#WHOLE30 Stuffed Turkey or Pork Roulades

#Whole30-Compliant Stuffed Turkey & Pork Roulades #Paleo #Grainfree #Dairyfree #Primal #JERF

#Whole30-Compliant Stuffed Turkey & Pork Roulades #Paleo #Glutenfree #Dairyfree #JERF

Sometimes you just need something special for dinner. This recipe makes about 8 elegant entrée servings. It’s delicious and impressive, and it just happens to be Whole30-compliant. Much of this recipe may be prepared in advance, making this a convenient option for hosting company. Your guests will never suspect you’re serving a “diet” recipe. But then, Whole30 is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle, allowing you to regularly enjoy healthful and delicious meals like this one!

INGREDIENTS:
For the Spinach Cream Stuffing –
• 1 + 1/3 cup raw almonds or raw cashews, soaked at least 3 hours (or overnight) in filtered water
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard (not Dijon, see comment below+)
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• ¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
• 1 whole pitted date
• 4 Tbsp. Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Coffee Creamer, New Barn or homemade almond milk (I like this recipe from the lovely and very talented Angela of Oh She Glows)
• 1 egg lightly beaten
• 4 – 6 Tbsp. filtered water, added 2 Tbsp. at a time to mixture while processing to form a smooth cream
• 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and very well drained
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For Roulades –
• 2 lb. extra lean turkey or pork boneless, skinless cutlets
• 1 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• Generous sprinkle garlic powder

Hardware:
• Food processor or powerful blender (e.g. Vitamix or Nutribullet)
• Parchment paper
• Meat mallet (pounder)
• Chef’s knife + Cutting board
• 13”X9” baking pan or dish
• Nonstick coconut oil spray
• Toothpicks (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Prepare spinach cream as follows:
• Drain soaked nuts. Then place nuts into the canister of food processor with S blade attached or into the canister of powerful blender (I used a NutriBullet blender, but a food processor would work too).
• Add the next lemon juice, mustard, 1 tsp. salt, pepper, date, egg and creamer/milk to the canister.
• Place lid on food processor or blender and begin to process mixture by pulsing on LOW food processor.
• Begin adding water 2 Tbsp. at a time until the mixture comes together; has no visible pieces of nuts or date and is mostly smooth. Use as little water as necessary to be able to blend the mixture.
• When mixture reaches consistency similar to ricotta cheese, scrape the mixture into a small mixing bowl along with well-drained spinach and remaining 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
• Cover with lid and refrigerate mixture.
NOTE: Spinach cream may be made up to 3 days in advance. Just keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
2. Prepare stuffed roulades as follows: IMG_4725
Place 1 large piece of parchment paper over a cutting board. Then place 2 cutlets in the center of the paper about 2” apart. Cover cutlets with another piece of parchment paper. Then pound each cutlet with meat mallet until about 1/8” thick. Repeat this process with remaining cutlets.
NOTE: You can do this part in advance as well. Simply place pounded cutlets in a large freezer bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
3. Coat the inside of 13”X9” baking dish with coconut oil or nonstick coconut oil spray. Then add 1 Tbsp. of oil to baking pan/dish. Set aside.
4. Using clean hands, place one cutlet on a plate. Spread 2 Tbsp. spinach stuffing mixture atop of the cutlet. Then carefully roll up the roulade and if desired secure with toothpicks. Next place rolled and stuffed roulades side-by-side in prepared baking dish. Repeat this process until all roulades have been placed in baking dish. Use any remaining spinach cream to top roulades, spreading an even layer over top each roulade in baking dish. Sprinkle roulades with 1 tsp. seal salt and garlic powder as desired. Then cover baking pan or dish with aluminum foil.
NOTE: Rolled and stuffed roulades may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and kept covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.
5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius). Bake roulades in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until the thickest roulade reaches an internal temperate 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius).
6. Allow baked roulades to rest about 15 minutes before serving.

Halved #Whole30 Turkey Roulades with Super Simple Sweet Potatoes, Tossed Salad, & Presto Peachy Vinaigrette.

Halved #Whole30 Turkey Roulades with Super Simple Sweet Potatoes, Tossed Salad, & Presto Peachy Vinaigrette.

~Makes 7-10 roulades, or about 8 servings.

+When doing #Whole30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of anything you plan to eat or use when cooking. For example, dijon mustard usually contains white wine which is not permitted during #Whole30, so be sure to check the mustard before you purchase. For a complete list of Whole30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at Whole30.com to educate yourself prior to beginning your own Whole30 journey, whenever you have questions or need some support.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: This recipe makes a fancier entrée suitable to serve to guests or company. These roulades are especially delicious served with Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce. The sweet tartness of the sauce provides a lovely counterpoint to the savory spinach stuffing and makes the meal feel even more special.

Mixed Halved #Whole30 Turkey & Pork Roulades with Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce

I suggest serving this entrée with a tossed salad of mixed greens, fruit and nuts. Optional side dishes include Oven Fried Sprouts; Super Simple Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes; or Quick & Easy Crispy Potatoes. A final note, the Spinach Cream Stuffing makes a terrific appetizer dip for raw vegetables. Simply spoon spinach cream into an oven-safe bowl and bake at 350° Fahrenheit (177° Celsius) for 30 minutes.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
I recently posted an article describing my favorite (and not-so-favorite) drugstore sunscreens. In that article (which you can read here), I attempted to demystify the various sunscreen “active” ingredients and discuss which types of formulas are best for different members of the family. The video that follows from the brilliant celebrity makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, provides an even more in-depth discussion regarding sunscreens and offers a short list of recommended brands and products including those available outside and within the USA. Apparently, other countries have access to a wider variety of broad spectrum sunscreens than we do here in the United States. Bummer! But I’ll let Lisa explain the particulars.

Wisdom for the Day:
“I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-12 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Save Your Money – Toddler Veggie Tots or Puffs

On the Left: Money-Saving Veggie Puffs On the Right: Dr. Praeger's Spinach Littles

Left: My Homemade Veggie Puffs. Right: Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles

I have a secret. I’m completely addicted to toddler food. Actually, it’s just 1 particular toddler food.
For years now, I’ve been loving these Dr. Praeger’s Spinach and Broccoli Littles. Love. Love. LOVE. Them. I’ll drive way out of my way to find these “little” veggie+potato treats, and cheerfully pay more than $5 per 10 oz. box (I usually purchase 4 to 5 boxes at a time since they’re hard to find in my area) to feed my habit.

My love affair with Dr. Praeger’s products began several years ago. After several years of “healthy” vegan eating, I developed a severe allergic reaction to the soy-based meat substitutes I was eating on a regular. So when I first spotted these non-GMO, soy-free alternatives at Whole Foods, I grabbed them up and was quickly hooked. When I was pregnant and craving these tasty little buggers, I even sent Hubs up to the nearest Whole Foods (over an hour each direction) to score a few boxes for me! I have such a wonderful husband!

I love them because they’re green and filled with non-GMO green veggies and potatoes. They’re certified gluten-free (and in fact, contain no grains whatsoever). There’s nothing funky or nasty in them (save for some canola oil which admittedly is not the best, but at least it’s not hydrogenated or full of trans fats); no grains or gluten (they’re certified gluten-free); and no dairy or soy. They’ve got some protein in there too, thanks to the inclusion of egg whites. And they just taste great! They’re fun to eat and just make me feel good. But since I’m an adult (not the target market), I tend to eat a bunch of them (when I have them). So, keeping my “Littles” supply stocked can be rather expensive.

Recently Hubs and I were stocking up, and I was overcome with a bit of buyer’s remorse. As I emerged from the store’s freezer holding 5 boxes of assorted Dr. P.’s Littles, I made the following off-hand remark. “These things are ridiculously expensive. I bet I could make them, or something very similar.” Since Hubs manages the grocery budget, he was immediately excited by my comment. I, on the other hand, was immediately regretful I’d said something so foolish, thinking “I could never make anything as delicious as my beloved Dr. P’s.” I reluctantly agreed to try to create a recipe similar too my beloveds but insisted we purchase the 5 boxes I was holding “you know, just so I have something to compare my own recipe to.” Gotta love that rationalization there.
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Hub agreed, and I began searching the all-knowing Internet for some sort of “Dr. Praeger’s Littles” dupe recipe. I quickly found several recipes posted on various Pinterest boards, all of which claimed to be dupes. Sadly, each one of those recipes included cheese, lots of cheese, sometimes 2 types of cheese in a single recipe. Ugh! Since dairy is a deal-breaker for me, I decided to wing it, and try to create something yummy using the same ingredients listed on the box (but subbing extra virgin avocado oil for the aforementioned canola. And I used tapioca powder instead of arrowroot because that’s all I had, but either would work well).
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I’m excited about the following recipe for a few reasons. First, I’m excited because these little puffs taste really good, and because I envision them saving us some grocery money. I really enjoy eating them, and (even more importantly), my daughter likes to eat them too. Woohoo! Score one for Mommy! I’m also excited to share a recipe that features spinach, which is #8 on HealthGrove’s list of the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. For those of you who are unaware, I’ve been posting a series of #Whole30-compliant and #paleo-correct recipes based on that HealthGrove list. Spinach is a favorite in our house. It’s literally our daughter’s favorite food which makes me very happy because spinach is such an amazing food. These mild leafy greens are an excellent source of folate, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and many awesome antioxidant and beautifying vitamins (including: Vitamins A, B2, C, E, and K). You can read all about Popeye’s power source here. If you’re interested in reading the whole list of 30 best foods for beauty, you can find the full list here. And if you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, be sure to check out the list and links at the bottom of this post.

INGREDIENTS:
• ½ sweet onion diced + ¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth (optional)
• 14 oz. bag frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and well-drained
• 1•½ cup liquid egg whites (roughly the whites from 12 large eggs)
• 3 cups cooked finely diced or shredded potatoes, divided
• 1 Tbsp. sea salt
• 20 cranks of crushed black pepper
• ¼ – ½ tsp. garlic powder or 1-2 whole, peeled garlic cloves (according to taste; I recommend using ¼ tsp. if using onion)
• 1•½ cup potato flakes (For this and all my #Whole30 recipes, I recommend these flakes from Bob’s Red Mill because those are the only potato flakes I’ve found that are 100% dehydrated potatoes without dextrose or any unapproved additives)
• 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
• 4 Tbsp. chia seeds
• Nonstick coconut oil spray
• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin avocado or olive oil
IMG_4628
HARDWARE:
• Powerful blender or food processor (I used our Vitamix, and it worked really well)
• Measuring cups + spoons
• 2 Baking pans (I used 2 mini muffin tins) coated with nonstick coconut oil
• 1 Large mixing bowl
• 2 Microwave-safe bowls (medium and small)
• 1 oz. cookie scoop
• Oven

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. If including onion in your veggie tots, cut onion into slices. Then transfer onion to a small microwave-safe bowl along with ¼ cup broth. Cover bowl with a paper towel and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Remove bowl from microwave and set aside.
2. Place 3 cups diced or shredded potatoes into a larger microwave-safe bowl. Cover with paper towel and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Remove bowl from microwave and set aside.
3. Pour the following ingredients into the canister of a powerful blender or food processor with ‘S’ blade attached: cooked onion mixture; drained spinach or greens; shredded, 2 cups diced (or shredded) potatoes; sea salt; black pepper; and garlic (if using). Place lid on food processor or blender. Then process/blend on LOW setting about 30 seconds or until mixture is liquified and thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into a very large mixing bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together potato flakes, tapioca starch; and chia seeds. Then add this mixture to the spinach mixture, along with remaining 1 cup diced or shredded potatoes. Stir well to thoroughly combine. Cover bowl with aluminum foil and refrigerate batter for 30 minutes (up to overnight).
5. When ready bake, preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (204° Celsius). And spray 2 large mini muffin tins with nonstick coconut oil spray. Then drizzle 1 Tbsp. avocado oil over each of the pans. If using regular cookie sheets, cover sheet with parchment paper. Then lightly coat paper with nonstick spray and drizzle 1 Tbsp. oil over each pan. Set pans aside.
6. Using a 1 oz. cookie scoop, scoop batter into/onto prepared muffin tins or baking sheets. Sprinkle puffs lightly with more sea salt if desired.
7. Bake at 400° Fahrenheit (204° Celsius) for 35 minutes (mini-muffin tins) – 45 minutes (for puffs on cookie sheets).
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SERVING SUGGESTIONS & NOTES:
While these little treats are technically #Whole30-compliant, they’re potato-heavy (i.e. high carbs). It’s best to think of these puffs as a starchy side dish, not a high-protein entrée. I recommend enjoying these treats in moderation and serving alongside a nice lean meat and toss salad. This recipe makes a ton, but these little puffs freeze well. If you do plan to freeze and reheat later, bake for just 30-35 minutes. Then allow cooked puffs to cool thoroughly before transferring to a large freezer bag. To reheat, remove puffs from freezer and allow to sit on counter until puffs reach room temperature. Then preheat oven to 400° F (204° C) and oil a baking sheet. Then place desired number of puffs of prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

3 Little Veggie Puffs Just Begging to be Eaten!

3 Little Veggie Puffs Just Begging to be Eaten!

Wisdom for the Day:
“But God chose what the world considers nonsense to put wise people to shame. God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame. God chose what the world considers ordinary and what it despises—what it considers to be nothing—in order to destroy what it considers to be something.”
~I Corinthians 1:27-28 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
You ever notice how all the YouTube beauty gurus are always raving the latest and greatest product roll-outs? It’s pretty rare to encounter a beauty review or tutorial video that really praises those products that have been around for years. So when I encounter a YouTuber who embraces oldy but goodies, I get excited and want to share it. Check out this full talk-thru tutorial as Emily Noel discusses (and demos) her favorite all-time drugstore products. Take notes because the products she recommends are excellent and bound to save you some money!

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Whole30-Compliant Sloppy Joes on Sweet Potato Toasts
Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Whole30-Compliant Sloppy Joes on Sweet Potato Toasts

Beautiful * Deliciously Sloppy Joes

Beautiful + Deliciously Sloppy Joes

I’m really excited to share today’s recipe with you, for several reasons – primarily because my family loves this meal so much. Since a happy and healthy family is my #1 cooking goal, this one is a big win in my book. It’s also a ‘win’ because Hubs loves (LOVES) sloppy joes, so I made them often especially in the beginning of our marriage. But I never felt good about serving such a highly-processed, sugar-laden food. About a year ago, I began making my own sloppy joe / BBQ sauce using ketchup, maple syrup, some vinegar, spices, etc. I felt a little better about that, but in the back of mind, I knew that commercially available ketchups are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and added sugars. Because of that, we all but gave up on ever eating sloppy joes again, especially during and after we did the #Whole30 this past April (2016). So, I’m really pleased that this recipe (which includes no ketchup, maple syrup, HFCS or added sugars beyond a few dates and pure apple juice, which are perfectly #Whole30 acceptable when used in moderation) allows us to one again enjoy this favorite and fun meal without regrets.

The magic is in the BBQ sauce. It’s quick and very easy to make. It’s great for basting chicken, beef, pork or any other standard BBQ sauce application you may have. AND it includes a secret (healthy+beautifying) ingredient.

Pumpkin - It's More than a Pie Filling!

Pumpkin – It’s More than a Pie Filling!

For the past few months, I’ve been posting a series of #Whole30-compliant, paleo-correct recipes featuring the ingredients identified by a recent HealthGrove study as the best foods for beautiful skin and hair. And Number 13 on the HealthGrove list is that fall favorite – PUMPKIN.  Thanks to the miracle of modern technology (i.e. canning), pumpkin is now available year-round. It’s a great source of Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), potassium and fiber. (For more detail, check out this nutrition summary from HealthGrove.). And, pumpkin is a great way to add sweetness to a recipe without sugar, HFCS or other sweeteners not approved for #Whole30. Pumpkin is also the “secret ingredient” in this recipe, and I can almost guarantee your family will never guess it’s in the sauce. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, check out the list and links below. And as always, if you have #Whole30 questions, need advice or support to complete your #Whole30 or just wanna brush up on the rules and recommendations, I encourage you to check out the Whole30 website and specifically the Whole30 101 pages.

INGREDIENTS:
For ground meat –
• 1 lb. lean ground beef, bison or turkey breast (I used 97% lean ground turkey)
• 1+½ tsp. salt
• 1 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil

Perfectly Paleo and Whole30-compliant BBQ Sauce

Perfectly Paleo and Whole30-compliant BBQ Sauce


For Sweet Smoky BBQ Sauce –
• 6 dates soaked overnight in ½ cup filtered water
• 6 oz. can tomato paste
• ½ cup no-sugar-added applesauce, organic if possible
• ½ cup pure canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix)
• ½ cup homemade or organic ready-made chicken broth
• ¾ cup 100% pure apple juice
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• ½ Tbsp. liquid smoke
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (NOT Dijon mustard if doing #Whole30)
• ¼ tsp. garlic powder (or 1 whole garlic clove)
• dash ground allspice

For the Sweet Potato Toasts –
• 2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
• 2 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil, divided
• ¾ tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• Sprinkling garlic powder
• Dash ground allspice

Sweet Potato Toasts

Sweet Potato Toasts

NECESSARY HARDWARE:
• Blender or food processor
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Large frying pan or skillet (preferably nonstick)
• Toaster Oven (helpful but non-essential)
• Small baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Prepare BBQ sauce place soaked dates AND soaking water into canister of powerful blender or food processor fitted with S blade, along with all other sauce ingredients. Cover blender or food processor and pulse on LOW setting for about 1 minute. Then blend/process sauce on HIGH setting until the sauce is thoroughly blended and very smooth.
2. Taste sauce to test seasonings and adjust if necessary. Transfer sauce to a large jar or pitcher with lid. Cover and place BBQ sauce in refrigerator. BBQ sauce will keep covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
3. Brown ground meat in a 1 Tbsp. oil (not necessary if using higher fat meat, such as 85% lean ground beef) in a large (preferably non-stick) pan or skillet over  MEDIUM-HIGH (level 7) heat. Sprinkle the meat with 1.5 tsp. seal salt and stir frequently while browning to break up the meat into smallish pieces or chunks. Drain meat if necessary. When meat has been browned (and drained if necessary), turn off the heat and cover the pan.
4. Take BBQ sauce from refrigerator and pour about ¾ of the sauce over ground turkey. Stir well to combine and recover pan or skillet.
NOTE: Store remaining BBQ sauce in refrigerator. You can serve Sloppy Joes with the extra BBQ sauce or keep it for another use.
5. Turn skillet or stove to MEDIUM and cook mixture covered until sauce begins to simmer. Then reduce heat to LOW. Cook mixture on LOW for about 30 minutes while preparing sweet potato toasts.
6.Prepare Sweet Potato Toasts as follows: Slice peeled sweet potato length-wise into 1/8” slices. Cover a small baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Then pour 1 Tbsp. oil onto pan and sprinkle pan with ¼ tsp. sea salt. Place sweet potato slices in a single layer on pan. Drizzle remaining Tbsp. oil over the sweet potato slices. Then sprinkle slices with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, garlic powder and dash of ground allspice.
7. If baking sweet potato toasts in full-size oven, preheat to 400°F (204°C) (if you’re using a toaster oven, there’s no need to preheat). Bake sweet potatoes at 400°F (204°C) for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove toasts from oven and flip each toast over. Return toasts to oven for about 5-10 minutes, again at 400°F (204°C). Check on the toasts often because they get really dark quickly.
N.B. – If you need to cook the Sloppy Joe mixture for longer than 30 minutes (i.e. to attend to other tasks), that’s no problem. Just follow steps 2-5 above, then turn stove or skillet setting lowest heat setting. Then a few minutes before serving, add another 1/2 cup pure (no-sugar-added) apple juice and a pinch more sea salt. Stir well and keep mixture on LOW until serving.
~ Makes 4 dinner-sized servings
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Serving Suggestions:
As always, I recommend serving these “sandwiches” along side a nice tossed salad of mixed greens, with a little fresh maybe or nuts tossed in, or crisply fried+crumbled #Whole30-compliant bacon. Some sort of cooked green vegetable side also works nicely (if you’re not as salad-crazy as me). I served these along side steamed green beans almandine (as pictured above) and tossed salads. But other great side options include:  Crispy Fried Sprouts or Crispy Coconut Roasted Green Beans or your own preferred veggie side are all great options. A final note, if you’re not interested in making the sweet potato toasts, you can also serve the mixture on large romaine lettuce leaf “boats” for an open-faced style sandwich. That’s actually my favorite way to eat these.

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The cool crisp lettuce is such a great counterpoint to the sweet, tangy BBQ sauce and warm meat filling.

Wisdom for the Day:
“⌊God has sent me⌋ to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of ⌊tears of⌋ grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, the Plantings of the LORD, so that he might display his glory.” ~Isaiah 61:3 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
I often share Tati Westbrook’s videos because I think she’s so adorable and relatable. This Strobing Tutorial is one of my current favs. Strobing is prettier, easier and more natural-looking than that harsh contouring trend of a few years ago. Here Tati demystifies the technique (REALLY important for me and my novice-level makeup skills) and steps you through how-to strobe using a balanced mix of both drug-store and high-end products. Enjoy that summer glow!

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

#WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Grainfree #Dairyfree #Sugarfree

Simple and Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

Simple and Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

I’ve been posting a series of recipes featuring the ingredients identified by a recent HealthGrove study as the best foods for beautiful skin and hair. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, check out the list and links below. Number 1 on that list is – the deliciously healthy and beautifully utilitarian SWEET POTATO! Sweet potatoes are a tremendous source of Vitamins C and A (in the form of beta carotene) and also earn high marks for potassium content as well as fullness or satiety. Check out this nutrition summary from the folks at HealthGrove. Sweet potatoes are also an inexpensive, unprocessed and grain-free source of complex carbohydrates, making them favorites among #WHOLE30-ers, #Paleo types and staunch vegans alike.

The Lovely & Talented Sweet Potato

The Lovely & Talented Sweet Potato

The following sweet potato recipe is perfect for anyone needing a quick and easy weeknight side dish. Weeknights are hectic, especially for working folks and families. It’s also an especially dangerous time for those actively doing #WHOLE30 because (in the US at least) it’s the time we tend to eat our largest meal. I find it helps tremendously to have a few simple, no-brainer type recipes on stand-by to expedite the weeknight dinner-making process. This delicious and simple side dish is one of our family’s favorites, and it’s super easy for Mommy (me) to make while attending to other tasks. After making it several times, I’ve found that I can now prepare it quickly and with almost no thought. That’s really helpful on nights when we have a lot going on and other things to attend to (like our constantly in-motion little girl). Most importantly, this dish is really yummy and works well with a wide variety of entrees. This recipe is fully #WHOLE30-compliant and #Paleo-correct. It’s free of grains, gluten and sugars. And if prepared with coconut oil, it’s also #vegan, dairy-free and suitable for folks with virtually nearly any food allergies, with the exception of tree nuts. However, you could easily substitute sunflower seeds for pecans or leave out the nuts altogether to accommodate. As listed, it’s a yummy mix of sweet, warm and salty. Buttery and tender with a bit of crunch, it’s sure to satisfy your whole family and keep you on your #WHOLE30 progress. It’s a winner all the way around.
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Ingredients:
• 2 large or 3 medium-sized whole sweet potatoes
• 1/2 cup no sugar added 100% pure apple, pineapple or prune juice (I used pineapple)
• ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or clarified butter (i.e. Ghee), divided
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• dash each ground ginger, ground cloves, and/or allspice
• 1 cup diced fresh pineapple or 2 organic apples or peaches, sliced (optional)
• 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Hardware:
• Microwave
• Vegetable Peeler
• Chef’s Knife + Cutting Board
• Large Microwave-Safe Bowl
• Measuring Cups + Spoons

If you're the type to do your weekly meal prep on the weekends, consider peeling and slicing a few sweet potatoes. They store nicely in a freezer bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

If you’re the type to do your weekly meal prep on the weekends, consider peeling and slicing a few sweet potatoes. They store nicely in a freezer bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Process:
1. Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Then slice sweet potatoes into 1/8” thick slices, and cut those slices in half. It goes faster if you stack the slices when cutting in half.
2. Pour 1 Tbsp. oil or butter into a microwave-safe bowl. Then transfer sweet potato slices to same bowl.
3. Sprinkle salt and seasonings over sweet potato slices and toss gently to distribute seasonings.
4. Pour ½ cup juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over seasoned sweet potatoes and toss gently to combine.

Don't mock my dirty microwave. I told you it's hectic around our house!

Don’t mock my dirty microwave. I told you it’s hectic around our house!

5. Place bowl into microwave and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes.
6. Carefully take bowl out of the microwave. Remove paper towel (watch out for steam). Stir well. If you’re using to add fruit, do so now.
7. Return bowl to microwave and replace paper towel over the bowl. Microwave again on HIGH for another 8-12 minutes, depending on size/strength of you microwave. (As an example, we have a pretty strong microwave that has 1800W. So I microwave for 8 minutes the first time, and another 11 minutes after stirring.)
8. Carefully take bowl from the microwave. Remove paper towel (again, watch out for steam). Test one sweet potato slice for doneness. The goal is a tender not toothsome texture. (In my experience, it takes longer than you expect to cook all the sweet potatoes). You may need to microwave a bit longer (say 3-5 minutes on HIGH) to fully cook to tender.
9. Just before serving, sprinkle sweet potatoes with balsamic vinegar and pecans. Then stir once more before serving.
~ Makes about 4 generous side dish servings.

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Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes along side #Paleo Turkey Roulades, and a tossed green salad, with WHOLE30 Peachy Lime Vinaigrette.

 

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Do you love beauty tutorial videos as much as I do? Okay, maybe you don’t love them as much as I do. Maybe you just need some help achieving a polished summer look. Tati Westbrook is here to talk you (and me) through her Summer Glam makeup application. I can’t stand those YouTube makeup gurus who come across as condescending or snobbish, or who leave me feeling even more confused about how to apply my makeup. Tati’s style is so relatable and approachable, and her videos are always fun and informative. She almost always includes a nice balance of drugstore and high-end products, making her the practically perfect beauty guru in my book. Enjoy this tutorial and get glam, Pretty Mommies!

Wisdom for the Day:
With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you. ~Isaiah 26:3 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
Praying that your evenings are full of “perfect peace” and trust in God! ~KG

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

The Amazing Anti-Aging Power of Collagen Part 2 – Beautifying Beverage Recipes

I recently posted a lengthy article on the evidence supporting supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen + hyaluronic acid (HA) + Vitamin C – a combo of supplements that when taken together have been proven to reduce skin wrinkling, improve skin elasticity and increase skin’s overall hydration (think plumping) levels. You can check out that post here. The basic idea is that several studies have proven that consumption of a hydrolyzed collagen powder in conjunction with daily hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplementation can significantly increase your skin’s hydration levels, improve its elasticity and decrease wrinkles. Pretty exciting stuff! Check that post for full research detail and product recommendations.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens + Great Lakes Pure Unflavored Gelatin

There are a number of quality hydrolyzed collagen products available nowadays. The 3 I like best are California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp; NeoCell’s Super Collagen; and Great Lakes Gelatin brand Collagen Hydrolysate Kosher Unflavored Beef powderGreat Lakes Gelatin brand also produces 2 other collagen supplement options – these awesome Collagen Hydrolysate Convenience Packs and these nifty little Collagen Endurance Plus packets. The latter product includes 100% of RDA for all B Vitamins as well as 100mg. of Vitamin C per serving (packet). However,  the Collagen Endurance Plus products do have some added sucrose, so this option would not be appropriate for folks actively doing #WHOLE30.

The following recipes combine hydrolyzed collagen and other superfood ingredients into enjoyable, yummy-tasting beverages. I try to drink 2-3 collagen beverages per day. Experiment with these recipes and let me know (in the comments) if you have other collagen recipes you love!

1. Get Glowing Green Tea
I’ve written previously about green tea and the evidence supporting its status as a superfood. It’s still a challenge for me to drink green tea daily (especially if it means sacrificing a cup of my beloved coffee). This recipe is really tasty and helps ensure I meet my daily green tea quota. The secret is the cranberry juice and added super fruit powder (in this case Navitas Naturals Organic Pomegranate Powder) which provide both a sweet-tart flavor and added Vitamin C.

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Ingredients:
• 1 sachet plain or fruit-flavored green tea + 8oz. pure filtered or distilled water
• 1 scoop (about 1 Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen supplement (see this list for recommended hydrolyzed collagen options)*
• 1-3 tsp. powdered super fruit Vitamin C supplement (I used about 2 tsp. Navitas Naturals Organic Pomegranate Powder) or preferred capsule Vitamin C. (I like Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps .)
• Cinnamon stick for garnish

Hardware:
• Microwave or tea pot
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Mug

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Makes 1 yummy serving.

Process:
1. Brew tea using 6 oz. filtered or distilled water per sachet. Allow tea to steep at least 5 minutes before removing sachet.
2. At this point, I like to reheat the tea for a few seconds on HIGH in my microwave because I dislike lukewarm tea, but that’s totally optional. Remove and discard green tea sachet.
3. Stir 1 scoop (Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen into hot tea. Continue stirring gently until collagen is completely dissolved.
4. Add desired amount (I recommend 1/2 cup) of pure unsweetened cranberry juice, powdered fruit supplement and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired. You can add sweetener to this tea, but I find it doesn’t need it with the fruit juice and pomegranate powder. You could add a pinch of stevia if you want it a bit sweeter. But stevia is not permitted during #whole30.*** (See comment below.)

***Stevia and all other natural or artificial sweeteners (with the exception of pure, no-sugar-added juice) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any and all #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own WHOLE30 journey or anytime you have questions or need some support (the Facebook and Twitter feeds are tremendous sources of encouragement and support).

2. Prettier Me Mocha
IMG_2171
This recipe is essentially my #WHOLE30 Bullet-Proof Coffee with collagen. It’s also very similar to the original recipe from The Coconut Mama, located here. But lately, I’ve been really enjoying the deliciously creamy and #WHOLE30 approved Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Coffee Creamer. BTW, I’ve also tried their Unsweetened French Vanilla-flavored Coffee Creamer and love it too! Nut Pods are great for those times when I need some coffee but don’t wanna risk waking the baby by running the Nutribullet. I highly recommend Nut Pods!

Ingredients:
• 8 oz. freshly brewed black coffee, preferably organic
• 1-2 scoops (1-2 Tbsp.) powdered hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp)
• 1-2 Tbsp. pure (unsweetened) cocoa/cacao powder (I like this one from Nativas Naturals)
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil or 2 Tbsp. Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Dairy-free Coffee Creamer
• dash cinnamon or nutmeg (if desired)
• pinch pure Stevia (optional, don’t use if doing #WHOLE30, see comment above)***

Hardware:
• Blender
• Mug
• Measuring spoons

Process:
1. Brew coffee using 6-8 oz. filtered or distilled water.
2. While coffee is still very hot, carefully pour into blender canister along with all other ingredients and stir briefly until collagen is dissolved. Place canister on blender base and cover with lid.
IMG_2172 3. Blend mixture for a few seconds on HIGH until frothy.
4. Pour into a large mug. Adjust seasoning/sweeteners to taste if desired. But remember, sweeteners of all kinds (including naturally-derived ones like Stevia, maple syrup and honey) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program rules, check out the program rules here and resource links listed in comment above.***
N.B. This recipe can be made without use of blender if using Nut Pods Creamer instead of coconut oil. But even when using Nut Pods creamer, I still like to give my collagen coffee beverages a quick whir in the blender to ensure everything is well-combined and frothy.
Makes 1 Serving.

3. Skin-Loving Bone Broth Beverage

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This warm, savory drink is incredibly soothing and satisfying. It’s a terrific afternoon pick-me-up for tired mommies (like me)! The protein helps tide me over until dinner and the vegetable juice provides some extra Vitamin C + Potassium. You could use store-bought broth, provided it doesn’t contain any sulfites, MSG or other nasty additives. If you’re new to making bone broth, you can read up on the process and find some easy+delicious recipes from Paleo Leap here and The Wellness Mama here.
V8 Bone Broth Beverage Ingredients with CommentIngredients:
• 1 cup homemade bone broth
• 2 scoops (about 2 Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp or your preferred hydrolyzed collagen powder + Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid supplements) or 2 scoops (2 Tbsp.) of Great Lakes Gelatin brand Collagen Hydrolysate (be sure to take your daily hyaluronic acid supplement and at least 100mg. Vitamin C along with this broth)
• ½ cup unsweetened, low sodium tomato juice cocktail (e.g. V8 Original Low Sodium Vegetable Juice)
• 1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)
• 1 tsp. hydrolyzed gelatin (optional)
• Salt & pepper to taste

Hardware:
• Microwave
• Measuring cups
• Large Mug

Process:
1. Gently heat bone broth in microwave or on stovetop until a little hotter than desired temperature.
2. Remove from heat, and gently stir in 1 scoop hydrolyzed collagen and 1 tsp. gelatin (if using), continuing to stir until collagen + gelatin are completely dissolved.
3. Next carefully pour broth mixture into large mug. Then add the vegetable juice and (if desired) lemon juice.
4. Taste for seasonings, adjusting as needed.
Makes 1 Serving.

4. Make Me Younger Choco-Almond Smoothie

Thick, creamy and full of chocolatey, nutty deliciousness - this shake is my favorite way to enjoy collagen and satisfy my sweet tooth (teeth)

Thick, creamy and full of chocolatey, nutty deliciousness – this smoothie is my favorite way to enjoy collagen and satisfy my sweet tooth (ok my sweet teeth)

This is my current favorite lunch. I can make it quickly and drink it while chasing after my 9-month old daughter who is now constantly in motion. Containing several super star foods from the HealthGrove list of top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair, this shake is thick, creamy and delicious! The spinach provides a hefty dose of nutrition including Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamins A, C, E, B2 & K. Read more about spinach here. The almond butter imparts a yummy nutty flavor that goes so well with the cocoa. Almonds also provide more Vitamin E antioxidants, some extra protein and healthy fat (thereby boosting the satiety factor of this shake). Read more about almonds’ nutrient values here.

IMG_4106

Ingredients:
• 3 soaked dates (Soak in filtered water about 1 hour. Be sure the dates you use are free of sulfites if doing #WHOLE30)
• 8 oz. homemade almond or coconut milk
• 2 scoops (about 2 Tbsp.) powdered hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ) or preferred hydrolyzed collagen powder + hyaluronic acid supplements + Vitamin C
• 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach leaves
• 2 Tbsp. pure (unsweetened) cocoa/cacao powder (I like this one from Nativas Naturals )
• pinch salt
• 2 Tbsp. #whole30-compliant or paleo-correct almond butter (i.e. without any added sugars or sweeteners)
• 1 tsp. hydrolyzed gelatin, e.g. Great Lakes Gelatin Unflavored dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm filtered water (optional but helps make shake thicker and more creamy)
• 1 cup ice cubes (optional, I add ice to thicken the shake and make it more like ice cream)
• pinch pure Stevia extract (optional and can be substituted for soaked dates if you’re watching your carbs but, do not use if actively doing #WHOLE30, see comment above)***

Hardware:
• Blender (I used this NutriBullet Pro 900 model, but a Vitamix or similar strong blender will work well too)
• 2 Freezer-safe mugs or jars with lid
• Measuring cups + spoons

Process:
1. If using gelatin, stir into 2 Tbsp. filtered water and allow to sit for a few (3-4) minutes. Combine milk and collagen in blender canister and whisk briefly with a fork until collagen mostly dissolves (there will still be a few collagen “lumps” but that’s okay).

Spinach is a superfood too, providing Magnesium, Potassium, Folate & Vitamins A, C, E & K

Spinach is a superfood too, providing Magnesium, Potassium, Folate & Vitamins A, C, E & K

2. Put spinach into blender canister then pour in milk+collagen mixture into blender along with all other ingredients.
3. Place canister on blender base. Cover with lid and blend mixture for a few seconds on HIGH until frothy.
4. Pour into 2 freezer-safe mug or jars with lid. Freeze for about 1 hour or enjoy immediately.
Makes 2 Servings or 1 Large Meal-sized Shake
Remember, sweeteners of all kinds (including natural ones like Stevia) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program rules, check out the program rules here and resource links listed in comment above.***
N.B. If you don’t have access to homemade nut milk, you can substitute ½ cup Nut Pods Original (or flavored) Unsweetened Coffee Creamer + ½ cup filtered water. Stir briefly to combine creamer and water. Then add collagen and proceed as above.
Makes 1-2 servings.
BTW: Don’t be dissuaded by the slightly greenish color of this shakes. It’s delicious and Hubs swears “it’s as good any ice cream!” I like to save half this recipe and keep in the freezer until after dinner. It’s the perfect dessert.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
This video from Emily Noel of Beauty Broadcast is fantastic in content and simplicity.
I LOVE tip #3! It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of tips. I’m hoping this tip “changes my makeup world” too! Thanks as always Emily 🙂

Wisdom for the Day:
Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest. ~Proverbs 19:22 (NLT)
Read more here.

If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, check out this DBW post detailing research & evidence supporting Hydrolyzed Collagen Combo Supplements for Younger-Looking Skin. And if you wanna delve deeper into the research, check out these scientific articles and helpful collagen info sites:
1. Borumand & Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles, 2015. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. Online full text article link.
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. Online link to abstract here.
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. Link here.
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.

An Anti-Aging Elixir – Yes It Does Exist!!!

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We all know it’s important to take care of our skin as we age – to remove makeup every night; to always (ALWAYS) apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 regardless of the season or time of year; and to use other topical skin-beneficial ingredients like antioxidant serums, retinoid creams, and the like. But when it comes to skin health, what we put into our bodies is just as important as the lotions and potions we apply to the skin. For healthy youthful skin, experts recommend drinking lots of pure water, staying away from too much sugar, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and reducing/eliminating alcohol consumption.

But what if I told you there’s a nutritional drink scientifically proven to significantly decrease wrinkles (especially your deepest wrinkles); to improve your skin’s elasticity; and to increase your skin’s overall hydration levels? Would you be interested? Turns out such a miraculous concoction does exist.

The foundation for this anti-aging cocktail is collagen. In humans collagen is a key component of the skin, hair and nails and makes up nearly 30% of our bodies’ protein composition (Borumand & Sevilla). Sadly, collagen production decreases as we age, causing a number of common aging complaints – wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of skin tone and elasticity. Recent technical advances have produced a supplemental form of collagen that, when consumed in conjunction with certain other key nutrients, effectively combats age-related collagen loss and associated skin concerns.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

What Is Collagen?
Supplemental collagen is closely related to gelatin, but it’s chemically different from the gelatin (this ain’t your grandmother’s JELL-O) you’ve eaten in the past. The differences between gelatin and collagen can get pretty technical, so I’d encourage you to check out this article from Dr. O’Shea at The Doctor Within, as well as this excellent summary from Paleo Leap for more detail. The basic idea is that the protein components (amino acids) and peptides in gelatin must undergo additional processing to break down those components into forms more readily absorbed by humans’ digestive tracts, i.e. to break down the proteins into forms our bodies can actually digest and use to strengthen skin, hair and nails. The specific additional processing is known as hydrolysis and results in “hydrolyzed collagen,” also known as “collagen hydrolysate.”

But Haven’t Gelatin Supplements Been around Forever?
You may have seen gelatin tabs or powder gelatin supplements in stores. They’ve been around for a while. But researchers say those old-school gelatin capsules and supplements are all but worthless. That’s because the body isn’t able to break down those gelatin proteins to create the necessary building blocks for stronger hair and nail structures. N.B. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors often consumed the skin, bones and connective tissues of wild or free-range meats and fish. These sources do provide collagen more readily digested and assimilated by the human body. However, most modern diets do not include sufficient amounts of these food sources of usable collagen. Therefore supplementation is recommended. So #paleo diet folks and #whole30 fans alike can rest assured that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is completely compliant with their chosen food regimens.

According to Borumand & Sibilla (2015), previous “oral (collagen/gelatin) treatments for skin aging have been unsuccessful due to their constituents being broken down by acid and enzymes in the gut; however several studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed in the gut and then delivered to skin and joints through the blood stream (see reference 1 below).” Researchers have also found that consuming hydrolyzed collagen along with oral hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C produces the best results and efficacy. Several recent studies have reported impressive wrinkle-reduction and skin hydrating results using a cocktail of supplemental hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid (HA) and Vitamin C. Borumand & Sibilla found that this combination resulted in 25-50% skin hydration levels among study participants. They also noted significant decrease in wrinkle depth among those receiving the hydrolyzed collagen+hyaluronic acid+Vitamin C cocktail. An earlier study by Ohara et al. (2009) using a combination collagen+HA+Vitamin C supplement produced similar results in terms of improved skin hydration and increased elasticity. But in this study, participants over age 30 displayed the most significant wrinkle-reduction results (see reference 2 below).

So the evidence definitely supports this combo of supplements for improving skin-related aging complaints. Perhaps you’re eager to try out these supplements for yourself. You’ll first need to decide which hydrolyzed collagen, HA and Vitamin C option or options are best for you. I have listed some options for each below. Where possible, I’ve included comments based on my own experimentation with these products. I should note that no evidence has been found indicating any negative side effects from collagen supplementation. I personally have a pretty delicate system. There’s lots of things I cannot take, but I’ve never had any problems or side effects from the collagen, HA and superfood C products I’ve tried. Nevertheless, we are all different. You may respond more favorably to one brand of hydrolyzed collagen (or HA or C) over others. It may take some experimentation to discover the best combo for you. Here are some options to consider.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements

Reserveage Organics Collagen Replenish (for $15.79 for just 2.75 oz.) provides 2,500 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen + 20 mg. of hyaluronic acid and 60 mg. of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This one is pretty pricey compared to other hydrolyzed collagen options below but earns points for convenience by combining all 3 necessary supplements into one powder form. Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 1.24.55 PM

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ($12.95) contains 60 mg. each of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C along with 5,000 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen (from fish). This product is odorless and tasteless in every beverage I’ve tried. It does require a bit more stirring to dissolve (compared to the NeoCell Super Collagen below).

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

NeoCell’s Super Powder Collagen ($10.84 for 7 oz.) provides a whopping 6,600 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen. But it doesn’t include added Vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, so you’ll need to find those from other sources. N.B. NeoCell produces and recommends their own hyaluronic acid, but I suspect any well-made HA will work in conjunction with the NeoCell Super Powder Collagen. IMG_3990

• Last but definitely not least, Great Lakes Gelatin Co., Collagen Hydrolysate, Collagen Joint Care, is available from Amazon and iHerb along with other online sources. Price varies from $21-25 (generally around $23) / 16 oz. This amazing collagen product is odorless and tasteless (some reviewers report it has a slightly “meaty” flavor), dissolves quickly in hot, warm or cold liquids and offers pure hydrolyzed beef collagen – 6,000 mg. (6 grams) per Tablespoon. It’s worth noting that one (male) iHerb reviewer actually described this collagen as “better than Botox.” See that review here. Now that’s my kinda supplement!!!

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

 

Hyaluronic Acid Supplements
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Vitamin Shoppe brand makes a terrific hyaluronic acid product, Injuv Hyaluronic Acid 140 mg. I’ve used and enjoyed this product without any negative side effects. It has a very high level of hyaluronic acid per (2 gel-tab) dose, providing 140mg. relative to most other HA supplements, most of which provide no more than 100mg. of HA per dose. And because it’s Vitamin Shoppe brand, you’re sometimes able to get discounted prices for this product, especially if you’re a loyal Shoppe buyer.

Neocell’s Hyaluronic Acid, Nature’s Moisturizer product provides 100mg. of HA per 2 capsule dose ($19 for 60 capsules). This one is reasonably priced and is another great HA option.

Superfood Vitamin C Sources

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

Back in the day, the options available for Vitamin C supplementation were all lab-generated (often synthetically created) pills and sugary Vitamin C chewables. One problem with these options was the “GI distress” many people suffered when taking more than 1,000 mg. (1 gram) of Vitamin C per day. Next came Vitamin C Ester, highly touted by such skin/beauty gurus as Dr. Nicholas Perricone (of PBS and Perricone Prescription fame) who has been a big proponent of Vitamin C Ester, a different version lab-created C option. Some people claim Vitamin C Ester results in less digestive upset than traditional Vitamin C. However, several exerts (references here and here) state that Vitamin C Ester is chemically so different from the form readily recognized by the human body that it is less effective (than say Ascorbic Acid).

In the past few years another, more natural Vitamin C options have become widely available – C supplementation through consumption of concentrated essences of so-called “superfoods,” such as pomegranate, Camu Camu, acerola and others. These sources of Vitamin C are reportedly the most readily used by the human body and are the least likely to cause digestive side effectives (reference here). Hooray! Finally an answer to the C debate. There are some excellent “superfood” supplement options available to help you meet your Vitamin C needs. Here are a few to consider.

Navitas Naturals, Organic, Pomegranate Powder (pictured above) – Tart and sweet this bright orange powder dissolves quickly in liquids and imparts a nice pomegranate flavor. Just 1 Tbsp. of this powder provides 130% of your (adult) RDA for Vitamin C. And it’s certified organic, raw, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO. Navitas claims this product provides a, “potent source of naturally occurring phytonutrients and superior antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagic acid, tannins and anthocyanins. When consumed, these compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage.” I like this supplement a lot. This is what I used in the Get Glowing Green Tea recipe which will be posted separately along with a few other collagen+HA+C beverage recipes.

Sunfood, Raw Organic Camu Camu Powder – This powdered concentrated raw powdered essence of the Amazonian super fruit, Camu Camu provides more than 250% of an adult’s RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 tiny teaspoon. Sunfood claims this product is manufactured in a special way that “preserves the abundance of Vitamin C in the Camu fruit.”

Navitas Naturals also makes an organic, raw Camu Camu powder supplement that boasts an almost too-good-to-be-true 1180% RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 teaspoon! The reviews for this product and the Sunfood version state pretty consistently that both companies’ Camu powdered supplements taste pretty bitter; though the Sunfood version seems to be less bitter (it also provides less Vitamin C).

• You may prefer to take your super fruit supplement in capsule form. If so, this product, Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps from The Synergy Company ($22.34 for 90 caps) is a great option. Based on The Synergy Company’s “proprietary blend of all whole food extracts,” including Camu Camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, among others, just 1 of these capsules provides 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C as well as several naturally occurring co-factors and other antioxidants.

As stated above, I will soon be posting several beautifying and anti-aging “cocktail” recipes using this combination of nutrients. So be on the lookout for that! In the meantime, do some shopping. Find the right hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplements for you! I encourage you to check out the referenced articles below if you’d like to some more research on this anti-aging combo for yourself. And if you’re interested in reading about my preferred form of topical hyaluronic acid, be sure to check out this post.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Time to identify and correct some possible beauty mistakes you may be (unknowingly) making.
Check out this list of 20 frequently-violated beauty rules from Listotic.
P.S. I’m totally guilty of #3! Guess it’s time to change my sleeping habits too…☹

Wisdom for the Day:
“If you faithfully obey the commands that I’m giving you today, love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 I will send rain on your land at the right time, both in the fall and in the spring. Then you will gather your own grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your animals, and you will be able to eat all you want.” ~Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Referenced Article and Links for Further Reading:
If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, below are some citations for studies (referenced above) Hydrolyzed Collagen Consumption for Skin:
1. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles (2015). Borumand & Sibilla S. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. Online full text article link.
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. Online link to abstract here.
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. Link here.
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

Today’s recipe continues our series of recipes based on a the HealthGrove study identifying the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. In case you’ve missed any of the previous recipes from the series, you can find links for each at the bottom of this page, so be sure to check those out. In order to avoid missing any future posts and recipes, be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom. It’s quick and easy, and  you’re guaranteed to never miss a new DBW post. Simply enter your email address in the “subscribe here” box to sign up. A few minutes later, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Click the “confirmation” button in the email, and you’re done. Easy as that.

And now, the news, er I mean, the recipe. Today’s recipe is an easy, quick-to-prepare sauce that can be used to jazz up desserts or meats. It makes a lovely sweet and tangy counterpoint when served as a dipping sauce for well-seasoned grilled poultry or pork. And it’s my preferred accompaniment for my Paleo Brownies available here. This sauce features the fantastic and beautifying ingredient – cranberry juice (food #27 from the HealthGrove list). In case you hadn’t noticed, cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Cranberry juice, in particular, is everywhere! And for good reason, not only is is this sweet+tart juice healthy (with impressive levels of Vitamin C and potassium in every cup), it plays really nicely with other fruits. Apparently all the juice makers are onto this fact as well because there’s a seemingly endless variety of cranberry juice combos available on the juice aisles of every grocery and health food store, as noted here by the indescribably fabulous Brian Regan:

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Ingredients:
• 5 dates, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight (see comment below)+++
• 12 oz. (about 2.5 cups) frozen unsweetened pitted cherries, defrosted
• 1 cup pure (unsweetened) cranberry juice
• 1.5 Tbsp. chia seeds
• pinch iodized sea salt
• pinch ground allspice
• pinch pure Stevia extract, optional (do not use if doing #WHOLE30, see comment below)+++
• 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of any foods you plan to eat or use when cooking. Many dried fruits (including certain brands of dates) are processed with sulfites which are also not permitted for consumption during #WHOLE30, so be sure to check the dates before you purchase/use them. Stevia and sweeteners of all kinds are also not permitted when doing #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support.

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Powerful blender or food processor (I used the Nutribullet Pro 900)
• A large spoon or spoonula
• Mason jar or other preferred storage receptacle with lid
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Process:
1. Drain dates and discard soaking liquid.
2. Place dates and all other ingredients into canister of blender or food processor. Place lid on canister and process on HIGH until sauce is very smooth and no chunks or pieces of ingredients are visible.
3. Remove lid and test for seasonings. Adjust to taste. You may want to add 1 Tbsp. or 2 of lemon juice (as noted below) if serving sauce with a savory dish. If you do adjust the seasonings, replace the lid and blend the sauce again briefly.
4. Then carefully (this will stain) pour sauce into a jar or bottle with a lid and cover. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe Notes:
• This recipe makes about 2.5 cups of sauce.
• Sauce will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
• I recommend adding 1-2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice if you plan on using this as a sauce or dip for savory dishes.
• As mentioned above, this sauce is my preferred accompaniment for my Paleo Brownies seen below:

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Wisdom for the Day:
I spend a lot of time and blog space here at DBW discussing things that will be tasty and pleasing to the tongue, but I don’t often acknowledge the power of the tongue. Words are powerful! The following Proverb reminds us that the things we say have the power to bring life or death.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words. ~Proverbs 18:21 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Ever hear dermatologists and other skin experts say you should reapply sunscreen every few hours, but think “okay but how the heck am I supposed to do that when I’ve already put my makeup on?” Well, Angie from Hot & Flashy has an answer, and a video tutorial, for that very question! Check it out as she enlightens us on the best ways to protect ourselves from the sun while maintaining previously applied cosmetics:

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

French Provincial Furniture Rehab – Chest of Drawers Makeover

A few years ago when Hubs and I purchased our home, we found ourselves with 3,000+ sq. feet of area in need of decor and very few suitable pieces of furniture. Because we’d decided to spend most of our remaining cash (after all the initial mortgage monies were paid) on professional interior painting and in converting several rooms’ flooring from carpet to hardwood, we had very little left to spend on furniture. So, pretty quickly we decided our best bet was to purchase quality used furniture and refinish as necessary.

The first piece we rehabbed was this flat front, chest-on-chest piece circa 1950.
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We chose this chest because it’s well-made, solid wood and was in good condition. Plus, it actually came with this matching vanity and stool which we also refinished (I’ll described in separate posts).
IMG_3289We snagged these beauties for $350 total. My thinking was, because it’s flat front, the chest would be the easiest to tackle as my first refinishing project. What follows is a step-by-step description of what we did and what I learned during the process.

Step #1: Removing those hideous drawer pulls. Okay, so they’re not actually hideous. Maybe you like them, but they’re not my style and did not fit with my vision for the finished piece. Plus, removing the pulls made Step #2 a whole lot easier.

Step #2: Sanding. This took quite a while. We used 2 different electric sanders and ended up doing most of the work by hand. This is where I learned my first furniture refinishing tip. Stock up on woodworking masks because you never know what materials (and potentially even hazardous chemicals) may be flying around when you refinish a vintage piece. I nearly choked a few times, and I’m still not sure what types of fumes we inhaled as we sanded off countless layers of paint, varnish and sealants. Why take that chance? Now I wear a mask anytime we tackle this type of project. I’d add that I tried to save some cash by initially purchasing a cheap-o mask akin to those flimsy plastic Halloween masks kids wear. It left marks on my face. It was difficult to breathe through, and then the flimsy rubber band on the mask broke. Ugh the frustration! So, I recommend you purchase a sturdier, more comfortable (and yes, more expensive) mask like this one.

Step #2b: Ordering New Pulls and Appliqués. As I said, sanding took a while, so I took advantage of that delay by shopping. I spent hours browsing various internet sites, searching for exact right the pulls. The interesting thing about this chest is that the pulls on the top 3 drawers are smaller than those on the bottom two, despite having the same widths (both large and small pulls measure 2.5″ at the centers). So I really had to hunt to find pulls I liked that were available in both large and small sizes. Ultimately, we had great success with these purchased from the unfortunately-named MyKnobs.com. I was so pleased with the experience that we ultimately decided to order all new knobs for our bathroom cabinets from MyKnobs.com. I also wanted to jazz up the flat drawers by adding floral appliqués and found a great selection of floral appliqués at reasonable prices from Do It Yourself Chic retailer at ebay.com.

Step #3: Cleaning Up. Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s important to remove all the dust, as residual dust will keep the paint and primer from sticking. On the advice of various internet furniture painting gurus, we used baby wipes to clean the piece and remove excess sand, dust and debris prior to priming.  

Step #4: Applying Appliqués & Priming.  This step took longer than necessary. But, I learned the importance of applying appliqués BEFORE priming for best results. That’s my 2nd tip – furniture glue works best when applied directly to bare wood. If you going to add any decorative accents to the furniture you’re refinishing, do so before priming. This may seem self-evident to some, but I had to learn the hard way. I tried to apply appliqués to sanded and primed wood and it was a massive fail! The glue wouldn’t adhere and the appliqués kept sliding off. Ugh! Fortunately, it was a relatively easy fix. We just had to re-sand (to remove primer) the areas where we planned to place the appliqués. Vise grips also helped ensure the appliqués stayed in place while the glue dried. Bonus tip – We found that Gorilla Glue tends to be more effective than furniture glue for appliqué application. We used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Primer, available from Home Depot and other retailers.

Step #5: Painting. I started painting by hand using a quart of warm white Valspar paint and a regular bristled brush. But after 3 coats, the coverage was streaky, and I disliked the brush strokes left behind. I experimented with using foam brushes and found that the coverage was smoother but drippy. Even though I sanded the piece by hand after each coat of paint, I still disliked the finish. After researching the best furniture painting guides online, I decided to switch to a different paint altogether – Rustoleum PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Satin Spray in Heirloom White. What a difference! This is now my all-time favorite paint. The coverage is beautiful. The spray nozzle works wonderfully and is so user-friendly in design. Unlike other sprays we’d tried (for smaller projects), this one never clogged or dripped. And the coverage is thin, smooth and even. No more drips or streaks! Tip 3 – If you’re new to refinishing or just don’t have time to bother with (seemingly) endless cycles of paint and sanding, get some PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Spray. Other finishes are available but I love the satin.

Step #6: Gilding the Lilly. I love the look of golden patina over antique white painted furniture. I easily located a suitable (and inexpensive) stencil at the craft store and expected to make quick work of the stenciling using some gold craft paint. But alas, that attempt failed miserably. Next we tried several other gold paint options, everything from craft paint to specialty golden furniture paints. None seemed to stick to the paint or they were barely visible. Some even peeled right off. So we eventually sought advice from online resources and local paint stores, and ultimately purchased 1 quart of this pricey specialty gold paint, Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Latex Metallic (at a cost of $50 for 1 QT) from the nearest Benjamin Moore retailer.
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Fortunately, this product works really well with the stencils. And it was easy to apply using a rolling foam paint brush like this one. After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

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After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

 

 

For the finishing touch, I used some more of the latex gold paint to highlight the appliqués, as seen here. IMG_3379

 

Step #7: Sealing. After my experience struggling with brush-on paint (and after realizing the comparative ease of spray paint), I decided to use a spray-on paint sealer. And I figured, why change to something else when we’ve had such success with Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch products. We used this seal and protect spray and it worked beautifully. I think the finished piece required 2 cans, but it was well worth it given the time and hassle spared. And as you can see from the last picture below, this sealant has protected and preserved all our hard work despite heavy daily use.

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The finished product, immediately after completion

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
~Psalm 119:127 (English Standard Version) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Wanna read more before tackling your next furniture rehab project? Check out this informative article from Frugal Girl featuring step-by-step guide and product recommendations (and lots of pictures!).

Let’s Compare SPFs – Which One Is Right for You?

Just SOME of the SPF options from the sunscreen aisle at my local Walmart

Just SOME of the SPF options from the sunscreen aisle at my local Walmart

I recently stood in front of this display at my local Wal-Mart for like 10+ minutes (incidentally way more time than I wanna spend at any part of Wal-Mart) looking at sunscreens. As I pondered various SPFs, another woman and her young daughter approached. She was similarly perplexed by the options, and she asked my advice for a kid-friendly SPF because she’d previously purchased a sunscreen that caused an allergic reaction in her daughter. We talked for a while and she mentioned how confusing finding a suitable sunscreen had become. We discussed the things she tried and her daughter’s reaction. She ultimately chose a gentle mineral (or physical) sunscreen and thanked me for the advice.

A Brief Sunscreen Primer:
Have you also noticed that sunscreen shopping has become pretty overwhelming lately? There are just SO many options out there, and all of them claim to offer sufficient protection and superior performance. It’s tempting to grab whatever is on sale or whichever bottle looks the best on the sunscreen display. Unfortunately, that’s not always a wise way to go. As with the food we eat and the beverages we drink, it pays to read the ingredient lists on sunscreens you are considering purchasing. In fact, this is especially true with sunscreen “active ingredients.” There’s a whole lot to keep in mind when sunscreen shopping, and there’s a bunch of terminology to learn. A key SPF term is “broad-spectrum” meaning the product protects against both UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays are the ones that cause skin to get red, burn or tan. UVA rays are the really nasty ones that are primarily responsible for aging, wrinkles, sagging skin and (scariest of all) skin cancer (Source).

There are 2 categories of broad-spectrum sunscreen active ingredients – mineral (AKA “physical”) sunscreens and chemical (AKA “synthetic”) sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens are generally gentler; are best for children (6 months and older) and those with allergies and sensitive skin; and work by creating a physical barrier between skin and the sun. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are mineral sunscreen actives, and most mineral sunscreens include both these ingredients in combination. Unfortunately, mineral sunscreens tend to leave a white or grayish cast on the skin and can affect makeup performance, and some people with acne may break out after using them. Synthetic or chemical sunscreen actives include avobenzone, Mexoryl SX, and Tinosorb. These ingredients dissolve into the skin more readily (that’s how they work) and are therefore easier to use under or in makeup products. However, sensitive skins, those with allergies or very young children may react negatively (think stinging skin or watery eyes) to chemical sunscreens especially when applied on the face or near the eyes. So, both mineral and chemical actives have their pluses and minuses.

The Wal-Mart encounter got me thinking that it would be helpful to create an easy-to-read info sheet comparing reasonably priced sunscreens, so that is my intent. Below I have listed a dozen sunscreen options. Each option was selected based on the following criteria: 1.) Must have broad-spectrum sun protection. 2.) Face products have an SPF rating of 45 or higher; lip SPFs a rating of 25 or higher. 3.) All sunscreens must cost $15 or less. I have listed each product by name; SPF rating; the amount of product you get; prices points from 3 selected retailers (I chose ULTA; Wal-Mart and Amazon.com); and have included brief product summaries based on my own product testing; the benefits and limitations of each (IMO); a few other comments on each product (e.g., how the product performs under makeup, if it has fragrance, is suitable for children, etc.); and my thoughts as to who may be the best person/persons in your family to use this product.

N.B. Products with an asterisk ‘*’ are brands carrying the official Seal of Approval of the International Skin Cancer Foundation (Source). That’s a whole bunch of points to consider! So, let’s get started. First the mineral-based sunscreens:

Mineral sunscreen actives are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These products are often considered gentler and labeled for sensitive skin, children or babies.

Mineral sunscreen actives are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These products are often considered gentler and labeled for sensitive skin or very young children.

1. Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50* (1.4 oz.). This fragrance-free all-mineral sunscreen uses 5% titanium dioxide and 3% zinc oxide to provide broad-spectrum coverage but includes minimal other good-for-skin ingredients. Price points as follows: Not currently available at ULTA (though I’ve previously purchased in-store at ULTA, so you may check your local store); available for $11.80 from Wal-Mart; and $11.79 from Amazon. This product has the thinnest texture (almost watery) of any mineral sunscreen I tested. But even if you shake it up really well, it initially has a grainy feel that goes away as you rub the product into your skin. I found the graininess somewhat irritating and imagine babies and those with very sensitive skin would as well. It has a very minimal white cast and performs fairly well under makeup, again the best of any mineral sunscreen I reviewed here. As with all similar products, you must be careful to rub in these sunscreens around the tricky areas (hairline, brows, nostrils, any dry patches, etc.). With the exception of the initially grainy texture, I would highly recommend this product for all family members.

2. Cerave Sunscreen Broad Specrum Stick SPF50* (0.47 oz.). Not currently available from ULTA; available for $10.05 from Wal-Mart; and $9.99 from Amazon. This fragrance-free all-mineral sunscreen stick includes a couple of great skin-beneficial ingredients – ceramides (typical of Cerave) and hyaluronic acid but no antioxidants (just as well given the stick-style of this product. Antioxidants would be rendered useless shortly after opening). This product uses a whopping 6% titanium dioxide and 4.7% zinc oxide! With that level of mineral actives, you would expect it to be opaque, and it definitely is. This reminds me of those solid white strips of sunscreen lifeguards would sport back in the day. It’s not a product I’d use on my face before applying makeup. But it’s great for babies or young children as long as the child is willing to let you take the time to rub in the sunscreen. Given the size and style, it works really well stashed in a purse or makeup bag for on-the-go or spot applications of small areas (but again, probably not over makeup), as long as you’re able to tolerate some white patchy areas after application. Speaking of size, it’s pretty pricey given the amount you get, so keep that in mind as well.

3. Cerave Broad Spectrum Face Lotion with InVisibleZinc SPF50* (2 oz.) This all-mineral sunscreen is available for $14.99 from ULTA; for $12.12 from Wal-Mart; and for $7.99 from Amazon. As with Cerave’s stick option (above), this one is also fragrance-free and features actives titanium dioxide (present here in 4.9%) and zinc oxide (at 4.7%), the company’s star ingredient ceramides (present here in several forms) along with hyaluronic acid, peptides and beeswax. The good news is that Cerave included some antioxidants in both this formulation and the similar Cerave Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Body Lotion SPF50. The antioxidants can help provide further skin-protection against free radical damage (for more on antioxidants check out this article and recipe). This product contains Vitamin C, Niacinamide and small amounts of Vitamin E. This is a thicker lotion and leaves a definite white cast on application that takes significant time and effort to rub into skin. It works well for babies and young children, those with very sensitive skin, or anyone willing to take the time to rub this lotion into the skin. Just keep in mind that it will affect makeup performance and appearance.

4. Neutrogena pure & free baby sunscreen with purescreen SPF 60+* (3 oz.) Priced at $11.99 from ULTA.com; at $9.42 from Wal-Mart; and $13.99 from Amazon. This is a fragrance-free product featuring all mineral sunscreens (4.9% Titanium Dioxide; and 4.7% Zinc Oxide). Neutrogena also included Vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid), oat kernel extract and beeswax for hydration. But inexplicably, the company also included a preservative (methylisothiazolinone)+++ which, as explained below can cause sensitizing reactions when included in leave-on skincare products. This product has a thicker texture and leaves a white cast that, while less noticeable after a few minutes, may alter the color, performance of makeup. The problematic preservative in this sunscreen is the real deal-breaker here and makes this one a no-go for children and anyone with sensitive skin. I cannot recommend this product for any member of the family. Just check out the Amazon.com reviews! You’ll be convinced to go elsewhere for SPF protection. I’d suggest another Neutrogena option, Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 or Cerave’s Broad Spectrum Face Lotion with InVisibleZinc SPF50 (both above) as far superior. Both offer broad-spectrum, all-mineral SPF50 protection more appropriate for young children’s sensitive skin. Any mineral sunscreen is going to leave some white cast behind (these 2 options included), but both are far better suited to babies and young children and do not include any glaringly problematic ingredients.
+++Per this product’s ingredient list, this product contains an ingredient called methylisothiazolinone, a preservative known to cause sensitive reactions in skincare products. Here’s the link to the Beautypedia summary. Additional Sources: Actas Dermo-Sifiliograficas, January-February 2009, pages 53–60; Archives of Dermatological Research, February 2007, pages 427–437; and Contact Dermatitis, October 2005, pages 226–233).

Moving onto to the chemical sunscreens:

Synthetic or chemical sunscreens work by dissolving into the skin, so they are less likely than mineral actives to disrupt makeup application or leave whitish cast on the skin after applying. But they may cause a reaction in sensitive individual, including children.

Synthetic or chemical sunscreens work by dissolving into the skin, so they are less likely than mineral actives to disrupt makeup application or leave whitish cast on the skin after applying. But they may cause a reaction in sensitive individual, including children.

5. Coppertone Oil-Free Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF50* (3 oz.). This product is not currently available online from ULTA; it is available for $6.87 from Wal-Mart; and for $11.82 from Amazon. This fragrance-free all lotion-style sunscreen is surprising emollient while still managing to absorb quickly and without leaving noticeable residue or cast. It performs well under makeup. But it’s worth noting that the all-chemical sunscreen actives may provoke some reaction among sensitive individuals. Avobenzone is present (here in 3%) for UVA protection along with other standard UVB chemical actives (Homesalate 15%; Octisalate 5%; Octocrylene 10%; Oxybenzone 6%). Coppertone also included minimal amounts of palmitic acid (an emollient) & some vitamin E (tocpherol). I really like this product for its reasonable price and excellent performance under makeup. I recommend it for adults and those without sensitive skin, especially those in need of a high SPF.

6. L’Oreal Silky Sheer Face Lotion Sunscreen SPF50+ Antioxidants (1.7 oz.) Not currently available from ULTA; available for $12.96 from Wal-Mart (though out of stock at time of this writing); and available for $11.99 from Amazon. This is a fragrance-free all synthetic (chemical) sunscreen which includes 3% Avobenzone for broad-spectrum protection along with Homesalate (15%); Octisalate (5%); Octocrylene (5%); and Oxybenzone (6%), all UVB protectants. The antioxidants referenced in the title are not present in large amounts. It has a thin, almost watery texture that blends in quickly, leaving no color texture behind. I find that it performs well under makeup and does not pill, crack or “bunch up” in my pores or around my eyebrows, hairline, nostrils etc. Honestly, I really like this product. I was saddened to read (among Amazon reviews) that this product may be discontinued. That would explain the difficulty I had in repurchasing a new bottle. 😟 I hate when cosmetic companies discontinue great products. If you’re able to get your hands on this stuff, it’s best for pre-makeup application, for those without sensitive skin (due to synthetic actives) or for stashing in the car to protect hands, arms, other areas you may have forgotten to cover with SPF or for additional SPF touch-ups throughout the day.

7. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen SPF70* (1.4 oz.). This very high liquid SPF is priced at $12.99 from ULTA; and is available for $10.77 from Wal-Mart; and for $11.99 from Amazon. This very thin (almost watery) liquid sunscreen uses all synthetic actives including 3% avobenzone for UVA protection as well as 10% Homesalate; 5% Octisalate; 7.5% Octocrylene; and 5% Oxybenzone (all for UVB protection). The thin, watery texture dissolves almost immediately after application with minimal rubbing required, making it ideal for pre-makeup application. And the higher SPF means if you’re the type of person who tends to under-apply your sunscreen, this may be the product for you, as long as you’re not allergic or sensitive to chemical sunscreens. There’s one catch. This product has an odd chemical smell that is quite noticeable on application and for about 5 minutes thereafter. It doesn’t bother me tremendously (I’m pretty sensitive to smells), but I am definitely aware of it until it dissipates (after about 5 minutes). Just something to keep in mind. Because of the chemical actives, I would not recommend this for young children. But for adults without sensitive skin or allergies to chemical sunscreens, this is a great option!

8. Jason Sun Kids Sunscreen SPF45 (4 oz.). Jason Sun is not currently available from ULTA. But it is currently available at Wal-Mart for $9.67, and it is available for $9.19 from Amazon. A little background, Hubs has used and enjoyed this product for several years. I’ve always commented on how much I enjoy it when he uses it because I like the smell of it. So first thing to know about this sunscreen is that it has a really obvious scent. We’re talking powerful fragrance. It’s pleasant, but it’s obviously there. So if you’re bothered by fragrance, skip this sunscreen. And I think it’s kinda weird for JÃSÖN® a company which claims to be safe and gentle, to produce such a fragranced product under the name “Kids.” But I digress. I was satisfied with Hubs’ usage of the product because it’s not an unpleasant smell (it smells a little like Hubs bathed with a bottle of old-school Panama Jack Tanning Oil), and I’m always glad when he uses sunscreen. I always considered the smell as my confirmation that Hubs was protected. So when I began researching this product for this post, I was mortified to discover that Beautypedia review indicated this product does NOT provide broad-spectrum protection. Houston, we have a huge problem (asking self why I never checked the Beautypedia review before and how I could have allowed Hubs to be walking around with sub-par sun protection for so long)! However, on closer inspection of the actual product ingredient list, I noticed that the Beautypedia review did not include all the active ingredients and specifically does not include: 3% butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, AKA avobenzone which is in fact a broad-spectrum sunscreen active.

(here's the pic)

(here’s the pic)


So, it appears to me that this product does, in fact, offer broad-spectrum sun protection. And again, I say that this broad-spectrum sunscreen bit is a tricky business. This product dissolves fairly quickly leaving minimal white cast behind. Hubs has really enjoyed wearing it and has no complaints. I have applied from my neck down and had no negative reactions or problems. However, that doesn’t make this a good option for everyone, especially children. It’s still an all-chemical sunscreen with a strong fragrance. If you’re not sensitive to chemical sunscreens or fragrance, this may be an option for you.

Here’s a few more sun protection products I really like. These products are not as widely available as those above. But they’re inexpensive and offer broad-spectrum sun protection. First let’s talk about lips. One of my worst habits (when it comes to sun protection, I have lots of other bad habits not particularly germane to this post) is neglecting my lips. I’ll admit, years, decades went by before I recognized the importance of applying sunscreen on my lips. Even when I started going regularly to the dermatologist for anti-aging treatments, using prescription-strength skincare, etc. it just never occurred to me that I needed to protect my lips. Weird right? Then one day at a family reunion, I noticed several of my older relatives had small dark greyish, almost black moles or growths on their lips I’d never previously noticed. That was enough to convince me to always apply sunscreen to my lips prior to lipstick, gloss, whatever type of color products I may use that day. Here are my current lip protection favs:

9. Almay Age Essentials Lip Treatment $12.99 at ULTA and not yet available at Wal-Mart and Amazon. It’s a clear balm includes several chemical sunscreens, including 3% avobenzone for broad-spectrum protection (N.B. it’s generally preferable to use chemical sunscreens in lip products unless you have an allergy to synthetic sunscreens). This product comes in traditional twist-up lipstick style container (similar to Maybelline’s Baby Lips) but it’s thicker than a traditional chapstick. The stick is thicker primarily because it has what Almay calls an “anti-aging” pink center core which contains primarily emollients (glycerin, fatty acids, waxes, etc.) and small amounts of antioxidants and peptides. The lovely and talented Tati reviews this product briefly here.

Be sure to check out that video for more info on this and other new drugstore products. This product goes on sheer but is pretty shiny so keep that in mind if that’s a problem for you. It may be a deal-breaker for men (some of whom will probably dislike the lipstick-like appearance of this product as well).

10. If you’re into a traditional chapstick style, check out Australian Gold’s Face Guard Stick SPF50 $7.20 at Amazon at Wal-Mart. It is not currently available at ULTA. This is a simple, straight-forward sunscreen without fragrance or frills (not additional ingredients to mention). It features the standard chemical sunscreens and 3% avobenzone as primary UVA protection and can be used on the lips, ears and small areas like tattoos, or anywhere that needs extra protection. I wouldn’t use it on a baby unless you know that baby can tolerate chemical sunscreens without reaction or allergy.

11. If you’re into more emollient, Vaseline-style lip treatments, consider Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balms SPF25. These scented/flavored lip balms are available for $7.50 from ULTA; and Amazon.com. This product includes 3% avobenzone sunscreen among other chemical actives and comes in several flavors like “grapefruit & shea butter” (ULTA sells only 3 flavors). It also has several good-for-you ingredients like Green Tea extract, Shea butter and Avocado oil. However, I’d be concerned about the amount of Mint oil it includes (it’s pretty high on the ingredient list). Though Mint oil is included in a number of lip products these days (especially those claiming to “plump” lips), it’s a potential skin irritant (Source). And, I personally prefer the chapstick-style like Almay’s product above because it’s easier to apply lipstick over it. But this product works well as a stand-alone gloss or over a lipstain.

12. And finally – Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF50* (5 oz.) is a fragrance-free lotion-style sunscreen that I’ve enjoyed for years. It’s available for $17 at Paulaschoice.com. Hint: Paula’s Choice routinely offers email exclusive sales (like the current 20% off all products anniversary sale). This particular PC sunscreen features several synthetic (chemical) sunscreens including UVA active avobenzone (3%) as well as several antioxidants (e.g., multiple forms of Vitamin E, Vitamins A and C) along with an anti-inflammatory agent and aloe. This is a wonderfully-formulated chemical-based sunscreen that absorbs quickly, leaving no white cast or residue behind. It is fragrance-free and has never caused me any tearing or allergic reaction. It does cost more than $15 without the discounts. But I’m including it in the list because you can frequently get it for $15 or so and because it has been my go-to high SPF product for at least 5 years now. I really love it! This product is also available for $17 at Dermstore.com AND you can routinely save 10% on many brands (including Paula’s Choice) by creating a free Dermstore account and a personal “favorites” list. You can occasionally find Paula’s Choice products at Amazon. And I found this product for $19.50 + $5 shipping with very limited availability here. P.S. Paula’s Choice also makes a chapstick-style lip sunscreen (billed as a men’s product) which is marvelous and fairly economical. Check that out here.

BTW, if it seems like I favor Paula’s Choice products, it’s because I do. I’ve learned so much about skincare, product ingredients and chemistry, and the way the cosmetics industry works from reading Paula Begoun’s books and articles. Her products (especially antioxidants and sunscreens) perform equal to, in many cases superior to super expensive products you’d purchase in department stores or physicians offices. I strongly recommend Beautypedia to anyone looking to improve their beauty IQ!

Summary: There are many, many reliable and well-formulated sunscreens in all price ranges, far too many to review here. When it comes to choosing a sunscreen, the most important factors to consider are, in descending order of importance: 1.) Does it provide broad-spectrum sun protection (i.e. does it contain at least 1 of the following: avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Mexoryl SX, or Tinosorb)? 2.) Will you use the product in sufficient quantities to get full benefit? 3.) Does the product contain any problematic or objectionable ingredients? and finally 4.) Does the product provide any additional benefits or ingredients like antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, etc.? I hope this post has been helpful as you prepare to shop for sunscreens this summer.

Beauty Video Resource of the Day:
You may already know how much I adore the wonderfully open and honest Angie from Hot & Flashy. She recently released her 2016 video rating best mineral sunscreens of the year, and I think it’s one of her best videos ever. This year’s video is especially awesome because Angie included a visual aid to demonstrate exactly how much sunscreen the typical person is using versus how much sunscreen manufacturers assume we’re using when they issue the SPF ratings for each product as well as the amount the FDA recommends we use for sufficient sun protection. Here’s a preview: you’re not using enough!

Wisdom for the Day:
Yours (oh God) is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
~Psalm 74:16-17 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

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Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant

Super Simple Southern Style Mixed Greens & Sausage in a Crock

Super Simple Southern Style Mixed Greens & Sausage in a Crock

A few weeks ago, I began a series of recipes based on a recent HealthGrove study identifying top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. As I’ve mentioned in each recipe I’ve shared in the series, 27 of those 30 foods are #WHOLE30-compliant foods (the 3 exceptions being non-soy legumes, e.g. green peas and pea pods). None of the 30 foods from the list are dairy or grains products. I found the study so inspiring that I challenged myself to create all new #WHOLE30-compliant recipes with each of the 27 foods from the list (again, not counting the 3 legumes); and thus, the birth of this series of recipes. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes, I’ve included links for each at the bottom of this article.

Coming in at #3 on HealthGrove’s list of best foods for beautiful skin and hair, today’s featured ingredient is – KALE!!! The curly leafy green earns an A+ nutrient rating with incredibly high levels of Vitamins A and C (almost 400% RDA and 55% RDA respectively) with only 40 calories per cooked cup. Kale has become über popular over the last 5-10 years, so I probably don’t need to tell you it’s a healthy food. There’s just a ridiculous number of (often absurdly expensive) kale “health” foods on the market these days. But properly cooked, well-seasoned greens are a southern tradition. I’ve been eating them since I was a little girl. They’re inexpensive and relatively easy to make (relative to say, making your own dehydrated kale chips with raw cashew “cheeze” sauce).

Truthfully, authentic southern style greens are usually made with fresh collards, turnip or mustard greens, not frozen kale and spinach. But frankly, I’m not about to go through the hassle of soaking and stemming fresh greens. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Frozen chopped kale is inexpensive, almost as healthy as the fresh stuff, super convenient and readily available everywhere. As you can see from the pic below, I purchased a couple 1 lb. bags at Wal-Mart (Great Value, Wal-Mart’s store brand), and each bag was less than $1.50 each. Frozen chopped collards (#4 on HealthGrove’s list BTW) are also widely available, and you could use those instead of kale if you wanna be more authentic. But because collards and turnips can be a tad bitter, I wanted to try this recipe with kale first. I DEFINITELY recommend adding spinach to the mix because spinach has the most mellow flavor of all the greens and brings its own healthful punch to the mix (it’s #8 among beautifying foods).

Super greens short cuts - frozen chopped kale and spinach

Super greens short cuts – frozen chopped kale and spinach

I should add that back in the day, my southern Grandmothers would have thrown ham hocks into the crock (instead of the organic chicken & apple sausage that I used), and they would have offset the greens’ bitterness with a quarter cup (maybe more?) of sugar. But ham hocks surely have additives not approved during #WHOLE30 (plus they’re kinda gross IMO). And sugar is most definitely off limits during #WHOLE30. So I used unsweetened (pure) apple juice as the cooking liquid and threw in some applesauce and balsamic vinegar for good measure. As the balsamic cooks down (over that last hour of cook time), it thickens and condenses, becoming sweeter and more intense in flavor. See note below regarding selection of cooking ingredients.+++

Ingredients:
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• 2-16 oz. bags frozen, chopped kale
• 1-10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
• 1 Tbsp. iodized sea salt
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
• 3-4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
• ¼ tsp. white pepper
• 1 cup pure, unsweetened apple juice (see note below)+++
• ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (organic if possible, see note below)+++
• 1 Tbsp. hot sauce (optional but highly recommended for true southern authenticity)
• 3 Tbsp. balsamic or apple cider vinegar (I used pure balsamic vinegar, see note below)+++
• 12-16 oz. package fully-cooked sausages without sugar or other unapproved additives (I used Aidell’s All Natural Chicken & Apple Sausages)
• 4 pieces fully cooked bacon, crumbled (again, choose a bacon without added sugar, sulfites or other additives not approved for consumption during #WHOLE30. Check out the #WHOLE30 list of officially #WHOLE30-approved brands and products

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s so important to check the ingredient lists of any products you plan to consume (actually it’s always important to be aware of what you’re feeding your family, right?). Many processed meat products (e.g. bacon, sausage, etc.) contain sugar, sulfite preservatives, something called carrageenan (thickening and stabilizing agent) and other additives not approved for consumption during WHOLE30 (and which aren’t healthy for us to consume anyway). Some brands of applesauce and apple juice have added sugars (the naturally occurring sugars are fine). And many juices “drinks,” especially those called “lite,” “low calorie” or “low sugar” contain artificial sweeteners to replace the natural sugars removed. Sweeteners of all kinds are off limits during #WHOLE30. Likewise, some balsamic vinegars are nothing more that colored white vinegar with corn syrup added. I know! Frustrating right? But that’s why you gotta be a label reader. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support (N.B. – the Facebook and Twitter feeds are tremendous sources of encouragement and support). Also, consider reading the book It Starts with Food prior to attempting a #WHOLE30. It’s chalked full of useful info and helpful tips to make surviving the whole 30 days a whole lot more tolerable (pun intended).

Hardware:
• Crock pot                                                                     • Cutting board
• Chef’s knife                                                                 • Kitchen sheers or scissors
• Measuring spoons                                                     • Measuring cups
• Microwave                                                                  • Large microwave-safe bowl(s)
• Crock pot liner (optional but makes cleanup a LOT easier)

Process:
1. Using scissors or kitchen knife, carefully snip small holes in tops of each bag of frozen kale and top of package of frozen spinach.
2. Place one bag of frozen kale into microwave-safe bowl, cut-side up. Microwave on HIGH for 5-6 minutes. Repeat this process for remaining bag of frozen kale and package of frozen spinach.
3. If using crockpot liner, place in pot and turn crockpot on HIGH setting for 4 hours. Add all 3 bags of greens to pot.
4. Add sea salt, EVOO, chopped garlic cloves, white pepper, apple juice, applesauce and (if using) hot sauce. Then add sausages. Stir to combine. Place lid on crockpot and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.
5. Reduce heat to LOW setting. Remove lid. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Then recover crockpot and cook on LOW setting for 1 hour.
6. After 1 hour, decrease heat to WARM. Remove sausages and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then cut into bite-size pieces. Return sausage pieces to greens and stir well. Recover the pot, and allow greens mixture to warm about 15-30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon just prior to serving. P.S. – Don’t toss the cooking liquid (known as “potlick”). My Grandma used to drink it like broth. It’s delicious!
7. NOTE: If you need to cook this recipe for longer (say 8 hours or more) you would follow this procedure: Prepare crockpot as above (with liner if using) and turn to LOW setting for 8 hours. Microwave each bag/package of frozen greens for only 2 minutes on HIGH (greens will still be mostly frozen but will be easier to pour into crock). Place all ingredients except vinegar into pot. Cover and forget it. Then about 1 hour before serving, remove crockpot lid; add vinegar and stir mixture well. Cook for 1 more hour on LOW. Remove sausages and (if desired) cut into bite-sized pieces. Then return sausages to the mix. Stir well. Reduce heat to WARM setting. Recover mixture and allow to rest about 15-30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon just prior to serving if desired.
Servings: Makes about 6 generous servings

Hubs requested his sausages remain whole. He's sooooo picky ;)

Hubs requested his sausages remain whole. He’s sooooo picky ;)

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Serving Suggestions: The primary protein in this dish is sausage (recall bacon is basically just a condiment, not a quality protein source). But sausage (even without unapproved additives) is not what the Hartwigs would call high quality protein (see It Starts with Food Chapter 5, for more detail on what constitutes a healthy and satisfying meal. Hint:an effective meal is based around a high-quality protein + good fat(s) and veggies.) So to boost the protein content of this meal I recommend adding a high-quality lean protein to whatever side dish you serve with this entrée. Example, I added hearty portions of chopped, hard-boiled eggs to the tossed green salads I served. I like mine with extra hot sauce and no bacon.

Don’t Miss the Other Recipes in This Series:
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Wisdom for the Day:
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” ~Genesis 1:29 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Save your money! Why spend the extra $$$ for high-end cosmetics when you can get a cheaper (sometimes better performing) product at the drugstore?
Check out this incredibly in-depth video from the amazing Tati as she compares her fav drugstore dupes to expensive makeup.

P.S. – I don’t usually watch 23 min. YouTube videos either but this one is SO worth it! She literally compares each product side-by-side and tells you the prices of each product and money saved; links to purchase for all products also included. This one is not to be missed!

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Living in the Mommy Moments


There’s a viral video out there about motherhood and how quickly our children grow up, and it’s taken over my Facebook feed in recent weeks. If you’re a mom reading this, I suspect someone has shared Slow Down with you along with the tagline “guaranteed to make you ugly cry.” That rather unappealing promise aside, it’s a beautiful song, and I adore Nichole Nordeman. She’s one of my all-time favorite singers, and the story behind her latest album, The Unmaking, is inspiring. Meanwhile, there’s a super popular post on Scary Mommy right now which is also popping up on my social media feeds with increasing frequency entitled Someday I’ll Wish I Could Go BackSlow Down and the Someday I’ll Wish article have touched the same nerve with mommies of the Internet world – namely that our babies’ childhoods seem to pass too quickly, like a blur; that we want to savor every moment but life and the worries of every day distract us from truly enjoying each precious moment we have with our children. And we know that someday we’ll regret it.

Given its popularity, chances are you’ve watched the Slow Down video several times by now and boohoo cried over it too. But, if you haven’t read the Someday I’ll Wish article, I encourage you to check it out now. It’s a quick but impactful read. I’ve read it like 10 times at this point and still cry every single time I read these lines: “She was longing to nurture. To pick up a crying baby and be everything that he needs. To hold that warm, soft body and feel the weight of his head resting on her chest.” What a powerful image! As I read those words, I can literally feel my daughter nestled against my chest, her warm breath against my neck and my arms wrapped around her back and bottom. That’s a rare occurrence for me now.

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My darling daughter at just one day old!

My only child is just 7 and ½ months old, but I can already attest to that all too rapid flight of time. My daughter’s first months are just a hazy memory now. Seems whenever I hold her these days, she just struggles out of my arms. I end up wrestling with her most of the time as she fights to gain ever-increasing mobility and independence. Perfectly developmentally-appropriate of course, but frustrating for me because now I really want to cuddle her close. I find myself staring longingly at pictures from her very earliest days in the hospital, when she gladly snuggled up to me and fell asleep on my chest. Pictures like this one:

I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I was too busy reeling from my emergency C-Section; too worried about my milk supply and too preoccupied with fears that I’d never lose the 50 pounds I gained during pregnancy, that I’d never feel like myself again. And now I find myself regretting the time I wasted, the moments I missed and wishing I could go back and hold my placid, tiny little newborn again; longing to recapture and savor those precious snuggly moments I failed to cherish at the time. N.B. I long to relive the cuddles and snuggles with my sweet little newborn NOT the sleepless nights, projectile poops and 3 AM battles with nipple shields. And I definitely do not miss the hours and hours I spent fellowshipping with my breast pump. But those are the things – those nagging nuisances, those pressing have-to-do tasks that go along with parenthood – those are the things that capture our attention and cause us to miss out on the sublime everyday moments with our children we might otherwise embrace. So each night when my husband and I sing our daughter to sleep my voice cracks because I know another day of her childhood has passed. I get tearful because I realize again that a little bit more of our time with her has slipped away.

I recognize that in order to truly enjoy the precious (and all-too brief) time I have with her, I need to live in the moment and stop being so distracted by all the other things that worry and distract me from what I truly value. And I am reminded of the following pre-game speech I once heard from former University of Florida (and current Oklahoma City Thunder) men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan.

He gave this speech just prior to the national championship game, which they won (Go Gators BTW). I love what he says! And it must have been effective because not only did this team win the national championship that night, they went on to win a second (e.g. back-to-back) national championship the following year. Coach Donovan challenges the players to anticipate adversity but still remain focused on the goal – to live in the moment. That same message – living in the moment despite the (very real) daily challenges that distract us from the truly important things like cherishing our children and family – is the key. As parents, we will always remember our children’s various stages fondly. But living in the moment, cherishing each moment is key to avoiding the pain of regret that comes from realizing (after the fact) you missed those precious moments because you were too worried about other, less important things. But again, the question is, how can we remind ourselves throughout the day to “live in the moment” when our minds often wander to other things?

First, understand it’s “normal” for your mind to wander. In 2015, Microsoft released a study (1) which stated, among other things that an adult’s attention span is only 8 seconds long. Basically, our minds wander every 8 seconds. Understand that some of us have an even harder time. For example, I have ADHD. And recent studies (2) have found adults with ADHD suffer from “excessive mind wandering,” (file that research finding in the ‘duh’ category). So, obviously my mind wanders more often than every 8 seconds. The point is, for all mothers, it’s hard to remain present with our children, and for some of us (i.e. me and others with ADHD), it’s REALLY hard. I often find myself feeling antsy or bored, reaching for my phone or the TV remote just while feeding my daughter. It’s tempting to multi-task, even when with our children in the name of “productivity.” But that kind of multi-tasking does not produce meaningful results, and it communicates to our children that they are less important than the phone, laptop, tablet etc. Which brings us to the next point: understand the role technology plays in distraction. That same Microsoft Study (1) found that average adult’s attention span decreased by 33% in just 13 years – decreasing from 12 to 8 seconds when measured in 2000 versus 2013, respectively. Those dates of course correspond to the boom in internet, hand-held technology and social media which now inundate us all, constantly. So it’s important to disconnect from the phone, laptop and TV as often as possible (at least a couple of times per day for at least 15-30 minutes at a time) and just be present with our children, spouse and family.

Here are 2 techniques that can help you tune into the present moment. Before trying either technique, disconnect from all electronic devices (obviously, you’ll need to read through how to practice these tricks first). Simply disconnecting from electronic devices will help tremendously with your present moment focus.

Technique #1 Balanced Breathing – think of your inhale (breathing in) as an arrow pointing upward. Now imagine your exhale as an arrow pointing down. Balanced breathing is when the “up” and “down” arrows are of equal sizes. Your inhale matches your exhale. Another way to think of it is to count silently as you breathe in (say inhale for 4 counts). Then count at the same pace as you breathe out, and match your exhale to the inhale (4 counts). When you first begin practicing Balanced Breathing, you may need to start with shorter breaths, only 3 counts in/out so you don’t get too tired or light-headed, especially if you have any breathing conditions (asthma, COPD, etc.) or allergies. You will soon be able to stretch out your breaths. But always make sure your inhales and exhales are equal or “balanced.” Practice Balanced Breathing at least 5 minutes each day. And soon you’ll be able to use this technique to focus yourself whenever you need to pay better attention. It can also help you feel more energized during the afternoon doldrums and can help you calm down after an argument with your spouse.

Technique #2 Grounding – Grounding uses your senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell) to help you return your focus to the present moment by directing your attention to your immediate surroundings. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by using your sense of touch but any of your 5 senses will work. The next time your find your mind wandering, reach out and touch your child’s foot or hand or touch the chair or sofa your sitting in. Feel the texture of the table next to you or pet your dog or cat. As your doing this, really pay attention to how it feels in your hand. Try to describe the sensation in your mind. Is it rough, smooth, furry, cold, warm or coarse? Simple touch is very effective for bringing us back into the present moment, but other sensations work too. Try pouring yourself (and your child/children if applicable) something to drink. Then slowly take a few sips, being mindful to notice how it tastes and feels in your mouth and as you swallow. Next, describe it to your child. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be simple, like “oh that is cold on my tongue and throat.” Ask your child to do the same. Try being very still and quiet for a few seconds and notice what you hear. Can you describe it? Maybe you hear the whirring sound of the refrigerator, or your dog snoring (that’s our house). Pausing for a few minutes to tap into one or more senses is a great way to bring yourself into the present moment, and it’s a useful skill to teach your children too. Try it today and practice it with your kids a few times a week. It will become second nature.

There will always be distractions. As Coach Donovan said, “there’s gonna be adversity and challenges.” We know that in advance. But as moms we know that we don’t want to miss these precious moments. I want to embrace these moments now, not later or after the fact.  I want to really live in these “Mommy Moments” each precious day.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
~Matthew 6:34 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Read more here.

Resources of the Day:
1. Check out this article entitled Rush to Press from the brilliant Functional Dad. Yes, it’s true I’m massively biased. But do remember Functional Dad is PhD with tons experience helping folks perform better and improve their daily lives by applying these very same mindfulness and balanced living skills.
2. This self-help worksheet for anxiety from the wonderful online site Anxiety BC contains more info on relaxation and grounding as well as additional links for skills such as progressive relaxation and tips on healthy living.

The Marvelous Magnificence of MUTU

My Results in Only 12 Weeks with MUTU

I’m a control freak. I admit it. Big changes and major life events tend to make me anxious. I generally try to cope by doing lots of research, making plans and taking steps to feel prepared, safe, like I have a sense of control over what’s happening. So when I got pregnant, I spent a lot of time researching various health issues that may affect pregnant women. Early in my first trimester, I stumbled upon a condition called Diastasis Recti (DR) and was fascinated. It was like I finally had an answer for why so many women in my family had what they affectionately referred to as “mummy tummys” despite being relatively thin after childbirth. My own mother always carried a bubble of bloat just below her waist despite dropping to only 97 pounds after I was born. She always said it was because she never did any ab exercises. I assumed she was correct and swore it would never happen to me.

I became obsessed with avoiding DR. When I read that doing crunches later into pregnancy could cause my abdominal muscles to separate and create the very condition I desperately wanted to avoid, I stopped crunching cold turkey. I insisted on getting out of bed sideways each and every time (even in the middle of the night). I fanatically avoided any movement that would strain my abdominals. I used supportive belly bands while exercising. I counted calories throughout my pregnancy so as not to gain too much weight (because I’d read that contributed to post-pregnancy belly bulge). I drank at least a gallon of pure, filtered water every day and gave up anything that might lead to bloat like dairy or diet sodas. I took tons of supplements. By my third trimester, I had a daily workout routine of at least 300 squats (guaranteed to make labor a breeze according to multiple websites) and walking at least 5 miles. I scoured the internet for “the best” postpartum compression girdle and had that bad boy delivered and packed in my hospital bag weeks before my due date. Yep, I had it all under control…that is until I went into labor.

When the Labor & Delivery began monitoring our daughter, they estimated her size as between 8.5 and 10 pounds. I knew at that point that I was not going to have the easy breezy labor I’d planned for (I’m a small person with narrow hips not designed to push out a large baby). I’ll spare you the details of my labor. In summary I was in labor for about 20 hours after my water broke. I pushed for about 2 hours. And though I dilated fully, my daughter just never “arrived.” Her head was stuck, and I needed an emergency C-Section. There were several moments during that 20 hours where I remember saying to the doctor, “just go get her (e.g. do the C Section now)” because I was concerned about my daughter’s safety and all my planning and vanity ceased to matter. When they wheeled me in for the surgery, I remember thinking, “I’m so glad we are doing this!” Ironically, when the doctor cut me open he also pulled my abdominal muscles apart just like you’d pull open a pair of curtains. He did exactly what I’d tried to avoid all those months, and I ended up with a great big split in my abdominals. And I’m happy he did it because I have a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Of course, I was left with not only bulging abdominals but a big surgical incision so I wasn’t even able to use the expensive compression girdles I’d purchased. Isn’t it funny how we think we are planning our steps, but God determines the ways we truly will go (Proverbs 16:9)?

Anyway, after about 2 months of recovery from major surgery and the even bigger life adjustment of having a newborn, I got the go-ahead from my doc to begin some physical activity. So I began searching for a program to rehab from DR and a C Section, and I found several articles recommending the MUTU system. After more research, I decided MUTU would be the best program for me, and Hubs generously offered to purchase for me as a Christmas gift. I started the program at 3 months postpartum and have posted my BEFORE and AFTER pics below. The results are really incredible. I am sharing my story because DR affects more that 65% of all mamas, and it is incredibly frustrating and may include some very problematic other symptoms. But recovery is possible even if your children are 5, 10 even 15 years old. Also, I think it’s important for us all to remember that as humans we can only control so much in life but there is comfort and peace in knowing the God who is in control of everything and in trusting that He has a good and perfect plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

I hope my story and pictures provide you with encouragement. I have also included the direct link to the MUTU online store below a couple more of my before & after pictures so you can directly access this awesome resource, my fellow Pretty Mommies. I pray for peace, health and joy for each of you all!

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Thought for the Day:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. 
~James 4:13-16 (NLT)
Read more here.

Resource of the Day:

KG’s Healthier Coconut Macaroons

Delicate Pink Coconut Macaroons - The Perfect Afternoon Delight!

Delicate Pink Coconut Macaroons – The Perfect Afternoon Delight!

Hubs and I were born and raised in Florida – home to crazy alligators, blood-thirsty mosquitoes, and almost unbearable humidity. Of course, Florida does have a few things going for it (beautiful beaches, rivers and fresh-water springs; world-renown theme parks and attractions; and the best university in the USA – the University of FloridaGo Gators!).

Florida is also home to Publix Grocery Stores. Publix is so wonderful the chain had expanded to other nearby southern states including a few (but not nearly enough) stores in North Carolina where we live now. Growing up, I took Publix for granted. I figured all grocery stores were the same. Now I realize that Publix is unique among grocery chains. And I miss Publix’s wide selection, excellent generics, polite employees, and (I really miss) their phenomenal baked goods.
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Hubs and I have chosen an appropriately Florida-centric colors+theme for our daughter’s first birthday party – pink and green alligators in the Swamp. Planning her party has me feeling especially nostalgic about the Publix bakery. I wish we could just walk in and grab one of their amazing birthday cakes (oh my goodness their buttercream frosting is everything!).  As it stands, I’ll be baking her cake and the party cupcakes myself (I love to bake but it will be more stressful due to family we’ll be entertaining that week and given the other menu items I’ll also have to prepare). I also regret that I can no longer just run down to nearest local grocer and grab a couple dozen amazing Publix fresh-baked cookies for her party. My favorite Publix baked goods are their cookies, especially their coconut macaroons. These cookies are like  a decadent slice of Florida in a super-sweet, extremely moist and huge cookie. Crispy underneath and chewy in the center, packed with intensely satisfying coconut-ty flavor and a kiss of almond, Publix macaroons may, in fact, be my favorite cookie of all time.

A Plate Full of Delicious (If not Very Healthful) Publix Macaroons

A Plate Full of Delicious (If not Very Healthful) Publix Macaroons

I’ve eaten many (many) Publix macaroons over the years. But I haven’t enjoyed one for several years now. Not only because their are so few Publix stores in our area, but because I’m keenly aware that those cookies are on the unhealthier side – full of refined sugars (and possibly even sweetened condensed milk). According to the nutritional and allergen info provided by Publix (here), their macaroons contain a whole laundry list of allergens – dairy, soy, wheat/gluten and tree nuts (as well as egg whites which along with coconut is the foundation of any macaroon recipe).

My recipe also contains egg whites but none of the other unpleasant, allergenic stuff. They’re whipped up pretty quickly. And this recipe makes a lot, nearly twice as many macaroons as most of the recipes I found online (most recipes you’ll find make about 18 cookies) so I was able to make half plain and half with Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips. Most importantly, everyone in our house loves them! My chocoholic mother even said she prefers the macaroons without chocolate chips. I like them both ways and predict your family will as well.

I had 2 brands of unsweetened shredded coconut, so I used both.

INGREDIENTS:
• 4 Cups shredded unsweetened coconut
• 1 cup coconut sugar
• 1/4 cup local honey (preferably raw) or additional ½ cup coconut sugar
• ¼ tsp. Pure Stevia Extract (optional)
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
• 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. cream of tarter
• 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• ½ tsp. almond extract (scant, this is strong stuff, so don’t overdo it)
• 1 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate mini chips (optional but yummy)

HARDWARE:
• Small and large mixing bowls
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Hand mixer or stand-up mixer
• 2 Large baking sheets
• Parchment paper or 2 sil-pat sheets
• Silicone spatula or “spoonula”
• 1 oz. Cookie scoop

Pretty in Pink Macaroons A Test Run Before the Big Party

Pretty in Pink Macaroons
A Test Run Before the Big Party

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit (149° Celsius), and cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Then set prepped pans aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut, baking soda, tapioca starch, Stevia (if using) and sugar.
3. Put egg whites and salt into a separate very clean non-reactive bowl (ceramic works well). Be sure to save those healthful yolks for later use.
4. Using a hand mixer or stand-up mixer. Beat egg whites on HIGH setting until foamy. Then add vanilla and almond extracts.
5. Continue beating egg whites on HIGH until they reach soft peaks. Then add food coloring if desired. Beat on HIGH for another minute or 2 longer until egg whites reach firm peaks stage.
6. Using silicone spatula, carefully fold egg whites into coconut mixture. Take your time and fold in slowly (you want to avoid deflating the egg whites).
7. If using chocolate chips, add now using same silicone spatula. Gently stir until well combined.
8. Using a 1 oz. cookie scoop, scoop batter onto prepared cookie sheets about 1” apart.
9. Bake for 25-30 min in preheated (300° F, 149° C) oven.
10. Allow cookies to cool about 10-15 minutes before removing from baking sheets. And allow to (if you’re self-restraint allows).
~Makes about 32 macaroons
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NOTES: I like to store baked and cooled macaroons in the refrigerator in a Tupperware or other airtight container. They’ll keep that way for about a week, but I anticipate that they’ll be eaten long before the week is up! And, stay tuned for more posts related to our party prep as we get closer to her birthday in October.

Wisdom for the Day:
Go back to your homes, and prepare a feast. Bring out the best food and drink you have, and welcome all to your table, especially those who have nothing. This day is special. It is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve over your past mistakes. Let the Eternal’s own joy be your protection! ~Nehemiah 8:10 (The Voice)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
These days, I am all about anti-aging. Sadly, I had some very aging-advancing habits in my younger, more foolish days including (but not limited to): years of visiting tanning salons, spending hours baking in the bright Florida sun and (worst of all) smoking. Now that I’m 40, those bad behaviors are catching up to me and seem to show on my skin. The following video from very beautiful Angie of Hot & Flashy describes her top 5 recommended habits for anti-aging along with product suggestions to help you easily make those tricky-to-adopt lifestyle changes. Angie is a role model for aging beautifully. Enjoy!

LORAC Lovin’

Which Mini Palette Is "Right" for You?

Which Mini Palette Is “Right” for You?

I’ve resisted joining the whole eyeshadow palette craze. Sure I’ve been tempted by the latest, most buzzed about launches (my obsession with YouTube beauty vloggers doesn’t help with the temptation). More than once I’ve found myself drawn like a moth to the flame of the glitzy displays for the newest Urban Decay, Tarte or Anastasia palettes. I can’t seem to resist sticking my fingers into those glistening powders and swatching them on my hand or wrist (side note – that can’t be very hygienic for folks who actually test those display shadows on their eyes. I’m sure I’m not the only one sticking my fingers in those things!).

Anyway, a few years ago I tried dipping my toes into the palette waters when I blind-purchased the first Naked Basics palette, basically an all-matte baby version (containing 6 shades vs. the 12 shadows in Urban Decay’s original Naked). After all the buzz surrounding UD’s Nakeds, I was really eager to try out the formula, but I was – quite frankly – disappointed. Based on Sephora’s reviews this product (which convinced me to buy Basics in the first place), it appears I’m the only person who doesn’t love this little guy. I was super excited when I received my Basics palette, expecting to fall in love. I tried to love it. I honestly did. I applied the shadows over a varied assortment of different shadow primers and with the best brushes I could afford. At one point of desperation, I tried applying the shadows with my fingers, thinking that was perhaps the key to achieving better color payoff and blending. It wasn’t. Regardless of application method and the primer underneath, I still have trouble building up any noticeable color with the Basics shadows. On my skin, the colors are beyond “naked.” They’re more like invisible. So, my Naked Basics experience left me a bit palette-shy and unwilling to drop even more money. Plus, the idea of spending upwards of $50 for eyeshadow just seems ridiculous to me, especially if there’s a chance I won’t like it. All that to say I haven’t purchased any shadow palettes….until recently.

A few days ago, I was minding my own business, leisurely wandering through my local ULTA when I stumbled upon a great big shiny display of LORAC Pro palettes (BTW did you know LORAC = Carol spelled backwards, named for the brand’s founder, Carol Shaw). There they were – 3 different curated sets of mostly neutral shadows all lined up, just begging to be swatched (like in this pretty pic from mary82martin on ULTA’s page for this product:

LORAC Pro Palettes 1-3 As pictured by mary82martin

LORAC Pro Palettes 1-3
As pictured by mary82martin

They’re beautiful aren’t they? The display beckoned to me, and I figured no harm in playing around with the shadows. After all, some earnest ULTA staffer had taken the time to set up this appealing display. The least I could do is check it out, right? Holy mackerel! I was blown away. The color payoff was amazing, especially for the metallic shades. The shimmery shades felt incredibly creamy to the touch and left a nearly opaque swatch with just one swipe. Because we’re currently saving up for Baby Girl’s first birthday party, I fought the urge to grab one of the LORAC palettes and tossing that bad boy into my giant ULTA bag (also TBH I couldn’t decide which iteration of Pro Palette I preferred, so that sort of discouraged me from purchasing one as well).

After several minutes spent playing with the beautiful shadows, I finally tore myself away and continued my stroll through the designer makeup section. Just a few minutes later I (somehow) found myself facing the main LORAC section and discovered this little beauty:

LORAC Pocket Pro

LORAC Pocket Pro

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These shadows are VERY pigmented, so I buffed and blended out the final look to make it more daytime-appropriate.

“It’s so cute,” I exclaimed as I immediately began sticking my fingers into the 3 buttery soft, glistening powders. Just as soft and pigmented as the full-sized palette and only $18! I thought. “I HAVE to get this,” I explained to my husband (who was, to his chagrin accompanying on this ULTA safari). He nodded, recognizing it was futile to argue. I think he was just relieved that I didn’t try to justify spending the $44 for one of the full-sized Pro palettes. The next morning I awoke excited to try out my new shadows. I was then and am still very pleased with my $18 purchase. I definitely got my money’s worth. I easily achieved a nice daytime look with these 3 nicely-sized pans of taupe shades, and I snapped this pic of my eyes a few hours after application.

Each of these 3 shadows in LORAC’s Pro Basics have varying levels of shimmer, but they’re creamy, not glittery or chunky. I was pleased that the shimmer is easily muted and appropriate for daytime wear. And the pigmentation is outstanding! A note about my application “technique” – I freely admit that I’m no makeup artist. I’m still trying to learn the right shadow application technique. Don’t come to me looking for a tutorial on a 5-minute cut crease application. I’ll point you in the direction of some actual makeup artists. God knows there’s a ton of ’em on YouTube these days! I’m just a regular makeup geek searching for the best colors and formulations for my skin tone/type and the most flattering products for my facial features. I imagine I’m not the only woman who loves  makeup despite lacking a professional makeup artist’s skill set. So when I find an easy-to-use makeup product that allows me (and my novice-level skills) to achieve an attractive finished look, I feel it’s my duty to share with others.

So, if you haven’t tried LORAC’s shadow palettes, you’re in the market for an everyday, high-quality shadow palette or are in the market for something new but you can’t afford the standard $45+ per price tag, I encourage you to give these Pocket Pros a whirl. Two color/shade options are available. The one I have is cooler, more taupe-colored with nearly purple undertones. The Pocket Pro 2 is warmer with golden and red undertones. So, there’s a color option for all skin tones. They’re both highly pigments with varying amounts of shimmer. I think you’ll be pleased on the return for your $18 investment.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Do you love Naked Basics and completely disagree with my review? Hey that’s cool. Lots of people love it, including the adorable and fabulously authentic Serein Wu of Dress Yourself Happy. In the following video she provides individual reviews and recommendations for each of UD’s now 6 Nakeds palettes. If you are or have considered purchasing one of these phenomenally successful palettes but are unsure about which one to get (or which one to buy next – no judgement) please watch this video. Her recommendations are super helpful and could save you some money. She could have saved me some money if I’d watched this before purchasing the Basics palette, I’d have saved my money for a full-sized Naked Smokey palette. Oh well. Live and learn, and buy more makeup!

Wisdom for the Day:
“Without advice plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” ~Proverbs 15:22 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and I do not receive monetary compensation for any of my product reviews. All reviews are based on my own opinion, personal use and results.

#Paleo Perfect Chocolate Chip Nut Butter Bars

Mmmmm. Cookies!

Mmmmm. Cookies!

For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself really craving sweets – specifically chocolate chip cookies. I believe (that is, I’m telling myself) it’s because I’m burning more calories. I spend several hours each day chasing our daughter through the house. And lemme tell you, crawling around after her is the ultimate functional workout! Here she is causing havoc on the dog’s bed.

SMH! How can you scold that little face?

SMH! How can you scold that little face?

But I digress, the point is I’ve been craving chocolate chip cookies. Since we’re not actively doing #WHOLE30, cookies are (currently) an acceptable indulgence. But not wanting to throw away all the progress we’ve made since transitioning to a more #WHOLE30 Lifestyle, I set out to create a #paleo-correct version without grains or dairy.

I’ve successfully made grain-free gluten-free cookies before and found that unsweetened applesauce was a great addition to the recipe, providing moistness without extra fat or sugars. So, I had it in my mind to use applesauce in this recipe if possible. But I’ve never made cookies with nut flour or tapioca starch (which are considered #paleo-correct baking options). I worried these tricky ingredients may result in a tougher or overly dense cookie, so I consulted the all-knowing Internet for guidance. As I researched paleo-correct chocolate chip cookies, I encountered several chocolate chip + pumpkin recipes, so I figured I might substitute applesauce for the pumpkin. But I found that the pumpkin versions looked pretty yummy too!
IMG_4218So I tried this recipe both ways. I admit that I prefer the applesauce version. But if you’re into pumpkin + chocolate chips, go for it! If you do go with pumpkin, make sure you’re not accidentally purchase (or use) canned pumpkin pie mix which has additional (not very healthy) ingredients. You want pure pumpkin. And you may want to add some pumpkin pie spice (say 1/4 tsp.) to the dry ingredients before you sift, just to really enhance that warm pumpkin-y flavor. With either version, you may also consider adding 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts along with the chocolate chips for a truly decadent (and I might add, deeply satisfying) chocolate chip cookie experience.

The recipe below produced the best cookie I’ve had in years. Hubs even said these were as good as and nearly identical in texture to “The Chewy” from Alton Brown of Good Eats fame. High praise from Hubs since Chewies are his all-time fav cookies! I hope you and your family enjoy these little treats as much as we are enjoying them.
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Ingredients:
• ½ cup paleo-correct almond butter I like this one from Maranatha brand)
• 1/3 cup organic no-sugar-added applesauce or canned pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
• 1 cup coconut sugar
• 1/4 tsp. pure stevia extract, e.g. this one from Sweetleaf
• 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 3/4 cup almond or coconut flour (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour)
• 1/4 cup tapioca flour/starch
• 1 tsp. baking soda (not baking powder)
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• 1 – 1.5 cups dairy-free chocolate chips (I like these Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Mini Morsels)

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Large + small mixing bowls
• Sifter
• 13 X 9″ baking pan
• Nonstick spray or coconut oil (if using aluminum foil to line baking pan)
• Aluminum foil or parchment paper
• Electric hand or stand-up mixer
• Silicone spatula

Process:
1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (177° Celsius). Line a 13″ X 9″ baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If you use aluminum foil, spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick spray or wipe it down with coconut oil to prevent cookies from sticking.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well (mixture will still be lumpy). I use a fork for this initial combining.
3. Then using an electric hand or stand-up mixer, beat wet mixture on MEDIUM setting for a couple minutes to thoroughly combine and produce a smooth batter without lumps. Set mixture aside.
4. In a separate smaller mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients (protein powder, almond flour, sugar, baking soda and salt). This step can be completed quickly by using food processor to sift. It’s quicker and less messy than traditional sifters. Plus, Alton Brown recommends it as seen in this discussion here.
3. Add sifted dry ingredients to wet mixture in 2 separate additions, again using electric hand mixer or stand-up mixer on MEDIUM setting to blend mixtures together. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl with spatula after each addition.
4. When batter is smooth with no visible lumps, stir in chocolate chips by hand.
5. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and using the same spatula, spread mixture evenly in the pan.
6. Bake cookie bars in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cookies comes out clean. In my oven, the cookies required 19 minutes bake time. But times will vary based on your oven.

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For best results allow cookies to cool at least 30 minutes in the pan before cutting or removing. Enjoy with a cold glass of almond milk.

Wisdom for the Day:
On this mountain the Lord of Armies will prepare for all people a feast with the best foods, a banquet with aged wines, with the best foods and the finest wines.
~Isaiah 25:6 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

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