Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Protein Bars

The finished product!  So proud of how well these turned out and how delicious they taste!

The finished product! So proud of how well these turned out and how delicious they taste!

Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Protein Bars

(with optional coconut and walnuts sprinkled on top)

There’s something about the word “pumpkin” that makes women everywhere giddy.  I think it has to do with the changing of the seasons, cozying up next to a fireplace (preferably with your sweetheart), and relaxing and enjoying your life. Well I LOVE pumpkin desserts, but I don’t do eggs, dairy, or sugar.  So

I wanted to create healthy pumpkin recipe because so many recipes have eggs, and dairy, and gluten, and sugar.  I stay away from all of those things, but especially sugar.  Sugar makes me depressed and crabby,  and my kids wonder why I’m suddenly so grumpy after eating it.  (To find out more check out JJ Virgin’s new book, Sugar Impact.  It’s scary how many “healthy” foods HIDE sugar!)  So I created a recipe last night and they came out amazing. They’re gluten free and vegan pumpkin protein bars….or you can call them little healthy slices of heaven.  I wanted to add a little bit of coconut and walnuts on top.  You don’t have to.  Hubby did NOT want any coconut because it would make it too sweet.  That’s why only half of the bars have it.


Here’s the recipe:

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12-18


1 cup of RESET protein powder – vanilla flavored (or use a pea based protein of your choice)
2 cups ground oats (blend until powdery in your blender)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
1 very ripe banana
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 tbs freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons of oil (I used what was in my kitchen since I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping – so I used extra virgin olive oil)

Optional ingredients:

  • Coconut sprinkled on top
  • Walnuts sprinkled on top

Uncooked gluten-free, vegan pumpkin bars just before going in the oven

Uncooked gluten-free, vegan pumpkin bars just before going in the oven


Preheat oven to 350°
Lightly spray pan with oil. Use a glass rectangular casserole pan for best results
Mix dry ingredients together
Mix wet ingredients together
Combine the dry and wet ingredients.  Blend or stir until creamy.  (You can even just use a fork!  Super simple!)
Spread evenly in your pan

OPTIONAL: Sprinkle your walnuts on top (be sure to gently press them into the batter so they don’t fall off as you’re eating them once your bars are done)
Sprinkle coconut shreds across the top


What did you think?  How did you like it?  Did you make any modifications?  Tell me about your experience below.


3 Healthy Habits To Help You Look Younger Without Botox

3 Healthy Habits To Help You Look Younger Without Botox

Do you have those days when you start to feel (or heck, LOOK) your age?

Back spasms (where the heck did THAT come from?!), you can’t sleep, you always feel fatigued, and you are losing your mind….no really, you can’t remember anything anymore – so you are truly losing your mind!  Right?!?!

However, you see women get older and look pretty good. How do they do it? By staying fit and taking care of themselves in creative ways that you don’t always see in the magazines. Learn to “embrace your age.” Here are a few suggestions.

Go to the Barre (You Won’t Find Margaritas at This ‘Bar’)

barre workout

Anything BARRE is an awesome way to stay fit and with it’s popularity increasing you can find barre classes in almost every city.  (Bonus – the classes are almost always 100% women…..Nothing against the guys, but I am not a fan of all their grunting and groaning and meat-market vibes they give off when they are working out with/near you at traditional gyms).  But if you have to travel too far to use this killer workout that keeps celebs like Taylor Swift lean, then there are several fabulous videos you can buy online.  My all-time favorite (and the one that helped me get ready for my first national competition – wearing a bikini on stage – AFTER having children is Exhale Core Fusion Body Sculpt.   There are tons of fabulous ones out there, but this one is still my favorite.

Take a Bath – aka “Meditation”


You’re stressed.  You have 20 MILLION things to do, places to be, kids’ schedules to organize (and lunches to pack), and you’re starting from a point of fatigue, burnout and “holy crap I forgot about …..”  So the LAST thing you actually do have is time.  Especially time to do nothing….which is how I always viewed meditation.  Now I see meditation as a long, steamy bubble bath with L’Occitane Shea Foaming Cream.  OMGosh it’s freaking heaven!

Here’s the deal.  You KNOW physical appearance isn’t the whole ball of wax.  You can workout and get a rock-hard 20 year old’s body -it may be hard, but if that’s how you want to spend your time, it’s totally doable.  But if you don’t keep yourself fit on the inside, the whole fitness thing is moot….and you’ll frown more….which causes wrinkles.

Meditation is all about learning how to give 100 percent of your attention to focus on one thing.  All you need to do is learn a meditation technique that will help you breathe in a way that provides tranquility and allows you to benefit by the serene feeling and overall well-being that meditating provides. T he benefits from meditation are crazy good for how you feel.  It reduces panic attacks, relieves stress, and increases your general feeling of happiness.

Which all translates to you feeling calmer – so your ‘stressed-out-face’ wrinkles don’t come out to play as often.

Pop a Pill…..Better Known as  - Vitamins

Supplements - pills and leaves

Let’s look at a few things that will reduce and prevent those wrinkles without it being “so much work.”

Meditation is part of being fit on the inside, and vitamins are an essential part of that too. While you are taking the very minimal amount of Vitamin A and C that you need for your insides, slather some on the outside of your body, too.

Applying Vitamin A and C topically is like getting a mini face-lift.  When you get a face cream, look for retinoids listed in the ingredients, such as Retinol or Renova. Those are the pharmaceutical names for Topical Vitamin A. Look for Topical Vitamin C in a serum.

Which healthy habit are you going to try first?

New Shoes CAN Change Your Life!

Jimmy Choo Heels

New Shoes CAN Change Your Life!

So I did something a little unusual today. I got shoes for my daughter’s homecoming dance (…and prom and graduation and wedding….).

Now these aren’t just any shoes. These are AMAZING shoes! Even I don’t have anything quite this fabulous! But they were “free” (I ‘won’ the auction for a pair of fab shoes at last year’s Dress For Success gala).

We went to Saks Fifth Avenue (I never go there because I love bargains too much!) But this time I did, and took her with me.  She LOVED it.  She almost felt guilty for even being in there.  But I made her look at everything and try on several pairs.  She even tried on some gorgeous beaded cocktail dresses (thankfully for my wallet, they didn’t fit) and makeup colors.

But here’s the best part: [Read more...]

6 Tips to Revive Your Youthful Beauty

Feel Fabulous!6 Tips to Revive Your Youthful Beauty

Have you ever looked in the mirror and saw Superwoman staring back at you? That’s right, small miracles happen 24/7 because of your superhuman powers. You make school lunches during a business call. You eradicate tantrums and meltdowns while applying mascara. And dinner (eventually) gets cooked as you blog on the kitchen counter. As the heroine of your family, home and business, you’re a strong and empowered force—most of the time. Unfortunately, super powers can’t fight exhaustion, wrinkles and stray gray hairs. Yes, ladies, every 365 days we do add one more candle to the birthday cake.

Your Superwoman self knows aging is a beautiful part of womanhood, but every gal needs a pick-me-up every so often. It’s time to rejuvenate your youthful beauty and revive your playful side with these tips:

Embrace the New Hot

“Elle Macpherson might be the hottest 50-year-old woman ever,” wrote Elite Daily, a website that bills itself as “The Voice of Generation Y.” Sure, but Macpherson comes from exceptionally blessed genetics and commits to a stringent lifestyle the average woman couldn’t replicate. We’re all women, and we should all celebrate the shared experience of womanhood and growing older. Elle’s halfway to 100 and rockin’ it. You can, too, by confidently embracing the sexiness of your age. Follow in the footsteps of Hollywood starlets Diane Lane, Gwen Stefani, Sophia Vergara and Cameron Diaz, who have all passed the 40-year mark proving that a woman can get hotter with age.

Get a Fierce New Look

Sheryl Crow sang it best: “A change would do you good.” Change is good. Make a change with a jolt of color. Show off fire engine red lipstick during your next luncheon. Freshen your tresses with a lighter and brighter hue. Make bright clothing statements, or use color blocking to make daring fashion impressions. If you want to feel young, be fierce and turn heads.

Try a Little Retail Therapy

Luckily, our digital devices provide instant access to online storefronts, where we’ll find beautiful things to put into our virtual shopping carts and then our closets. Splurge for an iconic Eliza J dress or a luxury Coach designer handbag to get a hot, trendy boost to your look. Retail therapy is like dipping your toe in the fountain of youth.

Get Fancy

Can’t remember the last time you wore heels or walked out of the house feeling like a 10? Ladies, ditch your black elastic-waist yoga pants and pull out the ponytails. Plan a special date night or GNO to glam it up—because you deserve it. Feeling feminine and beautiful will take you back to the memorable moments of your younger years like your wedding day, first date or prom night. This is your night to dazzle and sparkle; the more beads and frills, the better. It’s your night to twinkle and make you forget about dirty diapers and overdue deadlines.

Sweat It Out

Still struggling with dragging energy levels, no matter how much bronzer and under-eye concealer you apply? Lethargy wears on your appearance, and appearing tired is just a kinder way of saying you looked weathered by the years. Along with a clean diet and proper hydration, you need to exercise to break chronic fatigue and boost energy levels. Challenge yourself; maybe it’s time you tested your limits with CrossFit, hot yoga, marathon training or boxing. Not only will a new fitness regimen perk you up, it will make you glow with confidence.

Beauty Sleep

If you’re living the Superwoman lifestyle, you’re probably sacrificing sleep. Adequate shut-eye preserves your beauty, healthy skin and youthful accents. Drop-dead gorgeous starlets Penelope Cruz and Heidi Klum have once claimed to get at least 10 hours of sleep a night, shares Hip & Healthy, proving that sleep is a beauty essential for replenishing the skin and enhancing mental well-being. Commit to a reasonable bed time every night and put away technology. Sleep will brighten your peepers and produce a vibrant aura to look more like a natural beauty than a killer zombie the next day.


Abby Terlecki sees herself as one of those creative writer-types who always prefers to tell stories with her keyboard than through her mouth. When Abby’s not writing freelance articles, text messages, to-do lists, or CrossFit scores, she’s practicing her craft as a full-time writer for a marketing agency in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 12 MAKEUP BRUSHES You Need to Look Your Most Gorgeous – Kelly Wisniewski

Lets talk golf.  Yep golf.  

When I was an artist at Saks Fifth Ave I had the pleasure of selling some of the best brushes in the business.  Many of the customers would ask why they needed more than one or two( eye ) brushes and I would explain it like this: You know how all golf clubs look the same but hit the ball differently? Well brushes are the same way.  The brush will pick up and place product differently so that the effect will be lighter or heavier depending on the brushes size , shape and hair. All of these are factors to take into consideration.

When choosing a brush there are key elements to understand:  the longer the hair, the softer the hair, the more sheer the application.  Synthetic hair is best for wet and or creams; short , stiff brushes are best for blending/smoking liners and fluffy soft hairs are best for all over blending.

I have recently (last year) discovered the most wonderful tool in my arsenal , the Beauty Blender. This pink egg shaped wonder makes a foundation application look like the most flawless skin ever!!! Ive used other sponges and believe me when I say, There Is NO other!

[Read more...]

It’s Never Too Late to Create the Life You Want

Danielle TamesIt’s Never Too Late to Create the Life You Want – Danielle’s Story

Twelve years ago, if somebody had told me that this would be my Life, I would have told them that they were completely insane. That is the funny thing about Life, no matter how hard we try to control it or plan it all out, Life has a mind of its own. Life does what it dang well pleases.

Back in 2002, I was in my early 20s and had recently moved back to Atlanta after a one year stint in my hometown of New York City. As much as I love my extended family and friends, living in New York dug up issues from my childhood, and triggered unhealthy behaviors that at the time, I was unwilling to address. I bolted back down South at my first opportunity, I needed to escape and I ran as fast as I could, back to the Southern pleasantries and magnolias; and into the arms of the man that would become my husband. Back then, I wasn’t looking to get married. I was looking to find myself, and for the love and acceptance that I had been longing for since I was a child. It was never my intention to begin living with my then boyfriend right away, but that Life thing had other plans.

I rented an apartment with two close friends in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. It was a nice place that none of us and our 24 year old salaries could afford on our own. We signed the lease, and were excited to move in when the unthinkable happened. One of my roommates was killed in a car accident. The days that followed were a blur, packing up his things and bringing them back to his family and attending his service in South Carolina. My other roommate and I were both reeling with grief, and couldn’t afford the apartment on our own, so we split apart and I went to live with my boyfriend until I figured out my next steps. I hardly had time to collect myself when I received a call that my close friend from high school and college had been killed in a motorcycle accident. With only 3 weeks between the passings of two of my closest friends, to say that I had an emotional collapse is a mild understatement.

I had never thought of myself as a fragile person before. I knew that I had issues – as we all do – and growing up in a challenging environment where I had never received the encouragement and support that I craved, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms. I punished myself by denying my body nourishment, I was a people pleaser who would rather be miserable myself than to ask for what I needed because I never felt deserving of anything good. I didn’t feel worthy. I was taught that being selfish was a horrible personality trait. After the deaths of my friends, I spiraled and couldn’t handle my grief or my own life and was more than willing to hand it over to someone and let them deal with it. That person was my then boyfriend.

A year after the passing of my friends, I entered treatment. I was desperate to climb out of the hole of depression that I had dug for myself. It had been the year from hell. I lost myself in my sadness, and I punished myself in a futile attempt to regain control. Any joy, curiosity, or interest that I had disappeared and I was on auto pilot. I had zero concern for my own health or well-being. I meandered through life, taking direction and doing as I was told by my significant other, all the while I drifted further and further away from the girl I had been before. That girl was not weak; at least not on the outside. Though I viewed my boyfriend as supportive because I was such a train wreck, I was blind to how controlling he was; or maybe I was just numb. Though part of me believes that he was glad that I sought help, I also see how much it scared him. Even though he is someone who doesn’t believe in medication, I know he was relieved that I was prescribed antidepressants that flattened my mood. I couldn’t reach those terrible lows, but I couldn’t feel joy either. Slowly, I began functioning and working again. We became engaged and married the following year.

Danielle TamesFor so long, I viewed our relationship as a good one, and in some ways, life saving for me. Looking back, he kept me afloat, and supported me – but more in the way that a father cares for his child and not like a man values his wife. All decisions were made by him; he had absolute control over everything from finances and where we lived, when and how we exercised, where we went, what we did, what we ate and even what I wore. I had to be there when he arrived home from work, and I could never talk to family and friends on the phone if he was present. The week after my 29th birthday, he announced that we were moving across the country. There was no discussion. I was taken along with him; it was easier than fighting a battle that I would lose, but I was miserable. I never wanted to move to Phoenix, but oddly enough, it became the city of my rebirth, just like the mythical Phoenix itself – it was here that I rose from the ashes.

Five months after we moved to Phoenix, my husband’s company closed. The mortgage and real estate market crashed and since my husband had been the main source of income for our family, it was devastating. He had total control of our finances – he wouldn’t even let me know where our assets were – but I had trust in him at first. He was my husband. I made lifestyle adjustments and eliminated expenses I thought we could do without. Since we had lost our health insurance, I weaned myself off of my antidepressants. After the medication had left my system, the fog lifted and I started to wake up.

I found my voice. Things that I had let go of as to not start a fight, I spoke up about. I wanted to become an active participant in my Life, and quit letting things just happen to me. I had turned a blind eye to the countless, horrible, betrayals in my marriage, feeling that I never deserved more than what I was getting, that it was selfish of me to stand up for myself. After all, who did I think I was? All of a sudden, I had the stirrings of WORTH and it terrified me, but it terrified my husband even more.

For me, my worth came from my new career in medical sales. Though initially scared to take the opportunity, I didn’t think I could do it and feared that I would fail miserably, I flourished. I found that I loved my job, which I was good at, and I felt valued. I was empowered by my ability as an earner, a resource, and a capable woman. At work, I could be the person that I truly was inside, and not have to make myself small for anyone to earn their approval. I was fearless and confidant. For the first time in my life, I felt good enough, and this started a tidal wave of events that I never could have predicted.

This brand new feeling of worthiness gave me the strength to leave a marriage that had become controlling, manipulative, oppressive, and deceitful. I don’t believe that my now ex-husband acted out of malice, I believe that he signed up for a wife who had no will of her own and he preferred it that way. Instead of growing together, he wanted all aspects of our life together to be dictated by him alone, and that didn’t work for me anymore. Some of the things that he did and said in a desperate attempt to regain control of our marriage, still echo in my mind at times, and I fight to squash the feelings those memories dig up.

When I left my ex, I had $50 in my checking account, he had wiped out my savings, and I had no furniture in the apartment that I needed my family’s help to rent. I remember sitting on the floor in the empty living room and crying uncontrollably. How was this Life? I was scared and alone, I had been isolated from friends and moved to the opposite side of the country from everyone that I knew and loved.

Little did I know that Life was just beginning for me. I am my own woman and free to make my own choices. I have learned to trust my judgment, speak my mind, and stand up for myself and others. I have learned to accept my mistakes when I make them and try not to punish myself for perceived shortcomings. I have learned about love and loss; I have experienced devastating heartbreak and also true friendships. I have become emotionally intelligent and situationally aware. Most importantly, I have learned to set boundaries and establish what is healthy for me and what isn’t. As a first born, a Virgo, and a chronic people pleaser, learning to speak up and say NO, which is sometimes painful for me to do, has been a huge step. I have also learned that it is okay to remove toxic people from my life, even if they are my own flesh and blood. I have learned that sometimes it is okay to be selfish. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.

Though this is the end of my essay, it is really still just the beginning. It is never too late to begin to create the life that you want and deserve to have. I am a work in progress – we all are. After years in a gilded cage, I am still learning about what makes me tick. I am rediscovering myself and what I like to do, where my passion lies. I am working on getting outside of my comfort zone and to quit worrying about what others may think of me, or worry about failing. I am eternally grateful to my wonderful friends, family members, and people who are a part of my every day for being there and making my life richer. They have picked me up off of the floor, dusted me off, and helped me to see that I CAN, even when every fiber of me screamed otherwise. I want to live my life with authenticity, and to really and truly be present for each and every moment. Being vulnerable is a big part of that, and each day I am taking a step to show the world who I really am, love me or not. The words that I have written right here are a leap of faith. So here I am, essentially naked on your screen; bearing my soul and my story, but this time I am comfortable with the discomfort because I am comfortable with me.

“BEST Mascara” – Cari Baker, Makeup Artist

Cari Baker, Makeup Artist

Cari Baker, Makeup Artist

“BEST Mascara I have EVER used” – Cari Baker, Makeup Artist

Oh the woes of a makeup artist.. Rarely do I get sucked into the vortex of “Its the next big thing, Its Amazing, It’ll change your life blah blah blah..”

But Urban Decay Cosmetics …with your shiny packaging and your promise of the Biggest Baddest Blackest lashes ever, I’ll be danged if you didn’t woo me to the add To Cart button! [Read more...]

How to STOP Breakouts – Over 30 years old

photo (3)How to STOP Breakouts – Over 30 years old

For awhile there I had terrible skin. Breakouts all the time.

  • I was told it was hormones. 
  • I was told I needed expensive skincare products. 
  • I was told to change my pillow case every day. 
  • I was told to clean my cell phone daily.

But it took a lunch with my friend #jjVirgin - and she asked why the hell was I eating dairy….”doesn’t it make you break out?” Uhm, I honestly didn’t know since my skin still looked terrible – even after I did all of the above. 

You see, eating healthy is something I love. So, I used to eat low fat cottage cheese and organic milk every day because it was ‘healthy’.

Almost immediately after STOPPING ALL DAIRY – my skin cleared and stays clear…until I eat dairy again.

Are you over 30 with skin that breaks out? Have you tried eliminating dairy? Eliminate dairy and eat/drink 8-10 servings of veggies EVERY DAY to dramatically change your skin.  See my Beauty Juice Recipe HERE

And yes, the more things you do, the better your skin will be.  So…..

  • Use skin care with active ingredients (like retinal, salicylic acid, etc.) – 30-90 days to see results
  • Get your hormones balanced by a naturopathic physician or endocronologist who specializes in hormones (sometimes it’s something as simple as getting a prescription for birth control) – 30-90 days to see results
  • Eliminate dairy (That means EVERYTHING dairy) – 1-3 weeks to see results
  • Consume 8-10 servings veggies daily (eat them or drink them) – 1-3 weeks to see results

What have you noticed makes a big difference in how your skin looks?

Tips for Savvy Moms

all things mamaTips for Savvy Moms

By now, you’ve probably seen the 7 quick and easy things you can do to help you go from feeling drab to feeling FAB, right?  Well, recently I chatted with All Things Mama star, Nadine Bubeck about a FEW of the 7 things.  Sometimes it’s fun for you to have a visual.  So here you go.   [Read more...]

Diane Aiello – World Class Makeup Artist

Diane AielloDiane Aiello – World Class Makeup Artist

Diane and I met over our love of toffee….specifically our love of our friend Stacey who co-owns Goody Two’s Toffee (which is seriously THE BEST toffee in the whole entire world.  Seriously..

We bonded over our passion for helping women look and feel amazing.  Diane’s resume is to-die-for and she’s one of the most coveted makeup artists to work with.  And EVERYONE loves her!  Models, photographers, agents, editors….everyone!  Why?  Because she gets the best possible results for whatever the project is.  Whether it’s a high-fashion, vintage-glam, fresh and natural….whatever it is, she captures it in a way that is beautiful and polished.

Here’s more about her including a small sampling of the magazines, celebrities and designers who have trusted her with their image……. [Read more...]