Gluten-Free, Vegan Chocolate Pancakes Recipe

I am always on the lookout for creative “healthy” recipes. The truth is I find most “healthy” meals to taste awful. Cauliflower for dinner? No thank you.

However I do try to make a conscious effort to eat healthy and more importantly have healthy options for my two daughters Zoe and Mackenzie. I’d like to think I found the perfect balance between “most of what we eat is natural  (if that’s even possible now a days and shouldn’t all food be natural?) and “you only live once” have the ice cream and pizza because why not?

When I found this recipe for gluten-free, vegan chocolate pancakes from Organic Authority I was over the moon! No sugar and chocolate in one recipe!!

The girls and I gave it a shot last Sunday. What intrigued me the most about the recipe was using coconut flour and coconut sugar. I’ve never worked with either before and I am SO excited for the chance to replace wheat flour and sugar with a better recipients. I will warn that the price for both is on the higher end ($5ish per package) however I really do believe if you’re going to spend money on anything, nutritious food should be it.

Serves 4

  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder)
  • 2-3 pinches sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup carob chips (optional–note most carob chips contain refined sugar)
In a large mixing bowl, add the coconut flour, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, sea salt, and baking powder. Mix until evenly combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together the chia seed mixture, applesauce, milk, and vanilla extract.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture slowly, whisking as you go. Once well combined, stir in the carob chips. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.
Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Head a pan to medium/low heat. Once heated, lightly grease the pan with coconut oil or vegetable oil. Scoop about ¼ cup of the mixture at a time onto the pan to make one pancake. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes before flipping. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Repeat for all pancakes.

My beautiful baking assistant, my daughter Mackenzie

                       Sorry no end results pictures, we were too busy eating the delicious results!

Look of the Day: White Tutu Style Shoot

My favorite fabric in the world ever, ever, ever is tulle. I love everything about it, as a fabric is delicate, beautiful, ethereal and glamorous. It reminds me of weddings, fairy tales and just beauty in general.

Surprise, surprise my wedding dress was 99% tulle except for pearls and buttons. I will not say I felt like a princes because I felt too glamorous to be labeled a princess. 

When I think of tulle I think of that infamous Marilyn Monroe picture in which she has that ballerina outfit on and just looks legendary or I think of Carrie Bradshaw’s infamous tutu in the opening scene of Sex and the City.

I’ve been wishing to purchase a similar tutu for a very long time so when I saw it last year, I asked myself what am I waiting for to buy it? When is it really ever going to be the norm to wear a tutu around town? Let alone around Vermont? Never. Therefore might as well do it now.
I am ever so grateful I did. It is without doubt my favorite piece of clothing I own. I feel absolutely beautiful and free wearing it.

I premiered it at my bridal shower last year and have worn it to several occasions since. Properly matched with an understated top, it makes for an absolutely beautiful outfit. See for yourself!

Wedding Dress Designer: Stella York

Stella York wedding dresses are one of my absolute favorite wedding dresses as a wedding planner. It is difficult to find an unattractive wedding dress, personally I think most dresses are beautiful, however there is vast difference between beautiful and breath taking.

I do feel strong that Stella York designs fall under the “breath taking” category. The designs are delicate, incredibly detailed and classic. They blend both very traditional effects with modern alluring silhouettes that bring out every bride’s beauty.

They are not overly powerful designs but have consistency behind their styles time after time.
In fact, I almost wore a Stella York to my wedding last year and while I loved my dress, from time to time I look back on the design and wonder.

If you prefer simple, elegant  and romantic designs that are versatile enough for either an outside or inside wedding I recommend trying on Stella York designs.

Check out my wedding business Pinterest page and my wedding planning business page for more ideas: Harlow & Dahlia Events!

Running Wild

The older I get the more I love sports. I wasn’t very sporty growing up having battled extreme asthma as a child, managing to breathe was challenge enough , I didn’t need to add sports to the mix. However, I outgrew my asthma and eventually realized I actually love some sports. I love volleyball, soccer, figure skating, freesbe but I especially love running. 
Why do I love to run? There’s a lot of physical benefits to the sport, of course, but who cares about those. It’s the benefits outside health which are the fun ones.
In general I live life at the beat of my own drum. I’ve always been independent and enjoy going at my pace. In running, you do your own thing, you run at your own pace, you stop when you feel like it, you can run fast, slow, not run, swirl around. There is no team alignment which is fabulous to me. I don’t have to wait for someone to make a move, I don’t have to react, I just go. I’ll run in group practices here and there but nothing beats the freedom of running on your own.

Running is a very freeing sport. When I run I feel like I’m running towards the other end of the world. It’s always an adventure, who will I bump into? How far will I run? How far into town can I go? Should I run by the lake? I never set a path to my running, I set an idea of where I’ll go and just run. I don’t let apps map any runs, I let my feet figure that out for me. There is something utterly freeing about running, it’s like going back to caveman time to the “fear or flight” attitude. Plus, in some twisted way it’s almost like traveling without the expense and the planes. If you can’t manage to go across the world or even to the closest metropolitan city, then running is about as good of a cheap substitute as you will find.
Zero Coordination Required
This might be my favorite reason! I am the least coordinated woman alive. If someone says right, I’ll look life. With running, I am under zero pressure to carefully figure out where my next move ought to be. I just move and go from there. No judgement, no expectations, win win!
When I run I can listen to all my favorite music from Biggie to some obscure indie rock band, running synchronizes perfectly to so many songs, it’s like long lasting dancing party. 
You Set Your Distance
I am known to always say “I would never run a marathon, never”. I have many marathon running friends and I admire their determination and strength endlessly. I know if I really, really, really, REALLY tried and trained I could do it, however, I see no joy in running 26+ miles. None.
Blame my ADD personality? But after 3.5 miles, I’m golden. That is a perfect amount of time to run. After that, my interest is long gone, I’m ready to go home, shower and eat! Unless there are super fun obstacles, more than 3.5 miles will never happen for me!
Some Runs are Just Wild
This past weekend I competed in the most fun race I’ve yet done! A mud race in Killington, Vermont.
The race included obstacles such as climbing up ropes, sliding down crazy distances to fall into a pit of mud and oh right–the never ending hiking UP a mountain. Yes, UP..a..mountain. I lost the friend I signed up to run with but made an amazing new friend from MASS who happened to share my fear of height + speed. I love heights, I love speed, I don’t love them together. As we were both mutually screaming sliding down a gigantic tub of mud, she screamed “hold my hand now” which I will never forget. It was an amazing moment, a complete stranger and I clicked just like that having known each other all of 5 seconds. Just like that I made a new friend!
Some pictures of my “Dirty Girl” 5K Mud Run. I can’t wait to run it again next year!!
It was a blast. What is your favorite type of run?!

Sliding down the mud comes with consequences:

Look of the day: Bright Hues

I get asked frequently how I have so much energy to do everything I do. In reality I do a LOT. 
A mom to two girls, business owner, full time Marketing Manager, wife, human..etc. Yet there are mornings where I am totally burned out and feel like I haven’t achieved much. I want to stay up late until midnight getting things done but I am lucky if I make it passed 9:30 pm. In the morning, I strive to wake up early but sometimes my body says no, really, just take this time to catch up and rest.
For the mornings where I don’t feel that accomplished, behind and rushed, I think it’s important to dress up and feel really good about what I’m wearing. 
The bright hues cheer me up and really set the tone for the day. Pair this with a good cup of coffee and I’m good to go. Everyone needs their own comfort that will get them by and through the challenges of their daily routine, for some  that comfort comes in reading the newspaper in the mornings, for others is meditation by sunrise, for me is dressing me up before I walk out the door.
I may not feel accomplished, but that feeling fades away soon after I closed my front door behind me.
Blouse: Express
Pants: Express
Bag: Handmade!
Shoes: Target

Look of the Day: A Little Red Top

 As a mother of two and still very early on in my career, I have to be smart about where my money goes. I’m not the greatest with my money, I’ll admit it. I’m just not. That said, I am skilled beyond skilled at saving and finding an amazing bargain anywhere.

Growing up I always had expensive fashion taste however my family could not afford all the brands I so much wanted. Having to accept this, it forced me to become smart about bargain shopping, thrift shopping and finding fashion treasures in very unlikely places. I pride myself on being able to make outfits look elegant and expensive with very little factual cost behind them. From time to time I’ll splurge on an expensive piece that can be complimented a million ways with other pieces of clothing or jewelry. It’s key to have a go to item like this one!
Given all the other priorities in our budget, I have a very small budget for fashion but believe me I stretch it far. Very far. I will never sacrifice my style, it is my signature, my art and one of my unique ways to express myself.

So with that in mind, here is an outfit that costed me maybe around $30. This is one of my favorite tops and I get compliments on it very frequently. It’s a soft silk type material and feels wonderful and light on.
Skirt: JC Penney 
Top: Kohls
Shoes: A random NYC boutique, I’ve had them for over 6 years!
Jewelry: Zinnia’s (local jewelry store in Vermont)

Look of the Day: Business

Business wear is not my favorite fashion style by any means however it can be very fun to pull together and when I love what I wear I feel confident, ready to take on the world.
The workforce male nomination has shifted over the last few decades but so much groundwork still needs to be covered, for some their confidence may be derived from many other sources and so is mine. Yet fashion plays an intricate role in how I present myself, how I feel and the confidence I portray.

This is today’s fashion look: A flower pattern skirt, light spaghetti strap, black blazer and high heels.

I love to mix and match fabrics and this outfit was not very expensive to pull together. All these pieces can easily be found at any store.

Feeling confident today?

Gluten Free Challenge

Over the last few years I’ve become more and more aware about nutrition, food systems and my overall health. While I’ve always had a leaning towards the natural, being in my early to mid 20’s and dating my husband who back then worked at a bar did not make for healthy, nutritious meals every day of the week.
If gravy and cheese lathered fries at 3:00 am count as healthy..then I was somewhat healthy.
Through different life experiences I’ve found out more about the challenges in today’s food systems, I now walk through grocery isles and I am shocked at the amount of unnecessary, man produced items littering the shelves. More importantly, I’ve realized our body actually only needs major key nutrients to thrive on which can be obtained from the most basic of food staples: fruits, vegetables, meats.
I will go down the list of all the changes I have made and will continue to make to my diet in my future blog posts and hope to inspire others to make healthy decisions about their nutrition.
Of all the bad eating habits culprit in my eyes (by far my largest challenge) is gluten. 
Gluten is included in a large chunk of foods in society, from breads to cookies, it is in every food item you can imagine. Not a native food staple to our ancestors, gluten which derives from wheat did not make an appearance into (wo)man’s diet until several thousand years ago.
That is right, somehow generations of humans managed to survive not eating gluten yet it is now ingrained in most of our day to day foods . Are you shocked?
While I will not go into a lengthy scientific explanation, it is my personal belief that gluten can be linked to many forms of inflammation in the body. Inflammation usually expels out trouble for your body in the shape of illness but also in the vain of gaining unnecessary weight and being bloated.
While I am naturally a “skinny” person, when I’ve managed my gluten intake I’ve noticed my body becomes more toned up, I feel healthier, more aware, energetic,etc.
I’ve tried to give up gluten in the past and have lasted a shocking 3 days. Yep, that’s how far I made it before I broke down and had to reach for the bread and cheese. That’s not good. If you can’t give something up for more than 7 days, there’s a problem there. 
After this weekend’s 4th of July holiday, I indulge in about every gluten packed food available and it was fantastic! However, all things in moderation. I’d like to take this week to “cleanse” my body and go gluten free at least until this upcoming Sunday (sorry baseball game, can’t eat healthy then).
It is my hope that I can train my body to slowly but surely give up gluten and move towards a more natural, raw foods diet. It will not be easy but I know it’s achievable. 
Have you been feeling not so great lately? If you are in need of a change, I invite to join me and give up gluten until this Sunday at 6 pm. This means no pasta, cookies, bread, crackers, anything with flour basically. 
Let’s see how far I last this time!

Scenes from Vermont: South Hero

Vermont is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve stepped foot in and now have the honor to call home. Although sometimes I become homesick for the city, nothing compares to the feeling you have when you are back in Vermont. The pace is slower and colors are brighter. Here are a couple of snaps from one of my favorite places in my state, the beautiful town of South Hero located in Northern Vermont. More pictures to follow of our adventure strawberry picking in the summertime.

The Little Black Romper

In my last post I discussed the important of the “business” little black dress.
 Now that I’ve covered business, let’s focus on fun. The little black dress’ younger cousin is the little black romper. I am by no means a huge romper fan, in fact, I own none besides the one in this picture.
I love layers and pulling together beautiful pieces of clothing to form a beautiful outfit. The romper to me seems like a lazy way out of creating an outfit and putting thought into. Convenient? Sure it is. Do I like it? Not at all.
The exception being the little black romper. I found this beauty at HM in NYC and lemme tell ya I fell in love at first sight. I’m usually good about catching myself before spending on a piece of clothing I fall in love with but that all went out of the window with this romper.
Sexy, fun, relaxing and easy to wear. I can dress it up with jewelry, I can wear it with sandals or heels.
Hair can be up, hair an be down. The entire outfit is a great blank canvas where I can get as creative as I’d like! It is definitely a fun number for a night out in the town and potentially an ounce too risque but life is too short not to wear a little black romper, right?
PS. For the record, I ended up a couple of sizes bigger than my typical size 3 (in the picture below). As I learned, HM sizes either run very small or I went a little too far with all my tasting of NYC food that weekend (very likely).