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Category Archives for Healthy Living

3 Reasons I’m a Fan of Grove Collaborative

Have you heard of Grove Collaborative?

I order all of my household cleaning products from there – laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, etc.

Here's why I've chosen to use it as my go-to source for all of my household necessities:

  1. Discover new non-toxic products – right now I'm using Molly's Suds for my laundry and Seventh Generation dishwasher tabs for my dishwasher.  I love how I don't have to search high and low for household products that I can feel good about using.  I've discovered products that I don't think I would have realized even existed because the choices at the local stores are just not as numerous when it comes to non-toxic products.  Grove Collaborative is always adding new items too, and I love trying out new brands!

Here is a picture of my most recent order:

Grove Collaborative - the best source for non-toxic household products!

Some of the products I liked, some I didn't, but I was trying some new things this time.  Those Mrs. Meyer's fall scents, though!  Mmm!!

 

2. Auto-ship

Oh, where would I be without auto-ship?  Out of laundry detergent, most likely.  I'm one of those people that makes a shopping list and then forgets to take it to the store.  I LOVE having my stuff auto-shipped where I don't even have to think about remembering it.

It's so easy to switch around my subscription too, so if I don't need something or I want to try out a new product, I can very easily change things around or even cancel the next month's order.
3. VIP membership

With a VIP membership, I get free shippng on every order, plus free or discounted products throughout the year.  Every so often, they send me an email letting me know I can add a select item to my next order for free or at a big discount.  I've discovered a lot of new products this way that I wouldn't have tried otherwise.

 

The prices are very comparable to what I would pay otherwise, and I love the convenience of having all my household needs shipped to me on auto-pilot.  I also appreciate how easy it is to turn off a subscription if I can't afford it one month.  They also remind me when it's time for my next shipment so that I have a chance to customize my order if I need to.  No shady business or jumping through a lot of hoops to avoid unwanted charges on my credit card – I really appreciate that in a subscription company because that does happen with some of them!

If you haven't tried out Grove Collaborative yet,you can get a free $10 credit to use on your first order when  you sign up through this link!

I'd love to know which brand catches your eye first!

One Simple Way to Take Better Care of Your Family’s Health

better care of health

 

My family's health has always been very important to me.

I'm always reading and strategizing about things that I can do to make sure they get proper nutrition and keep their immune systems strong.

There are many, many reasons why processed foods are toxic to the body, and I've done my best to eliminate them and only feed my family whole foods or foods with the cleanest ingredients.

But I have an embarrassing confession to make.

There have been a number of seasons in my life where, in spite of my particularness about the groceries I buy, my family has still not been fed in a very healthy way.

What I mean is this:

Lack of proper planning has caused me to feed them thrown-together meals that, though they might be better than genetically modified boxed foods, are still very much lacking in nutrition.

Sometimes I feel like the dinner hour comes upon us, and I have no clue what to make, so I resort once again to the gluten free mac and cheese.

When they want a snack, too often I depend on “organic junk food”, which is still junk food, organic or not!

All of that is fine and dandy once in a while, but when I find myself doling that stuff out far too often due to my poor planning, I realize that something needs to change or my family's health will suffer because of it.

(By the way, the budget suffers too!  Pre-packaged and boxed foods, even brands that use ingredients I'm okay with, are not only lacking in nutrition, but they also cost much more than their homemade counterparts.  And when I decide to skip the packaged foods and go with only fruits and veggies, I still end up grocery shopping aimlessly, just grabbing a bunch of stuff that may or may not get eaten because I don't have a specific plan in mind for it.  Shopping that way costs so much more!)

For the past several months, my wonderful mother has done a good portion of the cooking for our family.  She has been such a blessing, helping me out tremendously while I've been dealing with chronic illness and a difficult pregnancy.

But I don't want to depend on her to do that forever.  That's a big job, feeding a family of 7!  I told her that I wanted to wean myself back off from depending on her to make dinner all the time and try to start cooking for our family again.

I knew that I'd never be able to do that without a solid plan in place, so I went back to my old faithful meal planning service – Build a Menu.

While I love the fact that I can pick and choose the items I want to cook, what's even better for this difficult season of life is that they also send a pre-made menu to my inbox each week, along with a ready-made shopping list!

You can get this same deal too!  Right now they have a special offer – buy the premium plan and get a year of Done-For-You menus free!

You can even choose menus for special diets if you like – such as gluten free or the super popular Trim Healthy Mama plan.

So, in a nutshell you get:

  • Premium “build-your-own” drag and drop menu planning for one year
  • A ready-made shopping list each week for the store of your choice (including my favorite – ALDI!)
  • Plus an additional ready-made menu plan each week for a year

all of this for $40, or about 77 cents a week!  I'm very happy to pay someone 77 cents each week to do the legwork of planning a menu and making my shopping list for me!

They even tell me approximately how much the groceries will cost so I can stay within my budget!

Already I've noticed that I am less stressed because I know exactly what we're having and I can plan my day accordingly.  (That reminds me, I need to go get a roast put into the crock pot before it gets any later!)

My family is getting adequate nutrition.  We're eating balanced meals instead of whatever I happened to throw into my cart at the store.

I love that I am getting their bellies full at each meal and that I'm filling them with protein, fruits, and veggies.

Interested in trying out Build a Menu for yourself?

Check it out here!

(By the way, there is a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you're not thrilled with it, there is nothing to lose!)

That Time We Ate 40 Boxes of Pop Tarts

I’ll spare you the lengthy details, but a couple years after our marriage, I discovered the world of coupons. I’m not talking about getting a dollar off something we normally bought. I’m talking about checking out with a whole cart full of groceries and having them owe me money at the end. I was good at it, and it was fun.

When I started couponing so heavily, we didn’t have a strict grocery budget. I would just buy whatever was free or close to free with coupons and fill in the gaps with meat and vegetables.

Our pantry was filled to the brim. My husband had to build extra shelves – twice. We had boxes and boxes of cereal, shelves loaded with canned vegetables and soups, boxed potatoes, baking mixes, condiments – you name it and I had it. And I had paid almost nothing for it.

I tried to be careful. I tried to buy only the “healthiest” stuff. We ate cereal for breakfast, but I tried to get the kinds with less sugar. We ate granola bars for snacks as opposed to cookies. When I got Hamburger Helper meals for free, I would get them only for the purpose of using the pasta, and I would throw away the packages of chemicalized sauces.

Occasionally the temptation to enjoy convenience crept in, and I would allow myself to bring home cookies, chips, and soda when I got them free. But we still tried to keep the “junk food” to a minimum and only use it as a special treat.

But the fact of the matter is that processed food is…well…processed. It doesn’t matter how many claims on the box say that it’s healthy or all-natural. If it comes in a box or a can, 90% of the time it contains ingredients that were not meant for human consumption. At best, it doesn’t contain any real nutrition. Even if harmful ingredients are not added to the food, the process by which it must be preserved and packaged to withstand a long shelf life at the store renders it nearly void of any nutrients.

Our trend of consuming free-with-coupons food continued for about 3 years. Cooking was easy because I always had a pantry full of food from which to choose. I could open a few boxes and cans, stir them together, and have a meal ready very quickly. But shopping was another story. I grew tired of having to resist the temptation to get the free cookies and chips. I grew tired of not really knowing what my food was made out of, but eating it anyway because it was helping our grocery budget.

One week I brought home 40 (!) boxes of Pop-tarts, not because we intended to eat them, but because they had paid me to buy them, and I was using the overage to get other things for which there are no coupons like milk, meat, and vegetables.

That Time We Ate 40 Boxes of Pop Tarts

I should have immediately gotten rid of them, but I stuck them in the pantry to deal with them later. (You know all about my propensity to do that if you’ve been reading here for any length of time!)

Eventually we opened some of them up when we were hungry and needed something in a hurry.

A couple months later I went into the pantry to find that all 40 boxes of the Pop-tarts were GONE! In a couple months time, we had eaten 40 boxes of Pop-tarts. I was disgusted.

And that was the real beginning of our journey to healthy living.  We are still on that journey and will be until the day we die…

Where did your journey begin?  I'm curious to know!

Natural Makeup That Works For Me

I haven't worn makeup for almost 2 years.

When I was in high school or college I would have died to even go out of the house without makeup.  Once I got married I relaxed a little bit, but I still would NEVER go to church without makeup.

Then when I began having all sorts of health issues (you can read a little bit about my journey in my book), I realized that  I was having allergy type symptoms (sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, etc.), but only on Sundays.

I finally realized that the culprit was my makeup.

I stuck it out for a while, but the symptoms just kept getting worse.  I was miserable any time I wore makeup.

I had already been eliminated as many toxins from my life as I could, and I knew this was one more step that I needed to take.

Since I didn't know of any natural makeup that would suit my needs, I was going everywhere with a completely bare face.

I never wore much makeup to begin with, but going with a completely bare face was making me feel so frumpy.

I really like the type of foundation that's like a cross between liquid and powder – like a cream foundation – but the only natural brands of makeup I could find only carried powder based foundations.

Finally I discovered Moody Sisters Skincare and they had exactly what I was looking for!

I wrote to them and asked if I could try out some of their makeup and blog about it, and they readily agreed.

Moody Sisters

They sent me some cream foundation, mascara, and lip gloss.

You can see the before and after results – nothing dramatic, but that is exactly how I like my makeup.  Just enough to smooth out my face and give me some color.

20150820_162217          20150820_163646

(Looks like I had a little photo bomber!)

 

What I didn't like:

– The mascara will definitely run if you cry!  There is really no way around that with a natural makeup, but it has a great consistency and offers really nice and even, non-clumpy coverage

– I had hoped to spread the foundation with a sponge, but since there are no preservatives in the makeup (that's a good thing!) the sponge molded overnight.  I have found, though, that it's not bad at all to spread it with my fingers.  It doesn't make my skin nasty and sticky and stain everything I touch afterward like conventional makeup would.

– The color of the lip gloss doesn't last terribly long, so I carry it in my purse to re-apply.

 

What I loved:

– The color of foundation was perfect, and the girls were so helpful at helping me pick a color that was just right.  It goes on very smoothly and doesn't make my skin feel oily at all.

– The ingredients are all things I could eat if I wanted – no more sneezing and itching from toxic chemicals!

– Like I mentioned above, the consistency of the mascara is very nice. I would think that would be hard to do with natural ingredients, but they've done it!

– The lip gloss is also a nice consistency.

 

If you're looking for some makeup that doesn't contain toxic chemicals but that will still do a great job of offering coverage and color, you should check out Moody Sisters Skincare!  They have lots of other products too that I haven't tried yet.

 

Natural makeup that works for me

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie

If you're looking for a quick and tasty breakfast, try this Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie. Kid approved!

pb banana protein smoothie

Ingredients:

1 banana
2 T natural peanut butter
2/3 cup Greek yogurt, plain yogurt, or vanilla yogurt
Milk (optional)

Directions:

In a blender add in the banana, pb, and yogurt. Blend until smooth. If it is too lumpy, you can add a little milk to make it smoother.

Serves one. Enjoy!

*Dairy free option—omit the yogurt and use ½ C almond milk instead

 

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie.  Kid Approved!

Strawberry Overnight Oatmeal

I don't know about you, but breakfast is one of the hardest meals to prepare at our house.  It seems like by the time I get everything made and cleaned up it's almost time for lunch.  Preparing this strawberry overnight oatmeal the night before will mean you have breakfast ready to go in the morning!  And the fresh, spring-time taste will be sure to delight your family!Strawberry Overnight Oatmeal - so good and so easy to make!

 

 

Ingredients
1/2 C greek yogurt
½ C Old fashioned Oats
1/4 C Almond Milk (or other milk)
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
Fresh strawberries for topping

 

Directions

Empty the yogurt into a jar or Tupperware that has a lid on it.
Add almond milk and stir.
Then stir in oats a little at a time.
Sprinkle cinnamon and stir again.
Cover jar or Tupperware with lid and give it a shake.
Refrigerate overnight.
Top with fresh strawberries and enjoy!

 

Strawberry Overnight Oatmeal

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