Job Bliss

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Dear Diary,

After another overwhelming week with too many late nights editing, my Momma reminded me of a time in 2nd grade when she came to pick me up and I was sitting on the curb crying. She asked me what was wrong, and all I could get out was, “there’s just not enough time.” She didn’t understand what I was talking about, so I said, “I want to be a surgeon and do nails!” (My class was asked to decide what we wanted to be when we grew up.) I was so distraught at the thought of not being able to do everything. Being all of seven, I already knew I had a lot of “passions” and didn’t like the idea of being told I could only do or be one thing. By the way, I still don’t…

Soooo I never became a brain surgeon or a nail tech, but I still maintain that same desire to do it all. Which keeps me up to 4AM most nights. To me, “Skinny Fat” is representative of trying to have it all… a great body and the ability to eat the entire Cheesecake Factory menu (our solution: create hearty recipes that satisfy, but substitute in healthy ingredients)… buy the expensive purse, but stay on a budget (DIY that sh*t), be successful in your career, but have an amazing social life (make time for yourself!)… I have yet to meet a doctor/beautician, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist… I moved to LA determined to “make it” as an actor and dancer and had every side job imaginable, all at once, for several years. I most recently took my favorite passion and turned it into a career as a wedding photographer. With a hint of blogging, Adidas, acting, and working for my charity SoCal HeARTs on the side, of course. So as much as I feel focused on my photography, I’m still pulled in several directions.

We recently discovered the Tiny Devotions brand, which is a company that sells beautiful products with a statement. “The Tiny Devotions girl is free spirited and connected, but is also driven to leave her mark on the world while turning heads as she does it. She creates her own path, sets daring goals, always follows her intuition and does not sweat the small things.” (Something I’m still working on…)

With the chaos of wedding season, I sometimes need a reminder to stay calm and focused. This scarf does that for me. As I rock their colorful threads, I’m reminded to keep things in perspective, live my bliss and be thankful for having the opportunity to do what I love most. (Even in my most stressful moments I know I’m lucky!)

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Summer is typically hotter than Hades, but Southern California summer evenings actually tend to get pretty chilly. So in the spirit of keeping it light and summer-ish, I choose white jeans and a bright/light colored top. (I hate that Labor Day is almost here, and, technically, I’m supposed to retire my white apparel until Memorial Day next year… I will wear them everyday until then!)
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Jeans: Seven // Scarf: Tiny Devotions // Shirt: Maison Scotch // Shoes: Steve Madden (free shipping on $50+ orders right now!) // Purse: Handbag Butler (Psst… It secretly charges your phone! Thanks, Martha!) // Bangle: Stella + Dot
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Flourless Cheesy Zucchini Bread…Yes Please!

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Dear Diary,

Last night we all went out for dinner and I was lamenting to Valorie, that it was just one of those days…Val, never one to miss a comedic opportunity, broke out into the popular Monica song, “Don’t Take it Personal,” a la 1995.  I had forgotten that little ditty, but it couldn’t be more perfect in describing my mood this week. During times like these, I crave comfort food of the worst kind, namely deep dish pizza (You can take the gal out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the gal). But with our upcoming weekend trip to Laguna, I didn’t want to completely throw all my early morning workouts to the wind. So I decided to meet my craving halfway with cheesy flourless zucchini bread! It was definitely the right call…If you are in need of some YOU time, might I suggest this paired with a good rom-com!

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Here’s what you need:

-          2 eggs

-          ½ cup low fat mozzarella cheese

-          2 tbsp. nutritional yeast

-          5 cups of shredded zucchini

-          1 tsp of garlic powder

-          Shake of salt and pepper

-          Fresh basil

-          Olive oil spray

First you need to shred the zucchini, I used this handy, “as seen on TV,” tool. I, also used it to make zoodles for my pasta sauce.  Then, using a knife I cut the zucchini into smaller pieces. If you use a food processor to shred the zucchini, you will need to squeeze out some of the water the zucchini contains. It’s really easy. Just wrap the shredded zucchini in a paper towel and squeeze over a bowel. After a couple hearty squeeze, the zucchini will be good to go.

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, scramble the two eggs, add the zucchini, cheese, yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Combine all the ingredients together with your hands. Making sure to thoroughly coat the zucchini with the mixture. Using spray olive oil, lightly coat a large baking sheet or circular pan. Shape the mixture in the pan, as you see fit.  Then bake for about  25 – 30 minutes, until the cheese is browned.

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It’s great by itself, topped with some fresh basil or use pasta sauce as a dipping sauce. Serve warm and enjoy immediately… It reminds me of Pizza Hut’s cheese breadsticks, which is perfect for one of those days…

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SUMMER PASTA: healthy Carbonara

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carbonara 1 and SUNDAE 002 Dear Diary,

You guys know I’m no stranger to a great pasta dish!  Growing up, Italian food was a staple in our house and I’ve continued the tradition.  It seems like the SFG’s have had pasta fever lately… which is quite odd in the dry heat of a Los Angeles summer… but craving good, hearty food just can’t be helped!  But what can be helped is how we decide to prepare it.  At home in New York, my mom has a very specific way of preparing this dish– and it involves a LOT of cheese and heavy cream… and while her original version is quite delicious, I have to say my version is a strong competitor in taste and health.

Healthier is always the way to go… as much as I love food, I love my body more!  I’m not willing to undo everything just because I have a craving.  I say, give into your cravings… but add a guilt-free healthy twist!  Just ONE change, can make all the difference physically and mentally… so that the next day, you’re not feeling unmotivated or sluggish… but good about yourself; mind, body and soul.

What makes this dish so satisfying is the rich flavor– the sharp bacon and cheese combined with the sweet cream is a killer combination that can’t be beat.  But the great thing about such bold flavor, is that you don’t need as much as you think for it to shine!  Try my version out and tell me what you think– with less fat and more protein… I think you’ll agree!  ;)

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Here’s what you need:

1/2 bag of frozen peas

small bundle of chives

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup of Parmesan

1/4 nutritional yeast (adds the parmesan kick without more cheese!!)

3 eggs

3 tablespoons of skim milk

1 box of barilla–protein plus spaghetti pasta (add extra protein wherever you can!)

salt/pepper

organic turkey bacon (as many slices as you like!)

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Here’s what you do:

boil pasta, drain pasta and then return the cooked pasta to the same big pot

In a separate pan, heat olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic and organic turkey bacon until turkey looks completely cooked (add the garlic a couple minutes after the turkey has been cooking so that the garlic doesn’t burn!

When cooked add these ingredients into the pot of cooked pasta and mix together under low heat

then add one tablespoon of my FAVORITE butter GHEE for some extra smoothness!

In a separate mixing bowl combine 3 eggs, nutritional yeast and parmesan cheese… also a dash of salt and pepper! Then slowly add this mixture into the pot of pasta. Continuously mix the pasta and egg/cheese mixture together so that the egg slowly cooks and cheese slowly melts over the pasta, forming a sauce!

Half way through adding the egg/cheese mixture, add a dash of milk to cream-ify as well as the small bowl of peas!

continue to mix until everything is combined and add a small bundle of chopped chives for some extra crunch and flavor!

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And there you have it… a healthier version of one of my all-time favorite dishes!

Enjoy SFG’s!

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Sandy toes…

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Beach Pineapple

Dear Diary,

I grew up thinking I was of Puerto Rican descent because my momma spent her high school years there. When people would ask me how I was so tan I would nonchalantly say, “Well I’m Puerto Rican.” I remember the day my mom over heard me and had to explain that just because you live in a certain country doesn’t mean you’re of that nationality. Major buzz kill.

However, the past few summers I’ve been hiding from the rays and trying to protect my skin. Whether it’s hats, SPF or spray tans, staying youthful and cancer-free is a higher priority than getting dark. This summer between wedding season and my Peru trip with Tommy (in their winter!) I haven’t had a chance to hit the beach at all, so my first trip to the beach had to happen after getting a spray tan (Let’s face it, being tan makes you feel more slim, toned and helps hide problem areas) from On The Go Glow Mobile! They’re an amazing 24 hour service that’s all-natural and come to your house! Plus, you’re left smelling like vanilla instead of fried chicken.

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If you read Lauren’s post on swimwear you might remember her saying she likes to accentuate her top with a pattern and keep her bottoms solid for an optical illusion that draws your eye up. For me, I’ve always described my body like a 2×4 – Very narrow and straight up and down. I realize that everyone sees themselves differently and in all actuality I’m more womanly than I think, but in my defense I was given this complex since birth thanks to my delivery doctors. They told my mother that, “If she didn’t have shoulders on her like a Green Bay Packer she would have shot right out!” (Why thank you?… Who says that about a baby girl anyway?!)

So for me, I like to wear bottoms with a fun pattern to give me more in the hip department and help give the optical illusion of having a smaller waist. I also tend to go for bottoms with less material because the wedgie look makes your booty look rounder. More material tends to sag when it’s wet and no one wants to look like they’re wearing a diaper. If you have an old swimsuit and want to give it a quick makeover, try my swim DIYs!

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 L*Space Swim – Strap Back Top (pistachio) // Monique Bottom Bitsy-Sugar Rush Print

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Janessa Leone “Rita Panama” Hat (on sale!) // Banana Republic Sandal (sold out)

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my kinda sundae…

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HEALTHY SUNDAE SFG 5

Dear Diary,

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been in celebration mode.  First, I was celebrating my boyfriends homecoming after a long trip away… and since I always associate celebration with food… you can assume that there was A LOT of poor eating choices involved.  For almost a week we spent money (that we don’t have) on everything from pizza to Indian… then a few days later, it was time for yet another celebratory event– my BIRTHDAY!!  And you guessed it, with more celebration, comes more expensive meals and poorer food choices.  Hey, a girl only turns 27 once, right!?  But sadly… the festivities have all come to an end, and all that I have left to show for it is an empty wallet and a less-lean physique.

While I’m ready to jump back into my healthier routine– it’s not that simple.  Once I’m out of my routine, it takes a real effort to get back into the swing…But I’m up for it!  Plus I know that since I live a mainly healthy and fit life, I’ll get back into the swing a lot quicker than I think.  But that doesn’t mean all of my cravings will be gone… Once I start eating pizza consistently… all I want is the good stuff… and it goes the same with dessert!

This weekend I was finally getting back on track, when a craving hit… I had been eating so much cake and candy (thanks to my wonderful mama’s b-day care package), I felt like I was going into sugar withdrawal… and with the weekend finally arriving– I felt that it was again time to celebrate with sweets.  But this time, I was going to create something a little more satisfying for my body and mind with the perfect ice cream sundae!  This sundae is deliciously simple, and certainly a lot healthier than the traditional…

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what really takes this dish over the top is the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients– I was inspired to incorporate figs.  If you’ve never had them before– go to the store and grab them while you can!  The chocolate fig sauce and whipped “cream” really make this sundae unique.

The sauce is DI-VINE… the figs add an extra sweet bite while the dash of salt brings an unexpected kick!

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To balance out that rich, deep flavor of the chocolate sauce, I think a smooth whipped “cream” is in order…

Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to a fatty cream… You guys know that I like to use greek yogurt in pretty much anything!  I can’t help it– it’s such a tangy and healthy addition to any savory or sweet dish– by adding just a few simple ingredients it is easily transformed.

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Here’s how to create the perfect healthy sundae:

3 scoops of our FAVORITE ICE CREAM… halo top of course! (whey protein in our dessert?  Yes, please!)

FIG CHOCOLATE SAUCE:  4 Figs, 2 TBSP of Vanilla, a pinch of salt, half a bag of Lily’s vegan- no sugar added dark organic chocolate chips, & 2 tbsp of almond milk (melt all ingredients together in a sauce pan… then strain the chocolate sauce to get rid of the fig seeds for a smooth sauce!)

NO-CREAM WHIPPED CREAM: 1 vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, cup of plain greek yogurt (slice open that vanilla bean for those beautiful and flavorful seeds and whip everything together!)

spoonful of sliced almonds & elemental superfood crumble (this “granola” is THE BOMB DOT COM!!!!)

tsp of raw cocoa nibs for some extra sweet crunch!

1 banana

2 figs & no sundae would be complete without a cherry on top ;)

Share this sweet treat with a friend this week… trust me, you won’t regret it!  Enjoy SFG’s!

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Mac + “Cheese”

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Dear Diary,

After a very glutenous vacation in Peru (Check out our Instagram #SFGinPeru for some pretty snaps!) I’ve been trying to be better in the health food department. If you have any question that I’m exaggerating let me just say that for Tommy’s birthday I treated us to a 29 course meal. Yes, you heard me correctly… 29! And I may or may not have mistaken tomato infused butter for tuna. And ate it. All. However, the only thing I truly regret was brushing my teeth that night. I wish that flavor could live on my tastebuds for eternity. (Sigh.)

Needless to say, we’ve been doing our best to eat clean since we’ve been home. I’ve been recalling all my favorite healthy, yet filling dishes and whipping them up like the domestic goddess I sometimes pretend to be. This recipe in particular is one of my favorites because it’s comfort food made healthy. It’s a recipe I picked up from my girlfriend Abby over at Hummingbird Pilates (with a slight variation). It’s vegan and gluten-free, but has the hearty taste of a family comfort food classic. It’s Mac + “Cheese” and I’d say it’s just as good as the real thing! Don’t believe me?! Try it, I dare you!

Vegan Mac n' Cheese

Squash Mac ‘n “Cheese”

Ingredients:

  • 1 Butternut squash (Or substitute for canned pumpkin)
  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened & unflavored Almond milk
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4-3/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tbsp Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2-1 tsp Salt + Pepper (to taste)
  • 4 servings Brown Rice Macaroni
  • (Optional: Veggies. I like to mix in fresh spinach!)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Slice your butternut squash in half. Lay the halves in a dish and drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Roast uncovered until tender. (Around 45 minutes)

2. To prepare the cheese sauce: Add coconut oil to a sauce pan over low-medium heat. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together milk and cornstarch. Add into saucepan and continue to whisk. Mix in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic, lemon, salt + pepper) and stir until all the ingredients fuze together and start to thicken up.

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3. In a separate saucepan, cook your brown rice macaroni until tender.

4. Remove your butternut squash from oven and scoop out the center (1 cup) adding it to your food processor or blender. Blend the sauce with your roasted squash (if canned, just add 1 cup butternut squash or pumpkin puree into the pot with your cheese sauce).

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5. Strain and rinse your noodles and add them into the cheese pot. Mix them all together on low heat and serve.

I used the extra “cheese” sauce as a dip for veggies too!

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What’s your favorite healthy dinner recipe with a hearty feel? I need to add some more gems like this to my cook book!

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Homemade Pasta Sauce and Zucchini Noodles…Feeling like a domestic goddess

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Dear Diary,

I’ve been on a cooking crock pot frenzy: soups, stews and sauces. You pin a pot recipes, chances are… I’m making it. So being that it’s pasta night in my household. My usual routine of buying it in a jar just doesn’t fit my current cooking trajectory. I decided homemade pasta sauce is on the docket… How hard could it be?

Turns out it’s a lot easier than I expected, but it requires the one thing I don’t have a ton of during the week, time. My girlfriend, Liz passed along this recipe that comes straight from her Italian fiancé. I figured, he would know best, having grown up in Italy. He was baffled that we buy pasta sauce in a jar..! It seemed taking the lead from him would be a safe bet. Turns out my intuition was right on, this sauce is amazing! I just topped it over zucchini noodles and enjoyed my guilt free satisfying pasta!

Here’s what you need:

-4 cloves garlic minced
-1 yellow onion finely chopped
-1 lbs. ground turkey breast
-1 can of tomato sauce (this will help thicken the sauce)
-10 ripe tomatoes
-2 tbsp. fresh oregano
-2 tbsp. basil
-2 tsp. thyme
-1 tsp. of salt to start
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil

Grab the largest pot you have to make the sauce.
Pour olive oil in pan with garlic and simmer on low heat until it starts to brown.
-Add chopped yellow onion
-Sauté on medium heat until onion is golden brown and soft

- add the ground turkey, break into pieces with a spatula and cook until brown
-add diced tomatoes and salt
-stir and simmer for about 30 min uncovered while stirring occasionally.
-add herbs and stir
-taste sauce and add more salt until desired taste.
-Simmer another 40 min or until desired consistency.  The longer you cook the thicker the sauce will get. It took about 2 hours for my sauce to have the right consistency.

While the sauce is cooking, you can prepare the zucchini noodles. My friend gave me this “As Seen on TV”noodle shredder and what can I say, I’m a believer!  You simple place the zucchini in the tool and start turning… It takes a couple times to get used to but it’s legitimate. SONY DSC

I used about 2 zucchinis for my bowl of pasta. You can put sauce on the noodles and let it sit for a couple minutes to cook. Or you can place them in the microwave for 30 seconds.

You can also sprinkle brewers yeast on top for a cheesy flavor. Bon Appetite!

 

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Slumber Party Essentials!

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SP redo-3

Dear Diary,

Here’s our #fbf to the first time ever, all of our men were out of town at the SAME TIME! It was the perfect excuse for a twenty-something slumber party and we made sure to enjoy every second of it.  Not to mention, plan every detail of it…What can we say, being bloggers makes every occasion a Pinterest worthy opportunity, am I right? In between planning which rom-coms to watch and what homemade beauty treatments to perform, we also outfitted ourselves for the occasion in Plum Pretty Sugar. They have the cutest pajamas and robes….We are obsessed!best photo

They also have lots of different options and you know we love that. Being three girls with different body types, here’s what we chose: Lauren PJ set,  Jackie’s robe and Valorie’s PJ set.

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re-do SP3Happy Friday and if you are looking for a fun night in, might we suggest these guilt free snacks?

VEGGIE CUPCAKES

veggies cuplcakes us

Ingredients:

* ¼ cup of smart balance

* 1 cup of applesauce

* 2 eggs

* 1 tsp of vanilla extract

* ½ of greek yogurt

* ¾ cup of cacao powder

* 2 ½ cups of coconut flour

* 1 tsp of baking soda

* ½ tsp of salt

* 1 cup of grated zucchini

* 1 cup of grated carrots

Directions:

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes! (For the frosting) Melt together a tbsp of vanilla extract, coconut oil and a cup of chocolate chips!

This recipe is absolutely delicious.  Honestly, us SFG’s couldn’t get enough—but remember a healthy cupcake may not have the same consistency of a sugary one!

SWEET POPCORN

popcorn

Ingredients:

* 1 tbsp coconut oil

* ½ tsp salt (optional)

* ⅓ cup popcorn kernels

* ¼ tsp vanilla extract

* 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder

Need:

* small spray bottle for vanilla extract

* sifter for protein powder

Directions:

Put coconut oil, salt and 1 kernel in large (high wall) pan and heat on the stove. Place the lid over the top and wait for it to pop. When the first kernel pops, add the rest of your popcorn kernels. Even out the kernels in bottom of pan, coating each with the oil. Place the lid back on the pan and wait. (I like to shake the pan back and forth to help disperse the heat.) While the popcorn is still hot, lightly mist it with vanilla extract and sprinkle the protein powder on top, shake it up until it’s evenly coated. 

edited yes

Photos: Samantha Zachrich

TGIF!!!

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RAW-GUST SALAD

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sfg raw salad 4

Dear Diary,

When I told my friends that I was attempting to partake in “Raw-gust”… they basically laughed in my face.  And the truth is, while I love a challenge… this challenge is kinda unrealistic for me… while I love snacking on raw foods, I can’t live with out a home-cooked meal all month… and eating “raw” means nothing is cooked. So… with that said, I changed my definition of raw-gust to a less-restricted version.  Instead of only eating raw foods for the month of august, I’m going to attempt to make a few raw meals per week– try something new, and making the last month of summer a healthy one!  It’s good to get out of your “food comfort-zone” sometimes… I often like to stick to the same vegetables and recipes that I’m used to making, but unless you try something new… you’ll never know what you’re missing!  This month is about getting more creative with vegetables– and fortunately since it’s Raw-gust, there’s not much cook-time involved!  Perfect for August, where I’d rather be spending time outdoors with family and friends than in a kitchen sweating over a hot stove!

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With so many great vegetables in season… it’s the perfect time to hit up your favorite farmer’s market and experiment with some yummy ingredients– here’s to keeping it raw & DELICIOUS!

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Why eat raw!?  While I’ve known that vegetables lose crucial nutrients from high heat, I’m learning new facts from this experience… did you know that vegetables start losing nutritional value the moment they’re harvested?!  Now that I know that, the more local and simple I can keep my vegetables, the healthier they are for me.

Why salad?!  Well, while I’m stepping out of my comfort-zone… I’m not treading too faraway.  I don’t often make salads at homes so experimenting with new flavors and textures is perfect– but making a “raw lasagna” just feels too foreign for this Italian food lover this early in the “raw-game”…!

Want to make this for yourself?  It’s very simple.  Here’s what you do!

What you need: a peeler… it’s basically your best friend for this dish.

Boil some water and use a heat-proof strainer to steam your vegetables (this way the broccoli and asparagus can soften up a bit without being cooked!)

after a few minutes of steaming (or until vegetables are soft) immediately place into a bowl of cold water in order to shock the vegetables and keep them looking bright and green!

Then… use a peeler to slice up 2 long carrots & 1 cucumber

now all you have to do is assemble!  Place the vegetable along with 1/4 cup of almonds for some crunch!  That’s it!

For the dressing, this is what I did… combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper

the lemon citrus flavor is a perfect compliment to the broccoli and asparagus :) YUM.

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If this is raw… I can get used to this.  Feel free to add some tofu in there as well for some protein!  That’s raw… right?!  ;)

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Also check out this other summer salad if you’re digging making salads at home!

Enjoy SFG’s… and remember to step out of your food comfort-zone… every once and a while!

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Summer Strawberry Treat

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Strawberry 1

Dear Diary,

This weekend I was in need of some serious R & R. Friday night, felt like a tribute to my college days. I was visiting a friend in Santa Barbara and the night quickly turned from dinner into a bar hopping extravaganza. Irish car bombs, Jager shots and tequila were involved… Saturday morning, my headache reminded me that college ended some time ago.   I didn’t want this weekend to be a total bust of binge watching, “Orange is the New Black” and ordering takeout. But my body was in need of carbs…lots of sweet carbs. So, I headed to pinterest for inspiration.

Strawberry short cake recipes kept catching my eye, though I couldn’t make these recipes as is, without having major food guilt.  So I headed to the kitchen to create something that would be SFG approved. Coconut flour and stevia are ingredients that would help cut the sugar and carb count. I’ve been wanting to bake with them for some time… Unfortunately, there aren’t exact conversion charts for substituting these ingredients for sugar and wheat flour in recipes. Stevia is about 300 times sweeter than sugar and coconut flour doesn’t behave like wheat flour. Believe me, I had a couple fails before this recipe worked out. Here’s some things I learned that might be helpful in your own kitchen experiments.

- 20% of the flour called for can be substituted with coconut flour, the other 80% has to be rice, wheat or “real” flour

-1 cup of sugar is closely the equivalent with 1 packet of stevia, or about 1 tsp of the dry stevia

Here’s what you need to create your own #SFGapproved “Summer Strawberry Treat.” It really does help with hang-overs and is guilt free :)

 

 * 1/4 cup coconut flour

* 3/4 cup  flour

*2 tsp. Stevia

* 1/4 Fage Yogurt 0%

* 1 tsp. lemon juice

* 1 tsp. cream of tarter

* 1 tsp. vanilla extract

*1/4 tsp. of salt

* 12 egg whites (about 1 and 1/2 cups of liquid egg whites)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan and set aside. Combine coconut flour, cake flour and stevia in a bowl, stir with a whisk. Use another bowl to beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peak forms.  Add cream of tarter, lemon juice and vanilla to the eggs; beat until smooth.

Next, take the flour mixture, and slowly add to the egg white mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time. Gently fold the flour into the egg mixture each time, until all the flour mixture is gone. Then fold in the Greek yogurt.  Using a spatula, place the batter in the pan. Bake for about 40 – 50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Using a metal spatula, loosen the cake from both sides and place on a cooling rack. Wait until the cake is completely cool. Then cut into 2 inch square and place in the bottom of mason jars, top with strawberries and Greek yogurt. You can also throw on some mint if you are in the mood.

fruit parfait

Enjoy!

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Coffee Cocktail?!

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Dear Diary,

Summer has always represented “break” to me, however not being in school anymore and in a career (wedding photography) thats busy season is summer changes all that.  I’m constantly pumping myself with caffeine to get through the day and occasionally wanting to cut loose on an off night. However, I definitely still need that coffee to keep me going, so I played with mixing the two. I’m putting a whole new meaning on coffee-aholic. If you love coconut and coffee you’ll also love Jackie’s homemade coconut popsicle float or you could check out the other time we froze coffee for the sake of beauty

Coffee Ice Cubes

Pour coffee into ice cube trays and freeze.

Coffee Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

* 1 oz coconut milk

* 1 oz Kahlua

* 1 oz coffee

* Frozen coffee ice cubes

* (Optional) Sprinkle of cinnamon – (But you know how we feel about this miracle metabolism booster!)

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Don’t judge me, you can also skip the Kahlua and just have it as an iced coffee! Annndddd the coffee ice cubes won’t water down your cup of joe! Cheers to that!

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STAMP NECKLACE by Irina Victoria Jewelry

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Dear Diary,

When our friend and fabulous jewelry designer, Irina Victoria, introduced us to her new collection of stamp necklaces… we were immediately blown away.  Not only by the delicate and chic design, but by the powerful messages each stamp entails and the great impact a small message can do.  Mantras are a great reminder to each of us… they can act as a guide for your attitude and goals every day.  Through out your life, these small mantras can serve you… as well as those around you– and these stamp necklaces tend to get attention every where we go.  :)

What makes these designs even more spectacular is that through the purchase of one of these necklaces… you’ll also be helping endangered animals throughout the world!  The pieces are inspired by wildlife and were created to support ongoing efforts to help save endangered species and threatened ecosystems. 50% of proceeds from each sale of the Do Good/Be Kind/ Live As One necklace will be donated to the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN)!

Who is WCN, you ask?  Great question SFG’s!  WCN is a highly regarded U.S.-based charity whose mission is to protect endangered species and preserve their natural habitats by supporting entrepreneurial conservationists who pursue innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive. Care to learn more? Visit their website wildnet.org

Check out which pieces from the collection we chose below…

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Lauren is sporting the “be kind” necklace in gold…

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Val is rocking the” do good” in gold as well… these blondes were made for gold metallics, weren’t they? :)

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And last but not least, Jackie is changing it up with the “live as one” stamp in silver!

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we get to look stylish and do something good too?!  that’s what we call good karma :)

check out our other post on this talented jewelry designer here… and make sure to check out her site to buy one of these necklaces for yourself :)

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Confidence: my favorite way to suit up

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LSPACE JACKIE 1Dear Diary,

I blinked, and it’s August!  I can’t believe how quickly the season goes by… we’re officially in the height of summer, and I’m taking full advantage.  I usually find myself day-dreaming about summer by early February– I get excited about beach days, pool parties and margaritas with my girlfriends, but soon my day dreams turn into delusions… Suddenly, as I picture myself enjoying all these sunny festivities (with food/drinks galore), I’m magically 10 lbs. thinner with a spray tan!

I envision that by the time the hot weather rolls around, my body will be perfect and I’ll feel confident in all the seasonal attire that goes along with summer fun… but of course, it never quite turns out that way…  why doesn’t it ever turn out that way, you ask?  Because my fantasy transformation is completely ABSURD!!

But as each year goes by, I get more confident with who I am and the beautiful body I got… but instead of panicking about what bikini is going to fit the way I want, I often decide to go with a good old fashion one piece instead.  In my opinion, one pieces often get a bad rep– often times a little coverage can make you look even hotter than a bikini– especially when you’re lucky enough to be rockin’ one by L*Space!

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For me, if I’m not feeling comfortable with what I’m wearing, there is NO WAY I can enjoy my day… I get too self-conscious!  In the past couple of years, I’ve really made an effort to let that go– it’s not easy to put your neuroses aside when you’re not feeling your best, but it’s important to go out and enjoy your life whether you’re feeling super-awesome or not!  Staying healthy and picking outfits that make you feel the most comfortable though do make this struggle a little bit easier… :)

The night before this shoot, I had a quesadilla and nachos with all the fixings… it was cheesy, oily and completely amazing… and I’d go crazy (and be a complete liar) if I said I was happy to eat only salads and nuts for the entire summer!  I eat what I love (in moderation of course), and don’t want to feel like my indulgences are going to haunt me in a swim suit the next day.

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That’s where the right swimsuit comes into play :) Confidence on the beach (even after a night of cocktails and delicious mexican food) is possible when you choose a swimsuit that you love… This suit by L*Space is flirty and figure-flattering– camouflaging areas that I want to avoid, while creating focus where I want it… it shows off my curves, without feeling like I’m on display.

I love bikinis too, but what’s wrong with a cute onesie!? Instead of worrying about how flat my stomach looks, I’m able to enjoy the beautiful waves and focus on having fun!!     No wonder the suit is named “the sweet thing” one piece ;)

LSPACE JACKIE 4

Be confident and love being you this summer :)  Share with us your summer stories!

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Sail Away Attire!

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Dear Diary,

I’m absolutely obsessed with bright colors this summer! Until recently, I never really embraced my body type and used to hide it behind dark colors. After years in hot yoga rooms, gnarly spin classes and kick-boxing. I began to judge myself less and appreciate what my body could do. In celebration of this freeing moment, I felt compelled to literally set sail in this ensemble. Through my sailing trek wasn’t very far – around the harbor to be exact… It felt symbolic of a new journey in my life – a more appreciative one.

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The anchor tank, in all its bright peach glory, spoke to my new found “grounded” self and I just had to splurge! The cut-offs are actually old Joe’s Jeans that I simply cut into shorts with fabric scissors. Ripped shorts are one of my favorite trends this summer and not to mention really affordable when you are reusing your old denim. I love pairing them with a fun pair of bootie heels, it shows off all the hard work you put in at the gym. photo 1

Scarves are great accessories for the summer; chic by day and functional at night. I absolutely love my Prana Del Mar scarf by Tiny Devotions. The company is a community of hippies, yogis and health fanatics – my kind of people! The scarf is named after a place on the southern, tip of Baja, Mexico. In ancient times, goddesses would go there to seek solace and it was believed to hold special healing powers of the sea…The shores of Venice don’t have quite the same aesthetic, but the ocean felt freeing nonetheless. The scarf is a tiny reminder to see the world through rose colored glasses.

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Bon Voyage!

 

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Edible Arrangements?!

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Dear Diary,

When you live in California you deal with earthquakes on the regular. And the last one broke all my flower vases!! Waaahhh. I haven’t had a chance to scour Goodwill for some new glass wear, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from housing some gorgeous florals. Having fresh flowers in the house just makes my day instantly better. I can’t help but smile when I see them! I was cutting up an afternoon snack and thought this pineapple could be a good housing option for these stems. What you you think?!

DIY Pineapple Vase

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Choose an array of your favorite colors and textures. Don’t forget the greenery it fills out your bouquet and is much cheaper than flowers!

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Cut off the top inch of your pineapple (You know, that funny tree-looking part).  Take your knife and cut around the inside of the rind and then slice a grid (think tic-tac-toe) in the middle of your pineapple. (Make sure not to puncture the sides of your fruit. You don’t want a leak!) I then took a spoon (a melon baller would work best) and scooped out the middle of the pineapple, eating it as I went of course! All my meals have to be multipurpose! Haha.

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I lined the inside of the pineapple with a sandwich bag before filling it with water. That way the pineapple juice doesn’t affect the flower’s water.

Do you have any clever ways to design centerpieces?! Share with us in the comments below!

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