Holding Out for a HERO!

The new Quest Nutrition hero BAR!

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I have tried two flavors so far, although I am DYING to get my hands on the chocolate caramel pecan flavor…

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I loved both flavors (blueberry cobbler and vanilla caramel) that I got the chance to try prior to the release. The rich white chocolate-like coating combined with the crunchy cereal-bar base created the perfect texture. Not to mention the caramel and blueberry layers; the caramel layer blew me away. They both were gooey, sweet, and delicious. No one would ever guess that these bars are healthy! Hero bars combine the best of the older seasonal pumpkin quest bars and the new cereal bars. These are my new go-to treat!

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These bars are sweetened with allulose, which is a sweetener that is new to the market. While the allulose is listed as a sugar on the label, the body does not absorb it…watch the video below for a more in-depth explanation::

Nutrition aside, these bars taste DELICIOUS!

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Are you excited to try the new Hero Bar? Which flavor sounds the best to you?

Coach Training Accelerator: A Review

I love learning, but I’ve always been a bit skeptical about online learning courses. When Coach Training Accelerator gave me the opportunity to complete their Certified Coach online training, I couldn’t turn it down–I had to try online learning for myself!

Confession: I was wrong about online learning.

This was amazing.

I was so surprised by how much I learned through the series of 20 lessons. The content is a supplement for the CTA Certified Coach Program and is delivered through audio and transcribed lectures that covers content ranging from interpersonal skills to financial decision making. As a psychology major, I thought I had a fairly good knowledge base on how to motivate and change behavior, but I learned so much more during this 20 class graduate-level online course series.

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I have never thought about the idea of self-employment, or taking on coaching as a part time job, but I am deeply interested (and qualified!) after taking this course. Coaching is not just weight loss or career focused; coaching can extend to a variety of unique domains. This course explained that you can become a coach for whatever you see yourself as an expert in; for example, I feel very connected to college aged women seeking holistic wellbeing. My knowledge and skills align with this population and I can relate well to them, which would make me a more helpful coach that I might be for a busy mom looking to lose weight.

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Beyond the basics, the course really goes step by step through what it takes to get your business started. These lessons were some of the most technically helpful and the weekly timeline is perfect. Every lesson has direct, clear goal-focused “homework” to help you get your business started and avoid the endless “I’ll do it later” excuses. I would recommend sticking to a routine when taking the course; putting the weekly lesson in your calendar and sticking to it is so helpful. Some days I honestly struggled to stop at just one lesson!

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When I missed a week in the midst of finals and my college graduation, I received an encouraging email from the program checking in on my progress and making sure I didn’t have any questions. I think this is one of the most unique aspects of the program; there is a clear line of communication to a support system within the program for questions, mentorship, and advice. Plus, this connection is not just while you are taking the course, it is a life-long connection.

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I learned strategies that will be immensely useful both in coaching, and in my everyday relationships and business endeavors on the whole. This course is unique in that it goes beyond basic coaching content–it includes so much about the business side of coaching and the importance of professional development. I’ve gained so much unexpected knowledge and I love knowing that I’ll always have access to the resources of CTA. Please let me know if you have any questions about my experience or any specific aspects of the program!

Click here to try the course!

Royal Hideaway Playacar

My parents were so generous and kind enough to book us a trip to Playa del Carmen as a congratulatory graduation gift! It was something of a mess getting there in one piece (I discovered my passport was missing only days before my flight!), but stepping off the plane into a cool Mexican evening felt spectacular.

We stayed at Royal Hideaway two years ago, but it has completely changed–and not for the better. I hate to sound ungrateful, travel is such an amazing opportunity, but I just want to share my experiences so you can choose a different hotel if you choose to travel to Playa del Carmen.

First, given that this is a food blog, let’s talk food. I remember delicious fresh salads, ceviches, afternoon snack buffets full of tasty, healthy options. Now the menu consists of hamburgers, French fries, and the “catch of the day” is always a (somewhat questionable) sea bass. Don’t be fooled by appearances, this fish tastes bland and was doused in heavy butter sauce (as were the steamed vegetables). 


Let’s just say I didn’t leave many meals satisfied and am grateful I brought a large stash of snacks.


There was a large corporate group at the hotel during our stay, which meant we had to eat at the same restaurant twice a day, every day. We were not told about this when we booked, which makes sense, but it really took away from our trip–and the food! My friends even remember my rants about the amazing options from my trip two years ago, but so much has changed.


The hot tub closest to our room was broken the whole time and my mom was scalded in the shower by temperatures that switched from hot to cold without warning. In addition, one of our sinks broke!

I have to say the general wait staff has stayed as wonderful as ever–the waiters, Concierges, and maintenance staff are so thoughtful and helpful. I would say all of these issues link back to corporate changes and attempts to cut cost at the expense of quality. All in all, the quality of the hotel has really decreased (while price has not!) so save your frustration and I definitely you go somewhere else. The beach is beautiful, but you can get the same beach somewhere else in Playacar. 

We met with management (Sergio was very receptive), but I’ll be curious to see if anything changes before we leave tomorrow. I’ll definitely keep you updated if things improve! 

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 Do you have any Playa del  Carmen hotel recommendations? 

Easy Amore Spring Pasta

Everyone knows that familiar feeling…it’s 6PM, your stomach is growling, you have no idea what to make for dinner…

An easy option is pasta, but then comes another question…what kind of pasta? Amore has tons of solutions! Our family loves using the Amore herb paste (a tasty mix of fresh herbs in olive oil) to toss the pasta and some freshly sautéed spring veggies! 

The paste is vegan, all natural, and tastes just like fresh herbs! A little goes a long way and adds the perfect light flavor to a pasta dish. A mix of whole grain pasta, herb paste to taste (2 tsp or so), and sautéed asparagus, bell peppers, and yellow summer squash is colorful, flavorful and healthy! 

The perfect side for salmon, or a tasty light dinner on its own!

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What’s your favorite easy go-to dinner?

Queen Bey Likes Popcorn 

I used to always be the party host in high school, but after coming to college I let go of that role. I loved it, but I can’t say it was always easy. The host has to plan, coordinate, invite, which is all fun, but also comes with a lot of responsibility! If you forget someone, you hurt their feelings. If you forget chips, the guac gets lonely. If you’ve ever hosted, I’m sure you understand! I’m a host of imperfection, and you see past all that (Beyoncé, 2006).

Now this imperfection bothers me less so when one of my good friends at college and I came up with a brilliant party idea, I knew it was time to bring back my host identity. And the planning for a baby shower for Beyoncé’s newly announced pregnancy began. We made sure to plan a few things ahead of time, but a lot of it was kept very low key. We divided the tasks and she generously offered her apartment for the venue. It could not have been easier or more fun!

Our guests were welcomed starting at the front door:

Obviously we also had plenty of (spiked) Lemonade

Blue(berry) Ivy Lemonade


When I learned from an article that Beyoncé LOVES popcorn, I knew that had to be on the party menu. Luckily, Live Love Pop was happy to provide some delicious popcorn to fuel our night of Beyoncé. Our snacks in formation:

 

Live. Love. Yoncé.

A bowl of my favorite salt and vinegar flavor, which was followed by getting down on the dance floor…

Get it poppin’

 

I love sharing my love of Live Love Pop–thank you!

And an even bigger thank you to my first college friend and fellow Beyoncé lover, Naomi:

“Freakum dress out my closet, Yoncé filling out this skirt I look damn good, I ain’t lost it.” (Beyoncé, 2013)


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Are you always the host? What’s your favorite party theme?

Chocolate Berry Milkshake (recipe+review)

A recipe that includes the word “milkshake” in the title sets a high bar, but I assure you this will not disappoint!


This is Designer Protein’s newest line of protein, “Native Whey.” This protein is cold filtered from non-GMO, grass-fed milk that has no antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. A lot of whey is a result of the leftover product of cheese-making, but native whey is different and processed at lower temperatures and is not exposed to ingredients involved in the cheese-making process. Native whey also more leucine, a crucial branched chain amino acid, and glutamine that most whey proteins. Leucine is an essential amino acid shown to help in muscle protein synthesis (aka turning that hard work from exercising into muscle) .

Beyond the nutrition, the powder tastes amazing. My mom, who hates the taste of stevia usually, really likes the flavor! That’s a win in my book.  Without further ado, here is the recipe:


Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk or water
1 cup frozen berries
1 scoop Designer Protein Vanilla Milkshake Native Whey
1 tbsp NuNaturals Cocoa Powder 

Combine all ingredients in high powered blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy! For a thicker, more decadent shake, add another tablespoon of cocoa powder. A note on the cocoa powder: NuNaturals is one of my favorites and using a Dutch-processed cocoa is a must to get the same rich flavor!

Use code HANNAH20 for 20% off your order from Designer Protein!

Wake Shake Cinnamon Bun Cookies

I recently got the chance to try Super Body Breakthrough Wake Shake (I got cinnamon bun and caramel latte flavors)! Now I love a good protein shake or smoothie bowl, but I was dying to turn the amazing cinnamon bun flavor into a baked good form. I love the shake mix; it is not the typical “protein shake.” The mix provides a great balance of fats, protein, and fiber…we do need more than just protein (check out the linked article to learn more).

I decided to try and make cookies and they turned out perfectly! I love throwing ingredients together and seeing what comes out of the oven. These cookies have the perfect buttery flavor from the grass-fed butter in the Wake Shake mix (yay healthy fats) and the collagen blend is perfect for healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 scoop cinnamon bun Wake Shake 
  2. 1/2 cup NuNaturals Oat fiber (can sub in oat flour)
  3. 1 egg (or 3 tbsp egg whites)
  4. 3-4tsp water
  5. Dash of NuNaturals stevia
  6. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  7. Cinnamon to taste


First, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Add in wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Place in oven for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the cookies in for 10 more minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch. Enjoy!


These cookies are delicious dipped in peanut butter–don’t blame me if you can’t stop dunking! Use discount code “CH10” for 10% off anything from Super Body Breakthrough!

I haven’t tried the recipe with other mixes, but let me know if you do. I would recommend using a shake blend with a higher fat content to get a similar texture. I hope you enjoy!

Why Plant-Based?

I’ve made a greater effort to choose plant-based options over the past few months. While everyone is different, I wanted to share a few reasons why I’ve made the slight shift. I am definitely still eating plenty of animal products, but here are some of the main reasons I’m opting for more plant-based options:

  1. It’s better for the planet. Plant-based options have a smaller carbon-footprint; these foods often require less transportation and have fewer environmental side effects (decreased carbon emissions, decreased methane gas–ehem, cows). sky-earth-galaxy-universe
  2. Animals are cute (ethics). While some people think eating animals is entirely unethical, I do not personally fall into that camp. I take more issue with eating animals and byproducts of animals that have been treated poorly. Choosing cruelty-free, local, grass-fed options makes a huge difference, but often those options are more difficult to come by and are more expensive.7479512636_b19884cac6_b
  3. Nutrition. There is a ton of evidence that eating a plant-based diet has numerous positive effects on health. The China Study, one of the few large-scale, reputable nutrition studies, was conducted by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The study found individuals with a plant-based diet where most protein comes from plant sources have decreased cancer rates and lower prevalence of bone fracture, among other health benefits. If you’re curious, read more here.Nutrition-pyramid
  4. It’s not all or nothing. I think this is a huge misconception in our world of extremes. Everyone thinks that you must choose a label and stick with it, but I prefer to stay flexible, eat what I want, and eat to feel good. There is no need to be a strict vegetarian or vegan, but trying to make mindful choices and choose plant-based options a little more often can add up to big benefits.764px-Balanced_scale_of_Justice.svg_
  5. I love Nuzest protein powderThis is a simple one…I fell in love with Nuzest protein powder when I first tried it. This is a super simple pea protein with very few added ingredients and it tastes great. Look out for recipes using this powder coming to the blog soon!Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 5.31.29 PM

Pancakes, Friendship, and Positive Framing

I recently got a shipment of delicious pancake mix from Silver Fern Brand. I love any excuse for a get together with friends, so I decided to coordinate a pancake-thesis writing party! I am currently a senior in college and many of my friends and I are in the midst of writing honors theses, which means we often feel stressed about the writing process and the long-term nature of our projects. Instead of dreading a day of research and writing, I proposed the idea of turning it into a fun gathering–I positively framed the situation!

 

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Now the pancakes certainly helped, but positive framing is a tool that can come in handy for anything you might be dreading or lacking motivation to do. Life is full of things we don’t want to do…taxes, homework, taking out the trash…but it’s all about the mindset we have.

My friends and I chatted, enjoyed making the pancakes together, and each ate a delicious chocolate-chip studded stack, and by that point we did not mind getting down to business to work on our papers.

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Look at that maple syrup drizzle…

I also discovered a new favorite maple syrup….Nature’s Hollow sugar free maple syrup is so good! It was a perfect topping that didn’t lead to a horrendous sugar crash. I highly recommend this over traditional maple syrup if you’re wary of your sugar intake, which we all should be–check out this article for more info.

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I think it’s safe to say our party was a major success–many pancakes eaten, many paragraphs written!


If you want some Silver Fern pancake mix, click the link to order: http://fmtc.co/3b0bc56a?sid=98.677

If you’re interested in learning more about decreasing your sugar intake and improving gut health, check out Silver Fern’s Elevated Plan: http://fmtc.co/089b5be6?sid=98.677


Next time there’s a task you’re dreading, try positive framing! What’s something you hate and how do you motivate yourself to do it?

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Gluten-Free Ginger Pear Bread

I absolutely love a baking challenge. So for this recipe, I noticed we had a ton of Harry and David Christmas season pears sitting around going soft. This got the cogs turning in my head. Plus, I just won a giveaway hosted by Kate and NuNaturals that included a new-to-me flour–organic green banana flour. I also had some leftover “Unpumpkin Pie Spice” from  Raw Spice Bar. If you’re curious, Raw Spice Bar is a spice subscription box that delivers freshly ground spices to your door every month–the mixes have been so much fun to use, plus you can taste the difference when you compare to stale, store-bought spices.

All of the ingredients on hand sounded like a great match so I gave it a shot and was thrilled by the results! A soft, tasty loaf that you would never expect is gluten-free and low in sugar.

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Ingredients:

1/4 c pumpkin
3/4 c nunaturals banana flour
2 eggs
2 medium pears, finely chopped
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
1/4 c packed brown sugar blend
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Combine wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
3) In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
4) Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth.
5) Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.
6) Bake for 28 minutes or until bread feels firm to the touch
7) Let cool for 10 minutes in pan then flip the bread out onto a cooling rack.
8) Enjoy! This would taste delicious with a dollop of almond butter on top!
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Do you like throwing random combos together? How do you decrease waste in your kitchen?