Jen's Pumpkin Seed Tart Cherry Power Mix

Sometimes the Best Things Come Out of the Hardest of Times!

For me, the last seven years have been dedicated to restoring my health, transforming my life, healing my marriage, and building my online Functional Health consulting and Transformational Coaching practice. This was a monumental undertaking and left me with little to no energy, desire, or wherewithal for much else — including celebrating holidays.

I used to be very into Christmas. My whole family was. Gifts. Frequent gatherings. Driving here and there. Lots of food. The whole nine yards! I would also send out holiday cards with a yearly update report on the happenings in our life over that past year. But when my life hit the skids in 2012, this all came to a dead stop.

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Back in Action!

This year was the first year since then that I had both the energy and desire to get back into the holiday spirit. In celebration of this, I decided to send out a letter providing a summary of our lives over the last seven years, a photo collage card, and a large jar of the homemade trail mix blend I had recently made up during an evening of kitchen shenanigans. I sent out 35 packages!

Before beginning this project, I thought it would be no big deal. It turned out to be quite the undertaking. It was well worth though because it was a big success with all — which made me happy. People are still raving about this trail mix, and many have requested the recipe — which served as the inspiration for this post.

So, here it is! It is super simple to make, nutrient-dense, and packed with flavor. I hope you love it as much as we and everyone else did.

How To Make It!

Note: I don't give quantities. Use your best judgment and go with what looks and tastes the best to you. This is how I usually role in the kitchen.

Organic, raw, and unsalted pumpkin seeds tossed in unflavored coconut oil, cinnamon, and a small amount of coconut sugar then roasted in the oven at 350 degrees until lightly brown.

At this point, add raw, organic cocoa nibs and dried coconut flakes and roast for another few minutes only - until everything is light golden brown.

Set outside to cool and then add organic, dried and unsweetened tart Montmorency cherries and dried, organic cranberries.

12 Guiding Principles For Healthy Eating!

Eating Habits Are Deeply Ingrained & Hard To Shift!

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Welcome to the Healthy Eats Blog! The idea for this blog has been simmering in my mind for a long time now. It was inspired by my long journey to recover my health and life from the grips of often disabling chronic health challenges that began when I was 26 years old.

In this quest, it took me many years to truly understand and embrace that what, how, and when we eat all play a pivotal role in determining our health, our ability to recover from illness, our outlook, and the quality of our life.

Eating habits are deeply ingrained in all of us and often very difficult to shift. They are largely influenced by our upbringings, past and current family dynamics, our perception of ourselves and the world, how we reward (or punish) ourselves, our ways of coping with stress, our level of knowledge of nutrition, and so much more. Once eating habits and beliefs around food have been firmly established, shifting them is often a seemingly impossible task most, even when doing so is essential for recovering or improving one’s health and life.

A Pill For Every Ill!

Furthermore, to complicate matters, our current medical paradigm was created around crisis care versus dis-ease prevention and reversal. As a result, when people become unwell and head to their doctor, especially with chronic disease, they are likely to be handed “a pill for their ills” instead of provided with support around diet and lifestyle interventions.

I was no exception! I did not take dedicated measures to begin learning about nutrition and how to use food medicine until nearly a decade into suffering from widespread chronic health issues. Before this, I kept searching for the one reason why I was sick and the one medication or treatment that was going to “fix” me. I never did find it!

Since stepping into the world of holistic healing and becoming a Functional Health practitioner, I have and continue to gain a greater understanding and immense respect for the role that diet plays in all aspects of our health and life. It is one of the most fundamental pillars of health and wellness.

While my ever-evolving journey with food as medicine continues to award me with wisdom around nutrition and pave the path for me to become one heck of a healthy-cooking chef, it also helped me to realize the many challenges involved in shifting one’s perspective on food and adopting healthy eating lifestyle habits.

Eating Habits Matter BIG Time!

I now want to share the knowledge I have gained with the intention of it serving as a framework for others on their journey to eat for optimal health and wellness.

What we eat heavily influences how we look and feel, how well we sleep, whether or not we freak out or remain calm amidst life’s challenges, how we relate to ourselves and others, our sex drive, and our daily habits. Our daily habits largely dictate the outcomes we experience. Our state of mind and the setting in which we eat are determinants in how well our body converts the foods we consume into useable nutrients for our cells. All of these together play a considerable role in our ability to live a happy, healthy, and meaningful life.

I believe most people are aware of the importance of nutrition, but we all struggle to varying degrees in the area of healthy eating because it requires the wherewithal to learn about nutrition, make it a priority, and willingness and readiness to shift eating habits — which as previously discussed, is complicated.

This can undoubtedly be overwhelming, I know. While my husband and I have finally found our groove when it comes to nutritious living, we are not without challenges, and there were many obstacles to overcome on the road to get here.

The Convenience Factor Often Takes Over!

In today’s fast-paced culture, wherein most households both spouses have demanding careers, there is often limited time and energy left for healthy, home cooking.

This leaves many opting for the quickest and most convenient meal options; of which usually translates to choosing carry-out and processed meals more often than home-cooked, whole-food, and nutrient-dense ones. This epidemic is playing out in the form of widespread, lifestyle-driven obesity and chronic dis-ease.

In light of this, this blog is dedicated to providing practical strategies for weaving nutritional healing into one’s daily life. It will not serve as a list of exact recipes but instead be a collection of short vignettes, told from my kitchen to yours, that depict simple, healthy, and tasty meal ideas. It will also provide tips and strategies for weaving healthy eating into your lifestyle with the least amount of overwhelm as possible.

In sharing excerpts from my ever-evolving nutritional journey with you, please know that I am not in support or against any dietary theory. We all have unique nutritional needs and belief systems, and therefore the diet that will best support you is the one that best promotes your physical and mental health as well as aligns with your worldview.

Though, sometimes the diet that best supports one’s worldview is not always the one that best supports one’s physical and emotional health. If your health is not optimal and you resist exploring new ways of eating due to an underlying belief system, I encourage you to explore that belief system.

My 12 Guiding Principles of Healthy Eating!

The diet that I have landed on that allows me to feel my best and is in alignment with my core values is a grain-free, paleo-based one that emphasizes liberal portions of vegetables, fruits (in moderation), ample healthy fats, and moderate animal protein that is proven to be raised organically, humanely, grass-fed, and/or free-range. Once again, I not for or against any way of eating. I am all about bio-individuality, and I respect everyone’s choices. I ask the same in return.

I hope you find the tales I tell of my ever-evolving journey with food and my adventures in the kitchen within this blog to be inspiring, useful, and engaging on your quest to feel, look, and be your best. And, because I believe the most useful articles are ones that include action steps, I would like to now leave you with 12 guiding principles of healthy eating that underpin what, how, and when my husband and I eat.

  1. If you could not gather it, hunt it, or fish it, it is best not to eat it.

  2. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s probably best to avoid it.

  3. We can either pay the farmer or pay the doctor. The choice is up to us.

  4. Shop the out perimeter of the grocery store and know where the organic section is!

  5. How and when we eat is just as important as what we eat.

  6. What we eat is very important but what we digest and assimilate is more important.

  7. Optimizing nutrition goes way beyond what, how, and when we eat. It also includes what we read and listen to, the people we associate with, and how we think and behave.

  8. All food has vibrational energy. This energy is transferred to us when we consume food. The way fruits and vegetables are farmed, and the conditions in which animals are raised determines whether or not this vibrational energy will be positive or negative. I realize that this might be a bit “deep” or “out there” for some to take in and understand. For this reason, I almost did NOT include it in this list. But, I am all about standing in and speaking my truth. I encourage you to sit with it and explore what this might mean to you. If it does not resonate, I respect that.

  9. All macros are essential and have different roles! This means that our bodies need protein, fats, and carbohydrates in the right ratio for one’s bio-individual needs.

  10. Meal prep is an integral part of optimal nutrition. It is widely held that digestion begins in the digestive tract once a food is consumed. The truth is that digestion starts in the brain with the release of essential hormones that are triggered by anticipating eating, aromas, and the handling of food and the prepping of the meal. When we order carry out or eat out too often, we bypass many of these critical aspects.

  11. If healthy meal prep is overwhelming and freaking you out, then you are likely overthinking it, making it too complicated, and you need a system to follow — which will be the premise of the Healthy Eats Blog!

  12. There is no such thing as one way of eating that is right for everyone. We all have unique dietary needs and these needs change according to our phase of life and current circumstances. The BEST diet for you is the one that allows you to feel, look, and be your best.

This is a wrap! If this article provided you with some useful and inspiring takeaways — even if just one! Stay tuned for many healthy, practical meal ideas and simple, manageable strategies for ending overwhelm in the kitchen in future articles!