Laid Back Looks: Fall Fashions

Holiday planning, holiday shopping, work, kids, school, final exams, presentations…sound familiar? With everyone’s schedules on overdrive this month, I thought now would be a good time to share a few laid-back outfit ideas. Being busy leaves little energy to put thought into an outfit, and with stress levels on the rise I’m sure you’d like to stay comfortable as well. Below are 3 different seasonal trends—puffer vests, over-sized sweaters, and sneaker wedges (new this year)—each styled 3 different ways. Whether you’re running to class, running errands, or have a low-key date, I’ve got you covered:

Puffer Vest

With this voluminous topper, make sure to balance out your look with a more tailored bottom. I chose to pair each look with a skinny jean to accentuate the body since the vest hides your true shape. I typically think of puffer vests as a no-fuss outer layer to throw on for running to class, running errands, or running with your dog. That’s why each of the above outfits are paired with jeans—it’s a casual outerwear garment that should be treated as such! The first two looks (one paired with a black hoodie + flat chelsea boots, the other paired with a raglan style sweater + flat knee high boots) are appropriate for casual day-wear, visiting friends, running errands, etc. The last of the three looks is still a casual look, but it shows that you put a bit more thought into your outfit with color-coordination and pairing with a chic heeled bootie. I find the last look appropriate for a daytime date or grabbing coffee with a girlfriend downtown.

Over-Sized Cardigans

This comfy staple sweater presents the same issue as a puffer vest: it hides your shape. Depending on your size it may even overwhelm your frame entirely (petite ladies beware). Despite the risk, an over-sized sweater presents just as much versatility as it does warmth and comfort. To ensure that you’re not lost in fabric I’ve paired each sweater with a bottom that will show off your body rather than hide it. 1. Colored Skinny Jeans, 2. Printed Skinny Jeans, 3. High-waisted Skirt + optional tights. Look 1 is casual enough for everyday wear, look 2 is cute for a date-night to your favorite restaurant and a movie, and look 3 is appropriate for office wear. You could also pair an over-sized cardigan with a knee-length, or midi-length, dress. Make sure that the dress is fitted (even bodycon if that suits your shape) to avoid adding extra volume underneath the sweater that can be confused with extra volume added to you. If pairing with a dress, avoid a maxi length too, to ensure you’re not engulfed in fabric. The idea for styling an over-sized cardigan is to be comfortable and look effortlessly chic and put together—NOT to look like a Mary Kate mess.

Wedge Sneakers

While I have been debating whether or not to invest in this trend for months, I think that these sneakers are the ultimate way to add a little height and sass while still looking effortless (they are sneakers after all!). I chose to pair each shoe with the corresponding outfits for specific reasons. 1. A solid blue shoe is a statement—I chose to pair it with a multicolored sweater so they won’t overpower the outfit. If you have a single tone sneaker wedge, try to look for a sweater that has your shoe’s color as an accent. This will avoid a matchy-matchy look. 2. If your particular pair of sneaker wedges is multi-toned, opt for a simple black and white (or tan and brown) look to avoid an eyesore of color. I chose a few dresses: a T-shirt dress (to wear with a black skinny belt to define your shape), a sweater dress, and a simple cotton swing cut dress. Each is a simple, casual, comfortable dress that would look effortless with the red and black kicks. Add a slim-fitting black jacket to tie your whole look together. 3. These are the perfect shoes to wear to your yoga class and still feel somewhat appropriate to run errands afterwards with no need to change! Yes, they’re still an athletic-inspired shoe, but the extra boost in height will make you forget they’re a casual shoe.

When Over-Eating Doesn’t Need to be Over-Thought

Thanksgiving is the kick off to a never-ending slew of holiday parties among friends, family, workplaces, neighbors, and nearly any social group. As I’m sure you all experienced with Thanksgiving, the holidays also tend to mean indulging in things you wouldn’t normally, i.e. fatty foods, seasonal drinks, a higher number of drinks, and increased laziness (read: slacking on workouts).

The holiday season presents many dietary hurdles for those of us watching our waistlines—leaving many women searching for the almighty answer to “how can I maintain my figure during the holiday season?” Let’s face it: the holidays are the one designated time of year to spend with family. Being around those you love makes everyone more comfortable and tends to make people deviate from their normal eating and drinking habits. Whether it’s the warm fuzzy feeling of bonding with Mom in the kitchen over a family recipe (that uses full-fat everything), to going out to bars with friends you haven’t seen in years once you’re actually home, to the spread of comfort food at your holiday feast—I’d be shocked to hear if you didn’t expect to gain at least a pound or two. There’s no reason to stress about this! Too often I hear women saying, “Ugh, I feel disgusting from eating that [insert comfort food of choice here]. I need to go on a diet this week.” Instead of mentally preparing yourself for a near-starvation diet, simply follow these easy 3 steps.

1. Don’t worry about it! Stressing over a few  pounds or a little bloat  may result in even more over-eating, not to mention a decrease in self confidence. There’s no use in over-thinking the damage that’s already been done. Nervous eaters take note! Giving this more thought than necessary will lead to even more over-eating. Let this slide—it’s a mere slip-up in your normal dietary routine. You’ll get back on track tomorrow 🙂 (Don’t just say it, actually follow through with it!)

2. Don’t automatically think that 1 day of indulgence means you have to go on a crash “diet.” It is always best to think about your normal eating routines as just that: your norm. If you’ve overeaten for a day or so, going on a crash diet will not be fun. Because your stomach will already be stretched out to the quantity of food you consumed, you will feel like you’re starving yourself if you severely cut your portions to miniscule amounts. Instead, switch back to your normal portion sizes for the next few days and simply make healthy eating choices. After a day of overeating (remember last Thursday?) I make sure to increase my consumption of water based foods (salad, raw veggies + hummus, actual water) and switch back to my typical smaller portion sizes. There’s no need to punish yourself, just revert back to your norm.

3. Sweat it out! Don’t lose sight of your workouts & portion control. Just because you may feel slightly pudgy-er due to your food baby doesn’t mean that you should pity yourself and slack on workouts. There’s no better feeling than working up a sweat (hello, endorphins!) and it will make you feel a bit more at ease because you’re being proactive about alleviating your bloat. There’s no use in putting yourself through an especially grueling workout—you will be excessively sore tomorrow and won’t want to continue to work out for a few days, only making your gross feeling even worse. Opt for a light cardio routine (yoga, brisk walk, light jog) to get the food “moving through your system” 😉


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Not So Thankful: Holiday Pounds

Sitting down at the table with family and friends, your aim is to enjoy your day not to over think what you eat. To help you lovely ladies mindfully munch this Thursday, here are a few suggestions on what to choose while loading your plate. While I don’t enjoy stating actual calorie counts, I’ve provided them below (in the drinks section only) as a general guideline. Why I don’t provide calorie counts: they’re simply not accurate. Yes, they may be accurate for the sample recipe, but most readers prepare a recipe they know and love, expecting it to equate to the same nutritional values and it doesn’t. Instead of misleading all of you, I would rather provide general reasons for choosing THIS vs. THAT so you understand the healthier option. Enjoy!


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Martini (135 calories)                                         ∞  Irish Coffee (200 calories)
  • ∞  Vodka & Soda (100 calories)                             ∞  Mulled Wine (300 calories)

Why: Opting for the classic martini or a simple vodka + soda will save you on calories and from a stealthy sugar source. Just make sure to choose the original over the fruitier martini varieties—those are loaded with syrups and sugary flavor enhancers. // As for the vodka and soda, you can’t go wrong with a zero calorie soda; juice or tonic will add unnecessary sugars. // Irish coffee is purely decadent with its heavy cream and whipped cream topping. Unless you’re looking to drink your dessert before even sitting down to your meal, be my guest. Otherwise, opt for coffee spiked with a little whiskey. // While the base of mulled wine is indeed antioxidant-rich red wine, the drink itself is only reminiscent of the taste. It’s cut with sugar, brandy, and choice fruit juices, adding calories you don’t even realize are there.

The Feast

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  4 oz White meat                                                  ∞  4 oz Dark meat

Why: Not only is dark meat just about twice as fatty as white meat, but your white meat selection also has significantly less cholesterol (only 69mg!).

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Mashed potatoes w/                                          ∞  Candied sweet potatoes w/
  • Turkey gravy (1/2 cup)                                            Marshmallow topping (1/2 cup)

Why: Normally sweet potatoes would win the battle over normal spuds any day, nutritionally, but sweet potatoes lose their nutritional edge once they’re covered in marshmallows and candied.

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Homemade Cranberry Sauce                             ∞  Canned Jelly Cranberry Sauce

Why: Anything homemade is generally better because you can control what goes into it! According to Self, canned sweetened cranberry sauce is mostly comprised of carbs in the form of sugar. This will leave you feeling hungry and lead to raised sugar levels that will only add to your dreaded food coma.

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Dinner roll w/ butter                                           ∞  Cornbread w/ butter

Why: Cornbread is sweeter, saltier, and fatter than a regular roll. A regular dinner roll with a smear of butter will leave you with a bit less of a spike in blood sugar, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level.


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Pumpkin pie (1 medium slice)                                 ∞  Pecan pie (1 medium slice)

Why: Yes, pecans are healthy, but the extra load of corn syrup surpasses any health benefits that this pie may have once had. Your best bet will almost always be to choose pumpkin pie because it ranks among one of the lower-calorie slices of heaven.


General tips for Turkey Day:

1. Eat a light breakfast: While you may think it’s a smart idea to just “save up” your calories for the big feast, eating a small meal will keep your cravings in check and prevent you from over eating.

2. If you’re the head chef for the day, or just a contributing attendee, make your dishes less caloric by swapping out butter for vegetable oil or olive oil. Also consider:

  • ∞  Reducing the amount of sugar in recipes
  • ∞  Using low-sodium + low-cal broth
  • ∞  Subbing in yogurt when recipes call for sour cream

3. Portion Control: This is a day when you typically want to try all of the dishes. Not once, but again and again. That reason alone should tell you that you should limit your first round to 1 spoonful of each. If you’re still wanting more of Grandma’s stuffing, this leaves you with room in your tummy for seconds instead of the usual secretive unbuttoning of your pants under the table. Also, think of the potential leftovers! That alone is a great incentive to limit your portions.

4. Count your Drinks: Don’t forget that drinks are liquid calories. Mind your sips to prevent alcohol AND tryptophan hangovers.

5. Don’t over think it! Thanksgiving is not the time to be nervously counting calories! Instead, mingle and enjoy your time with the ones you love. Not only will you be able to enjoy the day more, but you’ll feel less stressed! And what is better than that?


Source 1,2,3, Photo via

Early Planning: What to Contribute to Your Holiday Meal

Every year my mom puts me in charge of making 3 dishes to contribute to our holiday meal: 1 side dish, 1 dessert, and 1 intended for my “main course.” For those that don’t know, I follow a vegan diet. As you can imagine, that would make any mother want to pull her hair out trying to accommodate for the holidays. My mother’s simple solution: have me make the dishes to add to our meal for all to try. Much less stress, much less screaming, and much more mother-daughter bonding time in the kitchen.

This year, I’ve been checking out recipes from one of my favorite food blogs, Oh She Glows. The author, Angela, has the most scrumptious recipes — I’ve been having trouble making my final picks! So far my top 4 picks are (drum roll please)…

  1. Green Bean Casserole
  2. Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad
  3. High-Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  4. This Ain’t Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole

The best (and worst) part about Thanksgiving as a vegan is making sure that everyone else at the table will enjoy what you’ve made (and they are willing to actually try what you’ve made). For my family that means nothing explicitly labeled “vegan,” nothing with soy, nothing with nuts (for allergen purposes), nothing too foreign, nothing too spicy…nothing I would normally make myself. It’s more of a culinary quest for me to accommodate both my family and my own dietary needs.

What are you ladies and gents planning on making this Thanksgiving? Feel free to share all vegan and non-vegan recipes + links in your comments!

Just in case you’re curious or need a few more suggestions, these are a few other dishes that I’ve made in the past:

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Shopping Tip #4: Clean Out Your Closet

With the holiday season looming ahead, I thought this would be something you ladies might want to start thinking about. Since the holidays always mean shopping, gifts, and giving, we seem to always acquire new clothing during these upcoming weeks. May it be from falling into the “one gift for you, one gift for me” trap, trading clothes with girlfriends as they’ve cleaned out their closets, or maybe you’ve splurged on a few extra Fall wardrobe pieces. Bottom line: it’s time to weed out the clothes you don’t want/like/need anymore and make room for potential new items.

I am one of those women who curates their closet. If I haven’t worn something new within a certain time frame, there’s a good chance I simply won’t ever wear it. Or, if I am not as fond about a garment when looking through last season’s clothes I will put it aside for donation to the Salvation Army. If I won’t enjoy it any more, someone else will. In finding out my own weird nuances about my closet, I’ve figured out some very handy tips that I think every woman will benefit from.

1. Keep all receipts paper-clipped to the tags until you actually remove the tags to wear the garment.

This will save time when looking for the receipt, and it will also catch your eye each time you’re in your closet. If you see the bulky paper receipt flowing down the sleeve of an unworn blouse enough times you will be more inclined to either rip the tags off and wear it, or realize that you have no idea why you bought the item in the first place. This exercise is a great way to realize which items cause you buyer’s remorse so you can consciously avoid making similar purchases in the future.

2. If you have not worn the garment after 2+months of owning—return it.

If you haven’t been concocting ways to wear that new blazer or pair of shoes, you’re not as in love with it as you thought you were the first moment you saw it. In-store displays and digital photography on websites can do wonders to entice shoppers to buy items they don’t really need. If you haven’t rushed to put it on yet, let it simmer in your closet for a few weeks. If you’re still not in love with it, back to the store it goes!

3. If you own items you have not reached for in 6+months—donate it.

Obviously seasons change within the course of 6 months, but if you don’t even reach for a particular garment within a Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter cycle then really ask yourself if you’re going to wear it again. If it sits in your closet for any longer than 6-7 months, donate it to someone who will get good wear out of it. If you really think your tastes will change back in that garment’s favor, hold on to it in a separate pile. But if it doesn’t even cross your mind for an outfit, give it away.

4. If you own items that you say “after I lose those 5lbs…”—donate it.

If the item didn’t fit you when you bought it, it won’t fit the more it sits in your closet. If you’ve owned it for a while and are anticipating a weight-loss to help you fit into something again be realistic with yourself: how long have you been telling yourself you were going to lose 5lbs? How long have you owned the garment? If the time frame is similar donate the item to someone who will actually fit into it. Or, use this as a wake-up call to finally take it to the tailor’s.

This will keep your wardrobe lean and up-to-date with your style. Who wants to go shopping now? 😉



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