If there's one thing I've realized as I've gotten older it's this: food has a lot to do with my energy level. Obviously, sleep does, too, and a host of other factors, but what I eat is a big part of the equation. For years, my low-energy solution was a coffee and some sort of sugary baked good (more than likely a chocolate chip cookie). The only problem was, after the sugar rush, I immediately felt miserable as my energy–and mood–crashed.

Recently, as we've been trying to eat more healthfully, I've been paying attention to blood sugar levels. Instead of eating three big meals a day, I'm eating smaller meals, packed with vegetables and fruits and proteins. And my snacks in between–rather than cookies or pastries–usually consist of roasted almonds or sprouted toast with avocado or a piece of fruit with some almond butter. I'm realizing that the more steadily I eat, the more energy I have. And most importantly of all, the less sugar I eat, the better I feel. Period. As a former sweets ADDICT, it's amazing that I can admit this. But I really love the way I feel without it, so bring on the nuts, fruits, and veggies!

One of my favorite things as a cook is to throw together a meal based on what's inside my fridge. (I know, I know...for some people, that's your worst nightmare!) I like the challenge and actually, some of my best dishes have been inspired this way. I went scavenging in my fridge the other day, and found a bag of baby spinach, some roasted chicken breasts (cooked the day before), some leftover quinoa, and some chickpeas. And given that citrus fruits are amazing right now–especially my favorite, Cara Cara oranges–I threw in a couple of oranges for good measure. I tossed it all together, along with a tangy vinaigrette made with white Balsamic vinegar, and the result was a salad as beautiful as it was flavorful. And best of all, I felt like a million bucks afterward. I'll take feeling this good over a cookie any day.