Monthly Archives: December 2015

My 2015 Favorites

With 2015 drawing to a close, I love looking back at the year and thinking about all of my favorite travels and adventures, as well as my most memorable recipes and workouts of the year. I thought it’d be fun today to take a look back and highlight those memories. Let’s get to it!

My Favorite Adventures & Travel…

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Lundberg-Farms-sushi-rice-field

August in Northeast '15 Collage

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Big-Bear

My Favorite Recipes….

Thin Mint Smoothie-5

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Easy Orzo Vegetable Soup

Soup, oh how I love you so. 

All throughout autumn and winter, I’m a soup eating machine. Some nights I know exactly what I’m making; other nights I just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and see how it turns out. It usually turns out well, and that my friends, is the beauty of soup. It’s warm, comforting, filling, and can be super easy to make. Easy Vegetable Orzo Soup

Today’s soup recipe was deemed winner with a capital W by my hubby, who claimed that I “outdid myself” with this recipe – proving that sometimes simple is best. And the best part? From start to finish, it’s ready in 30 minutes flat.

While I’m enjoying time with my loved ones on the East coast for the holidays, I thought it’d be a perfect, cozy recipe to share with you guys. In fact, my parents hosted Christmas Eve this year, and I made this soup as an appetizer. When making a bunch of dishes for a group of people, soup that requires minimal ingredients, chopping and work is the way to go!

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5 Healthy On-the-Go Snack Ideas + Big Slice Apples Giveaway!

Hi friends!

Today I’m traveling cross-country to be with my family in New Jersey for the holidays. I’m looking forward to lots of time with loved ones and fun!

Speaking of being on-the-go, today I wanted to share my top picks for on-the-go snacks as of late. Since I’m big on eating small meals frequently, it seems like I’m always eating in the car. An ongoing joke that I have with my hubby is that I’m constantly trying to get food stains off the seat of my car. Nearly every week there’s a new protein bar stain or smudge of some sort. I guess I’m a messy car eater!

Healthy Snacks Collage

The basic requirements for snacks to be in the running to become a favorite of mine are simple. They’ve got to be 1.) healthy – must pack a nutritious punch, and 2.) tasty – I won’t eat it if it doesn’t please my palette people! I also love when I can get a serving of fruit/veggies in with a snack too. Here are some of my current favorite snacks:

Rise bar

Rise Bars. A few months ago the folks at Rise Bar reached out and offered to send me some of their bars to try… and I’ve been enjoying them ever since! My favorite flavor is almond honey, which packs in 20 grams of protein and contains only 3 simple ingredients: almonds, honey, and high-quality Whey Protein Isolate. I love super short ingredient lists! I also really like their carob chip bar flavor.

Note: I just noticed that the Rise Bar website is offering free shipping on any order through 12/25 by using the code HOLIDAYSHIP.

walnut hemp energy balls-HA

Energy Balls. Date bites are great for grabbing on-the-go. It’s simple to whip up a batch, and then I have it around for a week or two to nab when I need a little something. Recent favorites include the pictured oatmeal walnut hemp energy balls and mint chocolate chip date balls.

TJ dried apple slices

Dried Apple Slices. These are in my carry-on bag right now so that I can munch on some apple slices on the plane today! I like how a bag is 1 serving & 130 calories, so I can munch away and get my Vitamin C in for the day.

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The Work-Off-Those-Holiday-Treats Cardio Workout

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and to be faced with many options of sweets and treats to enjoy! I’m all for indulging in moderation, but to avoid weight gain and feeling low-energy during the holidays, I try to offset those extra drinks, desserts, and heavier food than I usually eat by making sure to fit my workouts in. In the spirit of active living throughout the holidays, today I’m sharing a workout that you can do whenever, wherever – no equipment required.

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I laughed a little when I titled today’s workout, because I don’t really like when the instructors at this barre studio I take classes at from time to time make comments about ‘working off that drink/dessert/bread you had last night.’ I workout because it makes me feel strong, healthy, and happy, and that’s what I like my focus to be on during exercise – not equaling out a glass of wine that I enjoyed a few hours earlier.

When I Move-quote

However, while it’s not healthy to obsessively focus on canceling out a particular indulgence with a workout, the fact is that exercising does give you the ability to offset some of those excess calories. I’d much rather enjoy my holiday favorites like red wine and chocolate cream puffs and make sure to squeeze in workouts, rather than deprive myself.

So without further adieu, here is a holiday workout that focuses on basic cardio moves and some core work. It can be done anywhere, and I’m bound to do this workout at my parents’, father-in-law’s or mother-in-law’s houses while I’m back in Jersey for Christmas!

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Brownies {vegan}

It’s Friday in mid-December, so it’s only right that we celebrate with a holiday-ish dessert recipe, am I right?
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I am pretty excited about this recipe my friends! I have been mildly obsessed with the combination of chocolate + mint all year long, but it’s gone into overdrive over the past month. Mint is a holiday season favorite, and let’s be honest: chocolate is a favorite every damn day.
Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

I’m also psyched about this recipe because I’ve been craving brownies for awhile now, and when I finally came up with a brownie recipe, it was a yummy success… a vegan success at that! There are no eggs or dairy in this recipe whatsoever. Although I eat dairy sometimes, I wanted to challenge myself with coming up with a vegan brownie recipe. And this is my first EVER brownie recipe posted on the blog!

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Ice Skating Along the Coast at Hotel Del Coronado

Happy Hump Day friends!

Hope that you all are having a lovely week. Christmas is in just over a week, and I can hardly contain my excitement! I’m like a little kid when it comes to the holidays.

The Christmas tree in the hotel's lobby

The Christmas tree in Hotel del Coronado’s lobby

And on the topic of the holidays, let’s back it up a few days to talk about a very holiday-ish activity that I did over the weekend: ice skating!

My hubby surprised me on Saturday with a date to Hotel del Coronado for… ice skating on the coast! I didn’t even know that this was a thing until last weekend. I thought it was super sweet of A to plan a date because 1.) He knows that I love all things related to the holidays, and 2.) I’m most definitely the planner out of the two of us. I love being the planner, but it was nice to have him plan something and totally surprised me. 🙂

Coronado bridge

The view from the Coronado Bridge

I recommend that anyone who visits the San Diego area makes a trip to the adorable, picturesque island of Coronado. It is just such a lovely place with great beaches, beautiful homes, fun restaurants and shops, a wonderful view of downtown San Diego… and the famous, massive, luxurious Hotel Del Coronado.

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Hotel del Coronado's adorable herb garden

Hotel del Coronado’s adorable herb garden

I hadn’t been to Hotel del Coronado in December before, and while I expected it to be decked out in lights and decor (it was), I love that they set up an ice skating rink next to the hotel. A and I headed there late afternoon to lace up some skates and see if we could skate around with falling on our faces.

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It was funny to look out from the rink and see palm trees and beaches. As a native East coaster from the north, we found it to be such an unusual setting for ice skating! People were ice skating in shorts, and the irony was not lost on us.

The view from the rink

The view from the rink

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While there were a ton of people wiping out around us (and we saw some hard falls!), I’m happy to say that neither A nor I fell at all. I can’t even remember the last time that I went ice skating, so I was pretty proud of myself!

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Maple Cashew Butter Stuffed Banana Muffins [vegan + gluten free]

Hey friends!

Shall we start the week off on a yummy note?

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More specifically, let’s chat about these maple cashew butter stuffed banana muffins – which are all decked out for the holidays because I simply couldn’t help myself from nabbing candy cane muffin decor. Between having a very Christmas-y weekend watching both Home Alone and Elf, plus going ice skating (more on that later this week!), along with lighting up my living room with my Christmas tree and fireplace decorations every night and playing nonstop Christmas music as of late, I’m full blown in holiday mode. I can’t get enough of it!

cashew butter muffin ingredients

But back to food. For this recipe, I played around with coconut sugar for the first time with muffins. I was pleased with the result, and will be experimenting with coconut sugar more often moving forward! The muffins are stuffed with a maple syrup & cashew butter blend that is a delicious combo of sweet + salty. I also pumped up the cashew flavor by using Almond Breeze‘s new Almondmilk Cashewmilk Blend in the batter. I love anything cashew!

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Hiking Boat Canyon at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Happy Friday!

Any fun plans for the weekend? Speaking of the weekend, today I want to back it up to last weekend and talk about my latest hiking adventure – which took me up to the Laguna Beach area. Boat Canyon-5

With my hubby working for the Marine Corps all weekend and no plans on my agenda, I declared last Saturday a hiking day! I invited my cousin Michelle to meet me for an outdoor workout together. She lives in Long Beach, and I live in Northern San Diego County, so we decided to try to meet up somewhere in between us. The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park seemed like a perfect halfway point, with it being 45-60 minutes from each of us.
Boat Canyon-1

We decided on hiking a trail called Boat Canyon – which is described as a strenuous workout by local hiking websites. I wanted to get a real workout in, and this trail did not disappoint as a heart pounding sweat session! We parked on Dartmoor Street and began at the trailhead at the end of the road.

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Boat Canyon-4

Immediately I was in awe of the beautiful views! We had the Pacific as our backdrop for most of the hike, and it was a perfect day for hiking weather-wise – in the low 70s and mostly sunny.

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I drove up to Laguna Beach along the coast, and when I got into the area, I was struck by its beauty right away. Southern California as a whole is just so gorgeous, and I feel blessed that my life has taken me to this wonderful area.

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There were a good amount of people out and about hiking and running the trail, but nothing too crazy. Neither of us brought our pups because they aren’t allowed at the park, but it worked out because the 8+ mile hike probably would have been too much for both of our dogs.

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Oatmeal Walnut Hemp Energy Balls + Nektar Naturals Honey Crystals Giveaway

Hi friends!

So I noticed the other day that I haven’t posted a new sweet recipe on here since this apple pie autumn granola over a month ago. I figured it’s time to sweeten things up around here today, sound like a good idea? walnut hemp date balls-1

On the topic of sweets, I most definitely have a sweet tooth. Given the choice between sweet or savory, I go with sweet 9 out of 10 times. But instead of indulging in dessert every night and letting my sweet tooth get out of control, I look for healthy ways to satisfy it – like with banana almond butter muffinsbanana berry sorbet or these energy balls.

One of my go-to sweeteners of choice is honey. That’s why when the opportunity to try Nektar Naturals honey crystals presented itself, I was interested in trying it out. Nektar Naturals

Nektar honey crystals is a non-GMO sweetener made with natural cane sugar and honey. I’ve been adding it to my tea a lot, and the thing I like about it more than regular honey is that it isn’t sticky, so I can use just a pinch in my tea without any fuss. I’ve also been throwing a bit of it into my pancake batters and smoothies, and the honey crystals definitely deliver a very similar taste to regular honey.

Being the conscious consumer that I am, I was happy to hear that Nektar Naturals is committed to sustainable practices. There has been a serious decline of bees recently, which puts honey, pollinated food crops, and essentially our food system as we know it in jeopardy, and Nektar Naturals says that they’re supportive of efforts to stop this decline. Yay for companies who care!

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A Holiday Gift Guide for the Yogi in Your Life

Hello friends!

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? With it still being far enough out to order your presents online, today seemed like a great time to share my gift ideas for the person in your life that loves yoga. As a yogi myself, I own and love the products I list below, and actually just purchased 3 of these as Christmas gifts for fellow yogi loved ones. Let’s get to it!

Aurorae mat-1

Aurorae Synergy Yoga Mat Towel – You may remember that earlier this year I reviewed and hosted a giveaway for the Aurorae Synergy yoga mat towel. I absolutely love this mat, and am 99.9% sure that I’ll never go back to a regular yoga mat again. It’s just so much more comfortable than a typical mat. Recently I went to a yoga event where mats were given out to use, and I was so uncomfortable the whole time practicing on the mat that I was given. Aurorae’s Synergy mat is just a fabulous yogi product!

Aurorae mat-2

The mat is currently on sale for $49.95.  


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Truth Balance Virtue shirts. I own several shirts from Truth Balance Virtue Apparel. Their clothing features adorable phrases and sayings, including, Buddha for President, Let Love In, Somewhere Between a Donut and a Juice Cleanse, and Yoga Junkie (<– pictured above!). Their tees, long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts are comfy and unique – making for great gifts that your yogi is sure to love.

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(photo via their website) 

TBV Apparel clothing ranges from $32-59. 


 

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YogaDownload.com – Earlier this year, YogaDownload.com offered me complimentary membership to try out their yoga program. Their site offers a wide variety of yoga classes on-demand, so that users can do yoga whenever and wherever they’d like with ease. I love being able to quickly choose a yoga class based on intensity, style, length and additional filters. One feature that I’ve found pretty unique is the ability to download a class that you really enjoy, so that you have access to it forever – even if you don’t have Internet access and if your membership expires. I thoroughly enjoy the site, and it makes for a great reasonably priced gift for the yoga lover in your life!

Gift options include a 3-month membership for $24, 6 months for $45, and yearly membership for $90. The site offers a neat way to gift memberships, which you can check out here. Yoga Download also offers program packages, including a Basic Beginner Yoga Program for $30. 


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