Halo Top. Arctic Zero.

Well, it’s finally time to address one of the more popular debates in the world these days: Artic Zero or Halo Top? Which kind of healthier ice cream option is the best?

It seems like every time we turn around there’s another option for healthier snacking & sometimes it’s just too hard to choose! Plus, when you’re spending $5 on one pint of ice cream, you wanna be able to make an educated choice. That’s where I come in. 

For a little over a year I was all about Artic Zero. I love how icy and refreshing they all are, even the decadent ones like brownie or cookie dough. The flavor is so good and I tried just about every single flavor option they sold in my local Kroger. My favorite creamier flavor is the cookie dough. It has real pieces of cookie dough and it’s oh so wonderful. I also love the pomegranate as an icier option that is so delicious and refreshing during the brutal summer months. They recommend you leave it out for 10 minutes before eating, or they say you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to speed up the process. It is a lot better when you let it sit, but it’s awfully hard to wait sometimes. Artic Zero has a good amount of protein and doesn’t taste powdery or like it’s chalked full of protein. It comes in a pint and has the nutritional values for one serving, as well as for the whole thing. I know we’re not supposed to eat a whole pint of ice cream ever, but when you can eat something that’s so delicious for less than 300 calories that will keep you full, sometimes it’s difficult not to!

I’ve always been one who loves fruity sorbet and sherbet rather than heavy chocolaty ice creams or custards. Until recently, that is.

Halo Top. I was so hesitant to give in to yet another brand of healthier “ice cream” because I really thought that Artic Zero was as good as it was gonna get. Then my sister came home on Weight Watchers and informed me that Halo Top was better on points, a whole lot creamier, and still had the protein that I felt like I needed to keep me full. I hate to admit this, but little sister was right. I cannot get enough. Red Velvet, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Black Cherry, Brownie Batter, give me all of the flavors. I truly need them all. I didn’t even know I liked Red Velvet and last night I looked down and the pint was half empty! If you’re looking for something creamy like real ice cream is, this is definitely the winner. It’s so satisfying and also has the protein I like to have in a snack. It’s just that good. They do recommend you leave it out on the counter for about 15 minutes and it helps to reach the maximum consistency we look for when we need to satisfy our ice cream craving. Just like Artic Zero, it’s really hard to wait, but it’s SO much better when you do. Just don’t forget about it!

Ultimately, if I had to choose, I would go with Halo Top. But I really do think it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re on a program like Weight Watchers, it seems Halo Top is also the better option. But if you’re looking for something icy to cool down or ease a sore throat, Arctic Zero is the way to go, no doubt. If you’re looking to combat the need for a half-gallon of creamy goodness of custard or ice cream, go with Halo Top.

Now I wanna know which one you love! Are there some other new brands that are better than either one of these?

And now of course I need to know your favorite flavors of each so I can try them for myself!

This is one of those posts that I really want all of the advice and recommendations on!

Can’t wait to hear from you guys!

Advertisements

Pitaya Smoothie Bowl.

This one is my absolute favorite & I could really eat this every single day. I am all about eating what you love, but I know as well as anyone that you’ve got to give your body the good stuff. My go to in the morning, especially in the summer, is a smoothie or smoothie bowl. Seriously what is better than a frosty smoothie on a hot summer day? I have recently become absolutely addicted to pitaya smoothies. Pitaya is basically just dragon fruit & after using this product for almost two years, I still cannot get over the beautiful color & how good it tastes! You can buy frozen packs from pitayaplus.com to freeze, add a few ingredients, blend it up, & hit the road. Pitaya has a very mild flavor that can be enhanced by the different things you put in your smoothies. Below is my favorite recipe. *This post contains affiliate links.

1 pack frozen Pitaya Plus

½ c. pineapple

2 kale cubes (recipe below)

¼ c. orange juice

1 tbsp matcha powder

1 banana

Optional: juice of half a lemon, 1 scoop maca powder

You can get my favorite maca powder here Navitas Organics Maca Gelatinized Powder, 4 Ounce and this is by far my favorite matcha Matcha Green Tea Powder Organic, 100gms (3.5oz)!

Kale Cubes:

This is so easy. I usually buy a few bags of kale that is on sale because of a close expiration date. As soon as I unpack the groceries, I add the kale to the blender with just enough water to allow for blending. It ends up being about ½ cup for a big bag of kale. Once it’s all blended, I pour the mix into ice cube trays & freeze them. That way they’re ready to go & you don’t always have to have fresh greens for your smoothies!

You can put these in any smoothie you make. I literally add them to acai bowls, wheatgrass smoothies, regular strawberry banana smoothies…basically everything! For those of you who don’t even like kale, you really can’t taste it but you’re still getting all the benefits!

Some days when I’m not rushing out the door, I like to make smoothie bowls, which I like to be thicker than a normal smoothie, so I just add a frozen banana instead of one that’s room temperature. The lemon juice just brings out the flavor of the pitaya and the maca powder has tons of vitamins and doesn’t add any flavor or bad taste to the smoothie.

When I make a smoothie bowl, I mix it up with different toppings, but usually leave the blended ingredients the same. If I have fresh fruits that need to be used, I’ll toss them in the blender to sweeten the base a little bit. Pineapple or kiwis are so good in the base whether I’m turning it into a smoothie bowl or not. Sometimes I slice a kiwi & a few strawberries to put on top or put some granola & low sugar dried cranberries. Pineapple is also amazing as a topping! I’ve used Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds, 12 Ounce & goji berries, drizzled almond butter or used sliced almonds with any kind of fresh berries. I’ve also been known to use shredded coconut for added sweetness or raw pumpkin seeds for an added crunch and extra protein. My method is usually something that’s crunchy, a fresh fruit, & something like hemp seeds for an added boost of all the things that are good for you! Below is a picture of the recipe given above with a frozen banana poured into a bowl & topped with sliced almonds, shredded coconut, sliced strawberries & a sliced kiwi. See how pretty?

As you can see, pitaya bowls are an art- one I am obsessed with!

TIP: I also love to add hemp seeds or granola to yogurt for quick, easy lunch!
This is my favorite granola for all things and it’s so indulgent with big pieces of dark chocolate Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Premium Granola, Dark Chocolate Macaroon, 11.5 Ounce. YUM!

What kind of smoothie bowls or smoothies are your favorites? Do y’all have any recommendations for some better toppings for smoothies or smoothie bowls for me? Have you tried pitaya?

You can literally make anything from it! I’ve made pitaya jam just by adding ½ teaspoon of chia seeds to a pack of thawed Pitaya Plus. I like to use it on rice cakes or drizzled over fresh fruit. I’ve also completely thawed out 2 packs & made ice cubes out of it. I’ve found the ice cubes are so good with Cran-Raspberry La Criox. Try it out & let me know what you think!

Acai Bowls have been really popular as of late and I make a lot of those, too. They’re still a delicious treat that also use a lot of nutritious ingredients. The recipe I normally use is pretty simple and it is listed below!

1 scoop (about a tbsp.) of Navitas Organics Acai Powder, 8 oz. Bag

1 frozen banana

½ c. frozen fruit blend

¼ c. orange juice

Throw it all in and blend until smooth. Some of my favorite toppings are pineapple, granola, and shredded coconut. I’m telling you guys, try it! And then let me know how much you love it!

Simple Tips for Healthier Living.

Over the last six months, I’ve been looking at my life & my overall health from a different perspective than ever before. Making big changes & small changes in an effort to just be happy. At the beginning of May, I decided I wanted the whole month to be focused on mindfulness and creating a healthier state of mind, rather than solely working on a healthier body. I figured spending 31 days being more aware of the simple things, paying attention to my breathing and thinking, and being more appreciative of the little things would create habits to be able to continue this lifestyle long after the month ended. For so long I put my main focus on the physical aspect of healthy living and had never even considered the mental and emotional aspects. Crazy right? Unfortunately I think a lot of young people approach ‘healthy living’ this way. I don’t even pay enough attention to the things I’m eating or drinking so I especially wasn’t paying enough attention to clearing my mind.
So here we are at the end of the month and I definitely feel like an improved woman. There are a few things that I’ve been sure to do every single day since May 1st that I wanted to share with you! I know we’re all so busy these days and sometimes it’s hard to take 20 minutes out of the day for yourself, especially in addition to your workout. But you need it! Do yourself a favor and take a little more time out of each day for yourself. Your body and mind will thank you. I promise! Here are a few of the biggest things I’ve incorporated into my daily routine.

  • Start each morning with green tea. No special brand, iced or hot. Add some lemon juice to it or drink it plain. Green tea is a natural diuretic and has been proven to help your belly flatten out when you drink it regularly. It’s also said to improve brain function. The biggest reason I drink it every day is because it honestly just makes me feel better.
    • You could also add cinnamon and apple cider vinegar to your daily cup. This combo has gotten a lot of good press because it can help to lower cholesterol!
  • Exercise. Do 100 crunches, 50 push-ups, go to the gym for cardio & weight work, hit a Pure Barre class, run outside. Anything to get your heart pumping and body moving. Working out in the morning boosts your metabolism and gives you all the endorphins you need to make it through the toughest days at work. Plus, it’s out of the way first thing! No one has ever regretted a good sweat session.
  • Deep breathing exercises. Maybe it’s before you even get out of bed, maybe it’s in the car on the way to work, or it’s before you fall asleep at night. Even if you only do this for one minute, the benefit is still great! I always breathe in for 10 seconds, breathe out for 12 seconds. This helps you literally blow off some steam and any anxiety or frustrations you have about the day will dwindle away. If you’re doing these at night like I usually do, it helps clear the mind from the day’s events so we’re not thinking about everything that we still need to do or about anything that happened throughout the day.
    • This has probably been the biggest key to success for me. I used to let so many small things frustrate me & by blowing off some steam this way every single day, I feel brand new.
  • Meditate. I recently downloaded the Mindfulness app on my phone and I can’t believe how much it helps! You can set reminders each day so you don’t forget and it also sends a motivational quote. They have 3, 5, 15, and 30 minute sessions. All of them are beneficial, and with as little as 3 minutes, there’s no excuse not to! This is one of the biggest practices that has helped immensely in realizing what’s really important in life. Spending time getting to know my mind better has helped me just be happier, more motivated, definitely more upbeat through the day. I usually spend 3 or 5 minutes right before bed with one of the guided exercises. I’ve slept better this month than I have in the last six combined.
  • Call someone you love. Whether it’s your mom, sister or brother, best friend, it doesn’t matter. Just give them a call, tell them you love them and you’re thinking about them. It will not only help you feel better but it will make their day too!

And that’s it! Just five little steps that have made me happier and feel so much more content with my life. I haven’t been the most happy with my current working situation so doing these things each day has helped pull out the good things in everything I’m faced with every day. I just decided one day it was time to control all the aspects of my life that I possibly could. By doing this, the negative things that come my way that I can’t control don’t seem so bad. My shoulders are far less tense, I laugh a lot more, and my every day feeling about life is much improved.
Each step is done in no particular order but every one of them is so worth the little extra time and oh so necessary. I’m definitely in the habit of each step and on days where I forget my tea, I just feel out of whack. These habits have helped me immensely and I hope they can do the same for you!

My next goal is to start incorporating yoga into my routine! Any recommendations on where to start?
Do you have daily routines that you just cannot live without?

Pure Barre Addict

On October 24, 2015, I took my first class at my home Pure Barre studio & my life has never been the same. I had taken two classes at a different Pure Barre location & absolutely loved it so when a studio opened up closer to home, I knew I had to start taking more regularly. I have always struggled with my weight, mostly with eating well, so it’s never been super hard for me to go to the gym, but I always get so bored with the same routine in a normal gym. I had been going to a regular gym doing the weight machines & elliptical every single day. I was seeing decent results, I just got so bored so quickly! It made it hard to be willing to get up in the mornings to go, especially when no one was there holding me accountable.

Pure Barre is absolutely everything I had been looking for & so much more. Not just in a work out, but really in every aspect of life. I found a new group of friends who I look forward to seeing every single day, and in those friends, I found the strongest & some of the sweetest women I have ever met. I’ve also found a second home at this studio. You should always sign up for classes, which is really great for me because my instructors know when I’m supposed to be there! That means if I cancel, they’re definitely going to check in on me! They’re never pushy, always the most motivating, & absolutely some of the best women I’ve ever met. I hit my 250th class in November & I could not be more proud of myself. The changes I have seen in every part of myself are phenomenal. I stand taller, my body is leaner, my muscles are stronger, and it’s incredible how much happier I am now that this workout has become part of my lifestyle.

Sometimes it’s hard for women to separate the number on the scale from the way their body looks. I’ve always been one who has needed that smaller number when I step on the scale. Since starting Pure Barre, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds. But my entire body is so much stronger than it’s ever been & I am honestly so amazed with myself every single day. I never in my whole life would ever have imagined I could plank for 30 seconds, much less 90!!

Each class has the same structure but they’re always different. We start with a warmup, move to thigh exercises, then seat work, and finish off with abs & stretching. Each instructor will always keep you guessing with what moves you’ll do next.

The women are so inspirational, so proud of you & of themselves every time they walk through that door that it’s impossible not to come back. I could literally go on for days about my love for this little studio- there really is just absolutely nothing like it!

When you surround yourself with people who want to succeed as much as you do, that’s when you’ll start seeing your results. In a class, the women feed off of the energy of one another. You’re there for your 55 minutes. No one is there to judge how low you sink your seat or how close to the mat you can get your shoulders during abs. Every single woman is there to help herself become better & they’re all there for the encouragement I know I need to get through that final 10 count.

My love for Pure Barre & our little studio is immense. I know anyone who takes Pure Barre knows exactly how I feel.

 

Have you tried Pure Barre?

What’s your favorite work out?

What about hot yoga? I would love to get into it so any feedback you have for me is much appreciated! There are so many options out there & I know there are some I’d love to try with you all!

Puerto Rico

For Christmas 2012, instead of our typical holiday celebration, I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico with my family. When we take trips, relaxation is definitely expected (& always much needed!) but we’re always sure to do a lot adventuring throughout the trip, too. Zip-lining through the Puerto Rican jungle is a memory I can’t imagine forgetting anytime soon. My sister, dad, & I went on a five-hour zip-lining excursion & saw some of the most beautiful scenery you could imagine. Although we didn’t see any mongoose, the different kinds of birds were very cool. From the mountains, to literally zipping through the jungle, it was truly an indescribable feeling.

zip line

We love to hike & find the path less traveled no matter where we go, & being in Puerto Rico was no different.

San Juan was the first trip we had taken as a family that included so much history, rather than just beautiful sand & long hikes to the most secluded beaches. We stayed right on the beach, just outside of Old San Juan. Below are a few pictures taken in Old San Juan, including the San Juan Cemetery. Even though winter there isn’t what we think of it as in Louisville, it still came with some cloudy skies & a whole lot of wind! Even still, it really was so beautiful.

I know better than to believe you’re totally & completely interested in every single city I’ve visited & every single thing we’ve experienced in each place.

Do you like to travel? What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

Or maybe you’ve found an awesome area that is your own little getaway close to home. I want to know about it!