MY BOOK IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!!!! + Cover Reveal + HUGE Giveaway

Okay, so I have a huge announcement to make — so huge, in fact, that I am writing a blog post on a SATURDAY!!! Whaaatt?!?!

I was waiting for the VERY second to be able to share this with all of you in real time, and it’s finally here: Breaking Vegan, my debut memoir, is AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER. Before I go on, let me just hit you with this list so you can decide where you want to buy from (or all of the below, if you’re me or my family… Mom, did you hear that??), and then I’ll tell you more & all the SWEET STUFF you’ll get for preordering!!!

Amazon: Here

Barnes & Noble: Here

Indie Bound: Here

Indigo Books: Here

Bookish: Here

And here is the COVER, for the first time ever seen!!!! Cover photo by my main dude + forever partner in crime Tynan Daniels.
Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.51.48 PMFirst of all, seeing my book on an actual website like those listed above brings me to TEARS every time I think about it, because this book is my blood, sweat, tears, life, love child, heart and soul, dream come true, life story, innermost feelings, lifelong goal, boyfriend (lol, but really). all of the above and then some.

Secondly, I want you all to know what a H-U-G-E (and when I say huge, I mean massive) role you all played/are continuing to play in bringing this book to life. Without my blog readership and social media following (a.k.a YOU!!!), Fair Winds Press never would have found me, my agent Sarah at Sterling Lord Literistic never would have found me, and I would still be blogging away and hoping, wishing and yearning for a book deal… One day.

And to my great luck, surprise and THRILL, that day is actually now. Pinch me please.

Remember my excitement face the day I finished writing it?

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No one has read the book other than my editors & the sensationally inspiring doctor who invented the word “orthorexia” and so kindly agreed to write the Foreword for my book — and who I am now lucky to call a friend and a mentor. By signing up to pre-order, you will be among the first to read this book, get a glimpse into my life before the blog and interact with me about it ALL… I seriously think I will be sitting on top of my computer waiting for emails to interact with book readers because I will be feverishly awaiting discussion about it and feedback!

For a bit of background — the book is all about my transition from veganism, my eating disorder struggle, my recovery process and everything in between. It is a tale from the heart, and to say that I am BURSTING AT THE SEAMS excited to share it with all of you is a vast understatement.

The book publishes on November 1st, meaning that the earliest you will get the book is that date… But it is super important to pre-order! Then it will come RIGHT to your door on publishing day and you will get to enjoy without the wait and the hassle! And you get tons of awesome stuff from me for doing so. I very much want to make sure everyone who pre-orders has fun stuff to enjoy while they wait.

What You Get for Pre-Ordering!!!

– Everyone who pre-orders the book will receive a FREE 10 Recipe eBook (that I am currently working on and will be done in the next 2 weeks maximum) along with colorful food photos for each recipe. The layout of the eBook matches the layout of my book, so you do get a sneak peek into what’s to come — eek! All you need to do to receive the free eBook is pre-order the book and email me your purchase receipt! (My email = thebalancedblonde@gmail.com).

– Everyone who pre-orders and emails me will be put on a special book-related email list (if you WANT to be on it — this is not required at all, it’s just for fun) where I will send out weekly updates, recipes & “what I did this week” breakdowns! When the book releases, it will include all tour date info and will be the first and best place to get up-to-date and personalized information from me.

– The first 500 pre-orders who email me will get a signed book plate with an individualized message from yours truly! Basically a signed copy of the book but even better, because you’ll get these book plates SOON!

– The first 10 people to order & email me their receipt will get a 20-minute Q&A Skype session with me talking about/asking any questions or topics that you want!

– Everyone who pre-orders has a guaranteed spot on the list for my first book signing in Los Angeles in November. Even if you live too far to come, hopefully the book plate / eBook / newsletter will hold you over until I come to your city — where you then have a guaranteed spot on the list!

GIVEAWAY!!!

I am also hosting a HUGE giveawayfor everyone who pre-orders the book! Are you ready for this…?! This giveaway is so big and exciting that organizing it for the last few days has been a full-time job in itself. Because I love you guys that much and want you to have exciting stuff while we wait for the book countdown.

If you pre-order the book & email me your purchase receipt, you will be automatically entered to win one of these nine fabulous prize baskets! The contest will be open for 2 WEEKS, and if you include in the email why you’d like to win, that will help me decide who to choose!

* BONUS POINTS for hashtagging #breakingveganbook on your social media photos and reposting the BOOK COVER PHOTOS!

* For the GRAND PRIZE only, you must also post the cover photo of the book on social media hashtag #breakingveganbook, telling your friends/followers to pre-order! You can also post a selfie instead of the book cover, or a photo collage of the giveaway items. The hashtag is the most important part!

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GIFT BASKETS FOR BOOK PRE-ORDERS:

Grand Prize (More than $550 total in product!): A pair of Lululemon pants, a NutriBullet blender, a 16-pack of Pitaya Plus packets, a case of Bai antioxidant infusion, a jar of Justin’s maple almond butter, Justin’s dark peanut butter cups, 1 box of Peanut Butter RxBars, a bottle of VEEV VitaFrute (organic vodka), a box of Nourish Snacks, a CaliScrub facial scrub, a large bag of Philosophie Superfoods Green Dream powder, prAna E.C.O Yoga Mat, Bison Bacon Cranberry EPIC Bars & Sample Pack of EPIC Bites, 1 large tub of VEGA Protein Powder, 1 TBV Apparel tee of your choice, a box of Liquid IV healthy hydration supplement

Prize #2 + #3 (Same Prize Items for each): A NutriBullet blender, a 16-pack of Pitaya Plus packets, a case of Bai antioxidant infusion, a jar of Justin’s maple almond butter, Justin’s peanut butter cups, 1 box of Coconut RxBars, a 4-pack of Clean Energy RUNA tea, a bottle of VEEV VitaFrute (organic vodka), a box of Nourish Snacks, a CaliScrub facial scrub, a small bag of Philosophie Superfoods (flavor of your choice), prAna E.C.O Yoga Mat, 4 most popular EPIC bars + a bag of EPIC bites, 1 large tub of Vega Protein Powder, 1 TBV Apparel tee of your choice, a box of Liquid IV healthy hydration supplement

Prize #4: “A LuluLemon Experience With Jordan” (So fun!!) — The opportunity to come into the Brentwood, Los Angeles Lululemon store and try on the latest and greatest Lulu trends! Jordan (me) will hang with you and help you decide what to get, and you will go home with a brand new free outfit! Killer prize, in my opinion. Plus a prAna E.C.O Yoga Mat!

Prize #5: A Lovin’ Summer beach tent — basically the coolest thing around, and it’s 99% UV protective. If you live by the beach or are going on a beach vacation this summer… This is your prize.

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Prize #6 + #7: The Beauty Basket! A pack of Sunology sunscreen, a case of Cate McNabb Cosmetics & Hello Hair product

Prize #8 + #9: The Hydration Basket! VEEV VitaFrute organic vodka + mason jar, a case of Bai antioxidant infusion drink, DRINKmaple 12-bottle case of maple hydration beverage (so yummy), case of RUNA tea, Liquid IV healthy hydration supplement

Cool giveaway, right?!?!

I am just so freakishly excited to share this book with you, and I want to make sure that while we will patiently wait (or not so patiently if you’re ANYTHING like me) for the November 1st publishing date that we have lots of fun and awesome swag / interaction to hold us over.

Recap: Pre-order the book from any of the outlets listed above & email me your purchase receipt, and you will get:

  • a FREE 10 recipe eBook with food photos in the same beautiful/awesome layout + design of the book!
  • access to an exclusive weekly email list with me where you will get book updates, “what I did this week” updates & healthy recipes! (if you want — this is of course optional)
  • guaranteed access to my very first book signing in November
  • the opportunity to get a signed book plate with a personalized message from me (first 500 emails I get will get this!)
  • the opportunity to win a 20-minute Skype session with me (fun!!!)
  • the opportunity to win one of NINE awesome prize baskets (grand prize requires social media photo + hashtags)

Lastly, there is LOTS of fun book info to come, like…

  • a VIDEO for my Amazon book page that I filmed two days ago with my favorite humans Tynan Daniels + Austin Daniels that will give the first sneak peek into book photos!
  • a YouTube video of me reading the first chapter (a.k.a Prologue) out loud on camera, eeeek!! I tried this two days ago with Ty and Austin and was shaking the whole time so I need some more practice with this, clearly…
  • Tour Dates!!!
  • Launch Parties!!!
  • I will be releasing a couple of recipes from the book in the weeks/months to come, if we hit our pre-order goals! Help us do that by pre-ordering today!

LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!! TBB, over and out.

For now, at least. :)

…. Let’s make #BREAKINGVEGANBOOK break the Internet!!!

ALSO, if you are a BLOGGER and want to participate on the “Breaking Vegan Virtual Book Tour” in November, EMAIL ME now and I will put you on my list! Yippee!!!

Visit all the brands involved in this giveaway! They are all my absolute favs, and I am thrilled that they are all involved in this super exciting time for me: Lululemon, NutriBullet, Pitaya Plus, Drink Bai, Justin’s, RxBar, VEEV VitaFrute, Nourish Snacks, CaliScrubs, Philosophie, prAna, EPIC Bar, Vega, Liquid I.V., TBV Apparel, Lovin’ Summer beach tents, Sunology, Cate McNabb cruelty-free cosmetics, Hello Hair hydrating mask, DRINKmaple & RUNA!

How to Fall in Love with Working Out

FTC Disclosure: While I was compensated for writing this blog post in affiliation with the fab Old Navy, all opinions are my own– as always!

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I am so excited to share this post with you because it showcases something I am ever so passionate about: making working out fun. You don’t think I’m such a fitness addict because I spend time doing workouts I am not entirely in love with, right? Right. Everything I do fitness-wise I do because (through lots of trial & error) I love doing it. Life is too short to waste time or energy doing things you don’t thoroughly enjoy. Might sound silly or cliche but I mean that wholeheartedly.

I do not waste my valuable time doing things I do not like… Including taking fitness classes from a teacher I have never tried or never heard any great recommendations about. It might sound a little harsh, but I know myself and I know that I am the type of person that feels like time has been wasted if I finish a workout class I didn’t enjoy doing.

Our time is too precious for that, my loves!

And if that makes me harsh then I am okay with it, because that was Step 1 in my journey to choosing & solidifying a super consistent workout routine that works for me.

KumWq6v6Vrb8__WqeMF1T3jqcgswO3BhX07wnFN4cw4,t9uuNoscA85UuYtjubEOLSNBv44k-digDf9taErtMtMThere is an enjoyable workout out there for all of us.

Hate running? Try yoga, pilates, hiking, HIIT, rowing, weights, volleyball, jumping rope, swimming, kickboxing, surfing, rollerblading, spinning or biking to name a few.

Hate group classes / sports? Try out solo activities like running, home practice yoga (there are so many great podcasts you can download), weights and non-equipment workouts you can do at the gym.

Yeah, I’m not buying it if you tell me you aren’t into working out. If you haven’t found what you love yet, that’s a whole different story! And I am here to help you do just that. : )

In order to do so… I’ve partnered with Old Navy to remind you that our workout clothes are #BuiltForPlay! A.k.a, we’ve gotta have fun doing what we’re doing, or else there is no use doing it at all.

Here I am balancing it up in these super comfy cropped yoga pants (see the design peaking out?! Where are my purple lovers at?!) & grey Go-Dry tank with pink straps, and black sports bra (SO COMFY).

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Here I am meditating in Malibu in one of my favorite Old Navy #BuiltForPlay outfits. Meditation is a huge part of my life and my fitness routine. When I work out, I work out HARD. It’s part of my personality — I take a lot of stress and anxiety out on exercise. It’s an amazing release. Because of that, I have to make sure I set aside time to be kind to my body, mind and spirit. A bunch of pavement pounding and cardio flow body classes are great for the bod, but they don’t do a WHOLE lot for our innermost psyche. So, I have to balance my tough workouts out with zen, zen and more zen. Meditation does the trick for me, along with stretching and yin yoga classes.

fG8GjReh_zjDMUf-tGmIzyMAjTsWSqSfBZ6nqf_4oeI,azjBzAzDRTOMYGKc0AWmejcRXxZVScH4Jj0ZrkjBf5s,-Pen71kntbKhY9FUcwMjoF_b2K8IuSfOJ2TI9xs0sBASpeaking of varying up my usual fast-paced workouts, here I am getting my stretch on post-yoga in the same fab outfit:

Ykl6ELUQMgHlHusghJt03KN0pol1Kvm7w_p9V86S27Y,mdbywRngx8PbJQjAfvVNBb9cWCzmMt9KC1G-BEJJLd0,d3lNbPkHlbECK-zsoeRw_X2VtUzQH9FyqnM0FQzmIq4If you are going to work out hard, then you absolutely, 1 milllllionnnn and fifty percent cannot forget to stretch.

And if you aren’t an indoor fitness person, I highly recommend doing one of a few things:

1) Getting outside.

2) Putting aside all judgments. (I.e: “I’m not a good runner, so I’m not going to run.” or “I’m not flexible, so I can’t stretch in public!”). Save those judgements or hesitations for someone who is not ready to take the plunge & fall in love with their workouts! I know it can be challenging at first, but you wouldn’t believe how nice it can be to get outside and clear your head by doing something active.

3) Try either running (on the beach, if you’re near one!), hiking, walking your dog / with friends, or going to a calm, peaceful place and doing some stretches and meditation. I promise once you’re done you will feel on top of the world. And if you don’t, accept it as a learning experience & know that it’s time to try something else next time!

Hello, beach run! The shirt says 24/7 because that’s how dedicated you should feel when you are working out – in my opinion. Wellness is a 24/7 commitment, baby. Not to be obsessed over, but to be enjoyed and prioritized in a healthy, balanced way. And I love these shorts — I am still wearing them as I type! It’s hard to find a good, comfortable, well-fitting pair of running shorts when you have short legs…

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My personal favorite workout: It’s no secret that I love yoga, and I love the beach. So you can’t be too surprised when I say that my ideal workout is an intense yoga class on the beach (in the SHADE!), with people I love / a kickass teacher, and then some deep stretching and a dip in the ocean. The yoga class, to be my most ideal, would get my heart rate pumping & would definitely make me pour sweat. I would probably vary it up with a run the next day, so my body doesn’t get too burnt out doing one thing. I may get addicted to workouts I love, but I know that the burnout is REAL and I have to vary in order to be consistent & on top of my game!

Beachy breeze meditation in this awesome grey tank that I want to wear every day of my life & print TBV Apparel phrases on (!!!). : )

KoQUzZP-LGW7CH4YDFEF_zx601c3YnnW6azMngF82lc,4Py4lI2HbRJG1YJB6gxeJqrp3cHiDyVKSgUe_fJN-ZE,HY7uzUswJKVC0ygGW8XlZmSrC385ZayQsJRVVoJrOcYAnd some smiles, because yoga makes me happy. Also… these pants!! Ocean pants. Make me feel like a mermaid.

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And last but very certainly not least… Yoga. My lifeline. My zen. Also, this black tank is life — I will be wearing this baby everywhere.

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How do you have fun with your workouts?! These comfy, breathable, sweat-friendly & super cute clothes certainly help motivate me to get outside and get my heart pumping each & every day!

 

 

The Importance of Plant-Based Skin Care

Hi beautiful ones! First of all, happy Earth Day!!! In honor of Earth Day I want to address a topic that I get asked super, duper frequently by all of you: what the heck is my skincare routine?

What people mainly ask me is whether I follow a natural, organic, plant-based skincare routine similar to the way that I eat?

{ Face Mask Queen!!! }

bootsbotanics9The answer is what you probably could have guessed: yes, I believe in the importance of plant-based skincare (and natural ingredients, because my skin is so sensitive!!) but I don’t get totally crazy about it if I use something here or there that isn’t natural or plant-based.

I went through a phase where I was so addicted to living the all natural life that I didn’t use anything on my skin at all except for a face cleanser and moisturizer… wait, that was a phase that lasted almost my entire life, lol.

One of the reasons I am okay with being more lax now about it is because I am educated about the importance of plant-based skin care and what it can do for me. I like to spend a ton of time in the sun (helloooo, Costa Rica!) and I know I have to take care of my skin well if I want to age well… which I definitely, most certainly do.

BootsBotanics1So, here I am with this post to educate YOU about the importance of a natural skincare routine, what to look for, and some of my favorite products.

A skincare line that I absolutely love is called Boots Botanics. They offer tons of great skin-friendly options that I have been really into using for hydrating, moisturizing, toning, exfoliating and cleansing. They also have super cute lip glosses and roll-on lipsticks that my lips are pretty addicted to… yes, I have them in nearly every color. #balanced

Boots Botanics‘ have a line called Organics, which is my fave. Each of the 10 products in the line are all 80-100% organic, and the materials that are used in the products are produced in a way that minimizes environmental impact and maximizes the essential nature of the source. (I.e. their hibiscus, gingko, willowbark, rosehip, purple orchid, Iceland moss, Vetiver… etc.)

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Plus, they don’t test on animals and there are no animal-derived ingredients. Like I said, I don’t limit myself to non-animal tested products because there are so many things I try to juggle in my mind on a daily basis to be as good to the environment as possible—but, when I find a good company that doesn’t test on animals I definitely consider it a huge plus.

Also there are no parabens in the products, which is necessary for my sensitive skin! Some of my favorite products of theirs are the Organic Facial Oil & the Ultra Calm Skin Calming Serum – trust me, I needed that. My skin, on a usual day, is the opposite of calm!

Plus, do you wanna learn some fun things about all-natural skin product ingredients that you might not have known before?

Hibiscus: Has natural AHAs that act as a mild exfoliator to leave skin smooth, glowing & bright!

Gingko: Has natural antioxidants that prevent collagen and elastin from breaking.

Willowbark: Has salicylic acid that reduces the size of pores and improves blemishes. (I need this the most!)

Rosehip: Super nourishing, as it has natural Omega-3 and 6 oils that keep skin looking supple & healthy.

Vetiver: Nice & relieving for our skin! It has a natural aromatic scent that relaxes and relieves tension and insomnia. (Hello, you know I am an insomniac extraordinaire!)

Purple Orchid: Has natural sugars and polyphenols that help smooth and plump lines and wrinkles.

Marshmallow Calming!!! It has natural sugars and polyphenols that make skin less reactive.

Iceland Moss: It moisturizes, and has natural sugars that help calm and hydrate the skin. Especially good for those of us with dry skin.

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And now that you are hip on some of the sweet all-natural ingredients in many plant-based skincare products (and especially in Boots’ products), I will give you a little rundown on my personal skincare routine:

When I am on vacation, like I just was, I add some extra hydrating steps, so keep that in mind when reading:

My Personal Skincare Routine:

Okay, so! The number one thing I try not to do is pick my face – I used to be (and as in “used to” I mean I haven’t done it in a week so I’m pretending like I don’t do it anymore) a major skin picker. I use q-tips to squeeze my skin/black heads when I’m stressed, and let’s be honest… who doesn’t love how satisfying it is to watch those puppies come right out of your face and be gone forever.

And if I am going to pick my face, I make sure to do a couple of things first: shower in a super hot shower to get my pores nice and open; exfoliate (with hibiscus products, now that we know they are a natural exfoliant); cleanse with warm water; and moisturize directly afterward. And always use a q-tip or tissue! Don’t put your hands on your precious face… no matter how clean your hands are!

When I’m not picking, I have a pretty standard routine: Shower, exfoliate all over with a hibiscus scrub & a dry brush (I am addicted to dry brushing! More on that soon. Such an amazing stress-reliever and so good for our skin), and cleanse with a gentle, all-natural cleanser (I am loving the organic softening cleanser from Boots’ Organics package).

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About twice a week I like to do a clay mask (see above! Yummay) after I shower to remove impurities, cleanse a little deeper and also because doing a face mask helps me to relax and officially begin the chill out part of my day – something I am always trying to work on. The Boots mask has willowbark in it, which helps to reduce pores and clarify. Heck yes.

If I don’t do a face mask then I usually apply some sort of 100% organic facial oil. It’s super important to me that this oil be all-natural, and then I cleanse it very well afterward. My skin tends to be a little oily to begin with, so the nourishing oils from a facial mask are great to give it the hydration it needs. Then I need to make sure I get it all off!

So I cleanse, and then the most important step (in my opinion): I moisturize like craaayyy-zay! If it’s nighttime, then I use an overnight, thicker moisturizing lotion. In the daytime I use a thinner variety with SPF.

And of course I put body butter all over my bod after I shower, because I am addicted to lotions and how amazing and calming they are – just like my candle addiction.

bootsbotanics3So, there you have it my loves! I would never use so many products on my body if they weren’t natural / easy on the skin, because my skin would flare up in a hot second.

What are your thoughts?! Do you have a natural skincare routine? Fav products?! Let me know! Visit Boots‘ website to learn more about their awesome products & fall in love as much as I have. 

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Low Glycemic Green Smoothie Deliciousness

Hi beauties! I hope everyone is having a phenomenal week. I know I am — LA may not be Costa Rica, but it has been gorgeous here and I have been feeling extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful city. I spent the day at the beach yesterday with my photog taking pics for a couple of fun upcoming projects… And I left sun kissed, happy, grateful and at ease. I am such a beach freak.

In other news, today I want to share my all-time favorite low glycemic green smoothie recipe with you. I will be the first to say: I love sugar. I have a sweet tooth, and having a good amount of fruit (mainly banana + mango) in my morning smoothies tastes delicious to me. However, I also like to eat dessert. And drink wine. And make yummy healthified chocolate treats. So I don’t necessarily want to pump my breakfast with lots of sugar (even natural sugar, yes) because I know later in the day I will want to indulge with something sweet and delish. Probably dark chocolate. Or raw vegan PB cups.

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The other appeal of low glycemic smoothies is that they won’t spike your blood sugar, meaning that you will stay fuller for longer and your metabolism will work more efficiently. Your insulin levels will remain normal, and as my beautiful nutritionist has taught me, that means more fat burning and more efficient use of fuel and energy.

Oh, and if you know anything about this bloggy then you also know… just because it’s low sugar, doesn’t mean the taste is compromised. It still tastes as yummy and satisfying as ever. And if you have no problem with a little more fruit sugar in your smoothies, be my guest to add a banana, 1/2 of a banana, 1/4 of a banana… (you get the gist!). Sometimes I love adding a banana to this combo and subbing out the avocado, or leaving it and doing both, reaping the benefits of all those healthy fats and fiber.

In this particular recipe I used Organic Girl romaine as the main green in the smoothie. If you prefer spinach or kale, go for it! I like to switch it up, and romaine has a nice strong flavor that reminds my taste buds I am drinking something oh so good for my bod and my system. Especially after a week in Costa Rica where there was a major shortage of veggies in my meals, I need all the extra greens I can get! My body responds so well to a nice, healthy, balanced breakfast.

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Organic Girl (unbiased, I swear — I just like to share real, amazing, rockin’ companies with you guys) is my favorite brand of greens by far. They use organic produce with no synthetic pesticides, and they prioritize using recyclable packaging. PLUS, their greens are washed three times prior to packaging, meaning irrationally busy folk like myself don’t have to worry about slaving and scrubbing over the sink before using. Just grab a handful, and toss them in!

The AVO in this smoothie (a.k.a the most underrated, delicious & creamy smoothie ingredient known to mankind!) brings you a healthy dose of fats, which is a fabulous way to stabilize blood sugar, give your brain and body a boost of energy, and start your day out right. And the CHIA brings you fiber, meaning you will feel nice and satiated, and fiber helps with absorption of all the other nutrients you are getting in this smoothie.

So… You ready for the ingredients?! There’s a yummy herb in there you might be surprised to hear, but it makes the smoothie even more fresh and yummy.

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 Low Glycemic Green Smoothie Deliciousness:

Ingredients:

1 cup Organic Girl greens (I used romaine hearts)

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 avocado

1 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tbsp. cacao powder

1 handful fresh mint leaves

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup ice

Method: Blend!

Annnddd the final product is pretty darn tasty!

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If you want to get any of the tasty superfoods on this ingredients list (or a few other things I use on the daily) I’ve created a fun little shop section for you below!

Let me know if you try it, and enjoy!!! PS countdown til the release of some SUPER EXCITING news… 4 days!!!

Costa Rica Diaries

Hi loves! I am officially back from Costa Rica, and I don’t even know where to begin. We were staying on the beach, in the middle of the jungle, in one of the most serene and tropical places I have ever seen. We did yoga twice a day, hiked to a gorgeous waterfall in Montezuma, snorkeled on Tortuga Island, swam in the warm-as-bathwater ocean, ate lots of fresh fish (and maybe a little fresh gelato!!), lounged in hammocks on the beach, did a lot of journaling, soaked in the sun and made some incredible new friends.

To say that I fell in love with Costa Rica & had an incredible time with the people I was with would be a vast understatement. But I’ll say it anyway… I fell in love with it and had an incredible time.

It was a different kind of trip than I am used to — when do you travel with a group of 30 people, almost all of whom you’ve never met before, to a remote location that is 8 hours away from any airport or main city?! The fact that it was so different from what I usually do made it such an awakening experience for me. It was totally out of my comfort zone, and I needed that more than I even realized.

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Part of the awesome yoga crew

Yoga retreats are pretty personal journeys to begin with. People decide to go on them for all sorts of reasons… sometimes to gain perspective, to get a break from everyday life, or as a way to cope with something tough going on.

I went on the retreat for a few reasons. One, because I love yoga and one of the teachers leading it has been my longtime teacher and friend. Two, because I have always wanted to go on a yoga retreat and have the chance to deepen my practice in a beautiful, peaceful setting. Three, because I am a sucker for a good tropical vacay and saw photos of the beach we’d be staying near and couldn’t turn it down. And lastly because one of my BFFs was down to go so I knew if nothing else we would have a great time.

Those were my initial reasons for going. After being there and unwinding for a few days, I realized I had a lot of other reasons to be there too. I have taken on a lot work-wise in recent months… So much that the thought of sleeping through the night with no stress and having any semblance of a regular schedule was laughable to me before I went. Then I got there, and slowly but surely, with no computer or phone or email or social media or obligations to distract me, I started realizing… there are some places in my life where I can let go.

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And once I realized that, the things that were previously stressing me out became SO much easier to handle. I started thinking about the things I needed to do once I got back, and I was able to shift them around and organize them in my mind in a grounded, realistic, non-stressed kind of way. Suddenly certain issues/work obligations that once seemed glaringly important were easy to put on the back burner, while the importance of other things I had been neglecting became more and more clear.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that this was a radical shift from how I’ve always been, but it was a reminder that in order for me to feel calm and in control, I need to take time to myself. I need time to rest, reflect and above all… to do YOGA! Yoga quiets my rambling mind and allows my body and head so much peace. Doing yoga twice a day in Costa Rica was a great reminder that a consistent practice makes alllll the difference in how I feel. And check out this incredible yoga room (photo by the beautiful Hillary Oneslager… One of the gorgeous girls who came on the retreat via my blog):

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.00.18 AMYou can’t tell me that doesn’t scream perfection to you! And as Hillary said in her caption of this photo, “Savasana will never be the same.”

And to give you a brief rundown of the trip beyond the yoga and the awesome personal journey I experienced… A little list should do the trick. ; )

THE HOTEL: Hotel Tropico Latino in Santa Teresa. Our hotel had two gorgeous yoga rooms onsite that were directly open to the beach… which I am already finding is going to make it hard to practice indoors ever again! The hotel was much more “jungley” than anything I had ever experienced before — and what I mean by that is that there was no lobby, one outdoor restaurant, and the rooms were all over the property in different bungalows. Our room totally rocked — we had two bedrooms, a huuuuge bathroom with a nice, big shower and a big bath tub. We also had a balcony that overlooked the ocean. It was a charming place. I would totally stay there again.

THE FOOD: To my surprise (and everyone else’s, for sure) I didn’t have any issues with the food! The hotel had a wide variety of options from fresh local fish with rice and beans to burgers and fries to raw vegan pad thai (seriously?!). We did get a tiny bit sick of the hotel food after several days, because the menu never changed and we ate a lot of our meals there, but I ordered the burger upwards of three times and it was soooo good. Nearby there were a lot of cute restaurants, including a sushi restaurant, an Israeli restaurant, a supermarket that I went to nearly twice a day to get something or another, a gelato place (yum!!!), a pizza place and more. There was no shortage of food options! Except there were basically no vegetables which started to become an issue. Some people got sick with tummy problems, but I was more or less fine until the end of the trip when I had a bad reaction to something — but it only lasted for a night!

THE EXCURSIONS: All in all, I am not a big excursion girl. I like to do a lot and be super active on vacation, but what I do not like is long shuttle rides and feeling like I am wasting time going from place to place when I am more than happy to stay at the hotel and swim, read, do yoga, hang out with people, write, etc. The longgg shuttle rides were a bit much for me since Santa Teresa is far from a lot of things, but we did go on a waterfall hike in Montezuma & a boat tour / snorkel excursion on Tortuga Island. Both of those things were awesome. I opted out of surfing and zip lining because I didn’t want to spend every day in a shuttle — part of my unwinding experience meant listening to my heart about what I did and did not want to do. Next time I definitely want to zip line! But the amount of excursions we had this time was perfect for me — especially since we were doing yoga twice a day.

THE PEOPLE: The people you travel with and meet while you are traveling absolutely make or break a trip, in my opinion. The people on our yoga retreat were fantastic. I adored all 30 people we were with (yes, it’s rare to like every single person… but I actually did) and fell in love with the second yoga teacher on our trip, Jesse Schein, who teaches in LA and I am so excited to take her classes all the time now! Plus I was with one of my dear friends Tommy (you’ll read all about him in MY BOOK!) and we had a blast together as always. Oh, and he played photographer (and then model!) for me for a few days so he’s kinda the best.

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Now, back to reality & I am lucky to say that I love my reality — life in L.A., writing this blog, getting ready for the book to come out, running TBV Apparel, making YouTube videos, surrounded by awesome people… Yeah, life is good. : )

highongoodvibesTBV Apparel on the beach!

costa4So many smiles : ) || Wearing Sofia by ViX + ViX swimwear

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Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.39.48 AMOh, and the sunsets were like nothing I had ever seen!

Sooo happy to be back. Counting down the seconds until I can announce something RIDICULOUSLY exciting. Eek! What else would you like to see now that I’m back?! Love you all! Xox 

P.S. Search the hashtag #tbbtravels on Instagram to check out all of my travel pics!

I’m Back… With a Banana Shake Recipe + BIG Giveaway!

First of all, hiiii!!! I’ve missed you. I am writing from the sunny & perfectly serene Costa Rican jungle, and I wish I could teleport everyone reading right here next to me. All you need is sunglasses, a swim suit & a spicy pineapple margarita in hand. Oh, and yoga clothes – if you’re on the retreat I’m on, at least! And sunblock. It’s hawwwttt out here.

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I can’t tell you how incredible it’s been to take an Internet break for a whole entire WEEK! I just opened my email in a second tab and seeing the rising numbers flashing (let’s just say we’ve reached quadruple digits) would normally give me an unreal amount of anxiety, but I am surprisingly calm. I will get to them when I get home, and this time in Costa Rica, surrounded by incredible souls & basically living on the ocean, has been invaluable for my mind, body and heart.

I needed a vacation more than I realized. And the fact that this was a vacation with a killer group of yogis who are allll here for different reasons but we all love the same thing (y-o-g-a) made this trip totally different from what I am used to and really helped me unwind. I turned my texting off for nearly the entire week — say whaaattt?! Yeah. Amazing.

I have a few fun Costa Rica posts lined up (in my mind) for when I get back… but today I want to share something else with you. It’s a two in one because it’s my go-to vacation smoothie recipe, especially on this trip, AND it also includes a giveaway hosted by the awesome Bai antioxidant infusion drink company. You should remember them by now if you spend time on this bloggy, because I work with them quite frequently. (Read: I am obsessed with them. It’s a mutual love affair. For the record, their Molokai Coconut flavor is my all time favorite.)

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Giveaway!!!

Bai & I have teamed up to do a pretty amazing giveaway if you ask me. As a part of their fun Smoothie Madness campaign, they are giving away $1,500 total to Whole Foods, 40 free cases of Bai, a Vitamix, a year’s supply of Bai, and a FLVR shirt.

To enter, all you have to do is post a smoothie recipe with Bai in it & tag them on social media. Simple as that! I will be choosing the Blogger’s Favorite award, which is $100 to Whole Foods + 10 free cases of Bai! Hell to the YEAH!

And in honor of the giveaway, I am sharing my favorite banana shake recipe with you. We have all been drinking it here in Costa Rica because, well, let’s just say that the food and water isn’t 100% agreeing with all of us here… And bananas + rice milk together are so unbelievably tasty, healing, full of nutrients and easy on the tummy.

One of my BFFs that I am here with likes this with whole milk (or maybe it’s 2%? We can’t tell) and it legitimately tastes like a milkshake. He was shaking his head while I was sipping on it during this lil’ photo shoot, because we all know what dairy does to my tummy… NO bueno.

Warning: This recipe is very simple.
Double Warning: That’s the awesome part about it.

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Banana Shake Recipe:

1 banana

1 cup rice milk (or any type of dairy-free milk)

1/2 cup ice

Optional: a few pinches of stevia or coconut sugar

I’m telling you guys, it’s REAL good.

Head over to Instagram to enter the contest– you could be the winner of $100 to Whole Foods + a free case of Bai! Oh, also, CONGRATS to Miss Emily Korengold for winning my Suja giveaway of $500 to Whole Foods + a Breville juicer!!! FUN FUN! I will be choosing a winner on May 15th!

Alright, love you all so much. This was fun. I’ve missed blogging. But now I am all recharged and energized and excited to hop into next week with some fun posts for you all!

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Let’s Put a Stop to this Perfection Ish Riiiighhht About Now

Hi! Okay, I know I’m not the only one around here who holds myself to an extremely high standard in all aspects of life: work, relationships, food, exercise, body image, writing, yoga, family life, friendships, photography, videos, hair length (I cry when my hair is cut two inches…) but especially two main things: food & body image.

About two years ago, I was the thinnest I’d ever been in my adult life. I ate nothing but raw fruits and vegetables, and I didn’t eat high quantities of them. I exercised every day to an excessive degree between yoga, running, walking everywhere I possibly could and convincing a new person each day to go on a hike, beach walk or bike ride with me. For several hours. I didn’t even sit down to write or do my schoolwork… I did everything I could standing up, and when I was on the phone with people I stretched, danced around and did weird things just to keep moving, and moving and moving.

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I was addicted to feeling tiny, and also to feeling EMPTY. Like, very empty. If I was even more than 50% full or satisfied in my stomach, then I would freak out like I had done something wrong. It was partially about being small and partially about a fixation in my head about being totally in control. I felt so, so, soooo in control and I felt like my willpower was stronger than anyone else that I knew. I also had no stomach problems for the first time in my life, because I had nothing to digest… so how could I have digestion problems?

But I know what you may be thinking: you already know this about me. I’ve written about it a lot. I’ve made videos about it. Heck, I’ve written a book about it. I blogged the whole entire time. So now I’m here to talk about where I am with it now.

I still have hard days. Sooo many of them. I’ve hinted at it here and there lately, but even my closest friends and family don’t exactly know how bad it’s gotten (well, now I guess they do — hi everyone, lol). Some way and some how I learned very young to use food as a mechanism to control my emotions. If something was going wrong, I turned to food or the restriction of it. It was always one or the other, and usually intense restriction. And after being oh so restrictive for so many years, food became this weird thing that felt totally off limits but right in front of me at the same time. Needless to say, after shedding the vegan label… the world of food & everything it had to offer (nutrients, satiety, comfort, control/lack thereof, flavors I hadn’t experienced in years, protein I hadn’t put into my body in years, and so on…) was terrifying.

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Not to mention I have a job where I am always putting myself out there for the world to see. Photos, videos, outfit posts, TV appearances, bikini photos (eek!) — I love ALL of that stuff. So much! If I didn’t love it I wouldn’t do it. I like to share my life with all of you. But then again sometimes I see myself on camera and I’m like holy shit my face looks round, or wow I don’t look like the vegan ultra-fit ultra-tiny raw foods powerhouse I once did. I look balanced… I look healthy, but as all humans do, I still scrutinize myself. Especially on a morning after perhaps I’ve eaten one dessert too many or “too large” of a meal (it’s so hard to unwind from that eating disorder mindset).

And then I get these ideas in my head where I feel that I HAVE to look a certain way by the time a certain event rolls around: for example, I am leaving for Costa Rica today and the eating disorder side of me tried to drill it into my head that I should restrict my food intake so I would be as thin & fit as possible on the trip. (I can’t believe I’m writing all of this, but I am!) So I restricted for weeks, halfway because I wanted to look a certain way in Costa Rica and halfway because goddamn do I love a good dose of overly obsessive self-control. It’s just in my blood, it’s in my nature. I know it’s not a healthy way to be, and I try to channel it into other aspects of my life (like the blog!) that result in a much more positive outcome than taking a toll on my body… But it is SO. HARD. TO. DO.

So naturally, at a certain point I bounced back from my crazy restriction. To be exact, it was a little over a week ago. My body felt so deprived, so starved and so sick of what I was doing to myself… that I went over the edge and decided to screw the restriction and eat whatever the hell I wanted. But too much of it. To the point where I made myself sick.

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(WEARING: ALALA Yellow Crop Pant || ALALA Mesh Back Tee)

Then I had somewhat of a revelation… and this revelation happened while I was talking to my dear friend Tara, one of the only people I truly confide in about this and turn to when my eating/restricting skyrockets out of control, and I realized two very important things:

1. I am afraid to fully let go of my eating issues, because then I feel (irrationally) like the floodgates will open and I will finally have to deal with everything else in my life – some larger & arguably more important issues than food. In my eating disorder mindset, if I focus on food, restricting, control, etc. then I feel like I can push those responsibilities and issues away until they no longer “exist.” But that’s not the case, they are always there, and my response to food & restriction is a huge part of how I deal with them.

2. Eating disorders really are a mind over matter game, and when you get too stuck in your head you get sucked back in. So you can’t be too hard on yourself! And I have been extreeeemely hard on myself and so, so stuck in (and obsessed with) perfection. I hold myself to a very high standard, and sometimes I feel that if things aren’t perfect then why try in the first place? It’s not a place I want to be. I want to be balanced! And I am trying.

So, there we are. My little update on shedding the layers of perfection and trying to just BE! I think I need to get “Mind Over Matter” tattooed on my body, lol. Or “I am worthy” orrr maybe “JUST BE” or god anything of that notion.

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And I am going to Costa Rica tonight, and I am going to do my veryyyy best to be KIND to myself and let go of all the food craziness. I hope to enjoy the food on the trip, not get crazy obsessive about exercise and not obsess over how I look in a bathing suit. I hope to just be. And that is the realest I have ever been on this blog, because usually I put a positive spin like “I WILL be _____” and to be honest, right now all I can do is hope & try and do everything in my power to focus on feeling good, treating myself well and being open and very, truly, radically honest.

And thank god I will be with one of my lifelong, dear best friends who is very aware of how rocky my food path has been over the past few months. He has heard me break down like you wouldn’t believe — a side of me that I only show to those I trust immeasurably… we all have those people. :)

PS I sort of touched on this in my latest YouTube video, if you want to check it out! & if you like it, would love to have you subscribe!!!

Has anyone else ever felt this way / currently feel this way?! If so, I am so here for you. I am always here. 

The Simple Life

Hi lovers! I was trying to figure out a title for this post and every time I glance at the pictures we shot of these overalls I think of one thing: The Simple Life.

For so many reasons.

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Yeah, I think about the Paris Hilton + Nicole Richie TV show circa 2003-2007 (yes I know those dates… I mean, I was a fan, okay?) because they were blondies rocking overalls for maybe the first time in their life (lol) but I also think about it for another reason.

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Every single day I strive to life a simpler life. I spend 90% of my time focused on managing my business & growing my brand — and don’t get me wrong, that is fun. I am hugely passionate about spreading the TBB message and I have big plans for where my brand will go. The other 10% of my time is spent trying to relax and/or do something totally not work-related. I also try to balance everything else between friends, family, exercise, recovering from my eating disorder, etc. But I would say 90% is still geared toward TBB-ness, even when that means shooting fun videos, trying new fitness studios & traveling to rad tropical locations for work.

And if you read that paragraph carefully then you will catch something… I totally just said “TRYING to relax” which if I’m being totally honest should have said “trying to force myself to relax,” and that’s because my natural inclination in life is to stay super, duper, unbelievably, unbreathably (yeah, I made that word up) busy.

Even my days off are filled with so many plans & events you would think I’d lost my mind.

So perhaps what I am advocating is not a SIMPLE life per say, because I think complexity is the key to living a passionate life. Complex people are the best people. We may not be the happiest always (whoops), because we have a lot of shit on our minds and we hold ourselves to a very high standard, but holy moly do we get the most done.

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And us complex people need some simplicity in our lives once in a while. If you can’t channel that simplicity in your everyday life, get out of your comfort zone. Force yourself to go on a hike and immerse yourself in nature in the middle of the week if you have to. Put on a pair of overalls, find a tractor and find your inner simplicity by connecting to nature and to your true, deep, soulful and heartfelt self.

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If nature doesn’t do it for you, do something else. Read a book, take a yoga class, or FILM A VIDEO (I filmed my first vlog yesterday… a “video” + “blog” a.k.a a day in the life vid… how did I do?!) And because I like to play the part whenever I do something, I got super into the whole “wear overalls & go on a hike” thing the other day… except I also liked my Converse so much that I didn’t take them off, and I didn’t wear socks (such. an. idiotic. move.) and I have had painful blisters ever since. So don’t do that!

Shop My Outfit: 

Converse || Overalls || Grey Bandeux || Flannel || Sunglasses

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Sipping on my Peet’s Coffee Javiva blended coffee drink before we headed to our hike! I love their stuff because it’s always real & never instant. I am part of their social media #StandUpForFresh campaign right now and am very excited about it. They don’t ever use coffee flavored syrups or powders… thank goodness, because I wouldn’t be into that at all. And it tastes like a coffee-flavored milkshake… Can I get a YUM?!

SHOP THE POST:

 

Tractor not included with purchases… Unfortunately. 😉

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Who Loves Chocolate as Much as I Do?!

Happy Monday, my loves! How were everyone’s weekends? I am still so pumped about the Suja Solution Giveaway I’m hosting ($500 to Whole Foods + a Breville juicer!!!), annnddd I am so excited about the Daiya Cheezecake giveaway so I am keeping them both open for one more day! Comment on each post to enter, telling me why you want to win — hint: specific reasons really help, not just the generic “because I want to!” Ya feel me?

Sooo now on to today’s post & what it’s all about. CHOCOLATE. You all may know that I started an Instagram account (yes, on top of my other three… @thebalancedblonde, @tbvapparel, @jojoyounger) specifically about chocolate…. @CHOCOLATEADDICTS. Buttt if you know that, then you also know that I haven’t posted on Chocolate Addicts since the beginning of February. Why? Because I can’t remember the freaking password, or the email that I set the account up with! #fail.

The half-baked gluten-free chocolate chip cookies that I love oh so much were a hit on Chocolate Addicts…

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I am still trying to figure the password info out because I was having so much fun with it and it was growing pretty darn quickly. However, it made me crave chocolate ALL. THE. TIME. and I already want chocolate quite often sooo maybe losing the password for now is for the best. 😉

Because I love chocolate so much, I’ve had to come up with lots of healthy & yummy alternatives to straight up chocolate bars, brownies, cookies, and ice cream because you know me — I try to stay as balanced as possible! I indulge here and there, but I try to keep my dessert choices on the healthier side because in the end it makes me feel much better, it keeps my energy levels high AND it makes my very sensitive tummy much happier.

(Side note: that’s not to say that my dessert choices are always perfect. I’ve had a stressful few weeks and I’ve eaten a lot of desserts, both healthy and unhealthy… Just telling you that because I don’t want you to ever feel like my blog is touting perfection or an unsustainable life — life is all about STRIVING for balance, which means riding the ebbs & flows and learning what works, then coming back to the core & learning all over again.)

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One of my favorite healthy ways to incorporate chocolate into my life isn’t even through a dessert, it’s through a bar! The bars are called RxBar, and they are basically the go-to real food protein bar on the market. And before I get into it I want to tell you, this post isn’t sponsored. I met the awesome people behind RxBar when I was at Expo West last month and we totally hit it off. The four main people behind the company have been friends since FOURTH GRADE… you knooowww how much I love that. So many of the closest people in my life are my dear friends from childhood, and the fact that the RxBar peeps all came together with such a cool mission (to provide a healthy, real foods bar to the protein bar space) fills my heart with so much happiness.

Each bar in their line contains 12 grams of protein, which is derived naturally from egg whites & raw almonds. There are no grains, added sugars, gluten, soy, dairy or any artificial or processed ingredients. It’s high in fiber and has natural sugars from fruit (dates and figs!) which add nutrients & a delicious taste.

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And today is the first day (literally the FIRST DAY… how cool) that they are launching their fab Cacao Collection!!! A.k.a chocolate heaven in a box. There are 14 bars in there and the total for the entire box is $29.99. If you think about the breakdown that’s a pretty unbelievable deal, and if you use the code BalancedBlondeRX you will get 10% off of your entire order. 

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In the box there are 7 Coffee Cacao flavors, 5 Coconut Cacao & 2 Chocolate Sea Salt (you guys will die. I am massively addicted to the Chocolate Sea Salt). And in case you wanna know…

Facts about Cacao:
  • 40x antioxidants of blueberries – antioxidants absorb free radicals from pollution and toxins (free radicals can lead to diseases like cancer)
  • highest plant-based source of iron
  • natural mood elevator – cacao is a great source of serotonin and dopamine
Facts about the bars:
  • Each has 200 calories so they are a perfect between meal snack
  • Chocolate sea salt has the lowest sugar of them all (it’s hard to believe!)
  • 12g of egg white protein – a lean, high quality source of strength for your day.

Sooo pretty much in my very humble & un-sponsored opinion (and okay maybe kinda biased because I’m obsessed with chocolate), I think you’ve gotta order these bars STAT! The discount code will only last for this week, so get your hands on it while you still can!

Plus, if you’re anything like me and you love supporting young companies with passionate founders who have a mission to make the world a healthier place, then there isn’t really a better company to support. You will looooove these bars. You can place your order here.

IMG_9582Who loves chocolate as much as I do?! Do tell!