Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie [Gluten- and Dairy-Free]

This pie is THE BEST tasting pie on earth. No, really! That’s exactly what my dad proclaimed when I made it for his birthday last week. And what Dad says, goes. At least that is what I grew up being told. :)

Although it may not be the best pie on earth, it is truly the best tasting gluten free, diary free pie that I have made. It is seriously so good that I can’t image ever topping this pie. If you love chocolate and coconut (think Mounds candy bar), you will want to give this pie a try. It is simple to make, and doesn’t take long to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • Mi-Del Chocolate Snap gluten free pie crust (available in most grocery stores alongside regular
    pre-made crusts)
  • So Delicious CocoWhip (available in select grocery stores beside other frozen whipped toppings)
  • 1 can coconut cream (14 oz)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch (this can be replaced with arrowroot powder, if you prefer)
  • 2/3 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Instructions:

Before you begin, place cashews into a bowl and cover with water.  You will want these to soak no less than 4 hours, although they can soak longer. When they’re ready, rinse well.

Shake the can of coconut cream well before opening. Measure out 1 cup and pour it into a mixing bowl. Add in the cornstarch and whisk until all lumps are removed. Set aside.

Pour the remaining coconut cream into a measuring cup. There should be approx. 1/2 cup. Pour your choice of non-dairy milk (I use cashew milk) into the coconut cream to make a total of 1 cup. So this means you’ll probably use about 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk.

Add the cream/milk to a blender with soaked and rinsed cashews, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend ingredients until they become smooth and creamy.

When they’re blended well, pour the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously as it heats, bringing the mixture to a gentle simmer. When the mixture is simmering well, reduce heat to low and pour in the cream/cornstarch

Continue to whisk all ingredients for approximately 5-10 minutes until it begins to thickens. When it starts to have the same consistency as pudding, remove the mixture from the heat and add in the coconut oil. Whisk again until the mixture appears glossy.

The mixture is now ready to pour into the pies crust. Doesn’t it look delicious? Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Tip: When you place the pie into the refrigerator, this is the perfect time to also remove the Cocowhip from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator as well. This will give the Cocowhip time to thaw, which will make it easier to spread.

After 4 hours, add a layer of softened Cocowhip onto the top of the firmed pie. It’s ready to serve!

You’ll be tempted to eat it quickly because it tastes so good, but be sure to savor every bite of deliciousness. If you give this pie a try, be sure to let me know if you love it as much as I do!

 

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. All photos © 2016 by jennonamission.

 

The pie filling recipe was taken in part from Natural Girl, Modern World. Be sure to check out her blog if you’re interested in a vegan option pie crust and simple whipped topping.

Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event

When I learned about my food allergies last year, my blog changed. I went from posting recipes of quick meals made with ingredients that I had purchased for next-to-nothing with coupons, to experiments made with new products that I had never heard of before. It has been challenging, but in a wonderful way.

Although I feel like I have learned a lot since my diagnosis, I also know that I have barely scratched the surface on all there is to know. That is why I am so excited (and extremely honored) to have been selected to be a part of the Blogger Team for the upcoming Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Greensboro on September 10.

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Key speakers for this event are: Dr. Nicole DiNezza, DC, NTP, Jennifer Cuevas, Tarah Jakubiak, Meg Huebner, Rodger Lenhardt, Beth Mincher, and Drs. Roosevelt Smith, and Clifton Mays. They will be discussing an array of topics including essential oils, traveling with allergies, and digestive disorders. There will also be many vendors on site, including some well-known brands. It is going to be an amazing resource for anyone with food allergies, whether you were recently diagnosed or have battled them for years. 

I will be posting updates throughout the event; if you’re unable to attend, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I will also post a blog with highlights from the event the week of September 11.

Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. Please comment below if you’re planning to attend. I would love to connect with you at the event!

 

As a Blogger Team member, I will receive free admission and possibly additional compensation for posts regarding this event.

Greensboro Science Center

As summer winds down and families prepare to head back to school, I wanted to share with you a hidden gem right here in the NC Triad that can serve as both a last-minute daycation and an educational field trip.

Welcome to the Greensboro Science Center!

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The Greensboro Science Center is located on Lawndale Drive, just minutes off of I-40, and houses a museum, zoo, and aquarium. All can be accessed for one admission price of roughly $12. Also on site, but not included in admission, are a restaurant, a theater, and an outdoor adventure center. Hours vary between attractions, but all are open nearly year-round.

My family and I recently visited the science center, and had a wonderful time. These are a few of the highlights from our trip:

The Carolina ScQuarium is home to many animals, including sharks, stingrays, penguins, and otters! We began our day enjoying the stingrays and sharks; we were allowed to touch them! My niece said that the stingrays were very soft but the shark felt more like a lizard. At 10am, we ventured over to the African penguins where we listened to a presentation while they were being fed.


After we finished in the Aquarium, we headed over to Destination: Dinosaur. It was an exhibit of fossils and dinosaur replicas, which was both educational and fun! I knew T-Rex had tiny arms, but I guess I never really knew just how tiny until I saw the comparison between it and a smaller raptor.

Just around the corner from the dinosaur exhibit was HealthQuest. It was a room full of hands-on exhibits that covered everything from sneezing and gastrointestinal sounds to reflexes and nutrition.

Our next stop was the Animal Discovery Zoo! My youngest nephew enjoyed the goats and chickens in the petting zoo, while his older brother and sister checked out the wallabies. My favorite part of the zoo were the gibbons. They looked like they were having so much fun!

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As we looped around the zoo’s path, we stumbled upon Davis Kelly Fountain. It was not only beautiful (and entertaining to the younger kids) but was a refreshing spot for such a hot Carolina day. The fountains played music and the water sprayed to the rhythm of each song!

Adjacent to the fountain was the Discovery House. Here, you could see (and pet!) animals like the domestic rabbit, ferret, guinea pig, and this adorable chinchilla below. There were also armadillos, porcupines, snakes, and an Egyptian bat!

As you can imagine, we worked up quite the appetite with all of our adventures, so we heading back inside the main building to grab lunch at The Fresh Market Cafe. I was impressed by their selection of food; there was truly something for everyone. My mom and youngest nephew enjoyed hot dogs, my sister-in-law had a turkey and cranberry sandwich on wheat, another nephew has pizza, and my niece enjoyed mac and cheese. The Fresh Market Grill is very allergy friendly, so I had delicious gluten free chicken strips and hummus with carrots.

Once we had our bellies full, we played a bit in Sciplay Bay. There were several rooms with a mixture of interactive elements, stunning special effects, and live- action adventures.

We finished our day with the TWC Extreme Weather Gallery, learning about record rain falls, variances in hail sizes, and feeling hurricane-force winds.

We didn’t make it downstairs to the Herpetarium Exhibit. We were all tired and ready to head home. But I feel certain that we’ll go back. In addition to the exhibits we did not see, the science center is expanding! They’re on a three-phase plan with final construction scheduled to be completed by 2020. I highly recommend visiting the Greensboro Science Center on a regular basis over the next four years.

 

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. All photos © 2016 by jennonamission.



 

NC Blogger Network Triad Meetup

Hello blogger friends! I am hosting a fun meetup next month, and I hope that you will join me. It will take place on Thursday, September 1 at 6:30pm.

This will be the first NCBN Triad Blogger Meetup of 2016, and my first meetup hosting as NC Blogger Network’s Triad Ambassador.

The event will be held at the newly re-branded Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar at Friendly Center in Greensboro. Enjoy an evening of socializing, free appetizers and a drink special* (complements of the restaurant), and the chance to win a door prize.

NCBN Triad Meetup
During our event you’ll get to mingle and network with area bloggers and their influential friends, gain insight about the NC Blogger Network (if you aren’t already a member) and learn who is blogging practically in your own backyard.

The meetup is open to all members, non members, and bloggers in general. Seating is limited, so be sure to grab your tickets early, and please bring a friend! Click here to RSVP.

*You will be responsible for purchasing your own drinks and any additional food.

Ladies, It’s Time to Get: Outdoors!

After my failed attempt to paddle down the Yadkin in a tiny kayak a couple of months ago, I was in search of two things: someone who could fit me for the right sized kayak, and someone who could teach me how to maneuver it correctly. I was told that Great Outdoor Provision Co. would hold demos but when I checked their event calendar online, all local demos had already passed. I was starting to convince myself that it would be springtime before I would get to be fitted, when out-of-the-blue, a friend told me about a Demo Day in Greensboro through a company called Get: Outdoors. It was scheduled for July 23, and I already had plans for that day, so I jumped on the company’s website hopeful to find more Demo Days scheduled. What I found was even better.

Get: Outdoors has an amazing program called Women on the Water. (I love that the acronym is GO WOW.) The program is lead by JoAndra Proia, an ACA Certified Kayaking Instructor/Guide and Yoga Instructor. GO WOW offers women encouragement, support, and training for paddling flat water and beyond. Jo is passionate about unplugging from the digital world, sharing her knowledge of wildlife and nature, and teaching outdoor safety from kayaking to camping skills to first aid. Not only does GO WOW offer instruction, but they have many opportunities to utilize the skills that are learned in class with both day trips and overnight adventures. And it’s all for women only. How empowering!

I picked up the phone and immediately called Get: Outdoors to register for two classes that were being held on the same day, Intro to Kayaking and Foundations & Fundamentals 1. They were both held at the same location, one right after the other. The classes were only $35 each for two hours of instruction. The cost included kayak, life vest (PFDs), paddle, and lake fee. When I registered, I explained my previous experience and what I was hoping to find in a kayak. I was told that there would be several options of kayaks to choose from that day, and that fitting/demo was part of the class. I was ecstatic!

Just as promised, on the day of the class I was given the opportunity to demo any of the kayaks that Jo had brought. After chatting with her, and checking out the different makes and models, I ended up falling in love with the Perception Prodigy 12.0. It handled so easily, was just the right speed for me, and was surprisingly comfortable. At 12′ long, it only weighs around 50lbs. It includes knee/thigh pads around the open cockpit, slide lock foot braces, and an oval stern hatch.

The Intro to Kayaking class began at 10am. Many of us had very little paddling experience; some of us had no experience at all. Jo was thorough in making sure we were prepared well before we launched our boats. We had a PFD demonstration followed by how to enter and exit our kayaks. Once we were in the water, we covered the basics: forward paddle, reverse paddle, side sweep, and how to raft up.


Here are the participants from the Intro to Kayaking class at our first raft up. That’s me on the far right, at the end.


We’re working on our paddle grip in this photo. I have a tendency to hold my paddle too tight. The correct grip allows you to be able to wiggle your fingers. It took some getting used to, but I finally got it!


Jo had us team up to work on our side stroke. It’s hard to tell if you’re moving sideways without a stationary kayak beside of you. One of us would sit while the other paddled away. That way, we could better tell if we were actually moving to the side or forward.

At noon, class dismissed. Some of the ladies left. The three of us who were staying for the 1pm class had a nice lunch under the lake’s picnic shelter with Jo. We were able to ask additional questions and chat about paddling in general. It was fun learning about the history of Get: Outdoors, and all of Jo’s adventures!


At 1pm, the Foundations & Fundamentals class got underway. Those of us who had attended the morning class helped the “new” students with prepping. We grabbed a partner and shared our new-found knowledge with step-by-step instructions for PDFs and foot brace adjustment.

Once everyone was ready and boats were selected (I remained in the Prodigy), we headed back out on the water to learn more advanced maneuvers like “rainbow” sweeps, edging, steering with our hips, and spinning the kayak.

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Our afternoon raft up. :)


We even got in a little kay-yoga!

When class finished, we helped Jo load our kayaks back onto the trailer. I whispered “see you again soon” to the Prodigy, since Jo wouldn’t let me take her on home with me. haha [Get: Outdoors has an end-of-season sale in September where they offer their used boats at a discounted price. I am hoping to attend the sale and find my new-to-me kayak just in time for some last-minute fall paddling.] I left the marina around 3:15pm with a huge smile on my face. Yes, I had just received four hours of very educational training… but I also gained so much more. I had a new-found confidence, met some great people, and even had a sun-kissed glow on my arms and legs. (Hey, I don’t tan very easily so that’s a big deal to me!) It was such a wonderful experience. I just wanted to find a kayak that fit me but instead, I have found a new community of women with whom I can be adventurous.

Ladies, if you live in or around the NC Triad area and have ever considered paddling but aren’t sure where to begin, I highly recommend GO WOW. It is an experience that you will not regret. I hope to see you all on the water soon!


Happy Paddling!

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. Photo credit: JoAndra Proia

Motivation Monday: Start Small

Life is overwhelming. From our every day To-Do lists to our goals and dreams, the anxiety of stepping out to tackle all that life has to offer can stop you in your tracks. No one knows this better than me. Just in the last week alone, I have been overwhelmed five times. Seriously! Cleaning the house put me in a tailspin because I worried over what room to start first. Creating a meal plan for my new color-coded diet took me two hours because I felt like I had too many meals to categorize. And don’t even get me started on this website. Do you know how many blog ideas I have in my head? I have started them all, but finished none. It is often paralyzing, and results in unfinished chores and missed deadlines. (Yes, this Motivation Monday post is officially a week late!)

I tend to focus on the big picture. I want to see the end result. I want to reap the benefits. Who doesn’t? But if we’re so focused on looking ahead to the finish line that we stop taking steps forward, we’ll never complete the race.

There is one common factor that can help us in achieving all of our aspirations, no matter the goal. START SMALL.

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It has been said that one of the top habits of a successful person is their ability to start small. Katie Ledecky is an Olympic swimmer from the US, who holds the current world record for the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle. She began swimming at the age of six. Although she was born into a family of swimmers, Katie couldn’t swim the length of the pool at such a young age. Although she was determined to get to the other side, she often had to hold onto the rope for help. Did that make her less of a swimmer? No. She knew that in order to reach her destination, she had to continue forward even if it meant slowing down, reassessing her focus, and occasionally reaching out for help. Her small, yet persistent beginning has taken her to her second Olympics, where she continues to succeed.

Like Katie, I also want to reach the other end of the pool, so to speak, on several goals. But the difference is that I seem to always ungracefully jump into the water and then flail around somewhere in the middle. There is no forward movement, no focus outside of the end results, and I never reach out for help.

In order to overcome the sense of being overwhelmed by our goals, we must think on a small scale. What plans to you have? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to better your health? Do you just want to get your house clean and organized? Let’s think about how we can ‘reach the other end of the pool’ in these types of scenarios.

Most small businesses start with brainstorming. Many of us can dream up ideas. But did you know that there are steps forward in the brainstorming process that we should take BEFORE we advance to the ‘next section of the pool’? When we’re in this initial phase, we should slow down and take the time to focus on questions like, “What could go wrong with this business and how would I solve it?” and “What are the main things I want my customers to know about me?” After you have considered all of the questions that may arise about your business in general, then move onto to the next step… gathering resources. This may be your opportunity to ‘grab the rope’ by reaching out for assistance. See the pattern? Small, slow, and steady progression forward.

When it comes to my health, I don’t want slow and steady progression! I saw a quote yesterday that read:

“Two days into my diet and I’m still not skinny? This is bulls#!*”

Right? I want immediate results. Don’t you? And that is the number one reason why most diets and exercise plans fail. We jump in… all-in… with no small steps planned. We would be better off setting smaller goals. Want to lose 30 pounds? Your first goal should be 10, and only 10. Interested in a 5K? Your first goal should be one mile. Once you’re comfortable with that distance, then you can focus on two. Need to change your eating habits? Pick one thing to slowly remove and replace it. Cookies to fruit. Chips to carrots. Don’t try to give up everything at once. And most importantly, reach out for help! Have an accountability partner. Download an app to use. Join a group in your community with similar goals. All of these things are small steps toward your ultimate goal.

For me, instead of looking at how unorganized my entire house is, I have decided to focus on one room at a time. I am not going to rush. I am allowing myself one week per room. I will start small and take the slow and steady forward approach, beginning with the room that I use the least and work toward my busiest, most cluttered space. Being able to finish one room will not only give me the satisfaction of completing a small goal, but it will also motivate me to tackle the next, more unorganized, area of the house.

Let’s make a promise that the next time we’re feeling overwhelmed by our big dreams and lofty goals, instead of abandoning them, we’ll continue forward, slowing down from time-to-time to reassess our focus on smaller steps, and reaching out for help when needed. Big things are in our futures!

Office to Evening: Layered Summer Fashion

With the recent heat dome covering most of the United States, many of us are dealing with record high temps outside. But what about inside? For those of us lucky enough to work in an office, the climate can be quite different. Look familiar?

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It is always freezing in my office because a coworker keeps the air conditioning set to subarctic levels. Every morning I stand in my closet and ponder, “What do I wear today that will be appropriate for the forecasted triple digit record highs, knowing that the office is going to feel like I just walked into a refrigerator?” Staying warm in the air conditioning doesn’t have to be unfashionable. And you shouldn’t have to pack a second set of clothes to change into if you’re meeting friends for dinner after work. I have compiled a list of essentials for the professional to help win this battle.

Women’s Essentials


LEGGINGS: Leggings are the perfect complement to the cute summer dress. I prefer leggings over tights for two reasons; they come in both a variety of thickness and length. It is very easy to customize a degree of warmth that is perfect for you by selecting a thicker ankle-length legging or a thinner capri-length. Don’t forget, if your dress is solid color, add a splash of fun with a patterned legging. Bonus: Leggings don’t cover your feet so you can easily slip out of your leggings quickly, and without having to unbuckle and take off your fashionable sandals. You’ll shed that layer and be ready for a warm summer evening in less than a minute!


ANKLE BOOTS: Ankle boots are so adorable, and can pair with just about any outfit during any season of the year. They’re fashionable and functional! Those of you like me, who can never get warm unless your toes are warm, will appreciate that ankle boots can discretely hide a pair of no-show socks! Toss a pair of thin sandals or flip flops into your purse, and change out of your ankle boots and socks before heading out for the evening.


KIMONO: The kimono has to be one of my favorite new fashion trends. They look great paired with a blouse and dress pants or with a white tank top and jean shorts. A kimono can be worn over a sundress or a semiformal dress. This piece is so versatile; every woman should own one! Admit it… layering has never been more chic.

Men’s Essentials


HOODIE: Hoodies aren’t just for game day! Layers can sometimes be uncomfortable, but hoodies provide a lot of comfort and warmth. I mean, who doesn’t love wearing a hoodie? They’re also extremely easy to care for. A classic black, navy, or gray hoodie is very acceptable in an office setting. Leave one hanging on the back of your office door for warmth and style.


VEST: Men’s vests are always in style. This classic piece is perfect for layering. They come in a variety of styles and material, and are probably as versatile as the women’s kimono. They can be worn over both t-shirts and button down shirts, and are an easy transition for the cold office.

UNDERSHIRT: Undershirts, like women’s leggings, come in a large selection of styles and thickness. Although it isn’t as easy to remove this layer, companies like Tommy John create awesome undershirts that can be worn as a single layer t-shirt. With its premium, stay dry fabric, this comfy and cool option is perfect for a casual night of drinks with the guys. [Tommy John not only specializes in t-shirts, but they offer a great selection of men's underwear as well.]

Essentials for Both


CARDIGAN: The Cardigan will always be a favorite of mine. Classic and comfy, it speaks for itself. Originating in the 1800s, the Cardigan proves that it is here to stay. It is an office staple for both women and men.


SCARF: Scarves are typically thought of as a winter accessory for both men and women. However, if you’re looking for an easy layer of warmth, consider the scarf as an office accessory too. Scarves come in an array of lengths, fabrics, and colors/patterns to complement any outfit. And they are extremely trendy for guys and gals!


JACKET: The number one office go-to for layered summer fashion is, without a doubt, the jacket. The ultimate in class and versatility, a jacket pulls together an outfit while offering an extra layer of warmth. However, when you think of jackets, you shouldn’t only think of suit coats. Consider all cuts and materials, including the Summer Blazer for men. They come in a variety of styles, even offering different sleeve lengths, and fabrics, including linen and seersucker as popular choices. Ladies, don’t rule out denim. A tailored jean jacket over a sleeveless blouse adds style and comfort to white dress pants or a patterned pencil skirt. Slip the jackets off for the easiest of transitions to a dinner date or an evening out with friends.

I hope that my list of Office-to-Evening essentials have been helpful. If you’re still a bit overwhelmed, consider incorporating one or two pieces at first. Not sure you can pull off a scarf or leggings? That’s okay! Start with classic pieces and build from there. The thing to remember is that layers are key in helping you transition from a frigid office setting to a hot night on the town.

 

 

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. Photo credits can be viewed by hovering over each image above. All sources found online.

When Life No Longer Revolves Around Food

Thoughts From a Recovering Food Addict

I can recall, in the not-too-distant past, when I would encourage monthly potlucks at work. There was always something to celebrate. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, babies, retirements … a random Thursday! I could truly turn any day into a reason to host a potluck. Why? Because I loved food. And ultimately, that’s really what I celebrated with every passing potluck.

Food also comforted me when I was worried, became my confidant when I was angry, and helped me pass the time when I was bored. Food had control of my life. I lived for food. And it was killing me.

Last year, I learned about my food allergies after suffering from many health problems including: belly issues, muscle pain, migraines, and chronic fatigue. I had no idea that these symptoms were subtle signs of my body’s rejection of dairy proteins. The moment I was diagnosed, my life changed. Suddenly, I had to analyze every morsel that went into my mouth. I had to read every single ingredient on the packaging. I had to search the websites of restaurants in advance to learn if they would have allergen-free menus when I arrived. It was a painstaking processes. It didn’t take long before I realized that buying pre-made cookie dough in the grocery store, or grabbing a quick meal from a drive-thru just wasn’t worth the effort that I had to put into it. I started reaching for simpler foods with less ingredients to decipher. When I wanted something sweet, I grabbed whole foods… dates, apples, strawberries, or grapes instead of contemplating whether that dark chocolate candy bar was really made of dark chocolate or some kind of blend containing milk fat. My perspective changed, and slowly… I stopped celebrating food.

Despite now knowing many dairy- and gluten-free products at a glance, I’m still in awe of the transition that I have made. Not physically, but mentally. I have entered a phase in which I could easily begin celebrating food again. I know where to find allergen free cheesecakes and pizza, and which fast food restaurants are safe. But I don’t live for food anymore, because I’ve learned the joy in celebrating the moment instead.

A great example of this is how I chose to celebrate my birthday. In the past, I celebrated with about four slices of a large, stuffed crust pizza and an oversized slice (or so) of a 9″ layered cake from my favorite bakery. That was typically preceded by a sweet, carb-heavy breakfast and followed by dinner out on the town. This year, however, food played a very small part in my day. Instead, I started my morning with an hour-long massage, followed by time with family, and ending with a concert and dancing with friends. I barely remember what I ate that day. Throughout the day I had a bottle of my favorite juice, likely a protein bar or some other healthy snack(s), and I did stop by Zoe’s Kitchen for a delicious Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and Gigi’s for a gluten free, vegan cupcake! (I still eat sweets… I just eat a cupcake instead of 1/2 the layer cake now.) My point is, I enjoyed life. I relaxed, I laughed, and I celebrated the moment. Memories far exceeded the calories this year.

I no longer plan office potlucks. We rarely have them now, and no one seems to mind. I have had the opportunity over the last few months, however, to help plan celebrations with others; things like baby showers and baptisms where food generally seems to take precedence over the actual event. It’s eye opening to me to see the amount of, and variety of, food that folks feel should be available at these special occasions. I didn’t realize the effort that I used to put into planning and preparing an event around food until I removed myself from that. I can now see how much effort others put into it. Food first, then all of the other details later. Those kind of events generally end in tummy aches and leftover casseroles for days.

I still enjoy food. I love trying new recipes and occasionally meeting friends at restaurants. I think it’s great to serve food at events. I don’t want this post to come across as my being anti-food. But I do ask you to stop and consider the intent of food at your next event. Make sure you’re not like the old me… celebrating mac & cheese and red velvet cake, making memories with pasta salad and chocolate chip cookies, and overlooking the real reason you’ve gathered together. I promise that you will be more likely to remember little things like the way the bride smiled at her new husband when they thought no one noticed, than the way the chicken salad sandwiches tasted. At the end of the day, your hearts will be more full than your bellies.

Beat the Heat: 5 Tips for Runners

A Guide to Running During the Summer Months

Here in North Carolina, it’s quite common for our summers to be very hot and humid. This summer in particular, we have had a record number of days over 90-degrees. It’s no secret that I love warm weather (And by warm weather, I mean that triple-digit temperatures makes me happy!) but even I struggle with enjoying outdoor workouts during this time of year. If you’re new to running, it’s usually the first week of consistently warm days that is the hardest, and makes you question if you want to continue running at all. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP! Ask around and you will quickly learn that the most seasoned runners struggle in this kind of heat too. It’s harder on our bodies to adjust to warm weather, but with the right approach, you can beat the summer heat. Here are five quick tips that are sure to help.

1. Hydrate — Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of fluids. The recommended 64 oz of water per day won’t cut it. You’re going to need more. You’ll want more than just water. And you’ll need to drink more often than the day of a run. For me, I have found that during the summer months, I drink around 100 oz of water per day. Additionally, I drink a minimum of 16-20 oz of Nuun the night before a run, as well as immediately after a run. It is important to drink an electrolyte – Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium – replacement to replenish what is naturally lost when we sweat. I recommend Nuun because it has no sugar and no carbs. {Compared to Gatorade, which has over 20g(+) of sugar per serving!} Nuun is a gluten free, soy free, vegan, nonGMO, made in the USA tablet that you simply drop down into a bottle of water. The tablet immediately starts to dissolve, creating a fizzy, flavorful beverage. I love that Nuun is completely portable and can be adjusted to your liking. (I often break tablets in half and mix two flavors to customize my drink to the perfect taste.) If you’d like to learn more about Nuun, click here.

nuun1  nuun2

2. Clothing — I have known so many new runners who have rushed out to their local department store to buy running outfits. They’re excited to finally start running and want to look the part. I was guilty of it when I first started. How can you blame anyone? Have you seen some of the running clothes available? They’re so cute! But there’s a big mistake that many of us make: I didn’t like the way my legs looked in shorts, and I certainly wasn’t going to show off my jiggly arms! So, I bought clothes based on how much they covered and how well the outfit matched. What I ended up with was a dresser full of clothing that made me feel miserable during workouts. The material wasn’t moisture-wicking or cooling, and the capri pants were causing me to overheat. Did you know that when you run, you should dress for a 20-degree increase? That means, if it is 70 degrees outside… you should dress like it is 90! Although it was a struggle, I finally learned to put my self-consciousness aside and buy/wear clothing that is appropriate for summer workouts. Here’s a photo of a typical summer run outfit. It’s still cute, right?

clothes

I love the pop of color in my Nike shorts. Running shorts can be tricky. I highly suggest trying on several different styles to find the right fit for you. There are many different lengths and fits to choose from. In my three years of running with strangers, I can honestly tell you that I have never paid attention to anyone’s legs. Stop thinking that everyone will be paying attention to yours. They won’t. Do yourself a favor and buy shorts! They even make shorts with a skirt over them. I own two pair of those. Adorable, functional, and NOT form fitting. You have options!

The same goes for arms. I have never paid attention to, or even compared, others’ arms to mine. All it takes is wearing a tank top to one 90-degree run and you’ll fall in love. My favorite tank is this Brooks black and white geo print tank. The busy pattern camouflages and distracts, and is so much fun! This tank top is also quite long in length, which I love.

And friends, let’s not forget our feet! It is so very, very important to wear good socks to prevent blisters and provide support. I recommend Feetures! They’re a North Carolina-based, family-owned company that offers a lifetime warranty on their products. (Seriously… a lifetime warranty!) They’re the only sock that I wear in the summertime. I even recently wore them on vacation. I was the only person out of our group of six who did not get a single blister. Coincidence? Nope! That’s just how great Feetures! are. Click here to learn more about these great socks.

3. Sunscreen — It’s an easy oversight. When I first started running, I wanted to make sure that I had my earbuds, my cell phone, and my Garmin. Anything else was an afterthought. All it took was one 5K in early June to help me realize that there is more to summertime running than good music. I was sunburned! So now, before I even dress in my cute (yet weather-appropriate) outfit, I apply sunscreen. I personally use Banana Boat Sport 30SPF because it is water resistant… and I don’t sweat it off! I like to take the UltraMist in my bag for touch ups, especially since it also cools and refreshes.

sunscreen

4. Accessories — Sometimes, it’s the small things that can make all of the difference. Some of my favorite small items that help make summer running more bearable are:
A hat or visor
Sunglasses
Chapstick

accessories

And my all-time favorite accessory…. the Nathan Insulated Handheld water bottle. It slides right on my hand without the worry of having to grip it the entire run, and with one quick squeeze, I can have cold water at my fingertips. Literally. Nathan also makes waist paks, vests, and hydration belts, too. Check them out by clicking here.

nathan

5. Early Morning Workouts — Early birds will rejoice and night owls will cry, but the number one way to beat the summer heat is to get your run in as soon as the sun comes up. (Maybe even before, if you have a safe, well lit place to run.) Even on the hottest days, most morning temps are considerably cooler. For example, the highs for this week have been in the mid-90s but the morning lows have been around 68-degrees. Much better, right? You’ll have an easier run, and you’ll have your workout in before your day even gets started. Think of the extra time you’ll have in the afternoons, too!

If the thought of waking up early to get your run in is absolutely against everything you believe in… there’s always an indoor run on a treadmill. But where’s the fun in that? ;)

Are you new to running? Comment below if you’ve found these tips to be helpful. Are you a seasoned runner? We’d love for you to comment below with any additional tips that you may have to share. Happy Running!

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I did not received compensation from, nor am I affiliated with any company listed. All products were purchased by me, including giveaways. Opinions expressed here are my own and were not influenced in any manner.