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Food & Recipes

Sweet and Salty Roasted Kalettes

September 24, 2015

If I had to choose my favorite vegetable, I would have a seriously difficult time deciding between kale and Brussels sprouts. I know, I know, how chilché and expected, right? But here’s the thing about food trends: most of the time foods become trendy because they’re actually really delicious, so I’ll sing the praises of trendy veggies for as long as I live.

Why all this talk about kale and Brussels sprouts? Well, I recently tried Kalettes, a kale-Brussels sprout hybrid, for the first time while eating at the Lunds & Byerly’s salad bar in Edina and have been hooked ever since. They require zero prep before cooking (something I can’t say about kale OR Brussels sprouts) and have a fun taste and texture that really is a good cross between the two veggies. A crisp-tender base with leafy, tender, kale-like tops.

Since I am all about the sweet-salty combinations, I turned these little Kalettes into an Asian-inspired side dish. They’re crispy and caramelized around the edges thanks to a bit of brown sugar but have plenty of salt to balance out the sweet. My personal favorite way to serve this dish is on top of brown rice (the kind that cooks in the microwave in 3 minutes!) for an easy, healthy lunch or dinner. If you’re looking to add a little bit more protein, you could always scramble the brown rice with an egg for a quick fried rice as well!



Asian Roasted Kalettes
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
  • 1 bag (xx oz) Kalettes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • Hot-cooked brown rice for serving (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 425F. Toss the Kalettes with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, curry paste and ginger.
  3. Drizzle mixture over Kalettes after 10 minutes of cooking and toss to coat evenly. Roast 5 to 10 minutes more or until edges of Kalettes are crispy and caramelized and they become tender. Serve immediately over hot-cooked brown rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

*This post is sponsored by Kalettes. All opinions are my own. 

Food & Recipes

On Going Vegetarian Again

September 9, 2015



About a month ago, I decided to go back to my vegetarian roots and, once again, embrace the type of eating that helped me get to my body weight “happy place” years ago. Those of you who have been following this blog for any extended period of time probably remember the days when I was vegetarian. In fact, I’ve only been eating meat again for the last year and a half.

When I was trying to get pregnant, after having a couple miscarriages, my acupuncturist suggested eating plenty of organic, grass-fed red meat. At that time I was willing to try almost anything to get pregnant, so I jumped on board and started eating meat, something I hadn’t done for years. While I don’t attribute eating meat to my pregnancy success (since we changed many things the third time around) I don’t think it hurt the process, either. Once I got pregnant I craved all sorts of foods I don’t normally crave, including, you guessed it, meat along with every carb under the shining sun.

After having Ainsley I was eager to lose the extra weight I had gained while pregnant. Low-carb, paleo-style eating seems to be all the rage these days, so I thought I would jump on board and give it a try myself. In the back of my mind I knew my body had never responded well to a meat-centric way of eating, but I lost a little perspective and bought into the hype.

You see, when I first started eating vegetarian years ago something in my body just clicked. I can’t explain it, but it was like my metabolism finally got into gear and I lost the extra weight I was carrying around post-college without really trying. Sure, I was eating a lot of veggies, but I was also eating plenty of (good) carbs and the occasional treat. Although it was almost all healthy, I was eating a LOT of food.

Fast-forward to 5 months postpartum and I found myself with an extra 5 or 6 pounds that just didn’t seem to budge. I was working out, eating “clean” and doing everything in my power to get back to my “happy weight” but the scale just wouldn’t budge. And sure, the scale isn’t a total indicator of health, but add to that the fact that my clothes weren’t fitting like I wanted them to and you have a recipe for more than a few crummy days.

I decided to go back to what I knew worked for my body: Eating vegetarian. Heavy on the veggies and whole grains, high in fiber and plenty of healthy fats and dairy. And you know what? Those extra pounds practically melted away. I was as shocked as anyone!

The moral of this post is less about pushing everyone to go vegetarian and more about encouraging every individual to find the way of eating that works best for their body. For some people a low-carb approach works amazing! For others, cutting out gluten and dairy works really well with their system, and for another group, like me, eating vegetarian seems to be the way to go. Take time to experiment, listen to your body and discover what works for you.

And if you happen to see a few more vegetarian recipes around Espresso and Cream in the coming months, now you know why!

I would love to hear stories from you all? Have you found a way of eating that just “works” for you and your body? I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience. 



Budgeting Post-Baby: Grocery Shopping and Saving

June 12, 2015

photo (89)

I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one area of our spending that was a little out of control was our grocery and food budget. Grocery shopping is somewhat of a hobby for me when I have the free time and I love testing and trying out new products, so although we had a budget, I rarely stuck with it each month.

We’ve waffled between various different grocery stores over the years: Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Cub Foods, etc. My husband had been trying to convince me to check out Aldi ever since he shopped there in college, but I was always more than a little hesitant.

When we re-examined our budget, we decided that spending around $300/month on groceries was a reasonable amount to spend, cutting back from the $400/month we were budgeting previously. To some that may seem high and others that may seem low, but for us it was a pretty comfortable number. We take all our lunches from home and rarely do take-out during the week, so that’s a lot of meals for $300. Side note: Dining out and entertainment are a separate item in our budget.

When my grocery budget got cut, I knew I needed to get creative. I’m not a good coupon-clipper, especially now that time is precious with a little one around the house. So a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and made the trek to Aldi with my hubby and baby in tow.

First Impressions 
I was really shocked by the prices. Like, seriously in awe of how cheap some of the food was. I had a few experiences with Aldi while in college, but I was blown away by how much less everything costs. One of my prior assumptions about Aldi was that everything was really poor quality, but the way they keep their prices down (like bringing food in on pallets, not hiring people to stock the shelves, making you return your own cart and bag your own groceries) is passed along in cost-savings to the consumer. It’s not a “fun” grocery shopping experience, but it certainly does make for a cheaper bill!

After browsing the store, I was also surprised by the number of healthy, high-quality products they had available. There were plenty of items branded under their “Simply Nature” line that were organic, gluten-free, non GMO, etc. Not really what I expected from a store like Aldi. Additionally, the produce was, for the most part, really great.

Things We Love at Aldi
-Dark chocolate
-Tortilla chips and crackers (especially the black bean and corn variety)
-Plan and flavored Greek yogurt (their house brand tastes just like some major national brands)
-Milk and shredded cheese
-Grains and Bread (quinoa/rice blends, bread, sandwich thins and wraps, oats)
-Baking staples like brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, etc.
-Nuts and trail mix (their walnuts and almonds are great!)
-Sparkling water (they frequently have LaCroix, my favorite)
-Canned items like beans, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes

Things We Buy Elsewhere
-Chocolate chips (I was not impressed with the quality of their chocolate chips at all)
-Fresh berries (their fresh berries have never looked great when we’ve been there)
-Meat (we don’t buy much meat because we get beef free from Joe’s parents, but we buy our chicken, deli turkey and the like at other stores)
-Peanut butter (I prefer brands that are made with just peanuts and salt, nothing else)
-Salad dressing (Aldi only has a limited selection of basics, like ranch and honey mustard)

Things We Buy in Bulk (Costco)
-Diapers and formula
-Toilet paper
-Olive oil
-Baby wipes
-Keurig pods
-Frozen salmon and chicken breasts

Thus far, it’s been entirely possible to shop at Aldi for a majority of our grocery needs and save a bunch of money in the process. Our weekly grocery trip runs between $60 and $75 dollars each week, and any money that we don’t spend for the month can go toward fun things (like coffee!) or saving for something else.

Other Tips for Saving
-When I do go to other stores like Target for groceries, I make sure to check out my Ibotta app to see if there are any items I can get cash back on. It’s a quick and easy way to get a little more cash in your pocket.
-I also check sites like for any printable coupons and Target’s online coupons as well. I don’t clip a ton of coupons, but I check a couple sites that are easy to navigate.
-Meal planning is an absolute necessity in order to eat well on a budget. I find that if I don’t plan ahead I end up spending so much more at the grocery store because I just toss things in the cart without a plan.
-Make some of your snacks! My husband snacks a lot, so to save money I have been making snacks and treats for the week on Sunday afternoons. I’ll make a batch of whole wheat banana muffins, protein bites (with oats, PB, honey and protein powder), and chop up some veggies for dipping in hummus.
-Every now and again, make it a practice to eat down your freezer. If you’re anything like us, you probably have a ton of food sitting around in your freezer just waiting to be used at mealtime. Although some of our freezer meals are less than glamorous, I feel good knowing I’m not letting food go to waste and I’m saving money in the process.



Eating With and Without Rules

June 5, 2014


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?


Eating Repetitively

May 12, 2014

Today I’m going to get a little bit personal. I guess talking about miscarriage and body image is very personal, but I find talking about what I eat to be every bit as personal. I don’t know why but I always feel so vulnerable talking about what I eat with other people. Anyone else feel the same way? Food is just so incredibly personal sometimes.

If you know me in real life chances are you also know that I tend to be pretty repetitive in the way I eat throughout the week. I know, I know. Variety and color on your plate is the key to eating well, but I’ve always found that eating the same foods day-in and day-out with just a little bit of variety helps keep my on track. Sound boring? Hear me out.

When I began to log my foods on My Fitness Pal for The May Challenge, I noticed a trend. The days I feel my best, most balanced and well-rounded my eating goes a little something like this:

1/2 cup oat bran made with water, cinnamon and stevia
1-2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter
Coffee with a splash of whole milk
Vitamins + water

Cup of decaf coffee
48 oz water

1/2 cup oat bran made with water, cinnamon and stevia
1 serving of fruit (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or a banana)
1-2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter
1 teaspoon chia seeds

Some type of afternoon snack, usually plain whole milk yogurt with some walnuts and flax or a serving of fruit with walnuts, etc.
24 oz water

Veggies, veggies, veggies! I may eat a whole head of roasted broccoli with hummus and whole wheat toast or a large bowl of zucchini pasta with black beans and marinara, or a sweet potato with hummus and kale. Sometimes I’ll have a really large salad with lots of veggies. Volume is key for me at night, since I’m hungry after my workout. Most nights I would estimate I get 4 to 5 servings of veggies at dinner.

I may have a piece of dark chocolate or a tiny bite of something sweet with decaf coffee, plus more water!

For some people I guess this type of repetition probably sounds incredibly dull, but I find that when I stick to more of a routine I’m satisfied without eating too much. Of course I don’t eat like this every day, but when I’m looking to re-calibrate and feel good, I always go back to this little routine. I think because I am around food every day, it’s easier for me to not think about the food I’m actually eating.

Do you have a routine in the way you eat or a fall-back eating style? Or are you all about variety? I’m always curious about what works best for people when it comes to healthy eating.


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