Looking Forward to Summer

Hey guys!!  I hope you all are having a fantastic day so far!  I am feeling pretty good today, but I have more doctors appointments this week to hopefully figure out what the heck is going on!  

I want to switch gears a bit today because like most of you, I am seriously looking forward to summer (or at least spring!!!) with all the teases of warm weather we have gotten recently.  I have really been enjoying the short lived glimpses of nice weather so today I wanted to share a list of things that I am looking forward to at the weather heats up a bit! 

  1. Long walks with my pups.  Don’t get me wrong, I do walk my pups every day, but it is brutal when it is cold.  If it is raining, you can forget it… Riley refuses to go outside in the rain. 😉 I don’t blame him one bit!  We live near a park and I love the days when we get to take a long walk at the park.  It is good for my pups, but equally as good for me.  
  2. Reading outside.  I have been getting back into the habit of reading again lately and I just love reading a good book outside in the sunshine!  
  3. Lake trips.  Between my parents and in-laws, we have quite a few lakehouses to visit this summer and I can’t wait.  There is just something about being on the water in the heat of summer that I just contain my excitement!  I have some of the best memories fro our lake weekends with friends and family and I can’t wait to make more this year!
  4. Fresh flowers.  My mom and step-dad have a ton of hydrangea bushes and I love taking home fresh cute flowers for my kitchen table.  Fresh flowers make me so happy!!
  5. The pool! My mom and step-dad have a pool that I frequently take over in the summer.  Give me a float and a book and I am good to go for hours. 
  6. A tan.  Don’t judge me… I do wear a lot of sunscreen, but I can’t help but love a really nice summer tan.  I currently look like a ghost. 🙂 
  7. County concerts. There is just something about country music concerts in the summer.  It is so not the same when they are indoors.  We bought our Taylor Swift tickets what now feels like forever ago and I can’t wait!  I have been wanting to go to one of her concerts for a long time now and it is finally happening.  Fun fact: I got to go on Taylor Swift’s tourbus and meet her in a Walmart parking lot before she was super famous.  This is back when I was in high school.  It is really neat to see how far she has come.  
  8. Cocktails on the porch with my hubby.  After a long day at work, my husband and I love to kick back on our back deck with a drink.  It is a good time for us to catch up (sans electronics) and play cards or darts.  
  9. Music in the park.  At a local park near us, every Friday night in the summer they have different bands playing and food trucks lined up to feed people.  We grab a blanket, our pups, a bottle of wine and spending the night relaxing and chatting while listening to some great music.  It is always a great time.  
  10. Smoothies.  I used to be a big smoothie fan, but when the weather is cold, I am all about warm oatmeal.  I am excited to get back into the habit of making a cold smoothie each morning.  🙂 

That’s all I have for now!  Please fill me in on what you are most looking forward to this summer!! I want to know what your favorite activities or traditions are!! Share in the comments!!

A Hopeful Update

Hi friends!  I really appreciate all the sweet get well soon messages.  You guys are so sweet.  I just wanted to pop in again to let you all know that I am still here and haven’t gone anywhere, but yes I am still sick.  

I have been fighting this this for over a month now and it has been hard.  I have missed a ton of work and just feel out of touch with most people in my life.  My mom, husband, and dad have been taking really good care of me.  I seriously don’t know what I would do without them.  My mom has taken me to doctor appointments and procedures non stop this last week so my husband wouldn’t have to miss work.  She truly is an angel.  As of now, I am home and SLOWLY getting better.  I had a lot of tests done last week including another CT scan, an x-ray, and two scopes and the doctors can’t figure out why I am still sick.  They have put me on a few new medications so we are taking it day by day at this point.  My stomach is still very unsettled, but I have been able to keep food down the last couple days, which is a big step from earlier this week.  

So there ya have it.  That is where I am at now.  I really appreciate all the thoughts and prayers and I promise I will be back to regular posting once I am healthy again.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!! 

The Never Ending Cycle

Hey friends!!  Once again, I am so sorry for the lack of posting this week.  Last Friday evening, this infection I have been dealing with came back full force and I was out for the count until Tuesday night!  It was AWFUL!!!

I am on some new stronger antibiotics and they seem to be doing the trick.  Fingers crossed this will be the last of it!  

I hope you all had a nice Easter weekend.  Easter is one of my favorite holidays because I just love spring, and pastel colors and ofcourse, the really meaning behind Easter.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy the day (I didn’t leave my bed for almost 4 days straight), but I did get to make a couple Easter baskets for some special people. 🙂 

My husband gets an Easter basket every year until we have children. 🙂  I have to have someone to make a basket for.  He asked why he didn’t get a “real” basket this year… because you are 30, that’s why. 😉 A dog bowl will have to do.  

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I make a little basket for my brother each year too. I always try to find non-candy items to fill up the basket first then add some chocolates!

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And my bestie, Rachael, got a special Easter basket this year with an engagement theme.  It is filled with a bridal magazine, a wedding planning notebook, Mrs. and Mr. coozies, ring cleaner, a heart-shaped ring holder, chocolates, a card, champagne, and ring pops.  I just love putting together little fun baskets to show the people I love the most how much I care about them.  

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A group of girls got together last night to celebrate the bride-to-be!

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SO SO SO happy for this girl!  She is the most giving, selfless person you will ever meet and deserves all the happiness in the world.  So lucky to have a friend like her. 🙂

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Although I wasn’t able to enjoy any carrot cake on Easter, I made this almond flour carrot cake into little muffins to enjoy throughout the week.  They are SO good and were very easy to make!  A nice little change from my protein bars/balls that I usually make/have on hand for snacking during the week.  The icing is just cashews (soaked in water for at least an hour) and a little maple syrup.  This snack packs a nice punch of protein with the icing and the almonds as the base!  

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I also made this almond butter brownie bread to take to my girls night last night!  I may have been sick lately, but I sure have been baking a lot.  

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Since my stomach has been upset lately with this bug I am fighting, I am sticking to a lot of very bland food aka carbs.  Last night I whipped up a big batch of protein pancakes to have on hand for quick meals throughout the week.  I didn’t follow any particular recipe, but kind of adapted a few to make my own.  I used a 1/2 cup protein powder (I use vanilla Sunwarrior), 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (add more if batter is too thick), teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon.  I greased the pan with coconut oil and got to flipping pancakes!  I individually wrapped up each serving (around 3 pancakes) and it made about 9 servings.  I ate my serving then threw the rest in the freezer for when I am in a pinch!  I just top mine with almond butter and I am ready to go! Planning ahead is so key for me when it comes to eating healthy.  

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And ofcourse a post wouldn’t be complete without a doggie picture. 🙂  Riley got the last of a jar of almond butter and was pretty happy about it. 😉 

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Thank you so much for your patience as I try to get this sickness under control.  I really appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.  Hopefully by next week we will be back to normal scheduled posts!  

Questions:

  1. Highlight of your weekend?
  2. Tell me all about your Easter (if you celebrate!)
  3. Do you like carrot cake? 

Benefit Concert, Is Spring Here Yet, An Engagement, and A Visit to the ER

Hey friends!  Wow, it has been quite a week.  I apologize for the lack of posting this week, but once I finish this post you will understand why I have been absent.  Let’s start off with the good news first…. 

My mother-in-law came into town last week for a quick visit and we had plans for dinner at The Southern. I wasn’t feeling super hungry so I opted for a salad and added shrimp to it.  It hit the spot. 

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Afterwards we had plans to attend a benefit concert at the Ryman hosted by Trace Atkins.  

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My mother-in-law and me.

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We got to see quite a few different artists including Dierks Bentley (with surprise guest Gavin Degraw).  

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And BLAKE SHELTON!!!!  We love his music.  

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We had a blast listening to music all night and singing along. 

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Yall, this photo is terrible, but have you guys had grilled romaine?  We love it in our house and love topping it with balsamic glaze.  Try it and thank me later. 😉 

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Along with lots of grilling when the weather gets nice is spring clothes!  I am ready to trade in my boots for sandals and sweaters for light dresses.  The weather in Nashville has been teasing up lately so I got in a couple days of skirts and dresses… and I am hoping more are in the near future. 🙂 

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Speaking of nicer weather, my husband took his little brother (from Big Brothers Big Sisters) to the Nashville soccer game this past weekend.  Nashville is getting a pro team in 2020 so that is pretty exciting.  I would have preferred baseball or basketball, but hey, we will take it.  

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Here comes the not-so-good news.  Last Thursday night I was out of town for work when I started not feeling well (think stomach bug and throwing up), but I decided to just sleep it off.  I woke up last Friday feeling terrible so after a couple hours of work in the morning, I headed back to Nashville.  Late Friday afternoon my stomach hurt so bad that I was literally screaming and my husband agreed that I needed to go to the ER. We got in the car and headed to the ER.  Thankfully we only waited about an hour (I was literally dry heaving in the waiting room so that was fun) before they took me back, I saw the doctor and got wheeled away to get a CT scan.  We got the results back shortly and it showed major inflammation in my stomach/colon (colitis).  What the heck!  It was so bad they ended up admitting me to the hospital Friday night. 

The only reason I had a smile was because they gave me a dose of morphine for the pain. 😉

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They ran tests all night so it was a long one for sure.  My husband stayed with me until my mom came to relieve him in the morning.  I was still in a ton of pain on Saturday morning, but I was improving so they ended up releasing me in the late morning.  I was so relieved to go home and sleep in my own bed, but I was still very sore (my stomach hurt to touch and it was very painful to walk) so I kept it easy the next few days.  They think I got an infection while abroad and it caused the couple weeks of stomach pains/throwing up.  I got some antibiotics and have been on the mend since.  I am still on a very bland diet… I tried to sway and that was a BAD idea.  I am just hoping I will be able to eat a salad again soon :), but ultimately I am so grateful for my health and that it was not anything more serious.  

My sweet friends, Rachael and Eric, and my dad and little brother sent me flowers and it made me so happy.  It is so nice to have such great friends and family that care about me after having such a crappy weekend.  

I never want to end a post on a bad note so here is the BEST part of last weekend.  I got the most exciting news this past Sunday!  My best friend, Rachael, got engaged to her boyfriend, Eric!  I couldn’t be more happy for them!!  Fun Fact: I actually introduced them to each other in HIGH SCHOOL and Eric called my wedding “Cupid’s wedding” because I was the matchmaker.  🙂 I just love these two and cannot wait for all the festivities to come this next year!!!!! It is so amazing to see friends so happy.  

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That is all I have for today, friends.  I am hoping for a less eventful weekend than last weekend with more highs than lows and no hospital visits. 😉  I hope you all have a greta weekend!!

Questions:

  1.  What do you have planned for this weekend?
  2. Have you ever been hospitalized?
  3. What is your favorite type of music?

 

Cancun, Mexico Couples Trip Part 3 … The FOOD!!!

Hey friends!!!  

Today’s post will wrap up my recap of our trip to Cancun.  I saved the best for last because today is all about the FOOD!  When I typically think of an all-inclusive, I think of cafeteria-style food.  ugh!  But I promise you the food was anything but that!  It was spectacular!!  You will see why I went to the gym every morning after reading this post! 😉

Our typical morning began with a gym session followed by breakfast at the buffet.  I am not huge on breakfast food so I didn’t have a huge variety of foods, but what I did have was amazing.  They have a ton of fresh juice options and I always opted for the cactus/celery juice.  I know, I know… it sounds disgusting, but I promise it was amazing.  I also took this time to hydrate before being in the sun all day.  My favorite part of breakfast was the massive amount of fresh fruit available.  It was all so delicious and juicy.  I also stocked up on eggs either over easy or scrambled or both!  And to make my breakfast a little more festive, I topped my eggs with fresh guacamole and pico! yum!

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My bestie, Lissa, always watches our pups while we are out of town.  They absolutely love her and it is so reassuring to get pictures and updates during our trip letting us know how they are doing.  It gives me such piece of mind to know they are in good hands.  

Lunch usually occurred around 2pm after a few hours at the pool.  The buffet was the lunch restaurant so we always tried to get a seat by the edge so we could people watch. 🙂 

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My lunch usually involved more fresh fruit, a piece of fish (or 2) and lots of cooked veggies.  And more guac… always more guac!

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For dinner we had the option of the buffet or 5 sit down restaurants.  We tried 3 of the sit down restaurants and had the buffet a couple of the nights for dinner.  The first night we went to the Japanese restaurant.  

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They brought out two of these sushi boards for us to start with and then we asked for two more.  Eeeekk.. it was so yummy.  

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I got ahi tuna ceviche and it was amazing. 

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I got the mahi for my entree, which was good as well.  I love fresh fish, especially when someone else prepares it, so I definitely had my fair share of seafood on this trip.  

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Dessert!

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Another night we went to the contemporary restaurant for dinner. 

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No one at our table liked the raw salmon, so more for me!

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This squash soup was really yummy! 

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I got the grouper this night and it was really tasty!

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The last night we had dinner at the steakhouse and I got the grilled salmon, which was some of the best salmon I have ever had.  It was sooo good!

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Even the nights we had dinner at the restaurants, we usually finished up the evening with dessert at the buffet since there were so many options.  Exhibit A below… when you love chocolate but can’t make up your mind… you get everything and try a bite of it all.  

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I had to end the recap with the picture of the delta crew loading guitars onto our plane to Nashville.  Little Big Town was on our flight back to Nashville and I was in total fan girl mode.  I didn’t ask for a picture since it was late and I didn’t want to be annoying, but that is just another reason I LOVE living in Nashville.  You get to see stars in their natural day to day life, which is pretty neat!  

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We had such an amazing trip and I am already planning our next vacay!! I hope you enjoyed my recaps and have an amazing day!

Questions:

  1. Have you ever met a celebrity?
  2. What is your favorite airline to fly?
  3. What is the longest flight you have ever been on? 

Cancun, Mexico Couples Trip Part 2 … Dressing Up

Hey guys!!  I am back with round 2 of our trip to Cancun, Mexico and today’s post shows all the times we were not in bathing suits (95% of the trip).  I would say 5% was spent in gym clothes (yes, I made it to the gym every single day on vacation and am pretty proud of that… had to burn some calories so we could eat more ;)) and the other 5% was spent in normal clothes so this had to be documented. 🙂 

The crew in the lobby of the hotel.  My sister and I are besties and we are extremely lucky that our boys men are good friends too.  #travelbuddiesforlife

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At the indoor bar at the resort for happy hour! Although… every hour is happy hour at an all-inclusive…

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Morg and Max.

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My sister and I.

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The men. 

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Ahem… I mean boys. 🙂 

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Each night we had a drink at the bar before heading to dinner.  

They specialized in martinis! So fun!

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My favorite was the expresso martini!

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We played a lot of card games during happy hour. 

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We are quite a competitive bunch. 😉 #I’mjusthereforthechampagne

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In front of one of the pools before dinner.

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Outside the restaurants for dinner. I am going to do a whole separate post on the food!!

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Love this girl

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SO MUCH!

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After dinner each night there was a show in the outdoor theater.

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Some were good, some were not, but we had fun!

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I’ll wrap up this post with another picture of the beach because… why not? 

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Can’t.get.enough!

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I will be back very soon with my final recap of our trip that is all about the FOOD!!!  See yall soon!!! 

Guest Post: 5 Gluten-Free Snacks

Hey there!!  Who else is glad we have made it to Wednesday?  I sure am!  I’ve got a fun guest post for you today and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  I don’t often accept guest posts, but when Craig approached me about the idea of gluten-free snacks, I was all in!  I am a huge snacker and love hearing suggestions of new snacks to make to change things up a bit!

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My name is Craig and I am an editor at CakeJournal. I spend most of my time finding every excuse test out new baking recipes. I write about everything from cake recipes to fun baking projects to vegan baking. If you can’t get a hold of me I am probably out at a restaurant or in the
kitchen!

5 Gluten-Free Snacks

Snacking while following a gluten free diet provides the opportunity to experience new flavors and ingredients! It does not have to be boring or complicated. These five snacks will be sure to satisfy your cravings.

If you are craving a sophisticated snack, whip up this smoked oyster spread. The cayenne pepper gives it a flavorful kick. Spread it on cucumber slices or crackers.

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Smoked Oyster Spread

8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1 can smoked oysters

1 tsp gluten free Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

  1. Add ingredients to a food processor.
  2. Pulse until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. Serve the oyster spread on seed crackers or chopped veggies.

 

Everyone occasionally craves chocolate or sweets. These almond butter chocolate energy balls won’t spike your blood sugar because they contain protein from the collagen peptides and almond butter. Or if you prefer a vegan option try this! This sugar and protein balance will fill you up and give you energy, not fatigue.

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Almond Butter Chocolate Energy Balls

¾ c almond butter

1 + ¾ cup quick oats

1/3 c honey

1/3 c dark chocolate chips

¼ c chia seeds

2 tbsp collagen peptides

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the almond butter for 30 seconds in the microwave.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the melted almond butter. Stir until fully combined.
  3. Roll the almond butter dough into 24 tablespoon-sized balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes, and enjoy!

 

Fat with a snack is the most satiating. Since avocados are a great source of healthy fat, why not mash them into guacamole? This Chunky Mexican Guacamole has fantastic spicy and tangy flavors. Dip into it with any kind of chip – plantain chip, corn chip, or root vegetable chip. It’s even amazing along with some veggie sticks.

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Chunky Mexican Guacamole with Plantain Chips

1 large avocado

¼ c chopped cilantro

1 small jalapeno, minced

¼ red onion, chopped

½ tsp sea salt

Juice of one lime

  1. Mash the avocado until chunky. Mix in the remaining ingredients and sprinkle with extra cilantro.
  2. Serve the guacamole with plantain chips or tortilla chips.

 

This spicy snack will wake you up during an afternoon slump! These crispy Buffalo Chicken Wings are excellent dipped in a creamy ranch dressing. Having these wings prepared ahead of time makes snacking even easier. Simply heat them up in a skillet over medium heat in order to keep their crispy texture.

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Buffalo Chicken Wings with Ranch Dressing

3 pounds chicken wings

1 tbsp arrowroot starch

1 ½ tsp sea salt, divided

1/3 c coconut oil

½ c hot sauce

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 250℉.
  2. Toss the chicken wings with arrowroot starch and one teaspoon of sea salt.
  3. Place the chicken wings in a single layer on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Flip the chicken wings and bake for 40 more minutes at 425℉, or until the wings are crispy and lightly browned.
  6. While the wings are baking, prepare the buffalo sauce by combining the coconut oil, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, paprika, and remaining ½ tsp sea salt in a bowl. Mix well until thoroughly combined.
  7. Once the chicken wings have cooled, coat them with the buffalo sauce and serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

 

Roasted beets add such a brilliant color to any snack plate. Try these Roasted Garlicky Roots – root vegetables roasted in olive oil and fragrant garlic until crispy! You could even enjoy these roots with some Chunky Mexican Guacamole!

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Roasted Garlicky Roots

2 parsnips, chopped

1 purple beet, chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  2. Toss the vegetables with olive and garlic in a large bowl. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes, flipping once halfway.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

 

These five snacks are perfect for any time of day when hunger strikes! The Almond Butter Chocolate Energy Balls work as a grab-and-go snack when you’re on the run. Chunky Mexican Guacamole can be packed in a container along with a bag of chips for dipping. Roasted Garlicky Roots also make a wonderful cold snack while road-tripping. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you can enjoy healthy and delightful gluten free snacking!

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