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Category: Tips and Tricks

Our tried and true tips and tricks we use and love

I Work Ouuu-wt! A Guide to Protein Powder

If you’re like most people that are working on their fitness, chances are at some point, you just may have been faced with the dilemma of what protein drink to choose post workout.  With so many companies out there promoting their products, it can be a very intimidating task.  Then you’re faced with whether to choose whey, soy, pea protein and on and on.  Help!!

If there was just one thing that I wish I had known to look for years ago when choosing protein to fuel my body, it would be to look for clean ingredients in my protein powder.  I mean real, I mean organic, I mean truly good for you.  There can be SO many unnecessary ingredients in these marketed products that well, aren’t actually all that great for you if we’re honest here.  

Of course in our pod, gluten and dairy free is a must.  We said goodbye to an old favorite, Ump protein powder a while back.  Although it delivered yummy taste, for us whey had to go along with many other ingredients it contained.  Currently, I’m using Vega brand vanilla flavored protein and greens because it is non-gmo verified, is gluten free, has no sugar added with only 6g carbs, and packs 20g of plant based protein in just one scoop!!  We find our protein mix at Target, Whole Foods and even Costco.  It is also available online at Amazon.  

 Vega Protein

In my findings, the only ingredient I truly wish that I could change about the product I use, is that it does contain xantham gum as its very last listed ingredient.  So, if you do have to avoid gums and fillers, then this drink mix may not be for you.  Fortunately, xantham gum doesn’t seem to bother me right now however, I’m really eager to get my hands on Rootz Nutrition Paleo Protein.  Have you tried it?  It supposedly has zero gums and fillers!

Vega mixing

Now when I was contacted by Sally Edwins from Reviews.com, a website dedicated to revealing the truth behind products and industries, I knew this would be a post many of our readers could find beneficial.  According to Sally, their research team “spent 180 hours researching 697 protein powder formulas by analyzing their ingredients, consulting with sports nutritionists, as well as scouring reviews and scientific publications. Along the way we discovered that an alarming amount of these products contain dangerous substances and additives, and now we feel the need to get the word out. Ultimately, we found eight protein powder formulas that have the highest quantity of effective ingredients, without the superfluous nonsense.”

Pretty interesting stuff, right?!  You may check out their full resource here: http://www.reviews.com/protein-powder/ 
They’ve done the hard part for all of us!  Plus, I was super pumped to find that the protein I choose, made the “best overall” list.  
 
So, did your protein of choice get reviewed?  Take a look!
Love your body enough to fuel it with the right stuff, and just keep moving!!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Turkey Cookies

In an attempt to replicate the famous tradtional Pinterest inspired turkey cookies made with chocolate sandwich cookies, I was on a mission to find some clean ingredients and also replicate the adorable treats in gluten free fashion.  I knew right away that our favorite gluten free JoJo’s from Trader Joe’s would be my cookie base and that Justin’s mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups would become our turkey body.  Then, after a little searching, I was able to find the rest of our yummy kid-approved ingredients, including delicious frosting (ie the “glue” that holds it all together, and the candy corn feathers).  

If you haven’t given Simple Mills organic frosting a try yet, you’re totally missing out on some amazing frosting!  It has way less sugar than conventional store-bought frosting, not to mention the fact that it has clean ingredients so you don’t have to worry about the negative effects of genetically modified ingredients and chemicals disrupting your body.  Win, win!   It tastes delicious too, is certified gluten free and even dairy free!  We were also able to hunt down some gluten free, non-gmo candy corn at Whole Foods and again, we love it for all of the same reasons we love anything organic.  The taste replicates the old candy corn I remember from childhood.  For food coloring, we love to use Watkin’s natural dye which uses natural clean ingredients to color frosting.  Say goodbye to red40 and yellow5.  It’s a little pricier, but so worth it!

turkey-cookies-with-logo

Now, are you ready to learn how to assemble these adorable kid-friendly cookies?  Let’s get started….

You’ll need: 

  1. A box of favorite gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies (We use Trader Joes) (budget 2 cookies per turkey)
  2. bag of non-gmo gluten free candy corn (budget 5 pieces per turkey)
  3. Simple Mills vanilla frosting
  4. red, orange and yellow Watkins natural food dye
  5. small bag of Justins dark chocolate peanut butter cups (You can make your own homemade mini cups too, certainly recommended with sunbutter for peanut allergy friends! πŸ™‚  (budget 1 1/2 cups per turkey cookie ie body and head)
  • Lay out your ingredients in mini assembly piles of 2 cookies each, paired with 5 pieces of candy corn, and 1 1/2 unwrapped peanut butter cups.  (You will need to unwrap and cut in half, the remaining peanut butter cups for each turkey head.)
  • Now, carefully twist apart one of your sandwich cookies per turkey, leaving the second one assembled, as is.  It’s time to place the feathers in between.  With a butter knife and frosting, layer in some frosting on bottom cookie piece to act as glue to hold the 5 candy corn feathers.  I tried to alternate candy corn color so there was variety, in a fan-like shape.  Now, sandwich the top cookie piece back on.  You can add more frosting in middle to stick it together as needed.  We found some cookies needed more frosting “glue” than others.  
  • With assembled feather cookie laying flat, glue second sandwich cookie to front of sandwich cookie with feathers vertically, using frosting as glue to hold it in place.  
  • Glue peanut butter cups in place with frosting to form the body and head, all while feather cookie remains flat.  Allow to set for 30 min before decorating the eyes, feet, and beak.  

While the cookies are drying together, you can mix your yellow and orange frosting next.  (Use red and yellow to mix orange, you won’t need much)

We love to use Watkin’s no artificial dye food coloring.  You can find it on Amazon or if you’re lucky enough…we found it at our local Target.  Using either a frosting decorator tip or a ziploc plastic baggie with the corner cut out, add the beak with orange and the feet and eyes to the cookies with yellow.  Tah-dah!  The littles will gobble them up and you’ll free great knowing these treats are chemical and dye free.  Win, win.  turkey-cookies-blog-post-cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGOLAND, Living the Gluten Free LifeGluten Free Legoland Cover

From their hotel to the Legoland park itself, Legoland Florida was surprisingly, pretty gluten free friendly.  Having dined a few times at Disney and finding they were very accommodating to a gluten free lifestyle, we just really didn’t know what to expect on our recent stay at Legoland.   Would they measure up?   There are, after all, many posts out there on gluten free dining in Disney….yet, not so many on Legoland. (“What-wah-wah” πŸ™ )  We hope to solve that issue, right now! 

We had emailed ahead of time for a complete list of park dining options and hotel dining options.  Since the venues are separate, we were provided with separate lists accordingly.  We were given prompt feedback!  

Gluten Free Legoland with logo

For the park itself, the food and beverage quality and safety supervisor responded…

“Thank you for your inquiry about gluten free options at LEGOLAND. We do try to avoid cross-contamination as much as possible, but because we tend to have areas that have a lot of variety, the potential is there. This information will cover the specific items carried throughout our park.  

At the park, we do have some options for you:

 Market Restaurant has Grilled Chicken, Chicken Caesar, Chef or Greek Salads, rotisserie chicken or salmon with vegetables and white rice (potatoes could have been cross contaminated during cooking) and fruit cups.  Market serves soup, but changes it daily, and the only one that is gluten-free is the broccoli cheese. 

Pizza Pasta Buffet has a self-serve salad bar and they have gluten free crusts available on request. ” 

**They made us our own individual gluten free pizzas and brought them out to the table, so we really only had to utilize the salad buffet and avoid the gluten contamination from the pizza and pasta buffet side altogether.   (Note:  They do NOT offer gluten free pasta πŸ™ )

January 2016 Legoland 289

“Castle Burger has gluten-free buns available on request for hamburgers/cheeseburgers or they have grilled chicken salads.  They also have French fries available. 

Granny’s has granny smith apple fries with whipped cream.”

**We tried the famous apple fries, yumm-o!

On our park day, of course Evan from EvanTube TV had P convinced that we just NEEDED to check out the famous apple fries first!  Now, it’s pretty rare that fried “park food” is gluten free safe, and these were an exception, 3 cheers!!  Yay!  (I think the adults liked them better than P πŸ™‚ )

P eating apple fries

“Panini Grill has gluten-free bread available upon request for various Panini sandwiches.  Kids sandwiches are ham and cheese or cheese only.  Adult options are ham,  roast beef, chicken Florentine and tomato basil with mozzarella.

Adventure or Robot Trailers have nachos and cheese and ice cream products.

Lakeside Sandwich has Grilled Chicken, Chicken Caesar and Greek Salads, fruit cups and yogurt parfaits.

Castle Cart/Lakeside Cart (open seasonally and weather dependent)β€”popcorn and ice creams.

Fried Chicken Co. has French fries.

Burger Kitchen has gluten-free buns available upon request for hamburgers/ cheeseburgers.

Dino Slush and Fun Town Slush have slushies.

Smaller locations, like the carts, will not be noted on the map.  However, we can point you in the right direction once you are here.  If, on the day of your visit, you have questions regarding the food options, please stop by any of the restaurant locations to speak with a member of leadership.”

SO helpful, right? πŸ™‚

For the hotel:

We have many options available with a gluten free eating experience. Attached you will find an easy to follow chart. Red bars under the allergen shows this product has the allergen and should not be consumed. Please speak to cook prior to dining, our menus change at times and the chefs will know for sure and even can make you a specialized meal.”  

Bricks Copy-of-Florida-Allergies-Legoland  breakfast

Bricks Florida-Allergies-Legoland  dinner

Skyline Restaurant and Bar Allergen Menu lunch and dinner 

The only downside to the breakfast menu, was that they, at the time anyway, did NOT offer gluten free pancakes or waffles, muffins, etc. however they did have gluten free bread to toast (that you could get from the back kitchen from the chef).  Breakfast was mainly fruit, eggs and meat, ie bacon, sausage etc.  So, “note to self” :), pack your own gluten free muffins in a carry-on or purse like we did!!  We packed Trader Joe’s gluten free blueberry for us, and P loves his chocolate chip muffins, mmmm!  

January 2016 Legoland 176

We dined at Bricks in the hotel for both dinner and breakfast and both times, the chef came out and walked through the buffet lines with us to share what was safe.  They were super friendly about it and didn’t act like we were a nuisance at all.  Fun fact, a lot of their foods are made fresh and prepared right there in the kitchen, so they know exactly all ingredients in the dishes.  Yay!  P highly recommends their nacho cheese sauce and corn chips!

The Skyline bar and restaurant in the hotel also had some “limited” options, yet options nonetheless and this is where we scored this delicious caprese salad for lunch one of the days!  We simply added the plain, grilled chicken for protein.  

January 2016 Legoland 201

 Regardless of the food options along the trip, and at the parks, I always pack our snacks and gluten free bread to make an easy PB & J (or honey) if you’re the gluten free kid :)… (sunbutter for those peanut allergy friends πŸ™‚ )

January 2016 Legoland 196

This simple tip alone, also saves the cost on dining for a quick lunch!!

 

We’re off!……January 2016 Legoland 175

 Fun tip:  Before your vacay, plan to do a countdown!  The, easy, DIY countdown was made right at home.  With a simple dry erase Vis-a-Vis marker, we were able to add the countdown numbers to the Legos themselves and attach a fun mini-figure on top of each Lego brick for fun.  3, 2, 1, ……  

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We started 15 days out, however you could start anywhere from a month out for older kiddos, to even just 5 days out for the littles.  Legoland is SO super kid-friendly for young ones too, with many ride options for all and play areas!!  And don’t forget to plan to do some mini-figure Lego trading while there!  We were able to get away in January, which made for no wait times and less congestion.

Upon hotel check-in, we were pleased to find some great products in the room, including this organic lotion:

January 2016 Legoland 191

P also was surprised to receive treasures in the treasure chest, just for him, including complimentary Honest Kids juice!

January 2016 Legoland 199

Gluten free kid tested, mom approved, and no incidents of being, “glutened”….we highly recommend Legoland!!

Welcome to your room

 One thing I wish I would have known ahead of time….IF you’re staying at the hotel, they toast s’mores in the evening…bring your own gluten free graham’s and join the fun!!  We didn’t know about it, so we didn’t have ours packed.  Next time!! πŸ™‚

fire pit

 

 

Find this post helpful?  You may also want to check out:  

3 Tips for Stress Less, Gluten Free Travel

 

Thanks for stopping!!

January 2016 Legoland 235

 

Please note you must always check ingredients and read labels on any food, or products mentioned in this post, including checking with the Legoland food staff. This post was written to reflect the options available to us at the time we traveled.   It is intended to be a helpful guide, however menu items and ingredients could change.  

Stress less, gluten free Travel 3 Tips for Stress Less, Gluten Free Traveling 3 Whole Peas (1)

When we travel as a family now, there is an entirely new dynamic entered into the equation….Where will we eat? And what CAN we eat?  We actually have to pack food now.  Ugh.  At first, travel with this new transition proved very stressful.  The very first road trip away, just before my actual diagnosis when I wasn’t feeling well, I literally packed coolers of cooked organic meals in preparation knowing that I wouldn’t be able to eat out, including lots of chicken and veggies. (You should have seen the car, lol!!!)  If I had to describe it in two words, “clown show”.  hah  Yet, this was the only way I could see myself being able to eat.  When it was time to stop for a bite, it was only a matter of finding a gas station with a microwave, or asking the restaurant we stopped at, to please heat my food.  Not ideal, but it worked.  Hey, a girl’s gotta eat!

 Once I ate my way through my two or three days of rationed, prepped food, I’d then have to make a stop to Whole Foods and stock up again.  Rotisserie chickens became my best friend.  It was after this road trip, that we were like, NEVER AGAIN!  It was tough.  Easier to stay home we said.  Yet months later, once I regained some foods back, travel prep became less and less time consuming.  Now, we just ensure we have enough snacks and high protein foods and healthy fats to power us through until we can find the closest allergy friendly/gluten free restaurants.  We do cave and give in on the organic foods when traveling.  It’s almost impossible not to.  All in all, we’ve finally got things figured out enough to the point where we can at least travel comfortably again.  

Just recently, we flew back home for my cousin’s wedding.  We were gone only 4 nights, yet I still felt compelled to pack a ton of snacks.  Here is “P” on the plane ride there…

 

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I stole mom’s ipad

I try to always pack suckers for “P” for take-off and again for landing.  It helps avoid the ear popping issue altogether, and the people around us never complain because it keeps him occupied and quiet as he enjoys the treat.  Win, win.  We buy Yummy Earth, “Organic Lollipops”.  Check them out at www.yummyearth.com.  The pops are certified organic, have no chemicals or dyes, are vegan, gluten free, wheat free, soy free, nut free, dairy free and allergen free.  The flavors are tasty, unique fun treats including Tooberry Blueberry, Wet-face Watermelon, Pomegranate Pucker, and my favorite Mango Tango.   They also sell delish fruit snacks and gummy bears.  

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View from the sky

Pictured below is our carry-on.  (Laugh)  It contains pretzels, in case they offer “P” pretzels on the plane, I’m prepared to substitute out these Snyder’s.  With kids, it’s easier to have an exact substitution to avoid issues when possible, although he’s getting pretty good understanding it all now that he’s older and eats what he can.  On the way there, we actually got lucky and they served peanuts instead.  A snack we can eat!  Anyhow, we also threw into the carry-on potato chips, Annie’s mac n’ cheese to go packs and their bunny grahams, Pamela’s gf chocolate chip cookies, beef jerky and my go-to, nogii bites for protein.  I also threw in some Trader Joe’s bagels and gluten free, dairy free muffins for the hotel in the morning.  This totally saves cost and hassle in the morning when everyone wakes up hungry and the continental breakfast doesn’t cater to gluten free people.  Once in a  great while, we get lucky and find gluten free bacon and/or eggs in the complimentary breakfast stations, sometimes even Chex cereal, but we never bank on it.  We usually always luck out and find some sort of fruit as well.  Needless to say, I pack breakfast anyways, better safe than sorry.  I have even packed gluten free oatmeal packets before and they worked out great!  Just add water to your bowl of oats and microwave!!  Instant breakfast.  

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Gluten Free Carry-on

The trip went really well.  The wedding venue even served the family our own gluten free meal and our packed snacks were sufficient to carry us through the days.  When you arrive you can stock up on rice milk or almond milk etc. at the local grocery store and even plant based butter if you’re dairy free IF your hotel has a fridge that is, most do these days.  I managed to find a local deli that had gluten free spinach wraps for lunch the day before the wedding and enjoyed gluten free carry out pizza the night before we headed out.  The wedding was beautiful and visiting family was over due.  Lastly, I’ve started using the app called iPitt.  Have you downloaded it?  You can set preferences up to let the app know what allergies you have and then simply scan the bar-code on products before you eat them and the app will tell you if it’s safe for you to eat or not.  I will say, I’m finding a lot of new products aren’t yet available yet on the new app, but they are working on it and adding items!   So, if you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth a look!

If from any of this you take away only three things for stress less, gluten free travel, I’d hope it to be:

  1. Pack your own snacks, including continental breakfast items.  If traveling by air, place them in a designated carry-on.
  2. Research gluten free restaurants at your destination ahead of time.  It makes finding dinner when you’re already over hungry so much more enjoyable and is just overall easier on everyone else in the party involved!!
  3. Stay at a hotel/resort (or someone’s house) with at least a fridge and microwave (kitchen is ideal however not a must).  You can always call ahead to ask on amenities.  This way, you can stock up on some of your basics and necessities at the grocery store when you arrive and still keep them fresh for duration of your stay.

Now, you can enjoy yourself, relax and have a blast!

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Good-bye Cousin!

On the flight home, they did offer up pretzels.  So, I enjoyed one of these Sargento snack packs and “P” enjoyed his gf pretzels.  Have you seen these packs out yet?  Cashews, cranberries and cheddar cheese cubes.  (We were flying at lunch time, and this kept me full and energized until we landed and we could find other food)  I recommend them in a pinch, just wish they came in organic.  A girl can dream.  πŸ™‚  

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Snack time!

How do you travel gluten free?

Home at last
Home at last

Gluten Free is Elementary!

Packing lunches for the gluten free kid is the easiest way to go to ensure he stays gluten free at school.  There are SO many inspiring, healthy lunch ideas out there these days from fabulous allergy friendly bloggers to helpful pinterest pins.  Surprisingly and thankfully, with so many gluten free options available, packing a gluten free lunch isn’t all that much different than packing any other nutritional lunch, well, except maybe for the cost $$.  Two ways we suggest making nutritional, allergy friendly lunches more affordable, is 1) get a Costco membership and 2) shop for gluten free finds at Trader Joes!

cream cheese bagel sammie (2)

Some of “P’s” favorites school lunch snacks include Pirate’s Booty, both Annie’s Homegrown fruit snacks and chocolate and vanilla bunny grahams, not to mention Trader Joe’s gluten free Joe Joe’s (Oreo copycat) as a treat.  I always tie in some sort of real fruit (oranges, strawberries, grapes, banana) or veggie (carrots and ranch are his faves!) and his go to sandwich happens to be peanut butter with flax and honey.  We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, Canyon Gluten Free Bakehouse bread and Three Bakers Bread for sandwiches.  You most often can find coupons on their sites too, woot!  This day however, I sent him off with a new lunch variety…

pizza bagel

 

Pizza bagels!

The bagel is Trader Joe’s gluten free with ham and Trader Joe’s mozzarella, not treated with rBst. (If your child is dairy free, they also had some dairy free shredded cheese solutions there and of course, there’s always Daiya).  We think these Trader Joe’s bagels make the best broiled pizza bagels, just broil for 2 minutes and voila!  Let it cool before storing in your lunch container, regrigerate, and then it can be enjoyed room temp at school.

We found the organic fruit snacks and Pirate’s Booty at Costco and the gluten free sweet and salty mix at the grocery store.  Here’s just another example of how we do school lunch with Udi’s Gluten Free Bread and organic strawberries.crustless sammie

 

Next, are our Trader Joe finds from this past weekend follwed by a few more lunch ideas of our own and you will see that “P” picked out some sweets to add yet more variety to his dessert choices, the important things in life, right?!  We found Brownie Crisps (that are vegan and gluten free, not to mention made with many organic ingredients, bonus!), his gluten free Joe-Joe’s and Trader’s gluten free Snickerdoodles (taste similar to Enjoy Life version if you’ve ever had those, yet cheaper!) are also pictured.  This organic lemonade by the way, only has 9 grams of sugar per serving, woot!, compared to most juices with 30-40 grams per serving.  Yikes!

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no bake cookie lunch
A homemade gluten and dairy free no bake cookie from the blog not only adds some sweet, but delivers some hidden protein too!

 

Love the brand, Food Should Taste Good ‘s tortilla chips.  They make for some great loaded nacho lunches!loaded nachos

lunchableNothing is as more kid friendly, than a lunchable.  Here we used organic grass fed beef sticks we ordered on Amazon, some Organic Valley cheese sticks and tasty Food Should Taste Good gluten free crackers.  This lunch was a hit served with gluten free JoeJoes, a cherry squisher from TJ’s and Annies fruit snacks!  Don’t forget the Honest juice!

Lastly, I love to use these re-usable muffin cups I purchased from Amazon as food sorters to hold P’s sides.  They work really well!  Below, they serve as fruit cups.

muffin cups repurposed

A link to a pin from my Pinterest board, “What’s for lunch?”,  and Following in My Shoes has some neat ideas as well.

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Now, a little off topic, yet still on the school subject, brings me to a free printable I’d love to share.  I could’t resist myself when “P” started bringing home his sight words that I used to send out to my first graders.  I immediately started a sight word, book binder for him.  Sight Word Binder
If you have an emerging reader at home like us, you just may find this useful.  I created a cover page for the binder, obviously purchased a white binder, and got to work inserting the word wall words from school he’s been re-introduced to thus far.  It is not by any means fancy, yet very effective!  Many of these words we worked on at home in preschool last year, so I was able to up-cycle the papers of word wall words from “mommy school” I had saved (the famous read, build, write activity) and I am slowly adding the pages to his binder as his teacher re-introduces them at school this year.

Each week, before he works on the next sight word in class, I add the word page to his binder.  With the help of some magnetic letters, he practices reading the word, building the word and then again writing it.  We keep the binder by his bed so he can do a quick review at night with us.

So tell me, what do you do with those word wall words the teacher sends home in the newsletter to reinforce them at home?  πŸ™‚

Want the read, build, write, printable?   (Anyone can create it, however I’m willing to save you the time!) Subscribe to the blog off to the right anytime this September and we’ll e-mail you the printable sheets for free, straight to your inbox.  You can even adapt them to print them off with your very own specific sight words.  I’ll also add in the cover page and you can personalize with your child’s name.

Christie's phone Smokerise 738

We get a lot of use from our Leapfrog Alphabet too!  Happy reading!Christie's phone Smokerise 739

chemical freeproducts Chemical Free Products

Have you ever given thought that the products you use on a daily basis also contribute to your overall health?  I didn’t used to, but just like the food we fuel our bodies with have an impact on our well-being, so do the familiar products we use every day in our lives.  Over the past couple years, my family has turned to new products, ones that are more natural in nature and overall, introduce less chemical toxins into our bodies.  Today on the blog I thought I’d take a break from food recipes and provide you with some of our favorite hygiene products. After all, your skin is your largest organ not to mention your primary detox pathway.  Be choosy what you apply to it and your little loved ones.

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First, is this little cutie brand of kid products that I’m now hooked on for “P”.  We use the shampoo/body wash combo daily.  It’s called “So Cozy” and they have many more products in their line to choose from including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hair gel and even check this out…. lice shampoo?!  Not that this is an issue for us, (knock on wood:), but I couldn’t help but snab some up for the linen closet as a “just in case” with his first full-time school year in full swing.  It’s completely chemical free, unlike other lice treatments and remedies and it can even be used to prevent lice too.  Now if that pesky note from the teacher comes home notifying me of a case of lice in my child’s classroom, I know just what to do to prevent “P” from hopefully getting it too.  The next time you’re at Target, check it out!  πŸ™‚

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shampoo and body wash
shampoo and body wash

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imageSince moving to the south, we have also purchased and gone through the most sunscreen this current summer than we ever have!!  I have to believe we will be using it more on a year-round schedule than we ever did before in the Midwest.  So once I realized all of the chemicals in sunscreen, I had to make a change.  Shopping at Costco, I usually snab up some Honest brand sunscreen when they carry it.  You get two tubes, and its a pretty good value, but I’ve also found these below screens to be comparable and provide some decent coverage too:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my opinion, the natural screens do go on rather thick and are quite pasty, but I guess this way you can ensure the coverage is just as quality as the chemical filled kind, well, minus the toxins.

Next, do you or your children take vitamins?  Ever look at what additives are in their vitamins?  Well, if you’re now on the hunt for gluten and dairy free vitamins you’re kids will beg for….search no more!  Yummi Bear Organics has some pretty delicious fruit snacks, I mean, vitamins.  They taste too good to be true.  With non-gmo ingredients, organic flavor and colors, no dies or other nasties, I am sold and “P” loves to take them.  We actually order these from Costco.com, as I haven’t seen them in stores yet.  The multi-vitamins come in a variety of flavors, and the immunity health ones come in a berry flavor I believe.

kid vitamins
Kid vitamins

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Now on to relaxation.  Bath time!  And no, not for the kids.  When I take a bath, I like to detox with natural Epsom salts.  Like many things, I order them online.  I recently ordered this brand of epsom salts from Amazon.  They are natural, non-gmo, kosher certified, 100% pure magnesium sulfate.

natural epsom salts
natural epsom salts

I absolutely love Amie Valpone’s detox bath remedy, Epsom Salt Detox Bath, but I’ll admit, there are some days that we all just want a good, clean, bubble bath. Again, on amazon, I found the perfect solution….gluten free, and no synthetic fragrance!  image

EOS Organic lip balm
EOS Organic lip balm

The next product I am a huge fan of, is Evolution of Smooth lip balm.  With 100% natural organic ingredients, and a gluten free label, I can’t go wrong.  The flavors and scents are great and the product does keep your lips smooth.  We all use the “egg chap-stick” in our pod.  I personally haven’t met a flavor I haven’t liked yet.  image

I also even scored their shave gel.  I was super excited to see that they carry lotions too.  Hesitant to try the shave cream when I read it had oats in the ingredient list, I did a little research and found several reviews online of people that had contacted the company and the company claims to use gluten free oats as well, so like their chap-sticks and hand lotions, I read it is okay to use the cream if you are sensitive to gluten.  So far, I’ve had no issues with it to report.  Woot!

shave cream
shave cream

Clean Bee Toothpaste

Clean Bee Toothpaste

Some other favorites of ours in the bathroom include Toms toothpaste (“P” loves strawberry flavor), and I have been using this natural toothpaste my mom found at our local farmer’s market back home. So yeh, one may think that fluoride is great for you, right?  Otherwise the dentists wouldn’t recommend those fluoride treatments for the kids, or would they?  Did you know that in the long run, fluoride actually aids in the decay of our teeth overtime?  Ick.  This natural toothpaste, although gritty, does a great job of keeping your teeth clean, and bonus, whitening them naturally!

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When I was at Trader Joe’s more recently, they even had a variety of Toms of Maine products, so I picked up the following…and bonus, organic gluten free peppermints!!  

Trader Joe finds
Trader Joe finds

Lastly, I’d like to cover the laundry room.  The detergents many of us use are harsh and also full of chemicals and dyes.  So when I received these samples one day in the mail, they were a logical alternate solution for me especially because I used to be such a big fan of the tide pods.  These too, are tablets or pods.  The brand is “Grab Green”.

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Non-toxic, naturally derived ingredients

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I could go on and on about more products we use in our pod, but these are a few favorites that I wanted to feature.  What favorite natural household or hygiene products do you use?

Below is a few resources for more household cleaners.  The first, a floor cleaner from naturesnutureblog.com .

 

Also, we use a lot of these recipes from heandsheeatclean.com.….

We purchase a cheap plastic, squirt bottle from the dollar store and label the containers accordingly.  image

Last but not least, I’m excited to share this great resource to.  One Good Life by Jille blog has some awesome ways to DIY your own products!  Check it out, you won’t regret it.  

chemical freeproducts

CLEANer Produce Clean er Produce

How often are we in a rush and maybe don’t take time to wash our produce properly?  Too often.  In our pod we have really tried to be better about taking care of our produce the moment it comes home from the grocery store, farmer’s market, or even our own organic garden.  There are just way too many reasons that we should all be washing our produce thoroughly, and yes, I mean more than rinsing it under the faucet water, or simply wiping it down with a towel.

Although organic produce is the way to go if you want to avoid toxic chemicals and pesticides in your diet altogether (smart choice:), for some, it is not always possible.  Besides, even our organic produce is dirty in terms of potential parasites and bacteria from the soil.  It too, should be properly cleaned before consumption.  People get ill more often than we think from food every year.  Each year, people fall ill from food contamination, and I don’t just mean things like salmonella from raw or under cooked meat.  This includes sickness caused by fruits and vegetables.  Ick!  Yup, food that’s otherwise supposed to keep us healthy, right?

In my research I’ve discovered people use different ratios of vinegar to water to kill off any bacteria on produce, making it safer to consume.  I’ve also learned that people have various methods to clean it in terms of spraying the produce down with a spray bottle, or even soaking it in the sink, not to mention suggesting different forms of vinegar to use.  Can get confusing, right?  Well, I have found that about 1 TBS of organic apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water is the perfect ratio that works for me and I like to soak my produce in a bowl, not the sink where germs hide out, for at least 5 minutes before rinsing it once again with water and finally consuming.  5 minutes should give the vinegar ample time to work, killing of any harmful bacteria and again, if your produce is NOT organic, you should be doing this with all of your fruits and veggies to reduce consumption of toxic chemicals and pesticides.

This week, we had some organic raspberries and strawberries to clean as well as some veggies.

strawberries soaking in vinegar
strawberries soaking in vinegar

After they soaked for about 5 minutes, I took the berries out and placed them in a colander so that I could then rinse them off.  The results in the bowl are always rewarding because you can literally see the dirt and residue that you’ve washed off and yes, sometimes even a bug or two is floating on top.  Yuck.image

 

With strawberries of course, I can always see some seeds from the berries, probably the majority of residue at the bottom, yet how disgusting is this water?  To think if I had not rinsed the berries at all, I would definitely consume some of this dirt.  Pictured next, is a closer up representation of the dirt remains on the bottom of my bowl after I dumped the vinegar/water solution out.  These organic berries, although organic were clearly not ready to consume.

dirt residue after water was dumped out
dirt residue after water was dumped out

 

 

raspberries soaking
raspberries soaking

imageNext, I washed our purchased organic cherry tomatoes and veggies.  You can see that I like to use Bragg organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar.  Nothing but the best!  Again, my results were satisfying, as I again could see the dirt and grime I had washed away from my produce.

veggies soaking in vinegar solution
veggies soaking in vinegar solution

Tip:  If you aren’t going to consume your produce that day, I lay it all out on paper towels to dry before placing it back in the fridge.  This helps eliminate the produce from growing mold and gives it a little longer shelf life than if I had put it away wet.  Now, the next time you want to snack on your fruits and veggies, they are clean and ready to go!
Clean er Produce