Absolutely delicious chocolate mousse pudding

In need of a quick dessert for the Thanksgiving table? Have no fear! Vegan chocolate mousse pudding is here!!

It’s made with my favorite ingredient ever ….avocado! 🥑 I know what you may be thinking but look at this beauty… 😍

(Oh and it has been picky sweet tooth Father-in- law approved! 😏)

What You’ll Need

2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup of organic unsweetened cacao powder

1/4-1/2 cup of maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it. I used 1/4 and it was sweet enough to me)

1/2 cup of non-dairy milk (I️ recommend almond or coconut milk)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Optional: 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries to blend in or use for garnish

1/4 cup of mint leaves to blend in or use for garnish

Nuts for garnish

What To Do

1. Blend together all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

2. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Enjoy! 😋😉

Sweet Potatoes for dessert… who knew? 😏

I would have never believed it if I didn’t try it for myself– sweet potatoes make a damn good brownie! 😋

I’ve read about mishaps with sweet potato brownie recipes, and I was so hesitant to try it when the delicious smell filled my kitchen, but 🤷🏼‍♀️

… loved it!

It will make a great addition to the vegan Thanksgiving desert table next week! Bonus, it can be made with left over sweet potatoes and you won’t feel so bad when the kids OD on brownies 😂

Let me know how yours come out!

Sweet Potato Brownies
I
f cooked and chopped sweet potatoes

  • 1 cup of peanut or almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of organic, melted virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1+ cup of dark chocolate chips (I️ used Enjoy Life’s chocolate chips)

To make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix up a flax egg with the ground flaxseed and water. Set aside while you whip up the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Using a food processor, blend all the other ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  4. Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
  5. Grease a rectangular pan and pour the mixture in being sure to top generously with more chocolate chips!
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie 🎃

I️ love pumpkins just as much as the next basic babe, but PSL are just too sweet for me! (and filled with things you’d never want to put in your body anyway!) Here is a quick and easy recipe for some pumpkin spice goodness!

Did you know pumpkins have lots of vitamin A- essential for cell renewal & repair, keeps your skin glowing and an important immune booster? Clearly no coincidence that pumpkins are best at a time of the year people need an immune boost! 😜🙃

Also- those little seeds inside…. AMAZING nutritional perks! Copper (supports healthy skin, hair & nails!), Iron (strong hair & nails, necessary for red blood cell production & energy), Magnesium (calms nervous function & muscles), Phosphorus (supports strong teeth, bones & immune system and helps maintain electrolyte balance), & Zinc (fights inflammation & redness, collagen formation & tissue healing) .

Convinced of pumpkin goodness yet? 😏

Enjoy!

* Please, Please note: always use non- BPA lined cans when using any canned products!

1 can of chilled organic light coconut milk

3 organic bananas (I️ used frozen)

3/4 cup of PURE organic pumpkin purée (do not use mix)

1 tablespoon organic real maple syrup

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract

Optional: Pumpkin seeds and cinnamon for garnish (and a delicious bonus!😋)

1. Blend bananas until they crumble in the blender, the add the coconut milk. Blend again until smooth.

2. Add all the rest of the ingredients and blend together until smooth.

3. Top with pumpkin seeds & cinnamon, if desired. ENJOY!

It’s all temporary…

As I was walking our Catskills property, I was noticing the foliage more than usual. The changing of the leaves, the shape of the trees- I had this momentary longing to remember what the property looked like in the summer and winter seasons. In the same thought, my mind quickly snapped back to the present foliage. No use in thinking behind and ahead– there’s so much right in front of me. (A thought pattern that I’ve been retuning to a lot since having a baby. Never wanting to rush ahead or long for what was since in that blink of an eye, she’s not the age I left her at!)

The word “temporary” kept running through my head. Non-stop. Temporary..temporary… temporary. It’s a term that doesn’t have much weight in life because well, it’s temporary. It’s fleeting. It won’t stay.

But … what does?

I’ve been getting a lot of shit from people who ask me “when are you going to buy a house?” “You have a kid now… you’re going to need more space!” And to that, me and Jason bought a weekend property and started to build a tiny house! 😂 We can’t handle being told what to do, I suppose. Especially when it’s a matter of materialistic things. We have enough room for us and our lifestyle where we’re living now.

It always circles back to this idea: we just don’t want anything permanent.

Don’t get me wrong, when we got married & had a baby -we meant permanent business! But the whole concept of working your whole life to acquire stuff and more stuff, then needing to work more to maintain that stuff, just sounds insane to me. This idea of so much freaking stuff is literally choking me as I type these words.

I used to have to change my whole closet out seasonally because I had so many clothes. Then one day after not having the time to change all my seasonally inappropriate attire out, my sweater and I got sick of being worn in the middle of August & I threw out all of my clothes until everything I owned fit into my closet. And I haven’t stopped throwing things out since…

The idea of a tiny house is not at all daunting to me. It’s freedom. Freedom from things and places. It allows us to be in nature more. It allows us to be with each other. Because here’s the thing: WE are temporary.

If my husband read those words he would say to me “That’s morbid Kar…” but I know he would understand my complete thoughts here. We are all just living our lives on this spinning rock with no effin’ clue as to what comes next or what we’re doing here! We spend our whole lives being so damn serious about these jobs and bank accounts and “grown up” decisions that are staying put on this spinning rock when we die. They literally mean nothing. Some may call me naive but the truth is, I won’t let my fear be bigger than my faith. Faith that there’s more to being here than the BS and drama we have filled our lives with.

Our time with the ones we love isn’t forever. There’s a reason & a season and then- things change. The realization of “temporary” isn’t to be sappy or morbid but to snap us back to this present moment. Take the time to just revel in its beauty and feel it deep in our soul.

I believe deeply in health and wellness. Not so much because of what it physically makes us look like but because it nourishes our soul when we’re feeling good physically. The physical body will die someday but our souls and our presence we made here with our time on earth– THAT, my friends, is the whole. freaking. point. Everything is temporary…except your soul.

What are those material things doing for you after you’re gone? You can’t enjoy those things forever. I’ll be the biggest hypocrite here and ask if obtaining degrees and certifications are worth denying your soul of its purpose? To some, I’m sure the education sets their souls on fire & to the life long students: keep it going. But I truly wonder about the motives for the things that we do? Unless you’re doing something consistently and ruthlessly that makes you feel complete… you’re truly wasting your time.

I think your moments deserve every last piece of something you really love. Appreciate all the people that surround you and get rid of everything you own so that nothing distracts you from your present. Set your soul on fire every damn day because nourishing your soul will be the only thing that will remain and the only thing you are actually taking with you…

A journey towards health

I have to be honest, sitting down to write this post has been no easy task. I literally cringe thinking back and feel a sadness for the girl I was. A lot of insecurities are sitting in the following words and for a while I thought it was possible to become a health coach without fully telling my story from start to finish. There would be a dishonesty in pretending that I was always a healthy, exercise loving girl or that getting to a healthy place in mind and body were easy. It wasn’t- and it is still a balancing act some days- but shedding some light on my truths is something I feel like I have to do in order to help others and finalize my own healing in so many ways. So here goes…

I remember as far back as grammar school thinking that my body wasn’t good enough. This is where my relationship to food became pretty skewed.  I used to create “meal plans” and exercise routines for myself- of which I could never actually stick to- and would feel guilty for it. I would gather old magazines and create vision boards of “fitspo” inspiration. I was a dancer and loved the idea of my body maybe one day magically changing into these long, lean muscles that could move in these graceful manners. Instead, my body was often greeted with painful hips and knees when moving in those ways.

At 12 years old, I loved the idea of being “the tiny one”- and I was, but never felt it. My mother used to complain about her body and at other times say things like “Sorry Kar- you got my body!” Although I don’t think her words were intentional, it made me realize that if her body wasn’t nice, and we had the same body type, then my body wasn’t nice. Not to mention, my older sister was the ultimate tall and skinny Barbie- opposite of me completely. My 5’4″ body just never measured up to my “ideal body.”

Fast forward to high school, I started my freshman year at around 85-90lbs. I remember my guy friend teasing me about wearing a bra at all and insinuating that my bras must be super padded. (oh, they were!)  Being older and having a bit more freedom meant a lot of time spent out with friends. We went to cafes, diners, fast food places, pizza, ice cream and of course, like most teenagers, alcohol. This partying also meant less sleep and pretty much no physical exercise at all. Needless to say, my metabolism kept me slim but by NO means healthy at all. I was often bloated, tired, had migraines and suddenly started developing reactions to foods I was eating without ever realizing what was happening. When you feel like crap most days, it becomes your baseline and so you don’t notice when the little signs are creeping up.

By the time college came, I was literally in my own bubble with zero awareness of what I was physically doing to my body. Up all night partying, school and work all day- eating out constantly. To make matters worse, my physical body wasn’t the only thing that was under a lot of stress. My emotional and mental well being weren’t in the best place either. My step father had the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and was in a very depressed state. During this time he had attempted suicide a few times and my reality when I went home at night was really scary. I never knew who I was getting, if he had a good day or a bad day, if he was upset with me over something trivial or was happy I was home. Worst of all, never knowing if I would find him alive or not. This anxiety caused me to pick up more shifts at work than necessary, find things to do to be out of the house, more partying, more escape from reality. It caused a lot of turmoil with all relationships around me- my family, my friends and my boyfriend.

I was managing a children’s gym and teaching about 18 classes a week when things started crashing down around me, one at a time. I had to move out of my house for my sanity, I had relationships problems with just about everyone around me, including myself, and my body literally felt like I was 100 years old. One after another, abnormal symptoms started to appear. I felt like I was walking around in a fog, felt “ADHD” like- never being able to wrap my head around anything before having to concentrate on the next thought, my stomach was bloated all.of.the.damn.time, my joints hurt, my face broken out and my energy level was so low it was scary. Really scary. My friend suggested that I try going gluten free for a while, just to see how I felt. And WHOA did it make a world of difference for my energy, joints and mind! I was gluten free for 3 or 4 years when I noticed how bad nuts made me feel- particularly almonds. Then I would have random reactions to fruits such as bananas. It seemed like everything I ate made my stomach bloat and cause this sharp, shooting pain. So I put gluten back into my diet figuring small doses wouldn’t make me feel any worse than I’m already feeling.

I was at a really low point with no hope to feeling better and no idea where to turn to next. I knew my body wasn’t responding to foods the way it should or the way it used to. I ended up contacting an allergist who administered a prick test on my back for any reactions to common foods I was eating. As he walked back into the room a few minutes later, he laughed and said “You may need to start eating meat my dear, because with the looks of this test, I’m not quite sure what you can eat anymore.” (Yah, any little hope I had of finding out the root cause that day-SQUASHED!)

The test showed I was reacting to 58 things that I ate pretty regularly. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, chocolate, dairy, wheat– you name it! (He didn’t actually test me for meat since I had been a vegetarian for so long, there was no chance that any sort of meat would have caused the reaction in my body.) My body was in full on FREAK OUT mode and totally inflamed. I spent the next few months on an elimination diet. Every few days putting new foods back into my diet after an initial 2 week cleanse of every food that I reacted to except for almonds and tree nuts. (I was told that my levels were a bit too high to safely put those back in without complete supervision.) To this day, I don’t eat any tree nuts.

The elimination diet gave me so much insight into how my body was reacting to things and the most amazing thing to come of it was realizing how GOOD I was supposed to feel! I had felt like complete crap for SO long that I didn’t even realize what feeling good felt like. This experience completely changed my perspective on how the body works and with that, my obsession with nutrition and wellness was born.

It started with myself. I re-ignited my yoga practice I had abandoned during this time of madness and dove head first into learning more about yoga philosophy. I enrolled in my first yoga teacher training. I also started to research the hell out of my condition and what caused my body to react like this. Stress, poor self care, not enough nutritious food, perhaps too many antibiotics over the years (I had a bad kidney infection as a child that caused me to be hospitalized and was given antibiotics for nearly a year afterwards)- the list could go on and on. But at this point, I stopped counting the items on it and started to turn to healing.

During this time, I realized how much inquiry I was getting from friends and coworkers about what I was eating, how I was feeling, my energy levels, how to help their issues, etc. In true “out of balance” Karen fashion- I quit my Masters’ program (that I was really close to completing, by the way 🤦🏼‍♀️) and dove head first into a health coaching certificate at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. BEST DECISION I’VE EVER MADE!

Perhaps because it was the first thing I ever did strictly for myself (I asked no ones opinion before enrolling & didn’t tell a lot of people for a while either) but this program changed my life. It not only pointed a positive direction for my career but it pointed out all of the areas I needed to work on for me, without the shaming that comes a long with “accountability” type programs. I was excited to do homework & couldn’t wait for the next week of work. Isn’t that how school should be?! I’ve learned how to calibrate and recalibrate my life to achieve my perfectly unbalanced balance. I’ve learned that pumping the brakes is necessary some times but so is completely diving in. The good, the bad, the messy and the beautiful- this journey was worth it.

So now, I’m on a mission. I’m fighting for a pure, clean, honest & safe life for my family and myself. And now, for other people as well. My honest truth is that I don’t want to be another health coach who is going to give you endless amount of pretty pictures recipes with ingredients you don’t know much about or where to buy. I don’t want to give you a diet plan. I want to show you the beauty in the simplicity of a good life. I want you to find your balance with your health and mind. I want you to not only look good but more so, feel good!

I’m on this mission to spread the idea that balance is this insane notion to be played with- not achieved.

My wellness journey may have started with me but it’s shifting towards everyone else now & I couldn’t be more excited for what comes next!

Lessons of life & death

As I sit in the cool calm of the Adirondack Mountains, sipping on my warm tea, it hits me… When I go home, my little fur ball friend isn’t going to be there to greet me.

My rabbit, Puffy, had passed away on August 29th. He was almost 11 years old. To say my heart is broken would just be an understatement.

Now I know what you’re thinking… it is just a rabbit.

But have you ever met one of those animals that just had something special about them? Yep, that was Puffy.

He was a little more like a dog than rabbit & had been a little buddy of mine since I was quite literally a child. We grew up together, moved around together, and went through a lot of heartbreak and joys. He loved to cuddle and give kisses, was picky about what food he got and loved to get on my yoga mat with me. He never had a door to his cage yet liked his carpeted areas nearby, never causing any sort of worry about chewing on things he shouldn’t be. When we’d travel in the car, he got too anxious in a carrier, but sat perfectly still and content on my lap. The vet had told me the day before he passed,

“Puffy is literally the smartest and most compassionate rabbit I have ever come across in my career.”

It was so, so hard to say goodbye to the little guy who was my baby before my baby.

 

In the silent moments up here, my mind began to think back to the end of the summer last year. I couldn’t help but think of the duality of life and death. Last year, almost to the day of Puff’s passing this year, I found out that I was pregnant with Lily.

One of the first signs that I was pregnant was Puff’s behavior. He seemed a bit clingier and often would sit on my belly instead of near my neck nuzzled the way he used to. He would start to nip at my clothes, almost like he wanted to move them. When I would, he would kiss my belly. As I got bigger, he would fall asleep along side or on top of my belly and wait for her to kick. When she would, he would jump over the area she kicked and kiss it. It was the most heartbreakingly adorable thing ever.

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When she was born, he would kiss the top of her head or try to climb into her seat with her. If I was in the other room and heard her crying, I’d rush in to see him stretching up next to her on his hind legs to check if she was okay. If I left anything on the floor that smelled like her, I knew I would find him sitting right on top of it.

I started noticing the signs of something not right with him around the end of April, when Lily was born. I was juggling recovering from a rough birth, having my fist newborn and running him back & forth to the vet. At first the vet thought allergies and put him on children’s Benadryl. Then it progressed to a cough and it was antibiotics. Then we noticed he wasn’t hopping around like he used to- a laser treatment for a degenerated disk in his back. He still had his wits about him though, eating and drinking despite the coughing/ sneezing that came with it. Then he started to lose fur. I don’t mean the slight shedding rabbits normally do, I mean big time– bald patches everywhere. Then I got the actual diagnosis,

… there was a tumor in his chest that was causing all of the symptoms.

When talking about his health one day to a family member, I mentioned how it seemed to have started after Lily was born. I secretly wondered if somehow I was slipping on how well I was taking care of him. She said to me, “Think about it this way… maybe he has been suffering and didn’t want to show you since he knew Lily wasn’t here yet. Maybe he needed to know that you had her and it would be ok for him to let go.”

It broke my heart and all at the same time made perfect sense. This rabbit was also the last living piece I had to my stepfather who had passed away 5 years ago.

Maybe it is my need to believe, but I tend to feel my step father’s presence around me still, and I especially felt it in all of those bunny kisses. Of course he would want to meet Lily! Of course he would be excited! Of course he would love her! I had to let go of my step father with the same reservation I had with Puff- “in no way do I ever, ever want to lose you, but the suffering is way beyond my capacity to make you comfortable.”

This life/death duality hurts SO bad to process but all at the same time gives me such a peace. Feeling it all is by far a necessary component to healing from each loss. In my case, with every loss I didn’t properly process, it came back hurting more so in the next loss.

I’ve learned how important it is to surrender. Each time I thought I surrendered, I had more to do. So I keep surrendering and keep reminding myself that there is a plan much bigger than mine. Whether you believe in God, the Universe, spirits, Mother Earth- it is bigger than you and I and what happens is not in our control. The lesson in surrendering is the same.

My job now is to appreciate every little thing I’m given- the good and the bad. There are lessons in both. This whole experience was a reminder that all these beautiful things in life aren’t ours to keep. It is all temporary and cannot be taken for granted.

I have one focus now- this beautiful baby girl. She isn’t mine either. I have her for a short time, and it is flying by! There will never be enough time, never the “right” time, but when she is ready, she’ll be spreading her wings and becoming who she is- and I’ll have to surrender in that time as well.

Love, let go, surrender, learn, and repeat

A bit of Paradise with Papaya

Whenever I eat papaya, I instantly feel like I’m sitting on a beach in Hawaii. Since papaya isn’t grown locally for me, I forget how much I love it until I make the point of buying it & pop one of those bad boys open.

Besides transporting me to a sandy beach, there are more reasons to love this fruit. Papaya is not only low in calories but packs a punch with the amount of fiber it contains and is a great source of beta carotene, folate, and vitamins A, C and E!

Don’t throw away those seeds either!! There are tons of benefits to these icky looking seeds.

Papaya seeds contain an anti-parasitic property called carpaine and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive system aiding with IBS, constipation, ulcers, indigestion, acid reflux, and even cramps during that time of the month! High levels of oleic and palmitic acids in the seeds are believed to help protect your body against cancer and aid in detoxifying and strengthening the liver and kidneys. Flavanoids found in the seeds are said to help boost the immune system.

PLEASE NOTE: I have seen warnings against taking papaya seeds during pregnancy and for breastfeeding mamas- so make sure you consult your doctor before starting a papaya seed supplement or making papaya seeds a part of your daily routine.

In the mean time, enjoy that papaya with some lime juice squeezed on top or whip up one of the recipes below…

 

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