Chocolate Pumpkin Milkshake

I know that healthy and milkshake don't normally go in the same sentence...

But for the sake that legging season is upon us, I have to be a lot more careful what goes into my belly. Leggings don't necessarily hide EVERYTHING. (In a perfect world right?) That's what oversized sweaters and jackets are for though!!

Healthy Chocolate Pumpkin Milkshake
Healthy Chocolate Pumpkin Milkshake

So, in a sense, this isn't really a milkshake. But it's creamy and somewhat thick, sweet and full of flavor! So in my mind, it's a milkshake. (Minus the fat and calories!) Also, there is real pumpkin puree in it, so when you serve it to your kids they are drinking vegetables...

I mean, could you be a better mom?!

Healthy Chocolate Pumpkin Milkshakes via The Diva Dish
Healthy Chocolate Pumpkin Milkshakes via The Diva Dish

Chocolate Pumpkin Milk

Ingredients

  • (For the Whipped Cream)
  • 1 can full fat coconut, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 1 TB. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • (For the Milkshake)
  • 1 cup non dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 frozen banana
  • 6 frozen cubes of pumpkin puree(Just add puree to ice cubes and freeze)
  • 1 tsp. molasses
  • 2 TB. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • handful of ice

Instructions

  1. Prepare your whipped cream first by scooping out JUST the solid white flesh from the can and placing it in a bowl. Using hand beaters, whip the cream until creamy.
  2. Next add the maple syrup, spice, and vanilla extract.
  3. Whip until fluffy and place covered in the fridge until you're ready to use.
  4. For the milkshake, add all of your ingredients into the blender until blended. Top with whipped cream and drink immediately!

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img_2166
img_2166

Just look at those smiles! They would never know I didn't make that drink with a gallon of ice cream ;)!

Healthy Cotton Candy Milkshake

*Who doesn't love that melt in your mouth super sweet spun sugar?! Imagine that flavor in a  cold milkshake form, and wait for it...It's also healthy too! Read below for the recipe!*  ____________________________________________________________________

So on Friday June 17th, I quite sugar.

No chocolate, candy, bites of cookies, cupcakes, licks of frosting. It wasn't easy, but I did it...

cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish
cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish

For 6 hours.

Listen. I love the idea of quitting sugar. Never touching a cupcake again and poo poo-ing at the sight of an ice cream cone sounds amazing to me. I don't want to love it/lust it/dream of it...But I love sweets, baking, tasting, licking...did I paint the right picture?

Now, being that it's summer and I live on the surface of the sun, I am constantly taking my kids swimming which means I'm constantly in a bathing suit. I eat healthy and I workout, but I know that I could always kick it up a notch and be like I used to be when I didn't have kids. When I shopped religiously at whole foods instead of buying diapers. When I sat down and ate lunch quietly, instead of eating my kids leftovers. When I didn't wear size 'training bra' because of nursing...#goodol'days

cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish
cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish

So I told myself I was quitting sugar on Friday. I told everyone I knew, because everyone cares. I think I told my husband 3 times.

But something happened Friday, earlier than expected. I had a migraine and was just so hungry, moody, grumpy, and well...please tell me you understand?

I just had to give in and have a few pieces of dark chocolate. For some reason it brought me comfort, and eased the burden of that horrible Friday afternoon when the unexpected happened....

cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish
cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish

Honestly, I was disappointed in myself. How could I not go a day without chocolate?!

But then I remembered that I've never been one to follow 'healthy lifestyles' where we completely limit our selves from food, especially our favorite food. Should we moderate and eat sparingly, definitely. But to tell myself I would never have sugar again...That's like, criminal.

healthy cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish
healthy cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish

So even though I only went 6 hours without sugar, I feel totally better and like a whole new person!!! (Joking.Joking.)

But I definitely reminded myself not to be so hard, and that sometimes jumping all in and saying I'll NEVER do that again is probably not the right way to improve at something...Especially when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle :).

And for those days when you want to limit the sweets, but still need to conquer those tastebuds....

cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish
cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish

Healthy Cotton Candy Milkshake

During the summer, these delicious cotton candy grapes pop up in grocery stores! They mimic almost exactly the taste of that sugar treat!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. milk of choice
  • 2 1/2 c. cotton candy grapes, frozen optional
  • 1 c. ice

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender until creamy! Serves 2-3 people, enjoy!

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Have you guys seen the cotton candy grapes at grocery stores during summer time?! I can't believe how much they taste like the actual treat! I bought the store out because I didn't want to share in it's deliciousness, so hurry and check your local stores before I come and steal those too ;)!

cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish
cotton candy milkshake from the diva dish

I asked the girls if they could share a milkshake so I could put two straws in one and take a picture, but  they had the same reaction as if I asked chop off their dolls heads so....

Two straws and two cups it is!!

Coconut Pineapple Berry Punch

*If you are looking for a refreshing drink to satisfy that thirst during the hot summers, this one is perfect! It's made with fresh pineapple and blackberry juice, a hint of coconut and mint for a refreshing taste, and just the right amount of sweetness!* _________________________________________________________________________

Summer Break, Day 5.

Get me out of here.

Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

Every year I count down the school days until summer break, hopelessly waiting for the lack of schedules and rushing out the door to be late for school once again. The papers start piling in from the past 6 months of school projects that weren't sent home. I quickly must black trash bag that crap before my daughter is convinced I don't love her and her 4 pages on writing words with a long U sound.

The last week of school is Hell Week because you have to be 3 places at once every day, and if you miss one well then you are like a horrible person. It's also the one week a year where I have to get dressed and do my hair every day.

So hard.

Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

But it's exciting to know that freedom is near, schedules and homework is no more, and lunches don't have to be impressive...

That is until your a week into summer break and you are ready for school to start again. Then what do you do?

Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

Establish a chore chart and become the meanest mom ever. Check.

Limit TV time so the kids can play with their toys instead and become the meanest mom ever. Check.

Have your kids do some type of learning activity at least a few time a week and become the meanest mom ever. Check.

Wish you didn't spend so much money at Target so you could book yourself a vacation and become the meanest mom ever for leaving them with daddy. Check.

Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

Don't you just love summer?

Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

If all else fails, make a delicious and refreshing pineapple punch drink and pretend you are on that vacation all by yourself, when really you are just standing behind a shower curtain trying to hide.

Check.

Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

Coconut Pineapple Berry Punch

Ingredients

  • 3/4 of a pineapple, cut into slices or chunks
  • 6 oz blackckberries
  • 1 c. light coconut milk mixed with 2 TB. honey
  • 10-12 mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Run 1/4 of the pineapple through a juicer. Next add the blackberries, 1/4 of the pineapple, then the mint leaves, the rest of the pineapple, and lastly the coconut milk.
  2. Pour juice into glasses filled to the top with ice.
  3. Drink and enjoy!
  4. Makes 2 large juices, or 4 small.

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Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish
Pineapple Coconut Berry Juice from The Diva Dish

Lastly, go back to Target and buy $1 slime which will end up keeping your kids entertained for a miraculous amount of time.

AND THEN start saving for a vacation...

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

I don't mean to brag, but I consider myself a connoisseur of the chocolate aisle in the grocery store. I find myself there often.

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

I'm often browsing the different types of chocolates, mostly dark, and I always find myself reaching for the same brand of chocolate,

Green & Black's Organic Chocolate

. They are an all organic and Fairtrade certified company and they are my favorite chocolates to snack on and bake with. During the day I'll grab a few squares of the 85% Dark Chocolate, and BAM! I'm a new woman!

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

With summer quickly approaching in Vegas, I find my kids (and myself) craving cold and satisfying treats. Popsicles and smoothies are usually our go-to, but lately my kids have been on a milkshake kick. Do ya blame them?!

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

I wanted to create something that was light and refreshing, but also indulgent and sweet for those hot summer afternoons. I knew that the Dark Chocolate Mint Bar would go perfectly with coconut ice cream! But then...

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

Fold in that Mint Dark Chocolate in some coconut whipped cream for a topping on the milkshake and it takes everything to a whole new level.

A level I like to call perfection.

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • (For the Milkshake)
  • 1 pint good quality coconut ice cream OR coconut Greek yogurt frozen ice cubes
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 12 squares GREEN & BLACK'S ORGANIC Mint Dark Chocolate
  • Ice-optional
  • (For the Whipped Cream)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, placed upside down in the fridge overnight
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 4 TB. pure cane powdered sugar
  • 6 squares GREEN & BLACK'S ORGANIC Mint Dark Chocolate, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Make the whipped cream first. Turn the can right side up and open. Remove all of the thick cream and discard or save the water for later use.
  2. Whip the cream and the rest of the ingredients (not the chocolate) together with beaters or a mixer until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. To make the milkshake, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
  6. Top with the whip cream.
  7. Eat immediately and enjoy!
  8. Serves 2 milkshakes or 4 small ones.

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Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

The second I finished whipping these up my girls were jumping up and down begging for a glass! Too bad I didn't share... Just kidding! I let them have a sip ;).

They loved the little bits of mint chocolate inside, which added a whole new level of excitement for them. Being a kid is the greatest right? The whipped cream was probably my favorite and I can definitely see using it again for other sweet treats in the future!

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream
Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Coconut Milkshake w/ Mint Chip Coconut Whipped Cream

Have you ever tried Green & Black's Organic Chocolate? It's amazing and made in great taste! There are 11 flavors!

Dark Chocolate:  Dark 70%, Dark 85%, Hazelnut & Currant, Mint, Maya Gold, Ginger, and Spiced Chili

Milk Chocolate:  Milk Chocolate, Almond, and Toffee

White Chocolate:  White Chocolate

If you had to choose your favorite chocolate bar, which would it be? Answer in the comments below for a chance to win a $100 cash equivalent gift card plus a GREEN & BLACK'S ORGANIC Chocolate prize pack! (I always choose 85% Dark Chocolate every time! :) )  

This sweepstakes is sponsored and fulfilled by BlogHer

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of GREEN & BLACK'S ORGANIC Chocolate. All opinions are 100% mine.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This sweepstakes is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 5/21/2015 – 6/30/2015.

Be sure to visit the Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

The BEST Acai Bowl

From the age of 16 through 20 I worked at smoothie businesses. One might think this is where my love of 'healthy living' developed...But when a pizza place next door starts exchanging you breadsticks for smoothie, well...

The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

Also, did you know the majority of smoothie chains make their smoothies with sugary juice and frozen yogurt ice cream? It makes them taste oh so delicious! But it also kind of cancels out the fact that drinking a smoothie is a healthier option.

Does that mean pizza bread sticks could have been a healthier choice?!

I'd like to think so.

The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

Hands down one of my ALL TIME favorite smoothies are Acai bowls, which are becoming quite popular.

(Let it be known that I totally like Acai Bowls before they were cool.)

But unlike so many others, I won't toss my beloved smoothie bowls to the curb when it gets popular. I won't think of it any different even though it has become quite the media whore.

No. I will love them forever. Why? Because when Acai Bowls are tomorrows news and another health craze becomes the star...I'll still be there. Just like I was for Kale.

The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

One smoothie place I worked for used apple juice and strawberry juice with acai ice cream.

Another used almond milk, vanilla ice cream, and acai smoothie packs.

The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

With the knowledge I have and for the love of all things healthy, I came up with is what I think the BEST Acai Bowl ever.

But seriously, what makes them so popular? Besides the looks, it's a great way to make a meal out of a smoothie. You can add fruit, crunchy granola, and a drizzle of funny and eat it all up with a spoon!

It's mad I tell you, MAD. But once you do it, you won't be able to stop thinking about it. Then before you know it, you will dream about it, and then well...

The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

Then you will make an acai bowl i guess.

Or you will drive to the nearest juice bar and have them make it for you because most likely they will know you by name and exactly what you want. So in order to avoid that embarrassment you will have to make it at home sometimes.

You're welcome.

The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

The BEST Acai Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 acai smoothie packs, I found mine at Costco
  • Handful of frozen strawberries and blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • a little bit of non dairy milk-I used cashew or almond
  • (opt. a little bit of apple juice)
  • 1 TB. agave
  • handful of ice
  • Toppings:
  • chopped fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of honey

Instructions

  1. Add all smoothie ingredients into a blender and add a splash or two of liquid (milk and apple juice.) The less milk, the creamier.
  2. Blend until creamy.
  3. Add toppings to smoothie and dig in with a spoon!

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The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish
The BEST Acai Bowl from The Diva Dish

Would I trade this acai bowl for a box full of breadsticks now a days? I mean...No, but I love bread sticks so...halfsies?

Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie + Our Kitchen Before Pictures!

*Need a quick snack for your hungry littles, or even yourself? This Walnut Berry Smoothie is the perfect treat to keep those bellies full!* I've discovered over the past month that there is not only ONE but TWO places near my house that make Acai bowls. You know those smoothie bowls topped with fresh fruit, granola, and a drizzle of honey?

I've been back and forth to both locations because I don't want to embarrass myself with how many acai bowls I'm really eating. Gosh dang...They are just so good.

Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish

Unfortunately a regular bowl is just shy under TEN DOLLARS, and after 4 visits in a week your husband will start to question your insanity. I've tried to make my own acai bowl at home, especially since I used to make them in high school when I worked at a smoothie place...I'm like a pro.

But by the time I go to the grocery store to buy the acai, my kids all of the sudden act like a pack of wild kangaroos raised them, I forgot my list at home, and the store feels like it's 115 inside and I begin to sweat profusely. And then I'm pregnant, so that basically means my mind is a bowl of spaghetti.

NOW do you see husband?!?

Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish

SO, I've been trying to make my own versions at home using what I have on hand LIKE A RESPONSIBLE ADULT...and I recently found a combination that I LOVE.

Smoothies are such a staple in my household, we are basically addicted to them. They are just so quick and you can add whatever you want depending on how you are feeling.

In this case, my girls asked for a pink smoothie, so I did my best and aimed to please.

Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish

Sadly it was purple and they were pissed.

Thank goodness for Princess Sofia the First and her purple obsession!

Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish

Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 c. almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1/3 c. yogurt of choice, I used plain greek yogurt for more protein
  • 1/4 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 1 heaping TB. walnuts
  • 1 heaping TB. chia seeds
  • 1 TB. honey
  • 1/2 c. ice

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy.
  2. Serve immediately.
  3. Optional: Top with your favorite toppings, like fresh fruit, granola, and a drizzle of honey!
  4. Serves 2 littles and one mama (For a snack)

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Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish
Walnut Berry Protein Smoothie from The Diva Dish

This is great as an afternoon snack, bedtime snack, or 'I just need a snack'. You can definitely make this to be like an acai bowl and top with your favorite granola, fruit, and honey! But if your like me, you forgot the granola along with the acai...

Nailed it.

********************************************************************************************

Side note:

We are re-doing our downstairs in our home!! :) (Yes, we are having a baby in two weeks lol!) I know this isn't a DIY blog, but who doesn't love before and afters right?!

We don't have the after just yet, but I do have really crappy before pictures!

Before: kitchen/ The Diva Dish
Before: kitchen/ The Diva Dish

Yup! That's our fridge in our living room!

Before: kitchen/ The Diva Dish
Before: kitchen/ The Diva Dish
Before: kitchen/ The Diva Dish
Before: kitchen/ The Diva Dish

I'm excited to show you the after!

Have a great week!

Strawberry Mint Iced Green Tea

The very first time I tasted an iced tea was a few months ago. True story. I always thought it was weird when people ordered iced tea, because like...It's cold tea. Tea is gross. It taste like watered down leaves. No matter how much honey you add to that tea, it doesn't make it sweeter.However, the only thing that will make it sweet is straight up 6 Tablespoons of sugar...

Or so I thought.

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IMG_7628

If your new to this blog, then I must come out and warn you that I suffer from chronic sugar cravings. Not sure if this is a real disorder, but I think about eating chocolate cake after every meal. With that being said, I try and drink my weight in water to control those cravings. Does it work?

Sometimes.

But an ice cold glass of water would really help that piece of chocolate cake go down a little easier.

So you see, I've been a huge supporter of drinking water. In the past few months though, I've become bored with it. I honestly blame our ice machine, because it has this disability where it can't make crushed ice. The machine says it's on crushed ice mode, but clearly it's confused. It's really put a damper on my water drinking habits.

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IMG_7590

And now that summer has finally approached Las Vegas, I can see myself getting pretty thirsty every 5 minutes.

(I promise this story is going somewhere.)

That's when I was introduced to iced tea. I admit that this sounds weird because I'm basically saying, "OMG guys! There's this new drink out! Have you heard of ICED TEA?!" I promise I'll try and keep up more...

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I loved how it was cold, refreshing, and had a hint of flavor and sweetness.  

Now, the best thing about this recipe is that it's pretty versatile. You can try different herbal teas, different fruits, add citrus, ginger, cucumber, etc. You can leave it in the fridge to have on hand, or it works great for holiday BBQ's and having friends over! I usually let the add ins sit in the tea overnight, and the next day I take them out.

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IMG_7618

Dare I say I'm about to start a new trend called "Iced Tea?" Think about it my friends...It could get popular.

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IMG_7619

Strawberry Mint Iced Green Tea

Ingredients

  • 5 Green Tea Bags-Mine had a hint of orange in it
  • water
  • 1/4 c. raw honey- or another preferred sweetener
  • strawberries-handful
  • handful of mint leaves, ripped into medium pieces

Instructions

  1. Fill a small pot with water. Add in the honey. (If using another sweetener like stevia, just add that in at the end.)
  2. Bring the pot to a boil over the stove.
  3. Remove from heat, add the tea bags, and cover. Let the tea sit for at least 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the tea bags and add the tea to a pitcher. Add cold water to the pitcher. Fill up 3/4 of the way full.
  5. Add in diced strawberries and ripped mint leaves. Stir until combined. The amount of water, strawberries, and mint will depend on the size of your pitcher.
  6. Put the pitcher in the fridge and let it set for at least an hour so the flavors come together. Serve over a lot of crushed ice. Others can sweeten the tea more if desired.

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You heard it here first folks! Next week I'll be talking all about this new foodie find called...Kale. I swear, it's the next big thing!

The Best Way To Start Your Morning!

  I almost feel silly about posting the following 'recipe', because to some it might seem kind of like, "Well Duh!"

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IMG_5978

I realized though that this 'idea' wasn't always a 'DUH' thought for me, but more of like a, "Eh, who cares?"

Make sense?

Without trying to sound like an email in your spam inbox, the following is something that has truly helped me loose weight and keep it off. Sadly, I only recently discovered this a few months ago, because like I said before, this didn't seem like THAT big of a deal.

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IMG_5970

Every morning I've started drinking lemon water. Duh right? We've all heard how starting the day off with Lemon water can boost your metabolism and do many other things, but for some reason I never did it.

A few months ago I caught a nasty cold/flu bug and my throat was KILLING me! I starting drinking warm lemon tea every morning, noon, and night. I noticed that my cravings for, well chocolate (because that's ALL I crave), were minimal and I wasn't always reaching for something 'sweet'. I've learned that sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are really thirsty. But I've always just put carbs & chocolate  in my mouth because I.Love.Food.

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IMG_5987

This was a life changer for me, despite how 'little' this really is.

SO, what do you do? I fill up a large pitcher in my fridge with lemon slices, juice of a few lemons, and water. I leave it in my fridge and pour myself a glass in the morning. (Sometimes I heat it up, and sometimes I don't.) Then through out the day I'll drink regular water, but if I notice I'm craving something sweet or like a Ding Dong, I pour a glass.

If I really want something sweet, like a Twinkie, I'll add a few drops of liquid stevia to my class. I don't know why, but I really look forward to drinking it sweet. I've been having it as I watch my nightly trash tv...

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You can add many other things like mint leaves, cucumbers, fruit cubes, etc., but right now I'm loving just lemons.

It's small and simple changes like these that make a difference in living a healthier lifestyle, honestly.

(But don't worry. I still eat chocolate.Every day.)

Healthy On-the-Go Snacks: Kid & Baby Mama Friendly

Snack foods can be a mama's life saver.

Either because that mama is 7 months pregnant and every 30 minutes it's like she hasn't eaten in 13 years...

OR because, that mama is out at the park, taking a jog, running errands, or driving to a farther destination with a hungry child.

Hungry child=No fun.

A lot of times mom's always ask me what healthy food items I pack in my diaper bag when I am out for a day on the go. It's easy to throw in a bag of chips, packaged granola bars, cheese crackers, or fruit rollups, but obviously those aren't always the best options.

A lot of times when it comes to making choices for eating and children, parents love options that are fast, quick, and easy, and a lot of times we forget about those snacks being healthy and nutritious.

And no...I'm not talking about cheez-its made with whole grain.

Sorry hubby, that's not considered a health food.

Luckily with a little (yes just a little) planning, you can have hearty, natural, and healthy snacks ready for on the go runs whenever you need them!

Let's begin shall we!

1. No Bake Cookie Balls

I love love love raw cookie balls, or protein balls. It's basically a blend of nuts/nut butters, dates, coconut, cocoa powder, seeds, sweetener, oats, etc. Basically the combinations are endless and I consider them to be almost like a dessert.

When I make them I usually grind most of the ingredients really fine, (like the nuts), so Baby Boo can enjoy them with her little baby teeth! It's a treat any child will love! Imagine...Here baby, have a chocolate cookie ball!

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Basic No Bake Cookie Balls

Ingredients:

1/2 c. cashews

1/2 c. walnuts

1/2 c. scant raw cocoa powder

1/2 c. almond butter

1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 c. oats

1/4 c. cocoa nibs

1/2 c. dried apricots (Organic)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. honey (scant)

1/4 c. maple syrup (scant)

Directions:

1. Using a food processor, blend nuts until fine and crumbly. Add the rest of the ingredients until well combined and the mixture is fine and can be formed into balls. Roll into 1 inch balls and store in the fridge or freezer and grab one when hungry!

Other cookie ball recipes:

Fudge Balls

Peanut Butter Balls

Citrus Cookie Dough Balls (Optional on the citrus part)

S'mores Balls (Top recipe on the blog!)

Store Bough Options: Larabars

2. Mini Sandwiches

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If I have time in the morning I'll make a quick nut butter and jelly sandwich and cut it up for Boo to have as a snack later when we are out and about. Don't limit yourself to PB&J though, try hummus and cheese or hummus mixed with thinly cut veggies like cucumbers or tomatoes.

3. Raw Veggies

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Every mom in the world might be laughing at me right now thinking that a piece of broccoli would qualify as a 'snack' to their toddler.

I understand it's different, but start your kids young on loving raw veggies (with fun dips), and pretty soon they won't mind munching a carrot in the stroller. You can also try cucumber slices, baby tomatoes chopped, celery with nut butters and etc...If you are able to, you can also pack a side cup of dip like hummus!

4. Fruits

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When it comes to fruits the options are never ending.

Banana, apples, plums, pineapple, watermelon, berries, oranges, etc. Pack them pre-chopped, (and the skin off if necessary), in a to-go bag or container with an ice pack to keep them cool and refreshing!

5. Pre-made Baked Goods (Healthy/Natural/Homemade)

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Pictured above: Chocolate Protein Breakfast Cake Bars

Usually once a week I bake some sort of muffin/cookie/sweet bread etc. I usually put half in the freezer for a quick treat in the future, and save the rest for snack time and on-the-go. The baked goods I pack are usually whole grain and made with natural ingredients and sweeteners.

Other options for healthy on-the-go baked goods:

Date Muffins

Grain Free/Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Single Serving)

Cranberry Orange Loaf

Sugar Free Whole Wheat Banana Spice Muffins

Chocolate Chip Bean Cookies

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6. Store Bought Items:

As much as I love food and treats made at home, I'm also a realist and I know that sometimes I'm not By Golly Miss Molly whose been baking away in my kitchen all week. After all, I've got story books to read, tea parties to have, and forts to build!

My advice for purchased goods is this: shop natural, whole, and sometimes organic when it comes to buying snacks. Make sure you can read  and understand the ingredients and know what each one is.

Remember, organic Oreos are still...Oreos. :)

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Pictured above: Peanut Butter Green Bars.

Despite that the picture above looks like marijuana granola bars, they are these insanely delicious PB bars that are sold at our local farmers market. (My husband even loves them!) Every time I go by I stock up and buy a bunch because they go fast! I show these because I think it's great to take advantage of local markets and companies that sell natural and whole foods/snacks. They come in handy for those days where you don't have time to cook/cut/and prepare, and you just want something ready to go.

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Another snack we love are these applesauce packets. Baby Boo LOOOVES them! Sometimes you can buy them with veggies in them too, which is great! These can be a little pricey, so if I buy them I usually get them at Costco. Despite the price, I always buy them because they are such a yummy quick snack grab!

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As for crackers and things, I aim for products that are whole wheat and minimally processed. Here are a few of our salty favorites:

Pretzels

Kale Chips

Popcorn

Pita Chips

Crackers (Simple ingredients)

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Dried fruits are another favorite in our household. The freeze dried ones have a crispy/crunchy taste, which some kids love!

Other options include, but aren't limited too:

Dates

Appricots

Raisins

Craisins

Banana chips (Roasted)

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Last but not least, drinks.

I usually always have a water bottle, but sometimes Baby Boo loves other options. Who am I kidding, if I pulled out a cup of chocolate milk she'd be in heaven!

Here are out favorite drink options:

Coconut Water

Flavored Coconut Water

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So remember, whether your headed to Target to spend $100 or a fun day at the beach, there are always healthy options to have ready and on-the-go when you need them.

And when in doubt, chocolate is ALWAYS an acceptable snack :)!

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All about Green Drinks 101

**Update:  I have had a lot of questions regarding the type of blender I use to make green smoothies. I've always used a Vitamix. Click HERE to see the Vitamix. If that one is too pricey, I've also successfully used my Magic Bullet Blender for years, link HERE ."** (affiliate links)

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The thought of eating vegetables can be gag-worthy to some...

But the idea of DRINKING your vegetables can sound just down right repulsive.

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If you would have asked me 5 years ago to drink a green smoothie I would have laughed in your face than had nightmares for 6 months after that. They are down right scary.

Oddly enough, not only do I now eat my veggies, but I drink tons of them too. Trust me. I gots me lots a friends....(And good Engrish too...)

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And if somebody asked me what is ONE thing they could do differently to adapt a healthier eating lifestyle, I would beg them to drink a green smoothie everyday. It's the one thing that I believe can have a major impact on your diet and change the way you feel.

But what exactly are the benefits of drinking green?

Improved digestive system

Better energy

Opportunity to give your body nutrients it most likely wouldn't receive on a regular basis

Being able to eat raw veggies(w/o a cup of ranch dressing on the side.)

-Weight loss

-Fight off sickness

-Sleep improvement

-Rid your body of toxins

-Essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals

-Helps your kids (and hubby's!) get their veggies

-Fast to make AND healthy!

The list goes on and on....

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But sometimes the benefits are not enough to convince somebody to drink green. Sure it's good for you, but is it really worth stomaching something that can taste so freak nastay?

That's where your wrong my friends...Because I am here to tell you I have never tried a green drink I didn't like.(And trust me...I've had my fair share of green drink varieties.) With the right ingredients, knowledge, and helpful perks, green drinks can taste more like a regular smoothie(even a dessert one) without even noticing the hint of any vegetables!

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First, let's start with the veggies:

Spinach is an obvious choice when it comes to drinking greens. It's a very mild tasting green, so a lot of people love to use it. On top of that, it's a familiar ingredient. People are scared of it, but not too scared since they know a little bit about it. I think spinach is a GREAT green to add in smoothies, but I think sometimes we get stuck in a rut of ONLY using spinach. There are SO many other veggies out there that have different types of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies need.

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Here are my favorite veggies to use as of right now:

Spinach

Kale (no stems, just leaves. Stems are stanky!)

Rainbow and Green Chard

Collard Greens

Dandelion Greens (Just a little, it can tend to me strong)

Mustard Greens (just a little, it kind of has a kick.)

Cucumbers

Carrots

Beets

Avocados

Pumpkin Puree

*Remember to wash your greens to get rid of dirt and yucky stuff! (Yes, I said yucky. So professional.)

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And to store greens properly, I just wash them, dry, and then put them in labeled zip lock bags with a paper towel.

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Perfect for portioning sizes for smoothies and what not!

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Next Step: Add your fruit!

Veggies aren't the only thing that you can add to your green drink. I especially love adding fruit!

Fruit is a great way to add a natural sweetness to your drink, giving it a 'smoothie' like taste, and hiding the taste of some of those veggies. Not too mention fruit is another great way to get in some extra goodness like antioxidants and fiber!

Here is some of my top fruits to add in smoothies. And fruit will do, it just depends on your liking. For more tropical flavors choose things like mangos, oranges, pineapples, etc...

Bananas (GREAT sweetener! Also does well hiding those veggies!)

Cherries

Strawberries

Blueberries

Blackberries

Raspberries

Mangos

Pears

Pineapples

Peaches

Orange Juice (Fresh squeezed)

Pomegranates

Grapes

Apples

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Next, give that smoothie some VA VA- VOOM!

Here is where you can go above and beyond a strawberry banana smoothie, and move onto a sweet almond cherry coconut bliss smoothie. The world is your...green drink? That made no sense, but are you catching my drift? There are many little things we can add to our green drinks to give them that extra flair that will make them more desirable to drink. No one ever said no to a chocolate PB drink! And if they did, well then...I'm speechless. :-)

Here are some things to add to those green drinks to give them some extra OOMPH!

Nut Butters (Almond Butter, Peanut Butter, Walnut Butter, Sunflower Butter...etc. Great source of protein and healthy fats!)

Nuts (Don't have the butta', then just throw in a few nuts!)

Cocoa Powder (Chocolate...Heck yes!)

Carob Powder

Oatmeal (Bring on the hearty breakfast grains!)

Almond Extract

Vanilla Extract

Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

Mint Leaves

Basil Leaves

Coconut Milk

Orange Juice (If you combine coconut milk and Oj, you get a creamsicle taste!)

Cocoa nibs

Dark chocolate chips

PB pong balls or Fudge Balls or S'more Balls

Apple Butter

Pumpkin Butter

Lemon, Lime

Ginger

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Don't forget those added bonus:

Every green drink needs those few added bonuses that will boost their nutrient value even more!

Here are my favorite little added bonuses:

Chia Seeds

Ground Flax seeds

Protein Powder (I love to use a plant based protein powder. My favorite brand is Sun Warrior!)

Choice of Liquid (whether it be non dairy milk, reg. milk, water, etc.)

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Lastly if needed, add a sweetener.

I've gotten to the point where I don't usually need a sweetener, especially if I have loaded it with fruit. But the more stronger tasting veggies like beets, I tend to add a little bit to sweeten the drink to my liking.

Here are my favorite go-to natural sweeteners:

100% Pure Maple Syrup

Agave Nectar

Raw Honey

Dates

Stevia

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So where to begin?

Start simple. Add ingredients you are familiar with, and slowly each time add in different things to get used to. You will adjust smoothies to your taste buds preferences, and in time find what is right for you!

Here are a few recipes to get you started!

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 Beginners Green Drink

1 C. non diary milk

2 C. spinach

1 frozen banana

1 TB. Chia Seeds

1 tsp. Sweetener of choice

1tsp. vanilla

Ice

Optional: Peanut Butter

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 Tropical Cream Green Drink

1/2 C. fresh OJ

1/2 C.-1 C. coconut milk

1 C. spinach

1 C. kale

1 frozen banana

1/2 c. frozen pineapple, mango, or peaches

1 tsp. vanilla

2 TB. coconut flakes

ice

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Red Velvet Smoothie

1 C. non dairy milk

1 medium beet peeled, steamed, and chopped

1/3 c. frozen raspberries, cherries, or strawberries

1 frozen banana

4 TB. cocoa powder

4 pitted dates

1 TB. chia seeds

2 tsp. sweetener of choice

1 tsp. vanilla

ice

PICTURE

Green Smoothies are great for breakfast! Baby Boo has one pretty much every morning, it's her favorite thing to have!

Here is a typical smoothie for Boo. It's loaded with healthy fats, protein, greens, and tons of vitamins and minerals!!

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Princess Bliss Avocado Green Smoothie

1 C. milk of choice (I used coconut-from a carton, not a can.)

1 frozen banana

1/2 frozen avocado

1/2 c. kale

1/4 c. oats

1/4 c. vanilla yogurt (soy or reg.)

1 TB. Chia seeds

1 TB. almond butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 TB. maple syrup (Boo really doesn't need a sweetener because she can't tell the difference, but for older kids you could add a little more than 1 TB.)

ice

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Then this morning for breakfast the three of us split this smoothie:

My husband said it was the BEST smoothie he has ever had...And trust me, those words don't always come out of his mouth...

SHOCKER! :-)

Chocolatey Chocolate Green Smoothie

1 c. milk of choice

handful spinach

handful kale

handful chard

1/4 c. dandelion greens (just the leaves)

1 frozen banana

handful frozen cherries

4 spoonfuls cocoa powder

2 TB. almond butter

1 TB. chia seeds

2 TB. agave nectar

2 c. ice

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A lot of times I make more than enough smoothie, so I just freeze the extra in an ice cube tray and use them for another day! That way, when I am in a hurry I just throw some in a blender with some milk and voila!

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Whew! That was a LONG post! Don't be afraid to try a green drink! If anything, you won't regret the way it will make you feel on a regular basis. :-)

For additional recipes, just go to my recipes tab underneath the header and click on green drinks!

Have a great day!! :-)