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The Best Christmas Cookies {Recipe}

This season I kept it simple. Usually, I participate in a blogger Christmas cookie swap, and end up baking a lot and trying new, interesting recipes, but not this year. This year, Kiyo googled “Cookie recipes,” texted me one of the first results, and I’ve used it twice.

It’s this recipe; the first time I made it, I used two types of M&M’s instead of chocolate chips (because the colors were more festive, albeit more unhealthy), and walnuts (because, ew, why would you ruin cookies with nuts?). They turned out amazing. Everyone I shared them with (admittedly, a small number of people, but still) said that I nailed it. And of course, I took total credit, because for once, I’d followed a recipe almost completely. I thought I deserved a little credit, right?

This weekend I made the recipe again, but I halved it and added cacao powder; and subbed the chocolate chips/walnuts for crushed up Andes mint chocolates. Both sets of cookies came out so perfectly chewy, yet intact. I loved them so much, they were gone in exactly 1 day this time. This is one of the ways I’m keeping it simple this holiday season (the even simpler option would have been to make no cookies at all, but I just love cookies too much to ever go that far).

 

What are you making for Christmas, if you celebrate?

What I Ate Wednesday #5

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I haven’t done a WIAW in awhile; please comment or send me a message if you like these food posts so I can keep bringing them to you! This is all vegetarian:

WIAW Honolulu cereal

I LOVE this breakfast I came up with: Annie’s chocolate cereal, with almond milk, topped with cacao nibs and a sliced banana. It’s basically [healthy-ish] dessert for breakfast; you’re welcome.

WIAW Honolulu la tour cafe

In between work and errands, I picked up lunch from La Tour Cafe in Aina Haina: avocado toast! It came with a side salad and a very tasty, creamy dressing.

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I stopped home in the afternoon before my evening job and had some coffee and half of a Bouchon Bakery cookie (made by me, from a box mix). It’s kind of like a homemade oreo. I have to say, I wasn’t really a fan (but I still ate the second half later, after dinner, because in any battle against sugar, I am the loser).

WIAW Honolulu healthy bowl dinner

My homemade dinner was healthy and delectable: quinoa mixed with red onion, kale, parmesan cheese and capers, topped with roasted acorn squash and a soft-boiled egg. So good!

What did you eat today?


HealthySkoop Powders

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I have been eating smoothie bowls almost daily all summer. One of my favorite add-ins I’ve found are powders by Healthy Skoop. My favorite for flavor (and to add a thicker consistency) is the Choco-lot Plant-based protein powder (16 grams of plant-based protein delivered with only 1 gram of coconut sugar per serving).

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These delicious powders are

  • Gluten-Free
  • Soy-Free
  • Vegan / vegetarian (whey-free & dairy-free)
  • Non-GMO
  • QAI-Certified Organic (contains 80% organic ingredients)

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And if all that isn’t enough motivation to try this brand, how about this: they donate 3% of every purchase to Project Produce, a give-back initiative they co-founded to help kids eat more fruits and veggies.

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The greens blend (which pairs perfectly with sweet fruit to mask the most savory taste) naturally fights inflammation, boosts energy and powers your best, most resilient super-self. Smoothie bowls can be difficult to make since they consistency and thickness needs to be just right; powders are a huge help. Especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan, it can also be helpful to add some protein to your bowl, to ensure you’re properly fueled.

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Click here to try a free HealthySkoop sample!


Kona Mocha Face Mask {Recipe}

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Many people make New Year’s Resolutions, but I almost never have been into that. Why? Because to me, when it comes to habits, January 1 is no different than December 31 (except that actually, it’s an even worse day to start a new healthy habit, because I’ll be hungover). However, I do acknowledge that for some, it’s helpful to use a mental tool like the first day of a new year, as motivation.

 

So, for the first day of this new month, I offer you a resolution: take better care of your skin. It’s your largest organ and takes a lot of abuse, so it deserves some loving care. Maybe that means you make this face mask just once, but maybe it means you try something daily.

Easy Skincare Ideas:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Take a supplement
  3. Wash your face every night before bed
  4. Apply sunscreen daily
  5. Apply a face mask once a week or once a month (like this delectable Kona Mocha Face Mask!)

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I LOVE this Kona Mocha Face Mask mix by Taylor’s Natural. It’s made in Hawaii, with Kona coffee, Kona Cacao, and rhassoul (a natural mineral clay). I try to do a face mask once per week. It feels like a treat, and this particular mask smells heavenly (I seriously wish I could eat it). It made my skin look great for days! And unlike other clay masks, it didn’t cause my skin to redden. I mix it with whatever I have on hand, but favorite mix-ins are Greek yogurt (moisturizing), honey (antibacterial) and apple cider vinegar (ph-balancing).

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Here is the recipe:

Kona Mocha Face Mask

  • 1 tbsp. mask mix (or you can use your own clay and/or cacao powder, but I highly recommend this Taylor’s Natural mix)
  • 1.5 tbsp. liquid (such as milk, water, honey, tea, vinegar, Greek yogurt etc.)
  1. Mix the ingredients (try to use wood, stone and/or ceramic bowls and utensils)
  2. Apply evenly, all over your face and neck
  3. Allow to dry (10-20 min.)
  4. Rinse off
  5. Towel dry


CLIF Builders Bars {Giveaway!}

IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!

clif bars swag giveaway

Sign up for my mailing list and be entered to win this amazing prize courtesy of CLIF Bars:

  1. large, black, eco-friendly backpack
  2. sweat-wicking t-shirt
  3. 4 delicious CLIF Builder’s Bars (2 peanut butter chocolate & 2 mint chocolate)
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How amazing is this prize? Perfect for back-to-school, too!
CLIF Bars are made without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or ingredients sourced from genetically-modified organisms. Oh, and they taste amazing, too. Perfect!
Contests runs today through EOD Friday (August 5).
In case you’re not sure, here’s how to enter your email to win: 
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Good luck!

What I Ate Wednesday #4

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First WIAW in a long time!

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Breakfast: yummy Kashi cereal with extra cinnamon on top. I eat my cereal and drink my coffee with almond milk. To me, cereal is kind of a treat for breakfast.

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Snack: fresh passion fruit, yum! I love that this fruit is both tangy and sweet.

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Lunch: so, disclosure: this day was awhile ago. To be honest, I can’t remember what this was. It looks like a salad with cheese, peas, avocado… salami? I’m not sure, but it looks yummy!

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Snack: chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, since, as you know by now, I need chocolate almost every day.

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Dinner: For some reason, I ate a snack for dinner this night. Does anyone else enjoy apples with cheddar cheese?

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Dessert: white wine + dark chocolate M&Ms = instant dessert perfection.

I’ve definitely noticed a pattern in my diet: too much sugar (don’t forget, fruit is sugar too). Luckily, I’m currently reading a book called “The Juice Lady’s Sugar Knockout” (review to come) so hopefully I can kick the habit, or at least reduce it, soon.

What did you eat today?


Wanderlust Oahu 2016 {Recap}

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I wrote a top-five moments of Wanderlust Oahu 2015 (which you can read here). This year, I was only able to make it up for one of the three days of the festival, so I don’t really have a top-five list to share with you; but read on to hear how my one day went!

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I worked at the Lily Lotus booth again this year (see it in the left corner of the first picture?) which is always fun, since a lot of yogis are interested in this local brand.

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Can you see why? I am actually one of their brand ambassadors, which means that I was able to participate in their photoshoot that day!

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Here are the Shakti Flow master teachers being photographed for the Lily Lotus Spring 2016 collection. I met them down at the beach at Turtle Bay as they were finishing up, since it was my turn next.

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I’ll share all my favorite photos from this shoot in another post, but here’s a highlight! It was so fun to get to try on the Summer 2016 collection and play around doing yoga on the beach, but let me tell you, doing pretty yoga poses on the sand is very hard.

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So, to back-track a minute, here was my very long Saturday:

  • 5 AM: I left my house on the south shore of the island, and made the 1-hour drive up north
  • 6:30 AM: I checked in to the event
  • 7 AM: I was able to take Ana Forrest’s class. It was very tribal, slow-moving but difficult, and I liked being exposed to a style that was totally different than anything else I’d ever tried. I wouldn’t necessarily seek out her class again, but I am happy I got to try it out
  • 9 AM: Lily Lotus photoshoot on the beach
  • 10 AM – 7 PM: Worked the Lily Lotus booth
  • 8 PM: Citizen Cope concert (there he is in the above photo. I got to be super close since I was in the booth at first!)
  • 11 PM: headed home, tired but happy

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I only had one meal, since I was busy nonstop all day. I got an order of sweet potato fries, which came with pork and a goat cheese sauce. I opted out of the pork, since I’m mostly vegetarian these days, but unfortunately, this meal was still way too heavy. Yes, it was delicious, but it would have been a better shared side dish, than main dish. I still ate all of it since I was so hungry, but I did not feel good afterwards. I wish there had been more / better vegetarian options.

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Once the sun went down, a whole new crowd arrived for the concert. It was fun to get off work and hang around and have a drink.

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Some friends met me, and one ordered a Nutella crepe (yum! of course I stole a few bites).

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The day flew by even though it was jam-packed. It’s always fun to see almost every person you now who practices yoga, all in one place at the same time! I will definitely be back next year, hopefully for longer! I think I may even turn it into a “staycation” and just enjoy, rather than work.


What I Ate Wednesday #3

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This is a really old WIAW, from the fall, when I was still working in Kailua. I began this day with two Wasa Crackers. For some reason, I actually like them, even though they are completely tasteless. I put peanut butter on them, and had coffee on the side. I drink coffee pretty much every day.

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I took my lunch break at work, next door at Whole Foods. I always just grab a little bit of everything there. I find that it’s generally hit or miss.

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Unfortunately, I seem to think that both lunch and dinner are followed by dessert. I had a chocolate peanut butter cup.

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It was a long work day, so I also had another coffee (my phone was partially broken at this time, which is why all these pictures are blurry).

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At home later than evening, I had a homemade dinner of pasta (yes, even that was homemade previously, I took it out of the freezer) with olive oil, broccoli, peas, sun-dried tomato and artichoke. Yum!

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Second dessert of the day was a triple chocolate brownie and a small cup of almond milk. Does anyone else have a chocolate problem? Seriously, I think I’m addicted!

What I Ate Wednesday #2

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I ate way too much fruit on this day last week, which is weird for me, because I’m not a huge fruit enthusiast. Here’s the reason that ended up happening, though: I had a yoga photo shoot with Lily Lotus on Saturday (eep!) so last week, I tried to eat cleaner, so I would look my best over the weekend. My main goal was to cut out added sugar, but I think that I ended up eating more sugar overall, with all the fruit. It’s making me a little nauseated just thinking about all the fruit… read on, and let me know what you think of this odd day of eats.

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Breakfast was a homemade acai bowl made with coconut water and wheatgrass powder, topped with homemade cherry-walnut-coconut-quinoa granola. Iced coffee with almond milk. After this I took my friend’s yoga class, a led half-primary (Ashtanga).

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I came home, showered, and headed out to teach my first yoga class of the day. On my way I ate a delicious starfruit from my dad’s colleague’s yard (#HawaiiPerks).

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After that class, I snacked on two cute clementines.

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Then I got to work, and for lunch I had a Fage Greek Yogurt…

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And a small pack of Maui Onion macadamia nuts.

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I don’t know what compelled me to have a sweet tooth, but I had a nibble of this stevia Gingerbread chocolate, leftover from the holidays. Yuck. I only had a little, since it wasn’t that appealing. 

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After teaching another yoga class, and staying to take a restorative/yin class afterwards, I got home and made my weird dinner plate: Babybel Lite Cheese, hummus, local cucumber. This was actually really delicious (and savory! at last).

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Apparently tons of fruit and the earlier chocolate weren’t enough to satisfy my incessant sweet tooth, which I should really just go ahead and rename my Chocolate Tooth. So, I had a couple chocolate chips to end the evening.

What did you eat today? Do you ever try to eat clean but end up eating really weirdly all day?


What I Ate Wednesday #1

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Since we’re sort of starting over on ValerieBrett.com after eyechow, I decided to start numbering my WIAW posts, rather than labeling where I was that day (let’s be honest: I’m probably at home in Honolulu).

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A couple weeks ago now, in January, I tried out this CocoMama quinoa cereal that was one of my Christmas stocking stuffers!

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It didn’t look pretty since I ate it straight from the pan, but it was quick and easy to make. I mixed in Sun Potion’s Prash (a mixture of ghee, honey and healing herbs) and local bee pollen. I probably wouldn’t have chosen the fruity flavor for myself, but it wasn’t bad. WIAWMy first snack was an apple banana with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter (omg!) – a combination I highly recommend. 
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I found a huge, glass cup with a lid for $6 at Williams Sonoma recently and I love filling it with coffee or chai and almond milk, on the go. This is what my car looks like most days as I run between jobs and teaching yoga: books everywhere, big coffee, cute lunchbox.

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I’m a big snacker. My next one was this adorable little local tangerine. Yum!

FullSizeRender_4I ate a small lunch at work: local cherry tomatoes, pretzel sticks and peanut butter.

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As a midday pick-me-up, I had a Peppermint Bark tea, leftover from a box my friend sent me over the holidays 🙂 FullSizeRender_2

It didn’t quite satisfy the sugar chocolate craving I had, though, so I had to have some dark chocolate. FullSizeRender_3

Next I worked my second job, then headed to teach my late Wednesday yoga class. On the way, I snacked on an apple sauce and Maui onion macadamia nuts.
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I taught my power yoga class, and we had live music! If that’s something you’re interested in, follow me on Instagram, which is where I announce my special events. 

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After class, my boyfriend made a simple sauce for butternut squash ravioli: olive oil, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.

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For dessert, I dug into another one of my Christmas gifts: organic candy drops.FullSizeRender_2

These are perfect because they come in awesome tropical flavors, and are really small and sweet, meaning you can satisfy your sweet tooth with just one.

 

What did you eat today?