"Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation." ~ Kin Hubbard

I don't know about you, but where I live, it's been a little rainy. The grass is happy and the ducks are glad, but I know the clouds and fog and rain CAN be a little depressing. Rain can make you skip your afternoon outdoor jog. It can ruin your 'evening-out-on-the-town' plans, and even make you think twice about leaving the house altogether. But instead of thinking about the things you can't do, I want to mention my TOP TEN THINGS TO DO ON A RAINY DAY:
1.)  Put on your cozy-comfy clothes (no need to dress up on a rainy day!)
2.)  Curl up on the couch and watch a favorite movie (I prefer action/suspense)
3.)  Whip up a batch of homemade chicken soup (a warm hug on the inside)

4.)  Enjoy a hot cup of cinnamon spice tea (my kettle is boiling as we speak!)
5.)  Paint your nails (sorry guys, this one is for the ladies!)
6.)  Bake up some healthy muffins (enjoy some now, save some for later)

7.)  Snuggle with your puppy (mine's fourteen... she's sweet as can be!)
8.)  Get out that journal and jot down some memories, goals, prayers, and favorite foods!
9.)  Enjoy a good heart-to-heart with someone you love (pick up that phone and use it!)
10.) Skip that afternoon outdoor jog and don't feel guilty! (we all deserve a break once in a while)

So, there you have it--ten ways to enjoy your next rainy day! What are some suggestions YOU might add to my list?

"Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy too!" -Anonymous

Happiness is a choice. Choosing to be happy is a decision you make each day. But let's be honest-- come Monday morning it's not always 'natural' to be positive and motivated, cheerful and ready for anything. We're human... we're tired... and jumping back into 'the swing of things' can seem like a big burden and a difficult chore. For today's 'Monday's Motivation' I want to talk about choosing to have a positive perspective. 

Instead of looking at your week as a bunch of have-to's, look at it as a bunch of get-to's. Yes, Monday means back to work, back to class, back to early mornings and hectic schedules, but today I want to encourage you to see the best in every situation.

Do you have to go to the grocery store today, or do you get to purchase some tasty and nutritious ingredients? Do you have to make dinner for your family, or do you get to create something delicious and share it with the ones you love? Do you have to study for an exam at school, or do you get to use your brain and learn something new? Do you have to do the laundry tonight, or do you get to clean up those cute outfits you own so that you can wear them again?

Happiness is a choice, a determination to look on the bright side. Whether it's being thankful that you have a job or remembering how blessed you are to be able to study at your University and receive a college degree. Simply changing the way you look at things can change your whole outlook and attitude on life.

A healthy life is so much more than just eating healthy foods. A healthy life is one that nourishes your mind, body, soul and spirit. Choosing to see the glass as 'half full, instead of half empty' is choosing to live a healthy, happy life! 

How about you? Will you choose to be happy this week? How do you look on the bright side?
Happy Wednesday! Can you believe we're already halfway through the week?! It's about time I did another "What I Ate Wednesday" post featuring what I ate in a day! Honestly, I eat pretty consistently each day and I find that I usually eat about the same amount of food at various times throughout the day. My body doesn't digest certain foods (gluten, dairy and soy) so I eat a balanced diet in order to make sure that I'm getting enough nutrition. But honestly I've been eating this way for so long that it's become 'second nature' to me! 

The thought of skipping a meal NEVER crosses my mind! I'm a big believer in healthy meals! I always eat a balanced breakfast, a filling lunch, a little snack, and then a satisfying dinner. And of course, my nightly dessert treat! So here's a typical 'day in my life' when it comes to food! 
Breakfast! My all time favorite meal of the day! I love waking up to a lazy AM breakfast... and since I'm taking mostly afternoon and evening classes, I have many mornings off! SO I prepare myself a lovely little brekkie, brew up some hot coffee, and get my day off on the right foot. This morning I had a bowl of fresh watermelon and grapes (getting all that summer fruit in while I still can) and oats with nectarine chunks and a small scoop of raw almond butter. I paired my meal with some French vanilla coffee and almond milk! 
By lunchtime I was pretty hungry... I ended up having a bit more fruit salad, a sweet potato that I chopped into chunks and seasoned with chili powder, a spinach salad with lemon juice, some leftover rotisserie chicken, raw carrots (with chill powder) and PUMPKIN hummus (my favorite seasonal flavor.) 
Hello Healthy Snacks! For snacks throughout the day I enjoyed 2 juicy nectarines: Natures candy ;)
For dinner I made PHO!! For those of you who don't know, Pho is a Vietnamese soup made with broth and rice noodles. I always get mine with chicken! My friends and I love to go out for pho after church on Sundays (t's kind of becoming a tradition) SO I finally decided to try and create my own Pho! I'll be posting the recipe soon! I cannot tell a lie, mine was not as tasty as my local authentic Vietnamese restaurant, but it's easier, healthier and still yummy!
Treat time! My friends all know my secret to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is balance... and treats! Who says treats have to be unhealthy?! NOT me! I'm all about healthy desserts and sweets that taste good, but are also good for you. Tonight I enjoyed a little bowl of no-sugar-added Vegan Coconut Milk 'ice cream' + a small gluten free pumpkin apple muffin (I posted the recipe last Friday!) I threw some frozen banana slices on top, just for fun. This dessert was SO good and SO good for me! 

I eat 100% gluten, dairy and soy free. A challenge? Yes. Impossible? Not at all! I've learned to accept my food intolerances and find creativity and balance in my diet. As you can see, I eat well and I never deprive myself!

How about you? Do you eat a balanced diet?!
"A muffin is just an ugly cupcake." -Anonymous

Haha! There's nothing ugly about a muffin...beauty comes from the inside, right? There's something wonderful about biting into a deliciously delicate healthy little treat. Muffins are sweet, but not too sweet. They're filling, but not too filling. Muffins are perfect for a busy morning breakfast on the run or an afternoon treat enjoyed with a fresh cup of coffee. Muffins are the perfect "fall food" and what better ingredient to kick start the autumn season than pumpkin! Finding a tasty gluten free, vegan muffin can be a challenge, so give these babies a try! 

Today I want to share a recipe for HEALTHY Pumpkin Apple Muffins. I say HEALTHY in all caps, because these are literally the healthiest muffins you will ever eat. EVER. And they're delicious too!
These muffins are 100% grain free, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and egg free. They're made with real ingredients, sweetened with organic coconut sugar and a ripe banana. They're made with organic coconut oil and studded with apple chunks and walnut pieces! And the coolest ingredient of all? Apple flour! Yep, they actually make flour out of apples--just apples! The folks over at http://www.anti-grain.com/ sent me some of their delicious (and nutritious!) flours to sample and I've had so much fun experimenting with them! If you're not lucky enough to get your hands on some apple flour, you can always sub for coconut flour or any favorite gluten free flour.

Apple flour adds a sweetness to the mix, without adding any refined sugar! One of my best friends tried these muffins. She's what I like to affectionately call a "healthy hater" (always raging on my g.free eats and plants based snacks) but not today. She was in awe of these muffins! She experienced first hand that... "eating healthy makes you happy!"
So here's the recipe!

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbs. ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbs. water- set aside)
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup apple flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 chopped apple
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease 12 muffin baking pan
  2. In a large bowl, mash ripe banana 
  3. Mix in flax egg, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg- combine ingredients
  4. Add in apple flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, apple chunks and walnut pieces
  5. Mix well to form batter and evenly divide into muffin try (makes 12 muffins)
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done
  7. Let cool... and enjoy!
These muffins are perfect topped with spoonful of almond butter and a side of fresh fruit for breakfast. They also make a perfect little dessert with a scoop of vanilla vegan coconut milk ice cream (like I enjoyed on this past "What I Ate Wednesday" post.) 

I hope that you enjoy these healthy muffins as much as I do! Their sweet autumn taste is just what I'm craving as the weather begins to cool down! 

How about you?! Have you ever tried apple flour? Do you have a favorite recipe for fall?! 
I don't know about you, but I just love a good motivational quote. There's nothing quite like a little motivation on a Monday morning to get your week started. Here are just a few quotes that inspire me and I hope they will do the same for you! Whether you're trying to lose weight, get healthy, work towards a job promotion, excel in school, or simply make the most of every day... quotes are one of my favorite ways to "Stay Inspired!"

Lately I've been focusing on the importance of inspiration and how it helps you live your best life! A healthy life is a happy one... and inspiration lifts us up when we're down. It energizes us when we're tired and it motivates us when we're not-so-motivated. 

Here are 7 quotes I'm loving...

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." -Theodore Roosevelt 

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." -C.S Lewis

 "The secret of getting ahead is getting started." -Mark Twain 

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." -Arthur Ashe

"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, 'I'm possible'." -Audrey Hepburn 

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." -Norman Vincent Peale

What about you?! Do you have a favorite quote? How do you 'Stay Inspired?'
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." -Lamentations 3:22-23

I don't know about you guys, but I LOVE a fresh start. Every morning is a new beginning... and since it also happens to be the beginning of September, we're kind of jumping into a whole new year! September marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. We abruptly (and sometimes reluctantly...sometimes enthusiastically) transition from lazy mornings and late nights to early morning classes, brown-bag lunches, cute new back-to-school outfits and organized agendas. Our strappy sandals and flip flops get traded in for ballet flats and fall booties. Our big beach bags get swapped out for back-to-school backpacks. September is in it's own way A NEW BEGINNING! 

So, today I'd like to encourage you to make the most of this fresh start! Here are just a few things to start doing (or keep doing) in honor of 'Start Fresh September'-
1. Start with breakfast- I am a breakfast lover... honestly, I can't tell you how many times I eat breakfast for breakfast AND for dinner. I just love a good brekkie any time of day. This fall when your schedule gets busy be sure you get up in time to begin your day with a balanced breakfast.
2. Pack your lunch- Skip those expensive, calorie-laden takeout meals and bring your own lunch to work or class. Be sure to pick up some cute reusable containers and an ice pack and whip yourself up a healthy, tasty little meal!
3. Stick to a schedule- Between classes, work, friends, papers, exams and the gym, life can get pretty hectic this time of year. Reduce stress by sticking to a schedule. Be sure to plan things out, meet deadlines, and keep organized.
4. Be more active- Whether it's joining a gym or simply taking the stairs, little things really do add up. So be sure to get up and get out! I love a brisk walk and the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful time of year. Walking really is my favorite thing! A good walk does wonders for your body, mind, soul and spirit. I love to walk for the 'extra exercise', to clear my head, to reflect on life and to pray about things. So get up and go for a walk! Watch as the leaves change and enjoy this beautiful weather! 
5. Enjoy fall superfoods- Pretty soon everything will be pumpkin and apple flavored. From the classic 'Pumpkin Spice Latte' to apple crisp, there are a lot of not-so-healthy treats that come out this time of year. My advice? Skip the processed junky foods and opt for the real deal! Pick up some pumpkin hummus (it's delicious!!), blend pumpkin puree into your AM oats, or simply enjoy a fresh apple from the orchard. Enjoy the natural healthy treats that grow this time of year!
6. Buy a reusable water bottle- You guys know I'm all about healthy hydration! Grab a cute new water bottle and store it in your backpack. Or maybe it's time to replace that old, well-used one! Whatever you do, remember to stay hydrated! 
7. Schedule 'relaxation time'- With such busy schedules, it can be hard to find a little alone time... all by yourself. But if you're anything like me, you need that alone time to relax and recharge, and to be the best version of you! So plan to include a little alone time into your day. Whether it's hitting up the local coffee shop, going shopping, or reading a new magazine, plan to enjoy a little time just-for-you.

How about you?! What are your favorite ways to start the season off right?!
"An apple is an excellent thing- until you have tried a peach." -George DuMaurier 

Please don't be offended by my quote, all you apple lovers... I DO love apples, but I also LOVE peaches! They're soft, sweet, succulent, and satisfying. Peaches are truly 'natures candy' at its finest. While I'm excited for Fall and all the fun apple and pumpkin recipes popping up on Pinterest and everywhere else, I'm still holding on to those last few precious moments of summer... ripe, round peaches and all! 

Peaches are most definitely a superfood. Did you know that a large peach has only around 70 calories and is loaded with vitamins and minerals? Peaches are particularly high in Vitamin A (which promotes good eye health) and Vitamin C (which prevents colds and sickness). Their high antioxident levels prevent against damaging free radicals in the body. They're also loaded with nourishing minerals including; Potassium, Florid and Copper. 

I love eating peaches fresh... but as the season of peaches comes to a close, I really like this transitional recipe that's perfect for this 'late summer/early autumn' time of year! Cue- Peach Pie Oatmeal!

This recipe is beyond delicious! It's nourishing, filling and oh-so-scrumptious! I recently made this recipe for my parents while on vacation at our summer cabin! We enjoyed a cooler-than-usual lazy morning by the campfire with a big bowl of peach pie oatmeal and a warm cup of tea. My mom thought it tasted just like homemade peach cobbler... Just perfect! Here's my simple Gluten, Dairy and Soy free recipe:
  • 1/2 cup dry quick cook oats
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • 1 peach
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbls. raw almond butter

  • Boil water 
  • Chop peach 
  • Add oats + 1/2 peach chunks to boiling water
  • Reduce heat and let simmer for 5-8 minutes
  • Stir in cinnamon
  • Remove from heat and pour oats into your favorite bowl
  • Add other 1/2 peach chunks and 1 tbls. raw almond butter to the oats
  • (Optional additions- almond milk, raw honey and more cinnamon!) 
  • Enjoy! 

* I use Organic Raw Almond butter from Essential Living! It's amazing! SO delicious and the only ingredients are almonds, almond oil and sea salt! Such a win. Here is a link to their website if you'd like to check it out yourself- http://www.essentiallivingfoods.com/

Peach season is coming to a close... so end your summer on a sweet note and grab some peaches!

"Put 'Eat Chocolate' at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done." -Anonymous

Who doesn't LOVE chocolate?? Chocolate makes everything better! Am I right? I eat chocolate shamelessly every day and I'm not afraid to admit it. I just read an article in a health magazine that claimed chocolate eaters tend to be slimmer than their chocolate-avoiding friends. It makes sense. Chocolate is rich and satisfying and as long as you don't get the kinds loaded with milk and sugar, it's basically a plants-based fat. Plus, with all my food intolerances (gluten, dairy and soy) organic dark chocolate is something I know I can eat and enjoy. 

But quality dark chocolate bars are pricey, and if you love them as much as I do, the costs add up quickly. So, lately I've been trying to resist those amazing gourmet treats from Whole Foods and satisfy my sweet tooth instead with homemade desserts. These are cheaper and more fun! Here's a quick recipe for Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Healthy, Low Calorie single serving cake! ...and yes, it tastes amazing! Even my picky (not-so-health conscious) parents love it!

Ingredients (for the cake):
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbls. coconut flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp. unrefined coconut sugar
  •  4 Tbls. Vanilla almond milk 

Ingredients (for the toppings):
  • Prepared PB2 (or nut butter of choice)
  • Vegan chocolate chunks

  1. Mix all ingredients together in one bowl 
  2. Pour into a (lightly greased) microwave safe bowl/ mug 
  3. Microwave for 1-1/2 minutes or until firm
  4. Add a bit of prepared PB2 (or any nut butter of choice) to the top and/ or sprinkle with 1-2 tbls. chocolate chunks
  5. Enjoy!

I hope that you enjoy this simple cake as much as I do (it tastes great with a big cup of almond milk)... Plus it's the perfect portion for 1 person- healthy and satisfying! My advice? Eat well all day and treat yourself to a healthy dessert at night! Balanced and delicious! 

Do you make your own treats? What have you been enjoying lately?!
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  -Hippocrates

When it comes to my diet, I choose to eat as 'close to nature' as possible! From the nourishing bowl of oats for breakfast, to my mid-afternoon snack of crunchy carrots... from the protein-packed fried eggs for lunch to the sweet red grapes for dessert... I just adore whole, healthy foods. They nourish my body and give me the energy I need to tackle the day. That being said, it only makes sense that I'd choose the highest quality drinks, as well. But finding that perfect drink can be challenging with all the supposedly "healthy" ones out there these days. I am so excited to introduce you to one of my newest, most favorite healthy products on the market! 

It seems like everywhere you look, coconut water is popping up as the new superfood! ...and rightfully so! Coconut is naturally delicious, sweet, refreshing and hydrating. But not all coconut water is created equal. Recent studies are finding that coconut water harvested from green coconuts doesn't quite live up to the hype it's been getting. The problem is that the naturally occurring nutrients in young green coconuts are found in the meat. The water that's left is mostly just sugar at this point. So what's a nutrition-loving girl to do?! Cue King Coconut Water.

King Coconut Water is totally different than most other forms of coconut water. That's because they use orange coconuts instead of green coconuts. (That's totally different than all the other processed/ packaged coconut water companies out there.) The difference is that orange coconuts are higher in electrolytes and completely sterile. Orange coconuts are primarily used for drinking and not processed for their meat or oil. They never actually hit the ground as each one is handpicked. They  only grow in Sri Lanka and King Coconut works with the local farmers to create a better life for these hard workers and their families. (You guys know I love give-back companies!)

King Coconut is not only ethically responsible, they're also enviromentally friendly. The remaining coconuts shells are ground up to make a mulch that nourishes the soil. The water is bottled within 24 hours of coming off the tree and it is sealed in a glass bottle (which is reusable... and so cute!) Each sealed bottle lasts 270 days.

This coconut water helps with muscle cramps and promotes healthy digestion. The only ingredients are: coconut water, <1% organic cane sugar (to balance the sweetness) and vitamin C- which naturally creates a longer shelf life. NO weird preservatives, pasteurizing, or odd additives here! It tastes great straight-up, but I really enjoy the way it improves the flavor and nutrition of a smoothie, changing it from good to great! It's the secret to all my favorite smoothie recipes.

Can you tell that I am pretty impressed with this wonderful water? I've actually decided to partner with this company. If you'd like to purchase some of this quality product, simply go to http://kingcocos.com/ (or check out the button on the sidebar of my blog!)

This coconut water is a bit pricier than some, but you get what you pay for... and quality is of utmost importance in maintaining a healthy, balanced life! 

Sweet Elisha, V.P. over at King Cocos, has agreed to give a 10% off discount when you use the promo code HELLO10. 

So what are you waiting for?! Nourish your body with some of the best nutrition you've ever sipped!
"Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine." ~Slovakian Proverb

I LOVE water! Water is hydrating, nourishing, and life-giving. Water quenches my thirst and gives me energy to tackle the day! Drinking more water is something we’re often told to do… but how many of us are actually drinking enough? According to the Mayo Clinic, women should consume 9 cups a day, and men, even more. I don't go anywhere without my own travel cup- filled with ice cold refreshing H2O! There have been a number of reports lately telling us that we really don't need to force ourselves to drink so much water. Well, I certainly hope that no one is "forcing" it! In fact, you can get plenty of hydration in your fruits, veggies, coffee and tea, but there's something cool and wonderful about this inexpensive, natural, God-given beverage!

Here are just a few benefits of staying hydrated!

1. Weight loss- Looking to drop a few?! Switch your usual soda or juice to water and you’ll nix calories in no time!

2. Energy- Increased water consumption is actually closely related to increased energy. Many of us are dehydrated and don’t even know it! So grab you Camelback and drink up!

3. Better exercise- Water hydrates your cells, giving you energy and sustainability when it comes to that tough workout.

4. Better skin- Are you looking to clear up your skin?! Try water! It’s so hydrating and detoxifying! That often results in clear skin, naturally!

5. Brain function- studies have shown that any level of dehydration can limit your brain function. To keep your brain performing at its best… stay hydrated!

6. Healthy digestion- what better way to keep everything moving than staying hydrated?! Need I say more?

So what are you waiting for?! Take a dive into a cool, refreshing glass of H2O! Drink up!