PRODUCT LOVE: MY NEW FAVORITE HEALTHY CANDLE

There are a few things that I can’t live without in my home, the first is plants, the second is candles! I have candles in every room and I’m always looking for the perfect combo of fragrance, non-toxic ingredients and long burn time, a trifecta that’s safe for humans and my furry babies, that smells great but doesn’t overdo it. In essence, a healthy candle. Sounds impossible, right?

Enter Locale58. A new candle company based in San Franciso. Co-founder (and super fierce chick) L. T,. reached out and asked if I’d like to try out one of her new candles and write about it. Ummm, yes, please! I was so excited to learn about Locale58’s new line of candles inspired by the West Coast that are made right here in California.

According to the site, the candles are hand poured by two friends (B + L) whose roots run “California deep”. The candles are made from 100% soy wax and come in scents that they feel truly represent different locations in California. L + B’s mission is to share their favorite West Coast spots with people worldwide. Pretty freakin’ awesome IMO!

THE CANDLE

I was sent a “San Francisco” candle that came in a super sweet cotton drawstring bag and I could smell it before I even took it out. The scent is deep and masculine, which I love, and is described as “clean and defined,” which it truly is!

The scent profile for the California candle is: 

High Notes: Cedar

Mid Notes: Tonka Bean (which I’d never heard of, read about it’s awesome smell profile here). 

Low Notes: Amber

I’ve burned the candle several times and it just keeps going, filling my large living room with warmth and a super inviting scent, perfect for Fall and cozy nights in.

ince I don’t always get to speak directly to the creators of products that I love I decided to do a little Q+A with Lexie to get the full scoop!

ME: I’m really getting into essential oils and their amazing benefits, are you using any essential oils in your candles? I’d love to hear more about what’s going into them–without giving away all of your secrets!

L: We are using a blend of fragrance oils, the equation to our candles is wax and a secret fragrance oil.. oh and some love too! 🙂

ME: What is it about the city of San Francisco that evoked these scents (cedar, tonka bean and amber) for you? 

L: When we started working on SF, we picture it would be burning in a San Francisco high-rise in a really industrial penthouse with lots of leather furniture, really cold air, crisp & clean. Primarily in a man’s flat. Hence, the masculine scent. 

ME: Why did you choose soy?

L: Soy Wax is a cleaner burning wax that emits no toxins, carcinogens and pollutants which help reduce risk of allergies. Soy wax also burns at a slower rate than traditional paraffin wax so you get to enjoy your candle 30-50% longer.

I can’t wait to try out the Newport Beach and Los Angeles scents next!

WHY ROSE IS ALL THE RAGE AND 6 FRESH PRODUCTS TO TRY

In case you haven’t noticed, rose is so hot right now, Pantone even named Rose quartz this year’s color of the year. While I don’t really care for pink or ever wear it due to my bright red hair color, I will admit that my bathroom counter is getting extremely crowded with rose oil beauty products. Rose has been used in beauty products for hundreds of years, dating back to the Greek and Romans who used rose petals in their baths, cosmetics, medicines and herbal remedies, but we’re really only just beginning to see the benefits of this super flower.

I’ve been using rose oil products on my skin for several months now and I’ve noticed a huge difference! I have acne prone skin and the antibacterial properties in rose help to keep bacteria at bay while also toning and moisturizing my skin all day and improving my skin tone. Rose is also known to help protect and repair skin from sun damage which I could definitely use after my years of tanning bed use. 

Here are some of my favorite natural rose products right now:

  1. Osmia Organics Rose Clay Facial Soap: With hydrating pink clay plus rose and geranium oils this soap creates an amazing lather, lasts forever and will leave your skin hydrated and smelling great!
  2. Acure Moroccan Argan Oil- Rose: This stuff has some serious super powers. I’ve tried a lot of oils and my skin reacts best to Argan, it’s the right mix of moisture and helps improve skin’s tone and texture, I’m obsessed. This one is awesome because it utilizes the healing and soothing powers of three potent botanicals: rose, lemongrass and geranium. Boom!
  3. Dr. Bronner’s Rose Soap: If you haven’t tried Dr. Bronner’s soaps you’re missing out. This Castile soap basically does it all, (and the bottle will tmi you all about it!) it’s super moisturizing and gentle enough for your face and body. The rose will tone skin while Castile soap is super moisturizing. The smell is really deep and nice to wake up to in the morning and lingers in the shower.
  4. Inflora Botanica Rosewater Mist: You can tell if you’re getting a really quality rose product because of the scent and deep amber color and this rosewater is the real deal. I happened to find this product while wandering around a little local holiday fair in Oakland and although I wasn’t in the market for skin products I’m so glad the sweet lady I spoke to convinced me to try it out.  I bought both the oil and mist and they work really well together because the mist helps the oil absorb into the skin. This product comes from Turkey where the roses are hand-picked and distilled in copper and the product is 100% organic. Added bonus: it’s also really inexpensive!
  5. Nectar Vital Rose Drop by Osmia Organics: I got this product in my first Beauty Heroes box and am loving this little super hero. It’s the second Osmia product on here because their stuff just rules, it’s so well formulated and really works. Adding a few drops of this oil makes your moisturizer or serum more powerful so a little bit goes a long way! The combo of rose and sandalwood in here is so lovely as well!
  6. doTERRA Rose Essential Oil: doTERRA oils are my fave and the rose is so lovely, everyone needs it in their oil arsenal! Rose oil has so many uses, you can add it to your favorite base oil like coconut, avocado, sesame, argan or whatever else you’re in to. As with the other products listed here the rose oil helps to balance moisture levels, even skin tone and heal imperfections and diffusing the oil can even promote feelings of vitality and energy in the am. Yes, please!

Do you use any rose products? What’s your favorite?

A GOODBYE LETTER TO 2015

Thanks to E.B. for introducing and offering this end of year practice. I recommend everyone try this, it’s felt very liberating getting these words out and saying goodbye to the good and the bad!  

Dear 2015,

Before we say goodbye I want to thank-you for everything that you have been and everything that you have not. This has been a year of change and opening, learning, feeling alone and embracing a new life. You’ve asked me to find growth and accept change in new ways, starting with a cross country move from NYC to Berkeley. Leaving friends and a life that was invigorating and inspiring, but draining and ripe for change was a sudden and intense experience.

You forced me to help my family in a time of need, mourn the loss of two people close to me, not just through death, but also separation, which often feels worse. Alternately, you allowed me to welcome in health and light for my Mom and be with her through an amazing transformation.

On the West coast you’ve put me through the ringer and asked me to truly consider what the work is that I’m after and that will feed my heart and soul, I’m still on that path, but my writing truly lights me up and I got to do so much of it this year; meeting new people, writing for amazing brands and entrepreneurs, stretching my skills and giving me some time to enhance my own blog and clarify my work.

You gave me my dream home in the hills surrounded by nature where I can really let my mind wander and get great sleep. You’ve given me new friends and re-connected me with a few oldies that I’m so glad to have near me!

2015, you’ve asked me to be ok in extreme change and it’s been really hard and uneasy, but I know this is something that I’ve needed to work on for some time. Fortunately, I have the best partner anyone could ask for and this year has been one of hard truths and growth for us as well as we learn more about one another and discover what nearly a decade of togetherness looks like and who we want to be as a pair and individually.

You’ve also allowed me to rescue the sweetest little being I’ve ever met, a 6-lb Chihuahua named Bernadette who has brought me so much joy and love I can’t even describe it. I feel my love and dedication to animals growing non-stop and I truly desire to commit myself to helping bring change for them next year. 

You took me on so many adventures I can’t even count. Not only in this big move but also around the World to BerlinCabo San Lucas, Whistler, NYC, LA, Australia, Colorado, Calistoga and more. You’ve kept Wanderlust in my life literally and figuratively and staying in that community has meant so much and I know I’m not meant to be still. 

2016 is a year of expansion, not staying in something that doesn’t resonate, continuing to find my true path and staying present throughout the ups and downs. Feeling less constriction in change and being open energetically to what may come, continuing to strengthen my body and settle my mind through an ever changing yoga practice.

Thanks for everything 2015, you’ve been real but it’s time to move on. Goodbye 2015.

All my love,

C

A WEEKEND IN CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY AND THE SCOOP ON ORGANIC GRAPES

We grow like the vines, suspended in time, gaining deep roots, learning our true nature. The greatest pieces of each of us lie in our commitment to that growth and desire to let our paths unfold in a way that is clear and true, not elegant and perfect– although ultimately the universe makes it so.

Recently I turned the big 2-9, which is not yet the big 3-0, but I’m still feeling like this will be a big year. A ton has happened (see previous posts) and I feel like I may be entering in to that phase of life where I’m truly coming in to my own. Welcoming new experiences and people, stressing about what I’m going to “be” when I grow up, but knowing that I’m getting closer and closer and in the meantime finding contentment in the present moment, the experiences I’m so grateful to have while also embracing the unknown.

I love wine country so when Wyatt asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday it was an easy choice. This trip was absolutely amazing, and Wyatt and I had a truly incredible time, it felt like we were much farther than 1.5 hours from home. We tried tons of great wine, didn’t spit much of it out ( or really any for that matter) and got to reconnect with each other in the beautiful setting of vines and rolling hills. Having visited a lot of wineries throughout America and France I was so pleasantly surprised by the selection of wineries in Napa and Calistoga. The vines are perfect but not all white with spray and the hills (see Long Island wineries, gross) are lush and gorgeous. Here’s a recap of the trip in photos.

First stop, Public Market in Napa. Had to eat at Ca’Momi, the amazing pizza place I’d tried the weekend before during Wanderlust Squaw Valley. The pizza is so good and seemed like a great chose before starting tastings.

Super cute little shops really reminded me of Chelsea Market (I miss you!!) with a wine country twist. Loved this little home store full of eclectic housewares and fun books like this one, obviously an important read for every foodie!

WINERIES WE VISITED AND THE SCOOP WITH ORGANIC WINES

We loved the first winery we stopped at in Napa called Frog’s Leap. They had such amazing wines and even better, a gorgeous garden full of every veggie you can imagine, so freakin’ awesome! We visited this winery because it was on the list of organic wineries in the area so of course I asked the tasting staff a whole bunch of questions about what that really means; Are there no pesticides? Are the grapes grown differently? What’s the deal with sulfites? I was really intrigued and surprised by the answer, here’s what they have to say:

‘Believing that a grapevine should be grown in healthy soil that supports all the nutrient needs of the plant, Frog’s Leap has been farming organically since 1988. We also believe that most of the great and historic wines of the world have been made from non-irrigated grapevines, and to that end Frog’s Leap farms all of its vineyards without irrigation.

We adhere to the premise that the greatest wines are those that most truly reflect their soil, climate and circumstance (collectively referred to as “terroir”), and that it is the winemaker’s role to simply stand back and let the natural beauty of the grapes show through.

We don’t make great wine, we grow it.’ –Frog’s Leap

Super cool, right? Totally. But, here’s the tricky part. Almost all wines contain sulfites, a sulfur compound used to increase shelf life, stop yeast from growing and kill bacteria in the wine. Sulfites also bring out the pigments in wine and make red wines redder. In the U.S. organic wines must be both grown organically an also have no added sulfites, while in the Europe the distinction means that the grapes are grown organically but may or may not have added sulfites. So, are sulfites really bad for you? In small quantities no, however, more and more sulfur is being added to processed foods, so limiting intake of those foods and drinking organic wines is recommended to not overdo it. A small percent of people (appx. 5%) are very sensitive and need to avoid sulfites at all costs.

Should you buy organic wine?

The basic answer-Yes. Whenever possible. On top of sulfites, the other problem with non-organic wines is the prevalence of toxic chemicals, fungicides and pesticides that can wreak havoc on health. Pinot Noir drinkers should be especially cautious as this varietal is very difficult to grow without the use of pesticides.

THE FOOD

The ‘too pretty to eat’ beet salad ever at SolBar

Veggie breakfast skillet with poached eggs from SolBar Calistoga

Our cute little corner table with a view at Calistoga Kitchen. Amazing food with sweet local charm. I had fresh hand made pasta and Wyatt had slow cooked pork ribs that had been cooking all day on-site. The chef came out to talk to each table, creating a really great vibe!

SOLAGE RESORT AND SPA CALISTOGA

This pool was ok…;) (photo via Solage Instagram)

Solage provides each room with their own bikes for the duration of the stay. We got some bike riding in to Lava Vine, a neighboring winery and also a bit farther to Envy Wines. Both were lovely and the ride over was completely awesome!

The spa pools were incredible with private men’s and ladies areas for clothing optional bathing and steaming. I also had an amazing mud bath style treatment with a twist. I watched my mud be handmade and chose an aromatherapy oil to go in it. Next, I went in to a private sauna when the mud was applied and allowed to set for 20 minutes and then rinsed off completely. Step two, I was led to a private bath and soaked for another 20 minutes. The room was so airy and bright, heaven! Finally, I got to lay in a 0 gravity chair (what!?) and put headphones on and almost instantly fell asleep. Afterwards, my skin was super soft and smooth and felt incredibly refreshed. Highly recommend this treatment if you go.

Solage is all about fitness, with a full gym on-site and a yoga studio we were able to work off a few of the million calories we ate and drank each day.

Cruisin’ thru the vines

Solage is such an amazing mix of hip, classy and laid back we absolutely enjoyed our time there. Pure luxury and they’ve literally thought of everything!

FRESH: SKIN CLEANSE BOOK LOVE PLUS A BRIEF LIFE UPDATE

This week a few of my favorite lady bloggers have been getting real and honest on the heavy stuff that is going on for them in their lives. It almost feels like something has been in the air lately and everyone is going through some intense stuff, or probably more accurately, they’re going through life. My friend Shannon talked about the realness of marriage (of which I can certainly relate), my friend Julia about her isolation having moved away from friends and family and my favorite DJ Tasha Blank was talking about a block in her creative energy. This is an interesting week to read these three topics as I’m feeling each of them so strongly myself. As a creative person I often get really stuck in my head and overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in my life. This week has been so intense mentally and emotionally, I’ve been waiting for big news and it’s had me anxious and unable to concentrate. I’ve been writing a lot for my freelance clients but it’s taking me forever to get anything done.  The good news is I’m very happy to have accepted a job offer and I’m finally done dealing with the nightmare that is job hunting. This round has been a huge learning experience and very different than the East Coast mentality of get it done, I’ve had some trials and tribulations, but I’m SO excited about my new job, and I can’t wait to get back in the swing of things, meeting new people and not working at home 100%! Hooray!!

Switching gears, but actually kind of related because self care and taking care of yourself is ever present, today I want to talk about an awesome new book that is a must read for anyone who cares about their skin; Adina G’s Skin Cleanse. Adina is also an Integrative Nutrition grad and the brains behind SW Basics, a line of skin care crafted for those that are tired of chemically enhanced products and want to get back to well, the basics.

I’ve suffered with acne and skin issues basically all my life. In middle school my cystic acne got so bad I went on my first round of Accutane (aka teenage poison), which did treat the symptoms of my acne, but not the root.  I did a little search for this post and found out that Accutane was taken off market in 2009 (thank goodness) but you can still get generic versions. I also found that it was originally marketed as a chemotherapy drug, WOW, what?! Seriously scary stuff.  I link a lot of my anxiety issues today to this drug and I STRONGLY urge everyone, especially parents, to be wary and avoid at all costs. Since then, I’ve tried literally everything for my skin. Going to dermatologists that pushed every cream, pill and smelly cleanser on me that they possibly could. There are periods of my life that I refuse to look at pictures of myself, bad skin is scarring, literally.

It wasn’t until I learned a ton about food and diet and started to change the way I care for my skin and my body in general that I noticed results. I wish I could find the recipe again for the first DIY skincare recipe that I tried, total #GAMECHANGER! The facewash was castor oil based and involved a ton of oils that I had never heard of before and the ingredients also confused me, I mean, wasn’t oil bad for acne prone skin? That’s what doctors had been telling me for years: ‘Avoid oil and oily foods (lol) or you’ll break out’. They were on the right track but didn’t realize it wasn’t the oil on the pizza, it was the highly processed ingredients and hormones and sugar and chemicals within that and every other food I was eating on a daily basis. When I started using these ‘new to me’ oils like olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba and argan I started noticing a lot of differences in my skin and I realized that I didn’t need to kill everything on my face to get clear skin, Adina actually mentions that we need good bacteria on our face to eat the bad, which is not unlike the bacteria in our gut. My skin was also in need of hydration and less cleansing, rubbing and product overload. So basically, I can relate to everything in Adina’s book and it’s inspiring to me! I’m so glad she’s sharing some of her secrets with the World!

What I love about this book is that it goes through a lot of our misconceptions around skin care, walks us through a skin cleanse aka a product free period aimed at getting our skin back to a neutral state, and then brings in some really new thinking about how to use real ingredients to revive our used and abused skin. Everything goes back to diet. Just like with other health issues,  Grigore says, ‘if you have a recurring skin problem, it’s most definitely the result of something going on internally’ and further, “when you are eating foods that are depleted of vitamins and minerals , you aren’t getting vitamins and minerals, sounds basic, but it’s a connection a lot of us have not really made yet.’ And that’s true, it takes a long time to make this discovery for ourselves and then we get it and it’s like a serious lightbulb aha moment. I love watching family and friends have these moments, it’s so inspiring!

My favorite part of this book is definitely the recipes! Adina is sharing some amazing secrets that I’m sure took a long time to develop and I bet she had to put a lot of random foods on her face to figure out, thanks girl, you’re FIERCE! I tried this amazing Dessert Mask and loved it! I did take a pic of myself with the mask on but I hopefully you can understand based on the ingredients why I’m not posting that.

DESSERT MASK RECIPE (Via SkinCleanse):

Ingredients: 

4 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (I added this in because I love it Adina mentioned it being great for skin in another recipe)

Directions:

Mix cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl, then stir in olive oil to create a paste. Apply with fingers and leave on for as long as you’d like (I did 40 minutes). The sea salt may start to sting over time as it works its magic (mine didn’t). Rinse carefully–this mask will stain a washcloth (yes, it sure will). Makes one to two uses and can sit out on your counter for a few days.

Result: Really smooth and bright skin. I felt that I needed a little extra moisturizing after, but my skin felt really happy and cleansed.

You can buy Skin Cleanse here and my one word of warning is to definitely buy the actual book, not the kindle version, in some ways this is part cookbook and journal and you’ll want to highlight and take notes. Now I need to buy the actual book myself.

Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments below and if you have a favorite ‘natural’ product please share as well!

CABO SAN LUCAS TRIP DETAILS AND LOTS OF PHOTOS

Now that we  live in California the need to escape to the beach in the winter is not nearly as emergency level, but it’s still so nice to get away and take a break together and just re-connect with yourself and your significant other.

This post has a lot of photos, which I don’t usually do, but to give a little background, I used to love photo shoots. When I was a dancer we took pictures all the time in tiny costumes, on top of buildings, pretending to be super models. Growing up as an actor I feel in my element in front of a camera and although I’m definitely not a top model, I just have a lot of freaking fun shooting pictures, it’s a creative outlet for me. However, in the last few years I’ve stopped taking pictures almost altogether. I’m still in my twenties (not much longer), but I feel like my body is a lot different than it was in my early twenties so like every woman everywhere I guess I’ve become a bit self conscious. However, now that I’ve started sharing more about my life here at Fresh and Fierce I’ve also started taking more photos of my day to day and while traveling, and totally love it again! Wyatt talked me in to shooting some pics in my new high waisted swim suit on our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas Mexico and we had so much fun! I was really happy to get some good shots of my Tattoo that I had done in Williamsburg over a year ago at Eight of Swords, the owner Dave is an amazing artist! More on that someday…but for now let’s talk about the beach…

Cabo recently experienced a really bad hurricane, but the area has rebounded surprisingly well. A lot of the resorts are still closed, but Cabo Surf, where we stayed, was back up and running with a whole new wing of rooms and a great beach! I loved the laid back vibe of Cabo Surf, there were only a few people on the beach each day and the resort was quiet and the staff very friendly and helpful. This hotel is not near the main tourist drag, so we were thankful the food was good and we didn’t really have much reason to leave. The rooms were very nice and we could hear the waves crashing every morning, so great!

Now that I’ve tried out a high waisted suit, I think everyone needs one! This one was around $20 on Amazon. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it so I didn’t want to spend a lot to try it out. Sun glasses are from Urban Outfitters and hat is from Amazon as well, and was great because it could be totally scrunched up in my bag. The earrings I got in Thailand at a market and unfortunately lost one on this trip, sad! The whole ensemble was very affordable.

Ok , so moving on from my silly posing to the coolest thing we saw while on the trip, Whales!! I’ve seen a lot of sea life before, but this was a first and totally amazing experience, I can’t even describe it. We went on a super cheesy, but admittedly fun pirate boat and got great views of the whales. We (W) got these awesome shots. As soon as we left the dock a baby whale and his mama were playing in the bay, jumping and flipping their tales, so cool to watch! At one point the whale swam right under our boat!

Every year several whale species migrate from the chilly Arctic waters to the Baja Peninsula where the temps are just right to give birth and rear their babies. I totally get that, I’d rather have a baby in warm water than cold! I’d recommend going out on a small inflatable boat in you get the chance to get even closer to the action!

Food: For me, the most important part of visiting any place is experiencing their food, and finding a good salad if at all possible. We ate some amazing food in Cabo, which kind of surprised me since I haven’t had that experience in every part of Mexico. Our resort had great food and we went in to San Jose Del Cabo with friends to have a meal as well.

Flora Farms was my favorite. It’s a really popular farm to table spot where Adam Levine apparently got married. I see why he would pick the venue, it’s so gorgeous, and although we got there just as the sun was setting still got to see the beautiful gardens in their full kale-growing glory.  This restaurant was certainly a highlight of the trip. Such great food and ambiance, it’s like a trendy New York hotspot, but in the middle of nowhere. We had an amazing meal in the garden and I got some shots of the surroundings including this over the top palm tree, farm stand of veggies grown on-site, and my tasty carrot margarita.

We were so lucky to have some friends in Cabo as well to show us around. They took us to the beach one day where we lounged around and drank beer and ate guac. Ahhh, vacay, how I love you! If you find yourself getting married in Cabo and need amazing bridal hair and makeup you have to check out our friend Neysa, she is so talented and will definitely make you look fierce on your big day!

Hope you enjoyed this photo filled post, I certainly had fun writing it! Look for more travel posts on the blog soon!

Have you been to Cabo? What did you love? Let me know in the comments.

COCONUT BUTTER IS THE BOMB: 5 WAYS TO USE IT + RECIPES

I bought my first jar of coconut butter at the local farmers market over the weekend and I’m totally hooked! I’ve been obsessed with coconut oil for years now and have almost stopped using olive oil altogether for cooking as it actually goes rancid in high heat, yikes! The flavor of coconut butter is slightly sweeter than coconut oil and it has a really nice, buttery consistency. Another thing I didn’t realize is that that coconut is a nut a tree and a seed. Therefore, it could be considered a nut butter but people with nut allergies rarely react negatively as they would with peanut or almond butters.

So how is Coconut butter made? Basically, it’s pure coconut flesh placed into a really strong food processor or blender and pureed into a thick and creamy consistency. The benefits are pretty awesome too! Coconut butter is low on the glycemic index due to its high fiber content,  high in protein and a good healthy portion of fat. Coconut also contains lauric acid, which has antiviral, antibacterial and immune boosting properties. According to pediatricians, Lauric acid is one of the predominant fats in human breast milk and when fed to babies will help them build up natural immunities. So basically, it’s the bomb!

While I could eat this stuff right off of a spoon, I decided to check out some other alternative ways to nom it up. Here are five:

  1. Use in place of flour or butter for baking.
  2. Add to Oatmeal to up your filling fats and a touch of sweetness.
  3. Spread it! On a brown rice cake, sprouted bread or a tortilla.
  4. Use it in a curry.
  5. Add to a smoothie.

 Here are a few yummy recipes to try out from some healthy foodies:

Coconut Butter Pancakes by Holistically Engineered 

Paleo Coconut Butter Balls Dipped In Dark Chocolate by Paleo Living Magazine

Coconut Curry Sauce by GirlsGoneStrong

FRESH LIST: 5 SIMPLE & HEALTHY MEXICAN FOOD RECIPES TO TRY TODAY

This week has been crazy and awesome and all over the place! My husband and I just returned from a trip to Mexico, which inspired this post, and moved into our new house in the Oakland hills. Plus, I’ve been writing, writing, writing for multiple projects and time flies by! All is well here in sunny California.

Having just taken a trip to Cabo San Lucas last week I was inspired to create a post all about my favorite food group, Mexican food! Most of the people I know love it too, it’s like a prerequisite for being my friend, jk (sort of). Mexican food is comforting and reminds me of good times and warm weather. Growing up in Colorado, we mainly had the greasy, heavy, trans-fat laden variety and then in NYC most restaurants served more upscale versions featuring fancy fish tacos and guacamole made at your table. When I cook Mexican food, however, I like it fresh and clean, showing off the flavors by not hiding them in heavy sauces, cheese and creams. In honor of that style, here are a few links to some of my favorite Mexican-inspired recipes. Next week I’m really excited to share some details from our trip with fun beach pics, what we ate, and something awesome that we saw while we were in Cabo, stay tuned!

 Healthified Avocado Fries– The panko in these lightens up the texture and they are quick and easy to whip up! I would personally skip the ranch dressing cause, what is it??!! But otherwise these are as fresh as can be!

Vegetable and Goat Cheese Quesadilla I can’t even handle how good these look. Goat cheese is one of my very favorite foods and for many it’s easier to digest than cows milk, less processed, and contains fewer scary ingredients.

 Baked Chicken and Black Bean Tacos This recipe is very similar to my own chicken or turkey tacos. Combine free-range meat, soaked black beans, guacamole, salsa, and jalapenos inside a brown rice tortilla, and you have very happy dinner guests!

Cauliflower Rice Fish Taco Bowls– This recipe is next level awesome. I normally use brown rice or quinoa in my bowls, but this recipe calls for ‘cauliflower rice,’ what?!  Yes, that is a real thing AND it’s easy to make. To top it all off, this mango salsa looks to die for! This is a strong contender for dinner next week.

Fresh and Easy Guacamole– What Mexican recipe roundup would be complete without Guacamole? News flash, the days of the seasoning packet are over fellow guac aficionados. Keep the flavors intact with very simple ingredients and ingredients like this recipe uses. Nothing fake, just straight up guac goodness.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole– If I had to guess my husband’s favorite food on the planet (and he’s pretty predictable at this point) it would be enchiladas. Usually they’re too heavy and sauce-drenched for me, however, this quinoa casserole is the answer to my enchilada prayers. I’ve made this one before and can honestly say that it’s the bomb! You will not be disappointed or miss the pounds and pounds of tortillas used in traditional enchilada recipes.

Happy cooking and hope you have a great weekend!