BOO!!!  It's almost Halloween!  The quintessential time of the year where scary equates to candy thanks to American culture.  Switch it up this year, folks, for some good 'ol fashion fun: pumpkin carving.  Before you create your monster masterpiece, do be sure to save the seeds from "the guts" of the pumpkin for a delicious and nutritious treat.  Roasted pumpkin seeds are nutrient dense and yummy!  
    These little seeds of goodness contain fiber (yay!), protein, Omega-3 (a healthy fat), iron (terrific for all, but especially for women and our non-carnivores), magnesium, zinc, potassium, copper, vitamin E (great for skin and fighting free radicals) and vitamin K.  The latter being beneficial for bone and brain health.  Additionally, pumpkin seeds have tryptophan, an essential amino acid, which makes us happy and snooze well.  So, get carving!!!
    For an easy to follow pumpkin seed recipe check out: http://ohsheglows.com/2012/09/17/how-to-roast-perfect-pumpkin-seeds-easy-crunchy-addictive/.  Also, don't hesitate to get creative and spice it up!  Add some cinnamon and nutmeg to these healthy morsels.  Not sweet enough???  Drizzle on some maple syrup.  Not feelin' sweet?  Try some Bragg Liquid Aminos and some nutritional yeast for a salty, cheesy flavor.  Or, perhaps a taste of India?  Curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom...Also, feel free to substitute coconut oil for the olive oil in this recipe and sea salt, if you don't have any Herbamare.  Enjoy!
                                                                                                                    Wishing YOU the best of health and happiness,  
                                                                                                                                                                      Stacy xoxo

    If apple cider vinegar (ACV) could wear a cape, I would consider it a super hero!  This bottle of beneficial goodness can be used for a plethora of personal, pet, and household purposes.
    ACV is by no means "the new kid on the block."  It has been used for centuries and has had no reason to falter in popularity.  ACV is born from a multi-tiered process.  First, one needs to ferment apple juice to hard apple cider (might feel the hankering to try a gulp or two, huh?  Go ahead, we'll call it multi-tasking).  Next, a second fermentation process needs to happen in order to complete the conversion to ACV.  
    I always recommend Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.  It is cold-pressed and derived from organically grown whole apples.  This makes it a supreme choice considering apples are one of the most heavily sprayed crops and by going this route you will also meet "the Mother."  
    "The Mother" is usually found floating around on the bottom of the bottle.  It is a "cobwebby" looking thing that is the enzymes of connected protein molecules.  It is literally alive!  ACV is full of living nutrients and beneficial bacteria.  These raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria are fantastic for keeping the body in optimal health.
    Here are a few, amazing beneficial uses for ACV (typically 1Tablespoon diluted in water or tea is the way to go):
  • Gas, bloating, & heartburn: Do us all a favor and take half an hour before a meal diluted in water or tea.
  • Diabetes: Go ahead, lower your glucose levels.  I dare ya!
  • Weight Loss: Bathing suit season is always right around the corner.
  • Candida (yeast overgrowth): Fight those yeastie beasties!
  • Hair: Who doesn't want to beat the frizz?
  • Skin: Dry out those zits.  It acts as an astringent and can reduce inflammation for those of you who suffer from psoriasis.
  • Sunburn: Lookin' like a lobster?  Chill out the burn by diluting it on a cloth or pouring a cupful into a bath.
  • Deodorant: Just straight up rub it on those stinky pits!
  • Mouthwash: Dragon breath no more!
  • Foot soak: Just finished workin' a double?  Soothe those swollen feet in a bath of ACV.
  • Cleaning solution: Get scrubbin' with a 1:1 ratio of ACV to water in a spray bottle.
and the list goes on...
    So why not let apple cider vinegar come to your rescue and save the day???
                                                                                                                            Wishing you the best of health and happiness,
                                                                                                                                                              Stacy xoxo


    Yum!  Granola.  It even sounds good.  To the left you'll find a perfectly, non- professional photo of granola taken by yours truly, but please don't judge!  The contents inside are incredible compared to the picture itself.  
    Granola is an easy, delicious and nutritious option for breakfast, snack, or even as a topping to the beloved peach and blueberry crumble.  Granola has an abundance of both soluble and insoluble fiber thanks to the oats.  This fiber is responsible for keeping you full, maintaining heart health, stabilizing blood sugar, and contributing to a healthy colon.  
    Granola is simple to make on your own at home.  Aside from getting your creative juices flowing with the concocting of this beneficial creation, you are able to control the sugar content.  Store bought granolas tend to be chock full of sugars.  So remember, you are sweet enough!  Do your body a favor by choosing natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, stevia, or, better yet, pass on all of the above mentioned ingredients and satisfy your sweet tooth by adding some dried fruit to the mix.  Regardless, enjoy!  I have posted a recipe (see below), but please cater to YOU and put your own spin on things.  Keep calm and granola on! 
                                                                                                                                         Wishing you lots of health & happiness,
                                                                                                                                                                                       Stacy xoxo 

Maple Pecan Granola
by Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
  Mixed with yogurt and berries, this homemade, maple-infused granola makes
  for a knockout breakfast.

2 cups (500 mL) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup (125 mL) pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) raisins
1/3 cup (80 mL) sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (60 mL) cocoa nibs 
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 F (135 C).
   In large bowl, combine oats, pecans, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.         
In separate small bowl, combine maple syrup, ginger, and vanilla.
Add maple syrup mixture to oat mixture and mix until everything is moist.
Spread out on baking sheet and cook for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes to prevent burning. Cool completely and store for up to a week in an airtight container.
Serves 6.

    'Beans, beans they're good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you"...well, we have all sang that tune (if you know what I mean.  Wink, wink).  Beans truly are worth singing about.  They are nutrient dense and chock full of benefits. 
    Beans contain tons of vitamins and minerals.  The B vitamins are abundant in these little "magical fruits" that have the capacity to make one toot.  Also, minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese can all be found in these small wonders.
    Additionally, beans are rich in protein and fiber.  These are two very imperative components to a healthy, balanced diet.  Protein is needed for muscle recovery, muscle repair, building muscle, as well as helping with inflammation.  The latter, fiber, plays a very important role in stabilizing blood sugar which is a priority for diabetics and those dealing with hypoglycemia.  Also, by maintaining blood sugar levels, one is able to curb cravings which, ultimately, lowers ones chances of overeating and weight gain; therefore, leaving you with a full belly for a longer period of time.  Furthermore, fiber reduces the risk of coronary disease, heart attacks, and colon cancer, as well as helps to lower cholesterol.
    Taking all of these amazing beneficial properties into account, how can you resist hitting your local market and not investing in these antioxidant rich morsels???  There are a multitude of different varieties of beans and we all know that variety is the spice of life so don't hesitate to sample all.  
    One last praise to the almighty legume (this is the family that beans are a member of), it is super affordable, so eat up!  A note of advice: if you buy them dry (the cheapest way to get your lil hands on these gems), it is best to soak them first.  You can read up on the "how-to" at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/food-guides/beans.  It is simple and will cut down on your gas (and I am not talking about what you put in your vehicle).  Your other option is to buy them in the can which is still perfectly awesome and cheap.  
     After you purchase these mighty nuggets, the next step is to enjoy.  There are a million and one ways to indulge in beans.  A few easy options include a brown rice, bean, and veggie stir-fry or throw that whole creation into a wrap with some cheese and baby spinach and you've got yourself a burrito, or you can search the web for some incredible recipes.  Here's a favorite of mine that you can check out at http://www.alive.com/recipes/view/971/quinoa_black_bean_stew.  It is a splendid dish for this time of year.  Enjoy!
                                                                                                                              Wishing you lots of health & happiness,
                                                                                                                                                                            Stacy xoxo

    Oh...how I love my chia!  Many of you might be familiar with chia thanks to its great debut as the infamous Chia Pet.  Well, lucky for us, its incredible benefits aside from being a household favorite has finally been brought to the limelight!  
    Chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3, fiber, and protein, as well as vitamins and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.  It is fantastic for diabetics, those striving to lose weight, or anyone interested in living a healthy existence.  So, in a nutshell, these magic little seeds do not discriminate.  They are for all to enjoy.
    Chia seeds can be sprinkled on pretty much anything your lil heart desires.  Yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, salads, smoothies, and the list goes on and on.  Chia seeds can be soaked in a little bit of water for 5-10 minutes and they will form a gelatinous coat making them even more easily digestible.  Also, they can be soaked and used as a replacement for eggs in recipes due to their ability to bind.
    Chia has been coined a "superfood" due to its plethora of beneficial properties, as well as its versatility.  So don't hesitate to make it a regular part of your breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or even as a knock-your-socks-off dessert (as shown in the lovely, amateur photo above).  
    I am happily passing on this super yummy recipe (see below).  If you are trying to cure a chocolate craving, substitute regular almond milk for chocolate almond milk.  Enjoy and take care!
                                                                                                                            Wishing you all the best of health & happiness,  
                                                                                                                                                                                        Stacy xoxo    

Chia Pudding
1.5 cups almond milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
fruit of your choice
toasted coconut

 Mix the almond milk, chia seeds and vanilla extract,
cover and place in fridge. Leave for 1 hour. The chia seeds will absorb some of
the almond milk and will end up texturally like tapioca. After an hour the
almond milk should be quite thick.
 Add sliced fruit and toasted coconut, now you’ve got a
superfood dessert!