Monthly Archives

April 2012

Everyday Lunch: Quinoa Salad with Broccoli

April 20, 2012

Last week when I posted this salad that I take to lunch each week, lots of you responded saying you wanted to see more lunch ideas on Espresso and Cream. Sometimes my lunches are just a random assortment of whatever is left in the fridge, but other times I take a few extra minutes to prep something more reminiscent of a meal.

One of my favorite strategies for lunchtime success is to prepare a large batch of whole grains at the beginning of the week to go in lunches in the days to come. Quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat pasta are my personal favorites because they’re so easy.

 Here’s a look at what I ate this week! It was filling, veggie-packed and healthy. Though if I made it next time, I would suggest crumbling a bit of feta cheese atop the salad before serving, since feta makes almost anything better.

Quinoa Salad with Broccoli
*1/2 cup cooked quinoa
*1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
*2/3 cup steamed broccoli florets
*2 tablespoons Ken’s Steak House Light Caesar Dressing
*Salt and ground black pepper
*2 slices whole wheat toast (optional but highly recommended)

*Toss the quinoa, lettuce and broccoli together in a travel storage container. Just before serving, toss with the dressing and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Serve with the toast. Enjoy!



What do you eat?

April 19, 2012

When I was home in Idaho a couple weeks ago, my dad asked me (earnestly, not in a sarcastic manner), “What do you eat?” You see, my dad’s a very healthy eater, but the world of vegetarianism is an uncharted world to him. After returning home, his question stuck with me. What do I eat? Normal things, of course! It was so familiar to me, that I hardly knew how to answer the question.

So to answer the question, I made a habit of snapping a few photos before I sat down to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dad, and everyone else reading, here is what I eat…

{Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and sugar-free jam with coffee, of course}
{Cornmeal-crusted baked tofu, broccoli and slow-cooker black beans for lunch.}

{Steamed green beans with spray butter, whole wheat toast with 
Laughing Cow cheese wedges and grapes.}
{Whole wheat tortilla, roasted asparagus with caramelized onions, 
black beans and mashed avocado for dinner.}
{And, of course, the occasional mini cupcake for dessert. Aren’t these the cutest?}
Vegetarians or vegans out there: What do YOU eat? Anything crazy creative or out of the box?

Tracking Food and Protein Consumption

April 18, 2012
Happy Wednesday, everyone! Nutmeg got a haircut last Friday, so we took a few beauty shots. She was also complaining about not being on the blog much lately, so before I get to talking about food tracking, here are a few snapshots.
Lately, I’ve been getting quite a few Tweets and e-mails about protein and nutrition, much of which is directly related to being a vegetarian. Many people wonder if you can get enough protein day-to-day without consuming meat, and the answer is, yes! I’ve done a few protein posts in the past (found here and here), but I thought that today I would show you a handy little tool that I’ve been using over the past couple of months that has transformed the way I track food intake. 

I discovered My Fitness Pal a few months ago after searching for an online tool that would allow me to enter my daily eats. Every now and again I found myself writing down what I ate during the day or running a mental tally of the number of fruits and vegetables I consumed, the calories taken in, protein eaten. Instead of jotting this information down on slips of paper (which ended up in the trash) and calculating the information by hand, I wanted the ability to search a database for ingredients and record my eats all in one place.
Here’s a look at what a typical entry looks like for me…
The site makes it incredibly easy to track everything you eat, with a huge database full of ingredients. You also have the option of adding in your own items if you can’t find them in the database or enter something by calories alone if that’s all the information you know about it. 
Once your information is all entered for the day, you are left with a little summary like this…
You probably noticed that I came out in the negative (meaning I had too much) for all the categories (daily calorie intake, protein, carbs, and fat), which is because I underestimated my daily exercise when setting up the program. I should probably adjust that sometime soon to be more reflective of what I actually need/expend. 
And the protein? As you can see, today I got a whopping 82 grams of protein! I love being able to see all the interesting places the protein comes from. Obviously there was a good deal of protein in the veggie burger I ate at lunch, which is expected. But it goes to show that other, smaller sources of protein really add up. A little Greek yogurt, some black beans, a whole wheat tortilla, and peanut butter, of course! 
I want to make it clear that I do not use this site as a weight loss tool (though if you have weight you want to lose, you certainly could), but rather a way to check in a couple times a week to make sure I’m consuming enough fat and protein and eating a variety of foods.

So that’s that! Protein, food tracking and all. How do you guys stay on track? Do you have a food journal or an online system that you use?


No Fat Talk Tuesday: Tara’s Story

April 17, 2012

Last month when I was in NYC for work, I had the opportunity to meet Tara of Chip Chip Hooray in person.  I had ‘talked’ with Tara for the longest time via Twitter and through comments on our blogs. Now that we’ve actually met, I feel a little less crazy calling her a friend. In the short time I’ve spent with her, I can tell you this: Tara is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and radiates confidence and joy. I hope you are as touched by her story as I was. – Madison

Like a lot of the women who’ve told their stories here, I can remember the first time I decided that I needed to lose weight. I was thirteen, and when I stood sideways and looked in the mirror, all I could see was the—to me, unacceptable—curve of my stomach. For more than a decade since then, thoughts of weight and food intake and need for exercise have alternately consumed and exhausted me.

While I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, I know that the way I viewed and obsessed over food could for a long time have been labeled “disordered eating.” I counted calories, panicked if spontaneous changes of plans pulled me away from my preplanned meal or normal exercise routine, and, on top of everything, still felt hungry more often than not. Going to the gym was a punishment to me—I loved food (if you read my blog, you know I still do), but every cookie I ate had a price in the form of more minutes logged on the treadmill, more laps spun on the bike.
I saw results in the form of my jeans size. But I didn’t feel any more secure in myself. If anything, the desire to run harder, restrict my diet more, made me feel like I could be “better.” I just wasn’t working hard enough, and I looked in the mirror every day and told myself that. If you were skinnier, more boys would look at you. Why did you eat that dessert? Everyone noticed and thought you were a pig. At the outset of my college years, I was subsisting on a granola bar for breakfast, a soup-to-go and an apple for lunch—nowhere near the nutrients I needed to rebuild from the workouts I was putting my body through daily. 
At some point, something had to give. As I became closer to the girls who would become my roommates and best friends throughout college, I found a group of girls who made me feel safe. They too loved to celebrate through food—it was rare that something wasn’t cooking in our apartment—but for once I knew that they weren’t judging me for the food I put in my mouth, or analyzing the fit of my jeans the way I so often imagined others to be doing. 

I don’t think I have felt truly comfortable in my relationship with food, and with my own body, until now, though—and it is still a daily struggle. Just before the new year, I decided to channel my exercise into a plan. If I had some sort of goal to work toward, I thought, rather than the abstract desire to prevent any weight gain, maybe exercise could actually be something I looked forward to. And unbelievably, it worked.

I ran my first half marathon at the end of March, and each week of training made me prouder of my body. I celebrated my muscles’ growing strength as I could log one mile farther, and I nourished my body with the food it needed—and enough of it—to be healthy. I finally came to understand and appreciate rest days as time for recovery that was necessary—not a sign of laziness or weakness.

But most importantly I was proud of my body as I crossed that finish line. For as long as I can remember, I have found reasons to be dissatisfied with anything and everything about my body. And believe me, there are still days where I look at a plate of cookies with trepidation—and have to remind myself that eating one is not something I have to punish myself for. I hope with all my heart that this time in my life is the start of a new and beautiful relationship between me and my body, one that will last far beyond my marathon day. 

If you’re interested in sharing your No Fat Talk story, I would love to chat! Just e-mail me ( and I can give you more information. 

Pink Ombre Cake

April 16, 2012

First things first. The winner of the Keep It Sweet Desserts giveaway is….

Congrats, Ashley! Please e-mail me ( and I’ll get you in touch with Lauren to claim your prize!

Moving right along…

For a couple of years in college, I dabbled in the wedding cake and cupcake business. It started when I made a cake for my cousin Emily’s wedding before my sophomore year in college and continued with friends and friends of friends – making small cakes and hundreds of cupcakes over the years. I think my largest wedding required somewhere around 500 cupcakes divided among three different flavors.

Let me tell you, I had no idea how much work baking cakes and cupcakes would be. It was not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it seem, and it was hard work for the small amount of money I took home at the end of a job. It didn’t take long for me to realize that decorating cakes or making cupcakes was not in the cards for me as anything more than a hobby.

That said, I still find the process of decorating a cake to be a great creative outlet and super relaxing when you’ve got no objective in mind. No wedding to worry about, no cake delivery fiasco, no bride to please. Pure bliss.

I’ve seen pictures of bright and colorful ombre cakes popping up all around the web. Something about the slight change in color, layer by layer, drew me in. But since the fun was more about the changing color of the layers rather than the cake itself, I did something I don’t usually do… I used a boxed cake mix. And it was awesome.

Instead of taking a full afternoon, making this cake only took a matter of a couple hours. Now that I think about it, this would be a really great way to dress up a boxed cake for a birthday party or to celebrate the birth of a new baby. The cake itself isn’t going to win any awards for outstanding flavor, though I thought it tasted pretty good considering how simple it was to make. But it would stand out in a crowd for the impact it makes presentation-wise.

Pink Ombre Cake
*2 boxes white cake mix, batter prepared according to package instructions
*1 bottle red food coloring
*Double batch of Deb’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream (seriously the best cake-decorating frosting around) OR 3 containers purchased whipped-style frosting
*Edible pink decorating pearls and red sprinkles (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 8- or 9-inch baking pans with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottoms with a small round of parchment paper. Set aside. 
*Divide the batter between five small bowls. In the first bowl, add 25 drops of food coloring. In the second, 17. In the third, 12. In the fourth, 8. In the fifth, 4. Stir to combine. Adjust colors as desired with additional food coloring.
*Pour two of the batter bowls into the two prepared pans. Bake for 17 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center according to package instructions. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from baking pan and cool on wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter/layers.
*Once all layers are baked and cooled, level of the domed part of the layers slightly with a serrated knife. (this will help with stacking the layers)
*Place the darkest layer of cake on a cake stand. Top with frosting and the next darkest layer. Repeat with remaining layers and frosting. Sprinkle the edges of the top of the cake with the edible pearls and sprinkles. Makes 12 to 14 servings

Happy Baking!