Fun (and Healthy) Summer Recipes!

Summer break is here!! School is out, the weather is nice, fruits and veggies are ripe and fresh, and you have plenty of time on your hands! If you’re looking for fun summer activities, try making some of these simple and healthy (and colorful!) summer recipes. They taste great and look cool too! And they’re all perfect for hot summer days.

Frozen Banana Pops

A healthier and more fun alternative to eating ice cream in the summer is making and eating frozen banana pops! Bananas have good nutritional value (they contain potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and more), and they taste great too! Plus you can add a variety of healthy toppings.

Easy Summer Treats

Ingredients:
-Bananas (each banana will make 2-3 pops, depending on size)
-Spread (yogurt, cream cheese, dark chocolate, Nutella, peanut butter, etc.)
-Toppings (chocolate chips, oats, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles, crushed graham crackers, cookie crumbs, chopped dried fruit, etc.)
-Popsicle sticks, cookie sheet, parchment paper

Directions:
1. Cover a cookie sheet with a layer of parchment paper
2. Peel bananas and cut them into halves or thirds (depending on size of banana and how big you want popsicle)
3. Carefully put one popsicle stick in each piece of banana
4. Dip bananas in desired spread (or use a knife to spread if spread is thick)
*Cream cheese must be extra soft to spread, so make sure it’s warm or room temperature. Add honey or cinnamon if you want more flavor.
*For good dipping chocolate, add one tablespoon coconut oil for every 3 ounces of chocolate and heat until melted.
5. Roll each banana in desired toppings (or use hands to put on more toppings)
6. Place on parchment paper and freeze for 2-4 hours
7. Serve or put in freezer bag for up to a week

Berry Lemonade Popsicles

I am a huge fan of anything frozen and fruity. These popsicles taste great and look cool too! Bonus: they’re super simple and easy to make!

Berry Lemonade Popsicles are perfect for summer with fresh strawberries and blueberries!

Ingredients:
-Lemonade (can be from a mix, from a can, in a bottle, etc., and can be any flavor you want)
-Fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
-Popsicle mold

Directions:
1. Put sliced fruit in popsicle mold
2. Pour lemonade into mold until almost full
3. Place top on popsicle mold and insert popsicle sticks
4. Freeze overnight, then enjoy!

For other variations, try coconut water, iced tea or different juices. Or try cutting up other varieties of fruit!

Fresh Herb Flower Cucumber Bites

This is the perfect snack that can use veggies and herbs straight from the garden! The flower cucumber bites are perfect for tea parties, potlucks, or just mid-day snacks.

Ingredients:
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1/2 tsp lemon zest
-2 tbsp chopped pecans (optional)
-2 tbsp mint, thinly sliced
-2 tsp chopped chives
-4 ounces softened cream cheese
-1/8 tsp salt
-1 seedless cucumber, medium sliced into 32 rounds
-3-4 medium radishes, sliced thinly into 32 rounds

Directions:
1. Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a large bowl
2. Use a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut the cucumber slices into shapes (or try other designs!)
3. Assemble: place a radish slice on each cucumber slice and top with about ½ tsp of cheese mixture
4. Enjoy!

Rainbow Lemon Sparkling Water

Perhaps you’ve seen the awesome idea of putting food coloring in ice cubes. This is a variation that uses lemonade and sparkling water, making it taste even better and look even cooler!

Frozen kool-aid cubes and ginger ale. Cool rainbow drink

Ingredients:
-Lemonade (can be from a mix, from a can, in a bottle, etc., and can be any flavor you want)
-Food coloring
-Sparkling water
-Ice cube trays

Directions:
1. Put lemonade in ice cube trays
2. Add food coloring to each soon-to-be-ice cube
4. Freeze lemonade ice cubes
5. Put lemonade ice cubes in clear glass and add sparkling water
6. Enjoy!

Rainbow Fruit Kabobs

If you like rainbow, fruit, and SIMPLE, you will love these! They’re as easy to make as they look, and fruit is always a healthy choice!

Looking for something a little more healthy? Try rainbow fruit skewers! Delicious and breathtaking.

Ingredients:
-Strawberries, raspberries, or another red fruits
-Mandarin oranges, tangerines, or other orange fruits
-Pineapple or other yellow fruits
-Kiwis, green apples, green grapes, or other green fruits
-Blueberries or other blue fruits
-Purple grapes, blackberries, or other purple fruits
-Kabob skewers

Directions:     
1. Cut up fruits
2. Put fruits in rainbow order on kabobs
3. Enjoy!

For fun, try other color patterns. Or try sticking a bunch of kabobs in a whole watermelon—it will look great!

Avocado Corn Salsa

I am a huge fan of salsa, so I’m always looking for new recipes! This is a great one, especially for summer when veggies are fresh. Plus it’s super healthy—we all know veggies are good for you, beans are a great source of protein, and avocados provide almost 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid.

Avocado Corn Salsa Recipe

Ingredients:
-1 cup corn (fresh or cooked)
-2 avocados
-1 small onion
-2 limes
-2 medium tomatoes
-1 1/2 cup black beans
-Garlic Salt

Directions:
1. Cut/chop onion, tomatoes, and avocados (and remove fresh corn from cob if necessary)
2. Put into bowl and add other ingredients
3. Toss together
4. Refrigerate for a while (also gives time for flavors to mix together more)
5. Enjoy with any kind of chips!

Enjoy! Let me know which recipes are your favorite.

~Natalie

And now I will do what’s best for me…

With the end of the semester approaching, stress is at an all time high. With all the school work and stress of grades, we seem to lose ourselves in the madness. But you have to remember, that you ARE ALWAYS a priority. No matter the day or time, you always need to make sure you have time for yourself. I have learned that through high school and college, time to yourself is just as fun and appealing as time with your friends. Nothing is more exciting than putting on a good movie and painting your nails, or mixing up some DIY face mask cream and reading a good book. Here are some tips for staying relaxed and beautiful during a time of distress.

“Your feet will take you where your heart is.”  Your feet are a very important part to your body. They bear all the weight of the day. So after a long hard day, sit down and soak your feet in this peppermint mix and rid all the ware and tear of the day.

http://thedivinemissmommy.com/diy-peppermint-foot-soak/

DIY Peppermint Foot Soak | The Divine Miss Mommy

 

“Your body will be around a lot longer than that expensive handbag.” Your body is a reflection of your feeling. If you feel good, you will look better. Light a candle, play some calm music, and unwind in the bubbles and bath salts of this delightful bubble bath potion.

http://www.brit.co/picks/treat-yoself-to-this-5-minute-diy-bubble-bath/?utm_campaign=pinbutton_hover

Treat Yo'self to This 5 Minute DIY Bubble Bath

 

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.”  The first thing people should see is your glowing skin and bright smile. Rejuvenate your skin after strenuous days with these different face masks for all types of skin.

Top 10 DIY Cucumber Beauty Remedies for Glowing Skin

Beauty

 

Hopefully, all these tips will encourage you to sit down, take a break from the fast pace life, and take care of yourself. You are important, too!

– Jasmine

Put Down the Phone

Phones seem to be taking over our lives… I know that I, too, am guilty of this. We live in a day and age where cellphones seems to grab the majority of our attention. We constantly check our phones for text messages, Facebook notifications, instagram pictures, etc. We seem to invest more time in the lives that are behind our cell phone screen than the ones that are right in front of us.

It’s not that phones and social media are all bad, and that we should completely get rid of them. But it can definitely become a bad thing without the proper boundaries. We take pictures of our destinations before actually seeing where we are, and send a picture of our meal to our friends before even tasting it. There seems to be this need to put the electronic world first before our present  world.

I realized that when I was walking back home from work by myself, I could not just be present; I found myself taking out my phone and checking Facebook and Instagram while I walked to keep myself entertained. Gone are the days where we walk through town with our eyes up, looking around and taking in our surroundings and the people we pass along the street. Instead, our faces are turned down towards our screens answering the last text or checking up with whats new on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve also noticed that when I wake up I check my phone right away. How sad is that?

I have made it a point to recognizing those moments when my eyes are glued to my phone when it really was not necessary. When I walk home now, I put away my phone and actually enjoy my walk and look at what is around me. Every morning, I turn off my alarm and make it a point to wait at least 30 minutes before having any sort of interaction with my phone or laptop. I make myself some coffee, enjoy my breakfast without any distraction, have a conversation with my roommate, or simply take some time to myself by maybe reading a book I like. What I have noticed from these small changes is that I truly enjoy the moment that I am in. You only get to live each moment once. You may have similar experiences in life, but they will all be different in some way. Take the time to be aware of what is going on in your life now and put down the phone for just a moment. Take in your surroundings, savor the food you eat, and delight in the conversations you have with loved ones.

So, do not miss out on the great moments of your life. You only really go through things once. Put down the phone!

~Kat

FUN in the SUN with friends!

Interested in finding some neat new activities to have a little summer fun with your friends? Well here’s a few I found that I know I definitely want to try!

First, I began thinking about the joy that a classic board game can bring friends. Well, how about doing one in the sun? And instead of just bringing a board out and plopping it on a table, what about THIS nifty idea? Yard Twister!

I also came across this idea earlier in the spring, but didn’t get a chance to try it. Who’s ever been a part of a paint war? Cause it looks SO fun! And here are tons of different ideas on how to do it!

You can put paint in squirt guns!

Or in water balloons!

Or you know what, you can just do it however you like! But one tip from me at least… Wear a plain white shirt. Make’s it so much more fun!

But if you just want to cool off from the sun, AND still get a little creative, try a paint Slip n’ Slide!

The last idea I found may very well bring you back to your childhood. I don’t know about you, but I LOVED (well, let’s be real, I STILL love) making a good fort with blankets and sheets. You’d stack up the chairs, hang the corners on book shelves or bed frames, and viola. Nothing tops that… Except maybe a fort OUTSIDE. Sure, it might take a bit more improvising, but maybe with a little string, some clothes lines, whatever you got… Just MAYBE, can you make something spectacular.

I hope these ideas help add a little more fun in the sun for you and your friends! If nothing else, I hope they encourage you to get creative, and find some joy. Cause honestly, I don’t think you’re ever too old to go play in the rays.

~Jaynani

Trouble Cutting Fruit? Fear no more!

Summer’s here. Yup, let the sun rays flow… In my mind, this means BRING OUT THE FRUIT (not that it HAS to be summer to eat fruit, but sweet goodness is it delightful to be grinding on some watermelon chunks or pineapple while basking in the sun). So, I thought I’d address all those who have ever had the same revelation as me… HOW ON EARTH DO I CUT UP SOME OF THIS STUFF?

In college, I came home one day with a pineapple and cantaloupe in hand, and was super stoked to start munching on them. It had been a LONG week, and all I wanted to do was sit back, relax, and chow down on some good fruit. That’s when it hit me. I had no idea how to cut it properly.

So! If you’ve ever had that same kind of moment of panic, OR, don’t want to in the near future if you have a lack of fruit cutting experience, I’ve done some research for you.

FIRST UP: Of course, that darn pineapple. Why does it have to be such a pain… Or is it?

Image

EASY ENOUGH! Next, watermelon.

Image

Sweet. (Get it, cause watermelons are sweet?) How about this nifty one with kiwi’s!

Image

Awesome. Now check this one out! Super neat.

Image

Cantaloupe time! One of my favorites.

Image

Can’t forget this. MANGO’S.

Image

Those are the toughie’s!  But you can also go grab some strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cherries, grapes, pears, and so much more! From there, the options are endless. You can make a fruit parfait, a fruit shishkabob, salad, toss them all in a blender and make a smoothie, or just go with the classic: EAT THEM AS IS.

There are tons of ways to cut all these different kinds of fruit up, but if you’re at a loss like I once was, you can start here! I hope your summer gets a little more fruity with these step-by-step instructions. Enjoy!

~Jaynani

Laughter… You’re actually becoming HEALTHIER!!!!

I don’t know about you, but there is not much laughter can’t fix… At least in the moment. I don’t mean the “ha ha, that was a corny pun, Daniel,” kind of laughter. I mean the deep-rooted, snorting-triggered, body-aching belly laugh. There is truly no moment for me that can’t be fixed by that kind of laughter.

But here’s the thing: This isn’t just a personal remedy, it has been PROVEN by research that laughter brings about tons of health benefits! So… Laugh a little more in your day, and become healthier? Now how on earth can that be true? Well, here’s 7 research based proven benefits to laughing.

  1. Laughing lowers blood pressure

Lowering your blood pressure, no matter what starting levels they may be at, helps reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. That should be reason enough to laugh a little more!

  1. Laughter reduces stress hormone levels

The benefit of reducing stress hormone levels are infinite, but the obvious one includes making cuts to the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. On top of that, reduction of stress hormones in your body may result in higher immune system performance. In other words, laughing along with your buddy’s jokes at the end of a long day can not only help reduce some of the stress and anxiety you’ve built up, but also help keep you from getting sick! Sounds good to me.

  1. It’s a FUN ab workout!

Alright, everybody has to have felt this feeling at least ONCE in their life before, and screamed these words during a deep belly laugh… “Stop making me laugh! My belly hurts!” I think one of the coolest benefits of laughing (because keeping you from having a stroke or heart attack or building up your immune system is totally not as cool), would have to be that you are helping TONE YOUR ABS when you laugh! When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach are expanding and contracting, similar to when you are intentionally exercising your abs. So… Laugh and look GOOD. That should be a bumper sticker.

  1. Laughing improves cardiac health

Laughing is also a great cardio workout, especially for those who are unable to do certain physical activities due to an injury or illness. Laughing gets your heart pumping, and burns calories. Again, how is this not reason enough?

  1. It BOOSTS T cells

Laughing boosts T cells, which are specialized immune system cells just waiting to be activated. When you laugh, you are basically giving permission for TAKE-OFF for those cells to immediately begin to help you fight off sickness.  So next time you feel like there’s a cold coming in, try adding in a few chuckles.

  1. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins

The job of an endorphin is this: To be the body’s natural pain killer. So when you laugh, you release endorphins that can help ease chronic pain. You know, like what the medicines that cost the big bucks do.

  1. Laughing all-around produces a general sense of well-being

Research has proven that laughter can help increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a more positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So, when you smile and laugh, you can live longer? That has GOT to be enough reason why you should add more laughter in your day.

 

Yes, the deep-rooted belly laughs are great. But really, just a chuckle, or even a giggle can do so much for you. If I am being literally benefitted health wise by doing something that brings me joy, something that means I am having a good time, well then count me in. So think about this the next time you’re feeling stressed, anxious, like you’re getting sick, can’t be physically active, want to have a more positive outlook on life, or you just want to know you have given yourself a nice exercising touch to your day. Laughter can do the job! So, go ahead and get your giggle on!

 

 

~Jaynani

Searching for beauty? Searching in the wrong places? Just go WANDER!

Being new to write to this blog, I skimmed through a vast amount of the previous things that have been talked about or shared here. It didn’t take long for me to realize what I wanted to contribute first…
A common theme that I have recognized in this blog has been the idea of beauty and what it should mean to us. Beauty that is real, though, rather than a false expectation or image of something that doesn’t exist. In Alyssa’s February 20th entry titled “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful”, she stressed true INNER beauty. Beauty that goes far deeper than what kind of clothes you wear, what the shape of your body is, or what color eyes you have. It’s about seeing something honest, something true, something real in a world that has become more and more artificial or engineered.

Well, beauty can be seen in many places. One place I’ve learned to find it is in NATURE. So, I give you this: A rather famous quote that may look short, but can take you the distance…

Image

Playing video games, browsing your social media, watching great movie hits: These are all things that I do as well. I would be a complete hypocrite if I said to quit doing all those things. But there is only so much of technology you can take before getting caught up and stuck in the false beauties the world offers. It is EASY to look at magazines and wish that was you when you see pictures like that every single day on Instagram. And it’s EASY to feel your body isn’t shaped right when you see women portrayed like mighty goddesses in games or on the internet or in television shows. But when you find time to just wander… To “lose yourself” in a green world of nature that only has and only knows TRUE beauty… Then that’s when you begin to see with a new pair of eyes. That’s when you see what real beauty is.

Here are some pictures I took just last weekend at a place that is 13 minutes away from where I live. A place with infinite trails that allows you to just wander…

Image

ImageImageImage

Now here’s the real test: I challenge you. Yup, I said I challenge you. You don’t have to go climb a mountain (unless that’s your kind of thing), but just get outside. WANDER. Even if you’re in a place where there aren’t many trees, go take a walk. Or sit on a bench and watch the clouds. Or find a good place to watch the sunset… Or even the sunrise! (You gotta get up early for that one, which is REAL hard for me, so kudos to you if you can) But just go outside. Find what is bare but authentic, what is simple yet real… Find something that is beautiful.

~Jaynani

How to Get the Best ZZZZZ’s

I don’t know about you, but as the school year is coming to an end, I am getting more and more sleepy throughout the day. I wake up feeling groggy and not very rested, when I wish I felt more awake and ready to tackle my day. So, what can we do to make sure we are well rested and ready to face the challenges of a brand new day? I did some research and found some pretty awesome tips that I would like to share with you.

Tip #1: Keep a consistent sleep schedule 

You want to be able to keep a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week. Yes, this even means not sleeping in on the weekends…GASP!! I know, but believe it or not this actually helps make you feel more rested. You should be going to bed and waking up at about the same time everyday so that you can regulate your body clock. By waking up and going to bed at different times, your body clock is stuck trying to catch up and figure out what is going on each day, which causes you to feel more tired. So, remember, stay consistent.

Tip #2: You SNOOZE, you LOSE

Hitting that snooze button over and over again will actually make you feel more tired, even though you think it will help you feel more rested. Your body will try and go into a sleep cycle, but if it is interrupted every 10 minutes by you hitting the snooze button, it will leave you feeling lethargic for the rest of the day. YIKES!

Tip #3: Watch what you eat and drink before you sleep 

Things like caffeine and sugary candy are not the best things to eat before bed. Nothing bothers me more than having my wonderful sleep interrupted because I have to go use the restroom. So, drinking lots of liquids before bed are not a good idea unless you want to make several dashes to the restroom.

Tip #4: Dim the lights!

An hour or two before bedtime, you should dim the light on all devices (phone, laptop, tablet, iPod, etc.) to help get your body into sleep mode. Bright and flickering lights from your different gadgets can put your body into awake mode, so try not to use them before bed, or at least dim them as much as you can.

Tip #5: Avoid doing work on your bed 

Even though it may be very comfortable to do work on your bed, it can also lead to you associating your bed with the tough, daily grind you go through. This may make it hard to disconnect work and sleep while you are drifting off into dreamland. So, try and do your work/homework in other locations.

Tip #6: Work it out

Surprise, surprise, regular exercise will help you sleep better. Add that to your list of reasons for why you should work out

 

I hope these tips are helpful for you!!

~Kat

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

Stressed with school? Needing to find a new way to relax? Want to get ready for summer clothes and swimsuits, but not sure how?

Here is an idea!!!

Yoga is a super great and healthy way to build strength, tone muscles, and relieve stress.

Here is a good, simple morning yoga work out that doesn’t take that long. Doing this simple routine in the morning will leave you full of energy and ready for your day!

Image

Just hold each pose for a few minutes and you are good to go! If you really want to challenge yourself, repeat the sequence two or three times.

Here is another yoga workout that explains how to do each move and how long to hold it.

Image

Youtube and pinterest are also full of workout videos. Here is a link to a you tube page that has tons of great workouts!

Image

http://www.youtube.com/user/LivestrongWoman

Its always a good idea to warm up before and cool down after a workout. I was a competitive athlete in high school, and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of injuries because I rushed warm-ups or didn’t cool down after practice. Try some stretching or a light jog around the block-just something to get your blood pumping and your muscles warmed up and loose. And remember, if you are hurting, STOP!!!  I don’t want any of you gals to hurt yourself!!

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. And you’ll be on your way to a happy and healthy life!

Image

~Alyssa

Feeling Stressed or Angry??? Be Careful!

Image

I don’t know about you gals, but the last few weeks have been super stressful for me. And the everyday gloom of a rainy winter isn’t helping. When I happened to come across this picture during one of my “I-have-so-much-I-could-be-doing-right-now-but-instead-I-am-going-to-spend-hours-on-pinterest” moments, it really got me thinking.

I think the message of this quote is extremely important. Especially while we are young and feel like we are on top of the world. The decisions we make now can and will effect us for THE REST OF OUR LIVES

As we get older, our responsibilities and decisions begin to pile up. And honestly, it gets hard.

But that doesn’t mean we should make excuses or stupid decision. Have you ever seen the Snickers candy bar commercials where there is a large, often angry and loud being in the midst of a group of friends? And then the friends tell the creature to eat a snickers because “you aren’t you when you are hungry”?

This is so true. When someone is hungry, they often become irritated and easily frustrated. As Snickers suggests, you can become a monster.

You also aren’t you when you are tired, angry, scared, or stressed. Here are some simple ideas of how to manage some of those stressful or angering moments.

Stress:

  • Get some sleep!!! With homework, school, sports, television, phones, friends, family, and all the other busy parts of a teens life, getting 7-8 hours of sleep seems nearly impossible. However, sleeping gives your body time to relax and reload itself, and is one of the most important stress relievers
  • Social Media  This may sound like I am asking you to give up your life, but trust me, taking some time and stepping away from the constant stream of Facebook status’, instagram posts, and tweets will drastically eliminate some of that stress. Just try it and you’ll see! Constantly being connected means that there is no time to just be you. And being you is the most important thing you can do!
  • Go outside! When you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you to get outside and get some fresh air? I know mine sure did…. But they were right.  The refreshing air and open space will do wonders for your stress level.
  • Exercise While enjoying the outdoors, try going for a walk, run, play some frisbee, play tag with your friends, go on a hike, climb a tree, or any other physical activity you enjoy. Not only has exercise been proven to reduce stress and clear the mind, but it is also good for your health! And you can eat that extra cookie without feeling so guilty! =D
  • Talk  If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t ever be afraid to talk to someone. Try a close friend, a teacher, parent, school counselor or anyone else you feel comfortable with. Also… don’t forget that the staff here at YO are always willing to talk to you too!!

Anger

  • SLEEP Just like with stress, getting plenty of sleep will reduce your irritability and therefore make you less likely to get angry.
  • Take time for yourself  At the end of the day, you are are what is most important. Make sure you respect yourself and your body by taking time away from distractions such as media, friends, and school, and your phone to just be you. You could try journaling, working out, doing crafts, or just sitting still and relaxing.
  • Admitting your anger is the first and most important step to getting over these emotions. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to be angry, it is a completely normal thing to feel.
  • Talk it out! Just as with feeling stressed, talking about your feelings is extremely important.

Hungry 

  • Eat Something! Chocolate is always a good choice!! =D

~Alyssa