Recipes and More

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

I was enjoying my last piece of pumpkin banana bread the other day, and let me tell you – I was savoring that slice!  I just kept thinking, “wow, I need to bake more of this!”  Of course, going a day without pumpkin spice in October…

Berry Pomegranate Chia Parfait

Berry Pomegranate Chia Parfait

Mornings are so much better when you have a cute and delicious parfait to enjoy – starting your day fresh with a vibrant and healthy jar of goodness just feels so good. With plenty of textures to enjoy, this berry pomegranate chia parfait is so…

Apple Pie With Crumble Topping

Apple Pie With Crumble Topping

Apple pie a la mode is such a classic dessert, and it has always been one of my favorites.  Although it takes quite a bit more time to make from scratch, it is 100% worth the work!  This recipe features a crust that is nothing…

Burrito Bowl with Peach Salsa

Burrito Bowl with Peach Salsa

Whenever I fail to plan dinner, or I am a bit short on time, I find myself cooking up a good old grain bowl.  To be honest, I probably have a mixture of grains, veggies, and beans all mixed together with some sort of yummy…

Get some colorful artwork!

Get some colorful artwork!

I’ve been working on a little project lately… creating digital artwork!  Making designs is such a calming pastime for me, and I have really enjoyed pulling out my artsy skills recently.  So far, I’ve made several colorful mandala designs and flowers – perfect for vinyl…

The BEST Zucchini Bread

The BEST Zucchini Bread

Who doesn’t love a slice of sweet, flavorful, and moist zucchini bread?  I have had several versions of (very good) zucchini bread, but this one surely tops them all.  I just can’t resist grinning and letting out a huge mmm hmm when I take the first…

Vegetable Dumplings

Vegetable Dumplings

I am not exaggerating when I say I eat at least 10 of these in one sitting!  They are just the tiniest bit addicting.  Thank goodness the recipe makes 48 – enough for several days worth of snacking!  With a fusion of Asian flavors mixed…

Plant-Based Peach and Berry Toast

Plant-Based Peach and Berry Toast

This toast is totally loaded and absolutely delicious.  The recipe starts with a simple piece of bread, but you’ll end up with a peachy, nutty, cinnamon-y, and naturally sweet breakfast feast.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Chia seeds, granola, and berries make…

Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burgers

These black bean burgers are healthy, delicious, and a tad bit spicy.  They are great with the simple sauce included in the recipe, but are delicious (and vegan) on their own as well.   I love making a big batch and freezing them for later use. …

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Red bell peppers create a vibrant base, the quinoa adds a hearty fluffiness to the dish, and the chickpeas provide a great source of plant-based protein.  Meanwhile, scallions, dried apricots, and a Middle Eastern inspired spice blend add an incredible depth of flavor to this…

Simple Savory Salad

Simple Savory Salad

Oftentimes salad gets associated with boring and healthy.  However, this recipe is here to change that!  Salads are a great way to create a balanced meal. One, they are so easy to prepare and bring with you.  Two, you can toss in so many different…

Oatmeal 3 Ways

Oatmeal 3 Ways

Yes, I’m the type of person who eats oatmeal most mornings, and I love it for several reasons.  Its cozy, it’s satisfying, and it’s delicious.  However, eating the same old bowl of oats everyday can get pretty boring and redundant, but creating variety through toppings…

Sweet Chi Curry

Sweet Chi Curry

On top of the regulating health benefits of SWEET CHI by aha Pure Foods, this curry is a balanced meal in itself!  It has plenty of whole grains, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and plant-based protein to make for a satisfying and nutritious meal. The chickpeas and…

Greek Yogurt Brownies

Greek Yogurt Brownies

Yes, I’m the type of person who always likes to finish off a meal with a bit of dessert.  Whether it’s a square of dark chocolate or a spoonful of ice cream, I always like to leave my taste buds with something sweet.  More often…

Dorm Room Decor

Dorm Room Decor

It’s been just over one year since I moved into my first dorm room at University of Florida.  I spent hours gathering inspiration, making artwork to display, and planning the perfect haven for my freshman year.  I’m pretty proud of how I transformed the tiny,…

Vegetable Egg Bites

Vegetable Egg Bites

There were two good things that came out of a tiring 46 hour travel “day” from Australia:  I adjusted very quickly to the Eastern time zone, and I got inspiration for these egg bites.  After three flights and 36 hours of being in planes and…

Skydiving: A High-Stakes History

Skydiving: A High-Stakes History

On October 22, 1797 André Jaques Garnerin parachuted 3,000ft out of a hot air balloon for the first time. On June 2, 2019, I jumped out of a plane for the first time. Skydiving’s history dates much further back than the first successful parachuting venture.…

The Art of Natural Healing

The Art of Natural Healing

Fiji is home to a wonderfully dirty, cleansing escape.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Approximately a 30-minute drive from the city of Nadi, there exists two unique mud pools and hot springs.  The surprisingly soothing dugouts are located at the foot of a beautiful mountain formation,…

Melbourne, Australia – Photos and Videos

Melbourne, Australia – Photos and Videos

I had the pleasure of experiencing two very different big cities while in Australia – Sydney and Melbourne.  We spent the majority of the trip in Sydney, but a few friends and I took a weekend trip south to Melbourne.  We had a great time…

Photo Gallery – Sydney, Australia

Photo Gallery – Sydney, Australia

Studying abroad in Sydney was absolutely amazing!  I loved the city and the surrounding areas… Sydney really has everything, from city sights to beaches and nature escapes.  I think I took over 2000 photos there but was able to dwindle it down to about 120…

Photo Gallery – Fiji

Photo Gallery – Fiji

While studying abroad in Australia, I had the chance to go on a weekend getaway to Fiji!  What a tropical paradise!  It was a lovely, relaxing time with a bit of adventure.  Here are some photos at the resort, the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple, a Nadi…

Beach the Box Way

Beach the Box Way

For tourists and Melbourne residents, the Brighton Bathing Boxes are in a prime location, as the colorful huts on Dendy Street Beach sit less than a 30-minute drive from the central business district.  Perhaps take a quick trip to escape the hustle and bustle of…

Photo Gallery – Cairns, Australia

Photo Gallery – Cairns, Australia

Cairns, pronounced “cans”, was the last city I visited on my study abroad trip to Australia.  It’s a small town on the northern coast and a major gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and rain forests.  Thus, many people travel to Cairns to experience adventures…

Top-Notch Ambiance

Top-Notch Ambiance

Rustic, aesthetically pleasing, and quite boho, are ways visitors describe The Grounds of Alexandria. With mosaic lanterns gently swaying in the breeze, arches covered in vibrant ferns, a canopy of bulb lights strung between roofs, and overflowing baskets filled with fruit, the sights are spectacular.…

Super Food Berry Parfait

Super Food Berry Parfait

My three favorite grab-and-go breakfasts – chia seed pudding, smoothies, and yogurt parfaits – all rolled into one!  Here’s a healthy, balanced meal or snack that could easily be mistaken for dessert any day.  With the texture of pudding and a creamy, fruity flavor, this parfait…

Best Brunches in New South Wales

Best Brunches in New South Wales

Sydney   Offering coffee and a variety of food options, Basket Brothers seems like any other Sydney café at first glance.  However, the freshness and quality of the food, as well as the friendly service, set it apart from the rest.  The coffeehouse, bar, and…

Chocolate Cherry Chia Parfait

Chocolate Cherry Chia Parfait

Cherry season is coming up, and that means it’s time for some cherry creations!  I was inspired by my love of chocolate covered cherries and my regular parfait regimen to create something like this: a parfait complete with loads of cocoa, chia seeds, yogurt, and…

Fudgy Brownies

Fudgy Brownies

Brownies… they’re here!  I’ve had a few people request this recipe, so I finally took photos of them before they got gobbled up, and now I’m ready to share them! Before I get into the rich, indulgent nature of these gluten free treats, I wanted…

Strawberry Banana Bread

Strawberry Banana Bread

Instead of simply raving about the recipe, I thought I would bring in some inspiration.  So, I will be introducing a quote and adding my personal insight before discussing how it relates to your life.  Ultimately, it all ties back to this delightful strawberry banana bread and…

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Parfait

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Parfait

Another day, another parfait!  Seriously though, these things are awesome.  Besides being totally balanced with whole grains, protein, fruit, and flavor, parfaits are one of the easiest things to put together.  It’s like instant dessert for breakfast (you can even leave it in the fridge…

Berry Chickpea Salad

Berry Chickpea Salad

Spring always calls for fresh greens, and this dish complements the season perfectly!  With vibrant berries and a bit of goat cheese, there is a great balance of sweet and tangy.  However, the real star is these sweet curry roasted chickpeas!  With an Indian inspired…

Sweet Curry Roasted Chickpeas

Sweet Curry Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are one of my favorite snacks because they are just so healthy and delicious!  With an abundance of spices to choose from, you can flavor them however you would like.  This particular version is inspired by Indian food, but has a cinnamon kick. …

French Toast Four Ways

French Toast Four Ways

I absolutely love French toast, and I am always searching for new ways to make it!  Below you will find four of my favorite preparations.  They each came from creative kitchen moments, but have all made their way into my weekend breakfast routine.  Each is…

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Bananas and chocolate – a classic yet decadent combination, especially for breakfast, and especially in banana bread.  However, making a loaf of bread can be a time consuming task because it takes nearly 60 minutes to bake.  But what if you are short on time, or you…

Chia Seed Pudding Parfait

Chia Seed Pudding Parfait

Switch up your breakfast or snack with this super easy chia seed pudding parfait! Perfect for a pre/post-workout snack, chia seeds offer many benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. In addition, the chia seed pudding parfait is vegan, dairy free, paleo, and gluten…

Green Smoothie Bowl

Green Smoothie Bowl

Ahhh – the green smoothie.  The first time I saw my health focused coach drinking one several years back, I was appalled.  Why would someone want to drink something green?  I thought green was for vegetables, not a smoothie. When I finally tried one, much…

Cinnamon Pear French Toast

Cinnamon Pear French Toast

It was a chilly December day in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Snowflakes were falling, and my stomach was growling.  It was the morning after a gymnastics competition, and my family was speed walking through the cold to a local breakfast restaurant. Once we settled inside, pulled…

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

“A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant” The first time I made these, I messed up.  Yup, it happens to everyone.  I wasn’t careful enough when writing out the recipe, and I failed to add enough wet…

Berry Smoothie Bowl

Berry Smoothie Bowl

I’m not sure I have met a smoothie bowl I don’t like, but this one is definitely my favorite.  I eat this after almost every hard workout for recovery, and I never seem to get tired of it.  There is something about berries and banana that…

French Toast Scramble (with Apples, Peanut Butter, and Banana)

French Toast Scramble (with Apples, Peanut Butter, and Banana)

A little story about this French toast… I woke up Monday morning feeling revitalized after a rough weekend.  I had come down with a bug on Saturday, and it forced me to miss my team’s competition.  I watched what turned out to be the last…

Sweet Potato Apple Salad

Sweet Potato Apple Salad

I make this salad every time I have any leftover sweet potatoes, without fail!  I’ve even roasted some sweet potatoes just to make this salad.  It has become one of my favorites, due to its balanced nature and sweet flavor.  Overall, this vegan meal is delightful, colorful, and…

Avocado Toast, Eggs, and Facing Failure

Avocado Toast, Eggs, and Facing Failure

Writing something like this is never easy.  Unfortunately, my team had a rough end to our season, as it was cut short before we could fight for our ultimate goal: winning the NCAA National Championships.  We had been pushing and pushing, committing everything we had…

Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites

Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites

Are healthy peanut butter cups a thing?  Probably not, but these energy balls come really close.  I mean, memories of Reese’s instantly popped in my mind when I tried the first bite. With only 5 simple ingredients, they come together in a flash.  It’s almost…

Vegetable Lettuce Wraps

Vegetable Lettuce Wraps

Iceberg lettuce was the only kind of lettuce I would eat when I was younger.  I loved the crunch of the white part, even though it had virtually no flavor.  Things have completely changed now, as I usually opt for more leafy greens, thanks to…

Chocolate Coconut Energy Bites

Chocolate Coconut Energy Bites

One of my favorite things about energy bites is how many flavors you can create… and these coconut chocolate ones certainly do not disappoint.  Thanks to the dates and cocoa powder, they are a healthy snack that tastes like dessert! With only a few ingredients,…

Chickpea and Vegetable Pasta

Chickpea and Vegetable Pasta

Although I love making more extravagant dishes, I usually have minimal time to spend cooking dinner (or I’m hungry right away).  Reality is, I often opt for quick and easy dinners, and this is one of my go-to meals.  In 15 minutes flat, you can…

Hawaiian Roll French Toast

Hawaiian Roll French Toast

Say “aloha” to a new breakfast favorite!  This quick and easy recipe is delightful start to any morning.  Hawaiian rolls make for a soft and sweet twist on traditional French toast.  Plus, they are mini and cute, perfect for sharing a large batch.  Tip: serve…

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies

Before you make these ooey-gooey, super-chocolatey, “I-think-I-might-eat-seven, delicious cookies… please take three minutes to complete the survey below!  Your responses are greatly appreciated, and will help make Zest & Finesse more of what you want!   Create your own user feedback survey     These…

Feedback

Feedback

In looking to improve Zest & Finesse, I want to hear from you guys.  Please take this short survey to help make this blog more of what you want!  It only takes about three minutes, and I really appreciate your responses 🙂     Create…

Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

“Be the energy that you want to attract” I came across this quote the other day.  Although it may seem commonplace, it is oh-so true.  Plus, it relates to these cranberry almond energy bites! Energy is contagious, both positive and negative.  How many times have…