Smoothie Recipe – Happy 4th of July!

In honor of the hot temperatures and Independence Day, I decided to do a patriotic smoothie blend this morning that is quite refreshing and delicious! This is definitely a good way to kick off the festivities, especially since I will be on “smoothie vacation” the rest of the week!

Today’s concoction looks purple but is chalk full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is naturally sweet with a hint of a tang from the berries. I made it this morning in my NutriBullet and for my 32oz bottle and it took me less than 5 minutes from start to finish!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/3 cup blackberries
1/8 cup coconut chips (unsweetened from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup beets (I buy the frozen pack from Trader Joe’s)
12 oz of coconut water
8 oz of almond milk
1 scoop protein
1 scoop collagen powder
1 scoop of Power Greens
1 tbsp Maca powder

I really can tell that these smoothies have been helpful in my day to day life and in my health journey. Between, and yes this is oversharing but we are all family here, being more regular to the increase in energy to the curbed food cravings, I really look forward to my morning smoothie.

Do you have any plans for the 4th of July? Any go-to recipes for the holiday that I should try? Are you going to give this recipe a try?? Comment below!

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Fiscal Health – Updates and Apps

Some of you that read my post on “No Spend Week”, know that my household has opted to have one week where, unless it is a bill or medical, we do not spend money! That means no frivolous expenses, no outside meals, and no grocery shopping! While we will be starting our second No Spend Week on July 9th (through July 16th), I have learned a few helpful tips & tricks as well as wanted to share our results from our first run!

Update
Overall, drum roll please, we saved about $250 during our first No Spend Week!
How?
We did not grocery shop at all! We did some fresh produce shopping on the Sunday before our week started and then reverted to eating the food items we already had on hand. It did force us to get a little creative with our meal planning (see my take on a burrito bowl dinner) but we did not find ourselves tossing any expired goods and started to cleanup our deep freezer items!
Another way we saved is putting some of our desired items on ice and came back to them a week later. We did this in three ways: first we literally just put items in our online shopping carts and then closed out of the page; secondly, we put items on our grocery list so we knew exactly what we needed when we could shop again (added bonus is we had the time to go through our cabinets, fridge, and freezer before adding an item to the list or purchasing only to find out we already had it at home); and thirdly, I put things on ice meaning I could not even add it to my shopping cart!
The last way that we saved is through finding free things to do with each other. So instead of going out to eat, we cooked at home -together. We played video games, watched Netflix, went to the gym, played with the dogs, went on walks, and other fun things at home that we normally have to try and squeeze into the day.

Apps
So I mentioned that I learned a few tips and tricks during this time to help us save those big bucks. Some of the tips are apps that we never really got around to researching before while another is an extension I was able to add to my browser (Chrome).

Starting off with “putting things on ice” – introducing Icebox. This extension is free to add to your Chrome browser and reduces your impulse buying at many online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Sephora. How it works is it literally replaces the “add to cart” button with “put on ice” and it saves it for you depending on the “thaw” period you set, with the recommended 30 days window as a default. This means that those impulse buys you may regret later or even forgot you ordered when you’re scrolling through the Amazon abyss at 2 AM instead of sleeping, will be saved instead of purchased so when the thaw period is over, you may find yourself realizing you don’t need that hipster cat throw pillow after all. But if there is an item that you really need to purchase, you can override Icebox and purchase the item!

Another two extensions that I automatically added to my browser for those times that I can shop help me save money by either offering cashback or adding coupon codes that I did not previously have. These two extensions are Ebates (which is now called Rakuten) and Honey. Just install and when you are shopping, these two extensions will automatically notify you when they can save you money!

There are three main apps that we have been using lately to help us save money through scanning our receipts, and in the case of the latter two, matching them up with savings within the app for additional money in our pockets.

  • Receipt Hog – This also has a Chrome extension and can automatically link to your Amazon purchase and email, With this app, you get tokens that you can redeem for cash through a visa gift card, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card.
  • Fetch Rewards – This app scans your receipts for points and can link up with additional savings. You can also make money for gift cards at several retailers or donate your profits to charity.
  • ibotta – When you scan your receipt with this app and match it to a number of specific, or general, products, you will get money added to your account that you can cash out after accruing $20. Some items that are specific to a brand can save you up to $4+ dollars while some of the “any” items will save you less but you can still save money and those pennies add up!

So for our first No Spend Week, we were able to do a lot with a little and decided that we will be doing this every month! This is a good way to take back some control in an economy that strives on spending! Plus we get to take our debt down and save more by finding ways to use our time more effectively and get back to basics.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate and will pay me through a sign-up or utilization bonus. This does not impact your experience or my honest review of the services.

Please share with me any tips you have used to curb your spending and if any of these methods are tools you will use for yourself.

Smoothie Update – Quick Morning Protein Coffee

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas, the time has come!

With a lot going on in my life, finances, traveling, reorganization, and, if we are being honest, the need for more time for myself, I must bid adieu to the “Smoothie Club”. But fear not! The Smoothie recipes, especially the new recipes I try (like an upcoming Chia Latte or Maple or Pumpkin in the coming months) will be posted on here. Like today’s simple yet satisfying smoothie:

Vanilla Coffee Latte:
– 1 Cup black coffee
– 1 Cup Almond Milk
– 1 Scoop Protein Powder (I use Combat Protein Powder)
– 1 Tbsp Maca Powder
– 1 Tbsp Grounded Flax
– 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– 1 Tsp Grounded Cinnamon
– 1 Scoop Collagen Powder
– 1/2 Banana
– Ice

For several months now, I have had a number of my friends ask me to make them the shakes that I drink as they have noticed a significant difference in my physique, my energy levels, and my skin. I had no problem with helping them on their journeys as well, so was born the “Smoothie Club”. However, there is always a cost associated with these smoothies…and time. Now I may sound a little conceited but my time is valuable and I need time to focus on many juggling priorities including my well being. So while I continue to write content about a healthy lifestyle, I need to practice what I preach.

In fact, I will be starting my workout regimen on here which has been super basic but yielded high results. I will also be adding some food recipes including some video footage – just bear with me as I am still no YouTube sensation! Additionally, I will be showcasing some other exciting content including my recent financial health series and some tried & true tests which will include my personal review of items from makeup to skin care to hair care and so much more.

So I hope you continue to join me on my journey for a healthy lifestyle and all the components thereof including financial, mental, physical, and spiritual! And if there are any topics or products you would like for me to look into, please let me know in the comments below!

Frugal Tip – Automatic Savings

Part of adulting is learning to put some money aside in case of that rainy day or emergency or, if you are being really frugal, for those long-term goals like vacations or holiday shopping. However with the state of the economy and the cost of living increasing and paychecks not keeping up, how can we conscientiously put away $$ every week, paycheck, or month?

Introducing AI that helps you save automatically and in increments that your budget allows! I have been using Digit for over a year now and have created several different goals over the course the year which has helped me save over $1.5K with me barely noticing and not having to be actively calculating my bottom line.

Digit is a secure app that links to your bank account to automatically withdraw small increments on a daily basis per your goal(s). The way that it saves you money is by tracking your spending and calculating upcoming bills so it never depletes your account. Plus, you can setup a “low balance protection” clause so when your account dips below your set amount, Digit will automatically transfer money back to get it above that minimum.

For example, I currently have three goals – “Rainy Day” which is simply a pot for emergency funds; “Credit Card” which is a newer feature of Digit that automatically saves money from your checking account and pays your credit card, lowering your monthly balance; and “Gifts” for the Christmas season (this one also has a count down so it’ll automatically stop saving after December 1st).

So yesterday, Digit reviewed my account and my spending habits and automatically saved me $19.94 across my three goals. I also have a maximum amount setup so Digit can never pull more than $10 per goal, regardless of what my checking account says.

There are some days that Digit does not save me anything at all because of what I have upcoming financially. There are others, like yesterday, that it moves over higher amounts. Additionally, you can pause your savings if you ever need to for any reason and set an automatic window so Digit resumes without you having to stress.

Every new Digit subscriber gets about 90 days without a charge and there is a $2.99 charge monthly thereafter, but between its efficiency and ease, I feel that the charge is justifiable.

You also get a savings boost which essentially similar to your savings account interest. This is quarterly and it does start at 1%, so it is not that big, but I have been able to accrue about $7 since October 2018.

If you want to save some money without the stress of having to move money every month or want another way to save, try Digit! And let me know if you find this app helpful OR if you have another way that YOU save!

Disclaimer: This post is NOT sponsored and it my personal opinion of the app. There are links in this post that are affiliate and do provide a small payment to me but do not alter the experience or savings benefit for you.

Recipe – Chicken Burrito-ish Bowl

As a part of “No Spend Week”, I had to start getting a little creative with my dinner options. By time Sunday came around, I was out of quick fixes and a lot of random food items. What does one do with two cups of mixed dry beans or a single can of crushed tomatoes?

Well…let me re-introduce to my friend the Instant Pot. I had no protein defrosted and a lot of dry ingredients that needed to soak and soften like rice. So I kind of adapted a “dump” recipe and made my own little concoction!


Ingredients:
3 chicken breast (frozen is okay)
2 cups of rice (I use brown basmati)
2 cups of dry mixed beans (like what you would use for chili)
1 12oz can of crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
5 cups of chicken broth (no or low sodium)
1 16oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, and green beans)
1 tbsp of cumin
1 tbsp of smoked paprika
1 tbsp of black pepper
1 tbsp of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp of turmeric
Shredded cheese & lite sour cream optional

Soak 2 cups of dry mixed beans in water. Drain before cooking.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the instant pot and place the chicken breast (skip this part if using fresh chicken). Cook on manual and sealed for 8 minutes. If chicken isn’t fully cooked, that’s okay – you will cook it again. Quick release.

Add 3 cups of chicken broth to instant pot. Add drained beans and rice. Add cumin, smoked paprika, pepper, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Cook on manual (or rice button if you have it) for 10 minutes. Quick release. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot well!

Add chicken to instant pot with rice and beans. Cube chicken if preferred or shred. Add frozen mixed greens. Add 1 cup of chicken broth. Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes. Seal and cook on manual for 5 minutes. Quick release.

If you get the “BURN” notice, that means that the rice stuck to the bottom of the pot. You need to scrap the bottom and create a hole in the middle to allow pressure to build.

Plate and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Enjoy!!

Living with Endometriosis

Endometriosis, or “Endo” for short, is one of the new hot topic items that is getting a lot of screen time. There are many more people that are coming out and saying they have Endo – some actually do and some don’t. There are also a lot of health care providers that claim they are experts on Endo and can help, but many only know what was in their textbook.

I have been living with Endo all my life but as I get older, it becomes more pertinent and more debilitating. This may be TMI but I got my period at nine years of age -way earlier than a woman should, and spent the majority of my adolescence in pain and calling out of school because of my symptoms. When I finally went to the OB, I was told it was all normal and probably not as bad as I expressed because what did a young teenager know. I was put on birth control to regulate my periods and that was it. But I never got better.

In fact, it wasn’t until I moved to Florida that I found an OB that took more than 5 minutes to examine me. Ultimately he realized that something was indeed wrong with me and we started a plan. Since it has been almost 20 years, and I ultimately wanted children, we did not want to do surgery but started a DepoLupron injection series. That meant 1 shot per month for 6 months and by shot I mean an actual horse tranquilizer- I even had nurses try to change the needle to no avail.

For six months, and several months thereafter, I was less than 30 years old and menopausal. I had all the symptoms. I had the hair loss, night sweats, nausea, hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain… I felt like a shell of myself but the monthly pain did stop. So did I do the right thing?

It has been about six years since those injections and I have moved across the country. The monthly pain has returned. The nausea returned. The debilitating cramps and bleeding have returned. Many don’t understand what I’m going through and I don’t want many to know… I pop aspirin and OTC pain killers like Tic-Tacs. I live with heating pads and always have one in my purse. I go without eating for 24-48 hours and I’m famished. I can’t move much. My back hurts. I usually don’t sleep but I’m so tired. I want to be held but don’t want to be touched. I want to cry but can’t show emotion. I can’t stand up straight or lay down. My head starts to pound and I usually get a migraine.

So what have doctors told me? Honest to God…

“Hurry up and have children so we can do a hysterectomy.”

Most say that because pills don’t work for me and I have stopped altogether because of the side effects. Surgery is not something anyone wants to do because of the risk of scar tissue plus the surgery is temporary and the Endo will return.

So what do I do? I live with it. Every day. Every month. Every year. And I am surrounded by some of the best people in the world that understand that even though what I have cannot be seen, it exists. Also, I have lost weight. I research my disease. I have joined support groups. I talk to my friends that have it too. I apply heat. I exercise often. I meditate and do yoga to help push through the pain. This all helps. And I have found a cocktail of multivitamins and natural supplements that help alleviate a degree of the pain. I smile. I get up in the morning. I breathe.

I don’t let the pain live through me, I live through the pain.

Amazon Favorites – May

Halfway through the month and I’m just posting about May’s favorites! Well…at least it is better than last month…

As always, I will link the item I am speaking about, or at least the closet item to it!

Disclaimer: The photos used are stock from Amazon. The links provided are monetized. I would receive a percentage if you purchased through my affiliate link. Please note that the price does not change from mainstream Amazon.

I have to start off with an amazing new addition to my curly regimen! When I got my hair cut recently at Maggie’s Salon in Davie, Florida, my stylist Chanel was using something similar and with some trips coming up soon, I knew I had to try this. For only $14.99, this collapsible diffuser helps me get my hair dried faster than air drying or with the DevaCurl hand diffuser (which is amazing for roots). Click here to order one for yourself!

If you know me, for the past couple of years I have used a wallet case for my iPhone. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to bring a purse with me but could go with just my phone. Yet I finally reverted back and broke out the purse, so I needed a new case. Cue in this gem. For only $13.99, this case has protected my phone and is so thin, you barely realize it is on! Even my husband got one!

In order to sleep soundly at night, I need two things – 1) a cold room but warm bed and 2) lavender. This plug in is amazing! The Mediterranean lavender is not as sweet as the regular scent but provides almost a musk like concoction. And for $12.97 for a one-time purchase, why have you not yet tried it? You will really enjoy this scent combo! Click here to try it.

Are you spending your money on organic produce when you grocery shop? Do you hate the amount of plastic you end up throwing away when you put all your items away? We really are becoming more conscientious of our produce and of the items we put into our body so when I thought about how much money I spent on organic items but then stuffed it into a plastic bag with chemicals and coloring, I realized how I was flushing my money down the toilet. I bought these and my goodness they are great and a LOT larger than you would expect. There is no extra charge and each comes with a tare tag so the cashier can balance out for the correct produce weight (no up-charge)! These can be washed too so I’m not afraid to use it for potatoes or other items! I definitely recommend purchasing at least one set for $13.99 (currently with a 5% discount coupon)!

Have you ever walked out of the house and realized you forgot a bunch of items or forgot what it was you needed to buy at the store even though you knew you weren’t going to forget? With a lot of chaos going on right now, I needed that little extra reminder and as much as I like technology, I prefer writing it down – trust me that it really works better for memory that way! I bought this for my front door which is metal so that I, or my husband, can leave little reminder notes. It has helped a lot especially when it comes to groceries that need to be picked up that day for a special recipe. It was only $13.99 and came with the pen set which does not leave behind residue. You can purchase one too for the fridge, locker, or front door!

This is my new beauty secret! For months I have gone back and forth, debating if I was going to get this, but after having a cryofacial and realizing my skin has been a little dramatic lately, I wanted to introduce something new. This quartz roller is lightweight but firm which also helps press in my oils to seep into my skin better. I use the stone (Guasha scraping tool) for nights and the roller (which I keep in the freezer) for mornings. The instant depuffing is great while helping promote collagen production! Bonus was the mask brush so there is less waste every time I get to sneak in a little me-time. For $17.99, it is one of the best I have found on Amazon for its price and effectiveness. I highly recommend at least trying the roller! You can click here to take a look!

So what have you tried lately or splurged on? Any questions about the items above? Want to see the roller in action? Comment below!

Frugal Tips – No Spend Week

Being an adult is hard! The worst part are the bills that come every month and the cost of living that continues to increase despite salaries not being able to keep up.

So in order to combat some of the mundane adulting tasks, the I have decided to start installing some “frugal tips” into day-to-day living. Some tips have helped me save money. Some tips have helped me knock down some debt. Some tips have helped me find some new and exciting adventures. And since they have been fairly beneficial, I wanted to share some of them!


This week’s challenge/tip: No Spend Week


While the title of this week’s tip, and challenge, is pretty obvious, the purpose behind it is to not spend any extra money! This may have been something that has been written about before, normally called “no spend months,” but there were always exceptions – food being one of them.

While that is difficult, I feel that food shopping is one of my vices – I can go to 4 stores on a given day and shop way beyond my list. Hubby and I do eat it all, but that also feeds into the cycle of over-indulgence and our healthy journey.
So, this upcoming week, we will not allow any food shopping as well as no erroneous spending except for health/medications and bills. Anything we normally would have purchased is put “on ice” and can be revisited the following week. That also means that we have to only eat items we already have – think of it as a food clean-up too!
We cannot spend money on anything from Amazon or other retailers, and if the appointment for any personal indulgent item (like my nail appointment) can be moved, it should be!

The challenge starts today: June 17th and ends on Sunday, June 23rd.

The rule: if you were going to spend money on any “fluff”, it has to be deposited into the savings account. That way, at the end of the week, we will calculate how much we saved. That means that if I was going to buy lunch on Tuesday, I would transfer that $8.00 (or whatever the price) to savings instead.

Who is with me!?

Smoothie Recipes – Weeks 03 & 04

Sorry that week 03 never got its own week of glory! That week was super busy with classes starting up again. But have no fear, this is a two-fer Sunday post with both week 03 and 04!

Now that week 04 is over, we will be starting back at week 01 and making some small improvements and throwing in a curveball or two – especially since I try to use fresh produce whenever possible and the summer months allow for some great variations!

I also want to share that these smoothies are not for someone that is on a low-carb diet. Though predominantly vegetarian and organic, these shakes allow me to essentially have a meal replacement and often times, two meals are replaced because I am simply not hungry. Each shake varies but they are between 280-350 calories. I do sip them throughout the morning, and sometimes into the afternoon, so I do not find myself snacking as much either. Those that are also a part of the “shake club” are getting a daily dose of at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit, though many shakes are upwards of 3 servings. I also shop weekly for my produce with the exception of the powder supplements and any frozen items.

Remember that each shake contains Combat protein, collagen power, Maca powder, and unless otherwise noted (*), Amazing Greens.
Okay, so disclaimer is out – now on to the important stuff!

WEEK 03

Wake-Me Up Monday*
Cacao Powder, Banana, Coffee (straight from the Ninja after cooling), coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and flax. The liquid base is: almond milk

An Apple a Day Tuesday*
Apples, walnuts, oats (soaked from the night prior), cinnamon, spinach, yogurt, and chia. The liquid base is: almond milk.

Green-a-colada Wednesday
Banana, pineapple, coconut, spinach, Greek yogurt, and flax. The liquid base is: water.

Friday Eve Blues
Blueberries, blackberries, tofu, walnuts, flax and Greek yogurt. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Cheesecake Friday*
Strawberries, non-dairy sour cream, honey graham cracker, cinnamon and ice. The liquid base is: almond milk.

The obvious winner of the week was Cheesecake Friday. This was very indulgent and very rich, even though it was low in fats, dairy-free, and surprisingly not high in calories. It genuinely tasted like a cheesecake and even non-“shake club” members thought it was relatively spot on!
The second place winner was An Apple A Day Tuesday as it mimicked an apple pie!


Week 04

Cup ‘O Sunshine Monday
Carrots, banana, Greek yogurt, mango, papaya, and pineapple. The liquid base is: orange juice.

Watermelon Delight
Watermelon, Greek yogurt, lime juice, mint and ice. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Berry Glad It’s Already Wednesday
Blueberries, blackberries, mango, avocado, chia, honey and peanut butter powder (or almond butter). The liquid base is: coconut water.

Power Through Thursday
Mixed greens, apples, cucumber, zucchini, lime juice, banana, ice, turmeric and ginger. The liquid base is water.

Strawberry Shortcake / Peaches & Cream Friday*
Strawberries, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
Peaches, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
This day had two variations due to the availability of frozen strawberries. So “shake club” had the strawberry shortcake and Hubby & I had the peaches & cream.

This week’s winner was actually Wednesday’s shake! It had a lot of flavor without being too overpowering. Also, Friday’s shake was the second choice.


I honestly have to say that after 4 weeks of doing these daily shakes, I do not see an end in sight just yet. I enjoy making these and enjoy getting a good jump start to my day. I don’t snack much anymore. I don’t eat as much -even for dinner. I have more energy, less of a crash in the afternoon, and have noticed a difference with my recovery from workouts as well as the length & strength of my hair, skin and nails.

If you think you want to give these a try, please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and suggestions. If you have any tried and true recipes, please let me know!

Next week I will be covering my current blender situation – and no, I do not have a Vitamix, as well as which blender is next on my radar since these are becoming a staple in my household.

Smoothie Recipes – Week 02

As promised, though a day late, the smoothies from last week. Despite Monday being Memorial Day, I made it a point to keep up with the 5-day streak! In fact, I used Monday as a test day to see how a recipe I had planned for later in the week would be.

Just as a reminder, please check out Week 1 – Smoothie Recipes for a recap on what protein, collagen, and other ingredients I use in each smoothie. Also, I do not use any MLM products nor do I do any juicing – I want to make sure I get ALL of the nutrients from my smoothies…fiber and all.


Monday (Memorial Day) – Key Lime Pie
Greek Yogurt, Spinach (for color), ice, protein, one whole lime, lime juice, honey, organic graham crackers, collagen, and Maca. The liquid base was water.

Tuesday – “Pick Me Up Tuesday”
Old-fashioned oats, dates, greek yogurt, iced coffee (I used actual coffee I froze in an ice cube tray), collagen, protein powder, Maca, Greens Powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Wednesday – Key Lime
Repeated Monday’s recipe!

Thursday – “Going Banana Nuts Thursday”
Banana, chia seeds, almond butter, Maca, cinnamon, walnuts, collagen, protein powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Friday – “Going Choco-Bananas”
Banana, cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, Greens Powder, protein powder, collagen, Maca. The liquid base was almond milk.


The biggest hit this week was “Going Banana Nuts Thursday” by a landslide! Also, key lime came in second though I still want to manipulate that recipe for a future smoothie!

I have also been dabbling in non-dairy yogurt as an option because some of my friends are steering clear of dairy right now. The only issue I have noticed is that non-dairy yogurt is much more watery than regular or Greek yogurt. In order to maintain a smoothie consistency, I have to cut some of the liquid that I use.

I have also started to add some Creatine powder to my husbands’ smoothies because he is deficient, which we found out after some blood work, and he is looking to start building more muscle mass.


Comment below if you are going to try any of these or are interested in learning more! Do you have any recipes or suggestions for me to try?

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