The fact that it is snowing today on Halloween (jeepers) got me thinking of the holidays that are going to be here in a blink. I am determined to have a zen holiday season & winter ahead. And zen - to me - does not mean that this season will lack the festive vibe that we all love so much.
Zen is the sprinkles on top of overall wellness. Whenever you are truly loving yourself & making wellness a lifestyle, a feeling of 'zen' starts to come through your pores. It just takes over.
The Urban Dictionary defines zen as "One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind.
Zen is a 'way of being' just as wellness is a 'way of living'. Combine the both and well, you will have a blast because both bring so much JOY to life!
Now that we understand 'zen', I wanted to share 5 things that I am personally doing to create a zen holiday season and winter ahead. I hope that my ideas create a mental stirring of your own to get you thinking of how to really bring some zen-joy-wellness into your holiday season & chilly months ahead!
5 Tips to Create a Zen Holiday Season & Winter ahead:
Combining these 5 approaches to the holidays - for me - guarantees a lot more zen than any previous holiday & winter season. I never thought to 'prepare' for a winter season but due to last winter being so brutal and the stress I have felt during some holidays (being so hectic), my mind turned to wellness this year. What are some ideas that you incorporate wellness & an overall feeling of zen into your holiday season and winter?
And Happy Halloween everyone!
I find that regardless of the variation of plant based foods I eat, I always eat the following ten foods every single week. Yes, I will eat a lot more then this obviously but when I grocery shop, these ten foods always make into my cart!
And for those of you asking about my diet (aka food lifestyle) I am adopting, it is a combination of Deliciously Ella's diet 'philosophy' & the Engine2 Diet. And I am loving the new perspective & approach to nourishing myself with juicy & delish foods! My mindset has shifted drastically with this approach to food!
So there you have it! I also love & purchase a host of other delicious fruits (blueberries & pears are my favorite), veggies (I eat them all), grains (I make batches of quinoa), nuts & seeds! I also love juicing! What are your 'ten' food staples that always find their way into your weekly diet? Please share!
I was so excited for Chicago Green Festival which took place this past weekend! I was like a kid on Christmas morning - truly. Chicago Green Festival is the largest sustainability convention (it's not a festival - it's DEF. a convention - gigantic) in the entire country!!!! It is hosted at Navy Pier and it literally takes days to get to all the vendors. The education we are preview too about plant based health (so grateful) - the samples - the genuine masterminds behind the most creative & delicious products - oh my!! I was only able to go for about two hours of ONE DAY which was incredibly unfortunate but more about that in another post. I am still deeply frustrated I missed out on so much of it but, focusing on gratitude.
Let me not delay any further and get to sharing with you my favorite 'dessert' at the festival. Yes, my 'Numero Uno' favorite product of all the products I could race to within two hours.
So I am strolling down one of the aisles of the festival and I spot the Coco-Roons booth from a distance. I literally say out loud 'Oh my goshhhhhh, Coco-roonnnnsssss' - in this heightened voice that you use when you open a present you absolutely love. And yes, heads turned. I was SO excited - annoyingly excited! ha! I picked up the pace and walked up to Tammy Warren who was showcasing & hosting the Coco-Roons booth. The name of the company by the way is Wonderfully Raw but I just always say Coco-Roons. I just launched into 'I love Coco-roons so much & Sequoia- the creator - is just so kind on Facebook - I remember when she was first getting started - now they are carried in Whole Foods - on and on'. Thankfully, Tammy found me entertaining I imagine because she was smiling big and even teared up a bit. She knows how much integrity is behind these scrumptious bites and I think she genuinely appreciated my childlike enthusiasm. Tammy Warren is a Natural Products Broker & couldn't be more lovely & kind. So, we chatted away while I sampled not one, not two....OK..four of the Coco-Roons before settling on my favorite, Cacao Nibs. So so so tasty - rich - yummy - delicious - chocolate-y - gooooodddd!!!!! I took a bag home that would have been gone in two days (I have no excuse). I actually gave my bag to a girl who was so excited about them on my Instagram post that I just had to share w/ her. She lived in Chicago so, now she is devouring them I am sure! I will be buying my own this week!
I know this post is already long & you all need to get to your day but just let me tell you what these decadent Coco-Roons are made of - simple & sustainable pure organic ingredients (and only the best sources). This just makes me so happy to know that these delicious treats are actually healthy for my body. The Cacao Nib flavored Coco-Roons are made of: dried unsweetened coconut*, almond flour*, cacao nibs*, unfiltered maple syrup*, cold-pressed coconut oil*, vanilla extract*, himalayan crystal salt.
Please go to the Wonderfully Raw website to learn more about the team behind Coco-Roons and to learn about their other new products!!!
And mom, if you are reading this......I want Coco-Roons for Christmas!!! Please! Any flavor will make me giddy!
Are you familiar with Ella Woodward & her incredibly popular blog, Deliciously Ella? If not, you are about to be!!!! I first heard about Ella in an article by MindBodyGreen here. And within the first couple of paragraphs, I read that Ella had a chronic health condition called POTS Syndrome. I was floored (b/c I too have POTS Syndrome). And when I read that Ella's plant based diet put her POTS basically into remission, I was hooked!!!! And yes, I am following her diet now!!! Yes, food heals!!!
I am so very passionate about Ella's new cookbook, Deliciously Ella: 100+ Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Recipes! And the book description by Amazon is best:
From the founder of the wildly popular food blog Deliciously Ella, 120 plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free recipes with gorgeous, full-color photographs that capture the amazing things we can do with natural ingredients.
In 2011, nineteen-year-old Ella Woodward was diagnosed with a rare illness that left her bed-ridden, in chronic pain, and plagued by heart palpitations and headaches. When conventional medicine failed her, Ella decided to change her diet. She gave up meat, gluten, dairy, sugar, and anything processed—and the effects were immediate: her symptoms disappeared, her energy returned, and she was able to go off all her medication. A self-confessed sweet tooth, Ella taught herself how to make delicious, plant-based meals that delight the palette and improve overall well-being.
Deliciously Ella is an essential, how-to guide to clean, plant-based eating, taking you through the best ingredients and methods for preparing easy, exciting meals. This is not a diet—it’s about creating a new mindset that embraces fantastic food. From sweet potato brownies to silky chocolate mousse and roasted butternut squash risotto and homemade fries and ketchup, Ella shares 100 brand-new recipes and twenty classics in her signature, elegant style. Packed with vivid photos and simple, foolproof instructions, Deliciously Ella provides a foundation for a pure, unprocessed, unrefined diet, so you can look and feel better while enjoying great food.
If you are looking for something healthy, festive & fun to do this weekend in Chicago, head over the Navy Pier for the Chicago Green Festival! You will learn so much about truly living a healthy lifestyle and in turn, be able to educate your family how to live a more eco-friendly & sustainable lifestyle! Plan to sample delicious products that are actually GOOD for your body, eco-fashion & learn about health!
" Shop in our unique marketplace of more than 250 eco-friendly businesses - everything from all-natural body care products and organic clothing to Fair Trade gifts, beautiful home renovations made from renewable resources, plus vegan and vegetarian offerings based on organic, non-GMO or local, artisanal foods".
This weekend venue is a MUST!!! The Chicago Green Festival is the longest & largest running sustainability event in the country!!!!!
And bring a very large tote with you to carry all the amazing samples home with you!
If you are not educated about what you are eating as of yet, it is time you absolutely must get informed. Your health and well being depend on it as does your children's. I am going to simply so much for you here at Snapshots of Wellness.
Wellness is meant to feel liberating and being thrown tons of information on health & wellness all at once can often leave someone feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Today, let's chat about a simple fruit that has benefits for your body that I bet you were completely unaware of! Apples! After reading this, go crunch on some apples! The benefits are plenty that kind of blow this girls mind!
"Apples are one of the best sources of the antioxidant quercetin (Antioxidant-rich foods strengthen your ability to fight infection & disease). The fruit may improve immunity and keep you healthy even when you are feeling physically worn down. A group of cyclists took either quercetin supplements or placebo during an intense workout period, as part of a study conducted by researchers at Appalachian State University. Those on the quercetin had a significantly lower chance of developing an upper respiratory tract infection (in the nose, sinuses and throat - such as in the common cold) in the weeks that followed than subjects who took the placebo pill. There's a lot we don't know about supplements, though so stick w/ foods rich in quercetin like apples, citrus fruits, onions, parsley and even red wine".
- Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN
And if you have time today, read PCRM's article about apples - fascinating!
Yes! Yes! Yes!
This is what I was yippin' about in my condo when I smelled my armpits after using Soapwalla's Deodorant Cream! I seriously smelled amazing (and this was after a very long day of sweating)! I want to buy all my loved ones this for Christmas! I am genuinely and very literally blown away by how well it works!
Let me add quickly that I first learned of Soapwalla Deodorant Cream when I was watching this Deodorant Smackdown by Kris Carr (0:
I have been on the hunt for a pure-organic-natural-vegan deodorant for about a year and I actually gave up. I had tried at least NINE 'natural' deodorants and NONE of them delivered on aiding my body to smell clean and well, good. Nothing is worst then being stinky when you are out and about. And nothing is worse than having to reapply deodorant over and over throughout the day and being self conscious.
I am impressed by how effective Soapwalla's Deodorant Cream actually is. I am. I am so excited....can ya tell? And I believe this could be unisex. Is that the case Soapwalla? If you are reading, send me a tweet at @snapshotsofw to let me know. I would use this for my entire family - kids, hubster and all! For now, I get the entire jar to myself b/c I have no kids and no hubster (smile). The smell is so fresh and the texture is a bit naturally grainy to the touch. It goes on so so smoothly and absorbs really quickly. There is no sticky residue at all. It will be the only deodorant I ever use again - how is that for a testimonial!
So, let's chat about Soapwalla & the ingredients of this one of a kind Deodorant Cream.
Soapwalla was originated by Rachel Winard after a diagnosis of systemic lupus. I find her story so interesting & relatable. After reading about her and researching everything I could get my hands on about the Soapwalla products, I am very eager to try more of her skincare creations!
Back to Rachel....in 2002, she started mixing ingredients for skincare out of her Brooklyn apartment. She needed to find pure skincare products because the chronic condition she was diagnosed with affects her skin. This chic is amazing, studied at Julliard, received her law degree from Columbia law school and here she is in her kitchen, formulating the most insanely fabulous pure products because she couldn't find any on the market that were pure enough it seems. Years of research led her to India to study botanicals, whole body nutrition and aromatherapy. In other words, she is a complete dynamo and I love her already. You can read more about how her skincare line came to fruition here.
With Soapwalla, you are getting the absolute most pure ingredients available to us and that is such a source of comfort. It makes me feel so good & responsible to love my body in the most healthy way when I found out the ingredients to her Deodorant Cream:
'Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream is all natural and uniquely powerful, utilizing superfine vegetable powders and clays, as well as lavender, peppermint and tea tree essential oils to absorb moisture, inhibit bacteria, and ensure a long-lasting and highly effective experience. The frosting-like consistency allows for easy manual application and rapid absorption, and is ideal for all skin types.
Soapwalla's Deodorant Cream is vegan and is made with the highest quality organic and food-grade ingredients. Our Deodorant Cream does not contain questionable additives such as sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens or harsh and harmful chemicals, petroleum, or aluminum compounds that are frequently found in commercial antiperspirants, and is NEVER tested on animals.
Soapwalla does not use aluminum zirconium in our Deodorant Cream; aluminum zirconium cause skin cells to swell and in turn pinch your sweat glands closed in order to keep them from releasing perspiration. Please therefore note that our Deodorant Cream is not an antiperspirant'.
I think BirchBox said it perfectly: “Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream works better than any other natural brand I’ve tried. It’s vegan and aluminum-free, smells lightly minty, and disappears into skin immediately…” – BIRCHBOX
I am very eager to try her Restorative Face Serum which sounds so hydrating and delicious for my skin!
Rachel, you are so inspiring to me personally. The fact that you took a situation (lupus), got creative and decided to provide healing and health to all of our skin is beyond generous of you!
And P.S. I love the packaging and your entire site. I cannot wait to try more and more of your products!
Folks you can learn about Soapwalla on the site itself, twitter, facebook & pinterest. Andddd please check out her Press Page (let's just say that Soapwalla is quite popular).
After a health crisis, I had gained about 42 pounds. And as I got well, I struggled to lose the weight. I have found a path to weight loss that is so easy and makes so much sense. This path required no directive from any person, book, doctor, etc. It was just a path of finally truly loving myself and the Lord... like never before. And as a result, the weight started to come off naturally and with complete ease.
I realized that my body is a temple of Jesus Christ & the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19) and in really understanding this, my entire soul transformed. I read in the Bible repeatedly that He resides in me but I didn't own this truth. It's a bit of a hard concept to grasp....at least it was for this girl. And now I do.
I gave my life to Christ on December 13th, 2009. And there is so much that God continues to teach me every single day. What I have learned overall is that His Will isn't for me to fulfill some specific goal while I am here on this earth rather, it is to be more and more like Him.
My father passed away this past August. It was that same week that I experienced a loss of a significant relationship in my life. And I had a bit of relapse via my health condition. So, tremendous & rather traumatic loss all at once. The process of healing through all of this at once has been admittedly overwhelming and yet, cathartic. I cannot verbalize the grief. And I cannot really verbalize appropriately how Christ is transforming me. It feels a bit like a miracle....a real true miracle that has been in the works by Him for quite some time.
There is always beauty in loss when we seek Him. There is beauty in the breakdown of fear - pain - sadness- only when we seek Him. And what was so bewildering to me, was that God started to really speak into my heart about the meaning of the Holy Spirit actually residing within me. And I desired to immediately honor him in brand new ways - by honoring myself - my body - what I speak about - who I speak to - how I spend my time - setting His boundaries with others - realizing that boundaries are love and can be set in loving ways - how I discern His truth - how I live my life - how I forgive - and how I repent my own sin- etc.
I started eating immediately healthier every single day (Saturdays are my splurge day) b/c I wanted to love and nourish my body with nutritious foods. Green juices daily, fruits, tons of organic veggies, hearty stews, less sugar, more unprocessed foods, etc. I realized that feeding my body processed foods is not loving myself at all.
I started to speak lovingly and kindly to myself about the process of healing through loss. I started to see the beauty in this intimate relationship I have with the Creator of the Universe - who shepherds me and wants the absolute best for me. Life started to change.
I began speaking on the phone a lot less and spending that time in prayer or in bettering my health. I cut down on Facebook from hours a day to about 15-20 minutes a day only a couple days per week (vs. every single day). I read voraciously through The Bible. I started to think and pray before I speak (I typically have foot in mouth syndrome). I am transforming.
As a result of loving myself more then ever and honoring God at the same time, weight started coming off with no effort. After years of struggle, weight continues to just come off! My skin is in the best shape it's ever been in. I began to feel more calm in my spirit. I stopped listening to gossip. I stopped entertaining anything negative from others and myself. Yes, I am in the thick of grief but I feel better about 'me' then I ever have in my life.
The changes in my life are coming through my obeying Him. Yes, I still make mistakes - I still eat poorly (on Saturdays) and well, it's not really about perfecting myself anymore and that's part of the transformation. It's about loving myself even MORE because He loves me, I love Him and my body is not my own.
It's not a formula that anyone can necessarily follow by my example. It's your own call from God....more than a nudge or a perspective shift but a call that you won't be able to ignore. It's about a true adoring relationship with Christ. It's a love of contentment like never before.
I feel like a different version of myself after enduring so much loss. I feel I am the best version of myself. And I am so grateful to God for it because He is the one who revived me.
It's definitely flu season and loading up on flu fighting foods that boost your immune system is a smart idea! Comb through the slideshow above for some ideas!
Go here for more healthy flu fighting tips!
Outside of really going off the rails via my eating habits on Saturdays (my splurge day), my eating habits are starting to change drastically!!! It's all quite exciting for me actually and the change came after several years of being vegan on and off - eating healthy only 'sometimes' - healing from a health condition called POTS Syndrome - and understanding 'food as fuel'.
I am starting to understand the connection between honoring my body and God (who resides in me), by nourishing myself daily w/ healthy organic greens - fruits - nuts -seeds. I will have to do a blog on loving your body b/c I am loving mine (and I want to hear more women saying that)! I am also starting to gain a full 'clinical understanding' of food's connection to illness/health and that's another post as well. I feel so grateful to be exposed to so much clinical data linking foods to ill health, thousands upon thousands of studies (literally) and educated people who are healing from every disease under the sun....with diet alone. Scroll down to see my post on who is influencing me via my eating habits.
Today? Let's just talk chocolate!!!!!
I get massive chocolate cravings! I love sweets! I don't want toxic processed sugary sweets anywhere near my body though. So, what's a girl to do?
My friend Renee mentioned this youtube.com channell, Holistic Habits and I am falling in love with her recipes! The recipe today is for 'Raw Chocolate Fudge'! I made it last night and let me tell you - mmmmmmmm.....you won't have words, just a slight moan of 'yummm'.
It's healthy, guilt free, of course kind (aka no animal was harmed) and actually good for yoU and your family! It will satisfy your sweet tooth all week long! And it's a fun dessert to make with the kids if you have them!
So, watch the video but here are the ingredients below:
6 Medjool Dates (*get the moist fresh ones)
Spoonful of Organic Peanut Butter (she & I prefer crunchy)
Raw Cacoa - sprinkle it in - I used a spoonful
Sprinkle or Sea Salt
Starting with the dates, you mash with a fork and then keep folding in each new ingredient.
Yes, that's it! You then have amazing fudge that you can cut into squares or roll into balls!.
Next? You eat my friend......most likely all of them!
The Sticky Truth About Sugars, Sweets and Your Health
Hi Sweet Friends, It’s time we talked sugar. White powdered gold. Legal crack. Sugar is one of the most readily available and addictive foods out there—and you don’t have to be a Pixy Stix guzzler to overdo it. I was pretty floored when I began to really understand the abundance of sugars in food—did you know it’s in everything from pancakes to potatoes?
The average American eats an estimated 130 pounds of sugar per year. You might think “I don’t eat that much sugar,” but this stuff is sneaky. It doesn’t just hang out in the junk food aisle, it’s also in healthy foods (don’t worry, I’m not saying that a sweet potato has as much sugar as a Snickers bar!). Hidden sugar piles up fast, so you may need to budget less sugar in your diet—especially if you’re dealing with a health challenge.
I know how overwhelming this sweet beast can be, but we’re about to change that. The connection between sugar and health finally clicked for me while researching and writing Crazy Sexy Diet. That’s why I looked back at my trusty guide to diet and lifestyle for this blog. So grab your pencils, friends. Let’s go to sugar school!
What are sugars? To understand sugars, you’ve gotta start with the basics. You’re probably familiar with carbohydrates and glucose, but do you really know what these guys are all about? Let’s learn more about these fellas and then we’ll explore our day-to-day food choices.
Carbohydrates There’s a lot of gabbing in the news about good carbs versus bad carbs—but what are they, exactly? First and foremost, carbohydrates are the starchy or sugary part of foods. When we think about sugar, naturally we imagine all things yummy and sweet. But in actuality, all carbs (including those that don’t taste sweet, like pasta, bread and potatoes) break down into glucose—the sugar your body uses for fuel. (More on glucose in a sec!) From your body’s point of view, there’s not much difference between a spoonful of sugar and a slice of white bread.
Carbohydrates come in two varieties, complex (“good” or “unrefined”) and simple (“bad” or “refined”). Complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, and veggies are good for two reasons: First, they take longer to digest, therefore your blood sugar doesn’t spike. This means your energy levels stay on a more even keel—no sugar highs and no crashes. No frantic search for guns, no scraping your torn self (in fishnets) off the concrete. Second, complex carbs come with a lot of other good stuff, like vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, and fiber. They fill you up and leave you satisfied.
With the exception of fresh fruit, simple carbs are all the junky foods you already know are bad for you: white sugar, white flour, white bread, some whole wheat breads, cookies, sugary snack foods, candy, cake, muffins, crackers, chips, white pretzels, energy drinks, sodas and sweetened soft drinks, concentrated fruit juices, and all the other empty calorie fillers that today make up at least a third of the Standard American Diet.
Glucose When glucose enters your bloodstream, your pancreas releases insulin, the master hormone of metabolism. Insulin has lots of jobs, but most importantly it regulates glucose levels by shuttling it to cells to use as fuel. But if a cell has all the fuel it needs for the moment, insulin carries off the extra glucose to be stored as fat. So far, so good—because everyone needs a little cushion for the pushin’. However, a diet high in simple sugar and refined carbs dumps a ton of glucose into your blood very quickly. As a result, your pancreas is forced to barf out additional insulin, which isn’t good for you or your pancreas.
This is one vicious cycle. Over time you may develop insulin resistance, which makes your body less effective at regulating blood sugar. Insulin resistance also affects your ability to use stored fat as energy. In other words, you can’t lose weight as easily when there’s a bunch of insulin coursing through your body. But it’s not just about weight. Too much glucose and insulin are major culprits in many diseases (for more on the relationship between sugar and cancer, read this).
What foods have the least/most sugar? I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you don’t have time to memorize how much sugar is in every piece of food that crosses your plate. Luckily, you don’t have to…
Glycemic Index How can you learn to make better choices when eating carbs and sugar? Enter the dazzling glycemic index (GI), a measure of how quickly and how high a particular carbohydrate raises your blood sugar level. GI is a numerical ranking system that compares a given food to a pure sugar, such as white sugar. Because white sugar is all carbohydrate, it’s designated 100 on a scale of 0 to 100. The GI is a measure of carbs only; fats and proteins have no effect on the score.
Foods with a high GI value are almost always refined, simple carbs. Conversely, foods with low GI values tend to be unrefined, complex carbs. The difference between high- and low-GI foods lies mostly in how much fiber they contain. Fiber slows the digestion of sugars and keeps you even and peaceful. That’s why a plant-based, low-GI diet is one of the central tenets of the Crazy Sexy lifestyle.
Familiarize yourself with the glycemic index—it’s a terrific tool. As a rule of thumb, any food that has a GI rank below 60 is a good choice, especially if you need to watch your blood sugar. In fact, people who stick to a low-GI diet are less likely to develop diabetes and other medical life lemons. Speaking of lemons, they fall solidly into the low-GI camp, as do berries, apples, pears, citrus fruits and plums.
And guess what? Not only can low GI diets prevent nasty diseases, they can also help to reverse them. Amen, glitter explosion! If you want to learn more, The GI Handbook by Barbara Ravage and The New Glucose Revolution by Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell are both great books for self-study.
How can sugars fit into a healthy diet? Sugar is a part of life, and my goal in bringing you this information isn’t to scare you, it’s to help you make the best choices possible. It’s important to think of simple sugars (cakes, brownies and ice cream, oh my!) as occasional treats. Use tools like the GI scale and plant-based cooking to help you make healthier, delicious, blood-sugar-happy choices the majority of the time.
My Sugars Ranking Chart I’ve done a little of the heavy lifting for you by creating a ranking system for sugars.
The most simple-healthy-delicious snack is freshly cut organic fruit.
Add a couple of raw almonds and you will be satisfied between meals!
Fall fashion is the best fashion of the year! Cozy, colorful, chic, cool, comfy.......loving all of it. Take a peak at my Fall Must Have's! I am leaning towards dusty pinks, deep reds and heather grey's this season!
Also, I was first turned on to the Cecilia Prado Glinted Sweater Skirt by Anthropologie when I was checking out the style by my favorite fashion blogger, The Fox & She. And while you are checking out Blair's amaze fashion choices, check out these boots she is wearing (LOVE LOVE LOVE)!!! Blair, if you are reading, I am obsessed with your style in this post!
Admittedly, I have yet to try this recipe but I am this weekend....ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! I am sooooooooooo excited!!!!!! When I saw this photo and then read FIVE INGREDIENTS - and saw chocolate - vegan - gluten free - yippppp!!!!!!!! This recipe makes me so excited!!!!!!
I found this recipe on tumblr here! Whoever you are that created this recipe, I am in love before having eaten it!
Readers, if you try before this weekend, let me know! I am going to make on Saturday! Yay!
Five Ingredient No-Bake Chocolate Vegan Tarts!
1 1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
8 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup full fat coconut milk
Pulse almonds in food processor until finely ground. Add maple syrup/agave and coconut oil, pulse just enough to mix. Spread mixture into pie pan or cupcake liners (like I used), and set aside. Place the chopped chocolate in medium sized bowl, then heat coconut milk over stove until it reaches a simmer. Pour coconut milk over chocolate and mix until combined. Then pour mixture into the almond crust. Chill for six hours or overnight.
I made mine last night before going to bed, let them chill overnight, and now I’m eating one for breakfast! Feel free to top with whatever you like, more almonds, walnuts, toasted coconut for example. Definitely a recipe everyone should try out. They’re rich, smooth, and chewy at the same time.
I found the most SIMPLE and delish recipe for Vegan Pate!!! I was reading Shape Magazine's article
'Lunch for a Month: 31 Grab-and-Go Meals Under 400 Calories'. All 31 recipes can be veganized but I chose the Vegan Pate to start with! So filling - healthy - quick! Recipe below:
1/4 cup cooked lentils pureed with 2 tablespoons walnuts and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve with 4 whole-wheat crackers and 4 large olives: 371 calories
A huge part of wellness is healthy and encouraging friendships. Getting together with friends once or twice a month is so important to my well being. If you live in Chicago, the places to meet are endless.
A couple of my favorite spots to meet my girlfriends as of late...
Milk & Honey.
I love this cozy brunch hotspot in Wicker Park. It's walking distance from my condo which is so convenient and I just love the neighborhood vibe inside. It's quaint and usually quite packed (prepare to wait in line). Milk & Honey has the best coffee and my favorite oatmeal in the city (their pancakes are pretty yum too)
Gibson's is yes, majorly old school traditionalism and you think of old men in suits when you create a vision (OK, well I do) but, once in very rare awhile, I love meeting girlfriends for a glass of wine at an old Chicago staple. I appreciate their patio view and the happy hour crowd is friendly & fun.
I don't actually know why I am gravitating towards the restaurants with the over 50+ crowd as of late..ha.. but I think it's the ambiance of this place that I love, love, love (preferably the outdoor patio). I cannot get enough of their enchanting hidden patio. Who knew?! I didn't! This is the ultimate date spot or a great tucked away gem if you want to have a conversation with a friend where you can actually hear one another (quiet, Italian, lovely). Now that I am thinking of it, this place reminds me of my dad because this is so his style.
And finally, my rooftop. I have been lying low and enjoying the simple life as of late and hosting friends on my rooftop is quite special. A bottle of wine, humorous company and a Piece pizza delivery is well, kind of perfection.
Where you do you like to meet your friends for brunch, lunch or a glass of wine? Do tell (0:
In June, 2014, I wrote an article for MindBodyGreen.com titled 'How to Live the Good Life on a ShoeString Budget'. So many people wrote to me thanking me for the ideas! Naturally, I want to share the article with all of you! Please read on...
Once upon a time, I was living a very luxurious lifestyle. I had a successful career with a big salary, which meant that I had the financial means to basically travel anywhere I felt like, and I could purchase whatever clothing I wanted — all while living a luxe life in Chicago.
After a health crisis rocked my existence, my entire lifestyle changed. In just four years, I had spent all my savings on getting well. The money went toward hospitalizations, doctors visits, supplements, and all the other expenses that my insurance didn't cover.
I had to give up my career in medical sales, and settled into a new lifestyle with a drastically reduced monthly budget. When I was first getting used to my "new normal" (i.e. living with a chronic health condition), my biggest fear was that I'd never again live the good life.
I was so wrong! And I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned that you can live a healthy and posh lifestyle on a shoestring budget. You just need to be smart with the resources you have. A little humility goes a long way, too.
Below are my top 9 tips to live well on a shoestring budget:
1. Find a financial plan that works for you and stick to it.
I've followed Dave Ramsey's financial budgeting plan for the past 15 years actually. It's a 7-Step Plan that helps you save, budget, eliminate all debt and create a financial life that equates to financial stability regardless of your salary. It's clear, simple, and the steps are followed in order, it allows you to live well on any budget.
2. Negotiate at the farmer's market.
You can eat organic produce and other healthy foods on a shoestring budget! Promise! If you're near any farmer's markets, stroll in toward the end of the day when they're packing up. Tell them you have a small budget, but it's important to you that you nourish your body with organic greens and fruits. And then ask them if they'd be willing to sell any of what's left over at a negotiated rate. It's worked for me.
3. Learn how to eat well on a budget.
Another resource I found to be helpful was Eco-Vegan Gal. In a series of short, internet videos, she explains how to eat easy, cheap and healthy vegan meals. I followed her tips and have found that I now eat better on a budget (less than $250/month) that I did when I had an unlimited budget. Other resources I like include Balanced Babe, articles that I found along the way like this one, and simply having conversations with plant-based food bloggers to brainstorm how to eat on a budget.
4. Find ways to exercise and relax in nature.
Do you live near hiking trails or a beach? Grab your loved ones and spend a day hiking or lying on the sand reading a great book. If you want to have a romantic evening with your special someone, purchase an inexpensive bottle of wine. (I love the label "The Three Wishes," which has several options under $7.) Grab a blanket and go sit at your favorite park to sip and chat. If you have a bike, you can cycle for miles to explore new neighborhoods.
5. Join meetup groups!
They often host free events where you can mingle and have a blast! You can go to MeetUp.com and browse any activity that you like! I also did a very simple google search of "Free Events in Chicago" and turned up a treasure trove of fun things like group picnics in the park, 5K runs without a sign-up fee and amazing book clubs. You can still enjoy your surroundings without spending a penny!
6. Let your friends know about your new financial limits.
If you can afford to go to restaurants, order an appetizer or split an entree with a friend who you've already informed of your budget. It's a lot cheaper than getting your own meal. When you travel, stay with friends instead of shelling out for a hotel room.
7. Shop at thrift stores or high-end clothing swaps.
You can look the part without paying for it! Shop at outlet stores or consignment shops. Another tip: wait until the end of each season, when the sales are out of this world! Learn to live with a few quality basics in your wardrobe that you can transition from day to night with a simple accessory or even makeup change.
8. Focus on accessorizing rather than buying new outfits.
You'd be amazed what a brightly-hued scarf can do for a basic t-shirt and skirt.
9. Work hard.
I have humbled myself in ways that have shocked even me. And you know what? It feels really good. If your budget is not providing the lifestyle you want, consider projects for people in your community. You can tell them that you have a small budget and would love some extra "shoe money." Offer to babysit, dog walk, organize closets, clean their home, etc. And lastly, if this is option is available to you, try to get a better-paying job. (I realize that with some health conditions, this isn't always possible. In that case, maybe you can focus on finding smaller work projects with family and friends.)
There are countless ways to live a healthy and amazing lifestyle on a small budget! Give them a try and what you might find is that your life is much more rich then when you had an abundance of money.
I stumbled upon Oh My Healthy Food on Tumblr and well, I am in love! So many scrumptious sweet & savory dishes to replicate!!! If you want plant based recipe ideas (especially snack ideas), head over and her photographs will have you salivating!
I absolutely love experimenting with plant based foods! I often find a photo (such as the one above) and if it doesn't include a recipe which this did not, I just reinvent it myself.
So, tonight I made the veggie burger to die for! Ingredients below:
One frozen veggie burger from Amy's Organics
Crunchy Organic Kale
Follow Your Heart Veganaise
Red Pepper Flakes
Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffin (toasted)
I have wanted bright red Hunters for years! I Other than my new chelsea boots (scroll down), one more must have boot for fall & winter are my Hunters! I will wear mine all fall and winter long. They are waterproof, snow proof and trust me, your feet, socks and legs will stay dry and warm at all times!
Get yourself some in a bright hue! I think they add a fun whimsy to my wardrobe!
I have been cocooned at home editing nonstop for over a week. I am eager to chat with all of you about an e-book that I am a contributing editor for Whitney Lauritsen...aka Eco-Vegan Gal but we will all have to wait until the book is published! It's been such a valuable experience albeit time consuming. I have learned so much about health and wellness by editing her book that I am almost giddy. I cannot wait to share her book w/ all of my readers. So, stay tuned.
Otherwise, I have been editing and writing for other publications including MindBodyGreen (whom I love). My fingers ache from typing but they are happy fingers.
And this leads me to some musings during all of my quiet time as of late:
You know, there are so many aspects that equate to true wellness in your life. One aspect of wellness for myself is carving out time to replenish my body and mind. I do this in all sorts of ways by asking God what 'next steps' He wants me to take. And I follow His lead.
So, as of late, I have been taking time for myself - away from the phone - away from social media (not entirely but I've cut down so much) & getting quiet so I can actually hear Him. I really appreciate silence sometimes in this hectic bustling city of Chicago. Coffee, reading, editing, napping, cooking, praying, repeat. It's only been about a week and a half of this quietness but it fully replenished my spirit.
It's been a time of so much learning, growing in my faith, diving into healing further and truly appreciating this life we are blessed with. Noticing the smallest of things that make me smile - the leaves outside, warm wind blowing, cozy sweaters, a lovely conversation with my 67 year old neighbor, etc. The simple things.
It's been a magical time really in my spiritual life. And a quiet season of life.
I am learning to really appreciate and actually like organic greens, ripe fresh fruits and an abundance of foods from nature. I am feeling better emotionally and mentally then ever before and physically, I am healing. I believe when we trust God - really truly trust Him and what He says in The Word - life is peaceful regardless of our circumstances.
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.