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5 1/2 years later…

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My college experience is not your traditional one.

I know some of you, definitely my parents, were like wait, she hasn’t graduated yet?! To be honest, I myself was starting to think this day would never come! But I am happy to report that as of December 15, 2017, I have completed my undergraduate bachelor’s degree of science in Dietetics! (YAYY) To say this has been a long time coming is no understatement! It truly has been the most taxing, lengthy, confusing at times, BUT most rewarding experiences of my life. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to even be given the opportunity to go to college, especially without any student loans. It is not a gift I take lightly and I forever owe my parents for giving me this chance (and then some) !!

But to truly grasp the extent of my excitement, accomplishment, and even my gratitude—I have to take you back to my senior year of high school. To put things into perspective, 18 year old Kelsey was in a (what I thought to be) serious relationship that was “guaranteed” to result in marriage. When you are in an all consuming relationship like this at a young age, you lose so much of yourself. It’s like you don’t know who you are without the other person. That is exactly where I was at. Because of this, I was not very motivated about college. I didn’t know what my interests were and I didn’t really care. I wanted to be with this one person and that was it. For some reason, my parents decided to keep me from attending the same college as him–so I went off to Illinois State. I spent one miserable semester there before calling it quits and coming home. Meanwhile, my boyfriend and I were struggling to do long distance and it was becoming evident to me that he was pulling away. While I was home, I decided to enroll in a local community college, do some general education credits—while trying as often as I could to visit him on the weekends…

You can probably see where this is going. Yup, he dumped me. And I have to say, It was the greatest blessing in disguise because it forced me to get my life together. But at the time, it was like my whole life was falling apart. Like everyone around me was going on with their lives and I was stuck on pause. As you can probably imagine, I went into a deep depression that I didn’t see myself recovering from. Because without him, what did my life even mean? Writing this now, it is easy for me to remember back to this exact moment, these exact thoughts, but it is also easy for me to recognize how toxic and unhealthy this relationship was becoming. Due to my mental state, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to school, so I took the semester off. And when I finally felt up to it, I started to look for a job and that’s when I found PetSmart. PetSmart was the perfect distraction for me. I met awesome friends, was working all the time, and constantly surrounded by animals. I credit a lot of my healing to this job, keeping busy, and my family’s support. Once I was getting back on track, I went back to community college and started to think more clearly about my future. Through vacations to New York, working long hours, getting to know myself again and spending time alone, meeting new people, constant therapy by not only my psychiatrist, but my superhuman mother– I found myself. I found my passion, my drive, and a much clearer path for my future.

And that is when I found the University of Kentucky. It wasn’t exactly a place I really had a desire to go to, but it piqued my interest. Going somewhere warmer, far away from home but not too far, with a completely different feel and scenery was right up my alley. It turns out, I made the perfect decision for myself, without even knowing it! Lexington quickly became home. I made friends in my first few weeks that continued to be part of my life throughout the entirety of college. I joined choir which became a great outlet for me during a stressful day ( and also conveniently supplied most of my friendships and relationships ) I really enjoyed most of my classes, finally learning more about what I was passionate about and taking on culinary school halfway through—another great decision (thanks mom) And of course, I got swept up into the Kentucky basketball phenomenon which is absolutely unavoidable when you attend UK! Road trippin to games and making crazy memories–I’ve had the best time here!

As I said, my college experience is not your traditional story. It definitely did not come without failure, heartbreak, and hard lessons. But I am happy to say, I made it! Through it all, I became a much better version of myself that I never would have discovered if I would have given up a long time ago! I won’t annoy you with a cheesy pep talk.. (never give up, reach for the stars…blah blah) I think you get the point. But I will say, I am so thankful to be here now telling this story!

Cheers to graduation and 5 1/2 years! Thank you UK for all the good times! GO CATS! 

I hope everyone has a great holiday with friends and family! Remember to be thankful for all you do have in your life :)

xoxo

 

Kelsey

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Gluten Free Apple Tart

Have y’all heard?!? Turns out, I’m a local celebrity these days! (LOL, kidding–my friends at work like to tease me about it though) BUT I did get a super awesome opportunity from some of my fellow lexington bloggers to be featured in the local magazines here in lex, Chevy Chaser and Southsider! I know with holiday parties coming up, everyone is always looking for a new recipe to try! For me, it is extra difficult attending such gatherings due to my food allergy! Specifically, desserts are always known to be the big problem! Because who ever thought to make a flourless dessert!? lol y’all should look into it!

I know over the holiday season, I have a hard time not stuffing my face with food (so why not make it “good” food ;) ) My birthday and Christmas happen to be just days apart so there’s always all kinds of food celebrations in my house near the end of December! This gluten free apple tart just might have to be added to the menu ;) Sweetened primarily by dates and maple syrup, filled with REAL ingredients, no butter, or refined flour, this recipe is sure to hit the sweet spot without adding on the pounds!! :)

**You can find the magazine (featuring this recipe) locally in Lexington or online here! P.S. UPDATE: I would alter the 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon to 1 tablespoon, unless you’re on a cinnamon kick ;)

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Gluten Free Apple Tart

Crust:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • Dash of maple syrup
  • Dash of sea salt

Filling:

  • 3-4 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced thin)
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (to maintain color and freshness)
  • 1  tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar (depending on sweetness preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 F. Using a food processor, combine the nuts and dates and pulse until they create one cohesive mixture. Add in the maple syrup and sea salt and pulse again.

Grease a 9-inch tart/pie pan with cooking spray. Press the crust into the pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes before adding filling.

Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the apples and place in a mixing bowl. Add all additional filling ingredients into the mixing bowl and toss with the apples. Starting from the outside edges, place the apples in a circular pattern in the crust, moving from the outer edges to the center.

Bake the tart for 20-25 minutes or until apples are soft and crust is browned

***Optional—> oat/brown sugar topping!

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Hope you all will try it out :)

Happy holidays and cheers to healthier alternatives to dessert! (lol)

xoxo

Kelsey

 

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I Am Thankful For The Present 11.23.17

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!! I am so happy to be home, spending this holiday with my family–as it is a MUCH needed break from my crazy busy life! Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday. It is one of the very few holidays that isn’t surrounded by gift giving (well unless you’re one of those black friday shoppers, which that’s technically the day after thanksgiving!) Thanksgiving at my house, while there are only four of us  plus three furry friends, looks like a GIANT feast. As you can imagine, my food obsessed family loves a holiday that’s surrounded by fellowship and eating! No gifts necessary, just sharing around the table what we are thankful for over a wonderful meal :)

With my college career ending in just three weeks, It is hard not to think about the next big thing or the next task I need to complete…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!  However, I feel like often times when we have this mindset, it’s easy to lose sight of the present moment! Enjoying the little things and being aware of all the good around you! After all, your past and present are simply illusions. They don’t exist. Don’t let life the right here, right now, pass you by. I’m not going to act like the present is always peachy, because believe me, it’s not. BUT I am a firm believer in that you can find something good out of every bad situation, every struggle is a lesson, and everything happens the way it’s supposed to! Positivity is contagious and gratitude for all that you DO have is the key to a happy life. You don’t have to have it all together to be appreciative of the present moment! Life is a process and half the battle is just getting to where you wanna be–so live for the NOW and let the future happen when and how it is meant to happen :)

With that being said, I challenge all of you to reflect on what you have right here, right now, and express gratitude for all the good you have going on (whether it’s little or big) !! Go after what you want and never look back! Don’t obsess over the past and let the future worry about you. Be present in all that you do and live in the moment! :)

I hope you all have a great thanksgiving, spending it with the people who mean the most to you!! I am thankful for y’all!

Just a few things I am thankful for…

I am thankful to have an amazing family that has my back in everything I do. I am thankful for my fur child Nola and the joy she brings to me everyday (also my two pups that live at home). I am thankful for the friends that have never left my side and continually make an effort to be in my life. I am thankful for good health and being able to enjoy one of my favorite hobbies, cycling, without pain. I am thankful for good restaurants and talented chefs for inspiring my passion for cooking. I am thankful for nutrition and the power it has to completely transform your life. I am thankful for having the opportunity to pursue both my passions (cooking+nutrition). I am thankful to have a steady job where I do what I love. I am thankful for having the opportunity to travel to places like New York City and New Orleans that have completely captured my heart. I am thankful to call the beautiful state of Kentucky a second home and for Chicago, always being my #1! Most of all, I am thankful to God for making all of these things possible :)

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FNCE 2017!

IMG_6714.jpgFood & Nutrition Conference & Expo 2017 Chicago, IL

Have you all ever been somewhere where you felt like you were exactly where you were meant to be?! Like I’m talking 100% in your element! If you’ve never heard of it before, it is the biggest annual nutrition conference in the world..FILLED with thousands of dietitians, as a future RD like myself, it is a pretty freakin cool place to be! I went to FNCE 2015 in Nashville and I was so insanely blown away by the whole thing that I told myself I was definitely coming back! Here we are, two years later, in Chicago (of all places) for the 100th anniversary of FNCE!! It was the absolute perfect time to go…AND I got to spend it with my mom and one of my good friends AND visit home all in one weekend!

While we were there, we attended plenty of educational sessions and actually learned some pretty neat (and sometimes strange) information such as…..

  • It only takes one week (bedrest) to lose 1 kilogram of muscle mass and 6 MONTHS to gain it back (stay active y’all)
  • Most insects (see below) contain more protein than beef, eggs, and milk (time to grocery shop at the pet store lolz)

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  • We (as a country) do NOT get nearly enough sleep.. Hawaii is the state with the least amount of people getting greater than 7 hours of sleep and South Dakota is the state with the highest percent of people getting more than 7 hours of sleep! (I’d probably sleep a lot too if I lived in South Dakota)
  • Depression and weight gain (obesity) are directly correlated to sleep quality–being two main causes of daytime sleepiness! (mental health is HUGELY important)

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ANND then there is the EXPO…If you think you’ve already been to a foodie paradise, THINK AGAIN! This place will absolutely blow your mind! So many amazing companies, FREE samples, and merchandise…Did I mention, FREE SAMPLES!? SO many free samples that I ended up bringing home two huge tote bags filled with stuff! (talk about snacks for DAYS)

Below are just a FEW of my favorite booths…

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{KIND, Glutino, Kodiak Cakes, Califia Farms, La Croix, La Colombe, Go Macro, Banza}

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***FNCE 2018 DC, I’m coming for ya!!! :)

 

Until next time,

xoxo

Kelsey

 

 

 

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3 Ways To Style Your Cauliflower Pizza

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Good morning y’all ( or whenever you’re reading this ) it is labor day weekend and I had a great time spending it with my family! On Saturday, I had my garde manger 7 course meal final, which officially means I am done with that and moving on to international cooking (which I am pumped about) !! In other news, my final semester at UK is in full swing and it is hitting me hard that it is my final few months of college! I have loved loved loved my time at UK and wouldn’t change a thing–As I’ve said a million times, I am so thankful that my rocky road led me to this place! However, I am SO ready to be done and on to the next big thing!

Anyways, I don’t know if you all have noticed but cauliflower is all the rage these days! It’s like people just now discovered how versatile it is and started cooking with it all at once! For me, I have been a cauliflower fan for a hot minute now just because it is often an awesome substitution for gluten free people (like myself)

Introducing: the famous Trader Joes Cauliflower Crust— I am sure most of you have tried it or at least have heard of it! However, it is one thing to buy it, but a whole other animal to actually know how to style it and what toppings to add! It can be rather bland unless you create really tasty and creative toppings! Annnnnnd I am here to help you with just that :) I’ve got three (tested and approved) ways to make your best cauliflower pizza!

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1. Pesto/Mushroom/Goat Cheese/Balsamic Glaze

Out of the three I made, this one definitely takes the cake as my favorite! Probably because I am such a pesto fanatic. The combo of pesto, mushrooms, and goat cheese really cannot be beat—and adding a little balsamic glaze? Perfection! This one is also super simple. First, start off by making your pesto (basil, nut of your choice, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper) add on your sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese and you’re ready to go!

2. Black Bean/Bell Peppers/Mexican 4 Cheese/Avocado

Oh, how I love mexican food! This one turned out so so tasty. If y’all haven’t heard of better bean company– you should definitely get acquainted! They sell awesome varieties of pre cooked beans that you can add to literally anything for some extra flavor! The ones I used for this crust are the Cuban Black Beans, topped with the sautéed peppers, mexican cheese, and fresh avocado slices! So much flavor!

3. Marinara/Parmesan/Chicken Sausage/Arugula 

I love this one a lot because it tastes the most like a traditional pizza– with the marinara, cheese, and meat, you won’t even realize it is on top of a cauliflower crust! Chicken sausage is my go to protein because not only is it freakin delicious, it is also low in fat, lower in cals, and high in protein compared to your traditional pork sausage! Adding the arugula on top gives this “pizza” the best little colorful touch and flavor to tie it all together!

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If you haven’t yet tried a cauliflower pizza–I would TOTALLY recommend! And if you aren’t feeling like buying one, they are so so simple to make! HINT HINT–> there’s like a million trillion recipes online ;)

Hope this helps add some creativity to your life and gives you ideas for your next cauliflower pizza!

Enjoy!

 

xoxo

 

Kelsey

 

 

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Homemade Chicken Taquitos

I don’t know about y’all–but I am all about that easy and convenient life! Especially with school in full swing, I am always looking to find a reliable recipe that I can make ahead of time and enjoy for the whole week! This recipe is just that! Growing up, I was obsessed with flautas which are extremely similar to taquitos EXCEPT for the fact that they are made on flour tortillas (which I can no longer eat) Maybe I’ve been feeling nostalgic or maybe I was just craving mexican food…but the idea of making taquitos hit my brain and I went with it! Minus the fried part, these taquitos are just like the ones you’d find in a restaurant…maybe even better, if i do say so myself ;)

 

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Chicken Taquitos

  • 1 rotissere chicken (shredded)
  • 2 TBS cumin
  • 1 TBS cayenne (if ya like it hot)
  • 2 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS seasoned salt
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 2 TBS paprika
  • hint of lemon or lime
  • splash of olive oil
  • corn tortillas

Filling

  • 2 bell peppers (julienne)
  • 1 small yellow onion (julienne)
  • shredded cheese (as much as you want)
  • top with salsa and hot sauce (as much as you want)

Directions—>

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. cut up the chicken, gather all the meat and put it in a bowl–where you will mix together all of the spices
  3. microwave tortillas for 10-15 seconds or until soft
  4. spray tortillas with a little bit of cooking spray, add chicken and filling (SAUTE THE ONIONS AND PEPPERS BEFOREHAND), roll up and place on cookie sheet. (Repeat this process for how many taquitos you are making)
  5. Place in oven for 10 minutes or until tortilla begins to get crispy
  6. *** for the last 3-5 minutes place the oven on boil to get the taquitos browned and extra tasty!
  7. ENJOOOOOOY :)

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Hope you enjoy!

 

xoxo

 

Kelsey

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Peach Crumble Dessert (Gluten Free)

Hey y’all!! Happy (almost school time) to me! I’m definitely having mixed feelings about this final semester of mine at UK. Don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly pumped to be finishing up…it sure has been a long time coming! BUT–it’s for sure a little sad and scary to be closing the chapter to such a big portion of my life and moving on to something new. I am forever grateful that my unconventional college path led me to UK–I have had some of my best memories here and Lex totally feels like home to me. Kinda wish I had started here all along, but everything happens for a reason!

Although I’ll be finishing up at UK–I am still going strong at Sullivan finishing up my culinary arts degree by the end of spring. Last weekend in class, we focused on working on some dessert ideas for our seven course practical final. While I was originally going to do a peach tart– I decided on something a little more creative. It is basically a tart–just deconstructed :) And might I add, as not being a peach lover, this dessert was HELLA good! Definitely will make again and again :)

 

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Peach Crumble

  • 4-5 peaches
  • ~ 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • ~ 1 cup COLD water
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (depends on how sweet ya like it!)
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • handful of dates (roughly 4)
  • cinnamon (to sprinkle and garnish)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • sea salt (just a pinch)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

*** You’ll need two small ramekins like the one in the picture above to bake the dessert in!***

Directions:

** Preheat oven to 350 & cook for 15 minutes (or until top is browned) **

  1. Make your crumble: pulse the nuts, coconut, dates, sea salt in a food processor until they create a soft mixture
  2. Combine the nut crumble with the oats, a little bit of brown sugar, and set aside
  3. Make your slurry (cornstarch and COLD water) mixed together. (small) Dice up two of your peaches and put them in a pot on medium heat—Add the slurry mixture and continue to stir until peaches break down and form a cohesive mixture. (sprinkle in some brown sugar for added sweetness) This will be your peach filling!
  4. Dice up the rest of your peaches
  5. Make your whipped cream— heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla (kitchen aid mixer, handheld mixer, OR by hand on medium speed until soft peaks)
  6. Assemble your dessert–> peach filling on the bottom followed by the diced peaches, oat/nut crumble and topped off with the whipped cream!
  7. ENJOOOOOYY :)

 

Hope y’all will love this as much as I do! :)

Happy eating!

 

xoxo

 

Kelsey