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.Ā 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. šŸ˜‰

-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?! šŸ˜‰

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.



Safer Skincare in the New Year

January 5, 2018

Happy Friday, friends! As we embark on a new year, I know a lot of you are in the business of making resolutions. Resolutions about health, wellness, family, faith and more. It can be both inspiring and overwhelming, can’t it? I’ve been doing a lot of goal-setting and planning over here, including the following:

-Push myself outside my comfort zone
-Set big, scary goals
-Be consistent and diligent in prayer for others
-Work hard at work; rest and fully disconnect when it’s time to rest
-Make commitments and stick to them
-Invest in people
-Love my body
-Invest in quality in all things

About four years ago, one of my resolutions was to make cleaner, healthier choices in my skincare, cosmetics and household cleaning products. It was around the same time that I discovered Beautycounter, when we were deep in our infertility journey and I was desperate to find anything that could help. I also desperately wanted a “big girl” skincare routine rather than a random assortment of products from the drugstore, because I wasn’t getting any younger.

I’m so thankful that Beautycounter came into my life when it did, and if you’re sitting in a similar position and have a desire to learn more about safer skincare and personal care products, I’m hoping that sharing more in the month of January may be helpful to you on your own journey to healthier living.

I posted this video to my Espresso & Cream page on Facebook, but through it was a worthy kick-off video to share here as well!

Here’s to making healthier, safer choices in 2018. And as always, thank YOU for being the absolute best of the best.


What I’m Loving // Athleisure Edition

January 2, 2018

Mom life and working at home means I spend a LOT of time in more athletic clothes than I would like to admit. On days that I’m working I try to get dressed in real clothes most of the time, but when I’m not working and hanging with the girls, I much prefer to be in comfy-cute clothes. It allows me to be a more active, interactive mom when I’m comfortable and ready for a game of tag, hide and seek, or puzzles on the floor at any moment.

Here are a few of the items I’ve been loving lately:

Gap PureBody Modal Joggers
// I wear this year round and while they are a tiny bit lightweight for winter, they’re great for lounging around the house. Buy a pair (or three!) and I promise you’ll be happy you did.

Athleta High Rise Chaturanga Tight // THE best workout tights around. They are expensive but worth the investment, and I personally find Athleta clothing to wear/wash the best and last the longest.

The Be Brand’s “Mama Bear” Sweatshirt // I’ve hardly taken it off since I got mine a couple weeks ago. It’s so comfy, has a great roomy-yet-cute fit and washes really well. I’m already planning on getting another style.

Athleta’s Metro Joggers // Cute, comfy and looks presentable when worn outside the house, these joggers are just so good.

Headbands from The Be Brand // I get a TON of questions about the headbands I’m wearing in about 50% of my photos on Instagram. I’ve been loving these headbands from The Be Brand since I discovered them this summer and recommend them to everyone. They hide a bad hair day and work great for keeping your hair out of your face while working out and momming.

Tanks and Tops from Old Navy // When it comes to athletic pants and active leggings, I’m all about high quality. But for tanks and workout tops Old Navy can’t be beat. I am LOVING all my tanks and tops (including this one and this one with the cute scalloped detailing) from Old Navy. Added bonus: they are all on sale right now!


Tips for Travel with Little Ones

December 28, 2017

We have recently returned from our first big trip with both girls and man, what an adventure! We had a wonderful time in Florida and I certainly learned that travel with one toddler is not the same as travel with a toddler and a baby. It was good for us to take the trip and learn a little bit about what to do differently the next time we embark on a big trip with these two – most likely this summer when we go to Oregon on family vacation.

Surprisingly, Ainsley was actually the easy one to travel with. I was shocked that on the entire trip to Florida we didn’t even have to get out the iPad or movies on the plane once. She happily entertained herself with figurines, books, stickers, crayons and lots of snacks. Her little sister, on the other hand, was a handful! Collins was as good as a 7-month-old baby could probably expect to be, but she is at an awkward age for air travel. She is crawling now, so she wanted to move and crawl all over every single (dirty) surface. She isn’t old enough to snack on finger foods and toys hold her attention for about 5 minutes each. So we had to work to keep her happy and entertained.

That said, I learned a lot and have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of taking a trip with their little ones!

  1. Take a double stroller with you! I can’t stress this enough. We debated leaving or Baby Jogger Summit X3Ā (which is currently on MAJOR sale on Amazon!) at home, but I’m so glad we didn’t. Having a way to contain/restrain both kids at once was so helpful when we were in the airport and with the warmer weather, it was really wonderful to be able to take the girls on long walks and have a place for Collins and Ainsley to nap out and about.
  2. Take your favorite baby carrier. Collins LOVES the Ergo 360 and we have gotten so much use out of it. I opted to take the Solly Baby Wrap instead because it’s smaller and more portable, but it was a mistake in the long run. The Ergo 360 would have been so nice to have, so if you can fit your favorite carrier in your suitcase, make it work!
  3. Don’t try to do too much. If it sounds like it’s too much, it probably is. We made a few mistakes trying to go out to eat too close to nap time or bed time, trying to do too much in a single day, etc. It led to tired, melting down kids and exhausted parents. It’s not the end of the world, but if you’re looking to minimize stress and frustration on everyone in your family, bite off only as much as seems reasonable.
  4. Take a diaper bag that has a backpack carry! I LOVE my Fawn Design diaper bag and will sing its praises forever and ever. It’s pretty, functional and the hands-free nature of being able to wear it as a backpack came in handy more times than I can count.
  5. Invest in good car seat bags. We borrowed this Britax Car Seat Travel Bag from a friend and I’m planning on buying two for our family because it was SO handy. We checked both of the car seats for the girls with our luggage and these bags help protect the car seats and make them easier to carry. This particular bag has wheels as well as a backpack carry option which was so incredibly useful! There are some risks in checking your car seats vs. checking them at the gate, but with two kids and a double stroller we really felt it made more sense to check the car seats with our luggage so we could have our hands free to wrangle the girls. Bonus: Car seats fly free on most major carriers!
  6. Take a carry-on suitcase packed with the essentials for each family member, especially if you are traveling in the winter! We took a carry-on suitcase plus one large checked bag for our week in Florida. In our carry-0n bag we had all the essentials in case our luggage got lost or we got stuck in the airport for an extended period of time. Think: Diapers, wipes, formula, extra clothes for each family member, toiletries, etc. We didn’t need most of the items in that bag, but I’m so thankful we had it just in case!
  7. Send larger items ahead of time. I placed a large Target order in advance of our trip and had it shipped directly to my aunt’s house – diapers, wipes, extra formula, baby food pouches, puffs, and a collapsible high chair. It saved so much space for us and the shipping was free!
  8. Spend some extra $$ if possible on picking reasonable flight times and schedules. If you are traveling by air, you will be thankful that you didn’t pick the flight that leaves at 7 pm or that has a four hour layover. If it’s a reasonable price difference, pay a little extra and leave at a reasonable, yet early morning hour when your kids are fresh and get to your destination sooner rather than later. If you can do a nonstop flight – by all means do so!
  9. Have a sense of humor! Things will go wrong, melt downs will occur, delays will happen, etc. My husband is great at this and it helped to laugh off some of the more difficult parts of our trip. Traveling with kids is hard, and sometimes it seems like it’s just not worth the hassle, but it truly is! Remind yourself why you are going through all the effort: So your kids can see their family, so that you can expose them to the big, wonderful world that God created, so they can have new and exciting experiences. Having that perspective goes a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.


*Affiliate links used when applicable.Ā 

Fashion, Pregnancy

Healthy Postpartum Hair // A Regrowth Story

December 20, 2017

I’ve talked a lot about hair on Espresso and Cream over the years. About a year ago, I posted this while I was contemplating what to do with my hair. It was brittle, breaking off like crazy, and incredibly unhealthy, despite being 1 1/2 years postpartum and pregnant with another baby. Babies, man, they are hard on your hair!

Less than a year ago shortly after writing that post, I decided to chop my hair. My stylist agreed that there really wasn’t much else I could do to salvage my hair and starting fresh might be the best (only?) option. After chopping my hair I committed myself to growing my hair back out in the healthiest way possible. It wasn’t until yesterday, when I looked at my new color and how long my hair has gotten in less than a year, that I realized how much healthier my hair is now than when I chopped it all off.

My Healthy Hair Routine //

1 / Beautycounter’s Volume & Shape Line
I switched over to Beautycounter’s Volume & Shape Shampoo, Conditioner and Volumizing Mist when they launched their new salon-quality hair care products this spring. I fell head over heels for the V&S collection from the first weeks I used it and haven’t looked back. What I learned about traditional hair care is that a lot of the products make your hair feel healthy rather than making your hair truly healthy. Beautycounter’s line doesn’t contain sulfates, silicone or SLS and uses PureFoam Cleansing Technology to get the amazing foam without sacrificing safety. My hair has never felt so clean, so shiny, so truly healthy and strong!

2 / Continuing PrenatalsĀ 
I still take my prenatal vitamins on the regular even after having a baby. There are a lot of “hair growth” vitamins out there, but many of them contain cheap biotin and b-vitamins that aren’t the bio-available variety. Don’t settle for cheap vitamins. If you’re going to take them, make sure your vitamin contains methylated folate (NOT folic acid) and that they are good quality. My favorite prenatals come from Seeking Health or Garden of Life.

3 / Collagen SupplementsĀ 
I take a collagen supplement most days to help my skin and hair from the inside out. My favorite collagen is from Vital Proteins and can be bought on Amazon! If you’re curious to learn more about why collagen is good for your skin and hair, this article does a good job breaking it down.

4 / Dropping the Dry Shampoo
I was also struggling terribly with itchy scalp when my hair was at its worst. I read enough scary articles to convince me that perhaps dry shampoo wasn’t helping my hair but was, in fact, hurting it and contributing to my itchy scalp and hair loss issues. The first few weeks to a month my hair looked greasier between washes, but now that I’ve gone without it for nearly a year, I find that my hair doesn’t need it – even if I only wash it a few times per week. When I really need to absorb excess oil on my hair between washes I use Beautycounter’s Mattify Powder on my hair and brush it on where needed. Does the trick well!

I hope this helps someone who may be in the same spot I was in! It’s SO frustrating to deal with hair issues and the two year long saga of my hair has really been a learning experience for me.