Coconut Chip Acai Bowl Recipe + NYC Update

Hi loves! Coming at you live from NYC today, and woah baby do I have a lot to share! First off, I’m up at the crack of dawn in my hotel room typing this puppy out because I have a full day of meetings ahead and this will prob be my only computer time all day. But I couldn’t let too many days pass without a blog post, because, well… you guys are my life.

For starters, I’m just going to give you a lil’ breakdown of yesterday: woke up, went to JUICE PRESS (one of my fav juice places in the city that I’ve missed oh so much), mosied over to my literary agency, HELD MY BOOK in MY HANDS for the first time ever (well, the preliminary copies at least), met with my fab agent Sarah and her boss about some cool writerly stuff, headed uptown to go to Seventeen Mag to discuss the book with them and give them a copy, ran into one of my idols Kathryn Budig in the lobby (do you believe in fate? I do!!!), went to the yummiest lunch at a place called the Little Beet with Sarah, cram packed the afternoon with back to back meetings, met the lovely PR gal for DRINKmaple (part of my giveaway!!!) to snap some photos, went to a Vegan Beauty Affair (basically all-natural beauty party) with my friend Melisse of Well+Good NYC, met one of my BFFs later for a drink, and shared my book with a handful of awesome, incredible, influential and healthy rockstar individuals. Oh, and continued my cycle of never sleeping – hehe.

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Hangin’ at Seventeen Mag- Breaking Vegan + the Biebs! Good combo?!

Kathryn Budig & I in the lobby of the Heart Building! Fate at its finest!

Kathryn Budig & I in the lobby of the Heart Building! Fate at its finest!

So now, before I run off to today’s lineup of meetings (equally as exciting as yesterday’s — and maybe another fateful run-in will go down?!?!) I want to share a delicious recipe with you as well as a FANTASTIC brand I stumbled upon that I absolutely have to tell you all about. Are you guys coconut chip fans? I mean, I know a lot of you are… but if you haven’t tried this brand yet and you are iffy about coconut chips, you are going to be a convert immediately.

The company is called Made In Nature and basically their toasted coconut chips are crack in a bag. The flavors I tried that I obsessed over were Maple Madagascar Vanilla, Mexican Spiced Cacao, Italian Espresso and Ginger Masala Chai. I’m not even joking when I say that my stomach is rumbling just thinking about them — and it doesn’t help that I am starving right now to boot!

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Made in Nature’s promise is that they create REAL food with REAL flavor because why not? That’s what we all deserve, and flavor certainly does not have to be sacrificed just because we are committing to healthy, natural, fresh, organic, sustainable ingredients. No sugar added, no artificial color, no gluten, no nuts (yay for food allergy peeps) and no GMOs. My kind of company.

There are so many yummy things you can do with coconut chips, but other than eating them right out of the bag by the handful (because trust me, you will eat HANDFULS… there’s just no other way it’s going to be done with these crack chips), I like to put them on top of smoothies, yogurt and acai bowls. Today I’m sharing one of my favorite acai bowl recipes with you… I hope you love! And don’t forget to visit Made In Nature‘s site, give them some love and try their stuff. It’s too good not to.

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Coconut Chip Acai Bowl Recipe:

1 ripe banana

1 packet of frozen acai (or 2 tablespoons of acai powder)

1 tablespoon plant-based protein powder (I like to have protein in my acai bowls to balance out the natural sugars and keep me fuller longer)

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 cup water

Blend!

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IMG_1316Do yourself a major favor & try this yumminess! Acai bowls + coconut chips + fruits + almond milk… Super food deliciousness galore! YES!

Any NYC requests or suggestions while I am here?! These are my old stomping grounds, but ALWAYS open to suggestions and ideas for things to do / places to try — this is my Disneyland! I am in love. 

What Is Orthorexia, Anyway?

Last week I wrote an article for Refinery29 about my battle with orthorexia. It’s not something you guys haven’t heard before, especially if you’ve been following me since the beginning (my first post ever! Wow). And just as much so if you’ve been following since my transition from veganism.

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But still, even though I write about it a lot and I live it every day, I still learn new things about orthorexia every time I write a piece and put it out there on the Internet. My Refinery29 article got reposted on TIME Magazine, Yahoo Health & The Huffington Post; meaning that there is a major hunger for knowledge out there about the disorder and the impact that its beginning to have. The R29 article got almost 200 comments — some of which were super negative (of course) but many of which were wonderfully inquisitive, supportive and insightful.

Some people used analogies that blew even me away! One lovely reader wrote:

“It’s kind of like how some people can watch calories and not become anorexic, while for others counting calories leads to a fast spiral into a deadly obsession. I used to be anorexic, so I know that quantifying food doesn’t work for me. But I know a lot of people who can do programs like weight watchers (where food is quantified into points) and maintain a healthy lifestyle.” -R29 reader.

I LOVE that analogy, because it puts very simply what I have been saying for a long time and explains it in a way that is relatable to many more people than just the people who can relate to orthorexia and food extremes. I think anyone would be lying if they said they had never counted calories, or toyed with the idea of doing so, a day in their life — and if you haven’t, then bravo! I want to live in your brain, hehe.

So of course, many people can count calories and use that as a tool to stay on top of their weight and make healthy, balanced choices and live a life of moderation. Others of us (myself included) cannot and should not count calories, because for the super extreme of us there is no “Oh, I’ll cut back here since I had a brownie earlier…” and instead, the numbers begin to mean everything and it becomes a competition with ourselves about cutting back, living pure, eating clean/whole foods.

Same with orthorexia. You can be vegan and not develop an eating disorder. You can also be vegan and take it too far. There are a million and one different places you can fall on the spectrum. If you take my story and view it as a manifesto against veganism, then you are just projecting your insecurities with the diet onto me, because I have nothing against veganism as a whole and I never have.

I just want people to listen to their bodies and feel amazing! That’s all I want. I was unable to do that as a plant-based vegan, but it doesn’t mean that everyone who tries it will be unable to.

I know orthorexia is a tricky thing for people to understand. “Is it an eating disorder?” “Is it OCD related?” “Is it a personality thing?” “Is it just a cry for attention for someone who just got a little obsessed with eating TOO healthy?” “Is there a recovery process?” “How can you get help?” “Is there a major weight loss involved?” “What did you EAT, anyway?”

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If you want to learn more about orthorexia, how to deal with it, where its origins started, how to get help, etc., then I highly recommend checking out Dr. Steven Bratman’s website orthorexia.com. Dr. Bratman has been a real source of inspiration and guidance for me coming out of my eating disorder. He wrote the Foreword of my book (!!!!) and, as it stands, he is the one and only person who has read the book entirely through. (Yeah, I’ve been a crazy person about letting nearly anyone read it – not even my parents have seen it yet!) His support of the book and my journey means the world to me. I am honored to have his wise words as the first four pages of the book!

Did I mention that he invented the word orthorexia?

Yeah, he knows what he’s talking about. I’m going to be doing a Q&A with him on the blog soon, so send in any specific questions about orthorexia you might have so I can be sure to ask him!

And speaking of the book, I simply cannot wait to share it with all of you. You can preorder it here and if you preorder in the next three days, you will be eligible for all of the rad swag I am giving away – just email me your purchase receipt so I can enter you!

But other than waiting until the book comes out in November, I will of course be here writing away, and so will Steven, and so will many other awesome, likeminded individuals who want you to be the HEALTHIEST, happiest version of yourself. To take a quote from Dr. Bratman’s website… “Don’t try to be perfect. Try to be whole.”

In other news, I am headed to NYC tomorrow. Can’t wait to be back in my spirit city. Yippee!

How to Get Bikini Bod Ready, TBB Style

So, summer’s just around the corner, which means that the cyber world is running wild with articles about the magic steps to achieving the perfect, toned, tanned summer body. Oftentimes these steps include juice cleansing, uber intense workout routines, tons of hydration, cutting carbs/sugar, ab exercises, “detox” teas, hydrating fruits, diet pills/supplements, lots of sleep and so much more…

But I’m here to tell you that you need one thing and one thing only to get bikini ready this summer. Are you ready for this? The secret to your perfect summer bod and your perfect year-round bod… *drum roll, please*

Confidence.

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What?! That simple?! Something that comes from within, and not a diet/meal delivery service/workout/magic pill?! Yep, really. Your perfect summer body comes from one place and one place only: right there inside your beautiful, strong, honorable mind.

But I am also willing to take it one step further than that. I’m not just telling you that if you change your mindset you will see a different person standing in front of you than the one you see now. I’m telling you that if you change your mindset, there will be a different person standing in front of you. When you hold your body with poise, confidence, love and acceptance, you radiate beauty from the inside out.

When you slump over, tug at your clothes, avoid eye contact, or avoid situations because of your own body image you emit an energy that is not quite so lovely to be around. We’ve all been there, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, because it takes being at that point in order to find the strength within us and the tools to knock the self-deprecation and start embracing our bods for exactly what they are… OURS! Our very own. Our bodies are our vessels for the lives that we live, and they are so kind to us even when we treat them pretty terribly and tell them that they suck.

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I also know that there are a lot of you reading who want to find that inner confidence but don’t know exactly where to look. The truth is, it’s so much more simple to find and harness than we think it is. Once we start viewing our bodies as something we love and are grateful for, it’s so much easier to treat ourselves with kindness and forgiveness, and to start viewing our bods as AWESOME and gorgeous rather than imperfect.

Take me for example: I am a complete perfectionist. When I was in the midst of my eating disorder, I found that my body always seemed completely flawed in my eyes, because I was holding myself to a ridiculously high standard that didn’t even make sense. Because of that, I was being unkind to myself every single day. Instead of making good choices for my body, I continuously made bad ones (like not eating enough) because at the end of the day what mattered to me was how I looked over how I felt. I never felt good! I felt starving and deprived and exhausted.

Then, recently (very recently), I discovered something that has kinda sorta been my key to happiness and confidence.

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I stopped caring about anything else other than how I FEEL. I learned to ask myself: How does my body feel, in this present moment, in every present moment, and how can I continue to nourish it and help it feel great so I can radiate health and happiness from the inside out?

I like to do yoga everyday. And if not yoga, then I like to exercise in some capacity every day. I can’t do that properly if I don’t fuel my body with foods that energize me. I also can’t do it properly if I eat things that don’t make me feel good.

For that reason, I choose to nourish myself with foods that make me FEEL good and make me perform at my best. And when I am able to do that, I feel strong and in control. When I feel that way… It makes it pretty hard to get down on myself and to not be confident about my body.

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When I feel good about the choices I’m making for my body, I love the person I see in the mirror! I am proud to show my body in a bikini – because I am proud of the way that I take care of my body, and I am so grateful for all that this body does for me. My body has forgiven me for the poor choices I’ve made in the past… And to have a healthy relationship and love my body in return is the only natural choice.

Treat your body like it’s your BFF. Your love. Would you tell your best friend that she is ugly and looks like crap, or isn’t good enough for any reason? Hellll no! So you certainly shouldn’t say those things to yourself.

To embrace my body this summer season (and every season!) I’ve teamed up with L*Space swimwear and La Vie Boheme Yoga to do a few things I love in the place I love most: yoga, on the beach, accepting my body and loving it for everything that it is and everything that it will be. Me.

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Who’s with me? Let’s love ourselves this summer season and always. If you relate to anything I’m saying in this bloggy post, I think you should pre-order my book Breaking Vegan… It’s going to be a whole lot of stuff like THIS! November. Can’t come soon enough!
And if you like my swimsuits in this post, check out L*Space and their fab summer collection. For the killer printed yoga mats, check out La Vie Boheme Yoga. They both rock.

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Two things I care VERY much about: being ACTIVE & being SAFE!

Happy Thursday, my loves! What an exciting week it’s been — I’ve been working on the final round of edits for Breaking Vegan (!!!), finalizing the free eBook you will all get for preordering the memoir, collaborating with some of my favorite people on upcoming projects, having the chance to update the bloggy every day (I love weeks like that), filmed a Q&A YouTube video, annndd tonight I am hosting a fun meet & greet smoothie event at Live Beaming!

I am super excited to share today’s post with you, because it’s about TWO things I care veryyy much about: A) how living a healthy, active lifestyle has empowered me to overcome personal struggle (my eating disorder among other things) and take control of my life. B) about educating women on safety & sexual assault (you’ll see why I am so passionate about this once you read on…!)

I have teamed up with the awesome fitness brand Swoob and #1 pepper spray company Sabre to talk about why my healthy lifestyle AND empowering women to prioritize safety are both hugely important to me… and why I want that for all of you, too!

Swoob3The lifestyle and mission of Swoob immediately caught my attention, because their main goal is to help women harness our inner goddess power (hell yeah!) by way of providing comfortable, versatile activewear clothing that enables us to live an active lifestyle – that you’ll see me rocking in this post. Sports bra, pants & top! And let me be the first to tell you that living an active lifestyle isn’t all about getting our cardio on and burning calories – it’s about finding an exercise routine that works for us so that we can be the happiest, healthiest version of ourselves.

I for one have dabbled in a LOT of different types of exercises and workouts before settling on my go-to favorites. And even now that I know what I love, I am still always open to trying new workouts and new places because sometimes a new gym/fitness studio/trainer/practice will take my breath away and I’ll wish I’d known about it all along! Plus, I love working out with friends so sometimes it’s fun to try something new that they love, and then I take them to a place that I love to do a workout that is already a part of my routine.

No matter what, at the end of each day, my go-to workouts are YOGA (all types) interspersed with some kind of running or high intensity interval training. I’ve talked about this a lot lately, but it’s hard for me to get over the fact that yoga is such an integral part of my life, and I actually worry about where I’d be / who I’d be without it. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of yoga all serve to recharge me, keep me strong and keep me SANE. I have been back into doing it every day lately, and my goal for while I am traveling over the next month and a half (starting next week!) is to stick with my daily practice no matter how busy my schedule gets. Yoga is so important to me, and it helps me maintain that empowered feeling over my body that I love so much.

Swoob2I have also recently been named the inaugural ambassador of Orange Theory Fitness in Brentwood, which is one of the most thrilling things fitness-wise that I have ever been involved with! OTF is an hour-long HIIT workout, and aside from single handedly training me for the half-marathon I ran in March, I have met so many incredible people in that space and community who inspire me to remain on top of my game when it comes to health and fitness. Surrounding myself with healthy, like-minded people is probably my favorite part of living a super active lifestyle.

I also wanted to make sure I participated in this campaign with Swoob and SABRE, because SABRE’s goals to generate awareness and educate women on safety and sexual assault are HUGELY important to me. Ready? Story time.

You all know that my mom is my very best friend in the world, and I have no idea what on earth I would do without her presence in my life day in and day out. When she was 19 years old, she was living in Los Angeles with a roommate, and she noticed a man following her at a distance when she was walking into her big apartment building one night. He was far enough away at first that she didn’t think much of it, but when she kept going up the stairs and he kept following her, she started to get a little worried. By the time she reached her door he full on attacked her — he held a gun to her head and told her she needed to come with him.

My mom, being the fiercely strong (yet very reserved and insanely calm in her regular life) woman that she is, fought and screamed and refused to go with him. She said that she would have rather died than go wherever he planned on taking her, and she stood her ground.

By the grace of GOD the attacker was scared off by her loud screams, knowing that someone would have come out and caught him before he could get her all the way back down to the parking lot.

My mom was lucky enough to get by unscathed, but the rest of the man’s victims were not so lucky. He went on to rape and injure over a dozen women over the course of the next several months… and the main reason my mom was able to escape him was because she was his first victim and he didn’t fully know what he was doing yet. FREAKY that he then developed such a strong routine that no one was able to get away from him.

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SO, naturally, because I have grown up hearing that story and it gives me chills all over my body to think that something awful could have happened to my mom, such an innocent and amazing person, I am super passionate about educating women on safety and sexual assault. I grew up ALWAYS paying major attention to my surroundings because of the story my mom ingrained in me… and I want the same for everyone reading.

Hopefully we can all learn from what she and so many others have been through, and stay as SAFE, healthy, happy and empowered as we possibly can. Taking care of our bodies extends into safety just as much as it does into fitness and caring for our health and wellness.
It’s time to harness our inner goddess powers, YEAH?!

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I know you are all super strong, amazing women, OR you are a super strong amazing dude who has a wonderful woman (or several!) in your life. Let’s spread the word, and live the best lives we can.

So… time to get your workout on and buy some pepper spray! I know this wasn’t my most uplifting post in the world, but if it helps even one single person maintain a safe and active life- then I am a happy camper. If you’re further interested in Swoob x SABRE‘s campaign to bring awareness to safety and sexual assault, check out their video here.

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Lots of love! Have a great Thursday, my boos!

The Coolest New Workout App + Gear You’ve Ever Heard Of…

Okay, woah. As of last month when I tried this incredibly cool gear + app combo I feel like I’ve been let in on a little secret about the next evolution in athletic performance… annnddd I’m not just saying that.

To be honest, when I showed up to try Athos athletic gear I wasn’t entirely sure what I was walking into. “Is this a workout?” “Is this a clothing fitting?” “Is this a meeting?” “Maybe I should have read the email more carefully before showing up…”

Upon asking my first couple of questions about it (post- getting very lost in the parking garage on the way in) I quickly realized I was in for a serious workout with celeb trainer Grant Roberts at his Granite Gym in Beverly Hills – and not just that, I was going to be wearing workout gear that used sensors touching my skin on the inside of the pants to determine my muscle activity, heart rate, breathing, reps, balance, form and more.

Hello, I am the balanced blonde, right?! I thought I had that whole understanding balance thing down. But not quite.

We started with some simple squats, jumps and walking up and down the stairs to calibrate the system. There is a little Bluetooth chip that clips into the Capris connecting to an app that functions as the “brain” of the operation. The chip then reports back to the mobile phone app, showing you how hard your muscles are working by lighting up different colors in the areas where you are working the hardest.

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Right when we started doing some legwork they pointed out to me that my right leg was working harder than my left, so the trainer told me to concentrate on evening them out. It took intense concentration and physical work, but my next few reps showed that I was balancing because I was focusing on making it happen.

Then, funny enough, in another type of leg exercise my left leg was doing more work than my right! But this time it was my quad and glute working instead of my thigh, meaning that I have probably been overcompensating with certain muscles as opposed to others for a long time.

…What?! News to me! I swear doing yoga nearly every day for 10 years would have proven otherwise, but that just goes to show that we all have a lot to learn about our bodies.

What I loved the absolute most about Athos was that it helped me get further in tune with my body while I was working out. Every new exercise showed me a new area I could improve upon, and I also couldn’t help but think that if I had had this gear during my half marathon training and the race itself, I could have avoided some ankle wear and tear because I could have concentrated on where I was overcompensating and where I needed to let up.

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Posing with Jake from Athos + Grant from Granite Gym post-workout!

The other thing I really liked about it was that although the workout was relatively short and we only focused on legs, I was so sore for literally DAYS ON END and I also felt like I had made the most of that short period of time because I was really, really working my muscles. How many times have we all gone to the gym or into a yoga class and just gone through the motions?

Too many times! I know I have, at least.

Also how many times have we tried a specific workout and stuck with it even though we hated it and didn’t feel any positive changes in our body just because we knew / heard it worked for someone else? “Jennifer Aniston does yoga all the time and has a killer body, therefore I will do yoga all the time and look just like her.”

Unfortunately my lovers that’s not the way it works! She knows what works for her body (clearly!!!) and in the same vein we all need to learn what works for our bodies. I am a huge proponent of anything that helps us get to know ourselves better so that we can feel our best and be as confident as we can in our own skin. And of course we want to be as healthy and active as we can in the safest and most enjoyable way.

One of Athos’ main principals is: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin. I love that quote and it goes directly back to my philosophy that knowledge is power… especially when it comes to our own bodies! Being in the dark about what makes us feel good versus what doesn’t make us feel good is the main reason so many people have a hard time finding what works best for them.Hello, booty! Here's the Athos app in action!

Hello, booty! Here’s the Athos app in action!

Athos has created a new way of delivering sports performance technology to the masses that has previously been reserved for only elite athletes – and let me tell you, we all need/deserve it! It will fit into your existing routine because all you have to do is A) wear their pants and B) have your smart phone with you, which we all know you would do anyway while working out!

If you want to learn more about Athos, head over to their website and check them out! I promise I am truly a huge proponent and would only lead you there if I truly believed in their mission, which I do. AND they are a Bay Area company… What uppp!!

Who’s into the idea of trying this?! Please say yes! I want you all to have the tools to know your body as well as you can and feel amazing in your own skin. Let’s do this!  

Want to Know How to Make My Favorite Green Smoothie?

WELL… If you’re an L.A. local, come to the event I am hosting with Live Beaming this Thursday, May 14th! I will be sharing a smoothie recipe from my book (the first time I will be giving ANY sort of sneak peek into my book… eek!), talking about the importance of superfoods in our diets, and hanging out with your awesome selves! Everyone in attendance will get to try the smoothies we make for free, and we will be giving away a One Day Reset Cleanse from Beaming on the day of the event! I will also be giving a TBV Apparel discount code to event-goers… because when do I not? 😉

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I didn’t just randomly decide to hold this event at Beaming, byyy the way. There is a reason I chose this magnificent spot for my first ever book-related event, and I feel that it is a super duper fitting place for what I am doing and for the message behind Breaking Vegan. For me, breaking veganism wasn’t just about the words that meet the eye — moving away from veganism. Incorporating more foods into my diet and moving away from dietary labels was a personal awakening for me and a profound, introspective journey that brought me back to being kind to my body and letting food be my medicine. It was about learning to be good to myself by eating a healthy diet but not taking it too far.

As for where Beaming fits in, their mission is to take the concept of “food is thy medicine” and translate that into an experience for the customer. We all have a responsibility to take control of our health, and that starts with where we eat, drink and think. Beaming provides yummy, healthy, nutrient-dense options all while creating an experience for everyone who enters into one of their cafes. The colors are bright, the people are beaming (imagine that!), you can tailor your smoothie/juice to the way that YOU want it (low-glycemic options, superfood add-ins, etc.) and because it’s so healthy it draws an awesome crowd of active, like-minded individuals.

The owner and founder of Beaming, miss Lisa Odenweller, is also a fantastic person who I love collaborating with. She was inspired to create the cafe after a talk she went to given by the fabulous Kris Carr (who you KNOW I love). She felt empowered to take control of her life by taking control of her health, and she wanted to share that with as many people as possible.

Hmmm, sounds familiar, yes? I write this blog, and I wrote my book, because I felt empowered to take control of my life through being kind to my body, and I wanted to share that with all of YOU! Say hi to the gorgeous Lisa below! beaming3Beaming has a delish plant-based menu with an impressive lineup of superfoods and innovative  combinations that make the best smoothies and juices around. I am an addict… they literally see me in there every day. That’s why I am super excited to have a relationship with them and to be hosting an event there!

When you feel good on the inside, it radiates on the outside. And that does not mean that you have to sacrifice flavor! In my book I want to show you that you can be healthy, eat delicious food, pack your body full of nutrients, feel amazing and fuel yourself to stay active without being restrictive or obsessive. Beaming has a very similar message, soooo we want to show you how much fun and how awesome being healthy can be.

Plus, I love meeting and hanging out with all of you. The event is going to be a super fun time.

To RSVP, send an email to heather.martin@livebeaming.com. If you have any Q’s, ask her or myself! SO excited to see you there if you are coming. The event is free! 

And for those of you who are not L.A. local… I will share the smoothie recipe, photo & step-by-step instructions on the bloggy the day after the event! Yippee!unnamedP.S. Have you checked out the awesome GIVEAWAY I am hosting for everyone who preorders in the next week? Hint: it involves Justin’s Nut Butter, THREE NutriBullets, DRINKmaple yumminess, CaliScrubs body scrub, a free SUJA cleanse and WAY MORE.

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PCtTZX6IM6N3insru9_Zc6S9T1oWVCEtKTWtYg3CuagTo enter the giveaway, simply preorder the book here & send your purchase receipt to thebalancedblonde@gmail.com. There are 10 gift baskets, but everyone who preorders will get the free recipe ebook when it is ready! And first 500 get a signed book plate. YAY.

Hope to see you at Beaming this Thursday!!!

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The PERFECT Protein Powder for Women (Yes, by Queen J. Lo)

Hi beauties! Did everyone have a good weekend? Mine was awesome. It started at the Apple Store where I finally got my new computer up & running (specifically exciting for my niece, since she is getting my old computer!) which is huuuugely awesome since I spend pretty much my whole life in front of this lil’ screen.

I hereby swear I will take VERY GOOD care of this laptop and will not overcrowd it with hundreds of thousands of photos or one million variations of the same document/download.

SWEAR.

Other than that, my parents came down to L.A. for the weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day, so I had such a nice weekend recharging with family. We had a bunch of fun family dinners, brunches, yoga seshes & lounge time. The best part was being able to celebrate my beautiful mama, who is my very best friend in the world. I say it a lot, and anyone who follows me on social media is well aware, but my mom is seriously my other half. I admire her more than anyone in the world, and her patience, selflessness, and beauty inside and out is something I strive to emulate each and every day.

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I think the COOLEST part of the weekend was being able to show my parents that MY BOOK (!!!!) is DEDICATED (!!!!) to THEM (!!!!). I have the very early stages of what the manuscript will look like in hard-copy form now, and while I still haven’t let anyone lay eyes on it (other than Steven Bratman & my editors) I let my parents peek at the dedication page so they could see that this book was largely made possible because of them. They encouraged me to chase my dreams from the youngest age onward, and they never told me I was crazy when those dreams continuously included writing books with no distinct and serious plans other than… “writing books”! Anddd look where we are now.

And speaking of Mother’s Day / inspiring women / women who kick ass in general… Have we ever talked about how freakishly obsessed I am with J. Lo? As in, Jennifer Lopez? As in, Jenny from the Block? (Lol, but really… whenever I am in the Bronx I sing that song and get weird looks. Ask Katie.)

BodyLab by J. Lo. “By Women, For Women”

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A few months ago I had the incredible opportunity to attend a media launch for BodyLab health and fitness formulas, hosted by none other than J LO herself. As you would imagine, she was just as glowing, poised, gracious and drop dead gorgeous in person as she is on stage, on TV and on the big screen. She walked into the event rocking a nude-colored ensemble, hair up, her skin bronzed and radiant, and she STOLE the crowd before she even opened her mouth. It was also clear once she started speaking that she was super passionate about the BodyLab products she endorses, even correcting the teleprompter and saying, “They say I like the vanilla best, but the chocolate is my favorite by far… Who wrote this?!” I died and fell even more in love with her.

And even though she rocks times a trillion, it wasn’t just J. Lo that won me over when it came to BodyLab products. First of all, I am always on the hunt for natural protein powders that aren’t full of creatine, additives, sugar, or funky ingredients that I’ve never heard of. I drink a lot of smoothies, and because I am so active I use a lot of protein powder. I can’t be putting scoops of “unknown” ingredients into my body every day… I have to trust what I am using, and I have been through a lot of trial and error on that front. (Especially after not being vegan anymore, since whey protein powders open up a whole new arena of trial and error!)

Since I am such a protein powder buff, my friends (and readers) often come to me asking which variations I recommend. It depends on your level of activity and the results you are going for, but a super safe and great option for WOMEN who are on the go, who are active, and who are passionate about being KIND to their bodies is BodyLab protein powder. These products are not about following a fad diet to find the magic answer to slimming down and toning up, it’s about changing your LIFESTYLE to live a happy, healthy life where you are kind to your body and make good choices on the daily.

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BodyLab doesn’t just have protein powders. They have a Slim Kit, a Shape Up Kit and different thermodynamic pre-workout extender supplements, joint formulas, etc. To see all of their products you can go here.

My favorite product of theirs is (you guessed it…!) the chocolate thermodynamic protein complex. I like the chocolate whey protein powder too. All of the products are backed by science that shows that they are the ultimate formulas for powerful fat burning, increased metabolic rate and enhanced energy specifically for women. Women store body fat at a much higher rate than met, whereby our fatty tissues act as a “sink” for fat storage. Their products are designed to switch a women’s body into fat-breakdown mode in order to preferentially burn away her body fat “sinks” and use them for fuel.

This helps us lose weight in the form of actual fat mass over lean body mass, all while increasing energy.

Awesome, right? Especially for us super active & on-the-go chicas. We KNOW J. Lo is active and a BUSY mama!

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If you are interested in BodyLab products, head over to their site and use the code “Tbv25″ to get 25% off all BodyLab products + free shipping!!!

And if you want to try the recipe that I made (one of my go-to smoothie recipes!), here it is:

Chocolate Blueberry BodyLab Shake:

1 banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup ice

2 scoops thermodynamic protein complex in Chocolate Decadence flavor

1 small handful spinach

Blend, & enjoy!

BodyLab2Have you ever tried BodyLab products? Are you going to? I highly recommend them for women who are interested in slimming down and toning up in a HEALTHY way. As J. Lo says, this is not a magic pill in a bottle. It’s not a fad. It’s a lifestyle.

Blue Apron Meal Delivery Service

Hi loves! This week has been absolute mayhem in TBB world — in all the best ways, of course. With the release of the Breaking Vegan book pre-sales, the giveaway I’m hosting for the book & the eBook I’m creating for everyone who pre-orders… I’ve been in book-centric la-la land for more days and hours than I can begin to explain. Also trying to maintain my social life (hello, balance!) and the bloggy in the process has been a challenge. And I am in the midst of planning my NYC trip, which is coming up in two short weeks. Yippee!

Since things have been so hectic around here, I have had to make some rules for myself that I am trying very hard to stick to:

  1. No making plans during the day unless they are 100% business related.
  2. Yoga every day, either early morning or late night (or sometimes middle of the day if I am feeling extra wild) because it keeps my anxiety at bay and is so necessary for my well-being!
  3. Cook more at home! It saves me so much time and money, especially when I am on a major time crunch like I have been lately.

So basically, as far as #3 goes, it was Blue Apron to the rescue this week! Have you heard of Blue Apron? It is a busy person’s DREAM… Especially a busy person who likes to cook and be healthy, but can’t be bothered (timing-wise) to grocery shop for all of the right ingredients, to research or create tasty and new recipes from scratch or someone who never seems to buy the right AMOUNT of ingredients for anything. Cough, cough: me. I am always left with an insane amount of leftovers that go to waste when I cook full-on meals on my own.

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It’s also awesome for people like me who were once vegan or vegetarian… Because all I really know how to cook super confidently in the kitchen are dishes that are plant-based. It’s true that I am branching out and getting more accustomed to making chicken, fish and sometimes even beef dishes for myself, but it’s still hard for me when I was so used to popping my veggies in the oven, boiling my quinoa, drizzling my lemon juice and calling it a day!

Blue Apron uses all farm-fresh ingredients and delivers them right to your doorstep in exactly the right proportions. You can choose from the 2-person plan (which I did, even though I was mainly cooking for myself so I just had one meal of leftovers for every dish which was awesome) or the family plan, if you are cooking for your fam bam (it’s perfect for a family of 4).

I had so much fun making the meals because not only is there a specific, detailed sheet for each recipe with ingredients, method and photos from start to finish, but there is also an intro letter that explains which chef has created the recipe, where they are from and a little bit of their background story. You know I LOVE a good background story, and I love to feel like I am getting to know someone even from afar, so that was a particularly cool aspect, I thought. This week’s special highlighted chef is Melissa Perello, Executive Chef & Owner of San Francisco’s Frances. As a fellow Northern California girl… I was so excited to learn more about her. Now I want to visit her restaurant next time I’m in the city!

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Each Blue Apron meal can be prepared in 40 minutes or less — for me, I found that each meal only took me about 25 minutes in total (score). The one that took me the longest was the chicken dish, and that’s only because the rice took about 20-25 minutes to boil and then I spattered the “Golden Mountain” sauce all over myself while it was on the stove but that was another story… and totally a typical #TBBdork moment.

If you want to try Blue Apron, the first 50 TBB readers who use this link will get two free meals on their first order with them!!! Awesome, right?! Thanks to Blue Apron for offering that killer deal.

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Salsa Verde for the Sirloin dish before I mixed it!

A couple recipes from their site that I have been dying to try are the Spring Miso Ramen and the Salmon Rolls. (Are you kidding me, with those salmon rolls?!?!? If I could actually make those well I would die of happiness.) To check out all of their recipes this season, click here.

The recipes that I made this week were Dukkah-Spiced Salmon with Spring Vegetables & Oyster Mushroom Ragout (a.k.a my favorite veggie on the planet. SO stoked when this one came to my door!), Sirloin Tip Steaks with Potato, Asparagus & Radish Hash, & Laotian Larb Gai with Sticky Rice, Peanuts & Mint.

Funny Sidenote: When I told my BFF Jill, who is MUCH more of a whiz in the kitchen than I am, that I was making a “Larb Gai” dish this week she thought I was talking about an actual GUY that I was cooking for and she was very intrigued. Sadly, not the case… Lol.

This is what actual Larb Gai looks like!!

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Head to the Blue Apron recipe page to get the recipes for each of these yummy dishes, and in the meantime, check out my photos from the experience!!!

Which one do you think would be your favorite? The salmon was my fav by far, and I knew it would be from the beginning because I am such a huge fan of both salmon and oyster shroomies. My second favorite was the chicken dish — so flavorful and yummy. Although watch out when this one is on the stove, because the “Golden Mountain” sauce might totally leap out at you, like it did to me!!!

All in all, Blue Apron made me feel like a total experienced chef this week and I loved it. If you follow me on Snapchat (at username jojoyounger!!), then you probably saw my photos and videos of me cooking all of this yumminess. I was very proud.

Here’s the yumminess I made this week…

Dukkah-Spiced Salmon:blueapron5Laotian Larb Gai:blueapron2Sirloin Tip Steak:blueapron4
P.S. the “celeriac” in the salmon recipe is something I absolutely fell in love with! It’s basically a turnip-rooted celery / knob celery with edible roots. Otherwise known as a root veggie. It has minimal sugar and is a good source of calcium and Vitamin K. I am so glad I discovered it via this recipe and will be using it in many more dishes and kitchen experiments from now on!

Which recipe of theirs looks best to you?! Seriously, you should order and get those two free meals… What a steal!

So, I’ve Been Crying Happy Tears All Day Because…

I am seriously blown away, one million times over, by all of the love and support you’ve all shown me in regards to the announce of my book’s pre-orders. I posted about the Breaking Vegan book pre-sale on Saturday, and in the last 48 hours I have heard from hundreds of you who have not only purchased the book (YAY!), but written to my email and said the nicest, most heartfelt & touching things about my story, my transition and my blog in general.

Seriously, you can ask my mom (hehe), because I keep forwarding some of the nicest emails to her since you all are so good to me you make me want to pinch myself to make sure all of this is real!!! Is it real? I still don’t fully believe it…

If you haven’t pre-ordered yet (which most people haven’t, since I posted about tit on Saturday and lots of people don’t check the Internet on Saturdays– unless you’re crazy like me – or AWESOME like a bunch of you!), you can do so here: Breaking Vegan Pre-Order!!!!

Also, within hours of my posting the book reached a #1 Best-Seller on Amazon in the “Vegan Diets” section, which I find ironic in so many ways — I mean, you all know why it made me giggle. But still PRETTY darn cool nonetheless!

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With the book cover & pre-sales finally out there into the world, I feel like I can really get a move on with what I am MOST passionate about: sharing this story with all of you, in hopes that it helps you find BALANCE and happiness in your own life. Whether that be balance through healing an eating disorder, balance in quitting a job you don’t like in order to follow your heart and live fully, balance to stop being so extreme in a certain area of your life (exercise! food! relationships!) or just balance in general in this crazy big jumbled but wonderful thing we call life.

ALSO, while I really wish that the book was available now– it is still publishing on November 1st. It’s just the way the publishing world works — but really November is right around the corner! That’s why I have developed lots and lots of cool things to keep you satisfied in the meantime, like: the Breaking Vegan GIVEAWAY (nine different prize baskets!!! read the post below to find out more), the FREE recipe ebook everyone gets for pre-ordering the book, the weekly email list specifically for everyone who pre-orders, annndd 500 signed book plates for the first 500 people who pre-order. (Yes, there are still spots! So pre-order for a personalized signed book plate from me!)

I am also Skyping with the first 10 awesome people who pre-ordered the book and emailed me. I can’t wait to see your shining faces!

Other than all that, I want to keep you all very updated on this journey via VIDEO & the bloggy. Send in any questions you might have for me about the book, and I will answer them in a Q&A video either tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on how many q’s roll in! Write them in the comments below, on my Instagram or email me. I will be on the lookout.

Keep talking to me!!! I have spent the whole entire day responding to emails from people who have pre-ordered, and I don’t want to stop now! I can’t possibly think of a more fun or amazing way to spend my Monday. :)

Lastly: This Just In!!! We are adding a 10th giveaway to the giveaway basket for people who pre-order, which is a month’s supply of SUJA JUICE! Order away, my lovies!!! (For a recap of the rest of the giveaway prizes, see post below! I will also be highlighting each prize over the next 2 weeks so you can learn all about them!)

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MY BOOK IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!!!! + Cover Reveal + HUGE Giveaway

Okay, so I have a huge announcement to make — so huge, in fact, that I am writing a blog post on a SATURDAY!!! Whaaatt?!?!

I was waiting for the VERY second to be able to share this with all of you in real time, and it’s finally here: Breaking Vegan, my debut memoir, is AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER. Before I go on, let me just hit you with this list so you can decide where you want to buy from (or all of the below, if you’re me or my family… Mom, did you hear that??), and then I’ll tell you more & all the SWEET STUFF you’ll get for preordering!!!

Amazon: Here

Barnes & Noble: Here

Indie Bound: Here

Indigo Books: Here

Bookish: Here

And here is the COVER, for the first time ever seen!!!! Cover photo by my main dude + forever partner in crime Tynan Daniels.
Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.51.48 PMFirst of all, seeing my book on an actual website like those listed above brings me to TEARS every time I think about it, because this book is my blood, sweat, tears, life, love child, heart and soul, dream come true, life story, innermost feelings, lifelong goal, boyfriend (lol, but really). all of the above and then some.

Secondly, I want you all to know what a H-U-G-E (and when I say huge, I mean massive) role you all played/are continuing to play in bringing this book to life. Without my blog readership and social media following (a.k.a YOU!!!), Fair Winds Press never would have found me, my agent Sarah at Sterling Lord Literistic never would have found me, and I would still be blogging away and hoping, wishing and yearning for a book deal… One day.

And to my great luck, surprise and THRILL, that day is actually now. Pinch me please.

Remember my excitement face the day I finished writing it?

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No one has read the book other than my editors & the sensationally inspiring doctor who invented the word “orthorexia” and so kindly agreed to write the Foreword for my book — and who I am now lucky to call a friend and a mentor. By signing up to pre-order, you will be among the first to read this book, get a glimpse into my life before the blog and interact with me about it ALL… I seriously think I will be sitting on top of my computer waiting for emails to interact with book readers because I will be feverishly awaiting discussion about it and feedback!

For a bit of background — the book is all about my transition from veganism, my eating disorder struggle, my recovery process and everything in between. It is a tale from the heart, and to say that I am BURSTING AT THE SEAMS excited to share it with all of you is a vast understatement.

The book publishes on November 1st, meaning that the earliest you will get the book is that date… But it is super important to pre-order! Then it will come RIGHT to your door on publishing day and you will get to enjoy without the wait and the hassle! And you get tons of awesome stuff from me for doing so. I very much want to make sure everyone who pre-orders has fun stuff to enjoy while they wait.

What You Get for Pre-Ordering!!!

– Everyone who pre-orders the book will receive a FREE 10 Recipe eBook (that I am currently working on and will be done in the next 2 weeks maximum) along with colorful food photos for each recipe. The layout of the eBook matches the layout of my book, so you do get a sneak peek into what’s to come — eek! All you need to do to receive the free eBook is pre-order the book and email me your purchase receipt! (My email = thebalancedblonde@gmail.com).

– Everyone who pre-orders and emails me will be put on a special book-related email list (if you WANT to be on it — this is not required at all, it’s just for fun) where I will send out weekly updates, recipes & “what I did this week” breakdowns! When the book releases, it will include all tour date info and will be the first and best place to get up-to-date and personalized information from me.

– The first 500 pre-orders who email me will get a signed book plate with an individualized message from yours truly! Basically a signed copy of the book but even better, because you’ll get these book plates SOON!

– The first 10 people to order & email me their receipt will get a 20-minute Q&A Skype session with me talking about/asking any questions or topics that you want!

– Everyone who pre-orders has a guaranteed spot on the list for my first book signing in Los Angeles in November. Even if you live too far to come, hopefully the book plate / eBook / newsletter will hold you over until I come to your city — where you then have a guaranteed spot on the list!

GIVEAWAY!!!

I am also hosting a HUGE giveawayfor everyone who pre-orders the book! Are you ready for this…?! This giveaway is so big and exciting that organizing it for the last few days has been a full-time job in itself. Because I love you guys that much and want you to have exciting stuff while we wait for the book countdown.

If you pre-order the book & email me your purchase receipt, you will be automatically entered to win one of these nine fabulous prize baskets! The contest will be open for 2 WEEKS, and if you include in the email why you’d like to win, that will help me decide who to choose!

* BONUS POINTS for hashtagging #breakingveganbook on your social media photos and reposting the BOOK COVER PHOTOS!

* For the GRAND PRIZE only, you must also post the cover photo of the book on social media hashtag #breakingveganbook, telling your friends/followers to pre-order! You can also post a selfie instead of the book cover, or a photo collage of the giveaway items. The hashtag is the most important part!

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GIFT BASKETS FOR BOOK PRE-ORDERS:

Grand Prize (More than $550 total in product!): A pair of Lululemon pants, a NutriBullet blender, a 16-pack of Pitaya Plus packets, a case of Bai antioxidant infusion, a jar of Justin’s maple almond butter, Justin’s dark peanut butter cups, 1 box of Peanut Butter RxBars, a bottle of VEEV VitaFrute (organic vodka), a box of Nourish Snacks, a CaliScrub facial scrub, a large bag of Philosophie Superfoods Green Dream powder, prAna E.C.O Yoga Mat, Bison Bacon Cranberry EPIC Bars & Sample Pack of EPIC Bites, 1 large tub of VEGA Protein Powder, 1 TBV Apparel tee of your choice, a box of Liquid IV healthy hydration supplement

Prize #2 + #3 (Same Prize Items for each): A NutriBullet blender, a 16-pack of Pitaya Plus packets, a case of Bai antioxidant infusion, a jar of Justin’s maple almond butter, Justin’s peanut butter cups, 1 box of Coconut RxBars, a 4-pack of Clean Energy RUNA tea, a bottle of VEEV VitaFrute (organic vodka), a box of Nourish Snacks, a CaliScrub facial scrub, a small bag of Philosophie Superfoods (flavor of your choice), prAna E.C.O Yoga Mat, 4 most popular EPIC bars + a bag of EPIC bites, 1 large tub of Vega Protein Powder, 1 TBV Apparel tee of your choice, a box of Liquid IV healthy hydration supplement

Prize #4: “A LuluLemon Experience With Jordan” (So fun!!) — The opportunity to come into the Brentwood, Los Angeles Lululemon store and try on the latest and greatest Lulu trends! Jordan (me) will hang with you and help you decide what to get, and you will go home with a brand new free outfit! Killer prize, in my opinion. Plus a prAna E.C.O Yoga Mat!

Prize #5: A Lovin’ Summer beach tent — basically the coolest thing around, and it’s 99% UV protective. If you live by the beach or are going on a beach vacation this summer… This is your prize.

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Prize #6 + #7: The Beauty Basket! A pack of Sunology sunscreen, a case of Cate McNabb Cosmetics & Hello Hair product

Prize #8 + #9: The Hydration Basket! VEEV VitaFrute organic vodka + mason jar, a case of Bai antioxidant infusion drink, DRINKmaple 12-bottle case of maple hydration beverage (so yummy), case of RUNA tea, Liquid IV healthy hydration supplement

Cool giveaway, right?!?!

I am just so freakishly excited to share this book with you, and I want to make sure that while we will patiently wait (or not so patiently if you’re ANYTHING like me) for the November 1st publishing date that we have lots of fun and awesome swag / interaction to hold us over.

Recap: Pre-order the book from any of the outlets listed above & email me your purchase receipt, and you will get:

  • a FREE 10 recipe eBook with food photos in the same beautiful/awesome layout + design of the book!
  • access to an exclusive weekly email list with me where you will get book updates, “what I did this week” updates & healthy recipes! (if you want — this is of course optional)
  • guaranteed access to my very first book signing in November
  • the opportunity to get a signed book plate with a personalized message from me (first 500 emails I get will get this!)
  • the opportunity to win a 20-minute Skype session with me (fun!!!)
  • the opportunity to win one of NINE awesome prize baskets (grand prize requires social media photo + hashtags)

Lastly, there is LOTS of fun book info to come, like…

  • a VIDEO for my Amazon book page that I filmed two days ago with my favorite humans Tynan Daniels + Austin Daniels that will give the first sneak peek into book photos!
  • a YouTube video of me reading the first chapter (a.k.a Prologue) out loud on camera, eeeek!! I tried this two days ago with Ty and Austin and was shaking the whole time so I need some more practice with this, clearly…
  • Tour Dates!!!
  • Launch Parties!!!
  • I will be releasing a couple of recipes from the book in the weeks/months to come, if we hit our pre-order goals! Help us do that by pre-ordering today!

LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!! TBB, over and out.

For now, at least. :)

…. Let’s make #BREAKINGVEGANBOOK break the Internet!!!

ALSO, if you are a BLOGGER and want to participate on the “Breaking Vegan Virtual Book Tour” in November, EMAIL ME now and I will put you on my list! Yippee!!!

Visit all the brands involved in this giveaway! They are all my absolute favs, and I am thrilled that they are all involved in this super exciting time for me: Lululemon, NutriBullet, Pitaya Plus, Drink Bai, Justin’s, RxBar, VEEV VitaFrute, Nourish Snacks, CaliScrubs, Philosophie, prAna, EPIC Bar, Vega, Liquid I.V., TBV Apparel, Lovin’ Summer beach tents, Sunology, Cate McNabb cruelty-free cosmetics, Hello Hair hydrating mask, DRINKmaple & RUNA!