Join me on Saturday August 11th from 11am-12pm for an interactive workshop on feeling your best through good gut fuel. We will spend the morning at the vibrant and inspiring Naive restaurant for a discussion on ingredients, tips and tricks for healthy digestion over a fresh and delicious snack and drink. Workshop attendees will also take home a sampling of digestion friendly products such as matcha, nut butter, collagen peptides and adaptogens. Click below to reserve your spot!
Could taking a food break during a flight help with jet lag and digestive woes?
(This article was originally written for and published on The Glassy, an online publication for the wellness minded traveler)
I remember my first trip overseas in college: I drank endless bottles of cheap pinot grigio and ate ravioli for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all while studying landscape and architecture in Italy (and not getting very much sleep). At the time I thought my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was a sheer stroke of unlucky genetics, and that living with unpredictable and painful stomachaches were just something I had to suck up and get over.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that my digestive issues can not only be mitigated, but almost completely controlled by diet and lifestyle. This shift has motivated my constant research and experimentation with the latest and greatest in digestive health. Which was when, while prepping for a trip to Mustique, fasting during travel for digestive benefits landed on my radar.
Yes, not eating when you’re in transit is officially trending. From bloggers like Lee from America to publications such as Shape, major players in the wellness world have been talking up taking a food break as a way to reap healthy benefits. And it turns out that the practice has some science world backing, too: One study found that fasting positively improves IBS symptoms, while a team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center discovered that it can mitigate the ominous and seemingly inevitable plague of jet lag.
From bloggers like Lee from America to publications such as Shape, major players in the wellness world have been talking up taking a food break as a way to reap healthy benefits.
Of course, we’re humans, not lab rats—but there are ways to go about doing it that won’t make you hangry five hours into a flight. One of the leading guidelines comes via the Argonne Anti-Jet Lag Diet, which was developed by biologist Charles Ehret in the ’80s and consists of alternating feasting and fasting days pre- and mid-departure. Then there’s a method espoused by Patrick Skerrett, the co-author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, in which only water should be consumed from two hours before takeoff until you land at your destination.
Motivated by the thought of starting my week on the island of Mustique without my typical IBS issues (not to mention post-travel exhaustion), I decided to test out the theory myself. With a 7 a.m. flight, it meant that my last meal was the evening before departure, and I somehow survived the 12 hour flight on just H20 alone.
Verdict: It was surprisingly easy for me—and, as someone who is thinking about food 24/7, it was actually a relief to not have to worry about finding palatable food at the airport or eating whatever was served up on the plane. The downside? I was parched. I sucked down my two giant Smart Water bottles before we were halfway through the first flight and felt like a cartoon character having a Sahara-esque water mirage. So much of my hydration comes from my usual diet of fruit and veggie-dense meals and herbal teas, and without them, my body felt out of whack.
I sucked down my two giant Smart Water bottles before we were halfway through the first flight and felt like a cartoon character having a Sahara-esque water mirage.
The other thing that happened was, as soon as we landed, I felt overwhelmingly starved. (Shocking, right?) I nibbled on some in-case-of-emergency nuts and crackers I stashed in my suitcase, but I only felt truly satiated when I was able to sit down and enjoyed a real meal a couple of hours later (some local fish, natch). Over the next 24 hours I carefully observed the way I felt, trying to detect any notable differences from my last long-haul trip. And the truth is, as much as I wanted to find some incredible game-changing effect, nothing really stuck out. I had my usual mild bloat and post-travel day fatigue, but fortunately no major stomach issues to speak of.
When I mentioned it to registered dietitian Lauren McNeill, RD, she said that the digestive benefits of fasting didn’t seem to add up. “Packing nutrient- and fiber-rich food such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, or whole-grain sandwiches helps keep your stomach satisfied and your bowels regular,” McNeil explained. The other key consideration when traveling, she added, was hydration; “consume at least half of your body weight in ounces of water or herbal teas by bringing an empty water bottle in a carry-on bag and filling it once through security,” she suggested. “Implementing both of these tips will help to reduce bloating and keep bowels regular when traveling, while also keeping you nourished.”
I’ve come a long way from my cannoli-for-breakfast days, and have a pretty good grasp on the foods that make me feel my best when I’m far from home (and the ones that really set off my system). Fasting on my travel day certainly made on-the-go meal planning much easier, but I just didn’t experience enough benefits to justify the cotton mouth and hunger pangs. And so, before my return flight from Mustique, I ate a big, protein-packed breakfast in the morning, and then nibbled on a grain salad in the airport during my layover. Though it wasn’t easy finding a healthy(ish) option in the terminal, I didn’t land with a surprise IBS flare-up—and arriving home with a mellow belly was arguably the best souvenir I could have taken back from my trip.
Heading out of town and want my packed and ready to go healthy travel kit to take with you? Order here and have it delivered to your door before departure!
I have been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but when I got around to it was going to be more of a reflection on my past and how much I have grown, looking back. Falling into an old feeling and pattern the past couple of weeks has motivated me to share my story about emotional eating as a way for me to put all of these pieces together and also share what I think may shed light on what is probably a more common issue that most of us realize.
I recently started reading Heal Your Body, a classic by Louise Hay on the metaphysical way to overcome common physical illnesses or symptoms. The suggested cause for excessive hunger is "Fear. Needing Protection. Judging the Emotions." Something I did not realize I was craving during the days when this was a huge issue for me. I cannot say that I have ever had an eating disorder from how I understand them, but have had experiences of intense insatiable hunger that have come along with many emotions connected to what I now recognize as anxiety.
It first began with a number of new experiences- when I moved out for the first time, was a new teacher in a difficult school and also began my wellness journey and was experimenting with eating healthy. This combination led to a constant feeling of being starving. I think that the emotions I was experiencing were being manifested in a feeling of hunger. I also now know that I was not eating the right foods to nourish myself. I will post more about the beginning of my wellness journey another time, but I basically began by eating a packet of sugary oatmeal and a banana for breakfast, low calorie lean cuisines for lunch, and then would come home from an extremely stressful day of work STARVING and down multiple "healthy" bowls of sugary granola and almond milk to try and fix the feeling. It probably did not help that I was watching the news from bed at night (something I now know is a big no no for me!) and pushing myself to wake up at 5am to workout halfway to work on my hour long commute each morning.
I can recall keeping bags of chocolate chips in the freezer and mindlessly eating almost half a bag in one sitting after work. Seriously just to calm my nerves and feel "safe." Chocolate cravings are no stranger in the present. Especially during stressful times. The last couple of weeks I have been running a Summer program for youth with difficult backgrounds. All the FEELS have been back. The fear. The anxiety, The judgement. I now completely get it and know where it is coming from and have ways to cope. I meditate daily and use the mantra that Louise Hay suggests for excessive hunger, which resonates with this situation so much- "I am safe. It is safe to feel. My feelings are normal and acceptable."
This is such a work in progress. I have gone so long without the feeling of constant excessive hunger but it is back in full force the past few weeks. Before this, I was practicing intermittent fasting and not hungry until a later breakfast, but now I am back to how I used to be for years- waking up STARVING ready to eat. The difference is that now I get it. I know why and I know what I need to work on to heal this feeling. In the meantime, I am letting myself enjoy the extra large meals and my daily chocolate with coconut butter I am coming home from work ready to dive into. I know how to prepare healthy comfort food for myself- warming and clean, high fat foods that make me feel good. I expect this feeling to go away after the program ends this week but know it will come back again later in life if I do not work on getting to the root and fixing the beliefs I hold that reveal themselves in this way.
That's a longwinded way of me trying to share the following:
Excessive hunger and emotional eating is normal and a physiological response to stress. If you experience this, reflect on if you are feeling fear or needing protection. Are you judging your emotions? If so, practice and repeat this mantra: "I am safe. It is safe to feel. My feelings are normal and acceptable" (Louise Hay).
What is making you feel this way? When I used to experience this I was like a fresh piece of meat thrown into a tiger den at a tough school and scared as shit of the angry parents, challenging kids and condescending leadership and felt so inadequate. I was not only unfairly judging myself, but judging my emotions, which were completely normal. I have healed this over the years but these couple of weeks with the program I am running, fell into the same trap. Instead of letting myself just feel and be okay with the stress of working with challenging kids (I am literally driving a van of them on field trips!), I am judging. Judging myself and judging my emotions. I now have the tools I need to recognize and work on this so that it doesn't become a long term pattern again.
I truly believe that any physical feeling is connected to our mind, body and spirit. Recognizing the connection can be hard, but once we do it feels so good and gives us a starting point to let the healing begin. I am a work in progress and with each new piece of knowledge I discover, realize that wellness is a journey, not a destination.
TRUTH: I am a self-proclaimed filtered water snob. When I was recently traveling and asked my husband for my typical Starbucks order: hot water (so I can make DIY matcha) I kindly asked if he knew if they use filtered water. He immediately made me realize this was a somewhat laughable question and probably not a priority in most kitchens.
At first I felt guilty worrying if Starbucks water was filtered knowing that across the globe there are people who may never see a Starbucks and would be so lucky to have safe tap water to drink. However, the problem is though we have plenty of water deemed "safe to drink", we are potentially being exposed to a range of contaminates that may not have short term and obvious, but long term negative health effects without knowing it.
I feel lucky to have discovered a two-fold solution to this problem, AquaGear water filtration. Their water filters not only ensure that our tap water is free of 89 contaminates, but provide us, as consumers, a way to give 6 months of clean drinking water to needy communities in the developing world. The filters are also 100% recyclable and they will pay for the postage to send them back, at which point they will actually DOUBLE their donation to Thirst Relief International as incentive.
Lets get into the weeds a little bit more about why drinking filtered water is a major priority!
Most of us as Americans have fluoride, heavy metals, chromium 6, chloramines, and countless other contaminants in our tap water... Seems hard to believe with water filters that come on many taps, fridges, etc. but it is important to do our research because 96% of conventional household filters still do not remove these contaminants! So what's wrong with fluoride you may ask... don't we need it for our teeth? Okay so in small amounts it can be good for your teeth, but too much fluoride can affect thyroid function, fertility, the endocrine system and even have adverse neurological effects.
Taking Control of our Health
If you are anything like me (a little paranoid, but how can you not be these days...), Flint was a wake up call that unfortunately we cannot always trust our government leaders to make the best and safest decisions for us when it comes to our health, specifically controlling toxins in our water. Knowing that Aquagear filters were tested in Flint, Michigan where the water had 4 times the EPA lead limit, was reassuring that my family's water being safe is in MY CONTROL. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality tested and reported the levels as being reduced to undetectable after going through the Aquagear filter. As much as I hope a crisis like Flint never happens again, knowing I have a filter like this puts my health into my own hands.
Saying NO to the Plastic Addiction
Disposable water bottles are also NOT an option for me. I used to go through almost a pack of them a week without the blink of an eye until I realized what a problem plastic is in our world. 38 billion of them are hitting our landfills and oceans every single year! I have visited too many beautiful places in the world and seen nature tarnished by human action. Committing to a reusable water bottle with filtered water is an easy but huge step we can all take to reduce problematic plastic consumption and minimize our carbon footprints.
Hanging onto the "Good Stuff"
Finally the question I get asked a lot as a filtered water junkie! Will I miss out on the healthy stuff in water by only drinking it filtered? Thankfully trace minerals like calcium and magnesium are still left in my filtered tap water since Aquagear is designed to leave the good stuff behind! Studies have shown the health benefits of drinking filtered tap water to be the greatest compared to unfiltered tap water or water bottles. This is most important for pregnant women and children- specifically noting that many water bottles still contain fluoride in them.
Using an Aquagear filter is a no brainer for me. I am totally willing to claim my filtered water snob label knowing that I am helping take care of not only my health, but the health of our planet and families in developing countries without access to clean water.
This post is sponsored by Aquagear, however all opinions and beliefs are my own. I would only advertise brands that I truly believe in and recommend for leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Peptides, hyaluronic acid, collagen, retinol... the list of anti-aging skincare buzz words goes on. I have spent the past 7 years chasing these ingredients, looking for the next best product that would be my miraculous fountain of youth. I know what you're thinking- the past 7 years and you're not even 30? Why? The key to anti-aging is prevention and I was and still am trying to beat the clock by feeding my body and skin what it needs to stay healthy and looking good in the years to come.
The "staying healthy" part was not part of the equation when I began this wild goose chase. My wellness journey was only first beginning around then, and I still did not realize that what I put on my body was just as important as what I put in it. I probably would have never even considered flipping a prescribed ointment around and checking out the ingredients. Little did I know that while I was keeping my skin blemish free and guarded against crows feet, I was simultaneously putting poison (okay dramatic, but hear me out) on my body's largest organ.
What I wish I knew then...
I knew from my dermatologist and everything I was reading that retinol was the most important way to prevent acne and keep the wrinkles away. I used prescriptions for versions of Tretinoin (basically a stronger version of retinol) until this year. While I was putting a cream that consisted of a tiny percentage of what I wanted on my face, I was also consuming these ingredients: benzyl alcohol, butyl paraben, butylated hydroxytoluene, carbomer 940, ethyl paraben, fish collagen hydrolyzates, glycerin, iso-butyl paraben, methylparaben, octoxynol 9, phenoxyethanol, propylparaben, purified water, sodium hyaluronate, and trolamine. Parabens like the ones listed have been studied as endocrine disruptors and are known to be linked to cancer.
I also was using a paraben packed retinol eye cream. I had fallen for the marketing and packaging without understanding what I was buying and continued to buy blindly for years. The ingredients of this product are: Water, Glycerin, Lactose, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-8, Stearyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Tromethamine, Carbomer, Isopropyl Myristate, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Propylparaben, Copper Gluconate, Magnesium Aspartate, Polysorbate 20, Retinol, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Phenoxyethanol, Zinc Gluconate.
While these were my two staple products for years, the same story holds true for any masks, cleansers, moisturizers and other skincare products I would chase after. As long as I heard those buzz words and the promise of an even skin-tone, I was sold. Even once I became aware of the harm of parabens and other harmful additives in the products I was using, I still couldn't cut the cord with that dirty prescription. To be honest, even as I was blogging about all of my clean skincare products back in 2015/2016, that Tretinoin prescription was still hiding in my makeup bag.
The Best of Both Worlds
At the beginning of this year I decided to just literally throw it in the trash so that I wouldn't be tempted by it anymore. I spent the first few months of the year feeling good about my decision to completely convert over to clean beauty once and for all but had a slightly regretful feeling about kissing acne free skin and (what I thought was) effective wrinkle prevention goodbye.
I realized that this was ridiculous and this day and age with all of the research and demand for clean products, there had to be something safe and effective out there. Luckily I was right and was happy to make two amazing discoveries. One of my trusted wellness experts who I had featured early on as a Wellpreneur had created Tambra: Sea + Botanicals, a clean skincare line with incredibly effective, clean products. I was thrilled to discover that she had both an eye cream and serum with retinol and hyaluronic acid- the two effective ingredients I had parted with when I finally ditched my previously coveted paraben packed products. Unlike the mysterious and scary ingredients in the ones I had finally ditched, she uses an ocean based retinol and botanical hyaluronic acid along with a variety of other recognizable, clean ingredients.
The next discovery I made seemed almost too good to be true.... an organic, plant derived form of retinol sourced from French alfalfa extract? Was this a joke? The other ingredients in Alitura's Gold Serum proved to be just as incredible. Marine collagen and Co Q10, along with many other clean ingredients that would help prevent wrinkles and improve my skin's elasticity. I trusted that anything in the clean skincare mecca CAP Beauty had to be the real deal, so I anxiously gave it a try. I have now spent the last month using this product and am still in awe of the glow I get as soon as I put it on. I have also been waking up to a plumper and more hydrated looking forehead (where I usually notice fine lines the most) and even complexion (especially around my cheek area).
Now It's Your Turn!
I am excited to partner with both Tambra: Sea + Botanicals and Alitura so that you can try these effective and clean products and let go of any of the dirty ones you may still be hiding in your makeup bag like I still was just a few months ago. I have just posted a giveaway on my instagram page you can enter to win the Gold Serum. Just follow the directions in the caption and don't forget to tune into my live video to see my evening routine using these amazing products. Look out for an announcement on my instagram page for a chance to win the Tambra: Sea + Botanicals products I mentioned here as well coming up soon. Can't wait to try them out or didn't get a chance to snag them from the giveaways? Use code 'alltheverdure' for 15% Alitura Naturals and 'VIP20' for 20% off Tambra!
Looking for more organic beauty inspo? Check out my other blog posts on clean skincare: Spring Cleaning with Natural Skincare and Clean on the Inside, Clean on the Outside.
Derby season has officially arrived and the buzz in Louisville, KY just got REAL.
When they're not staking their bets at Churchill Downs, typically tourists fill their stay with plans of hitting the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. Though those well known highlights are not to be missed, the true local gems may be the eclectic and unique restaurants, bars and cafes.
Regardless of the weekend's itinerary, choosing 21c Museum Hotel as home base is a no brainer for taking in the eccentric culture of the city. These local favorites showcase the character and creativity Louisville, KY has to offer.
Lunch at Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe is a an absolute must. Don't leave without trying the breakfast pizza and gorgeous macaroons. Head down the street to their butcher and sister restaurant Red Hog for cocktails and charcuterie to start the evening.
Find local ingredients that are almost too beautiful to eat at Butchertown's latest gem Naive for dinner (opens 4/17). Though meat options are available, don't miss the (shockingly) vegan nachos and arepas while sipping your cocktail out of a coconut.
Continue the evening at Lola, the lounge above Butchertown Grocery, a short walk away from Naive. The perfect nightcap? Beignets and bourbon. "Happiness Doesn't Wait," will give you the chance to sample both Makers Mark bourbon and Copper & Kings (across the street!) absinthe.
Coffee, juice or matcha? Luckily the Nulu neighborhood has all your AM liquid needs covered. Find the best coffee in town at Quills on Main, and fresh cold pressed juices and hot superfood tonics a couple of blocks away at The Weekly Juicery.
If the eccentric local boutiques and galleries in Nulu aren't enough reason to stick around, the sugary treats will be. Head over to Please and Thank You for a chocolate chip Derby Bar for now, and BIY (Bake-It-Yourself) box to take home for later.
Proof on Main, the funky yet polished restaurant in 21c Hotel and Museum is the perfect place to start a sophisticated Saturday night downtown. Grab a drink at the bar and check out the thought-provoking, contemporary art exhibits. Dine on regional cuisine like smoked catfish dip and the famous locally raised bison burger.
While most head to Whiskey Row, few will find the real magic, which happens behind it. Hell or Highwater is the move after dinner at Proof... if you can find it. This well hidden speakeasy on Washington St. showcases the intersection of classic old school and new innovative Louisville. Find a spot on the plush red velvet couches to sip an old fashioned while listening to classic 1920s-era radios. Still got a sweet tooth? Order local favorites like a scoop of Louisville Cream ice cream or sampling of Cellar Door Chocolates.
Start your morning with provisions from Wiltshire Pantry Bakery and Cafe. Choose from an assortment of freshly baked pastries including some vegan friendly options. A start to a good day is when the biggest decision is kouign-amann or twice baked almond croissant.
End the weekend with brunch at Grale Haus, a classic Highlands Victorian home turned coffee house and cafe. Try an interesting twist on a locally roasted coffee with the Turmeric Latte or an oat milk Matcha Latte for tea drinkers. The last meal of the weekend oozes southern comfort with pimento cheese biscuits, cheddar grits and country ham crepes on the menu. Lighter options like the "Haus" granola, veggie hash or black eyed pea salad will not disappoint either.
For more local recs reference my instagram page @alltheverdure. Feel free to comment below or send me a message with any questions or more advice about Louisville, KY!
Are you looking to invite in creativity, gain mental clarity, set new goals or get past an energy block? Our mental and physical state are more interconnected than we think. Sitting in the same space, sticking to the same routine day after day is not always conducive to generating new creative ideas or seeing a situation in a new light. Traveling is an amazing way to gain perspective and inspiration, but most of us can't pick up and book a flight every time we have a mental block.
I have several new projects I have been playing around with, but not fully committing to or knowing what direction to take them in. Making a solo trip to our family lake house about an hour and a half drive outside of the city gave me a quiet and novel space to eliminate distractions and spend time working in nature.
Switching up your space for even for a short amount of time can have huge benefits to inviting in new waves of energy and fresh ideas. It can be as simple as trekking over to a different coffee shop or shared work space, working in a park or perhaps taking it a step further and making a day trip. Do you have a family or friend who has a space they can let you use? A place in nature you could drive out of your neighborhood or city to for the day? Here are some things I found helpful on my solo retreat.
1. Clear the Space and Invite in Good Energy
When I arrived I cleared the space with some Palo Santo and re-arranged the furniture of the room to a way that felt right. I brought some energy clearing crystals and had them next to my favorite candle burning. If you are in a public space, choose a spot that feels right to settle into and consider bringing some smaller crystals.
2. Settle in with a Meditation
Engage in a brief meditation to feel settled into the space, clear any anxiety, stress and worries that won't serve you during your creativity session.
3. Bring Tools + Food
Come with some sources of inspiration, an agenda/plan, journals, computer if you need one and anything else that may be useful. For me, I brought some books for inspiration, some resources I downloaded from online, a personal journal and a work journal. I also had my computer but set boundaries to not check email or social media- I had limited internet anyways!
Packing food was essential for me because there are no groceries or restaurants around where I was, but I always find it helpful to conserve brain power and time by having (healthy) pre-made food on hand when I am trying to get work done. This prevents me from either not eating (energy drainer!) or interrupting when I get on a good creative roll.
Before leaving, reflect on what new ideas came your way and what you accomplished. Evaluate if the space was effective and what your plan is for next steps and moving forward. You may reap the benefits of this new energy later that day, days or even weeks later. Continue journaling/brainstorming to build on ideas after the experience.
Converting to natural skincare is a journey that is certainly not the easiest to navigate. I have slowly but surely gone from dipping a toe in, to making a complete transition to all non-toxic, clean skincare products.
Not all "clean" products are created equal. I have been excited about dozens of hyped up or local novel sounding products only to be disappointed with their effectiveness. Since writing my first blog post about my favorite clean products a couple of years ago, I have added many new members to the gang! Thanks to the expertise of my pals over at Tall Short Blog, I have been able to find what works best for sensitive skin.
Here are my general tips for finding what works for you, before I dive into my specific recommendations:
- Do your research! Utilize the EWG site and trusted sources who have reviewed
- Find local products when possible! Reap the benefits of local ingredients, while also supporting local small businesses in your area
- Test, test, test! Don't give up and think "natural products don't work for me"- it may take time, but there are definitely products out there that will work for you!
New Favorites! (check out my last post to see my old favorites that I still use as well!)
Pratima Neem Rose SPF 30 moisturizer is balancing and effective, uniquely developed based on ayurvedic knowledge. That is what I have been keeping on my face 24/7. When I want to look more polished and have my skin look flawless without wearing makeup, Well People Tinted SPF Moisturizer is a miracle worker.
I put either of those on top of Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum, which is pricey, but a worthy alternative to prescriptions to fight inflammation and acne by getting to the root cause and balancing the skin. Post-serum, pre-moisturizer, I jade roll to reduce puffiness and improve circulation. I got mine from the jade market in Hong Kong, but there are lots of great ones you can purchase online out there!
The only time I wash my face is when I shower after working out, and use the gentle One Love Organics Cleanser. Check out my last post for their product I use to cleanse my face in the evening. I use January Labs Brightening Tonic to exfoliate, stimulate collagen and get a deeper clean once a day. This is a gentler way to exfoliate for sensitive skin, rather than using a harsh scrub.
Two Poppies Apothecary Eye Serum literally wakes me up in the morning with natural energizing ingredients like chaga, cacao, coffee and green tea. Nighttime is when I opt for an intense anti-aging formula with January Labs Advanced Eye Technology. I cannot compromise wrinkle prevention with going all natural and thankfully the two can coexist!
My body routine revolves around bath/shower time. If I have the time to take a bath, Aydry + Co. Beautiful Rose Mineral Bath Soak is a relaxing, detoxifying and balancing dream. I like to exfoliate my hands, elbows and knees with CBD infused hemp scrub (I can't find a link for the small biz I got mine from sadly).
Dry brushing is an evening ritual I have been doing for 5 years now and cannot live without. It detoxes the body, improves circulation and polishes the skin, while possibly preventing cellulite- jury's still out on that one! I actually lightly oil my skin before I dry brush right before bed. Using this local lavender oil from my farmers market + taking a hot shower or bath has really helped me relax and fall asleep better at night.
Deodorant has taken me the longest time to figure out and I have tried 1273982 natural kinds! I am currently using Maddie's Market Peppermint Pit Stick which has yet to irritate my skin the way most of the others I've tried have. It has also kept me smelling good even in the toughest workouts or most stressful workdays.
Have you tried any of these? What are you favorite clean skincare products? Share in the comments below!
It probably doesn't surprise you that I'm one of those- who are more into the commercials and the snacks than the game. I have truly never been able to get into sports, especially football, but am always down for a reason to whip up a few apps. For once, I am a little more excited than usual about Super Bowl Sunday because the biggest This Is Us episode is coming on right after, when we will finally see what happens to Jack!
In honor of the big day, I have rounded up some of my favorite Super Bowl Superfoods you can make or take with you for the big game. For even more app recipes, like my mini lamb meat balls and tahini dip, goat cheese stuffed dates and sunchoke chips- sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of this page!
The Pot of Goodness
Asaya in sanskrit signifies understanding your past journey in order to navigate your path to self-acceptance. I was able to fully immerse in this concept during recent travels to Thailand. In our experiences throughout the country, we encountered a deeply spiritual culture that seemed to speak to the importance of self-discovery. It all came together in culmination when visiting the wellness program at the Rosewood in Phuket, where I learned the meaning of this word.
The Asaya wellness programming, allowed me to comfortably dip my toe into alternative/eastern medicine. I had read articles, listened to podcasts and talked to friends dozens of times about the benefits of treatments like acupuncture, reiki and forms of energy healing, but had never tried it out for myself IRL. The Rosewood Asaya wellness program that started with the Phuket location in 2017 and is expanding in 2018, makes eastern healing convenient and approachable for first timers like myself.
Prior to any treatments with the Asaya program, I met with the in house wellness practitioner, Steve. Rather than him explaining the treatments, he started by having me explain my needs, then suggested treatments that would help. As western culture conditions us to do, I separately detailed my physical health and mental health, including chronic issues and what I felt like that day. I had previously considered them totally unrelated so I was shocked at Steve's reaction that both of my concerns were tied together. To think that maybe fixing one could help fix the other and that I needed a new approach to acknowledging both was a huge aha moment that somehow gave me a sense of comfort. He continued to explain that this is a common pair of distress and we could start working through it immediately. He advised to proceed with Reiki, Chi Nei Tsang and Sound Therapy.
I was definitely intrigued but skeptical about the power of Reiki. Nonetheless, I went in with an open mind. If you are not familiar with Reiki, this is a treatment where a practitioner uses their hands and light touch to send and receive energy from various body parts in order to promote healing. You are fully clothed for this treatment and lying on a bed. Steve started with my head and stayed there for a little while then worked his way down. Apparently he was planning on having me turn over and reiki all over, but was guided by my energy to spend most of the time in my lower abdomen. This is my biggest area of need, as I am a chronic sufferer of digestive issues. For the first 40 minutes I felt absolutely nothing. I relished in the relaxation of a quiet room with peaceful music and gentle touch, but that was it. After that, when Steve was still drawn towards my lower stomach, I began uncontrollably laughing. I literally could do nothing to stop it and anxiously tried to get ahold of myself, feeling terrible that he probably thought I was mocking him. Instead it grew more intense and I was now uncontrollably laughing so hard I was crying. Right when I started crying after the laughter subsided, I felt a notable shift in energy. I can't remember if I really felt "happy" then "sad" or just intense emotion during all of it that I labeled as "happy" since I was laughing and "sad" because I was crying. When I apologized when the treatment was over, Steve smiled and explained that this is actually a common reaction and he was expecting me to have this very behavior based on what I explained. He said when I started laughing he was waiting for it to switch to tears. It seemed that this was how the energy he was healing manifested itself in the treatment.
Chi Nei Tsang
When I posted about this in stories, like me, most of you had never heard of this before. This detoxifying organ massage is supposed to release blockages of the body and mind. Steve recommended it based on my digestive issues. I typically ask therapists to avoid my stomach when I get a massage, but decided it was worth giving this one a try. I have to say that this was not a particularly relaxing experience. If you decide to do this, I would really view it as an intentional and purposeful treatment, not a chance to unwind like most massages. The therapist explained that it was key for me to relax my abdomen and focus on my breath. I could feel her touching each organ as if she was inside my body. It was weird to feel where each body part lives and for once not think of that area as "my stomach" but rather as the distinctive anatomy it truly is. I felt uncomfortable and familiar sensations while she worked. I could feel where it was coming from when I get different stomach aches and pinpoint the areas I often feel as she was working on them. It is hard to say if I felt detoxed after because there was such much happening in my body with the travel. I do think it may have contributed to my overall reaction which I will detail below.
The last treatment that I received was the Tibetan singing bowl sound therapy. I got this in conjunction with a massage. Various bowls were placed at different chakra points of my body. As the bowls were struck, I could feel a prolonged vibration throughout my body starting at that point coupled with a distinct and relaxing sound. At times the bowls were moved around so that the sounds were more and less intense to me. I was shocked how calming this was. I felt the tension release from each part of my body and an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility.
Okay, so you may have been wondering while I explained the treatments- so DO THEY WORK?! And the answer is: it's complicated. Like most wellness practices, it is hard to draw a direct cause and effect, but mindful observation can lead to some conclusions about benefits. As I explained above, Steve suggested that my physical (digestive issues) are connected to my mental (self-consciousness/control/perfection/anxiety/body image issues). It was really hard to notice any changes during our travel because I was so overstimulated constantly, so it was when I got home that I noticed the change. My usual mental issues described above have decreased dramatically. A few of the symptoms I was struggling with currently seem almost non-existent. My overall energy has completely shifted and I feel like a lot of mental clutter and fog has dissipated.
It is impossible to know if these changes are from the treatments, but I think if not completely from them, it may be from absorbing the Thai culture while traveling and the treatments in combination. While I was there, I also read a book written by a monk on mindfulness and also learned a lot about mindfulness and karma from the people we met. Steve also shared wisdom with me about how our internal narrative does not change the reality of the past, present or future in conjunction with some of what I was working through in the treatments. I am now trying to navigate how to incorporate some of this in to my at home routine. I would love to hear your experiences and suggestions in the comments, through social media or email!
My journey of testing endless recommended diets and finally finding relief from an elimination diet and listening to my own body.
Diet. I hate that word. It has such a negative connotation for many to mean a restrictive meal plan of misery. In reality, diet just describes how and what we eat and can be such a positive and empowering part of life when the right diet is discovered.
I was never able to find a certain diet that made me feel best. I have spent most of my life suffering from IBS, asthma, eczema and allergies, all which can be improved and managed (to some extent) with diet. However, after trying out several different recommended diets, nothing seemed to help.
At first I avoided dairy because that was the obvious trigger, but there was something still bothering me. My doctors recommended following a Low FODMOP diet, saying that was the only way to guarantee managing my IBS through diet. I could not find complete relief from that either. I have spent spells being plant based, gluten free and many other recommended diets, but none have been completely right for me.
Finally, I was recommended to do a blood test that would enable me to find out which foods agreed with me and which didn't. I was skeptical because it sounded too easy and good to be true. I was right. While the test does exist, it required commitment to a lengthy elimination diet to test which foods truly react best with your system.
The test is called the MRT Food Sensitivity Test, which is given in conjunction with the LEAP ImmunoCalm Dietary Management Plan. Essentially, you find out which foods have are reactive, moderately reactive or non-reactive with your blood. The non-reactive foods are the ones you should stick to eating to feel your best. The moderately reactive foods should be avoided, especially in combination, which can exacerbate their negative health effects. The reactive foods should be strictly avoided.
When I got my results, some were obvious, while others took me by surprise. My only reactive food way soy. I had already been trying to avoid processed soy which is added to endless processed foods, so I knew strictly avoiding it at all times including while dining out and traveling would be a true challenge. Dairy was moderately reactive, which surprised me that there was something worse, since this was the only food I had ever been able to pinpoint, Common foods and spices like onions, cayenne pepper, mustard and chicken were all moderately reactive. Finally it all made sense to me- I have probably always been having some sneaky soy in my diet and in addition have been combining tons of moderately reactive foods into every meal.
The elimination diet instructs you to test the non-reactives and avoid the moderately reactives. I decided to notice how I felt eating the non-reactives that I usually eat and then proceed to test them if I did not feel okay. I felt okay with all of the non-reactives so I decided to test the moderately reactives to see which ones I needed to avoid more than others. This process has helped me to understand which foods I personally need to avoid and which ones help me feel best. At home I cook with only non-reactive foods, which is impossible to do out of the house. However, I know which foods to avoid at all costs and how to ensure I am not eating too many of my moderately reactive foods together and exacerbating their effects.
The takeaway is- the diet I was told to follow by doctors- Low FODMOP instructs not to eat garlic, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower and many other of my most non-reactive foods that I have found to help me feel best. While this blood test is not for everyone and can also be expensive, I hope others consider doing some form of an elimination diet rather than blindly following trending diets.
The answers are not always obvious or what the media/organizations portray as the most healthy, but they have helped me feel my most healthy. For example, I used to avoid red meat and ate white meat if I ate meat. I discovered that lamb and beef are two of my least reactive foods in comparison to other meats, many types of fish and vegetables. I now may eat a big juicy steak and fries (white potatoes are my least reactive compared to sweets) while dining out to feel my best. Obviously it would not be healthy to eat this every night, but in moderation and with its reactiveness to my body, this can be the right choice for me. I have finally, after a long journey found some relief. While I do not always feel perfect, I feel good knowing that I am in control and not a helpless bystander to how food affects my body.
What is the clean eating reset? I like to pick a window of time when I will be home and have time to cook and shop to do anywhere from a 3-10 day reset, eliminating foods that tend to make me feel bad and adding in the ones that help me feel great. The meals here can be mixed and matched for any number of days. I prefer to choose meals with similar ingredients that I can easily meal prep for a week (click to read more about meal prep).
I do not believe in restrictive diets, especially based on physical goals (unless being necessary for health and being implemented with an expert). We already have enough pressure on women in society to make us feel like we need to look a certain way that is usually unrealistic or even unhealthy. This reset is meant to help boost immunity, digestion, and vitality which in turn will help you feel and look your best from the inside out!
Check out some sample recipes and meal ideas below. Make sure to listen to your body and eat when you are hungry, always! Also, drink plenty of water- something I always need to remind myself, which really helps when trying to detox and improve digestion. Adapt based on any of your own dietary restrictions and comment below with your own ideas!
Start your day with a mug of hot water with lemon. Drink tea before or after breakfast. My favorites for digestion are turmeric/ginger or peppermint. For an overall detox tea I like Aether, Republic of Tea and Sakara Life detox teas. For matcha I like Panatea instant matcha, or if you have more time, try putting the matcha latte listed below under midday.
- Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie Bowl
- Chocolatey Avocado Breakfast Mousse
- Strawberry Avocado Smoothie Bowl
- Thick rolled oats cooked in nut milk and topped with cacao nibs, berries, cinnamon and walnuts
- Overnight cold oats and chia seeds soaked with nut milk and vanilla extract and topped with peaches, blueberries, flax seeds and cinnamon
- Toast of choice with Basil Avocado Cream
These lunches are pretty light. I usually have a green juice or matcha latte a little later when I have a lighter lunch. I do not believe in juicing as a meal substitution but like to include an 8 oz glass of green juice a day when I am trying to detox. Look for or make your favorite combo juice including ginger, lemon and/or burdock root which all help digestion and detoxification. You can also do the juice in the morning and try making an adaptogenic matcha latte to sneak in some more superfoods, which is also a little more filling.
When I get home from work I am always hungry and have to snack before or while preparing dinner. Hummus is a great way to sneak in extra protein and veggies are a great way to make sure you are staying hydrated in addition to drinking plenty of water! Try cutting up veggies in advance and making a big batch of my Turmeric Carrot White Bean Hummus or Spring Thyme Hummus to enjoy all week. I like Mary's Gone Super Seed or Luke's Chia Seed crackers with hummus too.
- A couple of dates stuffed with almond butter
- Some coconut yogurt and fruit
- Some clean chocolate like Addictive Wellness raw superherb sugar free chocolate with cashew butter
- Some banana nice cream (frozen bananas blended until they form an ice cream texture) topped with cacao nibs
The past couple of years have brought many new opportunities for me, including the life-changing experience of being introduced to Family Scholar House. When I first learned of the non-profit that supports low-income, single parents access wrap around services, including housing, as they work towards their degree, I thought it was too good to be true. Programming for parents and young, impressionable children that inspired and scaffolded their becoming successful students and citizens... available to them for free? I was absolutely intrigued and eager to learn more.
Meeting with the "Chief Possibility Officer," Cathe Dykstra and VP of Programming, Kristie Adams, I learned more about the mission to break the cycle of poverty by empowering families with education. As aformer public school teacher in the DC area, I had spent years working with children and families in poverty wishing I could do more. I grew to understand that without family support and long lasting solutions, there was a brick wall that stood between education and hungry minds. These were the first of hundreds of women, who would inspire me day after day in this rapidly growing, dynamic community.
Family Scholar House has partnered with the Petrino Family Foundation to encourage and teach mindfulness to the community. I started as a volunteer at Family Scholar House with one of my first events being an eight week mindfulness training with the Earth and Spirit Center. It moved me to watch how mindfulness could lift the heavy weights off participants' shoulders, even if it was just for a few quiet moments. Continuing as a full staff member, I now see how mindfulness is incorporated in so many practices of the program, including a Mindfulness Superhero day for kids where I got to connect my work to my passion of teaching children's yoga. This mindfulness practice has encouraged me to take the time to think about what has inspired me in 2016 and what will motivate me in the new 365 days to come.
I can't put into words how inspired I am by the students I support. I often wonder if they know that they give me so much more than I could ever give them through the academic advocacy and support I provide in my role here. Instead of trying to do it for them, I would like to share two, of hundreds, of their inspiring stories of our participants which came across my desk this week while editing some scholarship essays. Seeing these familiar stories in their beautifully written words really resonates and allows for mindful reflection of how all of our journey's can be connected to a bigger and greater long lasting purpose.
Being the Change
Transformation and gratitude hav been the keystones to my life and are what I want to share with the world. My goal is to be the best woman I can be to myself, as a mother, as a student, as an educator, as a healer and an entrepreneur. Throughout this journey I have run into many obstacles. I had always been a workaholic, but after working eighty hours a week at a dead-end job for several months, I had to stop. I had to reevaluate my views of money, which took me out of the work force for almost two years. During this time of soul searching, I also found myself to be homeless. After a while, I formed a relationship with a man who would later become the father of my children. The birth of my children, although they were not planned, were much need in my transformation. My babies reunited me with true unconditional love.
Dealing with verbal domestic abuse from their father forced me to take a firm stand for myself and what I believed in. Being blessed with my children made me realize that I had to do something better than what I was currently doing to be able to provide a suitable home for them. I was tired of moving from place to place going from one person’s couch to another. I started my own business, Let Me Help U. I use my skills as a system analyst to help other businesses, especially those owned by women, get organized and set up administratively and technologically. Being that I learned most of my skills on my own, I soon realized that I needed a degree to back my business and give me more credibility which in turn would bring in more business. So, I decided to put my business on hold while I go back to school for my degree. I found out about the Family Scholar House program which finally gave me and my children our own home! Finally! I just moved in on Halloween and it has been absolutely wonderful.
For years, I have been studying the history of how societies all over the world had made a gradual shift toward domination by men. Now the shift is going back. That does not mean for women to dominate men but for women to take back their proper places as leaders. It is such a great honor to be part of this shift that is happening now all around us. Through it all, I have found that when obstacles or challenges arise in life, I must embrace them as an opportunity for me to be transformed to an even better, more refined version of myself to share with the world.
Coming Full Circle
Life has never been easy for me, but I will beat the odds. I am my son's teacher, nurturer and mother. My goal is to lead by example for my child. At 15 I was diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes. My health has been an issue since and it is a daily struggle. My goal is to help other diabetic’s understand the disease and manage a healthy lifestyle. I am currently in school to become a Nurse Practitioner, with a GPA of a 3.8.
I became homeless at 18 years old, with nowhere to go, no source of income, and a high school dropout. I went to Salvation Army. My case worker had mentioned the YMCA Safe Place as a place I could go for a shower, clothes and food. With the support I had from the staff at the YMCA, I got a job, and my first apartment. I became a motivational speaker and leader for the YMCA Safe place. I speak at events and encourage young adults my age that where you are now, is not your future.
During this time, I found out I was pregnant. I had no idea of how I was going to take care of this little heart beating inside of me. I made a decision sitting there in the hospital that this child would never go without, or have to endure the pain and abandonment I had been through.
After having my son, I went back to high school and graduated on September 12, 2015. I spoke with my teachers about furthering my education. That same day I applied for Community College. I began school in January 2015 and have remained determined in continuing my education since. My short term goal is to get my Associates in Science and get accepted into a university to get my BSN-PhD in Nursing. My long term goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner, work at a family office, and help diabetics who struggle with the disease.
My first semester of school, I worked full-time and went to school part-time. I received a 4.0 GPA. I am now a resident at Stoddard Johnson Family Scholar House. With my degree, I will educate and inform other diabetics that we can live healthy lives and achieve our full potential.
My usual go to recipe has some sort of grain, greens, veggies and a nut or legume to extra protein and texture. I am always trying to incorporate new grains to switch it up. After coming across some great Fall recipes with black rice, I decided to give it a try. It not only has a nice chewy and when cooked right, flavorful taste, but also has tons of beneficial properties making it fall in the category of a superfood.
Black rice is a great grain for those looking to get the most nutritional value out of a whole grain because of its complex carbohydrates. It contains more grams of protein and fiber than any other rice. It also contains iron, which a lot of people think you can only get from red meat, though there are many great vegetarian sources of iron as well. You have probably not had many dishes with black rice before becasue it was relatively new and rare until more recent years.
Something else noteworthy about black rice is the high amount of antioxidants it contains. Commonly associated with foods like acai and blueberries, antioxidants help flush out free radicals in the body and promote detoxification, as well as slow down the body's aging.
I recently combined a New York Times and Bon Appetit recipe to make this spinach, black rice, pistachio, pomegranate, tarragon and squash salad. It would be a perfect vegetarian dish to have on Thanksgiving. I used my own dijon vinaigrette recipe (with more lemon and no vinegar) to toss it with. Comment below to share your favorite black rice dishes!
Being vegan or dairy free is a far stretch from having to kiss your yogurt and ice cream loving days goodbye. A few years ago I had major FOMO that it seemed like Manhattan was the only place I could get my ice cream fix without compromising my lactose sensitive diet. Now delicious tasting vegan ice cream is no longer hard to find, but instead hard to decide where to begin.
Yogurt options have also expanded and improved vastly over the past few years. When I first eliminated my daily Greek yogurt from my diet, I was disappointed with the dairy free alternatives. Recently I have rekindled my love of yogurt with some great new vegan options. Here are my favorites based on taste and ingredients.
Washington DC/Philly Winner
HipCityVeg- HipCityVeg is DC and Philly's By Chef Chloe. The entire menu is vegan and delicious. Their banana "whips" are customizable sundaes made with just banana. They also serve a milkshake made with soy ice cream.
Van Leeuwen- In the cities of endless dairy free ice cream options, this one takes the cake (or cone in this instance). The consistency of their vegan ice creams taste almost identical to regular ice creams and their flavors are top notch. With a list ranging from salted caramel (my fave) to banana nut, there's something for everyone. In addition to weekly regular ice cream flavors, they have a special vegan flavor. The best part is the fact that they have scoop truck locations that serve their vegan flavors as well!
Nana Creme- This awesome banana based vegan ice cream line has ice cream, cookie dough and ice cream cookie sandwiches available in organic grocery stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Missouri, as well as online. I am currently obsessed with their Brownie Nana Creme.
DF Mavens- this former NYC storefront has their delicious almond, coconut or soy based dessert bars or pints available online for purchase
Nationwide Grocery Stores Winner
Coconut Bliss- of all of the lines that seem to be commonly available in most Whole Foods I have been to, this is by far the best ingredients and flavors. My favorite is their chocolate chip cookie pint.
Yonanas- This device makes helps you turn froze fruit and your choice of condiments into a bowl of nice cream. I love mixing frozen bananas, raw peanut butter and topping it with cacao nibs.
- Kite Hill- Kite Hill yogurts are made with almond milk and are completely dairy free. The pros of this brand are the consistency which is similar to regular yogurt. Another pro is that they are made with probiotic cultures, which are great for digestive health. The reason I have not stuck to this brand as my go-to yogurt is because all of their yogurts, including the plain one, are made with cane sugar. I do not think yogurt needs sugar, but a healthier alternative would be to add raw honey to yogurt.
- So Delicious- So Delicious has majorly improved their yogurt. I tried it years ago and was not a fan, but decided to give it another go recently. I love the unsweetened coconut yogurt. They have different flavors, but the unsweetened option has minimal sugar and tastes coconutty with a great consistency.
Read below about my amazing experience with Sakara Life, an expertly chef created "organic meal delivery program based on the science behind a plant-rich, gluten-free, superfood diet." Follow my special link for $50.00 off your first order! 💚
I forget how I first heard about Sakara Life, but I think it was right when they began delivering to DC. I was so tempted to try the Plant-Based, Vegan, Gluten-free meal delivery service. I was shocked that food that met all of those strict dietary standards could look and sound so incredibly delicious. At the time, I felt it wasn't worth it because living in DuPont Cicle, I had tons of equally delicious and healthy counter restaurants that had pick up and deliver.
Now, living in Louisville, we have less options for healthy and quick meals. That was part of my motivation. The other parts were that I wanted some ideas and inspiration for plant-based eating and I also wanted a break from cooking 3 meals a day every week for a while.
I will detail the Sakara Life meals' pros and cons. I recommend it for anyone who is trying to learn how to or try to eat plant-based meals, food snobs who want to try healthy food that is actually beautiful and delicious, and those who do not have time to make or local businesses that create on the go healthy meals.
- Everything came packaged perfectly. All items were intact and cold when they were delivered. The containers kept parts of the meal separate to ensure freshness.
- It came with morning rose and mineral, as well as night chlorella water. It also was a special promo that came with Sakara Life probiotics. There were packets of two detox teas for each day, which I absolutely loved and want to re-order.
- I thought I would have to supplement the meals a lot more than I did. I kept some fresh, raw fruits and veggies to snack on or add to some of the meals, but was always satiated and happy with how they came.
- The meals are probably enough food for most men as well. My husband who runs 7 miles and goes to Crossfit every day did it with me. He likes having eggs for breakfast so he stuck with that and had his breakfast pastries/granola as desserts after dinner. I thought I would have to add extra protein to his meals for him, but he didn't need it. I think he is the exception since he burns so many calories, but most men could probably stick with the breakfast as is.
- The meals were all beautiful, colorful and tasty. A couple of them surprised me. I saw them in the package and wasn't sure how they would taste, but once I put everything together it all made sense.
- The dressings are what really make it taste so good. Their homemade dressings taste like they should be bad for you but are quite healthy for the most part.
- Community support is another great aspect of joining Sakara Life meal delivery. I posted many of the meals on social media and received supportive comments from others doing the program and the founders themselves.
- I like how it indicates which meals taste better heated. I rearranged the meals based on which ones I would be able to heat in a toaster or not (not necessary to heat though).
- Each item tells some interesting fact or quote that has to do with whatever superfood is in the meal.
- The food was all creative and really different. Instead of avocado toast there was a cool turmeric and beet toast. Instead of plain almond milk for the granola, there was green spirulina mylk.
- Some meals needed slight supplements (not necessary though). I added fresh berries to each breakfast and cucumbers/tomatoes to a couple of the salads. For people like my husband, you may have to add more protein to your breakfast.
- Some of the dressings had added sugar. I can only recall one or two that had straight up sugar and a couple that had more natural forms like maple syrup. I usually make my own dressings and do not add sugar to them. It can make them taste better, but I don think it's necessary if you add enough other flavors.
Overall, I would say that Sakara Life was totally worth it! The meals were great and packed with superfoods and nutrients. They were easy to take on the go, and saved so much time not having to "meal prep" or cook breakfast/dinner that week. It was fun doing it as a household with my husband, so we could both still eat the same dinner and reap the benefits of having some extra time! We will probably try to do Sakara meals once a month or so when we have a really busy week.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. In order to truly detoxify and treat your body in a clean and natural way, you apparently cannot slather toxins on your body. That's what I was told a few years ago when my beauty blogging pals at Tall Short Blog gasped as I dabbed, drizzled and doused myself in parabans as a nightly ritual.
After a thorough explanation of the damage I was not only doing to the outside, but also inside of my body by using these chemicals on a regular basis, I began to slowly but surely take their advice on clean beauty products and venture into the rabbit hole of green beauty.
A couple of years later, I am still playing around with what my favorite products are but have many favorites that I have tried and tested. I have tried a range of prices and compared them to other less green products that I have used in the past and still occasionally use.
Cleanser- After testing a few face oils and washes One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil is by far my favorite. In the past I used the Boscia one from Sephora, and have recently tried the coveted Marie Veronique Daily Exfoliating Cleanser. While I liked her cleanser, I could not get it to lather the way that was demonstrated at Credo. I also thought the oil felt a little thicker than the OLO one and was harder to rinse off. I learned from Elizabeth at Credo that it is key to really give any of these oils time to break down makeup. Giving yourself an extensive face massage will do just that.
Exfoliator- I do not use a scrub on my face because my skin is so sensitive, however still need to exfoliate. The best product that I have found that is gentle and exfoliates for cheap is the OLO Cleansing Sponge. It is a much less harsh and more affordable alternative to the clarion if, which I used to use religiously until I realized it was too harsh for my skin, and getting way too expensive. According to Credo, massage your face with it once a day in conjunction with your cleansing oil and rinse and ring it out. It should last up to 3 months with proper care. I tried the Herbivore Blue Tansy Mask to decongest my pores. It felt really great on my skin, however I did not see any improvement. I love exfoliating my lips with this local Moss Hill Sugar Lip Scrub.
Hydrating- I use a prescription retinol at night, though I would like to eventually switch to one with more natural ingredients. Therefore I need my other products to be very gentle. I love OLO's Vitamin C facial serum. It is quite pricey though, so combining it with tea tree or jojoba oil makes it last longer. I used to use a retinol eye cream with lots of scary ingredients because I didn't believe that an all natural one could really work as anti-aging. Elizabeth at Credo explained the benefits of each ingredient in Skin Owl Eye Plus and more importantly suggested how to use it. She recommended storing it in the fridge and applying it with a depuffing eye massage. After I gently dab it on with my ring finger, I carefully and gently roll my finger from one side to the other until I have covered the entire area. My eye puffiness is completely gone and the coloring has improved drastically. Andalou Naturals has a nice quick rose water moisturizing mask that feels and smells great. My go mask is simply Greek yogurt and raw honey though.
Wash- I sometimes shower multiple times a day, but know how bad it is to strip the oils from your skin and hair, so I like using olive oil soap to avoid this. I also sometimes use the Acure Clarifying Body Wash. I am obsessed with Acure's products and have tried and tested them against many more expensive organic products. They work great, are affordable, have great ingredients, and are convenient since they are sold in most organic grocery stores. When I am on the go and don't have time to shower after a workout, I absolutely love Yuni Instant Shower Sheets. They leave my skin feeling clean, soft and smelling good with no scary ingredients.
Moisturizer- I am addicted to the OLO Antioxidant Body Serum. I got it as a treat for myself before my wedding to get my skin really glowing and hydrated and got hooked. It's splurge worthy and lasts a while since it's a spray bottle. I like to finish hydrating with Acure moisturizers. I used to be hooked on Aveeno moisturizer, but the Acure Cocoa Butter one is unscented and feels even better (plus is all natural). Los Poblanos Lavender Salve is the best all natural substitute for Vaseline. I keep it next to my bed and put it on my hands and lips every night.
Deodorant- I tried this calming lavender deodorant, which smells amazing, but have to go back to the Dove one I have always used until I find a more effective alternative. It could not last the day, especially through workouts.
Shower Products- After thorough research on organic shampoo and conditioner, I settled on testing the most popular inexpensive versus expensive product. I used the Rahua products for a while, then Acure products. I noticed no difference and the Acure products are way cheaper and easy to purchase locally. I like all of their shampoo and conditioners, just depends on your hair type (I use the volume one).
Post-Shower Products- I am addicted to the Oribe Detangling Primer, so attempted to trade in for the Acure equivalent. They are just not the same! The Oribe is still my very favorite. I use the Oribe when I am about to heat style my hair and the Acure otherwise on a regular basis. I was sent OLO's dry shampoo as a gift when I made my last purchase, but have yet to try it.
Next I need to take the plunge into all natural makeup products. Please comment with organic beauty product favorites!
In the past I had occasionally "mealprepped" on Mondays by choosing to cook some sort of Meatless Monday dinner that could be portioned into lunches for the remainder of the week. When living in DC, I had endless neighborhood healthy fast food restaurants to choose from open late into the night. I never had a motivation to prep bowl ingredients that were so accessible. After moving to Louisville and no longer having access to the same healthy fast food choices, I realized that prepping similar options to these restaurants in my fridge is not only more convenient, but so much more cost efficient.
Now I take a couple of hours at the beginning of the week to prep breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the rest of the week. I'll run through some of my go to's for stocking the fridge.
- Mini frittatas- whisk 10 eggs and toppings of choice (I usually do chopped spinach or kale, a light cheese like goat, parm or feta and another veggie like roasted squash or raw peppers. Ladle into an oiled muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until there is no more egg liquid sitting on top.
- Overnight oats
- Portion out Greek (or dairy substitute) yogurt into containers. Make ziplocks of toppings (berries, nuts, chia or hemp seeds, cacao nibs, etc.)
Lunch/Dinner (All ingredients can be used for a bowl with added protein if desired):
- Grain- I usually make a cup to a cup and a half of a grain such as quinoa or farro. Follow instructions for preparing, however I recommend using low sodium vegetable broth rather than water for extra flavor.
- Sweet potatoes or Butternut Squash- my favorite is to cube and roast until tender with coconut oil+salt/pepper at 375 degrees. Use cinnamon or cumin for an extra kick.
- Garlicky Broccoli- Cut into small florets and roast with a chopped clove of garlic, olive oil+salt/pepper at 375 degrees. Sometimes I save the roasted garlic for a hummus.
- Salad base- I usually keep a variety of greens that have multiple purposes like salads, smoothies or sautéing. Sometimes I will get a half head of purple cabbage or radicchio to chop and save for added texture and digestive benefits.
- Chickpeas- I open, rinse and put a can of them in a Tupperware container for easy access.
- Tomatoes/cucumbers- Despite knowing that tomatoes are best stored out of the fridge and cucumbers unchopped until use, I usually chop up a cucumber and halve cherry tomatoes in containers for easy access.
- Shaved or chopped carrots and radish (these stay fresh longer and will usually last me 2 weeks)
- Nuts- I usually buy nuts in bulk and chop them up myself using a knife or food processor then store them in containers to use for the week for portion control. I try to keep them raw and unsalted but have an obsession with shelled, roasted and salted pistachios as a chopped up added flavor kick/crunch especially to grain bowls.
- Dressing- I always make my own dressings. They are so easy and give you control over flavor and ingredients. I usually make enough to fill this and keep it in the fridge to use for the week.
- Extra protein options: hummus, smoked salmon, grilled chicken or tuna to top.
Since I published this post in January 2016, I have developed my own travel kits available for purchase! Click here to learn more.
Did you know that ice packs are TSA friendly (as long as their frozen)? This totally changed my long day travel game. I used to bring food to eat pretty immediate upon airport arrival, but now even an early morning departure works for bringing an on the go healthy lunch.
I have a two-fold motivation when it comes to toting along mysterious ziplocs of kitchen goods anywhere I travel. Without getting into too much detail (and as I have learned is more commonly the norm than not), I have 'stomach issues.' Issues that I obviously try to take all measures to avoid, especially during travel. So while I am motivated to keep up a healthy routine while away, I have also learned that my body always thanks me later when I have a portable pantry in tow.
I have a basic list I bring regardless of my access to a kitchen and a slightly more expansive one if my accommodations come blender ready. My one rule is that nut butter is the only travel size ingredient I allow myself to purchase. It is just too complicated to try to transport individual servings of it otherwise. While the fun and handy travel size hemp heart packs and alike are tempting, they end up being so much more expensive than simply going ziploc crazy.
Basic Packing List (with or without kitchen access):
- Overnight oats base for AM flight (nut milk+chia seeds+oats)
- Ovenight oats toppings of AM flight (fruit+nuts+any other toppings below)
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Cacao nibs
- Raw or sprouted nuts
- Dates or other dried fruit (with no added sugar)
- Nut butter packets
- A container of grain based salad that can stay at room temperature for PM flight
- Fruit/raw veggies/a healthy dipper (can be used with nut butter or airport hummus/dips)
- Powdered fiber (add to hot beverages)
- Granola (my current favorite is flavored with maple syrup/honey)
- Energy squares
- A good-for-you bar
Additional Items for Kitchen Access
- Maca and/or Cacao powder (blend in smoothies for morning energy)
- Serving size ziplocs of oatmeal
- Serving size ziplocs of protein powder for smoothies
- Raw shredded coconut
- Any other superfoods or adaptogens you use regularly
What do you think when you hear the word "detox"? Let me guess- you conjure up formidable images of drinking potent green juices all day and shaking your head no to all of your favorite treats? If you are committing to detoxing, you have chosen a different goal from dieting. By definition, detoxification is a process of removing toxic substances or qualities. Here is my tested guide for what you can add, rather than take away, to let the detoxification begin.
Seaweed- The "new kale", this superfood packs chlorophyll, fiber and vitamins. Always a fan of seaweed, I prefer to add it to a bowl of greens.
Burdock Root- You digestive system's new BFF, this super-root can be found in juices and teas. It aides your digestive system, especially minimizing bloating.
Fennel Seed- Can be grounded up in smoothies or simply sprinkled into sales and soups, fennel seed is easy to find in the spices section of health food stores. Licoricey in taste, it will also help aide digestive purification.
Dandelion Root- Ever think you'd be consuming this bright little weed? This super-root is a key ingredient to reducing inflammation. I prefer adding the mild tasting extract to my tea 1-2 times a day.
Peppermint Leaf- Another perfect addition to tea or even smoothies. Peppermint tea or extract in your favorite tea has a refreshing taste and benefits detoxification of the digestive system. Recently I had a holiday smoothie that included peppermint extract which was another fun way to access the leaf.
Ginger- Ginger can be added to your favorite recipes for dressings, soups and juices. Try a butternut squash or sweet potato + ginger pureed soup recipe for a detoxifying lunch. Ginger tea is another way to get the inflammation reducing, antioxidant packed and intestinal settling detoxifier.
Milk Thistle- This liver cleanser can be easily added to smoothies and teas by simply using its extracted form. It is one of many detoxifiers listed in this article that can be found in The Republic of Tea's cleansing line.
Slippery Elm Bark- I have tried both the extract and powder of SEB. I find the powder to be more potent and work effectively. Used for years in ancient medicines, this detoxifier soothes the digestive system and aides in cleansing the system. I have heard that it is so quick working that it should not be taken around the same time as medications. Another perk which I have found to work is that SEB coats the throat and therefore can be a great addition to your usual vitamin C when trying to fight a cold.
Spirulina- Packed with protein and antioxidants, spirulina has been known to detoxify our body's largest organ, the skin. Best accessed by adding the power to green smoothies.
Wheatgrass- Until recently, Wheatgrass shots were my favorite energy boosting cleanser that could only be accessed at juice shops. Now I can get their detoxifying benefits whenever by keeping WOW Wheatgrass frozen wheatgrass shots in my freezer.
All forms of the super cleansers in this article can be found at your local health food store in the supplements, produce or frozen food section.