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.

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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
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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!

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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!

You are Enough

You are enough. Three simple, yet powerful words. Three words that need to be used more than they are. By me. And by YOU.

You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are. ~ Danielle LaPorte

Be unapologetically YOU.

My first name, Amanda, means “lovable; worthy of love,” yet I’ve struggled hard with feeling worthy and there have been so many days where I think I’m difficult to love. I’m not sharing any of this to fish for compliments or to be pitied, but rather to paint a picture of how society sets us up to dislike ourselves. That we need to fit within a certain box, otherwise we’re not worthy. This past year has been a game changer for me – tested me, pushed me, and opened my eyes to the heart of the matter. I want to share all of this with you because while I have felt a shift in my thinking, I know many still struggle.
I’m here to tell you that what you really need is to find peace within. To recognize that you are worthy at this very moment. You are ENOUGH. If you follow me on Instagram, you most likely saw the post I shared on my birthday along with this amazing poem:

“Never trust a mirror,

For a mirror always lies,

It makes you think that all your worth,

Can be seen on the outside,

Never trust a mirror.

It only shows you what’s skin deep,

You can’t see how your eyelids flutter,

When you’re drifting off to sleep,

It doesn’t show you what the world sees,

When you’re only being you,

Or how your eyes light up,

When you’re loving what you do,

It doesn’t capture when you’re smiling,

When no one else can see,

And your reflection cannot tell you,

Everything you mean to me,

Never trust a mirror,

For it only shows your skin,

And if you think that dictates your worth,

It’s time you looked within.”

~ Erin Hanson

Social media is a blessing and a curse. I have a love-hate relationship with it but lately it’s been getting better with adjusting my mindset. I have to frequently check myself and step away for my personal sanity, but I have watched it destroy others – to the point where they completely lost themselves or their self-worth hit an all-time low. 

My battle with self-love dates back to high school and got harder along the way with toxic relationships. I heard it all (from men and women):

“not skinny enough”

“fat face”

“big-boned”

“breast implants could help”

“not pretty enough”

“eyes are too big”

“too sensitive”

“needs a backbone”

I could go on, but it’s kind of depressing…and in the past. Disordered eating and body dysmorphia became a part of my life. Rather than looking within, I became obsessed with the reflection in the mirror and food…and not in a healthy way. It took a lot of hard work, time, and weeding out who I allowed in my life to get where I am today. Perfectly imperfect.


Going back to when I said social media is a blessing and a curse. When I talk about social media, I’m referring to Instagram (IG) because I left Facebook a few years ago as it wasn’t healthy for me. Instagram has connected me with so many amazing, inspiring, empowering people – some of them I consider my dearest friends, most of them I haven’t even met in person. And some of them are people I’ve known personally for years (former co-workers, school friends, family) – it’s a blessing to have an app to keep us in the loop of one another’s lives. To connect us. It feels good to be supported – to get a virtual hug, high-five, and the occasional “I’ve been there, mama” or “me too!”

Now the curse. The overly filtered, heavily edited, perfectly staged, selectively chosen pictures that are posted. Combined with the competitiveness and elitist attitude from some of the people…it can be a pretty toxic space…if you’re not careful. Did you know that I have received a quite few messages about how my photos could use some work or how to improve my blog or how to gain more followers? You probably didn’t. And while I try not to let that sort of stuff get to me, catch me on a bad day and I will over analyze everything and shut down. I’m not looking to grow my page or blog. To me, Instagram is my life in photos. Family, nature, food, and anything in between…I guess I consider myself a lifestyle page and to me, it’s kind of like a digital diary, an account of the delicious recipes I’ve tried, beautiful hiking spots, and my world…Willow. I post things that genuinely excite me or make me happy – I never post something as a way to impress someone or gain anything. Same goes for my blog – it’s more of a hobby for me. Something I genuinely enjoy because I write for me and if anyone happens to read my rambles, it’s just an added bonus. I don’t take the time to use a photo editor app or perfectly stage my food…nothing against those who do, for me, I just want to eat my food and I’ll occasionally snap a quick, in-the-moment pic, but that’s because I want to enjoy my food while it’s still hot or devour it before it melts. I can absolutely appreciate those gorgeous photos and even if I don’t photograph my food, I still make it pretty…does that make sense? But I need to digress because this rant is not where I intended this to go!

Back to curse. Not everyone on social media is genuine or compassionate. Just like in real life. It can be a selfish world and by that I mean, there are people who are only on there to benefit themselves, even if it means hurting others along the way. For example, there are accounts on IG who spend time commenting on random posts using fake compliments. Sometimes they’ll even go so far as to “follow” you and say, “I love your page” or “I love what you’re doing here.” All of this just to get your attention so that you’ll check out their page or follow them back. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’ll unfollow you once you’re following them. All they care about is growing their numbers. What’s sad is that I know a few people whom this has happened to and due to already low self-worth, it set them over the edge. They took it so personal, as an insult, that they became so depressed. If only people took others feelings into consideration before acting.


It is SO easy to get caught up in the comparison trap – those “perfect” photos can be intimidating and for some, they can be toxic. Here’s my message to you (and a reminder to myself):

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You can’t compare a 38-year-old stay-at-home mother to a twenty something college student. While age doesn’t matter, getting older changes things. Bodies are different, lifestyles alter, priorities shift. I remember being in college. I remember working two jobs while taking a full course load. I remember my body being totally different. I remember having more time to myself. BUT, remember, pregnancy and birthing a child is no joke. I look at my cesarean scar and stretch marks as gifts and while I may never have a toned, flat stomach again, I am damn proud of my body. I am enough.

I’ve even been bad about comparing myself to other moms – I’d see “perfect” posts and think, ‘I need to workout more,’ or ‘I don’t do enough when it comes to homeschooling,’ or a general blanket statement…’I need to do more.’ Heck, there are some days when getting dressed is about all we do and guess what? That’s enough. When I take a step back and look at my life, what I’ve accomplished, my goals – I’m proud and I think I am enough. 

Don’t let those perfectly clean, organized house photos fool you. I have to laugh because I’ll joke and say that I need to snap a photo as evidence that it’s possible to have a clean house. Truth is, our house looks like a tornado ripped through it…95% of the time. Dishes piled HIGH, mail strewn about all over the counter, Willow drawings scattered on the floor, markers missing caps, crumbs EVERYWHERE, and blankets + couch cushions thrown about. We have an almost five-year old child and three fur babies. Our home is cozy, lived in, and messy. When Josh comes home from work, he’s able to follow the trail of the events by looking at the house. So, mamas, look at it this way. A messy house is a sign of having fun. A sign of living. It’s a sign that you’re feeding your family well. It’s a sign that you’ve found more important things to do than scrub the floors or dust the shelves…you’re being a present parent! Just because your house isn’t clean and organized like those posts on IG, doesn’t make you any less of a human being. Remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH. I am enough. (P.S. – also consider the fact that those so-called perfectly clean, organized homes were probably in disarray moments before or after they shared a pic).

What you can’t see in the photo below is our kitchen! Ha!! And to be honest, this is considered pretty clean…


Do not compare a blogger’s food photos to your own. Most bloggers have really nice cameras and props. Some have special lighting equipment. Most make a living off of creating recipes and taking stunningly beautiful photos. It’s their “job” and passion. More than anything, those bloggers put in hard work and effort to create a beautiful shot. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in this specific comparison trap. Being a SAHM I’m forever multi-tasking. Trying to snap a “perfect” photo is next to impossible because either (A) Willow is pulling on my legs or arms asking me to come look at something , (B) Willow is begging to eat what I’m photographing, or (C) I don’t have a really nice camera (just an inexpensive point-and-shoot Nikon or my iPhone), nor do I have any props. Once again, NOTHING against those who have all of this. I am simply stating why my photos aren’t much to look at. I AM a foodie though. I love the kitchen, I love creating, and I love trying new recipes created by others. Will my photos do them justice? Maybe not. But like I said, my posts are like an account of what I’ve made and enjoyed. I personally struggle sometimes to even post food pics because I think to myself, “these aren’t good enough” or “this looks nothing like so-and-so’s photos.” Stop that. Stop that right now. I’m talking to myself and YOU. Because remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH! So post those photos if they make you happy!

I intended on snapping a before photo, but she couldn’t wait to dive in and honestly, this photo makes me waaaaaay happier than a bowl of banana ice cream…


Do not compare someone else’s journey with your own. – Whether its spiritual, health, healing, diet, lifestyle, etc…DO NOT compare the path you are on to another person’s. Do not minimize your progress or success to someone else’s. Keep the focus within. What we all need to remember is that each one of us is different. Bodies. Mindsets. Priorities. Resources. Finances. All of it differs from person to person. Family to family. I do feel that it’s nice to have something to aspire to and occasionally it’s healthy to use someone else’s story for inspiration BUT not as an end all. Not as an “I need this in order to be happy, healthy, or beautiful.” Keep checking in with yourself. Are you happy? If so, you’re on the right path. And remember, no matter the case, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

– I struggled for a while with my own spiritual journey. I’d be bombarded by posts from others sharing what I needed in order to be truly spiritual. I began to feel that I wasn’t meditating enough, praying enough, unplugging enough, reading enough, minimalist enough. In a nutshell, I didn’t feel like I was enough, that while I thought of myself as spiritual, I began doubting that I actually was. That I constantly needed more. Truth is, after taking a deeper look within, I began to see that I was enough and that what I held dear to my journey – to my spiritual practice – worked for me. I began to phase out what others were throwing at me and focused more on what worked for me. Once I stopped comparing my journey with others, I was more at peace. I am a constant work in progress; forever learning how to be the best version of myself without the influence of others.

– In line with this thought, everyone’s idea of veganism (or diet in general) is different and for us to belittle one another over minor details is silly. What I consider healthy for me, won’t line up with the next person. What’s important is that we do what’s right for our own body and mind. Realizing that it’s enough – you’re not less healthy or less of a person because you consume more fat or carbs than someone else. 

Holy bright!!!! I swear this photo is unedited! I attempted to capture Willow being super silly,  but just as I snapped the pic, she ducked down in her car seat…but I managed to capture how truly happy I was…


I have to share an excerpt from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (seriously read her books, I’ve loved them all). The last paragraph on the page below is so perfect…


Do it for YOU. The second you start posting for someone else’s attention or approval or writing what you think people want to hear, you’ve lost yourself. You’ve forgotten what it’s all about. YOU are important and what you have to share IS important. So don’t post something because you think it will get a lot of “likes” or “followers” – post from the heart. Post what makes YOU happy. Post what sings to your soul. When you do that, the right people will be aligned with your path.When you get caught up in what others like or what the “trend” is, you stop being yourself. What YOU have to offer is ENOUGH. For me this also means taking frequent breaks or unplugging for a few days – I’ve learned to be OK with not replying to comments the day they’re left or catching up on everyone’s page. Those who matter will still be there when I return. I choose to take care of myself (and family) before anything else.

If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value. ~ Unknown


Do not compare numbers; in fact, ignore them. Just because you have less followers than someone else, does not make you any less important or valuable. Just because you only got 30 likes on a post doesn’t mean your photo wasn’t beautiful or meaningful. Know deep down that numbers mean nothing. Some of my absolute favorite pages/people have small followings and I adore them because their captions speak to me and their photos are  real, in-the-moment accounts of life. I enjoy interacting, engaging with other people and often times, the bigger pages just can’t keep up with comments or questions, which sadly, makes me less inclined to reach out to them. I love the pages that share unapologetically and a little bit of everything: food, personal, nature, quotes, motherhood…you name it. As long as they’re posting from the heart, that’s all that matters. So whether you have 20 followers or 100k followers, you need to remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Your worth is not determined by numbers. As long as you’re doing what YOU love, it is enough.


If you’re unhappy with who you are, what you look like, or where you are, I highly recommend digging down deep within and figuring out why. I say this because trying to change who you are or what you look like doesn’t always bring happiness, in fact, chances are, your feelings will remain the same. So choose to be happy now, not “when I lose 10 pounds,” or “when I get that promotion.” Embrace who YOU are and recognize your unique self and remember…

You are not your wrinkles, age spots, acne scars.

You are not the number on a scale.

You are not your pant size.

You are not your grades in school or your degree.

You are not your job title.

You are not your mistakes or shortcomings.

Your worth is NOT determined by the amount of followers you have or the number of likes you get on a post.

You aren’t less worthy if you “fail.” Choosing to put yourself out there and be who you are is a brave action. Vulnerability is not weakness.

The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognise your own worth. ~ Maxwell Maltz

I had an epiphany a couple of days before my birthday (which is what sparked this blog post) and it was literally as if someone finally turned a bright light on after being in the dark for years. I felt a sense of freedom that was indescribable. Rather than living in a state of fear or walking on eggshells, I am now able to approach social media with a new mindset. New eyes. New confidence. I used to fear what others would think so I would hold back (filter) what I share. This last year was a whirlwind of emotions and struggles with health, creativity, relationships, love, loss, and change. I learned to follow my heart, my gut, and listen to my body…and ignored what others said was the “right” way. Through this journey, I have lost a few friends (real and online) because they didn’t agree with my path. And that’s OK. Hundreds unfollowed me on social media in a week’s span and while it stung at first, I count it as a blessing. I’m being aligned with those who truly matter; those who accept me for who I am…all of me. I learned the difference between true friends and those who only “liked” me when I was either making their recipes – only “supported” me when it was convenient or only talked with me when my life was positive (when I kept my struggles to myself)…a handful of those people unfollowed me on social media and while I’m grateful for what I learned from them while we were “friends” I am also grateful to not have artificial friendships in my life. I have grown because of them. I have learned that I AM ENOUGH no matter what. If I’m in a creativity slump…I AM STILL ENOUGH. I believe in supporting my friends wholeheartedly, even if their path doesn’t align with my own. Even if I am unable to make their recipes or buy their products, I support them with my words and energy. Realize that YOU ARE ENOUGH and if for any reason you doubt your stance with someone, it is time to let go and recognize that you should not have to fight to be heard by a “friend.”

I’ll share one last bit before I end this loooong ramble 😉

Becoming a mother opened my eyes in more ways than one. I’ve grown more than ever during these almost five years and have come to really recognize my strength. During these years, I have also been criticized more than ever – whether by random strangers on social media or family. Everything from diet, choice to not vaccinate, homeschooling, and me being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I’ve been told that I need to do research, or I’m depriving my child, I need to listen to doctors, or get a part-time job. Yep. That last one really irks me. Get a job?? I may not punch in my hours on a time clock or receive a paycheck, but I hold many “job” titles and work 24/7. As with everything else, I’ve come to grow from the criticism or negativity. Why? Because I realize that my worth does not depend on what others think of me. And as far as being a mom, sure I have my bad days and moments of doubt, but I know deep down that I’m doing a pretty damn good job.


I think we all need to remember that we’re human. We might make mistakes, fall down, fail, do things we’re not proud of, but we are ALL WORTHY.

To anyone and everyone reading this, I’m sending you LOTS OF BIG hugs. Thank you for taking the time to read this to the end.

 

February 2017 Favorites

Happy March, my friends! We’re getting that much closer to SPRING and I’m ready for it. I feel like this has been the hardest winter I’ve had in a long time and I know there are quite a few of you feeling the same way. BUT on a major positive note…our snow has melted!!!! Do you know how amazing it feels to actually be able to see the ground again???

Highlights from the month:

– If you read my post from last month (or follow me on Instagram) you know that I held a weekend long promotion to raise money for ACLU (50% of my sales)….I was able to donate $100 thanks to YOU! And a HUGE thanks for all of the wonderful feedback – it warms my heart to hear that you’re enjoying everything!

February 2017 Favorites

– Going on a little Valentine’s Day tea date with Josh and pulling over like a tourist to stop and take in the gorgeous view. Those snow covered mountains never get old.

– Turning 38! I’m feeling really good about this year and I’m excited to see what’s in store.

– Chopping off a foot of my hair to donate to Children with Hair Loss (CWHL)! I’ve done hair donation quite a bit, but this is my first time to this organization. I learned the truth about Locks of Love and will never donate to them again. CWHL is a non-profit organization that provides wigs to children (with medically related hair loss) at NO COST. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re planning on cutting your long hair!

– Finishing two big puzzles with Willow (1,000 piece puzzles). This kid is addicted and REALLY good!


– Doing another big round of decluttering! I even asked Willow if she would be up for donating some of her things…she surprised me by overflowing TWO boxes! So now we’re looking into where to donate some gently used stuffed animals, clothes, books, and games. Willow is excited for another boy or girl to enjoy her things…proud mama over here!

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F E B R U A R Y  FAVORITES >>

P R O D U C T S:

TURMERIC CHAI>> Mountain Rose Herbs® >> I adore Mountain Rose Herbs for so many reasons and I even use quite a few of their products to make the items in my Etsy shop. I love that they offer high quality & organic ingredients…and it feels good to support another Oregon company. OK, but moving on to this tea! It’s no secret that I love chai and I LOVE turmeric, so it was a given that I’d eventually give this tea a try! It’s been so perfect for these chilly, windy, winter days. I love to heat up a bit of coconut milk to add to this, along with a small drizzle of maple syrup – it makes a creamy, slightly spicy drink that warms you to the core. Next time I’ll be sure to order a bigger box!

February 2017 Favorites

CASSAVA & CHIA AMAZING GRAIN-FREE TORTILLAS >> SIETE >> I’ve walked by these tortillas every Monday for the last few months, but never bothered to buy them because I was avoiding seeds. BUT I’m SO happy to report that I’ve been able to add in small amounts of nuts and seeds…small amounts, but I’ll take it! So a couple weeks ago I finally splurged and bought a pack to celebrate (they’re $8.99 for a pack of 8). THEY. ARE. AMAZING!!! Not only do they hold up really well, but I love the flavor and texture. I used them to make roasted veggie wraps and salad wraps. They won’t be a weekly buy as they are really pricey, but as an every now and again treat, I think they’re perfect. I love the “clean” ingredient list and they contain ZERO gums or citric acid. They offer an almond flour pack, but they do contain xanthan gum and steer clear of the coconut wraps as they contain pork lard. I buy them from Natural Grocers, but most Whole Foods carries them as well.

February 2017 Favorites
Oh! And their Sea Salt Grain Free Tortilla Chips are THE BEST! So light, airy, crispy and perfect for salsa or nachos. I’m the only grain-free person in my household, but we’ve really cut back on grains as a family, too – so these are a wonderful substitute (but pricier than your average bag of tortilla chips). We get them from Whole Foods for about $5.99/bag.

February 2017 Favorites

GREEN CHILE GUACAMOLE >> HOPE FOODS >> We have had THE worst luck with avocados these last few weeks…no matter where we purchased them from. I haven’t given up yet, but with the increasing price of avocados…some places charging $2.49 for ONE, I’ve made them a limited buy…or I make Josh pick them up from work because if do get a bunch of bad ones, we can return them. But I digress. I found this guacamole on sale at Natural Grocers one day and picked it up to go with our veggie wraps. Huge hit! When we used to buy store-bought hummus, we loved to get anything from Hope Foods, so I knew that their guacamole would be delicious. For being pre-made, it had a really nice fresh flavor with a bit of a kick to it. I’d definitely buy it again!

 

GARLIC DILL PICKLE GUT SHOTS >> FARMHOUSE CULTURE >> Who loves dill pickles?? If you don’t, then keep scrolling. But if you do, then definitely give this a try! We are a garlic obsessed house and we love pickles, so Josh and I decided to pick this up one day. Not going to lie, it really does taste like you’re drinking pickle juice, BUT it’s super smooth and really flavorful. We’ve been on a pretty heavy sauerkraut kick – something about that tangy zip – so this has been a wonderful addition. We’ve been doing two shots a day. We found this at Natural Grocers for $4.99/bottle.

February 2017 Favorites
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R E C I P E S:

I know that last month I said that I was hoping to share more recipes for this post, but I only have two to share! We’ve really simplified our eating and tend to stick to raw or roasted veggies of some sort, salads, and soups…and LOTS of potatoes. Eating this way has helped stick to our grocery budget and we work more with things we have on hand, as opposed to buying a bunch of things for just one recipe. Hopefully in the future I’ll have more favorites to share here, but for now, with my restricted diet, we stick to our simple, go-to meals.

RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE >> EATING VIBRANTLY >> I made this for my birthday and not only did I love it, but my entire family raved about it! Super easy to throw together, short ingredient list, and free from things I’m avoiding…so no fussing over substitutes.  We described it as more of a mousse cake as opposed to an actual cheesecake, but it was amazing nonetheless. The directions said to let it sit in the fridge, but I found that allowing it to set in the freezer worked better as it firmed up a bit more. It was super rich, decadent, and not overly sweet, which was nice. It used raw cacao butter and coconut milk instead of the usual cashews, so it was easier on my tummy.

February 2017 Favorites

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH BITS >> FEASTING ON FRUIT >>  When I got the email for this recipe and saw that it takes just a few minutes to make, I jumped into the kitchen and whipped it up! Natalie’s recipe calls for oat flour, but I used tigernut flour instead to keep it grain-free. Willow and I have been enjoying it straight out of the container and sprinkled on top of a smoothie bowl or banana ice cream. Little chewy, sweet bits of deliciousness and without the guilt! I’m planning on making the oatmeal that Natalie posted (HERE) for Willow once I get or make some cashew butter.

February 2017 Favorites
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B O O K S:

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

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So tell me…what were some of your favorite things from February?! Did you try any new products? Make any new recipes? Read any share-worthy books?? I’d love to hear! Or have you been (binge)watching any shows on Netflix?? I finally finished The Office a couple of weeks ago and cried. Such a great show and a wonderful distraction from all the depressing news in the world.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

REVIEW: November Favorites 2016

Happy (almost) December, my friends! December???!! I know I say it every month, but seriously, HOW did another month fly by so fast??? The year is almost over!

We stuck close to home last month, no crazy adventures, because I’ve been working like a madwoman to get myself ready (both mentally and physically) for the holiday bazaar this Saturday! I’m sharing a table with my Mom at a local event – my first time as a vendor and not a shopper! I feel like I’m using way more exclamation points than usual…I think I’m excited. And nervous! But I’ve got new products to bring and old favorites – fingers crossed things sell!


Oh! Willow did get her first haircut! Haha! More like the world’s smallest trim 😉 she was afraid to cut her hair and won’t let me cut mine, so we’ve got crazy long hair for now. We took her to my aunt’s salon, so it was fun experience…

But back to the purpose of this post…my favorites! I did lots of reading and very little of trying new products and recipes, but still have some share-worthy things here!

Before I dive in, I wanted to say how grateful I am for my family. Not only do they love and support me unconditionally, but they continue to amaze me. This past Thanksgiving, we had not only an all vegan, gluten-free gathering, BUT get this…also grain-free!! Can you believe it??? The food was amazing and from what I could gather by the empty plates, I wasn’t alone in my thinking. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, to those who celebrated ❤️

REVIEW: November Favorites 2016

{{Shepard’s Pie Stuffed Acorn Squash (link and details below), mashed potatoes with an AIP friendly mushroom gravy, roasted brussels, and garlicky spinach. How are we going to top this meal next year???}}

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NOVEMBER FAVORITES:

PRODUCTS:

Simple Mills Pizza Dough >> I actually meant to include this in last month’s favorite post, but completely spaced it! When this product went on sale in October at Natural Grocers, we ended up buying a few boxes. While I personally can’t enjoy this, Willow and my family raves about it! I take that back, I actually did enjoy a little at a family pizza night…I LOVED it, but sadly paid the price for several days 😦 the almond flour and cauliflower just don’t agree with my system. I’m hoping that changes in the future because this crust is amazing…I might even go out on a limb to say it’s the best I’ve ever had. Willow has declared that we only make this crust! Awesome ingredients, super easy to mix up, and full of flavor!

REVIEW: November Favorites 2016

Simple Mills Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Almond Flour Crackers >> Another product I failed to mention earlier! I bought these for Willow when we went on our road trip to CA back in September and they’ve been a huge hit ever since. Willow says they taste like pizza 🙂 She eats them as a snack with hummus or chickpea mash, or as is!

REVIEW: November Favorites 2016

Ah Cacao >> Kicaco (cacao energy bar) Coconut >> Only three ingredients and no added sugar. Who would have thought that raisins + coconut + cacao would create an amazing combo of flavors and texture?? I found this during one of our trips to Natural Grocers and there were three flavor options (the other two contained almonds or peanuts) – all were $1.99 each. The first trip we grabbed just one to try and split it between three people…I quickly regretted not buying more! They’re perfect on the sweetness level and super satisfying.

REVIEW: November Favorites 2016
REVIEW: November Favorites 2016
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BOOKS:

I’m starting with books before recipes this post (you’ll soon see why)! I actually read more than shown here, but a couple of the books weren’t very good.

REVIEW: November Favorites 2016

Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods by Anthony William >>
If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram account for awhile, you know how much I loved his first book. This second book is just as amazing! He breaks down 50 foods (fruits, vegetables, herbs, wild foods) and not only does he discuss the healing properties of each, but he also lists symptoms and illnesses within each food that could benefit from consuming it. Each food is also accompanied by a recipe! Just like his first book, I am glad we own this book as we will be referring back to it frequently. HIGHLY recommend!

Dumbing Us Down (The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling) by John Taylor Gatto >> I devoured this book in almost one sitting – it was incredibly insightful and a very quick, easy read. I found myself nodding in agreement all throughout and had a good laugh at his list of what kids actually learn in school – it was so true and very sad. This book explained so much about myself and how compulsory school impacted my spirit, in a negative way…and how the system failed me. Please don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing teachers and schools out there, but even the best teachers have rules to follow and curriculum to adhere to…which doesn’t account for the varying degree of learning styles. Reading this book and seeing how Willow is thriving without sitting in an overcrowded classroom confirms our decision to homeschool. Excellent read – I gave it five stars on Goodreads! Josh also read it and has since recommended it to a few people he knows.

Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No BS guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and becoming wildly WEALTHY, fabulously HEALTHY, and bursting with LOVE by Melissa Ambrosini >> I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! I laughed, cried, and walked away feeling so empowered. Reading her story felt like she was in my head writing my story – I could relate in so many ways – health issues and all. This was beautifully written, well organized, and eye-opening. Her words really force you to take a look in the mirror and see just how much your inner critic (voice) holds you back from living the life you deserve. I love the quotes throughout the book, as well as the contracts (which you can print from her website). Being more accountable and recognizing why you’re acting in fear will get you closer to love and silencing your “mean girl.” We are all deserving of love and we need to realize that we can absolutely create the life we want! I HIGHLY recommend this book to all of my women readers! I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary, PhD >> I just recently started this book and while I’m not very far, I can already tell that I’m going to learn a lot from it. This is a bit heavier and wordy than the previous two books I mentioned, but I do need to put into account that it was written by someone holding a PhD. I’ll hopefully have more to say next favorites post, or look for my review on Goodreads!

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RECIPES:

Yellow Coconut Curry >> Medical Medium’s Life Changing Foods book >> After completing his book, Josh and I quickly chose to start with this recipe…because curry! This was how I reintroduced curry spices back into my diet and I was so relieved to not have a negative reaction. We loved it so much that we’ve made it twice! It is so comforting and satisfying, but the best part is that it makes a GIANT pot and the leftovers get better and better with each passing day. I love how it doesn’t contain any nuts, beans, or grains – so we didn’t have to modify the recipe at all.

Asparagus Soup >> Medical Medium’s Life Changing Foods book >> We’ve been gravitating to lots of soup with the cold weather upon us, so we were excited to give this recipe a try. Unlike the pot of curry mentioned above, this soup made just enough for two adults and a small portion of leftovers that I had hoped Willow would eat. It calls for very minimal ingredients, but the flavor was wonderful! We made the mistake of using an immersion blender the night we made it, which left the soup quite fiberous (due to the asparagus), so I ran the leftovers through the Vitamix to create a really smooth, creamy texture and preferred that so much more. I enjoyed it with some sauteed greens – I failed to take a photo.

Shepard’s Pie Stuffed Acorn Squash >> The Plant Philosophy >> When Margaret first showed some teaser pics of this recipe, I knew straight away that I wanted to make this for Thanksgiving. I loved the idea of having all sorts of delicious, healthy veggies stuffed into one beautiful dish. I did make some minor adjustments to keep it AIP friendly, but didn’t change the seasonings or process. Here’s what I did: since most frozen mixed veggies contain peas, beans, or corn, I opted to cook up some fresh veggies of my choice – I sauteed up onion, garlic, carrots, and celery (certainly didn’t look as pretty or colorful as Margaret’s). Next, for my portion, I added chopped, sauteed cremini mushrooms, but kept the meatless crumble for the rest of the family. Finally, I used white sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes. The verdict?? EVERYONE LOVED IT! Even my 86-year old Oma (grandma) devoured her portion…even after she told me I gave her too big of a piece 😉 This was such an easy, flavorful, comforting dish and I’d love to make it again soon!

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As always, I’d love to hear from you!! Let me know if you’ve tried any new products or recipes or read any good books. Leave me a comment below! Hope all of you have a wonderful December!!

Thanks for stopping by!

❤️

REVIEW: February Favorites

Hello, friends! It’s hard to believe that yet another month of 2016 has flown by so fast! We enjoyed a very spring-like February, went on some hikes, did some rockhounding and I celebrated my 37th birthday. This was such a fun month for new products, books and of course delicious new recipes! So let’s dive in!

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REVIEW: February Favorites

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If you were to ask Willow about her February Favorites, it would consist of her Frozen princess dress (which is currently covered in holes due to wearing it ALL THE TIME), her light up shoes and the Taylor Swift CD my Mom gave her for Valentine’s Day…if you ride in the car with us, you will undoubtedly hear Shake it Off on repeat. I know the words by heart. Here is cover of Shake it Off featuring Willow’s favorite ukulele player. I’ve lost track at how many times she’s made me watch this…

Her version of Riptide is another Willow favorite.

FEBRUARY FAVORITES:

PRODUCTS I FELL IN LOVE WITH:

GODDESS PROVISIONS >> SELF-CARE BOX >> I learned about Goddess Provisions through one of my best friends (Jen @luminousspirit) and when I found out that there was a monthly box perfectly suited for what I loved (crystals, aromatherapy, apothecary, beauty, tea and all things spiritual) I absolutely had to give it a try! While I’m not financially ready to commit to a monthly subscription, I did order a one time box that was offered in the month of January. A $64 value, but the boxes are only $35…then I had a coupon code for a few dollars off. They offer four types of boxes: Self-Care, Energize Your Senses, Sacral Chakra, and Third Eye Chakra. My Self-Care Box contained:

REVIEW: February Favorites

I absolutely LOVED this box! The lip tint was so perfect for me – I’ve been on the hunt for a new lip tint and the shade is exactly what I was looking for. Smells amazing and super moisturizing. The roller ball fragrance is REALLY strong and while it smells really nice, I can’t wear it all the time (and when I do, it’s a super tiny dab) since I’m sensitive to overpowering scents. If you like a strong vanilla-amber scent, this is perfect for you. The bath salts though…heavenly! I cried when the last bite of the chocolate bar was gone. SO. GOOD. I loved that it was raw, organic, no refined sugar (used coconut sugar) and contained lots of beneficial ingredients – I could see myself ordering more of these chocolate bars! I didn’t have a tangerine quartz in my collection yet, so this was perfect! Definitely check Goddess Provisions out and their IG page is beautiful – they feature some lovely, magical accounts and they radiate nothing but good energy!

FROODLES FRUIT STRIPS >> We’re always browsing to see what new items have become available at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods. Earlier in the month, we spotted Froodles! They’re like fruit leathers, but in strips…kinda like fruit noodles…hence the name Froodles! We got them on sale from Natural Grocers throughout the month of February. I love that there’s no added sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives – just fruit! We only saw the 1 oz pouches (perfect for an on-the-go snack), but I noticed online that they offer a 3 oz pouch as well. I originally bought these for Willow, but when I stole a bite, I fell in love! Chewy, sweet and zero guilt. I have a feeling these will come in handy over the summer during hiking trips and camping adventures.

REVIEW: February Favorites

JEWELRY!!!! I WAS GIFTED SOME PRETTY FANTASTIC ITEMS FOR MY BIRTHDAY FROM TWO OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SHOPS!!!!

I love these two shops for several reasons and gravitate towards both when it comes time to find a gift for someone’s birthday or Christmas. The makers behind each shop are incredibly genuine, kind, supportive and their work stands out among the other shops out there. You can definitely feel the love put into each piece as they’re passionate about what they do!

REVIEW: February Favorites

SUN METAL JEWELRY >> A beautiful nature-y pendant and earrings to match! I absolutely LOVE Diana & Ted’s shop and these two items are a wonderful addition to my Sun Metal collection! I love the copper and silver mix AND that little leaf is so perfect!

COMPASSIONATE PAWS JEWELRY >> I had been wanting a necklace from Jen’s shop and was SO excited to receive this gorgeous, wire-wrapped Amethyst necklace. A sweet friend also gifted me the beautiful bracelet (the heart charm is perfect) – I’m in LOVE!! So grateful for the amazing friends in my life.

LIVING LIBATIONS >> For the last few years, I have wanted to try some of Nadine’s magical creations…OK, all of them…and was so excited to get an email from The Raw Food World that there were some Living Libations products ‘At-Cost’ in February! You better believe I immediately jumped on that site and scrolled through what was available. A lot of the oral care products were part of the special and oh, my! The prices were significantly cheaper! Then I used the coupon code ‘rawfood7’ for an additional discount…AND I had a $10 store credit, so score! Here’s what we ordered:

REVIEW: February Favorites

Just after one day I noticed a difference! Josh and I both LOVE everything! I’ve used several other clay toothpastes and this one is hands down the best I’ve ever tried! It has a very creamy, smooth texture – not gritty and doesn’t have a strong clay taste. Leaves your mouth feeling incredibly clean…especially when you’ve also massaged your gums with the Happy Gum Drops! The Yogi Tooth Serum is a cinnamon lover’s dream!!! From what I’ve read, if you’re a tea and/or coffee drinker or green smoothie lover, the Tooth Truth Powder Polish is for you! I’ve been bouncing between brushing my teeth with that and the clay toothpaste and seriously love both. When I do use the Tooth Truth Powder, I also add a drop of the Yogi Tooth Serum to my brush.

Oh! And everything smells absolutely amazing!!

Click HERE to see the 8 Steps to Successful Self-Dentistry – this is what Josh and I have been following since receiving these products…and I’m not kidding when I say that after each time I’ve followed those steps, it feels like I just had a trip to the dentist. The links to the products above will take you to the Living Libations site for full descriptions and details. Please note that the Yogi Tooth Serum and Happy Gum Drops are similar, so it’s not necessary to have both. We were just anxious to try as many Living Libations products as possible and took advantage of the sale! I HIGHLY recommend checking out the site as there are way more products beyond just oral care.

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RECIPES WE TRIED AND LOVED:

CROWD PLEASING TEX MEX CASSEROLE >> THE OH SHE GLOWS COOKBOOK >> My dear friend, Julie, had raved about this recipe and it’s one we had marked to try so I immediately added it to the following week’s menu. WHOA! Why we waited so long to try it is beyond me! SO simple to make and one of the most flavorful dishes we’ve made – the leftovers tasted even better the next day. Willow wouldn’t touch it, but when we deconstructed it (separated each ingredient) she enjoyed some with some tortilla chips.

RAW HEMP CHOCOLATES >> UNCONVENTIONAL BAKER >> We had a girls only Valentine’s Day this year since Josh had to work late and my Dad was out of town – so Willow and I spent it with my Mom, Oma, and Aunt Diane. I chose to make these to share with everyone and doubled the recipe because I knew they were going to be amazing…oh, man. I am SO glad that I did! Sadly, my candy making skills need a lot of work, which is why I didn’t share a photo on Instagram…they were all sorts of sizes, messy (I’m pretty sure Willow could have done a better job) – next time I’ll be sure to freeze/chill the tray first to avoid the melty chocolate mess! But they were INSANELY good. So good that I almost didn’t bring them to share – terrible, huh? They’re rich, decadent, dreamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Everyone LOVED them! I’ll definitely be making these again!

REVIEW: February Favorites

CREAMY CURRY DRESSING >> THE FIT FORK FEED >> Holy drinkable deliciousness!! I’ve been following Lindsay over @thefitforkfeed for a few months now and I’m constantly drooling over her creations – her IG page and blog are both beautiful. As soon as I saw her post a photo of this dressing, I knew I absolutely needed to try it because (1) I LOVE curry and (2) the vibrant yellow sunshine-like color was jaw dropping. Verdict…easily one of my new favorite dressings and I want to put it on everything and pretty much did! I made a couple of minor adjustments and cut the oil in half (replaced with extra water) and used maple syrup instead of honey.

REVIEW: February Favorites

BUTTERFINGER ENERGY BITES >> THE FIT FORK FEED >> These took a few minutes to whip up and they’re absolutely INCREDIBLE! Only five ingredients, but a powerhouse of a list…including dried mulberries…our favorite! These are so perfect for Willow since they’re high in protein and contain healthy fats. She had fun helping me make these and quickly devoured one after they set in the freezer for a bit. I love how much they remind me of an actual Butterfinger bar – for lack of a better word, they really are buttery, melt in your mouth and have little pops of crispiness, thanks to those magical mulberries. Definitely give these a try!!!

REVIEW: February Favorites

EASY VEGAN MEXICAN CHEESE SAUCE >> THE VEGAN 8 >> I’m honestly shocked that it took me this long to make this amazing cheese sauce! It’s so hard when the list of recipes to make grows longer by the day and you just want to try them all! Well, we finally got around to making this and used it on top of potato nachos…insanely good. I’ve actually got a Mexican cheese sauce coming to the blog soon, but Brandi’s is easier and super quick to whip up. I kept it on the mild side for Willow’s sake and she really enjoyed it, too! Josh and I added extra salsa to ours to give it more of a kick, but it wasn’t really necessary. This is one of those sauces where the possibilities are endless – roasted veggies, baked potatoes, pasta, rice bowls and SO much more.

REVIEW: February Favorites

HECK YEAH, BANANA PANCAKES >> YUM UNIVERSE COOKBOOK >> I really can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE this cookbook. For me, it’s tied with The Oh She Glows Cookbook because EVERY single recipe we’ve tried has been fantastic. This has been one of our go-to pancake recipes for a while now, but I make one adjustment – I replace the chickpea flour with King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose flour. I found that the chickpea flour was too overpowering for our liking and the gf flour mellowed it out. They turn out perfect every time!

BASIL & PEPPER PINE NUT CRISPS >> YUM UNIVERSE COOKBOOK >> Well, we found out Willow isn’t a fan of pine nuts, but Josh and I devoured these! I had every intention of pairing these with soup, but we couldn’t stop eating them. If you try these, definitely be sure to press them into a really thin layer to bake evenly and crisp up – I had to bake mine way longer than suggested because I made them too thick. I love how cheesy and buttery these were!

REVIEW: February Favorites

LEMON BLUEBERRY WAFFLES >> MINIMALIST BAKER >> We finally got a waffle maker last month and LOVE it! I immediately Googled “vegan gluten free waffles” and the top three were Minimalist Baker recipes…another favorite of ours since each recipe is a huge hit with the whole family. I made Willow the Oatmeal Waffles one morning (subbed melted coconut oil instead of vegan butter) and she loved them! Since I’m still easing back into oats, I took a couple of bites and saved the rest for her. A couple of weeks later, we made these Lemon Blueberry Waffles and I thought they were the best! I used chocolate chips in Willow’s batch since she’s not a fan of blueberries present in food – she loves them on their own and blended in a smoothie, just not in pancakes or muffins. Anyways, I thought the lemony flavor was so perfect and they crisp up beautifully!

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BOOKS I’M ENJOYING:

February was a big month for reading…I decided to give myself a break from the things I felt “needed” to be done and took more time for ME! That also meant taking a break from Instagram for several days and unplugging. Willow would fall asleep at night and I would curl up with a book and Willow in my arms – pretty much perfect. I fell into a bit of a creative slump and really needed to recharge, refocus and get inspired. I used most of my birthday money to order some books that have been on my to-read list and they were just what I needed!

REVIEW: February Favorites

I finished The Moonlit Garden (on Kindle) and REALLY enjoyed it! I almost gave up on it shortly after my last monthly favorites post, as I felt that it was moving too slow, but it turned out to be a beautiful story. I also finished Meet your Soul. Here are some others that I’ve read, working on or referred back to in February:

JUST ASK THE UNIVERSE: A NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO MANIFESTING YOUR DREAMS by MICHAEL SAMUELS >> If you have Amazon Prime (and a Kindle) you can borrow this book for free! Which is exactly what I did. I also finished it in a day…quick read, but incredibly inspiring! A great little book on the Law of Attraction – how positive thoughts attract positive things to happen – focusing your energy on gratitude and really envisioning yourself accomplishing tasks, goals, dreams and wants. The author helps you to create an “I Want” list – which was really strange for me to write out at first, but then I couldn’t stop! I had pages filled with things I wanted for myself and others – when I put the pen down, I felt excited and incredibly positive. He also has you write out a list of things you’ve already accomplished or gained which opened my eyes to just how blessed I am. I really loved his writing style as it was obviously upbeat, but had a touch of humor to it unlike the most of the spiritual books I’ve read. Definitely add this to your list!

HOW TO BE A WILDFLOWER by KATIE DAISY >> I actually pre-ordered this book for my friend Jen’s birthday and almost ordered myself one…well, my parents ended up giving me a copy for my birthday! Little side note – Katie Daisy was raised in a small town in Illinois and currently resides here in Bend, OR – she is insanely talented and I absolutely adore everything she does. Her artwork is so inspiring, I literally want everything from her Etsy shop. But moving on to this book! Gorgeous!!! As I turned through each page, everything around me suddenly disappeared and I was completely drawn into a world filled with magic + beauty. Since I’m such a big quote person, this book is perfect for me as it contains so many of my favorites. This book is a constant reminder about just how amazing nature is and the importance of connecting yourself with the Earth.

REVIEW: February Favorites

GHOST GIFTS by LAURA SPINELLA >> I chose this for my February Kindle First book (free) and it ended up being one that I just couldn’t put down! I hesitated to pick this one because it was under the “romantic suspense” genre and I honestly don’t read romance books, but the description reeled me in. It’s about a woman who (from a very young age) communicates with the deceased and while working for the local paper, she gets assigned to a story which reveals her secret ability. I genuinely enjoyed this book as it moved at a great pace, the characters (for the most part) were well developed and the romance factor was minimal – so it ended up being a great mystery book!

WRECKAGE by EMILY BLEEKER >> Yet another Kindle First book that I downloaded last year and forgot about! I plowed through this one in a few nights and it was a fun, quick read. It’s a mystery-romance (I swear I didn’t expect the romance part!) about two survivors of a plane crash who come home after two years on a deserted island. The book goes between two timelines where we’re with them on the island and being interviewed in present day.

THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS by DEEPAK CHOPRA >> Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this book now. You will read it in one sitting, but it’s one that you will absolutely hold dear to your heart, and one that you’ll most likely refer back to…I’ve already read it twice. Such a practical set of “laws” that will open your eyes to just how powerful energy is – where you choose to focus your attention – to be more aware.

“With the knowledge and practice of the seven spiritual laws, we align with nature’s intelligence, and our dreams and desires are easily fulfilled. When we understand these laws, and apply them in our lives, anything we want can be created.”

THE UNTETHERED SOUL: THE JOURNEY BEYOND YOURSELF by MICHAEL SINGER >> This book has been on my list for quite some time, so I was very quick to add it to my Amazon shopping cart after my birthday. I’m not done with it yet, but I’ve had several moments where I found myself saying, “YES!” out loud. Very eye opening and has, so far, helped me to better understand some of my inner battles.

I’ve been referring back to You Can Heal Your Life & A Return to Love quite a bit even though I finished them a while back and I used my birthday money to purchase: Radical Self Love, Light is the New Black and The Surrender Experiment, so look for reviews for those in the next month or two!

 

What are you reading?! Please share any of your recent finds, favorites, or highlights of February – I’d love to hear, so leave a comment below.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Love & Light

REVIEW: January Favorites

We had a few highlights during January – a good bit of snow early in the month, took Willow to use her snowshoes for the first time AND we got our fireplace running! Which meant we were finally able to keep our house heated above 60°! Not even kidding, our house was freezing – I’m talking wearing a winter hat, layers of clothes and a few blankets to bed. For those who aren’t familiar with cadet heaters…they stink and put your electric bill through the roof! So, we’re all happy, cozy and able to enjoy a smoothie without shivering all day. And our cats are in heaven.

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JANUARY FAVORITES:

OREGON BRINEWORKS HOT SAUCE >> Supporting anything Oregon made (and organic) makes my heart super happy. We’re big hot sauce fans – just a couple drops adds such a great flavor to some of my favorite dishes. This is one of the best hot sauces I’ve had as it tastes fresh AND the ingredient list is pretty fantastic (raw and fermented). We found this in the refrigerated area at Natural Grocers.

REVIEW: January Favorites

ZENBUNNI BIODYNAMIC CHOCOLATE {Rainbow Box} >> A very dear friend sent me a wonderful package of goodies this holiday season and this was in there. They were meant to be for Josh, but thank goodness he shared! The three of us shared each bar so we could get a little sample. Talk about the best chocolate I’ve ever had. Here is the list of flavors included in the box:

REVIEW: January Favorites

My personal favorites were the Kathmandu Chai and Maui Turmeric Ginger. Willow LOVED each one, but we didn’t allow her to try the Mucha Mocha or Frida Azteca (had a pretty good spicy kick). I really loved how the little box came with a quartz crystal, too! All of their ingredients are organic and contain zero soy, gluten or refined sugar. While on the pricier side, it forces you to really savor each bite and not devour the box in one sitting…although I fully admit we wanted to!

FLYING BIRD BOTANICALS >> Peace of Mind herbal tea >> Another gift (from the same friend) and I shared it with Willow. I really love finding teas that require no added sweetener – such a mild floral, comforting flavor with a touch of mint. The packaging is beautiful! From the label on the canister, to the actual tea bag itself. I look forward to trying other teas from this company as they seem to be a very passionate, people-driven (and organic) group.

REVIEW: January Favorites

MAY LINDSTROM SKIN >> THE YOUTH DEW >> Yet another gift from that package and she seriously spoiled me with this one. I’ll be real honest, I have been eyeing up this product, but just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money. You guys, this stuff is liquid gold. The smell is intoxicating, soaks right in without a greasy feeling and leaves my face feeling moisturized. A little goes a long way and from what I’ve read, this bottle should last me quite a while. I have to say, I don’t think I can go back to anything else after using this…it’s pure magic and seeing as I am getting older (soon to be 37!), if I can prevent or decrease some of the aging in my face, it’s a huge bonus. 

REVIEW: January Favorites

GT’s KOMBUCHA with TURMERIC, CARROT & GINGER >> I will admit that I was first drawn to the label and then the flavor. I LOVE turmeric and I LOVE kombucha so obviously this was delicious! I purchased this specific flavor at Natural Grocers.

REVIEW: January Favorites

RECIPES WE TRIED AND LOVED:

LAZY DAY VEGAN TOMATO BISQUE >> THE VEGAN 8 >> I’ve been loving our Soup Saturdays and this soup from Brandi’s blog did not disappoint. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but we didn’t have any leftovers…it was that good. Incredibly creamy, thanks to the homemade cashew butter and jam packed with flavor and veggies….my kind of meal! Willow is super picky when it comes to tomato soup and she gave it a thumbs up – just more proof that it’s amazing! So, my only recommendation would be to double the recipe!

REVIEW: January Favorites

TURMERIC CHICKPEA FRITTERS >> MINIMALIST BAKER >> We typically don’t make recipes that require pan frying since we limit our oil intake, but we made an exception for these…and boy am I glad we did! Surprisingly enough, they weren’t as greasy as I expected. Simple to make, but the process is a bit messy…but SO worth it! We made these to go with our tacos one night and they made an excellent filling. Instead of panko bread crumbs, I used Sophia’s crispy topping from her mac n cheese recipe (I’m kind of hooked on that), but I omitted the oregano and added garlic. For the vegan parm, I took some raw cashews, raw hemp seeds, unfortified nutritional yeast, a little salt and whirled them through our nut/seed grinder. These little fritters were heavenly! No photo because, (1) the lighting was awful and (2) they got devoured too fast! Willow even ate one…little victories!

EASY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES >> FEASTING ON FRUIT >> I still haven’t mustered up the courage to try oats again, but I had to make these for my family. Well, Willow asked and I can’t say no when that little voice asks to bake with me. A little side note…Willow is obsessed with Natalie’s YouTube channel. No joke, she will ask if she can watch a specific video and then 30-45 minutes later she’s moved on to several other videos of hers. She has portions of them memorized and while watching them with her, she will tell me what’s going to happen next! Haha! Anytime Natalie makes a new video, Willow and I watch it together…almost instantly, she requested that we make these cookies. So, the verdict? Thumbs up! I made these into mini cookies (my cookie scoop is small) and pressed a few extra mini chips on top. I struggled a bit to get these cookies flattened, as they are sticky, but Natalie suggested that next time I wet my fingers to help with that. I can attest that the paste that holds these cookies together is fantastic…I did indeed lick the blender. Don’t judge. For you oat loving, date fans – make these!

REVIEW: January Favorites

And Willow asked to take her own photo of these cookies…

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SUPER CREAMY VEGAN STOVETOP MAC & “CHEESE” >> KITCHEN TREATY >>  I told you that I am a sucker for those homemade vegan cheese sauces…and the photos of this specific recipe lured me in. Super creamy is right! Whoa. Seriously, go click on the link…you’ll be drooling and licking the screen. C’mon, you know you’ve done it. I made a couple minor adjustments to this recipe: used Coconut Aminos in place of soy sauce, used veggie broth to saute up the onions/garlic instead of oil and added a one tablespoon of unfortified nutritional yeast. I really liked that this recipe uses coconut milk instead of cashews…it’s nice to change it up and it’s cheaper than cashews without sacrificing the creaminess factor. Again, no photos to accompany this review since the lighting was bad…but we all loved this! Willow included!

CREAMY CARROT GINGER BISQUE with CASHEW CREAM >>  FOOD 52 >> Hubby subscribes to VegNews emails and this recipe caught his eye. Holy carrots! Haha! This recipe calls for a whopping 1 1/4 pounds of them. I absolutely LOVED how simple this soup was and the curry powder brought about a lovely flavor. Despite the beautiful color and creamy texture, Willow refused to try it. Just meant more for us!

REVIEW: January Favorites

VEGAN BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP {gluten-free, oil-free} >> VEGAN DOES IT >> When I saw Natalie’s IG post featuring this soup and then Audrey made it, I absolutely had to try it for myself! Hubby whipped this up one evening while I did some work for my Etsy shop and this was amazing! So thick, creamy and comforting. Insanely cheesy thanks to the nutritional yeast and the potatoes, but no cashews were used! I would have shared a photo on IG, but the color of our soup looked a bit different compared to Melissa’s…we ran out of orange carrots! Ha! So, we used some of our rainbow carrots (purple and white) which made for a bit of a darker color. But it didn’t compromise the taste one bit! We enjoyed it with potato wedges and later we used leftovers on top of a baked potato…I know, potatoes on top of potatoes! 😉 I know many of you are nut-free and the great thing about this recipe is that you can easily swap out the almond milk for a nut-free option. Oh, and it’s toddler approved, too!

REVIEW: January Favorites

HAZELNUT ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING >> UNCONVENTIONAL TREATS >> I absolutely LOVE all of Audrey’s recipes and this was no exception. I finally ordered some espresso powder so I could give this treat a try and holy moly! This was amazing! Decadent, chocolate-y, rich, not overly sweet and simply delicious. I highly recommend checking out her eBook or her blog because it’s filled with wonderful recipes that are all gluten-free, soy-free, vegan and always a hit!

REVIEW: January Favorites

RED VELVET SMOOTHIE >> PEANUT BUTTER & VEGAN >> My friend, Hunter (@hnoflecopter) asked if I could test a recipe for her to see if it was kid-friendly. I was so excited and honored to! The ingredient list is amazing and the final blended outcome is gorgeous. Bright, bold pink and literally tastes like cake, but in a creamy smoothie form. So, what did Willow think?! LOVED it! We’ve made it a few times since then and each time we’re just blown away by the color and taste. The recipe can be found on her blog, please click on the link above and give it a try!

REVIEW: January Favorites

BOOKS I’M READING:

MEET YOUR SOUL: A Powerful Guide to Connect with Your Most Sacred Self >> by Elisa Romeo

If you follow me on Instagram, I shared that every month I read at least one self-help/spirituality book. I truly believe we are forever a work in progress, always learning, always growing. Being open to improvement and learning how to get in touch better with your inner being is important to me. I’ve been struggling lately with some bumps in the road and feelings of doubt…which is why I sought out this book. It’s not a book you read in one sitting, but rather you should take your time and work through the journal prompts and guided meditations. It’s a journey of discovery and growth that will leave you feeling alive and empowered. I am about halfway through this book and I’m learning to be more kind to myself and to trust my inner voice. Along with this book, I recommend checking out her site: http://www.elisaromeo.com/

REVIEW: January Favorites

 

THE MOONLIT GARDEN >> by CORINA BOMANN  

I chose this as my Kindle First (free read) for the month of January and so far it has my interest. Lilly (the main character) runs an antique shop and one day a man brings in an old violin, saying it belongs to her, but the man leaves without explaining anything else. We go on a journey in search of answers in this mystery novel – it is a work of fiction. Look for my review/rating in either next month’s post or on Goodreads.

As always, I’d love to hear what your latest favorites are! Books, products, recipes, shows, etc.!

Thanks for stopping by!

YOU are Beautiful

I am 5’4″ and 120lbs. I’ve been called fat, big-boned and thick…and during my unhealthy, sick years, I was called all the opposite – a walking skeleton, a rail, skin and bones. Why am I telling you this? All of those words did damage to my body image. Our society’s concept, or definition of what’s considered “beautiful” is sad. Women are starving themselves for a thigh gap or flat abs; they’re covering up their curves and hiding behind makeup. I’m also sharing this with you to be honest with myself, to embrace the body I was given and to work on self-love.

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While I personally do not use or support Dove products, I can get behind the message they’re trying to send. According to their research, only 4% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful and the saddest part, only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as ‘beautiful’.  As a woman who struggles with self-esteem and positive body image, I am working hard to be a better person for my daughter. From the moment Willow was born, I vowed never to use the words “fat” or “skinny” and to be more confident with who I am and what I look like. To focus more on health, happiness and well-being and less on the numbers on the scale or the size of my jeans.

The other night I stumbled upon Dove’s Legacy video and it really hit home. I’m sure Willow has seen me make awful glares in the mirror or even heard me say something negative about my body under my breath…that all stops now. I’m sharing this with you because I think it’s so important that we raise girls to be more confident, to look in the mirror and smile – be proud of who they are. Words can be so damaging. So, mamas, please be positive; be a role model for your sweet girls. Love your body and treat it right – teach your girls to do the same. Most importantly, teach them that beauty is more than just a pretty face.

“The way a girl feels about her beauty starts with how you feel about yours.”

So, from this day forward, NO MORE negative self-talk or thoughts. YOU are beautiful. In fact, I say we all need to make a list of what we like about our bodies, not what we hate. Write it down and be proud. We influence our children, even when we don’t think we are.

You can read more about Dove’s social mission HERE

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Thanks for stopping by!