Monday, February 27, 2017

Peanut Butter Superfood Energy Balls

I have been on a bit of an energy ball roll recently, no pun intended. They are super easy to make and they are a great on the go snack. I've taken energy balls in my work bag into meetings to eat afterward or when I'm driving- no one wants to be hangry when stuck in traffic😳

Emily from Beauty In Christ was so sweet and sent me a package with Jem Organics nut butters. I still have to be super careful about my fat intake and honestly I really can't stomach nut butters anymore, but I whipped up a batch of energy balls with it and they were delicious! Between my friends, family and I they were all devoured within three days, but that's always a sign of a successful recipe! 

Peanut Butter Superfood Energy Balls
  • 1/4 cup Jem Organics cinnamon red maca almond butter
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon hemp seeds
  • OPTIONAL: 1.5 Tablespoons chocolate chips

In a microwave safe bowl combine almond butter and honey. If needed melt almond butter and honey slightly. 

Add in oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and chocolate chips. Gently stir together all ingredients until combined.

If you don't want to manually stir together ingredients put everything, minus chocolate chips, into processor and process until combined. Fold chocolate chips into mixture.

Using your hands form balls 1-1.5 inches big. Repeat until mix is gone. 

Store energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

If you make these delicious energy balls post a picture and tag me on instagram or Facebook. I hope you like them!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sunshine and Sleep Deprivation: Thinking Out Loud #25

Happy Thursday! This week has been AMAZING because it has been in the 50's-60's every single day🙌 This weather is basically unheard of in Michigan in February, but I know winter will make it's return and probably dump a ton of snow on us. In the meantime, I'm going to soak up all the sunshine and warm weather while I can. On that very happy note let's jump into this week's thinking out loud!

1. I have chronic insomnia and it's been that way for 5+ years. I've been to TONS of doctors, have tried a zillion remedies but nothing has ever worked. All my doctors have attributed it to lupus, which can cause insomnia, but I'm desperate for sleep. I'm dead tired and no matter how early I go to bed I toss and turn for hours and usually end up with 3-4 hours of sleep. Does anyone else suffer from chronic insomnia? If so, what helps you sleep? I have tried sleepy time yoga, tea that supposed to help you sleep, all kinds of supplements, I don't have any screens in the bedroom but nothing works. Any and all advice would be appreciated. 

2. I babysat earlier this week and it was too nice to stay inside with the kiddos, so I took them to the park. Running around on the play structures, swinging on the swings, and playing on the teeter totter had me feeling like a kid again- it also had me exhausted😂 You are NEVER too old to play on a playground.

3. Did anyone else see the live feed of the bull that was running loose in New York on Tuesday? I was dying of laughter and was pretty entertained. I watched the live feed while eating lunch and it was an impressive chase. It eluded officers for a long time, but was eventually captured. My favorite part of the chase was when the bull was running down the street and officers on foot were full blown sprinting to try and catch it😂

4. I had a meeting earlier in the week that was down the road from a Whole Foods. Of course I had to stop in after the meeting and wander the aisles- aka try not to blow my bank account in the store. I managed to contain myself and only get the items I needed, but I saw the new GinnyBakes packaging and it's so cute! I'm a total marketing nerd, but the new design is amazing! The colors make it pop and definitely grabs your attention. Does anyone else notice  these kind of things? No. Only me? Ok, moving on...

5. One of my friends posted a Buzzfeed about things everyone can relate to. I did relate to most of the things the article mentioned, but "the chair" resonated with me the most. I do this all the time and I annoy myself doing it. I'm a chronic outfit changer so I toss the old outfit on the chair in my bedroom, which is silly because I have a hamper in my bedroom. I have to take care of it before bed otherwise it annoys me knowing it's there but every day it happens all over again🙈

6. This is also me😂 I will try to juggle as many bags as possible so I don't have to make a second trip because I don't want to make a second trip. Normally by the time I get in the house I have lost circulation in my arms because the bags are digging in, but if I've made it in one trip then I count it as a success😏

7. I'm finally getting back into my oatmeal game. I haven't spent much time on social media in recent weeks because I have been enjoying living in the moment. Plus a few weeks ago I found myself playing the comparison game so I decided to take a step back and live in the moment. It's helped me keep perspective and spending time with loved ones is WAY more important than social media😉

I'm going to end things here for now, but I have some exciting posts and news to share with you guys next week so be on the lookout! Have a terrific Thursday and an amazing weekend🎉

Can you relate to "the chair" or trying to get everything out of the car in one trip?
What is your favorite way to spend time outside?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Recently and Thinking Out Loud #24

Happy Thursday! I was actually prepared for Thursday for a change, but I make no promises about next week😁 I hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day regardless of whether you celebrated with a special someone or not. If you are single look on the bright side you don't have to share dessert or any of your food with anyone😜 

This week's thinking out loud is a combo of random thoughts and recent life happenings. It's always nice to have something to share because sometimes the day to day happenings can be rather boring. Cheers to another round of randomness🍻 

1. I decided I needed some change so I got my hair cut and took a lot off. While it may not look short to you, it's short to me. I have almost always had long hair and I'm not one who likes to cut my hair often. I have no problem getting a trim, but big changes for me are hard. It might sound silly but a large part of why I haven't cut my hair is because a LOT of my hair fell out when I was newly diagnosed with lupus. I don't think guys understand what that means to a girl but it's really hard. Luckily most of my hair has grown back but I still lose a lot more than the average person on a daily basis. I finally let me cousin who's also my hair stylist cut my hair and it's definitely a change. My bun feels so small when I go to the gym🙆 

2. Friday was my boyfriend's birthday but sadly he had an exam on his birthday so he wasn't able to get away for the day. I had a fun weekend of surprises planned for him but I did not want to not see him on his birthday so I packed up his presents and the cake I made him and made the trek down to see him. He was in love with his birthday cake- it was a chocolate piñata cake with chocolate frosting (recipe here) and in the piñata part I put cut up Reese's cups because those are his favorite candies. Him and his roommates were pretty stoked about the cake and it was all gone by the next day. 

3. I had Saturday all planned out for my boyfriend but wouldn't tell him anything so it was a surprise. We just kind of hung around in the afternoon but I made dinner reservations at his favorite restaurant BD's Mongolian BBQ. Afterward I took him to a trampoline park where I surprised him with a bunch of his friends and his best friend who he rarely gets to see. Everyone was like little kids at the trampoline park and after an hour and a half of jumping we were all exhausted and thirsty. We ended up at Dave and Buster's because the guys were hungry and all of us wanted drinks. 

4. I got a spiced strawberry sangria and it was so good! A nearby table ordered and paid for a drink but left before it came so our waitress brought it over to our table. We let my BF have it since it was his birthday. It was a mango passion smashtail and oh my goodness was it delicious! He's not super big on fruity drinks but I had no problem having at least half of it. If you're ever at Dave and Buster's I HIGHLY recommend the mango peach smashtail🙌 After having drinks we hit the games and didn't leave until after 1am (WAY past this grannies bedtime). My boyfriend and I are determined to have a rematch in air hockey because we both scored on ourselves multiple times🙈

5. One of my friends posted a bunch of funny animal pictures on Facebook. I was cracking up as I was going through them because Cora does something similar to this😂 don't get me wrong I love Cora but she is definitely not the brightest dog. 

6. I am not huge into celebrating Valentine's Day, it's a bit too much of a Hallmark holiday for me plus I've had some fairly awful Valentine's Days in the past. This year my boyfriend decided to surprise me and would not tell me anything about what we were doing. I'm a pretty simple girl so I would have been happy to stay at home, cook and watch a movie. The only thing he told me was that we were going out and I needed to wear a dress. I wore a simple long sleeve red dress, gold necklace and brown boots (similar dress here and similar necklace here). He showed up with a beautiful bouquet of roses and snagged reservations to a restaurant I've been wanting to try because it has a lot of allergy friendly options. We came back from dinner, changed into comfy clothes and watched a movie for the rest of the night. 

7. I knew my BF was going to do something sweet for Valentine's Day despite me telling him not to so I made him a GIANT Reese's peanut butter cup. I shared the recipe earlier in the week. It was a smashing success with my best friend and it got the same response from my BF. It's a winner and super easy to make! Considering his birthday cake didn't last a full 24 hours I'm having my doubts this will last very long😜

8. I read a post by one of the amazing bloggers I follow and it struck a chord with me. Emily who blogs at Beauty In Christ shared her post , "A Single Gal's Thoughts on Valentine's Day." So often people grumble about being single on Valentine's Day but why can't you be happy regardless of what season of life you're in? You don't need a relationship to make you happy and if you think that then you're going to be sorely disappointed. Emily shared some reasons why she's loving the season of life she's in and I have to agree. I loved being single. I loved being unattached and doing whatever my heart desired. Now I'm in a relationship but I'm loving this season of life too. It's nice to have someone to go to events with (as a date) and to share the mundane things in life with. Emily is absolutely right that you can be happy on Valentine's Day regardless of what season of life you're in. 

I'll end things there for this week. Have a terrific Thursday and a fantastic weekend!

What's the best birthday you've ever had?
Did you do anything fun for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

Happy Valentine's Day💕 Even if you're not big on celebrating Valentine's Day because it's a Hallmark holiday it can still be fun to show and tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. 

Every year my parents and I exchange cards but that has been the extent of my Valentine's celebration. This year my boyfriend told me we have plans, so I have no clue what he has up his sleeve for the day. Instead of buying him a gift that he probably doesn't want or need I opted to make him a gift instead. He is obsessed with Reese's peanut butter cups so I made him a GIANT version for Valentine's Day (shh don't tell him!). Making the peanut butter cup is super easy- there's only four ingredients but you do need a springform pan. You can easily make this today for a last minute Valentine's Day gift and it is sure to be a tasty treat for your loved one😋

Giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
  • 24 oz semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

In a microwave safe bowl measure out 6 ounces of chocolate chips and two tablespoons of butter. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir until smooth and microwave for an additional 10-15 seconds.

Pour melted chocolate into 9 inch springform pan (I use this one). Using a spoon spread the chocolate out in a thin layer along the bottom of the pan and along the sides. 

Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.

Again, measure out 6 ounces of chocolate chips and two tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir until smooth and microwave for an additional 10-15 seconds. 

Remove pan from freezer and pour chocolate on top of the existing layer of chocolate. Using a spoon spread out the chocolate and again coat the sides. Place pan back in freezer for another 10 minutes. 

While pan is in freezer prepare the peanut butter. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine peanut butter and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar will give the peanut butter the crumbly texture, like in a Reese's cup.

Remove pan from freezer and use a spoon to spread the peanut butter out on top of the chocolate. Place pan back in freezer for a few minutes. 

Again, measure out 6 ounces of chocolate chips and two tablespoons of butter. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir until smooth and microwave again for 10-15 seconds. 

Remove pan from freezer and carefully pour melted chocolate on top of peanut butter. Use a spoon and gently spread the chocolate out and again make sure to coat the side of the pan. Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes. 

Measure out the remaining chocolate chips and two tablespoons of butter in a bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir until smooth and microwave for an additional 10-15 seconds. 

Pour chocolate on top of other layers and use a spoon to gently spread it out. Once chocolate is smooth use spoon to draw a heart on top of the peanut butter cup if desired. Place pan back in freezer for an hour (or more) to allow all of the layers to harder. 

Carefully remove peanut butter cup from pan by releasing the sides and then the bottom. Store peanut butter cup in refrigerator for optimal freshness. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Letter to the President

I have debated whether to share or not share this a million times because it's a controversial subject and everyone has their own opinions. I am not one to openly speak about politics because as a journalist I pride myself on being unbiased. Part of my job is setting aside my own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and reporting the facts. I love that I get to step outside of myself and look through the eyes of other people every day. 

However, there is one matter that I simply cannot remain silent on any longer. That is the President's immigration ban. Two days ago it was struck down by the court and will most likely be tried before the Supreme Court. This is a matter that I cannot remain silent on any longer because for myself and my family it's personal. I wrote the White House regarding the matter and while the President will probably never see the letter I needed to exercise my right to free speech. I wanted to share my letter because I think others can relate and because I'm proud to be the granddaughter of a refugee. 

Mr. President,

I am not one to openly discuss politics because as a journalist I do not want people to think I am bias toward one political party. However, I simply cannot remain silent any longer on your immigration ban. It IS a ban Mr. President no matter how you try to spin it. Today it is Muslims we fear, eighty years ago it was Jews.

My great grandfather was a Jew and a German citizen and he was shot and killed for protesting Nazi rule. Subsequently, my grandfather and his sister spent much of their young lives running and hiding from the Nazi’s after being dumped in an orphanage by my great grandmother. My grandfather and the other orphans lived through bitterly cold winters in a barn with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and very little food. They moved often to evade capture by the Nazi’s, which would have lead to certain death at a concentration camp. Some of the orphans were captured and later died in concentration camps like Auschwitz. Through the work of the Quakers my grandfather and his sister were able to obtain visas allowing them to escape the war and begin a new life in America as refugees.

Mr. President, the simple truth of the matter is I would not exist had my grandfather been banned from entering the country. He, like countless other refugees, simply want a better life. My grandfather sought refuge in the United States and later went on to serve this country in the military. He went on to marry, have two daughters, half a dozen grandchildren, and a handful of great grandchildren. My grandfather has never once thought or attempted to commit an act of terrorism against this country and he would be appalled that the country he came to as a refugee is turning away fellow refugees out of fear. 

Diversity is what makes this country great Mr. President. America is a land of immigrants and refugees because we all have ancestors who came to America at some point in our family lineage. Had this immigration ban existed 50, 100, or 150 years ago your ancestors might not have been permitted to enter the country and you would not be here either Mr. President. 

I fully understand the need to screen those coming into our country out of safety, but an outright ban is not the answer. Diversity makes us stronger and I refuse to allow you to use one of our countries greatest strengths to divide us. In the words of JFK, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thinking Out Loud #23

I'm pretty I blinked and this week is basically over. Did I not say last week that Thursday's just sneak up on me?! This week has been hectic, hence my lack of posts, so I apologize. I'll today's thinking out loud as a mini recap/mix of random thoughts because why not? Let's jump in!

1. I have been in desperate need of new running shorts for a very long time, but I have a hard time parting with good workout gear. If it's not totally destroyed why replace it? I had been wearing my trust black running shorts since I was a junior in high school (sad but true) and they were perfectly broken in. I had tried countless pairs of other shorts over the years but they chaffed or were really uncomfortable. I went to Dick's on a whim and left with the most comfortable pair of running shorts I have EVER owned. I bought a pair from Carrie Underwood's Calia line and I am now hooked. Over the weekend I went back and got another pair and two sports bras because her sports bras are the best! I have nothing but praise for her athletic line and I highly recommend it!

2. Does anyone else randomly browse Amazon? I was looking for a birthday gift for a friend but somehow ended up looking at wine glasses, no clue how I made that leap. I found this wine glass and laughed. It says, "I like long romantic walks down every aisle at Target."😂 I have no clue what it is about Target, but it's a fun store to browse in. If you're going to browse leave your wallet at home though because that store is dangerous! 

3. I was given a Whole Foods gift card for Christmas so I made the trek out there late last week. Besides getting some of the freshest berries ever I found Forager dairy free yogurt. It's made from cashews and honestly it was amazing! It was thick and creamy and honestly it looked a lot like Siggi's. I would definitely eat it again and I wish my regular grocery store would carry it. 

4. My boyfriend and I were walking around the mall last weekend and a store had a sign that say, "Hey girl," obviously referencing the Ryan Gosling memes. My boyfriend thought I was crazy because he had no clue what I was talking about. Even I, who has never seen a single movie with Ryan Gosling, knows about these memes. I used to see them all the time on my instagram and Facebook feeds. Please tell me I'm not crazy and the only one who has seen these memes?!

5. I have a stack of recipes to test out and on that list was a giant peanut butter cup AKA a giant Reese's cup. One of my best friends was the taste tester for it because I was thinking about making it for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day (shhh don't tell). I was honestly surprised it turned out so well and was so easy to make. Now I just have to make it prettier and shoot it and I'll share it next week😋 I promise it's super easy to make, only requires a few ingredients and can totally be made last minute.

6. Tuesday I had a meeting so I got to dress up and I was super excited. At the moment it's rare for me to have the opportunity to wear all the dresses I have in my closet so when I get the chance to dress up I jump on it. I found this Adrianna Papell dress at Nordstrom and fell in love. It's simply, classy and perfect for business wear. I'm not super into designers, but I adore Adrianna Papell🙌

7. I got the sweetest package ever from the amazing team at Panera this week. They sent me a gift card, an awesome mason jar, and this super cute workout tank. The tank top is SO soft and I cannot wait to wear it to yoga. Also, the motto on the shirt is basically the story of my life😂 I really do want to say a huge THANK YOU to the team at Panera, y'all have been amazing and I really am proud to support a company that believe in serving real food. 

8. Last night I indulged in some self care. I have been feeling really worn down and I just needed some time to decompress and relax so I pulled out a face mask that I had been saving. Que bella face masks are amazing and leave my skin feeling so good! I usually pick them up at Target but I know they are also available on Amazon. It's a cheap way to treat myself and take a little time out to relax.

9. I'll end on a funny note this week. I found this while I was out this week and busted out laughing😂 I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to not be in such a rush to grow up because it's not all it's cracked up to be. 

Have a terrific Thursday and a fabulous weekend everyone!

What are your plans for the weekend?
Are you doing anything fun to celebrate Valentine's Day next week?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thinking Out Loud #22

Thursday we meet again. I swear Thursdays always sneak up on me but I have no complaints seeing as Thursday is pre-Friday🎉 As always this is going to be all over the place, but that's what thinking out loud is for! Let's go!

1. I have always been a HUGE John Mayer fan but this song has been on repeat all week. It's a few years old but it is the sweetest song ever💜 I watched a proposal video that was set to this song and a few tears might have been shed because the videography was so well done and this song is just perfect. 

2. Saturday night is always date night for my boyfriend and I and last week we had the randomest combo of food. We were both craving Mexican food so we got takeout for dinner but then I really wanted frozen yogurt, but obviously I can't have it because I can't have dairy. We went on Yelp (best site ever🙌) and found a place 20 minutes away that had gluten and dairy free frozen yogurt! It was TOTALLY worth the drive and I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in vegan frozen yogurt. They shop was adorable and had a ton of options for food allergy peps. I got chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla dairy free frozen yogurt and topped it with sprinkles and dairy free chocolate chips😋 even my BF had some dairy free frozen yogurt and liked it- miracles do happen😜!!

3. My friends and I have been going a local rink on the weekends for open skate since the lake isn't safe to skate on. One of my friends didn't know how to skate so I worked with her and she did really good, but I was exhausted after an hour and a half of catching her before she fell. It was a good workout and it was a ton of fun, plus its cheap entertainment. 

4. I have finally been spending some time in the kitchen testing new recipes. It's been a long time since I have done any real recipe testing because I have had a TON of stomach issues, but that's a story for another time. I wanted to create a fun, easy, and allergy friendly recipe for Valentine's Day so I recreated my mom's peanut butter cookies and they were a huge hit! I made them gluten and dairy free and if you don't have to worry about those things then there's options for you too. They are so easy to make and would be the perfect homemade Valentine's Day gift🍪 Get the recipe and directions here.

5. I cannot be the only pet owner who talks to their pet- I also sing to her but that's another story. I was talking to Cora expressing some frustration and this is the look she gave me. I immediately started laughing and of course stopped what I was doing to play with her. Dogs are the best therapy🐶

6. This week I've been taking it easy at the gym and really eased up on my running. I have been extremely fatigued, way more than just normal lupus fatigue, which I think in part is due to the fact I've been getting like 3 hours of sleep🙈 I ran on Tuesday and my legs hurt and felt like so I've been taking time off to rest and recover. I absolutly HATE taking time off from running because it's my favorite way to spend time thinking and decompressing but sometimes the body needs rest and I'm going to rest so I don't wind up getting hurt.

7. There is so much negativity out there right now. Every time I see the news while I run there's acts of hatred toward one another and it breaks my heart. I heard this quote a long time ago and resonated with me. Being good to people is an amazing legacy to leave behind and I would rather be remembered for being good to people and loving them than for my political beliefs. Love without abandon for we are all humans. 

Have a great Thursday and a fantastic weekend😘

What is your favorite way to decompress after a long or stressful day?
Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Gluten and Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away, if you haven't given it a thought until now consider this your friendly reminder😉 Even if you're single Valentine's Day is still a day to share love with all the amazing people in your life. I'm big on telling the people close to me how much they mean to me every day not just one day out of the year, but it's nice to do a little something extra special on Valentine's Day.

Normally Valentine's Day is filled with all sorts of candy hearts and loads of sugar...SO.MUCH.SUGAR😳 so I spent some time in the kitchen modifying one of my mom's peanut butter cookie recipes. These used to be one of my favorite cookies when I was younger before gluten and dairy problems arose. I recreated the recipe using allergy friendly ingredients and the cookies got a thumbs up from my family and friends. They're delicious, easy to make, and perfectly festive for Valentine's Day.  

Gluten and Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 cup plus 1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar or sugar replacement
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance, for dairy eaters regular butter works too)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (can sub any nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dairy free chocolate hearts for topping

Using a mixer combine butter, brown sugar and cane sugar. 

Add in peanut butter, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. 

Turn mixer to a lower speed and slowly add in gluten free flour and baking soda. Do not over mix batter.

For best results, refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or longer- this helps prevent the dough from spreading too much when baking.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and line baking sheet with liner. 

Roll dough into balls 1-1.5 inches in size. You should be able to get 25 cookies (or more) out of the dough depending on how large you roll the cookies. 

Bake at 350F degrees for 9 minutes or until the tops are slightly darker brown and starting to crack.

Remove from oven promptly and press dairy free chocolate heart into cookies. I used dairy free chocolate hearts I found at a local health food store, but I also used some Dove dark chocolate hearts because my family and boyfriend can consume dairy without a problem. 

If the chocolate begins to melt too much after placing them in warm cookies place baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

Store cookies in airtight container for up to 10 days.