Flourless Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Monster Cookies

I am not a baker. I do not have the patience for baking or the attention span. However, I have discovered in the past few years that I am ironically not too bad at “healthy baking”. Taking a decadent desert and swapping out just a few ingredients to cut the calories is surprisingly easy! Plus, it’s a great excuse to justify eating two or three at a time!

After stumbling upon a pretty basic Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies recipe on Pinterest, I took their version and spiced it up a bit. Again, if you are someone who is tied to a recipe, this might not be for you. Like most of my recipes, this one especially is super interchangeable depending on taste or the ingredients you have left over. This is my take!

Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of Almond Butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • a splash of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Bake:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease one cookie sheet
  • Combined all ingredients together into a big bowl.
  • Once ingredients are combined equally, take an ice cream scooper or big spoon and scoop batter onto cookie sheet into even proportion sizes.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Let them cool and enjoy!

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Clean Beauty: You Are What You Eat & Wear

 

Did you know that every 35 days, your skin replaces itself? Your body generates new cells based on nutrients that you may or may not be getting from your diet. However, it takes more than conscious eating habits and daily exercise to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.  It also requires attention on the products we are choosing to use on our bodies. Have you ever been curious enough to check the list of ingredients in your favorite face cleanser or daily moisturizer? Most beauty products do not even list these toxic ingredients because the FDA doesn’t require them to. The United States has banned only 11 harmful cosmetic ingredients opposed to the 1,400 banned in Europe. It takes a whopping twenty-six seconds for chemicals to enter your bloodstream from personal care products such as lotions, shampoos, and makeup. Twenty-six seconds!!! We come in contact with so many harmful substances each and every day without even knowing it. Some of these are unavoidable while others can be replaced with some careful consideration.

It is essential that we continue to talk about the importance of Clean Beauty. Though this concept is a growing one, I am grateful to have access to clean beauty stores, like Credo, right here in Chicago! Credo is a new natural beauty supplier located in the heart of Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.  Credo’s mission is to get people to think about the ingredients and products they put on their bodies. Their brands go through a rigorous screening process to ensure that the product is safe and effective. All products must be clear from any harmful or toxic ingredients. They are also required to have a purpose and most importantly, nothing added! No secrets or unknowns.

I was lucky enough to score an invite to an exclusive event the other evening from a dear friend/yogini/badass/blogger, Lauren Massarella from the Sister Project. These amazingly talented sisters are doing their part by partnering up with local natural beauty suppliers, like Credo, to help spread the word! If you are in the area, check it out!

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I will admit, Clean Beauty can be a little overwhelming especially if you are new to this. When beginning this process, it’s suggested starting your focus from the neck down. Meaning, start with reading the label of your body lotions, shower gels or anything topical you use on the daily. Slowly begin to introduce yourself to a more natural approach. Eventually, like anything else, this mindfulness will just be apart of your daily routine. Remember, it doesn’t have to be expensive either! Certain products like coconut oil can serve many different purposes.

Though I do love my beauty products and taking care of my skin, the process for me must be easy, simple, and quick. It shouldn’t take a lot of money to complete an all natural safe look. Listed below are just a few of my favorite daily beauty products that are natural and safe to use!

Warning: DON’T BE FOOLED!!! Not all beauty brands who claim to be all natural or authentically green actually are. Also known as “Greenwashing”. While writing this blog, I too was shocked to find that Tarte was one of the “trusted” brands that fall into this category. Do your research!

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Charcoal + Aloe Face Cleanse by little barn Apothecary 

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little barn Apothecary’s main focus is to cultivate goods with organic and wild harvested ingredients that are completely natural and simple. I fell in love with this brand right away and have yet to be disappointed by any product I have purchased thus far. My favorite being the Charcoal+Aloe Face Cleanse. Activated charcoal has become a huge beauty trend in recent years. It’s known to pull out pollutants from the skin while helping to heal and prevent breakouts. Aloe naturally hydrates the skin making these two a match made in heaven. A few pumps of this black liquid gold and you are feeling fresh to death!

 

 

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Thayer & Company has been described as the largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in America at the time of the Civil War. A 100% vegan company, Thayer’s has been dominating the Clean Beauty business for decades. Witch hazel has been used for centuries to treat acne, redness/swelling, psoriasis etc. With many different fragrances to choose from, the Rose Petal is my favorite! Natural oils found in roses, like Vitamin C, help to retain moisture. I typically use this in the morning and at night to get off excess dirt, oil, and makeup.

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

 
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OK. This stuff is a game changer! Being just a few years shy of 30, I decided it was time to start thinking about an anti-aging. I will admit, sun protection has never really been my thing. As any true Chicagoan knows, the sun is absent for about 6 months out of the year and I am someone who loves soaking up vitamin D any chance I get! A vital element in the production of collagen, vitamin C can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles & discoloration, while offering antioxidant protection from photodamage. A few drops applied to the face in the morning and at night and you will see an improvement almost immediately!

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

I’m not going to spend too much time on this since it’s amazing benefits have been exposed by many in the last few years. But have you ever seen the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? You know the Father’s solution to every problem in life was Windex? Well, ladies and gentlemen, coconut oil is equivalent to “Gus” Portokalos’s Windex solution.  An amazing body lotion, hair conditioner, makeup remover and natural lubricant. The list goes on and on and on. This is probably the easiest and cheapest clean beauty product to start with!
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Schmit’s Natural Deodorant

 

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Store bought deodorants are very toxic and harmful to your body. Ingredients like aluminum and parabens are being placed directly onto our largest organ, our skin. Many argue that wearing these toxins are far worse than eating them because they are being absorbed directly into the bloodstream without any kind of filtering. After many of failed attempts with other natural deodorants, I have finally found the only thing that works, Schmit’s! This product has been tested in even the hottest/sweatiest yoga classes and still made the cut. With many unique fragrances to choose from, the Bergamot+Lime is my absolute favorite and leaves you smelling fresh all day long.

Gressa Eye Tint

This eyeshadow is like none I have used before! Gressa Eye Tint is an innovative 100% Vegan formula that transforms from cream to velvet, instantly enveloping the eyelid and providing fault-proof and smudge-free wear.  What I love about this cream is that it’s super versatile and buildable. It can be worn as a shadow or eyeliner.

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Cheesy Green Chili Cornbread

Warning: This is not your ordinary cornbread recipe. Nope, not even close! Every summer I look for any & every excuse to make this yummy side dish. Packed with crispy bacon crumbles, spicy pepper jack cheese, and green chiles, this little number is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

Ingredients:

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  • 1 box of cornbread mix (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • Two 4oz cans green chiles
  • 6 strips crispy bacon crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 can of corn drained

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Thoroughly grease a medium sized cast iron skillet (an 8×8 baking pan works just as well).
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornbread mixture, milk, oil, and egg.
  • Continue to add in the crumbled bacon, one cup of shredded pepper jack cheese, and corn. Make sure to not over stir!
  • Once ingredients are evenly mixed together, carefully pour batter into the cast iron skillet.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm with honey and/or butter!

Enjoy as a great side dish at any BBQ or solo as breakfast with a hot cup of coffee!

 

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Protein Packed Detox Salad

After a tough workout, the last thing you want is to fudge it up by making an unhealthy food choice. After years of paying $12-$14 for the salad bar at Whole Foods, I have finally become a master in salad making. Or at least I think so. And if you are anything like me, super indecisive, this process can be overwhelming and disappointing if you don’t have the right ingredients. Salads are not only a great way to get your daily fill of veggies but also very versatile. This simple salad recipe is my go to for any quick meal and can be switched up multiple ways depending on taste, preference, or simply based on the ingredients left in your fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cucumber peeled & chopped
  • About a cup of cherry tomatoes sliced in halves
  • About a cup of chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 a cup of green onions chopped
  • 1/2 a cup of red onion chopped
  • A bundle of Kale roughly chopped
  • A bundle of Iceberg Lettuce roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of Feta cheese
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 1/2lbs of chicken ( I use the Perdue grilled chicken strips when I am pressed for time but I often will make balsamic chicken in the crockpot for added flavor)

*Optional Ingredients*

  • 1 cup of crumbled bacon
  • 1 cup of crispy chickpeas
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts, almonds, pistachios etc.
  • 1 cup of cranberries
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • chicken could be substituted for tuna, steak, or tofu

Dressing:

  • About 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of minced or powdered garlic
  • A dash of salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • half of a lemon juiced

 

Like Elaine from Seinfeld, I am a fan of a big salad and I will make extra’s to keep throughout the week! All of these ingredients, both the salad and dressing, are interchangeable. Paired with a cold and crisp rosé, this basic salad recipe is a summertime must!

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Live & Let Live

One of my hardest life lessons in my 28 years around the sun so far has been understanding the art of “letting go”. This umbrella term can be relatable to almost any and every life experience. We all have had, at some point or another, an ah-ha moment in realizing that perhaps a friendship, lover, job or situation that once fulfilled us has become a negative in your life. For whatever reason, a change has occurred and it becomes dead weight. It not longer is serving us the way it has in the past. Although, coming to this conclusion sometimes is the easy part. What one can’t always prepare for is the actual process of nonattachment. The process always sucks and sometimes we still never get the answer or closure we hope to find. Sometimes the answer itself is you simply coming to terms that in order to achieve happiness, we must hold ourselves accountable for it.

Sometimes we choose to stay in a relationship or situation that no longer serves us due to many reasons. The feelings of guilt or shame. That the ego has something prove. Or the sheer fact that fear is standing in the way of the unknown. Being creatures of habit, we often respond well to routine and the familiar. When our routine and familiar gets turned on its head, that’s when we typically turn to panic mode.

When we allow ourselves to constantly live in the past, we are are not discovering self-growth. What once was, is now gone. Though it doesn’t have to be forgotten. That is where the true test of letting go comes into play. It’s ok to look back at a friendship or relationship and cherish the time what was spent there. It’s OK to love these people from afar and wish them well. It’s not an accident where and who you end up meeting throughout your life. Your path led you to that experience or person for a very specific reason. But some things/feelings/experiences are not meant to last but are simply here to teach us a lesson. Part of letting go is taking the time to ground, seclude, meditate and really take an analytical approach to what lesson is to be learned. Sometimes we already know the answer to our question and other times, it takes patience.

Overanalyzing on how these changes affect you in the future is just as bad as clinging to the past. Often times when we look to the future, the perception of our own reality starts to get a little fuzzy and that’s where expectations are created. We might have a very specific idea or image about someone or something but if that person or thing does not live up to our expectations, disappointment follows. No one has a crystal ball to gaze into to assure you of what’s to come either. One thing is clear though. Life happens. We have no control over what happens and how other people respond. But what we do have control over is proactively taking steps in changing the way we think, respond, and engage with change.

Let me make something very clear here.  Have I myself mastered this concept? Hell no!!! I’ll be the first to admit that past and future come back to haunt me all the time. But, I am more vigilant of these mind fucks. My yoga practice has taught me to not be so reactive all of the time. I know I can’t change the people or the situations around me. Yet, I can change the way I digest and acknowledge them. People and life experiences will continue to disappoint me throughout my lifetime. That I can guarantee. But it’s truly up to me in how I go about dealing with change and disappointment.

I try my hardest to find gratitude each and every day for any form of negativity that comes my way. It’s a constant battle, but so is forearm stand. Some day’s my feet barely leave the ground and others I feel like I could balance on my forearms for hours. No pain, no gain. No mud, no lotus.

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