Why you shouldn’t buy into every diet or health claim you hear

We’re well over a month into the New Year, and in the past month, social media, Pinterest, and magazines have bombarded me with salads, diet-friendly this, sugar-free that, and snacks that are low in all the things we’re supposed to eat.

I usually don’t mind this overabundance of healthier options – whether over the top or not – because, hey, sometimes I find some good recipes to try! Plus, I love it when people start to focus on making more nutritious choices.

But this year, I’ve been seeing a little bit too much of diets attached to the recipe name, such as “Cleansing Apple Smoothie” or “Whole30 Vegetarian Power Bowls.”

The recipe that really took me over the top was when I recently saw a description for Coconut Flour Cookies. After the description listed the “scrumptious peanut butter and chocolate nestled into each cookie,” it listed that they were also Paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free. They were described as being “delicious and healthy and come without regrets.”

But they’re still cookies! Does anybody else see the irony in this?

Just because the coconut cookies check the boxes on a large majority of dietary restrictions or diets right now, does not inherently make them healthy. Whether a cookie is advertised as being diet-friendly or not, it’s still a treat that should be enjoyed sparingly.

Recipes and foods can list all kinds of catchy phrases or words to persuade you they’re “healthy,” which somehow makes them better than other foods. Here are some key words to watch out for that are used to grab your attention – but often may not mean much at all in terms of your long-term health. (continue reading…)

Baked Lime & Cilantro Salmon Meatballs with Avocado Sauce

Wait! Before you completely discredit this recipe and move on to your next find on the web, give me a chance to explain!

I know you see baked fish in the title and I know you see meatballs. And I know you immediately think you’re probably not interested. I understand. It doesn’t always sound the most appealing (myself included), but this baked salmon is so flavorful with generous amounts of cilantro and lime pulsed right into the meatball. Plus, with spices like paprika and oregano to give it a little pizzazz, it’s not just your typical baked salmon meatball. These little meatballs are mighty in flavor.

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My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

Well, here we are, already a good two weeks into 2018! I’m not one to make resolutions or get too philosophical about the start of a new year, but a brand-new year is always kind of exciting.

Philip and I had a great holiday, mostly staying around home. But even with some good time off, it’s surprising how quickly it felt like we needed another weekend to get away and catch up on some much needed R&R.

If this doesn’t scream R&R, I don’t know what does. :) This past weekend we headed up north for our annual visit to my aunt and uncle’s lake house, which they generously let us enjoy for a weekend in the winter. Since it’s only two hours away, it makes for an easy weekend trip.

While on the lake on one of our walks on Saturday, we had some neighbors ask us what our plans were while visiting…uhh, plans? What plans? Our plans consisted of: Reading, working on a puzzle, dreaming in front of the fire, and venturing briefly out into the below zero temps to get some fresh air. Safe to say, it was a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Bring on the new year!

Since so much has happened since the last time I posted, I thought I’d catch us all up by sharing my current thoughts and ponderings (you know you love these as much as I do. ;)).

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Fig & Goat Cheese Prosciutto Wraps

The holiday festivities are definitely here! Can you believe Christmas is just a week away?! If your schedule looks anything like mine, you have parties to attend, holiday baking to partake in, and gifts to wrap (or get!). While hectic at times, I truly love all the excitement and anticipation leading up to Christmas.

This past weekend, Philip and I broke out our “Hoerr Family Confectionery” candy making tub and spent the weekend making our annual homemade chocolates and candy. The caramel came out on the first try, so I’m calling it a win! I think we’re slowly starting to get this whole thing down!

I love making the candy and the tradition of doing it every year, but I think what I love even more is being able to work side by side with Philip in the kitchen (a rare occurrence!) and boxing up the finished products to gift to our neighbors.

And this year it was even more exciting to box up our chocolates to give away, because we upgraded our logo! Philip’s brother graciously made us a new design that we turned into a stamp. It feels so legit. ;) We’re going places, I can tell.

While this past weekend we were busy in the kitchen, last week we were having fun jumping from one holiday event to the next. I made this salsa for one of the parties (I can always guarantee on it being a big hit no matter who is at the party) and a couple days later whipped up these Fig & Goat Cheese Prosciutto Wraps for another get together we were going to for an appetizer. Fast and fancy is what I like to call these little roll ups.

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Pomegranate Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Big stuff happening over here this past weekend! I had to go into my About Kara page and delete the “twenty-something” description about me. Yep, this past weekend I had a big birthday! It was a lovely weekend celebrating just how I like it — simple, special, and shared with close friends. :)

While I didn’t celebrate with a cake, I think this Parisian Hot Sipping Chocolate more than makes up for that. Philip surprised me on Saturday with a trip to the Chocolaterian Cafe. They certainly live up their name. While all of their chocolate creations look delicious, this sipping chocolate is one of my favorites and is served in a 4-ounce cup with tiny spoons (so adorable!). It’s literally like drinking a dark chocolate truffle. Mmmm, I’m practically drooling just thinking about it. ;)

Also, I got an Instant Pot for my birthday (after over a year of debating about whether I needed/wanted yet another appliance in my kitchen, I decided it was time). So far, I’m obsessed! I’ve had it less than a week and I’ve already cooked butternut squash, steel cut oats, and yogurt. I’m three for three with successes, so I’ve decided it’s pretty much fool proof. ;) Let me know if you’re interested in Instant Pot recipes and I’ll try to get a few posted as I start to use it even more.

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Our Europe Trip in Pictures: Part 2

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Time for Round Two of my two part series highlighting our recent trip to Europe. If you missed it, I talked about our first half of our trip to Italy in this post. But today, it’s time for Greece!! To be honest, we spent the majority of our time planning and thinking about Italy, while Greece kind of became a second thought. I’m not really sure why, because Greece was just as lovely. And, more importantly, had just as good of food. :) I actually liked how we went about planning for this two week trip of ours. We did enough planning to have a rough itinerary made up and to have all of our transportation figured out ahead of time, but what made up our activities for several of the days, we decided on the spot and didn’t get stressed out about seeing all the things!

In Greece, we spent a short bit of time in Athens and then concluded our trip with a relaxing few days in Santorini, one of the most popular and beautiful Greek islands. It was the perfect way to cap off our time in Europe.

I suppose we might as well start the slideshow ;)…A recap of our time in Greece:  (continue reading…)

Our Europe Trip in Pictures: Part 1

We’re back, we’re back, we’re back!! First of all, this trip was absolutely incredible and amazing and something I’ll remember for a lifetime (for those of you who don’t know, we traveled to various parts of Italy and Greece for two weeks in October). That said, it feels so good to be back! It’s weird how that happens…while the food was absolutely divine and I wanted to take it all home with me, at the same time I was still ready to have my own, familiar food again (I’m looking at you, peanut butter…I may have gotten peanut butter confiscated from my bag not once, but twice by TSA in the airports…it never hurts to try. :)). And while we had gorgeous views in all of our Airbnbs (I mean, really, does waking up to a view of the Mediterranean or the Parthenon ever get old?), my own bed that overlooks, well, our backyard and our neighbor’s back porch light that they insist on turning on for the entire night (not that I’m bitter about this at all) never felt better! Oh, and having fast wi-fi and being able to communicate with people were also small perks of being back on U.S. soil.

So, where do I even start! First, our itinerary: We were gone a total of 14 days, visited 2 countries, and stayed in 4 cities/towns. All of our travel was either by plane, bus, or train…We saw a lot of public transportation on this trip, to say the least. :) Thankfully, it’s super easy to get around in Europe by these modes of transportation and our hours of planning ahead of time made all of these connections as hassle-free as possible. Renting a car and attempting to drive while there looked like an absolute nightmare. Eek!

Days 1–6: Exploring Pisa/Florence/Tuscany
Days 7–9: Relaxing in the Amalfi Coast in Italy (Praiano and Positano to be exact)
Days 10–11: Sightseeing around Athens, Greece
Days: 12–14: Relaxing and soaking up our last days of vacation in Santorini, Greece, one of the Greek islands

Ready for picture overload? Here’s what we saw in Italy (Greece coming soon!): (continue reading…)

My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

Somehow it’s already the last week of September. Someone please tell me…how did this happen?! If my absence from my blog didn’t clue you in, September was a crazy busy month for us! All fun stuff, but crazy nonetheless. Our September started with a trip to Colorado (I know! We’ve been so fortunate to be able to go visit twice in one summer), a triathlon here, a bike tour ride there, and a few other fall events scattered in between. And if I thought September flew by, I’m afraid October will fly by just as fast…most likely faster. Let’s just say, I’ll be out of my office at work for three straight weeks. Whee! So, to find out what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be going, be sure to follow along with me on Instagram for all of our upcoming adventures. So, so excited you guys!

In the meantime, let’s find out what I’ve been doing already in the month of September. I promise recipes from my kitchen will again happen once life settles down a tinge (I mean, does it really ever settle down? I’m not so sure anymore…), but for now, I thought I’d share with you another round of my current thoughts and ponderings (sorry in advance for the picture overload!). Enjoy!
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Summer Veggie-Millet Burger

I know, I know, I’m going to come right out and say that this recipe probably isn’t going to be for everyone (re: my dad, any burger purist, or any meat lover who needs meat on his/her plate for it to even be considered a meal). Well, this burger has no meat and is definitely branching out when it comes to the definition of a “burger.”

BUT, for everyone else out there who is holding on to these last summer days and flavors and who has summer veggies piling up on your counter and in your refrigerator right now, this recipe is PERFECT! Philip and I are in our second year of having a CSA share (community supported agriculture) through Ridgeland Harvest and we love having such a great variety of organic, local produce around in the summer. It branches us out from what we typically gravitate towards when shopping for vegetables in the winter and the taste can’t be beat.

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4 Years of Marriage & A Trip to Chicago

Urban, hip, trendy, cool. These all describe the lifestyle of Chicago. And I am decidedly…not. Haha.

Philip and I recently celebrated our four year (four years?!) anniversary on August 10th and, to celebrate, made the short trip down to Chicago for a mini two-day getaway. We attempted to fit in with the “hip” 20’s- and 30’s-somethings young professionals—and I’d like to say we succeeded—with a $15 drink in hand and all. ;) It’s always fun to pretend sometimes, right? But safe to say, downtown Chicago is not going to be a place we call home anytime soon. But to visit? Oh yes, we’ll be back. Today I’m filling you in on the highlights. I would highly recommend all the places we went and stayed at!

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of our anniversary, if you’re interested or like sappy things like wedding stories, you can read here about how we met, or here about our one year anniversary (ironically enough, also included a trip to the Chicago area) and what we learned in that one year of marriage, or here and here about our two year anniversary. Guess I missed our 3 year! ;)

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