Sweet Potato + Bacon Hash

The school year is coming to a close, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve always been told that as a first year teacher, your main goal is to survive. “If you finish with your head above the water, you’ve succeeded!” as they say.

Well… I MADE IT! On top of that, I feel confident that I got to show lots of love to my students, aid them in their learning, and challenge them on their way of thinking and doing life. Does this mean I get extra credit?

The downside, however, with “just surviving” the school year is that I let many of my healthy habits slip. Exercise was a nice treat once a week, if I was that lucky. Healthy eating only happened if I meal prepped on Sunday– and if I didn’t? Well, let’s just say the people over at Wawa started saying “See you tomorrow, Victoria!” as I walked out of the store with my usual breakfast order. #whatamidoingwithmylife

Here we are now. I’m getting back on track after falling off the wagon a bit. I might as well celebrate with a new mouth-watering breakfast dish! Which brings us to the star of this post…Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash (serves 3-4)
– 2 small sweet potatoes
– 1/2 yellow onion (about 2 cups diced)
– 1 green bell pepper
– 3 slices Maverick Ranch Sugar-Free Bacon
– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp rubbed sage
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakesSweet Potato & Bacon Hash

1. Peel sweet potatoes and finely chop. Also, finely chop green bell pepper and yellow onion roughly the same size for more even cooking.
2. Heat 3 tbsp EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in potatoes, onion, and green bell pepper.
3. Add in all spices listed and stir to coat veggies.
4. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat a separate skillet to medium heat and cook bacon to desired crispness. Once bacon is to your desired crispness, take off pan and blot extra grease with a paper towel.
5. After the 10 minutes has passed, lower the temperature to medium-low and pat down hash into the skillet. Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes without stirring to allow potatoes to crisp up on one side.
6. Check potatoes for tenderness. If ready, give one last stir and take off heat. Then, chop bacon into similar-sized pieces and sprinkle onto hash.

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash

Today, I enjoyed my hash topped with scrambled eggs, chopped scallions, a dash of hot sauce, and an extra sprinkle of chopped bacon 😉
Hash & Egg BreakfastSweet Potato & Bacon HashNow if this doesn’t inspire you to a healthy breakfast, then I don’t know what will! The tenderness of sweet potatoes mixed with the salty crunch of bacon will make you rejoice! The best part about this dish too is it’s Whole30 compliant! (As long as you use approved bacon) BAM! Now get cooking–you can have this dish anytime of day! 🙂

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash



Suja’s Organic Juices Review

Suja™, meaning Long Beautiful Life, embodies the promise that flows from the cold-pressured beverages it delivers in each and every bottle.

Rainbow of JuicesI first discovered Suja Juices through the Ibotta App (which gives cash back on purchases and I highly recommend) and was instantly intrigued. I love fresh juices and smoothies, especially when I make them at home, but I wanted to give this cold-pressed juice phenomenon a shot.

Mango MagicI noticed while grocery shopping that Publix was having a sale on Suja Essential Juices. On top of that, Whole Foods was having a sale on Suja Elements Juices. And since I am a coupon-crazy person, I had several coupons and combined them with my Ibotta cash back.
I walked away with 5 juices for just over $2.
Man, I impress myself.

– Taste: Man, oh man these are DELICIOUS. It was VERY hard to put the silly bottle down. It tastes significantly different from juices using the conventional pressing method. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted so fresh; it was as if I made it in my own kitchen (possibly even better than that).
– Packaging: This may seem ridiculous, but I’m all about presentation. Maybe it’s due to my artistic nature. I love when products’ packaging catches the eye and makes your mind go, “Oh! I wonder what this is!” Quality packaging is functional and draws in the consumer at first glance. The colorful array of juices on the shelf instantly causes you to gravitate towards them. I believe God made all that colorful produce and Suja displays it beautifully.Beets Me
– Variety: So. Many. Decisions. This is one of those cases when you stare at the shelf, pick one up, read it, put it back, pick up another, and then another, compare the two, etc. Or maybe that’s just me? Whatever you’re in the mood for, including tea or coconut water, it’s here.
– Charity Work: It is awesome when a company gives back to its community. Suja has created a specific line of juices for that exact cause: Suja Elements. Each individual juice has a designated organization that Suja will donate $0.20 to for every one of those bottles purchased. For example, each bottle of Blutrients bought will result in a $0.20 donation to Whole Foods Kids Foundation, an organization that is devoted to children’s wellness and nutrition.

Colorful SplendorDislikes:
Price: Oi vey! The price: $3.99 – $11.99 depending on the bottle size & variety. I know fresh, cold-pressed juices are stupid expensive. There is a lot of organic produce squeezed into those bottles. It is good to know that Suja was not the most expensive cold-pressed juice on the shelf. In relation to other juices, I’d say Suja is about average in price. As for Victoria, I am broke as a joke, so this isn’t something I would purchase on the reg. This situation was perfect because I sales on top of coupons on top of cash back dealsSCORE! Unless that occurs again, or I hit the lottery, Suja Organic Juices will be a special treat for this gal.Sweet Beets

Now, I understand there is some controversy over whether juices are okay if you’re Paleo. For me, when making juices at home, I do my best to use not only the juice, but the fibrous pulp that is typically left behind. This can take place in the form of Paleo muffins, pancakes, or breads. Also, I constantly drink water, so fresh fruit juice is a nice way to get a new flavor, but not in the form of sodas or energy drinks. The choice is yours, from my stance I would usually go for a whole apple, but the fresh juice from one is a delicious treat! 🙂

Overall, I became an even bigger juice fan in just a few sips. Incredibly refreshing and nourishing, these juices are a fresh, organic take on liquid fruits and veggies!

On another note, does anyone have any input on whether or not barley grass is considered Paleo? I’ve read both sides and haven’t come to a final conclusion. Let me know! Have a wonderful Wednesday! 😉


Are You Up for the Challenge?!

noun: a call to take part in a contest or competition
verb: to invite someone to engage in a contest

Challenging yourself can be fun, taxing, and incredibly rewarding. It seems like there are a good amount of nutritional and physical challenges floating around, one of which I am participating in– shout out to Whole30— so I thought if any of you were interested in trying something new and improving your health at the same time, then why not a brief overview of some of the ones I’ve come across? challengeLet’s roll…

1) Whole30
“Change your life in 30 days” as they claim. Personally, I’m over here at Day 19 and I already feel incredibly different. The Whole30 is a thirty-day diet challenge. It looks very similar to a Paleo diet, though stricter. Some of the “rules” include…

– Only eat meats, seafood, tons of veggies, some fruit, nuts & seeds, along with quality fat sources.
– Avoid all gluten, grain, dairy, soy, legumes, and sugar; also avoid anything processed and artificial.
– No coffee or tea after 12pm.
– Do not try to recreate junk foods, baked goods or treats with “approved” ingredients (this will only continue to reinforce your habits)
– No cheating.

EatWhole30This challenge I halfway-completed once and saw incredible changes and benefits to my life, which is why I really am sticking to it this time for the entire thirty days. I also have spoken with others and their Whole30 journey and have heard similar experiences. Not only that, but after feeling so fantastic and energized, it has completely changed their diets permanently and they have continued with the Paleo-lifestyle. I’m predicting this outcome for myself as well. The amazing part is that at Day 19, I have an easier time passing up sweet treats and artificial goods because I no longer crave them. Now that is a win!

2) 21 Day Sugar Detox
“Bust sugar and carb cravings naturally” is the cry of creator Diane Sanfilippo. Not only is the book available for purchase, but also if you check out her website, there are entire packages you can buy that include the audio series, workout & yoga guides, cookbooks, and more! From my understanding, there are three levels during the detox:
– Level 1: a diet without refined foods, but not excluding all grain, dairy, or legume products.
– Level 2: adds the removal of grain and legume products.
– Level 3: super strict Paleo; removes all sugars, grains, legume and dairy products, but with additional modifications.21-Day-Sugar-Detox-Fruit-Allowed
Anyone out there give this 21-day challenge a shot yet?

3) 40 Days of Green
This one is pretty simple– drink a green smoothie (or juice) every day for 40 days. I first heard about it through Instagram when I noticed the #40daysofgreen hashtag spreading. I am a BIG fan of green smoothies. I love that you can jam-pack kale and spinach into a blender, add a piece of fruit, and you can’t even taste all those leafy greens, but you’re getting all the amazing nutrients! Kale CutiePlus, this particular site allows you to sign up for weekly emails that include recipes, videos, and community encouragement. Even if you don’t sign up for all the extras, if you’re having trouble getting vegetables in your breakfast routine (or even snack time) this is a phenomenal way to do so!

So what do you think? Have you tried any of these challenges? Or are there any other you have given a chance?Mental self-five

Are You a Baller on a Budget?

If so, my only words for you are “ditto“.

Well, not my only words for you… but I do know how you feel. I also know that healthy eating can be quite the pretty penny, so you may want some tips on how to stick to your clean eats without cleaning out your wallet. I’m currently following the Whole30 program (for the second time, let’s do it) and I have been trying to make it without hashing out all my earnings. Here are some of my first-hand experiences with saving money and eating well!veggies like whoa

1. Prioritize: Local! Organic! Grass-Fed! All these crazy (but important) labels on your food can bump up the price. When thinking about your grocery budget, prioritizing where to spend your money can help. For example, you may have heard of the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen, it is recommended that you go organic with those dirty dozen. From personal experience, I make my main focus my quality of meat: Grass-fed beef, Wild-caught fish & Organic Chicken, then get my fruits and veggies from a local produce market.Meat Market

2. Shop Around: You may feel silly at first, but it is so worth the effort. I have a “note” on my phone categorized by grocery store. I list which items I buy most often such as Larabars, Coconut Oil/Flour, Almond Milk, etc under each grocery store. I also add the price it costs at that store. After some detective work, I have managed to find the cheapest prices for those items. This has been tremendously helpful when picking a grocery store. I just check what’s on my grocery list and head to the store with the cheapest prices!

             Really Noted    Noted

3. Couponing/Store Loyalty/Apps: I know this is one of those “well duh” things, but you’d be surprised how many savings you can compile by taking some time to come to the store prepared. JUST DO IT. A friend I used to work with would say, “Anyone can buy something at full price, only the skilled can walk in and get it 80% off“. I agree! Check coupons! Store ads! Apps!It's SUPERR

For example: At Target, I check the ad before I shop, but also the Cartwheel app, which allows you to CHOOSE up to 11 savings on the items of your choice. On top of that, Target offers a 10-cent discount for every reusable bag you bring in. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Target also offers Mobile Coupons you can add to your Passbook. Do you hear the little cha-ching going off in your head?! That’s a whole lot of savings if you just look around for it! Same thing goes for other stores too.

Hello, my little money-saving friends.
Hello, my little money-saving friends.

4. Scratch It: Making things from scratch when you can will give you more bang for your buck, as the saying goes. Do you really need your $4.15 latte from Starbucks? Even though it is delicious, trust me, I’m aware… The answer is more than likely no. Make it at home. Do you really need to spend $8 on a burrito bowl from Chipotle? Again, no. I understand when you’re super busy and have no time, but as much as you can help planning ahead and making things at home, do it. It will pay off.

And there you have it! There’s more where that came from too! Maybe I’ll do a “Part 2” in the near future. For now, enjoy these tips and don’t just read them: DO THEM! It will help out bunches and you’ll be less sad when looking at your bank account. Plus, you’ll feel awesome due to eating like a champ.

Whole30 Update: I haven’t shared much on this yet, but I am participating in the Whole30 program. I have attempted this before, but didn’t finish. Now, I am back on the horse and going to COMPLETE it! I felt incredible after the first 15 days, I can only imagine what 30 will feel like. I’ll be posting more about it soon!

Thanks for following The Thrive Life!

Have you tried Whole30? What was your experience like?

Coconut Kick Tilapia

For the moment when you really would love some coconut shrimp, but all you have is tilapia in your freezer.

Coconut Tilapia
Coconut Kick Tilapia
(serves 2)
2 Tilapia Filets
1 Egg
2 tsp Hot Sauce (or more if you like it hot!)
2 tbsp Coconut Flour
3 tbsp Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Coconut oil (for greasing)
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450-degrees.
2. Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.
3. Place egg, hot sauce, and 1 tbsp water in a bowl; mix together until egg is scrambled.
4. Place coconut flour and coconut flakes in a second bowl; mix together until combined; season with a few dashes of salt & pepper.
5. Dredge tilapia in egg bowl, then coconut flake bowl; place on baking sheet. Repeat with second filet.
6. Sprinkle any remaining coconut on tilapia.
7. Bake in oven for 6-8 minutes.

This is COCONUTS!And I paired this delicious spin on the classic coconut shrimp with some roasted zucchini!
I hope you enjoy it too! 🙂