Vegan Coconut Protein Fat Balls

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to remove excess sugar from my diet. Sugar is added into so many packaged foods – sauces, dressing, cereals, and 98% of the PB I find in stores. I don’t buy much packaged food, but make sure the PB I buy is only peanuts and salt (no added sugar or palm oil!!) and I have made the switch to unsweetened almond milk for coffee and smoothies. Although I’ve removed a lot of the added sugars from my diet, I still have a major post dinner sweet tooth to keep in check.

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I saw these coconut fat balls on Lee From America’s instagram and knew I needed them in my life. Full of fat and protein, but low in sugar, these are the perfect post dinner snack. I would also highly recommend them in the morning with coffee, after a workout, or really whenever hunger strikes.

I  closely followed Lee’s recipe, but made a few adjustments, here’s what went into the blender:

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  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter (if you have not tried this before, you are MISSING out!)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I did salted)
  • 1/2 cup almond slices
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk, plus a few extra splashes to keep things moving
  • 2 tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 scoop Xology protein

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Add all the ingredients into the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=juliachase-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B0764BD7WV&asins=B0764BD7WV&linkId=35fcbab99ad9ff02a5866e3c37e1b697&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>blender and blend until a doughy consistency is reach. Form golf ball sized balls, lay out on a flat cookie sheet, and placed in freezer.

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That’s it! Super easy and quick recipe. Unbelievably good.

Lmk if you try them!

 

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Zion Adventures

One of my favorite parts about living in San Diego is the abundance of National Parks within weekend-ish distance. This year, I took advantage of the couple extra days off of work over Thanksgiving to make the mini trek out to Zion National Park. The drive is about 7 hours from San Diego (no traffic) and a fairly easy drive as you’re mostly on one highway the entire time. We took off early Thursday morning and arrived at the park mid-afternoon. Here’s a breakdown of my favorite hikes from the weekend 🙂

Angel’s Landing: This trail is rated strenuous with an estimated hiking time of 4 hours in Zion’s trail guide. Round trip, with photos and snacks, it took us about 3 hours but we were definitely pushing the pace a bit on the way up. This hike starts with switchbacks going up and down the side of the mountain called “Walter’s Wiggles” that will give you a solid glute workout. After the switchbacks, it is a fairly easy hike with a slight elevation gain till you get the Angel’s Landing. This is where the trail gets fun.

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Looking out over Angel’s Landing. Photo: Andtheretheygo.com

If you aren’t someone who enjoys heights, you could stop here and still get some great views. I’m not the fondest of heights, but can say the trail forward looks more treacherous than it actually is. There are chains to hold onto along the way and a few spots where you have to scramble over the rock, but for the most part the trail is a steady elevation gain with enough rock to get a solid footing. The views at the top are beautiful and there are lots of flat rocks to sit on, have a snack, and soak up a little sun before heading back down. Overall, Angel’s Landing was the most unique hike because of the challenge of having to wind your way, somewhat precariously, over the cliff.

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View from the top of Angel’s Landing

PRO TIP: get up early and go first thing! I thought it was busy as we were going up, but coming back down there were major lines building up to go across. The ridge has a bunch of pinch points where only on person fits so if the trail gets busy, these points back up real quick.

Observation Point:

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Walking through the canyon

If you are up for a bit of a longer hike, I would highly recommend Observation Point. The trail is rated strenuous with an estimated hiking time of 6 hours in Zion’s trail guide. It took us about 3 and a half hours, including snacks and photos at the top. While I think we had a good pace, we were definitely making a point to go slow(ish) and enjoy our journey up and down. I think you could safely budget 4 hours for the hike. Similar to Angel’s Landing, the hike starts with switchbacks going up the side of the mountain.

From here, the trail carries you back through the canyon, then wraps around to Observation Point, which summits at 6,507 ft. Higher than Angel’s Landing, I think this hike gives the fullest view of the park. I found the trail up to Observation Point to be the most diverse and I think the section that goes through the canyon is just so cool and worth the hike in itself.

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View from Observation Point summit

 

PRO TIP: Again, go early. This trail was quieter than Angel’s Landing but still starting to fill up as we were making our way back down. Also, bring layers. In the morning and in the shade it is much colder than in the sun. It gets pretty variable depending on if you’re in the canyon or on the ridge. I took on and off my hoodie at least 10 times throughout the hike.

Weeping Rock: This is a super easy, quick walk from the same trailhead as Observation Point. Water that has filtered through the sandstone formations is forced out of the rock here, creating a waterfall of sorts. There are also “hanging gardens” along the side of the rock. Quick and picture worthy stop.

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Weeping Rock

Pa’rus Trail: By the time we arrived to the park the first day and checked in, we didn’t have a whole ton of time to hike so we opted for this trail as we didn’t have to worry about being back before sunset. The whole trail is paved and is more of a walking trail than a hike. The path winds through the valley with mountains on either side of you. You’ll likely see mule deer along the side of the trail who are (at least compared to the white tail deer I’m used to in NY) very unafraid of people. I saw one just a few feet away from me off the trail. Really pretty views along the trail and a nice, easy walk to end your day with.

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Pa’rus Trail

Lower and Upper Emerald Pools: These were the least thrilling hikes for me. Combined I think it is 2 miles to the upper pools with fairly easy, small sections of incline. The pools are pretty and have mini waterfalls similar to Weeping Rock. These trails can get busy as they are more accessible to families or those looking for a shorter hike. If you have the time, worth going. We did these trails after Observation Point and found they were perfect to end the day with.

Kayenta Trail: After the Upper Pools trail, instead of retracing our steps, we took the Kayenta back to the trailhead. Kayenta adds a couple extra miles onto your hike, mostly of paths that wind along the side of the mountain, providing incredible views of the valley and the Virgin River. I feel like I’ve said there are incredible views a lot, but there really are. The whole park is stunning.

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View from Kayenta Trail

Overall PRO TIP: if you are going to Zion anytime in the near future, beware that they are redoing the main road going in and out of the park. Traffic can back up for up to 30-40 minute waits on either end as you often have to wait for cars to clear out from the other direction. We stayed in the center of town and were able to walk to the entrance and avoid this madness. I loved not having to drive the whole weekend 🙂 Check the road status before you go and plan accordingly!

Packing PRO TIP: Bring snacks and water with you as there’s not anywhere in the park to get food aside from the lodge at the beginning. Wear layers and sunscreen. Bring hand sanitizer.

Last PRO TIP: As you take the shuttle through the valley, keep an eye out on the side of the canyon for rock climbers. We were lucky enough to see a group of climbers scaling the mountain as well as a guy ON A TIGHT ROPE between cliff edges.

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Observation Point Summit

Also, because hiking makes you HUNGRY, here are a few of the places I recommend:

Zion Canyon Brew Pub: Right by the entrance to the park, we stopped here both days after hiking for a glass of wine/beer and some fries. #hikinghunger

HooDoo’s General Store: Good place to grab any food you forgot to pack for your trip. Great soy lattes and a variety of wraps or sandwiches for a quick bite.

Bit and Spur Restaurant and Saloon: When going to a bar in the middle of nowhere Utah, I wasn’t exactly expecting excellent Mexican food. Count me wrong on this one because they had amazing burritos, fajitas, and spicy margs.

Apologies I have zero food pictures. We chose to leave our phones at the lodge for all dinners. This was part of a conscious effort to disconnect during the trip.

For the majority of the trip I was pretty phoneless. I brought it with me for the hikes in order to take photos, but left it on airplane mode all day. For meals, the phone was left behind. I really tried to not have it be present, which was SO rejuvenating. The more I take conscious breaks away from my phone, the more I move away from the need to consistently check it, the more I tell myself I don’t need to instantly respond to messages, the more I feel my stress levels decreasing. I recognize in today’s world that our phones are pretty critical, BUT, if you have an opportunity, like a trip to a national park, a day hike, or even just a dinner, turn it on airplane mode. Let the messages wait. Disconnect. Be present.

Still left on my Zion hikes to do: the Narrows. Waiting for warmer weather for that one!

San Diego Favorites: Healthy Eats

San Diego Favorites: Healthy Eats

Through Instagram I’ve get a lot of messages asking for San Diego recommendations, whether it’s for the best latte, a healthy brunch, or a yoga studio to go to. I’ve been responded in many one-off long messages with as many suggestions as possible before finally realizing that maybe it would both be more efficient for me and more helpful to all of you if I compiled my top suggestions in one place that everyone could access.

I’ve been in San Diego for almost 3 years now (time flies!!) and have created my own mini cheat sheet of all my favorite places. It’s a color-coded google spreadsheet that’s organized by neighborhood, meal type (coffee, brunch, veggie friendly, etc.), and also tracks which places I’ve visited and which are still on my bucket list.

Since this might be a bit much / slightly embarrassing / also not as helpful to share, I’m picking my top 5-10 for each category and will highlight a bit about each place. This should hopefully provide a super easy to follow guide whether you’re visiting San Diego or are local and looking for a new spot!

Phewf! Ok, now to dig into the good stuff, first category:

Favorite Places for Healthy Eats

  1. Trilogy Sanctuary*, La Jolla

Connecting to a yoga studio and boho boutique shop, Trilogy Café is an all vegan restaurant that has everything from cauliflower “wings” to big bowl salads, to all kinds of creative vegan tacos. Everything I’ve tried here has been nothing short of delicious and their servings are generous! Bonus: their outdoor deck has ocean views and is a great spot to cozy up to do work.

Order: the Green Power Bowl if you’re feeling healthy and hungry (I sub the lemon tahini dressing onto it), the Mac n Cheeze if you’re feeling decadent, or the Vega-Nachos if you’re sharing with friends.

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photo credit: Trilogy Sanctuary
  1. Donna Jean*, Bankers Hill

Donna Jean is another all vegan place but you’d never know it by looking at the menu. The menu features comfort food classes like cast iron mac and trees (vegan mac with broccoli), cheese tortellini, gnocchi Bolognese, and spaghetti puttanesca. Great date night spot for a place that never crazy loud. Order: the hot shrooms to start and the Thunderkiss pizza (or any of their pizzas really).

  1. Goodonya, Encinitas

Goodonya’s menu focuses on REAL food, putting the emphasis on getting ingredients of high quality. They have options for meat eaters and vegans alike. I also love this place because their founder is unbelievably nice. I gushed about the cashew herb spread on Insta and they reached out to me with the recipe (I cannot make it like they do!! but that kind of of service to their customer is UNREAL!!). Order the Grilled Chicken Pesto (if you’re a meat eater – all their meats are organic), the Sprout Probiotic Salad for that CASHEW HERB SPREAD (sub ranch for vinaigrette dressing if you’re vegan), and get a kombucha on tap to wash it all down.

  1. Second Nature, Pacific Beach

One of my favorite go-to restaurants, Second Nature is always a crowd pleaser. Their staff is always really friendly, they have a great outdoor space, and they allow dogs. I’ve tried almost everything off the menu (that doesn’t have meat) and have loved almost everything (the chipotle lime cauliflower tacos were not my favorite tbh). Order: the Coconut Thai Curry bowl, the Grass Fed burger with a side of truffle fries, or the Mediterranean Salad.

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My go to order at Second Nature: Coconut Thai Curry bowl
  1. Eve*, Encinitas

I only recently tried Eve and DANG do I wish I had gone sooner. It took me forever to choose what to order because they have such a big menu with the most creative and decadent, yet healthy, vegan menu. I’m not even sure that I can narrow it down to tell you want to order but here’s a couple: the Jackfruit tacos (anything with avo crema really), the Legendary Hero bowl (braised kale, Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, hemp seeds, brown rice, walnuts, with a tahini sauce…I mean……), or the buffalo ranch cauliflower flatbread if you’re trying to convince someone vegan food is delicious too 😉

  1. True Foods, Westfield UTC & Fashion Valley

San Diego now has two True Foods, one at the Westfield UTC mall and one at Fashion Valley mall. Don’t be fooled, this is no Panda Express mall food court kinda food. True Foods is founded by Dr. Andrew Weil (aka the integrative nutrition guru) and focuses on using food as medicine, while also making it delicious. The space is light and bright and welcoming and the menu has everything. Order the Ancient Grains bowl (vegan), the grass fed burger (very non-vegan), with a pizza to share (would recommend the spinach and mushroom for a vegan option and chicken sausage for non-vegan).

  1. Café Gratitude*, Little Italy

I used to live within walking distance to Café Gratitude and those were the days! Parking is always a little limited in Little Italy but Café G is WORTH IT. An all vegan restaurant that even the staunchest anti-vegan eater (aka maybe your bf?) will find something they love. The space is super cute (insta worthy for sure) and the menu has a little bit of everything. While they have brunch food as well, I prefer to go for dinner. Order: the Eclectic Buffalo Cauliflower to share, the Mucho Mexican bowl for your bf, and the Whole Macrobiotic Bowl. Other favorites: Magical Black Bean Burger, Pure Asian Kale and Wakame Salad, and the Ecstatic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

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photo cred: Cafe Gratitude
  1. Flowerchild, Del Mar

A very insta-worthy restaurant space, FlowerChild has brightly painted walls with peace signs, flowers, and fun designs. Their food is just as cheery. This is a great place to go with a group, especially if people have different eating desires because they have everything from all vegan salads, to build your own plates, to familiar (but fun) items like a smoked turkey sandwich with gouda and avocado hummus. My favorite / suggested order: the Forbidden Rice or Mother Earth Bowl with your protein of choice if desired (grass fed steak, chicken, non-gmo tofu).

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photo credit: FlowerChild
  1. Kindred*, South Park

If you’re feeling like a hipster, Kindred is the place for you. Located in South Park the restaurant has pink wallpaper, wolf skulls on the walls, marble tables and black seating – it’s a vibe. Their food is all vegan but no basic kale salads in sight. They serve dinner here as well but brunch is really where it’s at. Order: Pancakes (comes with unreal whipped coconut cream) and the Benedict (a vegan remake that’s so worth trying).

  1. Freshii, Downtown & Pacific Beach

Ok so this isn’t really a sit down place, but we’re all busy and we’re all lazy sometimes too. Freshii to the rescue, this place has literally everything and anything you could want salad, wraps, or bowl wise. It’s an easy, inexpensive meal in a pinch. Order: really whatever you want because they have everything, but I love the umami bowl that has brown rice, avocado, edamame, mushrooms, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, hemp seeds, and a ginger miso dressing. SO good!

Ok so those are my top 10. San Diego has SO many healthy places so this list could have easily been 5x the length. Have any San Diego specific blog requests? Leave em below!

xx

* = all vegan restaurant

Why I’m Anti-Recycling

Why I’m Anti-Recycling, World Oceans Day Post

Ok I’m not really anti-recycling – I’m pro recycling over throwing it away in the trash, and I’m definitely pro-recycling for more efficiently recycled materials (aluminum and glass). However, when it comes to plastic I think recycling is a crutch that makes us feel better about using a material that’s responsible for major pollution of our oceans.

Here’s the scoop:

Plastics are a major issue. During WWII a need for synthetic materials supported the growth and production of plastics. After the war, plastic production continued to surge and has been expanding ever since. In the last 70 years, over 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced globally.

source: bbc.co

Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean, or roughly 1 garbage truck full of plastic EVERY MINUTE. This plastic comes from many sources; it can be carried by the wind or washed into the storm drains by rainwater, eventually finding its way to the ocean. The problem here is that this plastic doesn’t go away, it’s not compostable, it just accumulates. Prime example: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive floating island of plastic that is THREE TIMES the size of France. YIKES. By 2050, it is estimated the oceans will contain more plastic by weight than fish. NOT OKAY PEEPS.

Over time, plastic will break down into micro-plastics, tiny particles less than 5 mm in diameter, that remain in our oceans, in our water systems, and in the food we eat.

Plastic in the ocean is a problem for a lot of reasons.

1) Plastic impacts over 800 species of marine animals and kills 1000s of seabirds, sea turtles, and other marine animals each year from ingestion or entanglement. Consumption of plastics can cause blockages of the digestive tract in sea turtles and whales, leading to death. In fish, micro-plastics have been shown to alter behavioral patterns, like ignoring the smell of predators.

2) You’re eating it too. It’s estimate the average person consumes more than 74,000 particles of plastic each year. The micro-plastics make their way up the food chain, are present in our bottled water, and are even in the air we breath.

3) It’s really freaking hard to clean it up and remove it from the open oceans, so the less we can continue to add to the problem, the better.

I know this isn’t so cheery to think about but here’s an uplifting thought – WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS! Awareness is already spreading – plastic bans are becoming more common, big companies like Starbucks have stopped using straws, and it’s becoming more hip to bring your to go cup with you. There are so many personal choices we can make each day that can contribute to less plastic pollution worldwide. In honor of World’s Ocean Day today, I’m sharing my top three ways to reduce your plastic use. I chose these 3 because they are easy, simple, and make a difference. I’m sure you’ve heard them before – but are you doing them? Here’s a nudge to start 🙂 I’ve also linked a few of my plastic reducing products below to get your started!

  • REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE. Save money, save the planet – stop using plastic water bottles. Get your own, carry it with you. I keep one at my office, in my gym bag, and in my car so I know I always have one close. Be mindful of your other drink purchases as well – opt for drinks in aluminum cans or glass bottles instead of plastic ones.
  • NIX TO GO COFFEE CUPS. If you’re meeting a friend for coffee or hanging out for a bit, make sure to request your coffee (or tea!) in a mug. On the go? Bring your to go mug with you. Bonus – most coffee shops will give you a discount! Forgot your cup? Say no to the plastic top and take your coffee topless – once you finish your drink give the cup a quick rinse and recycle the paper.
  • GREEN GROCERIES: Ok so I’m sure you know you should be bringing your reusable bags with you (store em in your car or keep them by the door so you can’t forget!) but what about the plastic in the grocery store? Get reusable bags for your produce, buy in bulk when possible, and be mindful of how your food is packaged – can you get a similar product in less packaging or not wrapped in plastic (why are all cucumbers wrapped in plastic?!).

So I’m not really anti-recycling, I just think we need to focus more on reducing first. Less plastic, more reuse, recycling as a last option.

Thoughts? What actions are you taking to reduce your plastic use?

Want to go minimalist? 5 ways to get started!

I wanted to share something that has been close to my heart recently, and a pretty big lifestyle shift for me: going minimalist.  

Now, I am by no means a strict minimalist (aka living with 100 things or less) but I have made some major steps to simplify my life and transition to a more streamlined way of living. When I shared this on my instagram, the number one question I got was:

How did you get started?

So, that’s what I’ll be sharing with you all! Here are my top 5 ways to get started on your minimalist journey!

1. Decide Your Why: 
Why do you want to go minimalist? Is it to have less to clean up? A clearer space to work and think in? To have less stress? To be more environmentally friendly? There are so many reasons to go minimalist. Get clear on what it is specifically for you; this will help guide you through the process and be something to come back to.

2. Break It Into Pieces:
Depending on how much stuff you have already, streamlining your materials may take awhile. Tackle your things category by category. For example, maybe start by going through all your kitchen items, or all your skincare and beauty products. Marie Kondo, aka the Queen of simplifying and organizing, suggests gathering all things from one category (e.g. all sweaters), placing them in a pile, then sorting through them. By going category by category it helps you see how much you actually have that serves the same purpose. 

3. Be A Little Ruthless:
If there is something that truly holds sentimental value – keep it. However, if you find that every item you come across is extra special and MUST  be kept…you probably need to be a bit more ruthless. Ask yourself: How often do I use this? Do I have another item exactly like it or very similar? Would someone else appreciate this item more than me?

4. Give To Those In Need:
Building off the last point – when it gets a little bit difficult to think about giving something away – donate it. When I felt a little hesitant to give something away, I would think about giving it to someone who would really appreciate it and really use it, then the decision was easy.

5. Progress Over Perfection:
Going minimalist isn’t something that happens overnight and that’s OK! I am still in the process of embracing a more minimalist lifestyle, and I feel like I might always be in the process #alwaysgrowing. Take it in bite size chunks, give yourself a pat on the back for the progress you make, and enjoy the journey!

Vegan Lasagna (GF)

I made Minimalist Baker’s vegan lasagna this week (slightly modified) and wanted to share it all with you because it is SO easy and SO good. Her pictures are way prettier than mine (definitely not a food stylist here) but it was delicious all the same.

The whole thing takes only 20 minutes to put together, requires less than 10 ingredients, and only dirties a couple dishes. It really doesn’t get easier.

I followed her lasagna recipe but instead of using macadamia nuts for the ricotta filling, followed her tofu ricotta recipes from her eggplant roll ups. Other than that I made a few tweaks for personal taste preferences.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • jar of your favorite marinara
  • 12 oz block extra firm tofu
  • heaping 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • 3-4 tbsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vegan parmesan cheese
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Sauce of choice: Dave’ Gourmet Spicy Heirloom Marinara (has a kick, but so good!)

Steps:

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Using a cheesecloth or towel, squeeze any extra liquid out of tofu.

3. Add tofu, nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, lemon juice, EVOO, handful of vegan parmesan, and salt and pepper to blender. Blend until semi-pureed. You’re looking for a ricotta esque texture. Add more nutritional yeast or vegan parm to up the cheese flavor.

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Aim for ricotta esque texture for your tofu mixutre

4. Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise.

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Zucchini sliced lengthwise

5. Spoon sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 pan, enough to cover. Begin to layer zucchini on top to cover. Scoop spoonfuls of ricotta over the zucchini. I left mine in globs but you could spread evenly out if you wanted to 🙂

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Layer sauce, zucchini, and tofu ricotta

6. Continue to layer sauce, zucchini, and ricotta. Finish with a top layer of zucchini, thin layer of sauce, and sprinkle of vegan parm.

7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 min. Turn over to broil and bake for 5 minutes (makes cheese golden and crispy).

8. EAT & ENJOY!

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Photo cred: Minimalist Baker. Clearly far more photogenic lasagna.

Would you try vegan ricotta? To weird? Or freaking delicious? LMK.

xo

Yoga Mat Review: my favorite mats & eco friendly finds

Alright friends, it’s here: my favorite yoga mats to practice on! I got a resounding YES from you all that you wanted recommendations. There are a LOT of yoga mats on the market and I’ve gotten to try out a bunch. These are my personal preferences, broken down by the type of yoga & its eco friendliness:

Lululemon: This was the first “nice” mat I bought for myself and it was kinda a big deal for me. I had only used cheap $15 mats from target before so this was quite the upgrade. If I had to pick one, the Lulu mat is my favorite. It’s nice and thick so my knees and joints always feel cushioned throughout practice, has a great grip that holds even in the sweatiest classes. I’ve used this in hot yoga before without a towel, and been fine! Lululemon uses trademark Luvea rubber that is natural, sustainably sourced, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and is PVC free!

Price: $88

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Joi Yoga Mat

Joi Yoga: Joi Yoga mats are made of 100% sustainable rubber, are PVC free, and have a microfiber top layer that acts as a yoga towel – perfect for hot classes! I also like this mat for traveling because it’s lighter than some of the other mats. I brought this mat with me to Bali and it did wonderfully in the sticky heat (re: sweaty yoga). Bonus: these mats can be rinsed clean or thrown in the laundry machine.

Price: $65

Liforme: Easily recognizable with their AlignForMe system, the Liforme mats have markers on the mat to help yogis find correct alignment in the posture. These mats have great grip even during a sweaty class. They are PVC free, non-toxic, and biodegradable in 1.5 years in a landfill. I received this mat when hosting a challenge and became a fan of it right away. I love this mat for a power yoga class! I also love that their company really runs on the values of being eco-friendly and ethical. They also give back to various charities!

Price: $140

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Liforme Mat

Manduka: If I’m being fully honest (which I am, duh), I’m having a hard time with this one because I love my manduka Pro mat – it has been my favorite mat for at home practice, with good cushion and enough grip (but not too much – too much grip and I feel like I don’t have to engage my muscles as much), for my day to day yoga. The Pro mat is made to last a lifetime, meaning you won’t have to replace it (less production) and it won’t be dumped in a landfill for a long time. However, the mat is Oeko Tex certified emission free PVC – meaning it you won’t breath in PVC emissions, but it does contain PVC and won’t break down in a landfill. If I was getting a new mat, I would go with Manduka’s eKO Mat that is made from sustainably harvested tree rubber and is PVC free. While I do love the Pro, I prefer a mat that is PVC free and biodegradable.

Price: $88

Other Eco-friendly Mats:

These mats I haven’t tried, so I can’t speak directly to them, but they were recommended to me and I wanted to share with you all as they are great eco-friendly options!

Yellow Willow Yoga: These mats are made from 100% recycled materials, are PVC and latex free, and are biodegradable! Definitely a winner if you’re looking for an earth friendly mat. They also come in really pretty patterns J

Price: $98

Tiny Yoga Company: I shared these mats on my stories after the owner reached out to me to share her product. I so appreciate her hustle and love that she’s created a product that is eco friendly (100% natural rubber), biodegradable, vegan, and affordable! This mat has the lowest price point will still checking all the eco-friendly boxes!

Price: $55

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Tiny Yoga Company

Bali Blogs: Feeling Comfortable Traveling Solo

I spent the first half of November traveling solo around Bali. It was magical, blissful, invigorating, and rejuvenating. I love to travel and while there is something so special about traveling with a friend, partner, or family and getting to create and share memories together, there is something really empowering and relaxing about traveling solo.

I know for many people traveling solo can feel a bit overwhelming. I’ve gotten many messages on Instagram along the lines of “You’re doing that alone?!” or “I could never do that!”  If traveling solo holds no appeal to you, read no further. But if it’s something you’ve thought of doing but aren’t quite sure if that’s too far out of your comfort zone, keep reading, I’m sharing my tips for making traveling solo accessible and most importantly – FUN!

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eating solo at Crate Cafe

I’ll start with saying I didn’t wake up one day and decide my first solo trip would be halfway around the world to Bali. I’ve been traveling abroad since high school when I decided to take Spanish for a year so I could spend the summer in Cadiz, Madrid, and Seville. In college, I went abroad twice, first to Australia and then to Copenhagen, and since then I’ve traveling both throughout the States and abroad as much as my bank account and vacation days allowed. Getting comfortable traveling takes time, and like anything, the more you do it the easier and more natural it becomes.

Leading us to tip 1: start small. take a day trip to a nearby town you’ve been wanting to visit. wander around, take yourself out to eat, see the sights of the place. Then maybe take a weekend trip a few hours away, then maybe fly to a different state, etc. etc. Whatever feels accessible to you right now, start there. As you get more comfortable traveling in general and on your own, expand your horizons and the distance you go.

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waterfall showers

No matter where I am traveling to I like to have a plan in advance and do a bit of research. The less I know a place, the more I prepare. For Bali this meant reading up on the culture a bit, reading blogs to find out what other people enjoyed or didn’t, searching for restaurants, researching hotels and Airbnbs, and noting all the sight seeing or activities that I wanted to do. There is so much information out there in the digital age, with a bit of patience and time you can find everything you need to know! Once I have my favorites I save them in a list on google maps. These points stay available even when I don’t have service so I am able to navigate to and from places without worrying about roaming or Wifi. Before I leave I have a rough outline of what I plan to do each day. This also helps me to fit more in because I’m not spending time on my trip trying to figure out where to go or what to do.  Tip 2: Do your research. Pin your favorite places.

Contrary to Tip 2, Tip 3 is to deviate from the plan as necessary. A plan is great but so is spontaneity and being flexible. Opportunities may arise to do something new or you may feel incredibly jet lagged and taking a nap sounds way better than a strenuous hike. Let your plan provide the framework, from there go with the flow. Traveling is your vacation time after all, the less you worry about changes along the way, the more you will enjoy your time.

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swinging over the jungle in Bali

While you’re traveling solo, keep in mind that that doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Tip 4: ask for help! If you need a recommendation of where to go or how to get there, just ask! Hotel concierges and Airbnb hosts typically know the area well and can provide great recommendations of where to go. Or ask a stranger. I’ve only had positive experiences with asking people. Be kind, courteous, and grateful, but definitely reach out when you need to!

Tip 5: Be safe; Trust your gut. I operate on the theory that all people are good people and that the universe will keep me safe. That said, no matter where in the world you are traveling, the later you are out at night and the more you drink, the more likely you are to get into an unsafe situation, get lost, etc. When I’m traveling solo (and honestly really all the time) I’m back home early and avoiding the club scene. If going out & drinking is something that you want to include in your travels, be mindful and careful just as you would in any city. Along with some caution, trust your gut. If something doesn’t sit right with you – listen to that, don’t do it. I’ve canceled Airbnbs and plans because something felt off to me. There might not be a concrete reason but if my gut tells me no, I head that.

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Walking the Campuhan Ridge

And lastly, make the most of the time to yourself. Not only does this mean you get to determine what the day holds for you, but it’s really precious time to take to reflect, journal, meditate, and simply be.

Have other questions about traveling solo? Leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you 😽

Bali Blogs: all my favorite food places

Bali has amazing, endless cafes and vegan eateries full of delicious food. If you are looking to eat well while on vacation, Bali has you covered. The places below are some of my favorite ones that I ate at during my trip and therefore can speak directly to! I listed my recommended orders but they all have extensive menus with TONS of options. If you’re looking for more options, I highly suggest Lonely Planet or searching your favorite travel blogs. At the bottom I also listed a few additional places I wanted to try but ran out of time for 😭

Canggu

Shady Shack – This vegetarian food cafe looks out over rice fields and has a menu full of delicious bowls, tacos, and smoothies. Our group tossed back a round of the Immunity shots (#wild) and ordered tempeh bowls and the burger!

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Tempeh Bowl at Shady Shack

Order the: tempeh bowl, a spritzer drink, and a juice shot.

Crate Cafe – This open air cafe is an right off the main road in Canggu and full of amazing breakfast options. Their servings are big, so come hungry!

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Iced Latte and Tofu Toast at Crate Cafe

Order the: chia bowls, açaí bowls, or mega stacked toasts!

Seminyak:

Earth Cafe (also in Ubud) – This was one of my favorites places; I went twice in two days and wanted to try everything on their menu. Both locations also have a small health food and goods shop!

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Raw Burger at Earth Cafe

Order the: raw burger and one of their juices!

Kynd Community – This place was made for instagram with palm tree walls, a cute swing, and gorgeous food. I love that they stress the message of “being kynd” through eating a plant based diet and being mindful how our actions impact the planet.

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Brekkie Salad

Order the: açaí bowl with writing on it, whole coconut, brekkie salad.

Coffee Cartel – This was one of my favorite lattes from my entire trip in Bali – the creamiest almond milk and incredible latte art made with their Ripple machine.

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Coffee Cartel Ripple Latte

Order the:  latte with the “ripple” if you want yours with your name on it!

Ku De Ta – This restaurant and bar overlooks the ocean. You can hang out at the pool or on one of their daybeds loungers while you enjoy your food and drink!

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Ku De Ta

Order: anything. I got a green juice but they have a great array of cocktails. Come for an amazing view of the beach at sunset!

Batik – I went here for dinner one night and absolutely loved the place. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and has lots of outdoor seating. I recommend outdoors for dinner because the heat of the day is gone and you get prime people watching seats.

Order the: One of their curries 🤤 I got a green curry here that was amazing!

Ubud:

Revive – this cute hipster cafe recently opened just on the outskirts of Ubud. With cozy velvet seats or tables to sit at, it is the perfect place to post up and do some work or enjoy coffee with a friend.

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Revive Cafe Golden Latte

Order the: amazing, frothy golden lattes and vegan chocolate covered coconut balls!

Nu Hype – I stumbled upon this place on my way to Alchemy and had to try it. This is a classic Instagram friendly cafe. Come for a picture in the swing chair, try one of their smoothies!

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Nu Hype

Alchemy – A must go place for every plant based foodie.

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Matcha Latte at Alchemy

Order the: the entire menu. Make sure to check out their dessert cooler filled with raw balls and amazing vegan desserts.

Sage – This space is beautiful and has one of the best plant based menus. It is a bit outside the center of Ubud but worth the trip!

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Jackfruit Tacos in a bowl

Order the: cauliflower fritters (slightly spicy but SO good), the nourish bowl, or the jackfruit tacos. Also anything and everything with the tempeh; it has a bit of spice to it that I loved. Make sure to get some of their chocolate chip cookies on your way out – amazing!

Seeds of Life – This restaurant makes raw foods fun and delicious! If you’ve never tried raw foods, this is the place to go. They have everything from raw lasagna, to pesto burgers, to desserts.

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Raw bowl at Seeds of Life

Order the: try a tonic if you’re looking for a health indulgence. I got one of their bowls and loved it!

Mudra – everything here looked AMAZING. This was one of my favorites places. Mudra’s food is sourced locally and based on ayurveda.  I got the veggie wrap as I wasn’t too hungry.

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Wrap at Mudra with Wasabi Aioli

Order the: smoothie for breakfast or poke bowl for lunch (the party sitting next to me got these and RAVED about them).

La Pachamama – If you are craving mexican-style food in Ubud, try La Pachamama. Great place for dinner with a group of friends.

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Buffalo Cauliflower at La Pacha Mama

Order the: buffalo cauliflower for some comfort food away from home. Or try a margarita and tacos for a Mexican kick.

Kafe – cute cafe with lots of breakfast options at the center of Ubud.

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Latte and Carrot Cake at Kafe

Order the: almond milk lattes with a tasty pastry on the side!

Elephant (views) – I got the green brekky here and to be completely honest wasn’t thrilled with it. It was tasty, but nothing special. The views here  are worth a stop. Enjoy your meal looking out over the Campuhan Ridge.

Clear Cafe – This place is well known for their decorated stairs, Clear Cafe also has great vegan, vegetarian and raw options.

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Steps at Clear Cafe

Order the summer rolls and a fresh juice for a light meal!

Other places that were on my list to try:

  • Yoga Barn
  • Nalu Bowls
  • Cafe Organic
  • Buda Bali
  • Milk and Madu
  • The Loft