What I’m Loving Lately

Currently my kitchen has no ceiling. That’s right. And it’s on purpose! The hubbs and I are in the middle of some renovations on our house and as you can probably guess, it’s making any sort of cooking, baking or blogging quite challenging. My photo setup has been dismantled and replaced with a tools table. Ahh! Obviously I’m super excited about the end result of our reno, but living in it is a bit tough. That being said, I’ve decided to keep things positive and share some things that I’m loving lately!

1. Avocado with salt and red pepper flakes

This is my new favorite side dish instead of chips or soup. And it adds some healthy and satisfying fats to my lunch. Plus the red pepper flakes add a little something special 🙂

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2. LaraBars as dessert

Lately I’ve been trying to reduce my refined sugar intake, but I still get intense cravings for something sweet. Enter the Coconut Cream Pie LaraBar. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness, but has only natural sugar from dates and also has fiber and protein to keep me full.

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3. Lettuce wraps instead of chips/tortillas

Check out these beef tacos! Lately I’ve been subbing the corn taco shell with some romaine lettuce leaves and it’s pretty awesome. Honestly I don’t even miss the taco shell. Who needs carbs when you have beef, cheese and veggies?!

 

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4. Little Secrets dark chocolate peanut butter candies

These things are dangerously delicious. They are like peanut butter M&Ms, but way better because they’re dark chocolate and have nothing artificial in them! Perfect for movie date nights 🙂

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5. Bowls

I’m not talking ceramic. I’m talking rice, veggies, sauces and big flavor. Just grab your favorite fresh and roasted veggies, your favorite grain or whole grain crackers, some protein like roasted chicken and top with your favorite salad dressing or sauce. Done and done.

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The last thing I’m loving probably deserves its own blog post and that’s the weather. Spring is here in New England, well sometimes. By sometimes I mean yesterday it was 85 and today it was 45. But I love any warmth and sunshine we can get! Okay, I’m off to help build us a new ceiling. Wish me luck!

5 Things I Learned On My First Cruise

Phew! My life is becoming increasingly busy these days with dance ramping up for the end of the season, work getting crazier than ever and keeping up with blogging and my personal life. That’s why I am SO glad the hubbs and I were able to get away for a few days last week to recharge, unplug and just have fun!

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Back in February, on a cold, blustery, miserable day, we booked a 4-night cruise to the Bahamas, as a way to escape New England winter and just reset for a few days. It was our beacon of light at the end of a very dark, cold tunnel. In October we took our honeymoon in Hawaii, which you can read about here, so our main goal for this trip was for it to be cheap (cause really who can afford two vacations in one year??). Well if you haven’t heard, cruises are pretty affordable these days. Honestly I have always been very skeptical about cruising and have even been known to swear it off all-together, which probably sounded something like this; “I will never go on a cruise, it’s too claustrophobic! People get sick! TITANIC!!!”. Well, I have to admit that I was wrong. Cruises are kind of awesome and here’s why:

1. The boat is your giant playground.

In other words, I was never claustrophobic at all. The whole boat is yours to explore and take advantage of from the mini golf on the top deck, to the casino in the middle and hidden spots to hang out all over the place. Plus the ship stops on beautiful islands that you can get out on and find your adventure on land. We did have a window in our room, which probably helped, but our living space was fine, in fact I’ve been in smaller hotel rooms in Brooklyn! Cross claustrophobia off your worry list now.

IMG_08652. You will be forced to totally check out…and it’s amazing!

You will have zero service at sea to check Insta, Snapchat your day or do any of the other annoying things society thinks we should do to prove we’re having fun. You CAN purchase a plan to get access to social media, but honestly I think that’s stupid. This is your vacation, enjoy the moment, take photos and show people when you get home.

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3. There’s always something to do…which can be overwhelming at times.

We learned this the hard way. Every night they slip a schedule of events for the next day under your door. We tried to hit all the fun, but eventually sun and exhaustion took us down. Naps are highly encouraged between the hours of 4 and 5pm. Then you rally and continue your day with dinner, drinks, shows, dancing, hot tub….etc.

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4. Exercise is built in!

No need to hit the gym, just take the stairs. I think we both left with extremely toned glutes from the dozens of stairs we climbed every day. It was a great way to burn off the lava cake! I did actually hit the treadmill, which was hilarious because the boat sways you back and forth, which made for quite a challenging run!

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(This is the view from my treadmill. Not bad, right?)

5. The food is what dreams are made of.

Quinoa stuffed tomatoe with croquettes in a cream sauce. Molten lava cake. Oysters Rockefeller. Deconstructed ham sandwich appetizer. 24 hour pizza and ice cream. Need I say more? I had heard mixed reviews about Carnival food, but I have to say I was incredibly impressed every night with the creativity and quality of the food.

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So would I cruise again? Absolutely! I think there’s a time and place for boots on ground, map in hand adventure; exploring waterfalls and finding the hidden taqueria, but there’s always something to be said for sitting back, drink in hand, watching the land and sea pass by and letting someone else bring the entertainment to you.

What’s your favorite way to vacation? Land or sea?

Yoga, Rice and Everything Nice at Throwback Brewery

When you hear the word “brewery” your mind does not automatically conjure up images of bending yogis or brown rice. That’s why Throwback Brewery is in a league all its own. Situated in an 1860’s farmhouse, Throwback features an eclectic menu using local ingredients, creates unique craft brews and hosts really cool community events. Basically it’s awesome and if you haven’t been yet, you gotta go…ttttoday junior.

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Yesterday I stopped in with some friends for their $5 yoga, which they offer on Sundays at 11am in the loft of their barn, right above the brewery. Me and about 40 other people piled into the open space to breathe, get centered and count down the minutes until we were enjoying a cold one. Check out their event calendar so you can attend the next one! (P.S. they also have live music, cribbage and book club)

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A typical brewery menu would offer pizza, burgers, fries, etc. which is so 2005. Throwback delights with hearty modern dishes and twists on classics, all using fresh, local ingredients. They even make their own bread using the spent grain from their brewing process. So cool! I enjoyed the Fried Rice Bowl which consisted of brown rice with roasted squash, edamame, bean sprouts, radishes and organic chicken in their spicy sesame sauce topped with a fried egg. Holy-yum. Loved every second of it. I also had a side of fried sweet potato wedges and a few bites of a maple donut.

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The maple donut brings me to the next awesome thing that happened at Throwback yesterday – their Maple Madness festival! Described by my friend Corinne as “the most New Hampshire thing I’ve done all year”, this event was apparently the hottest thing happening on the Seacoast yesterday as we watched hoards of people pile in to get a taste of some maple beer and hear the band. Clearly the cold, dreary weather will not keep us New Englanders away from some good maple syrup.

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Did I mention that Throwback was founded by two women? How awesome is that?! Nothing like a little girl power to create a place that not only feeds your belly, but also feeds your soul.

This photo makes me cold just looking at it…luckily I’m heading to the Bahamas this week to defrost! Further posts make be delayed, but you can follow my trip on Instagram 🙂

What did you do this weekend?

How To Have A Beautiful Seacoast Wedding

Happy Monday! I’m taking a short break from healthy food and fitness today to talk about my wedding. I know the title of this post seems a bit boastful, but the truth is that my wedding was only beautiful because of all the amazing people involved that helped make it possible!

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One year ago today I was stressing over white lanterns, teardrop earrings and seating charts. Luckily I don’t have to deal with that anymore, but there are a lot of brides out there right now who are probably wondering things like “who should I choose for a DJ”, “how can I afford a beachfront wedding” and “what the h@ll am I going to do for favors”?

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So seven months later I’ve finally compiled a list of everyone who helped make my day so incredibly perfect, so that I can share it with others who may be looking for a little bit of help! And luckily for them, these vendors come Katie-approved. Believe me, my vetting process was intense and I am very picky, so rest assured, they are all top notch.

VenueThe Meeting House at the Union Bluff – York, ME

Shawn and I were married at the Union Bluff hotel in York, Maine. The hotel is located right on Short Sands Beach and the ceremony takes place on the “bluff” of grass overlooking the ocean. The reception is held in the Meeting House ballroom, which has a beautiful outdoor patio with ocean views. Two great things about this venue – 1. it comes with a wedding coordinator, Darlene Yankura, who is incredibly helpful and knows her stuff 2. their Sunday  pricing makes it actually affordable to get married on the ocean!

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Flowers – F…As In Flowers – Exeter, NH

Lynn is a magician with flowers and is literally the nicest person you will ever meet. She was always a text, email or call away and I fully trusted her to deliver creative arrangements, and that she did!

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Cake – Maryann Kane Cakes in Eliot, ME

Maryann took us by surprise. We were about to go with another (very expensive) bakery and then we did a tasting in Maryann’s home kitchen. It was the best cake we had ever had and at 10am we could not stop eating the double fudge chocolate slice she placed in front of us. The cake came out beautiful, she was easy to work with and best of all, it was a bargain price.

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Favors – Coastal Maine Popcorn – Portland, ME

How cute are these favors? These were one my favorite things about my wedding. I tortured my bridesmaids by making them fill up 120 jars of popcorn the night before the wedding, but in the end it was worth it. The popcorn came from Coastal Maine Popcorn in Maine and I highly recommend the Rice Crispy Treat flavor. Oh. my. god. so delicious.

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Dress – Madeleine’s Daughter – Portsmouth, NH

Skip David’s Bridal for your gown. Trust me. Getting your gown at Madeleine’s Daughter in Portsmouth is the quintessential dress experience.  The shop is beautiful and everyone treats you like a queen, or a princess rather. Who doesn’t want that?! They are able to accommodate all kinds of budgets and a personal consultant helps you through the whole process.

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Hair and Makeup – Polished Spa – Epping, NH

These girls are getting so popular, you better book now! Kassie and Tiffany were pros and made us all look b-e-a-u-tiful.

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Photographer – Shutter Eyes Photography – Boston, MA

Our photographer was able to make two awkward, shy people look like a million bucks. I mean, have you seen our photos? Trust me, we don’t look that good in real life. Will is so professional, quick to respond and most importantly takes amazing photos. He was recommended to us by a friend and we continue to recommend him to our friends time and time again.

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Videographer – Creative Edge Arts – Belfast, ME

Josh and Kyle were creative, professional and seemingly invisible! The best videographer is the one you don’t notice. P.S. if you’re on the fence about getting a videographer, DO IT! Watching our video was like reliving the day, and it goes by SO fast that you will want the opportunity to see it again.

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DJ/Guitarist – Aaron Denny  – Southern, NH

Aaron was our DJ and played classical guitar for our ceremony. Numerous people came up to us and told us how much they loved his playing. Plus he was great at keeping the party going on the dance floor!

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Overall it was truly one of the happiest days of my life. I remember feeling so calm and able to just enjoy the day, which was possible because of my amazing vendors (and of course a few helpful bridesmaids and groomsmen).

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If you are a bride in the Seacoast area planning your wedding, feel free to reach out to me with any questions! I’m happy to help wherever I can 🙂

And if you’re just a lover of all-things happy and pretty, I hope you enjoyed my wedding recap!

6 Healthy Food Swaps for Quick Meals

Eating healthy when you’re on-the-go can be quite challenging. And I am the queen of on-the-go, so I know the struggle is real.

Little tid-bit of info about my life – I work full time in marketing during the day and 2-3 nights a week I teach dance and rehearse at a local studio. That means a lot of my dinners are packed to-go or just need to be super quick.

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Over the years I’ve found some products that are easy AND healthy. The worst feeling is walking into a dance class with an overfull belly of McDonalds because you didn’t have time to make something healthy.

Below is a list of my top 6 Healthy Food Swaps for Quick Meals

1. Instead of 45- minute white rice…

Microwave brown rice/grain packet

One of my biggest pet peeves is how freakin’ long it takes to cook rice. Luckily, I found Seeds of Change rice packets. These guys are a life saver. And I love that they are incorporating other grains like quinoa and red rice.

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2. Instead of chicken nuggets…

Frozen sausage

As you found out in my last post, I love frozen sausage. They’re just so easy to pluck out of the freezer, microwave and BAM, you’ve got your protein in less than 3 minutes. Combine Roasted Garlic Al Fresco chicken sausage with some brown rice and vegetables and you’ve got a whole meal in less than 10 minutes. Just make sure the sausage you pick is nitrate free. Processed meats are OK in moderation, just make sure they are all natural or organic. I also love these Kayem artisan sausages!

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3. Instead of Easy Mac…

Whole grain mac & cheese box

You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re about to reach for the cereal…but wait! You have a box of mac & cheese! AND it’s whole grain?? WHaaaat? Combine one of these whole grain mac and cheese boxes with some frozen vegetables and you’re as good as gold. This Hodgson Mill Ultragrain Mac & Cheese is made with quinoa! So cool.

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4. Instead of canned vegetables…

Frozen vegetables

Quick, easy and there when you need them. With the same nutrition as the fresh version, you can’t go wrong. I especially like some of the Trader Joe’s frozen vegetables that have some tasty sauces or spices on them.

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5. Instead of Lean Cuisine…

Smart Made frozen meals

I do not recommend frozen meals on the reg. However, if you’re in a pinch, these Smart Made meals are actually not horrible for you and are truly tasty. My expectations were pretty low since frozen meals like this usually make me gag and then die of sodium poisoning. But, to my surprise it was pretty darn good. The idea is that they have swapped in healthier ingredients like brownie rice, whole grain pasta, turkey instead of beef, etc. I’ve had the Turkey Sausage & Roasted Veg Lasagna and the Roasted Turkey & Vegeteables meals, both of which made me feel great after and I could just reach into the freezer and grab it on my way out the door. Perfection.

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6. Instead of Ramen…

Hearty soups

This is definitely my last-ditch effort at a meal. But when all I can do is grab a can from the cabinet, I want to make sure that it contains something at least semi-healthy. Lately I’ve been loving these Campbell’s Well Yes soups. They are made with relatively healthy ingredients are surprisingly tasty. Sweet Potato Corn Chowder is my fave. But my all-time favorite soup/meal is from my man Wolfgang Puck. His soups are amazing and made with hearty organic ingredients. The butternut squash is my wintertime weakness.

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What do you eat when you’re on the go?

What To Do & Eat In Maui

Aloha! Are you dreaming of palm trees and warm breezes too?! If you’re in a northern climate like me, now is the time to plan your escape from the cold. So while everyone else is busy watching the Super Bowl (don’t worry it’s on in the background), I thought I would share with you some highlights from my trip to Hawaii!

WARNING: May induce extreme vacation envy and/or sudden-trip-booking syndrome.

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In October Shawn and I made the very (very) long journey to a place I had dreamed of visiting since I was a kid. My Dad used to live in Hawaii, so I made it my goal at a very young age to honeymoon there. And that we did! We visited Maui and Kauai, but today I’ll focus just on Maui. More to come on the amazingly beautiful island of Kauai.

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First I have to start by saying that Maui is one of the most beautiful, welcoming and vibrant places I have ever been. Once you step off the plane, breathe in the sweet air and talk to just one person, you’ll know that you’re in a magical place. Not only are you surrounded by natural beauty that you didn’t even know could exist, but all the people are so incredibly happy and kind. I think I would be too if I lived in Hawaii!

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Second I want to say that there are a lot of things to do in Maui so you definitely need to do research before embarking, just to make sure you know what you’re going to do and what you’ll have to pass on, because you cannot do everything. I used the internet, Maui Revealed travel books and friends as references.

Road To Hana

This was definitely a can’t-miss activity for us. Yes you have to wake up at like 6 am, so I recommend doing it on your first or second day to take advantage of jet leg. And yes the road is winding and slightly dangerous. BUT, it. was. incredible. Waterfalls, hidden caves, lava rocks and road-side food stands are just some of the highlights you will find. Here are my top 4 tips for Road To Hana:

  1. Download the Shaka Road To Hana app. It’s inexpensive and will guide you to all the stops even when you don’t have cell reception. The book is good to read beforehand, but can be really confusing to follow to a specific spot on the road.
  2. Bring a rain jacket and water/hiking shoes with grip. It rains about every 10 minutes on RTH so you will need the jacket if you want to get out of the car at all (which you will, every 10 minutes). Everything is muddy and wet so the water shoes are a must-do because they will dry quickly in between hikes. I got these Ryka Hydro Sport shoes and they were a life-saver.
  3. Stop at the food stands! Best banana bread and fruit I’ve ever had. There’s a lot of good food options along the RTH, so you don’t need to pack a lunch. We got fooled on that one and bought sandwiches before we left, paid for a cooler bag, which didn’t actually keep anything cold, and then found awesome taco huts and authentic eats along the way. On your way back you should stop at Mai Thai. Insanely good Thai food cooked by a little old lady in a hut by herself. “Best meal of my LIFE!” is what I exclaimed as I was shoving shrimp and noodles into my face as I spoon-fed Shawn his meal while he navigated the dark winding road home. Not an ideal situation because we didn’t head back before dark, but an ideal meal for sure.
  4. Go all the way to the Pipewai Trail. You will need to decide before you set out what you want to stop at. This is very important. You cannot stop at everything in one day and if you try you will be heading home at 2am and it will be very scary. The road is SUPER dark and winding and not good to travel at night. Just pick and choose what you want to see. I suggest NOT missing the Black Sand Beach and Pipewai Trail, which is located at the end of the road. At the end of the Pipewai Trail was a 500 foot waterfall…so friggin cool. See Waimoki Falls below.

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Haleakala Crater

The next must-do in Maui is the Haleakala Crater. I read a lot about this before deciding to go because they say the best way to see it is at sunrise, but we are decidedly NOT sunrise people. Also, the winding road up the side of a mountain did not thrill me. So we went around 10am and it was still ammmmaaaaazing. The drive up the mountain is scenic itself and when you get there it’s like you’ve landed on the moon. That’s actually how you will feel too. The elevation sickness definitely got to us, but you just have to take it slow, like turtle slow. 10,ooo feet is very high. I have to say that the drive was pretty scary. At times I had to close my eyes, but the view from the top was well worth it.

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After seeing the crater we stopped at Mama’s Fish House in the North for lunch where we ate one of the best meals of our lives. Seriously this place is NOT overrated. You must go here and you must not be deterred by the high prices. It’s well worth it and you can enjoy a walk on their beach after for freeeeee.

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Lahaina 

This is an adorable little town located on the West side of the island. Definitely take a drive through to see the endless coastline of beaches with surfers and campers hanging out and living the good life. A walk downtown is nice for some souvenir shopping and to see the largest tree in the United States, an enormous Banyan Tree. But the BEST part of Lahaina is Island Cream Co. Oh my god. I still dream about this ice cream experience. Island Cream Co. has actually been called the Best Ice Cream In America and I whole-heartedly agree! They claim that it’s not ice cream, not gelato, but rather a cross between the two – island cream. Whatever it is, it works for me. I had Maui Loco, which had coconut, macadamia nuts and chocolate chips, served in a homemade cone with a pirouline for dipping.

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Kanapali Beach

This is the beach our hotel was located on, which made for some easy snorkeling whenever we wanted! I recommend staying on or near this beach if possible, because it is apparently some of the best snorkeling and best swimming conditions on the island. We saw multiple turtles, an eel and colorful fish every time we swam. The water was warm, clear blue and very calm.

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The other good thing about staying near Kanapali beach is the close proximity to one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Mostly because it was so much fun! Slappy Cakes is an all-day breakfast joint where you can make your own pancakes at your table! Each booth has a hot griddle in the middle and you can pick your own batter like pumpkin, mix-ins like bananas and granola, and toppings like macadamia nut sauce, whipped cream and maple syrup!

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Holy yum.

Honestly I could go on and on about Maui and all the magical things that we did, but this post would get exceedingly long. And All this talk about good food has me ready for a snack. Must find chocolate covered macadamia nuts stash…

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If you’re not currently planning a vacation I hope this post inspired you, because there are studies that show that traveling literally makes you a better person. I think that’s a pretty good argument for getting on a plane. And if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii sometime soon, feel free to hit me up with questions! I’m more than happy to relive my experience by helping someone else plan theirs.

Aloha my friends!

4 Healthy Snack Swaps For The Food You Crave

Nowadays there are lots of healthier snack options out there to satisfy even the most ravenous sweet tooth. I’ve compiled a list of a few I’ve come across that are actually delicious. Because that’s the point, right? No one wants to be gnawing on cardboard when they just want a cookie.

I’m not saying that you should eat these every day, all day (although you might want to after you try them), but they are each packing some beneficial ingredients and are probably a bit better for you than their classic counterparts.

4 Healthy Snack Swaps For The Food You Crave

#1 – When You’re Craving GUMMIES

The Solution: Trader Joe’s Fruit Bar

I’ve never seen a fruit bar so jam-packed with goodness. This bar has flax and chia seeds and provide 6 grams of fiber! Next time you’re craving gummy worms, reach for this instead and let the superfoods do their work.

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#3 – When You’re Craving CHOCOLATE

The Solution: Lovely Dark Chocolate Coconut Chips

These little guys are my new favorite thing. Organic, non-GMO coconut chips covered in 60% cacao. Addicting, but winning in the antioxidant game. I actually found these in the food isle at Home Hoods.

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#3 – When You’re Craving COOKIES

The Solution: Zema’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are so cool. They’re gluten free, but actually taste good. Go figure! They’re made with a blend of quinoa, oat, teff and millet flour and also have flax and chia. Not going to lie I enjoyed a few dunked into a glass of milk. Because apparently I’m 5. Or Santa Claus.

Another Home Goods find!

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#4 – When You’re Craving CAKE

The Solution: Kodiak Cakes Cups

The Blueberry & Maple flavor below is actually more of a breakfast go-to for me, topped with walnuts, fresh blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup, mmmMMmmm!

But if you’re in a “I NEED CHOCOLATE CAKE RIGHT NOW” kind of mood, try their Double Dark Chocolate flavor with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt. You will think you have died and gone to healthy-cake heaven.

I buy these at Hannaford or Shaws, but they’re probably available at other groceries stores as well.

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These little cups are chock-full of 100% whole-grain goodness and have a pretty clean ingredient list. Each one has a whopping 6 grams of protein (plus 2 more if you use milk instead of water, which I do, duh) and 5 grams of fiber. This is 250 calories of cake that you don’t need to feel bad about.

Hopefully this list inspires you to upgrade your snacks so that you’re at least getting something good out of that chocolate splurge…may it be fiber, protein, antioxidants or just that good’ol happy feeling of satisfying your craving.

Truly, you CAN have your cake and eat it too.