Monday, November 3, 2014

Healthy Tip - Spaghetti Squash

November is here, and it has arrived with a bang!  Freezing temperatures around the US (even in the normally mild Southeast) have many of us craving warm, comforting foods.  One of my favorite healthy winter foods is spaghetti squash.  When cooked the flesh resembles noodles, hence the name spaghetti squash.

The next time you are planning to whip up a batch of spaghetti use spaghetti squash instead of noodles.  It is a nutritious winter squash full of nutrients like Vitamin C, Folic Acid and Potassium.  It is also low in carbohydrates and calories.  We love spaghetti squash this time of year.  Not only do we use it with spaghetti sauce (see my healthy meatball recipe HERE), we also enjoy topped with chili or stew.

Spaghetti squash is also easy to prepare.  Simply use a sharp knife to prick some holes throughout the squash and bake it (on a baking sheet) in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour (turning the squash halfway through the cooking process) or until the squash is tender.  Cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds (and set aside) and fork out the noodle-like flesh (this is the part to eat).

(photos courtesy of

This is also a great way to get your kids eating more vegetables especially in the winter.  My son cleans his plate when we serve spaghetti squash!  He loves it!  Enjoy!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Amazing Almond Butter Smoothie (gluten and dairy free)

Every year when the weather begins to warm up, I get on a smoothie kick.  This year is no different.  While we have been having temperatures in the mid 70’s, my son and I have been enjoying smoothies on a daily basis.  In fact, many days we have more than one.  Lately we have been experimenting with new recipes, hence the recent influx of smoothie recipe posts.  I am always looking for healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free, kid-friendly smoothie ideas.  Recently Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’sAll Good, has been a great source of inspiration.  You can view it and buy it HERE.  This smoothie is a spin on one of her many delicious recipes in the book.  It is packed with protein, satisfying, sweet and great for kids.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

My two-and-a-half year old son absolutely LOVES almond butter.  He eats it by the spoonful so this smoothie is his new favorite.  It is great for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even dessert!

1 Frozen Banana
1 ½ Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 Tbls Almond Butter
1 ½ Tbls Cocoa Powder
1 Tbls Sweetener of your choice (Agave, Honey or Pure Maple Syrup) or 1 Date
A Few Dashes of Ground Cinnamon (to taste) (Helps regulate blood sugar)
A Handful of Ice (to desired consistency)
1 Tbls Organic Gluten Free Oats (optional) (Great for nursing mothers or after a workout)

For Garnish:
A Sprinkling of Bee Pollen (optional) (for added allergy protection…great in the spring and fall)
A Sprinkling of Gluten Free Oats (optional) (for added hydration…great for nursing mothers)

Serves 2

Place of the ingredients into a high-powered blender and combine until smooth.  Pour into glasses, sprinkle on garnishes and enjoy!  You can buy BPA-free stainless steel straws (like pictured) HERE.

More Delicious and Healthy Recipes:
Low glycemic index smoothie recipe
"The Best" Smoothie Recipe
Healthy Low GI "Chocolate Shake Smoothie
Gluten Free Meatball Recipe
Green Juice Recipe
Homemade Healthy Cereal
Dairy-free, low glycemic index soft served ice cream recipe

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Healthy Low Glycemic Index "Chocolate Shake" Smoothie (Dairy Free)

This recipe is based off of one of the yummy smoothies in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Good.  If you do not have this cookbook yet, it is worth checking out.  You can view and buy it here. (affiliate link)  Everything I have made from it has been delicious with no need to substitute any ingredients.  However, with this particular smoothie I was missing a couple of ingredients so I decided to make some substitutions and additions. J  The result is an amazing, kid-friendly, healthy smoothie that will also satisfy your sweet tooth.  It makes a great breakfast, afternoon snack or even dessert (it tastes like a scrumptious chocolate milkshake).

1 Ripe Avocado (pitted and peeled)
1 Cup Coconut Water
1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 Tbsp Ground Flaxseeds
1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp of your desired sweetener (Pure Raw Agave for low GI)
1 Tsp – 1 Tbsp Bee Pollen (for added allergy protection during these pollen months)
A few dashes of ground cinnamon (to taste)
A handful of ice (to desired thickness) (preferably made with filtered water)

Blend all of the ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth.  Serve and enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

“The Best” Smoothie Recipe

This smoothie recipe is named “the best” because that is what my two-year-old son said after he tasted it!   Not only is this smoothie kid-friendly and delicious, it is also vegan and packed full of nutrients. 

1 Frozen Banana
1 Large Handful of Organic Girl Super Greens: A mixture of red and green swiss chard, tat soi, arugula and spinach
3/4 Cup Frozen Organic Blueberries
½ Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seeds
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1 Tsp Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
1/4 - ½ Tsp Cinnamon (depending on taste)

Place all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.  Add more almond milk to make smoother or ice cubes to thicken to your preference.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse…That is the Question.

(Photo courtesy of

I recently had a conversation with someone about cleansing and detoxing.  She was asking me, as a health coach, what I recommend.   Afterwards I pondered over the trends of juice cleanses, detoxing, fasting, etc.  It is the beginning of a new year, people are carrying some extra weight from the Holidays indulgences, and they want a way to “jump start” a healthier way of life.  Some people are even looking for a “quick fix.”  While I am not a fan or supporter of gorging yourself then doing a juice cleanse/fast and repeating the cycle, there are some healthy steps that one can take to get their health and nutrition back on track.

So what should one eat and avoid when trying to kick start their healthy lifestyle?  Let’s begin with the good stuff…what you want to put into your body.  I like the quote “Every time you eat you are either feeding disease or fighting it.”  Remember this when you eat.  Fill your diet with organic real/whole foods, lean meats, fish, foods that are grown not made or manufactured.  Avoid sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, coffee (even decaf), deli meat, pork, and processed/packaged foods.  Limit your red meat to none or only lean cuts that are from 100% grass fed organic cows.  For example, a flank steak from a grass fed pasture raised cow every now and again is okay, especially if you are an “O” blood type and need red meat.  Also remember to graze throughout the day by eating 5-6 small meals rather than 3 large ones.

I recommend beginning with a “detox” by strictly altering your diet.  After 30 days you can slowly start to add some foods back into your diet.  However, it is best to keep overall healthy nutrition.  In other words, some goat cheese or a naturally sweetened gluten-free treat every now and again is okay, but keep the sodas, bread and refined sugar out for good.  I know we all indulge every now and again, but generally we need to keep a consistent healthy diet rather than a roller coaster of binge – cleanse, binge – cleanse, binge - cleanse.

What does this detox look like?  Begin your day with a glass of lemon water, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) with water or a combo of the above.  In the winter I love a glass of warm water with lemon, ACV and a tiny bit of raw honey.  Enjoy a glass of Green Juice (LINK) for breakfast.  Homemade cereal (LINK) is a great option for a mid morning snack.  Lunch can consist of a salad filled with delicious vegetables and a lean protein.  An apple with almond butter makes a yummy afternoon snack.  Dinner can be Quinoa, a lean protein (like a fish low in Mercury) and a vegetable.  Drink lemon water throughout the day.  It helps alkaline your system, detox your body and boost your metabolism. 

(photo of my son enjoying green juice this morning.  This picture is simply to show how delicious it is not to promote a detox or cleanse of a child.  He eats what we eat, which is an overall healthy diet, not the standard American diet (SAD)).

Remember to talk to your health care provider before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle.  It is important to remain healthy and happy with the guidance of a professional that knows your medical conditions.

Healthy regards,

THRIVE: Natural Family Living

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November Attitude Challenge II

Happy November!  As Thanksgiving approaches I always like to focus on attitude and how I can shift my life to be more positive.  Last year I wrote an article that challenged my readers to acknowledge their blessings and express gratitude each day:  This year I am adding a few other attitude-boosting exercises.  In addition to listing the good things that happen and the things for which you are thankful, I encourage you to do the following everyday.

1 – Walk barefoot outside on the grass or on the beach.  This process has a grounding effect especially in the surf on the beach, but the grass is a close second.  The earth is negatively charged so when you walk barefoot you absorb the negative electrons through the soles of your feet.  This causes a magnetizing healing effect and “grounds” you with the Earth.  After practicing this for several days in a row you may notice you feel more centered, grounded and healthier. 

2 – Meditate.  One of my favorites quotes is an old Zen saying: "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour".    Meditation is an amazing centering exercise with incredible benefits.  It is proven to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, anger and more.  It has truly changed my life.  I recommend a guided meditation or mantra meditation, especially if you are a beginner or have a busy mind.  It also helps to focus on your “third eye”, which is located slightly above and between the eyebrows.  It is also beneficial to remember that it is not about stopping the noise from coming through your head.  It is about not listening to the noise.

 3 – Exercise.  Get your heart pumping for at least 20 minutes a day.  Get outside; go for a walk, a light job or swim some laps.  Go to a yoga or Pilates class or do a video at home.  Be creative and have fun!  It helps to switch up your exercise so you do not get bored and so your body uses different muscles.  Finds activities that you enjoy.  My husband and I love to play tennis.  When I have a moment alone I like to practice yoga.  Involve the whole family in a game of  touch football or chase.  The possibilities are endless.  It is amazing the difference you will feel emotionally and physically once you get more active.  It helps center you, calm you and clear your mind.  (Not to mention the health benefits).

I hope you enjoy making these positive changes in your life.  I know I have! 

Healthy regards!

© Courtney Hillis
THRIVE: Natural Family Living