Food is medicine

No dairy. No gluten. No grains like amaranth, millet, oats, quinoa or rice. No eggs. No sugar, even natural sweeteners like honey. No coffee. No processed or packaged foods. No food additives. No GMOs. No refined oils like mayo, salad dressings, etc. No Chocolate. No BBQ sauce. No cayenne pepper. No Ketchup. No paprika. No red pepper flakes. No Relish. No soy sauce. No tamari. No teriyaki sauce. No corn. No legumes like beans, lentils or peas. No Nightshade veggies like eggplant, peppers, potatoes or tomatoes. No nuts. No seeds. No soy. No balsamic vinegar. No mushrooms.

“What have I gotten myself into?” Two months ago I read a list of foods I wouldn’t be able to eat for at least the next 30 days and I’m not going to lie, that list was daunting. At first glance it was similar to whole30 which I had done previously, but then I realized it was even more restrictive. There were a lot of things on there that I would have to give up that seemed pretty impossible to me, like coffee, but alas I am on the other side and better for it. Let’s back up a little to why I decided to give up all. the. food.

why make a drastic change?

The end of December was a pretty low point for me in my health journey. (apparently I am now someone who says things like health journey…) Those of you who have ongoing health issues can attest to the many ups and downs, but this was a serious down. A few of my autoimmune conditions had been rearing their ugly heads for going on 10 months and getting worse with no real relief in sight. When you are at the end of your rope you will try just about anything. (It reminds me of when I desperately wanted my son to sleep through the night as a newborn and I ordered all kinds of insane things off amazon that promised to deliver the results I was looking for.) Bottom line is I. was. Desperate.

I do want to add before I get any further that lots of friends and family were praying for me during this time and because of that I have experienced my fair share of miracles in my body that only can be explained with God’s healing. But I am also lucky that a super health conscious friend, who is familiar with autoimmune issues, recommended a book to me that has turned my health (and my kitchen) upside down the past two months. It’s called The Autoimmune Solution – Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases by Dr. Amy Myers.

The Myers Way

I started reading this book with a healthy dose of skepticism on what additional information I could actually learn, I have read a lot about autoimmune issues. I was surprised though that I ended up learning quite a bit. She explained what is happening in your body, scientifically, when you have an autoimmune problem or an inflammation problem in such a simple way that it made me mad no doctor had explained that way previously. It was all super interesting stuff to me. One of the crazier things she says is that 90% of people suffer from some form of inflammation or autoimmune disorder. That’s a lot of people and just tells me the toxins we come in contact with and the foods we are eating are making us more and more sick.

Beyond having a better understand of what was happening in my body at a cellular level, the most valuable part was the 30 days of recipes shes gives you. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days. That felt doable to me, even more than whole30 because I didn’t have to search pinterest for hours to come up with meal plans. I just had to buy the ingredients listed for the recipes that week and that’s it.

Getting started

I won’t sugar coat it, the first 10 days were pretty miz. Before I officially started I started weaning myself off gluten, sugar and coffee the week prior. My system was still not pleased at all the stuff I had taken away at once. I had headaches, strong cravings, anger and I’m sure a few other unpleasant characteristics. I was a real joy to live with, but I pressed on because I was so desperate to feel better.

One of the biggest challenges I didn’t anticipate was handling food for my children that I myself couldn’t eat. Making their school lunches and snacking on a handful of whatever was going into it was no longer a thing. Even just making them peanut butter and crackers took some time to mentally undo habits. Normally I would get a spoon, plop some peanut butter on a plate…..then what do you do? Like any normal person I would lick the spoon before putting it in the sink (to sit there for a long time because I hate dishes.) Suddenly you can’t do things like that anymore.

The biggest struggle I faced and still face is going out to eat. I don’t like to ask for ingredients of dishes or ask to leave something out. It feels like I’m inconveniencing people and it’s a hard thing for me to do. I have found if I know I’m going somewhere I can call ahead in off hours and ask about ingredients. That way I don’t have to do it at the table, and make dinner about my “food issues.” It’s still a learning process.

how it helped me, personally

Somewhere around day 12 to 14 I started having some pretty significant improvements. Suddenly I realized my stomach didn’t hurt after every single meal. I was no longer bloated at all. I could hear out of my left ear clearly for the first time in 2 years. (I have some chronic inflammation in my middle ear…it’s one of my weirder, more random symptoms.) Swelling in my knees went away. Blisters that would pop up on my hands after eating suddenly stopped. My mind felt clearer and more sharp. Other chronic issues lessened in severity. With all of these physical changes came a shift in my mood as well. I was feeling more uplifted, more hopeful.

30 days in to this plan I had an extensive blood work up done and I just recently had a chance to chat about it with my new doctor. She said a lot of my numbers were the best she had ever seen and attributes those to my toxin free and healthy eating changes I have made. Don’t get me wrong some numbers were still not great and we have a plan in place to help me in ways food can’t, but she was extremely pleased with how I have been caring for myself. I don’t say that to toot my own horn because I am nothing special. I just knew something was wrong with me and I had to do everything in my power to fix it. If you are struggling too, there is so much information readily available online, so many doctors that give out free information. I would encourage you to do your own research and find out what’s best for you to be healthier and feel better.

A few of the things you can actually eat

I no longer feel deprived or even focus on the “no list.” Turns out eating real food is pretty tasty most of the time. I posted all my meals the other day on instagram so I will share it here as well. Here’s a real day of what I will eat:

I don’t think the Myers Way is the holy grail by any means, but I do appreciate the information in her book and the recipes she provided to help jump start this part of my healing. One last thing I will say about her and the book is – she recommends a lot of products and supplements. I did not take any of them so I can’t vouch for that part of her book. I would recommend getting a functional medicine doctor to do a full blood work up on you to create a custom plan verses just going with something out of a book, but that’s just me. All in all I feel extremely happy with how I am feeling and just wanted to share in case some of you are like I was at the end of December. There is hope and there is a solution, you’ve got to keep being your own advocate and find the solution that works for you.

Life lately

I’ve missed writing the past few months and thought I’d just give a general overview of life lately for all 5 of you who care 🙂 It’s kind of a random post with random info, but that’s what it is today.

Social media 

I took a break for a little over a month from all social media platforms. It took a little while for my brain to get used to the quiet of not constantly being bombarded with information, but once it did it was nice. One of the benefits I saw was getting to sleep faster, for longer and deeper. The biggest benefit was being more present with my family. My kids no longer had to say hey mom look at this because my face wasn’t staring at a screen. 

On Feb 1st I downloaded instagram again and dove back in. Within five mins I was feeling overwhelmed and a little anxious. I didn’t even start scrolling through pictures, I only made it a few people into insta stories before I had to tap out. It was so much information all at once flooding me – products, people, places, words, politics, health information….it was all just too much. 

I don’t know that I’ve permanently broken up with social media but for now I’m seriously pumping the brakes. I miss being able to share pictures of my kids and what they are up to but I also realize at some point they probably won’t want me to share stuff about them with people they don’t know anyway. I also miss seeing my friends and knowing what is going on in their lives. I’ve missed people’s “big events” like pregnancy announcements, job changes or big moves. For now, if something is happening in your life call me or text me because I still care and want to know what’s happening in your life.

Food

Food deserves it’s own dedicated post but I am currently on a super strict autoimmune diet and it has been helping me a lot. It’s called The Myers way and I’ll 100% post more on it later. I’ll post some of the super delicious recipes I’ve found that are ridiculously clean too. Just know if you want to go out to eat, I can drink water and eat lettuce basically 🙂 kidding…kind of. 

New products I’m using and loving

Hair Care: I’ve tried a few new ones and I still always go back to 100% pure being the best. I tried Luminescence skin care shampoo and hair balm, I do love it but need to switch it up between their product and something else every 3 days. 

Face: Luminescence skin care for sure. I use their face wash, rosewater toner and face lotion. It’s expensive but both my husband and I have been using their face wash since mid december and we aren’t even through half the bottle. (They have a free sample pack of these three products on their site, you should try it.)

Body Wash: I switched up what I was using for body wash in November. I had read a lot about soaps, even “clean” soaps striping your microbiome away. If you are like me, you might not know much about that. The Kavli Foundation defines it as, “The human microbiome is the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body. It consists of about a thousand different bacterial species that reside in the mouth, gut and vagina, and on the skin.” 

If you have any sort of autoimmune issues or skin issues, striping this away every day with soaps is pretty awful for you so I switched to Aleavia brand. This brand isn’t a soap but it does clean you, but leaves your microbiome intact. (Another brand that I’ve heard about but haven’t tried is mother dirt.) I ordered several bottles of Aleavia while they were on sale but so far I haven’t made it through one, so it’s a pretty good value. My husband doesn’t like how it doesn’t lather like a traditional soap but I’ve gotten used to that and it doesn’t bother me. 

Deodorant: I found a brand called Meow Meow Tweet. Super weird name I know, but it works. I had heard if lavender scents (which is my go to) start not working, you may need to try something different like lemon or eucalyptus and vice versa. Some scents work better with certain people. So I got the eucalyptus scent in the stick (They have a version that you rub on with your fingers but I just don’t think I am that granola yet.) When you see the bottle don’t be shocked, it is tiny, but again, it has lasted forever. I am still on my first bottle that I got 2 months ago.

Current Show

It’s no secret Jordan and I love to binge watch shows at night. Our newest obsession is a show called Alone. It was originally on the History Channel but you can watch several seasons on Prime. It is SO good. 

Dreaming

Currently dreaming about building a new house, because when am I not dreaming about that… I actually deleted all realtor apps off of my phone for the month of January too and it’s also been really good for me. 

Lastly, with all the gloomy weather we’ve been having I’m dreaming about the beach. We just sent the boys paperwork in for their passports, so I am hopeful they will come in before spring break. Maybe then we can plan a last minute trip on the cheap. We shall see, but we all need the beach. 

Anyhoo friends, that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for reading 🙂 

Clean Thanksgiving Menu

Any time there is a holiday I have a really hard time staying on track with clean eating, so I spent some time meal planning and put together a clean Thanksgiving menu. I wanted to enjoy all the classics I grew up eating, without all the junk. I’ll skip all the “blogger junk” with the EXTRA detailed (and ridiculous) instructions and the stuff like ‘when I tasted this bite of green bean casserole it transported me back in time to my moms kitchen’ blah blah blah… and skip right to the recipes, because that’s what we are all here for anyway!! 

One note before diving in, if you see an ingredient on the list that doesn’t jive with your diet, don’t skip the whole recipe, I’ve included all the substitutes beneath each recipe.

The menu and recipes that are included in this post:

  • Turkey
  • Cranberries
  • Salad
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Deviled Eggs

My mom is making the below things and I feel confident they will not be “clean eating.” But the below things are also on the menu, recipes not included…maybe just google some clean versions.

  • Gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Corn Casserole

THE TURKEY

  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 1 Lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Fresh Turkey (local peeps, Ferguson’s has some local, organic, free range ones left!!)
  • Salt
  • 1 Large Bunch fresh thyme 
  • 1 whole lemon, halved
  • 1 Spanish Onion, quartered
  • 1 Head of Garlic
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.
  3. Take all the disgustingness out of the turkey (facetime a mom or grandmother if you have problems locating them..maybe this happened to me, maybe it didn’t) Place the gibletless turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the bird and stuff it with thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion and garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with your butter mixture, salt and pepper the outside of the turkey. Tie the legs together with a string and tuck the wing tips under the body.
  4. Roast the turkey until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes…or until you can’t fight off the hungry crowd any longer. 
  5. Slice and serve.

A couple of notes:

  • *Roasting time depends on how large your turkey is. From what I’ve found 15 minutes per pound is standard.
  • *If you aren’t doing a butter you can substitute duck fat, I’ve seen it at Target and Walmart. 
  • *You can add a brine to this the night before but we’ve never done it and our turkey came out fine last time. It feels like a lot of work. (shoulder shrug)

CRANBERRIES

  • 1 Bag of fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup of honey or maple syrup
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of zest from medium orange
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  1. Rinse and pat the cranberries dry. Toss any squishy berries, there’s no place for those disgusting things in your perfect cranberry sauce.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine your cranberries, honey and water. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally (or whenever someone screams CAN SOMEONE STIR THE CRANBERRIES?!?) Let the cranberries simmer until they begin to pop and the mixture has thickened. This typically takes between 5 – 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in orange zest and juice

A couple of notes:

  • *This is hard to screw up, assign cranberries to the person most likely to mess up something more complicated.
  • *You can also add ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • *I’m going to use pineapple orange juice because that’s what I already have in my fridge…Maybe I’m the person most likely to screw it up.  

SALAD

  • Greens (I like the 50/50 blend)
  • Toasted almonds (Use as many or as few as you’d like, if I am using 2 boxes of mixed green I will use an entire pretoasted bag of almonds.) You can also toast the almonds yourself if you’re feeling fancy, but ain’t nobody got time for that on Thanksgiving. 
  • 1 can of Mandarin oranges
  • 1 red onion (I skip this because I have a real strong dislike for raw onion)

DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup of oil – I use avocado oil, it actually calls for vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed – I use celery salt, it’s what I always have on hand but either works fine
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  1. Dump salad in your fancy salad bowl
  2. Toss in the almonds, oranges and onion
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients well
  4. Dress greens and enjoy 

A few notes: *You will be the hit of any party with this salad. It is simply the best and if you make anything off this list, make it this salad. 

SWEET POTATO MASH

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced
  • ⅓ a cup of milk
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2 eggs

TOPPING

  • 1 ½ cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place your sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until completely tender, if a fork easily goes into the potato, you’re good. Drain sweet potatoes. 
  3. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add ⅓ cup of milk, 3 tablespoons butter, ¼ cup maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 eggs. Mash until no lumps remain. (Maybe assign this to an anger prone person to get their aggression out.) If your mixture seems to thick you can add 2-3 tablespoons of milk.
  4. Pour your mixture into an 8×8 dish
  5. Time for the topping! Combine all topping ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle topping mixture over your sweet potato mash.
  7. Cover the dish with foil and back for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes
  • A few notes:
  • *Egg substitutes work with this recipe. Use 2 tablespoons of the egg substitute of your choice.
  • *Butter substitutes also work. Instead of 2 Tablespoons of butter feel free to use ghee, vegan butter, avocado oil or melted coconut oil.
  • *Milk substitutes are cool too! Instead of ⅓ cup of milk you can use unsweetened almond, cashew, coconut or anything milk of your choosing. (I’m going to be using A2 milk, which works nicely for my fam)
  • *Sweet Potato casserole is always a big hit with my family. I think I’m going to double this recipe, because 3 sweet potatoes for 15 people just doesn’t feel like enough. 
  • *Can we all agree that the words “potato and substitutes” are the hardest words to spell and type?…no? Just me? Cool. 

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

  • 2 Pounds green beans – trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 batch of mushroom sauce
  • 1 batch crispy onion topping

CRISPY ONION TOPPING

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter 
  • 1 Medium red onion, thinly sliced 
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper

MUSHROOM SAUCE

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ cup veggie stock
  • 1 cup of milk
  • ½ cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Trim and cut green beans. Throw in boiling water for 3-5 minutes then immediately remove and blanch. (aka throw in cold water) (I feel 100% confident I’m going to skip this entire cooking step and just let them cook fulling in the oven, I’ll let you know how that goes)
  3. Prep onion mixture. Melt ½ tablespoon butter in a large pan and add the onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions just start to soften. Transfer to a different bowl. (as if this recipe doesn’t call for enough bowls, let’s dirty up another…)
  4. Add ½ tablespoon of butter to the pan and the panko bread crumbs. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring constantly. Do not put anyone with ADD on this job, they will burn your crumbs and thanksgiving will be ruined. 
  5. Transfer the bread crumb mixture to the onion and add parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir. 
  6. Prep your mushroom sauce. Melt Butter on high heat in a large pan, (maybe just clean the one from the onion step because you know your sink is overflowing at this point.) 
  7. Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes
  9. Add flour and saute for 1 more minute, stirring frequently 
  10. Add Veggie stock and stir until flour is evenly dissolved. (pouring slowly and stirring helps this process) 
  11. Add Milk and Parmesan, stir to combine
  12. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens then remove from heat, salt and pepper.  
  13. Combine green beans and mushroom sauce in 9 x 13 cooking pan.
  14. Sprinkle onion mixture on top
  15. Bake for 25 minutes or until the onion mixture is crispy
  16. ENJOY 
  • A few notes:
  • This is the most involved recipe on the list but it looks so good, I feel like we can all handle one fancy recipe..right?
  • *Butter can be substituted for your oil of choice, olive oil or avocado. 
  • *Gluten free breadcrumbs are totally fine. 
  • *Dairy Free Parmesan cheese is totally fine. 
  • *Gluten Free Flour works great in this recipe. 
  • *Milk Substitutes also work fine.

BACON BALSAMIC DEVILED EGGS

  • 18 eggs
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • ¾ cup of clean mayo
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons of minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Boil Eggs
  2. Peel Eggs and half lengthwise. 
  3. Separate yolks from whites, placing yolks in a bowl. 
  4. Cook bacon, drain grease and chop
  5. Mash yolks with fork. Add bacon, mayo, onion, honey, vinegar, celery salt, and pepper. Stir until combined. 
  6. Spoon mixture into egg whites and garnish with parsley
  • A Few Notes:
  • *If you have an egg allergy maybe just skip this one 🙂 

Let me know if you are planning on make any of these recipes! I’m excited to try them all out on Sunday and maybe I’ll even do an insta story or two of all the chaos.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in my Products, Why Should I Care?

Ever heard of a endocrine disruptors? No? I hadn’t either two years ago, and honestly I didn’t really care to know. Ignorance was bliss prior to having a dozen health issues pop up all at once. A “crunchy person” could have talked to me until they were blue in the face about dangerous ingredients or swapping my products for healthy ones and I would not have cared. The bottom line for me was the cost, and a lot of clean products are more expensive (or so I thought) so I wasn’t interested, until I had to be. Once I started to listen and really learn I was shocked at the dangerous ingredients in my products.

How many different products do you think you use on a daily basis? 2 or 3, 10, 15, more? The Environmental Working Group says that on average people use about 9 products a day. In those 9 products there are, on average, 126 different ingredients. That’s a lot of different things you are using around your family or putting on your body. I recently learned that what we put on our skin enters into the bloodstream within 25-30 seconds. We might as well be eating our shampoo and our dish cleaner :). That knowledge alone isn’t too alarming until I dug into exactly what my products were made of and how it was affecting my body both short and long term.

What exactly is a Endocrine Disruptor?

Some of the ingredients in the products that you use every day are considered “endocrine disruptors.” That sounds fancy but basically the endocrine system consists of glands that release hormones to keep our bodies in balance. “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; accumulating in organs that produce hormones (EWG article).” I had never heard of this or cared until about it 2 years ago, now I find it shocking everyone doesn’t know there are ingredients in our everyday products that are undermining our health.

Since our hormonal systems are critical to body function and health, when they’re changed there can be some pretty big impacts to our health. Here are some of the issues these endocrine disrupting chemicals cause, both long and short term:

  • cancerous tumors
  • birth defects
  • developmental disorders
  • early puberty in children
  • changes in behavior
  • behavior issues in children
  • completely screws with the balance of your body’s hormones which can affect a number of systems cause numerous health issues
  • effects reproductive organs/function which can lead to infertility (in men and women)
  • endometriosis 
  • disturbances in the immune and nervous systems 
  • heart disease
  • changes in mental health
  • Stroke
  • asthma

These endocrine disruptors are in our everyday products and they are messing with our bodies’ systems. All the systems. The above list is just a few of the things that can be affected, and these disruptors are found in almost all the products you put on your body or clean your home with. (I ran across a good article that goes over some of the common places you can find these endocrine disruptors and exactly how each one affects our bodies if you want to check it out here.)

Limiting our Exposure

Image result for common products with endocrine disruptors

Switch out your products. This feels like the most obvious to me but can be extremely overwhelming . I’d encourage anyone who wants to start limiting their exposure to harmful chemicals to start with the cleaning products they use in their homes and then their shampoo, conditioner, body soap and deodorant. From there I would take it one thing at a time, it took me over a year to switch out everything we used and I’m still learning about things that are in my home that are toxic! I recently went down a rabbit hole learning about cookware and that will be the next thing I switch along with our bedding.

Image result for picture of a 409 label

Start Reading Labels. There are dozens of ingredients you want to avoid but honestly if I listed them out it would just be overwhelming. Luckily there are some really awesome resources to help. The EWG has an app that you can download that allows you to scan or look up products as you are shopping. They let you know what ingredients are in these products that may be toxic and give the product an overall health score. They also have an incredible website that is jam packed with information. The article on the EWG site I quoted earlier goes over specific disrupting chemicals and exactly what type of products they can be found in.

Another cool resource is the Think Dirty app, which allows you to scan or look up products to see how healthy they are. They break the ingredients down in a user friendly manner and give them a health score. You can also shop directly from their interface.

Buy Local. Buying from small local businesses can help too. First of all it supports local businesses, which is always a win and it allows you to learn more about how the products are made and where they source their ingredients from.  

In Conclusion….

If someone would have told me anything I’m writing about now 5 years ago I wouldn’t have cared. I probably knew it was true but for some reason I didn’t really think any of these things affected ME. I think for some of us, it takes a life changing event, a skin problem or some sort of issue to really listen, or even want to learn about clean products.

Once I started listening and learning I found out exactly what was in my products and how they were affecting my body. I. was. alarmed. I don’t want to continue to suffer needlessly and I certainly don’t want any of these things to affect my children. I honestly just want to help people avoid learning the hard way about these chemicals and the health problems that are associated with them so they can and feel the best they can with clean options. 

Family Fall Leaf Trip

Every year for the last 30ish years all my Dad’s family gets together for our “Family Fall Leaf Trip.” What is this odd trip you might ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like. The entire family, 31 of us in total, gets together to look at leaves.

I’ve got to be less than 5 here in my mom’s arms..

Like anything, this trip has evolved over time. The Family Fall Leaf Trip started out with the whole family loading up in a 15 passenger van my Dad would rent and driving around different mountain towns looking at leaves.

When we were little we thought this was the absolute BEST. The thought of being crammed in a vehicle with our entire family sounded like an absolute joy. The night before the trip my Dad would roll into the driveway with the van and we would be so jacked. All the kids would spend hours “exploring” it and playing inside of it. (as if we weren’t going to get enough van time over the next few days, ha!)

when our crew was much, much smaller

We no longer rent the 15 passenger van, which is actually kind of sad. Some of my best childhood memories can be tied to those vans. Now, my grandparents rent a cabin in the mountains instead. They typically rent a cabin in Wears Valley, just outside of Gatlinburg for 4-5 days.

You might be thinking, but you still haven’t told us WHY you have a family fall leaf trip… Fun fact, I’m originally from Louisiana and all my extended family still lives there, the leaves in Louisiana don’t change like the do in the mountains. So it is literally a family. fall. leaf. trip. We literally are in the mountains to see the colors of the leaves change. I remember my cousins diligently collecting colorful leaves each year to bring back to their classes to show all the kids who didn’t go on a family fall leaf trip (because, really who does that) the fall colors.

There’s a lot happening with everyone’s pants in this one..

Leaf collecting is still a highlight of the trip, but now that we have so many young kids and my grandparents are in their 80s, no one is really up for long hikes or long car rides. We do try and venture out from our cabin and do a few things, because let’s face it, that many people crammed into a cabin, no matter how nice, can only spell disaster. Here are a few of our favorite things from the area over the years: Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Treemont, Elkmont, Newfound Gap, Cherokee Visitors Center, AppleBarn, Gooney Golf, Goats on a Roof, Mountain Coaster, Riding Horses, and everyone’s all time favorite Cades Cove.

So, cousins, aunts and uncles come and go when they can but the spirit of the family fall leaf trip is still there.

Clean Beauty

Two years ago I would of been the last person to spend money on clean beauty products, I’m seriously the cheapest human alive. Pass me a bar of Irish Spring and a bottle of Sauve and I’m good to go. However, when your toenails start falling off, your hands and feet are covered with blisters, the skin around your ankles looks like it belongs to a dragon, some sort of rash is coming out of your nose and spreading up your face, not to mention a whole host of other internal nightmares….you start to make some changes, no matter the cost. 

Several years ago a friend of mine told me about a clean beauty brand, 100% Pure and I wish I would have listened to her way before I did, but makeup was one of the last things I changed out. (you can read about other things I changed out here.) Being a stay at home mom sometimes it is hard for me to mentally justify the cost of items that I won’t use a lot. Items like cute outfits or jewelry that I won’t wear often because I’m mostly rolling around in the backyard with my two boys and don’t want to ruin something nice. For me, makeup and skin care in general, fall into this mental category of mine.

Eventually I did start to tackle switching out my makeup with clean beauty products but if I thought learning to read labels on food was hard, learning to read labels on products seemed even more difficult to me. Thankfully there are two awesome resources that helped take the guesswork out: EWGs, Healthy Living App and the Think Dirty App allow you to scan an item and then they breakdown all of the ingredients giving the product an overall health score. If you can’t find a product you are looking for on these two apps you can also look up each ingredient to see if it fits your clean beauty standards. Also, I know I sing Branch Basics praises a lot but their blog is a wealth of information on what products to avoid and WHY. I would encourage you to check out it out and educate yourself. 

One of the many reasons I love 100% Pure though because I don’t have to scan each of their products, because they meet my clean beauty standards. I wanted to share some of the products I use of theirs below. I know some of them are pricey, especially compared to drugstore products but they last an incredibly long time and they aren’t filled with toxins. 

I know this article I have focused on 100% Pure Brand but there are a lot of brands out there that meet the standards I am looking for in my skin and beauty care. Branch Basics actually just wrote a really awesome article on clean products they love, you can check it out here. I promise I won’t just write about different brands but since so many of y’all requested it I thought I should put it up sooner rather than later. I’ve got some ridiculous #boymom stories coming at you soon but until then, here is a Free Shipping link when you spend $50 or more on 100% Pure. Enjoy 🙂

Branch Basics

Clean living has become a really big deal to me, the other day I wrote a post and listed some of the products I use for myself and in my home. In my health journey I started with changing all my personal products for clean beauty but I quickly learned the products sitting under my kitchen sink were affecting my health even more.  

Once I started learning and reading more I was shocked to learn no one is holding the ingredients that go into my cleaning products, dishwashing liquids or laundry detergent to any sort of clean standard. I learned these products have harmful chemicals called VOCs (volatile organic compounds – don’t worry there won’t be a quiz) Basically, there are studies that show breathing in these chemicals, absorbing them through your skin and digesting the leftover chemicals on your dishes is as bad, or worse, for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. (SAY WHAAAT?!)

I was chatting with someone the other day and they asked why I thought autoimmune disorders, cancers and other strange illnesses are on the rise. I believe (and a lot of science backs this up) that all the chemicals in our homes and food is wrecking our health. A few things that your cleaning products are linked to affecting are: learning disorders, hitting puberty years early, issues getting pregnant, neurological issues, cancer, migraines, asthma and so much more. Thinking about that affecting my kids tiny bodies was enough for me to start tossing stuff out of my house and start trying to live a cleaner lifestyle. 

So I started reading labels but going through every single bottle in my house was enough to make my head explode. Every. single. thing. was. toxic. That’s why I was so glad a friend of mine told me about Branch Basics. This isn’t an ad, because let’s be honest, I’m not cool enough for anyone to pay me to talk about their products, I just love them that much. 

Branch Basics sends you one bottle of concentrate that replaces everything in your home: Laundry Detergent, All Purpose Spray, Windows/Glass, Bathroom, Dish Detergent, Hand Soap, Floors and more. I love that I can simplify things and just have one product to cover all my cleaning needs. You can read more about it here and buy a starter kit

Don’t be alarmed at the price, I may be the cheapest human on the face of the planet, so I got your back. Branch Basics ends up being more cost efficient than most of the cleaners you currently have in your home and one bottle of concentrate lasts my family about 6 months.

Even if you decide this product isn’t for you, you should follow their blog and on instagram, they always have awesome information and tips on clean living and healthy lifestyles. Here’s a really great article that talks more about some of the stuff I touched on plus how and WHY you should detox your home. You can read about it here. I could go on and on about my love for Branch Basics but I’ll cut myself off so their founders don’t serve me a restraining order. 😉

If you do decide to try them out here is a promo code to get $10 off. Like I said, I’m no one special, once you become a customer of theirs they provide you a discount code you can share with your friends so we can help everyone #tossthetoxins and start clean living.

How I Got “Healthy”

Post pregnancy kicked my tail, both times, but especially the second time. Long story short, post-pregnancy jump started a bunch of autoimmune diseases that took a while to figure out and diagnosis. All these strange health issues lead me down a path I didn’t see coming. When doctors couldn’t give me a solid answers or treatment plans, I started eliminating things in my life in hopes I could fix some of these unexpected health problems…basically I went full granola

My first course of action was to clean up my eating. Anything you could get rid of, I got rid of it. Sugars, gluten, eggs, preservatives, dairy…basically anything that was known to cause inflammation, GONE. I never ate perfectly but I feel like I did it really well for a long time, only because I was miserable and I needed to believe this would fix my issues. While there were countless things eating better did DO for me, it didn’t fix all my health issues. 

I realized I was only addressing part of the problem, so I buckled down and started to look at our whole house and lifestyle. It was time to not only eliminate the junk out of my diet but also the toxins in the products I was using. When I started to read about it, it felt extremely overwhelming so I took it one step at a time.

It felt most logical to eliminate anything that touched my body first, so I started from the top down, literally. (this is also the point where my husband thought I had officially lost my marbles:)) Below are the clean products are what we are currently using: 

Shampoo – 100% Pure 

Conditioner – 100% Pure 

Hair Frizz Oil – Straight Jojoba oil 

Face Wash – Beauty Counter Face Wash

Makeup – 100% Pure, Honeybee Organics, Juice Beauty 

Face Masks – 100% Pure

Face Serums – 100% Pure or make your own

Toothpaste – Toms 

Deodorant – Native or Jordan just recently started using Stink Bug

Body Soap – Dr. Bonners 

Laundry Detergent – Branch Basics

Household Cleaners – Branch Basics

Children Bath – Hellobello, Dr Bonners, Burts Bees 

Hand Soap – Branch Basics

Dish Liquid – Branch Basics

Dishwasher – 7th Generation 

Sunscreen – Badger or Babo Botanicals 

I know I left some products out and I am sure there things I haven’t even thought to switch out but wanted to share products that have been working for me soon rather than later. The more you learn the more you realize nothing is regulated and there is “bad” stuff in everything. I now find myself looking at the ingredients my yard company and pest control company use….I’ve started looking at the ingredients in clothing labels…WHO AM I … and what our mattress is made out of…… and what kind of chemicals are in our water even though it’s filtered…..I’m deep into the rabbit hole now friends and I don’t see myself coming back. I’ve gone full on granola

Why Start a Website?

I started building a website a few weeks ago. I didn’t really even tell anyone about it, I just was doing it to exercise my brain during nap time. I’ve been a stay at home mom now a little over five years and while I love it, every once in a while it’s nice to remember how to do things other than “mom stuff.” (which trust me is hard, hard work and I’m sure I’ll write a lot about it.)

To be totally honest I don’t even have a clear goal of what I want to do with my site. Maybe it will be just blogging, maybe I’ll end up selling something, maybe I’ll be one of those super cool, trendy 20 somethings that influence people for a living…you know, since I care so much about style and fashion. (HA!) Who knows guys, maybe no one will read my stuff or visit my site and that’s fine too. If you did end up here magically, thanks for checking it out, here’s a few photos of my fam at our city fair to entertain you until next time.

Jordan and Briggs on the giant slide..clearly he hated it 😉
He reallllllly wants a motorcycle, I had hope this would satisfy him…it did not.
The joy this 50 cent sword brought was almost worth the 5 bucks we paid for it. 🙂