Year-End Roundup

The year from h$ll is drawing to a close. Finally.

I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so ready for a year to end. While I know that the struggles of 2020 are far from over, knowing that the year is wrapping up gives me a sense of closure. With the new year comes a new sense of hope and an opportunity to reset, refine my goals, and make plans that reflect my ever-changing values and priorities.

Do you like celebrating the new year?

How will your new year celebrations look different this year?

Things I’m Loving Lately

My husband and I (and our dog, Finnegan) moved to a new city back in September. One weekend, I was finding myself a little bored of my usual podcasts and Spotify playlists during a walk, and I thought it might be a good idea to listen to audio books. It occurred to me that I could listen to a lot of my top-choice audio books for free if I had a library card. Thanks to the shutdown, libraries are closed, but…again, thanks to the shut down, my local library’s policies changed such that I was able to apply for a library account online. My new library card made it possible for me to start borrowing audio books for free online through OverDrive. I’ve been listening to lots of non-fiction books (my usual favorite) as well as novels (something novel for me) like Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult. If you haven’t read/listened to that book yet, I highly recommend it. The main themes of the story are very relevant to our current cultural moment.

I guess there are some good things that have come from COVID.

Shortcuts for a Simpler Life

One of my husband’s favorite snacks is popcorn. I also really like popcorn, though I usually tend to prefer SkinnyPop over air popped or stove popped kernels. Something about SkinnyPop tastes “fuller” to me. Maybe it’s the kind of salt they use, or maybe they add in flavorings. I don’t know, I’ve never checked. But regardless, I like my SkinnyPop. However, sometimes my husband, a popcorn fiend, finishes off all the SkinnyPop in the house and my only option is to pop some for myself on the stove. (If that’s the worst thing that happens to me in a day, it’s really not a bad day…)

Anyway, one evening I came home from work, very much craving some popcorn and a beer, but I wanted a snack that had a little more oomph than just salt. So, I popped a pot of popcorn on the stove, poured some butter and salt on the top, and then…I had what I believed to be a brilliant idea. I dumped a cheese packet from Mac & Cheese on top.

It was the cheesiest, most buttery popcorn I’ve ever had. And it was amazing. I proudly announced my invention to my husband, and he kindly alerted me to the fact that you can buy a giant jar of powdered cheddar cheese on Amazon. While I was a little disappointed that my creation was not quite as cutting-edge as I believed it to be, I was quite pleased to learn that I could make it again without sacrificing a box of macaroni and cheese in the process. (That original box of noodles is still sitting in my pantry, cheese-less.)

Healthy, Happy, Whole

How about a Healthy, Happy, Blood-Sugar-Balanced Dessert?

I love sweet flavors. Of course, I certainly enjoy my fill of salty snacks (see above), but generally speaking…if I had to choose between desserts and something savory like chips or popcorn, 8 times out of 10 I would choose the dessert. One of my favorite times of day to eat sweets actually is with breakfast. This is no problem because at meal times, it’s easy for me to add an adequate source of protein, fiber, and fat to balance out any sugars I end up eating. (As I shared in this post, I often pair cottage cheese or eggs with a dessert food, like pie, for breakfast.) However, the other time of day when I tend to enjoy eating sweets is the afternoon.

Because I struggle with reactive hypoglycemia, I know that part of the reason I tend to crave dessert foods in the afternoon is because I often have low blood sugar at that time of day. (That is, when I’m not being proactive with my meals/snacking.) Since I know this about myself, I usually choose foods that have protein, fiber, and fat along with the sweet flavor so that I’m both well-nourished and satisfied, and so I don’t end up hangry again before dinner is ready. However, I sometimes don’t feel like eating yogurt or a protein shake with my sweet snack. While I usually choose the blood-sugar-balanced choice, sometimes I opt for the dessert on an empty stomach. I don’t always feel the best when I do this, but because it’s only once in a while and because I’m an adult who has full autonomy over my body, I’m comfortable with this choice when I make it.

That being said, I usually don’t make that choice, because I don’t like how I feel when my blood sugar dips too low. I most often prefer to avoid that uncomfortable scenario by eating something that will make me feel my best. Recently, however, I discovered Lily’s Chocolate, which is a chocolate bar sweetened with stevia and erythritol rather than cane sugar. While I’m not generally a proponent of sugar-free confections, I’ve found that this chocolate bar works well for those afternoon sugar cravings when I am not feeling up for a protein food along with my dessert. I still enjoy my fair share of sugar-sweetened treats, but once I tasted Lily’s Chocolate and was honestly surprised by how good it was, I started keeping it around, too.

The story of how I ended up trying Lily’s Chocolate in the first place is kind of funny, so I thought I’d share it on here along with the recommendation/review. My role in my family’s Christmas celebration is to buy the candy for everyone’s stocking. Usually, around Thanksgiving, everyone texts me a couple ideas for treats they’ve been enjoying, and then I buy the requested items, wrap them up, and sneak them into the stockings. My brother-in-law requested this chocolate bar, so I picked it up when I was at Whole Foods, along with a big box of sea salt caramels and some fruity treats for other family members.

I was running quite a few errands that day and Finnegan likes to come with me when I go shopping. (He stays in the car, and is usually a good boy.) After I finished up at Whole Foods, I popped into Kroger for some more groceries, and I left Finn in the front seat like I usually do. When I returned to the car after I finished my last round of shopping, I was horrified to see that Finnegan had devoured the Lily’s Chocolate bar as well as 2/3 of the box of sea salt caramels. Not only had he torn through my tightly closed shopping bag, but he had eaten most of the foil and paper wrapper of the Lily’s Chocolate, and smashed through the plastic wrapping and plastic box containing the chocolate-covered caramels. I ended up needing to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide because he is a pretty small dog and had eaten so much chocolate, including erythritol in the Lily’s Chocolate, which is not good for dogs.

Because Finnegan ate the first Lily’s Chocolate bar I’d purchased, I had to go all the way back to Whole Foods (after cleaning up his chocolatey vomit) and buy a new one as a Christmas gift. While I was there, I saw that they were on sale (I hadn’t noticed that the first time). I was feeling so irritated about my lengthy journey to purchasing this chocolate, that I said to myself, “Well, if it’s that good, and it’s on sale, I’d might as well try it for myself!” So, I did. And as I mentioned earlier, I loved it.

If you try it and like it too, you have Finnegan to thank.

What’s Coming Next Year…

As I shared a few weeks ago in my monthly newsletter, there will be some changes taking place on the blog. First of all, I’ve made some alterations to the posting schedule. Because of my work shifts, I find that it is more practical (for cross posting on social media) to have posts up on Monday and Thursday mornings rather than Monday and Fridays. There will still be two posts per week, just on slightly different days.

The second change is the structure of the blog articles. “Roundup” style of posts I’ve been sharing (such as this one) are here to stay. Instead of coming out on Wednesdays, however, they will be released on Mondays under the category of “Monday Musings.” Topics will include the ones above (things I’ve been loving, shortcuts for a simpler life, healthy/happy/whole) and will cover things like intuitive eating and other wellness tips, little blurbs about my interests in minimalism, and other tidbits of my daily life and experiences that I think are worth sharing.

Thursday blog posts will be more structured, and will cover noteworthy topics in functional medicine/women’s health, as well as the usual intuitive eating and body image type posts. These slight changes in subject matter were informed by surveys I sent out this past year regarding content preferences of my followers not only on this blog, but also on the newsletter and on Instagram. I’m doing my best to strike a balance between what I like to write about, what I feel I have enough experience/expertise to write about, and what you all have said you like to read about. Overall, I think you will love the changes that are coming in 2021!

Weekly Word

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

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