Lara (Bridal Bootcamp) Bars

I am currently sitting on an Amtrak train trying to distract myself from watching the minutes pass on the clock as I get closer and closer to the beginning of a weekend filled with family, friends and fun in the hometown and VA!

Let’s bring the focus of this post to my Saturday and the inspiration for my recipe of the week.

I’ve got a pretty lil former teammate and roommate who’s gettin’ hitched this summer! I was fortunate enough to be honored with the request to be in her wedding party and… SHE SAID YES!!! (She being me… yes, of course I said yes!) and this weekend I’ll be making my way to VA for her bridal shower!

I’d been racking my brian trying to think of the perfect gift. You know the one… the gift that so clearly represents you and the gift receiver’s friendship. Something sentimental, with the right amount of practicality. And standing in the check-out line at the grocery store it hit me… Lara bars!

…What?

Lara Bar

Lara Bars!

Okay, okay… Let me explain. It’s safe to say that being on a field hockey team for four years together the girl and I have bonded over our fair share of healthy habit tips and struggle discussions. You know what else we’ve bonded over? FOOD. She and I got our grub ON. In college, I often cooked little family dinners for her and her hubby-to-be and other friends and roommates. She would often stand in the kitchen while I was preparing the meals so she could later try out my recipes. Aaaaand I would often stand in the kitchen as she pulled rock hard brownies out of the oven and try to bite back my laughter. Okay, fine, that happened once, but I knew I wanted to supply her with a treat and recipe to carry with her into her marriage.

Keeping conscious of my inability to keep my fingers out of the batter bowl when baking and her own fitness goals for the wedding I wanted to make something both healthy, sweet, and satisfying. So I went with the Lara Bars… an added bonus that there’s something in the name!

I looked through a couple different recipes for homemade energy bars and in the end decided to go with my own recipe… Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. They turned out better than I could have imagined – I even did a little custom wrapping to provide my signature touch! See the recipe below.

What do I need?

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup almonds (or nut of your choice)
  • 2 tbs PB2 (could use peanut butter here as well)
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate and “chipped” it myself)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Lara Bar Ingredients

And then…?

Start by adding the almonds to your food processor. Process until the nuts are about the size of peas. Next, you want to remove the nuts and pulse the dates in the food processor. Give these a good 15 second processing.

After it looks like you’ve hit them all you want to add the nuts back into the processor and the additional flavoring (in this case PB2, water, chocolate chips and vanilla extract). Blend until everything is mixed evenly (see below).

processor

The ingredients should be mixed enough where you could grad with a hand and make a ball. Once you’ve achieved this consistency, take what is in the food processor and roll it out onto a piece of wax paper. Pop it in the fridge overnight and slice in the morning! I cut mine into 6 rectangles (about the size of chewy bars) but you’re free to cut them as big or small as you’d like!

That’s it?

That’s it! Simple as that. I ended up making some custom packaging to add a signature touch for my bride to be using wax paper and some tissue. I had a chance to sample the bars as my perfectionist counterpart trimmed the edges and they were delicious – can’t wait to see her reaction! I’m going to have to make a couple of these to keep in my kitchen as a healthy grab and go treat!

Bridal Bootcamp Bars

I have blurred the packaging for privacy of the bride.

What are your favorite homemade grab and go treats?

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Tapping into our Stressors

Well here we are day two into my challenge and I’m already feanin to share one of my reflection pieces.  (That is correct, I just used feanin in a sentence.)

So Monday morning I was fortunate enough to stumble across a link for Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles conference.  I mean how perfect is it that on the day I challenge myself to be more reflective and connect with my own thoughts I come across this free motivational web series?  Took me back to that Swiss Miss quote,

“When things fall into place it is the universe telling you to keep going.”

Gabrielle Bernstein was pinned by none-other than Oprah Winfrey as a “next generation thought leader.”  Author of Spirit Junkie and Add More ~ing to your Life she is set to release her new book, May Cause Miracles this year.  “Gabrielle Bernstein believes that simple, consistent shifts in our thinking and actions can lead to the miraculous in all aspects of our daily lives, including our relationships, finances, bodies, and self-image.”  I mean seriously? This chick rocks.

But you might be surprised to know, Gabrielle isn’t the highlight for tonight’s post.

Meet Nick Ortner.

Nick was the first interview that I listened to from the May Cause Miracles series.  He is the CEO of The Tapping Solution and focuses on EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).  This practice involves tapping parts of your body to achieve a physical release of negative emotions.  Now I’ll admit, I found the whole thing a little funny to begin with but once I got to listening and furthered my research I think there’s somethin to it!

I remembered what I would always say to people when I could sense their stress or anger bubbling, “tap your third-eye 21 times!” I think I picked it up from a Kardashian show or something.  I used to think this exercise was just a calming alternative to counting to ten before you speak.  When counting to calm yourself, you run the risk of staying inside your head (which can be a cluttered and negative place to be) or masking the real problem (leaving the true issue to surface unannounced).  Unlike the counting method, tapping provides connection between your mind and your body so you are able to acknowledge and release your true negative feelings.

This whole “real world” thing has me well exercised in dealing with stress.  I’m always looking for new ways to manage it and create that healthy balance in my life.  Maybe next time I’m feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or stressed I’ll try and tap it out!

Tell me, how do you deal with stress?

B (not so) Easy 6-Week Challenge

I began writing this blog at a time when I felt like I was missing motivation in all aspects of my life. I found myself just going through the motions without connecting thought to any of my actions.

I kept finding myself frustrated with how nothing was changing. There were no significant changes in my health, no rediscovered enthusiasm from my job, no profound educational or eyeopening experience to write home about… I was mindlessly coasting.

I imagine it’s easy to fall into this trap. It was for me. But no more!

Being “good enough” provided me the security to hang out for a little while. But when pieces started to fall from “good” to “fine,” good no longer felt good enough and fine didn’t feel so fine.

“The good is the enemy of great.” -Milton Glaser Well here I am challenging myself to be great.

I’m on an ongoing quest to better myself and establish healthy habits for life. Well talking about these habits and daydreaming about the effect they could have on my mind, body, and overall happiness won’t do me any good if I don’t consciously practice them. So I’ve set up a little challenge for myself for the next six weeks, feel free to join along!

The B (not so) Easy 6 Week Challenge

Basic rules for the challenge:

  • No wheat for the full 6 weeks
  • Must try a new recipe weekly
  • Must eat a salad daily (can be a quinoa or grain based but must include raw veggies)
  • Must be active for 30 minutes daily (yes, every day! “rest day” activities can be a 30 min. walk or yoga, just get movin!)
  • Must stretch every day!
  • Must read and reflect daily (can be an article, a quote, a chapter in a book, just exercise your mind and connect with your thoughts in writing)

At the start of each week I will introduce a physical or nutritional challenge or provide direction for my daily reads and post a reflection on the blog.  So here goes, week 1 starts now!

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B easy’s Burgers

Last night a few friends from high school came over for dinner.  As I mentioned before, I’d been trying to figure out just what I wanted to make that would be a crowd pleaser and relatively easy.  Feeling nostalgic for high school tailgates and late night fast food runs (when my metabolism could support it) I opted for burgers!

Being as I’m trying to keep healthy, I went with my own personal recipe to trick these boys into eating their veggies and keep me from feeling like I strayed too far from my goals.  Follow below to see what I did!

What do you need?

1 package ground turkey (roughly 1 lb)
1/2 zucchini squash
1/2 yellow squash
1/4 cup of mushrooms
1 egg white
Mrs. Dash seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)
1/2 avocado
1 tomato
Cheese of choice (we used munster and cheddar)
5 Hamburger buns
OR the wheat free option? Bib lettuce 

 Where do I start?

Begin by mincing the vegetables into small cubes.

Chopped Veg

You may allow your expert chopper to take the blade on this step. In my case, my sue chef and roommate, Samantha did the chopping while I prepped our side salad and potatoes.


Next, take a large mixing bowl and place the meat on the bottom.  Add in the chopped vegetables, egg white, and dry seasoning.

I added fresh basil to the mix this round, get creative with your seasoning!

I added fresh basil to the mix this round, get creative with your seasoning!

Now for the fun part!

Get your hands dirty and mix the ingredients in the bowl together.  Knead the meat to collect all of the vegetables and distribute seasoning evenly, add as you go if necessary.

Once everything is mixed together, you can start making your patties.  One package of ground turkey should make about five 4 oz burgers.

Bring the heat!

Spray your skillet with cooking spray and place your patties on the stove.

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Cook at medium heat.  I cover the pan with tin foil to ensure that the meat cooks all the way through and flip the burgers when they start to brown.

Once both sides of the burger are browned, I begin to toast the buns and add the cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt while you slice tomatoes and avocado to top the burgers.

Plate and serve!

wheat free!

Because I’m not eating wheat, I ate my burger on a slice of bib lettuce and made myself a lettuce wrap – it stayed together surprisingly well!

We served our burgers with a side of garlic roasted potatoes and a salad.

We digested during a couple friendly rounds of Boggle before we moved on to homemade chocolate and banana milkshakes.

Not a bad way to attack a Monday!

What are your favorite burger toppings?  How do you like to set the tone for the rest of the week?  Comment below!

This indecision has got me cringin…

Story of my life.

After experimenting with roughly twenty different blog templates only three posts deep I figured it was time I acknowledge my indecisiveness.  Yet another thing I’m working to limit… call it another healthy habit!

Know what you want and put it out there.  

My dad jokes on me because “I don’t care” comes out of my mouth far too frequently.  I recently heard someone say that life is made up of a “sum of choices.”  The words made me ask myself, “Would you rather live a life of choices or reactions?”

Choices.

Indecision can add unnecessary stress … something I’d rather not welcome and can be related to lack of self confidence… something I’d rather not lack!  So starting with tonight’s menu (which I’ve been mulling over and asking for help with since yesterday) I will begin taking ownership of my choices.

Who’s with me?!

And just for fun, I’ve included the song where the title of this post comes from!

Wannabe Yogi

Way back when I used to be flexible…

splits

Let’s just say those days are gone with my velvet leotards.

Flexibility is something as an athlete I’ve always been encouraged to have.  While there are several debates about the need to stretch, in my experience it’s always been beneficial to have loose legs for running and playing high intensity sports.  That said, I never stretch as often as I should.

Yoga is a world that I had never really explored until my move to New York.  The first time I stepped foot inside a yoga studio I felt way out of my league.  I left feeling challenged, refreshed, and knew I had a lot of work to do before I could effortlessly swing my leg from the back to the front of my mat as the bendy lady next to me did.

I’m embracing yoga practice as one of the healthy habits I hope to lock in for life.

Lucky for me, living in New York means I can take advantage of the donation based organization Yoga to the People.  There is a “free” studio within walking distance from my apartment and a new studio just opened up on my street where for five bucks I can Flow into Flexibility (the name of a class my roommate and I explored yesterday afternoon).

Now believe me, I’ve got a waaaaays to go but I know that’s why it’s called practice!

There’s something I find so cool about yogis.  They just seem to project this energy, don’t they?  And they’re so connected and kind to their bodies… something I can’t relate to as I have a bruise  plum purple on my knee cap from slipping and falling in the street the other day.  There’s a balance they are able to find in their practice and carry to their lifestyle that I struggle to attain.  Also, they have the coolest clothes… I mean really.

Hopefully I find this balance as I strive to bend and better (not break) my body.

My feature for this post is Rachel Brathen.  If you aren’t already following her on instagram, check her out:  yoga_girl

Yeah... sure, I'll try.

Yeah… sure, I’ll try.

Thing Currently Making Me Happy!

I’d like to flatter the ol’ bloggers tradition of posting “Things Currently Making Me Happy!”  So here goes!

1.  Tina Roth Eisenberg

I recently attended a design forum featuring Swiss Miss herself where she delivered an inspiring speech unveiling her “Eleven Rules I Live By.”  I hope to digest the experience and do a much longer post but for now, I’ll let you discover her on your own and leave you with my two greatest take aways:

“Invest your life in what you love, keep looking for what makes you happy!”

“When things fall into place it is the universe telling you to keep going.”

2.  Leaving the office after receiving this text from the roomie:

…then walking in to find this waiting for you

Cheese Plate!

3.  This immersion Blender!

Smoothies, pestos, dressings, cauliflower pizzas… and that’s only in the first week!  I don’t know that i’ve ever been this excited about an appliance.

Everyone’s gotta eat and I love being able to bring people together and make something that everyone can enjoy!

My roommate and I recently began a wheat-free diet, something I’ll elaborate on in later posts, but I have a feeling this blender will be a lifesaver in allowing us to recreate some of our favorite meals minus the wheat!

4.  Committing to a long term relationship with… my health!

In addition to giving up wheat from my diet, I’ve also decided to begin work with a personal trainer.

I grew up in a family of athletes and played field hockey and lacrosse in high school and went on to play DI field hockey at Radford University.  Saints LaxIMG_0303

It was a challenging four years and kicked my ass a little bit but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  After graduating, my body was pretty beat up and I was enjoying not “having” to work out so I took a little break from the gym.

Now that I’m over a year out I’m realizing how important health is to sustain.  Seeing my grandfather in his 80’s still playing tennis was a huge eye opener for me.  I want to be able to hang with the best of ’em when I’m older as well.  So I’m working with a trainer to help lock in these healthy habits for life.

Receiving texts like this from my mom help me know I’ve made a good decision!

Texts from Mama

5. This cake

Bay's Cakes

Last weekend my best friend from home made this rad birthday cake  for a friend’s birthday and through the power of social media got a request to bake another!   You heard it here first, Bay’s Cakes are fireworks of flavor! I mean who wouldn’t want a rainbow gagillion layered cake for their birthday?  So happy for her!

6.  This video… because she’s just too cute

Hey, I’d be concerned with what I was wearing before firemen showed up at my door too!

7.  And this video… because he’s just too awesome 

If I could sing… I swear you’d never hear me speak.  Welcome to my musical!

8.  Friday night’s in

Sushi night

…with sushi and my roomie!

9.  My baby sister celebrating her 18th Birthday!

Little bear

baby sis

10.  This blog.

I’m happy I’ve finally taken the plunge!  I’m excited to see where this takes me 🙂

So I was thinking and…

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Hi there and welcome to (B) Easy Does it!

I’ve decide to take the plunge and see if I can tackle yet another form of social media!  Of the many words that might be used to describe me, social media addict is a difficult one to argue.  I typically try to hold out as long as I can before diving into the latest and greatest of media platforms but I’m thinking now is the perfect time to hop on the blog wagon!

I have been out in the “real world” for just over a year and a half now (insert shrieking sound effect!) and I can say with confidence that it is every bit as terrifying as they say it is.

Now, now, before you jump on me and try to argue my statement let me explain!

Up until this point I have had a good idea of what was next or at least a general understanding of how things were “supposed” to look…

You go to elementary school for six years, followed by three years of middle school, then four years of high school, next in my world, you go to college and then…

I didn’t quite know what was “supposed” to come next.

I am slowly but surely learning that it’s okay not to know.  It is an equally alarming and comforting thing to hear, “that’s what your twenties are about!”

I’m a thinker… a talker, a dreamer, a tweeter, a doodler and I’ve been going in circles for the past year trying to figure out just what is next for me.  My goal of this platform is to commit to a little “me time” to filter through the thoughts, images, people, articles, and experiences that cloud my mind day  to day in order to figure out where my passions lie… and see where it can take me!

So join me as I think and think and think to try and figure out this “real world” and where I might fit into it.

Thanks for stoppin by!