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Pear, Spinach and Blue Cheese Sandwich

May 15, 2012

I’m back! I’m back! I missed blogging and being able to interact with you amazing people. Please excuse my excitement and my absence over the past four days. It turns out when you have a blog that has thousands of comments and hundreds of posts over a 3 year span, it takes a while to migrate your blog to WordPress/self hosting. Thankfully, after a few glitches and a bit of down time, my blog is up and running on the new server. And now that we’ve tackled that (I say “we” when I really mean my awesome web designer, Brad) the actual design process can begin shortly. If, over the next couple weeks, you notice anything wonky, please be patient. There are bound to be a few growing pains along the way, but I promise that E&C’s new look is going to be beautiful!

Now for a few house cleaning items:
1. The “Clothing Charity Sale” has been pushed back to Monday, May 21st. I’ve had some amazing donations roll in from other readers, so be sure to spread the word! You will be able to purchase items throughout the week. The final day of the sale is Friday, May 25th.

2. Because of the site’s down time, I am taking this week off from “No Fat Talk Tuesday” until next week. I have a few weeks of posts scheduled, but am in need of more people willing to share their story. If you would like to share, send me an e-mail ( and I can give you more information and guidelines about posting.

3. I’m working on putting together a post on the Paleo diet/lifestyle in the upcoming weeks. If you are a nutritionist or someone who follows Paleo, I would love to hear from you! (

Now on to the fun stuff…

On Mother’s Day, my mom and I hosted my aunt’s and cousins over at my place for a bridal shower in honor of my cousin’s fiancé, Claudia. She is from Colombia, which is where the wedding will be held this summer. Over the past year, she has been living in Iowa and attending college. I couldn’t be more excited for her and for my cousin, Curtis. They make an adorable couple! Claudia told us that where she is from, bridal showers are more like wedding receptions, with both the bride-to-be and groom-to-be in attendance, with lots of dancing, gifts and food. It made me feel like our version of a bridal shower was lacking!

And before I leave you (but not for long this time!), I wanted to share a recipe for one of my new favorite sandwiches. Although the combination may sound a little strange, I can promise you that it’s crazy good. One word to the wise: make sure your pears aren’t too ripe. It’s better to have pears with a little bite to them for this sandwich to prevent the bread from getting soggy. Plus, with the cheese and spinach, a little added texture makes all the difference.

Pear, Spinach and Blue Cheese Sandwich 
*2 slices whole wheat bread
*2 wedges Laughing Cow Blue Cheese
*1/2 medium ripe pear, thinly sliced
*1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

*Spread each slice of bread with one of the cheese wedges. Top one slices with the pears, followed by the spinach. Top with the remaining slice of bread. Cut sandwich in half. If making this sandwich to take with you for lunch, I recommend toasting the bread before making the sandwich to avoid a soggy sandwich.

Happy Cooking!


My Summer Beauty Faves

May 11, 2012
To say my beauty and makeup routine is basic is probably a huge understatement. I only really know how to do my eye makeup one way, and have yet to experiment with bright lip color, although I love the look on others. But I have found a night little mix of reasonably-priced (and sometimes downright cheap) beauty products that make my morning routine complete. 

What beauty products are you loving lately? 

Breakfast Quinoa with Oats

May 10, 2012

 Lately you’ve probably noticed a bit more quinoa popping up on Espresso and Cream, yes? Well, get ready for even more recipes in the months to come! Curtis has kept our house well-stocked with quinoa, and in exchange for the free quinoa, I’ve been creating recipes that go both on this site and on his company’s blog. It’s a win-win if you ask me.

My relationship with quinoa took a while to heat up. I first started cooking with this amazing grain (er…seed) when I went vegetarian a little over two years ago. It wasn’t the taste or texture that drew me to quinoa, but rather the stellar nutritional profile. Since quinoa is a complete protein (meaning it provides 100% of the essential amino acids), it’s ideal for individuals who don’t eat a lot of meat.

But over the last six months, quinoa has really started to grow on me and Joe. It’s so much easier to prepare than rice and stores forever in the refrigerator. I make a large batch without any seasoning every week or week and a half, which does a lot to encourage my quinoa consumption, since it doesn’t require much prep for lunch and dinner.

This past weekend, I made my first foray into eating quinoa at breakfast. Most mornings, okay every morning, I start off the day with a bowl of oats with banana and peanut butter or almond butter. But last weekend, I decided to put a twist on my breakfast stand-by with the addition of quinoa. Cutting my oats with a little cooked quinoa was the perfect breakfast duo. Since quinoa doesn’t have the same gooey texture of cooked oats, adding a tablespoon of chia seeds is the real trick to having your mixture taste more like breakfast porridge rather than a bowl of grain, which I prefer.

In other news, Espresso and Cream is going to be getting a long-overdue redesign in the coming weeks. On top of a visual update, I’ll also be switching E&C over to self-hosting. Although it won’t mean many changes on your end, I wanted to give you a heads-up in case things get a little wonky for a while. Hopefully all goes smoothly and you don’t even notice! But, if you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in the new site, feel free to leave a comment below.

Breakfast Quinoa with Oats
Makes 1 Serving 
*1/4 cup cooked quinoa
*1/4 cup uncooked rolled oats
*1/2 cup milk
*2/3 cup water
*1 tablespoon chia seeds
*1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 packet Truvia or 1 tablespoon brown sugar
*Dash of vanilla extract
*1 medium banana, sliced 
*1/4 cup chopped pecans

*In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cooked quinoa, rolled oats, milk, water and chia seeds. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until oats and chia seeds have absorbed most of the moisture and the mixture is thickened. Add in the cinnamon, Truvia or brown sugar and vanilla extract. Cook for 30 seconds more.
*Remove from heat and stir in the banana slices. Spoon into a bowl and top with the chopped pecans.

Happy Cooking!


30 by 30 Update

May 9, 2012

Last year, after Joe and I ran our first half marathon, I talked a bit about a crazy idea I had to run 30 races by the time I turned 30. Considering I only started running races last year (at age 23) I’ve got a lot of races to run in order to meet my goal!

Even if I don’t end up hitting the 30 by 30 mark, I’m going to have fun trying. I’m hoping to add a couple more short (5k or 10k) local races to this list throughout the summer and fall. And, if I stay healthy and all goes as planned, my mom and I will be running the Twin Cities Marathon two days after my birthday in October!

I still feel a little hesitant even putting that goal out there for all of you to read, but running a marathon has been a goal of mine for the longest time. Both my parents are marathon runners, and a big part of me wants to carry on the family tradition. Plus, it seems like a great time in life to train, since I don’t have any major obligations on my plate.

Here’s a look at the other races I have planned:

Orange City Tulip Festival 5k
Orange City, Iowa 
Saturday, May 19th

Dam to Dam 20k
Des Moines, Iowa 
Saturday, June 2nd

Grinnell Games 5k
Grinnell, Iowa
Saturday, June 9th 

Grandma’s Half Marathon (with my sister-in-law, Amber)
Duluth, MN
Saturday, June 16th

Twin Cities Marathon
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Sunday, October 7th 

Do any of you have races planned for this summer or fall? Is running a marathon a crazy bad or crazy good idea? Help a girl out!


No Fat Talk Tuesday: Cara’s Story

May 8, 2012

Today’s No Fat Talk Tuesday comes to us from Cara, who blogs over at A (not so) Desperate Hausfrau. Although she was born and raised in the states, Cara is now living in Germany with her husband, Luis, who is a professional athlete. Every time I visit her blog, I’m left with a serious case of wanderlust. When I read Cara’s story, I immediately knew it was one that a lot of women would be able to relate to, and best of all, it’s incredibly encouraging and uplifting. Thank you, Cara, for being willing to share you story! – Madison

My “No Fat Talk” began last year when I desperately prayed for God to change the way I saw and talked about my body. My body consumed my thoughts and if I wasn’t feeling good about it, my entire mood was affected. 

As I began to unpack why my thought life was so concerned with whether I felt “squishy” or “toned”, “fat” or “skinny” I concluded that my thoughts simply reflected my heart, and in my heart was an identity defined by my physical being.

My story is not dramatic, but rather one of how problems slowly take root in our lives through subtle instances and changes, often without us even realizing it.
For me, my issues began back in high school when I was often told that I had the “cutest little figure.” This was in thanks to my active involvement in sports.
How is that a struggle you ask? Because it became the foundation of my identity, so much so that when I went off to college and gained some weight, I became fearful of what people would think because, to me, my body was what made me accepted.
  I started eating healthier and running a lot to stay in shape. Gradually, eating healthier turned into extreme calorie counting, temptations of not eating and throwing up to “undo” the damage of moments when I lacked self-control and couldn’t put the ice cream down.
These habits led me to a scary 108 pounds in 2008, down from 125 since the start of college in 2004.
At first I didn’t like it, but as I tried to gain weight I felt bigger so I went back to 110. I stayed busy and active and really liked moments when I didn’t have time to eat because I knew I would feel skinny.  
I also developed a bad habit of comparing my body to other women. Whether it was in a magazine or someone I knew, I was constantly scrutinizing myself compared to them. I critically examined my own body in the mirror, telling myself what needed to be better which perpetuated a very negative self-perspective and extremely negative self-talk.  
My issues hit their peak last summer, after the loss of our first baby. 
Running crazy with hormones, my body didn’t seem to recognize that I was no longer pregnant and I felt it tried to hold on to every ounce of fat I consumed.
I threw myself into running and limited what I ate in order to get my body “back”, and to no longer be reminded that I used to be pregnant.

Just two weeks after I could exercise again, my knee started hurting and I had to stop running. I remember coming in after cutting a run short, bawling—sad that our baby was gone, angry that my body was too, but mostly disgusted that I even cared how I looked after just losing a child.

Through it all, God got my attention and transformed my heart. He stripped me of everything I used to control my weight so that I could see myself as His “workmanship”.

He set me free of the chains that bound me as I meditated on 1 Peter 3:3-4 and Proverbs 31:30 and made my focus about my heart rather than having the perfect body.

Today, I’m not as toned as I used to be, I weigh more than before, but I feel healthier and better than ever.
  The really sad thing about my story is, I have never once in my life been fat. Not even close.  And yet somehow I was convinced otherwise. 
Our culture creates such pressure for women to look a certain way, to be a certain size, that they had someone like me “fat talking” herself into dangerous cycles of negative self-talk and flirtation with eating disorders.
Something needs to change. And it starts with us, girls! Let’s work to remove the negative thoughts and strive to have beautiful hearts, which I know from my own experience is worth far more than the beautiful bodies we all so desperately long to have.
 If you’re interested in sharing your “No Fat Talk” story, I would love to hear from you! Please e-mail me ( for more information! – Madison