Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Change Your Breakfast, Change Your Life: The Ultimate Smoothie Bowls

I'm very excited to share with you guys something that's changed my mornings! As some of you know, I was never a big fan of breakfast. I love the idea in theory, but I'm usually rushing around in the mornings, or start my days with a yoga practice, so I'm cruising on an empty stomach until almost lunch time. Then, one day, about a year ago, my body needed more. I started to crave a steady morning ritual, so I began with a cup of hot water, lemon and honey, then moved onto chia seed pudding, homemade green juice, then green smoothies, and gradually became drawn to creating these elaborate, colorful, beautiful SMOOTHIE BOWLS! When I'm traveling in Mexico or Hawaii, these bowls are everywhere. It's such a perfect way to get in all your nutritional needs, start your day with loads of delicious superfoods, and feel full on the go. 

Here at home in San Diego, I realized I've been spending $8 - $12 a day on satisfying my cravings for acai, pitaya, and green smoothie bowls every day, so I decided to give it a try in my very own kitchen. The result = so easy and fun! 

The key is to remember it's not the same consistency as a typical smoothie, it's a lot thicker, more like an ice cream. Use very little, if any, liquids and if it comes out too watery at first, just throw in more frozen fruit or stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to harden up. 

Acai is the typical smoothie bowl you'll see around, which is a dark purple/reddish berry color. Pitaya is more my style -- that's the bright pink dragon fruit with less sugar than Acai. Lastly, the best invention ever -- GREEN smoothie bowls, which is a base of either acai/pitaya or just straight up frozen bananas, then you mix in a scoop of either moringa or spirulina and you have an instant energy-boosting, perfect protein packed bowl of deliciousness, straight from the Earth. 

Here's my go-to recipe for a classic Pitaya bowl: 
  • two handfuls of frozen bananas 
  • one packet of Pitaya Plus 
  • one scoop of almond butter 
  • blend these three ingrediants together until it becomes ice-cream texture
  • pour into bowl 
  • top with whateva! my favorite toppings are: granola, fresh pineapple bits, sprinkle local bee pollen, and drizzle honey overtop (to help with these crazy spring allergy attacks)
Number One rule of thumb when making Smoothie Bowls: DON'T GET INTIMIDATED! These photos I chose are beautiful and inspiring, but many times my bowls come out looking crazy with half of the toppings sinking to the bottom. So don't even worrry about that. Eventually you will find your rhythm, but just have fun with it! And make sure to cut up and freeze your bananas the night before so you're all set in the morning. A cupcake tray is the best thing to freeze banana slices in so they don't stick to each other and you'll have them perfectly portioned out. HAVE FUN! 

Do you have an amazing smoothie bowl recipe? If so, share it here! 

source >  plant fueled
source >  me! made this in my kitchen :)
source >  life of goodness
source >  ultima replenisher
source >  shape magazine

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Wow, where does the time go? I feel like this experience is just flying by! As much as I try to stay present and enjoy each moment to the fullest, waking up one day and realizing that you're seven months pregnant is a total shock to the system! 

My yoga students, family, and friends are constantly asking me - how are you feeling? In short: I feel amazing. This pregnancy has been absolutely beautiful! I share this statement with you all with much hesitation because I know that not every pregnancy is the same, and some women have a much tougher time than others. But, if there's one thing I've committed myself to over the past few years, it's speaking my truth -- even if some people don't want to hear it. Believe it or not, some women actually don't like hearing that you're having a wonderful pregnancy!  Weird. 

But, I don't write this for them. I write this for me, as a place to process and share and document this super special time in my life. And I write this for you -- the girl who is afraid to get pregnant. The girl who is afraid that she'll be sick 24/7, won't be able to keep up her active lifestyle, will loose all her friends who don't understand what she's going through. The girl who will hate the changes happening in her body and resent the little human growing inside. That girl was me, circa 2013. My husband and I had just celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and planned to start trying that year. But, my fears absolutely paralyzed me. All of those thoughts listed above (and then some) played over and over in my head. I knew, deep down, that the timing wasn't right for me. Having to break this news to my husband was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But every cell in my being told me that I needed to sit with my fears, move through the darkness, and search, and seek, and fight for the light. I needed to do the hard work to figure out the root of my deepest fears, which after two years of self study, boiled down to me not loving myself or believing that I was worthy of being someone's mother. 

Then, the process of releasing that notion began. I worked diligently and intimately with energy healing, colon hydrotherapy, sound therapy to unblock my sacral and belly chakras, practiced womb healing and the "woman poetry" style of yoga, cultivated a tribe of supportive and nurturing female friends in my life, and spent quality time in nature reconnecting with the original mother, Pachamama (Mother Earth) to receive the messages and learn the lessons that I needed to learn from her. A combination of all these things helped me journey to a place of profound healing, self-acceptance, self-love, and ultimately -- shifting my thoughts into understanding that I am worthy of experiencing the joy and great privilege of motherhood. 

So, when you see me here smiling from ear to ear and embracing this beautiful, vibrant, growing belly of mine, understand that the person writing this in May of 2016 is very different than the fearful girl of 2013. I worked hard to get to this point and truly believe that LOVE IS GREATER THAN FEAR. You have the ability to build up your gratitude and love so strongly that it can smother even your deepest fears. It takes time. This process cannot and should not be rushed. But believe me, it feels so sooo good to be on the other side. And I truly believe that this is why my body and mind have reacted so positively to this pregnancy. I have never been sick once, I still enjoy a strong, fiery yoga practice a few times a week, while teaching every day, sometimes 3 yoga classes a day. I control my cravings and lean mostly towards healthy, nourishing foods. I just started my Third Trimester and I'm happy to report that everything has been smooth sailing physically and emotionally -- even in the midst of living in a construction zone while doing a 2 bathroom demo and remodel to create a beautiful home environment for baby. 

Thank you to everyone reading this for your constant love and support on this journey. I live my life by the philosophy that everything and everyone is connected, and I definitely can feel your positive energy lifting us up each day. My inbox is wide open if any of you ever want to chat about womb healing or the insane rollercoaster ride of transitioning from girl into woman, as these topics are so fresh on my heart right now. In closing, I have NO idea what the future holds, but I do know that living every single day with LOVE AND GRATITUDE is the only option. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Wild + Free Retreat

Welcome to the Wild + Free Retreat! A one day, all inclusive experience designed to stimulate creativity and connection on all levels -- mind, body, and soul.
Hosted by:   Mandy Burstein //  Jade Alectra //  Jenny Niezgoda
This mini-retreat is lovingly designed to help busy women harness the healing power of ancient wisdom within their modern lives. Through movement, creative expression, sound and food healing, this will be an educational, inspirational day of activation of all your senses. You will be radiating at the highest frequency by the culmination of our time together. Due to the intimate nature of this gathering, it is limited to only 20 women who are ready to escape, collaborate, and spark a new fire in their lives.

We've selected 3 ultra-inspiring locations in Encinitas, California to create a well-rounded, holistic experience. Here's the retreat itinerary of what you can expect:  
1 - 3pm:  Yoga, meditation, sound healing and goddess circle at Sea Vibes Yoga, guided by Mandy Burstein and Jade Alectra in their signature "Woman Poetry" teaching style. Expect a deeply cleansing and healing journey into yourself to help reveal the most beautiful version of you.
3 -  4pm:  Post-yoga kombucha toast, meet-and-greet, and raffle of some of our favorite items from local artisans in the SeaVibes boutique.  
4 -  5pm:  Walk over to the Meditations Gardens at Swami's Self Realization Fellowship. At this world-famous sanctuary space overlooking the ocean, we will guide you through a journaling exercise building on the themes from the yoga class.
5 - 8pm: Gourmet picnic dinner on the beach. Inspired food healer Jenny Niezgoda will indulge you with a gorgeous locally-sourced, organic feast, in collaboration with Farm to Fork Catering. During our time on the beach, we will cultivate conversation to allow you to flow into deeper connection with your new friends while learning even more about yourself in the process. As the sun goes down and our taste buds are fully satisfied, we will transition into a sunset bonfire ceremony, once and for all releasing into the flames what needs to be released, and enjoy a final celebratory toast to a beautiful, divinely feminine day together.

don't miss out on this chance to unplug, tap into your inner goddess, and connect with other women! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Why Sunday Picnics are Good for your Soul

They say the way you spend your Sundays is the way you spend your life. 

Growing up in Europe, Sundays were a big deal. No work, no obligations, no distractions, just pure unfiltered downtime with your loved ones. I always envisioned my adult life centered around this magical day-long pause where the hours seem to linger a little bit longer and you really take the time to be present before Monday comes rushing in.

Living close to the beach here in San Diego gives us the opportunity to gather with friends out in nature and watch the waves crash while we prepare meals together. As the sun goes down and the stars begin to peak out one by one, we light a bonfire and put the finishing touches on the feast. Sometimes, our gatherings are quite large with 20 - 30 friends. Other times, like last night, we threw it together last minute with an intimate group of 6 of us. For larger gatherings, I typically pre-make a Paella and bring it down to the beach, that's a perfect way to feed a hungry crowd. (and side note: fun fact paella rice "bomba rice" is gluten-free)

Last night, we went with a charcuterie board of meats and cheeses to snack on, then grilled a locally-caught whole octopus and roasted potatoes + veggies over an open flame. We sipped on a special elixir of fresh squeezed grapefruit, beet, and lemon juice with a splash of Pellegrino.  I woke up this Monday morning with so much peace, love, and gratitude in my heart. So much so that I'm convinced this will make our world a better place. Less separation, less distractions, more human connections.

Summer is nearly here and the weather is starting to get perfect for dining al fresco. Here's my challenge to you: choose a Sunday, gather all your friends, set a theme, pick an awesome outdoor location, have everyone contribute a dish, and make it happen! You will get addicted to these gatherings like me and my friends are, I promise!

Sunday Picnic Checklist 

long table // 8 big blankets // outdoor throw pillows // bottles of wine and sparkling water // mason jars // serving ladle // cutting board // good knives with blade covers // lemons // guacamole // tongs for the bbq // big serving spoons // biodegradable plates // forks + knives // bonfire pit // charcoal // lighter fluid // starter log // firewood // extra sweaters and socks to stay cozy after sunset

All photography taken by our beautiful creative friend Rozy, aka Rozanne Edwards Media

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Throw a Gender Reveal Party

To gender reveal or not to gender reveal -- that is the question. On all the pregnancy blogs, it's a hot topic of debate, whether or not to make a "big deal" of the news. I thought about it for about 2.5 seconds and decided we were most definitely doing a gender reveal party!

We had an emotionally tough third month of my pregnancy with the news of my Grandfather's cancer returning, and his health being up and down day-to-day, I knew this would be the perfect thing to bring some light-hearted joy and cause for celebration to my family. There's nothing like a little party planning to turn everyone's spirits around. This baby will be the first great-grandchild for my grandparents, and the first grandchild for my parents (as well as Devin's!) so everyone's been on the edges of their seats with anticipation to find out whether a little boy or little girl will start the next generation.

On the advice of our doctors, we waited until Week 18 to do the anatomy ultrasound scan so that the sex organs were fully developed and detectable. I've heard too many horror stories of people inquiring too early, getting the wrong reading, and buying a nursery full of pink when it was actually a boy on the way. Technically, you can find out from about Week 12 on, but we played it safe and scheduled the appointment for the 4.5 month mark.

The appointment was on a Wednesday, so we had the doctors put the result in a sealed envelope, handed that off to my sister on Wednesday night (hardest 5 hours ever!!), did our first Gender Reveal Party at home in San Diego with all our friends over the weekend (made them swear not to post anything online), and then I flew to Virginia a few days later to do our East Coast Gender Reveal Party with my whole side of the family there. It was quite a trek cross-country by myself at almost 5 months pregnant, but it was super important to me to have my sweet Grandpa involved.

Here's what we learned from the process of throwing 2 Gender Reveal Parties in one week, on two different sides of the country. Aside from the travel, this experience was super laid back, no stress, and TONS of fun. I'm so happy we decided to make this happen and celebrate a fun milestone in our first pregnancy experience.

1) Decide if you will find out first OR in front of a group
Some people like to find out privately in the doctor's office, then host to reveal it to their friends/family. I thought it would be so exciting to find out right when everyone else did. There are so few times in life when you can be completely 100% surprised, so we decided to enjoy the process alongside our favorite people.

2) THE ENVELOPE -- muy importante!
If you're like us and decide to get surprised in front of the whole crew, have your doctor put the result in a super sealed, non-transparent envelope. (not gonna lie: we tried to peak through!!) Hand it off to a trusted sibling or best friend immediately to get it out of your possession and off your mind.

3) Think carefully about who you want to be there
Remember, this is a huge thing you're about to find out! Your whole life will change forever from this moment on. We carefully hand-selected only our closest, most supportive friends to be a part of the experience and I'm so glad it turned out that way. Lots of emotions can come up that day. I ended up crying at least twice and am so grateful for the tribe that surrounded us with their love. Don't feel the need to invite everyone, do what's right for you.

4) Pick a theme
Now the fun begins! Just think about throwing a fun party and if any creative themes jump out at you, go for it. My hubby and I had recently gotten back from spending a few weeks in Mexico while I was leading yoga retreats down there, so the first thing that popped into my mind was of course -- a Mexican Piñata Party! Who doesn't love a fiesta with chips, guacamole, cervezas and margaritas?!?

5) Pick a location
Believe it or not, your friends and family want to help out more than you know. Instead of feeling the need to throw this party yourself, take it easy and allow your BFF or Mom the opportunity to host this fun get together.

6) Reveal ideas: Thanks to pinterest, there are so many cute gender reveal ideas out there. Topping my personal list of favorites to choose from were: cake cutting, box of balloons, black balloons with pink/blue confetti inside, and piñata.

here's ours!
source // betty crocker
source: radiant photography

// F I N I S H I N G  T O U C H E S //

As guests arrive at the party, have a chalkboard set up where they can cast their vote for what they think the babe will be. Another fun thing my friends thought of for our San Diego reveal is to have guests wear pink for girl or blue for boy. That's another adorable way to get guests involved and strike up conversations amongst each other. Sometimes even betting wars break out and it can get pretty hilarious!

West Coast Gender Guessing
East Coast Baby Votes
Devin after a big shot of tequila trying to break the piñata ~ we were all dying laughing!
the moment of truth . . . 

Have you hosted a gender reveal or are you planning one? Got any new, creative ideas to share? If so, send them my way! I have a feeling I'll be hosting plenty of these parties in the future for my girlfriend mamas-to-be :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Baja Bachelorette -- a Yoga Girl's Final Fiesta South of the Border

One of the best things about living in San Diego is being so close to our beautiful neighboring country, Mexico. Less than an hour drive south and you're living large in an oceanfront villa with all your friends, eating the best tacos you've ever tasted and sipping delicious margaritas without a care in the world. I've been doing once-a-month weekend jaunts down to Baja with friends for the past 8 years and have witnessed the 100 mile stretch between Tijuana and Ensenada [Valle de Guadalupe] evolve into a trendy getaway where famous food writers and salty surfers can coexist, yet the region still retains its rustic roots. It takes the right type of person to be drawn to the wild, wild west that is Baja California, Mexico. From my experience, those of us who love Baja are down for a true off-the-beaten-path soulful adventure, have respect for the land and the locals, love speaking any form of Spanish/Spanglish we can muster, and appreciate the little (and big) bumps along the way. 

That being said, it takes a special person to seek this out, so my heart skipped a beat when my yoga student and friend Kristin hired me to plan her bachelorette party south of the border. She saw photos previous Baja Yoga Retreats and "Baja Bachelorettes" I've coordinated and wanted something similar, with a few personal touches of her own. Over the course of the next few months, together we planned the perfect 3 day getaway for Kristin and 10 of her best girlfriends, half of whom would be flying in from New Orleans, the other half from around the San Diego area. For most of them, it would be their very first time in Baja, some of them -- first time in Mexico! Knowing that I had a group of fun-loving southern California girls and open-minded sweet Southern belles on my hands, we packed the van full of yoga mats, margarita mixers, and enough good vibes to take over all of Baja Norte. 

For Kristin's final farewell before married life, her customized Baja Bachelorette itinerary included: 3 yoga classes, 1 goddess circle, fresh squeezed mimosas and healthy treats for breakfast, local taco stands for lunch, lots of chilling poolside at our beach house, a big paella dinner party, and one night out in town dancing and getting wild. A special touch that Kristin requested was horseback riding, so I took the group to All the Pretty Horses of Baja Rescue. PHR owner Krystal (originally from Texas) rehabilitates neglected and abused animals. She currently has 27 gorgeous, healthy horses on site, as well as tons of dogs, chickens, pigs and a new batch of piglettes that wiggled and squealed like crazy as we loved on them. 

The weather gods blessed us big time for this February 2016 trip. We got perfect sunshine and clear starry skies at night. The bride-to-be Kristin was over-the-moon happy with how everything flowed so smoothly and all of our faces were sore from smiling/laughing so hard over the 3 days together.

Here's a photojournal of the beautiful Baja Bach weekend I was so lucky to be a part of -- 

Much love and gratitude to this awesome group of girls that allowed me to guide them on a wild adventure south of the border! All of these amazing photos were shot by my event assistant, Rozy of Rozanne Edwards Media who came along as our in-house professional photographer, margarita maker, co-pilot, go-to girl, and so much more. Rozy and I absolutely love making these events happen! 

If you want info on hosting a Zen Girl-style Baja Bachelorette or just want to chat about all things Mexico, my inbox is always open, so don't be shy -- get in touch

For more on my Baja Mexico explorations, check out these past posts --
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