Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

 

Hello! Long post ahead. I don’t usually do these type of posts but I felt compelled to share some of my greatest diet and health lessons today.

I started this blog because I felt like I was a human science experiment of sorts. Well…I have learned a lot about health and nutrition along my journey and I want to kind of summarize my experience for anyone else who might be walking this same path.

Obviously I have many more lessons than this but I don’t want this post to get too long!

7 Diet & Nutrition Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

  1. There is no such thing as a perfect diet. 
    When I first became vegan I was quick to latch on to all the vegan spokespeople who preach veganism as the perfect diet and I really bought into it. I mean, I saw incredible benefits and it seemed to really be working for me for quite a while. And then I did the whole Paleo thing for a while because proponents of that diet say it’s the perfect diet. And honestly I did feel really great on the Whole30 (I just didn’t feel great beyond it). But it left me thinking, “who is really right?” The truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect diet because we are all so different and our dietary needs are all so different!
    I know, I know, you see the Vegan Triathletes that are just crazy fit and they say they can train hard because of their plant based diet. And then you see the super ripped paleo folks who say they look like that because of their diet. It never really occurred to me that those people would probably be super fit and ripped no matter what they ate. There will always be a small percentage of the population who can eat pretty much anything and look incredible.
  2. Carbs are really important.
    If you are a healthy, active person you need to be eating carbs, period. I’m not talking about eating crazy insane amounts of bagels like we did in the 90’s, I’m talking about healthy carbohydrates obviously. Low carb and grain free diets can be really helpful for people with insulin resistance and they certainly have their place. I don’t want to get too much into the science here, but what I want to say is, I see a lot of young, healthy, active people giving up carbohydrates just because going low carb has become mainstream and it really isn’t advisable for many people.
  3. Fat is really important but not eating too much fat is also really important.
    Fat matters. Just like everything else we put in our mouths, it ALL matters. I think fat is shedding its bad rap which is a good thing, but now I’m seeing things swing too far in the opposite direction. People are eating copious amounts of nuts and putting butter in their coffee thinking there won’t be any negative backlash and that’s simply not the case either! It all matters!
  4. You CAN have a protein deficiency.
    So many famous vegans preach about how “over protein-ed” we are in the U.S. and how nobody really gets protein deficiencies. This is false. I was vegan for a long time and I never tracked how many grams of protein I ate but I would estimate I probably never ate more than 60 grams of protein on any given day. How could my muscles repair? They couldn’t. That’s why I was riddled with injuries and my hormones tanked.
  5. Vitamins are a must no matter what diet you follow!
    Ahhh the great vitamin debate. It seems like everyone likes to say “I get my nutrients from my food” these days (I used to say this as well until tests revealed massive vitamin deficiencies). Well, good luck with that. The truth is, our soil is so nutrient depleted there’s no way we can get all out nutrients from food even if we are eating 10 pounds of vegetables a day. Also, the  “Recommended Daily Allowance” for vitamins and minerals is so we DON’T GET a deficiency. It’s not the dose we need to THRIVE and be at our OPTIMAL LEVEL. Sorry for the all caps here but I wish someone would have shaken me and been more stern with me on this one. But do you see there difference there? One level is just the basic minimum needed to survive, but we need much more to function optimally, especially if you are active. Dr. Hyman has great things to say about this topic if you are interested in doing more research.
  6. When it comes to your health, “Test Don’t Guess”.
    I haven’t written about my latest thyroid testing debacle, but the short version is, I got tired of guessing what was wrong and I took a list of tests I wanted to have run to my doctor and made him run them all! I lied and told him I was working with a dietitian who suggested I get all these tests done. He was very receptive to this and gladly ran all the tests, haha!! It revealed my thyroid was pretty low (very low in some aspects), but my DHEA levels were non-existent! I simply started taking a DHEA supplement and that got all my other levels back up to normal. There was no way I could have ever guessed that. So whatever issues you are having, get tested for it. If it’s stomach stuff, get tested. Don’t just assume you have too much stomach acid because it could be more than that.
  7. Quality water and food DO matter!
    I’ve written about water quality before and how I’m convinced it is what cleared up my acne, but I’m serious when I say clean water is important! There are so many contaminants in our drinking water and they simply don’t get filtered out with regular filtration systems like what we have in our refrigerators.
    Ditto for food quality. I was resistant to this one for a long time, simply because I didn’t have the money to spend on higher quality food. So you know what analogy I like to use? The home:body analogy (I made this one up and I’ve very proud of it)
    When people go shopping for a new home they will typically get approved for a loan and then go shopping for a house that is in the very top of their price range. People will calculate the monthly payments and buy as much house as they can afford because it is an investment. You see where I’m going with this? We spend our maximum budget on our homes and in some cases our cars/clothing/purses/shoes etc. But for some reason, when it’s time to buy fuel FOR OUR BODIES we buy the absolute cheapest food out there because it’s good ‘nuf. Just think about that one. Isn’t our health really our best investment? I certainly think so.

Alright, that’s all for now, I’ll try to think up some more hard lessons learned!

Laura

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Protein Pancakes (protein powder free)

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for the last 3 months but I keep forgetting! I just came across the pictures in my phone which reminded me that I still hadn’t done it!

But first, a house update! The new house is almost done. In fact, we will be moving in one week exactly! I have started packing but there is still LOTS to do. It’s actually really stressful when I think about it.

I don’t really have any super good photos to post yet but I’m thinking once it’s finished maybe I’ll make a video and it will be just like MTV Cribs (my favorite show of all time btw). The whole house is pretty much done, they are just to the stage where they go through and clean and fix all the little things. It’s a big mess right now and everything is covered in a layer of dust so I didn’t take many pictures.

This is the main floor and I am most excited about the flooring! It was the biggest thing we splurged on. I really wanted this luxury vinyl plank flooring and it worked out that I was able to get it. It’s like laminate but it’s also waterproof and darn near indestructible. The color is gorgeous and it doesn’t look like plastic even though the name “vinyl” makes it sound like plastic. I’m stoked!

house pic

The house isn’t fenced yet so I think our first priority is getting some sort of temporary fencing and a dog door so Rocco can run free. OF COURSE the dog’s priority is #1! I mean let’s be real, who is this house for really?

On to the pancakes…

I have been experimenting with baking/cooking with protein powders a lot recently and let me just say, I have wasted approximately $500 worth of protein powder. I kid, I kid. But seriously, baking and cooking with protein powder is a bust. It doesn’t taste good and in the end it just wastes perfectly good protein.

So, I was excited to come up with a high protein pancake recipe that doesn’t use any protein powder! They have a great taste and texture and they are very easy to make. Perfect for weekends!

High Protein Pancakes
Makes 1 serving

  • 1/2 a ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons cottage cheese or greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground flax (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender (a magic bullet type device is clutch in this situation) and blend until smooth. Let the batter “rest” for approx 3 minutes to allow the batter to thicken up. Heat your pan over medium heat. Pour/scrape the batter into the heated pan. It will make 3-4 small pancakes. Flip once they start to bubble.

Top with pancake toppings of your choice (obviously).

I am the WORST at taking food pics. You know I made these pancakes after running 8 miles or something and I just wanted to sit down and eat so I snapped a picture really quick before they got cold. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I loathe cold food, especially if it is a food that’s supposed to be hot!

pancakes

 

Enjoy!

Laura

 

 

Wellness Gizmos I’ve tried-Are they worth the money?

One of the main reasons I started this blog many years ago was because I am basically a human science experiment. I enjoy trying different wellness “things”, cleanses, programs etc and I wanted to be able to share my experiences so others don’t waste time on the stuff that isn’t worth it!

I’ve been wanting to write this post for over a year now but I’m just having the hardest time getting myself together when it comes to updating my blog!

I compiled a list of the latest, weirdest things I’ve tried in the last year and I must admit I’m a little scared to reveal how much money I’ve spent on all this stuff!

So I’ll just cut right to the chase. In no particular order here are the various Wellness “things” I’ve done with a description and then my personal verdict.

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  1. Steam sauna. Cost: $90
    This one looks super weird! Last winter I missed the feeling of getting really sweaty. I know that sounds crazy especially to anyone who lives in a humid environment. But in Utah the air is dry year round and I was just craving that feeling. So I ordered this sauna off Amazon. Our house is very small and it’s not like we have tons of room for a sauna so my husband placed a large piece of plywood over the bathtub and the sauna sits on top. When I want to use the tub it’s easy enough to take the sauna down.

The Verdict: I love it! I would absolutely recommend this. There is a ton of research on the benefits of using a sauna that I won’t get in to here. The only downside is it’s hard to find a good time to sauna since it requires a shower afterward.

2. Infrared heat lamps. Cost: $20
This one came about around the same time I was researching saunas. I actually wanted an infrared sauna but the steam sauna was much less expensive. The research on infrared is really overwhelming. Some people swear it heals all wounds, acne, muscles, joints, everything basically. Infrared setups can be really pricey so I purchased a bulb and socket from amazon and just made my own.

The Verdict: Didn’t do anything for me or for my husband. Rocco liked to lay under the lamp because it was warm but that’s about it. I can’t say the heat penetrated any deeper than a heating pad.

3. HiDow TENS unit (muscle simulator). Cost: I have it on loan from my mom. Her Cost: $200-300
This is a pricey one, I know! My mom suffers from really horrible neck pain and I think anyone who deals with chronic pain is willing to spend just about any amount of money to make the pain go away! Spoiler alert: this thing made her pain go away, she never needed it again so she gave it to me! My husband had purchased a cheap, $20 version from the drug store but trust me when I say it was weak sauce compared to this bad boy! The HiDow has some serious power even though it is tiny. I love using it for sciatic nerve pain and my husband uses it for back pain. You can use it for every ailment under the sun though.

The Verdict: It’s awesome! Expensive, but if you have chronic pain that is muscle related it’s probably a worthwhile investment.

4. ALCAT Test. Cost: $350 (gulp)
The ALCAT test is something I had wanted to do for a reallllllly long time. I did a lot of research before pulling the trigger to see if it was legit. Basically it’s a “food sensitivity” test. You order the blood draw kit online and then go to a lab to have your blood drawn. The lab mails your blood to the ALCAT people and a week or two later you get a complete list of all foods you are either a) highly reactive to, b) moderately reactive to, or c) non reactive. I did this mainly for entertainment/curiosity since I really didn’t think I had any food sensitivities. The thing is, you don’t know if you have food sensitivities unless you get tested! The theory is that we could be eating some health food (green tea for example) and actually be sensitive to that food and that causes low grade inflammation which obviously is not good for many reasons. My results were pretty mild. I didn’t have any foods I was highly sensitive to. I was lactose intolerant, no surprise there. I was moderately sensitive to a lot of health foods I consumed on a regular basis like green tea, beets, cucumbers and beans.I just want to say CHOCOLATE, COFFEE AND PEANUT BUTTER WERE OK. I was so scared I was going to come back as sensitive to my 3 favorites but all was well.

The Verdict: Unsure. I got my results back and thought it was a worthwhile investment so I made my husband do it too because he likely has food sensitivities. The test confirmed he has gluten sensitivity which we already suspected but at least now he has a piece of paper to confirm it.
The bottom line: I probably wouldn’t recommend this unless you are just a curious soul like me and don’t like to leave any stone unturned when it comes to health. OR, if you know that gluten is making you sick but you need external confirmation to help you get it out of your diet for good.

5. Fascia Blaster. Cost: $90
Oh I know I am totally crazy with this stuff, I’m killing myself here! If you haven’t heard about the Fascia Blaster yet it’s a stick like doo-dad with claws on it that you use like “the stick” for rolling muscles. The claws break up fascia which releases bound up scar tissue, fascia, muscles, etc. The Fascia Blaster has a huge following and people buy actual big infrared saunas to put in their homes and dedicate 30-60 minutes of their day to blasting. So at least I’m not that extreme…

The Verdict: It works but it may be too expensive depending on your needs.
Ahhh, I feel like I’m going to be burned at the stake by FB devotees for saying that. I know some people’s lives have been changed forever because of the FB, especially people with scar tissue and people who have had surgeries. So if that is an issue for you I would 100% say it’s worth every penny. I like to use it on my calves and I did break up some scar tissue in my husbands foot. The hardest thing is that, like all fitness things, you have to actually use it for it work 🙂

6. Sauna Suit. Cost: $20
Alright, so I obviously went through a “sweating phase”. I have the hardest time getting sweaty which I know is weird. So I bought one of those old school, plastic suits and for a while I was wearing it to workout in. Actually I was only wearing the top because the bottoms were hard to move in.

The Verdict: I loved it at the time but I wouldn’t recommend it now. My phase was short lived and now I have this plastic sweat suit in my garage…

7. Bellabeat Leaf. Cost: $139
I wanted the Leaf so bad so I asked for it for my birthday. It’s fitness tracker jewelry basically. It has many of the same features as a Fitbit but it looks like a bracelet or necklace and you can wear it different ways. The reason I really wanted it is because it is also tracks meditation and your monthly cycle and gives you a daily stress score based on how much you slept, how much you moved, how much you meditated and where you are at in your monthly cycle. This feature for me was the selling point. I don’t need any encouragement to get up off my butt, I need confirmation that I have indeed worked hard and it’s time to sit my butt down and take some deep breaths. As a result I went from meditating 0 times/week to meditating 4-7 times a week. As someone as compulsive as I am, if I see I’m getting a bad grade in the meditation department I will take 10 minutes to meditate to get a better score.

The Verdict: I love it but I’d recommend waiting for the next gen to come out. I bet the next ones will be smaller and less clunky. I also think it’s a little overpriced compared to other fitness trackers out there and it doesn’t allow you to record what you eat. Hopefully in the future the app will have that capability.

8. Liver Cleanse (Global Healing). Cost: $70 a pop.
Over the summer I went on a liver cleansing spree. Why you may ask? I don’t know, I don’t even drink really but I was in the mood to cleanse something so I decided to go with a liver cleanse since I’d never done one before. I actually did 3 rounds with alternating rest week’s in between. It’s a 5 day cleanse and every day you drink 2 different potions throughout the day and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. It also doubles as a colon cleanse which is a bonus. It’s short enough that the restrictive diet is totally doable. I mean…it’s only 5 days. I should put a disclaimer on here though that on the last night you have to drink a glass of epsom salt water which tastes extremely bad. Like, really bad. But then the worst part is that 30 minutes later you have to drink 6 ounces of olive oil (and not throw up). Yes, 6 ounces, aka more than a 1/2 cup! Probably one of the grossest things I’ve ever consumed. That potent cocktail is what cleanses the gallbladder which is something you’ll have to experience for yourself!

The Verdict: I love it and can’t wait to do it again! By the end of the 5 days my liver felt like it was pink and shiny and sparkling. I can’t say I experienced any lasting effects that would indicate that it really “did anything”, but I felt good at the time and you just never really know about this stuff, right?

Alright, now you know how crazy I really am! I hope you enjoyed this little list of nonsense 🙂

Laura

DIY Laundry Detergent

I’m back from the blogging dead, haha!

It’s only been 2.5 months since I last posted something. I’ve really been enjoying my summer and I have so many blog posts I would love to do.

I mean first let’s back it up 2.5 months and talk about the Bachelorette! I was so into the Bachelorette this year that I made a bracket and everything. I never thought I’d be joining #bachelornation. I can not wait to find out who the next Bachelor is going to be. While we wait for the next Bachelor I’ve gotten into Bachelor in Paradise. If you don’t watch this show you definitely should. Will Evan find love in Paradise?! We’ll have to wait & see I guess.

So…what did I do this summer? The husband and I spent an entire week in Lake Tahoe. It was a blast. We rented a condo near the lake and went mountain biking and kayaking and of course did plenty of relaxing. We took one weekend trip to Sun Valley but the mountains were on fire so that was a very smoky trip.

And, ok, I guess this is kind of a big deal…I almost forgot…we are building a house!! It’s all still very new and nothing has really happened yet. Basically we found an area where we wanted to build but had to wait 6 months or so until the builder could release the lots. About a month ago the lots were finally released and we were 3rd in line to pick our lot! So we plopped down some money to secure the lot and now we are basically just waiting.

The next step will be going to the design center to pick out all the colors and finishes. This sounds fun but is also slightly terrifying. I have some sort of color blindness and I have a really hard time matching colors and also identifying what a color is. For example, I will swear up and down that something is purple when it is in fact brown (or so people tell me-I still don’t believe them even when they tell me!). So that makes it hard but then there are also just so many decisions to make. And they all cost money! I think that’s the scariest part. I just know that the things I like are probably going to be the most expensive option and then I’ll have to choose between being heartbroken or being broke. And those aren’t fun options. But that should all be happening in the next couple weeks.

This will be a fun thing to blog about though 🙂

Rocco is doing great still, he’s just my best little buddy! Lately he’s been going to Doggy Daycare a couple times a week and LOVING IT. I had been wanting to find a day care for him since some days I can’t exercise him in the morning and in the winter there are days that I just don’t want to exercise him. He has friends there now, including another Min Pin named Max and apparently the two just play all day. I like to image Max is one of Rocco’s brothers and they’ve been reunited…

rocco j

Anywho, so the title of today’s post is DIY Laundry Detergent and I actually AM going to tell you how to make your own laundry detergent!

But first, a testimonial! Last winter we went to Mexico and it was super humid and when we got home all our clothes had “that smell” that clothes get when they’ve been damp for a week. It’s not a good smell FYI. I first used traditional laundry detergent and “that smell” did not come out. Not after one wash and not after 2 washes. So, I made up a batch of this laundry detergent and what I want to tell you is: THE HOMEMADE CHEAP STUFF WORKS BETTER THAN COMMERCIAL DETERGENT. I was just a shocked, believe me. I have a pre-conceived notion that home made cleaners can not be as effective as store bought, chemical filled cleaners.

Wrong.

And the thing is, it’s really easy to make. It doesn’t make a big mess in the kitchen like most of my projects and it only takes a few minutes. And I really can’t stress the importance of switching to “all natural” as much as possible. The chemicals and dyes in cleaning products not only get into our bodies through our skin but they also get into the water supply which isn’t good for all the frogs and other creatures. And if that isn’t disturbing enough, just think about all those chemicals getting into your body and messing with your hormones and then storing themselves in your fat cells so they can wreak havoc in a time released fashion.

So let’s get to it!

detergent pic
All the supplies you need to make liquid laundry detergent!

DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent (safe for front load washers)

  • Large, clear plastic bottle (I use a clear soft soap bottle)
  • 1 cup castile soap (I use the tea tree flavored one for extra germ-killing power!)
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 cups hot water

Mix 1 cup castile soap with 3 cups hot water together in the large container you are going to use for your detergent.
In a glass bowl or large glass measuring cup mix the baking soda, salt and 2 cups of hot water and stir. Pour this mixture into the other mixture, shake to combine and voila you are done! The detergent will separate and you’ll have to shake it up before each use which is why I think storing it in a clear container is key.

Use 1/4-1/2 cup per load. I still have my old plastic laundry cups and use a full cap in my front load machine.

 

I know making laundry soap sounds like a total pain but I promise it only takes a couple minutes. I make 2 bottles every time so I only have make more once every couple months.

Alright that’s all for now, now go get caught up on Bachelor in Paradise!

Laura

 

Cooling Cucumber Soup + My 1st 5K (video)

Hi hi hi!

I’m back today with a recipe for a cooling summer soup. Raw vegetable soup is basically just a vegetable smoothie but calling it a soup sounds way better!

blender
Tonnnns of veggies!!

Blending vegetables is a great way to make them more digestible. This is good news for anyone who gets digestive upset from eating raw vegetables or salads. Plus it sneaks a ton of variety into the diet without having to try too hard! And as another bonus, since this is basically just raw vegetables going into a blender it only takes a couple minutes to make a big batch.

Swapping out your afternoon snack for this soup is a GREAT way to get rid of bloating, flatten the belly and get your smokin’ hot bod ready for summer! Seriously, give it a try. If you usually have a protein shake, protein bar, cookies, chips, pretzels, etc in the afternoon, try swapping those out for this soup next week and see what happens!

soup
My soup ready to go for the week!

And on a totally unrelated note, I ran my FIRST EVER 5K last weekend! It was also my first ever trail race! I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve never participated in a 5K. I started running on my 30th birthday unable to run a mile without stopping many, many times. As I progressed to being able to run 1 mile, then 3, then 6 without stopping my first first ever foot race was a Half Marathon and then a Full Marathon. So I guess I never felt like it was worth getting up early and paying money “just” to run 3 miles. Except then the 5K started to scare me for some reason. When you think about it, a marathon is hard for sure but the #1 goal (for me anyway) was to finish/not die. I didn’t really care what my time was. Just finishing is accomplishment enough. But people who run 5K’s generally try to go FAST. I am not fast (at least that is the story I tell myself over and over).

So, I signed up for a 5K trail race. My husband was out of town so I was all on my own. No hand holding here, I had to be a big girl. I got up at 4:30am, too sleepy to eat breakfast. I stopped drinking coffee a while back so I didn’t even have that comfort. I drove myself up the canyon and I couldn’t believe how nervous I was!

To make a really long story short I LOVED IT! It was a really great experience and the funniest thing is that I ended up getting 2nd place. I started off in the very back because I assumed I would be the slowest one and I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way. I also forgot to double knot my shoes so I had to stop to tie my shoes and I had to pass all but one person. I think the person who beat me finished about 45 seconds to a minute before me. Shoot. Next time I’ll double knot my shoes and try a smidge harder!

Oh and the “next time” is this weekend!

Here is a little video I took right after finishing. I didn’t have anyone to talk to so I talked to my phone #imsoawkward

Alright, here is that recipe!

Cooling Cucumber Soup (servings: 4)

  • 1 apple
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, feather part and all
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cups of filtered water

Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy warm or cold.

Alright, that’s all for now! I’ll be back soon with an update from my next race!

❤ Laura

 

 

Choc Chip Banana Nut Cookies

Well, that’s quite a name for a recipe! I think I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for the last YEAR and I’m just now getting around to it. Or I did post it but didn’t link to it in my index. Even if that’s the case it’s been a year and so its new again!

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I know it’s been over a month since my last post so I’m racking my brain for interesting updates.

Well, it’s Spring in Utah so I feel like a little bear coming out of hibernation. The sun has touched my skin a couple times so that was exciting. But lately we’ve been getting tons of rain so it hasn’t really started heating up yet.

A week ago I got to go to a formal dinner with my hubby! Here is a picture of me from the beginning of the evening. I wish I had a full length picture that showed my awesome shoes! They were gold and glittery and platform and AWESOME. I was probably 5’4″ in them, haha!!

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I know, what an evil woman I am for cropping my husband out of the photo. But you know, he doesn’t appreciate his photo on the internet and who can blame the guy, really?!

And then this a photo of me from the end of the night after I’ve had a whopping TWO GLASSES of white wine. I haven’t had any alcohol for the past probably 3-4 months so those two glasses hit me HARD. I was hungover for 1.5 days afterward 😦

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Not too drunk to put on my seat belt and take a selfie though so clearly I was feeling good. (and I was a passenger, not the driver just to be clear)

And those curls in my hair are thanks to my newest beauty doo-dad. I invested in a 1″ Curling Wand. I don’t even own a curling iron so this is my only curling device. It’s pretty darn great. Here is a better picture of what it looks like. Very beachy 🙂

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Alright, this is turning into quite the self-absorbed hair post so how about a picture of Rocco now to round things out.

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He is just the smartest, sweetest, funniest dog and I love him so much. He is my little buddy ❤ ❤

And now for that recipe! This is a really simple, healthy recipe that scratches the itch for chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they taste like banana and the texture is that of crushed almonds but they are delicious nonetheless and you can totally eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner or any time in between.

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Choc Chip Banana Nut Cookies
(Makes approx 30 cookies)

1 1/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
2 small or 1 large ripe banana (this is not an exact science)
1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I still like “Enjoy Life” brand)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place the almonds in a food processor and process until a near flour like consistency.
In a mixing bowl, mash the banana(s) into a paste. Add the coconut sugar, peanut butter and baking soda and ground almonds and stir until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Form each cookie by dropping 2 tablespoons of the batter onto a cookie sheet, leaving at least 3 inches between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just brown.
If your batter is much runnier than regular cookie dough that is ok, mine was too and they still turned out great. If you are super concerned about it you can add more peanut butter and/or almond flour.

Nutrition per 1 cookie
Calories: 100
Carbohydrate: 9g
Fat: 7g
Protein: 3g
Sugar: 6g

Alright, that’s it for now. Hopefully I can come up with something cool to post soon.

Bye for now!

❤ Laura

 

 

 

DIY Kitchen & Bath Cleaner (easy & cheap!)

Today I’m so excited to share a recipe for something other than food! It’s a really simple recipe for kitchen & bath cleaner* that I have been using for several months. I’ve been slowly but surely swapping out aaaallllll my commercial cleaning products & beauty products out for non-toxic versions. This cleaning solution is really, really, really easy to make and it will save a ton of money since the only thing you might have to buy is white vinegar which only costs a few $$. The other ingredient is orange peel but you can eat the orange so that doesn’t really cost anything!

I got the recipe from my friend Jacqueline who is a chemistry teacher and Yoga Teacher extraordinaire. She is awesome and has tons of recipes for household products so I’ll be sharing a DIY laundry detergent recipe soon.

*I do want to mention that you should NOT use this cleaner on granite or marble because it will eat through the sealant! I have quartz (silestone) counter tops and it works great. I checked the silestone website and it indicated you can pretty much use any product except for really harsh stuff like paint thinner or battery acid. Everything in between though is fine. I have found this cleaner actually makes my counters feel much cleaner than the commercial cleaning product I had been using before.oranges in a bottle

Kitchen & Bath Cleaner
Ingredients & Supplies Needed

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Peels from orange or lemon to fill the glass bottle
  • Glass bottle with plastic cap (don’t use a huge jar or else you will have more cleaner than you know what to do with)
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Funnel if you have one

Find a large glass jar or container. I used my weck juice jar as pictured above which worked OK but isn’t ideal since it has a narrow neck. In the future I will use a large glass jar I got from IKEA. Stuff glass jar full of orange rind. Pour vinegar into bottle, covering all the orange rind. Cover with plastic cap. Store in the pantry for 2 weeks minimum, shaking daily.

Once the vinegar is ready, mix at a 1:1 ratio with water by pouring the vinegar into an empty spray bottle (this is where a funnel comes in handy), filling it half way. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water. See, super easy!

This is my funnel.

funnel

I really love my funnel because it breaks apart into 3 separate funnels depending on what type of project I have going on. My husband got it for me. What a guy, right? It came from Harmon’s (grocery store in Utah) and I don’t know how I ever got along without it.

A while ago I mentioned that over the summer we got new kitchen counter tops and installed a tile backsplash and I never did share pictures! Well, in the photo above you can see said counter tops and backsplash! It’s very light and I love it. This is what my kitchen looked like before (so clean, haha!) and I don’t seem to have an after picture with a clean kitchen. Hmmmm.kitchen before

BUT what I also want to say is that when we got the counter installed we also got a new sink. We opted for the single basin sink and OMG it’s the greatest thing ever.

sink

Also featured in the above photo is our new reverse osmosis water filter. I’ll probably save details of that for another day but for any of my friends struggling with acne I think this reverse osmosis filter has had an incredibly positive impact on my skin. Mainly because city/ground water contains a lot of endocrine (hormone) disruptors and this filter removes all the nasty stuff like arsenic & lead. My skin had gotten pretty good before I got this filter but now it’s like GOOD good and very rarely breaks out.

And last, here is my guapito as I call him (my little handsome).

guapito

That’s all I have for this week. Bye for now!

Laura

 

Mini Avo Choco Mousse Pies

Happy Wednesday! I’m super proud of myself for keeping up with my goal of one blog post a week! And I’m also super excited to be sharing this recipe today! This recipe has become a staple in our house. It looks and tastes super decadent but really, it’s all health food! It’s full of healthy fats and antioxidants and it’s just something you can feel really good about eating (Unless you are allergic to banana, avocado and coconut like my brother. In which case, do not eat this!!!) This dessert is also raw, vegan, gluten free and who knows what other specialty diet this is compliant with. And furthermore, WHO CARES?!

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I have tried several different blending/mixing devices and I have determined the food processor is the way to go here. Not the blender. Not the magic bullet and definitely not the immersion blender. Food processor all the way!

Mini Avo Choco Mousse Pies (makes 6)

For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 5 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

For the Mousse

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana (not a frozen one)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream (melted)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened baking cocoa)
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Instructions

Soak the dates in warm water for about minutes then squeeze the excess water from the dates and place dates, cashews and coconut oil in the food processor. Process until a light crumb forms. Do not over-process or you could end up with cashew butter.

Divide the crust mixture evenly among 6 muffin pan liners. Be sure to scrape every last little bit out of the food processor, this stuff is too good to waste! Next, melt a small amount of coconut oil in a small bowl and grab a shot glass (or other small, flat bottomed glass). Cleverly dip the flat end of the shot glass into the coconut oil and use the flat bottom to press the crust down so that is it even.

Set aside and now it’s time to make the filling. No need to rinse or clean the food processor between making the crust & filling.

Place all the mousse ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides down occasionally. Spoon the mousse over the crust layer until it’s evenly divided between the 6 muffin liners. You don’t need to try to smooth it down, you can simply give the muffin tray a shake now and then to get the mixture to settle down and lay flat.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating but longer is better! I actually like this recipe a lot more the next day or even 2 days later. If you taste it right after making it you will notice a slight “green” flavor and it’s not that good. I promise it gets better with time as the banana sweetens and the flavors blend together. You’ll have to trust me on this one.

We got a huge snow storm in Salt Lake this week so that’s been exciting! We lost power at our house for 8 hours on Monday morning and got about 16″ of snow over the course of 2 days. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a storm like that here!

And last, a Rocco pic! I picked up this faux fur rug at IKEA for Rocco just because I thought he would look cute laying on it. And he does look cute! He doesn’t quite understand that it’s for laying on and not for wrestling/shaking/killing.

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Isn’t he the most handsome dog you’ve ever seen?! I love him.

Have a great rest of the week and be safe out there!

Laura

 

Let’s Have a Heart to Heart

I want to have a heart to heart with you and tell you all about the latest & greatest that’s been going on since my 6-month blogging hiatus since that’s the only fair thing to do.

As you know I was a strong advocate of a plant-based diet for many, many years and then just over a year ago I got sucked into the Whole30 craze and went from being a pretty strict Vegan to following a pretty strict Paleo diet.

And so where am I at now? Good question and I’ll get to that in a minute. This was part of why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. I’m like a human science experiment and I’m always trying this, that and the other and I like sharing my experiences so I can hopefully save others the pain of trying the really bad stuff, haha!

After doing the Whole30 I did feel really good. I don’t think it was because I was eating meat & eggs for the first time in 8 years. I think it had everything to do with the fact that I didn’t have any sugar, flour or alcohol for 30 days. After the 30 days were over I switched to a paleo diet, you know, because if doing it for 30 days was good, more must be better! So that means, I stuck to a diet that consisted of meat, eggs, vegetables, sweet potatoes and 1 piece of fruit a day. Yes, that’s right, I pretty much only ate those foods for almost a year. Yep, no rice, no quinoa, no beans, only 1 piece of fruit, no treats except for dark chocolate which is technically only allowed in small quantities (I ate…more than a small quantity…daily). What I’m getting at here is: I WENT CRAZY.

Not like, now I have an eating disorder crazy, but crazy enough to know that I did NOT feel good and that this way of eating was in no way sustainable for my lifestyle. I know the paleo diet works for thousands of people and that’s why I tried it. I just wasn’t one of those people.

Over the summer my health got bad. I was tired even though I didn’t run even once all summer. I cut my exercise WAY back and still felt sore & worn out. My body felt heavy and bigger than normal-(about 10 pounds heavier to be exact). It didn’t make sense to me because I thought I was eating healthier than ever. I thought, “All I’m eating is protein and vegetables. I’ve cut out alcohol, baked goods, chips, bread and everything fun. How can I get any healthier?”

As a side note, I want to add that I didn’t switch my diet in an attempt to lose weight. That was never my goal! I just wanted to be healthy. As a fitness professional I tend to devour every health book, journal and article ever written so as a byproduct, I try a lot of stuff.

Back to my story.

I found a naturopathic doctor who is also a nurse practitioner so she’s just a beautiful blend of holistic and modern medicine. She ran about a billion blood tests and this is what I learned:

  • I had several vitamin deficiencies & a goiter
  • I had very low insulin
  • I had almost no progesterone (all hormones were whacked out actually)
  • I was deficient in so many hormones & vitamins my metabolism and reproductive stuff was shutting down
  • There was more but these were the biggies

I said to her, why is my insulin so low? She was scratching her head and said, “I don’t know, your body should make insulin every time you eat carbs like bread and rice and potatoes”. “Ooooh”, I said, “I don’t eat those things”.

So, eating the way I had been, caused a whole variety of health related issues. Not only that, but eating such a restrictive diet caused me a whole other world of pain. Going to the grocery store was torture because I felt like 99.9% of everything in there was “BAD”.

Ugh. It makes me so mad just thinking about it! This happened to me and I’m a fitness professional people! I thought I was doing the “right thing” and the “healthy thing” but really I was hurting my body and making myself sick and miserable.

Alright, so let’s fast forward. I started taking some high quality vitamins. My goiter went away, my hormones started to come back. My skin cleared and my aches & pains faded.

I went back to a plant-based diet. That part was easy because I’ve never really liked meat or eggs which means for a year I was eating food I didn’t really even like (red flag people, red flag!). I started eating more fruit, beans, rice & tofu. Basically, I freed myself from all restriction! It was hard at first because there was a voice in the back of my head saying “no, you can’t have that!” but I told it to shut up and eventually it did.

So what am I eating now? I would say I still follow a plant-based diet for the most part but I refuse to put any sort of restrictions on my diet so I will cook with eggs and eat cheese or cheesecake or whatever I want really!

The point I really want to make, especially as we go into the Holiday season, is: DON’T STRESS ABOUT FOOD. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Don’t count calories and especially don’t count carbs. Eat foods that make your body feel good in quantities that make your body feel good. So if you know the sugar/flour combo will make you feel sick then only have a little, if any. But don’t go to a holiday party and break into a cold sweat at the sight of the dessert table or foods you’ve labeled as “bad”. There is no “bad food” and “good food”! Just enjoy the company of the people you are with and enjoy the special foods of the season and don’t feel compelled to eat ALL THE FOOD just because it’s there. Listen to your body, it really does know what’s best.

So going forward on my blog I’ll probably write more about my journey (as it’s turned into kind of a big deal) and I’ll share more about my food choices and exercise choices too (that’s a hot topic right there!) and I think you’ll see that everything I post from here on comes from a place of “kindness” as now I make sure all my choices are about doing what is really best for ME any my body and not what the “experts” say we should do.

me
This is a picture of me from exactly a year ago. I’m smiling on the outside but I can see in my eyes that really I was in pain and probably experiencing a great amount of guilt for drinking wine.
me 2
And this is me now. Yes, I know this picture is beyond bizarre. I just got a new sleeping bag. The point is, I feel so much happier and I’m back to being silly and not taking anything too serious!

 

 

Well if you are still reading, THANK YOU for hanging in through this long post.

Bye for now!

Laura

 

What I’ve been eating for Breakfast

Hello again! I’m back, just like I promised.

Want to hear about what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately? It’s such a fascinating topic, haha!

This isn’t just what I’ve been eating lately. This is what I’ve had for breakfast almost every day for the last 4 months straight.

What is it?

A GREEN SMOOTHIE.

green smoothie

Ugh…Laura!!! Boooorrrring! How many times have green smoothies been blogged about on the internet? Too many!

Well believe me, I am right there with you. This came about over the summer. I think I stumbled upon a smoothie recipe (and there are approx 19 billion on the internet) and this was actually for a 30 day smoothie “challenge” I believe. The essence of this challenge was basically to have this drink every day for 30 days and by the end you would notice clearer skin (count me in!), improved energy, etc.

Well, I had absolutely no intention of doing the 30 day challenge. I just thought it sounded good so I made it one day and my husband and I both loved it. We felt vibrant and oh so proud of ourselves for consuming a days worth of veggies for breakfast! So I made it again the next day, and the next and so on because we just really like it. The days we haven’t made it we missed it.

When I first saw this recipe I thought it looked like soooo many ingredients and like it would just be a huge, intensive, not to mention expensive process. But it really isn’t. I mean, this recipe makes 2 servings so you’re basically just eating 1/2 an apple and 1/2 a banana a day which really is not a lot of produce. It just looks like it. I haven’t done the math on it but I didn’t notice a spike in my grocery budget because of it.

I change the ingredients up so that I’m using produce that’s in season, but this is the basic recipe. Oh and I do use all organic produce because I think it’s important when you are eating large quantities of produce like this. Otherwise that would really be a lot of chemicals to ingest on a daily basis!

GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE (makes 2 servings)

  • 16 ounces filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons (a hearty squirt) lemon juice
  • large handful or 2 of spinach
  • large handful or 2 of kale or romaine lettuce
  • 2 stalks of celery or 1/2 a peeled cucumber
  • 1 banana (peeled, sliced and frozen preferred)
  • 1 apple or peach or pear or 1/2 cup berries
  • 1 small handful of parsley (optional)
  • 2 inch chunk of aloe vera, peeled (optional)
  • protein powder (optional)

Blend. Drink.

vitamix

Here it is! It’s basically a full blender!

And in the background there you can see the tile back splash we installed over the summer. Photos coming soon…

One thing I like to add is aloe vera. Not the juice but a whole chunk! It’s supposed to be good for sooo many things like skin elasticity & intestinal health. I can’t taste it in there at all.

aloe.jpg

I’ve been able to find it at my local grocery store.

And last…dun dun dun…PROTEIN POWDER!

Boy, isn’t that a hot topic?! Such controversy around protein powder these days. What should you use? Soy? Whey? Hemp? Nothing?

When I first started on a plant based diet Vega protein was the only plant based, non-soy, protein on the market. Now there are SO MANY great plant based protein powders. VitaCost sells pretty much every product on the planet.

I have been using Vega protein for nearly a decade now and I do still like it. Plus Costco sells it so that’s a bonus. But lately (last 2 weeks) I’ve been making an effort to consume less Stevia. If you haven’t noticed, it’s used everywhere now and I’m starting to question if it really is all that healthy? You can google that topic and you’ll get some interesting results. My gut tells me-If it tastes too good to be true, it probably is.

Because Vega does contain stevia I started sampling some different protein powders trying to find an unsweetened alternative. Even “unflavored” protein powder has stevia in it. Weird.

The one I ended up buying and am now using is Raw Protein Unflavored protein.  You wouldn’t want to drink this stuff plain with just water but it is fine in a smoothie. The texture is a little chalky but I can’t really complain- I mean it’s basically a bunch of plants! It also contains digestive enzymes and probiotics so I feel like I’m getting a lot of good stuff at once. And the price is better than Vega too so that’s even better!

My husbands preferred protein powder is Jay Robbs Egg White Protein Vanilla. As the name implies the protein comes from egg whites so it’s generally easier to digest than whey or plant protein.

Alright, this is turning into a novel so I’ll wrap up here with a photo of Rocco! Last weekend we went to visit my Grandmother and we stayed in a hotel that had a fireplace. We bought one of those fire logs and Rocco saw fire for the first time!

rocco

My mom says the caption on this photo should be “Father, how will Santa bring me presents if there’s a fire in the fireplace?”, haha!

The answer of course is that this Santa shops on Amazon so all his gifts come UPS, ha! That reminds me, I just ordered him a really cute coat. Stay tuned…

And of course have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Laura