especially for expecting mamas.

With that in mind, I made a recipe from the GAPS book (linked above) last night, tweaking it a little to my liking. Aaron and I have each made stuffed peppers before, but only vegetarian versions (they make for an attractive, and generally popular, veg dish). Thus, last night's version -- which were definitely not vegetarian -- were quite different than our previous renditions. They meat is flavorful, but dense. I definitely suggest eating these in a bowl with a good amount of the stock they cooked in surrounding them. I chopped mine up a bit in the stock so as to create a kind of soup, and that was delicious. I also suggest adding whatever vegetables you'd like to the meat mixture before stuffing the peppers, and some cumin. If you're eating dairy, throwing some shredded, raw cheddar cheese in with the meat mixture before cooking would also be kind of amazing... In short, these stuffed peppers are filling and tasty, but I could tell -- even at first glance -- the original recipe was written by a doctor, rather than a chef. I'm eagerly awaiting the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, which is due to arrive at my door any day now; it's recommended by the GAPS people and boasts an index full of mouth-watering recipes. (I peeked at its back pages on Amazon.) Anyway, I've gone ahead and written out my improved (and yummy) stuffed peppers recipe below -- feel free to tweak it further. If you do, let me know what works well!

Click "Read More" below for the recipe!

I've been taking it easy on the blogging over the past several weeks due to general first-trimester sea-sickness, plus some winter-sickness action, but both appear to have mostly passed. (FINALLY.) I've been feeling a bit better for a little while, actually, but things have been so busy around here -- we've had grandparents in town, birthdays, workdays and, um, a string of late-night Downton Abbey marathons (Aaron and I are catching up to the current season, thanks to Hulu Plus) -- that I just let this here little website sit pretty for a minute while tending to life at large. Anyway, thanks for your patience. I knew you'd understand. ;-)

Despite the nausea and the head cold and all of the busy, I'm still feeling pretty nesty as of late. My home-improvement passions at present seems to revolve those things at eye-level and above, perhaps because our house is desperately lacking in that department, except in Kaspar's room. My list of projects for 2013 includes hanging house plants, window treatments and our art. (Also, this in the hallway outside our bedrooms.) And because -- and I truly believe this -- intending something strongly enough to actually write it down often spurs the universe into collaborative action, we received a mysterious, large package in the mail just days after I made a note of these items that'll soon grace our vertical space. Inside were six paintings Aaron had sent to San Francisco for an art show two years ago, but which disappeared before arriving at their Mission district destination, never to be seen again. We've even moved in the meantime, and yet there they were, at our (relocated) door, out of nowhere, several weeks ago. They're gorgeous and I love them, and I'm so glad they made their way back to us, because now we have a stash of art to hang on the walls, as intended. Aaron played the whole thing really cool, but I could see in his eyes that the reunion with his work was a joyful one for him, too. Now he gets to bust out his art handler skills and get these babies up (I'm not being lazy -- he won't let me hang the art), along with the painting he made for me, for Christmas, and two or three of our favorite posters (framed -- this isn't college) we've been staring at, at ground level, for over a year. Yay, art. 

As for house plants and window treatments, I'm going to need to educate myself on each item before diving in. I'm excited for both, though, the former for their aesthetic lushness and air-purifying powers, and the latter for color and character which will no doubt surpass our current stock of venetian blinds. 

In the meantime, I've made a couple of first-trimester-friendly (read: nausea and exhaustion-proof) projects and hung them above our kitchen table. They were suuuuper easy, and they give our space a fun, festive vibe. First, I created some scrap fabric bunting, shown in the photo at top, using -- you guessed it -- scrap fabric and a hot glue gun. This took all of half an hour, and felt as satisfying as a sewing project without the grueling... how-do-you-say... sewing. I chose the fabrics and their arrangement pretty randomly, but I love the way the colors work with the one painting of Aaron's we already have hung on the far kitchen wall. Aaron says it looks like a birthday party in the kitchen now, to which I say "exactly." 
The other project I hung I created from the star-shaped cinnamon ornaments we made for our tree this past holiday season. (We followed this recipe, at the time-- a great family activity, but make sure the littles don't taste the dough, as the spices are intensely concentrated, and will burn baby lips. Youch.) They still smelled so good when we finally undressed our tree, late in January, that I didn't want to throw them away. So I strung and hung them up, as a garland, across from -- and providing balance for -- the bunting, with the hanging lamp above our table serving as an anchor for each, in between. I love the stars' natural, earthy appearance, and although their cinnamon-clove scent is subtle, it's still there. In fact, because both the bunting and the stars are high enough to clear our heads when they walk underneath, both are subtle, in a way, and a little surprising. I think they give the room and its inhabitants an unconscious lift.
Stick around for posts on hanging house plants and window dressings. (And even baby beds that extend from above.) Let me know if you have tips, ideas or inspirations for eye-level-and-up nestiness, too! 
We joined Kaspar for an early birthday celebration at his school this morning. (He's actually turning three on Monday). Aaron and I shared photos and stories from when Kas was one and two, his class sang him a song as he "walked around the sun" three times, and he proudly distributed his homemade (hypoallergenic) chocolate chip cookies to his friends and teachers. It was pure sweetness. 

In other news, I've been sick for a week! (Don't worry, I'm not contagious at this point; those cute kiddos won't get sick on my account!) We'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming here on Alt-Mama just as soon as I'm feeling halfway normal again. ... Which better happen soon. Sheesh. 
I was recently interviewed by YourBabyBooty.com, an amazing website full of empowering information for parents! Check out the video (click here, or on the image above or below) and share with anyone you know who's hitting up against a wall but knows, deep down, there must be a way through.