Kombucha Summer Mocktails

I’ve been trying out some new healthier drink recipes lately (partly for work and partly for me) and even though I love to drink kombucha, I never really thought to put it in a cocktail. And apparently I’m a bit slow to the party because other people have been doing this for a few years now. And of course kombucha makes a good mixer/base – it is bubbly, sour, tangy, and delicious. Oh well, at least I caught the train – even if it’s the end.

Kombucha is a feremented tea beverage and although not thoroughly or independently studied for it’s health benefits, many people have claimed improved gut health and healthier and happier intestinal microbiota. It does have live cultures but exactly which can vary from brew to brew – especially when brewed at home. If you’re interested in learning more about kombucha in a nut shell, I highly recommend the Kombucha Culture episode of Gastropod.

There are so many different flavors of kombucha available in stores that you can fnd almost any base flavor you want or need. For this time around, I picked a classic citrus (you could use a lime too), honeydew (because it just has a nice lightly sweet base flavor but doesn’t overpower when you add other ingredients), and strawberry (because it’s probably my current favorite kombucha flavor at the moment).

You could also totally add some spirits to these, but for a refreshing work-night drink I’m keeping then virgin.

And just in time for summer grilling!

The first is a blueberry mojito. Although I made these by the glass, you could also easily make a larger pitcher.

Blueberry Kombucha Mojito

  • 6-8oz lime/citrus kombucha
  • 5-7 mint leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar (for muddling)
  • 1/8 c blueberries
  • Large handful of ice

Muddle the mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a glass. The grit of the sugar will help in the process of tearing up and bruising the leaves as well as extracting the essential oils. Add most of the berries and continue muddling. Top with ice and pour in the kombucha. Give a little stir with a spoon to mix the contents. Garnish with remaining berries and a spring of mint.

Enjoy on a hot summer day!

The second is a strawberry oregano mocktail. You can experiment with a few different kombuchas if you’d like, but I’d recommend a strawberry or honeydew. I found that the honeydew didn’t overpower the other flavors but left a little sweetness. The only thing I wasn’t super keen about the honeydew kombucha is that the particular brand I bought used artificial sweetener, stevia, to add more sweetness. Not super necessary in my opinion. Again, this recipe below is for one “cocktail” but can easily be multiplied for a larger pitcher.

Strawberry Oregano Mocktail

  • 6-8oz strawberry or honeydew kombucha
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano leaves plus a few springs for garnish
  • 1 diced strawberry plus one for garnish
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar (for muddling)
  • Large handful of ice

Muddle the oregano leaves and sugar in the bottom of a glass. The sugar will help in the process of tearing up and bruising the leaves as well as extracting the essential oils. Add the diced strawberry and continue muddling. Top with ice and pour in the kombucha. Give a little stir with a spoon to mix the contents. Garnish with remaining strawberry and a spring of oregano. Leave the fresh oregano in or over the glass as you drink to get a little more of that herby aroma.

If you’ve never tried kombucha or kombucha in a cocktail or mocktail, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. The kombucha adds a nice fizz to any mixed drink and comes with a lot of potential health benefits. At least from my own experience.

Happy summer sipping!

Tell me:  What are some of your favorite summer drinks? Or what says summer in a glass?

Wine, Women, and Wellness

This past Saturday I decided to attend a mindfulness event at Farm & Table called Wine, Women, and Wellness. It was part of their Women & Creativity series that celebrates women’s creativity across disciplines. I taught a yoga class prior and had to rush across town (with awful Albuquerque drivers on a holiday weekend), so I ended up arriving late to no available parking. Obviously I arrived I a terrific mood – I really needed this mindful stuff!  My mindfulness and acceptance seems to disappear when driving.

We started out with a review of mindfulness and the importance to be kind to ourselves followed by the pastry chef introducing our first course – a lemongrass & lavender sorbet. While we ate this we sat in silence and tried to eat more mindfully – enjoying the flavors, texture, and temperature of the dish.

Course two arrived with our wine from a local woman’s vineyard/winery. Throughout this course we were encouraged to talk with our neighbors and start to build connections. The Tamarind vinaigrette was fantastic!

  After course two we took a break to focus on a gratitude activity that explored eight different senses – the big 5 and then items such as sense of humor. 🙂 This was followed by mindful walk through the farm at which point the wind really started to pick up (spring in New Mexico). 

Our final course was cardamom tea biscuits, which did have a very nice texture and spice – cardamom just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and reminds me of some of my Scandinavian baking heritage.

All in all it was a great event, although I was hoping for a wine pairing with each course. I met some new people in the wellness industry and others that really engage and connect with the community to bring programs like this together.

I continue my yoga practice, but it is always a good reminder to keep the mental component as well as the physical component for overall health.

Hold-the-Sugar Date Bars

As recently as a few year ago, you couldn’t get me to eat dates for anything. They are one of my dad’s favorite fruits for baked products (cookies mainly) and growing up I remember finding the stash of dates hidden back in a cupboard and wondering why my mom had a package of wrapped cockroaches? Yay, I thought dates were pretty gross looking and therefore could not taste good. Well, here I am eating my words and they taste deliciously like dates. Although I didn’t immediately warm up to anything dates (I still think dates in smoothies is just too sweet), I think the first time thinking “they’re not so bad” is when I had them in wrapped in bacon and stuffed with blue cheese. Holy yum. I will take that on any menu please.

 I eventually started experimenting with trying dates in other forms and just recently was turned on to date bars when a we had a catered lunch for an event and the caterer brought date bars as an extra. After one bite I knew I needed to learn to make my own. I modified this recipe from a standard date bar recipe, but held out a portion of the sugar because the dates really are sweet enough on their own. 

Hold-the-Sugar Date Bars

Makes 36 bars


Date Filling

  • 3 cups chopped pitted dates (1 lb)
  • 1 cup water


  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (I used old fashion, but quick would also work)
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Pit dates if not already pitted. Then finely chop in a food processor. 
  2. In 2-quart saucepan, cook dates and water over low heat about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cool 5 minutes.
  3. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 13×9 pan with non-stick cooking spray. 
  4. In large bowl, cut the butter into the brown sugar with a pastry blender until well mixed. Cut in flour, oats, baking soda and salt until crumbly (you may want to switch to a large spoon if needed). Press half of the crumb mixture evenly in bottom of pan. Spread with filling. Top with remaining crumb mixture; press lightly.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Cool 5 minutes in pan on cooling rack. Cut into 6 rows by 6 rows.

These bars are great for a quick snack and keep great in the freezer. I typically make a large pan, cut them up, and then freeze so I can take one out at a time and not be tempted by the whole pan sitting on the counter.


Review of Hello Fresh

I paid for my Hello Fresh box and have not received any compensation for my review or opinions.

After receiving a few Blue Apron boxes and having a great experience, I was really excited to try Hello Fresh. I initially tried Hello Fresh through a Groupon offer for half off your first box, so I signed up to try the vegetarian box offerings.
My first box arrived on a past Thursday evening. Opening the box I immediately noticed the neat packaging… and also the box didn’t seem “refrigeration” cool, but quickly forgot about it as I stashed the boxes in the fridge. Mid-day that Saturday I decided to make the mushroom risotto because it sounded delicious! After pulling out the ingredients I noticed, uh oh, MOLD growing on my mushrooms – which I had never actually seen happen before. Pretty bummed, I picked out any non-contaminated pieces – basically only the baby portabellas were safe.    I chopped up the few mushrooms and continued to prep, noticing the incredibly limp single stalk of celery – oh well I guess it’s going to be cooked anyway? After everything was cooked the flavor was good, but I couldn’t really get over the fact that less than 48 hours after arriving on my doorstep, the ingredients weren’t fresh – despite the company name.

We later tried the Sunchoke Salad – which was good and flavorful, but just not what I expect to get from paying $10/plate. C made this in to his tiny side. It was good for me, but still didn’t contain sufficient protein (in my opinion) to be considered a meal.

The penne squash mac & cheese was good – slightly dry, but this was something I’ve already made on my own and the diced squash had a lightly sour acidic smell – which I ignored because it was going to be cooked, but didn’t add to my feeling that the food I received was less than fresh ingredients.

Since it was my first box, I decided to give it another shot and received another box – and I wish I could say that something changed my opinion, but sadly it was more of the same – no mold, but I still found the refrigeration quality of the box to be lacking. And while the small white meal ingredient packed boxes look neat and pretty, they are not functional for proper storage of ingredients – leaves and greens crushed under heavier items and varying moisture requirements all add to the faster degradation in quality.

While the flavors and recipes were good, I decided to discontinue by subscription until I feel some of the packing and refrigeration issues can be sorted out for a desert delivery (especially in the summer!).

All in all I was really hopeful I would like this product – especially since they have a dietitian on their recipe staff, but all the favors, nutrition, and recipe innovation can’t make up for ingredient products that loose their integrity so quickly. 

Maybe it’s time to get back to my own dinner recipe testing?


Blue Apron Review

I’ve been wanting to try Blue Apron for a while now. Especially since there’s a plug/ad for it during every How Stuff Works podcast episode. …does anyone else love the podcasts where you learn random stuff? My current favorites are TED Talks from NPR and How Stuff Works. I actually trained for last fall’s marathon relay listening to them – totally thought I would always and only be a music run person, but I guess I’ve changed. Any way, back to the foods. After being so uninspired with cooking lately, I finally just bit the bullet and ordered my first box (and dumbly didn’t use the STUFF code for a free box – total fail).  Whatever I guess, it was worth it. 

 The Friday before my birthday we got our first box. I hadn’t requested vegetarian, but selected no beef, so everything that week came vegetarian. …Apparently all the meals that week contained beef? Can I get a discount for that mistake? C was not entirely thrilled with there being no meat options, so he bought steaks to cook with each dish. With the exception of salt, pepper, and water, everything you need for the meal (including measured to the correct quantities) is included in the box – I love not having leftover waste! The recipes were really easy to put together and look amazing when they’re all done.  


The first dish we tried was the lemon linguine. I thought it was delicious, and although it says serves two… It’s definitely two very large portions – like one and a half Ingrid sized portions and one C sized portions. If you’re looking to use this as a weight loss tool – it’s definitely not, unless you adjust portions slightly.   


Our second meal was the Tuscan Ribollita – basically bean stew with French bread cooking in, topped with a soft boiled egg.  Only one note – timing soft boiled eggs at high altitude if different than at sea level – we ended up with some runny white (which I abhor) the first time around. Adding about 30 second seemed to do the trick. 

I had forgotten how delicious runny yoke over stew, pasta, or polenta could be – still not a sunny side up or over easy girl though (weird, I don’t like just fried eggs). 

Last of the week was a stuffed squash – I loved the warm farro salad so much I made it again the following week and threw it over kale. 

After skipping a week, none of the meals really struck my fancy for that particular week, another box arrived in the mail.   


The first meal was chicken, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots – which apparently I failed to get a picture of (but it was incredibly tasty, if not very simple and easy to replicate).  Second was the blacked salmon with black rice citrus salad – another winner in my book! 

And last but not least, tonight we made beet linguine tossed with onion and Swiss chard and topped with walnuts and goat cheese. Yum!!

After two weeks of delicious food, I think I’ll probably keep going with the membership, although probably not every week – because I do like to experiment with my own recipes as well. Final review – delicious food, easy to make, convenient, and more cost effective than going out to eat. One aspect I love is that even if you skip a week, you still have access to the recipes and can make items on your own – you’ll just have to do the shopping yourself. 

This type of meal service wins in my book!

Week of Food in Review (Food Ramblings)

Maybe this should be titled – week and a half in review? Because I’m starting at the beginning of my birthday weekend – Jan. 28th I was craving something healthy that would make my body feel not as sluggish as it had been the previous week – probably because I was completely exhausted. Any way – I pestered C until we went to Vineagrette for dinner. 🙂 I love their refreshing juices – I always get the Pepino (seltzer, lime, and cucumber?). 


 I got the Omega Salad with grilled tofu – yum! 
But some of my other favorites are the La Pepita and Eat Your Peas. 🙂
 Friday night I dug into my first Blue Apron box – more on that to come. 🙂 We made a Lemon Linguine – I thought is was fantastic, but C still needed another meat to go with it. (Story of our cooking adventures – if there’s no meat it’s not a meal.) Sigh. 


Saturday night we went out to celebrate my birthday (since it was on Sunday). We went to Artichoke Cafe, which is always one of my favorites. I ordered chicken on a bed of sweet potato polenta with Brussels sprouts and cranberry glaze. The chicken was great, but if I’m perfectly honest, I usually decide my meal based on the sides.  Sweet potato polenta – yes please. We also got ice cream for dessert, but I was too full to snap a picture – vanilla and rosemary ice cream. Delicioius.  

Sunday morning I made breakfast sandwich with an aged cheddar and green chili spread, eggs, and tomato on an English muffin. Then decided to take the day easy with a bunch of baking! I made cake, gluten free almond pear mini cakes, which I used as my birthday treat along with some organs cranberry muffins (not pictured because despite tasting good, they really were not the beauties I was anticipating.    

 Sunday night we tried out another Blue Apron meal (which I actually made a second time sans the squash and brought for lunch). A farro salad in roasted squash and then a ribollita on Tuesday. Basically a fantastic week for food.  I’ll be sure to write up a review about the whole experience after the next box of goodies.   

 And now I realize that I have rambled about nothing but food. Oh well. I’m perfectly ok with that. 

Onwards and upwards. Cheers to another year older and less than one to 30. 

Bean Stew with Cottage Dumplings

Weather is getting chilly her in Albuquerque – looks like we’re in for an actual winter with clouds and snow! One of the things I like best about mountains is seeing snow on mountains – that steely grey and white. I fall in love every time and remind myself how lucky I am to get that sort of view as an everyday occurrence (at least in the winter). When there’s a nip in the breeze I can hardly wait to start making chili, stew, and other warm comforting dishes. I first made this recipe in my Food Science class while an undergrad studying to become a dietitian. We made a number of different foods but I became obsessed with these dumplings and have been making this for the past 10 years. Thanks, Mrs. James!

Nutritionally this is packed with fiber and protein! Beans, corn, cottage cheese and you could definitely make this gluten free if you wanted by swapping out the flour for your favorite alternative. Definitely a must after all of that holiday eating. And these dumplings are so much more hearty and enjoyable than your traditional potato/flour dumpling (although I do like a good gnocchi). 

Bean Stew with Cottage Dumplings

Serves 4-6 large helpings 



  • 1 can black bean
  • 1 can kidney bean
  • 1 can great northern bean
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted for a little more flavor)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • Seasonings to taste: chili powder, salt, pepper, tandoori spice (if desired), any other


  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ c. bread crumbs
  • ½ c. cornmeal
  • ½ c. flour
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-1.5 c. cottage cheese
  • ¾ c. canned corn (dump remaining into stew)


  1. Heat all of the “stew” ingredients in a large pot until the dish comes to boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  2. Mix the “dumpling” ingredients together in a large bowl, adjust amount with water for right moisture level to hold a ball form. 
  3. Form in to 1 ½ in diameter balls and slide into simmering stew. 
  4. Cook with cover on for 15 minutes, stir gently and rotate dumplings to continuing cooking until they firmly hold a shape.
  5. Serve and enjoy. This is a very flexible recipe, different types beans can be added or spices can be added to the dumplings if desired for more flavor. 

Ok, I’m just going to curl into the corner of my oversized chair with this bowl now…

November Balance: Fairness

Ok, I know it’s December, but I really wanted to start this series in November – that way December will get it’s own.  


Hiking the Sandias in snow. 

For most of my life I’ve been fixated on this idea of equality. Probably because I grew up with two sisters and uff da (yep, I’m Minnesotan/Norwegian) everything had to be equal or our parents would hear about it. And really everything was to be as equal as possible. Equal attention, equal number of gifts under the tree (probably didn’t outgrown that until last year), equal monies put towards college, equal chance at all school activities, equal praise, equal affection, equal, equal, equal. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to squew this unequalness to my favor, and probably still do but definitely made a fit if it wasn’t the same as what I observed. 

And with this mentaily of equalness I equated it to fairness. To be fair it had to be equal. But really, life it definitely not fair; and I’m fortunate for much of what I have in life which is not fair or equal. My perception of equality and fairness has been shifting for a while – at least in what I observed elsewhere in the world and what I observed as fair but unequal treatment. Every situation is different and to be treated equal/same for everything wouldn’t be fair to those involved. But for whatever reason I was hanging on to this idea of equalness in many of my relationships, and truthfully it wasn’t making me all that happy. 

 I read an article on relationship pitfalls a few months back that really just snapped a lot into place. It was kind of a DUH or of course moment – ‘obviously that makes sense but I just hadn’t been putting it in that perspective’. To paraphrase a lot – if you try to make everything equal in your relationships (romantic, platonic, familial) it’s only a mater of time before it fails. Equality will doom you but fairness will put things in a realistic light. Yikes, I was/am totally (or at least trying to recover) a counter – I counted everything and it never did make me very happy. I thought fairness was being equal. I’m happy to say I was absolutely wrong. Fairness is about seeing the individual or situation for what it is and needs in that time and place. 

I started to think back on compromises of fairness – these made me the most happy. For example, we’re both neat people, so C cleans the bathrooms which I gag about doing while he doesn’t mind and I vaccuum and clean floors which I like and he hates. And then those instances of frustration or anger when I was taking tally in my head (people can’t read minds Ingrid) – who did the dishes last, who took the bathroom trash downstairs last, and other really trivial stuff. If there are dishes in the sink just do them, chances are C will do them for me another time when I’m sick or busy. And there are things we are just naturally better at than the other – organizing or fixing the hot water heater. These everyday life tasks I was counting were only making me miserable and probably a miserable person to be around. 

In the past few months, I feel happier when I let go of that counting and get something done because I’d like it done and am not waiting around for something to happen or not happen. I’m a grown ass woman who can take care of herself, damnit, I certainly don’t need to wait for someone else to take out the trash in order for me to be happy. I am capable and can get things done. And if it’s already done we can do other fun things! I’ve tried to extend it into other areas of my life as well – just because I called or organized something the last time doesn’t mean I can’t do that again because everyone else has a busy hectic life too. And with friends getting older, starting families, moving away, etc. sometimes you have to be the one to reach out first, second, and sometimes even third or that friendship could fall by the wayside. 

Lastly, being fair to myself. Not being hard on myself if I missed a workout or didn’t eat any vegetables all day (gasp! it’s happened – and as an RD I feel assamed). Feeling stretched because I have too many gym memberships – down to two now. Or lame because I didn’t get a blog post up this week. Basically giving myself a break!

Happiness is not about equality but about fairness to all involved. By being fair I feel like a much better balanced version of myself. 

Peace and love,