Healthy Body

Healthy Body

Food & Fertility Series: What I Eat

July 1, 2016

Paleo Fertility Food Guide

Whether you are trying to have babies or not, hormone balance is INCREDIBLY important.

How do you know if you have un-balanced hormones? Here are a few hints:

  • You are moody a lot
  • Your weight fluctuates (and not necessarily because of changes in diet)
  • You have a lot of digestive issues
  • You have a low sex drive
  • You have un-reliable periods
  • You are tired all the time
  • You've experienced early hair loss or thinning

The foods that I am eating right now for fertility are the same foods I should be eating to solve any hormone balance issues. Strange coincidence? I think not.

Yes, eating them will help put my body in the best condition to conceive. They will help with morning sickness, cravings, food aversions, and varicose veins. And they will later make my pregnancy go smoother, my baby's health better and breast-feeding easier.

But they will also help boost metabolism and promote weight loss, combat stress and reduce inflammation, AND increase sex drive (which will, of course, also help with making babies too).

And before you wonder to yourself, the answer is NO. Eating these foods will not MAKE you get pregnant, as long as you are following birth control methods. Silly.

What we’re looking for in fertility and hormone-balancing food:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Long Chain Fatty Acids
  • Sources of Omega-3
  • Adaptogen Herbs

With that in mind, I’ve created a fertility food plan for myself. The plan is based on Weston A. Price’s fertility diet, but I’ve taken it down a couple notches, added a few of my own special touches, and tried to make it a little more realistic for people.

Without further ado, here it is…

EVERY DAY:

2 or more eggs, preferably from Pasture-raised chickens.

Where to get them: I love Vital Farms eggs because you can get them from most Whole Foods and Weseda Farms eggs from my favorite, Local Foods. But since it’s Farmer’s Market season, I highly recommend picking up a couple dozen from your local farmers.

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil, used in cooking, smoothies, or bone broth.

Where to get it: I love Dr. Bronner’s. You can order it at Thrive Market, pick it up at Whole Foods or order it online.

Pasture-Raised/Grass-Fed Beef, Lamb or Chicken.

Where to get it: Both Marianos and Whole Foods will carry some Grass-Fed meat. But if you live in Chicago, my market of choice is Local Foods as I wrote about in this post. Why grass-fed? I explain it all right here.

1 cup or more of bone broth, used as a morning drink in soups or in cooking.

Where to get it: My first recommendation would be to make your own (I will be showing you how in a future post). It's a lot less expensive and you have more control over the ingredients. But in the meantime, I’m a big fan of the Kettle & Fire brand and they are now offering it for a discounted price at Thrive Market.

Fermented everything: Beverages (Kefir, Kvass, KOMBUCHA!!), Vegetables and Condiments.

Where to get Kombucha: My two favorite Kombucha brands are GT (available at any Whole Foods, most Marianos, and some Jewels, and even starting to be available at cafes like Hannah's Bretzel) and Health-Ade (harder to find in the Midwest, but available at Fresh Market and recently spotted at Le Pain Quotidien). And get this, now there is even a starter kit that makes it really easy to make on your own.

Where to get Kefir: Available at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section next to the yogurt. Try to steer clear of the ones with lots of added sugar, and instead get plain WHOLE MILK kefir and add your own mix-ins or put it in a smoothie. And just like the kombucha, there is a cool culture kit to make your own.

Where to get Fermented Vegetables and Condiments: Naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut and carrots are becoming more and more widely available. Check out the refrigerated sections of Trader Joe's, Marianos and Whole Foods. One of my favorite brands is Bubbies.

Pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle it on your salads, make healthy cookies or bars, eat it straight, whatever floats your boat.

Where to get it: Most grocery stores will carry pumpkin seeds, but I highly recommend looking out for the sprouted nuts and seeds. Why sprouted? The process multiplies proteins, enzymes and minerals making food easier to digest and allow the nutrients to be more easily absorbed in the body. I love the Go Raw brand – available at Whole Foods, Marianos and Thrive Market.

2 Capsules of Fermented Cod Liver Oil every day OR 1 Teaspoon of Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

Where to get it: Green Pasture is the only brand I've ever found that carries the fermented kind. This is different than fish oil capsules; it's much more nutrient-dense and your body will absorb it MUCH BETTER. Here are the Capsules and here is the Oil.

1 Vitex pill.

            Where to get it: It’s actually pretty widely available at grocery stores, but if you want to order it online, this is the one I use. Bonus: totally affordable. 

EVERY WEEK

Seafood, 2-4 times/week (wild salmon, fish eggs, mollusks, shellfish, canned sardines, canned tuna).

  • Where to get it: Wild salmon as well as mollusks and shellfish is available at most grocery stores. My favorite canned fish brand is Wild Planet which you can get the cheapest from Thrive Market. I eat my sardine salads with this stuff at least one time a week. It’s my fast, cheap and easy way to get my seafood intake in. Don’t knock it till you try it J.

Liver, 1-2 times/week. Visit my Paleo Hormone Balancing Meatball post to better understand why you need liver for ideal hormone balance, and discover a really delicious way to get it into your diet.

  • Where to get it: Ask your butcher if he can put some aside for you if he doesn't already have it. Whole Foods keeps it in plastic containers in the refrigerated section next to the bacon. Keep in mind, though, just like any other animal protein, where it came from matters. Local Foods is a whole animal butcher so it keeps EVERYTHING from all the animals so you can choose your pick between Chicken livers, Pig livers or Cow livers. Stop making that face. It's worth it. Promise.

Superfood Smoothies packed with hormone-balancing nutrients like Goji Berries, Bee Pollen, Turmeric, Ginger, Camu Camu, Wheat Grass and Grass-fed Collagen Powder. I'll go into more details about superfoods in a later post, but I nudge you to try some in your next smoothie. You can actually feel their benefits happening right away, I think.

  • Where to get: Thrive Market is a great place to shop for discounted prices on superfoods like goji berries, cacao powder, maca and matcha. Otherwise, Whole Foods and Marianos both have sections in the store dedicated to these types of foods.
  • Where to get recipes: I have been posting fertility smoothies non-stop on my Healthy Stacey Instagram page. If you want to see more, follow me! (please 🙂

1 teaspoon Royal Jelly, 2-4 times/week. This stuff is gold. It is the Queen Bee's primary source of nutrition and the reason she lives longer, stronger and bigger than any of the other bees in the hive. (5-6 years vs. 30-40 days!!). With it she produces approximately 250,000 eggs in one season, producing as many as 200 eggs/day. Bonus: It’s mixed in with honey and tastes DELICIOUS. Every time I take it, I can’t believe it’s part of my “supplements.”

  • Where to get it: Not easy to find locally here in Chicago, unfortunately. So where else? Amazon. The brand in my link came recommended to me by a sweet old beekeeper named Bob that I met at the Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market.

p.s. Love reading reviews on Amazon like this, don’t you?

Lots and lots and lots of greens. No explaining necessary. You guys know the drill.

I’m trying to shorten these babies up a bit. I tend to go on and on and on. There’s just so much to say! This post was originally twice the length because I also was trying to explain why everything I was recommending was good for hormone balance. Instead, how ‘bout you guys send me an email if you’d like all that info as well and I’d be happy to provide it?

Alrighty. What do you guys think of all this? Are you overwhelmed? Are you excited to try some of it? Comment below…

Like what you read today? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,

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Healthy Body

I Stopped Taking My Birth Control

June 27, 2016

HealthyStaceySmile

I’ve been on birth control since I was 15. That means for 15 years my hormones have been controlled by a tiny little pill that I take every day.

When I started the little yellow pack all those years back, I was just a frustrated teenager with bad cramps, looking for anything that would make the pain go away. My gynecologist didn’t hesitate to put me on the pill, promising that would ease the pain and lessen the severity of my periods.

She was right. It worked.

Over the next 15 years, I became more in touch with my body. As we all do, I think.

  • I knew my hunger levels throughout the day.
  • I knew which foods I craved. And which ones made me feel bad.
  • I knew exactly how much wine I could drink before I entered the danger zone.
  • I knew that right before my period I would get sad (and emotional and sensitive and I-am-fat-and-ugly-and-unlovable…just kidding, kind of).
  • And I knew what I needed to do to make the pain/sadness/irritableness go away.

At 30, I felt very in tune with my body. So I, of all people, thought I had all my body’s “feels” down pat. But all that completely changed when I went off the pill.

Today, I’d like to share my experience with you. Whether you’ve considered going off of it because you have the heard the negative impacts it can have on our health and emotions, or you’re just starting to take the first steps to fertility, I hope this will help you better prepare for the experience.

More Hungry
I wrote a blog post a few years back about decreasing hunger levels in my late 20’s. I had assumed that, with age, your hunger decreases and mine had just hit that wall. As a child and as a teenager I was hungry ALL THE TIME. As children are, I suppose. I still loved food as an adult (obv), but a lot of time I would eat just because it was “time to eat;” not because I was hungry.

Now, I wake up ravenous. I can’t wait to get something in my belly. Once lunchtime hits, I once again CANNOT wait to eat. And you know how when you’re really hungry, food tastes better? Ya. Food totally tastes better off the pill! More crunchy, more sweet, more cheesy and more satiating. I swear it.

And BECAUSE I am more satiated, I find myself snacking less. When I eat, I REALLY eat. When I’m done, I’m done.

More…Ahem…Drive
I read somewhere once that women hit their sexual peak in their 30’s. So I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed when I hit mine and I wasn’t feeling this sudden surge of sexual confidence. But now I have to wonder – was it the pill that was holding me back?

I don’t want to get too personal on you here because it’s incredibly awkward and I am literally cringing as I type this. But just know that once I stopped the pill, I felt the surge. ALL the time. AT LEAST 3 times a day. Okay 5. More than that, I just feel sexier. Maybe one is the result of the other, but I can’t get over this feeling of being really happy with the way my body looks and feels right now.

More Clear Headed & Steady
This one is going to be the toughest to put into words. Because it’s more of a feeling than anything else. But I just feel more alive, more awake and more alert. More happy and less moody. Even-keeled is a good way to describe it.

Not that this is in any way unusual, but with my period on its way, I would have some pretty deep dips in my mood. I’d never get angry. Just sad and emotional. And things that would typically bother me a lot, I’m letting go easier.

Initial Adjusting
It would be remiss of me not to tell you that there will be some getting used to it in the very beginning. Your body has to readjust to its own hormone levels and this can be a bit jolting when we’re used to a prescribed level of hormones for so long. Along with all of the good stuff above, I also noticed a little nausea, slight cramping long before my period came and changes in body temperature. I would wake up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning with what felt like a hot flash. I run really cold so this was very odd to me. Without doing any research on this (VERY unlike me), I feel as though this makes perfect sense. Women going through menopause experience hot flashes because their hormones are changing. So why wouldn’t a woman in her 30’s who had just greatly affected her hormones feel the same? Oh. And the last and MOST annoying one – not knowing how long your period is and waiting for what seems like months for it to come (wondering if you’re pregnant or not the whole time EVEN THOUGH you’d taken multiple pregnancy tests that tell you otherwise).

That’s all she wrote for now. You can choose to take my experience with a grain of salt. And yes, it could be the placebo effect. I tend to be very sensitive to what I hear or read, and I knew to expect a change when I stopped the pill. But from everything people told me, it would be horrible. There would be terrible cramps and mood swings and emotions. And I gotta say, I had all of those things much worse when I was on it. I love my new feels. I think they’re pretty fantastic. And honestly, I have no desire to go back.

Like what you read today? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,

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Dry Body Brushing

November 11, 2015

HealthyStaceyHealthCoaching

For the last two months, I have been learning a whole lot about the human body (and OH what a body it is) through the tutelage of Carnegie Mellon University. No, I’m not a full-time student again (I wish). But I am working on becoming a certified health coach (Drop the mic – I know).

Lucky for me, my program has partnered with CMU for the science portion of the material. Which I LOVE because I know I'm getting a top notch education.

My time spent with this program is the same reason I haven’t been quite as consistent with my posts as I'd like to be. But DON’T WORRY. It’s only because I want to be a better blogger for you all. And maybe, eventually, a health coach to some of you. [Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.]

Our most recent lesson was on all of the body’s wonderfully marvelous I-can't-believe-we-were-born-this-way systems. But for whatever reason, the one that intrigued me the most was the Lymphatic System.

What is the Lymphatic System, you ask?

Short answer: The Lymphatic System is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.

Long answer: Our bodies don't function without our environment. Breathing, eating, pogo-sticking – we need our environment to do all of that. However, in those exchanges, we have to be careful of foreign invaders that might enter the body during such activites. And sometimes, we have to remove them before they cause any real damage. 

That's where the lymphatic system comes in. It works together with the cardiovascular system to transport excess fluids away from body tissues. Once fluid enters the lymphatic system it is called lymph. Lymph travels through lymph vessels and passes through these neat pockets called lymph nodes which filter and clean the lymph. On top of that, the lymph ALSO transports absorbed fat from the digestive system to the body cells. 

Okay, now we got the definition down, let's get to why I thought it was so interesting. 

When the lymphatic system gets congested, it can't eliminate waste efficiently. If it can't eliminate waste efficiently, your body doesn't respond well. It can become inflamed (soreness, stiffness, bloating, excess water weight, breast swelling or soreness with cycles, swollen glands, extra belly fat, headaches, constipation), and sometimes, if it's serious enough, lead to disease.

On the other side, though, when things are working as they should, we’ve got smoother softer skin, better digestion, increased circulation and hard-working kidneys. Woohoo!

I was curious. What can we do to make sure our lymphatic system is working at its best so we can not only avoid inflammation, but so that we can have the increased benefits of an ideal system?

Low and behold, near the end of the unit, I saw this:

The lymph doesn’t move on it’s own. You must move it through activities like exercise, massage and dry body brushing. 

Huh? What’s dry brushing? Is it expensive? Is it time consuming? How do I do it? I want one!

The answers…are below.

What is dry body brushing?

Dry body brushing is exactly as it sounds. It literally consists of taking a brush (a natural one; not a synthetic one) to your body, and brushing it towards the heart in long stroking motions, stimulating the process of lymph circulation. One third of your body's toxins are excreted through the skin. Dry brushing, therefore, helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin.

Is it expensive?

NO. It’s the cost of a natural bristle brush with a long handle (so you can really get back there). I bought mine at Whole Foods for $6.

Is it time consuming?

No. You can do it really quick – like 5 minutes quick. Or, if you have a little more time, you can spend a leisurly 20 minutes brushing your entire body. I highly reccommend doing it in the morning before you shower, as it can be pretty invigorating to the skin and the entire body. Whoo. What a rush.

How do I do it?

I took my lesson from reading a few different blogs, and watching this Youtube video. Here's the gist:

1. Starting at the feet, brush up in long strokes, brushing a few times with each section of skin. With every stroke of the brush, follow with the other hand to keep the lymph flowing up. 

2. THIS IS KEY: Always brush up towards the heart/chest where the lymph system drains.

3. Next, go to your arms. Start at your hands, brushing towards your heart/chest. Pay close attention when you get to your armpit, as there are more lymph nodes in your armpit than in other areas of your body. 

4. Tummy, next. This time do circular movements. This is where it's really going to help your digestion. 

5. Lastly – and my personal favorite – your back. Brush upwards towards your heart and love every moment of that scratch-my-own-back experience. Feels aaahmazing. 

My experience.

As of this writing, I've only been doing dry brushing for about a week. But I can say, without a doubt, that my skin is already so much smoother and softer. Which, at this time of the year, is a miracle for my dry-as-a-bone skin. Secondly, I have started to notice a difference in my KP – a skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris that causes rough patches and dry red acne-like bumps on the skin. I've lived with this ugly thing forever and tried EVERYTHING to eliminate it but nothing works. If this dry brushing thing does the trick, it is TOTALLY worth it for that alone. Lastly, I notice an immediate burst of energy after I do it – which is why it's ideal to do first thing in the morning. Oh, and I almost forgot, it just feels so damn good. 

Interested in giving it a try with me? Awesome. Dry body brushing buddies! (high five) 

Or maybe you just think somebody else might benefit from Dry Body Brushing. See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,

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Healthy Body

Square Meals + Turmeric Egg Scramble Recipe

September 21, 2015

TurmericScrambledEggs_HealthyStacey

About 14 years ago, I read a book called “The Abs Diet.” As many diet books did for me when I was only 18, I hung on to every word and followed every rule.

One of the biggest rules of the Abs Diet was:

Eat six times a day.

I was to alternate larger meals with small snacks (i.e. a snack two hours before lunch, another one two hours before dinner, and one more two hours after dinner).

Each meal must contain at least two of the 12 Abs Diet Powerfoods, such as almonds, beans, spinach, instant oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter, raspberries, olive oil and whole grains.

Like any diet, my Abs Diet obsession was short-lived. I found another shiny new diet (I believe the next book I read was “Skinny Bitch”) and moved on.

But for whatever reason, one thing I clung on to was that first rule.

Eat six times a day.

But why?

Well, honestly, I loved the idea of anybody giving me permission to snack more, graze more, and never stop eating.

But doing a little research (both self-experimentation and reading) has caused me to really question this conventionalism.

The reason that everybody from Shape Magazine to the school nutritionist are vying for small meals throughout the day is to combat the cranky, hangry blood sugar swings that so many people experience. They want you to consume food regularly to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

However, our blood sugar levels wouldn’t be so volatile if we just ate real, unprocessed foods. When you eat tons of sugar, your blood sugar levels spike. When your body has to exert a lot of energy to keep the blood sugar levels from skyrocketing, the blood sugar plummets.

When you’re eating foods that aren’t high in sugar, you no longer HAVE TO eat every couple of hours.

Brussels_healthystacey

In fact, square meals are much better for you.

Why? Well, every time you eat, your body has to process your food. When you eat continuously throughout the day (nuts, crackers, chips, etc.), your body can’t work fast enough to get through all of it.

When you eat three meals a day, it has plenty of time to process. Waiting till you are hungry before you eat enables your body to metabolize much better.

Also, because of the snackers that we are, many times our body stops understanding what it feels like to be hungry.

It’s 10 am? I’m feeling peck-ish. It’s 1:00? I need something sweet. It’s 3 pm? I need to get me some popcorn to get me through this meeting. It’s 5 pm? I’m FAMISHED. Let me snack on these chips before dinner.

Your body doesn’t know how to be hungry anymore!

We can actually feel moderately hungry and moderately full all at the same time. 

REMINDER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR, A NUTRITIONIST OR A DIETITICIAN. JUST A GIRL WHO LIKES TO USE FOOD TO KEEP HER FEELING GOOD. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING CHANGING YOUR DIET.

All of this brought me to give it a try. For a few weeks – not really a definitive start and finish – I would make a promise to myself to make my breakfast, lunch and dinner a little bigger and fuller; and my snacks non-existent.

Believe me, it pained the snacker in me to do this. I have a whole drawer of nuts, seeds, coconut chips and jerky and an entire pocket in my purse dedicated to Lara Bars and Ginger Candy that will be very unhappy with me if I find this to be true. But I think it’s worth a try….

SteakSalad_HealthyStacey

My Original Eating Schedule

  • Smoothie at 7:30 AM
  • Hard Boiled Eggs at 10:00 AM
  • Desk snacking until lunch time (i.e. nuts, seeds, coconut shreds, jerk)
  • Salad with protein at 12:00 PM
  • Apple or Whole Milk Yogurt at 2:30/3:00 PM
  • More desk snacking
  • Fridge Grazing at 6:00 PM
  • Dinner at 7:30/8:00 PM

My New Eating Schedule – 1 Week Later:

  • Big Ol' Omelet with half an avocado at 7:30 AM
  • Salad with protein at 12:00 PM
  • SOME desk snacking (I'm not going to be a Nazi about it)
  • Dinner at 7:30 PM (with added protein)

How I Feel:

  • I haven't felt that 10:30/11:00 AM grumbly hunger pangs.
  • I am enjoying my meals much more (food tastes so much better when you're hungry for it).
  • And I am recognizing how much my constant snacking at work was much more mental than it ever was a physical hunger. I snack when I'm nervous. I snack when I'm bored. I snack when I'm stressed. Time to dig deeper, Stacey! Figure out the root of the problem rather than eating it.
  • Last but definitely not least, I've felt a marked difference in my digestion.

Okay, now for the fun part. Recipe time!!

I don’t know about you, but the part of the day I find myself snacking the most is mid-morning. Around 10:30 am, my stomach is grumbling so loud, the Account Team on the third floor can hear it (I’m on the second floor).

Which is why I felt it fitting to give you a really good hearty breakfast to start your day with – and keep you going – until it’s time for a hearty hearty lunch.

Turmeric Egg Scramble Recipe

TurmericScramble_HealthyStacey

I know what you’re thinking. Scrambled eggs? Real original Stacey. But I actually believe scrambled eggs can be very difficult and take quite a bit of technique. So I've gone into great detail below to show you how I make MY scrambled eggs. Oh. And I added my favorite anti-inflammatory ingredient, TURMERIC! What a great way to start the day. Hope you like them as much as I do. Eat well my friends.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 -2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 2 Cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • Pinch of S&P
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes (the "cherries" on top, get it?!)

Directions:

  1. Whisk your eggs with the pinch of S&P and turmeric and set bowl aside.
  2. Saute your chopped onions in your fat of choice until they are just a little bit softer (you will be continuing to cook them with the eggs, so don’t overdo it here).
  3. Add in your sliced mushrooms (and more fat if you need it). Let them sauté for another 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms have browned slightly (again, don’t overdo it here, the hot eggs will cook them even more).
  4. Add another knob of butter or ghee to the pan (don’t be scared of the good fats).
  5. Pour the egg mixture in the pan and move it around a bit at first.
  6. Then, let them sit for about 10 seconds, and then move them around again. (It took me years to perfect this very scientific technique).
  7. Repeat until they begin to set. And then stir continuously until they are cooked as you like them. (My opinion: I always underdo it a little because it inevitably will sit on the hot pan and continue to cook while I get myself together before it ever makes it to the cool plate).
  8. Top with sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes and you've got yourself one awesomely delicious SQUARE MEAL 🙂

Like what you read today? Think somebody else would like to know more about eating square meals or slowing their roll with snacking? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Can't get enough of all this healthy stuff? Then sign up for the newsletter where it says "Enter Your Email" at the top of this page. Too much of a commitment? That's cool. I also have a sweet Facebook page, deep-thoughted Twitter page, food-pornish Instagram handle, and recipe-filled Pinterest page.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature