What Your Gut Needs from You

Whew! What a packed weekend! Not only was there all the excitement about the Super Bowl (well, for most people, that is. I kept it pretty low key), but I also made a trip back to my Alma mater for a girls’ weekend with two of my closest friends from college. If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may be noticing a trend — we try to get together at least a handful times throughout the year (such as this time and this time, just to name a couple). And you know what? I absolutely love it!

IMG_5620

We switch it up every time with where we’re going to meet up and this time we chose our old stomping grounds in Ames, Iowa, where we all went to college. It was great being back and reminiscing about all the “good times.” Besides all the catching up we did, we cheered on the women’s basketball team at the Hilton Coliseum, ate at some of our favorite places, and took in everything that had changed on campus since the short time we’d been in school…or maybe six years isn’t that short of time? Eek! Time flies by!

9T2B6923

Graduation Day — We were just babies!

Even though it’s been six years since I was graduating with my bachelors in dietetics (I was just a baby!), I’m always learning more about the field of nutrition as so many things have already changed since then. I love staying on top of all these current trends, findings, and changes. And one of the “hot topics” in the nutrition arena is your gut microbiome…say what? In other words, all the bacteria living inside of you. Turns out they play a huge role in our health!

A lot of times when we think about what we need to do to adjust our diets in order to stay on top of our health, we don’t think to consider how our gut may play a role in their health – a very crucial role.

(continue reading…)

Panko-Crusted Asian Salmon + Walt Disney World Adventures!

Panko-Crusted Asian Salmon

Hello again, everyone! I’m back after having a magical time in Walt Disney World last week! (see what I did there… ;)) My entire immediate family packed our bags and flew in from three different states to meet together at Disney World for a week. And boy, did we have a fun-packed time! I hadn’t been there in over 17 years (!!) and Philip had never been, so we were due for a trip to the most magical place ever. Seriously, Disney does it all!

MK_MSFIRSTA_7584948192

Going as an adult made me appreciate all the details, personalization, and exceptional service that much more (who am I kidding, I didn’t even notice as a kid). They make it a magical place for all ages. The classics were all still there (hello Space Mountain!), but from the MyDisney Experience app, PhotoPasses, and FastPass+ to the meal plans and MagicBands (#disneylingo), I felt like it was a completely different and streamlined experience. Never in my life have I had the luxury of checking my bags at the airport and not worrying about them until they showed up in our hotel room. Talk about service!

IMG_5584

All the extra perks aside, spending five days with my family creating memories, plus seeing the awe in my four-year-old niece’s face when she got to hug and see all the princesses was the best. Isn’t she the most adorable Belle ever?!

Princess Belle

I felt like this was a classic family vacation: On-the-go nonstop until you finally crash each night out of pure exhaustion. From breakfast with Disney characters to dinner with the Disney princesses, parades, and fireworks at the parks, we were out and about all day. I think it’s safe to say that I’m successfully living up my word of the year: Fun! #yearoffun

EPCOT_BACKSIDE2_7585843293

While my word of the year is fun, I also made a very vague and unmeasurable goal at the last minute: Eat more fish. So far this year (one month in!), I’d say that has also been successful. Disney, thanks for offering Ahi tuna and salmon at almost every meal. :) It was delicious.

You know what else is delicious? This Panko-Crusted Asian Salmon, which is my latest recipe to help increase our fish intake to a weekly basis. Fish is a great, lean source of protein, plus fatty fish like salmon and tuna are filled with healthy Omega-3 fats that can help prevent heart disease, inflammation, and promote brain health. #winning

IMG_3101

(continue reading…)

Chicken Cilantro and Lime Soup

Chicken Cilantro & Lime Soup

I feel like a broken record, but I’m afraid it’s still just as cold this week as it was last week…which means time for more soup! I wasn’t kidding when I told you I’ve been making soup on almost a weekly basis. I’m just getting started with all the soups I’ve been making! ;)

IMG_5439

But first, since I have unofficially declared 2016 as my “year of fun,” I am determined to embrace these cold temperatures and take advantage of what Wisconsin has to offer in the winter months. And that meant finally getting to go cross country skiing this weekend! I have been wanting to go every winter since I moved here (this is the 3rd winter) and it never seemed to work out due to something or another, so I was not letting another winter slip by this year…especially during my year of fun! Philip and I had some free time on Saturday and were able to see how our legs worked with skis on. While it definitely wasn’t pretty at first, we had a great time and are excited to give it another try when there’s fresh snow on the trails!

IMG_5427

It was fun to be outside, but I was ready for something to warm me up afterwards. While it is soup season, sometimes the comfort food gets a little too…well, comforting. I need something fresh and light, something not so stick-to-your-bones that weighs you down for the rest of the evening. (Even though, chances are high I will indeed be lounging on the couch after dinner continuing to go through all the seasons of Downton Abbey, I don’t always want to feel like I’m in a winter food coma.) In those times, I go to Chicken Cilantro and Lime Soup. 

IMG_2886

(continue reading…)

[Slow Cooker] Hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Slow Cooker Hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Winter decided to show up for a little bit in Wisconsin…in it’s coldest way possible. I know we’ve been pretty fortunate so far this winter (it may be hard to remember with these near negative temps we’re having, but remember those 50 degree days a month ago?!), but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to tolerate these cold days.

Running outside makes my eyelashes freeze and my legs to go numb. Not enough blankets, sweatshirts, or slippers can make me feel warm enough. And it’s so dry that Philip and I got shocked when we gave each other a kiss yesterday. Philip says sparks are flying (insert eye roll emoji), but all I can think about is how I’ll be able to survive embrace another few months of winter in Wisconsin.

One way that is certainly helping with my constant state of being cold is filling up on hearty soups. I think I’ve started adding at least one soup a week to our weekly menu. The first chance I get when the temps start to drop ever so slightly (uhh, is September too soon?), I’m pulling out all my soup recipes to enjoy them to the fullest for yet another Wisconsin winter. #lookingonthebrightside

IMG_3083

One of the easiest and quickest soups in my arsenal of soup recipes is this Hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. I’ve already had it three times within the past two months — it’s that good!

(continue reading…)

The Start of a New Year + Trunk Club Review

IMG_3046

Can you believe we’re already a few days into the new year?! 2016 — how did that happen?! So far, my new year is off to a fun start. I’ve unofficially declared fun as my word of the year. I think after spending so much time working on our new house for the first half of last year and being injured for the other half, I’m ready to get outside, be adventurous, and just enjoy myself this year…well, as much as I can without completely ignoring the fact that I have a full-time job and am trying to be a responsible adult.

With only four days in, I’d have to say 2016 is looking up! Philip and I had a quiet New Year’s Day that I absolutely loved. It included a little productivity with plenty of relaxation. I was able to join the rest of them at the gym and go for a swim in the morning, clean the house after all the Christmas decorations had come down (while sad to see them go, it’s nice to have all the pine needles gone and things back in order), get groceries, and do laundry all with plenty of daylight left to relax and enjoy the day. That doesn’t happen very often ever and I can’t tell you how happy it made me feel to start the New Year that way.

IMG_3029

With chores checked off our list, Philip and I tested out our new snowshoes on snow covered trails right outside our house and cozied up on the couch to sip on tea and read with the afternoon sun streaming in through the windows. It’s the simple pleasures in the life, right? And yes, this is what I call fun:)

IMG_3033

All of our resting up on Friday prepared us for a fun early-birthday trip to Chicago for Philip on Saturday! I loved taking it all in — the hustle and bustle of people walking up and down the streets with shopping bags in hand, the lights, restaurants, and store fronts.

(continue reading…)

Top 10 Most Popular Recipes in 2015

Top 10 Most Popular Recipes 2015

After all the excitement and anticipation leading up to Christmas, I can’t believe it’s all over now. Our Christmas tree is still up, but yet it doesn’t seem to have the same glow as it did just a few days ago when Philip and I opened up our gifts by its lights.

IMG_5397

Philip and I had a wonderful Christmas and spent the entire weekend with all of his immediate family. Having everybody all together is a treat since half of them live in Colorado now and it’s not always as easy to have everyone under the same roof. We ate, played games, ate again, opened gifts, watched movies, ate some more, and shared about our past year and year to come. Always a fun time with the Hoerr family! In good foodie fashion, I brought along the candy that Philip and I had made a few weeks ago, my Holiday Pear-Pomegranate Salsa, and my Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread for my father-in-law (extra raisins, of course). Everything was a huge hit!

IMG_5400

You had a few of your own favorites this year, too! Now that Christmas is behind us, it’s always fun to look back on the year that is ending and also look ahead at the year to come. One thing I know for sure is that 2015 had some delicious recipes coming out of this blog (as well as the addition of a new camera! No more iPhone photos!). Without further ado, here are your top 10 favorite recipes from 2015 (I think you chose some good ones!):

(continue reading…)

Pear and Pomegranate Spinach Salad with Pistachios

Pear & Pomegranate Spinach Salad with Pistachios

Christmas is almost here, folks! After all the anticipation and preparation for the holiday, we are down to the final days. Is your shopping done, lists completed, and gifts wrapped? Ha. Don’t worry, we still have days…plural. (re: we’ve still got time!)

In all seriousness, with all the hustle and bustle, sometimes it’s best to slow down, put aside our to-do lists, and remember to be joyful and content with what we do have. Even though I’m still working the majority of this week, I’m already excited for our young tradition of going together to a Christmas Eve service on Thursday evening followed by sushi at a restaurant in downtown Madison. With bellies full, Philip and I come back home to sit by the fire, sip on hot chocolate, and exchange thoughtful gifts to one another. Out of all the hubbub of the season, this quiet time together is possibly what I look forward to the most.

IMG_2920

In keeping with the theme of simplicity and not to add another recipe that will add to your baking or cooking list, I have a simple salad that I know you’re going to love — both for the flavor and ease of making it. Whether you decide to add it to your holiday dinner table this year or opt for having it after the big meals are over when you’re looking for something a little healthier, Pear and Pomegranate Spinach Salad with Pistachios has got you covered.

(continue reading…)

Holiday Pear-Pomegranate Salsa + [How-To Remove Pomegranate Seeds] + Sneak Peak at our Kitchen Updates

Holiday Pomegranate-Pear Salsa

Philip and I are now entering our third Christmas season together as a married couple and have, as of this weekend, completed our second annual Hoerr Family Confectionary (est. 2013) candy-making extravaganza! We pull out all the stops with labels, candy boxes, and as much candy as we can squeeze into a day. It’s fun to then be able to share that candy throughout the Christmas season with neighbors, family, and friends.

Candy Collage

While we may have thrown out more caramel than we actually were able to use and had a couple too many mid-candy-making grocery runs, the rest of the candy was success on the first try. I feel like we are officially stocked until Valentine’s Day. #dietitiansworstnightmare

Caramel Making

But you know what was the best part (well, besides taste testing far too much of our final products)?! Fully putting to use our new, updated kitchen! It was our Christmas present to each other this year, and exactly one year after we closed on our first home, we were able to enjoy it to the fullest. Now…what’s on our Year Two list? ;)

Kitchen Before & After

I know I hinted at giving you a full glimpse at our kitchen awhile back (sorry, the time has gotten away from me!), but I’m happy to show you the finished result now! (continue reading…)

The Best Chewy Gingersnaps Yet

The Best Chewy Gingersnaps Yet

The holiday season is officially in full force! Can you believe that Christmas is now less than 3 weeks away?! Somehow it’s already the second week of December and I can sense the flurry of activity going on in the stores as the holiday quickly approaches. Flour and sugar are left empty on the grocery store shelves and everybody is pulling out their yearly, favorite cookie recipes. What are your favorite holiday cookies and desserts? 

IMG_2959

For me, I grew up on soft sugar cookies with icing dripping down the sides. Nothing pretty or perfect about them, but somehow they seemed to melt in my mouth with every bite. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

You know what else makes my mouth water, though? These chewy gingersnap cookies…The Best Chewy Gingersnaps Yet, for that matter. :) I feel like all things ginger and gingerbread are the forgotten flavor around the holidays. Sure, peppermint normally gets all the attention, but I have a soft spot for the warmth and richness of gingersnaps. Every time I make up a batch of gingersnaps, it has me thinking of my aunt who doesn’t leave the flavor of ginger just to the holidays — she makes gingersnaps all year round. Can you see already why I love her so much?! When I lived close to my aunt and uncle during college, it was a safe bet there’d be a container of freshly made gingersnaps on her counter when I came for a visit.

IMG_2951

(continue reading…)

A Thanksgiving, Birthday, & Christmas Weekend Celebration

IMG_2795

Hi again, friends! I hope you had a tasty and relaxing Thanksgiving! Did you get out to shop and hit up the good deals? Feast on leftovers all weekend long? Put on Christmas music and decorate for the upcoming season? Whatever you did, I’m sure we can agree that the weekend went by too quickly and now we’re back to another work week.

I feel like our family did a mix of everything this past weekend! It was such a fun weekend, too. Philip and I enjoyed a quaint and quiet Thanksgiving with my parents who drove to Madison to be with us. But do we know how to throw a good Thanksgiving feast!

IMG_2797

(continue reading…)