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A Few of My Favorite Things

17 Sep

I love stumbling upon new ideas and things to try. Since I have not yet allowed myself to wander into the Pinterest world, I rely on articles from my hubby, suggestions of friends, and a few blogs I follow. I feel like a jack of all trades constantly trying new things, but once in a while something new really sticks. Here are a few of my newest favorite things:

1. The oil cleansing method. I wanted to blog about this immediately after I tried it, but I waited a few months to make sure I was a devoted follower. In an effort to detox, I ditched most of my skin care products after discovering they didn’t score very well on the EWG cosmetics database. I searched for safer alternatives and came to the conclusion that I could either spend WAY too much money on a fancy organic skin care line or I could go back to the basics. I chose the basics. Try this: Pour a large dollop of castor oil and another large dollop of your favorite oil (I like avocado or jojoba) in the palm of your hand. Rub hands together to mix oils and apply to face in circular motions for a minute or so. Take a hot wash cloth, ring it out, and let it set on your face for a bit to let your pores open and oil soften. Repeat, and then gently wipe remaining oil off with washcloth. Go to bed. Wake up to skin that feels amazing. Repeat every night. The pain of washing washcloths and taking a little extra time quickly wore off for me. Now, I look forward to it nightly because it has been so beneficial. I no longer need a separate moisturizer and my face does not look shiny by 10am anymore! For more detailed instructions, read here.

2. Dry brushing. I’ll admit I came across this after searching for natural “cellulite” remedies during swim-suit season. While I’m not convinced of that benefit, it is amazingly invigorating and makes me feel just plain good. It is also the cheapest and easiest way to exfoliate, stimulate blood and lymph circulation, tighten and tone skin, stimulate oil and sweat glands, improve nervous system function, aid digestion, and prevent premature aging. My routine includes first thing in the morning to wake up my body, and then again post workout before I hit the shower. Here is a how-to video and further reading.

3. Liquid Castile soap. This has been my go-to soap for many things: face wash in the shower, body wash, and kids shampoo/body wash. I like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Dr. Woods Liquid Castile soap (most grocery stores at least carry Dr. Woods).  It can be used full strength for skin cleansing, and diluted for shampoos, household cleaners, and laundry detergent! A little goes a long way, which is an added bonus for the budget. Plus, combined with dry brushing, the need for lotions and moisturizers afterwards is almost non-existent. Organic soaps and oils aside, I’m certainly far from all-natural elitist–just taking steps towards a less toxic life. I too spent a half an hour sampling all the new pumpkin scents at Bath and Body Works the other day and buy my kids funky character themed soaps, because sometimes things like that bring worthwhile smiles.

4. Protein packed coffee. In a perfect world I have eggs or some type of animal protein for breakfast every morning with a handful of nuts, but busy mornings happen more often than not. Try this: In a to-go coffee mug mix 8oz hot coffee, a splash or two of unsweetened almond or coconut milk, and a serving of your favorite protein powder. I stick my blender bottle insert in my Contigo travel mug, shake it up, and it’s perfect. Yum. It makes a great pre-workout breakfast, plus coffee IS very beneficial!

Here’s to trying something new!

Heather

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” ~F.D.R

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Favorite Strawberry Muffins

16 May

Strawberry picking season is here!  Since strawberries are one of the most heavily contaminated crops, buying organic or local are your best bets.  Not only do they taste a million times better, they are richer in antioxidants, and not laden with harmful pesticides.  Resist the urge to buy the commercially grown strawberries on sale 2 for $6.99.  I will admit that was me, in the dark and loading up my cart, remaining naive so I didn’t have to pay more.  I slowly realized that all of my time spent ensuring I was eating clean and cutting out toxic foods (sugar, grains, gluten) was partly in vain.  I was ignoring the chemicals in my otherwise clean choices. Read here.  No better day to start than today! OK, on with the recipe.

This is my family’s favorite muffin.  I can even get my pickier oldest to pack them in her lunch.  They’re made from nutrient packed coconut flour, super food coconut oil, sweetened only with strawberries and puréed banana, and inspired from one of my favorite recipe sites–Comfy Belly.  The strawberries keep them super moist and you’ll never believe they don’t have a ton of honey or agave to make them so sweet.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 heaping cup strawberries, diced fine (this is about one plastic container)

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine first three ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients (minus strawberries) to food processor or mini chopper and combine thoroughly.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly.  The batter will become thick quickly, this is normal.  Fold in diced strawberries.  Spoon batter into lightly greased (with coconut oil) muffin tins or non-stick liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Makes about 10-12 standard muffins or 18-24 mini muffins.
**Pictures are from a double batch

Enjoy,

Heather

Getting Started 2nd edition

19 Jan

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My local gym is about to embark on a 6 week paleo challenge so I thought it would be an appropriate time to re-visit some how- to-get-started tips and tricks. The process does not always have to be “cold turkey,” but I’m going to focus on that strategy this time. Plus, I’m a very all or nothing type of person. If I have a purpose (a WHY!), clear instructions, and a plan, I am all over it. Hopefully this will help you wherever you are on your journey. No one’s perfect, I know I could use a little re-set to knock out the little things I’ve let creep back into my life.

1. Read, read, and read some more. For those of you know me well, I’m not a big read for pleasure kind of gal but the minute I opened Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint, I couldn’t put it down. The same thing happened when I started reading the Hartwig’s It Starts With Food. The key for me is knowing the science behind WHY eating a primal/paleo diet is beneficial and HOW it’s going to help me build lean muscle, burn fat, and fight silent but deadly inflammation throughout my body.

2. Understand it, share it with your loved ones, and OWN it. Be able to explain to your loved ones and co-workers (in an excited, yet not overpowering or demeaning way!) why eating real foods will heal you from the inside out. Don’t pass it off as a trend or only do it because “CrossFit people are into it.” Own it for yourself and know how it will change your life.

3. Purge the pantry, fridge and freezer. Don’t let yourself be tempted by past vices. Start fresh and don’t give yourself the option to fail.

  • processed, packaged, or preserved foods
  • grains and grain products (pasta, rice, breads, frozen pancakes, flour)
  • sugar and all artificial sweeteners
  • chemically altered fats and certain oils (vegetable oil, margarine, anything that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)

4. Donate non-perishables. A couple of years ago my local Salvation Army was readily accepting of my Costco stock pile of whole wheat pasta and Goldfish crackers.

5. Immediately (if not sooner!) stock up on staples. We updated and organized our shopping list staples just for you!

6. Develop meal plans to ease transition. Pick 6-7 meal ideas and make shopping lists for the week. Or, make ahead meals for busy nights and easy access.

7. Have no/minimal prep snacks readily available. Arm yourself so you don’t have the option to make bad choices.

  • hardboiled eggs
  • fresh fruit
  • trail mix with unsweetened dried fruit
  • nitrate free beef jerky
  • nitrate free deli meat rolled up with some mustard inside
  • cut up veggies/fruit-our dear friend Suzanne always has a big Tupperware type tray of pre-sliced veggies and fruits stocked in the fridge when the snack bug hits–brilliant!
  • larabars
  • canned tuna and salmon
  • egg cupcakes

8. Keep it simple. Stay away from the baked goods and desserts tab for now. Don’t immediately try to re-invent old favorites, start new habits first.

  • Eat lots of meat and veggies first. Then, add some fruit, nuts, and seeds.
  • It doesn’t always have to be fancy. Sauté a couple of pounds of ground meat, throw in some spices, and steam a huge bag of frozen veggies. Or, pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve it on a huge bed of spinach. Done.
  • “Paleo” desserts and baked goods have their place for special occasions, but a muffin is always a muffin unless it’s made out of meat. While the almond flour and honey may not spike your insulin quite as much or cause inflammation from gluten, they are still calorically dense and will not help you if you have any weight loss or body composition goals.
  • Pack your lunch, even if you’re not going anywhere. Make a big salad with lots of veggies and protein in a Tupperware and eat it at lunch time. Fuel your body when it’s not crying out for food, and you will always make better choices. It’s kind of like never going grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Think of food as fuel. Don’t get emotional with it. Let go of the need to use food to satisfy cravings, calm your stress, or fill some sort of void. 

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OK, enough information overload. Bookmark this post and refer back to it as you continue on your journey. I’ll leave you with a statement from It Starts with Food that I repeat to myself many times throughout the day…

“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy.
Those are your options.”

Happy weekend,

Heather

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