REVIEW: Summer Favorites

Hello! Now that Labor Day has come and gone and kids are officially back to school tomorrow around here, it’s fall in my book! I had every intention of keeping up with monthly favorites, but this summer just got away from me. I kept track of the products I enjoyed and books I loved, so this might be a longer “favorites” post than usual. It was a HOT, but fantastic summer. I got to meet some of my wonderful IG friends in real life, travel a little, explore and got some priorities straightened out. All in all, it was a great three months! Ok, grab a snack, maybe a cup of tea and get ready to read this lengthy post!


Veggie Burger Night >> If you know me well, you know that we religiously participate in Taco Tuesday every week. This summer, we started having a loaded veggie burger night. The reason we were finally able to do this is because we found a legit bun (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and vegan) that held it all together. You might remember a long time ago when I reviewed an awesome molasses bread from Happy Campers – an Oregon company that I proudly, happily support. Well, we spotted their Wild Buns a few months ago and I pretty much squealed! I fully admit that they’re pricey and you only get four to a pack, BUT they’re amazing and work way better than two slices of tiny gluten free bread. Natural Grocers carries their breads and buns in the refrigerated area near tortillas and hummus, while Whole Foods carries their stuff in the freezer section. We bounce between using the buns for burger night and either romaine leaves or butter lettuce. Here’s a photo of an epic burger night using the Wild Buns, Hilary’s Eat Well adzuki bean veggie burgers, romaine, heirloom tomato slices, avocado, red onion slices, spicy vegan mayo and a slice of Follow Your Heart Provolone (a nice treat every now and then). Willow obviously has a deconstructed version.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

GoMacro Bars >> These bars aren’t new to me, BUT they were a summer staple for us. We packed them on road trips, took them hiking and kept them on hand for a quick boost of protein. They’re easily my favorite bar on the market right now. I absolutely love the many flavor options and the fact that they use natural, organic ingredients. If you ask Willow what her favorite GoMacro bar is, she’ll tell you it’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (not pictured)…can you blame her?!

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein Powder {Smooth Almond Butter} >> We were introduced to this delicious powder during one of our Whole Foods trips. There’s this really awesome demo gal who gave us samples of the entire line, but we immediately fell in love with the Smooth Almond Butter option…I even liked it more than vanilla, which tells you something. Not only is this line gluten and soy free, but it’s also grain free! My struggle with most protein powders is that they use brown rice, which in my opinion, leaves you with a gritty texture. This is literally one of THE smoothest protein powders we’ve tried. Nothing artificial, just pure ingredients. Over the summer we started using more protein powder when we learned that Willow needed an increase in her intake. We’ve been using this in smoothies, protein bites and various other treats.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Organic Gemini TigerNut Raw Snack >> I was SO excited when our local Whole Foods started carrying this snack! So, what are tigernuts? Well, they’re actually NOT a nut, but rather a small root vegetable! You learned something new, didn’t you?! They’re packed with fiber (40% of our daily recommended intake), iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins. So, how do they taste? Not at all like I expected! They’re a little bit nutty, slightly sweet and crunchy. I’ll grab a small handful for a snack (Willow is not a fan of them…maybe if they were coated in chocolate she’d change her mind) and my next project is to make “milk” with them. Anyone else tried these?!

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Organic REBBL {Superherb Tonic – Forest Berry} >> You might remember me reviewing Rebbl’s Elixirs a few months ago and loving them…well, when our natural food stores started carrying their tonics, I got super excited! I gravitated towards the Forest Berry because I’m a sucker for anything berry. This was AMAZING!!! When I first read the ingredients, I was a bit skeptical as to how the flavor combinations would work, but after the first sip, I fell in love.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful


A little bit berry, minty, a touch earthy and the perfect amount of sweet. I took this with me on a longer road trip and it gave me the boost I needed to drive, but without the crash that most caffeinated sugary beverages leave you with. I still need to try the other two tonic flavors, but for now, I’m obsessed with Forest Berry!

Health-Ade Kombucha {Pink Lady Apple} >> While Humm Kombucha will forever have my heart, I can’t help but try other brands that pop up in our natural food stores. I’ve tried some pretty bad ones, but here’s one that I really enjoyed! Just like I’m a sucker for anything berry, I’m also a fan of anything apple! It reminded me so much of a hard cider, but without the alcohol content. It was crisp, slightly sweet, bubbly and simply delicious!

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

St. Claire’s Organics: Spearmints >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

I used to buy mints all the time before I went vegan, that and chewing gum. Then I opened my eyes to the ingredients…and not just the animal derived ones. I stumbled upon these organic mints while standing in the checkout line at Natural Grocers (they always get you at the register). Right there on the tin, it says “Allergen-free and Vegan” YES, PLEASE! I turned the tin over to find only TWO ingredients listed (Organic molasses granules, organic spearmint essential oil). Molasses! So, of course I got them and I’ve been hooked ever since! When Willow sees me pull out the tin, she immediately asks for one, too. They’ve got a great pop of cool spearmint flavor with a rich, sweet undertone….gotta love molasses.

RW Garcia: 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

We have a love for crunchy snacks…usually in the form of a cracker or a chip and these are fantastic! We got this box (which contains two bags) from Costco and they’re our go-to for hummus! Perfectly crisp with ingredients you can trust!

Love Grown Foods: Mighty Flakes: Chocolate Joy >> Like I said above, we have a thing for crunch and last summer our obsession (ok, Willow’s obsession) was Love Grown Foods Chocolate Power O’s. I’m not typically one to buy prepackaged cereals or granola, but when summertime rolls around, we literally cannot use our oven. So, I read labels like crazy and find the box or bag with the least amount of ingredients and grams of sugar. I really do love the company Love Grown and when I saw on Vitacost that they offered a new cereal option, I immediately added it to my cart. The box is thinner than the Power O’s, which means that next time I need to order two boxes! This cereal did not disappoint. Insanely chocolatey, super crunchy and 1/2 cup contains 3 grams of protein. Not too shabby. I honestly didn’t think Willow would go for it because she is a creature of habit and routine…for a year now she’s been enjoying the Power O’s. But when she saw me eating some with a bit of almond milk, she asked for a bite and then ran to grab her own spoon and proceeded to steal my bowl of cereal. The best part is that you’ve got chocolate milk when the last bite of cereal from your bowl is gone.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful


The Unschooling Unmanual by Nanda Van Gestel >> I read this in two sittings because I just couldn’t put it down. It’s composed of 11 essays (8 writers) and I loved how passionate these writers were. They pull you into their ‘aha’ moments and share how they came upon unschooling. Reading how their children flourished and thrived, spoke to my soul and got me excited for our future journey with Willow and her education. I highly recommend this book to any parent interested in homeschooling and child-led learning.

Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World by Ben Hewitt >> This book pretty much sealed the deal for me as far as choosing which education route to go. His words ignited a fire within and made me feel alive! I want my daughter to have the privilege of following her interests from the get-go. I’m in no way saying that school is all bad, but when I look back at my grade school and high school years, I see where things went very wrong (for me). Being forced to memorize facts and data that I had zero interest in was torture. While I know everyone has a different experience when it comes to school, mine felt very competitive and it took the fun out of learning. When I see or hear the word unschooling, I immediately think “freedom to learn at one’s own pace,” “knowledge is power” and “learn through living.” I realize that this way of education isn’t for everyone, but makes sense to me and for my daughter.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Do yourself a favor and BUY THIS BOOK!!! While browsing the book aisle at Costco, like we do every time, I spotted this book and had to have it. By no means am I a hoarder, but I had noticed that our home was feeling cluttered and I literally felt like I was suffocating. Josh and I started the book right away and got super excited to begin the process. The first area we focused on was our massive book collection. Having three bookworms (nerds) in the house meant that there were books EVERYWHERE. Four sizable book shelves and stacks here and there. I had been lugging some of these books around since my first move to CA…I just couldn’t let go of them. Well, we physically touched every single book in the house and cleared a few boxes worth. Her method is simple and genius. If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. We did the same with clothes, DVDs, files (bill statements, etc.), photos, even my rock collection!! Don’t worry, I didn’t actually get rid of any of the rocks…just moved them to our rock garden outside! The thing that amazed me most was the feeling that came along with throwing items into the “donate” or “trash” pile. A sense of closure and peace filled my core and I just couldn’t stop moving on to the next area of tidying up. While we still have our kitchen items to go through, so far, we’ve cleared out and donated at least a dozen or more boxes and a few trash bags worth of “junk.” Our house still needs some work, but we also have a three-year-old human tornado which leads to everything being scattered about. Seriously, get this book and then pass it along to a friend or family member. I had no idea just how much stuff I was holding onto until I read this book.

The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

I adore Somer!! I connected with her through Instagram and before that, had been following her blog. She is incredibly talented, creative, inspiring and just an overall genuinely kind human being. Obviously, someone I want to know. I was thrilled at the news of her book coming out, so we pre-ordered it through Amazon. I squealed like a kid on Christmas morning when it finally arrived to our doorstep. I immediately thumbed through every page – I took in all the beautiful photos and enjoyed learning a bit more about Somer and her journey. Truly an admirable woman. We incorporated several of her recipes into our menu over the course of a few weeks and LOVED each and every one. Her recipes are simple, gluten-free and she uses wholesome ingredients. Sadly, just after we got the book, the outside temps got too hot to turn on/use our oven, so we had to stick to the recipes that didn’t require oven use….but cooler weather is coming fast – I can’t wait! Here are the recipes we tried and loved:

  • Somer’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • Apple Pie Green Smoothie
  • Annie’s Da Cherry Bomb Smoothie
  • Choco Nana Green Smoothie
  • Chocolate-Covered Blues Green Smoothie
  • Vegan Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes
  • Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
  • Tahini Cream Salad Dressing
  • Oil-Free Goddess Dressing
  • Lentil Taco Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
  • Cheesiest Potato Soup
  • Tomato Basil Bisque
  • No Bake, No Stovetop Cookie Bites
  • Cherry Garcia Soft-Serve

Tres Green Tres Clean Tres Chic by Rebecca Leffler >> If I had to sum up this book in ONE word, it would be FUN!!! I love the way she writes – it’s as if she’s sitting across the table from you and you’re chatting over tea. I knew that I was going to adore her and this book when I read this sentence on page 8: “When in doubt…pour tahini sauce over anything and everything.” YES!!!!!!!! Her sense of humor is fantastic (lots of great one liners) and while I still have a TON of recipes to make from this book, just glancing over the ingredient lists make me happy. The book is all gluten-free, refined sugar-free and soy-free…so, obviously a winner. She also has the book sectioned off by seasons…and the photos are beautiful! So, what makes this book fun? It doesn’t just contain recipes – in fact, she shares awesome playlists, yoga poses and beauty treatments. This book is loaded with positive energy and “clean” recipes! Here are the few that we’ve tried and loved:

  • Hippie-Chic Hemp Milk
  • Miso Butter
  • Hemp Sprinkle
  • Tahini Hollandaise
  • Sophisticated Summer Rolls
  • Zucchini Fettuccine with Creamy Pine Nut Alfredo Sauce

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful


The Vegan 8 >> If you’ve been following my blog or IG for a while, you know my love for Brandi. Not only is she an incredible recipe creator and photographer, but she’s also become a very dear friend of mine. Her recipes get added to our menu all the time and many of them we make again and again because we love them so much. Here are the ones we enjoyed over the summer:

  • Nut-Free Double Chocolate Molasses Granola > Double chocolate AND molasses? This had my name written all over it! I made this a few times when we had some cooler days and it was gone in a flash because it was SO GOOD. I made it with almond butter because we typically don’t have sunflower butter on hand and we couldn’t stop eating it. Do yourself a favor and make a double batch…or triple.
  • Barbecue Potato Salad > Potatoes. We love them and come fall and winter, we’re roasting them a few times a week. Sadly, when we made this recipe, it was too hot to roast the potatoes (like the recipe says), so we cooked them on the stove. I could see how roasted would work a bit better in this case, but this was still delicious! I loved the sweet, tangy flavor of the BBQ sauce and the crunch of the celery. Such a simple, creative take on the average potato salad. I’ll be making this again soon!
  • Southwest Lime Corn Salad > Over this summer, I grew an obsession for all things lime. So, I knew as soon as I saw this recipe, I had to try it. Such fresh, simple, flavorful dish! We enjoyed this in a wrap with chopped romaine…soooo good! Perfect summer meal or snack!
  • Vegan Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese > I’ve made a few attempts at making my own cream cheese, but never succeeded. It was missing something…ok, a lot of something. TANG! Leave it to Brandi to nail the recipe. Insanely easy to make and she captured everything I loved about the dairy cream cheese I loved so much years ago. I saw Sophia (Veggies Don’t Bite) make it with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and I had to copy her! What a wonderful flavor combo – smoky, tangy, and FULL of flavor. We made sandwiches with this, wraps, spread it on toast and crackers. This will be a staple in our house!

Veggies Don’t Bite >> I just adore Sophia! Her originality, honest, genuine spirit is a breath of fresh air. Not to mention, her recipes are pretty much fantastic! She’s also started this awesome feature in her blog posts where she shares how to make baby and/or toddler meals using the same ingredients for the main recipe…which I know could be very helpful to many of you. Genius, right?! So, GO check out her blog if you aren’t already subscribed! Here are the ones we enjoyed over the summer:

  • Summer Veggie & Bean Soup > I have to laugh because when we made this ours looked awful. Like a dark green smoothie! Ha! Nothing like her beautiful photos on IG and her blog….BUT it tasted delicious! Seconds were had, Willow enjoyed and the leftovers were even better! I love how many veggies are packed in the soup and how it made a big batch – we’re huge fans of leftovers!
  • The Ultimate “Cheese” Sauce > I’m a sucker for any new “cheese” sauce – I just have to try all of them. So, when I got the email that Sophia had posted her version, we made it straight away! We used it to make mac n cheese, veggie bowls and also paired it with some steamed broccoli. SO creamy, “cheesy” and delicious! Hers is the first one I’ve had that didn’t call for nutritional yeast, so I was intrigued. I’m a fan of “nooch” and find myself adding it to many sauces and dressings, it was nice to see a version without it.
  • Light and Creamy Peanut Sauce > I’ve declared Sophia the “Sauce Queen” because not only does she have a TON of sauce recipes, but they’re all amazing. I’m a HUGE fan of peanut sauces, but 99% of them are pretty high in fat. Not that I’m watching or restricting my fat intake, but it’s nice to have an option that still tastes like the real thing…the high fat ones we’re used to! I LOVED this sauce. We paired it with summer rolls and also used it as a salad dressing. I have plans to make this again to use in a roasted veggie bowl. SOOOOO good.

Vegetarian Gastronomy >> Anjali is a sweet mama and wonderful recipe creator. Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed connecting with her and trying some of her delicious recipes. Here are the ones we loved:

  • The Ultimate Taco Salad with Savory Walnut Sun-Dried Tomato Crumble > Just. WOW. This was an explosion of flavors that left us “ooooohhhhing” and “aaaahhhhing” with each bite. Not to mention, the salad itself was almost too pretty to eat…almost. Such a great combo of sweet, crunchy, savory and a little bit spicy. We chose to keep the crumble more on the mild side for Willow’s sake, but she sadly wouldn’t even try it. More for us! We’ve made the crumble a few times and used it in wraps, salads, tacos and I’m not going to lie…I ate it right out of the food processor! Within this delicious recipe are two of her recipes:
  • Creamy Cilantro Tahini Sauce > Tahini. Enough said. Ok, I have a few more words to add…I’m not typically a huge cilantro fan, but I couldn’t get enough of this dressing/sauce.
  • Savory Walnut Sun-Dried Tomato Crumble > I’ve been making my own walnut taco “meat” for years, but Anjali’s is way better! You MUST make this for your next taco night!

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Feasting on Fruit >> Natalie is one of the sweetest people I’ve connected with over the last few months and has quickly become one of my favorites. I love her love for sweet things and creativity using just a handful of ingredients. Not to mention most of her recipes are kid friendly! I have a pretty lengthy list of her recipes I plan to make this fall (now that the use of the oven is back), but here are the few we’ve tried and loved! Please check out her YouTube channel, too! I love listening to her talk and watching her creations being made step by step.

  • Vegan Snickerdoodles > I LOVE cinnamon-sugar anything. The coconut sugar and cinnamon combo is a match made in heaven. We use both all the time, but sometimes I forget just how perfectly they go together. This cookie recipe is fantastic! Simple to make and the flavors remind me so much of the snickerdoodles I ate as a kid. We paired these with some cashew milk ice cream…YUM!
  • PB&J Popcorn > Genius. Popcorn is one of our favorite guilt-free snacks, but Natalie took it to the next level and threw in the best, classic combo…PB&J! We’ve never had or purchased powdered peanut butter, so I used the full fat creamy peanut butter that we always use. The end result was a bit thicker than what Natalie’s pictures show, but it was incredible! I love the use of freeze-dried strawberries for the “jelly or jam” part. Beautiful to look at and satisfied the sweet, crunchy snack I was looking for.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

  • Everything-Free Chocolate Cupcakes > Now, I didn’t make these over the summer, but I did make them earlier this year…before I even knew who Natalie was. I simply Googled an allergen free chocolate cupcake and hers was one of the first to pop up. DELICIOUS. And the frosting…amazing. So good that you could eat it by itself…who needs a cupcake?! But seriously, try this recipe!

Unconventional Baker >> Oh, Audrey. My tahini-addict, molasses loving, sweet treat friend. Her account is filled with drool worthy recipes and photos. Her photography really stands out…dream-like, rustic and the close up shots kill me. I want to dive into the screen and devour each post. And guess what? I can! Well, devour each recipe that is because they’re all gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and soy-free. So, pure heaven. Audrey is another person that I’ve connected with this year and have grown to truly adore. I look forward to her posts, reading her captions and seeing what fantastic new combo she’s come up with. Here are the recipes we’ve tried and loved:

  • No Churn, Dairy-Free Almond Butter Ice Cream {Raw & Fruit Sweetened} > Holy rich, creamy heaven. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Literally blend up and freeze…that is if your mixture even makes it to the freezer! Ha! I licked the Vitamix clean and tried ever so patiently to wait for it to firm up…I ended up falling asleep waiting for it, so I enjoyed some for breakfast. No shame. No joke, this is rich. So rich that I couldn’t finish a full scoop, but that’s ok. It meant that the ice cream eating continued for days. Make this.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

  • Easy Basic Sweet or Savory Crepes > Oh. My. Goodness!!!! It’s been YEARS, I’m talking forever, since I’ve had a crepe. The last time was during my vegetarian days and I had never made them myself. I was intimidated by the process, but Audrey has created a THREE ingredient masterpiece here. We ate these for two mornings straight and I want more. My mom even made them (she’s not vegan) and LOVED them. YAY! We filled ours with fresh raspberries and bananas…and Audrey’s Nutella spread (I’ll link a recipe to that below). I love how she warns you that you’re going to wreck the first one…I wrecked more than the first one, which is why Josh took over! But round two the next day, I got the hang of the flipping thing. Next time we make these, I’d like to go the savory route…I can’t wait!
  • Nutella-Style Espresso Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Frosting or Spread > When I saw Audrey pair this with her crepes, I knew that I had to do the same. To keep it Willow-friendly, I left out the espresso powder…she loved it! We all did! The recipe calls for cacao butter and since I needed it for my Etsy shop, I subbed it with some raw coconut butter and it worked out well. This stuff is so smooth, chocolatey, rich, sweet and goes fast. Josh added it to a peanut butter sandwich for a few days and I found myself adding it to pretty much everything. Apple slices, toast and took a few bites with a spoon. I’d like to make this again using the espresso powder because I know that combo will be amazing.
  • Decadent Spicy Raw Carob Hemp Bites > Audrey succeeded in reminding me just how wonderful carob is. I get so caught up in everything cacao, that I forget how delicious carob is. I made ours without the spice, to once again keep this Willow-friendly. I also made ours smaller and ended up with maybe 15 or 16 bites. The ones rolled in hemp seeds were my favorite! They were very rich and reminiscent of a decadent truffle. So, add these to your “Must Make” list!

The Plant Strong Vegan >> Margaret is a super sweet, beautiful human being and awesome recipe creator. She’s fantastic at recreating the classics and making them vegan. I’m itching to make her “wings” recipes and carrot dogs! Her blog has a healthy balance of sweet treats and savory items and she does a great job at sharing a lot of allergen-friendly recipes. I only got around to making one (but EPIC) recipe of Margaret’s over the summer, but my list of “Must Make” recipes is rather lengthy. I’ve tried a handful of her recipes in the past and have loved each one. With baking season upon us, I’m sure my future favorites blog posts will contain some of her recipes!

  • Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Cheesecake Frosting & Cookie Crumble > Ask Margaret. I was incredibly anxious to make this recipe and with each post of hers I cried a little inside because it was too dang hot to bake or really make anything. BUT when that cooler day did come about, I jumped at the chance to make this! I opted to make cupcakes instead…helps with portion control…sorry, but I’m a chocolate addict and chocolate doesn’t last long in our house…especially when Willow is just as much of an addict (maybe more). We couldn’t find a cookie to use, like she suggested, so we did without. That’s ok because this cake was perfect without it!! Lived up to my expectations and worth the wait! The cake itself wasn’t dry like most gluten-free cakes and it held its shape. The frosting was a perfect match for the cake and tasted so much like cream cheese. Sweet tooth satisfied and chocolate craving met. I’d like to make this again, but as a cake…maybe for the next birthday that’s coming up.

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Kittee >> I took advantage of a cooler day over the summer and made her AMAZING Buffaloed Cauliflower – easily the best version I’ve ever had so far. I made half of it with a lot less hot sauce and Willow devoured it. So, this is a great kid-friendly recipe, too! Do yourself a favor and make this NOW! We just got her book, Teff Love, in the mail recently…so, you can probably expect to hear more about Kittee in future blog posts.

That concludes my incredibly LONG favorites post, thanks for reading this!

Thanks for stopping by!