Ohhh stress...  We all know the frustrating feelings of stress and anxiety in our daily life.  Yet somehow we find a way to handle a busy class schedule, a demanding boss, financial strains, or long hard work hours.  Family problems, unrealistic expectations, health concerns, personality conflicts.  Although tough, we somehow get used to these things, they become 'routine.'  We struggle through and make it work.  But THEN, just when we think we've finally got it handled, something unexpected comes our way and life gets even MORE stressful!   Meanwhile, the normal routine of healthy, balanced living that we've worked so hard to establish and maintain... It gets shaken... Totally unbalanced all over again.

These past few weeks have been stressful... to say the least. Between an already busy class schedule and some various unexpected 'life' events, I found myself in a weary, flustered and frazzled state.

The thing about stressful situations is that they're really just part of life!  When things don't go our way, we can't stop everything and wallow in self-pity, even though, lets be real- sometimes that's exactly what we WANT to do!  And we can't give up and 'throw in the towel!'  While we may not always be able to control the situation at hand, we CAN control our response to it.  Here are my tops 5 tips to deal with seriously stressful situations!

  1. Pray.  Philippians 4:6 reminds me, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Sometimes there's nothing that we can really do to change or 'fix' a stressful situation, but that doesn't mean God leaves us alone in our stressed state.  NOT at all!  We are reminded to humbly come before Him with ALL our requests... knowing that HIS plan is better than ours!  Often we feel that we cannot handle our current circumstances.  "Let go and let God!"  HE can handle anything... Actually, Everything!
  2. Walk.  This is my BIGGEST way to handle stress.  I walk ALL the time!  I'm no 'gym rat,' but I sure do love walking out in nature and enjoying the fresh air.  For me, walking is therapeutic.  It's a way for me to calm my racing mind and simply clear my head.  On my campus we have a beautiful pond that I love to walk around.  Even as the temperature dips steadily southward, I'm always out there walking!  I bundle up in a cozy jacket, fuzzy hat and a warm scarf and grab my mason jar full of hot peppermint tea with a splash of creamy almond milk!  The PERFECT way to de-stress!!
  3. "Keep Calm and Call Mom"...I saw this on a mug the other day and I realized it pretty much refers to me!  I call my mum everyday to chat, but especially when I'm feeling particularly stressed.  She's always quick to calm me down.  The same goes for friends.  I'll call some of my best friends just to chat.  It's nice to know that they're always there to listen when times get tough!  Grab your phone, go for a leisurely walk, and talk to somebody who loves you.  This is a sure way to calm down and relax!
  4. Use that extra energy.  I don't know about you, but when I get stressed out, I get this intense feeling that I MUST do something.  It's the same feeling that sometimes prevents me from falling asleep at night.  I just feel like I've gotta keep moving.  It's a kind of 'nervous energy.'  Rather than let this get to me, I've learned to use this energy in a productive way!  Why not crank out a few assignments, some lists, something you've been 'putting off'?  Get BUSY to get your mind off the stressful situation?
  5.  Think BIG picture.  Okay, maybe this is just the little "Drama Queen" within me, but sometimes when things don't go as planned (or hoped) I begin to feel like the world is ending!!  (Okay, I exaggerate... but you know what I mean!)  It's easy to lose sight of the big picture in particularly difficult times and feel like everything is ruined.  It's these times that we need to step back and realize that this really isn't the end of the world... and when I can't seem to see that for myself, I need a reminder.  I simply refer to Tip #3, "Keep Calm and Call Mom!"

Now, your turn!  Considering you're human and you've probably dealt with some particularly stressful times in your own life, what is YOUR favorite way to cope with stress??  How do you handle the unexpected 'stressors' of life?

 
 
Hot, creamy, satisfying, nutritious and oh-so delicious!  I just LOVE warm oatmeal on a brisk chilly morning!  Oatmeal is definitely one of my favorite breakfasts to wake up to!  It's perfect if you love yourself a 'carb-y' sweet start to the day, but you hate feeling hungry at 10am from your wimpy bowl of cereal.  (Don't worry cereal, you will always hold a special place in my heart... but sometimes a girl needs a FILLING and tasty breakfast to get her day started and keep her going!)  So when in doubt, I turn to oatmeal!

Did you know that oats only have 130 calories per cup?  Oatmeal is naturally low in calories, high in fiber and it even contains protein!  Plain oats help to balance your blood sugar because their unique whole grain complex slows the rate at which your body absorbs their energy.  It's no wonder a bowl of perfectly healthy stovetop oats keep you satisfied all morning!

Another great quality of oatmeal is just how versatile it is!  How do I love it?  Mixed with a bit of pumpkin puree and chopped nuts for a seasonal treat... or with chopped banana, cinnamon and peanut butter, or even with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips on top for a special treat!  Oatmeal is one of my favorite Fall comfort foods!  I always add a bit of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk to give it a creamy consistency!  Delicious!

Looking for some easy tasty 'low calorie' toppings?  Try a tablespoon of dried cherries, apricots, figs, peanut butter or strawberry jam.  Each tablespoon of chopped cashews, walnuts or almonds contain about 100 calories.  A tablespoon of toasted coconut or chocolate syrup also have less than 100 calories each and they're a fun little way to make your oatmeal almost a dessert!

I love to mix plain instant oats with some boiled hot water in my thermos first thing in the morning.  I add an (excessive) amount of cinnamon and take it 'to go' just in time for my AM class!  Nothing better than a warm, healthy breakfast to wake me up and keep me going!

What about you?  Do you like oatmeal for breakfast?  Don't you love it even more this time of year?
 
 
Sometimes finding the motivation to 'eat right' can be challenging... especially when your body is used to enjoying high fat and sugary foods on a regular basis.  Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn't happen over night... it's a slow process that is definitely worth the effort.

Here's the thing about me, I love healthy food.  I love fresh green veggies, sweet baby carrots, steamed sweet potatoes, succulent grilled salmon, crisp Fuji apples, rich dark chocolate... the list goes on and on.   But 'craving' genuinely healthy foods didn't happen 'overnight'.  My taste buds have changed over time to become more accustomed to (and actually prefer) healthier foods that nourish my body.

That being said, I don't eat ALL healthy foods simply because they're healthy.  You'll rarely find me mixing nasty-flavored protein powder, chomping celery, or drinking carrot juice (which I thought I'd love... but actually hate).  The point is, I've tried tried lots of healthy foods.  Some I don't care for and I've found some that I really DO love.

So maybe you can't foresee yourself sipping a kale smoothie any time soon, but you wouldn't be opposed to munching on some freshly made kale chips.  Or maybe you hate the texture of fresh broccoli, but wouldn't mind it steamed with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  Maybe you can't stand the smell of fish, but you you'd really enjoy a piece of grilled chicken breast.  Super dark chocolate may be 'too bitter' for you.  That's okay, try a small piece of 60% and work your way up.  Maybe you NEED your AM coffee, but how about trying it with just one packet of sugar instead of three, and why not a splash of vanilla almond milk instead of full-fat cream?

The point is, when you begin to take "baby steps" toward a healthier lifestyle, it doesn't feel so extreme.  It can actually be fun!  It's a challenge... and you feel better because each step you take is one step closer to a healthier you!

So for today's motivation, forget the strict crash diets that promise you'll drop 5 pounds by the weekend, instead work towards a healthier life that's reasonable, maintainable, and enjoyable!   After all, healthy life is all about "progress, NOT perfection!"

How about you?  What are the little steps you're taking to live a healthier lifestyle?  What keeps you motivated?

 
 
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)

Friends shape us, they change us, they help us to become who we really are.  Friends boost your happiness and reduce your stress.  They make you feel like you belong and that you have a purpose.  Friends challenge you and watch out for you. They help you deal with the tough times and REALLY enjoy the good times.  Friends encourage you... and you do the same for them. Let's face it!  Friends are good for you!  This past weekend my school had Fall Break and I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the long weekend with one of my closest friends, Morgan!  Morgan is one of the most godly girls I know.  I look up to her like an older sister and we get along great!  Like any true friend, we seem to spend more time laughing than anything else.  In addition to being such great friends, we are both totally passionate about health and nutrition.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we both know that are bodies are "God's temples" and we want to be wise with how we treat them.

We spent the weekend relaxing, shopping, cooking, hanging out and talking 'all things health and nutrition!' She too, had lost a lot of weight in high school and has been interested in health ever since!  The weekend was so relaxing and refreshing... a great way to keep us both motivated for the month (and the season) to come!

On Friday night (Halloween) we stopped by GNC to pick up a few things and we ended up getting a bunch of free samples of their vitamin/ supplement chews!!  It was our own little version of "Healthy Halloween" Trick-or-Treating!
Gotta love a freshly made smoothie!  Here we are heading to Church on Sunday morning.  We actually made  ourselves a batch of healthy and delicious smoothies everyday!  It's such a great way to add in some fresh fruits/ veggies!
We cooked 3 spaghetti squash this weekend!  I love this Italian version of the tasty 'pasta impasta' with some ground turkey and tomato sauce.  It's great with pesto, red pepper flakes and Parmesan, too.  It actually tastes really good with so many different toppings and healthy additions.  It is most readily available (and at the best prices) this time of year, so be sure and get a couple.  They have a shelf life of up to 3 months so you don't have to worry about cooking them right away.
Ahhh!  Salmon and sweet potatoes!!  What a treat!  These are actually considered two of the world's healthiest foods!  Salmon is good for your eyes and your heart and your brain.  And sweet potatoes have over 400% of your daily vitamin A requirement!  They've got loads of fiber and potassium and only about 160 calories.  They help with digestion and regularity, vision, inflammation, and blood pressure.  Wow!  Going out to eat is always special, but keeping it healthy is a requirement for me!
Look at that view!  Morgan lives near the beach so, of course we went exploring!  Sadly, it was SO cold and windy.  We got some fresh air and a little exercise, took a couple snaps and headed back inside.
What a relaxing, healthy weekend to get us motivated and ready for the rest of November!  So excited for "Nourishing November!"  Enjoy the change of seasons and spend time with those you love.  Be encouraged and encourage others.  Time flies by so quickly and it's easy to miss opportunities, so get out there and make the most of today!

What keeps you motivated?  Are your friends as passionate about health and nutrition as you are?!

 
 
Hellooooo November!!  Don't you just LOVE this time of year?!!  Thanksgiving is right around the corner and of course, Christmas is just a few weeks after that!  I LOVE the festive holiday season!  The lights and sights,  the cool weather and warm sweaters, the songs and traditions.  Family feasts, delicious treats, and yes... a whole lotta calories!  Just because the 'Season of Merriment' is upon us, it does NOT mean that you must fall victim to the inevitable weight gain that seems to follow these festivities!  So, in honor of the new season, I'd like to remind us all to set some realistic goals!  For me, I'm dedicating November to taking care of myself on a holistic level by nourishing my mind, body, soul and spirit!

I'm calling it Nourishing November!  My goal is simple -- Do what I know is best for me as a whole.  Sure, eating 100% clean and 'killin it' at the gym may be good for my body, but is it good for my mind?  Spending way too many hours doing homework maybe be good for my mind, but is it good for my spirit?  Skipping time in God's word so that I can 'sleep in' may feel good to my body, but is it nourishing to my soul?

So instead of setting just one specific goal, such as skipping desserts, or spending a certain amount of time working out, or significantly limiting my daily calorie intake, I want to step back and ask myself, "What is the best way to take care of my body?"  Sometimes my body needs a rest from exercise, and that's okay!  And occasionally I DO need that extra sweet after dinner or bedtime snack to help me fall asleep.  Now and then I may choose to skip breakfast... or sleep late... or sneak a piece of leftover Halloween candy.  It's much better for my overall health when I stop trying to do everything "right" and instead, just listen to my body.

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 reminds me to be a good steward of what God has given me.
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

I know that nourishing your body can be tough this time of year, but that's exactly why it's so important to start NOW.  If you try to follow a bunch of strict rules to prevent holiday weight gain, you WILL feel deprived, and by Thanksgiving you'll probably throw in the towel and end up overeating!  But if you learn to listen to your body, Thanksgiving will be a lot like any other day!  Sure, you might treat yourself, but if you remember that your goal is to nourish yourself, you'll know that 'savoring' a small sliver of your Aunt's Homemade Pumpkin Pie with a steaming cup of apple cider tea while catching up with your family is actually SOOO much more satisfying than denying yourself.  And it's also a lot more pleasurable than scarfing down the whole pie!

Why not go for a brisk walk and take in the crisp fall air?  How about listening to your body when it tells you to get more sleep and stop relying on the 3pm coffee break for energy?
  Treat yourself right with a beautiful dinner filled with local, seasonal veggies!  Listening to your body is meant to be intuitive, nourishing, and even relaxing.

Learning to nourish yourself is most definitely a process, but it is DEFINITELY worth the effort!  So that's my goal this month!  Hello Nourishing November!
 
 
Over a year ago I started 'Hello Healthy Eating' because I wanted to share my 'happiness' with others!  People were always asking me why I was so energetic and optimistic.  I told them: A. I have the "joy of the Lord" and B. I nourish my body with quality foods!  Being a Christian, I know that TRUE and lasting joy only comes from the Lord.  But HE has created an incredible abundance of foods for us to enjoy... foods that promote wellness and good health, but also satisfy our cravings for sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, tasty goodness.  I am so thankful for 'nourishment' and also for the ability to taste and enjoy His creation.

At the top of my blog I have a quote that says, "...because eating healthy makes you happy!"  It's there because it's so true!  I'm convinced that if people were to start eating healthy and nourishing their bodies, then they would most definitely feel better and more energetic, more alert, and even more beautiful!  There's a strong link between what you put in your body and just how great your body can feel.  Science backs this up!  Research shows that FOOD affects your MOOD!

So for today's "Monday's Motivation" I want to encourage you to eat healthy and nourish your body simply because it feels so good!!

Seriously!  Start you day off with a healthy breakfast, eat a nourishing lunch, and then enjoy a light, but satisfying dinner!  Be sure to include some healthy snacks and you'll be feeling better by bedtime!

Here's a list of 5 of my favorite 'Good Mood Foods' that nourish your mind, body, soul and spirit!  Not only will you love these foods, but they'll love ya right back!

  1. Sweet potatoes!  YUM!  Seriously, sweet potatoes are like my definition of comfort food.  I like 'em hot out of the oven, or cooked and then chilled from the fridge.  They're filled with healthy carbs to keep me energized and focuses.  Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and packed with beta carotene which converts to Vitamin A in your body.  This aids in eye health, boosts immunity and even helps to promote healthy skin, giving you a natural glow!
  2. Apples!  LOVE em!  I can't get enough of them (especially this time of year).  My friends joke that I'm "always eating an apple" and it's so true!  With less than 100 calories, over 4 grams of naturally fat-free fiber, there's nothing NOT to love about these sweet treats!  Natural cancer-fighters, heart-health promoters, and totally tasty snacks!  Apples are one of 'nature's candies' and are sure to put a smile on your face!
  3. Whole grains.  They're packed with tryptophan which your body converts into serotonin (a.k.a. the "feel-good hormone").  Plus, whole grains help to promote healthy sleep cycles which leads to an overall state of "well-being!"  Being gluten free, you'd probably think I don't eat too many whole grains, but there are so many different sources of healthy grains that are naturally gluten free.  Try quinoa (which is the only plants based complete protein out there), oatmeal (delicious and perfect for a chilly morning) or whole grain flax-rice crackers (SO good with almond butter for an on-the-go snack or quick breakfast)!
  4. Salmon!  Ooooh salmon, how I love this fabulous fish with all of its protein-y goodness!  Salmon is packed with healthy protein and healthy fats!  The omega-3s in this tasty treat are fuel for our brains and help to promote endurance.  World-wide studies show that countries or populations where fish is a regular part of the everyday diet actually have the lowest rate of mood disorders such as bipolar, depression and even seasonal affective disorder.  Talk about a diet-do!
  5. Dark Chocolate!  I couldn't NOT mention dark chocolate, I mean, just thinking about it makes me happy!  I prefer it super dark!  I like 90% the best.  A serving of this rich-goodness clocks in at only 3 grams of sugar and EVEN 4 grams of plants-based protein!  I recently read in a health magazine, that dark chocolate eaters were actually found to be slimmer than those who avoid the sweet stuff.  And I believe it!  I mean, super dark chocolate is incredibly satisfying.  Studies show it actually boasts your mood as soon as you eat it, plus it has naturally occurring caffeine (in small amounts) that helps you power through your day!

These are just my 5 favorite "good mood foods!"  How about you?  What foods do you eat to keep motivated, healthy and happy?

 
 
A is for APPLES!  Amazingly awesome apples!  I LOVE apples and I eat them all the time!  They are crunchy, sweet, satisfying... the perfect snack!  They're so portable, too!  An apple and a cup of 'apple cinnamon tea' is a perfect way to get in the "fall mood!"

Of course you know apples are good for you.  After all, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away!"  I'm sure you know from first-hand experience just how satisfying an apple is, especially compared to one of those wimpy 100 calorie packs you buy at the store.  For roughly the same amount of calories you can nourish your body with a 'snack that loves ya back!'

So rather than bore you with all the 'basic' benefits of apples, I want to share some unexpected, hidden superpowers found in these babies!

  1. Did you know that apples actually help to reduce cholesterol naturally?  Yep, you can thank all that fiber!  It actually slows the buildup of extra plaque in your arteries.
  2. Do you want white teeth?  Chew on an apple!  This naturally helps to prevent tooth decay as it naturally promotes the saliva to help clean up your mouth.
  3. Are you having "regularity" issues?  Munch on a fresh apple.  The fiber in these super fruits helps to keep your system regular.  The fiber can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along if you’re backed up, or absorb extra water and slow your bowels down.
  4. Are you concerned about Parkinson's and Alzheimer's?  Apples can help!  They contain an antioxidant which boosts neurological health and may actually lower your chances of getting dementia.
  5. ...and finally, Weight Loss!  Yep, that's right!  Apples help in weight loss because they're packed with filling fiber and vitamins and minerals.  Try one before a meal to curb your appetite or as a convenient snack-on-the-run that fills you up for only 100 calories!

These are just 5 of the amazing benefits of this seasonal super food!  So go ahead, chop one up and mix it into your morning oatmeal, snack on one as an afternoon pick-me-up, slice and sprinkle with a healthy dose of cinnamon, cut one in half and smear on some peanut butter topped with a few dark chocolate chips or walnuts for a healthy dessert, whip up some homemade applesauce for the perfect side to a warm supper on a chilly night, or even give yourself an excuse to indulge in a small slice of fresh baked apple pie ...hey, it's all about balance, right?!

What about you?  Do you believe in 'an apple a day'?  What's your favorite way to enjoy them?
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Gotta love fresh, local produce! Out apple picking with some friends!
 
 
Weight loss is HARD work.  Whoever said dropping 10 pounds (or any amount of weight for that matter) is easy, was lying.  There are so many reasons that shedding the pounds is difficult... whether it's because we are surrounded by sweet and savory fattening temptations or simply that our bodies prefer to hold on to a little extra weight, it seems as if the 'battle of the bulge' can turn into a lifelong war within our own bodies.  But today I want to discuss one of the most critical aspects of losing excess pounds and maintaining a healthy weight- consistency.

It's one thing to deprive yourself one day and stuff yourself the next, but it's another thing to 'reset your hunger signals.'  When I was heavier I ate WAY more food than I do now, and the thought of cutting back actually scared me!  My body was used to larger portions and I knew I did NOT like that empty, deprived feeling that accompanies any diet.  So the question is, how do you lose weight without being hungry?!

To quote Mireille Guiliano, author of French Woman Don't Get Fat, "There is no lasting glory in rapid weight loss."  I couldn't agree more.  If you want to lose weight and do so in a pleasant way that avoids hunger pains, then you need to cut back, little by little, and reset your body's internal cues.  It really should be a slow and steady process.

But who wants to wait?  Sure, you can lose 5 pounds in a week by doing something extreme, but I would never recommend it because those 5 pounds come at a price.  When you cut your calorie intake so suddenly, your body begins to panic.  You put stress on both your body and your mind. You deprive yourself of essential nutrients and you weaken your immune system.  Your metabolism lowers to maintain energy and you lose muscle tone and strength.  It's really not worth it!

Eating too little in an attempt to lose weight causes your body to go into 'famine' mode, so when you finally allow yourself to eat more than usual (i.e. you can't take this dieting anymore) your body goes into 'feast' mode where you consume copious amounts of food because your body (and mind) believe that following the feast, you will go into another famine.

Your body and mind respond SO much better to following a consistent healthy eating plan that's more maintainable and manageable.  I know some people aren't huge fans of counting calories, but when I was losing weight, I found the most reasonable way for me to do it was to take in roughly the same amount of calories each day.  This way, my body doesn't feel the need to 'pig out' at dinner because it 'trusts' that I will be fueling it up again tomorrow morning for breakfast.  I also don't need to eat the whole bag of M&M's or a whole pint of ice cream like this is my last chance to ever do so.  I know that I'll get to enjoy some tomorrow, as well!

'Consistency' is key to eating healthy, losing weight, and keeping your sanity!  So, forget about that crash diet, that 'magic cleanse', the 'Eat only grapefruit...or soup...or lemonade diet' that promises you'll lose weight fast.  Take 'baby steps' and make eating healthy a LIFESTYLE!



Have you ever tried to lose weight?  If so, how did you do it?  Do you eat 'consistently'?
 
 
Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

So, what keeps you busy these days?  What makes you smile... or laugh... or sleep really well?  Lately, I've been busy trying to balance reading, studying, blogging, eating right, and hanging out with friends.  I realize that most of my posts are written to tell you about something... how I lost weight, the benefits of certain foods, the importance of eating healthy, etc.  But sometimes it's fun to just sit back and be thankful for all the wonderful little blessings that make up our days!

Ecclesiastics 2:24 reminds me that, "There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God."

For one, my mum and dad came to visit for 'Parents' Weekend.'  We did a little shopping, some much-needed laundry, and we went out to eat at this great gourmet supermarket.  My parents spent time with my friends and I, and we laughed... A lot!

My brother and his wife are currently living in the 'married housing dorm' at my school so we all got to spend the weekend together.  They're adorable!  They baked some delicious gluten free treats together, like oatmeal banana chocolate chip muffins, moist cornbread, and macaroons dipped in chocolate.  My brother actually shredded all the fresh coconut himself!
I attend a Bible college where this week we welcomed guest speakers and studied through the book of Daniel!  I love this book of the Bible.  Daniel was truly a man of integrity who never compromised his commitment to God.  He was an honest hard worker who was well-respected at his job and in his community.  His faithfulness and devotion is such an inspiration!  Another nice aspect of the Bible conference this week was that we had a break from regular classes.  It was a nice change from my usually heavy class load and a great time to catch up with friends and relax!  My good friend Morgan and I went shopping.  (I mostly stocked up on Quest bars from GNC!)
A few of my friends and I got the chance to bake an apple pie with the fresh mackintosh apples from our apple picking adventure.  We bought vanilla ice cream, because let's be real, apples and ice cream is sublime.  The pie crust had gluten, but don't worry, we made some apples and cinnamon for me to enjoy.  If you want a delicious, healthier dessert, simply mix sliced apples with cinnamon and bake at 350 for roughly 15 minutes.  Enjoy over a scoop or two of fresh vanilla ice cream and you've got yourself a delicious, festive seasonal dessert!
Another one of my very favorite things so far this fall was a trip to the Poconos!  My friend's parents have an adorable cabin there on the lake.  We relaxed, ate delicious homemade food (a real treat for college students) and enjoyed a lovely, scenic, (chilly) ride on their pontoon boat.
We had a blast taking pictures together down by the lake!  The lake, the leaves, the laughs... it was such a beautiful day!
God wants us to gratefully enjoy the simple things He has so richly blessed us with.  If you know me, you know I find great happiness in 'the little things' in life.  I get excited as easily (and as often) as a child.  I believe that the best life is one that's filled with laughter!  "Sweet Nothings" may not be anything big or major... but they always make me smile.
How about you??  What's going on in YOUR life that makes you happy?
 
 
Do you LOVE pasta, but like me, you don't want to eat a bowl full or carbs?   Do you crave a tasty Italian dish, but you don't want the bloated-tummy feeling that sometimes follows a big bowl of the white stuff?  I don't know about you, but when the weather chills down and autumn leaves are falling, I find myself in the mood for a 'superfood' that warms me up and makes me feel both happy AND healthy!  I mean, let's be real, who doesn't love food that loves your body back!?  Today I want to tell you guys about one of my all-time favorite seasonal superfoods... SPAGHETTI SQUASH! 
 
Have you ever tried spaghetti squash?  If not, then you are missing out on one of the most interesting and delightful superfoods out there!  I love spaghetti squash because my mind thinks it's spaghetti, but my waistline knows it's squash. It's really a win-win!  

Spaghetti squash has roughly 40 calories per cup, as compared to regular pasta which can pack nearly five times as many calories and just about 4 times the amount of carbohydrates per serving.  It's naturally low carb and high fiber!  Spaghetti squash has vitamin A, vitamins C, E, K, and several of the B vitamins.  It contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper.  The fiber helps regulate blood sugar and overall, it provides your body with a pretty nutrient dense source of energy!
So, how exactly do you cook a spaghetti squash?  Well, you start by washing the outside.  Next, you cut the whole squash down the middle (lengthwise) with a sharp, strong knife.  Be careful, this part is a little tricky... the squash wants to roll, but it helps if you put it on a kitchen towel to hold it in place.  Then you scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the middle of each side.  Sprinkle the inside with a bit of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place each half face down onto a baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for about an hour (depending on the size).  When it comes out, let it cool down a little.  Flip over and and shred with a fork.  Then scoop out the spaghetti squash and enjoy!! 

It's so delicious and versatile AND it's all gluten free!!  I love it with some freshly grilled chicken, pesto and parmesan cheese, or baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella!  My sister-in-law made these amazing burrito bowls with black beans, corn, cheese, peppers and salsa.  Delicioso!!  You can even add it to soups or enjoy plain with a pat of butter!  Anything you would do to pasta, you can do to this lovely superfood... and you can feel happy and healthy about it, too.