Coconut Mango Chia Pudding

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Healthy living is just that, a lifestyle.It’s a challenge that I am continually striving for. When I turn my brain off and devour 3 giant butter-filled cookies, I feel it an hour later. When I grab food for energy, I never regret it, like a beautiful bowl of protein and a rainbow of veggies and fruit. But we all need those fun grab-and-go sweets, right? Chia seeds…an ancient superfood. That’s established. They were first eaten to keep soldiers full, sure. But in a dessert?It’s been 2 years since I first blogged about Chocolate Chia Pudding. To be honest, I had forgotten about it. But not today!

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Coconut Mango Chia Pudding
Makes 1 pint, or 2-3 servings
 Using the superhero power of chia seeds {not the chia pet} and creamy, dreamy coconut, mango and vanilla, this dessert is refreshing, light, and satisfies a mean sweet tooth!

1 1/2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond/coconut blend)
3 TB chia seeds
3 tablespoons coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/3 cup chopped mango (Trader Joe’s has awesome frozen mango chunks)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
2 dashes cinnamon

In a pint mason jar, add all ingredients. Replace the lid tightly and shake like crazy! Let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, so the chia seeds can soak up the flavorful happiness. Serve cold.

 

Happy & healthy eating!

Laurel

Quasi 30

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mama

I turn 30 in 2 hours.

I know, I’m making a stupid big deal out of it. If you’re annoyed, just skip this post and go look at Triple C.

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The 30 Before 30 challenge has been just that…a challenge! Fear is always there (a little bit), along with excitement, but mostly I just need more time. (Don’t we all?) I think I was on track to complete my {super ridiculously overachieving} 30 goals before my b-day…February 24…but then I was out of town for almost 3 weeks, and things got a little off, shall we say. And life happened. And sometimes I just wanted to make a big, easy salad or have a frozen veggie burger versus making 6-day sourdough or some other awesome, time consuming bread. TIME.

And the irony, oh the sweet crazy irony of a challenge involving my age, the time I’ve been trotting on this planet, and it’s in direct conflict with the time needed to complete this challenge. Argh. {Have I ever mentioned I’m an only child? Yeah, that side just popped out for a moment. Sorry.} But, in the spirit of FINISHING a race/challenge/goal/hurdle…I will give myself some extra time to CRANK THIS OUT. Am I cheating? Perhaps. But I’d rather finish well than not finish at all. 🙂

Thanks for sticking with me through the challenge, switching my blog over…and everything in-between. You are lovely.

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Tomorrow is a big day for many reasons, and I won’t go into that now. Maybe later. Most importantly, since I’m usually the last person in the world to make a big deal about my birthday, I get to celebrate a day where I’ve reached 30. Some people just don’t make it to that age. I’ve never had to go one day without the option of 3 square meals. I’ve always had a roof over my head, even if it was leaky. I’ve had access to transportation {public or private}, clean drinking water, clothes, and even {yes, yes} dumbbells/jumpropes/TVs/computers, & other random modes of exercise and entertainment. I have lived a life of luxury, by the world’s standards. I’ve never experienced real poverty, just temporary bouts of stress over money. I’ve never lost my health or my mind {debatable}, and I’ve never been labeled an addict. I’ve felt lonely but never lived hopelessly.

I do have an always. Always, I have been loved. God gave me the gift of being surrounded by amazing people before I even was born. Loving people have come in and out of my life, bearing gifts of wisdom, teaching, kindness, gentleness, grace and, most of all, themselves. {I’m not looking for a February rendition of “We Three Kings” here, trust me. Yech.} However, I am eternally grateful for these individuals.

As I think of what I’ve done so far in my life, I realize how much more I want to experience, if not accomplish. I like goals, and I also love to flounder. I like rules and find joy in bending them here and there. Being early can be fun but, let’s face it, I was born late-late. I’m thrilled to just be able to DREAM.

For the sake of recording for the future (because I can be so forgetful), here’s the stupid/exciting/silly stuff I accomplished experienced  in the last 10 years…

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  • Lived in Boston, studied music at my dream school, ate a ton of pizza, drank a ton of coffee, stayed up way late way often, saw manymany shows {music, duh}, sang a lot
  • Responded to my call to ministry, hung out with prisoners and children
  • Met Matt, fell in love, married said Matt, adopted Sam the dog, moved 5 times with said Matt & Sam
  • Got some extra letters after my name, learned I know nothing and have so much to learn
  • People…I experienced their beauty and their pain…okay, I just got a taste of it…that’s still going on.
  • Dreaming big and dreaming wide, being okay with lots of grey in all places of my life, being certain that I love to live in grey {and turquoise, duh}
  • Grieving the loss of one of my best friends, being hurt and hurting others, reconciling and restoring relationships
  • Being loved much, making new friends, losing a few old friends, reuniting with lifelong friends
  • And, in the last few months, I’ve learned that I’m not as afraid of life as I used to be. I’m really quite thrilled by the adventure, actually.

 

So that’s all I have…and it’s a lot, I know.

The 30 Before 30 challenge continues, and I hope you’ll check in here and there to see how it’s going. I hope you’re able to reflect a little {or a lot} on where you are in life right now, where you want to go/be/see, and what you’d like to experience along the way. It’s not always about Accomplishing, it’s more about EXPERIENCING. Let’s do this thang. 🙂

Happy living!

-Laurel

Cookie Dough Truffles

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Cookie Dough Truffles. Those words are heavenly, right? And this little sweet treat sums up Matt’s & my vacation for the last 10 days…sweet, something we craved, and it was gone a little too quickly. HOWEVER, in the moment (like these truffles), spending time with our family and friends was HEAVEN.

photo (1)    A lot happened, from a 6:00am flight on Wednesday the 5th, to picking up groceries and getting to my parents’ house at 4:30, to a party that was going to start at 7:00. Matt & I cooked furiously (and joyfully!) to get everything done and, in true Laurel style, I took on way too much, it was messy, and *in the end* the party was a success. My mom was surprised on her birthday with friends from childhood all the way up to new friends. She was thrilled! Every smushed lemon bar from jostling in the overhead bins on the plane and every bead of sweat on Matt & my rushed foreheads was totally worth the surprised/shocked/thrilled look on her face. Success.

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Matt & me in Galveston!

Then we went to a wedding in Galveston, the beach I grew up on and have hundreds of fond and crazy memories of in my mind and heart. Matt has just as many memories (if not more), and I love that this one location stirs up the times we spent there as children, teenagers, adults and as a couple. Our friends Kate & Russell were wed in a beautiful church and we danced all night to a New Orleans band’s incredible sounds. We caught up with friends that are more like family to me, and a huge aching hole in my heart was filled after our time together. (I missed them!) I’m thankful to Russell & Kate, an awesome pair, for allowing us to be present on their special weekend.

We spent some time with my amazing cousin, Jeremy, before heading off to Kansas to see Matt’s family. He is the closest thing I have to a brother, and it’s always fun to hang out with him, roll our eyes at my parents’ corny jokes, and glutton-ize a bit with amazing Tex-Mex.

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Pat (MIL), Abby (niece), me & Maura (sister-in-law)

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Libby (niece), Matt & me

And then off to Kansas, to see the big family. Our nieces and nephews are growing up (the oldest niece, Abby, turned 14 while we were there!), and they are each such incredible people. Their parents are pretty awesome, too, and we got some good quality time with Maura & Jake, our favorite vinyl-loving, toy-collecting duo. My world traveler mother-in-law, Pat, spent several days with us before jet-setting to Peru for a medical mission trip. She’s always moving.

 

 

 

 

 

So on to cookie dough…eggless treats that it’s fun to indulge every once in a while. One is plenty…they’re rich!

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Cookie Dough Truffles

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk OR 2/3 cup almond milk + 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 lb. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Mini chocolate chips (for garnish)

Step 1: In a mixer, blend utter and brown sugar for 3 minutes, or until creamy. Add flour, condensed milk, and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in fridge for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Next, spoon 1 TB of dough and roll into balls. Set on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and set in the fridge for 30 minutes to harden (or the freezer for 15, if you’re in a rush, like I was).

Step 3: Melt the coarsely chopped chocolate in the microwave and stir in between 30-second increments until melted. Coat each dough ball in chocolate and set back on the parchment paper to cool. Add a few mini chips on top of the cooling truffles for garnish. Try not to eat them all! (Store in the fridge for up to a week.)

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