Chocolate – It’s a Hard Habit to Break

Our society has a serious chocolate addiction, to the tune of eleven pounds per person per year. (2.8 billion pounds in the US alone.)

We eat it for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, and any other celebration we can think of. And if we can’t think of one, we eat it anyway, just for the sheer joy of it. (I know I do.)


Chocolate has many health benefits. Like these:

– It is an antioxidant, which basically means it can prevent, or at least slow down, damage to the cells.
– It can improve blood pressure.
– It improves our mood (just looking at it makes me happy).
– It helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

Knowing all these benefits encourages me to eat this treat daily. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am allergic to two main ingredients in most chocolate bars: sugar, and milk.

While neither sugar (in moderation) or milk (also in moderation) are probably not going to kill you, they have become popular ingredients added to many of our foods. It’s crazy. Just check out boxes in the cereal aisle, gum, candy (obviously), processed soups, and frozen foods. Milk and sugar are over-used, and over-processed, and have become an allergen for many people.

To top it off, the chocolate in most bars isn’t always the highest quality, and sometimes a few extra (unhealthy) ingredients are tossed in for good measure.

So, what we do when all we want is chocolate that is great tasting, and healthy for us as well? Why, we make it, of course.

In the book “Nourishing Traditions,” by Sally Fallon, I found a simple recipe for fudge. Believe me, once you eat this, you will never want a store-bought bar again.

THE RECIPE:

In a large bowl, mix:

1 cup melted real butter or coconut oil. I know, fat, right? But (healthy) fat is necessary for our brains to keep their thinking power, and our bodies to work in the amazing way they do. Butter has vitamins D, E, K, and A, and also protects against tooth decay. Coconut oil (which is what I use), prevents high blood pressure and heart disease, reduces inflammation, and improves energy. The way I eat this stuff, I should never have an ounce of inflammation in my body.

1 cup raw, organic cocoa.

1 cup raw, organic honey. (Since I don’t eat cane sugar, I am sensitive to anything sweet, so I do closer to 1/2 cup – but that’s your call).

Mix well before pouring into a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper. Place in freezer. (Note – This bar needs to be kept frozen, or all you’ll have is a pile of chocolate goo. Still tasty, but a lot messier.)

*You can also add shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, macadamias, or even cocoa nibs. A sprinkle of sea salt on the top is a yummy touch. Oh, and I love a dash of cinnamon in mine.

That’s it! Healthy fudgy goodness. And it’s good for you, too!

Side notes: There are 48 teaspoons of sugar in one cup of honey. If you cut the chocolate into 48 bars, each one has one teaspoon. Depending on which site you read, we shouldn’t eat more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day (the lower being for women or those who consume less calories, the higher for men). That doesn’t mean you should eat 6-9 of these, it means take it into consideration when adding this treat to your daily diet.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make this tasty treat, and what additions you added.

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Inspirational Quotes to Change Your Life

I love quotes, especially those found in movies where you don’t expect them. Today’s post is a list of quotes to inspire and motivate. (And probably make you want to watch a movie or two.) Enjoy.

“Activity suggests a life filled with purpose.” – The Sound of Music; One of my favorite movies. One of my favorite lines. Our world tells us we must always be busy. Busy is what makes us important. This quote reminds me it’s okay to slow down.

“The things you used to own, they now own you.” – Fight Club; Possessions take money, time, and our lives. Think about what you own, and what you really need.

“Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away.” – Hitch; Still love this quote. It makes me think how important every moment of our life is. Enjoy each one.

“I figure life’s a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it.”– Titanic;
You only have one life. Live it to the fullest.

“I guess you never know if the last time you see someone is going to be the last time you ever see someone.” – A Thousand Words;
If you haven’t seen this movie, you seriously need to. You will think twice about your words, and about life.

“Why are you trying so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out?” – What a Girl Wants; Always be who you are.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole.” – It’s a Wonderful Life;
I think we forget how our life impacts so many others. Every smile, every touch, every deed, affects another being.

“When something is too hard, there is always another way.” – Finding Dory; I like the hard. It inspires me to keep going. It inspires me to look beyond the obvious, and use my imagination.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off;
I’ve never seen this movie, and don’t intend to. However, I like this quote. Life moves way too fast. Sometimes we just need to slow down and enjoy the moment.

“The past can hurt. You can either run from it, or learn from it.” – The Lion King; No doubt, we all have hurts. We can let them pull us down, or we can use them to build ourselves up. Not saying it’s easy, but sometimes life gives us hurts to teach us. And sometimes, I think it’s the very hurts that make us stronger.

“You can’t live your life for other people.” – The Notebook; It’s true. I’ve tried. You can’t dress how others want you to, have the career others choose, decorate your home, drive a car, or live a life for anyone else. You were created to be unique.

“It’s what you do right now that makes a difference.” – Black Hawk Down; Everything you do matters. I’m learning this more and more. I can waste time, or use my time well. What I do this moment can change my whole future.

Hope this finds you inspired! What movie will you be watching tonight? Any great quotes to share?

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Simple Tricks to a Healthier You

In this modern world of technology and medical advancement, staying healthy should be easier than ever before. But the fact is, the health of our world is declining. We are facing epidemics never seen, rising at alarming rates in both adults and children: Autism, obesity, diabetes, and cancers, to name but a few.

There are many factors on which we can place the blame: GMOs, processed foods, food colorings, an overabundance of vaccines, overuse of antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, pollution, pesticides and herbicides, and the list goes on.

It sometimes feels as if we are doomed. Because, let’s face it, when it comes to what is sold in the marketplace, what is placed on crops, and what is given to society, it seems as if we don’t have a lot of say. Much of the control is placed in the hands of large corporations.

But believe it or not, corporations listen. They hear what you say every time you go to the store. When we buy foods with pesticides, we tell them it is okay. When we purchase a quick meal laced with food colorings and additives we can’t pronounce, we are giving them the go-ahead to make more.

It’s true that sometimes no matter what we do, no matter how healthy we eat or how great of shape we are in, we can still get sick. It is an imperfect world, after all. But while we’re on this earth, shouldn’t we do our best to take care of ourselves? If not for us, then for the ones who follow.

I encourage you to do one thing to change your health. To better the world. To make the world a better place for future generations.

You don’t have to do it all. Pick one, and see the changes in your health.

Pick One:

~ Buy organic. If you can’t purchase all organic, purchase produce from the Dirty Dozen.

~ Stop buying pre-made frozen meals and meals in a can.

~ Don’t buy factory-farm meat.

~ Don’t buy soda.

~ Refuse anything with food colorings and multiple (unknown) ingredients. (Thankfully, some of the problems with food colorings are getting cleaned up, and now more colorings are natural-based, such as beets being used for the color red.)

Pick one. Change your health. Your body will thank you.

I’d love to hear about the changes you are making for better health. Leave me a note below.

Have a simply lovely, and healthy, day!

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How Letting Go of Worry Made Me Courageous, and a Survivor

I come from a line of strong women, who faced courageous battles like single parenthood, and cancer. But the biggest battle I’d ever seen fought by a woman in our family, was the one my grandma fought nearly every day of her life.

Grandma was struck with polio at the age of eleven. Even though she never had use of her legs, she managed to have a great life. She celebrated childhood (from what I’ve been told), married, raised five children, and helped raise me.

Grandma was strength and courage, resilience and grace. She could bake, cook, pull herself across a floor, and even swim the length of a pool. Her physical abilities never ceased to amaze me. But what amazed me more than her powerful arms was her ability to stay courageous in the face of danger.

One summer day, my dad took our family on a drive. We stopped at a park, and as I played on the swings, my grandma sat in the front seat of the car, door open wide, legs dangling in the sun.

A large German shepherd bounded across the grass, headed straight towards Grandma. It was too late for her to lift her legs and pull the door closed. The German shepherd was upon her, grabbing her flesh between his teeth.

I remember Grandma’s face right before that bite, how surprised she looked. Surprised, but never scared.

Grandma’s courage showed up again a few years later. While my mom and dad were out for the night, wild winds blew through our small town. Hail pounded on the roof. The sky turned green.

I clung to Grandma’s fleshy arm as she held my little brother in her lap. I began to sob. “I’m scared,” I said.

“There’s nothing to worry about. This, too, will pass.” Grandma said in a calm, even tone.

The storm increased in intensity. Winds blew harder. Branches snapped. The lights went out. Grandma picked up a pillow and handed it to me.

“Take your brother to the basement,” she said.

I knew Grandma couldn’t go with us. Her legs couldn’t carry her, and I couldn’t help. But I also knew I could never leave her alone.

I looked into her deep, dark eyes, the ones that matched my own. She was brave and strong, nothing like me. But she was everything I wanted to be. I stood up tall, and for the first time, I defied her. “I’m staying with you,” I said.

She smiled, and pulled me close. I stood next to the wheelchair, arms wrapped around her neck, my brother’s head close to her chest. She sang and told stories as the storm whipped around us. The storm damaged a lot that night, but inside, we were safe, secure, in the arms of a grandma.

Grandma passed many years ago. I was with her as she took her last breath. As her eyes closed for the very last time, they met mine, and inside, I swear she held a secret.

I’d always wondered about her secret, how she stayed so strong, how she always seemed brave, and wondered why I couldn’t be the same way. I’d never asked her, and she never told me. I think it was one of those life lessons she wanted me to learn. One day I would.

Over the years, I faced many battles. Threatened with cancer, and been the victim of a brain injury. Because of my grandma, I am here. Because of her secrets.

I looked for those secrets for a long time, tried to find strength and courage, but it wasn’t until I had a brain injury that it began to make sense.

The injury caused me to worry, more than I ever had. I used to worry about others, but after the accident, I worried about me. I worried about never getting better, and getting better but not being the same. I worried about being reinjured, about my brain failing, and pains that never went away. I worried about every little scratch and ding on my body.

One day, in the throes of worry, I realized something. Worrying wasn’t making me better. In fact, it seemed to be making me worse. Over time, I began to let go of worry.

A funny thing happened as worry went away. I became stronger. And when I got stronger, confidence arrived. With confidence came less fear, and with less fear, I found courage.

And then I got it.

Courage wasn’t about fear. Courage was about not worrying. Courage was faith. And faith was something Grandma always had.

I guess Grandma had to learn a lot about faith when she was little, when a disease removed the use of her legs. She learned to trust others when she was carried from a burning building, and learned to have faith when wheeled across a busy street. Because she had faith, she didn’t worry, and because she didn’t worry, she was strong and courageous.

Worry was pointless. It was better to be brave.

Because of my grandma, I am here today. No longer a victim, only a survivor. I have let go of worry, and I can tell you, it has truly let go of me.

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The Uncomfortable Side of Minimalism

Minimalism can be uncomfortable, especially at first. It isn’t easy letting go of stuff you love, like a special dress worn to a wedding, or a framed photo that once graced a wall.

I’ve had many uncomfortable moments since I started exploring minimalism. Like the day I decided to sort through my children’s old cards.

I pulled out the suitcase stuffed beneath the guest room bed. Piles of cards, tied together in silk ribbons, were placed inside. In another little box were necklaces, pins, and magnets, created and glued by little hands.

I hadn’t seen these items in years, and had, in fact, forgotten I had them. That day as I sifted through the cards, I got a funny kind of twinge in my stomach, that combination of guilt, nostalgia, and letting go, the kind of twinge only a parent understands.

Papers with scribblings and misspelled words, pictures of a child’s interpretation of what a mom and dad look like. Tiny wooden magnets colored with crayon. Plastic beaded necklaces on a string. Memories of childhood, of little ones now grown.

I sifted through the cards, one by one reminded of when my children were little. I couldn’t throw them away, at least not all of them. A few cards were dropped in the recycling bin, the rest placed back in the suitcase. I cried. What if my memories disappeared with the cards? But that’s not what happened.

Memories flooded back, one after another, and not one of them was related to the stuff inside that suitcase. I remembered Christmas programs, a shy boy in front of a microphone; I recalled a son with grasshoppers in his backpack, and how he proudly displayed them to me when he got home from school; camping trips, and tiny feet learning to walk; memories I thought were long gone.

A month later, a few more cards were placed in the bin. And once again, tears were shed. But like before, memories came tumbling back.

The more I let go, the stronger my memories became. It’s as if they’d been stuffed inside a suitcase. I guess I’d relied on my stuff to create my memories, when truth is, my memories were inside in me all along.

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