Pumpkin-Coconut Protein Balls

CANT.STOP. Y’all! I am obsessed. This is a slight modification on the recipe i’ve done in the past and I am hooked! One batch of these will make a solid 15-20 little snacks that you can keep in the freezer for a lil pick-me-up! Recipe below! Enjoy!

This is a loose-recipe - I made these on a whim today but to my best memory here we go! Taste and adjust along the way

Ingredients:

  • unsweetened coconut shreds

  • 1/3 cup pureed organic pumpkin puree

  • 3 pitted medjool dates

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews

  • 1/3 cup almonds or hazelnuts

  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds

  • 1 tsp ginger powder

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons non dairy milk

  • 1/3 cup raw coconut butter

  • 2 scoops Arbonne Vanilla Protein (if you want to add more you can also use Protein Boost which has no flavor)

  • Cacao nibs

  • Other things you can add:

Directions:

  1. Add all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly

  2. Add coco butter, pumpkin puree and milk and pulse until a dough forms

  3. Roll into balls and freeze (stays good for up to 3 months if in freezer)

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Farmers Market Hacks

I am a HUGE fan of farmers markets. Not only can you find the freshest and yummiest options but Farmers Market are usually more affordable than the grocery store! Some of my top hacks are:

  1. Get there RIGHT when it opens (or early in the am) - especially on the weekends Farmers Markets can get crowded and picked over. Early bird gets the worm… amiright…?

  2. Get cash out for the total amount you want to spend - for example I usually bring $20 - $30 to spend for a week's worth of food which is AMAZING - this also helps me budget and know how much I have left to spend

  3. Do a loop first - take a walk about and check out what every stand has to offer! I like to shop from the stands that have majority of what I am getting so I can knock it out in one swoop!

  4. BYOB - bring your own bags! or a cart if you are flying solo so you don’t have to run back to the car every time!

  5. Make your shopping list beforehand. If you are like me… I get SO overwhelmed when food shopping and if I don’t go in with an intention I end up spending more than I meant to and getting food I don’t know what to do with.

My Farmers Market Checklist:

  • Eggs

  • Veggies (I usually see what’s in season but along the lines of: okra, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, zucchini, etc) I love to bake these or use as sides for main meals

  • Fruit (again - eat in season - but something like: bananas, berries, apples, peaches, plums)

  • Avocados

  • Salad Supplies (spinach, arugula, mixed greens)

  • Chicken / Fish - we usually see what is fresh and talk with the farmers to see what is good that week

Find a Market close to you:

  • https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets

How to Heal with Mushrooms

I know what you're thinking... MUSHROOMS? But yes... you heard me! Mushrooms have incredible healing power and they have been used in many cultures for thousands of years. Many are using certain mushrooms as preventative medicine to build up the immune system and shield from disease. I'll break down the basics of what I've learned (along with some of my favorite ways to use mushrooms in your every day routine)! All of these mushrooms I talk about below you can find in extract/supplement form - I don't suggest going into the woods and trying to identify these yourself. I find my supplements from health stores - you can also order them online, just make sure they are coming from a good source! 

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Reishi 

Reishi is a great mushroom to start with. It is known as the queen healer since it is all encompassing! It is mind and body balancing. It's known to calm you down, help with sleep, regulate hormones, lower cholesterol AND inflammation. Reishi has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. I use reishi extract in my smoothies every morning (2 droppers). I promise you can't taste it! 

Chaga 

I bet you've seen Chaga... I know I have at all my favorite juice places. Everyone seems to be making Chaga Chocolate milk and now that I've tried it I can understand why. It tastes SO GOOD. I have not experimented with making my own (yet) but what I have seen in a few different places is a combo of: nut milk, chaga, cocoa, dates, vanilla and sometimes probiotics. The reason Chaga is so loved in the mushroom world is because it is a high source of anti-oxidants. It is also anti-parasitic and is known to boost your metabolism. 

Cordyceps 

It is pronounced just like you would think... Cord-E-Ceps. Cordycep mushrooms are adaptogens that help maintain energy levels in the body. Like other mushrooms it has anti-viral properties and enhances focus and mental clarity. 

Lions Mane

Lions Mane is all about brain power. It helps improve memory, creativity, and activates the nervous system. You can 

Shiitake 

AKA the beauty mushroom... Shiitake Mushrooms are know to make your skin look beautiful. It is also known to help heal your liver. 

Maitake 

Maitake Mushrooms are well known to help with weight loss and diabetes. They help regulate glucose levels and increase insulin production. 

So now for the fun part... Below are a few of my favorite #mushroomrecipes - you can easily add mushroom extract into your tea, milk, smoothie, etc!

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Hot Chocolate - Chaga addition (recipe from: Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

  •  ¼ cup dried chaga mushroom chunks

  • 1 quart water

  • ½ cup of your favorite nondairy milk

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or coconut sugar

  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Start off by making your base - Chaga Tea - combine the dried chaga chunks and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 1 hour. Cool slightly, then strain into a quart-sized mason jars, reserving the chaga chunks. (fun fact these can be frozen and used in future batches up to 3 times). Store the chaga “tea” in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To make the chaga hot chocolate, combine the chaga “tea”, nondairy milk, and maple syrup or coconut sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, and heat until steaming. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cacao and vanilla and you’re done!

Medicinal Mushroom Milk (recipe from: The Green Creator)

  • 1½ cups water

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

  • 1-2 medjool dates, pitted

  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • a dash of cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon of Chaga powder

  • ½ teaspoon of Reishi powder

Combine ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less dates. Blend until smooth and creamy, then pour and enjoy! To heat up - pour into a saucepan and warm, or pour over ice for chilled version. 

OR if you want to take the easy and quick route - you can find pre-made packets at any health store or amazon!

The Anatomy of a Wedding Welcome Box

This may have been one of my favorite things to plan for my wedding. We had guests coming from all over to join us in Sewanee, TN. Sewanee is a special place to us which is why we chose to get married there, however we wanted to bring a bit of home to the weekend... and there's no better way to do that than through the welcome bags! 

I personally decided to do boxes, but bags work just fine. That is up to you! Traditionally what goes inside? Something from her side, something from his side, some hangover cures, and an itinerary of the weekend festivities. 

Anatomy of a Welcome Box

  1. Something his hometown / his favorite
  2. Something from her hometown  / her favorite

Those are the 2 necessities in a welcome box. If you want to add more you can take it a next step and add something salty and something sweet. And if you are extra kind... something to help with hangovers, etc! 

 

Her Hometown: 

I grew up in New Orleans - which gave me a ton of options for NOLA goodies to choose from. Some ideas: pralines, root beer, ... I decided on Zapp's Chips because they are ALWAYS a favorite (plus I wanted some extras to snack on). They make it so easy online to "create your own sampler" so we decided on regular and Voodoo flavors! 

 

His Hometown:

Ian (my now husband) grew up in Birmingham, AL and when we lived there we ALWAYS bought Merry Cheese Crisps from the local grocery stores. They were are go to for dinner parties... Christmas gifts... and now wedding guest gifts! Plus they have a small bag 3oz bag that fix perfectly and comes with 10-12 cheese crisps inside. 

 

Sweet Snack:

Since we forgot something sweet we decided to include decorated sugar cookies with "Welcome to the Mountain" written on the first one and a forest critter on the second. Each box had 2 cookies (since we were giving 1 box per couple). We had our cookies done in New Orleans by Joan Farrell. 

 

Hangover Cure: 

I included this because I know how painful the Saturday and Sunday mornings during a wedding can be... Obviously the first thing was Advil. You can order those in bulk on Amazon. I also included two of my Arbonne favorites. Complete Hydration - which is part of the sports supplement line however myself and my friends use these to cure our hangovers. Mix 1 pack into a glass of water and drink. It has tons of antioxidants, vitamins and replenishes electrolytes. Energy Fizz Sticks - these are my go to for an energy boost when I am struggling! They have many flavors, but my favorite is pomegranate. Mix 1 stick into water and the energy lasts 4-5 hours! 

 

Field Guide: 

I saw this idea on Pinterest and fell in love. Plus for a wedding in the woods, this is just perfect. Ian and I wrote a little welcome and sent my friend Eugenie McLellan (who did all of our graphics) a list of places to eat, shop and explore in Sewanee. She used our fonts and colors so it was consistent with everything and sent us the papers. We then hole punched and used raffia to string them together and make booklets. 

 

Boxes + Wrapping: 

We ordered 200 boxes from Paper Mart and used raffia from Michales to gift wrap the boxes. We hole punched each of the welcome tags (also done by Eugenie) and tied them onto the front of the box. 

 

Once all 200 boxes were wrapped (how to package and wrap boxes), I wrote a list of how many boxes were being dropped off at certain houses / hotels. My sister (best maid of honor ever) did a load Thursday morning (for those arriving Thursday) and a load Friday morning (for those arriving Friday / Saturday). It was such a fun process with many helping hands but all the little touches added up and the boxes were definitely a favorite. These welcome boxes set the tone for the weekend and were the absolute best welcome!

DIY Wedding Invitations

Well... These are not 100% DIY, I had two of my talented friends help in the creation process! And before I go any further I just want to toss in a quick note - if you have friends who have graphic design or art business, USE THEM! Why would you not want to support 1. your friends 2. local businesses? 

If you need to borrow a talented friend, mine are: 

Tess Erlenborn - a Nashville based artist who did all of the watercolors and the map

Eugenie McLellan - a New Orleans based graphic designer with an eye 

I knew I wanted something elegant but woodsy and these two helped make that vision possible. Eugenie put Tess's artwork together to create the formal invitation, the map/itinerary, RSVP card and rehearsal dinner invitation. We worked through a few drafts and I am so grateful both Tess and Eugenie were so easy to work with and open to change and suggestion.

My big take aways from working with friends are: 

1. Be very clear about what you want / don't want

2. Be okay with saying you don't like something 

3. Send ideas of what you like - help them see your vision 

4. Work out payment / terms BEFORE everything 

5. Just don't be weird! Yes they are your friend but this is also their business and they do this every day. 

Formal Invitations should go out anywhere from 2-4 months before the wedding date. Make sure you give yourself some time to print and assemble everything... printing and shipping, stamps, wax seal, etc. 

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Eugenie had them printed and shipped to my house so I could assemble everything together with raffia. I wasn't crazy about the look at first and really wanted some kind of sheer / vellum paper over it all so I went to Hobby Lobby and bought vellum paper and cut them in half (thanks FedEx Store) to fit the invitation size. 

Supplies

Vellum film over the invitations - Hobby Lobby

Fake Baby's Breath - Michaels Fake Flower Section 

Raffia - Michaels 

Angel Seal + Wax - Amazon 

Wax Warmer and Spoon - Amazon

 

Stamps: 

Bird 37c stamps - Amazon

Fern Forever Stamps - Amazon

Butterfly 13c stamps - Amazon

Battle of New Orleans 5c stamp - Amazon

Battle of New Orleans Forever Stamps - Amazon

Alabama State 6c Stamps - Amazon

State Birds 20c Stamps - Amazon

Pinecones 29c Stamps - Amazon

 

Mailing:

Before you start putting stamps on, take one of the envelopes with everything inside and have the post office weigh it and tell you how many stamps it will need. (Note: if you are mailing overseas it will need more). 

Once stamps are on and the envelopes are ready to go, bring them to the post office and ask if you can stamp them yourself instead of putting them through the machine. They will most likely hand you a stamp and have you stamp each envelope (sometimes they will do it themselves). 

and then they are off! I definitely was crunched for time so if I could go back I would have allowed more wiggle room for wax seals... stamps... etc! 

6 hacks to Wedding-Ready Skin

With less than 20 days until I get hitched I have been VERY conscious about what I put in and on my body. Some of the tricks I have learned over the years has helped tremendously, which makes me confident that I will feel awesome on my wedding day. Of course it starts with having products that are safe for your skin. But if you want to add the extra layer and leave your skin glowing and hydrated here are my top tips... 

1. Get into a skincare routine, your face will thank you. I personally use Arbonne's RE9 set daily. After washing my face I spray on toner, run in serum then put on day cream with SPF 20. *make sure you are wearing sunscreen* In the evenings I do the same except instead of day cream I use the eye and night cream. I have oily skin and was really hesitant to use a night moisturizer, but I promise this leaves your skin hydrated without feeling oily or greasy! 

2. Find out what your food triggers are.I highly recommend doing the Arbonne30 so you can learn what food categories affect you and how. I learned that dairy products make my face break out - almost instantly. Dairy also makes me feel stuffy and tired so I now know to steer clear of dairy when I want to feel and look my best! 

3. Keep your skin hydrated.The first way to do this is obvious... drink tons of water.  The easiest way to know how much to drink is divide your weight in half and then drink that amount in oz! For example, if you weigh 150, you should drink 75 oz of water per day! There are also two products that I am OBSESSED with which play a big role in hydration... Gel Eye Masks and Nourishing Facial Oil. The gel eye masks are made with a moisture-boosting superfood cocktail of antioxidants, omegas and phytonutrients help soften the look of baby lines around the eyes.  The facial oil is a sheer dry oil formula enhanced with ingredients that contain omega fatty acids 3 and 6 and a superantioxidant to help support your skin.

4. Detox your skin. The Arbonne30 program is the best way to get a full detox - inside and out. However if you want to start smaller, I love the Rescue and Renew Detox Mask. This mask draws out impurities from the skin’s surface like a magnet, resulting in smaller-looking pores. Utilizing an oil-pulling technology with 5 self-neutralizing acids to help clarify and brighten skin’s appearance, the mask transitions from wet to dry to visibly show where excess sebum is drawn out. Balanced out with hydrating rosemary oil so your skin is never stripped of moisture!

5. Focus on your gut! Your gut health is linked to everything... A doctor once told me that if I cant get rid of dark circles under my eyes, that means my gut is not in check! If your skin is not as glowy and healthy as you want it to look, it could be linked to your gut health. The best and quickest fix for this is a good probiotic. I am not talking about eating yogurt or drinking some kombucha. You need a probiotic that has been clinically tested to get down in your gut and do its job. Arbonne's probiotic - Digestion Plus - is pretty awesome, you can mix it into water or (like me) I just pour the powder on my tongue and drink water after. 

6. Good fats, omegas and more!It's always beneficial to add more of these into your diet because they are filled with vitamins and phytonutrients that will leave your skin glowing and your gut happy.  

  • Veggies / Fruits: Spinach, Cabbage, Cucumber, Lemons, Limes, Bananas
  • Carbs: Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Berries
  • Good Fats: Avocado, Nuts, Olives, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Flax Seed
  • Protein: Salmon, Tuna

The Best Way to Begin Every Month

So it's the first of the month and instead of just slumping back into your day to day routine, I want to challenge you to try something.... REFLECTION

In January I got myself a Passion Planner (which I LURVVEE btw) and went through the steps they have for creating a road map and from there monthly reflections. It forces me to take a few minutes to look back at my month and answer the following questions... 

  1. What was the most memorable part of this past month? Describe it.
  2. What were the three biggest lessons you've learned in this past month? 
  3. Review your planner for the past month and assess your priorities. Are you happy with how you spent your time? If not, what steps can you take next month to adjust them? 
  4. How are you different between this past month and the month before? 
  5. What or who are you especially grateful for this past month? 
  6. Name three things you can improve on this upcoming month. What are concrete action steps you can take to work towards these improvements? 

How awesome are those questions? I think the reason I love doing this every month is because it gives me time to look back, look forward, be super grateful for everything that has been happening and then set an action plan to be my best self and totally rock my businesses. 

It is also a great tool to look back at how you and your work has grown over the past year. It is never too late to start. Don't let your excuses of "oh but its already June" stop you! I was that person... I wouldn't buy a planner or schedule out my goals for the year if it was too "late" in the year. JUST START! Otherwise time will continue passing by and you will still be exactly where you were instead of moving forward. Put your goals and dreams into words, and then into action! 

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Why Golden Milk should be your drink of choice

Lets talk Golden Milk for a sec...  I started drinking golden milk (also known as a turmeric latte) a few months ago just because I liked the taste and *on trend* but it wasn’t until recently I really started looking into the benefits. There are SO MANY... It also doesn't need to be complicated to make. My first few go-rounds I would scramble to find the pepper, turmeric, different measuring spoons... Then I discovered Gaia's GOLDEM MILK POWDER! GAME CHANGER. Gaia is an herbal supplement brand based out of Brevard, NC. They use organic ingredients and I love their brand and ethics. In the ancient branch of medicine Ayurveda, Golden Milk is a tonic the nourishes your body but also tastes DELICIOUS! Gaia's Golden Milk is made with organic Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Black Pepper, Dates, Cardamom and Vanilla.

You can find Gaia's Golden Milk Powder at WholeFoods or on AMAZON. Whisk 1 tsp of this powder into warm non-dairy milk and drink up! Not only is this an anti-inflammatory but it helps ward off toxins in the body and increases your antioxidant capacity. There are about a zillion other reasons why your body will thank you for drinking Golden Milk, those are just a few! 

P.S. For extra froth... blend it! 

XOXO

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garden

Composting made simple for beginners

I have tried composting multiple times y'all... Each time I get so excited, I make a little compost bin in my sink or near the trash and before I know it - my house is filled with fruit flies and creepy crawlies. I also would dread having to empty it every day or every other day because it was getting so smelly. At our previous house we had one of those large pre-made compost bins outside but it was so heavy to turn and would be super nasty smelling when you opened it up to toss compost material in. I am here to bring you some good news as you begin your compost journey - you do NOT need a super expensive compost solution. In fact, you can compost on the cheap and get the most beautiful compost soil! I am about to share my fave solution that completely changed my composting experience AND only costs $22.95 and some labor. 

So here we go! You want to start composting, yeah? I recommend dumpster diving to find some pallets and then investing in one of these bad boys... Introducing my FAVORITE compost bin. This small stainless still bin has a charcoal filter keeps smells (and bugs) away. It is nice enough to keep on the kitchen counter so you can toss fruit peels, stems, tea bags etc directly in without having to venture outside in the rain/cold/heat to your compost pile. 

As for the outdoor compost pile - pick a corner of your yard and build yourself a simple compost pile! We spent a few hours driving around our neighborhood picking up pallets laying on the side of the road (good places to look for free pallets: behind grocery stores, construction sites). We used 3 pallets and lined them with a mesh wire (something like this) and attached with a staple gun (to keep the compost pile in the confines of the pallet)! SO EASY! 

What to Compost? 

  • Veggies, fruit scraps
  • nutshells, eggshells, corncobs
  • yard scraps, grass, weeds, sticks, leaves, wood,
  • coffee grounds, tea bags
  • pet hair, dirt / dust from vacuum
  • shredded paper, napkins, paper towels, junk mail (no plastic), cardboard

What NOT to compost? 

  • meat
  • bones
  • dairy products
  • oily and fatty foods
  • diseased plants 
  • plastic and glass (duh?)

Taking care of your compost: once a week grab a shovel or stick and mix up your pile. Get some air in there so everything is getting enough oxygen to break down. If you don't get too much rain where you live - you may want to water your compost pile.

You will know when your compost pile is ready to use! It will be really nice looking soil (dark / black and crumbly).  Your plants / garden will thank you big time for all the love and nutrients! 

health

5 MUST TRY Protein Ball Recipes (easy/no-bake)

Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Balls

Combine all dry ingredients in food processor and process for about 1 min. Add sunbutter (or any nut butter), pumpkin and milk. Process for another minute until it forms a moist dough. Roll into balls and store in glass container in fridge or freezer. 

 

Yummy Topping Ideas: Goji Berries, Cacao Nibs, Coconut Flakes, Cocoa Powder, Matcha Powder, Maca Powder, Chopped Nuts, Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Seeds...

 

Rice Krispy Protein Bars

Pour entire jar of peanut butter into a large bowl and add Agave syrup. Stir until smooth and well blended - microwave a little to make it easier. Mix in protein and fiber powder and stir until powders are absorbed. Pour in cereal and stir until evenly blended. Roll into balls or spread into 9” x 13” pan.

 

Brownie Balls

In a food processor, mix all dry ingredients. Add dates and vanilla extract then process until mixture is like a dough. Add water if needed, to help the mixture ball together. Roll into balls and store in air-tight container in fridge or freezer.

 

Matcha Green Tea Balls

In a food processor, combine all ingredients, blend and roll into balls.

 

Goji Berry Truffle Balls

Combine walnuts, cocoa, salt, goji berries, protein powder and cinnamon in a food processor. Process 15 seconds until crumbly. Add vanilla and dates then process until mixture is like a dough. Add water – if needed so that the mix forms a soft ball. The mix should be firm and sticky, but not mushy. Remove chocolate truffle mixture from the food processor into a bowl. Roll into balls and top with goji berries. Store in the fridge covered for up to 2 weeks.