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Right now, I'd like you to take out your journal (or online guide) and respond to the following:

Think about what takes away your energy and what gives you energy as you record responses to the following questions in your journal.

Write a list of everything that gives you energy, and a list of everything that drains your energy. Include all persons, places, things, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and foods. Then resolve to let go each week of one thing that drains your energy and add one thing that gives you energy.

Then share with your partner or friend or your group:

  1. What are the top three things you do that hold you back from your health and weight loss goals? These may include things like smoking, not getting enough sleep, not relaxing enough, excess sugar consumption, unconscious eating, choosing poor quality foods, eating late, skipping breakfast, and more.

  2. What are the top three emotions or mental habits that keep you from your health and weight loss goals? Is it putting things off, depression, low self-esteem, fear, anger, resentment, or something else?

  3. If you have any "toxic relationships" in your life right now? Do they serve a purpose for you? Is there a way you could give them up or change them? If so, how could you do that?

  4. How would your life be different without these behavioral habits, mental and emotional constructs, and relationships?

  5. Are you really too busy to change your habits and life? Do you spend hours in front of the TV, or on the computer? How much time would you have to connect with friends, find and prepare healthy food, exercise or relax if you took a "media fast?"

  6. What are some behaviors, habits, and relationships you could choose to engage in instead that would give you energy and health, mentally, spiritually, and physically?

  7. What motivates you in life? What makes you want to wake up each morning? What is your life's purpose?

  8. How does being overweight or ill diminish or detract from your life's purpose?

  9. How would following this program and getting well allow you to fulfill your life's purpose more effectively?

Each of us has unique reasons for wanting to create change in our health or life. There is no right or wrong reason, just what's most important to you.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

You have a fundamental need for joy in your life. Life without joy is overwhelming, overburdened, and oppressive. Studies have actually shown that the more joy we have in our lives, the more productive we are. I read an article in "US News and World Report" that said that corporations hire "joy consultants" to build up the joy in peoples’ lives so that employees can be more productive. It is true that you have more energy, more creativity, and more productivity when you have joy in your life.

In the short book of Philippians — only four chapters long — Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation in the Caribbean. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.

In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders that will help diffuse our discouragement and lift our depression. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the first three.

J: Jettison all regrets about your past.

“Jettison” means “to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.” Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. The Bible says to forget your regrets, because that's what God does — he chooses to forgive your mistakes once they're confessed. The starting point of joy is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” (GN).

O: Omit all worries about your future.?

If you’re going to enjoy the present, you must omit all worries about your future. Worry, hands-down, is the greatest killjoy of them all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time. Paul’s antidote are these verses: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). You can either worry or you can pray.

Y: Yield yourself to God's purpose.

If you’re just drifting, if you don’t know where you came from or where you’re going or why you’re here, of course you’re not going to have any joy in your life. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy.
Even when Paul had literally lost everything, there was one thing that could not be taken away from him — his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).

If you want to have a joy-filled life, you need to get in line with God’s purpose for your life. When you begin to live the purpose for which you are made, life makes sense, and joy is a lot more easily found.

Talk It Over

  • What are the things — people, circumstances, situations, or feelings — that are wearing you down and keeping you from living a joyful life?
  • What is the difference in happiness and joy?
  • What are you worried about? What do you need to do to release your worry?
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Pastor Rick Warren's radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America and designed for your daily quiet time. Love, learn, and LIVE the Word everyday with Daily Hope! Subscribe to the free Daily Hope Devotional or listen to today’s radio broadcast!

This ubiquitous nut offers a happy combination of versatility and nutrition.
The almond is no ordinary nut. And thanks to its flavor, nutritional power, and culinary flexibility, appreciation for almonds may be at an all-time high.

Once confined to hors d’oeuvre trays and trail mixes, almonds are now available in many forms, including almond flour, butter, and milk. The result? An array of delectable edibles brimming with health benefits.
Due to California’s drought, almonds are currently a bit pricey. So we’ve come up with a variety of recipes that use almonds judiciously and won’t break the bank.


Nuts:  When possible, choose whole almonds over chopped or sliced (more exposed surface area makes for a shorter shelf life).  For a deep, nutty flavor, try roasting raw nuts alone or with some olive oil and herbs.
Flour:  Also called almond meal, almond flour is ground from whole almonds. Traditionally used in baked goods, it is also perfect for thickening savory sauces or as a substitute for bread crumbs.
Butter:  A creamy paste made from ground nuts, almond butter can be used just like peanut butter. You can grind your own at many natural-food markets or purchase convenient no-stir versions at most stores.
Oil: When pressed, almonds make a smooth, vitamin-rich oil that’s as good for moisturizing your skin as it is for high-heat cooking — its smoke point is 420 degrees F.
Milk: Made from finely ground almonds and water, almond milk has a mild taste and a creamy texture, making it a nice substitute for cow’s milk. Looking to avoid the additives in commercial almond milk? Try making your own at home. (For a recipe, see below).
Cheese: Almonds make a slightly grainy, clean-tasting cheese that’s similar to ricotta. When fermented, almond cheese has a tangy flavor akin to feta.


  1. Thanks to their rich stores of magnesium and vitamins B and E, almonds are strong immune-system boosters.

  2. Like avocados and extra-virgin olive oil, almonds are an abundant source of mono-unsaturated fat.

  3. The phytonutrients in almond skins double the antioxidant power of the vitamin E in the meat of the nut.

  4. Like all nuts and seeds, almonds contain phytic acids, which can limit your body’s ability to digest proteins and break down starch into sugar. Since most of the phytic acid is found in the skin of almonds, some experts recommend removing the skins if you are having digestive difficulties (although remember that you’ll be removing key phytonutrients as well).

  5. Almonds naturally have enzyme inhibitors that can strain your digestive system. Soaking almonds in water for at least 18 hours decreases these enzyme inhibitors, making the nuts easier to digest and encouraging the production of other beneficial enzymes that help with nutrient absorption. The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends purchasing nut butters and flours made only from nuts that have been soaked.

Use seasoned almond flour instead of breadcrumbs to crust fish or chicken. Make a large batch of any of these seasoned flours and store in the refrigerator. 

Makes two servings
Preparation time: 10 to 20 minutes

½ cup seasoned almond crumbs (see variations below)
2 tilapia fillets

Italian Almond Crumbs
Makes ½ cup

½ cup almond flour
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried rosemary
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt

Cajun Almond Crumbs 
Makes ½ cup

½ cup almond flour
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Lemon-Pepper Almond Crumbs
Makes ½ cup

½ cup almond flour
Zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Curry Almond Crumbs
Makes 3/4 cup

  • - ½ cup almond flour

  • - 1 tbs. curry powder

  • - 1/4 cup grated unsweetened coconut

  • - ½ tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the almond-crumb ingredients together in a pie plate or a large shallow dish. Press the fish into the seasoning, turning it over to coat both sides. Bake the tilapia for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Alternatively, sauté the fillets in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, cooking them for about two to three minutes on each side, or until cooked through.


This creamy, comforting gratin is a cinch to make. If crème fraîche is not available, sub heavy whipping cream or sour cream.

Makes four to six servings
Preparation time: 60 to 70 minutes

  • - 1 large head of cauliflower, about 1½ pounds, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • - 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

  • - Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • - 1 8-ounce container of crème fraîche

  • - 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives

  • - 1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese, about 2 ounces

  • - 3/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In an 8-x-8-inch baking pan, toss the cauliflower with the oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Meanwhile, mix together the crème fraîche, green onions, and cheese. When the cauliflower is finished roasting, stir in the crème-fraîche mixture. Sprinkle with the almonds, and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the gratin is golden brown and bubbly.


Almond butter lends this hearty autumnal soup a velvety, creamy texture. Add chicken, lamb, beef, or pork, if you like. Or, for a vegan soup, use vegetable stock as a base.

Makes four to six servings
Preparation time: 50 minutes

  • - 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

  • - 1 cup diced yellow onion, about 1 medium onion

  • - ½ cup diced celery, about 2 stalks

  • - 1 cup diced carrot, about 1 large carrot

  • - 1 cup diced red bell pepper, about 1 pepper

  • - 4 cups cubed pumpkin

  • - 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • - 1 tbs. ground cumin

  • - 1 tsp. ground turmeric

  • - ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

  • - 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

  • - 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • - Salt to taste

  • - ½ cup almond butter

  • - 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

  • - Chopped fresh cilantro (optional garnish)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook the onions until they are slightly caramelized, about five minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and seasonings, and sauté for about 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to brown. Stir in the almond butter and stock until the mixture is smooth. Cover and allow the soup to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste and top the soup, if desired, with the cilantro.


  • - Unshelled almonds have the longest shelf life. Look for shells that are firm and have no signs of mold, stains, or splitting.

  • - Shelled almonds should be stored whole in a tightly sealed container in a cool place, such as the refrigerator or freezer.

  • - Almonds, which naturally contain high amounts of oil, should smell slightly sweet. If the nuts have a scent that is sharp or bitter, it means the oils within have turned rancid and the nuts must be discarded.

  • - When purchasing roasted almonds, choose “dry roasted” — which means they weren’t cooked in oil. This will help you avoid industrial vegetable oils and preservatives.

  • - Need to chop whole almonds? Use a chef’s knife or a food processor (a few pulses should do it — more than that, and you might end up with almond butter).

Not a fan of almond skins? Simply blanch the nuts in boiling water for one minute, rinse under cold water, and squeeze the almonds out of their newly shriveled skin.

Experience Life is an award-winning, whole-life health and fitness magazine that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks, and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit ExperienceLife.com to learn more.

Eating outside the home comes at a high price. We spend our hard-earned dollars upfront only to pay more at a later date due to hidden healthcare costs not seen on the menu! ...
Posted by Jerelyn

Sharing reinvented all-American dishes is ideal for any outdoor gathering. Or take this picnic on the road for a tailgate party, backyard barbecue, or and taking with you to the next big game or church supper....

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