Oreo Banana Smoothe + A Message on Staying Positive

Oreo Banana Smoothie + A Message on Staying Positive 

Hi and Welcome Back to Ria Lives Well!

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This December, I graduated from Oregon State University with a major in Digital Communications. Before graduation, I did tons of research in order to assimilate the rocket before take-off. Essentially, I prepared myself before heading into a competitive job market.

  1. I made connections with media students within my field to gain knowledge on software and media equipment I lacked
  2. I talked to advisors to list the first steps I should before graduation
  3. I made several appointments in Career Services to tailor my resume and find my strengths, while discovering ways to improve my weaknesses
  4. I participated in mock interviews and received positive feedback.

I planned and I prepared so that when I entered the job market, I would come out on top. Or at least somewhere in the middle.

Let’s just say, when I graduated from OSU, I didn’t expect to be unemployed for nearly two months.
Yet here I am. I have my resume, I have all this knowledge about social media and digital marketing, and I have my degree…but no job.

Don’t cue the violin.

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That’s not the message behind my monologue.
My message is all about being positive. I’m staying positive each step of the way, and because of that, I can endure.

I am in a position where I accept my position.

But don’t get me wrong: I’m not embracing my situation, because it’s hardly ideal. I’m unemployed and my area is highly specific.

But I won’t let these downfalls overwhelm me, or consume me, or define me. I would rather let my positive attitude be in charge.

Being positive is a tactic that has worked for me, which is why I advise anyone who is in a bad situation to take a moment, close your eyes and breathe. Now open your eyes, look at the glass, and try to see it as half full.

Start off by acknowledging whatever is going well for you.

Does your car work? Great.

Do you have food and electricity? Awesome.

Are you a hard worker? Pat yourself on the back.

Appreciate these things for their mere existence. Don’t take them for granted. Believe me, they make life better.

And don’t forget to embrace the things that make you happy. I know from experience how easy it is to forget the subtleties of joy when you have school, and work, and a bounty of obligations. But that which brings you joy, however simple, is the marrow of life.

Happiness is what we should live for.

Not the stress of work, school, unemployment, or any other burden. So embrace what brings you joy.

And then plan!!!

Plan, plan, plan for a brighter tomorrow. And work your ass off to make that tomorrow a reality. Because let’s face it: if you stare at a glass long enough, half full will begin to look half empty.

By the way: it’s Tuesday. Did you treat yo self? #treatyoselftuesday 

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If you didn’t, I have you covered with this “naughty” smoothie that’s sweetened with Oreos. If you prefer a natural sweetener, swap the Oreos for dates.

Oreo Banana Smoothie

  • 3 frozen bananas (sliced)
  • 5 Oreo cookies (frozen)
  • 2 1/2 cups coconut water
  • Splash of almond extract
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves

Directions

Pour coconut water into blender. Add frozen bananas and Oreo cookies. Blend until smooth. Add a splash of almond extract, and a pinch of cloves and nutmeg. Blend for an 30 extra seconds.

This recipe should last one chica 2-3 servings.

And remember, being positive is a power that no one can take from you.

~Live Well!

Easy Datorade Recipe + The Elephant in the Room

Easy Datorade Recipe

Hi and Welcome Back to Ria Lives Well!

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Datorade (dateorade) with Coconut Water

 Well. This is embarrassing.

It has been almost one year since my last update. Eleven months, to be exact. More than anything, I’m welcoming myself back to Ria Lives Well.

Where do I begin?

I’ll start by explaining my absence. With a list.

1. The blog had become a project of which I had little passion for.
2. The blog wasn’t going in the direction I had anticipated; more importantly, prior to starting the blog, I didn’t map out a direction I wanted it to go!
3. My photography discouraged me. A lot.
4. I was too lazy and too busy to prepare healthy recipes.
5. I wasn’t living well.

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Whole (pitted) California Dates. Mmmm.

So after nearly one year, why come back?

Last week, as I was searching for the recipe to my favorite blueberry smoothie, I saw that people had left a ton of comments on various recipes. Two reader favorites were the Everyday Vegan Bread recipe and the Vegan White Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes & Fresh Basil. The white sauce on this vegan pizza stole the show, like Neil Patrick Harris with How I Met Your Mother.

A few readers saw unique ways to tweak the coconut sauce, even turning it into a vegan Alfredo sauce! So clever, so yummy!

All of this made me remember why I began the blog in the first place: to inspire others to live a healthy, more considerate lifestyle. Even the cruelty-free beauty products I reviewed were receiving reader attention!

I guess it took me eleven months to realize that I don’t want to give up on a life well lived. And I don’t want to give up on documenting it, either. Instead, I want to redesign Ria Lives Well into a side project I can be proud of. Which may take a lot of time, some money and great effort. But…it may be worthwhile in the end.

To start things off slow, I decided to make a drink I’ve been meaning to try: datorade.

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Chipped Nail Polish…Sexyyyy.

Recipe:

  1. 4-8 dates (pitted)

  2. 17 oz coconut water

Instructions:

Pour chilled coconut water into a blender. Add 4-8 frozen dates. Blend until smooth.

This easy  datorade was sweet, frothy, rich and filling. The first time I tried this recipe, I used eight dates. It turned out very sweet, a little too sweet. The second time I added six dates. The sweet levels dropped, and I found it more to my liking.

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Dates in Yo Face and You Like it…Well, Your Body Does!

And if you don’t have coconut water, don’t worry. I have seen many datorade recipes that call for just dates and regular water.

Judging from the name, I assume this drink should replace your Power Aid, Vitamin Water, and your Muscle Milk: whatever store-bought enhancers you take to the gym with you. Trust me, a jug of homemade datorade will hit the spot.

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe. And please share your thoughts with me! I love reading comments (that aren’t SPAM!) and hearing all the ways you tweak these recipes. It encourages me, and so many times I’ve had lovely meals using my readers’ tweaked version!

If you do comment, please share a picture so I can post some of your creative recipes on my Instagram and give a special Thank You shout-out!

So before I sign off, I want to say that I will come back…sooner than eleven months…and with more vegan recipes!

BTW: I’m so glad I didn’t post this at the start of January. How cliche would that have been?

~Live Well!

DIY: 2 Ingredient Scalp Exfoliator

DIY: 2 Ingredient Brown Sugar Scalp Exfoliator

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well! 

This is the kind of hair treatment that’s so easy to make, there’s no sense doing an article about it.

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Yet here I am, writing an RLW post on this two ingredient scalp exfoliator. My reasoning is simple: not many people know about scalp exfoliation. But an exfoliating treatment for your scalp is just as important as the one for your face. So why is the scalp an area we often neglect? It is skin, and therefor should be treated like such. Not to mention, when this skin is unhappy, your crown and glory {a.k.a. your hair} is unhappy. So let’s give our scalp the attention it deserves. And don’t laugh at the ingredient list.

DIY: 2 Ingredient Brown Sugar Scalp Exfoliator

  • 2 teaspoons organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon natural conditioner

Directions

  1. Mix the ingredients until smooth
  2. Apply the exfoliator to your scalp
  3. Using the pads of your fingers, massage it all over your scalp, avoiding the hair {5 mins}
  4. Rinse

Not shampooing…not conditioning – it’s scrubbing: a new way to treat your hair!

2 teaspoons of brown sugar 

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Now 1 teaspoon of vegan conditioner

 

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Combine the two ingredients and mix away

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The end result should look something like this

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And that’s it!

You can use this recipe as a base and strengthen it with essential oils. If you’re adding oils, focus on oils that nurture the scalp like lavender, cedar wood and rosemary essential oils.

You can use this exfoliator whenever you feel like your scalp needs a deep clean. Is it dry, itching or flaky? Give it a dose of brown sugar! I was inspired to make this hair recipe when my scalp began flaking, and today the problem is unnoticeable. You should follow it up with a natural remedy for dry, irritated scalp. This hair recipe is also good for removing product build-up, which inevitably inhibits growth.

An exfoliator is one of your best friends in growing out long, healthy hair and should be a staple in your hair care regimen {if I had a dollar every time I wrote that sentence…}. Follow up this treatment with a homemade scalp mask and scalp toner.

~Live Well!

Tasty Spinach French Bread Pizza–Vegan

Tasty Spinach French Bread Pizza–Vegan

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

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So…it looks like I’m updating my blog once a month. Sheesh. Hopefully now that I’m back in Oregon {after a ridiculous 19 hour drive without stops from Colorado} I can get back into the swing of things. It’s amazing how a set routine can bring consistency to every aspect of your life…and how, when that routine isn’t set, can disrupt every aspect of your life. In the past six months, I bounced from Colorado, to Chile, again to Colorado, then to Florida, back to Colorado and now Oregon. I’m not, like, complaining or anything. But, like, that’s ridic, yo.

After I unpacked and got to know my new roommate {and her adorable black lab}, I christened the new house by preparing my first meal: creamy spinach french bread pizza. It was supposed to be quick and affordable-no such luck. Yeah, it was affordable. But after all the tweaking I did to the original recipe, this french bread pizza wasn’t at all quick to prepare. For those on a time crunch, I have good news: if you follow the recipe below and prepare the white sauce and spinach topping ahead of time, you can brag all about that “insanely delicious” french bread pizza that took minutes to prepare.

Plenty of fiber and vitamin B here!

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In this meal, I avoided expensive vegan cheeses and made a vegan roux from almond milk. I then drizzled on a coconut cream sauce for that extra creamy umph that makes you think: “Cheese! From a cow! Or a…goat! Or some, you know, animal!”

Creamy Spinach French Bread Pizza

Inspired by: Budget Bytes

  • 2 loaves of sandwich bread {sliced lengthwise}
  • 6 mushrooms {any kind}
  • 1/2 a pound frozen spinach
  • merken (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1/4 red onion (chopped)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • ground garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • almond milk {1/2-3/4 cup}
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut milk {the creamy top}

Directions

Mince your garlic and chop your onion. Prepare your vegan roux: add two tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet set on medium-high. Add 1.5 tablespoons of flour (any type) and stir. Add 1/2 cup of almond milk or more until you create a thick, yet smooth consistency (shown in vegan roux photo below). Add1 whopping tablespoon of coconut milk and stir until smooth. Add 2 pinches garlic powder (optional), two pinches of merken. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

 Simple Vegan Roux

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Thaw your spinach. In another pan set to medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onions until softened and add the thawed spinach. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook spinach for 5-8 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Slice your sandwich bread lengthwise and toast bread until crispy-2-5 minutes. Spread on your roux, leaving about 1 big tablespoon in the skillet. Pile on your spinach topping. Add .5 tablespoons of coconut milk to your roux and add enough almond milk to create a thin consistency. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle your coconut sauce over the spinach topping. Enjoy with cold cider!

 

It would be nice if just once in my life I wasn’t on a budget, but until the day comes when I’m not crunching pennies and stretching dollars, I appreciate affordable meals like this spinach and french bread pizza that keeps flavor on my palette.

~Live Well!

Steamed (Seasonal) Vegetables w/ White Bean Sauce

Steamed–Seasonal–Vegetables w/ White Bean Sauce 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

The Chilean Flag,Valparaiso, Chile

I’m going to pretend that I have updated this blog in the last three months. Can you pretend, too?

At the start of September, I went away on a study abroad program in the skinny South American country, Chile. Well, the experience was a struggle. At times, it reminded me of a Rubix cube: I aligned all the colors on one face and thought, “Watson, I’ve cracked the enigma!”–only to turn the cube and find a jumble of mismatched colors on every–other–face.

Although it was a struggle, I came back with the desire to return to Chile-particularly to hike Torres Del Paine, Patagonia-a commitment to learn Spanish; a hope to live in Spain for a year; a B- in my Spanish class and lots of tasty Chilean recipes.

A Side Note About Travel

If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that travel is one of life’s few luxuries. Learning about another country through immersion; the excitement of meeting new people who are equally as excited to meet you; discovering a new culture and re-discovering yourself as the culture changes you- it’s not easy to put into words. You have to go out and see it for yourself.

For 3 Months, I Immersed Myself in Wonderful Attractions

For 3 Months, I Immersed Myself in Wonderful Attractions

If money is an issue, then pick a destination, plan your activities, and start saving today. For cheaper flights, check out STA Travel and if you want to work in your desired country in place of paying rent, then head over to WWOOF.

If time is an issue, remember this: you only live once. 

Chilean “Cuisine” 

Now about those Chilean recipes…I have to share my favorites, while explaining how Chileans “do” food. But not just yet. I’ll be honest with you: after spending three months indulging on fried and caloric Chilean grub, I returned to the states in desperate need of a cleanse. I wanted my first recipe back on RLW to be a Chilean dish-in a way, offering a taste of what I experienced. But my cleanse isn’t nearly over.

And so vegetables galore. Yumm!

steamed vegetables

I picked my favorites: broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. (If I thought about it, I would have thrown in some color. Purple carrots or red beets would boost the physical and nutritional appeal). Then I went to work strengthening their flavor. Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive oil {the best!} with fresh herbs  produced exactly what I was looking for. But I didn’t want to give my steamed vegetables too much kick. The real jolt of flavor comes from the white bean sauce.

I don’t typically use white beans {don’t ask me why}, so I didn’t realize they had such a neutral flavor. Much like tofu, white beans absorb flavors very well. So if you prepare a simple meal–like steamed vegetables–a white bean sauce will make a surprisingly flavorful addition.

white bean sauce

Steamed Vegetables  

  • 12 oz steamed vegetables {your choice; seasonal produces the best flavor, of course}
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Rub olive oil into your vegetables. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. In a microwaveable bowl, add your thoroughly vegetables with two tablespoons of water. Heat for 2-3 minutes until steamed {or tender}.

White Bean Sauce

  • 1 can white beans (15 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 of one large white onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Sautee fresh garlic and onions, then set aside. In a blender, add your can of beans and 1/4 cup of water or vegetable broth. Pour in olive oil, blend until smooth. Add your sauteed onions and garlic, blend until smooth. Now add spices, seeds and salt and pepper to taste.

A dish like this can cost a lot. So I headed over to the seasonality chart for a list of in-season produce. Thankfully, February is a good month for produce. Perfect for a large plate of steamed vegetables! 

P.S. if you want to spice up the steamed vegetables, then a little granulated garlic powder and all-purpose seasoning should do the trick without jeopardizing their natural flavor.

~Live Well!

Interview with Stacie Cherubini of Halo Soap

Interview with Stacie of Halo Soap

Are your Lips on Crack? 

Halo Soap’s Crack Sticks…Chap-sticks with ATTITUDE.

Few people get into their line of work because of a hit movie. Even fewer have the gumption not only to stick with it, but to turn it into a successful establishment with two retail shops and a possible third on the way. For Stacie Cherubini of Halo Soap, such a tale exists.

“I started making soap because of the movie Fight Club,” Cherubini said. “Brad Pitt makes soap in the movie and back in the day, I had a male friend who was awkwardly obsessed with Brad Pitt. He decided that since Brad made soap in the movie, we had to try making soap. That lasted about a week for him, but I kept going with it!”

With her new found passion and quality soaps, Cherubini started her company. She settled on the name, Halo Soap due to her last name: Cherubini, which means “little angel” in Italian. Don’t let this angelic name deceive you. Cherubini’s shop promotes natural (mostly vegan) products with an edge. Absinthe chap-sticks, Mojito soaps, and my personal favorite-the Crack Stick-gives this shop a funky personality.

Mojito Essential Oil Soap

Many beauty products, such as this Mojito Soap, come with an eccentric style. While others, such as her Rose Water Bath Bomb Fizzy, come with a frilly style likened to the products at Lush. But one thing remains the same among Halo Soap products: she keeps her ingredients natural.

Rose Water Bath Bomb Fizzy

I recently purchased two Crack Sticks, Cherubini’s popular line of vegan chap sticks. Needless to say, I was amazed with the results. With one smooth swipe, I had become a fan of Cherubini’s product, and a returning customer. My favorite in the line, the Vanilla Crack Stick, is made with 2% Menthol Crystals. This creates a tingling sensation that keeps me coming back for more. And suddenly the name rang true.

“The reason we called it crack stick wasn’t to associate it with “‘cracked lips'”, Cherubini said. “We call it Crack Stick because it’s like crack cocaine for your lips!”

She admits that at times, she does tell people that the name is associated with cracked, chapped lips. But that’s only if they seem to be amused with the real reason. Since RLW comes with a sense of humor, I can’t help but chuckle at the story behind Cherubini’s real reason as well as her “cover up” story. 

After my first application of her vegan chap sticks, I was wasn’t surprised to find that Cherubini’s Crack Sticks were compared to one popular retailer: Burt’s Bees. 

“I actually never realized the crack sticks were similar to Burt’s Bees until a customer pointed it out to me,” Cherubini said. “I had never used Burt’s Bees lip balm! The main difference would be that mine is vegan.”

At Halo Soap, vegan beauty lovers will find the Holy Trinity: 1) quality vegan products, 2) wonderful prices, and 3) a shop owner with heart and spunk.

Currently, Cherubini has two retail shops opened in the greater Milwaukee area of Wisconsin and is in talks of opening a third shop in a different state, along with her friend.

“Things are definitely moving in the right direction!” Cherubini said.

~Live Well!

September’s Crush: 4 Faves of September

September’s Crush: 3 Faves of September 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well! 

Am I the only one who feels like September went by in a blur? A crazy, confusing, Spanish-infused blur–for me at least.

In case you guys didn’t know…I’m currently living in Chillan, Chile and poorly documenting my experiences on my Chile blog.

October fourth marked one month that I’ve been here. As I cope with being in South America, often silenced by my inability to speak or understand the language, I look back on a few things that made my life more comfortable my first month in this crazy intimidating country.

Organic Aromatherapy Inhalers 

Cosmo Verde Aroma Therapy Inhalers

In order to release my current stress, pre-stress and backup stress, I sniff my Lavender Cosmo Verde Aromatherapy Inhaler for peace of mind; and here in Chile, I always find myself in a situation where I have to say: “You’re overreacting. Don’t take life so seriously. It shouldn’t be this stressful.” For example, last week I got lost one block away from my house–of course I didn’t realize I was a block from my house, but even if I were in another city, I shouldn’t have let my stress and fear cripple me that much.

“I’m lost. No one knows where I am. I don’t know where I am. I can’t find my way home. I won’t ever find my way home.” My mind whirled with these thoughts once every twenty seconds.

I would stop, ask someone for directions, and naturally the person would reply in Spanish. Rapid, Chilean Spanish. Even if I weren’t panicking, I wouldn’t have understood them. But in a brief moment of clarity, I took out my inhaler and had a whiff. My whirling thoughts simmered, my mind shifted into ease and I thought of a solution to my problem. I pulled out my phone and called one of the U.S. students who lived closest to me and asked him for directions to my house…embarrassing, sure: but problem solved.

Being in Chile has been a challenge I can’t put into words. Sometimes I don’t feel like myself, and there are countless moments where I search for my self confidence only to find a fragile, timid emotion in it’s place. It’s nothing fancy, but my Cosmo Verde aromatherapy inhaler provides relief when I need a wash of calm. It works, people. It really works.

Calicutts Curry Powder

I can’t believe I was thinking about leaving this in the states.

CaliCutts Curry Powder

CaliCutts Curry Powder. Does something taste so good that you feel euphoric when you eat it? 

I put this curry powder on everything. Well, everything come lunch and dinner time. When I’m sitting awkwardly at the dinner table, staring at my host family as they converse in Spanish, my discomfort goes by the wayside when I sprinkle a little curry powder on buttered hallullas {some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted}, a few slices of avocado and a little aji sauce.

I also sprinkle it on my rice, soups, salads, sandwiches, fried potatoes and soy meat. My host mom, who speaks no English, can now say Calicutts curry powder.

This right here is a perfect example of enjoying the little things in life.

Organic Cleansing Grains + Facial Astringent 

It’s crazy what lots of Chilean alcohol combined with a diet of fried foods and pastries {I’m going ham with the worst foods in Chile} can do to your skin. I keep telling myself: “I have to change my diet. And starting next week I will change my diet.”

Then I’d walk past a small shop selling pastries or a kiosk selling sopaipilla sandwiches: I’d stop, pull out a few pesos…and I’d go ham. The worst part is, the majority of the foods I indulge in look good but are paltry when compared to home-cooked goodies. Microwaved sopaipillas? Please.

I’ve lost my train of thought.

My skin isn’t enjoying my Chilean lifestyle. The first week and a half that I arrived, I spent most of my time with the other gringos {U.S. students who attend the same school as me here and in Oregon}, attending parties, meeting Chileans and trying to “keep up”. I have yet to figure out why “keeping up” entailed partying for ten nights straight, but that happened.

When I finally settled down, I unpacked my luggage–yep, ten days later–and realized that I had brought with me my Herbolution chamomile facial scrub and Brown Sugar Body Shop facial astringent.

I did a happy dance.

And that night, I scrubbed my face with Herbolution’s cleanser and followed up with Brown Sugar Shop’s toner, and it was like my skin improved over night! So if you have a natural skin care routine, stick with it. I use these two products every night in my nightly skin care routine, and not only does it improve my skin, but my spirits. It feels nice going to bed smelling good and feeling refreshed. 

So these are my four fave products of September.

A quick ode to September: You were a tough month to get through and I’m glad we’ve finally parted paths. I don’t miss you. But hey, what doesn’t kill you supposedly makes you stronger.

~Live Well!