Applegate Wienervention

A couple weeks ago I received a hilarious email from Applegate. “Let’s be frank: Friends shouldn’t let friends eat bad meat. It’s time to stage a “Wienervention” and Applegate is here to help.”

They sent me a lovely box of wieners and other cookout-related supplies (pictured below). There were no strings attached to this gift, but I really like their products and want to blog about it anyway!

If your kids like hot dogs the way mine do, you are probably looking for a healthier way to serve them up. I’ve tried other versions of “healthy” hot dogs, but in my opinion, Applegate’s are the best-tasting! I’ve also had their deli meats, cheeses, and bacon and been impressed by the quality of all their products.

More than 90% of people who consume hot dogs would rather purchase franks with a short ingredient statement, and that’s where Applegate steps in. Our ingredient list is simple: beef (that has never been administered antibiotics or hormones), water, salt and spices. It’s time to say goodbye to those dirty dogs filled with sodium phosphate, sodium nitrate, and who knows what else!

Do your backyard barbecue a favor and try them!

Applegate Wienervention 001

Applegate Wienervention 002

Living with Less Inflammation

elimination diet

In Spring of 2011, my husband and I decided to do an elimination diet. We also found out that most folks (like us before we decided to do one) don’t understand what an elimination diet is. While Tom and Ali give a very nice overview of their elimination diet plan here, I can tell you a few things about it:

1. An elimination diet is designed to help you recognize any food sensitivities you might have.
2. An elimination diet is not easy and will require time and dollars and sacrificing things you want to eat.
3. An elimination diet will, in the long run, help you avoid foods that cause inflammation in your body (and these are different for everyone).

To say it was an undertaking is an understatement. I cooked for probably an average of 2 hours per day. But we lived to tell the tale, and I highly recommend the process. After going through the entire diet, there were still several foods I was “iffy” about…couldn’t decide if I had really reacted to them. So this February we did the entire thing again! Call us crazy, but it was helpful. I indeed tested sensitive to bananas and potatoes. And things that I’m still not sure about are yeast and gluten. My reaction wasn’t very strong, but I feel like there was a reaction there. So who knows? Someday we may need to do it again.

This elimination diet also has a couple pleasant side effects:

1. I feel better than in any other time of my life physically and mentally. Even though I have been struggling with insomnia for over three years, when I eat like this I still have enough energy to tackle the day.
2. Weight loss. Unless you were already eating a ton of veggies, legumes and gluten-free grains, you will be full (there is no caloric restriction on this diet) and shed weight. The first time around I lost about 5 lbs and my husband around 9. This time I shed 8 lbs and my husband 11! Without really trying!

Even if you have no interest in the elimination diet, I cannot recommend enough the cookbook in which it is found. Tom has a Master’s in nutrition and certification in functional medicine. Ali also has a degree in nutrition and is a cooking instructor (it shows….her way with spices and food combinations is amazing). We have only found two recipes in the entire book (and we’ve probably tried over 100 of them) that we didn’t like. That is better than any other cookbook or website’s record for our family! They recently came out with a second cookbook full of more gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free recipes, and I bought that, too. I’ve already found several winners in there as well.

Eating healthy takes dedication and time to adjust, but in the long run, it’s worth it. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Giving our bodies the proper fuel will help them to function optimally.

Minnesota State Fair Food 2012

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted my reviews of the MN State Fair Food, so here was our experience from TODAY!

On the ride home I had each family member tell me their favorites from the day. If you know us at all, it is no surprise that Husband’s are mostly savory and mine are mostly sweet. 🙂

Husband’s Top 5:
1. Pork Chop on a stick
2. Honey lemonade
3. Vegie Fries
4. Moe & Joe’s Banana Sandwich
5. Fried Green Tomatoes

Heidi’s Top 5:
1. French Meadow Bakery Scone with strawberries and cream
2. Moe & Joe’s Banana Sandwich
3. Blue Moon Sweet Corn Ice Cream
4. Wild Rice Specialties Burger
5. Chocolate PB Cup Fudge Puppy

Anja’s Top 5:
1. Mini-donuts
2. Cheese curds (she called them cheese bundles)
3. Chocolate PB Cup Fudge Puppy
4. Strawberry malt at the Dairy Building
5. Moe & Joe’s Banana Sandwich

Markus’s Top 5:
1. 1919 Root Beer
2. Strawberry malt at the Dairy Building
3. Roasted Corn on the Cob
4. Pronto Pup
5. Honey Lemonade

The kids went on some rides with friends on the Kidway, and their favorites were the Ferris Wheel and the Super Slide.

Other highlights:

  • Running into people we know. I know it’s MN, so it’s likely, but when there are over 100,000 people ANYWHERE it’s unlikely that you’re going to find a friend, right?
  • Husband saw Gene Simmons. I asked him why he didn’t snap a picture, and he said “because he’s not really a celebrity.” ??
  • State Fair Bingo. We got two Bingos, almost three. A couple of my favorite things on our card were “someone using an electric cart who clearly doesn’t need to be” (which we did spot) and “man wearing overalls with no shirt” (which we didn’t spot).
  • The miniature rooms and quilts in the Creative Activities Building.
  • Getting to vote on the art we liked best in the Fine Arts Building. We peruse every single piece of art every year, but this is the first time we recall getting a ballot. Nice touch!

Things we missed that we’d like to do next time (mostly because they were on a schedule and we would always find ourselves at the opposite side of the fair when they were supposed to be going on):

  • Flippenout performance
  • The lumberjack show
  • Meeting Curious George
  • San Felipe Tacos Carnitas Asian Fusion Taco (it’s been on our list for 2 years but yet to be tasted)

Snippets from Grandma’s

Anja was, apparently, VERY excited about her breakfast. Grandma does make good homemade bread. 😉
112411 001

We got the table set and enjoyed our day with family.
112411 002

112411 003

The next day, following tradition, we picked out and decorated the tree.
112511 001

112511 002

112511 003

112511 004

112511 006

112511 005

I think Markus looks like his grandpa Scott (second from right):
112611 001

112511 007

(from my favorite Disney movie)
112511 008

Grandma decorated the rest of the house, too…
112511 009

112511 010

112611 002

And Uncle Jeremy was kind to bring our old rocking horse down from the rafters of the garage. So much fun!
112511 011

112511 012

112511 013

Later that night we decorated Spritz cookies, another tradition.
112511 014

112511 015

Anja had much more patience for it this year, and was quite meticulous.
112511 016

Can’t say I want to ingest the cookies she decorated (gag. on. sprinkles.), but she was delighted!
112511 017

And before we left, both kids got to be “Little Drummer Boy.”
112611 003

June 2011 Highlights Reel

Instead of completely ignoring our summer like last year, I decided to put up a few photos of each month for posterity. 🙂

Sherman Deux had a pool party with his friends. They learned Dead Man’s Float, apparently. And some of them just watched.
062011 001

060311 017

060311 018

Preschool celebrated summer birthdays (probably a photo from May, actually).
060311 019

Markus walked with his hands behind his back all the time for a couple of months. It was pretty funny.
060311 020

Made sushi for the first time (though they were vegetarian, so whatever that makes them) in honor of my sis-in-law’s visit (excuse the moving boxes in the background!). Yummy! She was home for a short leave from teaching overseas, and it was great to have her here!
062011 003

062011 004

062011 005

062011 006

062011 007

Moved! Though I don’t have any updated photos of the house to show, we continue to work on it every week. I’m hoping for some before-and-afters before Christmas! I took a couple shots of the kids sleeping their last night in the old house (sniff).
062011 008

Anja somehow wove the monitor base into her bed, and told me in the morning they’d had a “campfire.”
062011 009

The Whole Life Nutrition Elimination Diet: Phases 2 and 3

Here’s a quick update on our progress with the elimination diet. Read more here if you are playing catch up.

Days 10 to 15: Phase 2

On Day 10 we introduced lemons and limes to our diet. We included it in smoothies, in our water, in our salad dressings, and to Husband’s delight, had some lemonade (he likes variety in his beverages). My favorite recipe was a lemon lentil soup.
On Day 13 we added in wheat-free tamari (kind of like soy sauce). We had it on asparagus and greens, in our collard wraps, and on our sunflower burgers.
Neither of us noticed any strong reactions to these foods.

Days 16 to 28: Phase 3

Phase 3 involves reintroduction of foods that sometimes cause irritations in people. We began with root vegetable pancakes (which tasted so delicious! yay, potatoes!) and breakfast greens. I noticed quite a few symptoms related to potatoes, so I am going to re-test those. I ate almost an entire pineapple by myself, though, and had no problems with that! 🙂 We’ve had several meals that we both enjoyed a LOT, including Curried Vegetables with Indian Fried Rice as well as Coconut-Lime Chicken (which we introduced two days before Easter to prepare us for some meat….Husband wanted his ham!). Husband continues to not notice any particular sensitivities and accuses me of hypochondria when I mention any of mine. I think I’m sensitive to bananas as well (boo, because I used to eat them almost every day!).

Overall impressions:
1. Husband’s family has many digestive issues, and he thinks he may have a mild case of IBS. He has trouble digesting most vegetables.
2. We’ve both lost weight on the diet. Not incredible amounts, but enough that we both feel better about our bodies. I’m guessing quite a bit of it was inflammation/water retention. I’ve noticed that my abdomen and face areas have slimmed the most, same with Husband.
3. We’ve decided that we are going to try to eat “Phase 3 style” most of the time with occasional treats, depending on what we find out during the Challenge Phase.
4. The diet continues to be a problem socially. Virtually everything served everywhere contains at least one of the Challenge foods: gluten, oats, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, or yeast. We both hope that none of these produce monumental reactions in us just so we can participate in social functions without feeling like a burden.
5. Things I miss the most: cheese and peanut butter. Sunflower butter and almond butter on rice cakes with dried figs or raisins have been a staple snack for me. Surprisingly, I don’t miss baked goods as much as I anticipated, though we also haven’t had them in the house… 😉

041611 001
Collard Wraps with Sunflower Pate

041611 007
Sunflower Seed Burger with side of avocado and pear

The Whole Life Nutrition Elimination Diet

Husband and I started the Whole Life Nutrition Elimination Diet (“a strict plan designed to promote cellular healing and to allow for the identification of foods that cause an immune reaction”) on April 2nd.  Our reasons?

  1. To see if we could find any triggers to some of the symptoms in our bodies (me = eczema, Husband = migraines)
  2. To show our daughter, who is currently on a gluten-free diet, support
  3. To improve our overall diet (though we had already been using a lot of the recipes out of the book, this seemed like a good jumpstart to get even more whole foods into our meals
  4. To lessen our salty/sugary/fatty cravings
  5. Because what I know about nutrition has expanded so much even since I wrote this post

So here is a little re-cap of our experience so far.

Days 1 and 2:  Green smoothies (with no banana or citrus) and water

Day One was actually the hardest for me.  I could drink as many smoothies as I wanted, ruling out hunger, but the ones I made were really disgusting.  I ditched some of the book recipes and started doing my own recipes (but, of course, including lots of spinach, kale, cabbage, parsley, etc.), and they were slightly tastier.  Don’t get me wrong–I love a green smoothie, but almost every version I’ve ever made has included banana and almond milk, and our blender left a significant amount of pulp.  Using a straw helped me gag them down until I got the hang of “good taste” ratios.  That night I went to bed feeling shivery, nauseous, and achy, much like the flu.  The book says that’s to be expected, so I didn’t worry about it.

I felt much better after a good night’s rest, and we continued with the green smoothies on Day Two.  I have foumd my favorite recipe to be the Minty Green Smoothie on page 97.

Days 3 to 9: Phase 1

Day Three was GREAT for me.  I was so excited to be able to eat real food again, even if not very many foods.  We feasted on lettuce wraps with sweet potato, brown rice with seaweed, adzuki beans and avocado, seasoned with cumin and sea salt.  Yum!  At this point Husband has complained about 3,487 times that “this diet sucks!” and I’ve told him I’d rather have him quit and support me verbally than stay on it and be such a whiner, but he is even more of a stubborn mule than me and presses on.  We eat more of the book’s recipes, like Lentil-Brown Rice Casserole, Coconut Quinoa Pilaf, and Sunny Sunflower Seed Burgers, and he complains a little less (I already knew he liked these recipes from before we started the diet).

I really have noticed a huge change in my sweet cravings. I still like a fig now and then, and maybe a nice medjool date after supper (they have never tasted so caramelly delicious before!), but I’m not wishing for cookies in the afternoons.  This makes me happy.  I do, however, miss peanut butter like it’s my long lost child.  Husband buys me a little tub of sunflower butter, and I spread it on brown rice cakes with slices of fig, and I’m golden.  Though between the two of us we’ve gone through half the tub in 6 days.  Oops! 🙂

The hardest part so far has been the social aspect.  I already was attempting to abstain from gluten most of the time (though haven’t been as good about it since Christmas, other than for pastas, breads, and basics like that), but having to bring my own separate meal to small group meal night wasn’t fun.  It also wasn’t horrible, though. I didn’t feel bad about what I was eating, and I was glad to not have the “I ate too much fatty food” feeling afterward.  Husband was pretty bummed on Saturday, though, when he went to guys’ night and munched on a bag of sunflower seeds and dried fruit while the rest of the guys had beer and wings and cake.  He, too, survived.  But neither of us would want this to be a long-term thing, where we can’t eat anything anywhere because it most likely contains gluten, corn, soy, oats, yeast, dairy or eggs.

I’ll post more later, since we’re now beginning the “re-introducing foods phase” with lemons and limes.


I want to send a big thank you to Shelley for introducing me to this cookbook and for being the guinea pig on the diet, which encouraged me to give it a go.

Dallas, Day Five

had breakfast at hotel
packed up and checked out
drove to Northpark Center and walked around
had (the acclaimed) brunch at Blue Mesa Grill (****1/2 out of *****, it was fabulous)
returned our rental car and passed the rest of the afternoon at the airport
flew home where some sweet friends picked us up
hugged and kissed our kids a bunch (though Markus was a bit tentative around us at first!)

Cool floral arrangement in the lobby of our hotel (blurry)


Most of the containers at Northpark held cacti, which is not common in malls around here!

Crowded Blue Mesa. The brunch is so popular you usually have to wait awhile to get in.

Again, not the typical Minnesotan brunch – it was Tex-Mex fare. But oh so good! And the first meal of the trip that we didn’t split. 🙂

Apparently all-you-can-drink mimosas are a big deal in Dallas. I was able to finish one, and that was enough.

Cool dude at the airport. 🙂

I ran around in that thing pictured behind Husband on Anja’s behalf. It made music. I took this picture for her as well (creeeepy!).

That’s that! Our Dallas trip. Have you gone anyplace lately?

Dallas, Day Four

Slept in
had cereal and juice/coffee in room
drove to Manny’s Uptown (***/*****) for lunch with a high school friend of mine
Had brisket tacos, uptown queso, and Husband had a mango frozen margarita
walked around uptown with my friend, saw his place
went to Breadwinner’s Cafe (****/*****) for dessert, had key lime pie and chocolate seduction cake (key lime was excellent, I’m a hard sell for any non-homemade cake)
stuffed, drove back to hotel
Sat by pool in the sun, then the hot tub
went to Galleria Dallas, shopped
Had supper at Mi Cocina (***/*****) beef taco, pork tamale, cheese enchilada, all decent
back to hotel to relax








I often get tired of dragging my big camera around, so a lot of pics on this trip were taken with my little point-and-shoot, an old Canon Powershot. It’s funny, because even though the camera can’t “do much,” I sometimes like the shots I get with it even more than if I’d taken them with an SLR.

Dallas, Day Three

slept in
had cereal and juice in hotel room
drove to Dale’s Donuts (****/*****) (so small they don’t have a website, but we found them!) – two cake, three glazed, all delicious! (cake donuts had a hint of vanilla)
had Whataburger (**/*****) (Texans call it “waterburger”) for lunch, split a bacon cheeseburger and fries. It was meh
Fossil Rim – fed lots of animals while we drove, took video, bought shirts for the kids
Off the Bone BBQ (****/*****) in south Fort Worth for dinner. Had brisket and ribs with potato salad, fried okra and peppers/pickles/onions mix. Super-good and cheap.  These hole-in-the-wall restaurants have really cemented our opinion that they almost always do it up better than chains.  A. Mazing.
came back to hotel
worked out at the hotel gym
watched “Pretty Woman”
went out to TGI Friday’s for late-night apps (potato skins, boneless wings, fried green beans)

032511 001

032511 002

I always get the best shots of Husband eating. It’s kind of my thing.
032511 003

032511 004

So from far away these might look kind of like MN cows (dairy), but up close they are HUGE (and for beef). You know…everything is bigger in TX. 😉

032511 014

I will spare you the embarrassing Blair-Witch-Project-style video from when a European Red Deer stuck its head in the window of my car, but let’s just say that my mom nearly emptied her bladder watching it. Good comedy. And a zebra pulled the same stunt with similar effects. All over there are signs saying, “These animals behave as if they were in the wild.” My foot. They are trained, because pretty much every car has bags of food for them, to walk up to your vehicle and beg. Wild animals DO NOT DO THIS.

032511 015

032511 016





If you haven’t had fried okra before, you’re missing out. 🙂