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Food & Recipes

Eating Without Food Labels

January 18, 2018

Friends, can we talk about something that has been on my heart to talk about for a while now? I shared on Instagram this week about how very over food labels and rules I am. Keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole 30. The entire conversation has worn me down into the ground and driven me crazy and today I want to dig a little deeper into my own journey with food to share with you just why it drives me nuts.

If you spend any time on social media these days, chances are you are bombarded with pictures of what people are (or maybe, more importantly, are NOT) eating. I happen to follow a lot of people who eat keto or paleo and a fair share who are die-hard vegetarians. It’s a strange time in history to eat food, isn’t it? Both sides SO very sure that their way is the right way, that you should or shouldn’t eat certain foods. So many rules to follow and research to read.

The year I graduated college I decided to give vegetarianism a try. It had always interested me, but was something I said I could never do because I loved eating meat. But a month-long experiment turned into a few months and then a few years. Over the last nine years I’ve tinkered with my eating quite a bit, trying to find the exact right formula and eating style for my body. I’ve tried Whole 30, I’ve done a “yoga cleanse” which included a lot of yoga and eating a vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet for a month. I’ve been a strict vegetarian and I’ve done a little of everything while pregnant. And over the years I’ve realized a few things.

Gluten isn’t the enemy for my body, I’m not sensitive to full-fat dairy, occasionally my body craves a little meat or seafood. But where does that leave me? When I say “no” to the pot roast 9 times out of 10 but occasionally say “yes!” to a burger in the summer? In a world where we are encouraged to put our eating into boxes, but your style doesn’t really have a name? Well, it gets to why I truly don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all eating style and why it seems that labels and restrictive eating pushes us to eat less intuitively and fit our unique bodies into boxes.

After Ainsley was born I stopped restricting myself, started eating MORE, starting working out LESS time but more focused in my efforts and allowed myself to eat what felt right for my body it seemed as if I hit a metabolism super charge button. I feel my best, look my best and don’t feel like I’m a slave to food or food rules anymore.

Since I have shared with you all about my food journey over the years, what I’ve found that works for my body looks something like this:

-I eat a LOT both in volume and calories. I’m fairly sure that over the years too much cardio and too little food was causing a lot of harm to my body, hormones and metabolism. I workout much less than I did pre-kids, but I’m smarter and more focused with my workouts using Beachbody On Demand videos that are typically about 30 minutes in length. I’m no longer a calorie counter, because it makes me crazy, but rough calculations are that I consume around 2,200-2,500 calories a day on most days.

-Intermittent fasting has been a recent game changer for me. I decided to give it a try after listening to this podcast and doing some of my own research, and while it was certainly challenging at first, it really has been wonderful to give my body a break each day to not eat. I usually stop eating around 6 pm most days and don’t break my fast until around 8-10 am the next morning. And then I get all my calories eaten in a very short window and feel totally stuffed. 😉

-My diet is about 90% vegetarian. I still prefer to eat mainly vegetarian, but I do occasionally have lean protein at dinnertime with my family when it sounds good to my body or when I’m out at dinner and healthy vegetarian options are limited. I choose health over eating rules any and all days of the week. We live in the Midwest so there are times when the only vegetables to be found are iceberg lettuce and corn. In that case, the healthier choice is the fish, chicken or lean beef and I’m OK with that.

-Vegetables are still the largest part of most every meal I eat. I LOVE veggies and eat a lot of them throughout the day. I also eat a lot of beans and legumes as a source of plant-based protein.

-I don’t drink milk often and prefer unsweetened almond milk, but full-fat Greek yogurt and half and half in my coffee are life.

-Gluten doesn’t bother me. End of story. When I was struggling with sinus infections and sickness it was suggested by some that I eat gluten and dairy-free but doing so didn’t resolve my issues and adding them back in didn’t make my symptoms any worse. I don’t eat refined carbs like white bread, pasta or white rice very often but I do eat plenty of sprouted grain bread, some occasional whole wheat pasta, etc.

-Close to 300/400 calories in my diet each day comes from peanut butter. #peanutbutterforlife

But the thing is, that’s just what works for ME. Your body could be totally different! Finding what works for you and your body is unique and it’s worth the effort to tinker with and discover your unique formula over time, regardless of food rules and regulations. Like I said in my Instagram post, I think the only thing we can agree on is that vegetables are good and sugar is bad, right?! 😉

I would be so curious to hear what works for YOU and your body! I have a feeling we will get a lot of different answers.

Madison

Family, Food & Recipes

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

December 5, 2017

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This post is sponsored by Tyson as part of the #JimmyDeanSausage campaign. All opinions are my own and I so appreciate you supporting the brands that make Espresso and Cream possible. 

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day as an adult. Perhaps because it’s accompanied by lots of coffee with half and half, or because these is a level of comfort and ease around our breakfast table that doesn’t exist other times of the day. I wish I could say I loved dinnertime as much as breakfast, but my early-rising kids are in a much better mood first thing in the morning than when 5 pm rolls around, and most dinners are spent bouncing a fussy baby and bribing a toddler to eat a bite of everything on her plate. A struggle that doesn’t usually exist at breakfast.

Joe works out at the gym and eats his breakfast on the road most weekday mornings, but Thursday mornings when Joe is home a little longer than usual, I make a little extra effort to make breakfast special. We’re not talking elaborate and time-consuming – just something savory and hot like eggs with toast and bacon or sausage (Joe and Ainsley’s favorite).

Like I mentioned above, Joe and Ainsley both love sausage so when an opportunity to work with Jimmy Dean Fully-Cooked Sausage came across my desk, I really had no choice but to accept! We’ve purchased Jimmy Dean Fully-Cooked Sausage from the refrigerated section many times on our weekly grocery trips to Walmart; I love that the patties only require quick heating through and are sealed in smaller sub-pouches in the box. For a family like ours, who only has hot breakfast together a few times per week, this cuts down on food waste – something I can fully get behind.

This week’s breakfast went above and beyond our usual scrambled eggs, sausage and toast, because who doesn’t love a good restaurant-style breakfast sandwich? Toasted Ciabatta buns filled with sunny-side-up eggs, sharp white cheddar cheese, sausage, and fresh mixed greens. Because I had to get some greens in there. It’s a compulsion. I just can’t be helped. In full disclosure: Ainsley didn’t eat the greens because, “I don’t like that salad!” But we’re working on it. 😉

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shaved
  • 4 Jimmy Dean Fully-Cooked Sausage Patties
  • 1 cup mixed greens
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange rolls, cut side up, on baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter. Crack eggs into the skillet one at a time. Sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Cook about 3 minutes, until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Place one egg on bottom half of each of the four rolls. Top each with some of the cheese. Prepare sausage patties according to package directions. Place one sausage patty on top of egg and cheese. Bake 5 minutes to toast rolls slightly and melt cheese.
  3. Remove from oven and top with some of the mixed greens. Top with roll top and serve immediately.

 

Family, Food & Recipes

Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Dates

November 28, 2017

This post is sponsored by Tyson as part of the #TysonMadeWithLove campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Espresso and Cream possible! 

We’re just starting to get into the swing of holiday parties and events over at the Hofmeyer house. The introvert in me has mixed feelings about lots of holiday engagements, something that is entirely lost on my extroverted husband. Anyway….

With two busy kiddos, general schedule craziness and holiday commitments on top of it all I’m always happy to have a handful of easy, go-to recipes I can whip together without a lot of extra stress or effort. Extra bonus points if the ingredients for those recipes can be kept in the fridge throughout the holiday season so I don’t have to run to the grocery store when I need to bring a side dish or appetizer.

These Sweet and Spicy Bacon Wrapped Dates are downright addictive. The perfect blend of sweetness from the dates and brown sugar, savory from the Natural Hickory Smoked Wright Brand Bacon and goat cheese and spicy from the hit of cayenne and black pepper. If you live in the Midwest where people’s spice tolerance is pretty low or you’re serving them to kids, I would suggest dropping the cayenne all together.

As you already know, we’re pretty loyal Walmart grocery shoppers in this house. I’ve just been waiting for that email letting me know Walmart Grocery Pick-Up is available at my store. Until then, we are still doing our grocery shopping the “old fashioned” way. With a baby in a carrier and a toddler asking for all the candy as we speed through the aisles hoping to avoid anyone melting down. (Click here to find out if Walmart Grocery Pick Up is available in your area.)

If you’re looking for a mouthwatering appetizer to take to your holiday parties, look no further than the recipe below!

Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Author: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 16 pitted dates
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 8 slices Wright Brand Bacon - Natural Hickory Smoked, cut in half widthwise
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Cayenne pepper and cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut a slit into the tops of each date. Stuff each date with some of the goat cheese. Wrap one of the pieces of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick. Roll bacon wrapped dates in brown sugar. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and cracked black pepper to taste.
  3. Bake 15 minutes, turn over to one side, bake 15 minutes more. Turn once more and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

Family, Food & Recipes

Holiday Snack Mix & Travel with Kids

November 15, 2017

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img_6588This post is sponsored by SC Johnson. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make the content on Espresso and Cream possible. #ZiplockHolidayUAI

Back before I had kids, my visions of weekend baking projects were pretty idyllic and, I now realize, unrealistic. I imagined my child happily cutting out cookie dough and decorating cookies, mess-free. Of course now that I have two kids of my own I know better than to tackle elaborate or time-intensive baking projects. Because Ainsley is bound to lose patience and I’m bound to be picking up a giant mess long after the project has lost it’s novelty. So these days, we keep our holiday baking projects on the simple side and everyone in the family is a lot happier because of it.

We have a few holiday road trips coming up in the next few weeks, including some air travel to visit family in Florida, so I’ve been planning and strategizing on how I’m going to keep not one but TWO kids happy in the car and in the air. My solution: busy bags filled with all sorts of goodies, activities and fun new and inexpensive toys. Because we all know that an entertained child is a happy child.

I headed to our local Walmart last week before music class to pick up a bunch of goodies for our trip, along with the supplies to make this Holiday Snack Mix recipe. Ainsley and I made the snack mix together, then portioned it into Ziploc® Brand Storage Snack bags for our travels. We also tied some of the bags with ribbon for gifting to friends and family.

I filled the Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags with coloring books, crayons, stickers, inexpensive figurines (Ainsley’s favorite!), our homemade snack mix, a few new movies, and more. Hopefully these bags provide hours of entertainment and delight while we are doing our holiday travels!

Partnering with SC Johnson on this post was a total no-brainer for me, because as a mom of littles, I use Ziploc® Brand bags for pretty much everything. I always have at least a few Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags in the car as makeshift trash cans on road trips to keep the car clean and organized and to keep figurines and toys grouped together and keep a bunch in my purse for air travel to contain trash and dirty diapers. Mom hacks all around!

Check out the full (easy!) recipe below. And if you’re a frequent Walmart shopper like me, there are also some great coupons available here.

Holiday Snack Mix
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz. white almond bark
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 6 cups square-shaped rice cereal
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup red and white candy-coated chocolate pieces
  • Red and green sprinkles
Instructions
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond bark, peanut butter and butter on HIGH 30 seconds. Stir; continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until almond bark, peanut butter and butter are melted. Continue to stir until mixture is well combined. Stir in the peppermint extract.
  2. Combine cereal and pretzel sticks in a large mixing bowl. Pour almond bark mixture over cereal and stir until well combined and cereal is evenly coated. Transfer mixture to a Ziploc® Brand Gallon Bag and add in powdered sugar. Seal back and gently shake to coat cereal with the powdered sugar.
  3. Transfer mixture to a flat surface covered with parchment, waxed paper or aluminum foil. Spread in an even layer and add in the candy-coated chocolate pieces. Sprinkle with the red and green sprinkles. Let cool completely.
  4. Divide the mixture into Ziploc® Brand Snack Bags. Tie with ribbon, as desired.

This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Walmart.

Food & Recipes

Greek Chickpea Salad with Pita

October 17, 2017

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We don’t eat many vegetarian meals as a family, but once or twice per week I like to serve up something that is vegetarian both as a cost saving measure and for the health benefits. The only requirements I have for vegetarian meals is that they are filling and contain a good amount of vegetarian protein from beans, lentils, etc.

This recipe is ultra easy to throw together. All you have to do is chop a few tomatoes and cucumbers, then toss everything together and serve! Seriously, I think it took a total of 5 minutes to make this dinner, which is the ultimate win in my book. As an added bonus, this makes great leftovers the next day for lunch.

Greek Chickpea Salad with Pita
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ of a medium English cucumber, chopped
  • 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from ½ of a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 4 whole wheat pita bread rounds (I like Joseph's brand)
  • Mixed greens (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber and feta. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and oregano. Stir gently to evenly combine. Spoon mixture into bowls. Top each bowl with some of the olives. Serve with whole wheat pita bread rounds and mixed greens, if desired.
  2. *This recipe can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.