curry spice* roasted sweet potatoes

*or whatever spice you want

This recipe is the definition of delicious and nutritious (check the dictionary… you’ll see it there). So simple and quick, it makes a great addition to any meal–or a great snack! Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse food, rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, and other essential nutrients. This recipe is a simple, no-fuss dish that you can easily switch up to suit your tastes!

 

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sweet potatoes are done… and ’bout to be gone

Curry Spice* Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Simple roasted sweet potato recipe with loads of wiggle room to make just the way you like it.

Ingredients

  • 3 small-to-medium sweet potatoes or 2 large ones
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 tbs curry powder (or adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or adjust to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into roughly 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Gently toss sweet potatoes in pan until coated with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle generously with curry powder to taste. Alternately, try any combination of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin… or go sweet with cinnamon & a dash of nutmeg!
  5. Sprinkle sea salt to taste (this is my favorite kind).
  6. Bake on center rack for 20-24 minutes. Stir sweet potatoes halfway to ensure they don’t get stuck to the pan–because that would be sad.

just start. (foundation #1: eat right)

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Okay, so how are you going to get started on your wellness journey? That answer is individual to you. It depends on what your main goals are… and what your greatest strengths and weaknesses are. But whatever your goals are, I’m a firm believer in the importance of good foundations. If you don’t have a good foundation, you have nothing to build on! So, over the next couple weeks, I’m going to give you a brief overview of five healthy lifestyle foundations, along with a few pointers to get going in the right direction with each of these.

Remember, even baby steps are steps in the right direction.

Foundation #1: Eat right

The food we eat is what fuels our bodies, so it makes sense that the first foundation is eating right! I always think of the food I eat as supplying my body with the raw materials it needs to carry out its thousands (even millions) of internal functions daily. Quite truly, what we put in is what we will get out of our bodies. If we eat junk, we will feel like–well, junk. The human body is incredibly resilient and can survive on the most extreme of diets. But we don’t want to just survive, we want to thrive! Further, many ailments are simply nutrient deficiencies–which makes sense. When your body is lacking the raw materials it needs, it can’t function the way it’s meant to! Here are a few healthy eating tips that you can put into practice today:

  1. Remember that healthy eating is all about choices. When I was in college, I refused to buy cookies when I went grocery shopping. If I didn’t buy them, I couldn’t eat them! Instead, I chose the healthiest options I could manage to make in my dorm room with my mini fridge & my hot plate. If you can choose to eat healthy food 80-90% of the time, you’re well on your way to a healthy lifestyle! Choose a goal that is realistic for you. I love Big Star burgers just as much as the next girl–having the freedom to choose whatever I want about 10% of the time, makes it much easier to choose the healthy option the other 90% of the time. (Check out this post if you need a little guidance on what healthy eating looks like, anyway.)
  2. Think about how you feel after eating. Nobody enjoys feeling weighted down or bloated following a meal. Give thought to the connection between the food you eat & how it makes you feel, and you will be more drawn to the healthier choices that leave you feeling energized & ready to take on your day.
  3. Two words: Meal prep. Convenience is sometimes a necessity in our busy lives, so investing an hour or two of time to prepare healthy meals for the week is so worthwhile. Preparing meals ahead of time makes healthy eating convenient! If you don’t feel like you have the time to meal prep, remember: when you give your body the fuel it needs, you will be more energized and productive with the time you have. Healthy living is all about investing!

    Bonus: Take supplements. Even with a well-balanced and healthy diet, it is difficult to get all the nutrients our bodies need to thrive. Soil depletion and a host of other factors leave the food we do get less nutrient-rich than in past times. (Disclaimer: That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to eat well! As my friend Dana says, the food you eat will either feed disease or fight disease, so you’ll want to choose the food that’s going to help your body fight.) It is important to choose a multivitamin supplement that is of high quality and comes from whole food sources so that your body can make the most of it. I absolutely love dōTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Pack. To put it simply, it makes me into a functioning human being!

Choose today how you will put these principles into practice. I guarantee, as you begin to incorporate these healthy eating habits into your lifestyle, you will feel so much better, and it will become so worthwhile to you.

I’d love to hear your favorite healthy eating tips – leave a comment below!
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beginning.

I’m a perfectionist by nature. As a child, I naturally excelled at most things I did. As an adult, I learned this was primarily because I was deathly terrified.

Of failure.

It’s natural for us to want to succeed – but why is it that we are so terrified to fail?

I’ve had to learn the world doesn’t end when I fail. And in fact, to expect myself to excel at everything I do is entirely unrealistic. I’ve had to learn there is a process to everything, and to be patient with myself in the process. The fear of failing can be so great that I never actually start – unless I can be sure I have all my ducks in a row.

Just start.

So perhaps this whole wellness lifestyle thing feels daunting or overwhelming to you. Or maybe this is applicable to an entirely different area of your life. No one expects a kindergartener to do complex algebra. There are years of learning & studying math, with exercises & lots of practice & lots of mistakes – and even then, the child needs a good teacher.

If you are just getting started on your wellness journey, put yourself in that spot. Have grace and patience for yourself as you learn. (I hope I can be a good teacher!) Give yourself realistic expectations. Though it may feel like you’re settling, you’ll find you achieve and accomplish more when you take some of that pressure off!

Here’s my advice to you from the heart: Take a deep breath, and just start.

paleo low-carb gluten-free vegan whole30.

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It seems every time you turn around, there’s a new trend in healthy eating. Now don’t get me wrong—there can be merits to all of these. Most of the time. But with some of these plans, it seems like one side argues all the reasons their food is the best and healthiest, and all other food is horrendously destructive to the body; while the other side is arguing entirely the opposite. Talk about food fight! To make matters worse, research itself seems to swing back and forth all the time. Dangers of eating this food, benefits to that. Pretty soon there is nothing left that is able to be consumed! So how is anyone supposed to figure out what is healthy, anyway?

I truly believe there is research to support all sides, so to make a choice here, I’m just going to step back a minute and look at all of human civilization. Food varies so widely across cultures. Entire civilizations have thrived with rice or flour as a staple, or on a hunting and gathering diet—so it seems the human body is highly adaptable and able to thrive on a variety of foods.

So, then, it seems the best way to eat healthy is to eat with variety. Unless, of course, you have a specific health concern prompting a special diet, there is a happy balance in eating all of these wonderful things we have available to us as food. Food as a whole is so fascinating! It’s so much more complex & involved than the food pyramid we grew up with or even the nutrition facts label on the side of the box.

I do think it’s safe to say these new trends pop up all the time because the standard American diet, as a whole, is generally not what we should be eating. This is apparent, as the average American is not thriving! The diet is so full of processed food and refined grains. Why is that not good for us? All this processing removes parts of the food we need to digest it well, like fiber and enzymes, and adds other ingredients that aren’t so good for us, like preservatives and artificial dyes and too much sugar. It depletes the nutritional value of food that is otherwise healthy. This is why you’ll hear most health recommendations to avoid processed foods, or at least to consume them at a minimum.

So if we can agree that the standard American diet is an example of what is not healthy, then a good, healthy diet should look like, well, the opposite. What you want is a variety of whole foods. Fruits and vegetables, minimally processed meats, a variety of grains, nuts, seeds, organic dairy—just keep it balanced. With this in mind, I like to incorporate low-carb or paleo or Whole30 recipes as a way to add variety to my diet. These eating plans are full of nutrient-dense foods and provide a great variety, especially when it comes to grains. For example, I prefer ancient grain gluten-free pasta because of the taste, and I know I’m adding variety to the foods I’m eating.

More variety means more vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, phytonutrients, and more—all the raw materials our bodies need to function well and to thrive.

So switch things up. Eat the rainbow. Keep variety and balance in your diet for healthy living.

And relax—healthy eating should feel like an exciting adventure, not a stressful discipline! Find the foods you love and always be sure to e n j o y .

positive thinking.

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The thoughts we think shape us as people: everything from what we believe about the world and about ourselves, to the way we respond to situations in our lives. But for whatever reason, there is one type of thought that we are just bent on as human beings. That is the cycle of negative thinking. Have you ever noticed that it takes very little effort to get angry at a driver who cuts you off, or to become impatient with your significant other when they’ve done something that didn’t meet your expectation? (oh yes, been there, done that.)

There’s one very big problem with this negative thought pattern – the way it amplifies and creates stress within us. We feel miserable when our thoughts become miserable. And this extends beyond just our mental & emotional health. Stress has very real physical effects on our bodies. Though this bit of wisdom has been known for centuries, modern research is finding more and more just how (and how much) our mental & emotional stress directly impacts our physical health. These effects include decreased immune response (see what the American Psychological Association has to say about this), digestive upset, headache, muscular tension, and more—and, in the long term, can include high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes (source: Mayo Clinic).

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look for joy!

Stress can affect just about every area of our physical health – so it’s no wonder managing stress is a key foundation to health & wellness! There are a multitude of strategies we can put into practice to help with managing stress, but a simple thing you can start doing today is to practice positive thinking. Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking – this all sounds like some really fluffy, rainbows-and-unicorns denial of reality. That’s not what I’m talking about at all – the positive thinking I’m referring to is a shift in perspective.

Here are 5 perspective-shifters you can start practicing today:

1. embrace gratitude. Setting your focus on the things you are thankful for is an instant way to break out of the cycle of discontentment. We can become so fixed on everything that is wrong in our worlds that we forget everything that is so good. An interesting exercise is to spend two minutes each day thinking about all the things you have to be thankful for. This will train your brain to think from a thankful perspective, instead of a discontented, never-satisfied mindset. Even now, I’m sure you can bring to mind at least ten things you have to be thankful for. Practicing thankfulness is a life-changing habit!

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onion flowers sprouted up in the middle of the backyard! #simplejoys

2. look for the silver lining. Surely, on any given day, there are a bajillion terrible things that may happen. I fully sympathize with each of them! Looking for the “silver lining,” though, is a guaranteed way to change your perspective in the midst of adversity. This can be in simple things – I couldn’t find my keys this morning, but I am so glad I have keys to go missing. You’re stuck in traffic – take that opportunity to put on some great music and enjoy a moment to yourself. And in more significant ordeals, though grief and stress may be inevitable, having the perspective that there is something to be gained through adversity is invaluable and makes getting through it just a little bit easier.

3. talk to yourself. When you feel negative thoughts creeping in, speak out loud to yourself. Counter those life-draining thoughts with life-giving ones. By focusing on the positive aspects of your situation, you are re-training your brain to take a productive & positive thought path instead of a draining, negative one. This process takes time and repetition, but as much as you can catch yourself, replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. This will completely change your outlook and the way you respond to situations in your life!
4. smile. Ever hear the phrase, “fake it ’til you make it”? This is actually very true of our emotions & thought life! Genuinely smiling – even when you don’t feel like it – triggers positive feelings in our brains. Try smiling as you read the rest of this article & let me know how you feel at the end of it! This effect is contagious: when you smile at others, you are guaranteed to get smiles back – it’s a natural human response.
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beautiful how the sun makes these leaves look like they’re on fire! #simplejoys

5. notice the little things. I don’t think there’s anything more productive to a positive mindset than to be observant and to notice the little things around you – after all, they’re everywhere. Find and take notice of the everyday joys in life – a beautiful sky, your favorite dessert, a small piece of good news. Laugh often, and look for the humor in every situation. You could say I’m rather easily amused – but I have no shame at taking joy in the tiniest things! Laughter does so much to influence emotional & physical health for the better, to reduce stress levels, and to increase healthy immune response. So search for the simple things. As a challenge, find something each day to photograph and document your #simplejoys. Focusing on the good things raises our hope and expectation for good in others and in ourselves.

Change probably won’t happen overnight – but put these things into practice, and you’ll notice a shift in your perspective before long. And with it, you’ll feel less stress and more joy.
 
Is there something I missed? Comment with your favorite positive-thinking practices!

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lovely view in the afternoon. #simplejoys

#simplejoys instagram photo challenge

upload a photo a day for the next 50 days of something simple that brings you joy, using the hashtag #simplejoyschallenge

amazing breakfast cookies. (gluten-free)

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The best thing to come out of my kitchen yet – and my first attempt at improv baking. yep.. I’d say it’s a success.

I literally can’t call them anything else. These cookies are just as delicious as they are nourishing for you – protein packed, full of all the goodness that you need to keep going in the morning. (Flax, chia, and hemp seeds supply essential fatty acids & amino acids. Dark chocolate for antioxidants and deliciousness.) But they’re like dessert. I almost didn’t take enough photos because I kept eating them. So let me cut to the chase – here is the recipe for the most delicious, amazing breakfast cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Amazing Breakfast Cookies

  • Servings: makes about 3 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Protein and nutrient packed cookies that are just slightly sweet and full of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbs coconut milk
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs coconut oil, warmed to melt
  • ½ c almond butter
  • 3 tbs raw honey
  • 1 c oat flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 c rolled oats
  • ¼ c chia seeds
  • ¼ c hulled hemp seeds
  • ¼ c ground flax seeds
  • 1½ c dark chocolate chips/chunks (the darker, the better)
  • ½ c chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with coconut milk until frothy.
  3. Add mashed bananas, vanilla extract, coconut oil, almond butter, and honey. Beat until well-blended, being careful not to over-beat.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, sea salt, baking powder, and spices.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet mixture, stirring with each addition. Add seeds, oats, walnuts, and dark chocolate, and mix well. (If mixture seems too dry, add a little coconut milk. If too wet, slowly add more oats. It should be a little wet, but not runny.)
  6. Spoon dough balls onto greased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are just starting to brown.

There you have it. Feel free to substitute any other nut butter for the almond butter, and you can sub additional flax or chia for the hemp seeds if you don’t have any on hand. These are gluten free, as long as you use GF labeled ingredients! Refrigerate or freeze extra cookies for later.

Did I mention, these are perfect with coffee?? Good luck eating anything else for breakfast. Enjoy!

dark chocolate.

Recently, a health-conscious friend of mine was lamenting to me how she just can’t give up having a sweet after dinner every day. My solution for that is always dark chocolate. She was overjoyed (as any reasonable chocolate-lover would be). Yes – you can still enjoy sweets when you’re eating well! Dark chocolate in particular is pretty incredible because… well, it’s chocolate. Duh. Okay, but really, it has lower sugar content as sweets go, and some great health benefits as well!

I was reminded of this incident while grocery shopping and looking at, of all things, soup. I’m currently on a no-added-sugar eating plan, and I was shocked to find that most of the soups had at least 8 or 9 grams of added sugar in a serving! Sure enough, “organic cane sugar” was the second ingredient. But surely, if supposedly healthy soup contains this much sugar… there can be no problem with a little dark chocolate!

If plain dark chocolate is getting a little boring, make your own chocolates by melting some dark chocolate down on low heat in a double boiler (I like to use a Pyrex cup, since it is heat-resistant, in a saucepan full of water). Stir in a drop of peppermint essential oil, a handful of chopped almonds or walnuts, dried cranberries… the possibilities are endless.

and remember: dark chocolate is always the answer.