Postpartum Elation

Hey all,

I’m sitting at my table with my 2 year old daughter on her “laptop” next to me and my 4 week old son napping in his swing.  Where have I been since my last post?  Well…Hyperemesis Gravidarum got me again!  (See previous post about HG in my first pregnancy).  At some point I will rehash my experience with the second go-around of this little-known disease that can occur in pregnancy.  But for now, I am enjoying what I call Postpartum Elation.  It’s the name I’ve given to the feeling that comes after you’ve been so sick for 9 months, missing quality time with your toddler, and then you get better all while finally meeting the new tiny little human that was inside of you – within a matter of seconds after birth.

And what a (re)birth it has been!

I’m enjoying eating food and drinking water again.  These basic needs that my body rejected for the entire time I was pregnant have now been front and center in nourishing mine and my newborn son’s body.  It has given me my mood and energy back to be able to chase my daughter again.  She has learned pretty quickly that Mommy can now catch her when she tries to run away!

All this to say…I’m baaaaaack!  Happy New Year, everyone!

In health,


Perfume is Poison!

Are you guilty of ‘freshening up’ after a long day with….gasp…another spray of perfume or cologne?

I used to wear perfume regularly until about 8 years ago when I noticed a connection between fragrances (a nice way of saying man-made petrochemicals) and what I previously thought was motion-sickness.  It made sense – headaches and nausea often happening in the car…sounds like motion-sickness to me!  However, it was much worse in  certain cars with certain people.  I became very aware of people’s perfume and noticed these symptoms arising in enclosed areas even outside of planes, trains, and automobiles. This was no motion-sickness; I’m just more sensitive to POISON than the average person.

According to the Environmental Working Group, although many scented sprays contain a tiny amount of essential oils, the majority of the ingredients both by volume and amount are synthetic chemicals often derived from petroleum.  Companies are allowed to list, simply, “fragrance” as an ingredient in order to keep their trade secret.  This is all thanks to the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act that came about in 1973 which, for some strange reason, requires other cosmetics to list their ingredients, but specifically states fragrances as an exception. Hmm.

Independent (non-biased) testing revealed there are a whopping 38 chemicals amongst the top several leading fragrances.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics discovered the top offenders are American Eagle Seventy Seven, Chanel Coco, Britney Spears Curious, and Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio.

These chemicals include known hormone disruptors, allergens, and toxins.  Others have not been studied and are not yet known to be safe or harmful.  Most have been found to accumulate in our bodies over time.  And guess what, ladies?  One of the biggest offenders, diethyl phthalate, likes to bind to human fatty tissue and concentrates in breast milk!  And what about our men?  This same ingredient has been known to cause sperm damage.  Male and female hormone disruptors and sperm damage?!  With 1 in 8 couples dealing with infertility, how about digging deeper into the things we eat and put on our skin?

Do I think you smell beautiful?  Yes!  Just shower and brush your teeth. :-)  You don’t need the “fragrance”…you don’t need the risk. Plus, who wants to be the reason for someone else’s headache or asthma attack?

In health,


P.S. Fragrance in scented candles, lotions, soaps, etc. are guilty too!  If you like scents, check out essential oils and learn how to safely use and diffuse them.



Protein Ball Recipe

These protein balls are so quick and easy to make, require no baking, and are great for on-the-go nutrition.  Perfect for picky eaters, too!  Try them for a complete breakfast, quick snack, or healthy dessert.


1/2 ripe banana

2 T cashew butter

1 T coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/8 cup ground flaxseed



1. In a large bowl, mash together banana, cashew butter, and coconut butter.

2. Mix in cinnamon, oatmeal, and flaxseed.

3. Roll into any size balls (or flatten for ‘cookies’) and place on wax paper.  They will be very wet and gooey at this stage.

4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.




In health,


A Day in the Life of … Me!


A little late in posting this…  My friend, Olivia, was nice enough to give me the opportunity to write a guest blog on her site, “Lovely At Your Side”, which she and her sister started a few years back.  This series is about moms’ schedules and how they get it all done.  Thanks, Olivia!


You know when you come across moms who totally inspire you? That’s Tara! She’s a mother-baby nurse, a nutrionist, and owns her own “SnugBug Fitness Class” where she helps moms get in shape while wearing their babies. Not to mention she’s super smart, friendly, and has a gorgeous pixie of a baby girl named….Magnolia. Swoon. Totally girl-crushing on today’s A Day in the Life Of guest poster! Take it away, Tara!

A Day in the Life of Tara Allen…6:00 AM – The alarm goes off. Magnolia has been up and breastfeeding since 5:30 (for her 5th middle-of-the-night feeding). I still set a ‘just in case’ alarm everyday.

6:15 AM – Done breastfeeding. Giggles, poking Daddy, and saying “Mama” about 20-30 times before we get out of bed.

6:45 AM – Done with diaper change, vitamins, dressing, combing hair, and brushing teeth. The brushing teeth thing is more like an opportunity for Maggie to bite my finger without being told not to bite. Teething again, right? ANY day now!

7:00 AM – Joe hangs with Maggie while I quickly wash up and throw some workout clothes on. We have 2 classes to teach today!

7:15 AM – Pack the car – carseat, baby carrier, diaper bag, pocketbook, iPad and notebook (a.k.a. my mobile office), resistance bands, water, breakfast and lunch for mini-me and me.

7:30 AM – Kisses, coats, and out the door.

7:30 AM – 8:15 AM – drive to Huntington, listen to music, news, podcasts. Turn it all off. Sing “The Wheels on the Bus”. That seems better. Magnolia catches a quick cat nap. I find some parking in between construction zones. Please don’t wake my baby!

8:15AM – 8:45 AM – Mobile office open for business. Check emails. Post on Facebook about the construction / parking situation for everyone. Write routine for today’s classes.

8:45 AM – Princess is awake. Perfect timing – was just going to wake her. Quick feeding and diaper change in the car. Time to teach our SnugBug Fitness class!

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM – SnugBug Fitness class. We talk, we sweat, and I feel lucky to do what I do.

10:15 AM – Another diaper change and feeding in the car. Blog about class. Welcome new clients. A gentle wrestle and toy distraction to get M into her seat. It works!

10:30 AM – Drive, drive, drive. Magnolia needs a real nap now and this is just about the only way we can get one.

11:15 AM – She’s asleep!

11:20 AM – She’s awake!

11:30 AM – She’s asleep!

12:00 PM – Call my mom from the car (hands-free, don’t worry). We talk about some holiday plans we have coming up and schedule some Grandma-Magnolia time (which equals some work time for this Mama).

12:25 PM – Arrive in Mineola. Park and continue to work. An opportunity to meet with the web developer after this next class. Great! Take notes for meeting. Hopefully a little sweat and a baby won’t be a distraction for my meeting.

1:30 PM – M wakes up – 2 hour nap – sweet! Lunch time. We eat (where else?) in the car today. She reluctantly takes a bottle of pumped milk at this time. I’m starting to slowly wean, so this is the “no boobie” time. Diaper change. It’s warm today – we head outside for a walk and a little fun Mommy and me time.

2:05 PM – Enter the wellness center to set up for class. Magnolia loves this time as she runs around the room and we listen to music. Quick dance party. Maggie’s got some slick moves already at her ripe ol’ age of 1.

2:15 PM – 3:15 PM – SnugBug Fitness class #2. Fun, fun! 2 workouts in one day is not such a bad gig, either.

3:25 PM – 4:30 PM – Pack up and head over to meeting. Joe works in the same building and can take Maggie for a few minutes while I meet with the web developer. Perfect! Concentrating on updating site to take registration for upcoming nutrition seminar I will be teaching. Oh no, is she crying?? “Mama, mama, maaaaaa-maaaaa!” Yup, she is. “We’ll finish this via email. Thanks”!

4:30 PM – Back in the “boobie” time frame. Nurse M and change diaper. We drive home in traffic and I break out the Christmas songs very early this year. She sings along with a “ya-ya-ya”.

5:30 PM – Home and unpack the car. Shower / bath time for us! Pajamas X 2 (why not?). Maggie grabs a book. We read. She eats the book. We play with her new medical kit. “Are you going to be a nurse like Mommy?” “Mama?” I’ll take that as a maybe. A load of laundry goes on, breastmilk defrosting to make bottles, and time to start cooking. I cook dinner for us, breakfast/lunch/dinner for Maggie for tomorrow, and breakfast and lunch for myself for tomorrow – I will be working all day at the hospital. A giant post-it note details all of Maggie’s meals for tomorrow so our family / babysitters know what she gets and when. This happens when you’re Type A, a bit overprotective of your child’s health, and out of the house for 15 hours straight.

7:00 PM (shoot, later than I planned) – We eat dinner. Joe will be home around 7:30.

7:30 PM – Joe is home! “Hello”, catch up for 5 minutes, and he brings M into the bath. Phew! Time to clean up from dinner, wash the dishes, flip the laundry, and start to pack things for tomorrow. Set the alarm for 4 AM.

8:00 PM – Pack my breast pump for work tomorrow, stock the diapers and wipes in the nursery. Take out the garbage and diapers. Lay out my clothes in the bathroom (so I can just slip out of the bedroom without waking anyone in the morning). Joe does lotion, bedtime stories, and brushes teeth. Sleep sack on and we meet on the couch to breastfeed. She’s not sleepy yet. She climbs on us. Sleep sack off. We chase her. She giggles – a lot!

8:40 PM – Rubbing her eyes! Let’s try again. Sleep sack on. Breastfeed to sleep. Joe and I stare for a minute as usual. She’s so beautiful! We’re so lucky! Joe scoops her up as I plant one last kiss on her forehead. “Is the sound machine on?” “Yup”. Transfer to her crib. It may only last about 2 hours, but it’s a start! Time to fold laundry, finish last minute emails, post the recipe for what I made for dinner, and catch up with Joe about the day.

9:20 PM – Crawl into bed. Try to get a solid hour or two for now. Magnolia will be up between 10:30 and 12 and will be nursing and co-sleeping with us from then on. Now’s my chance to sprawl out on the bed! Double and triple check my alarm. Goodnight!

Bring on tomorrow….

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Variety is the Spice of Life

I get asked a lot about how I balance my daughter’s meals. I definitely put a good deal of thought into this, because I believe the fuel we put into our bodies (especially at such a young age), is one of the most important determining factors in our health: immunity, cell growth and destruction, mood, energy, allergies, and overall health.

I also believe we should be mindful of teaching and demonstrating great habits and body image for the sake of our children.  I don’t want Magnolia to start counting calories when she’s 10, or hearing me ever say something like “I CAN’T eat that – it’ll go straight to my hips”!

The best I can do is the best I can do. Let’s take the stress out whenever we can.  Let’s enjoy real food prepared deliciously – and simply – as much as we can.  Our kids will see us enjoying the experience of nourishing our bodies, having conversations about our day, sharing special milestones with others… all while trying new foods and feeling guilt-free!

Here are a lot of the things I vary for my daughter’s daily menu.  Some are for her health, some for her taste buds, and others for her to learn about her body and skills as she eats and feeds herself too.


Macronutrients – protein with every meal and snack, lots of fresh produce, healthy fats (omega 3s, unsaturated, saturated – avoid trans fats!)

Color – fruits and veggies come in all colors of the rainbow. Each color offers different micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Aim to get in most colors most days of the week. Look for flash-frozen versions of produce when out of season.

Texture – smooth, lumpy, hard, liquids. Get them used to different textures as early as they can handle each.

Temperature – cold, room temperature, warm (obviously not hot, but have to say it just in case). ;-)

Mode of ‘transport’ – finger foods, utensil foods, cups, etc.

Flavors – change it up and have fun! Sometimes bland, sometimes add different spices and herbs. Always try it yourself first to make sure the food isn’t too spicy.

Raw and cooked – Fruits and veggies – different heat index can “lock” or “unlock” certain nutrients, rendering them more or less bioavailable.


The main point here is that feeding a baby or child can be fun! Keep it healthy, only spend hours in the kitchen if you want to, and be a good role model about your own food choices and body image self-talk.


In Health,


SnugBug Schedule

Updated SnugBug Fitness (babywearing and pregnancy class) schedule is as follows:

  • Sundays 9-10AM in Mineola (77 Jericho Tpk – Happy & Health pediatrics)
  • Wednesdays 10-11AM in Huntington (Heckscher Park or The Sandbox Playspace – 51 Gibson Ave.  This location depends on weather).
  • Wednesdays 2:15-3:15PM in Mineola (77 Jericho Tpk)
  • Thursdays 9-10AM in Mineola (77 Jericho Tpk)

Come join us!!

Current ways to RSVP is on my Facebook page: or email me at

In Health,


Hyperemesis Gravidarum

…Or HG, as it’s known.

What IS this little known (and hard to pronounce) disease that is said to affect 1-2% of pregnant women?  Hyperemesis Gravidarum literally translates to excessive vomiting during pregnancy.  Princess Kate was just forced to announce another pregnancy before she was ready because she is suffering from it for the second time.  It’s what those of us with one HG pregnancy hope we never have to deal with next go-around (if we’re lucky enough to have more children).

As a registered nurse in the mother-baby field, I had heard about this disease, but surely there is no REAL understanding until it’s happened to you.  Imagine the worse stomach virus you’ve ever had, and dealing with that for months; even being told it may last with the same intensity for the whole pregnancy!  I am not a dramatic person, however, I will say simply that there were lots of moments that I didn’t think I’d make it through, and until I could feel my baby kicking at 16 weeks, I did not believe she could possibly survive (and be healthy) with such conditions.

To spare you all the worst of the details, I will sum up by saying there was CONSTANT nausea, lots of vomiting, dry heaving, medications galore (to think, I was all excited to have an all-natural, holistic pregnancy – that went out the door very quickly).  There were a couple of ER visits, and a longer, one-week hospital stay for a new type of treatment (that unfortunately didn’t work). Home care nurses, 24/7 IV infusions, daily weights, and measured urine was part of the gig.  No one could cook ANYthing in my home (not even brew coffee) or that would send me into a tailspin.  My poor husband made his morning coffee in the garage every day.  Oh, and perfume or scented anything spelt like poison.

With the life sucked out of me and rapid weight loss and dehydration, I barely had the energy or desire to hold a conversation.  I remember telling my mother on the phone one day that I felt like a mere shell of myself.  My husband, family (especially my mom), best friend, and competent doctor were all on “my team” and I feel as though they were my cheerleaders pushing me to get through each day.  I often think about other pregnant women in the same situation without such a supportive team and it makes me so sad.  No one should have to be strong enough to deal with HG alone.

I am writing this blog to reveal my huge gap in postings last year as well as to bring some awareness to this disease we know so little about.  What causes it?  What can be done about it?  This is beyond ginger, hard candy, saltines, and Preggie Pops.  Lemonade, dry carbs, the juice from canned peaches, and ice pops didn’t help.  Everyone had such great suggestions and anecdotes about what worked for them; unfortunately, I didn’t find relief with any of it.  With all the medications and interventions, I was still incredibly sick for months and months.  I was lucky enough to be able to return to work around week 22 (of a 40 week gestation), but continued to get “sick” EVERY. SINGLE. DAY – including 3 hours before heading to the hospital for delivery.  I was weak.

Funny little story… I remember going out for a walk as soon as my IV was discontinued to build up my stamina and try to get myself back to be able to work a 12.5 hour shift at the hospital.  I let my ego get the best of me.  It sounds crazy, but I could feel the baby settling down and relaxing with the movement.  I said “That’s right baby, your mama loves to workout.  I’m sorry I’ve had to lay on the couch this entire pregnancy so far, but this will be our new normal”.  Ha!  So much for that!  After my lofty 4 house-long walk, I returned home and was sick the rest of the day.  Looking back, the humor is not lost on me.  I did ‘rehab’ myself back up to getting to the gym.  However, my workouts did not resemble what I had been able to do before or what I thought I’d be doing while pregnant.

Magnolia was born 6 lbs 6 oz (a healthy weight, especially considering we were told all along that ‘the baby’ was at risk for being small).  I was eating and holding down all food within minutes of her birth.  It was amazing!!!  I have felt great and have since put back on the weight I was down.

All thoughts of wanting to expand our family in the future are met with equal amounts excitement and waves of fear.  What if it happens again?  How will I care for Magnolia?  I’m told based on statistics that I have a 50% chance of getting HG with a future pregnancy. Yikes!  I hope luck is on my side.

We will figure it out as everyone does everyday with their lives – happy milestones and hardships alike.  Magnolia is lucky she’s so cute, as any past mention of ‘the baby’ being grounded for life because of how Mommy felt went out the window the moment we met this beautiful little person.  She brings us so much joy and makes my heart swell everyday.

I hope no one reading this ever has to deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  But, if you do, please feel free to reach out to me or the wonderful organization called the HER Foundation (  Let’s spread the word about HG – it’s real, and it needs attention and research.

I am back to being able to savor the smell of a great cup of coffee.  I’m going to keep savoring it unless or until I can’t.  Magnolia needs a sibling one day.

In health,



A quick post for a quick story…

While at the park with my daughter today, we walked passed a man with two young boys (maybe 8 and 10 years old).  There were several sets of stairs they were walking by and both boys wore a huge smile as they ran towards the steps and up and down each set.  I should add that it was hot and humid today – probably almost 90 degrees at that time.  Their happiness spilled out in short bursts of laughter and drips of sweat.

When children are removed from the “screens” (computer, video games, etc.), and are given some time in the outdoors, they PLAY and stay active.  It’s just in their nature.  I’m not sure when that changes for us, but for an 8 and 10 year old today in a park on Long Island, running up and down the stairs was not a “workout”, it was simply a way to play.

Maybe we should restructure our attitude and language that revolves around exercise, workouts, etc. and just start calling it play time!

In health,


Green smoothie / quick lunch

After buying the huge box of organic spinach while food shopping this week, I figured I’d better start eating more greens before they go to waste.

My lunch today was a sandwich made with Ezekiel bread, hummus, avocado, tomatoes, and sprouts.  To add some more protein, I had a side of cottage cheese with chives, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a cherry tomato (which just didn’t fit on the sandwich).  It was delicious!  I washed it down with a green smoothie.  The smoothie came out better than I expected, considering I didn’t put much fruit in there to sweeten it up.  In fact, my 9 month old daughter wore a green mustache of approval after I let her try some.

Here’s how I made it: In a blender, mix 2 big handfuls of organic spinach, a small handful of frozen mango chunks, and 8 ounces of water.  That’s it!  This yields about 2 cups of the smoothie.  It can be pre-made and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  This helps if you leave for work early in the morning and don’t want to wake the whole house up with the noisy blender.

This smoothie consistency is much like a thick juice.  If you like yours a bit thicker, add more frozen fruit or ice cubes.  If you choose these additions, drink right away before it separates.

This was a great quick, healthy lunch.  Total prep time for whole lunch: 5 minutes or less.

In health,