Perfect Pork Chops

Like most Paleo eaters, I typically stick to meat & veggies for dinner. To keep it from getting boring, I like to try different types and cuts of meat, and pair with seasonal veggies. 

Sometimes cooking meat can be scary- at least for me. I get a little nervous (especially with thicker cuts) that I'm going to undercook it. However, I also don't want to overcook the meat & dry it out. Through trial & error, I have come up with some magic equations that equal perfectly cooked cuts of meat. With this recipe, you can have a thick, juicy cut of meat~ worry-free.

How to Avoid Food Temptation

The holiday season is full of delicious feasts & treats just waiting to throw you off course when it comes to healthy heating. Of course, we should all allow ourselves a little splurge here & there~ it is the holidays after all. However, for me personally... I know that if I splurge all season long, I'm gong to pay the consequences. I see a major difference in my skin, mood, & energy levels (not to mention the fit of my clothes) if I let my eating habits get off track.

Cranberry Almond Muffins {Paleo}


In one of my recent trips to Trader Joe's, I spotted a large display of fresh cranberries. I love their tart flavor, especially in baked goods, so I decided to pick some up. Since cranberries have a short season, I would recommend grabbing some if you see them, and freezing for later use.

Grateful

So, I know that Thanksgiving is over. Most people have moved on & their focus is now on Christmas & presents & so on... but I'm a little behind over here. I'm still stuck on thankful.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate {Paleo}

It's snowing! ... yup, in California :)

It's Saturday, so I will be home studying & getting chores done all day. And as long as I don't have to be out in it (or shoveling it or something), I love the snow. 

With all of this wintery weather and Christmas right around the corner, I can feel a major shift in the air.... Pumpkin Spice season is over, & it is now all about the Peppermint Hot Chocolate. :)

If you're not up for the sugar overload following most recipes for this cozy drink, you've got to try out my paleo-friendly version. 

I swapped out the sugary syrups for all-natural, unrefined coconut sugar & mixed it with coconut milk and rich cocoa powder to make a perfect drink for the holiday season. Stir a little peppermint extract in, & you've got a real treat. I love how the warm rich flavors of the cocoa are contrasted with the cool taste of peppermint... so good!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites {Paleo}

Everyone loves homemade chocolate chip cookies... but sometimes the best part is eating the dough, right? These chocolate chip cookie dough bites are perfect, since they're made to be eaten straight from the bowl. Cookie dough free of eggs & with good-for-you ingredients~ what could be better!?

I was inspired to create this recipe after I had seen several on Pinterest for "no-bake cookie dough", but made mine to meet Paleo standards. These aren't full of sugar, flour or butter... instead they're packed with nuts, lightly sweetened with honey, and laced with chocolate. They're very Paleo-friendly, and free of dairy, gluten, soy, and processed sugar.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Pecans (Paleo)

Here's a simple, delicious side dish idea- perfect for Thanksgiving, or any time of year! This recipe combines warm fall flavors in a delicious way you can feel good about~ packed with fiber & vitamin A. Now sweet potatoes taste amazing all on their own, but when combined with cinnamon & pecans... they are so much better.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins | Paleo


There's something so comforting about warm baked goods first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, especially on a chilly weekend.  Muffins remind me of home and my mom and a cozy, yummy-smelling house.

Unfortunately, muffins are typically not your friend - especially the ones that taste REAL good (I'm looking at you Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffin...)  

Vanilla Coconut Coffee Creamer (Paleo)




One big question I've heard from several people gone Paleo is, "What should I put in my coffee?". With all of the "amazing" flavored lattes and sinful frappuccino creations out there in the world, it's hard to find Paleo-friendly options. Of course you can always opt for straight black coffee, but I guess I'm not grown up enough for that yet! ;)

What I Bought: Trader Joe's II

I went to Trader Joe's! I stocked up on some essentials & picked up a few new things to try, too. Here's what I got!
Pantry Items

Foolproof Oven Bacon

Buying fully-cooked bacon is a great idea to keep things simple during the week. But when it's the weekend & you've got a little extra time for breakfast~ it's a great treat to make the 'real deal'. 

Cooking bacon can be a big, messy pain in the you-know-what, but it doesn't have to be. Pop it in the oven & let it do its thing for about 20 minutes... that's all it takes. It makes for super easy clean-up & comes out perfect every time. Plus, no babysitting the stove! 

This is also a great way to save some bacon fat for cooking later, without all the burnt bits or mess from a pan. I'm sure this bacon method isn't a brand new concept for most of you, but for those who haven't tried it, you should! 

You can also stop the oven a couple of minutes early, freeze or refrigerate the bacon, & use it as you would "fully-cooked" bacon throughout the week... Just microwave for about 30 seconds to crisp it up.

Pumpkin Spiced Paleo Granola

Healthy eating at mealtime is pretty simple~ stick to meat & veggies and you're good. Snacks can be a little tougher. I usually go for things like raw veggies, Larabars, or trail mix, but it's fun to have something a little different. 

This recipe doubles as a healthy snack & a tasty dessert. It's even good for breakfast. It's perfectly sweet & tastes like a cookie crumble! 

Most granola is over-processed and full of sugar, but this is one you can feel good about indulging in. I use nuts and coconut instead of oats and grains to create the bulk of my granola. Then I replaced the sugar and unnatural binders with honey & coconut oil. No flavor is lost here, it actually tastes better. Any combination of nuts would work, these are just some of my favorites that I had on hand! I also really recommend the Pumpkin Pie Spice from Trader Joe's~ it's inexpensive for a large amount with no additives. 

October Beauty Favorites

Before starting my own blog, I read other people's blogs. Beauty, hair, makeup, lifestyle, fashion, food, home decor, health- you name it. No matter what the topic, I love reading about others' thoughts and seeing what they care about enough to share with the internet world. 

One type of post that I always look forward to (especially from beauty bloggers) is their "monthly favorites". It's fun to see what products have stood out to other people throughout the month, and to see how those products change as the seasons shift. These types of posts are typically found on "beauty blogs", and are popular on YouTube as well. 

Although I'm not a beauty blogger, & I don't do YouTube, I thought I would join in on the fun & share some of my own favorites. Recipes are always my favorite things to share here on my blog~ I love food & sharing healthy tips with people. However, I love makeup & beauty products & all of those girly things, too! So, I figure I will share all of my loves here in one place. 

This post is dedicated to my monthly favorites from the beauty world. Let me know what you think, & plan on seeing more of these to recap each month! :)


What I Ate: Healthy on the Go

I know it can be hard to make healthy food choices. I also know that busy schedules and lack of time make it even harder. Believe me- the last thing I want to do when I get home at 10 pm is prepare breakfast, lunch, & dinner for the next day. But, guess what? I've been doing it! & I know you can too! That extra bit of time at the end of the day is SO worth it. I know I wouldn't have the stamina to make it through such a long & active day if I didn't fuel my body with all of the good things it needs.

Here are some random snapshots of my healthy to-go food recently, to give you guys some ideas of "what to pack". Let me know if this is helpful~ If so, I would be happy to do more of these posts & turn it into a "What I Ate" series! :)

Breakfast: (that I ate in the car; I know...): Two Italian Style Omelet Muffins with hot sauce & some pre-cut organic fruit from Costco

Lunch: Ham slices, broccoli, snap peas, & carrots (Costco veggie tray), & a sliced Pink Lady apple with homemade almond butter.
Snacks: Blueberry Muffin Larabar, TJ's Organic Beef Jerky
Dinner: Kale salad with tri-tip, red peppers, & avocado

Fall Festivities & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


I love my time away from school, work, and stress when I can relax & enjoy some time with my favorite guy.... my boyfriend!

We always spend quality time together on the weekends; and with the holiday season just beginning, there's lots of fun things out there on our "to-do" list!

Nothing better than making memories (& food) with your special someone, and enjoying every minute of it. :)

This weekend's adventure was the pumpkin patch. Neither one of us is a huge fan of Halloween, but it's our first together- so we wanted to do something festive and fun. I think it's so important to take the time to continue family traditions, & create some new ones too!

Cauliflower Biscuits with Bacon & Jalapeño {Paleo}


I love experimenting with cauliflower, so when I stumbled across this recipe from Delighted Momma's blog I had to try it out. The flavor was awesome, & I loved her recipe (I seriously ate almost an entire batch!). However, I had a little trouble with the biscuits sticking to the muffin tin, no matter how much coconut oil spray I used, so I decided to revise it. I added in some spices & "extras" to jazz them up, plus devised a plan to ax the muffin tin (with the help of my mom!).

I have now made these biscuits countless times, for many different people; all have loved them! They almost never make it to leftovers. They are so easy & bake right on a cookie sheet- no more muffin tin mess! :)


Tucker's Top Picks



For those of you who don't know, I have a confession.....
I am a mom.
........to a 5-year-old Beagle, named Tucker :)



Quick Huevos Rancheros {Paleo}


On weekday mornings, I don't have a ton of time for breakfast (I'm pretty sure no one does).

No matter how great my intentions are-- as far as waking up early & giving myself time to ease into my morning & cook a nice breakfast... it just doesn't happen. I hit 'snooze' one too many times, my hair doesn't cooperate, I change my outfit, Tucker doesn't want to get out of bed, etc.

This recipe takes about 3 minutes to prepare... meaning no matter how short on time, I can still whip this up & start off my day with an awesome breakfast. Plus, it tastes just as great on the weekend when you actually do have time! :)

I love having eggs for breakfast, but I know they can get boring. This is one way I dress up my eggs, while getting in some extra veggies & healthy fats. I call it "huevos rancheros" because I'm not sure what else to call it... All I know is that it's quick, filling, & tastes delicious! & It has salsa and avocado-- which means Mexican, right?!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Cookies (Paleo)


Everyone loves a chocolate chip cookie. Unfortunately... chocolate chip cookies won't always love you back! (but these ones will) ;)

My Top 5 Basic Hair Care Products


I love having long, healthy hair- but that means I have to take extra good care of it! I have tried many, many hair products over the years, from all different price points, and these are a few of my absolute must-haves. I also have favorite special products like masks & treatments, as well as products that I use to achieve certain styles (curls, waves, ponytails, etc.). Let me know if you want to see more specific favorites, but for now- here are some of my everyday basic products that I never go without!


Smoked Salmon Salad with Avocado

It's a busy week around here, but never too busy for a healthy meal! I made this salad the other night, and packed it "to-go" for work the next day.

I recently picked up a package of smoked salmon from Trader Joe's, but hadn't come up with a way to use it yet. I tested it out on some Mary's Gone Crackers, and loved it. So, I decided to come up with a quick salad using the smoked salmon as my protein. 

This salad looks fancy & tastes delicious, but is SO quick & easy to toss together! Plus, it's good for you. :) 

I love using simple ingredients that pair well together, & letting their fresh flavors shine through. No need for thick dressings or extra "stuff".

Pumpkin Spice Protein Latte

Today is the first day of fall! My favorite time of the year. In honor of today, I bring you guys one of the most popular flavor combinations of the autumn season: Pumpkin spice.

I have always loved Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte, but it's not something I want to indulge in daily. I like to save it for special occasions when I feel like treating myself. I still crave that flavor though... especially when I pass the "PSL" signs out on every corner Starbucks in town.

That's why I decided to create my own. Pumpkin not only tastes amazing, but is a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin A. When mixed with the natural sweetness of coconut sugar and the warmth of the spices, it makes a perfect fall combination. I added whey protein powder to mine for a boost of protein along with the sweet vanilla flavor.

You can easily heat this up & drink it hot, but I served mine over ice. I love it chilled for these weeks that are sort of "in-between" in terms of the weather-- not exactly summer, but not cold enough for fall.

What I Bought: Eating Clean at Costco

Costco is known for huge quantities at great prices. There are lots of not so good choices at Costco (think frozen egg rolls, monster bags of chips, jumbo muffins as big as your head, etc.), but there are lots of good choices there, too! I love Costco for many things, including pet supplies, produce, laundry soap, meats, household items, & water bottles.



If you're shopping for a small household, I recommend finding a partner for your trips to Costco. I usually go with my mom, that way we can split things. It allows you to take advantage of the great deals without having too much food (especially when it comes to fresh items that will go bad before you can get to them!). 

Here's what I bought at Costco-- all budget & Paleo/healthy lifestyle friendly! :)

Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps

Here's a quick meal I came up with using rotisserie chicken! This is my play on a typical lettuce wrap, but using Mexican flavors to create a healthy taco. I think these would be fun served family style, with the filling in a large bowl for people to serve themselves.

It requires no cooking at all & is so fresh and flavorful. If you don't have a rotisserie chicken on hand, feel free to substitute sautéd ground beef or grilled chicken breast. You can also wrap the taco filling in corn tortillas~ it's up to you! The leftover filling is perfect over romaine for a lunch salad the next day. Enjoy!

What I Bought: Target Shoes!

I could spend hours in Target... clothes, makeup, food, candles, home decor, cleaning products... They just have such a fun selection of quality items that I find it hard to resist. On my latest trip to Target, I found shoes! 

Target shoes have always been either a huge hit or a big miss for me. I've bought pairs that were so uncomfortable & impossible to break in, while others (often from the same brand!) have just been perfect. This time was a huge hit :) 

Sparkling Berry Sangria


After a super long, way too busy day like today... I seriously need a glass of wine. It's also a Monday, meaning more work tomorrow, so I don't want to overdo it on the alcohol. 

This works for me as a drink & dessert in one. It's fruity, fizzy, & best of all- healthy. No soda, no extra sugar, no added "junk"... So no guilt here ;)

The mineral water gives some carbonation and also cuts down on the amount of alcohol you're drinking. I love how the frozen fruit keeps your drink cold & also soaks up some flavor.. great as a little treat once the drink is gone! 

This recipe is great for dressing up a cheap bottle of wine (think Trader Joe's "2 Buck Chuck"). It may also be a winner for those of you who don't really love the taste of wine by itself.

What to Pack: Healthy To-Go


My friend actually “requested” this post, and I loved the idea. She wanted a post on how to pack healthy food for an entire day in order to refrain from “giving up & going to the drive-thru”. Like myself, she has just begun a semester of full-time internship plus full-time night classes. So, basically, the both of us spend 8 am- 5 pm working & then head straight to our university for class from 6pm- 9pm. If that’s not a long day, I don’t know what is! Mix that with a 40 minute commute each way, & it leaves me with a serious lack of that whole “time” thing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t “eat out” during the week. I prefer to spend my money on fresh groceries that I can prepare myself from home. I like having control over what I will be eating throughout the day, & what ingredients will be going into my meals. I find it much easier to maintain a healthy diet (& weight!) when my food choices are made in advance, rather than “in the moment” when I’m hungry & may or may not be thinking clearly. It’s easy to go overboard on food or make a poor meal choice when you’re starving and short on time.

I always start my day with coffee & a solid breakfast at home to get me going (ok, not gonna lie... it’s usually consumed in the car while I drive). Then I take 3 snacks, lunch, & dinner in my lunch box "to-go". I don’t always finish the snacks, but I would rather have too much than not enough. When you run out of food is when you end up hungry & desperate, tempted by a fast food joint—don’t do it! Here are a few tips to make it easier:

Chef Salad & My Go-To Dressing

I love salads for a quick lunch or an easy meal to take on the go. They make it easy to get all of the protein & nutrients we need, all in one convenient serving. 

Because I eat them so often, I'm always trying to mix it up & create different combinations. Here's an easy "chef salad" I came up with using some basic ingredients I always have in the fridge. Stay tuned until the end, where I also included my go-to dressing that I put on almost everything.

Chef Salad

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies


Here I am again today with another healthy Paleo recipe!.............. Just kidding ;)

Today’s recipe is definitely not Paleo, but hey—everyone deserves a splurge every once in awhile. These cookies are actually not for me, but are being packaged up & sent away to someone very special to me... my little brother!

My brother, Alex, just moved about 5 hours away for college. It’s a bittersweet feeling... I’m sad that we won’t get to spend as much time together, but I am also SO proud of the smart decisions he has made & where his life is headed. So, I’m looking at the bright side & embracing the opportunity to embarrass him from a distance by sending him care packages!


Simple Everyday Makeup

I love playing with makeup & doing fun colors & dramatic eye looks, but let's get real..... "ain't nobody got time for that" on a busy morning! I save the fun makeup for special occasions (when I actually do have time) & stick to a basic routine on "normal" days. 

This is my go-to look for work or school; when I want to look put together, but not overdone. It gives me that little confidence-boost while still looking professional.

It's also a great time saver for busy mornings... only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it. :)

Summer Shrimp & Vegetable Sauté

I love picking up seasonal veggies when I'm at the grocery store. They're brighter, tastier, and more likely to be grown locally. I saw a display of baby heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods recently, & couldn't resist. The zucchini was calling my name as well, & I knew I could create an easy fresh dish with these two veggies.

This sauté has amazing bright flavors & pairs so well with the large shrimp. The juices from the tomatoes & zucchini mixed with the olive oil & spices create a delicious light sauce. It's also unbelievably quick to toss together (cooking time is only 5 min!). 

Homemade Coconut Cream Pie Larabars


Larabars have been a favorite go-to snack of mine for years now. They’re super filling, give you natural energy, & are convenient to take on the go when you’re busy. They also, however, are pretty expensive. 

That’s why I like to make my own! It’s cheaper & also allows me to get creative with the flavors. I love making these for friends & family as little gifts too. My boyfriend loves them, and I’ve created a few special flavors just for him (one containing coffee)!

I plan to share more of my Larabar creations later, but for now I’m starting out with my basic "Coconut Cream Pie" recipe-- which I came up with last Christmas as a re-creation of my boyfriend's favorite Larabar. If you’re not a fan of coconut, leave it out & you will have something close to the “Cashew Cookie” flavor.

What I Bought: Trader Joe's


I'm planning to start a series here on my blog: showing you "what I bought". I'd like to keep it open to all sorts of places (Target, Whole Foods, Costco, etc.), so that I can share all of my different finds. Let me know what you guys think, & if there is anywhere in particular you would like me to post about! 

Shopping is a very personal thing, especially when it comes to food choices; so don’t feel obligated to buy all (or any!) of these items—this is just me sharing & hoping to put out some ideas on what to buy/try at different places. :) So, here we go!


When I go out or travel for the weekend, I’m more likely to indulge when it comes to my diet. Therefore, it's important to me to eat clean throughout the week & stick to healthy meals and snacks while I’m at home (and school & work!). I like doing my grocery shopping at the beginning of the week. I stock up on fresh food items that will last me awhile & are easy to prepare, even if I'm busy.

Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to grocery shop. There's one conveniently located down the street from my college campus. I also like that it’s small, offers fair prices, and doesn’t have too large of a selection (which can be overwhelming). 
Here’s what I picked up from my recent trip to Trader Joe’s:

Protein
Organic Beef Jerky (Original): This is great as a quick, high protein snack. I usually get about 3 servings out of each small bag. This jerky contains no preservatives, nitrites, or added MSG, and is gluten free.

Fully Cooked Uncured Bacon:  Fully cooked means only 30 seconds from hot, crispy bacon—great for busy mornings. I also chop it up to add to veggies or other recipes. 

Organic Free Range Eggs:  I always have eggs on hand, since I eat them pretty much every morning. I buy extra if I’m planning to make some Italian Style Omelet Muffins!

Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage:  A great all natural protein option for the morning. These have a sweet & savory flavor, and are a breakfast staple for me. They are also fully cooked, which means I can quickly brown one up on the stove or heat it in the microwave.

Organic Free Range Chicken Thighs:  I like chicken breasts too—but the thighs have more flavor & cook very quickly. I love them for kabobs, coconut curry, and stir-fry. I usually separate them into small bags & store some in the freezer.

Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef:  I use it for meat sauce (click here for my recipe!) and burgers (without the bun!). I always look for organic & grass fed when choosing beef. 

Lemon Pepper Salmon Two Ways


I absolutely LOVE salmon. If I didn’t stop myself, I would eat it every single night. My dad & brother made a few salmon-fishing trips to Alaska when I lived at home, so there was always a stockpile of wild salmon in the freezer. One of the best ways my mom prepared it was with lemon pepper. I still love that flavor, but I’ve realized how easy it is to achieve with simple spices & fresh lemon. No premade lemony flavored “stuff”, just real fresh flavors with that same great taste!

Here it is two ways… both with the same simple ingredients. Let me know if you try, and which you like best!

Mocha Berry Mug Cake (Paleo)


Sometimes we all just need a little dessert. Long day, special occasion, sweet-tooth moment; whatever the reason may be. This is what I turn to when I’m craving a little guilt-free (seriously!) indulgence. It’s full of clean & simple ingredients, and just tastes amazing. Sweet, warm, chocolate cake goodness with rich coffee flavor, all in your favorite mug & ready in less than five minutes…. what?!


Favorite Products: Natural Summer Skin & Body


Today I have something a little different to share… skincare products! I have a good little mix here, with items for both the face and body. I have recently become devoted to swapping out as many products possible that touch my body (within reason) to more natural options. 

There are a handful of yucky ingredients I have done my research on & chosen to stay away from for health and wellness reasons, both now & down the road (post on this later?). Skincare products are something I put on my body every single day, twice a day—so I think it’s important that I stick to all natural ingredients that don't risk potential harm or irritation to my sensitive skin. 

Here are a few of my favorites, especially for the warmer summer months….

Italian Style Omelet Muffins (Paleo)


Back to school is here for some, and right around the corner for others. This fall I will be taking on a full load of classes as well as a full time medical internship, which means I will be short on one major thing until Christmas: time. 

Blueberry Protein Smoothie


Smoothies are always a go-to for me. They are great as a refreshing treat after a workout, and can even work as a small meal when you are in a pinch. I love that I can indulge in one when an upset stomach keeps me from craving other foods, without feeling guilty. 

As long as you're tossing in the right ingredients, smoothies can pack so much nutrition while tasting like a dessert! Here's a simple blueberry smoothie recipe I love:

A Little Bit About Myself...


Hi!
I’m Jessie, & I’ve decided to start my very own blog! I wanted to start off with a little intro about myself & why I’m here, so here it goes…

Who am I?
            -I’m just a girl in my early twenties, with lots to share! I love my family, my boyfriend, and my pets. Simple & healthy (yet tasty!) cooking has been a long-time passion of mine. I also have a thing for all things beauty—makeup, hair, skincare, etc. I attend graduate school full time, and am looking for a place to share my hobbies that are non-school related!


Whole 30

Soups

Snacks

Slow Cooker

Side Dishes

Seafood

Pork

Poultry

One-Dish Meals

Drinks

Dips & Sauces

Desserts

Breakfast

Bread & Muffins

Beef

Appetizers