No Bake Manuka Energy Balls

Are you in need of a nutritious and delicious snack for the whole family?! I’ve got you covered. These NO BAKE MANUKA ENERGY BALLS are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast, school lunch treat, or after school snack. Plus they’re all-around allergy friendly!


1 Cup Sunbutter

1/3 Cup Manuka Honey

2 Tsps Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/4 Cup Salted Pumpkin Seeds

1/3 Cup Hemp Hearts

(I used the varieties linked!)


Stir together the sunflower butter, manuka honey, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.

Stir in all of your remaining dry ingredients.

Roll into balls and enjoy!

(Leftovers can be stored in the fridge.)


Ratatouille Italiana

An Italian twist on the French classic, this dish is extremely versatile. It can be enjoyed on its own, over pasta, as a side, however you like! Plus it’s vegan, dairy free, & gluten free.

We personally loved it over pasta with sausage.


1 white onion

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 eggplants

3 medium zucchini

1 jar Mezzetta Artisan Ingredients Italian Plum Tomato Marinara

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

cayenne pepper

black pepper

sea salt


Dice the onion

Finally chop the garlic or use a garlic press

Peel & chop the eggplant into small cubes

Chop the zucchini into small cubes

Add the onion, garlic, & first 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan & sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent

Add in the eggplant & the third tablespoon of olive oil, then continue cooking until eggplant is soft

Add in the zucchini

Once the zucchini is thoroughly cooked as well, turn down your heat to low & stir in the marinara

Stir in the parsley as well as small dashes of cayenne pepper & black pepper, plus a pinch of sea salt to taste



The Easiest Chocolate Chip Nicecream

Looking for the easiest way to whip up a satisfying non-dairy frozen dessert? I’ve got you covered. (Although let’s be honest, I’ve eaten this for breakfast too!)


2 frozen/sliced medium-sized bananas

3 tablespoons chocolate chips (For this recipe I love the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini chips)


Add your frozen banana slices into a food processor & blend until smooth & creamy

Either pour your chips on top once in the bowl (what I do), or stir in to your liking



“Neapolitan Ice Cream” Smoothie

4 ingredients + High in Vitamin C & Iron

This frozen-yogurty smoothie tastes just like a healthy neapolitan ice cream! It only takes a couple minutes to blend up & is awesome for breakfast / a midday sweet tooth / or a healthy dessert.


1 cup greek plain nonfat yogurt

2 cups frozen strawberries

1/2 cup apple juice

1 drizzle (around a couple tablespoons) carob syrup (I use Australian Carob Company)


Blend up the yogurt, frozen strawberries, & apple juice in a Nutribullet (or equivalent) until thick & creamy

Top with carob syrup


Carob Frozen Yogurt

Made with 5 ingredients!

On weekends like this past one, where temperatures were over 100 degrees, you need an abundance of cold treats on hand.  I’m a huge frozen yogurt fan, but usually not a fan of the options available at my local stores.  They often contain a lot of gums, processed sugars, & other ingredients difficult for someone with a sensitive digestion system.  The solution: 5 Ingredient Carob Frozen Yogurt!  

There is no ice cream maker required.  The prep only takes about 5 minutes!

Recipe makes about 2 servings


2 cups nonfat plain greek yogurt 

1/4 cup roasted carob powder (I use Australian Carob Company)

1/3 cup coconut sugar

around 3/4 of a small avocado

2 tsp vanilla extract


Blend up all of your ingredients in a food processor until smooth

Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe pan (around 9×9) & spread evenly

Cover with plastic wrap

Freeze for 1 hour

Remove from the freezer & evenly stir with a fork

Repeat for 3 additional hours

Let freeze for an additional couple of hours for a more solid consistency


Vegan Carob Brownies

Vegan Carob Brownies 3

Made with whole grains & healthy fats!

I’ve seriously been craving chocolate recently, but with my caffeine sensitivity it’s just not a practical choice. Chocolate gives me major jitters, bad skin, & messes with my sleep. Luckily, I really love baking with carob. It doesn’t replace the taste of chocolate, but it has a lovely roasted/sweet/nutty flavor that is unique, delicious, & really satisfies chocolate cravings!


2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour (I used King Arthur)

3/4 cup Roasted Carob Powder (I use Australian Carob Company)

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Extra Virgin Avocado Oil

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 cups Cane Sugar

1 cup water


Preheat your oven to 350°

In a large bowl, beat together your oil, sugar, vanilla extract, & water with a hand mixer

In a second large bowl, stir together your whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and carob powder

Pour the bowl of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

Use the hand mixer to combine until there are no lumps left

Pour the batter into a 9×13 baking pan and evenly smooth

Bake for around 22 minutes (I like mine fudgy in the center, but keep an eye on them and bake to your doneness preference!)

Let them sit for a few hours before enjoying for their consistency to be ideal

Enjoy on their own or with a scoop of ice cream!

Nut-Free Pesto

Nut-Free Pesto Screenshot

It can easily be made vegan as well!

I absolutely love pesto. However, as someone with nut allergies, 9 times out of 10, I’m not able to eat it. Most restaurants & grocery brands make their pesto with pine nuts. This pesto is 100% nut-free, & can easily be made vegan if you leave out the parmesan or use a vegan alternative.


3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)

4 cloves garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese


Wash and prep the basil leaves.

Combine basil leaves & garlic in a food processor, & then add in the oil to make it easier to blend until all of the oil has been added.

Add in sea salt & black pepper to taste & mix again.

Pour the pesto into a bowl & stir in the cheese. (This can be skipped, or subbed with a vegan alternative.)

Add extra sea salt & black pepper if desired, but do a taste test first on your pasta or meal of choice & see what you prefer.


Why I’m Not Currently Vegan

Why I'm Not Currently Vegan

Our bodies are constantly evolving. What works for us at any one stage of our lives does not determine what will be best down the line. I say this because I’d like to think that maybe one day I’ll be able to go vegan for the environment and for the treatment of animals.

I will note that most days, I do in fact eat 80-90% vegan. Over the years, I have made the attempt to go full vegan time and time again. Yet, at age 29, these are my 4 biggest reasons that a vegan diet has never worked for me:

My Hormones

There are countless people out there who swear by cutting out animal products to correct their hormone imbalances. Unfortunately, every time I have gone vegan my hormones become incredibly unhappy. I get cystic pimples (minor example below), my insulin and cortisol go a little nutty, and when I got a blood test done, my testosterone levels were off the charts too high. Reintroducing animal products corrected these issues almost instantly.

Why I'm Not Currently Vegan 3

My Digestive System

Again, there are many vegans out there who swear by their diet as a cure-all for digestive issues. However, when I adapted a vegan diet, the bloating, cramping, and flare-ups of IBS were out of control. I felt absolutely miserable every day. Reintroducing animal products brought back my normal problem-free digestion.

My Supplement Intolerances

When you go vegan, there are a number of supplements that are recommended, including B12 which can only be found in animal foods, and oftentimes other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D and Calcium (depending on your specific deficiencies or diet shortcomings). Unfortunately, my body is very sensitive when it comes to supplements. Believe me, I have tried them ALL, even the most straightforward options with minimal ingredients. They always lead to either severe nausea/stomach cramps or overpoweringly intense headaches. Therefore, I need to rely on getting my vitamins from my food sources alone.

Food Allergies & Sensitivities


I have had a large number of food allergies since I was born. Many of these foods are unfortunately big vegan staples. A couple of main examples are:
-Tree Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Etc.)


There are many other vegan foods that I am sensitive to, such as several seeds and various types of produce. One example:
-Flax seeds (they negatively aggravate my hormones due to the high content of phytoestrogens)

Therefore, if I am in a position where the only options are packaged or takeout vegan food, 9 times out of 10 it includes one of those ingredients (allergens being the most problematic of course).

I’ll admit, I often feel very guilty that I am not a vegan. With the environment in need of all of our assistance and the inhumane ways that so many animals are treated, I have tried to do my part in this way. Needless to say I try my best to only purchase the most humane animal products such as eggs from the pasture, etc., though I know it is still not ideal.

However, I do feel that if my own health is suffering, it just doesn’t make sense to deliberately sabotage myself. I wish I could eat vegan. I do. To me, my diet experiments further the evidence that every human body is incredibly different. Only you know what works for you, and I urge you to follow your own health journey outside of the influence of what diets are trendy right now.

I think it’s wonderful that veganism works for so many, because it can have great impacts on this planet and for certain people’s health journeys. I know that there are many vegans who follow me, and to all of you I say: well done. I hope you can understand the other side of the coin.

Hormones and Sleep Disturbance

Plus My Top 10 Tips for Better Sleep!

Hormones and Sleep Disturbance

I’ve always been a finicky sleeper.  I have to be in my own bed at home, it has to be dead silent, and all the stars have to align just right for me to get a proper night of shut-eye.  I’ve never been able to sleep on a friend’s couch, on an airplane, in a car, or even in a perfectly comfortable hotel bed without a major struggle.  

Ironically, I love sleep.  I’m one of those people who needs a full 8 hours or I feel irritable and fatigued the following day.  That’s why it’s such a downer that on top of everything, my cycle dramatically affects my ability to sleep.

During the first 2 weeks of my cycle (the follicular phase), everything is bliss.  My hormones are on my side as estrogen is rising, and I don’t take a single night of sleep for granted.  Then, mid-cycle hits, ovulation, and my shifting hormones give me terrible insomnia.  As hormones shift again for the second 2 weeks (the luteal phase), my body is pushed into insomnia round 2, where I struggle to sleep restfully right up until my period begins.

So essentially, for half of every month, I’m not sleeping well.  It’s apparently a very common reaction to hormonal changes.  It’s no wonder my skin suffers, I have so little energy, and I’m just plain cranky.  The trouble is that it’s getting good quality sleep that helps keep our hormone levels in check.  Yet, for me, my hormones prevent this from being possible.  It’s a vicious pattern that I’m working very hard to get to the bottom of.

For those with similar struggles, I’d like to share my top 10 tips and tricks for getting the best possible sleep you can when your hormones are battling against you:

1) Cut Back on Alcohol 

Whether you are a regular drinker or are like me and enjoy a glass or 2 of wine once in a while, alcohol is really harmful to restful sleep.  Though people commonly report that drinking makes them feel sleepy or fall asleep faster, it actually reduces your REM sleep (rapid eye movement).  Not only that, but it can suppress melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycles.

I personally experience the opposite of the masses when it comes to alcohol and falling asleep.  For me, drinking alcohol produces an effect akin to caffeine where I feel wired and my mind races.  If I have even 1 drink, I can mentally prepare myself that I likely won’t be getting a restful night.  So, hormone troubles or no hormone troubles, ditch the alcohol, or at least cut back.

2) Try Melatonin

I have found that taking it as a supplement during the second and more problematic half of my cycle really does improve my ability to fall and stay asleep.  I take 1.5 milligrams right before bedtime and it seems to do the trick. 

3) Listen to Your Food Cravings

This is kind of an odd one, but throughout our cycle, our bodies are going through so many chemical changes.  In my experience, I feel as though it’s always trying to balance itself out.  As an example, have you ever wondered why you often crave carbs and sugar during your PMS days?  Our serotonin, that “happiness” hormone, can fall very low in the body during this time due to hormonal shifts.  Eating carbohydrates can up your levels of serotonin, evening out your mood.  Learn to listen to your body, it’s trying to help you out!

4) No Blue Light Before Bed

Blue light throws off your circadian rhythms and suppresses your production of melatonin.  Luckily, this one is an easy fix! If you must be looking at a screen in the evening, turn your device to night mode, or get yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses.  They’re inexpensive and I guarantee they will help you sleep more restfully.  

5) Avoid Late Night Work if Possible

While making your own work hours can be great, if you’re a night owl like me, you might find yourself working into the wee hours.  The biggest downside to this is that you’re all fired up when you get into bed, likely still thinking about the work you were just doing.  If you’re able to conclude your work earlier in the evening, it allows you to choose an activity like reading a book before bed that will help your mind to quiet down.

6) Cut Back on Late Night Snacks and Water

When you eat close to bedtime, it can make it challenging to sleep on a full stomach, especially if you suffer from any acid reflux issues like I do.  Similarly, too much water right before bed will have you getting up for bathroom breaks all night.  If possible to cut back on your intake before bedtime, it will keep you asleep for longer stretches.

7) Keep it Cool

If you have control over your room temperature, keeping it cooler can actually help induce sleep more easily.  You should be able to fall asleep quicker and have better quality sleep overall.

8) Exercise!

On the days when I’m sitting at a desk all day, I notice a major difference in my ability to fall asleep.  I’m fidgety and restless.  On days when I exercise, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk, my nights are so much more restful.

9) No Caffeine Late in the Day

Did you know that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours?  I don’t consume caffeine, but if you do, keep this in mind when you’re craving that afternoon cup of joe.  I’ve even witnessed people eating a moderate amount of chocolate in the evening and then having poor sleep because of it.  So consider your desserts too!

10) Find Solutions to Quiet Your Mind

I am a classic over-thinker.  I’m that gal whose mind is running running running, be it useful information or not.  I’m the one who lies in bed at night going over conversations I’ve had, worrying, planning, dwelling, and it is NOT good for sleep!  If this rings a well with you, try to focus on your breathing while falling asleep.  It will distract your mind from whatever it is preoccupied with.

Of course I am still working on bigger picture solutions when it comes to my actual hormone levels, and I will follow up on that after some more experimentation.  However, these changes have made a huge difference for me in the meantime.  Our bodies do so much important work while we’re asleep, and poor sleep is not something to be overlooked!

I do find it interesting how different we all are as individuals when it comes to sleep.  I come from a family of those who NEED their sleep to function and sleep very heavily.  By contrast, my husband and his family can actually function on very little, and even thrive on getting a bit less than average.  Hopefully, whatever your ideal night looks like, whether it’s 9 hours or 6, you’re able to find a way to make that happen!  

Tetracycline and Fingernail Separation

Tetracycline and Fingernails_2

When you visit a dermatologist for acne, leaving with a prescription for antibiotics is one of the most common outcomes. Of course this is to treat the bacterial aspect of one’s acne, and for many, it works wonders at getting it under control. The trouble is that for many of us, there are some seriously unwanted side effects.

My acne-prone skin is partially genetic. Both of my parents experienced it when they were teenagers, and oily skin seems to run in the family. When I was a kid, my mom used to recount her “fingernail story” whenever I prompted her as I found it absolutely fascinating. She would recall being prescribed Tetracycline as a teenager for her mild acne. Not long after she started taking it, her fingernails completely separated from her fingers.

She said that after looking into it, she thought this might have been due to the fact that she worked as a lifeguard at the time, and was getting regular sun exposure. To confirm her research, there is a phenomenon called Photo-onycholysis, in which sun exposure with Doxycycline or Tetracycline in your system causes nail separation (onycholysis). There seems to be somewhat limited studies on this, but it suggests you would need a pretty hefty amount of sunshine for this to occur (such as a beach vacation).

Fast forward to 20 years later when I was struggling with my own adult acne in my mid-late twenties. As I became frustrated with all of my own attempts to treat it failing, I saw MANY dermatologists. One of them prescribed a classic combo of drugs for both internal and external treatment: topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, and Tetracycline to be taken by mouth once a day.

Needless to say I was apprehensive. The story of my mom’s fingernails falling off had not been forgotten with age. However, between the desperation I felt for clear skin, and knowing that it was a TINY percentage of people who experienced this bizarre side effect, I took the chance.

I bet you can guess what happened next! After taking the Tetracycline for around a week, I began feeling a bit of sensitivity in my fingertips. I thought to myself, “There’s no possible way”. It’s too soon and the chances are too small. I’ll give it a few more days and see if it goes away.

It didn’t. A few days later when I was taking a shower, I noticed serious pain as soon as the water hit my hands. I could feel how far underneath my nails the water was going as it hit the nail beds. I needed no more confirmation that the process of onycholysis was starting.

Luckily, because of my mom’s experience, I knew to be on the lookout for it and could stop taking the medication before it progressed any further. I stopped taking the pills, and while it took a little while for the tips of my nails to grow back out and reattach themselves to the nail beds, no severe damage was done.

What I found interesting is that during this brief period of time, I had no sun exposure at all! I was working from home at the time and I’ll be honest, I almost never got outside other than to pick up groceries. I likely didn’t get more than 5 or 10 minutes outside that week. (Don’t worry, I’m much better about getting out for long walks in the sunshine now to get my daily Vitamin D and fresh air!) Every study that I’ve found suggests that this phenomenon only occurs with the addition of sunlight, but I found this to be a side effect of the drug all by itself.

I wanted to share this experience because at the time I was frustrated that there was so little information on the subject. The moral of the story is to try to be as in tune with your body as possible when you begin taking a new medication. Oftentimes doctors won’t convey all of the possibilities because they might not know themselves, and good old Google doesn’t have all the answers either. If something doesn’t feel right, go with your gut and stop taking it. There is almost always an alternative treatment you can try!