Happy Wednesday!  It's easy to lose track of the time during the summer, but I realized I haven't done a 'What I  Ate Wednesday' post in so long!  It's about time I really thought about everything I eat in an entire day.  Obviously everyday is different... but here's just a sample of a day in the life of me!
I started my morning with a nice balanced breakfast.  I had a fried egg, a handful of gluten free pop chips, a scoop of PB2 (ie. the BEST low calorie peanut butter ever... seriously, I'm in love with this stuff!) and an apple!  Yummy and healthy.
For lunch I went back to my parents' cabin, which is across the lake from the Christian resort I work at.  My mom always has a glorious assortment of tasty treats on hand, many of them a little more 'indulgent' than I care to enjoy.  I made myself a lovely lunch and then I took a little afternoon 'siesta'!  My lunch included half of a leftover grilled hamburger, some fresh veggies from the local farmer's market, a scoop each of homemade light potato salad and gluten free pasta salad, more pop chips and some Greek yogurt/ marshmallow salad with fresh fruit!  Yummy, healthy and all gluten free!
After lunch, I decided to have a little scoop of lite Moosetracks ice cream because... well, I love sweets and they had some in the freezer... it was meant to be, right?!  YUM!
Also, (unpictured) I had a small apple and cup of coffee in the afternoon before my waitressing shift.  Then at dinner, I had a garden salad with light dressing, feta and cauliflower, a sweet potato and ham!  I also had a small nectarine and plum... so fresh, healthy and delicious!
Okay, I'll admit it... I had a second dessert!  (#foodfreedom ??)  I had one serving of lite chocolate ice cream (only 70 calories!) and a package of Non-GMO gluten free, vegan cookies!  Yummy and oh-so-satisfying!  (Besides July is national ice cream month so it's okay, right?!)

Looking back on my day, I realize I didn't eat as well as I could have ( I see a green smoothie in my future!)  Regardless, that was my day, and it was a DELICIOUS day!

What about you?!  Do you ever eat ice cream twice in one day?  What did you eat today?

Did you know that food can make you beautiful?  Yup.  That's right... regular basic food can be just as important (and better for me) than that daily dose of Clinique moisturizer I lather on my face every morning.  Hard to believe that the healthy foods we eat are as vital to our skin as the pricey makeup we buy.  I know from experience that if I eat too much junk food, my skin immediately responds negatively.  It's like my body knows what I'm up to and is punishing me for not nourishing it as I ought to.

BUT, the story does not end there.  Just as our skin is quick to respond to negative food choices, it is also quick to recover and heal with the right nutritious choices.  Today I want to share with you guys my top 5 fave beautify foods!

If you want to read all about these 'beauty foods' you should check out Kimberly Snyder's health and nutrition books.  She eats incredibly nourishing foods and looks amazing.  While I believe it's most important to eat a moderate diet, I love knowing that some of the foods I eat everyday actually nourish my skin from the inside out!

 1.  Avocados-  I LOVE avocados... and let's be real, who doesn't?  They are filling, nourishing and oh-so-satisfying.  Avocados help to activate collagen which keeps skin healthy, soft and smooth!  The antioxidants in these super foods help to make your skin glow!  They are awesome to eat, but they also can be mashed up into a healthy face mask!
  2.  Spinach-  I eat spinach almost daily!  Stirred into an omelet for breakfast, eaten fresh in a big salad at lunch, or wilted alongside some protein at dinner, spinach is so versatile!  I love it and it loves me back... spinach is packed with plant based protein, iron and Vitamin K.  Spinach is loaded with Vitamin A, too, which keeps your eyes healthy!  All the vitamins help to keep your skin looking healthy and nourished!  I'll take that!
  3.  Sweet Potatoes-  You guys know I'm a sweet potato lover... with good reason!  They love me back!  Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C which also help to make your skin glow!  The beta-carotene helps protect you from the sun's rays.  They are sweet, but not sugary... satisfying, but not fattening (about 117 calories).  For an extra dose of dietary fiber, eat the skins!
  4.  Apples-  I eat an apple a day (okay, let me be honest... I eat at least 2).  They make the perfect midmorning snack!  Apples are sweet and filling, plus they actually help with hair growth (they help prevent baldness and thinning).  They are filled with important antioxidants and dietary fiber.  They contain Vitamin C which helps to clear up skin and copper which helps with natural protection from the sun.
  5.  Coconut oil-  Oh how I love coconut oil!! I actually use it to wash my face almost every day!  Coconut oil is said to help with scarring and can be used as a natural body lotion.  I sometimes put it in my hair before I style it as a heat protectant!  It can be used as a lip balm and make up remover, too!  It really is so versatile!  I love coconut oil... it's a true beauty essential!

How about you?!  What are your favorite 'beauty foods?'
Ecclesiastes 3:13 reminds me, "That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." 

I LOVE dessert!  Let's be honest, who doesn't?  If you know a little about me, you know I eat a little dessert everyday... but I no longer feel guilty about it  (#foodfreedom).  Today I want to share a few of my favorite healthy desserts with you because let's be real, if it's tasty AND healthy... that's a real win-win!!

For starters, one of my favorite desserts is powdered chocolate peanut butter.  Seriously, for any 'chocoholics' out there... this is a must!!  If you've ever heard of PB2, this is basically the same thing... It's peanut butter that has been 'pressed' and the majority of the fat and calories are removed.  You mix it with water to create the consistency of normal peanut butter.  I prefer the chocolate version, because, well... it's chocolate!

More about this amazingly delicious dessert... Below are my two fave ways to enjoy it.

A) Straight up, blended with water... or B) Blended with water and rolled into truffles and frozen!  So delicious!  I feel like I'm eating a rich, chocolatey, 'fattening' fudge truffle... but each one has less than 20 calories and less than 2 grams of sugar!

Another amazingly delicious sweet is Nana's Cookie Bars!  I've had the regular cookies and the cookie bars!  Both are delicious and free of refined sugar, gluten and dairy.  I love to eat the Chocolate Munch variety (frozen).  They taste like a bar of high quality chocolate!  And the Berry Vanilla ones are delicious with a bit of almond butter!  YUM!
Just the other day I made some chia seed pudding that I sweetened with maple syrup and cinnamon.  I topped a bowl of it with a few pieces of these Cookie Bars for some texture and some Organic Almond Butter!  YUM again!
As I mentioned, I look forward to (and savor) dessert everyday! I love dessert and I believe that I can even enjoy 'indulgent' desserts in moderation (#foodfreedom)... but at the same time it's always fun to find treats that are good for your mind, your taste buds, AND your body!! These do just the trick!

Do you eat dessert everyday?  What are your favorite healthy treats?!
Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Summertime is full of 'Sweet Nothings!'  There are so many things to be thankful for!  Think early morning sunrises on the beach, long lazy days and sensational sunsets.  There's walking and swimming, reading and relaxing.  And don't forget all the fresh fruits and veggies... plump round blueberries, juicy red cherries, colorful peppers and sweet succulent corn on the cob.  I love cute little skirts and matching sandals (or 'bumming it' and going barefoot),  big sunglasses and creamy sun screen.  Seriously, summer is by far my favorite season!  I love hitting up cute cafes with friends for an delicious afternoon lunch (see above)!

I love ICE CREAM.  Seriously.  It's really quite simple.  Ice cream + Cailee = Happiness!
FAMILY!  I work at a Christian Resort for the summer and I am lucky to have my whole family come up to visit. These are just a few of my cousins.
Okay, I'm so excited to tell you guys something CRAZY!  In honor of #foodfreedom, I decided that I'm going to start eating gluten again!!  I know...crazy, right?  I mean, I went over a year without eating it.  I didn't really cheat either. I didn't have a slice of pizza, or bread or cake.  Can you believe that?  Don't worry... I talked to my doctor about it and she told me that it would be okay to add gluten back into my diet as long as I did it SLOWLY and listened to my body.  

This was critical because at first I had headaches and stomach pains... but now I feel fine eating it (in moderation, of course)!  My first "gluten-y" meal?  Spaghetti squash with chicken and pesto and a side of homemade BREAD... yes, BREAD.  YUM!  Going gluten-free definitely solved some pretty significant health issues I was having, so I'll keep you posted as to how this all works out, but at this point I'm enjoying a little gluten.

How about you?!  Has anyone gone 'back to gluten'?   And what are some 'sweet nothings' that are going on in your life this summer?

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Today I'm super excited to tell you guys about this wonderful company called Buildasign.com.  A few weeks ago they reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in receiving one of their products in exchange for a review.  I happily chose to create my very first business cards with the help of this cool company.  I had been planning on doing this for my blog for a while now, because, let's be real... business cards make EVERYTHING more official!

What I loved about Buildasign is that the cards were so simple and easy to make.  I got to customize them completely and make them exactly how I wanted.  I chose to make the background purple, just like my web page.  I was able to include my own pictures and the 'creation tools' allowed me to make them completely unique from other business cards I've seen before.

I ordered 250 of these cards and I would encourage anyone with a blog to order some for themselves!  They are really inexpensive, only $13.99 for 250.  They are so fun and practical!  I'm working as a waitress at a resort for the summer and I'll tell ya, I LOVE to give these cards to my friends, co-workers and even guests!  Just the other day, I was talking with some couples about how I'm studying to be a Dietician and I mentioned how I'd love to become a motivational speaker for health and nutrition... one of the men explained he how wished I had a card or something since he has Celiac Disease and would like to check out my site.  We all laughed and then I told them, I actually DO have business cards for my blog!!

Seriously, I would encourage you guys to check out http://buildasign.com!  They have a great selection of products at very reasonable prices!

How about you?  What's stopping you from ordering some business cards?!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Last Sunday I heard a sermon all about the negative effects of worrying.  The Pastor spoke about how so many people suffer from fear and anxiety.  In fact, many of our 'ills' are caused by worry and fear.  And he's right... anxiety is the #1 mental disorder in America.  There are many reasons we worry these days, from scary stories on the news to big bills and small paychecks, our lives are often filled with fear.  As a believer in Christ, I know that a life of fear is definitely NOT the life God intended!

To quote FDR, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  A healthy life includes a healthy mindset.  If you are living in a state of fear about food (or anything else) then you need to change your mindset.

Just a few months ago, I was afraid of sugar.  I mean, with all the information we're bombarded with these days, it's hard to make peace with food.  It seems that food has become our worst enemy.  Refined sugar is labeled toxic, gluten is shunned, and white flour?  Forget about it... you might as well be eating poison.

This was me, I was actually afraid to consume refined sugar, or gluten, or dairy...  my relationship with food dramatically suffered from these self-imposed "healthy" rules.  I would avoid my favorite foods and then, the minute I finally allowed a treat, I felt so deprived that I would 'pig out' on the very food I had declared as "poison."  I was stressed about food and I'd end up sabotaging all my 'healthy eating' efforts.

The "all-or-nothing" mentality used to be something I associated with strict dieting, but nowadays I believe it has crept into the health world, as well.  There are just so many rules (gluten-free, Paleo, vegan) and  it's hard to live in a world of such restriction.  We feel as if we're 'good' because we didn't eat any carbs or sweets... and 'bad' if we did (as if a handful of M&MS are going to kill us!)

For me, I've finally come to the realization that restrictive diets DO NOT work for me... even when they are done in the name of health.  Of course I'm not saying it's healthy to eat 5 cupcakes, but what's wrong with one?  What's wrong with eating a treat?  Worry, guilt and regret should not be emotions we feel based on what we ate that day.  Luke 12:23 says, "For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."

I don't know about you, but I'm done with cutting out foods groups and restrictive eating.  One of my good friends feels the same way.  We hate the fact that food can have such power of us... so we decided that it's no longer in charge.  We're no longer living in a place of restriction.  It's something she came up with called, #foodfreedom.  It's a no judgement zone.  If we want to eat a piece of bread, we're gonna eat some bread...

That being said, food freedom is not about pigging out on junk food because you can.  The thing about ALLOWING yourself to eat whatever you want is that you will soon find that you don't feel so compelled to eat it in excess.  When I've restricted sugar in the past, I would end up pigging out on sugar-free chocolate or crackers or anything because I just felt so deprived.  I KNOW what is healthy and when I allow myself to eat what I want, I feel so much better.  No guilt, no worry, no stress and regret... I am learning to enjoy my favorite treats in moderation!

How about you?  Do you feel anxious about certain foods?  Or do you practice #foodfreedom?!
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

Ohhhh, the joy of sleep!   We all do it, we all need it... and let's be real, we all enjoy it!  Who doesn't love to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day?

The problem is... for so many of us, that just doesn't happen... at least not regularly.  Instead of waking up feeling refreshed and ready, we moan and groan and hit the snooze button until we absolutely MUST get out of bed.

There's a reason Starbucks is so packed in the AM.  Most of of us can't get moving without a hit of caffeine.  We all live busy, hectic lives and unfortunately, sleep seems to get pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists after all the "more important" things get done.  Maybe it's a paper you pushed off 'til last minute, or some laundry, or maybe you can't decide what to wear the next day!  Maybe you just can't put down your phone or your ipad or you just want to relax and watch a few minutes of TV!

Sleep seems to be of little importance in our modern society.  But actually, sleep is one of the most important and necessary gifts you can give yourself!  Did you know that sleep increases your lifespan?  And it actually improves the overall quality of your life.  Studies have shown that sleep helps to improve your memory which leads to increased creativity.  Whether you're learning a new language or how to play piano, you'll do better after a good night's sleep.  You'll probably be in a better mood, too.  Just think about how cranky a little child gets when it's past his bedtime!  Nobody likes being around someone who is exhausted.  And sleep deprivation over time actually puts you at risk for depression.

Sleep helps to decrease inflammation which can help prevent heart disease.  Sleep helps to reduce stress.  In terms of eating right and weight loss, sleep is your new BFF!  Sleep actually helps you eat less overall and helps you feel more energized for the day.  Think about it, if you're running on only 5 hours of sleep, your morning workout is likely NOT going to happen.  BUT, if you turn in early and wake up from a refreshing 8 hours of sleep, 6 AM doesn't seem so torturous, after all.

Sleep may be something that is often overlooked, but in my opinion... it couldn't be more important!!  (I think I feel a nap coming on...)

How about you? Do you get enough sleep?  Are you sleep deprived?!
"Wanna go for a walk??"  This is on of my dog's favorite questions.  I love walking, too!  It's one of the best ways to be active without having to go to the gym, break out in a sweat, or even change your clothes.  I love to go walking with friends in the summer time.  We walk around town, to the local market or even to get some ice cream from a nearby shop (Yes, ice cream... we ARE walking all the way there).  Walking is simple, easy, free and super fun.  You can walk anywhere and with anyone!  If you have a dog, then you KNOW how much she will love it!  My dog's almost 13, but she gets so excited the minute she hears the jingle of her leash!  Here are just a few amazing health benefits of walking:

  1. It promotes weight loss/ maintenance- Sure, running burns more calories than walking... but I'm no runner!  Walking actually burns a decent amount of calories (up to 150 calories for a 30 minute walk), but more than just the amount of calories burned, walking helps to prevent snacking.  When you feel like grabbing an extra (unnecessary) cookie try going for a walk instead.  You'll not only burn calories, but you'll actually save a bunch too!
  2. It's FREE entertainment- Sure, you could buy a membership to a nice gym... but there's really no need.  You see can see the sights, chat with friends, and get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun on a nice brisk walk.  Walking doesn't cost you a penny, so lace up your shoes and go!
  3. It keeps your mind healthy- Studies have actually shown that walking can lower chances of Alzheimer's and dementia and it helps to keep the brain active and healthy!  Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins which help fight depression.  That's right, walking does more than just help you fit into your skinny jeans... It's good for your mind AND your body!
  4. It boosts your energy- Going for a nice walk actually helps to energize your day.  As you walk, you increase your circulation, which increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body.  You  feel more alert and alive as your body is energized naturally (and THAT helps to prevent a mid-afternoon slump!)
  5. It keeps bones and joints strong- Walking helps to prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.  As you walk, you stimulate and strengthen your bones.  You increase your bone density and keep your joints moving and healthy.  You actually strengthen them with your own body weight.

These are just a few of the amazing health benefits of walking!  So grab your buddy (or your dog named Buddy) and hit the road!

How about you?  Do you like walking?  Do you walk regularly?!

Building a healthy lifestyle doesn't happen overnight... like anything worth having, it takes time, effort, and commitment.  But that doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort!  These are my top 5 tips to building a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

  1. Eat Real Food- A healthy, balanced diet revolves around whole, natural foods that nourish your body.  Some of my favorite 'clean' foods are strawberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, chia seeds and avocados!  Hey, if it was good enough for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it's good enough for ME!
  2. Watch Your Portions- We all know that 'healthy' food is the foundation of a 'healthy' diet, but in order to look and feel your best, you need to practice portion control.  Sure, organic peanut butter is filled with nourishing fat and plants based protein, but eating a jar of it is NOT healthy. 
  3. Eat a Balanced Diet- Now that you are eating the RIGHT foods, it's important to eat a varied and balanced diet.  So go ahead... eat carbs!!  People think that carbs and sugars are the enemy, but if you're eating a 'whole foods diet' filled with the RIGHT carbs, you can treat yourself to all nature has to offer!  My favorites?  A bit of frozen mango and frozen chopped banana for dessert!  It tastes like dessert!
  4. Be Consistent- Sure, a Juice Cleanse or Detox Diet may be 'all the rage' right now, but is it really sustainable?  If you want to focus on building a balanced lifestyle, then you need to start building healthy habits that you can stick to.  I can't stress this enough.  Habits make 'eating healthy' easy.  They make it so you don't have to rely solely on willpower to prevent you from devouring that tray of cookies.  When you eat regular meals and snacks, you prevent overeating since you keep your blood sugar levels stable.  Aim to eat on a consistent schedule so that you don't get hungry (and overeat later.)
  5. Be Active!- No, I'm not about to tell you that you need to sign up for a marathon, but you DO need to focus on ways that you can be active everyday.  Take the stairs, go for a walk, and do some light stretching before bed.  All these little things really do add up!

These are my 5 tips to building a healthy lifestyle!  If you slip up and eat something you didn't intend to, or if you just plain eat too much, don't stress about it!  Just forgive yourself and start again!  Each day is a new beginning!  

How about you?  What are you favorite ways to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25)

Hey everyone!! Today I want to introduce you to a new segment called, Hello Healthy Life!  I know this blog is all about eating healthy foods that nourish your body (and tasty treats that nourish your life)... but Matthew 6:25 reminds me that life is so much more than just FOOD and that's why I want to make this blog about more than just 'eating healthy.'  There are other ways, in addition to eating properly, to make life a little healthier... and more importantly, a whole lot happier!  Today lets talk about laughter!

We all know the feeling when something is just 'too' funny... when you laugh so hard, you actually give your abs a workout and you have to wipe the tears from your eyes!!  I just LOVE that feeling!  Laughing does burn some calories, but it does so much more for your health!  Did you know that laughter naturally relaxes the whole body, reduces stress and releases endorphins that make you feel amazing?  And those 'happy tears' you cry when something really cracks you up... they actually remove toxins from the body.  They also contain lysozyme, an antibacterial and antiviral agent that kills germs and fights off bacteria.  Yep, laughter is 'nature's little antidepressant' that often comes with its own cleaning fluid!!

Laughter actually draws us near to others and helps us connect with them.  It helps us communicate and grow in our relationships and friendships!  It reduces stress and relaxes muscles.  Laughter has even been shown to help to prevent heart disease!  So, seriously... it's time to start laughing!!

The reason laughter is so good for us is that it physiologically changes the way our bodies work.  It increases blood flow and has even been proven to lower blood sugar levels!!  Crazy, right?!  Wow, who would've thought something as FUN as laughing could have such a positive impact on our health?!

Now, we all know that "laughter is the BEST medicine" but will we consider it as important as our daily greens?  I sure do!  Whether you're chuckling with your buddies (my closest friends know that when I find something REALLY funny, my laugh gets deep and raspy... like a man!) or just giggling at a sitcom (Hello Psych and Seinfeld) ...laughter should be part of your everyday routine!  Laughter makes the heart cheerful!  According to Proverbs 17:22, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

My advice?!  Live it up and laugh it up!  How about you?  What do YOU find funny?!