Mom Things, Weeknight Dinners

2 Week Summer Slimdown Challenge

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know how much I love Cara Clark Nutrition’s healthy eating plans. Occasionally, I get into a cooking / healthy eating rut. Lazy, I don’t want to plan my own menu or search for new recipes. I also need a gentle reminder to keep my body moving every single day.

scenic view of beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Cara Clark’s plan fits my lifestyle so well. There are no games, counting, or crazy diets to follow. This is all real food – stuff you normally get at your local grocery store with some guided work outs and easy to make healthy snacks. The part that I love the most is the team of people I get to work with to help me stay on track with eating well and staying active ala Facebook groups and Instagram.

This summer, I’m full time with my two kids (and their friends, of course!) and they won’t necessarily keep me thinking about quinoa for dinner and smoothies for breakfast, this is why I joined the Summer Slimdown with Cara.

vegetarian juice on table
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

For me, this plan is 100% worth it. I see results each time, and every time I do a challenge with her (this is my 3rd one), I take away something new + gain a ton of new recipes. Summer Slimdown 2018 includes :

  1. meals-at-a-glance menu
  2. daily menu plans
  3. extra smoothie recipes
  4. weekly recipes
  5. complete pre-printed grocery lists.
  6. workout options (no gym needed)
  7. step-by-step guidance

It takes effort though, MEAL PREP! If you don’t meal prep, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and “behind” in your healthy life stlye. No pressure 🙂

I can already tell you my favorite items coming up that I WILL be blogging about since I’ll need to make some nut free substitutions.

bowl of vegetable salad and fruits
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com
  • Cherry Rhubarb overnight oats
  • Summer Lovin Crunch Salad with jicama
  • Blackbean Tahini Dip with Sunbutter

I’m so pumped about this challenge!!! The recipes are amazing, she also includes healthy adult beverage options, and antioxidant flavored fruit water recipes (perfect for a day outside with friends + kiddos).

If you think this sounds cool – and want to join me, you still have time! The two-week summer slimdown starts on June 11. That’s next Monday. So click on over to her website and join with me. Sometimes her instagram has discount codes so check that first, caraclarknutrition.

Have a great day, and enjoy my peonies 🙂

20180605_171520

Mom Things, Travel

Girlfriends Guide to a Weekend in Door County

This past weekend was glorious. It’s the kind that I dream about, work really hard toward and cross my fingers it works out. And it did. Two of my very good friends and I planned a weekend away to Door County and it was the most delightful weekend I’ve had in a really long time.

As a Mom of a kiddo with food allergies, the feeling of being ON is enhanced a bit. And it’s important to realize this, and take a break from time to time. It’s hard. I know. But with a little planning and some good luck, you’ll be on your way to some much needed R+R as well. Here’s what we did, maybe you can try some of these spots out too.

Friday, June 1

Here we are! We drove from Madison, WI, to Door County, WI, after work on Friday in my super stylish Honda Odyssey and made in record time, before sunset. After checking into our hotel The Bridgeport we walked over the bridge to grab some late dinner at Root Bistro + Wine Bar. 

20180601_202014

Root was cool – it was a long bar in the front with a few tables in the  back. They have live jazz on Fridays, so it had a great atmosphere while we were there.  We sampled a bunch of appetizers for our dinner and it worked out well. Their scallops were great! Their GEWÜRZTRAMINER was also fantastic if you like that type of wine.

20180601_204538

After dinner, we wandered over to the candy store to get some homemade, fresh fudge for dessert. This place was super charming. Old school candy stores are my favorite. The smell. The colors. The candy from my youth. How can you not love a place like this?! Not only did we buy a copious amount of candy, we found these finger puppets that made us laugh out loud. I HAD to get the unicorn for my Chloe, of course.

20180602_220615

Saturday, June 2

We woke up a little early to head over to our spa appointments at Saguaro Day Spa in Sturgeon Bay. I’ve been to this spa many times before and they do a wonderful job. The three of us had a relaxation massage and we ALL LOVED IT.

After the spa, we cleaned up and decided to just drive through a bunch of the little towns that make up Door County.

1.Grandma Tommy’s + Door 44 Wine Tasting20180602_120526

The wines were quite tasty for being 100% Wisconsin grown grapes and there were a few that I would have purchased if we already did not have wine club wine coming.

2. Door County Distillery

The flight we sampled was delish – but I really loved their 2nd floor sun deck and catching up with my friends the most. Very cool atmosphere. Next time I think I might take the tour. It reminded me of Sonoma County in California.

3. Kyle + Faye’s Peninsula Pub – Lunch

We drove north some more and stopped in Bailey’s harbor for lunch. The fried cheese curds were amazing. They actually still squeaked, even though they were fried. That was amazing. I ate a 1/3# burger and it did not disappoint. Actually, we needed these burgers after the fun morning we had at the wineries.

4.  Fish Creek – Shopping and Coffee

If you stop in Fish Creek, find a place to park and just walk. The entire town is about 6 blocks long, all along the water. Its very beautiful and there is a lot to see and do here. There is access to a public beach if you feel like putting your toes in the sand 🙂 Some of the boutique shopping is really great, so bring your extra big wallet.

5.  Sister Bay 

20180602_16231720180602_16241820180602_162506

If you only have time to stop at one Door County town, it should be Sister Bay. This is probably my favorite place to stop. It’s the CUTEST town I have ever seen, nestled in the bay with its adorable, trendy shops, new restaurants, and of course Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. Al Johnson’s is classic. There are goats on the roof + there is a goat cam in case they are hiding! They serve traditional Swedish food and breakfast all day long. Half the building is a store full of authentic Scandinavian goods. Hard to find stuff.

We also raced some fun go-carts after our day of Door County stops. This was non-stop laughter.

We didn’t make it all the way to Washington Island, but we made it pretty far North in Door County. We decided to head back to our hotel to watch the sunset in the Bay since it was a clear day.

Our backpack picnic set came in handy. We brought some brie, crackers and fig spread along with our bottle of Kim to the front walking trail at our hotel. Sturgeon Bay is lovely since you get these AMAZING sunsets. Although, we were in the Bay at this place, and I usually stay at Westwood Shores where you’re not as far nestled in the bay, the sunsets were a little tough from where we were situated. It was still pretty and very fun to be outside picnic-ing with these lovelies.

20180602_190025

We wrapped up our night with Sonny’s Pizza located next to our hotel. It was tasty and perfect with our girls night movie, Mean Girls.

Sunday, June 3

We got up early Sunday and hung out a bit before driving back. We had a great time in Door County and found it very relaxing. There is something for everyone in Door County.

We found a lot of playgrounds and family fun parks along the main highway that I’d love to take the kids back to another time. Our hotel was very family friendly.  Our room was a two bedroom with a full kitchen, dining and living room. It was great to have the space and just veg out. Bridgeport also has three bedroom condos available for rent. The pool was spacious and there was also a splash pad indoors. The outside pool was spacious and located right on the water. Very pretty. I highly recommend Door County for your next long weekend get-away!

Mom Things, Travel

The New Ikea – Oak Creek, WI

If you’re looking for an impressive Ikea experience, the new Ikea in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, is well worth your drive. Not only was this store extremely well organized (traffic + parking wise), the customer service and assistance in almost every aisle was very much appreciated. We didn’t know the layout of this new store, so having help available was key to making our shopping trip effective and timely (we live 2 hours away). Somehow, my list grew while I was shopping and I needed help getting a few heavy items off the shelves + into my car.  The employees at this specific store were over the top amazing when it came to helping me with exactly I was looking for. The store has a special place in my heart since it’s located in my hometown!

Willow Heights subdivision is where I grew up, it’s located off of Puetz and 13th street in Oak Creek. It is conveniently located just 15 minutes from downtown Milwaukee.  The new Ikea is now within biking distance from my childhood home. How cool is that?! Perfect for Ikea lovers!

My love for Ikea really began when I was in High School and preparing for college.  Having the coolest dorm was our goal, so my best friend and I shopped until we dropped at Ikea in Schaumburg, Illinois (the closest Ikea to us at the time).  Keep in mind, this is before high speed internet, smart phones, shopping apps, and the ability to view store inventory / order online quickly.  So shopping in person was basically the ONLY way to shop in 2001. This took a lot of TIME.  My best friend and I spent an entire day shopping and all of $50 each to get our dorm set up. We felt so cool. Such a good deal on cool things to make our dorm perfect.

This week, as I prepare for the annual Rhapsody in Bloom fundraiser at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Ikea seemed to be the perfect place to shop for the silent auction baskets that I’m working on.  And it was. I took my little guy, Carter (4), with me to scope out the new Ikea Oak Creek store, to visit my old neighborhood and build out some gorgeous baskets for a good cause.

Check out my first silent auction item, Two for Tea. It features:

You can bid on this item online from Olbrich’s website + online bidding system, Gesture.

20180520_1744576693536243013606973.jpg

20180520_1744373017277292600271311.jpg

20180520_1745542817707981348407620.jpg

20180520_174416939700011955442373.jpg

My needs from Ikea have changed over the last 20 years. From dorm room decor to fundraising swag and I’m happy that Ikea has always been my number one low-cost option since it’s classic and cool.

Stay tuned – this week I’m working on building out silent auction baskets and I’ll be posting some more photos here on nutfreemomblog.

For the nut-free component of my Ikea visit, PLEASE try the Swedish Meatballs! You can purchase them in the store at the restaurant or in the freezer section at the check-out. They are nut free and have a great allergy statement. The sauce is sold separately and is also nut free. I’ll make a separate post when I prepare them. Because you KNOW I bought some to bring home 🙂

 

 

 

 

How to be Nutfree, Mom Things, Snacking, Travel

Starbucks and Nut Allergies

pexels-photo-303324.jpeg

Starbucks is a common stop for us.  Grownups love it, kids love it and what is a better way to deal with YET MORE SNOW IN WISCONSIN than a nice warm cup of coffee or tea?! Literally, I have no words for April snow. I mean, COME ON!

When we were first diagnosed with nut allergies, we avoided Starbucks completely. However, that’s no way to live life {coffee deprived, are you KIDDING me?! Also known as Mean Mommy!}.

Once we figured out how to navigate the Starbucks menu a bit, we learned that our favorite treat was no longer completely off limits.

If you follow me in Instagram @nutfreemomblog, you’ve seen my posts about “how to Starbucks” – well today, I thought it deserved a blog post of its own since we just drove through.

pexels-photo.jpg

How to Starbucks {with a nut allergy}

  1. Choose a Starbucks that you can walk into
  2. Make sure you have your epi pen / benadryl JUST IN CASE {these should be with you already anyway}
  3. Have a conversation with the barista at non-peak hours regarding food allergies.
  4. Order a drink that is recommended safe by the barista.
  5. If you have almond allergies, this might be a little riskier for you, but soy milk is always an option. Cross contact can’t be 100% avoided, so just make sure you’re talking with the barista.
  6. For many peanut and tree nut allergy sufferers, almonds can be safe to eat. So anything made with or around almond milk, will not affect your nut allergies, which is the case for us. THANKFULLY!
  7. Many Starbucks locations have dedicated steam arms / handles for specific milks. This is the case for SOY MILK {most of the time} + again, talk with your barista.
  8. Our “go – to” safe drink for my daughter is the  kids size steamed vanilla soy milk.
  9. If you tell them it’s for a child, they will not steam the milk as hot as for an adult, the portion is also a lot smaller.
  10. Using the soy milk handle ensures that we probably wont come in contact with any nut based milk or coffee (hazelnut coffee does have trace amounts of actual hazelnuts, but the affect on allergies varies, obviously).
  11. Note that coconut is not a tree nut, but restaurants many times consider them to be.
  12. Our back up drink is always a milk box or juice box.
  13. Most of the food at Starbucks is NOT safe, especially the bakery items, and hot food items. However, if you are in a pinch and need a snack, they do offer some to-go items in the cafe, just check the labels as these snacks rotate frequently and we dont have  a go-to snack item there currently.
  14. If you have the SLIGHTEST doubt that your Starbucks just might not be fully understanding your food allergy or requests, DO NOT RISK IT and go with the 100% safe option, bottled water, milk box or juice. It’s not worth it.
  15. The bottled water and banana are also 100% safe and we’ve never {knock on wood} had an issue with the drinks or service at Starbucks after we tell them we need a nut-free drink 🙂

 

What’s your favorite drink at Starbucks? I have a few…

  1. Tall, non-fat chai tea latte
  2. Tall, skinny mocha latte
  3. Tall, cafe latte
  4. Tall, non-fat dirty chai tea latte (two shots of espresso)
  5. Cafe americano
  6. Passion fruit ice tea, light ice

 

Make sure you sign up for Starbucks rewards app on your phone to snag some free drinks! It’s worth it + kind of fun, too!

Is this the Mondayest Monday or what?! Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

Mom Things, Travel, Weeknight Dinners

Menu Planner

20180413_122807.jpg

If you’re trying to minimize your trips to the grocery store, perhaps a menu planning list is for you.

Most families do not have a chalkboard refrigerator like we do. And even if you do, you’re not always around the fridge to write down what you’re thinking about for dinner / snacks.

Most of the time, families are on the go.

I’ve been asked several times by friends if there is a paper method for planning meals that I prefer. Actually, Cara Clark Nutrition has a wonderful meal planner included in her food challenges if you want one from a real nutritionist. However, when I was shopping around at World Market the other day, I found this one. For $6.99, you get a small note pad with 60 sheets, enough for a year, and then some if you mess up or your kid spills something on it. The latter is most likely.

This notepad is also available on Amazon in case you find this Wisconsin Winter Weather (WWW for short, a.k.a. January 96th) extremely depressing and want to stay at home and do nothing. Like I want to do. And eat carbs. YUM. Carbs. If you do the Amazon route, you get to choose from an ARRAY of colors. I wish I would have known this because my favorite color is green. Although if I went with pink, I’m sure Chloe would have written all the menu plans for me then 🙂

This paper pad is a good substitute for “on the go” menu planning. We can tear out one of these sheets and binder clip it to my weekly “to-do” notebook or insert it into m y weekly paper planner. Either way, it’s a food list to help organize meals and snacks for a well-balanced lifestyle….or so we like to think 🙂

20180413_134734.jpg