Summer Favorites 2017

**I meant to share this post a couple of weeks ago, but apparently forgot to schedule it!**

Hello, everyone! It has been quite some time since I’ve written anything in this space – and I’ve attempted a few times to sit down and pour out some words…only to delete it all. It was a heavy summer filled with loss, hard times, and frustration and the fact that our computer is on its last leg didn’t help much. Yep, I’m typing this post from my phone…totally not fun, but it’s helping to force me to let go of “perfection.” All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone and aren’t edited. These words were typed in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. 

{{I’m dedicating this post to Jen, one of my best friends. Thank you for always inspiring me and pushing me in ways you will probably never realize…I don’t think I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude.}}

This was definitely not a normal summer for us – usually we went on a new (or revisited an old favorite) hike each week, but with all of the wildfires, we were forced to stay indoors for most of it to spare our lungs.

BUT it’s officially Autumn and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m ready to pull out the heavy blankets, cozy sweaters, and let go of summer. I’m ready to welcome change in every sense of the word. Before I say goodbye to summer, I wanted to share a quick…or not so quick recap of my favorites!

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**If you’re used to reading my “favorites” posts, you’ll know they’re always organized by products, recipes, etc – this post is not. I’ve compiled my favorites here in the order they happened or when they were tried. If I continue with these posts, I’ll definitely go back to a more organized fashion! Hopefully by then our computer will be nicer to me!

SUMMER FAVORITES 2017

We flew to Vermont in June to spend a couple of weeks with Josh’s family and to get away from tourist crazy Bend! Felt good to visit with everyone. While there, we took a road trip to Rhode Island to spend a day with Jen and Tyler!!! (Seriously my favorite people) It’s truly incredible to spend time with people who just get you. Conversations flow and it’s definitely nice to not have to explain your reasoning behind certain choices (lifestyle, diet, etc) because for the most part, our values align. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m grateful to have them in my life.


Playing KUBB with Josh’s family! Even Willow got into it! If you haven’t played this lawn game, definitely check it out! Loads of fun!

Spending a couple of hours at The Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont. It’s amazing to watch your child light up with excitement to learn. I think she needs a microscope for Christmas…she literally spent 30+min using it!


Another highlight….FINALLY getting to meet Jen and Mike (and Eily + Taco) in real life! They came through Bend in July and we got to spend a few days with them. Feels like we’ve been friends forever and I know we will be. If you’re not familiar with their Etsy shop, Compassionate Paws, definitely check them out. 


Teaching Willow how to play UNO. Let’s just say there were a few days of nonstop games. So fun!

Josh and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary with a hike! My parents were so kind to spend the day with Willow while we finally got to complete this gorgeous hike at Clear Lake.

While in Rhode Island, Jen sent us home with some goodies and this tea became my favorite. I loved it so much that I shared some with my Mom. 

Vegan Lemon Sauce with Basil >> The Vegan 8 >> Yet another fantastic recipe from Brandi! So rich in flavor with the perfect lemon tang and the basil is a lovely addition. We used potato noodles (made with our spiralizer) instead of edamame noodles. I used leftover sauce on roasted veggies the following day. SO good!

FERRERAW ROCHERS >> @mindful_moose eBook >>  Jess and I have been long time friends on Instagram and I was so excited when she released this beauty of a book! Lots of delicious recipes. It’s no surprise that our first choice was a decadent chocolate recipe. Willow and I had a blast making these and my entire family approved!

CRISPY ROASTED CURRIED CAULIFLOWER >> @thefitforkfeed >> Lindsay shares my love for cauliflower and curry so I obviously jumped on this recipe as soon as she shared it on her page!! She shares a lot of amazing recipes within her posts on IG – I would highly recommend giving her a “follow!”

Oh!

And Wildbrine’s fermented Sriracha! We love how it’s raw and doesn’t contain things like citric acid, “natural flavors,” sugar, etc. It tastes SO fresh!

Poor photo, but I can’t say it enough, I wish everyone would watch this documentary! Such an eye opener and I really enjoyed the variety of doctors interviewed and how it didn’t feel like a preachy film. I learned a lot!

Watching the solar eclipse with Willow and my Dad! Thanks, Mom, for making that awesome setup for Willow to ease my worried mind!

MAPLE WALNUT CREAM CHEESE >> Veggie Inspired Journey >> I could cry. The photo somehow got erased from my phone!! But if you click HERE, I’m hoping you can see the photo I posted on IG. This was a huge family hit (entire family, including my Oma). We paired it with banana bread and Willow ate a good bit by the spoonful! Haha!

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Buddha Chocolate Coffee Fudge Cups. Oh, my. Paleo, vegan, and worth every penny. And it’s an Oregon company! We found this at Market of Choice here in Bend and they were sold out of all the other options by this company….which made me believe it had to be amazing. I can’t wait to try other products!

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Remember how I said Jen sent me home with some goodies?? Well, she included some books (the bottom three in the stack below). I spent all of my summer with my nose in a book and these were my absolute favorite! The Outlander series is incredible and while I’m dying to start the fourth one, I decided to take a little breather and read something else! Ha! I have reviews for most of these on Goodreads. Are you on there??? If you are please let me know! And if you’re not (and you’re a big reader), definitely check it out!

I just have to add…Lily and the Octopus has my heart. SO GOOD!!! Even Josh read it and loved it!

Acorn ring made by Tamara of The Striped Cat Metalworks >> You guys. Have you seen her creations? I’ve been following her for a while on IG and have admired her craftiness….when she posted about this acorn ring and that a portion of the sales go to help the squirrels, I had to order one. And guess what? When my order arrived I was so surprised to see a little ring she made just for Willow! You can absolutely feel the love she puts into her work.

Circle Creations: 3 Cami Bra Package Deal

I will be the first to admit that I am “cheap” with some things. Bras were one of them. In the past I would get them from Target or Kohls…and I hated every single one. They were uncomfortable or broke after a few washes or wears. Finally, last month, I said, “I’m done. I NEED to find a bra I can get behind and one that is made with organic materials.” I immediately went to Etsy and ended up finding a shop in Oregon. I was SO hesitant to invest more than my usual $10-20 per bra, but I took the plunge and ordered a three pack! After reading every single review, I chose to order up from my usual size small and I’m glad I did. I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE BRAS!!!!! Hands down the most comfortable bra I have ever owned – I honestly forget I’m even wearing it. They’re beautifully and wonderfully made, they were shipped fast, and I feel good supporting a company who uses sustainable materials. Click HERE to view these bras. Also know that they offer them for sale individually for $36.

Nothing new, but being silly with this kid is my favorite. And this was probably my favorite Instagram post in a long time. It felt good to not care what people think and to really connect with people. I seriously had so much fun reading the comments and thank you to those who played along!

Homeschooling a kindergartner now! Woohoo! Crazy how fast time flies. She’s not a baby anymore!


3-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Pots >> Feasting on Fruit >> If you have a major sweet tooth AND you love chocolate (who doesn’t???) then you need to try these!! They’re fluffy, dreamy, crazy rich pots of deliciousness. And believe me, you’ll only be able to take a few bites…it’s that rich.

Favorite local shop! Forge Humanity. Beautiful space, amazing people, and every single product goes to support a cause. For example, this book I bought Willow helps give 10 people clean water for a year! If you’re ever in Bend, Oregon, definitely stop in! 


Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel >> The Vegan 8 >> This is a recipe of Brandi’s from 2014!!!! And I finally tried it last month for the first time. If you know me, you know I’m addicted to tahini. BUT for those of you who are not, rest assured these aren’t strong in tahini flavor. Definitely rich and a small square is plenty, but that bite of spiced caramel is heaven. It truly makes these bars fantastic and pairs so perfectly with the lemon. This was absolutely with the wait and will definitely be a repeat recipe.

Coconut Secret UnGranola Bar: I. Am. Hooked!!!!!! Found these at Market of Choice and I was so excited! I should add that Willow is obsessed with them too! I love that they’re grain-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free (sweetened with coconut nectar), and they use fair trade chocolate!

Also, these Chaco sandals are the best. I have worn nothing else (literally every single day) for the last five months and I’ll be sad when I have to break out socks. I have worn these on 5+ mile hikes and normal every day wear – so comfortable!

Went on a date with Josh to Salud! All raw and everything is delicious! We found a coupon for buy one get one half off so we took advantage. We love this spot, but prefer to save money and eat at home. Our meals were amazing though (as usual). Plus it feels good to support a local business who cares about health!

Addicting. That is all I will say….


Chocolate Monkey Bread >> Feasting on Fruit >> I’ve never actually had monkey bread before and after having this version, I don’t think I need to try another…because it’s amazing!! Fudgy, gooey, balls of brownie. BUT it’s fruit sweetened, grain-free, and vegan (of course). This was gone in a flash and we’ll definitely make it again for soon!

The Fit Fork Feed : Everything Bagel Crusted Cauliflower >> She shared this recipe on her Instagram…if you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll tag you in her post! I hope this works…click HERE to see her IG post.


Favorite movies that Josh and I saw in the theater:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • Wonder Woman 
  • Baby Driver

As always, I would LOVE to hear from you. Tell me some of your favorites from the summer! Books? Movies? Recipes? Moments? 

Thanks for stopping by!

❤️

There’s More to Health than What You Eat…

I debated long and hard about writing this post, probably lots of overthinking, but when I realized that sharing my journey is not only what this blog is all about, there’s also a chance it could help someone else. I had a big wake-up call this summer and knowing that all of it could have been prevented is what pushed me to share this with all of you.

So grab a cup of tea, a snack, and get comfortable as I’m about to share a rather lengthy personal journey…


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been absent almost all summer. I’ve been known to take a break here and there, but never for more than a few weeks. It all started when I met a friend for tea back in June and we got to talking about social media. She one day decided to completely delete her IG account to be more present in real life. We talked about our frustrations with the lack of authenticity, how everything appears to be perfectly staged, and how time consuming social media is. After we parted ways that day, I decided I really needed some time away from all of it. I noticed how I would get anxious about even opening the  app because that meant having to respond to all of the comments and catch up on everyone else’s pages. It felt overwhelming and I was struggling with balance. I also struggled with the behavior and energy received while on IG. The whole “follow for follow,” “like for like,” “comment for comment,” was unappealing, not to mention being a smaller page and blog, I allowed myself to feel unworthy. Unimportant.

But please know that IG was just a small portion of my stress.

In July, I started to notice that I wasn’t feeling or acting like my usual self. Everything felt off and I hated it, so rather than pushing down all of the feelings, I reached out to our naturopath. When I met with her the first time (mid-August), I rattled off my symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Poor digestion (bloating, pain, inflammation)
  • Irritability
  • High anxiety and stress
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in usual things

She took a small blood sample and we looked at it under the microscope together. It showed heart, adrenal, and colon stress. Wow. She had a pretty good idea as to what was going on, but ordered a full blood work up to get an accurate reading. What I found out shocked me and took several days to process it. Here’s what the results showed:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Chronic viral infection
  • Signs of hyperthyroid
  • Low stomach acid
  • Malabsorption of Vitamin D, zinc, and protein

What? How can that be?! I’ll tell you why….

STRESS.

All of the stress had caused adrenal fatigue and since my adrenals were so overworked, my thyroid stepped up in an attempt to balance everything. This just goes to show how amazing our bodies are – they work very hard to protect us. My gut also needs some serious love and with low stomach acid, it’s causing quite a bit of discomfort with a lot of foods.

I’m not going to go into detail about how I allowed the stress of several situations get the better of me and to be quite honest, after discussing all of it with my naturopath, this could go back years. Factor in the key element of me being an empath, I’ve endured many, many years of stress and being affected by others emotions and energies.

So what now? How do I heal?

My naturopath put me on a supplement schedule since my body isn’t absorbing it from whole foods and I have been going back to check in with her – we’ll do another blood work up in a couple of months. Along with supplements, I was told to take time for ME. That has meant asking for help – with Willow and things around the house. My Mom is helping out one day a week with watching Willow so that I can do something for me…and that does NOT mean running errands or cleaning. This means anything that will help my well-being: yoga without Willow climbing all over me or calling for me, writing, reading, or even taking a nap. I have learned that the healing process for adrenal fatigue could take up to a year (depending on the person and lifestyle changes made).

I struggled so much to share this with anyone because I thought I was healthy because I ate healthy. When I received the results, I instantly felt like I had failed, like I was a fraud. Here’s the thing, there is SO much more to health than what we eat. Outside factors can greatly impact our health – lack of sleep, pushing yourself too hard, working too much, lack of quiet/down time, toxic relationships, etc. Yes, diet plays a huge role in health, but if you are stressed, you run the risk of very serious issues.

Did you know that chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide)? And that 75-90 percent of doctor’s visits are stress related? That just goes to show not only how serious stress is, but also how prevalent it is. I feel incredibly grateful to be in tune with my body and recognize early signs, as opposed to running my body completely down and facing a far more serious diagnosis.

For me, my battle is feeling like I have to do it all. What I’m learning is that I can’t and that our bodies aren’t designed to undergo that kind of thinking. I kept getting myself in that trap by seeing posts on IG of other moms who appear to be doing it all (exercise, work, household chores, parenting, etc.) when in reality I need (and YOU) to remember that you only get a snapshot on social media…you don’t get the full picture and often times things are edited or just not shared. So we need to stop comparing what we think others are doing and just BE. Do what feels right to you and if that means moving at a slower pace, taking a break, or posting “imperfect” photos, do it.

 

Just like each individual is different,  each one of us will react and handle stress in different ways. One person’s method may not work for the next person. Life would be so much easier if there was a universal way, a way that fit everyone. The key is finding ways to help YOU. It may take some time, lots of patience, and testing out various methods to fine tune your personal way(s) of coping.

There's More to Health than What You EatThere's More to Health than What You Eat
Here are some tips & methods that have been working for me and also for those close to me…

TIPS TO REDUCE STRESS:

  • Quit the caffeine (coffee, soda, caffeinated tea). I loved drinking coffee, but cut it out of my diet back in March and never looked back. I drink a cup or two of herbal tea a day as it relaxes me and contains beneficial ingredients. Coffee actually promotes stress hormones – It may be difficult to let go of, but your body will thank you.
  • Meditate. I have gotten back into the habit of daily meditation and it has done wonders for my health and well-being. If you find you’re one to be easily distracted and can’t sit still, there are wonderful apps and podcasts that have guided meditations. I use Headspace and Calm – both are free to download via iTunes and offer sessions as short as 10 minutes!
  • Breathe. An obvious one, but sometimes when you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, you tense up and either hold your breath or breathing becomes erratic. Take a few really deep breaths and try to focus on just that. *PLEASE do not ever tell a stressed out person to just breathe or calm down…trust me, it makes matters worse.*
  • Get in the habit of journaling and doing free-writing. Take a moment out of your day to sit and write – don’t think about it too much and just let the pen take off. Write about whatever comes to mind. I like to do this just before bed (usually before meditating) so that I can go to bed with a clear head, I’ve emptied my thoughts and can hit the pillow completely relaxed.
  • Sleep. Sounds silly, but how many hours of sleep are you getting a night? If we’re being honest here, I was only getting 4-5 hours a night because I would be catching up on Instagram after Willow fell asleep and then try and read before finally going to bed around 1-2am. Now, most nights I’m not far behind Willow – I fall asleep between 9:30-10:30 and get a full nights sleep (unless Willow wakes up in the middle of the night). They actually recommend for anyone with adrenal fatigue to go to bed no later than 10:30pm.
  • Get outside! Go for a walk, a hike, a run, or meditate in the grass. The fresh air and sunshine will do wonders. Not to mention getting some vitamin D!
  • Yoga. There are several YouTube channels for yoga or head over to Amazon to purchase some DVDs.  Doing yoga and stretching helps to keep you in the present moment while releasing any tension in the body. Below are the videos I enjoy (I’ve been using the Kundalini yoga dvd for several years and love it)…Willow and I occasionally do yoga together and her DVDs are a huge stress reliever as they’re silly and fun!

There's More to Health than What You Eat

  • Exercise. If you have adrenal fatigue, ignore this tip. I was told to stick with yoga, but for the typical person, exercise (running, cardio, etc.) can be a wonderful way to release stress.
  • Limit your screen time (TV, computer) and gadget/technology time (phone, iPad, Kindle, etc.) – especially before bed. In her recent post, Heather of Yum Universe suggested charging your phone in the kitchen and leaving it there…don’t bring it upstairs with you when you go to bed. I have drastically reduced the time I spend on my phone and I stop using it at least an hour before going to bed. If this is a struggle for you, I recommend putting your phone on airplane mode or turning off notifications at night. This helps to resist the urge to check it.
  • Find activities that create a sense of peace and calming within. For me, that is coloring, doing zentangles, reading, and listening to music. When Willow wants to color, I grab my coloring books and join her – it’s actually become quite the family activity these days.

  • Clean house. Both literally and figuratively. Declutter your home and let go of anything that no longer serves a purpose in your life – let go of the things that no longer bring you joy. This is not easy to do and sometimes this could include toxic relationships – those who either don’t support you, criticize, or hold you back from being happy.
  • Ask for help. If you’re like me, this is easier said than done, BUT absolutely necessary. Recognize those who support you and do not hesitate to lean on them during times of imbalance.
  • Talk about it! Reach out to your good friends and family – be open about your struggles – more often than not, you’re going to find out that you are NOT alone. Everyone is struggling with something and talking about it is therapeutic. In talking about it with those close to me, I found out that two other people happen to be in very similar situations health wise…all due to stress as well.
  • Know your limits and learn how to say no. Remember that you are human, one human, and can’t do it all. Only take on as much as you feel comfortable with. I think it’s great to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, but if you are susceptible to stress or anxiety, know your body’s capacity and DO NOT allow yourself to reach a breaking point.
  • Let go of the idea that everything needs to be checked off your to-do list before bed. Do you make to-do lists? Mentally or physically on paper? I do. I’m kind of obsessed with lists because it helps my mama brain keep track of things – even little things like sweeping the floor. I’ve learned that lists are great, but they don’t need to be done in a day. My house might be a bit messier, but my stress level is down…and I’m learning to be OK with that.
  • Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future…put your focus on being present. I know how difficult this can be and that is why meditation is key. Being mindful of the here and now is what truly matters.
  • Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Have faith.

I can already hear some of you saying, “I don’t have time to…” And here’s the reality: We ALL HAVE TIME. We just choose to spend it differently. You will have to make adjustments in your life or put other things on the back burner and that’s OK! Pick up the phone and actually talk with a friend – not a rushed text. If you haven’t read a book in forever, start reading a chapter or two of a book that’s been on your list – instead of spending time doing things you think need to be done. I think you get the idea 🙂

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So what does this mean for me? This blog? Social media?


I’m taking things day by day and putting sleep + rest as a priority. I’m making meditation a daily habit and surrounding myself with all the good energy I can. I’ve realized that with Josh’s work schedule, I absolutely NEED to ask my Mom for help more…being a full-time, stay-at-home mom can be challenging, especially since I’ve also taken on the role as homeschooler.

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As for the blog…I am very passionate about this blog and while I know it lacks good photography, it is my therapeutic outlet…even if only a handful of people read a post. I enjoy it and the people I connect with here. I am a casual “blogger” in that I get posts up when I feel like and it’s more of a hobby than a career – so I’ve also stopped comparing my little blog with others. I do what I can and I’m at peace with that.

Since I’m also playing around with my diet and making some adjustments, there might be either a lack of recipes here or recipes out of the norm…but always vegan! I will absolutely NOT stray away from being plant-based. I’ve been nut-free for a week now and feel better than I’ve felt in months – I’m also experimenting with AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) – which means no grains, nightshades, beans, nuts + seeds, and certain spices….which is super hard, but if it means healing, I’m all about it. Thank goodness for my cousin (she introduced me to AIP) and all of the crafty people out there creating recipes to fit that diet! My energy is at an all time high and my mood has drastically changed…not to mention my gut loves me!

A sneak peek of what’s coming to the blog soon…


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Hmmm. As for social media, I haven’t really decided. I deeply miss many of the people on Instagram, but I’m also enjoying being more present and building stronger connections with those close to me. During this absence, I’ve had several reach out to me via email and/or text with the very same complaints about social media – that it’s a comparison trap and feels like a competition. I truly LOVE the connections that I have made there and if I do return, I will be limiting my time on there during this healing process. To some of you all of this might sound over dramatic or way off base and that might be because you’ve got your stress under control or you stand confidently in your place – for that I genuinely applaud you.

I am a work in progress. I am forever learning and growing. I am healing.

To those reading this, if you’re struggling, please know that you are NOT alone. You are worthy of love and healing. We all are. Please reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Do not put your health on the back burner like I did.

If you’re reading this and you know someone who is struggling, offer help or an ear. Never minimize their struggles or tell them that they’re overreacting because in their mind, it’s a huge deal. Be supportive and patient.
Thank you so much to all who took the time to read my rambles here.

Love and light.

❤️

My Fully Raw Week and What I Ate

In an effort to reset my system and heal my body of any damage from the emotional eating these last few months, I chose to do a week of fully raw. No cooked foods, no oil, only fruit-sweetened, and consumed as much fresh fruit and veggies as my body craved. Things have been stressful and overwhelming here at home and I found myself going back for a second helping of food or eating dessert when I was already feeling full. It was as if I was filling a void of some sort or maybe it was my body’s way of protecting myself from falling into my very old ways of starving myself. Whatever the reason, it needed to stop. My clothes weren’t fitting like they used to, I was sluggish, stressed, and not feeling like my usual self.

Before I got pregnant with Willow, I followed a mostly raw diet so this wasn’t a new transition for me. I go through phases with raw food…it’s definitely easier for me to eat that way in the warmer months, so with the temps feeling like summer, this week was really easy for me. My body literally craved lots of fruit, smoothies, salads and veggies. I also think that reading Medical Medium helped give me the push I needed to heal.

I didn’t plan out a specific meal plan, but when we did our grocery shopping for the week, I stuck to only fresh produce and a few raw snack items. I knew in my mind that I’d be doing a lot of salads, juices, and smoothies, so sticking to our weekly budget, I purchased accordingly. Since my week was successful on so many levels, I decided to share what I ate and include links and/or recipes that helped me. I also unintentionally planned this fully raw week during my cycle and what shocked me most was my energy level. Normally I’m really sluggish, uncomfortable and unmotivated to do much of anything, yet I managed to run, work out and keep up with my very active four-year-old. I had very minor cramps for a few hours on day one, but they went away pretty fast and I didn’t look or feel bloated. During my teens and twenties, I used to have debilitating cramps and fatigue, so this was a HUGE improvement!

You’ll notice in the “what I ate” portion of this post that there were quite a few repeat meals…I have Willow to thank for that! When it came to making smoothies/smoothie bowls, she made the same two requests! She did not eat a fully raw week with me, but came pretty close – she would see what I was eating or drinking and wanted whatever I had instead of the meal I prepared for her.

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TIPS & EQUIPMENT:

  • Know who/where offers the best prices for what you’re looking to buy. We buy the bulk of our organic produce (and frozen fruit) from Trader Joe’s since that’s where Josh works (so we get a discount and the prices are really reasonable). I supplemented with fresh produce from Natural Grocers + Whole Foods — All organic and most of it on sale. As for frozen fruit/veggies, we buy a 3-lb bag of organic antioxidant blend via Costco for under $10 and also a large bag of organic frozen broccoli for around $7…both last us about 1.5-2 weeks. And how can I forget the dates?! Costco is my go-to for dates as you can get a 2-lb container for under $9.
  • To go along with the first “tip” I highly recommend downloading the Whole Foods app to your phone! There’s lots of great coupons and a list of sale items. Most of the time we aren’t able to use the coupons because they’re usually for foods that we don’t eat, BUT there have been a few times where there’s a $5 off produce coupon when you spend $25…so easy to do.
  • Wash and chop fresh fruit/veggies when you get home from shopping, if able. For example, when Josh brought the bag of beets home, I scrubbed, peeled, and chopped them for the week, which made smoothie prep super easy! Also, having everything washed and ready to go made snack time a cinch and throwing a salad together happened really fast.
  • During this fully raw week, my Vita-Mix, spiralizer, and food processor were my best friends! Oh! And my nut milk bag!
  • Soak your nuts/seeds!

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WHAT I ATE:

When I wake up, before I consume anything, I do oil pulling for 15-20 minutes and then I always drink at least 32 ounces of water before eating. I stuck to that routine for this week. Throughout the day I drink at least another 30-40 ounces of water…so I won’t include that in my daily breakdown below.

I learned this really cool trick for oil-pulling a few months ago and it makes it super easy! Gently melt coconut oil (I usually do this by putting it in my dehydrator) and pour into candy molds. I store mine in the fridge and pop one in my mouth first thing in the morning.

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Anything marked with an asterisk (*) means I’ll share the recipe at the end or at least approximate measurements.

MAY 9 – MAY 15, 2016

Monday:

  • BREAKFAST: Sliced banana + apple topped with chopped dates and Ceylon cinnamon
  • SNACK: Gopal’s Nori Power Wrap (curry)
  • LUNCH: Big fruit salad and Humm Chai Kombucha
  • SNACK: Fresh coconut water
  • DINNER: Broccoli-berry smoothie bowl* topped w/ dried mulberries + shredded coconut

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Tuesday:

  • BREAKFAST: Red Velvet Smoothie (minus vanilla extract)
  • SNACK: one banana and 2 Brazil nuts
  • LUNCH: 20 ounces of fresh Cucumber-Celery-Granny Smith Apple Juice and two Spriulina Bites
  • SNACK: Trader Joe’s Organic Dried (unsweetened) Mango Slices
  • DINNER: Zucchini noodles (zoodles) with raw cheeze sauce*

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Wednesday:

  • UPON WAKEUP: 16oz fresh celery juice
  • BREAKFAST: Chia pudding* with sliced banana
  • SNACK: an apple
  • LUNCH: Berry smoothie bowl topped with a drizzle of tahini
  • SNACK: Two Spirulina Bites
  • DINNER: Big salad topped with fresh veggies, sunflower seeds and creamy ranch*

Thursday:

  • BREAKFAST: Red Velvet Smoothie (minus vanilla extract)
  • LUNCH: Cucumber noodles with creamy ranch and Trader Joe’s Micro Greens
  • SNACK: Fresh strawberries
  • DINNER: Broccoli-berry smoothie bowl topped w/ fresh strawberries, dried mulberries, and shredded coconut

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Friday:

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Saturday:

  • BREAKFAST: Red Velvet Smoothie (minus vanilla extract)
  • SNACK: Celery sticks and creamy ranch
  • LUNCH: One avocado + arugula topped w/ garlic, basil, & splash of coconut aminos
  • SNACK: One mini lemon cheesecake (recipe trial)
  • DINNER: Mango-banana-spirulina bowl topped with dried mulberries and shredded coconut

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Sunday:

  • UPON WAKE UP: 16oz fresh celery juice
  • BREAKFAST: Sliced banana + apple topped with chopped dates and Ceylon cinnamon
  • SNACK: Wild Siberian Pine Nut Flakes + cinnamon w/ a splash of fresh almond milk
  • LUNCH: Broccoli-berry smoothie bowl topped with blueberries and coconut butter
  • SNACK: Gopal’s Nori Power Wrap (curry)
  • DINNER: Chia pudding layered with banana-berry sorbet

My Mom had purchased the Pine Nut Flakes a while back via Raw Food World on sale.

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

*RECIPES*

BROCCOLI-BERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL: Blend together —> 1.5-2 frozen bananas, 1 cup frozen broccoli, 1 cup frozen berries, 1-2 pitted Medjool dates and just enough coconut water or fresh nut milk to get the blender going. I changed it up throughout the week and would add one or two of the following: 1/2 tsp. spirulina, small scoop raw vanilla protein powder (unsweetened), 1 Tbsp raw tahini. IF you happen to have any leftover smoothie left, you can freeze it into ice cubes or pour into popsicle molds!

RAW CHEEZE SAUCE: Blend together one (small-med) peeled zucchini, small red bell pepper, 1/4-1/2 cup raw soaked cashews, 1 teaspoon chickpea miso, 1-2 small garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, coconut aminos or Himalayan salt to taste. You can add nutritional yeast if desired, although it’s not considered raw. If the sauce is too thick, you can add some filtered water…but between the soaked (wet) cashews, zucchini and bell pepper, I didn’t need to.

CHIA PUDDING: In a jar, mix together 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup raw milk and 1/3 cup chia seeds. Allow it to sit for a few hours or overnight. Then I blended it together with 3-4 pitted Medjool dates.

CREAMY RANCH DRESSING: I highly recommend my friend, Anjali’s, recipe for Cucumber Ranch Dressing…it’s so good! During this week I used her recipe and then also my own, which you can find HERE – but I used coconut aminos in place of Himalayan salt, added some organic dried chives, and apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.

BANANA-BERRY SORBET: I blended 2.5 frozen bananas with 1 cup frozen berries, 1 Tbsp raw vanilla protein powder and enough water to get it moving.

 

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RESULTS:

This week opened my eyes to what emotional eating had done to my system. I allowed myself to eat an abundance of fresh foods – didn’t limit myself, but rather just followed what my body was craving. I felt really satisfied, light, and energized! Since I did not do this for weight loss, I cannot speak to results in that way, but I will say that my clothes fit so much better and I’ve noticed a change in my overall appearance. My skin went through a brief/minor breakout, but by the end of the seven days, my skin had totally cleared. My body continues to crave fresh fruits and veggies so I’ve been pretty much following a raw-till-4 diet. I’m more mindful with eating and stay in tune with my body. This week absolutely helped me to get back on track and feel my best. This week not only reset my system, but also my mindset – I was reminded of just how healing food can be. By no means was I consuming unhealthy foods prior to this week, but I was overeating and eating too much of the “wrong” carbs, such as pasta and baked goods. I love pasta and won’t stop eating it, but as I’m working on handling stress better, I’ll be limiting my consumption.

Whew…this post was pretty wordy! I apologize for rambling!!!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

REVIEW: April Favorites

Hello, sweet friends!!  Happy May! This might be my shortest ‘Favorites’ post yet as April was somewhat of an off month here. But I still have some good things to share with you!

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Before we dive into my favorite products, I have to share one of our favorite “news” stories. We don’t actually watch the news, since we don’t have cable television, but my Mom informed us of this pretty awesome story…I highly recommend listening to the clip:

Inky The Octopus’s Great Escape: NPR

 

Also, if you’re interested in reading an inspiring blog post, I found this while organizing & cleaning out some of my Pinterest pins (waaaaaay too many pins) and I can’t believe it took me this long to really read it at length. Really makes me think about not only who I am and aspire to be, but also who I surround myself with:

4 Signs of a Woman Worth Following

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A P R I L  F A V O R I T E S:

PRODUCTS WE TRIED & LOVED:

SOMA Evolutionary Refreshment >> Root Brew >> As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I can’t resist trying new kombucha options that pop up in our local natural food stores. Back in my sugary soda drinking days, root beer was my favorite! So you can see why I was drawn to this one. Definitely reminiscent of root beer, but better! SOMA is a company based out of Portland, OR and we LOVE what they’re all about…for example, here’s a bit from their website about “Zero Waste”

Basically, that everything we use in normal operations that can be re-used or re-purposed is, and the recycling bin is the absolute last resort. We know that you can’t throw anything away, because there is no “away”, so we choose products and vendors that come in reusable and less packaging, buy in bulk, get creative.  For example, the wax paper strips that labels come on aren’t recyclable so we donate them to a local funky arts supply store. But if you want some to bake a strip of cookies on, just ask!  And don’t be stingy with those cookies.
Our packaging will always be returnable or reusable, and we really appreciate everyone’s willingness with the bottle deposits.  So far, we’ve kept over 20,000 bottles out of the landfill (where many recycled bottles end up, as making new bottles is cheaper than recycling old ones).

REVIEW: April Favorites

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RECIPES WE TRIED & LOVED:

In April, we stuck with mostly basics and lots of recipes we’ve already tried, but here are two new ones that we fell in love with!

Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Dip >> Veggie Inspired >> I FINALLY tried one of Jenn’s recipes! After months of drooling over posts and compiling a loooooong list of recipes to try, I finally dove in…and also finally subscribed to her blog, which I highly recommend doing! This recipe was wonderful! Creamy, slightly smoky, tangy, and good enough to eat with a spoon. The only adjustment I made was that I left out the liquid smoke since Willow isn’t a huge smoky fan. We dipped oil-free potato wedges in it and also put a dollop on top of our homemade chili! I know I’ll be making plenty more of Jenn’s recipes because I’ve noticed that she uses tahini a good bit and you know how much I LOVE tahini!

REVIEW: April Favorites

Mint Chocolate Chunk Nicecream >> Feasting on Fruit >>  During my pre-vegan days, my all-time favorite ice cream was mint chocolate chip so when Natalie shared a much healthier version, I jumped right on it! Willow and I took some super soft dates and cut them into chunks to throw into our nicecream – I sprinkled a few raw cacao nibs on top of mine. We used spirulina for the green (she gives a few options) and while ours didn’t turn out quite as pretty as Natalie’s, it was incredibly delicious!! Super creamy with just the right amount of mint – a perfect treat for a warm day!

REVIEW: April Favorites

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BOOKS I READ & LOVED:

I read A LOT of new books with Willow last month, here are the ones we really loved:

The Snail and the Whale 

Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1)

Octopus Alone

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Story of Diva and Flea

And here are my favorite reads from the month:

Medical Medium by Anthony William >> If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you saw my post about this book. My best friend, Jen, recommended it to me and then I kept seeing people refer to it on IG, so I took it as a sign that I needed to buy it. When it finally arrived, I couldn’t put it down. I told myself that I was going to take my time with it and read a chapter here and there, but I finished it in three days. He sucks you in with his personal story and how this book came to be AND then he goes and continues to blow your mind with his insight. The book is broken down by various conditions: depression, migraines, PTSD, PMS + menopause, and much more. He points you in the direction to healing foods and foods to avoid, as well as supplements/herbs that can aid in healing. As someone who once battled depression, migraines & anxiety, I can look back and see where I could have done better. Ever since I was a teenager, I struggled hard with PMS and while over the years I have learned how to better cope, this book helped me to have a pain-free, symptom-free month! By implementing a few supplements/herbs and healing foods I noticed drastic changes. The thing about this book is that EVERYONE can benefit from reading it – it doesn’t matter if you’re currently sick, aren’t displaying any symptoms or have already healed…this book is filled with life-changing information. Information that could help future generations. I HIGHLY recommend ordering yourself a copy or downloading the Kindle version!

The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes >> I’ll tell you what, I’ve lucked out with the Kindle First choices I’ve made lately…and this was no exception. The Eagle Tree is a story told through the eyes of March Wong, a fourteen-year old autistic boy, who LOVES to climb trees. One day, while climbing, he discovers this Ponderosa Pine (the Eagle Tree) and learns of its fate. March takes things into his own hands and does what he can to save this tree. I loved how engaging the narration was and thought that the author did a beautiful job.

Take me with you by Catherine Ryan Hyde >> I was in between books and decided to browse the Kindle lending library – that’s when I found this book. It ended up being much better than I anticipated. I got so sucked into the story and characters that I couldn’t put it down. It was a feel-good story, heartwarming, and it made me want to hop in the car and take a road trip!

 

What were some of your favorites from April? Did you read any good books or try a new recipe/product? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for stopping by!

Why I Broke up with “Gums”

If there’s one thing I pride myself in, it’s being in tune with my body. When something feels “off” I don’t look for a quick fix or band-aid to cover up the problem. I’ve learned to dig deep and look for the cause – the root of the problem. Over the last few months, I’ve struggled a bit with feeling bloated (sorry, for the overshare) and my initial thought was that it had to be oats. Back when I had to go gluten-free (nine years ago), I was unable to consume gluten-free oats – I’m talking lots of pain and I looked like I was pregnant. I later became OK with gf oats after doing a cleanse and removing soy from my diet, but back in October, I began to notice the bloating and minor pain returned. I immediately cut oats out of my diet and within a week or two, I started to notice a difference. Fast forward a couple of months….bloating returned, but I hadn’t consumed any oats. I was seriously stumped.

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When I was actually pregnant with Willow, but that’s how I felt when eating the wrong foods.

After a lot of research, looking through our pantry and fridge, and by elimination, I figured out the culprit. GUMS! And I’m not talking about chewing gum, I’m talking about the additives found in SO MANY foods, baked goods, flours, protein powders, beverages, etc. For those with sensitive digestive systems, those who have IBS or other gut issues (leaky gut, etc.), I would HIGHLY recommend doing a little research or some trial and error. The purpose of all of these gums is to act as a “glue” to hold baked goods together (especially gluten-free, vegan items), thicken products such as coconut milk, ice cream, yogurt, etc.

image from LoveToKnow

  • Xanthan Gum – a substance produced by bacterial fermentation (or synthetically) and used in foods as a gelling agent and thickener. It’s actually the same bacteria that causes black spots (“rot”) on broccoli and cauliflower. Since it’s derived mainly from corn or soy, if the products you’re buying aren’t organic and they contain xanthan gum, there’s a very high chance it’s genetically modified (GMO) unless it actually states “certified non GMO.”
  • Guar Gum – actually comes from food and used as a thickener…but can cause stomach upset in those with a sensitive digestive system. Click HERE for a great breakdown about this ingredient.
  • Gellan Gum – similar to xanthan gum in that it is produced by bacterial fermentation.

We had been making our own nut + seed milks for about six years, but would always supplement with a store bought one as well. Being mindful about the ingredient list and avoiding ones that contained carrageenan or sweeteners. Over the last couple of years we got a bit lazy and began to enjoy the convenience of store bought and made less homemade. THEN Kite Hill had to go ahead and create a dreamy soy-free yogurt that actually tasted amazing!! Have you tried it…we were hooked.

Well, it all caught up with me.

The day I dumped out my jar of xanthan gum and tried rinsing it out was the day I woke up. Holy crap. Have you ever tried cleaning that junk up? It was goop-y, slimy and gross…and thinking about that sitting in my system literally made me feel ill. You might be wondering, “why did you have a jar of actual xanthan gum sitting around?!” Answer: for the few times a gluten-free recipe called for it. I know better now.

I thought I was doing an awesome job over the years of watching my intake of xanthan gum (and any other gums), but then I took a closer look. It was in our unsweetened almond milk, yogurt, bread, flatbread pizza crust, crackers and SO much more. All the little things began to add up. I was horrified. Knowing the effect it was taking on me and my sensitive system, I immediately thought, “what is it doing to little Willow?!”

Some of my favorite products contain some type of gum:

  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers Graham Crackers
  • OrganicVille’s Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Organic, soft, corn tortillas
  • Full fat coconut milk (canned)
  • Store bought vegan cheese
  • Kite Hill cream cheese
  • Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
  • Steve’s Ice Cream

None of the above items are things we would consume on a regular basis, but still…crazy to think just how many products contain some type of gum (xanthan, guar, gellan, etc).

Luckily, our favorite protein powders are xanthan gum-free! We LOVE Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend Vanilla and Garden of Life’s Organic Plant Protein (Smooth Chocolate). Again, we don’t use them all the time, but it’s good to know these products don’t contain any sneaky gums.

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I am in NO way trying to scare anyone and don’t claim to be an expert about any of this, BUT I wanted to share my personal experience and how I’ve improved. I also do not want to come off as elitist nor do I judge anyone for consuming pre-packaged foods that contain gums.

Am I cutting gums out 100%? No.

Am I going to do my very best to do so? Yes.

Considering it’s in just about everything that’s store bought/pre-made, I will do what I can to stop purchasing products that contain it and if we happen to go out to eat, I’m not going to stress about it. We’ve always been good about limiting our processed food purchases, but I will be the first to admit that when you’ve had a rough day, week, month, sometimes foods of convenience become a go-to…but planning ahead and food prepping has been huge for us. For the last few weeks we’ve gone back to exclusively making ALL of our milks at home (almond, cashew, hazelnut, hemp) as well as making our own yogurt. Here’s my current go-to  yogurt recipe. We blend it up and let it set in our yogurt maker for 13-14 hours – literally the best texture I’ve had AND way less sweet.

We’ve had our T-Fal yogurt maker for a few years and I can’t seem to find it on Amazon anymore…HERE is one that is similar.

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

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I’ve shared in a few of my posts how we make our own milk, but here’s a quick recap:

1 cup of raw, organic nuts (soaked overnight, drain & rinse)

3.5-4 cups filtered water

Sweeten if desired with maple syrup, coconut sugar or dates

Blend until smooth, strain using a nutmilk bag and store in fridge. You can sweeten if desired, but we always leave it unsweetened since we use it for various savory dishes as well.

It tastes WAY better than any store-bought milk and it’s less expensive.

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

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What about recipes that call for xanthan gum? Pizza crust, breads, etc? You can actually substitute it with psyllium husks!

Now that I’ve rambled all over the place, let me swing it back to the beginning where I talked about oats. I did a test and made some oatmeal…no pains anymore! I’m still limiting my intake just in case and I don’t want to overdo it – even though I’m insanely anxious to make all the recipes I’ve missed out on for the last four months! I’ve been consuming almost no xanthan gum and I no longer look like a pregnant woman and my digestive system is back to normal.

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Since I get so many questions about our favorite breads and flours, here they are and they do not contain “gums”:

Silver Hills Gluten-Free Chia Chia Bread or Gluten-Free Omega Flax Bread (organic, non GMO, sprouted)

King Arthur Gluten-Free Mulit-Purpose Flour >> We don’t use it very often as it is pricey, but it’s the best gf flour you can buy. We find it at Natural Grocers, Whole Foods or order it online (depends on who has the best deal).

Another fantastic gluten-free flour blend is a homemade version found in Somer’s book The Abundance Diet.

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If you’re experiencing stomach cramps, inflammation, migraines/headaches, bloating or any other digestive discomfort, I would definitely take a closer look at your labels – you might be consuming more “gums” than you think…I know I was. And if your kiddo is on a gluten-free “diet” I would absolutely be more mindful of labels.

Here are some articles and/or blog posts that I found interesting and helpful during my quest to learn more about these sneaky ingredients:

And HERE is a book that’s on my to-read list.

Again, I am only sharing this because I found out what was causing trouble for me and maybe this information could help someone else. I’m not a health expert, but I know my body and what it can and cannot tolerate. I urge you to do your own research and make your own conclusions.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Vegan Anniversary!

Happy Vegan Anniversary, to ME! It’s amazing how much things have changed for me over these last NINE years. I’m in a constant state of learning, healing and growing – and I owe it all to making the switch from vegetarian to vegan. Twenty four years ago (just before I started high school) I made the decision to cut all meat products out of my diet after viewing a segment about slaughterhouses. I could no longer look at another animal without thinking about their feelings. There was no adjustment period for me and no cravings because I had the truth about what really goes on tattooed in my brain.

Vegan Anniversary!

 

I didn’t initially go vegan for the animals, but I can definitely say that I will be vegan for life because of the animals. Nine years ago, I was a chronic migraine sufferer and it took one that lasted for three months straight to make me see that something needed to change. After being in and out of the hospital, numerous scans, blood tests, a spinal tap – not one doctor could tell me what was going on. They did tell me that I would have to be on a migraine medication for the rest of my life. One that came with many side effects, but because I put so much faith in doctors at the time, I truly believed that that was my fate.

Vegan Anniversary!

A while later (that persistent migraine still there) a friend took me to a holistic practitioner and guess what his first question was? “Have you ever had an allergy test done?” This question was in regards to food. He was the first person to connect diet to health issues – that listening to your body can heal you. Rather than masking symptoms with pills, get down to the root of the problem, what’s causing the symptoms and stop them! The test results were shocking. The lengthy list revealed foods I had been eating all my life and no joke, when I eliminated every single one, that persistent migraine vanished. That is when I became vegan. I stopped eating dairy and eggs – at first because I was allergic, but a year later, I continued on this path for ethical reasons. I learned that just because they’re not killing the animal to produce milk, cheese or eggs, the cruelty was still there. I began to feel good inside and out AND felt a sense of peace that came with no longer supporting the dairy and egg industries.

Vegan Anniversary

Even after eliminating all animal products, I still battled the occasional migraine and digestion issues. I even had a colonoscopy done due to severe pains and bleeding. There I had learned that the medications (prescribed and OTC) I was taking had done a number on my colon AND I had colitis. Not only was I furious for not taking charge of my own health, but I was mad at the doctors. I made a promise to myself that day to do MY OWN research from there on out and focus on healing my body. Good news is that I’ve been off all medications for the last six years and after doing my own research, I also eliminated all forms of soy. Guess what? Not a single migraine and I’m happy to report that I’ve completely healed every single one of my health issues. Knowing what I know today is the very reason why we made the decision to raise Willow on a plant-based, gluten-free, soy-free “diet” – I want her to feel the very best she can while doing her part to improve our planet. Not only am I proof that food is medicine, but Willow is, too. Not only has she managed to avoid the common cold, ear infections and various other sicknesses, but she’s also thriving!

Vegan Anniversary!

Why am I sharing all of this with you? For two reasons:

(1) “Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel.” ~ Kevin Trudeau

(2) You ARE in control and have the POWER to make a change…not only for yourself, but the planet.

So, stop dieting, turning to pills and thinking that how you’re feeling now is as good as it’s going to get. I’m not saying you have to stop immediately, but vow to make some changes…baby steps even. Read some books or watch a documentary – learning about others transformations, how they healed was a huge eye opener for me. It was all proof that food truly is medicine.

If you’re on the fence about a plant-based diet or would like to learn how our every day choices impact the animals, your health and our planet, I urge you to check out one or a few of these documentaries. I’ve included links and/or trailers, but you can view a lot of these in full via Netflix.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Love and light

Celebration of Life: Remembering Eden

 

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Sometimes, someone crosses your path and changes everything around you. The way you view yourself, how you see the world, your attitude and priorities. Eden was that someone for me and I know for a fact that she impacted anyone and everyone she encountered. ❤

When Eden’s husband, Colin, emailed me to break the news of her passing, I did not expect to react the way that I did. I literally dropped to the floor and cried. It felt almost irrational considering my friendship with Eden never got the chance to go beyond emails and Instagram, but I think that goes to show just who she was – a remarkable, young woman. A true gift to this Earth.

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With Willow by my side while I was sobbing, I chose to welcome the tears and pain rather than wiping it all away. I shared with Willow what happened, briefly touching on her battle with cancer and we spent the next hour or two talking about Eden’s life – who she was and all that she did. Together, we watched the videos on Feed Life and I showed her some photos. Her response was, “Mom, she’s pretty.” More than you know, sweetheart. More than you’ll ever know.

A few days after the news, I felt the need to write about what Eden meant to me and remind myself about all that she taught me. I originally intended on keeping my thoughts private, but as I was pouring the words out on paper, I realized that the world needs to know who this beautiful human being was.

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I had the honor of interviewing Eden for my blog last year and through that interview, my admiration grew leaps and bounds. It also sparked a beautiful friendship. They say that not all superheroes wear capes and this is a prime example. She was the most selfless person I knew as her life was spent helping others – inspiring, teaching and impacting. Eden developed programs in Sri Lanka to help children and families and also co-founded Feed Life with her husband, Colin, where they provided the tools to live a healthy, vibrant, plant-based life. Everything I learned from Eden was not by way of preaching, but rather indirectly through example. I thank the universe every single day for connecting me with such an amazing human being and I wanted to write this post to celebrate her life.

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Eden

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When I first got word of Eden’s passing, I immediately felt guilt and anger. Not towards her, of course, but at myself for all the things I didn’t do or say – and for such a beautiful life being cut short. I remember being so impressed and amazed at all of her accomplishments, along with the list of projects and goals she had. It’s as if she was unstoppable – no limit to what could be done. Through Eden’s life and actions, she taught me rather than comparing yourself with others, to focus on what your gift to the world is. Your purpose. What makes your heart sing. To follow your passions and dreams.

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best-people

Eden also opened my eyes to finding the beauty in everything. It’s easy to dwell in the darkness, to get stuck in the negative mindset. Train your eye to find the light in all things. During all of my conversations with Eden, she never let on to just how bad things were. I knew she had cancer and I knew she had her struggles, but her words were always positive. Whether in her Instagram posts or our exchange of emails, I was always left feeling inspired and more often than not, she shifted my perspective or realigned my spirit. Eden was such a source of peace and encouragement – whenever I think of her, I am filled with joy and honored to have known her.

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I thought I knew all about gratitude, but Eden changed the meaning of the word for me. Thanks to Eden, I acknowledge all that I’m grateful for each and every day. It’s the little things in life, small gifts from the Earth that I give thanks to and feel incredibly blessed. I have gotten in the habit of writing down or saying aloud, what I am grateful for each night before bed – which has also helped me be more present and mindful in life; refocused my priorities, along with who and what really matters.

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LOVE. A four letter word with BIG meaning. Eden helped me with self-love and the importance of not only filling yourself with love, but also spreading it to others. Words are a powerful thing and choosing to express yourself in a positive light, to shine on others strengths is a beautiful gift. In one of our emails we discussed one of my struggles and how I let others actions (whether directed at me or someone else) bring me down. She taught me to continue sending out good energy & love no matter what – to be a light to the world. Love is an essential part of life. And as I’ve learned from reading one of Eden’s favorite book (A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson):

“The way of the miracle-worker is to see all human behavior as one of two things: either love, or a call for love.”

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I know that I didn’t get the chance to tell Eden just how much she meant to me and all the ways she impacted my life, but I’d like to think that on some level, she already knew. She will be deeply missed by many and I know that because of her, lives have been changed for the better. I will forever carry Eden in my heart and one day, I will journey my way to Sedona, put my bare feet on the ground, feel the magic all around and know that she will be there with me in spirit.

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A huge thank you to Colin for helping me with the photos – her beauty and spirit shine through each one. If you’re not already following Feed Life, I encourage you to visit the website and learn more about their mission – Colin plans to continue the work they started together and I would love for him to get all the support he deserves.

My interview with Eden (August 8, 2014): Interview with Eden Elizabeth

Below is the slide show from her Celebration of Life service:

Love and light ❤