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!

❤️

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

Hello, friends! Before I dive into this recipe, I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all of the supportive comments on my previous post – means so much to me. I was shocked at how well it was received and even more shocked to learn how many others are in the same boat. Your emails and text messages have helped me to feel less alone and hopeful. I’m sending so much love and healing energy to all of you ❤️

If you read my last post, you know that I’ve made some changes in my diet to reset my system and I’ve had amazing results – more energy, no bloating, pain-free, positive mood changes, clothes fitting better, and hopeful. When I was first introduced to the Autoimmune Protocol, I focused too much on the foods I’d have to avoid, rather than looking at the lengthy list of foods I could eat – it’s all about perspective, right?

Since going vegan almost ten years ago, I’ve consumed nuts & seeds on a daily basis. Heck, almost at every meal if I think about it: nut milk in my smoothies, nuts in granola, cashews to make a creamy sauce or soup, nut or seed butters on toast, in smoothies, in baked goods. The list could go on. Nuts & seeds are in A LOT of vegan products.

Same goes for grains. They’re in our cereals, granola, pancakes, and baked goods. But we also cook them up to go with our lunch or dinner – rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat…well, you get the idea.

My body hasn’t ever had a break from nuts, seeds, and grains – I’m 37 years old – so that’s many days of consuming these foods. I’ve been without nuts and seeds for over two weeks now and without grains, beans, and nightshades for over a week…I’m honestly shocked at how much better I feel. With the AIP diet, they say to do it for 30 days to reset your system – I’m not sure I will go that long since I don’t think I’m getting enough protein (might add beans back in next week) – it’s a harder diet to follow as a vegan.

Eating this way has forced me to get creative, but also reigniting my love for the simple meals…my current favorite dinner is baked yams with sauteed kale, onions, garlic, zucchini, topped with coconut aminos and sliced avocado…gimme those greens! I’ve also fallen in love with these Coconut Paleo Wraps – on the pricey side, so they’re a treat for me. You can find them at pretty much an natural food store or online, but I have found that Whole Foods sells them for the best price. I love using them for both savory (veggie wraps) and sweet (apple crepes) recipes. Oh! And all I can say is coconut butter never tasted so good – now that all of my other nut/seed butters are out – coconut butter is like gold to me! Haha!

*If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to do a post sharing what I eat in a day following this protocol.

If your weather is anything like ours, you’re probably still enjoying smoothies and nice cream without shivering under a blanket just yet 😉 I think this recipe borders on nice cream due to its thickness, but I’m calling it a smoothie bowl since it has a sneaky little veggie in there!

Ahhh, golden beets! Have you tried them? Are you a beet lover? If you’re not a beet fan, golden beets are a lot less “earthy” and overpowering than the vibrant red beets and they also have a perfect sweetness to them. I also love golden beets for their bright, sunshine-y yellow color! I’ve brightened the color even more with some fresh turmeric and mango. My first instinct is to grab the bottle of homemade almond milk, but since I’m not consuming nuts right now, I’ve been using coconut milk, which also gives it a nice tropical twist!

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl
Sunshine Smoothie Bowl {vegan, AIP-friendly, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free}

Serves 1-2

What you need:

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh golden beets, peeled + chopped*
  • 1/2-1 inch chunk of fresh turmeric
  • 2 Tablespoons raw coconut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional; if following AIP do not use extract)
  • coconut milk to blend*

*I have made this with an additional 1/4 cup of beets and it’s still delicious! Just depends on how much of a beet lover yo are. I use Trader Joe’s organic canned coconut milk as it is gum-free. I suggest starting with 1/4 cup, adding more if you’d like a thinner consistency. If you’re OK with gums, then any coconut milk will do…full fat will make it ultra creamy. 

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

How to:

  1. Blend until smooth, pour into a bowl, and enjoy! You can top it with fresh blueberries, dried mulberries, shredded coconut, cinnamon, or granola…or load it up with everything!

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl 

Can’t believe this is the last official week of summer! Are you excited for fall?!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: September Favorites

Hello, friends! I don’t know about you, but September flew by faster than any month so far. Hard to believe that the holidays are fast approaching. You’ll be happy to hear that this post isn’t nearly as long as my Summer Favorites round-up! We didn’t try very many new products and my list of books and recipes is short and sweet. As always, if you have any current favorites, please leave me a comment below!

PRODUCTS WE TRIED & LOVED:

Kite Hill Yogurts >>

REVIEW: September Favorites

Kite Hill is a Whole Foods Exclusive brand @ $1.89/ea

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably read how excited I was when these hit our Whole Foods right around Labor Day. I’ve mentioned Kite Hill in a previous favorites post for their Soft Fresh Truffle Chive & Dill product. When I heard that they were coming out with a yogurt, I knew they were going to be amazing. I’ve purchased quite a few other dairy-free yogurts, but none blew me away. The texture was always off or they were overly sweet. When I pulled back the label of Kite Hill’s Blueberry yogurt, my eyes lit up. No curdled, chunky texture, just smooth, creamy deliciousness. I’ve tried all of the options (Plain, Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry and Peach) and loved every single one. I was never a fan of the fruit-filled or fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, but I have to say, these were outstanding. They didn’t require a lot of stirring/mixing up and the fruit actually tasted fresh. If you ask Willow, she’ll tell you Vanilla is her favorite…but she’ll eat around the fruit in the others.

REVIEW: September Favorites

PASCHA Chocolate: 70% Cacao {Organic, Allergen Free}  >> Another Whole Foods find and well worth the price…although, my mom purchased it (on sale) and put it in my shopping bag when I wasn’t looking. It is often times difficult to find chocolate that doesn’t contain soy lecithin, so I’m always excited when I find a brand that is soy-free. This chocolate is incredibly smooth and rich, but not intense like a lot of dark chocolate (I actually love the really intense flavors). What attracted me most to this company was how they use very few ingredients and all of it fair trade and organic. Their chocolate is also made in a dedicated allergen free facility, which is huge. Our Whole Foods carries two of their full size chocolate bars (as seen in the photo below) and their mini bars. On their website, I noticed that they offer several other options, such as one with maca, lucuma or Arabica coffee. The 70% cacao bar is Willow approved, but I’m pretty sure she’d love them all.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Yumbutter Organic Superfood Peanut Butter >> We’ve tried and loved their sunflower seed butter (mentioned in a favorites post a good bit back) and we finally got around to trying their peanut butter this month. SO good. Willow and I packed it with us to take on a recent rockhounding adventure and it hit the spot with Le Pain des fleurs Organic Buckwheat Crispbread.

Rockhounding treasures! LOTS of agates, Jasper and petrified wood.

Books I Read and Enjoyed:

I’ve read quite a few books over the last month or so, but here are the ones that stood out:

Cold Black Earth by Sam Reaves >> This was another Kindle First (free download) for me and it was a well written murder mystery. I only get to read after Willow is asleep and I found myself staying up until almost 1:00 AM because it was almost impossible to put down. I will admit, the book starts off slow, but stick with it…I promise it’s REALLY good. The author did a fantastic job pulling you in and there were times where my heart was racing and I was holding my breath. It takes place in a small town in Illinois (which is partly why I chose it) and is about a woman who comes back home after leaving the combat zone and a painful divorce in hopes to pick up the pieces. While back home, an inmate escapes from a local prison and murders begin. Just when I thought I had figured out who the killer was, I had to think again!

Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates >> Every so often, we take Willow to Barnes & Noble to browse and sit on the floor to read a few books. We stumbled upon this sweet book and had to get it. She was so excited to add this into our nightly routine – we do each pose as a family before cuddling up in bed to read some books. The illustrations are beautiful and the author does a wonderful job of inducing relaxation. The poses are simple and we find Willow doing them throughout the day on her own. Such a perfect way to end the day.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel >> My mom bought this book for us a good bit ago, but I just finished it last month. While the book is geared towards an older age group (5-12), I found it to be incredibly useful – I recommend it to every parent to read and reread. It’s a book to help with anxiety, stress and to help with concentration. It has definitely helped me to be more mindful over the last month. I’d like to share an excerpt from Chapter 2 (Parenting with Greater Mindfulness):

Presence enables you to be simply here – in contact with this moment. With these feelings and thoughts – open, curious, generous, and without an immediate opinion. Present with that small hand in yours. Present with the temper tantrum. Present with the daily school run. Present in all those moments of happiness, misfortune, routine, and everything in between. The more present you are, the less you miss. This is never a question of good or bad. Being fully present is enough.

This book goes hand in hand with my recent post – Unplug to Reconnect. It’s a gentle reminder to be present in this life – to become more focused and patient. I look forward to reading this again with Willow in a year or two. She wanted to read it now, but when she saw that it wasn’t quite a picture book like she’s used to, she lost interest. The book comes with a CD of guided exercises that I have not listened to yet.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson >> I am still reading this one, but I love it so far. I have my dear friend, Julie, to thank for the recommendation. It’s a young adult book that moves fast and keeps you on the edge of your seat. {Steelheart is book one in a series} The story takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic city (Chicago) where we learn about Epics (people with extraordinary powers – evil) and Reckoners (ordinary people who have made it their mission to learn about the Epics’ individual weaknesses and assassinate them). The main character, David, has made it his life’s mission to eliminate Steelheart.

What I’m watching:

I thought I’d start a section in these ‘Favorites’ posts where I share any movies, shows, documentaries that I’ve watched during the month. We don’t have TV service, not even basic cable, so Netflix and Amazon Prime are our sources of entertainment.

True Detective Season 1 >> Josh and I watched this together via DVDs (eight episodes). It is a HBO series and season one stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey…enough said. Ok, I’m kidding, but seriously, you can’t really beat that pair. With each movie/show that I’ve seen with either one of those actors, I am blown away by their talent. This show wasn’t any different – they become the characters – it doesn’t feel like acting. True Detective is a crime drama about two detectives, “Rust” and “Marty,” and a 17-year manhunt. It’s dark, at times very heavy, but nothing short of amazing. We got sucked into the series before the first episode was even over.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Other shows I’ve been watching on occasion via Netflix & Amazon Prime:

  • Bones season 10
  • Covert Affairs
  • Justified

Recipes we tried and loved:

We made a lot of repeat recipes last month, along with creating our own, but here are the few we fell in love with:

Plant Strong Vegan:

Sriracha Sweet Chili Wings >> Words don’t even begin to describe how amazing this recipe is. The first time we made this, I forgot to grab the sweet chili sauce while grocery shopping, so I had to improvise. I used Coconut Aminos Teriyaki sauce and a little avocado oil. Willow LOVED them! Broccoli is my absolute favorite veggie, so finding new ways to cook it makes me happy. And when your picky toddler approves, even better. No joke, Willow requests this all the time. For example, just today she said to me, “Mom, can Dad bring some broccoli home tomorrow so we can have sticky broccoli?” That’s what she calls it – “sticky broccoli” ❤ We’ve made this several times – using teriyaki sauce and the way Margaret wrote the recipe (using Sriracha and sweet chili sauce)….the spicier recipe isn’t Willow friendly, so we make her a separate batch using a mild sauce of some sort. We made homemade pizza last week and chopped up the wings for a topping, along with some homemade white sauce. I love these way more than cauliflower wings – the texture is incredible and her method is genius. The one thing we learned to do is to brush a little oil on the parchment paper before putting the broccoli on there – makes for easier flipping.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Broccoli wings using Coconut Aminos Teriyaki sauce and avocado oil. Served with organic basmati rice.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Homemade pizza crust using the King Arthur gluten-free pizza crust recipe (leaving out buttermilk powder), topped with homemade white sauce and Plant Strong Vegan’s Sriracha Sweet Chili Wings. Ahhhhmazing!

REVIEW: September Favorites

Creamy Hemp Pesto Alfredo Fettuccine with Oil-Free Roasted Garlic >> This was a three-part recipe and each one fantastic. Just more evidence that hemp seeds are truly magical. I also love that Margaret shared her method for roasting garlic that didn’t require oil OR the use of aluminum foil. The creamy Alfredo sauce didn’t use the typical cashews as a base, which was a nice change…and less expensive to make. I loved how well the pesto paired with the Alfredo – it provided a big pop of flavor and I was pleasantly surprised when Willow approved of this meal. We’ll definitely be adding this recipe into our pasta night rotation!

The Vegan 8:

Fudgy Coconut Butter Brownies >> I knew these were going to be amazing before I even made them. Brandi is incredibly talented at creating dessert recipes that are oil-free. While I no longer follow a strict oil-free “diet” I do like to watch my consumption. If you make these, definitely go the extra step and make your own coconut butter…she provides instruction on how to do that if you’ve never made your own before. The brownies are insanely rich and fudgy – If you love chocolate like we do, you will love these…I promise.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole (Oh She Glows} >> My dear friend, Diana, has raved about this recipe a few times and we FINALLY made it and loved it. Insanely easy to make and a short ingredient list. Sadly, Willow did not try this as she likes things to be separated…black beans on their own, avocado alone, and “noodles” in either cheeze sauce or tomato sauce…so this was far from being a Willow meal. That’s ok, that just meant more for Josh and me! Don’t worry, she didn’t starve, we made sure to prepare a pasta dish for her.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: Golden Latte

Numi Organic Tea - Amber Sun

Last year, I discovered this amazing line of turmeric teas by Numi Organic Tea. They’re one of the few tea companies out there who don’t use bleached tea bags or “natural” flavors – They’re always organic, non-GMO, fair trade and they use REAL fruits, flowers and spices. We’ve been buying this brand from Natural Grocers, but I know you can purchase it at most natural food stores and online, too. My favorite turmeric tea is their Amber Sun – here’s the description from the box (I couldn’t have written it any better myself):

AMBER SUN

A smooth richness radiates through Amber Sun like a warm, healthy glow. This blend of turmeric, rooibos, vanilla beans and a hint of cinnamon offers mellow apple notes with a sweet peppery zest.

Over the winter, I enjoyed a hot mug of this tea at night with a splash of “milk” and a sprinkle of coconut sugar. It was the perfect way for me to relax and unwind after a long day. Now that it’s summertime, I’ve been making cold tea lattes with the Amber Sun tea. Here is my favorite way to enjoy it AND since it’s caffeine-free, Willow can have some, too…she loves it!

RECIPE: Golden Latte // Be Sol-Ful

GOLDEN LATTE: {caffeine-free, soy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, oil-free, nut-free}

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 4-5 soft pitted Medjool dates (or sweeten to taste with pure maple syrup, coconut sugar or coconut nectar)
  • 2 TBSP of raw tahini
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract or ground vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups cold filtered water
  • 9 turmeric tea ice cubes *

* I boiled two cups of water and steeped four bags of Numi’s Amber Sun turmeric tea. Steep for 10-12 minutes, let cool and then pour into ice cube trays.

How to:

  1. Blend the dates, tahini, vanilla, turmeric and start with 1 1/4 cups of cold filtered water.
  2. Once smooth, add in the ice cubes and blend again. If the mixture is too thick for you, add in an additional 1/4 cup of cold water (or more). Blend again.
  3. Pour into glasses and top with a sprinkle of coconut sugar (optional).
  4. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Golden Latte // Be Sol-Ful

I was honestly amazed at how creamy this turned out with only two tablespoons of tahini. I played around with this recipe a few times before I got the texture and flavors down – I knew I finally “perfected” it when Willow asked for more! It has the warm spices reminiscent of a chai latte, but with a bit of zingy kick from the turmeric. Josh said this drink reminded him of almost an eggnog.

RECIPE: Golden Latte // Be Sol-Ful

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: May Favorites

Happy June, everyone!! Like all of the previous months, May flew by just as quickly. It was a bit of a rough month – a combination of rare gloomy weather, plenty of toddler meltdowns and some feelings of stress and being overwhelmed. But it’s a new month and I’m excited for what’s in store. The sun is back and summer is fast approaching which means LOTS of time to soak in the beauty of nature. I’ve got some new (to me) products, but mostly a ton of great recipes we got to try last month!

MAY FAVORITES:

Veggies Don’t Bite Overnight Oats Jar >> It wasn’t until last year when I really got into overnight oats. The thought of eating cold oats used to really gross me out, but later on, I began experimenting with different flavors, ingredients and recipes and grew to enjoy this breakfast option. Letting those oats soak overnight makes for easier digestion AND in the morning, you can decide if you want to eat them cold (as is) or warm them up. I have found that measuring out the ingredients creates a better end result – I would say 95% of the time if I just throw stuff together in a jar, I’m either left with too much liquid or not enough. This is where Sophia’s genius idea comes in! She has taken the guesswork away and provided a guide right there on the jar, showing you the “fill” line for each ingredient. Each morning I have the perfect oats! With your order, you also receive a pamphlet that provides instructions (what each “fill” line means and how to properly care for your jar) as well as some recipes. Our favorite is the Chunky Monkey…even Willow devours this one! If you click on the highlighted text above, it will take you directly to the Overnight Oats Jar page to purchase, if you are interested.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Healing Body Scrub >> Kaffe Organic >> My dear friend, Jen of @jengoesgreen gave this to me as a gift last month and I instantly fell in love. Some of my absolute favorite scents are coffee, lavender and peppermint…guess what? They’re all in here! What a delicious combination of scents, not to mention how incredible it all feels on the skin. Last month was stressful {toddler meltdowns and lots of them, sleepless nights, rare gloomy weather and getting my Etsy shop open} which caused breakouts and chaos to my system. I used this scrub to spot treat a few of my trouble areas and not only did it leave my skin feeling refreshed, but it also softened some of the scars. I have been using it a couple of times a week and I’ve noticed a huge change. I loved this SO much that I gave some of it to my mom and she fell in love, too. A little warning…DO NOT apply this as a mask and go about your usual routine with a toddler. She hasn’t seen me wear a face mask before and it scared her something fierce! Haha!

I have learned that this company has since changed their name from Kaffe Organic to Wild Healing.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Raw African Shea Butter Balm {patchouli} >> Khaki’s Bomb Balm >> The same friend that gifted me that amazing scrub I talked about above, also gave me this balm. If you’re not a fan of shea butter, this definitely isn’t for you…but if you LOVE shea butter (I DO), your skin will be in heaven. How adorable is the packaging?! You can tell that a lot of love goes into the making of these products.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

It is thick (a little goes a long way) and lasts a long time! The smell is intoxicating and has really helped to heal even the worst dry spots – living in the high desert does a number on your skin if you don’t properly care for it. Visit her Etsy shop for more products and custom orders.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KhakisBombBalm?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Merrell Women’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport (Hiking Shoes) >> I was in need of a new pair of hiking shoes…especially with summer right around the corner. Josh bought me these great shoes for Mother’s Day and I LOVE them! I finally got to test them out last week – we had an incredibly wet month of May, so we weren’t able to get out much like we usually do. These shoes are super comfortable – lightweight, breathable mesh upper lining with a flexible sole (not stiff like most hiking shoes I’ve used) and VEGAN! I’ve owned quite a few hiking shoes – numerous brands – but I’ve gotta say, these have to be my favorite! I’m also in love with the color! All of my previous shoes have been a neutral or earth tone color, such as brown, grey or green, so I’m excited to break out of my comfort bubble with a “bolder” color.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Books: I’ll be honest…I haven’t been reading much these days. I’ve either been falling asleep at night with Willow or watching a couple of episodes of Friends before passing out. I have missed reading and hope to have some book updates next month!

Recipes we tried and LOVED:

May was a great month for new recipes! So get ready for a LONG list!!

Ultimate Raw Cookie Dough Chocolate Fudge Cake >> {The Vegan 8} >> So, I didn’t personally make this recipe, but my mom did and I thoroughly enjoyed it! She made it for my Dad’s birthday (he’s not vegan) and he LOVED it. Everyone did and no one missed the dairy. It was incredibly rich, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I honestly have yet to try a dessert recipe of Brandi’s that I didn’t like!

Smokey Cheddar Cauli ‘n’ Cheez >> {Cruelty Free Family} >> If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s vegan cheese sauces! Or really, sauces in general. I love everyone’s variations, or takes, on vegan cheese sauce so, I feel like I need to try them all! This one did not disappoint – I loved the turmeric in this dish – it really gave it a bright appearance and obviously tasted amazing. So flavorful and creamy – since our head of cauliflower was pretty small, we also cooked up some gluten-free noodles to enjoy this with. Thumbs up from Willow makes this a keeper recipe!

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Smokey Cheddar Cauli ‘n’ Cheeze // Cruelty Free Family

Salted Caramel Cashew Cacao Chunk Smoothie >> {Veggies Don’t Bite} >> One word….AMAZING! I made this and shared it with Willow one morning for breakfast….tasted like dessert and oh, my goodness! Willow sucked it down SO fast. I used unsweetened cashew milk in place of soy, but other than that, I stuck to the recipe. I really have no other words for this smoothie – if you haven’t tried it yet, you NEED to! Oh, and if you don’t have raw cacao chunks, I tried it the second time around using cacao powder and it was equally delicious!

Buffalo Chickpea Burgers >> {Veggies Don’t Bite} >> Kind of like my thought on sauces, you can never tire of veggie burgers! I love trying new burger recipes because each one varies in some way or another. Since we make recipes with a toddler in mind, we replaced the hot sauce with a mild salsa and they turned out great! We paired it with Sophia’s BBQ Tahini Sauce (see below) and some oven roasted potato wedges. So so good!

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Buffalo Chickpea Burger with BBQ Tahini Sauce // Veggies Don’t Bite

BBQ Tahini Sauce >> {Veggies Don’t Bite} >> Well, you have to know by now that I LOVE tahini so when I saw that Sophia created a BBQ tahini sauce, I had to try it! This was insanely simple to whip up and did not require the use of a blender. I could have eaten this with a spoon…who am I kidding! ha! I did at first, but then when the burgers and potatoes were done I dipped away! Tangy, slightly sweet and OH SO TAHINI-Y.

White Chocolate Vanilla Cake Strawberry Milkshake >> {The Vegan 8} >> Another great recipe created by Brandi! Willow and I shared this for dessert one afternoon and LOVED it! I’m more of a vanilla or chocolate milkshake kinda girl, but this one was literally all three delicious flavors whirled into one fantastic shake! Never would have guessed that cashew butter and cacao butter would create a cake-like flavor, but it does. We didn’t have whipped cream to top it with, so we enjoyed it with some Enjoy life chocolate chips and a homemade chocolate sauce.

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters >> {The Oh She Glows cookbook} >> I LOVE granola. I’ll eat it plain, with some nut milk or use it as a topping for my smoothies/smoothie bowls. I love that added crunch! Well, an Instagram friend of mine posted a picture of this particular recipe and I hadn’t tried it yet – so I made it the next day and asked myself WHY did it take so long to make this?!? We didn’t have enough walnuts, so I improvised with some raw pecans and it turned out incredibly buttery. We couldn’t stop eating it! This was another picky eater approved recipe.

Better than Restaurant Falafel >> {Minimalist Baker} >> SO good. Simple ingredient list and quick to whip up. We used fresh spinach instead of collards and I was originally going to try baking these instead of pan-cooking them, but we decided to stick to the directions. These were fantastic! Willow helped us prepare the mixture, but sadly did not want to eat them…not sure if she was intimidated by the green color or the fact that it was something new. That just meant more for the adults! I should add that my mom made this recipe, too and used broccoli in the mix…really good! We served ours with some hummus and a bit of hot sauce.

Po-Cauli-Leek Soup >> {Cruelty Free Family} >> This soup hit the spot on a chilly, gloomy evening – it was warm, comforting, and full of flavor! I’ve had cauliflower soup and potato soup, but the two combined create a perfect, thick, hearty soup. We split the batch into two and for Willow’s batch, we left the leeks out – She really enjoyed this soup, too! I have a feeling this recipe will be made quite a bit come fall and winter!

Fat-Free Baked Mexican Black Bean Burgers >> {The Vegan 8} >> Just, wow! Talk about an EPIC burger! It was crispy on the outside with a soft center – not the least bit dry like a lot of vegan/gluten-free burgers. We decided to make 12 small patties as opposed to the suggested 4-6, which made them perfect Willow size. So many wonderful flavors, especially with the addition of The Vegan 8’s Mexican Tahini Sauce. If you make these burgers, DO not skip that sauce!

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Fat Free Baked Mexican Black Bean Burger with Mexican Tahini Sauce // The Vegan 8

The Ultimate Mexican Pizza with Sweet Jalapeno Lemon Cream Sauce >> {Vegetarian Gastronomy} >> We decided to skip our usual tacos for Taco Tuesday and made this AMAZING pizza! Being gluten-free, it’s hard to find a decent, simple, not time consuming crust to make. Well, it doesn’t get any easier than this! We were oooooohhhhhhing and aaaaahhhhhhhing throughout the entire meal. The roasted veggies were perfect, but that sauce….addicting. I licked the blender clean (no shame). The only adjustments I made to this recipe were: heating the beans/corn/spinach on the stove (separately to keep Willow interested) and I used unsweetened cashew milk and a tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup in the sauce in place of soy milk. We have made this sauce a few times and use it on everything from salads to baked potatoes.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

The Ultimate Mexican Pizza with Sweet Jalapeno Lemon Cream Sauce // Vegetarian Gastronomy

Have you discovered any new favorites?! As always, I would love to hear!

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: Veggie “Pizza” Bowl featuring Cheezy Pizza Sauce

Have you noticed that most of my recipes are of dips and sauces? Haha! Well, we use them a few times a week, whether over pasta, for veggies or potatoes. I’m constantly coming up with new ways to sneak in some extra nutrients into Willow’s diet and since she is incredibly finicky (although, she is getting better), I have to get really creative. I already have a Cheezy Tomato Sauce recipe on the blog that contains lots of veggies, but I needed something that was faster to make…something that could be whipped up in a few minutes to feed my hangry toddler! When I created this recipe, I had no idea what I was making, but I was hoping it was going to taste good. It’s become a favorite over these last few months and I just haven’t gotten around to sharing it until now. When I put some in a dish for Willow to dip potato wedges in, she screamed, “It tastes like pizza, mama!” So, I had to call this Pizza Sauce.

RECIPE: Cheezy Pizza Sauce // Be Sol-Ful

Our latest favorite way to use this “Pizza Sauce” was in a Veggie Pizza Bowl! Here’s what we had in our recent bowl:

  • Roasted Brussels sprouts (seasoned with garlic + onion powder; baked for 35-40min stirring halfway through, at 400F)
  • Roasted broccoli (same as sprouts above)
  • Diced raw red pepper
  • Sliced raw red cabbage
  • Sautéed garlicky kale (one bunch of organic lacinato kale cooked with a bit of fresh and granulated garlic and a touch of coconut oil in a cast iron skillet)
  • Arborio rice (quinoa is also great, but Arborio rice cooks up super fast in the rice cooker)
  • Other ingredients that we’ve used: roasted cauliflower, spinach, carrots, roasted potatoes, caramelized onion

RECIPE: Veggie "Pizza" Bowl // Be Sol-Ful

RECIPE: Veggie "Pizza" Bowl // Be Sol-Ful

RECIPE: Veggie "Pizza" Bowl // Be Sol-Ful

CHEEZY PIZZA SAUCE {vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, nut-free option}

What you need:

  • 1 – 14.5 oz BPA-free can of organic diced tomatoes (stewed tomatoes work well, too or you can use fresh)
  • 3 Tablespoons non-fortified nutritional yeast (such as Sari Foods or Dr. Fuhrman)
  • 3 Tablespoons raw cashews (preferably soaked for 3-4 hours)*
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or can use a few fresh basil leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or fresh garlic cloves)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt (optional)

* NUT-FREE option: the very talented and creative Margaret over at The Plant Strong Vegan used cooked chickpeas in a recent sauce of hers and I can vouch that it tastes great! So for all of you nut-free peeps, you can still make this! I would start with 1/4 cup of cooked chickpeas and add more if needed…all depends on your desired consistency.

How to:

  1. Throw everything into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth! That’s it!
  2. You can eat as is or gently warm it on the stove. It tastes delicious cold, but when heated over the stove for a little bit, it thickens up and the flavors have time to meld together. We’ve used this as an actual pizza sauce on crust, a dip for potato wedges, poured over gluten-free noodles and a dip for roasted veggies.

You can add more oregano, basil, garlic and onion powder – I kept this fairly mild seasoning-wise as Willow likes things on the milder end.

RECIPE: Cheezy Pizza Sauce // Be Sol-Ful

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: March Favorites

Happy April, everyone and Happy Spring! March flew by and I have a few new favorites to share with you.

Sun Metal Jewelry >> pendant + earrings

I am a firm believer in supporting your friends in any way you can, whether lending an ear, reading their blog, making their recipes, and in this case, purchasing an item from their Etsy shop! I met Diana through Instagram (surprise, surprise) and I was drawn to her enthusiasm, support and good energy. When I learned earlier last year that she made jewelry, I knew I had to check out her shop. It took me MONTHS before I finally ordered something because I honestly could not decide what to buy. SO much to choose from and all of it beautiful. I have a minor obsession with swirly/spiral designs…ok, maybe a big obsession…so I decided on this beautiful swirly pendant. To my surprise, when the package arrived, there was a pair of earrings to match and she included a “Willow-friendly” cord for the pendant. The jewelry is high quality at an incredibly reasonable price. I will definitely be ordering again. I get lots of compliments on both the earrings and necklace…thanks, Diana!

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Please check out her Etsy shop >> https://www.etsy.com/shop/sunmetaljewelry?ref=pr_shop_more

Kite Hill Cream Cheese Spread (Chive) >> I may have squealed a little when I saw this at Whole Foods last week. I’ve seen people posting photos on Instagram and I wanted to try it so bad. We’ve tried Kite Hill cheese before and loved it, so I knew we would enjoy the cream cheese. It literally looks and tastes like cream cheese…like the bad-for-you-dairy-filled cream cheese. Our little family gave it two thumbs up! It’s not something we’ll be buying regularly, but a treat on occasion will be nice! This is a Whole Foods Market Exclusive…so

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Honest Company Body Oil >> I’m not usually a fan of body oil as they’re typically too greasy for me. Since we are big fans of the Honest Company, I decided to give it a go and it has become a fast favorite. I’ve been applying it right after a shower and my skin has never been so soft! At first it seems greasy, but it soaks in super fast – leaving my skin feeling moisturized. I also like how the scent is very light – no fake artificial scents like some I’ve tried in the past. It might be safe to say that I’ll be using this more than lotion!

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Yum Universe by Heather Crosby >> This cookbook has been on my wishlist for quite some time and I’m literally kicking myself for not buying it sooner. Much sooner. The trouble I have with most cookbooks (and like many of you who also have food allergies/restrictions) is that they’re filled with recipes that I need to alter or just avoid. I swear, Yum Universe was written for me. Ok, maybe not, but it sure feels that way! EVERY SINGLE RECIPE is gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free and uses whole foods – nothing processed. I. AM. IN. HEAVEN. The day I bought this book I sat down and gently turned every page, drooled over each photo and said, “oooohhhh, let’s make this one!” to every recipe. I’ve never been able to do that. I absolutely love how the first 161 pages discuss the plant-based lifestyle (why and what it means) along with how to prep, cook and store – such as soaking times for various nuts, beans, seeds, etc. While I already knew some of the information Heather shares, I have found that there is still so much more to learn. Not only is Yum Universe filled with great recipes, it’s also a wonderful reference book. One that I’m sure I’ll constantly be going back to. Oh! Being a quote addict, I love how she has inserted several quotes from people such as Michael Pollan and Deepak Chopra.

http://yumuniverse.com/

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Recipes we’ve tried so far:

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque…just, wow. So simple, full of flavor and uses just a handful of fresh ingredients.

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque // Yum Universe

Comforting Chai Power Cereal…this is such a perfect way to start a chilly day. We used quinoa and buckwheat (skipped the amaranth as we did not have any on hand). I am such a sucker for anything chai and this was everything I hoped it would be. She definitely named this recipe perfectly because it was absolutely comforting. Not overly sweet, a touch spicy from the chai and hearty.

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Comforting Chai Power Cereal // Yum Universe

Sliceable Cashew Cheese…Willow has been enjoying this a lot. We all have. Great on its own, in pasta, on pizza and sandwiches.

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Sliceable Cashew Cheese // Yum Universe

BOOKS I’VE ENJOYED:

The Mermaid’s Sister >> Being an Amazon Prime member has its perks. Each month there are four books to choose from in Kindle First – you can download one (sometimes two) for free and they’re available before their official release date. While I much rather prefer reading an actual hardcover/paperback book, I can’t say no to a free book! The Mermaid’s Sister was one of the Kindle First options in February.  I love my kindle because it allows me to read in bed while Willow sleeps next to me…or on me. Reading in the dark with a tiny book light just isn’t as fun. Anyways! I absolutely loved The Mermaid’s Sister!! Sometimes I need a break from non-fiction reference books and I just need to get lost in the pages of a quick easy read. The author pulls you into this magical fairy tale-like story. I found myself wanting to stay up to read just one more chapter and finished it in a few sittings. It’s not a fast paced action story, but it was one of those “I think I know what might happen so I need to keep reading to find out” – it was a story of relationships and love. I laughed, cried, smiled and felt content with the ending. Overall, I would give this 4 out of 5 stars.

REVIEW: March Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

RECIPES I TRIED & LOVED:

  • Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies >> Detoxinista >> OMG. SO good. I went a few weeks where I couldn’t stomach nut or seed butters, so I had to find a recipe that didn’t call for them. This was it. Simple ingredient list and toddler-approved. Willow helped me make these and we’ll definitely be rotating them into our cookie making mix. Now that I am ok with nut/seed butters again, I would like to try making these again, but replacing the oil with almond or peanut butter.
  • Tomato Risotto (Gluten-free, oil-free, fat-free) >> The Vegan 8 >> I have yet to try a recipe of Brandi’s that I didn’t like. Which is why we make so many of them! This one did not disappoint. Incredibly flavorful, creamy, filling and not loaded with unnecessary fat. We were literally ooooohhhhing and aaaahhhhing during the entire meal. Willow even enjoyed some, so anything that is approved by Willow is a keeper recipe!
  • Mother Nature Apple Crumble >> The Oh She Glows Cookbook >> Hands down one of the best, if not THE best, apple crumbles I’ve had. I’m a huge apple pie fan and this reminded me very much of an apple pie, but topped with the most buttery, flavorful topping. Not gonna lie, I would have eaten the crumble topping on its own. That good. Willow, who happens to be incredibly finicky when it comes to apples being “warm” really loved this. We enjoyed this for breakfast on a chilly morning and dessert. The recipe makes a lot, so there were leftovers a plenty.

I feel like I’m forgetting a recipe or two, so I’ll update this when I remember!

Thanks for stopping by!