Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide

Hey y’all, welcome back to the blog! ‘TIS THE SEASON of gift giving and receiving. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably just now really starting to get in the mindset of Christmas shopping. Between classes, finals, travel and packing, I generally tend to wait until I get home to actually start thinking who I need to shop for and also what I would like to get them. Honestly, the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season hasn’t even set in for me yet.

We all have those people in our lives who are just hard to shop for because either they have everything or are just one of those people who will literally love anything you get for them. You obviously don’t want to not get them anything at all, yet you also don’t want to just take the easy way out and grab a last minute, thoughtless gift card either. You want a gift that has some thought behind it, right? So what do you do??

With Christmas in just two weeks, at this point, time (and funds – let’s be honest lol), are limited. If you’re drawing a blank on gift ideas, look no further my friends! I have curated a holiday gift guide with practical, inexpensive, eco-friendly gift ideas! This collection of products originates from things that I personally own or have bought for others as a gift in the past. The older I get, the more practical I become in not only the gifts that I want, but also those that I purchase for others.

Instead of wasting money on a gift that’s going to end up in someone’s goodwill pile by Valentine’s day, why not use this holiday to be more intentional with your gift giving and encourage someone to make a lifestyle change for the better all while doing good by Mother Earth?

By opting for an eco-friendly gift, you are helping a loved one jump start, or continue, on their journey of going green. These gift ideas are a great way to help others, or even yourself, incorporate sustainable practices into their lifestyle, without feeling like they’re going out of their way or being inconvenienced. I find that when it comes to going green, most people don’t do things simply because they are unaware, which is why I like to take opportunities like the holidays to teach them. You can use these gifts to spark up conversation at Christmas dinner. By no means do you have to shove environmentalism down your family’s throats at the table. Please don’t be that person, that’s no fun for anyone lol. What you CAN do is give an eco-friendly gift that is tailored to the lifestyle and routine of the person you’re buying for. This way it is something they like, will use (whether they know it’s better for the environment or not) and fits into their everyday routine. You’ll have your family out here being sustainable without even realizing it and before you know it, they may decide to take it step further and partake in other sustainable practices by their own merit! The point is, do your loved one, your wallet, and Mother Earth a favor by giving a gift that takes the first step for them and once you’ve familiarized them and gotten them started, you never know what could come of it. Even baby steps are a step forward. Direct links to purchase each item are included in the list – just click and enjoy!

1. Eco Tote (Reusable Bags)

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Reusable bags are inexpensive, versatile & a great way to make that first step toward living green in your everyday routine. Plastic bags are major source of pollution in our world’s oceans and often kill wildlife as they ingest them mistaking them for jellyfish. On top of that, plastic bags aren’t conveniently recycled. I use reusable bags for basically everything;  grocery bags, overnight bags, carry-ons, you name it. These totes make a great gift and can even be used as a gift bag for another Christmas gift — a sustainable alternative to paper gift wrap. That’s like 2 gifts in one! These can be purchased in a variety of sizes and design just about anywhere. My favorite place to buy them are Aldi and TJ Maxx (pictured – only 99 cents at TJ Maxx).

2. Reusable Water Bottle | Hydro Flask

water bottle

Whether glass or stainless steel, a reusable water bottle is definitely a must-have. This would make for a great stocking stuffer. A water bottle is a practical gift that everyone can use. Carrying around a reusable water bottle makes it easy to stop buying single use plastic bottles.

FUN FACTS:

  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year. (BanTheBottle.net)
  • In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public. (BanTheBottle.net)

3. Reusable Coffee Cup | Hydro Flask

coffee mug

This gift idea is in the likeness of the reusable water bottle. Encourage your coffee drinking loved ones to keep a reusable cup with them & stray away from the disposable paper cups. I find that stainless steel coffee mugs are often better insulated.

4. Stainless Steel Straws | Groupon

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Single use plastic straws are a nuisance and major source of pollution in streams and oceans worldwide. Plastic straws not only clutter our beautiful beaches but also harm wildlife and destroy vital ecosystems worldwide. As a result, more & more restaurants are beginning to provide plastic straws only upon request, which I think is great. You can take someone’s straw game a step further by gifting these reusable stainless steel straws. A lot of them even come with a convenient carrying case, so the next time you or a friend are eating out, y’all can just whip out your fancy sustainable straw & feel good about yourselves and your contribution to environmental movement 🙂

5. Reusable Storage Bags | Art of Liv’n

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If you follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), you’ve seen me post about these before. Although convenient & cost effective, disposable plastic bags are not recyclable, and as a result end up in landfills and pollute water bodies after a short, single use life cycle. Say goodbye to plastic Ziploc bags & hello to reusable, non-toxic, eco-friendly snack & sandwich bags! Just ONE of these bags can last for as long as the life of 500 plastic baggies!! They keep your food fresh, are dishwasher safe and are free of lead, BPA, PVC and Phthalates. This is a great gift option for your lunch packing friends and family, especially those with school-aged children.

6. Bamboo Toothbrush | Amazon

toothbrush

Toothbrushes are another practical, everyday item that can be easily replaced with a more environmentally friendly alternative. These come in a pack of 4 and make for a great stocking stuffers as well. They are biodegradable and made of natural bamboo and charcoal.

7. Glass Food Storage Containers | Amazon

tupperware

About two years ago, I ditched all of my plastic Tupperware for this set of glass food storage containers and honestly have never looked back. No longer do I have to deal with discolored containers, mismatched/missing lids and all of the other headaches that come with cheap Tupperware. Not to mention the fact that they are plastic and when heated can leach harmful chemicals into your food. Glass food storage containers are more durable and as a result have a longer life than its plastic counterparts. This gift is a great investment for your meal prepping friends and family.

8. Compostable Phone Case | Pela Case

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A few months back, I saw a post on IG that was an image of a dumpster full of a store’s complete inventory of all the older model iPhone cases that would no longer useable/sellable and thus, disposed of once the newest model of the iPhone came out. While staring at this picture, I immediately started to think about how many plastic phone cases I have thrown out over the years with each phone upgrade, or just because I got a new case, without even thinking twice….and then I got sad. Wastefulness is so normalized in our society, that even myself as an environmentalist sometimes doesn’t realize the impacts of my actions, but it’s time to change that narrative. So much of our daily lives revolve around plastic (both intentionally and unintentionally), when it doesn’t necessarily have to, especially with something simple and practical as a phone case. It is so important to bring awareness to these topics and use the power of our dollar to demand change regarding the quality and types of goods that are offered to us. Currently, the vast majority of the phone cases on the market are made of non-recyclable plastic. With that being said, I quickly started to look for a better, more sustainable solution. Surely, someone has invented a recyclable, plastic free phone case, right? Low and behold, I stumbled upon Pela Case. These cases come in a wide variety of colors and designs for different tastes and also support multiple phone styles (iPhone, Samsung and Google Pixel). They are lightweight, flexible, stylish and protective. They are also made of plant-based materials tested to be safe and free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium and lead and are 100% COMPOSTABLE! To make the deal even sweeter, a portion of their proceeds are donated to support various environmental initiatives related to wildlife and plastic pollution. They also ship using minimal packaging, making for a low waste purchase, which is always a plus. I know a lot of times, we as consumers can be deterred from more sustainable alternatives due to cost, which I totally get, hence my budget-friendly eco gift guide. To my surprise, the price of these cases are comparable to the plastic brand that I currently buy (~$40). This gift would be perfect for just about anyone on your list because, I mean, who doesn’t have a smart phone these days and with the way these things are designed (at least the iPhone), a protective case is not an option. So, basically, what I’m saying is, you have no excuse lol Gift a loved one (or yourself) with a conscious phone case this Christmas season!

I hope this gift guide was helpful in providing you with some  budget-friendly ideas and we all scramble to finish up our last minute Christmas shopping. This Christmas, I challenge you to think twice with your gift giving by investing in gifts that are enjoyable, useful and have long-term benefits for our Earth. When it comes to environmentalism, one person can make a huge difference.

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Happy Shopping,

xoJ

 

10 Healthy Sheet Pan Meals For Busy Weeknights

Summer is over and back to school season is officially here!! If I’m being honest, I’m 100% here for summer coming to an end. I’ve been over summer for about a month now and am just patiently awaiting fall. Anywhooo, classes start on Monday for me and just by glancing at my planner, I can already tell this semester is going to be cuh-razy! With that being said, having a streamline weeknight routine is going to be vital to both my success and my sanity. It’s important to me that I maximize productivity and continue to take care of myself all without sacrificing the quality (and healthiness) of my meals during week. With class, lab work, writing and studying, as a grad student, sometimes I just don’t have the time or the energy to cook an elaborate clean eating meal prep. As a result, I often end up grabbing dinner from a drive-thru because, well, convenience. If you’re in the same boat as me, I’m here to help you out!

Today, I am sharing with you 10 delicious, healthy sheet pan meals that are ideal for busy weeknights!

It’s a minimal dishes, minimal prep, all in one type of deal. BONUS: most of the recipes are also meal prep friendly! So, if you’re cooking for one or two, one of these sheet pan dinners could last you the whole week! With protein, grains and veggies all together on one baking sheet, you’ll have dinner on the table in no time while feeling confident that you’re saving time without sacrificing nutrition. Whether you’re a parent with school-aged children, a student like myself or just a lazy cook in need of some easy recipes, this post is for you! I have compiled a list of 10 healthy sheet pan recipes consisting of chicken, beef, seafood & vegan/vegetarian friendly meals – so there’s something for everyone! Each recipe is linked, so just click on the title to be redirected.


1. Sheet Pan Sesame Chicken and Veggies | Eat Yourself Skinny

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Image Source: Eat Yourself Skinny

2. Sheet Pan Fajitas | Our Best Bites

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Image Source: Our Best Bites

3. Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil | Damn Delicious

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Image Source: Damn Delicious

4. Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Salmon and Rainbow Veggies | Cooking Classy

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Image Source: Cooking Classy

5. Sheet Pan Beef and Broccoli | Averie Cooks

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Image Source: Averie Cooks

6. Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Veggies | The Kitchn

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Image Source: The Kitchn

7. Sheet Pan Bruschetta Chicken | The Girl on Bloor

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Image Source: The Girl on Bloor

8. Sheet Pan Kung Pao Tofu | Last Ingredient

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Image Source: Last Ingredient

9. Southwest Breakfast Sheet Pan Bake | Lone Star Nutrition

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Image Source: Lone Star Nutrition

10. Parmesan Crusted Steak and Potato Sheet Pan Dinner| Lemons and Zest

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Image Source: Lemons and Zest

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 15 Not-so-boring, Healthy Meal Prep Recipes (Beginner Friendly!)

Your turn: What are some of your favorite sheet pan recipes?

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Until next time,

xoJ

**DISCLAIMER** Image source credit and ownership for all recipe photos used belong to the respective authors of the original linked recipe post.

DIY Citrus All Purpose Cleaner

IMG_6116Growing up, Saturday mornings were for cleaning and not much about that tradition has changed now that I’m an adult living on my own. One of my goals for 2019 was to clean up my household routine as it pertains to chemicals. For a while, I was doing so well at making my own natural cleaners, but it’s easy to get lazy and fall back into the convenience of buying commercial products that I know are full of harsh chemicals that are bad for my health. Being selective about what we clean our living spaces with is just as important as what we eat and put on our skin. This year, I’m working on getting back to that place where I was making my own cleaners, detergent, etc. and as usual, I’m taking you all along with me! Today, I am sharing a recipe for a DIY citrus all purpose, antibacterial cleaner. This cleaner is all natural, non-toxic and made with only FOUR ingredients – three of them I’ll bet you already have in your kitchen. Keep reading and join me in taking another step toward being #toxinfree all 2019!

I think it pretty much goes without saying that commercial cleaners are trash. They are chock-full of toxic chemicals that are known carcinogens, respiratory irritants, skin irritants, eye irritants and aquatic pollutants. Why these products continue to be marketed and even more so, why we (myself included) continue to buy them knowing that 1) they are harmful and 2) there are better options out there is topic of conversation for another day (if a valid answer even exists for that matter lol) BUT what we do know is that the power of the mind and consumerism are both extremely great and also lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. That being said, as we continue to get to know better, it is our duty to ourselves and to the Earth to strive to do better.

Anywho, back to the positives! This all purpose cleaner recipe is great for disinfecting places where you’d normally use bleach, but want it to be food safe¹. It is a necessary staple cleaner for any household that won’t require you to wear a mask and open the windows when you use it. This cleaner is also great for those with pets and tiny humans running around the house.

Some other benefits of the cleaner include:

  • safer alternative to bleach¹
  • biodegradable¹
  • deodorizes²
  • cuts grease²
  • cost effective
  • low waste

So, let’s get the to the recipe!

What you’ll need:

  • orange peels from ~5 oranges
  • white vinegar
  • distilled water
  • lemon and sweet orange essential oils (optional)
  • strainer
  • 2 -12oz mason jars (or any glass jar you may have)
  • 16oz amber glass spray bottle

Copy of What Youll Need

How to make it:

  1. Start by peeling your oranges and packing the peels tightly into a clean mason jarIMG_5093
  2. Once filled with orange peels, fill the mason jar with white vinegar making sure that the peels are submerged entirely
  3. Cap the jar and store in a dark, cool place (e.g. a kitchen cabinet) for up to 2 weeksIMG_5711
  4. After two weeks have passed, using a metal strainer, pour the citrus/vinegar mixture into a second, clean mason jar
  5. Compost or discard the orange peels
  6. Transfer citrus vinegar mixture to a clean 16oz amber glass spray bottle
  7. Dilute the citrus vinegar mixture by filling the remaining volume of the spray bottle with distilled waterIMG_5722
  8. Add 20-30 drops of lemon and sweet orange essential oilsIMG_5715
  9. Cap and gently shake the spray bottle and you’re good to go!

How to use it:

Spray desired surface until saturated. Let sit for at least 10 mins, then wipe clean with a reusable cloth. Story in a dark, cool place and shake with each use to evenly distribute contents.

Pro tips & disclaimers:

  • This cleaner is safe for most surfaces except for granite. However, it’s always best to perform a patch test in an inconspicuous area when trying a new product for the first time.
  • To avoid waste when peeling your oranges, save the fruit and enjoy it in a smoothie later 🙂 Alternatively, you can eat an orange with lunch or as a snack and just fill the jar as you eat them, which is what I did. In this case, be sure to store the jar in the fridge until you get ready to add the vinegar to prevent mold.
  • Vinegar is an amazing natural cleaning alternative, however, it does have a pretty strong smell. It doesn’t bother me personally, but it may be unpleasant/unbearable to some. Rest assured that the vinegar smell is strongly masked by the citrus infusion + the EO’s (it literally smells like sweet orange syrup – so good!) and does dissipate completely after the surface has been wiped clean and dries, leaving be. However, the vinegar undertones are still very much present at first whiff, so don’t let this scare you. If the vinegar is too strong for you, here’s what I recommend:
    • Add more essential oils
    • Dilute the mixture (but keep this in mind as it pertains to the cleaning properties)
    • After cleaning, rinse the surface with warm water
  • Vinegar is NOT a registered disinfectant, meaning that is does not kill 99.9% of germs on contact¹. Vinegar alone kills about 80% of germs including common household viruses and gram-negative bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli². It, however, is not effective in killing staphylococcus¹. Scientific studies have shown that lemon and orange essential oils do, however, have antibacterial & anti-fungal properties, demonstrating a significant inhibitory effect against one or more strains of both gram-negative (e.g. E. coli) and gram-positive (e.g. staphylococcus) bacteria at varying concentrations³, which is why I chose to add them to my cleaner. Other great options for essential oils include cinnamon, clove, geranium, lime and rosemary. For more information about these findings, I have cited and linked the peer-reviewed scientific articles below.

Cleaning has always been an enjoyable outlet and somewhat therapeutic for me. Spring cleaning just gives me that extra momentum to actually declutter & DEEP clean…it’s so very satisfying lol Now I can enjoy my cleaning sessions even more knowing that I’m making more conscious choices for the environment as well as for my health. As we are  currently in the peak of spring cleaning season, I encourage you to explore the world of green cleaning in an effort to improve the quality of your living space, your health, your loved ones’ health and the environment. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! If you try out this recipe, I’d love to hear about your experience! Feel free to comment below, tag me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn) or hashtag #LeanGreenandEverythingInBetween so I can see what you all are up to!

Your turn: Have you tried any DIY cleaning recipes? Share your thoughts, tips & tricks below!

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Until next time,

xoJ

Here are some related blog posts that you might enjoy:

References:

  1. Dimungo, L. 2013. Disinfectants: A guide to killing germs the right way. Mother Nature Network. Web.
  2. David Suzuki Foundation. 2019. Does vinegar kill germs? Web.
  3. Prabuseenivasan, S., Jayakumar, M., and Ignacimuthu, S. 2006. In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 6:39, doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-39
  4. Pattnaik, S., Subramanyam V.R., and Kole, C. 1996. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. Microbios. 86:349.

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15 Not-so-boring, Healthy Meal Prep Recipes (Beginner Friendly!)

We are nearing the end of month 3 of 2019…how are y’alls new years resolutions coming along? *insert eye emoji* Clean eating/meal prepping on a consistent basis is one of the first things that a lot of people, myself included, tend to lose sight of throughout the year. Falling off track with your healthy eating habits can happen as a result of many things such as getting burnt out on cooking, having one ‘binge weekend’ or meal that just kind of never stopped, needing new ideas or just simply being bored of eating the staple baked chicken, rice and steamed veggies (no shade). None of us are perfect and the best part about a lifestyle change is the fact that every day is a new chance to bounce back and start again! Whether you’re looking into starting meal prep for the first time or you’re a veteran who just needs some new ideas to help recommit yourself back to the routine – fear not, I’ve got you covered!

Today, I am sharing FIFTEEN (not-so-boring) beginner friendly, healthy meal prep recipes!

So, why meal prep??

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I was 100% anti-meal prep when the whole fad began to gain popularity mainly because I couldn’t fathom the idea of eating the exact same thing 5 days in a row. Soon after, I realized that I was basically already doing that, just without each portion perfectly organized into containers. Now that I have been doing it for the better part of the last four years, I honestly cannot imagine my weekday schedule without it. Some of the main benefits of meal prepping are that it is convenient, cost effective and also helpful with portion control when you have healthy meals at your fingertips. As a busy graduate student with long days, one of the best parts about meal prepping is knowing that 1) I only have to cook once a week and; 2) After one day of prepping (usually Saturday or Sunday), for the rest of the week all I have to do is grab and go for lunch and come home and reheat for dinner. It’s that simple! Knowing this alone takes so much stress off of my already stressful load of weekly responsibilities. Another benefit of meal prepping, and just cooking in general, is that it makes it a lot easier to resist the temptation of eating out, when you can honestly be more excited about what you’ve cooked at home which is a win win for your waistline AND your wallet.

Every once in a while, I find myself becoming bored of meal prepping and when I’m bored, that’s when I’m most likely to mess up. While it’s okay to take breaks and indulge, it’s equally as important to get right back on track because real results come with consistency. I encourage you to switch it up in order to keep yourself motivated and excited about your healthy food choices! I hope this post shows all of the beginners that there’s sooo much more to the world of meal prepping than baked chicken, brown rice and broccoli. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this meal and I find that it is a popular, beginner friendly go-to that I even re-visit myself when I’m in the mood for it. However, rest assure that it is not your only option. I have compiled a list of 15 healthy meal prep recipes consisting of chicken, turkey & vegan/vegetarian friendly meals – so there’s something for everyone! Each recipe is linked, so just click on the title to be redirected.

One final, yet vital, key to meal prep success is making sure that you have good quality meal prep containers – preferably ones that are plastic free (e.g. glass). I purchased these glass meal prep containers from Amazon in 2017 and after consistent daily use, they’re still going strong! I recommend glass over plastic because they are more durable, have a longer life and thus are better for the environment. Unlike plastic, glass containers also do not contain harmful chemicals that may leach into your food when heating and they do not stain from colored sauces, dips, etc.

tupperware

Hopefully the ideas in this post will give you the jumpstart that you’ve been needing or wanting to spice things up in the kitchen! Enjoy!


CHICKEN RECIPES

1. Chicken and Hummus Plate | Project Meal Plan

Save your coins by just saying “no” to the overpriced Starbucks bistro box and try making your own instead. This deliciously portable lunch is only 357 calories per serving and packs a whopping 32g of protein!

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Image Source: Project Meal Plan

2. Buffalo Chicken Ranch Meal Prep | 40 Aprons

A great lunch option that is Whole 30, paleo and keto friendly! Only 287 calories per serving!

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Image Source: 40 Aprons

3. Italian Chicken Meal Prep Bowls | Eazy Peazy Mealz

This entire recipe comes together on a single sheet pan, making for a lunch/dinner that’s low in mess, but high in flavor!

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Image Source: Eazy Peazy Meals

4. Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Lo Mein Bowls | Life Made Sweeter

Skip the drive thru and opt for a healthier version of this take-out favorite.

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Image Source: Life Made Sweeter

5. Jerk Chicken Meal Prep Bowls | Food Lovin’ Family

Sweet, spicy and just all around delicious! Make a week’s worth of this meal in only 30 minutes!

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Image Source: Food Lovin’ Family


TURKEY RECIPES

6. Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs | Eat Yourself Skinny

The sweet and spicy flavors of the honey and Sriracha give a really nice twist to traditional meatballs. If you are a Sriracha fan, this is definitely a must try…only 295 calories and 26.9g of protein per five meatballs.

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Image Source: Eat Yourself Skinny

7. 30 Minute Thai Basil Turkey | Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

This flavorful, dairy free dish is packed with veggies and is also Whole 30 and paleo friendly.

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Image Source: Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

8. Turkey Taco Bowls w/ Cauliflower Rice | Kirbie Cravings

Taco Tuesday, meal prep style!

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Image Source: Kirbie Cravings

9. Dirty Rice w/ Ground Turkey | My Body My Kitchen

A healthy spin on a classic creole dish. Enjoy this gluten-free dish on its own or accompanied by your favorite veggies.

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Image Source: My Body My Kitchen

10. Turkey Meatloaf and Veggies | My Body My Kitchen

Meatloaf tends to get a bad rep, but I beg to differ. The combination of BBQ sauce and fresh thyme makes this recipe a tad different, and better in my opinion, than your traditional meatloaf. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!

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Image Source: My Body My Kitchen


VEGAN & VEGETARIAN RECIPES

11. Sweet Potato Fajitas Meal Prep | The Fit Kitchen

Sweet potatoes are extremely versatile and one of my favorite subs for meat in Mexican dishes, especially tacos. This recipe is must try for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!

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Image Source: The Fit Kitchen

12. Cold Sesame Noodle Meal Prep Bowls | Sweet Peas and Saffron

If you’re looking for a quick, grab-n-go, no heat lunch then this one’s for you! No microwave required (but you will need a spiralizer).

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Image Source: Sweet Peas and Saffron

13. Vegan Butternut Squash Casserole | Meal Prep on Fleek

Who doesn’t love a good casserole? This dish combines the delicious Mexican flavors of black beans, salsa, jalapeños and cilantro into a hearty meal made in only 20 minutes!

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Image Source: Meal Prep on Fleek

14. Roasted Broccoli Chickpea Quinoa Bowls | Always Nourished

Never underestimate the power of a good superfood bowl recipe! If you are a fan of Buddha bowls, I highly recommend that you try this.

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Image Source: Always Nourished

15. Meal Prep Veggie Stir Fry | Wholefully

A vegetarian friendly rendition of a classic dish. Stir fry is an easy meal to make meatless with minimal effort. Customize it to your liking and enjoy all week long!

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Image Source: Wholefully

Your turn: What are some of your go-to meal prep recipes?

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Until next time,

xoJ

**DISCLAIMER** Image source credit and ownership for all recipe photos used belong to the respective authors of the original linked recipe post.

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DIY Antibacterial Yoga Mat Cleaner

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Hey everybody! Welcome back to my blog! In this post, I will be sharing with you a recipe and how-to guide for an all natural, DIY yoga mat cleaner. This cleaner has minimal ingredients, is gentle and best of all, NON TOXIC. Let’s get started!

About 3 Christmases ago, I was gifted two beautiful, good quality yoga mats that I have used regularly over the years. However, when it comes to cleaning my mats…that’s not so regular (don’t judge). Yoga mats and workout mats can be some of the worst culprits in terms of harboring bacteria and other icky things, especially those in public spaces that are open to communal use. Lucky for me, I rarely ever use my yoga mats outside of my home, however, I definitely haven’t been the sole user and even still, my own sweat and bacteria buildup is problematic. Needless to say, it’s time for a change. This spray smells fresh, is inexpensive, effective and is yet another way to make the products in your home eco-friendly & GREEN. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • witch hazel
  • distilled water
  • 20-30 drops of essential oils
  • spray bottle (glass preferred; but plastic is all I had on hand at the time)

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Here’s how to make it:

  • Combine 1 part witch hazel with 3 parts distilled water into your spray bottle
  • Add essential oils of choice. I recommend using peppermint, lavender & tea tree essential oils because not only do they smell great, but they also have natural antimicrobial properties. Otherwise, use whatever suits your best!
  • Cap bottle and gently shake to combine

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Here’s how to use it:

  1. Shake bottle before each use
  2. Spray generously on yoga mat and wipe with a clean cloth
  3. Let the mat dry completely
  4. Flip the mat over to the other side and repeat 🙂
  5. Store in a cool, dark place between uses

It is ideal to clean your mat after each use, especially if it is traveling with you to public places. I also recommend making your spray in a small travel size bottle, that way you can use it at home and also easily throw it in your gym bag to use on communal mats you may come in contact with as well. It’s that simple! 🙂 Now you can continue on your fitness journey with a germ-free, fresh smelling yoga mat!

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media platforms.

Namaste,

xoJ

 

 

 

New Year, Intentional Me — 2019 Goals

HAPPY NEW YEAR to my Lean, Green Gang and welcome back to my blog! We’re eleven days into 2019 already .. that’s crazy! I hope you all have found some type of rest, relaxation and return to routine after enjoying the holidays. Now, it’s back to the grind…

Growing up, New Year’s has always been a time of reflection and celebration for my family. We attended what we call “Watch Night Service” at church every NYE, brought in the New Year together at our long-time family friend’s party (the turn up was real even as a kid at their parties lol) and then we’d go to my grandma’s on New Years Day to celebrate my mom’s birthday – yup, she’s a New Year’s baby! That was basically our ritual every year. Of course, as I got older, got friends and had driving privileges, my plans tended to deviate more, but regardless of whether I went out and partied with friends or went out of town, my NYE/day always included some component of family and to this day, it still does. One thing we were never really big on, though, were New Year’s resolutions. We were more so reflective and after looking back on the current year, we were taught to be thankful to God for showing us favor, bringing us through this year and allowing us to see another – all of which I show gratitude for daily. I don’t really remember my parents being big on resolutions, even the cliche ones like weight loss and other major lifestyle changes. It just seemed like post-celebration, the new year was just another day with not many intended or noticeable changes. Now, of course, I was younger and it’s very much possible that my parents had their own personal goals or resolutions that they didn’t share with us as kids, which makes sense because 1 – we’re kids 2 – it’s none of our business and 3 – it wouldn’t mean much to us anyway. My point is that New Year’s resolutions, vision boards, etc. were just not a thing we did as a family.

It wasn’t until my college/adult years that I discovered – and loved – the idea of vision boards and new year’s resolutions. I have always been a goal-setter, sometimes to a fault, but it’s just who I am. I am also always looking for ways to be better and do better so the whole concept of a new year, new start, clean slate, etc. just spoke to me. So, like everyone else, I would always make a list of resolutions, be really serious about them and then by about March I’d either have failed miserably or just have totally forgotten about them. Consistency has always been and still is my biggest obstacle when it comes to making a lifestyle change. I’m learning to continue to be conscious of this but also not to beat myself up about it because, after all, we’re all a work in progress.

For 2019, my new year’s resolution plan was pretty much the same as always UNTIL I ran across this post on my Instagram explore page. It really resonated with me as these are all areas of my life that I am constantly working on improving & also want to focus more and spend more time on rebuilding in 2019. Seeing these words altogether in a list form like this inspired me to use this list as categories & write my 2019 goals under each of the eight categories with the ultimate mission to be improving my overall quality of life & relationships.

The post stated, “The QUALITY of your life is directly related to the quality of your”:

  1. Thoughts
  2. Words
  3. Food
  4. Sleep
  5. Fitness
  6. Purpose
  7. Environment
  8. Relationships

For me, having specific, realistic goals pertaining to an area of improvement & being able to see the connection on a piece of paper with my own eyes makes me feel 1 – like I am manifesting change & 2 – that I am being more intentional with my goal-setting, and thus am more likely to accomplish them & sustain this mindset throughout this year and those to come. It provides me with a more organized framework from a holistic point of view going into the new year to make sure that I am actually working towards improving each category as a opposed to a giant list of goals with no sense of direction, which often makes me feel overwhelmed. In other words, it’s makes my goals feel more approachable & less daunting. That’s just how my brain works.

I want to be intentional with these goals and just more intentional with my time in general, because 1 – that is the only way to truly manifest and sustain change and 2 – I’ve seen in my own life and in others’ time and time again what happens when time is frivolously wasted and then you’re looking back wondering how/why it seems that everybody else except you got ahead. No longer will that be me. Faith without work is dead. If I want God to do his part, I must also do mine. I prayed for clarity & guidance as began to write my goals on paper & claimed them already done. As I wrote, I went through each category & asked myself “How can i improve my thoughts in 2019? my words? my food?” – so on & so forth – and then wrote my goals for each category based on my answers. My word for 2019 is INTENTION.

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2019:

THOUGHTS

  • Engage in more positive self-talk
    • Find healthier ways to communicate with myself and quiet the negative self-talk in times of self-doubt, disappointment, and uncertainty
  • Start meeting with a therapist
  • Remove all sources of negativity that encourages comparison and negative self-talk
    • Distance myself from those ‘friendships’ whose foundation is built upon gossip
    • Unfollow any IG account that I suck my teeth at (some of the best advice I have ever received – – sounds crazy, but it seriously works!)
    • Curate my IG feed to a be a source of positivity and a mentally healthy place to be
  • Find healthy ways to combat overthinking
  • Educate myself more about anxiety, the different types as it relates to me, and ways to control it

WORDS

  • Take time to think before I speak (it’s okay to pause)
  • Less screen time, more read time – stimulate my mind and strengthen my vocabulary
    • Read TWO scientific articles per week
    • Read ONE book for pleasure per month
      • Make a reading list (already done for Jan-April)
      • Read 1 hour before bed on weeknights (wind down/no screen time)
  • Start journaling (again)
    • Start small by writing down 3 things I’m grateful for everyday
    • If I feel inclined to write more, just let it flow
  • SPEAK THINGS INTO EXISTENCE! Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
    • Establish and recite morning and night affirmations daily

FOOD

  • Take better control of my cravings –> SUGAR (practice self-control, not deprivation)
  • Adopt an intermittent fasting lifestyle
    • GOAL: eating window 10AM-6PM
  • Take steps toward transitioning to a more holistic/plant-based routine
    • Phase out processed foods, meat and dairy (with time, consume sparingly)
    • Detox every 3 months
    • GOAL: 80% vegetarian
    • Be more consistent with my 80/20 rule –> Eat clean M-F, then treat (NOT binge) on the weekends
    • Experiment more with healthy/plant-based alternatives (I’ve found that most are surprisingly good)
      • Ex: nice cream, bio coffee, etc.
  • Be more consistent with taking my supplements

SLEEP

  • Go to bed early, wake up early (I am a night owl by nature, but it’s just not conducive to the normal work world and as a result my mood, health and overall well-being tends to suffer long-term. So until I can find a balance, I must face the facts and try to conform to a ‘normal’ sleep schedule…ugh)
    • GOAL: bedtime = 11PM, wakeup = 7AM (9AM on weekends)
  • Utilize downtime and app limits on my phone
  • Establish an intentional AM and PM routine that makes me excited to get up & get going
  • Diffuse sleep inducing essential oils blends
  • Start using my alarm clock so that I can turn off my phone at night so as to not be tempted
  • Set the sleep timer on my TV

FITNESS

  • Stop starting over. For every ‘before’ photo, I have like no ‘afters’. Honestly, my before photos are becoming a sequence of before and afters to show negative progress to the point where my very first ‘before’ is lowkey now my goal lol #WhatIsLife
  • GOAL: workout 6 days/week (I’ve done it before, for like 3 months straight, so I know I can do it again)
    • M/W/F – lift
    • T/R – active rest
    • SAT – yoga
    • SUN – rest
  • Incorporate more outdoor workouts. I do live in TX after all.
  • Enroll in a membership at yoga studio

PURPOSE

  • Pray more specific prayers for discernment and direction as it relates to my purpose and mission
  • Pour into my blog
    • Pre-plan content to improve consistency
    • Claim and start utilizing my Facebook page
    • Trademark my name and logo
    • Reach 5,000 followers on IG
    • Obtain 2 paid sponsorships with brands that I actually believe in
    • Buy a personalized domain name
  • Consume knowledge and make my PhD a priority, but DONT let it consume me
    • Network/be more social (get outside of my comfort zone)
      • Attend and least two grad student social events per semester
    • Set boundaries in the interest of my personal well-being (i.e. scheduling ‘nothing’ time, taking care of self, etc.)
    • Prioritize myself (THINK before saying yes)
    • Ask more questions
    • Make weekly goals based on a 5-year plan
      • Set realistic expectations
  • Soft launch my business (again)
    • Create and trademark a logo
    • Choose 2-3 products from my list to focus in on improving/finalizing formulas
    • Send product testers to friends/family
    • Make and sell a set number of products once a month

ENVIRONMENT

  • Incorporate more healing herbs and essential oils into my daily routine
    • Diffuse EO’s during my morning meditation
    • Educate myself more on properties of herbs, crystals, and EO’s (add relevant books to my reading list) and share knowledge with family, friends, and followers
  • Start an herb garden
  • Get more plants, especially those with healing properties, for my apartment
  • Put some time and energy into decorating/furnishing my apartment and making it feel like home
  • Make strides to going back to attaining a chemical free home
    • Clean up my beauty/skin care routine in terms of chemicals
      • GOAL: natural, organic, plant-based products
      • **Bonus: black owned, woman owned, &/or waste free
    • Get back to making my own natural, non-toxic household cleaners

RELATIONSHIPS

  • with GOD
    • Find a church home
    • Reconnect with my bible
      • Find a guided bible study online to follow weekly
    • Go to church twice a month
    • Seek God first in everything I do. Ask him to remove what/who is not for me
  • with FAMILY + FRIENDS
    • Make time to call and check on a loved one twice a month
    • Reach out to one person locally to hang with once a month
    • Host an event at my apartment this semester (i.e. craft/DIY night, girls night, etc.)
  • with SELF
    • Do better with my daily appearance. When you look better, you feel better
    • Don’t wait for a ‘special event’ to get dressed. With that mindset, most, if not all, of my cute clothes would never get worn.
    • Do something for myself to keep myself up FOR MYSELF. Ex. do my nails, buy a new lip gloss, etc.)
      • GOAL: Rebuild my self-esteem
    • Embrace (& document) every stage of my loc journey
    • PRIORITIZE MYSELF and MY ENERGY
      • Banish the idea of ‘busy’
      • Get comfortable with flexing my NO muscle (I used to be so good at it. Not sure what happened.)
    • Words to live by: If it costs my peace, it’s too expensive.
    • Take myself on a date once a month or every other month. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Heck, it doesn’t even have to involve me leaving my house.
    • Stay consistent with my self-care routine

FINANCES

  • Establish, and stick, to a budget
  • Become more conscious about WHERE my money is going and WHO it is supporting
  • Rebuild my savings
  • Find a charity that resonates with me and my passions and donate every month, or whenever I am able
  • Start my #DebtFreeJourney

If you actually took the time to read through all of this, THANK YOU. Even if you skimmed or skipped around to the categories that were of particular interest to you, I still thank you. I know this list of goals seems like a lot, but they are more so long term goals with no definitive ‘due dates’ because they are lifestyle changes that I want to work toward making and sustaining in 2019 and beyond. Just because I set out to work on it this year doesn’t necessarily mean that I expect to finish all of it this year, or even next year. I am essentially using this blog post as a way to put it all in one place, and also to serve as a reminder to myself. To some this list may seem a bit a over zealous, but to me, if your goals don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough.

It is true that you don’t need a new year for a fresh start. It is also true that if you mess up, you don’t have to wait all the way until the next year or even the next Monday to start over. Sometimes it is just nice to have that clean slate, literally and figuratively. I will move forward with these things in mind as I BOSS UP, PRIORITIZE MYSELF, INVEST IN MYSELF, REALIGN MY FOCUS and walk differently/more intentionally in 2019. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope that you leave this blog post feeling inspired or motivated in some way. If can be of any assistance with your journey, please feel free to reach out. We’re all in this together.

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverything), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Cheers,

xoJ

10 Cozy Crock Pot Recipes Perfect For Fall

Fall is officially in full swing and if you’re anything like me, this last quarter of the year is almost always the busiest and seems to go by the fastest. What’s even more unnerving is knowing that the hustle and bustle will only get worse as the holidays get closer. With busyness comes the urge to take shortcuts and incorporate time-savers into your daily routine as much as possible, food included.

When I get super busy, one of the first things to go is cooking. When I’m running 100mph, it’s so easy to just pick something up, rather than sit and plan out meals, make a grocery list, shop, then cook. Not only can buying fast food be damaging to your wallet over time, but it can also be damaging to your health as most grab n go options aren’t the most “clean”. Even if we’re in a time crunch, we should never compromise our health. For that reason, i have a solution — the crock pot. Crock pots, slow cookers whatever you like to call them, are the perfect solution to taking a shortcut in the interest of time without compromising your health. I don’t know about you, but every time I pull out my crock pot to use it, I’m reminded again and again how freakin’ amazing this thing is and always end up telling myself that I need use it more often. There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day to a house filled with the wonderful aroma of your dinner already done & ready to eat. With that being said, for my very first recipe roundup blog post, I have compiled ten cozy crockpot recipes with minimal ingredients & little prep that will warm your soul without straying too far from your goals! To access the full recipe, just click on the title & enjoy!

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7 Can Crockpot Taco Soup | Passion For Savings 

A classic dump and go crock pot meal that’s light on calories, yet heavy on flavor (and fiber too!). This dish can easily be adapted for vegetarian and vegan diets.

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Slow Cooker Lo Mein | Damn Delicious 

Ditch the takeout + all of the calories and sodium that come with it and try making this healthier version of lo mein instead. Your body, and your wallet, will thank you.

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Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies | Damn Delicious 

Slow cooked chicken and veggies in herbs come together for a flavorful, low maintenance meal — the perfect combination for a busy weeknight.

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Crockpot Butternut Squash, Chicken and Quinoa Soup | Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Just looking at this photo makes me want to curl up on a cold night with a good book in one hand and a bowl of this soup in the other lol It’s definitely a must try!

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Healthy Turkey Chili | Ambitious Kitchen

You can never go wrong with a good, healthy chili recipe. Low calorie, high protein & high fiber .. what more can one ask for?

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Skinny Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie | Skinny Mom

A healthy spin on a comfort food favorite. I can’t wait to try this one out myself!!

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Skinny Veggie Crockpot Lasagna | Pinch of Yum

This savory dish will make for an effortless Meatless Monday meal.

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Slow Cooker White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup | The Chic Site

This light, healthy soup is chock full of nutrients & is definitely a great way to squeeze in an extra serving of leafy greens!

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Crockpot Stuffed Shells with Spinach | Everyday Good Thinking 

Another easy, yet filling meatless meal that can be whipped up & ready in no time!

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Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup | Gal On A Mission 

Tomato soup with a twist! This dish is such a fun way to add some substance to traditional tomato soup that will keep you fuller for longer.

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Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverything), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Until next time,

xoJ

**DISCLAIMER** Image source credit and ownership for all recipe photos used belong to the respective authors of the original linked recipe post.

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My 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse Experience and Results

Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog! In this post, I will be sharing all of the details about my experience with JJ Smith’s 10-day Green Smoothie Cleanse, including my before and after results as well as a little bit of post-cleanse reflection. So let’s get started!

On October 1, myself and a support group of friends started a 10-day green smoothie cleanse adapted from the book 10 day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith. Now, I bet you’re wondering, well what exactly is this cleanse and what are the benefits? I’m glad you asked. Let me give you a quick run down. Essentially, this cleanse is a 10-day detox program in which you drink green smoothies consisting of fruits and veggies three times a day with specially formulated recipes to detox your body over the course of the ten day period. The cleanse exists in two versions: full and modified.

  • With the full cleanse, you drink your green smoothie (12-16 oz) for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 64+ oz of water, a detox tea in the morning and a digestive tea at night. In addition to this, you can snack on any fruits, veggies, unsweetened PB, hard boiled eggs and raw, unsalted nuts/seeds of your choice in between meals. You avoid refined sugar, meat, milk, cheese, liquor, beer, coffee, soda, processed foods, fried foods, etc.
  • With the modified cleanse, you drink two green smoothies each day for breakfast and lunch and then have a healthy meal for dinner. The same snack, water, tea and foods to avoid regimen from the full cleanse apply to the modified cleanse with the exception of meat. The rule for the modified cleanse is to avoid red meat specifically, not all meat.

That was just a very brief overview of the cleanse, just to give you an idea of what exactly I was getting myself into. More detailed info can be found in the book.

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There are several benefits to detoxing your body, both physical and mental. Here’s just a few of the main ones:

  1. weight loss (jumpstart and maintenance)
  2. increased energy
  3. aids internal organs in toxin removal, thereby giving them a rest
  4. strengthens immune system
  5. freshens breath
  6. clears skin
  7. improves focus and mental clarity
  8. healthier hair
  9. slows signs of aging

You really can’t go wrong with a detox, so long as it is done properly.

Now that you know a little bit more about the cleanse itself, I’m going to tell you why I even decided to do it in the first place.

I purchased this book back in 2016 as a suggestion from my mom over Thanksgiving break. Long story short, my mom, sister and I had decided together that would start the cleanse the Monday after Thanksgiving as it was the holidays, everybody was eating good (probably too good), so it seemed like the perfect time to detox and reset. So I bought my copy of the book, went grocery shopping, I was down for the cause! Fast forward…by day 3, I was out of the game. I just couldn’t deal with the hunger and ended up giving into my cravings. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready mentally for a challenge such as this and I also wasn’t taking it seriously. I didn’t want it bad enough. Fast forward to about a year later, I attempted the cleanse again, kind of a switching between full and modified, and I made it to day 6 before quitting. So I made a little bit farther. I was able to make it over the halfway hump, but still didn’t finish…

…which brings me to the present.

This time around, I decided to attempt the cleanse for two main reasons: 1) I needed a break from food and 2) I needed a reset. I had been experiencing several signs of needing to detox over the past couple of months (see image below) such as fatigue, poor sleeping habits, brain fog/trouble focusing and really just feeling BLAH overall. I knew this cleanse was exactly what my body needed. I felt that this time around was going to be different because not only was I in a different mindset, but I had also solicited a support group to join me on this journey to help keep me accountable. I had set a personal goal to go AT LEAST the first five days on the full cleanse and then switch to the modified cleanse for the last five days. Regardless, I wanted to go ten days.

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Source: Pinterest

I’m going to quickly recap and highlight some events throughout my journey and then get to the part that I’m sure you’re all waiting for, my results! Keep reading, it’s coming, I promise : )

Let’s start with day 1. I was just about as eager as anyone starting something new lol I had gotten my groceries, prepped everything and was feeling good about my first day of smoothies. Then day 2 came, and I had a legit breakdown. Yes, day 2 and I was already ready to be done. My bf talked some sense into my crybaby a** and I got myself together. What kept me going was that I REFUSED to let this time be like the other times. I was on a mission. Around day 4, I was really struggling with hunger. I wasn’t even necessarily craving bad foods, I just longed for a feeling of satisfaction after a meal. I just wanted something hot and solid to be completely honest. But still, I pressed on.

Day 5 is when things took a turn for the worst. Every Friday, we have departmental TA meetings and our TA coordinator brings lunch. Now, up until now I hadn’t really been tempted (at least not by things I wanted) because I was keeping to myself, drinking my smoothies, and minding my own business but I KNEW Friday, the halfway point, in addition to TA meeting was going to be a struggle (on top of the fact that our coordinator be throwin’ down in the kitchen). I was crossing my fingers that he’d bring something I didn’t like that way it’d be easier for me to refuse, but of course, that was not the case. Long story short, I stayed true to the cleanse and sipped on my smoothie during the lunch meeting BUT I did end up taking a plate to go and inhaled, I mean IN-HALED, that food and didn’t even feel guilty about it. My justification was, “well I said I was switching to the modified version after Day 5”, but I will just say that the meal was far from clean and also included a piece of red velvet cake *don’t judge*. Anyway, rather than letting that be the end, I owned up to my mistake, accepted it and moved forward by getting right back on my smoothies.

For the reminder of the cleanse, I did well. I ate hard boiled eggs and incorporated those into canned chicken in water mixed with mustard and some vegan mayo to make ‘chicken salad’. When I tell y’all that chicken salad tasted like heaven, whew! lol It was definitely a lifesaver. Toward the end of the cleanse, I started to get more lax because I was so close to finishing and also because I think I was just over it mentally. I still did my smoothies and tea routine, but I slipped one BBQ pringle and ate some ginger snap cookies around day 9. It could have definitely been worse and I was proud of myself for not going totally off the deep end, but nonetheless it was still cheating. The closer it got to the end, the more I was realizing that cutting these things out of my diet cold turkey (while that is the entire point of a detox) just wasn’t working for me at the time. Or maybe it was that I didn’t have enough will power to MAKE it work for me. I tend to have a hard time depriving myself of things with no real reason, if that makes sense. Although the cleanse says I’m not supposed to have cookies, the cleanse itself is optional and I’m the only one making myself adhere to said rules so I technically can have the cookie simply by just letting myself eat it. But then I’d have to live with that decision on my conscience. Do you follow me and my crazy logic? lol

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…RESULTS!

Below are before (top) and after (bottom) images of my weight as well as before (left) and after (right) of my measurements. *DISCLAIMER*: I decided to take my weight on day 8 because my cycle was starting soon and I didn’t want my insane period bloat to skew the results lol In total, I lost 3.5 lbs over the course of 8 days and saw slight changes in my calves, waist and bust. I have never been a super scale obsessed person. I mean, I had to go out and buy a battery specifically for this cleanse because it had been sitting for that long. I definitely am more of a believer in non-scale victories and health over weight, but I will say that I am happy that I decided to weigh myself just as a way to track progress for formality’s sake. It did make me happy to see the number on the scale go down, but even before stepping on that scale on day 8, I was already starting to FEEL the results, which to me was even more satisfying. I felt lighter, had more energy and was noticing that I was starting to look slimmer. My results were not drastic and I didn’t expect them to be. I wasn’t in this for a quick fix massive weight loss in 10 days because that’s just not healthy nor is it sustainable. My results, however, were realistic, natural and felt/seen from both outside AND inside, which is exactly what I had hoped for. That being said, although my ten days were less than perfect, I am still very satisfied with my outcome.

Now that it’s over, what did you learn?

Another great question : ) Here are my main takeaways from this experience:

  • I learned that I need to work on will power and perseverance. I need to stop being so quick to give up when the task at hand isn’t something I have to do. It’s such a terrible mindset to have. I need to keep the bigger picture in mind when I am being challenged to keep me motivated and to not allow myself to get tripped up over the small things. In this case, my overall health and the purpose of this cleanse is more important than giving into temporary cravings. This realization applies to more aspects of my life than just this cleanse.
  • I learned that I am my worst enemy when it comes to self-control. If there’s no real reason for me not to have something, chances are I’m gonna let myself have it. But I shouldn’t wait for a reason to motivated to make a change, that’s how things get ignored and end up out of hand in the first place. It shouldn’t take for the doctor to tell me to lose weight or that I have diabetes to have a reason to stick to a 10-day detox (I know that’s an extreme example and it’s easier said than done, but I hope you get where I’m coming from).
  • I learned that I can’t expect perfection all the time. What’s most important is that I keep going. If I quit something every time it wasn’t perfect, I would never finish a lot of things.

Last question, would you ever do it again?

To be 100% honest, I don’t know that I will ever do the full cleanse again, at least not any time soon. It got too hard not eating after a while and crunching on celery and apples just was not cutting it. It was getting to the point where I just wanted a whiff of my bf’s food when he would eat around me. You’d think that smelling it would just be torturing myself, but it was honestly satisfying and I was proud of myself for smelling it but still not allowing myself to have any. It’s strange, I know lol. Completely depriving myself is what drove me to binge, which thankfully only really happened once on day 5. I never fully acted on my urges otherwise. A lot of the time, I wasn’t even physically hungry. I only wanted food simply because I knew I couldn’t have it, which made me sort of start to obsess over it and that was just a bit much for me. I truly believe that it’s all in the mind, but until I can learn to better control that, I think the modified version of the cleanse suits me best. Maybe I can grow to a point where I will be able to undertake the full cleanse but as of now, I think the modified version will be more manageable and sustainable and ultimately, I am still very much satisfied with the results of the 10-day Green Smoothie Cleanse experience and proud myself for completing the 10 days. I feel great and am even back working out on a more consistent basis!

Welp, that’s all folks! Thank you so much for reading this post and supporting my blog. I hope that sharing my thoughts, strengths, downfalls and outcomes from this experience was helpful and inspiring in some way and I encourage you to try a cleanse or detox, especially if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the graphic above. The benefits are endless. Give it your best shot and know that if you mess up, you can still keep going. What works for me may not work for you, or it might work even better! My mom completed the full cleanse about a month ago and lost 12 POUNDS! So that just goes to show you how different our bodies are and how much results can vary. Always remember that health and fitness journeys are a lifestyle change, which means it doesn’t happen overnight. If you are interested in JJ Smith’s book, it is available for purchase on Amazon, just click here.

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverything), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets. If you have ever done a cleanse or detox, whether JJ Smith’s or any others, I’d love to hear about your experience so feel free to comment below!

Until next time,

Peace, xoJ

Dollar Store Decor DIY Fall Wreath Tutorial

 

HAPPY FALL Y’ALL! It is officially my favorite time of year. All things wonderful come from fall: the weather, crisp air, apple cider, pumpkin spice, pumpkin patches, the beginning of the holiday season, bonfires, hoodies, scarves, layers, booties (ugh, I love me some booties)…I could go on and on. The point is, fall is upon us and I welcome it with open arms!

With the holiday season comes holiday decor and I am definitely one of those types of people who likes to decorate their house for every holiday. I’ve been this way since I was young and I am definitely going to be one of those moms/grandmas that changes out the place mats and centerpieces in my home for every season and holiday lol Is it sad that I look forward to that? *shrugs*

I have finally settled into an apartment that I enjoy and am comfortable in and even though it’s just me, it’s still fun to decorate my place! I most certainly aspire to decorate my apartment for the upcoming holidays. However, as a broke grad student, the way my budget is set up, there isn’t always a lot of leftover funds to splurge on expensive decor. So I figured, if I can’t buy it, I’ll make it…and that’s where my craftiness comes in : )

I decided to make a trip to one of my favorite stores in the whole wide world, Dollar Tree, to see what type of fall decor they had. The Dollar Tree is good for many things, but one of my favorite things about Dollar Tree is their inexpensive seasonal decor. As usual, I cashed out (32 WHOLE dollars lol) on both fall and Halloween decor and part of the materials that I purchased were supplies to make a fall wreath for my front door. I perused Pinterest a couple of weeks prior looking at some fall wreaths for inspiration and finally I decided that I wanted to try my hand at making one. So I just kind of grabbed some items that I thought were cute and other crafting basics and went off the top of my head from there based on Pinterest inspo as well as the instructional insert on one of the items that I bought. I must say that I am very pleased with the outcome, so of course I had to share with you all!

This wreath in total took me a little over two hours to construct and cost only $16 .. yes, SIXTEEN DOLLARS to make! That’s it.

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$16 total for all of the supplies, excluding the hot glue gun and scissors (which I already had). This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I was super excited to experiment with this craft and figured if it didn’t turn out then I wasn’t losing much money and I’d still enjoy the process regardless. That was another reason why I chose to go with Dollar Tree materials because I didn’t want to go out and spend a bunch of money on expensive materials for something that I was trying out for the first time. Luckily, it paid off. Okay, enough back story. Let’s get to the tutorial. Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • Wire wreath form
  • 1 bag of faux maple leaves
  • 2 packages of decorative mesh tube, 1 orange and 1 brown
  • 1 roll (3 yd.) of red glitter tulle
  • 1 roll (5 yd.) of orange/gold decorative mesh
  • 2 small plastic decorative pumpkins
  • 1 roll of burlap decorative ribbon
  • 2 rolls of thin ribbon, fall colors (your choice)
  • 6 bouquets of faux fall flowers (your choice), about 4-5 flowers per bouquet
    • For this wreath I chose mums, coneflowers, sunflowers, daisies and berries

Now for the process:

1. Wrap burlap ribbon around wreath form to cover wire and secure with hot glue.

The burlap ribbon will be too short and leave some of the wire exposed, but don’t worry, we’ll fill it in later.

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2. Cut mesh tube into forty 8-inch pieces (20 brown and 20 orange)

3. Cut red glitter tulle and orange mesh into five 8-10 inch strips each.

Tip: This part doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as they’re long enough to tie in a knot. The longer your strips, the more volume your wreath will have.

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4. Assemble tulle bouquets using mesh tube, tulle and mesh.

Gather 4 orange mesh tube strips and 4 brown mesh tube strips that you cut in step 2. Using one red glitter tulle strip from step 3, tie the tubes together in their center using a single knot. Then tie one orange glitter strip around the tubes in the opposite direction of the red tulle strip. Cut and tie a strip of the thin decorative ribbon around the tubes, then fluff to form a bouquet. Repeat this process to make 5 bouquets in total. Feel free to add more strips to make your bouquets more full, if desired.

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5. Arrange bouquets evenly around the burlap wrapped section of the wreath form and secure each bouquet with hot glue.

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6. Glue on plastic pumpkins.

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7. Remove faux flowers from the stem and hot glue to the wreath, filling in the gaps between the tulle bouquets.

8. Arrange and glue faux flowers to fill in the part of the wreath form with exposed wire. This will be the bottom of the wreath.

It would also be cute to wrap the bottom ‘exposed’ portion in a different colored ribbon and glue white letters that say “Welcome” or “Happy Fall”.

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9. Glue on the faux leaves as a finishing touch, to fill in gaps and make the wreath look even in fullness.

10. Allow everything time to dry, attach a hook, hang in your desired area and enjoy!

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That’s it. 10 simple steps, 2 hours, 16 dollars. Who says you can’t make homemade decor look just as good, if not better, than the store bought stuff?

Whether bought, or handmade I’m all about getting home decor for the low. I hope you all enjoy this tutorial and have as much fun making your wreath as I did mine. Honestly, this craft project could not have come at a better time. I find crafting to be a stress relieving outlet, or a form of self-care, so successfully completing this project served multiple purposes and I couldn’t be more excited about it! I was in the zone to say the least haha

Well, that’s it for this post! Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverything), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to Pinterest and all social media outlets. If you make a wreath, I’d love to see your creative spin on it so be sure to tag me on IG or hashtag #LeanGreenAndEverythingCrafts and leave a comment sharing your experience. If you like these DIY tutorials, be sure to stay tuned because as the holiday and gift season approaches I can assure you that this is just the first of many! 🙂

Peace. xoJ

 

i gotta box, gotta box full of sunshine! (DIY Gift Box Tutorial)

Hey there, and welcome to my very first DIY tutorial! I’m very excited to share this simple, cute and cost effective gift box with you all.

So here’s a little background to this project: It’s no secret that being away from those you care about can be a struggle. Not being physically present with your loved ones, family and friends is most definitely not preferred, but I find that the silver lining is that I just have to find more creative ways to show the same gestures that would otherwise be super simple to show in person. That’s where the BOX OF SUNSHINE comes into play.

There was a period of time where someone very close to me was down, stressed and just kind of in a rut. With me being 12 hours away, I couldn’t just do the normal things to cheer them up like I would normally be able to do in person, which left me feeling kind of helpless. When you’re down and out, a text message or phone call can only do so much. That’s when I decided that I needed to find something creative to surprise them with and cheer them up in the best way I know how, without me being physically present. Like every other DIY project, I started with a Pinterest search and after hours of scrolling, I found the perfect pick-me-up gift: A BOX OF SUNSHINE!

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What better way to brighten someone’s day than to literally brighten it?? lol This cute little care package is totally creative and was an unexpected surprise, because who doesn’t love getting surprise mail, packages at that?! I love this idea because it is all purpose, can be given to anyone who needs a pick-me-up, be it a bf, gf, sister, cousin, loved one away at college, a friend in mourning, mom or co-worker and best of all each box can be uniquely tailored to every personality type.

Assembling the box is very simple.

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Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 6.54.56 PMYou will need:

  • A shipping box (if you’re sending via mail) or a cute basket (for hand delivering)
  • A variety of all things YELLOW; your basket can be themed or random.  I tried to pick out fun things that they could use to relieve stress.  Make your box as big or small as you like! Shipping costs, so I tried to be reasonable (#TeamBallinOnABudget)
  • A handwritten note
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Yellow craft paper, tissue paper, and any other yellow decorations to pretty up your box/basket

The process:

  1. Assemble shipping box:  Use yellow craft paper and school glue to line the inside of the box (The goal is to make the package as sunny as possible.)
  2. Neatly place all of the contents in the box
  3. Use yellow tissue paper to fill in gaps and cover the contents
  4. Add additional decorations (ex. wrapping in yellow tulle or cellophane paper if using a basket)
  5. Seal your box, address, and ship! It’s that easy!

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As you can see, the possibilities of design with this box is very open-ended. My idea is just one of many. So make it your own! The box will look completely different for each person you gift it to and that’s the best part about it! But one thing is guaranteed, they will love it! They were extremely surprised and full of gratitude. It warmed my heart knowing that one of my little cheesy, quick and relatively inexpensive Pinterest projects effected them the way that it did. It’s the little things. So next time someone in your life is feeling down, for any reason, grab a box and all things yellow and deliver a little sunshine on their cloudy day.

 

If you’ve made a box of sunshine before, comment below letting me know how you assembled yours and the reaction of the person who received it. If you’re a first-timer, please share your experience as well! Also, try out variations of this box with other colors such as a PURPLE BOX OF POWER filled with notes of encouragement, self-help books, goal setting materials, etc. Get creative with it!

Completing this project basically just opened up the floodgates of Pinterest care package ideas for me, and I am now OBSESSED. So be on the look out for more DIY care package tutorials. Until then, have a SUNNY day! 🙂

Peace,

xoJ