March 2017 Favorites 

Happy April, my sweet friends!! I first wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for all of the love concerning my previous post – I was blown away by the response. So many beautiful comments and messages – the feedback only proved that we are not alone and that it is so important to be authentically YOU. Thank you ❤

March brought about lots of new recipes and making old favorites – I was able to finally eat some nuts without extreme setbacks, so that was nice…well, that was until about a week ago – trying to get the inflammation back down. Fingers crossed I don’t have to go back to being nut-free.

Before I dive in, here are some of my favorite photos from March:
 



MARCH FAVORITES:

P R O D U C T S:

Love and Kindness {wild rose + motherwort} mist for the heart >> Plantfolk Apothecary >> My dear friend sent this to me and it was instant love. Words that come to mind when I spray it: beautiful, peaceful, magical, happiness, confidence, protection, love. I absolutely adore the scent of rose, which is the star of the show in this little bottle. It actually reminds me a little of my self-love (“I AM”) spray that I carried in my shop.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites

Tessemae’s Mild Buffalo Sauce >> My Mom picked this up from Whole Foods (on sale) and together we made some amazing cauliflower wings! Literally the best I’ve had! This sauce has a really clean list of ingredients and has such a great flavor! Perfectly spicy and tangy. Minus Willow (she didn’t even try them), the entire family went back for seconds. I’m going to brainstorm other ways to use this sauce and grab myself a bottle next shopping trip.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites

Kombucha >> Here are some new flavors we tried and loved!

Vanilla Oak >> Brew Dr. Kombucha 

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Hibiscus Ginger (GT’S)

Bilberry Blessing (GT’S)

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Simple Mills Toasted Pecan Crunchy Cookies >> My Mom bought and shared these with us and they are amazing. Crispy little cookies that almost melt in your mouth. I seriously adore all things from Simple Mills! Found these on sale at Whole Foods.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites

Food Empowerment Project Chocolate List >> OK, so this isn’t technically a product, but I can’t recommend it enough. I have my friend, Kittee, to thank for this one and I’ve been using this app for the last month and a half – so helpful! If you care about where your money is going, how the cacao beans are sourced (a lot use child labor and slavery), then you NEED to download this app and get familiar with the companies…I was really bummed to see a couple favorites on the “Do not recommend” list (such as Enjoy Life and Hail Merry) but I have high hopes that they’ll change their sourcing. I don’t consume chocolate much these days anyway, but I’ll absolutely refer to this app when I do go to purchase something with chocolate. And in the meantime, I’ve stopped supporting Enjoy Life and the other companies that aren’t recommended…until they change sourcing/other issues. Please know that your choices matter and WE VOTE WITH OUR DOLLAR! While I obviously want to support vegan companies and applaud them for using animal-free ingredients, I also care about my fellow human beings – exploitation is wrong.

************************************************************************************************************************************

R E C I P E S:

5 Ingredient Granola Cups >> The Fit Fork Feed >> I strayed away from Lindsay’s original recipe and made modifications so that I could eat them. I knew they were going to be good before they were baked because I kept sneaking bites of the batter. I used tigernut flour instead of oat flour, tahini instead of cashew (or nut butter), and maple syrup in place of rice syrup. These were so buttery and cookie-like and they made the perfect little vessel for yogurt and berries. I highly recommend checking out the recipe!!

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
And in case you don’t follow me on Instagram or missed it, here’s how we filled ours:

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Pineapple Teriyaki Cauliflower Poppers >> Athletic Avocado >> I’m always brainstorming new ways to switch up our taco night and when I stumbled upon this recipe I knew we had to make it asap. The first night we put them into tacos and the second day I added the leftovers to a big salad. Simple recipe and the slightly sweet flavor paired so well with our other ingredients.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Paleo Dinner Rolls >> The Real Food Dieticians >> It had been ages since I made or ate a roll/biscuit so when I found this recipe while Pinterest browsing one night I added it to our menu! I already had all of the ingredients on hand AND I didn’t have to make any adjustments (huge bonus)…well, I did omit the baking powder, but that was super minor. One bite and Willow declared that we make them all the time! Buttery, fluffy, and so easy to make. I’m envisioning biscuits and gravy in the near future.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Vegan Almond Flour Banana Bread >> Detoxinista >> Willow requested banana bread one day so I did a quick Google search for ‘paleo vegan banana bread’ and this recipe popped up. And the best part was that it called for three ripe bananas…which is exactly what we had at the time! We’ve tried a few of Detoxinista’s recipes in the past and loved them, which is why I gravitated towards this recipe. And it absolutely did not disappoint.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites

 

Green Mac and Cheese >> Veggies Don’t Bite >> I was so excited to try this recipe because I have LOVED every sauce creation Sophia has come up with. And I also love how each one is so different and amazing in their own way…this particular sauce is borderline drinkable. It is insanely creamy, full of flavor, and it has a really great tangy zip to it. I cooked up regular gluten-free noodles and sweet potato noodles to go with this sauce and everyone gave it a big thumbs up! The next day, I used the leftover sauce to drizzle over some roasted veggies…the possibilities are endless! I had an idea come to mind, but I ran out of sauce…next time I’d like to make mashed potatoes with it…doesn’t that sound amazing??

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Sweet Beet Sauce >> The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids >> Willow, out of the blue, decided that she actually wanted to make a few things out of this cookbook – we got it for her 4th birthday. During our sit down meal planning session one week, she grabbed this book and told us which recipes she wanted. You see, she tends to just “read” through this like a regular book, and while we have made a few recipes out of here before, we typically wait until she brings it up. She’s beet obsessed…I honestly think it’s because of the color, but who knows, maybe she actually really enjoys the flavor, too. We whipped this up one day and used it in a layered nice cream dish. We made one slight modification and replaced the agave with pure maple syrup (almost all of her recipes call for agave and since we don’t use it, we sub it with maple). Willow was taking bites of this sauce with a spoon and loved how creamy it was. We originally started making it in the food processor, but switched to the VitaMix to get it ultra smooth.

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
MOONDROPS SESAME ALMOND COOKIES >> The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids >> This was the other recipe Willow picked to make and I ended up prepping these solo…she was too caught up in painting to stop what she was doing. These were SO easy to throw together – one bowl, a handful of ingredients, and popped them in the oven to bake. They were the perfect balance of crispy and chewy…I love cookies like that. Willow really enjoyed them, too. The recipe doesn’t make a lot, which is good because sadly, they are not as tasty the next day. We threw a couple on top of our layered nice cream treat!

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
Raw Chocolate Beet Cheesecake >> Unconventional Baker >>  Willow has been asking to make this ever since I showed her pics from Audrey’s blog…my beet and pink obsessed kid! I think it was worth the wait because she absolutely LOVED it! In fact, my entire family did (parents and Oma included). Willow is known for eating the ‘cheese’ part of the cake and leaving the crust behind, but she devoured it entirely. Josh said he loved the crust because it wasn’t date-y. I added a few Brazil nuts to the crust because I had them on hand and I loved the flavor that brought to it. The actual ‘cheese’ portion of the cake was one of the creamiest I’ve ever had. Super smooth, melt in your mouth delicious. I attempted to swirl in some leftover sweet beet sauce (from the recipe I mentioned above) and it ended up looking more layered, but it was seriously SO good. Willow has asked to make it again!

REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
REVIEW: March 2017 Favorites
********************************************************************************************************************************
B O O K S:

Rising Strong by Brené Brown >> I had read this one before, but checked it out from the library again. For some reason, it resonated a lot more with me the second time around. An extremely empowering read – I highly recommend it – everything by Brené Brown is fantastic.

The Autoimmune Fix by Tom O’Bryan >> I’m nowhere near finishing this book, BUT it absolutely has my attention. He discusses the autoimmune spectrum, causes, how to pinpoint and heal. I’m really excited to finish this – only 100 pages in and I’m already learning a TON.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman >> Josh (my husband) checked this book out from the library because someone had recommended it to him and then he passed it on to me. I laughed at him because he said he couldn’t read it before bed because it was so creepy…then I started reading it and realized why!

***********************************************************************************************************************************

What were your favorites from March? Did you read anything share worthy? Try any new products or recipes? Or maybe you’re watching something on Netflix that I need to know about?! Leave me a comment below…

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites

Happy February, my friends! It’s been a minute since I’ve shared anything here and since I missed posting my December Favorites, I’m going to include them here. How’s everyone doing?? It’s been quite the winter between the record amount of snow we had and then the obvious state of the world. I know I’m not alone in my sadness and discouragement, but I think we really need to come together, stand united, and make our voices heard. I promise to not make this post about politics, but for those looking for a way to work towards change PLEASE visit 5 Calls – and the best part is that they provide scripts…for those (like me) who lose their words and freeze up when it’s time to speak! All you do is type in your zip code and the phone numbers for your area will be provided. I urge you to call!

**ALSO, my shop has been on vacation, but I’m going to reopen it this Friday AND for this weekend only, I will be donating 50% of my sales to ACLU. I’ll make the announcement on my Instagram page (@be.sol.ful), so if you’re interested, please check there on Friday to get the full details!**

*********************************************************************************************************

FAVORITE PHOTOS FROM DECEMBER & JANUARY:

December was a month for LOTS OF SNOW here in Bend…which meant some quality time outside playing and adventuring AND shoveling. We had somewhere between 15″-18″ fall in a 24 hour span and I was just happy that I had nowhere to be. Poor Josh, on the other hand, still had to make the trek to work – I’m just grateful that we have a vehicle that can handle the weather conditions.


When you have a dinosaur obsessed kiddo, you make a triceratops instead of a snowman! She had a little help from her Dad…



A breathtakingly beautiful snowshoe hike with family…


With all the snow, more birds crowded our feeders, which we just love. Several months ago, Willow named three of the doves that frequent our yard…Sally, Lucy, and Charlie Brown. I managed to finally snap a photo of them together!

dscn3083-2

And then January brought EVEN MORE snow – check out my parents front yard:

Which is why we had to brave the snowy mountain pass a couple weeks ago and get out of town! The weather was perfect at the coast and it was just what the three of us needed!



JANUARY FAVORITES >>

I first wanted to do a little shout out to my dear friend, Karina and her friend, Alyssa – their Honest Mothers blog is just incredible! There’s a real sense of community and connection thanks to sharing real life thoughts and struggles. The sad part about social media is that we’re trained to share perfect moments – clean house, well prepared meals, happy kids, put together moms. In reality, we ALL struggle. We ALL have bad days, weeks. NO ONE is perfect. Their blog helps to normalize this and show us that it is OK and normal to struggle…to feel guilt, to feel shame. In sharing about our struggles we actually help one another to not feel so isolated and alone. I had the honor of meeting Karina when I was in Southern CA back in September and I can with 100% certainty tell you that she is one of the most genuine, real mamas I know! Please give their blog a look. Here’s a link to their latest post → Distracted Motherhood

PRODUCTS:

“Heart Beet” >> GT’s Kombucha >> When I saw a new flavor from GT’s make an appearance at Natural Grocers this month, I didn’t have to think twice, I just added it to our shopping cart. Besides the fact that I LOVE beets, it also has fresh ginger and rosemary in it as well. Obviously it was amazing!!!

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites

I also fell in love with GTs Mojito flavor! I switched back to GTs due to their lower sugar content – my favorite local brand (Humm) was just too sweet for my healing gut.

COYO Coconut Yogurt >> It’s been ages since I’ve purchased or consumed store bought yogurt, but when I saw this brand at Natural Grocers, I had to give them a shot! I chose to stick with Natural and Chocolate, so I cannot attest to how the other flavors are. Their yogurts are:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Paleo certified
  • Preservative free
  • Carrageenan free
  • Gum free
  • Soy free
  • No added sugar

I’d say that’s REALLY impressive! The downfall is the price as they were $2.79/ea…so these are more of a treat (an occasional purchase). I have also seen them at Whole Foods and Market of Choice, but there they are $3.99/ea.  I really enjoyed the thick, creamy texture and how it wasn’t sweet. Willow, on the other hand, tried to like them, but said they weren’t sweet enough for her! I plan to try using some of the plain/natural one as a sour cream substitute for tacos!

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites
REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites
**************************************************************************************************************
RECIPES:

Candy Cane Nice Cream >> Feasting on Fruit >> Despite the cold and snow, we whipped this up one afternoon as a little treat. Willow has a slight obsession with beets and when she saw the video for this recipe (remember, she’s a HUGE fan of Natalie and her YouTube channel…but who isn’t?), she insisted we make this! I was a little lazy and kept the beets raw – I just made sure to dice them up small enough so that the blender wouldn’t leave behind any chunks of beet. I also skipped the pomegranate seeds because we didn’t have any on hand and I’m 99.9% sure Willow would have picked them out anyway 😉 Because it was so cold out when we made this and our house wasn’t super warm, the nice cream was really hard and rather than having a jar filled with pretty, creamy layers, I kinda plopped the nice cream in the jar. Haha!! But it didn’t matter because it tasted REALLY REALLY good!!! Not overly minty, slightly sweet, and a perfect treat. Willow topped hers with some mini chocolate chips…are you surprised? I just loved how there wasn’t any added sweetener, which didn’t make my tummy upset. Can’t wait to make this again!

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites

RICE CRISPY CRUNCH TRUFFLES >> FEASTING ON FRUIT >> I gave Willow options and showed her photos/videos of treats to give her the chance to choose what we should make for our family Christmas Day gathering…and I’m not surprised that she picked these truffles! Our kitchen and Willow was a chocolate covered mess by the end of prepping these babies, but it was definitely worth it since they were a huge hit! While I can’t give you my personal feedback (I’m still grain-free) as to how they tasted, I will say that the super simple ingredient list won me over! Family and friends described them as rich, decadent, and amazing….it was so much fun for me to sit back and watch everyone take their first bite and listen to the ‘oooohhhing’ and ‘mmmmmmms’ – I’m sure these will make another appearance in the near future.

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites

Raw Vegan Maple Donut Holes >> Lee Tilghman >> Grain-free, gluten-free, and full of maple-y goodness! Josh and Willow loooooooved these! I enjoyed one, but my tummy just couldn’t handle the sweetness level. I glazed most of them and set aside a couple without and those were more up my alley. So simple to make and no baking required. I think that when I make these again, I will omit the maple syrup in the actual “donut” and lessen the amount in the glaze…but if you ask Josh, he’ll say that they’re perfect the way they are!

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites

Coconut Curry Soup with Sweet Potato Noodles >> Veggie Inspired >> I’m a sucker for all things curry and coconut AND simple, so this was a must-try recipe for our family. I made some adjustments to make it easier on my gut (left out the peas and added in chopped carrots instead – I sauteed those with the other veggies).  I LOVED this soup! So full of flavor and it had a decent amount of heat to it which made for perfect comfort food. Sadly, there isn’t a photo to accompany this review because (1) the lighting was awful…darn winter and darkness and (2) we used a low sodium broth with tomato which created a very dark soup…nothing nearly as pretty as Jenn’s! So please head over to her blog and drool over her pics and give the recipe a try!

((I’ve been sticking to pretty much the same few things for meals, so nothing new to share there…just LOTS of potatoes, broccoli, kale, avocado and plenty of nutritional yeast! Haha! Pretty simple and boring! Hoping to report back next month with more exciting meals! I’m just grateful to be able to eat curry and most nightshades again! Such a blessing.))

*****************************************************************************************************

BOOKS:

Before I dive into the world of fiction and self-help/self-love books, I NEED to mention and give some love to my sweet friend, Brandi, and her eBook! Back in December she released this beautiful 8 Ingredient Vegan Desserts ECookbook and I bought it straight away…and while I cannot attest to the deliciousness of the recipes included in this book, I will say that there hasn’t been a dessert recipe of Brandi’s that I tried and didn’t fall in love with. She has a real gift when it comes to creating AND capturing the essence in her photos. I’ve drooled over all the recipes and when my gut can tolerate nuts and grains again, you better believe I’ll be running to the kitchen to make everything! You can grab a copy for $6.99

What I read and enjoyed:

REVIEW: January 2017 Favorites

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch >> A few years ago, my best friend recommended this book to me and it stayed on my to-read list for so long. Then last month, someone else brought up the title in conversation so I decided to check it out from the library. I knew from the description that it was going to be a heartbreaking read, but the lessons that you take away are life-changing. It is so easy to get dragged down into a pool of negativity – I’ve been guilty of that, but through these pages we learn about a man who chose to live life in such an inspiring way, despite a terminal cancer diagnosis. This was a very short book, but very powerful.

The Night Bird by Brian Freeman >> This was my pick from the Kindle First options in January and I plowed through it fast! It’s a mystery/suspense (fiction) and a real page turner. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

Fellside by M.R. Carey >> Talk about a crazy book! Fiction/thriller/suspense. I really enjoyed this one, but the end had me screaming “why?!!?” – I ended up giving it 4 stars on Goodreads.

The Heart of Aromatherapy by Andrea Butje >> My mom gifted me this book as an early birthday present and I will cherish it as a wonderful resource. While I’ve been using essential oils for over ten years and have created my own recipes, I feel like I’m in a constant state of learning and growing when it comes to oils. I love how the author keeps things very basic – covers 40 different oils and their healing properties along with sharing her own recipes. I am very inspired by her combinations and knowledge. I highly recommend this book to anyone new to essential oils, but really I think it’s a great guide for everyone.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown >> I love Brené Brown. Her words always bring so much hope, encouragement, and love to my heart. This book is all about vulnerability and how we cannot live wholeheartedly without it…we learn, grow, and succeed by showing up, taking risks, and stepping outside of our comfort zones. I have A LOT of the pages folded and highlighted because this book is FILLED with inspiring words. She has a way of calling you out in a gentle manner – I found myself nodding in agreement and shaking my head in disbelief (like as if she knew me and what I was thinking). I will be holding onto this book for Willow to read when she gets older. For anyone tired of living in fear and sitting on the sidelines, grab yourself a copy!

*****************************************************************************************************

Tell me…

What are you reading? Have you tried anything new? Recipes? Are you watching anything?? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

REVIEW: September Favorites 

Happy (almost) October, my beautiful friends! I hope you’re having a lovely fall so far. We had a pretty warm September – filled with lots of playing outside (mostly digging in the dirt) and when we weren’t outside, we spent time coloring and doing puzzles. Willow’s latest obsession is puzzles and not just the big, jumbo-piece sets for kids…I’m talking the 750 piece puzzles! I’m not ashamed to admit that there was a weekend when we didn’t leave the house and the three of us sat and worked on a puzzle in our jammies – I think we all needed that time to just relax and spend quality time together.


Willow and I also took a last minute road trip with my Mom to Southern California to visit with dear friends – they were (are) family to me – they gave me a home when I didn’t have one years ago. It had been 10 years since we’d seen each other and it was an emotional and much needed reunion. Bittersweet, lots of tears, and heartfelt memories.

This post contains a few products we found while in California.

S E P T E M B E R  F A V O R I T E S:

**Please note that not all products shown here are AIP-friendly…I have started to slowly reintroduce some foods back into my diet – I will have a new post up soon with my progress and what I’m eating.

Products:

Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour >> I purchased this via Amazon, but have since noticed it sold in Natural Grocers for a few dollars less. It’s on the pricier side…think almond flour, but when your options are very limited, the splurge is ok – besides, I’m not buying any other flours right now (gluten-free, buckwheat, almond, etc.). It’s very fine and looks a lot like regular flour – I’ve also been using it to make donuts – recipe coming soon!


Paleo Wraps >> You can find these wraps in quite a few stores and online, but so far I’ve found that the best deal is at Whole Foods for $8.99 a package. I don’t use them that often since they are pricey, but they’re really versatile – sweet or savory meals – You can fill then with fruit or veggies. I like that they also hold their shape and don’t break apart when you overstuff them! There is a slight sweetness due to the coconut, but I love that they’re raw and contain just a few simple ingredients – no gums, additives, preservatives.

Here I’ve filled it with plenty of raw veggies – red leaf lettuce, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, cabbage, and avocado.


Let’s Do Organic >> Green Banana Flour >> I have found this in both Natural Grocers and Whole Foods for $5.99 a bag. It’s come in handy to make AIP-friendly pancakes and other baked goods. From my experience, it has a nice subtle flavor and great texture.


Eating Evolved Primal Chocolate >> Crunchy Caramel >> You guys. I caved. I went almost a full month without chocolate…and then I saw this in the Long Beach, CA Whole Foods. Only three ingredients (organic cacao, organic coconut sugar, organic cacao butter), I absolutely had to try it! You might remember last year, in a favorites post, that I shared their coconut butter cups and loved them, so I already knew that I would enjoy this bar. It is 85% cacao – which makes it a tad on the bitter side, but that didn’t stop Willow from trying to steal this from me…I shared, no worries! I loved how it wasn’t overly sweet – weird as this may sound, I’ve been shying away from a lot of sweet treats and gravitating more towards savory.


Majestic Garlic >> Delicious Creamy Garlic (spread) >> Out of everything new that I tried during September, I’d have to say that this was my absolute favorite! We found it in the Long Beach, CA Whole Foods and I was so tempted to go back and stock my cooler with a few more tubs to take back home. The first ingredient is fresh raw garlic and it’s got this amazing, light, fluffy, texture that makes it insanely versatile – Willow dipped some gluten-free crackers in it and we also used it as a sauce for a cold lentil pasta salad for the drive back home. I hope to see it in stores here in Bend, OR soon!


TheBu Kombucha >> Honeydew >> Another gem we found at Whole Foods while in CA! You know me and my LOVE for kombucha and whenever I spot a brand I haven’t tried, I need to. This one did not disappoint! Refreshing, not overly sweet, and absolutely hit the spot on a hot day. Willow enjoyed sharing this with me.


Organic Gemini >> TigerNut Smoothie Mix (Vanilla Bean) >> Yet another item I found while in California (Whole Foods)! Now if you’re looking for a high-protein powder, this is not for you, but if you’re looking for a gut-friendly way to boost your smoothie, look no further. I don’t do smoothies as often as I once did since I have to limit my fruit intake, but when I do make them, I’ve been adding two tablespoons of this mix to the Vitamix. I make a simple banana-blueberry-spirulina smoothie with this added in – I find the flavors go so perfectly together. This is a Whole Foods Exclusive product and is sold for $14.99/bag. Also comes in Cacao Bean and Original.


I have to give a shoutout to two fantastic juice/smoothie spots in California:

Jan’s Health Bar in Huntington Beach >> I had the amazing and surreal opportunity to meet up with my Instagram friend, Karina, and her two adorable kiddos while at this place. It was walking distance from the house we were staying at, which was a huge bonus. Karina and I connected a few years ago and meeting her in real life was a major highlight of the trip. Sadly, we didn’t grab a photo together, but I guess that’s because we were so caught up in the present moment! While there, I enjoyed a large green smoothie and of course, the company ❤️


Simply O Organic Juice Bar in Los Alamitos >> I LOVED walking into this place and instantly being engulfed with the scent of fresh juice. It was hard to decide what to try, so I went with a green juice (Green Street) and Willow had an organic strawberry ice pop….I’d say she really liked it. When you walk in, to the right is the juice/smoothie bar and to the left is Pacific Organic Pops where they sell…you guessed it, popsicles! Not all of them are vegan as some are made with milk, but this fruity pop that Willow chose was so perfect for a hot California day!

What’s fun is that on the Pacific Organic Pops side, they have a “photo booth” and the pics can be emailed to you! Here I am with one of my best friends…


**************************************************************************************************

Recipes:

Turmeric Zucchini Soup >> Eat Drink Paleo >> This was probably the easiest soup I’ve ever made, but one of the best! I made some minor adjustments to fit my diet (used an organic mushroom broth instead of vegetable broth and used Trader Joe’s organic coconut milk instead of full-fat). It had a cheesy flavor despite not having any nuts or nutritional yeast, which was a pleasant surprise.

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries >> Cultivate Beauty >> I am in love with this recipe. We’ve made it countless times over the last month because Willow actually eats them too! I have used both sweet potatoes and yams to make this recipe. So the post where I found this recipe is actually called The Secret to Crispy Sweet Potato Fries…if you avoid oil at all costs, then this isn’t for you. I have added some coconut oil and avocado oil back into my diet so I was excited to try this! 

Caramel Peanut Protein Truffles >> Veggies Don’t Bite >> When I received the email for this recipe, I knew I absolutely had to make these for Willow. What kid doesn’t like peanuts + chocolate?? I decided to whip these up to take along on our road trip as a treat for Willow to share with my Mom. I let her sample one the day I made them and her eyes lit up with the first bite! She devoured it and asked for another one…I felt bad saying no, but I had to since dinner was almost ready. You guys. She legit cried! That’s when I knew they had to be good! I SO wish I could have tried them to give you all a better review, but I think that sums it up. I did struggle a bit while preparing them – the “dough” was very sticky and difficult to work with – I actually emailed Sophia during the process because I thought for sure I did something wrong. I added maybe two extra tablespoons of oats to help with the stickiness factor, but in doing so, I was unable to achieve a smooth consistency. I ended up with larger pieces of oats and peanuts. Sophia was kind enough to reply to my panicked email 😉 and concluded that the dates I used were probably just really sticky/soft.  BUT I don’t really care about the process…Willow was one happy kiddo!

REVIEW: September Favorites
Homemade Italian Dressing (AIP, Paleo, Vegan) >> Don’t Eat the Spatula >> Following the AIP diet can get a little tricky when it comes to dressings. Most call for coconut milk or avocado…at the time I didn’t have either. So I did a quick search on Pinterest and after scrolling through, I finally found one that called for ingredients I had on hand. I made some minor adjustments – used avocado oil, but cut it by half and used filtered water for the other 1/4 cup. I also added in some nutritional yeast (approximately 1 TBSP). I used this dressing to make a GIANT kale salad to share with family – it was a huge hit! Two thumbs up from everyone! I made another batch of kale salad with this dressing to take for lunch on the road trip – just stored it in a wide-mouth mason jar and kept it in the cooler – we added some chopped apple to it as well and it was amazing.

Tapioca Pudding Porridge with Roasted Apples (AIP, vegan) >> Sweet Treats >> I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I had tapioca pudding so when I found a recipe for it while searching for AIP desserts, I had to try it! The recipe only calls for three ingredients – four if you use vanilla extract. It was love at first bite!! I made a second batch and took it on our road trip. I love how it’s not overly sweet – only uses a small amount of maple syrup, but paired with coconut milk, it creates the perfect dessert…or breakfast! The first time I made this, I paired it with some cinnamon cooked apples and it was so comforting! So if you’re looking for an insanely easy dessert (or breakfast) give this a try!

***********************************************************************************************************

Books:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss >> Easily one of the BEST fiction books I’ve read in a loooooong time. Hands down. I was sucked into it after reading just the first few pages and after that, I struggled to put it down every night. It’s a very lengthy book (over 700 pages), but it goes fast – I was sad when it ended because I wanted more…thank goodness for the second book! The day I finished it, Josh hopped onto Amazon and ordered it. He has read the first two books in the series (a long time ago), but it was my friend, Jen, who told me I should read it. Sorry, Josh! I should have listened to you sooner! But seriously, go grab yourself a copy!! I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss >> This is the second book in the series and while I’m not very far in it, I can already tell you that I’m loving it!

102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy >> My dear friend, Kris, recommended this book to me so I immediately ordered a copy via Amazon and I am SO glad that I did. It is helping me to better gauge the style that fits not only Willow, but me as a teacher. It contains an abundance of resources and through questions, it narrows down the style(s) for you – as well as describing each one – Traditional, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Independent Study, etc.

I highly recommend it to any new homeschooling parent!

 **********************************************************

Whew, that was a bit of a lengthy post! Now tell me, what were some of your favorites from September?? Did you try any new products? Recipes? Or did you read any books that you’d like to recommend? Please comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: July Favorites

Hello, friends and happy August! I think this is my first favorites post that doesn’t include recipes…we’ve been living on smoothies and salads this summer, so that has meant going back to the basics AND no oven use. My list of “need to try” recipes continues to grow and I’m pretty sure come fall, I’ll be excited to jump in the kitchen to try new recipes!

Speaking of recipes, I only got around to sharing one new creation (pancakes) last month from my kitchen, but I’ve got more coming in the next couple of weeks!

July was a month of travel, new journeys, household projects (when our BIG project is complete, I might have to share about it in a separate blog post), running trials for products for my Etsy shop, trying LOTS of new-to-me products, and reading several books…although not all of them made their way here since I didn’t fall in love with them.

Oh! And we also celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary in July – I’m in shock at how fast the years are flying by!

Before I dive into my favorite products and books, here are some of my favorite photos from last month:

image5 (1)

willowandmama

A trip to Whole Foods isn’t complete without trying on hats and reading through cards…

IMG_9136

The view on our hike around Todd Lake – one of our favorite spots:

Todd Lake

******************************************************************************************************

J U L Y  F A V O R I T E S

PRODUCTS:

As always, links are provided when available, in bold italics.

NUCO >> Nucoconut Organic Coconut Vinegar (Garlic) >>  One word…obsessed!!! While in Vermont, we found this coconut vinegar in a few flavor options, but we chose to buy garlic. I whipped up a quick salad dressing using this with raw tahini and loved it so much that not only did we make it every day, but we also had to pack it in our suitcase to come home! Only two ingredients: organic coconut sap vinegar, organic garlic – it’s tangy like apple cider vinegar, but it’s packed with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

REVIEW: July Favorites

REBEL KITCHEN COCONUT MYLK (Chocolate and Chai) >> Over the last couple of years I’ve seen people post photos of these, but haven’t seen them in stores near us…well, wouldn’t you know, we found them in Vermont! We don’t buy store-bought milks anymore due to ingredients we avoid (xanthan gum, carrageenan, refined sugar, fortified with folic acid, etc.), but guess what? They’re date-sweetened AND zero gums! Yay! Willow and I loved the flavor and the sweetness level was perfect – my only complaint was finding little clumps of coconut, but that was remedied by more shaking or you could blend it up. Reminded me a little of our other favorite store-bought treat (Rebbl drinks) as that same issue can occasionally occur…but that’s because they don’t contain gums or weird preservatives.

Here’s the ingredient list for the Chai Coconut Mylk:

Spring water, organic coconut milk (11%), organic date nectar, organic cacao, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic turmeric.

REVIEW: July Favorites

búcha® live kombucha >> I failed to take a photo of any of the bottles we consumed, but we found these at the local grocery store in Randolph, Vermont and fell in love! We tried: Guava Mango, Blood Orange, Grapefruit Sage, and Raspberry Pomegranate…our absolute favorite flavor was Blood Orange!

THE RAW FOOD WORLD >> UNFORTIFIED NUTRITIONAL YEAST >> I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to get the email that The Raw Food World started carrying unfortified nutritional yeast! Even better…it’s part of the ‘At-Cost’ specials, so we got an awesome deal. Almost every store-bought nutritional yeast is fortified with synthetic ingredients and since many of you ask where we purchase our unfortified option, here’s yet another place to buy it. Unfortified has a MUCH cleaner flavor and it’s SO much safer for consumption.

REVIEW: July Favorites

BEARDED BROTHERS >> MEGA MACA CHOCOLATE ENERGY BAR >> Before we flew to Vermont, I placed a Vitacost order to be shipped to my in-laws house and this was one of the new items we decided to try. I shared this with Willow and we both really enjoyed it! If it wasn’t so pricey, I would go back and order a bunch to have on hand for those hangry moments. The texture was perfect and I love that the first ingredient is dates, followed by nuts, superfoods, and zero refined sugar. Definitely one of the few bars I feel good about giving to Willow.

REVIEW: July Favorites

KING ARTHUR ALMOND FLOUR >> I found this randomly at Target a few weeks ago and it has become my absolute favorite option for almond flour! The package says super finely ground and seeing as I’ve tried pretty much every option out there, this is hands down the finest almond flour I’ve used…I don’t even have to break up any large clumps.

You can also purchase it via Amazon (link above).

REVIEW: July Favorites

STAR WARS PRESCHOOL WORKBOOKS (3-PACK)>> We found these at Costco just before we left for Vermont and Willow had to have them. As a parent (and homeschooling mom) I LOVE these! For a four-year-old, Star Wars obsessed kid, they’re PERFECT! Willow is in heaven and these have made learning SO much fun. While she is above (hope that doesn’t come off as elitist!) the majority of the content, these workbooks have helped her to fine-tune her form.  I highly recommend checking out a Costco near you because you’ll save some money buying them in a three pack as opposed to individually via Amazon. They also offer higher level workbooks for older kids.

REVIEW: July Favorites

SOULFUL BODY >> SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA ANOINTING OIL >> I’m serious when I say this is like sunshine in a bottle! The color – the warm, happy scent – it leaves me with a sense of confidence + peace. The blend of peppermint, rosemary, and lemongrass is gentle, yet powerful! I’ve been applying it to my wrists throughout the day. I love that there is a golden quartz crystal inside this beautiful bottle. I received this inside a Goddess Provisions box, but you can purchase it via Etsy in the link I’ve provided above.

REVIEW: July Favorites

INSTANT POT >> Did any of you grab a hold of any deals on Prime Day?! I literally squealed when I got the email that the Instant Pot was available for only $69!!! Total steal! It’s been on our house wish list forever so we immediately ordered one…I think Willow’s face sums it up 🙂 Hello to soup in a flash, dried beans cooking faster, and busy days made simpler.

REVIEW: July Favorites

******************************************************************************************************

BOOKS:

SOUL VOWS by Janet Conner

BE WHAT YOU WISH by Neville Goddard 

THE UNLIMITED SELF: DESTROY LIMITING BELIEFS, UNCOVER GREATNESS, AND LIVE THE GOOD LIFE by Jonathan Heston 

Josh and I ordered these two books (links below) for Willow off of Amazon to bring on our trip to Vermont…both are beautiful and send positive messages to kiddos. I highly recommend them!

UNSTOPPABLE ME! 10 WAYS TO SOAR THROUGH LIFE by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

DREAMS COME TRUE ALL THEY NEED IS YOU! by Mike Dooley

REVIEW: July Favorites

As usual, I would LOVE to hear from you! Did you try any new products? Read any great books? Watch anything exciting on Netflix? Speaking of Netflix…have you seen the series Stranger Things?! Oh, man. Josh and I just started it and it’s taking every ounce of willpower not to binge watch it!

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!

IMG_9315

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

************************************************************************************************

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

***********************************************************************************************

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

*******************************************************************************************

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!

REVIEW: Summer Favorites

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

SUMMER FAVORITES:

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

nutrion-berry2

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

St. Claire’s Organics: Spearmints >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

RW Garcia: 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

BOOKS I LOVED:

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

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan >> 

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

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

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

RECIPES I TRIED AND LOVED:

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

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

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

REVIEW: Summer Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

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

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

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: December Favorites

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year! Can’t believe it’s 2015! December was a whirlwind of chaos with sleep deprivation, family gatherings and celebrating – it’s a month I love, but can also be stressful. Now that the holidays are over, we’re in this weird lull – like, what’s next?! I’m excited to start a new year and I’m looking forward to what’s in store for my little family.

016

Here are my December Favorites:

Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water: Cinnamon & Clove

I usually pass by this brand because it is on the pricey side, but Whole Foods had it on sale for 50% off…and my friend, Jen, said it was amazing. Let me tell you, there is a HUGE difference in quality between this brand and say Coco Libre or Harvest Bay (also both organic). Don’t get me wrong, they’re still really good, but raw tastes SO much better. This seasonal flavor was exceptional! I am a HUGE cinnamon fan, so this was right up my alley. If you can still find it in stores, I highly recommend grabbing a bottle…or two!

December Favorites // Be Sol-ful

Suja Elements: Holiday Edition: Under the Mistletoe

Surprise, surprise! Another round of favorites that includes a Suja flavor!! This was SO much better than the other holiday peppermint drinks on the market – clean ingredients and only sweetened with coconut palm sugar. I found this at Whole Foods (on sale) and last I checked, it was still on sale.

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha: Third Eye Chai

I’m a sucker for anything chai. Clove, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon – leaves your belly all warm and tingly! This flavor of kombucha did not disappoint.

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Numi Organic Tea: PU-ERH TEA: Chocolate Pu-Erh

I love tea AND I love chocolate. This was absolutely delicious! It’s great as is or sweetened ever so slightly with maple syrup. I really enjoy this brand because not only are their products organic & fair trade, but they’re also an amazing, kind company – community oriented. Other flavors I’ve tried and loved: Gunpowder Green, Rooibos, Moroccan Mint and Chocolate Earl Grey. To learn more about this fabulous company, please visit their website: http://www.numitea.com

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

TOMS Roasting Co. : Peru (pleasant caramel apple)

I have a confession. I love to enjoy a good cup of coffee every now and then…I know there’s debate about coffee being bad, but I don’t drink it every day, nor do I ever drink more than a cup. Not even sure why I’m justifying an indulgence of mine!! For Christmas, Josh bought me a bag of TOMS coffee. This was my first time trying TOMS coffee and I’m really enjoying it! I’ve been a fan of this company for their shoes and their business values – One for One. Just like how they provide a child in need with a new pair of shoes with each purchase, with every bag of coffee purchased, they give one week of clean water to a person in need.

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Tolerant: Organic Red Lentil Mini Fettuccine

I’ve been so anxious to try this brand, but found it to be too expensive for the amount of pasta you get. On Cyber Monday, Dr. Fuhrman’s site had a huge sale – while I stocked up on nutritional yeast, my mom bought a bunch of this pasta and gave us a couple of boxes. I love how sturdy it is, unlike some gluten-free pastas on the market and it also reheated well. The flavor was great, but my favorite part about this pasta was that there is only ONE ingredient: Non GMO Organic Red Lentils. That’s it! We will definitely keep our eyes out for this to go on sale again.

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

069

Lotus Foods: Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen

I love this brand. Period. Clean ingredients, organic and excellent quality. There are four ramen cakes (just noodles, no seasonings included) and it only takes a few minutes to cook up. We’ve been adding them to homemade veggie soups and love how, unlike your typical ramen soup, you aren’t consuming a crazy amount of salt and it’s MSG free. You can find this at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. The noodles come in a few varieties (Forbidden Rice, Jade Pearl Rice and Millet & Brown rice); we’ve tried them all and love them!

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

YumButter: Organic Superfood Sunflower Butter (ground fresh with chia, hemp seeds & goji)

I found this on sale at Whole Foods last month and had to give it a try. While it does have some coconut oil added to it, I was intrigued by the rest of the ingredient list (hemp seeds, chia, goji berry powder, coconut sugar and lucuma). I was also drawn to it because YumButter has a Buy One | Feed One business model…meaning, when you buy YumButter, you feed a child in need. The flavor was wonderful – I’ve been enjoying it in my smoothies and oats – and I skip any sweeteners because the sunflower butter is sweet enough. This company also has peanut butter and almond butter! To learn more, please check out their website: http://www.yumbutter.com

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Kate’s Magik: Moon Goddess

I had been eyeing up this company every time we went to Whole Foods and Natural Grocers and one of the last trips we made to Whole Foods, one of my favorite employees gave me a couple of samples to try. At the time, we were struggling really bad with sleep, so she gave me the Peace & Purification Anointing Oil (Lavender & Roman Chamomile) and Moon Goddess Anointing Oil (Jasmine). Both smelled fabulous and provided a great sense of calming – I’ve been wearing Moon Goddess and it almost instantly brightens my mood! Unfortunately, the peace and purification one didn’t resolve Willow’s battle with sleep 😉 All of these oils are vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free and paraben free. They have a whole line of lotions, aura sprays, diffuser oils, perfume oils and massage oils.

http://www.katesmagik.com

December Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

What were some of your favorites from last month? Stay tuned on Friday when I resume my Friday Feature interview series!

Thanks for stopping by!