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The Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash (with Recipes)

FF Spaghetti Squash

I’ll admit that it took me a while to try spaghetti squash.

The reason was because I was a picky eater growing up, and I was hesitant to give most things a fair chance.

I think another factor, however, was the name.

I mean, squash isn’t pasta.

Squash is squash – so who were they trying to fool anyway?

Well, I wasn’t having any of it.

The last thing I wanted to do was expect something similar to spaghetti (because of the name)… just to be disappointed that the two were nothing alike.

However, these days I have an open mind.

In the past, it was easy for me to turn my nose up to just about anything I wasn’t familiar with. It’s a behavior I’m thankful I’ve changed because it opened up new opportunities to expand my diet, which has helped me to appreciate a healthier way of life.

It has also made cooking a more pleasant experience and while I don’t go out to eat very often, I do feel a sense of freedom knowing that the menu options have more to offer since I’m open to new things.

Spaghetti squash is one of those foods I had rejected until I changed my mind about nutrition.

But now that I’ve given it a chance, I happen to LOVE it!

There are many ways you can prepare this vegetable, and if you’re looking to substitute pasta, this is a cool way to do it.

So on that note, let’s go over the health benefits of spaghetti squash and then discover some cool ways to prepare it.

The Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is not only low in calories, but it is loaded with nutrition.

One cup of spaghetti squash contains:

  • 42 calories
  • 0 g cholesterol
  • 0 g fat
  • 10 g carbohydrates
  • 2 g fiber
  • 4 g sugar
  • 1 g protein
  • 28 mg sodium

So it’s obviously a lot of food for very few calories, however, these aren’t exactly empty calories.

You’ll get a lot of high quality nutrition in spaghetti squash, and depending on how you prepare it, you can really turn this dish into a delicious treat.

Spaghetti squash contains vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, lutein, folate, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids, calcium, iron and phosphorous.

You can checkout this article on for additional info on health benefits…and a recipe.

Speaking of recipes, while there are a number of them out there, I’ve come up with my own simple way to enjoy spaghetti squash. I’ll share it with you, and then post some a few others that sound appealing to me.

Spaghetti Squash Recipes

This is my own simple concoction that anyone can try without any special cooking skills.

Garlic, Basil, Jalapeno and Banana Pepper Gluten-Free/ Vegan “Spaghetti” (Squash) –

  • Slice one spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  • Place face down on a baking pan and bake at 375 for 35-50 mins (or until soft enough to puncture with a fork).
  • Allow to cool and scoop out “spaghetti” into a bowl.
  • Mix with olive oil, basil, jalapeno and/or banana peppers, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  • You can have fun with this by adding any other veggies or flavoring.


Another recipe that looks amazing to me is the one that goes along with the image of this article, compliments of and Rachel Ray.

Spicy Roasted Tomato Marinara with Spaghetti Squash

The full recipe is here. It calls for cheese, however, if you follow a vegan diet, you can always omit the cheese and/or go for a vegan cheese instead.

Any and all recipes are open to creativity. There is no reason to avoid trying something new because a recipe calls for something you don’t consume.

The imagination is a beautiful thing…and there are individuals out there who have come up with innovative ways to bring new possibilities to life by thinking outside the box. This includes delicious substitutions to some of your favorite ingredients that offer you the flavors and textures that you love without the detrimental effects that certain foods have on our health, and the environment.

In fact, I recently stumbled across a way to make vegan mozzarella cheese using only a few ingredients.

While I haven’t tried it out for myself yet, I did read the comments and it seems that everyone who has tried this loved it.

I’ll share it here. If you try this before I do, please let me know how you like it.

The video offers  you a way to follow the steps, and the recipe itself was found here.

I also came across a recipe to make hash browns out of spaghetti squash on My Fitness Pal using only three ingredients.

Check it out here.

Keeping an Open Mind

As I had mentioned, I was a closed minded and finicky eater for many years.

Spaghetti squash, in addition to many other nutrient dense foods, simply weren’t options I would have had anything to do with.

In order to make changes and improve our health, it’s good to keep an open mind. You really never know what may transpire…and what gifts they may have to offer.

Eating for both optimal health and weight loss becomes not only easier, but more enjoyable this way…and I hope you give it a try.

Have you tried spaghetti squash? If not, are you willing to?

Image credit courtesy of

Should I Count Calories for Weight Loss?


This is a question I’ve been asked several times.

It’s also something I wondered about years ago when I wanted to lose weight.

Depending on the weight loss program you investigate, you’ll get some different answers.

So which is it?

Count calories…

or don’t?

In my opinion, I really don’t feel that there is one particular way to approach this because it all depends on the person and the situation.

There are both pros and cons to counting calories, so I can’t say that one particular method is perfect for everyone wanting to lose weight.

Now if you have followed my work, then you’ll know that I always discuss how overall well-being and optimal health are THE most effective ways to lose weight for the long haul.

However, given that I’m aware that different people do better with certain things than others…I’d have to say this isn’t really a one size fits all kind of a thing.

So in an effort to help you to determine if counting calories for weight loss is the most appropriate method for YOU to use, let’s discuss the pros and cons.

Should I Count Calories for Weight Loss?

The Pros

Now before I continue, I’ll go ahead and admit that when I was on my own weight loss program, I did count calories.

In fact, I used to log my nutrition and fitness activities in every day.

I personally found it useful because the process helped me to remain aware of my eating habits throughout the day, and because it gave me a sense of personal accountability.

And in regard to counting calories…logging my food intake into the nutrition tracker gave me the opportunity to identify portion sizes, in addition to helping me to understand how small serving sizes of certain foods can pack in a LOT of calories.

The truth is that when it comes to weight loss, calories do make an impact.

If we consume more than what’s needed for energy and to survive, especially if it’s a lot more…then those calories will convert to fat to be stored for later use (if they do get used).

However, while this may seem like a good reason to rely on counting calories for weight loss, it’s important to understand that this can also backfire.

Cons of Counting Calories

Believe it or not, there are disadvantages to counting calories.

One of them being that not all calories are created equal…and if this is how you measure weight loss success, then you’re missing the big picture.

If you were to stick with a nutrition program that focuses on counting calories, you just may become easily confused as to what constitutes as a healthy food item for a low calorie one.

For example, if you were thinking that one of those 100 calorie snack packs of cookies, or something similar would be a good choice because the caloric count would keep you in line with your daily goal, you could be doing yourself a huge disservice.

Such food items aren’t exactly designed to promote optimal health, and since you want to not only lose the weight, but to be healthy and to ensure that you’ll stay slim for the long haul…then you’ll want to make intelligent choices about the quality of calories you consume as opposed to the amount in and of themselves.

Now while that 100 calorie pack of cookies might seem like a great idea, they are usually loaded with artificial and processed ingredients. These don’t exactly pack a nutritional punch, and you could easily wind up hungry again sooner rather than later due to blood sugar spikes and immediate crashes.

However, if you were to eat an ounce of almonds (which range anywhere from 129-170 calories), this may take you over your goal for the day, but they’ll keep your blood sugar stable and provide some health benefits as well.

Another detrimental aspect to counting calories is that it’s easy to become almost too hung up on the numbers and the results vs. simply establishing good, clean and healthy habits.

So while it’s not a bad idea to be aware of your caloric intake, it’s far better to be more focused on a well-rounded diet consisting of nutrient dense foods instead.

Finding a Happy Medium

Now while I do feel that it’s helpful to have an idea of how many calories you should consume per day depending on your current weight, desired weight and level of activities – my suggestion is to use this information to stay within a healthy range and have it act as a guide to keep you from overindulging or practicing any other form of unhealthy behaviors in regard to nutrition.

Regardless of the circumstances, I will always reiterate that the key to weight loss and weight management is to establish behaviors that focus on optimal health and well-being.

If you consume the foods that are designed to keep your digestive system healthy, your blood sugar stable and getting the right amount of high quality nutrients – especially while enjoying the process…the calories will take care of themselves…and the food will metabolize properly (which plays a role as well).

How do you feel about counting calories for weight loss?

Image credit goes to

Fun Ways to Get Your Kids to Practice Healthy Habits

FF Kids healthy Habits

As far as I’m concerned, one can never be too young to develop good habits.

I know I wish I had gotten started earlier than I did. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in my mid-late 30s that I realized the time had come, once and for all to stop the hamster wheel of insanity when it came to my well-being.

Like many of you, I had spent the majority of my life following several different “diet and exercise” programs in an effort to lose weight and get healthy. It felt like a constant (and unpleasant) battle that continued to produce the same results over and over again – always ending up back where I had started, feeling more and more frustrated the longer it went on.

The reason it took a long time for me to change my ways is because as a child, I had never connected to the concept of wellness. I didn’t practice healthy behavior as a kid, but instead, based my eating habits on convenience and artificially flavored foods that usually came from a bag, a box or a drive-thru.

Exercise was nothing more than an attempt to lose weight, and other than a year on the school softball team and a summer in tennis camp, I wasn’t physically active on a consistent and disciplined basis.

Looking back and seeing things a little more clearly, I think things might have turned out differently if I had been more involved in activities that promoted optimal health in a way that was creative, inspiring and social. That, to me, is the path of least resistance in regard to trying to influence kids to practice healthy habits.

So on that note, I’ve discovered a few ways that can be instrumental in getting kids to want to practice healthy behaviors in a fun and natural way. These are activities they’ll not only want to participate in during childhood, but could very well continue to implement throughout their lives and pass on to their own offspring.

Fun Ways to Get Your Kids to Practice Healthy Habits

1 – Get ‘Em in the Kitchen

One of the most effective ways to get your kids involved in their own well-being is to invite them in the kitchen with you and have them help in the preparation of healthy foods.

This will accomplish several things:

  1. It will teach them how to cook, which will not only enable them to know what goes into their food, but it will instill a sense of independence in them that will last a lifetime.
  2. It will keep them connected to the creative process, which helps to inspire kids to think outside the box. This is an excellent trait to have in life, as the world is filled with unlimited possibilities…and when we gain this understanding when we’re young, it opens up doors and opportunities in life that allows for freedom of mind, and life in general.
  3. As mentioned above, it will allow kids to know what goes into their food, which everyone needs to care about. If children gain an awareness of what constitutes as acceptable ingredients, they may naturally reject the processed, artificial and genetically modified foods that are heavily advertised in society.
  4. It will offer some good quality family time to be spent doing something fun and productive. It’s tough to get bored when you’re already busy.

2 – Plan Social Activities Around Wellness

I have discussed the benefits of holding and attending healthy pot lucks in this post, and the same holds true for kids.

Using something like a healthy food party or gathering will not only offer your kids a way to be social under more holistic conditions, but the creative process expands even further once you get other like-minded kids and parents involved.

You’ll do things like share recipes…and possibly even band together to promote well-being in the community. When enough people care about something, share similar views and therefore, work together, powerful things can happen.

When children see their parents establish a sense of leadership in a way that inspires something of sound mind and well-being, it’s far easier for them to naturally follow in their footsteps.

It’s the path of least resistance in regard to self-discipline – especially in a world where discipline is necessary now more than ever.

3 – Grow Your Own Food 

I have also written a post about the benefits of growing your own food here…and discussed the effects this activity will have on kids as well.

When anyone, regardless of age, gets involved in their own food production – they develop a sense of self-responsibility, independence and personal empowerment.

It’s important for all of us to know where food comes from.

When children plant a seed and watch it become a fruit, an herb or a vegetable, it creates a feeling of excitement within them – and they can’t wait to eat it because they were involved in the production of it from day one.

It’s a fantastic way to keep your kids involved in their own well-being.

Besides, if you’re paying close attention to the cost, ingredients and shortages of food as time goes on, you’ll see why this activity will serve you and your family’s best interests today, and in the long run.

It’s Never Too Late

Regardless of how old your kids are (even if they’re young adults already), it’s never too late to start practicing the activities discussed in this post.

All of the above suggestions also require physical effort – which is an excellent way to stay active and expend energy.

Anyone can start living a life based on well-being. It can be fun, social and inspiring.

The idea is to find joy in the process, and there is no better time to start doing this than right now.

You’ll be glad you did…and so will your kids.

So now that you’ve read this, which activity are you going to plan first?

Image credit goes to

How to Influence Others to Be Healthy

FF Influence Habits

I think it’s safe to say that no one actually enjoys being preached to…or told what to do.

At least that’s how I see it anyway.

Yet, I also find it’s accurate to say that there are probably quite a few of us who may have loved ones in our lives who could stand to make a few changes in how they take care of themselves.

We know they aren’t feeling good about themselves, and we know they would prefer to feel inspired to make some improvements.

So how do we go about influencing others to be healthier in a way that doesn’t turn them off, but instead promotes a desire within them to start making those changes?

I have an idea.

How to Influence Others to Be Healthy

When it comes to helping someone to become a happier and healthier individual, there is one ideal method that comes to mind.

On the other hand, there are also a few techniques that I have seen used frequently…but rarely seem to produce the desired effect, at least for the long haul.

Based on my observations, you’ll never inspire someone by:

  • Insulting them into submission or shame.
  • Bossing them around or being preachy.
  • Judging them (I’ll expand on that in a moment).
  • Using guilt.
  • Making threats.

Now while there have been times when some of the aforementioned techniques may have worked in an effort to get someone to change something, the question is…for how long did it work?

See, unless someone REALLY wants to change a behavior, or a way of being, they have to undergo an internal shift. Trying to force, trick, coerce or shame someone into doing something may result in them making an immediate change, but until it somehow becomes their own truth, the results will usually be temporary.

Now in regard to judgment…here’s something I have noticed.

I’ve heard people make remarks about how we shouldn’t judge things. Could be a person, situation, or just about anything else.

Here’s the thing…

I personally find that it’s not only acceptable to judge, but it’s a useful tool if one understands how to use it properly.

We judge things to determine what something looks like, whether it fits into a code of ethics or standards and how it makes us feel in response to seeing it.

This is how we determine how things play out in front of us, and we have every right to make such observations.

If, however, we are judgmental individuals as a characteristic we use as a default position, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and others.

Judging something is different than being a judgmental person. The former is a tool used for observation, the latter is a default way we look at the world without allowing for a well-rounded picture to take place before deciding on passing off an opinion based on a regular point of view.

When it comes to wanting to help someone you care about to make a positive change, the only reason you know they could use this change is because you judged the situation they are in, assessed it and came to an observation.

If, however, you are a judgmental person…you would allow this to be your default position in life…and without careful thought into the entirety of the situation, including the other person’s perspective and experiences…you would seek to control the situation using one of the ways discussed in the bullet points above.

Know the difference between judging and being judgmental – and it can make a world of difference in how you can help to inspire someone else to make a positive change.

So now that I’ve mentioned what usually doesn’t work in regard to influencing others, here is what I believe will do the trick.

Being the Example You Want to Set 

This is one of the most effective ways to “influence” someone else into making a change.

We can’t offer what we don’t practice, so when it comes to wanting to help someone make a positive change in their life, unless you can be a walking example of what you hope to inspire in someone else, you’ll never succeed.

Whether we realize it or not, we affect the actions of others by being an influence in their lives. The only way to do this with any sense of authenticity is to be the change that someone else wants to make for themselves.

People watch others as they go on about their day to day activities. We take in information and whether we consciously observe what we’re seeing or not, we still witness what takes place in front of us and around us…and this information gets stored in our minds.

If you’re looking to help to make a positive impact on someone – the best, and most mutually beneficial way in which to go about this is to already encompass the traits you are hoping to instill in someone else.

This would mean that when you get together with someone…and you already practice healthy behaviors on a regular basis…then you would use those behaviors to determine the activities you would embark upon with that person.

You would spend time with them eating healthier foods because this is what YOU do…and you would invite them to accompany you on a fitness walk because it’s how YOU spend your time.

If someone sees that something has worked wonders for you, and you experience the benefits from living your life in a certain way, then the likelihood that they may just want to experience this for themselves is much higher.

By being the example you wish to see in someone else, you are letting them know, in a natural and organic way, that it’s not only doable, but enjoyable as well.

Have you tried to influence others to be healthy? What worked? What didn’t?

3 Fantastic Health and Wellness Apps

first aid

I have to admit….

I am relatively new to the whole app thing.

The truth is – until (very) recently, I didn’t use them.

I tend to keep things simple and I prefer not to get terribly immersed in all of the latest technology for various reasons.

However, in an effort to gain a better understanding of how apps work and who benefits from them (and why), I’ve decided to do a bit of investigating.

Now while I can’t say that I have become well acquainted with many of them, I have taken the liberty of investigating a few of the apps that I feel will benefit anyone looking to stay connected to their healthy-living program while out and about.

Whether you’re on your way out to eat, dealing with an injury, or in need of specific food information while at the grocery store, the following apps will have something valuable to offer you.

And the best news is that they’re all free.

Now before I continue, let me mention that I am well aware that there may be some apps that many of you currently use and perhaps feel should have been included in this post.

In response, I’ll say that I respect that, but I have decided to focus on the ones that stood out to me because I found something unique in them – and for that reason, these are the ones I’d like to discuss today.

3 Fantastic Health and Wellness Apps to Use is a free online website dedicated to help people lose weight.

They offer a wide variety of tools to help you design a weight loss program based on your own specific needs.

Their app includes everything you’ll find on their website, so at your fingertips, you will have access to:

  • Diet plans
  • Exercise programs
  • Food and fitness trackers
  • Personalized daily menu options
  • Articles and blog posts from experts about nutrition, exercise and motivation
  • Recipes
  • Exercise video demonstrations and programs
  • Restaurant/ dining out menu options
  • Online chats and message options with other members for support

Sparkpeople is user friendly and their experts are well-qualified enough to warrant credibility in the advice they dispense.

They have over 15 million registered users, they have been named “One of the Best Diets” by U.S. News & World Report and have been featured in People Magazine, the Today Show, Good Housekeeping and more.

Once you download the app, you can create an account and get started on your weight loss goals immediately. You’ll be able to personalize your home screen to feature whatever is most important to you, and you’ll be on your way to staying connected to the process of well-being.

I personally used Sparkpeople several years ago for my own weight loss program and I found it to be quite helpful.

For more information, visit their website and register for the free program.

Red Cross First Aid

The American Red Cross offers an app that I feel everyone should have access to, especially if you’re involved in an exercise program.

The Red Cross First Aid app is filled with important, life-saving tools that can help anyone deal with an unfortunate situation, even if they have no medical background.

In this app, you will find:

  • Videos, pictures and animations to help with any situation requiring first aid.
  • Interactive quizzes to help you understand the signs and symptoms of any number of emergency situations including loss of consciousness, hypo/hyperglycemia/diabetes, heart attack, choking, strains and sprains, insect bites, wound repair, stroke, and more.
  • An integrated 911 call system that can be used directly from the app.
  • Safety tips for just about anything and everything…ranging from injury prevention to weather related catastrophes.

Since the content on this app is pre-loaded, you don’t need to be connected to the internet to gain acess to the information when needed.

Recognized for its usefulness by websites such as Mashable, and – this is one app you’ll definitely want to keep with you.

For more information, visit their website.


Fooducated is another tool designed to help with weight loss.

It’s free to use, however, some of the features do require an upgrade that includes a cost (gluten-free/ non-gmo info, etc).

The reason I added this to my list of fantastic apps to have on hand is because I LOVE the fact that you can use the scanner tool (free) to check the ingredients of any food item you’re looking to purchase at the store in an effort to get more insight into the ingredients.

As one user said in their review “Fooducate is like having a dietitian on speed dial”, and this is because of the detailed information you can received about what’s in your food.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to making healthy food choices has to do with having insight into ingredients. Anyone can decide to pick up an item that advertises the number of calories it has per serving – but the question is…

What are those calories made of?

This is important. And since it can be tough to understand labels (some of these ingredients could easily be around 100 syllables per word)…any additional information to help you to gain some clarity into what you’re about to purchase will come in handy.

This goes for whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply feed your family clean and healthy foods.

Fooducate has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Shape Magazine, and more.

You can find more info about by visiting their website.

I Know There Are Many More I Haven’t Covered…

You may be thinking that I have failed to mention several other apps out there that are just as fantastic as the three I discussed in this post – and I’ll say that you’re probably right.

As I had mentioned above, I’m relatively new to the app thing, so I am just now beginning to discover some of these wonderful tools that have been available for quite a while.

Given some time, I’ll do more investigating and create a follow-up post to share my views on other available apps designed for weight loss and healthy living.

If you would like to offer some suggestions, please leave them in the comments section and I’ll make it a point to check them out.

Have you used any of the three apps discussed here today?

Image credit goes to