Winning The Lunch Hour with Chili’s at Home

This post is sponsored by Chili’s.  I received compensation to try their new products and for my time.  As always, all opinions and reviews are my own. 

It’s no secret that I love going out to eat at restaurants.  However, this gets pretttty expensive.  Due to my budget the past few years, I have always been looking for ways to save money, yet still eat yummy food.  One of the easiest ways to keep more money in your pocket food wise is to bring your lunch from home, instead of going out for lunch everyday (more money to splurge later)!  With the craziness of my schedule lately and usually only having 20 minutes for lunch, I will usually bring a frozen meal for lunch once or twice a week.  I am very selective in the frozen meals, as they can be high in sodium and calories!

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When Chili’s first contacted me about trying their new Chili’s At Home frozen entree’s, I was skeptical at first of the nutrient content, because restaurants don’t always have a lot of healthy options. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few of their frozen meals to have a lower sodium concentration than most and under 400 ish calories!  Score!!  The Chili’s At Home frozen meals are found in the freezer section of many large grocery stores. I was easily able to find the varieties I wanted at Wal-Mart and you can find all of the varieties, as well as a $1 off coupon here! There are many different varieties in single servings or family size.  I chose the single serving frozen entree, as it’s just me eating them!  The healthiest options were the cheesy chicken pasta florentine and chicken and pasta with green chiles.   I also had to grab the chicken bacon ranch, as it made my mouth water just looking at the box.

chilis 3png Winning The Lunch Hour with Chilis at Home

Late last week,  I didn’t have time to pack a lunch, so I grabbed the cheesy chicken pasta florentine.  It was a great option because it was one of the healthiest choices–lower sodium and calories (under 420 calories) compared to the others!.  The pasta packed a lot of flavor and it did not taste like I was eating a frozen meal!

The BEST thing about these meals is that they are perfectly portioned to be smaller sized than the heaping amounts you would get in the restaurant.  It’s the best of both worlds– the delicious flavor, but not as much temptation!  And because you cook it yourself, you can also add extra vegetables!  Some of my favorite veggies to add are: broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes.

I splurged today and tried the chicken bacon ranch bowl (which didn’t have as low sodium concentration as the other two, but  looked delicious!).  I added extra  steamed broccoli to help fill out the meal, but to add minimal calories.  It made for a great lunch and adding the extra broccoli in myself made for  complete lunch!  I would definitely try both of these meals again!

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Ultimately, with adding in my own veggies, I am glad I have another option for my busy lunch hours!  I am looking forward to trying out more soon!

Now you tell me…what do you usually eat for lunch?  Which Chili’s At Home meal would you try?

 Winning The Lunch Hour with Chilis at Home

My Life as a First-Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)

As promised, I’m here to fill you in #professorlife!  In short: I LOVE BEING A NUTRITION PROFESSOR! GRAD SCHOOL WAS SO WORTH IT!

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But first, here is a hilariously embarassing video I snapped on the 2nd day when I was feeling a little overwhelmed.  Our classes are pretty popular on campus and I was on email overload that day! Little did I know, that this would be the least of my problems for the semester. icon smile My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)

Ok. Real talk.  Honestly, my first month has gone exactly how I thought it would!  I am on campus prepping for classes by 7:30 am most mornings and am there pretty late each night.  At UW-Madison, I co-taught a class using the same textbook as  this class, but I wasn’t in charge of teaching absolutely everything, as I am now!   The biggest thing when I’m creating lessons or activities for each topic, I need to know every little detail, because the students will ask about it!  When I was a TA, I could easily just look at one of the other professors if I didn’t know the answer, but now that I’m fully in charge, I spend a lot of my time making sure I know the in’s and out’s of every digestive process, food claim, etc.,  Getting up in front of a class multiple times a day, everyday hasn’t been a struggle– the practice I got in graduate school presenting and lecturing has really paid off.

The other faculty who have taught my course in that past have been great at helping me create my lectures, but I have really been striving to find more active learning activities for my students in class so they don’t tune out and stop paying attention!  So far, my students are great and have been asking intriguing questions in class, indicating that they are understanding the material and wanting to take it further– A PROFESSOR’S DREAM!  My students also willingly acknowledge me in the cafeteria when I venture over for lunch…so I have been taking this as a good sign. icon smile My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)

I have mentioned this before, but in the past 6 months, one of the most popular questions I was asked was “What do you think will be the hardest change from graduate school to real-world academia?”.  I’m sure most expected, “teaching every day”, “dealing with stubborn students”, or “finding a niche in research”.  In true Emily fashion, my answer was, “The hardest thing for me will be wearing professional looking clothes every day”.  And ya know what? I was right.  Woof. I also took on a challenge with my college roommates who are teachers to never repeat an outfit…i’m already nervous at week 3!  I captured my first week of outfits and was proud of myself for mixing it up (although I wear a lot of black and brown), but variety is becoming more and more of a struggle.

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In grad school, I wore workout clothes to lab every.single.day.  If I needed to “dress up”….yeah that was nice jeans and a blouse.  Luckily, you can get away with those things in grad school. icon smile My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)  The month of August I scoured The Limited and Gap websites finding the best deals to add to my closet collection of one pair of dress pants and luckily scored some great deals!

But casual Fridays?  Now my fave thing.  Jeans and TOMS? You betcha.

135 1024x1024 My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1) One of my major fears is that I would be mistaken for a student all the time.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it has only happened once so far!  Although my students have definitely commented on how “young” I look…all of the other professors have told me to make sure and enjoy it while it lasts, so I definitely will. icon smile My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)

It is no secret that I had a really hard time leaving Madison, mainly because of my friends that I made there.  One of my biggest fears in joining a smaller campus community, was that I would be too young and have very little in common with my coworkers.    God has really been looking out for me, because that is not the case!  There is a really fun group of junior and newer faculty that have been so incredibly welcoming…and they love happy hour!  While it’s always hard to be the newbie, I’ve really been trying to put myself out there.  This may come as a surprise, but for as outgoing as I am, I am terrible at meeting new people (and networking as well) and breaking out of my homebody tendencies.

This second month of employment, I’m really focused on not burning-out in teaching.  I can tell my students are starting to settle into a routine, which is good, but I don’t want them to get complacent…so that means I can’t get complacent either!  Later this week we are debating our second “hot topic in nutrition”– whether or not organic foods are worth the price.  So far when we talk about hot topics in nutrition, they have responded well and have been great at seeing both sides of the story, but acknowledging the facts when they are there!

Phew, this is getting lengthy.  To sum it up– I’m not sold on life in Minnesota yet, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, being a nutrition professor.  The long hours pass quickly and it has never felt like work.  It has reaffirmed that all those blood sweat in tears in graduate school were worth it and that right now, starting my incredible career at a young age is enough to make me a very happy girl. icon smile My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)

Oh, and don’t think everything is sunshine and rainbows….next week’s installment of professor life comes with a healthy dose of #professorprobz AKA things that have totally backfired on me and humorous stories from my first few weeks of teaching. icon smile My Life as a First Year Nutrition Professor (Month 1)

Necessary breaks from blogging and moving forward

Buckle your seat belts, we’re bout to have a lifechat here on the blog!  After three years of blogging, it’s time for a change, and here’s why:

I have been posting less frequently, mainly due to being busy finishing grad school and starting my career.  I consciously made blogging less of a priority, and am completely ok with that.  But, over the summer, I also took a step back from blogging for another key reason.  I’m at a crossroads with the blogging world and my little corner of the interwebs that is More Than Just Dessert.

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me at the crossroads– GET IT?!  Maybe i should refocus on becoming funnier…

When I started the blog, it was a recipe blog, where I shared my new found love of cooking (this was 3 years ago).  It morphed into posting about my 40 lb weight loss and attempting to inspire others trying to find their way into a healthy lifestyle, and then the past year its been a continuation of that healthy living, with some traveling and foodie things, and grad school things.  I love, love where I’ve been this past year and documenting it, but over the past few months I’ve been worried that my blog has lost its focus.

Have y’all ever felt like that?  Ugh. For me, it hinders my blogging mojo and makes me less motivated to blog, because I spend more time thinking about what I should blog, rather than actually carrying out writing a post.  It’s bothered me so much that over the past month or so, I purposely didn’t post a whole lot because I wanted to take a step back, get my life together, and really think about refocusing my blog and goals I have for More Than Just Dessert.  I’m a completely different person than I was when this blog started.  I have gained so much knowledge while getting my Ph.D. and I want to put that to use here!  I also have been a fly on the wall reading many, many blogs– making lists of what I prefer and think is interesting to try and get a sense of what I want to be doing!

startsomewhere Necessary breaks from blogging and moving forward

So I’ve been thinking, and writing down (pen & paper style, as my short term memory stinks) my strengths that I think could contribute to a strong blog.  More importantly, I’ve been writing down what sparks the fire within me and things I’m passionate about in my life that I want to share with the world.  I may be a professor of nutrition, but I am also a traveler, a baker, a newbie triathlete, etc.  I still love being busy and fighting the good fight about staying healthy in a busy life– and I still have friends asking for my advice on that topic, so ultimately, my mantra remains the same – If I can do it, you can too.
Here is my short list of goals and passions for now.  I’m still working on how to achieve some of them. icon smile Necessary breaks from blogging and moving forward

Blogging With A Purpose

One of the goals I want to achieve with More Than Just Dessert, is that it is a blog with a purpose.  Blogging is a hobby for me, not a job.  I’m not in it for the money, but I won’t lie, it is nice when it does come my way for sponsored posts and product reviews for things I believe in.  Key word there: things I believe in!!!!!   I don’t do a lot of sponsored posts, because I am extremely selective about what I want to support (and also the time commitment aspect).   It confuses me to the MAX when I read blogs that are all about one certain topic in nutrition or health, and then they are supporting products that completely contradict that!  I want to continue upholding this standard of supporting only what I believe in  for myself, but I understand this will require me to put in more work to get better at networking for opportunities to promote products I truly support.

Blogging Within My Time Frame

In graduate school, it was easy for me to take an hour during the day while my samples were running to blog about what was going on.  In my current job, I don’t have that luxury, as I am constantly busy while I am at work….and that is the way it should be!  I want to be able to have a stable blog– stable blog series, stable posting, stable topics.  But on the other hand I really need to sitdown and honestly split up my time to not take on more than I can handle.  Being a professor is my #1 priority now and I want to give 100% to that.  I also want to give 100% to the blog and to do so, that might mean scaling back for quality not quantity.

Blogging About What I Love

After examining what my life has revolved around the past month, I’ve come up with a short list of topics that I really want to talk about and that EXCITE me to share.

1. Nutrition Knowledge– I did NOT put myself through PhD hell for four years to come up and never use what I learned.  I want to promote GOOD nutrition and science.  I want my readers to understand what is a nutrition fad and what is a nutrition fact!  The internet is full of misleading nutrition information and I want to help promote good, solid, facts.

2. Traveling– My philosophy has morphed into this: travel everywhere while you can.  seeing the world and learning how other people live, eat, work is not only rewarding, it is extremely educational.  I don’t want to look back one day and say, “wow, I wish i would have taken more time to do the things I wanted to while I was young and had no one depending on me”.  For me, that’s travel.

3. Recipes in small batches.  Being a single lady, I find it a challenge to find healthy recipes in small doses.  I love me a good casserole, but I don’t want to be eating it for an entire week.  I think this is an awesome challenge that I look forward to tackling this fall.

4. Fitness and Sports– I love it all.

5.  My first year as a young professional.  I know I’m a little late to the “real world”, thanks to four years of grad school (which I did receive a small salary for, so I was working for my money!), but I have learned so much about being a professional and role model in the past year…things I wish I would have known early!  I want to inspire women to not only try to reach for the stars in their careers, but also how to be respected and well rounded in their abilities.

 

So that’s it for now.  Next goal is to sit down and come up with a timeline that I can handle.  But for now, I’m off to create a lecture and activity for my students this week on Foodborne Illnesses!
What about all of you?  If you could start a blog, what would you blog about it? For Bloggers– what do you love most about your blog?

Did You Know Friday? Linkup – Types of Fiber

Oh hi, I’m still here!  Every time I’ve sat down to blog for the past two weeks, I went to bed instead.  Not that blogging isn’t important, but I literally cannot keep up with my life right now! “Professoring” is going awesome, but being a first-year professor is very, very time consuming! I am so glad it is the first Friday of the month to pull me out of my funk and to link up for some fab nutrition talk!  As always, Emily from Sinful Nutrition and Amanda from Semi Health Nut join me in hosting  but we would LOVE you to linkup with us down below!

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Side note– let me tell you, teaching nutrition to college kids everyday has definitely given me some great ideas for Did You Know Friday topics, so I’m hoping to keep this up and going again!

Today we’re talking about fiber.  Fiber is found in carbohydrates and comes from plants.  I know you’ve all heard that getting enough fiber from grains is important, but did you know that there is more than one type of fiber? Yep, there’s TWO types of fiber and they are really easy to remember: soluble and insoluble.  Both play different roles and are just as important!

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber slows the semi-digested food in your stomach when emptying into your small intestine, which in turn slows the entire digestion process.    This means that the nutrients from your food (protein, fat, carbs/sugar) take longer to be absorbed into the blood stream.  Soluble fiber consumption is especially helpful for diabetics, because it slows their blood sugar spike after meals, so insulin doesn’t have to work as hard.

Soluble fiber has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad cholesterol” linked with atherosclerosis (artery blockage) and heart disease.

The most popular form of soluble fiber is beta-glucan.  Beta-glucan is primarily found in oats and barley products– so think oatmeal, oat bran, or any type of grain products that contain these!

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Citrus fruits, beans, and lentils are also a great source of soluble fiber.

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Insoluble Fiber

Hence the name, this type of fiber cannot be dissolved.  Insoluble fiber’s main job is to add bulk to your fecal matter (AKA your poop!) during digestion.   Sounds gross, but this is extremely important for keeping your bowel movements frequent and regular.  Look at it like this– as your food is digested and and moves through your colon, there could still be carcinogens or harmful bacteria that can come in contact with the lining of the intestines and spawn disease. So we want our bowels to be regular and somewhat speedy to reduce contact time and the risk of those diseases.

Food sources of insoluble fiber are flaxseed and wheat bran.  Whole grain breads and grains are great examples of this type of fiber.  Brown rice and whole grain couscous are two other great options.

How do I get more fiber in my diet?

I think there is a lot of misconception about fiber.  Many people tell me they don’t like the “taste”, which is puzzling to me because most grain products, that contain fiber, can be easily combined with others!  Some of my favorites–

  • Mixing in whole grain cereal with greek yogurt (save yourselves the sugar and calories and just get the plain greek yogurt).
  • Mixing in fruit with plain greek yogurt
  • Replacing white flour with wheat flour or oat flour when baking.
  • Eat more stir fry– and replace white rice with brown rice.
  • Mixing in fruit with oatmeal– I like to mix in bananas, to give my oatmeal more flavor!

Have other ideas?  Let me know! And remember to add your link if you have been talking nutrition lately!

 


Sources used:

The Harvard School of Public Health

D. El Khoury, C. Cuda, B. L. Luhovyy, G. H. Anderson. Beta Glucan: Health Benefits in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome.  J Nutr Metab. 2012; 2012: 851362. Published online 2011 December 11. doi: 10.1155/2012/851362

My First Triathlon (Lakes County Triathlon)!

Yesterday I competed in the Lakes County Triathlon up in Baxter, MN.  I’ve wanted to get into triathlons for awhile now and with a busy summer, this was the last one I could get in before the racing season was over!  Luckily, my friend Katie was running it also.  She had so many good tips for also just getting started in triathlons this year and it was so fun to run it with her! There were about 150ish people running it– small enough to not be overwhelming for a newbie, which i appreciated.  The course also went by Emily Rd., so I KNEW it was a good one to start with. icon smile My First Triathlon (Lakes County Triathlon)!

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Preparation

I hate to say this, but between moving and starting a new job, there was very little preparation.  I focused on getting the correct gear and swimming.  I bought a wet suit and swam in the lake at my parents, as well as a lake in the area.  I’ve always been a pretty strong swimmer, so it was mainly getting used to the wetsuit.

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Pre Race

Once we got to the Whipple Lake area about an hour and a half before race time, we set-up our transition area.  This meant putting my bike back together (had to fit it in my car) annnd I ended up putting the tire on backwards.  WHOOPS.   We biked the run course for a warm-up and I could tell something was wrong, so I took it to the bike mechanic on site and he helped me.  Word to the wise– if you think something is wrong, ask someone!

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One thing they don’t tell you– when you wear a tracker in the race, it is super important to safety pin it so you don’t lose it in the water!  Thanks to Katie for that tip!

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The race started and we were off!!

Swim – 1/4 mile

Contrary to many triathletes, the swim is my favorite part!   The only thing I was worried about was swimming so close to so many people.  I had few problems with that though, I just made sure to look straight ahead every few strokes.   Once we made the turn and I could see the shore, I was able to cruise on in.   Overall, the swim was my best event.  After swimming with friends to prepare, it made me thankful that I feel comfortable in deep water!

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Bike -14 miles

I’ll be short and to the point– I hated the bike.  I just need to get out on the bike more to become more comfortable and build up muscle!  Here was my thought process during the bike portion of the race:

Mile 0-4:  I hate this and there is no way I can finish this (There were a lot of hills at this point).  I remember Katie passing me and asking how I was doing and the response was NOT positive!

Mile 4-6:  Still not a fan.  However, my mind started to wonder and I forced positive thoughts.  I actually started thinking about a cool non-profit I would like to start that provides scholarships or financial help for race fees for those who are interested.  Clearly, these are not complete thoughts yet! haha

Mile 6-10:  At Mile 8, I was actually with a couple of girls and I shouted we’re over halfway done!  We all cheered and it was my first boost of confidence on the bike.  I also practiced my lecture for class  (FIRST ONE!!!) in my head.

Mile 10-14: These were much easier miles…very flat!  I don’t know why, but for some reason I started thinking about my favorite race I’ve ever run.  It was in high school, when I ran cross country.  I wasn’t that good at it, but it was fun.  Every year we ran a race super far away in northeast Iowa.  My junior year, my grandparents were able to come because it was near them.  I remember how excited I was, because they lived further away from us it was hard for them to travel.  They weren’t able to come very far on the course, but I have this hilarious vivid memory of them being at the finish line– my grandpa barking orders for me to get going faster (!!!!) and my grandma cheering sweetly.   After the race, there was a giant porch swing by the golf house clubhouse (that’s where the race was) that we sat at and talked until the end of the meet.  I haven’t thought about this race for a long, long time, but it made me smile during those last few miles.

In related bike news, after riding on the race, I think my bike may be a little too small for me, but mainly I don’t think my biking muscles are toned!  I had gone on a few longer bike rides over the past few weeks, but over the next year this is definitely where I need to devote my time training!

Run – 5K

The hardest part of the run was the first mile.  My legs felt like jelly after the bike and it was hard to get a longer stride.  I pushed myself to try and stride out towards the end of the first mile and the rest was great.  It was a slow, slow jog, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

Afterwards, I chugged a bottle of water and snapchatted my fam and friends to assure them I was still alive!

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Post Race

Katie and I went to Zorbaz, which I had heard so much about.  We splurged on some well-deserved dranks…

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And had some pizza.  It was delicious! All in all, I would definitely say I’m hooked on running triathlons!  I loved switching from event to event and cannot wait to keep at it next year!

In completely unrelated news, today is my first day of classes…AS A PROFESSOR!  I still cannot believe this is my life. :) 

Happy Monday, Lovers!

Estes Park Farmers Market + Small Town Cinnamon Rolls

Another day, another Colorado recap that’s comin’ at ya a month late!

In real time, today was my FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF WORK. It consisted of a four hour department meeting and then more lecture prepping.  Thrilling? Nah…but, I’m still convinced this is my dream job.

Back to mountain land. When we were out in Colorado, we took a couple days to visit our family friends who live in Estes Park, CO.  A couple hours outside Denver.  Estes Park is an ADORABLE mountain town and the gateway to many trails and roads with beautiful views throughout the Rocky Mountains.

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Luckily, we were there on a weekend so we were able to experience the Estes Park Farmers Market.  For a small town, it had many vendors and lots of unique things to buy!

We first started off with this delicious cinnamon twist for breakfast…

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And picked up some veggies for dinner.  It was all you could fit into a huge bag for $10!

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There were beautiful Colorado peaches (no surprise there)

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But my favorite stop was this gourmet dip vendor!  Y’all know dips are my go-to appetizer and I cannot get enough of them!  We bought like, eight, obviously.

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After the Farmer’s Market, we decided to poke around the shops in downtown.  My favorite was Inkwell and Brew, a coffee shop/paper and book store.

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They had so many fun gifts and cards! I found this great quote on a card and bought it for my office.

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We spent the afternoon up in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe the scenery!

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The next morning, we made a 20 minute drive to Glen Haven for their famous 3-dollar cinnamon rolls!

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The owner was a total grump, but this cute general store in the middle of nowhere makes a darn good cinnamon roll.

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We devoured ours in an instant!  Estes Park was definitely a highlight of the trip and was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Now, if they could just ship those cinnamon rolls…

 

4 “Can’t Miss” Eats in Denver

Let’s backtrack to July, when this lil’ blog became a travel blog while I recapped my Europe trip. What didn’t make the blog back in July that was a mere 10 hours after returning from Europe, I was on another plane with my parents back to Denver, CO to visit my sister who was interning out there!

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We had a lot of mountain time, family time, and FOOD time! Denver is seriously one of my favorite cities to eat in because there are so many amazing restaurants.  We rarely ever repeat because we are always wanting to try something new.  Here are a few of our favorite eats from our trip last month!

Voodoo Doughnuts

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While Voodoo started in Portland, I was SUPER pumped to see they had expanded to Denver!  They have all kinds of wacky doughnuts with hilariously innappropriate names.  My favorite is the “Dirty Ol’ Bastard” which is a doughnut with chocolate, peanut butter, and oreo.  They also have fruit loop topped doughnuts, grape koolaid doughnuts, and an Arnold Palmer flavored one!

Brava Wood-Fired Pizza

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I loved this place for so many reasons.  First of all, it’s located OUTSIDE– as in, the oven, the bar, and all of the seating it on this cute outdoor patio downtown on the 16th St. Mall.  The pizza is delicious and HUGE, a great deal for the price!

Smores Shaketini from 5280 Burger Bar

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I’ll just go ahead and call this the best drink I’ve ever had.  A martini + ice cream… + S’MORES?! Come onnnn!  All three of my favorite things in one drink just seemed to good to be true, but this was oh so amazing.  The burgers at this place were nothing to write home about, but this shaketini is legendary in my book.

Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s

Although we didn’t eat any food here, Hamburger Mary’s is a very unique restaurant in the heart of Denver.  Every Tuesday they have bingo hosted by Drag Queens.  I joined my sister and her friends and it was absolutely a riot.

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As a bonus, my sister won a round!

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Disclaimer: If you are offended easily, don’t go.  I thought it was completely hilarious and fun, but I know some people might not appreciate the humor.

 

…..And now I’m extremely hungry and missing Colorado like crazy.  Happy Thursday!

Now you tell me…what is the best drink you’ve ever had? Favorite spot to eat in Denver, CO?

Disclaimer: We paid for all of these meals on our own and received no compensation.  As always, all opinions are my own!

 

One month in a blog post

I’ve tried to blog for the past week, but every time I’ve sat down to do it, I haven’t really known what to say.   I have a million Colorado pictures from our family vacay from July I want to share, and to say the past month with finishing my PhD and moving to start a new chapter in my life has been a whirlwind is an understatement.   So, we will start here at a glimpse of what I have been up to uprooting myself over the last month!

The Last Few Days in Madtown

Here’s what moving week looked like…

My room was cleaner than it had EVER BEEN.  Like, you could see the floor.

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There were many, many goodbyes that I can’t recap them all due to the fact that I’ll ruin my keyboard from crying.  For the record, the tears shed that week were much less than I anticipated though. icon smile One month in a blog post

One last roomie dinner at our favorite spot, DLUX.  Em and I have celebrated almost every big life event here over the past 2 years, so it obviously made sense to end our roomie days there as well.

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I turned in my dissertation to the graduate school, meaning that I was OFFICIALLY Dr. Emily and DONE with graduate school.

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I played my last frisbee game with my incredible friends, followed by our traditional karaoke at the Great Dane afterwards.  They serenaded me with the “So Long, Farewell” song from Sound of Music.   Great choice, as I was laughing so hard I forgot to cry.

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I ate Babcock Dairy Store on campus every day the last week I was in lab….

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And soaked up one last pitcher at the terrace….

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And my favorite person in my lab awarded me with a Dundie. icon smile One month in a blog post

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The Actual Move

Part of getting a big girl professor job meant getting a moving expenses stipend WEEEEEE!  For the first time in my life, I had professional help moving and even though my stipend didn’t cover it all, it was worth EVERY PENNY.  I used Two Men and a Truck and had a great experience.

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It’s been hard to really get into the swing of things here in Minnesota, as wedding season has been in full blast the past few weekends!  No complaints here though, as there have been some great memories made…

Another college roomie tied the knot…

1228 1024x1024 One month in a blog post One of my neighbors growing up also got married and everyone was back!  I don’t think we’ve gotten a pic all together since I was probably 8.

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Minnesota Life

I am adjusting!

First things first….I have a WALK-IN CLOSET, FINALLY!  It is amazing but also eye opening, as there are about 3x as many clothes in this picture and they don’t all fit.  #shopaholic

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I kicked off minnesota life down at Target Field in style with Paul McCartney!  It was an incredible concert.

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It was a very special concert, as the tickets were my dad’s Father’s Day gift!  Our family loves Paul, so it was nice to actually attend a concert where we all liked the artist singing! haha  Also very special as my dad had a fabulous time. icon smile One month in a blog post

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And that’s it for now!

Now you tell me…where is the longest or biggest move you’ve ever made?

Did You Know? Friday Linkup — Surprising sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup

PHEW! Blogging on a Friday by the skin of my teeth! Still in the midst of finishing things up and getting moved this week and weekend, so internet and time has been limited!  However, the fact that it is August AND the first friday of the month (HOW CAN THIS BE?!) means that we must talk nutrition today!  Lucky for you all, I’ve still been reading up and have some great ideas for some posts in the future!

didyouknownutritionlinkupbutton Did You Know? Friday Linkup    Surprising sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup

One thing that seems to be a hot topic to everyone these days, is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  One day, scientists tell us that it causes obesity.  The next day, they say it doesn’t.  It is one of the most highly debatable topics in nutrition.  Why can’t we come to a conclusive answer?  In my opinion, HFCS hasn’t been around forever and scientists need time (like YEARS) to study people’s diets and habits to figure out if there’s a link.  Add in the caveat of human variability and the fact that obesity can stem from MANY different factors…you start to get my point…it is hard to pinpoint HFCS as the culprit.

Anyway, I’m not here to tell you if it’s terrible or not today, that’s another post for another day.  I certainly DO have an opinion on it (backed up by many, many lit searches and thoughtful grad school class discussions), but today I thought I would share with you a list of surprising foods that contain HFCS.  Over my last few years in grad school, I always took notes about certain foods that surprised me, so here we go.

Surprising Food Sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup:

1. Yogurt — I checked labels on my dannon AND yoplait yogurt throughout the past year and it was listed it on there!

2.  Ketchup.  Does this surprise anyone else?

3. Bread — And WHEAT bread even!  That dark caramel color of many “wheat” bread is usually some sugar type of coloring, not from using whole grains.  Pepperidge Farm even had HFCS as high as the 4th ingredient on a few of their breads.

4. Salad Dressing– I say this not because it’s necessarily surprising, but that I am so disappointed by food companies in salad dressing.  When I go to pick one out, I swear there are usually only a handful out of the HUNDREDS of salad dressings in the aisle that do not have HFCS or sugar as the first two ingredients!

5. Nutri Grain Cereal Bars-  I used to LOVE the apple cinnamon ones and practically lived on those in high school and college.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that one of our professors went on a rant in glass about how manufactured granola bars basically had no nutritional value that I actually started paying attention to this.

6. Barbeque Sauce. Similar to ketchup…  Surprised?

And that’s it for now!  Do you guys consciously look for HFCS?  What are some surprising foods with HFCS that you’ve seen?

Also, exciting news, for those of you who want MORE nutrition nerdiness in your life, we have a pinterest board!  Check it out!


10 Things I Love About Madison, WI

Sooo, it’s moving week.

Well, actually last week was moving week, but I’m back in Madtown finishing things up in lab and this is moving week for reals.  It is no secret that while I am very excited for my new life and job in Minnesoooota, I am really, really, REALLY going to miss Madison.  There have been tears (AKA me crying in Target…yep, Target).  And I’m sure just about everyone is sick of me whining about how much I’m going to miss this place…I promise, once I’m out of here I’ll be fine!  I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about why Madison means so much to me, and there is just so much to it.  So, instead of some sad “I’m gonna miss these things post”, I thought I would tell you some things about Madison that I love the most!  Here we go!

Ultimate Frisbee- MUFA (Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association) has got to be the largest organization in Madison.  It is a great sport for staying active and it is hands down the BEST way to meet other young people.  Honestly, it’s how I met my best friends here.  If you haven’t played before, totally fine!  Everyone (except  about 2 people out of about 800 that I’ve probably played against) is super nice and there are many different leagues.  Ultimately (zing!), this organization and the people who play the sport made a huge difference in my life in so many ways.

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The Terrace - Ha, man, I think THIS is what I’ll miss the most! I don’t know how any college campus can beat the terrace at UW- Madison in the summer– lake, beer, tons of space, and music.  Go, just go.

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City Bar Trivia - I usually don’t frequent City Bar on weekends, in fear of running into my students (undergrad bar), but on Monday nights this is the BEST trivia in Madison.  The owner writes his own and it is always keeping us guessing!

You can eat local, fresh veggies almost all year round. Besides the amazing farmers market downtown, there are dozens throughout the city that happen during the week.  There are also many CSA programs that make it really, really easy to eat healthier!

Winning Sports Teams– After living here, I can’t imagine not cheering on the Badgers and Packers every weekend.  Camp Randall is a very, very cool college football atmosphere and this town in general is crazy about ANY badger sports.  I’ve also never lived in a state where pro football is a way of life, and I’ll gladly rep a cheesehead anyday after becoming friends with so many die hard fans.

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Everyone is active.    I swear, everyone I know here is training for something.  Add in the lakes, sports and social clubs, ultimate frisbee, and miles of biking/walking trails– there is TRULY a way for everyone to be active. My favorite view of the city on one of the paths!

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People love winter. Kind of. Ok, maybe after last winter some people will NOT agree with me.  But expanding on the “everyone being active” thing, people here LOVE winter sports.  Many coworkers of mine are usually itching for that first snowfall to snowshoe or cross country ski.  The morale during winter here is more tolerable than when I lived in Iowa, that’s for sure.  Unless it was the winter that never ended, like last year.

The restaurant scene is unbeatable.   Sure, I became an “eat local” restaurant snob, but how CAN YOU NOT when your weekend dining options are The Old Fashioned, Coopers Tavern, and Merchant?!  This place made me a foodie by providing so many amazing places to experience food.  Why do I not have any money saved after grad school? Because I was too busy eating at so many cool places in this town– I still have so many to check out on my list! Iphone 7 5 14 467 e1406693703115 1024x1024 10 Things I Love About Madison, WI

The beer is unbeatable.   Let’s be honest, the only time I drank beer before I lived in Madison was probably during a game of flippy cup in college, and I hated it.  Now, I love a good beer!  Any town that can change my mind on beer in just a few short years must have something good going on.  #spottedcowforlife

You can bike anywhere.  Really, you can, trust me.

Concert on the Square.  Every Wednesday night, the Madison Orchestra puts on a free concert around capitol square.  You can bring your own blankets, food, alcohol, you name it!  The concerts are always themed– my favorite was ABBA!

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So that’s 11 things. icon smile 10 Things I Love About Madison, WI You get the point– I love this place and I feel so lucky I got to live here for four years!

Tell me…what’s your favorite city you’ve ever lived in?