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Back Pocket Tricks

By Julie:

Sometimes it’s easy to lose vision for why we do the things that we do. Even when your health has become a habit, rather than a trend, we slip up from time to time. That’s why it’s important to have a couple of handy tricks in your back pocket to keep things lively! Here are a few of my favorites that help keep me joyfully on track with my plant based lifestyle!

1. “Nice” Cream

It will be nice to your digestive system- that’s for sure!

This is one of my favorite desserts/snacks to make (especially in the summer time!) It satisfies my sweet tooth, and makes me feel incredible!
This is not your average “I need lay down after eating this” indulgence!

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How to make “nice” cream:
– Peel and freeze a few bananas for about 12 hours (or overnight)
– Put them in a food processer, and and let them blend until they create an ice cream-like consistency.
– Add in your favorites!

A couple of my favorite add in combos are:
– Cacao Powder and Cinnamon with Coconut Shreds on top (shown)
– Strawberries and Mangos
Depends on the season!

2. Ezekiel Bread

This is not your average bread. It’s made with wheat, barley, soybeans, lentils, millet, and spelt. They offer a lot of nutrients, and it tastes good!
The company is vegan friendly, and has an entire page on their website dedicated to that.

My favorite way to eat Ezekiel Bread is toasted, and covered a little almond/peanut butter and some banana chunks. SO GOOD, and filling too!

3. Change it up

It’s important to have some variety in your health life! I’m one of those people who could be completely content eating the same food every single day (many days I do), but I find myself becoming more envisioned and re-excited about my lifestyle when I branch out and try different things!

Last week, that was switching my workout routine and doing some Insanity workouts (it was cold outside), and also making rutabaga pasta with a friend!

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Though this picture isn’t the best quality, let me assure you that it was good!

How To:

– Spiralize or Shred about 4 medium Rutabagas (we used a shredding disc in my food processor)

– Boil it until tender 

– Enjoy with your sauce of choice! We made an avocado/basil sauce with some lemon juice. It was awesome!

 

How do you keep yourself excited about staying healthy?

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I Failed!

By Julie:

           Early in December, my husband and I got to go on a ski trip to Colorado with some friends. Through a series of fortunate events, we were all able to go for extremely cheap, and it was a BLAST.   It was also my first time skiing- unless you want to count the week I spent cross-country skiing 10 years ago… I wouldn’t.

          So, we jumped on a charter bus and rode all the way from Texas to Colorado, where the ice and snow were abundant. A couple of us joined the ski school there, while the rest of our friends (my husband included) went off to hit the slopes.

 

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          I’m pretty active, but would not consider myself a natural athlete. I work very hard to become good at the things I do, and it only happens because I commit. I’m very much an all or nothing person.

            I jumped into the ski school; I learned a lot, fell a few times, and had a ton of fun. I got pretty good at stopping and turning as I practiced on the bunny slope. After lunch, my friends convinced me to go down a green with them. It was the easiest green on the mountain, and it was also 3.5 miles long, which in my mind meant no turning back if it was awful.

 

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I started really smooth, a little fast but in control, and as we continued going down my speed got faster and faster…

            I fell down, my friends helped me

               I continued, gaining speed, and fell down again

                  Lost control of my speed

                     Fell again

                        Our friend group split up

                           I got separated from my portion of the group

                              I waited for them to find me

                                 I realized I had taken a wrong turn

                                    I slid down a hill on my bottom

 

And finally, after passing through a mini terrain park, I made my way to the bottom of the mountain- alone.

 

            There was laughter, pain, tears, disbelief, fear, frustration, and relief.

            I failed – a lot, and I vowed to never enjoy skiing.

BUT

Sometimes, there is redemption from failure when we press in to the hard places. I don’t think that we were made to quit everything that we fail at.

The next few days, I practiced on the bunny hill a little more; got comfortable, and ended up conquering the green slope- several times. I had the time of my life, and can’t wait to ski again, but there was almost a time that I called it quits.

 

       I think that this lesson I learned is a good parallel to living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re new at it… you’re going to fail, and it’s okay. If you’re a seasoned vet- you’ll probably “fall” a few times too. (Lets just stick with the skiing analogy, okay.)

 What if we gave up and called it quits every time that we skipped a workout, or ate a little junk food? I don’t know about you, but I would probably end up on The Biggest Loser.

 

 As you begin to make goals for yourself in 2015, give yourself a little grace. It’s okay to mess up occasionally- you’re not expected to be perfect- you’re a human. The good news is that when you mess up, you’ve just set yourself a new goal to surpass. It’s the slow progress that will make it a lifestyle for you, not the 3-week cleanses, crash diets, and cutting out carbs.

 

Pick yourself up and keep going! It will only get easier!

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New Year|Same Me

By Julie:

 

It’s officially 2015, and you know what that means. 

Resolutions… DUN DUN DUN…

Do you dread them, or do you love them? 

For NYE, we had a homemade pizza party with some friends. I made vegan pesto

For NYE, we had a homemade pizza party with some friends. I made vegan pesto

Did you know that most resolutions are made about weight loss and health, but only 8% of people actually achieve them each year? 

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly dying to be a statistic. Actually, I’ve never really been into making resolutions. I like to win (the competitive side of me), and I’ve never understood why people feel the need to wait for January to make changes. In the past, when I’ve made  resolutions, or (very long term) goals, I’ve found myself  easily overwhelmed. 

Let’s find a way to make 2015 the year that we can all win. 

Instead of setting one resolution to try and fail at all year long, I’m going to set smaller goals each month. This way, I can check them off my list as I go.

Smaller goals are less overwhelming, and there’s variety as they change every month, so it’s more conducive for sustaining vision and maintaining motivation. 

 

Do you want to make fitness goals?

Check out : Lauren Gleisberg’s Blog. She has an entire tab devoted to workouts targeting different muscle groups

Do you want to make health goals?

Hang out here! We have great tips and recipes! Or, Check out: Kitchenspired (mostly paleo), or  Oh She Glows (vegan- WHOOP!), or 

Do you want to make minimalistic goals?

Unfancy might inspire you- her blog is about minimizing clothing, but there are plenty of avenues you could take it!

Do you want to make financial goals?

Check out “You Need A Budget” . My husband and I use this budgeting app. It syncs to your phones and computer, and is SO helpful!

 

What kind of goals are you making for the month of January? Lets encourage each other!

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What I Eat in a Day…

By Julie:

When people hear that I don’t eat meat or dairy, I get a lot of questions. 

     “Where do you get your protein?”, “How expensive is that?”, “What do you eat?”

 

So, today, I am going to answer the last question: What I eat in a typical day. The bulk of my nutrition comes from fruit (and vegetables), so it’s important to eat a lot, so that I get enough calories, and feel full and satisfied by the end of my day.

Below, is everything I ate over the course of a day, sometimes (in the winter), if I’m still hungry after dinner, I will help myself to some pomegranate, banana ice cream, or maybe even something dessert-y.

 

Breakfast :

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I love starting my day with a big banana smoothie!

*Note: I try to always eat the bananas when they are ripe (the stem at the top is no longer green) because they will digest better.

 

I typically use 6-7 bananas, and then will fill my blender up with a combination of water and coconut water. *In the winter I love adding cinnamon too! 

 (About 600 Cal)

 

 

Snack :

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   For a mid morning snack (if I’m hungry for one), I love citrus! This picture is probably about 5 oranges, cut up in my tupperware. 

 

   I alway cut and prepare my  fruit the night (or a few nights before) I take it to work, that way I know that I’m setting myself up for success. 

 

 (About 250)

 

Lunch :                                                                                                                

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For lunch (especially in the winter time), I love pears! They’re easy, you can take them on the go and eat them one at a time, or you can cut them up and enjoy them slowly. They’re filling and they make me feel great! 

 

I typically try to eat 5-6 pears at a time to satisfy myself.

 (About 550 Calories)

 

 

Snack #2 :                              

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   Sometimes I get hungry before I go home from work (I work until 6), and I always have a Larabar on hand to munch on! They have so many delicious, vegan flavors to choose from. My current favorite is their holiday snickerdoodle. Its seasonal! 

 

 

 (About 220 Calories)

 

Dinner :

[Side note: I always try to eat raw food until dinner time]

I don’t have a picture for this one, but one of my favorite, easy, go-to dinners is a massive quinoa salad with homemade fries or smashed potatoes on the side. Chris and I usually make 2-3 sweet or regular potatoes for the both of us as our side dish. And for my salad, I cook about 1/2 cup of quinoa and then mix it with my favorite greens and vegetables, some cooked, and some raw! Its delicious and simple! 

(About 400-500 Cal [Depending on how much you add to your salad])

I have never been a fan of salad dressing, so I eat it as is, but you could even make a salad dressing with some avocado and lemon juice to add flavor!

 

So there it is! Everything I eat in a day! I do like variety and switch things out daily! Some of my other favorites are:

Breakfast: Giant jug/jar of homemade juice. I like to combine a lot of kale, celery, apples, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables

Lunch: 10 organges- my winter go-to. My all time favorites

Dinner: Corn Pasta, and Butternut Squash Soup are a few of my favorites

Snacks: Grapes! I love grapes!

 

What are some of your favorite things to eat that keep you healthy and satisfied?

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Junk Food Hangover

By Julie:

Last week, I took my GRE, and I crushed it.

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It was kind of a big deal because I’m only applying to one graduate school this year. To celebrate, my friends brought me some of my favorite vegan junk foods: oreos, fritos (I know, the butt of chips- I don’t care I still love them), and dairy free chocolate. Needless to say, I indulged- which doesn’t happen often! 

Soooooo,

The next morning when my 4:54 alarm went off, I was feeling the junk food hangover!

 

We all know the junk food hangover- you feel sluggish, bloated, sleepy, and you crave more junk!

It was there, in my bed, half asleep, that I realized- I had a decision to make. 

I could do what my body wanted to do, and sleep in, and feel like crap all day because of the food I previously ate, or I could suck it up and go work out, which would set me back on track and cause me to feel great for the rest of the day. 

 

I feel like this is a decision that we all face daily.

Just because you “mess up” and get off track with your healthy eating, doesn’t mean that you can’t fix it. The guilt that you feel shouldn’t be your excuse to continue in your ways. Let it be the motivation to change them.

 

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Set some goals.

Say no to your junkfood hangover (or don’t get one in the first place) this holiday season, and make it a win for yourself! 

 

What are some ways that you are going to keep yourself motivated to stay healthy for the holidays?

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How Will We Survive the Winter??

By Julie:

 

I love cold weather.

 

I love sleeping in cold weather, I love eating chocolate in cold weather, and I love wearing leggings and boots in cold weather.

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However, I don’t always love eating healthy and working out during these winter months.

 

It’s starting to get cold here, which means that it is definitely cold wherever you are because I live in Texas. When I wake up to my 4:54 alarm going off on crossfit mornings, my first thought isn’t usually “yippee”! In fact, I don’t usually have a first thought at that hour because my brain is still asleep, as it should be.

 

Though it can be hard to motivate yourself when the weather isn’t the ideal “seasons overlapping” feel, it is still important to exercise and stay properly fueled so that you can thrive!

 

Here are a few tips to help you do so!

 

  1. Sleep in your workout clothes

 

If it weren’t for this lazy tip, I would struggle so much in the mornings. I found recently (too late) that I really enjoy running in the evenings, after work with Chris. Unfortunately, daylight savings happened, and now it gets dark before I get home from work, which doesn’t work out when you live in a sketchy area.

So my option now is to suck it up and go early. Whether I’m getting up to go to crossfit (which is my favorite of the following options), run, or circuit train, I will probably be sleeping in my workout clothes the night before.

      It just doesn’t get much easier than waking up, brushing your teeth, and getting in the car… before your brain has time to realize what is happening.

 

  1. Find your “go to” recipes

 

It’s easy to find yourself straying from your “diet” (lifestyle?) in the winter. Especially if like me, your eating consists of mostly fruit. A lot of fruit goes out of season, or is hard to find when the weather gets cold. I have a few go-to meals/ snacks that keep me grounded in my healthy habits in the winter. Yours may be different, and that is okay!

I love bananas in the winter. They’re cheap, they’re good, and you can take them on the go! I love to explore soup recipes, and I love to cover my butternut squash and sweet potatoes in cinnamon. Make sure that you have go-to snacks that you can bring on the go! It’s so easy to cave to winter treats and desserts around this time of the year!

           

  1. Plan ahead

 

How much of a planner are you?

I like to keep an hour-by-hour schedule of my whole week, and I like to color coordinate it with what I will be doing at that time (sleep, exercise, church, work, etc.).

 

 

Maybe I’m a little over the top.

 

Find something that works for you- and stick with it!!! One really simple/practical thing that I do is, prepare my lunch the night before I go to work. That way, I have something quick that I can grab on my way to work (because I am notoriously late), and I know that I’ll be full and nourished properly! If you have a game plan going into your day/week, you are so much less likely to fail!

 

What are some things that you do to thrive during the colder months?

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Must Love Sushi

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A reasonable requirement for love, if I do say so myself.

I like sushi… more than a friend. It’s by far the meal I miss most since going plant-based/vegan. I often get questions from readers saying “what’s so bad about sushi anyway?”

Salmon and tuna; the fish most commonly found in sushi are not very different from other animal products from a nutrition standpoint. They are high in fat and have a lot of protein. Since I believe our diets should consist mostly of plant-based foods and a very small amount of fat, it’s not an ideal protein choice.

If this isn’t the diet style you follow that’s okay, we can still be friends but the main reason we should avoid sushi these days is the fact that our waters are so, so, SO polluted and over-fished. There is a reason why we’re farm raising salmon, which is a whole other issue to tackle in a different post. 

So if you love sushi like I do fear not, there are plenty of vegan sushi options that you can order when you’re out to dinner. I’ve been known to order an avocado roll, sweet potato roll and a mushroom roll if it’s on the menu. I used to call people who ordered like this at sushi restaurants, fake sushi lovers. Who orders sushi without fish? Can you even call it sushi? Now I’m one of those people.

If you’re feeling adventurous or is your wallet can’t take your constant cravings (that’s me) you can to make sushi at home. It’s really not as hard as you’d think and you can make an awesome vegan roll with just 5 ingredients! Most likely you can find these in your local grocery store in the international food aisle, but if you can’t, I linked (affiliate links) each one to similar ones you can find on Amazon. 

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Ingredients

Nori Seaweed Sheets- the sheets you roll the sushi in

Rice Vinegar- for added flavor

Black Sesame Seeds

Sushi Rice- I need to get more as you can see!

1. First, you cook the rice following the directions on the back of the container. Once the rice is done cooking and cooled add the rice vinegar and the sesame seeds. 

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2. Take the nori sheet out of the package. You will notice that one side is smooth and one side is a bit rougher. The rougher side is the side you’re going to want to cut when the time comes.  Make sure the rough side is face down and that the rice and other ingredients are on the smoother side. When you roll it up the rougher side will then be on the outside. You’ll also notice little lines on the nori. You’ll want to roll it up so these lines are horizontal rather than vertical. They are basically perforated lines that make roller easier. 

3. Next, pat the rice on the smooth side of the nori sheet leaving space on the bottom and top. Make sure you pat the rice down so it’s an even layer that goes all the way to the sides. If you are thin on the rice on the edges it will make cutting it later more difficult. 

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4. Add whatever you want to the center of the rice for your sushi roll filling. Avocado is my number one choice but you can add mashed up sweet potatoes, mango, mango AND avocado (cray, cray) or mushrooms. Get as creative as you want.

5. Now it’s time to roll it up. You’ll want to do it as tight as you can, it will make cutting it easier. Once it’s rolled, if the nori feels a bit dry, drape a damp paper towel over the roll. To avoid this in the future you might need a bit more rice. 

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6. Slicing the roll can be the hardest part and I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret. Each piece of sushi is going to have an ugly side and a pretty side. I find this is always the case even when you order it from a restaurant. The ugly side is always facing down, take a look next time. I have the best luck with my long carving set knife. It’s HUGE but sharp enough to do one smooth cut of each piece. Running the knife under water first helps prevent the sticky rice from sticking to it. I start by slicing the roll in half and then I cut each half into three pieces, leaving me with 6 total. The tend to be larger pieces but I don’t mind.

Tip: If when you cut the sushi the filling starts to  explode out of the sides, don’t fret. Simply push the sushi roll ingredients back in with the side of your knife and hand and try again. You may need to do this little push in between each cut. This tends to happen if the knife you’re using isn’t sharp enough. If it’s the sharpest one ya got, try grabbing a serrated one. Think about when you slice a tomato; if your knife isn’t sharp or the tomato is too soft, it just kind of squishes. It just takes one little puncture to get a nice slice. 
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I hope the steps were helpful and clear. I wanted to be very detailed because I have had a lot of practice and over time I’ve gotten pretty good at making it. If you mess up the first time just keep trying, it gets easier and you’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t. I love making homemade sushi because the ingredients are ones you probably wont use all of at one meal. The nori sheets packages come in sizes from 10-50 per pack, so say you make 3 rolls you’ll have leftover sheets for next time. Same goes for the rice, vinegar and seeds, it seriously is something you can just whip up for lunch! Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions or even better if you’re a pro, send me some tips! 

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My Husband Went Vegan!!!

By Julie:

Okay, okay, he didn’t actually go vegan for forever, BUT he did try it out with me for a Monday-Thursday week. 

I am so so thankful for my husband. He truly is my #1 fan and biggest supporter. He is happy to accommodate me and my “weird” eating habits, and he always does it joyfully. When you eat “different” than most others, it’s easy to feel like a burden. Chris does a great job of never making me feel that way. He is quick to taste test different plant based recipes that I make, and most of the time, he likes them! 

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That being said, he is a meat lover and a cheese eater (on occasion). He is in no way a vegan, but he is married to one. He decided that if I eat a plant based diet and love it, there must be something valuable in it, so he decided to do it alongside me a couple of weeks ago!

Below is a little interview I did with him about his experience as a 4 day vegan:

- Chris, what made you decide to try eating vegan for a [work] week?

A. I felt that it would be a good way to better understand your eating habits, while simultaneously supporting the lifestyle that you choose to live (nutritionally). I also liked the challenge of it. I wondered if I would be able do it for four days. 

-Was eating a plant-based diet harder, or easier than you expected?

A. It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. I already eat vegan breakfasts (oatmeal), and generally I just add meat to the dinners that you prepare. So, going into this, I knew my biggest challenge would be lunch because I typically eat sandwiches. However, a little extra planning the night before made it really easy to take vegan friendly options, like rice bowls, to work. 

- What was your favorite vegan thing to eat?

A. The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes were my favorite. I’m a sucker for pumpkin!

- What advice would you give to others (not necessarily vegan) who are trying to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves?

A. You have to look at the big picture of health. Many people tend to limit health to size and weight. However, health encompasses so many things… who can even define health? You can eat healthier, but spend your day sitting on the couch. You can exercise frequently, but go to bed late every night and wake up tired. You can get plenty of sleep, but be overrun by stress and anxiety. To me, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. 

Something that I have been doing for the last two month’s that has really helped me is making a goals chart. At the beginning of every month, I’ve been sitting down and creating multiple goals for categories such as, physical, mental, relational, financial, etc. This way by the end of November I can attempt to run 30 miles, continue to learn french, read 2 books, reconnect with friends, and the list goes on and on. It is like a personal progress meter. 

What are some things you’re doing to start or maintain a healthy lifestyle?

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Food For Thought + DIY Mayhem

I was listening to the “Cut The Fat” podcast yesterday and the co-host Dr. Ray Hinish said something that really made me think. He said nothing you do once in a while is going to have a significant impact on your health and body. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, one cookie isn’t gonna kill you. It’s when you have 3 or 4 cookies, every day for a few months in a row, that’s when you’ll see an impact on your health. 

Okay so nothing I just said is groundbreaking by any means but I heard what Dr. Hinish said and took it a different way. If you occasionally eat healthy food, once in a while, when you get motivated for a hot minute, you won’t see a significant impact on your health or body either. When we order a salad instead of a burger, we want to throw ourselves a party and jump on the scale the next morning to see dramatic numbers. And when we don’t, we get discouraged and go back to eating the normal unhealthy way. We say things like “but I eat healthy” when really we only eat healthy sometimes and sometimes doesn’t have a significant impact in either direction.It’s the things we do everyday that make a difference. 

So remember this when making choices throughout the day. No, that cookie will not kill ya, but ordering a salad everyday, consistently will most certainly show you results. 

DIY

There is some DIY craziness going on up in here, I’m not quite sure what has gotten in to me lately. I mean I’ve always been known to steal junk from my neighbors curb or do a little project here and there, but these past two weeks have just been wild. Some of these chicks on the DIY Network make me feel like I can do ANYTHING. Ryan had to step in when I asked him in passing how to turn on the table saw. 

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Some items I found at an antique shop in upstate NY

All that being said, I’m thinking of adding a little DIY element to the blog. I’ll show you some before and after pictures and tell you how I did it. Don’t worry they’ll still be plenty of recipes shared too. Do-It-Yourself-ers have to eat too! 

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Arkansas Wedding + Fall Faves

By Julie:

Last weekend, my husband and I had the privilege of traveling to Little Rock, Arkansas (for the first time) to see two of our friends get hitched! Let me tell you, nothing is more fun than a six and a half hour road trip with some fun friends and some good snacks! 

AND- It was beautiful! When the weather is perfect, and the nature is visible- we hike. So, hike we did!

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Later that day, we attended the wedding, which took place at this incredible location

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The wedding was so much fun, and our friends (who have dated for 5 years) finally got to tie the knot. Our group of friends, of course, tore up the dance floor! That’s always my favorite part of weddings (aside from watching the groom see his bride for the first time)! Since getting married, attending weddings is always so much fun because it lets me reminisce on my own wedding! 

All in all, it was a weekend that was hard to be topped.    photo 2

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     Fun weekends give me all the more reason to spice things up at home. I want the most mundane parts of my life to be exciting because I wasn’t made to sit around and feel bored! Chris and I love the fall season, and the tastes that come along with it. My personal favorite is pomegranate, but Chris loves pumpkin! I decided to whip up some pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning, and they actually turned out really well! 

My recipe was inspired by this one that I found on Pinterest last week.                        

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(Forgive the poor lighting in my kitchen)

 

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes:

1.5 C  Old Fashioned Oats

.5 C  Whole Wheat Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

.5 tsp Sea Salt

1.5 C Almond Milk

2 Ripe Bananas

2 Tbs Pumpkin (I used puree from a can)

2 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 Ripe Bananas

1 Handful of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (dairy free)

 

Blend the above ingredients (except the bananas and chocolate chips) in your blender until smooth, then add the bananas and blend them into the mixture. Last, I stirred in a handful of chocolate chips. Scoop the batter on a hot griddle and flip each pancake as they bubble. Very simple and very delicious! Husband approved too!

What are some of your favorite things about the fall season?

 

 

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