Easy Protein Açaí Bowl

Living in California has definitely brought out my desire to eat healthy and fresh. There’s really no excuse not to here; the soil in California can grow just about any fruits and vegetables known to mankind. There’s fresh produce and seafood available everywhere. I’ve quickly realized that there are a few foods that you can find on just about every corner: sushi, poke bowls and my new favorite snack – açaí bowls!

Up until a few weeks ago, I had never tried the trendy “purple stuff” that you see all over everyone’s Instagram feed. I would pass people on the street eating bowls filled with fruit and purple ice cream and I was dying to try it! It just so happened that samples of açaí bowls were being passed out at a community event I was attending one night. Two bites into it and I fell in love. It tasted so yummy, which meant that it must be horrible for me, right?

A friend of mine was visiting at the time and she filled me in on all the health benefits of this newly-discovered açaí fruit that these bowls are made from. It’s basically a super food! The açaí berry contains more antioxidants than any other consumable berry – double the amount of blueberries. It’s also rich in fiber as well as heart-healthy fats and is one of the only fruits in the world with zero naturally occurring sugars! AMAZING. Plus, it’s so tasty. I quickly became obsessed. I had finally found something that I could eat whenever I was craving sweets or just needed a fresh mid-day snack, which is basically ALL the time. The only problem was, I refused to spend nine dollars every time I wanted one.

I decided to look up how to make one of my own. Not only would I be saving money, but I also would be able to control the ingredients going into it. So, I made sure to do my research and find all the best products, while keeping the sweet flavors, but minimizing the sugar and eliminating processed foods. I made sure to use as many organic products as I could find.

When I was finally at the grocery store searching for the frozen açaí berry packs, I discovered that Sambazon offered several different varieties. So, I purchased two – the Pure Unsweetened (because why would you ever consume more sugar than you have to?) and the Performance Protein, which is the one I used to make this bowl. Both are so yummy! The protein blend has added strawberry, so it’s not as strong of an açaí flavor as the unsweetened. But, I always prefer to add protein where I can in my diet, so right now it’s my number one choice! It also makes an excellent breakfast option.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please make sure to comment below with your thoughts.

Easy Protein Açaí Bowl

Course Breakfast, Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 packet frozen açaí berry blend I used the Organic Performance Protein blend by Sambazon
  • 1 banana frozen Tip: un-peel the banana before freezing
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond-milk
  • fresh fruit (strawberries/blueberries/banana) to top
  • granola to top - I used gluten-free vanilla almond agave granola by Back to Nature
  • shredded coconut to top - I used unsweetened by Bob's Red Mill
  • honey or agave syrup (optional) to top

Instructions

  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the acai berry packet, frozen banana, and 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk. Blend until completely smooth.

  2. Pour into a bowl and top with sliced strawberries, sliced banana, blueberries, shredded coconut and granola.

  3. Optional: drizzle with honey or agave syrup 

Recipe Notes

TIP: Read the instructions on the pack of the açaí berry mix before blending. I use a NutriBullet to blend the mix and I always need to run the packet under cold water to thaw slightly, then I break it up before inserting it into the blender. Otherwise, it's too frozen-solid to blend. If your blender is professional-grade, you shouldn't have an issue.

That One Time We Almost Went to Sundance

I’m sure most of you saw my endless Instagram stories a couple of weeks ago about our adventure to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. For those who haven’t, let me fill you in.

Fiancé received an invitation to attend the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, which is the largest independent film festival in the United States. We both immediately got excited because he has always wanted to go to Sundance and I like sun and dancing! That’s what they do there, right?

The event was in two weeks. Our excitement faded quickly when reality set in because oh, by the way, we were the parents of two dogs, whom we were responsible for. We also had guests coming into town to stay with us that same weekend (my soon-to-be brother-in-law and his lovely girlfriend). They would be staying for a week following the festival, but we still wanted to spend as much time with them as we could. Was the idea of going to the festival impossible? Should we just stay home? No way. We could definitely work it out. We would bring the dogs with us – easy! They do great on planes. It would be a quick weekend trip. They could play in the snow! I could get them little booties and snow jackets and they’d have a grand ole’ time. Plus, we could make it home the morning after the in-laws arrive, so we wouldn’t miss spending time with them. The perfect plan! So we thought. Our fun journey to get to Sundance ended up becoming an obstacle course from hell.

Firstly, the hotel we were booked in didn’t accept dogs. And all of the hotels that did accept dogs were sold out – of course. Because it was only two weeks before the largest film festival in the USA. Normal people planned their trips in advance. Okay, so we needed someone to watch our dogs. We’d never had to leave our pups in California before so who could we trust with our babies? Nellie has severe separation anxiety, so I worried about leaving her with anyone she didn’t already know. Being that we just moved to a new state, we didn’t know anyone. She’s also super sassy and occasionallyyy… bites. So, I did a ton of research around the Santa Monica area and found professional dog trainers to look after the both of them. We even met the couple beforehand to do a meet-and-bark (hehe). Okay, so we had our dogs covered. Now, we could finally get our flights booked! We would leave Thursday evening after we drop the dogs off at the sitter’s.

Fast forward to Thursday evening. We dropped the dogs off (I was that sad mom who was leaving her kids at Kindergarten for the first time) and we were headed to the airport. Our flight was due to take off in three hours! But just like in the films, as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot, Fiancé’s phone rang. The flight that we were booked on was oversold and we were bumped off the flight. Might, I add, that we were booked in first class. Who oversells first class??? Could they even do that? Apparently. It was insane. But, fine. We would re-book on another flight first thing in the morning.

Friday morning at 5:00am, we booked an Uber to Hollywood Burbank Airport in preparation for our 7:00am flight. That. Freaking. AIRPORT. Anyway, we arrived at the airport safely and we checked in our bags fine. Security was a breeze to go through and we were able to get coffee to kick start our morning. At 6:30am, a call came in over the intercom to tell us that we would begin boarding. All passengers lined up at the desk, ready to board, and then suddenly we came to a halt. They wouldn’t let us on board. We soon learned that our flight was actually going to be an hour delayed due to the sensor on the landing gear not working correctly. They would have to get engineers to come check the issue. Annoying. But, that’s fine by me – safety first! Both Fiancé and I are terrified of flying, so we definitely wanted to make sure the plane was working properly. Carry on.

Well, 8:00am came around and the plane hadn’t moved. There was no sign of the engineers. What was going on? Well, the intercom had the answer “the engineers are driving from Palm Springs, which is about 100 miles away, so it will be two hours before they arrive.” What??? They hadn’t even left yet? And why weren’t there engineers at this airport? Don’t things like this happen all the time? Still, we had plenty of time. Fiancé didn’t have to be at his event until 2:00pm, so as long as we took off in the next few hours, we would be fine. Ha. Ha.

Fast forward and 8:00am turned into 9:00am, which turned into 10:00am and the mechanics were STILL making their way to the airport. Really? Fiancé was losing his mind at this point and asked the airport staff where they were. “Don’t know,” they said. “You don’t know?” replied Fiancé. “Nope! They get here when they get here,” “Yes, but you said they were on the road and just two hours away three hours ago. Can you call them?” “Nope! They get here when they get here”. So helpful. So we waited. Since our flight had now been three hours delayed, we were kindly offered two $30 meal vouchers to use anywhere in the airport. Anywhere in the world’s smallest airport. There was only one restaurant. But, guess what??? They served mimosas! You better believe I was going to use my free vouchers to drink away our problems. At this point, Fiancé was going live on Instagram and telling the world about our airport delay. I didn’t even stop him. I was thoroughly enjoying it.

So, we escaped to the restaurant to drink alcohol and eat the free, carb-filled breakfast that we deserved, knowing surely that the engineers would soon arrive. With any lucky they’d evaluate the problem and have it fixed in no time. Or so we thought. In the time it took to finish our food and contemplate our third and fourth mimosas, they still hadn’t managed to arrive. It eventually took them five hours to get on the scene. Once there, they took a quick look and decided they might be able to get the puppy moving in half an hour. They specifically said they would at least make it “flyable” to get to Salt Lake City (very reassuring!). They were going to run one reset test and if it was successful, we would be out of there in no time.

…And do you think the reset was a success? Of. Course. NOT. They suddenly came to the conclusion that they were going to have to re-wire the entire plane, which would take four additional hours. I. Kid. You. Not. At this point, we were completely delirious. Fiancé had tweeted and Instagrammed the crap out of Delta. Meanwhile, I was capturing the entire thing on my own social media. It’s not like I had anything else to do. I spent $25 at the newsstand on beef jerky, pizza-flavored combos and Reese’s cups to get me through. How much longer were we going to have to wait in this airport???

Finally, TWELVE HOURS AFTER we arrived we saw the pilot walk into the waiting area. This was either going to be really good news or really bad news. Either way, I don’t think it would have phased us. It was now 7:00pm at night. We had spent our entire day inside a freezing cold airport, while watching the world tweet about how much fun they were having at Sundance. There were only eight of us from the flight left at the airport because all of the other passengers had given up. The pilot looked at us all and then gave us the news we were waiting for… “well, the plane is almost fixed”. Yes! “But, unfortunately, I’m over on my hours and we can not find another pilot to fly this plane. I’m going to the hotel to get minimal rest now. This flight will take off at 7:00am tomorrow morning. Y’all take care now.”

Ha. Ha. HAAA.

And that is how this story full of First World problems ends.

We never did make it to the Sundance Film Festival. Fiancé missed his event. We lost thirteen hours of our lives that we will never get back. But! On the bright side… our dogs got a little weekend getaway in the sunny outdoors and not only were we home to visit with our guests, but we were able to surprise them by picking them up at the airport that evening. At a different airport, that is. And to top it all off, we have one hell of a story to add to the list. Maybe, just maybe, we will make it to Sundance in 2019.

The Move

Okay, so I realize it’s been a little while since my first post. We’ve been living in California now for a little over two weeks – surprise! But, seriously… moving over here was one heck of a journey. We decided it would be a good idea to make our move across country as exhilarating and stressful as it could possibly be, so we did exactly that. We planned a vacation in the middle of our move.

The lease on our apartment in Florida ended a little over two weeks before we were moving to California, so we were going to be homeless for a while. We started planning everything well in advance, but finding a mover that seemed trustworthy, reliable and didn’t break the bank was more difficult than we had originally imagined. The first moving company that came by to do a quote sent a young woman and her four year old son. The woman did not speak and her child was literally attached to her leg the entire time I was showing her around the house. It was so weird. We eventually met a lovely man by the name of Larry who spent over two hours chatting with us about all of our options and making us feel comfortable – he also spent the last hour talking about his trip to London and showing us pictures of his favorite views of France, but that’s besides the point. Larry was the man. We hired the company to move all of our boxes out of our apartment and deliver them at the other end. We would do the packing.

Oh, the joys of packing! Not only did we have to pack-up our apartment to move, but we had to separately pack everything we needed for the next 19 days into suitcases – including staying at my parents, needs for the dogs, our planned trip to New Orleans, and ta four day cruise to Mexico. I know, I know… rough life. But, it was not easy! I’m a procrastinator as it is. Trying to plan my outfits for almost three weeks in advance was an absolute nightmare. I ended up finding a solve though. I went through my closet and pulled every cute article of summer clothing off it’s hanger and neatly folded it into my gigantic, extended suitcases. Fun Fact: my closet is color coordinated, so when I packed my suitcases, they looked like a rainbow. I know some of you will appreciate that. Anyway… guess what??? New Orleans was FREEZING COLD. I didn’t wear three-quarters of the clothes I packed. By the way, I will be doing a separate blog post about that trip. It needs it’s own explanation because it was absolutely insane. 

Meanwhile, our personal belongings were being trucked across the United States. Of course, out of the 19 days that the movers could have arrived to our new apartment in California, it happened to be one of the days that we were on a cruise ship – in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico – without any cell phone service whatsoever. Thank goodness for my rockstar mom who was able to sort everything for us! With her help along with the moving company and our apartment’s management, our items were able to be delivered while we were sipping Pina Coladas in Mexico.

Once we made it back to Orlando from our mini getaway, we had two days before the official move. Which meant I had two days left… to sell my car. Challenge accepted! You better believe that I sold my car for the price that I wanted the day prior to us moving. It was super bittersweet. I loved my car – it was the cutest!

Fast forward to MOVING DAY. The day that the two of us humans, our dogs and my amazing mother woke up at 4:00am to drive to the airport. It was finally time for the moment that I had been stressing about the most – traveling with the dogs on a plane! We knew we would carry them on board, but we had no idea how well they would behave or how terrified they would be. I had spent weeks shopping for the perfect “flight-approved” carrier cases, researching ways to prepare dogs for flights and calling American Airlines repeatedly to make sure the pups were cleared to fly. However, I failed to research where the puppy potties were at each airport. Why would I think to do that? I’ve never flown with dogs before. We had it all planned out. We get to the airport two and a half hours early, check our bags, get through security then sit in the lounge for an hour and take the dogs for a quick bathroom break before the flight. Yeah, okayyy. Here’s what really happened…

We arrived at the airport two and a half hours early, we checked our bags, got through security, and finally took the shuttle all the way to the terminal only to then discover that the dog relief area was back where we got dropped off. Like, before checking in. So, we ran all the way back to get them to pee and Nellie wouldn’t even go. By this point, after being super early, we were now running extremely late, so we decided we had to head back to the plane – no wee for Nellie! We rushed through the airport, through security for a second time, took the shuttle all the way to the terminal and only to then discover that our gate wasn’t even in the terminal we were at. I kid you not when I say we were running to the plane as they were doing last call for our flight. We were the absolute last to board. With two dogs. 

I had anti-anxiety medication to give Nellie thirty minutes prior to us flying. Do you think I remembered to do that in the midst of the craziness? Sure didn’t. In the first half hour of sitting on the plane, she tried to go after the flight attendant twice. She does not like other men coming near her momma, let me tell you. Oh, she also hates crying babies. Which were seated right behind us. At this point, I was so stressed that I was thinking of taking anxiety medication of my own. FIVE HOURS of this. My god.

Much to our surprise, the dogs were amazing after that! They ended up sleeping the entire flight. I couldn’t believe it.

Needless to say, all four of us landed safely in Los Angeles and we were welcomed by an apartment full of 58 boxes. Fifty. Eight. A few days of jet lag and unboxing later, we finally were almost completely settled in our new home. Fiance quickly became Target’s top furniture builder – constructing our new media stand, TV mount and storage shelf. We learned that Luke had a fear of elevators, which he has since overcome. Nellie may actually be a city girl at heart. And I thoroughly am enjoying watching everything come together with the sun shining through our floor-to-ceiling windows. One full heart right here!

Apartment Hunting

Last week, Fiancé & I took a quick trip to Los Angeles to check out a house. We had our eyes on a furnished rental for a while now, so we decided to test it out and stay in it for two nights. The pictures showed a beautiful backyard for the dogs, a garden with fresh avocados, oranges, lemons, asparagus, figs (what are those??), a stylish living room, a large dining table for hosting friends and a guest bedroom. All things pointed to this place being our dream home for our first few months of living in Los Angeles. After the first day though, we quickly discovered that we were very wrong. The place was built in the 1920s & it smelled of the 1920s. I’m pretty sure there is still dust and dog hair stuck to my leggings from that couch. We were tossing and turning all night while trying to sleep in what felt like a haunted bedroom. I had to turn the mirror to face the wall, for fear of spotting a small child. And of course right before bedtime, Fiancé’s biggest fear came alive when he spotted his arch-enemy, a spider, on the wall. Needless to say, we spent the next couple of days in the city searching for alternative places to live.

The next day was a turning point for us though. We spent the morning outside in the garden drinking coffee, which actually was the most enjoyable time we had in our 24 hours of being there. The air was so refreshing. The weather really was perfect there. I had heard people say that all the time, but it really was so true. I had a migraine for two days and I couldn’t even be in a bad mood. We made a few last minute phone calls to apartment companies in desperation to find something else, anything else. You know we must be desperate when I pick up the phone… because I hate talking on the phone. Don’t ever call me. All the while, Fiancé was playing games on his laptop – obviously super concerned with our living situation. And before we knew it we were taking a drive to Santa Monica – the most beautiful city on earth. There were so many incredible restaurants, bars, cafés, shops, polite people and so many dogs! The vibe was incredible. We had afternoon tea at a British Pub nearby. Well, I had afternoon tea and he had a beer. Which one of us is British again? And to top it off… we ended up finding the perfect apartment! So we thought. Until the following day when we were almost ready to go sign our lease.

We were sitting at a bar overlooking the Santa Monica Pier, when I asked Fiancé to search for the address. When he did, he unintentionally came across an insane amount of horrible reviews that referenced everything from robberies and muggings to fleas and drugs. Eek! At this point, we only had five hours left until our flight back home took off. If we didn’t find a place now… what would we do? I spent the next hour calling surrounding apartment communities in desperation to find a home. We were panicked at this point. We had just spent three days in Los Angeles and would be flying home in a few hours with no confirmation of where we would be living. But like most things go in life, it all worked out for the better. We found an apartment that was absolutely perfect! It had a 4.8 star rating on all Google searches! The apartment itself was breathtaking with it’s floor to ceiling windows and it was in a much better location. The only problem was that Fiancé couldn’t seem to decide where he was going to set up his PlayStation.

We spent so much time filling out the application and sitting in LA traffic on the way back that we almost missed our flight. And by almost missed our flight – I’m not exaggerating. I was having heart palpitations from how much Mr. Stress Ball was making me panic. He literally opened Google Maps as we were on the shuttle to the airport, so he could see a GPS image of where we were in relation to Terminal 4. And yes, he followed that dot up until the very last second that we pulled into the terminal. The best part was when his bag was chosen to be searched. His entire case had to be opened and the sweetest old lady spent every slow second carefully handling each article of clothing.

Needless to say, one rollercoaster of a weekend and a red eye later, we made it back home to Orlando at 5:00am. And we couldn’t wait to fall asleep in a bedroom that wasn’t haunted. But I could honestly say that even in the most stressful moments, searching for the perfect apartment together was fun, exciting and most importantly – memorable. I can’t wait to start the move.