Fall Flavors: Sweet Treats (all-natural, non-dairy, low-carb, paleo and keto friendly)

As most of you babes know, I LOVE FALL! It is my favorite season because I love the colors, the weather cooling down, the flavors, Halloween…I could go on and on. I am proud to be basic and I am proud to have fallen in love with fall. There will be a ton of delicious recipes for my favorite season, and I already started with some Apple Fritters. However, my fall baking has not ended there. In fact since that post, I have created 3 new recipes that fit my dietary needs, give me the flavors I crave, and are made with all-natural ingredients. I was going to do individual posts, but I thought why not treat you all to 3-in-1!

So, I am going to organize this to the best of my ability. I will of course give my inspiration for creation for each recipe, but I am hoping to make this not too long of a read. I know I have been making some really long blog posts lately (which have felt AMAZING to post) but I know recipes are sometimes left short and…sweet (;

Just so you babes know, these recipes do not require anything too fancy. In fact, I got most of my ingredients at Trader Joe’s. I try to make my recipes lower in cost so you all can enjoy without breaking the bank. I know there are a lot of healthier recipes out there that require ingredients that are $20 each and for me, I cannot justify that! I want to be healthy, enjoy my treats, and still be able to make my student loan payment. Also, I do not know if these recipes are possible to make with regular flour, sugar, or butter because that is not how I choose to bake. I have restrictions in my diet and my blog sort of revolves around those. You are always welcome to try them out with any different ingredients and let me know how it goes! I love hearing about your experiences in the kitchen, and I always cry when I get sent pictures of you babes making my recipes (because it makes me feel like I helped some taste buds!) So, let’s get baking!

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-carb)

IMG_3008_Facetune_25-09-2018-16-28-22Pumpkin bread is one of my favorite fall treats. I used to always grab a piece with a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks before class in my college days. But, it’s definitely a lot more diet and budget friendly to make my own. I wanted to replicate the classic pumpkin flavor, while also making sure to include the spices that match pumpkin so well. With cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger…this bread not only tastes delicious but makes your house smell like fall without lighting a candle! It is a lot denser than typical bread, simply because of the flour used, but it is every bit as delicious and can easily be made as muffins!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-natural honey
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • Sunflower seeds as optional topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and line a bread loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond flour, spices, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the honey, vanilla, and coconut oil. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree to the wet mixture and combine until smooth.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and combine until you have a smooth batter. Be sure that there are no lumps!
  6. Pour your batter into the lined bread loaf pan, and sprinkle sunflower seeds on top.
  7. Gently place in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

“The Laura” Chai Latte Spiced Cookies (gluten-free, paleo, keto, dairy-free, vegan, and low-carb)

IMG_2619_Facetune_11-09-2018-18-49-10Okay, so this one goes out to the wonderful woman I spent all of last fall living in the mountains with…Laura Young! She and I had both changed our entire lives to take on jobs that ended up being absolutely insane. We lived in cabins with no running water or bathrooms, barely any electricity, and the closest town was about 6 miles away and as small as could be. Neither of us lasted long (she lasted longer than I did, of course) because the working conditions were just awful. However, we did experience a lot of fun fall things together, including the strangest haunted house ever and pumpkin searching in the grocery store parking lot. But one of the best memories were the times one of us would make a Starbucks run, because the closest one was about 40 minutes away, we would always bring back a drink for the other. Laura’s favorite fall order is a Venti Pumpkin Chai Latte with Soy. So, in honor of me missing my soul sister (who is now starting a new adventure in D.C.) I decided to make her favorite drink in the form of an Emilee friendly cookie. Laura, if you are reading this, I love you and you better make this. And if you aren’t Laura, then you should also make it and know that these cookies (I made 16) were gone within 2 days at my house! So delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup all-natural honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all of the ingredients (yes, all of them!) in a bowl and combine with an electric mixer.
  3. When all ingredients are combined and a dough is formed, roll into a ball and store in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  4. Once cooled, you can either form 2 inch balls and then flatten them, or you can roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to create shapes. I used the first method, but also tested the second, too!
  5. Place cookies on lined baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookies turn golden brown. I’ve found my oven to bake a bit differently than others.
  6. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool.
  7. Enjoy with homemade cashew milk, or your favorite fall drink!

Pumpkin Butter Thumbprint Cookies using Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter (paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and low carb)

IMG_3010_Facetune_25-09-2018-16-38-09Another one of my favorite treats for fall is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter. It’s absolutely delicious and made out of some pretty clean ingredients. I love the depth of flavors, and that its less than $3 a jar. I’ve always loved thumbprint cookies, whether it is filled with jam or chocolate, but I haven’t tried making them since becoming gluten-free. Luckily, the cookie portion of this is very versatile and is what I consider to be a healthier shortbread. It’s soft and buttery but without actual butter! Plus the flavors in the cookies mix perfectly with the pumpkin butter on top! This is a simple recipe, and another crowd pleaser in my household. Just be sure to store any leftovers in the fridge in an air tight container so they stay edible (pumpkin butter does need to be refrigerated!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut four
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup all-natural honey
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the pumpkin butter. Combine until you have a dough-like consistency and roll into a ball. Place dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Using a tablespoon of dough per cookie, form into small balls. I was able to make about 15. Then, make an imprint in the center of each cookie with your thumb (get it, thumbprint cookies.)
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. Then, repress your thumbprint down into the cookies and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Using a spoon, fill each thumbprint with pumpkin butter.
  6. Let cool in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set!
  7. Enjoy!
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Side Effect #1: Self-Love Allowed Me To Love My Body

IMG_0626This one might seem like a no brainer; when you love who you are you most likely will feel better about the way you look; the mind and body are connected in very deep ways. But the way my body looks hasn’t been as much of a concern as how my body feels. Before I go into the difference between the two ideas, I want to explain my background with body positivity. I mainly want to go through my history so you can all understand that this is something I will always be up and down with, and I hope that you can find it relatable and realistic. Body positivity is the hardest part of self-love for me and it always will be.

I was never ashamed of my looks, until I was. I grew up on stage so I found confidence in myself very early on. I never felt like I was different or wanted to change the way I looked until high school. Bullying started when my weight began to change. Halfway through Freshman year, my body began to hold weight differently and gain weight easier. I was a cheerleader and heavily involved in theatre, and that was when I first started getting severely bullied for my size. I am sure that it was happening behind my back for much longer before it started being said to my face. But when I was finally told to my face by a classmate that I was too fat to play the part in the show that I wanted to play, I felt like that was what every person thought about me. I will never forget that moment and how it made me feel. It sent me into a downward spiral and it seemed to open a door of never ending comments about my only worth being my weight. It made me a mean, unhappy person who strived and begged for acceptance by my peers, which turned into manipulative and verbally abusive “friendships”.

I was told I shouldn’t cheer or dance because no one wants to see my fat jiggling around. My senior year (the heaviest weight I have ever been) I was called a whale in front of a majority of my classmates. I was told by my “friends” at the time that I was too fat to love, and that I needed to do whatever I could to make myself skinny before college began. This started another downward spiral. By the time college had started, I had already been accustom to hiding the fact I wasn’t eating and I was working out way too much. But I didn’t let anyone know this was happening because I “wasn’t skinny enough to have an eating disorder.” I believed this too, as the people in my life who I knew had eating disorders just so happened to also be smaller than I was. But starving myself and running 3 miles a day is a problem. Trying to hide it from others by occasionally eating a cupcake or half a burger but secretly hating myself for eating those calories and trying to run them out is a problem. Losing 50lbs from restriction is self-harm and it is a problem. But I was losing weight, so no one seemed to know happening in such a dangerous way. This story is one I will get into more in-depth someday, but overall my point is that just because someone who is “bigger” is losing weight does not mean it has been in a healthy way. Check in on them.

Suddenly, things changed. I got myself out of a toxic living situation, and out of toxic relationships by being cast in my college musical, and it brought new meaning to eating. I started dance classes again which made me feel whole. I knew I needed to actually eat in order to get through the classes, and with this slowly came weight gain. But it was at first in a positive way. I was gaining weight by going out to eat with friends and socializing. I felt good about my body because I was happy with my life. Surprisingly, I was okay with this. I realized that I loved that my body could create art and that the way I was built was just different than others. And my new friends never made me feel anything less than beautiful, smart, and strong.

Then things changed again, more stress and toxic problems happened causing my next struggle with eating: binging. I would restrict myself by believing coffee and bananas were enough to live off of until dinner, then eat 3 orders of Taco Bell. I was restricting then binging, and this was much harder to stop. I hated myself for it, but eating a ton of food at one time made me feel better mentally. I could eat a Chipotle burrito and chips for dinner, eat 4 pieces of cake afterwards, and tell myself that it was solving all my problems. But in the morning I would be disappointed when I tried to slide my jeans on that no longer fit. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the way I looked, because I still liked parts of my body, but I wasn’t feeling good. It didn’t feel good to not fit in my clothes and to wake up with pain in my stomach and bloating around my face.

Now, I will also explain that although I was eating bad, I also gained so much weight from the hormonal treatments from my chronic condition, adenomyosis. If this condition is new to you, read my post about my story here. I was on and off so many treatments, it messed with my body and mind. It created so much stress and imbalance that my weight gain was deemed normal by medical professionals. It was something I begged to not happen, but the doctors told me I would (while also telling me to lose weight…this was very confusing!). I allowed myself to use this as an excuse just to avoid talking about my binge eating issues. This went on until December 2017, when I weighed almost as much as I did my senior year in high school.

When I started my most recent health journey, it was because I was tired of feeling so incredibly awful. Feeling, not looking. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. It was partially stress/anxiety, but also partially my adenomyosis. So, my new, more understanding doctor and I made a plan. She wanted me to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. I became gluten-free and dairy limited. This was a main part of my inspiration for this blog, to make my new lifestyle a positive experience for myself. Through this, I’ve learned about eating foods that are simple and actually beneficial for you. I’ve tried new foods that are now a major part of what I eat, as well as began craving my own cooking verses eating out. Why? Because eating my own foods made my body feel better. Through this, I’ve lost 20lbs. Not by tracking calories or by restricting what I can and cannot eat, but by learning about balance and realizing how to properly fuel my body and better my relationship with food.

IMG_0488The thing that people don’t often associate with body positivity is weight loss. Because body positivity is all about loving the skin your in, which I stand behind 100%. But there is also the fact that sometimes the skin your in is unhealthy and is causing more problems than you realize. Even though I was okay with the way I looked 20lbs ago and definitely still flaunted what my mama gave me, I was extremely unhealthy. Body positivity, in my eyes, goes hand-in-hand with self-love. And with self-love comes self-care. And with self-care comes healthy habits. I started eating unprocessed and healthier foods as a way to take care of myself because I knew I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed. I started working out again and pushing what I thought were my exercise limits in a healthy way because I knew I needed to move my body and gain muscles.

I realized I wasn’t losing weight because I hated my body. I was losing weight because I wanted to take care of my body.

So yes, weight loss has helped me love my body. But it isn’t just because I look better, but because I feel better. I feel strong, I feel healthy, and I don’t wake up feeling bloated and with a stomach ache that lasts all day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with losing weight for health reasons. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself and your body enough to realize you need to change the way you eat and live your life. Do I still eat potato chips and Taco Bell? Sometimes, yes I do. But I have learned to eat in order to fuel my body, not to make my mind feel better. The way I choose to eat and exercise was made out of self-love and self-care. My weight loss has made me more body positive because I am taking care of my body. I am allowing myself to lose fat and gain muscle, and I will not apologize for loving my body then, now, or in the future.

August 2017 vs August 2018

I know that all of this was a lot, but the bottom line is that my body positivity and confidence is at the level that it is because of the relationship I have created with myself. Over the past 10 months, I have worked so incredibly hard at changing the inside of me and how I thought about myself, and I truly believe that it is showing on the outside. I know how cliché it sounds to say that the inside is what matters and that your inside will shine brighter than your outside, but I am convinced that this is true. I feel healthier, I love who I am, and I love the way I look.

Homemade Cashew Milk (no straining needed!)

IMG_2608_Facetune_11-09-2018-18-42-54I haven’t always been the biggest fan of nut milks. It was a huge adjustment to try to get used to almond and coconut milk. But, I knew limiting how much dairy I consumed (especially milk) would be best for my body, so I have trained myself really well to enjoy it! My favorite milk by far is cashew milk, but it is so much more expensive to buy a decent brand.

What do I mean by a “decent brand”? Well, I mean something with simple, and very few, ingredients that actually benefit our bodies instead of tear them apart. Did you know some brands of nut milk have added preservatives and chemicals so they do not expire as quickly? This makes me feel super uncomfortable because I am trying to find ways to better my health, and if I am giving up animal milk, I shouldn’t be swapping it for something with added chemicals! It is the same thing with nut butters. Read the labels between Jiffy and Sprout’s (which cost the same), and you’ll see that there more than just peanuts in the Jiffy peanut butter.

For awhile now, I’ve been considering making my own nut milk. However, I am uncomfortable with the amount of waste that can come from straining and being left with nut “pulp” (ew?) I know there are ways to reuse the leftovers, but this all seems like a lot of work for the average person. Plus, I know not everyone wants to invest in a cheese cloth or special nut milk bag. So, in true Emilee fashion, I decided to experiment in the kitchen and figure out a way to make some simple cashew milk without having too many complicated steps. And that is just what I did.

I was able to make my cashew milk creamy and dreamy all while controlling what ingredients were added. There are so many varieties of ways to make delicious cashew milk with all natural flavors and I want to make sure that you know just how easy this was. I used mine in my smoothies daily, to dunk in cookies (that recipe is coming soon!), and in a delicious homemade latte. The possibilities with your cashew milk are endless, and it is so easy to make!

IMG_2595One step that I do want to clarify is when I say to “soak your cashews”. This is really important because when nuts/seeds are broken down (such as in a blender or food processor), they release natural chemicals that can be harmful to digestion. The soaking process eliminates this release while also making the nuts/seeds creamier when broken down! It is a MUST if you plan to make milk without straining! I recommend 6-8 hours of soaking because it comes out smoother and with less of a grainy texture. Slow and steady wins the race!

Homemade Cashew Milk Recipe

This makes about 5-6 cups, but you can adjust the recipe to make more or less!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of cashews *note: they must be RAW cashews!
  • 3 cups of filtered water (plus some for soaking!)
  • optional ingredients: local all-natural honey, organic all-natural maple syrup, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, lavender extract, sea salt, or anything else that you want to add to your milk!

Directions

  1. Measure your cashews and place in a bowl. Put enough filtered water in the bowl to cover all the cashews. Place the bowl in a cool, safe place with a light towel over it. Let your cashews soak for 6-8 hours. Remember, this is an important step!
  2. Drain the water from the bowl and rinse your cashews. Place them in your blender with about 1 cup of water to start. Blend for at least 2-3 minutes. This will be very thick and creamy. This step will help decrease how grainy it is.
  3. Then, add another cup of water and repeat the steps until it is at the desired consistency. If your cashew milk is still grainy, keep blending!
  4. Add your choice of flavors/sweeteners. For chocolate cashew milk, try adding 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. For lavender honey, add 1/4 cup of honey, 4 drops of lavender extract, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. For a fall flavor, add 3 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Or for my favorite (and what I made above) add 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract, and 2 pinches of sea salt. 
  5. Blend your ingredients together and store in an air tight container in the fridge. Jars work best!
  6. Let it cool and enjoy for up to a week! It makes a great coffee creamer!

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Side Effects of Self-Love: A New Blog Series

IMG_1930It’s no secret that this year, and to be honest the past 23 years, I have tried my best to practice self-love. It isn’t always easy, but when you do get to that point of freedom, it is a beautiful place to be. I am proud to say that I am fully in love with myself, even on days where I don’t think I am. How did I get to this point? What is the magical key ingredient that has allowed me to be able to state what I did as a fact? How was I able to do this when so many people told me that I shouldn’t?

As I am sure you already guessed, there is no magical key ingredient. Just a lot of time spent with myself, even more time spent reflecting, and of course, learning to accept the things that I cannot change. I have taken the time to be selfish. And I say this without fear of admitting to you that it is me being selfish. As someone who used to go out of her way and make herself be selfless, saying the word “selfish” doesn’t roll easily off the tongue. But I mean this in the way that I focused on needs and what made me feel like the best version of me. I did this because my relationship with myself should always come first. Your relationship with yourself should always come first.

IMG_1936I want to be a therapist. That’s not a secret to those who follow my blog or my Instagram either. It is one of the biggest goals I have for myself. Through plenty of research on how to become a better therapist, I found that the number one way was always the same. You have to not only practice what you preach, but go into this career with your pitcher full. What I mean by this is that you cannot expect to help others if you cannot help yourself first. My pitcher of self-love, acceptance, wellness, and health has to be full before I pour what I have into others. Because no matter what anyone says, you cannot fill glasses with an empty pitcher. So, I quickly realized that I would need to do what it takes to fall in love with myself. And I did.

I cannot explain to you specifically how to do it, because there is no cookie-cutter way. Everyone will have different wants, needs, desires, and situations. But what I can do is tell you what has happened in my life and what I did to fulfill myself. So, I decided to make a new series for my blog about the side effects I’ve had since I began loving myself.

Paleo Gluten-Free Apple Fritter Bites

Fall is my favorite season, and I am so glad that it is finally here. From the color changing leaves to the seasonal holidays, I love all things fall! As a recipe creator it is even easier to create yummy foods when you love all the different flavors. From apple cinnamon to pumpkin nutmeg to rosemary and thyme; this is where my taste buds want to live!

To begin my wonderful fall recipe series, I wanted to take advantage of the delicious apples a family friend brought over, fresh from her tree! They are Macintosh, so they are a perfect balance of sweet and crisp. I couldn’t wait to use cinnamon as a pairing flavor to the perfect apples, but I knew I wanted to be a little bit more creative than an easy apple muffin.

I woke up this morning craving donuts with my coffee. When I would get donuts in the past, I would always get a glazed old-fashioned and an apple fritter. I love the sweet and fruity surprises that apple fritters brought, and that’s when it hit me. I should make an Emilee friendly apple fritter. Aka Paleo, gluten-free, no refined sugar, (and mainly dairy-free)…Thus my creation!

I didn’t want these to be overly sweet or overly heavy. Instead, I wanted an apple fritter that I could use as my morning carb so I would be less tempted to make a breakfast quesadilla (I got addicted and my body deserves better lol). So, I chose to make apple fritter donut holes so I could eat 2 or 3 and be satisfied while also having a properly portioned amount. I also didn’t want to have to try to figure out yeast or anything like that because I am not ready for that kind of commitment. But these little babes turned out amazing! I had no idea that on the first try I would get something so perfectly yummy and my craving satisfied. Not to mention, I now got to have donut holes with breakfast for the next 4 days without ruining my dietary needs. It’s overall a win win.

Paleo Gluten-Free Apple Fritter Bites

I was able to make about 16 2-inch Apple Fritter Bites from this recipe. I probably should have doubled it because my family ate a fair amount as well! And mind you, my family usually questions what I make (but then they try it and are in love!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped apples (Granny Smith or Macintosh work best!)
  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-natural honey
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder.
  3. Next, add the eggs, vanilla extract, honey, and almond milk. Be sure to mix this well so all the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Carefully fold your apples into the mix and try to get them evenly dispersed in the batter.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, take about 2 tablespoons of batter and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet about an inch apart from each other (they should not expand!)
  6. This step is optional, but helps bring moisture into the donuts. Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and mix in cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each donut with the coconut cinnamon mix.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to cool down. Another optional tip: drizzle a tablespoon of honey across the top.
  9. Enjoy while wrapped in a cozy knit blanket, smelling a fall scented candle, and while sipping a pumpkin spice latte (;

Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

IMG_0570I grew up with parent’s who took me on adventures. I do not mean that we always went somewhere exciting or new, but they made even the short walk down the block to get slurpees an adventure. Adventure runs through my veins similarly to the way blood runs through; rushing to my heart quickly, and then my head soon after. However, I never experienced the adventures of constant travel until after I graduated from college. Being bit by the travel bug has brought me through unforgettable experiences and leaves me feverish for more. I guess you could say I really and truly relate to Belle when she sings about wanting “adventure in the great wide somewhere” and wanting it more than she can tell.

Let’s back track a bit to after I graduated from college. I wrote an entire post about it that you can read here, but let’s go over the basics! I went to college in Ventura County and had the time of my life. I then got offered what I thought was a dream job back up in the Bay Area, where I grew up. It was in a small mountain town about an hour from my parent’s house. At first, it was an ideal situation. I was working a job that I thought would be something that would last forever, while also getting to heal from some situations that occurred within my last few years in college. I loved it at first, then suddenly, things took a 180 and now I am doing what I do now. And as wonderful as my life currently is, I am starting to feel way too routined.

But this post isn’t just about having a craving for adventure, but more about what the next step in my life should be. Currently, I am studying for the GRE (which I will be taking mid-September so it’s coming up quickly), as well as applying for my top graduate schools, working for the dance company, building my online health/fitness coaching business, and also volunteering at the hospital and breast cancer center…so it’s going to be a busy fall season! However, I will not be attending school until Fall 2019…so yes, I have an entire year to do more amazing things; and I will not waste that year. I want to travel more, experience life more, and give myself some new beginnings.

Initially, my plan was to move back down to Southern California in January. As of now, the schools I want to attend are down in the LA area and I think it there is a possibility of spending the rest of my life there. I love the communities and friendships I’ve made while down there and I love being able to jump in the car and go to the beach, mountains, and city within 3 hours. Yes, I get that in the Bay Area as well, but I think that I have simply outgrown this area. Especially now that a majority of my closest friends in this area have now moved away. I’m itching to begin a new lifestyle; I am ready to move out of my family’s home (even though they are the best), be on my own, and be living in my twenties!

Like I said before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the life I am currently living. I have a wonderful family, a great job, I’m getting to work hands on with patients, and I am saving money…but the other day I realized that just because the life I am living is fine, doesn’t mean it is the life I should be living.

IMG_0569In the past, I had a lot of fear when it came to living in new places. I lived in the same house, in the same room, until I moved for college. From there I had living drama and some crappy roommates (but also a really great one <3). It gave me a lot of experience but also made me nervous to live with new people and in new places. However, I overcame my fear when I moved back up to the small mountain town because I worked at a camp and lived on-site in a cabin. Now that cabin barely had electricity, had no bathroom, and no cell phone service. This cabin was basically a studio apartment with no kitchen, bathroom, or balcony. Just a plain room. As much as I loved to hate that cabin, I also loved the experience of living in a new town and making new friends and starting a new life..even if it was just temporary. It made me realize that there is a lot of adventure out there and I am young, single, and in need of living my life to the fullest before settling in on a career.

When I start graduate school, it will be a lot of focusing on getting my career where I want it to be. I finally know what I want career wise and I am ready to work towards that…next fall when I start school. But right now, I am not truly sure what is stopping me.  The main things being:

  • Leaving and failing.
  • Money.
  • Disappointing myself/family if I fail.
  • Falling in love with somewhere that isn’t necessarily CA.
  • Not loving where I am living and hating it all.
  • Not making friends.
  • Getting a job I hate.

But these reasons are all “what-if’s”. They are all things that could happen. I’ve always been a planner, and over the past year, I worked on my becoming so much more spontaneous and I love it! But, maybe this is too spontaneous. Maybe this is too much. But what if it turns out to be one of the best experiences in my life? What if it allows me to grow as a person in absolutely brilliant ways? Again, it is filled with what-if’s.

So, what better way to blurt all my thoughts out than blogging? I have so many wonderful people who follow this blog and email me or comment about what I have written. I am hoping maybe, just maybe, I reach someone who has done something like this before. Moved for about a 5-6 month time span in a place where they know possibly no one and have maybe never even been. What would you do? Would you stay where it is safe, where you can save money, and where you can continue your typical routine…or would you change it all for an adventure that may or may not be successful? Comment below or send me an email!

Red, White, and Blue Low-Sugar Desserts That Won’t Destroy Your Diet!

I am a huge fan of 4th of July. The sparklers, fireworks, bbq Foods, beach, sun, swimming, and desserts; all wonderful things that come even better with good company. I’ve always been a fan of spending the whole day and night celebrating and having a good time. This year however, I don’t want all the crazy added sugar. So, I decided to recreate some of my favorites with less sugar, better-for-you ingredients, and of course gluten-free ingredients. These desserts might not please every diet, so just keep that in mind! They can also be made to fit the need of other holidays by using different colors and themes! Personalization is a choice.

White Chocolate Covered Fruit

I love chocolate covered fruit. It is seriously one of my all time favorite things to eat and I don’t think that will ever change. I like the fact that something natural and nutritious can easily be made into a dessert. So, how did I transform this into a better-for-you dessert? I used all-natural white chocolate from the brand SunSpire Fair Trade. This allowed me to be in control of what ingredients I added to the fruit. If I am being 100% honest, the sprinkles are NOT anything special. They are regular ol’ sprinkles, and that’s okay! I decided to make white chocolate covered strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. My family approved and I cannot wait to take them with me for 4th of July festivities.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of SunSpire Fair Trade All-Natural White Chocolate Chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Red and blue sprinkles
  • Any fruit you wish to cover in chocolate

Directions

  1. Wash and dry your fruit. Make sure it is completely dry so you don’t get any water in the chocolate.
  2. Cut your bananas into thirds and store all the fruit in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes. This is so the chocolate has an easier time hardening because the fruit is cold.
  3. In a microwaveable bowl, add 1/2 your chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Microwave for about 30 seconds, and mix ingredients together.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. As you dip your fruit in the chocolate, line up on the baking sheet carefully. I suggest not doing too much at one time to avoid the chocolate hardening before you can put the sprinkles on.
  5. There are different ways to add sprinkles and I think you should be as creative as you want!
  6. Let chill in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving. So yummy!

Simple GF Blueberry Loaf Cake

Again, all about honesty here, this did not turn out the way I had planned. However, it came out so delicious that I couldn’t help but share the success with you all. The original plan was to use blue berries and beets to create a swirl in the bread, but I just didn’t use enough! I could have easily used food coloring, but I wanted to make this cake as all natural as possible…and the blueberries added a little color without too much blueberry flavor which was the goal. My family has already finished the half I set aside for them!! So, how did I make a cake healthier but still moist and delicious? I used 100% pure maple syrup and a little bit of stevia. I also used gluten-free flour and coconut oil in place of butter. These simple switches can help make eating cake a little less of a guilty pleasure.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup All-natural maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons stevia
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F. Then, line a loaf mold with parchment paper.
  2. With a hand mixer, combine your dry ingredients. Then slowly add your wet ingredients. Very simple and easy.
  3. Set aside 1/4 cup of batter. Pour the rest in your loaf mold.
  4. On medium high heat, break down the blueberries with 1 tablespoon water. Drain 4 tablespoons of the liquid into a cup and save the rest of the mix in an air tight container for oatmeal in the morning (trust me it’s delicious.)
  5. Mix the batter left aside with the blueberry liquid. Drizzle on top of the plain loaf and use a toothpick to create swirls.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove, serve, and enjoy!