Category Archives: I Love Food, Sometimes Too Much

2011 Year in Review Goal 2: Be Happy

As we finish 2011, I could not possibly be happier! I married the man of my dreams. I’ve got my health. I live in a beautiful home. I can wear pajamas to work and my “co-worker” Noah just sleeps most of the day. Life is good! But how did I do on the sub-categories??

Goal: Be happy.

  • Take more pictures
  • Share pictures and stories via blogs.
  • Make a homemade dinner at least four times per week.
  • Pay it forward at least once a month.

I did a slightly better job taking pictures this year, but I sure got a lot of help from friends, family, and wicked good photographers for the big stuff. As for sharing them, well…you better be my friend on Facebook or in real life. I plan on adding more pictures  to blog posts in 2012.

I’m proud of the documentation of our honeymoon. Hopefully y’all were able to play along from home pretty well. I didn’t do the best sharing the rest of the year, but I’m sure we can all agree I over share and you feel like you know plenty about my 2011.

A homemade dinner four times a week may not seem like that big a stretch for some of you, but with all of our extracurriculars and our how much we like to go out to eat, Randy and I weren’t eating a non-cold-sandwich meal at home very often. I can’t tell you specifics, but we did get better in 2011! Many thanks to our CSA, Springdale Farms, for providing us with abundant produce, the #mkefoodies group for inspiring me to freeze a lot of things in the summer, and my favorite food blog loves  for providing me with inspiration. I found a really cool calendar for 2012 to help me plan out fresh, healthy meals. Check it out here.

I made a very conscious effort to “pay it forward” in 2011. The whole point of this exercise is to be a humble person helping out their fellow man, so I won’t give you specifics. I’ll just say I did it. Happily. Hopefully this exercise becomes habit and I’ll continue this practice for all years to come.

In 2012, I hope to dedicate more time and communication to specific charities. I think I have found my home in a couple of local nonprofits. I look forward to getting more involved in the new year. If anything, I think I might over share vs. not tell y’all enough, so the blogging might stay the same or happen a little less. I’m also hoping 2012 is a little less eventful than 2011. This was a crazy year!

Do you volunteer? Do you prefer one-time opportunities or a year-long commitment?

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Sugar Rush: Bake Sale for a Good Cause

If you love sweets and/or have a heart, here is an event you HAVE to attend: the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale which will take place this Saturday, December 10 at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery.

The mission of this nonprofit can’t be beat:

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is committed to raising funds to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 18. Through the concept of local bake sales, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer provides the inspiration and support for individuals, communities, and businesses to help fight pediatric cancer.”

The awesome owners of Milwaukee’s own Burp! Where Food Happens blog will be hosting this event which will showcase professional and amateur bakers from all over the Metro Milwaukee. There will be tea from Milwaukee’s Rishi Tea, coffee from Stone Creek Coffee, and some really great cookies and treats from Milwaukee area food bloggers like Nicole from OnMyTableBlog, Erin from Hot Dinner Happy Home, Dan & Melissa from Duo of Chefs, Sarah from Food, Fun, and Life in Waukesha and Karis from Karis’ Kitchen.

Bonus: if you have someone on your gift list who is watching their weight (blasphemy during the holiday season!), you’re in luck. Mark the Occasion Designs will have bracelets and brooches on sale. 25% of all sales will go back to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Double bonus: we’ll be showcasing our wedding designs, too. If you reserve a custom order between December 10 -24, then 10% of your purchase will go back to this great cause. We all win!

MKEfoodies Holiday Bake Sale
Saturday, December 10, 2011
12p.m. – 4 p.m.
Best Place At The Historic Pabst Brewery
901 W. Juneau Ave.

Invite your Friends via Facebook!
Can’t make it to the event? Give to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer at our online donation page!

P.S. Rumor has it chocolate covered cherries will be available at the bake sale. If I’m on your Christmas list… I’ll take a dozen!

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Day 31: A Month in Review

October has come to a close and with it, so goes #NoProOcto. If I were to be graded, I’m not sure I would have passed this month. Well…I probably would have passed, but definitely not with flying colors.

Overall, I would guess I ate about 70% unprocessed food (which probably means 55% is more accurate.) I had plenty of excuses for processed, but it came down to two things. First poor reason was that I was out with friends or family and didn’t want to be the jerk that wouldn’t eat anything. Point 1A would be that I can’t NOT eat when food is put in front of me. The other reason is even worse – I NEED CHOCOLATE!! I tried my damnedest to keep homemade baked goods in the house, but I am like a heroin addict when it comes to my fix before bed. I’m not too proud to say I tore into an old Hershey bar I found in the back of the cabinet one night when the chocolate syrup for milk had run out…

I did learn a lot from this exercise though. At the beginning of the month I thought about our trip down to Illinois. Subway was the only healthy option at our normal dinner stop exit, but their meats, cheeses, and breads couldn’t be more processed if they tried! Instead, I picked up sandwiches, chips, and cookies from Outpost. Delicious and healthy! I’ve learned I really can live on one soda every other day, though every two days may still be a stretch. I made it through the whole month without diving into the snack box here at work. (Though I’m mowing through leftover Halloween candy from the bin as I write!)

I now know to read labels and weigh the calorie/fat savings to the number of preservatives and fake ingredients in the food. Also, I’ve starting asking at restaurants (and been surprised by the answers, both good and bad.) Most importantly, I have learned that you can make great meals using fresh ingredients without it taking any longer than something out of a box.

I do think I’ll do a No Restaurant Month experiment sometime in the near future. Seeing as I already broke the rules  by enjoying a salad from UWM’s Conference Center cafeteria, I guess I’ll have to plan on another time.

What experiments have you done with your food intake?

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Day 17: Are We There Yet?

I’m not going to lie – this #NoProOcto #Unprocessed Challenge is becoming a bit of a well, challenge. Do you know how much of our normal food has extra stuff in it??? I don’t have specifics, but it’s a phenomenally high percentage.

I had a bad cold last week (leaving me with zero interest in food) and had a bunch of required meals out where I wouldn’t be picking my selection. I like to think that my lunch at the Hyatt was mostly unprocessed food, but I’m pretty confident that my boxed lunch at the SWE conference last Friday included turkey that was more chemical than poultry. Today, I didn’t really think about the fact that I was eating fake potato chips until I was halfway through the bag. Old habits die hard!

After two weeks (wow, way to stick with it, Champ…) I couldn’t muster the energy to make my own breakfast bread for the week yesterday. I tried to find premade granola bars at the grocery store that fit the bill, but even hippie Kashi brand include all sorts of extras. Instead, I’ll be having plain yogurt (YAH! I found “legal” yogurt!) with a squirt of honey. And an extra dose of the hungries by 10am.

When I make my own meals, it is pretty easy to use natural ingredients. I made yummy cauliflower soup, kale chips, and chocolate brownies on Saturday using nothing processed. Also, a homemade spaghetti sauce with shredded zucchini (to replace ground meat) was a hit this last week. I guess that’s the secret… make as much food at home as possible.

Which brings me to my next point; have I found my November challenge?? Unfortunately, I think eating 100% homemade meals would be a harder challenge than eating 100% unprocessed food! What do you think would be harder for you?

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Day 10: We’re Taking This Thing Natural!

I thought it was time to give you an update on the #NoProOcto #Unprocessed food challenge. Quick answer: so far, so good!

Long answer: This isn’t that hard! During the first week, I made a bunch of delicious dinners, including my favorite bibb lettuce salad with goat cheese toasts and a smattering of honey. Seriously, if all natural food were this finger-licking amazing, unprocessed food wouldn’t have had to be created in the first place. Love it!

I did scale back to a soda every other day which was a big challenge met. My secret is to only have Diet Dr. Peppers at home and keep the Diet Cokes for meals out. Sparking juice drinks give me the same satisfaction as a Dr. Pepper. I plan on keeping up this every-other-day thing for another week and then maybe try to go 2 days off.  Warning – you may want to stay out of this grump’s path next week.

I had lunch at the Westown Farmer’s Market last Wednesday. I chose the soup and sandwich combo from the Soup Market. They listed the ingredients for their soups, which were chemical and fake food-free, so I’m hoping the sandwich was, too. I craved a burger Saturday night (possibly because meat had been completely unappetizing to me all week?) and explored online menus to find a restaurant that could give me an unprocessed meal. Stack’d was the winner! They locally source a good number of their products, including 100% Tallgrass beef and Miller’s Bakery pretzel rolls, which I take to equal “no additives.” The onion rings and fries were proclaimed to be hand-cut, so I think the only things I might have to worry about were the ketchup and ranch sauce.

As this week’s life lesson, my definition of “unprocessed” changed thanks to a conversation with Randy. So many products that I enjoy, like my Dannon Low-Fat Greek Yogurt, which sound perfectly healthy, have extra ingredients added in. They are added in for my health, not to extend shelf life, but still they are additives. Which is technically more healthy?? In the spirit of the challenge, I will go the rest of the month without them and their ilk. I have cheese and hard-boiled eggs to replace my go-to morning protein. My Ronzoni Healthy Harvest pasta has been traded in for Roundy’s organic pasta (ingredients: durum flour. The end.) After my week with the bunnies, I’m having a tough time coming up with snacks. I guess I’ll start with dried cranberries and almonds, but I’m worried they won’t give me the same satisfaction and keep me from the office candy jar. I have these crackers I want to try. Do you have any other recipe suggestions for me?

Stay tuned to see how this develops in week two as interest begins to wane!

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