We got back from our trip to North Dakota on Sunday around 5pm. The drive took a little over 7 hours, including a stop for lunch. Juliet rocked the drive and was a complete sweetheart the entire way. She slept 3 hours and the rest of the time was reading books, playing with toys and happy. That was a relief because being on a road-trip with an unhappy child can be really stressful.

Thanksgiving and the entire weekend was great. We had a lot of amazing food (my mother-in-law Karen is an awesome cook), good family time and a lot of relaxing. It was exactly what I needed after a long and stressful past month at work. The cold I’ve been fighting for weeks finally began to subside.

Despite how wonderful the food was, I am so ready to be back to eating healthy and counting points on Weight Watchers. I haven’t been tracking for about a month now and instead of avoiding the notion of dieting like I usually do over the holidays I am ready to embrace it.

I’ve put together a recipe round-up of the lighter recipes on Eat Drink Pretty:

Peach, banana and spinach smoothie
Kale, strawberry and avocado salad
Quinoa caprese
Chunky tomato soup

Not pictured but here are some additional great, healthy recipes:

Chicken souvlaki (a favorite meal in our household)
Quinoa taco salad
Lentil soup
Lemon garlic tilapia
Kale, goat cheese and egg toast
Avocado toast
Shrimp linguini
Kale and goat cheese strata

I hope you all enjoyed your long weekend. Are all the leftovers gone and are you ready for some lighter meals this week? If you have any favorite, healthy recipes please comment and share. I need ideas!

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foodie gift guideI’m actually not that into gifts. Giving or receiving. It’s not my love language. It’s not Erik’s either. We haven’t exchanged gifts for birthday or the holidays for about 6 years now. We do still exchange a gift for our wedding anniversary. But that’s it.

Instead of gifts we plan a fun night out or cook a really nice dinner to celebrate. Quality time is both of our love language. Have you ever read the book the 5 Love Languages? We read it during our premarital counseling class and discovered ours matched. Erik’s mom’s love language is definitely gifts and whoa is she generous. We are heading to visit her for Thanksgiving this week and I know she’ll be sending us home with a trunk full of presents. Understanding your significant other and family member’s love language helps with communication, understanding, overall relationship, etc. Ok, I’m no expert on this stuff I’ll move on now.

So even though I’m not super into gifts, I’ll admit, it’s still nice to receive and give a thoughtful gift from time to time. Gift guides are really popular around this time of year and I’ve been eyeing a few things here and there and thought I’d capture them in a nice little gift guide package.

Being a foodie can get spendy. Like really really expensive. I spend a huge chunk of change on dinner parties, family get togethers, etc. I spend way too much time at the grocery store.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe food should be another love language. Right?

Here is a list of items that would awesome gifts for that foodie in your life:

I LOVE this reclaimed wooden cookbook stand. In fact, I think I will casually email this gift guide over to my hubby to hint about it. I mentioned that we give each other gifts for our wedding anniversary and our 5 year is coming up in just a couple weeks. We like to give gifts in the theme of the traditional anniversary year. And this year is wood. So um…he should really buy me this right?! Speaking of wood check out these wooden martini glasses. Erik loves his dirty martinis so this could be a great anniversary gift for him. Be sure to check out Uncommon Goods, they have a ton of awesome gift ideas in their holiday gifts collection on this page.

No matter what the entertaining occasion is, I always have offer cheese board with at least 3 different types of cheese. Everyone loves cheese and it’s an easy appetizer to throw together along with some crackers, dried fruit, a baguette, etc. This slate cheeseboard with soapstone chalk from Uncommon Goods is perfect. People always ask “what type of cheese is this?” and I usually forget place cards/labels for my cheese tray so with this cheese board, problem solved.

At any given time, I want to buy 10 cookbooks but I hold back. I don’t have room in my kitchen for a thousand cookbooks so I have to be selective. I am loving all things kale lately so this 50 Shades of Kale cookbook would be a perfect addition (and would look great displayed on top of the wood cookbook stand).

This Blendtec blender is amazing. I received one from the company to do a product review a couple months ago (review coming in the next couple of weeks) and I have not stopped raving about it since day one. They are spendy but so very worth it. I’ve made carrot juice, margaritas and a thousand smoothies with this blender. I am going to try soup in it next. You can find these blenders at Costo and Sam’s Club for around $399.

This Learning Tower is for the foodie momma who loves having her kiddos in the kitchen. Erik and I are buying Juliet one for Christmas. She’ll be getting way too many presents from family members so Erik and I don’t have to go too crazy with gifts for her. Juliet has just recently began enjoying helping me in the kitchen and this tower is perfect. Plus it comes highly recommended from my friend Jessica who has enjoyed using it with her sweet 2 year old son.

How adorable are these mother/daughter aprons? Sign me up!

What’s on your holiday wish list this year? Please comment and share (it doesn’t have to be foodie-related).

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods and as always, all opinions are my own. 

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Kale, goat cheese and egg toastJuliet was an early bird this weekend. She was up before 6am both Saturday and Sunday and it was rough. If only she would sleep until 7, that would make a huge difference. But alas, she does not so we were up and at ’em bright and early. Needless to say, I made myself a strong cup of coffee.

Juliet eats a scrambled egg every morning for breakfast. Right when she wakes up she says “I eat!” and “I’m hungry!” and I ask her “do you want eggies?” and she always says yes. Usually Erik makes breakfast but he was out of town all weekend so it was just us gals. I thought I’d make myself a nice breakfast and randomly came up with the idea to make toast with kale, goat cheese and an over easy egg.

It was phenomenal. Like my new favorite breakfast, it was that good. I made it on Saturday and Sunday.  

Kale, goat cheese and egg toast

Ingredients

1 egg, preferably organic
1/4 cup baby kale, stems trimmed
1 tablespoon goat cheese (plain of herb flavored)
1 slice of multigrain bread
Salt and pepper

Preparation

Toast the bread. When it is done being toasted, immediately spread on the goat cheese, the heat will melt the cheese a bit and help it spread. Add a layer of kale on top of the goat cheese.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a small pad of butter, melt and swirl around until the pan is coated. Break the egg into pan. Wait a minute for the whites to set then add 2-3 teaspoons of water to the pan and cover. Wait 1-3 minutes, until the yolk is set (this is the steam method of over easy eggs, you can also do the flip method).

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the egg on top of the bread.
I love egg yolk. Yum.

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{Photo credits: Dishing Up The Dirt, BHG, BHG, Martha Stewart, The Vintage Mixer, and BHG}

This Thanksgiving will be the first time, pretty much ever, that I won’t be spending with my family. Erik and I are heading to North Dakota to be with his family. I’ll miss being in charge of the turkey (Erik and I have been on turkey duty for the past 6 years), but it might be nice not having the stress of cooking on Thanksgiving.

My family is celebrating this Sunday in a non-traditional way. I originally wanted to make the whole traditional meal but my sister thought it sounded like a lot of work, and instead suggested having a Thanksgiving appetizer party. Knowing how much my family loves appetizers, I thought it was an awesome idea.

On the menu:

Sparkling cocktails – I like the idea of using apple cider with sparkling wine, or possibly this recipe

A mashed potato bar – this is easy and yet and will be everyone’s favorite I’m sure. My sister is prepping a huge batch of mashed potatoes and we’ll serve in small bowls with lots of toppings

Cranberry sage rolls – hits on two Thanksgiving traditional foods

Turkey meatballs – I plan to serve meatballs with mini rolls and gravy for dipping. I may use this turkey meatball recipe but substitute sage and thyme for the Italian seasoning

Cranberry-orange sherbet – how amazing does this look? Now that I have gelatin sitting in my pantry, this is definitely an option

Stuffed mushrooms – yum. My brother and his fiance are bringing stuffed mushrooms

I think this is a cool and unique way to celebrate Thanksgiving. And with much less stress and dirty dishes. Bring on the apps.

What is your favorite food on Thanksgiving? It’s a tough call but for me I’d have to say the potatoes and pumpkin pie. Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to throw in pumpkin pie bites on the menu for Sunday…

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The weekend was really nice. Really laid back. Snuggly and warm. One of my favorite things about each weekend is that Juliet and I usually nap together. She is such a little cuddler, she’ll cuddle up super close and we’ll nap together with her head nuzzled under my chin. Weekends go fast and I need to soak up every second I have with her, the naps help me do that and it’s the best thing ever.

After our nap on Saturday afternoon I was feeling a little cooped up in the house. But it was raining and cold outside so getting out and about wasn’t really an option. So we baked cookies instead. I was super wary of trying another baking session with Juliet because the last time I attempted to bake with her she opted for sitting on the floor banging on pots and pans.

But this time? Totally different. 

It’s only been a couple of months but wow what a difference. Juliet stood up on a chair next to the counter (I know, not the safest but she was fine, I hope to purchase this kitchen stand for kids at some point but it’s pretty spendy we’ll see) and stirred, poured ingredients, stole chocolate chips. She loved every second of baking with me. We both had a lot of fun.

These cookies are healthy. They have no oil or sugar. Ok so the chocolate chips aren’t the healthiest but they add sweetness to the cookies so they taste like a treat. I love these cookies with my morning coffee (they have oatmeal in them so it counts as breakfast right?).

Juliet liked these cookies but didn’t love them. I suspect she is getting too used to regular cookies (with lots of sugar and sprinkles) that she gets at daycare as treats. These pumpkin oatmeal cookies used to be her favorite so I thought these chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies would be an even bigger hit. So far they are not her favorite so I’ve been eating most of them myself.

Chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies (recipe via The Skinny Fork blog)

Ingredients
2 Ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used natural and/or organic peanut butter)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix together the bananas, peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, and spices.  Add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips; stir until well combined.
Spoon a rounded 2 tbsp. of the cookie mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each and flatten slightly. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool slightly.
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Ever since my partnership began with Aldi about a month ago, I’ve become an Aldi shopper. On the first couple trips I was learning the ropes (like how you have to put a quarter in to get a shopping cart, and how you bag your own groceries). But I’ll admit my first couple trips happened rather hurriedly. I had Juliet with me on each occasion and didn’t have time to really take in everything Aldi had to offer. 


But this last trip? Totally different story. Juliet was napping and home with Erik. I whipped up my grocery list and headed out the door. If you are a parent you’ll probably agree that grocery shopping alone is somewhat of a luxury. Without Juliet I was able to spend more time checking everything out. 

What I discovered is that Aldi carries an awesome variety organic products. And I am totally pumped about this. Ever since Juliet was 6 months and eating solids, I became much more cognizant about feeding her (plus Erik and I) healthy foods. I make it a priority to buy organic foods for Juliet (not everything) and everyone knows that buying organic can be expensive.But not at Aldi. 

On my last trip I purchased 39 items and 36% of those items were organic. Aldi carries a brand called Simply Nature and a lot of those items are organic. Here is a list of all the organic items I purchased and their corresponding price. Ready to be shocked??

Organic lentil soup – $1.99
Organic chicken tortilla soup – $1.99
Organic spaghetti noodles – $1.19
Organic tomato basil marinara sauce – $1.99
Organic frozen strawberries – $2.69
Organic salsa – $1.99
Organic balsamic vinaigrette dressing – $1.99
Organic ranch dressing – $1.99
Organic agave nectar – $2.49 (I’ve bought organic agave nectar from Target and it was $3.99)
Organic diced canned tomatoes (28 oz.) – $1.49

And yes even some produce including
Organic baby kale – $2.49
Organic Gala apples (3 lb. bag) – $3.99

My favorite products are the organic frozen strawberries and the organic kale. I literally use those items every single day in my smoothies. 
Other organic products I noticed include organic carrots, organic potatoes (plus a few other organic produce items I can’t recall at the moment).

They also carry uncured bacon (with no nitrates added). Juliet loves bacon but we don’t let her eat it unless it’s organic or nitrate free. Organic bacon is so damn expensive! But even though this Aldi bacon isn’t organic, it’s natural and nitrate free. And it only costs $3.89. I bought 3 packages of it.  Aldi carries single serve coffee cups (12 for $5.79, this is the lowest price I’ve ever seen).

Enjoying my strawberry, banana and spinach smoothie at work (made with the organic frozen strawberries I purchased at Aldi)

While I was impressed with the low prices on my first couple shopping trips, I can honestly say I was mostly excited about the low prices in combination with the organic offerings on this past Aldi experience. And now I feel like a true Aldi advocate. Because after that trip I started going around and telling all my friends, coworkers and family how awesome Aldi is and even showing the photo of all the organic products I bought that day. There is something really interesting about Aldi shoppers. If you get them talking, you will find that they don’t just shop at Aldi, they love Aldi. I got a ton of great response from Aldi lovers on my last post, in my Instagram feed and via coworkers and friends that also shop at Aldi. It’s like a secret-but-not-so-secret community of people that love Aldi. It’s sort of funny but I get it. I really do. 

Disclosure – I am participating in a sponsored brand ambassadorship with ALDI. As always, all opinions are my own.
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