When I was a kid I used to love (who am I kidding? I still love) when my mom would make no-bake cookies. They were sooo good! And I feel like this recipe is the healthier, adult version of those. These peanut butter protein balls are the perfect bite-size breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up – no baking required! They have so much flavor and they’re packed full of wholesome ingredients. I had fun making these with my mom during my last visit, and even my brother (who is a big cookie lover) enjoyed them and didn’t complain that they tasted “too healthy”. The protein-filled ingredients means that one of these tasty little guys will satiate your appetite and get your energy up. Just make a batch and keep them handy in your fridge, so the next time you feel like eating an entire package of Oreos you can rescue yourself with a healthier option. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!
Peanut Butter Protein Balls
3 cups quick cook oats
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons ground flax seeds (or chia seeds)
1 cup shelled sunflower seeds (or chopped nuts or dried fruit)
½ cup mini chocolate chips
1)Gradually pour ingredients into a large bowl, mixing well
2)Using your hands, roll dough into rounded balls (about 1 tablespoon of dough each)
3)Place dough balls on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and place in fridge to set
4)Once set (after about 2 hours), protein balls can be removed from the cookie sheet and stored in a refrigerated container.
Over the past few months, I’ve been on a quest to switch my skincare and shower products over to more natural options, without all the harsh chemicals and parabens found in so many popular name brands. Ever since my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and vitamin deficiency diagnosis last spring, I’ve become very conscious about what I put in my body, (no nitrates, all-natural chicken and turkey wherever possible, calming teas and essential oils, no artificial sweeteners, healthy doses of veggies, and daily vitamin supplements), because I've realized how much it can affect my mood and energy-levels. I figured it was time to do the same with some of my beauty rituals. I was reluctant to give up loyalty to some of my favorite products, but in doing so I’ve found some great new products that I know aren’t putting junk into my body. This is just a start – natural products tend to be a bit pricier so I can’t transition all at once, and I'm finding it hard to give up the make-up brands I love – but I feel good about the small changes I’ve made so far. If you’re looking to make some healthy changes to your beauty routine, I hope my reviews below are a good start! Click each photo to shop the products I tried.
Acure Organics Facial Toner
This product was a refreshing way to wake up my skin each morning. The packaging was what drew me towards it. Unlike the toners I've seen before that come in a bottle, this one was a spray (no cotton balls needed!!). I've been putting three spriztes on my face before I apply my daily moisturizer, and it’s a cool, energizing kick to my sleepy skin. I really liked this product!
Nourish Organics Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion
This moisturizer doesn’t have a soft rose scent like I was expecting. It also feels a bit thick and takes a while to sink into my skin compared to my old moisturizer (I was a die-hard Olay Beauty Fluid user), so I had to apply it and then brush my teeth, etc. while I waited for the moisturizer to dry so I could put on my makeup. I didn’t love this lotion, and for the price I think I could’ve found something I like better. I will continue my search for a new - and natural - daily moisturizer!
Acure Organics Night Cream
This cream is a winner. I've been applying it every night before I go to bed, and it’s thick but not too greasy or heavy. It really helps to moisturize my skin after I cleanse my face. No more dryness when I wake up in the morning!
Deep Steep Color Vibrancy Shampoo
This shampoo doesn’t have a big lather or suds like I’m used to, but it smells nice and leaves my hair feeling clean without buildup or a heavy residue – and it’s gentle on my highlights! I might keep looking to see what else is out there, but you can't go wrong with this shampoo.
Jason Natural Satin Shower Body Wash in Lavender
The lavender scent of this body wash is so relaxing at the end of the day, and you can’t beat the price on this giant tub that will last for ages. It doesn’t feel super moisturizing, so I still have to follow up with my (non-natural) in-shower body lotion, but overall this is a nice body wash. I just wish it came in a wider variety of scents (I’m all about the musk/amber/vanilla) when it comes to my skin.
Tom's of Maine Natural Aluminum-Free Deodorant in Wild Lavender
For several years I’ve used Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant – and for a while I really needed to ;) – but I've been wanting to switch to a natural option. This deodorant by Tom’s has a pleasant smell, rolls on smooth and without a white residue, and it doesn’t have the harsh chemicals that other deodorants have. It has kept my pits smelling fresh all day during cooler temperatures, but it remains to be seen how it holds up in temperatures over 80.
In conclusion, my introduction to natural skincare has been a successful one! I've found some great products that I love and I'm excited to keep trying more. I'm still on the search for a better daily moisturizer that I love as much as Olay, so if you have suggestions I would love them! If you give any of these products a try, let me know if you feel the same. Xoxo
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about crafting, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan. When a DIY project doesn’t work like you thought it would, you have to try to relax and just go with it, no matter how frustrated and disappointed you might be (I think there’s a life lesson hidden in there somewhere).
This watercolor planter craft, which I tried with my extremely crafty mom during a recent trip home, did NOT go according to plan at first – the ceramic planters I had originally planned on using were too porous and didn’t allow the colors to run – but it ended up being okay! It forced me to think on my feet and get creative (I drew fun designs on the planters with sharpie and sealed with a spray sealant). In the end, I ended up creating something I really liked, even if it was different from what I had initially expected to make, and I think that’s all that really matters.
After that first round of trial and error, I experimented with a different type of planter and the project DID work! Through all of this, I learned that in order to get the watercolor effect you need to use a ceramic planter with a more glossy or glazed finish. (Aren’t you glad I figured this out for you?!) This second batch turned out beautifully, with the colorful and soft watercolor effect that I was going for, but I honestly also love the planters that came out of the first mix-up. Both are cute and fun in their own way.
The smaller planters (which didn’t go according to plan) make adorable votive holders and desk accessories, but could also hold a mini cactus or succulent. The larger planters are perfect for a group of succulents or an indoor plant. Both were easy and stress-free to make – I found doing the watercolor planters very soothing and fun – but they do take some time. I spent about 25-30 minutes on each. If you decide to give these a try let me know what you think!! I hope you have as much fun creating them as I did. Happy crafting!
Watercolor Sharpie Planters
Ceramic planters of any size (with a glossy or glazed finish)
Assorted Sharpie markers
Nail polish remover
Spray sealant (matte finish)
1) Cover your workstation with paper towels.
2) Select the assortment of Sharpie colors you’d like to use.
3) Pour 1/3-cup nail polish remover into a disposable cup.
4) Color your planter with your Sharpies (create medium to large sized sections of assorted colors all around the planter – this doesn’t need to look perfect or 100% covered in Sharpie).
5) Once the entire planter has been colored, dip a cotton ball into the nail polish remover, squeezing out the excess so that it feels damp but not soaked.
6) Gently rub the damp cotton ball all over the colored planter, smudging and blending the colors to create a watercolor effect (avoid touching with your fingers).
7) Use paper towel to dab off any droplets or excess liquid off of the planter.
8) Let planter dry.
9)Once dry, take planter outdoors and spray its entire surface with spray sealant.
10)Let dry and then enjoy!
My name is Abby Formella and I'm a 27 year-old working girl living in the lovely borough of Brooklyn, New York.