What I’m loving lately: Beauty edition

My daily beauty routine is very simple: Wash face, moisturize, mascara, maybe blush, a gloss or chapstick and GO.

I’ve never been one to wear a lot of makeup or use a lot of product. My hair is mostly straight and it is very healthy. I’ve never dyed it, I always air dry and I only use hot tools a few times each month. My skin is mostly clear except for the occasional stress-induced breakout from time to time. And, while this is not a proven fact backed by my doctor, I attribute my clear skin to healthy eating, regular hot yoga and my obsession with hydration.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love fake eyelashes and red lips. But, many makeups cause my skin to break out and I don’t love that caked-on feeling.

Here are some of my favorite products…

Face wash

Japanese beauty products are on another level. This Shiseido product isn’t “all natural,” but it leaves my skin feeling super clean. It removes any oil, but doesn’t dehydrated.

I’ve used this brand ever since I met Ryo. Every time we go — or a family member goes —  to Japan, this face wash comes back. My second favorite after Shiseido Uno is St. Ives apricot scrub.beauty face

Lotion

I’m a nighttime shower kind of person since I’m usually working out or teaching classes around dinner time. Also, I like to wash my hair then to rid it of sweat and let it air dry. In the mornings, I hop in the shower quick to rinse and wash my face (with Shiseido Uno). When I get out I apply body and face lotions. Right now I’m loving this Victoria’s Secret body butter. Again, not “all natural” but it’s paraben free.

For my face, I use yes to carrots because SPF is important and carrots make you glow (HowToEatRD has told me that for our entire friendship).

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Foundation

So, this actually isn’t foundation… it’s Smarty Plants CC with SPF 20. I was a little skeptical about this CC cream at first but it was love at first application. Most days, I toss it on right after my moisturizer. Smarty Plants “instantly and intuitively color corrects and visibly perfects so you look radiant and flawless without any fuss.” Seriously.  Plus, it has SPF. After this, I usually apply my Clinique cheek balm and Origins mascara and I’m good to go.

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Makeup

I listed a few of the makeup products that I use above. These two came in POPSUGAR Must Have boxes. First up is this Oh My Brow! brow highligher. I add a touch to my brows and the inner corners of my eyes. Then, this Smith & Cult lip lacquer. It’s the perfect pop of color without being too, too bold.

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Mask

I love this Origins Clear Improvements charcoal mask. I’ve used it for a couple of years about once per week. If you are looking for a new mask, I highly suggest it.

Side note: Can you tell I LOVE Origins? Plus, they have great customer service. When a new perfume leaked all over my purse, I sent a note and then mailed me a new one right away.

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Sunscreen

This All Good sunscreen stick has really come in handy. I wear SPF on my face every day, but I don’t apply it everywhere unless I know I’ll be in the sun. I keep this sunscreen stick in my purse/makeup bag to cover areas (like my tattoos) when I’m out in the sun unexpectedly. It’s been great to have on vacations, too!

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I’d love to hear about your favorite beauty products! Do you use natural products? Have you tried making your own? Sound off below.

 

 

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Raw Super Seedy Granola Bars

Like KIND snacks? You’ll love these bars. They are raw, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free too. The natural sweetness comes from the dates and maple syrup or honey (your choice). The protein comes from almond butter and various seeds.

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These bars are totally customizable. If you need a little extra sweetness, add dried fruit or mini chocolate chips. If you don’t love raw oats, try brown rice cereal or toast your oats in the oven ahead of time. (Find a great toasting method here or here).

Raw Super Seedy Granola Bars

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup packed dates, pitted

1 Tbsp coconut oil

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup raw nut butter (I like chunky almond butter)

1 cup gluten free oats

¼ cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp hemp seeds

Directions

  1. Before you get started, soak your dates for 15-30 minutes. Dates are all different sizes, so pack them into a 1 cup measuring cup to make sure you have enough. Then place them in a bowl and cover with water.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of coconut oil in small/medium sauce pot over low heat. Once your dates soften, drain the water, chop them roughly and add them to the pot. Next, add the nut butter and maple syrup (or honey). Stir constantly until everything melts together.
  3. When the dates are mostly melted down, remove the pot from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Line a 9×9 baking pan or bread pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Pack the raw, super seedy granola bar mixture into the pan. Use excess parchment or plastic to press down on the top and pack it tightly.
  5. Set aside to cool and solidify. To accelerate this process, place your pan in the freezer. Once solid, use a sharp knife to cut your portions. Store in an air-tight container in a cool dark spot for the week. The fridge or freezer is my go-to spot.

Enjoy! Tell me how you’ll customize these in the comments below.

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#SHSHtravel: Big Island, Hawaii

In this #SHSHtravel post, we are talking Hawaii — the Big Island in particular. Ryo and I joke all the time that we are bad at relaxing on vacation and this trip was no different. There are always so many people to see, places to go and mountains to climb!

My top three on this trip were…

  1. Hiking down to — and back up from — Captain Cook’s Monument
  2. Snorkeling/getting pummeled by waves
  3. Last-minute visit to the Valley of the Kings trail

Before leaving for any vacation, I pack snacks — lots of snacks. The reasons for doing so are endless, starting with… 1. I’m always snacking, 2. I’m hypoglycemic, 3. My mom tells me to, 4. Sometimes I’m picky about food and what’s in it.

Getting there

Getting out of Boston was a struggle: Our first plane had a mechanical issue, our second plane was overweight so the airline started paying passengers in vouchers to get off, and then we missed our connection in San Francisco and had to wait a few hours for the next flight out.

When we finally got to the big island a several hours later than expected, our luggage was no where to be found and wouldn’t be there until the next day. The kicker — we were in sweatpants and long sleeves because it was winter in Boston. Lucky for us, the local Walmart was open and we were able to get some shorts and t-shirts for the next day.

First few days in Kona

We put on our new Walmart outfits and headed out. Our luggage wouldn’t be at the airport until 1pm and we didn’t want to waste our morning.  We explored some beaches around our AirBnB and then headed into Kona to see what the town was all about.

During the rest of our stay in Kona we at some great food, drank some delicious beer and explored some lava fields.

Journey to the rainforest

Our next AirBnB was by-far my favorite. I almost wish we had stayed there the entire trip. We left Kona and headed toward Captain Cook Monument trail. I didn’t do too much research, but when we arrived we saw signs that hiking shoes were highly recommended. Luckily, we had hiking shoes. But, what we didn’t have a lot of water and snacks.

We didn’t let that deter us. I had read that it was a great trail and the snorkeling at the bottom of the trail was amazing. It was about 3.6 miles roundtrip and a 1,300 foot elevation gain. Off we went!

 

The trail to the monument was downhill. As we walked, I tried not to think about how difficult the walk back up would be in the heat.  The trail was rocky, dry and felt like the Sahara Desert (not that I’ve been there before). Getting to the bottom was relatively easy. The monument itself was underwhelming but the views were great. There were only a handful of hikers there, other sightseers came by boat.

We won’t talk about the hike back up, but the rest of the journey to our rainforest cabin included scenic of coastlines, volcanos at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and malasadas at Punalu’u Bake Shop.

Rainforest stay

Our AirBnB in Pāhoa was on the edge of the Puna Forest Reservation. It was a little hippy town and the perfect escape from it all. Our first full day there was my birthday and all I wanted was lava and snorkeling and homemade dinner. Needless to say, we were in the perfect place.

The next day was just as fun-filled… starting with A HELICOPTER RIDE over some active volcanoes and to some waterfalls. Then we swam with turtles and climbed to the edge of one of those waterfalls.

Journey to our last stop

We ended the vacation with two nights in a resort because… why not? The beach was beautiful and it allowed us to relax a bit. On the drive there, we drove up — well, half way up — Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano standing 4,207 meters above sea level. We couldn’t make it all the way up in our tiny rental car. Heck, getting half way was tough.

On our last day, our flight was delayed so we took the few hours and made one last trip out to Pololu Valley. Yeah, great decision.

If you’re traveling to the Big Island and have any questions, comment below! We loved it there and would go back in a heartbeat. Interested in more of our travel posts? Check out my posts below and follow our cheesy # on Instgram, #EmiryoTravels:

 

#SHSHtravel: Kyoto, Tokyo, Okinawa and more

I’m back and [finally] free of all jet lag symptoms. Before too much time passes, I wanted to share some highlights from our trip including my travel snacks, workouts and sightseeing activities.

Prepping for a big trip is one of my favorite activities. In 2016, we went to Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and escaped Boston for a handful of weekend trips. Japan was our biggest trip of the year. This wasn’t my first time in Japan, but that didn’t make it any less exciting!

We left on Thursday, October 6th, and returned on Wednesday, October 19th. Getting there — and getting back — took just under 24 hours of planes, trains and automobiles. During those hours, I like to make sure we are snacking and well-fed. (Half of my carryon was snacks and there were raisins, almonds, Justin’s nut butters and Larabars in my suitcase.) Airport food options can be unpredictable and unfavorable at times. Here are scenes from our journey from Boston > Japan:

We started our trip in Kyoto – where Ryo’s family is from.  We arrived and had enough time to settle in, get dinner and then sleep off the travel sleepiness.

 

We spent our first full day in Nara, known for its free-roaming deer and Tōdai-ji, a Buddhist temple with Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statue.

We started with those two touristy things, then traveled off the beaten path towards the abandoned Nara Dreamland. The theme park – a photographer’s dream – has been out of commission since 2006. Disney Tokyo and other popular amusements might be to blame.

We snuck in through a hole in the fence and quietly started roaming around. We saw a couple other groups of travelers from a distance, but didn’t have any security guard sightings until we were at the top of the Screw Coaster. Lucky for us, we weren’t spotted and were able to continue our exploration.

Here is a weird video my friend put together and pics from our exploration:

Unfortunately for you, demolition of the park began a few days after we were there. Perfect timing on our part. After the heart-pounding experience, we rewarded ourselves with zaru soba. Later we had gyoza from Chao Chao by the Kamo River and beers at AB. Pro tip for Chao Chao: Order it as takeout! The line is long, but if you don’t mind skipping the sit down experience, they’ll take to-go orders on the spot.

On the second day we hiked Mt. Hiei in Kyoto. The top promised an amazing view which didn’t disappoint. That night, we had more friends arriving in Kyoto and met up for a rewarding tonkatsu dinner at Katsukura (the best I’ve ever had).

The next two days in Kyoto were spent showing our friends some beautiful temples and shrines. One morning, I got up for a run by the Kamo River. The next day I headed into Imperial Palace Park down the street for a bench workout.

The last night everyone was in Kyoto, Ojiichan also treated us all to an amazing dinner at Ganko that will never be forgotten.

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It broke my heart, but we had to say goodbye to Ojiichan (who spent 2 months with us in Boston prior to our trip to Japan). We were off to Tokyo to spend time with friends… and eat… and drink… a lot.

Day one in Tokyo I hustled everything onto a train — OK, a few trains — to Nikko. It took about 2 hours to get there, but I had been dying to go for a while. Here is why: Brightly painted, moss-covered temples and gorgeous waterfalls. We ended the night with dinner and drinks at an cheap izakaya.

 

On the second full day in Tokyo, we wandered around Shibuya, Harajuku and Akihabara. Later that night, we met friends for Korean BBQ and karaoke in Shinjuku.

 

On Sunday, I got up to stretch and do a quick circuit workout. We spent the morning packing up and getting ready for our journey to Okinawa. This was our last big stop and the one I was most excited about. The main island of Okinawa is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The island is best known for being a strategic location for the U.S. Armed Forces since the end of WWII. Culture on the island is more laid back than the Japanese mainland and has a lot of American influence. It felt like the Big Island of Hawaii (which we visited back in March).

It got up in the mornings to stretch and read on a nearby resort beach.

 

We were there for two days and had a car (highly recommended). On day one, we road tripped to some waterfalls and coastal sites I had mapped out. On day two, we took the morning to drive to two more sites including Nakagusuku Castle ruins.

We finished out time in Okinawa off with a couple bowls of noodles and then hit the airport for one last ride to Osaka. Our night in Osaka was short — too bad. We grabbed some gifts, conveyer belt sushi and called it a night. We were up early to start our journey home.

It’s hard to pick one highlight from this trip. But the most humbling was our last 24 hours in Kyoto. Ojiichan showed us some of his photography and we spent hours going through photo albums from his years of traveling (there are A LOT) of photo albums. The morning we left for Tokyo was emotional. We went for a walk to the Kamo River and then headed home to catch our taxi to Kyoto Station. Before we departed, Ojiichan shared a poem. It was in Japanese, but went something like this:

The things that I enjoy most about life:

To be able to walk,

to be able to converse,

and to want to drink sake.

It’s so simple. A simplicity we can all hope to treasure as we age.

October’s PopSugar Must Have Box

Sometimes I feel like the Must Have Box is tailored to me. September’s box was full of goodies perfect for wedding season. I was in my yoga soulmate’s wedding (how gorgeous is Lisa!?) and my cousin Taryn’s wedding (thinking about it still takes my breath away).

 

This month, it’s like the crew at PopSugar knew that body wash, makeup wipes and eyeliner were on my shopping list. And, how perfect is it that they put Lisa Sugar’s new book — currently in my Amazon cart — in there too!?

The night I opened the box, it was raining in Boston. To my delight… a Henri Bendel umbrella!

 

I’m looking forward trying out all of these goodies — especially cozying up with my new much and a cup of hot cocoa.

POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try. If you are interested in getting a Must Have Box in the mail every month… sign up here! Use the code SHOP5 (which never expires) to get $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box!

 

Baked pumpkin pie oatmeal recipe

It’s October! Which means that it’s pumpkin season.

I’m not a huge fan of PSLs or other pumpkin sweets, but I do love adding canned pumpkin to my oats, smoothies and creamy soups. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and vitamin A which helps fill you up and keep your immune system healthy.

Here are some of my existing pumpkin-y posts:

And now, a pumpkin baked oatmeal! This was so easy to make, and like many oat dishes, you can customize. If you are baking for a crowd, double the recipe and use a bigger pan.

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Baked pumpkin pie oatmeal

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 cups gluten free oats

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 ripe banana

1 can pumpkin pure

2 eggs

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Optional: Add-ins like raisins, cacao nibs, chocolate chips, banana slices, nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degress F. Lightly grease an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with coconut oil or vegetable oil. Note: parchment paper works, too!
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the banana. Stir in the pumpkin pure until well-combined.
  3. Next add the eggs, almond milk, maple syrup and spices. After the liquids are incorporated, stir in the oats, chia seeds and any additional ingredients (see “Optional” for ideas”).
  4.  Add the batter to the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

Enjoy with nut butter, fresh fruit or on top of yogurt.

Yoga with weights workout + graphic

A lot of people — like me — start practicing yoga for the physical benefits. They are drawn to the physical challenge or the deep stretch. When I started practicing, I was drawn to sweat-inducing, heated power vinyasa classes because I was seeking something very physical and very challenging.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But, as I practiced more, I realized that it wasn’t the physical aspect that kept me coming back to class, it was the post-yoga bliss, mental clarity and stress relieving aspects. That said, most days I still want something really challenging… which is where hand weights come in.

This month, my Boston Magazine post explains five weighted yoga poses. Head there for detailed instructions for getting into each posture. On this post, download — and share! — my fancy infographic and do this workout at home. Below the graphic, find gifs demonstrating the yoga with weights workout.

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Here is each move broken down. Remember: Safety first! If you feel as though a pose isn’t safe for your body, modify or drop the weights and do the arm motion unweighted.

Comment below with any questions/concerns about this yoga with weights routine.

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Crescent lunge with bicep curl

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Goddess with front arm raise

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Eagle (or chair pose) with fly

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Boat pose with draw bridge

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Plank with row

September’s POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Goodies from this month’s POPSUGAR Must Have box were perfect Lisa and Matt’s wedding weekend. As you can see from the gorgeous pictures below, their wedding was nothing short of perfection.

The powerful couple planned every little detail thoughtfully and were generous enough to include family and friends in the ceremony/reception. It takes a village… and man, do they have a mighty village.

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Pretty, pretty bridesmaids! #schulzeordersaburger

A post shared by Artistrie Co. (@artistrieco) on

 

 

I deep conditioned with Briogeo a couple days before. I wasn’t crazy about the scent at first, but my hair felt great afterwards… so thumbs up!

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I gave myself a quick mani/pedi the night before using the NCLA Mani E.R. kit. This will also come in handy on my upcoming trip across the world!

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And I ate The Gluten Free Bar bites with friends on the drive out.

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Also in the box was a great lip lacquer from Smith and Cult, a hat from Jack & Lucy and a chic lint roller by FLINT.

I love getting surprises in the mail — especially when they are stylist, delicious, useful and/or timely. Get your POPSUGAR Must Have Box next month by signing up here. Use the code SHOP5 to get $5 off their FIRST Must Have Box!

Note: POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try, but the opinions are my own. The Must Have Box is an artfully curated monthly subscription box filled with full-sized surprises valued at over $100, for only $39.95. You can also get the Must Have MINI — a specially curated MINI monthly subscription box filled with a smaller selection of full-sized surprises for only $18.95.

20-minute circuit workout ( + a graphic!)

Looking for a quick, no-equipment workout? Look no further.

This routine takes about 20 minutes to do 3 times through. If you have more than 20 minutes to spare do each circuit 5 times through, or do a 10-minute walking/jogging warm up and a 5-minute stretch at the end.

If you need to see a move-by-move breakdown, check out my post on Boston Magazine.. Share and pin using #SHSHfitness!

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Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

One of my favorite smoothies to get at my gym’s juice bar is a chocolate berry concoction. It features frozen cherries, strawberries, cashews, dates, maca and raw cacao powder — just a few of my favorite things. But, as much as I love this smoothie, I can’t spend $9 every time I workout. It’s not smart… I can totally make this at home.

My routine lately has been to make a big batch of my chocolate cherry smoothie, then freeze it in mason jars for the week. The smoothie recipe below makes two servings, so double it up if you want do the same.

Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about the smoothie’s ingredients. First things first, stock your pantry with…

  • Raw Cacao Powder ($8-$10): TruVibe brand FTW. The price of this ranges month-to-month, but right now it is only $8.50 on Amazon for 16 oz.
  • Chia seeds ($7-$10): I buy TruVibe chia seeds too. Right now, they are $7.99 on Amazon for a 16 oz. bag, which is one of the best deals I’ve seen.
  • Raw, plant-based protein powder (~$3o-$40): The price varies depending on what brand you buy. Every couple of months, Whole Foods does a 25% off protein/supplements sale. It’s totally worth it to stock up IMO. Plus, usually you can get an extra $5 off with the coupon on the container or from the nice human handing out samples.

These ingredients — totaling ~$50 — will get you through about 30 chocolate cherry smoothies. Thirty of my favorite gym smoothie would cost me… $270. Just sayin’.

  • Very Cherry Blend from Trader Joe’s ($2.99): But, any mixed berries work. Or, just go all in with the frozen cherries.
  • Coconut Water from Whole Foods ($3.29): It is 100% natural with no added nonsense, which is my fav! Plus, it’s cheaper than other brands and comes in a HUGE carton (4 servings).
  • Bananas (so cheap): I buy a bunch of bananas, peel them, break them in half, and then store them in the freezer.

Cherry cocoa smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

8 oz frozen Very Cherry Blend (or other frozen mixed berries)

2 cups coconut water + more filtered water if needed

2 frozen bananas

1 scoop plant-based vanilla protein*

3 Tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp chia seeds

*I use 1 scoop because my Garden of Life protein is 170 calories per scoop. Depending on what your protein’s nutrition content is, you might want more or less than 1 scoop.

  1. Place the bananas and berries in the blender first. Next, add the coconut water followed by everything else.
  2. Blend until smooth, adding 1/4 cup more filtered water at a time if needed.
  3. Divide into two — or three — servings. Freeze one, and consume the other.

For another chocolaty smoothie, try my Mint Cacao Smoothie.

#SHSHtravel: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland

June’s vacation was magical. Last year we road-tripped down the California coast. This time we took on the Pacific Northwest. What I loved most about the PNW: Nature is so accessible. Fresh air and beautiful landscapes are only a short drive or bike ride away from downtown. It’s incredible.

Here are some highlights from the trip!

First stop: Vancouver, BC

Saturday we got in town late afternoon. We had time to do a little city exploring, food shopping and went out to get the BEST DINNER EVER. We spoiled ourselves on the first night with amazing Japanese food from Kitanoya Guu Original (Thurlow).

We were staying downtown in a high-rise >> check out this view:

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Sunday was rain forest exploration day. We spent the $$$ and went to Capilano Suspension Bridge first thing in the morning. We wanted to beat the crowds… and, man, am I glad we did.

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Next stop was Shannon Falls and an attempt to hike up The Chief — or at least to the first checkpoint — but we were low on fuel and didn’t pack enough snacks for that.

 

Dinner was brown rice paste, veggies and sausage. It’s our go-to meal while traveling. The sausage doubles as breakfast sausage on homemade breakfast sammies for Ryo.

 

Monday morning was spent in Lynn Valley and then on a Stanley Park bike ride with leftovers for lunch. It was out last night in Vancouver, so we splurged and went to Forage for dinner. So delicious!

 

Second stop: Seattle, WA

On Tuesday we caught an early train (like, 6:30am early). After a drive down the coast we landed in Seattle. We grabbed our rental car, put on comfy shoes (pic below) and headed right downtown to get lunch. Our first stop was touristy Pike’s Place Market.

 

I grabbed a coffee, we checked out the “gum wall,” then braved the crowds to find  delicious food to eat. The line at Piroshky, Piroshky wasn’t super long… so we hopped in. After more exploring downtown, we checked into our AirBnB and settled in for a quick workout, dinner at home and Game of Thrones.

 

The next morning (Wednesday), we planned a long hike followed by lunch on the road and dinner with friends. Our first stop was Snoqualmie Falls where we caught a couple rainbows in the morning light.

 

Our hike was to Snow Lake in North Bend, WA. The hike was about 7 miles total and covered a variety of terrains (grassy mountainside, rocky mountainside, snowy mountainside…). The view at the top was … well… amazing.

 

Here is some post hike fuel!

Also while in Seattle, I had to check out The Grinning Yogi (Thursday and Friday). The studio was on the same list as EveryBodyFights for top Instagrammable gyms. Crazy me didn’t even take a pic inside for IG. I was too busy riding the bliss train.

The rest of our time in Seattle was spent with friends… drinking good beer, sipping on good coffee, listening to good music and eating good food. We explored as many neighborhoods as we could and — of course — got rained on a lot.

Third stop: Portland, OR

No surprise, Portland was my favorite. It’s small, artsy and clean. There is a huge emphasis on sourcing locally and shopping small. Stores are also filled with handmade, natural treasures… oh, and the  food scene is great. When we arrived in Portland from Seattle (Saturday), we headed right out for lunch. I got Wolf & Bear. Ryo got a too-big-for-his-belly katsu-curry meal.

We weren’t in Portland long, so we spent the first day exploring the city and tracking down some friends. The next day (Sunday), we hiked around so waterfalls and stopped at scenic points along the Columbia River Gorge.

 

Later that night, we met up with friends who were just arriving in Portland ( — they are moving there)! They had just finished their cross-country journey, so we chatted about that and life in Portland.

Our trip was amazing. I didn’t want to leave… but reality called. What I loved most about this trip was time spent outside exploring mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. We also saw a lot of friends who moved out there recently — making it feel like home. Who knows, maybe it will be our home soon… ;)

What summer trips do you have planned?

What I’m Loving Lately: June 2016 Edition

It has been a while since my last little “personal” check-in. In June, I was less busy than usual — which was refreshing. I had more time to practice yoga, more time to spend with friends and more time to cook — three things that are very important to me.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve collected some photos and notes to share with you. Below find some things I’m loving lately. Then head over to my vacation recap to hear about my trip to the Pacific Northwest!

Local Favorite: Nutty Life

If you follow me on social media, you know that I love Nutty Life. Exciting news for Nutty Life… storefront coming so, so soon! (Congrats!) I recently visited Caroline at the SoWa outdoor market in the South End to buy a carton of chocolate cashew milk.

 

I used some for coffee, the rest went into chia seed pudding! Place 2-3 Tbsp of chia seeds in a 8 oz mason jar, then fill the rest with Nutty Life.

Next, I’m buying that new matcha flavor!

Dinner Obsession: Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Ryo and I have cooked these every weekend (…seriously). Chicken kabobs are the perfect, healthy summertime meal. Stay tuned for some marinade recipes! In the meantime, what is your favorite grilled chicken spice or marinade?

 

We’ve even recruited out friends to eat kabobs with us.

 

Favorite Recipe: Vegan Brownies

These brownies were a long time in the making (i.e. lots of experiments and failures). I love taking advantage of naturally sweet ingredients like sweet potatoes for desserts. This recipe also has added sweetness from dates. Make these for a treat throughout the week. They also make for a great pre-workout snack.

New Shopping Destination: Thrive Market

Sign up and get a discount using my code! You get free swag your first time around — and great deals after that. Find healthy items like chia seeds, flaxseed, quinoa, coconut oil and coconut flour on Thrive Market for less than you would in the grocery story. Note, Thrive is a subscription-based program that might be worth the yearly membership if you buy these things a lot!

Snacking: Avocado on Rice Cake

I teach a lot of classes that start between the hours of 5pm and 6pm. Usually, I eat lunch around 1 or 2, so before teaching I’m not ready for a meal just yet. This avocado snack is perfect! It is not too heavy, but filling enough to power me through teaching.

Summer Lovin’: #POFitness

It has begun and the first class was 85 strong! The free fitness scene in Boston is STRONG. Take advantage!

Kitchen Gadget: Spiralizer

Beet noodles and curly sweet potato fries are my new staple. Did you catchy my recipe up on Boston Magazine? If you like beets, you’ll like this salad.

WOO!: The Wayfair Cookbook

It’s here, the Wayfair Simply Summer Recipes cookbook! Check out my Roasted Red Pepper Dip recipe. The recipe book is free to download and features a number of Boston bloggers.

Subscription box: PopSugar Must-Have Box

Who doesn’t love surprises? June’s PopSugar Must-Have Box was perfect for my vacation. Get your box by subscribing here. The full-size box is only ~$40 — less if you buy 3-month or 6-month packages. These also make GREAT gifts!


What are you lovin’ lately? Share below!

Coconut Banana Smoothie

Smoothie number two at the most recent Shake & Shake event in Boston Public Market was a simple and filling “white” smoothies to fit into the red, white and blue-ish theme.

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This white smoothie was the creamiest out of the three and also packed the most protein. Dairy-free or vegan folks beware, this one has yogurt. If you are dairy-free, definitely consider making this with your favorite coconut, soy or almond milk yogurt. (I vote coconut milk yogurt!)

The rest of the ingredients are simple and add enough natural sweetness to even satisfy a dessert craving. To ensure you always have frozen bananas on hand, I advise buying a half dozen to peel, break in half, then store in the freezer.

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For a filling meal, top this smoothie with berries and touch of granola for crunch. It makes a great smoothie bowl base!

Coconut Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 frozen bananas

1 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp nut butter

2 dates

1 cup coconut water

2 Tbsp coconut flakes (for topping or blend in)

Directions

If your dates are not soft, let them soak in water for 30-60 minutes before blending.

Add all of the ingredients to a blender, starting with the banana and yogurt. Blend until creamy and smooth.

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Serve immediately. Drink through a straw or enjoy as a smoothie bowl base.

Vegan Sweet Potato Brownies

Go ahead, have dessert. I always save room dessert because, well, sweets make me happy. But, like you’ve heard from me before, dessert doesn’t need to be decadent and bad for you to taste good.

I’ve made black bean brownies before, but wanted to try something a little different this time around. These gluten-free and vegan sweet potato brownies are sweetened naturally and are actually good for you — seriously!

We’ll be making and tasting these brownies at my next Om, Nom event on Sunday, June 12. Come for 60-minutes of yoga followed by a cooking demo. You’ll leave with some tasty treats in hand. Sign up on MoveWith.com.

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Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Vegan Sweet Potato Brownies

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup of mashed sweet potato

1/2 cup medjool dates

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 flax egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp almond milk*

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup gluten free oats, ground into flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4-1/3 chocolate chips of choice

*You may or may not need the almond milk depending on how thick your batter is. Sometimes leftover sweet potatoes loose some of their moisture making the almond milk necessary.

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Directions

  1. Soak the dates: Grab a 1/2 measuring cup. Start by pulling the dates in half and removing the pits if necessary. As you go, place the dates in your measuring cup. once you have a heaping 1/2 cup, add the dates to a bowl with water and set aside for 30-60 minutes to soften.
  2. Cook your sweet potato: Microwave or bake 1 medium sweet potato with the skin on. Let cool and then peel the skin off ( — it should be easy). Mash the sweet potato and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process the dates (drained from the water). Add the sweet potato and coconut oil. Transfer the processed ingredients to a mixing bowl. Fold in the flaxseed egg (or real egg) and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the oat flour cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. This is the point where you’ll know if you need the almond milk — add one tablespoon at a time until you are able to combine the wet with the dry. The batter will be thicker than regular brownies.
  5. Line a small baking pan (loaf pan or slightly bigger) with parchment paper. Spread the batter evenly using a spatula.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Time depends on how thick your brownies are.
  7. Cool your vegan sweet potato brownies completely before slicing and serving.

Beet Noodle Salad with Goat Cheese

Beets are a scary ingredient. For starters, red beets stain everything and anything in their path — your counters, wooden cutting boards, kitchen towels and hands.

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When dealing with juicy beets, it’s important to prepare for a mess. Have paper towels and un-stainable surfaces ready. Given their shape, beets are also tricky to peel and prep for the spiralizer. Use caution and be patient.

Here is what you’ll need…

3 raw beets, spiralized
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby spinach or arugula, chopped
2 ounces goat cheese
½ cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, pepitas, almonds, or pistachios work well)

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Learn how to make it over on Boston Magazine.