GF Pepita and Herb Crusted Tilapia

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Mother Nature has some attachment issues to winter but I think spring has finally sprung here in the Midwest. The temp usually likes to linger in the mid 50’s around March/April but this weekend we finally hit, and surprisingly stayed, in the 70’s and I could not be more excited. I say this at the start of every new season, but I really do adore spring. The colors, the freshness, the changing menus and wardrobe, I love it all.

Last week I had my first appointment with a naturopath and in an effort to sort out a few health issues, we agreed that it was best for me to cut out most gluten and grains. I’ve done two rounds of Whole30 so this wasn’t really startling or scary for me to do. Luckily I had a few recipes up my sleeve that I was more than ready to adjust to fit my new lifestyle.

To make the crust for this tilapia, all I did was grind up some pepitas and Simple Mills crackers, tossed in some parsley and seasonings, added some garlic, then threw it on the fish before I popped it in the oven and finally topped it off with some parmesan because why not. This tilapia is not only easy and quick to make, but the pumpkin seeds help to give the dish an extra nutritional boost.

Let’s break it down:
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium; just two tablespoons contains a quarter of the daily recommended amount. Responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, magnesium is essential for muscle function and aids in the metabolism of food and synthesis of protein and fatty acids. Increasing magnesium intake not only benefits the heart, but can even decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.*

Let’s get into it:

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Grind the pumpkin seeds and crackers in a food processor. Pour mixture into a small bowl and add parsley, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Mix and set aside.

Drizzle avocado oil on each tilapia filet and rub to coat both sides, then season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 tsp. crushed garlic to each tilapia filet then generously top with crumb mixture. Lightly spray the tops of each filet with avocado oil spray.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Once fish is cooked, remove from oven and top each filet with 1/2 tsp. parmesan cheese. Change oven setting to broil and place fish back in oven for 1 minute; keep an eye on it to ensure crust does not burn.

*Source: Medical News Today

Skin Nourishment with Frank & Whit

Living in the midwest means my skin goes through a lot of changes throughout the year. From humid, sticky summers to subzero, dry winters, my skin fights quite a lot of battles. In an effort to detoxify my skincare routine and really nourish its troublesome spots, I have been doing a lot of research on clean non-toxic beauty brands. The wellness community on Instagram is such a great place to start and is actually how I stumbled upon Franklin & Whitman.

What I think I like most about this brand, besides the super clean ingredients, is that they’re not overwhelming. I find it hard to figure out what I want to try from a company when they offer too many products. Frank & Whit isn’t like that; when it comes to facial products, they have one facial oil, three masks, and three steams. That’s it. It is so refreshing to find a company that knows how to make a good product and focuses on just that.

I debated for quite a while about which product I wanted to try first because each one appealed to me in its own way. Every mask and steam has its own benefits that I thought my skin could use but I ultimately decided to go with the Walnut Hill Face Serum to start. (Little did I know I would also be sent a very generous sample of the Cobbs Creek Botanical Steam; talk about an awesome company).

fullsizeoutput_9c6The Walnut Hill Face Serum really is amazing. The ingredients are minimal but effective and the packaging is simple and clean. Majority of oils on the market come in glass dropper bottles which allows you to have control over how much product you use but it also makes it VERY easy to spill the product or dispense too much. This bottle has a pump which eliminates both of those issues; one pump is just the right amount for my face and there is no mess. Argan oil, rosehip seed oil, and pomegranate seed oil create the perfect blend to nourish and hydrate my skin without leaving behind a greasy or oily feeling. Each oil has its own amazing skin benefits which are described in detail on the Frank & Whit site.

The Cobbs Creek Botanical Steam exceeded all of my expectations. As I stated previously, this was one of the products I was curious to try but did not buy. Lucky for me, I was sent a sample with my purchase anyway. There is a lot of hype within the wellness community regarding these steams and let me tell you, it is well deserved. The idea behind the facial steam is to sooth and balance your skin by opening your pores and adding hydration through herbal botanicals. This steam specifically contains Organic Chamomile Flowers, Organic Lemon Verbena Leaf, Organic Calendula Flowers, Organic Peppermint Leaf, Organic Hibiscus Petals, and Organic Cornflowers.

What I loved the most about this steam is that it left my skin feeling SO fresh. To use the steam you simply boil 4 cups of water, then add it to a bowl with 1-2tbsp of the botanical steam, position your face comfortably over the bowl and place a towel over your head to create a steam tent. The instructions state to breathe deeply for 10-15 minutes which to be honest, seemed like quite a long time to sit with my face over a bowl of hot water but I did it anyway. I boiled my water, poured it in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of the botanical steam, and marveled in its beauty all while reminding myself that it was a facial steam, not a bowl of tea. I got my towel and set my timer for 10 minutes bracing myself for boredom.

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I took my first few deep breaths and definitely thought I wasn’t going to last the full 10 minutes due to suffocation but to my surprise, it got easier and easier. I could feel my pores opening and soaking up all the benefits of the steam. My nasal passages started to open and breathing in the steam started to feel completely normal and relaxing. Once the 10 minutes was up, I took the towel off and allowed my face to dry. I was so pleasantly surprised by how great my skin felt. For some reason I expected it to feel sticky kind of like it would after stepping into humidity, but it didn’t, it just felt clean and hydrated.

I cannot say enough good things about this company; what they stand for and the products they create. If you are looking to really pamper yourself and nourish your skin, then I highly recommend checking out Franklin & Whitman. Not only do they offer face, body, and hair products but they also have a few options for men and dogs.

POPSUGAR Must Have January Review

For those of you who don’t know, POPSUGAR Must Have is a monthly subscription box for women filled with lifestyle items (beauty, accessories, food, leisure, etc.). The cost of the box is $39.95 per month and contains 6-7 full size items along with bonus coupons/discount codes for some of the brands in that box.
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Every box includes a fold out card that shows all of the items, their prices, and a little description of the item. The theme of each box is listed on the card in a few words. This months box was “new, fresh, detox, motivation, healthy, revitalize.” January boxes are always tailored around New Years fresh starts and I love that this box is perfect for helping to keep on track.

Now let’s get into the box!

fullsizeoutput_9a1Manduka eQua Yoga Mat Towel in Playa – Retail Value $38.00
The concept behind this item is really cool; it’s a towel that goes over your yoga mat to keep things sanitary and slip resistant. To use the towel you simply spray with water to help it stick to your yoga mat (the grip is also activated by sweat) and get your yoga on. It can also be washed with your normal laundry in cold water.

fullsizeoutput_9a8Daily Concepts Your Hair Wrap Towel – Retail Value $18.00
This is one of the items I was most excited to receive. I always put my hair up in a towel after a shower because I hate when I am trying to dry off and have water dripping all over me from my hair. Using a normal towel is terrible for your hair because it’s heavy and when twisted too tight, actually causes your hair to break along the hair line. This towel is SO lightweight and perfect for travel. There is a button on the back near the bottom of the towel so when you wrap your hair you simply twist then secure with the button.

fullsizeoutput_9a2Dean & Deluca Loose Leaf Peppermint Tea – Retail Value $10.75
I have been really into drinking tea lately, especially at work so I was pleased to get a flavor that I already know I like. Peppermint tea is not only refreshing but it is also really good for settling an upset stomach. The tea also came with a coupon for 15% off any purchase with Dean & Deluca.

fullsizeoutput_9a3Instant Happy Notes – Retail Value $8.99
To be honest, this is the one item in this box that I cannot see myself using. The idea of it is nice but it’s not something I would use in my everyday life.
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The book comes with 101 post-it notes with messages on them that are meant to make someone smile. Some of the messages are standard encouraging/nice messages and others are inspirational quotes.

fullsizeoutput_9abGoldfaden MD Fresh-A-Peel Multi Acid Resurfacing Peel – Retail Value $85.00
This item was revealed as a sneak peek to all subscribers and I was beyond excited to receive this. I am in the process of switching my skincare over to more natural items and this product fits right in. It is a non-irritating peel that uses a combination of lactic acid and multi-fruit enzymes to exfoliate and reduce the appearance of fine lines, pores, and skin imperfections. Not only are the ingredients plant based but the peel is super easy to use and only takes 1-3 minutes (depending on your tolerance).

fullsizeoutput_9a4May Designs 2017 Patterned Desk Calendar – Retail Value $25.00
I love this desk calendar because it is so simple and has more than one use. The calendar comes with a little clear plastic stand to hold all of the months cards. Each card is a different design and can be cut down and used as a notecard once the month is over. There was also a coupon with this item for 25% off a May Designs purchase.

fullsizeoutput_9a5Bonus Item Glade No. 3 Coconut Beach Woods Candle – Retail Value $4.99
This candle really surprised me. For starters, I love that mainstream brands are making a change and including soy candles in their collections. Not only do soy candles burn cleaner (no toxins, carcinogens or pollutants) but they also burn 30-50% longer than your standard paraffin candle. The scent of this is really fresh beachy scent and the jar is super simple with just a small sticker on the front. I love that this candle doesn’t scream Glade.
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The total retail value of this box is $190.75 which, if you ask me, is an amazing deal for a $40 subscription box. Interested in trying the POPSUGAR Must Have box for yourself? Click this link to sign up!

Sephora VIB Rouge Sale

Every year Sephora gives early access to Rouge members for the VIB Sale and every year without fail I end up spending way, way too much money. To all of my fellow VIB and VIB Rouge members, I know you understand the struggle; 20% off is a big deal, especially on prestige brands and fragrance. I spend about a week searching through the bestsellers, just in items, and gift sets on the Sephora site before the sale even starts so I know exactly what I’m getting myself in to and so I give myself time to really think about what I want. I put items into my cart days in advance so I can decide if I want to remove them after I’ve given them plenty of thought. I’d like to think that this method helps to reduce my impulse buying but let’s be serious, Sephora will always get me with some type of impulse buy.

Typically during the VIB sale I make more than one purchase. I will usually go into my local Sephora and test out and swatch a few items that I’ve been wanting to try out so I know which colors to get and if I like the formulation enough to splurge on it. I also like to check out any new to me perfumes as well as compare scents that are on my wish list so that I can narrow down my list and only get something I consider a top pick.

This year I tried to limit my buying to just one or two purchases. I made one big purchase so far and will possibly make one more small purchase of items I debated on buying as well as Christmas gifts for others; Rouge members get flash shipping so buying online tends to work out in my favor.

Here are the items from my first purchase. I will do a full review on each item after I’ve gotten the products and tested them out. I will also let you guys know what did and didn’t work out for me and if there was anything I had to return.

img_2118Wander Beauty New York Minute Makeup Kit: $39.00
Kit contains:
– 0.30 oz/ 8.87 mL Unlashed Volume and Curl Mascara in Tarmac 
– 0.053 oz/ 1.56 mL, 0.007 oz/ 0.20 mL Eyes on the Fly Dual Cream Shadow and Eyeliner in Black Jet/Concrete Jungle 
– 0.056 oz/ 1.65 mL Mini Carryon Lip and Cheek Gel in Pink City 
– Limited-edition Wander Beauty Makeup Pouch
I have been wanting to try out Wander Beauty for a long time so I was really excited to see this gift set on Sephora.com. All of these products are cruelty free and are formulated without parabens, phthalates, mineral-oil, fragrance, and gluten.

img_2120Formula X Huda Kattan Edition Nail Polish in Date Night: $12.50

fullsizeoutput_85bNails Inc. Nail Polishes (from left to right): $14.00 each
– Nailpure Nail Polish in London Court
– Nailpure Nail Polish in Bond Street Passage
– Sweet Almond Nail Polish Powered by Matcha in Cornwall Gardens
I absolutely adore Nails Inc. nail polish. The packaging is so simple and sleek and the quality of the polish itself, especially the gel effect kind, is so, so good! This is without a doubt my favorite brand of nail polish so I was really excited to see these newer formulations. If you haven’t given this brand a try yet, I highly suggest doing so now.

fullsizeoutput_85dSephora Collection Blotting Papers in Calming Natural Tea Tree and Bamboo Charcoal: $8.00 each
I’ve never tried the Sephora brand of blotting papers so I was excited to see how great of a deal it was ($8 for 100 sheets!) and how awesome the reviews were. My usual go-t0 blotting paper is this one from Tatcha but I would love it if I could make the switch to these since they’re $4 less and you get over 3 times the amount in each package.

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Boscia White Charcoal Mattifying Makeup Setting Spray (1oz.): $12.00
A coworker of mine suggested trying out this Boscia setting spray since I have such oily skin so I decided to give the smaller bottle a try.

Dr. Jart+ BB Dis-A-Pore Beauty Balm: $36.00
I love Dr. Jart+ products, especially since some of the products have such good benefits for your skin. I have been on the hunt for a more full coverage BB cream with added SPF so I’m really hoping this one becomes holy grail status for me.

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Prada Candy Gift Set: $122.00
Kit contains:
– 2.7 oz/ 80 mL Eau de Parfum
– 0.34 oz/ 10 mL Eau de Parfum Rollerball
– 2.5 oz/ 75 mL Body Lotion
Prada Candy is one of my all time favorite perfumes so I was SO excited to see this value set with the largest size perfume bottle AND roller ball. The standard 2.7oz bottle of this perfume is $118.00 so to get a 2.5oz lotion and roller ball with it for just $4 more is SUCH a good deal.

Sephora Favorites Perfume Sampler
: $65.00
This type of set is an awesome idea for a Christmas gift if you’re not sure what kind of scent someone likes. The concept behind this is really cool; you get 15 perfume samples along with a scent certificate which can be used to redeem a full size bottle of one of the featured fragrances at no extra cost. The reason I decided to get this sampler instead of a perfume I knew I liked was because this actually turned out to be a much better deal. The perfume I wanted to buy was the Clean Warm Cotton Reserve Blend BUT the full size bottle (3.4oz) retails for $90 on Sephora.com. The voucher in this sampler can be redeemed for the 3.4oz size bottle so it will not only save me $25 but I will also get 15 perfume samples to try out as well!

95341a27-a42b-4513-b474-d7ec58dcb802(From left to right, top to bottom)
First Aid Beauty FAB Beautique: $48.00
– 6 oz/ 170 g Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration 
– 0.5 oz/ 15 mL Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum 
– 2 oz/ 56 g Face Cleanser 
– 28 x Facial Radiance Pads 
– 0.34 oz/ 10 g Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration: $12.00
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Intensive Peel: $40.00
First Aid Beauty Winter Skin Savers: $38.00
– 4 oz/ 113 g Ultra Repair Cream 
– 4 oz/ 113 g Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration Vanilla Citron 
– 0.5 oz/ 14 mL Ultra Repair Lip Therapy 
– 0.5 oz/ 14 mL Ultra Repair Lip Therapy Rosy Red
Can you tell I love First Aid Beauty? This brand is really great for sensitive skin like mine and is such a life saver during the winter months. I couldn’t pass up the winter skin savers kit which contains my holy grail lip salve in a limited edition rosy red tint and the ultra repair cream in a limited edition vanilla citron scent.

img_2141Jack Black Eye Balm De-Puffing & Cooling Gel: $25.00
My boyfriend absolutely loves this line for men. He has sensitive skin and majority of his skincare products are from Jack Black. They are super gentle on his skin and this eye balm has a steel ball applicator which makes it perfect for those groggy mornings when you just need something to help wake you up.

All photos from Sephora.com

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

dsc_0678If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of during the fall season it’s cinnamon. I love the smell of it, I love it added to foods and I especially love it in my coffee. Once October 1st rolled around I went into full fledged cinnamon mode. First up on my list were these muffins. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cinnamon roll, but I don’t always have the patience to make them from scratch nor do I want to eat anything that comes out of a pop open can. Enter cinnamon roll muffins – the perfect combination of quick and indulgent. These are so much easier to make and take only about half an hour from start to finish.

Yield: 12 muffins
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup skim milk

Cinnamon Swirl Mix

  • 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled

Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons skim milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

dsc_0664Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 12 liners to a muffin tin and lightly spray with cooking oil.
  2. Combine and whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine butter, egg, and skim milk and whisk until combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all cinnamon swirl mix ingredients. Gently fold half of the mixture into the muffin batter.
  4. Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin and top with remaining cinnamon swirl mix. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire baking rack and allow to cool completely.
  5. While muffins are cooling, mix together glaze ingredients. Once combined, drizzle over muffins.
Recipe adapted from: Some the Wiser

Ulta 21 Days of Beauty Haul

Ulta recently just ended their 21 Days of Beauty which ran through September. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I’ll explain. Every year, for 21 days straight, Ulta offers big sales and discounts on items that usually never go on sale. The sales are good for that day only and tend to sell out pretty quick. Anyone who shops in stores or online at Ulta.com can buy these items and there are even extra items on sale for Ulta Platinum members.

The best part about the 21 Days of Beauty is that you can see all of the items that are going to be on sale ahead of time. I usually get a catalog in the mail and circle each item I want to buy. I work a later shift so it’s always hard for me to stop into Ulta and pick up these beauty items each day. Luckily, being a Platinum member, I was able to place orders online and get free shipping for every order during the sale. This came in handy when there were items I wanted that I knew would sell out quick (cough, cough, Becca blush).

Now that the sales are over, I can share with you my thoughts on all of the items I was able to get my hands on and test out for the past couple weeks.

fullsizeoutput_810IT Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner – Highlight
This eyeliner is so, so creamy. I wanted to get the highlight color specifically for my waterline when I feel like I need something to help me look a bit more awake. The color on this is a perfect soft blush hued highlight and stays on all day without smudging.

fullsizeoutput_812BECCA Mineral Blush – Flowerchild and Wild Honey (Platinum perk)
I adore Becca Cosmetics. Becca is most known for their shimmering skin perfector but I think I actually like the mineral blushes even more. Flowerchild is the perfect everyday peachy pink for my skin tone and Wild Honey is such a nice peachy nude for fall and winter. The color payoff on these is amazing and each blush will probably last me for an eternity.

fullsizeoutput_811Anastasia Brow Powder Duo – Ash Brown
I have tried a lot of brow products over the past couple years and I always go back to Anastasia. Nothing quite compares to the spot on shades and quality and this brow duo is so perfect for my ash brown hair. I use the lighter shade for the inner part of my brows and use the darker shade from the arch through the tail. I also love how slim the packaging is; perfect for traveling.

fullsizeoutput_816Philosophy Microdelivery Exfoliating Face Wash
I was skeptical about trying this since Philosophy products don’t usually tend to work well with my oily skin but I ended up loving this wash. It’s gentle enough that you could use it everyday and not feel like you’re constantly scrubbing off layers of your skin. I tend to have issues with cleansers either not fully cleansing my face or completely drying it out and this cleanser did neither. I usually use this at night about two to three times a week when I feel like I really need a good deep clean.

fullsizeoutput_80fPUR Cosmetics HydraGel Lift
Ulta describes this as a “hydrating all-purpose, cooling eye primer that preps and smooths the skin for better wear throughout the day.” I love the cooling effect this has when I apply it to my skin but it really doesn’t do much for priming. The packaging is also misleading. It is a decent size when you look at it overall but there is not a lot of product inside (only 0.15oz to be exact). While I do love the feeling of applying this to tired eyes, I probably won’t buy this again.

fullsizeoutput_813IT Cosmetics Fully Buffing Mineral Powder Brush
If I could lay on a bed of IT Cosmetics brush heads I totally would. This brush is SO incredibly soft and works perfect for face powder or blush. The brush head is dense but not too dense; it applies the perfect amount of product and blends out easily with help from the tapered handle. I absolutely love new makeup brushes and I was so thrilled to see this on the list.

fullsizeoutput_815Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths
These facial cleansing cloths are SO unique. I have never used anything even close to these and plan to repurchase these as soon as I run out. These facial cloths are perfect for those nights when I get home from work and am dying to take off my makeup but don’t want to take the time to wash my face quite yet. The coolest part about these is that they foam up! You simply take out one cloth and rub it together until you feel it foaming then wipe your face. There is no need to rinse and the cloth does such a great job of removing makeup prior to washing. It has a slight cooling effect and is super gentle yet effective at taking off even stubborn eye makeup. Love, love, love these.

fullsizeoutput_814Fiona Stiles Sheer Sculpting Palette – Light/Medium
Fiona Stiles is pretty new to Ulta so this palette really intrigued me when I found out it was going to be a part of the 21 Days of Beauty. I’ve eyed up a few products in Ulta before but never took the plunge on purchasing anything until this. The shades of this work well for me but the color payoff isn’t quite there. The lightest and darkest shades are a bit chalky while the middle shade is amazingly buttery and soft. The first shade barely shows up on my skin but can at least be used to blend out the darkest shade if I get a bit too heavy handed.

fullsizeoutput_80eTarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
Tarte products typically make my list of holy grail products and this mascara is no exception. It has a standard tapered wand (which I absolutely love) that applies just the right amount of mascara without leaving my lashes looking too wet and clumped together. The only odd thing about this mascara is that is smells like paint. It doesn’t bother me at all but for someone who is sensitive to makeup scents it probably wouldn’t be the best choice. (Another great mascara from Tarte that doesn’t have a strong scent is this one: Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara).

A Fresh Start

I first started blogging in 2013 as a way to document my recipes with an easy way to share them with friends and family. When I first started blogging, I loved it; I loved seeing my page being shared on different social media platforms and being able to tell people about it if the topic ever came up. Eventually though I felt a little trapped. I love food, and I love talking/writing/photographing it, but there were so many other things I wanted to write about so here we are: a fresh start to blogging.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am always hungry whether it be for food, adventure,  learning, or just simply trying something new. I love new experiences and I absolutely love being able to document them and share them with others. I started this page so that I could cover all my bases: food, travel, beauty, and everything in between so take a look around (once I finally figure out how to use WordPress) and enjoy!