Recipe | Celebratory Black Bean Soup (Panera Copycat)

Running With Tongs - Black Bean Soup - Panera Dupe

On March 9, 2015 our dear friends K. and J. welcomed their second baby girl into the world. To say we are over moon thrilled for them and big sister K. is an understatement. I am missing those squishy newborn days so I can’t wait to head on over today to finally meet baby L. (as I type this I’m wondering if they planned on sequential first initials…hmm? Anyways of course I am bringing over a new baby dish for them and yesterday afternoon I said wait a minute I should share this recipe with you all! 

Running With Tongs - Panera Dupe - Celebrate

So K., J. & little K. are lovers of Panera, specifically the black bean soup so I thought why not attempt a copycat of one of their favorite soups? I have to say it turned out delicious and I am planning to make it again soon for ourselves.

Running With Tongs - Black Bean Soup - Panera Dupe

Celebratory Black Bean Soup (Panera Copycat)
Serves 6
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  1. 2 Teaspoons Grapeseed Oil (or oil of your choice)
  2. 3-15oz Tins of Reduced Sodium Black Beans, drained
  3. 1 Medium Red Onion, diced
  4. 2 Large Carrots, diced
  5. 2 Celery Stalks, diced
  6. 1 Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow or Orange), diced
  7. 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  8. 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  9. 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  10. 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  11. 2 Heaping Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  12. 1 Vegan Chikn Boullion Cube
  13. 2-3 Cups Water, depending on how thick/thin you'd like your soup
  14. 1 Teaspoon Umiboshi Plum Vinegar
  1. Heat oil a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery and bell pepper, sauté for 7-10 minutes until soft.
  3. Stir in the garlic and spices.
  4. Stir in the black beans (drained not rinsed), tomato paste, boullion and water.
  5. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to medium-low to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  6. (Optional) remove 1/2-3/4 cup of soup and puree until smooth; return to pot and stir.
  7. Stir in the vinegar and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  1. You don't have to use umi vinegar but I recommend it. I use it in basically every soup and sauce that I make because it just makes such a difference. Don't believe me? Try your soup or sauce before adding and then stir it in and taste again- taste the difference?
I am pairing this soup with Beanitos aka my favorite corn-free tortilla chips, a Porter (beer) because L’s middle name is Porter, a session IPA (low alcohol for mum if she so desires), a dry soda and a batch of fresh lactation cookies and some for the freezer because who doesn’t prefer warm cookies straight from the oven and honestly it’s super easy to do. Hoping they enjoy this basket of goodies!

Running With Tongs - BabyMeal- Panera Dupe

Interested in more vegan recipe copycats? Let me know in the comments below!

What’s your favorite soup? I love a really good “cream” of tomato with crusty bread (obvs).

BODY AFTER BABY | Skin Care Products


I have always been interested in skin care products and make up but I really have never taken anytime to learn more and try products. I basically only use a shampoo/body wash combo, conditioner, deodorant (sometimes- hey just being honest) and when my skin is really dried out I might use a lotion but usually I just end up using a sample when I’m out at a store. I also have a little bit of make up but rarely wear it.

I know from the list above it would seem that I don’t really care about taking care of my skin and hair or taking time to put myself together.  The thing is I DO want to take better care of hair and skin and look more put together but I honestly haven’t wanted to spend the money to invest in it, especially when I feel like I don’t know where to start. That’s where Mamamio Skincare comes in; they generously sent me a variety of samples of their pregnancy/postpartum skincare products and I’m ready to take on the challenge of using them.

As part of my Body After Baby journey I really want to take back myself. I want to not only feel healthy but I want to look healthy and put together. I know that being a mom doesn’t mean I have to look like a slob and that doing a few simple things for myself every day like washing my face (yeah I’m terrible and only wash my face in the shower which is like 3-4 days per week), put on a little lotion and/or body oil and also put on a little bit of make up (don’t worry I’m not going to crazy I’m talking just a little foundation, blush, mascara and lip gloss) is going to make me feel better. I think it will also make me feel more productive during the day and motivated to keep taking care of myself.

Today was the first day I used any of the Mamamio Skincare products and after washing my face, putting on some of the Tummy Rub Oil and Goodbye Stretch Mark Lotion I am already feeling a little better and I haven’t even gotten dressed yet.  I need to remind myself that I do have 5-10 minutes per day to do a few little things like this for myself. If I feel good then I can be more focused and productive during the day and that’s better for me, my children and my husband. So I am here to say that I am challenging myself to 30 days of using these products and I will report back at the end of the month about how I feel. Also just for fun I’ll be doing a little giveaway of a few Mamamio Skincare products over on Naturally Family; you can check out the giveaway items over on the NF Instagram account. 

What are your favorite skincare products? What is your beauty routine like? Any tips? 


I call this “the real plan” because back in June when I wrote my postpartum weight loss plan those were all just ideas of what I would like to do. Now here we are 7+ weeks postpartum, have dealt with my postpartum realities and I’m ready to take on the task of refocusing on my health.


Photo from this weekend. 7weeks1day postpartum with Alder (baby #2).

I am currently 20 pounds away from my pre-baby #2 starting weight and I am 40 pounds away from my pre-baby #1 starting weight.  Add in another 15 pounds that I had hanging on me before my pregnancy with Edith bringing the grand total to 65 pounds away from my happy weight (I’d say I’m about 80 pounds from my idea weight but that’s a whole other plan).

Right now I have three goals based on the above considerations. Goal 1: Lose 20 pounds. Goal 2: Lose 40 pounds. Goal 3: Lose 65 pounds. Now I’m not setting a timeline but I will say that I’d like to accomplish goal #3 by December 2016.

August before my pregnancy with Alder.

August before my pregnancy with Alder.

So let me start off by saying my first priority is nourishing my baby boy and taking care of myself. I am nursing and it’s going great and here are no plans to stop anytime soon so I needed to take that into consideration when I created this plan. So here it goes (based on my original postpartum weight loss plan) …

I plan to get back to running at around 9-12 weeks postpartum. Based on my original plan I said 9-12 weeks postpartum and I’m actually feeling pretty great. I have days that are better than others when it comes to healing ie. I still have some light spotting and soreness when I am overly active but have been cleared to start run/walk at 8 weeks postpartum  That being said I am planning to start couch to 5k (or something similar) next weekend. I am terrified but also excited to get back at it. My plan is to slow (not like that will be hard) and just ease myself back into running.

I plan to incorporate 2 days of strength training into my workout routine and light cardio once I am cleared to get back to normal activity. I haven’t started strength training but my plan is to start this week.  What I have been doing is lots of walking and just this weekend a little bit of hiking. Oh and running up and down three flights of stairs many times per day is getting my ass in shape. So that all being said I’m keeping up with the walking and will be incorporating in strength.

I also plan to get back in a yoga routine. This starts this week! I signed up for my first postpartum class for this Monday night and I can’t wait to get back in the studio. I am starting back slowly with some restorative yoga and let me tell you I just can’t wait. I am going to be doing one class weekly or bi-weekly until my punch pass runs out.  I am also planning to do at least one at home sesh per week.

Keep my eating in check! Bah. This has seriously been the hardest. Nursing is no joke and my appetite is often off the charts. Combine that with a busy toddler, trying to keep house and limited time I haven’t been doing my best at eating well. I have been eating far too many sweets and not enough fruits and vegetables. The plan is to BUY more fruits and vegetables because if we have them in the house we will eat them. The second plan is to buy/make less desserts.  The third and probably most important thing is to menu plan so that #1 and #2 can be successful.

Drink lots of water! When I was pregnant with Alder I had no problem downing (reusable) bottle after (reusable) bottle of water. For some reason postpartum I have been struggling with this despite always being thirsty. My goal is to drink, drink, drink and drinks some more water. Cut back on the coffee and up the water intake.

Buy myself postpartum clothes in whatever size I have to buy. This is easier said than done but I did it. I bought myself (with some gifted from my parents): three bottoms (one of which is already too big), six tops and two pairs of shoes because my feet also grew. I was also sent a few nursing tops for review.  My follow-up to this plan is to continue to buy clothes in whatever size I am at the time aka as I lose weight. I have the next size down in a lot of clothes and as soon as I lose a little weight and my hips (hopefully) shrink a bit they will fit me and then after that I will have to buy all new clothes because I have nada.

Have Fun and Enjoy Life. Stop focusing solely on the number and focus on how I feel. I have two beautiful, healthy children and an amazing, supportive partner and they need met to happy and healthy and to enjoy life with them.

NetartsTrip2014-CapeLookoutEverybody NetartsTrip2014-CapeLookoutCrazyEyes


Postpartum Body | Realities

orbit upside down family photo basecamp Life after baby is pretty wonderful. We are settling in as a family of four and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life and father than Neil. Edith is loving being a big sister and she is pretty amazing at it. While all that is wonderful adjusting to my new body isn’t going quite as well as I had originally hoped. Here is the reality….

  • None of pre-pregnancy clothes fit. I’m 5+ weeks postpartum and none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. It’s honestly a little defeating. I know it’s still early and I know from my pregnancy with Edith that they weight doesn’t just fall off for me.
  • Buying new clothes sucks. I have attempted to buy new clothes that fit my current postpartum body and honestly I am just feeling super defeated. I am trying not get get upset about the size on the tag but it’s really a challenge. I am also feeling frustrated because I honestly don’t know how to dress this postpartum body. Nothing seems to fit right or fall in a flattering way and well it’s no fun, none at all. I ended up buying a pair of cropped pants from Loft and I bought them because I didn’t hate them and they fit. Now wearing them I feel like an old lady. Blah.
  • Being kind to yourself is sometimes easier said than done. I know that I have a beautiful baby boy and I am less than 6 weeks postpartum and not cleared for regular activity but I am not happy with how I look and feel. I know I need to be kind to myself and I really try to remind myself of those great things but some days it’s just not that easy.

When I was still pregnant I was feeling really hopeful and positive about things but right now I’m feeling pretty down about it all. I had vowed to go shopping for clothes that fit well and to not stress about things but when you have 10 pieces of clothing and 9/10 don’t make you feel like you look good it’s really challenging to stay positive. I’m working on it though. Everyday is a new day and I know I need to work on being kinder to myself. I need to listen to my husband when he compliments me or encourages me to do things for myself. I need to realize that 5 weeks is not very much time and that right now I need to focus on healing taking care of myself and my family.

I know this post is kind of a downer but I wanted to share my realities. Life isn’t always rainbows and kitty cats. I’m not always feeling great and sometimes I find myself feeling negative about myself and my body. Now that I have said all this I can tell you I am already working on changing the way I think about things. Improving myself and my attitude. I’ll be posting more on that and my “plan” next week.

Have you ever felt down about your body? How did/do you deal with it? If you have had children how did you react to your postpartum body?  Two years ago I wrote a similar post all about my foreign postpartum body.

Postpartum Weight Loss “Plan”

Here I am at 31w3d pregnant with baby #2

Here I am at 31w3d pregnant with baby #2

I’m not going to lie I am really hoping that I actually lose the baby weight this time around. With Edith I gained around 25-28lbs and within the first 8 weeks I lost 15 of those pounds. Then I got the Paraguard IUD and quickly the weight came back on. I will also admit the Oh She Glows Chocolate Chip Cookies and the stress of moving didn’t help with my weight loss either. When we moved to Oregon I made an effort to get my diet back on track, started running 4 days per week and doing 1-2 days of strength training. Despite all of that I simply wasn’t (and didn’t) lose any of the baby weight.

1 Year Postpartum after having Edith

1 Year Postpartum after having Edith

Finally at 16 months postpartum I decided to have my IUD removed due to negative reactions to it (I’ll write more about that another time) and while I had it removed due to non-weight related reasons I was as little hopeful that I might start to see my weight go down. Well as you all know we are pregnant with #2 and due in 7ish weeks. So I never had a chance to test my theory. Also that means I started my pregnancy at the same weight I ended my last pregnancy and I have gained 20lbs so far and if you want to do the math that means I have between 45-50lbs to get back down to my baby #1 pre-pregnancy weight oh and on top of that I was already about 15lbs over my ideal weight when I got pregnant with Edith. So that is 60-65lbs to get down to my goal weight.

Summer 2011 before getting pregnant with Edith <-- also my goal weight

August before getting pregnant with Edith

Baby #2 Postpartum Weight Loss “Plan”:

  • I am not going back on birth control as we are two and done so birth control is officially all Neil *snip snip*.
  • My first priority is feeding baby #2 so for the 12 months my focus is to keep my milk supply up so I can feed my baby.
  • I plan to get back to running at around 9-12 weeks postpartum depending upon my healing this time around (with Edith it took me a lot longer to heal then I had hoped).
  • I plan to incorporate 2 days of strength training into my workout routine and light cardio once I am cleared to get back to normal activity.
  • I also plan to get back in a yoga routine since I have a 10 punch pass to a studio by our old house (and now by Neil’s new job) that I was lucky enough to get the expiration date extended until sometime in December.
  • Keep my eating in check! Postpartum/nursing hunger is no joke. Seriously when I first had Edith and was nursing non-stop I could have eaten everything in site.  This time around instead of lots of Oh She Glows cookies I’m focusing on keeping it healthy but also making sure not to be too hard on myself when it comes to having a treat here and there.
  • Drink lots of water! Nursing makes you crazy thirsty and staying hydrated helps to flush toxins out of the body and helps to prevent water weight (I know crazy right?).
  • Buy myself postpartum clothes in whatever size I have to buy. I wore maternity clothes until around 8 months postpartum with Edith because I was just waiting to lose the weight and didn’t want to spend the money on new clothes that I hopefully wouldn’t have to wear too long. The thing is that wearing maternity clothes after the first six weeks of being postpartum is just depressing. Wearing clothes that fit well and look nice is an incentive to keep with it! It’s motivating! Feeling confident in what I am wearing helps me feel good and keeps me on track so this time around I’m not going to be wearing maternity pants for months and months postpartum. I actually have been consigning maternity clothes as the seasons change so that they just won’t be in my closet ie. I won’t be tempted to wear them.

So that is my current plan. How did you deal with losing the baby weight?

9 Months Postpartum

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I knew that losing the baby weight might be a challenge. I had hopes, not too high, but hopes nonetheless that I would lose the baby weight much more quickly than I have been. To be honest I lost a bit in the first 6 weeks and then I got my IUD which seemed to make me put on a little weight (side effect) and then we entered the craziest two months of our lives with preparing to move, limbo and finally moving but being without any of our things for a month.

9 months postpartum

During the month of December I really slacked on the workouts and indulged in way too many peanut butter balls. In January we finally moved and things slowly started to improve. I started to increase my activity and only ate one cookie per day instead of three peanut butter balls per day.

You’ll probably be shocked (*sarcasm*) to hear that I became a sugar addict. So in February Neil and I decided to challenge ourselves to a cleanse. No processed sugar or caffeine, both of which I had been over indulging on.  The first three days were hell but by the end of the cleanse I had greatly reduced my dependance on both sugar and caffeine and am proud to say that two months later and I do not crave either.  I still enjoy a small piece of chocolate or a dessert once in awhile as well as one cup of coffee per day but it is nothing compared to the massive amounts of sugar and gallons of coffee I was drinking.

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In late January/early February I finally got back to consistent running and I have been going strong.  I finally feel like I am back in a good routine and I have a few races coming up. I feel like this has been the tipping point for me and I am finally feeling better, looking better and even losing some weight (3.6 lbs since the beginning of March).

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My goal when Edith was born was to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by her first birthday and back to my pre-pre-pregnancy weight (I put on a few pounds before I got pregnant) by next fall.  I am currently not on track to lose the weight by then but am hoping to be back/closer to my pre-pregnancy weight by the end of August.

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