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Local business owner’s health journey serves up inspiration

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Most of us can probably say that we've started a new year with a goal of losing weight and/or getting healthier — I know I have. But one of our neighbors actually did it and I've been witness to her year long journey in weight loss.

Meet Ashley Copeland, owner and founder of Ozark Nutrition and Energy here in West Plains. Ashley and her husband, Harold, jointly operate the business and offer delicious and healthy drinks and food for energy. The storefront opened in May 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, but for Ashley, the dream began when the weight started to come off.

“It wasn't until my scale stopped reading my weight that I knew I had to do something," she said. So she began to count calories in January 2019 and by May, she had lost 65 pounds. In June she decided to go ahead with a weight loss surgery to speed things along and she lost 60 more pounds by December.

One full year of hard work, winning the battle she tried so many times before. Once Ashley found the confidence, she knew she wasn't done yet. She still had more weight to lose while maintaining and toning, but it was harder than ever before.

She looked into healthy drink options that would give her energy with little calories, what she found and now offers in the store: loaded teas. Only 24 calories, and with no sugar, these teas are said to give you the energy your body needs along with vitamins and a metabolism booster.

I love her teas, and was shocked to find out they had no sugar in them.

Ashley loves to cook. Being raised in Louisiana where Cajun cooking is the norm, her style of cooking is now “Cajun healthy.” She credits her mom and grandmother for teaching her the skills of traditional cooking which she still uses today, only healthier and with fewer calories.

The Copelands have been busy adding healthy foods to their menu at the store, like donuts, waffles and meal replacements. Yes, you read that right, healthy donuts and waffles!

This year they plan to add protein bowls to the mix. After losing 200 pounds to date, the next challenge for Ashley is her first weightlifting competition in May. She's found a new love for weightlifting and running, and both are paying off!

So, don't ever think you can't do it because you can, and thanks to Ashley for allowing me to share her story, one I know will inspire others!

Be sure to stop by Ozark Nutrition and Energy, 1448 W. 8th St., and say hi. Don't forget the loaded teas, they will change your life too! For more details, they have a Facebook page @ozarknutritionengergy.

Ashley wanted to share her recipe for breakfast muffins, because breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. 

BREAKFAST MUFFINS

Source: Ashley Copeland

INGREDIENTS

5 100-calorie biscuits

8 ounces fat free cream cheese

8 ounces fat free Cheddar cheese

4 ounces turkey sausage

8 ounces liquid egg whites

DIRECTIONS

First thing we'll do is grab a regular size muffin tin and spray all our inserts with non-stick cooking spray.

Now take your 100-calorie biscuits (I use Pillsbury Butter Tastin') and split each biscuit in half. These are layered so you should be able to peel them apart rather easily. Now we'll take our 10 biscuit halves and lay them in the bottom of each of our muffin molds. Use your fingers and shape it to the bottom and a little up the sides of each tin to create a cup shaped pastry at the bottom. 

Now the filling: Grab a large mixing bowl and toss in your cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, and egg whites. Mix together with spoon until its all thoroughly combined. The fat free cream cheese will mix much easier if it’s rooms temperature, if not microwave for 30 seconds. Once mixed, season with salt and pepper.

Now we’ll just take our egg mixture and fill each of our muffin tins with it. You should have enough to fully fill 10 of your muffin cups.  

And finally, we'll take the turkey sausage and evenly decorate the muffins.

Now, time to bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes. Once finished, let them cool for a few minutes before serving. Each individual muffin is only 122 calories, 2 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbs, so you have nothing to feel guilty about!

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