Baked Delicata Squash!

I have been waiting all dang summer for it to be fall so that I could get my hands on a delicata squash again. If you haven’t experienced the goodness of this squash- trust me, you have been missing out! Delicata squash is the king of all squash, its time to up your squash game! I’m all about seasonal eating. Why would I eat strawberries in the middle of the winter when I know they won’t be at the top of their game? Well with fall comes pumpkin, apple, and squash season!

Delicata squash is suppppperr easy to cook, and has a sweet flavor that leaves me swooning every single time I make it! Unfortunately they are not the easiest produce to find. However, Trader Joes never disappoints with my fall time favorites and I even spotted them at Whole Foods last week too!

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First, throw that sucker in the microwave for about 2 minutes so that it’s soft enough that you can cut it in half without also cutting off one of your limbs…trust me- this is necessary. Now, scoop out all the seeds and it’s ready to bake! Drizzle your squash with your favorite EVOO and toss it in your oven [I use my toaster oven] at 350 for about 8 minutes. Then it’s time to fill that bad boy up!

The good thing about delicata is that you can eat the skin! It bakes really well and becomes very tender. My favorite way to cook delicata squash is with an Italian spin. Here’s what I used on mine!

 

Ingredients

While your squash is cooking, cook your meat! Then scoop it into the squash with the mozzarella and top it with the marinara! Now, time to bake for about 10 minutes. I took mine out after 10 minutes and added a little more sauce and cheese on top and then broiled it until the cheese got melty and brown (a couple of minutes give or take.)

 

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Wahh-laaa! Easy peasy! And its’s great as a meal prep because it heats up well and doesn’t get all soggy!

Enjoy! And tag me if ya make it! #katiescardiokitchen @kburg21

PMA Fresh Summit Recap

I often send snaps of myself at the local produce stand and jokingly say I’m “at my happy place.” But honestly, I really do get excited when I walk into the produce market and pick out all the fresh foods that I will get to incorporate into my meal plan for the week. When NatureFresh approached me about attending the PMA Fresh Market Summit as a social media influencer I was beyond excited! I mean…c’mon, the PMA Fresh Summit is one of the largest produce conventions in the world, of course I couldn’t turn down the opportunity (even if it did mean I had to face my fear of driving on the interstate)!

Rewinddddd. So my boyfriend is always giving me a hard time about how I have made it 28 years without driving on the interstate. Technically- I made it 2 weeks short of 28 😉 and that takes dedication! But in all seriousness, interstates and traffic just don’t fend well with me. So when I decided to make the trek to Orlando, I knew this was going to be a ride for the books! Everything started out smoothly…packed up the car (as I was arriving a day early to stay with a local friend) and off I went! About 40 minutes in to my 2.5 hour drive my phone spontaneously turns off and I was unable to turn it back on. Hello anxiety. Luckily I had programmed the address into my car’s GPS. 10 minutes later…the car next to be blows a tire and there are debris flying all around my car. I tried to remain calm as my heart began to race and my hands gripped the wheel with angst. All I could think of at this time is that if I drive off the road I don’t even have a phone to call anyone! Luckily…I made it to my friend’s house (but not without a few more bumps in the road along the way) and her husband was able to fix my phone. Thanks Toby!

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Finally, Friday –which means it’s time for the Summit!

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We arrive at the Orange County Convention Center only to find there is no parking in the west wing. I was unaware of the size off the convention center. We parked on the south side and had to take a shuttle to the west wing. Why would you have to shuttle from one side of a building to another you ask? Yeah, I asked the same thing…the building is literally.that.big. Anyway…. we made it! Our tickets were ready for us at registration and we eagerly entered the doors to the Expo.

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“ahhhhhhhh” Yeah, that was the sound of the angels singing as we entered the land of produce. Could it be true that I was in a room with hundreds and hundreds of companies representing the global produce and floral supply chain from supplies, producers, growers, packagers, transporters, and everything in-between.

Our first stop of course was to visit NatureFresh! I am in complete awe of this great company. Firstly, their tomatoes are AHH-mazing! Their tomberries (the smallest tomato in the world) is also in my opinion the best tomato in the world 😉 It was such a pleasure to finally meet  Kara and have the opportunity to talk with Peter, the president and founder of the company as well as Ray, the director of business development.img_4290 Standing in the middle of this great event, chatting about health and changing the world was a very memorable experience for me. It was so refreshing to be surrounded with such positive people. I am humbled by the opportunity that I was given by this company and I cannot thank them enough for inviting me to tag along! All I can say is, wow. I was thoroughly impressed. I’m excited to watch this company grow more and can’t wait until I can buy all of their goodies at my local grocery store!

 

Now it was time to explore! I have never eaten so.much.guac in.my.life. I promise. And I’m not complaining! Guac on hot dogs, guac on tacos, chips, crackers, vegetables, blueberry guac, guac.on.guac. Sign me up! I tried it all! We had everything from bloody marys, to vegetable jerky, to carnival grapes, apples, BLTs, caprese salad, kraut, chocolate covered everythinggggg, coconut water, fresh nuts, fruits, vegetables, salads, seasonings, fruit juices, fresh cider, and soooo muchhh moreee. Let’s just say- I didn’t leave with an empty stomach 😉

Five hours of exploring the land of produce until my heart was content. I met some really awesome companies that I’m excited to work with and create some yummy new recipes for y’all! Starting with these yummy breakfast tacos I made this morning! Details are linked in the picture on my Instagram!

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Goodfoods

Twang

Happy Cooking!

 

#katiescardiokitchen @kburg21 #freshsummit #pmafreshsummit

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shout out to all these yummy companies for providing me with snacks for daysssss!

Sweet tater toast!

Who doesn’t love a good slice of toast?! I feel like millennials have taken toast to a whole new level- I mean come onnnnn, avocado toast y’allll! But what’s better than a perfectly ripe avocado smashed onto a slice of bread…a perfectly ripe avocado smashed onto the perfected baked slice of sweet potato! Trust me- it’s even better than it sounds. I hated sweet potatoes for virtually my entire life…and this last year they have become one of my staples in my refrigerator. However, I’m still not a fan of a baked sweet potato…there’s nothing like the real thing there if I want a juicy loaded tater I’m going all in!

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Back to sweet potatoes…they are utterly delicious and I eat them for breakfast at least 3 days a week. So today I was craving some good sweet potato toast… I’m never really sure what I’m going to use for toppings because you can literally put anything on them and it’s a flavor burst in your mouth. I usually just dig through my refrigerator and grab some ingredients that need to be used up anyway and toss them on a slice.

First and most importantly you’ve got to pick the perfect sweet potato that’s worthy of toasting. I typically always have at least one potato that I keep on hand just for toast! It’s got to be long enough but not too skinny and not too fat…but also it has to be about the same size around throughout the whole potato! None of those- fat in the middle skinny on the ends kinda sweet potatoes. I feel like the people at the produce stand definitely judge me as I dig through the sweet potato crate in search of the perfect tater but hey! a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! Right!?

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Now, in order to slice the potato evenly and without cutting off one hand I toss mine into the microwave for 1-2 minutes (just long enough to make it not feel like a total brick.) Then I slice the potato into 3-4 slices depending on the size of the potato.
Now drizzle with your favorite oil- I use LaTourangelle Artisian garlic oil and season mine with Primal Palate breakfast blend because -YUM. Now toss them on a rack in the toaster oven for about 10-12 minutes at 400, then broil for about 3-4 minutes to crisp them babies up! While those are toastin’ away –prep some toppings!

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Like I mentioned before you can top yours with any of your favorite toast toppings! But here’s was I scavenged up to top mine with today…
Slice 1
1 scrambled EgglandsBest egg with @fairlife milk
Ole choizo
Cacique queso fresca
Chopped green onions

Slice 2
½ avocado smashed
1 sliced grape tomato
Feta
Chopped green onion

Slice 3
President CheeseGarlic herb cheese spread
1 slice crumbled ButterBallTurkey low sodium turkey bacon (this is my ABSOLUTE favorite bacon)
A handful of frozen roasted corn from TraderJoes
Cacique queso fresca
Chopped green onion (are you seeing a trend here 😉 )

Slice 4
Soom Tahini
Strawberries
Blueberries
Drizzled with original Sunbutter
And sprinkled with Salba chocolate covered chia seeds

And of course I had to have a fried egg  seasoned with  FreshJaxto dip my toast in the runny yolk because what’s toast with a runny yolk for dippin’?!

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Enjoy!
Simple, healthy, and oh so satisfying!
Tag me if ya make ‘em!
#katiescardiokitchen @kburg21

September 3rd- What is means to me…

You know how certain dates kind of hit home- they bring up old feelings, remind you of past experiences, celebrations, moments of pure joy and mile stones for accomplishments. We celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, sobriety, holidays, and then we countdown the days until we get to celebrate them once again. But there are also those dates that remind us of difficult transitions, of loss, and goodbyes.

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My hippie momma!

 

For me- September 3rd is a day that resonates with me. To me- it’s a day of celebration as well as a day of mourning. Because on September 3rd, 2013 I lost my best friend, my confident, my world came crashing down around me in a matter of seconds. On September 3rd, I unexpectedly lost my mother. Fast forward 2 years and September 3rd, 2015 I made the biggest life decision I have ever made. I had weight loss surgery that forever changed my life. You see… every day of the year marks the beginning and the end of something for someone out there…and for me…September 3rd marks both the start of a new life and the ending of another- in more ways than one.

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September 3rd, 2013

The day my world changed. I was a new grad nurse and had just started my first day of orientation as a Registered Nurse in Florida. My parents were back in Indiana spending the summer at their lake house and had just closed up for the year. Sadly, my cousin had just passed away from undiagnosed condition known as myocarditis. She was a young nurse back in Indiana and it was a total shock to everyone around her. My parents were on their way back to our hometown where the services were being held. They were driving two cars and like any other trip back home they always stopped for ice cream at the halfway mark. They had only been back on the road for 10 minutes when my mother’s car left the road, hit an embankment and plunged into a tree. I cannot fathom the feelings my father must have felt as he witnessed this unfold before him. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, my mother was gone. We will never know what caused her car to go off the road. There are so many unanswered questions that will forever go through my head.

The days following her accident are all a blur. Flying back to Indiana. Saying goodbye to my mother for the last time. Days passed by..months…a year…2 years…

Rewind a few years…

I had always been the bigger girl…in middle school…high school…I had convinced myself that I was built that way. That I had a larger frame than the other girls I knew. I tried dieting. I tried exercising. I fell off the wagon time and time again. I felt like no matter what I did I would always be “big.” I would spend weeks losing 20 pounds and felt like it only took a few days to gain it right back. Each time I failed I become more and more discouraged with myself. And when I lost my mother I totally gave up on myself. I fell into binge eating. Fast food ruled my life. My life was spiraling out of control and I had no one to blame but myself. Until one day something clicked inside of me. I wanted better for myself. And my mother would have wanted that too. That was the day I decided I was having weight loss surgery.

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As many of you know, you don’t just decide you are having surgery and then you have it the next week. There are months of supervised diets, psych evals, dietary consults, weigh ins, insurance approvals, and mental preparation that go into having  surgery. I think that the scariest decision I ever made was actually deciding to have surgery…and the second was the day I decided to tell my family. I was terrified that they would not be supportive, afraid of being judged and scared that they wouldn’t approve of my decision. I know that my father (having lost 100 pounds without surgery) was not thrilled with my decision, but he supported me regardless of his reservations. Today, I can confidently say that he would agree that having gastric sleeve surgery was the best decision I ever made for myself.  I still remember getting the phone call from my surgeon’s office stating that I was approved for surgery and that they scheduled me for September 3rd. Of all days. September 3rd. I wasn’t sure how my mother would have felt about my choice to have weight loss surgery. For me- this was the sign I had been looking for. I felt like this was her way of telling me that I was making the right decision and that she supported that.

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September 3rd, 2015

The day my life changed….again!

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The day of surgery!

I arrived at the hospital at 5 am- full of every emotion from one end of the spectrum to the other-fear, excitement, anxiety, joy, and hope.  I spent months preparing for this day. For the day that would change my life forever. And all I could do was hope that I was making the right decision. My hospital stay did not go as smoothly as anticipated. I spent countless nights in the ICU with kidney failure after having an allergic reaction to medications. I don’t remember much from those days because I was so ill that I could barely think. But I can tell you if I had to do it all over again- I wouldn’t change a thing. My experience as a patient taught me so much about being on the other side of the hospital bed. As a nurse it’s difficult to relate to patients when you haven’t experienced being a patient yourself. My entire experience has helped be become the person I am today. I am beyond grateful for that.

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Finally out of ICU and pug came to visit!

 

September 3rd, 2018

Today! Today marks 5 years since I lost my beautiful mother. My mother was a saint in all of its meaning. She was the bravest, strongest, most awe inspiring woman I have ever known. I never met a soul that didn’t admire her. She had the most contagious smile with a laugh that could fill the whole room. The lady that taught me how to live and more importantly – how to love. They say that time heals. That eventually it doesn’t hurt as bad. But that’s not true at all. I’ve learned that although time doesn’t heal the wounds in my heart from losing you- I have gotten stronger over these past 5 years. Growing up we don’t anticipate life without our parents until much later in life. I’ll never understand why you had to leave us so early. But I’ll forever cherish the years I did have with you by my side. Thank you for teaching me all the important things during your lifetime but also for the lessons you taught me after you left this earth. Since you’ve been gone I’ve learned how truly special life is. Life is precious. It’s temporary and should never be taken for granted. The present moment is where life happens. Right here, right now. Take a deep breath and experience life in the present time. You can’t spend your life second guessing your past or waiting to live your life in the future. All you have is now. This moment. Loss can bring unexpected blessings into your life. When you experience enormous losses you open up your soul for healing love from new sources. I am in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit. Love is the true meaning of life. It’s so easy to get caught up in school, careers, and material items. But really all you need is love. Love is what matters. Love is what’s remembered. And love will last forever.

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Today I am 3 years post from my gastric sleeve surgery. I am down over 120 pounds and have been maintaining here for 2 years. The weight did not magically fall off. It took a lot of discipline and hard work to get to where I am today.  I lost a lot in order to gain so much more. This experience has not only given me my health- but it’s given me an entirely new outlook on life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not overcome the obstacles I encountered to get here. It’s taken me a long time to realize that my weight does NOT define me. All the negative feelings I once felt about myself did not magically disappear when I lost weight. I had to take it upon myself to look within myself and find the love that I so desperately needed. We are all creators of our own happiness. Love who you are today and tomorrow will become easier.

 

September 3rd is an emotional day in my house. It symbolizes the last day that my mother walked on this earth and it represents a new beginning in my life. The day my life changed- in so many ways.

That’s what September 3rd means to me- every day has a significant meaning for someone. What’s your day?