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

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

DIY jasmine make-up setting spray

The past few years I have been transitioning to a more natural beauty and skincare routine. Sometimes I make my own products and other times I buy products that I know are made without the use of dangerous chemicals. I have lots of favorite all-natural beauty and skin products but sometimes I just like something I have made myself better. When I’ve made it, I love knowing exactly what has gone into the product that I am absorbing into my skin and bloodstream.

This recipe is for a make-up setting spray that I put on after applying my make-up in the morning. As a teacher I am on the go all day long and have very little time to stop and look in the mirror so I need to know that my make-up is going to stay in place without any touch-ups! This light weight spray takes care of that worry for me and gives me all the peace of mind I need while teaching my tiny humans how to paint!

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Witch Hazel
  • 1 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel (natural, not the bright green stuff)
  • 1 Tbsp Distilled Water
  • 5 drops Jasmine Essential Oil
  • 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 2 oz. glass bottle with spray nozzle

Directions:

  1. Fill 2 oz. glass bottle with 1 tablespoon natural aloe vera gel.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons witch hazel and 1 tablespoon water to fill bottle.
  3. Shake well to mix thoroughly.
  4. Add essential oils and shake again to evenly disperse.
  5. To use: Shake well and spray over freshly applied makeup.

I love using lavender and jasmine essential oils because they smell so lovely. Lavender is also great for your skin to soothe redness and irritation. I use Jasmine for its empowering and confidence-boosting aroma, as well as the fact that it is great for improving dry or dehydrated skin!

I know there are lots of different recipes out there, has anyone tried a different recipe for a DIY setting spray? How do you make yours? I love this one and I hope you to do!

love & light

Lena

All Natural Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

I love making my own bath and beauty products, I think it is a fun way to experiment with all natural living and exploring healthier alternatives to some of the chemical-laden store options out there. I am totally a bath kind of lady.. After a stressful day I think there are very few things out there that feel as good as a long soak in the tub, so many of my favorite recipes happen to be bath products.

This tropical sugar scrub recipe smells so delicious, the coconut and lime aromas make me feel like I am on a beach vacationing somewhere near the equator. I am using it right now because it is summer but I also love to make a batch of this lovely scrub when I am having the Michigan mid-winter stir-crazy blues.

The sugar is a great exfoliator to get rid of dead skin and impurities while the coconut oil is super moisturizing and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth! You can use it in the bath or the shower and the sugar dissolves quickly for easy cleaning. Use this quick and easy recipe to make the sugar scrub whenever you need a little fresh and healthy pick-me-up… or just whenever you feel like it!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 unrefined virgin coconut oil (if you don’t like the smell of coconut you can use refined)
  • 5 drops lime essential oil
  • zest of 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar and coconut oil.
  2. Add lime zest and mix evenly.
  3. Add 5 drops lime essential oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Store in a glass airtight container.(*Note: Remember, citrus oils can cause skin sensitivity to the sun so start small, if you add more than the recommended amount avoid direct sunlight immediately following use.)

I simply love this recipe and even with my super sensitive skin I have no trouble in the sun with the essential oil ratio used. Remember that the temperature of your coconut oil may change the consistency slightly so add more sugar or oil accordingly to get the texture you desire in a scrub! I prefer to use an unrefined coconut oil so I get a heavy coconut scent but you can use refined coconut oil if the smell doesn’t appeal to you.

I hope you enjoy your all natural at-home pampering!

love & light

Lena