10 Healthier Sweets For Your Valentine

If you are like us you are probably still making your way through your Christmas candy. And that was after you threw away the leftover Halloween candy on Christmas Eve. We have a major sweet tooth at our house so I try not to keep processed sweets laying around, but it can be so hard with all the holidays.

Of course, the sweets just keep coming as we roll into February with Valentine’s Day falling right between my husband’s birthday and my own. Thankfully I’ve found several healthier sweets that we can enjoy on those special occasions so we can feel like we are treating ourselves without over doing it.

Here are ten of our favorites:

healthy peanut butter chocolate chip blondies

Healthy Peanut Butter Blondies – Joy Food Sunshine

Paleo Magic Cookie Bars – Food Faith Fitness

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The annual road trip MN to IL: Bucket list edition

Do you have a route that you travel so often you get from point A to point B without even realizing it? The road trip from St. Paul, Minnesota to Central Illinois is that route for us. We have lived in Minnesota for close to 11 years now and with my family living in Illinois where I grew up we do the long eight hour drive several times a year.
Each time we pass by the same little towns, the same site markers, and the same wooded areas. Perhaps the first few trips I looked out the windows with wonder and took note of possible stops, but after realize how the day is going to be, stopping for anything other than gas or a potty break seems out of the question.
Things are changing though and the blinders are coming off and the eyes of wonder will open once more. On this last trip between my two homes I took note of things I’ve been ignoring for years and finally started that list of stops:
Miniature clowns at Circus World in Baraboo Wisconsin
Although I certainly don’t agree with how circus animals were treated in the past I do remember going to several as a kid. Long before our time the circus had its hay day. For some towns the traveling circus was the only form of entertainment for several months and an event that was not to be missed.

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4 Mindset Shifts to Live a More Fulfilling 2018

4 mindsets for a more fulfilling 2018

2017 was a good year, not a great year, but that is on me. I mean it should have been a GREAT year – we took Baz on his first flight, spent a week at Disney (the happiest place on Earth!!!), celebrated little man’s first birthday, saw our first born graduate pre-school and start kindergarten, enjoyed lots of cabin time, and ended the year with a week with family in Illinois celebrating the holidays and the joy of two pregnancies.

Yet, it seemed less than it should have overall. I ended the year feeling emotionally exhausted, creatively starved, and professionally unfulfilled. Things that should have been within my power escaped my grasp and I allowed myself to lose sight of what I want my life to be about. 2018 is a fresh start to my old story and I’m using these four mindsets to activate what will be a fulfilling and happy year.

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November Coffee Chat

Okay, so technically it is December, but as much as I love the holidays I’m not ready to admit that we are in the last month of 2017.

November was a crazy busy month and it went by way to quickly for me to fully enjoy it. Even with that it was one hell of a month.

Exploring without kids

As a family we have been blessed to travel a lot. When we were a family of three we went to Mexico, Disney, Florida, South Dakota, and many other places. Since adding Baz to the mix 18 months ago we still haven’t slowed down. Continue reading

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City Girl Coffee Co Breakfast Blend

The Makers: City Girl Coffee Co.

Seattle may be America’s coffeehouse, but the Twin Cities is definitely holding its own. Home to two national brands – Caribou and Dunn Bros – as well as several smaller roasters, dozens of top-notch coffee shops, and a pretty passionate coffee culture.

Somewhere along my caffeinated journey I came across City Girl Coffee Co. The packaging caught my attention with its bright colors and female logo (two rarities) and when I found out it was based out of Duluth and the Twin Cities I was hooked. Besides having great beans this small company also has a great story and a group of passionate people behind it.  Continue reading

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The Makers: An Introduction

Often times we find ourselves just going through the motions of life. Not really enjoying things or feeling connected to what we are doing. But people who are passionate about what they are pursuing inspire me and remind me that it is possible to blend creative pursuits, work, and a zeal for life into one amazing journey. So I’m talking to The Makers – those doing something special in food and travel, following their passion, and bringing something unique to the world around them. So here we go . . .

 

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wagon ride through apple orchard

Apple Bread and an apple orchard

Apples are kind of a big deal around here. The University of Minnesota makes news each time it announces a new variety. Apple orchards aren’t hard to come by. In fact, there are so many it can be hard to pick just one. We’ve tried out several over the years and they each offer their own little twist on the experience.

Apples available for pick your own

This year we tried another new one  and we might have just found our annual orchard! Continue reading

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September Coffee Chat (and some BIG NEWS)

There is something about Fall that makes coffee chats seem cozy and appropriate. All curled up with a cup of coffee, a good friend to talk to, and maybe a book to browse. September was a doozy of a month so this coffee chat might be a little deep and require a few cups of java.

Coffee chat with latte and heart

A few month’s ago I reminded everyone (especially myself) why I started Nomad Momma – to continue to challenge myself to try new things, face some fears, learn, and explore. September definitely stepped if up a notch in the face fears and explore arenas. Continue reading

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A Minnesota Fall Bucket List

Although I am not ready for summer to end I know according the calendar today is the last day of that glorious sunny season. Fall is here whether I want it to be or not so I’ll keep myself moving forward with a fall bucket list.
Fall Foliage in Wisconsin

Photo Cred: Autumn Tee XIX

Fall foliage
One of the only parts I enjoy of the seasonal change is the beautiful color of the tree line. Thankfully we already have a little excursion planned to Bayfield, WI which means plenty of hilly back roads surrounded by miles of changing tress. Best of all, according to the fall foliage watch the leaves haven’t turned there yet and we should be perfectly timed for the reds, yellows, and oranges to be out on full display.
Pie
I have a nostalgic love for pie – pretty much all pie (except strawberry rhubarb), but I digress. Fall seems like the perfect season for pie. The days are getting cooler so having the oven on all day isn’t as big of a hassle, but it isn’t such a heavy dessert so it still feels a little lighter like summer. Fruit pies are my favorite and as long as we’ve lived in MN I’ve heard so many opinions about where to get the best pie. I think it is time for a pie crawl!
Open since 1979 this little gem in Northeast has been a quiet powerhouse when it comes to baked sweets – especially pie. I’ve heard amazing things about their fruit pies specifically their Harvest Apple Pie.
This was one of the first places I was told to eat when I moved to MN. Yes, ten years later I still haven’t eaten there so I think it is time to rectify the situation. This place has been open since 1957 so I have a feeling I can’t go wrong with whatever slice of heaven I choose. Maybe a slice of 5 Later Butterscotch, Chocolate Banana,  Apple Strawberry Crunch,  and Bumbleberry . . . Two Harbors, MN here I come!
The best part about pies from this Lowertown gem? Personal sized pies – I don’t have to share!
Apple picking – recommendations?
I love apples! I don’t think one day has gone by in twenty years that I haven’t had an apple. There is just something special about an apple orchard and walking away with five-pound bags of freshly picked apples. And if a little apple cider (or pie) makes its way into the car with us, well even better.
Haunted House
Minnesota is home to the “Halloween Capital of the World” for gosh sake and I haven’t even been there. I adore Halloween and have a penchant for horror movies and I haven’t been to a haunted house in close to 20 years.  I think my hubby owes me a scary fun evening. I’m thinking Haunted Basement or is that to much for the first time back?!?
I think this list should get me through fall . . . winter on the other hand, I’m gonna need a bigger list!

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Wine Wanderlust: Sonoma and Europe

If you know me, or if you’ve only casually read this blog, you know I’m slightly obsessed with food. In college I took food writing and food history classes, studied food science, got a degree in nutrition, and even toyed with going to culinary school. So I’m of course going to geek out over a book that brings together food, history, and travel – Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi does all of that.
Although it was a little more science talk than I expected, I loved the stories of the people on the ground toiling away to bring us some of our favorite culinary delights and how our need for consistency bar to bar and bottle to bottle might be putting these simple pleasures in danger of extinction. It left me craving a spread of some of the best,  guiltily thinking about all of the mass produced homogenous items I’ve consumed thus far, and of course dreaming of some far of places. But it also got me to thinking about some of the people creating diverse products like bread, wine, beer, coffee, and chocolate closer to home.
So over the next few weeks I thought I would give a few ideas for exploring one of these culinary treats closer to home and further afield. Seeing that I’ve had a hectic month I thought we should start with wine. That beautiful end to any sort of day.
Enjoy a glass of wine
Closer to home
In the book she talks about a glass of wine that resulted in a sort of transformative experience in her relationship with wine. This wine and the story behind it took wine from something that she could live or live without to an intriguing character with a life of its own.
This wine with transformative powers? Trousseau Gris grown in California at the Fanucchi vineyard and I want a glass. My own journey with wine has been a slow, transformative process and it only seems fitting that I finally make it to Sonoma Valley and enjoy a glass of this pale golden liquid.
Besides while I’m there I have a few other things I’d like to do and see:
Visit Cowgirl Creamery. I tried this cheese while visiting the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco and fell instantly in love. Seeing the actual place it is made would be a dream come true.
Farther afield
As I’ve said, I have had my own relationship with wine. One that started with pure disgust and has morphed into a happy friendship. So it seems only fitting that the first places I head to on a search for wine farther from home would be France, Italy, and Spain. Three places that I have visited and sadly gulped down malt beverages and hard liquor along the way while abstaining from wine.
Until I get these trips planned I’ll sit here with my glass of today’s choice and enjoy thinking about future bottles of great grapes.

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