Blackberry Goat Cheese Summer Salad


Going to the farmers market on Saturday mornings is one of my absolute favorite things to do. Creating new recipes with my finds is even better. This week’s market finds resulted in what I’d like to call my Blackberry Goat Cheese Summer Salad! I promise… you definitely want to give this one a try.🙂

Blackberry Goat Cheese Summer Salad

4-5 handfuls of spinach
3/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup fresh sun gold tomatoes
1 avocado cut into chunks
5-6 basil leaves
2 thyme sprigs
3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
2 jalapeños sliced (optional)


1. Place spinach in a salad bowl and cut up using kitchen shears.
2. Cut tomatoes in half, prepare avocado, chop jalapeño (if you want it to have a little heat). Add to salad.
3. Toast sliced almonds in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant. Add to salad when cooled.
4. Crumble goat cheese and tear basil leaves over salad. Pull thyme leaves from their sprigs and place in salad.
5. Top with oil and balsamic vinegar or other dressing of choice.


How To: Incorporating Greens & Veggies into Your Diet


I’ve been following a Paleo-type diet for a good number of years now and I sometimes find myself getting into a bad habit of not incorporating enough vegetables into my diet. It’s extremely easy to grill a piece of chicken or a steak and cook some potatoes for dinner and call it a day. Making sure I eat enough vegetables definitely takes some planning and prepping on my part. I recently finished a clean-eating challenge with some folks at my gym and I was once again reminded just how important it is to eat LOTS of veggies every day. Here are a few tips to help you incorporate them into your daily routine:

Make a green smoothie every morning. A few years ago a friend told me about Simple Green Smoothies. They have a lot of great recipes on their website and they also do 30 day challenges where they send you weekly smoothie plans with shopping lists (I often omit the banana from their recipes so that it isn’t so sweet). My 19 month old has been a little resistant to eating veggies recently, so this has been a good way to make sure she gets enough as well. If I’m not following a Simple Green Smoothie recipe, this is typically what I do depending on what ingredients I have on hand:

  • 1 1/2 cups liquid (coconut water, almond milk, etc.)
  • 1-2 big handfuls of greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons hemp protein
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit and 1/2 cup frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, oranges, peaches, mango, pineapple, etc.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of hemp or chia seeds

Directions: Mix liquid, greens, and protein in a high powered blender (i.e. Vitamix, Ninja) until smooth. Add in fresh and frozen fruit and blend again. Pour into a glass and stir in the hemp or chia seeds.

Eat a salad every day. I know, I know. Eating salads can get boring. I’ve started trying to incorporate unique salads into our meal rotation. Mel Joulwan of Well Fed has some great salad suggestions on her website here. Here are a few others I’ve been enjoying recently as well:

  1. Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale Salad w/ Apples & Pecans: This salad is delicious! I omit the cheese, use regular pecans (not candied), and use apple juice sweetened cranberries.
  2. Apple, Red Cabbage, and Fennel Salad: I have been LOVING adding fennel to my salads and dishes recently. This salad is a great way to change it up a little and is delicious!
  3. Fresh Brussels Sprout, Kale, & Bacon Salad: This one is definitely a go-to for me. I often make this on Sunday so that I have something to eat for lunch throughout the week. This is a great one to take to pot-lucks and gatherings as well!

Plant a garden. One of my goals this year was to plant a garden. I got it all ready and planted the seeds all the while being super skeptical as to whether anything would actually grow. Well… I’m just a few months in and my garden is overflowing with lettuce, radishes, and spring onions. With all these growing in my backyard, I have no choice but to figure out ways to incorporate them into our family meals. Don’t have time to plant a garden? Try looking into joining a local CSA (partner with a local farm and pay in advance and get a weekly box of veggies).

Try a meal subscription box. Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. I have tried a number of meal boxes and wasn’t too impressed with them and then someone told me that Green Chef offered Paleo meal subscription boxes. I gave them a try and am now a little obsessed. Green Chef incorporates LOTS of veggies into their meal plans and they are all unique and delicious! They are a little more pricey so I have my box set to ship once a month. I try to do this on weeks that I know will be busy and I will need a little extra help in the meal planning department. I keep all of the recipe cards that they send and have remade many of their dishes! If you’d like to try Green Chef, you can get your first 4 meals free if you use my link: If you try it, be sure to let me know what you think!!

I’ve also heard that Sunbasket has a Paleo version and hope to try their’s soon.

How do you make sure to include vegetables and greens into your diet?


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Michaud-The-Subversive-Brilliance-of-A-Little-Life-320This complex novel by Hanya Yanagihara begins by introducing four men who have just all graduated from New England University and are working to establish their lives in New York City. They are deeply committed to maintaining their friendships with one another despite their diverse personalities and interests. Malcom Irvine is the biracial son of an upper class New York family and is pursing architecture. Jean-Baptiste (JB) is the child of Haitian immigrants, is employed at an art magazine, and is working to establish himself as an artist. Willem Ragnarsson works as a waiter, but is hoping to be an actor one day. Jude St. Francis is a lawyer whose background his friends know little about and eventually becomes the focal point of the story.

The opening pages of the novel focus on the time directly after college and follows the men as they continue to go to parties and figure out what they want to do with their lives. As the novel progresses, Willem, JB, and Malcom take a back seat and Jude and his mysterious past becomes the main focus of the book. Within the first hundred pages (it’s a large book at around 700 pages), readers find out that Jude cuts himself and that his friends have always sort of known this about him but haven’t chosen to address it. Jude shares very little about his past and his friends are left trying to piece together the little bits that they do know. The novel continues and follows Jude closely as he and his friends age and his past is revealed through various flashbacks.

My Thoughts:

This is for sure one of the best novels I’ve read so far this year. There were moments that I laughed, moments that I cried, and moments where I had to sit the book down because some of the scenes were so horrific. Jude’s past that included years in foster care with almost consistent abuse until going to college, left me with a whole new outlook on foster care and mental illness.  Despite Jude’s difficulties, his friends choose to stick around and and be a source of strength and motivation for him to continue on. While the thickness of the book is definitely a little intimidating, it’s most definitely worth the time.

Peonies by Mary Oliver


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

How To: Detox Baths

IMG_1735How often do you take a bath? Like a fill-up-the-tub, get in, and relax type bath? Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that there are many benefits to taking baths, especially detox baths. Toxins are poisonous substances that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis from things like processed foods, pollution, cleaning products, and pesticides. These toxins have a negative affect on our health and can also make us feel pretty crummy. Detox baths are important because they help to flush out the toxins that we come in contact with daily. They are also relaxing and help to relieve stress. I try to take a detox bath at least three times a week and prefer to do it at night before bed. You may be wondering what exactly a detox bath entails, so here you go:

  1. Fill up a bath tub with hot water (this helps to sweat out toxins).
  2. Add 1/2 cup Epsom Bath Salts (recipe below).
  3. Stay in for about 40 minutes to an hour (this gives time to remove toxins and also allows your body to absorb minerals from the salts).
  4. Relax. Listen to an audiobook. Take some time for yourself.


Bath Salt Recipe

  • 2 cups epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup dried lavender buds (optional)
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together. Place in a jar for storage. When ready to take a bath, place 1/2 cup in your bath water.

Possible variations:

  • Add 10 drops Eucalyptus to help clear sinuses
  • Add 10 drops of peppermint or rosemary to help relieve sore muscles
  • Add 1/4 cup chamomile tea leaves to aide in relaxation

*Don’t feel like making bath salts for yourself? You can purchase the lavender bath salts pictured above through my Etsy shop!