Healthy Buffalo Chicken MeltsPrint Recipe Print Recipe


This whole two kid thing is kind of kicking my ass.

Forget the grocery shopping and making sure there’s dinner on the table 7 days a week, I just finished my <errr 2013> taxes!

Can we say master procrastinator?

Yep, 100%. Right here.

Alright back to business. Sorry, had to get off my chest. Felt like it was a good 10 pounds I just lost.

Speaking of weight. More like baby weight. Ugh. Nevermind.

I’m just trying to make healthier decisions. But aren’t we all?

My goal is to make 2-3 main meals a week so I don’t snack all day. Having an infant attached to my breast or glued in my arms and a demanding toddler, it’s hard not to snack on salty (current addiction is tortilla chips and hummus) or sugary foods that are right at my finger tips. I mean, they’re just so good. And easy. It just doesn’t feel great afterwards.

Recipes like this, I double the chicken mixture so there would be leftovers to put on salads, more melts or simply eat with a fork. Soups have also been great because all I have to do is reheat.  Another “trick” is keeping the blender on the counter as a reminder to make smoothies.

Now I just need to increase my vegetable intake…



I’ve made probably five recipes from the SkinnyTaste Cookbook. Our absolute-make-again- favorites were these Buffalo Chicken melts and then the Slow-Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili Verde and the Baked Potato (with Cauliflower!) Soup. My husband and I, in food heaven. Amazing, ALL of it.

All the recipes are low calorie and made with all natural ingredients. The bonus for all of you, a lot of them are gluten-free!

It’s just the beginning. We’re eating our way through this baby.


Buffalo Chicken Melts, Gluten-free (option)

Slightly adapted from SkinnyTaste Cookbook

Serves 4


  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken or breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise (I used regular)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Frank’s RedHot sauce
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 slices of gluten-free bread (she uses multigrain), slightly toasted
  • 8 thin slices tomato (I used 4 larger slices)
  • 4 slices reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese

For the Slow Cooker:  

  • 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, quartered (optional)
  • 1 celery stalk (optional)
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley (optional)


Slow Cooker Chicken 

In a slow cooker, combine chicken breasts, enough broth or water to cover the chicken, onion, celery stalk, and parsley – if using. Cover and cook on high 4 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred it with two forks. Discard the remaining liquid and vegetables. Leftover chicken can be refrigerated up to 3 days.


Buffalo Chicken Melts 

Adjust the oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat broiler

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, carrots, celery, red onion, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and cayenne (if using).

Arrange the toast on a baking sheet and put 1-2 slices of tomato on each.  Divide the chicken salad evenly among the slices and top with 1 slice of pepper Jack. Broil until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 2 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to avoid burning.

Serve hot and enjoy!




Maternity Photos by Catherine AbeggPrint Recipe Print Recipe

All photographs by Catherine Abegg // 35 weeks


I didn’t do maternity photos with Mason, our first born.

I loved my belly, but was so uncomfortable in my skin. I was sick most of my pregnancy. I didn’t buy cute maternity clothes. My face looked pregnant. Why would I pay someone to photograph me?

But I wish I had.


Having lost my mom recently and going through photographs, all we wanted and all we dug for were the photographs of her or her with our family. The older the better.

Knowing that we would be done at two, I called up photographer, Catherine Abegg who had previously done our family photos and asked if she could get a few shots of the belly.

My cell phone selfies just weren’t going to cut it.


Holding our son in my arms, I look back at these and it almost brings a tear to my eye.

I may not have loved every day being pregnant, but I loved my belly. Even more, I love that my body grew two healthy, beautiful boys.

That’s what maternity photos should be about. Celebrating and embracing the beauty of what our bodies can do.

And these have done just that. As well as capture the pure happiness that’s written all over my face.



I would have loved to do a maternity session with Mason and Ben, but honestly, I was so tired. And HOT. I just wanted an easy half hour or so to play around in her studio. And that’s what we did and it was SO fun.

In the next few weeks, we’re having her come to our chaos home to capture the whole family. I’ve never liked family photos, but now I treasure them. I also feel they’ve taught me to be less critical and embrace the imperfections. Or maybe that just comes with age?



I pulled out this silky blue dress for a few shots. It isn’t maternity, but one of the most special pieces in my closet.

Several years ago, my mom took me shopping for my 28th birthday. My clothes hadn’t been fitting and wasn’t feeling great in my skin. I had flown in from California where my husband and I had been living. Her and I went shopping where she bought me this dress and a few other pieces. We got our hair done and lunched at our favorite spot. It was a perfect day.

A week after, I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant with out first son.

It doesn’t matter what size I am, that dress makes me smile. And it makes me think of the memories with mom.


Vegan Pasta w/ Sundried Tomato & SpinachPrint Recipe Print Recipe


I’m not vegan, but I do enjoy vegan meals.

Since having Gray, I’ve been trying to limit my dairy where I can. I consumed quite a bit of cheese while I was pregnant. Shocking. Now, I’m just trying to make more nutritious choices. However, life with two kiddos – a 3 weeks old and a 22 month old, getting into the kitchen is a bit of a joke.

Baby steps.

Starting with EASY.

I mean, so easy that I’ve made this with one hand. The other hand/arm was holding Mr. Gray. I may have had spices all over the counter, but I still did it.



It’s almost like a cheese sauce, but without actual cheese, cream or the heaviness that a cream sauce can feel like.

What makes it “cheesy” is the nutritional yeast in the sauce.

I buy it in bulk because between this and my special popcorn, we go through it quickly.

As for the pasta, I like it best with shell pasta. Maybe because it feels like I’m getting my mac and cheese fix? Then I got all fancy with the sun-dried tomatoes and spinach and avoided the temptation to go down memory lane and throw in a sliced hot dog. You did that as a kid, right? Gosh, it was my FAAAAVORITE.

Oh and before I add in the spice, I make a small batch for mason. The whole family eats it, even my meat eating husband.


Speaking of family.

Having two babies under age two. How in the world do you go anywhere or get anything done?? That’s a serious question. How? Mason is still young enough that depending on his mood, he may throw the biggest fit about holding my hand and try and run out in the street or parking lot. He’s also so obsessed with his little brother that if I turn my back for two-seconds, he’ll try and pick him up. So, unless my husband is with me or I have them both strapped into the stroller, I’m taking one baby at a time.

Just because I said this out loud now, my husband will probably come home to tell me he’s leaving on a business trip.

*knocking on a lot of wood*


This is another recipe I created for one my favorite company’s, DeLallo. They provided me with their gluten-free products (& compensation). Again, I only work with company’s that I believe in and actually use – they’re absolutely one of them. Everything from the gluten-free pasta options, to the sauces, antipasti, etc. They are top notch.


Creamy Vegan Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato & Spinach

2 large servings  


Amazing vegan sauce

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons vegenaise
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes – optional


Cook pasta according to package. Note: best cooked al dente

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Super easy. In a medium sized bowl, add almond milk, nutritional yeast, vegenaise, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes for extra spice and whisk it all together.

Drain pasta and place back in the warm pan (burner on low). Mix in the amazing vegan sauce, chopped spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Let it sit for just a few minutes until all the ingredients are warm.

Serve and enjoy!

Optional – top with additional red pepper flakes for EXTRA spice. 


*gluten-free *dairy-free *vegan


Birth Story of Gray Baker ThielePrint Recipe Print Recipe


That’s me, high on morphine and very very happy about that epidural that just kicked in.

It was Tuesday (August 27th) afternoon – I was a little over 38 weeks and had just finished my weekly doctors appointment when I started having more consistent contractions. Of course I was 30 minutes from home, running errands by myself. I actually think the best part was the woman in line behind me at Gap Kids who finished telling me that she went into labor in the car driving home from the mall… Great, as if I wasn’t already paranoid about having this child in my car.

I drove straight home and crawled right into bed. Then it was dinner time. And then a toddler who needed his mama.

Finally, around 8pm my husband who couldn’t contain his excitement made the executive decision that we’re going in.

My sister who also couldn’t contain her excitement decided to just drive straight to the hospital vs. waiting for us to call if we were staying or not. I was the only one not excited because with my luck, I’d be having contractions for another week before I had this baby.

After getting hooked up and checked, I was still dilated to a 2. I had two options – 1. stay for a few hours & walk the halls to see if I progressed or 2. they could give me a morphine shot (in the bum) and I could go home and sleep. That was an easy answer.

I did ask her one questions. When would I know it was time to come back? Keep in mind for Mason, I had a scheduled induction. She said when contractions were happening every 5 minutes and I couldn’t talk through them. Sweet, can’t wait.

I hardly made it to the car and my eye lids were trying to shut. I told my sister I didn’t need help walking because I was excellent core. Um…right.

Once we got in the car I asked if we could get a milkshake. I hadn’t eaten since lunch and that sounded like the best thing on earth. A vanilla milkshake. And from McDonalds. It was also the only reason I stayed awake for the car ride home.

I came home and slept for TWELVE HOURS. It was better than amazing.

My husband worked from home so we pretty much hung out on the couch all day. I even napped. It wasn’t until 3pm (on Wednesday, August 28th) that the contractions started picking up so I decided to time them. Thank god there’s an app for that.

They were happening every 5 minutes and becoming more difficult to talk through. It was also getting closer to 5pm and all I could think was rush hour and Mason needed to be picked up before 6pm. I just decided to have my cousin take Mace and keep him for the night, hoping we would be having the baby in the next 24 hours.

We got in the car and sure enough, traffic. I was so paranoid I was going to have this baby in the car.

Ben dropped me off at the front where was sister met us while he went to park the car. Again, they hooked me up and I had gone from a 2 to a 3 in 24 hours. Except this time contractions were getting more intense and there was no way I was going home.

Oh, did you know they don’t admit you until you’re dilated to a 6. Also, they can’t induce, break your water or intervene any other way before 39 weeks. Gosh, I learned so much.

The on-call doctor came in and asked if I’d stay for a few more hours and try walking the halls. There’s no magic in walking, but seemed like something was more likely to happen doing that vs. lying down. The doctor admitted that she wasn’t all that comfortable sending me home.

A few hours passed, she checked me and guess what… I was STILL at a 3.

So, I took another small dose of morphine in the ass and we headed home, again.

My sister picked up Thai food and followed us back to our house.  It was probably 11:30pm when we got home. I shoved a few bites of pad thai in my mouth before I headed upstairs to go to bed. Sure enough, about an hour later I woke up wanting to die. I could hardly breathe through the contractions. I pulled out my phone to time them and they were happening every 4-5 minutes for about 40 seconds.

I didn’t realize my sister was planning to stay the night until I got downstairs. Apparently her and Ben both knew I’d be having this baby before the morning. The contractions were so intense, I thought I’d wake up our neighbors as I walked to the car.

You know that fear I’d be having the baby in the car? Yeah, well my husband missed the f’ing exit (one we’ve taken FOREVER). I started crying. I may have even yelled at him. I can’t be sure, but I definitely went into panic mode.



It’s almost 1:30am in the morning which meant we had to go through the ER entrance.

I felt like I was in a movie.

I was bent over the counter, letting out cries of pain and breathing so heavy that I’m sure everyone was just starring, probably praying I didn’t have a baby on the floor.

I was that person.

They quickly wheeled me up and the same girl who’d checked me in the previous two times, was of course working. She took one look at me and said “ooookay, we’re just going to check you and get you right in.” I think she said I was dilated to a 5 or a 6. I was still high on morphine and delirious from contractions that I can’t remember.

Within 30 minutes, I was in a room, robe on, and the guy was prepping me for an epidural. Before the epidural could even kick in, my doctor walked in. Usually the on-call doctor delivers, but she’s a family friend and was not about to miss this birth. God, I love her.

The energy in the room was calm and light. Also some good laughs, which is guaranteed with my sister in the room.



Now it was close to 3am and all I wanted to do was sleep. The nurse asked if I’d let her know if there was any pressure. “Well… yeah, kind of, but I really just want a nap.” she checked and I was dilated to a 9 and no cervix. Yeah, no nap for me. So bummed.

I literally pushed for 10, maybe 15 minutes before we were holding our beautiful baby boy – 3:28am!

I didn’t get to hold onto him for too long before they had to pull him off me. He got a little lazy and forgot I couldn’t help him breathe outside of the womb. Neither nurse or the doctor had an ounce of concern on their face. I studied them to be sure. It was maybe just a few minutes before they were handing him back to me and I just held onto him like there was no tomorrow.

He was (still is) absolutely perfect.



It was like Christmas morning for Mason. Can you tell?

He was so excited, he nearly jumped out of Ben’s arms just to touch and kiss the baby. The moment couldn’t have been sweeter.

He’s going to be the best big brother.



Me and my boys, all three of them.

I have so much love for them and I’m so excited to watch these two grow up together. Mason’s already keeping a close eye on him.



The naming process is always hard for us.

We always said we’d be done at two so when I found out we were having a boy, I felt a sense of loss. I wanted a daughter.

When my husband and I were in our early teens, we fell in love with the name Grace and said if we ever got married and had a girl, that would be her name. Then when my mom passed, we had hoped it was a girl even more so we could giver her my mom’s middle name, Ann.

It took a while for us to start talking about names, but when we started, we began with Grace, which then lead to Gray. His middle name Baker is my maiden name, but also my mom’s last name and her business name, Baker Avenue. It was important to us that we had a piece of my mom’s name and Baker seemed very appropriate.

And that’s where the name Gray Baker Thiele came from.



I was surprised. I didn’t cry or feel emotional during the birth like I thought I would not having my mom there.

It was a much happier experience than I had anticipated.

I feel the comfort of my mom the most when I hold onto him or look in his eyes. He’s such a gift to this family and probably in more ways than I even know. In case you’re new to the blog, I got pregnant (not trying) a few months before my mom passed away. The full circle of life happened right under one roof.

Mason is also a gift, don’t get me wrong. He’ll probably be the one who is the most connected her with out of all of us.

Anyways, my boys have one hell of a guardian angel.


Gray Baker Thiele |  7 lbs 9 oz  |  18-inches