paleo berry “cheesecake” bars

4 day weekend? Yes, please.

This 4th I celebrated with a few friends in the city, enjoying the summer sun and the views from the top.

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The rooftop pool area was sprinkled with people awaiting the grand firework show. Minneapolites are crazy about their fireworks. Well, I’m sure every city is, but on this particular fourth there were people congregating everywhere, hours and hours before the main event. We were lucky enough to enjoy a warm, breezy, and clear night.

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Rewind about 4 hours and I was in the kitchen prepping a tasty dessert concoction, reminiscent of strawberry cheesecake. Equipped with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and a hellavua lot of coconut mana and raw honey, this patriotic treat is the paleo diet’s dream dessert.

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{recipe adapted from paleo cupboard}

Paleo Berry “Cheesecake” Bars

– 1 cup coconut cream concentrate
– 1/4 cup raw honey
– 1/2 cup fresh/frozen blueberries
– 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
– 1 medium ripe banana
– 5 fresh/frozen strawberries
– flat baking dish

Directions:
1. Place the coconut cream concentrate and the raw honey in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow to melt (about 2-3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
2. Add 1/3 of the coconut  cream mixture to the food processor and add the blueberries and lemon juice. Blend until well mixed, then pour into flat baking dish.
3. Rinse the food processor and then add half of the remaining coconut cream mixture. Add the banana and blend until well mixed–add to baking dish.
4. Rinse the food processor and then add the remaining coconut cream mixture. Add the strawberries and blend until well mixed. Add to baking dish.
5. Place in the freezer to set for about 2 hours. Ready to eat frozen or thawed for a few minutes!

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Try serving this at your next gathering and see if you can fool your friends about this dairy-free dessert. It didn’t fool mine, but, maybe next time. Trial runs are tricky.

Cheers to the 4-day weekend, y’all.

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yoga sol

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Yoga’s a practice that can be done anywhere right? In your room, next to a lake, or…nestled next cheek-to-cheek with a dozen, sweaty, middle-aged men. The problem is that most people have is shoving out $100 for a month’s yoga membership, which, being a college student, I can definitely not blame them for.

Enter: Yoga Sol, NE Minneapolis’ own donation-based yoga studio. Equipped with the necessities: a cubby unit for your tevas and infamous ugg boots, a long and narrow-ish stdio floor, and a facing floor-to-ceiling mirror. This studio is tucked away and you could almost miss it, which is a shame, because the cost? Whatever you can afford that day. Amazing.

I frequented YS’ open house last week, and was pleasantly surprised with the split Vinyasa/Yoga Sculpt class I took. The atmosphere was calm but energizing, spirited but relaxed, and comfortable but challenging. To top it off, I was treated with the bliss of incense during savasana, which most other yoga classes I attend fail to miss that very small, but effective final component.

If you’re in the area, definitely check out Yoga Sol. $10 donation suggestion per class.

21 5th Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

http://www.yoga-sol.com

Flax + Mood Booster

Flax seed to the rescue! Since I was in high school I have been topping my oatmeal, yogurt + granola, and cereal with milled flax seed, simply out of habit. I knew that the Omega-3’s it packed were good for…something, but I wasn’t quite sure exactly what. This morning I was reading this article about foods that 20-something women should be eating and it mentioned that flax seed can ward off depression.

Cool, right?

Buy eating 1 tablespoon of flax seed a day,the fatty acids improves the operation of the cerebral cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for pleasure signals. Think you can’t stomach flax seed? Think again. There are a variety of ways flax seeds can come packaged, either whole or milled (which is my favorite), and it’s available at most grocery-retailers. Try topping your cereal, oats, smoothie or shake with this nutty mixture and you might notice a difference in the spring in your step! You can find out more of the health benefits of flax seed here.

 

 

Aveda Invati

Aveda, oh Aveda. Its signature smell alone has me thinking of peaceful summer days and blissful dreams, so it’s no wonder that I am obsessed with all things Aveda. All of the products are powered by plant and flower essences and pure essential oils, which makes it a perfect addition to a natural skin care/beauty routine. I’m lucky enough to live a block away from my local Aveda Institute, where I happened to stock up on a few products one day. My favorite pick of the bunch was the Pure Abundance Volumizing Hair Spray. Seriously, two spritzes of this, a few teases, and you are set for a night out on the town.

Being a member of Aveda’s Pure Priveledge as well as a Real Simple magazine, I was given access to a sample of the new Invati shampoo/conditioner duo. Right away, the smell out of the packaging had me. I used a dab of the shampoo and conditioner the other day and while the results aren’t extremely noticable, I do feel more of a spring in my hair, along with added luxurious-ness. I do use Aveda products exclusively for my color treated hair, so I was already in love with the smell. Overall, I was pleased with the Invati shampoo/conditioner duo and would consider this line, but only once I was completely out of my Color Conserve system.

25,000 Mornings

Farm Lake, Ely, MN - August 2011, 5:45am

Last night I was watching my nightly House Hunters episode with a glass of herbal tea when a familiar commercial came on, and my mind wavered out a bit. Then I heard Tim Allen’s calm and true phrase, “We only get 25,000 mornings…spend one of them in Michigan.” Only 25,000 mornings? Seriously? He must have done his math wrong. Because if he had did it right (assuming you live until the age of 68), at the age of 20, I’ve already experienced roughly 7,000 mornings.

Only 18,000 mornings left, if I’m lucky.

This number packs a heavy punch. Yes, we hear it time and time again to “live like you’re dying”, but when you actually put your life-span into a tangible number, the impact is resounding. As much as we try, we cannot control life. Things happen. A seemingly harmless freckle can become an intangible disease. Cars swerve on ice. Lumps turn into stage-4 cancers. Stress ruptures the mind and the body. Our fuel everyday slowly becomes our utmost enemy and murderer. It may seem natural to lash out in anger, rage, and confusion in these instances, but we truly are incredibly fortunate and lucky to be alive at this very moment, with disease and misfortune or not. Think of those that do not have that luxury anymore.

Take a breathe in. Breath out. Feels good, right? Wherever you are, whether the spring breeze is lavishly tickling your toes or your back as been pressed against a work chair for the past 6 hours, take refuge in the fact that you’re actually experiencing these sensations. You’re here, reading this post either at work, your morning commute, or at home between projects, and that…is fabulous. Your life is present, real, and true. And it’s up to you to make it worth it. Every single day. Treat your body right. Go for a jog. Laugh. Take an acting class. Master the perfect soufflé. Whatever it is that makes you tick, simply do it.

Every life is special. Every life is unique. But a life that is lived passively, is not worth living at all.

Let’s take advantage of the good days, of everyday.

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” – Emily Dickinson

Body + Motion

This past weekend the weather was gorgeous, and after a couple of minutes with my psych book in front of my nose, I knew it was already time for a break. You know that feeling when you just know you’re not going to get any work done that day? Well, that was my Saturday, in sum.

I wasn’t the only one taking advantage down by the bridge, that’s for sure. With the rolling Mississippi soaring by, the St. Anthony Maine neighborhood is the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll, a morning bike, or a nice long 5k training. I snapped the picture above, unintentionally getting both the runner and man leaning against the raining, both in the frame.

The picture was rather striking to me; it catches both sides of the spectrum. A body in motion, and a body…not in motion. Either way, both bodies are taking advantage of the beautiful weather, but ask yourself: which one would you want to be in the shot? I think this is a good visual reminder to always keep your body in motion, because you never know who might be discreetly snapping a photo on their iPhone.

Salmon + Rosemary

You all have probably heard the buzz about Omega-3‘s right? If not, they’re the healthy fats found in avocado, nuts, fish oil, olive oil, salmon, and certain peanut butters, to name a few. Omega-3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides (preventing heart disease and high cholesterol), reduce inflammation, help with arthritis, and improve concentration. I’ve paired this fatty fish with some of my other top veggies to make a dinner fit for a single (hooray!) or family alike.

Broiled Salmon + Tomato

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 Salmon fillet (Alaskan caught)
  • 1.5 tbp olive oil
  • 1/2 tomato or 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 c. spinach
  • 2 “sticks” rosemary
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (red or yellow)
  • 2 tsp salt/pepper to taste
  • Seasoning of choice to taste (garlic, onion, Italian seasoning)

Recipe

  • Thaw salmon fillet by either leaving in the fridge over night, or by placing the freeze-dried packet in cold water for 10-15 minutes
  • Turn broiler on
  • Line a baking sheet with tin foil; do your prep work on this baking sheet
  • Prep the thawed salmon by basting it with half of the olive oil; season to taste; place the rosemary on top
  • Cut tomato into halves; drizzle the rest of the olive oil over top; season to taste
  • Your broiler should be ready now; place the pan of salmon and tomato with seasoning on the top rack and broil for 8-9 minutes (if you have more than one fillet, add more time)
  • Heat a non-stick pan on the front burner; once heated add a dash of water and toss your onions in, sauteeing for roughly 5-10 minutes on low-medium heat until the onions are carmelized; add water when necessary
  • Toss in your spinach and fold ingredients together into it is wilted
  • Serve your salmon, tomatoes, and spinach/onion mix on single plate immediately
  • Bon appetite!

North Shore Love

Photo taken on the Lake Superior Dock, Mid-March.

My parents relocated to Duluth, MN (about 2.5 hours north of the twin cities) a year and a half ago. Whenever I visit I am marveled by the beauty of the lake and the nature.

During my spring break visited, my mom and I stopped at a cafe near the shore called Sara’s Table: Chester Creek Cafe, which had the most delicious lunch choices ever! It could have been that I was nearly dying of a food coma, but honestly, I could have enjoyed everything on the menu. Our dishes (split amongst my mom and I) can be seen in the photo below. I ordered the buttermilk chicken salad, and my mom opted for the turkey, potato and cranberry plate. Also, major plus: Sara’s Table only uses local and organic products…win win!

Basil + Mozzerella

This weekend in Minneapolis feels more like mid-May, not mid-March. To celebrate I decide to try my hand at a make-shift Neapolitan style pizza, cracker style.

“Punch Pizza” Ingredients (makes 1 serving):

  • 5-7 Kashi Sea Salt Multi-Grain Crackers = 48 cals
  • 1 Sargento Light Mozzarella Cheese Stick = 50 cals
  • 2 tbsp Generic Tomato Sauce w/ Basil = 20 cals
  • 2 fresh basil leaves = Freebie cals ;]
  • Total cals: Aprox. 120 cals/serving

The key ingredient mind you, is the basil leaves. Yesterday I was rummaging the Lunds’ herb aisle and I came across the most delicious looking bunch, giving me inspiration for this dish. Quick, simple, and packed with protein, whole grains, and loads of flavor, this snack is perfect for a spring afternoon or even for entertaining.

I hope you all are enjoying this glorious Saturday!

Original Punch pizza