Choosing a Healthy Sunscreen: Part 1

Choosing a Healthy Mineral Sunscreen, Tizo3 SPF 40
Choosing a Healthy Mineral Sunscreen, Unblemish SPF 20
Choosing a Healthy Mineral Sunscreen, Andalou Naturals Beauty Balm SPF 30

***Summer is fast approaching (yay!), so it’s a perfect time to share this post originally published in May 2014. I still adore these sunscreen choices and highly recommend them if you’re looking for alternatives to chemical sunscreens…and don’t forget to check out Part 2 (sunscreens for the body and lips) as well!***

With summer just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to share some of my favorite sunscreens. As we all know, sunscreen use is important to protect against skin cancer as well as premature aging of the skin. Unfortunately, I know this all too well, as I’ve lost count of how many procedures I’ve had to endure over the last several months in my dermatologist’s office. I’m so tired of receiving “atypical” biopsy results (which I believe are a result of both my sun exposure over the years and my use of mercaptopurine, a medication which is meant to help treat Crohn’s), Take it from me: being cut into time and time again (along with the joy of stitches and scarring) is not fun. So making sure I’m using sunscreen diligently is a priority for me, and I highly recommend that others take it seriously too. Prevention is the key!

The problem is that most of the sunscreens found in the average drugstore are composed of dangerous chemical sunscreens and other ingredients that can actually contribute to the development of skin cancer and other health conditions (not to mention, a lot of people are allergic to these chemical ingredients).

Some of the ingredients I look for in a sunscreen product are:

• mineral sunscreens (i.e. zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) as the active ingredients and no chemical sunscreens (such as oxybenzone)
• no parabens (i.e. chemical preservatives linked to cancer and other health hazards)
• no retinyl palmitate or any variations of vitamin A (which can actually accelerate the development of skin cancer).

(For detailed information on how to choose a healthy sunscreen, this info from Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a great source.)

So what’s the difference between a mineral sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen? In a simplified nutshell: chemical sunscreens greatly absorb into the skin and can cause harm to our organs, while mineral sunscreens or nanoparticles (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) provide effective protection and are less likely to penetrate the skin or reach far enough to do damage.

But if these healthy sunscreens are not often easily found in the local drugstore, where can we find them? I have the best luck online, but some nutrition stores (like Whole Foods and Sprouts) also carry alternative sunscreens (just be sure to read the ingredient lists, as not all are as natural or chemical-free as they claim to be). For a quick reference on the healthiest sunscreens, EWG’s annual Sunscreen Guide compares hundreds of sunscreen products and rates them according to their health hazards (the lower the score, the better). They don’t list every sunscreen available, but it’s a good start, and the website provides tons of useful information about healthy sun protection (EWG's Skin Deep database does the same for cosmetic products).

Still, as I’ve come to learn, just because a product is a healthy alternative to chemical versions, it doesn’t always mean it easy to use or apply. Finding a sunscreen that is both healthy and easy to use can be difficult. I’ve experimented with a lot of mineral sunscreens, and unfortunately a lot of them are quite thick and can leave a pasty white film on your skin, and like most sunscreens, they can be rather greasy too. None of this works for me, so it’s important for me to find products that meet my health criteria and also are easy to apply, don’t leave a pasty look and leave a nice texture. Here are some of my current favorites:


10 Paleo Cinco de Mayo Recipes

10 Paleo Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Mexican food is one of my faaaavorite types of food, so creating this list made me really, really hungry. Of course, when you’re Paleo, it may seem like it may not be worth venturing into Mexican cuisine; after all, we have to miss out on foods like conventional tortillas, corn chips, beans, and sometimes dairy. But there are so many other delectable and acceptable options in Paleo Land, and recipes like the following make it so that we don’t have to feel deprived at all!

Seriously, my mouth is watering just looking at these pics.* Just click on the links to find each recipe. Enjoy!


Homemade Fresh Salsa

Homemade Fresh Salsa Recipe

It’s hard to find an all-organic commercial fresh salsa. There are plenty of jarred organic options out there. But fresh? Very rare (at least, in my experience). Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to make fresh salsa at home with wholesome, additive-free, all-organic ingredients.

That being said, I have to admit: I can’t take credit for this recipe. This recipe is all Jeremy’s. He is the salsa connoisseur in our household, so whether store-bought or homemade, he’s tried just about everything. After experimenting with numerous recipes over the last several years, this is one of our favorite versions of his homemade salsa. Of course, it’s naturally gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, Paleo and vegan, plus it’s packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A. It's simple, healthy and refreshing, and just in time for your Cinco de Mayo or Memorial Day celebrations!


Nostalgic 90s (Playlist)

Nostalgic 90s, Playlist

You guys probably know by now that I love getting nostalgic, so it's about time I put together a playlist of some good 90s tunes.

While I have lots of great posts in the works (I’m working on a new Paleo bread recipe, plus I have Jeremy working on a recipe all his own!), I wanted to take a break and flash back to a decade that encapsulates so many great memories for me: from high school to college to my first “real” job, the 90s were a special time.

There are tons of tunes that I could have chosen for this list, but this playlist captures a lot of my favorites from the decade. Some of the songs are obvious choices, and some are pretty random. This may not be your typical 90s playlist, but that’s exactly why I like it. You can preview each song below, or click on the link to access the full song:


Wish List: White and Gold

Wish List, White and Gold
Wish List, White and Gold

You can’t really go wrong with white and gold. It’s a classic color combination: forever timeless and elegant. It just so happens that I’ve fallen madly in love with my new white and gold wrap bracelet from Stella and Dot (pictured above), so I was inspired to pull together a list of other white and gold items to add to my fashion wish list.

(Also pictured above: Nadri Crystal Bangle, Kate Spade New York 'Idiom - Heart of Gold' Bangle, and Grace and Lace Faux Fur Scarf.)

And now, on to all the white and gold goodness:

Wish List, White and Gold
Wish List, White and Gold
Wish List, White and Gold

1. Black Halo Jackie Jumpsuit • Black Halo • $390
2. Michael Kors Wyatt Watch • Michael Kors • $275
3. Christian Louboutin Survivita Pumps • Christian Louboutin • $995
4. MICHAEL Michael Kors Hamilton Saffiano Leather Tote • MICHAEL Michael Kors • $358
5. Saint Laurent Monogramme Smooth Leather Clutch Bag • Saint Laurent • $1,150
6. Minnie Rose Cashmere Ruana Poncho • Minnie Rose • $196
7. Ariella Collection Pavé Ring • Ariella Collection • $45.56
8. Tory Burch Mini Miller Jelly Thong Sandal, Ivory • Tory Burch • $95
9. J.Crew Vivez Le Rêve cotton and modal-blend T-shirt • J.Crew • $40
10. Astley Clarke Rock N Roll Nugget Bracelet • Astley Clarke • $275
11. Tory Burch Tory Burch Miller Metallic Logo Thong Sandal, Gold • Tory Burch • $195
12. Diane Von Furstenberg Ready to Go Woven Metallic Tote Bag, • Diane von Furstenberg • $428

(*Note: this post contains some affiliate links from ShopSense which allow me to be compensated on a per-click basis. Please note that I only share or endorse products that I personally love and would purchase myself.*)


Paleo Carrot Muffins

Paleo Carrot Muffins, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free
Paleo Carrot Muffins, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free
Paleo Carrot Muffins, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free
Paleo Carrot Muffins, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free

Consider this a warning: these muffins are addicting. These wholesome treats are not only flavorful and perfectly sweetened, but they are also generous in carrot content and packed with nutrients.

Carrots are rich in vitamin A and antioxidants; they also contain fiber, potassium and a host of other vitamins and minerals. Although we’re all aware of carrots’ reputation for supporting eye health, even more powerful are the studies that show how the antioxidants in carrots help fight against cardiovascular disease and various forms of cancer. Other health benefits of carrots include promoting healthy skin, preventing the effects of aging, improving immune function, and regulating blood sugar.


10 Healthier Easter Candy Alternatives

10 Healthier Easter Candy Alternatives

Okay, you might have already noticed that this is not a post about filling your child’s Easter basket with tangerines and baby carrots — or for that matter, non-edible items like toys and trinkets — in the place of candy. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things; they are all great ideas! But this is about identifying relatively “healthier” versions of traditional Easter candy, for those who want to indulge a little (even if it’s just one day a year).

Many of us have fond memories attached to treats like Cadbury or Reese’s eggs, Peeps and those cute chocolate bunnies, and even if we’ve made a conscious choice to no longer consume junk foods or most manufactured candies, it’s still nice to feel like we have a few options to indulge in once in a while.

So here are some of my favorite Easter basket treat alternatives. These options are all gluten-free and grain-free, plus free of artificial colors, additives and GMO ingredients. They include some alternatives for those who have food allergies or are on specialized diets, such as Paleo, vegan or GAPS. Most of them do contain sugar (with the exception of one), but only in organic or natural forms (that being said, whether the sugar represented in this bunch is organic and/or natural, it’s still sugar and should be consumed moderately and as a once-in-a-while treat.)

Divided into two parts, section one focuses on store-bought options, while section two features wholesome, healthy make-at-home recipes. And now, on to the list!