7 Fall Recipes to Try

 

Germany has decided that there’s no need to transition from summer to fall slowly. We woke up one morning and Mother Nature just decided to be fall. No warning. No transition from the 90 degree weather to 75 degrees for a while. Nope, it went from 90 to 61 overnight. The air has been crisp, the mornings have been chilly and all I want to do is stay home, snuggled under a blanket, reading a book or watching TV, which is what I did all weekend.

I also spent a lot of this weekend on Pinterest (do you follow me?) searching for some new fall dinner recipes. I’ve been in a cooking rut lately and with the change in the seasons, it’s time to up my game. I want all the hearty meals, like macaroni and cheese, meatballs, mashed potatoes and lasagna. Basically, I want anything warm and not good for me.

Luckily, I found some great recipes to make this fall. I thought I’d share a roundup of the top 7 that are on my list. I’d love to know what are some of your favorite fall recipes or go-to websites when you want to make something delicious.

Cheesy Taco Pasta, Dinner Then Dessert 

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In our house, taco Tuesday happens every single week. And sometimes taco Sunday. And taco Friday. We love tacos. The Mexican restaurants in our area are not up to par, so we’ve really started to make more Mexican at home. This recipe from Dinner Then Dessert (don’t you love that blog name?!) looks like an amazing twist on taco night.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls, Cooking Classy 

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The start of September makes me crave everything pumpkin. Except for pumpkin spice lattes, sorry, I don’t get the hype and it hurts the roof of my mouth for some reason. But these pumpkin dinner rolls from Cooking Classy look absolutely divine. They seem like a lot of work but worth it in the end. Maybe for this year’s Friendsgiving?

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo, Chef Savvy

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How good does this look?! I love fettuccine, especially how creamy it is. This version from Chef Savvy seems to call for the similar ingredients as the fattier version but uses milk and chicken broth instead of cream. I’d love to give this a try and see how it compares.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups, The Kitchn 

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Is there anything more hearty than lasagna? My mom makes the most amazing lasagna every year for Christmas, two in fact. Nothing comes close to a lasagna your Italian mom makes, but I really want to give this version a try. It’s a spinach roll-up version from The Kitchn that looks quite delicious. But shhh, don’t tell Vinn there’s spinach in there!

Broccoli and Cheddar Twiced-Baked Potatoes, Baker by Nature

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Cheddar cheese always makes it on my grocery list, as we must have it always on hand for my Wisconsin-born husband. I think this recipe from Baker by Nature will be right up his alley. Look at that cheesy-goodness. My stomach is growling just looking at this picture!

Oktoberfest Sheet Pan Brats with Roasted Veggies, Grab a Plate

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Brats are a staple in the German diet and my office cafeteria serves a brat three times a week. With Oktoberfest coming, this brat recipe with veggies from Grab a Plate is a great way to have some German food at home.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Stuffed Shells, Tastes Better From Scratch

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Clearly I am on a pasta kick. I never really cook with shells, though. I’m not sure why but for some reason I gravitate towards spaghetti or penne noodles. When I found this chicken and broccoli alfredo stuffed shell recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch, I knew I wanted to buy some shells on my next trip to the grocery store! Hey, at least it has broccoli in it!

Well, that will do it, 7 fall recipes I want to try. I think I will be spending some time at the gym and eating salads for lunch to combat these recipes, but hey, you only live once!

What are your favorite fall recipes? Where do you go for recipe inspiration?

7 Delicious Recipes to Try This Fall

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Why I Went Gluten-Free

 

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about anything other than travel, which is amazing and means that I’ve been seeing a lot of amazing places. That’s very true, actually. It’s been two weeks since our trip to Croatia and I am finally feeling back into the groove and routine, like a normal, working person again.

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Part of my routine is attempting to eat rather healthily. I definitely love pasta, pizza, and gelato, hello. And I won’t turn down a glass of wine and am obsessed with chocolate. But, I do like to live a  “balanced” life and like to work out and eat an apple more than I eat Reese’s Cups.

Over the past few months, I’ve started to notice changes in my body when it comes to digesting gluten. In fact, during our trip to Reims, France, I ate gluten for every. single. meal for the majority of our weekend there. Like I had a croissant for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and then pasta for dinner.While it was absolutely delicious, it was not at all nutritious and I woke up the day after with the worst stomach ache and cramps ever. I even had to leave lunch once because I was in so much pain and in need of a bathroom.

I started doing a lot of research about gluten and how it can affect your mood, gut and overall health and I found that there is absolutely a connection between the way I was feeling and what I was eating, go figure! I should also point out that I recently found out that my thyroid is under active and that gluten is the worst thing you can eat when it comes to thyroid health. I read this article and it pretty much scared me from eating a gluten-based diet.

In case you aren’t sure, gluten is the general name for proteins found in wheat and serves as the glue that helps food maintain their shape, according to the Celiac Foundation. Gluten is also found in barley, which is a big ingredient in beer. So long steins, hello, wine glass! < — the easiest part about going gluten-free! Gluten is found in pasta, pastries, processed foods, bread, pancakes, granola bars, flour tortillas and candy to name a few. I put a note in my phone with the list so I can easily access if what I’m about to eat has gluten in it.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been eating much less gluten, pretty much going completely gluten-free. I read somewhere that you can’t be sorta gluten-free, it’s like being sorta pregnant. I haven’t taken this philosophy to heart, exactly, but I have drastically decreased my gluten intake and started to sub gluten-free products when I would normally eat white or wheat grains.

Not so shockingly, I feel so much better. Since I started doing this, I haven’t had any sort of stomach aches or cramps and I do not feel deprived or unsatisfied. The main reason I did this was for my health and so I could enjoy my days and not spend them bloated and uncomfortable.

What do I eat? Well, that’s a very good question. I’ve started cooking with Barilla gluten-free pasta, which is husband approved (says a lot about the taste!) and eating whole foods. A typical day is: Greek yogurt for breakfast, salad or rice with veggies for lunch, a Granny Smith apple with Gruyere cheese as a snack, and then a gluten-free pasta with chicken or taco salad for dinner. Thanks to Pinterest, there are lots of recipes and resources available online so I can quickly throw something together that is sans-gluten. I also love red lentil pasta and have found some decent gluten-free bread at the grocery store.

Over the course of the next few months, I want to really do some experimenting with some new recipes and staying on the healthy track. I’m eyeing this cookbook for help and have started a new work out routine, as well.

So far, I have noticed that my stomach doesn’t get as bloated after a meal as it used to, I get fewer headaches and stomach aches and I am more conscious of the food I am eating. Gluten can hide in some salad dressings and condiments, so I am reading a lot more labels, too. I’m determined to make this year my healthiest year and I feel like I’ve taken one giant step towards this goal. If you’re interested in follow-ups on my gluten-free journey or even some of my favorite recipes, please leave a comment below!

Why I Went Gluten Free

What do you do to feel your best? Where do you find cooking inspiration? 

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What I Learned From My Food Journal

For the past month and a half, I have kept an online food journal with my best friend via a shared Google Doc. Her wedding is coming up (7 weeks and counting!!) and we both want to look our best. I mean these pictures are going to live forever.

We decided to start a food journal to keep each other accountable, to give each other ideas and to stay on track. And now that I’ve done the tracking, like Carrie Underwood, I have gained insights into food triggers, what works for me and a good plan for the future.

I thought I’d share what I’ve learned and would love to hear if you’ve ever kept a food journal or any weight loss tips in the comments below.

online_food_journal

Preparation is key. If I’m prepared, I definitely make smarter choices. Making overnight oats, for example, is so easy and I start the day on a healthy note. If I don’t make something for breakfast the day before on days when I go into the office, then I tend to grab a sugar-filled granola bar or a butter pretzel at the local bakery just because I’m hungry and have nothing. As far as snacks go, I also need to be prepared. Once a week I cut up celery and peppers to eat as snacks on the go and is much healthier than chips I tend to reach for when I’m starving and feel like I have nothing to eat.

Carbs are my weakness. I love carbs, carbs, carbs. I have noticed that if I have carbs at night, I wake up feeling much hungrier and then end up eating more carbs the next day. After I realized this, I started substituting pasta for red lentil pasta or gluten free pasta and you know what? I don’t really miss it! And now when I’m out at restaurant and really craving pasta, I get it because it’s a “cheat” meal and totally worth it. When I don’t have carbs at night, I wake up with a flat(er) stomach and feel healthier and ready to tackle the day.

I eat a lot of sugar. I never realized how much sugar I was actually consuming. If I had two coffees, I would have 4 teaspoons of sugar, just in the coffee alone. I do eat a lot of fruit, which is healthy, but contains sugar. I also love a piece of chocolate at the end of the night, but I couldn’t have just one piece. Since I’ve started tracking my food, I could see that I had some sugar earlier in the day and would opt out for chocolate at night. When I don’t have sugar in the morning and then I crave it at night, I don’t feel as bad if I give in. Also, I have found that when I do eat sugar, I end up eating more throughout the day and feeling hungrier. Since sugar doesn’t have any nutritional value, it gets digested quickly and is why you have a sugar crash. All in all I’m trying to be better about sugar and haven’t put any in my coffee all week. I want to stay away from added sugar as much as possible.

Good choices in the morning bring good choices at night. When I make smart decisions right out of the gate, I tend to stick with it throughout the day because I don’t want to “mess up” a day or I want to keep the momentum going. But when I have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, it’s much easier to chalk it up to cheat day and just continue down that path. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I want to continue to eat things that are going to fuel me for the day and start it off on a healthy foot.

Mindset is everything. I definitely think about what I eat more now because I am forced to write it down. If I am in the mindset that eating healthy is good for me, my mind and my soul, then it is easier to make healthy choices. Of course, while on vacation or for a celebration, I’ll indulge in a piece of cake or something. You only live once. But overall, having a healthy mindset keeps me focused on my goals and moving forward.

All in all, keeping a food journal has helped me realize that I reach for unhealthy foods when I’m not prepared, when I’m out and about or when I have an unhealthy mindset. It has helped me stay focused, to realize my goals and to live an overall healthier life. I will definitely continue to use my online food journal at least until my friend’s wedding. It has become part of my day and I don’t even think about it.

Have you ever kept a food journal? How do you live a healthy life?

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Friday Favs {October 28}

Woohoo, Friday is here! This week has been absolutely amazing. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary, had dinner with a friend and we are gearing up to go to London this weekend!

I am so excited to go to London and can’t wait to share our what we do, where we go, what we eat, everything! We have a list of things we want to do but not a real itinerary. The only true plans are a nice dinner on Sunday night, an afternoon tea and tickets to see The Book of Mormon. If you’ve been to London, have any tips for me?

But now onto the other things I’m loving this week in this week’s installment of Friday Favs.

Dr. and Mrs. Guinea Pig Podcast

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I have a new favorite podcast to share! I love Heather Dubrow on the Housewives, I listen to her podcast and she and her husband just came out with their own podcast that talks about all things health, wellness and beauty. They’ve had two episodes so far and I really appreciate all the advice they give. They answer listener questions, talk about their favorites at the moment and give tidbits of their family life. Both Heather and Terry, who is a certified plastic surgeon, try different products and procedures and let us know what really works. Like, cool sculpting, a no go. Botox, yes, but only from the nose up. I learn a lot from it! And next week they are talking all about acne, which I am really interested in to learn more about!

Dinner with a friend

dinner in stuttgart

Last night we had dinner with the first friend we met in Germany. We met Tiffany because she and her boyfriend were also expats and gave us so much advice on what to do, where to go and everything else about life in Germany. We even bought a lot of their furniture because they moved back to the States a month or so after we met! We went to an Italian restaurant in downtown Stuttgart that was so delicious. It was so great to catch up, hear about what it’s like to go back to the States and get advice on other travel destinations. Dinner with friends are absolutely the best.

An impromptu brunch

breakfast

Last Saturday, I went to my first eye doctor appointment. Our mall actually has several versions of Lenscrafters, so we just went to one of those. It was so fast and easy! They gave me a pair of contacts to try for an hour before deciding to buy. So, instead of going shopping, Vinn and I had a nice impromptu brunch in the mall. We shared cappuccinos, macaroons and a fruit tart. We chatted about our London trip, other destinations we want to go to and what we were going to do that night. It was such a wonderful, unplanned date. It was lovely.

What are you loving this week?

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Shane’s Restaurant: A Munich Dinner to Remember

During our two days in Munich, I wanted to have a memorable dinner with Vinn. I did a decent amount of research online to find a restaurant that would give us a great experience. Some of my favorite memories from our honeymoon were the most amazing restaurants we visited. We always make it a point to have one nice(r) meal whenever we travel.

I found Shane’s on Trip Advisor. It’s my go-to site for trip planning. And It absolutely gave us an experience to remember. The restaurant doesn’t have a menu, you just pick the number of courses you’d like (4 to 8) and if you’d like a wine pairing with each course. We chose the 4 course meal and the wine pairing.

We were seated outside on the gorgeous terrace and had the perfect little table in the corner. We started with a glass of prosecco for me and a glass of red wine for Vinn.

munich restaurant dinner

Our first course came compliments of the kitchen. It was a puree of carrot over curry couscous.

munich dinner appetizer

The carrot was absolutely amazing. It cut like butter and was just creamy enough not to really taste like carrots. The couscous, on the other hand, was not a favorite. It had a lot of curry, which is not one of my favorites. But it was a nice way to start the meal.

And then came the fish course, with a side of potato bread. And that bread was so fluffy and tasty. I had two pieces.

fish restaurant

Oh my gosh. This was delicious!! The waitress said it was trout, but it tasted like salmon. There were radishes and peas with some kind of apple and pear sauce. But the best part was this crunchy char on top of the fish. It tasted salty and sugary at the same time. And the crispy piece of radish was absolutely amazing. I ate mine and Vinn’s. Ooh man, amazing. The wine pairing started with this course and we had a nice sauvignon blanc. It was crisp, cold and had a little taste of pear. It paired amazingly well with the fish.

We had a nice break after this course that was much needed to give my belly a break before the pasta course.

munich dinner

Our next course was venison ravioli!! Oh man, I licked my plate clean. And the wine, incredible. It was a burgundy. The venison was so soft and the sauce was made with red cabbage. I would never put these ingredients together, but everything blended perfectly. The wine was just deep enough to be full-bodied, but not so dry.

Enter the meat course. This was Vinn’s favorite dish of the night.

beef munich

It was grilled ribeye steak with vegetables and a sweet potato. The meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection. After our first bite we both chewed with a smile. And it went down much easier with the wine. This time it was from Italy and a combination of sauvignon and sangiovese grapes. You can’t go wrong with that blend. Two of my absolute favorites.

With only a little bit of room left, dessert came.

munich dessert

I come from the church that dessert is only dessert if it includes chocolate. So, I was a little disappointed when I didn’t see any on the plate. It was lemon cake and some raspberry sorbet. The sorbet was great, but very tart. My favorite part of dessert was the fact that we had sparkling wine from Austria with it. That definitely made it better. And was the perfect ending to the night.

I would definitely recommend Shane’s to anyone visiting Munich. It is definitely not cheap, but it is one of those dinners you’ll talk about for years to come. We enjoyed great conversation, admittedly about Copley since we left her at the hotel, great food and great drinks. Going out to dinner is my favorite activity to do with Vinn. It’s just so relaxing and I always leave feeling fulfilled and excited for our life together.

Have you ever had a great dining experience? What’s your favorite thing to do with your spouse or significant other?