2.05.2016

Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand

Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand, Paleo
Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand, Paleo
Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand, Paleo, Equal Exchange
Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand, Paleo, Alter Eco
Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand, Paleo, eatingEVOLVED

Okay, let’s just get the obvious out the way (because I know what you may be thinking): chocolate and sugar are technically not Paleo. But in the primal-living-world, most of us like to have somewhat healthier options when we do want to indulge a little (it’s part of that Paleo “gray area”). So whether I’m baking Paleo treats or looking to enjoy a special holiday (like Valentine’s Day!), it’s always of importance to me to find chocolate brands that offer healthier, sustainable, and ethical choices.

We all know that dark chocolate (70% or higher) has potential health benefits (like lowering blood pressure), but commercial chocolate is filled with all sorts of other things that aren’t so good for us (or the planet). Finding a healthy and ethical chocolate brand wasn’t easy at first, but I’ve come to find there are some great options out there.

Here are the most important qualities I look for when choosing a healthy chocolate brand:

• Organic
• Fair Trade
• Soy-free (and free of other unhealthy emulsifiers)
• Dairy-free
• Gluten-free
• Sweetened without refined sugar

And here’s why:

1.28.2016

Why I'm Loving Oregano Oil

Why I’m Loving the Benefits of Oregano Oil
The Benefits of Oregano Oil, NOW Softgel Capsules
The Benefits of Oregano Oil, NOW Softgel Capsules

(*The following is my personal experience with oregano oil and should not replace professional medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any supplement. Oh, and heads up: this post contains some affiliate links.)

Last year, I was sick with upper respiratory infections (i.e. head colds) at least 5 times. Because my post-prednisone immune system is still trying to get back on track, this usually translates to being hit with viruses that leave me laid up for 2-3 weeks at a time. That’s way too much unnecessary downtime. Although I do my best to get all my immune-fighting strength through nutrition, sometimes it’s just not enough (the fact that I have Crohn’s and potential malabsorption issues could play a role as well), so I knew I needed some supplemental help. Just as I started the hunt to find some supplements that could help fight off colds and support my immune system, a doctor happened to mention oregano oil to me. He told me to take it (in capsule form) at the first sign of a cold because it has been shown to fight off viruses. So with the chilly weather in full swing and my immune system often working against me, I decided to give it a try.

After doing some of my own research, I came to find out that the benefits of oregano oil are plentiful, and it is quite the immune-boosting herbal remedy. Studies show that it has effective anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. In particular, it has been found to be beneficial in fighting respiratory infections, yeast infections, giardia, norovirus, and even cancer. Because of it’s antiseptic properties, it also has been shown to be an effective ingredient for hand washing and household cleaning solutions.

1.22.2016

10 Healthy Game Day Recipes

10 Healthy Game Day Recipes, Paleo and Vegan Party Foods

It’s that time of year when we start thinking out planning our Game Day/Super Bowl parties. But whether I’m planning the party or simply attending it, I always get anxiety about what I’ll be able to eat versus what I’ll have to pass up due to my food intolerances.

These Game Day recipes, however, give me hope that it’s more than possible to incorporate some healthy versions of traditional party foods. For those of us with food intolerances (or other food preferences), it means we’ll have some options and won’t be stuck just sitting on the sidelines (now, that’s something I can cheer for!).

What party foods are you planning to make this year?

1.15.2016

Luscious Lips (The Natural Way)

Luscious Lips, Natural and Healthy Lip Products
Luscious Lips, Natural and Healthy Lip Products
Luscious Lips, Natural and Healthy Lip Products

Winter weather often means dry lips, so it’s that time of year when our lips need a little extra TLC. I’ve tried to slowly replace my conventional cosmetics with healthier versions (it feels good to toss the toxic stuff!), and lip care has been no exception. Lip products, in fact, are particularly important because they not only absorb into the skin like other cosmetics, but can also be easily ingested.

These are a few of my favorite natural lip care products right now (heads up, this post contains some affiliate links):

1.07.2016

Promise Yourself (in 2016)

Promise Yourself, The Optimist Creed, Christian D. Larson

On the heels of my last post about letting go of fear, judgment, and self-doubt, I couldn’t help but think about something I found in my dad’s paperwork several years ago. We often joke that my dad was a “collector” of many things (which is a nice way of saying he was a pack rat), and that mostly meant going through tons of boxes and paperwork after he passed away. But the positive side to this was coming across the little “treasures” and trinkets that were left behind: photos, yearbooks, notes, and journals. One of my favorite finds was a document with the following typed on it:


Promise Yourself

To be so strong so that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

12.30.2015

Dreams of a Sixth Grader

Dreams of a Sixth Grader, Letting Go of the Fear and Self-Doubt that Holds Us Back

In the 6th grade, I wrote a paper about the country of Venezuela for a class assignment. When the graded papers were returned to us, I eagerly flipped to see my grade (yes, these things excited me), and I was rather surprised. It wasn’t just because of the grade (I thankfully got an “A”), but because of the remark that my teacher, Miss Martens, made next to it. “You are a talented writer!” she wrote.

And guess what? I instantly believed her.

Those five simple words would have quite an impact on me moving forward and would shape my dreams for years to come. Prior to that, I’d always enjoyed writing and well, doing anything creative, but I’d never really worried about whether or not I was actually good at it. I’d written “books” as early as five years old (stories I’d write and illustrate). My friends and I wrote songs (and performed them too…but that’s a story for another day), and we even started a “newspaper” for the street on which we lived, reporting on the very “important” events going on in our neighborhood (“Breaking News: Mr. Bruno Builds New Fence on Property, Ding-Dong Ditchers to Find New Route”). I loved writing and being creative simply because it was just a natural part of having fun.

Until, of course, that fateful day in the 6th grade. Now, it was more than just fun. It was a skill. It was a talent. And apparently — at least according to Miss Martens — I was good at it.

Moving forward, I continued to write, but now with the belief that it might take me somewhere. I wrote short stories, poetry, more songs, even started a novel or two (as you might imagine, I didn’t get very far with the novels). I entered contests, submitted my work to teen publications, anything I could to propel my “craft.” In the 11th grade, I would win a regional prize in the Los Angeles Public Library Short Story Contest (I got to attend an official awards ceremony and everything!), and my story was even published in our then local town newspaper. I was on the road to success! Maybe there was some merit to what my 6th grade teacher had said after all.

But then there was the flip side: anytime I didn’t get a glowing review on a paper, or anytime one my submissions was rejected, I was crushed. Each time, I doubted by abilities and thought that maybe my 6th grade triumph was merely a fluke. Maybe I wasn’t really any good at all. In high school, I would take a particularly crushing blow when my 9th grade English teacher called me “comma happy” while grading one of my papers. Ummm, comma happy? How dare she? I’ll show her! And for years, I was painfully aware of every comma I placed, scrutinizing each one’s necessity, and making sure that comma absolutely needed to be there before committing to it. The use of the Oxford comma? Pshhh…no, thank you! Yep, I’ll show her. (To say I took my writing too seriously would be an understatement.)

But the relentless self-doubt had kicked in, and this pattern of allowing my work to be affected by what others’ thought would continue in the years to come. By worrying about others’ opinions, I became overly self-conscious and far less productive. Over time, my dreams shifted from being an aspiring novelist or screenwriter to succumbing to the notion that my 9 to 5 job was “good enough,” and writing was pushed to the back burner. I was trapped by the perception that others had to validate my work before I could ever be called a “writer,” and that left me producing almost nothing at all.

12.18.2015

15 Paleo Christmas Cookie Recipes

15 Paleo Christmas Cookie Recipes

Before going Paleo, I adored baking cookies every holiday season. From thumbprints to pecan sandies to classic chocolate chip, it was always great fun to create an assortment from which to choose. When I had to cut out grains and refined sugar, I thought I’d never enjoy another Christmas cookie again; that is, until I discovered all the amazing Paleo recipes out there. I’m still trying to perfect my pecan sandies recipe (to be revealed at a later time), but for now, here are some gorgeous and mouth-watering options to bring you cheer this Christmas: