Wanna know a secret?! 

I wear glasses.

You'd probably never know it from my blog because in almost every picture I am not wearing them. It's not because I live in contacts, it's because whenever I take a picture, I always take my glasses off. If you look closely at my hands, you'll probably notice that I'm holding (hiding) them. I'm not really sure why I do this, but it's mostly because I think I look better without glasses... 

That being said, when Firmoo reached out and asked if I would like to receive a pair of their glasses to try for myself, I figured, why not? Of course, the glasses would be sent to me from an online store and I wouldn't be able to try on a million pairs and decide which ones looked best on my face. I couldn't drag my mum or my best friend along to help me make the right decision. I couldn't check out different angles and facial expressions or hold up any mirrors. Honestly, I didn't expect to love them... 

Well, surprise surprise! I placed my order and they very quickly arrived in the mail. Beautiful, new, clear and cute! My prescription was perfect and the quality was really good. I couldn't help but LOVE my adorable new Firmoo glasses! 

I could not believe all the great prices and the really stylish designs they carry. I encourage you to check out http://www.firmoo.com/ and pick up a pair for yourself. My mum spends a small fortune on her glasses and she is SO jealous of these new shades. Here's a link to their most recent arrivals- http://www.firmoo.com/new-arrivals.html and another link you'll wanna checkout to save 15% on your purchase (if you're a new costumer!)- 

So don't be surprised if you start to see me wearing my new glasses in more of my pictures! I love these! 

What about you? Do you secretly wear glasses?! Do you rock the 'geek chic' look?!
"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate." -Charles Dickens

I just love a healthy, delicious, satisfying smoothie to nourish my body! Make mine CHOCOLATE!

Today, a friend and I made this one to share. Although we split it between the two of us, it could serve one as well... depending on how hungry you are.  

The great thing about this shake is that it's loaded with protein and calcium and tons of other nutrients. This smoothie tastes like dessert, but the best part is, there's no refined sugar! All the sweetness comes from the bananas. This smoothie is completely healthy and COMPLETELY tasty. One sip and you'll be hooked. And the best part is that it's soooo easy to make... 

Chocolate Banana Protein Shake
1 1/2 small bananas
1 scoop Chocolate Raw Protein Powder
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Ice and water (vary amount depending on taste preference)

Blend and enjoy!

What about you? Have you ever made a dessert smoothie? Have you tried protein powder?
What do you call a sad strawberry? 
...A blueberry!  

Happy Saturday!! Are you as glad as I am that the weekend is finally here? One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Saturday is to 'sleep in' as I prepare to relax for the remainder of the day.  We all need a break, right?

I ALWAYS seem to 'crave fruit' the very moment I wake up. After a long night's rest, I always wake up thirsty and ready to rehydrate. There is something very satisfying and wonderful about juicy, fresh fruit. I usually grab a few orange slices to enjoy with my breakfast, but another one of my favorite fruits is strawberries! YUM!

Strawberries really are a summer fruit, so seeing them pop up in the grocery stores at lower prices this time of year gets me really excited! Good food at a good price?? YES! And if your local market doesn't have any on sale yet, why not buy a bag of frozen strawberries!! They're even cheaper this way and in my opinion... they're sweeter! I love to snack on these frozen treats ALL YEAR LONG. 

Strawberries have only 50 calories a cup and they're loaded with nutrition! That same cup has 150% of your daily Vitamin C needs, which is a perfect way to prevent or reduce colds and coughs.  Strawberries have 3 grams of fiber, as well, to keep you fuller longer. Strawberries are packed with phytonutrients which are believed to help prevent cancer and protect the heart. Strawberries also help the body metabolize foods. Their high nutritional value and low calorie content make them the perfect addition to any healthy diet!

My favorite ways to enjoy strawberries? Fresh-picked from our local farm or blended into a fruit smoothie! Grab some coconut water, frozen strawberries, a banana, and half an orange. BLEND to create a perfect on-the-go breakfast! And last, but not least, what could be more romantic than a big, red strawberry dipped in rich, smooth, dark chocolate?

What about YOU? Do you enjoy strawberries as much as I do? Do you LOVE them frozen?
"A party without cake is just a meeting" -Julia Child

I LOVE dessert! I love to top off a healthy meal with 'happy ending' and indulge in a sweet and wonderful treat. I actually don't go a day without sweets (if I can help it!) and I consider high-quality dark chocolate a food group in and of itself. When I decided to get healthy and lose weight, I knew that the most difficult challenge would be cutting out desserts forever! After realizing that deprivation like that was almost impossible, I decided that I was going to learn to eat dessert in moderation...daily. I've always heard people say that it's fine to treat yourself on "special occasions" but I like to think of every day as a special occasion. I discovered that as long as my portions were nutritious and relatively small, I could still eat a treat (or 2!) every.single.day without gaining a pound. In fact, I could still lose weight! The key? Indulge in the highest quality, most-satisfying treats available and only eat a little bit at a time.

So if you want to lose weight for "Make It Happen May" my tip? EAT DESSERT! ...only skip the stale cookies, processed snack-cakes and ice creams with ingredients you can't even pronounce, and say HELLO to these healthy treats. You can image how excited I was to receive all these different desserts from some of the newest and most wonderful health food companies out there. These are my favorite treats and I hope that you love them as much as I do!
TRU RA Sweet Nibs- These cute little cocoa nibs are cold pressed, certified organic, vegan and loaded with antioxidants and minerals. They are sweetened with organic coconut flower blossom nectar... that even sounds pretty, doesn't it? Perfect for sprinkling on top of coconut milk ice cream or mixing with almonds and raisins for a tasty little trail-mix, these Nibs are a must when it comes to healthy desserts. These little nibs are raw and boast many health benefits, such as: strengthening your immune system, providing energy, regulating blood sugar levels, and more! All these perks make them a truly healthy indulgence. Here is a link to the online store over at Big Tree Farms so you can pick some up yourself http://bigtreefarms.com/collections/cacao/products/nibs
Sugarfina Chocolates- How pretty are these little chocolate treats? Sugarfina just launched a beautiful new product line known as, "Hello Superfoods Bento Box!" (http://www.sugarfina.com/products/antioxidant-bento-box) Loaded with antioxidants, these chocolates are perfect for a delicious treat and they make a lovely gift for a special friend. I had the opportunity to choose my treats and I opted for Matcha Green Tea Caramels, Dark Chocolate Orange Peel, and Dark Chocolate Raspberries! YUMMY!!! I'm obsessed with chocolate covered treats! The concept of taking something wonderful and dipping it into something even more wonderful...Perfection! Offering fun gift ideas for Mother's Day, Sugarfina is the place to shop for a cute little gift for your own deserving Mum! 
AlterEco Chocolates- Honestly, I don't know where to start with the Alter Eco Chocolate Company! I'm obsessed! They have TONS of flavors that are beyond delicious... but besides that, I love that they are a 'give-back' company. They're Fair-trade, sustainably sourced, certified organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and oh-so delicious. My favorite flavor is Deep Dark Sea Salt! There's something about that salty-sweet combo makes my mouth water just writing this review. Half a bar has just over 200 calories. Perfect for a satisfying after-dinner treat that's not too big, not too small, but JUST right! Here is a link to their story so you can read a bit more about the incredible initiative they've taken. Once again, I was able to sample these treats in exchange for a review, and I am so glad I did! http://www.alterecofoods.com/our-story/
Eat Your Coffee CoffeeBar- I love coffee... I'm obsessed with (okay, addicted to) coffee! I just love its deep, rich, somewhat bitter taste! I actually love dark chocolate for many of the same reasons. It's just so satisfying! What if you could combine the energizing effects of freshly brewed coffee with the decadence of chocolate, all while keeping it healthy and nourishing?! Well, you CAN! The folks over at New Grounds Foods (http://www.newgroundsfood.com/) decided to do just that. They've created a gluten-free, vegan bar that contains all the caffeine found in a cup of coffee + the nutrition of a health bar! I indulged in one of these as an afternoon pick-me-up and I was amazed at how delicious it was. YUM! I prefer mine right out of the fridge.. cool and satisfying! 
Tasty Karma Chickpea Truffles- Of all the treats out there, this is by far one of the most unique! These little chocolate truffles are actually made with, yep... you guessed it, chickpea flour! But don't be scared by the 'chickpeas'. These truffles are healthy, nutritious, gluten free, vegan and delicious! These truffles didn't last long in myhouse! I just love how sweet they are and the fact that I don't have to feel guilty enjoying them. Honestly, they didn't tasty 'weird' or 'bean-y' or anything like that. They just tasted amazing! Here is a link to their website- https://www.tastykarma.com/ so you can try for yourself.

Being healthy does NOT mean deprivation. Treating myself to a special dessert is one of the best parts of a healthy, balanced diet! These are just a few of my favorite treats... treats that prove dessert can be delicious and healthy! How about you? What's your favorite special treat? 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose!” -Dr. Seuss

Okay, I haven't written in a few days... I've been busy... GRADUATING! 

This past weekend I graduated with my Associate's Degree, my sister-in-law earned her Bachelor's  and my brother received his Master's!! We all graduated from the same school on one of the most beautiful weekends so far this year!
I'm all about 'finishing strong' and 'fresh beginnings', so this was an especially exciting time for me! It reminded me to be thankful for my accomplishments and also, that I've got a lot of work ahead of me! I still have 2 years ahead of me as I pursue my Bachelor's Degree in Health Studies and Communications, but I'll be doing that at another University. Boy am I gonna miss the friends I've made here!
I love bittersweet chocolate, but nothing's more 'bittersweet' than saying goodbye to old friends and great memories as I 'close the chapter' on this college experience and move on to the next. God has blessed me with amazing friends and wonderful education thus far...
Ecclesiastes 3:1, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
Celebrating with friends and family was the perfect way to end all my studies and get ready for the summer!
I'm thankful for friends, parents, professors and classmates that helped to make my experience so rewarding! Graduating with my siblings on Mother's Day weekend was a wonderful way to make my mum proud and to thank her for all her prayers, encouragement, support and... care packages (healthy ones, of course)!

So, with "brains in my head and feet in my shoes" it's time for vacation... and time to snooze! Hehe!  

How about you? What's new with YOU?!
"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" -Psalm 118:24

When was the last time you counted your blessings? Just the other day I was sitting outside all by myself. The sun was shining and a gentle breeze was blowing as I began to write in my journal all the ways that God has blessed me over the past 2 years. I thought about how He's brought me through tough times and helped me to really enjoy the great ones. It is so easy to complain when things don't go the way we had hoped and planned, but that never does any good at all. I had to sit down, take the time, and FOCUS, but after writing down a list of things I am thankful for, I instantly felt happier! An"attitude of gratitude" helps you celebrate the good times and 'get over' the bad times. Life's too short to be sad! 

Here are my top 5 tips to make your day a little happier!

  1. Be thankful- Want to put a smile on your face? Count your blessings! Sure, you may have had a really rough day at work... but at least you have a warm bed to come home to at the end of a long day. Maybe you're cramming for exams and you wonder if you can even do it... but at least you get to go to college. There are always two ways to look at any situation. Be optimistic.Thinking about the positive (instead of the negative) helps you to feel happier instantly!
  2. Have fun- Life is what you make it! Do you want to have more fun? Have more fun! Go out with friends, make dinner from scratch, get coffee with a sibling, call a friend who lives far away... Don't sit around wondering why you don't have any plans-- Make some plans! As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The only way to have a friend is to be one." Be brave! Be bold! Brainstorm some creative ideas and GO. HAVE. FUN.
  3. Be kind- This is SO important! A bad attitude creates tension and fights, but simply changing the tone of your voice and being a little sweeter and more gracious makes people want to do the same! Think back on your life and try to remember people who have made a positive lasting impression on you (teachers, parents, friends, coworkers). I bet they were kind. And remember to "Be kind to unkind people- They need it the most." (Anonymous) 
  4. Rest up- Sometimes people think I'm crazy because of how much I sleep. I'm a college girl and most of my friends love to stay up late. It's not unusual for them to stay up until 2 AM! No thanks, NOT ME. We all know how irritable and cranky little kids can get when it's past their bedtime. Well, adults who don't get enough sleep feel more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted, too. Getting my 'beauty sleep' helps me to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. 
  5. Be active- I don't know about you, but I instantly feel better after a long walk outside. I'm not one to go to the gym (I feel like a hamster on a wheel)... but that doesn't mean I neglect my cardio-- Au contraire! When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which help reduce the perception of pain. A brisk walk can boost your self-esteem and ward off anxiety and depression. I know I instantly feel happier and more 'sane' after going for a walk. It helps me clear my head and focus! Hello Happy Life!

How about you? What are your tips to a happier life?
“Don’t dehydrate in the sun, Hydrate! Hydrate! And have fun.” — Mark De Wett

Okay, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself... I mean, it is only May 4th... but the sun is shining, I'm wearing sandals and it FINALLY feels like Spring! I don't know about you, but something about warm weather just screams smoothies! I love a juicy, refreshing, detoxifying smoothie to start my day. When it's cold outside I always find myself craving warm oatmeal and hot coffee as soon as I roll out of bed. Well, not anymore!

Cue "Smoothie Season!" I love fresh fruit and veggie smoothies because they're hydrating and filling, and they clear up your skin and give you a healthy summery glow! Perfect for the warmer, more wonderful days ahead!

My absolute favorite smoothie recipe is SO simple! If you've never tried a green smoothie (and you're a little freaked out by their intensely green hue) this is your new must-try recipe!

1 handful organic spinach + 1/2 cup frozen mango + 1/2 cup fresh pineapple + 1/2 cup orange slices + 1 cup coconut water = THE BEST SMOOTHIE EVER!

So today, for 'Monday's Motivation' I want to encourage you to say "Hello Healthy Hydration" and watch as your hair, skin and eyes just glow with beautiful health from the inside out! 

One of my favorite ways to stay hydrated is with Coconut Water! Coconut water has SO many health benefits! Many people actually refer to it as "Natures's Gatorade" because of all the naturally occurring electrolytes! It's low in fat, aids in weight loss, and helps to clear up your skin. Did you know that you can actually wash your face with it and watch as acne vanishes?! Use it as a conditioner to combat dry and frizzy hair. It also aids in digestion (because of the high fiber content) and it helps to reduce blood pressure. It helps prevents muscle cramps because of the high potassium content. The calcium in coconut water is good for healthy muscles and bones. It even helps prevent bloating (something nobody likes to talk about!) Definitely a win-win-win!

If you don't drink coconut water (yet) NOW is the time to start. My favorite coconut water is King Coconut because of it's high quality nutrition. King Coconut sent me some of this delightful drink in exchange for an honest review. They certainly didn't have to twist my arm... this stuff is nutritious and SO delicious! Sourced from local coconut ingredients in Sri Lanka, it's loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants and it contains NO preservatives! Every coconut they source is freshly bottled to insure peak nutrition benefits! 

Check out http://www.kingcoconut.asia/ for more info on King Coconut Coconut Water!  

How about you?! Do you like coconut water? Have you ever tried it in a smoothie?!
“I want to caution you against the idea that balance has to be a routine that looks the same week in and week out” -Kevin Thoman

I don't know about you, but I'm a routine kinda gal. Whether it's waking up at the same time everyday, rolling out of bed and stumbling downstairs to whip up my favorite bowl of piping hot oatmeal topped with PB2 and a fresh juicy orange, or taking a daily coffee break at 11am with my favorite mug-a-joe. Maybe it's curling my hair in the exact same style, walking the same route for exercise, or watching the same Netflix series every night. I often find myself doing the same things without even thinking about it. Consistency is comfort, routine is easy, and habits are hard to break... even good ones!

And while consistency is an important part of a healthy, balanced life, so is flexibility. It's important to set new goals and to strive for improvements. Don't just sit back and go through the motions. 

What better time to make goals than at the beginning of a brand new month? I've always loved when the calendar changes. I love flipping the page in my agenda book and seeing a blank new set of days ahead of me. Days to fill with new activities...to achieve goals and pursue new ideas. Each month is a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate...and what could be better than the Merry month of May? The sun is shining, people are out-and-about, life is in full bloom! 

Cue- Make It Happen May! Whether you've been meaning to start running, add yoga to your workouts, or finally try a green smoothie...MAKE IT HAPPEN! Let May be the month that you take a leap of faith and move out of your comfort zone. Break bad habits and build new ones! Or simply add some variety to your already-healthy life. 

I once heard the quote, "Life starts outside your comfort zone" and while it's usually a challenge to step out of your comfort zone, it's important to mix-things-up. So, go for it, get that hair cut, buy a new dress in a style you would never normally try, call an old friend, memorize some Bible verses you don't know, get a new book from the local library, go to a dance class, learn to cook an exotic recipe, hit up a new restaurant, or try going gluten free for a week (you may just like it :P)!  Whatever your goal, big or little, old or new, let this be the month you step out of your comfort zone and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

How about you?! What do you want to 'make-happen' this May?!
"Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere." -Anonymous 

Is it just me, or is 'Finals Week' a great opportunity to stress out? You KNOW you dread its arrival, and you can't wait for its departure! Final exams (or any other particularly stressful time in your life) can be so disruptive. Stress can give you headaches, tummy aches, heart burn, and insomnia. Stress can cause weight gain, weight loss, mood swings, and acne. Stress makes it hard to concentrate and it can make you say and do things you wish you hadn't. It can make you feel lonely, overwhelmed, irritable, and unhappy. Let's face it... Stress stinks! So, whether its exam week or work deadlines, relationship issues or financial concerns... Whatever it is that causes you to worry, we all need to find ways to 'beat the stress'!

Eating healthy, keeping active, and staying happy at college can be HARD work! Between all the quizzes, ten page papers, required readings, social outings, early morning classes, cafeterias full of less-than-healthy eats, late nights out for half-price-apps, and a lack of routine, leading that 'balanced life' can be quite a challenge! Then throw in finals week and my-oh-my... suddenly the stress of it all can be overwhelming! So here's how I balance it all:

My Top 6 Tips for Thriving (Not Just Surviving) During Finals Week!

1. Start Studying NOW- Waiting until the last minute to study is sure to cause stress. Rather than cramming it all in those last few days, start studying a couple weeks before finals. This way you actually understand (and own) the information! Rewrite your notes, ask a friend to quiz you, practice writing out short answers, and get comfortable with the material you're learning.

2. Take a Tech Break- When it is time to study, break away from all the distractions! Whether it's Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, turn it off! Make sure you PUT DOWN THE DEVICE and spend time studying--sans distraction! It is hard enough to commit the time to studying, so when you decide to actually DO IT, don't waste time with any 'competition.'

3. Be Active- Get outside and go for a walk! Spring is finally here, so enjoy the warm weather! Nothing clears my head like a good walk! Let this be your break and then GET BACK TO WORK! Studying is important, but so is time with friends, fresh air and nature. Don't let studying overtake your life. Research shows that just 20 minutes of cardio can improve your memory!

4. Get enough Sleep- Sure, last minute cram sessions are tempting, but if you pull an 'all-nighter' you actually impair your reasoning and memory for several days. Your body will be exhausted, and come test time you'll be too tired to remember all that extra studying you did! Getting enough sleep helps your body deal with all kinds of stress.

5. Eat Your Breakfast- It's true what mom says, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" Start your day off right with an energizing meal that keeps you full and focused during your exam... after all, nothing is more distracting to you (AND those around you) than a grumbly tummy during test time! A nice serving of high-protein eggs should hit the spot. Enjoy a little toast for your carb and a fresh piece of fruit for fiber and extra vitamins.

6. RELAX- Remember-- they are only tests. You've lived through other exams and you'll certainly survive these. You are probably pretty prepared by now, so look at exam week as an opportunity to 'show off' all you've learned! Take some deep breaths and calm yourself down before you begin. Pray that you remember everything you studied. Close your eyes when trying to come up with an answer and then take another deep breath. Don't worry... YOU'VE GOT THIS!

"Think what a better world it would be if we all -the whole world- had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap."   -Robert Fulghum

WOW! There's just something special about a really delicious cookie... especially when you're living a gluten free life, right?

Just the other night I decided to treat myself to a couple of these cookies for dessert. I popped one in my mouth and my eyes immediately widened in happy disbelief. I literally uttered "WOW!! These cookies are amazing!" They're probably the best cookies ever! Whether you're gluten free or you just LOVE chewy-soft cookies, you simply MUST check out Wow Baking Company!

These cookies are non-GMO, gluten free, wheat free, and made with natural ingredients. Wow Baking Company bakes a bunch of different cookies for you to enjoy. Here are a few of my favorite flavors!
Classic chocolate chip cookies are the treats dreams are made of... soft, chewy, sweet (but not too sweet) and loaded with chocolate chunks. Being a 'gluten free girl' I haven't been able to enjoy a really SOFT chocolate chip cookie in 2 years! But that sad trend ended today. The texture is on point!! I dare you to compare one of these to a traditional 'glutenous and glorious' chocolate chip cookie and try to guess which one is actually g.free!
Key Lime White Chocolate Chip cookies?!! What a fun combo of flavors! These cookies are the perfect sweetness with just a 'tinge of tart' from the lime. Definitely worth trying! I let my mum give a bag of these to a gluten intolerant teacher friend at her school and she LOVED them. She said she ate half the bag while in class... before lunch!
Snickerdoodles!! Gotta try these cinnamon-y sweet treats for your next little afternoon snack. These are perfect paired with a piping hot cup of Sweet Cinnamon Tea and a splash of creamy almond milk. (Check out Tazo Tea for this amazing flavor!)
Oatmeal Raisin cookies-- so soft and moist and tasty! The chewy raisins add a touch of natural sweetness to an already delicious cookie. I recommend checking out these individually wrapped cookies for the perfect grab-and-go treat!

Have I convinced you to checkout Wow Baking Company yet?! I recently found them for sale at my local Target. (Imagine my happy face when I first laid eyes on them there!) Here is a link to their website!  http://www.wowbaking.<http://www.wowbaking.com/>

How about you?! Do you like cookies as much as I do? What are YOUR favorite gluten free varieties?