What You Should Know About Meal Kit Deliveries [REVIEW]

If you’ve been curious about all of the meal kit delivery services that have popped up over the last couple of years, you’ll be happy to know that I have a pretty comprehensive review of two of them for you today. I’m bringing you a guest post from Mark at Reviewing This, in which he breaks down the pros and cons of the most popular home meal delivery services available right now.

Healthy Meals You Prepare at Home

It’s likely you’ve heard of Blue Apron a home delivery of meal kits that makes cooking easy, even for the beginner cook. But they aren’t the only game in town anymore, and you might be wondering what to choose. Today I’ll be comparing the various options out there, as this niche market is on the rise — so much so that Amazon is getting into the game with their Prime Pantry service. 

Two top competitors for Amazon and Blue Apron are Home Chef and Sun Basket. Though not the most prominent services, they both have solid offerings, and they seem to have been quietly plugging away at building their respective customer bases. homechef

Home Chef

Home Chef started in 2013, based in Chicago, avoiding the costs of startup hub cities like New York. In that four years since they started, as of February 2017, they deliver over 2.5 million meals per month. That’s per month — regular users benefitting from their convenient service.

sunbasket

Sun Basket

Sun Basket is another baby in terms of companies, only having been founded in 2014. In a similar capacity to Amazon with their Prime Pantry, Sun Basket has an intrinsic relationship with a multinational corporation, with Unilever being one of their main investors. Based out of San Francisco, they’ve been building their distribution network to increase the ground they cover throughout the US.

Advantages of Meal Kits

For me, one of the most important things about these meal delivery  services is the lack of waste. Both companies are committed to zero waste in terms of their packaging. That kind of environmental commitment is becoming increasingly common among startups, but these companies are also preventing food waste.

About 40% of food produced in the United States is thrown out, whether it’s from restaurants, grocery stores, or right out of your own refrigerator after it’s rotted in your produce drawer. These companies send you exactly what you need to make a meal, and nothing more, thus preventing such waste — at least at the consumer level. 

Home Chef gives any excess food stock to local charities, while Sun Basket heavily promotes the organic focus of their service


But How is the Food?

With either service, you can select the types of meals you’re most interested in. Home Chef is slightly more specific in what you can exclude — you can actually choose to remove specific ingredients, rather than choosing a category or diet plan. I’m easy breezy when it comes to my meals, but my partner can be particular about her diet. No fish, mushrooms, or bell peppers are allowed in our kitchen, and it’s easy to tick these off for exclusion from any of the meals we receive.

With Sun Basket, you choose a diet plan, such as paleo or vegetarian. There’s nothing immediately apparent about excluding particular ingredients, but if you contact them, they might be able to accommodate an allergy or personal preference.

Price

Both Home Chef and Sun Basket cost roughly $10 per meal as part of their regular service. It’s easy to find a coupon code or a promo code for either of them, so even if you’re not ready to commit to weekly delivery, it’s worth using those offers for cheap and delicious one-off meals.

If you’re still on the fence on whether or not either service is for you, it’s beneficial to read reviews for each service. In this sun basket review you’ll find a whole meal cooked from start to finish as well as an FAQ section, and in this home chef review, you’ll find two whole meals cooked with fantastic images. On the plus side, you’ll also find coupon codes for each service at those reviews!


This is a sponsored guest post, which means that I have received monetary compensation for sharing it on CWB. All statements are the opinion of the author, Mark at Reviewing This.

Keep Your Cooking Oil Fresh with Infinity Jars [REVIEW]

Some cooking oils are more sensitive than others when it comes to light and heat exposure. Although most oils are shelf-stable, proper storage is still important, particular for mono- and poly-unsaturated oils, which are liquid at room temperature. This is not to say that saturated fats like ghee or coconut oil won’t eventually go rancid on your shelf (or lose some flavor and nutritional value over time), but the liquid oils (especially high-quality ones) are especially vulnerable to oxidation over time. 

Infinity Jars: Stellar Storage

I’m sharing this today, because a company called Infinity Jars reached out to me and asked me to review their products. I’ll be honest, at first I was reluctant. I took a look at the prices and thought, “I wouldn’t buy empty bottles at these prices, why would I tell my readers to buy them?” But then I saw that they offer freebies, even with small orders as low as $25, and new customers get a 10% discount. Orders over $100 get free shipping (plus more freebies), so my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to have them send me a couple to test out. 

Today’s product review will be about the incredible difference I saw and tasted after storing fresh avocado oil in an Infinity Jar for a little over two months. 

Infinity Jars

Planning is for Suckers

Initially, I had big plans to make a really cool video that showed my experiment from start to finish. But, alas, life got in the way. I started this oil experiment before I quit my job, and in the hectic transition out of office life, I ended up forgetting about it until two months later. I’d originally intended to do a taste test every week for a month, and then report out the findings to you. But that absolutely did not happen. Instead, I poured the oils into two different jars and left them on my counter, exposed to partial sunlight from my kitchen window for just over 2 months.

Details: The Infinity Jar Experiment

I started by opening a fresh bottle of La Tourangelle avocado oil. This oil comes in an opaque, metal container with a loose-fitting rubbery plastic top. It’s really nice oil. I poured about a cup of it into an Infinity Jar oil bottle with a pour top spout and another cup into a glass bottle. This bottle is roughly the same light green/blue color that you’d find in a super market filled with an average, not-very-special olive oil or vegetable oil. I also purchased a bottle of Chosen Foods avocado oil, which comes in a nicer, darker green bottle, such as what you might find at a boutique olive oil dispensary in the wine country or a high-end market. Here are the three of them all lined up.

Two months later, I did a not-blind taste test with myself, along with a totally blind taste test with my husband. (He was also unaware I’d been conducting this experiment prominently on our kitchen counter for 2 months, and confused as to why I was asking him to drink oil out of a shot glass. I share that detail so that you know he had NO idea what a “right answer” should be.)

Results: Infinity Jars for the Win

The clear winner was not only obvious to our taste buds, it was also very clear in just looking at the oils in the shot glasses. (I asked Loren not to look as he tasted, so he didn’t see until afterwards.) 

Here are the oils after two months on the counter.

infinity jars product review

Top: clear green/blue bottle
Left: Chosen Foods green bottle
Right: Infinity Jar oil bottle

So there you have it folks: I was initially a skeptic, and now I’m a loyal user of Infinity Jars. If you peruse their website, you’ll see how they report to measure up against dark brown glass as well. I didn’t run that experiment, but as a dabbler in essential oil potions and homemade body care (which I have been storing in brown jars), I am certainly curious about how my homemade goods are holding up after running this experiment in my kitchen with plain oil.

Give it a look and let me know what you think! For more information on cooking oils and choosing the right one for the right temperature to avoid rancidity and toxicity, consult my FREE Ultimate Guide to Cooking Oils! 

Click Here to get your FREE Guide!

Partnering with Bone Broths Co to Bring You the Best Bone Broth on the Market

Editor’s Note (3/20/16): Since writing this post, Bone Broths Co. has changed names to Kettle and Fire. This post has been updated to reflect the changes. The product is still the same top quality.


The questions I get most often at CWB are about my Bone Broth Acne Cure — how to make it, how it works, and will it work for this or that type of skin condition, allergy, or gut problem. I also hear a lot of reservations about actually taking the time to make the bone broth itself.

Over the course of the last two years since sharing my own gut-healing story, I’ve learned that asking people to spend time in the kitchen when they’re not used to it; to leave their stove on low all night or all day while they’re fast asleep or away at work; to buy a bunch of jars and clear space in their freezer — these requests can be pretty uncomfortable for some.

As someone who loves to cook (and someone who suffered long and hard for years with gut and skin problems), it never occurred to me just how big these barriers to entry might be. To those of you who love making your own bone broth, by all means, keep on keeping on; but if you have been curious about bone broth but haven’t tried it because it seemed like a hassle or too much work, I’m talking directly to you for the remainder of this post. 

Shortcut to success with the Bone Broth Acne Cure

Today, I’m offering the ultimate shortcut to getting this nourishing, gut-healing elixir into your belly, so that it can do the important work of sealing your gut lining and clearing your skin. 

I’ve hinted at this collaboration for long enough, and it’s finally time for me to announce that I’ve officially found a pre-made, slow-cooked bone broth that’s up to my quality standards and nutritional snuff — one that I can stand behind and feel good about offering to you with a full vote of confidence. 

bone broth acne cure kettle and fire
Believe it or not, there is a lot of high-quality bone broth companies to choose from, and I’ve tried quite a few. But a big problem lies in the packaging and the shelf life. Not a single one of the high-quality brands I’ve tried comes shelf-stable.

Kettle & Fire reduces waste with minimal packaging (and no ice packs, which saves you money on shipping) and uses only top quality bones from grass-fed cows and organic veggies, and they slow-cook the broth just like I do at home. 

Bone Broths Co partnership acne cure

The box on the left shipped two cartons of Kettle & Fire product. The box on the left shipped two freezer bags of the same size from a competitor.

Does it gel?

This is an important question. It might be THE question in fact. 

For the past 6 months, I’ve been on a mission to find the right company to work with in my quest to offer YOU, my readers, an excellent pre-made bone broth solution. Upon gently turning down one of the frozen brands I’d sampled, they responded back to me that I’d be sacrificing quality by choosing a shelf-stable bone broth. They said that the broths you find in tetra-packs aren’t cooked long enough, use fewer bones, and don’t gel. While that’s true for one brand I’ve tried that shall remain nameless — and flavorless — it’s patently false about Kettle & Fire

Their product is the absolute exception to this rule. They cook their broth for at least 24 hours to ensure that all the important healing constituents in the bone matrix make it into the liquid. Otherwise, it would be a bland, watery mess like some of their competitors.

Does it gel? YES it gels. Here’s proof: 
Bone Broths Gel

Bone Broth for Travel

The box in the picture above was pulled out of my suitcase, not out of the refrigerator. One of the beauties of having a shelf-stable product (in addition to sparing the environment, skipping the waste, and saving on shipping costs), is that you can now travel with your bone broth. This summer on my 10-day vacation, I packed two of these little boxes in my luggage so that I could enjoy my morning ritual away from home.

And honestly, traveling could be when you need bone broth most — the immune-boosting qualities can protect you when you’re on an airplane breathing recycled air and touching everything that everyone else is touching. 

I’ve tried a number of the pre-made bone broths on the market right now, and I can honestly say that this one not only tastes the best, but is of the absolute highest quality. And the portability is basically priceless — especially for someone like me who likes to escape to the van from time to time and go adventuring. 

Bone Broths Co partnership acne cure

photo credit: Loren Rothman

The CWB/Kettle & Fire Affiliate Partnership

If you’ve been struggling with gut issues or skin problems and haven’t found the time to make homemade bone broth yet, this is your chance to try it without spending more than 1 minute in the kitchen to warm up the mug. 

The Bone Broth Acne Cure

I won’t pretend to know how every individual will react to adding this healing liquid gold into their diet, but as most of you have read, it took just two weeks of drinking the stuff for 20 years of acne to disappear from my face

curing acne naturally

These little boxes make two servings each, so if you want to guarantee that you’ll have enough for two weeks straight, I suggest you start with 7 boxes. Your other option is to get the subscription package (which I happen to see as more of a maintenance plan). Either way, you save 15% by using my affiliate link, and you get free shipping too!

bone broth acne cure kettle and fire
If you have any questions before you purchase, feel free to hit me up. I love helping you guys out, so don’t hesitate to ask!

I can’t wait to hear how you like this bone broth! I love it and have already placed my order for my Thanksgiving travels and a few recipes I plan to feature right here between now and the end of the year.


Addendum #1: Two weeks ago, in an effort to answer the flood of questions that come in about the BBAC, I announced the launch of my new YouTube Channel: Bone Broth Acne Cure: Question and Answer, where I address your burning questions about this amazing remedy. New episodes drop every Thursday at 2pm PST. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss anything, and if you have a question of your own, please reach out to me directly so I can get it answered on a future show. 

Addendum #2: If you haven’t already subscribed to my newsletter, it’s high time you did. You’ll get a free eBook just in time for the fall season. It’s filled with amazing pumpkin recipes that range from sweet to savory, even spicy — and they’re all simple to make! You’ll also have your pick of some of my other clear skin resources, including how to take your skin to the next level: Vibrantly Healthy Skin. Just reply to your welcome email to let me know you want my Bone Broth Acne Cure Resources and I’ll shoot them right over to you as soon as humanly possible.   Subscribe Now
 


FTC DISCLOSURE: This is not a sponsored post but I will receive compensation if you use the links in this post to purchase Bone Broths Co. bone broth. I’m proud to call this company a partner and work with them to bring bone broth to as many people as possible. All opinions are my own.

Handmade Gift Ideas for the Gift-Giving Season and Beyond

I made a deal with myself that I was not going to let this holiday season sneak up on me again. I was going to get everything done far in advance and sit back while everyone else scrambles. Last year, I’d wanted to do all homemade gifts for Christmas, and I failed miserably (well, I did get some yummy flourless rum balls made for my coworkers, I’ll give myself that). But I didn’t give myself enough time to research or actually make any of the things I wanted to give to my family. Since I’d already bought a few little jars to play with some recipes, I decided to at least try making a hand creme, just for 3 people that I knew wouldn’t be upset if it was terrible. And because it was rushed and I didn’t know what I was doing, it ended up being a little too waxy — and kind of weird.

Not what I wanted.

Full disclosure: I’m terrible at giving gifts on time. Christmas is the one exception — well, sometimes Loren gets some late Christmas gifts — but for the most part, because I am traveling to see my family in Texas, I have to get all those gifts together before we head down there. In general, because I want to get the perfect thing, I put it off and put it off until, alas, the gift is late. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to break. (Sorry, friends I owe wedding presents!)

handmade gift ideas homemade gift ideas

click here to get my flourless rum ball recipe!

‘Tis Not Yet the Season!

I know it seems too early to talk about this — and it kind of is, we haven’t even started with the pumpkins yet — but I made a deal with myself people! I am NOT going to fall behind! I’ve been gathering ideas and recipes and containers and all kinds of goodies for this year’s gift-giving extravaganza, and I’ve even started making stuff already. So far, I’ve stuck to shelf-stable culinary gifts — which by the way, I cannot WAIT to share with you in some upcoming posts — but I’d also like to try my hand at some decent homemade body care products this year.

And that’s where this beautiful little number comes in!

A Sonoma Garden’s Simple Handcrafted Body Care

handmade gift ideas

This beautiful eBook, created by Kendra from A Sonoma Garden, features recipes for everything from lotions to lip balms, and the best part is that they’re simple! Part of my problem last winter was that when I did a cursory search for homemade hand creme online, the formulas I found called for all sorts of expensive ingredients that sort of defeated the purpose of making a homemade gift.

Of course, I want my homemade gifts to come from the heart and be something that people will love and appreciate that I took the time to make myself. BUT I don’t want to spend twice as much as I would have if I’d just gone out and bought a version of what I was making them. That seems silly. Kendra’s formulas and recipes feature ingredients that are easy to find and don’t cost an arm and a leg. And she encourages experimentation, which you know I love! I usually call it “intuitive cooking” but in this case, I guess it’s “intuitive mixing.” Either way, I’ve already bookmarked the items I’m adding to my crafting list for this winter’s gift-giving season, and thanks to the bonus gifts in this year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, I already have three essential oils to to use in my handcrafted gifts! This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

handmade gift ideas homemade gift ideas

This Year’s Bonuses

“What’s this you say about free essential oils?” (Surely that’s what you’re asking.) That’s right! Plant Therapy is giving away their three favorite oils to everyone who purchases this year’s bundle. Quite a few of this year’s bonus gifts are physical items that will be mailed to your home, including these three bottles of pure essential oils. (and one of my bonuses is too if you fill out this form to let me know you ordered!) This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

Here are all of the amazing sponsors for this year’s bundle!

Natural Home in the Ultimate Bundle

Kendra’s Simple Handcrafted Body Care is just one of many amazing eBooks included in a section of the Healthy Living bundle called Natural Home, which features 9 other resources, including Detox Your Home by Katie the Wellness Mama. These two books alone are worth nearly as much as the cost of entire bundle of 90+ resources on healthy living and holistic health. In fact, the whole bundle is worth $1900, and until 11:59pm EST tonight, it can be yours for a whopping 97% off. This offer isn’t just a steal, it’s access to resources that can help you give your home and your health a makeover.

If you’ve been curious about the best natural replacements for the toxic cleaners under your kitchen sink and in your bathroom cabinet, or if you’re curious about handmade gift ideas like I was, this is the bundle for you.

Allergy Free

If you feel stifled by food sensitivities and want new ideas that cater to your special diet, this is the bundle for you.

Essential Oils

If you’ve been wanting to explore the power of aromatherapy and the healing potential of essential oils, this is the bundle for you.

Fitness and Weight Loss

If you’re short on motivation to kick your activity up a notch and lose a few inches off your waistline, this bundle is just the thing to spring you into action.

Healthy Kids

If you’re thinking about having kids and you want to prepare yourself, your home, and your body for your new family member, this is the bundle for you.

Homesteading

If you’re like me and you fantasize about one day raising chickens and canning all your garden spoils, or you’re curious about starting an organic garden from scratch, this is the bundle for you.

Natural Remedies

If you don’t like taking over the counter meds and want to try more natural home remedies for colds, flus, aches, and pains — and even some chronic conditions — this is the bundle for you.

Paleo

If you’ve been curious about the Paleo diet but have had trouble sifting through all the recipe websites and media hype, this is the bundle for you.

Real Food

If you want a crash course in traditional eating (cheese making, fermenting foods and beverages) or are simply looking for strategies for eating more of a whole foods diet, this is the bundle for you. 

Time’s Running Out

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

I think I made my point. But seriously, there really isn’t much time left to cash in on bundle pricing. You have until midnight tonight to make it happen, and I’d really hate to see you miss out on such a killer deal. I’ve already started perusing the resources in this bundle, and I’ve yet to be disappointed.

The beautiful thing is though, if you aren’t as excited as I am about your bundle once you get it, there’s a 30 day money back guarantee. I know it seems rushed (we do this sale for just one week, and today’s the last day), but that’s kind of the whole deal. The authors in this bundle (including me!) agree to put their (our) eBooks and eCourses together for just a short time. We do this to get these amazing resources out to as many people as possible within this little window so that everybody wins! 

Go have a look at it and see what you think. You won’t regret it!


Debunking PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

My PCOS Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) back in the late 90s, and the doctor told me that I should go on the South Beach Diet for the rest of my life. I was in my late teens, an athlete, very muscular, and a voracious eater, and I was most definitely not going to do that. I loved my pasta and my sweets. Plus I was in no way mature enough to stick to a diet like that for a week, much less consider the prospect of doing it for a lifetime.

The doctor prescribed me a testosterone blocker (Spironilactone), which I took on and off for years, along with Metformin, which is a drug for diabetes (which I didn’t have) that made me feel absolutely terrible — didn’t take that one for long. She also tried to get me to go on birth control, which I refused for a long time but eventually conceded. Although I’ve stopped the testosterone blocker, I’ve been on BC ever since. 

Debunking PCOS

image sourced through Creative Commons by Ceridwen~commonswiki

What’s PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance often detected through the occurrence of a collection of symptoms. In my case, I had terrible acne (which got far worse after this diagnosis), male patterned body hair (jaw line, chest, happy trail), and extra weight in my midsection. Other symptoms include not having a period, thinning hair, and mood problems. Admittedly, I was a teenager/early adult at this time, so the mood problems were never discussed as anything abnormal in my case. Poor gut health is also connected to PCOS, but my own bowel issues were never discusses at any point during my doctor’s visits. 

A Life Sentence

Being a very young adult in the late 90s, I wasn’t quite ready to hear a doctor tell me that I was going to have to take medication for my PCOS for “the rest of my life.” I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready to hear that, and I don’t feel any differently about the prospects of having to be on birth control forever either. While I’m not ready to think about having children, I am ready to step back and examine if it’s time to consider getting off the pill (or Nuva Ring in my case). 

Debunking PCOS

Years ago, my naturopathic doctor (ND) who helped pave the way for my eventual decision to go gluten-free told me that she didn’t think women should be on hormonal contraception for more than 10 years. I have no idea what the scientific reasoning behind that 10 year rule is, but it stuck in my mind — and this year is my 11th year. I’ve been very seriously considering making a change.

What the Doctors Say

What the doctors have told me over the years has varied. The first doctor who diagnosed me was a fertility specialist. She said that I would need to be on meds for the rest of my life and that I might have trouble conceiving one day. The second doctor was the ND. She told me that after our work together, I was showing no blood markers of having PCOS (including insulin resistance) — but I was on the pill when we did all those tests. My current OBGYN has told me that once a woman is diagnosed with PCOS, she will always have it, and that the pill is the only reason my blood work came back normal.

She didn’t take any of the positive changes that I’ve made over the years into account when she made this statement. She didn’t seem to notice the dramatic changes in my skin or care that I went from having violent, emergent “bathroom situations” to having none at all. She didn’t consider the fact that after years of having low-level candida overgrowth, I haven’t asked for a Diflucan prescription in close to 3 years.

Debunking PCOS

She said that if I ever want to get pregnant, I should stay on the pill until the very moment I decide I’m ready, and then start trying right away, because the further I get away from having “regular” periods like the ones I have on the pill, the harder it will be to conceive. So I’ve begrudgingly stayed on it into my 11th year, even though I don’t even know for sure I want to get pregnant at all.

Debunking PCOS: The Book

I have spoken to a few acupuncturists about the idea of “easing” my way off of birth control, and they’ve all told me that they could help me or knew someone who could whenever I’m ready. I’ve explored the idea on and off for about a year, and when I found this book tucked inside this year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, I knew it would be the first one I cracked open. I read the whole thing in one sitting and regained my resolve to find a gentle way to get off BC for good.debunking PCOS

Nat Kringoudis is a Doctor of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), and in this book, she lays out the symptoms, the causes, and the steps to cure PCOS naturally. She shares both Eastern and Western perspectives on the disease and debunks some of the myths I was told by my doctors.

Importantly for me, she also validates the parts of my journey in which I’ve successfully healed myself. She doesn’t say that once you have PCOS, it never goes away. She says that proper self-care and taking measures to heal your gut are key steps to alleviating PCOS. Nat confirms that I’ve been doing the right things to take care of myself and heal my leaky gut. For me, that’s been drinking bone broth, eliminating gluten, and eating probiotic foods. She’s also offered new ideas for supporting my liver that I’ve never done consistently (didn’t stick with it). Her book has motivated me to get consistent with these practices and find an acupuncturist to help me get off the pill. 

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

This short and inspiring book is just one of over 90 resources in this year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. It falls into the Natural Remedies category along with 10 other resources. Three of those 10 could be relevant to someone with a PCOS diagnosis.

Heal Your Gut from Lee at Supercharged Food

Conquer Diabetes from Jose at Conquer Diabetes

Inflammation Free Zone from Amy at Bee Happy Life

Those three books alone are a $130 value, but this bundle costs just a fraction of that and comes with so much more. With categories ranging from Homesteading to Paleo, from Essential Oils to Healthy Kids, from Allergy-Free to Natural Home, this bundle is worth $1900 — and that doesn’t include the bonuses that the amazing sponsors throw in for everyone who purchases.  

Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

Bonuses from CWB 

Not only have I contributed my eBook Nine Easy Steps to Delicious Gluten-Free Living to this amazing bundle offer, I’ve also decided to give my readers 2 bonus prizes! After you place your order, simply fill out this form and I’ll get your bonuses sent over to you right away! This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

What are my bonuses?

First, there’s my latest eBook, 23 Healthy Smoothie Recipes. I’ve been collecting and testing these recipes for over a year, and they’re finally ready for your blending pleasure! 

Second, there’s your very own CWB bumper sticker! That’s right, I’ll mail you this sticker, my VERY FIRST EVER piece of CWB swag. It could be yours! 

 

What’s the Catch?

The only catch is the timing. The folks at Ultimate Bundle are able to create such a steeply discounted product simply because the authors agree to a very short sale. This bundle will be available for purchase until MONDAY, 9/14/15 at 11:59pm EST. After that, you’ll have to buy all these wonderful resources separately. 

Find out more about the bundle HERE, and don’t forget to fill out that form to get your CWB stuff! 

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

A Complete Toolbox for Becoming Your Best Self

The Weight Obsession

As a culture, we’re so obsessed with losing weight (especially women) that thinness has become synonymous with health. I want to reframe this conversation and emphasize that there’s a difference between being skinny and being healthy, and sometimes you can’t tell from the number on the scale just how healthy (or unhealthy) you are. 

Admittedly, I’ve had my fair share of struggling with the number on the scale — I won’t pretend that I’m immune to this social conditioning that thinness = beauty — but in recent months, I’ve really begun to feel a shift. And that shift came when I realized that I FEEL better than I’ve ever felt in my life, and feeling great is reflected in how we interface with the world.

Sure, there are some physical indicators: healthy hair, skin, and nails, and the total absence of digestive distress. But there are some beautiful internal markers too: satisfaction with my work and my relationships, and the joy of being fully present and connected when I’m away from the office. All of these things serve to bring me to the place I am today, which is happy with who I am and how I look. 

TOFI Thin outside fat inside

A Lifestyle Shift

One of the biggest lifestyle changes I’ve made since recovering from my hand injury has been the introduction of a weight lifting program into my weekly activities. It’s been a slow and modest effort, but I’m lifting more weight than I ever have, and it feels so empowering! Not only am I feeling awesome in my pants, I’m also feeling a LOT stronger while I’m climbing and hiking — which always gives me a confidence boost.

I plan to dedicate a few future posts solely to the topic of weight lifting, but for today, my point is that there’s a lot more to being healthy than the number on the scale — it’s multifaceted, not just in the physical sense, but in the mental/emotional/spiritual sense as well. Where we place our priorities, what we surround ourselves with in our homes, the connection we have to the food on our plates, the people in our lives, and the world in which we exist; all of these things make up a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, and it’s in these finer points that we find true fulfillment.   

Staying Healthy with Whole Foods and Holistic Living

Sometimes making a lifestyle shift is more complicated than just sticking to a list of instructions. Attempting to flatten out the complexity of our lives — our families — onto a sheet of paper can feel stifling. And at the very same time, attempting to stick with what’s prescribed can feel overwhelming. In this digital age, the vastness of information, differing opinions, and conflicting theories can make for a confusing plan of attack. 

But what if you had the best resources on the web for living a healthy lifestyle all in one place and right at your fingertips? What if you had guidance and info from respected nutrition and holistic health experts like Abel James of Fat-Burning Man, George Bryant of Civilized Caveman, and Katie of Wellness Mama on your phone or kindle waiting for you every time you needed them?

eBooks

Enter the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

I’m super excited to tell you about this eBook and eCourse bundle this week! I was invited to contribute my eBook, Nine Easy Steps to Delicious Gluten-Free Living, and when I saw the list of authors and contributors, I couldn’t say yes quickly enough! 

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

This is truly the best value available for a comprehensive resource on holistic, healthy, natural living. I can honestly say that I’m proud to be a part of this and honored to share it with my readers (that’s you!). Not only are Abel, George, and Katie on board with their beautiful books (already worth more than twice the cost of the entire bundle), we’ve also got homesteaders, paleo bloggers, certified aromatherapists, nutritionists, and real foodies on board sharing their very best work, all compiled in this beautiful package. My book is in a lineup of 9 “allergy-friendly” eBooks, and accompanying me on that list is Carol from Ditch the Wheat! Super psyched!

TOFI Thin Outside Fat Inside

All together, this package is worth over $1900!

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

Plus, it comes with $220 worth of bonus products including:

  • ePantry – FREE hand soap + $8 credit on one shipment, FREE dish soap + $8 credit on the next shipment, AND 60-day VIP access with FREE shipping ($30 value)
  • Plant Therapy – Lemon, lavender and peppermint essential oil set ($22.92 value)
  • NaturOli – FREE travel essentials facial set: deep conditioning facial wash (1 oz.), new radiance facial creme (1 oz.), exfoliating walnut scrub (1 oz.) ($16.95 value)
  • Bloom Naturals – FREE SPOT treatment for acne & eczema OR a $15 gift certificate toward Bloom Naturals products ($15 value)
  • Lexie Naturals –  FREE natural care gift set: lip balm (.15 oz.), lotion tube (1 oz.) and trial-size deodorant (.35 oz.) ($15 value)
  • Perfect Supplements – $15 gift certificate toward any Perfect Brand product ($15 value)
  • Strawesome – $15 gift certificate toward the straws and accessories of your choice ($15 value)
  • TriLight Health – FREE 2-oz liquid herbal formula or $15 off larger bottles ($15 value)
  • Craftsy – 1 FREE online class ($44.99 value)
  • Once a Month Meals – $32 toward OAMM membership + a free mini menu ($35 value)

Besides being so incredibly helpful and inspiring, one of the things I like best about the bundle is the price. By offering the bundle for a short time only, we’re able to give you access to over $1900 worth of amazing products for a whopping 97% off!

TOFI Thin Inside Fat Outside

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit the Ultimate Bundle website, take a quick look at all the goodness that comes in this package, then click “Get my copy now!” to go through their simple 3-step checkout process.
  2. You’ll receive an email with a login to their online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, and redeeming your free bonus products.
  3. Use their Getting Started Interactive Guides to pick the area you want to tackle first and start making healthy changes!

The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available for just 6 days! After Monday night, September 14th, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually.

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

Oh, and one more thing!

I’m giving away two of my own special bonuses exclusively to every CWB reader who purchases this bundle. The first one is a list of my 23 favorite, tried and true, healthy smoothie concoctions — all compiled into a beautiful eBook! Start your morning off with a veggie-packed smoothie and pretty-much guarantee a great day for yourself! 

23HealthySmoothieRecipes

The second one is a CWB bumper sticker! Yes, I’ll actually MAIL it to you! This is my very first ever CWB swag, and I’m probably more excited about it than I should be, but here it is!!! Eeeeeee!!!!!!

whole foods and holistic health

To get these exclusive CWB bonuses, simply fill out this form after you’ve purchased your bundle and I’ll get your stuff to you as soon as humanly possible!

–> CLICK HERE to learn more or buy the bundle!

This bundle offer is now over. If you’d like to be informed of the next time an offer this good comes around, fill out this super short form and I’ll be sure to let you know! (They happen at least once a year)

It’s even backed by a full 30-day guarantee, so you can know for sure that it’s right for you. 

If you’re a regular CWB reader, you know I don’t give a lot of real estate to “sales” on this site. This is the exception because it’s worth being an exception — I’m proud to be a part of this, and I want to share it with you!

I’ve already shared how fantastic it feels to finally be my best self, and the resources in this bundle are exactly the type of skills and tools I’ve used to get there. Join me and become your best self today!


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

Summer Travel Skin Care Made Easy with Botanic Organic

Traveling can really mess up a daily skin care routine, can’t it? At least my kind of travel does: sleeping in the back of our camper van in the woods with no running water or amenities. Missing out on warm running water can put a minor crimp in my regimen — have you ever tried to rinse off something oily or soapy with freezing cold water? It’s a pain. But I’m excited to share that I’ve found a great travel skin care solution in an awesome product from Botanic Organic. In fact, I’m going to share two fantastic Botanic Organic products today — together I’m calling them Botanic Organic’s Traveling Skin Care Solution

botanic organic coupon botanic organic giveaway travel skincare

Travel Skin Care: Summer Edition

Even if you aren’t the weekend warrior type like me, you might find that going through a whole skin care routine when you’re on the road can be a hassle. And you might also find that in the summertime, globbing greasy sunscreen all over your face is uncomfortable and annoying — especially when it’s hot or humid.

But here’s the problem: 

You still want your skin to be clean, healthy, and protected from the elements, even when you’re on the road — perhaps especially when you’re on the road — when stress, sleeping in a different bed, and other external challenges could cause a breakout.

So what are my choices here? Should I just deal with a greasy face to make sure it stays protected from the sun, possibly risking a few clogged pores in the process? Should I plan on bringing my whole bathroom cabinet of facial care with me on the road and hope that I feel like doing my standard nightly routine when I’m exhausted at the end of a day of travel? Certainly these aren’t my only choices. 

The solution: Botanic Organic’s Traveling Skin Care Solution

Today’s product review is going to address both of these quandaries with two products from Botanic Organic, a beautiful little homespun company based right here in the San Francisco Bay. This is my second review of BO products (you can check out my first review here), and just like in the last post, I’ll be giving away the dynamic duo I’m touting at the end of this review. I’ll also be sharing a 20% off coupon with all of you, so don’t leave without that coupon code!

Traveling Cleanser Solution: Chamomile and Lavender Facial Cleansing Spraybotanic organic travel skincare

I decided to try this product after learning that the lemon oil in my favorite Botanic Organic cleanser could be leaving me vulnerable to hyperpigmentation on my already sun-damaged face. Apparently lemon oil is phototoxic, which means that I shouldn’t use it on my skin before a weekend out in the sun (which is basically every weekend this time of year). I didn’t stop using the oil cleanser (most everything I read said that if you don’t leave the product on your face, you aren’t at risk), but I wanted something I could use on sunny days without worrying about it.

I didn’t realize that the two products were so dramatically different until I tried the Chamomile and Lavender Spray for myself. When I used the spray, at first I felt like I was just using a toner, and I wasn’t sure that I was actually cleaning anything. Then I decided to wipe down my sprayed face with a clean cloth and I saw just how much of a day’s worth of climbing outside came off. The spray and all its healing ingredients left me feeling refreshed and clean. On big days outside, I usually do two or three passes of the spray with a wash cloth or cotton pads for good measure, and it works great.

The ingredient profile is chalk-full of healing, calming, cooling properties — great for sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, or even sunburnt skin. In addition to the two oils named in the product, this cleansing spray also features calendula and aloe vera; both great for the indications I just listed.

Traveling Sunblock Solution: Raspberry and Green Tea Daily Defense Moisturizerbotanic organic travel skincare

I’ve resisted wearing a daily sunblock for years, rationalizing that my mineral makeup was enough to protect my skin. While mineral makeup does provide a physical barrier to the sun, it doesn’t stay on all day, and it’s certainly not reliable enough to count on when temperatures rise. Plus I don’t wear make up when I’m out adventuring, so my quest has been to find facial sun protection that doesn’t drip into my eyes when I’m sweating on the side of a rock somewhere.

My resistance to a daily facial sunscreen has always been rooted in the grease factor and the gross factor. Basically every single one I’ve ever tried has either been too greasy or laden with all manner of gross chemicals that I didn’t want to put on my face (or both). When I told Nancy (founder of Botanic Organics) my issue, she insisted that I try the Raspberry and Green Tea Daily Defense Moisturizer and gave me a couple of sample bottles.

I love it.

I can wear it under my make up or I can skip the make up completely without having too much of a shine from it, which I’ve literally never experienced with another facial sunscreen. Nancy made sure to mention that while this product isn’t officially/legally called “sunscreen,”  it contains 11% zinc oxide which gives about an equivalent of 15 SPF protection. Plus there are additional oils in the product that provide a measure of sun protection, including shea butter, raspberry seed, buriti fruit and hemp seed oils.

There are also a few ingredients in there that repair UV damage, which I need after years of outdoor softball, sunbathing, hiking, swimming, and now climbing. Admittedly, this is not a cheap product at $34 a bottle, but it’s worth it to have the perfect sunscreen after years of avoiding it entirely. And a little bit goes a long way, so a bottle should last at least a few months.

Mad Giveaway Time!

Not only am I giving away two sets of this awesome duo for traveling greatness, I’m also offering a coupon to every single human who reads this post! The coupon will expire Oct 1st, so if yo don’t win this raffle, I suggest you take advantage of this 20% discount while you can. (Must be a US Resident to win.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As if That Weren’t Enough?!

CWB has partnered with Botanic Organic to get those of you who won’t be lucky enough to win these free gifts a 20% off coupon for all your purchases at Botanic Organic through the end of September! (And even if you win, you can use it too!) If you want to see my review for two other fantastic products in this line of natural and organic skin care before you purchase, knock yourself out. Just don’t forget to use the code below before October 1st!

That’s a long time to stock up on these awesome products, so get started today to find out what you fancy so you’ll have time to get more!

Go! Now! Go!

botanic organic coupon, travel skincare


FTC DISCLOSURE: I do not have a partnership agreement with Botanic Organic, but I was given free samples of these products to try. I will not be compensated for purchases made using this coupon. All opinions are my own.

Why Soylent 2.0 is All Hype

Ok folks, I’ve been seeing ads and news stories all over the interwebs for this product Soylent 2.0, and I’m feeling the need to weigh in and set a few things straight about this product. Set up all sleek in a white recyclable plastic bottle, this thing promises to be the ultimate nutrition for Silicon Valley types who don’t want to be inconvenienced with having to stop working to eat real food.

The article that really rubbed me the wrong way was this Forbes piece about the product. It almost seems like whoever wrote this was paid by Soylent to do so, comparing the product to Ensure and McDonald’s salads. These comparisons bother me because Soylent is touting itself as a “health food,” and I would hope that even the least health-savvy among us know that McDonald’s is not a source for health food — even the salads. Ensure is also not the benchmark for meal replacement protein drinks. It’s far from the top of the line, far from anything remotely cutting edge. There are SO many protein powders and pre-mixed protein drinks on the market, it just baffles me that these were the products the Forbes writer chose to compare against Soylent.

But I digress, let’s talk about Soylent.

Admittedly the marketing is brilliant. The website is clean, the product and its packaging are white (connoting purity, cleanliness, and simplicity), and there’s a claim right on the front page of the website that the company has chosen its ingredients and practices with the environment in mind. What could be better? (LOTS of things)

soylent 2.0 is not a health food

Credit: Soylent – I didn’t ask permission, so if you want me to take it down, just let me know and I will

The Catch

First and foremost, there’s absolutely nothing special about Soylent. Health-wise and environmentally, the marketing of Soylent is misleading its consumers. Soy protein isolate, the primary ingredient, is neither a new thing, nor anything to write home about.  In fact, it’s quite possibly the least desirable, lowest quality source of protein you can buy today. It’s processed using extremely high heat to the point of denaturing the protein, stripped of its fiber content, and acid washed in aluminum tanks, rendering the final product high in aluminum

Soy is not only not a health food, it’s a monocrop of agribusiness that has taken over a massive chunk of the American farming landscape, almost entirely in the form of GMO crops. Argue all you want about whether or not GMO crops are safe for human consumption — I’m not here to debate that issue. But I will argue all day that massive expanses of monocrops sweeping the American farming landscape — especially of the GMO variety, which wrecks the soil and the ecosystem of bugs, worms, good bacteria, etc. that live in it — is in no way good for the environment. Soy protein isolate, and therefor Soylent, is not an eco-friendly product.

image sourced through Creative Commons, taken by Don O'Brien

image sourced through Creative Commons, taken by Don O’Brien

The Dangers of Soy

Soylent is marketed as a solution to the tecchy’s time crunch. It’s the food of the future — liquid nutrition high in protein and low in sugar — that you can eat on the go. Great, except that massive amounts of soy protein isolate is TERRIBLE for you. Soy protein isolate is actually the byproduct of other mass-produced soy products and is extremely difficult to digest. Far more importantly, it’s phytoestrogenic and can disrupt the balance of sex hormones in both men and women.

Soy contains endocrine-disrupting isoflavones, genistein, and diadzen, all of which have been implicated in infertility, increased cancer, and infantile leukemia. “In 1991, Japanese researchers reported that consumption of as little as 30 grams or two tablespoons of soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid-stimulating hormone. Diffuse goiter and hypothyroidism appeared in some of the subjects and many complained of constipation, fatigue, and lethargy, even though their intake of iodine was adequate.” (secondary source, primaries listed at the bottom of this article)

Do we really need people who are already sitting in front of a computer all day (a major risk factor in and of itself) to now also be at higher risk of thyroid problems, reproductive dysfunction, and cancer?

If you really want to be convinced of the dangers of soy (and the level to which processed soy protein has inundated our food supply, including infant formula, read the whole article I’ve sited above, written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig. It really drives it home. 

Awesome, Healthy Alternatives to Soylent

You didn’t think I’d finish this post on such a negative note did you? Don’t worry, I won’t leave you empty-handed if you really do want to drink your lunch to save some time. I’ve compiled a list (yes through my affiliate Amazon link) of products that are excellent alternatives to Soylent. Not only are they soy-free, they also have excellent phytonutrient profiles. Some even contain probiotics, prebiotics, and green foods, all great for gut health. And if you don’t want to take the time to blend them up, you can use this fancy little blender bottle and throw in some almond milk to shake it on the go.

soylent 2.0 is not a health food

image sourced through Creative Commons by Sandstein

Soy-Free Vegan Protein Shakes that are ACTUALLY Good for You:

Non-Vegan Options (whey):

Also, this is hilarious, and a great pre-mixed protein drink alternative:


 

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

Academic Sources:

  • Matrone, G. et al., “Effect of Genistin on Growth and Development of the Male Mouse”, Journal of Nutrition (1956) 235-240.
  • Ishizuki, Y. et al., “The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects”, Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.
  • Divi, R.L. et al., “Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean”, Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
  • Cassidy, A. et al., “Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.
  • Murphy, P.A., “Phytoestrogen Content of Processed Soybean Foods”, Food Technology, January 1982, pp. 60-64.

Indie Chocolatier Gives Willy Wonka a Run for his Money with Gracias Chocolate [GIVEAWAY]

Warning: This is a post about chocolate and I am obsessed with the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. Expect random references to and quotes from this movie throughout this post. Sorry, it couldn’t be helped.

Who doesn’t love chocolate? I mean, I suppose there are some people who don’t love chocolate, but there’s something wrong with those people. Maybe that was harsh. If you don’t like chocolate, you probably won’t care to enter the raffle at the end of this post for free chocolate (that’s ok, more for everyone else!), but you might enjoy this story about how Bay Area local chocolatier, Jessica Osterday, got her start, so I should probably stop insulting you now. Plus, you never know — once you find out that chocolate can actually be a health food, you might just jump into that chocolate river after all! (Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination!)

Willy Wonka meets Holistic Health in Jessica Osterday

Healthy Chocolate Gracias Chocolate

Jessica Osterday feeds her artistic fire by creating unique flavor combinations for her budding business Gracias Chocolate.  She uses only the best ingredients, adding nutritive touches like pure maca powder (affiliate link) and unexpected flavors like truffle oil — ingredients that aren’t typically included in your average chocolate bar that ‘give it a little kick.’ She’s passionate about the concept of chocolate as a healing food, as am I, which is why I chose to share her beautiful, hand-made chocolates with you. Also, they’re delicious — scrumdiddlyumptious even!

I asked Jessica a few questions to get the ball rolling on this post, and there were some things I thought just sounded better coming from her, so I’ll start with a quote from her before I share her story and tell you how much I love this chocolate.

“There is no doubt in my mind why my path has led me to create chocolate. I have the privilege of sharing something that makes people happy. Because chocolate has such a dynamic flavor profile, I get to engage my spontaneity and creativity, formulating different flavor experiences by adding interesting taste combinations to each bar. It is truly a pleasure to create and share more beauty with the world through chocolate.”

Gracias Chocolate: Osterday’s Golden Egg

Jessica studied massage and body healing techniques alongside her more traditional undergraduate work, which exposed her to new ideas and ways of exploring the senses — including lickable wallpaper and fizzy lifting drink (just kidding). Learning healing arts allowed her to experience her body and her life more consciously — which led to an active pursuit of creativity in all aspects of life, including food. She worked with amazing chefs and food creators who helped open and develop her palette during her studies, and eventually she caught the bug and decided to enter the world of chocolate-making.

Playing in the kitchen has inspired her unique flavor combinations, including the Citrus-Habanero with Hazelnuts and the Fig Balsamic with Black Salt, which Jessica says “have a way of opening up like time-released flavor bombs in your mouth.” What a delectable way to experience chocolate! And I can vouch for these flavor bomb combinations. This chocolate is a truly unique experience! So far, my favorite flavor is the Pecans and Nibs (pictured below), but of course, these things are subject to change at a moment’s notice — strike that! reverse it! this way please!

“Above all,” Jessica says, “I want to create an incredible taste experience with every bite of chocolate.” And on that front, she’s succeeded — without any help from Oompa Loompas.

Healthy Chocolate Gracias Chocolate

Is Chocolate Really Healthy? 

Chocolate is more than just an indulgence. It’s an actual food stuff. You’ve probably never noticed this, but candy is taxed at the grocery store, while pure chocolate isn’t. That’s because chocolate is a food, while candy is just sugar with no nutritional benefits — put another way, ‘Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.’

Well made dark chocolate retains a rich antioxidant profile, offering the same polyphenols you find in tea, red wine, certain berries, herbs, spices, and veggies. (Check out this chart that ranks foods rich in these potent phytonutrients. Cocoa powder is pretty high on that list!)

Chocolate is also thought to increase the serotonin and dopamine responses in the brain, which means eating it could give us a little boost of “happy chemicals” from time to time. 

Check the Label

Unfortunately, so much chocolate on the market today is made with unnecessary additives that can take away from the benefits of this superfood. Genetically modified soy lecithin, processed sugars, and possibly even waxes and preservatives can find their way into even the pricey chocolates on the shelves of Whole Foods Market and fancy chocolate shops. It’s on this front that Gracias Chocolate is different.

“I wanted to create a product that was pure, so that I can share the PUREST effect and the most good for our bodies through eating chocolate. We deserve to eat good food that makes us happy and helps our bodies feel good.”

Quality Counts

Jessica has chosen to sweeten each of her chocolate bars with coconut sugar and maple sugar — this might be my favorite feature of Gracias Chocolate. It has become easier to find GMO-free/soy-free chocolate chips, but even those are sweetened with processed white sugar. I love that Gracias Chocolate brings whole food sweeteners into the mix, offering a truly pure form of enjoyable chocolate.

Healthy Chocolate Gracias Chocolate

photo used from DangerousMinds.net

Gracias Chocolate is vegan (with the exception of two bars that include local honey), soy-free and gluten-free, and each bar contains 10% Maca, which is a superfood grown in the Andes that helps to heal the adrenals, balance hormones, and increase overall vitality. Gracias Chocolate gets it organic cacao from an heirloom cacao tree called Arriba Nacional, which only grows in Ecuador. All of the ingredients in their base chocolate are organic and fair trade except the maple sugar (which comes from Butternut Mountain Farm in Morrisville, Vermont) and the Himalayan Pink Salt. 

Pairing Gracias Chocolate with Food and Drink

I’ve enjoyed these chocolates after dinner for many a meal, from roasted pork butt to pesto veggie pasta, but mostly I’ve devoured them sitting on my couch doing absolutely nothing else but focusing on the flavors. I love the idea of pairing wine with chocolate, but Jessica has even better ideas in her felt top hat of chocolatey wonder and imagination.

I asked Jessica to offer some food and drink pairings for her unique chocolates, and she graciously offered some absolutely decadent suggestions. Sign up for my newsletter to receive a beautiful eCard that lists Jessica’s pairings, along with an exclusive CWB pairing featuring Gracias Dark Chocolate. (Subscribers will also receive my free eCookbook featuring deliciously unique vegan and vegetarian pumpkin recipes!)

Healthy Chocolate Gracias Chocolate

The Jackpot! The Grand and Glorious Jackpot!

The more entries you have in this raffle, the better your chances are to win, so do them all! We’re giving away two Gracias Gift Packs, which include the following bars:

  • 1 Bar Dark Chocolate
  • 1 Bar Lavender Honey with Almonds
  • 1 Bar Fig Balsamic with Black Salt
  • 1 Bar Truffle Oil and Black Salt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sprouting in the Springtime [GIVEAWAY]

Today I’m proud to be sharing another awesome product — one that I’ve been curious about for a long time. A sprouting kit! When the folks at Mercola reached out to me to share this product with you, I jumped at the chance because I’ve been wanting to grow my own sprouts to add to salads, smoothies, and stir fries for quite a long time now. This was my chance to get a kit for free, try it out, and then share my results with you!

health benefits of sprouts sprout seeds at home

Who Cares About Sprouts?

Sprouts are baby plants, just sprouted from the seed or bean, so isn’t it wasteful to munch on them before they grow into full-grown plants? Maybe not! I remember learning in school that sprouting a bean or seed unlocks the nutritional value stored inside, and that some nutrients aren’t bioavailable in the dormant seed. That makes sense to me, but for some reason it never occurred to me that a sprout might also be far more nutrient-dense than the full-grown plant as well.

Health Benefits of Sprouts

It turns out that research on the nutritional potency and protective properties (antioxidants and other phytonutrients) found in sprouts shows that all 25 of the sprout (microgreens) studied were richer in phytonutrients than their mature plant counterparts (source). Broccoli sprouts have not only been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, but also to prevent age-related macular degeneration and stomach ulcers. One prominent researcher (Juurlink) estimates that you would need to eat 20 to 50 times as much of the mature plant to get the same benefits (source). Crazy! 

“Broccoli sprouts are rich in one class of cancer protecting agents. This family of compounds or agents induce the activity of a particular class of enzymes called phase 2 enzymes. These are enzymes that assist in getting rid of or detoxifying many cancer causing chemicals in the body and increase the level of a particularly important metabolite called glutathione. As a consequence cells in the body are protected against various harmful events such as carcinogenesis, mutagenesis and other forms of toxicity and oxidative damage.” (source)

health benefits of sprouts sprout seeds at home

Here’s how my broccoli sprouts looked after I rinsed and dried them. I stored them in a plastic clam shell with a paper towel at the bottom to absorb the remaining moisture.

Sprouting Seeds at Home

This awesome sprouting kit included three bags of High Mowing Organic Sprouting seeds — broccoli, sunflower, and pea — and a sprouting tray (comes with a top to hold the soil and a bottom to hold the water). It retails for $24.85, and at the end of this post, you’ll get a chance to win one of your very own! (US Residents only)


Full disclosure: I sprouted these seeds under a grow light, but according to the packages of seeds, you can have just as much success sprouting in a sunny windowsill. I also didn’t follow the directions on the broccoli sprouts, which tells you to grow them hydroponically in a jar. I tossed them into the sprouting tray with the other much larger seeds. I learned in doing that that the tiny seeds grab dirt as they burst through the surface of the soil. Kind of annoying to wash and dry, so next time I think I’ll try the jar. 

I also learned that following the directions of how many seeds to sprout at once yielded too many sprouts all ready to eat at the same time for my two-person household. Next time I’ll probably do half of the sunflowers and peas and 1/4 of the broccoli sprouts recommended. 

How to Sprout

The process of getting these seeds started was super simple. I soaked them overnight (6 to 8 hours), rinsed them (had to rinse the broccoli seeds more often than the others), and then added them to about 1.5 inches of potting soil in the top sprouting tray. Then I covered them with another thin layer of soil, filled the bottom tray with water, stacked the trays, and set them under the grow light. It only took 24 hours before I started to see a few little green specks peeking through. It took about a week for the full-grown sprouts to be ready to eat. Here’s a video that shows you the step by step process. I didn’t place the heavy objects on top of the seeds, but I’ll try that next time to see if I get thicker sprouts.

 

 

 See more on sprouting and the health benefits of sprouts from Dr. Mercola here 

Raffle Time!*

The kit we’re raffling off does not include Dr. Mercola’s Sprout Doctor, but I had great success with just plain organic potting soil. You can also purchase the Sprout Doctor advertised in the video above of you want to try that. 

Your kit will include:

  • 1 bag High Mowing Organic broccoli seeds
  • 1 bag High Mowing Organic sunflower seeds
  • 1 bag High Mowing Organic pea shoot seeds
  • sprouting trays (top and bottom)

Get Ready to Get Social!

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Simplify Your Skincare: Double Cleansing with Botanic Organic [GIVEAWAY]

How do you choose your skincare products?

In the sea of choices on the shelves at Ulta or even Walgreens, where do you begin? How do you know what will work for you, what could irritate, what could trigger a breakout, what could be too drying, too oily, what could be the magic elixir? This is a challenging question even for those with perfect skin. And if you have skin problems like I did growing up, then you’ve also seen the sea of products at the aesthetician’s office AND the dermatologist’s office. Could these expensive potions be the answer to your troubles? What about all the choices at a natural store like Whole Foods? Their Whole Body section displays hundreds of products you won’t find at any beauty supply or pharmacy. The possibilities are endless — and overwhelming!

Botanic Organic Skincare

A New Challenge

As someone who’s struggled with my skin for the larger part of my life, I can safely say I’ve tried just about everything at all of those places I mentioned in hopes of curing my acne. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on products and treatments, and in the end my solution was to heal my skin from the inside out

Once I cleared my acne, I had a whole new conundrum in the beauty aisle. What products should I choose to actually nourish my skin now that I can focus on something other than clearing the acne? Did I really have sensitive skin, or had it just been so inflamed for so long that I had to choose products to accommodate that? What will help with the scarring? With the sun spots? What will smooth out the few remaining rough patches and keep my skin supple and hydrated? 

I was back to square one with way too many choices, but I knew one thing for sure. I wanted my next skincare products to be super clean and organic with simple, nourishing ingredients. Most natural foods advocates live by this advice: “Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.” In living by that rule for food and skincare, I take it one step further.

Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.

Our skin is our biggest organ. It protects us from the outside world, but it also absorbs what we slather onto it. When we expose our skin to lotions and potions, we’re inviting all of those ingredients to seep in. Doesn’t it make sense that we should want the best for our bodies and our skin? 

Simplify by Going Natural

My first step was to pare down to the bare minimum. For about a year, I used a gentle vitamin C foaming cleanser, raw honey, witch hazel, and coconut oil. It was a fine regimen, but I found that the honey got messy and sticky when I didn’t use it in the shower, and sometimes the coconut oil got a bit greasy, which made me want to skip it in the mornings, leaving my skin a bit tight from the cleanser. For a while I tried oil cleansing with the coconut oil. It works great for removing eye makeup, but I found myself using twice as many face towels (and I already use a lot!), and I just got tired of doing it after a while. I wasn’t dissatisfied with my skincare regimen, but I wasn’t raving about it either. Now I’m ready to rave.

Botanic Organic Skincare

Botanic Organic: So Clean You Could Eat It

These seemingly simple products found me more than I found them, it seems. I was invited to a San Francisco women’s entrepreneur event in February, and Nancy Newsom had a table there where she was peddling her thoughtfully packaged skincare wares. We got to talking, and when I mentioned my blog, she offered me a few free samples to try. A week into using them, I knew I’d found my new favorite skincare line and purchased full-sized products so I wouldn’t miss a day.

Nancy has created products that fit my needs perfectly, but it turns out, that’s by design. Here’s a quote from Nancy: 

Based on the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the organic compounds found in raw, plant-based ingredients create amazingly complex whole foods for skin. They are as beneficial in helping balance young, blemish prone skin as they are in nourishing and repairing mature, environmentally damaged skin.

Botanic Organic’s skin care philosophy is to calm the skin using anti-inflammatory, nutrient rich, plant-based ingredients that will gently coax your skin back into balance. With your skin back in balance, it can continue its natural process of self-healing. It’s pretty incredible to witness how the same ingredients can help seemingly very different skin conditions. 

Double Cleansing

The two products I’m sharing with you today are the Tangerine and Lemon Facial Cleansing Oil and the Honey & Licorice Daily Cleansing Grains. Using the double cleansing method with these two products has revolutionized my evening routine, and the effects on my skin are obvious not only to me but to the people who see me every day.

Botanic Organic Skincare

The cleansing grains double as an exfoliator/cleanser but are gentle enough to use every day — and they include the benefits of honey without the mess. Licorice is great for calming inflammation and evening out skin tone — something my skin surely needs after years of abuse and sun damage. You can also use the grains as a mask, which I do in my morning shower. I pour a little pile of grains into the palm of my hand, add a few drops of water, mix into a paste, and massage into my face. Instead of rinsing right away, I do my whole shower routine with the grains on my face, and then rinse them off before I get out. It’s a perfect system!

The one thing I’d change about the packaging would be to add some sort of plastic barrier to slow the grains down when you pour them into your hand. With the big opening, you run the risk of dumping out too much, and once it’s wet, you really should use it right away. 

The cleansing oil has really been a game changer for me though. It’s a fantastic makeup remover, but it also feels deeply nourishing when I massage it into my skin. When I’ve oil cleansed in the past with coconut oil or even olive oil, I’ve always felt a little grimy afterwards, but this rinses off cleanly while leaving enough moisture behind to still feel soft and hydrated. I love it. 

Botanic Organic Discount AND Giveaway!

In fact, I love these products so much I want to share the wealth! To receive a 20% discount on all your purchases through the end of April, sign up for my newsletter and get a coupon right in your inbox once you confirm your email! Everyone who’s already subscribed will receive an email with the coupon code TODAY, so be on the lookout!

Nancy at Botanic Organic has also agreed to raffle off 2 sets of these glorious products in their largest sizes (a $39 value)!! All you have to do is give us your first-born child. Just kidding! We just want you to spread the love through social media. Check out the Rafflecopter below to learn how to enter to win.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE RAFFLE! FOR SOME REASON RAFFLECOPTER AND WORDPRESS AREN’T GETTING ALONG

Everyone who enters will also receive a coupon for 20% off on all your purchases at Botanic Organic through April 30, 2015 via email.

The Dish on Muffin Revolution [Interview]

Meandering through the aisles of Whole Foods Market recently, I was THRILLED to see a Muffin Revolution demo happening in the freezer section. I’ve been trying to replicate my favorite muffin of theirs for quite some time, and this was my chance to beg them to share their secrets.

What’s Muffin Revolution, you ask? It’s an East Bay homespun muffin-making bonanza that changes everything you’ve ever thought about a muffin! I’ve been on board with these delicious, nutritious treats from the jump — the ladies who started Muffin Revolution are members of my climbing gym, and that’s where the muffins got their start. The first time I saw them, I may or may not have yelled “BRILLIANT!” at the top of my lungs … no one can be sure. The climbing gym can be a loud place after all.

Muffin-Obsessed

I’ve gone through phases of eating an MR muffin 3 or 4 times a week, grabbing one on my way out the door of the gym to save for breakfast the next morning (or more frequently two muffins if I knew the one intended for breakfast wasn’t going to make it all the way home). The gym brilliantly allows us to just charge muffins to our account, which makes it much easier to grab and go as you’re leaving. I love these muffins because they’re more than just a sweet treat. They’re a meal in a muffin. I can eat one for breakfast and not need anything til lunch. They’re made almost exclusively with paleo-friendly ingredients, so they’re a snack you can feel good about eating. It was no surprise to me at all when I learned that the cofounders were both professionally trained holistic chefs. These are not your average muffins.

Muffin Revolution

When I realized my favorite muffins had become so popular that they were gracing the aisles of the Whole Foods freezer section, I literally jumped with joy! It always makes me so happy to see products I love doing so well. 

Enthralled in a conversation about our mutual Italian heritage and passion for making nutrient-dense meals, co-founder Marirose Piciucco and I decided that we should sit down and talk for an official CWB muffin exclusive. She invited me to the Muffin Revolution kitchen (YES PLEASE!), showed me the AMAZING walk-in oven (they call it the Hansel and Gretel), and gave me the low-down on her budding business. As we talked, Christy Kovacs (co-founder) and Allyson, an intern from Bauman College’s Holistic Chef program came in to start the day’s work. Christy chimed in midway through, so you’ll hear from her too.  

Background: The Seeds of a Muffin Revolution

CWB: You went to Bauman College and got your Holistic Chef Certification. Can you tell me how what you learned there has influenced your decisions in muffin design? 

MP:  If it weren’t for Bauman, we probably wouldn’t have come up with the paleo muffins. Every bite should count, and it should taste good – grain-free, gluten-free doesn’t have to “taste healthy.” We really focus on nutrient density in our products, but we didn’t start out all paleo.

Christy and I met at Bauman. We had similar cooking styles and were drawn to partner in the kitchen. When we graduated, we taught cooking classes. Our focus was nutrient density, social issues, and environmental issues – especially in teaching kids. “Here’s an animal on your plate. Where did it come from and how did it get here?” We weren’t bakers when we started, we were chefs. 

Christy (left) and Marirose (right) met in Holistic Chef school at Bauman College

Christy (left) and Marirose (right) met in Holistic Chef school at Bauman College

CWB: How did you go from chefs to bakers? 

MP: We were at the climbing gym when we came up with the idea. We thought “Wouldn’t it be great to have a product to eat at the gym that was more satisfying than a bar? Something portable?” We wanted to feed hikers, climbers, outdoors-people. We started with the idea of a savory muffin – better than a sandwich, more satisfying than a bar, and you can throw it in a backpack and go. We really meshed the cooking and the baking by starting out with something savory.

We started in my home kitchen, where we were teaching cooking classes, and brought them to the gym so our friends could try them. After a while, the gym manager offered to let us start selling them there. The grain-free paleo muffin started about a year after we launched the brand at the gym. We tested at farmers markets and found that people really enjoyed the different flavors. The paleo muffins appealed to a bigger audience than the savory ones did – gluten-free, grain-free, but familiar. As the paleo muffins became more popular, we phased out the savory muffins. 

From Hobby to Business

CBW: What was the turning point for Muffin Revolution? I mean, when did it blossom from a hobby into a business idea?

MP: That’s a good question. I’d say once we got our 4th account and started getting Yelp reviews, it started to feel real. Someone set up a Yelp page for us – we didn’t even set it up ourselves. Christy? What would you say?

Christy: I think it was when we started working with Whole Foods that we went from “test-mode” to “business-mode.”

CWB: Yes, tell me about the process with Whole Foods, and congratulations on that! So exciting!

MP: We had never had dreamed of grocery stores, but when we were in a shared muffin revolutioncommercial kitchen, we found out about the Next Entrepreneur Conference, put on by Whole Foods. We applied. Weeks and weeks past, but we were eventually invited to come.

They asked us to do a mock-up of how we’d sell in a grocery store — we had no idea — but Christy’s also an artist. She came up with a mock-up. We went and bought just four clam shells and set up examples. This thing was at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland – it was a HUGE event, we hadn’t realized what we signed up for. Every contact we could possibly want was in this room with us, regional buyers, distributors, it was amazing. It hadn’t even occurred to us in our wildest dreams that Whole Foods would’ve been a possibility for us. The head of grocery came by and told us that they had 600 applications and they only accepted 30!

CWB: Wow!! That must have felt pretty good! 

MP: I thought, “Do we get to scream now or later?!” It was so exciting. The head of frozen foods came by and said he could see our muffins in frozen and in the bakery section, so he called the bakery guy over. We watched them discuss how our product would fit on the Whole Foods shelves — it was surreal! They were especially excited about the paleo muffin we brought with us. A couple of weeks later, we set up a meeting with Brad the frozen foods guy. After that meeting, we got in the elevator and just started screaming!!

CWB: So it was time to ramp up then!

muffin revolution

Christy (right) and Bauman Intern Allyson (left) preparing the raw ingredients for some Yam Good muffins

MP: Absolutely. We thought, “How do we go from working in my kitchen and this shared space to finding our own, dedicated gluten-free space?” The founder of Berkeley Kitchens [Jonah Hendrickson] offered us his last open space, and we really had to make a decision about sinking a lot of money into this business. We needed the capacity to grow, so we put our own money into it. We bought all the equipment in our kitchen ourselves. 

Christy: [Jonah] was really careful in his application process – he told us he wanted companies that could be the “next Cliff bar.” This kitchen model is unique, because there are all these individual kitchens with all our own needs and special equipment. We couldn’t be a certified gluten-free space til we moved here.

CWB: So this was a major piece of the puzzle then — being certified gluten-free is huge. And the rest is history?

MP: Ha, no. It’s been a long journey. Whole Foods really walked us through the process of getting up and running with them. They were so helpful, offering wholesale vendor connections, showing us the ropes. We realized this wasn’t just something we could sell at cafés and gyms, this was something that could be really big. There really are no grain-free paleo options at grocery stores right now.

Advice for an Aspiring Entrepreneur

CWB: What advice would you give a home chef looking to replicate your business model with a food project of her own?

Christy: What was helpful for us starting out was, we just kind of became the “muffin ladies.” Marirose was friends with everyone at the gym, and we brought samples all the time. We just let the world know, “Hey, this is what we’re doing,” and the connections just came. We were always at the gym, so it just made sense to start it there.

MP: For me, it’s realizing that you have to take that leap of faith and take a risk on yourself. Have faith in your product. If people are telling you over and over that they love what you’re doing, then you’re doing something right. There’s a point in a small business where you have to take risks. You have to take a risk on yourself and have faith in your product. muffin revolution

And do what you know – even though paleo wasn’t what we knew, we knew nutrient-density. We knew we wanted to use excellent ingredients. We knew the culture of an active person and the kind of thing they might want as a snack. It would make no sense for the two of us to make mint candy. We aren’t mint candy people. 

Christy: There were a lot of discouraging times in our journey. We walked up and down the street by the gym and asked people to try our muffins and every single person said no. So many discouraging days at the farmers market, and it’s such hard work. We’d work for 4 hours to make 24 muffins and then go deliver, and it was really hard. Just never give up.

MP: Having a business partner really helps, because you can tag team. When one person is getting down, the other can lift her up. It’s really hard to do alone. When we’re down, we remind ourselves that there was a time when we were only making 24 muffins.

Not only having your own business, but having a food business, sometimes the obstacles feel insurmountable. Our product requires a lot of expensive ingredients. As a small business, we’re just getting to the point where we can start ordering things in pallets, but the raw materials we use are pricey. When almonds get more expensive, it really affects us.

And the Berkeley permitting process was a nightmare. I always joke (but I’m serious!!) that you need a degree, a license, and a suit to represent someone on death row, but to make a muffin in Berkeley?? By the time everything was done, inspections completed, it was February of last year.

Now it’s exciting because we have cafés calling us asking if they can offer our muffins. At this point, we’re selling at 6 Whole Foods, 4 Andronicos, 2 Berkeley Bowls, and Alameda Natural Grocery. And we’ve done all of this without financial backing. That’s our next step. 

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Favorites and Passions

CWB: What’s your favorite muffin?

MP: Right now my favorite paleo muffin is the vegan 24 Carrot Gold. We make that one as a cake with cream cheese frosting for folks sometimes. Grain-free, it has to be the Home for the Holidays. Every time I eat it, I just think, “Man that’s a good muffin!” I love the Hulk too. I really don’t eat the muffins all that much anymore, but there’s just something about the spirulina in the Hulk. It also has banana, date, and yerba mate. It just makes me happy.

CWB: Let’s talk about Home for the Holidays. I’m obsessed with this muffin – I’ve made multiple attempts at replicating it at home, and I’ve come close but it’s never as good as yours. What’s your secret?

MP: It’s the only one with cane sugar in it. We keep toying with the idea of changing the sugar source to make it paleo, but people just love it so much we don’t want to change it. We’re probably going to roll that one out next in the grocery stores, that and the 24 Carrot Gold.

muffin revolution

Home for the Holidays – a muffin that just might change your life

CWB: In my cursory research (a Google search of your name), I found that you worked with kids in the kitchen. Is that still happening?

MP: It’s done for now. We loved it while it lasted. Our cooking classes were really different because we wanted to draw attention not only to the cooking aspect and creativity of it, but the political, social justice, and environmental implications of the foods we eat. We really wanted to get that message across to kids.

We never cooked with kids like they were kids. I don’t think we give kids enough credit. Especially having them in the kitchen, having them involved in the process – if they own it, they’ll eat it. Kids think they don’t like something, but if they make it themselves, they’ll eat it. I’d have one say, “I don’t like beans,” so we’d put him in charge of the beans, and at the end he’d say, “I still don’t like beans, only these.” And then we send them home with the recipe.

The kids are the gateway to the family – if they’ll eat it, the family will eat it. Suddenly the whole family is eating better. I still love talking about it, I still love it. My son was part of it, and he’s 16 now. He still cooks and he can do so much in the kitchen on his own. Hopefully we’ve raised a group of kids who can do that and understand why we don’t eat things like mango every day – because it travels a long way, for example.

muffin revolution

CWB: Ok, I love your muffins, and I could talk about food all day long, but what about climbing? How’d you get started climbing and do you have time for it anymore now that MR has taken off?

MP: I had joined the gym just to work out, and after a while I eventually got up the nerve to start climbing. I had been working a lot on getting out of my comfort zone, and this was one such instance. Christy joined right after, and we began climbing together. We still do climb, Christy more than me these days as I hurt my back (not climbing or in the kitchen). I still climb, just not as often as before. 

CWB: I’d love to hear about some of your other passions. Christy, you mentioned you were an artist? 

Christy: Yep! I weave photographs together on a large-scale. My website’s not so great right now, but I show my work at Vessel Gallery in Oakland on 25th Street. The end product is pretty big — I hand cut everything, and it takes me about 40 hours to finish each piece.

CWB: And you designed the Muffin Revolution logo? Tell me how it came to be.

muffin revolutionChristy: The concept for the logo came to us when we were sitting in Marirose’s kitchen having martinis one night. We were talking about our company name — we had started with “Eat Wisely” and we realized that it really didn’t say anything about our product. We got ourselves worked up about what we were doing with our muffins, that we were changing the way people would think about muffins — we were revolutionizing the muffin. And at the same time we said, “It’s a MUFFIN REVOLUTION!” And the brand was born. 

We knew we wanted a socialist fist, but that’s kind of a cliché image — it’s used so much. The fist is also kind of a violent symbol, and we wanted a nurturing message, not a violent one. We wanted it to be loving, so I made the hands the shape of a heart. And in the word “Revolution,” we made “love” spelled backwards in red. It’s also the first few letters of the word “evolve,” which we liked as part of our messaging. The tagline “Rise up!’ is kind of a double entendre: muffins rise, but we’re starting a revolution too. 

CWB: And you Marirose? You mentioned something about a non-profit in the Congo when we were planning our meeting time. What’s your non-profit called and what’s it all about?

MP: It’s called The Ring Project. The idea came to me in the middle of the night in the midst of my divorce. I thought, “How can I make something positive out of this?” I came from an asylum background — I was an immigration lawyer in my past life — and this work is a big passion of mine.

I decided to start a non-profit where divorced women could donate their diamond rings to help women in the Congo. The idea is to work in the system that’s already there. We don’t want to create something new that might not work for the Congolese people.  They know best. One idea is to send interested women to law school so they can help seek justice for other women in their community.

Verunga, a documentary about a national park in the Congo and its importance to the community, really illustrates some of the problems there – it was just up for an Oscar. We’re going to partner with a group that provides assistance to the widows and kids of fallen park rangers. We’re hoping to develop a program to teach the widows skills to help them support themselves. Down the road, when we’re able to do it, we’re going to contribute part of the proceeds of a future Muffin Revolution project (paleo granola) to the nonprofit. 

A Day Well-Spent

Marirose and Christy sent me home with a belly full of muffins and a freezer bag full of “reject muffins,” which I gleefully accepted. Some were too big to sell, some too small, all are going into my belly. Well, maybe I’ll share some with Loren. Maybe. I will proclaim now that I know what kind of birthday cake I want next year! Let it be known! 

2015-03-27 08.29.43

I have to say that talking with these women was so inspiring. To see something go from a tiny operation selling at my gym to the freezer aisle of Whole Foods and to get a behind-the-scenes look at how it all came to pass was an awesome opportunity. I can’t wait to see these muffins sweep the nation, and I can’t wait for Muffin Revolution paleo granola to come to market either! 

CWB readers in the SF Bay Area can count their lucky stars today, because Marirose and Christy have agreed to give us a discount code for their muffins on Good Eggs. 

muffin revolution

Oh, and one more thing! Oakland Museum is celebrating Women’s History Month. In partnership with Whole Foods, Muffin Revolution is one of 5 women-owned food businesses participating in a Makers & Tasters event there TONIGHT, 6-8pm. There is also Off The Grid going on outside the museum.

My First Voloom [Product Review]

Ok, so what I’m about to share with you is really my second Voloom.

My first Voloom was at BlogHer14 right on the trade show floor. I walked up to this booth where a woman was using what looked like an 80’s style crimper on the under layers of another woman’s hair. When she was done, she unclipped the top layers and let them fall over the areas she was working on. The result? Volume. And lots of it. The crimper contraption was called Voloom, and it wasn’t actually crimping. The hot iron on the inside actually looked like a waffle iron. Applying it to the undersides of the hair was like creating an instant “tease” affect. But no tangles. Oh, and no product. NONE. Zero sticky, greasy, cakey, smelly product. None. I was intrigued.

Here’s what my hair looked like after my first Voloom

voloom

This was the work of someone else standing over me clipping my hair up and working on the under sides. Essentially, this is what it looks like to ‘get it done.’ My task in this review was to be able to do it myself! In a weird stroke of luck, I happened to receive my free Voloom three days before a scheduled cut and color. After nailing it with my long hair, I tried to Voloom again with my much MUCH shorter hair, and I’d say that while it was slightly less successful, it wasn’t bad. You can be the judge I guess.

voloom product review

My Voloomed hair pre-haircut

 

voloom product review

post-haircut Voloom. You be the judge. Not terrible, maybe a little too short to use in the back

Why am I reviewing a Beauty Product?

That’s a great question. After all, this is a health and wellbeing blog. It’s about what’s on the inside that counts, right? Yes, of course what’s on the inside counts, but it works both ways, doesn’t it? Doesn’t how you feel on the inside get reflected on the outside? And isn’t the opposite also true? If you look and feel beautiful in your skin (and hair in this case), doesn’t that just put a little extra pep in your step? I’ll circle back to the inside/outside thing in a second.

First, let me tell you about my typical hair habits.

WARNING: This is honest, full disclosure. If you think this is gross, I don’t care.

I don’t like to wash my hair every day. Or every other day. And I go to the gym basically every day. In a typical week, I’ll wash my hair on a Friday night, spend Saturday and Sunday gardening, hiking, climbing, or some combination, go to work on Monday, to TRX and climbing on Monday night, and THEN wash my hair again. Tuesdays, I usually climb, Wednesdays, I TRX and climb, and Thursday is just so darn close to Friday… you get the idea. I don’t like to wash my hair every day for a few reasons. 

  1. It dries out my hair and strips it of the natural oils that keep it healthy (and this is true for everyone whether you think I’m gross or not).
  2. I’m lazy.
  3. I don’t have time to wash and dry it every day.
  4. I could make time, but I prefer to sleep. Or do anything else really.

Because I don’t like to wash my hair every day, I try to avoid putting any product in it that could make it dirty more quickly, or more importantly, combine with my sweat and roll down my face to cause a potential acne explosion. Since I cured my acne earlier this year, the fragility of the state of my face has dramatically decreased, but I’m still careful not to add any unnecessary variables to the situation. I’m not always great about removing my makeup before a workout, but if I can avoid sweating hair product into my eyes or down my cheeks, I will. And I do. 

So back that question: Why am I reviewing a beauty product? 

Because this beauty product is PERFECT for the Active, Clean-Living Woman!

Did Voloom ask me to say that? No. Did they give me a free Voloom so I could review it? Yes. That’s where it ends. I could structure this however I wanted to. And that’s how I feel. This thing is rad. It took me 5 minutes or less to Voloom my own hair. Because I was going to work and not to a wedding or fancy party, I didn’t shoot for the stars to achieve maximum volume. I achieved an every day look that lasted through my TRX and climbing night on Monday. I worked out once and went another full day after that with my Voloomed hair before having it washed yesterday at my hair appointment. It was awesome!

One more time: ZERO teasing or backcombing. ZERO hair product.

(No promises here, but I’m crossing my fingers that the folks at Voloom will provide me with a discount code for my newsletter subscribers who want to pick one up. I put the question in but haven’t gotten an answer back just yet, and I wanted to get this review out before the Thanksgiving holiday.)

Another thing

Hair products can have some funky ingredients in them that you don’t want absorbing into your skin and coursing through your body. Remember that whole idea of not putting anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put into your mouth? This styling iron removes the need for one more product on your shelf that could potentially cause your body or skin some upset. 

I’m going to bring my Voloom home to Texas for the holidays and make my mom try it. She’s the queen of tease in Big-Hair Texas Land. When I told her about this product, she said, “I don’t have time for that.” I plan to bust right through that myth with a personalized demonstration, because this thing is not only going to save her serious time, it will prevent all that damaging teasing/back-combing too! 

Voloom product review

Yes, this is actually my mom. And Yes, this is actually what she does to her hair before she goes out. She chills it out a bit before entering the world, but not by much! Don’t you think she could use a Voloom?

So there you have it. That’s my review for Voloom. I love this product.

Garden of Life Raw Fit Review and GIVEAWAY!

Hi again. I have to be honest that I was disappointed in the turnout for last week’s Garden of Life Raw Meal giveaway, but I think it was my fault. It was my first time using the Rafflecopter widget, and I think my big mistake was making the time to enter too short. SO, this week, we’re giving away what’s left of the Raw Meal AND the Raw Fit, which I’m reviewing today.

Garden of Life Raw Fit Review Raffle GiveawayGarden of Life Raw Fit

As you know from last week’s review of Raw Meal, I am not a big “supplement person,” but I’m happy to share that the Garden of Life protein powders are a rare exception. This particular product is designed to assist in a weight management plan and can replace one to two meals per day. It’s low in sugar, high in fiber and protein, and it contains the famously touted green coffee bean extract that’s been all the rage these days for assistance in weight loss. The active ingredient in green coffee bean extract is called chlorogenic acid, and it’s claimed to aid in weight loss by altering how the body responds to sugar. 

Full disclosure:

After all the press about Dr. Oz endorsing green coffee bean extract and then finding out the study he advertised had some inaccurate information, I was hesitant to review this product. I checked out the information on WebMD about green coffee beans, and it didn’t really give me much more confidence about its effectiveness, but it did say that it was considered a safe additive. In other words, they aren’t as sure as they once were that it’s a miracle weight loss aid, but it’s likely not harmful to try it out. That made me feel more confident in recommending Raw Fit based on the other ingredients in the product that are more established to aid in weight management. The jury might still be out on green coffee, but there’s no question about the remaining ingredients in Raw Fit. There is no such thing as a miracle in weight loss. Without proper diet and exercise, it simply won’t happen.

Garden of Life actually offers a plan to supplement this product and maximize results, which you can check out here. <—

Ingredients

Garden of Life Raw Fit Review Raffle GiveawayChromium and Cinnamon are both clinically proven to promote healthy blood sugar levels and fat loss, and both are included in Raw Fit, which I love. I’ve personally recommended both of these supplements to a number of clients over the years, especially those who have metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

Digestive Aids – both enzymes and probiotics are included in this formula to promote healthy digestion. The more efficient your digestion, the better your ability to absorb nutrients and ultimately lose weight. Enzymes aid in digestion at the beginning of the process in the mouth and stomach. They break down the food you eat into constituents small enough for your intestines to handle. The healthy bacteria in the large intestine finish the job by aiding in absorption of the remaining nutrients in the foods you eat. Adding beneficial bacteria (probiotics) into the system through food and supplements can help maintain the balance of bacteria in the colon. 

Stress Management with Ashwagandha – I’ve learned repeatedly over the last few years that people don’t like hearing about the relationship between stress and weight. Unfortunately, it’s undeniable that stress affects our physiology, and does indeed create a barrier to weight loss, especially middle body weight. Cortisol, a key stress hormone (which is necessary in small amounts), is partially responsible for that difficulty. Ashwagandha, an ayurvedic herb, is included in Raw Fit as a holistic approach to alleviate stress and regulate cortisol levels in the body.

How I Made My Raw Fit

I used the Marley Coffee Raw Fit for my taste test, and I found that it was at its best with almond milk and 1/2 a banana. Because of the extremely low sugar content of Raw Fit, I was ok with adding the banana, but depending on how strict you want to be or how ambitious your weight loss goals and timeline are will depend on whether or not you want to add it to your own. 

1 scoop + 10-12 oz of almond milk (a little more than they recommend) + 1/2 banana

GIVEAWAY!! Enter the Raffle Below for Your FREE Jar of Raw Fit or Raw Meal!

Ok folks, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! This raffle is for BOTH the Raw Meal AND the Raw Fit. Let’s get this party started!

You have until Halloween day to get your entries in, so tell your friends, spread the word, take advantage of all your chances to win, and get excited!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 FTC DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored product review post, which means I received this product for free in exchange for this post and may be compensated for my work. All opinions are my own. I offer full transparency in all product and business reviews and only recommend products I actually use.

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