Life is Hard. Eat Pudding.

One thing I know, when you're going through tough times, is you need to give yourself extra love. Extra time. And proper nourishment. You have to make yourself put in the extra effort and it's hard. But, people need you. Your life may have changed. And it may be hard to get up. But, the world won't stop for you. You have to keep going. One thing I turn to for nourishment is chia seed pudding. It's quick, it's easy and it's deeply nourishing for your body and has omega fatty acids and tryptophan to lift your mood. Plus, there are a million ways to make it to suit your tastes. Make sure to give it time to properly gel up and you're sure to love it.

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Un-PHO-gettable Easy Vegan Pho

Pho, a type of Vietnamese soup, has been around for more than 100 years, but thanks to my recently-addicted husband, I’m just now hopping aboard this noodle train. I admit, I’m not much of a soup fan. I can eat it if I have to, but I’m certainly not going to seek out a bowl and crave it anytime soon. I’m a fan of vibrant, fresh, crunchy food so the thought of a mushy soup, especially one loaded with raw sliced beef in an {more than likely} MSG-laced broth of boiled bones doesn’t quite appeal to me. Until now. I mean, my plant-based copycat pho does at least. With its fragrant broth, mineral-dense sea veggies, thinly sliced peppers, hearty mushrooms, fresh herbs, crisp kelp noodles and spicy sambal sauce {think Sriracha, but way better} warming me up from the inside out, this soup’s vegan remake takes the traditional from ho hum to OH YUM and totally crave worthy in my book! We’ve been making this soup at least once a week here lately and enjoying the leftovers for lunch the next day. The ingredients from the shiitake mushrooms to the glassy kelp noodles are a fun and welcome deviation from the traditional fare we’re used to serving up. So, if you’re looking for a spicy escape from the ordinary, simply pull out your stockpot, grab your chop sticks and whip up this quick and easy vegan pho with sea veggies for an un-PHO-gettable {couldn’t help myself!} weeknight meal. Meatless Monday, anybody?

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Breakup Brownies with Benefits - Vegan and Gluten Free!

Dark, rich and absolutely breathtaking, these brownies will make you forget the dud who did you wrong. Because they are everything right in this world. And when they make you cry, it’s because you’ll be so overjoyed that something so ooey, gooey, chocolate-y and delicious can actually be as good for your hips as they taste on your lips. Made using beauty-enhancing superfoods like vitamin and mineral rich sweet potatoes, coconut flour and raw cacao powder, these babies will give you the glow your lover never could. And because lists help with breakups, here’s the top 5 reasons why these brownies are better than your ex ever was:

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Citrus-Charged Resolution Bowl

Unlike some 10 counts that can seem to last forever {I'm looking at you thigh sets!}, the countdown to the new year was here and gone before I even had a chance to process what just happened. So, stemming from inspiration I've gleaned from Insta, I declare February the true start to the bright and shiny 2016. January was simply the practice run ;) So, if you promised yourself to get fitter, happier, and/or save some money this year, then you're going to LOVE this zingy smoothie bowl that is seriously what resolutions are made of. 

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Nila's Favorite Kale Salad... Upgraded

You might remember Nila mentioning her go-to lunch in the latest LTB Report was a kale salad loaded with delicious fresh veggies, but surprisingly topped with a store-bought ginger dressing and crumbled spicy tortilla chips. It sounds absolutely tasty with that added spicy crunch factor along with the queen of greens herself, kale. But, and this is a big but, all that veggie goodness is covered in a big glob of beauty and health stealing criminals like GMO's, MSG, gluten, chemicals and preservatives that do not deserve a spot on your plate. You're worth so much more than that and your body deserves better than what the guys at the top are bottling, bagging and selling to make profit using cheap ingredients with expiration dates light years ahead of us - with one goal in mind: to get us addicted to and crave their products while they make bank.

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Wake up to Beautiful: "Beauty" Pebbles with Green Goddess Mylk

When I was little, I wouldn’t eat breakfast unless it had a cartoon character on the box or at least went snap, crackle and pop once the milk was poured. Maybe you can relate? Now, that I’m older, and dare I say a bit wiser, I still love a good bowl of cereal {like really, really love} but prefer to satisfy that craving in a way that loves my body right back. After all, even though Post has declared its Fruity Pebbles gluten free that doesn’t make it healthy. Do you even know what’s in that over-processed, neon-colored stuff? I checked it out and well, it’s not very pretty:

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Mermaid Glow-ji Pasta Bowl with Kale and Almond Butter Ginger Dressing

Oodles and oodles of... mermaid noodles? Sounds crazy, but this ramen of the sea tastes just as delicious and magical as it sounds. I have to admit, I was a bit leery to try this nearly calorie and carb-less pack of imposter noodles. Many times I placed them in my shopping cart only to make it to the checkout and well, chicken out. Was this going to be another one of my foodie fails that my family and friends would never let me live down... again? I mean, they're tangly. You have to first rinse them and then soak them in water. And then cut with scissors to desired length. Feeling completely out of my element, there was still something that kept piquing my interest and bringing me back to this ubiquitous pack of sea veggie noodles. What really sealed the deal was when one of my favorite nutritionistas ever blogged about them and shared her quick and easy recipe. That was all it took to finally take the plunge and buy my first bag of kelp noodles.

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Chai-Spice Persimmon Love Muffins

I remember the first time I went to Brick Street Cafe in Greenville, SC – a charming cafe with a brick facade and quirky interior adorned with odds and ends and antique finds. I was interning at the local news station and one of the reporters insisted she take me here for lunch because the cake is amazing. Well, twist my arm. So, we went. I ordered the fresh fruit plate with a side of love muffin. While the death by chocolate cake was seriously to die for, what really left me longing for more was that humble little love muffin, which by no means, was small at all. This muffin, always served warm, jam-packed {literally} with a cream cheese filling and a dollop of raspberry jam and just the right amount of crumble is certainly made with love… and butter and white flour and lots and lots of sugar.

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Molly's Energizing {no bake} Amaze-balls

Today is the last page of 2015 then, ready or not, it's time to open a new book. An exciting book, where you're the author and it's your journey filling the blank pages with love, triumph, laughter, heart ache and adventure. It's crazy to think that another year has already come and gone. Another chapter is closing and a new one awaits. It's scary but thrilling, hopeful but daunting... how can this be the best year yet? The year where goals are not just met, but exceeded, where there is more time for friends, learning, and playing with your littles and the year where happiness abounds on the daily? While I don't have all the answers or the plan that will get you {or me 😬} on the way to the best year yet, I do have the ultimate snack recipe to power you through the journey.

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Vegan Candy Cane {n}Ice-Cream

You guys! Christmas is only 2 days away. I'm dyyyyyyyiiiiiinnnnngggg! Definitely my favorite holiday. It used to be the Fourth of July, but since having little babes, it's all about seeing their big eyes take in the beauty of the Christmas lights, their little legs boppin' to the Christmas jams and their sweet faces light up on Christmas day. It's the most magical thing in the whole entire world. Truly amazing. Oh and I almost forgot... 'tis the season for treats too! Boy do the littles love that part... maybe a little too much. Of course, I let them indulge in cookies and school parties and hot chocolate galore, but I also like to keep the balance, ya know? So, that's where I feed them ice-cream for breakfast. Say what?! It's true... creamy, sweet and completely indulgent. Oh and super healthy too. No, it's not a conundrum. It's totally possible and here's how I do it...

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Fall Butternut Squash Tacos

While raw veggies will always have my crunchy heart, there’s something to be said for warm and roasted veggies too. The natural sweetness that comes from roasting this season’s finest instantly provides comfort, making it a welcome addition to any fall meal. And when that fall meal is tacos, boy, are you in for a treat.

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Better than a Reese's 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Date Cup

By now you've probably read the article that's circulating social media demonizing my favorite childhood candy that I may or may not have eaten for breakfast on occasion... the reese's cup. The famous chocolate duo seems innocent enough, but one look at the ingredients and you'll wonder where polyglycerol pilyricinoleate {PGPR} and tertiary butylhydroquinone {TBHQ} fit into the chocolate and peanut butter equation. Well, technically they don't. Or at least shouldn't. Take a look at what Hershey's is hiding behind that cheerful orange packaging... if you dare.

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The Easy Whole Food Thanksgiving Recipe Everyone Will Love

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! You guys! How did the holiday season get here so quickly? While, I'm not complaining... as far as I'm concerned, it makes up for the shorter days and freezing cold mornings... I am, however, a bit in panic mode. I mean, five weeks until Christmas... FIVE! And a mere 10 days until Thanksgiving. Despite what Target, 98.9 and a slew of other retailers and even some *cough* obnoxious neighbors think, Thanksgiving deserves to be celebrated before Christmas dominates the season. And maybe even more than once.  I mean, hello "Friends"giving and any other excuse to hang out with those you love and eat lots of yummy food. 

Speaking of yummy food, if you are feasting more than once this Thanksgiving, it's a good idea to keep your pants zipping well into the new year. Amiright?! So, eat what makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving to you {I'm looking at you sweet potato casserole!} and be sure to serve up some healthy options that taste as delicious as they are nourishing and even work double-time to keep your health-conscious guests happy too. Like this amazing herb roasted veggies dish from our LTB Report superstar Kat Eckles. Everybody from kids to carnivores will love these easy roasted fall veggies and you'll love dishing it up for them.

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{Almost} Raw Vegan Halloween Bites

Today was Diva Day at our Pure Barre Studio and I have to say, all this Xtina prep has really got me fired up for Halloween! Normally, Halloween is just kind of, "meh" for me. While it's fun getting the kids their costumes, I'm honestly like, why did I just spend that much $$ for one night where it's either going to be too cold to see their cute costumes because they will be bundled up in layers or in Emma's case, the costume probably won't even stay on. But, I'm so much less of a scrooge {uhhh... Frankenstein?!} this year thanks to all that PB excitement surrounding Diva Day. I'm so lucky to work at such an amazing studio with incredible coworkers, inspiring #girlboss and cute outfits because really, everything is so much more fun with a little tuck, a little shake and a whole lot of PBFF love! And a fantastic Diva-fied playlist!
OK... moving on now to the point of this post... I DO, however, always get excited about the Halloween FOOD! Making it look gross or fun or anyway special to get smiles from my kiddos just makes my life. Trying to think of something fun for this year to surprise them with and well, my train of thought went something like this, "hmmm... dracula, blood, white smoothie with cherry 'blood' on top oozing down the sides, balls, Frankenstein BALLS!, no no, bites, ooh vampires, even better... boo bites. Yes!" 

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This is No Trick: Healthy Candy Corn Smoothie with Vegan Marshmallow Fluff

Vampires, witches, goblins oh my! Halloween is right around the corner and with it comes the shorter days, longer nights and superstitions that will send chills down your spine for reasons that can’t be measured in degrees Fahrenheit! Originating from the ancient Celtic belief that, on Halloween night, the line between life and death blurs and spirits of the dead return to Earth. Today, tales of witches, black cats and mummies still loom, captivating children and adults alike, but the true horror has subsided into a night filled with candy, trickery and well, more candy! Filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors and saturated fat – the sugar bombs filling trick-or-treat baskets just might be the most frightening part of the night!

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PINKtober Smoothie Bowl

Our girls are always there for us. How lucky to have a dynamic duo so close to our hearts, offering support and adding that extra bounce to our day. Whether big, small or somewhere in between, they're always nice and everyone loves them. And if we nurture our special bond, we have a good chance of keeping them around forever. So make your two "breasties" this love-packed pink smoothie bowl with luscious coconut butter and exotic goji berries and settle in for a little girl time. After all, breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits so why not make superfood smoothies your latest obsession?

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Summer Lovin' Blueberry Donuts with Sweet Meyer Lemon Glaze

It’s hard to believe summer is already coming to an end. Sadly, that translates to only a couple of weeks left of berry season. Which means, I am urgently and desperately trying to get my fill of those tiny, antioxidant packed fruits before fall ushers in and pumpkin spice dominates the world market. So, with copious amounts of berries filling my fridge, my freezer and my chipmunk cheeks, I decided to send summer’s finest out with a bang and stuff them in a donut. A healthy, easy to make and even easier to eat, donut ….. You’re welcome.

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Moms {Don't Get Sick} Soup

So I never get sick. It's been a solid "more years than I can remember" stretch of sick free living {that time at Christmas doesn't count because I think I was just exhausted taking care of everyone else in my house who had the flu} despite my littles or hubs coming down with this or that. I have an immune system of steel I tell you. Or at least I did. Up until last week. Ugh. What started as a rare night of me letting loose and doing the one thing that makes summer summer for me... eating s'mores over the campfire... my little guy and I woke up feeling not very well at all. Sore throat and that overall feeling of being hit by a truck took over. Plus coughing for the little guy. Was this my punishment? I mean, I replaced the Hershey's with a clean 85% dark chocolate square... for all 3... Regardless, I needed soup. 

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Pumpkin Spice Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

You guys, it's September. And it's so hot. Still. But, if you are lucky enough to wake up before dawn like I am, you'll feel that nice crisp cool air tugging at fall and leg warmers to usher in quickly and take over summer's scorching hold on us here in the south. Oh and pumpkin spice -- the flavor that really dominates the season -- is beckoning us into the fall spirit. Full of warming, digestive spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, it's like a big cozy hug for your belly and comfort for your soul. Starbucks cashed in big on everyone's love for that sweet, spicy taste of fall and you can capitalize on it too with a lot less chemicals and a whole lot of body loving goodness with this cookie. 

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