Visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Keukenhof Gardens

After a long travel day on the first day of vacation, the first full day in Amsterdam was very busy! After breakfast, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum for a 9:00am entrance. Many of the museums in Amsterdam are very popular and can get some pretty incredible lines so, when possible, it’s definitely a good idea to buy advance tickets. With our 9am advance tickets, we walked right into the Van Gogh Museum.


The museum offered an audio guide that was probably one of the best audio guides I’ve used. Usually, I feel like audio guides have way, way, WAY too much information and it would take hours to go through everything. Also, the descriptions can often be so long it’s hard to stay interested for the entire recording. The Van Gogh Museum, however, offered several options on their audio guide, including a 40-minute highlight tour through the museum’s three floors which was perfect:

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The museum, in combination with the audio guide, gave a very interesting overview of Van Gogh’s work and life (which was very tragic). This location was one of the trip highlights:

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After the Van Gogh museum, we headed to the Rijksmuseum (the Dutch National Museum) which was basically right next door. We also had advance tickets to the Rijksmuseum, so we fortunately could breeze past the line.

The Rijksmuseum is in an incredible building built in the 1880s:

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The inside foyer was no less impressive:

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This museum was huge – it would have taken all day to see everything! We focused on looking at the Rembrandt works, instruments, doll houses, town houses (furniture and art), and some ship models. By the end of the visit, I was in desperate need of some energy and rejuvenation.

Lunch at the nearby cafe, Panini did the trick. Noah and I shared a panini with peas/tomatoes and a mozzarella salad:

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After lunch, we hit up one more museum: Huis Marseille.


This museum is comparatively small and entirely devoted to photography. My impression was that the quality of any given visit would depend a lot on what exhibits were showing. My favorite exhibit during our visit was a collection of photos from North Korea – fascinating!

Afterwards, we took a trip out of the city to visit Keukenhof Gardens. Getting to Keukenhof required about an hour of transit using a train and bus:


The weather was still a bit dreary when we arrived to the gardens…

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But some beautiful tulips were still on full display:


Goofin’ around…

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Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world, and it’s only open for a couple months of the year. We were lucky enough to be here just after they opened to the public. Unfortunately, this meant that a lot of the flowers weren’t yet in bloom…

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Nonetheless, there were some indoor areas that had quite impressive flower displays, and the outside flower areas were still fun to walk around even without an overabundance of flowers:

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Returning to the city after the gardens was fairly uneventful, but by the time we were searching for a place to have dinner I was very hungry! Eventually we decided to go to the Pancake Bakery – a restaurant recommended by our guide book and serving the Dutch delicacy, pancakes. 🙂

We shared a pancake with goat cheese/sun-dried tomatoes/honey and a veggie/cheese pancake:

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For dessert, we had some traditional Dutch desserts (when in Rome Amsterdam, right?): appelgebak (chunky apple and cinnamon pie) and stroopwafel (two thin wafers sandwiched together with a light syrup).

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Check back soon for a recap of a canal cruise and other activities during the second day!


Other Amsterdam Posts

Travel day and hotel
Canal Cruise, Museum of the Canals, and the Old Jewish Quarter
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam City Museum, and Oude Kerk
Day trip to Rotterdam, architecture tour

Paleo Pancakes and Pizza Luce

Several months ago, I bought the cookbook Practical Paleo.

I don’t follow a paleo diet (and do not support following any strict diet plan!), but I do like a lot of paleo recipes and appreciate the paleo approach to eating for two primary reasons.

1. They promote eating whole foods
2. They discourage fear of fat and encourage regular consumption of fat in meat and other natural sources (see my post about not being scared of fat here)

Despite admiring this cookbook on the shelf and reading through it a few times, I haven’t actually made any recipes from it. Why does this always happen with cookbooks? I seem to always use recipes on the internet or just make them up.

Today was the day for a recipe from the book!

The recipe I chose was for pumpkin pancakes. The recipe was a simple collection of pumpkin puree, eggs, coconut flour (but I used almond), and some spices. Mix it all up:


Cook it all up:


And serve with dried bananas and coconut butter (if you’re me):



In other news, I have a recap from a visit to Pizza Luce from a few weeks ago.

Pizza Luce is a popular pizza chain around the Twin Cities area that specializes in creative options with plenty of vegetarian and vegan selections. We ordered quite a feast and had plenty of leftovers! To start, we ordered Focaccia Katerina which was focaccia bread covered with pesto, goat cheese, and bruschetta:

I ordered a veggieball hoagie with a ‘side salad:’

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As you can see, the side salad was enormous. My dining partner ordered a build-your-own pizza with chicken, tomatoes, and basil:


Everything was delicious! I would definitely go here again. Also, if you’re buying gifts this holiday season, Pizza Luce is doing a special where you can buy $100 worth of gift cards for $80.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

I’ve been experimenting with different types of protein pancakes lately (see here and here), and I decided to give things another whirl this morning.

I mashed up 1/2 of a very ripe banana plus a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder:

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Then, I added one egg, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 tablespoons almond milk, and 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter:

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Plus 1/4 cup rolled oats and 1 scoop of Tera’s Whey chocolate protein powder:

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The batter was very liquidy, but it firmed up after cooking for a few minutes on the skillet:

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Served with more walnut butter, the other half of the banana, and a couple teaspoons of maple syrup:

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These were tasty, but I didn’t love them. I’m still on the search for a great recipe! Ideally, I’d like to have a few pancake recipes that I absolutely love and can rotate through on those mornings I’m craving something warm and doughy and delicious…I’ll keep you updated as I continue my search!

In other news…I visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) today. The MIA has a collection of over 83,000 objects ranging from textiles to paintings to new media. Best of all, general admission to the museum is always FREE. Special exhibits rotate through, and these exhibits are often for a low cost. I went and saw a terracotta warriors special exhibit there a few months ago, and today I visited the special exhibit More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness.

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The exhibit is meant to explore the changes in our experience of reality due to technology and social upheaval around the world. The exhibit’s title and message is derived from Stephen Colbert’s term – ‘truthiness’ – which describes fabricated truths that disregard facts and/or logic. His term describes mistaking (or perceiving) what we wish to be true for that which is true.

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As might be expected, the exhibit was a little bizarre. There were several pieces of video art as well as some online installations. Here’s a fav:

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Overall, the concept was interesting but I found most of the pieces a little scary. For example, there was one piece that showed the reactions of individuals who, while using chatroulette, were linked to a picture of someone hanging. Although this special exhibit wasn’t my favorite, the MIA is an incredible resource to the Minneapolis community and I would highly recommend going there (for free!!) on a regular basis.

April Bestowed Package

Woohoo!! It’s that time of the month again. Bestowed time, that is.

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hello, beautiful!

Bestowed is a monthly delivery program of healthy living products – mainly food with some beauty and fitness thrown in. This package makes my day whenever it arrives, and today did not disappoint.

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Yay goodies!!! Inside April’s package were….

Balance Bar, Dark Chocolate Coconut – I’ve never had a Balance Bar before, but they are a very high protein and relatively high fiber bar for a pretty reasonable amount of calories (this one had 180). They are also gluten free. And did I mention they are chocolate flavored?! The package had one actual Balance Bar and a coupon for a free one with the purchase of two more.
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Flapjacked Protein Pancake Mix – This item came at a very appropriate time given my recent interest in protein pancakes (see here and here). This mix is made with all natural ingredients and hearty grains like quinoa and oats. They’re also very high in protein with 17g per serving!
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BobbySues Nuts – The BobbySues Nuts company was founding by two entrepreneurs (female, btw) with the goal to make tasty, nutritious nuts but ALSO to help animals. A portion of every sale dollar goes towards building animal shelters and helping animals in need. This package of nuts is a mix of almonds, pecans, and cashews coated with meringue and spices.
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Zeel, $25 Credit – Okay, so this item was a little weird. It’s a $25 credit for Zeel, a massage-on-demand company. Basically, you call them, and then one of their licensed masseuses come to your home to give you a massage. As if it wouldn’t be weird for my roommates to come home and find me being massaged in the living room?! Second, it is only available to people living in NYC and the surrounding boroughs. I live in neither of those places, so this item is essentially worthless to me. Very disappointing, very disappointing indeed.
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Cocomama Quinoa Cereal – This item is so good it redeemed the package from the Zeel disaster. This is a pre-made package of quinoa cereal, breakfast style. All you need to do is empty the package, heat it in the microwave, and add some nut butter (I added that last part).
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ips Egg White Chips – I have no idea what to expect from these things. I can’t say that the sound of ‘egg white chips’ is too appealing to me, but after examing the bag I decided not to knock it til’ I’ve tried it. These chips boast that they are crunchy, high in protein, and contain half the fat of regular chips. I’ll give you an update after I try them.
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And there you have it, the April Bestowed package!

Make sure to check out my other Bestowed posts:March

Keys Cafe Bakery

If you are ever in downtown Minneapolis for breakfast/brunch, there are really only two options as far as I’m concerned: Hell’s Kitchen and Keys Cafe Bakery at the Foshay. Keys, like Hell’s, serves breakfast lunch and dinner but, also like Hell’s, really shines with their breakfast menu.

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Keys has more standard fare than Hill’s, but there are still a few unique items on the menu (blueberry bran pancakes anyone?). The regular items – omelettes, scrambles, pancakes, eggs benedict, etc. – are all served freshly and deliciously with large servings and they taste just. plain. good.

When you walk in the door, you are greeted by a display case of oversize and delicious looking desserts, a la Cafe Latte.

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Deciding what to get for breakfast was tough since so many things looked good, but we had an eclectic sampling at our table. First off, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee:

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I ordered a fruit plate that came with cottage cheese, homemade wheat toast, and homemade strawberry jam:

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Other family members got a buckwheat pancake with granola (the granola was cooked into the pancake):

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Cinnamon bread french toast:

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And huevos rancheros which came with eggs, refried beans, salsa, American fries (small diced breakfast potatoes), and two enormous flour tortillas:

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Holy yum! Everything was great. While there, I also perused their lunch and dinner menu and thought those looked appealing as well. Plus, if I were there for lunch or dinner maybe I could get one of the desserts. 🙂

Oat Bran Protein Pancakes

Earlier this week, I looked outside and was sad to see that it looked like this:

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Little did I know, that only a few short days later it would look like this:

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What?!?! #Minnesota in mid-April #WTH

There is a silver lining though. While the weather gets worse, my protein powder pancakes recipe is getting better! A few days ago I posted about these protein pancakes made with rolled oats. They were good, but I wanted to keep experimenting. Today, I tried basically the same recipe but with oat bran instead of regular rolled oats.

First, mix 1/3 cup oat bran with 1 teaspoon ground flax:

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Add one egg and 1/3 cup cottage cheese:

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Add one scoop protein powder (I used Tera’s Whey chocolate):

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Mix all together:

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Cook on the skillet for about 3 minutes on each side:

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I am getting so much better at flipping the pancakes! I think that was partly because the oat bran held these pancakes together better than the rolled oats did. I topped my pancakes with walnut butter and a couple teaspoons maple syrup:

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These were very good, but I definitely want to experiment more with other pancake varieties. Anyone know some yummy, quick, and healthy pancake recipes?

Protein Powder Pancakes

I made an impulse buy this week…

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I’ve tried a few protein powders over the last couple months because they show up occasionally in recipes on the blogs that I follow, and it seems like it could be a good way to get more protein in my diet. TO BE CLEAR: I’ve been thinking of the protein powder as a way to add a little more punch to my meals and not as a ‘meal replacement’ the way protein shakes are sometimes used. Since I bought the whole container, I now need to find/create recipes to use it in! My first attempt was protein pancakes this morning. I got the original inspiration for this recipe from Happy Being Healthy.

Here is my own version of protein pancakes (full recipe below)…

First, combine 1/3 cup oats with 1 teaspoon ground flax:

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Add in one scoop chocolate protein powder and one whole egg:

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Add 1/3 cup cottage cheese and stir to combine:

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The mixture was very lumpy – if you wanted a smoother pancake you could put the mixture in a food processor or blender. I poured the batter onto the skillet as two pancakes. I waited about three minutes and the flipped…

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As you can see, flipping pancakes has never been my forte. Nonetheless, they turned out pretty nicely shaped in the end. I served them with walnut butter, a banana, and a splash an undisclosed amount of maple syrup:

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I liked these pancakes a lot! The protein powder gave them a slightly bitter flavor, but they definitely filled me up. I want to try a few other ingredient combinations, but I am definitely keeping this recipe on file for future use!

- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon ground flax
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I used Tera's Whey)
- 1 whole egg
- 1/3 cup cottage cheese
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. 
Pour batter onto skillet as two large pancakes.Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. 
Serve with nut butter, fruit, and syrup of choice!

Breakfast for Dinner

Sometimes – not often – but sometimes, I want eggs and pancakes for dinner. One of those ‘sometimes’ was this week. Several months ago, I saw a recipe for an egg dish that used uncooked quinoa. The concept of the quinoa cooking with the eggs intrigued me. Plus, it seemed convenient given I had only a very small portion of quinoa leftover in a bag (I thought it was too small an amount to cook on its own). Unfortunately, where I saw this recipe will forever remain unknown and lost in cyberspace. After doing some searching around, I found this recipe – definitely not the original one I remembered, but it seemed to have most of the necessary ingredients. My version included the following:

– approx. 1/3 cup mix of white and black quinoa (not measured, just what was left in the bags)
– 8 eggs
– 1.25 cups almond milk
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 chopped onion
– 1 tsp dried thyme
– a few shakes salt and pepper
– 2+ cups spinach

Whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the onions and spinach. Stir to combine. Coat an 8×8 dish with non-stick spray and pour mixture in:

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I cooked for about 75 minutes at 350°, checking every 5 minutes or so after 1 hour.

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All done! Next up…pancakes! I heard about this pancake recipe on Meals and Miles, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try a variation for myself. It is honest-to-goodness the easiest pancake recipe you will ever find. All you need is 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I used plain, nonfat fage):

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mixed with 1/4 cup egg beaters (could use one real egg):

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Mix 1/2 cup flour and 1 tsp baking soda separately:

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix:

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It will seem very wet and doughy – don’t worry, this will contribute to the FLUFFY DELICIOUSNESS of your pancakes. 🙂

Drop them on the pan and cook:

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This is by far the most difficult part of pancake making for me. Who has the patience to wait while each side cooks through? I always flip too soon.

Once they’re done, serve with eggs…maybe even a delicious quinoa egg bake (see above!):

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Oh yeah, and don’t forget the secret ingredient….

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Check out this interior:

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yumyumyum. Make them for your next meal…ready – go!