Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

This time of year is so truly magical, isn’t it? I not only love the colors and smells of the season, but the flavors this time of year are so cozy and wonderful.

I’ve been craving those autumn and winter spices lately and wanted to find a healthy way to satisfy my sweet tooth. This recipe was modified through one shared by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, when I first found it, it sounded amazing but I know that my stomach really struggles with milk so I needed to find a way to create something similar without the dairy.

This is my favorite dessert right now! It totally tastes like a drinkable pumpkin pie and there is no guilt involved. For the past few months I have been trying to eat healthier and as I have cut more processed sugar out of my diet I have noticed a big difference. I thought I would notice the change by feeling more fit – which is true, but more importantly I have felt more positive on an emotional level.

This recipe will make either 2 small snack smoothies or 1 meal size smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 almond milk yogurt alternative
  • 3/4 coconut milk (vanilla or original)
  • a little honey if you use unsweetened milk
  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ground cloves

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into glass container (or metal, or ceramic, or anything not plastic) and enjoy!

This is an easy way to enjoy dessert without feeling guilty! Or, if you are in need of a little pick-me-up midweek for breakfast, forget the sugary cereal or breakfast bar and make yourself this smoothie! It makes every day a good day, if I do say so myself!

What are your favorite dessert and breakfast smoothies?

love & light,

Lena

10 Reasons to Join a Crop Share

This past summer my husband and I decided to join a crop share through one of the local farms here in West Michigan! Our interest was sparked when a couple of our neighbors told us they were members of this particular crop share during a game night. We are so fortunate to have such like-minded friends living in our neighborhood – they’ve introduced us to so many community resources that we love!

Here are 10 wonderful reasons we’ve found for joining a local crop share…

  1. Supporting local business and agriculture. We all know how important it is for our local business owners and economy to support them!
  2. Eat local and seasonal. Eating local has so many benefits, many of them listed in this post!
  3. Connecting with local community. It is a wonderful thing to become closer with individuals in your community. Plus, if those people are also members of your crop share, you most likely have similar values.
  4. Building a positive relationship with your food and where it comes from. In todays busy world we are used to eating fast and rushing to the next thing on our “to-do” list. Eating local fresh produce allows you to not only to appreciate the way your food tastes, but where it came from, and all of the love and labor that when into harvesting it!
  5. Fresher produce. When your fruits and vegetables come from a local farm, you get them sooner because they don’t need to be shipped. Because of this the produce tastes fresher, better, and can be more nutrient rich.
  6. Less pollution caused by shipping produce thousands of miles.
  7. Produce is picked at its peak for ultimate health benefits and flavor since it doesn’t need be sent long distances.
  8. Enjoy your food again. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown makes eating a much more enjoyable event.
  9. Safer food. When you decide which farm to buy your produce from, you have the ability to be fully informed on the chemicals and methods used to produce your food.
  10. Encourages a plant-based diet. We still eat meat occasionally (once or twice a week) but I can’t believe how much better I feel when I am eating a plant-based diet. With our crop share, we get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to inspire our mostly-plant meals! Note: If you simply cannot stand life without meat, choose a farm that offers a Meat Crop Share option! 

What about you? Have you tried a crop share? What about buying your fresh produce locally? What surprising benefits have you experienced by making this easy change?

love & light,

Lena

Hygge Your Home This Autumn

Will and I have been big fans of the “hygge” trend these past few years. If you aren’t sure what hygge is, it is a Danish philosophy about happiness and enjoying the cozy comforts in life. According to The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, the word hygge comes from a Norwegian word for “well-being” and has transformed into a cultural movement embracing comfort and coziness.

I’ve never been a big fan of the colder months here in Michigan, but after Will and I started planning hygge nights and creating a more cozy atmosphere at home,  I have learned to love this time of year a little more. Whenever I think about hygge, autumn and winter are what come to mind immediately.

If you think you could use a little more coziness at home but aren’t sure where to start, here are 10 of our favorite {affordable} ways to create more hygge at home:

  1. candles & soft lighting: candles are a quick way to create that warm cozy feeling. We like to use all natural soy candles made without artificial fragrances, and we’ve even made our own with essential oils before! tip: if you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow open flame, twinkle lights can do wonders.
  2. warm sweaters and socks: it is hard not to think about soft warm knits as fall approaches. Embrace the season and cuddle up in your softest sweater. Bonus points if you can knit them!
  3. hot drinks: it is hard to think of hygge and not think of those warm fall and winter beverages, think hot cocoa, tea, hot toddies, or our favorite, mulled wine.
  4. get outside: the more time we spend outdoors, the more we appreciate getting hygge inside afterward. Take a nice long nature walk to enjoy the colors and then come home and get cozy.
  5. play board games: boardgames are a nice way to spend and evening with family and friends without getting distracted by technology. I think Scrabble is the most hygge board game of all!
  6. cuddle with your pets: we always jokingly call our cat Amelia “hygge cat” because she is so warm and fluffy and loves to snuggle with her humans. She is the cat embodiment of hygge, we’re pretty certain.
  7. make homemade soup or stew: comfort food at its finest.
  8. pillows and blankets: get comfy on the couch, or our favorite thing to do is to build a fort out of pillows and blankets and watch some of our favorite old films.
  9. read your favorite book: we love to read Harry Potter books aloud to each other, but you could enjoy this activity solo too!
  10. baking: we just baked a homemade apple pie and it makes the whole house smell wonderful. Treat yourself to one of your favorites!

I think the thing I love most about getting hygge at home is that it encourages me to be very mindful of my surroundings and appreciate all of the wonderful comforts we have here. Take time to cultivate gratitude for the simple joy of being cozy and enjoy.

love and light,

Lena

zero waste cold brew coffee

It took me a really long time to jump on the cold brew coffee bandwagon. When I first heard about it all I could imagine was how bitter my coffee tastes when it has been sitting out a little too long and is a tepid room temperature. That is probably my least favorite taste. I love coffee when it is hot and I love coffee when it is ice cold, but anything in between is not acceptable.

My recent morning obsession has been a cup of cold brew coffee! I love that I can make a big batch and it’ll stay good all week long in the fridge – that makes my morning rush a lot easier.

This is an awesome zero-waste coffee option for anyone who needs convenience (& caffeine) in the morning too! I use the same glass jar every week, the grounds can be composted, and the cheesecloth can be reused! If you like the idea of cold brew but you like your coffee hot, this brew can be warmed up in the microwave and still tastes amazing!

Have you been wanting to make your own cold brew but haven’t known how to begin? No worries. Here are the simple steps I follow when making my own:

Directions:

  1. Grind your favorite whole bean coffee to a coarse ground. If you don’t enjoy grinding your beans fresh like we do, that’s okay, you can buy in bulk at the grocery store an
  2. d have them coarsely ground there!
  3. Place grounds at the bottom of your glass jar and fill with cold water. You should have a 1 part coffee to 8 parts water ratio, roughly!
  4. Cover jar and shake to combine well.
  5. Let steep in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours – I have let mine go as long at 48 hours before, it makes a strong coffee but I still love it! You can always add more water if it is too strong to enjoy.
  6. Place cheesecloth over the container you plan to store your coffee in and strain coffee into container.
  7. Store in the fridge and enjoy for the next week!

Tip: Carry your coffee in a reusable container and compost your coffee grounds!

Personally I usually drink my cold brew black but occasionally I like to add a little honey or coconut milk. This brewing method is my favorite because it takes all of the acidity out of the coffee but still leaves the bold flavor.

Have you experimented with cold brew at home? What are your favorite variations or ways to dress it up? I would love to hear your suggestions!

love & light

Lena

12 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment Today

Did you know that the first week in September is International Zero Waste Week? We love practicing zero waste routines at home, every little bit counts! We are not a zero-waste household (absolutely NO garbage) yet, but we’ve made lots of small changes over the past couple years to move in that direction!

If you are looking for some easy ways to reduce your waste and help the environment here are some easy tips you could start following this week!

  1. Carry a reusable cup with you all the time.
  2. Use cloth napkins at home instead of paper.
  3. Use rags like old t-shirts or tea towels instead of paper towel!
  4. Say no to plastic straws! Or use a reusable stainless steel or glass straw!
  5. Compost! (We are just starting to explore this and it is a fun adventure!)
  6. Avoid single-use plastic such as plastic utensils, cups, plates, sandwich baggies, etc. I always carry a bamboo fork and spoon in my bag to help with that!
  7. Wrap your food in bee’s wrap instead of plastic.
  8. Buy toilet paper that is packaged in paper instead of plastic!
  9. When shopping online, ask retailers if they can send your package plastic-free. I have had good luck with this.
  10. Always carry a container for leftovers in your car or bag so that when the time comes you don’t need to ask for a to-go box!
  11. Always check an item to see if it is recyclable before tossing it in the trash.
  12. Buy produce that does not come wrapped in plastic, or better yet – grow your own!

These are all easy changes that make a big difference! We have had a lot of luck at home with these practices and it has been fun to challenge ourselves to make more informed choices about our waste. We have a lot of room for improvement so we are doing our best to create NO garbage this week! If you want to make a pledge for Zero Waste Week too, you can do it here! They will send you tips and motivation all week long!

The most important thing when working to reduce your waste is to simply be conscious of your habits. When you are mindful about the choices you are making it becomes very easy to recognize opportunities to make zero waste choices. It all starts with awareness!

Good luck on your Zero Waste journey!

love & light

Lena