9 Things That Have Been Making Me Happy

Lately I have been spending time reflecting on the little things. Those little occurrences that happen in a day end up bringing a whole lot more meaning to my life than big events. I think its important to recognize the things that make you smile, the things that make your heart happy, and the people that bring about all those wonderful feelings. Here are some that have been bringing me happiness:

  1. Brunch dates with my brother

We checked out this place in Nashville called Fido. We decided on breakfast bagel sammies- mine had scrambled eggs, cheese, and veggie sausage! Their iced americano was proabably the strongest coffee I ever did taste.

2. Going to the drive-in

My parents convinced me to go see Wonder Woman, which I was hesitant because action movies aren’t my hype. Glad I went because it turned out being really good! My favorite part was the ride back- my mom and I laid in the back of my dads truck and watched the stars as we drove home.

3. Making someone that I love smile

I surprised my dad with an early Father’s Day gift a couple days beforehand. I got a bunch of his favorite goodies and was just too excited to wait to give it to him. The card I wrote him even got him teary eyed! And yes that is a poblano pepper with lips on a stick…

4. Letters from Cody

Having my boyfriend gone the entire summer at bootcamp is hard. I miss him- but getting cute letters from him really makes my day.

5. Big cereal bowls

Okay, don’t judge but cheerios have been my jam recently. I really love “protein cereal” where you just add some protein powder to your cereal with almond milk, especially chocolate because its like chocolate milk 😉 But I also love it with just some sliced nanners up in there!

6. Morning walks

I have always been the person to get up early to get my workout in first thing. But recently I have been enjoying a slower morning, starting with a nice walk in the park or my neighboorhood instead. Not only because it’s before it’s scorching hot but also because it wakes my body up and I love how quiet it is.

7. Binge watching Netflix

It feels like forever since this series was on and I am taking full advantage of summer break to allow myself to binge watch Netflix series. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

8. Recipe testing!

I have totally been slacking on recipe testing and posting on this blog! Something I want to do more of now that I have time. I made these delicious chocolate peanut butter energy balls the other day. Recipe can be found on my Instagram @emmys.yummys!

9. Feeling confident in my skin

It has taken so many years of trying to fully love myself. I still am working on it daily. But to be able to look in a mirror and not pick myself apart is like a dream come true. I feel free. Choosing recovery is the best decision of my life.

And of course these are just some of the great things I have been appreciating lately. Long phone calls with friends, swimming in my pool on 90 degree days, and waking up to my kitty lying on my tummy brings me joy like no other ❤

So tell me, what/who has been making your life happy lately?

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I know, it’s summertime. And I was craving something pumpkiny- sue me. Haha, but in all honesty, can’t a girl get her pumpkin spice on all year round? Throw in some chocolate chips and peanut butter and you got yourself one damn delicious bread.

Recipe:

  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut protein
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all the dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large bowl and mix until combined. Then add in the wet ingredients and mix together with a mixing spoon. Add in chocolate chips. The batter should be very thick but you can add more milk to loosen. img_3793

Spray a loaf pan and pour in the batter. Bake in oven for about 30-35 minutes depending on your oven and how moist you want it. I personally stuck to the lower end of the cooking time because I was afraid it would dry out. However, when you insert a toothpick in the center it should come out clean!

Somehow I managed to have self control and let it cool 1 hour before cutting or removing it from the tray. I recommend sticking it in the fridge in an airtight container to last you up to a week! (Although I highly doubt it will make it that long)

My favorite way to enjoy this bread is sliced thick and covered with peanut butter… but what else is new? 😉

Tomato Basil Veggie Burgers

Hey, hi, hello there! Wow, quite sometime since I have posted a recipe! Where has the time flown? Finished up my sophomore year of college which left me completely wiped out and I needed a couple weeks of chilling and slothing to feel like I have recuperated. Luckily, I gained some motivation back in the kitchen and assembled the greatest veggie burgers I have made thus far! I also get so STOKED when I take the first bite of something I made and it turns out PHENOMENAL. I bask in my own self glory for a bit and get even more excited to share the recipe with you all! All you need is an oven, a hungry tummy, and hopefully a ripe avocado to top these bad boys 😉

Recipe:

  • 1 15 oz can canellini, black, or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos
  • 1-2 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 flax egg (2 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bake pumpkin seeds and oats for about 7-10 minutes until a little toasty.

Make flax egg and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash beans with a fork or potato masher but leave some beans whole for some consistency. Add in all ingredients except for the oats and pumpkin seeds and stir well.

Fold in the oats and pumpkin seeds and mix until everything is combined. If mixture is too pasty, feel free to add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. Tightly pack into 4-6 patties and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the patties and bake for another 20 minutes.

These have sooo much flavor that I have eaten them just plain as a snack… but if you live on the wild side these are amazing with a bun + all the fixins too! Avocado is the perfect topper for this veggie burger, but I am biased because I could eat avocado for every meal 😉

I also really like added tzatziki sauce, roasted red peppers, hummus, or feta on top for maxed out flavor ❤

Hope you enjoy!

It’s Okay To Struggle

I want to be as honest as I can – I struggle. More often than I would like to admit sometimes. I don’t know why but when my life isn’t going the way I envision it or I am piled with stress from every direction, I can’t help but feel a fog come over me. As many of you may know that I used to deal with eating issues, I can gladly say I have that under control completely. I never let my negative feelings interfere with how or what I choose to eat. However, I am one to struggle with overwhelming anxiety and sometimes depressing thoughts…

Today I was sitting in my room and really thought to myself, “my life has no purpose”. I started crying after that because the immense feelings of rejection and loneliness hit me like a bag of cats. Emotional much? Yes. Because I am naturally an introvert, it is so easy for me to spend the entire day by myself without a problem. But when it becomes day after day, I can’t help but feel empty. Now, don’t get me wrong- I become a total extrovert when I am finally around my friends or a group of people, but with a lot of emotional self-image issues I have been dealing with lately, I haven’t even had the motivation to reach out to others.

I do see the problem here- I’m too comfortable being alone. And this is something that I have to change. There is nothing wrong with spending some time with yourself, but there comes a point you have to balance it out, let loose, and be around those that bring you joy.

I have made goals for myself to hang out with my friends at least every other day this week and to even talk to random strangers every day. Sometimes even the smallest conversations with others can make the biggest difference in the course of the day.

I wiped my tears. I will stop feeling sorry for myself. I will not let my negative self-image hold me back from being the REAL me. Because I realize that the more I surround myself with genuine people that make me laugh, all the other stuff becomes quiet. And I can breathe again. My life does indeed have purpose. God does have a plan for me even if I cannot see it yet. I will have faith ❤

“Comfort zones are great places to be, but nothing ever grows there.”

Fuel YOUR Fitness

Do you like lifting heavy things? How about running til your feet hurt? Or how about a spontaneous hike with your friends? All of these wonderful ways of moving your body require something very essential: FUEL.

It isn’t uncommon that I see athletes under-fueling themselves and wondering why they aren’t making the progress they want as fast. That’s because our bodies run primarily on glycogen! And where does that come from exactly? CARBOHYDRATES. And since carbohydrates are the fastest form of energy, they are essential for every living thing. Our brains alone need at LEAST 130g of carbs a day! So can you imagine how much you actually need if you are trying to lift 200 lbs or run to China and back?….A LOT.

When the body doesn’t have enough glycogen stores in the muscles and the liver, the body then turns to fat stores instead.And when there are not enough fat stores, protein from muscles are used as energy which is NOT healthy as it can lead to heart problems and even death. While using up fat stores may seem ideal for an overweight individual to lose weight, I would never recommend a super low-carb diet to anyone. It all comes down to the types of foods you are choosing to fuel your body with. Growing, healthy young adults need not to compare their needs to someone of that context as their needs are going to be different.

For me personally, I like to get my early morning workout in before breakfast or sometime in the morning. I never train fasted because I have found that my energy is way more sustained throughout my workout if I at least have a small snack beforehand.

These are some easy pre-workout snack ideas that I enjoy:

  • 2 rice cake with peanut butter/jelly
  • GoMacro vegan bars, Larabars, RX bars, really any little energy bar 😉
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with nut butter + banana
  • Dates with nut butter (can you see a trend here, haha, i’m nutty)
  • Protein smoothie with frozen banana, scoop of plant-based protein powder, cinnamon, ground flaxseed, maca powder, and sometimes cacao powder!
  • My almond butter chocolate chip energy balls
  • A few slices of cold cinnamon baked sweet potato that I usually bake the night before and stick in the fridge (aka perfection)
  • Coconut water
  • Cereal + fruit+ almond milk + MRM vegan cinnamon bun protein (right now I am loving Kashi cinnamon crumble cereal, Kashi dark chocolate karma wheat biscuits, Peanut butter puffins, and the ever so classic Cheerios!)


Really think about combing a good source of carbohydrates before with a little fat/protein to keep you from having a blood sugar crash mid workout. Having something small like in the list above 30-45 minutes before a workout is just enough time for it to digest a little to power you through!

And of course after, follow the same guidelines of eating a good quality source of carbohydrates with protein for muscle synthesis and a little fat. Personally, I love having a big breakfast to start my day and to keep my energy lasting so I don’t have the “afternoon slump”.

I have learned something about myself over the years of trail and error and that is to not ever compare your needs to someone else’s. Some people can do a fasted workout no problem, however, from what I have researched- the stress hormone, cortisol, is the highest in the morning. Eating in the morning helps lower cortisol levels which can help some who have hormonal imbalances. I strongly believe that healthy hormones play a huge role in the overall well-being of the body and I will do all it takes to keep it that way.

So tell me,

How do YOU fuel your fitness?

I Don’t Need A Label

I’m just going to jump right into this because it’s something I have been wanting to get off my chest. As most of you know I made the change to a completely vegan lifestyle in September 2016. You can read about that here. While I feel like this was exactly what I wanted to do for my body and for animals, I am trying to decide if this is exactly what I need to do right now….

Having recovered from a restrictive eating disorder, I know I am in a place now where I would never put that stress on my body ever again. However, I will admit that sometimes I do still feel restricted from certain things if it’s not 100% vegan. I think back to my life before I went vegan, before my eating disorder, heck even before puberty when I was completely carefree about everything. I want that again. Not saying I have been cutting back on my intake because I actually got myself to gain some weight being vegan, but I did it in ways that was a lot harder to do than if I had eaten some animal products.

I still truly believe a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest ways to live, but I do not want to feel like I have to live up to a certain standard just so I can label myself as “vegan”. Food should not have that much control over anyone…. its just food.

I was nervous about posting this out of fear of judgement from other vegans, but I really don’t care anymore. I do not need a label. I don’t need to live under anyone else’s standards either. If I get judgement from my choice, that doesn’t make you a better person. I just want to be happy. Completely happy. And as a college student it’s sometimes really hard to find a 100% vegan option when out with friends or at a social event. In that case I don’t want to be the only one left hungry and missing out on fun times because I couldn’t eat something that wasn’t completely vegan.

You have to do what is right for you. Doesn’t matter if you choose to be vegan, paleo, gluten free, whatever… we are all still human and food shouldn’t be super stressed out about. I will decide what is right for me. That being said, if something I eat has a little dairy or egg in it, it’s okay. No one should care so much what I choose to do anyways. I still don’t want to eat meat and that’s a personal decision of mine.

Shout out to Jen’s video for inspiring me to speak out ❤ She says it perfectly.

Afterthought, I would one day love to post videos of me talking instead of just blog posts but I find myself so camera awkward that I don’t think I could handle it hahah. But if anyone has any thoughts I am all ears!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Balls

I just posted the recipe on my Instagram page (@lil.emmy97) this week! I obviously had to make it official and put it on my blog so I never forget it 🙂 

I enjoy having these right before a early morning workout because I’m usually not really hungry first thing in the morning. These are also great after a workout because it has a nice balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats! With the ground flaxseed, chia seeds, and almonds- these suckers are full of both omega 3’s and 6’s which are both important for a healthy diet. 

Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 60g rolled oats
  • 1 scoop vega vanilla protein & greens protein powder
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed 
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 3 T. blue agave syrup 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1-2 T. Enjoy life foods dark chocolate chips 
  • Just a little bit of water to loosen- but not too much or else you will lose the thickness!

Just mix all ingredients together in a bowl and form into 15 balls!

My whole family and I loved them so this recipe will for sure be continuously used 😉

What is your favorite little snack?

Vegan Banana Date Bread

The last time I made my vegan pumpkin bread, I received a suggestion from my dad. He thought it would be yummy to add some chopped dates to the bread for extra sweetness. So I found myself bored out of my mind the other day as the weather was gloomy and cold. No motivation to study Chem anymore so naturally I started procrastibaking. But this series of procrastibaking turned into something very productive because this recipe rocked my fuzzy socks off!

I was originally planning to bake the same pumpkin bread as last time but we had a lot of ripe bananas that had to be used so I tried modifying the recipe. Instread of using pumpkin, I subbed extra banana for extra natural sweetness. Keeping my dad’s request in mind, threw in those dates 🙂

Recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 oz. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 T. agave or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ground ginger
  • about 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates

First, mix ground flax into a large bowl and add 4 Tbsp. water and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add mashed banana, applesauce, agave and whisk.

Next, add baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and 1/2 cup water and whisk again.

In another bowl, combine the oat flour, oats and almond meal. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully combined. Then throw in the chopped dates and stir.

Pour into a parchment lined loaf pan and bake at 375 F for about 40 minutes and a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Allow to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge!

This bread is lightly sweetened because it contains no refined sugar, if you like things really sweet you can try adding any sweetener you would like but I don’t think it needed it!

As you can see, anything can be topped with peanut butter for good measure 😉

 

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Mugcake

Before becoming vegan, I used to eat a lot of those protein packed mugcakes for snacks. But I thought, how could I still make a satisfying mugcake without the whey protein and egg? Actually a lot simpler than you think! I don’t even remember how I came up with this delicious treat but it sure did come out perfectly!

mugcake

You don’t need eggs to make a fluffy mugcake. All you need is a moist substance like mashed banana, ground flaxseed, pumpkin… in this case I used applesauce! Made this mugcake really soft and added a little sweetness too ❤

Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup (50g) oat flour + 2 Tbsp. oats
  • 3 oz. unsweetened applesauce
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • enough almond milk to make a batter (about 3 oz.)
  • *optional: sweetener of choice (I used english toffee liquid stevia)

First, mix together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Then stir in the wet and mix until well combined. Microwave about one minute until cooked through. Microwave times will vary depending on the size of the bowl. Sometimes, I have to cook a little longer but I actually don’t mind a little mushiness in the middle (preference). Make sure you don’t cook for too long or else it could dry out and you’ll just be sad. I love to top with some kind of nut butter and fruit! You could also add in dates, ground flaxseed, or other mix-ins to the batter and it would still come out nice.

Delicious little snack to have before bed or for a small breakfast! Like eating a pancake in a bowl 😉

If you give it a try, lemme know what you think!

(sorry not sorry for the picture quality, the only one I have haha)

Weekly Recap: Being More Mindful

Is it just me or has this year completely flown by? I mean it’s November now but just last week it was 80 degrees… Definitely took me by surprise when I woke up this morning to 40 degree chills. Just wanted to share my completely mindful, intuitive, stress-free weekend with you all! If you know me well enough you would know I am the biggest planner… but sometimes it’s good to not plan but just go with the flow. You never know what kind of stuff you’ll find yourself doing!

My friend, Jenny and I tried a hot yoga class for the first time. I don’t normally sweat, like EVER, but sweet Jesus, there was sweat droplets flying off! Never have I ever been this drenched, even Jenny who is a runner said this was the most she sweat. The class wasn’t too difficult itself as far as the poses because I am overall pretty flexible… but because it was over 100 degrees I’d say that changes things.

After yoga (and a much needed shower), we found a park. Then we had a picnic on it and talked about life for a while because we just deep like that 😉

Please applaud my dearest friend’s parking. She tried.

But apparently if you do this so often, you get letters from fellow humans from the back of a condom package….

Twas a really relaxing Saturday. Not stressing about finals or even tomorrow’s troubles. Just being present and enjoying the day.

On Sunday, I was visited by my parents. Cannot emphasize enough how blessed I am to have them. They literally make my day anytime they come because family means everything to me. Oh, and they buy me food which is a perk 🙂

I usually have a hard time with last minute things but I got together with a group of people and went bowling to celebrate the end of America on Election Day. We had no class sometimes you just gotta make the best out of a rainy day. Fun fact: I was better at bowling when I was 10.

Overall, I am getting better at trusting life’s curve balls and making the most of tough situations. It helps when I laugh at myself but sometimes it isn’t enough. I laugh, I cry because I am not perfect and not every day will be. I think one of the most interesting things about life is that we all have inner demons but all of it can be forgotten when you surround yourself with the ones that make you feel good.

 

Who in your life are YOU thankful for?

Have you tried hot yoga before?