Homemade Ketchup

January 16th, 2019 | no comments

I dare you to find a ketchup without added sugar. Most on the market are made with some form of refined sugar- the worst being high fructose corn syrup. And those labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added” are made with…yes, you guessed it- artificial sweeteners like sucralose.

This is why it’s so important to read the ingredient list!

This homemade ketchup recipe is pretty simple. It uses only a handful of ingredients and is sweetened with raw honey instead of white table sugar (like most recipes out there). 

Compared to other sweeteners, raw honey has a lower glycemic index, so it is gentler on your blood sugar. It also contains valuable vitamins, mineral, and enzymes. 

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Homemade Ketchup
This homemade ketchup recipe is pretty simple. It uses only a handful of ingredients and is sweetened with raw honey instead of white table sugar (like most recipes out there). 0 Earthfoods per serving
Course Spreads
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
tablespoons
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 small onion
Course Spreads
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
tablespoons
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 small onion
Instructions
  1. Puree garlic and onion in food processor until smooth. You will have to stop and scrape the sides several times. Keep processing until completely pureed and no bits remain (l left mine with a tiny bit of texture and actually like it better!)
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine tomato paste, honey, water, apple cider vinegar, salt, and garlic and onion mixture. Whisk until smooth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let cool. Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 tablespoon)Calories: 20Total Fat: 0 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Sodium: 120 mg; Potassium: 50 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 5 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Net Carbohydrates: 5 grams; Sugar: 4 g (all from added sugar); Protein: 0 g

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Top Six Dietitian-Approved Nutrition Bars

January 9th, 2019 | no comments

 

Plus:

 

Take a look at the growing number of nutrition bars out there and I’m sure you’ll agree they are a sizzling hot, much sought-after solution for those seeking a quick grab-n-go meal.

I definitely fall into that category.

Personally, I like to use bars in one of two ways:

  1. Split the bar in two; eat one half as a snack and save the other for another snack.
  2. As an on-the-go meal paired with a hard-boiled egg and either a piece of fresh fruit or raw veggies and hummus.

A word of caution: You have to be careful with bars. Just because it’s classified as a “nutrition” bar, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily nutritious and good for you.  

 

Mel’s top six favorite nutrition bars  

 

I’ve narrowed the sea of bars down to my top six favorite, along with a brief explanation for why they made the list, and additional information that will help you choose the best one for your particular dietary needs.

NOTE: All six bars have three essential things in common, they are free of: gluten, GMOs, and additives/preservatives.

 

Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 9 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 2 grams (0 grams added sugar)
  • Sweetened with: organic stevia leaf extract
  • Vegan: no
  • Dairy-free: no
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: crumbly like a cookie
  • Flavors: Vanilla Shortbread (my fav!); Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; Fudge Brownie; Lemon Cookie; Mint Chocolate Chip; Apple Pie
  • Mel’s two cents: this is my favorite bar on the market for a number of reasons. First, I love the texture and flavor because it reminds me of a crumbly cookie—sometimes I enjoy it with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. Second, it contains brain-powering MCT oil in the form of caprylic and capric acid. It’s a bit messy when eaten in the car…which I shouldn’t be doing anyway, right?
  • PS: The genius behind these bars is Dave Asprey, self-proclaimed ‘biohacker’ and creator of the wildly popular Bulletproof Coffee. He is anything but ordinary (which I adore about him) and one of the most interesting human beings I know. Check out his blog, podcast, and other environmentally conscious and ethically sourced products

 

Garden of Life GOL Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 19 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 9 grams (0 grams added sugar)
  • Sweetened with: organic dates
  • Vegan: no
  • Dairy-free: no
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: yes
  • Texture: chewy
  • Flavors: Blueberry; Chocolate Sea Salt; Maple Sea Salt; Chocolate Coconut
  • Mel’s two cents: although on the higher end of sugar (my recommendation is less than 10 grams per bar with a target goal of 5 grams or less), this bar made the list because it is naturally sweetened with just two dates. The combination of sea salt with sweet from the dates makes this a real treat for the taste buds.
  • PS: My favorite flavor is Maple Sea Salt. If you love maple, you will adore this variety!

 

Raw Rev Glo Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 6 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 2-5 grams (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: organic cane sugar; organic brown rice syrup
  • Vegan: yes
  • Dairy-free: yes
  • Soy-free: no
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: chewy
  • Flavors: Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt; Creamy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt; Crunchy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; Dark Chocolate & Cashew Mint; Dark Chocolate Espresso Crunch; Double Chocolate Brownie Batter; Mixed Nuts Caramel & Sea Salt
  • Mel’s two cents: this is another one of my go-to bars because it’s loaded with good healthy fat and dietary fiber—so it does a great job at keeping me full. The dairy-free chocolate chips (in all varieties except peanut butter) give it a sweet taste while keeping the sugar grams low. My favorite flavor is the Mixed Nuts Caramel & Sea Salt.
  • PS: check your teeth after you eat one of these babies, you just may have a chia seed or two lodged in there for the world to see!

 

evo Hemp Protein Bars  

  • Net Carbohydrates: 13 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 4 grams (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: monk fruit blend; cane sugar; maple syrup
  • Vegan: yes
  • Dairy-free: yes
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: crumbly like a cookie
  • Flavors: Brownie Chip; Cookie Dough; Mocha Chip
  • Mel’s two cents: the monk fruit blend sweetener contains erythritol, a sugar alcohol that can cause digestive upset in sensitive individuals. It’s also the sweetest tasting bar on this list!

 

evo Hemp Fruit Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 18-21 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 8-9 grams on average (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: dried fruit; coconut nectar
  • Vegan: yes
  • Dairy-free: yes
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: yes
  • Texture: chewy
  • Flavors: Apple Pecan; Cashew Cacao; Cherry Walnut; Mango Macadamia
  • Mel’s two cents: these bars have a heavy fruit flavor. They carry a decent amount of protein (7 grams on average) and fat to counterbalance the higher carbohydrate content.

 

Bone Broth Protein Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 11-12 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 8 grams (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: minimal sugar alcohols; stevia; organic: sugar, honey, coconut nectar, dates
  • Vegan: no
  • Dairy-free: no
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: VERY chewy
  • Flavors: Salted Chocolate Almond; Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  • Mel’s two cents: because these bars are made with collagen, they are very chewy and can stick to your teeth (so don’t smile after eating one until you’ve consulted with a mirror). Collagen is especially good for supporting skin and joint health.
  • PS: They can be a bit messy, so grab a napkin before opening the package!

 

Nutrition bars to leave on the shelf:  

 

I hate to say it, but there are a lot of bars on the market that are anything but nutritious. In fact, they are downright crap! Honestly, in some cases you’d be better off eating a high-quality chocolate bar (no joke). If you stick with the recommended bars listed above, you’ll be just fine.

Here are just a few that I recommend leaving on the shelf.  

 

“Nutrition” Bar (ha, ha):      Why you should leave them:   
Cliff bars Loaded with sugar (upwards of 6 teaspoons of sugar per bar!)
ONE bars Contains the artificial sweetener sucralose
Quest bars      Contains the artificial sweetener sucralose
Think Thin bars  Made with 20+ grams (that’s a lot!) of sugar alcohols—which will likely cause digestive upset (i.e. excess gas!)
Zone bars  Contains inflammatory soybean oil, corn syrup solids, plus an ingredient list longer than my arm

 

Want nutrition bar convenience without breaking the bank?

 

You can find literally thousands of recipes for homemade nutrition bars online, but be careful because many are loaded down with way too much sugar.

Be sure to check out this week’s recipe pick below for my Whole Food Nutrition Bar!

You may also want to try my recipes for Earthfood Energy Bars and No-Bake Cinnamon Cashew Cookie Bars!

 
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Whole Food Nutrition Bar

 

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Whole Food Nutrition Bar

January 9th, 2019 | no comments

Nutrition bars can be expensive, the higher quality varieties cost upwards of $2.50 per bar…that’s $75 a month! 

Although I’m not willing to give up my favorite nutrition bars, I do like to supplement with a homemade bar to cut down on the cost. Plus, I control what goes in and can tweak accordingly to suit my tastes. 

This no-bake recipe uses an abundance of whole food ingredients and functional foods (i.e. cacao nibs and maca powder) to give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. Maca, also known as Peruvian ginseng, is the root of a vegetable native to Peru. It falls under the category of “adaptogens”, which means it has the power to fight daily stress, thereby helping your body achieve a state of balance and harmony.

These gluten, grain and dairy-free bars are naturally sweetened with dates, but I also added a tablespoon of raw honey. You can leave that out if you’d like. The healthy fat comes from raw almonds and unrefined organic coconut oil, and I also added some Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein Powder for some extra protein.

Oh…and I used flaked quinoa instead of oats to keep it grain-free.

PS: You may also want to check out my post on the Top Six Dietitian-Approved Nutrition Bars, where I highlight my favorite bars out there!


Print Recipe


Whole Food Nutrition Bar

This gluten, grain and dairy-free, no-bake nutrition bar recipe uses an abundance of whole food ingredients and functional foods (i.e. cacao nibs and maca powder) to give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥

Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 60 minutes (for bars to set)

Servings
bars


Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups pitted dates, halved
  • 2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
  • 2 tbsp. cacao nibs I like Navitas brand
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes I like I Heart Keenwah brand
  • 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Pea Protein Powder
  • 2 tbsp. maca powder I like Navitas brand
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 2 tbsp. organic, unsweetened coconut flakes + more for topping I like Let's Do Organic brand

Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 60 minutes (for bars to set)

Servings
bars


Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups pitted dates, halved
  • 2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
  • 2 tbsp. cacao nibs I like Navitas brand
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes I like I Heart Keenwah brand
  • 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Pea Protein Powder
  • 2 tbsp. maca powder I like Navitas brand
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 2 tbsp. organic, unsweetened coconut flakes + more for topping I like Let's Do Organic brand


Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and gently pulse until the nuts are chopped and a cohesive mixture is formed. You may have to divide the mixture into two and process each batch separately, then stir to combine together in a large bowl.

  2. Line a 9 X 6 rimmed baking dish with parchment paper and press the mixture into dish until flat and smooth. Refrigerate for an hour then cut into 20 squares and top with additional coconut flakes.

    Bars will keep for one week in the refrigerator or two months in the freezer.


Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per barCalories: 150Total Fat: 10 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Sodium: 70 mg; Potassium: 140 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 12 g; Dietary fiber: 3 g; Net Carbohydrates: 9 grams; Sugar: 6 g (1 gram added sugar); Protein: 5 g


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Trans Fats: Still Hiding Out in These Foods

January 1st, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Abhinav Goswami from Pexels

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If there’s one ingredient you should consider eliminating from your diet in 2019, it’s trans fat. They are the epitome of fake ingredients, and a major contributor to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

I’ve been talking about trans fats since 2006, the year the FDA began requiring food companies to list them on their food labels. If I’m being honest, on one hand I am sick to death of the topic, while on the other, shaking my head in disbelief that I‘m still having this conversation.

 

Trans fats: The good news

The FDA set a June 2018 deadline for the removal of trans fats from all processed food.  However, this ban applies only to the addition of trans fats in the creation of any brand new products.

Unfortunately, foods already on the shelf were granted an additional “grace” year (until June 2019) before they must be officially free from trans fats.

Less than six months to go…we’re on the homestretch!  

 

How to spot trans fats in the mean time

To spot trans fats, you’ll have to look at the list of ingredients, because it is perfectly legal to label a product as zero grams if it contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Scan the list of ingredients for these other code names for trans fats: “hydrogenated oil”, “partially hydrogenated oil” and “shortening”.

While researching trans fat-containing foods for an upcoming television spot, I was surprised to discover that many companies already removed them from their products and replaced them with other fats like soybean and canola oil. Although not as big of a threat as trans fats, due to their high omega-6 content, these substitutes are still inflammatory and far from healthy. 

That’s a topic for another discussion.

To this day, products like powdered coffee creamer, hot cocoa mix, cakes, cookies, and soft tortillas still contain trans fats. Protect your health and be a savvy label-reader, because there exists no safe level of trans fat in your body.

Period.

 

The bad news: monoglycerides and diglycerides contain trans fats (and they are perfectly legal!)

 

Yes, trans fats will soon be illegal…but monoglycerides and diglycerides are perfectly legal.

Why should you care about these two ingredients and what do they have to do with trans fats?

Monoglycerides and diglycerides are considered emulsifiers, which are food additives used to help water and oil blend together. They contain small amounts of trans fat, but because they’re classified as emulsifiers (and not lipids) the FDA ban doesn’t apply to them. 

Remember what I said, there is NO safe level of trans fats in your body.

Take a stroll down the grocery aisles and you will be shocked at how many products contain mono and diglyerides. Products like:

  • Rice Krispies Treats (check out this week’s recipe pick for a homemade Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treat!
  • Peanut butter (like Jif)
  • Candy
  • Cereal bars (like Nutri-Grain bars)
  • Gum
  • Ice cream
  • Baked goods
  • Shortening (like Crisco)
  • Margarine (like Promise)

 

A no-brainer idea for avoiding trans fats and limiting other fake ingredients:

I know you know the answer, but I’ll shout it from the rooftop anyway:

EAT MORE REAL FOOD!

Listen, I don’t expect you to eat nothing but single-ingredient Earthfoods from now until eternity and never allow a processed food to pass your lips. That can quickly turn into borderline disordered eating. Ever hear of orthorexia?

The good news is, when you spend most of your grocery trip shopping the perimeter of the store, you take a giant leap towards eliminating harmful fats and other fake ingredients, as they are found mostly in processed foods housed in the inner aisles.

 

Resources to help you make better (not perfect) food choices in 2019

 

To help you kick off the New Year on the right foot, here is a short collection of the many posts I’ve written:

 

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Soren Kierkegaard, featured in my new book Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with Your Food, Body, and Health:  

 

“A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him” 
— Soren Kierkegaard 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Raw Cashews

Photo by Jenn Kosar on Unsplash

You’ve heard me ramble on about the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the inflammatory nature of omega-6 fatty acids.

In a nutshell 🙂 , although both are considered essential fatty acids, we eat far too many omega-6 fats and not nearly enough omega-3’s. Nuts are a natural source of omega-6’s and—if they were the only source we ate—wouldn’t pose a health risk (unless of course you ate a truckload!).

Sadly, nuts aren’t the main source of our omega-6 fats in the US.

Industrial vegetable and seed oils, like canola, cottonseed, corn, and soybean oil, contribute to our high consumption of omega-6’s. And in case you didn’t know, these oils are overly abundant in processed foods, like chips, crackers, cereals, and frozen meals.

Enter cashew nuts. Although not a significant source of omega-3’s, the fat in these naturally sweet nuts is predominantly oleic acid, which is the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Even better, they contain only a small amount of omega-6 fatty acids.

Yes, cashew nuts are good for you…so find a way to include them in your meals on a more regular basis. Here are some great ideas: 

  • Pop a handful for a snack or add to a homemade trail mix.
  • Whip up an easy 5-Minute Cashew Sauce and use as a replacement for heavy cream-based sauces.
  • Blend a batch of cashew cheese and spread on Flacker’s flax-based crackers! 
  • Make a simple cashew-based dairy-free cheesecake
  • Blend raw cashews in your food processors and voila…you have homemade cashew butter! Check out this week’s recipe pick for Better-4-YOU Rice Crispy Treats, made with cashew butter and raw honey instead of marshmallows!

And in case you are wondering, raw cashews are best! 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats

 

 

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Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats

January 1st, 2019 | no comments

I’m a sucker for food photos- especially on Pinterest. The original photo for this recipe caught my eye (and tastebuds) because really…who doesn’t love Rice Crispy Treats?

Hailing directly from medicalmedium.com, the only thing I changed was making my own cashew butter (which is REALLY easy and cheaper than store-bought). 

No marshmallows needed for this version, as the combination of cashew butter and raw honey makes for a beautiful substitute.

These treats are sweet, chewy, and most importantly, lacking in the inflammatory vegetables oils, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and monoglycerides (i.e. trans fats) found in the store-bought crap…and yes, it IS crap. 

Make a batch and then transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate. When the mood strikes, pull one out and enjoy with a cup of coffee!


Print Recipe


Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats

No marshmallows needed for this version, as the combination of cashew butter and raw honey makes for a beautiful substitute. These treats are sweet, chewy, and most importantly, lacking in the inflammatory vegetables oils, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and monoglycerides (i.e. trans fats) found in the store-bought junk! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥

Prep Time 10 minutes

Servings
servings


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2/3 cup raw cashew butter Add 2 cups raw cashews to your food processor and blend until it's the consistency of almond butter. Stop to scrap the sides a few times during processing. You will have a bit leftover, so store in a sealed container and use for shakes!
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 4 cups puffed brown rice cereal I used Arrowhead Mills Puffed Rice Cereal (the only ingredient is puffed whole grain brown rice)

Prep Time 10 minutes

Servings
servings


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2/3 cup raw cashew butter Add 2 cups raw cashews to your food processor and blend until it's the consistency of almond butter. Stop to scrap the sides a few times during processing. You will have a bit leftover, so store in a sealed container and use for shakes!
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 4 cups puffed brown rice cereal I used Arrowhead Mills Puffed Rice Cereal (the only ingredient is puffed whole grain brown rice)


Instructions
  1. Combine raw honey, prepared cashew butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Stir well. Add the puffed rice and mix with a spatula until combined.

  2. Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper and pour mixture into the dish. Press down with the spatula to smooth out and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Once the bars are hardened, cut into 16 squares and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.


Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 square)Calories: 110Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 40 mg; Potassium: 73 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 15 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Net Carbohydrates: 15 grams; Sugar: 8 g (8 grams added sugar from honey); Protein: 2 g


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The Power of Perception: “I choose to” vs “I have to”

December 27th, 2018 | no comments
Perception

Source: Pixabay.com

 

Plus:

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

We all want to look and feel our best, and for many, the quick fix/magic pill approach is often too tempting to pass up. Just think, in the snap of a finger…poof…they are changed.  

But even if such a pill existed, would they really be “changed”?

I’m sure you’ll agree there exists no shortage of diet plans and philosophies to help the eager beaver seeking to shed unwanted pounds at the start of the New Year.

Are you a seeker?

Well then go ahead and get it out of your system. Do a Google search for “weight loss”, and in 0.71 seconds you will be faced with 2,860,000,000 results. 

2,860,000,000 philosophies and methods for weight loss. Take your pick; no one is stopping you. 

But first, I want you to be honest with yourself—so honest it hurts: Do you believe in your gut, that this one will work? What’s changed since your last attempt? Let me rephrase that: what’s changed in YOU since your last attempt? 

Author Mike Robbins is quoted as saying: “Nothing changes until you do.” He even wrote a book with the same title. Who could argue with such a proclamation? Nothing changes until you do…really allow these words to seep into your cells. Let them swim around for a few seconds.

Now, hear this: Nothing, and I mean NO THING changes until you change your relationship with yourself. Not your:

  • weight
  • cholesterol
  • blood pressure/sugar
  • relationship with food
  • relationship with your body

 

Who are you really? It’s all about perception  

 

A healthy, loving, and grounded relationship with ourself should come naturally because after all, we’re born knowing we are in fact, the cat’s meow. Just watch a toddler toddle towards his own reflection and greet himself with a big sloppy kiss.

He knows.

He was born knowing his absolute worth and limitless power. 

As grown adults, charred from the fiery perception of our own internal dragons, we have to work at polishing the window out of which we take in the world. And the good news? In any given moment, you can challenge these dragons and shift your perception—widen your internal eyes, take a look around and envelope yourself in the infinite source of greatness that is patiently waiting for you.

William Blake, an English poet of the Romantic age said:

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

 

Food choices and perception  

 

I believe all food choices are snap decisions. 

Think about it. Even if you have a healthy meal planned in advance, with all of the ingredients in your refrigerator—or better yet, the entire meal prepared for you (as in the case of restaurant dining)—the decision to actually eat/order that meal is made in a literal flash of an instant. 

Whether or not you make the right choice for you and your health is again, rooted in perception. Namely, how do you perceive the choice? Is it something you feel you have to do or are you choosing to do it?

They may seem one in the same, but I can assure you the difference is quite profound.

Some may even argue that in certain situations, they are the same. For example: I’m choosing to order the salmon instead of the bacon cheeseburger. I have to because my cholesterol is high.

This is an example of making what seems like the right decision, but with the wrong perception. 

Unless someone is pointing a gun at your head, you don’t have to do anything. “Have to” implies you have no choice in the matter. And we all know what happens when the power of choice (especially when it comes to food) is stripped from us. It’s a dangerous space to linger and the premise of most diets out there.

Decisions made with a have to mentality (i.e. I have to drink this kale smoothie) almost guarantee your car will drive itself to KFC for a bucket of ‘finger lickin good’.

Let me repeat: You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to:

  • go to work
  • eat kale
  • pay your taxes
  • exercise
  • drink water instead of soda

You choose to do them…or not. It’s your choice in the end.   

 

Snap decisions and a moment of presence  

 

You have but a flash of a second to decide how you will perceive what is before you:

“I have to” or “I choose to”.

But within that flash of a second, there exists a small space available to you—the space of presence. You’ve heard me talk about this before. It’s the space you can access with the ease of a single, conscious breath. I go into great detail on this topic in my new book, Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with Your Food, Body and Health.

As illustrated in the Path to Peace image below, the center Peace that governs the remaining ten Peaces, is: Seek No Further. You have all of the answers already within, simply take a breath, tap in, and allow yourself to be fully present for the choice you are about to make. 

Perception

“Path to Peace” illustrating the eleven Missing Peaces

 

Lest you think this is some sort of airy-fairy, kumbaya, mumbo jumbo concept, think again. This is where the real work begins. It’s where the smart folks go when, after exhausting their dieting Rolodex, they come to the realization that they are the answer they’ve been seeking.   

 

Perception is essential…because Cinnabons aren’t going away anytime soon   

 

There will always be cheese pizza, Jack Frost Donuts, French fries, and Cinnabons. Let’s face it, they aren’t going anywhere. Short of living in exile on a remote island off the coast of South Africa, like it or not, if you want to achieve a healthy balance of mind and body, you’re going to have to learn how to coexist peacefully with these foods. 

One thing’s for damn sure, the next time you are faced with your kryponite food, the one that makes you weak in the knees, remember—the diet isn’t going to save you. It won’t help you make the right choice. In fact, it’ll only add fuel to your fire of desire for the very food you are trying to avoid. 

The only thing that will save you, is a shift in perception exercised in a moment of presence. 

By taking a single, sweet, conscious breath, you are able to tap into a strength that will blow your mind. 

Let’s have some fun and role play so that you can understand how to apply this to real-life situations. 

Scenario #1: The airport Cinnabon

You’re at the airport, starving and face-to-face with the Cinnabon counter. The smell is absolutely intoxicating and you can already taste the warm fluffy frosting blanketing that infamous, tender cinnamon dough. 

You have two choices: eat it…or not.

Here’s what not to do…

Do NOT get into the all-too-familiar internal dialogue of: I really shouldn’t. I mean, I have so much weight to lose and this will just put me over the edge. I have to walk away. Cinnabons are off limits!

Even though you may not indeed order the Cinnabon, you will find a way to sabotage yourself in the very near future. This I can absolutely guarantee. 

Exercise a shift in perception:

Faced with the Cinnabon counter, take a slow and deep breath, get present and shift to something like this: Even though I have 100% freedom to eat that Cinnabon, I choose to find something that will nourish my body instead. Cinnabon will always be there if I really want one.

Scenario #2: The bread basket

It’s 6:00 and your last meal was a noon lunch, so it’s fair to say you have a pretty loud level of hunger going on. You and the family just sat down at your favorite neighborhood restaurant and you mindfully order the grilled salmon with veggies and a club soda with a twist of lime.

The server brings your drink, along with a basket of hot-from-the-oven French bread. Everyone grabs a hunk and in unison, slathers their piece with butter…as you sit drooling. You promised yourself no bread because your blood sugar has been elevated and bread always causes it to skyrocket. 

History reveals you’ve never been able to resist the bread.

That’s the problem…you were resisting it, which as I stated earlier, only adds fuel to your fire of desire for the bread. 

Exercise a shift in perception:

Faced with the bread basket, take a long, slow, deep breath in and let it out. Observe the bread, get present, and shift: Even though I have 100% freedom to eat this bread, I choose to wait for my dinner instead. Bread will always be there, and I can have a slice any time I choose. 

Scenario #3: The second glass of wine

You’re out with the girls enjoying a happy hour glass of cheer. Everyone orders a second drink.

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a second glass of wine will catapult you into FLC (feel-like-crap) land come tomorrow morning. The second glass ALWAYS makes you feel like crap. You promised yourself you’d stick to a one drink maximum and now the pressure’s on, as your beloved girlfriends are cheering you on:  “oh come on…it’s just one more glass!” (don’t you just hate when they do that?). 

Exercise a shift in perception:

Faced with the decision to order a glass of water or another glass of wine, take a deep breath in and let it out. Get present and shift: Even though I have 100% freedom to order another drink, I choose to sip on water instead. Wine will always be there.

You can do this if you really want to. Remember, no one is taking anything away from you.

Have fun and make a game out of it! Don’t count the number of times you made the wrong choice, rather relish in the bliss of the one you made in a space of presence, while staying true to yourself. 

Perception is everything.

Happy 2019 my love! xo

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Greens: the most nutritious food on the planet!

Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels

A nutrient-dense food is one that is high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. These are the foods that seriously nourish your body at the cellular level. They replenish, repair, and dare I say…heal like no other food.

It’s no surprise that fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious foods available, with berries being the most nutrient-dense fruit and greens, the most nutrient-dense vegetable. This is precisely why I strongly encourage my clients to include these powerful gems in their meals on a daily basis. 

Because they are the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, greens are in a class all by themselves. They are highly detoxifying due to their abundance of chlorophyll and bioavailable vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Bioavailability simply means the degree to which a food can be absorbed by your body. 

Greens are so much more than just spinach and kale. Check out this long list of goodness: 

  • Arugula
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Mesclun
  • Microgreens
  • Mustard greens
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress

Although they are super nutritious, greens tend to trip us up! What can we do with them besides toss them in a bowl with some dressing? Try adding them to: omelets, smoothies, tacos, soups, stews, sauces, and quinoa or rice dishes. You can even include them as a pizza topping or use them as a wrap for your favorite sandwich contents.

For a perfect soup to warm your body and soul on those cold winter nights, check out this week’s recipe pick for Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup. It’s loaded with greens, greens, and more greens!  

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup

 

 

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Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup

December 27th, 2018 | no comments

I have to admit, “chard soup” didn’t sound very appetizing to me, but I love beans and the original recipe from foodnetwork.com looked so simple I had to give it a try. Plus…I’m always on the hunt for ways to add more greens to my meals.

This soup is delicious and so easy to make—it’s literally on the table in less than 30 minutes! And like most soups, it stores very well in the refrigerator (and even improves in flavor as it sits) and freezer. 

The greens and beans push the potassium over the top, with 1475 mg per serving! That’s almost half of your daily requirement for potassium in one little bowl.

Potassium is a key supporter of cardiovascular health and bone and muscle strength. And because it blunts the effects of excess sodium, potassium is also a major player in managing healthy blood pressure.


Print Recipe


Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup

The greens and beans push the potassium over the top, with 1475 mg per serving! That's almost half of your daily requirement for potassium in one little bowl. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes or less

Servings
servings


Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced To save time (and tears) purchase pre-diced onions in the Produce department!
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2-15.5 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock
  • 1-12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced Use bottled minced garlic to save time
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes or less

Servings
servings


Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced To save time (and tears) purchase pre-diced onions in the Produce department!
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2-15.5 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock
  • 1-12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced Use bottled minced garlic to save time
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • fresh ground pepper to taste


Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and salt and cook until the vegetables are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth, bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the roasted peppers and minced garlic and cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chard, cover and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the pot and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with fresh ground pepper.


Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 320Total Fat: 10 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Sodium: 1050 mg; Potassium: 1475 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 45 g; Dietary fiber: 11 g; Net Carbohydrates: 34 grams; Sugar: 6 g (0 grams added sugar); Protein: 15 g


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Watching This Movie Will Change the Course of Your Life

December 20th, 2018 | no comments

“Finding Joe”

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If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I am passionate about so many things (i.e. guilt-free eating, gut health, meditation, Peace of Health shakes, high quality chocolate, almond butter, Jack Frost Donuts, cats, and…cats).

And in case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely LOVE sharing this passion with you.

 

Meet Joseph Campbell

 

Not long ago, I stumbled upon the works of a brilliant gentleman named Joseph Campbell, a life-long student and teacher of the human spirit and mythology. He coined the statement “Follow Your Bliss”, which, according to The Campbell Foundation:

 

Isn’t merely a matter of doing whatever you like, and certainly not doing simply as you are told. It is a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.”

 

According to Campbell:

 

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

 

Finding your bliss

 

My personal bliss is helping individuals cultivate their mind and heal their relationship with food and the deeper part of themselves, so that they can step into the health that is waiting for them. I hope this comes through clearly in my weekly posts.

How do I know this is my bliss? Because when I’m engaged in any aspect of it, I feel alive, on fire, positively electric, and full of possibility. Hours can go by in the blink of an eye!

Part of living this bliss was writing my book, Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with your Food, Body and Health. This book was begging to be written and I simply couldn’t rest until it was. To accomplish this, I rearranged my bedtime so that I could wake up at 3:00 every morning and write before going to work, until my manuscript was complete. In other words…I found a way to get it done because it meant fulfilling that burning desire within.

 

What is your personal bliss?

 

Are you living your personal bliss?

Or perhaps you aren’t even sure where to look.

Keep in mind, your bliss doesn’t have to be an earth-rocking thing. It could be as simple as tutoring a child in math. If that rocks your personal world…that’s your bliss. If you would do it even if you weren’t paid…that’s another sign.

It’s my belief that we all have our own personal bliss; we’re just too busy listening to everyone but ourselves and wondering/worrying what “they” will think. If you ask me, life is too damn short not to find and follow your bliss. So get quiet and listen…I promise it’s there, just waiting for you to tap in.

 

I don’t ask much of you, do I? Well, I am pretty insistent on one thing this holiday season…

 

I insist that you take 80 minutes out of your day sometime BEFORE January 1st, to watch the documentary Finding Joe.  Watch it with your family…or alone. Just watch it!

Access it HERE for free.

In the early 20th century, while studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell discovered a pattern hidden in every story ever told and he called it “the hero’s journey”. A truly inspirational film, Finding Joe takes you on the ultimate hero’s journey: the journey of self-discovery. As you slay dragons and uncover treasures, you just may find that the Holy Grail you seek is closer than you think.

The bedrock of this movie is one of Campbell’s most famous quotes:

 

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls”

 

This explains why, when I am truly following my bliss, things just seem to work out for me (and it can for you too!):

  • I meet the right people.
  • I get the best ideas.
  • People react differently towards me (in a good way…really!)

 

 I suppose what really happens when we follow our bliss, is we make a connection with that deeper part of ourselves. The part that is bliss…and peace.

 

The most important question you can ask yourself is…

 

At this moment, do I have any regrets?

When you meet with your final day on this earthly plane, don’t you want to be free from regret? Of course! At the risk of sounding bold—you could meet with death this evening. Yes, you could.

 

The time to banish regret is now.

 

Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, was a palliative care nurse who spent many hours with patients in their final days of life.

As you can imagine, she had some pretty heartfelt conversations with these individuals, and out of them came her book. According to Ware, the number one regret of those on their deathbed was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

 

Think about that for a minute. Then follow that “thing” that lights you up…without any regard for what “they” will think. It won’t matter in the end.

 

Merry Christmas.

 

I love you!

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Cayenne Pepper

 

When you think of cayenne pepper, images of red hot fire may come to mind. 

The extreme spiciness of cayenne is due to its high concentration of capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers. But cayenne is so much more than just a zesty flavor-enhancer. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin, there are some serious health benefits baked inside of this red bombshell, including:

  • Heart health promotion
  • Relief from nasal congestion
  • Ulcer prevention
  • Increased fat burning potential (called thermogenesis)
  • Sore throat relief

To make your own Homemade Sore Throat Syrup, combine: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1 tablespoon Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar + 2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon raw honey. 

Cayenne pepper can be used dried or fresh. I like the convenience of dried cayenne myself, especially when added to my hot cocoa. See this week’s recipe pick below for Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa

December 19th, 2018 | no comments

 

This cocoa recipe is a quadruple-whammy of goodness: 

  • Chocolate Bone Broth Protein: gut health and immune system support; joint protection; healthy metabolism and skin!
  • Cacao powder: antioxidants + magnesium (good for relaxation and blood sugar control)
  • Cayenne pepper: capsaicin (the active component of chili peppers) which aids in: metabolism, blood sugar control, digestive health, appetite control, and pain relief
  • Cinnamon: blood sugar control

My favorite part of this hot cocoa? You don’t even need marshmallows because the abundance of collagen in the Chocolate Bone Broth Protein forms a nice sweet frothy layer upon blending.

Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa is ideal for diabetics, as the net carbohydrates are a mere 4 grams and the protein…wait for it… as much as a 3-ounce chicken breast! There’s also plenty of healthy fat for added blood sugar control!


Print Recipe


Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa

This cocoa recipe is a quadruple-whammy of goodness: Chocolate Bone Broth Protein, cacao powder, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa is ideal for diabetics, as the net carbohydrates are a mere 4 grams and protein, as much as a 3-ounce chicken breast! There's also plenty of healthy fat for added blood sugar control. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥

Cook Time 5 minutes or less

Servings
serving


Ingredients
  • 12 ounces unsweetened plant-based milk, heated until barely simmering I like So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Bone Broth Protein
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. cacao powder I like Navitas cacao powder
  • 1-2 dashes (depending on how hot you like it!) cayenne pepper I like Simply Organic Cayenne

Cook Time 5 minutes or less

Servings
serving


Ingredients
  • 12 ounces unsweetened plant-based milk, heated until barely simmering I like So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Bone Broth Protein
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. cacao powder I like Navitas cacao powder
  • 1-2 dashes (depending on how hot you like it!) cayenne pepper I like Simply Organic Cayenne


Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to your blender and blend for 10-15 seconds. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 185Total Fat: 8 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Sodium: 150 mg; Potassium: 430 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 8 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 4 grams; Sugar: 1 g (0 grams added sugar); Protein: 21 g


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5 Benefits of Bone Broth and How to Use It

December 12th, 2018 | no comments

Photo by Henrique Félix on Unsplash

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What’s all this talk about bone broth lately? Is it really all that it’s cracked up to be?

Actually…yes!

Growing up, my grandmother made bone broth on a regular basis and to this day, my mother can still be found simmering up a large pot of chicken bone broth as a base for her famous chicken soup. Turns out, they really did know what was good for me! 🙂

What exactly is bone broth?

Bone broth is a beneficial “elixir” made from simmered animal bones. It can be made using bones from cows, elk, lamb, bison, venison, chicken, duck ( I just have to add another “duck” here 🙂 ), goose, turkey or fish.

To prepare a batch of bone broth, bones are simmered for several hours and often mixed with vegetables, herbs and spices. To liberate key minerals, an acidic liquid (like apple cider vinegar) is also added.

Five benefits of bone broth

Before turning your nose up, you may want to check out bone broth’s impressive, health-rocking resume.

Joint protection:

Bone broth offers collagen, gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin, all healing compounds to restore bone and joint health.

Gut health and immune system support:

The importance of a healthy microbiome—the collection of microorganisms in the human body—cannot be overstated. The abundance of gelatin in bone broth helps restore the strength of the gut lining, which is beneficial in preventing leaky gut syndrome. 

Leaky gut occurs when undigested particles from foods seep through tiny openings in the weakened intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream, where the immune system detects them and becomes hyperactive.

Gelatin also helps with the growth of good bacteria, fights food sensitivities and supports healthy inflammation levels in the digestive tract.

Youthful skin: 

Collagen forms elastin, which is responsible for decreasing the visible signs of wrinkles and cellulite. Bonus!

Boosts detoxification: 

Bone broth is considered a powerful detoxification agent. It helps the digestive system expel waste, promotes the liver’s ability to remove toxins, helps maintain tissue integrity, and improves the body’s use of antioxidants.

Aids the metabolism: 

Glutamine (an amino acid) and glutathione (an antioxidant) help to support a healthy metabolism. Lucky for you, bone broth is an easy way to obtain both!

Forms of bone broth for meal planning

Most grocery stores offer bone broth in at least one form. I’ve seen it frozen, shelf stable, and dehydrated. Of course you could always choose to make your own, which will save you quite a bit of money, especially if you plan to include it as a regular part of your self-care routine.

  1. Homemade bone broth: to make your own, check out this recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth. Note: The author also offers a recipe for making bone broth in a pressure cooker, which cuts down on time. Homemade bone broth keeps well in the refrigerator for five days and several months in the freezer.
  2. Frozen bone broth: made in small batches, frozen bone broth is a convenient way to include this healing elixir into your daily routine. The following brands contain no preservatives, stabilizers or flavorings: Bonafide Provisions Organic Beef or Chicken Bone Broth; Erie Bone Broth (bison, turkey, elk, chicken, and beef varieties).
  3. Shelf-stable liquid bone broth: Kettle & Fire Beef or Chicken Bone Broth and Epic Bone Broth (beef, bison, chicken, and turkey varieties) are two quality brands that use no preservatives, stabilizers or flavorings.
  4. Dehydrated bone broth: Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein is bone broth in dehydrated form, making it super convenient for you to enjoy the benefits anytime, anywhere. It comes in several flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, coffee, turmeric, and my favorite, pure (plain). When mixed with 12 ounces of liquid, one scoop is the equivalent of one and a half cups of bone broth. 

Bone broth recommendations

To enjoy the ongoing benefits of bone broth, it’s recommended to incorporate at least one, 8-ounce cup/mug of bone broth into your daily routine.

You can sip on a mug of warm bone broth once or twice a day, or if you like the convenience of powdered bone broth, check out this week’s product pick below for ideas on how to incorporate Bone Broth Protein into your daily meals.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein

Bone Broth Protein begins as a true bone broth liquid. It is then dehydrated into powdered form, making it a convenient way to incorporate this healing elixir into your everyday meals and snacks.

  • Blend a scoop of chocolate or vanilla Bone Broth Protein in your daily shake. For a real boost to your microbiome, add it to my Gut-Loving Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake.
  • Make your own food bars. Try this recipe for Blueberry Macadamia Bars!
  • Use Pure Bone Broth Protein as a replacement for bone broth in crockpot or soup recipes.
  • Mix Pure Bone Broth Protein into rice and quinoa dishes.
  • Add to muffin, pancake, bread, and cookie recipes. Check out this week’s recipe pick for No-Bake Cinnamon Cashew Cookie Bars!
  • For a pre or post workout snack, add a scoop of chocolate or vanilla Bone Broth Protein to unsweetened almond or coconut milk, shake, and enjoy with a piece of fruit. 
  • Stir one scoop of chocolate Bone Broth Protein into 8 ounces of hot plant-based milk for an amazing hot cocoa experience! Tip: To make it nice and frothy, add the ingredients to your blender and blend for 10 seconds. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Looking for more ideas on how to use dehydrated bone broth? Here is a great list of: 101 Bone Broth Protein Recipes!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
No-Bake Cinnamon Cashew Cookie Bars

 

 

 

 

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