Food is Food

When I was struggling with an eating disorder, everything was classified into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good
– fruits
– vegetables
– skinless chicken breast
– fat free plain yogurt

The Bad
– bread
– grains
– red meat
– starchy vegetables

The Ugly
– oil of any kind
– butter
– full fat dairy
– salad dressing
– desserts
– candy
– fried anything

See a pattern?

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Cutting back on these extra calories from fat was one of the first habits to develop with my eating disorder, and it was one of the last to leave. Even after getting away from the bulk of eating disorder symptoms, I stayed all-too-familiar with the non-stick spray can, and you would have been hard-pressed to find butter or added oils in any of my home cooking.

To totally ditch the fat phobia, I’ve had to learn that fats add more than flavor to foods. They are an essential part of overall health and body functioning. Here are few reasons why you need to eat fat (and plenty of it):

  • fat is the food that provides the body with the greatest level of satiety, so without it you will constantly feel hungry
  • without fat, the body can’t process and retain nutrients fully, and you will feel weak and fatigued
  • the brain is over 65% fat, so you need to consume fats for clear thinking and productivity
  • without eating fat, your body will have a much harder time keeping warm
  • fat keeps skin healthy, helps hair grow, increases immunity, and stabilizes blood sugar
  • fat protects your organs

Moral of the story:

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Overcoming my fat-phobia has made me feel healthier, stronger, more energetic. Oh, and my food is tastier. ๐Ÿ™‚ Eating out is no longer an anxiety-ridden process (how much hidden butter/oil is in my dish?!) but is, instead, a fun opportunity to try new and delicious food.

Check out some of the items in my kitchen these days:

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The big breakthrough with all of this…fat doesn’t make you fat. It makes you healthy and happy. And I’m okay with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

They say, You are what you eat! Thatโ€™s funny. I donโ€™t remember eating a sexy beast this morning. ecard[image source]

Acorn Squash and Northfield Pizza Barn

Organic acorn squash was on sale at the grocery store last week, so I bought three big ones. Squash doesn’t really go bad, right? Not that its shelf life ended up being an issue anyway…I’ve been eating squash at almost every meal since it is soooo delicious.

Cooking it in the oven is a breeze. All you need to do is preheat your oven to 400ยฐ, chop the squash in half, remove the seeds, and bake (cut side down) for about 30 minutes. The fun part comes after the squash cooks when you can get creative with fillings! One of my favorite combos so far is chopped tomato, fresh basil, and shredded mozzarella:

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Broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese melts:

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Voila! Delicious caprese-stuffed acorn squash:

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In other news…Noah and I visited the Northfield Pizza Barn. The Pizza Barn is located at the Red Barn Farm of Northfield, and they serve up fresh wood-fired pizzas every Wednesday night and the third Sunday of each month throughout the summer. It’s a simple production – all they give you is your pizza and a box – so bring your own plates, chairs or blanket, drinks, etc.

When you get to the farm, you’ll see satisfied pizza-eaters sprawled throughout the farm:

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Pizzas are made using pesticide-free produce and products grown right at Red Barn Farm! There are about 9 pizza options to choose from:

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We selected the veggie – it comes with tomatoes, onions, roasted garlic, olives, peppers, and mushrooms. Since Pizza Barn is so good, it will most likely be crowded and you’ll need to kill some time while waiting for your pizza. We had about 20 minutes of waiting time, so we checked out the animals:

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and the ‘general store:’

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By the time our pizza was finished we were pretty hungry, so I didn’t mange to snap a pic until the box looked like this:

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woops. ๐Ÿ™‚

The pizza was good, but I would say the real treat of the evening was the environment. It was really fun to sit out on the farm lawn with so many other folks, enjoying gorgeous weather and pizza. Northfield is only about a 45 minute drive south from the Twin Cities, so if you’re in the area it’s worth it for a nice weeknight getaway.

All smiles after pizza feast:

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Food Grows in Trucks

Wikipedia, the source of all reliable information, defines a food truck as:

A food truck, mobile kitchen, mobile canteen, roach coach, or catering truck 
is a mobile venue that transports and sells food. Some, including ice cream trucks, 
sell mostly frozen or prepackaged food; others are more like restaurants-on-wheels. 
Some may cater to specific meals, such as the breakfast truck, lunch truck or lunch wagon, 
and snack truck, break truck or taco truck.

Food trucks are all the rage these days in Minneapolis. You can see my first venture into food trucking here. To celebrate mobile food, Uptown hosted the second annual Minneapolis Food Truck Fair a couple weekends ago. I did not attend the original food truck fair, but from what I gather on the internet, it did not go well. There was an entrance fee, lines were monstrously long, etc, etc.

This year’s fair was held in Uptown instead of downtown (where the first one was located), there was no entrance fee, and the lines were still monstrously long.

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I can’t compare the lines to last year, but I waited about 30-40 minutes. Admittedly, I don’t think there’s much that could have been done to speed the process if people wanted their food fresh, but if you hate standing in line this probably would not be a good event for you. It also didn’t help that there is an unwritten agreement between Minneapolis and myself that whenever there is an outdoor festival that I attend the weather will be boiling hot. Thanks, MPLS, I โค U. ๐Ÿ™‚

My first stop was at The Anchor Fish & Chips truck.

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While waiting in line, I watched the kid next to me chomp on a hunk of meat:

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I ordered the classic. Fish. And Chips.

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yummm.

My friends had a slightly shorter wait at Holy Arepa. They got – you guessed it – arepas:

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A chicken pot pie pasty from Potter’s Pasties was also enjoyed:

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Overall, the Food Truck Fair was a lot of fun and a neat opportunity to get a better idea about what the food truck scene offers. If I could plan the event though, I would have the trucks offer sampling sizes of their most popular dishes. With all of the option, it would have been fun to get to do more sampling. But with such big portions it’s not realistic to get more than a couple things.

If this happens next summer though, I will definitely be there!

Sticks and Stones

Before I write another post about my Italy trip, I want to share something that happened while I was in Rome that wasn’t so spectacular. I’ve been talking a lot about the great food and sights, but when I first got to Italy, there was an incident that made me feel like the trip would be ruined.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Noah and I took a free walking tour around the city center right after I arrived and got settled.

The tour guide counted our group at the beginning to see how many we were. 11..12..13…and then pointing at me twice…14.

Me: “um, what?”
Tour Guide: “you’re pregnant?”
Me: “um, no.”

There may be people who would let something like this slide right off them, or laugh about it, or tell it as a funny story later that day. I am not one of those people. At least not right now. Maybe one day…hopefully. Because what I experienced in that moment felt truly horrible. On the outside, I was doing everything I could not to start crying right that moment. On the inside, my thoughts were something like this: you are fat. you are horrible. you are disgusting. your belly is so huge and fat that you look like you’re pregnant. everyone thinks you’re enormous. you need to lose weight. why do you eat so much? you used to be skinny, how did you let yourself go this far?

You get the idea. Needless to say, with this soundtrack running in my head I was completely miserable for the rest of tour and pretty much the rest of the entire first day.

eating disorder recovery, inspirational photography, quotes, nature photo, beach, Ocean, sea shore[source]

My emotions were…

mad. Why would the guide say that? Did she have any idea what her comment had done to me?

embarrassed. How many people heard that? Did they agree?

self destructive. How could I let myself look that way? I should be ashamed to be in my own body.

For anyone who is familiar with eating disorders and treatments, you know that dialogues with ED are a helpful and powerful tool. For those who are unfamiliar, ED stands for eating disorder, and those who struggle with disordered eating learn to think of ED as a separate entity that tries to influence how they think, behave, feel, etc. Creating dialogues with ED are incredibly powerful tools because they let the individual separate themselves from their eating disorder and allow backtalking to ED. Here’s an example of how an internal dialogue might go:

ED: You are fat. You shouldn’t wear that outfit because it makes you look fat.
Me: No it doesn’t. I like this outfit and I am not fat.
ED: Yes, you are. You should lose weight and then you would look better in your clothes.
Me: My clothes look fine, and you make me unhappy. Go away ED.

In that dialogue, I won. Basically, the point is to learn to stand up for yourself and realize how destructive ED is.

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And the good news is, I’ve been winning a lot lately. Pretty much all the time in fact, and I think I had almost forgotten what it felt like to have ED win. That’s why this ‘pregnancy incident’ felt so destructive. This time, the conversation went more like this:

ED: You are so fat you look pregnant.
Me: I can’t believe that happened.
ED: Remember all those times you talked back to me and said you weren’t fat? Well this proves that you were just deluding yourself and you are pregnant.
Me: Maybe she was confused? Maybe it was the way my clothes were falling at the moment?
ED: She wasn’t confused. Those clothes are on YOUR BODY. Which looks pregnant. If you weren’t fat, she wouldn’t have said that.
Me: You’re right.
ED: I can’t believe you let yourself become like this.
Me: I can’t believe I let myself become like this.
ED: You need to do something.
Me: You’re right.

At that point, I felt powerless to talk back and felt as though the entire trip would be ruined. How tragic that literally the first thing I did in Rome involved this incident?! It seemed almost laughable then that only a few hours ago I had been on the plane excited to enjoy lots of good Italian food without letting ED get in the way. haha

I made it through to that night without losing it, and then lose it I did. I felt like all the hard work I did had disappeared, and I told Noah that when the guide said that to me, it was as though something inside me felt completely destroyed.

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Then, Noah said something that really resonated with me. He said, “you don’t have to let her destroy you.” What a concept?! When I was in the thick of my recovery, ‘you always have a choice’ was a little bit of a mantra for me, but in my current state of distress (and feeling a bit rusty at combating ED), I had lost sight of that. So, it was back to basics:

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Once I mentally retook ownership of my fate from ED, I immediately started to feel better. I won’t lie, the comment continued to sneak into my mind over the next few days (and even now), but I have been able to combat it and remember:

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Yes, I was brought down and totally caught off guard by this incident. But I’m up and moving now.

I know that ED blew this incident out of proportion, and that my body is fine. More importantly, I know that I am loved and hopeful and blessed in so many ways.

Sometimes I really believe that 100%, and sometimes I feel like I am just talking back to ED. Either way,

How to fly quote mamavision[source]

So, on that note, to me and anyone else struggling…


and

๐Ÿ™‚

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is one of those great holidays that you can never forget what day it’s on. Unless, of course, you don’t know that cinco means five and Mayo means May. If that is you, you probably should have taken Spanish is second grade.

Cinco de Mayo was last Sunday, and celebration ensued. Although not quite on par with St Patty’s Day, Cinco de Mayo is definitely a boozey holiday, and pretty much every bar around the Twin Cities offered some sort of Cinco de Mayo deal. The bar scene’s not really my style, so the only celebration I partook in was hosted at the lovely apartment of a fun and fabulous friend. This party made every bar in town look downright lame. The decorations were festive:

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And the food was AMAZING. There were blue corn chips and chicken enchiladas:

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Beans with veggies and brown rice:

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And – the essentials – salsa and guacamole:

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The salsa was of the mango variety. Everything (except the chips) was homemade and utterly delicious:

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I filled my plate with chicken enchiladas, beans, and plenty of chips plus salsa/guac:

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Food + friends = smiles all around

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Punch with optional tequila was still present. ๐Ÿ™‚

Experimenting with Breakfast

Although I find many intriguing recipes on the blogosphere, I am probably most frequently interested by breakfast recipes. I never realized how many different ways there were to use oats or protein powder or eggs or bananas or…you get the idea. If you’re not someone who gets excited about the prospects of breakfast (somehow, I never seem to struggle with that myself), my best advice to you is to start blog hopping. I guarantee you’ll be looking forward to tomorrow morning before long. ๐Ÿ™‚

This week, I tried two breakfast recipes I’ve had my eye on for a while. The first was a version of oatmeal minus the oats, most frequently admired on Tina’s blog, Carrots N Cake. Tina’s version was adapted by Girl Meets Whisk to create this recipe, and – finally – I changed that version to make my own.

I used the following:- 1/2 cup almond milk
– 3/4 cup egg sub
– 1 banana, smooshed
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons ground flax

I whisked everything together for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat until the mix thickened. I served topped with a large quantity of honey peanut butter:

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This was tasty, but it didn’t keep me full quite as long as I was hoping.

The other breakfast recipe I finally tried this week was breakfast cookie cereal from The Fitnessista.

I combined 1/2 cup of oats with slightly less than one scoop of chocolate Tera’s Whey protein powder:

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I added a few shakes of cinnamon, a touch of vanilla, and stirred to combine:

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Add approx. 1 tablespoon peanut butter and stir:

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According to Gina’s recipe, the mixture is supposed to become cookie-dough like after stirring in the peanut butter. I think my peanut butter to oats ratio must have been really off, because I was a long shot from anything like cookie dough. I added a banana though and mashed that up into the mixture, and that held things together a lot better:

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I topped with a generous amount of almond milk:

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This tasted good while I was eating it but, again, didn’t seem to keep me full that long. I’ve been struggling to find a breakfast that really keeps me satisfied until lunch.

Does anyone have suggestions for tasty and filling breakfasts?

Minneapolis Farmer’s Market

This weekend was SO beautiful. Sunday was pretty much the perfect day – a slight breeze but sunny temperatures in the 60s….perfect bliss. To take advantage of the weather, I rode my bike to do all of my errands:

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Due to the gorgeous weather, this weekend was also the season opener for the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. Minneapolis’ farmer’s market is located on the north end of Lyndale past downtown, and it’s been at that location since 1937! According to their signage, it is the largest open air market in the upper midwest.

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I would believe it! Even though it wasn’t too packed with vendors today (presumably since it was the opening weekend), I visited the farmer’s market several times last summer and fall, and it is quite an operation. You can enjoy a bounty of farmer’s market staples…

like flowers:

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and fruits and vegetables:

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In addition, there’s a separate area with crafts, soaps, jewelry, clothes, prepared food and sauces, and meats:

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Stands that caught my eye on this visit included homemade pasta (in flavors like basil, italian herb, and spinach!):

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pottery:

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and homemade soaps:

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The roasted sweetcorn also seemed to be a hit judging from the number of people who were eating it:

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I give the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market an A+++. There’s a lot of variety, fresh and delicious produce, and great people watching. Plus it is incredibly affordable. The produce usually goes 2 or 3 bins for $5. To give you an idea, a bin would usually include 5-6 onions, peppers, or pieces of fruit – at the least. There’s also a ton of variety. On this visit I saw: onions of all types, cabbage, yellow squash, oranges, grapes, plantains, tomatoes, sweet peppers, potatoes, green beans, hot peppers, mango, ginger, and strawberries…to name a few.

I bought green beans, cabbage, and onions. Check back soon for my recipes on how I used them!

Magers and Quinn

Magers and Quinn Booksellers is a real gem. Right in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis on Hennepin between Lake and 31st, Magers and Quinn is the Twin Cities’ largest independent bookstore. Open until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weeknights, it’s always busy, always well-stocked, and always has several carts of sale books displayed on carts outside the front door. Inside, it’s a treasure trove.

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As soon as you walk into the front entryway, there’s an impressive collection of displays and shelves. It gets better though when you realize there’s an even larger back section:

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M&Q’s numerous awards are humbly stowed away in a corner:

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The atmosphere is one where you can browse through books in the store and not feel any pressure to buy or be on your way. On several occasions I’ve relaxed in the store, reading through cookbooks or browsing topics, and no employee has ever seemed to mind. Today, I was interested in browsing some food theory books:

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After skimming through Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, I decided to purchase a copy of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. The book is about the American food paradox: the most nutritionally focused our society becomes, the less healthy we are. I’m interested to read it and think I will learn a lot!

After my adventure at the bookstore, I was in need of a snack when I got home. I decided to make a protein shake with 1 scoop of chocolate Tera’s Whey protein powder, 5 strawberries, 1 cup of almond milk, and 6 ice cubes:

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Very refreshing! I like the flavor of this protein powder a lot, but I don’t think I could stomach it with just water.

Highland Grill

This morning I had eggs again for breakfast. Instead of making eggs plain though, I cooked them into some Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal. I got the idea from my roommate who made savory oats a couple weeks ago. For this breakfast, I cooked 1/4 cup of 10-grain cereal with slightly less than 1 cup of water. After cooking for a couple minutes, I added in one egg, one mini-babybel cheese wedge, a roasted tomato, and 1 tablespoon of pesto. I served it with a sliced banana.

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This breakfast was very good and I will definitely make again. The savory cereal was very satisfying, and the eggs really thickened the whole dish.

For lunch, I met a couple friends at the Highland Grill in St. Paul – which seems to be a favorite eats spot for almost everyone I know in St. Paul. Highland Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they have a nice combination of creative meals and comfort food dishes.

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The atmosphere inside is casual and comfy – as evidenced by the fact that all of their coffee mugs are unique and similar to something you might find in your own cupboard:

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Every day there are featured dishes. Today it included buckwheat pancakes, a fried chicken sandwich, cajun pork chop with risotto, and chili prawns:

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In addition to featured dishes, there is also a daily deal. Tuesday’s deal is half price on all bottles of wine. Obviously, too good a deal to pass up:

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After much deliberation (and by that I mean wondering if I should maybe order something ‘healthier’)*, I decided to order Peter’s burger. The burger came with sweet-mustard pickle relish, a fried egg, ketchup, grilled onions, and sourdough bread. I ordered it with sweet potato fries:
*see below for further explanation

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One of my lunch companions ordered the fried chicken sandwich special with a side salad:

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The other ordered buckwheat pancakes with a side of fruit:

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Everything was delicious! This is a great spot for any meal of the day.

Going back to my wondering if I should order a ‘healthier’ option…
Often when I go out to eat, I feel a slight sense of anxiety regarding the calories and fat in the meal. When I was struggling a lot with my eating disorder, I would often try to get out of eating meals I didn’t prepare for myself. Or, if I did eat out, I would try to stick with salads or things that didn’t include extra sauces or oils. I would stress out about butter or oil being added to bread or meat, and would try to alter my orders to make them as low-caloric as possible.

Now, I realize that eating out should be something enjoyable. Yes, a meal at a restaurant will almost always have more calories and fat than one that I prepare for myself at home, but I will also have the added enjoyment of dining with friends, testing out a new restaurant, and trying a meal that I would not ordinarily eat or prepare for myself.

When selecting what to order at a restaurant now, my primary goal is not to determine what will be the ‘healthiest’ but, rather, what sounds the best to me and what will be unique. I know that if I choose the ‘healthiest’ item for its calorie count and lack of added fats, I am not truly being healthy but am instead letting unhealthy rules and restrictions make decisions for me. When I was in recovery from my eating disorder, one of the most important things I learned was that health is about lifestyle – not about one meal or one day or one workout. Real health is understanding that it’s okay to have sweet potato fries and a burger once in a while, and it’s okay to enjoy that meal while dining with great friends and not feel guilty afterwards.ย Hallelujah, amen. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yumyum Yogurt

These are a few of my favorite things:

  • Noah
  • dogs
  • running
  • frozen yogurt
  • frozen yogurt in fun flavors
  • frozen yogurt with fun toppings

The last three items culminate in one mega-favorite thing: SELF SERVE FROZEN YOGURT. I’ve tried several of these self-serve places, and by far one of the best ones I’ve ever been to Yogurt Lab. Lucky for me, there are several locations in the Twin Cities area. Dangerous for me, one will be opening soon barely two blocks from my apartment. Will I go every week?!?! Only time will tell. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yogurt Lab has a ‘science’ theme. Here’s their periodic table of flavors:
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Those are all the flavors they rotate through! At any given time, there are about a dozen flavors available:

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Part of why Yogurt Lab is my favorite is their topping selection. There’s the fruit area:
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The cereal, nuts, and small candy dispensers:
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And there’s also a crushed candy section.

Here’s my creation: tiramisu, triple chocolate, and salted caramel froyo topped with crushed heath bar, reeses, and some chocolate powder:
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My dad went with an almond joy themed cup: chocolate and vanilla froyo with coconut, peanuts, and chocolate chips.

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Pure perfection.