10 Paleo 4th of July Recipes

10 Paleo 4th of July Recipes

Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” — Herbert Hoover

This Independence Day, we have a whole lot to celebrate here in the U.S. Hopefully you’re planning something special with your family and friends. As for me, I’m trying to plan a 4th of July menu, and these Paleo dishes are getting me inspired (and very hungry)!

Wishing everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!


10 Irresistible Wedding Songs (Playlist)

10 Irresistible Wedding Songs

I’d been planning on putting together a little wedding playlist, and what better time than on this historic day? These are just a few of my favorite love songs — of course, there are so many more I could have chosen — but I tried to choose songs that are less likely to be found on most other wedding song lists (okay, one predictable song did make the list, but I just can’t resist that Ed Sheeran tune).

And considering that music and love are both universal languages, the two go hand in hand perfectly, don't they? Enjoy the playlist, and love one another!


Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad

Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad
Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad
Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad

***As we head into Father’s Day weekend, I think it’s a good time to share this popular post originally published in September 2014. Thinking of (and missing) my dad, and wishing all the other dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!***

As I'm finishing up reading my latest nutrition book (a really good one, by the way, which I’ll be sharing with you all soon) and learning about all these complex nutritional principles, beliefs and theories, I can’t help but think about my dad.

My dad was the ultimate health nut. He’d spent years struggling with his own health demons, so when he began to learn about the role of nutrition in achieving good health, he was extremely passionate about sharing it with everyone he knew. He could go on for hours, talking about the importance of eating natural foods, consuming raw dairy instead of pasteurized, replenishing the “friendly” bacteria in our guts (that one really threw us for a loop) and in his later years, explaining the horrific consequences of improper cattle raising (I can’t tell you how often I was lectured about Mad Cow Disease!).


Natural Nail Polish: Zoya

Natural Nail Polish: Zoya
Natural Nail Polish: Zoya, Toni
Zoya Natural Nail Polish: Toni, Brigitte, Pandora, Happi, Gia

A recent article from the NY Times is both disturbing and eye-opening, as it sheds light on an important ongoing issue: the dangers that nail salon workers face on a daily basis due to exposure to harmful chemicals found in nail care products. It also reminds us that these dangers don’t just stop with those who work in nail salons; it applies to all of us who use nail polish (and other nail products) on a regular basis. While we may not be breathing in these chemicals for hours every day, many of us are still exposed to them (even if at low doses) over a prolonged period of time. Chemicals found in nail polish have been linked to health hazards including cancer, neurological disorders, impaired reproductive health, birth defects, headaches, skin conditions, and respiratory problems.

The article was very timely for me, as I have recently been in the process of exploring more natural nail polish options. While my nails used to be remarkably strong and healthy, years of medication and use of conventional nail products have left my nail and skin health to suffer. While battling a relentless case of eczema on my hands (and specifically, around my nail beds), I knew it was time for a change.

That being said, you might already be aware that there’s really no such thing as totally "natural nail polish." In this case, the term “natural” is used to describe nail polish brands that remove some of the more harsh chemicals found in conventional nail polish brands, making them less hazardous to our health and less likely to cause allergic reactions. Although these products are still made with chemicals that aren’t completely benign, they are free of some of the more offensive toxins. And if we are going to indulge in treating ourselves to a mani/pedi, we may as well use the least toxic options, right?

There are several brands that claim to offer more natural options. The problem is, some natural versions tend to not work very well, chipping far too easily and making the investment in these nail polish brands a waste of time and money.


Vintage Vacation: Paris

Vintage Vacations: Paris, Arc de Triomphe
Vintage Vacations: Paris, Eiffel Tower
Vintage Vacations: Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral
Vintage Vacations: Paris, Sienne
Vintage Vacations: Paris, Cafe

***It was exactly 15 years ago that I took my first trip to Paris. So I thought it was the perfect time to share this popular post about one of my favorite places on the planet, originally published in May 2014.***

Moments before I’m about to go undergo a medical procedure, my doctor always tells me to close my eyes and think of my “happy place.” I close my eyes and picture myself lying in a patch of the greenest grass, with sunlight peeking through the clouds overhead on a warm, breezy day in Paris. I’m in a park, I think, where people are picnicking, laughing, perhaps taking an afternoon snooze. I can’t see it, but off in the distance is the Eiffel Tower. I can hear voices around me, but they are faint and soothing, for all I feel is total peace.

Even though I’ve been to Paris several times, I’ve never actually been to this park. I don’t even know if it really exists. But for some reason, when I close my eyes in search of that happy place, I can see, and most importantly, feel this imaginary destination. Paris has always been one of my favorite cities, and maybe that’s why it’s the first place my mind goes to when I think about escaping to somewhere that puts my mind at peace.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Paris. I haven’t been able to travel internationally for quite some time due to my illness flaring (even domestic travel is currently a challenge, but I’ll get to more about that in a future post), so for now, those memories are tucked away safely in my mind. And they are great memories. My first trip to Paris (which was also my first trip to Europe) was with a group of girlfriends and it was the most liberated I’ve ever felt. I returned a couple more times, as the city seemed to beckon me. These travels took place before my illness (and restricted diet) began, so I was free to enjoy all the decadent indulgences that surrounded us: croissants, crepes, panini, gelato, the-best-coffee-you-will-ever-taste and of course, wine! In between seeing the amazing sights, we spent hours in smoky cafes and restaurants, meeting people from all over the world, and dreaming up where life could one day take us…that is, if we allowed it to. We were still young enough for those dreams to have room to grow. Whether those dreams were naive or whether they were full of promise — or whether they were somewhere in between — could be left to one’s own perspective, but it was my first real lesson in learning that imagining the life I wanted was the first step to achieving it. It taught me how important the power of intention is, and although it would take many years, I would also eventually learn how emotion — whether positive or negative — directly affects the physical.


Wish List: Wedding Guest Fashion

Wish List: Wedding Guest Fashion

I’m so excited because in just a couple of weeks, we have a family wedding coming up…and who doesn’t love a wedding? But as much as I always look forward to the celebration part (in this case it will be my brother-in-law and his lovely bride-to-be), there is always a little part of me that goes into minor panic mode with that inevitable question: what am I going to wear?

Sure, it’s a trivial matter in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t help but feel a little vanity when special occasions roll around. So in my quest to find the perfect wedding guest outfit, I thought I’d share some of the pieces I have my eye on right now:

Wish List: Wedding Guest Fashion
Wish List: Wedding Guest Fashion
Wish List: Wedding Guest Fashion

1. Alice + Olivia Fila tulle and lace mini dress • Alice + Olivia • $451.50
2. Vince Camuto 'Kiley' Peep Toe Platform Pump (Women) • Vince Camuto • $118.95
3. Aidan Mattox Long-Sleeve Lace Beaded-Waist Fit & Flare Dress • Aidan Mattox • $350
4. Nadri Small Pavé Stud Earrings • Nadri • $40
5. MARGOT Glitter Fabric Clutch Bag • Jimmy Choo • $650
6. Tadashi Shoji Lace Fit-and-Flare Cocktail Dress, Deep Lagoon • Tadashi Shoji • $390
7. Natasha Couture 'Stardust' Box Clutch • $88.80
8. Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Lace Sheath • Adrianna Papell • $179
9. Nadri Pavé Bangle • Nadri • $150
10. Pelle Moda 'Fabia' Sandal • Pelle Moda • $154.95
11. Anthropologie Silk Cut-Out Dress • Anthropologie • $278
12. Adrianna Papell Embellished Blouson Gown • Adrianna Papell • $260
13. Black Halo Ally Sheath • Black Halo • $345

(*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.*)


Green Bean and Mushroom Salad

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

My mom makes the best green bean and potato salad. It’s always been one of my favorites, but as my disease progressed and I realized I had to change my eating habits, eating starchy white potatoes went right out the window. Rather than abandon this family favorite altogether, I decided to use mushrooms as a substitution. It works perfectly for me (since I love mushrooms!), and it’s so easy to make (sometimes simple is best!).

Although most of the ingredients in this recipe are cooked, this salad is best enjoyed chilled, making it the perfect side for a Memorial Day barbecue or any summertime celebration. And bonus: this salad is naturally Paleo and vegan!