PINK’S PICKS: 2023 MASTER LIST

HAPPY (almost) NEW YEAR! Can you BELIEVE it’s almost 2024?! I am so excited for a new year and beyond grateful for 2023. I married the love of my life, traveled over 120K miles for work/fun, gained a new niece and nephew, and had just SO much fun celebrating so many wonderful life events. I am also SO grateful for the community I have built here and for all the support on my blog. It’s a dream to share what I love and I can’t WAIT for 2024.

Every year, I share my favorite products for the year, “the grand list” and so here it is! 2023 PINK’S PICKS MASTER LIST!! These are the things I can’t live without, repurchased, or that I was obsessed with this past year.  HAPPY END OF THE YEAR!!!

 

BEAUTY

Hourglass Phantom Volumizing Glossy Lip Balm

The hourglass phantom plumping balm has been one of my favorite beauty discoveries this year (thanks TikTok!). I just love the consistency, colors and packaging. The sleek gold tube is always in my purse and is the one product I grab for consistently. I love using the Charlotte Tilbury iconic nude lip liner with the trace color phantom balm; it’s so good.  I even wore it on my wedding day!

Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter

There has been SO many incredible reviews on Rare Beauty’s products this year and I officially understand the hype. The highlighter is my absolute favorite. It is simply stunning. It’s silky smooth, illuminating and multipurpose. You can use it on your cheekbones, eye lids, and truly anywhere you want that extra glow. I have the champagne color but really want to try the others too. This is one of those products I can’t travel without. LOVE HER. Great job, Selena!!

PATRICK TA Major Headlines Double-Take Crème & Powder Blush Duo

I am now a blush girlie and my official 2023 blush product was by Patrick Ta. I loved the combo of cream and blush in his duo palette. It’s perfect on it’s own over SPF or with foundation. My current favorite color is “she’s blushing”. This is my must have blush product and is also so easy to use. It’s pretty much two products in one and each color can be worn on it’s own or together. A must have!!

SKINCARE

Hydrafacials

My #1 go to skincare splurge this year was on hydrafacials. I was prepping for my wedding day and I knew I needed to get on a really good skin routine so I did hydrafacials every month for about 8 months leading up to my big day and they’re a GAME CHANGER. I go to Amy Berisha Aesthetics in Newport Beach and see Kate (ILY). I know everyone’s skin is different but this is the one thing that has truly made a difference for me with a consistent skincare routine. It works to plump your skin with incredible peptides and products while also leaving your skin hydrated and glow-y. I am not an expert but I can say I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Worth every penny!

ZO Skin Health EXFOLIATING POLISH

Once I started doing consistent hydrafacials, I also got on a complete skincare routine. I actually started using ZO Skin Health products and I realized it is SO much better to use products designed to work together than just a bunch of random products from Sephora. One of my favorite products in my routine I think everyone needs is the ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish. Designed for all skin types, this polish is gentle enough to use daily and immediately leaves your skin smooth and soft. I use it EVERY SINGLE morning and can’t travel without it. Obsessed is an understatement.

HEALTH & WELLNESS

AquaTru Carafe: Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier

This year I was dedicated to my overall wellness and the one thing that changed my overall well-being is my AquaTru Carafe Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier I did a whole review you can read here, but this is a MUST have for anyone looking to transform their health. Good, healthy, clean water is essential and this countertop system is easy to use, small, and has been perfect for us in our home. I can’t recommend it enough.  Plus, their filters are easy to re-order and last awhile too!

CYMBIOTIKA PROBIOTIC 

I have officially been using my Cymbiotika Probiotic for 2 years and I will NEVER stop. This product has been a complete game changer for my gut health. I originally tried the Seed probiotic but switched this one after extensive research on the ingredients and manufacturing process. Read my full review here, but essentially this probiotic is designed to reach your gut (many do not) and contains glutamine, pre/probiotics and is made in the USA. I take 3 tablets every single night and it’s helped clear my skin, solve my bloating issues and just overall, keeps my gut happy. SO much of our health relies on our gut. Of course, consult your healthcare provider before adding anything into your routine, but this is one of my favorite products ever.

HATCH RESTORE ALARM CLOCK

I won’t shut up about the HATCH. Read my full review here, but this was a game changer to my daily routine. I now wake up CALM, refreshed and without a jarring iPhone alarm 😀

Best investment EVER.

FITNESS

HOKA Clifton 9 Running Shoe

I started my half marathon training towards the end of this year and so far, the HOKA Clifton 9 have been my favorite running shoe for long runs. From the cushion, to the support and stability, HOKA just WORK. I feel like I can run faster and longer whenever I wear my HOKA. I know they’re not the cutest shoe, but, they offer great support, especially in the ankle area. They run true to size and come in so many fun colors. I have them in black but can’t wait to get a different color! I also do love the Clifton 8 too – read my full review here. 

FASHION

AGOLDE 90’s Pinch Waist Jeans

This is year, a lot of my “fashion finds” were for my wedding/wedding events so I didn’t splurge on staples like I normally would. BUT my most worn fashion item for 2023 has been the AGOLDE 90’s Pinch Waste Jean. This pair of denim is just a classic. I can dress them up or down. I love the fit of the straight leg and the standard mid-wash color. AGOLDE does a great job creating great, structured denims. This is a pair I grab for again and again! Just note they do NOT have stretch. They’re a more structured fit which I loveeeee.

OTHER HONORABLE 2023 FAVORITES:

Branch Basics Cleaning Products: Read my full review here but this is the BEST, easy swap to make your home a little less toxic.

GRAB GREEN CLEAN Laundry Detergent: The only laundry detergent I use!

ATTITUDE EWG Verified Body Wash (A MUST HAVE): I said BYEEE to toxic body washes and found ATTITUDE. 100% toxic free and it works! Plus, it smells SO good I promise.

HENRY ROSE NON-TOXIC Candle: this is my favorite candle now. They’re 100% non-toxic, EWG verified and STUNNINGLY sleek. Obsessed. This brand was founded by Michelle Pfeiffer too!

Caraway Cooking Pots/Pans: Another non-toxic brand! This is one of my fav gifts this year off our wedding registry. We use it everyday!!

Murad City Skin Age Sunscreen:  This has been my go-to sunscreen this year. The consistency is amazing and doesn’t clog pores.

LMNT Electrolytes: I can’t stop buying these. I have one at least once a day. It’s my new favorite hydration powder. Sugar-free and also has magnesium and potassium! I love the watermelon salt flavor.

Cymbiotika Super Greens: This is another product I am NEVER without. It’s an easy way to get greens in daily. I always travel with them too!

BEIS Suitcase: I have logged a lot of miles with my Beis this year! Still my fav suitcase. It’s sleek and has lasted MANY miles.

Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment: This is another lip product I always have when I travel. I love the salted caramel!!

SHOP ALL MY 2023 FAVORITES HERE: 

 

PINK’S PLACES REVIEW: BE Fit Modern Pilates

HELLLOO! Happy JUNE! It is almost my favorite time of the year, aka Summer! This post will be the start to my Pink’s Places Reviews: Orange County Edition. I am going to share reviews on some of my favorite spots local to Orange County, CA and I am so stoked to share my review today on one of my favorite places ever in Newport Beach – let’s talk about BE Fit Modern Pilates. If you follow me on Instagram, then you KNOW this place is like my second home. I am obsessed with all things Pilates, but this studio has to be the best Pilates studio in Newport Beach and ALL of Orange County! Here are the deets:

Why I Love BE Fit Modern Pilates:

My love for Pilates began about 7 years ago when I lived in San Francisco. I lived about four blocks away from Core40 (miss you!) and I got HOOKED. The second I moved to OC, I was on the hunt to find a similar studio that offered “Lagree Style” Pilates. Lagree is essentially like Pilates, but on a megaformer – here’s a full article on the differences.  I tried pretty much every Pilates, reformer, and Lagree studio on ClassPass in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and even some in South County. But the second BE Fit opened in Newport Beach, I knew I was going to become a regular.

While it is not technically “Lagree” Pilates, BE Fit Modern Pilates uses a similar technique and BE Fit offers a 45 minute full body workout, that is low impact, high intensity, and done right on a reformer.

BE Fit Pilates Newport Beach Location

First off, the location is PRIME – BE Fit is located right in the Westcliff shopping center behind many of the shopping and restaurants that line 17th Street. And, of course, right by my fav coffee shop Kit Coffee. I never have any issues with parking, which is a big factor for me. But of course, the aesthetic of the studio is also on point. It’s clean, modern, sleek, and makes you WANT to work out.

A Spin on “Lagree Style” Pilates

What makes me come back time and time again is the workout itself. Like I said, it is a spin on the traditional “Lagree Style” workout – controlled movements, with some cardio and strength training. I have been doing reformer style Pilates for years, but at BE Fit, it NEVER gets easier, and for me, I like the challenge.

The instructors are also incredible – well trained, great energy, and I leave every workout feeling better and stronger. Plus, they’re all just NICE and not intimidating – which I think is so great for any newcomer. The team at BE Fit truly makes an effort to put you at ease if it’s your first class.

Class Scheduling and Times

BE Fit also offers great scheduling and time options – I love early mornings, but you can also find a class in the afternoon or evening. I could probably do a whole article on how Pilates changed my life but honestly, it is a life changing approach to working out and BE Fit Modern Pilates is the perfect twist on Pilates that I needed – my body CRAVES it.

How to Signup for BE Fit Classes

BE Fit is on ClassPass, but not ALL classes are offered on the app. You can check out their ClassPass availability by clicking here.

They offer great class packages on the BE Fit Modern Pilates app and you can sign up directly there too – it’s super simple.

Plus – your first class is only $19!! Sign up here!

How to Get to BE Fit Modern Pilates:

BE Fit now has many locations. You can find a studio in Long Beach, Orange County, and even in San Diego! You can find all of their locations by clicking here and looking at the bottom of the page.

Overall Rating of BE Fit Modern Pilates

It will likely be NO shock to those of you who follow me on Instagram,  that BE Fit Modern Pilates is a 5/5 for me. I am there at least two times a week LOL. It truly is the perfect workout, the best vibe, and one of the more friendly studios in OC that makes me feel welcome and excited to be there. Please let me know if you give it a try!! And if you think it’s hard, I know….but keep going 🙂 #makeitshake!!

Book a Class Here!

7 Essential Self-Care Strategies for Introverts

I am so excited to feature a guest writer on the blog! Mental health is very important to me and I want to be able to provide tools and tips to anyone who may be struggling. I want to continue to break the taboo on discussing mental health topics, especially after the last few years and my personal journey with anxiety and seeing the toll other diseases can have on people. 

About the writer: Every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, Melissa Howard felt compelled to create Stop Suicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. Melissa went to school at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and currently works as an executive assistant. 

Read on for 7 Essential Self-Care Strategies for Introverts!

As an introvert, you must allow yourself to recharge and take breaks from socializing. While extroverts thrive off spending most of their waking hours with other people and producing as much as they possibly can, introverts must prioritize solitude to maintain quality of life.

There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or an extrovert, but it’s essential to identify the differences so that you can take the steps necessary to foster your health and wellbeing. Below, Melissa Howard shares seven self-care strategies to help you flourish as an introvert!

Pursue your goals

Being introverted does not mean that you should be passive when chasing your dreams. Say, for example, you have wanted to return to school for a degree. You can do that from the comfort of your own home! By enrolling in an online college, you can study at your own pace and earn a business degree in IT management, marketing, business management, or any number of other fields.

Say “no” more often

All people are not introverts, so some of your friends and acquaintances may not understand when you don’t feel like doing something or when you are overextending yourself.

Stop feeling guilty about saying no to people. Be intentional with your commitments to leave room for self-care and other opportunities that you may find more enjoyable.

Stop comparing yourself to others

If you compare yourself to extroverted friends or relatives, stop doing so immediately! We tend to compare our worst qualities with other people’s best qualities, which means we cannot make an objective comparison.

Plus, you undoubtedly have unique strengths and needs that other people do not have, so it will do no good to compare yourself to people who have different gifting.

Carve in time to recharge

Recharging is critical when you are an introvert, so you have to make time for it if you want it to happen. If you don’t recharge, you will eventually burn out and become overwhelmed by life’s day-to-day.

Mark self-care routines in your calendar and treat them like a meeting, assignment, or doctor’s appointment. These self-care activities should be non-negotiable and provide you a moment to be in solitude.

Spend time in solitude

Speaking of solitude, consider beginning your day with a few moments of quiet. Brew a cup of coffee, sit in your most comfortable chair, and enjoy the silence, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Try to do this for 15 to 20 minutes before you lie down to sleep, and you might find that your mind becomes calm and you get more restful sleep.

Enjoy nature

The benefits of spending time outdoors are wide-ranging and completely free. Make time to go for a walk through your neighborhood, rest on a patch of grass in your backyard, read a book under a shady tree, practice backyard yoga, or do any number of outdoor activities that you enjoy.

Try to get quality time in nature at least a few times a week. It will do wonders for boosting your mood, reducing your stress, and improving your overall wellbeing.

Take a break from electronics

Our lives are so stimulated these days by electronic screens. Chances are you have a smartphone, and you may even have a laptop and tablet that you use daily. Worse, overstimulation doesn’t stop after we get home from work.

Be conscious of how much time you spend watching TV and browsing the web, and try to unplug for at least a few hours each day. You might find that you sleep better, are less agitated, and generally have a more positive attitude about life!

You don’t need to socialize and produce as extroverts do. As an introvert, you must consider your own needs and desires in your everyday routine. Consider the self-care strategies above as you begin to make adjustments that could vastly improve your health, wellbeing, and quality of life!

Check out Melissa Howard’s website full of so many resources for mental health and suicide prevention:  https://stopsuicide.info/

 

Salmon + Coconut Rice Bowl Recipe (gluten-free!)

Okay I have mastered this easy weeknight/healthy meal for my salmon lovers! This takes literally 30 minutes to make and there are always leftovers which make a great lunch for the next day! I love coconut so the nutty/sweetness of the coconut rice compliment the perfectly sweet/salty salmon that is lightly seasoned with tamari sauce and honey. You will find yourself making this on REPEAT- it’s so good and all ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s!

Ingredients: 

FOR SALMON + ASPARAGUS:

1-1.5 IBS of Wild Caught Salmon Salmon (2 pieces or I like to do one long tail piece)

2 Tbsp Tamari gf soy sauce (or regular soy sauce or coconut aminos)

Sesame Seeds

2 Tbsp of Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Salt + Pepper

Drizzle of Honey

Asparagus- chopped into fine pieces

FOR COCONUT RICE:

1 Can of Coconut Milk

1 1/4 Cup of Water

1 1/2 Cups of Brown Jasmine Rice (or white rice)

1 tsp of Coconut Sugar (or regular)

FOR MANGO SALSA:

1 fresh Mango, chopped/diced

1/2 Red Onion, chopped/diced

1/2 of a Lime, squeezed

1/4 Cup of Cilantro

Sprinkle of Salt

Instructions:

For mango salsa, chop up mango and onion and combine with the juice of the lime, cilantro and salt into a bowl. Place in the fridge so it can chill.

For the rice, add all coconut rice ingredients into a sauce pan. Bring to a medium boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the rice is fluffy.

For the salmon/asparagus, line a baking sheet with foil. Add Salmon on one side and chopped up asparagus on the other. Pour olive oil and tamari over both. Add salt/pepper/garlic powder on top. Add however much you desire! Drizzle honey over salmon and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

Add rice, then asparagus and salmon to a bowl. Top with mango salsa and enjoy!! We like to add siracha hot sauce and extra tamari on top too 🙂

Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix – AIR FRY EDITION

I may be behind on the Trader Joe’s game, but I JUST discovered their falafel mix?! Like where have I been?! I was stoked to try! I wanted to air fry them to avoid soaking them in excess oil per the instructions on the box (you can also bake them in the oven) and after scouring the internet, I could NOT find specific instructions. So after my own trial and error, I feel like I have MASTERED the air fry version of Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix .This is vegan, gf, and has the perfect flavor of garlic, cumin and coriander. Below are the three simple steps and then much more information about the mix’s versatility, convenience, and recipe variations. 

But first, let’s give you the steps!

Three Simple Steps for How to Make Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix in the Air Fryer

Step One:

Once you just add water to the pre-made mix, you let the mixture sit out for 30-60 minutes. 

Step two:

Now that you’ve let the mix sit out, make little balls (about 2-4 inches big), preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Once the air fryer is heated up, add the falafel balls spread out in your air fryer basket. I sprayed the balls with a little olive oil so they’d be crispy. Let them cook in the air fryer for about 10-11 minutes. Flip them over and leave them for 30 more seconds (or until a golden brown).

Step three:

Remove the falafel balls from the air fryer and let them cool for a few minutes. They’re definitely better warm so enjoy immediately! I love putting them in a salad bowl with cucumbers, olives, and tahini, but they would also be amazing with pita bread too! So easy and good! 

ENJOY 🙂

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The Versatility of Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix

As a foodie who values fitness and health, Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix opens up a world of great possibilities for your culinary adventures. This versatile mix allows you to create fashionable and delicious dishes that perfectly align with your lifestyle. Let’s explore three trendy ways to enjoy Trader Joe’s falafel mix:

  1. Fashionable Falafel Wraps: Falafel wraps are a classic Middle Eastern dish. Opt for gluten-free or whole wheat wraps to maintain your trendy and health-conscious style. Fill them with crispy falafels made from Trader Joe’s mix, and adorn them with an array of vibrant veggies, such as shredded carrots, cucumber ribbons, and fresh greens. Finish it off with a drizzle of zesty yogurt sauce or a tangy tahini dressing for a fashionable fusion of flavors.
  2. Fit and Fresh Falafel Salads: Who says salads have to be boring? Elevate your salad game. Begin with a bed of mixed greens or trendy leafy greens like kale or arugula. Top them with flavorful falafels made from Trader Joe’s mix for a satisfying crunch. Enhance the health factor by adding trendy ingredients like sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and colorful bell peppers. Finish with a light and fashionable dressing, such as a lemon vinaigrette or a zingy Greek yogurt-based sauce.
  3. Protein-Packed Power Bowls: Power bowls are all the rage, and with Trader Joe’s falafel mix, you can create a protein-packed bowl that will keep you stylishly energized throughout the day. Start with a base of trendy grains like quinoa or farro. Add a generous serving of falafels made from Trader Joe’s mix as the star protein. Complete your fashion-forward bowl with a mix of roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Drizzle with a trendy sauce such as a spicy harissa dressing or a creamy avocado-lime sauce for a truly fashionable and nutritious meal.

With Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix, you have the power to create trendy and delicious meals that suit your lifestyle (AND they are easy). Experiment with different ingredients, dressings, and flavors to make each dish uniquely yours. Whether you’re enjoying a fashionable falafel wrap, a fit and fresh falafel salad, or a protein-packed power bowl, Trader Joe’s falafel mix will keep you satisfied while aligning with your fitness and health goals.

The Convenience of Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix

As someone that is always on the go, Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix is a true lifesaver when it comes to creating delicious meals without sacrificing time or effort.

  1. Effortless: With Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix, you can effortlessly whip up flavorful falafels without the need for extensive ingredient preparation. The mix comes pre-made, saving you precious time in the kitchen. Simply follow the instructions above, add a few additional ingredients, and you’ll have falafels ready to go in no time.
  2. Stylish Pantry Staple: Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix is a fashionable pantry staple that ensures you’re always prepared for a quick and trendy meal. The mix comes in shelf-stable packaging, making it convenient to keep on hand whenever falafel cravings strike. Whether you’re entertaining fashion-forward guests or simply need a nutritious meal after a busy day, having Trader Joe’s falafel mix in your pantry allows you to create stylish dishes with ease.

Recipes to Make with Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix

Recipe 1: Fashionable Falafel Wraps

Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix
  • Gluten-free or whole wheat wraps
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cucumber ribbons
  • Fresh greens (such as spinach or arugula)
  • Zesty yogurt sauce or tangy tahini dressing

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the falafel mix according to the package instructions.
  2. Shape the falafel mixture into small patties and cook them until crispy.
  3. Warm the wraps and layer them with shredded carrots, cucumber ribbons, and fresh greens.
  4. Place the crispy falafels on top and drizzle with zesty yogurt sauce or tangy tahini dressing.
  5. Roll up the wraps tightly, tucking in the sides, and cut them in half for a fashionable presentation.
  6. Serve and enjoy these trendy falafel wraps as a stylish and satisfying meal.

Recipe 2: Fit and Fresh Falafel Salad

Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix
  • Mixed greens or trendy leafy greens (such as kale or arugula)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Colorful bell peppers
  • Lemon vinaigrette or zingy Greek yogurt-based sauce

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the falafel mix according to the package instructions.
  2. Form the mixture into falafel patties and cook them until crispy.
  3. Arrange a bed of mixed greens or trendy leafy greens on a plate.
  4. Top the greens with sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and colorful bell peppers.
  5. Add the crispy falafels on top and drizzle with a fashionable lemon vinaigrette or zingy Greek yogurt-based sauce.
  6. Toss the salad gently to combine all the flavors and enjoy a fit and fresh falafel salad that’s both healthy and stylish.

Recipe 3: Protein-Packed Power Bowl

Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix
  • Trendy grains (such as quinoa or farro)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Roasted cauliflower
  • Spicy harissa dressing or creamy avocado-lime sauce

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the falafel mix according to the package instructions.
  2. Shape the mixture into falafel patties and cook until crispy.
  3. Cook trendy grains like quinoa or farro according to the package instructions.
  4. Arrange a bed of cooked grains in a bowl.
  5. Add roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower for a trendy and nutritious touch.
  6. Place the crispy falafels on top and drizzle with a spicy harissa dressing or creamy avocado-lime sauce for a fashionable flavor burst.
  7. Mix all the ingredients together gently and savor a protein-packed power bowl that’s both stylish and satisfying.

Recipe 4: Falafel Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix
  • Bell peppers (assorted colors for a stylish presentation)
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley or dill)
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the falafel mix according to the package instructions.
  2. Form the mixture into falafel patties and cook them until crispy.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
  5. Stuff the bell peppers with the crispy falafels and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
  6. Place the stuffed peppers on a baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
  7. Remove from the oven and garnish with chopped fresh herbs.
  8. Serve the fashionable falafel stuffed peppers with lemon wedges for a tangy finish.

Recipe 5: Trendy Falafel Buddha Bowl

Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Sliced avocado
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Shredded purple cabbage
  • Turmeric tahini dressing

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the falafel mix according to the package instructions.
  2. Shape the mixture into falafel patties and cook them until crispy.
  3. In a bowl, arrange a base of cooked quinoa.
  4. Add sliced avocado, roasted chickpeas, and shredded purple cabbage for a fashionable and colorful touch.
  5. Place the crispy falafels on top and drizzle with a trendy turmeric tahini dressing.
  6. Mix all the ingredients together gently to combine flavors and textures.
  7. Enjoy this trendy falafel Buddha bowl as a satisfying and nourishing meal that embodies both fashion and flavor.

Feel free to adjust the recipes based on your personal taste preferences and desired fashion-forward presentation. Enjoy these trendy and delicious recipes created with Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix!

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Thinking Of Going Vegan? Sharing My Journey!

It’s been 6 months now since I have gone plant based. WILDDDD. I ironically made this decision while eating a steak (lol). I have now spent the last few months strictly eating mainly plants and whole foods and avoiding dairy and all meat products. So how do I feel? I know everyone’s journey is different but I wanted to share mine!

Why I Decided to Go Vegan

During the pandemic, I realized I was eating and drinking WAY more than normal (like many of us, right? STRESS!). I was still working out regularly so I didn’t really gain weight, but I certainly started to feel “off” or as I like to say, “fluffy”. I wanted a reset. I also had read the book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger and I loved the discussion and evidence on how food can truly be medicine and the book focused a lot on how plant based diets can reverse some level of diseases. With COVID going on, I truly wanted to be at my best, health wise. I know you can find evidence/studies to conclude that pretty much any type of “diet” has benefits, however, for me, food has become my idea of fuel and nourishment, not something I want to restrict due to my experience with disordered eating. And the word diet just suckkkks. I also just hate labeling anything in general so I approached this as “what can I add to my diet to feel good”.  I also met others who raved about how they felt switching to plant based diets (Hi Hal and Lauren!!) and figured I’d give it another shot (I tried back in 2015 for a little under a year). So I jumped in head first! 

The First Few Months of Vegan Eating

Month 1-2: First off, what is VEGAN? It is a person who does not eat any food derived from animals and who typically does not use other animal products. As someone who is already a healthy eater, nothing scared me about going plant based/vegan other than how to get protein. I don’t like tofu or fake meat, so that wasn’t an option for me right away. I loaded up on beans, a vegan protein powder, lentils and hoped for the best. About 3 weeks in, I started to feel VERY dizzy and again, just off. I felt like I was floating, especially at night. I was also doing HIIT workouts 6x a week and I know that could’ve also been a factor and I knew I needed to eat more. I initially just bought veggies and beans and called it a meal (lol). I also started taking B12 vitamins with my Seed probiotic and Ritual Multivitamins to make up for any gaps in my diet. I just decided to keep on going and push through.  

The Middle Phase

Month 3-5: After a few months, I started to feel AMAZING. I began to focus on eating whole foods, lots of protein, more carbs and started doing Pilates 4x a week mixed with Peloton and walks/runs instead of HIIT workouts. My skin felt great, my energy was up and I didn’t feel that same fluff or bloat that I used to. However, I noticed that eating out was more challenging when it came to options. Luckily, in Orange County, fast casual options were pretty easy to order from (some of my favs are Mendocino Farms and Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice!). However, dating a carnivore made date night interesting (I always suggested a vegan spot lol). Instead of being a boring human ordering a plate of lettuce, I started to order fish options instead (with no dairy of course…plus eating a plate of lettuce left me HANGRY). I also LOVEEEE sushi and I realized quickly that fish doesn’t bother my stomach or negatively affect energy levels and the omega 3 fatty acids really made me feel good. I didn’t go vegan for animal rights/restriction (not that it isn’t important to me) so adding fish didn’t feel like “breaking a rule”, which is usually my fear when I commit to eating a certain way (way too hard on myself). But this time around,  I am purely focused on my health and feeling good so I was proud of myself.  Adding fish has made date nights more enjoyable for both of us and I don’t have to miss my sushi! Food should be fun and what you love after all!!

How I Feel After Eating Vegan for Six Months

Month 6: Now I currently feel pretty great! I don’t miss cooking meat and only really think about a steak when Robb takes me to a steakhouse and I order veggies lol. But all in all, this journey has allowed me to eat a lot more/new nourishing foods and feel lighter, energized and happy! I have loved cooking new things and adding new ingredients into my kitchen (current fav is tahini– so versatile and I use it to make healthier versions of salad dressings and sauces!!) Also, I went to my yearly physical, where my blood work numbers showed I was doing something different than the year prior and my doctor asked what I had been doing recently…he attributed my great numbers to my plant based diet! Crazy. (I am talking super low LDL cholesterol, high HDL cholesterol and very favorable numbers in my entire metabolic panel- health is friggin wealth). The key for me really was allowing myself to eat fish and not beating myself up about it for not following “the rules”. The older I get, the LESS I care about abiding by rigid standards I used to set for myself. Just live your life, have fun, judge less, love more- it’s much easier 🙂 Plus, I have thoroughly learned food can truly be medicine. 

All in all, I have loved going plant based but it was obviously a journey. I share this because I was looking for a similar resource when I started. I know everyone has their own experiences, but if you’re thinking of changing something up, do it, but don’t limit your life because of it- be flexible. Do what makes YOU feel good.  Will I continue this forever? Maybe. Do I miss cheese? ABSOLUTELY!! Like a lot…but one day at a time. If you have any questions, please reach out! Also, if you have a MUST try Vegan cheese, let me know. I miss Gouda! 

ICYMI: Shared some of my FAV Vegan snacks here!!

DISCLAIMER:  Please note I am not a registered dietician or doctor and this is purely my personal story based on my personal experience.

 

BALANCE- how to find, live it, thrive in it

“Adult-ing” is hard. You wake up, go to work, work, drive home, workout, eat, go to bed. Repeat. Maybe you even work weird hours. Maybe you don’t find time to eat. Maybe you don’t relate to this at all #goals. Or you just get caught up in routine. And the next thing you know, the days are slow but the years are fast….ya feel?

I’ve learned to avoid the monotonous adult routine that I often found myself stuck in, especially during COVID. Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE a good routine. There is something so settling about having predictability in areas of my life, such as doing a yoga sculpt every Monday night or having lunch around the same time each day. However, whoever said the quote along the lines of “Work, Friends, Social life- pick 2” really made me sad. WHY CAN’T I HAVE IT ALL?! So, with that said, balance is key and YOU have the power to choose how you want your routine and life to look. Choose two or have it all and here are 4 ways to find that balance:

Schedule it 

It’s so easy to have excuses as to why we don’t do something. “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have enough time in my day” are two common statements thrown around like confetti when it comes to why one can’t do something. But we all have the same hours in the day and we all prioritize our time differently. If you want to add or change something into your daily routine, schedule it. Whether it’s that morning workout and a quick happy hour with a friend, put it in your calendar and commit to it. Set an alarm. Get an accountabili-buddy aka someone to hold you accountable. For me, I always schedule my workouts Sunday night. I know which days I will be running/circuit training, pilates, yoga sculpt, and spin. I give myself an hour a day just to workout, only 4% of my day! Even though my day to day might change up, I still find that one hour to myself, which leads to my next one…..

Be flexible 

Being flexible is more than just changing up your day- it’s also about being open minded. For me, I used to always get so caught up in how the structure of my day needed to be. I always had to workout after work, even if a friend invited me to dinner. I always had to go to Target on Monday’s, even if my work had a last minute happy hour. But by being this way, I missed out on so many opportunities. Being open and flexible really allows you to take on new things and explore moments that might only come once and allow you to spice your routine up. So if a friend invited me to dinner on a night I had a workout scheduled at 6pm, I’d workout earlier or reschedule it for after, and let myself go grab dinner. WOW social and self care in one day– I truly never knew it was possible! But it was only because I wasn’t flexible, open minded and willing to change it up. Once I opened up to the idea of change, my routine became more fun, exciting and made me look forward to something each week, instead of dreading each moment to come. 

Look Forward to Something 

I LOVE putting at least ONE thing in my calendar each week I get to look forward to. Whether it’s a new exercise class, trying a new recipe one night or grabbing dinner with a friend, it is so important to be excited about your days! How boring are those weeks when they just drag on and all you do is look forward to the weekend? Make your week just as fun, even with a routine. 

Don’t BEAT yourself up

So this is an important reminder when trying to schedule new things with a routine. Do you ever have one of those days when you just don’t want to do anything? Honor that. With Instagram, social media, we often find ourselves comparing ourselves to others highlight reel on the internet. But it’s ok to not always be doing something. Maybe you don’t want to have friends, social life, career, or self care time. You do you. Don’t ever feel bad for that. But always remember, you have the power to create time, prioritize, and do everything you want, anything you want. Spice it up. 

Pink’s Place Review: Ojai

If you follow me on IG, you probably saw my Ojai spam. But WOW this place is truly a gem. After a crazy 8 months of a remodel and a move, Robb and I decided to go on a getaway that did not require flights or difficult travel plans. What was crazy was how booked and expensive it is to go anywhere right now as the world opens up…. Because of that, we decided to do something within driving distance and our goal was to simply relax. There are a few resorts I really want to stay at along the CA Central Coast, but everything was booked or was going for over $2,000 a night.

I had been dreaming of going to Ojai to stay at the Ojai Valley Inn for quite some time. When I started doing some research online, I found that they only had availability in the middle of a week, which typically we wouldn’t do since we are horrible at taking time off work lol, but we bit the bullet and booked a stay from Sunday – Wednesday.

Here is a day by day overview of what we did, what we loved and what we would recommend if you are planning a trip to the Central Coast or Ojai in particular. Without ruining the story, let’s just say that we’re already planning on going back!!

DAY 1: Drove down the 101 Highway to Montecito for Dinner at Lucky’s.

Lucky’s Montecito:

Lucky’s is a charming steakhouse restaurant located in the quaint downtown of Montecito, CA (just south of Santa Barbara). It has an old Hollywood vibe and honestly the people watching here is true entertainment (I was hoping to see Prince Harry, but I guess he is laying low right now. Wonder why?). The menu consists of standard steakhouse options- all cuts of meat, seafood, and a la carte sides (a few vegetarian options too!). They also have incredible cocktails and a great wine list. The food was a 3.5/5 for me (Mastro’s still represents), but I would come back again for the ambiance, service and location- I just love Montecito. Highly recommended for a nice, premium dinner experience! 4.5/5

DAY 2: Ojai – Explore

Topa Mountain Winery:

Located right outside the inn, Topa Mountain Winery is a cute, outdoor/indoor winery that offers wine tasting flights, as well as bottles and wine by the glass. We decided to stop here to relax in the beautiful outdoor space and try some of their wine. We both did a tasting flight and sat outside by the pretty vineyards– it’s a very cute and trendy outdoor space and spread out. This place would be absolutely perfect on the weekend with some live music! I always love doing a tasting flight and I actually really enjoyed their 2020 Rose. They don’t have any real food options (only a few snacks), so next time we would bring our own crackers and dips. We later found a market down the street where you’d be able to grab some goodies. Overall, the wine wasn’t amazing, but we did love getting to sit outside, taste some new wines and take in the scenery. The one thing that did stand out was their Froze! Just imagine a Rose flavored Icee with a champagne floater on top. Amazing! The staff were also very friendly and gave us tips on places to try locally in the area. I definitely recommend stopping by if you’re ever in Ojai- you must make a reservation on their website! 4/5

Ojai Valley Inn:

After we checked out some wine, we decided to explore the grounds of the resort we were staying at, The Ojai Valley Inn. This place is simply amazing. Located one mile from downtown, every area of this resort reveals views of some of California’s gorgeous untouched hills that surround the valley. The resort itself has a very Spanish-colonial architectural feel. It is a true zen vibe to me. The lush landscape, golf course, spa and restaurants all fit perfectly together- you literally don’t have to leave the resort and you can rent free bikes to bike around the property or to downtown! After we walked the grounds, we ended up booking massages at the spa, grabbed a cocktail by one of their many fire pits and enjoyed French fries at one of the casual restaurants called Jimmy’s Pub (SO BOMB). We then headed back to the room for a nap before dinner- a blissful afternoon and this resort is worth every penny.  5/5

The Oak Restaurant: After a much needed nap, we headed to dinner at an on-site restaurant called The Oak. When we checked in, we actually got the last reservation available for that evening- this place was poppin! Located right in the main area of the resort, this is an indoor/outdoor restaurant that offers sweeping views of the golf course and beautiful hills, also surrounded by amazing oak trees. We sat on the outdoor deck that had enough heaters to keep me warm without my jacket. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner and I was excited to find that a lot of their ingredients are sourced from their on-site garden. It’s a farm to table style menu. I ordered vegan enchiladas with black beans and sweet potatoes (they were also gluten free!) and Robb ordered the short ribs. Both of our meals were solid and we also just really enjoyed the ambiance (it’s also a dog friendly resort and we met some doodles!) I definitely recommend dining here if you ever stay at the resort- next time I want to try their breakfast! 4/5

DAY 3: Ojai- Pool Day

Day 3 we were committed to just relax. I woke up, used the on-site gym and grabbed a coffee. We then rented the bikes to ride around a bit and then headed to the adult pool called Indigo. This pool spot on the property also offers amazing views of the hills and has plenty of cabanas, lounge chairs and space to just chill.We ordered drinks, snacks and literally just laid out, swam and talked all day. The service was awesome and there were just great vibes all around. There are two other pools on the property- one at the spa (both a lap pool and tranquility pool) and another big pool where kids are allowed. We’re glad we chose here to hang out all day- it was just what we needed.

Topa Topa Brewing Co.:

Before dinner, we walked downtown to check out the shops and streets. We stumbled upon Topa Topa Brewing Co before our dinner reservation and decided to give it a try. It was crowded for a weeknight, but we found a spot at the hightop. I am not a big beer drinker but they had a gluten-free rice beer and seltzer options. I opted to sample a few since we were headed to dinner, but they were really good and the space was super trendy, open and had a lot of outdoor seating- you could tell there were a lot of locals. We will definitely be back – they also have a food counter inside the brewery that apparently has amazing food! 4/5

Osteria Monte Grappa: For dinner, we decided to try a local Italian spot. We had heard great things about this place. It definitely has a casual vibe and is located in an old building that used to be a supermarket with a patio in the back- you can immediately tell this building has been around since the early 1900’s. The menu has something for everyone- pizza, pasta, SO many awesome salads (must try more of them), vegan options, gluten-free options and so on. I was STOKED! They have cocktails and wine too. We shared two salads (SO FRESH) and Robb ordered a pizza and pasta (classic) and I ordered a vegan pesto spaghetti squash. All of the food was incredible- fresh, tasty and we are already planning on what we will order when we come back lol. There is another fine dining Italian restaurant in town too, but if you’re looking for a casual option with incredible food at an even better price point, this is your spot. Our waiter was also super sweet and we had a great time! 5/5

DAY 4: Ojai Spa Day 

Our last and final day we hit up the spa for a massage and this experience was nothing short of amazing. If you do get a chance to come to this hotel, do not miss the spa!! Even if it’s just for a pedicure….the amenities are incredible. There is a pool with healthy food, and men and women’s locker rooms with hot tubs, sauna, steam room, cold pool, and much more. All of it was amazing, including the massages (I got a basic Swedish massage and Robb got a deep tissue). The massages are accompanied with fresh fragrances of lavender and citrus from the valley and it is exquisite. We were in heaven and after our massages, just hung by the pool trying to delay our departure for as long as possible. We wish we were staying another 4 days! 5/5

All in all, Ojai was just a GREAT trip and we can’t WAIT to go back (legit want to get married here!!) Highly recommend checking it out and considering it for a great, quick trip if your local to Southern California. If you have any questions or are heading that way, let me know. You will love it. Pink approved.

Honesty Hour: Anxiety

I originally wrote this back in 2017 – like a diary entry, it was cool to look back on but I made some tweaks to share in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. <3

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His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy 

There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti 

He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready.

It’s almost like Eminem just KNEW how to explain anxiety in this lil rap. Except I’ve never hurled up spaghetti (knock on wood). 

Welcome to HONESTY HOUR! It’s like happy hour, minus the cocktail, friends, and ordering one drink too many. (Jk, still drinking while I write this). This is where I will be discussing interesting, taboo topics, or just being honest, ya know? 

So here it goes: Anxiety

I have anxiety. A lot of it!

Now, I feel like this is a common statement today with society’s increased openness on mental health. A lot of people throw this word around, but what does it even mean? According to anxiety.org, “anxiety disorders are characterized by a general feature of excessive fear (i.e. emotional response to perceived or real threat) and/or anxiety (i.e. worrying about a future threat) and can have negative behavioral and emotional consequences”. There are manyyyy types of anxiety. But I won’t go too much into that. For more information on types, check out anxiety.org.

For me, anxiety used to completely cripple my life. I consider myself to be a smart, somewhat logical human, yet I somehow experienced chaotic, unreasonable thoughts that ultimately led me to experience severe anxiety attacks. For me, anxiety initially came on whenever I felt a weird sensation because I had suffered from a collapsed lung when I was a teenager (story for another post). It could’ve been something as simple as a muscle spasm or even my heart rate increasing during a test or just pure stress, and my body responded with madness. This same feeling began to occur in other moments too. And I wish I knew the impact that event would have on my life before it started to take over my well-being. 

My anxiety attacks were often characterized by a fast heartbeat to the point where I felt like I was having a heart attack. My already awful vision would go even blurrier. My chest would tighten up. I’d feel like I couldn’t breath. My body would go numb and it felt like it was tingling. All of this led to tears and pure paranoia that I was about to die.

As I write this today, I laugh because it sounds so unreasonable. How could something trigger my body to do this to me? People would tell me I was being dramatic or that I was crazy. Some friends thought I was experiencing something more concerning than the reality of the situation. My boyfriend at the time would relentlessly hold me and try to calm me down. I had more than two ER hospital visits that led to “stress disorder” diagnoses. I began to feel like this wasn’t normal and that maybe I didn’t have to try and navigate this on my own (but of course, I did for many years). 

There became a point where this cycle began to affect my whole life. I began to not feel like myself. I began to withdraw from social activities. I was in college, where I was supposed to be carefree, learning and having the time of my life. And I was, but I had moments where I would completely isolate myself. I wouldn’t want to enjoy an adult beverage due to the fear of losing control over my thoughts/body. My coping mechanism with anxiety sadly led to even more damaging behavior with disordered eating. Food and exercise felt like the only two things I could control. I finally reached rock bottom when my doctor told me she was concerned about me- I had a dangerously low BMI and I was already a small person. I had been complaining of chest pain and was going to her almost bi-weekly convinced I had ailments. She recommended and insisted I get help. It was at that moment I realized I wanted to not feel like I was walking on eggshells 24/7, to purely avoid anxiety or brace for each moment I would experience it. I let it completely control me. 

It’s sad it took me reaching rock bottom to realize I needed help, but I know many can likely relate. With the support of friends and family, I finally recognized I couldn’t overcome this alone. This was the first step to recovery. I had been so adamant that I was fine and that this was just the way it is. Needing help seemed so pathetic and weak to me. I was still getting good grades, had awesome friends, but deep down, I knew I needed to change and deserved it. 

So in 2014, I walked into a psychologist’s office in college and later a psychiatrist. I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD due to my collapsed lung and advised to take medication. I felt ashamed that I was told to take a drug and was SO reluctant, but finally decided to give it a chance because I had truly no idea how else to get better. And I am so glad I did. 

Seven years later, I can’t even remember the last time I experienced a paralyzing anxiety attack. Anxiousness still lingers, but I no longer fear the sensation of a muscle spasm, and now know how I can take better control when I sense something uncomfortable. I finally feel free to go out and be social, knowing I won’t get anxious in the middle of an event. I now no longer even take medications. I learned through therapy and my support system on how I can better manage my anxiety. And, more than anything, I now understand the strength it takes to finally take control over your life. I was never weak. I was only taking steps to get stronger. 

What’s my point with this honesty hour? Ask for help. Your mental health is SO important and I first hand know how it can truly affect your life. But it is equally as important to never fear asking for help, despite your pride, existing stigmas or what others might think about you. Who cares? Like seriously…probably not many people other than your friends/family. 

Point is- you have control over your life. No one else does. You’re not stuck. No one is standing in the way of your success, other than you. I really wish someone had told me that. Sometimes, you’re not choosing to feel depressed or anxious or whatever crippling emotion you may feel. That’s important to recognize too. But it is also critical that you recognize you can take steps to create change. You are your own power and support along the way ignites that power. 

So even if your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, you can take control of your own life. Be open to help and know that you are not alone in your journey with mental health. I am always here to chat. I’d love to hear from some of you (you can email me at alexandrarosepink@gmail.com). 

Lose yourself, in the music, this moment, you own it. 

If you need help, click here for resources for anxiety provided by the American Counseling Association 

Pink’s Picks: Workout Edition

Happy Wednesday! This Pink’s Pick is all about my current work out favs. If you know me, you know I am a litttttle into working out…. I love it all- yoga, Pilates, spin, you name it. It just gets my mind right and I always feel so much better after any type of movement. And now that SO many more workout studios are opening up, I wanted to share my current go-to’s when it comes to hitting up a studio class or any movement in general. I will still take advantage of home workouts on the Peloton with my boy Cody Rigsby (and the fact I can wear a pathetic high school t-shirt and old shorts to get sweaty with no one watching) however, I truly have missed the energy of group fitness in a studio. I am sharing my picks by category- leggings, tops, accessories– can’t go wrong with adding any of these items to your wardrobe…even if you don’t work out! (Click the photos to shop!)

LEGGINGS

Vuori Rib Studio Leggings

This won’t be the last time I mention Vuori….I am THAT OBSESSED. Seriously love how comfortable these leggings are and are perfect for Pilates and yoga or really any workout where you get sweaty and need flexibility. I also love the terracotta color (added to my cart!) and they have a matching sports bra too! They run true to size and are my new favorite find when it comes to workout leggings. 

Lululemon Wunder Train

There are so many legging options at Lululemon, it can be overwhelming to navigate. When it comes to a hard, sweaty workout, the wunder under trains are my absolute favorite. Whether I am running, going to spin, yoga sculpt, or HIIT, I always find myself grabbing for these. They’re super high waisted, sweat resistant, and keep everything tight and in but not constraining (they always have fun new colors.) These are my most worn leggings for sure (make sure you wash them in cold water!) I prefer the 25’’ and I am 5’4 and I always opt for a size 2.

TOPS

Alo Stadium Half Zip Hoodie

I typically workout in a crop top or sports bra depending on how hot and sweaty the work out is but I always need something to throw on before and after. My favorite pullover has always been the Alo Stadium Half Zip Hoodie. It’s cute, flattering and cozy for on the go or just lounging. They always have great colors too and it’s perfect for summer!

Lululemon Energy Bra

A good sports bra can always make or break a workout– especially in public. My go to has always been the Energy Bra from Lululemon. It has great coverage, fun detailing on the back and always comes in the best colors. I love wearing it on its own or under a simple top (I love these Amazon workout tops- super cheap and also work great during a workout!) I always grab for this sports bra and never need an excuse to buy a new one!

ACCESSORIES 

SLIP Silk Scrunchie

I always have to have my hair up during a workout. I have fine hair but a lot of it and the silk scrunchies are my favorite. They’re definitely pricier but worth it. They don’t pull on the hair and I can use them when I am sleeping too! I always grab mine from Nordstrom and love the thin versions too. 

Adidas Hat

I love a good simple hat, especially during a HIIT workout or anything outdoors. This Adidas hat is a must have and I love to keep it simple with the white and black. It’s lightweight, fits my small head (very adjustment) and super reasonable $