Cupcakes and Sunshine

Thursday, March 2, 2017

acai what ya did there: DIY smoothie bowls!

It's Thursday! Which means one more day until the weekend!!

...and I couldn't be more excited. This has felt like the longest week! And I can't really tell you why. But I can tell you that I've been making lots of smoothie bowls lately. And I've started going back to the real gym (aka not doing five-minute youtube workouts from home. which are short and sweet, but if you have a gym pass you should use it! oops!) And walking at the lake lots. So things have been pretty healthy over here!

I purchased a new food processor a couple of weeks ago because I used my last one so much that it burned out on me. oops! Since the new purchase, I've been making all the smoothie bowls. All day, every day! Crossing my fingers this food processor lasts longer than the other one though.

But with smoothie bowls like these, a long-lasting blender is wishful thinking!

The best part of smoothie bowls is that they are SO easy. And packed with vitamins and nutrients and protein and healthy fats and there really isn't a more colorful way to start...

...or end your day!

If you were to head to a juice shop or a place that makes bowls, these would be around $12-$14. Which is CRAZY because you can make your own acai and smoothie bowls for days with $12-$14!!

All you need is....

1 1/2 cups of your favorite frozen fruits,

nut butter,

and lots and lots of toppings.

(& you probably also need "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars playing because it's a good smoothie-making song and his new music video is everything)

I usually like to add a protein or spinach boost (just toss in a handful) for extra nutrients and it will keep you full through lunch!

My favorite protein powder company ever sent me these fun things to try out:

and I've added these mini-drinkable packets to my smoothie bowls too!! So yum.
And Vega Protein itself is the best too.

(disclaimer: This post wasn't sponsored by Vega, I just love Vega a lot. however they did send me the drinkable packets to try!) 

These are my current favorite smoothie bowl recipes:

Acai Chocolate Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl: 
-1 Acai packet (I get these at Trader Joe's- best place to get them!) 
-1/2 frozen banana
-1/2 cup of frozen cherries
-1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I get Vega at Target)
-1/2- 3/4 cup coconut water (any juice, milk, or water would work here though!)

*Blend all the above in food processor or blender and top with banana slices, blueberries, shredded coconut, and a swirl of honey

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Bowl 
-1 cup of frozen strawberries
-1 frozen banana
-1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (extra protein! hooray!)
-1/2 cup of coconut milk or apple juice
-optional couple handful of spinach. This will make your smoothie not-so-pretty, but nothing wrong with extra greens!

*Blend all the above in food processor or blender and top with shredded coconut, sliced fruit, and granola.

Mango Coconut Smoothie Bowl
-1 cup of frozen mango chunks
-1 frozen banana
-1/2 cup of apple juice
-spoonful of Greek yogurt

*Blend all the above in food processor or blender and top with toasted coconut chips, banana, and favorite nut butter. (I used cashew butter from TJ's!)

Happy almost weekend, friends!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Things I'm Loving this Week

Things I'm Loving this Week: 

1. These Valentine recipes: (they are from a while back, but if you are looking for some fun heart-themed breakfast recipes, these are the way to go!! oldies, but goodies)

Cinnamon Chip Heart Scones:

Red Velvet Pancakes:

2. Texas. Texas weather. (75 degrees every other day is fine with me!) All things Texas! I also love how much Texas appreciates old school country music. I visited two different stores today and each were playing old school Tim McGraw and George Strait. None of that Florida Georgia Line stuff (bleh). Texas appreciates good country.

3. DayQuil and NyQuil! Growing up, I missed school Valentine's Day parties multiple times because I was always sick on that day. (that was a big, big deal to miss growing up) Well, the Valentine's Day curse hit me a week early this year. Thankful for DayQuil and NyQuil! and hot tea.

4. Sunshine! White Rock Lake is the best place to be on a sunny day, and I'm there as often as I can be probably listening to the following-

(if you are looking for the best sunshine-day playlist, this is it)
  • There She Goes: Sixpence None the Richer 
  • Send Me on My Way: Rusted Root
  • Here Comes the Sun: The Beatles 
  • This Will Be: Natalie Cole
  • You are the Best Thing: Ray LaMontagne
  • Build Me Up Buttercup: The Foundations
  • Uptown Girl: Billy Joel 
  • Listen to the Music: The Doobie Brothers
  • Walkin' on the Sun: Smash Mouth 
  • My Girl: The Temptations
  • 5 Years Time: Noah and the Whale 
  • Mr. Jones: Counting Crows
  • The Longest Time: Billy Joel 
  • Tiny Dancer: Elton John 
  • Do You Believe in Magic: The Lovin' Spoonful 
  • You Get What You Give: New Radicals 
  • Steal My Sunshine: Len
  • All I Wanna Do: Sheryl Crow
  • She's So High: Tal Bachman

5. This banana bread recipe. It's healthy, and delicious, and I've probably made it 5 times in the last month.

6. This Valentine's Day movie list- also made a long time ago, but these are some of the best movies to watch this month!

7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe- just finished! So good.

8. The weekend!! Going to soak in every single minute of it! (& listen to that above playlist on repeat)

Happy weekend, friends!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

driven and driving

I've been doing a lot of processing lately. Both inwardly and outwardly. (Thank you friends who  received the outward ramblings of the processing. Thankful for your listening ears and for joyfully processing the good and bad alongside me! Big hugs to you.) I think a lot of driving from place to place has been the birthplace of all this inward processing. Traffic used to make me so anxious, but I've realized I do my best thinking, praying, and listening when I move slowly. I've learned to be thankful for long(ish) commutes to and from work each day.

This week's commute has had me thinking about all kinds of things, but especially about some weaknesses that I once thought were strong points.

Like the fact that I used to be so stinking driven.
So driven about anything and everything.

I couldn't sleep most nights growing up because I had so many ideas and thoughts and fixes and projects. I've always been a big-time dreamer. And I used to be really great at putting action to those dreams too. In elementary school, I used to brainstorm business plans for hours. I constantly had a lemonade stand outside in the driveway, greeting cards I was creating to sell, a wedding I was planning for a make-believe friend through magazines and advertisements I found (pre-pinterest days), a club/organization I was designing to save the world- all before I could even drive.

Any challenge or goal inspired me.

I remember one year, I had a teacher who challenged us to learn all of our multiplication tables and for each set we memorized, we'd earn a topping to add to our plain vanilla ice-cream sundaes. We could come in before class to take our timed multiplication tests over a period of two months to earn each of our toppings for the grand celebration party at the end. I went home that night and memorized them all. Over and over I practiced. I earned all the stickers on my sundae chart in less than a week. My ice-cream had oreos, chocolate syrup, m&ms, caramel, hot fudge, rainbow sprinkles, and whipped cream. Achieving this challenge fueled me. Doing it in record time was the cherry on top.  

One year, I went to Best Buy and purchased Dance Dance Revolution. One of my cousins had purchased it over the summer and had mastered all the advanced levels. I danced-danced for fifteen hours the next day. Non-stop. Straight driven. Until I had mastered and memorized all the levels.

Tryouts for a sports team? SATs and ACTs? Applications for the college I had challenged myself to get into? Each mini challenges and to-do's I could check off my "I achieved that" list. Bring. it. on.

But just this past week, I was in my car. In traffic. I didn't feel rushed. I didn't feel like I had to do something or be somewhere or be something. I didn't feel like I had to achieve. The restful feeling was unusual....and I started beating myself up about it. WHY DO I NO LONGER FEEL DRIVEN? Shouldn't I feel driven? My first thought was- something is wrong with me. Why am I feeling this way? and I began questioning Jesus- What the heck is going on here? WHY AM I NOT FEELING DRIVEN?!

A few days later, I received a hurtful text message. And I felt a familiar fire return in me to just perform. and do. and to achieve. and to perfect. And my first quick impulse inclination was to go to the gym and just run and run. It wasn't a thought of "oh I have to do this to channel my energy healthily and to feel the goodness of exercising" but of "OH I have to do this to prove to myself that I am capable of doing something that makes me feel like I have worth."
I felt like that text attacked my worth.
and brought my "drive" back.

And then BOOM. It hit me.

Home was not a safe place growing up, but an unhealthy environment. Hurtful words and actions fueled my feelings of worthlessness and I felt unwanted and abandoned. I now have come to realize that my drive for perfectionism during this time (& growing up) had come from an unhealthy place of proving that I was worth something to my own self because I was not receiving or accepting truth from anywhere or anyone else.

It wasn't about all the toppings on my achievement sundae. When it came to Dance Dance Revolution, it wasn't about the competition. I didn't even tell my cousin or others that I had too mastered all the levels. It wasn't about being skinny in high school when I cut calories and lost a lot of weight when I definitely didn't need to. Or when someone told me I couldn't run a 5K, and I went home that night and ran 6.2 miles for the first time to prove it to myself I could. It wasn't about perfect 100s on papers. I didn't even tell anyone about this stuff. 

I just had to prove to my own self that I was capable. I had to prove to myself that I had worth. When I thought I was mastering my to-do lists and challenges, I was really mastering my own self-worth through control and perfectionism. This was my drive. My freshman year of college, before I came to know Jesus, I would make to-do lists each day and each week. If I didn't complete the lists, I hated who I was that day. I wasn't enough. I was not successful. And I bet the enemy really enjoyed that too, because when all this was going on, I looked like I had myself pretty put together. Making good grades and exercising and eating "healthy" and working and checking things off and covering up that everything at home was not all cupcakes and sunshine.

This past week commuting, I've realized that I have been at rest in knowing my identity is in Jesus Christ. Not in achieving my to-do list. Not my gym goals. Not in affirmation in knowing I belong. I have nothing to prove. To myself nor others. Because I'm not driven to seek that affirmation from anyone or anything else. And it has felt like freedom. Jesus died on the cross for me- and my freedom is in knowing Him!

My relationship with Jesus began in college after I was invited to a retreat and truth was spoken to me for the first time. A few months later, I was invited to live with a group of girls who continuously poured truth into me. I'll never forget leaving that house each day and someone would yell out, "Hey! DON'T FORGET YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN RUBIES!!" (Proverbs 3:15) or "You are fearfully and wonderfully made!!!"

(^^also, knowing y'all has changed me. Thanks for loving me like Jesus loves others)

A friend yesterday told me that my life looks like complete sunshine. (social media can be deceiving) And in many ways it is!! God is so good and his blessings are abundant! But life is also messy. And I am a hot mess a lot of the time. And as I dig deeper and deeper into the Word and knowing who God is, I've realized the more and more I am broken and need a Savior. I am nothing without Him.

Goals and checklists were my personal measuring sticks. I sought affirmation from these gold stars most of my life because I wasn't receiving affirmation from a healthy place and I was not following Jesus. I now know because of who I am in HIM, I have nothing to prove. I am enough because of my identity in HIM.

Control: Jesus is in control. I do not have to worry about having my needs being covered, the past, the present, or the future. Jesus has got it all covered!

Worth: Last year, I was sitting with a group of tenth grade girls on a weekend retreat and asked them to each go around the circle and say one thing they like about themselves. After a long pause and lots of awkward "I don't know's," not one single girl could do it. They could easily do it for each other. But for themselves? They couldn't see their own worth. And my heart was broken for them! Hey girlies, YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN RUBIES and are Daughters of the King. You are fearfully and wonderfully made!! In His image!

Jesus died on the cross for me (& you). God not only knows where I am, He knows who I am. He knows what I'm going through, why I'm going through it and how I feel about it. He knows me better than I know myself. He cares about me personally. My worth is not controlled by me and my drive. or me and my achievements.  or others. My worth is not dependent on others' views of me! My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven. 

Driven: My drive wasn't being fueled by the Word, but by the world. I had my definition of "driven" all mixed up. I want to direct my drive to those who are hurting and don't know Jesus. Or who need me to be the hands and feet of Jesus. With all the political changes these past few weeks, my heart hurts for my refugee friends I have been able to meet and know each day at work. These are people. People matter. God sent His son to die for people who matter. No matter where they are from or what country they are in. Lord, direct my thoughts, passions, and interests. Make me more like you each and every day!

Friday, January 20, 2017

velvet taco copycat chicken tikka masala tacos

There are two restaurants I can eat at over and over again in Dallas. First and foremost- HG Sply Co.
I think this is my very favorite place to eat... ever! I have only been a couple of times, but it's my goal to try everything on the menu. (& I can do this because the whole menu is gf!! Happy tears!!) Highly considering a second job to fund my HG and Whole Foods addiction. (half-kidding) They are both way too close and convenient for comfort. Last weekend, we brunched at HG, and I really did almost cry at the table I was so happy. If you're in Dallas, put this one on your list asap!

Velvet Taco is the second restaurant I can eat at over and over again. I do not have any good pictures to show for it because all food is gone before the thought of taking pictures of tacos even crosses my mind!

They have really great outdoor seating, it is open almost 24 hours, and their queso is a dream!! So it is a win-win-win. This past time I visited I learned that their Tikka Masala taco is one of their best-selling tacos. I ordered it... and WOW. It. was. incredible.

But I kept thinking...hmmm, I think I can make this too!?!

Tikka Masala is an Indian dish made with chicken and vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce. I got really hooked on Indian food this past summer when our Athen's Earthfare had Indian hotbar Wednesdays. We'd fill up our to-go boxes after working at the church on Wednesdays, head home to our empty house we were packing up, and watch New Girl in pajamas on the floor with our to-go boxes full of Indian food. Ha! (& then we'd follow with a Ben & Jerry's run to Target afterwards) Special days!

So today, I'm bringing you a recipe for Tikka Masala tacos- inspired by Velvet Taco- except you can make and eat them right at home! So you can watch New Girl. in your pajamas. (and if you want to reminisce on college days, then you can eat them on the floor too!)

They are so, so easy. You can make everything homemade if you'd like, but I used a Tikka Masala Simmer sauce packet (Saffron Road) from Whole Foods...

...added some chicken, made some rice, set out all the taco fixings:

and everything was ready in 20 minutes. You really need to make these!! But just because they are inspired by Velvet Taco's, this doesn't mean you should forego visiting there. You need to do that too! Because their queso is a dream!! And I have no idea how they do that.

Velvet Taco Chicken Tikka Masala Tacos

Corn Tortillas
1/2 pound chicken
Tikka Masala sauce

Taco Fixings: 
Greek yogurt
Jasmine Rice
Chick Peas

1. Cook chicken in Tikka Masala sauce and simmer while getting other ingredients together
2. Warm tortillas in garlic oil/butter
3. Assemble tacos by adding rice, chicken Tikka Masala, and chick peas. Top with yogurt and garnish with parsley.

Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wintertime Citrus Sunrise Smoothie with Truvia® Natural Sweetener

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TasteTruvia #CB #CollectiveBias And always, thank you for your support! Life wouldn't be Cupcakes and Sunshine without ya!

Wowow! Am I SO excited to be back in Texas! I've been on the road the past few weeks and it was a very fun time, but I'm looking forward to being back home, hanging with friends, starting some New Year's goals, and getting back to a schedule.

I'm also very much looking forward to getting back to eating healthy foods! With all the holiday and road travel treats (feeling quite BLEHhh), I'm pumped to get back to all the fruits and vegetables and nutritious meals. All the praise hands for this one, friends.

Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time in Florida, where a few family members grow all kinds of different oranges and grapefruit on trees in their very own backyards. In the mornings, we'd wake up and pick fruit right off the tree. (so cool, right?) So I decided to create a Wintertime Citrus Sunrise Smoothie inspired by fresh citrus and with the help of Truvia® Natural Sweetener Spoonable.

Truvia® is by far my favorite sweetener. I use it in my coffee, tea, and in my smoothies too! It is a zero-calorie, stevia-based sweetener and doesn't have that funky bitter taste. You can find it on the baking aisle (I shopped at Kroger!) near the other sweeteners, and you can even try a free sample HERE and grab a coupon HERE. As we all know, I have a major sweet tooth. But life with less sugar is just as sweet.

For this smoothie, you will need some fresh oranges, sliced bananas, a few strawberries, some Greek yogurt, a splash of cranberry juice, and a couple handfuls of crushed ice.

Place all ingredients in a blender and get ready for the very best start to your day!

Wintertime Citrus Sunrise Smoothie Recipe

2 small oranges (peeled)
1 banana
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup ice
2 tsp. Truvia® Natural Spoonable Sweetener

1. Add all ingredients above to blender, and blend 1-2 minutes until everything is smooth. Add a straw and enjoy!!

Hope your new year is off to a great start, friends!


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