May Wrap-Up: Favorites From This Month

may wrap up favorites

This month has been a long one but a slow one. I know that is quite the contradiction but maybe that is just life in general: long and slow. Ooh look at me being all thoughtful. 😄 Anyway, I thought I’d just whip up a post going over some favorites as far as things I tried and notable moments for me in this month of May.

First up, FOOD.  I received a package of some new product releases for 2017 at the end of April and have been slowly making my way through them. I’ve had the pleasure of trying some really inventive foods but here are a few standouts:

bRAW bars

Healthy bars can be hard to find so when I checked out the ingredients label on the bRAW bars, I was blown away. They are plant-based superfood bars filled with nuts, seeds, and gems like cacao nibs and gogi berries. They are soft, yet crispy from the texture of all of the goods inside them. These bars do need to be stored in the refrigerator but I found they were fine to carry with me in my bag if I consumed them within a few hours. Their store availability is limited but, fortunately, they are available online from their website.

braw bars favorites

Rolling Greens Millet Tots

rolling greens millet tots

The brand Rolling Greens has put a creative, healthy spin on the classic tater tot without sacrificing the texture and flavor that I grew up loving in traditional tots. Instead of white potatoes, the tots are made from the ancient grain millet. So far I’ve tried the Poblano Chili and Sweet Potato flavor, along with the Garlic and Basil flavor. There is also a plain sea salt one but I was too excited about these two flavors so I haven’t touched the plain yet. I’m sure it is as great as the two I’ve tried!
You can check out their gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan-friendly tots here. The Rolling Mills millet tots come frozen and are ready to eat after just 15 minutes in the oven! They make a fun addition to salads, roasted veggies, homemade hamburgers, or simply as a snack/appetizer with some zesty dip.

And I’ve got a couple of non-food favorites…

Love Real Food Cookbook

After over a year of reading Kate from Cookie and Kate talk about writing, revising, and developing recipes for her cookbook, Love Real Food, the pre-order finally happened in January. These past few months of waiting were brutal but, now that it is in my hands, I love it! The book perfectly captures the simplicity of her blog and the clean, plant-centered cooking method I love.  I predict each of the recipes will become favorites of mine because all of the dishes look so good! It’s not a cookbook just for vegetarians either–there is much to enjoy even for omnivores, gluten-free eaters, and vegans alike 😉

Follow me on Instagram to see what I cook up from Love Real Food and find more details about the book here.

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins

Another book I’ve been into this month has been Lily Collins’ new release. Earlier this week I published a blog post on my thoughts about the book so I won’t overdo it with the review–see my post for that. I just love that each chapter has a positive and inspirational message. I did not relate to each one but many of the messages did touch me on a personal level.
unfiltered lily collins quote

TV favorites: Riverdale

This is the show I didn’t know I was missing! The neat thing about this CW show is that the characters are based on Archie Comics characters. Though, you don’t need to have read the comics to understand the show. The first season’s plot circles around a crime committed during the summer before the teens’ sophomore year of high school. The Archie gang is hot on the case trying to figure out who did it but anyone in town can be a suspect. At the same time, the tangled web of romantic relationships between the Archie gang and the Riverdale adults keeps viewers on their toes.  The show was just added to Netflix so catch up over there!

riverdale favorites

Yoga for Days

I’ve been practicing yoga on a daily basis for around 6 months now. Majority of the time I start my day with a video from Yoga with Adriene but occasionally I’ll practice in the evening, try another yogi’s video, or simply do my own thing. There’s lots of wiggle room for when, where, and how you can practice yoga. Notice the keyword: practice. I’ve long let go of the idea that I need to “do” yoga and instead I let my body be. That has allowed me to slowly build up to bakasana, or crow pose.

favorite pose bakasana
This was a really hard one for me back in December when I first started practicing. It has been my favorite to practice because it is so challenging! I couldn’t even lift a toe off the ground and now I can actually balance. My form is definitely not perfect but I’m proud of how far I’ve come. This little victory makes me really appreciate what my body can do.

Moment of Reflection

I spent the past few months feeling like I was in some kind of rush to get the right job, push my body to look a certain way, and overall be at a place I’m just not at yet. I’m not giving up on anything but I think the more I focus on what I don’t have, the more stressed I feel. And I don’t need that. Instead, I’m working on being present and taking care of myself right now. I quickly get caught up in a plan that I have/want for myself in the future but I don’t want to sacrifice enjoying the now to get there.

What have you guys been up to this month? Have you discovered some new favorites? Made any realizations? Heck, even if you just ship Bughead from Riverdale (no, especially if you ship Bughead) then I want to hear from you. Drop me some comments down below and I hope we can all leap into a happy month of June!

Do you like what you see? Sharing is caring 🙂Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Watermelon Spinach Salad

watermelon spinach salad

Happy hump day, folks!  Who else is planning their summer menu?  I’ve got the perfect recipe for barbecues, family potlucks, and all of the upcoming summer festivities!  Picnic or potluck style food used to be my jam.  I loved eating potato salad, cold pasta salad, deviled eggs—basically anything with mayonnaise. 😋 Though, why have mayo when you can have fresh, colorful food?!  The Watermelon Spinach Salad I’ve whipped up will be the game-changing healthy side dish or main to jazz up summertime meal spreads!

watermelon spinach salad

Occasionally, salads make an appearance at the average summer get-together but a big pile of green leaves does not usually appeal to people.  Add in a little texture and color and bam!  Suddenly the dish takes on a whole new kind of appetizing.  Watermelon is abundant and affordable during summer months so make sure you use a fresh and firm one for this salad.  Grainy or barely-sweet watermelon is not something we want in this salad.

Refreshing watermelon, briny green olives, and the texture of the quinoa and sliced almonds make this salad so satisfying!

It works great as a side dish but it’s also easy to turn into a meal.  Just add protein of choice like chickpeas (or lemon pepper tuna, if you’re like my mom) and then it’s a complete meal!  To coat the salad, I used an adaptation of a lemon dressing from Cookie and Kate that I’ve been head over heels for.  It’s seriously the best for drizzling on ANYTHING!  It is a subtle complement to make this salad come alive.  I know I’ll be making this again and again throughout the summer!

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

Have a great rest of your week!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of my new posts.  Subscribe via the right-hand side panel or at the bottom of this page. 😉

watermelon spinach salad

Watermelon Spinach Salad
Print
Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
I've created a fun salad to take to all of the upcoming summer festivities! It's perfect for barbecues to potlucks, or simply enjoy at home with a glass of lemonade. Recipe makes 2 main salads or 3 side servings but can easily be multiplied.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder (Kate uses 2 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • A dash of black pepper
  • 5 cups packed spinach
  • 1 heaping cup cooked white quinoa
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 4 large green olives from a jar (I used garlic-stuffed, marinated olives)
  • For serving: 3 cups cubed watermelon, 3 tbsp sliced almonds, and, optional, protein of choice—I went with ½ cup garbanzo beans
Instructions
  1. First, combine ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl. Everything from the olive oil through the black pepper.
  2. Then, add the spinach to the bowl and lightly massage or toss to thoroughly coat with the dressing.
  3. Incorporate the cooked quinoa, radishes, and green olives.
  4. To serve, add the watermelon and sliced almonds. Plus, optional protein, if eating the salad as a main dish.
Notes
Salad is best eaten right away but can last up to a day if made ahead of time. If saving for later, store the watermelon separately so it doesn't water down the salad and combine when ready to serve.

 

Do you like what you see? Sharing is caring 🙂Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins Book Review

unfiltered lily collins

Earlier this year, in March, Lily Collins published an autobiographical book on what she calls her deepest unshared secrets.  Collins presents a number of both unique and relatable experiences from her childhood in Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.  She encourages readers to follow in suit and open up about their own struggles, quirks, and stories.  The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can live life with a better, more loving version of ourselves.

unfiltered lily collins quote

What I Knew Before Reading Unfiltered:

I have always viewed Lily Collins as the epitome of elegance, class, and free-spirited perfection.  While she certainly is, there is much more about her life and story that I didn’t know.  Just like Anna Kendrick, whose self-written book Scrappy Little Nobody I also reviewed here, Collins is a young Hollywood actress who has made a mark on the millennial generation, to say the least.  Collins’ list of acting gigs is short but I knew she would have something meaningful to say beyond actor life.

I remember first seeing Lily Collins on Nickelodeon (back when Nickelodeon and Disney Channel were the only channels I would watch) reporting on the presidential election of 2008.  From Unfiltered, I’ve learned her journalism interests go much further than that.  As a young girl, she wanted to see others her own age represented in media and writing.  During teen years, she used her skills to report live on TV for Nickeloden and in writing for magazines like Elle Girl UK.  With this in mind, Unfiltered targets an audience of similar age to her.  More on this later.

unfiltered lily collins quote

What I Like About Unfiltered

Unfiltered is inspirational as it starts each chapter with a quote pulled from the chapter’s content.  Each chapter takes on a different topic or lesson.  Put together, they have helped shape Lily Collins into who she is today.  It is not the most original concept for a celebrity-written book but it is full of fun facts about Collins.  She touches on her childhood, life in the UK and LA, and reveals details about the eating disorder that she kept well-hidden all these years.  It means so much to read her thoughts on surviving her most challenging times growing up.

Collins’ book reads like a girl friend or older sister comfortably talking about obstacles that teens and young adults face.  She takes on a mentor-like role to explain the lessons she has learned and the advice she wishes to provide.  She genuinely hopes to touch others with what she has gone through and offer helpful suggestions as well as a glimmer of hope that things get better.  Such moments are conveyed in chapters like My Battle For Perfection or Food As Fuel, Not Punishment.

Who Should Read Unfiltered:

While her book seems most appropriate for teens to young adults, adults beyond her age could still enjoy it.  It is fascinating to read Collins’ stories and recollections about notable moments in her young life–including an “unfiltered” look at her relationship with her dad.  I’m only a few years her junior, so I could relate to some experiences she had growing up.  The ones that I couldn’t relate to still shed light on a new perspective for me.

Celebrity news junkies, movie buffs, fans, or casual observers of Lily Collins could enjoy this book.  I think Unfiltered offers a valuable perspective about someone’s life that may appear picture perfect but isn’t.  Though, there is no pity involved, only empowerment.  A glimpse into Lily Collins’ reality is one worth checking out.

unfiltered lily collins quote

 

Do you like what you see? Sharing is caring 🙂Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Chocolate Cinnamon Breakfast Shake—Mexican Hot Chocolate Inspired

chocolate cinnamon breakfast shake

Oftentimes I go to bed dreaming of what I’m going to eat the next morning for breakfast.  The flavors of peanut butter and cinnamon on toast, berry-filled smoothies, or zucchini oats occupy my mind.  It might be a problem how much I think about food but if it’s wrong then I don’t want to be right!  Especially when it comes to breakfast—the best meal of the day!

Sweet breakfasts are my usual but chocolate, surprisingly, does not make a daily appearance in my breakfast or snacks.  Simply because it is one of those flavors that you crave the more you eat it, or, conversely, crave less if you don’t eat it.  I remember the days of being a chocoholic and it wasn’t pretty.  Now, I can go weeks without tasting chocolate in any form, and I’m quite fine, but once I taste some chocolate muffins or homemade chocolate peanut butter cups I find I’m craving it daily!  Not that I’m complaining.  Thankfully, my chocolate interests are much tamer these days and I channel my sweet tooth in what I’d say is a nutritious manner.

Exhibit A: Chocolate Cinnamon Breakfast Shake.

chocolate cinnamon breakfast shake

Truly, this combination came about when I accidentally threw cinnamon into my chocolate smoothie.  I spice up my breakfasts with cinnamon—AKA the wonder spice!—almost every day.  It adds a warm, comforting feel but also enhances the sweetness in foods.  Though, cinnamon with cherries, frozen cauliflower, spinach, and chocolate protein powder isn’t a pairing I was prepared to make.  Fortunately for me, cinnamon can do no wrong.

The smoothie turned out to be reminiscent of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  If you wanted to tap into that flavor profile a bit more, then a dash (or approximately 1/8 tsp) of chili powder would add some heat.  Though, the cinnamon is enough—especially if you want to keep your smoothie strictly sweet 😉

Let me know if you give this a try!

chocolate cinnamon breakfast shake

UPDATE:

I’ve updated the recipe below to include an option for how to achieve the same Mexican Hot Chocolate flavor if using a protein powder other than ALOHATone it Up chocolate plant-based protein or Nuzest chocolate protein would both work.

Chocolate Cinnamon Breakfast Shake
Print
Recipe type: Breakfast, Smoothie
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
Cinnamon accompanies cherries, cauliflower, spinach, and chocolate protein powder to create a flavorful smoothie reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate.
Ingredients
  • 1½ c cauliflower, frozen
  • ¾ cup frozen spinach
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • A serving of chocolate plant-based protein powder (I used ALOHA)
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp almond butter
  • ⅛ tsp chili powder (optional, but recommended for Mexican chocolate flavor)
  • 1½ tbsp cacao powder*
  • ½ tsp sugar in the raw or coconut sugar*
  • a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt*
  • ¾ cup coconut water + ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or plain water + almond milk)
Instructions
  1. Blend up the coconut water and spinach so no spinach bits remain. Then, add in the chocolate protein powder, cauliflower, and cherries. Blend, pushing down on the sides of the blender with a spoon to help the mixture along.
  2. When mostly combined, add in the cinnamon, chili powder, almond butter, and almond milk. If using a protein powder other than ALOHA, add cacao powder, raw sugar, and sea salt.
  3. It will be a very thick mixture, but that's how I like my breakfast shakes. Add in a bit more almond milk or water, if desired.
Notes
I like to blend up the ingredients in steps to make it easier on my blender. If you have a strong blender, feel free to toss all of the ingredients in at once.

*The original recipe was tested with ALOHA chocolate plant-based protein powder. It has a stronger chocolate flavor and slightly sweeter taste. You can use another chocolate protein powder, like Tone it Up plant-based powder, but, to compensate for flavor differences, add the starred ingredients: cacao powder, raw sugar, and sea salt. They're all necessary to bring out the hot chocolate flavors!

 

Do you like what you see? Sharing is caring 🙂Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Zucchini Stovetop Oatmeal

ucchini Stovetop Oatmeal

Have I sunk to a new low?  Am I really writing a post about how to cook oatmeal?  In all fairness, a year or two back, I was still only making overnight oats because I had no idea how to cook hot oatmeal, and much less with zucchini.  When I was growing up, my mom used to cook oatmeal in a way that involved way too much water so the oatmeal would boil and be left swimming in murky liquid.  It was often super mushy, too.  Like, when people associate oatmeal with being old people’s food, that is because they have suffered through bland, mushy oatmeal.  I was one of those people but I’ve come out on the other side with a revived interest in stovetop oatmeal.

zucchini stovetop oatmeal

No offense to my mama’s wonderful cooking, she just never measured.  Dishes don’t necessarily come out well or consistent if you don’t measure.  That is why I looked to Rachael’s Good Eats when I wanted to cook up some real good oatmeal.  Not just any oatmeal though—oatmeal with vegetables!  You’ve seen me throw zucchini into smoothies here and here but oatmeal may be my favorite way to use zucchini.

zucchini stovetop oatmeal

I’ve been taste-testing bowls of oatmeal over the past few months and I have finally found a method I like.  Rachael’s recipe calls for a little bit less oats and a scoop of protein powder.  That works as long as the protein powder you’re using tastes good.  Though, personally, I’d rather not add protein powder because it can overpower the flavor of oatmeal.  I use flax and chia seeds to bulk up the oatmeal and give it creaminess without mushiness.  Then comes the zucchini: an undetectable but healthful addition.  You could totally leave it out and the oatmeal would still be awesome but I promise it’s so worthwhile to try it with zucchini!  It makes me look forward to eating oatmeal! 🙂

zucchini stovetop oatmeal with toppings

As always, let me know if you give this a try by dropping a comment down below or hit me up on Instagram!

Zucchini Stovetop Oatmeal
Print
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Oatmeal
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
This quick-to-make oatmeal is anything but mushy. The rolled oats are flaky and the seeds add a creaminess. The contrasting textures perfectly compliment each other. Plus, there is a sneaky serving of veggies!
Ingredients
  • I/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseeds
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup shredded zucchini
  • ¼ cup almond milk, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a small pot, heat half a cup of water on the stove. Once boiling, add in the rolled oats and cook for 1 minute on high, then, reduce heat to med.
  2. After the oats have started to absorb some water, sprinkle in the chia, flax, and cinnamon and stir, stir, stir! It is important to incorporate the seeds well so that they don’t clump. They will begin to gel and make the oatmeal creamy without compromising the texture of the rolled oats.
  3. Once incorporated, stir in the zucchini and cook for about 2 more minutes on medium before taking the pot off the heat. It may look like a measly amount of oatmeal but here’s where the magic happens: put the oatmeal into a bowl and pour the almond milk over it, stirring to incorporate. The hot oatmeal soaks up the milk and fluffs up nicely.
  4. Add addition milk if desired and your choice of toppings.
Notes
I topped my oatmeal with ½ cup strawberries, 1 tbsp Wild Friends Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter, 2 tbsp granola, and ½ tbsp flaked coconut.

 

Do you like what you see? Sharing is caring 🙂Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone