Totally Addictive Homemade Granola

Store bought Granola is NOT “healthy!”

Well, not always anyway! Many times, granola (or granola bars) you buy from a package are LOADED with added sugars. I mean LOADED. They add sugar to the fruit, sugar to the oats, and I am sure sugar to the freaking sugar. In 2017, I started making my own granola. It’s a little guilty pleasure I enjoy my yogurt with granola or let’s be honest, to just snack on by the handfuls!

I make my own granola for two reasons:

#1 – It’s cheaper to make a large batch that lasts awhile than to buy it in a package or from the bulk section.

#2 – I can control what goes in it and ensure there are no added sugars.

Warning! Even though I do not ADD extra sugar, there is still a large amount of natural sugar in all of these ingredients. Plus, a lot of carbs and healthy fat. Therefore, granola is always better in moderation. I was only half kidding about eating it by the handfuls. Seriously, try to limit doing that! We need natural sugars, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in our diet, but again, all in balance.

Each time I make a batch, I play around with the recipe and add things I like based on what I am in the mood for. Here is a simple DIY recipe for amazing, totally additive, healthier granola:

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups of quinoa flakes, old fashioned rolled oats, or gluten free old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup sliced raw almonds (or nuts of choice)

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts (or nuts of choice)

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut

1/4 cup chopped unsweetened dried apricots, cherries, or blueberries

1/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt (or Himalayan salt)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 tbsp extra-virgin organic coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 300° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mix well. Or toss it in a bowl with a lid and shake the hell out of it! It’s more fun that way.

Make sure your coconut oil is melted and mix it with the maple syrup and applesauce. You can do this in a bowl if you feel like stirring like crazy, or quickly heat them all up in a small saucepan to really get them friendly with each other. Just make sure the oil is completely melted.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and shake the hell our of them again until everything is coated well.

Dump it all onto the cookie sheet in a thin layer.

Bake the granola mixture for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring it around about every 15 minutes so it cooks evenly. Make it until it’s a golden brown and crisp.

Allow to cool, or risk burning off all your taste buds in anticipation of pure heavenly granola joy.

Store in an air-tight container.

A serving size is 2 TABLESPOONS.

PORTION CONTROL, PEOPLE! You can do it!

Comment below and let me know how yours turns out or if you came up with any other creative ingredients!

The Girls’ Weekend that Changed My Life: Part 1 – Self-Discovery

Last week in my 10 Ways to Practice Self-Love post, I mentioned that I was participating in a yoga retreat. This was a big deal for me because I have always encouraged and coached other women to invest in themselves, however, I never made a large investment in myself. I always invested in myself through nourishing my body with nutrient-dense, delicious food. But, I was afraid of making the larger investment. Why? I am not sure why. Maybe I was afraid of investing in  myself and coming across something I did not want to face? Who knows. But, I took a leap of faith and invested more money than I’ve ever spent in one weekend on a life-changing yoga retreat lead by the beautiful, Cortney Ostrosky.

I went into the weekend with an open mind. On the first night, we participated in a sister-circle. I am not going to lie, this is the one thing I was most afraid of. I did not know what type of hippie-dippie sh*t we were going to do and I did not know what to expect. I’ll tell you more about that experience next time, but for now, I’ll just say that I went into new experiences with a completely open mind, regardless of what my pre-judgments were.

sister circle

By the end of the first day, I was in awe of how much I discovered about myself! I could not believe how fast I opened up my heart and learned to feel what was really going on. I felt  my insecurities, I felt my creativity, I felt my loneliness, and I felt how my body was reacting to all of my emotions.

In addition to the sister-circle, Cortney lead us through workshops and yoga classes to align our Chakra’s , allow our body to flow in sync with our emotions, and relax into a state of mind that was comparable to an out of body experience. Through each activity, I learned that I was shutting off my emotions. I was shutting of my creativity. I was hiding my femininity and sexuality. I was allowing my fears to take over my dreams and I was shutting people out of my life in fear of getting hurt.

I learned that I CAN dream big. Like change careers and have a job I love. I learned that I CAN have emotions. I CAN cry. I CAN dance. I CAN love other women and create incredible bonds without drama or gossip. I CAN align my body with my emotions in a healthy way through the food I eat and the yoga I practice.

By the last day, Cortney lead us through a pop yoga class. In this class, we danced to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and literally shook it off! We shook our arms, did high kicks, and laughed at the people down on the beach who were clearly wondering what the hell these women were doing at 9 am out on a deck! I’ve listened and danced to that song 100x and this time I seriously got very emotional! I have NEVER felt so free! For the first time in my life, I felt like myself! I mean that!

For the first time in my life!

Isn’t that terrifying?? For 29 years I have been walking around as who? A lesser version of myself? Maybe! But now I know what makes me feel alive. It’s not one thing. It’s a combination of things like delicious vegan food that nourishes my body, gorgeous, soulful sisters who encourage me to be me, the ocean and the sound of the waves reminding me of how beautiful nature is, exercise to get my blood flowing, and fun music to dance to.

I am so happy and proud of myself for trying something new and investing in my own well-being. Whenever I get caught up in the stresses of life, work, loneliness, depression, and heartache, I try to take myself back to that weekend and remember that life really is fabulous when you make it fabulous.

 

XO – J

10 Ways to Practice Self-Love

I honestly used to cringe at the phrase “self-Love.” Probably because I didn’t love myself at all. My immediate reaction would be to think of all the things I hated about myself and I would use those reasons as excuses not to love myself. Reasons like: I hate my thighs. I hate being broke. I hate feeling like I screwed up my college degree and overall career path. I hate not having a passion. I hate being single. I hate some of the people I surrounded myself with. I hate, I hate, I hate! I wouldn’t even entertain loving myself while all of those things were wrong.

But were they really WRONG? Of course not! They were just things I attached to the word “wrong” and in turn, sabotaged any chance of them being okay.

Once I learned to accept that all the things I “hate” aren’t actually the end of the world, I learned to look at how I can use my areas of improvement to practice acts self-Love. I sure as hell wasn’t born with self-love in my blood. I have to work towards it every single day.

Here are 10 ways I personally practice self-love.

1. I enjoy eating vegan and vegetarian. Many people make comments or laugh at me for it. I actually used to eat meat to make other people happy! But eating meat did not make my body or my mind feel good. I feel more nourishment from plant-based foods.

2. I practice yoga. Not regularly, but when I feel like it. I’m a certified group fitness instructor so I do teach a class once/week. Other than that, I practice yoga whenever I feel like it. Maybe once/day and maybe once/month. But I don’t beat myself up when I see people in class who show up weekly and I show up sporadically. I do what works for me. Find something you like, and do it. It doesn’t have to be yoga. It just has to be something.

3. I keep a gratitude journal. My boyfriend will laugh at me when I travel and ask “So how many journals are you bringing?” He jokes, but for me, writing down 3 things I’m grateful for each day helps me keep a positive mindset.

4. I choose my tribe.  It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I realized that it is OK to let go of friends that no longer serve a positive influence in my life and make new friends to carry the same joys and value as me. I have my soul sisters let them know that I value their friendship!

5. I say no. Have anyone ever asked you for a favor and even though you’re screaming “NO!” inside, you still agree to do it? That doesn’t make you feel very good does it? And then you might even start to resent that person as you’re carrying out that favor? Me too! But I am working on it and I am practicing saying “no” to things that truly do not make me feel good inside.

6. I stay organized. Personally, I am more relaxed when I have things organized. This may be through planners, storage bins, or to-do lists. Being organized helps me feel calm and puts my mind at peace. I make organization a priority, knowing it’s a value I need to uphold to feel happier.

7. I buy myself flowers. I like to keep fresh flowers in the house as often as possible. Even if no one else will see them, they are there for me to enjoy and they make me feel happy. My local grocery store has some beautiful $4 bouquets that make both my wallet and my soul happy!

8. I go places alone. Going places alone isn’t always the most fun. But, I would rather go to the beach or my favorite coffee shop alone, rather than have no one to go with and not go at all. Sometimes being in my favorite places, by myself, helps me reflect on the things that make me happy and reconnect with who I am. I am a person who likes the beach and over-priced coffee.

9. I reflect on my faith. I grew up Catholic. However, going to church was never something I wanted to do. It was a chore and I felt guilty for not going each week. Going in fear of guilt did not make me feel good. So instead, I have accepted that while practicing my faith may not look the way some think it “should,” I understand what my beliefs are and reflect on them in other ways and other spaces that work best for me.

10. I invest in myself through experiences and not things. I have never taken a true vacation in my life. I have never planned to go to a destination solely to just lay on the beach and drink mojitos. I want to, but I never found that to be a good use of my income. Until recently. While I haven’t planned a vacation, I have plans to plan a vacation! Also, I am attending a 4-day yoga retreat on the beach (as I speak)! I always thought things like this were a waste of money because I didn’t have anything to “show” for it… except my own happiness! Duh! Someone once told me, “The happiest people spend their money on experiences, not things.” I am finding that to be very true!

Some of these might work for you and some of these might make you scoff. Girllll, do what works for you!! Your self-love won’t look like mine! Your self-love practice with only truly work for your self. Comment below or send me a private email and let me know how you practice self love!

XO – J

But First, Me

When I decided to move from NY to SC, I was called selfish by many people. More likely than not, those were the people who were trying to drag me down into the pit of their despair. But, I can see why they may have thought it was a little selfish. I leaned on my family to help with the logistics, I uprooted my boyfriend’s home and life, and put my eight-year-old dog through a new transition. It’s been a difficult few months for everyone.

But first, me.

I moved to Charleston, SC. A city I always loved to take a job at a school I wish I would have been brave enough to attend myself. For my first few months here, I am pretty much alone. I have a couple amazing friends here and my grandparents. But otherwise, I am living by myself for the first time in my life. There are things I miss about home and I miss seeing my three nephews grow up. It’s definitely a difficult transition, but for all the things I miss, there are new experiences to gain.

After moving, I had a falling out with two of the most important people in my life. Since we now lived 850 miles apart, it was difficult to simply kiss and make up. I felt extremely hurt and betrayed. I felt more alone than I ever have in my entire life and I knew it was time to stop worrying about everyone else and do something huge for me.

So this week, I am going on a 4 day beach-side yoga retreat with 10 other ladies! I have always wanted to do something like this and never invested in it because I was worried about the cost. But I know I need this weekend for a few reasons:

  1. Help me enjoy the gorgeous beach and ocean that I longed to live near.
  2. Kickstart my yoga practice that I have veered from.
  3. Meet new women and hopefully make friends with similar values.
  4. Disconnect from work, the stress of life, and all adult responsibilities.
  5. Try something new.
  6. Clear my mind and reconnect with myself.

Committing to this yoga retreat is a very big deal for me and I cannot wait to share all about my experience at the end of the week! Stay tuned!

XO – J

I’m a Recovering People Pleaser – Is That Okay?

Increasingly I have noticed more memes, blog posts, articles, books, and pod casts surrounding the topic of “people pleasing.” People pleasing is a behavior pattern in which someone spends a great deal of their time helping others. They are usually the people you can always count on, they are always reliable, they are never late, and you know if you ask them to do something, they will not say no (unless there is a very good reason). They are true friends, excellent parents, caring coworkers, and completely taken advantage of. People pleasers go out of their way to help others and it’s not always appreciated.

We are often raised to serve others. We are taught this in school, at church, and through volunteer work. We are encouraged to give our time, energy, money, and sanity to everyone else all of the time. While you SHOULD help others in need, support your family, and be there for your kids, you should also help yourself. People pleasers forget that step and sacrifice their own happiness and wellbeing to tend to others around them. I could write an entire post on why humans people please and maybe I will another time. But today, I want to tell you about my own experience with people pleasing and hope that it can shed some light on others who may needs it.

It wasn’t until about 2015 when I realized, I was a people pleaser. I went through the most challenging year of my life in 2014 and I found a great group of women who I learned on for support to help get my big girl panties back on and move on with life. In this new group of friend, maybe people recommended self-help books. At first, I was completely turned off, until I realized these books came in fun colors and were writing by women just like me, who dropped f-bombs just like me and were there to talk to me as if I was a friend and not some damsel in distress. I would be happy to recommend some of my favorites to you. Please send me a private message or comment!

These women called me out on my sh*t and demanded that I stop being a people pleaser! But how could I stop?!? THEY NEEDED ME! ALL OF THEM! NO ONE COULD GET STUFF DONE WITHOUT ME! OR THEY’LL HATE ME IF I DON’T HELP!

charles-schulz-peanuts-5

Seriously?? If someone asked for my help and I had a damn good reason for telling them I couldn’t help (like working full-time plus trying to finish my master’s degree), would they really HATE me for saying no? Probably not and if they did, then that’s their problem. In 2017, I nearly killed myself trying to be there for everyone in my life, while also finishing my master’s degree and moving 850 miles away for a job. I was busy AF (did I use that right?) and I will still convinced that everyone else’s sh*t was more important than mine. I stretched myself into panic attacks and most of the time, it actually caused MORE tension with the people I was “helping” than if I just explained to them in the first place that I couldn’t take on any more at the time.

So in July 2017, I decided to PLEASE MYSELF. I took a job that I wanted, I moved to the city I wanted to live in, I bought the house I wanted, and I didn’t care what anyone else had to say about it. For the first time in my life, I had to please MYSELF. However, even from 850 miles away, I still send my family/friends things, spend hours on the phone when people need me to listen, and feel GUILTY for not being there to help with my nephews and spend quality time with the people I love.

So now, I am a recovering people pleaser. I KNOW I can’t please everyone and there is no use trying. But, I am still struggling with the “But what if they hate me?!”  stuff. While I love you all and will always WANT to be there to help when I can, please understand if I actually say something like “I would love to help, but I really can’t at this time.” Trust me, it’ll be better for everyone in the long run!

XO J

The Las Vegas Massacre… I’m Not Okay.

My heart hurts so badly for everyone impacted by the horrific tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas last night. I can’t even begin to imagine what the victims and their families are going through. I am very blessed to not be directly impacted. So if I am not directly impacted… why am I writing this?

To be honest, I am not sure why this is hurting me so badly. I just need to get it out. Unfortunately, we see this fairly often. My first memory of a mass shooting was when I was in 5th grade and the Columbine High School Shooting occurred. I was in my freshman year of college when the Virginia Tech Shooting occurred and I was leaving an amazingly fun event for HIV Prevention when the Orlando Pulse Night Club massacre happened. All of those events happened when I was in a place that I could say “holy cow, that could have happened to me today.”

But this event did not directly impact me in any way and for some reason, I am more upset than I ever have been by news like this. I saw the news by 6 am and my heart immediately fell into my stomach. It was hard to get ready for work and drive knowing what those people were still going through. I got to work and most people hadn’t heard yet. I wasn’t going to tell them. I didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t without breaking down.

Everyone kept saying to go home and hug your loved ones. Well, I just moved to a new city. Away from my family and my boyfriend who I lived with. I don’t have many people here and the only “person” I was going home to was my dog. Losing my family or my boyfriend in a tragedy like that is literally my greatest fear. I wish I still lived in NY and I wish I was still going home to him. I wish I could hug him and cry and tell him how much I love him. I wish I could bury my head in his chest and thank God he’s okay and with me. But I can’t do that. I feel more alone than I ever have in my life. Again, I am blessed. I am so blessed my family and friends weren’t there. I am so blessed that even though they’re 800 miles away, they’re alive. I am blessed that I can talk to them.

But my heart still hurts. My heart hurts for the people who lost their lives and the ones who lived and had to leave the event without the people they went with. My heart hurts in fear of the world we live in. The older I get, the more these events scare me. I have so many emotions and on days like today, they’re hard to sort out.

Whether directly affects or just sad and scared like me, my sincerest condolences. If you’re hurt, angry, sad, and like me, just need to get it out. Email me. Comment below. Write your own post and share it with me. I am here to listen. Thank you for listening to me.

XO J

Totally Addictive Homemade Granola

Store bought Granola is NOT “healthy!”
Well, not always anyways! Many times, granola (or granola bars) you buy from a package are LOADED with added sugars. I mean LOADED. They add sugar to the fruit, sugar to the oats, and I am sure sugar to the freaking sugar. In 2017, I started making my own granola. It’s a little guilty pleasure I enjoy with my yogurt or let’s be honest, to just snack on by the handfuls!

I make my own granola for two reasons:

#1 – It’s cheaper to make a large batch that lasts awhile than to buy it in a package or from the bulk section.

#2 – I can control what goes in it and ensure there are no added sugars.

Warning! Even though I do not ADD extra sugar, there is still a large amount of natural sugar in all of these ingredients. Plus, a lot of carbs and fat. Therefore, granola is always better in moderation. I was only half kidding about eating it by the handfuls. Seriously, try to limit doing that! We need natural sugars, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in our diet, but again, all in balance.

Each time I make a batch, I play around with the recipe and add things I like based on what I am in the mood for. Here is a simple DIY recipe for amazing, totally additive, healthier granola:

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups of quinoa flakes, old fashioned rolled oats, or gluten free old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds (or nuts of choice)
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts (or nuts of choice)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1/4 cup chopped unsweetened dried apricots, cherries, or blueberries
1/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp extra-virgin organic coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 300° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mix well. Or toss it in a bowl with a lid and shake the hell out of it! It’s more fun that way.

Make sure your coconut oil is melted and mix it with the maple syrup and applesauce. You can do this in a bowl if you feel like stirring like crazy, or quickly heat them all up in a small saucepan to really get them friendly with each other. Just make sure the oil is completely melted.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and shake the hell our of them again until everything is coated well.

Dump it all onto the cookie sheet in a thin layer.
Bake the granola mixture for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring it around about every 15 minutes so it cooks evenly. Make it until it’s a golden brown and crisp.

Allow to cool, or risk burning off all your taste buds in anticipation of pure heavenly granola joy.

Store in an air-tight container.

A serving sizes is 2 TABLESPOONS. PORTION CONTROL, PEOPLE! You can do it!

Comment below and let me know how yours turns out or if you came up with any other creative ingredients!