Wild Watermelon Salad Recipe + Technology Addiction!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by smartwater through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about smartwater, all opinions are my own.

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Hello, loves! I am so thrilled to share this post with you because it has to do with something I am extremely passionate about – looking up from our phones, our computers and any other type of ever-present technology we hang on to, and paying attention to what’s going on in the world around us.

And you all know I am traveling in Italy and France this week, which is prime time to take a technology BREAK (no matter how addicted I am!!!) and enjoy my time off with the people I love most.

What branch of technology are you most addicted to? My smartphone is the biggest one for me, and within that realm I think I’m torn between texting and Instagram. I text with my close friends and family all day long, and because of the nature of my business I scroll through Instagram all day every day like nobody’s business.

But you know what is super important to me and is something I have always prided myself on? When I am with other people, I put that crap away. You will never see me emailing, texting, Instagramming (okay, maybe Instagramming with other people… it’s a social mechanism these days, I swear!) or mindlessly scrolling through my phone when I’m actually surrounded with human beings who I love and care for. (Like these people!!! My sensational fam bam.)

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So you can imagine that when I got the opportunity to be a part of smartwater’s #lookupsweepstakes, I was ridiculously excited. Not only did I start immediately brainstorming ways to incorporate the campaign into my blog, but I also started practicing extra awareness about my own sense of “looking up,” stepping away from technology and immersing myself in the r-e-a-l world.

This campaign couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just wrapped up my precious last few weeks living in my beloved New York City, and, just as it was when I first moved there, there was nothing more satisfying than strolling through the west village, jamming out to my tunes, and taking in the vibrancy and energy of the city.

I am so exceptionally grateful to have been reminded to take a serious technology break and look up. It’s the summer time, and it’s gorgeous out! And if you’ve been on the east coast at all this year… you know that it’s been a longgg winter. It’s about time we say hello to the sun, the blue skies and the fabulously summery recipes that we so missed out on during our hibernation period.

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Something I noticed when I took a technology break and looked up was the amazing sense of community and friendship bustling all around NYC. The restaurant patios are filled with groups of friends sipping on sangria and mimosas and indulging in delicious and elegant brunches, there are couples strolling along the highline and girlfriends catching up over walks on the Hudson. The connection between people is everywhere… something I’m afraid we take for granted when we are too attached to our phones and technology.

True connection with other beings is a beautiful thing. That’s what I noticed first and foremost when I started to spend more time looking up. And that’s all I can really ask for in this amazing life – connection with my peeps. My ever-growing circle of radiant beings. I want to thank them all for being so awesome every moment of every day, and I hate getting too caught up in technology sometimes to realize that. (We’re all guilty of it from time to time, let’s be honest.)

Someone who I got to spend plenty of time with during my look-up-from-technology break? My wonderful niece Kealey Jae. She just turned two, and she blows me away with her ridiculously cute personality. Her new favorite thing is saying, “TOTALLY!” because she hears her Auntie JoJo (a.k.a me) say it all the time (whoops). And, my fav, “Oh god, Kiki!” (Which she gets from her nana / my mama!)

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Inspired by this lovely “looking up” experience, I have created a delicious Wild Watermelon Salad to be shared over lunch with friends, a BBQ with family or a date night with a loved one.

I’m only giving you one rule… share this with a living, breathing, loving human. They rock. Promise.

And be sure to check out smartwater’s Instagram challenge and enter the #lookupsweepstakes for a chance to win and be featured. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a more inspiring challenge. Don’t forget to follow @smartwater on Instagram to participate.

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Wild Watermelon Salad

Serves 2-4

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Ingredients:

1 large watermelon

3 cups kale or mixed greens

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 cup blueberries

½ cup blackberries

1 avocado

1 lime

¼ cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. Cut watermelon in half, and scoop out center of one half using a knife or an ice cream scooper. Pat the inside dry with a towel or paper towel.
  2. Pour kale or mixed greens into the open watermelon “bowl,” and start tossing in the rest of the ingredients. Toss well.
  3. Squeeze lime on top of salad, and serve. Enjoy!

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“Choosing Raw” Burnt Sugar Coconut Ice Cream Recipe + Interview with Gena Hamshaw

Sooo, one of my favorite bloggers of all time, Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw, just released her cookbook and I am thrilled for her / so honored to review it on the bloggy.

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I know what you’re thinking—“Jordan, you’re reviewing a RAW FOOD cookbook just a month after you publicly came out about no longer being vegan?! With an EATING DISORDER? What gives?!”

Well, my dearies, I have a few answers for you there. The new motto I am trying to practice is everything in moderation, and Gena’s book is very much in line with that ideology. The book details raw vegan recipes with a twist – there is a cooked element to nearly all of them! And I still eat a lot of raw (and cooked) delicious plant-based food from the earth. Just because I am no longer a full-fledged vegan doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy good ol’ veggie dishes with heaps of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Now, on to Gena. She is a wellness advocate, certified clinical nutritionist, eating disorder survivor/thriver, pre-med, post-bacc student, and basically one of the most awesome girls I have had the pleasure of meeting through this awesome healthy blog world.

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And her book is pure gorgeousness. You all know that as much of a sucker as I am for blogs and the Internet world, I am a total book nerd, literature freakazoid, and reading/writing maniac. I feel like all I do is write, and you can’t write without reading… so technically, all I do is write and read. And I looove books with great photos – and Gena’s book certainly has that covered (I mean, food blogger = built-in food photographer, right?).

Something I totally love most about this book is the fact that before she gets to the recipe section, she dives right in with a whole bunch of awesome knowledge about raw food, veganism, her own personal journey with food, foods to have in hand when choosing to eat more raw, and (my personal favorite) a “21 Days in The Life” Meal Plan section. Even better? Each suggested meal is available in the recipe section! Ugh.. is she a genius or what?

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Recipes that immediately caught my eye? Dinosaur Kale & White Bean Caesar Salad, Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, Burnt-Sugar Coconut Ice Cream (yum!!!!), Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream, & Chocolate Raw-Nola… I could go on and on.

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Chocolate Raw-Nola

But instead of going on, I’m going to share this interview I had the pleasure of doing with Gena. I am so inspired by her in so many ways, and definitely strive to be more like her in my recovery process. I can’t wait until I reach the point where I am finally over this whole mess and can have a healthy relationship with food again.

Interview with Gena Hamshaw:

1. How did you get involved with raw vegan food?

Well, veganism came before raw food. I went vegan in my mid-twenties, when a gastroenterologist suggested that I eliminate dairy as a means of managing my longtime struggle with GI illness. It made a tremendous difference, and I committed almost instantly to continuing a dairy-free lifestyle. I had stopped eating red meat as a kid and ate very little chicken, fish, or eggs, so at this point I was fairly close to being vegan. I hadn’t yet started to identify with animal rights, but I’d read DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA, and I was intrigued by the idea of adopting a vegan diet for the sake of the environment, as well as for my health. I went vegan that year, and I’ve never looked back; it’s probably the single best decision I’ve ever made.

About a year or a year and a half into my vegan journey, I ate at a few raw restaurants in New York and became totally smitten with the food. It was the most fresh, beautiful, creative cuisine I’d ever seen, and as a budding foodie, I was incredibly impressed that raw chefs could create such intricate dishes without any cooking. I bought a few raw books, and started to read more about the lifestyle. I hoped that it might be able to help my GI health improve even more (I was much better at this point, but still struggling), and it did. I was never a strict raw foodist, and I’m less raw now than I was back then, but throughout it all I’ve retained a total fascination with “uncooking” and raw food preparation techniques. Nothing excites me more than the challenge of preparing an innovative raw, vegan dish!

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Raw “Cobb” Salad 

2. Can you tell me a little bit about your eating disorder history (because of everything I am going through right now I am super interested in hearing others’ stories!)

Of course! Mine began early. I was about 11, and I’d gained some weight that year. It was normal, pre-adolescent stuff that likely would have equalized with time, but my pediatrician made a remark, and it lodged in my head. I lost a dramatic amount of weight that summer, and I also taught myself how to count calories, skip meals, and hide under baggy clothing so as to avoid alarming friends and family. My doctor voiced his alarm at my next checkup, and with the help of my mom I gained the weight back. But this event began a long, painful battle with food that lasted for the next thirteen years. I cannot remember a single moment during that time when I wasn’t monitoring, controlling, obsessing over, or worrying about what and how I ate. I had a big relapse in college–my period stopped, and I was so hungry that stomach pains kept me awake at night–and another relapse in my early twenties, right before I found veganism.

I think I was able to find a lasting recovery for a couple of reasons. The first was sheer exhaustion. I was so, so tired of thinking about food, planning meals, weighing myself, and avoiding social scenarios. I simply didn’t have the emotional energy for it anymore. I was also old enough during my last relapse that I could see–in a way I hadn’t been able to see as a teen–how much the disorder was damaging my life. It was slowly eroding my health (I’d had two long bouts of amenorrhea and I was diagnosed with osteopenia, or early bone thinning). It was taking a toll on my social life. It was keeping me away from intimacy. Had I let it go any further, it may have damaged my career as an editor, which I cared about very deeply. I couldn’t sustain it. My desire to reclaim life is really what lifted me out of the worst of it, and compelled me to commit to lasting recovery, no matter how scary and difficult that was.

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Raw Banana Cashew Yogurt & Easy Breakfast Pizza

Finally, I credit veganism with enabling my longterm recovery. My eating disorder was defined by obsession over food, which was tremendously isolating. Veganism showed me that my food choices don’t only impact me and my life; they also impact animals, the environment, and other human beings. This realization–the recognition that I could actually use my food choices to contribute positively to the world around me, to exercise compassion and love–totally transformed my relationship with food. I began to think about food as an avenue for activism and for doing good, as well as a source of nourishment. I’ve looked at food that way ever since; it’s not just about me and my body. Food is an expression of the kind of person I want to be. It’s a part of the mark I want to leave on the world.

It hasn’t all been rosy, of course. When I got into raw foods, I slipped back into dangerous territory. It wasn’t an obsession with weight loss, per se, but when I was deep in the raw food movement, I started flirting with orthorexia. I winnowed down the foods I ate, eliminating all sorts of things (soy, wheat, sugar, legumes) and became obsessed with the idea of “purity” in my diet. Fortunately, I’d been down the ED road enough times that I was able to recognize what was happening pretty quickly, and curtail it. I totally withdrew from the “detox”-minded communities I’d become a part of. I added a lot of cooked food back into my routine. I very consciously began to expand my diet.

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Since then, I’ve maintained what I think is a healthy balance between being nutrition-conscious and being restrictive, or health-obsessed. I’ve learned that it’s much healthier to enjoy certain foods that don’t meet some folks’ definition of perfectly healthy (rich vegan desserts, refined carbs, lots and lots and lots of coffee) than it is to bring on endless stress by worrying about what I’m eating and whether or not it’s good for me. The human body is strong, and it is resilient. Plus, food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and it’s meant to be enjoyed. I used to define by diet based on what I excluded; I took a lot of pride in saying “no” to certain foods that other folks enjoyed. Today, the only thing I can say about my diet is that it’s vegan. Sure, it’s health-conscious. But if there’s a vegan food that looks good to me, I’ll eat it, whether it’s “health food” or not. I don’t skip meals, I’ve never fasted, and I don’t restrict. I make an effort to abide by moderation. For me, moderation is actually much harder than extremism–my first response to stress or pain is to feel the temptation to eliminate something, or go on some sort of “clean eating” initiative, or become more strict with food. But I know how false these urges to control my life through controlling food are, and I fight against them.

 

3. Tell us about the cookbook journey!

It was a wild one! I sold the book while I was smack dab in the middle of a pretty rough pre-med, post-bacc program (at the time, I was trying to get into med school, having not taken a science class in about a decade). I wrote the book in between taking the MCAT last March, and September of this past year. Most of the recipe development and writing happened in a single summer, which happened to be the same three months in which I applied to 34 medical schools. To be honest, it was a terrible slog, and I probably didn’t get as much pleasure from recipe testing as I would have if I’d been on a more reasonable deadline. But I also chose to take the project on at a crazy time, so it was really no one’s fault but my own!

The book grew out of the same set of intentions that my blog did. I wanted to show folks that vegan food can be abundant, joyous, and fun. I wanted to share recipes that would make people feel that veganism (and raw foods) are accessible and easy. I wanted to make clear that you don’t need a fancy dehydrator or tons of kitchen skill to make this kind of food; you just need some creativity and a passion for vegetables.

I also wanted to create the kind of resource I wish I’d had when I was first getting into raw food. When started exploring raw recipes, I found a lot of them to be pretty difficult and complex; I also found that a lot of the rhetoric in the raw movement was a bit too black-or-white for my liking. I wish I’d had a book at the time that emphasized how possible it is to make more raw food without too many fancy appliances; one that assured me that I didn’t have to go 100% raw to be healthy; one that made the lifestyle feel easy. I also wish that I’d found a resource that shared raw food along with sound, evidence-based information.

This is the resource I’ve tried to create with CHOOSING RAW. My goal was to demystify raw foods and also to emphasize that you don’t have to “go raw” simply in order to explore raw food. You can try one recipe at a time, and move at a pace that works for you. Finally, I wanted to add a sane, credible voice to some of the bigger misconceptions surrounding raw and vegan diets.

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4. Tell me a bit about having the name “Choosing Raw” even though you aren’t fully raw– I know you said you get some crap about it from internet crazies. How do you rise above the occasional negativity?

Eh, I guess I understand the confusion. People hear “choosing raw,” and they think I’m saying “choosing a 100% raw lifestyle.” That actually isn’t what I mean to suggest at all. I settled on the word “choosing” because I wanted to suggest that you can approach raw food as a choice; you can choose to make one meal, then another. You can choose to make a smoothie every now and then. If you choose to go further with it, that’s awesome, but it should always feel like an active choice–not something you’re doing because you think you should.

For me, the words “choosing raw” signify not a 100 percent raw foods lifestyle, but an overall approach to eating. Choosing raw means eating foods that are a little closer to the earth. It means minimal food preparation. It means dishes that are simple, nourishing, and whole. It often means raw food dishes, but it doesn’t have to.

As long as I can remember this–remember my own words and intentions–I don’t mind how other folks respond to the title of my blog. And for the sake of transparency, I give a pretty clear explanation of why my blog is called “choosing raw” in the FAQsGenaQuote2.jpg5. Fav recipe in the book?

Oh gosh, that’s tough! I love the “heat free lentil and walnut tacos” and the “zucchini pasta with quinoa meatless balls” because they book embody my approach to raw food, which is to make a mostly raw dish and include a cooked component (often cooked legumes or grains). I do this to boost the satiety of the meal, as well as the nutrition, without detracting from the crunchy, fresh taste of the meal.

I also really love the raw fig bars, the burnt sugar coconut ice cream, and the raw blueberry cheesecake (I’m particularly proud of that one!). I’m also a bit of a salad dressing fiend, and I fell in love with the spicy cilantro vinaigrette and the green herb dressing.

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Raw Blueberry Cheesecake

 

6. What would you choose for your last meal on earth?!

Another hard question :-)

Lame as it sounds, salad is my favorite food, so I’d likely do a meal-sized salad with all of the fixings: quinoa, avocado, nuts, seeds, cashew cheese–the works! I also really love toast, so I might do some avocado toast as well. Or a bowl of sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil. Or some brown rice with scallions and sesame oil and a creamy tahini dressing. Or a really good, creamy risotto with tons of nutritional yeast. I could go on!

For dessert, something chocolate. Obvs. And a soy cappucino. If the world were ending, I wouldn’t need to worry about the caffeine keeping me awake!

 

Burnt Sugar Coconut Ice Cream

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Makes 3 to 4 Cups of Ice Cream

2 cans full-fat coconut milk, chilled in the fridge overnight
3⁄4 cup coconut crystals or cane juice or organic sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean, scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt

1. Blend or whisk the ingredients together quickly (if you blend them for too long, they’ll start to warm up, which will make freezing the ice cream harder).
2. Transfer the ingredients to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Chill in the freezer for an additional hour, scoop, and serve.
Ice cream can be stored for up to a week in a sealed container in the freezer, then re-churned before serving.

From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.

 

Thanks so much to Gena for sharing her book & her story with us! You can check out her cookbook here, and also check out her Green Recovery Series — about those who have recovered from eating disorders and mended their relationships with food by going plant-based. 

My Year in NYC: A Year In Photos

Yahoo… A Year in Photos is finally here!!! I know I have been talking about it incessantly for the past couple weeks, but my last week in NY got super turned upside down between the awesome TV interviews, moving out of the city, my flight cancellations and trying to spend as many moments as possible with my favorite New York humans.

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This post is super exciting to me not only because it commemorates my past year in New York, but because it celebrates the first year of the blog. TBV was born exactly a year ago, and I have grown so much as a person and also as a blogger. I remember when we first developed the blog and I tried to get my web designer (hi Morgan!) to post five blog posts at once every several days because I wanted the site to have as many recipes as possible after we launched it. And I didn’t even use a legitimate camera.

Oh, how the bloggy has evolved! I still have quite a bit to learn, but you’re lookin’ at a girl who didn’t even know how to sign into WordPress until a month after the blog had been up and running. Now I have left grad school to focus on the blog entirely, and it has become my baby (and my boyfriend) in every way.

Now, without further ado, I will let the photos speak for themselves…

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I moved in with my best friend, and we did fun stuff.

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And, when it came to food photos…

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Then October rolled around…

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Now… I simply cannot wait to see what LA has in store!!! And loads and loads of visits to NYC peeps,  of course. It has been ONE AMAZING WEEK (well, an amazing year if we are sticking with the theme of the post, but an amazing week in particular) around here– what’s new in everyone else’s world?!?!

Matcha-liciousness + TBV Name Change

Guesss who’s moving back to LA tomorrow?! That’s right, me. TBV. The Blonde Veggie. Is that name starting to roll off the tongue yet?

You guys don’t even want to know what I’ve gone through these last several weeks trying to come up with a permanent name change for the blog. I changed it from The Blonde Vegan to The Blonde Veggie in a middle-of-the-night insomnia-induced freak out when I was getting death threats from crazies, and it was meant to be a temporary name until I came up with something I loved as much as the original name.

Then I came up with a name I LOVED and bought the domain name but it was taken on Instagram, so I stalked the girl until I got her full name and her Facebook info and eventually her phone number. (Do I sound like a stalker yet?)

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I went through everything in my mind. I mean seriously. And you guys know how I obsess. Every variation of “The Balanced Blonde,” “Blonde + Balanced,” “Balanced + Blonde,” “The Organic Blonde,” “Organically Blonde,” “Organically Jordan,” “Naturally Jordan,” “Blonde, Balanced + Free,” “The Healthy Blonde,” “The Blonde Health Nut,” “The Blonde in Yoga Pants,” “The Blonde Yogi,” “That Balanced Blonde,” etc… they have ALL been running (more like sprinting) through my mind maniacally. And I just couldn’t let go of The Balanced Blonde.

And you know why? BALANCE!!! So when the wonderful girl behind @thebalancedblonde on Instagram agreed to let me take over the name in exchange for a “Yoga Junkie” tee, I was eternally grateful. We have LOTS of thrilling things to come with the new name and obvi a new logo in the works, so stay tuned.

And I am keeping the initials TBV for TBV Apparel — I am so freakishly connected to it. It defines a major part of the person who I have come to be, and stands for three words that mean the world to me: truth, balance & virtue.

Anyway, you know what has soothed my soul a little bit while I have freaked the eff out? MATCHA!

Mmmm, matcha matcha-liciousness. I freaking love the smell of matcha, and I love the taste of it too. It’s funny, because the smell of matcha reminds me of middle school afternoons at Jamba Juice with my friends —the total after-school hang out spot back in the early 2000s. (Is it still? I feel like it might be.)

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I didn’t even like Jamba smoothies (now that I’m more knowledgeable about ingredients, sugar, and keeping it organic, I know why!) but there is something about the blissful innocence of that time in my life that makes my heart do a little happy dance. Heading over to Loehmann’s Plaza (Sactown, what up!) after school and running into all the other kids in the area before we were all off to sports practices or piano lessons… it was the closest thing we had to “going out” and having the freedom we were so almost ready to experience.

Am I the only one who feels that way?

If you’ve ever smelled matcha, you’ll understand why it brings back such clear memories for me. It’s a potent smell, and the aroma is so calming. It makes me wanna zen the f out, put on some Sam Smith acoustic tunes and do yoga in my living room. Or do yoga on the beach with my baby girl:

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The moment I cracked open the top of PANATEA’s matcha powder, those memories came flooding back to me. And, if I wasn’t very clear about this earlier, Jamba Juice has a Matcha Green Tea Blast smoothie that tootttalllly set my olfactory bulbs on fire when I was a tween, apparently.

P.S. There’s 57 grams of sugar in Jamba’s Matcha smoothie… not to mention genetically modified soy milk aannnd high-sugar frozen yogurt. Opt for the healthy train on this one and try some all-natural ceremonial grade matcha.

Plus, besides the deliciousness of matcha, it’s a superfood that enhances antioxidant activity, supports metabolism, and promotes energy and alertness. You know I need a whooole lot of that between my yoga, running, blog life, and the whole running a t-shirt business and cleanse program thang!

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If you’re looking for a yummy matcha brand, definitely check out PANATEA. They are NYC local, which I love about them, but they also ship worldwide. And they started their Matcha Masters program recently, so if you end up loving the matcha you can get in on spreading the love by referring them and winning free matcha and prizes. Coolness, huh? (Check out their insta hashtag, #matchamovement on their @panateagreen Instagram.)

Oh, and with TBV Summer Cleanse going on right now, I have a lot of people asking me what they can use to substitute their coffee addiction—matcha is one great alternative. Energy will flow through your veins when you drink this! Especially with the packed fiber and nutrients of the smoothie I’m about to hit ya with.

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Matcha Green Smoothie:

1 very ripe banana

1 scoop of PANATEA matcha powder

½ cup almond milk

½ cup water

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 large handful ice

Directions:

Blend thoroughly, and enjoy!

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I also want to remind you guys that I only promote products that I absolutely adore. You can always count on me to keep it real– would never mention something that I don’t actually use in my own kitchen and adore.

You can check out PANATEA on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter as well as their website!

ZICO™ Crack Life Open + Detox Water Recipe

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by ZICO® Premium Coconut Water™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about ZICO®, all opinions are my own.

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So, I’ve been obsessed with coconut water for quite some time. I can confidently say that I was into coconut water before the coconut water craze turned into a “thing.”

I remember when I was in high school and my yoga teacher told me that the best way to rehydrate after an intense class was to drink coconut water – that it was full of natural electrolytes and potassium to restore your muscles and your brainpower. After getting repeatedly drenched and dehydrated in heated power vinyasa classes, when someone you look up to tells you how they recommend rehydrating, you listen.

And he recommended the brand ZICO®! (Okay, it didn’t hurt that this teacher was also extremely good looking. But that’s beyond the point.) I ran to Whole Foods to get my hands on some, and I still remember the salesperson looking at me with a funny look when I asked for coconut water. Oh, how times have changed!

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This was several years ago now, so it’s kind of funny that my coconut water loyalty has remained the same for all this time.

But, if there was ever any question, my loyalty was totally solidified once ZICO® came out with a CHOCOLATE flavor… can you say delicious and decadent while still being light and refreshing? Holy yumness. The combo of coconut and chocolate makes for a creamy and delightful treat, and totally hits the spot when I am craving something sweet.

Actually, I have to warn you. The chocolate is so good it’s actually dangerous. I had a few bottles of it in my refrigerator my last few days in NYC, and I kept reaching back in for “just one more sip” during the whole move out process. And I even added it into my smoothie one morning… banana + almond butter + chocolate coconut water = heaven on earth, if you were wondering. (Remember this Chocolate Lover’s Oatmeal? Add some chocolate coconut water to it, and find yourself in heaven. Ohhh yeah, baby.)

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When you’re looking for something yummy and hydrating without the sweetness, the original flavor is also delicious. Lately I have been trying to cut back on my fruit intake a little bit because I realized I had way overloaded myself with fruit at the peak of my eating disorder (it was one of the only things I was comfortable eating! Yikes) and now its feeling really good to eat quite a bit less of it.

My favorite go-to drink lately is more of a snack than a meal, because I have been trying to have juices/smoothies as between-meal treats throughout my recovery process rather than meal substitutions. I substituted enough meals for liquids when I was in the midst of my orthorexia, and I’m done with that for now!

But, my juice obsession is here to stay. So snacks they are. Here is my favorite drink recipe that incorporates ZICO® Premium Coconut Water™:

Strawberry Lemonade Detox Water:

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Ingredients:

2 cups water

4 sliced strawberries

1/3 cup blueberries

½ lemon (juiced)

1 cup ZICO®

1 large handful ice

Plus, ZICO® believes in cracking life open – living positively and thoughtfully by making healthy choices and taking small steps to treat yourself well every day. When you focus on cracking life open, you can achieve the life that YOU want. That’s what I’m working on right now… cracking open all aspects of my life so I can be as healthy and happy as I can possibly be.

To me, cracking life open also means getting rid of the bullshit. When you leave everything bottled up inside, you are more likely to focus on the negativity and difficulties – for example, the thousands of angry followers I had when I announced that I was no longer fully vegan. I could have dwelled on how upset I was to lose them as readers, or I could focus on the great things to come and the fact that all of the readers who have stuck with me are incredibly supportive and amazing, positive rays of light.

So, here I am, trying to crack my life open every day. How do YOU crack your life open?

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#CrackLifeOpen & check out ZICO® Premium Coconut Water™ on ZICO.com and on all of their social pages.

Recovery Update: Orthorexia is No Fun

I’m just going to tell you straight… Recovery is extremely hard. I’ve mentioned before that I have an “all or nothing” type of personality, so when I made the decision to acknowledge my eating disorder and begin the recovery process, I was ready for the disorder to just kind of disappear.

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I thought if I followed the steps my nutritionist gave me to eat three balanced meals a day and snack on something whole and natural every 2.5-3 hours to keep my blood sugar levels up and get my hormones back into balance, then I could somehow just fall right back into having a healthy relationship with food.

Well, my friends, that has certainly not been the case. (And notice how obsessed I get over any type of instruction in itself – FML.)

The unhealthy habits that I developed over roughly a two-year period are ingrained into my body and my mind, and it’s very challenging to begin unwinding from them. I am still of the mentality that if I eat a large meal, or even a full meal for that matter, that I should pretty much “fast” for the next several meals to balance it back out.

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It’s hard to explain why I feel such a need to be empty when it comes to food, but it all stems from my extremely sensitive stomach and the tummy problems I’ve dealt with my whole life. When I found plant-based eating, I was finally able to eat without my stomach being in pain or getting nauseous and bloated after every meal. But that was only in the beginning of my plant-based journey because the diet was basically a detox from the dairy, wheat, oil, meat, etc. that I had been eating my whole life.

Once the detox period passed, my stomach problems started creeping back one by one. The roughage of eating such an abundance of veggies and fruits with little else to balance them out took a toll on my stomach in a whole different way. After many months and then years of eating this way, I stopped feeling satisfied from a diet of solely plant-based foods, so I thought something was wrong.

To fix the imbalance, I juice cleansed. A lot. I did one-day cleanses at the beginning of each week, and I sought out each and every juice company in NYC to try their cleanse programs and different methodologies. At the peak of my juice cleanse addiction, I embarked on a ten-day cleanse of just juice, and restricted myself from even drinking juices with a high fruit content (in my mind, all I could see when I looked at those was sugar) and/or smoothies even though I was still trying to maintain my super active lifestyle.

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So when I finally came to the realization that I had a problem and that my hormones were way out of whack (thanks to losing my period, injuring the crap out of my ankle, and becoming increasingly lethargic and exhausted all the time) I thought I could bounce right back to how I’d been pre-disorder.

Especially because of how educated I am on the subject! I knew in the back of my mind for months that I was developing an eating disorder, something tricky and difficult and scary and psychologically messed up, so I thought that when I was ready to change, I would be able to.

And now I am very ready, and making changes and taking strides is proving extremely difficult. I will be doing well for a few hours, and then my mind will revert right back to obsession. “I ate a pretty big breakfast so I definitely shouldn’t be snacking now, and OMG what if this chicken hurts my stomach, maybe I should just drink a green juice instead,” “Okay shit I am so full I will definitely just restrict myself all day tomorrow and then I will start feeling more balanced again—who needs breakfast anyway?” “Nothing sounds good I’m just going to eat that kale plain and call it a day,” etc. etc.

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It’s torture! And I have very little control over it. For someone who spiraled downward into orthorexia because I like to have control in all areas of my life, this lack of control has been frustrating and debilitating.

I am trying to stay focused because I know change doesn’t happen overnight. I know that the more I obsess, the greater the problems I am causing for myself. I know that reverting back to my old habits of restriction will only make things harder on me in the end.

But it’s frickin’ WEIRD & uncomfortable to make these huge shifts after so long of living one way! My body isn’t used to it, my mind isn’t used to it, and my biochemistry is like, “WTF is going on?”

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So, here I am, taking it day by day. I just wanted to give you all a little glimpse into the difficulty that is recovering from an eating disorder, because I know I have been extremely positive on the blog thus far. The reality is that it’s not all peaches and roses all the time. There is a lot of positivity, yes (all of your support!!!), and I wouldn’t change my decision or my coming out publicly for anything in the world, because I have so loved connecting with all of you in this way.

But that doesn’t discredit the fact that eating disorders are incredibly mental, so mentally I am struggling. I need to be open about that because I know there are so, so many of you struggling behind closed doors, and I want this to be a place where the doors don’t have to be closed. It shouldn’t be so taboo to say, “yes, I’m recovering, but today didn’t go so well at ALL,” or to say that eating disorders are a DISEASE and that no matter how controlling of a personality we have… sometimes diseases take hold until they’re shown a real battle.

But once the battle finally takes place, I believe that the eating disorder gets crushed. Every time.

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TBV Interviews The Skinny Confidential! (+ Giveaway!)

Hey guys! It’s Friday, which means it’s the beginning of my first weekend at home, relaxing, in a longgg time. I am mainly going to be spending the weekend catching up on emails (can’t wait to get back to all of you who have shown your support about everything going on recently!), catching up on my IIN health coaching courses, developing new recipes for the app, spending time with loved one and enjoying some serious SLEEP.

How’s that for a weekend plan?! TSCxTBV

Today is an exciting day on TBV, because I am interviewing one of my own favorite health and lifestyle bloggers, Miss Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. I thought it was about time we do something fun and light-hearted up in here after a wild few weeks of lifestyle change craziness. (Especially because tomorrow I’m coming at you with my first recovery update post, since I know a lot of you has been asking what the heck is up with that.)

Basically, Lauryn rocks. She is an entrepreneurial powerhouse, a fit and fabulous fashionista, Pilates instructor, AUTHOR, and is newly engaged. I can’t wait to connect with her once I get down to So Cal. I see lots of fun collabs in our future. Without further ado, I will let Lauryn take it away!

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* Lauryn! Tell us how The Skinny Confidential came to be.

The Skinny Confidential was born while I was attending State University. There were not a lot of healthy options on campus so I started modifying my meals. I had the idea for a blog a year in a half before I launched it. You can find my whole story here and my blogging journey here. It’s turned into a book, which can be found here!

 

* What does a day in the life of Lauryn Evarts entail?

A day in the life varies. It can be anything from going to the post office, going to the bank, returning emails, taking photos, and cooking and baking for the blog. Also walking the dog, cleaning the house, blogging and much more. I’m always on the go. And it’s none stop 24/7. Blogging takes a big chunk of my day. I also co-founded Blog-Doo (www.Blog-Doo.com). It’s a blog design company so I’m always working on that too! Currently I’m working on a fitness/diet subscription plan for TSC too. So everything else revolves around that. Basically I am always multi-tasking! Life of an entrepreneur is crazzzzy but fun.

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* Describe your ideal health and wellness vision for yourself.

This vision would be all based on balance. Balance is key. If you obsess in one part of your life, other areas of your life will be neglected. I think it’s really important to stay healthy in every area of your life. Whether it’s your relationship, your body, or your mind. I’m also big on healing yourself from the inside and out. This means, eating foods that cure your system like vitamins and nutrients to heal your skin, hair, nails and body.

 

* The book, the book! Tell us about your book journey & what we can expect inside. 

The Skinny Confidential book is an extension of my blog. You can find tips on wellness, beauty, relationships, diet, fitness, DIY’s, and more! There’s lot of tips in the book that aren’t found on my blog. I plan on writing a new book in the next couple of months too…stay tuned!

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* Biggest fashion no-no.

My biggest fashion no-no is following trends. Do what works for you. Everyone’s different. You know what works for you better then anyone else. Stick to what fits your style.

 

* Biggest fashion “hell yeah.”

Dainty hand pieces, big hats, coin purses, anklets, over sized sunglasses, men’s t-shirts, trucker hats, baseball T’s, converse, black shinny jeans, maxis with slits, underwhelming perfume, everything black, everything white, structured pieces, dewy make up, nude nails, and/or top knots. My best fashion tip is confidence! I am dying over this skirt and this shirt currently!!

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* Workout routine?

My workout routine varies. I don’t like to plateau. So I change it up weekly. Some of my favorite workouts include, hiking, Pilates, strength training, barre classes, running, walking my dog, and yoga. My advice is to mix it up as much as possible and don’t go over board. Keep it simple, stupid!

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* Fav reading material?

I love to read. I just finished Gone Girl which was amazing. I also love autobiographies and have been reading a ton this year. Weirdly Kris Jenner’s book is so good. It’s about what she started with and where she came from and the empire that she has grown. I loved it. I’m BIG into autobiographies. Currently I’m reading Brain On Fire. [Sidenote from TBV: Brain on Fire is one of my favorite books as well. It's incredible. Read it.]

Some of my other favorite books include Shantaram, Sharper Edges, She’s Come Undone, and all Jodi Picoult’s books.

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* What would you choose for your last meal on earth?

Definitely chips, salsa, guacamole and veggie street tacos. And  since it’s my last meal on earth a skinny blood orange margarita! Throw in some dark chocolate & I’m good to go. [TBV Sidenote #2: Lauryn has awesome tips on her blog about certain foods to stay away from, like agave. She'll give ya the lowdown!]

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* Latest food obsession.

Chia seeds! I add them to everything; Oatmeal, berries (I make my own jam to add to toast), smoothies, cold pressed juices and lemon water.

 

* Natural beauty remedy (you’re a much better person to ask this question to than moi.) 

Take your make up off with grapeseed oil. I use grapeseed oil because a lot of people have those little white dots under their eyes which is sometimes caused by make up remover. The grapeseed oil is an all natural remedy that won’t give you those dots.

* Little-known health tip.

 Sleep will heel you. It helps with your metabolism, hormones and helps your body be at it’s optimal performance. It’s not cool not to sleep— in fact, sleep is cool. Get your sleep!

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Giveaway!!!

We are giving away THREE signed copies of Lauryn’s The Skinny Confidential book!!! To enter, simply comment on this blog post saying why you would like to win a copy & how you would incorporate her health & lifestyle tips into your life. Xox.

Time for me to take a page out of Lauryn’s book and get some much needed rest this weekend. What is everyone else up to this weekend?! Fun plans? Excited for my recovery part 1 post? I’m looking forward to sharing. 

* Also… ZOOEY DESCHANEL shared this amazing Hello Giggles article on TBV from her Facebook today. I died 1,000 times over.

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* And… Well + Good NYC did a pretty bang up job on this article, too. Thrilling.

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Tigernut Horchata Yumminess + Giveaway!

So I tried something new, and I’m really excited about it. Raw, cold-pressed tigernuts… in Horchata form! You know Horchata, that delicious, creamy, slightly sweet beverage generally associated with Spain and Latin America. Well it just got a whole lot yummier, and a whole lot healthier.

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A few years ago my best friend Katie went to Argentina for the summer, and when she came back she raved and raved about Horchata. I was kinda like k, cool that sounds yummy butttt it also sounds like a lactose intolerant gal like myself’s worst nightmare. I knew I would like the flavors, but I was also secretly happy it wasn’t big in the US to add to the list of popular beverages that I can’t really have because of my sensitive tummy/don’t like (coffee, soda, milkshakes, lattes, etc.).

So when I found out about Organic Gemini’s all-natural, organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, non-GMO Horchata… my mind was blown! I had to get my hands on it. And get my hands on it I did (Ok, that sounds a little creepy, but still… I did!).

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They sent me their original, unsweetened, chai, coffee, and bee pollen flavors. I didn’t even know where to start. I adore bee pollen anything, especially because it reminds me of my beloved Moon Juice in Venice Beach, so of course that was the first one I tried. Katie laughed at me and said she knew I would go for that one first. Ugh… I’m too predictable sometimes!

I. Loved. It. But I didn’t want to drink too much, because I wanted to try the other ones and I didn’t want to wait. Have I ever mentioned how impatient I am? Especially when I have a fridge full of super yummy refreshing drinks and its 90 degrees outside but feels like 105.

Next I tried the chai, and I think I loved it even more than the bee pollen. And then I was a total rebel and tried the coffee (I say rebel because I usually hate coffee and spit it out like the inner five year old that I am) and I actually really loved it. It may have even been my fav!

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So what’s a girl to do when she has cracked open three bottles of Horchata and hasn’t even had a proper photo shoot yet? Carry them around her apartment modeling the partially-drank bottles on pillows and in front of artwork, duh.

And then make a smoothie with them!!! Yumness in my tumness. I also added ½ cup of the Horchata along with ½ cup of water to my oats each morning to boil them, and let me tell you… perfection. In a bowl. Utter amazingness.

 

What are the ingredients like? Simple and clean, the only way I do it around these parts! Tigernuts and water, and depending on the flavor there are dates, cinnamon, nutmeg (I don’t like nutmeg, sigh), cardamom, cloves, bee pollen, and in the coffee flavor there is organic cold brewed coffee.

I drank my Horchata smoothie last week, drizzled in with cinnamon and sipped it while staring at my window into the beautiful NYC clear blue sky and legitimately getting teary eyed that I was about the leave that wonderful city. (Miss it already, for the record.)

Then I walked to Whole Foods to soothe my sorrows in a brown box of heavenly veggies… and I saw the Tigernut Horchata on the shelves! It was following me! I was almost tempted to buy some even though it was busting out of my fridge at home. That’s how good it is.

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In conclusion… try this Tigernut Horchata. And fly to California to hang out with me because it’s beautiful here, and as much as I miss NYC, I am super duper happy to be home.

GIVEAWAY!

Organic Gemini & I are teaming up to do a giveaway of their delicious horchatas!!!! Right now the giveaway is only available to NYC locals, as the Horchata is not sold in other states yet. We are giving away TEN cases to TEN different winners– each case has 5 of their natural flavors in it. To enter… COMMENT on this blog post saying why you would like to win the Horchata, what you would make with it, and which flavor you think would be your fav. Bonus points for following @organicgemini on Instagram.

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ALSO… yesterday was my mama’s 60th birthday. First of all, she doesn’t look a day over 40 (I’m really not just saying that), and second of all she deserves the hugest birthday shout out of all time. I am so unbelievably lucky to have a mom who doubles as my best friend, and I am so grateful to have her in my life.

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We had so much fun last night celebrating her big day! I planned a lil’ party for her at her favorite Mexican restaurant here in Sac, Centro, and invited all of her closest friends. And this was the first time I had eaten at a Mexican restaurant since beginning my recovery process… so I tried something kind of wild and I was half petrified and half really proud of myself.

I got chicken tamales (without the sour cream), and they were so good! My stomach is kind of paying for it right now since I hadn’t eaten anything like that in a long time, but it could definitely be worse. And best of all I got to enjoy food at my mama’s birthday while spending time and catching up with tons of people who I love dearly.

Pretty awesome. Happy Thursday!!! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s interview with Lauryn of The Skinny Confidential – so excited!

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I Tried Dairy & the World Didn’t End

Don’t kill me, but I ate a Quest bar this week for the first time. Yeah, a Quest bar. It has dairy in it, I know. I’m doing wild things up in here now that I’ve begun letting go of my long-held restrictions.

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A few months ago I would have scoffed at the idea of eating a Quest bar. “Whey protein?” “IMO fiber?” “Erythritol?” No, no, and no. You know me, on a constant quest (no pun intended) for the healthiest, cleanest and most unprocessed foods possible. But when that quest lead me to becoming orthorexic and completely obsessing over “bad” and “good” foods, I knew it was time to get a grip… and try some new things.

And even a few weeks ago I would have flipped if someone told me that I was going to try something with dairy in it. When I started switching up my diet and transitioning away from full veganism, initially I thought that was going to mean incorporating wild fish and free-range eggs into my diet a couple of times per week. But since I’ve started down this road of non-restriction, my body is craving more and more protein, and I am trying to listen to it.

And it’s frickin’ liberating to see food as a means of enjoyment versus large categories of it being totally off limits.

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( ^ Photo creed: Kiss My Broccoli.)

I’m certainly not saying that turning to processed crap is the answer. (For the record, Quest bars are not processed crap.) My belief that dairy was the devil and it was going to make me sick, make me gain ten pounds, make me break out and cause my world to come crashing down as I knew it was really silly, and was really messing with me in a not-so-fun psychological way.

There are still many types of dairy I am not ready to try, and I may or may not ever reincorporate them back into my life. I know that ice cream, dairy creamers, sour cream, cheese and yogurt (yes, even Greek yogurt! Perhaps especially Greek yogurt in my case) don’t work well with my system, and they are often processed to the point of no return.

Reintroducing clean non-vegan foods into my life has been a new venture, and in a way it’s been kind of thrilling. It’s still a shock to me every time I realize, “wait, I can eat that… it’s not off limits anymore,” and it still fills me with a lot of anxiety but it’s a major step in the right direction. It’s been fun experimenting, too – it’s like waking up from a really, really long timeout.

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I certainly haven’t forgotten my health principles. Clean, real, whole food from the earth is where it’s at. That’s what so much of my diet consists of. But when it comes to treating myself… I’m trying not to make anything “off limits.” Whereas before my go-to treat was always a raw dessert, because I could be positive that nothing processed was included in it, I am now stepping out of the “raw dessert ONLY” restrictive umbrella I had put over myself.

Raw desserts are frequently made with nuts, dates, agave/maple syrup, coconut oil, coconut butter, sometimes fruit and lots of superfood powders like cacao, maca, spirulina and mesquite. For someone like me with a super sensitive tummy… having a dessert heavy in fats (even natural fats!) didn’t always feel so great. They can be very heavy and after a while even the best ones all start to taste very similar to each other.

Of course raw desserts (like my raw chocolate PB cups!!!) are a fabulous alternative to a Twinkie or a buttery donut that’s made of ingredients that would scare your grandmother half to death. But, if you’re not in the mood for something heavy, it’s OKAY to explore other options.

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The world will not come crashing down.

So, I went for it. I tried a “Double Chocolate Chunk” Quest bar. I took a bite and at first I was disappointed… it tasted like that chalky protein yuckiness I remembered from those old school protein bars I used to eat when I was young.

But then I remembered I had seen some other health bloggers broil their Quest bars before, so I decided to give it a try. I seriously felt like a little kid using the kitchen for the first time because it had been so long since I used an oven for anything other than roasting vegetables.

After I broiled it I could tell the texture had totally changed, and holy cow was I right. It was SO GOOD— crispy on the outside kind of like a roasted marshmallow (minus the fakeness), and gooey on the inside. And it had chunks of chocolate in it.

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And guess what? There’s not a laundry list of unpronounceable shit in it. And the trace amounts of dairy didn’t send me into a gastrointestinal tailspin. I actually felt GOOD after eating it, and surprisingly light. Which was a welcome treat after how I am used to feeling after eating a raw dessert (or a raw bar, like Larabars. Even though Larabars still rock.)

Plus, it has 20 grams of protein in it. And for an active girl like me whose body is desperately craving protein now that I’ve begun allowing new types of it into my diet, eating some extra protein feels really, really good.

So, hey, I’m figuring it out. I realize that some people may want to kill me for this, but this blog remains a spot for total honesty. Right now my main agenda is recovering from my eating disorder, and getting my enjoyment for life and food back without the anxiety of “100% clean, 100% plant-based,” string of dialogue running through my head.

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I am still a PLANT-BASED believer, but when I feel like it I can eat however the heck I want. I know enough about food and health to know that I will never start eating processed junk that’s seriously going to mess with me. But for now I’m enjoying some new things that aren’t sweetened with honey and rice syrups and whatnot… because that stuff was hurting my tummy even though it’s “clean” and healthier than some alternatives.

And look… I’m getting over this eating disorder hurdle one step at a time. And that feels amazingly good.

What are your thoughts on small amounts of dairy? Anyone like/dislike Quest bars? What flavor should I try next?!

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TBV Tries (and loves!) Target C9 Active Wear

Hello, hello! I am back in Sacramento for the week, and it feels so good. It’s HOT here (think 101 degrees on the reg), but the California heat still doesn’t quite hold a candle to those humidity soaked NYC streets. I am officially winding down from the whole “coming out” saga (I promise I’m not blogging about that today – we’ve talked enough about that for now), and I am super ready to share some new stuff with you guys.

There are some fun things coming up on TBV this week – like a feature of one of my fav bloggers, Miss Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential, and a Year in Photos post detailing my year in NYC. Oh, and a fun giveaway post with a yummy new recipe (or two). Yay!

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Today is fun too. Today we are going to talk clothes. Specifically, active wear. Because I really don’t wear anything else… and you all know that! Or do you? Well now you do.

Why do I basically only wear active wear? A) Because I like to be the comfiest of comfy at all times, B) because I like to be able to go to the gym or yoga without having to change (lazy, whoops), C) I am freakishly active, D) I don’t like to wear makeup and I do like to wear tennis shoes, so the workout get-up usually works quite well for me.

Target® C9 Active Wear:

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Target® C9 through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post aboutTarget® C9, all opinions are my own.

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Sooo when I was asked to participate in Target®’s campaign and check out some of their awesome C9 active wear, I was super duper in. I tried out their Mesh Back Print Cami Tank, the Cardio T-Back Tank (favorite!!!), and the reversible Women’s Premium Shorts. I had desperately needed some new shorts for running and yoga, and these are so comfy and breathable I am in love.

But I wanted to give the clothes the true test – I couldn’t just try them on and say comfy, check, cute, check, and post away. I needed to make sure that they actually withstood the test of working out! I won’t wear workout clothes that don’t absorb sweat well (hellooo power vinyasa yoga junkie – a.k.a sweat city) and/or that stick to me in uncomfortable ways, ride up in any places or feel weird on my skin. Yeah, I’m picky. So you can trust me here.

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And then I started climbing trees because I was so happy to be back in my element and out of the “concrete jungle” (ew, I hate it when people call NYC that but oh well) for a while, and it was beautiful out so how could I not?

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I went down to the river to go for a run in the clothes and then finished off with some yoga (and some fishing!) by the water. Since it was 101 degrees out I was sweating my butt off, and I learned that they do in fact absorb sweat well and they don’t get uncomfortable when they get a little wet. The shorts don’t ride up or slide down when I run, and they are flexible enough so that launching into one of my many yoga poses won’t stretch them in uncomfy ways.

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I kept saying to my mom when we were down at the river, “wow, these are SO comfortable!” And she was kinda like, “umm, why are you so surprised?” and then she remembered who I am (her daughter, duh) and that it’s very hard to please me when it comes to clothes. And I sort of hate shopping… I know, I’m the anti-girl in some ways, it’s weird… so finding a great outfit that I know I will wear all the time is a huge plus.

Now that I’m home I am also getting in the groove of going to personal training three mornings a week with my mom at our gym. It’s been pretty awesome (and frickin’ killer!) for me to do strength training when I am used to alternating between yoga and running. As always, the circuit training reminds me how good my body feels when I am giving it a full body workout and switching things up the way I know I should be.

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And because I love you, I’m sharing… This Class FitSugar Target®: Shoulders exercise video. It is AWESOME. It kicked my butt a little bit. And I’m hoping it’ll work some wonders for my shoulders, since my upper body strength could use a little work right now. Click here to watch the vid, and to get your workout on!

Now… Do yourself a favor and check out some C9! I wouldn’t lead you astray when it comes to workout clothes.

P.S. Target® C9’s approach is accessible, optimistic, and confident. Three things I love most! Exercising is 100% about accessibility and enjoyment. If you hate the workout you’re doing, you can’t be optimistic, and well… that just sucks. I truly believe there is a workout out there for everyone. You have to be confident enough to try new things until you find what you love! Love you all & happy, happy Tuesday!

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