Nutrition and Meal Prep

Feeding a first grader

Frey is back in school and I definitely enjoyed a more relaxed summer in terms of meal prep.  Her school is nut-free (is that how it is everywhere?) and she eats both lunch and a snack at school (that we send with her).

Food habits and favorite meal prep recipes for the school year. We eat a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet and our first grader is very active. Here's how we're all staying fed through the school year.

How we eat at home

We don’t have any food sensitivities nor allergies so no special diet per se. However we do aim for nutrient dense foods and focus our efforts on protein, fiber, and healthy fat choices since simple carbohydrates are easy to come by.

We make 90% of our meals from scratch and near 100% is prepared at home. I put more of an emphasis on breakfast and dinner since the kids have been preparing their own lunches for a year or two. However dinner is where variety happens as we eat the same breakfast everyday and lunch is usually leftovers or pb&j. We don’t really do snacks generally speaking unless we are traveling (though I keep cheese sticks, fruit, raw veggies, and cliff bars on hand for grab-and-go foods when we have afternoon plans and need finger-food lunch). Otherwise the food in our fridge / cupboards is for cooking.

Since starting work last year I’ve had to rethink our food prep a bit since I’m no longer home during the day to take care of it. In reality this means our meals have gotten even simpler. Things are changing up again now since school has started and the weather is shifting (into more soup and slow cooker friendly temperatures).

Feeding Frey

I have 3 conditions for food as Frey transitions back to eating away from home:
1. keep prep simple
2. maintain high nutrient density
3. increase autonomy in her food choices

Toward the end of last year Frey was itching for more variety and was asking for hot lunch. We changed up a few things to help her finish the year but come August I started looking for ways to give her what she wanted (without paying for school lunch she probably wouldn’t eat).

As I mentioned, her school is nut free. It’s smart – reduces risk for other kids. But Frey has eaten a pb&j for lunch most days since she was 2 years old. Would’ve been nice to not have to think about it. But I do and so here I am sharing about how I’m planning to maintain density without adding a bunch of food prep to my plate.


Very simple: egg bake and I’m often switching between muffins, baked oatmeal, and waffles.

Our day starts a lot earlier than the kids are used to so keeping their breakfast as familiar as possible – and already prepared – has been essential.

Our egg bake is super simple – I can’t remember where I got it. I’m sure I used some pinterest recipe as a framework.

18 eggs beaten with 1 cup coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound breakfast turkey sausage, cooked
4 oz cheddar cheese

Spray a pyrex dish (9×13) with olive oil, add all ingredients.
I stick it in the oven Monday morning when I wake up. It’s ready in about 40 min (at 375 degrees).

As for the baked oatmeal, last year we’d prepped tons of apples in August so I used frozen apples to make this one:

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal from Five Heart Home

Our mods:

  • Doubled the recipe to get enough for the whole week
  • Throw in an extra 1/2-1 cup apples and 1/2 cup milk to make up for not having applesauce.
  • Swapped walnuts for almonds and reduced the quantity (essentially we just didn’t double it like all other ingredients).
  • We’ve also added zucchini (with a bit more milk) and we’ve swapped out apples for pumpkin puree (using pumpkin spice but the rest is the same).

Since we don’t have apples this year I’m using a mixture of applesauce and raw apples. I also add in pureed butternut squash or pumpkin to get a good moisture level.

We also like these waffles and these muffins. I’ve done shredded apple and squash for the muffins. 


Here’s where I’ve done the most thinking. Have you noticed that most foods geared toward kid’s lunches are either fruit or dairy based? I’ve got nothing against either category, but when it comes to picking quick things for Frey to eat (she doesn’t get very much time) I’d like a bit more than simple sugars and low-fat dairy products.

She did a little investigating while at school to see what other kids were eating and use it as inspiration for what she might want to bring. She happily informed me that Sun butter is acceptable and has also shown the most interest in yogurt. Now it’s my turn to round out her meals so she is getting a good amount of protein, healthy (as unprocessed as possible) fats, and complex carbohydrates. A lot of grab-and-go foods that also claim nutrient density are based on nuts, so it’s taken some time but I think I’ve landed on something.

She is mainly switching between a few lunches:

  • Leftovers! I bought this Thermos and she’s used it so far for leftover tacos and curry.
  • Sun butter and honey (or jelly) sandwich with a piece of fruit and raw veggies.
  • Yogurt with berries


Snacks have been surprisingly difficult – she eats lunch before 11am so her snack needs to be substantive enough to keep her focused, energized all the way until home by 4pm. Again, most store bought options are fruit or dairy based. Nutrient dense options are all nut based. 

I want to keep meal prep easy so this week I’m trying Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Aussie Bites. We got the Costco version during our summer road trip but they were a little sweeter than I wanted. Both kids liked them

I doubled the recipe and switched out sunflower seeds and butter for chopped pumpkin seeds and coconut oil, respectively. I also didn’t fully double the honey and skipped coconut flakes. Overall took a whopping 10 minutes to put together (including grinding oats to flour and chopping up the pumpkin seeds and apricots in my food processor).


Here’s where we eat most of our vegetables for the day.

Throughout the fall and winter we eat a lot of soup, chili, stir fry, and tacos with as many vegetables as I can fit in. There are a couple of times each week when I’m not home until late — Eric and the kids handle dinner those nights, I just leave a recipe behind. I haven’t really needed to do much for meal planning except for a short refresh of my mental options when the weather changes. Essentially, I keep our fridge stocked with vegetables that are good for a variety of soups or favorites for roasting. As the weather cools I usually slow cook a large quantity of meat (chicken thighs, roast beef, pork shoulder) at the beginning of the week to have with roasted veggies throughout the week.

I wouldn’t say I’ve got a particularly novel plan for dinner — during this season I’m not really trying new things. But we’ve accumulated some favorites over the past several years that add variety without much thought required. The best thing I’ve done for our meal planning is develop a framework for meals. I saw it written out for the first time in the book Bread and Wine. But I’d been doing it subconsciously longer than that. Basically, instead of planning specific meals, I have categories of meals for each day of the week. I.e. Taco Tuesday. It’s not always “tacos” but some variation at least. This adds an automatic filter to my mind when I’m thinking about what to make for dinner…narrowing the possibilities and working from a template makes improvisation a lot easier.

There is also a general trend of more involved cooking at the start of the week and faster meals as we near the weekend. That’s usually because the soup and meat I make on Sunday and Monday lasts for lunches through the week and we can improvise a bit more Wednesday and Thursday if I don’t have a meal already in mind — leftovers if we have them or else a quick rice bowl. And we always make our own pizza on the weekend…1 pesto and 1 pepperoni.

One last note:
While not having a plan or forgetting to pull out things from the freezer is frustrating, I don’t do a whole lot of food prep. [[Occasionally I’ll chop veggies on Sunday so they are ready for soup / roasting later in the week…but that’s usually because I’ve run out of fridge space and broccoli takes up less spaced once chopped.]] Instead, I’ve developed enough comfort in the kitchen where making dinner after a long day of class and work is relaxing. I’ll listen to a book or just to the melodic sound of chopping brussel sprouts. It’s recovery. And I’ve already used it a number of times as a moment of self-care before returning to studying.

Nutrition and Meal Prep

10 must try winter soup recipes

Today I’m sharing my guidelines for making a good soup plus 10 winter soup + chili recipes. Soups are an easy way to prepare meals ahead of time, can be packed to the gills with nutrients, and are easy to adapt to whatever you have in the fridge/freezer. Finish out the winter without getting bored in your meal plan!

A recipe round up of 10 winter soup + chili recipes. Soups are an easy way to prepare meals ahead of time, can be packed to the gills with nutrients, and are easy to adapt to whatever you have in the fridge/freezer. Finish out the winter without getting bored in your meal plan! Read more:

Hands down, food is my favorite part of winter. Soups + Chili in the slow cooker all day, the smell of curry, roasted veggies, juicy pot roast – these are my comfort foods.



Since I hear over and over again that meal planning is one of the more frustrating pieces of making healthy changes I’ve decided to begin sharing my pretty simple approach to feeding my family. I’m saving the details of my week-to-week planning for future posts but when I consider what soups to try, I first filter my options through what I call our winter capsule pantry.

Produce staples for winter meals. read more:

In winter, we are going for more root + cruciferous veggies. We ate cucumber and fresh tomatoes to our hearts’ delight last summer…now we’re enjoying cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and celery.

Aromatics like onions and garlic are year-round staples, though we do cut back on them significantly in the summer months opting for the spring varieties instead. Potatoes, lemons, limes, avocado and cilantro are also year-round staples as they stay inexpensive, or in the case of avocado there is a very good reason to keep them around.


Just so you’re aware – we don’t have any food allergies nor do we side with any particular brand of “healthy” eating. We like simple and whole food. We like white rice, classic chocolate chip cookies, homemade pepperoni pizza, and cheddar cheese but I pack in veggies like crazy and we really don’t buy much for pre-packaged food unless it is frozen produce or canned tomatoes. Overall my aim is to help my children develop habits for eating nutrient dense foods and on the road to that I’d rather they eat a small amount of really good food over a large amount of a nutrient-deficient diet.

So what makes a good soup anyway??

I’ve been working on my soup game for a few years now – starting from mostly frozen ingredients + water (read: flavorless). So in case you find yourself new to the making of soup, here’s a few key things to keep in mind as you experiment with what’s in your fridge:

  • Use broth. Whether it’s homemade, from the carton, or made with bullion – broth is an essential component to a good soup. Even for chili.
  • Learn to chop well. You need to think about what is comfortable to eat off a spoon. Carrot, celery, potato – too large and they start making the eating part hard. If they are differing sizes, you’ll end up with some mushy and some crunchy.
  • Season your meat if it is being added in already cooked. It will absorb some of the flavors but, from experience, not enough. Even if it is just salt + pepper.
  • I recommend using a slow cooker. Giving the soup a chance to simmer for hours gives the flavors a nice long time to blend…and you don’t have to stand at the stove.
  • Cook on low setting OR soften onion beforehand. Crunchy veggies are undesirable. Carrots and onions can take some time to soften so if you don’t have time to cook on low (usually 6-8 hours), then saute the onion before putting them in (carrot too if you’re using it).
  • Keep an eye on your liquid level. When I use my slow cooker I always use broth + extra water because the cooking process will evaporate some. Even with chili where you’re going for a denser consistency, insufficient liquid is not tasty. Add more water if the dish is looking too thick (can happen if using a grain that is absorbing some) while everything is still cooking.
  • Follow a recipe until you get a feel for the spice ratios. After a few years of intentional learning in the kitchen I can eye how much cumin to add to my taco soup and I can guestimate how much curry to add to my cauliflower soup. But until you have developed an understanding of how flavors blend + how much is needed to season effectively, follow a recipe. Salty soup is the worst (in my opinion).
  • Add greens right at the end. Kale is great in soup but don’t leave it to cook all day. Just the last 20 minutes or so stir it in. It will turn a bright green and soften slightly but won’t become mushy.
  • Include your kids. We all know that the making of a tradition really sweetens the experience. Slow cooker meals are great in general for little helpers because there’s no hot pan to worry about. I remember the smell of our house on Wednesdays because we always had church so my mom often made Chili in the slow cooker. I also remember the group effort of filling our vegetable tray after grocery shopping. Involving your kids will imprint the beauty of the process of food preparation into their minds + hearts.


The following 10 winter recipes are both my inspiration (for my own creating) and my go-to recipes. I hope they inspire your own cooking as well! You can find all of them + more on my Pinterest page.

Soup Recipes

Copycat Panera Autumn Squash Soup from Kim’s Cravings



Beef taco soup from Simply Recipes



Half Baked Harvest has a Turkey Quinoa Enchilada soup recipe on her blog. I’m ready to dive into that bowl right about now. Whose with me?



Creamy Spiced Cauliflower Soup from Produce on Parade



Zuppa Toscana from The Bewitchin’ Kitchen



Pinch of Yum’s simple + homemade Tomato Soup.



Chili Recipes

Quinoa Chili from Damn Delicious



Chipotle Chili from American Heritage Cooking



White Chicken Chili from Gimme Some Oven (only 5 ingredients!)



Southwest Paleo Chili from Define Fettle




Now that your mouth is watering, comment below with which recipe you plan to try first!

Be sure to show some love to these awesome recipe creators, pin all 10 recipes here!


A recipe round up of 10 winter soup + chili recipes. Soups are an easy way to prepare meals ahead of time, can be packed to the gills with nutrients, and are easy to adapt to whatever you have in the fridge/freezer. Finish out the winter without getting bored in your meal plan! Read more:

movement Nutrition and Meal Prep Raising Capable Kids Self Care

20 Ideas for Winter Self Care (fight the blues + prepare for spring)

Winter in Minnesota can be brutal. We are currently enjoying a short break from the bitter cold but it almost makes it harder – because we know very well that winter can last until June so it’s going to get cold again soon.

That being said, winter is also an opportunity. And I kind of love that it’s in the midst of winter when the New Year comes with all the looking at our progress and the freshness of resolutions. Winter is the perfect time to let go of all the stuff that was draining us dry. Summer and fall often bring lots of commitments and late nights but winter draws us inside where we slow down, cultivate our meaningful relationships, and get more sleep.

Ahhh, I love the rhythm of the seasons.

20 practical ideas for self care during the winter months - action steps for your mental health, relationships, fitness, nutrition, personal development, and home life. Read more:


We need to tailor our self-care to honor the pulling in of winter. I’ve said it many times but it’s always worth reviewing – self-care is about taking the actions that will help you do good work. No matter what occupies the bulk of your time – be it raising children, teaching students, health care, business-building, public service, etc – you need your “down time” to be about replenishing your energy stores and pointing you to your values + intentions. The categories I consider when I brainstorm ways to practice self-care include: general health (including mental health), nutrition, movement, self-development, relationships, and cultivating a life-giving environment.


20 Ideas for winter self-care

General Health (including mental health)

  • Start a bedtime ritualArianna Huffington talks bedtime practices in this Business Insider article and her most recent book, The Sleep Revolution.
  • Start a simple morning ritual – include light movement (yoga, stretching, bodyweight circuit), meditation (use Headspace to get started!) and drinking water.
  • Keep a houseplant (or 10) – select from this list for plants that can help purify your air.
  • Find a conservatory or zoo with indoor exhibits – the rainforest room and Koi pond at Como Zoo and Conservatory are frequent haunts for us as we start itching for spring! Seriously, it’s my therapy.
  • Say “no” to more commitments – practice filtering social engagements and opportunities through your values and goals before committing. Is it a relationship you are purposefully cultivating? Is it a cause that’s important to you? Is FOMO or guilt behind your “yes”? I recommend The Best Yes by Lisa TerKeurst to read more about this idea. Ultimately if you pack all of your down time with obligations (that don’t reenergize you) you are choosing the road to burn out.


  • Shake up your breakfast with nutrient dense + delicious foods I’ve pinned some make-ahead breakfast ideas that will give you a great energy boost as you step into your morning.
  • Increase your greens intake – Like this Kale-Pineapple green smoothie from Lindsey at Nourish Move Love.
  • Take a break from the sweets so you can better tune in to what your body is really craving. Whether you go so far as to do a Whole30 or 21 day sugar detox or not, creating new habits in place of the 2pm sugar-fix can help you with mental clarity, consistent energy levels, and boost your immune system.


  • Try a new workout style or class – keep your interest high by changing things up when the weather outside can make you want to skip everything.
  • Start a Saturday morning movement ritual with a friend! Hold each other accountable to fitness goals with a joint workout then spend a slow morning over coffee + breakfast! Fellow fitness-lover + coach Britany of Define Fettle has an awesome tradition of “burpees then brunch” (she even made a tank about it!). That’s a tradition worth stealing!


  • Say “yes” to more quiet reading – try a new genre or re-read a favorite fiction series instead of watching Netflix.
  • Learn a new skill just because you can – guitar, knitting, painting, your personal style, how to cook Indian food, mastering a new coffee brewing method, etc.
  • Pick an everyday task and turn it into a ritual – washing dishes becomes 10-20 minutes of listing everything you are grateful for, work commute becomes mindful preparation for your day, evening Netflix with roommates or significant other becomes an intentional point of connection before hitting “play.”


  • Initiate a weekly or monthly gathering with friends – trade off hosting – with emphasis on hospitality and deep connection – Shauna Niequist wrote a great book to both inspire + equip you in this area.
  • Start saving money for a summer vacation with friends – give yourself something to look forward to that doubles as incentive to be more thoughtful about your spending.

Life-giving environment

  • Declutter your spaceslet your mantels, corners, and countertops breathe (it doesn’t have to be forever)!
  • Try your chemistry skills: make your own household cleaners, makeup remover, body scrub, etc.
  • Buy fresh cut flowers – one of the beautiful things about our modern culture is a bouquet from California sitting on your kitchen table when it’s snowing outside.
  • Diffuse essential oils into your home – the olfactory nerves make your sense of smell the only sensory input that goes straight to the brain, making it the fastest physical sense to calm or energize!
  • Plan a garden for spring – we’re all thinking about the changing weather anyway so make use of it! Try planting some greens from seed or growing herbs in your kitchen window!
  • Get a head start on spring cleaning – tackle a room per week (or biweekly!) with deep cleaning. No doubt it will give you fresh eyes for your spaces! It may be “work” but it’s also very therapeutic to get rid of dust bunnies. Trust me.


As you can see, I consider a wide-range of activities to be self-care. I mean fresh cut flowers and spring cleaning in the same list?? But after 5 years of shouldering a start up business, becoming a mom, dealing with depression, anxiety, and general low energy – I’ve found that self-care is not the obvious things you think of when you’re on the cusp of burn out. Yes, a massage or weekend away can be helpful but it’s the stuff you do every day to align your life with what really matters that keeps you moving forward despite the responsibilities, stress, and fear. These are what fight against the winter blues, loneliness, and cravings most effectively.

The main roles we play in our lives require us to show up. Solving problems, nurturing people, making wise decisions – they can’t be done well when your time spent alone / away from work is a hodge podge of poor habits and trying to escape stress. Any one of the ideas up there can act as a catalyst for becoming a stronger, more capable woman.


I would love to hear about where you begin. Comment below with one thing (on or off the list) you are going to incorporate into your life in 2017 for better self-care.


Mindfulness and Cognitive Science Neurobiology and Behavior Nutrition and Meal Prep Self Care

How to have a happy holiday

The holiday season is not a black hole. It’s not the proverbial Vegas where anything goes and we’ll just pretend it didn’t happen. But we kinda pretend it is, don’t we? Things like nutrition, movement, and good connections often get pushed aside as we work really hard to enjoy the season. How’s that for paradox.

As if personal life wasn’t enough, five years of marriage to an entrepreneur + running my own business has taught me something else about holiday season: Mid-November through December is always a battle. There’s a lot to do week-to-week and that doesn’t just stop because we got the perfect snowfall or there are Christmas movies that need watching.

So things like nutrition are thrown off but the need to perform remains the same (or is perhaps even raised since available time decreases). Nutrition and human connection are vital assets of quality performance – giving you energy, focus, mental clarity, and stamina. Poor nutrition choices can not only leave you feeling “blah” but also set you up for being down & out in the aftermath. So how do we make this work?

Or perhaps the better question, how do we use the holiday season to our advantage – strengthening the relationships that keep us grounded, celebrating the big and small of the year, and throwing love and hope around like confetti? All of which serve us and our community in the long run but often get stifled by the poor habits that come out when family, food, and stuff enter the picture.

We all want time with our family and friends to feel happy and meaningful. Perhaps overeating and little squabbles feel like a part of the package - but they don't have to be. Here are 12 ways to be mindful during your holiday season and a happier and healthier you. Read more:

So how DO we make this work??

We prepare, my friend.

This post is going to be full of lists. And that’s because it’s going to be full of tools for you to take with you on your holiday vacation, your office party, your neighbor’s open house, New Year’s, and beyond.

To start, let’s set our intention for the holiday season:

  • I will not overstimulate my mind + body with excessive decisions. I will prepare now so I can be present + engaged then.
  • I will use this extra time with friends + family to foster deep connection. I will choose my people over food, comfort, activity, etc.
  • If time with family is usually difficult: I will intentionally spend time with people who love + support me [from grocery shopping to laundry folding to a small holiday party] so I can go into family events anchored to truth even as the tensions rise.

Next list. Here’s what I know about the holidays:

[Getting a handle on the common pitfalls and weak points can help us know where to focus our energy for best results.]

  1. Nostalgia is exciting — and comfortable. We love comfortable and it very quickly becomes the unseen goal of the season if we are not careful.
  2. Food gets a lot of attention. Planning meals for 30 people for 4 days will do that! Unfortunately that leaves many people with guilt, shame, frustration instead of joy.
  3. Scarcity mindset runs rampant – holiday favorites from food to movies to activities, we want it all right now before it’s too late. It becomes an excuse to eat way past full – we lose our minds trying to take it all in [quick!].
  4. Family time dregs up all sorts of memories we want to forget driving us toward our usual numbing habits to stifle connection and sterilize the environment. Social media, sarcasm, overly competitive, food, drink, vegging out, passive aggression, perfectionism – we armor up and coast through at surface level.

It doesn’t have to be that way. So to help you I’ve compiled my best strategies for staying mindful and optimizing for connection during social gatherings. This is straight out of the nutrition portion of my coaching program where I help women establish a habit of moderation in all circumstances.

To begin, here are 6 ways to prepare for successful holiday gatherings:

  1. Picture the people you will see, think about how you want them to feel during the holidays, and especially after they spend time with you. Hold that image in your mind and compare it to eating your favorite dessert or dish – mentally remind yourself that people > food.
  2. Practice mindful meditation – take 10-20 minutes to focus in on your breath, letting thoughts and emotions pass you by. Tuning in to the present will help bring awareness to your decisions and your behavior — your best shot at avoiding old habit pathways. If you’re new to mindful meditation, the free app Headspace has a 10 day intro. Apps Calm and Insight Timer also have lots of free + short meditations.
  3. Prepare a few meaningful questions to ask the people you sit with at dinner or while you’re sitting around or playing games. Especially during meals, having a conversation about an adventure you want to take in the new year or a habit you want to develop can help everyone stay more present and eat slower. Now you’re getting real connection AND you’re more likely to stop eating when you feel satisfied.
  4. Meditate on an abundance mantra as you drive to your event. “I am satisfied”, “I have enough”, “My life is full of blessings”. Focusing your attention on contentment and satisfaction can help you stay sober-minded about food or other habits you have when you’re feeling rushed or not enough.
  5. Alternatively, play a game in the car of naming as many things you’re truly, deeply grateful for as you can. Go 2-4 layers deeper than “my car” or “my family.” Get really specific and say WHY.
  6. Finally, and this is really practical, if it’s an evening event – like a work party or neighborhood party – eat a small meal beforehand. A bowl of soup or chili to take the edge off your hunger. It will be easier to be selective about what you choose to eat if you’ve already gotten some protein + fat in your system. [Also, drink plenty of water.]

To wrap up our holiday lists, here are 6 ways to stay mindful while you are at your holiday gatherings:

  1. If you have a past of restrictive dieting, don’t tell yourself an outright “no” about anything. You are more likely to hyperfocus on it. Instead, I’ve got a couple of guidelines to help you enjoy in moderation:
  2. Neghar Fonooni’s 1st bite rule: Every bite should be as good as the first. As soon as it no longer does, choose to be done. (This means you are paying attention to + tasting every bite). This goes for all kinds of food or drink.
  3. Jill Coleman’s 3-bite rule: When it comes to dessert, take 3 bites and move on. Skip the part where you say “I could never do that!” I promise you can. It will take practice, of course, but you’re bound to have plenty of opportunities in the next few weeks.
  4. Avoid filling your plate full, even for meals. Take small portions and take a break between helpings. Give yourself space to start digesting and make a mindful decision about what you will eat. Remember: it might feel like this is the only time you can eat mashed potatoes, but it really isn’t. You can make them (or buy them) any day of the week.
  5. Make a personal game of telling as many people as you can 1-2 things you like about them specifically or why you are thankful for them.
  6. Lastly, remember that the mind plays tricks (not on purpose…): we have a harder time saying “no” to colorful food – use it to your advantage with vegetables and beware with Christmas cookies. Also, your brain will try to tell you that food (or Instagram) will help you feel less awkward/lonely/uncomfortable. It won’t.


These strategies are designed to pull your attention into the present moment to maximize human connection while minimizing poor nutrition choices. If you can increase the quality of your holiday gatherings, you will return to your work engaged, inspired, and ready to face new problems.

I so deeply hope your holiday season is filled to the brim with connection and meaning. But I know that is hard to come by so these strategies are my gift to you so you can have moments that are filled to the brim. May this be a time when you forego assumptions or putting on a face that garners praise in exchange for real human connection that will take you further into the New Year than anything else.

Mindfulness and Cognitive Science Nutrition and Meal Prep Self Care

How to embrace the limits of the season

We walk through grocery aisles that give us any food we want at any time of day. We scroll websites and find clothes ready to be sent to our door. Hop on a plane and experience a summer day in the middle of your winter. Each one a [mostly] beautiful development in our society that can serve to simplify our lives and widen our gaze beyond our individual contexts.

And easily transformed as the channel through which we expect to have everything we want as soon as we think of it.


Sustainable wellness can only come if you're willing to embrace - not resist - the present. Read more:



What’s the quickest route to overextending yourself? Start seeing life through the “never enough” lens.

As a North Dakotan-turned-Minnesotan, limiting seasons like winter have always been in my life. It’s a rhythm we have to embrace because we cannot will the weather to comply with our hopes and dreams. For a large part of the year, it is dark and cold and windy. We find alternatives to Vitamin D and eat a lot of soup with root vegetables.

What if instead of trying to turn your winter season into summer, you embraced the limitations and let them do the work they are meant to do?

At our house, winter is a time to slow down and get close. We build fires, feed birds, read lots of books, and learn new skills. All things we start to move away from (or do differently, at least) once we can be outside [without 5 layers] again.

I can easily transfer this concept to any area of my life. I’ve had seasons of motherhood where I’ve needed to pull in – huddle closer to just the essentials in order to preserve my energy + focus for going deep and heavy into raising little people.

As a family we have been in seasons of setting limits on our time and the types of things we do because we’re working together to grow a business into a sustainable living.

If we choose to zoom in on the stuff we can’t do, then we will grow to resent the present. We will try to force the season to be different. We will say yes to things as if the commitment somehow makes our lives different. Overextension, overcommitment, always reaching for what we think we must have right this second.

But what is winter, really? Sure, on the surface we see dormant trees and green >> brown. We see creatures go into hiding. But why do they do that? To gather their strength. To prepare for a new season of extension and outpouring when the necessary resources are abundant.

If you’re in a season where the stuff coming in is more limited, by necessity, let that change your level of output. It’s not giving up. It’s being human.

The giant oak tree drops its leaves and goes quiet in response to the waning hours of sunlight and decreased access to water. It knows that trying to produce acorns in January would likely lead to death (“knows” being a loose term, of course). But by flowing with its environment, it can come forth again to do what it is designed to do >> provide beauty, shade, and make new little oak trees.

Rather than lamenting what you can’t do, look instead to what you can. Living simply – a well-worn path to sustainable wellness – includes doing the work for today that will, little by little, prepare you to plant new seeds and reap new harvests. In the time that is allotted.

Nodding your head with me? Read these articles to get started:

  1. A call to wellness: How you see yourself matters
  2. How to start a wellness journey
  3. How to transition from work >> home
movement Nutrition and Meal Prep Self Care

How to get started on your own wellness journey

How do you become the person you want to be? How do you take that image of your life that’s buried deep in your mind – possibly feeling like a long lost dream – and start to bring it into reality? A key ingredient to any “transformation” story involves a moment when the person first began to believe they could become the person they wanted to be. Perhaps it was through a health scare, a personal intervention, or the encouragement of trusted voices – each story is unique but contains this turning point where the status quo becomes unacceptable. You love your work. But it’s burning you out. It’s time to find balance + connection to yourself and your mission on your very own wellness journey.

We all love transformation stories. But how do you inspire your own life change? Learn the first step to starting your own wellness journey. Growth happens when we learn to give our own bodies, hearts, and minds what they need. Read more at


How can you encounter that moment for yourself?

Redefine “normal”

I want to tell you something: It starts with you. You looking at you. Your needs, desires, and where you are at in both right this minute. It’s tempting to look somewhere else – at your job, your kids, your relationships, your community – and try to arrange them *just so*. It’s harder to assess our own selves. Our behaviors, how we spend our time, the beliefs we hold that keep us from doing for ourselves what we really need to thrive and be truly effective in our work.


But I also see you setting too-low of expectations for yourself. Namely, for your level of well-being.


Sure, we joke about it all the time in our various spheres — that spread-too-thin feeling that comes just a little bit before the kids are in bed, or in the final weeks before Christmas break. I’ve come across plenty of memes and hilarious tweets giving accurate description to how our energy and passion ebbs and flows throughout the year. With the sad reality being a multitude of people living below their potential while they numb out on social media or Netflix because they can’t figure out how to nudge their lives into a sustainable rhythm of pouring out, taking in, and growth.


Don’t let these trends tell you what is normal.


Only having enough energy to make it to the closing bell or to the kids’ bedtime is surviving. We want more for ourselves.


Build a picture of where you are right now.

It’s difficult to go on a journey without a map. And maps require a starting point.

In our context we’re talking about a journey to better balance + connection in your life. We want to move beyond burn out into the habits and skills that allow you to continually expand your capacity for pouring out by paying special attention to replenishing your stores.

We often hear the word “self-care” thrown out around this time. I should know, I use it myself. But I tend to expand the word beyond taking physical care of your body. A massage or nightly face-mask sounds great but let’s dig deeper. Self-care is anything + everything you need to do to help yourself keep going on your mission. Maybe you can’t rattle off your very own mission statement but we’re talking about that thing you are investing yourself in. Might be your work, might be your kids — whatever it is, seeing your dream come to fruition requires a level of performance you won’t find by accident.


Self-care might look like:

  • The number of hours you sleep in any 24-hour period
  • The amount + style of physical movement you do each day
  • Calming techniques throughout the day that help you release anxiety + refocus your energy
  • The steps you take to keep yourself from getting distracted during the work day
  • The frequency + the way you spend time with loved ones
  • Your personal strategies for coping with disappointment, rejection, or unforeseen obstacles
  • How you prepare for the week / month / year ahead
  • What projects / roles you say yes to
  • The foods you eat throughout the day
  • Your morning + evening routines
  • The way you go about solving problems that pop up day-by-day
  • And more


In each area of your life you are taking stock of what will move you forward – increasing your own fulfillment as well as you efficacy. This information will help you start to see where your current journey is taking you. That clearer picture is what we need in order to draw a map from now —-> where you want to be. That is how you bring life to your wellness journey.


So, what’s the first step to starting a personal wellness journey?

We certainly can’t start to tackle every area of your life at once! You may have even tried that already. Research indicates that the best place to start when looking for change is to assess your starting point. Where are you now – what situations currently lead to a sense of fulfillment and what circumstances tend to leave you feeling lost, stuck, or confused? Then, you can start to zero in on these various circumstances and build the understanding + skills necessary to bring about the desired outcome.

Remember: We call this a journey because it takes a gradual one-step-in-front-of-the-other approach. The learning of new skills that develop into habits is its own beautiful science because it’s not a one-and-done kind of thing.


Your homework:

I’ll close our time together today with questions to get you started building your own self-awareness. The important thing is that you start to get curious about your current self – and that you be honest. You cannot grow if you aren’t willing to take a close look at the input / output of your life.


  1. What events or habits (that you currently have) leave you feeling refreshed + ready for action?
  2. What events or habits leave you feeling calm or content? What does the transition look like between these actions → getting back to work?
  3. What activities have you seen yourself grow in throughout the past few months? Where have you intended to grow but haven’t seen much progress?
  4. What behaviors do you tend to fall back on when you feel stressed? Sleeping more? Netflix? Eating out? Spending more time alone? Easily irritated?
  5. When you simulate the above behaviors and trace them backwards, what kinds of things tend to trigger them? Asking yourself what’s for dinner? Hearing your kids fight? Looking through Instagram? A difficult day at work?
  6. Write down a typical day in your life. You could even do this as the day progresses. How many times do you hit snooze, how often are you picking up your phone to check email/social media, how often are you experiencing those moments of awe + wonder that make our efforts feel worth it (and what situations does it tend to happen in), how do you feel prior to lunch / dinner, what’s your pre-bed routine, etc.
  7. What do you think about right before you fall asleep? What are your thoughts as you first wake up? What about at the end of the work day?
movement Nutrition and Meal Prep Self Care

A call to wellness: how you see yourself matters

What would it look like for you to value your wellness at the same level you value the people you work with? What if we challenged our typical view of always-trying-harder until we simply burn up?

We each contain within us a beautiful system of biological processes that enable us to do things like regenerate cells, find solutions to never-before-answered problems, and connect across space with other human beings. True wellness is the pursuit of living in this fully human experience. The better we get at understanding + supporting our own biology, the more we will be able to step up, engage, and connect with the world around us and our place in it.


You are more than a part to be consumed. Your personal wellness will become easier to pursue when you start to see yourself for who you are - biological processes and all. Here's why you need to stop seeing yourself as an organism. More at


There’s a statement I read in an article that has been turning around in my head for so long that I can’t find the article again. It went something like this:


We keep trying to treat ourselves like we are machines when in fact we are organisms. We, as organisms, move circularly rather than linearly.


We hum along in a rhythmic pattern instead of a droll assembly line. This is why we see so much of ourselves and our lives in the natural world around us – because they too live in rhythm.


As I dig in the dirt planting bulbs in the cool October soil I’m drawn to thoughts of how temperature signals my own biological systems to change up the priority scheme. Did you know that the fall is the best time to plant shrubs? It’s the time of year when they will push their roots deep into the earth and focus their efforts on a sturdy foundation, while in the spring and summer they are more focused on reproduction.


Whether we are hardwired to think in terms of seasons or if it’s more an long-standing + ingrained cultural norm, I’m not sure yet, but the older I get the more frequently the women around me talk about seasons. Harkening our minds back to the wise King who tells us there is a season for everything (or perhaps a rebellious Kevin Bacon is more your style?).


When I’m digging in the dirt or watching my children eagerly wait for the falling leaves, I’m soothed by this reality of seasons. Like the turning tide, it comes because we need it to. Because there are different processes that need to take place for fullness of life. As sleep is necessary on a daily basis for the regeneration + cleansing of our cells so we move through important human moments on a larger time scale.


But when I’m talking to fellow moms or women immersed in their own versions of “busy season” it sounds (+feels) more like a prison than the melodic orchestration of a Creator. Like Calvin, who yells at the sky demanding for snow to fall, we ache for the next season to get here. Like now. Right now. Or we resign ourselves to the lie that this is going to be the rest of our lives.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to manifest out loud to my husband that I’m anxious my son is going to be 2 for the rest of his life. As silly as it sounds (especially to the non-moms out there), some days just get us to the point where we think we might actually have to tear out of our skin if we have to live one more day in this season. One more day of anxiety. One more day of too-loud children. One more day of all our efforts making zero difference. One more day of no time for ourselves.


So we pat ourselves on the back and try to see a silver lining – “It’s a season!” An exhausting season.


How do we get to the point where we can sense the melody? How do we return to ourselves as organisms with bodies flowing + grooving to the beat?


I think it’s circular. When we see ourselves as organisms, we feel like it too. We hear the music.


A machine can go for a time without a repair. Once it’s built it can thrum along doing its job – giving its attention to others. No need to pay attention to self until its parts are consumed. Then replace them and keep truckin’. It doesn’t matter to a machine if it is day or night, or whether it is running a single cycle or a hundred. It runs the same.


But we are not machines. And it is a mistake to believe that we can go seasons without regular maintenance. We can’t just plug ourselves into the wall and go, go, go. We have to circle back to restore our cells and our hearts daily – even more than just during our sleep!


We are more like a tree than a car.

A tree can produce fruit because it receives from the roots and leaves at varying degrees throughout its life cycle. It does not stop taking in carbon dioxide or water while it pushes out flowers. This is actually when it is the neediest.


We are designed to regenerate on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. You cannot expect to continue on successfully throughout your career operating as a machine. In your neediest seasons – the ones when you’re swamped with projects or your kids are struggling or your team is trying to overcome an unforeseen obstacle – these are the times when you have to double check your soil is good and get that extra bit of water.


But more often we feel the drought and decide it must be that we’re meant to go the long haul on our own. We let our external cues dictate our rhythms instead of the God-given internal cadence.


You are not a part to be consumed and replaced.

Your work environment might lead you to believe you are. Your work load might lead you to believe you have to. But that is not the melody you were made for.


The path to wellness looks different in different seasons. We wouldn’t call a leafless tree in January “dead.” But does your fall + winter lead to pushing up new shoots in May and a bountiful harvest in August? Or does it leave you clawing for oxygen and ready to sleep when your leaves should be breaking free? Can you rejoice during the holiday season or is it spent in recovery + anxiety?


Around here we won’t pretend that everyone’s wellness should look the same. But we will talk about wellness and performance as if you’re an organism that lives in a particular kind of rhythm. And I think you’ll find that when we talk as humans, you’ll start to see + feel the beautiful melody that envelops you inside and out. And you’ll want to dance to the beat.



movement Nutrition and Meal Prep Self Care

15 super-easy self-care ideas for creative entrepreneurs

Self-care can happen easily within the everyday business life. What it takes is remembering you are human – and that you don’t exist inside a business-running bubble. One way to incorporate self-care into your normal day is to step into the natural rhythms of the world around you – like the changing seasons.


So it’s spring now. Pretty great, right? I mean, parts of the midwest got hit with 12 inches (!!!) of snow last week but my tulips have started popping out of the ground and there are robins everywhere. Perhaps where you are winter doesn’t feel like a real season but up here in Minnesota I’m typically feeling the need for a significant change up in our routines once playing outside without 10 extra pounds of gear is possible.


There are certain habits that become “normal” with long + cold winter nights. Delicious + heavy dinners, snuggling up on the couch to watch a few shows before bed, and working long hours – because it’s warm here in this chair and it’s too cold to drive to the gym. Am I right? Well, my gym is upstairs and there are plenty of days where even that feels too cold.


Whatever your winter habits are, changing seasons can be the prompt you need to switch it up and get inspired by a new environment + new routines. So this week I’m going to give you a nice long list of ideas for daily self-care.


We all know we need self-care but what actions with actually help you refuel + refocus? Here are 15 super-easy to implement ideas for the creative entrepreneur. More at

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Before we jump in to the list let’s define a few things. “Self-care” has become a popular term and can therefore have a variety of definitions associated with it. The way I like to define self-care is the actions you take to prepare yourself to keep going. As a business owner, wife to a start up CEO, and a mom to two kiddos, stressed + tired is just a part of the job I signed up for. Personally, I think the adventure we are on is worth it. And research indicates stress is what we make of it. When people talk about self-care they are often looking for that elusive balance. Instead of balance though, let’s look at priorities. If you prioritize a refreshed + focused brain, your work, relationships, family life, and other hobbies will all benefit. Focus on the right things and the rest falls into place. Ultimately, you have to choose how to spend your energy + make time for the right things.
Related: 4 sign posts for building self-awareness into your day
Self-care is what you do to help you operate at your best. It’s recognizing your humanity and setting the tone of the environment so you can be free to BE HUMAN. For me, I safeguard my sleep. In fact, the other night I actually told my work “goodnight” even though I was still getting bombarded with to-do’s. I know that to be my best for my kids, I can’t be running on anything less than 7 hours of sleep. So on the days I wake up early, I take naps to catch up. It’s one of the big things that make our current life choices sustainable.
Last week I wrote about the positive effects of a walk outside on your productivity. Similarly, this list today goes back to principles of how the human brain works and the positive outcomes associated with practicing mindfulness, quality nutrition, movement, and experiencing nature. Remember, self-care doesn’t have to happen on a designated day. It can easily be sprinkled in throughout your work day. And when you do that – when you take time to release your mind and rejuvenate – you will boost your creativity AND make it easier to focus on the task at hand.
Ok, on to the list! (The ** indicate great options for the mompreneurs who are with their kids throughout the day. Getting yourself in the zone for short bursts of work is hard – use to rejuvenate while with your kids and use others to transition from mom-duty to work mode!)

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Spring-specific tips for self-care

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  1. **Keep a picnic blanket / towel in your car for a few minutes of sitting in the sun before / after an away-from-home workday or meeting.
  2. **Schedule a walk around the block – take note of the scenery changes as spring progresses
  3. **Read at the park instead of the couch
  4. Schedule active dates with girlfriends – drink your coffee while you go for a walk instead of sitting
  5. **Get to the farmer’s market — start getting to know some of the vendors – human connection win!
  6. **Buy a seedling of cherry tomatoes for a home grown snack through the summer
  7. **Plant some wildflower seeds
  8. Buy yourself some flowers weekly
  9. Drink your morning coffee outside on your steps listening / watching for the birds
  10. Open your office window and take a few minutes between tasks to focus on the fresh air and the sounds
  11. Use the natural rhythm of our agriculture to enjoy lighter, rejuvenating meals — spring time brings tons of salad greens, small radishes, snap peas, etc
  12. If you have a private area – like a deck or patio – try some yoga outside in the morning or on a work break.
  13. **Take some time during a spring rain to just watch the puddles form or listen to the pounding on the sidewalks
  14. Take a short nap (20-30 minutes) in the warm patch of sunlight streaming in on your couch — use that time to empty your mind, like a meditation. Even if you don’t fall asleep, you will feel refreshed. Be gentle with yourself – it takes practice to not just lie there ruminating on your growing list of tasks.
  15. **If you’re a pen + paper kind of planner, do it outside (bonus if it’s while the kids play by themselves!) — And remember to take some deep breaths + enjoy the world around you. It’ll help you get perspective while looking at the mountain you have planned for the day.




Here are a few more ideas that require a little bit more time but could really help you enjoy the changing season. How often does it seem like a season just passed you by (especially the transitional seasons like spring + fall)? Schedule in ways to enjoy the beautiful weather before the heat + humidity makes every activity require a pool or a beach!

Go to the zoo!

Observing the animals (the primates are our current favorite around here) can be a way to force yourself into the present. Don’t feel like you have to spend a whole day on it even if you pay to get in. An hour or two of walking around or even sitting and watching can be a great extended break. Bring a cup of coffee and just let yourself be.

Go on a nature walk!

The trees change so fast from bare to fully leaved. Make an effort to see the buds + celebrate the changes. There are plenty of analogies between the reawakening of the trees + our own human growth cycle. Take time to observe it and express gratitude for the many ways you also sprout + grow after winter-like life seasons. Plus, spring wildflowers are the best.

Clear the clutter in your house!

There’s a reason spring cleaning is a thing. At the end of winter our homes (and therefore our minds + hearts) can feel heavy. Don’t just put your winter clothes back in the plastic bag for next year – use the switch out to remove the items you never wore, are now worn out, or realized didn’t give you that oomph you were going for. Make a list of the things you might keep an eye out for for next winter. You can do the same things with kid clothes + toys. As they transition to playing outside more, think about what toys they will have outgrown by fall and just get rid of them. Or put away some of the ones that will last to be like new again later.

Important note: this will be an overwhelming task if you try to do it all at once. You’ve got a business to run and other projects should accommodate! So make a list of rooms / closets / items and just add a little thing to your list each week or an even littler thing each day. Make your “donate” pile while you fold laundry, separate toys as you clean up at night. When you’re growing a business, the rest of life should be simple. It’s the only way balance will happen.