FOOD

Pumpkin Pancake Skewers with Cherry Cranberry Compote

Found the perfect post-Thanksgiving feast recipe. But it comes with a disclaimer.

WARNING: The cuteness level of these pancake skewers may explode your brain cells + the yum factor may make your taste buds fall off your face.

Mini food… it’s the best. You can eat more of it because it’s small, aaand… it’s adorable. You just can’t start your day off with mini things + be a grumpy pants, dark cloud all day long.

Pumpkin Pancake Skewers

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin, pureed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • Coconut oil, for greasing

Preparation:

Step 1: Preheat a large skillet on medium-low heat on the stove stop.

Step 2: Combine almond milk + lemon juice in a large bowl + let rest for 5 minutes to curdle.

Step 3: Then add melted coconut oil + maple syrup + pumpkin + coconut palm sugar. Then whisk to combine.

Step 4: Add almond milk/lemon mixture + whisk again until well-combined.

Step 5: Next add baking soda + baking powder + salt + spices + oat flour to the wet ingredients. If the batter appears too thin, add a bit more flour. If too thick, add a splash of almond milk. Let batter rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 6: Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat. Brush with coconut oil. Pour the batter in ¼ cup measurements.

Step 7: Flip when bubbles appear in the middle + the edges turn slightly dry. Cook for 1 to 3 minutes more on the other side.

Step 8: To plate, stack pancakes with a thin layer of Cranberry Cherry Compote in between. Enjoy!

Did you know?

Pumpkins’ bright orange color may make them a good substitute for traffic cones, but the real power behind their hue is beta-carotene, essential for eye health + has also been linked to preventing coronary heart disease. Pump up the pumpkin!

Cherry Cranberry Compote

Plain cranberries are very tart, so I wasn’t sure if I could pull off a healthy version that’s as heavenly as the original. With the help of pineapple juice + applesauce + honey, I conquer the impossible.

Please note this is not as sweet as store versions. Taste at the end of cooking. It is naturally sweet from the fruit juice + applesauce, but you can adjust the sweetness to your liking with honey if needed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted + chopped
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed pineapple juice
  • ½ cup Apple Sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup honey

Preparation:

Step 1: Put cranberries + cherries + pineapple juice + applesauce + water in a saucepan + bring to a boil.

Step 2: Keep on medium heat, stirring constantly until the cranberries start to burst for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3: Reduce to a simmer. Pour the orange zest + orange juice + thyme over the mixture.

Step 4: Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the honey + turn off the heat. Set aside.

Step 5: Cool completely + store in the fridge at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, before serving. It can be rewarmed after you prepare your pancakes.

Enjoy with family!

 

 

 

Photography Credit

Marcela Macias

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Things You Can Control

Just a friendly reminder that you have so much power inside of you. While it would be really cool to control the weather and convince people that climate change is real and that everyone should have the right to marry whoever the heck they love (no exceptions), today I choose to focus on what I can control.

And what CAN I control anyways? Here’s a little diagram of things that are totally within my reach:

Now it YOUR turn. What can YOU control?

Drag n’ drop the image above to your desktop or save it to your camera roll if you’re on a mobile device, and fill it out. Be sure to tag me @mayicarles when you post it so I can see your remote control in action, alright?

Thanks for playing. I seriously LOVE to see your recreations sprinkled across the web.

BUSINESS · PERSONAL

A True (Business) Story

I dunno if you know this, but in 2005 when my dad and I co-founded Life Blends people thought we were nutz. Quite literally.

“You’re gonna make freshly squeezed juices? No pasteurization? No added water? No sugar? No additives? No preservatives? Wait! You’re telling me they don’t last 76 years in your pantry? Say whaaaaaat? I don’t get it!” They said.

The following year we were given the highest national award for business innovation.

Innovation is, and has always been in our DNA. Daring to do what we believe in hasn’t always come easy, but it feels gooooood.

Our door has been knocked multiple times to go bigger, to make more, to cut corners, to take short cuts, to add X to extend shelf life by Y. You name it. We’ve heard it all. It’s seducing, don’t get me wrong, but none of it helps us sleep at night, so we said NO. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

After 13 years of making freshly cold-pressed juice daily, we are proud to say YES to a our new ECO bottle. Cause after a while it becomes more than just a family business, ya know? It’s starts to be about legacy, about doing our part, about leaving our mark.

We want to be known not just for making freaking-amazing juices that are good for you, but for doing it in a way that also cares, respects and honors our planet.

There is no Planet B. That’s why our new packaging is 100% biodegradable and 100% recyclable. Piiiiiiinch me.

Let’s build a better world for our kids, and their grandkids, and for our puppies, cats, pandas… and EVERYBODY. Okay except lizards.

Life Blends just go a mayor upgrade. Life Blends 2.0 is here. Greener than ever. BOOM!

And that’s the real story.

Now I would love to hear YOUR crazy biz story. What decisions and core values help YOU sleep at night? Tell me in the blog comments.

 

 

 

Juices: @lifeblends 
Photography: @ptyology
Food Styling: @vivimartinez 
Package: @marlenefranco
Illustrations: @mayicarles

FOOD · LIFESTYLE

How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan (Plus! Free Printable)

Pre-PS: Enrollment for Life is Messy Bootcamp® is now officially OPEN. Click here to lean more!

Earlier this year, I took (what feels like) a 2 month vacation – Bogota + Basque Country + Paris + San Francisco + Sydney. It was epic.

And I did it right. I set auto-responders for the first time in my life. Fully disconnected from all my to-dos. Drank lots of wine. Had the most delicious feasts. Totally indulged. No regrets.

Coming back has been a little hard thou.

The week I returned I ended at the ER. Diagnosis: Vertigo. And that’s not all. Doctors had to run some blood tests. Results: My colesterol is 291 what the hell? And to top things off the scale is 10 pounds off (wink, wink).

Needless to say, I’ve had my wake up calls.

I had a totally different post planned for you this week, but in light of recent events + brought upon myself circumstances, I’m decided to share with you the ONE ritual that never fails me. This habit alone always helps boost my productivity + confidence + happiness + kickstart my road to feeling better about myself. 

The routine I’m talking about is: Sitting down to write a weekly meal plan.

By plan, I mean planned meals. Planned meals are weekly breakfasts + weekly lunches + weekly dinners that don’t feel rushed + that are put together with love + leave you feeling satisfied and happy. I’m talking about dinner parties with special friends + Mexican nights with the in-laws + Iron Chef Saturdays + romantic dates with my man serving homemade Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. I’m talking about meals worth sharing on Instagram.

When I don’t meal plan, things get tricky. One day spontaneity rewards you with your new favorite chili recipe. “Oh look! Adding mushrooms instead of ground beef tasted so good. WOW! But most times, you’re left with cupcakes that never rise in the oven + a grumpy stomach + having to play menu roulette once more + feeling like crap seconds later.

Planned meals mean never again wondering what’s for lunch. Never again wondering with the fridge door wide open. Never again rushing to the supermarket for last minute groceries without a grocery list. Been there? Done that? Me too.

Planned meals mean less rotten food in your fridge + less garbage inside your temple. Less excuses, more love in your belly.

When you have a system in place, you’re happy + you save money + you fit inside the clothes you wanna wear. Minus the tantrums. You feel centered + grounded + in harmony + empowered, most of the time.

I want to challenge myself, and I want to challenge YOU to steal my step-by-step Meal Planning ritual. Try it. Tweak it. Paint over the parts that don’t work for you.

Step 1: Pick the recipes

I start most Sunday mornings (emphasis on “most”) with (a) a Greek Yogurt Parfait with fresh strawberries + homemade granola + honey; (b) a stack of cookbooks; (c) a pad of Post-It Page Markers. I’ve pretty much ritualized flipping through cookbooks + flagging the recipes I want to sample next. Hubby thumbs up or thumbs down my picks while playing FIFA. Team work. Aha!

The goal is to pick recipes that match your diet + taste buds + lifestyle. What’s the point of adding “Cherry Rhubarb Country-Style Pie” to the mix if:

  1. You hate making pie crusts;
  2. You have a crazy launch week ahead;
  3. It’s not cherry season;
  4. Out-of-season cherries are freaking expensive
  5. You’re saving for a new DSL camera, remember?

Get real.

Don’t have any inspiring cookbooks in your collection? Crap excuse. There’s Amazon. Meet Google. Buy my cookbook. Visit YouTube. Cruise Pinterest. Hop on foodie blogs. They are your friends. Use these resources to find what you need. Type: “Healthy Salads” + “Clean Cupcakes” + “Green Smoothies.” My go-to Meatless Ragu recipe was born out of searching “Meatless Ragu.” Mind blowing.

In recap, pick one day of the week you’ll sit down + handpick the recipes you want to eat in the week ahead.

Step 2: Pick the menu

After selecting my recipes, I grab my Weekly Meal Planner. I print many ahead of time. First, I put an “X” on the meals that I know will be eaten out of the house for family birthdays, showers, or extraordinary occasions. Then, I match up recipes I’ve picked with openings on the planner.

I’ll even lock down my snacks, so instead of reaching for Dulce de Leche, I go for the carrot sticks with turmeric hummus. Know what I mean?
Sounds easy? Cuz it is!

Step 3: Scan the recipes

When filling my Weekly Meal Planner with my dishes, I scan the recipes + ingredient list + special appliances + directions. Then, I check my pantry/fridge stock. Do I have what I need? What do I need to get? I write it down on a grocery list.

This easy step helps me plan out what I need from the store or my local farmer’s market, so I can skip what’s already in my fridge or cupboard.

Sometimes, I’ll even make two grocery lists: One big one for the month + another one for mini-runs to get fresh produce.

Marrying my Weekly Meal Planner with my grocery list is not only ridiculously helpful for stocking up the kitchen, but also to group + organize meals smartly on the schedule, knowing that some things need to be eaten before others + some make sense to make ’em in batches. Think ahead. Visualize the flow.

Step 4: Go shopping

My dad goes to the supermarket every other day. His juice factory is right behind a local supermarket chain, so he’s found a rhythm that works for him.

Hubby + I do one big ass supermarket shopping spree a month to get napkins + toilet paper + dried beans, things like that. And we do mini weekly runs to buy fresh produce + fresh flowers, typically late Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

Look at your calendar. When’s convenient for you to habitualize grocery shopping?

Step 5: Meal prep

Around 4pm-ish, when my attention span crashes, instead of scrolling my social media feeds, you’ll find me in the kitchen whipping out treats or prepping sauces with my ninja chopping skills. Yeah, I bring my OCD wherever I go.

Maybe you need to soak nuts ahead of time. Maybe your crust needs to chill out in the freezer before pouring in the filler. Breads need yeast + time to rise. Pasta needs boiling water. Marina sauce tastes twice as good when it cooks on low heat for 3 hours. Can you Tupperware that + freeze it for next week?

When you’re a step ahead, you’re unstoppable.

Step 6: Bon appetit

When it’s time to eat, sit down for a mindful meal. Light candles. Turn off the TV. Cellphones go in the basket. Play a little Bossa Nova in the background. Use the fun cloth napkins. Fresh flowers make everything taste twice as good. I’m serious. I want you to fully experience the joy of eating. Look at your plate + smell it’s aromas. Party with it’s textures + let your palate run loose. Give thanks for all the good things that entered your life that day.

That is it my friend!

A Few Tips + Tricks

Allllllright alright. I know meal planning takes a little time, especially the finding your groove part, but ultimately it saves you time + stress during the week. You also may find that a meal plan helps you to eat better + cut down junk food from your diet. Pow!

Here are a few suggestions to take your system to a whole new level of awesome:

  • Double check. Make sure you examine your fridge + pantry before heading to the store with your grocery list. You can easily blow way your budget buying a third jar of cinnamon. I bet you’ve got a lot of goodies in there. So check.
  • Stock up on the essentials during sales. Only two phrases can change a woman’s mood: (1) I love you; (2) 50% OFF. If you arrive at the supermarket + there’s a big sale on organic berries, snag those babies! They may not have been on your initial meal plan, but, hey, you can freeze them + throw them into your smoothies or make soft serve ice cream. The same goes for dry staples, like grains + beans that aren’t going to go bad in your pantry. When on sale… improvise + think on your feet.
  • But in bulk. While cruising the supermarket, head straight to the bulk bins + stock up, especially items that don’t perish too quickly! As your bulk food staples grow, you’ll have shorter shopping lists + an arsenal of inspiration for your home-cooked meals. Added bonus: Display your beautiful beans + grains + spices in mason jars throughout your kitchen.
  • Cut back on restaurants. Holy guacamole, do those restaurant bills pile up! Make your dinner table the new hot spot. Mouth watering backyard BBQs + romantic pizza nights + potlucks with girlfriends + family get-togethers over finger food can revolutionize your culinary senses. No need for Zagat stars. I’m not saying that you should never step foot in a restaurant again; just try to limit your visits. They suddenly become more special + more of a fun affair when they do happen.
  • Eat with the seasons + shop local. Farmers markets are a great place to buy organic foods on the cheap. In-season produce is almost always going to cost less, so try to be flexible + cook with the harvest.
  • Grow your own garden. This year David + I started a mini herb garden (I’m so excited!). It’s exponentially more economical to grow your own food. Whether you live in a studio or a mansion, there’s always room for a few pots of greens. A two-dollar packet of basil seeds will support your salad + pesto-making habits for months.
  • Get creative with the leftovers. Place your fresh herbs in water pots. Wash + store your produce in Debbie Meyer Green Bags to extend their life expectancy. When your produce looks like it’s about to go south, resuscitate it in a delicious stew or casserole. Have you ever tried leftover lasagna? Is even better than on the day you made the lasagna. I’m serious. With a little TV Food Network action, leftovers can be transformed into Pinterest worthy meals.
  • Batch. Batch cooking is another way to save time + money. Double or triple your favorite recipe + freeze the leftovers for a quick + healthy meal when you’re in a pinch. We do this all the time with my signature marinara sauce. We make it in advance + transfer it to airtight container + freeze + thaw for pizza parties or whatnot.
  • Play detective. If you’re like me, you definitely have budget leaks (aka knee-jerk spending at Amazon + Pottery Barn + Etsy + Anthropologie). Look at your bank statements. Identify where you need a little bit more self control. I noticed I was going a little overboard with nut butters, so I started making my own at home. Problem solved!
  • Pay attention. When my food expenses start creeping up, it’s usually because I’m being a bit of a slacker, not a culinary diva. Check for symptoms. Is your apron accumulating dust? Are the takeout menus getting more action than your ukulele? Do you have Dominos on speed dial? The signs are right in front of you, if you’re brave enough to open your eyes.
  • Start your personal/family recipe vault. After a while, you will start to notice patterns – recipes you naturally gravitate towards + others that you don’t fancy that much. Take note. Archive your favorites in cute recipe cards. This trick alone will make your menu picking ceremony significantly more efficient + guarantee you always have safety, comfort dishes on da menu.

DO THIS NOW: Download + take your Weekly Meal Planner for a spin, every week.

My request is simple: Just follow the steps + share your insights in the comments below – What are you putting on your Weekly Meal Planner? 

You know what would be even cooler? To see pictures of your meal planning in action. Snap + share ’em on social media. I want to see how it’s going. How you’re feeling. How you’re making it happen. Imagine how much fun it would be to see everybody’s interpretation + system? So inspiring!

And as for me, I hope to (at the very least) get my colesterol down. Bonus if I can fit into my clothes again.I can’t wear these sweat pants forevz.

 

 

 

PS: Would you like to be a part of a planning club for girl bosses who are all getting together to get our sh*t together? Click here to learn more!

PERSONAL

I will miss it. A lot.

Today, our alarm clock didn’t go off. Olivia wakes us up at 6:19am. Her bus picks her up at 6:30am. I panicked as she said, “Ya es de día mama… quelo ir a la escuela.” (English Translation: It’s daylight mom… and I wanna go to school).

I seriously considered telling her it was Sunday, but in a split second of rush/adrenaline/guilt/mom-power, I said, “We’re gonna make it”. Skipped the usual bubble bath. No Moana tunes. Brushed her teeth very quickly. I forget if I combed her hair. I know for sure there was no time to accessorize her uniform with the usual wood pearls n’ such. Grabbed her lunchbox, but forgot to pack a spoon for her yogurt. Called the elevator. When we got to the lobby, the bus was coming into the drive way. “Look, we did it!” 

It’s official, I blinked and she’s a threenager waving me goodbye. And as I take it all in, I wanted to write this post to remind myself to ENJOY IT. All of it. To let her climb into bed with us at night. To hold her a little tighter when all she wants is to shower with me. To sing that song she requested for the 12th time. To read that book, again and again. To embrace the exhaustion, the overwhelm, the hard days, cause I know one day, not that far away from here, I will miss it. A lot.

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