The benefits of eating a plants-based diet are seemingly endless! A nourishing diet rich in plants promotes a healthy heart, healthy digestion, clear skin, increased nutrition, lower body fat, weight loss, increased energy, reduced allergies and even a healthier environment. 

A couple summers ago I tried eating a vegan diet. I cut down on added sugars, eliminated dairy, and I upped my intake of plants and legumes. Let me tell you, I felt AMAZING! I experienced first hand all sorts of benefits. My skin was clear, I was incredibly energized and my mood was lifted! 

To be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed the cleansing benefits and energy boosts I got from such a nutrient dense diet, but I missed the more satiating effects of both meat and dairy. So while I no longer eat a strict vegan diet, I AM trying to eat more 'plant food' so that I can reap some of those wonderful benefits! Here are some of my favorite snacks that are vegan, filling, and oh-so delicious! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
You guys already know how much I love almond products (from my recent 'almond lovers' post)... and why not?! Almond butter is a delicious and nutritious plants-based snack that's sure to keep you satisfied 'til your next meal. It's got vitamin E to protect you from oxidative damage, magnesium for healthy bones, and iron for healthy blood cells. Almonds reduce bad cholesterol and control blood pressure, too. Pair a spoonful of Barney Butter with a few apple slices and you've got a salty-sweet treat that will put a smile on your face and nutrition in your body!
Pop chips!! Gotta love these gluten-free healthy chips! I pair a serving of Pop chips with a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter for a filling snack. Peanut butter actually helps you lose weight because the combination of protein and fiber fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer! Enjoy this with a bit of fresh fruit and you've practically got yourself a mini (VEGAN) meal! YUM! One medium 80 calorie orange actually provides 130% of your daily vitamin C needs, 0 grams of fat, 250 milligrams of potassium and a gram of protein! This time of year is a great time to enjoy an orange... it will boost your immune system and hopefully prevent some of the colds and flu floating around out there!
Carrots and hummus. Enough said, right? There's just something about creamy hummus with crunchy carrots that just hits the spot! This is the perfect vegan snack for when you're craving something savory. Hummus is really just chick peas, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. It is rich in protein which helps fight hunger cravings and balances blood sugar levels. The iron content may just boost your energy and motivate you to hit the gym! Hummus comes in so many awesome flavors, too, so you'll never get bored. Try Sweet Potato hummus, or Thai Coconut Curry, or Jalepeno Cilantro. I keep deciding that one certain flavor is my favorite, and then... oops! I try another and THAT'S my new fave!
Okay, this is kind of a random snack, but trust me... it does the trick!  Pair a small sweet potato with a smear of raw almond butter for a sweet/savory snack that's naturally sugar free! A sweet potato has over 100% of your daily vitamin A requirement. Vitamin A is linked to anti-aging benefits, cancer prevention, and good eyesight. They've got loads of fiber and potassium, too. And with their low glycemic index (they release sugar slowly into the blood stream) they provide a steady amount of energy. Try them baked, broiled, steamed, or even microwaved (when you're in a rush!)
Finally, who doesn't love popcorn?  It's light, salty and fun to eat! Popcorn is a gluten free healthy whole grain and it is packed with protein. The problem I have with popcorn though, is because it's so light, I find that I tend to 'inhale it' when I'm hungry... which is fine when I'm alone, but not the best idea when you're snacking with friends :/ (or if you don't like to vacuum!) Have no fear!  Adding a few salty almonds to my popcorn allows me to eat those first, and because they're more dense I can satisfy my hunger faster and then enjoy the rest of my popcorn!  

How about you?!  Do you eat a vegan diet?  What are your favorite vegan snacks?!
Hello Merry Merry March! I could NOT be more excited for a new month to arrive! March means Spring is finally on it's way (even though we're getting 4-8 inches as I write this post!)  March means longer days (March 8 is Daylight Saving Time!) The temperatures will finally rise and the crocuses will begin to bloom. Did you know what else is special about March? It is National Nutrition Month!

Proper nutrition is so important, and this month is dedicated to spreading the word and informing people on how to live a healthy, balanced life! Hosted by the 'Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,' this month is a time to continue your healthy habits and focus on forming new ones!  

The 2015 theme of National Nutrition Month is to "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle." The goal is to encourage proper nutrition choices as well as increased activity to maintain a healthy weight and a balanced life! I've found that the best way to make lasting changes is to do it slowwwwwwwly and steadily.  Simple things like taking the stairs, drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies, and cutting down on refined sugar and processed foods are easy steps to a healthier lifestyle. 

For the first Monday of 'National Nutrition Month' I want to show you guys a few of MY favorite "Bites!" I'm all about balanced breakfasts, light little lunches, seriously satisfying snacks, delightful dinners and delicious desserts!  Here are a few of my favorite treats:
One of my favorite little healthy bites is a warm bowl of oatmeal with creamy almond milk and plump ripe blueberries! 
Look at how beautiful, bright, and colorful this snack is! Nothing motivates me to "bite right" like fresh, nourishing veggies! You feel really good while you're munching (and certainly afterwards.)
The perfect afternoon snack to keep me satisfied between lunch and dinner is none better than carrots and hummus and gluten free crackers! This snack will definitely satisfy even the most serious savory craving! 
Apple slices and PB2! I love PB2... it tastes just like rich, creamy peanut butter, but it has only a fourth of the calories! 
Nothing satisfies a happy healthy 'nutritious snack craving' like a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie! I whipped this up the other morning... I mixed frozen mango, orange chunks, banana slices, avocado, spinach and coconut water! Yummy and oh-so refreshing! 
One of my favorite little "bites" is Pop Chips!! These chips are light, crispy, slightly salty and delicious! I paired mine with some light chicken salad to add some protein to my little snack!
After all those healthy little "bites" I guiltlessly treat myself to some rich chocolate and hot decaf coffee! Have you ever tried Trader Joe's dark chocolate espresso beans? They sure hit the spot! 

These are some of my favorite little bites and they keep me motivated to eat right! The best way to start National Nutrition Month is by stocking your kitchen (and your desk drawers and your backpack) with "little bites" that love you back!  

How about you?! What are your favorite little bites?
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."                                            
Genesis 1:29

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

We can do this! Only 4 more days of February and then it's FINALLY March! The month when temperatures begin to climb and daylight hours increase.This is a time of rebirth, regrowth, renewal, and rejuvenation.We can finally kiss winter 'Goodbye' and look forward to spring! It's hard to believe that it's been two months since Christmas and yet when I look outside, I still feel like I'm trapped in a frozen snow globe! Oh well, what can you do?!

I'll tell you what I'm doing... I've been trying to brighten my days with bright, colorful, tasty and nourishing foods! Fruits and veggies like bright juicy oranges, crunchy golden carrots, creamy green avocados and multi-colored baby tomatoes...These nutritious little 'gifts from God' definitely lift my mood when all else is gloomy! So here's what a bright day of eating looks like for me!
This morning I started my day with a bowl full of chia seed pudding. I made it by mixing chia seeds and almond milk and letting it sit overnight. In the AM, I added a spoonful of almond butter and paired it with half of an orange for a filling, refreshing breakfast!
Come lunch time, I was ready for a lovely little meal! I had a garden salad filled with fun toppings! I had grilled chicken, avocado, sunflower seeds, sun dried tomatoes, Trader Joe's blueberry goat cheese, tomatoes, and half a fig! I paired this 'fun salad' with a small sweet potato, carrots, black bean hummus and the other half of my orange!
In the afternoon, I craved a little treat! I had some decaf coffee with a splash of cream, a sprinkle of unrefined coconut sugar, and a handful of dark chocolate espresso beans. Later I snacked on some cherry tomatoes while I was getting reading for dinner.
For dinner, I enjoyed some homemade Indian curry chicken and chickpea soup, a little fresh fruit salad, a spinach salad with sunflower seeds, some hummus and a slice of gluten free toast with butter! Yummy!
Can't live without my nightly dessert! Tonight's was DELICIOUS! I had a small scoop of Salted Caramel Frozen Yogurt with Light Cool Whip and a crushed up gluten free ice cream cone! YUM! I paired this with 2 little chocolates (because I was craving chocolate) and since I had eaten healthy all day, I knew I didn't have to stop at just one!
Around 10 pm, I was actually pretty hungry (that's what happens when you stay up late watching reruns of 'The Mindy Project' on Hulu!) so I decided to grab a little snack to settle my rumbly tummy for the night. Knowing that I could sleep-in the next morning, I realized that breakfast was a long ways away... so I opted for a small orange and a bit of lite kettle corn. This did just the trick! I don't always eat a snack before bed, but often times I find that I sleep better when I do! was definitely a "hungry day" for me!

How about you?! Do you need 'a little nibble' before bed? What did YOU find delicious today?!

We've made it to the last week of February!! Honestly, I CANNOT WAIT for this month to end! Between the snow storms every weekend and the ridiculously cold temperatures, Spring seems very far away... but thankfully, it's almost March!! So let's finish February strong! 

At the beginning of the month I wanted to find alternative ways to be fit and active, since it's been too cold for me to walk outside (my usual source of activity). I enthusiastically decided to call this month Fit February

I'd say this month was a success! I went on the treadmill almost everyday, took the stairs instead of the elevator at school, and I even did some laps around the house (I'm pretty sure my dog thought I was crazy!) I've tried to find a variety of creative little ways to be active, hoping that they would add up to an overall 'fit and healthy' lifestyle! 

So, for the last Monday of February, I want to encourage you to finish strong! The average American gets less than 5,000 steps a day, while the American Heart Association recommends getting double that! While you may not always be motivated to get up and get moving, you will always be glad you did! Here are just 5 benefits (there are many more!) of being fit and active:

  1. Healthy Weight Control- Trying to lose a few pounds, or simply maintain your already healthy weight? Exercise is the answer! Exercise helps your body to burn more calories and build muscle which increases your bodies metabolic rate, so you lose weight even after your workout! Recent studies are finding that cardio helps your body burn calories even after a workout! Time to hit the gym :)
  2. Increased Energy- Feeling tired even after downing your AM coffee? Try taking a little break and going for a walk. Exercise helps to increase blood flow and thus increase your energy levels. Studies even show that being more active prevents blood sugar spikes (and the inevitable crash) after eating a meal... this means that your energy levels remain more consistent throughout the day... no more 3pm slump!
  3. Better Mood- Endorphins are no lie! A good workout causes your body to release endorphins (a feel good hormone) which helps you feel your absolute best! Being active promotes a positive attitude and increased self esteem. 
  4. Reduced Stress- Feeling stressed? Skip the high sugary treats and go for a walk! Walking is my absolute favorite way to de-stress. Even if it's too cold outside, simply hitting the treadmill for 20 or 30 minutes and tuning into your favorite reality TV show (or plugging in your head phones and jamming out) allows you to clear your head and take a step back from the stresses of the world! 
  5. Better Sleep- Need help drifting to sleep at night? Get in an AM workout! Being active naturally promotes a healthy sleep cycle. It helps you drift into sleep, as well as stay asleep. I find that when I work out, I tend to sleep like a baby and I credit that to being fit and active. Your body's muscles are tired and they need repair... they need sleep, and so do you.

So, get up off the couch! Jog in place while watching your favorite TV show. Run up and down the stairs during every commercial. Chase your dog or cat around the house. Drop down and do some crunches instead of crunching through a bag of chips. Turn up your favorite tunes and DANCE like you mean it! Even five or ten minutes every now and then will add up and help create a happy, healthy lifestyle. 

Have you stayed fit this February? What are your favorite ways to stay active?
Good morning! Good morning! There's no better way to start ANY day than with a healthy, cozy, tasty little AM meal! Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast will give you the energy and nutrition you need to keep you going 'til lunch time! So for today's 'Monday's Motivation' I want to share some of my favorite balanced breakfasts. You know, the ones that keep me healthy, happy and motivated to tackle the day ahead!
Craving French Toast for breakfast?! Skip the high sugar, high fat, caloric bomb at your local I-Hop and opt for a homemade slice. Here I coated a slice of gluten free toast with an egg white, some cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract. I topped this with a drizzle of real maple syrup and some cool whip (YUM!) I paired this with a scrambled egg and salsa (for extra protein) and a cute little clementine! I satisfied my sweet, French toast craving while nourishing my body with a balanced meal! 
I LOVE oatmeal for breakfast and it's my GO-TO almost every morning! There are just so many fun ways to enjoy this healthy, satisfying treat. I skip the packaged oatmeal, opt for some plain oats instead, and then I add the all-natural sweeteners myself. Here I had oats with a drizzle of honey, chopped almonds, and some dried apricots. I also enjoyed an apple on the side. Today was a 'breakfast in bed' kinda day... and this was the perfect little meal!
Greek yogurt! You guys know I love this stuff! For a sweet and satisfying breakfast, I mixed some plain Greek yogurt with a splash of almond extract and a pinch of cinnamon. I paired this with some frozen mango and I topped it off with a small handful of gluten free granola for a crunchy twist. I also enjoyed half of a thirst- quenching orange! YUM!
I love a good muffin! ...but being gluten free and knowing the insanely high amount of sugar and carbs in a typical muffin, I tend to stay away. But when the craving strikes, I can still give in and not ruin my calorie quota for the day! This morning I had a homemade gluten-free blueberry muffin made with frozen Maine blueberries.I added PB2, scrambled eggs with spinach and Greek yogurt spinach dip, and some fresh pineapple/ frozen mango! YUM!
Such a cozy breakfast! I whipped up a scrambled egg with a bit of chourizo (Portuguese sausage) and a slice of creamy cooper sharp cheese! I paired this with a slice of gluten free toast with butter/ jam, and a few orange slices. I also sipped some unsweetened vanilla almond milk! Such a great, balanced breakfast to get the day started!

As you can tell my breakfasts follow a very similar pattern. I eat a little carbs, a little protein and always a bit of fresh fruit! I wake up thirsty each morning and fruit quenches that craving! Protein fills me up (and prevents hunger from striking an hour later) and whole grains and healthy carbs energize me on the spot. A balanced meal like this keeps me satiated and happy for hours!

What about you?! Do you ALWAYS eat your breakfast? What's your favorite?
Do you eat enough protein? 

Did you know that the average person should consume about 50 grams of protein each day? (46 for women and 56 for men.) The benefits of protein are seemingly endless. Protein is an important component of every cell in your body. It's an important building block of your muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your body uses this 'macronutrient' to build and repair tissues.  It's obviously pretty important. 

Eating protein-packed foods can help lower your body fat percentage and reduce your hunger (which aids in weight loss.) It can help get rid of belly fat, build up muscles, and improve the look of your hair, skin and nails. It protects your bones from osteoporosis and helps you sleep better. Yep, protein is pretty important.

But getting enough protein can be hard, especially if you're following a vegan or vegetarian diet, or simply trying to reduce your consumption of meat. Getting enough protein from snacks can be difficult as well. When you're feeling hungry it's easy to reach for high carb/low protein snacks like pretzels or chips, or even 'healthy options' like whole whole grain crackers. But they lack the substantial protein we need to keep fueled and energized for the whole day. Well, that's about to change! Here are my fave protein-packed snacks to keep you satisfied between meals!
Chia seeds are packed with plants-based protein. One ounce of chia seeds contains over 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of filling fiber. They're packed with nutrients and are actually considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth! My favorite way to enjoy these healthy little seeds? ...pudding!! Who knew that you could make your own healthy version of tapioca pudding using almond milk, greek yogurt, vanilla extract, maple syrup and chia seeds! 5 simple ingredients and you have yourself a healthy, filling, protein packed snack! :) I topped mine with fruit juice sweetened cookies and almond butter! YUM!
Nothing beats a hard boiled egg to fill you up on just a few calories! One egg has less than 80 calories and 6 grams of filling protein! Hard boil a few eggs at the beginning of the week and keep 'em in the fridge so they're quick and easy to grab when hunger strikes. Try pairing your egg with a bit of fresh fruit! Fruit's natural sugars will give you a quick boost of energy while the fiber from the berries paired with the protein in the egg will keep you filled up until your next meal!
Need a little afternoon boost? Or simply a sweet treat to end your meal? Look no further than Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Novelty Bars. Seriously, these things are amazing! At just 80 calories and 6 grams of protein each, these are the perfect high protein treat! They're so delicious I often find myself eating them in pairs! 
Nothing beats almonds for a heart-healthy, plants-based, high-protein, on-the-go snack! A serving of almonds packs 6 grams of plants-based protein to keep you filled and satisfied! Looking for a little more protein? Add a low-fat cheese stick for 6 more grams and you've got yourself a lovely little snack that contains a whopping 12 grams of Vegetarian protein! 
YUM! Greek yogurt! A 100 calorie serving of 0% Fat unsweetened Greek yogurt contains a whopping 18 grams of protein! And with just 7 grams of naturally occurring sugars, feel free to add a drizzle of raw honey and some chopped fresh fruit to make it a little more special! Greek yogurt helps with digestive help, blood pressure, weight management, and bone health. ENJOY!
When in doubt, grab a protein bar! I know some of them don't taste too good and some even contain artificial sweeteners (which is a big no-no.) But I LOVE a good quality bar! It makes getting enough protein easy (and tasty) to do. Some of my favorite bars include Quest bars and LUNA bars. I love these two flavors because they taste like a delicious dessert! 

What about you?! What are your favorite ways to get your protein?!
Nothing warms me up and gets my day started like a warm bowl of oatmeal! 

I don't know about you, but these chilly mornings have me craving cozy, comfortable, creamy foods... nourishing and delicious, wholesome and healthy, filling but not fattening. We all know how important it is to eat a good breakfast, so why not enjoy a bowl of oatmeal? Here are some reasons that will inspire you to 'eat your oats':
  • A serving of oatmeal has about 150 calories, 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber
  • It contains 25% of your daily magnesium needs as well as selenium, phosphorous, and zinc
  • The soluble fiber in oats help to lower cholesterol and boost your cardiovascular health
  • A serving of oatmeal costs less than 15 cents!! (cheap AND tasty!)
  • Oats were actually one of the earliest forms of cereal cultivated by man
  • 75% of households in the US have oatmeal in their pantry
  • The most popular way to use oatmeal (besides cereal) is in 1. Oatmeal cookies 2. Meatloaf and 3. Fruit crisps
  • The fiber in oatmeal aids in weight loss because it keeps you fuller longer 
  • It is full of antioxidants and reduces the risk of high blood pressure

I could go on and on, but now I'm really craving oatmeal and I want to tell you some of my favorite ways to enjoy it:
  • with a splash of almond milk and some dark brown sugar
  • a handful of Craisins and dark chocolate chips 
  • sliced-up bananas and a scoop of almond butter
  • a hefty shake of cinnamon and some toasted walnuts
  • fresh blueberries and heart-healthy pecans
  • chopped up apples, raisins, and more cinnamon
  • fresh strawberries with sliced almonds
  • creamed honey and any raw tree nuts
  • real maple syrup and pumpkin seeds
  • shredded coconut and gluten free granola
  • canned pumpkin (best swirled in while cooking)

Well, I hope you're inspired. Don't let anybody tell you that oatmeal is boring... IT'S NOT!

Do you like oatmeal?!
Me and my oatmeal! This morning I enjoyed my oats with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a scoop of PB2!
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:8)

Looking to better your health? What if I told you that simply being grateful does wonders for your health? Well, it does! So today for 'Thankful Thursday' I want to encourage you to be thankful for all that you have! Most nights when I'm falling asleep at night I pray to God and I thank Him for my warm house, my cozy bed, my loving family, and my dog on the rug beside my bed. It is so very cold outside and I am tired of all the snow, but I am thankful for the seasons and for the promise of spring and summer to come. I think about how fortunate I am to have an abundance of 'options' for what to eat and what to wear and what to read. I think about my friends... high school friends, camp friends, college friends...Wow! Am I blessed!

Thankfulness is a state of mind, an attitude of the heart. Here are just a few of my favorite reasons to be grateful:

  •  It make you happy and decreases depression
  •  It helps you sleep better and longer
  • It increases longevity and promotes good physical health
  • It improves emotional response and helps to create quality relationships
  • It promotes a healthy overall well-being
  • It helps students get better grades in school
  • It helps promote a healthy heart
  • It helps to create a better immune system
  • It increases productivity and fosters a better work environment
  • It improves your self-esteem
  • It increases energy and enthusiasm
  • It helps you manage stress

Let's be honest, life can be hard. Sometimes it seems like things are just NOT going the way I had hoped and planned. I can get overwhelmed and anxious. I can feel defeated and frustrated... hopeless... But it's actually during the difficult times that I must remind myself to be thankful for the many blessings in my life. I need to look at 'obstacles' as 'opportunities' and then try my best to see how I can change the things I can change and accept the things I can't. If it's a tough 'life lesson', then I need to learn it. If it's a sad time in my life, I need to depend on God to help me overcome it. It's during the really tough times that I need to 'count my blessings' and recall the many wonderful things I have to be thankful for. 

I'm thankful for the important lessons and the people who help me learn them. I'm thankful for the seemingly insignificant things, too! From the cheerful pink polish I just painted my nails with, to the rich warm coffee I'm sipping, being thankful is being happy with all the things God has blessed me with- the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the fun and the not-so-fun. Let's cultivate an 'attitude of gratitude' and see what happens!

So how about you? What are you thankful for today?!
Nothing motivates me to eat healthy more than the sweet reward of COOKIES!! Yep, you read that right! Cookies! I've tried restrictive diets that cut out sweets all together, hoping that it would completely eliminate my desire for them, but that's just not my jam. I end up feeling depressed and deprived which leads to over-eating, feeling guilty, restricting, feeling deprived, overeating... the cycle goes on and on. NO thank you! I learned the hard way that restrictive dieting does NOT work. You can't live your life on a diet... I quit 'dieting' a long time ago and I couldn't be happier! I find that eating super healthy nourishing foods 80% of the time allows me the luxury of eating special satisfying treats for the other 20% of my diet. 

That means that each day I guiltlessly indulge in a special little treat! From a handful of dark chocolate expresso beans to a small dish of slow-churned creamy vanilla bean ice cream, daily little sweets make me smile and they keep me satisfied with my healthy, balanced diet!  

Let's be real, nothing satisfies quiet like a decadent chocolate chip cookie. Being gluten free, my cookie options are limited at best. Many cookies are chalky, crumbly, bland, hard, or just plain bad. But just because tasty gluten free cookies are hard to find does not mean they're not out there!

So for today's 'Monday's Motivation' I want to encourage you to eat healthy all day long KNOWING that you have a special, little treat to look forward to at night! *Added bonus: all of these cookies are healthier than your typical packaged cookies!*
1. Lucy's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Where to begin?! I LOVE these cookies! They're the perfect texture (crispy and crunchy) but the vegan dark chocolate chips are still creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! These are perfect dipped into a piping hot cup of fresh of coffee or rich chocolatey hot cocoa! Added bonus: these cookies are gluten free, vegan, and nut free! Perfect for people with allergies. I was thrilled when Lucy's sent me a couple of these to review! Plus, Lucy's support the American Cancer Society's fight against breast cancer. I love 'give back' companies!
2. Ginny Minis Chocolate Chip Love. Another amazing gluten free cookie! These are organic, non- gmo, gluten free, and they're made with real ingredients. They have a fresh, buttery taste! They're also delicately crispy, crunchy and oh-so delightful! I bought a 6-pack of these individual packs on sale for $2.99 and they were terrific!

3. Immaculate Gluten Free Cookies. I found these 'ready to bake' chocolate chip cookies in the refrigerated  section of my local Target. (As if I don't love Target already!) I was pumped to find some take and bake cookies that were certified These cookies are amazing! As soon as you feel a craving coming on, pop them in the oven and in just minutes you'll be enjoying these warm and chewy fresh-baked delights. The texture is on-point and you probably won't even believe they're gluten free! I love to chop one into mini cookies (so they bake faster) and then I pair them with some creamy vanilla bean ice cream (baby ice cream cookie sandwiches!) They're the perfect tasty little treat!
4. Quest Cookies. Okay, I seriously cannot get over these! You guys know that I love Questy bars... but did you know that you can turn this 'grab and go' protein bar into your own fresh baked cookies?! All you do is microwave a Quest bar for 20 seconds until it's soft and doughy. Then you shape it into small little cookies and bake in the oven for 2-3 minutes at 350 degrees! No measuring and mixing, sifting and stirring. Just delicious dessert in minutes! YUM! 

How about you?! Do you love healthy cookies?! 
It's lunch time!! ...and you're tempted to order some takeout... well, STOP RIGHT THERE!! Just because you're not eating at home DOES NOT mean that you cannot enjoy a perfectly delicious and nutritious noon time meal. The solution? Pack your own lunch! This semester I'm living back at home, taking some online classes and commuting to school (I recently transferred colleges.) As a result, most days I usually end up walking to the local library to study (if it's not too cold! ...I get too distracted by Netflix if I stay home). I walk there in the early afternoon and stay till just before dark. I'm fortunate to live in a beautiful town right on the water and the public library is 2 miles from door to door. I thoroughly enjoy my walks and I get about 5,000 steps each way on my Fitbit. Almost as soon as I arrive, I find myself a cozy little nook and I break out my tasty little lunch.  Here are just a few of my favorite packed lunches... evidence that 'eating healthy away from home' is definitely do-able (not to mention delicious!)
YUM!  This lunch really hit the spot!  I was craving a sweet potato, but we also had some leftover Mexican cuisine from the night before... I figured, why not combine the two?! I made a sweet potato taco with a bit of refried beans/ lean turkey taco filling and a sprinkle of cheese on top. I paired this with a light garden salad (topped with salsa), an apple... and two squares of dark chocolate and a Vanilla Caramel chew! Yummy, healthy, and oh-so-satisfying!!
Here I had a little garden salad with a drizzle of light Raspberry Walnut dressing, a few sunflower seeds and a crumble of creamy blueberry goat cheese! This salad was delicious and it was perfectly paired with a lean salmon burger (for extra protein!) For my sides, I grabbed an apple and two small banana-oatmeal muffins I made the day before. I topped these with PB2 (i.e. the best low-cal. peanut butter ever) for extra protein and flavor! 
Look at those big orange carrots!  I want some... now! For this balanced lunch I packed some grilled chicken for protein, a small sweet potato for a healthy carb, and a small garden salad with hummus. This time of year the oranges are readily available and very delicious! For dessert I packed a LUNA protein bar as a special treat! This lunch kept me full and satisfied for hours! It keeps me fueled and focused and ready to face the world (AND all my homework!!)

How about you?!  What are some of your favorite brown-bag lunches?