Author: Kara Hoerr

An RD, runner, and wife living the Midwest life.

Chicago-Style Carrot Dogs

Oh, hey there! Summer is full swing over here and I’m absolutely loving it! Madison just shines in the summer. The lakes and pretty views, the bike trails, all the outdoor activities and concerts, the farmers’ markets…it’s just enough to make you forget the long winter you just endured. :) Please tell me the summer is still young and has only just begun! I hate the idea of the days already getting shorter and school supplies hitting the shelves once the 4th has passed. Nooo! I don’t even need the school supplies and it still makes me panic. Ha!

I won’t think about that yet, because we still have lots of fun summer activities coming up. But just looking at the past four weeks, we’ve also already managed to squeeze in a lot of fun!  (continue reading…)

Feed Your Stomach, Not Your Feelings

Your already busy week just go busier when you found out your boss assigned you to give a company-wide presentation… tomorrow.

The next thing you know, you’ve eaten half a bag of M&Ms.

You have a long drive ahead of you and you’ve already played through all your podcasts and listened to your favorite playlists. A stop at a gas station for some chips and candy will surely make the time go by faster.

Your child just used your favorite lipstick to decorate your freshly painted walls. This day deserves a good helping of that ice cream in the freezer.

We’ve all been there before. Whether we’re stressed, bored, upset or even happy, our emotions can determine our food choices. Often, when these emotions hit, we’re not grabbing for the carrots or apple, either.

Using food as a source of comfort—otherwise known as emotional eating—may seem harmless and, well, comforting. But when food becomes the main strategy for trying to manage our emotions, we’re missing the mark and forming an unhealthy relationship with food while we’re at it.

In fact, the majority of our overeating is actually caused by emotions.

When we emotionally eat, we’re eating for reasons other than physical hunger. It’s important to remember that no matter how hard we try to satisfy our emotional hunger with food, food is only capable of satisfying our physical hunger.

When we try to fix our emotions with food, the food choices are typically poor, the portion size often too large, and—because food can’t get rid of the initial emotion—we’re left with the same emotion on top of a sense of guilt or frustration for eating more than we wanted to in the first place. That’s not a winning combination.

The first step in combating emotional eating is by recognizing it.

Physical hunger will come on gradually, and you can typically postpone eating for a while. On the other hand, emotional hunger comes on suddenly, feels urgent and gives you specific cravings, such as pizza, ice cream or chocolate.

While an apple might not sound appealing when you’re emotionally hungry, an apple or any other food usually can satisfy your physical hunger. So when you’re thinking about eating, ask yourself the simple question, “Am I hungry enough for an apple?”

As you finish eating, you’re more likely to stop eating once you’ve satisfied your physical hunger. Emotional hunger likely would leave you eating more than you normally would, with an uncomfortably full feeling afterwards.

Once you’ve identified the difference between these two types of hunger, it’s easier to find alternative ways to handle the emotion.

Learning to deal with our feelings without food is a new skill that—like anything new—takes time and practice. Start by making a list of alternative things you could do to subdue your emotions when you get a craving for your favorite comfort food.

This might look like taking a walk, calling a friend, doing something productive around the house, such as cleaning or organizing, squeezing a stress ball or taking a few deep breaths at your office desk. Doing something to take your mind off whatever is causing the emotion will help distract you and reduce the food cravings.

In case you get a sudden and strong urge to eat something that can’t be resisted, try to have on hand some healthier, comfort foods. For crunch, this could be nuts or a piece of fruit. For something sweet, try trail mix with dark chocolate chips.

And to avoid mindlessly working your way through an entire bag of potato chips, prepare smaller portions of comfort foods to have at the ready.

Most importantly, as you eat, being mindful of what you’re eating will help you be more aware of why you’re eating in the first place. This will help keep you from overeating and having the post-eating guilt.

Emotions are going to happen, but it’s how we manage them that will help us become more emotionally and physically healthy.

My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…Boston Marathon Edition

It’s been exactly one week since I ran the Boston Marathon. Last week I was fighting against a headwind and at least 20 mph wind gusts, rain interspersed with sudden downpours, and a starting temperature of a whopping 40 degrees. For three and a half hours. To say conditions for running 26.2 miles were less than ideal would be an understatement. Of course, today looks like great weather for a run…go figure.

But you know what? I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t put it into words, but the Boston Marathon is like no other marathon—no matter what the weather. The spectators cheering you on, the volunteers who are there to help with any and every need you may have, and the 25,000+ runners who are right there experiencing it all with you; it’s just incredible. Plus, I know the 122nd Boston Marathon will go down in history as being one of the worst days for a marathon weather-wise, so getting to say I did that counts for something, right? ;)

I was able to run the Boston Marathon two years ago for the first time and while it’s easy to compare between the two years, I have just as sweet of memories from this year. While two years ago, it was almost too hot (I can’t believe I’m saying that), this year just brought other challenges. If you’re curious, here are my thoughts from two years ago leading up to the Boston Marathon and my thoughts following the race. When I read back through them, all of my sentiments and feelings about the experience still hold true. Only this time, I improved my time and, unlike two years ago, I had another Boston qualifying time…so you know what that means. ;)

There’s so much I could share about our trip to Boston and the race weekend, so to help me touch on the highlights, I’m doing another round of my “Current Thoughts and Ponderings”—Boston Marathon style.

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Salmon Poke Bowls

Philip and I don’t always agree on everything, like whether or not a dessert or bread is made better by adding nuts to it (I’d rather leave them out) or if it’s acceptable to have music playing in the car at any and all times (the music is always on if it’s just me in the car). But one thing we can agree on is that these Salmon Poke Bowls are our all-time favorite meal to date! Just yesterday, Philip mentioned that he could eat these every week.

A lot of meals go up onto our menu board every week, most of them being different from the previous weeks. I like to joke that we’re on a 6-month rotating schedule (the sad part is, I’m not really joking. Haha)—meaning we don’t typically get to a repeat meal until about 6 months later. And that’s only if it’s still seasonably appropriate to have it again. But these poke bowls? We immediately decided to make it a priority to add it our meal plan at least every other month, if not more that that. Obviously, Philip would like it more than that. ;)

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Spicy Peanut & Sweet Potato Soup + Fireplace Makeover + Sourdough Success!

I knew talking about our updated fireplace would get you to come visit. :) And while you’re here, you might as well check out this amazingly delicious and flavorful soup I’m sharing with you, too (sneaky, aren’t I? :)). I know, you’re probably thinking soup season is coming to an end, but you’re talking to the girl who just got a new fireplace…I’m going to enjoy these last few weeks of winter as much as I can!

While I’m certainly excited about this soup (seriously, so good! Philip and I both went for seconds on it), I have to admit, I’m with you guys—I’m probably more excited about this new fireplace makeover right now. We just had the stone go up this past Friday and cleaned up from all the drywall dust and put the room back together on Saturday (seriously, that dust landed in places I didn’t even knew existed!), so you’re seriously getting a first glimpse!  (continue reading…)

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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