Aruba- Southern Caribbean Sea 2018

April 8th, 2018, passport in hand-I got to pack up my bags and travel to Aruba! My first time traveling outside the states, I was so excited!

I was excited for many reasons, but one was to come back home with tons of pictures and awesome memories to add in my blog for anybody wanting to travel there in the near or far future! So here I am, back in Pittsburgh, PA blogging about my dream filled vacation!

When we first arrived we checked in at the Holiday Inn Resort& Casino. As soon as you walk into the open lobby you see EVERYTHING! Beach, Coconut Palm Trees, the cool beach sand, workers promoting all activities, and vacationers enjoying the beautiful sunshine! It was as if you wanted to drop all of your belongings and just run straight for the ocean! But with reality, we had to check in, drop our bags off in the room, take off comfy plane attire and change into vacay mode! (INSERT PRAISING HANDS EMOJI!)

SUNCARE FOR ARUBA:

The first day was simple, we checked out our hotel, and then went straight to the beach. Now, back in 2009 when I vacationed in Hawaii I got terrible sun poisoning, also known as polymorphic light eruption. Anybody else get this? ITS QUITE ANNOYING. Well, guess who got it again in Aruba? I did 😦  So I had to lather myself with a lot of sunblock. I highly recommend ALOE GATOR Suncare. I’m part Filipina, so typically I use the lowest SPF but this week I used 30-50 SPF. Along with neutrgena Beach Defense water + sun protection at 30 SPF. (I guess 30 is still pretty low but I wanted some sort of tan to come home to!) These were both great in protecting sunburns on top of the PLE.

Anyways back to the fun part, Monday we headed to the breakfast buffet. The four of us decided we did not want to eat there again, so for the rest of the week we tried our best to eat off the resort (especially since we did not do all inclusive we wanted to venture out and thought that would have been better, and it was!)

PLACES WE ATE AND LOVED!

Dianas Pancake Place

Zeerovers

Carlitos Sport Beach Bar– Off Eagle Beach

Eduardos Beach Shack — TO DIE FOR !! (once again insert praising hands emoji)

Flying Fishbone – We saved this night for last, it was absolutely breathtaking. We enjoyed our meal at a table that was sitting …in the ocean…. at sunset. What gets better than that?!

If you’re looking for a super mellow quiet wine and dine night, we did eat at the Divi Resort, I would probably give the food a 7/8 but it was very romantic and beautiful.

So more about….

Diana’s Pancake Place– Once you walk in and get seated- your server comes by and describes the menu to you. The menu is on the wall and has a list of savory pancakes and a list of fruit pancakes. I got the Hawaiian Pancake which is Pineapple, Ham, and Cheese. My friend got a fruit pancake that had powdered sugar over top. It was amazing, I can taste it now ! This is a must to try if you’re vacationing in Aruba.

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Aruba Dianas

 

Zeerovers was interesting, it was a little confusing at first because there wasn’t any menus and just a long line. So we stood in line and when you get up to the front the workers tell you what they offer and how you can order. When we went- they had shrimp, red snapper or tuna. After you choose your fish you can add a side. I love onions! I know I’m weird, I get that all of the time. But I did order their pickled onions! So I got Shrimp and onions. Meanwhile my boyfriend got Red Snapper, Cornbread and Plantains. The cornbread was not very exciting so I do not recommend ordering that but the Plantains were so good and so was the Red Snapper! They also skin and descale the fish in this small area but it is near some tables where people can watch, I personally thought it was interesting until I started thinking about the fish, felt bad and sat back down, LOL. Others were super engaged with it and taking videos but whatever floats your boat!

 

 

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Flying Fishbone was a night for the books! You should get there around 5:30-5:45PM if  you want to get a table in the water and in time for sunset. We tried making reservations online but nothing was available, however I think it could have been a glitch, we winged it and when we asked for a table in the water, they sat us right away. The service was great, I think they purposely take a little longer with serving right away so that you can enjoy your toes in the sand and just soak in all the relaxing/charming feels of the beachy experience. I ordered the Surf n Turf. It was absolutely tasteful. I was craving lobster all week, so I’m glad everything was on point!

FFB

 

 

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Eduardos Beach Shack was very refreshing. It was all organic, and helped with boosting your energy because the sun knocks it out of you. Also, I became very sick Wednesday of dehydration, so I went to Eduardos the next day to get a shot of ginger and a Mermaid Bowl. The Mermaid Bowl consisted of Blue Pineapple, Pitaya, Coconut shavings, raisins, blueberries, strawberries, seeds and mango.

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Okay, enough about food! Here are some of our adventures we took while in Aruba.

 

Tuesday we rented a full days worth of fun in an UTV to travel around the entire island. We started out at Diana’s Pancakes Place, and headed to Hooiberg Mountain- where we walked 600 steps up to the highest peak of the island! It was exhausting but definitely worth it. Plus I needed a little work out on this trip! You walk up these cement steps; that by the way every 100-150 steps is sprayed on the step to know how many you have walked so far, pretty cool. But once you get up there, you see it all. The island is 19 miles long and 4.5 miles wide, it isn’t very large which is why hiking up this mountain was so cool because you literally see everything. Also, passing lizards along the way is pretty awesome.

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Photo above not mine! Google image.

Just wanted to show the mountain from far.

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Hooiberg was amazing but then it was time for a little rough riding! We drove to Arikok Park to check out the beautiful coastline, and natural pool. It was a lot of fun driving though all the rocks and dirt along the way. But the rough coastline was my favorite part!

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I apologize for the sound, I probably could have added music or something butttt…. I didn’t soooo LOL, enjoy the sounds of the true breeze we had that day.

We did go to the natural pool, it was super choppy that day so I didn’t get into it, just kind of climbed around some of the rocks, watched some fish and crabs swimming/crawling around. I don’t know how some of these models/public figures get their brave asses in those pictures but good for ya’llllll. I guess I’m just not that risky … yet. Haha.

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Wednesday we did a champagne and snorkeling boat ride !!!! I have to say it might have been my favorite day (although that was the day I should have drank way more water) I still had a blast!!! I still can feel the fish swimming around my legs, we were able to swim with the fish and feed them.

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We went down to a shipwreck, “Sunken M.S. Antilla” That was wrecked in 1940.

Also, on the boat we got served breakfast, lunch, and drinks all day long! We jammed out to music, and watched other people in the ocean doing other activities and other boats doing some crazy tricks. It was definitely one heck of a trip to remember!!

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The best part was just getting away for a little with awesome people! Enjoying each others time, enjoying the beautiful weather and relaxing is just what we needed! Especially since we’re on the East Coast and this winter knew how to get under our skins. It was a great vacation and Aruba is a place I hope to visit again soon!

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Thanks for reading !

Jess ❤

Pittsburgh Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The first thought I had walking up to The Phipps was, “WOW! THIS HAS TO BE A MOVIE!” It is flawless, and delicate. I was basically walking into Frances Hodgson Burnett’s, The Secret Garden. In my mind, before even looking it up on the internet, or stepping anywhere near Schenley Park, my vision of it was so minimal to what it actually is.

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Here I will post the flowers that stuck out to me the most, the flowers I wanted to learn more about and as well as the fruits! (Okay but the dark red banana tree, you HAVE to check out, it looks…. Royal … you’ll understand what I mean when you see it 😉 .)

If you live, or come to visit the Pittsburgh area, I highly suggest checking The Phipps out.

&Thanks for checking my blog out on The Phipps!

Oncidium Orchid- Sharry Baby

This was definitely my favorite because of its scent! Smelling just like chocolate!! Although they say many people actually pick up a vanilla chocolate scent, I myself picked up the cocoa smell! The fragrant is very strong through the daytime, and is not fragrant at night. This orchid looks very delicate and light, but actually has a pretty rough leathery feel to it. The Sharry Baby can take up to 3-4 months to bloom, and the flowers stay bloomed for only about 2-3 weeks. Its’s said if this flower is in a smaller area (home, smaller rooms) the smell can make you nauseous. Planting in a larger area would be best!

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Encyclia Orchid

Best known as the “Octopus” Flower because of it’s dangling petals, can actually bloom for several consecutive months! I find this one so cool, although it didn’t have much of a scent, just seeing the shape and how wild it looks caught my attention! These flowers do well in a very lit area and up to 85 degrees. Patio, backyard, pool area… but also likes screening protection. Also, these flowers roots like to get wild, and can grow underground creating new plants elsewhere. phipps 24 use this one

Epicatanthe “Gold Rush”

They say this flower blooms forever! Growing to 12 inches tall, and 2 inches across. The lips are yellow, with sparkle of red inside. They do bloom best in spring and summer, but you can also keep them bloomed with just the right amount of lighting/temperature, and overall care.

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Cattlianthe Orchid “Little Suzy”

This flower has very large flowy petals, it has a very strong smell, and has over 100 species in its family. They all range in different bloom size, color, scent, and root size. They bloom in fall, typically in October- early November.

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& Now just take a look at these beauties ! (Heart eye emoji insert!)

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I found some pretty awesome plants I’d love to share too !

Parry Agave

This agave stood out to me because of its dark navy blue edges! Native to Arizona, New Mexico and Northern Mexico, it is not in the cactus family, however it does look deceiving…

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phipps 4.jpegphipps 28These plants were amazing! It is so cool to see how all the leaves are different! Color, size and design. Some are plain, some are spotted, and many have streaks. The vibrant colors were my favorite about this plant specifically!

The Phipps has a Fruit & Spice room, which is awesome! If you head over to their website WWW.PHIPPSCONSERVATORY.ORG They have a section of which plants they have during whichever month we are in.

Carambola – Star Fruit

I have always loved the star fruit. I’ve used it for juicing, purees, and simply just eating it! It’s funny because before seeing it at the Phipps I never looked into it. Never did I realize it is Native to the Philippines, and here I am, part Filipino. It all makes sense now. LOL.

The fruit is popular through-out Southeast Asia. Many areas grow them for ornamentals, not really for consumption. I would be the complete opposite! It has an oval shape but has 5 streaks going down the fruit which is why it is best known as the “Star Fruit”. It is crunchy and firm, but has such a sweet juicy taste to it! The entire fruit is edible. Its best to pick when they are slightly green and as soon as they turn yellow, EAT! 🙂

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So my ABSOLUTE plant is The Musa.

Dwarf Red Banana Tree: Feeds off of a tropical feel, well known in souther Florida but also West Indies and Central America. The tree grows quick and sprouts very large leaves that many say are absolutely perfect for shade, and creating your own mini private jungle! The bananas have a dark red color, I say they are very royal looking. The shine and glow it has is unreal! They are also sweeter and softer than your typical yellow banana. Some also say it has a mango flavor to it but can also be described as “earthy”.

The red banana has more Vitmain C and beta carotene (which your body breaks down to Vitamin A) than the yellow banana. it contains 3 types of sugars, sucrose, fructose, and glucose.

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Meal Prepping Gone RIGHT

I find it interesting foods can determine how you feel, and how it truly designs your body. Not always good though, right? But by now I think we understand good foods vs. bad….. Or maybe not? So today I’d like to touch on Meal Prepping.

BASICS : 

First I’d like to dive into the basics. Have a plan! Find a day of the week that works best for you. I’d love to meal prep every Sunday but my schedule just doesn’t work out that way. My days off are very random. Sometimes you can catch me meal prepping on a Sunday, other times it can be on a Thursday. As long as it works for you, go for it.

Now that you know which day your prepping on, lets step in your kitchen! Go through your pantry/fridge and see what you already have, and lets be honest- what you need to throw out, AKA expired products, LOL. Meal prep days also gives me the time to clean my kitchen, not to mention doing dishes about 3 times! TUPPERWARE OVERLOAD Haha. Now that thats done you can choose what your meals are going to be.

Oh wait, do you need help deciding? Well, down below I have a list of foods that will help you create the most beneficial meals! Including protein, carbs, and veggies! I’m an advocate for REAL food, locally grown, organic and clean. so I highly encourage you to buy and eat clean. Not only for your health but to help continue USAD Organic products to be on shelves at stores and markets. &Here are two sites to help you find local raised foods:

  • LocalHarvest.org
  • EatWild.com

If you do not eat meat or like me very minimal, try filling your plates up with beans, grains, and vegetables. Plus it is cheaper skipping out on the meat every now and again 🙂

YOUR GROCERY LIST:

PROTEIN 

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (about 139 g per 1 LB)

Ground Turkey(4 oz 22g)

Salmon(40 g 0.5 g fillet)

Ahi Tuna(3 oz 25 g)

Talapia (23 g 1 fillet serving)

Shrimp (3 OZ 19 g protein)

Tofu(3 OZ 12 g protein)

Beans

Chickpeas

Lentils

Hemp Seeds

CARBOHYDRATES 

Brown Rice (43 g carbs)

Potatoes (about 37 g carbs)

Sweet Potatoes(27 g carbs))

Steel Cut Oats(27 g carbs)

Quinoa(20 g carbs, about 1/2 cup serving)

Ezekiel or wheat bread (14 g per slice)

Beans (black beans 116 g 1 cup serving)

Veggies with a higher carb intake : Brussels Sprouts 8 g, Kale 6 g, Med. Zucchini 6 g.

 

VEGGIES 

Brussel Sprouts

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Collards

Kale

Spinach

Lemon grass

Winter Squash

Green beans

Mushrooms

Bell Peppers, GREEN, RED, YELLOW, ORANGE.

Carrots

Onion

Squash

Zucchini

 

&HEALTHIER FATS THAT I USE FOR SNACKS

Peanut butter, fruits, hard boiled eggs, turkey jerky, protein bars/shake, nuts; cashews, almonds, walnuts.

 

I always have at the least one from each category as a meal.

Here is my example of what I eat in one day.

Breakfast: Overnight oats, 1/4 Almond milk, 1/2 greek yogurt, 1 tbsp flax seeds, 1 tbsp chai seeds, 1/2 pr 1 tbsp of peanut butter, sprinkle of chopped walnuts or pecans and sliced up banana. With a protein shake not too long after.

Snack: Peanut butter and celery sticks.

Lunch: Baked chicken breast, side of brown rice, and brussel sprouts. And a side salads. I LOVE MY SALADS 🙂

Snack: A serving of Cashews.

Dinner:  Same as lunch.

I really hope this helps you out with making your meals for the week! Also, really understanding whats digesting in your body. Our bodies were design to eat these foods. When your body aches, feels heavy or uncomfortable its mainly because we’re not feeding it correctly. Try changing your diet up to a more clean food based lifestyle and I can guarantee you will feel and see changes.

As always, Jess ❤

 

REAL Food- Your Best Decision

As I’ve said before, real food speaks volumes to me. I get inspired by natural ingredients and making delicious meals through them so you get that true authentic flavor. I attempted a small garden this year, the first house my boyfriend and I have had together so it’s been exciting. But like I was saying- I attempted a garden this year, it was amazing to me, growing my own food couldn’t feel any better! I hope one day to have a large enough yard to grow as much as I want! This year I grew bell peppers, jalapeños, banana peppers, cucumbers, butter lettuce, parsley and tomatoes! All of the bell peppers smelled so crisp and fresh, I can’t wait to grow more next year! The tomatoes were a challenge for me…. especially due to deer eating them as soon as they would turn red!! (Happy to feed the animals, bummed I couldn’t make salsa).

My meals are sometimes, well mostly, simple because I don’t add all the high and heavy saturated fats/additives in the mix. You definitely don’t need that in your recipes. I can remember a handful of times eating not the best foods/meals and quick after feeling terrible. My left abdomen would be in pain due to the toxic foods, I’d be so bloated, and I would just be in pain. Not to mention the anxiety build up. These are just a few reasons why I turned to gaining knowledge on nutrition.

There are many substitutes for any ingredient that you want to start cooking without. Here are just a few in example:

Ingredient                               Substitution 

                                                 Butter                               Olive or Coconut Oil/Coconut Butter

  Milk                               Almond Milk

Sour Cream                             Greek Yogurt

          Cream                            Coconut Milk

Mayonnaise                           Greek Yogurt

                    Sugar                           Stevia or Pure Honey

   White Rice                         Brown Rice/Cauliflower Rice/Quinoa

White                           Bread Ezekiel/ Sprouted Bread.

Pasta                            Quinoa/Squash Noodles/Brown Rice

Bread Crumbs                     Crushed Nuts

 

I use many of those substitutes daily so I can live a healthier life. One of the steps to changing my everyday food intake was cleaning out the kitchen. And as always, I encourage you to buy organic, it might be pricey and I get it, but I rather pay now than later 😉 My next blog will be on what should be stocked in your kitchen! So please stay tuned 🙂

JESS ❤

Good Morning World <3

Just starting my blog out! The past 2 years I’ve fallen in love with health, fitness, and nutrition. I’m an advocate for REAL food, and trying my best to convert each meal into my best decision. Before I started this journey, sluggish and anxious were my everyday feelings. After eating each meal I grew sicker and sicker. With reading Dr. Josh Axe’s National Bestseller “Eat Dirt” I realized how much food impacts us. I immediately started reading more on nutrition, doing more research, and more trips to the farmers market! I’d be lying if I said transitioning to a healthier lifestyle was easy. Don’t let my recipes or the fact that I have this blog on health fool you, there are times where I don’t eat all organic, there are times when I eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. And my wine nights, oh, girl you already know! But I can say I’ve dropped 25 lbs, decreased my anxiety by a lotttt, gained confidence, and feel healthier than ever. Enjoy my recipes and if you have any questions you can contact me on here, email, Twitter or Instagram.