Naturally Powerful Anti-Aging Skincare

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. 

 Making these clean product swaps has been one of the most important parts of my wellness journey. 

Making these clean product swaps has been one of the most important parts of my wellness journey. 

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. 

 Tambra skin care's latest products with ocean based retinol, botanical hyaluronic acid and Vitamin A

Tambra skin care's latest products with ocean based retinol, botanical hyaluronic acid and Vitamin A

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 Alitura Naturals Gold Serum sold at clean skincare mecca CAP Beauty is nothing short of the gold standard

The Alitura Naturals Gold Serum sold at clean skincare mecca CAP Beauty is nothing short of the gold standard

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

An Insider's Guide to Derby City

 Louisville's charm reaches far past Churchill Downs 

Louisville's charm reaches far past Churchill Downs 

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. 

Friday

 Superfood smoothies from Lifebar 

Superfood smoothies from Lifebar 

Smoothies at Lifebar make the perfect start to the morning. Located inside Louisville's organic grocery Rainbow Blossom, this vegan cafe is known for unique blends like the Chocomaca Bowl and CBD Matcha Maca smoothie. 

 Creative cocktails to pair with local charcuterie from Red Hog Butcher

Creative cocktails to pair with local charcuterie from Red Hog Butcher

 Equally beautiful and delicious vegan arepas from Naive in Butchertown

Equally beautiful and delicious vegan arepas from Naive in Butchertown

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. 

Saturday

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

Peruse the shops on Market St. before heading to brunch at Lox. This "bubbles and bagels" concept transitions to farm-to-table hot spot Rye on Market when the sun goes down. 

 "Bagels and bubbles" at Lox in Nulu

"Bagels and bubbles" at Lox in Nulu

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. 

 The real fun happens behind Whiskey Row at Hell or Highwater Bar

The real fun happens behind Whiskey Row at Hell or Highwater Bar

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

Sunday

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.

 Find what biscuit dreams are made of at Grale Haus 

Find what biscuit dreams are made of at Grale Haus 

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!

 

Super Bowl Superfoods

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 Dips

Creamy Black Bean Dip

The Pot of Goodness 

Quinoa Pumpkin Chili

Individualized Diets are the New "Diets"

My journey of testing endless recommended diets and finally finding relief from an elimination diet and listening to my own body.

 I was told to avoid cauliflower and many other of my good foods as part of a Low FODMOP diet (find this cauliflower in my recipes!)

I was told to avoid cauliflower and many other of my good foods as part of a Low FODMOP diet (find this cauliflower in my recipes!)

The Struggle.

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.

New Hope.

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.

The Journey.

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.

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. 

 I used to feel sick after eating most desserts- even if they were vegan and gluten free probably because of the soy in most chocolates. Now I can find or bake my own soy free cookies in order to indulge and feel good. (find these cookies in my recipes!)

I used to feel sick after eating most desserts- even if they were vegan and gluten free probably because of the soy in most chocolates. Now I can find or bake my own soy free cookies in order to indulge and feel good. (find these cookies in my recipes!)

Dairy Free Yogurt + Nice Cream

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. 

NICE CREAM

 Banana "whips" from HipCityVeg located in Philly and DC

Banana "whips" from HipCityVeg located in Philly and DC

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.  

 Vegan Banana Nut, Salted Caramel and PB Chocolate Chip with Cacao Nibs at Van Leeuwen

Vegan Banana Nut, Salted Caramel and PB Chocolate Chip with Cacao Nibs at Van Leeuwen

NYC/LA Winner

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! 

 Gluten free brownies in vegan banana based chocolate ice cream perfection

Gluten free brownies in vegan banana based chocolate ice cream perfection

Midwest Winner

Nana CremeThis 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. 

Online Winner

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. 

 Just a few frozen bananas + peanut butter and cacao nibs 

Just a few frozen bananas + peanut butter and cacao nibs 

DIY

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. 

YOGURT

  • 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. 

 

Sakara Life- Is it Worth it?

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! 💚

 This was mine and my husband's first week, but we will definitely be ordering again!

This was mine and my husband's first week, but we will definitely be ordering again!

 Sakara Life meals are all Plant-Based and packed with protein

Sakara Life meals are all Plant-Based and packed with protein

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. 

 The Earth Bowl and The Med Bowl- two of our favorite meals from the week

The Earth Bowl and The Med Bowl- two of our favorite meals from the week

 Love the Botanical Bodies campaign. I am always trying to improve my digestive health. 

Love the Botanical Bodies campaign. I am always trying to improve my digestive health. 

The Pros:

  • 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. 
 The meals came packed perfectly, organized and intact with plenty of reusable ice packs

The meals came packed perfectly, organized and intact with plenty of reusable ice packs

 This meal was the most creative (Asparagus/Turmeric/Beet toast) and surprisingly delicious

This meal was the most creative (Asparagus/Turmeric/Beet toast) and surprisingly delicious

 By far my favorite breakfast. Both the spirulina mylk and the  goji berry granola  were awesome. 

By far my favorite breakfast. Both the spirulina mylk and the goji berry granola were awesome. 

The Cons:

  • 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 breakfasts were great, but I needed to add fresh berries to mine for it to be complete.

The breakfasts were great, but I needed to add fresh berries to mine for it to be complete.

 My husband loved Sakara Life and only had to supplement the breakfast meals

My husband loved Sakara Life and only had to supplement the breakfast meals