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Month: September 2017

Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and Kale

Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and Kale

Holy smokes. This dish is something I had made for a few years- it’s semi-healthy comfort food at its finest. But, I’m not exactly on the gluten or dairy train anymore, so I haven’t touched it for awhile. Yesterday, I decided to give it a whirl with a handful of changes- and man, was it amazing! That is one of the things I’ve learned over the past 8 months or so- with a few changes, I can still make food that I love. Kirk loved it, Sydney tried it and seemed semi-impressed, Reid wouldn’t touch it (he’s 4, so don’t go by his judgment). I love using chickpea pasta for this because aside from bacon, there’s no meat. Chickpeas add so much protein (and fiber!) to make this truly filling. To make this truly dairy-free involves some planning and effort since dairy-free creme fraiche takes some time. It’s not complicated, just takes time in the fridge overnight. BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT. Trust me. I wouldn’t steer you wrong!

Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and KaleĀ (adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 5 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (small size works best)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 12 ounces short-shaped chickpea or lentil pasta, such as fusilli, farfalle, or ziti
  • 4 cups shopped kale
  • 4 bacon slices (look for nitrate-free)
  • 2 cups vertically-sliced yellow onion
  • 1 t. salt, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (or more if you love it. I won’t judge)
  • 2 cups organic, good quality chicken broth, divided (I apologize for sounding like Ina Garten)
  • 2 T. arrowroot starch
  • 1 cup dairy-free creme fraiche (such as this)
  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese (such as this), optional


  1. The night before, make the creme fraiche if necessary. If you don’t give AF about dairy, just use regular creme fraiche. That’s cool too.
  2. While you’re at it, chop up the squash and onion the night before too. Trust me, this is a huge time-saver. DO IT.
  3. When you’re ready to make the dish, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Toss squash (that you’ve already chopped up, look at you!) and olive oil together to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Don’t be scared if it gets a little browned. That’s the good stuff.
  5. Cook pasta according to package directions untilĀ almost al dente. Throw the kale in for the last 2 minutes or so. Drain the pasta mixture.
  6. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Seriously, get it CRISP. Nobody likes chewy bacon in a casserole- give the people what they want. Remove bacon from pan and let cool on paper towels. Enjoy the bacon-y smell of your kitchen.
  7. Add onion to bacon drippings in pan (oh yeahhh) and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon sale and the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Crumble bacon, try not to eat it right now.
  9. Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and arrowroot starch in a small bowl, stirring until starch is dissolved. Add starch mixture and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to broth. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in creme fraiche. Taste it because it’s magical.
  10. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and amazing sauce in a large bowl and toss gently to coat. Throw it in a 9×13 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes (if using parmesan cheese) or 25 minutes (if not using cheese).
  11. If you are adding cheese, remove dish from oven and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Then throw it back in the oven for 10 minutes.
  12. Voila! Eat it all. Serve it to friends and impress them. Bring it to your friend that just had a baby and can’t eat dairy because her newborn gets cranky when she does. Just make this thing immediately!

I also think a good variation would be to reduce kale to 3 cups and add in 1 cup of zucchini, broccoli, or cauliflower rice. More veggies and you probably won’t even notice their presence. My favorite!

Sidenote: you can totally make this ahead and freeze it. Do everything up to putting it in the oven and freeze. When you want to use it, thaw in the fridge overnight and bake when you’re ready. So easy!


Sydney Jane

Sydney Jane

Dear Sydney,

These are your last days as a baby. Saturday, your first birthday, marks the beginning of your toddler years. Cliche as it may be, this year has flown by. Around this time last year I was at the doctor getting my 39 week checkup. I had been having tons of Braxton-Hicks contractions but didn’t really pay attention to them. We spent our last night as a family of 3, September 22, putting Reid to bed and having our good friend, John, over for dinner since I had made a pretty kickass lasagna the day before. I started having contractions, but I could mostly talk through them and they weren’t incredibly painful. I don’t think John even noticed. But I didn’t eat much at dinner, which should have been a sign that your presence was imminent.

On the morning of your birthday, I woke up and got Reid ready for school like usual. Again, some contractions, but nothing crazy. Once we got in the car, though, I started paying more attention. Reid asked me questions (he is very chatty, your brother) and I couldn’t answer right away because I was breathing through the discomfort. In all honesty- I probably shouldn’t have been driving. But I was in denial because your brother was 5 days late (and was only born due to an induction) and your due date was 6 days away. I was still walking, talking, cooking, crossfitting. Surely you weren’t on your way! When I got home, I called your grandfather and asked him to pick up Reid from school. I told him “I’m not in labor or anything, but it hurts to drive.” Silly me. I let our doula, Rachel, know what was happening. She laughed and said it sounds like early labor and to pay attention. Your dad asked if he should come home at lunch and I said no, I’m not in labor. This is probably a false alarm. You know, as I continued to have regular contractions every 5-7 minutes.

Your dad did come home around 11, and I told him that he should go grab Reid from school since he was home. I also started to consider a visit to the hospital- just to make sure. My dad was on his way over to take Reid back to your grandparents’ house once he got home from school. And in the 40 minutes that it took to pick up Reid, things escalated. QUICKLY. I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore.Your poor grandfather walked into the house to me rolling around on the couch, moaning like a cow. I think I scared him but at that point, I didn’t really care. I called your dad on his way home and scream-asked when was he coming home? Luckily he was 3 minutes away. That seemed like too long. We got in the car against my will – I said it hurt too much to move, let’s just have the baby here – and drove to the hospital. Longest 20 minute ride of my LIFE.

I got a mini-epidural at the hospital after waiting about 90 minutes. I could still feel contractions but they weren’t as painful and I was happy again. Then, it started to wear off. I asked for another dose and the doctor told me that I was too close and would be pushing soon. That was NOT what I wanted to hear. Rachel had met us at the hospital several hours earlier and suggested I roll onto my side to see it that would help things move along. And boy- did it ever. I rolled onto my right side, and 4 contractions later you were here. Both your dad and Rachel started putting gloves on as they yelled out the door “I think we are ready!” The doctor nearly didn’t even make it in to catch you! We were so happy to finally meet you. I was exhausted and elated at the same time.

You are one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. You also have one of the worst cases of FOMO I’ve ever seen. You love people-watching and playing with Reid. No matter what he does, you laugh. You adore him. You still hate naps but have slept through the night since about 3 months, so I’ll take it. You’ve developed a habit of crawling around with toys in your mouth like a dog. You have zero stranger-danger, and give almost everyone a smile. In your early days, you HATED the hours of 8pm-10pm and would cry for 2 hours like clockwork. Until a couple months ago, you didn’t like baths. You love climbing and stairs. You are easily entertained as long as there is something to look at. You have beautiful blue eyes that grab nearly everyone’s attention.

This year has been a wonderful challenge. Thank you for bringing unprecedented joy into our lives. I love you with my whole heart.

Favorite Things

Favorite Things

Anybody who’s looked at my Instagram feed knows three things: I have two kids, I’m currently doing a ton of handstands (#100handstandsin100days2017), and I love to cook.

I haven’t always liked being in the kitchen- before I had Reid, Kirk was the primary chef in our relationship. He was (and still is) pretty good, too, and credits his “restaurant experience” (aka a 6-week internship in a restaurant) for this. I will say though- he can spin and toss pizza dough pretty high in the air, and I don’t know if that does anything but it looks impressive.

Anyway- after Reid was born and I started my new life as a stay at home mom, I felt like it was a bit unfair for me to be at home and expect Kirk to continue to make dinner after being at work all day. It’s not that it was something I felt like I “had” to do, but I felt like I had the time for it so I should. At first, it was pretty stressful for me. I’m a rule-follower, so I love recipes and I follow them exactly. It makes me a great baker but cooking needs a bit more flexibility. I panicked when I read instructions like “simmer sauce for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.” Umm, which one? And how can I tell if it’s exactly half? But slowly (VERY SLOWLY, poor Kirk) I became more and more comfortable cooking. Now, 4.5 years later, I’m really comfortable in the kitchen and have even created some recipes on my own, or blended a few together to create something new-ish. A lot of people ask me for recipes for stuff that I post, and while some of it is my own, I get a lot through other bloggers I follow on Instagram. So, here are a few of my favorites!

Minimalist Baker: this lady rocks. I didn’t even realize until several weeks into following her that everything she makes is plant-based. Seriously, everything is so good. Plus all her recipes are either just a few ingredients, only require one bowl, or take 30 minutes or less. Try: peanut butter overnight oats

Against All Grain: Danielle Walker has saved my mostly-gluten-and-dairy-free life. Her recipes are so amazing that you don’t even notice the lack of processed ingredients! Her backstory is pretty incredible too- some serious health struggles that led her down a scary path, until she found a way through it via food and nutrition. She is inspiring on so many levels! I own every single cookbook she wrote, and I think she’s coming out with a new one soon. You better believe I’m getting that one too! (also, because I’m a cookbook addict) Try: margarita and real deal chocolate chip cookies

Paleomg: Julie Bauer is the shit. She’s not only an amazing and creative cook, but is gorgeous and has a killer sense of style. I went to her gym once while visiting Denver (Crossfit Broadway) but she wasn’t there. Kirk went last year and saw her, and was so rude that he didn’t call me and let me speak to her. I love her. Anyway- she’s pretty realistic about what she eats and drinks and sometimes even (gasp) uses cheese in her recipes, despite being “paleo.” I think that’s why I like her so much- she just kind of does her own thing but it works. Try: crockpot fig apple butter

Nom Nom Paleo: Michelle Tam writes with such a fun tone and style. Her newest cookbook, Ready or Not, has quickly become one of my favorites simply due to the way it’s organized. Instead of the typical appetizers-sides-mains-desserts fashion, she divides her book into sections based on how much time you have to cook. It’s amazing! She adds an Asian influence to a lot of her recipes, and most of them are Whole30 compliant as well. And they are all damn good. Get the new cookbook just for the duck confit recipe alone, I swear! Plus, Michelle has the motherload of Instant Pot recipes. She’s amazing. Try: cracklin’ chicken

Simply Taylor: Not only is Taylor Riggs a registered dietician, but she’s from Columbus, Ohio! I feel like that should make her worth checking out in itself. But, she also has a cookbook called “Real Food, Real Simple” that is 100% awesome. Seriously- I’ve made about 10 recipes from there and they have all been wonderful. Listen to me: YOU MUST TRY THE ALMOND BUTTER BRUSSEL SPROUTS. It is only in her book, which is well worth the $20. It will change your life, and that is not an exaggeration. Try: absolutely everything in her cookbook, and the chopped salad

The Toasted Pine Nut: I’ve only been following this one on Instagram for a short time, but she makes some really cool stuff. The photos of her dishes are a beautiful addition to my feed, and always catch my eye as I’m scrolling through. Her stuff is lower carb, gluten free, and always looks delicious! Try: BLT chickpea pasta salad with creamy avocado sauce

Stupid Easy Paleo: I love this blog just on its name alone. Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated! I love her site in general- she’s an advocate for women’s fitness, nutrition and overall health. She has a challenge that you can sign up for named “Harder to Kill” and that’s definitely something I can get behind. Try: amaze balls and paleo chick-fil-a nuggets

Paleo Running Mama: Michelle is a mom of 3, so I felt like I immediately knew her struggle. She posts a lot of stuff that is kid-friendly (yes I know, ALL food is “kid friendly” but have you ever tried to give something new to a 4-year-old?) so I love searching her site for stuff that Reid and I can make together. I do find that helps- cooking with kids gives them a stake in the game, and they are so much more likely to try something new if it’s a result of their own work! It’s the only time I’ve gotten Reid to try hummus. Anyway, this is a great resource for kids and grown ups alike! Try: berry crumble breakfast bake

There are a few more that I like, but these are the ones that really stick out to me, and the ones I go to most often. Finding new recipes and cooking methods makes eating really fun, and I can only hope I pass this love of the kitchen on to my children. I try to teach Reid some skills whenever he’s willing to pay attention, which is a little hit or miss, but he is pretty decent with a butter knife now.

Next step: teaching him how to pour a cup of coffee and carry it up the stairs, set it on my nightstand, and return to his room so I can drink it in peace. #dreamon