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Choose Thankfulness

I was stricken with sadness yesterday when I heard the news that a friend of mine had a son who passed away. It completely caught me off guard and left me at a loss for any type of comforting word or gesture. I followed this friend on Facebook and was utterly impressed and overwhelmed at her thankfulness for the community she had surrounding her. Her faith is strong and her friends are making sure she is being cared for.

My older sister underwent a double mastectomy yesterday to get rid of the cancer she has lurking in her left breast. When I asked her how she was doing prior to the surgery and post-op, she was extremely grateful for the surgeons who can help her heal and guide her on the road to success. She leaned HEAVILY on her faith, friends and family to get her through the tough times.

Tomorrow I get induced and will be delivering our 3rd baby girl into the world. I am extremely grateful for growing a healthy baby, the friends who have stepped up to help and encourage me along the way with meal trains and last minute errands, and family who have pulled together to take care of our other two daughters while we welcome the newest addition to our new family of 5! I am extremely grateful for the love and support I continue to receive.

In each of these scenarios/situations, we have a choice. We can allow our environment and the circumstances around us to dictate our feelings or we can make the choice to be grateful and see the good in every situation. Each situation above is difficult in its own way…but the choices we make are all similar. Losing a child is something unimaginable. I am not saying that we should “move on” and get over our feelings. I am saying that with each scenario that happens in our life, we have the choice to go down the dark black hole of sorrow or we can choose to help ourselves get through it with the help of professional help, friends and family.

Find gratitude and you find true freedom.

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The Days Before Delivering Your Little One

Stuck, Trapped, Inevitable, Worrisome, Excited, Nervous…

It seems that the days before giving birth to a new little addition to the family can cause some pretty intense feelings…and as you can see from my personal list, the feelings aren’t always positive. In fact, I feel like this subject isn’t talked about as much as it should be. I know when I was feeling this way with my first born before giving birth, I felt guilty admitting I felt this way.

What would others think of me?

Does this mean I am not excited to have a family?

Am I alone with these thoughts?

As a first time momma, I wish the “seasoned” mother would have given me the advice I needed…such as:

These feelings are “normal,” Others have felt the same thing, the feelings shall pass and if they don’t, then you can worry…

Having a baby, raging hormones, and the inevitable change to life as you have always known it can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing that there are support systems out there, other mommas ready to help, and just an overall feeling that your thoughts are “normal” can truly make it a much easier, healthier transition to motherhood. I have attached some websites that I feel are beneficial to coping mechanisms when struggling with a bit of “depression.” These are sites that I have sought out, taken advice from and feel confident you too can utilize them for your own benefit.

  1. http://www.ppdil.org/2015/04/postpartum-anxiety-or-normal-new-mom-fears/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17iq4Q2C-_uYQ4_-LQHgElI37o0D5-lg_-9oysQzaUR2RoEluw9pE8aAgvTEALw_wcB
  2. http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a4591/pregnant-depressed/
  3. http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety-during-pregnancy-postpartum/
  4. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/parenting/depression-during-a-pregnancy?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17vkPVypofzEnmB7LsO-9Em36LIuRgCqnrc2sNAQaRDkytA_UI_rt0aAglAEALw_wcB

 

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The End Days of Pregnancy

I am nearing the last  two weeks of pregnancy and the desire to have this baby sooner than later gets stronger and stronger with each passing moment. I find myself feeling trapped and at a loss of control when it comes to my own body. Some may call it a depression, I feel it is more of a fear of the unknown. When is this baby coming, will everything go as planned, will the baby be okay, will I be okay? It is a series of questions I feel most pregnant women go through as they near the end. One thing I have learned is that when it comes to pregnancy, anything is “normal.” By this I mean, feelings you have and experience have typically happened to other expectant mommas. Don’t get me wrong, if you are feeling like you could harm yourself and/or your unborn child, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should never feel like you are ready to put yourself or others in harms way. I am merely talking about the feelings pregnant women get just before the “big day.”

I know deep down that I will be fine and everything will go smoothly, I just don’t like the unknown…the possibility of doom. If you are feeling this way or have negative feelings about what you are going through, I encourage you to check out these sites where help is just a click away and advice is freely given.

  1. https://www.beststart.org/resources/ppmd/TakeCareMentalHealth_EN_rev.pdf
  2. http://www.parenting.com/article/trimester-by-trimester-guide-to-your-emotions
  3. http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-difference-between-postpartum-depression-normal-new-mom-stress
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/23/pregnancy-first-trimester-symptoms
  5. https://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-depression

 

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Let’s Talk Dental Health

It was a SHOCK to me when I found out that my first born was late to the game of getting her teeth checked by the dentist. I thought for sure waiting until she was almost 4 years of age was “safe” and what every other parent did. What I didn’t realize is that all of my other mommy friends had been taking their littles to the dentist starting at a very young age…say…18 months. YIKES! This made me think and reevaluate when the right time to take my second born would be. I did some research and found some answers to many of my unanswered questions.  What better way than to compile all of my questions and sought out answers here to help someone else who may have those same questions.

  1. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

2.  When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

3.  Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

4.  Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.  Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

5. How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

 

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Healthy Halloween Treats

If you know my household, you know that I am pretty crazy when it comes to eating clean and making sure we get all of our daily fruits and veggies in. It is so important that kids get a balanced diet and plenty of exercise in a day. I have created a list of healthy holiday treats that will fancy any toddler/preschooler/school-age child/adult. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

 

Halloween Yogurt Bark

 PREP TIME
TOTAL TIME
author: Fork & Beans
serves: Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 (5.3oz) cartons of nondairy yogurt (preferably orange-colored)
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (optional)
  • ¼ c. blueberries
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • ½ yellow nectarine
  • Monster Googly Eyes
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the yogurt cartons together. If using the coconut oil, add now. Pour into the pan.
  3. Top with the sliced kiwi, nectarine, blueberries, and googly eyes.
  4. Place in freezer until set.
  5. Cut into pieces and allow the little ones to choose their own yogurt bark.
 *I used Silk yogurt alternative but you are free to use whatever nondairy yogurt is your favorite. There really is a lot of freedom with this Halloween Yogurt Bark idea so have fun with it and play around. Use the ingredients you love but just make sure that it has a Halloween flair!

 

Presentation is everything! Stack pineapple, orange slices and whipped cream or yogurt to create a healthier take on candy corn.

Halloween Fruit Kabobs

1.For the marshmallows, use a black food coloring marker to draw a ghostly face onto each marshmallow. (This is a great task for older kids to help with!)  Let the marshmallows dry for a few minutes before using.

2. Wash and cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces.  Add a strawberry, piece of melon and then a ghost marshmallow to the skewer.  Repeat the pattern until you are at the top.

Jack-o-Lantern Stuffed Peppers

These festive Stuffed Peppers are perfect for Halloween!

 Course Main Course
 Prep Time 25 minutes
 Cook Time 35 minutes
 Total Time 1 hour
 Servings 4 servings, 1 bell pepper each
 Calories 426 kcal
 Author Beachbody

Ingredients

  • 4 medium orange bell peppers
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. raw 93% lean ground turkey
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • Ground black pepper to taste; optional
  • 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce, no sugar added
  • 1 cup black beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Slice stem end off peppers. (Reserve for later use.) Remove seeds and veins from peppers. Cut a jack-o-lantern face out of one side of each pepper. Stand peppers upright in baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add turkey; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until almost browned.
  5. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  6. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  7. Add chili powder, cumin, pepper (if desired), tomato sauce, and beans; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Add rice; mix well.
  9. Fill peppers with turkey mixture. Top with reserved stem end of peppers Add water to the baking dish. Cover with foil.
  10. Bake peppers for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
  11. Remove stem top of peppers, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  12. Replace tops and serve.
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Over-Scheduling Your Child

We have all done it. I know that with my youngest, between play dates and extra-curriculars, we were always on the go. I dealt with meltdowns, tantrums, etc. just to fulfill the daily activities I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love to stay busy, but when it came to my second daughter, I decided to change the schedule up a bit. We have played more at home, said “no” to more play dates than “yes,” gone to less scheduled activities and enjoyed being each others’ company. The conclusion I have come to is that tantrums are less frequent, meltdowns are non-existent, and the one-on-one time I am getting with my second born is priceless.

I’m not saying that my parenting technique is the best that is out there…I am merely stating what I have witnessed between the two extremely different approaches I have taken with my own two daughters. I encourage you to take a moment and think about your child’s life. If it’s hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it’s overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.

Things we enjoy: Riding a bike, taking a walk, playing a game, listening to music, or just doing nothing for a while. I have noticed that it gives my kids some much-needed downtime. And never forget how important it is for kids to simply get together to play. Kids need time to just be kids.

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Intentional Nutrition with Kids

Family meals should feel more like bonding opportunities than chores or ordeals. But to make mealtime more positive, you have to serve foods that both meet your kids’ nutritional needs and are tasty enough for children to actually eat and enjoy.

Proper nutrition involves more than fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Scott Cohen, a pediatrician, father and author of “Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.” He says DHA is another critical component. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to brain development and cognition.

“Eighty-five percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life,” Cohen says. Infants receive vital nutrients through  breastfeeding and fortified formula, but their supply dwindles when children begin eating solid food.

In fact, toddlers only average 25 percent of the recommended daily DHA intake, which is 70 to 100 milligrams. It can be easy to reach the allowance, but DHA-rich foods aren’t popular items on toddler’s plates. Major sources include fish, such as tuna, salmon and trout.

To improve your child’s nutrition, Cohen recommends a five-item nutrition checklist:

1. Find a DHA source that works for your family

Increasing DHA in your child’s diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Cohen recommends trying DHA-friendly options, such as fish, or DHA-fortified foods such as pasta and milk. One size doesn’t fit all. Any way toddlers can get it is good.

2. Say cheese

Toddlers should consume two to three dairy sources each day for strong bones, muscles and teeth. Common child favorites include milk, yogurt and cheese, but fortified orange juice can also do the trick.

3. Concentrate on protein

A lot of kids don’t like typical protein sources. Look at protein alternatives instead of battling over eggs, fish or meat your picky eater won’t try. Soy products and beans are subtle substitutes.

4. Teach healthy habits

While each meal can be a step in the right nutritional direction, look at the big picture. It’s more important to teach healthy eating habits than to concentrate on volume. Proper routines set children up for a lifetime of nutrition success.

5. Mix it up

Introduce a variety of food to children beyond standard favorites. Offer three or four different options in the hope that they will eat one of them.  Don’t give up if children resist at first. It can take 10 to 12 tries before they develop preferences. They might like it next week. The bottom line is not to stress too much. Every healthy child grows, no matter what.

 

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The Importance of Kids Napping

My kids have always been great sleepers…I tend to say it’s because they both have hypotonia (low muscle tone) and that causes them to sleep well. Maybe that is the reason, or maybe it is because I take a “no excuses” approach to nap time and the importance of it. I carve out time in the day where my girls (ages 5.5 years and 3 years) must take a nap to rejuvenate themselves. Sometimes I think maybe I should let up a bit and then I am reminded that them resting for a length of time each day is of utmost importance for their growing and developing bodies and minds. This information, found from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/naps.html, further proves my thoughts and theories on kids napping. I encourage you to read through the site and familiarize yourself with the importance of sleep in growing young children.

Sleep Needs by Age (Taken directly from kidshealth.org)

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much daytime sleep kids need. It all depends on the age, the child, and the sleep total during a 24-hour period. For example, one toddler may sleep 13 hours at night with only some daytime catnapping, while another gets 9 hours at night but takes a solid 2-hour nap each afternoon.

Though sleep needs are highly individual, these age-by-age guidelines give an idea of average daily sleep requirements:

Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day. Younger infants tend to sleep on and off around the clock, waking every 1 to 3 hours to eat. As they approach 4 months of age, sleep rhythms become more established. Most babies sleep 9 to 12 hours at night, usually with an interruption for feeding, and have 2 to 3 daytime naps lasting about 30 minutes to 2 hours each.

6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day. This usually includes two naps a day, which may last 20 minutes for some babies, for others a few hours. At this age, infants may not need to wake at night to feed, but may begin to experience separation anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours. Young toddlers might still be taking two naps, but naps should not occur too close to bedtime, as they may make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep at night.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.

School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.

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Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

I take great pride in staying healthy but when I pregnant, it seems to be more difficult than when I am not. I am fighting cravings, obstacles with what I can and cannot eat, making sure to get enough water in daily, etc. It can be downright difficult and overly exhausting. Wouldn’t it be easier to just eat whatever sounds good?

The answer is yes, BUT, feeding your body right during pregnancy is almost MORE important than feeding your body right without growing a human.  Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to your baby’s growth and development. In order to get the nutrients you need, you must eat from a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products. Typically, you will need to consume an extra 300 calories a day.

Sample Daily Menu

The following sample menu will give you some idea of what a pregnant woman should typically consume in a day for a healthy diet during pregnancy. Three small, but balanced, meals and three light snacks throughout the day are a good rule of thumb to ensure you and your baby’s nutritional needs are met.

Breakfast: Oatmeal cereal, banana, 1 slice whole wheat toast, 2 tsp jam, 1 cup skim milk

Snack: 1 cup yogurt, grapes

Lunch: Turkey (if deli meat, do not eat cold – heat to steaming to avoid Listeria) and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, raw carrot sticks, pear, and 1 cup skim milk

Snack: Raw veggies and low-calorie dip

Dinner: 4 oz chicken, 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup veggies, 1 cup skim milk

Snack: fresh fruit or low-fat frozen yogurt

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Healthy Dinner Options For the Picky Eater

If you have a child like mine in the house, then you know how difficult it is to get them to eat a balanced meal…let alone a balanced diet. I have found some healthy “go-to” recipes that my picky eater will devour. I have compiled a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu along with a dessert and snack option. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Breakfast:

Vanilla Yogurt Bowl

This is no ordinary bowl of yogurt!
 Prep Time 10 minutes
 Total Time 10 minutes
 Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  •  cup reduced fat (2%) plain yogurt
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology
  • 5 medium strawberries , chopped
  • ½ medium banana , chopped
  • 1 Tbsp . sliced raw almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine yogurt and Shakeology in a small bowl; mix well.
  2. Divide yogurt mixture evenly into two medium serving bowls.
  3. Top each bowl evenly with strawberries, banana, and almonds.

 

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 354
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 20 mg
Sodium: 286 mg
Carbohydrates: 48 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sugars: 26 g
Protein: 26 g

Lunch:

Edamame and Radish Salad with Avocado

 Prep Time 10 minutes
 Total Time 10 minutes
 Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic , finely chopped
  • 1 tsp . finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp . raw honey
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp . olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp . fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
  • Hot water
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame , thawed
  • 3 medium green onions , chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley , chopped
  • 8 medium radishes , thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 medium avocado , chopped
  • 2 tsp . sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. To make dressing, combine garlic, ginger, honey, vinegar, oil, and lime juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper if desired; whisk to blend. Set aside.
  2. Place edamame, green onions, parsley, radishes, arugula, and avocado in a medium bowl; toss gently to blend.
  3. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to blend.
  4. Top with sesame seeds.
  5. Divide evenly between four serving bowls.

 

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 263
Total Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 89 mg
Carbohydrates: 23 g
Fiber: 13 g
Sugars: 7 g
Protein: 11 g

 

Dinner:

Steak Fajitas

  Prep Time 20 minutes
 Cook Time 18 minutes
 Total Time 38 minutes
 Servings 4 servings, 2 fajitas each

Ingredients

  •  tsp . olive oil
  • 2 medium green (red or yellow) bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion , sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 1 lb . raw extra-lean beef sirloin , cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1 tsp . ground chili powder
  • 1 tsp . ground cumin
  • 1 tsp . crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • ½ cup fresh salsa
  • 8 6- inch corn tortillas , warm
  • 4 Tbsp . reduced-fat (2%) plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add bell peppers and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent and peppers are tender.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Add beef, chili powder, cumin, pepper flakes, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
  5. Add salsa; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through.
  6. Evenly top each tortilla with beef mixture, yogurt, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice

Desserts:

Slow Cooker Baked Apples

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings5servings, 1 apple each

Ingredients

  • 5 medium Cortland (or Honey Crisp, Macintosh or Mutsu) apples
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup dry old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp . ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp . pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • 2 tbsp . organic grass-fed butter , (or extra-virgin organic coconut oil)
  • ¾ cup water

Instructions

  1. Core apples using an apple corer (or sharp knife).
  2. Add water to a 3-quart slow cooker and carefully place apples in slow cooker so that they are standing upright.
  3. Combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and butter in a small bowl; mix with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Fill apples evenly with oat mixture.
  5. Cook on low for 2 hours, or until apples are fork tender. Remove apples from slow cooker. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 251
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Sodium: 134 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugars: 29 g
Protein: 3 g

Snack:

Maple Chai Roasted Chickpeas

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 38 minutes

 Total Time 48 minutes
 Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, dried
  • 1 Tbsp . olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp . pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp . ground ginger
  • ½ tsp . ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp . ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp . ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • ¼ tsp . ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine chickpeas, oil, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl; toss gently to blend.
  3. Place chickpeas on large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 to 38 minutes, shaking baking sheet every 10 minutes, until brown and crunchy.

Maple Chai Roasted Chickpeas

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 151
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 477 mg
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 6 g