To say the times are troubling is a bit of an understatement. There is uncertainty everywhere, along with fear, despair and desperation.
There is a lot we can't control right now and while I get that can be scary that is also why I believe it is important to take charge of what we CAN control and focus on those things instead. When we bring some order to our own personal environment, it can lessen a lot of fears, anxiety and negative thought loops.
So, what are some things we can control in our lives? Our thoughts and attitude, our daily choices for what to wear, what to eat, what to watch, what we buy and have in our homes. We are the gatekeepers of our homes and ourselves. We can make our personal environments more soothing, relaxing, organized and welcoming. We can make our homes a safe haven where we can truly let go and feel calm and safe.
So, how do we do that? Well, for me it means making sure my home is well stocked, clean, organized and comfortable. I like to have plenty of books, board games, playing cards and arts & crafts on hand for my kids. For myself I prefer books to keep me occupied or I might look for some new recipes to try for a family meal. I clean out closets and keep things organized. I shop for second hand items I'm on the hunt for and take care of my Tower Gardens.
Lately, making sure my home is well stocked with plenty of healthy, nutritious food for my family of eight has been a priority so I thought I'd share how I'm doing that and what I'm getting without shopping in stores much. The items I purchase are gluten free, NON GMO and (mostly) natural.
Amazon Prime has been a life saver for helping me acquire some hard to find items or buy some in bulk like Peanut Butter! My kids love peanut butter and it's a quick source of protein. We like the Jif Natural Creamy and Crunchy. I've also found an Almond Butter we like too! Almond butter is more expensive but we use it on toast or a small spoonful in a smoothie -- a little goes a long way and it's a great source of healthy fats and protein!
Here are few more things I get from Amazon to stock my pantry and home:
Dehydrated Veggies These are great for soups, stews or casseroles! They will also keep for a long time on your pantry shelves!
Cheddar Cheese Powder This stuff is so versatile! I add it to boxed Macaroni & Cheese for some extra cheesy flavor, on top of popcorn, in casseroles or for cheese-y potato soup!
Cream soups! These are must for so many dishes! Casseroles, creamy rice or pasta dishes, soups and more! I get this cream of chicken and cream of mushroom.
Instant Mashed Potatoes I use these to thicken up mashed potatoes that a bit too thin, to thicken up soups or make potato cakes -- lots of uses for them and great to have on hand for quick use!
Tuna, Salmon and Chicken in cans. Not only are they shelf stable and quick sources of protein but they are ready to go for adding on top of salads, casseroles, a quick snack or for a sandwich if you add some mayo and other spices. These brands are sustainable and the tuna is tested for mercury.
Whole Milk Powder Shelf stable and versatile. This can be used for creamer or as a substitute for milk in recipes. You can even make sweetened condensed milk with it (though I do confess I've never tried it -- yet!). Evaporated milk and whipped topping can be made with powdered milk plus yogurt, oatmeal packets, hot chocolate, curds, ricotta, cottage cheese AND use it for a milk bath or face mask & soothing skin treatment! Whew! I had no idea you could make all of that with powdered milk!
Oils -- for cooking, salads and smoothies or "bullet proof" coffee... Here are my faves from Amazon: MCT/Fractionated Coconut Oil Avocado Oil Unrefined Coconut Oil (will have more of a coconut taste to it) Naturally Refined Coconut Oil (more neutral flavor), Olive Oil 128 oz or 32 oz, and Palm Shortening. Some I use for cooking like Avocado oil, palm shortening and coconut oil (refined or unrefined). Others are for sauteéing (Olive oil) and the palm shortening is great for baking and making frosting/icing for cakes. The MCT Coconut oil is useful for cooking as well, but I primarily use it for bullet proof coffee, in smoothies and with my essential oils (which you can learn more about here.)
Salt -- VERY important to have on hand not just for seasoning food but for making electrolyte drinks at home. Our body needs salt. My favorite are Pink Himalayan Salt, Celtic Sea Salt and Redmond Real Salt. All are natural, unbleached and provide trace minerals. The sea salt is great for making rubs for meat to grill or smoke! The other two work wonderfully for all other cooking and baking plus table salt. (Read to the end of the post for a home made Electrolyte drink -- I keep these ingredients on hand for the summer but this recipe can be used year around to ward off dehydration.)
Thrive Market is another source I use for shelf stable foods, dried goods, nuts and more. Use my link to save some $$$ on your first order. I get gluten free pasta, sauces, condiments, baking supplies and a lot more from them! Their store brand, Thrive Market, is very good and high quality too!
Boxed.com is another site I use that has name brand, organic and some gluten free items. I can find some things my family likes and eats in bulk which saves me some dollars at checkout. Shipping is usually around five bucks and comes pretty quickly. Sorry, no referral code for this one -- the prices are great though and I love the convenience!
Butcher Box is where I get the majority of my meat. They have a wide variety of humanely raised and grass fed meats. It comes to my door, still frozen, and individually wrapped. I can choose what I want to get each month as well. There are two sizes of boxes to choose from as well. The Classic Box is 9-14 lbs of meat and the Big Box is 18-26 lbs of meat. My family of eight gets two of the big boxes a month and it is more than enough for us but I like to have some extra on hand.
I also use Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods as well. Both of these services offer produce that might other wise be thrown away but is perfectly safe to eat which saves you and me money! We get some good quality supplies and food doesn't go to waste. There are options to customize your orders and choose when and how often you receive them too. Use my referral links to save you some dollars on your first order! The Misfits Market link will save you 25% on your first order and the Imperfect Foods link will give you $10 to apply towards your first order.
Imperfect foods has both conventional and organic produce plus some meats, cheeses and shelf stable foods.
You can also look for a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, in your area. This is usually locally grown produce and meats that you can pick up in your area or sometimes have delivered. Here's where to find one close to you: CSA And here is some helpful info on CSA's so you can choose what's right for you.
I also place a monthly order with Azure Standard. This is a site where you can order a lot of bulk items and there is usually a local "drop site" where you go to pick up the order that is delivered by a semi truck and trailer (refrigerated and frozen foods too!). You can find our more information about them here. I get dried beans, rice, canned goods, cheeses, condiments and many other items from them monthly. It saves me a lot of time and trips to the store when feeding my family of eight, but is also something a smaller family can take advantage of as well. I love the mission, message and focus of this business! I appreciate that I can get healthy items for my family and support a family business as well. To find out where they deliver and if there is a drop site near you, go here.
This will be the last post in this series on recognizing Adrenal "Fatigue" or HPA Axis Dysregulation. This one will list out some oils you can use topically and some internally.
~Endoflex (topically and internally)
~Magnify Your Purpose (topically and diffuse
~Nutmeg (topically and internally
~German Chamomile (topically and internally)
~Clove (topically and internally)
~EnRGee (topically and diffuse)
To 1/4 tsp of a carrier oil add:
3 drops of Clove
3 drops of Nutmeg
7 drops of Rosemary
Massage in the skin over your adrenals and lower back. Cover with a warm washcloth and then cover that with a dry towel. Relax and let sit for 20 minutes.
You can also put the same oils in a capsule and take 2x a day. I do one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Adrenal "Fatigue" or HPA Axis Dysregulation, Part 1
Have you heard of "Adrenal Fatigue".. It is a real thing, but that's not exactly an accurate name for it. It is starting to be recognized by doctors but they are calling it something else which is a bit more accurate: HPA-D or HPA Axis Dysregulation. The HPA axis is a complicated set of relationships and signals that exist between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenals. This relationship is an absolutely indispensable part of our existence. It’s a complicated subject, and the way that the adrenals, the pituitary gland, and hypothalamus interact with each other has been the subject of considerable research.
I'm going to do my best to give you a bit of information about the Adrenals right now, though. What happens with dysregulation is that the adrenal glands don’t really get ‘tired’ in the way that you might expect. What happens is that, after a period of chronic stress, your body starts to run out of the hormone precursor material that it uses to make certain hormones. As this continues, it becomes more and more difficult for your body to produce the required levels of stress hormones, sex hormones, and other hormones and neurotransmitters. That’s when the ‘fatigue’ starts to kick in, and that’s when you need to offer your body some extra support.
I am already supporting my adrenals with some essential oils that I apply topically and adrenal support supplementation as well.
Here are some symptoms of Adrenal "Fatigue" or HPA Axis Dysregulation
1. Difficulty getting up in the a.m. after a long night's sleep
2. High Levels of Fatigue Each Day
3. Inability to Handle Stress
4. Cravings for Salty Foods
5. Higher Energy Levels in the Evenings
6. Overuse of Stimulants Like Sugar and Caffeine
7. A Weakened Immune System
Plus 17 more are also possible linked to HPA Axis Dysregulation
Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
Dark circles under the eyes
Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
Lines in your fingertips
Loss of muscle tone
Low blood pressure
Low blood sugar
Low sex drive
Lower back pain
Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
Next up, I'll share some information I found that will help you support your Adrenals and overall health so you can hopefully avoid dysregulation of these vital glands and system.
I often get asked what I keep in my pantry, where do I get my supplies and what do I keep on hand -- so, I thought I'd sit down and write some of it out in a blog post that I can easily share when I get that question! Complete with links to where I purchase and brands! Because I'm an Amazon affiliate, I have to mention that there WILL be affiliate links in this post for my favorite items from Amazon Prime. Don't worry, you don't pay any more than normal, there is NO price increase; I just get a little something back for sharing and encouraging others to buy products I love and use.
Ok! Now that we have the "business" out of the way, let's get to the good stuff! I keep several things on hand at all times because they go in so many of my recipes and many sub for other things that I may be out of or forgot at the store.
1. Organic Coconut Milk (canned)
In a pinch, it subs for cream in many recipes, can be added to smoothies for extra calories and a healthy fat for your brain health and is great if you're on a more keto based diet or watching your carbs. I don't find that it gives my dishes an especially coconut-y flavor either.
2. Himalayan Pink Salt
Salt is necessary for many functions in the body (but that's a whole blog post on its own). I don't use regular table salt. It has been bleached and had iodine added to it. Salts like this have naturally occurring minerals and benefit the body. I use it in my dishes and in my salt shakers and for my homemade Electrolyte Drink. Summer is coming so I'll be making this up soon and sharing the recipe with ya!
3. Celtic Pink Salt
Yes, two different kinds of salt from two different sources. They will have slightly different mineral contents and I want to make sure we get plenty of minerals! Minerals are needed by the body to absorb nutrients from foods. Also great for adding to my Electrolyte recipe!
4. Great Lakes Collagen Powder
Collagen is something we lose over time, as we age, so I supplement with it this way. It is tasteless and non-detectable in smoothies or when added to soups. It helps maintain the health of gut and our joints.
5. Fever Tree Ginger Ale (Bottles or Cans)
For nausea, upset tummy or when feeling slightly "peckish" as my grandmother used to say, this helps so much! This is the BEST ginger ale I have ever tasted and it's not fake, it's the REAL stuff! And let's face it, when our tummies are upset, a cold, fizzy drink does the trick and this one is better for you than the fake stuff or a lemon lime drink. My kids like this better than anything else I've tried when their tummy is rumbling.
6. Protein Powder (Chocolate or Vanilla)
I like this brand because of the clean ingredients AND my kids love it! It is great on it's own or as a based to add other things you might like. We often add some peanut butter and banana to the chocolate. Vanilla is good with banana and strawberry. The flavors are deep enough and rich enough to add things like kale or spinach for extra nutrients too! I like having a good protein powder on hand for quick breakfasts and even a snack. We just make a smaller serving or split it up between us to tide us over until the next meal. This is so much healthier than chips or a cookie too but it gives that bit of sweetness you might be craving. It's like having a treat that is healthy for you! **BONUS TIP: They make a great frozen treat if you have some popsicle molds!
7. Chocolate Chips
These are my favorite chocolate chips. They are rich chocolate taste made with REAL ingredients and are allergen free too! Which is important for my house. We add these to chocolate chip cookies of course, but also on top of a banana with some nut butter, or in smoothies, in a trail mix, to pancakes, on top of ice cream and more!
My daughter, 11 years old, is the baker in the family so I need to have shortening on hand at all times. She lets me know if we are out! Haha! I want something that is not full of chemicals or from an unknown source. This one does the trick! Plus it gets used with the next product I keep on hand.....
9. Organic Popcorn
We like popcorn but we also prefer it free of GMO's! YUCK! This one is great and pops good too! The taste of freshly popped popcorn with real butter and some pink salt is so delicious! You have got to try it!
10. Frontier Co-Op Spices
They are the best quality I've ever used with great flavor and I buy in bulk so that I save some $$$ too!
Here is what I like to keep on hand as I use these in a lot of recipes:
I like to use jars like this or this to store my bulk spices in in my cabinet. I use jars I've saved to store whatever is left in the bag they came in. You can then either store in an extra cabinet away from moisture or even freeze until you need to refill your jars in your cabinet.
I have racks like this in my cabinet to stack and organize my jars on. I use labels like this or sharpie to mark on the lid what it in the jar. I like having extra label on hand for lots of things, so extras always come in handy!
These are just some of my basics I use for cooking and making meals. I plan to do another pantry post about flours and other things I have on hand for baking. I hope this list was helpful and gets you on your way to having a healthy, well stocked kitchen!
Every woman wants to look and feel her best, right? But beauty shouldn't come at the price of our health or harm to our bodies. Many ingredients found in make up, skin care and other beauty based products are very harmful to our physical health -- and we are using so many products per day that it really starts to add up! You can get great results with natural based products that don't contain harmful ingredients. Watch this video on the history of cosmetics.
Here is a list of some of the worst ingredients found in common beauty products you find at your local department store, the mall or even from online stores. Things that come with some hefty health warnings and possible cancer causing properties too! (I call them the Dirty Dozen)
BHA and BHT are Endocrine Disruptors and carcinogens used mainly in cosmetics as preservatives.
Coal tar dyes are carcinogens, have a heavy metal toxicity and are commonly found in processed foods, lipstick and hair dyes.
DEA-related ingredients are also carcinogens and are found in cream or foaming products such as moisturizers or shampoos.
Dibutyl phthalates are Endocrine disruptors, as well as reproductive toxicants and are commonly used in nail care products.
Formaldehyde releasing preservatives are carcinogenic and are used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives.
Parabens, also Endocrine disruptors that may especially interfere with male reproductive health and are used in cosmetics in preservatives as well.
Parfum/Fragrance, carcinogenic, can cause neurotoxicity, allergies and skin sensitivities and are used in a variety of products to add "aroma". Companies do not have to disclose the ingredients, which can be many, due to them being classified as a "trade secret".
PEG Compounds are commonly used as a base for cosmetic creams and can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane which is most likely a carcinogen.
Petolatum is also a carcinogen and is often used in hair products for whien and as a moisture barrier in lip balms and lip sticks.
Siloxanes, also Endocrine Disruptors and a reproductive toxicant are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten.
Sodium laureth sulfates, also another carcinogen, used in foaming cosmetics, shampoos, cleansers and bubble baths.
Tricolsans, yet another Endocrine Distuptor, can cause antiobiotic resistance and are found in toothpaste, cleansers and antiperspirants.
soften, smooth & moisten
What is an Endocrine Disruptor? That is a chemical that may interfere with the body's Endocrine System. This can cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) says: "There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones, decreasing production of others; Imitating hormones, turning one hormone into another, interfering with hormone signaling, telling cells to die prematurely, competing with essential nutrients, binding to essential hormones and accumulating in organs that produce hormones."
There are safe and effective alternatives to products that contain these harmful ingredients. Products you can feel safe using and confident in their benefits to your skin and overall health -- and you can have them delivered! You can even make your own! Check out my DIY recipe for make up remover wipes; I'll include it at the end!
I want healthy alternatives for my family, don't you? I want something safe, pure and free of harmful and harsh chemicals!
If you'd like to know about something safe, effective and free of all the yuck.. contact me!
Several years ago, I was introduced to the Gluten Free Diet. At first, I felt overwhelmed by all of the information about why gluten was an issue for some people. I read up on Celiac Disease. I read why it was becoming an issue for many people and about the increase in digestive issues. The more I read, the more it resonated with me and linked to my own struggle to balance my digestive health.(I had tried other options like medication and it didn't help like I had hoped. My doctor said it was stress/anxiety related, but the digestive issues were what was CAUSING my stress and anxiety, so that didn't make sense to me.) It seemed my digestion couldn't decide what foods it liked and which it didn't. By the time I had heard about gluten sensitivity/intolerance, my gut was a mess and I had developed some mild anxiety over the unpredictability of my digestive system; It led to some embarrassing moments and mad dashes to the closest bathroom. It was not fun and I was not healthy. I constantly felt bloated and looked puffy. I didn't eat much yet weight didn't come off. Most of the things I ate seemed to go right through me as well. So something was definitely very off.
Let me backtrack for just a minute-- I have a son who is diagnosed with Autism. He is now 20 years old. When I first heard of gluten (and casein), he was around 3 (???) I think. Anyway, I implemented the GFCF diet for him first. We saw huge changes for him almost right away. He is now able to consume organic dairy/cheese products but continues to be gluten free as his body still does not tolerate it. It was seeing how much it changed things for the better for him that made me think I should look into trying it for myself.
So, back to my journey being gluten free! About 12 years ago, I decided to try gluten free eating for myself. It was partly to see if it would help improve my own health and digestive issues but also make cooking meals easier too. I was tired of cooking almost two separate meals on occasion because my son was GF while the rest of us ate wheat based products. It made meal preparation much more of a chore and I generally enjoy cooking. I had made other changes to the way we, as a family, ate that included more fresh veggies and fruit. We all definitely saw health improvements like better sleep, fewer allergies, skin issues improved or disappeared, brain fog lifted and we had more energy.
At first, my journey into gluten free cooking and eating was expensive. I made a rookie mistake: I replaced all of my regular wheat based products with gluten free products. It is no lie, or secret, when people say those pre-made, packaged gluten free products are costly. They are. However, many are not necessary. Most of the things I felt I needed to replace were items I needed to drop from our diet all together or at least limit. So, it is possible to eat gluten free AND stay within a budget. (Gluten free cookies, cakes, pies, etc.. are not any healthier for you than wheat based products. The truth is, we didn't need to have those things every week. We now save that for special occasions, once in a while treats and we make our own most of the time rather than by pre-made sweet treats.)
If you suspect you have an issue with Gluten, please visit this site to get more information. There is a free download. I encourage you to take charge of your own health; You know your body best. If your current doctor won't help you in the way of tests or advice, then please find one who will. Gluten sensitivity is reported to effect up to 6% of American, or 18 million people. If you are one of them, you are not alone. The flours and products available now have improved so much since I started and there is very little that I miss now.
There is a bit of a learning curve when baking with gluten free flours and since baking is not my strength when it comes to cooking, I leave that up to the experts and buy flour blends and follow recipes that others create! That being said, there are some products that I, and my family, prefer over others. I'm going to share those with you in this blog post plus other sources of organic, healthy, naturally gluten free foods.
First up, King Arthur Gluten Free flour and mixes are the bomb dot com! They have the best flavor, texture and come the closest to being like wheat based products. My whole family, even the three who are NOT 100% GF, love their mixes for brownies or chocolate chip cookies! They are yummy!
I can find them in stores like Target and sometimes Walmart, but I prefer to buy on Amazon and buy in bulk. It saves a little money and time -- and fighting crowds at the stores too!
This Brownie Mix is so yummy! You won't miss a thing! That link will get you 6 boxes and that's a steal at only $4.29/box. They are at least a dollar more at the store if purchased individually. You will always have some extra on hand in case you need a quick dessert for a party at a friend's house or impromptu guests.
For Pancakes, we like this mix from Birch Benders. Everyone eats them and loves them! We sometimes add chocolate chips, blueberries or banana to ours! Yum! They also have keto (chocolate chip), plain keto, and paleo.
The muffin mix from King Arthur is another favorite too. The best price I've found is on Vitacost.com They have a LOT of gluten free products to offer! Be sure and check them out! They have hundreds of products! I found many for way less than what I pay at the grocery store.
Another site I like is Boxed.com. Their selection is a bit smaller but they have some really great deals on gluten free snacks. Check them out here. I like to have some ready-to-go snacks on hand for trips and long days running errands and their prices are just right! Many of these are healthier options that have some decent protein and not a lot of sugar.
Thrivemarket.com is another source to find some good deals on gluten free foods and for hard to find items too. There is a membership fee if you want to get the best prices, special deals, samples, free gifts and free shipping. Here is a link to their gluten free products. The membership fees are reasonable. You can opt for month to month and pay $9.95/month OR do a yearly at 50% off and also receive a $20 credit to use on your first order over $49. Shipping is free on your first order over $25 and then on all orders that exceed $49. I found prices to be at least the same as what I'd pay at the store or .20-.50 cents cheaper. They have their own brand of some items that would save you even more.
If you want to have a gluten free flour blend on hand to use for pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.. then there are two that we really like that give us the best results, flavor and texture. One is Namaste flour mix and the other is the King Arthur flour blend. If you need a larger amount of the King Arthur blend or you want to stock up, then they have this deal for two 3lb packs. King Arthur also has a Paleo flour blend too. All are available on Amazon. Costco also offers the Namaste brand. I found the King Arthur blend on Thrive Market's site along with Bob's Red Mill Baking blend which we have used and liked. (These are currently out of stock but one feature I found on the Thrive Market site that is helpful is a reminder can be sent when and item you want is out of stock, just click the bar underneath!) You can get the Bob's Red Mill blend on Amazon as well.
Amazon also has Prime Pantry, which has thousands of items to stock your kitchen with and any order over $35 ships FREE if you are a Prime member. If you are not a Prime member, you can still order from Prime Pantry and only pay $5.99 on shipping.
Amazon Prime also offers Subscribe & Save. Add items to your cart that are eligible and choose how often and the quantity you want delivered. You can save up to an additional 15%. This works for many items, including supplements and food items. Many household items, like laundry detergent can be eligible too. You can stop at any time, cancel an item whenever you want or skip it if you don't need it that month. You can find a list of Gluten free baking and flours here.
I'd also like to mention two other ways I get some of my kitchen staples like flours, spices, frozen veggies and fruits, condiments and other items. Those are Azure Standard and Frontier Co-Op. For these options someone has to be a coordinator and there is a minimum order limit too. So you will have to find one in your area or become on yourself. These two companies have great standards and also organic, gluten free options. I like the convenience of ordering online and picking it up all at once.
You can check out Azure Standard here. Click on "Where we deliver" to check for availability in your area.
You can find out more about Frontier Co-Op here and their options to join here. I get almost all of my spices from them plus other items like shelf stable foods, kitchen tools (Check out the SKRUB cloths for kitchen cleaning!). They have so much to offer!
I do some shopping in stores like Costco or Sam's Club. Both have a fairly decent selection of gluten free products. Here is what I found at Sam's Club. They do have organic gluten free items too. I also noticed that some items are only available online and can be shipped. Their membership options can be found here. I noticed with the Select Plus membership, they offer 2% back in rewards on eligible items.
Costco's selection is a bit larger, you need an account to be able to view the selections in this link. I found flour, pasta, condiments, trail mix, protein powders, supplements, fresh fruits and veggies and of course meats plus other products online and at the store as well. They do let you do a walk around to check out what they offer before purchasing a membership. They basically have 2 types of membership. One is $60 per year for an individual or business the other is a the Gold Star Executive which is $120 per year for an individual or business. The Gold Star Executive rewards you with 2% on eligible purchases. My first rewards check, which must be spent at Costco, was $160! The business memberships have a few extras that individual memberships don't, you can learn about that here.
Other options for obtaining naturally gluten free, fresh foods like vegetables and fruit are Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods. Both "rescue" foods that would otherwise be thrown out because of slight imperfections or over stock. I use both and have chosen to get deliveries from them on alternating weeks. The option to choose my delivery dates and personalize my boxes is one thing I like about both of these services. Imperfect Foods also offers other items like oats, meats and other shelf stable foods as well. You can check them both out here and here. Use my code COOKWME-EW5XHK with Misfits Market at check out to save 25% on your first box.
You'll get $10 to shop with using my Imperfect Foods link. You can check out what I've received from these services on my Instagram account here. Scroll through my pictures or search #MisfitsMarket and #ImperfectFoods
I also use a subscription service for healthy, grass fed, humanely raised meats. Butcher Box is my choice. You can check them out here. Currently, due to high demand, there is a wait list. But we have loved everything we have gotten from there -- especially the burgers! The best I've ever eaten. You can't beat the convenience. They have monthly member deals and usually sign up deals as well.
My second choice for quality, grass fed, delivered meats is Crowd Cow. You can check them out here. There selection is a little broader than that of Butcher Box, but I also find their site a little more confusing. I like that Butcher Box has two sizes of boxes and tells you up front what each box will cost. Crowd Cow has different suppliers and you can choose from them, according to availability and price but I find it difficult to understand how I'm building my box -- it might just be me though! LOL.
Lastly, there is U.S. Wellness meats, also known as Grassland. You can check out their offerings here. I have not personally ordered from them, but I know they have been around a long time. Their prices are admittedly higher than most, but they are still a resource for finding quality meat that can be delivered.
Another resources is to check out what you can get locally from farmers and CSA's. Those are Community Supported Agriculture farms. They offer shares you can purchase each year. Some are for produce, others might be for meat like beef, chicken, pork or all 3.
Here are some links to find some in your area:
United States Department of Agriculture
and here are some tips on choosing one right for you.
I hope this helps you stock your kitchen with healthy, gluten free foods, spices, flours, produce and meats for your family! If you have something specific you're looking for, drop me a comment and I'll try and locate it for you! If you know of a resource I haven't listed, please share!
Please check out my other blog posts as well -- I often share my meals I make for my family and they are always gluten free, sometimes keto or paleo too! I do my best to make them healthy and filling while being budget friendly too. Soon, I'll have an e-book ready with some of my family's favorites AND a special members only area for getting new recipes weekly! Both will be reasonably priced and budget friendly too!
Here's to happy, healthy, gluten free living!
“Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.”
― Ann Wigmore
I am so proud of myself right now! I have been consistently meal planning for several weeks now and I am definitely seeing the fruit of my labors! I have several weeks of meals either printed or written down, saved and tried & tested! I am now able to rotate those meals, adding a new one every few weeks or so to keep it fresh and not as repetitive. PLUS, my stress level is way down and my budget is reasonable. We are eating healthy, whole foods that are also gluten free and grain free (most of the time). **I also credit this to doing the bulk of my shopping at Costco, if you don't have a membership and you have one near you, I highly suggest you get one! It is a money and time saver!
I can find so many healthy, organic, gluten free and whole food options there and with my large family it is saving me money and many things are lasting us 2 weeks! #bonus I make a short trip to a smaller grocery store for some incidentals that I can't find at Costco, but they have about 95% of what I need.
So, what are we having this week? I'm glad you asked!
#TacoFries You just roast some potatoes in the oven to get them a little brown and crispy *(If you have an air fryer, then use it and save even more time and have less mess!) While the potatoes are cooking, I cook my ground beef, or chicken, and season it. Vegetarian or Vegan? No problem, sub some yummy black beans with all the seasonings! You can use regular potatoes OR sweet potatoes. If I roast some sweet potatoes, then I season them with salt, pepper and some child spice blend! #YUM Once my potatoes are done, the toppings go on! The meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, avocado, cheese, sour cream, cilantro! You could do black beans, corn and salsa! So delicious!
Sloppy Joe Hash & Kale Salad Roast those sweet potatoes and while they are cooking, make some Sloppy Joe mix with your ground beef instead of taco seasonings. Top the roasted sweet potatoes with it and a little cheddar cheese. Serve with some slaw or a kale salad! Your tastebuds will love you! and so will your body! Sweet potatoes are so good for you! We are actually having this, this week too! I like simple, but healthy meals!
I'm in a mood for soups! My family LOVES Potato Soup so I'm making some this week. The best part is the Instant Pot does the hard part once I'm done adding all of my ingredients! It's so good and so filling! To make sure we get some veggies I serve with a side salad. I keep it simple: Romaine, Arugula, Tomato, Hard Boiled egg for some protein and a vinaigrette dressing of olive oil, lemon vitality essential oil, some ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), salt and pepper. So good! **I've also been known to put some kale and/or spinach in my food processor and get it really find, then add to my soups. Extra nutrition and the fam doesn't even notice!**
I add the following to my large 8 quart IP:
Potatoes to just below the max fill line. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes. They give the best flavor and texture.
It needs some liquid so I add some canned coconut milk, organic chicken broth (or bone broth if I have some on hand) and some organic cream. Usually equal parts of these three things and you need enough to mostly cover the potatoes.
I chop up a medium yellow onion and add it in as well.
My seasonings are: Salt, Pepper to taste. Garlic, about 2 TBSP, Oregano, Thyme and Basil Vitality oils.. approximately 2 drops each. This just MAKES the soup POP! Those flavors go so well with the potatoes!
While my soup cooks, I have some bacon in my oven for topping it off! You can also have things like sour cream, chives and cheese to add to your bowl! So good! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
I'm also making a Taco Soup for next Tuesday (or maybe on Sunday because FOOTBALL STARTS and my husband and one of my sons are serious Pittsburgh Steelers fans and this would make a great meal for that night!) I'll serve this with some rice and Cauli-Rice, but tortilla chips are also an option if you are not grain free but want to remain gluten free.
Anyway, this one is going in the large crock pot I have. Here's what you need:
2 lbs Ground beef, grassfed is best!
Brown it in a skillet, just add a little salt and pepper while cooking it. Drain and add to your crock pot. **You could also do shredded chicken or chorizo!
Then add the rest of the ingredients:
1 large can of Tomato Sauce
1 container of organic Beef Broth
One medium onion, diced
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 TBSP Smoked Paprika
Several heaping spoonfuls of Green Chilies, I get them at Costco and they are so good! **(Picture below!)
3, or more, TBSP of Garlic! It's so good in this!
2 TBSP of Cumin
Cream Cheese... this is what MAKES the soup! Rich, creamy and delicious!
Dump all of the above in the crock pot, along with the cooked meat and set on Low for 4 hours on on High for 2 hours.
Garnish with some diced bell peppers, cilantro and cheddar cheese!
Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers are on the plan this week! I cut mine in half to make it easier to eat. Bell Peppers are on sale this week at Fresh Thyme market so I can get plenty for this meal, plus my Taco Soup and Taco Fries!
This is another super easy meal! Brown your favorite sausage then add add onion, mushroom, Cauli-Rice and chopped kale. I add these at the end so they don't get mushy in the oven after I stuff my pepper halves. I stir in a just a bit of heavy whipping cream. I don't want it runny, so maybe 1/3 cup or less. I want a thick mixture. Once it's done I spoon this onto the pepper halves that are waiting on a baking tray (I love these stainless steel ones from Amazon!) After they are all filled, I top with some Parmesan cheese and bake until done. So yummy!
That's it for this week as we have a dinner out one night--Yay for a night off! We will have some leftovers from all of this as well. (I hope! Hahaha!)
Happy, healthy eating!
If you haven't read the first part of this series, you might be a little lost if you start with this one. Read my first blog post about my family's journey to wellness here.
I left off in my last blog entry talking a little about my third child's diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, some food experimentation, changing out diet, the results and seeking more natural ways to keep my family healthy.
During the same time all of this was going on, I experienced a miscarriage and had 2 more children. My 4th living child was diagnosed with Asthma at 6 months of age, while all of this stuff was going on with his older brother. To say that added to my stress is an understatement. I still don't know quite how I made it through those years. Something else just took over. There is no other explanation other than God sent me the Holy Spirit as my helper because I did not have a physical person there to help me through those days. Lonely, would also be an understatement as a description of those days, weeks and years of my life. I know there are moms out there who can relate to feeling isolated and lonely when your kids are young and very needy; They need naps, lots of attention, guidance, instruction and supervisions. That is true for every child. When you add in challenging behaviors that go along with ASD and then medical issues that you can't seem to get doctors to understand PLUS another child who has a medical issue needing daily attention and medications so he can breathe effectively PLUS just all the regular mom stuff----I was STRESSED, anxious and tired. I didn't sleep well and I certainly didn't take care of myself. It wasn't even a thing I thought about. I just performed. (**Stress LEVELS of moms of kids on the Autism Spectrum are equal to that a soldier in combat. See here for the evidence. We also experience traumatic events more frequently and become hyper-vigilant. Read more here.)
I stayed home most days. I didn't have the money, let alone the energy for outings. It was too much work, too much effort and outings were stressful for a young child on the Autism Spectrum--it wasn't worth the issues I'd have to deal with and getting out of the house presented it's own challenge. We lived in poverty at the time and used some public assistance to make ends meet. Gas money was for therapy appointments, doctor's appointments, grocery store trips and attending church. Period. Looking back, I wish I'd had the presence of mind to consider what all of this was doing to my other kids, but I didn't. It wasn't that I was only thinking of myself but I was blinded to how this was all effecting my son's siblings. I can see it now. I know they also struggled, suffered and felt lonely too. Relationships didn't get much attention and feelings were never discussed. I'm trying to change that now, but it's been a lot like trying to get a toddler to try a bite of broccoli---almost impossible. But, I'm stubborn and don't give up easily.
***If I could get one piece of advice across to moms in a similar situation or any mom--TALK about your feelings with someone you trust. Find a therapist to go see once in a while. Don't stuff them down and don't hide from them. The feelings aren't bad or wrong---they can't be. But they will have side effects if you don't deal with them in a healthy way. My avoidance of them led to a lot of anger, resentment, bitterness, victim mindset, taking frustration out on others, unhealthy eating habits/weight gain, headaches, anxiety and sleeplessness. Those feelings will have physical manifestations, it's not if, it's WHEN. The chronic stress is not goof for the body or the mind. ***
Staying home became a way of life, for the most part. My "social life" was nonexistent mostly by necessity. Even if I'd had the funds to go to a movie with friends or lunch--- I didn't have the energy or the mental/emotional capacity to do it---I also didn't have friends so therefore no invitations to attend much of anything. There were occasional wedding or shower invites, etc.. but with no money and 5 kids--- that wasn't happening.
At some point during everything that was happening in my life I was told that my attitude, lack of a smile and overall demeanor drove people away (paraphrased). At the time, that drove a sadness, grief and sense of despair through my heart. I don't know if the person that said those words to me thought it would jar me into behaving differently or what--but it had the opposite effect. I walked away feeling so discouraged and rejected. Ashamed. And shame can do a number on a person. It's that feeling that you are unworthy of love and acceptance, that you don't belong unless you act or are a certain way. I definitely felt unworthy and unloved. I also wondered where did I belong??? Did I belong at all? I was in such a bad place emotionally that I needed some love and understanding. It would be a very long time before I would find it.
I guess I sort of just put my head down and did what needed to be done. There is certainly some advantage to that, but the detriment was that I didn't see or notice a lot of other things that needed my attention. My vision was somewhat single minded: Keep my family healthy and help my son be the best he could be. That tunnel vision also blinded me to the pain my other kids felt because of their brother's diagnosis and the distance that created between them and him and all of us. I didn't see that until many years later.
While emotional healing would be a long time coming, our physical health was improving rapidly. Behaviors, sleep, focus, learning and general health all improved for my son on the spectrum. His younger brother needed the inhaler and nebulizer less and less. I lost some weight. I had a bit more energy. I could definitely see improvements from changing what we ate and adding in supplements like Vitamin C, Zinc, D3 and a multi-vitamin to support our health. I had purchased a few homeopathic remedies and some herbal products to support our health during times of illness which was far less frequent by the end of 2013.
I wasn't quite satisfied though. One of the remaining issue that my son had was allergies. For about 9 months out of the year he was miserable and so were the rest of us. Allergies for him didn't just mean a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and maybe a slight cough. It meant a DRASTIC change in his behavior. And sleep. He became more argumentative and he would fixate on certain things, becoming very OCD-like and he would be up until the wee hours of the morning, mostly checking baseball, football or basketball scores depending on the season. He would become extremely uncooperative, belligerent and defiant. My normally kind, cooperative, quiet, helpful boy would change almost overnight. The only time he had relief from this was during the coldest months of the year when everything was dead.
It was so bad that, at times, I considered hospitalizing him because of his very agitated state and his somewhat aggressive physical behavior. I would occasionally be afraid of what he might do to himself or others. Thankfully, it never came to that. However, it was still very stressful 9 months out of the year. I had gone back and tried pharmaceuticals, I added in some natural histamine blockers and supplements to help his body deal with the allergens. Some relief was seen but it wasn't enough.
Answers were coming soon, though. I would find out just how important the food my son was eating is to his well-being and health. I'd also find some answers I seekded in one of God's creations: Plants.
Watch for my next blog post in this series: Seeking Health
Fall starts in 22 days. This usually also has people rushing to the stores to get fall candles or to get there leftover ones out of storage and light them up. I get wanting to have my home smell good, to enjoy those warm and welcoming scents--plus the cozy glow of a candle, but there are health risks that we aren't told about.
In this study, they surveyed some "selected scented consumer goods" found that they emitted over 100 VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds). Many are classified as toxic and harmful to humans. They tested products that were labeled as "natural" or "organic" and found some of those same harmful chemicals!
Over 25 different types of products were tested, many of them popular, top selling brands. Everything from laundry detergents to air fresheners, dryer sheets, lotions, shampoos, and more. All of these contain an ingredient called "fragrance". However this is NOT a single additive like we would think and are led to believe. Fragrance is made up of a mixture of many chemical compounds in order to re-create a specific scent. The companies call it proprietary so they don't have to list each of the individual components, which can be as high as 350 separate chemical products.
These products emit hazardous and even cancer causing chemicals into the air that we breathe every time we use them and candles are no exception.
Candles that are made with 100% pure beeswax, or another natural wax like coconut, hemp or soy are much safer, but most are made with paraffin wax, which is toxic. Scented candles, which are made with paraffin wax, give off dangerous vapors like benzene and toluene. The wicks can contain heavy metals that become airborne and are easily inhaled when burned. In addition, the scents and dyes used to make scented candles release harmful chemicals that can cause a variety of health issues like hormonal, behavioral and general health related issues.
Other scented products like air freshener sprays, plugs ins, etc. also post similar risks.
Several studies have confirmed that residual chemicals from plug ins can accumulate in the human body over a period of time. As these chemicals accumulate the amount stored in the body increases. This has health consequences. A plug in type product relies on something called heat induction technology and special heat-activated gels. This is what causes the scent to be released. There is an enormous number of toxic compounds in these gels. Plug ins contain the same chemicals as aerosol sprays (shown below), and in addition, they contain Naphthalene. This one has been found to cause cancer in the lungs and tissue damage in lab studies which leads experts believe it likely has the same effect in humans.
Scientific studies have shown that one-quarter of common household air fresheners contain chemicals that are potentially harmful. Our lungs have been designed to filter out toxins, but we are exposed to an enormous amount of chemicals on a daily basis just by walking outside! There are so many things we breath in that we don't know about and definitely can't see. We can't control what's out there, but we can be the gatekeepers for our homes and take steps to reduce the exposure.
People who have existing lung conditions like asthma, COPD and young children who are still developing are at the most susceptible to the effects of these chemicals, but really no one is immune to the dangers of these synthetically scented products. In this article from The Lung Association, they outline the risks to our respiratory health.
Here is a brief list of the chemicals that may be present in aerosol sprays:
(In addition, cleaning products have cancer causing and lung damaging ingredients. Read more here.)
Diffusing essential oils is a much better, healthier and safer way to cleanse the air, make your home smell fresh and maintain wellness too! An essential oil diffuser enhances the environment by spreading the aroma of herbal, woodsy or citrus essential oils throughout the air. The small molecule of the essential oils permeate the air in your home. Diffusers have therapeutic and aesthetic purpose and help provide many health and wellness benefits for those who use them daily.
I'm going to share some of the ways having and using essential oils in your home can be useful and helpful, while also enhancing your health and well-being. They are definitely much safer and better for you than candles, plug ins, gels or sprays!
I'd love to help YOU get started living a healthier, more chemical free lifestyle! It's easy to get started with Young Living and become a part of my oily family, Essential Living Community. I have a private, members only, group on Facebook and send out a monthly email newsletter plus other goodies!
If you're ready to fill your home with the amazing benefits of essential oils, go here to get started! I'll send you a welcome letter and gift!