In my house, we live on snacks and lots of no-bake recipes with the Southern California hot weather. These protein balls are so quick to whip up for an afternoon snack! I'm pretty sure the batch hardly ever makes it past the same day in this house, but you can store these in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Three Ingredient No-Bake Protein Balls
Gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, low-glycemic, keto, vegan
~ 1 cup almond flour
~ 1 - 1 1/2 scoops protein powder (mine is salted caramel! You might have to adjust the amount a little depending on your flavor!)
~ 2-4tbs water
~ 1/2 cup Lily's sugar-free chocolate chips
Mix ingredients to form a sticky dough, place in refrigerator to firm up for a couple minutes. Roll into balls, and freeze for about an hour. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and coat frozen bites. Stick finished protein bites in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened, and try not to eat all in one sitting! These are best eaten straight out of the refrigerator as they tend to soften up quickly in ambient heat.
,I know, I know - you're thinking, "chickpeas and CHOCOLATE? How do those two even go together?!"
Well, my friends, they go exceptionally well together and are a great protein-packed SUGAR-FREE snack. As the chickpeas are dried, they lose that earthy flavor and instead become rather neutral and almost like a candy cluster with the decadent dark chocolate.
Chocolate Chickpea Clusters with Himalayan Salt
Gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, low-glycemic, vegan
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup of Lily's sugar-free chocolate chips
Himalayan salt, for garnish
Yep - only T H R E E ingredients! (or two, not including the salt, which I find add a really nice touch)
- Place rinsed and dried chickpeas on a cookie sheet and bake at 300* for about an hour, or until they are dried all the way through - it's important that they are completely desiccated, and the chickpeas cannot have damp centers prior to being covered in chocolate.
- Once they are dried through and almost powdery on the inside, take them out and pour into a heat-safe bowl. Pour chocolate chips on top and allow residual heat to melt the chocolate. Stir to incorporate and cover the chickpeas with the chocolate thoroughly.
- Drop the chickpea chocolate mix onto parchment paper with a tablespoon, and garnish with Himalayan or other flaky salt. Allow the clusters to cool in the refrigerator, and enjoy. These will keep up to a week in sealed container, as long as there isn't any residual moisture in the chickpeas.
In one of my many late-night Amazon scrolling sessions, I stumbled upon this mixture of different types of salt and decided to give it a try. I love Maldon salt for the wonderful flake, and Celtic sea salt for the briny flavor, but was looking for something a little less of a garnish and would impart more of a tasty punch to my vegetable dishes.
This is the Sea Salt Shack's sampler, but there were a bunch of different ones to choose from! It gave me a good selection to try the various types so I could order more in the future accordingly. Prior to this endeavor I hadn't tried Hawaiian salt, which was pretty fun to experiment with on different dishes.
Hawaiian Black Salt: this mineral salt is pulled from Hawaiian waters and then mixed with Hawaiian volcanic lava powder, which is rich in carbon in the form of activated charcoal (hence the black color). Activated charcoal is also great for detoxification and kidney health. It has an earthy flavor, so it's best on eggs, meats, hearty vegetables, and even fish.
Hawaiian Red Salt: this salt is mixed with an iron-rich volcanic clay, which provides the deep red color and tons of minerals and nutrients. It has a smoky flavor, so it's good on potatoes, seafood, and jerky. Both of the Hawaiian salts have a lower sodium content due to being mixed with mineral earth, and they both fun to provide pops of color on otherwise bland dishes.
French Grey Sea Salt: out of this salt sampler, this one was my favorite. It has a briney flavor similar to that of Celtic Sea Salt, with a little bit more of a crunch. French Grey Sea Salt is harvested from clay-lined salt ponds in the Guérande region of France, which gives it a grey color and mineral-rich moisture (meaning the salt actually appears slightly damp!). This salt blends really well with any dish, but it's also a great garnish for chocolates and salty-sweet dishes.
Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt: this one definitely lived up to the name of "crystal salt," and ended up being a little too crunchy for my tastes. However, it had a good flavor, and was good in dishes that allowed for the salt to dissolve, like soups, broths and brines, or as a large garnish on chocolate and desserts. Pink Himalayan salt is high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron, which are minerals that aren't typically found in regular salt.
Experimenting with these four made me think about how many types of salt are out there from around the world - and how I've tried so few! Do you have any favorites? Let me know in the comments!
I've been asked a handful of times what I do for my face and how I haven't worn makeup in over three years.
And let me tell you, it took some work and experimentation! I believe that good skin starts in the gut, so along with actual topical care I've worked on hydration and gastrointestinal health. I'm only a year postpartum and breastfeeding, so my skin still fluctuates due to hormones, as well. But I have a tips to share on how you can get smooth skin, long lashes, and a gorgeous complexion without lots of expensive bottles!
My daily routine was inspired by a Korean skin care method that has ten steps. As a busy mom, I wasn't about to attempt ten steps, as even washing my face daily was sometimes a challenge. I usually only wash my face in the morning despite my best efforts - at night I'm usually too tired or forget, plus it's a great way to wake up in the morning.
Ultimately, I narrowed it down to four steps: exfoliation, rose water, vitamin C serum, and castor oil.
Exfoliation: This can be any gentle scrub, the one I use has manuka honey and walnut shells for a great natural clean slate. Manuka honey is naturally anti-bacterial, and walnut shells are a fantastic alternative to those plastic scrubby beads (that never actually degrade!). Try not to use too harsh of a scrub every day, as this is just to get the dirt and surface debris off.
Rose Water: You can make your own or purchase one! Either way, make sure the rose petals are organic and not sprayed with pesticides. Rose water helps tone and soften the skin, plus it smells amazing!
Vitamin C Serum: I've experimented with a couple like these here and here, I think I'm still on the lookout for a better one, but I have really liked the effects of the Vitamin C combined with the Hyaluronic Acid. Vitamic C helps with collagen production (which reduces with age), and the Hyaluronic Acid helps the skin retain moisture.
Castor Oil: I LOVE castor oil for lips, brows, flyaways, cuticles, dry skin, crusty elbows, and bruises and scrapes. My recommendation is to get a bottle with a pump top, because it makes it SO easy to gloss and go. Just put a little drop on your index finger (a little goes a long way!), and smooth in an upward direction on your lashes, and an outward direction on your brows. I've even noticed that the extra moisture on my undereye skin seems to reduce the dark appearance and wrinkles.
I've been doing this routine almost daily since May! Changes in your skin will take time, and I've noticed that my eyelashes just continue to grow longer the more I use castor oil, and I even have a hard time keeping up with plucked brows since they pop up so speedily.
Notice how I don't actually use any soap! I've found that soap tends to dry out the skin by removing too many oils in the cleansing process. Depending on your skin type, you may find different areas of your skin (t-zone, chin) might need an alternative treatment to the rest of your face. Don't get too discouraged if there aren't noticeable changes right away - these natural treatments can take up to six weeks while your skin is adapting.
For the pictures, the collage is ONE COAT of homemade mascara (I'm still working on the perfect combination, but I'll post the recipe when it's done!). The other two are MAKEUP FREE, and just have my "gloss-and-go" of brows and lips with castor oil.
I LOVE snacks, and while my little guys are too young for back-to-school season, I can never have too many healthy treats for on-the-go (especially for myself!).
If you want to turn this into a true trail mix with dried fruit, dried cranberries or chopped apricots are really complementary with the pistachios, buttery almonds, and chocolate. I'm not too much of fan of when the fruit adds moisture to the nut mixture, so add them right before serving to keep it tasting fresh.
Why Marcona Almonds? Marcona almonds are from Spain, and they have a rich, buttery flavor. They are more rounded than California varieties, and are similar to macadamia nuts. They have a sweet, delicate flavor that makes the chocolate really pop.
Why Pistachios? Pistachios are rich in vitamin B6! Vitamin B6 is important for blood sugar regulation and the formation of hemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Per ounce, pistachios have more potassium than half of a large banana. They are chock-full of healthy protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Marcona and Pistachio Snack Mix
Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Grain-free, Vegan
1 cup Marcona almonds
1 cup Pistachios, shelled
1/3 cup Lily's sugar-free chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried cranberries, optional
Mix ingredients together, add in dried fruit if desired. When looking for a healthy dried fruit option, try to find ones without added sugars - the one linked to the recipe is actually sweetened with apple juice instead of refined sugar. This snack mix lasts without fruit in a sealed container for over a week, but it might not last that long once it becomes a staple snack!
Frozen watermelon in the summer is so much fun to play with! The benefits of watermelon for hydration and nutrition are numerous, and you can eat it in so many different forms. Here are four ways to enjoy your watermelon icy cold:
1. Grated Watermelon - you guessed it, this iced treat is literally frozen watermelon chunks that have been shaved by a cheese grater! I cut the watermelon into thick strips and froze them separately so they were easy to shave. Grate the watermelon chunks straight into your serving bowl. This method tends to melt really quickly, so only grate the watermelon right before serving. Throw in a few sugar-free chocolate chips and you have a delicious refined-sugar-free dessert!
2. Shaved Watermelon - by taking some of the same watermelon chunks that were used for the grated watermelon, I used a knife to create thin, beautiful curls. It's a lot like shaving chocolate, or cheese, but don't get too wrapped up on trying to make perfect curls - the watermelon is pretty fragile so you may end up with more shards than loops. Both ways taste delicious and have a beautiful presentation.
3. Watermelon Popsicles - this method is by far the easiest and lowest-prep of these cold sweets. After cutting up the watermelon, I poured the remaining leftover juice through a nut milk bag (you can also use a fine sieve - it's mostly to get the seeds out, so if you use a seedless watermelon and don't mind the pulp then you can skip this step). Pour the juice into the popsicle molds and freeze! This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be shocked at how many times I poured the juice down the drain instead of drinking or freezing it.
4. Watermelon Cake - this is from my son's first birthday, and it was hit for everyone in the family. The freezer is your best friend with this cake, even though you can serve it semi-frozen or even with only the top whipped cream layer frozen:
Start by cutting a seedless watermelon into a cube (or shape of choice! Round looks more like a traditional baked cake). The easiest way to make a cube is to cut off both ends, place the watermelon upright, and cut off the rind in straight lines. If you prefer rounded edges, follow the white pith as a guiding line to take of the rind to end up with a football-like shape. Stick the in the freezer while you make the whipped cream. You can keep this "cake" vegan with whipped coconut cream, or keto/low-carb/refined sugar-free with heavy whipping cream and a couple tablespoons of Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener. Coat the cake with the whipped cream, just a thin layer making a "crumb" coat, and stick back into the freezer for about ten minutes - or until the whipping cream on the outside has formed a little shell. Layer on the whipped cream with a spatula until smooth, and garnish with blueberries (or other berry of choice!). Serve immediately as it's best semi-frozen, and the longer the watermelon and whipped cream is exposed to heat, the more juice runs out and ruins the aesthetic appeal. We never got that far, though! Both of my toddlers and my husband devoured the entire cube before that was even a question.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy frozen watermelon?
I'll be honest - ever since I worked at a gym, I haven't been very good at following workout programs at home. I've tried Insanity, P90x, kickboxing, and Pinterest workout challenges. Lately, my workout routine has mostly consisted of running around after my rambunctious infant, so I wasn't very keen to work up another sweat after a long day when I'd rather slip into pajamas.
Enter in Yoga with Adriene. I was pleasantly surprised when I hit my first full week of following the videos DAILY - without trying too hard. My husband even remarked that he noticed a difference on the days I did yoga and when I took my "rest" Sundays. Adriene isn't particularly different than other yoga instructors, but I appreciate the ability to select from a variety of workout intensities (full disclosure: I spent a whole week seeking out videos with "stretch," "relaxation," and "refresh" in the title). She has a fun presentation, sometimes says some off-the-wall comments, and can be pretty funny. Moreover, she's very relatable and real, so it's more like practicing yoga with your friend instead of attending a class.
These videos aren't all easy, either. There are days where Adriene powers through moves that I can't even keep up with - definitely a goal to work up to! Or she does some advanced yoga moves, which sometimes I feel would be better practiced in an environment where feedback from an instructor would be beneficial.
Physically, I've noticed my flexibility slowly increasing (I've always had a problem with my hamstrings). Psychologically, there have been improvements in mental clarity - even when my kid is trying to climb all over me while during my practice. I've started to brew a cup of chamomile mint tea before yoga to aid in the relaxation even further - take this excuse to pamper yourself! Honor the time when you come to the mat as a gift you're giving yourself and those around you. The midday slump has been a perfect opportunity to squeeze in Adriene's 17-40 minute videos, and having the ability to select a shorter practice is great for those days when time is pressed. As an added side bonus, I've noticed my son putting his little booty in the air to mimic my downward dog! I love that I'm setting some great exercise examples for my son while taking the time for myself - I'm a much better, more patient parent when I've had the ability to take some time for myself.
Over the past few weeks, yoga has become an integral part of my day in a way I never really thought would happen. I've known the benefits of yoga, but each of the in-person classes I attended felt like glorified stretching. Adriene is very encouraging of accepting where you are at in your yoga practice, as well as offering modifications to help you attain the most out of her videos. Some days are a huge push to get out the mat, but each day I find myself motivated by how I feel after I'm done. Sometimes there's nothing better than taking a little extra time for yourself in Shavasana or corpse pose to regain composure, feel relaxed, and reorient yourself before tackling the rest of the day.
Want to give it a try? You can find her videos here.
I'll be honest - I was so hungry and the food was so enticing that I completely forgot to take the picture until a few bites were already missing! The Hideaway Cafe certainly lives up to its name - the place is very small with only a handful of tables, and has a diner-type vibe. The restaurant is tucked away in the back of other shops and is difficult to spot unless you're looking for it.
This omelette is filled with turkey, colby jack cheese, and mushrooms - and as you can see from the picture, is quite sizable. The hashbrowns were well-done and crispy (which is how I enjoy them), and they came that way without any prompting. Overall, the food was slightly greasier than other restaurants I've been too, but it didn't detract from the scrumptious flavor. The waitstaff was incredibly conscientious and prompt, and the experience was delightful.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give Hideaway Cafe a solid 5. The food was delicious, the coffee was good, the service was excellent, and I would definitely try another dish there again.
In college (and sometimes even now), my friend and I would send each other ridiculous amounts of "cute" photos – I’d send her pictures of baby polar bears, and she’d send me images of adorable (human) babies. Over time, I learned a few cool things about polar bears, so it was especially terrible to see one of the latest articles from National Geographic. Polar bears are starving due to ice melting, and it’s illegal in Canada (where this photographer was shooting) to feed these polar bears anything to sustain them. These poor bears are slowly laboring in a painful emaciated state trying to find food, and are dying in increasing numbers. Original National Geographic video here.
Why do I care about polar bears?
Polar bears have really awesome unique traits, along with having some of the most adorable cubs. Moreover, it saddens me to see any animal in this state - to have their habitat literally disappearing in front of their eyes and not have an ability to rebuild their environment. As hard as we try, we can't grow ice back in the Arctic. But we can create an awareness and possibly change things for polar bears, and all Arctic animals, in the future.
Ursus maritimus is the polar bear's scientific name - it means sea bear. All of the polar bear's body is designed to be a powerful swimming machine. Polar bear fur has two components, a dense underfur and top guard hairs.
Did you know?
Polar bear fur isn’t actually white – and their skin is actually pigmented black! Each hair shaft is free of pigment and is completely transparent with a hollow core. This design scatters and reflect visible light, just like snow, to give the bear an overall white appearance. Their black skin covers a layer of fat that can be up to five inches thick.
These white-appearing bears have rough, black footpads to grip the ice, along with claws that measure up to two inches long. Polar bears primarily hunt seals, and in the spring and summer tend to sleep more during the day as the seals are more active at night.
Fun Fact: Almost 60% of polar bears are found in Canada! The rest are dispersed amongst Alaska, Greenland, Russia, and Norway.
Male polar bears reach sexual maturity around ages six to ten, while females are between the ages of four and six. The mammalian urge to "nest" is seen in polar bears, as female cubs build snow dens and stay safely tucked away during their gestation period and birth, usually from September to April.
Fun Fact: Wild polar bear cubs are most often born in December! Twins are most common. Cubs are blind, toothless, and covered with short, soft fur, and nurse for approximately twenty months before moving on to prey.
Polar bears primarily hunt ringed seals, as these seals are the only food source with a high enough fat and calorie content to keep a polar bear sustained. Ringed seals cut ten to fifteen breathing holes in the ice, using their sharp claws on the front flippers. These breathing holes are open during the entire winter, even in ice up to six feet thick. The seals surface about every five to fifteen minutes at one of the holes or use air pockets trapped under the ice. Polar bears wait for seals to breathe at the openings - they locate them with their sensitive sense of smell and anticipate the seals emerging. Their nose is so powerful it can detect a seal twenty miles away, smell a seal den covered with snow, and find a seal’s air hole up to one mile away! This can take hours, and up to days! Polar bears often lie still and pounce with impressive speed and force when in sight of their prey.
Fun Fact: Polar bears can eat 100 pounds of blubber in one sitting!
A group of polar bears is called a pack or a sleuth, and unlike their brown and black cousins, they do not hibernate (cold weather is just a fact of life!). They can swim up to six miles per hour, and have been known to swim over 60 miles without rest for food. The polar bear’s fat not only stores energy and keeps them warm, but it also increases their buoyancy when they swim!
Fun Fact: the word "Arctic" comes from the Greek word for "bear," and "Antarctic" comes from the Greek, meaning "opposite of the Arctic" or "opposite of the bear." You will only find polar bears in the north pole, while penguins are found in the southern hemisphere (so unfortunately those cute images of them together just aren’t accurate).
So what can we do about it?
1. Speak up and create an awareness about these poor animals losing their habitat, share this information with your friends!
2. There are a number of polar bear conservation efforts out there that always could use more help! Polar Bears International and World Wildlife are good places to start.
3. And finally, let's cultivate an awareness of what we do that impacts our earth, so that we can hopefully improve the world in the future for humans and animals alike.
Original National Geographic video here.
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