The Great Organic Debate

If you know me, you know what a total nerd I am. To further prove this, I will admit that I’ve been on a huge documentary kick lately. If you were to come into my apartment when I’m sitting on the couch doing some serious cross-stitching (nerdy enough for you yet?), chances are, you’d also catch me intently watching a documentary.

About 2 weeks ago, I watched a particularly fascinating documentary called “Food, Inc.” If you’re anything like me, you watch something and think, “Hmm. Interesting.” and then move on to the next documentary. This is definitely NOT the case with Food, Inc.

This is about to get really real.

Food Inc Documentary Netflix

Y’all. I have been marinating on this documentary since watching it. I can’t stop thinking about it. No joke. It has legitimately caused me to change my entire way of thinking about the food we eat.

While it does touch on cruelty to animals in the corporate farming industry, it mostly focuses on the corrupt practices of this industry. Basically – nothing too gory that will make you cringe, but things that will make you sad and make you want to change how you eat. It’s amazing to me that the FDA was put in place to protect us and has evolved into a money-making entity that basically dictates how and what we eat. It’s horrible.

To give you an example: Tyson chicken.

Chickens used to be given free range of fields and given a coop. The coop was somewhere they could find shelter from cold and somewhere safe and warm to lay eggs. They weren’t confined to this space.

Enter Tyson. They came in and were all like, “Hey, chicken farmers! We’re going to make you a Tyson chicken farm now. You basically have no say in this because if you don’t do this, you won’t make any money and you’ll lose your farm. So you have to do everything we say.”

Now, chickens are (literally) thrown into a coop that is so overcrowded that the chickens cannot move about. They get no natural sunlight. They are fed steroids and antibiotics. The steroids cause the chickens to grow much larger in a much shorter amount of time, which provides more chicken to the consumer and helps Tyson make more money.

Here’s the problem. The size of chickens has QUADRUPLED in the last 60 years. No joke. American consumers prefer white meat, so the breasts of the chickens are enlarged. Their organs cannot keep up with this growth rate and most chickens are only able to take a few steps before falling down due to the weight in their chest.

size of chickens over the years
In turn, we are consuming the steroids in the chicken we buy from corporations like Tyson. We get all the awful side effects that steroids and antibiotics bring – and we’re doing this by choice.

I won’t even get into how Tyson treats the chicken farmers. Watch the documentary. See for yourself.

Monsanto.

That name makes me simultaneously cringe and get hot with anger. I won’t go into depth on farmers and Monsanto because at this point, I feel like I could quite literally write a book. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Again – watch the documentary. It is ridiculously eye-opening.

Summary: buy from local farmers, y’all. It’s their livelihood. Don’t let bullies like Monsanto dictate what you eat and who you buy it from.

Okay, so the good news.

YOU CAN CHANGE THIS. Seriously! Vote with your dollars. That’s what Andrew and I have started doing.

There are SO MANY options available to help support local agriculture! Here are a few of my favorites:

1. CSA

I order a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box each week (I get the small size for 2 of us) and I get to pick what organic, farmer-grown fruits and vegetables I want! It’s a great value and I also know that I’m helping support farmers. Some of the produce may not be local (last week, I got apples from Washington and oranges from Florida), but I do know that they are still coming from ethical farmers who are trying to earn a living selling fresh, organic produce.

I order the CSA box through Nature’s Garden Express. If you sign up using promo code 4762a, you can get $10 off your first box!

You get the option to have this delivered to your home or you can choose to have it delivered to your local co-op. I pick my box up from the Suwanee Whole Life Co-Op. I get a discounted rate on my CSA box by doing this and I’m also helping the co-op. Plus, I get the option to order items from local farmers to pick up with my box – items like raw milk, fresh, free-range, grass-fed meat, local honey, bread, cheese, etc. I get to pick up my box today and I also ordered raw Jersey cow milk, raw goat’s milk, and beef bones to make broth (recipe here).

Here’s a picture of the contents from our most recent CSA box (and our raw milk makes a cameo in the background). This was from the “small” box!

CSA Box contents local organic produce

2. Eat Wild

You can find farmers and ranchers who sell organic, free-range, grass-fed meats at Eat Wild.

Andrew and I are going to visit a local farm one weekend so we can lay eyes on it, meet the farmers, and see what all goes on. I am ridiculously excited, and I need you to not judge me right now, please.

3. Local farmers markets

Y’all – in the spring and summer, local farmers markets abound – and no, I’m not talking about giant buildings that call themselves farmers markets but offer produce from around the world. I’m talking about an open-air market where local farmers bring produce that they just picked from their own gardens. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE. I’m trying to only eat fruits and vegetables that are really in season. This helps me switch things up a bit and support my local farmers at the same time. A great resource to help you find a farmers market is Local Harvest.

4. Friends!

I’ve started buying eggs from a gentleman I work with. His 7 year-old son received some money for Christmas. Instead of buying a toy, he chose to invest that money and buy chickens. He is selling the eggs on a weekly delivery basis. What a smart kid (looking at you, Asher)! The chickens get to roam around and do as they please, so they’re happy chickens – which makes me happy. And the eggs – holy guacamole, y’all. THE EGGS ARE AMAZING. They taste SO different than the eggs from the grocery store – which makes sense since the chickens laying those eggs are fed antibiotics and steroids. Ahem. And he only charges $5 for a dozen!

So, I realize that some of you are thinking, “$5 for a dozen eggs when I could pay $1.99 at Kroger? You’ve got to be kidding me!” My guess is that those of you saying that are the same people that will drop $5 on ONE DRINK at Starbucks without thinking twice about it. $5 is more than worth it for a dozen fresh eggs.

room temperature farm fresh eggs wooden crateI even get a fun note from a different chicken each week! And can we talk about the homemade wooden crate they’re delivered in??

room temperature Farm fresh eggs in vintage pyrexBonus – if you buy eggs from a farmer and they don’t wash them, you don’t have to refrigerate them! Go read this article – it was definitely news to me.

This is definitely a drastic measure that we’re taking, but I feel so strongly about it that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, it’s a bit more expensive than buying produce at Kroger, but we’ve budgeted for it because it’s important to us. Can you even imagine if everyone began to do this?? Big corporations would have to start selling all organic produce because they provide what consumers demand. Some day…

Do you have any tips for eating locally? I’d love to hear them!

My Triumphant Return… and Bone Broth.

So, I knew I was going to take a little break from blogging, but I didn’t realize I would take a 5 month break. Oops. That’s my bad – that’s on me.

Life has been CRAZY. My husband and I are still a CARES Team in our apartment community, which is both time-consuming and absolutely amazing. I’m still working full-time, redoing furniture, and have added a cross stitch business on top of everything else we have going on in life, because why not?

Shameless plug – go check out my Etsy shop here to see some delightfully snarky cross stitch pieces: https://www.etsy.com/shop/snitchesgetstitched

That being said, I am ready to make my triumphant return to the blogosphere (and I just used the word “blogosphere”, so I probably deserve to be slapped across the face with a salmon. *Salmonslap*). I’ve really missed writing and hearing the sound of my own voice through the online word, so here I am, humble as ever.

Most Triumphant

Okay, on to the actual content of this post – basically what Pinterest says you came here for.

Andrew and I are both doing another Whole30 (more on that here). We ate horribly and did a lot of Netflix binge-watching over the holidays, so needless to say, we received a few extra pounds for Christmas. We are ready to whip ourselves into shape… whip it real good.

Sorry. I can’t ever pass up that particular Devo reference. Ever.

Anyways.

BONE BROTH.

If you read articles that lean towards the Paleo lifestyle (like me, because I’m a huge nerd), you’ve probably heard a lot about bone broth recently. It’s the new hot thing – like acai berries were a few years ago. Proof that bone broth is the new “it” food among hipsters can be found here.

Unlike passing trends, bone broth lives up to the hype. Bone broth is the JAM,  y’all. Seriously.

You can buy chicken or beef broth in a box or can at the grocery store for way less effort. Why bother to make your own broth?

BECAUSE IT’S 18 MILLION TIMES BETTER.

Allow me to explain.

The broth you buy in the stores is super-processed. A lot of times, they don’t even use bones – just “chicken flavor”. Ew. Plus, these broths offer next to no nutritional value. That bullion you’re using (and that I used to use religiously)? Crap. Even the stuff in jars that costs more and goes a long way is full of junk that is NOT good for you, I promise.

Okay, so we’ve talked about how processed broth and bullion sucks. But how does that make bone broth any better?

Bones are living tissue. They are PACKED with gelatin, marrow, collagen, and a host of other nutrients that are crazy-good for your gut. The health of your gut is vital to your overall health, so making your gut happy will make the rest of your body happy. Bonus – it helps strengthen your hair and nails and also contributes to great, firm skin. Plus, by making broth, you’re making these nutrients even easier for your body to digest.

If you’re not fully convinced yet, check out this article from Mark’s Daily Apple or this one from one of my favorite bloggers, Diane Sanfilippio.

Making bone broth probably sounds intimidating, but it is seriously one of the easiest things ever to make. This is not an original recipe – I think I’ve put this together from about 42 of the articles I’ve read – so feel free to adjust to your liking.

The How-To:

First off, get some bones. I feed our dogs raw chicken thighs (more on that later), so I save every single thigh bone. I put them in Ziploc baggies in my freezer and then pull them out when I’m ready to use them. You can also visit your local butcher shop or meat counter and ask for bones. I’ve found that while most butcher shops charge for bones (my local shop charges $3.99/lb for large beef bones – which are pretty heavy, but worth it), a lot of meat counters will give you bones for free! All you have to do is smile and ask sweetly if they throw away their bones and, if so, if you could get some to take home. Most are happy to oblige, and those that aren’t can suck it. Or just go on with their lives. Ahem.

Next, I pull out my trusty CrockPot (I have this one, which is both hella cheap and sturdy as all get-out) and fill it about halfway full of bones. You can use as many as you’d like, but I try to pack in as many in as I can. This is because a. The more bones in there, the more nutrients you get and b. I have a never-ending supply of chicken thigh bones and can’t use them as fast as I freeze them and I need freezer space, dangit.

I am a big fan of saving scraps. If I have a baby carrot left over from a recipe, I throw it in a Ziploc and freeze it. Same with celery and onion (why waste the rest of that onion and the tears you shed chopping it?!).  I wait until I’ve filled a bag full and then use them in broth. I am cheap, I know. Or thrifty, as I prefer. But really, cheap is okay.

I add a handful of carrots, celery, and onion to the CrockPot. If I’m feeling saucy, which is more often not, I throw in a bay leaf or two. The more vegetables and herbs you use, the more flavorful your broth will be.

I then fill the CrockPot with water – all the way to the tippy-top. Then, I throw in a capful of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. This will help to tenderize the bones.

I turn the CrockPot on high (after I’ve plugged it in, of course – which I have now forgotten to do on more than one occasion. Ahem) and let it come to a boil. After that, I turn the setting to low and… walk away.

 Let it cook for a million years.

Not really, although it kind of feels like it. I let mine cook for about 48 hours until it becomes this crazy-rich dark brown color, like so:

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe and Benefits(I’m mentally high-fiving myself for using the phrase “like so” right now. Thinking I should probably have my own cooking show on Food Network…)

So, you’ve got this amazing cooked-down bone broth now. Woohoo! Grab your mesh strainer and strain your broth into a bowl, one ladle at a time. Yeah, I’m looking at you, guy who tries to dump the whole pot into the strainer. Not cool.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe and BenefitsEither use this delectable broth immediately or store it in your fridge for up to 4 days. If I can’t use it all by then (which is almost never), I put mine in these plastic containers and freeze it for later.

After you refrigerate your broth, you’ll notice a layer of goopy stuff on the top. It’s just fat. You can skim it off if that grosses you out, but it will mix back in with the broth once it’s all been heated. Remember – fat is your friend.

I use bone broth in soups, skillet dishes, and just about anything I can. Sometimes, I’ll just pour myself a mug of it and drink it. I know that sounds weird, but when I get hungry, I crave salty food. This satisfies both the hunger and the craving. It’s a win-win, and I don’t appreciate your judgment, thankyouverymuch.

So go on, you brave soul. Make your own bone broth. Rejoice in it’s deliciousness!

The links on this page go to my Amazon Affiliate page. Though I get a small percentage of any products purchased, I listed these specifically because I’ve tried every single one of them and believe in them enough to recommend them. Seriously.

Why I Use Essential Oils

So, remember how I mentioned that I was going full-hippie?

Yep. Still am.

Almost a year ago, a friend of mine invited me to an essential oils workshop. I had heard a little buzz about essential oils and was intrigued, so I went with the intention to learn but not purchase anything.

I left with a kit.

No, seriously.

Allow me to explain.

I have struggled with sinus issues since I can remember. Growing up, I would get 5-7 severe sinus infections each year. Each time, I’d be put on an antibiotic and a steroid. Eventually, the antibiotic always stopped working and they’d have to put me on a stronger one. SO MUCH MEDICINE, y’all. And the sinus infections would just come right back. I’m still convinced that part of my weight issues come from constantly being on steroids. I mean, I was strong like bull, but I puffed up each time and it became harder and harder to lose the weight.

the rock strong like bullHow I felt on so many steroids. Seriously. Callie “The Rock” White.

I caved in and had sinus surgery in 2012, praying that it would be the answer and that I would find some relief.

Nope. For all the good it did me, I just might as well have not had the surgery. I went right back to my antibiotics/steroid routine.

…until I found doTerra.

I had the opportunity to try several oils at the workshop I attended. When the bottle of Breathe came around, I figured that this would be the real test (I was still SUPER skeptical). I had a stuffy nose and had been using extra-strength Afrin for about 48 hours with no relief.

I put a few drops of Breathe on my chest and right under my nostrils. AND I COULD BREATHE.

Life = changed.

After that, I became a believer. I ordered the Family Physician Kit that came with 10 oils. I’ll be honest – I was overwhelmed at first. There are SO many different uses for all the oils that I didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, I am part of an awesome group on Facebook who answered my 1 million ridiculous questions.

If you know me, you know that I’m pretty easily suckered into things. I’ve sold Mary Kay, BeautiControl, Avon, Mark., Pampered Chef, Tupperware… I mean, all of it. This is the first thing I actually believe in. I’m not “selling” to make money – I’m telling my friends and family about the oils because they’ve radically transformed the life of our family.

Y’all – this has been the best investment EVER. Not kidding. When I ordered the kit, all I could think was that “Holy crap, I’ve just spent $166 on a bunch of oils. What?!”

This has ended up saving us a small fortune. We no longer use over-the-counter meds (including our pretty much daily allergy pills, Tums, Advil, etc.). The oils have already paid for themselves that way!

And yes, it’s important WHAT oils you use. Yep, you can get cheap oils from the drugstore or Ebay – but the chances of them working are slim to none. These are stripped down, chemically-enhanced oils. The difference when you use doTerra oils are that they are CPTG oils, which is Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. doTerra is way better at explaining what that means, so I’ll send you to their website to read about it.

One of the main reasons I made the switch to essential oils is because of the CRAZY side effects of commercial medicine. It’s seriously scary when you stop and read about the symptoms that people are experience (including DEATH. Yikes) from medicines that are supposed to help them. No, thanks!

The oils are more effective at treating us and they’re safe, which puts my mind at ease. When we start a family, I won’t have to read teeny tiny labels about all the things in medicine that could harm our children. I’ll be confident using the oils on them.

Oh, and since using doTerra essential oils, guess how many sinus infections I’ve had?

Yep. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Plus, there are seriously a gajillion different ways to use the oils. One of my favorite ways is to calm our dogs down. No, seriously – I use it on the dogs. If they’re freaking out because of a storm, people knocking on the door, seeing a butterfly out the back door (no, really), I either slather some lavender oil on their paws or I diffuse it (like the picture below) and they are calm little angels. If I see a flea, I douse their collars in TerraShield and put a little Melaleuca on them and BAM, no more fleas.

using lavender essential oil for dogs doterra

 I’ve had some folks ask – I use this diffuser from Amazon and it’s fantastic!

Basically, essential oils have rocked our world.

If you’re interested in ordering any, I’d love for you to check out my page at www.mydoterra.com/callieclough

Even more than having you order, I’d LOVE to teach you about the oils! I’m available to do workshops for those who live near me. For those who don’t, I will help you find someone in your area to do a workshop. Seriously. It’ll change your life.

Does anyone use essential oils? If so – what’s your favorite oil and use for it? I’m always looking for new ideas!

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa Chicken

So, eating Whole30-style is the jam.

Because I’m no longer eating sugar, dairy, legumes, or anything processed, everyone keeps asking me what I CAN eat. I’ve had a few people tell me that there’s “no possible way” they could eat this way. I’ve heard phrases like “just vegetables”, “flavorless”, and “too expensive” about a million and two times.

Not true, friends. I’m usually not one to call people out, but yeah. You’re way wrong.

Eating this way, I’ve found my food to be MUCH more flavorful. It’s easy to cook, it’s affordable, and when you prep, it’s not that time-consuming. Plus, you just feel good about what you’re eating.

Yes, there are dishes you will have to clean. Yes, it’s possible you will make a mess in your kitchen… but if you’re using that as an excuse, then you’re clearly not ready for Whole30 anyways, so I don’t want to hear it. No, eating this way is not easy at first – you have to be willing to commit. Once you get into the swing of it, though, it becomes second-nature. You can always find time for the things that are important to you.

One of my favorite dishes that we eat (at least) once a week is Tomatillo Salsa Chicken. I found a base recipe that I tried and it called for dumping some chicken and a jar of salsa verde (which is just tomatillo salsa with a fun name) into a crock pot. It was okay, but I thought it would be WAY better with homemade tomatillo salsa.

I was right.

Here’s the recipe.

Helpful hint: Make the salsa beforehand. I usually make mine the night before, but it’ll keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Tomatillo Salsa:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add:

10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed

2-3 jalapenos, seeded

1 Vidalia onion, quartered

3 cloves garlic

Roast for 30 – 45 minutes until everything is fragrant and browning. Add everything to food processor with a pinch of salt. Blend until you get the desired consistency.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa ChickenA wee baby tomatillo. Super cute, right?

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa ChickenHusk that bad boy and rinse him and, voila! Fresh tomatillo.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa ChickenRoast your veggies. Fancy.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa ChickenSalsa Verde!

Tomatillo Salsa Chicken:

2-3 lbs chicken. I prefer frozen chicken thighs – more flavor than chicken breast, cheaper, and since it’s frozen that means it cooks longer so I can leave it cooking while I’m at work.

Dump your chicken and your salsa into your crock pot.

If using fresh chicken, cook for 2-3 hours on high. If using frozen, cook for 6-7 hours on low.

Boom. Finished.

We like to serve ours over Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Peppers and Onions – I just throw these in a skillet and heat them up – and fried plantains.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa Chicken

Ready for this goodness?

Fried Plantains:

1-2 VERY ripe plantains (black peels are optimal)

Peel and slice your plantains into chips about 1/2 inch thick.

Add coconut oil to your skillet (cast-iron works best) and heat. Add the plantains one by one.

Let each plantain cook 3-5 minutes or until bottom is almost black. Flip and cook the same amount on the other side.

They look burnt, but the natural sugar in them has just caramelized over the heat… which makes them AMAZING. Seriously. This is our favorite side dish.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa ChickenPerfectly ready plantains.

photo(1)Fry those bad boys up!

I throw everything into a bowl and SHABAM – dinner!

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Salsa Chicken

Cheap. Easy. Unbelievably flavorful and delicious… and super good for you, too.

Hope you enjoy!

The Benefits of Bulletproof Coffee

Why You Should Be Drinking Bulletproof Coffee

If you know me AT ALL, you know that I’m slightly addicted to coffee. The smell, the taste… everything about it. Coffee is so comforting to me. I’m a little bit of a coffee snob, too – I typically only drink black coffee, so I’m pretty particular about the way the beans are roasted (hence why I dislike Starbucks – they burn the beans).

Lots of you have been seeing posts on Facebook and other blogs lately about Bulletproof Coffee. A few of you have asked for my take on it, seeing as how you (pretty safely) assumed that I’d probably tried it.

It’s magic, y’all.

No, seriously. I am obsessed with Bulletproof Coffee.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Bulletproof Coffee is made of high-quality coffee beans without mycotoxins (the quality of the beans matters!) with MCT oil and high-quality grass-fed butter added to it. It’s pretty much all about the fats.

Being raised in the 1990s, I grew up thinking that a low-fat diet was the key to health. The American Heart Association told us that we needed to consume a diet that was low in saturated fats so as to avoid having high cholesterol. Unfortunately, this has led to a carbohydrate-addicted population (myself previously included!) that’s fatigued, overweight, and generally unhealthy. I’ll let you read a little bit more about that here and here since I’m certainly no expert. I can tell you, though, that after increasing fats in my diet, I’ve experienced weight loss, increased energy, a feeling of satisfaction after eating, and better overall health. Our bodies depend on saturated fats for slow-burning sources of energy.

Bulletproof Coffee combines these fats for a cup of coffee that will satisfy you and give you a kick in the pants of energy.

MCT Oil is Medium-Chain Triglycerides. According to Upgraded Self (the dude who invented Bulletproof Coffee, aka my personal hero), “Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) work directly with cells to give them an extra boost and maximize performance. Very little MCT oil is stored as fat because the body energizes itself very quickly with it. It’s also GMO-free, aflatoxin-free, BSE/TSE-free, and melamine-free.”

From what I’ve read, not all MCT Oil is created the same. I use the MCT Oil from Upgraded Self. This oil has better nutrient absorption and faster energy delivery than other oils.

The original creator of Bulletproof Coffee also stresses the importance of using coffee without mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are caused by mold, which 100% grosses me out. One time, I ate a piece of bread without looking at it and thought it tasted funny. When I looked down, the WHOLE back half was green and fuzzy. So yeah, I have personal problems with mold. I digress.

They do sell beans on the website, but they also have a post about where you can get “safe” coffee near you.

The last step is adding the butter.

I know – butter in coffee sounds totally weird and maybe like you’re going full-on Paula Deen. I promise, it’s delicious! It adds this amazing foamy, creamy froth to the top of your coffee. Since I’m continuing with Whole30, I choose to use ghee instead of butter, which is basically boiling out the milk solids from the butter to make it dairy-free. If I don’t order ghee, I make my own ghee using Kerrygold butter (you can get this at most grocery stores and at Trader Joe’s) – which, in my opinion, is the highest-quality butter out there.

YES, IT MATTERS WHAT KIND OF BUTTER YOU USE. If you use cheap-o butter, you’re doing more harm than good with nasty denatured casein. The grass-fed butter helps satisfy that hunger and provide you with another dose of those fantastic healthy fats that I obviously can’t stop talking about (sorry). The butter helps give your brain a boost, and gives you energy, too – so two thumbs up for grass-fed butter! Also – please don’t use salted butter. I can promise you that you’ll regret it. Kerrygold is the way to go, my friends.

Want to try Bulletproof Coffee for yourself? Here’s the recipe, based on the recipe from the Bulletproof Exec website:

  • Brew 1 cup (8 oz.) of coffee using filtered water, just off the boil, with 2 1/2 heaping tablespoons freshly ground coffee. (French Press is easiest. This one is my favorite – it’s hard to beat the quality of a Bodum press.)
  • Add in 1-2 tablespoons Bulletproof Upgraded MCT oil to the hot coffee
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee
  • Mix it all in a blender for 20-30 seconds until it is frothy like a foamy latte

I warm my blender up with 2 cups of hot water before pouring the coffee in there – just to prevent any damage.

My favorite method of making coffee is a pour-over, and I use this (really cheap but still awesome) dripper. I also use these filters. Works like a charm – and you can’t beat a pour-over.

Here’s a video on how to make it, too, in case you’re a visual learner:

Enjoy!!

The Shift to Natural

Y’all… I think I might be turning into a tree-hugging hippie.

I no longer use regular shampoo, conditioner, face wash, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, or household cleaners. (And I own a pair of Birkenstocks.) I do, however, still shave my legs and underarms, so I guess I’m not full-blown hippie quite yet (and by “yet”, I mean that will never happen. Although it might actually make my legs look tan. Hmm).

Anyways, a few of you have been mildly intrigued at my new-found love of natural products. Some of you have been kind enough to tolerate and/or “like” my pictures of random products and food that I’m been (wayyyy) oversharing on Instagram, so thanks for that.

A few of you have even asked what products I’m using! At that point, it’s difficult not to start an hour-long diatribe against conventional products… so I thought I’d write a blog post instead.

Yeah, you’re welcome.

Without further ado, here’s a list of my favorite products, along with an explanation of why I stopped using their conventional counterparts. Humor me – I couldn’t just leave that information out.

Let’s start with haircare. If you read my post on this the other day, feel free to skip to #3. If not – read on!

1. Shampoo

Why it’s bad: It’s laden with chemicals that you’re putting right on your body! Plus, it strips your scalp of all your natural oils, so your scalp goes into overtime producing oil, hence why your hair gets greasy.

Solution: Aubrey Organic Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo

Favorite Natural Shampoo
Why it’s awesome: Smells great, cleans my hair without stripping it, moisturizes my poor split ends. It’s also affordable, which is a huge plus!

2. Conditioner

Why it’s bad: Laden with chemicals, trying to replace natural oils. Boo.

Solution: Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner

giovanni
Why it’s awesome: It’s legitimately weightless! It detangles my hair and leaves it soft without leaving it greasy. Cost effective, too – you use a TINY amount and it’s plenty!

3. Face Wash

Why it’s bad: Again with the chemicals! Your skin is your largest organ – don’t put weird crap on it. Also, same concept as your hair – if you strip all of the natural oils on your face, it goes into overtime to produce oil, giving you… you guessed it (hopefully), oily skin!

Solution: Aluminum-Free Baking Soda

aluminum free baking soda

Why it’s Awesome: Baking soda is gentle enough to remove the dirt off your face without remove all of your natural oils. It does a great job cleaning without being harsh. It’s also CRAZY cheap, and will last you one million years (or at least a long time).

4. Facial Moisturizer

Why It’s Bad: CHEMICALLLLLS. Bad bad chemicals that are all up in your skin. No!!

Solution: Organic Coconut Oil

nutiva organic coconut oilWhy it’s Awesome: Holy amazeballs, y’all. There is nothing that feels as amazing as coconut oil on your skin. Pop a capsule of Vitamin E into this bad boy and you’ve got yourself the fountain of youth. I put this all over my face (lips, too!) and then dab off any excess with a dry washcloth. The benefits of coconut oil are NUTS and if you’re not using it, you’re missing out.

5. Toothpaste

Why it’s Bad: Among other nasty additives…Fluoride! Fluoride is a deadly toxin. That’s why there’s a little warning on your tube of toothpaste that tells you NOT to ingest it. Seriously.  I’m not putting that crap in my mouth!

Solution: Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste

desert essenceWhy it’s Awesome: I am obsessed with having super-fresh breath and clean teeth. When I thought about switching to a natural toothpaste with no fluoride, I was kind of scared (or terrified, y’know. Maybe.) that it wouldn’t leave my teeth as clean as traditional toothpaste and that it would taste funky. NOT THIS STUFF. It’s awesome. Seriously. The taste is SO yummy and leaves my breath crazy-fresh. Plus, there are no abrasives so I’m not damaging my enamel, but it still cleans them thoroughly. I’m a HUGE fan. At $15 for a 3-pack, it’s comparable to conventional toothpaste. WINNER.

6. Deodorant/Antiperspirant

Why it’s Bad: Aluminum, y’all. Aluminum is a neurotoxin and your deodorant is composted of 15-20% aluminum to help stop perspiration (which, btw, is your body’s way of cooling down and kind of necessary). The use of aluminum in deodorant has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. Totally not worth it.

UPDATE: I just found out that Naturally Fresh is NOT aluminum-free. Whomp whomp. So… I’ve made the switch to Primal Pit Paste, which is amazing, works better, smells better, and IS ALUMINUM FREE HALLELUJAH!

Aluminum Free Primal Pit Paste Lavender Deodorant

These are my favorite tried-and-true products. I use each of these every single day and I’m never going back!

I’ll be doing a post in the future about cosmetics and household cleaners, so stay tuned.

What are your favorite natural products?

The links on this page go to my Amazon Affiliate page. Though I get a small percentage of any products purchased, I listed these specifically because I’ve tried every single one of them and believe in them enough to recommend them. Seriously.

How the Whole30 Has Changed My Life

This blog is about to get personal.

Hi, my name is Callie (Hi, Callie)… and I love food.

I’m serious. Ever since I can remember, I have just absolutely LOVED food. I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with that in and of itself, but when you become obsessed with food, it becomes a problem. I would focus on my next snack, meal, etc. until that’s pretty much what consumed my thoughts. And I was ALWAYS hungry – I felt like a bottomless pit where food goes to die. Honestly, as weird as it sounds, food became an idol for me. I absolutely focused on food more than I focused on my relationship with God. I could never get enough food – no matter what it was.

I would eat breakfast, snack all morning, lunch, dessert, snack all afternoon, grab fast food on my way home, snack, dinner, dessert, and then snack some more.

Coupled with zero exercise, this made for a bit of a weight problem.

I have tried just about every diet out there. To name a few: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Quick Weight Loss, HCG (twice), Atkins, etc. You name it, I’ve done it – and lost weight! The greatest success I had was doing the HCG protocol. I lost about 30 lbs. each time. I did this right before my wedding and was the smallest I’d been in a long time.

The only problem was that as soon as I lost the weight, I’d go right back to my old eating habits (who is going to keep up with 500 calories a day?!). None of these diets taught me how to change how I deal with food.

I had a couple of friends that did the Whole30 Challenge (Elizabeth Haupt, I’m looking at you!) and I was mildly intrigued … but I put it off, looking for a faster way to lose weight. Nothing worked and I gave up… until a month ago. Allow me to explain.

About 3 months ago, I discovered a knot behind my left ear. I thought it must have been some kind of bug bite so I forgot about it for 2 weeks… until it began to HURT. We’re talking stabbing pain here. I knew something wasn’t right, so I went to the doctor. My honest thought was that it was some weird kind of cyst and that they’d drain it (totally gross, I know) and I’d be on my way. My doctor told me it was a lymph node and thought it was enlarged due to an infection, so he gave me antibiotics and told me to follow up in two weeks.

The antibiotics did NOTHING. When I went back in, I figured he’d just give me another round and I’d be on my merry way. Instead, he was concerned and sent me for an ultrasound and bloodwork.

Still not panicking at this point. No big deal, right?

…until the results came back. The ultrasound was “inconclusive”  other than confirming that my lymph node was quite enlarged. My blood work showed that my white blood cell count and lymphocyte counts were too high. My doctor was now VERY concerned… so he sent me to a cancer specialist.

I’m not going to lie – I freaked out when I heard the “c” word. There were lots of tears. This went from being nothing to potentially being cancer?? The cancer specialist did a full panel of bloodwork and wanted to see me back when the results came in about a month.

I knew I had to make a lifestyle change if nothing else, so I began the Whole30 Challenge in hopes of it helping my overall health.

Some of you probably have NO clue what the Whole30 is. Simply – it’s clean, whole eating. You cut out ALL processed foods, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and legumes. It’s a way of giving your body a total reset.

The creators of the Whole30, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, promise that the Whole30 will change your life. I was skeptical, to say the least.

I was wrong.

I can honestly tell you that this has completely changed my life. Here are a few ways how:

1. I am eating whole foods that my body now craves.

2. I’m putting NOTHING artificial or processed into my body.

3. I’m losing weight and inches.

4. My skin is clearer than it’s been in years.

5. My keratosis pilaris used to devastate me growing up – it was so embarrassing. It has all but disappeared now.

6. My relationship with food has changed COMPLETELY.

Whereas I used to focus on food and just eat all day, I’m now learning a balance. I make a menu once a week and go shopping ONE DAY (I used to pop into Kroger almost every day!) to get everything I need. I prep everything I can in advance. I’m not afraid of healthy fats. I NO LONGER CRAVE SUGAR OR PROCESSED CARBS. Like, at all.

Let’s take a minute to discuss that one.

I’m a carboholic. I’ve been known to eat an entire package of fresh pita bread in one sitting. I would eat just the bread off of a sandwich. One serving of Hawaiian rolls? HA! NOT ENOUGH! GIVE ME ALL THE BREAD YOU HAVE.

I honestly don’t even want bread anymore – or sugar, for that matter. My cravings have COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY disappeared.

Need to read that one again? Go right ahead.

Oh, and remember that lump that I went to the cancer specialist about?

He said that it was probably viral and nothing to worry about (praise God!), but that the enlarged lymph node would NEVER go down.

Guess what?

That lymph node (who I affectionately call “Lumpy”) has gone down so much that it’s almost unnoticeable.

BOOM. Suck it, doctors! (Okay, really, he was a super-nice guy. I just enjoy proving doctors wrong.)

Here’s a before and after picture for you. Before was on Day 1. After is Day 30.

My Whole30 Experience - before and after

I lost 14 lbs. and numerous inches. I still have a long way  to go, but I am SO encouraged, y’all. I feel better than I ever have, and I’m motivated to get healthy and stay that way.

Interested in trying your own Whole30 Challenge? Here are some tips for you:

1. Check out Whole30.com – there is SO much information on here, and it’s all free!

2. Get a copy of “It Starts with Food“. This book is a game-changer, I promise.

3. GET ON PINTEREST. There are SO many incredible recipes that are Whole30 compliant! Pinterest was a HUGE resource for me. Here’s my Whole30 board.

4. Join the Whole30 page on Facebook. My favorite page is the Paleo/Whole30 Motivation Group. This has been invaluable to me – SO much encouragement! It’s nice to know there’s a place you can go to ask questions or share successes and no one judges you. Seriously. It’s been huge. It’s a closed group, so you can feel safe posting there.

5. Stick with it! A lot of people experience withdrawal symptoms during the first few days. It’s  brutal, but SO WORTH IT to get the crap out of your system. I promise!! Be brave.

I’m going on to do a Whole60 – and maybe even longer after that. I LOVE this way of life!

I am SUCH a huge supporter of Whole30. If you have ANY questions at all, please feel free to ask me – I’d love to share with you!!

FYI – this post was all my own opinion and experience. I wasn’t paid in any way to promote this – it’s just something I really believe in. I do use Amazon affiliate links for some of the products, but the opinions are completely my own.