Everything in balance 

We’re heading into a Minnesota winter, which always makes me want to hunker down…and eat. Combined with the tendency to overindulge at the holidays, and exercise less (no outdoor pool 😔), it’s easy to put on a few pounds.

Instead of trying to “will” my way through it, I’m resolving to take a new approach to embracing and accepting winter. When it comes to health habits, I am working “adventures” into our lives—trying new foods and restaurants, varying my exercises (I did starfishes this week at the gym!). Gotta do something to keep it interesting!

So 2 cool food discoveries this week:

  • Bulletproof coffee. Read more about this fad, which celebs like Jimmy Fallon and Gwenyth Paltrow swear by. It’s creamy, rich and nutty—with grassfed butter and coconut oil blended into it. I was flying high afterwards and see why people use it for a meal replacement (at 250 calories per serving it’s definitely an indulgence). The healthy fats are good for your brain and I definitely felt full afterwards. (FYI, Here in MN the restaurant Agra Culture sells it if you don’t want to track down the somewhat unusual ingredients).
  • Pomegranates. I have bought just the juice previously, had pom-flavored chocolate, cranberries etc, but I had never bought a fresh one until Fresh Thyme opened up near us this week and I was curious. Cutting it open, I quickly became fascinated with these little jewels and felt like a little monkey digging them out. It was truly fun. Tossed them on salads for some beauty and crunch. The boys were glad this superfood didn’t involve kale.

A reminder that food is fun, especially when you slow down to really experience its sensory aspects and keep an open mind. That, and Everything in balance. I’m justifying the coffee with pomegranates and starfishes. 🌟 


Mushroom barley soup

The barley in this low-cal soup makes it super filling, yet it’s chock full of healthy ingredients that also taste good.

Easy to throw together and great for the weekday work lunchbox!

Mushroom barley soup

  • 3 leeks, washed and chopped (just the white and light green parts)
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary 
  • 8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms 
  • 1 cup quick cook barley
  • 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes 
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped kale 

Saute leeks in olive oil til soft. Add mushrooms and garlic, sautee 3 more minutes. Add rosemary and barley, stir. Add tomatoes and broth, simmer 10 min. Add kale and cook another 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

“Instant” Italian soup

I saw this idea for “instant” on-the-go soups in both Martha Stewart and Cooking Light and admit I was skeptical. Would it have decent flavor? Would vegetables get “cooked” enough?

I have played around with ingredients and can say, yes! It’s not as good as long-simmered soups, but a healthier, fresher option than canned soup. Hub loves it as a work lunch–just add hot water (like found from the coffee maker in an office).

A variety of ingredients work and it sits well too so you can make several days’ worth at a time. Enjoy!

Instant Italian Soup (2 servings)

  • 1 box Parmesan couscous (uncooked)
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2c navy beans
  • 1/3c spinach or kale, chopped 
  • 1 chicken sundried tomato mozzarella sausage, sliced
  • 1/4c matchstick carrots
  • Handful small tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • Salt & pepper

Layer ingredients in 2 wide-mouth jars. Sprinkle the couscous with the parmesan seasoning packet. Top the vegs with the pesto and salt and pepper. When ready to eat, fill jar with hot water, cover and let steep for 3-5 min. 

Corn and tomato saute with basil

Sweet corn, sweet, sweet, corn. Minnesota summer at it’s best. I was so thankful to get all of my favorite ingredients at their peak in the farm share box this week. 

While the corn is an obvious superstar, the things that make this recipe better are onions and garlic–FRESH! If you’ve only had the supermarket versions you’re missing out. Fresh garlic is in a completely different stratosphere, far more delicate flavor since it’s not dried out from all that shipping and storage time on a shelf. Seek it out at your farmer’s market, you’ll be convinced.

Hub threw a steak on the grill and voilà! Weeknight dinner on the patio. 

Corn & tomato saute with basil

  • 8 ears corn, kernals sliced off
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2c basil, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper

Saute onion in butter til soft, about 3 min. Add corn kernals and continue sautéing until bright yellow, about 10 min over medium-low heat. Add garlic, tomato and cook another 3 min. Toss in basil and season with salt and pepper.

Indonesian noodles (farm share recipes)

These few weeks of summer are my favorite time of year here in Minnesota. Sunny, warm, time on the lake and fresh vegs! We are members in a CSA farm share and I love the weekly offerings, it has taught me a lot about what is truly “local” and the challenges of modern, sustainable farming.

When I saw the unique shape of the cabbage, I knew I needed to make something to showcase it. You’d never find something this “odd” on a grocery store shelf!

Indonesian noodles

  • 1lb fettucini 
  • 1lb protein (sliced sirloin is my boys’ preference, but shrimp and tofu work great)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 3 carrots shredded, or use matchsticks precut about 1/2c
  • 1 green cabbage, shredded (or sub in coleslaw mix for cabbage/carrots)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3c soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp veg oil, divided
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped

While noodles cook, saute protein in 2 tbsp oil. Remove to bowl. Heat  remaining oil and add onion, celery and carrots, cook 3-5 min until just browning. Add garlic and cabbage, cook another 3-5 min. (If you use the coleslaw mix, just give the onions and celery a headstart before adding it). Add noodles and protein to veg mixture, toss in soy sauce and top with green onions. 

Watermelon arugula salad

So our CSA share started back up a couple of weeks ago and I have to say that it always delights me. It’s like getting a surprise each week–a box full of vegs, some that normally I wouldn’t seek out. It definitely stretches cooking creativity (just try searching “pac choi” and see what you get…nada!)

Yet, it also reminds me that fresh, local ingredients require NO work. The simpler the better. The boys loved this salad, which proves that if you expose kids early enough to unusual flavors, they’ll be open to trying just about anything, including food they don’t recognize (aka “green” foods are not the universal enemy).

Watermelon arugula salad

  • 1 bunch arugula (about 4c)
  • 3 c chopped seedless watermelon
  • 4 tbsp crumbled feta
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • Drizzle of high quality balsamic vinegar

Layer ingredients. This is so easy I feel guilty calling it a recipe. Enjoy! 

Greek Pasta Salad

  The month of April is a crossover month–hockey and baseball going on, plus of course swimming. I hate that we don’t sit down together every night as a family, but that’s reality.

This recipe is great to make on a Sunday and eat as a snack or side throughout the week. It’s easy to adjust the accessories for preferences (of course the boys would add meat if I asked them!)

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

  • 1 box orzo pasta
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/3c red onion, diced
  • 1c yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3tbsp sundried tomatoes, julienned
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • Handful of spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz feta

Juice the lemon, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisk to mix dressing. Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water. Add remaining ingredients and toss together.