Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

This ugly-looking smoothie deserves some major recognition. I’ve mentioned my favorite smoothie over and over, but I’ve never dedicated an entire to post to it. Considering I eat this smoothie at least 4-5 times a week, it’s time to give it some credit.

I’m talking about my chocolate peanut butter smoothie that I eat for breakfast. It tastes like a peanut butter chocolate shake except it’s wayyyyyy healthier.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie.jpg

 

It’s smooth, creamy, sweet, chocolatey, and knocks my socks off.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie

I’m not one to measure ingredients when I’m making smoothies, but I will do my best to share what I think are the approximate measurements for each ingredient. Feel free to play around with it though!

chocolate peanut butter smoothie

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 handfuls frozen kale (approximately 1 cup?)
  • 1 heaping spoonful of raw cacao powder
  • 1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter
  • 1 heaping spoonful of ground flaxseed
  • almond milk (as much as you need to cover the ingredients

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed above. I use the personal-size cups in my Ninja Ultima Blender and it is perfect.
  2. Blend until smoothie.
  3. Enjoy right away!

It’s as easy as that! I always feel good about getting some fruits and veggies in right away in the morning! It’s a great way to start the day.

QOTD: What are your current go-to breakfasts?

An Incredible Easter Weekend

This weekend flew by way too fast. No, wayyyyyyyy too fast.

We had two Easter celebrations: Saturday with Dana’s family and Sunday with my family. We ate very well all weekend enjoyed so much great company and lots of laughs.

Saturday

I brought this fabulous pear salad that turned out just as good this time as it did last time I made it.

pear salad

We had ham, cheesy vegetables, roasted potatoes…

Easter ham and cheesy vegetables

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And refreshing key lime pie. Everything was excellent!

 

key lime pie

 

Then we cozied ourselves on the couch and all hung out together as it rained outside.

moose

Easter celebration #1 = success.

Sunday

On Sunday we headed to church with my family. I love Easter service. It is so bright and uplifting!

dana and melanie

Then we headed back to mom and dad’s for Easter goodies….

Easter basket

And another absolutely amazing meal: ham, asparagus with cheese, cheesy potatoes, deviled eggs, pickles, olives, and fruit salad.

Easter 2014

And for dessert I made homemade lemon bars with ZERO refined sugar (minus the frozen yogurt alongside the bar).

I made the crust from this recipe:  crust

The gooey lemon bar part from this recipe: bar

lemon bars

 

They turned out so delicious! I didn’t miss the white sugar AT ALL!

We spent quite a bit of time outside yesterday because it was in the 70′s! It felt amazing to have the sun on my skin. Yay for spring!

Easter celebration #2 = success.

It was quite the weekend. I slept for a solid 10 hours last night. All of that eating and sitting around sure does wear a girl out. :wink: I hope you all had a great weekend full of relaxation, celebration, and family and friends.

Happy Easter!

xoxo

PARIS

Okey dokey it’s time to get this Paris recap on the boards seeing as I got back from vacation over a month ago!

I am going to do all of this in one post so bear with me as it is A LOT of photos and might I add that this is only about 1/15th of the photos I actually have. So while I will do my best to recap Paris in a nutshell, I will more than likely miss some things and will try not to become long-winded. We did a whole lot in one week!

After Belgium, we took the train to Paris, where our lovely friends Adam and Stacy were meeting us. They had gotten to Paris one day ahead of us.

On our first day, we got acquainted to the city a bit, went to the metro station (Gare du Nord I believe?) and bought our Paris museum passes. These passes were around 60 euro a person and got us into a bunch of different museums and sites around Paris. I highly recommend it. We definitely got our moneys worth out of it and a plus is we always had access to bathrooms which was very nice.  

Gare du Nord melanie adam stacy train station

On our first night we had tickets to go to the Moulin Rouge for an evening show. moulin rouge

The inside was very red, velvety, showy, and packed with tables and people. We didn’t do the dinner option but we did get a half a bottle of champagne per person included in our ticket price. moulin rouge

Moulin Rouge is spendy but it is a must-do if going to Paris if you ask me. Yes the show is a little risqué (probably not the best idea for kiddos), but it is all part of the culture and the ambiance of the theater is something you must see.

Pantheon

 

pantheon

Eiffel Tower

I adore the Eiffel Tower, especially at night. It is magical. In the evening it lights up and sparkles every hour. Talk about romantic! eiffel tower eiffel tower eiffel tower

This is the memorial site of where Princess Diana’s vehicle crashed the night of her death.There were notes written in the cement giving respect to Princess Di. Flame of Liberty

Sainte-Chapelle This church was absolutely stunning to me. The stained glass everywhere took my breath away. sainte chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral

So cool.

notre dame

My favorite bakery where we bought bread a few times for our lunches. bakery paris The dome mall called Galeries Lafayette. It is an upscale department store. paris mall

I loved the walls in the lingerie section covered in tulle. So feminine. paris mall

Champs-Elysées

A street full of shops and cafés from the ritzy Cartier to everyday normal people stores like H & M and Gap. It is so fun to say Champs-Elysées [shahn zey-lee-zey]. Notice the photo-bomb. Nice.

Champs-Elysées

Arc de Triomphe

We decided they were either cleaning it or fixing it. Either way it didn’t make for a very pretty view.

Arc de Triomphe

We climbed to the top and got more great views of the city. Arc de Triomphe

The Thinker at the Rodin Museum rodin museum The Thinker

The Sacré-Coeur  This beautiful church (which we called our Parish while in Paris), was right down the street from our hotel in the Montmartre neighborhood. We all mutually agreed that sitting on the steps with some beverages and snacks, people-watching, enjoying the view of the city, and watching guys trying to sell mini Eiffel Towers while watching for police, was one of our favorite moments of our trip. It was so relaxing!

Sacré-Cœur sacre coeur

We visited the Père-Lachaise cemetery where Jim Morrison and Chopin (among others of course) are buried. jim morrison grave

We visited the Louvre Museum of course where we got to see Mona Lisa in her (or his?) finest.

the louvre   mona lisa

Jardin des Tuileries

I think this is where we were at least. We were at a tiny fountain a little ways down from the Louvre. We stopped for a snack and to decide on our plans for the rest of our day. Jardin des Tuileries

A day trip to Palace of Versailles. This is a MUST when visiting Paris. Everything about this royal château is unbelievably stunning. versaille   versaille versaille

Haribo gummies. The foodie in me had to snap a photo. Haribos are so good! haribo gummies

K, I know I’m missing a bunch here.

We also went to Musée d’Orsay.

We toured part of the underground sewage process of Paris for all of about five minutes before we all felt like we were going to ralph. This was a for real tour and it was included on our Paris pass.

We attempted a trip to Fontainebleau to visit the Palace of Fontainebleau. We took a train out to it; it is 35 miles or so away from the city of Paris. Little did we know that upon our arrival we would find out it was closed for construction and of course it was pouring. But, we ended up making a great day out of it anyway by finding a cozy little steakhouse and enjoying lunch before heading back.

We went to dinner every night at the brasseries except one night when we ordered pizza in. SO GOOD!

For lunches we would usually just buy a loaf of bread, some cheese, and apples and call it a day.

We stopped at cafés for coffee, hot chocolate and vin chaude (hot mulled wine).

We went into a ginormous fabric store and looked at all of their super pricey fabrics. We walked, we climbed stairs, we rode the metro, we took the trains.

We enjoyed baguette and french fries at nearly every meal.

Ok I need to stop. Yes, I’m sure I’m missing some things here but I feel bad that this post has gotten so long. Thank you for reading (if you’re still with me that is :smile:) and sorry if this post took five years to load! Talk about photo overload.

As you can see Paris was simply amazing. We were so lucky to be able to spend our time there with such great friends!

Au Revoir for now my friends!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Paris or plan to go someday? 

We’re Talking Sunshine

Minnesota got snowed on yesterday if you haven’t yet heard. This isn’t out of the ordinary for April seeing as we got snow in MAY last year, it’s just never welcomed. I can’t complain a whole lot because where I live we just got a dusting of snow, but the northerners got up to a foot! Yikes!

I am looking forward to this weekend because it is supposed creep back up into the 60′s. I’m ready for the summer dresses and flip-flops!

So I was thinking, in lieu of Throwback Thursday, and due to the fact that I am dreaming of warm and sunny weather, I am putting together a post of some of warm weather memories. Let them take you to a warm sunny place in your head (if you’re in the cold climate like I am still) and dream of days soon ahead full of sunshine. Some are from last summer, some are from warm vacations.

Turks and Caicos

Warm sand between my toes, refreshing clear blue water, stand-up paddle boards, and lounge chairs.

tbt turks and caicos

Miami!

Bienvenido a Miami! I always find it so amazing that I can take a three-hour plane ride which brings me to such warmth and sunshine. I love Miami!

tbt miami

Eating desserts outside and getting free wine with two of my favorite blends!

Need I say more?

tbt blends

Dinner at Mill Valley Kitchen followed by a family photo in our lush backyard!

When the weather is warm, I love eating outside!

tbt family photo

Bike Rides

tbt bike

Picnics

tbt picnics

Camping and hiking

I have a love/dislike relationship with camping. I love it when the weather is perfect, I dislike it when it monsoons on us and a moat forms around our tent.

tbt camping

Spring weather will be here soon!

What are you most excited to do in the warm weather?

What I’ve Been Noshing On Lately

Instead of my usual “what I’ve been eating lately” title, I thought I’d switch it up a bit. Just like my other WIAW posts, this one highlights some of my eats over the last week or so.

What I’ve Been Noshing On Lately…

I didn’t want an actual Olive Garden entrée, I just wanted the salad that comes with it, so that’s exactly what we ordered for pick up. Have you guys ever had Olive Garden’s house salad? It is seriously so good!

olive garden salad

Fruit and nut “cereal” bowl complete with blueberries, strawberries, banana, sliced almonds, raisins, and almond milk. So pretty!

fruit cereal

Grilled burger loaded with mushrooms and onions with steak fries!

burger

Croque monsieur, croque madames and French onion soup. We had our friends over on Friday who we went to Paris with (I know, I know I still need to do a recap Paris), and we had a reminiscent meal of our trip there complete with baguette, European beer and Perrier. A croque monsieur is basically a grilled ham and cheese  with extra cheese on top, and a croque madame is a grilled ham and cheese with a sunny-side egg on top. These were better than the ones we had in Paris! So was the soup!

croque madam and french onion

Taco salad made with ground turkey. Have I mentioned how completely obsessed I am with tacos?!

taco salad

I’ve been happily snacking on Blue Diamond almonds and crackers thanks to the wonderful folks at Blue Diamond!!

blue diamond almonds

Banana soft-serve (straight, no mix-ins) made by Dana. This stuff is so stinking amazing. Please, please make it if you haven’t. Grab your blender, throw in a bunch of frozen bananas, a splash of almond milk (or whatever kind of milk you have on hand) and let the blender mix it to a soft-serve consistency. You have to stop in the process and scrape the sides, so it takes a little bit of work, but it is completely and totally worth it so do it!

banana softserve

Homemade meatloaf made with grass-fed beef and LOTS of ketchup obviously.

meatloaf

Chicken and steak shish kabobs from the kitchen of Kathy and Tom (mom and dad). Kabobs scream summer to me and although it was only about 40°F when we ate these babies, I still got that summer feeling.

kabobs

Broccoli and cheese soup from Panera annnnnd I had $1 off because I use my Panera points card every time I go which made it taste even better. Um…yes!

panera broccoli cheese soup

Breakfasts are almost always still my go-to smoothie: frozen blueberries, frozen banana, kale, almond milk, peanut butter and raw cacao powder. When your breakfast tastes like a peanut butter chocolate shake, why would you want to break away from it?!

I think my body is trying to fight off a cold so I’m trying to feed it lots of good healthy and nutritious foods. Or maybe it’s just allergies? I’m not sure.

Questions:

What’s the best thing you have eaten lately?

Have you ever had Olive Garden’s salad? Do you love it as much as I do?

I am Grateful

I’m grateful for so many things, and I don’t express my gratitude nearly as often as I should. As always, I am so grateful for my family and friends. You make my life wonderful. life is only as good I am thankful for the warm sunshine. It rejuvenates my soul and feeds my body with the Vitamin D it so needs. melanie orlando I’m grateful for Moose. Even though he annoys me like no other sometimes, the majority of the time he is hysterical and keeps me smiling. moose moose moose I’m grateful for my passion for cooking and experimenting with healthy ingredients and creations (like this sweet potato gluten-free crust). carrot crust pizza I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I have to travel and explore the world. There is so much to see and do, I can’t wait to see it all! turks and caicos Melanie I am grateful for Young Living Essential Oils. They have opened my world to a new way of treating headaches, anxiety, cold and flu, etc. Let me know if you want me to order anything for you! medicine cabinet makeover I am grateful for my chiropractor who keeps my spine in line and helps me to feel my best. I am grateful for my acupuncturist who I see weekly. My sessions help me relax and ease any tension that I may be holding on to. My list is much greater than this but it is a start. I have a lot to be thankful for. Now, it’s your turn. What are you grateful for?!

Treat Yourself: Sweet Treats, Sunshine & Clothing Bargains

Happy Treat Yourself Tuesday! It’s been a while since I’ve linked up with Becky’s TYT and I have some fun things to share with you all, so today I am linking up!

To read about Becky’s Treat Yourself Tuesday, head on over here and learn why Becky is a firm believer in treating yourself on a weekly (and even daily) basis.

Since the weather has been amazingly beautiful, I have been treating myself to extra time outside. I am loving the Vitamin D and Moose is loving my company outside. moose

This was a total random purchase as are most of my clothing purchases, but I happened to stumble upon the clearance section at Gap and found this adorable polka dot blue sweatshirt. It fit me just perfectly so it was meant to be. I snagged it for just $9! gap sweatshirt

I am treating myself to a huge container of Driscoll’s strawberries. They are so sweet and perfect! They scream summer to me. strawberries

From healthy strawberries to a not at all healthy doughnut. I enjoy a doughnut I’d say maybe once or twice a year. We had a free doughnut coupon for a doughnut shop in our neighborhood so…….guess what happened. A long john, that’s what happened. I was bummed they didn’t have any long johns with chocolate and sprinkles but I made due with just the solo chocolate and it sure was tasty still. #allinmoderation #doughnutsaredelicious doughnut This maxi dress from Target. I wanted it ever since I saw Becky post about it but this one is the one I wanted and it was no longer available online and it wasn’t at my normal target. BUT…..after acupuncture last week I stopped at a different target and lo and behold…my dress! I also found a 15% off coupon on Cartwheel and got an extra 5% off by using my redcard. Boo ya. maxi dress

On Sunday my mom and I went out for a nice long walk. It was sunny, it was peaceful, it was lovely. We chatted away and talked about how we wish we could meet up for walks everyday! That walk was definitely a treat.

How did YOU treat yourself this week?

What’s your favorite kind of doughnut?

Thanks, Becky again for the link-up! Treat-Yourself-Tuesday-Badge

Lemon Butter Chicken with Artichokes and Capers

Hello, hello my friends!

Today I am giving a major shout-out to my dear dear friend Caroline over at Trendy Trainer. Because of her, I was able to cook up an insanely delicious meal for Dana and myself on Saturday. The best part about the whole thing? It was SO darn easy! Not only that, it is totally clean! Yes yes yes!

So let’s get right to it.

Let me introduce you to Lemon Butter Chicken with Artichokes and Capers.

lemon butter chicken artichoke and caper

Chicken, lemon juice, butter, onions, capers, artichokes, and some seasoning. Simple ingredients making an exceptional dish.

Here is the link to Caroline’s recipe: Lemon and Artichoke Chicken

I used butter (the recipe said either coconut oil or grass-fed butter) and I used onion (other options were shallots or leeks). The only changes I made to the recipe were I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder before baking it. Other than that, I followed the recipe and couldn’t have been happier with the results!

lemon butter chicken artichoke and caper lemon butter chicken artichoke and caper

 

It’s slightly salty from the capers, the chicken is perfectly tender from the the lemon and butter, and the artichokes, oh the artichokes….need I say more?

Put this on the menu plan for the week. It is so easy and you and your family will love it!

Thanks Caroline for this simple, clean, and healthy dinner! Muah!!

Currently I’m…

It’s time for a little update on “currently I’m…” Here we go!

Currently I’m…

Enjoying hot water with lemon. I always think of Caroline now when I drink it! :smile: It’s such a comforting way to start the day.

water with lemon

Onto season three of Pretty Little Liars. This show just keeps getting better and better!

pretty-little-liars-8

 

source

Loving these oatmeal raisin cookie bites. Go make these! They taste like oatmeal raisin cookies but they are grain free and freaking amazing! Recipe: “Fauxtmeal” Raisin Cookie Bites.

oatmeal raisin cookie bites

 

Dreaming of eating another one of these egg sandwiches. Gluten-free waffle, pepperjack cheese, mustard and a fried egg. Ummm yea.

 

egg sandwich

 

Reminiscing about my amazing weekend with these ladies.

 

blends do chicago

 

Looking forward to a quiet weekend! It’s time to FINALLY take the Christmas lights down. Yikes!

 

Now it’s your turn. Currently I’m…

Weekend Recap: Blends Do Chicago

Oh boy. Let’s talk about this past weekend. It was epic. I flew out to Chicago to meet up with Katie, Caroline, and Becky for a highly anticipated girls’ weekend.

You’re about to get my weekend recap in one post so I hope you’re ready for it!

Katie and I flew out from Minneapolis and into Chicago around noon on Friday. We booked it over to meet Caroline as she exited her flight and we all went crazy when we reunited. The four of us haven’t been together since September at the Healthy Living Summit six months ago! But what’s great about our friendship and our relationship is that no matter how long we have been apart, we catch up right where we left off.

Becky lives in Chicago and was a fantastic host! We anxiously awaited her arrival at the airport. We repeated the whole greeting shenanigans and our faces were plastered with smiles the whole drive back to our hotel. Reunited and it feels so gooood!

You better believe there was a ridiculous amount of good food consumption that happened this weekend. It started in our hotel room. Katie broke out the Chex Mix and it tasted better than ever. I was SO hungry!

Next we walked to an Italian marketplace called Eataly. They sell every conceivable italian product I could think of (olive oil, pasta, chocolates, balsamic vinegar, etc.) but also have restaurants throughout, as well as sections dedicated solely to nutella and gelato. This brought me back to my honeymoon in Italy! We ate gelato everyday on our honeymoon!

We settled on the vegetarian restaurant and quickly devoured the complimentary bread. Oh yea, this weekend was not gluten-free.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

I ordered the vegetable soup. I wanted something light since it was 2:00 pm and our dinner reservations were at 7:30. I didn’t want to get so full that I couldn’t eat dinner plus I wanted to save room for dessert back at the hotel!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Before heading back to the hotel, Caroline and I strolled down the street to a quiet cafe to catch up. I love love love these girls and made sure to express my feelings the entire weekend. I am lovey dovey and you guys know that.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Back to the hotel room we went to relax for a few hours before dinner. Enter: Becky’s sinful brownies. Six pounds of brownie madness. That is 1.5 lbs per person if I did my math correctly. Good thing we didn’t eat the entire pan over the weekend. But seriously, these things were insane. I preferred not to know what was in them but she shared the recipe so I had to find out. I still enjoyed them just the same!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Friday night was our romantic dinner at Nellcote to celebrate Caroline’s birthday. :smile: Seriously the ambiance in this place was amazing. It was elegant with dim lighting, chandeliers, and candle light. So cozy and romantic!

After eating our weight in brownies, none of us were too hungry, so we decided to split a bunch of menu items. We split a margarita pizza, roasted brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, and potato gnocchi with lamb.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago #blendsdochicago blends do chicago #blendsdochicago blends do chicago

The food, the conversation, the ambiance….everything was perfect. We retired to our hotel room where we were calling it a day at 10:30 pm. Flying wears a girl out!

The next morning we all got a workout in before heading out on the town. It was time to do some shopping. Becky took us to Shop900 which is off of Michigan Avenue but not nearly as crazy busy as the magnificent mile shops.

But first a pit stop or two.

Coffee…

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Duh. We had to see the bean!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

And take group selfies. #nerdsreunited

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Then it was time to shop. We hit up Banana Republic, Lululemon, J. Crew, and Nordstrom Rack.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

All of the shopping surely worked up our appetites. We waited an hour for a table at Giordano’s and it was so completely worth it! Authentic deep dish Chicago style pizza. Yes that is what we wanted and that is exactly what we got.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

After lunch we continued walking (we walked a lot on Saturday), shopped a bit more, and finally made it back to our hotel.

Katie helped me apply my first set of Jamberry nails!

jamberry nails

The first time applying them was pretty lengthy but I think that with practice I could make the process go much faster. How cute are they, right?! Katie is a jamberry nail distributor so if you’re interested in ordering any adorable wraps for yourself, send her an email!

We got prettied up and made a stop at Becky’s before going out to dinner. I swear it seems like all we did was eat this weekend but there was a lot of walking and relaxing involved too!

Before dinner I got to meet Becky’s sweet pup Mitchell. He’s famous over on her blog so I felt honored!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Next up. Dinner at Mercadito, a fabulous Mexican restaurant.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Again, none of us were feeling super hungry so we went with an order of guacamole and salsa and an order of the chicken tacos to share. Some of the best chicken tacos I have EVER had! The combination of flavors involved were so pleasing to the ol’ taste buds. Once again my tummy was happy.

IMG_0805

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Unfortunately my energy level was failing. I called it a night after that—I slept terribly the night before and don’t do well on little sleep as you are all well aware. I went back to the hotel room, got cozy and hit the hay.

This brings us to Sunday. We woke ourselves up bright and early (again not enough sleep—theme of the weekend) and made our way to the Little Goat for breakfast. What’s great about traveling with foodie bloggers is you know you’re going to have a good meal since Becky picked all of them out.

My body still felt stuffed from all of the food consumed over the last 48 hours, so I decided to go on the lighter side. I split a cinnamon roll, split an order of bacon, and ordered myself a fruit parfait.

IMG_0814

Everything was delicious.

The weekend seriously was as amazing as it sounds. I miss these girls already. We’re already discussing our next meeting place!