A Few Of My Favorite Things #1

I order from Vitacost at least every other month to ensure we are well-stocked on products we love. I’ve made quite a few purchases there recently, and thanks to $40 in coupon codes, I couldn’t pass up getting some of our favorite goodies. Below are five items that my husband and I simply cannot live without:

  1. The perfect base to a delicious smoothie. friday fave 1I still very much love the Garden of Life Raw Meal protein powder, but this whole meal shake is the bomb dot com. We mix it with some unsweetened chocolate almond milk, hemp and chia seeds, PB Fit powder, a banana or two, and a handful of greens for a morning meal that really does hold us over for a few hours. The ingredients are so simple, and yet the taste makes you wonder what it is in it that makes you want more.
  2. A healthier Oreo. friday fave 1 I know I know. Why buy a fake Oreo when the real ones are so good? Don’t get me wrong; Oreos are delicious, but I also know how terrible they are for my body. Palm oil, enriched flour, and high fructose corn syrup are not things I need to ingest when I want a treat. These Newman’s Own cookies have replaced Oreos in this household, and the best part is my husband actually prefers them! #wifewin
  3. The perfect dry shampoo. friday fave 1Truthfully, I have lost count of all the dry shampoos I have tried. Batiste, Psst, and Not Your Mother’s are just a few, but I have also tried plain cornstarch and baby powder as well. Nothing works as well as this one by Acure Organics. My hair is chemically treated, blonde, fine, and oily all at the same time, which makes finding products that work a challenge. I bought this on a whim a few months ago and love it. It actually gives my hair a bit of volume, and although it falls flat by lunch, I’ll take a few hours of successful second day hair than none at all. Depending on your hair type, you will either love this product or hate it, but for my thin hair, it works better than all the others I have tried.
  4. A clarifying shampoo that works in hard water. friday fave 1My husband and I moved to West Virginia three years ago, and my hair has never fully adjusted to the horrible hard water we have in our area. I have invested in expensive Malibu clarifying shampoo, a chlorine removing one by Paul Mitchell, and tried simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but nothing worked. In fact, the Malibu shampoo destroyed my hair to the point I went through two deep conditioners before it felt like hair again. This one by Avalon Organics cleans my hair without stripping it of its natural oils, and if I follow up with a deep conditioner, it actually looks good air dried. When that happens, a product is automatically a win-win in my book.
  5. A perfect price point body lotion. friday fave 1When it comes to body lotion, I don’t want anything sticky, heavy, or too fragrant, yet it has to work. I have went through three bottles of this lotion and will continually repurchase it. Not only does 32 ounces last six months easily, but the hydration lasts all day. The ingredients are trustworthy too, which makes me feel more confident in the product since the skin, the largest organ in the body, is what’s absorbing it.

There you have it: Five products my husband and I cannot live without. What are some of your favorites?

*Vitacost referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

 

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Seventh Generation Follow-Up

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on Seventh Generation’s Dishwashing Tablets I received from Generation Good in exchange for a review. Well, I have been testing them for a month or so and can say with 100% certainty they are just as a good as the dishwashing powder I had previously used. We have extremely hard water at our house, and it’s difficult to find products without chemicals that don’t leave streaks on our dishes. I will say it’s more cost effective to either A) make your own dishwashing detergent or B) purchase the powder version that gives you 70+ loads instead of only 20 for $6-$8 a bag, but if you prefer convenience, these are great. This link provides you with all the information you need to know. If you have tried any other cruelty free and chemical free household products, please let me know!

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Generation Good

Last year, I discovered Generation Good from a pamphlet sent in the mail. I usually shred anything that resembles junk, but I saw that you can receive products in exchange for reviews and I immediately went to Google it. Sure enough. You can take surveys and leave reviews in exchange for Seventh Generation items, which is awesome because 1) who doesn’t love free stuff? and 2) that is a brand I trust and use anyway. Med school families could always free things 😉 The brand is cruelty free, which automatically makes them a winner in my book, and are free of any of the toxic chemicals found in traditional household cleaners. If you are not into or don’t have the time to make your own, their laundry detergent and dishwashing powder are awesome replacements for conventional brands at the drugstore.

In exchange for a review, I received 20 dishwashing tablets to try and put to the test. I swear by their dishwashing powder, so I have high hopes these will work just as well. I will test them out over the next few weeks and give feedback. If you are interested in becoming a member of Generation Good, try it out here.

*This item was sent to me for free in exchange for a review. I receive no compensation for this product and am not affiliated with the link posted above.

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Love Grown

I am not a big cereal eater, but my husband certainly is. Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios…he loves (almost) all of them. Did you know that so many of the cereals found in the supermarket contain ingredients that are toxins to our body? A common one is sugar. Look at any ingredient list or nutrition facts and you will be astounded at how many grams are in each serving. Way too many. Another common additive is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), an ingredient that contains mercury and is known to lead to obesity and diabetes. BHA/BHT (preservatives), artificial coloring, and hydrogenated oils are three other common additives in cereal, but one would not know it without thoroughly examining an ingredient list. It’s common for the words “WHOLE GRAIN” to lead a consumer to think the product must be healthy when in reality, the cereal can be just as toxic as those not labeled whole grain.

I don’t mind my husband’s love of cereal, but I have never been okay with him eating food for breakfast that only spikes his blood sugar and makes him hungry again in two hours. While at Kroger last week, I found a cereal called Chocolate Power O’s and figured it couldn’t hurt to try it. Guess what? Matt loves it! It has the sweet chocolate taste he craves in a cereal, but what it doesn’t have is even better. No preservatives, no gluten, no chemicals, non GMO, and fills him up longer than your average cereal. Would you believe beans can taste so good?

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Even though I don’t eat much cereal, I catch myself eating a bowl for breakfast too!

Navy, lentil, and garbanzo beans -all beans high in protein- are the superfoods behind this delicious cereal. It only has 9 grams of sugar per serving, which is much better than the 15+ in an average children’s cereal. Below is the ingredient list:

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All things that a consumer can pronounce combined with the great taste of chocolate makes this product a win-win. Try it and let me know what you think!

Vitacost Haul

I believe I’ve only mentioned this site once on here, which is certainly not the same amount of times I have placed a Vitacost order within the last few months. With the exception of Thred Up, Vitacost may be my favorite online store. #healthynerdstatus101

For those who may not be familiar with Vitacost, imagine Whole Foods or your local health food store online, at your fingertips, and delivered to your doorstep. Plus, prices are (usually) cheaper than health food stores, which is necessary for the wallet of a medical school family. On occasion, some of the products can be found at TJ-Maxx and Marshalls, but generally speaking, Vitacost is more affordable. Paleo, gluten free, or simply trying to save money: This site is for you. I place an order every few months to restock our shelves with common toiletries and staple food items that are always in our house. Plus, it’s always fun to pick up a few new things every now and then!

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Needed a new pill holder to store my vitamins each day. Figured one that can hold 20 pills will do the trick!

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Forget the Clarisonic. I swear by konjac sponges and their benefits for the skin. Plus, they’re biodegradable when thrown away!

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Staple item in our house and a favorite in smoothies.

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This serum caught my eye, so I figured I’d give it a try. Also needed a new body wash and this one got great reviews.

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Haven’t tried it yet, but I needed a new nail polish remover and wanted one that wasn’t toxic. It’s worth a shot!

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Absolutely love trying different body scrubs, and this brand is no exception.

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My husband’s favorite shampoo/conditioner and body wash combination. It’s difficult to find something that works well in our hard water, and these do an excellent job. We bought three bottles of each because I may or may not consider the shampoo/conditioner a favorite as well 😉 

If you are interested in trying Vitacost, feel free to use this referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW   I do get $10 towards my next purchase, but you do as well. This is simply a referral, not affiliate, link.

If you try Vitacost, let me know what you think. The return policy is ridiculously simple and can be done with a few clicks of the mouse. I have been shopping from this site since graduate school and have no plans on stopping anytime soon!

Sun Protection in Skincare Products: A More Natural Alternative

This is a follow-up post to my previous skincare one on Meadow Muffin Gardens products, a fantastic line of consciously made, natural, and independently owned body products, and I feel it’s an important topic to briefly discuss: Sun protection. We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the rays of the sun in order prevent melanoma and damage to our body’s largest organ. However, did you know there are two types of rays? UVA and UVB, which both are ultraviolet radiation rays from the sun. UVA rays, although less intense, are actually more potent and damaging to the skin when absorbed over long periods of time. These rays are present all year round and are the ones that can come through glass and clouds. They penetrate the deeper layers of the skin for longer lasting and damaging effects, such as faster aging and wrinkles.  UVA rays are also distributed from the lights in tanning beds, so be wary of going in those often. On the other hand, UVB rays primarily affect the top layer of the skin, the epidermis, which is where sunburn is obvious. These particular rays vary from time of day and season, as well as location. Do you remember as kid being told to stay indoors from 10-2 when the sun is the most visible? There’s truth in that statement. That is when UVB rays are most visible, even though UVA rays are present at all time.

What I wrote here barely skims the surface of the sun and the intensity and differences between UVA and UVB rays; I do not want to claim to be an expert when in reality, I only know very little and will continue to do research as time goes on. One thing I do know, however, is that sun protection is extremely important and should be incorporated into our daily routine. Ever notice you may be getting more freckles on your left arm and left side of your face? I sure am! That’s because our left side gets more exposure to the sun when we drive and needs greater protection from the rays coming through the windows. If you want protection without piling on sunscreen on top of your already made up face, then consider purchasing a product with sun protection in it. This blog post by Meadow Muffin Gardens describes in detail some of the products that can be used daily and provide natural SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Check them out!

*For more information about ways to protect your skin, check out skincancer.org. If you want specific details on UVA and UVB rays, check out this page.

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Meadow Muffin Gardens Skincare

When it comes to our skincare, most of us think about the pharmacy brands we see advertised most often on television. You know. Those cheap brands sold on pharmacy shelves making claims to firm your skin, reduce wrinkles, and provide a deep clean like no other. What those brands are not telling you, however, is that you’re likely using a product tested on animals and filled with chemicals that cause hormone disruption. Do I have your attention yet? I sure hope so.

Let me start with some basic information about animal testing and skincare/beauty products. It is a widely common practice done by a large number of brands, and you’ll be shocked when you learn just how many practice this horrific act of torture. If you purchase Aveeno, you’re supporting Johnson & Johnson, a company largely known for its animal testing practices. Dove is owned by Unilever, another brand that tests on animals. Olay products are owned by Proctor & Gamble, another popular company sold at drugstores. Think animal testing is only limited to drugstores? Think again. Estee Lauder, Clinique, SK II, Bobbi Brown, Algenist, Avon, Axe, Bioderma, Biore, and the famous Bath and Body Works all test on animals, and those are just a few! Imagine having a product poured into your eyes to test its effectiveness. Your hair is singed off by an imbalance of a product. You’re tortured, tormented, and eventually put to sleep once you’re no longer of use. Imagine you’ve just been a victim of animal testing, a cruel practice that truly doesn’t need to be done to ensure a product is safe. This link by Lush is a visual portrayal of what animal testing would look like on a human, and it’s quite disturbing. If you want a comprehensive list of brands to use and brands to avoid, I encourage you to check out this blog by Logical Harmony, a vegan blogger and YouTuber with a passion for animals and a cruelty free lifestyle. Her site is one of, if not the best, for up-to-date information on products and brands.

If you ever look at an ingredient list on a product, you should be able to identify each and every product. If you can’t, don’t buy it. I learned a great deal from a book called “No More Dirty Looks” and was astounded at the chemicals I was putting on my face and body every day. Sulfates (surfactants, detergents, and emulsifiers in beauty products), parabens (preservatives), and fragrance (any combination of chemicals to provide a particular scent) are likely in your beauty products and are very capable of disrupting your body’s natural balance. Did you know there are no federal regulations on beauty products? Anything can be labeled “natural” and get away with it? That’s why it is so important to read labels and know what you’re putting on your body. Manufacturers, by law, do not even have to release what chemicals have been used to make the rose, orange, or woodsy scent you love so much. There are so many things I could say, but I’ve already written enough about something that wasn’t the point of this post. I will put some links below where you can learn more information.

I want to tell you about Meadow Muffin Gardens, a small Pennsylvania business created by my mother about seven years ago. She was diagnosed with Lupus at age 21 and has worked on finding natural beauty solutions ever since. Out of that search came Meadow Muffin Gardens, a product line encompassing nature, essential oils, and a love of beauty within. I am biased because she’s my mother, but I can truly say she makes incredible products right in our kitchen at home. She has links on Facebook, Etsy, Zibbet, and Shopify, all under the name Meadow Muffin Gardens, as well as Pinterest and Instagram pages where you can follow her. Her username is chezstace on Instagram, and if you want to see photos of cute doggies, silly kitties, and some of her products, go check it out. She also has a blog (meadowmuffingardens.blogpost.com) where she blogs a few times a week about everything ranging from her garden to health to her family. She’s a lovely writer, for sure. Her products are all natural, free of animal testing, and consist of ingredients that are wholesome and good for your skin. I will put photos of a few of my favorite products below.

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I have been using this face wash since I was in high school. It’s gentle enough for daily use and doesn’t strip the skin of its natural moisture.

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My favorite toner of all time.

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A beautiful night lotion that provides long-term moisture and smells divine.

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The perfect face mask for those days you need a treatment, but don’t want to do a full clay mask that can be too drying on your skin.

I do use other brands on my face and body, but these four staples are always in my rotation. I swear by them for helping me continue to look young (being only 5’1″ helps too ;)). Plus, isn’t my mother beautiful? Go check out her wonderful business today! 🙂

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Resources:

http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors

http://slsfree.net

http://www.ewg.org