Friday, December 5, 2014

Why am I vegan?

Hi friends!  You may or may not know that I am vegan, and that's ok!  I prefer not to have labels.  But, recently, I have been reintroduced to some of the reasons that I decided to "go vegan" in the first place.

1. Health and weight loss
     Let's be honest, our egos get the best f us sometimes.  I first went vegan as a way to lose weight.  You know what the crazy part is though?...I actually gained weight!  It was a healthy, and dare I say necessary, weight gain though.  I went through a rough phase of restricting calories and exercising as much as I could.  When I first did my vegan challenge in 2012, it was merely to lose more weight; although I told myself it was for health reasons...

2. The animals
     I have always been an animal lover.  Ask any one of my family members or friends and they will let you know that I have been crazy about animals since a very young age.  After I had finished my 30 day vegan challenge, I was feeling really good physically and mentally.  Through those 30 days, I was doing some research on being vegan and learned a lot about the treatment of animals.  See links below:
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
Food Matters
Supersize Me
The China Study
Okinawa Program

3. Protecting our home
    Now that I have been vegan (on and off) for about 3 years, I am learning more and more about the impact that animal farming has on our planet's ecosystem.  Much like how the bacteria on and in our bodies have a symbiotic relationship with us, we have a symbiotic relationship with the Earth.  When the bad bacteria or parasite gets to be too abundant, we get sick...when one species begins to take over Earth without replenishing or recycling resources, the Earth gets "sick"...

Over the last year, many people (including family) have continued to ask me if and why I am vegan.  Since I do not like to be the center of attention, I usually dismiss the question and share the piece of cookie/cake in celebration of whatever the event is.  Now, I have not straight up eaten meat at all, but the occasional dairy product gets thrown in every now and then.  One time, when a new friend asked about being vegan, I had a family member jump right in and say that I wasn't.  Honestly, I was quite offended.  Although I do not go out of my way to "preach" that I am vegan, I do take the time to assess my situation and make sure that both my lifestyle choice and the comfort of the people around me is taken into consideration.  If that meant having a cookie that was baked with an egg, then that's what it meant.

On that note, I have been watching and reading more vegan documentaries and articles and I am ready to say no to any animal product or byproduct.  If that means bringing my own dessert to share or an entire meal for Andrew and I to holidays and celebrations, then that is what I will do.  I love and care too deeply for my body, animals, and Earth to not be vegan and I appreciate all of you who understand my lifestyle choices!!  This is by no means putting down those who eat meat.  Andrew and I are the only veg-heads in our combined families, but for the most part, they all respect that and I am so grateful  and respectful of their love!

Please leave a comment below on why you are vegan or even why you are not, but please be respectful...

Much honor and love.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy Halloween!!

Hi friends!

Happy belated Halloween.  If you are new to this blog/website, you may not know that I am really into this time of year.  Fall is my favorite and Halloween/Thanksgiving are definitely my favorite holidays.

Last weekend, Andrew and I had a Halloween party with a few friends, and I am just now getting around to apologies...

Andrew and I dressed as the 11th Doctor and Clara (from Dr. Who), we also had a biker chick, a Dia de los Muertos couple, and superman with super woman!  Check out the awesome makeup!!

We also had a Stegosaurus!!  A cute one, I must add...

I do apologize for the poor lighting in some of these photos...because we only have one big window, I had a hard time getting good lighting when facing away from the window.  Nevertheless, I also snapped a few pictures of our decorations.  We didn't go too crazy, but I thought it was pretty good; if I do say so myself!

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Halloween!

PS, with the holidays coming up, I will be having a giveaway on some JuicePlus products!! So be sure to follow me on the blog, Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter to stay updated!

Enjoy life!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Baxter Wellness Event

A huge thank you to Baxter Healthcare, the Be Well @ Baxter Team, and my dad for inviting me to be part of this awesome event!

For those of you who attended and stopped by my table (Juice Plus), I really enjoyed talking to all of you and had a great time sharing stories.

I had to recently update my website and did not have a chance to update my business cards before this event, so if the website on that card does not work click here to take a look at my Juice Plus website.

Thank you again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blood Moon

Did anyone see the blood moon this morning!  Not only was it a full moon, but it was red because of the lunar eclipse!

Although the above picture is not my own, this is what I saw at 5:50am this morning!  So cool!

According to the Farmer's Almanac, in April of this year, there was the first of 4 blood moons to come, creating a tetrad series of this sort.  This moon, the 2nd in the series, is also called the Hunter's Moon and is the first full moon that follows the Harvest Moon.  

To make this happen, the moon passed "to the north of the center of the shadow..." (of the Earth), which is what caused the red hue to be seen!

Leave me a comment letting me know if you got to see it too!  What were your thoughts?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fat Free Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Hello there!  So glad you dropped by!

I got some inspiration from this blog to create my own version of healthy pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  I simply combined her ideas with a simple bread dough, took out all fat and viola!  Delicious, hot out of the oven, knock your socks off...oh you'll just have to try them for yourself pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Ok enough of that's the recipe: (Makes about 12-14 rolls)

For the dough:
  • 2 1/2 c flour (white, wheat, gluten free, rye, etc.)
  • 1 t salt (optional)
  • 1 c warm water (baby bottle temp)
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 packet dry yeast
    • or you can swap the water and yeast for a sourdough starter if you have one!!
  1. If you are using yeast, dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water and let rest for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
  2. Place the flour and salt (if using) in a large mixing bowl...or if you are not messy like me, you can skip the bowl and do this right on the counter top!  Add the yeasty water and stir until well combined.
  3. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your home, feel free to add either more water if too dry or more flour if too sticky until a nice soft dough is formed. 
  4. Turn out onto your counter and knead for 5 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
  5. Let this bundle of joy rest, covered with a tea towel, over night or for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.
For the filling:
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (or about 12 oz fresh pumpkin puree)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar (or any sugar choice combination you like)
  • 2 T ground cinnamon
    • Now that you are salivating at the thought of these for breakfast, there are still a few more steps.  I promise, it will be wirth it!
    • Mix the filling ingredients together, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
The assembly!!
  1. When the dough is ready, roll out to 1/4" thickness, or as thin/thick as you'd like really.
  2. Layer generously with the filling, feel free to add any additional items like chopped pecans, dried fruit, or other spices at this time!
  3. Now, here's the tough part.  Gently roll the dough lengthwise until all the dough is rolled and no filling is seeping out.
  4. Take some string or mint-free, unused dental floss and make 2" pieces by sliding the string under the dough, then crossing the two ends opposite each other and pulling gently...(here is the time to definitely watch the video, I apologize if this completely confused you!)
  5. Place each roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Slide into the oven and wait 20 more minutes until those golden gooey goddess of goodness are finished and ready for you to devour!
  7. When they are done, carefully take them out of the oven, letting them rest 5 minutes after all that hard work.  Douse with some vegan frosting if you'd rather this not be fat free and enjoy with loved ones!!
Although this is not the prettiest picture, the taste is out of this world! The reason for the sloppiness is that I was too impatient (no...not me!!) and I rolled out the dough without making sure to flip it and keep it floured as not to stick.  Well, needless to say, it was a sticky mess when I tried rolling it, so it did not roll well.  

I will definitely be making these again (I've already made them twice since I got the inspiration for this recipe from this website!! Obviously, I changed a few things to make this a pumpkin cinnamon roll, but it was the easiest bread recipe I have ever found and used!

Let me know if you try it/ would like to try it and leave a comment on your thoughts!

Enjoy life!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Weekend Fun!

Hi there!  The words in this post are going to be at a minimum because I want the pictures to speak for themselves.  That being said, I will give you a quick run down of the busy, but fun, weekend Andrew and I had!  On Saturday, after my yoga class in which I led the class through 50 sun salutations...Andrew and I went to Essencia Yoga Wellness Center in Wheaton where I led students of all capabilities through 108 sun salutations, 30 minutes of restorative yoga, and 20 minutes of meditation!  I enjoyed it so much and got lots of great feedback from everyone!

Make sure to check out her YouTube page  as well as mine and Annie's  for yoga updates and ideas! 

After that Yoga Triathlon, we got to experience a gong bath which was quite a new experience for me!

On Sunday, Andrew and I got up early to get to the ALS walk at Soldier Field in Chicago.  Low and behold, it did not start until 10:30 am, so we walked around for 2 hours until the actual 2 mile walk started.

Yeah, we are children at heart...Played on the metal/rope Earth!

Andrew couldn't find the entrance so he crawled in...

Found the nice big opening after the fact...!
My turn!  Climbing above the entrance to use the top opening.

Finally time for the walk!

I hope you had a great weekend!  Let me know in the comments if you did anything to celebrate the first days of fall!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wedding Update #2

Good afternoon wonderful friends!

I am here to bring you some updates on the wedding planning progress...woah, that's a mouthful!

Things are going so well in the realm of wedding planning, that it is almost unnecessary for me to share it with you; but don't worry...I will anyways!

Before we begin, make sure to read or re-read this post so I don't have to retype repeat myself :)

Ok, all set?  Good.  This shouldn't take too long.

1. We have all of our bridal party set!  The girls have their dresses picked out, but we have not decided on what the guys will be wearing.  Andrew seems to be unable to decide on whether he wants tux or suit and then the color.  I think I'll have to round up some ideas and have him just pick one. ha!

2. I am working on accessories and decorations for the ceremony and reception.  Since we have until the spring, it is kind of hard to get too set on one thing because, if you are anything like me, your ideas change weekly!  I do, however, have a pretty good idea of what it will look like, now it is just about finding the right things and pulling it all together after the holidays.

3. We got a wax sealing stamp!  I have wanted one of these for the longest time, but never had a real reason to get one.  Until now!  We will be sending out our invitations in December and will be using the red sealing wax to (obviously) seal the envelope, so I will be sure to post a picture or two when that happens!!

4.  Our wedding website is all ready to be published once we send out our invites.  Each guest will get the link and that is how we will be keeping track of who can make it and such.  For any new brides out there...I highly suggest It is so easy to use and you can keep track of everything.  It even gives you a tentative schedule to go by as you plan for your day!

Well, that's pretty much it.  I have done more than I thought since the last time I gave you an update, which is really good!

Keep enjoying life!

If you liked this post and want to read more, please add your email to the box on the right side of the page and never miss an update!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Raw Vegan Doughnut Holes

Howdy friends!  I told you in this post about an easy, quick and delicious snack idea.  It was #9 on the list, but every one will love it; especially because you can switch up ingredients to make it appeal to your loved ones.

These little guys are perfect to pack in a lunch box, in a bag as an on the go breakfast/snack, or even paired with a cup of warm tea.  After all, we have to start thinking about keeping warm with these crisp mornings and cool evenings just around the corner!


  • 1 cup rolled oats, split into two half cups
  • 1 T natural peanut butter
  • 1 T natural jam

  • Place 1/2 c rolled oats in a blender or food processor and pulse until a flour-like consistency is formed.
  • In a bowl, add the oat flour to the whole rolled oats.  Then add the peanut butter and jam.  Stir well, adding 1t water at a time as needed.
  • Roll into ping-pong sized balls and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up.  I know, I know that's a long time to wait for such a yummy treat, but I promise this step makes it worth the wait.
  • Enjoy with friends and family!!  (well...maybe...)
These little bites are great to pack in kids' (or husbands') lunches or as an after school/work/pre-workout snack.

You can also swap any ingredients that you love.  For example, instead of peanut butter, use any nut butter or even dates!  Note:  if you do use dates, be sure to soak them and blend the whole mixture in a food processor or blender.

Other combos to try can be found in next week's allergy friendly granola bars recipe!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School Snacks

This time of year always puts me in an extraordinary mood!  The cool mornings, warm and sunny afternoons, and evenings with the best sunsets!  I get more inspired now than any other time of year (including January 1st)!  So, in honor of going back to school, work, internships, or simply a change of seasons, here is a list of my top 10 go-to snacks:

These are all good for mid-morning, mid-afternoon, as a side, or midnight snack (not that we ever do that...)

Top 10 Snacks: 

10. Nuts or Seeds

9. Raw Donut Holes (recipe coming soon!)

8. Kale chips

7. Oatmeal with dried fruit

6. Cold noodles (brown rice are my fave!) with any sauce you'd like (I opt for low fat/sodium marinara, hot sauce, or tahini with lemon juice)

5.  Allergy Friendly Granola bars (recipe also coming soon!!)

4. Smoothie (strawberry banana, banana chocolate chip, pineapple peach banana, the possibilities are endless!!!)

3. Veggie sticks and hummus- celery and carrots with low fat, low sodium hummus is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up

2. Nana Ice Cream- 3+ frozen bananas, water, vanilla extract; blend and eat!

1. Fruit!!- from bananas and apples to gooey dates, fruit is easy to carry with you and you need nothing but your hands and mouth to enjoy it!

So there you have it, my top 10 favorite snacks for morning to evening!  I generally gravitate towards the top 5, but all of them are good to change things up and add in new flavors/nutrients.

Be sure to subscribe so you can see my next 2 recipe posts mentioned above!  They will be posted within the month.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

38 Reasons to Exercise and Eat well!

This post from EBF got me inspired to make my own list for reasons to exercise/eat healthy.  So, without further ado, here it is!  And, it's 38, not 48...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cucumber Salad Recipe

Hey guys!  Before I dive into this recipe, I just want to thank you all for sharing my blog and taking a look at my posts!  Within the last few weeks, I have had more page views than ever.  You don't even understand how excited that makes me!!!! (well, maybe you can tell by the exclamation points...haha)  Any who, I'm still only a few subscribers away from my first goal, so if you haven't already and you like seeing vegan/raw vegan recipes subscribe today :)

Now on to probably the easiest recipe's what you'll need (many of the ingredients are optional or can be substituted):
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1/2 small onion (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 T coconut vinegar or aminos
  • 1 T mixed spices
    • Note:  the last 4 ingredients are optional if you are cutting those foods out of your lifestyle, making this salad even more easy!

Step1:  Slice the cucumber really thin.  You can use a mandolin here if you have one, but since I've sliced my fingers on the mandolin I got for the Holidays twice now, I decided to stick with my knife skills.  Also, you may have noticed I'm using a boning knife...since we don't eat meat, this knife rarely gets used and since it is made for thin slices, this is actually a really good type of knife to use for this task.
Step 3:  To reduce burping or digestion problems, you can remove the seeds by simply popping them out of the slices (this is actually a very easy task).  Place the cukes in a large bowl, and if you are not using any of the other ingredients feel free to chomp away or dip into your favorite tomato sauce.
Step 3:  Otherwise, slice the onion and garlic really thin as well, add the spices and vinegar, and you have one delicious salad!
If you let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour or more, the flavors really melt together and tastes much better.  If you can wait that long, of course.
How are you using up the abundance of cucumbers we are having now?

Luana ola!  Enjoy life!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wedding Update!

We are well on our way in planning this wedding!

So far, we have a venue, photographer, and DJ and we just finalized our cake!!  Sadly, I wasn't able to take any pictures of the cake tasting, but I can tell you that we have our cake finalized!  It is going to be 3 layers with 3 different flavors, all covered in white frosting and bright blue decorations of swirls and dots.  To add a touch of elegance, we are also adding silk ribbon tied around each layer.  It might be hard to picture, but I know this baker is very good and she will make a beautiful cake!

The day before this cake tasting, Andrew and I had a very active day!  First, we biked to Xsport for yoga, then biked to a nature conservatory.  From there, we walked around for about 2 hours, then biked home.  This gave us a total of around 20 miles of movement between the walking and biking!  It was so great.  Take a look at some of the things we saw:

What have you been doing this summer for fun/adventure?

Luana ola!  Enjoy life!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Urban Agriculture Camp

It's been far too long my friends.  You know, it seems like every time I commit to posting once a week, life happens and I get so wrapped up in living/experiencing that I forget to bring my camera and/or post about it!  I hope to get some consistency eventually, but for now I apologize and I hope you can forgive me.

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to learn about Urban Agriculture during a camp that was supported by Triton College and The Sugar Beet Co-op!  Below are just a few pictures of all the different places we got to explore and learn about within the realm of growing organic and sustainable food in places around Chicago!  Below each picture is a link to that location's website if you'd like to learn more or visit them yourself.  Also, definitely let me know if you have visited or plan to visit these places!!

Oh!  And, I'm only 3 subscribers away from reaching my first goal!  So, if you like learning about nutrition, yoga, and fitness subscribe to this blog!