Food & Recipes

Strawberry Pie // Week 1

August 24, 2016


Last weekend I promised to make three pies for a friend of my sister-in-law. Sure, I thought, no big deal! But my pie-making skills (specifically my crust-making skills have gotten a little rusty and I realized quickly that I needed to use it or lose it. I had certainly lost “it.”

Being the stubborn one that I am, I made over 12 batches of crust (?!) and researched countless methods before landing on a recipe that that was easy, flaky, and perfectly delicious. I’ll share that method with you in a separate post (because if you’ve made pie crust before, the method might below your mind) but today I’m sharing with you a recipe for strawberry pie.

Consider Espresso and Cream your go-to destination for pie through the end of the year, because I’ve committed to making and sharing one recipe per week throughout the remainder of 2016. I want to get back into the kitchen, get back to this blog’s roots, and dust off my pie-making skills. A little culinary challenge is good now and again, right?

Naturally, I decided to kick off this pie challenge with one of my husband’s all-time favorites, strawberry pie. He’s been begging me to make a strawberry pie all summer. My requirement: strawberry pie must always be easy and packed with strawberries. We’re talking a very high strawberry-to-glaze ratio since I really dislike Jell-o-type consistency.

Joe really dislikes whipped cream, but I can’t make a strawberry pie without it, so I made a stabilized version that allowed me to top the pie with real whipped cream in advance without it weeping/falling.

PS: I took the “cheater way” out with a packet of Danish Dessert in the filling. I’ve never made a strawberry pie this way before, but it turned out great and was the perfect glaze for the strawberries.

Strawberry Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 slices
  • 1 (9-inch) pie shell
  • 1 (4.75-ounce) package Danish Dessert Strawberry (see above for more details)
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 6 cups sliced strawberries (halved or quartered, depending on size)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water and Danish Dessert mix together. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the strawberries to coat evenly.
  2. Pour strawberry mixture into pie shell and refrigerate for at least six to eight hours.
  3. To make the whipped cream: Place heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl with a hand mixer. Beat whipped cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Dissolve the gelatin in the ¼ cup of warm water and stir to combine. Pour mixture into heavy cream and continue to whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon whipped cream on top of pie and store for up to 24 hours.



my thoughts on work and motherhood

August 22, 2016


This past weekend I spent time with my dear friend Laura, as well as some online friends turned real-life friends, including the other half of the Risen Motherhood Podcast, Emily. If you’ve read their blogs or listen to the podcast, let me tell you that they are both as wonderful in person as they are online. I’ve been so thankful for their perspectives, encouragement and the tough questions that they ask, challenging me to think about things in a new light. Trust me when I say we all need friends like that in our life.

Motherhood and work is a constant refrain in the conversations that I’ve had, how to find balance in it all and prioritize your family first and foremost. Taking the pulse of your family, understanding how your work impacts your family’s health and what role we as working mothers play in it all.

In today’s culture, it’s very unpopular to say that when you become a mom you have to make sacrifices. Before I had a baby I would have told you that I could have it all, and I darn well intended to keep up a rigorous, ladder-climbing pace of work. If my husband didn’t have to make sacrifices for work then why should I?

When my dad gently suggested that I might need to re-examine my priorities when Ainsley arrived, I brushed him off, irritated that he would even suggest such a thing. When people talked about making sacrifices for the sake of their family’s health, I rolled my eyes in disgust.

But over the last year my perspective has been greatly impacted. When Joe’s work moved us to Iowa, I decided to take the {very scary} leap into full-time freelancing, blogging and contract work. I was terrified about what that would mean for my career ambitions. But I sensed a need in myself to do less, to spend more time with our daughter and to find a work/life rhythm that worked better for our family than my previous 40 hour/week grind.

Soon after, Beautycounter fell into my lap and very unexpectedly became a much bigger time commitment than previously anticipated, freelance work picked up and blogging opportunities came more frequently. This winter, I was working close to 40 hours/week with only 20 hours of childcare. I was stressed, frazzled, and desperately seeking the ever-elusive “balance” we all talk about.

My health took a dive because I wasn’t sleeping enough, my emotional state was less than stellar and I felt the frazzled pace of our family life as I tried to do more than I really had time to do. Something had to change, but I was reluctant to give anything up. How could I say “no” to freelance jobs I had worked so hard to curate? How could I work fewer hours at business endeavors that needed me to keep them going? Why did I have to give things up?

My heart attitude, quite honestly, was stinky. Instead of focusing on our family as a whole, I was looking at the world through my eyes only. My priorities needed a little bit of re-calibration. Really, the question came down to what I valued and where I was spending my time.

Is being a working mom bad? The answer that I’ve personally come to, after prayer and study, is absolutely not! I love the balance that being a working mom creates in our family life. It lights a fire in me and allows me to stretch my creative muscles while providing income for my family. Ainsley learns independence and valuable skills like playing with others when she is at our babysitter’s house. Joe and I have interesting and engaging conversations about work and business and life that are fueled by our careers. Those are all good things.

But as a mom and wife, my family needs to come first.

For me, that meant saying “no” to a few more projects, scaling back on some contract work, waking at a reasonable time and realizing that sometimes all the work won’t get done every day and what doesn’t get done will just have to wait. I’ve said “no” to working at night if I can help it in order to spend more time with Joe after Ainsley goes to bed. It means holding true to “work hours” instead of letting work seep into all the hours of the day.

Ultimately it means trusting God to bless the time that I do spend at work and the opportunities I turn down to prioritize my family. Believing that by making my family the first priority, that God will handle the rest. Easy to say but hard to actually do, right?

Joe and I both love the phrase, “Work will take the amount of time you give it.” We believe that to be true and try to live with that in mind.

It’s been hard for me to say “my family comes first” and really live that out in both word and deed. I’m thankful for a supportive husband who helps make this juggling act possible and is the greatest supporter of my career. I’m blessed to have work that allows me to set my own hours and choose to say “no” from time to time.

The life I’m living? Well, it’s nothing like the life I imagined it would be, but it’s far surpassed even my wildest dreams. Not because it’s shiny, pretty, me-focused or easy, but because it’s worthwhile, challenging, sacrificial and meaningful.


PS: If you’re looking for work that allows for you to provide for your family while also prioritizing your family, I would love to talk with you about Beautycounter. It’s been a huge part of why this shift has been possible for me, and I am always looking for new co-workers. ( 

Family, Food & Recipes

Fueling My Family

August 19, 2016


A couple posts back I talked about choosing the right vitamins for your family. Joe takes Vitamin Code Men from Garden of Life and we give Ainsley Vitamin Code Kids from the same company. Well, when the folks over at Garden of Life saw my blog post, they were so kind to offer to send some additional products my way as a thank-you. Let’s be clear, Garden of Life is in no way sponsoring this post, but I was so excited to receive the new products they sent to me that I couldn’t resist sharing them with you, too!

A little recap: As a family we try our best to avoid folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) and instead consume the folate, which is the non-synthetic form of folic acid. Many people in the US are (unknowlingly) unable to process folic acid because of something called MTHFR. I discovered I have it during infertility-related blood testing, and after that our whole family made the switch. Want to read more about why you might want to think about making the switch? Do so here. 

I think the world of Garden of Life because they are producing high-quality vitamins made from real, whole foods. Just look at the label of their vitamins and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Additionally, their vitamins contain folate instead of folic acid, giving them my family’s stamp of approval.

The two products they sent me were the mykind Organics Prenatal Once Daily Multivitamin and the Raw Protein & Greens. Here are my thoughts on the two!

mykind Organics Prenatal Once Daily Multi
Price //
$79.96 for a 90 day supply
Review //
I was previously taking the Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal, which I liked because of the types of B12 and folate that were present, but I really always disliked taking 8 vitamins a day, which was what was recommended. Since I already take a host of other vitamins, including fish oil, iron, a prescription folate called Metanx and several herbal supplements, taking 8 additional vitamins was always hard to do.

The once-daily format of this vitamin really appealed to me. Additionally, it contains iron, so it cut out my need to take another pill each day. Sign me up! I’ve been taking these for a week now and had zero adverse reactions and have been pleased with all the reviews I’ve read online. If you’re looking for a new prenatal, I highly recommend this one!

Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens 
Price //
$35.96 for 20 servings ($1.80/serving)
Review //
You all are well aware that I’m a huge Vega fan. Their Protein & Greens is a staple in my diet and really keeps me going throughout the day. My usual smoothie combination at lunch includes a scoop of protein & greens, almond milk, ice, frozen banana, chia seeds and maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. Trust me, it will change your life. Or at least the way you eat.

Anyway, back to the Garden of Life Protein & Greens. I was a little skeptical because I adore Vega, but I was really impressed, yet again, with the product. It tasted on par with Vega, while having a slight edge nutritionally. They both have similar amino acid profiles and the same number of calories per serving, but Garden of Life has 1g fewer carbs, less sodium and less sugar while still containing 20g of protein per serving. I also really liked that it contains no xanthan gum, which can cause tummy issues for some people.

So there you have it! I love passing along products I love and use frequently, because I feel like word-of-mouth sharing is always the most trusted and appreciated. And these products definitely get my stamp of approval!



Health, Wellness and Fitness Bootcamps

August 16, 2016


*Edited to add: This post is in no way meant to bash fitness bootcamps or the value of them. A ton of people have and can benefit from a jump start to reaching their health and fitness goals. In fact, my sister-in-law leads a bunch of really great bootcamps for those who are interested. This is simply a reflection on the food tracking portion and how those with disordered eating in their past may need to think carefully about that element of a bootcamp. 😉 

You may have seen that for the last 12 weeks I’ve been participating in a Carb Cycling Bootcamp with my friend and fitness coach, Ashley Wiseman. I love Ashley and think the world of her approach to health, wellness and food, and have been increasingly interested in carb cycling, so although I had never done a fitness bootcamp previously, I signed up to see what all the fuss was about.

Let me say first and foremost that I loved Ashley’s bootcamp. She was incredibly supportive, encouraging and the workouts she created for her programs were the perfect mix of challenging and varied/interesting. I also really loved the carb cycling program – eating plenty of carbs on most days, while adding in a select few low-carb days paired with sprint workouts to get the benefits of low-carb eating without having to maintain low-carb for the long haul. As a vegetarian, the low-carb days were hard for me, but I made it work. Knowing that I had a regular carb day to look forward to really helped me stick out the days when carbs were restricted.

But here’s where things get tricky.

During the course of the bootcamp I noticed that I was increasingly agitated and cranky. Snapping at Joe and everyone around me, hyper focused on everything being organized and perfectly in place. From the cleanliness of our house to the minute details of our finances, I was a total wreck to be around. I could feel myself becoming more and more agitated, yet I wasn’t sure what was causing it. And then a lightbulb clicked: The hyper focus on all the things started around the same time I started tracking my food for the bootcamp.

During college, I struggled with my fair share of disordered eating. I’ve documented those struggles on the blog in years past. In summary: I got into a cycle of binge eating, restrictive eating, over-exercising and counting calories that was anything but healthy. While in college I was eating much less than I do now, yet I weighed a lot more and felt horrible.

Over the years I’ve gotten to a very healthy place with food and body image, and for the most part I don’t really think about those past struggles. But tracking my food to such a degree during the bootcamp seemed to trigger some of those old, unhealthy patterns. Controlling every detail of what I ate really started to transfer into all aspects of my life.

Once I came to that realization, I knew things needed to change. My family life was suffering, my health was suffering and no one was benefitting. Right then and there, I decided that I would delete the My Fitness Pal app from my phone and eat intuitively rather than sticking to a rigid structure. And it was amazing how quickly things went back to normal. I felt calmer, more sane and less obsessive about everything in life.

So where does that leave me?

I decided to stick with the bootcamp’s workouts and schedules during the last two weeks, but instead of tracking my macros and calories and carbs, I ate intuitively. The bootcamp had already taught me what a low carb day looked and felt like, and same goes for a higher carb day. Instead of tracking every bit of food, I just ate according to my best guess and let that be enough. I realized that I had already learned enough about carb cycling to follow along without making it a central focus of my day.

For someone like me, with a history of disordered eating, bootcamps are tricky. No matter how much progress I make, part of me will always tend to lean toward an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to food, and focusing on what I’m eating too much tends to put nutrition and health in a place that’s higher and more important than it should be.

Would I recommend a bootcamp for most people? Absolutely! In fact, I recommended this very bootcamp to a number of people. Would I recommend it to people who have found their nutrition happy place and have a history of disordered eating? Maybe not. Or at least not the food tracking aspect.

I’m so glad I learned more about myself through participating. I’ll certainly continue to incorporate elements of carb cycling into my day-to-day life, but with a good deal of modification and no My Fitness Pal by my side.



MTHFR and The Best Vitamins for Adults + Kids

August 3, 2016


*I am not a doctor and this advice should not be taken as medical advice. These are my personal recommendations and you should seek the advice and council of your doctor with all issues related to your personal heath.

I’ve been deeply passionate about health and nutrition for almost as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until Joe and I started having issues getting + staying pregnant that I really started to learn more about what I was putting into my body.

You see, when we did our fertility-related blood work after our second miscarriage, my tests all came back normal except for one tiny thing. I have MTHFR. I’ve talked about it on the blog once or twice, but in summary, MTHFR is a genetic mutation that is incredibly common but frequently goes undiagnosed until other issues start to arise. These issues can, and frequently are, related to MTHFR but the research and information available is slim and hard to come by.

To summarize: People diagnosed with MTHFR lack the enzyme that converts folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) and B vitamins into the bio-available form our bodies can use. It seems like a little thing, but it’s really a BIG thing when you think about all the roles folic acid and B vitamins play in our bodies and overall health and well-being, including but not limited to fertility, blood clotting issues, anxiety, depression, energy and more. If you want to read more about MTHFR, you can do so here and here to start. And if you’ve never been tested for it, I would highly recommend doing so. You can go through a service like 23 and Me or your local doctor can do a simple blood test at the hospital.

After a couple years worth of research and reading, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on what this means for me and my family and how to best go about living with the condition. On a day to day basis does it impact me? Not really, but I can tell if I’m not taking the vitamins I need that I have lower energy levels and have a mild feeling of being unwell. Unfortunately, most doctors are a little behind in understanding MTHFR, leaving most of the research on how to move forward with this condition in the hands of the patient.

Obviously, vitamin supplementation with the correct kind of vitamins is extremely important. Taking large doses of folic acid does no good when your body can’t produce the enzyme needed to turn folic acid into a usable form. Because I have a double copy of the mutation (homozygous C677t) I take a prescription-grade vitamin called Metanx, which contains active folate, B6 and B12. But, because it can be very expensive, I’m rounding up my favorite non-prescription alternatives. Even if you don’t have MTHFR, or don’t know if you do, there is no harm in choosing a high-quality vitamin with active folate that is easier for the body to process.

Since I have a double copy of the gene mutation, we know that Ainsley has at least one copy (I hope to get her tested in the future) so we’ve also been supplementing a vitamin for kids that doesn’t have folic acid and instead contains folate. Trust me, finding a good one is harder than you might imagine. Finding a good vitamin that meets that criteria in a regular store like Target, Walmart or your local pharmacy? Practically impossible!

So, to save you time, I wanted to share with you what our family uses, as well as some other recommended supplements to consider. Like I said before, there really is no drawback to taking a vitamin like this, only up-side!

Men’s Multi-Vitamin
// Smarty Pants Men’s Complete Gummy Vitamin
// Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Men

// Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Kids
// Seeking Health Kid’s Optimal Multivitamin 

Women’s Prenatal
// Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal (I use this one!)
// Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal 

Women’s (General)
// Smarty Pants Women’s Complete Gummy Vitamins (great if you like gummy form!)
// Seeking Health Optimal Multivitamin 

**Additionally, my doctor’s treatment plan, especially during times of trying to conceive, has included using baby aspirin to prevent blood clotting issues, so for those of you trying to conceive, that may be something to talk with your doctor about.