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Spaghetti squash is a fabulous substitute for regular pasta because it’s full of vitamins and minerals and lower in calories. Instead of 200 calories per cup, spaghetti squash will only cost you around 45 calories per cup. my favorite way to prepare this squash is to roast it, but It can also be baked, boiled, steamed, or microwaved. Once cooked, the squash falls away like strands of spaghetti.

spaghetti squash w. meat sauce

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 lbs.)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms

1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey or beef

1 jar pasta sauce (my favorite is Whole Foods 365 portobello mushroom tomato sauce)

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) – I like a bit of heat

½ teaspoon dried oregano

black pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Fresh basil

 Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400*F.

Place squash on a baking tray and roast for about 45-60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic red pepper flakes and dried oregano and sauté about 4 minutes or until tender.

Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink.

Add pasta sauce, stirring until thoroughly combined and bubbling.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside and keep warm.

When squash is done, remove seeds and then scrape the desired amount of spaghetti squash strands with a fork into a large bowl.

Add desired amount of meat sauce to squash and mix well.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh basil, then serve.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I found several jars of pumpkin butter in the back of my cupboard when I was in the process of cleaning out before our move. I searched the internet for recipes to help me use up my pumpkin butter and with a few modifications created my own recipes.

Pumpkin Butter

 And the truth is, sweets are a real favorite of mine, and I’m a believer that all foods can be included, in moderation, in a healthy, balanced diet. So although I wouldn’t eat these bars every day, they’re a nice change from brownies, and a great dessert to bring to a get-together, especially in the Fall. I like making dessert when I can share it with others, taking away the temptation to eat them all myself.

 Ingredients

1 package white cake mix, divided

½ cup butter, melted

3 large eggs

1 (10oz.) jar pumpkin butter*

1 Tablespoon flour

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ cup pecans

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9 X 13-inch baking pan.

2. Remove one cup of yellow cake mix and pour the remaining mix in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the melted butter and one egg. Press the mixture into the bottom of 9 X 13 baking pan.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin butter and 2 eggs. Pour pumpkin mixture over the cake mix.

4. Stir the reserved cup of cake mix with the flour, sugar, softened butter, cinnamon and pecans in a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle over the pumpkin layer.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Makes 16 servings

NOTE: I did not receive compensation in any form for products or ingredients mentioned in this blog.

 *Where to buy pumpkin butter? Trader Joe’s, Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma sell it in the Fall. There are also recipes online to make your own!

Nutrition Information per serving:

290 calories, 15g Total Fat, 7g Saturated Fat, 0mg Trans Fat, 55mg cholesterol,  34g Total Carbohydrate, 23g sugar, 0g Fiber, 3g protein, 190mg sodium, 22mg potassium

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When I was packing up for our big move, I found several jars of pumpkin butter in the back of a cupboard. I went searching for ways to use up the pumpkin butter because I hate to throw away food. If you find yourself needing to use up jars of pumpkin butter or would like to make a less traditional pumpkin recipe this Fall, give this granola recipe a try!

  Ingredients

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ cup pumpkin butter

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use instant oats)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

 Preparation:

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325*F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small saucepan heat the butter over low-medium heat, whisking constantly. When it just starts to brown, remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl; whisk an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add the pumpkin butter, maple syrup and vanilla to the melted butter. Whisk to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, add oats, spices, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Stir until well combined.

5. Pour oat mixture into pumpkin mixture and stir until oats are well coated.

6.  Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (about 3/8 inch thick). Using a stiff spatula or wooden spoon, compress oat mixture until very compact.

7. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden and dry. Let cool completely, then  store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 3 ½ cups.

 Nutrition Information per ¼ cup serving:

160 calories, 9g Total Fat, 2g Saturated Fat, 5mg cholesterol, 19 g Total Carbohydrate, 8g sugar, 2g Fiber, 3g protein, 45mg sodium, 88mg potassium

Notes:

When you remove the granola from the oven it may be slightly chewy, but will harden as it cools.

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With so many of my clients telling me they struggle to get a good night's sleep, I'm excited to feature this guest blog post by Alicia Sanchez, researcher for Tuck Sleep.

Some of the most common side effects of menopause can lead to sleep disturbances and insomnia. But, you need sleep to handle all the changes your body goes through during this transition period. Though menopause may make it tough to get a night of uninterrupted sleep, there are things you can do to help yourself get the rest you need.

Losing Sleep to Menopause

As menopause begins, the female body decreases the production of estrogen and progesterone. The changes in these essential hormones affect sleep (progesterone) and emotional stability (estrogen). Not only is it harder for you to fall and stay asleep, but other side effects of menopause like night sweats cause further sleep disturbances. Hot flashes and night sweats increase your body temperature, bringing you out of sleep and leaving you more alert.

As sleep disturbances increase, your risk of mental and emotional problems increases too. Whether you’re experiencing menopause or not, the emotional center of the brain changes how it functions during sleep deprivation by becoming more sensitive to negative stimuli. At the same time, when you’re tired, the part of the brain responsible for applying logic to your emotions becomes less active. Basically, you’re at higher risk for an increase in stress and emotional decision-making. The combination of sleep deprivation and reduced estrogen associated with menopause puts women at high risk for increased stress, anxiety, and depression

Women going through menopause are also more likely to experience other physical changes associated with the aging process. Changes in bladder control, early wake-up times, and reduced time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can also contribute to insomnia and daytime sleepiness. Around this same time, many women also experience stressful life changes like children leaving home which can cause increased stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

There’s Hope for Better (and More) Sleep

You can reduce sleep disturbances during menopause. First, take a good look at your mattress. If it’s old and lumpy or doesn’t have good breathability, it might be time to look for one that supports your sleep style and current life situation. You might need to try a few mattresses until you find one with good airflow and comfort. Keep in mind that airbeds and innerspring mattresses offer some of the best breathability options.

There a few extra things you can do to help yourself get better sleep, such as:

  • Keep the Bedroom Cool: Most people sleep comfortably between 60 to 68 degrees. During menopause, you may need to reduce the temperature even more to counteract hot flashes. However, that might mean an extra blanket or two for your partner.
  • Prepare for Hot Flashes Before Bed: Try keeping a cold glass of water, extra pajamas, extra pillow and pillowcase, and a washcloth in an ice bucket near your bed. Getting back to sleep as soon as possible helps prevent the wakefulness that keeps you up for hours.
  • Healthy Diet and Exercise: Drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed can trigger hot flashes. An early, light dinner gives your body time to digest and prevents a rise in body temperature right before bed. Exercise improves all aspects of your health, but it also exhausts your body so that it’s easier to fall asleep.

Menopause is a time of change in a woman’s life. With a focus on good sleep, you can help yourself maintain the mental clarity you need to transition through and enjoy this new stage of life.

Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck Sleep with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.

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I'm excited to have Elyse Petterson writing this guest blog post. I love the work she does, helping people incorporate activity into their daily lives. Rather than getting a 30-60 minute workout and then "being done" with activity for the day, she teaches Foundation Training and other techniques that are simple, practical ways to build strength, stamina and take care of our backs throughout the day. Read on to learn more...

There is a lot of talk about how different our modern life is from the way it used to be, and for good reason. It’s easy to roll your eyes about mention of ancestral diets and cavemen foraging (I mean, they didn’t live very long, right?). But there are some incredibly important takeaways from reflecting on these differences, and movement (or lack of) is a key change.

If we look at the whole span of human life, this most recent part (with the lights, cars, cubicles, and Snapchat) is the tiniest little sliver at the top of the iceberg. Plain and simple, our genetics have not caught up with what we have achieved in a very short amount of time. We are hardwired to move as little as possible, and eat whatever we get our hands on.

Is that working for us right now? Not at all. We have to have an incredibly strong drive and willpower to combat our bodies’ desire to conserve energy. And as we can see from obesity rates, we are failing at that. Let’s look at what “exercise” has come to mean in modern times. For the most part, unless you have a very physical job, people sit all day, and maybe 3 or 4 times a week put in 30 - 60 minutes of exercise. Oftentimes, making that exercise be high intensity is the desire; we have to counteract all that sitting, right?
It’s not BAD to do high intensity exercise. It gets the endorphins up, making it pretty fun. It’s good for your heart, and depending on what kind you are doing, it can add lean muscle and improve body composition.

But let’s be real: sitting all day is not a natural position to be in. Sitting slows the flow of fluid in your body and has been linked to heart disease and obesity. Your workout does not take away those effects.

What if we don’t stop with our favorite exercise class or jogging routine, but ADD in more movement? The Solution: Stand up, every hour:

Here’s an area where modern technology helps you! Phones can have timers set, and that iWatch buzzes your wrist to tell you to get up regularly. Walk more! The benefits of walking can’t be overstated. Take the stairs, carry your groceries, make your daily life support your health instead of diminishing it.
The benefits of low-intensity exercise are huge. Walking, gentle yoga, Foundation Training, joint mobility exercises, cooking from scratch; the list goes on and on. High intensity exercise, while great, also raises cortisol, which impedes recovery. Low intensity exercise lowers cortisol; this is where your bones get stronger, muscles and connective tissues rebuild, and stress is lowered. We need the balance.

Where to start?

  • Set that timer, get up from your desk or that chair regularly.
  • Add in walks, even short ones, throughout the day.
  • Don’t skip the gentle yoga class. Go and know  it will make your body stronger and better compared to only doing the high intensity workouts.

We can’t change what we have done in the past, and we shouldn’t feel guilty that we sat when we could have stood; after all, it’s in our genetics. But what we can do is get up, right now, and change our path for the future to one of health and vibrancy.

Elyse Petterson

To learn more about Elyse Petterson, Foundation Training and exercises to incorporate into your daily routine, go to www.perpetualmotionfit.com or email: info@perpetualmotionfit.com

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