Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bar 1 | Espresso and Cream

As a food editor, I spend a good chunk of my days developing recipes for our brands. It’s a wonderful job, one that I’m so incredibly thankful for, and I love seeing the way recipes and food content can solve problems and provide inspiration for each season and family event.

But when it comes to blogging, lately I’ve felt quite conflicted.

It’s not that I don’t have recipes to share or food ideas, goodness knows I have plenty. But there are so many people sharing amazing food content that sometimes I worry that I’m just one more person adding to the chaos and noise. There are bloggers doing such inspiring work and magazines and food websites that continue to do one great thing after the next. I’m so energized by what they create that sometimes I can’t imagine what I have to add on this site is even worth sharing.

In those moments when I’m tempted to stop creating all together, I find focusing on why I create recipes or share personal stories on this space is the only remedy. I’ve long since abandoned writing for page views or sponsors or new followers (although, let’s be honest, they’re always nice.) I realize that my blog may very well be a small corner of the internet forever rather than the next mega site. More than anything, I write to share life and connect with other like-minded women (and a few men!) who are striving for the same things: authenticity, health, community, a deeper faith, and really great food.

It seems that the most popular type of writing voice on the web is one that’s witty, sarcastic and always chipper. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve met that are nothing like their online personas, and it always baffles me why everyone feels they need to fall in line with that type of writing. It’s so easy to start to believe that you need to write in that same popular style, but I for one and not all that witty in real life, rarely sarcastic and more direct than chipper. This is your free pass to hold me accountable if ever I seem to veer off course.

Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bar 2 | Espresso and Cream

I’m not sure there is any natural transition from authenticity in blogging to cereal treat bars, but this recipe is too good not to share. It’s everything I expect from a dessert: simple, delicious and easy to make. Working at General Mills the word “Rice Krispie” is completely off limits. I’m only sort of kidding, but I have found that my time there has given me a lot of appreciation for marshmallow bars using other types of cereal.

Recently I got a chance to take home a few boxes of the new Cheerios Protein and it didn’t take me long to realize the Cinnamon Almond flavor was the perfect base for a cereal treat bar. But of course I couldn’t stop there, I decided that browning the butter was the best way to bring out the flavor of the cereal. If you’ve never browned your butter before adding the marshmallows I would strongly suggest you give it a try. This little trick reaps so much in terms of flavor that you’ll never want to go back to making them any other way.

Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Bar
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 bag (10 oz) miniature marshmallows
  • 5 cups Cheerios Protein Cereal (I used the cinnamon-almond flavor)
  • 4 oz milk or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Place butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter and continue to cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes or until butter is brown and fragrant. Reduce heat to low and stir in the marshmallows. Continue to cook and stir until marshmallow mixture is melted and smooth.
  2. Stir in the cereal until well combined. Press mixture into an 8x8-inch square pan that is sprayed with cooking spray. If desired, drizzle with chocolate. Let set 30 minutes. Cut into 9 bars.

 

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I’ve mentioned this before, but Instagram has quickly become my favorite form of social media. I share a lot of food photos on Instagram, and some of those photos include meat now and again. And, as you can probably guess, it means quite a few people have questions about if I’m still a vegetarian or not. The short answer? No.

It’s been quite a while since I talked specifically about my food choices, and truth be told I’ve been on a bit of a food journey over the past few months.

Over Christmas and the entire month of December I decided to give paleo-style eating a try. I heard great things about paleo from a number of people and wanted to see what all the hype was about. As you can imagine, it was a huge shift for me having been a vegetarian for the last 3 years. After about a month of eating paleo, I realized that it wasn’t an eating style that suited me at all. I loved the focus on whole foods, but I really missed my grains and their filling nature.

What really sent me fleeing from paleo was the fact that I actually gained weight during that month and I felt sluggish. I’m not saying this to bash paleo in any way, since I have had friends who love it and thrive eating that way, but for me and my body it wasn’t a good fit. This experiment further emphasized what I’ve always believed: A one-size-fits-all style of eating just doesn’t exist.

After my experiment with paleo I was at a loss as to what was next. Go back to vegetarian? Eat completely without rules and restrictions? While I don’t really like food labels, I did crave some type of structure in my diet so going without any guidelines seemed strange, too.

I decided to go back to eating vegetarian 85-90% of the time and allowing myself meat when my body craved it or it was the healthiest choice available. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in an airport or restaurant and been stuck eating a baked potato or something similar in the name of being a vegetarian when, in reality, getting a grilled chicken breast would have been the more nutritionally-sound choice. It didn’t make sense to me to make an inferior food choice in the name of following a set of self-imposed rules.

The past few months of eating with a more relaxed yet mindful approach have been wonderful! I don’t eat much meat during the week, but occasionally I’ll have a hamburger on the grill or a little shaved turkey with my lunch. As always, the meat is more of an afterthought and the veggies are front and center on the plate. It’s freeing to be able to make the choice to include meat now and again without having to eat it all the time. The more I play around with what I eat, I have realized that all-or-nothing rarely works.

How do you approach your eating style? I’m curious if others of you steer clear of hard and fast food rules, too?
Madison

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May Food and Fitness Goals
1. Drink at least 80 oz of water each day
Why didn’t anyone tell me how great drinking water makes you feel?! Actually, people did tell me that drinking water all day makes you feel much better than drinking coffee all day, but I never listened. I’m a convert for life. After my first two cups of coffee, I’ve been switching over to water for the remainder of the day.
2. Lose those last 3 pounds my body has been hanging on to recently.
Done! I’m back to wearing all my favorite items of clothing. It’s amazing how a few extra pounds can make such a difference. It’s not about being “skinny” but about feeling healthy and like my regular self.
3. Exercise 45 minutes 5x a week
I’m not sure if I hit this goal or not since I didn’t really track my exercise each day, but I think I was close. Joe and I have been playing a lot of tennis, which means we can be exercising for 1 1/2 hours on any given night. I think makes up for any of my shorter workouts. I’ve also been upping my running mileage and getting in more runs in the 3 1/2 to 4+ mile range. The plan is to find a half marathon to sign up for later this summer or fall. I’m really missing having something to train for and the feeling of going on a really long weekend run.
4. Make a vitamin and supplement plan and stick to it
For a number of reasons (too lengthy to go into with this post) I have had to re-vamp my vitamin and supplement routine. I bought one of those little plastic pill boxes to keep track of all my vitamins, yet another example of how I’m 80 years old at heart. I’m taking a daily vitamin D, a series of herbal supplements from my acupuncturist, Metanx, fish oil and a baby aspirin daily. I’m also looking to add a daily DHA supplement soon.
5. Log food and water intake in My Fitness Pal each day
I didn’t really succeed in this regard. After a few weeks I lost steam and got a little bored with logging all my food. Now that my body has settled back to my regular weight, I’m less interested in a daily calorie tally.
6. Participate in my friend Robin’s (free!) Pilates Summer Series
I had such a great time participating in the Pilates Summer Series! It’s amazing how doing just 5 to 10 minutes of toning Pilates each day can make a difference in your body. The videos are still online and will remain on Robin’s site, so head over there and browse. I’m planning on continuing to do the videos in the weeks and months to come!

June Food and Fitness Goals
1. Try One New Fitness Class I’m an introvert at heart, although you probably wouldn’t guess so if you met me. Sometimes I shy away from trying new things, like a new fitness class at our gym. My goal is to mix things up by trying at least one new class this month.

2. Drink 80 oz Water Daily
Keeping this one on the list because it’s a new habit and I think I could use a daily reminder to keep it up.

3. Eat More Mindfully/Practice Intuitive Eating
Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the routine of eating, rather than listening to what my body is saying. this month I want to focus on eating more intuitively and base my food choices and the timing of my meals around what my body is saying instead of based around what time it is or what I feel like I should eat.

4. Beat Joe in a Set of Tennis
Joe and I made a list of summer goals, and this topped my list. We’re pretty competitive in tennis and it’s one of the few sports we can play together where I hold my own. I’ve come very close to beating him already this spring/summer. Joe says I haven’t been “big enough to handle the moment!” Ha!

5. Get in 10,000 Steps Per Day
I recently got a FitBit Flex through work and have been having a fun time tracking my steps each day. I’m making a conscious effort to get in at least 10,000 steps each day. On the weekends it’s much easier than during the week, but I’m finding that most days I do get above the 10,000 step mark. It’s nice to have a tangible reminder to take the stairs and walk more throughout the day.

What are your food and fitness goals for the month?

Madison

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Now that summer is in full swing, I’m afraid that I’ve been getting a little behind on posting recaps from our happenings over the past couple weeks. We had been meaning to visit Joe’s brother, Jason, and his wife, Ali, for a while now, and I’m glad we took advantage of the extra day of vacation over Memorial Day weekend to spend with them in Kansas City. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to the summer season!

Colalge1*Please note: My pregnant sister-in-law is not drinking those beers. Just carrying them to the table for the boys. ;)
Joe and Jason spent a lot of time golfing and going to golf shops, while Ali and I did a lot of shopping, browsing around for new cosmetics, getting pedicures, working out and eating really tasty food.

Before our trip I was a little nervous about seeing Jason and Ali for the first times since our miscarriage, but I prayed deeply leading up to our trip that our time together would be blessed and that our relationships, which have always been close, wouldn’t be impacted by the differences that life has put between us.

I’m thankful that our time together was so sweet and not in the least bit awkward or strained. Ali is one of the most gracious people I have ever met, and although it was strange to talk about the contrasts in our lives right now, it was really healing, too.

Collage3Where We Ate:
Cafe Gratitude
This place was the perfect spot for lunch! The menu was a dream, filled with vegan and vegetarian options, certainly a place that Ali and I appreciated a little more than would have been appreciated by Joe and Jason.

What We Did:
Boulevard Brewery Tour
We arrived at 10 am on Sunday to stand in line for tickets, which are free. We got into the first tour of the day at 10:45. The tour was really interesting, especially for someone like me who doesn’t know a whole lot about beer.

Where We Shopped
Lush Cosmetics
I can’t believe I had never been into a Lush store before! Where have I been? Ali and I had a great time trying out all their products and I came home with a few different face scrubs and sprays that I’ve really been enjoying. The “Let the Good Times Roll” face scrub/cleanser is my new favorite and smells like a dream.

Madison

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Last time we chatted about Stitch Fix, I was quite unhappy. I felt that my requests had been ignored and I wasn’t getting pieces that really matched my style. After expressing my frustration, the team at Stitch Fix e-mailed me to get specific feedback (in detail) about what I was looking for in my fix and what I was unhappy about. Their customer service was fantastic!

I explained that I was only looking for classic pieces and basics, that I wasn’t interested in much, if any color, and preferred interesting patterns to mix things up in place of color. Additionally, I mentioned that I was concerned more about quality than price and was willing to pay a little more for items I really loved and felt would stand the test of time rather than cheaper items.

This time around, I have to admit that I’m eating my words from last time. My fix was really great! And although I didn’t keep everything (which is good for my budget!) I did keep a few items that I can see myself wearing a lot this summer and fall. Let’s dive into my box, shall we?

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Item #1: Kut from the Kloth Sonja Straight Leg Jean ($78)
My stylist said that she included these jeans in my fix because they were more of a boyfriend fit and I had pinned lots of boyfriend jeans, which is true. It’s hard to find a pair of boyfriend jeans that are flattering but casual and not too distressed. These jeans totally met all my criteria for great boyfriend jeans. I do have a pair in my closet right now, but they have a more distressed look to them and are a little too casual for work. Verdict: Keep!

Item #2: Corinna Striped Heathered Dolman Top ($48)
I have a really hard time finding casual tops that I like to wear. Most of the cotton t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts I own I never really wear because they don’t seem flattering or cling in unfortunate ways. Consequently, I have a tough time knowing what to wear when we go to watch a football game with friends or have a barbecue in the backyard. This top isn’t exactly workwear, but I can see myself wearing it a lot in more casual settings. The material was thicker and had a bit of stretch to it, and it was cut in a way that was loose without being overly baggy. Verdict: Keep!

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Item #3: Carson Silk Front-Twist Sleeveless Blouse ($88)
This blouse was the most expensive item in my fix, and considering I got jeans in my fix, that’s saying something. I’m not usually someone who enjoys wearing sleeveless blouses, and it held true for this top as well. It wasn’t horrible by any means, but the way it bunched up in the front was kind of unfortunate and not all that flattering. I tried this top tucked into a skirt and really liked the way it looked, but ultimately I couldn’t justify spending that much on a top that was limited in the versatility. Verdict: Return!

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Item #4: Sally Stud-Detail Crossbody Purse ($48)
I should have specified that I didn’t want to get purses in my fixes, which I didn’t do. When purses and shoes are concerned, I prefer to buy high-quality items less frequently and since I’m pretty picky about accessories, I knew I wasn’t going to be a fan of the purse in my fix. There wasn’t anything horrible about it by any means, it just didn’t fit my style very well and wasn’t something I could see myself using much. Verdict: Return!

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Item #5: Eyelet and Embroidery Tank ($58)
This tank was really, really cute and at first glance I felt it was right-on in terms of style. The material was high-quality and there was really pretty details on the shoulders and edges of the tank, but the fit was quite horrible on me. It was very short on my long torso and it was very small on my broad shoulders. Verdict: Return!

If you’re keeping track, I kept two items and returned three. Overall, I was really pleased with my fix, enough to continue to get fixes on a regular basis. I’m a little worried that the quality may go down in future fixes when I haven’t reached out to Stitch Fix directly, but since I had such a great experience with my stylist this time around, I’m hoping to request her for future fixes since she seemed to get my style quite well.

If you’re interested in signing up for Stitch Fix, you can do so HERE.*

*Affiliate links used in this post. Opinions and review are my own.

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