Hungry Haley

it's more than food


The Hardest Part of Blogging

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen8 Comments

I love food, but it’s complicated. And I love to write about it. But it’s hard. Not the writing or the website posting or the photo editing or the Google analytics. It was the food.

The hardest part of food blogging has been simultaneously embracing my love for and overcoming my fear of food.

Since the birth of this five-year-old blog, I’ve stuttered each time someone asks why I started this. I can’t simply say, “I just love food”. I do, believe me, but that love is the most complicated manifestation of the word I’ve ever known. So, I’ve just let my answer be that - I love food. And for those who dig deep enough to know more…

… I tell them I haven’t always loved food the way I do now. I started this blog in the thick, painful, sometimes suffocating heat of an eating disorder as an attempt to cover that up, even though it never worked. I wanted my parents - my two best friends and biggest supporters - and all other loved ones in my circle to believe that I was okay. In many ways, this blog has brought healing through food, community, self-connection and self-love, and pursuit of my passion. There is another side, though, that I haven’t talked about before.

The Hardest Part of Blogging

Yeah, the hardest of food blogging has been the food.

I dove head-first into this while still working through a broken relationship with food and with my body. I wanted so badly to whole-heartedly pursue my passion, to chase after it without hitting any road-blocks, but doing so was like thinking I signed up for a nice afternoon run, only to find myself stumbling over hurdle after hurdle. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been infatuated with food blogs and cooking magazines and websites and TV shows, and fascinated and inspired by the recipes they create. I wanted so badly to be able to cook and bake and taste and eat freely, without any restrictions or guilt inhibiting my creativity or shaming me for trying just a bite.

Around the third year of blogging, I began taking this more seriously and recognized the still broken pieces of my relationship with food (and my body and exercise). It is indescribably complex, yet so significant. I felt an exciting and inspiring thrill when an idea for a new recipe popped into my mind, but it was often almost immediately pushed out if that idea was didn’t fit into this exclusive nutritional jail that imprisoned me.

The Hardest Part of Blogging

The difficulty? It’s not keeping track of Google analytics. It’s not managing payments and completing taxes. It’s not creating recipes or editing photos. It’s not even making a living off of an online platform. The hardest part about food-blogging has been recognizing my broken relationship with food itself, acknowledging it without judgment, and equipping myself well enough to overcome that so that I can pursue this passion fearlessly.

As challenging as this work has been, I could not love it more every single day. And if there’s one thing I hear over and over from employed adults giving advice to us young college kids, it’s that if we don’t wake up excited for work most days, we’re doing it wrong. Blogging, cooking, baking, writing, and sharing keeps me more excited than almost anything. I get pretty excited about studying metabolism, too, but that’s another story for another time.

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen2 Comments

1. My brain is anything and everything but organized right now. Study for midterms! Prepare for finals (because here at Cal Poly, we like to continue taking midterms the week before final exams :) )! Keep your room clean! Go grocery shopping! Brainstorm some recipes and blog posts! Respond to emails! Don't forget to study! Call this or that person to catch up! Apply for summer jobs! Oh, and make sure you're spending quality time with friends because this is your last month living with your best friends ever! Ahhhh. That's why I've had such trouble coming up with a blog post - when I finally do think of an interesting topic, if I don't throw out all my thoughts onto paper immediately, it'll escape me within minutes. It's not a case of short-term memory loss, just a case of an overwhelmed Haley :) that is all. Moving on. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

2. A day without moving my body is not one I enjoy. I'm a person who feels tired by 10 AM if I haven't gotten up off the couch for at least 10 or 15 minutes to get my heart rate up - be it a workout at the gym, a bike ride to the beach, or just a light walk through some cute neighborhoods. Feeling tired could be telling me I need more sleep (which I do), but I also think that's just how my body works. I like to move it, move it! I'm so funny.

Trusting myself with movement that doesn't push my body beyond its limits has been quite the process. I've found that the workouts I prefer aren't longer than 45-60 minutes, elevate my heart rate and keep it there for the majority of the workout, and engage various muscle groups at the same time. Yoga? Not my thing. Running? I kind of still wish I could, but at the same time, I kind of think letting it go (even though that involved some gnarly knee pain) was a blessing in disguise. Barre? Sometimes. Most of the time, I spend my mornings in the gym doing HIIT, light weight-training, or a spin class. The other days, I get outside to go for a walk or a bike ride. That, my friends, is the routine that's working for me and I love it. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

3. Most of my weekends consist of some studying - thank goodness I don't need to spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday buried in textbooks like I did last quarter - and lots of time with friends. The majority of my closest friends are graduating and going back home in the next couple of months, so I'm trying my hardest to soak up moments with them because I know life here will never be the way it is now. Okay, stop - I'm getting emotional. Anyway, we love food and we have so much fun trying new things together, whether cooking at home or going out to eat. I can vividly remember a time when choosing restaurants centered around making sure "healthy" vegan options were available. It's okay to be vegan and it's okay to look for nutritious items on the menu, but (in my opinion) those shouldn't take priority over enjoying time with loved ones. Sometimes, we get burgers and zucchini fries from our favorite little shack and we can't shut up about how good they are and yes, sometimes my stomach ends up a little funky later. Sometimes, we order nachos and the plate is huge and yes, it's tortilla chips + cheese + pork and I don't know anyone who says those foods make them feel their best. BUT my heart is full and I'm smiling because the burger or nachos or whatever it may be tasted good in the moment and I enjoyed that alongside my best friends. The friends are more important than the food. Some of our most cherished memories together are at a table with delicious food (and maybe a glass of wine, if we feel like being fancy) and I wouldn't trade those for anything in the world. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

4. I don't journal regularly or meditate or practice yoga or go for a peaceful walk around the neighborhood each morning. If I could make the time required of those, I would pick journaling and walking, but even that's pushing it. I do love early mornings - my alarm wakes me up sometime around 5 AM roughly six out of seven days a week. Get up out of bed, pee, fumble around in the dark for my journal and/or any books I want to read, and walk quietly downstairs to make some coffee. Make said coffee, curl up on the couch with a blanket, and either a) write some intentions for the day or b) just write to sort through my thoughts. If I don't feel like journaling and have the time to read a non-school-related book, you bet I will for as long as I can (currently halfway through Intuitive Eating). If I absolutely must, I'll open a textbook for school and review for 20-30 minutes before I get ready for the gym. I used to hate the idea of beginning my day reading for school, but I've come to find that just 20-30 minutes in the morning (like I said, if those are absolutely necessary or if I have a test/quiz that day or something) eases a lot of potential stress that could otherwise hit me later on in the day. So, no, I don't want to begin my day reading about the anatomy of the lungs (or of the male reproductive system, which has been the topic lately) and partial pressure of oxygen, but I do want to strive for good grades and low stress levels and sometimes, you gotta' do what you gotta' do. 

5. Desire to scroll through Instagram and motivation to create recipes is nowhere to be found right now. I don't know where they went, and I haven't really looked very hard to find them again. This is the most "go-with-the-flow" I think I've ever been and I really like this newfound side of me. I like sharing more about my life here. I like - no, LOVE - writing about whatever comes to mind as well as topics that seem most relevant and interesting right now in this realm of nutrition and food and wellness. What my plans are now, I cannot tell ya'. Three months ago, I saw myself blogging at double-time this quarter since my class-load is much lighter than it was before. I saw myself posting something on Instagram daily and on the blog at least bi-weekly. But, here I am, posting whatever whenever I feel like it, looking for summer jobs, spending time that I could use to plan and develop recipes and email back and forth with companies with friends or just with myself instead. This shift makes me a liiiiiittle bit nervous because I kind of feel like someone pulled the rug out from under me - only in the best possible way because I've definitely landed on something, I just don't know what it is or where it's going... yet. :) 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

A Weekend in Minnesota (new home away from home!)

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen1 Comment

As the quarter dwindles to an end and assignments simultaneously pile up, I have less and less time and energy for creating recipes. I've also taken a break - kind of, but not really - from Instagram and I've been feeling like writing more lifestyle posts. A blogger who seems like just a blogger is not who I want to be, so my hope is that these posts let you into my life because I love it when my favorite bloggers do so for me. 

Okay, so about this whole Minnesota-thing. My parents moved! Our house in SoCal just wasn’t doing it for them anymore, and with both my brother and I out of the house + the majority of our family in MN/WI + the high cost of living in CA, a move back home(ish) made sense for them. They’ve officially been in the new house for a week and I was more than happy to be on the welcoming committee! Actually, can I be on the welcoming committee if I don’t live in the state into which one is welcomed? Minor detail.

Funny story about my flight out there on Friday – I must’ve gotten things confused because I assumed my flight left from SLO at 4 PM, which would leave me plenty of time on Friday for a workout, breakfast with friends, packing, and spending a couple hours on campus for PHE (from here on out, I’m going to refer to my volunteer position at Cal Poly Health and Wellbeing as “PHE” which stands for Peer Health Educator – if you have further questions about my role, I’m happy to answer them!). This assumption also justified my laziness on Thursday night and gave me time to hang with a friend. When I finally went to bed on Friday night at midnight, I decided now would be a good time to double-check my flight info. HA. Haley, please don’t assume things. Your flight leaves from SLO at noon. Cancel all plans tomorrow. Nice one. Hey, at least I checked!

Back to the weekend. I met the cuuuuuutest little old man on my flight out and I wished I could’ve brought him everywhere with me, but I digress. I have a weird thing with flying – it stresses the shizz out of me, but it also excites me unlike anything else. Both the takeoff and landing in a plane usually make me cry, and no I’m not kidding or being dramatic. There’s just something sorta-kinda magical about feeling the vibration of the fuselage (fancy plane term for “body of the plane”, aka the place all the humans sit) as I watch the ground fall lower and lower beneath me, or as I watch the ground bring itself closer to the wheels of the plane during landing, anticipating the calming “boom” of touchdown. Doesn’t really get old.


Oh, and because I’m sure you’re just dying to know what I ate, here’s a picture. I came more prepared with food for this flight than I did with shoes for my actual trip – an accurate depiction of me. Some fresh carrots and a couple soft-boiled eggs, a little hummus, a bag of Hippeas, roasted sweet potato wedges (the star of the show, always and forever), PaleoValley snacks (like a grass-fed version of my favorite childhood snack), and RX bars.


I worked on an assignment for my Nutrition Counseling class during the flight, then convinced myself I’d done enough work and picked up where I left off in Intuitive Eating. I’m reading the book and completing the corresponding activities for each chapter in the workbook and I absolutely love it. A copy of each were my gifts to Mom for her special day!

My parents picked me up from the airport at around 8:30 PM and it was rather strange, as all of my arrivals home thus far have been me pulling into the driveway and just walking in through the front door. But, this is the new norm and we will all get used to it with time. By 10 PM I was in bed, barely able to keep my eyes open, even though it was only 8 PM on CA-time. But hey, when this body is tired, this. body. is. tired. I crawled into my bed in my own room – already set up for me by my blessed mother and father – and hit the lights, feeling thankful and peaceful.

Saturday began at around the same time most other days do – right when the sun comes up – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Like, come on, LOOK at that sunrise. The living room and kitchen both have plenty of windows, so that makes for bright mornings and, as I said before, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t see myself living in MN, but if one thing (besides family) were to convince me of staying, it would be a Saturday morning in my parents’ living room with the sun beaming in, a hot cup of coffee in my hand, and my family next to me. Perfect is an understatement.

Mom and I worked out in the basement, which is soon to become an upgraded at-home gym, even though it’s pretty dang good as it is now. All I need for 4/5 of my go-to workouts is a set of light weights and a mat, and we’ve had those at home for as long as I can remember. If you’re curious about my workouts, I’ve got plenty of my favorite moves highlighted on my Instagram stories and I also send out a weekly email that details out one of my workouts from the previous week. Subscribe!


I finished a quick 30 minutes of some bodyweight HIIT moves and then explored around in the fridge for something that sounded good. Traveling, especially when a time-change is involved, throws my stomach off a bit so nothing sounded fantastic, but I knew we'd be out of the house for a few hours and I wanted to give my muscles some post-workout fuel. Suddenly, a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter and sliced strawberries sounded like a winner. One thing I’ve been working on with Intuitive Eating is practicing eating without distractions – no computer, no phone, no magazines (those are the main distractions for me). This might stress me out sometimes when I feel the urgent need to respond to an email or look over a lesson plan for a class, but it also feels really good to be able to just eat, to taste and enjoy what I’m eating. It’s a simple, pleasurable act that can get easily get lost in the midst of life’s to-do lists.


My parents and I hung at home with family for the rest of the night. Snacks, wine, and lots of story-telling and laughter are a given in our family whenever we all get together – not bad things at all. People have been asking why my parents suddenly decided to move back to MN, and I tell them it’s for a couple reasons, but the main one stood out tonight. Family. Family, family, family. Incredibly important to us.

2018-05-12 16.00.15.jpg

Snacks were sliced veggies, hummus, salsa, crackers and chips, chicken wings (it had been over years since my last chicken wing… just sayin’), and wine. The main event – pizza! These two huge pies came from a place most of my family absolutely adores, called Papa Murphy’s, and while I’m usually a thick-crust-lover, these were some of the best slices of pizza I’ve had. Papa Murphy, you’ve done a dang good job! The Hansen family is one of your biggest fans.

By 9 PM-ish, mostly everyone had left and I realized that I’d made it a whole 24 hours – twenty-four hours – without touching my homework. I patted myself on the back for a second and then grabbed my laptop to work on some assignments. Balance. As much as I would’ve loved to lounge on the couch and listen to my family tell more belly-ache-laughter-inducing stories, my reality right now is week 7 out of 10 this quarter and multiple projects and exams coming full-speed ahead. I did future-Haley a big favor by finishing an essay and making a little more progress on my Nutrition Counseling assignment. An hour later, bedtime.

I love going to bed because I love sleeping, but I think I really love it – like really really love it – because closing my eyes at the conclusion of one day means opening them for the introduction of another is just hours away. Read: another beautiful sunrise and another cup of hot coffee. Mmmm, makes me giddy just thinking about it.

Mom woke up early with me Sunday morning and we chatted, ooh’ing and ahhh’ing at the blue and purple and orange and pink and yellow sunrise, and I gave her my gift for Mother’s Day – she knew it was coming, but was still stoked to open it up. I’ve been raving to her about Intuitive Eating and we’ve talked a ton about creating a healthy relationship with food, so I’m really excited, too, to have someone as close to me as my mom with whom I can talk about all of this. She feels more like a sister than a mom sometimes. Most of the time, actually.

We both went down to the basement/at-home gym for 20-30 minutes of light yoga. By then, my tummy was ready for food, so I cleaned up and helped dad cook bacon and scrambled eggs, along with some fruit and whole-wheat tortillas for breakfast. Dad and I adore breakfast, and each other, so spending time together in the kitchen cooking one of our favorite meals is, like, better than the best breakfast you could ever imagine.

A Weekend in Minnesota (new home away from home!)

The rest of the morning we spent at church with my grandparents, and then drove to their place to hang out for a little while. OH, and cinnamon rolls (which tasted and smelled much better than they looked) from a bake sale at church were involved. My goodness. I think I should gauge a potential husband based on how he takes my breath away compared to how a cinnamon roll takes my breath away. Seems like a fair scale.

Some thoughts while I sunk my fork into this swirl of warm, gooey, caramelly chunk of future-husband-comparison-scale deliciousness: Was I actually hungry to eat it? No. Breakfast kept me full and satisfied. But did the rolls smell good/look good/sound good? Did the idea of sitting around the dining room with some of the most cherished people in my life, a few of whom I rarely ever have the chance to spend time with in person, while sharing in the pleasure of said cinnamon roll sound more appealing to me than waiting until I was actually hungry to eat a “sensible” lunch (i.e. a salad, sandwich, etc.)? Yes. A million and four times YES. There are parts of Intuitive Eating I had no idea existed, but I’m so thankful they do. I read a blog post from Rachel Hartley a week ago that talked about eating even when you aren't biologically hungry or really craving a certain food, but still eating it because the moment just kind of calls for it. I can't find the exact post, but scroll through her archives and I'm sure you'll find something worth reading! And/or you can read what I wrote about the topic a while ago. This realization that food is more than just fuel/calories has helped me immensely in finding peace with food. 

My grandparents are two strong, determined, and always loving and welcoming individuals. They make us laugh, they show us unconditional love, and they remind us of the importance of family. I know they don’t use a computer regularly (or ever…?), but hey Grandma and Grandpa, I love you guys to pieces.

For the remainder of the day, we drove around the town my parents now live in – it’s right on the St. Croix River, and with the sun shining today, everything felt so right. I couldn’t be happier for them :) we came back home, lounged outside and soaked up our vitamin D before I packed up for my flight home.

And that brings me here! I’m on the plane, typing, reflecting, smiling, looking out the window at the view of a state which I cannot identify as the plane hovers some 36,000 above. I’m so happy on this blog and incredibly thankful for the last 3 2/3 years since it was born. It’s like my child. As much as I love cooking and sharing recipes, I love writing. And as much as I love spending hours articulating my thoughts into a well-thought-out post, I love just letting my mind guide my fingers across this keyboard. So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and look forward to more of them! Thank you for reading, and more importantly, thank you for supporting my blog. I hope you love it half as much as I do :) 

2). feelings. 
Boy, oh boy, OH BOY. Like my previous reflection, this one was unlike anything I've ever dealt with. All I can say is that God worked extensively on my heart in ways I still can't describe. Seemingly out of nowhere, I noticed incredibly strong feelings I hadn't experienced before, and when I followed where they led me, I only found other stronger feelings. Many brought me fantastic, ear-to-ear-smile joy - like finally biting into an In-N-Out burger, chasing my favorite summer sunsets while running into the ocean with my best friends, watching yeast activity in my first ever batch of homemade cinnamon rolls (yes, seriously), hunting down those dang Pillsbury Christmas sugar cookies with Grace (because you couldn't have paid me to eat something so "unhealthy" a year ago) and finally finding them only days before Christmas, and so much more. A couple brought me intense pain - feeling like I lost my self-discipline and motivation to workout and seeing the weight gain as a result, and feeling quite heart-broken and hopeless in pursuit of something I thought could be one of the most amazing blessings yet. 

Both sets of feelings - the joyous and the painful - taught me to simply feel. To not spit out the painful because they taste horrible or swallow them because they are unfamiliar. To relish in the joyous because they taste delicious and cultivate more of them because they bring life a one-of-a-kind flavor. 

THOUGHTS: Reflections and Intentions


1). stay up-to-date on world and local news.
I'm very ashamed to admit this, but the other day, I had to ask my dad was the GOP is (it's the Republican Party, for those of you who are like me and had zero idea). Since I moved out of my parents' house, I haven't had access to cable TV and I haven't been around my parents enough to listen in on their dinner-time conversations regarding politics, taxes, economic changes, and all that not-super-exciting-but-actually-very-relevant news. Now that I'm technically an adult - though I sometimes feel like/act like I'm between the ages of 5-12 years old - it's definitely time I start understanding what's going on inside and outside this country so that I can make educated decisions when its time to vote and make my voice heard. 

For now, I'm starting with 10-20 minutes a day of reading news articles I find online or listening to NPR and the like for updates. If you have any other recommendations I'm more than happy to hear them! 

other main blogging-squeezes:  Jeannette  and  Connie  (the hand)

other main blogging-squeezes: Jeannette and Connie (the hand)

2). continue practicing intuitive eating and exercising
Learning to eat and exercise intuitively is an ongoing lesson - one I'll never perfect and I'm okay with that. Diet culture drilled itself into my brain for a long long time and I'm so thankful for RDs like Robyn, Kylie, Alexis, and more who convinced me IE and HAES are much more valuable and fulfilling practices. I've only made it halfway through the book, and we will just have to see if I can pick it up again and actually finish it. Like I said, I am far from a perfect Intuitive Eater, but I've grasped the basics and I'm practicing everyday. 

Part of IE, though, is also just living - as much as it enforces getting rid of diet-culture-esque influences, it stresses releasing from the mind any sort of barrier to full enjoyment of food and movement. For me, that requires taking a deep breath, asking God for peace + wisdom + understanding of my body's needs and desires in that moment. 

we. are. familyyyy. (get up everybody and sing!)

we. are. familyyyy. (get up everybody and sing!)

3). put my phone away more often.
If I had a biggest priority on this list of intentions, you can bet it's this one. Because I now work for myself as a blogger, social media is a huge chunk of my job, and because of modern technology, that chunk is always at my fingertips - at noon on a Wednesday or at 11 PM on a Saturday (when I want to be either sleeping or giggling with my friends). This year, I picked up a habit of putting my phone in airplane mode during the night, so that if I wake up to pee at 3 AM and want to check the time, I'm not also tempted to respond to a gazillion notifications I may have. Doing this has also given me control over the amount of me-time I have in the morning before anyone/thing can bug me. When I'm ready to communicate, all I have to do is turn airplane mode off. Until then, it's just me, my cup of coffee, and my book. 

Working for myself lets me set my own hours, a benefit I haven't really taken advantage of yet. a 9-5 schedule everyday isn't my thing, but neither is working until 10 PM on a Friday or Saturday night because I didn't organize my day/manage my time wisely. Putting my phone away - like, in another room or just off in general - will hopefully allow me less mindless scrolling-time through social media (Pinterest really captures me lately). 

if you like watching the sunset, you should see it rise (if you're a morning person, that is). 

if you like watching the sunset, you should see it rise (if you're a morning person, that is). 

Hello, World!


4). cultivate my unique creativity.
I'm self-motivated and I have been for as long as I can remember, but I want to develop habits that can help me self-inspire. So far, hiking, walking, and other forms of exercising do the trick (blood flowing = oxygen moving to the brain = higher functioning brain). Baking, cooking, and reading through recipe books are my other go-to's, but what about when I'm just sitting at my desk, not a ton of oxygen flowing to my brain and no cookies coming out of the oven? 

Georgie Morley reminds me to create a little routine that sets up positive, productive headspace before diving into work, so this year I plan to create my own. What it might look like, I don't have an idea yet, but I'll give some things a try - cleaning and organizing my workspace, putting my phone away/shutting it off, finding some quiet, maybe even lighting my favorite candle and listening to some soft music!  

oh, and I have a sister-in-law!!!

oh, and I have a sister-in-law!!!

I feel a deep breath is always what I need at the end of this kind of stuff - reflecting can be really tough sometimes, especially looking back on a year like 2017. Do it with me: inhale, exhale. Maybe I'm just being dramatic because I'm approaching the challenging years of my 20's?? Or maybe I'm nothing out of the ordinary in this case. Orrrrr maybe... nevermind, I don't know. I encourage you to take a peek back whatever 2017 was for you - lift up the covers you placed over the painful experiences and warmly welcome back the joyous ones. Both are worthy of recognition and appreciation. Both can teach and help you move forward into 2018 with your best foot forward. 

What are your reflections and intentions for 2018? Leave some below in the comments to spark some ideas for all of us! Cheers to a new year! 

THOUGHTS: Reflections and Intentions
also, we should take into serious consideration the sunsets in Lake Tahoe. like come. on. 

also, we should take into serious consideration the sunsets in Lake Tahoe. like come. on.