Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

I’ve loved pasta salad for as long as I can remember. There are so many different ways to make it but today I thought I’d share a super easy and quick recipe. It’s inspired by my boyfriend’s mom who legitimately makes the best pasta salad I’ve ever eaten. While my take on doesn’t quite reach her level, it is still pretty tasty. I like making this when I need something simple to bring to a work or family get together.

Here is what you’ll need:

1 large green bell pepper

1/2 yellow onion

1 15 oz. can of black beans

8 oz. package of pasta

Italian dressing*

Non-dairy cheese (optional)

*You can use any dressing or vinaigrette of your choice but I love using the Wishbone Italian dressing. It is cheap, has pretty good ingredients, and gives the dish so much flavor.

Here is how to make it:

  1. Cook 8 oz of pasta according to package instructions. I just used Kroger’s 100% whole grain rotini pasta and it was ready in about 10 minutes. After draining the pasta, rinse with cold water and drain again. Pour pasta in a large serving bowl.
  2. Drain and rinse 15 oz black beans. Add to bowl and stir.
  3. Dice 1/2 a yellow onion and 1 large green bell pepper. Add to bowl and stir. (You can also add diced cherry tomatoes here- I just didn’t have any on hand!).
  4. Add Italian dressing and stir. There is no “right” amount to add. I recommend adding a small amount little by little until it meets your preference.
  5. While this step is totally optional, you can add a non-dairy cheese of your choice here for something a little extra. I used Daiya Dairy Free Shredded Mozzarella, although I’m sure it would be good with Pepper Jack as well. I did not measure specifically, instead just sprinkling a little on top.
  6. Cover and chill in fridge until ready to serve. You make want to add more Italian dressing at that time, as the pasta tends to soak it up after setting for a while.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂

What is your favorite pasta salad recipe?

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3 Simple Moving Tips

I recently moved into a new condo and found it to be an exciting but long and tedious process. There are definitely steps that can be taken to make the whole thing go as smoothly as possible. Here are my 3 simple tips for a headache-free move.

  • Label your boxes

This goes without saying, but it is extremely helpful to label your boxes. This is especially important if you cannot quickly see what is inside (ex. cardboard boxes instead of sealed clear plastic tubs). The more detailed you are in your description, the more helpful it will be come moving day. I have heard of people buying small, colorful, circular stickers frequently used in yard sales to color-code boxes according to room. I love that idea, but in the interest of saving time and money I simply cut old construction paper that I already had lying around. I taped a written description of what was in each box, how fragile it was, and what room it belonged in.

  • Pack a suitcase

This tip is one that will save you a lot of time with just a little prep work. I did not actually utilize this step when I was moving, but looking back I wished that I had. The idea is to pack a suitcase or overnight bag with what you will need for one or two nights. This will help the first couple of days in your new house feel a little less frazzled. Items that could be packed in the suitcase or bag could include toiletry and skincare items, PJs, and toilet paper. Instead of spending 20 minutes looking all over your new house for the box you stuck your toothbrush in, you will be thanking your former self knowing you have it neatly packed away will all your other essentials in one place.

  • Make a “moving day” box

This was the tip that made the biggest difference for me, not only on the moving day itself but the whole first week that I was living in my new place. The idea is to pack a box full of helpful tools for the process of moving in and getting settled. These were items that I kept coming back to several times a day. It could include things like basic cleaning supplies, paper towels, a pair of scissors, a roll of tape, a box of tissues, and tools such as a screwdriver, hammer, and tape measure. You can keep it with you on the car ride over to ensure that it doesn’t get lost on the moving truck or shuffled around among other boxes when bringing items inside.

While I am far from an expert mover and this is no where near an exhaustive list, I wanted to share these tips for anyone who may be feeling a little overwhelmed and need a starting place. 🙂

What moving tips would you recommend?

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Chocolate Chip Pancake Recipe

These chocolate chip pancakes are delicious. Like most of the recipes I post, these are plant-based. There are only 7 ingredients needed and they can be whipped up in about 20 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat but I’m sure oat or any other flour would be just fine)
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Coconut milk (I used coconut, but any non-dairy milk would probably do the job)
  • Coconut oil (melted)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark chocolate chips

Here is how to make them:

  1. Mix dry ingredients together (1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, salt). I didn’t measure the salt- I just added a bit.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the mixture (1 cup coconut milk, 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract).
  4. Stir in about ½ cup dark chocolate chips. The amount can totally be adjusted to your level of chocolate obsession. 🙂
  5. Heat a pan to medium heat. I used about a teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan to cook with.
  6. Scoop 3-4 tablespoons of batter per pancake into pan. This will end up making about 6 pancakes.
  7. Cook each pancake for about 4 minutes before flipping and cooking another 2 minutes on the other side.
  8. Enjoy!
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How to Make Peanut Butter Oat Balls

I love anything that involves peanut butter. These peanut butter oat balls are no exception. With just five ingredients, they are the perfect on-the-go or pre-workout snack. It’s a added bonus that this recipe is super quick and simple. It doesn’t involve any baking and can be done in about 30 minutes.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Peanut butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Oats
  • Ground flax seed
  • Dark chocolate chips

Here is how to make them:

  1. Start by heating 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/2 cup maple syrup on the stove until melted. Stir as needed.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (1 cup oats and 1/2 ground flax seed) in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour the peanut butter/maple syrup mixture into the bowl and stir.
  4. Add dark chocolate chips. I didn’t measure during this step. You can add as many or as little as you like.
  5. Put mixture in fridge for about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove mixture from fridge and form “balls”. I made about 18 balls with this recipe.
  7. Enjoy!

These turned out really well! They taste a bit like no-bake cookies but a little more granola-bar-ish and a little less dessert-ish. I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try! 🙂

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How to Care for your Clothing

Let’s throw it back to college when I used to throw everything, and I really do mean everything, in one load in the washer. My jeans, t-shirts, bathroom towels (!!!) and lacy undies all wrapped up together in one load. I know half of you are cringing right now, but your girl just didn’t care at the time.

Now, it’s a totally different story. I’d rather take really good care of the clothing I own and do my best to make an article last as long as it possibly can.

Here are the ways that I do that:

  • Separate items of different kinds- It’s simple but necessary. This step is more a message to my younger self than anything. Your towels don’t belong with your clothes. Your lacy undies definitely don’t belong with your jeans.
  • Read the label- Take a second to read the label on the item of clothing. Can it go in the dryer? Can it even go in the washer? Is it an item that must be hand washed? Maybe it’s even supposed to go to the dry cleaners? Treating the item the way it is meant to be treated will be the difference between worn and tattered clothing and items that last for years to come.
  • Hand wash delicate items- If your washing machine has a delicate cycle, take advantage of it. If not, putting in the extra effort to hand wash an item will be well worth it. These bags are great if you do need to put delicate items in the washer.
  • Use a drying rack- If you don’t already own one, do yourself a favor and buy one of these babies today. I got my plain white one at Target. It was such a game changer for me personally. I stopped drying my workout leggings and most of my underwear. Anything that could get damaged in the dryer now goes straight to the drying rack instead.
  • Use a steamer- I love my steamer. I have a Steamfast steamer similar to this one that I picked up at Walmart at 6am on the morning of my college graduation. My gown was extremely wrinkly and this guy saved the day! Since then, I’ve used it for bridesmaids dresses, work shirts, and anything else that needs a little freshening up and straightening out. If you don’t already have one, I would definitely recommend picking one up.
  • Use a “defuzzer”- While not necessary, it does help keep things nice. I have the Conair Fabric Defuzzer from Amazon. It is really simple to use. I have just begun including this step in my routine but I imagine that I will bring it out about once a month to keep things looking nice. So far I’ve just used it on my sweaters but I think I’ll tackle my leggings and socks next. 🙂
  • Buy what you love: This one isn’t about necessarily caring for the clothes you already own but a tip for when you’re buying new clothes. Again, this is another message to myself. Don’t buy crappy quality clothes that you barely like. Go for well-made quality clothing that was meant to last. Buy clothing that you want to take good care of, and following through will be much easier.

What are your tips when it comes to taking care of your clothing?

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