Hearty Paleo stuffed pepper soup

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It's finally fall and the cool crisp air is definitely a welcomed thing! The leaves are changing, I'm pulling out my sweaters and I'm starting to use my crockpot more and more. This hearty stuffed pepper soup is delicious - the perfect way to welcome fall. And as I continue to incorporate more clean eating and paleo recipes into my lifestyle, this one does not disappoint. Enjoy!


HEARTY PALEO CROCKPOT STUFFED PEPPER SOUP

Ingredients:
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 lb mild or spicy italian sausage
3 bell peppers, any color, diced
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
32 oz. broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)
1 cup water
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups cauliflower rice (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Brown meat and drain grease
  2. Add all ingredients to crockpot and stir 
  3. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours (if using cauliflower rice, add during last 30 mins)

MomLife: Louisville --- Interview with Cara Althaus of Caroline Couture Photography

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[I originally wrote this post for Louisville It Mom earlier this year. Because Cara is one of my dear friends and an amazing photographer, I wanted to republish it here now that Louisville It Mom is no more. Enjoy!]

We all know time goes by so quickly. One of the only ways we can actually freeze moments of time is through photography. The photos that adorn my walls or sit in frames on my bookshelves all have the ability to remind me of moments in time I will cherish forever. I always marvel at a photographer's ability to capture even one frame-worthy photo of my family as there are always so many variables (wind, melt-downs, trying to get 4 kids to sit still and LOOK AT THE CAMERA for goodness sake)! However, with a well-trained eye, a lot of patience and a steady hand, someway, somehow, a good photographer can usually make it happen.

Cara Althaus is a dear friend of mine who happens to take some of the most beautiful family photos I've ever seen. Her interest in photography was sparked during her high school years, but it wasn't until she became a mom that it turned into something more. After graduating from college with a degree in fashion merchandising, she had a few jobs, but ultimately became a stay-at-home-mom after the birth of her first daughter, Reese. As she began to take more and more photos of her own children, her love for capturing those special family moments once again began to take shape. After learning more about the art through a mentoring session, Caroline Couture Photography took shape and became a flexible way for her to fulfill the need to be creative while not missing any moments with her own family. Now, as mother of two beautiful girls (second daughter Ella just turned 2), Cara is the perfect example of how motherhood often ignites our passions.

Read below to learn one of her most memorable sessions as a photographer, and laugh along with one of her "mom fail" moments that we can all probably relate to!


LIM: What did you want to be when you grew up? How did that change through the years?

CARA: When I was really young I distinctly remember saying I wanted to be a zoo keeper, which I can not imagine doing now! I can remember always being drawn to creative type ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up. As I got older, I thought I wanted to do something with fashion which is what I ended up majoring in in college, fashion merchandising. Once I graduated from college, I worked in retail management and quickly realized the hours were not for me. I then worked in sales but when my first daughter was born, I knew I wanted flexibility in a career to be able to spend the most time with her as possible.


LIM: When did you start getting interested in photography and when did Caroline Couture come about?

CARA: Photography is something that started to interest me in high school when I took a photography class. It was put aside for many years until my first daughter was born and I bought an entry level camera to take photos of her, having no idea what I was doing. When my oldest daughter was two, the opportunity arose to do one on one mentoring with a talented wedding photographer that had photographed my sister's wedding. I jumped on the chance and began learning my camera, posing, interacting with clients and other important things I needed to know. At that point I started shooting friends and their families and my own daughter, learning my camera as I went. 2012 is when I began taking on some clients and my business has grown from there, adding more and more families each year.      


LIM: Tell me about your most memorable moment as a photographer.

CARA: There are so many memorable moments when I'm photographing families. Little interactions between moms and their little ones always seem to be my favorite. My favorite memory in particular is when my best friend Sherah's little boy Gabe was born. I was there with her to photograph his arrival. We had known for quite some time that Gabe would be born with a heart defect. There ended up being complications with the delivery and ended in an emergency c-section. The doctors and nurses whisked Sherah and her husband away to deliver the baby as quickly as possible. On top of being scared for Sherah, her husband and their sweet boy, I was disappointed I wouldn't get the photos she was so hoping to have.  Thankfully, the nurse brought me in minutes after Gabe entered the world and I was able to photograph his initial meeting with his mom and dad, the moment when his grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts and uncles first laid eyes on him and later in the NICU. Sherah has told me many times how much she cherishes those photos because it was a long time before she got to see and hold her new baby. Gabe spent some time in the hospital including having open heart surgery but is now a happy healthy growing baby. That definitely tops my memorable moments, I can't think of a higher honor than being there as a mom welcomes her baby in to the world.
  

LIM: How have your children inspired you?

CARA: My girls inspire me every day to be a better person and better photographer.  I know how fast time goes and how much my girls have grown over the years and how important it is to capture not only your children as they grow but to capture their little personalities and to capture families as a whole.  It's so important to me to catch families interacting, laughing, hugging and loving on each other because those are the special things we do everyday that we want to remember later when they are grown.


LIM: Tell me about one of your worst mommy moments or funniest "mom-fail".

CARA: Oh where do I begin? One moment that sticks out in my mind is the first trip to Target that I took with both girls alone. Ella was a newborn and Reese was 4. Shortly after we got there, Ella was hungry. We snuck off to the dressing room so I could feed her. It was looking like things were going OK, Reese was going to sit and look at my phone to stay occupied. Then she announced that she had to potty and could not wait! So, I had to stop feeding the hungry newborn, who was now screaming and rush to the opposite side of the store with my 4 year old who is about to have an accident. We made it to the bathroom with Ella wailing in hunger, poor girl. We eventually made it back to the dressing room for her feeding and finished our shopping trip. Since then, we now have thousands of successful trips to Target under our belt.


LIM: Share one moment of motherhood you are most proud of.

CARA: The moments that I have been most proud as a mom are when my daughter who is 6, has spoken about her love for Jesus and our moments when we pray with her before bed and you can see her caring spirit when she wants to pray for others. There are many moments that I wonder how I'm doing as a mom or if I'm failing them in some way but then there are moments like that that I feel like my husband and I are doing something right.


LIM: What would you tell your pre-child self about motherhood?

CARA: I was never one of those people who always dreamed of being a mom or who wanted to have lots of kids but if I could go back I would tell myself how amazing and rewarding it is. That it is truly the greatest gift I could ever image and that I didn't know it was possible to love another person the way I love those two girls.

As you can see, Cara loves what she does...both her role as photographer AND as mom. Embracing the journey of motherhood and still finding ways to incorporate your own passions into your life is what we are all about here at Louisville It Mom!

Here are some of the beautiful photos Cara took of our family:


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Head over to Caroline Couture's Facebook page to find out how to book your next photo session with Cara, and be sure to follow her on Instagram to check out more of her amazing work!

Paleo For Beginners + 10 Easy Recipes

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Besides time, one thing moms usually need more of is energy. For months (okay let's be honest...years) I have tried various "diets" that promised to help me lose weight and feel amazing. Some were mildly successful in one area or the other, but it wasn't until I started really digging in to the science behind the food we eat that I decided to make a "lifestyle change" and give Paleo a try.

In a nutshell, a Paleo diet means no grains, no sugar, no processed foods. By eating "like the cavemen" once did, we allow our body to rid itself of toxins built up in our system by overprocessed, high-sugar foods. So what can you eat? Below is a helpful little breakdown on the what's and why's of a Paleo diet. [source: www.acleanplate.com]

Paleo cheat sheet: www.acleanplate.com

I started eating a Paleo diet last year (on and off) for several reasons. I needed more energy. I wanted to shed some of my baby weight (nevermind my "baby" was over a year old) and I wanted to change the way my family ate in general to help my kids understand healthy choices and nutrition. I wasn't sure I would be able to stick to it since it did mean making some pretty drastic changes (no more bagels with my morning coffee? yikes!) However after the first few days, it really was very easy.

Paleo for beginners


Here are my pointers to help you succeed:

  • Plan plan plan. I am a planner by nature so this part came very naturally to me. I created a 2-week meal plan and I posted cheat sheets with healthy paleo snacks on my refrigerator so I had a visual list to help me out. Once I had my meal plan and grocery list made, I headed to Fresh Market (my favorite) for a lot of my list, but was also able to find a fair amount of organic meats and produce at my local Kroger.

  • Clean out your pantry/fridge/freezer. I assessed the items that I already had and gave myself a solid C from a "clean eating" or Paleo standpoint. I didn't want to just toss things that I knew were not Paleo friendly, so I made it a point to include those items in our meals over the next few days before I could get to the grocery and officially "start" our Paleo adventure. Other things I gave to friends so it wouldn't go to waste. You could even take all unopened items to your local food pantry if you wanted. Having a clean slate to start with is very helpful. Temptation can derail any kind of diet so removing things you shouldn't have will make things much easier.

  • Watch local ads for deals. Local health food stores often send out weekly mailers with their specials. This week it's $4.99 for grass-fed sirloin. That's $3 off! You better believe I will be stocking up on their antibiotic and hormone free meat at that price. It is especially helpful to have an extra freezer or deep freeze to maintain stock of items like this so you can take advantage of deals when you find them.

  • Experiment with recipes. Not sure what to cook? If you type in Paleo in Pinterest you will find a gazillion recipes and websites with lots of good information. In the beginning, I went with easy, low ingredient recipes so I knew I wouldn't overwhelm myself in the kitchen and lose interest. (I forgot to mention that I do NOT like to cook). After a lot of trial and error, we found a handful of recipes that we absolutely love and usually just stick to those spread out over the 2 weeks. Nothing wrong with eating the same meal every week!

  • Stick to it! It might seem difficult at first, but I promise it gets easier. Once you give up your frequent dose of caffeine - whether it be coffee. multiple iced teas, or an afternoon Diet Mountain Dew - you will realize that eating the RIGHT foods naturally fuels your body so you don't need that junk. You will start to make it through the day without a 2pm crash. You will have energy to head to the gym after work or after the kids bedtime. You will most definitely see a change in your body - most notable for me was a 12 lb weight loss, clearer skin, and NO MORE BRAIN FOG (what I often called "mommy brain"). SO worth it!

Overall I think the best part of eating a Paleo diet is the fact that you are not dieting at all. You can still eat so much amazing food - sweets included! - if you just commit to making a few simple swaps (almond flour instead of other grains for instance).

Head on over to my Pinterest page for all of my very favorite Paleo recipes including these:

Have any of your own Paleo tips for beginners? Leave a comment below!

[This blog post also appeared on Louisville It Mom]

MomLife: Louisville

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Many of you may not know that last year, my friend Ashlea Mullon and I developed a blog called Louisville It Mom where we posted all sorts of things that would appeal to moms living in our hometown of Louisville, KY.

Ultimately, however, we decided that we each had too many aspirations in mind and projects on our plate to focus on making Louisville It Mom the success we knew it could be. It was a wonderful experience where we learned so much from working with eachother, but now, we will each move forward in our own creative directions.

For me, it means I can dedicate more time to writing again here on More Skees Please. And of course, things are in full swing with my nonprofit apertOWL and I will continue to expand my efforts there as well.

With that said, we made many great connections and networked a great deal around town and I hope to share more about Louisville with my readers in a new series, "MomLife: Louisville". The primary focus of More Skees Please will continue to be a lifestyle, parenting and special needs blog, however every now and then I will spotlight local businesses, professionals and moms that share a love for this wonderful city I call home.



Whatever city YOU may be reading from, I want to thank you for your continued support (of course), as well as encourage you to explore YOUR hometown and support your local businesses!

Taryn

Finding Balance as an Overwhelmed Mom (My debut piece on Mom.me!)

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Summertime for stay-at-home moms across the world can sometimes be panic-inducing. For 10 months, children have been out of the house for more than 7 hours every day and then bam...that reprieve is yanked out from under you. But with lots of preparation, some deep breathing and a huge dose of positivity, chaos does not have to ensue. Head over to mom.me to read my take on keeping life balanced in this season of motherhood. And be sure to take a look around their site for more great content on life, health and motherhood.

Upright and Steady: Finding Balance as an Overwhelmed Mom on mom.me