5/26/17

Raw Raspberry Coconut Bars

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There is always something nostalgic about long holiday weekends; the moments spent with friends around the pool, the backyard dinners with family and the late conversations over soft music on the patio. Memorial Day weekend is a time to celebrate the end of a long school year, it's a time to remember the men and women who died while serving our country, and it's a time to reflect on the treasures in our own lives.

After spending last weekend in Florida with friends, I feel refreshed and renewed. Being away for just a few days made me realize how blessed I am to be the mother of my precious children and the wife of my amazing husband. While I was gone, I saw friends and family pitch in and help out and I realized how grateful I am for this generosity. It also made me realize that I want to be generous and self-less. I want to put the needs of others first. I want to mother with my whole heart and I want to continue to grow in my marriage. Of course, you need time for yourself but it's all a balance.

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return,
but because of who you are”
Harold S. Kushner


I want to strive to be a better person. Not just in my own home, but a better person for society. I want to give back and contribute, which is part of the reason why I blog and share our journey with health and clean eating. I want to help others and I want to find my meaning and purpose. But in the meantime, I know this weekend is meant for family and friends and I look forward to spending quality time with my loved ones. And of course, eating lots of good, clean food and enjoying a glass of wine.
Cheers!

Raw Raspberry Coconut Bars
SCD, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free, Raw 
yield: 20-24 squares

INGREDIENTS: 
2 cups medjool dates, chopped
1 ½ cups pecans, or other nut of choice
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup coconut cream
¼ cup honey *
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp Himalayan salt
1 cup plus 3 Tbs shredded coconut
¼ cup raspberries, puréed

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a food processer combine chopped dates and pecans, pulse until the mixture is combined and sticks together.
2. Press evenly into the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper. *
3. In a food processer, add the cashews, coconut cream, honey, melted coconut oil, vanilla and salt. Process until smooth.
4. Fold in one cup shredded coconut and spread evenly over the date, pecan mixture.
5. Spoon the raspberry purée over the coconut mixture.
6. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons of coconut flakes.
7. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and freeze for two hours. Allow to thaw for 10 minutes before serving.

*TIPS: You can use up to 1/3 cup honey for a sweeter treat. In addition to lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, grease the sides with coconut oil.

5/24/17

My Facial Skincare Routine

Skincare Routine
Skincare Routine
It's been a little silent over here. Between our spring soccer schedule, tournaments, school and my trip to the beach with girlfriends, I have been extra, extra busy. But now that I am back I'm feeling refreshed and ready to get to work!

I've actually been meaning to post my facial skincare routine for awhile, and after a trip with girls I figure the timing is right. This June I'll be another year closer to the big 40, and even though it's still a couple years away, I'm having a hard time with this one. Turning thirty was easy and exciting, but forty is a bit harder to grasp and embrace. When I think about it, it's not the actual age that bothers me. I feel no different (for the most part) than I did in my twenties; I'm active and fit, healthy and always ready for an adventure. What does bother me, and this is me being honest, are the visible signs of aging. The lines that have popped up around my eyes, the now visible wrinkles that spread across my forehead, and on and on. Even as I type this, I catch myself thinking, "How shallow and superficial you sound."

But I'm being honest.

These signs of aging bother me, but I try to see past them. I try to turn these signs into memories with hopes that I will age gracefully. For now, I've decided that altering the aging process is something I want to avoid. While I have no problems with Botox, fillers and peels, I don't think it's for me. I'm focusing on clean eating, including phytonutrient spectrum foods into my daily diet, exercise, sleep and living a stress-free life. If anyone has the key to a stress-free life I'm all ears! But don't get me wrong, I'll go to great lengths to keep my skin looking healthy and youthful! I take a daily dose of collagen, which I highly recommend. Not only is it good for your hair, skin and nails, but it helps the intestinal lining and is great for joint pain. My son and I have been using Vital Proteins and are extremely happy with the results.

I am also meticulous about my skincare routine. Here is a breakdown of my morning and nightly regimen.

MORNING ROUTINE
I wash my face every morning with Mineral Fusion facial cleanser. It is very gentle on the skin, yet removes dirt and makeup residue. I then spray my face with a toner, these days I've been liking Alaffia Facial Mist, which is ethical vegan and paraben free. Once dry, I apply a small drop of Biossance oil. I sometimes mix in a small scoop of Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder. Turbo Booster C Powder is a 99.8% high-potency topical, vitamin C powder that helps prevent premature aging by acting as an antioxidant and promoting collagen synthesis, which helps improve the skin's overall tone and texture. I then apply My Chelle eye cream, which is very light weight and refreshing. Next is my moisturizer, which ALWAYS has a SPF. I love Kate Somerville Daily Deflector Moisturizer 50 SPF but I recently picked up My Chelle unscented SPF 28 and did like it as a back up. After these steps I am ready for makeup if I decide to wear any, most days I'm makeup free, not as a choice, but mostly because I am on the go and usually don't come home after the gym.

NIGHTLY ROUTINE
Again, I wash my face with Mineral Fusion facial cleanser and follow up with Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads. These hydroxy acid and peptide facial peel pads gently exfoliate the skin to support natural cell turnover. For night time, I like to use a nourishing eye cream and have been using Algenist anti-aging eye cream. I then apply SUNDAY RILEY Luna Sleeping Night Oil. Facial oils are probably my favorite products on the market. I love oils and this one in particular is wonderful to use at night. I'm a little sensitive to scents, and it's not my favorite scent, but it leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated. If I apply other products I wait at least fifteen minutes before doing so because I want to make sure the oil is fully absorbed into my skin. In the winter I use a nightly moisturizer, but with the warmer weather and humidity the oil is capable of keeping my skin hydrated. Lastly, right before jumping into bed I apply Needles No More by Dr. Brandt. This product is worth the investment! I have noticed visible results when I wake up in the morning and this seems to be the one product I continue to purchase.

When it comes to the concept of minimalism, I seem to do well in all aspects of my life except beauty products. I'm such a sucker for good products and always love tot try new ones. What are your "must haves" and favorite products?

“I've enjoyed every age I've been, and each has had its own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I've been present, the inner rings of my personal tree trunk that I display proudly for all to see. Nowadays, I don't want a "perfect" face and body; I want to wear the life I've lived.”
Pat Benatar, Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir

*This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts on products are of my own personal opinion and I did not receive compensation to write this, however this post does contain affiliate links.

5/8/17

Oven-Baked Salmon Cakes

SCD salmon cakes
SCD salmon cakes
SCD salmon cakes
Seafood is definitely a staple in our home and we usually end up eating fish two to three times a week. My go-to is always oven baked fish; usually salmon, halibut or sea bass, and occasionally we'll sauté scallops, especially when Nantucket Bay scallops are in season. If you've never experienced a Nantucket Bay scallop I highly recommend you do. They are smaller than sea scallops and exceptionally sweet; they literally melt in your mouth! Since the season is so short (usually November to March) they are considered an extra treat and because of the fresh quality you can actually consume them raw. They are perfect for making ceviche, which just gave me the idea of sharing a recipe for next season! But on to salmon cakes.

This dish is simple to make and the patties can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to a couple months. We usually don't add a sauce but the aioli below is very easy to make and a great accompaniment to the salmon cakes.

Oven-Baked Salmon Cakes
SCD, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free
yield: 8-10 patties

INGREDIENTS:
15 ounces Wild Alaskan Salmon (I like Natural Sea non-gmo BPA-free can)
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
2 Tbs coconut oil
1/4 cup packed spinach, finally chopped
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder or fresh garlic (I omit because I'm allergic)
1/2 tsp cumin

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat; sauté the onion, carrots and celery until translucent. Remove from heat.
2. Drain the canned salmon and remove any bones.
3. Add the salmon and cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add in spinach and mix well. Then add almond flour, egg and spices and stir until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I like this brand.)
5. Form the salmon mixture into small patties and place them on the parchment paper.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
7. Serve with a lemon aioli.

Lemon Aioli
SCD, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup SCD legal mayonnaise (I like Primal Kitchen)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 fresh garlic clove, diced (optional, I omit due to allergies but I know everyone loves garlic!)

DIRECTIONS:
Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.

5/4/17

Healthy Black Bean Soup

SCD Black Bean Soup
SCD Black Bean Soup
SCD Black Bean Soup
Black beans have always been a staple in our diet because they are so versatile and easy to incorporate into meals. They are packed with fiber, protein, disease fighting antioxidants, and they are high vitamins and minerals including folate, copper, thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium and iron. Studies have linked the benefits of eating black beans to the prevention of inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, cancer and nutrient deficiencies that are often present with the Western diet. In other words, they are a healthy choice that should be added into your diet.

And guess what, blacks beans ARE allowed on the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) BUT make sure you try them when you are symptom free of any gastrointestinal issues. In fact, you should be symptom free for at least three months before adding black beans into your diet. It is very important that you refer to the book "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" and study the proper preparation for black beans. In order to aid in healthy digestion, black beans MUST be soaked for at least 10-12 hours, rinsed extremely well and then cooked. Canned beans are a no-no and should be avoided.

While doing some research on the digestibility of beans, I came across some fascinating information on resistant starches and their association with healthy benefits that some starches provide. Basically, resistant starch is a type of starch that isn’t fully broken down and absorbed, but rather turned into short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria. Most starches are broken down by enzymes in our small intestine into sugar and then absorbed into the blood, which, to my understanding, is why most starch is not allowed on the SCD diet. When the starch breaks down into sugar in the small intestine, the bad bacteria then feed off of it and eventually overtake the good bacteria. But it turns out we can’t fully absorb all kinds of starch. Some starch, the resistant starch, is not fully absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, the resistant starch makes its way to the large intestine (colon) where the intestinal bacteria ferment it.

Resistant starch may help to lower cholesterol, can improve immunity by aiding the production of immune cells in the gut and can possibly improve and aid in overall digestion.

Honestly, I can continue to go on and on about starches and sugars and molecular structures and how they impact the gut micro biome. I'm starting to wonder if the possibility of pursuing another degree is in the equation because food nutrition absolutely fascinates me. But back to resistant starches (RS), this article sums it up well. And if you like to read studies, which my nerdy self does, I find this study interesting because it evaluates the RS content of raw beans versus cooked beans.

This healthy black bean soup is simple to make, full of flavor and very filling. My kids love to add their own toppings and sometimes we even add a poached or fried egg for extra protein.

Healthy Black Bean Soup
SCD, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan (optional)
yield: 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound dried black beans
5-6 cups bone broth (use vegetable broth for vegan option)
2 Tbs coconut oil *I've been loving this brand recently
1 medium onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 Tsp kosher or Himalayan salt
1 Tsp chili powder
1 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
a pinch of saffron (optional)
1 Tbs honey

TOPPINGS:
Sliced radishes
Guacamole or sliced avocado
Parmesan cheese
Cherry tomatoes
Microgreens

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the beans in a pot, cover with cold water, and allow to soak for 10-12 hours. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water. 
2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions, peppers, celery and carrots and sauté until tender and fragrant.
3. Add the beans and bone broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about an hour.
4. Add salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, saffron, turmeric and honey. Stir. Cover and continue simmering for another 25 minutes or longer until desired consistency. We like our soup a bit thicker.
5. Taste and season.
6. Serve soup in a bowl and top with sliced radish, parmesan cheese, avocado and/or micro greens. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

5/3/17

Summer Trends + A Minimal Wardrobe

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summer fashion
summer fashion
summer fashion
summer fashion
summer fashion
Just about a year ago we remodeled our master bedroom, bathroom and closet space so we could turn the outdated, confined layout into something more functional. The end result is a cozy modern room, a walk in closet and a bathroom with a glass shower and freestanding tub. Since the renovation I've been striving to focus on a life of minimalism and that includes my wardrobe. In fact, I've slowly worked on transitioning my wardrobe over to a capsule wardrobe. For those of you wondering what this is, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion; think skirts, dresses, classic jeans, black pants, button down shirts, t-shirts, blazers, coats, loafers, heels and boots. Neutral colors, neutral tones.

I'll admit, I love fashion, but I'm not one to always jump on board with trends in the fashion world. In fact, the older I get, I've noticed that I stick to the same styles of clothing and I've developed a daily uniform. On most days, you can find me in comfy jeans, slip on shoes or black & white Nike's, a basic t-shirt and sometimes a blazer with rolled-up sleeves. My makeup and accessories are minimal, diamond earrings and a couple gold rings, and I always have an over-sized black tote bag on my shoulder. But sometimes I like to switch it up, especially if we have plans or are going out.

You can easily add trends into your capsule wardrobe, but the key is not going overboard. By picking a couple trendy pieces each season, you can still keep your wardrobe minimal yet up-to-date and fashionable. This dress above is a perfect example! When eShakti contacted me and asked me to try a piece from their collection and review them, I was thrilled. eShakti is a clothing company that focuses on customized clothing. So when you choose an item you can customize the sleeves, neckline, length, and even whether you have pockets or not. I absolutely love this concept!

I decided to go with a current trend and picked an off-the-shoulder black dress. This off-shoulder ruffled cotton poplin shift dress is absolutely perfect for summer. Pair it with lace up sandals or wedges and you are all set for a night out or a casual afternoon. This classic piece is flirty yet easy-going and extremely comfortable. To be honest, I had a difficult time choosing just one article of clothing. There were so many that caught my eye and below are just a few of them that would compliment a minimalistic wardrobe.

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1. Friday Night | COTTON BLEND SURPLICE PEPLUM TOP
2. Girls Night Out | MIXED MEDIA SWEETHEART NECK JUMPSUIT
3. Pool Day | PINTUCK PLEAT LACE TRIM COTTON VOILE SHIFT DRESS
4. Sunday Brunch | OFF-SHOULDER COTTON KNIT SHIFT DRESS
5. Business Meeting | KNOT NECK COTTON KNIT SHEATH DRESS

For more unique styles visit eShakti // Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Google+

My daughter wears a Tea Collection dress & leggings and Lands End shoes.

*This post is in partnership with eShakti. All opinions voiced in this review are from my honest and personal experience.